Independence Day, NZ style

We celebrated the 4th of July with a weekend at Tom’s Tutukaka house. It provided all the beautiful scenery we could hope for.

We hiked up to the Tutukaka lighthouse in a howling wind. No actual light anymore of course, it’s all radio beacons and GPS these days.

It had been raining, which made for slippery footing, which combined with artfully draped tree branches to make a very “impactful” impression.

As we were sitting around playing Bananagrams later, all of a sudden the setting sun popped out from the clouds and lit up the trees on the headland… spectacular!

We had a little drama with the solar system, which needed a reboot that none of us knew how to do. A few phone calls later, and all was well.

Tom our host had a nasty cold, which I got, so the memories of the weekend lingered for a couple of weeks… almost entirely better now.

Unstuck

I’ve had an emerging idea to do a complex series of posts here, and it’s been blocking me from posting anything at all. So I created a separate site (not visible yet) where I can unload all that. Hopefully that mental shift lets me get back to the random little thoughts and updates I like to post here.

Art!

My former colleague Sandy exhibited her paintings at the Mairangi Bay Art Centre and we went to the reception.

The Art Centre itself is pretty cool…

No more to roam

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything on the blog. We’ve made a big life decision, and I felt a bit superstitious about announcing it too early. But here we are. And as of mid-September, there we will be.

After looking at a lot of houses and waffling back and forth about what was truly important to us, we took a second look at this one… once before lockdown and once after… and it just felt like home.

It’s in Birkenhead, on the other side of the harbour. That means we will both have a commute of up to hour if we take the bus. But we got a lot more house for the money on a quieter street, and we decided it was worth it, particularly as we move to some amount of working from home thanks to the virus.

The closing is pushed out till mid-September so the current owners can find a new place. The market is all over the place thanks to the pandemic so it will be some time before we know how our investment will pan out. But interest rates are insanely low, so we won’t be paying much more than our current rent each month.

It’s the biggest commitment we’ve yet made to the idea of staying here permanently. But with the USA literally and figuratively on fire, that choice is easier than ever. In 30+ years together we’ve amassed a large body of evidence that there ain’t no such thing as permanent, so it would be silly to start making predictions now. Let’s see what adventures come our way.

Now begins the shopping…

La la laa la in a bear tree

Our rubber tree, which sits outside our courtyard right at the sidewalk, produced this surprising flower or fruit! I looked online and can’t find another example on a rubber tree.

It looks for all the world like a weird little stuffed bear with a body inexplicably shaped like a donut. We’re going to watch and see if it ripens or produces a seed pod.

Drought… what’s the problem?

Having emerged basically unscathed from the first wave of the pandemic, New Zealand’s attention now returns to “anything else.”

One thing is a drought affecting big chunks of the country. Here in Auckland the reservoirs got down to around 40% capacity, enough to trigger modest restrictions on water use. In some of the agricultural areas, it’s been much worse, with the harvest essentially ruined for many farmers and lots of livestock slaughtered before they starved in the fields.

I took this picture of a lush lavender hedge and a bright green lawn under a drizzling sky thinking how it can be hard to juxtapose the statistical, long-term, and remote reality of the drought with the immediate evidence of our own eyes. Doesn’t look like a drought to me, what’s the problem? As long as there are snowballs, global warming might just be a hoax.

And so it is with the pandemic. I’m at this pool party in Missouri, and I’m not sick, and that hot girl over there isn’t sick either. In fact, I don’t see anybody sick at all. What’s the problem?

Is it the same with racial violence? I’ve never killed anyone, and that black guy with the Mercedes seems to be doing all right. So what’s the problem?

And is it the same with dictators? First they came…

How to medical

I won’t even try to post a link to Sarah Cooper’s amazing lip sync to Trump’s disinfectant speech… I think the New York Times version I saw was an embedded Tweet from a TikTok video and required more Terms of Service than I’m willing to commit you to. Find it if you haven’t already.

In the meantime, our local shop is offering “sanetiser” which maybe Trump could rub on, or inject, to become more, y’know, sane.

Fire in the belly

Yesterday I saw a cyclist pull up to a stoplight, preparing to make a right turn (that’s a left in America). Road work meant that he had to ride up on the sidewalk and merge back into traffic after making his turn.

He was a MAMIL, a middle-aged man in Lycra. White beard, decent bike. Built about like me, in fact.

Also stopped at the intersection was a semi truck, an empty flatbed used for carrying shipping containers.

The light turned green, and the bike slotted in behind the trucker. But then something changed. As the semi driver worked through the gears, the cyclist seemed to switch from “afternoon-ride” mode to “desperate breakaway”. He glued himself to the back of the trailer, pedaling faster and faster.

Up out of the saddle, arms bent, head forward. Even as the road tilted uphill, the acceleration continued. 20 mph, 22, 25, faster. I could tell he hadn’t planned quite right… too small a gear meant that his legs were spinning too fast to maintain for long. But shifting mid-sprint is tricky… it’s easy to pop the chain off and literally throw yourself over the handlebars. So he made the safe choice and just pedaled himself out.

After about 30 seconds, it was all over. The guy sat back down, the truck finally up to full speed and rattling off down the road.

For those few seconds, a regular guy was transported to the final few meters of a Tour de France stage he’d seen on TV. The lone breakaway rider has been out suffering for hours, while the rest of the pack steadily reels him in. Almost every time, the poor bastard gets swallowed up and finishes near the back. But almost every race, somebody tries anyway, pinning everything on that final 30 seconds. Win or not, the breakaway guy knows he took charge and did everything he could. That’s an immensely satisfying thing when the world seems to be spinning out of control around us.

I had such a rush watching this little vignette and feeling all those things… all the best part of sport, condensed into a moment.

Even if I didn’t beat the truck.

Playlist

Visiting the bank today for the first time since lockdown. New social distancing rules in effect.

So as I wait, the chipper 80s playlist keeps me entertained … I am not making this up… Doctor doctor, can’t you see I’m burnin’ burnin’

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