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11 May / Autumn leaves

Well, it would be nice if it did. Leave, I mean. It would then be nice if winter left as well. But no, I have another four months of this sort of joyous weather to get down and dirty with before there’s any chance of a crack in the grey sky to let through a beam of sunlight.
 
This is the worst part of the autumn weather. In winter there’s the promise of icy mornings and clear crisp air. There’s the first signs that the whole shebang is coming to an end when the daffodils poke their green sprouts up through the frozen earth and announce that it’s time to move on, buddy. A new season is in town.
 
Still, there’s some beauty to be had along with the constant shivering.
 
Today, I watched a flock of leaves fly across the sky, swooping and diving and circling in unison. Our patchy lawn has disappeared beneath a colourful display of yellow, brown, and brilliant red. Dead leaves are now sheltering all that weeding I never got around to from sight.
 
Holy s**t. An earthquake. No, literally. Right now. Hold on for a minute and I’ll get you a Richter scale reading…
 
4.7 and it was only 7km deep so it has a Mercalli scale of 6.
 
Phew. Well, that got the heart going right before bedtime and now my darling has to listen to the news every half hour until he receives confirmation that earthquakes in Christchurch still make it onto the national news framework.
 
Yay. A long, sleepless night ahead.
 
 
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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

Reading the newspaper today, which is what I call looking at a news site on my laptop, a story caught my eye. A sixty-seven year old man pleaded guilty to the sexual assault and murder of a seventeen year old girl.
 
Luckily, this was in the UK so I didn’t need to triple check my door. And the lock on it couldn’t keep out a determined child, let alone a full grown adult.
 
I double checked the pictures again. Yes, he was a fully grown adult.
 
Reading on further, I discovered this crime occurred in 1984. When I was in standard four. Which is now year 6, or something equally confusing (why can’t things just stay as they are forever?)
 
Apparently, there was a teenager brutally murdered 32 years ago and no culprit was ever found. No leads, no evidence. Samples were taken from the body and kept on file and when DNA started to be routinely tested, her presumed assailants DNA was typed and entered into the database. No match. Still no leads.
 
Then a forty-four year old woman had an argument with her boyfriend and broke his necklace.
 
You did read that correctly.
 
She was hauled into the police cells (because you can’t have dangerous necklace-breakers just wandering the streets) and so her DNA was routinely checked against the database, and it found a familial match.
 
When her father was tracked down and tested, bingo. There was the murderer. He pleaded guilty and will serve at least twenty-two years, which for the US among you is a very long time indeed in a Commonwealth country.
 
I often think that every citizen of every country with access to DNA testing should be routinely DNA tested at birth. Horrible invasions of privacy aside, I think this would go a long way towards making sure that criminals have a much harder time staying uncaught. And if everyone had to do it, then it shouldn’t grate too much against the national or international conscience, should it?
 
If we started with the people already incarcerated for crimes they possible didn’t commit and worked our way backwards, the system may even start to pay for itself.
 
Then I think, how would a murderer get away with their crime? How would they evade capture? Would a crime writer even be a thing any longer?
 
So, ignore my theory above. Terrible invasion of privacy that we shouldn’t, as a society, allow.
 
 
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09 May / The big tick

Today was one of those days that are few and far between. The type of day where I got to tick more items off my big list of things to do, than I added to it.
 
Yep. A net loss. Or gain. It depends on whether you’re my free time or my workload.
 
I can’t reveal what those items were, of course. They’re heavily guarded secrets that my workplace would kill to protect.
 
Hah! Good one.
 
Truth is, I can’t reveal them because you’re probably already half asleep and you might hurt yourself or your laptop if I push you over the edge.
 
Today was the kind of day that I prepare to-do lists for. Most of the time I’m disappointed, and often I’m left wondering if I should just let demands pile up haphazardly while I get on with whatever-the-hell-I-like, but this makes it all worthwhile.
 
I got stuff done.
 
And if anyone questions my statement, I can point to the writing on the list that shows where the stuff used to be and where it now isn’t by virtue of a horizontal (-ish) line.
 
Who am I kidding? No one’s going to question me. Sigh.
 
Back to the still-to-do part of my to-do list.
 

 
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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

08 May / What a headache

Ever since Easter arrived and departed this year, in all its hot cross glory, I’ve had a headache.
 
I’m fairly used to headaches. Being a highly strung individual brings with it a number of benefits. Knowing how to keep on trucking with a tight band of tension wound across my forehead and teeth clenched together to keep them from gnashing are some of them.
 
