“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bad luck

These photos were taken at Takapuna beach, north of the Auckland business district, across a big bridge. We went out and test drove a boat a few weeks ago.
We also had fun last night at my company's Christmas party. Yeah, it was on a Tuesday night, in November, and no one bothers calling it a "holiday" party. Whatever. We had to leave unexpectedly (9 pm, we'd had 3.5 hrs of visiting and food and drinks, so that was enough anyway). Barb called to say Fargo was missing. I thought I was going to puke when she told me this, because this is very unusual for him. My Rottweiler is very attached to people, and never just takes off for the hell of it. My immediate assumption was that he had left the property, somehow getting past the gates, and been hit by a car. Or, someone driving by picked him up (he is friendly and handsome). Those were the only possible scenarios. Why else would he be gone that long, and not come when called? Barb and Eric alerted the neighbors, walked up and down the hill and neighborhood, calling him, and had no response. They must have been worried sick. To think that my dog had come all the way across the Pacific, into the opposite hemisphere, on the other side of the earth, to go through 30 days of isolation, only to end up roadkill- this was horrifying.
Barb called back shortly after we started our drive back home to tell us he was back! What relief I felt! Eric found him on the property next to theirs. He'd been hiding in a shed because he got shocked by the electric fence, ran away in fear and pain, and didn't know how to get back across the fence. Fargo is attracted to the other side of the electric fence because there are cows there, which he's very interested in, but we've kept him away (hooves and horns, you know). Fargo was out alone after eating his dinner, so no one saw what happened. The yard is fenced but there's no physical fence where the electricity is, just 2 wires running horizontally.
So you would think we could safely retire to bed with the cats and dog then. But no, we had another shock- one of the cats had peed on our new mattress. UGH UGH UGH, Why? That has never happened before. I had just changed the litter. The mattress has a wool pad on top, you can't take it off to clean. I had to change the sheets, Darin rotated the mattress, and I used some enzymatic cleaner on the spot. After work today we bought a mattress protector pad. I'm so pissed at myself for not doing it sooner. Today Darin let the cats spend more time outside the bedroom (they've been confined mostly), and there was no repeat performance. Instead, Jazz managed to pick a fight with and chase Eric's cat Aqua. I don't think anyone got hurt. Just 2 more weeks, kitties, and we'll move you into our new house.
The chicks are getting bigger. There are just 5 of the 7 left, as two escaped the cage and were eaten by Pukekos or falcons. The turkeys have taken up residence across the street on the neighbor's land. We don't have any way to confine them to B&E's land, as they are tame but still free range wild turkeys.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Giving thanks

Thanks to...
...my pets, who tolerated 30 days quarantine, to comfort me here at the edge of the earth.
...my sister and brother in law, who have taken care of me, put up with me, and educated me about living in Auckland.
...my husband, for taking care of the pets and house after I left So Cal for Auckland, and for doing all the busywork to get our lives in order over here.
...my friends who send the regular or occasional email, to give feedback and share information about their lives. I really appreciate this, and I encourage everyone to leave a comment on the blog or send me an email.
...the new friends I have made here, who, so far, are Americans. I am trying to make Kiwi friends, but they tend to be aloof. There are people from all over the world here, and I'm glad for the diversity.
...New Zealand Immigration service, who approved our application for residence (with another payment of $600) so quickly! Yay! The main advantage of this is that I can take advantage of the socialized medicine, and see a specialist at a subsidized cost instead of $325 just for a consultation.

We celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday, the 25th, at Barb's house with 3 other Americans in Auckland, who also happened to be California escapees. We had wild turkey, homemade stuffing, an award winning NZ Pinot Gris, and incredibly rich and yummy chocolate cake. We had a field trip down to visit the cows, turkeys, and chickens. The wild turkeys were re-homed here from a local friend's property- he wanted to get rid of them. We captured a tom and 2 hens and they have made a home here. They are quite interesting and amusing- it was funny to see the cows chasing the turkeys.

Today Darin, Barb and I went to a dog show and met a Borzoi breeder who is interested in lure coursing. She is keen to buy the equipement when visiting the US in April, and I promised to send her the information about where to buy it. As far as Barb and I can tell, the lure coursing here in NZ is just for sighthounds. I did lure coursing with my Rottweiler, and he loved it, at Luratics in San Diego. What a great group. We watched the rottweilers show, and all of them have short muzzles. They also do not disqualify dogs for missing teeth, as the US standard does. I had a nice meeting with Vickie and Ken Brodmuir, whose dogs are very nice. I saw my first Kelpie. There was only one there, though. The other breeds I hadn't come across until moving here include the huntaway and pig dogs. I find it appalling that pet stores sell puppies and kittens in their shops, frequently what they call "designer" dogs, crosses of purebreeds (Bichon x Lhasa Apso, Jack Russel x Papillon, etc.) for upwards of $500, what you might expect to pay for a purebreed dog. Apparently, the kennel clubs here don't care as much about the future of their breeds as the rest of the world.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Fargo, Jazz, and Latte were released from quarantine ($3200 NZD paid) today! Darin brought them home and got them settled. Fortunately, they gave Fargo a bath before his release. The cats are confined to our bedroom for awhile, and Fargo was kept in a crate in the shed until Barb, Eric and I returned from work. Barb, Darin, and I took Barb's dog Cerebus and Fargo to meet each other at the local park. There were no problems, so we brought them home and Fargo got to come into the house. Cerebus got fed, then Fargo. Fargo didn't have much interest in eating, he was so happy and excited to be free from confinement. He did tell Cerebus where to go when he got too close to his dish, though. When Barb and I went to feed the chickens, the dogs came along. Fargo was obsessing over his "Cuz" squeaky ball, and totally ignored Cerebus racing at him in the paddock. Latte ate a plate of Jimbo's raw beef, but Jazz wasn't interested. All of the pets are looking well fed and need exercise. They seem tired out from the stress of the day.
Our house purchase went "unconditional" yesterday after we all signed. The current owners will have the roof repaired, and we'll have access to the garage on the 22nd of Nov. Our closing date is Dec. 15th. Darin is researching homeowners insurance, and we have approval for 3 different mortgages. We just need to decide which one will give us the best rate and perks. Finally, we got the majority of our USD transferred to Everbank, which exchanged it into NZD. Then we'll get the money wired into the ANZ account. Whew! Good thing Darin doesn't have a job, because all these things have kept him really busy! I never could have done it without him, so THANKS DARIN!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Baby chicks

