Even though the 'official' start to summer was on the 1st of December, today--7 days later-- is the first day that I really felt like it was summer. I have clothes on the line, shorts on and windows open. Yay, summer!


rural living

Guess which house is ours?!!! I love rural living!


Calves are weird

These are some of the cute little faces that have been across the fence for a while. They totally threw my observations about cows out the window!

While their full grown counter-parts do not eat calendulas and spurge among a few other things, these little ones mowed them down like they were candy!

My new theory is that they are like human babies that eat anything the can find until they start to decide what they really like.  Hey, it's a theory.


dragon fruit

The other day, Hubby popped into the local grocers for milk and came out with milk and dragon fruit. 

I have to say--I have enjoyed the unusual and untried (at least to me) fruits I have been exposed to since moving to New Zealand. I have fallen in love with feijoas and golden kiwi fruits. So, I was excited about something new to try. 

The dragon fruit doesn't look like much, but the inside was pretty. I can't say I was excited by the taste, but the texture was unusual. I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to buy one again but it seems that Pepsi made it a limited edition for the X-Factor in 2012.


open air post office boxes

This is a usual sight in New Zealand, post office boxes on the outer wall of a store. This one happens to be at the 4 Square Store (click for link to store history) in Kaponga. I have also see them outside hardware stores and corner dairies (convenience stores minus gas).
This is quite a refreshing difference from the US  Post Offices that are locked up each night and still get broken into (personal experience).


Are you Canadian?

Since I got to New Zealand, I have been asked that question more times than I can count--'Are you Canadian?'

It's quite obvious by my accent that I am not originally from here but people don't ask where I'm from unless we have more than a 2 minute conversation. When they deduce that I am either American or Canadian, 4 out of 5 folks will opt for the Canadian question as opposed to asking if I am from the US.

Interestingly enough, my answer is usually followed by the other person leaning forward a bit and saying, quite apologetically, that Canadians are insulted if you call them Americans!

Personally, I don't have a problem with being confused with being Canadian since it's a pretty close call. But I can't, for the life of me, understand why there is a problem from the other side.

I googled 'Why do Canadians hate being called Americans?' but was quite overwhelmed with the over-a-MILLION results. Obviously, I'm not the first one to ask that question on the internet and there wasn't a definitive answer in the few articles I read.

I don't get it. If you are Canadian, can you please enlighten me, eh?


This is NZ!

 We love to watch this ad, it's so well done and the cow makes us laugh.


what cows leave behind

As I was typing the title, I realized that it could be taken differently than  what I mean, but that's ok. What I mean is that I have discovered two more plants that cows won't eat.  That brings the total to 4 including parsley and calendula. I haven't done any in-depth research to see if these 4 plants have anything in common to ward off being eaten by cows, but if I do, I will certainly let you know!


spurge (euphorbia)

The things I learn by living in the middle of cow pastures paddocks.


final part of Napier trip

Our little trip had an interesting last night. We had been out wandering around all day and it was getting dark when we started back to our room. We decided to have a leisurely fish and chips dinner from the park's restaurant, which was across the road from our room, adjacent to the conference room. That way, we could settle in early for our drive home the following day.

Since Kennedy Park is on a quiet side street, we were surprised to see a police car backed into one of the visitor's spaces just outside the gate. Hmmm. We turned into the entrance and it got spookier. There was a BIG guy with a bullet-proof vest standing at the automatic gate, looking inside each car that entered. We decided that somebody had to have been attacked by a gang or something!

As we crept along, we saw an ambulance backed into a parking space and lots of people walking around in uniforms. What was going on???

We looked down the street where we should turn to get to our room and it was filled with vested police wandering about talking to each other and, apparently, people who worked there. So we drove down to the next street and saw that the conference room entrance was also covered by official-looking people. Weird.

Since the restaurant was connected to the conference room, we concluded that fish and chips from there was probably not an option, so we went into the room to get a cup of coffee and make other plans, all the while very curious about the hub-bub outside.

Hubby decided that we were out of milk for our coffee so he could go to the office and ask what was happening. He got the milk but the receptionist wouldn't tell him anything. So he decided to see what the internet had to say (he's clever like that!) and paid $1 for 7 minutes of internet. Yes, you read that right, a dollar for seven minutes on the internet! [Note to self: buy laptop for next trip!]

He found out that the Israeli ambassador was making a speech there. Of course, since the city owned the recreational park, it made perfect sense that it was the venue for a visiting dignitary, but it certainly interrupted our dinner plans!

