Puzzling but cool

Street art in Mairangi Bay. Some might question placing this outside the loading dock of the grocery store, but probably that kind of question would show a lack of artistic sensibility.

A glass act

We returned to the glass studio for a half-day jewelry making workshop. The class was pretty disorganized but we got to play with fusible glass which was fun.

Ours are the two bottom left and the green teardrops on the right.

Bay 2 Bay Ocean Swimming Club

I’ve been three times now so I guess I’m a member. It’s still cold but I can say that I felt much more confident by the third swim. If you look carefully you’ll see a few hardy souls not wearing wetsuits. Yikes.

Elementally, my dear

A couple of weeks ago we headed down the road to the Parnell appearance of some lighted sculptures we first saw down by the Harbour a few months back.

But wait, there’s more. The exhibit is themed around the four elements: earth water fire and air. The first week was earth, and so – obviously – there were four dancers in white thrift store ensembles with lighted accessories doing a slow-motion dance in complete silence. We lasted about five minutes because we felt like maybe there would be more. But no.

Owl Aboard

This bookish owl appeared recently on a utility box we walk by every day. Lee figured out that it’s right across from the library.

The reading list includes a few punny titles, some of them are a real hoot!

Good day sunshine

We saw the movie Yesterday last week. (When? Last week. I thought it was yesterday…)

It reminded us just how tuneful all those Beatles songs really are. And surprisingly hard to play on the clarinet, but that’s another post.

But it wasn’t only the Beatles who knew how to write a catchy tune: Here’s Misty, grooving on a Sunday afternoon.

Just swimmingly

I finally worked up the courage to join a group of open water swimmers today for their regular Sunday swim. I’d been following them on MeetUp for a while, but hadn’t quite motivated to actually go.

It was a beautiful morning at Mairangi Bay. Water was about 14-15 degrees C. Most of me was covered in wetsuit, and that was fine after the initial OMG. But my hands and especially my toes were chilly for sure… more gear needed.

It was a big group for this bunch and for the time of year, 18 people in the water. We swam maybe 45 minutes. Swimming straight without lane lines is hard! And the presence of waves, even little ones, adds a new dimension, as does the added buoyancy from salt water and wetsuit. And then there’s the part about not stopping every few minutes to rest.

But even with all that, I enjoyed the challenge, and the camaraderie. Best part might have been the date scone after…

Te Whare Ngeru

This fine cat lair appeared at work the other day free to a new home. Grabbed it!

I was hoping the Maōri word for cat would be Katto or something… since they didn’t have cats on the island I thought it could be a Maōri-ized English word. Then Te Whare Katto would have blended nicely with Te Whare Ka in the last post. Oh well, Ngeru it is, according to Google Translate.

Misty still hasn’t appreciated the new house much, other than as a scratcher.

Te Whare Ka

This garage sits in front of a house on the slopes of Mt Eden, where I went for a jog the other day.

The Maōri details around the top, while probably not authentic in any meaningful way, are still cool. The inscription at the top ‘Te Whare Ka’ means ‘The Car House’.

You say potato, I say couch

We bought this couch used about two months ago. The proximal reason for needing a new couch was that our landlord warned us that if Misty damaged his leather furniture we would be liable. Fair enough… our cats have ruined multiple sofas over the years.

Since there was an element of sacrificial lamb in play, and since being renters makes us wary of investing too much in house stuff, and since things are just insultingly expensive, the decision to buy a used one was easy enough. And anyway, we like the hunt. The one we found has good bones, but the upholstery was in bad shape, sun faded and starting to shred in a few places.

We were encouraged by YouTube to believe we could re-cover it. Lee has done quite a bit of sewing back in the day, and has time these days, so why not?

So, then, what fabric to use? We went to a bunch of stores, and looked at zillions of fabrics, but there were really only a few that we liked. The grey nubby fabric we picked got instant cat approval.

Of course, we also needed a sewing machine, but that’s the subject of another post…

Lee started with the cushions. She was able to re-use the zippers, and soon all six cushions were done.

