Saturday, January 22, 2011

Did I mention I've had no formal training?

Actually, I guess that's not true. I took a photography class in high school...

But I digress. I am taking a much needed brake from hours of boring paperwork. I do not recollect seeing this photo until shortly before we moved to New Zealand. My mother had a 5 x 7 copy in her china cabinet with a bunch of old family photos. "I used to be pretty." she said when I commented on it.

I scanned this one from a wallet sized photo I found with some high school stuff. Her hair looks a little grainy; otherwise, not a bad enlargement.

A quick tree update. Thank you to everyone who has contributed. (I promise to get real thank you letters out eventually.)
school fundraising ideas

Saturday, January 15, 2011

You can take a crosstown bus if it's raining or it's cold II

Weekend trip to look at another boat. The boat turned out to be more of a project than I am interested in taking on at present (especially if Nico is going to make me keep gardening).

A few highlights of our trip to Auckland:

Breakfast at Sheinkin, an "Israeli-Inspired" Restaurant. I'm not really sure what that means. Probably the place is owned by Israelis, but Israeli food turned out to not be popular, so it became a sort of Kiwi-Israeli-Eastern European fusion sort of restaurant. (I had salmon and eggs; they were good, but I don't think you'll find them in Israel...)

Coast to Coast walkway, a 16 km walk across Auckland. It's supposed to take 4 hours, but could take much, much longer if you felt like stopping at any of the sites you pass along the way. A few highlights of our walk across Auckland during our trip to Auckland:

A cricket game in the Auckland Domain. (A domain is a park, in case you don't read Nico's blog. There is no link to Nico's blog because her blog does not deserve a link.)

View from the top of Mount Eden.

Climb up One Tree Hill (As sung about by U2.)

Nicole taking one of many breaks (this one on the porch of an old cottage that was relocated to this location in 1920).

These may look like regular sheep, but they are clearly city sheep.

Crazy college kids. (In case you have a small monitor, it's a play on the quadratic equation.)

View from the top of One Tree Hill (notice how far away downtown has gotten).

We took the bus back to the hotel, rather than walking another 16 km (actually, with all the missed turns and back tracking, I'm sure it was more like 20 km).

Saturday night, we caught the late show at Auckland's (only?) comedy club. I can't say that I get Kiwi humour yet, and the only really funny guy was Maori...probably not a good idea for me to tell Maori jokes.

Sunday morning: coffee as big as your head, man.

Coffee in New Zealand usually comes with a fern leaf on top. If the barista likes you, you might get a heart.

Some boats at low tide at Shelly Park Beach.

Don't ask what we were doing in Shelly Park...

Friday, January 07, 2011

Tree #1

This isn't really tree #1, it's a bonus tree that my coworkers bought for me after I requested they not send flowers. It came from a friend's family farm, and I'm told that if I treat it right, it will someday give us avocados.

Although our backyard is spacious, we had no room for another tree, so I spent a couple of weeks carving up the jungle. I'm still not finished, and I don't know what I'm going to do with all these bags of vines, trees, weeds, etc. (A macadamia nut tree is on the way from the same farm, so I really should get back to work.)

Monday, January 03, 2011

Tree meter

Just a little update to this post, since I'm on a blogging rampage tonight. .

114 trees funded; 246 left to go 148 trees funded; 212 left to go!

school fundraising ideas

Looking through pictures from last months California trip...

As could be expected, most of the trip was business, and not great blog material. But a few highlights did appear on the memory card:

The LA Arboretum. We had a couple of hours to kill before a dentist appointment. [Thank you to my old, old, old friend Dr. Huy and his lovely wife for not hurting us too much.] Kiwis will be surprised to learn that you have to pay to get into the Arboretum. Everyone else will be surprised to learn that we used to have peacocks showing up in our backyard and on our roof (circa 5 miles away). If you ever have a stray peacock running around your property, the Arboretum is not that interested in retrieving it; they'll tell you not to feed him, and he'll come back on his own.

A rugby game at the Newport Pier? Yes, UC Irvine has a rugby team. Go figure.

Nico sitting in her old car. (A big thank you to my father for lending us a Miata from his collection.) I'm not sure why I was driving...probably because Nico got confused by the location of the steering wheel.

And here's my old, old friend Tak, and his much better half at Tommy's. I ate at Tommy's twice during the trip, and it was about as I remembered it. I only ate at In-N-Out once, and it was much better than I remembered.

A very poor photo just before we left for the airport. I never thought I would miss Whittier.

Thank you to all our friends (and family) who bought us beer, lunch, and/or dinner during our visit.
A day at the Cape

Since moving to Hawke's Bay Nico and I have not eaten out very often; partly because we are poor Kiwi folk (and restaurants tend to be expensive), and partly because restaurants here are not great; not to say they're bad...just sort of average...expensive and average.

On that subject, the first in a series of restaurant reviews at

1) Fox on the Quay. Many consider Fox on the Quay to be Napier's best restaurant. I would classify it under the header of "Fully Licensed Cafe", meaning it's the sort of place where you could have coffee in the morning, a glass of wine in the afternoon, and dinner at night (fully licensed meaning they have a full bar). Located across the street from the Sailing Club in Ahuriri, most tables (or at least the outdoor tables) have a nice view of the water. The occasional loud passing car can be a bit distracting, otherwise the atmosphere is pleasant. [Aside: I had a comment about NZ restaurant aesthetics, but this post will end up being way too long. Instead, I've included a photo of the Cape Kidnappers Light House.] Nico ordered chicken breast with sesame, lime and coconut paste on baked kumara wedges with rocket and fresh mango chutney (and rated it excellent), I had artichoke ravioli with tomato concasse sauce, grilled artichoke and finished with shaved parmesan (and rated it pretty good). We passed on dessert, though they all sounded fantastic. Overall rating: good, but not great.

2) Clifton Bay Cafe. I may have written about the Clifton Bay Cafe before; all we've ever eaten there are coffee and scones (or today: tea and scones). The scones are superb, giant, and two for $5. The coffee can be ordered in a bowl. The real food always looks very good when it's brought to other people, but we are never able to pass up the scones. The wine list is also impressive, but does not really go with coffee and scones.

Now that the business is out of the way: We took a walk to Cape Kidnappers this morning (and walked back this afternoon). I wrote about the walk last March, so I won't bother repeating myself here. I was attempting to 1) take a photo that is worthy of framing and 2) take a cool picture of a gannet.

Here are some of my efforts:

And some gannets: