Saturday, January 29, 2011

South Pacific dreaming

And we're back. The same car that took us to the airport in July, when this onion was fresh, came for us late last night and six months had passed in an instant. We picked up the terribly missed dogs this morning, and we're here again in our rather messy house which is badly in need of renovation AND we're in Cleveland where it's cold and snowing. Our time in Paradise has come to an abrupt end. Nice that living in a nearly empty house for six months has motivated me to do a serious room-by-room purge in this one, so that I can just stay warm and cozy here at home until spring arrives in another ... three months?? God help us all...

It's been so interesting and exciting coming back to the USA. As much as we loved New Zealand, it sure felt good to get home where everything is familiar, we know where to find what we need, most things happen the way we expect, we can pay for our gas at the pump, and ketchup tastes the way it should. There really is no place like it.

The extended trip back to Ohio was really fun, despite the many hours on planes and in airports. And some gross rude people whose children climbed all over our airplane seats and others that hacked up their lungs on the breakfast at our B&B in Sydney and others that pushed and shoved their way through security. Travel really could completely destroy any faith in humanity that you might have left if you did a whole lot of it (Dennis).

We were sincerely excited to spend 15 minutes in CVS the first morning in LA buying Advil, Butterfingers, lip gloss, Trix cereal, and Reese's peanut butter cups, and to find real bacon on our breakfast plates at a diner in Dana Point. And pie... peach, blueberry, and apple pie -- no meat! Heavenly!!

We saw a lot of family in California that we haven't seen in much too long and also a couple of lovely friends, Joan and Jennifer. Then we got home and found our fridge stocked with foods and treats by some truly priceless girlfriends that I got to see today -- hooray!!! It was the perfect welcome back to the US, along with the sweet gorgeous yummy puppies. We've kissed them a thousand times today!! I'll start up again soon with the rest of the NZ photos -- once we get the kitchen sink re-installed (leaking faucet, not cool!) and at least a few loads of laundry done.

Hoping I'll see you all out and about, though I'm hearing about a big storm heading this way, so maybe not. :o) Be well, xo, K.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The I Love New Zealand blog is paused as we must now leave New Zealand

Just when I can pull out of the driveway and into the left lane without even thinking, haven't gotten in the wrong lane at a 6-way intersection and mistakenly ended up on the motorway in at least 2 months, and automatically flip the light switch up for off and down for on, it's time to go. Isn't that always the way!

Time has come crashing down on us and we've only got one full day and two nights left here in Auckland, the most gorgeous city everrrrr! My little weepy love letter to New Zealand the other day was quite cathartic, though, and I'm feeling a bit more OK with leaving. Well, maybe not OK, but getting closer to OK.

On Saturday afternoon, our steadfast and loyal Kiwi friends, Grant and Tony, will pick us up and take us to the airport just as they picked us up there six months ago, totally unaware of what we were about to experience. From there (after I try very, very hard not to cry and embarrass everyone) we will head across the ditch to Sydney again and spend a couple of days there waiting for our flight to LA, where we'll eventually have another 5 days with family and friends before going home to Cleveland late Friday night, the 28th. I'm certain that a blizzard will await us as we land in our bare legs and lightweight hoodies.

I'm not sure if I'll have good web access throughout these travels or even clear vision to see what I'm typing, as I might just be totally shattered from the various time changes (2 hours between here and Sydney, and then 21 hours between here and California, and then another 3 once we're home), but if I can post I will, and if not, I'll let you know when I'm back at it. It'll be soon after we get home.

Until then, I'll just leave y'all with some pretty pictures from around the 'hood. There's still heaps more to post from here and it will certainly continue for a while after I'm back in the States. The best of the South Island is still to come, so don't give up on me yet. And if you wouldn't mind, while I'm posting about New Zealand, let's just pretend that I'm still here. Don't talk to me if you see me at Heinen's or whatever. Let's try to maintain this illusion for as long as possible... :o)

This was our last time chilling in the park in Three Kings waiting for Laurel's French Horn lesson yesterday, and then our last dinner at the Belgian Beer Cafe in Mission Bay last night. Everything is now a last instead of a first. But I'm not going to cry!!

See some of you soon and some of you a bit later. We're looking forward to spending some time with all of our friends and family again!! And no, we do not have accents (I don't think!). Hugs and kisses to all, K.

