Friday, December 29, 2006

South Island from space

Here's where we live, our South Island of New Zealand from outer space. Well, the top half of the South Island, anyway. If the top of the island forms a funny V-shape, we are at the bottom of the V, or Nelson is, I should say.

As we are off on holiday for several days just up the west coast in the second bay you can see, we'll take this time to wish you all a very happy new year! See you in January and remember, we get there first.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas day and eve

Christmas tea at Nan and Barry's, they have a lovely home in Atawhai about 5 minutes from our house. What we didn't plan on was dinner outside, duh!!! Smart people we are, we didn't put on any sunblock (me thinking we'd be eating indoors by the warm fire) so we sought shade at every trip to the buffet as the sun has been very hot today.

Here's our xmas buffet, it was full of yummies, including our salad. See everyone clamoring for it??

I could not for the life of me get a picture of Nan and Barry together at the same time ... so this one of their backs will have to do. There's Barry (he's got the hat on) and Nan, bareshouldered and taking the full weight of the hot sun.

After a few hours with the Nan-clan we set off to head out to the beach to relax and digest for awhile. Apparently the tradition is to keep eating and go to another home for dinner. DINNER?? We freaked at the thought and then ate light at lunch in preparation for the rest of the day.
We got to the beach and it was packed, as packed as I've ever seen it. But that sort of packed is not the same as packed in America so we found ourselves some room and sat on our blanket. I people watched and Don napped for an hour.

I know it's really hard to see, but near lower center of this picture is the cutest little toddler in his swim outfit and he could not wait to get out of his stroller and into the surf. You can barely see him, next to mom's outstretched hand.

See, not so packed. But nice and warm and a lovely naptime.

Christmas morning

Christmas morning has finally arrived, and it wasn’t a white Christmas, looking out the window. In fact, something tells me we’ll end up on a beach by the end of the day, but I shouldn’t try to guess what Christmas cheer Santa has in store.

As usual, Don is performing a myriad of stall tactics while I patiently (not so much) wait ...

by the Christmas tree (errr, heater) and turn on all the lights and put some classic Christmas records on.

Livvy too decides to forget the damn gifts and just get on with the business of eating, so I forge forward regardless and give Don his first gift already unwrapped:

a bell for his mountain bike, totally New Zealand style. He’ll be set for the steep dirt rides we’re going to try up the valley roads. Everyone will be getting out of his 'beep beep' ing way.

And then, I find him delaying ONCE AGAIN, making coffee.

Now it’s collecting trash!! (Our poor trash collectors don't get a single day off--and neither did Don!) Santa ain’t gonna be so kind here in about 5 mins as she blows a gasket waiting.

Well, we finally got to the deed--don't get a dirty mind!--and opened gifts, creating a minor mess.

Don will enjoy his snorkel kit and I’ve got some great yarn, all made in New Zealand (the best stuff).

Here’s the take!

Sorry, Livvy, the gifts are all gone and you didn't want to play with yours! Off now to make a salad for our traditional kiwi Christmas tea at my colleague Nan's house. We are also responsible for wine…photos of that later!

Carols by Candlelight

Christmas eve we went to the centre of town, the top of Trafalgar street where the cathedral is for Carols by Candlelight.

Here we are walking toward the square, which was to fill in much more over the next hour.

As the carols were being sung, we determined to make our way up the hill and overlook the crowd.

The carols retold the Jesus story and here we spotted the wise men and ...

the three kings from Orient prior to their part of the performance.

If you look closely toward the centre, you can see the nativity scene with Joseph and Mary.

After the story was over, we made our way down the hill and the crowd and band (centre of photo) started singing all sorts of Christmas carols, and ended on We Wish You a Merry Christmas ... and so we wish you all the same!

And a happy new year!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Winter Wonderland

So we aren't in the midst of a snowy winter wonderland, but Denver sure is! It's been all over the web and has made news here too. We've received several pictures from friends of the storm, here are some, even though it's all too familiar to many of you!

This is from Don's friend Hien. Guess she didn't go to work that day.

And here is a car in John and Star's driveway, covered and drifted. It looks like the Beemer is parked in front of this car, juuuusssst out of the range of the snowfall, phew!!

Ahhhh, that must be Allyssa's car, as she is somehow protecting it with her mighty strength.

Sister Kylee, too young to protect her own car just yet, decides to play in the back yard with the pups.

I think they'll be eating indoors for Christmas.

As for Don and I? Well, just a reminder that we'll be spending our winter wonderland holiday here, at Tahunanui Beach and ...

Here, at Kaiteriteri where the water is warmer than a nice bath.

Merry Christmas everyone!! We'll talk to you soon.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Is it Nelson or just small town life?

We are about ready to celebrate our six month anniversary of arriving in New Zealand. We’ve been in Nelson about five months now, though it sure feels like it’s been a lot longer. One of the stunning things to me is that we live in a place where we see so many familiar faces, people we know or have just met, walking on the streets nearly every day.

When Don walks around town he sees half-a-dozen people he’s interviewed for jobs at his work. Tonight we went to the movies (The Departed, very good but no Goodfellas) and on the way to the movies I saw someone I work with and on the way out 3 hours later I saw someone else I work with, both just walking along on the street on a Tuesday night.

During a Saturday morning on our way to market, we will inevitably meet 3 or 4 people we know and stop and say hi. This is a very odd phenomenon for me, someone who has never lived in a small town. I like to think that Kiwis are just so friendly, this is what they do. But the reality is, we live in a town of about 40,000 people (Nelson proper) and this is probably just the way of life here. Seeing people we know (and we don’t know that many) nearly every time we head out to the movies, to shop, or to the market, is very bizarre. Friendly and nice, but new and a bit bizarre.

