Happy new year, everyone!
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Happy new year, everyone!
Monday, December 10, 2007
We also spent some money on fresh strawberries, now in season and grown locally. There's a place north of us that sells fresh strawberry ice cream, mmm. We're also enjoying fresh lettuce from our garden. I spent several hours in the garden weeding and mulching. It should be good to go now, at least until the bugs get it. I have been taking a free class called "gardening for migrants", and I learned of an organic pesticide: 1 litre of water, a squirt of dish soap or vinegar, and 3-4 smashed garlic cloves. Let sit in a sunny location for about 10 days, then load into the sprayer. Should be toxic to pests but safe for people.
Last weekend I took Fargo on a hike around Piha. Piha is a west coast beach community about 40 min drive from our home, very popular with surfers. As you can see from the photos, it was a beautiful day. The hike was challenging in parts, but the views were the payoff. Fargo still had energy at the end to chase the tennis ball into the surf. A playful dog I called David Bowie (one brown eye, one blue eye) hung out with us.
The China Study was didactic, preachy, and depressing. I returned it to the library. Now I'm reading (when I have time) Collapse by Jared Diamond. Good, gritty stuff. Also on the agenda is Stephen Colbert's I Am America, and So Can You! Obviously, Americans are suffering tragically from the writer's strike- I refer of course to the mall and church shootings. What, you think they're not related? Bah.
We saw This is England at the swish Rialto cinema, and it was great. It reminded me of American History X, the brilliant and gruesome film starring Edward Norton. I like him almost as much as Johnny Depp. This is England is great for the 1980's noir and realistic acting. Another movie I've watched recently is Fido. This was ordered on eBay from Singapore or somewhere. It was released on DVD in the US in November, and no one seems to know when it will be available in NZ. So I imported it because it's about a pet zombie. Funny and dark, it is well worth a watch. The father is played by Dylan Baker, who is another great actor. He reached the highest "creep factor" in Happiness.
I've also re-watched Donnie Darko. Wow. If you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for? It is a classic in the vein of Repo Man.
The most recent CD purchase was a 3 CD set of Queen's greatest hits. Ok I'm a geek, like I care. The other CD I've bought is I'll Be Lightning by a NZ artist, Liam Finn. Nice, mellow. The title of this post is the title of one of his songs, and I chose it because I'm planning some changes, I hope for the better. Let me elaborate.
I mentioned in my last post that my work is unsatisfying. My sister Barb has been working as a Clinical Trials Coordinator for a few months, and told me they have another position open. She said the work is interesting, the people are nice, and that I should apply. So I sent my CV and got an interview. They wanted my current supervisor as a referee (reference). I told them that he doesn't know I'm here. After the interview, I was told they'd offer me the job if my references checked out, and so I had to tell my supervisor that I wanted him to give me a reference. I was nervous about this meeting with him, but he was understanding and nice. Whew! I knew when I accepted the job I have now that I was taking a big risk and was prepared for a challenge. The challenge took a different form than I had expected, and this position has pushed me into a new direction. A direction which I think will be positive, a new learning experience, and I'm always up for that. The pay cut will be a drag, and it will be strange to work in the same office as my sister. I'm ready though for a change, for the better.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
The flights to and from the US were on Air New Zealand, and I got to catch up on some movie watching. Best film was Hot Fuzz, and a close second was When Night Falls. Perfect Creature was boring, and A Mighty Heart was long and just sad. Knocked Up had its moments, but was not that great.
Our visit to San Diego (the week prior to ND) was awesome. We ate mexican food almost daily,
I've been cooking a lot lately. I like cooking because it's something I can plan, perform, and then enjoy eating. I am not happy at my "real" job (that pays the bills) right now, so cooking gives me job satisfaction. Tonight, Darin and I made Salsa del Norte, consisting of roasted tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, chipotle peppers, and red wine vinegar. Necessary to make your own, because the only "salsa" you can get here is the El Torito brand- glorified tomato sauce. Here's an asparagus, blue cheese, and smoked salmon omlette I made this morning. Strawberries are in season. The weather is absolutely grand.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
The 80's happened: Reaganomics, the Iran-Contra Affair, the AIDS crisis, and disco was dead. Yuppies were snorting cocaine and Miami Vice was a highly rated television show. Madonna and Michael Jackson rose to the highest level of popularity. Americans became obsessed with money and consuming like never before. The space shuttle Challenger exploded after take off, in front of our eyes, on the TV in our classroom. We used to watch every launch. The 80's gave us televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, Oral Roberts, and Jimmy Swaggert sucking millions of dollars out of stupid people, all the while behaving like the opposite of a "good Christian". OK, to be fair, the 70's had its share of cults, most notably Jonestown. Worse was the hysteria over daycare sex abuse, some going so far as to claim satanic ritual abuse. Ah, the good old days, ha ha!
Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Here's a photo of the mural in Swanson, with an incorrect use of appostrophe (posessive). It looks old, so I like it anyway. The picture of Darin is from O'Neill's beach, just north of Bethell's beach. We went there after watching France beat the NZ All Blacks in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup. We'll get them next time, when the World Cup is held here in Auckland!
