Flotsam and Jetsam

Debris.

Detritus.

Flotsam and jetsam.

I think “flotsam and jetsam” describes it best.

Can you guess where this odd assortment was found?

Yep.  Behind the couch.

I imagine every family accumulates a similar collection (except ours is singularly lacking in currency):

A suckerfish from the Go Fish deck
The Ubiquitous Marble
Ammunition originating from two different types of weapons–nerf guns and a sling shot
Arielle’s plastic purple skirt
Wrapper from a mini Toblerone–probably consumed clandestinely
Assorted lego
Home-dried raisins, in a container (the good thing is that the environment of the house is dry enough to dehydrate fruit–they would have molded in the last place)
Pink and purple paper house
Two halves of the same acorn
A headless beetle….

And there’s only one reason to delve that deep into the underworld–we are moving again.  This time into a house we have purchased.

 

 

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Golden weather

Autumn in Canterbury can be savory.  Golden days where the mean burn of the sun is gone and the heat is welcome.  Calm winds; blue skies.  Grass has turned green again.

This afternoon we went back over to the school grounds, kicked a soccer ball, and hung out.

Last Sunday I drove up to Castle hill and biked the mountain bike trails. A golden, peaceful day.

Last weekend was also the Chinese lantern festival in Christchurch. The Avon river was swarming with dragons, gaudy floating lilies, and people slurping asian food from cardboard take-away containers.

One afternoon I dragged the kids up to the summit rd overlooking Lyttleton harbor for a picnic lunch. “Don’t take this settled weather for granted,” I tried to tell them. “Winter will come and the wind will be cold.” They don’t look past the moment and anticipate the chilly winter coming. Maybe that’s a good thing.

A new compatible family

I’ve talked to Sally for years at a craft group we both frequent. We saw them in Murchison at a kayak club weekend. Her husband Nathan joined us for the Old Ghost Rd bike ride in January. But this was the first weekend trip we tried out as families. It’s a test of sorts: 1. Are kids compatible? 2. Are husbands compatible? 3. Are our ideas of what constitutes a fun activity compatible?

Check. Check. Check.

I lack a real group photo for this trip, but here are the kids. Aaron is 8, Jessica is 4.

The husbands both like four-wheel driving. Our Rav4 isn’t a “real” four wheel drive–no snorkel, not super high off the ground, no super-low gear….but it did ok on this trip into Dillon hut along the Taipo river. Jeremiah was grinning.  I was tense.  Pretty typical, I guess.

The woods part of the drive was very pretty–Lush west coast bush is completely different than beach forests of the east coast.

The weather turned wet one afternoon, and the kids hunkered down to draw in the comfort of the hut.

Naomi and Jessica were like two peas in a pod–they giggle together over things that only four-year-olds find funny.

The plan was to drive upstream into the hut, let the wives paddle down, and collect us at the bottom on the way out. But we were also joining the whitewater canoe club for their Sunday morning paddle so the timing worked out better to do our paddle the afternoon before, and Nathan graciously drove down to pick us up. Sally is a much better paddler than I, and I hadn’t been on the water for the past two months, so I was nervous.

Not nerves without cause, as it turns out. I capsized pretty quickly at the start, but managed to stay upright for the rest of the river. It was definitely bigger than I had anticipated.

The guys got out on a hunt, first bringing the boys for a little while, then going out on their own after dinner. No meat was gathered, but they got a good walk in.

The Arnold river the next morning with the kayak club was much tamer (and warmer).

The kids plunked their lines in the water and got some imaginary nibbles. They’re addicts in the making.

Weight of inertia

There comes a time when a procrastination mounts to such a weight of inertia that a project is stuck.  Immovable.

That’s how the blog has been these past couple months.  The longer I wait, the move behind I fall, and the less savory the project appears….Maybe this is what mounting credit card debt feels like?

This is my attempt to become unstuck.

  • Over Christmas we did some cool trips.  We drove to the west coast via Arthur’s pass, stopping at cave stream on the way.  We spent some days at Okarito beach with the Pritchard family, then some more days at Lake Kanere in our new glamping tent.  We did a couple nights at Spencer Park, just here in Christchurch.  It was fun.
  • In January I got out on some awesome weekend trips–St James Walkway in Lewis pass, and the Old Ghost Rd bike ride on the west coast.
  • For Waitangi Day we went up to Golden Bay (at Pohara), camping, biking, fishing, playing.
      Low tech map of recent travels.  I tried a fancy electronic one, but the inertia…you get the picture.

And summer has been warm!  I’ve enjoyed the evening bike rides at the local hill.  Warm afternoons with the doors open.  Wearing shorts.  I don’t think there has been any summer we’ve spent in NZ so far where I’ve had more opportunity to wear shorts!

I do have fantastic pictures from these trips.  But whether or not they get shared, at least now I can move on.

Obnoxious Americans

“Ooh, my accent isn’t really THAT bad, is it?”

Very probably it is.

Bummer.

But it’s not just the accent; it’s the whole attitude.

Every Friday afternoon Milo has soccer practice, and there’s an American dad who brings his son.  I’ve never talked to him before, but this Friday the field was eerily quiet.  Us lonely parents conferred and the word on the field was that Oaklands school gala was on–that’s why only 25% of the normal contingent of kids was present.  Along with very few parents.

But despite the slim field, The American must talk.

(I know what that’s like.)

