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Friending Me

In light of recent odd friendings by all-Russian language journals I ask that you contact me before or immediately after friending me. You can leave a message introducing yourself here or in any of my public posts. However, if these mass-friendings continue then I will be locking the majority of my currently public posts.

You might have found me through one of the many comms I belong to. That's fine, but at least do me the courtesy of saying hello.

I *will not* automatically friend back as most of my personal entries are friends-locked and I won't open them to just any stranger off the board. I am also fiercely protective of my LJ friends and won't open their comments to my f-locked entries to strangers either.

NOTE: Since these all-Russian language journals are often spam bots I will report them. I'll let LJ abuse sort it out. If you friend me, comment. If not I will assume you're a spam bot after personal info and/or trying to commit identity fraud. And LJ Admin have made things a heck of a lot easier with this link

Got the surgery date

I met with Alex, the surgeon. She was nice, thorough, helpful. They are going to pull out all the plumbing. There are a lot of factors, including my age, the fact that I've been on hormones for so long, the fact that the main cyst has acted the way it has, etc etc etc.

I have a surgery date: 25 Sept (Fri in the afternoon), unless I am bumped due to an emergency. I'll be in the hospital for 4 to 6 days depending; she said some patients do go home on the Monday but more likely the Tues or Wed. Then I'll be down for 6 weeks recovery. She said based on my age that is more likely to be the immediate recovery time, though I will still be recovering from some of the deeper muscular stitches as far out as 3 months.

The date isn't a great one for work, Sept is our busiest time & end of month most so. Unfortunately, Alex doesn't have any other dates this year. We can't leave it any longer. She looked over the history of the main cyst & in 2 years it has not only almost doubled in size (4.83cm/just over 1 1/2") to 6.9cm (2 3/4") but has doubled in volume (I don't remember the volumetric measurements). I'm starting to feel more crampy pain, had more spotting last week so I suspect it's changing and growing. While the cysts are benign, they can rupture, twist or cause other problems. Waiting until some time next year isn't a good idea. Not to mention if we try to put it off because of "inconvenience" then I could loose the surgery as the government has a tight timeline on when things have to be done when you're referred through public.

I am thinking of the bits and pieces to get together between now and then. The first thing of course will be getting over this darned flu & trying to avoid anything until then. We've already started thinking about meals so I'll take stock of what is in the freezer (both finished meals and ones we could throw in the slow cooker). Now to think about what jobs we might need a hand with around the house, what can wait.

So there we go. It will be good to finally get this sorted and have one less problem to worry about, one less problem to go get scanned each year.

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"Mini" post - South Island Trip Photos!

Here are a bunch of photos from our South Island trip last month around Queenstown and our trip to Milford Sound. We also had a day trip driving to Glenorchy. I'm going to drop a bunch of the photos here without much info just so I can get it posted along with a few other things before I feel too sick again. I'll put most under the cut. I have to say that the star ones are something I've been wanting to try a long time and am glad I got the chance to do it.

Weka (native bird):
Weka - Milford Sound2 21 7 15 K55637

Weka - Milford Sound 21 7 15 K55635

Keas: (native Alpine parrots):

keas grooming night2 at Milford Sound Lodge 21 7 15 K55693

kea from Milford Sound Lodge2 22 7 15 K55732

Misc rest of picts (about 18 more)...

Read more...Collapse )

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I am home sick for the 2nd day in a row. :( I didn't want to take 1 day off, let alone 2 but my body had other options. I have been fighting headaches since Sat off and on and yesterday & today have felt sick to my stomach & a bit vertigo-ish. There was no way I could concentrate yesterday & felt pretty much the same today. I have to push myself to go in tomorrow, I really really can't afford to take a 3rd sick day, I have 5.6 sick days already & the surgery means I'm looking at at least 10 work days off, if not 40-60 work days depending on what happens with the surgery type.

I have been wanting to post a few things but haven't had time or felt well enough. Going to do this in mini-posts.

The first one is about a cool cook book that I would highly recommend all of you who are into cooking check out. It is coming out mid-Sept so you can pre-order now if you are interested. It is called Bounty From The Box. It was created with all kinds of recipes, tailored to those who get CSA farm boxes especially but think any of us can use it because it looks like it has a lot of good info.

Here is a blurb the book: "This is an enormous book, with 92 different types of fruits, veggies, and herbs covered, over 350 delicious recipes listed, and tipping in at a hefty 712 letter-size pages. It also contains 90 sidebar essays on farming, food, and nutrition, some of them written by farmers themselves." I am excited about this book, it looks like it has a lot going for it. Christmas is in 3 months, put it on your list!

Go here to check it out, they have a few bits of sample chapters you can download. http://bountyfromthebox.com/

They are US-based but ship internationally (to NZ is $18.45US) and if you put in the code: Preorder15 you get 15% off the regular $35US price!

