Wednesday, December 31, 2008

All The Lonely People

So I know there are at least two people who are reading this countdown. And both of them have musical tastes I respect. This list will let them both down. They will both want a list full of quirky indie picks - but I'll tell you right now this list has no TV on the Radio, no Arcade Fire, no Fleet Foxes, no Sigur Ros. In fact, this list will only a small handful of CDs in the years since I lived with those two guys back in '97. Why? Its not that I dont like those bands (although for the most part, I dont), it is that I simply dont listen to as much music as I used to. I bought one CD this year (Death Cab For Cutie) - back in the day, I was buying 20 a year, and listening to a lot more. So the list is dominated by 1988 - 1997, the years between high school and getting a job, with some old classics that still hold up thrown in.

And Trevor, deep in your heart, I know you would rather hear Back in Black than Joanna Newsom. It's just gotta be true.

With that, I'll make a boring choice at #46 - Revolver: The Beatles. It's my favorite Beatles album - does anyone else out there think Sgt. Pepper is overrated?.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

She Kept Her Motor Clean

#47 Back in Black: AC/DC. I always knew this album rocked. It certainly lit up every Sweet 16 and Bar Mitzvah I went to back in the day. But it wasnt until later in life that I realized this was the first album after their former lead singer overdosed. Oh, I get it! Back in Black! They're mourning, but they still kick butt. The guy dies, they go out and find someone who sounds just like him (but even more so), and bust out one of the greatest rock CDs ever. Nice job.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The True Meaning

#48 A Charlie Brown Christmas: Vince Guaraldi. I know, you hear it non-stop in the malls, and it drives you nuts. But nonetheless, it is beautiful music from a talented but unknown jazz musician who hit the big time when Charles Shulz decided to have him make the soundtrack to the best Christmas show of all time. Check out Vince's other stuff, espicially his trio.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Turnpikes and Jughandles

#49 - Garden State Soundtrack. How cool is Zack Braff? Almost makes me proud to live in New Jersey. Anyway, this movie was a little gem, and had a great soundtrack. I like when the soundtrack is actually a relevant part of the movie, and this movie turned me onto the Shins when Natalie Portman described it as music that will change your life. Well, not exactly, but this is an album with a mood, and I like that. Plus there is a song by the guy who used to sing for Men At Work (you know - Who Can It Be Now and Down Under). How cool is that?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why Can't I Get Just One

#50: Violent Femmes/Violent Femmes. This CD gave a voice to my angst. It was one of the first things I heard when I got to college that made me think - hey, there is more to life than classic rock! Not a great overall CD, but some absolutely classic tunes: Blister in the Sun, Add it Up, Gimme the Car, Kiss Off, and the song with the best xylophone solo of all time: Gone Daddy Gone.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's all about me

Is there anything more self indulgent than a blog? Hey, look at me! What I say is important! Interestingly, some of the least self indulgent folks have the most interesting blogs. My ex-housemates, two very humble guys, both have blogs that spout braggadocio but underneath it all show a sweet tenderness and respect for humanity. Go figure.

So yes, there is something more self-indugent than a blog, and that is a Best-Of List. Hey, here is my opinion! And you should care! I'll tell you what is worthwhile, not that other stuff! And so, in the spirit of blogs and self-indulgence, I will blog about my Top 50 albums of all time. And, to make it even more maudlin, I will start with number 50 and only release one album every few days, just to generate suspense.

So stay tuned.....I'm sure you cannot wait!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sweet Success

Below, I will copy an email C sent out to family with the details of our honey harvest. Click on the picture below for a photo album that captures all of the excitement - and none of the stings! Enjoy:

Beekeeping Sweet Success Story #1

We harvested the first honey today! We took about 11 frames which contain about 5 pounds per frame of honey, so we’re probably at plus or minus 50-55 pounds. Not exactly sure what to do with it now…I used all of my pint sized canning jars making multiple batches of green tomato chutney!! Well, I suppose lack of canning supplies is just the curse of the suburban farmer. Vienna wants to set up a “honey stand” since her lemonade stand a few weeks ago pulled in over $20!!

The kids enjoyed helping out and tasting the freshest honey ever! Boy, were we all sticky!! Our friend Sandra and her son Croft stopped by to watch and help. Sandra was an excellent documentarian! Chris is working on (or perhaps you’ve already received) an online photo album of the day. The only picture missing is the one documenting the size of my right hand! I got stung (I believe that makes a career total of 7) on the hand between the thumb and pointer finger. I am now swollen from knuckles to elbow!!! The honey will only taste that much sweeter to me!

