Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Babysitting things

I'm just going to pretend that I haven't been absent for 6 months and just carry on writing about life. Sound good? Alrighty then...

I'm back at my parents farm with my love AJ, babysitting the grasses and assorted greenery that seem to grow at astronomical rates. I must say that I have a new found respect for my parents who have maintained the place beautifully for years. It takes A LOT of work. AJ and I left for 3 weeks on a trip down the coast and when we came home it was like that scene from Jumanji when they return to the house and it's completely overgrow and wild. It took us the better part of 3 days to get it back to 'manageable.'

Espen, my dear nephew is now over a year old and is in love with his cat Mewsli Mousecarpone. She is a cold blooded killer, evidence of which can be found under my trailer home most days in the form of headless chipmunks, birds and moles, but she endures him with the grace of Nanna, the beloved K-9 nursemaid of John, Michael and Wendy Darling. The exchanges between the two of them go something like this:

1. Espen sees Mewsli.
2. Espen totters over to Mewsli and plops down on top of her burring tiny fingers and face into her fur in ecstasy.
3. Mewsli closes her eyes in contentment.
4. Espen's senses get overloaded with softness and his brain switches to survival mode in which he must have "MORE!"
5. Mewsli's eyes open suddenly as Espen starts massaging her enthusiastically.
6. Mewsli stands up and walks away, leaving Espen with his face in the grass.
7. Espen looks up, spots Mewsli, and the cycle continues.

It's quite like watching a domestic version of "Tippi" the little French girl who grew up in Africa playing with wild animals. He puts his fingers in Mewsli's killer mouth and she just sits there staring at him, mouth slightly ajar like a mother looking at her kitten thinking, "Ah, they grow up so fast."

Needless to say life is good. My parents are off glob trotting. They finished "El Camino de Santiago de Compostella" in Spain on Tuesday, May 10 and I must say I am incredibly proud of them. In their final days they were walking 30-40 Kilometers a day, my mother had severe plantar fasciitis and dad's knee was giving him grief. But they finished, and finished strong. I would be hard pressed to find many adults who could do the same, much less those in their 60s. I'm proud to come from such good.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I'll Race You...

Sometimes you just need to run. Yesterday was one of those days. I was out walking when I found myself at the bottom of a pedestrian path that went over a few lanes of traffic. It had a flight of stairs that were perfectly spaced, not too high, not to low, ideal depth for long strides... They just begged to be raced up. So I looked around and saw a man wearing a red skull rag, a jean jacket and sunglasses. "Yep," I thought. "You'll do." So I walked up behind him until we were standing abreast with our shoulders nearly touching and said, "I'll race you." 

His head jerked my direction in surprise and in a thick accent replied, "Excuse me? I'm sorry. I do not understand... I am French." 

"Oh!" I said, laughing. "I'll race you. To the top of the stairs." 

He smiled but explained that he had been walking around the city all day and was very tired. 

"I would be too," I said, smiling. "No problem. Have a nice day!" And ran off, thinking nothing more of it. 
But, best part? I was walking down Cuba street later that night when an old man with wild white hair stopped me. "It's you!" He said. "It's me?!" I replied looking at him curiously. I had never seen him before. "Are you sure?" "Yes!" He said. "You asked me to run up the stairs today!"  I couldn't believe it. It was my Frenchman. Sans skull rag, jacket and glasses. He looked completely different. But it was him nonetheless. So we laughed and struck up a conversation and ended up chatting for the next 2 1/2 hours about jobs, travel, family and life and it was completely wonderful. 

Running is good for the soul. And so is talking strangers. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

...and to all a good night!

Sleep well. You're welcome. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Lord Of The Rings Tour-Ready, Set, Freak out

There are no words. I..just...(insert random babble here). It. Was. AWESOME.
I got to be an elf today. 
In Rivendell. 
I got picked on by trolls.
And searched for hobbits like a black rider.
I went tumbling down a hill after stealing vegetables from a neighbor...
And after finding some mushrooms I decided that we definitely needed to get off the road.
I hid from some ring wraiths...
Joined company with this guy...
Got some lessons on how to be the most  horrible...
And tried my hand at wizardry! 

Not too bad for a Friday. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


So I'm in Wellington now! It is such a great place to be! There is Lord Of The Rings (LOTR) stuff EVERYWHERE. I've been on an endorphin high since I got off the bus. I walk around with a Cheshire-ish grin and a bounce in my step that probably makes people wonder if i'm apsychopath but WHATEVER. I am so stoked to be here. Yay Welly! 

I'm on a particularly high high right now be I just booked a full day LOTR tour for Friday! Gah!!! We will be visiting the WETA workshop, having an Orc sized lunch in a themed cafe, and getting to recreate innumerable scenes from the Trilogy. And you know I will. -grins- Picture requests? I'll take them below. 

