Wednesday, December 2, 2009
9.) Birds. Ulva Island is a wee little piece of land just off the coast of Stewart Island, which is a slightly bigger wee little piece of land just a few kilometers south of The South Island, which is a much bigger, yet still, relatively speaking, wee little piece of land). How's that for sentence construction? Ulva has been set up as a sanctuary for native NZ bird species, and has been completely predator free for many many years. As such, several species--that have been threatened with extinction--are thriving there. We took a guided tour there one day. Our guide? Why it was none other than Ulva--I think she was named after the island, not the other way around. On the tour we saw South Island Robins, Wekas, Keas, Saddlebacks, Tom Tits, and Tuis. And, while we didn't see one, we heard the call of the ever-elusive Kiwi. It was a fun day. Nice and relaxing.
8.) The Office. The one "must do" on M&D's agenda while in Wanaka was seeing where I work. Rippon Vineyard is a very special place, and I was so incredibly excited to share it with my folks. We had a brilliant blue-bird day when I took them out for the tour--couldn't have asked for better weather. We took our time walking all around the property, taking in the breathtaking vistas. I always like bringing people to the vineyard for the first time because I tend to take for granted what an awe-inspiring landscape my place of employment truly is. When newbees are on the scene, and taking it in for the first time, I kind of see the place afresh through their eyes and I'm reminded how incredibly fortunate I am to be surrounded by such beauty everyday.
7.) The Crew. Of course, while at my workplace, I got to introduce M&D to all of my coworkers. We hung out and visited with Shannon, Sione, Max, and Amy during their lunch break; Nick and Jo dropped in for a bit to say hello before heading to a meeting in town; Briar took us through a tasting of the entire range of Rippon wines in the tasting room; and Bret gave us the grand tour of the Winery and Barrel room, complete with a tasting directing from one of the barrels! This was an incredibly special day for me--introducing my folks to my coworkers--because my coworkers are more than just the people I work with, they are my very good friends, and it did my heart good for my parents to meet these wonderful people.
6.) Lunch time. One of my coworkers, Ned, had been recovering from knee-replacement surgery for the last couple of months, and I didn't know if he'd be back to work by the time I brought M&D out to Rippon. But it was very important to me that my parents meet Ned, and that Ned meet my parents. You see, Ned is the same age as my father, and he is the resident father figure at Rippon. He immediately took me under his wing upon my arrival at the vineyard, training me up on all the different aspects of the art of grape-growing. He's patient and kind and just simply a joy to be around. So, I was thrilled when I called him up to ask if we could pop by his house just to say hello and he responded by inviting us all over for lunch. We spent a delightful afternoon over at Ned and Gwenda's (his wife) house eating good food, drinking good wine, chatting, and just enjoying each other's company. That was another very special day for me.
Coming soon: 5-1.
As I said, my Mum (moms are mums down under) and Dad (dads are still dads) came for a visit. It was fantastic in every way, and we saw and did a whole heckuva lot of really cool stuff, but I've been struggling with how to write about it. "Why's that?" you inquire. Well, I'm glad you asked. So here's my dilemma: we saw and did so much I wanted to write about that my pre-blogging brainstorms just got too stormy. You see, I write all my blog entries, more or less, in my head during the work day (much of the work in the vineyard is solitary in nature affording many hours of quiet contemplation) long before I sit down at the keyboard. And for the past couple weeks I've had about five or six different entries vying for thinking time all at once. Basically, I've been suffering not from too little material, as one might assume from the complete lack of entries as of late, but from too much! It's funny how sometimes when one feels completely overwhelmed with too much to do, instead of doing what one can, even if it's just a little bit, one ends up doing absolutely nothing at all. That ever happen to you? Well, that's what happened here on the ol' blogspot.
Even though she doesn't yet know it, my Mum helped me come up with the solution to my 'too much material' problem. By the end of my parents' trip Mum had taken 1,400 some-odd pictures. I don't say that as exaggeration--she literally had over 1,400 pictures stored on her camera's memory card. I remember her wondering aloud how she'd ever be able to share them with people in a meaningful way (whether posting on facebook, publishing a picture book, or just scrolling through them on the computer) without boring them to tears. As gorgeous and interesting as her pictures are (especially the ones of me--totally kidding here), nobody wants to sit and sift through hundreds upon hundreds of someone else's vacation photos. Like me, Mum had the 'too much material' problem. Her solution? I remember her saying something to the effect of "I guess I'll just have to come up with my Top Ten from each subject." She chose her ten favorite pictures from Kaikoura, then her ten favorites from Fanz Josef Glacier, then her top shots from the Milford Track, and so on and so forth until she successfully winnowed down the entire collection into a more condensed and manageable format. Brilliant! I decided I'd take the same tack with my memories. So, coming soon, my ten favorite memories from Mum & Dad's visit. Stay tuned.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Now, I know I've only been to one class, but, if I do say so myself, I'm not half bad. Seriously! Kasha, our instructor, seemed fairly impressed when I responded in the negative to her query about whether or not I'd ever had a lesson before. She said I did extremely well for a complete beginner. And, trust me, she doesn't just say that to all her students. The majority of the class certainly didn't elicit such praise. In fact, there are a couple of folks I think will require Kasha to dig pretty deep into her teaching bag-o-tricks to find the pearls to get 'em moving with even the slightest modicum of grace.
