“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, June 19, 2010

OK, ok, calm down. Here's the update.

The Pixies came to Auckland in March, and my sister, her husband, my husband, and I had tickets to attend. We are huge Pixies fans and were really looking forward to seeing them live again. Darin wasn’t able to see the concert, because he developed appendicitis and was having surgery that night. Bummer for him! On the plus side though, he got admitted into hospital right away, had his laproscopic surgery, then was released the next day. The cost of 2 visits to his GP, surgery, hospital stay, and discharge meds was only $56 NZD. We LOVE socialized medicine!
Darin had a big hunting trip (9 days on Stewart Island) which he’d already paid for coming up, and fortunately he was healed enough to go. He hunted white tail deer in the remote bush, where he camped in the rain with his NZ Deerstalkers * clubmembers. He managed to shoot one deer of the five in a party of nine. The shot was right through the chest and he said he’s never seen a deer drop dead so fast before. The deer are quite small down there. He had the hide tanned.

Darin was home from that hunting trip for about 4 days before his mom arrived from Fargo, ND for a 14 day visit. It was great to see her again. She was resisting coming because she didn’t want to travel alone, but she managed just fine. She had her 82nd birthday with us in NZ.
We took her to see our property in Maungaturoto and for a weekend getaway to Rotorua.
In Rotorua we did a bunch of activities: we rode the gondola up the hill and Darin and I rode the luge (repeatedly),
 we visited Paradise Valley and saw the lions get fed and pet the baby lion,
fed the trout and ducks and wallabies, we went to a Maori cultural show and hangi, walked through Rainbow Springs at night and saw the kiwis roaming around their nocturnal enclosures, we sat in the hot mineral pool at the Malfroy Motor Lodge (great!), we saw the sheep show at the Agrodome and pet the sheep,
and I got to milk a cow for the first time. I was really pleased to see the kiwi birds running around- they can move a lot faster than I thought!

During Minnie’s visit, Ruby and I tried for her BH title in a Dogsport NZ competition. I made the mistake of doing the Long Down exercise first, and this was in an area with lots of fallen leaves. They were too interesting to resist for Ruby, and she got up and to sniff around. She then seemed to forget why she was there. Her on and off leash heeling was not close and attentive, and on the recall she didn’t sit straight in front of me. I was pretty disappointed, but was not alone in the Loser’s Club. Anyway, I had the opportunity to trial again in Hastings May 29th, and we earned the BH! It was a 6.5 hour drive, so I’m glad it wasn’t for nothing. I was worried about Ruby’s reaction to the gunshot, because we hadn’t trained for that. Ruby broke her off lead heel by going out in front of me, and I almost didn’t get her concentration back. She wasn’t afraid of the gunshots; she was excited by it- gunshot usually means there’s a dead turkey or rabbit to eat. There was a steady, heavy rain from about 11 am through to about 9 pm on the day, and we got pretty wet. There was so much rain that the roads in Hastings were flooded. Fortunately we didn’t have to drive back to Auckland that night. We were kindly taken in by another dogsport training couple who live in the area. Hastings is in the Hawke’s Bay area, and is full of orchards and vineyards. Sheep and cattle are everywhere in between. We didn’t have time for wine tasting this time, but we did stop at the Kaimai cheese company on the drive home.

A few weeks ago, I flew down to Nelson to visit friends Holly and Steve, whose wedding I blogged about in Feb. The house they are building is nearly complete. They took me to the Saturday market, which is really good, and to a couple places to go wine tasting. We had a bbq at their shed, and Holly took me on a 4 wheel tour of their property. I met another American living down there, Candy, who moved to NZ from California with her husband and two big dogs. They live on a really neat piece of land tucked in a gorge with a big stream and lots of trees. I was only there for the weekend.  I'm so glad that 4 weeks of paid vacation time are standard in NZ; I don't know how I managed with only two weeks/year in the US.  Our next trip is on the calendar: 10 days in North Dakota and Minnesota in July- oy vey. Weather is cold in NZ in July, so I'm excited to go back to shorts & t-shirts, Red River Valley Fair, and hopefully swimming in a lake.
Sadly, in April, we had to say goodbye to our dear friends, Adam and Roberta, who moved back to the USA. Before they left, their baby Octavia arrived, and we buried her placenta under an apple tree on our land in Maungaturoto.  Forever after, Octavia can come to NZ and see her apple tree. (Assuming it doesn't die). Living here wouldn't have been the same without them, but they kindly left us with their XBox and board games (Puerto Rico, Tikkal, Dominion, Powergrid, and Settlers of Catan travel version).