Thursday, November 26, 2009

Khandallah street party

Thanksgiving's never been like this before. This was the first time we didn't have the day off, but that was okay. It doesn't really feel like Thanksgiving anyway, because we're in the middle of spring now, and temps are in the upper teens (60s-70s F).

I love the folks I work with. I offered a little Happy Thanksgiving greeting to everyone, and it triggered a conversation about how the last American who worked here brought in a bunch of delicious food on Thanksgiving. Oops -- sounds like I should have kept my mouth shut.
So instead of our traditional turkey, which I hear can cost you upwards of $80 here, Jake and I opted for a walk along the Wellington waterfront and dinner at an outdoor cafe. And a little frozen yogurt before heading home.

Then as we drove around the last corner before our driveway, we found a group of our neighbors sitting out in the street with a table and chairs and glasses full of wine. Apparently one neighbor was lending another some chairs for another neighbor's 60th birthday party on Saturday, and only made it so far as the street before opening some wine and settling in. They were such a cheerful group we had to join them. It stays light well after 9 pm now, so we had a lovely time chatting about the neighborhood, rugby and Phil's birthday party. Every car that drove past sparked a new level of excitement and received lots of happy smiles and raised glasses. What a fun group.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

We're smokin'

That's right. Jake got a wild hair on Monday. By Saturday morning, we had a new smoker, some charcoal, woodchips and ribs, and he was on the phone to his buddies back in the Midwest working out the details. We were, after all, on our way to a barbecue at Greg's place that day.

He recruited help to get some additional charcoal going. Rob and Ed used this conveniently placed pot belly stove as a platform for the charcoal cylinder thingy.

Then we waited. I love this photo (above). Everyone was pretty interested in the smoking technique, but I have to laugh because the folks in this shot look pretty skeptical. :) Smokers and pork ribs are a much bigger deal where we come from. It's definitely not your typical barbecue fare around these parts. I definitely can get used to the Kiwi custom of starting out most social events with bubbles though! I'm loving the champagne.

Then after hours of preparation, conversation, perspiration and speculation ... the ribs are done!

And it took about three minutes to go through a couple full racks. Mmm! Jake says they were a bit on the dry side, and now he's determined to practice until he gets it perfect. I bet you can guess what we'll be doing every weekend for the rest of the summer.

Here's Greg and Hannah, who graciously hosted.

While the guys were outside playing with fire, we girls were inside giggling at their very serious conversations and the confused expressions on their faces. This is Sonia and Heidi above, and Lisa and Hannah below.

Good stuff honey! Thanks for cooking for me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lazy weekend in a west coast surf town

We spent last weekend in Raglan, a cool little surf town on the west coast of the North Island not far from Hamilton. We decided to go after I scored some sweet $14 ($10 USD) return (which means round-trip) airline tickets a while back.

Lots of walking of course, and enjoyed the scenery... I probably say that in every post, don't I? Anyway, we took a hike along the exposed coastal cliffs and found a cute little tree that had grown completely sideways due to the wind. Jake's adding a little weight at the moment, but it was leaning that much to begin with.

And then closer to a swimming beach we came across these four Maori carvings that represent the four directions. Artists usually use paua, an abalone only found in NZ, for the eyes and other features.

Enjoying some bubbles on the balcony of our hotel. I told you it was a lazy little trip.

Bridal Veil Falls is 20ish km outside of town and is 55 meters high. A really well constructed walkway guides you from the top to a viewing platform down at the bottom.

In all the guidebooks, they say Raglan is known to have the longest left-hand surf break in the world, and here it is. The photographer didn't catch a good wave in this shot, because the waves were much larger and there were several more surfers out there.

And since we don't surf, we were perfectly content to have a lazy weekend together.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

NZ's going to the World Cup!

This is a big deal. Last night we played Bahrain in a 90-minute nail-biter for a spot in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. We came out ahead with a 1-0 score. It's the first time since 1982 our soccer team the All Whites has qualified.

I'm the first to admit I don't know much about soccer, but these goalkeepers have to have nerves of steal. Ours blocked a penalty kick that would have completely changed the game. You probably know that in soccer, a tie game with a score actually lands in favour of the visiting team. That was news to me.

I just Googled Word Cup and looks like the action gets started in June. (I know, I know... I'll try to be a better soccer fan and actually start following it. Jake is probably disappointed in me.) Good luck to our guys! We'll be cheering for you.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Living with a harbour out your window, you become very aware of the harbour traffic. We don't need a tv, as we spend just as much time looking at the water.

A lot of the ships that come and go are familiar by now. You have your harbour ferry, your interislander ferries (two companies) and your container ships. Once in a while we'll see a military ship, and the joke is that the entire NZ Navy has come in to port. We're starting to get cruise boats in again, which is pretty exciting, as they're the largest. And lots of sail boats on the weekends when it's nice out. I snapped this one this morning, but I need to roll on out to work now. It's embarrassing to admit that this beautiful harbour has made me late for work.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Quality time on the Orongorongo Track

What a beautiful Sunday! Now that we're quickly on our way to summer, we've decided to go for a hike every weekend. Today we revisited the Rimutakas Forest Park.

I remember this place well as it was the first long hike we took in NZ, way back in January. I remember huffing and puffing to get up the hills, and how I was completely wiped out after our three-hour hike. I also remember Jake making fun of me because I wanted to stop every ten seconds to take a photo. There's a trail here called the Orongorongo Track, and I've been waiting for another good opportunity to retell my very funny joke about how two Orongorongos don't make an Orighto. I don't think Jake gets it because he didn't laugh this time either.

I'm proud to say I'm in a bit better physical shape now, and a three-hour hike isn't such a major undertaking to us any more.

But I'm still absolutely amazed at all the beautiful things you come across when you stop to take a closer look.

And I think this is the definition of quality time on several levels. It's quality time for myself, with my husband and with nature. Somehow this makes me feel closer to all of them.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fireworks over the harbour

We had a pretty amazing view of the fire show last night, which was launched from two barges in the water and lasted a good 20 minutes or so.

And check out Phil's comment on the last post for a bit more insight into the Guy Fawkes tradition. (Thanks Phil!) Seems a bit strange we make such a big deal about it 400 years later, but I could tell everyone was having a blast. There were families crowded up on our carpark for a good view, and our neighbours all had people over for the event. We had Jason and Lisa over for a little wine (guys) and mudslides (girls). What a fun little Thursday night!


Guy Fawkes Night

It's Guy Fawkes Night, and Jake and I are in the living room with a couple cold beverages. We've brought our only radio -- our alarm clock -- up from downstairs in preparation for the big fireworks show. There's a barge loaded with fireworks out in the harbour that's going to host the big "fire show" in about 20 minutes from now.

Apparently this is all in honour of an English politician who was involved in a failed attempt to blow up Parliament back in 1603. So we're celebrating a rebel!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Captain was here

Look at these sexy blokes! This is Brett, Jake and Danny turning on the charm for Halloween.

We threw our costumes together pretty quickly this year. Jake's one requirement: he wanted to wear facial hair. Here's half of a fun Canadian couple we met at the party, and of course our borrowed furry parrot named Tabitha. Thanks to Stacey and Greg at work for lending her to us! Surprisingly she came back somewhat clean and in one piece.

Here's the last photo of the night, and nobody remembers taking it. We think this guy is shooting Jake with his own pirate gun - you know, the kind that shoots orange suction-cup darts? Pretty spooky.

Apparently Jake now keeps the gun in his desk at work.