It is the creation of a talented artist, Mi Ae Lipe. She is a graphic artist and author. She created a couple of Magical World coloring books that I bought back in the late 80's and carted through life with me (until I gave one away).

Please check it out and share this info along with the preorder code.

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Seed order going in!

Quick gardening post. Spring is starting to head our way. I am working through my seed order. I want to replace all my seeds, usually I keep them a few years and try to replant them, but I had to chuck a bunch of them out as something got in to the plastic container and ate most of them. I also have mice in the shed now :*( so I suspect I'll need fresh seeds. I'll be giving the shed a thorough cleaning out in the summer, once the ground is dry enough for me to put things out of the shed to go through them & throw things out.

Here is what I have in my cart. It's a price order!! but hey, I'll get seeds for the next 2 to 3 years & I get 3 free packs for spending $60NZ ;)

7450 Melon Jenny Lind Botanical Name: Cucumis melo: http://www.kingsseeds.co.nz/shop/Vegetables/Alpha+Search+for+Vegetables/Veges+L+to+O/Melon+Jenny+Lind-7820.html
American Heirloom. A delicious little green fleshed Musk Melon, aromatic and very sweet. The 500gm-1kg fruit are slightly flattened with prominent ribs. Named after a popular 19th Century singer. Good mildew resistance. Maturity 80 days from transplant.

8750 Squash Sunbeam F1 Botanical Name: Cucurbita pepo: http://www.kingsseeds.co.nz/shop/Vegetables/Alpha+Search+for+Vegetables/Veges+R+%26+S/Squash+Sunbeam-8394.html
Bright yellow scalloped summer squash with tender nutty tasting flesh. Sunbeam is a vigorous grower over the summer months, the first fruit ripening in 52 days from sowing in late spring. Good resistance to powdery mildew that can also be controlled by growing in rich humus with even moisture levels and good airflow around the plant. Matures 110 days from transplant.

(I've grown this one before, goes well) 9230 Tomato Sub Arctic Plenty Botanical Name: Lycopersicon esculentum http://www.kingsseeds.co.nz/shop/Vegetables/Alpha+Search+for+Vegetables/Veges+T+to+Z/Tomato+Sub+Arctic+Plenty-8593.html
World s earliest tomato. Bred for the U.S. Greenland military bases to endure extremely cold climates. Producing concentrated clusters of small, good flavoured, red fruit that ripen almost simultaneously. A very small plant with compact habit so excellent for anyone interested in growing in pots. Determinate. Matures 65 days from transplant.

9090 Tomato Indigo Rose Botanical Name: Lycopersicon esculentum http://www.kingsseeds.co.nz/shop/Vegetables/Alpha+Search+for+Vegetables/Veges+T+to+Z/Tomato+Indigo+Rose-2.html
This striking tomato is one of the darkest tomatoes bred so far. Beautiful eye-catching fruit are firm with good flavour. The 30-50g cocktail sized round fruit are green when unripe, purple red when ripe and develop a dark purple pigment when exposed to direct sunlight. Fruit are borne in clusters of 6-8 on vigorous vines with a healthy resistance to fungal disease and blight. Indeterminate. Matures 75 days from transplant.

9360 Tomato Container Choice Red F1 Botanical Name: Lycopersicon esculentum http://www.kingsseeds.co.nz/shop/Vegetables/Alpha+Search+for+Vegetables/Veges+T+to+Z/Tomato+Best+Boy+Bush+F1-8634.html
Developed for container growing, this is a space saver on your patio or in your garden. Bushy tree like upright plants produce large 150-200g red tomatoes that ripen evenly with no green shoulders. Harvesting high yields of beefsteak style fruits make this a great edible ornamental. Determinate. Maturity 70 days from transplant.

9268 Tomato Vintage Wine Botanical Name: Lycopersicon esculentum http://www.kingsseeds.co.nz/shop/Vegetables/Vegetable+Groups/Tomatoes/Heirloom/Tomato+Vintage+Wine-3.html
Rich flavourful beefsteak with eye catching orange and gold striped pink skin. Unlike other striped tomatoes, there are no stripes in the flesh. Fruit grow from 500g to 1kg and are tart and very juicy. Indeterminate. Stake to 1.8m. Matures 80 days from transplant.

(these didn't do well for me last year but have before and are very very tasty!) 3655
Organic Tomato Big Rainbow Botanical Name: Lycopersicon esculentum http://www.kingsseeds.co.nz/shop/Organics/Organic+Vegetables/Tomato+Big+Rainbow-5383.html
This classic large yellow Beefsteak type Tomato, to 900g and more, is shot through with streaks of red and orange, much more than just merely striped giving a beautiful marbled appearance when sliced. Near the top in the Tomato taste test. Indeterminate. Maturity 85 days from transplant.

