“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.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The last day of the year

Summer Sacrifice

Weather is sunny, warm but not too hot, and calm. Nice day for killing chickens.

The Brown Shavers (n=4) haven't been laying for several weeks, so they have had their last meal. The hens will be transformed into dog and cat food, and new pullets (young chickens) will be acquired from my sister's flock. We also have the young Leghorn pullet.

I've pulled out the pork shoulder from the deep freeze to make sausages. I am thinking of doing half Italian sausage, half chorizo. We need to clear out the freezer to put the cow in. The cow, Angus 88 as she is known, has been very naughty and must be punished. She jumped the fence at my sister's property and went to visit the boy cow (neutered fortunately) down the road. I got a call on Christmas Eve for help herding her back home. We tried really hard, but she was not to be deterred. She jumped several more fences and managed to keep away from us. The neighbors with the boy cow allowed her to stay a few days to visit. We returned on Boxing Day to try again, yet we were thwarted repeatedly. The man who comes to perform the homekill has been called, and he's agreed to take her some time in January. Everyone is on holiday now, so nothing important gets done until the 2nd or 3rd week in January. She is going to taste delicious.

Our First Trip to the South Island: Christchurch

We took advantage of the cheap introductory fares of Pacific Blue to fly from Auckland to Christchurch. I snapped this woman's photo as she got off the plane we were about to board. Chch is located about half-way down the south island on the east coast. We arrived about 7 pm on a Friday and checked into our hotel downtown, the Millenium. Wow, pretty swank! The staff was great and the room was nice, so I'd recommend that for any visitors who want to pay about $175/night. We had a room overlooking the cathedral and adjacent square, and you could walk to all the downtown tourist sites, which included, for us, the Arts Centre (crafty, arty stalls and shops), the Canterbury Museum, the Botanical Gardens, and the Avon River (we went punting). We also had some great food. The Bismark imports kegs of German beer (HB Munichen) and makes its own bratwurst, and serves it in a hard roll with saurkraut and mustard. Saturday night we had an amazing meal at Sezn, about 7 min by taxi from downtown. We were so happy to see a California Zinfandel on the menu! They are not easy to find here in NZ. We had the fixed price meal, and it was without fault. On Sunday we took the bus to Sumner, on the coast, to have breakfast and walk along the beach. At the beach I saw a policeman walking his shepherd, and it looked like they were searching for something. The next day, a news article said a severed foot had been found on that beach, and the police had been searching for the rest of the body!! We visited the Antarctic centre before our flight back to Auckland, which was a relief from the heat that afternoon. The "snow and ice" experience was the best. They give you coats to go into this room where a "blizzard" rages every 30 min. There is an ice slide (yeah I did it!), an igloo, and a snow tent. I learned that there were once trees and dinosaurs on Antarctica. If you like to read, I recommend Cheating Death, about a woman doctor who diagnoses herself with breast cancer while working in Antarctica.

On the subject of sickness, I came down with the flu that Sunday we returned to Auckland. I had a fever over 100F for 3 days, a terrible cough, and was unable to work for 3 days. I managed to go to the office for 2 days before it closed for the holidays. Darin caught my sickness too, but he didn't get it as bad. I am still trying to recover, suffering with a lingering chest pain and cough. Still, we have had some fun. Darin and I hosted Christmas dinner, enjoyed with friends and fellow expats Adam and Roberta and my sister and brother-in-law. The following day, Boxing Day, we had dinner with a really nice family, from Ohio, who we met in Fiji, at their new home in Devonport (Auckland north shore). Roberta's birthday was Dec 27, so we went up to Goat Island Marine Reserve and snorkeled. The water is still chilly, so wetsuits were required. We had fish and chips at the pub in Matakana afterwards. Matakana is a lovely village on the way to Goat Island that has a great Saturday market. I went along to the market with friends Steve and Holly before Christmas, and we stopped for a picnic with the dogs on the way home.

Darin and I also made an overnight visit to my co-worker's batch (vacation cottage) up north in Mangawhai. We brought venison steaks, my homemade bratwurst, and salad with lettuce from our garden. We brought Fargo, and he was very well behaved with their two cats. They took us to the beach, Te Arai point, and Darin fished with Frank (caught a few small rock cod). They also pointed us toward some real estate offices, where we started thinking again about buying property. Barb and Eric are on the same page, so we will have to pursue this some more.

Happy new year, everyone!