“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, August 29, 2007

Marking time with an anniversary and birthday

Darin and I had our 17th wedding anniversary on August 16th. We used 20,000 United Airlines frequent flyer miles each to fly to Nadi, Fiji on partner Air New Zealand. Fiji is to NZ what Hawaii is to the US- a tropical island vacation destination, only 3 hours flight from Auckland. Our destination was Beqa Island, south of Nadi on the main island of Viti Levu. The ride from Nadi to Pacific Harbor, where we meet the resort’s boat, is about 2 hours. The boat ride over to Beqa is about an hour. When we arrived at Beqa Lagoon Resort, a transfer boat took us to the shore, where we then waded into the shore to be greeted by the singing staff with a handmade lei. We had been to this resort before, in 2004, with our friends Jan and Jerry Hemme. The resort has had some upgrades since then, mainly to the beachfront bures and the swimming pool. We stayed in a garden bure, surrounded by a pond full of water lilies. There are no telephones or televisions in the rooms. Meals are prepared by a very talented local chef, and served in the main bure that also houses the bar, the office, and a lounge area with games and books. The resort is on a small island with only footpaths between villages- no cars. During our 8 day visit, we did 6 days of 2-tank boat dives, one shore dive, had a picnic and snorkelled on a small, remote island, kayaked, visited the local villages, had a massage, napped, read books, learned to weave coconut palm into a basket, and met some really nice people. In one of those “hey, it’s a small world” moments, we met an American family moving to Auckland. The mom and daughter finished their scuba certification there. I was really impressed to see them doing so well, considering the wind was blowing up some big waves.
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

Caves of Bethell's Beach

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.

Angela's husband recently accepted a highly coveted position at Cornwall Park, overseeing the care and maintenance of the sheep and cows there. A house next to the park comes with the job, with kennels for the herding dogs. He said he has to obtain a firearms license for his job. The staff of the park have to shoot any loose dogs in the park that are worrying the stock.

There is a theater here called "the half pipe" with bean bag chairs! I really want to see the Simpson's movie there. But, I just spend half of last month in theatres for the Telecom Film Festival, so haven't done it yet. I made a friend at the films, another Kiwi, and we're going to hang out with him and his partner tomorrow.