Monday, 26 May 2014

autumn farm

I had a short weekend on the farm with my parents.  I took my big camera and photographed the bejesus out of the bonfire, Mum's cat and dog, the lambs, the fields (not yet downloaded, I'm afraid if you're jonesing for a look at pictures of wee sooty-faced little lambs this blog is a real tease).  We ate and drank and were merry.  I slept over 10 hours.  I cuddled the cat who swiped me amiably when he'd had enough.  P shot at rabbits.  We swigged whiskey fireside and watched the stars come out. 

I noticed Bert's overt absence on the hilltop, with his lower lip drooping and socked back hoof resting.  Couldn't bring myself to visit his grave (Christ, I can't hang up the washing at home without darting glances at Timothy's resting place and hurting inside my ribs).  Mum sympathised; she can't visit Bert and ten years on, she still thinks of Pip (the family Jack Russell terrier) every time she walks to the apricot tree on the hill.  We talked about Sam, Mum's labrador cross, who disappeared by the mailbox one day, never to be seen again.  It's worse about Sam - she doesn't have a spot, only an empty kennel.  The graveyard inside my heart is getting terribly big.  Perhaps that's what happens with age - only you notice it first with the pets.  May it be years before any other people join.  Decades.  Please.

Wow, that makes me ache and it wasn't at all where I intended to go with this post.

The sun was out - over 20 degrees, shining sky and green hills.  I love this land, this country.  I really do. 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

winner winner

I am absolutely owning life, recently. 

  • I have at least one fingernail that isn't bitten to the quick.
  • The scab on my foot from a tumble in leaf mould on my walk home two weeks ago is nearly healed, leaving me approx. 50% less scabrous.
  • I have thought about replacing my seriously old razor blade before I develop tetanus and gone so far as to make a mental note to buy a new one.
  • I found my access card for work after a short week of looking.
  • My regrowth lends my hair a really 'lived in' feel.
  • The ants have moved on to only eating the cats' biscuits off the kitchen floor, after I eradicated every ant found on the kitchen bench.
  • Now that my glasses are completely scratched up, I don't notice a difference in quality of vision when I take them off.
  • Finding my way to the bottom of the chip packet on the regular has made me extra specially nice to hug.
  • The fact that the kitten is sleeping on my face on cold nights demonstrates her trust and love, right?
Actually, there's only one piece of evidence that counts.  That shows I'm a real winner, despite all of the above:
  • Yesterday was the 13th anniversary of the day I first kissed P.  P, who loves me anyway.  He's the best.

Friday, 16 May 2014

i love me some potatoes

Last night, I had a flashback to the claggy boiled potatoes of my childhood.  No offense intended to my Mum or Dad, those spuds were great, I loved them.  We'd cut them open and add salt and pepper, mashing them slightly with a fork.  As I ate my lightly mashed potatoes yesterday, I thought 'self, you don't actually have to add half a pound of butter to mashed potatoes to make them taste fine. Yes, a lump of butter the size of a fist and whipping them with a fork post mashing would make them taste amazing.  But it's not necessary every damn time you eat them.  Your arteries and ass will thank you later.'

The issue is, you see, my husband is a doodie.

(I'll give you a minute - read that link.)

(With me now?)

Every time I suggest to P he might like to scale it back a bit and that every meal doesn't have to be a production, he responds with some variation on "why are you against deliciousness?"

He's got a valid point, I suppose - why not strive to make everything taste as good as possible?  However, he wants to eat steak and thrice cooked chips more often than I want to consume the level of canola oil used in the cooking. 

(Also - how privileged are we, for goodness' sake?  It was a full-fledged crisis in our house last week when the caterpillars had eaten all the parsley, the creepy little fuckers.)

He's not averse to healthy eating. The only qualification is that it must be tasty and it seems to me that there is a direct correllation between the quantity of organic extra virgin olive oil (pressed by uncle and aunt from their grove, no less, at a community press) and tastiness. 

Even better, he loves a recipe that involves copious amounts of chopping, as slicing things is his favourite activity (*ahem*, marital relations excluded) (I hope) since he bought the Japanese handbeaten knife as a promotion present for himself in 2011.  The chopping, sorry, precision dicing/slicing/brunoising or whatever, is OK with me.  Or at least, it is now after we threw away the mandolin following the great thumb slicing of 2013).

