Friday, February 18, 2011

The Domesticating of the Shrew

Today I got my authentic Christchurch earthquake experience; at 7:43am this morning, I was sitting at my desk in my room, and suddenly the bookcase began to shake, along with the desk surface, my chair, and the loft bed. I had just enough time to think, "Oh, my, we're having an earthquake! I hope it's just an aftershock... let's see if it gets any bigger", and then it was over... I figure it lasted about three seconds at the most. According to the GeoNet website, it was a 3.8 magnitude, at a depth of 8km, occurred 10 km southwest of Christchurch, and has been assigned reference number 3466477. I imagine for some people this morning the earthquake gave new meaning to the phrase "being shaken awake!"

Out in the garden this morning, my first task was to spread pea-hay over some newly sprouted seedlings, and then weed another patch directly adjacent to the seedlings so Penelope could plant lettuce, carrots, and radishes. I turned the soil and trucked over several buckets of compost... one thing's for sure, it's a lot easier to work the soil here than it was up at Howard and Rosemarie's in Nelson; this garden is far, far less stony!

After a little bit of time spent weeding the garden pathway, I turned my attention to the herb garden; more specifically, to the sage, rosemary, and mint plants, that were running wild all over the zucchini and bean plants. Armed with clippers and lopers, I pruned the dead branches out from underneath the sage, attacked the rosemary and brought it back under control (there was a whole dead section under one side that wasn't even visible under all the new growth!), and showed no mercy when it came to removing the mint plant; I pulled up runner after runner, root clump after root clump. Now all that remains is a small mint patch about a sixth of the plant's original area coverage; all of the herbs I pruned back have now been bunched and strung up in the rafters of the living/dining room here in the house by Ilya to dry.

After lunch an increasingly irate Penelope took an increasingly-lazy Ilya downtown (he needed to run some errands for his ginger beer business; the problem was, he slept away most of the morning, despite Penelope's repeated requests for him to get up and make himself useful in the garden), and I stayed at home and made a banana cake from six mushy bananas that were threatening to turn into a putrid goo on the fruit plate. I'm not much of an innate baker (too little practise), but I can follow a recipe reasonably well, and the cake was a success. My one mistake was in not letting the cake cool down enough; I iced it with lemon icing (made using freshly-squeezed lemon juice from a lemon growing on the tree outside!) when it was still slightly warm, causing some of the icing to drip down the sides. Edward looked at it and said dryly, "Ah, a global warming cake!"

Edward is actually one to know about such environmental issues; he is currently leading a crusade to halt the proposed damning project on the Hurunui River, which seeks to damn the river, raise the water levels in Lake Sumner, and use the excess water for irrigation. Like all controversial projects, the amount of misinformation flying around from corporations and politicians with vested interests is significant, and Edward has been working tirelessly to beat them at their own game, exposing the flaws and blatant lies in the "official" analyses. Tonight he has headed up to stay at his and Penelope's cabin at Loch Katrina, near Lake Sumner, and tomorrow with a colleague will be collecting data using a GPS system to refute the claims of minimal ecological damage the Hurunui Water Project pundits claim will occur if the dam is built. I have my own small part to play in this environmental crusade, but for reasons of privacy I'll keep it off the internet. Suffice it to say I'm trying to do something to help him fight this fight.

While my cake was in the oven I called my mom to discuss some final details about accommodation here in New Zealand, and had her give me her pancake recipe so I could try again to make her pancakes. Owing to a combination of having the correct proportions of ingredients, and lightly greasing the frying pan, I succeeded this time in crafting perfectly acceptable pancakes. I must say, with so much time spent in the kitchen today, I was almost domesticated.

I had just finished flipping the last two pancakes in the pan when Penelope came home, hiding a frustrated foul mood; she had dropped Ilya off downtown, and he had instructed her he would just be "two minutes"... she waited for fifteen before driving off, and by then one of the stores she wanted to visit had closed, and as such she now has to make a special trip in tomorrow to purchase lime for the new compost she and I are going to make tomorrow morning. Things were a little hectic and tense around here this evening, as Edward got ready to go to the lake, Penelope stewed about Ilya's laziness and inconsiderate nature while making dinner, and I tried to both stay out of the way and help at the same time.

After dinner Penelope finally got Ilya to do something; he put bread dough into bread tins and then put them in the oven to bake (and then conveniently forgotten they were in there; thankfully, Penelope caught them before they burned). Malcolm came home, and he, Ilya, and I enjoyed a few laughs over clips from Big Bang Theory and Corner Gas (it was amusing when Malcolm thought Saskatchewan and Saskatoon were the same thing, just pronounced differently. I learned him!).

It's 11:30pm, and I'm going to head to bed now. I believe I have a date with the mulcher and compost in the morning. Goodnight!


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