Archive | 2005

Second failure of the gallery owner

28 December 2005

There is reigning absolutely no Christmassy atmosphere over here. They do some feeble attempts with hanging lights strips on the houses and tree-shaped ornaments, but actually it doesn’t work in a hot mid summer. Beside the disturbing aspect of the bright sunlight and images if Santa in a bathing suit, the New-Zealander hardly use those glittery tree decorations, there is no lingering pine scent, you don’t feel the first signs of a flu and they are not known with snow in a spraying can. Over here Christmas seems to be more an appetizer of the start of the summer holidays and the changing the school year.
On Christmas Eve we went to our favorite restaurant. On the way back we walked right into a neighbour-trap; a street barbecue! We -the foreigners without family and friends- were assumed to be sad and lonely, so we impossible could escape from it. In my blind panic, I sank another 3 glasses of wine in a few seconds.

I nastily threw them up the next day.

To handle further details, the owner of gallery Fisher had referred me to his secretary. These further details were not much more than a contract and some additional photos. Maybe they will use a picture of one of MY paintings in the advertisement in the Herald newspaper.
When we were at Fisher’s 2 weeks ago, I had taken the showed paintings home again, because they still needed a layer of varnish. That would be thoroughly dried after Christmas. So, I asked them: “Is the gallery open between Christmas and New Year? Yes, we are open!
I sent them an extra email to tell I would bring the paintings on Tuesday, December 27th. Sometimes I become tired of myself of all that double checking …
second failureSo, yesterday we did the four-and-half hours long ride to Auckland again.
And you won’t believe it … they were closed !!!
I never have heard of a third Christmas day. And the extra closing days were not mentioned on their website or on their front door.

Four and a half hours back again … I seethed inside.

My first earnings

22 December 2005

my first earningsJust before we left the Netherlands I got an email from Henry Muldrow. Who? Well, that’s someone from the world of the performing arts and poetry. Two art forms existing miles away from me and I have no idea who are the heavyweights over there.
Henry was busy creating a poetry collection annex CD and asked me if I was interested to draw an illustration. It was a kind of ABC of Dutch cities and a bunch of well-known illustrators and singers were participating. The only name that rang a bell to me was Gerda Havertong, but only because the comic art house duo Theo & Thea claimed that she was able to juggle a roti chicken out of her swimsuit … (no doubt; you read it right).
This is my illustration for the letter W. A poet about a girl from Wildervangsterdallen (that’s a Dutch village), who inherits 1000 ping-pong balls.

my first earnings
If we have to go to the center we preferably go by foot. The road to the village is very quiet and serene. Halfway we pass a garden with beautiful sculptures. Artists called to be no art buyers, but I’m a bad example for that judgement. And I know some other bad examples. These statues are strange, elongated, sweet ladies faces with beautiful curly hair and very thick sleeping eyes. That last one really appeals to me.

Until now our deck has been a kind of in-between-place to store stuff we didn’t want to throw away yet; like a stained garment, a too small double mattress and a whole pile of excess pillows, what became a nice place to sunbathe for me and the cat.
my first earningsBut obviously we don’t want to make a poor impression when our parents come to visit us. At least we need to be able to offer them a chair in the sun, so we have bought a proper outdoor furniture set. The first one in our lives. We have chosen a strange yellow-green color because we are now quite accustomed to the equally strange green color of our house.

Are we happy?

21 December 2005

Although a lot of things here are exactly the same and almost everything is available (except those pillowcases in European sizes and Dutch wash cloths) of course there are still some things differently. Something I had never seen before is the electric pan. In the newspapers and on TV is strikingly advertised expensive jewelry and old-fashioned porridge. And the checkout-bargain of the week is crème for cracked heels. An everywhere found ailment, maybe because of all those barefoot walkers. I have seen cracked heels in real; A waitress had a layer of calluses like a horseshoe, burst into the meat. It was disgusting. I could not take my eyes off it.

are we happyOne of you mailed me, slightly concerned, asked me if we were happy over here.