Thankfully, the American Dad glued himself to another dad, and the poor polite Kiwi was stuck mumbling “hum….ah….yes…um….uhuh…” for the whole hour.  I got the interesting position of being able to listen in while not being an essential part of the conversation.

It wasn’t so pretty.  Opinionated, yes.  Loud, yes.  Forceful; also yes.  The snippets were full of “you kiwis this” and “us, that.”  At one point I caught the American saying “You guys are catching up….you know….advertising, sport….”

Clearly he believes the American culture is superior.

I hereby resolve to cease and desist from comparing the American culture to the Kiwi culture.  No one wants to hear that.  Let alone the Kiwis!

In that spirit, I’ll change the topic. It’s snowing in December! Well, snowing cottonwood fluff anyway.  Can you see the tiny white things in the air?  It’s accumulating in drifts around the trunks, and shimmering in the air at soccer practice. December 1 is the official start to summer in NZ. The forecast is for 30 degrees C tomorrow.
Bring on the Warmth!

Dommett Lodge

“On Guard!” Don’t mess with the hooligans, they clearly mean business.
We spent last weekend with the Trick-Pendle family at Dommett “Lodge,” a traditional Kiwi bach on farm land in Kurow, in rolling hills south of Christchurch by about 4 hours. The kids spent the entire weekend happily killing each other with nerf guns. “I got you in the heart, you’re dead!” “Missed me, only got my leg!” Better them than me; I have absolutely no tolerance for being shot at, even in pretend.

The bach is on a private farm, which you access on a four-wheel drive road past a locked gate. I brought my new spiffy mountain bike and biked in from the gate. The day we arrived was thick fog and I couldn’t see anything, let alone how long it was to the top of the hill. But the next two days cleared up.

Emma and Ian have a real four-wheel-drive truck, but our Rav4 made it ok.

Because the weather was so foggy we spent the first afternoon shooting at a wine box target from the front porch of the bach. Emma and Ian are English, so they haven’t had a lot of experience with firearms; shooting a gun was a real novelty.

The bach was a rustic affair; pieced together from relics of other homes, the side of the house you see here is made of a garage door–open at this moment in time.  Thankfully the sand flies weren’t bad.  The wall in one bedroom even had an electrical outlet–not connected to anything (as the thirteen-year-old video game addict found out when he tried plugging in his tablet).  The true bach style does mean you don’t have to be too precious about the carpet. 

There’s a “kitchen” inside, but that’s just a sink (with hot running water!), so we did all our cooking on the grill on the porch.

We nearly burned the place down when the grease trap caught on fire!  Notice the fire extinguisher Ian is proudly holding–we used it. 

Ian’s goal for the weekend was to build a dam on the little creek that runs past the bach.

Dam builders in action! The small creek was perfect–low enough that you don’t have to worry at all about the kids, but wet enough for water play. Had the weather been warmer I think we would have spent more time in the creek.

As it was, we spent a bit of time in the hot tubs. It was misting that first night and I don’t like getting my face rained on, so I pulled out the umbrella, much to the amusement of the others. Makes perfect sense to me.

The valley with the gravelly river is where the bach is situated, and the second day I took a bike ride up a four-wheel-drive road to this saddle.

From there I walked up to the next knob and squinted at the view.

But I admired the tough little alpine flowers hunkered down among the tussocks even more.

Jeremiah did a little hunting on the station, but despite the lush grass he didn’t see any deer except one on the neighbor’s property, which we were strictly warned not to touch.

“Bring me back a hare,” were Emma’s parting words. So when Jeremiah saw the telltale ears poking up among the grass he took the opportunity. The kids were fascinated.

Ian was fascinated too. On the right are the hare legs wrapped in bacon (the ones that set the grease trap on fire!).

The kids liked the hare, but they liked the marshmallows even better. What makes a good marshmallow stick in a country without trees? Speargrass.

They’re just too cute!

When the kids get along well it makes for a good weekend for the grown ups too.

Cheers!

Kiddy weekend in Christchurch

I think back about the weekend now and realized that I’m photo-poor, but the memories are good.

It’s a long weekend, as Monday is the Labour Day public holiday, and Jeremiah had planned a hunting trip with the Brotherhood.

We started out Friday evening with Milo’s first soccer practice of the summer season. Naomi is such a good sport about being toted around to Milo’s activities; I guess as a second born she knows no different. We “hung out” on the playground. That’s all the more exciting when I remember that a couple months ago I couldn’t hang at all.

Saturday we met friends at Hagley Park. The photo in this gigantic beech tree was taken just seconds before a park employee told us off for tree climbing. “There’s actually a law saying you can’t climb the trees in the park,” he informed us, though not unkindly. That’s ok. I’m just thrilled that I CAN climb trees again.

A couple weeks ago we met some friends who had painted some rocks and were hiding them around the park for other people to find. Apparently there’s a Christchurch Rocks facebook page, and you can photograph the rocks you find and put them up. Anyway, Milo and Naomi have been industriously painting a small cohort of rocks and we distributed some of them. It’s a hard concept for a kid–to leave your precious painted art for someone else to find and move….

Guess what kind of flowers THESE are?

Chestnut. Pink ones with snazzy yellow centers, how fancy!

Sunday, between looking at houses for sale, we did a little walk up to Sugarloaf from Sign of the Kiwi. Glorious day for it, and the kids were wearing their good attitudes.

And Monday we made the trek out to Tumbledown Bay with some other friends.

I’m sure we’ll see more of these types of photos once Jeremiah gets home. He got his first trout on the fly rod, and was one happy camper.