Tag Archive | life in new zealand

Worm farm

24 October 2006

On some days, nothing succeeds. Everything I painted I had to wipe off because I lost my artistic mojo. When I took a comforting cookie, I bit hard on the inside of my cheek. When I walked to the mirror in tears I discovered the wet laundry has been sitting in the washing machine for 2 days … and in the hallway I found a trail cat litter on the carpet because of a leaking trash bag earlier that day.
Then you can do two things. Or save the rest of the day for tomorrow. Or start buying things. Men often choose to buy a nice stereo. Women choose for clothes. Only if you are 2 victims together, than maybe something more original is resulting.

Eventually we purchased a worm farm. I guess because of the education we got from the Dutch government.
For us it was quite normal already, to separate the waste. New Zealanders were only just begun. We recently got a green and gray wheelie bin and the council still sways with the educational finger on what kind of trash we have to put in which bin.
But we were thoroughly educated already. We threw our kitchen waste in the green bin. Simple. But that was not the intention!!! Because then the green garbage would start to … smell. And the intention is that only the grey garbage stinks.
With the green landfill as well as the grey landfill nothing is done. They are just being there. Because we didn’t understand the goal of it, we separated the waste anyway, but at the same time we were offended that no one was grateful for our effort. In fact; we did something wrong that was not wrong! Even more; the landlady who occasionally makes a kind of inspection around the house, taught us that the inside of the green bin became … dirty. And we had to clean it.
Really? Yes, she was serious.

worm farm

This is only one floor. And … actually they shouldn’t be in our living room.

And so, that day we went to a farm whose owner is much more self-sufficient as we will ever dare, and we bought a big plastic kit and a pound of worms. Fun for all ages, said the sticker on the wrapping.
At home we have put together the worms flat of 3 floors and released the worms into the lowest level. Now every day we throw a little bucket of apple cores and peels into the worm house and fertile soil comes out. In fact the fertile soil is worm-poo.
I’m happy to see my new pets are glad with my waste effort. I even cut the waste in small pieces and try to give them some variation every day.




Spring fling

16 Oktober 2006

spring fling, treasure huntEvery year, the ‘classic car club’ organizes a treasure hunt. Considering our integration … of course we had to participate.

At 9:30 AM we went to the local picnic grounds for the breakfast/meeting. Pancakes, hmmm !!!
We watched it for a while and then I wanted to start the treasure hunt. To my dismay the trolley/racing car was the first mission of the puzzle questionnaire!!! That meant I would have to drive the vehicle as well!!! In front of the eyes of hundreds of bloodthirsty New Zealanders!!! For a moment I was considering I could better do the push-job because of my opposite rotating brains, but that would be a too big defeat for Frank. And … he should push on his own, a one man’s job for him, because we lacked the relatives and family members like the other participants. I felt sorry for him, but on the other hand … A Real MAN doesn’t need help!
spring fling, treasure huntThe trail was a bumpy lawn and the tits of all those steering ladies dangerously bounced up and down in the wagon without springs. Which one of us ladies, had expected this when we dressed ourselves this morning! Luckily for me, for this day I had chosen to wear my leather jacket -what is endless cool (read; silly) when it’s 23 degrees- so I was able to zip up all my ‘moving parts’. My fear of the jeering crowd had apparently placed me in a highly concentrated state, because we went awfully fast and flawless. All those locals, who were pushed by 2 men … hah, what a sissies !!!

spring fling, treasure huntOne of the other missions was to do some skateboarding. You need to know that most of the members of a classic car club are over the 60 years of age. We both never had done this before, but Frank wore his favorite pants and they were bought in Alkmaar in a skate shop! So, it was totally logical he was the one who has to do it.

spring fling, treasure huntThe ‘brake test’ had to be done on a ramp; a slanted piece of concrete below the water level where you can get your boat into the water. The game was; You had to drive backwards down the ramp within 25 seconds, dip your rear wheels into the water and quickly drive upwards. Many of these showy cars are low builded, so if their rear wheels were dipped in the water, their exhaust pipes dipped in at the same time. A nice side effect!

spring fling, treasure huntTo grow some team spirit there should be a common enemy. To American car lovers the enemies are the Japanese cars. So one of the tasks was shooting Japs. They had visualised this by bolted emblems of Japanese cars on tree trunks. And voila, your shooting game.

spring fling, treasure huntAt the end of the day the prizes were awarded by our local Miss Whakatane, assisted by her girlfriend. The last one hit enormous mugs of beer and wore a sash with Miss Personality.




