Wide Angle

So I’ll try and write more Friday (going out to watch some Samurai flick with Chris’ kendo buddies tomorrow), but in the meantime, here’s one of the things I’m enjoying: the view from the office windows. I look out over the harbor; the break room (on the other side of the building) looks out over the city. Before Ramon catches a plane down here for the sole purpose of killing me and taking my office, I should let you know that I don’t *have* an office anymore, or a cubicle, or even a desk at the moment (I’m borrowing the desk of someone who’s out for training). The whole floor (except some executive offices and small conference rooms in the middle) is just desks, open to the glass walls and that gorgeous view. Also, I’m told I shouldn’t get attached to it, as TPTB want to move us to another building… just as soon as somebody confirms we can actually get to the network from there… In the meantime, though, I get a front-row balcony seat for arriving planes, a couple of different sailing clubs, *all* of the ferries, the container yards that may eventually contain our container (Our dear Florens, on its plucky way across the Pacific even now…), and the ever-changeable Wellington weather.

PS: My fabulous camera, which I love, has *finally*, after *several* weeks, run through its first battery. Canon BP-111/112 lithion ion. Yeah, baby !

Continuing Craziness

So, when the madness stops everyone has to find a seat…

Last week I had an amusing experience in coincidence. On Thursday afternoon I noticed an open house sign down the street. Odd for mid-week, but since I am planning to sell soon I though I would check it out. Turns out it was a brokers open house, where all the local brokers take a look at a place before it goes on the market. What does this mean? It means I walked into a room full of brokers and foolishly noted I was thinking of selling. After getting home I had them coming to my door and handing over business cards! 🙂 One person who dropped by was Beverlee Vidoli, the person through whom we bought the place four years ago (she was the sellers broker then, too). Turns out she has sold the place three or fours times already, every time it has come on the market. Since May is the “hot” month for properties, she suggested that I have an open house this Sunday. I have one person at work who might buy the place, but I have to have him over to decide by Wednesday, as that is when I have to get the open-house ball rolling in time for adds toget out for the weekend paper. I also have to do a lot of cleaning, touch-up painting, yard work, and other sundry maintenance issues. Should make for a heck of a week.

We should be getting the list of electircal appliances for sale posted today or tomorrow. If anyone is interested, let me know, as I want to get as much possible cleared away before the open house!

If all goes well and it sells and stuff, then I just have a nice calm summer ahead of me. Well, somewhat calm. Then all I have to worry about is getting the cats sent over.

Breakfast in the Antipodes

So I had my first bowl of “Bugs ‘n’ Mud” for breakfast today. Yum ! It’s like a slightly crunchier Cocoa Krispies as the mud with some slighty longer puffed toasted rice as the sort of maggoty-looking bugs.

The exchange rate is currently at about 57 US cents to the NZ dollar. Here’s a quick list for the curious, all prices converted to their US$ equivalent:
My 375g (small) box of Bugs ‘n’ Mud — US$1.65
An 800g (medium) box of Kellogs Just Right — 4.75
A two-liter jug of milk — 1.75
A head of lettuce — 1.40
A half-dozen free-range eggs — 2.15
A 400mL (13.5oz) bottle of Pantene ProV shampoo — 7.00
A 97 Ford Escort –5,700
A used 2002 Ford Explorer — 39,500

In other news, I’m told the weather here was fairly warm until I arrived, when it promptly turned chilly and autumn-like. *sigh* New Zealanders apparently don’t bother with much in the way of either home insulation or central heating. The newer homes are starting to get innovations like double-paned windows, under-floor heating and the like, but the rest make do with heavy curtains and an assortment of room-specific heating. Chris & Natasha’s place has a gas fireplace in the living room, and a couple of electric space heaters scattered in various other rooms. This is their first winter here — should be interesting. :^)

Tamara in the Antipodes

I made it !

The remaining day and a half at my brother’s place weren’t nearly as hectic as that first one. At least, there wasn’t so much driving all over the place and doing stuff. There was still heaps of entertaining two energetic kids, which is tiring enough. Poor Brian was running on fumes by the end there, and I can’t imagine how Mom is going to survive (has survived, at this point) a couple more days of reading Frog and Toad stories and singing “The Wheels on the Bus”. (What *is* it about that song ?)

Pics: My brother, looking like the dork he is ;^) and my adorable-when-he’s-in-a-good-mood-which-fortunately-is-pretty-often nephew; my sister-in-law, brother, and so-cute-that-Japanese-tourists-at-Disneyland-asked-to-have-their-pictures-taken-with-her niece; my incredibly-supportive-of-this-hair-brained-off-to-New-Zealand-thing mother, bless her; and my last, somewhat impressionistic view of LA and the US.

