Friday, October 27, 2006

The Wind in the Willows Playing Tea for Two

Since we got here I have been trying to get to the bottom of the meals situation in this country.

In the States, there were 3 meals and everyone knew what they were and when you ate them.

Breakfast - sometime soon after getting out of bed.

Lunch - around noon

Dinner - 5:30. followed immediately by dessert, no matter how full you are from dinner.

There was the occasional Brunch, but usually on Sunday when some fancy hotel had an "all you can eat" deal.

Brunch traditionally costs more than a 5 course meal at a restaurant, but they give you a mimosa or champagne cocktail, and a foreign guy in a tall white hat that slices roast beef for you...which seems to make everything come out even.

I always would like a bit more meat, but don't want to look like a pig in front of the foreign guy. But then, it's supposed to be all I can eat, right?

Here in New Zealand, they adhere to the British tradition of eating a new meal everytime the queen farts.

They begin with breakfast, or brekkie, which goes right along like normal. They have eggs, bacon, pancakes, cereals. No surprises here.

Then at about 10:30, the entire country drops whatever they are doing and has tea...morning tea. This consists of tea, coffee, or some other non-alcoholic beverage and some little bit of food. The food will be a scone, fruit, small sandwich.

This morning tea could be eaten alone or with workmates, but it MUST be eaten.

Also, they put milk in the tea. If you ask for honey, you might get a funny look, like you are asking for feces.

Apparently honey is to be put on bread, like jam. Also, take note that you can not bring honey into the country. They harvest their own and it's just like you can't bring "outside food" into a movie theatre in the States, they take your honey away at the airport.

Oh, here, you can bring outside food into the movies, probably even a pizza or pancakes.

At morning tea, kids run to the pastry shop and get meat pies, which I am starting to enjoy far too much myself. My favorites are either steak and cheese or mince, which is just ground beef. They are the right size for a midday snack.

By the way, ketchup here is called "sauce".

If you ask for a hot dog, you get a corn dog. Most people who want a hot dog despise corndogs. So this is pretty funny. If you want a hot dog, ask for an American Hotdog. If you want a sausage, ask for a banger. Bangers never come on a hot hog bun, but wrapped in a piece of wonder bread, like a napkin.

And don't say "napkin", which is a baby diaper. Ask for a serviette if you need to wipe the hands or face.

Note: Morning tea is not a personal is more like a fire drill and lasts about 20 minutes.

About an hour or so later, when you are not really hungry (because you just had tea for Christ's sake), comes lunch hour.

Lunch is like the USA lunch, but actually lasts about an hour.

At some time in the day, you can have a smoko, which is a smoke break. We don't see a lot of folks smoking here as much as the USA.

I do my smokos at home.

At 3ish, there is afternoon tea, which looks very similar to morning tea, but one tends to take it more privately, or with a friend.

Now, what we call dinner, Kiwis call it TEA. You have to be careful if you invite someone for tea and you think you are treating them to a cuppa, but they expect a full multi-course meal.

The best thing is to tell them the time of day the tea will be and they will know what to expect.

By the way, when you treat somebody here, the term is "shout". Like, "I'll shout lunch today since you got the movie tickets".

Or when you get a hole in one, you have to shout everyone in the bar. This is very a rule here and when I joined the golf club, I paid $10 insurance. If I get a hole in one, the insurance will shout the bar. I know good golfers who have no insurance that purposely try NOT to ace a hole.

After this tea, which is sometimes known as dinner, can come dessert. I have also heard it referred to as "Pudding", but that does not mean there will be pudding. In fact, we have seen no pudding here at all.

New Zealand has excellent dairy products and the ice cream is as good as you will find anywhere. Oddly, there are not a lot of ice cream stores like Cold Stone where there are heaps of mixtures of flavors and nuts inside.

Most of the ice cream is sold in grocery stores in plastic containers. Lots of people wash out the containers and use them to store stuff in.

