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 …
So, 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.
22 December 2005
Just 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.
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.
But 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.
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.
One 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.
Nevertheless, 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.
20 December 2005
Today, 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.
His 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 …
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.
I 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!
3 December 2005
While I’m painting, Frank is busy trying to get the cars on license.
It 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!