A Travellerspoint blog

New Maori Movie, SKY TV, Rugby, and Toxic Sea Slugs

say that 3x really fast!

rain 14 °C

Since slugs are icky let’s start with a fabulous made in NZ incredible new movie called Boy. Go check out http://www.flicks.co.nz/movie/boy/ Boy ; it was raved over @ Sundance. Finally got to see and wow….. Think back to being 11 and even younger. This movie is about a boy coming of age in the 80s, great social commentary, and alternatively quirky, creative, funny, and sad. There is deep poignancy, family drama, imaginative thoughts portrayed in crayon, and sheer rough south eastern NZ remote coast land. People here say it is very realistic and authentic. Oh yeah, there is a goat too…. A very important goat! If you have a chance to see it, please do. It is one of those small, finely cut jewel type stories, with finely carved characters.

Our cable TV is satellite TV. There are five (5) free channels in NZ, the rest are shipped in from the UK and US. The basic package consists of 51 channels & costs $51/month. How tidy! We have a new dish planted on the north facing outside roof line. I do like having a TV after a few months without. Some of the prime time US shows include Comedy Central, Ellen, Oprah, 3rd Rock, Modern Family, CSI etc. I like the UK PM soap operas too, very cheesy and dramatic. We have all sorts of sports channels and Maori TV too.

Interestingly, Maori TV is really popular with Pakeha (white people). There is now a research study going on to see why white people like Maori TV so much. I would volunteer to join but have not seen very much of it. All I have really seen is groups of school kids singing and dancing and the news. The news is fascinating. The announcers have the exact cadence and tone of US newscasters: monologue, serious pause, emphasis noted here, low voice there, then dramatic ending, and sometimes an exclamation. Of course I don’t have a clue what they are saying. Surprisingly, RUGBY is turning out to be fun!

Rugby is crazy and kiwis are obsessed with it. Hunky cute young guys in short shorts - without padding, helmet, or equipment - run in lines and try to bash though another line of guys wearing same albeit different color. Two guys at a time smash and tackle the guy with the ball. There are head locks and loud grunting. Then, very calmly the down guy stands up and tidily taps the ball behind him for the next guy in line to run and try to bash through the other line. Sometimes, someone drop kicks the ball really far. Every once in a while they get in that group hug thing where they pass the ball underneath. I’m not sure what that is all about. So far I’m pretty enamored with the hunky cute guys in short shorts running around. It is all very exciting and loud.

Toxic sea slugs, what, are you kidding me? Yes. Apparently, along some local beaches there are areas with poisonous sea slugs that dogs have eaten and who have consequently died. Pretty gross and scary. So…. we spend all this $$ to get Kenzie here, have her in quarantine for 30 days ($$), and she licks a slug and dies… NO WAY!! We now need a fully enclosed muzzle for her to wear at the beach so little Miss Hoover doesn’t slurp up this new type of escargot. Who knew? We bought a mesh muzzle and I plan to sew rain coat type fabric over the nose so she can’t get near the slug mucous. How disgusting is this on a scale of 1-10? I’d say 12.

So friends, adieu. It is still raining and quite cold. We yearn for our winter clothes, they are probably roasting in Singapore or some other equatorial port I’m sure. Again thanks for the comments and emails. We love to hear from you!!

Posted by Hilary G 01:40 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (2)

FREEDOM! Kenzie is FREE at last!

+ many photos for your viewing pleasure..... :)

sunny 15 °C

Finally Kenzie got out of quarantine and we are all very relieved and happy. Today, Saturday, we drove down to Takanini one last time and said our heartfelt thanks and good bye to John, Vickie, TJ, Kay, and the team at QPS. I brought them a big box of bakery goodies for their morning tea. Then we set off for eastern beaches but first got to drive through amazing, gorgeous horse country. We drove by the Auckland Polo Club where a large herd of sheep were happily grazing on new grass. The morning mist was rising and the long white cloud was burning away; the day was going to be perfect!

We stopped to marvel at a 25 foot tall hedge of cypress and chatted with the owner who was out wandering around. He told us the hedge was 25 years old and he has it trimmed every year yet doesn’t much like it that much b/c if one bush dies it wrecks the whole look of it. They had just picked all the kiwi fruit and were in the process of cleaning up the farm.

So, onwards we drove, and eventually found a sweet little beach in Magazine Bay. This was Kenzie’s FIRST time ever at a beach; last I looked Denver didn’t have too much salt water….! Apparently the old kiln works fell into disrepair so they used the old kilns (that fired the bricks that built Auckland in the 1860s) into battlements along the shore line hence the name. We had a really nice excursion, complete w/ Vege burgers for lunch at a beachy “take-away” joint. Kenzie loves her new home and is so happy to run explore and sniff everything. She is catching up on her napping too. Now I can stop the “practice walks”; walking without a dog when you are so used to walking with a dog is kinda weird!

