“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.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

20 years

Darin and I have been married 20 years! That's right, 20 years, wow. I proposed to him when we were living together in Fargo. Our second year of marriage, I was accepted to graduate school in Indiana, and he had to stay in North Dakota to finish his degree at NDSU. It was really hard living apart, but it got harder- despite his  being my best friend.  We worked it out, though. Marriage really is a process of working things out. No one stays the same forever, and that's a good thing.  One thing that has stayed the same, and it is a very good thing, is that we agree that children are not what we want. This is a very important thing for a couple to agree on- no one should have parenthood forced upon them. Go ahead and call us DINKS (Double Income No Kids) or Selfish Heathens- we wear these like a badge of honor.
This isn't a post about our choices, this is about my fabulous new ring! Check out this flashy ice! The photo doesn't do justice to the colors flashed around when I move my hand. I have been happily distracted by my ring at my job this week.  Like our first wedding bands of only gold, we found this at a pawn shop at a cost dramatically less than what a jewellrey shop would charge. Also, it is 18 karat gold, unlike most of the 9 karat crap sold in NZ.
As our anniversary was on a Monday, we celebrated with a dinner out. We went to Sails restaurant on Westhaven marina and ordered the grilled lobster for dinner. It was so delicious! I asked where the lobster was caught, and the waitress said the Chatham islands off the coast of NZ.  We were equally happy with the fresh Clevedon oysters and tuna carpaccio. We also enjoyed a bottle of Nevis Bluff Pinot Gris. 
When we returned from our trip to the US in July, we had a pre-planned trip on the Overlander train from Auckland to Wellington booked. We left Auckland the day after we returned from the US, early Saturday morning, and arrived in Wellington 12 hours later. It is a beautiful and leisurely trip with a stop at National Park (photo above taken there).  I hope to do it again.
Wellington has great public transport, so we caught a bus to our hotel, the Museum Hotel, which is in a super location, just across the street from the national museum, Te Papa.
We'd been there before, but this time we saw a cool tapa cloth exhibit and the recently acquired giant squid.  I love cephalopods! I also found a book on NZ spiders, and found the name of one I saw in our yard in Auckland, the two-spined spider.  We had the most perfect weather for cruising around the farmer's and foodie market in the morning and walking along Oriental Bay and up Mt Victoria. 
Wellington is such a nice city.
We flew back to Auckland on Jet Star, and the seats on the plane were really tightly packed. If you are tall, you definitely want to get an exit row seat on their planes. Also, I am not sure I would fly Jet Star for any travel more than a couple hours. But definitely I will take the train again.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Midwest visit, summer 2010

I don't understand why the Midwest is called the "Midwest". It would be more accurate to call North Dakota and Minnesota the "MidNorth" because are as far East as they are West. They are at about the center of the North America continent, so Midnorth sounds about right. My husband and I were back to ND and MN to visit for just 10 days in July. I've been back in New Zealand for two weeks, but the holiday feels like ages ago. We were totally spoiled by our families. Since I returned, I've been suffering from Attention Deficit. This affliction is due to the sudden withdrawal of attention. Due to the shortness of our trip, we had to make the most of our time. It was very "full on".  Our friend Rob, who we visited in Minneapolis, called our visit "Mag- and Darin-fest", which I think was an apt description of our visit.
My niece Stephanie and I made salsa with my mom at her home in Fargo. Mom and I bought some of the ingredients at the Fargo farmer's market, only to discover that those big beautiful jalapeno peppers were mild instead of hot. The jalapenos in my dad's garden, however, were hot. Steph and I made 3 fresh salsas, and my mom made 4 canned salsas. The reason we made so many was that there was a salsa competition at the Red River Valley Fair I thought my favorite, Salsa del Norte, would do well, and it did take a 2nd place prize: $25 in coupons for Old Dutch snacks.
My mom's carrot pepper salsa won the big Salsa Champion prize: $100 gift certificate to a fancy restaurant. For an entry of 36, we did quite well, I think.
My dad's raspberry patch was in full fruit in mid-July, and he had more than he knew what to do with. The chest freezer was already packed with frozen fruit. Steph, Darin, and I were only too happy to help with this, and so we had a competition to see who could eat the most raspberries at once. Honestly, they taste even better when eaten in handfuls.
One of the highlights of the trip was seeing our old friend who lives in Tacoma at his parents' home on Lake Stalker, MN. The weather was absolutely perfect. I swam in the lake, Darin fished off the dock, we played cards, and Darin and I saw the best shooting star we've ever seen- long tail, very bright, and sparkling finish.
Darin and I also spent a weekend in Minneapolis, visiting more friends, seeing the Walker Art Center, and shopping at Big Brain Comics.  My brother and his wife drove up from Rochester to have dinner with us on my birthday. 
I wandered around the Fargo Downtown Street Fair with my sister and her two daughters, and later with my other niece Stephanie. Afterward, we went to see the Trollwood Performing Arts School production of Anything Goes, which was pretty good, but Trollwood is very different today than when I went there as a teen.
Besides the raspberries and salsa,we had plenty of other delicious food.  Dad grilled some massive T-bone steaks. We ate at Famous Dave's BBQ, I got halibut and king crab at Red Lobster (which are hard to get in NZ), and Darin's mom made her delicious carmel rolls. I'm pretty sure that I put on a few pounds during the trip, but it was worth the enjoyment.
Too bad that we flew Delta Airlines, because their service is appalling. They were the cheapest, but I think we'll pay more next time to fly another carrier. Also, LAX still really sucks. If you ever have to travel internationally, you're  better off to go via San Francisco if possible.