My mom lives in Santa Fe, it has about 60,000 people she was telling me. I would venture to say that she could not walk out in the town centre area and see people she knows every time she does so! Maybe this phenomenon has even more to do with geography as we Nelsonians are squeezed into a space between hills and the water, so we’re on top of each other and very friendly about it!

On the other side of the coin, we have to be very, very careful not to burn any bridges here. I was told by a co-worker as just a matter-of-fact side note, don’t do anything wrong here because people may never forgive you, and they sure won’t forget! Doesn’t sound very Kiwi-like, but it does sound like we live in a small place.

But, it really has been a wonderful place so far. It is ‘the’ place we’d want to be, and so far it has lived up to—and even exceeded—all expectations. Especially the friendly people we see everywhere!

Monday, December 18, 2006


Since Porter is getting short shrift on coverage here, I'll post this great picture of him that my mom took. He is truly a Santa Fe kitty now! And he still has that familiar "I don't need you" attitude going, eh!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Typical Nelson houses

I've been wanting to post this blog for some time, but didn't finish cataloguing all the different style houses we've seen in Nelson, so I took one from the web!! You'll never know the difference. These are very typical styles of houses in Nelson, and probably throughout New Zealand too.

Most of the houses are ranch style or one-levels. Thank goodness for my knees! We've wanted a one-level for some time. This is a common house with the windows in the front, and bushes forming the "privacy fence" with the front door off to the side. Notice how close together the houses are from each other. And maybe half the houses have garages, and they are typically very old and small. You won't find too many garages like you might be used to.

Here is the same style house, with door in front, and decorated in the typical early 1900s fashion. I don't actually know if it was early 1900s, but its what it looks like. This house is on an older street with a group of older period houses.

Here is another house on the same block.

Another typical house, not too much different, but again entrance is off to side. Some of the houses, like this one, appear to be those small, quaint ones I have shown you above. But this one extends very far back, covering two lot sizes. Some of the houses are deceiving because they really do have a lot of space in them and nearly all do a good job of creating privacy with the use of shrubbery and plants.

The houses are stuck in every available crevice of space. Nelson must have had large plots of land, especially in our neighborhood where most of these photos were shot. Now the plots have been/are being sold and subdivided and here you have a typical side street/driveway (kinda like where we live) and several small "townhouse" style houses stuck into the plot of land.

This is another very common house style here which I detest! It is basically two rectangles on top of one another for a 2-story house, with the bottom being the garage and a basement like area that some people convert. The top is usually everything else in some clever format, but always fitted into your basic rectangle. And you usually find a deck all the way around the house like this. Obviously the premise is height, you want the view so make a second story. But there is no creativity with this house layout, it looks like a box, it feels like a box, and I really dislike the use of space in all the models we've seen. We're not buying this style house, period!

And another adorable picture of Livvy thrown in for the heck of it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Article of the week

From the Nelson Mail
Tuesday 12 December

Company seeks condom testers
It's a job that's bound to raise a smile -- "condom testers wanted."

Condom manufactuer Durex is looking for people to test a new product and is seeking 100 suitably qualified applicants, including some from Nelson.

"If you're not having much sex, you are no use to us for research," Durex New Zealand manager Victoria Potter said.

Once they pass an online qualification test, successful applicants will be asked to fill out forms rating things like the condom's fit, feel smell and overall experience.

Ms Potter said Kiwis were chosen for the research because the company's global sex surveys consistently show them to be a "sexually energetic bunch."

Aspring condom testers can go to ...
Well, I guess there are unseen benefits to moving here! We've become part of the "sexually energetic bunch!"

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

An answer to all your questions

We finally have an answer to EVERYONE's question--you all ask us the exact same question. well, I should say you've all stopped asking us the exact same question, knowing better now that months have nearly turned into a year. Has the house sold? Well, the answer is .... No, it hasn't. But today, a date to remember for years, the house has rented for a full year, through 2007. WOOPPEEEEEEEee!! We are so excited to have any good news on that place, the first good news since putting it up for sale March 2006. It's been a long, long haul and there have been many days of grief and depression about that damn house and what we would do with it, being so far away. But today we get a reprieve from the grief.

So, we celebrate with wine, lots of it. And maybe a little extra in the Christmas stocking. We have to (again) thank our friends John and Star for taking care of our place for the past 6 months. Ironically, John and his step-daughter Kylee were there cleaning the yard and gutters (what wonderful friends, I tell ya) when the prospective tenants came back to take photos after deciding to apply to rent the house. John gave them a (second) guided tour of the house and back yard and, even better, sized them up for us. We got ourselves some good tenants, we're pleased.

Better yet, our good friends have a break from mucking through our house and shoveling the drive and all they've done after being asked AND taking a few things on without being asked. And, Don and I are nearly free: turns out this couple really loved the place and were very interested to know it was for sale, an option they can manage even before the lease is up! Keep your fingers crossed. In the meantime, Don and I officially are not going broke anymore :)

More this weekend...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Morning beach walk

We've been a little busy, and a little frazzled (kiwi frazzled = much less frazzled than American frazzled), so Sunday morning came and we went for a walk at our local beach.

Mr. Sand dollar and his friend Mrs Star (short for Starlene I'm told) Fish


Old Nessy - this is why she can't be found in Scotland. Actually it's a dog chasing a piece of wood thrown by his master.

Looks like someone was trying to "figure out" the camera and accidently took a picture.

Beach - damn it sure is crowded.

More crowded beach - actually there are a lot of people to each side of this photo, we just asked them to move out of the way so we could make it look empty.