He hasn't bought a sous vide, though.  Yet.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

do ya think i'm sexy?

Call me shallow and/or faithless, but I was genuinely pleased the clerk at the dairy beside my work flirted with me as I purchased breath mints, chocolate and a diet coke the other day. 

I crowed about it to my husband.  He laughed and asked what made me believe it was flirtation.  'Oh, I know when I'm being flirted with', I bantered from below lowered eyelashes.  'He asked me if I was purchasing a healthy, wholesome lunch and told me to take care as I left!  Raging flirtation, right there!'

I can't believe I made such a big deal out of it - clearly, I don't see enough stranger flirtation these days which is no doubt emblematic of my age, relationship status as declared on the fourth finger of my left hand and the fact I'm not often sending out the flirty signals.  I'm out of practice. 

(Also, on reading this back I promise it was actually flirtation, it doesn't sound like much hey?! oh yes, I luuuuuuuuuurve being judged for purchasing the workplace was all in the delivery, I promise).

A spot of flirting makes you feel good about yourself, you know?  As opposed to, say, being touched without consent in a public place.  I think I need to get my wanton hussy groove back.  Watch out P, you're going to be the practice ground for my delightful banter, you poor wee thing!


Monday, 12 May 2014


The concept of the childhood family home eludes me; we moved roughly once every five years.  I only remember being upset about this once, when I was 10 or 11.  K and I ripped down the 'for sale' sign at the end of the driveway and tossed it into an adjoining paddock.  I don't know that we'd thought it through (removing the sign was hardly overthrowing an entire marketing campaign) and I don't recall how Dad discovered we'd done it, but I do remember the sinking feeling that the move was written on wall, when Dad was chewing us out after the fact.  I gave up the rebellion pretty quickly and didn't look back as we left for the last time.

It didn't upset me when Mum and Dad largely converted my bedroom into a spare room within the first eight weeks after I left for university.  I've always found the concept of a child's bedroom preserved in perpetuity somewhat creepy, perhaps a little shrine-like.

When Mum and Dad sold the house they'd built and we lived in for the longest stretch of my youth (I was there for seven years, they sold it after nine years, after both K and I left home), I didn't feel sad either.  They were moving somewhere they wanted to be,  I didn't live there any more.  I almost wanted to divorce myself from the place; I had started feeling uncomfortable visiting the haunts of my high school years when I returned on university holidays.  I was reinventing friendships and tossing out much of who I had been in high school, trying an adult persona on for size.  I think I felt guilty when I visited, I was (and am) bad at maintaining friendships over distance and had moved on when I left.   

As an adult, the longest I've lived anywhere was three and a half years in a tiny apartment in Auckland.  I couldn't wait to get out of there; I don't miss it. 

I've always assigned more meaning to objects, I think. Relics of my childhood such as exercise books, ribbons and pictures hold more nostalgia for me. I still think of the feijoa tree outside my bedroom window ages 5 through 10; I'd sneak out the window to gorge when I'd been banished to my room for misbehaviour. Remembrance is triggered by eating a feijoa, not by visiting the place.

Which is why it feels odd that suddenly, less than a year after I've moved in, I feel emotionally tied to our new place.   It's the house and land itself that I'm growing to love.  I hear the tui in the tree across the road and know I'm home.  I hear the gate swing and curse it sticking in wet weather.  That's home too. I ripped creeper out of the lovely half grown chuckleberry trees on the fenceline and cursed when I snagged and broke a branch.  Who knew that ownership was such a different beast?  Perhaps I'm getting more sentimental in my old age. 

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

blank pages

My mother and father have been sending me emails from their travels in Europe, scattered with little descriptions of what they ate (a cabbage dish) and where (a 1960s style restaurant that made her feel underdressed), with anecdotes about the places they've visited (lady carrying a maine coone cat down the street in Grenoble).  I press reply, bash out a 'that sounds tasty' or 'I'm very jealous, tell me more' and then my fingers hover over the keyboard, unable to fill in the blank section devoted to what's going on with me. 