Everyone asks about the job hunt. Have had two formal interviews and still might have a third. At each one they said,” Oh you are fabulous, so smart, engaged, capable, etc etc etc blah blah blah you are our #2 person but we want someone with NZ experience! I can’t do relieving work (subbing) b/c I don’t have a work permit and can’t get a work permit till I have a job, sort of a catch 22. So I will start to volunteer at two schools to develop local references and learn the “NZ way”. Yes it is frustrating and I’m not going to get judgmental about any of it because it really doesn’t help my mood; when in Rome etc. It is what it is. I put a good spin on it and it will all be fine. Every day we have small victories and learn new things; to me those are major ingredient to a good life!

Howard is doing well. He was a real trooper taking the bus/train everyday to Takanini – in the RAIN – to see Kenzie. He made a commitment and really did a fantastic job. He is super relived that is all over so he can get on with his life of working out at the health club, writing, and of course grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and waiting on me hand and foot.

Tidbits of news:
1. We finally got the curtain (ordered 6 weeks ago by realtors) in the main room! It really helps keep it much warmer plus a bit of privacy is nice too.
2. The left side of the car sometimes gets too close to the curb….ouch! We had a buy a new tire & it cost $193 – double ouch. Howard immediately bought himself 2 bumper markers, small sticks about 18” high that hopefully indicate when the bumper is….we will see. Today I was a white knuckle passenger trying not to look - no shoulder and deep canal along the road. Scary!
3. The car will need a basic oil change soon: so far the best price I can find is $78! Triple ouch.
4. We got up at 3 AM the other night to watch the ALL WHITES play football (soccer) against Paraguay. While the latter had more skill, the ALL WHITES had massive heart and are coming home heroes. To think that little old NZ, ranking 70th something in the world, got that far is amazing. I don’t think we even have a professional team like other nations.
5. Overused word: iconic. How can so many things be iconic? Clearly it’s the “famous” definition of the word not “religious” and yet am amused by “massive” over usage.

Next week we are going to Maureen’s school show: Puss in Jandals. Puss in Boots in the South Pacific? OK! She makes all the costumes. Hopefully I can take lots of pictures.

Cheers & bye for now!

Posted by Hilary G 22:33 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (3)

Moving Day

89 boxes of beer on the wall, 89 boxes of …. Oops I mean just boxes!

overcast 15 °C

Last Wednesday 89 boxes arrived on our front lawn at twilight. Not only did we have to take them off the pallets (since delivery did not mean inside the home delivery! Who knew??) We had to move them to various rooms. Thankfully our young, strong friend TJ was/is amazing. So now, we are very slowly unpacking, repacking, sorting, and deciding, all very slowly. The house is small so storage is a problem. All in due time. Maybe this week I will organize the 5 boxes in my office that I keep tripping over? This first load left Denver April 1. The second load is due no sooner than mid July (left Denver 4/23).

In early July a couple from Parker will be having their own moving day. Yes, we sold our house! Inspections and all the various real estate processes are going well and it looks like a very solid, good deal. We are pleased! I hope they have good gardening tools as the garden will be a colossal mess by now.

We are getting into a routine. Howard leaves for the 9:18 AM bus M-F so he can catch the train south to Takanini, then walks 30 minutes to the kennel to visit Kenzie. She is doing remarkably well and comes home June 26. then she can have her first ever visit to the beach! After the visit, he walks back 30 minutes to the train station, catches the bus, and arrives home around 3 PM. A long day! There is a very nice bakery at the bus stop in the city which provides sustenance (sugar!) for the ride home. During the week I’m looking for work, interviewing, working on transport shipment #2 (e.g. customs), getting TV, immigration stuff, etc. etc. etc. Oh I had to get my hair cut – it was crazy, wild out of control – so ventured forth… scary but OK! Weekends I visit Kenzie and we try to do important errands or something fun in the afternoons.

Our first major project is to build a temporary fence so Kenzie can go outside by herself. We live on a busy major street with all sorts of buses and cars so don’t want her out in the front. But first the laundry room door must be fixed…. The back handle just comes out of the door!? Funny how you have a plan and then things get in the way and you have to solve that problem before you can move forward. N +1. So the fence, again, all in good time!

The days fly by and overall we are doing well. Driving is a snap. The biggest non-peachy thing is the damp cold and the lack of heat in the house. We drag around space heaters and cringe when we think of the bill. The cringing keeps us warm too! We really like the blog comments, emails, cards, and Skype calls a lot! Thanks for keeping in touch; I know I’m a bit behind on emails and am catching up. Be patient with me!