We went back to town and got fish and chips from a take-away place and headed back to the room. Apparently, the police and the ambulance were not necessary for the night and we headed out the next morning from the quiet of an off-season holiday park.


part 2 of our road trip to Napier

When we travel, we consider accommodations just a place to rest. We don't have to have anything fancy, but then, we don't camp, either, so something in the middle suits us quite well. In Napier, we stayed at Kennedy Park. It's a huge place that has all sorts of accommodations. They have camping spaces, spaces for campers, motel rooms, self-contained units--anything you could want--with swimming pools and play spaces for the kids, a restaurant and a conference room and other stuff and still a nicely-kept and quiet spot to stay. It is owned by the district council and does quite a business all year round.

The first night, we were both asleep early and up early the next morning. After a stroll on the beach, we went to the Napier Aquarium. We watched the little blue penguins being fed then wandered around the exhibits of koi, seahorses, some reptiles and turtles, alligators, eels, and other things. They have a glass tunnel where you can see sharks and eels and other fish swim overhead. Then we watched a diver feed the fish in the big tank. The diver played to the kids at the front but kept the adults' attention, too.

Even on 'aquarium'  setting, my photos didn't come out too well, but here are a few I took.

After the aquarium, we found this wonderful bakery to have some breakfast. I had never heard of this chain of bakeries--but then, I live in Taranaki where there isn't much of anything except cow paddocks, but I digress. They had so many choices from sandwiches to cakes to custard squares. If you get a chance to visit Heaven's Bakery, by all means, do!


part 1 of our road trip to Napier

I think I prefer short trips of a couple of days better than a week-long vacation holiday most of the time. Hubby is awesome at planning the basics of our trips. He makes sure we get there on time and have a place to sleep. And he always has some places to visit up his sleeve along with some alternatives in case of bad weather. He's a good planner :)

Since it's winter here in our hemisphere, things are a bit slower than usual and that's fine with us, since we don't like to deal with crowds or lots of traffic. But that doesn't mean there's nothing to see!

We stopped at Owlcatraz Bird and Wildlife Park in Shannon on our way to Napier. There wasn't much going on but we were greeted by Joey who is 17 years old. He took quite a shine to Hubby!

We also got to see 6 of our only native owls--called Ruru in Maori and generally called Moreporks because somebody said that's what their call sounded like they were saying.  These are their names. They are 3 pairs of owls that mate for life.

After seeing the captive birds in their enclosure, the owner told us that a wild ruru had been hanging around and she found it sleeping in a tree! Hubby took some great photos of him/her and I will post them on my photoblog sometime soon.

More to come....

Click here if you want to find out more about rurus. 


Sometimes, I miss America

There are definite shortcomings to living in a very small country. Many companies (even those owned by the government) are true monopolies. Lack of competition keeps prices pretty high; for instance, the big milk products company, Fonterra, for which Hubby works, charges New Zealanders the same price as they charge for milk products they export. 

We do have McDonalds, Burger King, KFC. I see tv ads for Target, so I assume they are in the big cities. I saw a K-Mart once in Palmerston North. There are a few other chain stores, all NZ owned, but very few opportunities to 'comparison shop' in our part of the country. As hard as it was to learn to do, I did figure out that I should buy something when I see it because there is no guarantee it will still be there next week. That goes for everything from cereal to a pair of scissors to garden seeds. 

Recently, Missy's grandad died and we paid for her to fly back to Stratford from college uni the bottom of the South Island. The cost was not important for her to fly about 1440km or just over 700 miles, but we did inquire about bereavement fares. 

Today we found out how much of a break we got with the reduced fare--a whole $70. Compared to the cost of the last-minute, full price fare, it hardly seemed worth the effort she put in to prove she had been to a funeral.

Sometimes, it's not an easy world to live in. It's times like this that I miss the American way of business.


rules, schmooles

Rules are everywhere. That's just how the world rolls. I like rules.

Face it, you have to have rules or there would be total anarchy everywhere. Most rules are reasonable. Some are simply for your safety. Many are just common sense but folks, nevertheless, need them written down.

Of course, there will always be those who don't like rules.  A few weeks ago, here in New Zealand, a jerky kid was suspended because he did not comply with the rules of his school that said his hair has to be above his collar. He decided he didn't want to cut his hair.

