“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, February 21, 2010

Steve and Holly's wedding!

I love weddings: the guests from out-of-town (and, in this case, -country), everyone dressed up nice, beautiful flowers, cake, and the expressions of love in front of the assembled family and friends. The first wedding I have attended in New Zealand occurred the first weekend of February. Our fellow American expatriates, Holly and Steve, got married in Nelson, where they have recently moved. In fact, they are actually building a home on a large piece of land in Upper Moutere (map here).
Their wedding was wonderful; the weather was perfect, the food divine, lovely wine, smart, fun, and interesting guests. The wedding, entertainment, dinner, and dancing was followed the next day by a bus trip to Holly and Steve's property in Moutere for a terrific BBQ and walk around the developing land. The entertainment was the Twisty Twins, who are in fact twin sisters who perform outstanding feats of acrobatics.
Two days still wasn't enough, so I'm intending to return for another visit in a few months. There is so much to do in the area, and it's just beautiful.
Here's a photo of me, Darin (spouse), Eric (brother-in-law), and Barb (sister) at the wedding.
Darin and I stayed a couple of extra days so that we could do an overnight sailboat trip to the Abel Tasman park.  We went with Nelson Sailing Adventures, and had a great time. There were two bean bag chairs at the front of the boat, and the fresh ocean air is just wonderful. 
Again, we had terrific weather. The trip from Nelson to Abel Tasman was about 3.5 hours. We stopped at a few islands, hiked, swam, snorkeled, star gazed, relaxed, and drank numerous bottles of wine. Holly and Steve joined us on this trip, and they enjoyed the opportunity to relax.  Holly got to drive the sailboat.  Darin took me on a ride in the dingy around one of the small islands we visited.
Below is a shot from one of the islands we hiked on. I was impressed to see two kinds of birds that I have never seen before, the south island Robin and the Bellbird (check out their song here, amazing!) I believe this is Adele island, where pests are controlled so that the birds are protected.
The sailboat was a catamaran, and had 4 berths (bedrooms) and 2 bathrooms for the captain, two couples, and another woman, a young German woman who works at the Anchor Bar in Nelson harbor. Below is a photo of our boat at anchor at one of the small islands. 
The captain set up a BBQ grill at the back of the boat and cooked us steak and chicken for dinner, served with a beautiful salad and baby potatoes.
I think seeing the Abel Tasman Park this way gave us a unique perspective, because we went to the nearby islands without having to kayak or water taxi. We got lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking, in a real bed (not a tent), next to the island with all the birds, and in the morning wake up to their dawn chorus.  The stars- or  I should say galaxy, were the most impressive I have ever seen.  We had two days on the boat; we left at 9 am on Monday and returned to dock about 5 pm on Tuesday.
I am really looking forward to going back, spending more time exploring and visiting. It's a great getaway from Auckland, and only about 70 min on the plane.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I am a bad blogger.

I haven't updated the blog in at least a month, and I think this is the sort of thing that I should do twice a month. Part of the problem is that I work at a computer for my job all day, so I really don't want to spend more time at it in my free time. The other part is that I've been busy and sometimes lazy. We're all aware of how much I like watching movies and spending time with my adorable pets, so that takes time too. And my husband needs looking after as well, so there's not much effort in the blog. It's summer, and so there's a multitude of reasons to not be inside.
I have tons of cherry tomatoes ripe now. I'm eating them with everything; they are delicious and sweet, and the skin is not too tough like they sometimes can be.
My sister has a lovely Ridgeback pup, Titus, and he has a super temperament. Here his is on their land in Kaiwaka, NZ. Sitting on his arse with his tongue hanging out- cute as!
Below is a picture of my 2 year old Rottie, Ruby, roaming our land. There is not yet a fence separating our land from our neighbor's land, and unknown to us, there were some calves at the far end of this section. Ruby ran off chasing one of the calves, and wouldn't come when called. That was a shocking sight and very frightening. I thought for sure there would be an injured calf or my dog would be kicked in the head or break her back from an angry cow, but she made it back to me alive. I couldn't go get her because angry cows kill people (and dogs). There was no evidence of blood on Ruby's lips, and the cows were consoling each other in a fence corner, apparently uninjured. Of course we wanted to kick her ass when she came back to us, but we couldn't, or she would have been punished for returning to us, which is what we wanted.  I really hope
that fence gets done soon! 
Ruby is at that age where she is mature physically and feels like Master of the Universe. She has become quite independent and unruly, having today stolen an avocado off the kitchen counter, peeled it on the carpet, and eaten most of it, including the pit. A few days ago, she killed one of our laying hens that had bedded down in the yard for the night, having escaped from a hole in the fence of the chicken's yard. Earlier that same day, Ruby left the chickens alone while they roamed the yard and I was in the garden picking cherry tomatoes. But that night, she took the easy opportunity of a sleeping chicken without me around, and I'm very sad we didn't find the hole in the fence sooner.  For my part, I am working on her obedience at my club, Dogsport NZ, and hope to be ready for the BH test in April.  Dogsport NZ is a member of Australian United Sportdog Clubs. The BH is an obedience and temperament test, and I've done a BH with two of my other Rottweilers (Fargo and Bacchus). The rules can be found here. What they call Dogsport here is the same as Schutzhund.
My friend Roberta just had a healthy baby girl on Feb. 9th. On Feb 1st, my friend Ammie and I hosted a baby shower for Roberta. It was pretty chill and we ate some awesome food. My contribution was cheesecake, below. I mixed pink food color into the topping, but forgot that it gets all covered with crust crumbs, so you can't really see the pink. Oh well. The yellow kewpie doll was cute.
Also in February, we went to Nelson for a wedding and sailing. I'll put the photos in my next post, which I promise will be done in LESS than a month!