Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Put your money where your mouth is.

Tonight Nelson competes in the final round of The University of Waikato's Three Minute Thesis Competition. He is one of eight finalists out of a field of 60. The prize? $5,000 towards research-related expenses. (A wedding is research related, right?) I would say "break a leg", but he already has a possible broken rib after a rough surf session two days ago, so I'll just say "Wish him luck!".

Sunday, October 25, 2009

350 dancers

Hooray for 350 actions all over the world! Hooray for 350 people getting together and choreographing a dance! Hooray for that being 10% of our town's total population! Hooray for living in a town with all of these zany fantastic people!

Want to know what I'm talking about? Check it out!
Raglan (Whaingaroa)'s 350 Action organizaed by the Whaingaroa youth movement.

By the way: Two of the main dancers- Connor, the boy in the blue shirt, and Molly, the dark-haired girl in the white shirt- are part of our Solscape family. Hooray for them!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Today is the International day of Action for Climate Change sponsored by (Well at least it is here already, those of you in other time zones still have a few hours left to prepare your action). Actions will be going on all over the world to let politicians and big business know that we are serious in our demands for action regarding climate change. I hope that everyone has a fantastic 350 day. We certainly did here in Raglan. If you don't have plans yet, don't worry there is still time. And, likely there is an action going on right in your neighborhood. Go to the website to check it out.

Here's how we spent our day:
Of course we rode down.... And got dressed up for the occasion.

Hooray for the market... No pesto though, boo.Hmmm... lots of people around. Must be the start of summer. But it kind of looks like they're all waiting for something. What's going to happen? ... Stay tuned.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Famous people still have to do the dishes

Since we have consistent internet, no tv, and no radio, we listen to a lot of internet radio. New Hampshire public radio, the BBC, and the KunstlerCast are some of our favorites. Recently we came across a new one called AgroInnovations.

And guess who they invited to be their guest this week? That's right, your favorite kiwi farmer/teacher/student (and mine). You can listen to Nelson's world wide web debut here. He's trying no to let it go to his head.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Relieved, I Suppose.

So I open up the internet browser at work and Google home page pops up with the latest headlines. While I normally skim them and move on to complete my always reception-related duties quickly, yesterday two headlines caught my eye (delaying my Lexulous moves for at least a half hour).

Bottom left: A woman let go of her baby carriage on a train platform allowing the baby to fall over the edge just as a train pulled into the station. Don't worry the baby is fine, but I watched the video about a dozen times and still don't understand how the kid survived. Unbreakable?

And center right. I'll zoom in so you can read this one yourself. Top headline from the NZ Herald.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Elves vs. Dwarves?

Didn't the elves and the dwarves team up when it really counted? When the ring was going to fall into the hands of the wrong crowd, didn't they band together to keep it safe? I wish I knew more about the Lord of the Rings to keep this parable going. On second thought, no I don't. I'll have to switch to terms more appropriate for middle earth(?).

You see, here in the real shire there has been a bit of a skirmish brewing between our two local populations. What's on the line? Is it nuclear testing? Nope, we all agree on that one. Is it the importance of fish and chips to a regular diet? Nope, we agree on that one too. What issue could be so important that it has fractured parliament and furthered the rift between the two cultures of this peaceful nation?

The Rugby World Cup, of course.

You see, apparently World Cup rugby is so important that it is every kiwi's right to watch it. That is why the National (conservative government) just had to step in when the tv station that won the right to air it could only provide free coverage to 90% of the population.

Wait, the government stepped in by funding other two other companies' bids with tax-payer money?

Wait, they told the other companies how much the first company had bid so that they could make sure to win?

Wait, the first company was Maori-TV and the others were pakeha (white) networks?

Ummmm... so all this amounts to illegal activity by the government to spend tax-payer money to ensure that a Maori owned tv station does not win rights to the biggest sporting event in the nation. Quick John Key... back track, back track.

Could you imagine if the US government gave one of our major networks millions of dollars in public funds to block a black network or women's network from gaining coverage to a major event? It's crazy. It would never happen.

It's pretty overt racial discrimination. Luckily, Merlin realized this and took things into his own hands before riots broke out in the streets over the quiddich match (wrong fantasy reference, I know). Let all elves, dwarves, orcs, and hobbits enjoy and be merry.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Someone told me that there is no civil court system in New Zealand. I don't know if that's true or not, but it certainly seems like the thought of liability doesn't even cross people's minds here. For example, can you think of a U.S. zoo where you can do this? While this guy just chills about 5 feet away?

