Morning Glory

This morning we awoke to a thick fog. Not just the can’t-see-the-neighbors sort, but the much thicker can’t-see-end-of-driveway kind. Driving Tam down to the train station was cool and a bit creepy. If some crazed chainsaw wielding weresheep wanted to attack, that would have been the time. But the drive was (thankfully?) uneventful. Down in Tawa there was no fog, it just disappeared as we cleared the valley mouth.

By 7:30 when I went up to check the animals the fog was starting to burn off, and climbing the hill behind the house got me above fog-level. I looked across to our neighbors place, and there was a Glory! With the low sun directly behind me, I could see my shadow on the hillside about 200m away, surrounded by a circular rainbow. Really cool. Hopefully we will get a similar fog again soon, so I can go up and try to capture that with the digital camera.

Just picked up a loaner BBQ (thanks Sibylle!), so now we are set for tomorrows Two Sisters Cast&Crew party. Should be a hoot! Not sure how many people will be there, but it could be 40. Hope the weather is nice, as having all those people in the house would be… cozy.

Mmmmm…

You know what’s cool ? Walking to work with the sunrise coloring the water on one side and the city on the other, and there’s a busker playing something mellow on guitar, and the gulls are wheeling, and the people walking to work, or jogging, are all smiling. At each other, at whatever conversation they’re having, at whatever they’re listening to, at whatever they’re thinking about, at the sun, at the gulls.

They must put something in the water.

Here I am

The weather is crisp and bright (or was, when I started writing this), the water is that particular shade of deep peacock that I think I’ll now forever associate with Wellington Harbor, and the timing is just now swinging around to me getting to watch the spectacular sunrises over the water as I walk across town to work in the mornings. The tide of backpackers tramping bleary-eyed to the morning ferry has slowed to a trickle. The roses and daisies are blooming, as is the banksia at the corner of the steps down from the pedestrian bridge. I haven’t seen the silvereyes in the banksia yet, but the red-legged gulls are back to having their morning coffee in Frank Kitts park.

It’s Fall again, and I’ve officially been in New Zealand for one year. I had vague plans of writing some wifty that-was-then; this-is-now missive, but the prose just isn’t flowing.

Short version is: I love Wellington, in that way like you’ve met someone, and they made a really good first impression, and you think “Hey, this person seems pretty cool”, and then as you get to know them better, you just sort of fall into a happy, comfortable friendship. I know all the boats on Queens Wharf by name and tick them off as I pass by on the way to work. (Pacifica’s Spirit of Competition remains my steadfast commuting partner, getting into Wellington the same time I do every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.) The farm is fabulous, and new, and shows every sign of also being on its way to being happy and comfortable — though it will provide us with ready projects and Things To Research The Crap Out Of for a very long time to come. I still miss everybody back home (and I note that I’m still writing “back home” without thinking about it) like a big iron boat anchor stuck through my chest. But we’re adding new friends on this side of the world, dancers and SCAdians and gamers.

In other news:

–It’s raining now, which is good, as it hasn’t rained in several weeks, so we need it.

–Stephen is home with the flu, poor thing.

–Hopefully, the rain and the flu will both be gone by this weekend, when we’ve got a party planned. Actually, two parties. Yikes.

–My driver’s license has expired, so I can’t drive until either a) the confirmation of my licensing date arrives in the mail from the Mass RMV, or b) May 17th rolls around.

–We finally got to watch Edge of Darkness, which Angus sent me, like, a billion years ago. Hooray for region free DVD players.

–We finally got to watch the unaired episodes of Firefly (lots of new converts here — I think there’ve been at least three more sets ordered from Amazon since we started showing it…)

Catching up

So, last week was rather busy and fun-filled.

On Tuesday (the 20th) we went and saw the Shanghai Circus. Actually the troupe was from Inner Mongolia, as I found out when I heard an interview with the tour manager on National Radio. Very, very cool performance. They had all the standard feats of strength, balance, hand-eye coordination, etc. Amazing stuff. I do wish that we had had seats down in front so when they asked for volunteers to attempt to pull the strong-mans bows, I could have given it a shot. It was nice to see them using the pretty traditional mongolian bows. Curiosity, mind you- were those 100# bows, or 160#? We were doubly amused as the theme-music for the strong man was the same music they used as the Monkey King theme in A Chinese Odyssey. The two-hour show just flew by.

Thursday evening we went to a nice Greek resaurant (Theo’s), both for the yummy food and to see our friend Stephanie/Tahiya dance. She had been hired in as part of the restaurant’s 7th anniversary special. Very fun.

This weekend we had Firefly marathons, and have converted many locals to the faith. (To the point that a couple of copies have now been ordered off of Amazon.) But with 7 hours of watching on Saturday and another 4 hours on Sunday, it consumed much of the weekend. It was extra fun watching the show with peeople for whom this was the first time through. Their evident mirth made it more enjoyable for all! Hopefully this week will be a bit less packed, especiallly since we have a entertainment-filled weekend coming up and will need to work week to rest and prepare!

MEDANZ

So this past weekend was the big annual hoo-hah of the Middle Eastern Dance Association of New Zealand, held right here in Wellington this year, yay !