Haka

8 October 2006

The hotel we have visited last week, is located on a busy main street of Auckland. When we left in the morning and waited at the side of the road for our valet parked car (I told you it was a fancy hotel!) … suddenly there was an impressive and weird silence in the street. All the cars were gone, like a kind of ‘traffic tide’. Along the street I saw a few people carrying flowers and from far away I heard the thin sound of a bagpipe …
“Woohoo, a parade!” we said, eager for a bit of sensation.
A long procession of young people in graduation costume was passing us. You know; those black cloaks with the square hats. And there were hundreds of them! Each school was preceded by a forerunner holding up a name sign. These were not only the graduates from the universities, but all students who had achieved something. I had never seen such a thing in the Netherlands.

At the end of the parade we heard shouting and the audience was on the middle of the street.
“Woohoo, a fight!” we said, eager for a bit of sensation.
I thought there had arisen a quarrel. However, there were 3 Maori boys who did a haka for their successful brother. A haka is no such thing as our Dutch folkloric wooden-shoe-dance. No … at first sight it looks like an aggressive war dance with a bold sounding text. A kind of primal rap. If a haka is ‘bursting out’ somewhere near by, it could scare the hell out of you and it’s truly intimidating. There are several kinds of haka and this was an expression of respect to their brother. You better not disturb them by (nervously) laughing, because it really means something serious here. And the most interesting thing to me is that it is not ‘organized’ to keep alive a certain culture on special days … no, it just belongs in modern life.

By the time young people finally have to face adulthood, they yearn for their first “OE”. That means ‘overseas experience’. To get across the border in New Zealand, you always have to use a airplane. In Europe a teenager can hop over to another country even by using a moped. It’s nothing special and usually these visits are not more than short breaks drown in booze.
But over here people don’t need to leave the country for sunny beaches or snowy Alps. It’s all here. So, the first earned cash of young people is mostly spent on visiting their first foreign country. If possible, at least for a few months (including work) and it’s really something that’s part of their growing up. It seems to me very well for the development of self-confidence and independence.

For example you can see a haka done by students at the funeral of their teacher.


Death of the queen

29 August 2006

The Maori queen didn’t wear a soft ermine cloak with golden brooch, but a poorly fitting brownish piece of furry-like material, held together with ordinary string. Later on, I heard that the piece was severely guarded. It was an old heirloom, made out of kiwi feathers, so nothing less than an ermine fur.
Sorry queen, that I was laughing at you, while you wore it so proudly and without embarrassment …

She didn’t have the same big political influence as our Dutch queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, but the Maori queendom also isn’t only folklore. She tried to keep together the many maori tribes, what is politically quite important because of the large pieces of land owned by maori people.
death of the queenIf you wanted to mourn for the death of the queen today, you had to wear a wreath of ivy on your head. I haven’t seen anybody with a wreath in our village. Her death is more a Maori issue, but we white people (we are called pakeha) were allowed to look with our helicopters and tour buses …
There are no princes or princesses for succession. Right after the birth of this queen her father said to her mother; “Mother, no more babies for us anymore, because I am too afraid that you are going to die. It was a horrible sight!!!” And so the Maori queen was an only child.
I think she was a good one because she owned a 1953 Chrysler. That’s cool! And her shoes were cool too.

By the way … Today it was a beautiful day and we decided to take a walk, to the jewelry tree. And guess what???
Everything was GONE!




Socializing

28 July 2006

It happened I have to provide a lunch for strangers. If you had told me 1 year ago, that I had to cook a meal for 8 English-speaking strangers … I would have pointed to your forehead.
You must know that I was the kind of child with serious plans for arson when I had to give a talk in front of the class. A talk was equal to death and burning down the school was a possible solution. Not a long-term solution, I know … but yet less myopic than childishly staying at home with stomach aches. In my opinion. I only needed to get stoked by the wrong friends, but unfortunately I was only an attraction for fathomless good children.
So, this voluntary lunch, we safely can regard as a Personal Breakthrough!