If I look suspicious its because I was being "a giant baby". Sorry, I guess I was just pampered by being raised in a country that puts guardrails on roads on the edges of cliffs, warns people when they might be in danger of tsunamis, and actually puts fences around the animals in zoos.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

TV Sitting

House-sitting, always provides us with a welcome opportunity to expand our minds by choosing from one of the three quality programs we get via antenna (yes, you can still watch tv by antenna here, and no, we don't only get three channels, we actually get 12, but they all choose to show the same three shows... go figure). This week we have enjoyed Outlaw Bikers, apparently a Canadian production (Canadian bike gangs?), and The Hottest Place on Earth, a programme brought to you by the BBC. The extra "m" and "e" are for "mighty entertaining". Nelson has actually adjusted his life to make sure we are home to watch the next episode of this one.

As good as those shows were, it was a commercial that actually had us staring slack-jawed at the television. I wish I could embed the commercial here, but alas kiwi dumb commercials don't make it to You Tube as fast as American ones. Luckily you can watch the whole thing via their website.

I don't want to ruin it for you, but Vitality 4 Life sells vibrating "excercise" machines. You know the kind that shake you not-so-gently so you can shed pounds. Lee-Anne, a fitness expert, tries to convince us that we too can get fit, without even breaking a sweat.

I was kind of with her here.
And even here. I mean she is holding up her own weight at least.

Here's where it got a bit fishy.
But(t), seriously?

Oh yeah, new FTC standards require that I let you know if I am being compensated by this company for promoting their product. I wish. If I got one of these I could work out with a donut in one hand and meat pie in the other. Sweet as.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Happy day.

After 40 days of rain we headed for higher ground. We are in our "city house" for the next two weeks, perched at the top of a hill overlooking Raglan harbor. It's sunny and we're house sitting for again. Life is good.
Kitchen table.

Kitchen view.

Our bedroom with a view.

Fagan the cat.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lawn Elimination and Soil Emancipation

How to turn your average suburban yard into a food bonanza.

Step one: Evaluate said yard. As a designer you may want to work with existing structures, such as paths and laundy poles to minimize digging. This designer chose not to. Perhaps this is because he had a willing helper along to do the dirty work (or maybe it was because it worked better with the overall design).
From the top of the hill.

From the bottom of the hill.

Step two: Dig.

Step three: Build.
Step four: Repeat.

Step five: Repeat Again.

Step six: Hire cheap labor to finish the job.Johnny was paid in chocolate cake (which he helped make).

Step Seven: Plant
Step Eight: Fertilize.
Thanks Stanno.

Step Nine: Try to avoid the mud

Step ten: Ta-dah!
From the top of the hill.

From the bottom of the hill.

For this garden we chose to make curved raised beds. The raised beds terraced the yard which was sloped in two directions. The curved beds were just cool. The new main path will be laid in a curve going down the hill along the side of the beds. This allows more room for a small orchard, which will be planted along with wildflowers in the bare topsoil next to the house. Beds along the fence line were leveled and prepared for subtropical fruit trees and vines.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Post-engagement Wedding #1

First of all, I can't believe no one commented on the last post. I loved that tiny shower bathroom. Couldn't get over it. Really.

So went up to Aukland last weekend for two reasons. We were hired to do a garden installation (more on that later) and our friends Rory and Catherine were getting married. Being engaged has heightened my wedding senses during normal every day life, so I was sure that going to my first post-engagement wedding was going to be an idea overload.

And it was. Unfortunately I forgot my camera, so I don't have any pictures from the actual wedding. In summary, she looked gorgeous. He made a great speech. The church was fabulous. But our favorite overall element of the whole shebang was the reception venue which was in Fabel's Rug Gallery, an old warehouse converted into a rug gallery and events space. I didn't even know there were rug galleries. And even if I did, I didn't know you could hold events in them. It was all very cool. In fact much cooler and more sophisticated than anything the boy and I could pull off. They even had a jazz band.

The other thing that struck me was the size of their wedding. When we were sitting in church (between devout prayers) and at the cocktail hour (between devout champagne-ing) we were trying to figure out how many people were there. We were guessing about 150. Hmm... so this is how many people will be at our wedding we thought. Wrong.

A closer inspection at the table charts revealed that there were less than 70 people there. Our wedding will be more than twice as big... maybe even three times, and that's assuming we cut our guest list by half. That's a lot of people to feed. Start growing those veggies folks.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Age-old problem solved?

How to stop habitual shower-peers. Build a bathroom so tiny that the entire thing is a shower. Thank you to the City Groove Hostel for unravelling this enigma with your clever space-saving bathroom. Yes, it may be a bit inconvenient if there are two people needing to shower/ potty at the same time. And yes, the toilet paper did get wet. But hey, I've never been able to sit on the pot and shower simultaneously. Have you? Not only space saving, but time saving too.