  • Well … uh … the New Zealanders don’t understand my English attempts.
  • Their Santa is a joke.
  • They act hard and unwillingly to get our cars through inspection.
  • The gallery owner treats me wrong.
  • The landlord and us don’t have warm feelings for each other.

are we happyNevertheless, we are very happy. I have a very cozy little studio where I am almost all day. Which overlooks the garden where I am thrilled every morning about what is happened that night in the veggie patch. Daily we are walking to the beach or village or forest while we sing to the tourists “we-don’t-have-to-go-back-hooome” (bis). The temperature is always perfect. The door to the deck is open for a month already.
Maybe that all sounds rather ordinary, but working on an even bigger ‘grand and compelling’ future life is always on our list.

Arrival of Santa

20 December 2005

arrival of santaToday, the landlord and his wife were expected to arrive at 10 AM on inspection. Yesterday we soon cleaned up the house and baked cookies.
At 9:30 AM they already knocked on the door! Frank got a scolding because he had cut down a tree. While the landlord had said on the first day: “You can do what you want with the garden”. Apparently not. The tree put a lot of shade in the garden and Frank thought it was meant as a flower garden where sunlight is needed …

A few weeks ago we saw the arrival of Santa Claus. His appearance was a bit disappointing. Apparently this year he could not find his fake mustache so he had hung his beard right under his nose and cut a hole for his mouth. It looked strange.
His hat was hung diagonally in front of his face, so that at least the people on the left side of the street couldn’t see his sloppy disguise. The right side of Santa was partly hidden by the pink fairy. That was easy, because Santa was very skinny, for a Santa.

arrival of santa clausHis somewhat lame appearance was preceded by a long line of ‘commercials’ by the local entrepreneurs. They had understood that Santa had to be the highlight of the show, so their floats looked as if they were quickly glued together the night before. Usually the company logo was used for promotional prospect, decorated with 1 simple Christmas garland 1 and -at best- with a cardboard reindeer antlers too.

We already have recognized a few people in the parade!!! The man who has come to pick up the Imperial last week (with the almost crushed trailer) blew the bagpipe along with the band wearing Scottish skirts. The mechanic who was in charge to repair the Lincoln was the chauffeur of the mayor driving a white Cadillac (my Lincoln probably was not ready to use yet, whahaha). And the owner of the Indian take-away drove around with an open boot within his 18 years old daughter ostensibly cooking on a plastic child’s kitchen.
That must be a miserable father …

Gallery Fisher

10 December 2005

This week we went to Auckland to show my newest paintings to the owner of gallery Fisher.
After this visit, I was wondering … is it too much to expect a chair and an offered cup of coffee after we have driven a trip of 4 hours? Fisher may be one of the better and upmarket galleries, but a little courtesy belongs to that world too, isn’t it?
Anyway, these ‘different’ manners we shall gather under the no-nonsense policy. The sunny side is that next January 5 paintings can participate in the Summer Salon. I’m not sure what this exactly will mean – but for now I’m happy the paintings will hang somewhere, instead of getting dust on the attic.

Unexpected I got a great understanding for Moroccan women who still don’t speak Dutch after living in the Netherlands for 20 years. During our vacation in New Zealand 2 years ago, I didn’t understand a word of the accent. Now, after three months living here, I slowly begin to understand about 30%  I’m developing a talent for scanning the pitch of the voices, to know when I need to draw a matching animated face.
From the beginning, Frank is an intermediate between me and the outside world. Very occasionally I try to say something myself, but every time my courage sinks deeper and deeper. Without exception the listener looks at me in horror when I have said a few words. Even if I’m sure it is no dirty talk! The only thing I can do to break the frightening silence is to loudly shout out the keyword of my intended conversation. Mostly then the conversation is moving on, or sometimes Frank brings salvation. But it is not really encouraging. The Pavlovian effect is that I’m already blushing if I’m only think I should say something.

gallery fisherI still need to cancel the appointment with that cruel hairdresser. I’m not going to do that by phone! “Hell nooo,” I’ll send a postcard, because writing goes okay. Although … I guess you are able to read this blogs.
The willingness to belong to some kind of community has faded away already, so I can drift away into my seclusion. Though I still have quickly hung up the latest fashion in Christmas lights (from the Dutch Ikea) on the curtain rail to show the neighbourhood how ‘worldly’ we are!