Over here (and probably in a lot of other countries than the netherlands) it’s customary that guests bring something to eat to a dining or luch appointment. But, it seems to be a kind of unwritten prohibition to ask the host what makes sense to bring … If a guest asks, of course the host will say: “Oh nooo, you don’t need to bring anything, your company is enough!” So nobody asks anything and the host can’t advice anything. In the Netherlands most people bring flowers or wine and the host determined what’s on the menu. That’s another form of ‘easy’.

socializingThe evening before, at the checkout in the supermarket, we were waiting behind two older teenage girls that have been bathed and already wore their immaculate pink flannel pyjamas. Nevertheless, in a warmer country like this, that looked slightly less weird than in a cold country. You just come bare feet to pick up some chips for later in front of the TV … It also seems less strange because there are enormous palm trees at the exit of the supermarket that (in our Dutch eyes) gives the “outside world” something living-room-ish. You know … we are coming from a land of houseplants.

I had made a big pan of spaghetti and a nice filled salad and cheese sandwiches, but one of the guests puts a large pot of rice in my kitchen. And a bag of 10 limes, a box of chopped vegetables and a coriander plant on my counter. I didnt know what to do with it. Dinner was ready at that time and there was more than enough food. I even had no room on the table anymore. So I’ve thrown the limes in my fruit bowl and put the vegetables in the fridge …
After the lunch the coriander plant was taken again, so now it feels like I have ‘stolen’ the limes and the veggies. I don’t understand these impractical ‘rules’. I do not know … I think bringing useless flowers is still yet more convenient. Or just a simple consultation with all the concerned persons.




Snitchers 2

25 June 2006

In the newspapers of New Zealand is printed a lists of names and last known addresses of people who didn’t pay their fines. Not intended to show you what kind of bad guys they are, but more as a request for help; If you happen to know how to get in touch with one of these lawbreakers, your advice will be highly appreciated.
New Zealand also considers its citizens mature enough to join in investigations of more important cases. Contrary to the Netherlands suspects appears in the papers with name and mug shot, what of course makes searching a lot easier. The fact that many criminals are found more quickly by this publicity, invalidate the fact that some individuals temporarily got suspected by mistake. Well, you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.

So, you understand I don’t mind that list of fines in the newspaper over here, while the Dutch hotline always leaves me a bad taste. Not because now everything in New Zealander is better than what’s happening in the Netherlands … no, it’s just that the hotline has something sly and dirty, coupled with the fact that (a crucial detail!) the Dutch citizens never were allowed to know what was discussed behind the judicial doors. And certainly not allowed to hear names. Also te length of someone’s record ‘doesn’t matter’. Duh, imagine that <cynism>an ordinary dumb citizen could make some crazy conclusions</cynism>.

snitchers

Sharpening knives

By hearing the word hotline I think of anonymously betraying your neighbour, while sending him your sweetest greet every morning.




Underground

15  June 2006

undergroundundergroundA few months ago, while hiking in the woods on top of the mountain, I found a little red plastic flower. Probably fell off from a hairpin, or so. Bored I pushed the thing into a hole in a tree next to the bench where I had my picnic.
A few hours later, down in the village, I found an earring on the street. I didn’t intend to stick it in my earlobe (who knows where it has been in these days), but I stored it in the pocket of my backpack because suddenly I got an idea! At home I collected all my divorced earrings out of my jewelry box and put them in the same pocket of my backpack.

Today again we passed the tree where I pushed in that red plastic flower. It was still there and I even couldn’t get it out of the bark anymore, because of the growth of the tree. In imitation of the bubblegum alley in San Luis Obispo and the bra fence in Cardrona … I pricked my single earrings and rejected jewels in the same tree. They’re about eye level with a viewpoint on a walking trail, but it would surprise me if someone sees them right away. And that’s okay, because hey pssssst, this is ‘underground’!

undergroundundergroundI’m hoping the sharp observants among us, also hang in their loners. Who knows lost jewels will be getting together again. Who knows, one day, my jewelry tree is also a famous landmark in the Lonely Planet guide!




Squeezed buttocks

4 June 2006

Squeezed buttocksOur first winter is kicking in. The house is built of a single layer of wood and protected from the rain by a plastic skin with wood pattern … There is mold right on the windows and the days my towels were dry, are long gone. My linen starts to smell like onions. The couch is permanently covered with an electric blanket. I rediscovered the hot water bottle and on my painter seat is an electric mini-blanket. Three inches beside my seat is an oil heater.
All things I need to get used to.