The process:

First step is to pull the honey supers (boxes) from the hives and encourage the bees to move elsewhere. We used the back end of a shop vac for this and found it to be a perfect kick in the old stinger. They just blow away. Then the bee-free frames are put into a plastic tub with a lid. Once all the frames are in the tub, we haul that to a bee-free location which we deemed to be the sunporch. We realized after the fact that this was a bit nasty toward the bees since, the hives being just outside the sunporch, they could see exactly what we were doing with all their fine craftsbeeship. Poor gals! The next step is to scrape the wax cappings off of the honeycomb and then place the whole frame into a big centrifugal spinner called the honey extractor. The extractor holds four frames at a time, so for a small harvest like ours it went pretty quickly. Next year the Vienna and Kezia will have to earn their honey! Once the honey is spun, it just settles down through a sieve and into a collection tank which has a big valve on it to pour it easily into jars. The wax cappings mixed with dribbles of honey are then put into a strainer to remove the excess honey for use. The wax can then be melted and used for candles, etc. These “dribbles” of honey ended up in our case to be about 3 pounds! For now the bulk of our harvest is still in the collection tank and we’ll figure out our bottling strategy later on.

After all was said and done, we had some first hand experience of how fast the honeybee can communicate. Chris brought the plastic tub that had stored the frames before the spin cycle outside to hose down. It had a relatively small amount of honey in it, so he figured he’d just wash it away. He wasn’t out the door more than 45 seconds before we had about 20 bees around…another minute and it was hundreds! It was pretty cool. So we decided to let the bees clean it up for us and at least re-coup some of their losses. After about an hour in the yard, most of the honey from the plastic tub was cleaned up and stored for the winter back in the hive.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

One More Night

It is hard to believe that our NZ adventures come to an end tomorrow - we leave on Wednesday at 5PM (local time), and arrive back in NJ at around midnight Wednesday night. It has been an amazing experience with memories to last a lifetime. The girls are definitely ready, and we are too (I think). It will be hard to leave our little home in Devonport, but we will be happy to get back and see friends and family and start school!

Here is a final album that covers the last part of our big travels around NZ, on the South Island from Nelson to Christchurch:

New Zealand Travels 3

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Winding down...

We are now in the homestretch of our trip. Teaching is now over, and I can relax. We've enjoyed a weekend exploring some more sights of Auckland (more volcanoes! can't get enough of them). We return home on Wednesday, and are starting to clean up the house and gather up all of our crap. Spring is starting to, well, spring up here in Northern NZ...trees are flowering, birds are singing, so it will be weird to head back home where they are getting battered by tropical storm remnants, and starting (I guess) to have chillier nights and the thoughts of autumn. Maybe.

7 weeks into our trip, we are really getting the hang of this kiwi accent. The most noticeable aspect of it, and I think the thing that distinguishes it from British, or Aussie, or S. African (which of course all sound the same to the American ear) is the short "e", which they change to a short "i". We first noticed it when we met our cab driver from the airport, whose name was Terry, but they way he said it sounded like "Teary". We took the ferry, which they say like "firry", head sounds like "hid", dead sounds like "did", etc. I've apparently been giving things that sound like "lic-tures".

The challenging thing to me is to determine when to start talking like a local. Should say elevator, when I know they say lift? It seems obvious that I should. But should I start to say "firry"? I think we have been sounding more kiwi, and probably sounding very silly. I remember talking to a neighbor about their kids' "football" games, and she said, " you mean soccer, right?". I didnt know if she was just pandering to me or if they really said 'soccer' here. (they do.). I'm starting to say ba-NAH-nah or to-MAH-to as they do here - but I probably just sound ridiculous. Still can't say "zed" instead of "zee" though -- that is too weird. I did enjoy hearing a song by Zed Zed Top on the radio however!!!

Other things they say that I hope not to bring home with me: bell pepper = capsicum; bathing suit = togs; pick-up truck = ute; kitchen counter = bench. The weirdest one for me has been course = paper, as in "I am taking three papers at university this term", or "what will I need to do to pass this paper?" Another weird one is "pie" - I would never turn down an offer for pie at home, since it is one of my favorite things -- but pies here are savory, not sweet, and usually contain ground beef/lamb - like our "pot pie" - and are the kind of cuisine you find wrapped in plastic sitting in a warming machine at a convenience store, which here is called the "dairy", which sounds like "deary". Sigh.