(new selection last year, a bit pricey & I don't know how many seeds I get but I guess it is going to be a decent pack as most their stuff is about $3-4NZ instead of $20NZ!) SEL009
Bring on the Bees http://www.kingsseeds.co.nz/shop/Kings+Seed+Selections/Bring+on+the+Bees.html A selection of five of our bee plant varieties:
Anise Hyssop
Bergamot Bee Balm
Echium Blue Bedder
Phacelia Lacy

(new selection this year, looks good; also pricey like the bee one at about $18NZ) SEL027
Fabulous Fragrant Flowers
A selection of five varieties for wonderful scents in your garden day and night:
Dianthus Clove Pinks
Dianthus Rainbow Loveliness
Snail Vine
Stock Night Scented
Violet Queen Charlotte

I haven't had luck with the Golden Midget melons so despite wanting to try those I'll avoid them this time. I have a lot of tasks to do in the garden but will we are starting to get better weather so I'll be able to tackle them.

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Still Alive

Still alive, on holiday & on very limited (& expensive!) internet. Photos in process, will be back home in a few days so will catch up then.

Hope you all are well.

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I had my consult at the surgical unit of the hospital yesterday. I don't think I saw the actual gyne doctor, but think she was the nurse or something. So basically here is what I know so far....

I have been referred on a non-urgent basis for keyhole surgery to remove my ovaries at this point. The biggest cyst (6.9cm, 2 1/2") is the one that has the docs concerned, the fact that it has been growing when really they should be shrinking or at the very least staying the same size, as well as the fact that it is chambered (only 1 chambered but still...). I had some tests yesterday & took a blood test today so the results of those, as well as any complications at the time of surgery could mean a change to more invasive surgery but at this point there don't seem to be any indications that will be the case. The blood test included, among other things, a test for tumor markers to make sure the cysts aren't cancerous. I had one a couple years ago and it was clear but they want to run the tests with the preparation for surgery. If they do find tumor markers then they would refer me to gyne-oncology & surgery possibilities would change, probably more invasive and probably a "full plumbing removal".

For those of you who aren't familiar with the NZ public system, basically I've gone the "public healthcare" route on this for a few different reasons (not the least is trying to explain to my insurance that this isn't actually a sex change surgery would be too much of a headache). This means I have a computer-generated 'score' which is supposed to assess my urgency for treatment & then put me in the wait list queue. It means I could have surgery sometime within the next 4 months. If it runs as expected and they can do the keyhole, I would only be in the hospital for a night & then recovery for 1 to 2 weeks. If it does happen that I have to go for more invasive surgery then I would have a 4-6 week recovery, not sure how long in the hospital. (PS - my BP as 183/84, a bit higher than usual but I was stressed over the appointment; heart rate was about 99 I think, again stress; and weight was 88.2kg/194.44lb fully clothed & shoes on)

I did tell them they could put me down for the "short notice" option, which means if they get a sudden cancellation I could be called to slot in. I don't know how short that notice is but hey, if it gets things taken care of sooner than later I am all for it.

Time will tell. I'll keep you updated in this as I go through the journey.

PS--I have posted this as friends-only on my Live Journal & Dreamwidth, but am going to edit the DW entry to public so I can refer some close friends & family here instead of trying to message the whole thing to people on Facebook. As always, anything posted here is still considered private (as private as possible on electronic airwaves) so please don't post comments or details on Facebook or outside this space. I haven't told everyone I am acquainted with that I am a FTM and while I don't mind most people knowing I don't feel the need to advertise it.

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Food Picts

I made herb rolls tonight out of the dough I made last night. They turned out as tasty as I thought they would. I shaped them up as soon as I got home tonight, brushed them with some cornflour water, sprinkled some garlic salt & dried mixed herbs on them & baked them up. You are supposed to let them rise for about 20 minutes but I figured that would put dinner about 40 to 50 minutes away after the pre-bake rise & the actual bake. I only let them rise long enough for the oven to heat.

See, wouldn't you like to take a bite out of one of these???
home made rolls 22 6 15 K55508 550

The biggest difference between using the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes recipes & traditional bread recipes is that you have more a 'fermented' kind of taste and less a 'fresh yeast' kind of taste. The smell of fresh-baked bread isn't as pervasive as it would normally be with traditional recipes. This is more of a sour dough kind of recipe. I still like this recipe for ease of making & like the taste.

About a week to 2 ago I used their brioche dough recipe to make doughnuts. The brioche dough is just as easy to make, it has egg & honey in it as well as the usual yeast-flour-water-salt for the other recipes. This is the dough I use to make my cinnamon rolls. I was inspired by a post the authors put up for "National Doughnut Day" and did my own take on it. I made S'Mores doughnuts. They made them but put the marshmallow outside the doughnut. I wrapped the dough around the marshmallow, deep fried the doughnuts (as you do), then dipped the top in a chocolate doughnut glaze and rolled the chocolate tops into crushed graham cracker crumbs. They turned out really tasty!! I have a few still in the freezer. Here are a couple of picts :)

The fried dough with the marshmallows inside:
cooked marshmallow doughnut holes for Smores doughnuts 6 2015 K55501 500