But this wasn’t like that. For a start, it was in the wrong location.
 
Tension headaches are easily ignored bands across the front of my head. I can work through them, which is yet another reason they’re pointless. (I wish my body would learn these things.) They’re also nicely balanced across both sides of my head, as pain should be.
 
But this new headache was located in the back of my head and only on my right hand side. That’s on my right hand side if you’re standing behind me and looking forward, not my right hand side if you’re looking at me. If you’re not in the room at all, you’ll just have to guess the side I’m referring to. In the grand scheme of things it probably doesn’t matter.
 
There’s another downside to this new ache of my head as well. I can’t work through it.
 
When I’m at home and it starts, I weep gently on the couch. When I’m at work, I put my head down and try not to move until the painkillers kick in.
 
I would weep but that wouldn’t look great in the workplace. Imagine if they drag a group of hopeful employees about the floor trying to sell them on a career in insurance and they see me weeping at my desk. Believe me, insurance is a hard sell as a career in the first place.
 
My only consolation in the first few weeks was that it was a headache. It couldn’t last forever. Two doctor visits and three prescriptions later, my only consolation is that when I die at least my head will stop hurting.
 
And if you’ll excuse me now I’ll attempt to perform some neck exercises that are failing to stem the tide of pain each day in exactly the same way the headache preventer doesn’t prevent them, and the anti-inflammatory fails to anti-inflame anything.
 
(whine of the week over and out)
 
 
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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

07 May / Blog Neglect

When I first started up my blog I was going to write an entry every single day. I know, I can hear you laughing from here.
 
It may surprise you to know that I did exactly that for much (not all) of the first year of my blog. I was a good little blogger, regularly blogging about the things that filled my little blogging mind. Some of them were even of interest to other people.
 
Then I started to resent the thirty minutes of time I spent writing my blog in the evening. Why, I could use that time to do actual writing for books that I could sell!
 
So I gradually tapered my blogs down to every other day instead. It may surprise you to learn that I did not use the freed up time to write. I used that time to watch more telly and Face more book.
 
Then I discovered that every other day comes around almost as often as every day. It’s like, every day with only one day in-between. So I thought about investing even less time in my blog (because, after all, I could use that time to write real books yada-yada-yada).
 
During my sabbatical I made the final call to seriously decrease, and after tapering off to once every three days or so, I abruptly moved to once a week.
 
Once a week is fine, I told myself. It’s often enough to keep me in the habit, but not so often that it feels intrusive. Why, I bet that after a week of not blogging I’ll look forward to writing my blog!
 
I know. I can hear you laughing from here.
 
So, I reduced it down to once a week. I also started up a newsletter that I sent out to my newsletter subscribers once a week. That’s two things a week I was writing.
 
After a month I felt justified dropping it back to once a fortnight just to even things out.
 
Then, the other day at work, someone was looking at my blog. They were looking for something specific and complaining that they couldn’t find it because whoever designed my website had neglected to install a search button on my blog. I countered that I couldn’t be bothered installing one and building a website from the ground up is a much bigger project than they realise, thank you very much.
 
I also tried to remember the last time I’d written a blog entry. Like my old blog entries. Not one of my, “I have a book to promote,” blog entries.
 
It was hard to recall and I didn’t want to embarrass myself by looking it up, but I thought that I should probably get right on that.
 
So, here I am. Getting right on that. After a pause of a day or two to collect myself.
 
In the brilliance of late night decisions that I’ll no doubt regret in the morning, I’ve decided to go back to blogging every day. I doubt this will curtail my writing, although it scares me that it may claw seriously into my gazing blankly at Facebook time.
 
If you don’t want to receive an entry every single day, you may want to get out now. I mean to keep this up!
 
Yeah, I know.
 
I can hear you laughing from here.
 
 
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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

A long time ago a star-crossed pair of lovers were separated by the woman’s forced marriage to a monster. When her lover attempted to reconnect and save her from his cruel treatment, it resulted in tragedy. The man shot, their child drowned, and the woman finding blessed relief only by dying. Now, many generations later, the monstrous entity who tortured them so long ago has forced himself into the empty vessel of a businessman on the brink of suicide. While the main players, in a jumble of reincarnation, have so far been unaware of the roles in an earlier life, that’s all about to change. With a thirst for vengeance only whetted by his long-ago murderous tally, the monster is determined to re-enact the earlier love triangle so he can take his revenge again.