Apart from the famous kiwi bird New Zealand adores some more icons. Such as the Pohutukawa tree, the beautiful blue paua shell and their unbeatable Hokey Pokey ice cream. But one of the most strange icons are the flip-flops! They are depicted on t-shirts and postcards. There are Christmas tree decorations with flip-flops on them. There are key chains and there are even created in gold mini size with gems and be proudly used as a logo to promote New Zealand. They brag about it like the Swiss with their watches … In my eyes an incomprehensible status symbol.

Now I know that the Dutch are proud of their wooden shoe, but that is still a kind of folk handcraft. Slightly different from a disposable rubber slipper … The current version is 60 years ago invented in New Zealand and they call them ‘jandals’, derived from Japanese sandals. Or THONGS  photo schrik_zpsfcrisfmx.gif the same word as string. So a thong is the collective term for garments splitting 1 body part in 2 parts. I can’t stand wearing strings and find it a distasteful garment. I don’t own thongs (I mean the flip-flops). I want them, but now knowing they have the same name as strings, I’m afraid I accidentally will walk with squeezed buttocks, when I feel something between my toes …

Does that make sense?




Possums

possums28 May 2006

In Australia the possum is a protected animal. But in New Zealand it is ‘your duty’ to kill them.
Once there were a few possums imported to breed for their fur. When the New Zealanders finally designed some nice coats at the end of the 19th century … unfortunately fur just became out of fashion. So, they released the animals from their cages.
The possums loved the New Zealand green and lived in abundance. Today there are 70 million of them. New Zealanders say they eat the eggs and chicks of their beloved kiwi bird. There are possum shops where you can still buy all sorts of things made of possum fur and tasty canned possum meat. Rumour goes round that you can sell dead possums to these shops …

In the seventies, when the government wanted to do something against possum plague, they got the idea to give the citizens a monetary reward for each collected possum. A huge hunt began. Everyone joined in and the big eradication seemed to make good progress.
Until the moment the first private possum breeding farm were discovered … in children’s rooms, in backyards, in attics …

Now they are trying again, without the help of the citizens. During hiking along the forest trails you sometimes see a pink triangle nailed to a tree. That means on a distance of a few meters from the path, there is put poison or a possum trap.
And that’s why dogs are never allowed to walk unleashed.




The gardens of the grim reaper

4 May 2006

In the Netherlands I was used to cemeteries being quite formal. We only visit them (on days other than a funeral) if we had to do something important. Such places are a bit apart from the ordinary world and therefore they are kept discrete by hedges or walls. Perhaps from the perspective that in general we were there to do private deals where passersby have nothing to do with it.
For example;

  • Discuss with the deceased.
  • Paying some attention because it’s a national holiday.
  • The gardens of the grime reaper

    Along the highway

    A visit because we are feeling guilty.

  • Begging for his/her approval in case we want to do something where about we and the deceased in life have disagreed (like marrying that dumb girl, or buying a boat).
  • Or provide an explanation if we had already done something like the latter (not stand up to our mean boss or hide the found silver cutlery for our sister).

Well, you get my point; typical the kind of cases for the wise invisibles …

The gardens of the grime reaper

Until the shoulder

Here in New Zealand, I can see the cemeteries in full regalia if we drive by. Which means; they are located right beside the road. Openly without bushes around it. Just a square piece of land, sometimes without a proper path or even without a sandy trail that leads to the graves. Preferably on a hill, so every deceased has a clear view on the traffic, like they are sitting in a cinema.
Sometimes the tombstones are build until the very edge of the road. It takes some practice, but if you would like, you even can reduce speed and throw your bunch of flowers out of the window, right on granny’s grave.

The gardens of the grime reaper

In the front yard

Sometimes it’s like someone started a cemetery in his front yard, with 10 graves at most.
There are also more lonely places with sea view, bluntly located in a hollow in the dunes.

Yesterday we came back from Hamilton and for the first time drove in the dark along these graveyards. In the evening there are lights! You know; those LED lanterns charged by the sun.




Beach hop

30 April 2006

Months ago we signed up for the Beach Hop in Coromandel. It is a fifties/sixties themed event during 5 days, with more than 1,000 American classic cars and 60,000 visitors. It’s a yearly returning show and began last Wednesday. “You should have been there and every year it is more awesome than before!” Well, my Lincoln was just old enough to be allowed as VIP visitor, so that could be fun.
Since the first day it started to rain like hell. Even some houses in the area have been washed away! That is not uncommon over here and certainly happens a few times a year. A number of roads got closed because the river has overflowed its banks.