And the finished pieces:
Smores Doughnuts 6 2015 K55502 500

So there you go, some food :{)

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There is something so vibrant & life-affirming about home made bread dough. There really isn't anything quite like it. I have some dough I just popped into the fridge from my old stand-by Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day. This is the one cookbook in our house that gets regular use. The next most-used would be my Homes & Gardens Cookbook I asked Mom for Christmas several years ago. The next one after that would be my Ben & Jerry's ice cream book ;)

Bread dough really is something amazing though. It is magic. It is life-affirming. You mix a bunch of what seem to be inert ingredients together & if you have everything in the right proportions you have this mass of dough that has grown beyond the bits you put into it. While the bread I make is a non-knead recipe, it still benefits from a quick, couple moments' knead when you are getting ready to shape it and bake it. That is enough to get your fingers into the living dough, enough to feel it and connect with it.

I find the Artisan Bread in Five method to be easier than traditional bread recipes, and even easier than using a bread maker. I had more flops in my bread maker than I have had in using Artisan Bread in Five recipes. I can also experiment more with the Artisan Bread in Five recipes. Tonight I've thrown in some buckwheat flour and steak juices into a recipe they had for rye bread. I don't have rye at the moment so wanted to give this a try. Despite my experimentation with chucking in some dried potato flakes, using the buckwheat flour (which has a different consistancy to regular wheat flour because it isn't made from wheat), the steak juices and a splash of lemon flavored oil it has risen & looks like it has a nice consistency. I have it resting in the fridge and will give it a try tomorrow night when I shape up some little rolls.

I had more to type but my computer is really lagging & I can type out a sentence before it catches up. Too frustrating. I'll leave this here for now.

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Books - long time no post about them!

It has been quite awhile since I've written about the books I checked out. I'll do a quick synopsis of a couple of the ones I read recently & the last lot I mentioned checking out before the post-hiatus, then will mention the ones I have now :)

The ones I last mentioned in this post:

Bound, by Sarah Bryant -- Urban paranormal style story set in isolated Scotland. I won't give things away but it takes an interesting twist. I liked this one. I bought the 2nd of these at a library used book sale, but haven't read it yet.

Reverand America by Kris Ksknussemm -- about an albino preacher who eventually finds himself running away from his past with a teen prostitute who is pregnant. The back of the book says it "sits between Flannery O'Connor & Carl Hiaasen....mixes the old with the new. A kicking and spitting true-to-life tale that is Saknussemm's most heart-rending to date". I think this one was ok. I don't remember a lot about it but think it was interesting.

One Man's Bible by Gao Xingjian -- About a man who talks to his German Jewish lover about his life under Mao Zhedong and the Chinese Cultural Revolution from 1966-76. "What emerges is a brutally frank portrait of someone intent on challenging conventional notions of history, philosophy and ethics. By no means a victim, he stands in judgement of only himself." I didn't get very far into this one before abandoning it. It kept jumping around between past & present & I had a hard time keeping the characters straight. I think the fact I don't know a lot about China's cultural revolution probably didn't help because I didn't understand some of the nuances.

Krampus by Gerald Brom -- looks like an urban paranormal/semi-horror story about how Krampus, the Yule Lord, was imprisoned by Santa Claus & his magic stolen away. Krampus wants his revenge & wants Yule back. I really liked this one! It was interesting, a good take on old tales and it didn't completely set the characters as completely good or completely bad. I'd recommend it</a>

California Bones by Greg van Eekhout -- Getting late & I can't really find a way to summarise this easily. I didn't get to read this, the others slowed me down & it was due before I could start it, and when I tried to extend the due date there was a hold on it. Maybe another time

Grave Silence by Rose Beecham -- Lesbian mystery series written by an NZ artist (who now lives in the US with her partner). Pulled this off the library's LGBTI books list. A bit concerned about the fact that the back mentions that Rose Beecham is the mystery pen-name of the best selling lesbian romance writer Jennifer Fulton. I am hoping this isn't a bodice-ripper kind of story! Another one I ran out of time to read and had to turn into the library, maybe another time. </a>


I just took a bunch back & had others I checked out, thought I'd throw a couple of the more memorable ones in here:

The days of Anna Madrigal by Armistead Maupin -- this is one of his Tales of the City books. I watched some on PBS ages ago & liked them, have read a couple in the series. Basically set in San Francisco, about mostly GLBTIQ characters & their daily lives. I recommend the series.

Who do, voodoo? & Bruja brouhaha both by Rochelle Staab -- 2 interesting books, they are easy reads, kind of paranormal mysteries. I liked them, sometimes it is nice to have a quick & easy read.

The patron saint of lost dogs & Dog gone, back soon both by Nick Trout -- 2 good books, fairly easy reads & not a ton of depth but nice reads. They are stories of a vet pathologist who moves back home to take over his dad's failing vet practice after his death. They do kind of go in the sequence, but I read Dog Gone first & I didn't feel like I'd missed too much.

