As I type this the cat Kismet is curled up on my lap (I'm sitting on the couch), and I can hear a train lumbering past, on its way through the tunnel to the Lyttelton Harbour. Ah, a cat on the lap and a train outside... life is almost perfect.
Well, not entirely perfect. There is a garden outside full of vineweed, as I discovered when I stepped into battle with it this morning. My goal? To trim the shoots from the base of the plum tree, weed all around the tree, and rescue a poor peach tree sapling from being completely engulfed by vineweed. I'm happy to report that after three and a half solid hours of effort this morning, I succeeded. I also found a rhubarb plant and a parsley plant nearly buried under self-seeded potatoes... now the potato vines are in a huge pile for the compost, their tubers collected and stored in a brown paper bag in the kitchen to be eaten at a later date, and the rhubarb and parsley plants free to grow, safely surrounded by a makeshift circle of old, broken bricks.
I should also mention some of the interesting things I dug out of the garden today: a metre-long piece of hosepipe, half a dozen shards of pottery, a fragment of shoulder-blade bone (possibly from a dog), three pieces of twisted wire, and a broken clothespin. It's kind of like having my own little archaeological site, although I won't start laying out a square grid until I start unearthing buildings or human remains. ;-)
This morning Penelope went out and did a grocery shop, so now the house is stocked with fresh bread and vegetables. The fresh eggs will have to wait until tomorrow, when the egg lady comes (free range eggs, yum), and the milk delivery will be on Friday; Penelope is part of what she calls a "black market" milk exchange, where they get raw milk (unpasteurised) right from the farmer, a process that (I believe) is technically illegal here in New Zealand (I know it's illegal to sell raw milk in Canada). Penelope and her family have been drinking it for years, I've been drinking it for three days now and I feel fine, and the milk tastes the same to me, anyway, so I'm sure all is well.
Around noon I came inside to help Penelope put the groceries away and then help her start canning peaches; I was responsible for washing and slicing the peaches, and then putting them in the canning jars, while Penelope made lunch (mince with carrots and onion, and rice, millet, potatoes, and cooked beans on the side) and sterilized the jar lids, then added the sugar water solution to the full canning jars. By the time I was finished slicing enough peaches to fill eight jars it was nearly 1:30pm, and I was very hungry indeed. At times like that it's nice that Penelope chooses to have dinner (the heaviest meal of the day) at midday instead of in the evening.
Just as we were getting ready to eat, Malcolm woke up; the poor guy didn't get home until 4am last night, and the rocket launch ended up being cancelled today; they were having too many problems with the parachute ejection mechanism (it's no good to have your payload crash to the earth due to a faulty parachute). To boost his somewhat deflated (no pun intended) spirits, I played for him the Arrogant Worms' song Malcolm, and he got a kick out of it.
After lunch Penelope went into town to see some of her clients, and I did the dishes, a load of laundry, brought in and folded the previous load of laundry, then hung out the new laundry, and spent several hours on my computer doing more trip planning and accommodation booking for my parents' New Zealand adventure. I called my mom and we had a forty-five minute conversation where I explained everything I had booked so far, and we discovered that we both had Lonely Planet guides to New Zealand, and neither of us knew the other had one! I have accommodation booked now for all the nights except two right at the end, and those should hopefully fall into place within the next day or so.
This evening I finally finished reading Dune... after starting it in October, and then re-starting it again in Jauary on the Heaphy Track, I can finally say I am done. Except I'm not done... the way Frank Herbert structured the ending, it felt more like a beginning, and now I'm feeling an urge to either a) re-read Dune and see how many plot intricacies I missed the first time around or b) read all the sequels and get totally immersed in the Dune universe. Actually, what I should do is see the 1984 movie based on the book... the TV-release, not the edited-within-an-inch-of-its-life cinematic version.
Now it is after 11pm and I'm yawning like crazy, so I'm off to bed. Night!