I'm having some difficulty wringing words out of the day-to-day, just now.  Blog, correspondence, conversation.  I had drinks with a close friend and a new friend yesterday evening and I wasn't holding up my end of the conversational bargain.  I lay awake briefly last night, pondering where the pizazz has gone and whether I'd sunk the new friendship before it'd left the harbour.  (Pizazz = such a wonderfully 80s/early 90s word, I think.  It goes with Jem and the Holograms / The Misfits / Neon slashes on black lycra bike shorts / hairdryers).  

But, as they say, the only way to write is to do it.  So here I am.  I've written to Mum this morning.  We're getting the mower fixed this weekend, I said.  It'll be a jungle out there after the rain overnight.  P is away at a conference, which means I'll have cereal for dinner, I said.  I suggested a day trip wine tasting on Waiheke Island to the new friend; we'll gather a group.  It'll be fun.  Make it happen. 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

why hello there

Hello foreign visitors!  Welcome!

I have been feeling guilty - you're all peeking into my terribly staid life in New Zealand and I am offering up no lovely pictures of children or views or activities - in part because I'm not a mother (unless the cats count) and in part because I seek to keep mah blog semi-anonymous.  Also, I am useless at taking pictures. 

Here's a brief intro - probably enough material together to make it apparent exactly who I am!

A: Female, 31, Married, No Kids, Auckland New Zealand, Solicitor.  Lived in New York for a year '09-'10 and in London '10-'12.  Likes: eating and drinking, writing silly/whingy journal-type bits on the internet, travelling, reading, theatre, pottering in backyard, her fambily.  Swears too much but generally has a sunny outlook, even if she does spent a disproportionate number of blogposts whinging.  Generally useless.  SRSLY.

Husband is P.  P likes: wine, whiskey, sports, cooking, travelling, does worky things at work and has a wicked sense of humour.  I broke his nose one time in the middle of the night.

Hometown is Auckland.  City of about 1.5 million, full of traffic jams, beaches, dormant/extinct volcanoes and weather that makes A's hair crazy.  Subtropical, so it rains a bit - temps year round between 0 and 30 degrees celcius.  Kiwis like to wear black, jandals (flipflops), say 'yeah nah' because even if we disagree, we can't be too rude about it, watch/play sports, eat fish and chips, drink beersies, and go to the beach.  We have horrific accents (somewhere between an Aussie and generic-British accent, very flat vowel sounds) and talk incredibly fast. 

Cats are Tabitha and Cocoa. They are SPCA moggies who are cute. 

Um, that's all I think?  Nice to meet you. 

slightly sozzled, I said yes

Have I never told you "My Engagement Story"?

(Capitals and "Quotes" and Sarcasm are a Good Mix, No?)

OH BOY, YOU'RE IN FOR A TREAT.  Not really, I just feel like writing this piece of history up today like the fickle-memoried wench that I am. 

It started with Kate and Wills, like all good romances.

In fact, Wills was born a week after me, when my mother was still in the maternity ward recovering from the birth / shock.  I felt from a very young age that the prince and I were meant to be; at least until he started losing his hair.  Yes, I am that shallow when it comes to one-sided relationships with future rulers of my dominion. 

Anyway, I didn't mean to delve that far back.  You know how Wills and Kate got married one time?  Well that day was declared a public holiday in the UK.  We were living in London and because of Easter or somesuch, the wedding meant a four day weekend.  Four free days to travel was too good to pass up.  P took it upon himself to organise that weekend as I'd recently been shouldering the travel arrangements 'burden'.    He umm'd and ahh'd about location and finally informed me he'd sorted it and it would be a surprise.  FINE THEN,  I said.  BUT BARCELONA RIGHT? I'M PRETTY SURE IT'S BARCELONA AND IT BETTER BE BARCELONA OK?

On the morning of Princess Catherine's big day, P put me on a train.  The train went through London right by the route the wedding carriage was taking, which at first made me scowl - packed train.  But everybody was dressed to the nines to attend the wedding of the decade.  Quite a few were already drunk and waving bottles with fascinators in their hair.  Even my stony heart melted when I saw a wee girl, dressed in her best party frock with a tiara in her hair accompanied by her grandfather.  I mean, honestly.  She was going to see a wedding and a princess!