Anyway, day one was a bit of a hoot. I ran across a "Save the Dolphins!" demonstration outside of an art museum that took to the streets and probably ended up at Parliament. I lost interest after 12 blocks when they showed no signs of stopping. There was a coffin and people dressed up like skeletons and a Maori warrior who made lots of intimidating faces and babies. In strollers.  Evidently they felt quite strongly about the topic too. 
I took a cable car up to the top of the hill behind Welly and got some sweet views of the city but the highlight was meeting this guy!
His name is Francesco and he stopped me dead in my tracks with that get up of his. Truly. I was mid-stride passing his shop, saw him at the counter, and felt jaw drop. You can't pass situations like that up. So I went back and made a friend. And bought some
Perfume. Because, come one. Look at the man. We need more shops with people like him in them. 

Next stop were some botanical gardens. Trees, flowers, the occasional bird. Pretty cool stuff. I met a very enthusiastic young Brit named Adam on my stroll and we decided to be friends straight away. We'll be on the South Island at the same time so I might have found a travel buddy to meet up with! He seemed fun, and didn't set off any "stranger danger!" alarms in my head so...yay! New people! 

I found a cool graveyard on my meanderings with a nudie statue in it. 
He has been fuzzed to protect his dignity.  

To end my day I visited Parliament and watched adults scream at each other from the safety of the public gallery. It was AMAZING. I don't know how anything gets done in government. They were impossibly rude to each other. One person would get up to present a bill and as soon as they opened their mouths the opposition would start arguing with them like they were in a Mystery Science Theatre film. If they got too unruly the head hancho would call "Order!" and that would shut one or two up for a minute or two and then they would get right back to it. I must say I was very impressed with the presenter's ability to persevere under such persistent harassment. I applauded her when she finished as I would a student, and was promptly told by one of the gallery guards that I wasn't allowed to do that. Whatever. She totally deserved it. 
It looks pretty staunch like this but it was quite pretty inside. All of the security people were lovely. We had nice chats and they let me rub the head of their lucky Thai elephant. I was pretty stoked. 

So that was my day! Well, most of it. 
Me and ze city! 
Me obeying orders. 
The harbor. 
Civic square. 
And this. Because I liked it. 

Ze end!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday, November 27- I'm on a boat...

I got to drive a freaking boat today! Look, look, look! 
That's me! I got to steer and wear the skipper's hat and everything!! 
This was my trusty ship, the Ernest Kemp. 
Look how brave and sturdy she is! This is Simon, the skipper. He was awesome.
This is where we went and what we saw!
Maori cliff carvings! (This is where you "ooo" and "ah" appropriately.) Yes! They were pretty awesome to behold.
Don't be deceived though. They're only 33 years old, having been carved in 1980. It took a year to complete and was done by two local Maori artists. The impressive thing, other than their size obviously is their rarity. Since wood is incredibly plentiful in New Zealand, carvings were and are rarely produced in stone. This piece, if taken care of properly, will someday be both old and rare. That's forward thinking chaps! Well done.
Certainly worth $35 to see. Hmmm let's see what else... Ah! Did I mention that I got to captain a boat today!? 
All aboard! 

Tuesday, November 26- Lake Taupo Day 1

Dude. Lake Taupo is awesome. It's amazing how much you can fit into a short window of time.  
My first adventure was to Huka falls. It is on the Waiketo river, the longest river in New Zealand-425 kilometers to be precise, and at the falls processes enough water to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool in one second. It's kind if a big deal. Anyway, I took the Huka Falls jet to the lion's mouth and had a great time. I will say this though. If you have recently gotten into a major car accident and are prone to post traumatic stress, wait awhile before you do this. There is a lot if spinning, driving straight at solid objects and last minute swerving. It will either cure what ails you, or send turn you into a shrieking mess. 
Next up was a visit to Spa Thermal Park. It sits above Huka falls and drains hot mineral water straight into the river. People come and soak in these scalding waters year round. It was an excellent place to unwind my tense neck muscles.
I just couldn't get over how clear the river was, and it was this green every where! I kept wanting to jump in every time I rounded a bend. 
And I rounded a few on the hike I took to the middle of nowhere and back. On my way into the park I had glanced quickly at the map of the area and decided when I was done to go a different way back to the start. Well later, in true "Wait. This doesn't feel right" fashion I found myself on a deserted rotary mountain bike trail headed away from town. But did I turn around? Hell no! I kept going, following my inner compass and pathfindering skills until I found myself in familiar territory again. Boo ya bitches. Adventure is out there. 
And look! I found some nice trees! I figured if worst came to worst I could hug them until someone found me. Thankfully it didn't come to that. 
There was a storm threatening tonight so I got a rockin' sunset. Exhibit A:
Day 1? Big fan.