“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, July 27, 2008

Winter entertainment part dos

The Auckland International Film Fest has just concluded. I saw the following films, nearly all from the Incredibly Strange Films category:

Teeth was my favorite, it was funny and gross! Frontiers was also excellent, a cross between Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, with a Nazi twist. [REC] was a good jump-out-of-your-seat scare fest. Cargo 200, a Russian film, was bleak, chilling, and haunting. Three of the films I saw were Spanish (King of the Hill, [REC], and Timecrimes). I opted to not see the George Romero film, Diary of the Dead. It only has a 60% rating on the tomatometer, so I will wait for DVD release. I took my niece Stephanie to [REC] at the gorgeous Civic Theatre. I recently finished David Sedaris' new book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames. As with his other books, I enjoyed it. Now I am reading Michael Pollan's newest book, In Defense of Food. I loved The Omnivore's Dilemma, and am also enjoying this book. I was inspired to eat more fish, so Darin and I bought a whole salmon at the fish market. The fish cost us $104, but we ate some of it as sashimi, used the head and scraps for fish stock, and used the meat and some of the stock for salmon chowder. The remaining fillets we vacuum sealed and froze. I think that having it readily available in the freezer will make me more inclined to eat it.
Further adventures in food include making refried beans from scratch. This was a multi-step process, but not difficult.
1. soak pinto beans.
2. cook pinto beans
3. take cooked beans out of fridge and add to onion and garlic sauted in a little bacon fat w/ peanut oil.
4. mash 3 cups beans, add ancho chili powder, salt, 1 cup bean cooking liquid, and 1/2 cup cream.
Turned out amazing!! I must add that I was FORCED to make this from scratch, because a can of refried beans in the grocery costs $4! I kid you not! In San Diego, we paid $1.60 a can, $1.20 if on sale.

Last weekend Darin and I planted 15 trees on our Whakapirau property. You can see in the photo how muddy the road was. We got rained on intermittently, but the bare-root trees needed to be planted as soon as possible. They are varieties of peach, apple, pear, and nectarine, as well as cherry, feijoa, fig, and plum. Another 22 trees were delivered on Friday, but we were prevented from taking them up for planting by a massive storm that hit both Saturday and Sunday. I am wondering if the trees we planted last weekend are still standing upright. We will need to have a fence built around the orchard, and are expecting a quote to arrive any day now. Unfortunately, the fence guy is booked through September.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

July, I thought you were my friend but you're my enemy

July, my birthday month, is typically enjoyable, but this year it has betrayed me. Now I am another year older, and have been reminded in a shocking way how much it sucks to get old. A week before my birthday, I found myself in agonizing pain in the acute care of the hospital. I was lucky, I was told, to get the last bed. There were many other sick people in there, mostly older, with probably worse problems than me. My doctor initially thought I may have appendicitis, but it turned out to be a kidey infection. They put an IV in my arm and gave me fluids, but wouldn't let me drink in case I needed surgery. They also gave me morphine, which was great at taking away the pain, but then when they tried to examine me and localize the pain, I wasn't feeling too bad at all. They gave me IV antibiotics and kept me overnight, so I could get an ultrasound in the morning. I was released the following day, but still had pain for several more days while taking oral antibiotics. Work was generous with sick time, and covered what needed to be done.

I had been in Wellington several days prior with my sister and niece. Stephanie and I explored while Barb attended a meeting. We spent part of our Independence Day touring Parlaiment, preceeded by a trip in the cable car up the hill to the botanical garden and walking down. Wellington is a compact city with great public transportation and is close to some nice nature walks. We took our chances with the weather and walked about 6 miles round trip to Sinclair Head Seal Colony. We were not disappointed, and saw (and smelled!) many fur seals.

Along the way, you pass the Red Rocks, which we learned all about while stranded by the rain for about an hour at the visitor center.

Fortunately the rain eased up and with the wind blowing hard, our pants dried out in about an hour.

We spent another rainy afternoon at Te Papa, the national museum, where I photographed this Kiwi bird skeleton showing the largeness of its egg. Freakish, isn't it?

About half of our tree order arrived this week. They are bareroot stems that Darin and I intended to plant on our land in Maungarutoto today. Unfortunately, we had some bad sour cream on our tacos last night and both of us wound up with horrible food poisoning. We were up at least every hour last night to puke and crap our guts out. We're trying to recover today so that we can go tomorrow instead. On the positive side of things, this is a good opportunity to update this blog.

June was pretty stellar compared to July. June ended with a 4 day road trip around Northland, including Cape Rienga. Normally there are direction signs to London, Sydney, San Francisco, etc. out at the lighthouse, but the wind was so strong only London remained attached. We got nailed by the rainstorm (below) on the walk back to the car. Really, the raindrops were very painful on exposed skin. My pants were so wet on the short walk back to the parking lot, even my socks got wet. We really enjoyed the Kauri forest and all the associated museums (Gumdigger's park, Ancient Kauri Kingdom, Kauri Museum is the best!), but the highlight had to be the sand dunes on the way to Cape Rienga.

Steph made it to the top of this one. It was so beautiful and we had the place to ourselves. Darin and I hadn't been to most these places before. Four days really wasn't enough. We will definitely go back. Care to join us? Just give us an excuse to take you!