Archive | October 2005

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.