Soiled and Bitten

At our second attempt, we managed to actually book a babysitter, get in the car, drive to Lismore, and watch a film. The film was Bruno - it is not unamusing.
There will be no photos with this month's post - K has hidden the SD card from the camera. Well, we hope she has hidden it. If went in the bin, or was fed to the neighbour's dog, then we've lost a couple of months of baby photos and our record of this Winter, which would be a shame. SD cards really are annoyingly small.
The diversion trenches I've dug under the house, on the other hand, were annoyingly long. I have had enough of being covered in soil and bent double under a low floor shovelling rocks and grit to last me a lifetime. The trenches form the belt in my "belt and braces" approach to keeping water away from downstairs, with the retaining wall and the ag-drain forming the braces. If enough rain falls to knock holes in my diversion trenches, overwhelm the ag-drain, flood the gap behind the retaining wall, and seep into the downstairs, then we'll probably have other things to worry about anyway, like buoyancy aids.
Our home-front coffee renaissance, kicked off by Keith's gift of a Gaggia Classic, has continued apace - our barrista skills, long atrophied since our days working in a North Shore Auckland cafe back in 2004, have been polished up, and I have abandoned flat whites for caffè macchiato and long blacks. Having a coffee machine at home can become a bit like being a bedroom DJ - you're dying to show off your improving skills, but because you've no-one to get a reaction from, you're also constantly doubting whether you're actually getting any better. We quickly discovered that the tamper that came with the machine was not up to the job, and invested in a proper weighty and glistening stainless steel tamper - this cost $50, but delivers a perfect puck every time, baby. I also succumbed to a certain nostalgia for hazelnut syrup - I don't even like the taste of the stuff, but it brings back happy memories.
I shall be brewing more than my morning coffee soon enough. Despite never being a great drinker of alcohol, I'm now the newbie at a local (informal) brewing club. I have the suspicion that I may be the first member to produce a batch of something that is not even recognisably beer - but it will certainly be a fun learning experience. Like any new thing, the numer of variables seems overwhelming at first - the ratios of the ingredients, the temperature, the preparation and proper disinfecting of the container, the addition of pellets to add carbonation to the finished beer and so on. Of the other club members' efforts I've sampled so far, none were bad, one was genuinely tasty, and, worryingly, all resembled (to greater or lesser extents) beer. Oh dear.
Also a learning experience, but far from fun, was getting bitten this week by a paralysis tick. I didn't get paralysed, or infected - but the doctor said I was quite lucky to escape unscathed. The little bugger bit me on the eyelid, and the eye swelled up to the point where I couldn't comfortably open it. At the hospital they removed it with tweezers, and gave me strong antihistamine. "Take 2 of these and don't drive". I thought, yeah, I've had antihistamine before, it's not that drowsy, then 10 minutes later, sat in the passenger seat as C drove me home, the pills hit and I was like a puppet with its strings cut. If I'm bitten in the eye again, I will go to hospital immediately, now I'm aware how serious it can be, and how quickly swelling can develop, leaving you with only one working eye.

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