Cars are human

3 December 2005

While I’m painting, Frank is busy trying to get the cars on license.
human carsIt seems like we are the first people in New Zealand ever, who have imported something this strange. One of our cars never has had a Dutch license. We never started that process in the Netherlands, after we imported the Imperial from USA, because of the expected short time he would drive on the Dutch roads.
In order to obtain a New Zealand license, for example the cars first need an approval document for the LPG (they run on gas), but to get that LPG-document the cars must have a license … that’s a vicious circle of impossibilities.

The Lincoln is owned by me. It’s on my name. But the documents of the import (of both cars) were done on Frank’s name. So actually, Frank has imported a car that is not in his possession! Fortunately, the inspector understood that it would be slightly cumbersome to export the car back to the Netherlands for the proper appellation.
Conveniently, we can screw on the Pajero license plates on the Lincoln hence we don’t need to rent a car ambulance every time she has to be checked and modified. The Imperial however, unfortunately is not drivable because he has no brakes yet.
Btw … did you notice I call the Lincoln a ‘she’ and the Imperial a ‘he’? In the classic-car-community it’s common to use the she-word for the landyachts (another pet name). Initially I found it a weird habit, but after a while I got used to it. However, I can’t do it with the Imperial … that beast is too masculine.

The Imperial has a hole in the floor of the size of a shoe and it needs to be fixed by a company at the bottom of the mountain. Driving the way up to our house is not a problem without brakes, but down is not thinkable.
Frank rented the largest tow truck from the whole Bay area, because earlier this week the Imperial had almost crushed an ‘adult’ trailer by climbing on it.
Also in this hauler the front wheels slowly went up when he was winched in … It was really sensational to see how our enormous giant was crawling on the back of the tow truck. The tow truck almost looked skinny and I felt sorry for it. I was stunned that the driver didn’t stop us and kept his face straight. Sincere applause!

Spot the differences!

human cars

Prizes and awards

20 November 2005

During the school year the children regularly get awarded with prizes to encourage them growing to the hard adult life. The credo is; Everyone has 1 talent at least. So, there are not just awards for who can count the best, who writes the most beautifully, or who can name all capitals in the world … no, in a class of 30 children are 30 prices. There is also a prize for who has been the most obedient, who was the most attentive, or who has done the most to help another.

Once the New Zealander matured, this continues. In the newspaper today, our adult citizens were awarded with prizes; This was the week for the gardeners. In addition to the finest theme garden, rock garden or landscaped yard there were also -in all earnest awards for the garden that is best visible from the road (!) the best dual-earner garden (!) and best single-parent-garden (!).

Yesterday, the Lincoln has been to the garage to get ‘awarded’ with her WoF (warranty of road fitness). Sneakily we drove off the mountain without license plates – and as silently as possible soon returned. Before we can get a license number there still need some things be done. A lot of these jobs are doable for Frank but the licence-distributor requires a certificate from an authorized car dealer for all repairs and modifications. That is quite shitty because Franks has stored a lot of these specialized classic car parts at home JUST BECAUSE they are not available at normal garages. Frank learned to do every job by his own JUST BECAUSE normal garages are not set up to such old sledges.

On September 28, I wrote Frank had found money on the street four times. Since then, there were regularly appearing coins and even a note at his feet. At the 8th time for a moment I thought about writing about it again, but I assumed that you would not believe it.
Today, I can not help it to mention that he found the 12th coin in nine weeks.

prizes and awardsOn the picture the tiny mini-airport of Whakatane. Just 1 hall and 1 desk for ‘in and out’. A coffee machine instead of a MacDonald and 2 Kliko bins for the trash. Oh, and at the side 1 hospital bed (?). The one and only guy who handles the tickets, is the same one and only guy who is driving an old dented car over the airstrip 5 minutes before the plane is landing, to check if the strip is free of rubbish, animals, stones or whatever.

Using the towbar

13 November 2005

Almost all pieces of furniture have found a place in the house and the old struggle to follow a normal daily routine is popping up again. But slowly we are getting a kind of everyday life (I’m painting again!) and we starting to think thoroughly about a next emigration …
Nooo, you should not believe everything;
using the towbarHowever … at the gypsy market a gypsy princess read our hand and she said that we would buy a plane.
So, we bought a plane.