Now any responsible parent would sit him down and say, 'Look, kid, that's life. It's full of rules. Harden up, son,  and cut your hair.'  But did his parents do that? Noooo. They decided that he didn't have to abide by rules. So he didn't cut his hair. He got suspended. They went to court.

How pathetic is that?

And to make things worse, the ignorant courts told him that the school was WRONG to suspend him.  Now what sort  of message does that send to every student at his school and those around the country?

Today, the school was told it has to pay the jerky kid's legal fees, about $24,000. What is this world coming to? rules http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11279953

 I do hope his irresponsible parents have given him a trust fund because I can't imagine him keeping a job for more than a few days. Those pesky rules will get in his way.


July 4th, Kaponga style!

By the time you read this, I will have celebrated the Fourth of July and gone to bed. Yes, the tiny town of Kaponga, with a population of about 400, has an American Independence Day celebration each year.  As far as I know, I was the only American there, but they had lots of American cars and American music.

The temperature was 7C, which is about 44F (after all, it IS winter here) so we didn't stay long. I would have liked to see the fireworks, but not in the cold!

I'm hoping they might organize a weekend event next time so I can take some photos to share.


container mall is relocating

Retailers at Christchurch's Re:START container mall have spent the day packing up their shops so that relocating the containers can begin tomorrow.
Twenty businesses are shifting to another part of the mall to make way for a new permanent building development to begin.

The Re:START container mall was born from the need to breath new life into the Christchurch central city, following the devastating earthquake on 22 February, 2011.

It was the brainchild of the city’s Property and Building Owners group, who knew that the wait for new buildings would be too long and that people needed to be encouraged back into the CBD as soon as possible. 

Today some of these retailers are closed due to relocation of the stores.


VW ad that every teen should watch

This is a very eye-opening ad about driving and mobile phones.


the first day of winter

Today may be the official first day of winter but the scene below that I took yesterday doesn't hold a clue. I have to say that, even without central heating, I prefer winter here in New Zealand than in Kansas.


Slang, NZ style

Hubby ran across this travel site written by a guy named Brendan from Auckland. Click here for the link to his site.  After reading this post, you can understand why I say that the culture shouldn't be so different, but it is.

Lesson 1: Popular Kiwi words

Kiwi – Can refer to either a New Zealander, or the country’s national bird. For the fruit, we say kiwifruit.
Jandals – Flip flops. e.g. Havaianas
Dairy – A convenience store, corner store, or mini supermarket.
Chilly bin – A cooler bin, used for keeping drinks cold.
The wops – Really far away, the middle of nowhere. e.g. she lives far away, out in the wops.
Macca’s – McDonald’s
Togs – Swimsuit
Bonnet & boot – Hood & trunk (of a car)
Skull – To drink a usually alcoholic drink in one go without stopping.
Buggered – Very tired
Fizzy drink – Soda
Mince – Ground beef
Hot chips – French fries
Kai – Maori word for food
Chocka Block - Crowded/busy
Pissed – Drunk
Cuppa – A hot drink, usually short for “cup of coffee” or “cup of tea”
Jumper – A jersey or sweatshirt
Angus – Someone with an anger problem
Hungus – Someone who eats too much
Easy enough? Cool. Now try wrap your head around these ones:

Lesson 2: More Kiwi slang words and phrases

Bro – When I’m with my friends I use this in almost every sentence. We use it in place of ‘man’ or ‘mate’ or ‘dude’. It’s not reserved for good friends, you can say it to anyone, like the mailman or a taxi driver. They’ll probably say it back to you.
Jack: Hey bro how’s it going?
John: I’m all good bro! Did you see Shortland Street last night bro? It was crazy bro!

All good - This basically means ‘everything’s fine’ or ‘no problem’, and we also use it in place of ‘you’re welcome’ when someone says thank you.
Jack: I thought my car was going to break down but it was all good, thanks for waiting.
John: All good bro.

Sweet as – Means ‘no problem’, or sometimes can just mean a simple “OK”. Used similarly to ‘all good’.
Jack: Yo, we’re all going to Jen’s house to watch Gossip Girl and eat Toffee Pops. Gotta go gym first but I’ll pick you up at 7?John: Sweet as (translation: OK).

Faaa – This could be considered a shortened version of “far out” (or the F word, I’m actually not sure) which can be used to express both excitement and disappointment. The amount of excitement or disappointment you wish to express will depend on how long you hold the ‘faa’.
If you scratch a lotto ticket and win $2 you might go “Faaa, only $2″, but if you scratched it and won $20,000 you’d probably go “Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa $20,000!”

