The Great Flood of ‘23

The official Auckland reporting station got something like 10” of rain on Friday. In our neighborhood, the total was more like 12” according to some amateur meteorologists. Our driveway turned back into the stream it once was. But luckily our house sits out of the path so no damage to us.

Lots of friends and neighbors had their basements get wet. We know one person whose ground-level apartment was chest deep underwater, and her car was completely submerged. Yuck! The bowling / pétanque club took on close to a foot of water, so we went down and helped clean up.

There were a lot of mudslides, and with so many houses perched on hillsides or next to cliff edges, the damage will be costly. In the shot above, that house is a lot closer to the edge of the cliff than it used to be, and the public tennis court is out of service for the foreseeable. Surely this flood will reignite the discussion about letting the whole Little Shoal Bay park complex go back to marshy wetlands.

We’ve lived through floods before, one-day events like this as well as the big Midwest floods of 1993 and 1995. People will recover and rebuild. But it will be hard, and it will eat up so much of the financial breathing room for affected families and the whole city over the next couple of years… instead of doing whatever was next on the list, our efforts will step back down the hierarchy of needs ladder by a step or two. It’s a shame, although I think unavoidable with this many people living in this particular place. Of course drainage systems could be improved, but the cost of truly flood-proofing all the houses and roads in Auckland would be unacceptable.

Leaving Las Vegas

After a wonderful visit with cousin-in-law Elizabeth (during which I completely failed to take any pictures), it’s back home again.

This friendly jackrabbit sits in the airport terminal as you head toward your flight. Legions of kids pass by it every day. It struck me as somehow wrong that in this metropolis so singularly devoted to pleasuring visitors you can’t climb on the rabbit. That rabbit is exactly the right size to be climbed on! My favorite memory of visiting the La Brea tar pits is of climbing on the giant sloth statues outside. Kids want to climb on statues! #climbtherabbit could become the rallying cry for a whole generation of kids who want to break the bonds of xBox. Or not.

Goodbye Strip! And PS, it was way easier to crop this picture to show you the RUMP hotel than to photoshop in something like FASCIST ASSHOLE, so I did. Maybe not quite as impactful, but still.

I don’t know exactly how many times I’ve been to Vegas… maybe a dozen? It’s spectacular, no question. But these days it takes a real effort for me to actually get excited about the pleasures on offer. Gambling in particular has lost its appeal for me… I used to really look forward to an hour at the slot machines. But these days, meh. Even though it’s legal and convenient to go to the casino in Auckland, I never do. Which I guess is a good thing for the possibility of retiring some day… it sure is easy to lose your money quickly!

The Promise, In Progress

Seldom is art so heroically understandable. Planting the seeds of knowledge!

But it’s a changing world. And so more or less across the street it looks like this…

I was intrigued by the idea of a plaque in the sidewalk in front of a vacant car dealership. More San Bruno history (with transcription helpfully provided by text recognition on my phone, first time I’ve used this feature)!

OLD TIN SCHOOL HOUSE

FIRST CITY HALL

IN 1904 FATHERS OF CHILDREN BUILT SAN BRUNO’S FIRST SCHOOL IT WAS CONSTRUCTED Of WOOD AND COVERED WITH TIN.

A LARGER SCHOOL WAS BUILT AND THE BUILDING BECAME CITY HALL IN 1915.

REMODELED AND ENLARGED IN 1931. IT SERVED UNTL 1953 WHEN THE PRESENT CIVIC CENTER WAS BUILT.

Lilyus Maximus

This ginormous tiger lily, fresh off the set of Fantasia or possibly Avatar, came from our very own backyard. Lee had to cut it before it took over the whole property.

First island to the left and straight on til morning

Since New Years Auckland has enjoyed some pretty crap weather. It’s been windy and rainy. And even on the clearer days it’s been tough to swim because the rain washes a bunch of yuck into the bay.

But we found a brief window on Sunday morning and took full advantage. Out past that island, then swing to the right just past the edge of the picture, and then back in. It was mostly calm, with a few waves breaking out on the reef to make it interesting.

I felt like I earned my blueberry cream cheese muffin…

Babaco, baby!

Obviously I have a bit of work to do to stain the fence, but soon enough that stick you can barely make out in the middle of this bed will be supplying an abundance of delicious babaco fruit.

We got this cutting from Heather, a pétanque friend, who has a gorgeous backyard garden.

And then, just by chance because now we know what they look like, we saw an older one on a path we walk often. I hope ours grows a few more leaves, however.

New neighbors

This giant ficus tree is the dominant feature of a house just up the road from us. It sold last year, and at the time thought to ourselves that the new owners would have plenty of work ahead of them.

We haven’t met them yet, but they seem like the kind of people we want on the street… always decorating for the holidays, painting and fixing, that sort of thing.

And now they’ve totally won us over with this fairy house door… perfectly placed!

Stay-cation

One of the advantages of moving a lot is still feeling a little like we’re on vacation even doing normal things. So when the Christmas break found us with no plans to fly away, nor really the motivation, no big deal.

We dined with friends, did a few projects around the house, went to the beach a couple of times, did some shopping, saw the new Avatar in IMAX… and of course went out for a boozy brunch. Best of all, we didn’t feel the least bit deprived for the lack of an airport experience.

Out with the old

Compared to the USA, in NZ it’s much more common to move into a house without any appliances (or whiteware as it’s known here). We negotiated with our sellers to leave everything behind for us. Even though most of the appliances were somewhat older, they were good quality brands, and we didn’t want the hassle of shopping for those big items while we were moving.

But things break. Our stove lost a burner a few weeks ago, and we were pretty easily swayed to buy a new one instead of repairing it.

The new cooktop is about 6 inches wider, giving us an additional burner. But most importantly it’s induction!

So far we like the controls better than the old stove (although we wouldn’t have minded actual knobs you can turn, that’s basically not an option on these drop-in cooktops) and we REALLY like the quick heat and cool of the induction elements. All our good pans (thank you Costco in 2008 or so) work just fine on the induction surface.

We already replaced the oven last year… what will go next? Maybe our second-hand freezer, or maybe the microwave? Time will tell…

Boom!

We spent New Years Eve with our friends Malcolm and Di, and amazingly made it to midnight still awake. We walked down to the end of their road to see the Sky Tower fireworks show.

We’re hoping that even more people get to have a great 2023 (except for the seditionists, the invaders, the deforesters, the propagandists, etc).

A moving image

At the start of yesterday’s swim we saw a photographer all set up to take sunrise pictures. It turned out I know her husband through work… another example of what a pleasantly small town Auckland can be.

She took this shot of us wading into the water and sent it along later in the day… beautiful! It’s created using a technique called Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) where you jiggle the camera using a slow shutter to create these blurry images.

Thanks Anna for the picture, a great way to remember my last swim of 2022.

Condemned

Until recently, this house and yard were obscured by piles of stuff, old broken cars, etc. An old man would sit on the porch and watch the world go by.

One day, Lee saw it all organized into big piles on the lawn, and now there’s temporary fencing across the front. With all the stuff gone, we can see the house sagging and rotting more clearly.

It will likely be torn down and replaced by half a dozen townhouses. Densification certainly makes sense in the big picture, but it’s a little disconcerting every time we see this happen. Hopefully the man who lived there has been able to move somewhere with a little more social support… if he owned this property outright he just got a check that should cover his life’s expenses quite comfortably.

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