Kids here are crazy about candy. They call them lollies. I have taken to bringing a bag of lollies when I do my relief teaching. All grades even up to high school seniors will shut up and do their work if you give them a stinking piece of candy.

After pudding, and we're talking like 8 pm here, there is supper, which could be coffee and snacks, or a little leftovers from the last tea.

If you are still hungry, there is the ever popular midnight snack, which is universal.

6 hours to go and we will be eating again.

I decided that when we shifted over here, I would start drinking.

It was either that or exercise and it was a tough choice, since I had previously done neither.

The New Zealand beer that most people recognize is Steinlager. But we found that it is a North Island beer sort of like Budweiser and not popular on the South Island.

So I changed to Speights, the South Island beer. I was ordering it every time anyone asked me. I had to be careful not to mispronounce it because it rhymes with MATES not MIGHTS.

Then a Nelson local told me that I should ordering Mac's Gold, from the microbrewery here.

Kimberly even got me a six pack. I never had my own 6 pack before.

But the top is really hard to take off. It has a pull tab on the bottle cap and the cap is smaller than the traditional style so you can't use a church key type opener.

I know I am a rookie at this, but I can't get the friggin' cap off.

I got so exhaused from trying to get to the beer that it felt like exercise.

I had to cool off with a Tui, which may be my new drink.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"Do Do Do, Lookin' Out My Front Door"

OK, Mike usually initiates all the blog posts, I know it's my turn, I'm only doing it because I had such an exceptional day, that I have to share it.

Last Wednesday Mike was in the office "googling" away at his news/Internet job. He does this four days a week from 5:00 -9:00pm, or 17:00-21:00 on Kiwi digital clocks. I'm doing what I generally do during those hours, imbibing a smooth Nelson Pinot Noir or full-bodied Australian Shiraz (I'm so full of it,I know) and I listen to Sirius satellite radio music or the Howard Stern replay. Since I'd already heard Howard that day, it was The Coffee House music channel.

I'd spent the entire afternoon in various areas of
the yard uncovering never before seen flowering vines, pungent lilacs, and stunning roses all being choked by noxious English ivy, (one of several banes of NZ, but that's another blog).
Damn those Pom's...
I'd hacked away at the encroaching evil English entity for several hours and now sat admiring my work.
Excuse me one moment, it's 4:20

OK I'm back.

So I'm sitting in the front yard, Maitai Valley to my right, the Center of NZ in front of me, and Tasman Bay to my left, when what to my wondering eyes does appear, a regatta of white sails, so near...

I just happened to have binoculars and camera at hand, part of my evening ritual (I'm so full of myself, I know, you can slap me next time we meet). I count 8,11, 15, 28!! Sailboats drifting out to where, I don't know. I spy.

One of my all time FAVORITE songs comes on, "Fragile" by Sting.
Please play this at my wake.

I may already be dead, because THIS is my idea of heaven, if indeed it does exist. Which is yet another blog.

Our friend Frith called later and informed us that yes, every Wednesday there are boat races out in the bay. Who knew?? I've decided that "questions, or when in doubt" ask new friends Frith or Phil for the answers.

Well, that's all, just had to share. It's 5:00pm, Mikes going into "the hole" to spend the next 4 hours dredging through 1000's of trash stories to entertain the masses.
Me, I'm listening to Sirius, taking in the view, thinking of all of you.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Hey, Hey, We're the Monkeys

If you're like us, you like monkeys. They're just funny.
When Josh and Brandon were kids, they would use the mattress like a trampoline. To stop this dangerous activity, I would sing them a little song:

2 little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and hit his head
Momma called the doctor, the doctor said,
"No more monkeys jumping on the bed!"

