Oh, noooooo!

It only snows once every twenty years he lied says....It just snowed a few years ago, so I can't see it snowing any time soon, he lied says....

It snowed on the 20th of May. In our yard. On our car. All over the grass. It was awful! OK, it wasn't a lot and I've certainly seen a lot more of it at one time, having lived in the Chicago area, but that's not the point. I moved here with the notion that if I never get to touch snow again in my life, I won't be upset. 

But it's suppose to snow again tonight. Hrumph.

The good news is that karma catches up with you eventually. He told me those whoppers in an effort to lure me into his den that presumably had little snow. Well, he's up on the mountain with a bunch of Scouts. Hiked up to the cabin in the rain. Might get caught in the snow. Serves him right.


banana bread recipe

I got this recipe from the momswhothink.com website last year.  It's really yummy and I wanted to give credit where it's due, but I can't seem to find the link again.

Banana Bread
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
7 large bananas, mashed
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
4 eggs, slightly beaten
3 cups flour
1/2 t salt
2 t baking soda

Cream butter and sugar. Blend in the bananas, vanilla and eggs.
Whisk together the dry ingredients.
Add to the banana mixture and mix until just combined.  
Pour into two greased 9x5 loaf pans.
Bake at 350F (160C) for 35 minutes, then check loavess. Add 10 minutes baking time until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes then cool completely on a wire rack.



I guess you have all heard about the Westpac bank fiasco, where a customer was 'accidentally' credited with ten million dollars instead of ten thousand. I can't believe the girl blogged their whereabouts. But it only goes to prove my theory that there is so little crime in New Zealand simply because there is nowhere to run--the country is so small!

On the utility overcharging issues here, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that the utilities are busted at overcharging us. The bad news is that most of them are owned by the government so, I really don't know what will be done--if anything. Personally, no rate hike for the next 5 years would suit me just fine.

I might have to change my general perception of New Zealanders (in case you missed the other posts, I find them much less cordial and generally polite than Americans). I went to the grocery store yesterday, in the rain I might add, and it seemed that the Kiwis I met along the parking lot and aisles had more eye contact and smiles. And, even more importantly, two--count 'em TWO--shoppers actually move their shopping carts out of the middle of the aisles before they stopped to peruse the shelves!

I just had to show you all this photo of Missy and Otterboy sharing a bag of crisps (chips in yankspeak). Who would guess that they are siblings, 2 years apart!  And, yes, they usually get along like that--most of the time--so far, anyway.  Missy is almost 15, so we expect more 'teenage angst' in the near future, but, for now, we will take the calm that we get.

I really like the pharmaceutical system here. The government subsidizes one drug for anything that ails ya that requires a prescription. And you only pay $3 for each time you get the script filled. If there happens to be more than one for an ailment, then then government chooses one to subsidize, usually the cheapest one from what I gather. But still, it's a big pressure off the pocketbook for major illnesses.

I also find it strange that the NZ Postal Service is not owned by the government any more. It is franchised across the country. The one in our town also has a KiwiBank franchise, so you can stand in line for either of the services.


Cabin fever car trip

It has rained and rained and rained...at least for 10 days. But, despite the nippy weather and the overcast skies, we ventured out on Saturday to keep from going stir crazy.
We first went to Hollard Gardens, our favorite 'get away' place. I have no idea what the flowers are, but they were a great sight to see.

We left Hollards and travelled south. The clouds were interesting, too, as the almost-winter weather set in.
We ended up at Opunake Beach, another of our favorites.  In the summer, we have fish and chips on the beach here while the kids play among the rocks and dig in the sand.  
Any other time we were here, it was always at high tide, but this time I was pleasantly surprised by low tide and we took advantage of searching among the rocks for treasure.  
I am continually amazed at the patterns left by the tide as it scurries out to sea.
We found lots of limpets (or barnacles) which make the small, round holes in the rocks.
This is a pink algae that we found in the pools between the rocks.
I guess I will always love the ocean and the views and surprises it brings.


A touching story

Bob Hill and his new wife Betty are vacationing in Europe. As they drive their rental car along a rather deserted highway, it begins to rain. Suddenly, the car skids out of control and smashes into a tree.

