The Year of the Dog. Mine, specifically.


Why hello from sunny 2015.

I say sunny, but really it’s the middle of winter. That hasn’t stopped the last few weekends from being absolutely stunning though! I judge my week in weekends, because in winter I leave when it’s dark. I spend all day in an office. I arrive home in the dark. If there happens to be gale force winds and severe weather warnings for rainfall in amoung that, well so long as it doesn’t stop then train from getting me home, we’re all good!

With all this sunshine I’ve been getting all radical with fitness lately – if you think walking is radical. No? Walking with hills? No? Baby mountain tramping? Not radical? Oh well. That’s what I’ve been doing.

Mostly it’s because of this moose:


He’s a year old now, and a handsome teenage rebel! He’s also got the energy level of a bunny on crack. We’re thankfully past the puppy hell months (3-5 where I got little sleep and my house smelt like dog pee) and I’m finding ways to manage the whole work/life balance, if by life you mean the life-sized grand canyon holes my dog was digging along my fence-line out of boredom while I’m at work.

Arch at 1yrHe’s pretty but also industrious, given the work ethic he put into play with project: Escape the Property.

So yeah, Archer and I walk. We walk a lot. Recently we climbed the Gentle Annie out at Mt Holdsworth… Gentle is a bit of an overstatement. We did the Rimutaka Rail Trail with a pack of dogs in the meetup Walkies group in Wellington. I did the Putangirua Pinnacles with him last Saturday with a couple from the newly set up meetup Walk the Dog Wairarapa group.

The meetup groups are brilliant! Highly recommend!

So with it being winter I was a little worried about hitting depression again (that’s always my winter fear!) but I think I’m ok this year. I think being out exploring the great outdoors makes me feel good and recharged and connected to the world. The wilder and more remote the better, and I’m certainly getting that with Archer.

So now with the terrible puppy-hood woes over (fingers and toes crossed, and lick a bunny foot to be REALLY sure.) I might MAYBE be ready to think about a companion for my energy bundle dog… MAYBE. I’m not sure yet. One dog is work with training, vet bills, jealousy about having to share my dog with a neighbor during the day, and feeling guilty about late nights… but two. Hmm.

I have two and a half things to talk about today.

I have two and a half things to talk about today.



Mel has found a group of women who used to be in marching teams as teens, who are wanting to start up a senior team in Upper Hutt. I used to march back when I was 12 (ish. It was a long time ago. don’t judge.) and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. (It was mostly the boots and the sparkly aqua colored uniform.) 

When Mel text me to tell me I yelled “COOL” very loudly in the office. Then lied about why, because marching in NZ is not actually cool. It’s kind of dorky. But then I am kind of dorky. So one cool persons dorky, is a dorky persons cool. (Look at me, I am very deep.) 

I’ve totally joined their facebook group. They’ll have a black and purple (probably sparkly!) uniform. Black is very slimming. I totally do not have the legs for that itty bitty skirt though.

If it’s not too expensive, or week nighty, then I may just find myself joining. Because I am a dork, and I embrace it. Besides it totally counts as exercise. Marchy marchy exercise.



Archer is halfway though puppy school, and is totally winning this class. Like my dog, is the best of all the dogs. Possibly because he is older, and has already learnt a lot of commands, and he loves the treats I take.

My dog sits and waits like a freaking boss.

I feel a lot like a smug mum at a mothers group. I’m all “Oh, Moose doesn’t do down yet? I wouldn’t worry. Archer did at his age, but we probably spent more time practicing it than you and Moose do.”



The stupid gale force wind in Featherston is totally about to blow my stupid fence away (hence the half).

It’s the one shared with a neighbor who is giving me very strong ‘I’m not paying for that’ vibes right now.

I have a letter I’ll drop in their letter box* this arvo about how I’m going to get quotes for the work and that I have some people who will likely come help me build it… All they have to do is pony up half the cash.

(*because since the last massive wind that caused pieces of it to come flying into my yard, they haven’t been seen. Like, at all. Which is super weird for them.)

Cross your fingers for me dudes. I’m going in.

That time I was an idiot who nearly fainted at a client site because of aforementioned idiocy.

I did a very stupid thing the other day. Like, Tuesday must be the day of the brain dead or something. (That’s going to be punny in a minute.)