On Saturday we still were waiting in front of the window, ready with our coats on … Shall we go? On the news we saw that in Coromandel 40,000 people were rock&rollin’ in the pouring rain. What an immense optimism!
Well … maybe tomorrow …

So … on Sunday morning at 11 o’clock we left Whakatane. Admitted, it’s a bit late for a 3 hours trip, but we all know that most events are getting on their steaming top after lunch, isn’t it?
beach hop
We arrived at 2 pm at the Beach Hop and speechless drove around for half an hour! The 1000 cars were diminished to … let’s say … 50?! The day everyone was free and the sun finally shone, we expected would be the busiest day …
What a bummer! At the entrée we even weren’t asked for out tickets. And the signs for directions were already cleared.




Badasses 2

21 April 2006

After I had recovered from badasses part 1, today for the first time in my life I saw a guy with a real hook as a hand !!! I thought a hook was a scary concoction of a writer of sailor stories. Probably a hook is a lot more robust in use and you are more frightening at a threatening fight, but it’s still fascinating that someone prefers a shiny hook to a skin-colored fake hand. I forgot to check if his car or wife were looking badly scratched.

If those New Zealanders prefer practical above aesthetic, then I wonder if the guy with the integral helmet does have a head …

When we were just arrived, I found the New Zealander much more polite than the Dutchman. Everyone greets each other on the street, except in a busy shopping street because as we said; being practical above all. You will always be noticed by the staff of a shop, greeted and asked for your well-being. Like Americans.
If you are along the road with car trouble, you will never be ignored. And if you drawed your head into your collar, your hands deep into your pockets, while making yourself as small as possible, on a spot that is not especially a walking trail … then the passing drivers still are supposing you are loudly screaming for help.

badasses 2

Drawed with a stick

At this point, their politeness changes into ignoring clearly silent signals.

Recently, there was a door-to-door collection week for a certain charity, of course preferably done at dinner time. You can not pretend you do not hear the door bell, because they just come back, walking up the stairs to the terrace and wish you a tasty meal on the threshold of the open sliding doors. Collectors must be practical too, right?




Exhibitionism

20 February 2006

Every now and then we are asked by New Zealanders why we wanted to live in Whakatane. Sometimes even with undisguised bewilderment; You are not going to live in Whakatane if you are not completely failed in life. Or if you are not sought for a crime in Europe? Living in Whakatane while you are born in that so imaginative Amsterdam, is incomprehensible to many New Zealander. For many other nations too.

Maybe it was because it rained so much during our holiday in 2003, except in Whakatane.
Maybe it was because we only had traveled half of the North Island. We were told the South island, after all, is much nicer and the people even more sweeter, but we never reached the south.
Then Whakatane felt not unfamiliar … Nooo, no scary talk about past lives – just a place I was not ready with after we had to leave! Perhaps it is with locations as with loved ones; Only a few make it to the morning.

On Saturday we went to Auckland again, to pick up my parents in law.
My father is still on pilgrimage to the south of the South Island.
exhibitionism
Already anticipating my future stardom, we were staying at the Hilton Hotel.
The apartment on the 5th floor is very comfortable and has a good view on the port. On spit-distance from our balcony is the cruise ship ‘Statendam’ docked and their deck with swimming pool is also on the 5th floor. We can look straight into each others window on a weird uncomfortable couple of meters. A lucky luck that there was no alcohol in our minibar, because even without I got a slight urge to show my bare ass to the 5th.
exhibitionismIn the afternoon we went swimming in the pool. Our hotel pool – not the cruise pool. A curious thing that hangs over the parked cars on the 4th floor squeezed between two buildings. That bright blue couple of pixels at the left on the picture is a wall of glass, so from the street you can see the swimmers. From our position we could see the photo shoot of a local bridal couple who stepped into the Jaguar.
And again I got a slight urge to … whahaha.




Badasses 1

13 February 2006

I’m always the one who’s poking an elbow; “Psst, that guy is blind!”
“Look! That woman over there has oedema ankles, don’t look !!! ”
“Hey, that guy has a stump, did you see that ?!”
I can’t help it. I just notice these things. It’s like I’m having an extra radar, comparing to my companions.