In the weekend we decided to do a barefoot walk on the beach. After half an hour collecting large shells (I want to use them as a ‘single bed’ for each half-ripen strawberry in my garden, to protect them against the predatory ants) we saw a van on the beach. That’s nothing special, because man is allowed to drive on the beach to fish or gather wood. After coming closer we immediately became approached by the driver: “Yes, I’m parked here rather clumsy”.
“Yes, you are sunk in the sand to your axles !”
“Uh, I can hear you come from the Netherlands?”
Etcetera … etcetera …

using the towbarHe is a traveling salesman professional gardening tools and didn’t want to be back to his boss too early, so a bit bored he drove on the sand, realizing too late he was sitting in the business-van instead of his own 4WD. Well, the first few meters went well, but now he was hopelessly stuck and the tide was rising. Relieved he jumped up when it turned out that our car was a 4wd.
Once the chain was on the towbar the van was very unwilling to be moved. Only after 30 meters by dragging the van through the sand, the tires got grip again. But not after first thrown out a few heavy wood shredders.
The man was very happy we saved his day and offered us a nice pruning tool from his stock.

The impatient hairdresser

3 November 2005

After an earlier moving in the Netherlands, my famous planetary table (made with mirrors and luminous paint) and  was never put together again. On a cold winter’s day some parts even have landed in the fireplace. Since then we never have had a coffee table anymore, while knowing they are damn useful!
hairdresser During our search for chairs -which is still going these days- we saw all sorts of beautiful things to spice up the house, but not the right chairs. For example we saw a beautifully handcrafted coffee table from Hawaii. I found the slices of palmwood such a good idea! So we bought it!

For weeks I peeked inside every hairdresser’s, hoping to see the brand ‘Kérastase’ on the shelves. Because the quality of my hair is not really impressive I’m scared to risk a brand of dye I’m not familiar with. In Tauranga I happily found one.
The hairdresser frowned her eyebrows after seeing the color number I got from my Dutch hairdresser, but after some searching in a drawer she put a nylon piece of hair on my head that somewhat resembled the wanted colour.
The washing-girl was tempered soon by my many tangles which she resolutely teared out. At this moment my English isn’t improved enough to defend myself, so I accepted the gloomy prospect that my hair would be another 10% thinner.

hairdresserAfter 45 minutes the stuff was washed out. Via the mirror I saw the moody girl and the hairdresser discussing and pointing to my wet wisp in the sink over and over again. Because of the loud music and the rustling sound of the running taps I couldn’t hear what they said, but the expressions of their faces didn’t reassure me. The hairdresser grumpy stalked off and came back with yet another paste. My Dutch hairdresser never did it that way …
Eventually the color turned out okay, but I think the next time I try to dye it myself.

Household goods

31 October 2005

household goodsFriday the sea container with household goods was put in our street by a swing lift. That’s a truck with 2 huge claws on board, resembling giant spider legs.
To prevent the trees to be damaged, the container was placed at the beginning of our dead-end street about 70 meters from the house. It was opened by another inspector, who checked for hidden animals, insects and suspicious odors.

Maybe Dutchies are restrained to owe their neighbours a favour in an early stage. So, to prevent they would notice the clamor outside and persist to help us to empty the container, we hired 2 guys to quickly do the job. Wishful thinking. Within five minutes I saw 2 neighbours walking between the container and the house with very familiar stuff on their backs. We felt embarrassed and it’s difficult to explain why. As newbie’s we don’t want to bother and of course the neighbours only wanted to make us feel welcome.
Also an anonymous neighbour put a home-made cake on our stairs. Oh dear.

At the end of the day, sneakily in the dark, we put a few bottles of wine at the neigbours’ doorstep. No idea if that is appropriate or not, but that’s how Dutchies try to get rid of the owing. Weird cultures 🙂 Stiff meets laid-back.

household goodsAfter a week ‘I’m-lying-under-a-newspaper-and-you-have-to-get-me’ from the book ‘Indoor activities for bored toddlers’ we allowed Pini to play outside. Without parental supervision. She is very happy. Like us. She stays neatly in her own yard. Like us. And they poops neatly in someone else’s garden. Like us.
Her new job is to guard the garden from birds and against the white neighbour-cat bent on faecal revenge. Pini is particularly proud to be the only woman in the neighbourhood with an embroidered phone number around her neck!