Monday, September 1, 2008

More Deep Thoughts

Back at work - getting ready to teach is taking a loooong time. Teaching starts again Wed so I might disappear then...I'll try and get some more photos up first.

In the meanwhile, some more random NZ observations:

  • Barefeet. We see an awful lot of folks in barefeet - students in school, people walking the streets, in stores, restaurants, everywhere. It is kind of cool that the streets are clean enough to do this - even so, there must be some serious callouses.
  • Condiments. Kiwis seem to be very stingy when it comes to condiments. Ketchup (or to-MAH-to sauce), mustard, or anything else, is not to be found in huge vats to be pumped out to your hearts content. Even when you order French Fries, (chips), you might get charged an extra 50c for ketchup. We went to McDonalds (I know, I know) and asked for extra ketchup - they gave us one little packet. When you get fish and chips you have to pay extra for tartar. They do have this lovely stuff called sweet chili sauce, that is definitely worth the extra 50c...
  • Heat. Most houses and buildings do not have central heat...they all have little portable electric heaters in every room. It makes for cold buildings in the winter (and big electric bills for people renting houses!!!). All hotels have heated towel racks, which is a nice touch, but mostly pointless.
  • "No worries". This is my favorite NZ saying (although it might be Australian) - said as we might say "You're welcome".
  • Friendliness. Everyone and their brother tells you about how nice Kiwis are. It is really true. People go out of their way to be nice and help you out. It is contagious - I think I've become nicer. We did have one experience with a rude waitress, but by the end of our meal, she had magically disappeared from the restaurant. Maybe she was deported for not-nice-ness.
  • Oysters. They have the biggest oysters here. I love raw oysters, but this monstrosity was just too much (and it is not like you can take a little nibble of a raw oyster, you've got to just eat the whole thing). It almost made me toss my cookies. And would it have killed them to serve a little cocktail sauce with it?? (see above).
  • "Wee". We like the use of the word 'wee'. As in, "it's a wee bit cold today", or "Would you like a wee more wine?". Kezia has been referred to more than once as our "wee one". I saw a truck advertising a fix-it guy called the "Wee Job Man". And yes, 'wee' is also used in the traditional way...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bikin' and a little politics

A break from photos today - here is something I found from back home - check out this article, and make sure to scroll down to the photo at the bottom!

It's been interesting to see the Obama speech and the coverage it gets here - it has been very pro-bama - one of the editorials in the NZ Herald said "The US has found its soul again".

Interestingly, Condi Rice visited here last month and the papers heralded the visit of the "most powerful woman in the world". I dont think most Americans think of her that way.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Today's photo journey is through the middle of the North Island:

- Waitomo is a land of glowworm caves. Glowworms are not worms at all, but insect larvae that live inside caves and glow in order to attract food. they create this otherworldly luminescence inside a cave that is extremely cool. Cant get good photos of it though.

- At Waitomo we stayed in a novelty hotel that was a "Hobbit House" - I know, it sounds cheesy, but it was pretty well done, and the girls loved (even though none of them know what a Hobbit is). The pics capture it well.

- Then we went to Lake Taupo and Rotorua, the geothermal wonders of NZ. Burping mud and steaming ground everywhere - it was stinky, but fascinating.

- finally, you can check out a video of us Zorbing (I'm getting good at this YouTube stuff)- Zorb is the latest of NZ's weird and wild adventure culture of jumping off bridges, airplanes, and the like. This is much less scary, but quite fun - they roll you in a big plastic ball like a hamster down a hill. The ball is filled with water so you slosh and slide around as you roll down the hill. Bizarre, but a blast.

Photos if you click below:

New Zealand Travels 2

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Travelling with Kids

Travelling with kids makes for a much different trip (obviously) than we would have had if we were alone. It means 1) shorter car rides - the kids start to poop out at 2-2.5 hours in the car, and they got very road-weary as the trip went on - so you can only get so far in a day. 2) less adventure - hikes of more than an hour or two are just too difficult. 3) more downtime - the kids don't care (that much) about travelling far to see scenery, and they love staying in the hotel, jumping on beds, going to the pool, etc. 4) visiting more kid-friendly sites - which tend to be more touristy rather than adventure-y, like kiwi houses and the like. 5) you make sure to find a playground in every destination.