So, If you know me, you more than likely know that I am totally squeamish, and not good with blood at all. Like, I’d be the worlds worst vampire. Or vet, as evidenced by me throwing up that one time I had to look at an X-Ray of a cat skeleton.

Pretty much I failed the Girl Guides Animal First Aid Badge. If that’s even a thing. I’m pretty sure it’s a thing. That I failed. 

Anyway. Me? I’m not great with gore.

Which is why it defies any kind of explanation that I’d read an interview who drilled a hole in her own skull. On purpose. Because she’s a fricking idiot – who then ran for parliament on the platform of drilling holes in peoples skulls for national health.

Anyway. I was curious, and you know what they say about curiosity: it leaves you sitting with your head between your knees in the bathroom at work hoping you don’t throw up on your own shoes. 

So yeah.

I’m sitting there waiting for my contact to get into the office, and killing time on the internet. All of a sudden I’m following this awful black hole down the path of weird gore, trying to figure out what makes someone crazy enough to do this to themselves, then I realise that I’m reading an account of the performance art film released by this woman who took to her own skull with a dentist drill.

At which point I’m like, “You know what? I don’t need to know this level of detail. I wanted to know if she was crazy, and I think probably I can go ahead and draw my own conclusion without reading any more of this.” Then I had to walk to the bathroom without fainting, on jelly legs, and sit on the ground in a toilet stall with my head between my knees for fifteen minutes.

In case you are wondering what one thinks about for fifteen minutes sitting on the floor of a toilet stall, it’s pretty much just “DELETE DELETE  DELETE  DELETE  DELETE ” inter spread with the occasional:

“Why did I just do that to myself.”


“This can’t be sanitary. These floors look clean but it’s still a bathroom.”

Planning the back driveway

I’ve been eyeing up my driveway lately, because it’s looking kinda sad. By kind of, I mean A LOT.

And I have all these awesome ideas to tidy it up, but haven’t started any of them because I’m on a budget, which means I really need to do this stuff right the first time. So: PLANNING.

Planning is a thing I’ve been doing.

Driveway plan

True my planning looks a bit like a drawing done on a post it note with highlighters (because it is), but it still counts!!

I’ve also been looking online for inspiration, and I’ve decided that I’m going to hide my unsightly concrete paths by putting stones straight over top of them, and adding a cool slat path like this one (that I saw here – totally my new favorite blog):

Path (concrete cover up)

I’ve also been looking at ways to hide ugly concrete stairs and pads, and I might try covering my back porch with timber, so it’s more of a cute deck arrangement than a heck of a lot of ugly concrete. I found PART of a video tutorial here, that makes it look super easy (is that guy even measuring??) And if I can cover the deck with timber, then maybe I can extend it a bit too, and start the epic decking project that I want to tackle in a year or two!

First I have to read up on the council though, because if I can avoid having to get a permit, then that would be awesome.

I’ll need to get a truckload of stone to fill the drive, and to re-do the driveway edging to keep everything tidy.


I’d like a raised garden along the back, that I can plant up with blueberries, dwarf fruit trees, and strawberries. and I was also thinking that pallet gardens are apparently super easy, and I LOVE the look of this one… it would be nice to give it a shot up against the house maybe… anything that hides the stucco is a good thing!! Or maybe it might work as a wind break?

Back Privicy Fence

The dance of the tiny work kitchen

I totally just won the tiny work kitchen dance. And by won, I mean I accidentally caused a colleague to drop a glass of water down the front of his shirt.


One day I will work on the top floor of a fancy company, where they have all the good desks, and matching chairs, and a kitchen big enough for more than two people at a time. I will never be asked to take the minutes, and I’ll probably spend meetings saying things like “Hm. I see. and how does this initiative support the quarter three strategy?”

Today is not that day, unfortunately, but I’ll take my wins where I can get them.


Archerpants the Brave and Captain Bratticus Batz have been remarkably good lately. (This is where I knock on wood, throw salt over my shoulder, and lick a rabbits foot.)

I think it’s because Batz has realised that the Puppy will ALWAYS want to play catchfeetunderthebed, whereas I have a pretty limited tolerance for how long that game will last.

Archer has been getting more excercise lately too. At the moment we go to the dog park after work most days. We met a couple of really crazy older dogs that just go and go and go, and Archer spends about half an hour a night running and wrestling with them. We used to walk for longer on the leash each night, but compared to running around with other dogs leash walking so does not compare.