For the main body of the couch we had to decide between a slip cover or a true reupholstery job. Slip cover won out. Easier, and due to the couch’s relatively square shape we felt it would look good without a lot of tucking and gathering.

It turned out great! We sat on it for a few weeks and then Lee made a few adjustments and put the bottom hem in place last week. If you look carefully of course you can tell it’s a slip cover, but basically it looks great. And it’s long enough to take naps on, something the old sofa lacked.

When we add up the cost of the couch, the delivery service, the cost of buying more upholstery fabric than was actually needed, and even the sewing machine, we’re still comfortably under the cost of a new sofa from the store ours came from. And so far, Misty hasn’t felt the need to abuse it (much), so we should get to enjoy Lee’s handiwork for a long time.

Pot of Gold

The new Westfield Newmarket mall is scheduled to open ‘soon’. It will be the largest mall in AU or NZ, supposedly.

Four Nights in Brisbane

We turned a Thursday work meeting into a long weekend in Brisbane and had a lovely time.

About a dozen years ago, we flirted quite seriously with the idea of moving to Brisbane. The other course of action worked out just fine, but we’ve always wondered a bit about life in a sleek high rise overlooking the river. We almost got a taste of that at the Westin Hotel, where we stayed on some leftover Marriott points. The hotel was super-nice, as was the service. We enjoyed breakfast and happy hour in the concierge lounge, where we met various interesting people with stories to tell. Last night was crowded and we shared space with a couple whose summary included “I used to be in the casino game, in Macau…” We did visit the Brisbane casino, housed in the old Treasury Building, and managed to leave with as much as came in with, victory!

Now that we’re in Auckland, Brisbane doesn’t seem quite so exotic, but after spending a few days exploring (my third time, Lee’s first) we would still totally live here.

My meeting was in a nice hotel located just under the Depression-era Story Bridge, with a cool view.

We took the City Cat ferry (top picture) all the way up and down the river, a great $5 ride. Lee also took a guided river tour and shared the best parts of the commentary with me.

The Botanic Garden…


We took some nice walks along the river, including the South Bank that is full of attractions. Sadly, the free pool was closed for maintenance. But we did see the Peace Pagoda from Nepal, a leftover from Expo 88. The explanatory plaque says it’s one of only three outside Nepal and also says that there are Peace Pagodas all over the world. Go figure.

We ate good burgers at the Triffid, a well known live music venue. Lots of band posters everywhere, mostly unknown to me.

We saw a bunch of different neighborhoods. All nice. We especially liked the slightly funky West End, where many of the world’s gluten-free vegans seem to have congregated so they can open little shops and sell stuff to each other. We ran into a really impressive market there.

It’s a Kiwi cliché that we now believe, fresh produce is way cheaper here. Also gas. And real estate from what we saw. Hmmm, no wonder so many New Zealanders are moving to Oz.

There was a lot of public art…

That’s a scale model of the dome of a Cathedral that was contemplated for over 40 years, but finally the plans were abandoned for lack of funding.

Statues of Byrnes and Burns, two men who accomplished a lot and died young.

I hope this carving, in the very posh part of the waterfront area, is called something like To Have and Have Knot.

We did an Asian food-themed walking tour, meh. They took us to a Filipino place we’d discovered on our own the day before…

We also took in an improv comedy show that was truly remarkable in its amateurishness.

And then on the last morning, I wandered down to the finish line of the Brisbane Marathon in time to watch the winner roll in in a time of 2:33. That’s a hell of a lot faster than I could have ever run, and pretty good for a hometown white guy with a full time job. But in the running villages of the Kenyan highlands, I’m pretty sure kids that slow don’t get dessert.

I had a good time watching all the half marathon and even 10K finishers coming in… so many tales of agony and exhilaration and all sorts of other emotions on unvarnished display.

That’s the winner in the center. If he passes red shirt guy in the next 80 meters he’ll have run twice as far in the same time.

All in all, we packed in a lot and find ourselves tired and ready to go home. Tomorrow is Queen’s Birthday holiday so there’s a day to recover. But if duty ever called… a person could do way worse than Brisbane.

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