After a moment, Bob shakes his head clear and looks around. He  sees that his wife is unconscious and  bleeding. Despite the rain and unfamiliar countryside, he knows he has to get her medical assistance right away. He carefully picks her up and begins trudging down the road. Soon, he sees a light coming from a large, old house and raps loudly on the door.
A small, hunched man opens the door and Bob blurts, "My name is Bob Hill, and this is Betty. We've been in a terrible accident, and my wife is seriously hurt. Can I please use your phone?"
"I'm sorry," replies the man, "but we don't have a phone. But, my master is a doctor; come in and I will get him!"

A few moments later, an older man comes down the stairs. "I'm afraid my assistant may have misled you. I am not a medical doctor; I am a scientist. However, I have had some basic medical training. Let me see what I can do."

With that, the assistant picks up Betty and carries her downstairs and places her on a table. Bob follows closely, but soon collapses from his own injuries and exhaustion.

The two men work feverishly for hours, but to no avail. 
Saddened by the loss, the master wearily climbs the steps to his conservatory, for it is here that he has always found solace. He begins to play his grand piano, and  soon a stirring, almost haunting, melody fills the house.
As the assistant is tidying up the lab, his eye catches movement. He turns to see  Betty's hand twitch, slowly at first, but then keeping time to the haunting piano music. Stunned, he watches as Bob's hand, too, begins to rise and fall. Then, they both sit up, smiling!
Unable to contain himself, the assistant dashes up the stairs. He bursts through the door and shouts: 
"Master, Master! ..... The Hills are alive with the sound of music!"


Of hobbits and donkeys

While visiting Mildred over at Nalley Valley, her goats on the roof reminded me to post the donkey on the roof.
This is my bestest friend who came in for our wedding. She loves LOTR, so my sweet Hubby found this  adorable hobbit house for us to stay in on our whirlwind tour of the North Island.
You can also sleep in a boat, plane or train car at Woodlyn Park.  It's just a few minutes from the Waitomo Glow worm caves. 



It's weird living in a wee country that you lose a day of your life getting to. You find that you have taken most everything around you for granted.

Like television. In Kansas, I knew that the shows I saw were relatively new. I always figure the American shows we get here to be those that didn't make it very well--you know, the ones that TVNZ can buy cheap, after all, this is a small country with a small budget for EVERYthing. So, I was surprised to find that "Legend of the Seeker" is only a year old. Some of the BBC stuff on The Documentary Channel (Doco, in Kiwi) is 6 or 8 years old. On the bright side, all the BBC stuff is new to me.

OTC Sleep aids. I got something for Hubby last year and had to give his name and address because it is a "pharmacy only" medication. That's sort of halfway between a prescription and the first-aid cream and tylenol. As for myself, the only ones that work have doxylamine in them and they don't sell that in any form here.

Same stuff, different name, sort of.  They sell 'Snakes and Ladders' game for children here. I recall it as 'Chutes and Ladders' in the US.

We also have a Kiwi version of Monopoly, which is kinda strange for me, but fun.

I found a NZ cracker that is exactly like a Ritz. It's called Jatz. I can even find Ritz brand occasionally.

TV hosts are called 'presenters' here.

Dairies here are convenience stores--without the gas pumps. There are several in each town, even the smallest of places.
Pudding here is dessert. So when we have instant pudding for dessert, it get very confusing.
Even though this is a 'metric' country, they measure television screens by the inch. And eggs are sold by the dozen, not by 10s.

Main streets here are referred to as High Street, no matter what they are named.

There are about a billion types of cheese that you can get here (ok, not that many, but there are a lot, since dairy is one of the top exports). But, I have been trying to find my favorite, Muenster, ever since I arrived.  Hubby tries very hard to help and we have found some that are very good and a couple that are pretty close. Without his encouragement, I don't think I would have bothered to try new ones.

Different attitude  Any vehicle doing anything but driving straight down the street is subject to being passed, whether you're waiting for a space or slowing down to turn. Room is made on all the streets for this, with lanes for all traffic. Also, drivers here don't stop and let another car out of the angle parking along the main street, unless, of course, they want the parking space. 

I don't think it will be any time soon that I just fall into step and take my new homeland for granted.


A glimpse into the male psyche

I finally found an email that explains the way a man thinks and thought I might serve womanhood by sharing it:

Because I'm a man, when I lock my keys in the car, I will fiddle witha coat hanger long after hypothermia has set in. Calling the AA is not an option. I will win.

