Death and Taxes

death and taxes

Another awesome thing about NZ… annual taxes. My taxes are automatically taken out of my paycheck. My savings account, which by the way earns about 3.5%, also automatically deducts taxes.

Then, without any intervention from me, the government reconciles everything at the end of the year and either sends a bill or a credit. No tax return, no adding extra deductions to account for multiple wage earners, no TurboTax.

Now, all I have to do is figure out how to spend my huge windfall!

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, in Christchurch

Jogged around this morning. After the earthquakes in 2010–2012, Christchurch was in shambles. The central city is still more vacant land than buildings. There is a lot of construction activity, but it all felt pretty small-scale. Still, NZ’s good economy is good here too, and I suppose recovery will happen as it happens.

The Bridge of Remembrance, a War Memorial.

One of the recently terrorized mosques, now guarded by a couple of bored cops and adorned with many floral wreaths.

Air time

One of the people who also arrived early for this morning’s flight to Christchurch was Gwen, pictured above. She’d been traveling for 36 hours following a cruise in Scandinavia. Missed a connection. A bit wired up. Lost her luggage.

She’s written a book about her life, reviewed above. Does a lot of motivational speaking. She took my card and said she’ll send me a copy, here’s hoping!

Zero dark thirty

I arrived at the gate 1 hour 7 minutes before departure and was the first by quite a bit. Still not used to the casual approach to domestic air travel here… but it’s a good thing.

Papakura

We continued our ongoing exploration of the Auckland suburbs this weekend with a drive to Tuakau to pick up a dining suite (they’re suites here instead of sets) we bought online.

En route we stopped at Papakura for an unexpectedly good lunch and to see what’s what. A realtor might refer to the neighborhood as ‘up and coming’. But in overheated Auckland there are plenty of people who will/must suffer a long train ride into town and lesser quality schools in exchange for a few hundred thousand dollars cheaper housing.

What a difference a day makes

We had just read in the paper that this old house next to (and owned by) the Cathedral was going to come down, along with its next door neighbor.

But we weren’t really prepared for the fact that they’d both come down in only one day!

Let there be light

For Mother’s Day weekend the fine folks who plan this sort of thing put on an evening show of lighted-up stuff down by the Viaduct. I had jogged by in the morning and it looked like a thing to do so we did.

That’s a person in a lighted costume up above, who did a mesmerizing fairy dance that even managed to make lots of high fives look elegant and mysterious.

Thousands of other people also thought it would be a fun time! It was shoulder to shoulder. Some of the installations seemed pretty cool, like one that made noise when you touched it. But the artist’s vision might or might have included the reality we saw: 50 sticky overstimulated kids slapping as hard and fast as possible so all the sounds and all the lights.

The Harbour Bridge got in on the act.

This sculpture is actually there all the time but looked cool all lit up.

This Plexiglass tunnel boasted the most pretentious artist statement. Vitruvian Man, polygons, harmony, blah blah blah. But many many people lined up to walk through and experience the novelty of lights. And Plexiglass!

Many of the same sculptures will be on display in Parnell in July… maybe with a smaller crowd?

Walk this way

On a lunchtime walk the other day I came across this white-faced heron who was enjoying a buffet of bugs and lizards. I followed him (her? them?) all the way down the path, maybe five minutes.

Just like it says in the page linked above, he stepped carefully along the verge, and when he sighted something he scooted down, wiggled his butt like a kitty about to pounce, then grabbed the poor little bug with amazing speed. It was good hunting… I saw several creatures go down his gullet including a lizard whose legs were still flailing all the way to the end.

At the bottom, he abruptly flew back the direction we’d come… I guess going back for another helping!

Chairy Red

We found this great old chair at a garage sale last weekend and brought it home for $20. Sadly, however, it turned to be the dachshund of armchairs…

Not sure why we didn’t realize that before buying…

But just a few days later Isabella came over and loved. She’s got this little landing at the top of her stairs and it will be perfect there. Happy ending!

Matakana

Fortified with dawn’s early Korean fried chicken after our Eta Aquarids viewing, we took advantage of being in the area to visit the well-known Matakana Market.

We parked at the entrance to the village, overlooking a pretty little park, which was crowned with these impressive public toilets. The north of New Zealand seems to have kind of a thing for its toilets.

The market really is cute, although I didn’t really get good pictures. We ended up buying more vegetables than we needed. Not because the prices were so good, but because everyone there was actually an extra from the Lord of the Rings movies. Well not actually but OMG… they could have been. We couldn’t bear to leave. The wizened little hobbit man selling apples. Elf honey girl. A knife sharpener with a long beard and a leather apron daydreaming of the day when his people will recover the Arkenstone from Smaug.

The Eta Aquarids

Lee read about the Eta Aquarids meteor shower last weekend in the paper. Better in the Southern hemisphere (finally that works for us!), a new moon for an extra dark night, and a clear sky forecast.

We got up at 2:30 AM and drove a long hour north to one of the recommended viewing spots, Tāwharanui Regional Park. We parked right near the beach, which is probably a really nice beach in daylight.

We sat in the chilly air under a blanket for about an hour and a half, listening to the waves. We certainly saw some shooting stars, but we kinda hoped for more, and more dramatic. We saw almost as many satellites, actually.

But after the sun came up we went into town and ate fried chicken for breakfast. And a danish. And a scone. So that was actually really awesome.

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