household goodsThat scary flickering lamp, perhaps is indication of a slightly different view with regards to the installation of electricity. Over here it is forbidden to fiddle with your wiring by yourself, but that’s probably deeper reason that the professionals tying the wires on a very inscrutable way. Frank had cutoff the power and still he got a shock …

Talking about professionals;
On the radio I heard an advertisement for a plumbing company with the specialty that all employees definitely are above 40 years old, guaranteeing their experience …

Sea container arrival

26 October 2005

The past two days were devoted to the car container. Which was of course much more important than the furniture container. Yes, we do miss the washing machine, all my pretty clothes and my art materials, but my nightmare is, that the cars are left unguarded too long and take up too much space in a busy area. Then other people will make decisions to get them through customs. That could mean; driving them!
I know, nightmares are not realistic.

Like true watch dogs we were all day at the port, until the cars were released after thoroughly being investigated by a bio-security inspector for insects, seeds and grains of sand. Thank goodness we only had to do an additional vacuuming on the spot. If the guy had been bad-tempered, he could demand both cars to get steam cleaned and then we still had to hang around another day in a constant stream of passing by dock workers, asking; “What’s the maximum speed? What’s the weight? What’s the year? How much horsepower?”

Wow, that machine is strong!
How is it possible?! My baby back!
Oooooh, completely intact !!! And just as insolent as always.
In the meanwhile we are searching the Yellow Pages to find a transporter that would be available immediately once we get the green light. We found one. For such big cars we get a matching driver. He weighs at least 200 kilo’s, so we had good value for money!
It was so much fun to drive our Pajero behind the float of wobbly cars! Gently rocking, like two fat ladies on the tram …

(arrows findable in the enlarged pictures)

Something else:
In the local paper a charity auction is announced. Fifty percent goes to charity and printed is a long list of local businesses who are sponsoring the auction. The items they offer are listed as; CDs, clothing, jewelry, linen, etc. But one of the most intriguing items is that of Osborne Attewell Clews & Law; they offer a free divorce.

We haven’t seen our neighbour for 3 days. The only person we saw was someone who brought a bouquet of flowers and a white envelope.
Was it Osborne?

Car seats in the living room

23 October 2005

car seats in the living roomWe still have no chairs, but today Frank got the bright idea to take out the 5th and 6th car seat. A relief, because I’m already a bit of an hunchback and without proper chairs it got worse. It is almost cozy now; seated in front of the warm fireplace, with the seat belts on, haha.

Our shopping for today was another plant. I had my eye on a Cape Gooseberry. This plant gets orange fruits growing in a small brown paper bag. You’ve probably seen them as one of those nice lantern-like decorations on the dessert in a fancy restaurant. And then there was always someone on the same table asking: “Huh, is this edible???”

 Click on the image to see happened 4 years later

Today we wanted to eat something bad, nasty and fatty. We paid for this sin by walking to the fast food eatery, instead of driving by car. The shop is called ‘Grandad’s Fish & Chips’ and the sign on the window says it’s an award-winning place to be.
Grandad turned out to be a Chinese boy of about 25 years old. Doesn’t matter … the faded sign was from 1996. You need to know on this part of the hemisphere this kind of ‘food’ is still served rolled in a newspaper. Okay … with a sheet of white paper in between, but still … weird. I’m wondering if this is done because of some considerations of nostalgia. Anyway … this meal was the lowest form of food we have ever experienced in our lives. Matching the quality and taste we ate it outside on a bench beside the trash bin.

Back home I have rewarded us by home-baked cookies !!! The first time in my life.

Small talk and hot pools

21 October 2005

small talk and hot poolsDuring the wait for the sea container -doomed to be bored to death- our favourite thing to do has become shopping. Every day we allow ourselves to buy 1 something, because that is our only amusement when the sun is not shining. If the sun does shine, of course we do exhaustive forest and beach hikes, but we won’t bore you with the enumeration of all that scenic beauty.
That ‘buying something’ can range from furry winter slippers (there’s only 1 single wood stove in the house) to a clothesline, or a strawberry plant, or chrome polish. Every day we are looking forward to this shopping moment. Mostly 30 minutes before leaving the house, at least one of us is already waiting and tail-wagging at the front door, anticipating the joy.
We buy 1 thing per day. Today our highlight was buying a tin opener. Usually we write a real honouring shopping list for that one and only thing!