Beneath the darkening sky by Majok Tulba --This was a difficult book to read. It is a novel, but based on true stories that were told to him. The author was 9 years old when the rebels came to his Sudanese village. Any boys larger than the AK47s the rebels carried were taken away to be trained. He escaped because he was an inch too short, but he wrote the story from the perspective of a boy if he had been tall enough. It is a tough read because even though this is a story, you know this kind of thing is happening around the world to child soldiers. I wanted to read it for that perspective & to get me out of my comfort zone. He fortunately glosses over some of the worse of the violence, but there is still some in the story.

There are the ones I have out right now:

Silent we stood by Henry Chappell - About a a small group of abolitionists working secretly in Dallas. "With war looming lives hanging in the balance, ideals must be weighed against friendship and love, and brutal decisions yield secrets that must be taken to the grave".

The kill order by James Dashner - This is the prequel to The Maze (which we watched, a good movie & a really good book). It's basically young adult but not geared too young.

When everything changes, change everything : in a time of turmoil, a pathway to peace by Neale Donald Walsch-- A bit different to what I usually read, I usually read novels and not too many "how tos" or anything but I felt this one speak to me when I saw it so am going to give it a try. It is about change, about life, that kind of thing. "....does 'change' have to equal 'crisis'? No."

In celebration of simplicity : the joy of living lightly by Penelope Wilcock I picked this up after I saw it & opened it up. I thought it was about de-cluttering and stuff but it isn't, it is more like a daily meditation. It is very religious & Christian-focused, but not exclusive-Christian. I have read a few pages of it & want to get back to it as it was pretty interesting & thought-provoking.

Here are the things I picked up today:

Dirt by David Vann -- About a 22-year old guy who lives with his dependent mom in a secluded old house doesn't know who is Dad is, his abusive grandfather is dead & his grandmother has been sent to a nursing home as she's loosing her memory. He is a New Ager who thinks he is an old soul and yearns for transformation but can't prevent the manic binges. The family takes a trip to an old cabin, he is caught in a compromising position & learns how far he will go to get the transcendence he wants. "An exhilarating portrayal of a legacy of violence and madness".

The bees by Laline Paull -- "...A sensual, visceral mini-epic about timeless rituals and modern environmental disaster"...."creates a luminous world both alien & uncannily familiar. Thrilling and imaginative, The Bees is the story of a heroine who, in the face of an increasingly desperate struggle, changes her destiny & her world". It looks like it is written from the point of view of a bee who learns certain secrets & makes a decision to go against certain set rules.

Dark heir by Faith Hunter -- one of her Jane Yellowrock series. I like this series & her writing style, even if it seems the heroine often has an easy out at times.

Mortuary confidential : undertakers spill the dirt by Kenneth McKenzie and Todd Harra and
Mortician diaries : the dead-honest truth from a life spent with death by June Knights Nadle
These 2 are ones C picked up but look interesting so I'll read them too, I like some of these kinds of "behind the scenes" books.

Chavs : the demonization of the working class by Owen Jones -- Another one I wouldn't normally pick up but looked interesting. It is about the negative stereotyping & hatred of the British working class. The author "...explores how the working class has gone from 'salt of the earth' to 'scum of the earth'. Moving through Westminster's lobbies and working-class communities from Dagenham to Dewsbury Moor, Jones lays bare the ignorance and prejudice at the heart of the chav caricature , and reveals a far more complex reality: the increasing poverty and desperatino of peple left abandoned by the aspirational, society-fragmenting policies of both the Tories and New Labour." I think it will be an interesting read and will apply to the demonisation of the lower working classes in the US & New Zealand as well as Britain.

A mixed bag of books to read. I'll try to remember to post what I think about them.

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I have a kind-of Western style shirt I picked up at an upmarket 'recycling' store a couple years ago. I really like it & have been wanting to get something similar, but you don't really get that kind of thing here. And if you do find it then it's at a dedicated Western tack store & costs about $100-$150 for a simple non-print Wrangler. I also have a couple plain short sleeve shirts by Wrangler that I really like. I wanted some more Western style, partly for casual Fridays, maybe some I can even wear at work, and to wear to friends' houses for dinners or out to Crafworld when we take stuff up there because I like to look nice when we do.

I tried to get onto Wranger's site but they don't take non-US Paypal & won't allow for non-US accounts (for shipping or credit card billing), so I did the next best thing & went to Ebay! I found a bunch of Western style shirts by a lot of different companies. I spent a lot more than I really wanted to (just over $300NZ or about $230 US but that includes shipping, which was more than most of the prices I paid for the shirts themselves!). I got really good deals despite the inflated shipping I paid overall, still paid less than I would have if I got them from Wrangler themselves or their Amazon shop (which didn't really have anything I liked). I also donated $1.00 each for most of the purchases to Ebay's collection for the Nepal earthquake. It is a cause dear to my heart & I saw it as a kind of "consumer tax".