In other news, I got my NZ driver's lisence! I also got the motorcycle lisence, because although I don't have a motorcycle (yet), it's easier to transfer the US lisence to NZ than start over from the beginning. In my lisence photo I have an angry face, because their stupid eye exam machine wouldn't allow me to see the 3rd column of letters. I got really upset because I've had an exam recently and know my vision is good (with corrective lenses). Still, I had to go to the eye doc and get a 5 min exam and pay $20 for this certificate saying my eyes are fine. I'm feeling like a real Kiwi now because the local elections were just held, and we got to vote. Darin has joined a hunting group, Deerstalkers, and intends to do a bit of hunting here. Deer are only raised on farms here, typically for export. When they escape, along with the goats and pigs gone wild, they are fair game. To my knowledge there is no hunting lisence or fee to pay, so to hunt a wild deer, pig, or goat is to protect the NZ biosecurity and get "free" meat- a win/win situation.
Darin built me an herb garden using the wood from the old fence in our front yard, and we're supposed to plant the garden today. The wind is blowing so hard, I really don't want to go out. Also, I'm recovering from a minor food poisoning. Yesterday we ate at a purported "Mediterranian" restaurant, where I ordered moussaka. I have ordered this at another restaurant in Auckland, and it tasted nothing like real moussaka. Again, I was disappointed- no eggplant, made with potatoes, topped with tomato sauce/katsup. Moussaka is a classic dish, and I'm just offended that Auckland restaurants serve this pathetic excuse for the dish. But, yeah, I ate it anyway, I was hungry. Based on how I felt the rest of the day, the dish was obviously sitting around for awhile. I'm feeling better now, so I should get some other things done.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
I've just finished reading the book The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon. It was a good read, but still I prefered his book, the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I had to renew my book checkout in order to finish the latest book. Though it was a fun read, it's hard to make time for reading. Next, I have the Omnivore's Dilemma (also from the library. It is really well written, much better than Diet for a Dead Planet. Very readable and impressive, so far.
Unfortunately, I accidentally shut the door on Latte's tail while I was holding him, and he freaked out. Good thing I was wearing a padded bra, because my t-shirt was shredded on the chest. I have like 5 bandaids on my arm and chest, and was in a lot of pain. A good stiff drink and a couple of tylonol have helped. Latte is fine.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Of course, this vacation was reality and not a dream, so it was not perfect. The downsides of this trip included numerous itchy mosquito bites, cockroaches in our room, occasional rain- with likely sewage runoff from the villages- preventing us from shore diving at night, and the stinky smoke from trash and sugar cane field-burning on Viti Levu.
My sister Barb turned 41, I mean, 28, on August 26th. She had no idea I was planning a surprise party for her that day. She thought she was coming over for a BBQ lunch, but instead I had 19 people (and 2 kids) at my house that day, our first party in NZ! My friends are awesome and cool and helped with food, set-up, and clean up. The food was delicious; especially the pound cake I made with the flower-shape pan Roberta gave me for my birthday. I made a strawberry sauce and whipped cream to top it. The orchids on the cake Holly had made were found growing below the steps to the backyard. Darin’s lips and hands turned purple from the balloons he blew up (made in China, yikes!). His homebrewed beer was popular, and the weather was sunny and comfortable. We had guests fill out a True/False questionnaire titled, “You don’t know Barb”, with a prize for first and second place. Some of the true statements about her were funny or embarrassing stories, and Barb got to comment on each one as we went over the results. There was lots of laughing, so the party was a success.
Last night was the lunar eclipse, or luna rosa. We had a thunderstorm blow up about 6 pm, so I had no expectation that we would get to see it. By 9 pm, the wind was blowing clouds across the bright moon, and they were moving past swiftly. We could see a dark dent on the bottom of the moon. By 10 pm the moon was indeed red, and the light from the moon was gone. What a beautiful sight! You can see a photo of it on this website http://www.stardome.org.nz/ or this one http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0708/S00371.htm
Saturday, August 04, 2007
My friend Janine and I took my dog, Fargo, and her landlady’s dog, Buster, to Bethell’s Beach on a recent Saturday morning. We had an exceptionally nice sunny afternoon and time to walk around and explore the sea caves accessible at low tide. Buster is a 1 year old Huntaway, a herding dog, and got along well with Fargo. He is younger and faster, so when they chased the tennis ball, Buster could beat Fargo easily. Apparently there is some hound in the background of this breed. I have a short video of Buster teasing Fargo with a piece of kelp, and the two of them running around us.
Later that day, I tortured Fargo with a cold bath in the yard. There’s no way for me to get him into our bathtub, because it’s a clawfoot and rather tall. There’s no way he’d jump in there, and I won’t be lifting his big Rottweiler butt anytime soon unless it’s an emergency. Actually he’s looking quite trim and healthy, but he’s still heavy.
Fargo is enjoying the company of our friend Rita's puppy Reagan, who I like to think of as "Raygun" because his name reminds me of one of my least favorite presidents.
He is 3 months old, and staying temporarily while Rita gets the retaining wall in her backyard repaired. We visited her friend Angela today after the dog show, and saw her 2 week-old Dogue de Bordeau (French Mastiff) puppies. The photo of the large Dogue is a 10 month old puppy.