Turns out that my bother’s family are huge Lilo and Stitch fans as well, and between them and the hula-themed Aloha party we had before I left (Holly brought the leis and the soundtrack), it’s going to be a while before I can hear “He Mele No Lilo” again without choking up. I think the two signature tracks on the Soundtrack of the Move would have to be “He Mele No Lilo” and Rufus Wainwright’s “Hallelujah”, which is featured on a CD *somebody* (somebody who doesn’t label their personal burns as thoroughly as my sieve-like brain would like — my money’s currently on Brian, though. If it *was* you — hey, man, send me a track list !) gave me recently, titled “Pensive Mix ’03”. Since most of our CDs were packed already, Stephen and I listened to that one pretty much continuously while we were packing, and we both found ourselves humming “Hallelujah” a lot. That, and the one that sounds like it could have come off the Evangelion soundtrack.

So, after a twelve-hour (and that’s just the LA to Auckland leg) three-in-flight-feature plane flight (Catch Me If You Can, Die Another Day, and Two Weeks Notice, if anyone is curious), some sprinting through Customs, and another, much shorter flight to Wellington, here I am. I thought that once I was here, it would finally feel real, but it doesn’t. It actually feels more *unreal* if that’s possible. Maybe it’s just the jetlag. Chris and Natasha have a fabulous house (and I must say it’s kinda weird to see their familiar furniture and art in the new setting), and they’ve given me a chunk of it all to myself. Whee ! Chris is looking delightfully crunchy now with his hair all grown out and shaggy, and there’s new Natasha art on the walls that nobody’s seen but me me me !!! Those who have been reading *their* bog will recognize the breathtaking view from their living room.

Pics: Flying over Mt. Taranaki (why yes, that *is* a honkin’ huge old volcano!) on the way to Wellington; the Welcome Gate in the International Arrivals hall in Auckland — it’s traditional Maori carving, and there are sections of native plantings on either side of it with piped-in birdsong; Chris and Natasha in one small section of their gorgeous terraced garden; the view from their living room; some *amazing* mushrooms Chris and I discovered on our walk down to the local bakery to get meat pies for lunch.

In addition to the short walk to the bakery, we took a little drive into Upper Hutt to get shampoo and groceries. Drove back through Whiteman’s Valley, which is a little valley parallel to the Hutt Valley — took us maybe fifteen minutes out of our way, but it might as well have been a trip through the boondocks: apart from little clusters of houses where the road enters and leaves at either end, the valley was mostly farmland — pasturage for cows in the bottom, where there’s a pretty little stream, sheep and forestry blocks on the slopes above. You could tell a lot of the farms were old by the size of their hedges and windbreaks, and by the venerable shade pines that loomed at intervals.

And I saw pukekos !

En Route

So, after a two hour delay leaving Boston (there was a light on the dashboard that wouldn’t light up) and another delay in which the second leg out of Dulles was diverted to Chattanooga (there were storms over Atlanta, and we didn’t have enough fuel to circle as long as they wanted us to), I made it to Atlanta in time to shovel down some extremely welcome Mexican food, shower, sleep, then get back up again at four to go catch the flight via Denver to Sacramento.

[Edited 26-Apr to add pics ! A last bit of Spring in our yard; a self portrait via some Art at Logan; bye-bye to Boston; hello to… Chattanooga. They couldn’t let us out of the plane, but they could let us taste the breeze in the open doorway. It’s a cute little airport, Chattanooga.]

Some notes:
–After this winter in Boston, my eyes have been thirsting for green, and Chattanooga was like diving into a clear, deep lake. So incredibly lush.
–The restrooms in the Denver airport double as tornado shelters. Dulles, by contrast, has “external automatic defibrillators” the way most sensible public buildings have fire extinguishers. I’m not sure what to make of that.

The flight(s) to Sacramento with my mom went quite smoothly by contrast (Frontier Airlines has photos of critters-of-the-West on the tails of their planes, and for the second leg we got to fly in the one with the pretty paint mustang. Yay !). We arrived in the morning, scooped up my brother’s family (my niece has the *best* pre-school) and did a whirlwind tour of some of the San Francisco area attractions: Mt. Tamalpais (affectionately known by the locals as “Mt. Tam” — hee !), where we saw hang gliders, poppies, and the wind skittering through the grass like a swarm of invisible weasels (poetic metaphor is not my middle name); and Muir woods, where we walked (or frolicked, as the case may be) among redwoods, ferns, horsetail, and a lot of lovely green moss. (More precious GREEEEEN !) Rush hour persuaded us that the better part of valor lay in driving from there *into* SF to admire the sea lion colony that has taken over K-dock, and to have dinner at “Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co.”, a theme restaurant based on Forrest Gump. I think I may be the only person in the US — almost certainly the only one in the restaurant — who hasn’t seen it. (They *did* actually come around with a pop quiz of movie trivia — luckily my sister-in-law Amy *has* seen it and could answer. I wonder if they’d have thrown us out if we didn’t pass ?)

[More pics ! From Mt. Tam, Muir Woods (that’s a banana slug, BTW) and Fisherman’s Wharf. Woot !]