I only paid for them last week but 1 of the shirts has already made it here today & looks really good! It looks brand new, even though it was listed as pre-owned & used. This is it, I paid about $30US for it + about $16US for shipping (this is the one of the cheapest shipping amounts I paid):
Panhandle black with SWest Indian

Here are the others.

I really liked this one, but think it is going to be a 'casual Friday' possibly, most likely for at home wearing mostly. I think I paid 28US for it, + $26 (US I think) for shipping.
Wrangler Aztec rainbow rodeo shirt

This is one of the ones I got for work. I have actually been wanting something like this for awhile, definitely since I saw some people in my favorite cafe wearing something similar. I like the colour & style. I paid about $16US for it, plus about $14US for shipping
Wrangler green & white striped short sleeve

This is one I think I can wear to work. It was actually a 'consolation shift' because I had lost one I wanted so I went looking for a replacement. It was about $15US but shipping is about $28US. I am glad I got it though, I do need more short sleeve shirts that are nice.
Wrangler white with blue Aztec short sleeve

I thought this was pretty cool. It's a paisley style with Western-style pearl buttons. It is actually the cheapest shirt I got (not including shipping). It was about $12US with shipping around $30US. I am pretty sure I can wear it to work & I like how it's kind of fashionable. I don't usually have much of a fashion sense so I like it.
Earl Jean Paisley W style

This was my most expensive shirt. It isn't really "Western" even though it was titled as a "Native American Aztec Kaftan" shirt. It looks like a typical Indian shirt (ie---the continent India, not Native American) & I have been looking for something like it for a couple years. I have something similar in white but it doesn't really fit me any more. I can get semi-similar stuff here but it isn't actually the same so I splurged & got it. It cost about $56US (it is used) & the shipping is another $24US. But like I said, I have been looking for something like it for awhile.
'Nat Am Aztec' geometric Kaftan

I can't wait for my new wardrobe to get here. I ordered XL's on all of them because while I am sometimes I L in somethings, sometimes the L is a bit snug around my belly (and sometimes my chest which isn't good because then my binder is obvious & makes me feel really down, which is partly why I'm getting some new shirts).

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I did a bunch of housework today, despite having been off work the last 2 days sick. It is Sat so I have today & tomorrow off anyway. I have been wanting to get some serious cleaning done but keep procrastinating & parking my behind on the couch in front of Facebook or some other piece of the internet. To be fair, I have spent a lot of time reading info about the Nepalese earthquake that happened on 25/4. I have also spent way too much time pissing around as usual.

I am proud of what I did today. I washed our (5) windows inside & out, cleaned the windowsills on 3 of them (I did 2 yesterday). I vacuumed, including some deep-vacuuming in some areas. I pulled the little blinds off the bathroom window & washed it. I put the laundry away too. I also pulled down all 4 net curtains & put them in the washing machine, then re-hung them.

I also watered/fed our orchids, pulled them all out of their usual places & gave them a quick inspection. I picked up a scale infestation in 1 orchid. WTF?? Yes, they sit by an open window but none of them are outside plants. Fortunately I found it before the infestation set in too bad or spread to the other plants. I have tried to smoosh & rinse the little buggers off & have isolated the plant in the house away from the others. Fortunately I seem to have caught it before it spread to the 8 or 9 different orchids up on the windowsill.

I did pull one of our orchids off the sill to check & to photo the flowers. This is a plant we have had for somewhere between 6 & 8 years. Here are the photos of the Zygopetalum Titanic 'Susan' x Titanic Bayswater. While many orchids don't have a fragrance, these do have a nice strong fragrance. They take several years to flower. We have 4 other zygopetalum type orchids, 1 we got around the time of this one but it was tiny so it hasn't flowered yet but is putting out a ton of new growth right now, the other 3 we got last year at the orchid show & they are pretty young so it may be a year or 2 more at least before they flower (but they are also putting out a lot of new growth).

Zygopet Titanic 'Susan'xT Bayswater flower1 5 2015 K55391 cr550

Zygopet Titanic 'Susan'xT Bayswater flower2 5 2015 K55393 550

The last of my masdevallias is almost officially dead. The last leaf is almost gone :( I wish I could have kept these but just not good for our hot, humid climate in Auckland. Oh well, a dream for if/when I win the lotto.

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A few more photos from our trip to Hahei

I put these up on FB the other day but didn't get the chance to put them up here. These are a few photos of the beaches we went to, and the cloudy/dramatic/stormy type weather we had for some of the time.

Cooks Beach view, Corro Penn 22 4 15 K55156

Dramatic Cooks Beach or Whitianga 23 4 15 K55262

Islands off Cooks Beach dramatic V1 23 4 15 K55258

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Info for Nepal Earthquake

Putting this here for myself, but please help yourself & copy/paste to share the knowledge (along with yesterday's post with aid organisations to donate to).