It can be hard...sometimes you want to browse a nice bookstore or want to go on a little wandering hike, but if the kids are antsy, it just isnt possible. We didnt see as much as we wanted or do quite as much, but we saw and did a heck of a lot. And seeing a new country through our kids eyes was quite priceless.

Also, the playgrounds here are just awesome. We found some really awesome playgrounds - often with something called a flying fox, which is like a long zip line that allows you to fly across the park. I'll try and post a YouTube video so you know what I'm talking about. (update: here it is)

I've posted the first of a series of photo albums on our trips around NZ. I'll go in chronological order - this one is our first trip to the Northland a few weeks ago - click on the photo below to go to the album on Picasa:

New Zealand Travels 1

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back on the grid

hi all! We made it back to Auckland/Devonport after three weeks on the road. Whew! We didnt make it everywhere we wanted but who cares...around every corner was a new adventure. For those that know NZ or have a map handy, our route was:

Auckland-Bay Of Islands - Cape Reinga - Whangerei - Auckland - Waitomo - Taurangi - Taupo - Rotorua - Wellington - Picton - Nelson - Abel Tasman - Kaikoura - Christchurch

the kids are very happy to be back to our 'home' in Devonport.

lots and lots of stories to tell. Now that I am back in my office at Massey U, I'll try to dish out stories on a regular basis - plus photos of course!

I'll also try to get to questions that have been asked in the comments...Cindy asked what it is like to watch Olympics in another country. It was quite interesting, none of those syrupy personal stories like NBC likes to show...but of course the focus was on NZ atheletes, and we saw all of the rowing and kayaking you could imagine. NZ won 9 medals, and all of the winners are rock stars now. They finished in 26th place among countries, but, as they like to remind viewers, they were 9th in medals won per capita! Although they are generally pissed off that Australia won more medals, even per capita.

Friday, August 22, 2008


We are currently camped out in Kaikoura, on the East Coast, an absolutely beautiful spot on a little peninsula jutting out into the Pacific. We woke at 6:45 this morning to see a glorious sunrise over the Pacific...the pictures wont capture it but I'll post them when we return to Auckland next week.

V has a fever now, so we are taking it easy in our hotel which none of us are too upset about because it is so beautiful a spot.

Love you all.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Quick Update

Hi all! Just a quick update from an internet cafe in Nelson, NZ. We spent the last week tooling around the south part of the North Island...seeing freaky glowworm caves in Waitomo, beautiful Lake Taupo, and two days in the stinky, mud-bubbling, earth-steaming geothermal area of Rotorua. The highlight was our Zorbing experience, a truly NZ thing where they put you in a big plastic ball and you roll downhill in it like a hamster (check it out - Google "Zorb"). Pix to come when we get back to civilization....

Yesterday we took the ferry to the South Island - a three hour tour on the ferry which was more like a little cruise ship, with a kids playground, and several restaurants. None of this was needed because the scenery was phenominal! Now we are in the "sunniest spot in NZ", Nelson, which is in some kind of rainshadow and the sun always shines - a welcome event for us as we have chosen to visit NZ in a winter with record-setting rain!

Itinerary: stay in Nelson a few days to enjoy the sun, then off to see dolphins on the East Coast, and fly back to Auckland next week. Won't make it all the way to Queenstown, which is where the most dramatic Lord-of-The_Rings type scenery is....the drives are too long and the winter weather is too unpredictable . But, as they say here, no worries. We'll just have to come back in the summer!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Off to the Southland

Claudia made it safe and sound and after a day of laundry and rest, we are off on our biggest adventure, down to explore the heart of NZ - glowworm caves, more volcanoes, maybe some skiing, snow capped mountains, maybe some penguins, etc etc. not sure if I will be able to blog - we'll be away for two weeks. Hope all of you back in the homeland are doing well! We love your comments and emails...keep em coming!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lose a Camera, Save a Daughter

We just got back from our trip to the Northland, and it was amazing. We toured the Bay of Islands, travelled to Cape Reinga and basically zigzagged the top portion of NZ. The weather finally improved too, and we had some sunny, if chilly days.

Cape Reinga is the northermost point on NZ, and juts out on a peninsula where the Pacific meets the Tasman Sea. Words cant describe the beauty, so photos will follow in the coming days.

This photo was taken on an idyllic stretch called 90 Mile Beach, which is not quite 90 miles, but close. It is just a vast expanse of beautiful beach, and the bus drives along it. You drive for miles and miles and dont see another human. It's unbelievable.