I don't know if I'll ever get a call to appear on Dancing With the Stars, but I imagine I'll do alright. We'll see.
Hold on. Now that I think about it, thanks to my 15 seconds of screen time on Country Calendar a few months back, I have actually been on television--and in the kiwi version of DWTS, I think that's pretty much all that's required to be considered a "star." I'm not kidding, apparently the guy who won it last season is the weather man on the morning news program. Maybe, I'll have my people look into it--after a few more lessons that is.
Monday, October 12, 2009
All that being said, I can (and do) still appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into making a good quality tequila. So, when I saw my friends 'shooting' some Herradura the other night down at Barluga, I was utterly aghast. Despite my personal feelings toward the sinister liquor, I know that a good tequila (such as the likes of Herradura, Cazadura, or Don Julio, among others) is not supposed to be 'shot,' but rather sipped. I explained all this to my amigos, after thoroughly chastising them for wasting such a fine tequila by throwing it as quickly as they could down their gullets. I then introduced them (by way of explanation rather than demonstration) to a particular method of serving/drinking tequila that I picked up during my time in Mexico. It's called 'la bandera,' which means "the flag" in Spanish. La bandera is a shot glass of tomato juice (red), a shot glass of tequila (white), and a shot glass of lime juice (green) served together side by side so as to resemble the Mexican flag--which is red, white, and green. One then simply takes little sips, in turn, of the three parts of the flag.
My friend Mike, the bar manager at Barluga, was quite impressed. He said he might even add 'La Bandera' to the drink menu. I won't be enjoying any banderas myself, mind you, but there might be a discriminating tequila drinker or two in the future that'll appreciate this little Kiwi bar's efforts to serve up the quintessential Mexican quaff with some authentic Mexican flair.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
-At the bar the other night, I saw a man who bore a striking resemblance to "The Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials. He was drinking an Amstel.
-For the most part, I thoroughly enjoy the Kiwi version of the English language. There are, however, two notable exceptions that I find incredibly annoying. They are:
1.) pronouncing the words known, mown, and grown with two syllables.
2.) using a "t" rather than "ed" for the past tense of certain words, i.e. spilt and learnt.
-Bazooka is such a fun word to say it's a shame one doesn't have more opportunity to drop it in normal conversation.
-As exciting as the courses entitled 'Agri-chemical Application Safety' and 'Agri-chemical Equipment Calibration' sound, I can assure you they are nothing of the sort.
-The book I just checked out from the library has an honest-to-goodness library card still attached to the inside of the back cover. You remember those, right? The librarians stamped it with one of those little dial-a-date stamps every time a reader checked it out. I found it fascinating to study the book's circulation. It got checked out two or three times a year, every year between 1978 and 1986. Then it apparently sat on the shelf untouched until 1992 when, all of a sudden, it resumed it's previous pace of two to three checkouts a year until 2002. At that point the date stamps disappeared altogether. I assume that's when the library abandoned the card system in favor of the present electronic one.
-Speaking of the library, when I first got my library card I had to pay a $40 bond that I was told would be returned to me if I stayed for six months. I forgot all about it until this Saturday, when the librarian told me the six months was up and I was due back my $40. SCORE!
-I wonder why nobody wanted to read Brave New World from 1987 to 1991.
-I love it when a plan comes together.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
See, what had happened was...
Actually nothing much really happened to cause the precipitous drop off in entries; and that's precisely the point: nothing much has really happened. At least nothing much worth blogging about. I think it was inevitable, really, that I got to this point. You see, after six months in this town, my life has shifted from more of a 'tourist' mode, where everything is new, exciting, and different to more of a 'local' mode, where everything is more routine, familiar, and comfortable. That's not a bad thing, mind you--I rather enjoy the laid-back little life I've carved out for myself here--it just doesn't make for very scintillating reading is all.
However, the hew and cry about my virtual blog abandonment (ablogdonment?) have served to remind me that, while a comfortable routine is nice, it's most important that I break out of it every so often and revert back to my touristy ways, even if only for good blog-fodder. So, dear readers--if there are any of you left out there, that is--I will make it my charge going forward not to get too comfortable in my routine.