For years whenever we go to a zoo, we sit for hours just observing monkey behavior. The Sydney Zoo was probably the best for chimps and gorillas.
Robin reminds us that when Barry was a wee darling boy, he had a pet horned toad. He found it in the yard in Arizona and carried it everywhere. The reptile had a name which he oddly gave to all his pets....PEENEE. So when the family took a road trip to Nogales, Mexico, Barry sat in the back quietly stroking his Peenee.
He entered a dumpy store filled with trinkets and blankets. But this place had a caged monkey, forever to be known as the Mexican Monkey, who reached out and grabbed Peenee.... and ATE HIM!!! I think this is what led to Barry's current negative attitude toward everything.
So over time, we have ended up with a small collection of simian paraphernalia. It pales in comparison to that of the Politos or the Hubbards, some ape loving friends.

I wonder if we are choosing to hang out with people based on their opinion of monkeys?

Anyway, here is the family.

I took an art class in college and drew a picture. Maybe it was supposed to be me and Josh.

There are no wild monkeys in New Zealand, but here is a popular wine at our place.

Kimberly got this old one after I started reading a Stephen King story to my 7th graders.

After I finished the tale, I would put this up on a shelf. It scared the shit out of the kids.


I picked up these on a trip to Denver.Never want to come home empty-pawed.

These 3 have magnets to hold their hands over the appropriate zones.

This little guy is in the guest Bathroom. he is a combo monkey and pirate. Pirates are equally cool so he is a double threat.

We have a few monkey bowls. this one holds nuts. Monkey nuts.

This one in the 2nd bedroom holds change and whatever.

We got these in San Francisco from a gay antique dealer in the Castro. He had more to offer, but I was in a hurry.

This monkey bowl comes from Nelson. It is in the foyer and hold keys and sunglasses.

Got him in San Diego as a prop for some lesson or other. This is a puppet that is now used to lure children into our car.

I feel like having a banana so Baba Booey to you all!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Take Up Your China Doll, It's Only Fractured

You may recall that we have had visitors from San Diego, Mike and Sandi Kendall. We left them on their own to travel south and explore the country.

Well, we hope they had a good time, at least until they got to a beautiful city called Dunedin where the incident occured.

There has been much spin from these two as to actually what happened there, I don't know what to believe. It's like Bill O'Reilly was reporting the story and the Kendalls are Clinton. But the result was that Mike "injured" his hip.

According to the tale, which you may believe or not, they were walking on a nearby glacier. (NZ has quite a few of these and one would be wise to go with a guide and wear proper footgear).

So the glacier was partly in the sun and partly in the shade. The shade side had different ice and was harder to walk upon. Mike took a step, wearing tennis shoes, and lost his footing, slipping onto the hard surface.

When he arose from the cold ground, he found it difficult to walk. Sandi had to drag him down the mountain and get him to the car. It was decided that the best move was NOT to go to a nearby hospital, but to drive ten hours back to Nelson. Wha???

Sandi would need to drive as Mike was in a bit of pain. He says he was not crying. Sandi had never driven in NZ and had to learn on the job.

She did fantastic thuough many winding curvy roads and one way bridges and showed up at Nelson Hospital, where she called us to come over.

After the usual wait of 2-3 hours in emergency, the Doctor, Dr. Clive Garlic, told Mike he had a hip fracture and would need to spend a few days in the hospital and be on crutches.


At least Kimberly got to be his nurse for a few hours.

So sadly, their vacation was cut short and they are leaving today back for the states, if Mike can make it up the stairs to the plane.

New Zealand is a dangerous place, my friends.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You

If you look toward the rear of this picture, you will see a bloke in an orange shirt. That is Graham and sitting next to him is Susan, his partner. The word "partner" is used exclusively to refer to a significant other of any sort. We rarely hear "husband" or "wife", always...partner.

These two run and own a yoga studio called YOGA TAPAS. Tapas means purification, not little Spanish snacks. But Graham does like his little snacks.

About a month ago, I whipped up a batch. By the way, a bach here refers to a small beach house like a bachelor pad.

My batch means 3 dozen gut busting, milk requiring, cardiologist on standby, milk chocolate chip, Macadamia nut cookies (biscuits).