As – We commonly use the word “as” as an amplifier to the preceding adjective. For example, “cheap as” would translate to “really cheap”.
John: Bro, check out my new polka dot undies. Got them in Howick for 20 bucks.Jack: Bro, that’s expensive as! (translation: that’s really f*cking expensive).

Hardout – This has many meanings:
1. To amplify an adjective.
It’s hardout cold today! (translation: It is extremely cold today)
2. To express agreement to something very enthusiastically.
Jack: Bro, this restaurant is awesome as, we should come here every week.
John: Hardout! (translation: yes, we should!)
3. To describe something as awesome or amazing.
John: How was the movie?
Jack: It was hardout, bro! (translation: It was awesome, bro).
4. To describe someone as extremely talented/hardworking/successful.
John: Did you know Ben got 100% in every exam?
Jack: Man, that guy is a hardout! (translation: that guy works really hard).

Not even – Loosely translates to “No way” or “That’s not true”, but can be used in various different contexts.
Jack: Bro, I forgot my wallet. You’ll lend me 20 bucks though eh?
John: Not even! (translation: No, I wont.)

Ow - This can be combined with “Not even” and is used somewhat like an exclamation mark. It’s used quite sparingly, but if you manage to pull off the “Not even” + “Ow” combo as a foreigner, you will probably be made an honorary Kiwi.
Jack: Bro, how did you pass that exam, you must have cheated hardout!
John: Not even ow! (translation: Get the f**k outa here)

Shot – This has multiple meanings, so many that it would be pointless to explain them all here. In fact I’m not even sure I could explain them, as there is an acquired comfort in using this word and understanding all it’s uses. Nonetheless, I encourage foreigners to try as often as possible. Three of the most common meanings are:
1. To express thanks.
Hey bro, can you pass me that jug of water please? Shot. (translation: Thanks)
2. To express joy, similar to how you might use “Yuss!!”
John: Bro, Jen got us free VIP tickets for Miley Cyrus tonight!
Jack: Oh shot! (translation: That’s awesome!)
3. To express encouragement, or to say ‘good job’ or ‘well done’.
John: Hey bro, I finally passed my bikini waxing certification last night. Starting my new job tomorrow!Jack: Shot bro! (translation: Well done!)

A feed - A meal
Jack: I’m hungry bro.
John: Alright, let’s go for a feed. Macca’s?

Reckon – In many ways it is a synonym for the word “think”, for example instead of saying “I think so” you could say “I reckon”. However it has other meanings:
1. Used to express one’s opinion. For example, instead of saying “Do you think?” you would say “Do you reckon?”
John: Do you reckon if I buy Jen a box of Pineapple Lumps and then ask her on a date she will say yes?
Jack: Yeah, I reckon! (translation: yes, I think she will).
2. Used to agree enthusiastically to something.
John: I can’t believe Tom cheated on Jill for the 279th time!
Jack: I reckon! What a dick. (translation: I know! What a dick).

Mean – An adjective to describe something as really amazing or awesome.
Jack: Did you see that girl in the purple dress last night?John: Yeah bro that girl was the meanest! (translation: that girl was extremely hot/amazing).
Jack: Did you like that Olsen twins movie we saw last week?
John: Yeah, it was pretty mean (translation: Yeah, it was quite good).

Heaps – Means ‘a lot’ or ‘very’.
Jack: Man, I always see that girl there.
John: Yeah, I’ve seen her heaps too. She goes there heaps bro. (translation: Yeah, I’ve seen her a lot too. She goes there all the time).

Piece of piss - To describe something that’s very easy, similar to “piece of cake”.
Jack: Hey, I’m about to take my driving test. Is it hard?
John: Nah, piece of piss bro (translation: No, it’s very easy).

Taking the piss – An expression which means ‘to make fun of’ or to ‘mock’, or to not be taking something seriously. Not to be confused with “taking a piss”, which means to urinate.
Jack: I was gonna go out drinking with you guys tonight, but Jen got mad at me so I’m staying home.
John: What the f**k? Are you taking the piss? (translation: Are you being serious?)

Yeah nah bro – This basically means “Umm” or can just be used to fill space. It’s what guys usually put at the start of a sentence when they don’t know what to say. It has no meaning at all.
Jack: Hey bro, I saw you and Jess go home together last night.
John: Yeah nah bro… how did your night go?