International Community for the Red Cross: search for missing people/register yourself as safe: http://familylinks.icrc.org/nepal-earthquake/en/Pages/Home.aspx

Live Reddit updates about the earthquake, this has had some good info & links. http://www.reddit.com/live/usqod2db8ogh/

Before/after picts of a couple landmarks: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/04/25/world/asia/nepal-landmarks-before-after-earthquake.html?rref=world&smid=tw-share&_r=0&module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=Asia%20Pacific&action=click®ion=FixedRight&pgtype=Multimedia

Translators without borders: http://translatorswithoutborders.com/About-Us
More about this organisation: Today TSF's American sister non-profit organization, Translators without Borders, assists in translating more than two million words per year for NGOs such as Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), Médecins du Monde, Action Against Hunger, Oxfam US and Handicap International.

But this is not even meeting 1% of the need. There are literally thousands more organizations that need help for critical communications.

By developing an open digital platform and establishing organizational structure, Translators Without Borders hopes to increase that number to 10 million words or more every year.

Our mission is to increase access to knowledge through humanitarian translations. Join us.

editing to add a few more places
A couple more places you can donate for Nepalese earthquake relief. Both are located in NZ.

-This is the Himalayan Trust, founded by Sir Edmund Hilary in 1960. : http://himalayantrust.org/
They have a Give a Little page specifically to raise rebuild funds: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/nepalearthquake

There is also First Steps Himalaya (an NZ-based charity), which usually raises money for rural schools. Schools in their project villages have been decimated & they are raising funds to rebuild or repair schools & early childhood care facilities. https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/earthquakenepalrelief

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The news of the 7+ earthquake in Nepal has hit me hard. I don't have time to go into it all right now, but wanted to put this info up for my friends at DW & LJ. Please consider helping, either with direct monetary donations or do some fundraising to help raise money for these organisations. I want to try to do some fundraising at work, I don't know if I'll be able to (long story but will give it an ask after the holiday weekend).

Some reputable relief organisations you can donate for those affected by the Nepalese earthquake.
This is link is from one of my uni friends who is in Nepal (I think he lives in Nepal permanently). I don't know anything about the project but do trust him:

The rest of these are well-known organisations
-Oxfam NZ: http://www.oxfam.org.nz/cart/checkout/5024
-Oxfam America: https://secure2.oxfamamerica.org/page/content/nepal_earthquake/

-Redcross NZ (this is the home page, they don't yet have a page up specific for Nepal donations yet): https://www.redcross.org.nz/
- Redcross Canada (they do have a page specific for the Nepal earthquake): https://secure.redcross.ca/registrant/donate.aspx?eventid=172921
-Redcross US (again, they do have a page specific for the Nepal earthquake): http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Red-Cross-Responding-to-78-Magnitude-Earthquake-in-Nepal
-Redcross UK (also to the specific page): http://www.redcross.org.uk/nepalearthquake

-Save the Children: http://www.savethechildren.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=8rKLIXMGIpI4E&b=9241341&ct=14615143

-Unicef: http://www.supportunicef.org/site/c.dvKUI9OWInJ6H/b.9274583/k.FBFF/Help_Children_in_Nepal_Donate_for_earthquake_response.htm

-Care: https://my.care.org/site/Donation2?18840.donation=form1&df_id=18840

Here is a link to a FB vid from the BBC. I visited this temple many times in my stay in Kathmandu. It is shocking to see. https://www.facebook.com/bbcnews/videos/10152758034327217/

Nepal is a very poor country, with many of the buildings in the older parts of Kathmandu being particularly unstable & the water/sewage/electric lines being especially prone to disruption. Many people in Nepal live at or below the global poverty line. This is going to be devestating on an individual level, a cultural level (many old temples have been destroyed) & at a nation-wide level. Please consider donating, please share these links. You have my permission to copy-paste.

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Few more photos of the trip

I have been trying to keep my photo-taking to a reasonable amount, preferably a minimum to get the shot I want or 2 and that is it, thinking about each shot and scene and trying to make sure it is as perfect as I can get it before taking it.

That however seems to be tossed out the proverbial window when birds or wind-driven waves are involved as I found out yesterday & today. There are now a ton of photos to get through (added in with the photos from the trip in Jan to New Plymouth I haven't completely gotten through either...Don't think I finished the picts from our Calif trip a few years ago either....).

I had worked on a few photos yesterday & day before so here are some I did get through. I thought you would all enjoy them.

Here are a couple bird photos. The first has 2 birds in it: a rare-ish NZ dotterel (small & they blend in!!) & a gull. The 2nd has a couple varigated oyster catchers.
dotterell & gull Hot Water Beach 23 4 15 K55175 cr

pair of black oyster catchers1 Hot Water Beach 23 4 15 K55172 cr

This is some toetoe, or pampas grass. I have some close-up shots of the fluff that I haven't gone through yet.
Toetoe and island, Cathedral Cove 23 4 15 K55277  550

More under the cut.
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On a short holiday

Home internet has been up & down. Not sure if it is our gear, our phone lines or the external lines. We are on a short holiday but haven't really had internet access (I couldn't figure out how to connect & use the password coupons). I haven't done more than a quick peek at Facebook, let alone my emails or DW or LJ.