I had a few leftover (hidden) and brought them to class for my new teachers.

For the next two weeks, my cookies were mentioned a minimum of 5 times a class. "We will be doing an extra set of abdominals, thanks to Kimberly's stupendous cookies." Or, "We will be moving into our newer, bigger studio next week and I think that calls for a stack of Kimberly's cookies"

You get the idea.

Peer pressure is a amazing catalyst.... I succumbed.

An announcement was made that there would be cookies on Sunday's morning class. Usually, there are 6 people in this class. On that day there were 12 students! Everyone got their treat.

My mate, Frith, always hangs around to see if there are any extras. Somehow, there were a few and I said she should take one home to her husband, Eyal. Mike was playing golf with him that morning. In fact, Mike mentioned to him that he would be getting a cookie later that day.

It does not work that way, sir.

When he got home, looking for his snack, all he got was an eye roll. Which was fair play because once we gave him about 5 cookies for his family and he kept them locked in his glove compartment.

He said they should not be wasted on children. (Or partners?)

When I refer to my cookies, I say there is nothing healthy about them, but there is.

They make people smile.

Monday, October 02, 2006

I Tried to Wash Off Some of that Dusty Dirt

I don't know about you, but if we are expecting company, a good house cleaning is required before their arrival. So we were anticipating our first visitors from overseas and we tidied the place up real good.

The Kendalls, Mike and Sandi, showed up a bit late due to fog, but we had a great week before we sent them south to explore.

Here is me in the latest hat. I am thinking about kayaking. Actually, I am thinking how tired I would be if I was kayaking.

One place we went was Harwood's Hole, a setting for a eerie part of Lord of the Rings. VERY trippy. Under certain conditions, it would be difficult to find one's way out.

Oddly, I was under no certain conditions at all.

Quick plug here for Rosy Glow Chocolates in Collingwood, NZ

Best. Sweets. Ever. I just found out they have a shop in Nelson.


Now the Kendalls are on to see the world from the left hand side. We hope they have a stressless good time and will have Speights days and Champagne nights.

Back here on the homefront, if you are like us, you spruce the place up again when company departs.

So here is my point.

Under certain conditions, I really enjoy cleaning. I'm not talking about anything in the laundry department. My happy chores involve shining up a kitchen or bathroom.

I just finished in the toilet and could not be more pleased with myself.

In the Good Old US of A, the product tells you about their prowess in a word or two... Soft Scrub, Handi Wipes, 409.

Out here they have products with more ambitious monikers.

We have stuff like, "I'll Make Everything Shine (also I'm good for the Environment)" Another is, "Let Me Do Your Dishes (And I'll be kind to the Environment)

They're like really good friends who will continue to do for you, gladly.

No, no. Don't get up, I'll find the remote... Our lawn looks a bit high. I hope the noise from the mower won't disturb you. Warm facial towel, your majesty?

These products are like Simple Green with high self esteem and bent on altruism. They make me feel like I'm not even needed, but I can watch if I so desire.

However, try as I might to get some smudges out, they still show in the correct light.

My cleansing products asked me very nicely to ask Kimberly for something called MICROFIBRE!!!!!

Where has this stuff been all the while?? Great product for getting out waterspots and smudges, Polishes glass and shiny surfaces, LCD screens.

Ladies and gentlemen and all the ships at sea...Stop the Presses...

Having reviewed what I have written so far, it seems a little gay, so I will immediately shift gears and move on to another subject.

The virile seed of my loins, Brandon, and the seed of somebody else's loins, Vanessa, tell us the child forming in her loin area is to be a girl. This means Kimberly and I will be a grandmothers.

Tempest Fugit. And it fugits pretty fast. Just the same, we are farklempt all over the place.

Lastly, we are going to take attendance so we know who is actually reading these things whenever we put them out. Please just click on the comment link and type your name and city.

Wild nice. Only vote once and you can have one other with a phony name if you insist.