Posted by Hilary G 22:40 Archived in New Zealand Comments (5)

Kenzie is a CHAMP!

Transporting your pet to NZ is really arduous and not for the faint of heart.

overcast 16 °C

Getting a dog to NZ is very hard; an epic process of medical tests, paperwork, money, important timing, more paperwork, more medical tests, more money, etc etc AND then booking the flight process begins…. Every step of the way we ask questions and learn more in anticipation of the big day! Howard was in charge and did a great job along with our vet Dr Levy. Ask Dr Levy if she will send your pet to NZ and she may run away screaming it’s that hard.

Today, Thursday Kenzie arrived after 12 hour flight, long lay over at LAX + flight from Denver. I got to the kennel at 10:30 AM thinking she would have gotten there but no, customs had not cleared her paperwork until right when I walked in. So another hour. I can’t even calculate how many hours she spent in the box!

Fortunately the garden center down the road has a wonderful café! Perfect time for a short white to gird myself for who knew what.

When the van finally pulled up, Kenzie walked into the waiting room cool as could be, sniffed around a bit, sniffed me, licked me, and was just fine. Her crate was spotless albeit furry. We got down to her area and John let her off the leash; she ran around, sniffing, making friends with Kay, sniffing, really quite confident and normal. The staff was amazed and kept remarking how calm she was!

We entered her solitary confinement area, a long narrow rectangular cell with raised sling like bed and a garden view. After some water she started to relax and ate a hearty meal. My attitude is that it is like visiting someone in the hospital. You may not talk much, or do much, but keeping them company is what it is all about. The kennel is noisy and chilly (all cement of course) which will take some getting used to; thankfully it is not smelly as it is of an open air design. I did snag a folding chair and brought it in. My hunch is that considering the grand scheme of things, the 29 next days will fly by! This was an amazing process and no way could we have done this alone.

Posted by Hilary G 22:02 Archived in New Zealand Comments (4)

Excursions and Past Times:

exploring, movies, and books

sunny 17 °C

On a recent Sunday I went to North Head in Devonport, about a 20 minute drive. North Head is a series of headlands that over look the harbor; once used as part of the NZ Defense system it is now a park with some of the original buildings, battlements, and gun stations. An informative 15 minute film plays in the stone kitchen adjacent to the barracks. The views are amazing! It was fun to wander around and see Takapuna (our beach) to the north and central Auckland right across the bay. A strategic location for sure.

Another day I took the bus into town for an appointment. The bus stops one block away from our house! I wandered around downtown Auckland for a bit and had pot of tea and a veg muffin, yum! The area along the waterfront has more coffee shops and café than just about anywhere I have even been. Almost every woman was dressed in black. The fashionable casual look is leggings, interesting drapey, jersey tops, possible short skirt over the leggings, interesting chunky necklaces, & embellished ballet slippers. Overall, I saw a lot of skirts too, worn by all ages. But of course many young ladies love their black spikes and black pencil skirts!

Our little Northcote library is busy and lively; I love a well used library! The DVD selection is OK, certainly more diverse than I’m used to. They charge $2 for a Hollywood style movie and documentaries and non-fiction DVDs are free. Jane Campion’s 1992 film, The Piano, has been on my mind since I got here. Remember Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill and a very young Ana Pacquin? Well no wonder I thought of it, the beach part was filmed about an hour away! Apparently go to Piha and turn left. The movie was even better than I remembered and more meaningful this time. The bush, the beach, the trees, are almost unreal but the mud is staggering, very real, very deep, absolutely disgusting. If you don’t remember it, or did not see it, check it out! Mute Scottish woman comes to NZ to loveless marriage….. Enter hunky Harvey Keitel….Drama ensues and you are lost in another world.

Whitcoulls, the largest NZ book store chain, publishes a top 100 book list voted for by NZ readers every two years. The new list includes: 1. Lord of the Rings (for 10 years) 2. My Sister’s Keeper 3. Pride and Prejudice 4. Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldron (10 years) 5. Harry Potter & Deathly Hallows 6. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons 7. The Da Vinci Code 8. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay (10 years), 9. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, 10. The Other Boleyn Girl. …. 12. To Kill a Mocking Bird….. 15. The Bible…. 23. Poisonwood Bible…..34. Jane Eyre… 42. Mr. Pip by Lloyd Jones (FANTASTIC! AT JEFFCO LIBRARY!)….. 50. Dune……. 69. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency…….81. The Book Thief ……92. The God of Small Things (10 years!) This list has many favorites and gives me a whole new world of books to explore!

Posted by Hilary G 02:17 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (2)

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