We are staying at an amazing place called The Church in Hahei on the Coromandel Penninsula. Hahei is about 3 hours' drive outside Auckland & in a rugged, less populated area (Coromandel can be more populated) unless it's summer in which everyone flocks here. We are in the "shoulder" season of autumn so it is quieter than usual but not completely closed down for the winter yet. There are a few coastal areas around, really nice & rugged & a lot of surfers out catching waves.

Weather has been up & down, a lot of clouds, occasional rain & a bit of sun. I am on a borrowed internet & don't like to advertise that I am away from home on Facebook so going to post some photos here for people to enjoy. These are of The Church. The people here are amazingly welcoming & accommodating. The small cottage we are staying in for 2 nights is immaculate. There isn't any dust, no dead bugs, everything is very clean & tidy. It is much nicer than the place we stayed in Stratford (as far as cleanliness & value for money). I wanted to get C out somewhere nice on a short, close trip so she can enjoy getting away from home & out into somewhere different before winter closes in. We had some nice weather until recently & I figured even if it rained a lot it would still be better than being at home.

Us at The Church, Corro Penn V2 22 4 15 K55160

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More picts from Mt Taranaki

Here are some more photos from our trip to Mt Taranaki in Jan this year. I am slowly working through them. These are still at Dawson Falls, have a few others from this part of the trip as well as other days.

Another of Dawson Falls:Dawson Falls another view 23 1 15 K54888 - 550

Path towards Mt Taranaki:
Mt Taranaki path from Dawson Falls side V 23 1 15 K54861

Path to Dawson Falls, Mt Taranaki:
Mt Taranaki path to Dawson Falls 23 1 15 K54862

Boulder & Fuschia flowers at Dawson Falls:
Boulder and fuschia flowers on driftwood 2 - Dawson Falls, Mt Taranaki 23 1 15 K54886 - 550

Amazing tree at Dawsons Falls:
trees & bush at Mt Taranaki near Dawson Falls 23 1 15 K54865

View from Mt Taranaki, above Stratford Mountain Lodge:
View from Mt Taranaki4 with Stratford 22 1 15 K54850

2nd view:
View from Mt Taranaki5 Mt Ruapehu background 22 1 15 K54851

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I didn't want to mix photos with my last (kind of depressing really) post that I locked (I didn't want non-friends to read it due to some of the stuff I wrote about health & work). This post is unlocked for photo-enjoyment.

We went to the Domain early this morning. It was nice & quiet as most people were at home either scoffing chocolate bunnies & hard boiled eggs or at church services. We got to enjoy it before it got too busy. I took a few photos during my little walk. Here they are for your enjoyment.

Yellow and white eggplant:
Yellow and white eggplant - Domain 5 4 15 K55111 - 550

Pitcher plant:
Pitcher plant - DOmain 5 4 15 K55115 - 550

Purple water lily:
purple waterlily - Domain 5 4 15 K55119 - 550

White water lily:
White waterlily - Domain 5 4 15 K55116 - 550

Tecomanthe speciosa, aka Three Kings Vine, once down to 1 plant when discovered in 1945:
Tecomanthe speciosa - Three Kings Vine - Domain 5 4 15 5127  - 550

Tecomanthe speciosa - Three Kings Vine close - Domain 5 4 15 K55129 - 550

I have some photos from our trip to Taranaki in Jan to upload next, I'll do that in a separate post so I don't make 1 huge overwhelming post.

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A few more Mt Taranaki picts

I haven't had a chance to work on these much but here are a few photos from our trip in Jan to Mt Taranaki.

Mountain Foxglove
Mountain Foxglove cluster2 Mt Taranaki 22 1 15 K54853 - 600

I had fun shooting this Spanish moss with the sun through it.
dramatic Spanish Moss on Dawson Falls path 2 - 23 1 15 K54868

Another shot of Mt Taranaki. I got a lot of these.
Mt Taranaki cows 21 1 15 K54798

Dawson Falls:
Dawson Falls with small stream - Mt Taranaki 23 1 15 K54876 - 600

Dawson Falls again:
Dawson Falls with tree fuschia and path - Mt Taranaki 23 1 15 K54877  - 600

Path to Dawson Falls:
Mt Taranaki path from Dawson Falls side 23 1 15 K54859

Another path to Dawson Falls, I like this one.
Mt Taranaki path & bush from Dawson Falls side 23 1 15 K54871 600

Tree with epiphites. I love the way some plants all grow on the trees here, reminds me of some of my environmental studies lectures.
Epiphetised tree at Mt Taranaki on Dawson Falls path 23 1 15 K54873 - 650

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