New Zealanders love to talk. If they ask: “How are you?”, they expect a real answer. They are not easy to put off with some mumble. The least thing you have to do is to ask the same question in return. Therefore often encounters with neighbours are turning into endless conversations. In daily traffic eye contact is answered promptly with an explicit greeting. Even teenagers half hiding under a tree, politely interrupt their kissing session for a friendly nod.
During shopping you can not avoid some form of attention. For me, as being a hermit-light, it is something I really need to get used to. In the Netherlands contact with strangers was much more formal, so living in my invisible mobile cocoon didn’t necessary feel like being unsocial.

In a New Zealand supermarket:
Cashier: “Ah, cat food … what kind of cat do you have?”
Customer: “Um … a black and white”.
Cashier: “We used to have a cat. But now we have moved on and we had to left him. Too bad though, because they are cute. How long do you have him?”
Customer: “Um … five years.”

Cashier: “Does it taste good, that Italian coffee?”
Customer: “Uh … yeah, good.”
Cashier: “I always wanted to try it, but it’s a little expensive. Maybe I should buy it some time”.

Well, you see … I’m not good in it. It’s a totally undeveloped area in my brain.

The container ship ‘Busan Express’ will arrive next week in Tauranga and yesterday we were at the port already, to arrange the paperwork. We have visited 4 offices! A joy, because the day flew by!

small talk and hot poolsTo make it into a bit of a break, we went to the mineral hot pools too. No, not those white terraces in the open countryside, where people with skin diseases are soaking. These were just some private swimming pools of 3 x 5 meter, that you can hire per 30 minutes. Or you can choose to swim in a normal sized pool without a time limit, together with floating strangers. The mineral water comes from somewhere deep inside of Mother Earth and is just the right temperature; the temperature of mild fever, haha.
When we dipped in it was already dusk and it just started to rain really hard. We chose one of the private pools without a roof. It was fun!

Harvesting vegetables

10 October 2005

We have been back to Auckland because HURRAY, Pini had accomplished her prescribed 30-day quarantine!!!
We checked in at the counter with $ 1,000 ransom. The lady at the desk was relieved to see us, because they had been expecting us last Saturday … (what??? I’m quite sure I can count to 30 pretty good, since … let us say … since 35 years … but ok, don’t argue.)
At first Pini loudly meowed in the car for 2 hours and then fell asleep for the next 2 hours. On the ground, on the driver’s side, near the pedals. Because of course just that is the best spot to relax (?!).

Once in the green house, she had hours of work to rub every corner and edge, and she doesn’t budge from our side more than a few inches. That is good. Her job as a pet is hard, because she is our only toy now. Along with the laptop and newspaper. So having her around is a great improvement in our daily struggle to get through the day. The next excitement is the arrival of the container, but that will take more than two weeks.

What happens if you don’t have a TV? Then you play games. What happens if you don’t have games? Well, when I was your age, haha … we were all sweet with a basket of clothespins! So, on my shopping list were clothespins today.
harvesting vegetablesI also walked around in the garden and have found all kinds of food! Oranges, leeks, broad beans and some greens unknown to me, but planted in rows which suggested to me that they are edible. I’m totally unfamiliar with vegetable gardens, but it looks like fun. I also bought a hoe and even dug up some potatoes and carrots! As a child I shivered of broad beans -they still smelled like socks- but today I found them delicious.

European style

4 October 2005

european styleYesterday I moved the bed to the dining area, where also is located the phone wall plug. Now we can use internet in bed (remember; we are writing 2005 😉 ). But a more important reason is, now the bed was further away from that scary lamp.

But this night I saw the kitchen light is flashing too …

Now we are in possession of an car insurance, an address and a fridge, we find ourselves already real citizens, so we went to the council for registration. At the information desk we proudly told why we were here for. The lady looked at us a bit oddly. However, she called someone else in to help her out. They discussed something together and unanimously decided we don’t need to enroll. Disappointed we slinked off. How do they do their census? In the Netherlands we are un-registered. And here they don’t want to register us …
Where ARE we? We want to belong to SOMETHING !!!