We didn’t get back to Sacramento until we were all pretty well ready to drop from exhaustion — my mother and I for having a day that started several hours earlier than anyone else’s, my brother for having worked third shift right before coming along on this safari. The kids did remarkably well. My niece, Alora, who is three, and is uncontestably the cutest three-year-old on the planet, no really, was the only one really awake enough to drive by the end, but we did manage to get back alive. (Alora spent a good deal of the journey wondering, “Is this San Francisco ?” Even when we were finally able to tell her, “Yes, Alora, this is San Francisco”, I don’t think she quite believed us, since there wasn’t a fifty foot high blue alien named “Stitch” rampaging around.)

Some pictures later, maybe, if I can get Amy’s computer to talk to my camera…

Dubious Felines

So, the cats are not in favor of the chaange that has gone on this last week. Last Wednesday the true chaos started when we stuck them in the basement for an hour so the movers could get the furiture out of the house. Then the next 3 days we were gone, working at the container. This was especially bad since the weather was perfect, and they really wanted to go outside. Now the house is empty, and the weather is cruddy. So not only have they lost most of their favorite sleeping places and perches, they can’t even go outside! Azami was letting me know how unacceptable this was as I left this morning.

Hopefully the weather will eventually warm up again, and they will no longer be forlonly looking for warm places to cuddle into. They have been very social the last 48 hours, clinging to the one human they have left.

The launch

Okay — can’t put up any pics yet, ’cause I’m running on Stephen’s laptop through *dial-up*. Ugh. It’s amazing how thoroughly for granted one comes to take high-speed internet access. Plus, I don’t think he’s got an image editor on this thing.

Anyway, packing the can went great. The weather gods cooperated beautifully, and we had so many people helping, that we quickly got everything lined up in front of the container (Len got a fantastic panorama). From there, it was two people playing 3-D Tetris to slot everything in (you want it packed so it won’t move around too much when the big crane picks it up and goes shooka-shooka-shooka, or when the truck has to slam on its brakes because some dork in an SUV cuts in front…), and a couple people on the ground taking directions like, “Find me something long and flat, no flatter than that…”

[Edited 26-Apr to add pics ! Before and after !]

After the packing, we all schlepped over to China Pearl, to enjoy the mediocre service and the fine over-the-top decor (the entrance hall features a “bamboo forest” constructed of painted one-way mirrors, and there’s a 30 foot carved gold-painted dragon over the bar. Karl is a fan of their Zombies, served in glasses shaped like Easter Island heads, as proper Zombies should be).

Yesterday (Sunday), Stephen and I roped in the last few odd-shaped things and locked the box for its big trip. Let’s hope the Pacific lives up to its name. For those taking bets, we have about 19 feet of stuff, weighing roughly 4 and a half tons. The final box/item count was 362. Yikes.

The matinee of Bulletproof Monk was… heh. Okay, it wasn’t good, but it was fun. Getting to hear Chow Yun Fat say “Coco-Puffs” was worth the price of admission as far as I’m concerned. After that, there was more stuffing of faces at Outback (my camera is rapidly filling with assorted shots of friends at restaurants), followed by a screening of The Emporer’s New Groove at iHouse. I’d forgotten how deeply weird that movie was. More props to Disney’s Rogue Florida Studio for getting it made in the first place.

Goodbyes sucked, of course (last night’s and all the others). Despite my firm intentions, I completely failed to tell everyone in person to their faces how much I love them and will miss them. I hope me bawling all over them got the message across more or less.

Gotta finish organizing my bags — I’d *like* to find some way to stuff these last couple Archaeology magazines into my carry-on somehow, but I don’t think it’s happening. The next week is going to be a blur of airports and planes, but I’ll try to check in periodically. Hug each other.

Order and Chaos

Chaos, as represented by our storage unit, and order, represented by our shipping container. Rasputin helps take down my desk.

A nice balance of order and chaos was my last-until-we-come-back-to-visit dance class last night:

Cleaning out my desk

Boy, do I have a lot of junk in my desk. (Big surprise there.) I seem to have a habit of printing out tons of useful stuff, and then carefully filing it away where I will never think to look for it again.

There’s been a tremendous outpouring of well-wishing here, which feels really nice. I hope the folks at my new job are as cool as the ones here have been, and I hope I won’t take as long to get to know them — there are folks here I really wish I’d dragged out to lunch more often. Speaking of which, yesterday was a going-away lunch at Carambola (my last Mee Siem !), followed by a short farewell at the monthy staff meeting. Rich brought kiwi fruit ! How cool is that ? Stephen has reminded me that kiwi fruit that actually comes from New Zealand is labeled “Zespri”. The New Zealand growers are working on a cultivar that has smooth skin, instead of the furry skin the usual fruits have — I remember it’s yellow inside instead of green. Rich looked dubious at the notion of kiwi-fruit wine, but hey, you can make wine out of just about anything, so why not. Reason #27 why NZ is cool: home brewing and home distilling are both legal.

Free Range Poultry !

Stephen just called to say he saw wild turkeys in the yard ! A big male doing his full-on Spring check-me-out-ladies display, a juvie male and a handful of hens. How cool is that ? There was a hen that used to come around with her poults (we had to look up the official word for “baby turkey”) a couple years ago, but we haven’t seen them in a while. I wonder if some of the ones Stephen saw today might be them, all grown up.