Regarding artificial legs here in New Zealand my curiosity is ample fulfilled. In the Netherlands, almost the whole year people are wearing long pants. Exceptionally shorts a few weeks in summer. Here it’s the other way around.
Maybe you would think that someone with an artificial leg wears long trousers in public to prevent scaring the kids. Or getting noticed by me. The artificial legs nowadays are no longer made of inconspicuous skin colored plastic or beautiful polished wood, no … the new prosthesis are shiny stainless steel skeletons with ingenious hinges and screws. Sometimes a more ’empathic’ user ties a senseless lightweight sneaker on the foot-part, but as a spectator you don’t have to expect more compassion over here. The amputee probably finds that the other leg doesn’t have to suffer for the absent leg. And the remaining leg -like all living legs on earth- also earns some cooling air in the hot weather. Because let’s face it; pants with 1 short and 1 long tube is more weird, isn’t it?

Badass

And again … what about my courgette harvest?!

Perhaps in the Netherlands there is walking around the same amount of artificial legs, hidden under layers of fabric, or maybe recently there has been a war over here that I didn’t notice, with a lot of hit soldiers … but last week I saw it for the 3rd time! This time 2 rvs legs united under 1 shorts! I suppose the owner was legitimately proud on them, because he opened the door of his car, then put his both hands on the edge of the roof and elegantly swung the complete steel store including himself right behind the steering wheel in 1 fluid movement.
Wow! Mighty! Thumbs!




Dentist

4 February 2006

On the last day in the Netherlands, I lost a filling of my tooth. My first thought was that ‘fortunately’ there was no time anymore, to get the gap repaired …
It is a bit weird that you are not capable to immediately throw away that nugget of amalgam, but leave it on the sink. As if the dentist would say: “Ah, it’s good you have brought the fitting evidence! Otherwise I didn’t believe it was yours.”
Or should it be the grownup version of the fairy tale: In stead of the milk tooth under your pillow changes in a coin … our nugget of amalgam on the sink would change in a nugget of gold?
Which fairy by the way I incidentally discovered far after I lost all my milkies!
(Mum, dad … we need to talk!)

In the Netherlands I always wanted an anaesthetic, because otherwise I instinctively pulled back my head right into my torso. Rather I wanted them to completely knock me out, but I never dared to ask.
The Dutch dentist probably found me a whiner, because I could not avoid the impression that he always was squeezing out the syringe too quickly, while staring at me with an amused look on his mug. Gum isn’t very elastic, so you understand … (I become nauseous again). He used 3 shots per cavity, where I was salivating at least for 3 hours and felt bruised inside my mouth for the rest of the day.

Now, in any case, I got a legal reason for delaying to visit a dentist. Indefinite postponement, because maybe there didn’t exist dentists in New Zealand.
Yeah right …

dentist

What do you think of my courgette harvest???

But you know me as a very dutiful girl, so last week we were sitting in the waiting room of a new dentist. Precisely 6 months after the obliged visit to our previous dentist. The New Zealand dentist is a lady from South Africa. The whole experience was a world of difference. She was very gentle. I got just 1 shot that I hardly felt and the anesthetic was gone after 1 hour! No bruises … nothing.
Now I conceive there are dentist-fear-free people out there. Earlier I just never believed them.




Whale island

1 February 2006

whale islandAs long as we are living here, Frank and I are having the same strange sensation each time we see Whale Island off the coast. One time the island seems to be much bigger than other times. Sometimes it is located close to the coast, dark and glooming … and the next day it may be pale and tiny on the horizon!
Well, perhaps it got the right name; finally a whale is a mobile being.

The local newspaper said the island is a nature reserve and could be visited under supervision. That was our chance to discover the secret.
Do not spare the horses “was the motto of the captain and he chased the big boat with a sickening speed across the sea.
“At 12:30 you have to be aboard again!” The captain shouted, when the passengers stepped out.
It was a nice walk with a guide – certainly not interesting for everyone – therefore I will not dwell on this further. Except that there are two (endangered) kiwi birds were released after they first were blessed! whale islandThis blessing was a mumble of minutes by a Maori priest who was probably specially chosen for this kind of jobs, although he didn’t show any priest-like outward appearances. He wore sunglasses and had a towel around his neck and then just went swimming. Maybe that morning, when he selected the apparel for that day, he thought those birds didn’t care what he was wearing. A priest also has to be practical, isn’t it?

