“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.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Spring 2009, or October doesn't feel much like Halloween.

Spring is full on here, and the weather has been outstanding- well, minus the rain and wind, but it can't be nice all the time.  I hung out a few loads of laundry to dry on the clothesline, bought a few plants to replace the seeds that didn't sprout in my garden, made lemonade with lemons from my trees, and bought fresh strawberries and asparagus that are recently in season. 
We recently made some big purchases.  We bought a front-loading washing machine to reduce the amount of water we use, save our clothes from agitator abuse, and use less energy. We also got a new computer, another Dell, because the one we brought with us to New Zealand 3 years ago is on its last legs, so to speak. Darin uses it for work, so it's important to have a computer he can rely on.  Also, some new cookware has been purchased. The old stuff is still functional, so it will go up to the garage in Maungaturoto for use there. We have a propane camp stove up there that we use when we stay up there.  We were last there with about 24 bulls browsing around and vocalizing their unhappiness at our arrival.  Fortunately they respected the electric fence around the garage, and the dogs stayed away from them.  
Also, on that same visit to our "farm", Ruby hunted down, caught and killed a possum.  I was worried that she was bitten or scratched, but I couldn't tell if the blood on her was hers or the possum's. She had one small scar on her elbow, later, to show for it. After her gleeful, vicious, murder, she located the tree where another was located, and Darin shot it out.  This brings the total possums killed on our property to 3.  By the way, notice the pistol grip on the .22 rifle he is holding in the photo above. A change in NZ law required that he get a different firearms license and buy a new storage case.

So Halloween is just a few days away, and I don't have any plans. So I sent an email to my friends and asked if they wanted to dress up like a zombie with me and go on a pub crawl on Halloween. Only one of them emailed back to say he was busy. I probably won't do it on my own, because that's just not as much fun.  I've attached a picture from 2004, when we lived in San Diego, of me with my crazy friend. We had a lot of fun, but the drama was just too much. So when I moved to New Zealand, I vowed to myself, no more crazy friends.  But I haven't even met anyone crazy here, so that must mean that I am the crazy friend. I am sort of okay with that, because I know I'm, well, eccentric is probably a good description (deviant is too!).  I could also be considered an iconoclast. One of these days, if I am ever rich, I will buy about a hundred precious moments porcelain figurines, and make a video of each one being destroyed in a different way. Anyway my craziness or lack of it is not really the point. To me, the point is that people need to be reminded to be adventurous and playful and step out of their circle of comfort once in awhile, damn it! I need a crazy friend again, I guess. Even if I don't make a batch of fake blood and dress like a zombie on Halloween, I still may pull out the old severed neck application I'm wearing in the dead nun outfit (above). It looks pretty realistic. 
I saw District 9 a few weeks ago, and enjoyed it.  I had recently watched Dead Alive (also known as Braindead), one of Peter Jackson's early movies, and found several similarities. For example, the young man who strives to please the mother or father-in-law, when in fact he is being manipulated by her or him, the sympathetic treatment of the zombies/aliens, the beautiful girlfriend/wife who believes in him, and of course the fun gore splatter scenes. I am really looking forward to seeing Zombieland, which is getting good reviews, and REC2. Both REC and REC2 are Spanish films, the second to begin immediately after the events at the end of the first. This film was remade as Quarantine in the US- I haven't bothered to see this, as REC was just THAT good. 

I've been reading a fair bit lately too.  I read Guilo (Golden Boy in the US)  by Martin Booth, which is a memoir of a childhood in Hong Kong, which is really fun to read, and well written.  I also read most of The Opium Wars, which was enlightening because many places in New Zealand are named after the British men responsible for the atrocity that was the Opium Wars: Auckland, Palmerston, Wellington, and  Napier. The book was overall rather dry, so I didn't finish it. It starts out well, with a horrifying description of British and French military burning and looting the Emporer's Summer Palace, China's extensive collection of buildings, art, and gardens.
I've just finished Julie and Julia, which was fun to read. Not too many of the books I read can make me giggle audibly, but this one did. I'm looking forward to this movie also. I was glad that it didn't end like I predicted it would. It made me think back to my early cooking experiences, which typically involved a box of Hamburger Helper, Rice-a-roni, or a can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew. Life was so much simpler then. Now I have two boneless veal legs in my fridge, and only a vague idea of what to do with them, having never cooked veal before. In my defense, this is NZ veal, they are byproducts of the milk industry and were two for $25. What I really wanted was lamb shanks, but at $15/kg, that was a bit too dear. I am a huge fan of lamb now, whereas when I lived in the US, I don't remember ever eating it.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Kauwau Island escape

I took a day off work last Friday and treated myself to a local getaway: Kauwau Island. The drive up to Sandspit, where I caught the ferry, was about an hour.

The ferry leaves at 10:30 am, and I realised when I got in the ticket office that I'd left my wallet at home. I'd taken it out of my purse earlier that morning to use my credit card to recharge my calling card. On the plus side, I knew where it was (at home), and Darin was at home. Fortunately, I was allowed to pay for the ticket by calling Darin, getting my credit card number and expiry, and giving it to the clerk. She even added $30 cash for me so I could get some food and afford to go into the mansion on Kauwau Island. The Reuben's ferry service overall was excellent.

There are a variety of tours you can do with them, and the one I chose was the Mansion House Cruise. They made a few mail stops before getting to the mansion house, which is operated by the Department of Conservation. They also manage the Historic Reserve which incorporates the old copper mine- one of New Zealand's earliest mines. The walk from the the mansion to the mine remains goes past the beautiful Lady's Bay, up along a clifftop ridge, through a pine forest, and along a rocky waterfront to the ruins. The mine entry is full of water, and fenced off.

There is one entry you can go inside a short distance, but it too is fenced off.

The blue is copper sulphate. This mine closed about 1855, and an attempt to reopen it in the early1900s failed. The mine is totally flooded with seawater.

The walk is about 45 min each way, and I had time to tour the mansion house before the ferry returned to pick up passengers at 2 pm.  I was back in Auckland at 4:30. 

I was lucky with the weather, to have a partly sunny day. It has been quite rainy and stormy lately, but this time of year is great for walking- not too hot and not too cold.