Washing machine

It never looks as dramatic in the pictures as it does when you’re out there swimming. And in real terms it wasn’t… the biggest waves we encountered were maybe – maybe – six feet crest to trough. But when you take a glance in front and see nothing but a wall of water, or even worse when a poorly timed breath finds you unexpectedly submerged for a second, it’s a bit full on! It does feel like you’re in the wash cycle, especially close to shore where the breakers break.

The swim group is now in its full winter routine… only about 45 minutes in the water followed by a hot shower at the surf club and a latte across the road. During coffee time we work on our story in case we run across anybody who hasn’t heard it all before. Did somebody get blown a little ways off course, or have their goggles pushed askew? That’ll do just fine.

Aw, shucks, I can say to anyone within social distance, just a morning dip… but it was blowing a gale, I tell you what. Nah, the 55-degree water’s not that cold once you toughen up a bit. I was fine but this other guy got in between two waves and…

Feathering the nest

We bought a set of four nesting tables at an auction a couple years ago. They have a sort of Nouveau/ Deco curve to the legs, very sweet. They’re probably oak of some sort, with a prominent grain and a very dark stain.

When we got them they all had doilies like the above, under glass, set on a hospital green paper backdrop.

Lee has now transformed two of them into spectacular mosaic/collage…

What will the next two become???

Buyer beware

What the tag said: these CDs are so worthless that they should be hung in a tree to scare birds.

What I saw: Clarinet music!!

The final verdict: Mr. Lewis’ “Best of” album is terrible. The man has no swing, no jive, no nuthin’. He took a bunch of perfectly good songs, slowed them down, removed the syncopation, and added a dose of self-pity. No no no. Beyond that: a bootleg of Adele’s 25, not one but three discs of pan pipes music (really amazingly cool for the first 30 seconds), somebody’s shockingly boring videos from a trip to Japan, and some other stuff I can’t even remember.

10 discs for $2… you get what you pay for.

Rainbow remnant

Driving home yesterday there was a rainbow. As I got to the very top of the Harbour Bridge it was really bright, almost all the way across, double, blue sky above and dark clouds below.

But by the time I pulled off the freeway and parked at Sulphur Beach, only a few minutes later, everything had changed… the sun was on its way down.

Still a pretty good shot.

Auckland Skyline

There’s a particular spot on my morning commute where the city skyline comes into view across the harbor. In the winter it’s usually dark, and the skyscrapers are lit up with multicolored LED lights.

I’ve thought about pulling off to take a picture, and there’s a spot I have seen next to the freeway that would be perfect. But how to get there?

On Sunday afternoon we explored that neighborhood and found the access road and underpass that led to this spot, called Sulphur Beach, and this picture. There’s a public boat ramp and boat sheds and a walking track… but not really anything else in the way of amenities. However, the limited access way and great views make it a popular makeout spot.


The 4th of July came and went in New Zealand with neither a bang nor a whimper. People in NZ are certainly more aware of American holidays than the other way around, but still it’s not actually a thing here.

But we had a fun weekend anyway. On Saturday I swam in the midwinter Iceberg Swim off Waiheke Island. The people above were doing the “Ice Splash” event, but they were way more photogenic than the people like me who did the 2km Iceberg swim. The water this time of year is about 55F, which is plenty chilly. Especially for those brave souls who swam it sans wetsuit! It was impressive to see over 1,000 registrants to the inaugural edition of this event… although it made for long ferry lines on the way home.

On Sunday (after another swim) we were treated to a free scoop of Ben and Jerry’s by the (American) owner of one of their stores here, just for showing an American passport. We’re all in a Facebook group for expats together, and it was really nice to go get some of the very best: Cherry Garcia (me) and Chunky Monkey (Lee). Both those flavors are not sold outside the retail shops, so it’s a fairly rare treat for us. We do miss sitting in Brattleboro with our neighbor Chuck and killing off a whole pint before breaking out the cards.

A couple weeks ago we saw the movie Eiffel at the traveling French film festival, which had a bit about the construction of the Statue of Liberty, so it was an easy segue to spend the afternoon of the 4th playing pétanque. We’d known somehow that there was a local club, but hadn’t given it a go till Sunday. Fun! Nice people! Will go back.

We capped the weekend off with a BBQ dinner at a South African place (the only segue I can come up with to get from American BBQ to South African concerns an episode of This American Life from 1997, so just go with me please). The American influenced place we wanted to go to has closed, apparently a victim of reduced tourist traffic in their very expensive neighborhood.

Somewhere in there we managed to cram in a little bit of that most American activity: second-hand shopping! We came away with a couple items of clothing, a souvenir shoe brush inlaid with many native timbers, a big vase, and a collection of Russian-language John Carter of Mars books. How awesomely random is that???

All that Independence is hard work, so I can promise that I was asleep even earlier in the atmospheric British mystery than usual on Sunday night!


That’s Coco who lives across the driveway. She sometimes hangs out in my carport under the house.

Coco’s really got the whole Cruella de Ville thing going on, and you can see why Misty had to do a bit of fighting and yowling to get herself situated in the neighborhood.

Hang Time

The view from my office is sadly dominated by the new mall built a couple years ago. Most days all I can see are the tiny silhouettes of gym people, who bounce around like cartoon or video game characters.

But one day last week the giant plant wall got a little attention. Three guys spent all day rappelling up and down (which is called abseiling here in NZ) with their big white bags pruning/ weeding the greenery.

Not for the faint of heart

That is a fainting couch in our nearby Salvation Army. And somebody bought, good for them. I walked by it with exactly that much attention. But Lee was more observant and wow!

See the police car? And the homeless guy?

And the mugging?

I googled a bit… no idea.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Several of my band mates are in the orchestra for Selwyn College’s production of Priscilla, playing this week. And sometime trumpeter Neil, above center, has the lead!

Fabulous costumes, funny gags, and decent singing made for a good Sunday afternoon. But overall the show dragged (pun intended) and the blocking was really static… if it wasn’t a full production dance number then the actors sort of stood there.

As often happens, a few side characters stole the show, especially the extraordinary lady who emcee’d a bit at the beginning.

Take these broken wings

I awoke to carnage in the living room… feathers everywhere, the carcass of a thrush, and this sad bloody wingprint on the wall.

Her Marauding Felinity sat on her pillow washing her paws and blinking slyly while we cleaned up the mess.


Even though the puzzle has been taken apart and put back in its box, on its way to a new home probably via the local Hospice thrift store, it was rewarding to find the missing piece in a jacket pocket.

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