Archer is also a puller and walking a pulling dog is a total pain in the ass. I’m working on a different training technique now, because corrections, and a slip leash don’t work for me. Like with most things, I’ve got to lay some ground work with him before we can try walking again… so right now he’s learning the ‘Boop!’ command, which is basically getting him to ‘boop’ my hand with his nose on command.

In theory, once he has that down, I’ll be able to teach him the right position when walking by getting him to stay in optimum ‘booping’ position.

Probably the technique has a more technical term but to be honest who cares?

About the dog park? Weird but true: you know all the dogs by name, but owners? Nope. Not a clue. Even though I run into these people like twice a week sometimes, and we have the usual ‘how’s he going?’ conversations it’s all ‘Rhino’s Owner’, and ‘Shay’s Owner’.

Lulu’s Owner keeps saying “wow he’s not shy at all, is he?” meaning he’s a boisterous rough playing little brat at times. Like, if I was going to enroll my little delinquent in a sport? It would be gridiron. Watching him and the other dogs chase and tackle each other makes you cringe.

I’m actually a bit worried about taking him to a puppy class when the next one starts in November, because I’m fairly certain my dog is going to be the bully jock that no one else wants to play with.

He also has a bad habit of wanting to make friends with all the weirdos and scaryass looking dogs. A couple of weeks ago he went and barreled up to a complete stranger with a couple of massive red nosed pit bulls on leash at the park. This was the day after he made friends with a guy so high he left a cloud of pot smoke when he wandered off towards the fish and chip shop after my dog had tried to crawl up his legs into his lap.


Skip Skip Skipbinning


So late afternoon yesterday I was lazing around in the sun, when I realised I hadn’t even touched the garden, which is silly because there is A LOT in that garden that needs work. Namely the raised weed beds. Once upon a time they were vege gardens. Now there’s one leek, and a buttload of weeds. Also some gross green potatoes, which apparently are the cockroaches of the vege garden.

So I went out with the full intention of weeding a vege garden.

Then I got distracted by a bunch of generic saplings that some dork had planted along the fence line. Right now they’re small, but in a year or two they’ll be big enough and bushy enough to obstruct my meagre afternoon sunlight. Also, they weren’t even remotely the kinds of trees I want here in my garden – they don’t work for the space they take up with fruit or colour,  so I uprooted them, and dumped them on my compost heap.

Then I found myself eyeing up this evil behemoth:

Evil Tree

I have no major issues with this tree, except the fact that it’s probably possessed by evil spirits. I mean, it’s fine, but it’s probably the same type of tree that was in Pans Labyrinth… You know, with the toad living under it, and the malicious intent. It’s been a while since I’ve seen that movie, but I’m sure that tree was evil.

Basically some idiot planted it years ago, and since then it’s spent it’s time growing higher, and wider, and sending out runners. It spreads like you wouldn’t believe – in fact, it was probably a weed once upon a time ago, and now it’s a bloody useless tree. If I was going to have a massive tree there I would rather it was a plum tree. Then it would be useful.

That big pile of branches and saplings? that all came from around the bottom 30cm of that bloody tree.

I think for now I’m going to leave it there, but keep a pretty aggressive pruning schedule for it. So long as the foliage is up high, it’s a good shade tree, I guess.

In the mean time I’m going to order my first ever green waste skip bin. I feel like I should be making one of those baby scrap books for home ownership. I could put a picture of the first hole in the wall, and sticky tape in the first chunk of wallpaper I accidentally ripped off. Some leaves from my first pruning spree. the receipt from my first electricians bill that made me faint.

(the electrician charged $80 to wear muddy boots inside my shower, prod at a lightbulb, verify his previous work wasn’t going to set my house on fire, then leave. It took maybe 5 minutes.)

Pans tree

And now: An imaginary conversation about the evil tree. 

“Do you have anything stronger, poison-wise, than this?”

“What’s it for?”

“A tree. But, like, a possessed one. So I guess either stronger poison, or an exorcism.”


“Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s like that evil tree thing from Pans Labyrinth. You know, with the toad?”

“My afternoon has taken a strange turn.”

“Mine was outright weird. One minute I’m weeding the back garden, so that I can put some raised beds in, and the next, I’m tackling an evil tree with my pruning shears. It’s going to take a hell of a lot more than clippers and a pruning saw to kill this behemoth. Also, you know, on account of the evil.”