Because I'm a man , when the car isn't running very well, I will pop the hood and stare at the engine as if I know what I'm looking at.
If another man shows up, one of us will say to the other, 'I used to be able to fix these things, but now with all these computers and everything, I wouldn't know where to start.' We will then drink a couple of beers and break wind, as a form of holy communion.
Because I'm a man, when I catch a cold, I need someone to bring me soup and take care of me while I lie in bed and moan. You're a woman. You never get as sick as I do, so for you, this is no problem.
Because I'm a man, I can be relied upon to purchase basic groceries at the supermarket, like beer, milk or bread. I cannot be expected to find exotic items like tampons, cumin or tofu. For all I know, these are the same thing.
Because I'm a man, when one of our appliances stops working, I will insist on taking it apart, despite evidence that this will just cost me twice as much once the repair person gets here and has to put it back together.
Because I'm a man, I must hold the television remote in my hand while I watch TV. If the thing has been misplaced, I may miss a whole show looking for it.....though one time I was able to survive by holding a calculator..... ( applies to engineers especially).
Because I'm a man, you don't have to ask me if I liked the movie. Chances are, if you're crying at the end of it, I didn't ...and ifyou are feeling amorous afterwards....then I will certainly at least remember the name and recommend it to others.
Because I'm a man, and this is, after all, the year 2009, I will share equally in the housework. You just do the laundry, the cooking,the cleaning, the vacuuming, and the dishes, and I'll do the rest...... Like wandering around in the garden with a beer wondering what to do.

Need I say more?


Roadside views

These are some drive-by photos from the North Island.
Tamaranui train clock



Support art



If you have never moved from the northern hemisphere to the southern or vice versa, you have no idea how disconcerting it is. Logic would dictate that seasons are simply six months difference; ie, it's now May here in New Zealand, so it should be (5 + 6 = 11) recollections of November weather. 

But, I guess I never learned bothered to pay attention to details of what went on around me. I mean, try as I might, I cannot remember there being flower blooms still hanging onto stems in November in Georgia or Kansas. Did I just not notice? Was I too busy crying about preparing for cold weather and the very real prospect of that four-letter-word, snow?

Or alternatively, has the weather gotten so screwed up that now there are actually blooms in November in the northern hemisphere, but not until I left?

Maybe....Taranaki is such a special place that such late blooms are just an added bonus of living here...nah, even I can't type that with a straight face.

It's amazing  what I can't recall with any degree of certainty about the seasons and the weather.  I just remember one of my best childhood friends, Linda Bailey (Goble) who always wished for snow on her birthday, November 25th (I think it was) and actually got it one year!

Oh, well, in a few years I plan to be senile, so the weather will still be a surprise to me, especially  when the kids tell me it's snowing over and over and over even though the sun is shining.

I need to lie down.


Dark Sucker Theory

I believe this theory has been around a while, but I am just now getting to understand it:
     For years, it has been believed that electrical bulbs emit light, but recent information has proved otherwise.  Electric bulbs don't emit light; they suck dark.  Thus, we call these bulbs Dark Suckers.

    The basis of the Dark Sucker Theory is that electric bulbs suck dark.  For example, take the Dark Sucker in the room you are in. There is much less dark right next to it than there is elsewhere.  The larger the Dark Sucker, the greater its capacity to suck dark. 
  Once they are full of dark, they can no longer suck.  This is proven by the dark spot on a full Dark Sucker.
    A candle is a primitive Dark Sucker.  A new candle has a white wick. You can see that after the first use, the wick turns black, representing all the dark that has been sucked into it.  If you put a pencil next to the wick of an operating candle, it will turn black.  This is because it got in the way of the dark flowing into the candle.  
    There are also portable Dark Suckers.   When the Dark Storage Unit is full, it must be either emptied or replaced before the portable Dark Sucker can operate again.
   Dark is heavier than light.  If you were to swim just below the surface of the lake, you would see a lot of light.  If you were to slowly swim deeper and deeper, you would notice it getting darker and darker.  When you get really deep, you would be in total darkness.  This is because the heavier dark sinks to the bottom of the lake and the lighter light floats at the top.  The is why it is called light.
    Finally, dark is faster than light.  If you were to stand  in a lit room in front of a closed, dark closet, and slowly opened the closet door, you would see the light slowly enter the closet. But since dark is so fast, you would not be able to see the dark leave the closet.
    Next time you see an electric bulb, remember that it is a Dark Sucker.

This info is stolen from: http://members.dslextreme.com/users/rogermw/darksucker.html