V loved it, and she was mesmerized by the gentle surf slowly sinking her feet in the sand. Moments after this photo was taken, a slightly bigger wave came up over her knees, knocking her over. I rushed in to save her, but in grabbing her out of the surf, our camera got soaked, and is no longer with us. Needless to say it was worth it! Unfortunately, V was quite distraught over the whole thing which was quite sad because she was having the time of her life (She did get quite wet and sandy).

Anyway, there was lots more on our little trip - cave explorations, sand dune tobogganning, kiwi bird sightings - but I must go to sleep now.
C's Aunt Claudia arrives tomorrow morning and soon we will head out on more adventures.....cheerio...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

off the grid

Today we head out of Auckland - north - to the Bay of Islands, and to the 90 Mile Beach, which leads to the Northernmost point in NZ. Im not bringing the computer, so we'll check back in in a few days.

Friday, August 1, 2008


I was perhaps too harsh on NJ towns in my last post. After all, NJ is host to my favorite place name of all time.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Some reflections about NZ...

...on a rainy Auckland day.

- sensible money. NZers have adopted one and two dollar coins - like the Canadians. I like this. But even better than that, there doesnt seem to be tax, and all things are priced in multiples of 20 or 50 cents. So nobody uses pennies (I dont know if they even exist) and 10c coins are somewhat rare to get. So no pockets full of confusing unfamiliar coins. Excellent.

- we've seen a few forts, and they all seem to have cannons with signs next to them that say "never fired in anger". They are quite proud of this, which is sweet.

- tipping. It's not expected, but always appreciated. What the heck does that mean? I need a rule to follow.

- Milo. It's an Ovaltine-type thing, and you see it everywhere. It's not bad.

- Food. I had heard NZ food called 'just like British food, but with a better view'. (that's not really a compliment). However, we've had some quite good meals here (the accompanying picture notwithstanding). nothing fancy, but everything is served with very fresh veggies or fruit, which is locally abundant, even in winter. Auckland has great cafes all over with excellent espresso and hearty sandwiches.

- Mallomars. Well, not really, but chocolate covered marshmallow (sometimes pink marshmallow) in the shape of fish seem to be somewhat of a national treasure. Curious.

- Cleanliness. The streets are impeccably clean here - clean enough to eat a choco-marshmello-fish off of.

- Driving. I adjusted to left-side driving quicker than expected...which was quite easy. The NZers are as polite in their driving as they are in real life. I've jumped a few curbs, but that't it.

- Place names. The Maori-influenced town names are quite cool. Whangarei, Otahuhu, Takapuna, Hapuku, and Rotorua all sound a lot better to my ears than say, Piscataway, Weehawken, or Mahwah.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

YAV: Yet Another Volcano

We've been here two weeks now and seen a lot, even though we haven't really left Auckland. Everyone tells us that Auckland is lame compared to the rest of NZ, and that might be true, but we've seen some great stuff. Had a great day on Monday exploring another volcano (this was a big one) and climbing the Sky Tower downtown. Click on the photo below to go to our album on Picasa Web.


Sunday, July 27, 2008


My first block of teaching is done, after 3 straight days of 9-5 lectures and labs. That was exhausting. Yesterday was the last day, and it coincided with the "storm of the decade" here in Auckland, with driving rain and gale force winds. I cut yesterday's class short so people could get home early - no one complained!

When I got home, the power was out, and stayed out for a few hours...thankfully we were able to light the gas stove with a match and hover in the kitchen as C made a big vat of soup. Mercifully the elec came back on before bedtime as it would have been a cold night!

Nonetheless, the weather is pretty dodgy here today so its a good day to head out to a cafe for a flat white (NZ version of a latte) and a mince pie.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

the grind

started teaching case you havent heard about this course, I teach for the next three days, from 9 to 5 each day. Thats a long time to talk statistics. must...sleep......

on the bright side today was our first day without rain...and the girls found a local chocolatier. so life is good.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rainbow City

A few posts ago, I talked about the weather, and how it alternates pouring rain and bright sunshine. It does this all day, every day (as far as our experience goes). You might realize that this creates perfect rainbow conditions, and we see a few of them every day. But these rainbows, that the girls snapped today, really take the cake. Enjoy.

p.s. K is all better now, thanks. She got up to 39.7 degrees, which is apparently quite hot (beats me).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

down time

K's sick with a fever (I guess that is what happens when you chase winter around the globe) and I've been busy prepping for class, so no big adventures today (and probably tomorrow). Sigh. Met one of my students today. Seems like a nice chap.