To the days – This is pinned to the end of a word or phrase, and means ‘extremely’ or ‘very’.
Jack: Did you see Tim got drunk again last night?
John: Bro, that guy’s an alcoholic to the days. (translation: That guy’s seriously an alcoholic).

Honest to who? - Loosely translates to “Really?” Often the response will be “Honest to G”, which I presume means Honest to God.
Jack: Bro, I won like $5,000 at the pokies last night.
John: Honest to who?
Jack: Honest to G O D!

Gizza - Short for “Give us a”, which actually means “Give me a”.
Jack: Faaa, check this out, Jen posted a photo of herself on Instagram in a bikini.
John: Honest to who? Gizza look! (translation: Really? Give me a look!)

Shout – This is the Kiwi form of the verb ‘to treat’, such as treating someone to a meal or a drink.
Jack: Bro, I can’t come out tonight, I spent all my money on a pedicure.
John: It’s all good bro, Tim is shouting drinks tonight.
Jack: Shot!

What a sad guy - This is said when someone does something super uncool.
Jack: Bro, when Tim was drunk as last night I put $500 of booze on his credit card.John: What a sad guy!

Aye – Probably impossible to explain, but I will try. It has many different uses so you will need to listen carefully to the pitch, tone and context in which it’s used to decipher the meaning in each particular situation. Also note that the word is pronounced like the letter “A”, not the letter I.
1. Used on the end of a statement to solicit agreement from the other party. Similar meaning to “don’t you think?” or “isn’t it?”
Jack: It’s pretty hot today aye? (translation: It’s pretty hot today, isn’t it?)
John: Yeah bro, hardout. (translation: Yes, very).
2. Used to express disbelief and/or surprise. You would use a similar pitch and tone to when you say “Really??”.
Jack: Tim broke his leg at rugby last night and now he’s in the hospital.
John: Aye? (translation: Really!?)
3. Used to express confusion when you’re unsure of why something is happening or when things are not appearing as they should. When used in this context the “Aye” will typically be longer and more drawn out, usually in a slightly higher pitched voice.
Jack: Bro Mr Tupai said you have to go to his office after school because your exam was so crap.
John: Aaaaaye? (translation: What the hell!?)
4. Used as a filler word, with no real meaning at all.
Jack: How was Jen’s cupcake party?
John: It was cool aye, I really enjoyed it.

Cuz – While technically short for “cousin” this is mostly used as a term of friendship, but can also be used as just a casual way to address someone. Sometimes the longer form “cuzzy” is used.
Staff: “Sir, here’s your Big Mac combo, no pickle extra fries.”

Jack: “Oh, cheers cuz.” (translation: Thanks man)

Chur – Generally used in place of “cheers” or “thank you”, but in certain situations can also mean “OK/cool” or “No problem”. I’ve also heard people use it simply as a way to greet each other.
Jack: Saw you were running low bro so got you another beer.
John: Chur bro! (translation: Thanks man).

Can’t be bothered – Used when someone is too lazy or just simply doesn’t feel like doing something. Another variation of this is “can’t be stuffed”, which has the same meaning and is used in the same way.
Jack: Bro, your arms are looking kinda small you should come to the gym with us.

John: Nah, I can’t be bothered bro. (translation: No, I’m too lazy).

Choice – Simply means “good” or “cool” and is used similarly to “sweet as”.
John: Bro, Jen went to buy our movie tickets and the guy gave all of us free popcorn.
Jack: Oh choice! (translation: Oh that’s awesome).

Suss – This word can have two different meanings depending on the context:
1. To take care of a task that needs to be done or to sort something out.
John: You were supposed to get our rugby tickets sorted, suss it out bro! (translation: take care of it)Jack: Sussed it out this morning bro! (translation: I sorted it out this morning)
2. To describe something as suspicious/suspect.
John: Bro, it’s all good, this guy said he’ll give us a ride into town.
Jack: Are you sure you wanna go with him? He looks kinda suss bro. (translation: he looks a bit suspicious/not right).

Mint - Loosely translates to “cool”, or “awesome”. Has quite a broad meaning and can be used to describe most things that you think are cool.
John: “Bro, check out my new iPhone cover, it’s got Kim Kardashian on the back.”
Jack: “Gizza look. Oh bro, that is mint.” (translation: Give me a look. Oh man, that is awesome.)

Gap it – Can simply mean “to leave” or can also mean to “run away”.
John: Bro I saw this guy trying to break into my car.

Jack: Did you catch him?
John: Nah, he gapped it. (translation: no, he ran away)