For days, in a radius of 100 kilometers we are searching for outdoor chairs which we want to use now for temporarily indoor chairs. We are discovering that not only the second-hand furniture is terrible, but new furniture too. It also may be that we are very spoiled. But at the other hand … every furniture item with the tiniest ‘European’ touch is loudly advertised. Over here “European style” is a superlative. So, at least the New Zealander realizes there is something to worship. At this point I regret we so highty-tighty refused that dizzying stock at Ikea and all those little design shops in Amsterdam. Now we have to drive a long way for some chairs that are not made of white plastic or chairs that may be purchased individually rather than by 9-piece set.
european style
An advantage of all these kilometers, is that I had to drive on the left side twice again. I have dared to drive 90 kilometers per hour, I did winding roads in the mountains and waved to other truckers! All at once!

Back to Auckland

1 October 2005

I had a quite sleepless night. The pillows were too flat and the house creaked.
The house is made of wood and when the temperature changes at night the wood moves and creates very loud sounds.
Also every 10 seconds the lamp above our bed in the living room made a very faint, eerie flash. We thought it would stop as soon as the lamp might consumed some left-over electricity (or so?!), but every time I looked at it, it still was creepily flashing!
On my nocturnal trip to the bathroom, I didn’t dare to under pass the lamp; scared for the Electric Arm that would drag me into the mains. So I had to get out, and back in, stepping over Frank’s head.
He is a very patient man.

In the morning at 7:45 AM we were already starting the car to go to Auckland on pet-visit at Pini. That distance is about the same as Amsterdam/Luxembourg.
Pini is very happy again. Not especially with her own existence, but with our presence. Her neighbour cat finds us extremely interesting too and he is sitting and watching us the full hour, pleading with his nose flat on the glass. Occasionally interrupted with theatrical tearing out substantially pieces of fur. On his door I read that is in the cattery for a few months now, so … I guess it’s not very good for their mental health.

back to aucklandAfter the solemn promise to Pini that mom & dad come to get her within 9 days, we go to a mall to buy fuller pillows and … to face that refrigerator problem. Those small knee-high mini fridges are offered for 340 New Zealand dollar, but here in Auckland we found one for only 199.
“Always good for the future guest room!” is what we say very often, lately.

First day in the green house

30 September 2005

The cheap motel is said goodbye and we have occupied the green house. The manager of the hotel shouted after Frank: “Don’t forget to come to the Topless Waitress Show next week!”

Like agreed; on our first day the new bed is delivered. With exaggerated royal linen because in the next 4 weeks the bed will be our only piece of furniture. We placed it in the living room, because we also need to sit and eat on it.

Today the shopping list only contains some cleaning utensils. Without furniture my household is so incredibly small, that I’m planning to do it very thorough and very slow. I’m even looking forward to it, because until the arrival of the shipping containers, we don’t have anything else to play with.
The summer hasn’t start yet, but we don’t want to do the typical tourist things anyway, because we want to save those trips until the parents come to visit us in a couple of months.

We realized we didn’t think about how to cool our groceries. Actually, a fridge is a bit too expensive to purchase for only 4 weeks. We’ve been told that there is a lively trade in second hand goods, but found out that was a bit disappointing. Indeed there is a lot of junk, but it’s so expensive! You better buy new.
Maybe a tiny new fridge? One of those mini-bar sizes?

Household appliances

29 September 2005

The neighbours in our hotel are laborers who are living somewhere rural in the country. Here, after work, they drink away their evenings in the hotel bar. Last night I was suddenly awakened by a noise, followed by the light turned on in our adjoining front room. I hammered on Frank’s head, but when he woke up the light was already turned off and we heard someone stumble away …
Strange. Probably all motel rooms, for convenience, have the same key. The nocturnal visitor was certainly not interested in our beautiful laptop, glitzy digital camera and the new mobile phone laying around on the dinner table.

The credit card WORKED!!! And it was lovely to buy household appliances. You couldn’t get a girl more happy. Especially in a good end of season sale.

household appliancesAfter we had loaded a full trolley of purchases in the car, we decided to bring it right away to the new house. We can’t move in before Friday, but we were allowed to use the key. It was good to look around on our own and to feel free to check every little corner and to take pictures.

