I know, I know ... I've been neglectful of you, my darling readers. You have been shivering, wrapped in a tattered gray blanket, rocking back and forth in a fetal position, listening in vain for my footsteps from the dark hallway, wondering whether I have abandoned you. Fear not! I've simply been away from the computer a lot. Some might call that healthy. This does mean we have a lot to discuss, however, so put on your cozy pajama pants, pour yourself a cup of coffee (or tea, or bourbon) and gather 'round ...
1) Travels. We went to Christchurch this weekend to visit the doggies in jail. It was a joyous reunion, as you can tell from this photo. (I am not wearing baby blue shoes, by the way. They make you wear booties while in quarantine.) They arrived safely and seem to be doing okay, if they are not exactly enthralled with their current set-up. Poor little guys kept trying to follow us out. Ouch. I was feeling very sorry for them in their sterile-looking run with only their little doggie beds and then later that night on TV I saw a profile of this family of three kids in Angola who shared a dirty mattress on the floor. I decided I'd better get over myself. And quickly.
The rest of the trip was also fun, though rather soggy. As a result, we spent most of our free time holed up in various Christchurch pubs, waiting for the rain to pass. Here is an artsy photo composed by my better half to convey mood of the trip:
On the way back we stopped at the beach and I took this picture of a fur seal. No penguins, though.
2) Habitat. Dunedin is actually a lot prettier than I remembered, probably because it rained a lot the last time I was here. But damn, it is HILLY. Not so much hills as mini-mountains; it is hard to explain. I suspect that everyone around here must have thighs like tree trunks. I'm going to post more pictures soon, I promise.
The university is also prettier than I remembered, again, probably because of the weather. Posters all over campus notified that it was "Cannabis Awareness Week." It seems that most of the people who participate in Cannabis Awareness Week probably are already quite aware of cannabis, but it's good to see young people rallying for a cause.
3) Kiwi Style. It's hard to explain the differences in fashion. Everyone is definitely more casual and more outdoorsy-looking, but then again it's not hard to be more casual than the people who lived in my building in Atlanta. I might say the fashions are slightly dated, definitely less self-conscious. Leggings seem to be popular. People layer very effectively. A lot more dreadlocks and man-ponytails than you see in Georgia.
4) Entertainment. You get four NZ TV stations via antenna. These channels seem to feature just about all of the popular American network shows (Desperate Housewives, The Office, Ugly Betty, Oprah, etc.), some cable shows (The Daily Show, a lot of those crappy E! and VH1 reality shows), as well as a lot of British, Australian, and of course NZ programming. We watched this British show last night called "The Mighty Boosh." Hi-freakin'-larious! I suspect it is a favorite during Cannabis Awareness Week.
As some of my devoted readers may know, I have developed a rather unhealthy and shameful addiction to American Idol this season. If you had told me six months ago that watching some goatee-wearing, Goo Goo Doll-looking guy from Tulsa cover "Always Be My Baby," would make me squeal like a sixth grader, I would have poo-pooed you. But alas, here we are and there's not much to be done, so I'm thrilled to report that we do get American Idol here in NZ, though it is delayed by several weeks, so I actually re-watched Michael Johns getting kicked off this week. I know. I am ill. But David Cook rocks, baby! He's going to wipe the floor with that dopey little Donnie Osmond wannabe! For real!
We are debating whether to get satellite TV and currently are siding against it since just about anything we care to watch is on the four basics. I don't miss cable news at all. Yech.
5) Tastiness. If I weigh 300 lbs the next time you see me, devoted readers, you can blame it on the Hob Nobs. I've had them before and you can get them in the States, but they are these little chocolate-glazed oatmeal biscuits and they are fantastic. A good Hob Nobs binge will take all of the sting out of moving to a foreign country. This is the truth.
6) Transportation. We have been doing some car shopping. We are leaning toward some kind of station wagon/hatchback, as we need room for the doggies and gas prices make SUVs pretty much out of the question, although I do see them around. The dealers here are much more laid back than in the US. Going for a test drive, the dealers do not come with you, and no one asks to see a driver's license; they just ask you to write down your address. One dealer said something like, "it's got plenty of gas; just have it back before we close."
In the meantime, there is a bus stop right across the street from our house and the town is fairly walkable, but again -- those damned hills.
7) Communications. I got a cell phone. I have no idea what it would cost you to call it from the US -- probably a lot -- but let me know if you want it for emergencies and whatnot. In the meantime I've talked to some people via IM and Skype, so that is fun.
8) Domestic Affairs. Since Chris is working and I (temporarily, anyway) am not, I have been trying to play homemaker by cooking dinner for my husband every night. I say things like, "Dinner will be ready in about 15 minutes" and "Would you like some cobbler?" June Cleaver would be jealous. I had something of a cultural culinary mishap yesterday, however, when I bought tomato sauce for making enchiladas. Nobody told me, but the "tomato sauce" you buy in cans over here is just like freakin' ketchup, so the enchilada sauce was more like barbecue sauce, and at the end of the day they were only barely edible. Tomato puree is what I need to buy in the future. I think.
9) New People. On a non NZ-related note, I'd like to welcome the lovely and talented Miss Sofia Copp to the world. Although it may be some time before she is a devoted "Kia Ora, Y'all" reader, I'm sure her mother will read it to her aloud. Blogs are good for baby brain development, I'm pretty sure.