Tom Cogan is one of these players. He’s never questioned his marriage before to Julie – he’s been too busy counting his blessings – but with a lack of attention on both their parts eroding their steady commitment, he’s found himself on rockier ground. When he meets Annie, a local movie theater cashier, he finds himself experiencing flashbacks from centuries before that Annie also shares. With his happiness brutally rocked off course, can he work out what is happening in time to save himself, and save his marriage?

I found this a very entertaining book to read. It was a completely unique storyline and it held me enthralled throughout. Although I was slightly worried when I first started that it might overly veer into romance, I was refreshingly surprised to find a gripping supernatural tale of eternal love and revenge that never verged into the saccharine.

Linda Cassidy Lewis has a marvelous turn of phrase and her writing and the story were satisfying and entrancing. Weird and definitely worthwhile.

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19 Apr / The perfect day

Today was the perfect work day.

I turned up. Well before I needed to. I am so awesome at turning up to work that I almost impress myself, and I’m hard to impress.

Someone else who usually doesn’t turn up turned up before me so I didn’t have to walk across the office in the dark wondering if the lights were going to work today. She’d already done it. Plus, I got to say ‘Hello’ to someone as soon as I arrived at work.

The coffee machine was broken.

Yeah, that sounds like a bad thing doesn’t it? However, it forced me to have an instant coffee instead. I make instant coffee a lot stronger and it effects me a lot quicker than any machine coffee could. I was bouncing.

I forgot I’d already had a coffee, and accidentally drank another coffee.

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I did some work. I took my three week old list of things to do, which had a lot of things crossed out and a lot of things not crossed out, and transferred all the things not crossed out to a new list. Last of all I crossed out the line that said ‘make a new to-do list.’ It was to-done.

I caught an error I’d made and fixed it before anyone else caught it. It’s as though the error never occurred. If I don’t tell anyone it’ll stay that way.

I answered some questions. I asked some questions. I read my emails, and then moved them into folders so I can find them again in the future if I need them and can remember that they were sent to me.

I authorised some cheques. I invited a meeting room to a meeting. I invited some people to the meeting which now had a meeting room to hold the meeting in.

I printed out some notes, then walked from the printer to my computer to the printer to the computer to the printer because it took so long for them to transmit from the computer to the printer.

I printed in colour even though we have a sign saying not to print in colour unless you absolutely have to because it costs four times as much as black and white. I made the call. I absolutely had to. I stand by my decision.

I attended a meeting. The meeting ran slightly over, so I didn’t really have a lot of time to do anything before I went for a team-building lunch.

I had lunch. I played almost two hours of Cards Against Humanity with my team before we grew too familiar with the cards for it to be as much fun as it had started out. A team member laughed so suddenly they inhaled lemonade. I ended up coughing for ten minutes because I’d laughed so hard my lungs plain wore out.

I went back to the office, and went straight into a talk where someone who I greatly admire at work took the time to give us a wonderful and emotional telling of the life and career path she’d followed to end up in the position she’s in today.

As part of that I heard someone who I consider to be wonderful talk about how she struggles with ‘imposter syndrome’ whereby your internal monologue tells you all the time that you’re not capable and sooner or later someone else is going to spot it and you’ll be out on your ear. It made me feel better about thinking that I’m incapable and will soon be spotted.

I had fifteen minutes left during which I tried to get something done, and ended up having a long swearing session at the computer system – only after calling it pretty, complimenting its dress sense, and commenting on how much weight SharePoint had lost lately, failed to make it respond in a timely matter.

I walked out of the office and down the road to the bus-stop. The wind was very strong and for one second the light skirt of my dress flipped up over my head so that I was fully exposed (except for my petticoat, tights, and underwear) and for a moment I felt like Marilyn Munroe. Sexy goddess Marilyn, not depressed, druggie, suicide Marilyn.

While I was waiting for the bus all the autumn leaves that have been turning red and yellow and falling off the trees were picked up by a gale of wind and spun around in a breathless circle before being flung high in the air to patter down all around me.

It was a very good day.

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11 Apr / Pizza

Today I had an appointment at my doctor’s office, during which I was weighed and blood pressured. It’s three months until I have to go through the same thing again, so guess what that means..?

PIZZA!

We used to eat pizza whenever we felt like it. Maybe once a month. We’d put through an order on the website and then watch the clock – seriously just listen to the radio and watch the clock – and then make comments every few minutes about how well we thought the driver was doing.

When I was a little girl I obviously dreamed that this would be what my life was made of.

If the driver was running late, we’d talk about the time that after forty minutes we’d received a phone-call from the company saying their driver was in a car accident and they were giving us free chips due to the delay. Not as good as it sounds as they were already free due to the ordering the pizza online when they were still trying to entice people to do that by giving them free stuff. Ah, the good old days.

BTW we also checked to see that the driver was okay before accepting their apologies. We’re not monsters.

If the driver ran early we’d pull faces and wonder if this was going to be like the time that the chips were so undercooked that they had crunchy wee centres, and the oil congealed on the surface. Not in the good way.

And then one day the dream ended. Why is it only when the good times stop that you realise how happy you’ve been?

We tried to order pizza online and thought there must have been a malfunction or a kitchen fire (three times that’s happened over the years, three) as the delivery time was two hours away.

We grumbled and resorted to the telephone; our least favourite method of communication. Or my darling did. Sometimes he just has to suck it in and man up.

Same answer.

We assumed it was a one-off and ordered inferior pizza from another company. They didn’t deliver all of the desserts I paid for. After a long standoff on the phone we received a late night home invasion from a driver insisting on paying us back.

With change.

At nine-thirty.

Thanks.

The next time we needed to order we struck the same problem. Darling manned up again and questioned the friendly new owners. They were never going to have deliveries before 7.30pm at night but luckily we could come by and pick it up.

No we couldn’t. Someone doesn’t drive and someone else has Friday night drinks whether anybody else is invited or not.

We ordered from a different pizza company instead. They didn’t deliver all of my desserts. It gets hard not to take it personally.

I was dragged to a phone call where I was told that if I came into the physical pizza company at some point in the future they would give me a free dessert! I pointed out it wouldn’t be free because I’d already paid for it. Two free desserts! That would still just be the one free and the one I paid for. We reached an agreement; he would put a free credit (that I’d paid for) against my account, and I would never set foot in their physical shop to redeem it.

Sorted.

We were miserable for a few months. We ate pizza from yet another pizza company in grim silence, trying not to complain to each other about how it wasn’t like the real thing, but thinking it nevertheless.

And then we discovered that we pass fairly close by the pizza company we like on a couple of different occasions. One of these is when my darling is returning home from his dentist, and the other is when we’re returning home from my doctor.

And the rest has become habit. I get out of my doctors office, whip out my phone and place an order, and we pick it up twelve minutes later. The pizza we like. The break from it has drawn out attention to just how bloody good it is.

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Posted by Katherine Hayton in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

There’s a certain amount of courtesy required in public transportation because without it the whole structure will be in danger of collapsing and falling apart.

Even on the bus this is observed with attention to detail, and if it’s not? Well, you don’t want to be seated next to that bus passenger.

So I always find it quite surprising that for $2.90 I receive the same courtesy I afford others, yet for $199.00 it’s entirely absent.

People next to you on the bus stare out the window if they’re on the window side, and stare at their phone on the aisle side. No one sits next to another passenger unless all the double seats have an occupant and there’s no choice. You don’t talk to anyone if you can help it, unless they’re mentally irregular in which case you nod and agree.

On aeroplanes however, these observed rules appear to be unknown to the general populace. Middle seat strangers will pin you against the window with their non-stop chatter knowing that you can’t get off round the corner and walk a little bit extra to avoid the conservation. Sometimes they do this while I have earphones – the world renowned symbol for I don’t want to talk to you – plugged deep into my ear canal.

People in the window stare longingly at the aisle, and people in the aisle crane for a glance out the window.

Nothing however, is as galling as the aisle side passenger believing that they are entitled to two -count them two- armrests.

Please bear with me as I point out the most well known and least applied rule of aeroplane etiquette.

The aisle seat had the aisle armrest. The window seat had the window armrest. The middle seat, and I hope you’re following me this far, has both armrests.

Yes folks. The poor passengers crammed into the seat beside their travelling companion because they lost the toss, or find themselves crammed between two strangers because they checked in late, have two armrests at their disposal. God only knows, I wish we could give them more, and aeroplane seat configuration designers less.

So what happens when me and my darling have played turnabout and I’m sitting in the middle? Armrest theft.

Those exalted aisle passengers with their head in the clouds and their minds in the Fifty Shades of Gray gutter, for some reason forget this most elementary and sensible piece of common courtesy.

Well, no more aisle dwellers. I’m calling you at your own game and fighting you for MY armrest. I don’t care what sorry of day you’ve had, our why your eyes are red and swollen. That’s my armrest and you will respect my authoritah.

And if you don’t think I’m right, then why don’t you press your call button and have a chat to the air steward. Yeah, I’d like to see you try.

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