I couldn't work out which airport P was taking me to.  When we eventually emerged in NW London, I realised he was taking me to a car hire spot.  He'd organised quite a nice car which made me internally sigh, thinking about the damage he'd done to the bank account renting something flash.  P is a car fan, you see.  He's pretty lucky I love him anyway because petrol-headedness is not my jam.  I also briefly mourned Barcelona -- how far is it possible to go return in four days in a car from NW London?

Well, as we drove that day it I guessed it - we were heading to the Peak District.  I forgave him for Barcelona immediately.  I now blush with embarrassment at being the living embodiment of a particular cliche - wasn't the Peak District where Lizzy toured in Pride & Prejudice?! I said.  And...I also knew it was the location of Lyme Park, the stately home used in the BBC adaptation of P&P which, sadly, is my favourite movie of all time.  Yes, I'm sorry, I am an Austen saddo.  P feigned disinterest in the Austen connection, just said he thought it was a cool area and had found a special on a great place to stay.

The drive up to the Peak District was really, really wonderful.  You see, most of Britain was celebrating the royal wedding.  Every village we drove through was decorated with flags and pennants and bunting - we stopped off at a pub for lunch and caught the televised kiss on the balcony - everyone cheered.  It was spring time and just gorgeous. 

P had outdone himself for accomodation.  The inn was my definition of perfection; giant bathtub, very cute, countryside, huge fireplace, gorgeous cottage garden grounds.  However, P's blackberry had been going off all day - there was a big deal in the works.  We arrived, he hauled out his laptop and set to work, making phone calls etc.  I had a bath, then flopped on the bed in a robe, disappointed that business took priority.  After moping around for a bit waiting for him, I decided to unpack the bags, seeing as we had three nights to spend.  P, on the phone, saw me pick up his bag.  He turned around, flapping his hands at me with a pissed off expression and I thought WELL FINE I WON'T BOTHER THEN.

You see, none of these signals - romantic weekend, flash transportation, surprise destination, all-out accomodation, reluctance to share the contents of his bag - amounted to wedding proposal in my mind because I am as dense as two short planks.  I have never been much of a wedding or marriage girl and we'd been together nearly 10 years at that point.  We were already committed.  Once upon a time, P had said to me that he did want to get married someday, but I hadn't given it much thought. 

The next morning, P offered up some local touristy options.  I gleefully picked going horse riding; we went on a hack in the countryside with about 10 Korean teenagers and had a fabulous time.  I taught P to post to the trot (key if he wanted his tackle to remain unbruised for the remainder of the weekend, a most important consideration).  We picnicked in a lane somewhere.  We walked up to an old henge, laughing at the British definition of Peak - more like gentle hill, though the other trekkers there had hiking boots, support poles, chaps etc - we were wandering up the hills in jandals. 

We went back to the hotel for a breather.  P was dead keen on setting out for Lyme Park, which I couldn't fathom.  It was already about 4; I knew we had dinner reservations and the Park was likely to close reasonably soon.  I convinced him a G&T in the garden would be best. 

We drank one, people watching.  P suggested we move on, but the sunshine was too good for me. I now know I was completely busting his grand plans to propose with a dramatic Austen backdrop.   Instead, we drank another G&T.  P then cajoled me into finding a private spot in the garden.  He disappeared to grab our picnic blanket and, unbeknownst to me, ordered a bottle of champagne.  We set ourselves up in a secluded spot to make the most of the sun. 

I felt buzzed, if you must know.  Two stiff gins, sunshine and then a first glass of surprise bubbles was more than enough to make me feel a bit giddy.  I later realised P was probably softening me up. 

He said some very nice things as we lay on the blanket in the sun, then, before I knew it, he'd asked me to marry him. 

After I said yes (I think), he produced a wee box with a ring.  I was very taken with it, moreso than I ever expected to feel about a piece of jewellery (at least, until the end of the weekend when I, frugal beastie that I am, realised that it probably cost a bit and was horrified).  We kept the engagement to ourselves that first night, sharing with family and friends the next day. 

The rest of the weekend was unreal - just magical.  I loved the proposal, didn't see it coming and am so glad to have married this man.