By the way, we found our manuka honey (it was not too hard, the stuff is everywhere - manuka glazed ham in the deli, manuka candy, etc). So that part of the quest is over -- I kind of was hoping it would be more of a hunt for the stuff. No regrets though...its delicious!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Finally some photos

I posted some photos on Picasa web click on the photo below to get some. They are low res but should give you a flavor of the trip so far.

The weather here is very interesting. The esteemed NZ band Crowded House once had a song called "Four Seasons in One Day", which I now understand. Each day starts out with lots of rain and wind and cold, but at some point in the morning the sun comes out, bright and hot, teasing you into thinking it will be a beautiful day. By the time you get outside, the clouds are coming again, and at some point there is a downpour, but only for 15 minutes, then the sun comes out. It's very confusing! Nonetheless, no complaints, as I've been running every day, and I didnt think I'd be able to do that in winter!

Today we climbed another volcano near our house (North Head) . It was great, and the girls loved it. Tomorrow I'll head to the university and Thursday I start teaching. Later.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

a busy day

Thursday in Auckland...Kids woke up around 4:30, which isnt bad. Another day or so and we'll be through the time change just fine.

I went for a run this morning down by the beach in Devonport. The morning felt very very much like Seattle. It seems to always be wet, but never really raining. In fact, Devonport feels very similar to Seattle neighborhoods we know - Wallingford, Green Lake, etc.

We climbed the volcano around the corner from our house (!) this morning and the kids enjoyed it, despite the wet, cold foggy day (see pic). Explored Devonport and got wet and sandy at a beach with a great view of Auckland (when the fog lifted). We took a ferry into Auckland. Walked around lots. Saw some of the coolest trees ever in Albert Park and had sushi. The kids were wiped but it was a very good day. Pix below if I can upload over my slow connection...whoops, too slow.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thoughts from the supermarket

whats the first thing to do when getting to a foreign country? The supermarket of course. It's always a blast to see all the different stuff. We took a leisurely Day 1 in NZ to check out the neighborhood (great coffee shop within spitting distance), and I went to check out the market. Notes:

- surprised at how the fruits and veggies (or veges as they say here) were not really different at all from back home. disappointing.
- loved the yogurt selection. found some with the infamous manuka honey. yum!
- biggest problem: bumping into people. I didnt realize that when people drive on the left side of the road, they also walk on the left side of the aisle. I didnt realize in it, but when I turn right around a corner in the market, I take a tight turn, while when I take a left, I take it wide - just like when driving. So, 3 times I'd take a tight right and bump into some kiwi taking a tight left. Ouch!

I also enjoyed a phone conversation today when the other party signed off "Righty-o!". I like this place. Tune in tomorrow for cute pix of kids....

We made it!

Woke up early this (Monday) morning, threw the kids in Dave's car, made it to the airport in plenty of time, off to L.A., meet up with Aunt C, who drove us to a picnic lunch and playground, visit the tar pits, fish tacos at the Farmers Market, back to LAX, board our plane, we all crash (sleep, that is) across the Pacific, get to NZ, minor snafu with our documents (causing a little sweat), find our shuttle and finally this (Wednesday) morning, make it to our lovely little house. Now its time to explore. More later...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Packed and ready to go

The last day before a trip like this is supposed to be frantic -- unbelievably we seem to have our ducks in a row. There is always something you remember at the last minute, but hopefully we wont be up until 2AM tonight (we leave for the airport at 6:30). Next time we check in will be from the other side of the world!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Our first stop in NZ?

CLV was doing some research on our new home in Devonport and found this beauty, apparently walking distance from our home. It claims to be one of the oldest taverns in NZ, and points out that they have on tap some kind of "smoky, vanilla" wheat beer. Now, I'm getting excited!

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Welcome to my first blog! We are hoping to use this blog as a documentation of our trip to New Zealand, which starts very soon on July 14. We are frantically trying to get prepared for our two month stay. We very much want to keep friends and family updated on our adventures, and hope that this blog will help you stay in touch and enjoy our adventure with us! Feel free to leave notes or drop a line whenever you can.

The title of the blog is a reference to the manuka plant, from which comes an allegedy very delicious honey (and we are very into our honey these days). Hopefully we can bring some home!
Here are some pictures of the home we will be staying in, in Auckland. We are actually staying in Devonport, which is across the bay from Auckland, and has some great views of the Auckland skyline.