The Fattypillars

The we love the fattypillars. Laurel's been bugging me to do this post before we leave tomorrow. A couple of months ago our lovely friend, Marie, brought us a couple of big, fat monarch caterpillars on a swan plant branch. You might have seen the posts about them as they quickly became hanging cocoons and then eventually, duh, butterflies. In their last days of hungry caterpillar feeding frenzy, we had to buy a few more plants and then later we planted those in the garden, where more Monarchs came and laid eggs on the leaves.

That was all really cool until Laurel witnessed ants eating the new baby caterpillars, and so, amidst many tears, she and Dennis dug up the plants and back inside they came, filled with tiny caterpillars and, apparently, more eggs. After a few days we had 18 caterpillars of various sizes. About 18 more than I'd bargained for when we planted those plants in the garden to get them out of the house.

Suddenly the tiny caterpillars (and their poopies) were doubling in size from morning to afternoon, and then we had heaps and heaps of really big ones that could only be called fattypillars. And the fattypillars munched and munched and a few might have eaten some littler ones, and then we moved them over to the big, big bush at the kids' school where they have a bit more room to grow and eat and thrive. And die without my daughter seeing it happen.

We made Trey carry them down the big hill because he's the least klutzy of the three of us. I think he was a wee bit embarrassed to be doing these silly things with us girls. He was a good sport though.

Goodbye fattypillars!! Good luck from your American friends! xo, K & L

For the 500th time, where are we??

Dennis had some business down in Gisborne this week and was a bit surprised to see that a railway line crosses one of the runways, and yes it's still used regularly -- by the Palmerston North-Gisborne Line. Pilots must observe the various flashing lights that indicate whether or not the entire runway is available.

I believe that video can take a few minutes to load on this site, but it's probably different for everyone. I hope you'll be able to see it. It would definitely give you pause wouldn't it? And of course, no security whatsoever in the airport. We're getting used to that and it's gonna be a real bummer to return to the 100m lines in the States.

Just another quirky little Kiwi tale... Hoping you're all well and happy, K.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The foods

In my last post I talked about leaving New Zealand and how sad I am to go, and also that we've been making lists of things that we'll miss here. We noticed in these lists that we've really grown attached to a lot of the foods and drinks that we won't be able to get at home. I've also noticed that it's kind of strange that I eat nearly the exact same things for breakfast every morning of my life, but wouldn't do that for lunch or dinner. Why would breakfast be different? 

I should explain that Vogel's bread is a Kiwi icon. Here's a funny blog post about it and it's quite accurate:  I've been eating it every day for six months and still can't quite tell you what it is. Toasting it on the highest setting and then again on the half highest setting will only get you to light brown. Last week a new loaf was left out overnight somehow -- a Vogel's tragedy. Completely moldy by the next morning. (We'll get to the whitebait again in a later post (Christmas dinner in Nelson), but I explained that peculiar delicacy (tiny fish eaten whole) in the Whakatane post if you're dying to know.) 

Apple juice is not clear like in the States, and also has a slight celery taste to it. And the last shot of the cookies -- I could do a whole post just on how yummy those cookies are!! They're just everyday chocolate chip biscuits from the local grocery, but I will crave them every day for the rest of my life, I swear. 

The kids adore ginger beer (and they were hard core root beer addicts in the States) and Dennis and I will definitely miss the Lisa's Chunky Dips with water crackers and a glass of wine now and then. And wines...oh wow, New Zealand has such wonderful wines. Especially good are the Pinot Noirs and Sauvignon Blancs. Also Pinot Gris (we call it Pinot Grigio), plus all of the other varieties I'm sure you can think of. I don't know a lot about wines except which ones I enjoy and which ones I don't, and I have really enjoyed so many of these. If you see any NZ wines in your local market, pick one up and give it a taste. I bet you'll love it. Ooooh, don't forget the Steinlager Pure beer. It's all over North America just as of recently. I don't think the Moa is available outside of NZ unfortunately.

We will miss eating out, too, of course(!!), as we've had all sorts of fun and creative new things. The buy local/in season movement is in full swing in New Zealand, whether because of the size of the country or just thoughtfulness and consideration. The cheeses and produce and seafood are especially sublime. Fresh, fresh, fresh, yum, yum, yum...

If for no other reason, I will have to return solely for the foods that I've grown to love. That's enough reason anyway. See you again soon, rhubarb custard yoghurt and cherry berry jam!!

xo, K.