These baby chicks were hatched just a day ago. We're not sure what breed they are. The cows were in the chicken pen eating grass and one of them dropped a pile. Barb accidentally stepped in it. Good thing she has rubber boots on.

Other important birds of note are the Pukeko and Tui. The Pukeko like to eat the chickens's feed as well as steal the eggs and baby chicks. Today, we are going to scope out some wild turkeys that hang about during chicken (chook) feeding time, with an eye toward catching one for Thanksgiving dinner. Darin says he'll clean it.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Offer accepted

Holy cow, we just bought a house! It's a few kilometers from Barb and Eric's house, off Scenic Drive. Yippee!!!
It's not a done deal yet, we need to get our money from the US bank accounts and secure a mortgage. Today Darin went along to the inspection, and there appears to be a leak in the roof. We just had a big storm (another), and there is a spot on the ceiling and on the carpet below. It is leaking around the solar panel that is attached to the roof. We will ask that this be fixed. Fortunately, this house was build with hardwood, heartwood Rimu, which is solid. It has Rimu hardwood polished floors in 2 bedrooms, the hallway, and the kitchen. It's throughout so we could pull up the carpet and finish the floor in the living room.
The house is on a lot 809 square meters, with lots of shrubs, trees, flowers, etc. It's fenced and has backyard access. There is a veggie garden, a small patio area in back and a porch in front. There's a double garage, gas stove, solar water heating, and septic is a biological system that digests the waste. We have city water (many homes out here have water tanks that collect rainwater). There are 2 large bedrooms and one small, that I think will be turned into our closet. Only one bathroom, but it's recently remodeled and large. The toilet is in a separate room, a lot of houses are like that here. There's a hearth to put a woodburner back in, but it was removed when current owners installed a heat pump. There is insulation in the ceiling, and there's storage under the house. The view from the back of the house is West towards the forest parks. We have neighbors on either side of us, fairly close, but it feels private. The street we are on dead ends. This will be the 4th house in a row that we have lived in on a cul-de-sac.
We bought something quickly because I have had trouble feeling settled. I feel that if we're going to make a serious attempt to live here, we need our own place to call home. I am impatient. So is Darin. We had wanted to buy a house with land, like Barb and Eric have, but those properties within commuting distance of Auckland are out of our price range. So, we'll save our money for buying land later. We still plan to keep chickens, and, fortuitously, baby chicks are hatching as I write this. Two are hatched already. We'll have our pick of the juveniles! No idea what breed they are- a neighbor brought over the fertilized eggs when she heard Barb's hens are broody. Less than a week until I get my pets back!!
You can see photos of the house on the following link.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

house hunting

Darin and I are house shopping. We've given up on finding any land within commute distance of Auckland downtown- it is just too much money. We are looking for something with a yard, with some privacy, and a kitchen we can work in. Most of the houses here have little insulation, no central air/heating, no screens on the windows, tiny sinks, and tiny yards. So, we've been looking out west, near Barb and Eric's home (where we are currently living), where it's quiet. There are plenty of bush (forest) walks nearby, and great views from the hills. The west coast/Tasman sea beaches are about 30 min away, along twisty forest roads. We went to Piha (photo) on Sunday, and it reminded me quite a lot of Oregon. This is a good thing. To get to the west coast beaches there is no highway along the coast. It is a destination, not a throughfare.
So we'll have to put off our desire to have land for a while longer. With a house out west of Auckland, in the Waitakeres, we can keep chickens at least. And if we are careful with our money, we'll save up to buy land to move to later, or build a "bach" (pronounced "batch", a small vacation home). A second property is tax-decuctable, so in our interest to buy. The commute into the city will be about an hour, but there's a train nearby. Plus, if we buy something near Barb and Eric, we can still carpool into the city.
This past weekend Guy Faukes day was celebrated with fireworks displays. It's like 4th of July only the weather was quite cool. It was a really good show. You could buy fireworks for home displays but only the week prior to the day, but the government is changing it due to the high number of accidents/stupidity with fireworks.
By the way- least corrupt government in the world is New Zealand and Iceland. Yay!