By noon we were done, but the boat didn’t show up to pick us up …
It was hot as hell and so there were 40 people in hiking clothes on a beach in the relentless sun, clumped together under some trees that brought a few meters of shade. A few amused themselves by swimming (the sensible ones that brought a swimsuit with them!), but the majority was waiting. Silently waiting.
And for hours waiting …
whale islandIn a group of people of this size there is always someone who gets upset by the situation and is starting some drama. The one who will beat the shit out of the responsible person for this shameful act. Especially when there is paid for! I already tried to guess which of these individuals would emerge as leader of the angry crowd.

But …
When the ship arrived, after waiting for 3 and a half hours (!) in serene resignation, the captain cheerfully asked the crowd if the hike have been a good one. Everyone shouted that it was fantastic and they enjoyed, followed by a list of all the positive things that day. Nobody demanded clarification for the terrible wait and the captain didn’t explain anything!
At the disembarking, he was warmly thanked, like New Zealanders always do after a ride in any form (even when getting off the bus).
It surprised me a little first; I wondered if we might have ended up accidentally on such a happy sect where everyone loves each other. Then I saw a pattern in this behavior. The average New Zealander has a tireless courtesy and never goes out of malicious intent or negligence. That’s cast in their upbringing; even if you encounter kissing teenagers in the woods, this operation will be interrupted for at least a friendly greeting.




Red dot

26 January 2006

The obligatory tourist attractions includes a visit to Hells gate. You look straight into the open wounds of mother earth. The beautiful almost fluorescing yellow sulphur what’s bubbling out the natural pools, stinks like rotten eggs.

White Island is located 50 km off our coast, consisting of a volcano that occasionally let out a smoky burb.
The guide told us that on a cloudy day, he suddenly heard a strange rumbling sound. For a moment he thought anxiously & pleased that “his” volcano came into action. But soon he recognized the intro of Billy Joel’s hit … it was just the sound of a helicopter. However a fraction before seeing the helicopter, he saw a car from the sky come down. Hanging on a wire that was neatly put down on the island. It turned out that Mitsubishi was going to record a TV commercial because White Island exactly looked like a moonscape.
By the way; That car was a Pajero!

After two weeks, my father couldn’t bear with us any longer 😉 and he has started a private round trip with our Pajero. I have given him a fresh new diary (without a lock!) and instructed him to try to penetrate Fisher’s fortress.
Well, well … last Monday morning the gallery was OPEN. And what was even more surprising; there was a red dot on one of my paintings!!! Yay, one is sold!



Arrows findable in the enlarged pictures.



Swimming with dolphins

15 January 2006

So last week we headed to Auckland and Fisher-wise I was prepared to count on nothing.
And that was a good thing … because Fisher’s gallery was closed. Contrary to what was announced on the front door.
At this moment I have received an excuse mail from the secretary for that 3rd Christmas Day blunder and an apology from the gallery owner for this latest blunder. They just had decided to close on Sundays in the month of January, because it was too quiet. Oh really? That must be an intense exploration … they are existing 130 years already.
Windfall is that the exhibition will take 2 months, instead of their usual 2 weeks.

Then Fisher’s was on Teletext and in the newspaper! Although only the Sunday paper, but still … a paper. They wrote that his gallery was removed from the ‘Guild of restorers’ because one of the restorers had messed up a valuable painting.
Now I’m hoping all Fisher’s colleagues will take a look on his website and then … they discover that fresh art of that newly launched Dutch lady painter. And then try to steal me away from Fisher … and then treat me like a queen. Yes, that is what I had in mind …

Swimming with dolphinsOn Sunday morning we picked up my father from the airport. I still recognized him!!! After 4 months, whahaha.
To prevent to exhaust him too soon after arriving, we booked a hotel room in Auckland. We finally have had a dinner at the Skytower restaurant what is rotating 360 degrees in 1 hour. You also can stand on a floor of glass tiles on 200 meters high. Scary huh ?!

Now have done the tourist highlights like the vaunted ‘swimming with dolphins’. We were told they have healing gifts which make blind people see and the crippled walk and the balds get their hair back.
Swimming with dolphinsThe sailboat entered a school of dolphins and all the passengers were told to hang behind the boat dressed in their borrowed wetsuit and a snorkel. I never had used a snorkel before, so unfortunately I was more concentrated on the non-choking part than I got ‘healed’.
Well, seen from above, they were also nice. The dolphins were doing their very best for us.




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.