The first parcel with Frank’s name on it, was already put at the front door. The modem! Maybe it works tomorrow! I’m not able to concentrate myself any longer in the internet cafe, because they are playing loud German hard rock.

Those people walking barefoot on the street are actually a completely accepted phenomenon; On the window at the stained-glass shop hangs a sign: Footwear is recommended. Yeah hahaha.

I still have no idea what to reply when someone says: “Hi, how are you ?!” I noticed in the USA it is more or less a kind of greeting if you enter a shop or restaurant, without a real answer is expected. But if I only smile and doing a friendly nod, a New Zealander takes the time to ask the question a second time! Are they really interested in a meaningful answer? In the Netherlands we are not used to such an interest in a complete stranger.
It’s refreshing, but in a strange way it also makes me feel to be ‘too noticed’.

Arranging connection to daily life

28 September 2005

Last week Frank has found coins on the street for already 4 times! He is thinking about to becoming a professional money sweeper. By contrast; to get our money out of the ATM is rather tough though. Our new credit card, which we temporarily have entrusted our entire earthly possessions, suddenly pretends not to know us. Luckily to get the key money for the house, succeeded with our emergency card, so next Friday we can move into the green house.
We still have 3 days to gather some inventory. Well, hopefully … if the new credit card can be hypnotized back into life. Because of the time difference we have to call our Dutch bank late at night. And we are calling them every night!

Connection to electricity was organized in only 5 minutes! We got a real person on the phone, instead of a menu. Conveniently! The receptionist of the help desk made us believe we will have an internet connection right next week!

I got my first job from the Netherlands. I have to create an illustration for an ABC book about cities. I make 50 euros plus royalties, so soon we can buy 12 of those small boxes of expensive cherry tomatoes, whahaha.
arranging connection to daily lifeFurthermore, I got compliments of three different women in different shops chattering about my lovely necklace. Well … if everything fails, I still can order a few kilos of beads and start a lovely-necklace-stall!

To buy a bed we went to Tauranga. That’s a 90 kilometers ride.
Frank forced me to take the wheel, to get me used to the right-hand drive. I hardly dare to exceed 80 kilometers per hour, while all other road users seemed to do 200!
I just got a deep respect for all New Zealanders and British people, who drive the wrong side of the road daily.

Many myths about New Zealand are untrue, but their not-so-fashionable furniture is correct. For beds they have a preference for these weird high double granny mattresses. We have chosen the most Ikea-like bed that was available, with the softest mattress in the store. “That’s weird”, said the sales man, “because all Dutchmen always choose hard mattresses.” When we wanted to checkout our new the bed, pillows, duvet and linen … that rotten credit card still didn’t work! While last night the bank clerk emphasize … and he convinced us … and he swore that …
Tonight we will call again. The 3rd time!

Viewing the rental house

26 September 2005

Fortunately, today everyone is back to work and we can continue our live too.
The morning we spent again in various stores. At the outside of Whakatane we found some furniture stores, car dealers and giant stores with clothes and household stuff. It is all much larger than I thought. But for today we have limited ourselves to buy valve caps and a quick orientation walk in a bed store. Our own furniture doesn’t arrive earlier than next month.

In the afternoon we finally can view the inside of the rental house on the mountain. It is painted in a quite ugly bright green colour. The bottom is a double garage and on top are 3 small bedrooms, a very small livingroom, kitchen, bathroom and a large deck. The car can be parked under the deck. The house is located at the end of a short dead-end street with four other houses. Inside it ‘s the kind of house like when you just left your parents. Very simple.
viewing the rental houseWe went to see another house to have the idea that we are making a well through-out choice. The other house is located in a plain and cheaper neighborhood.
To the real estate agent we pretended we need a deep think, but as soon as she is gone we drove straight back to the green house. On top of the dead-end street we called her to say that we wanted the green one.

Before tomorrow 11:00 AM we have to hand over the key money. Only if … we get permission from the landlord. Oh dear, how do we get him in a good favor? Shall I wear that glitter shirt with that deep cleavage? Or do loyal payers just wear pleated grey skirts.