I took four classes in all:

– Milaya lef – “how to flirt with your wrap”, sort of. “Oops, my wrap seems to have slipped off my shoulder; let me adjust it. Oh my, let me refold that — did you peek ? Oh dear, there it goes again…” Imagine loose, cheap women going down to the Alexandria dockside to flirt with the sailors. Now imagine cheeky, but actually chaste young women imitating and exaggerating the mannerisms of the loose dockside women in a flirty teenage kind of tease dance. Not “sexy”, per se, but very cheeky and flirty. Now imagine that exaggerated again, stylized, and put on stage. With lots of sequins. In high-heeled mules and a ruffled minidress in the loudest colors you can find (the wrap itself is always black, except for the sequins). And a see-through net face-veil. While chewing gum.

– Khaleegy – “see the pretty, pretty, very *expensive* embroidered and beaded front panel on my thobe (long wide dress like a big sack, with big sacks for sleeves) ? Check it out. Take a look at my jewelry, too, while you’re at it. And my gorgeous long hair.” Fun dance. The dresses themselves, apart from the embroidery, are often quite transparent, and we’re told the “traditional” underclothing for a proper Saudi oil baron’s wife is a nice Chanel, or maybe a Prada.

– Pilates – wanted to see what the hype was about. The hype is apparently about spicing up your sex life by toning your “pelvic floor”. Useful stuff for dancers, too.

– Floor work – involving the actual floor (and no grunting !). How to get onto and off it gracefully, even in a tight skirt. Things Not To Do. Things That Look Cool. Fun class ! And I remembered to bring a towel, so it didn’t trash my knees !

The big show Saturday night featured dancers from all over NZ (and a few from Oz as well). Stephen, Sylvia & I did front of house. There were some good bits. I find I enjoy watching friends, even if they’re mediocre, to watching dancers I don’t know, unless the dancers I don’t know happen to be very very good, and/or are doing something really unusual.

Sunday was the hafla at Istanbul. There were I guess 40 or 50 of us there, so quite a shindig, supplemented later in the evening by significant subsets of the ME population of Wellington, who’d undoubtedly Gotten The Word, as it were. Good food ! (None of that chicken-flavored toothpaste stuff from the place in Courtenay Place — everything was yummy yummy.)

Spoonfruit

Kiwifruit, I’ve had. But tamarillos and fejoa are new and wacky. The former is very acidic — an acquired taste that I think I’d probably acquire pretty easily, as I like sour things. The latter tastes like candy.

Destruction!

So, a few weeks ago we recieved a Brush Cutter, a Husqvarna 252 RX to be exact. This is essentially a weed-wacker on serious steroids, and for the last 2 weeks we have been having fun dispensing extreme destruction to the gorse and broom around the property. The 9-inch saw blade on the end will go through 3-4 inch trunks with little difficulty. Wow, it is ever fun! Still a good workout but when you are cutting the brush 20x faster (or more) than doing by hand, a sense of satisfaction comes quickly. Today I just need to get a different grass-cutting blade, as the one we were sold does not fit. Also need to ask for secrets of rebalancing the blade, it is seems a bit “off” and we would rather get that corrected before more heavy cutting.

The great thing is that with this new tool we really feel like we can win against the brush on the property. I was resigned to a very long and diffuclt battle using the hand-saw, but now a battle of years is going to only take months! Woo! Like all such tasks, it is good we get as much done as possible now while we are still enthusiastic about the work. I think it is safe to say in a year we will be quite sick of cutting and dragging away gorse. But if we are 80-90% done by then, we should still be able to finish. Plus clearing it all will add a few acres of grazeable land to our place! Of course we are so understocked right now that we don’t need the land, but we can always “borrow” some of the neighbors cows to eat the excess grass. A good way to make happy neighbors, as they get some free grazing, and we keep the paddocks under control.

Last week we had rather sucky weather (southery blowing cold rain down on us for 3 straight days), but my parents were lucky in that missed it all while down in Queenstown. And when they came back to Wellington they brought good weather. Still gets cool at night, and only up to 60F or so during the day, but with the clear blue skies it is hard to argue. Now if it can stay like this for another 2 or 3 months before the “real” winter arrives, I will be very content.

GRRRRR!!!

My bellydance teacher just spent THREE DAYS in F-ING PRISON in Honolulu, because of the new “tighter” (read: irrational) US rules about visa paperwork (which they apparently didn’t bother to tell anyone checking her paperwork on *this* end). So instead of going to a dance workshop with one of her idols, she got stuck in a holding cell until the next plane back.

Ooh, that just makes me want to SPIT.

'Nother quick note

Had our first earthquake — a 4.something, followed by a handful of 3.something aftershocks. I slept right through them all, but Stephen felt them.

Stephen’s parents were here for the weekend. Saturday, we drank a lot of wine over in the Wairarapa (known for its pinot noir), accompanied by absolutely gorgeous weather. Sunday we trooped around the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a big chunk of bush practically in the middle of Wellington that they’ve surrounded with “predator-proof” fencing. So they are gradually introducing a lot of the rare birds and critters that otherwise are only living on off-shore islands. Saw kaka (like big parrots) and weka (sort of a chunkier, flightless pukeko) and weta (like enormous cave crickets). Very cool ! Part of the sanctuary has clay that looks very similar to ours, and a lot of the same plants that are coming up in our gullies, so we can get an idea where our little patch might theoretically be heading.

Drive-by posting

Just a quick update:

Stephen’s parents arrived Saturday & left for Rotorua yesterday. They’ll be back this weekend before heading off to Queenstown. They climbed the hill ! How game is that ?

Yesterday, we hooked up with Doug and Debbie — I haven’t seen Doug since we left Philly, so, what, six years ? He’s looking great. They’d just finished a tour of the South Island, and head off North today. Woo !