“…So I think you want a paint that you put on the stump to suppress further growth.”

“Do you have anything stronger? You know out the back? Maybe something you don’t give the regular customers?”

“No this is really it.”

“Right, no of course. Wink wink, nudge nudge. It’s ok. I’m cool. I know how this works.”

“Seriously, this is it. There is nothing stronger.”

“Well, that’s disappointing. I’ll just take another 10 of these then.”

“Wow. You must really want that tree gone.”

“I really do.”

“Haha, I hear salting the earth and setting evil spirits on fire works well too!… Which was 100% a joke. Don’t set your tree on fire.”

“No, no, It’s actually a workable idea. I live pretty close to the fire station.”

“We have a very good arborist I can recommend, How about I get you his card?”

“While I have you here, I have some questions about killing off sentient flax bushes. I think they’re conspiring against me.”

Today’s post is brought to you by ASTERISK

Sugar Skull

So a couple of years ago I brought some amazing Chili Hot Chocolate mix. It made a serious impression, I thought long and hard about creating a new religion based on cinnamon, chocolate, and chili. Then I tried a version made from actual melted chocolate, and built an alter with candles for the awesomeness that is Mexican themed hot chocolate.

So last week I was cleaning out my pantry because I am a domestic goddess. (Please stop looking at the pile of dirty pasta bowls in my sink.) and I came across a boring hot chocolate mix that has been lingering in the back of my pantry for months. It’s pretty Meh.

Instead of putting it back in the pantry to linger for another couple of months, I decided to jush it up a bit. I added nutmeg, and cinnamon, and dash of chili, then some amazing rich dark fair trade cocoa powder that I stumbled across at the supermarket and can’t stop buying because it makes my various chocolate themed baking taste amazeballs. And Voila, I have a spiced, spicy, dark rich hot chocolate.

YUM. I keep it at work.

viva revolution

I’m thinking about Mexican hot chocolate because I did something a bit scary at work this week – I wrote an email challenging a manager, and then sent it to a few like-minded individuals to see if they would support the cause if I sent it.

I messaged a friend later, and said that it felt like yelling “REVOLUTION!” across the floor of the PMO.

The like minded individuals all responded to my email yesterday with sentiments like ‘OMG Yes’ and ‘You’re totally awesome Shannon’ and ‘I think that you should run for Empress, Shannon’*

*obviously I’m paraphrasing, to keep the identities of my co-conspirators secret.**

**I’m also upping the drama level just a smidge, because it was all very professional and boring.

Anyway. I had support, so I sent the email to our big Boss. He responded yesterday with something along the lines of ‘Hm. You raise many good points. I’ll talk about it with some of the other managers and get back to you.’*

*To be honest? that was actually more than I was expecting. I was totally expecting to be told ‘Please raise this through the correct process. Also you are totally in the naughty corner. And the answer will be NO, NOPE, and NO WAY again.’ 


(I bet my bosses are all looking for work requiring a Shannon now. Give me a week without projects, and I’ll get caught watching oceanography talks on TED, change a colleagues profile picture to one where he sports a 70’s pornstache, give someone lessons on how to use facebook at work, and start a revolution.)


In other news, the wind died down enough this morning for me to finally break out the bike that Lisa lent me!! I have decided that Archer will get a run every morning… I thought very briefly about joining him on the running, but then I remembered that running is actually not something i have ever enjoyed. Ever.

Biking on the other hand is totally easy, right? Hell it’s probably even relaxing, you get to sit the whole way.*

*I haven’t been on a bike since 2009 I think, in Rarotonga, and at the time I was fueled by pina-coladas and tropical sun. 

So this morning I started with teaching him to walk beside the bike on a lead while I wheeled it. we had a few false starts, because he’s all about pulling ahead when he can, and I don’t think he’s actually met a bike before, but it was a good start. Next we’ll graduate up to stopping and turning on command, then riding!!

Flush with my success (and late for my train) I jumped on the bike, and peddled to the train station. And discovered that actually biking is harder than I remember – for starters, I’m pretty sure I used to have better balance than I do now. What the heck happened to that?!

Anyway, Biking, it’s a thing I do now.*

*A thing I’ve done once. That counts. Shut up.