Wednesday, December 18, 2013

NOV 19- A Day of tears

It is difficult to stay up beat and happy when you are so very sad (not to mention the people around you).
Leaving this place is more difficult then I thought it would be. Everything about this trip was perfect, yet there is so much left  to do and see. So much to explore .
Packing has been a chore to say the least. Not sure how I accumulated all this stuff LOL
I packed, unpacked and repacked several times. I had to finally narrow it down to stuff I would be needing or using soon. So lets left behind the clothes...who needs them LOL
I acquired some rather heavy stuff, that of course will have to stay behind. No matter how well I pack, weight is still a factor. So gifts had to go in first, then things I purchased to use in the near future. NO matter what I did, I still had left overs that HAD to go home with  me.
I called about an extra bag.$200 would be best spent on other things. Forget mailing anything. The cost to mail from NZ is unbelievable. Rainer finally mentioned the fact that he had often seen business people with carry on, plus purse, plus computer bag. He just happen to have a rather large one, sooooo.

That little one was put inside the big purple one and I packed more around it.That top purple one was my carry on and the black computer bag also made it aboard. Missing is a huge tote I passed off as a purse LOL Can you say "over weight"...I doubt I would have pulled that off on the American end but once Air NZ allowed it United was sort of stuck for the last leg. This picture conjures up bitter sweet feelings. One one end I can look at it and smile because I was there, on the other, it reminds me of a very, very sad day.
I cannot say enough about Air NZ. The planes are immaculate and they treat you like you are the only passenger .

That flight attendants would be Susan, my guardian angel. I was struck with horrible leg cramps on the way home and she managed to create a bed for me so I could lay straight. I think I used every pillow aboard.
The food was fabulous and the crew was unbelievably friendly and caring. Not to mention super professional both in dress and mannerism. Other airlines should take lessons form them.
The trip home on UNITED was a horror. The only passengers they seemed interested in were the business class. The rest of us paid through the nose for dry sandwiches and snacks. Movies were $7.99 do you believe that? I was certainly spoiled by Air NZ where I wasn't charged for ANYTHING...Heck, we even had to pay $5 for a luggage trolley.
Who could carry all that?
Once home I had to try and unpack as fast as possible because we had to attend Krista's Confirmation 2 days later.
It has taken me a few weeks to bring this to a close. Partly because I was too sad to deal with it and partly because with Christmas right on top of me, I haven't had time to catch my breath. I will continue to add little notes to this BLOG so check back now and again.
I took a lot of pictures and there was far too much to say in a daily BLOG. Everyone gives me a look when I say I will return to NZ. But there is just too much left unseen and undone , not too.
Check back......this life adventure is not over.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Nov 18-Another Wild Adventure

It was another WOW!! Moment for me on the final leg of what has been a true gift of love and adventure.
The Sky Tower was the first thing I noticed when I got here. You can see it in many pictures. NO matter where we went, at some point in time I saw the Sky Tower which is visible from all over Auckland. The structure is 328 meters high and is the tallest building in NZ. You can see up to 80 kilometers in any direction.(That would be 1076 feet straight up and you can see for 50 miles)

Some of the fabulous views of Auckland and beyond.
We were even lucky enough to catch a jumper.
If you look in the lower left hand corner of the pic you will see a man in a blue shirt on a bungee cord..Who does something like that?
Picture Translation: Holy Crap!! Look at these prices. WE ate in a restaurant that turned slowly, giving us a spectacular view. I had Fish tartare for an entree  and Harbor Salmon on potato and prawns as my meal .
The food was outstanding and came with wine but we had sparkling juice instead.
Of course I took a million pictures. There was also a Casino. I played the 1 cent machine and lost Boohoo
Entrance to the casino
and the place was all dressed for Christmas.
The bottom picture is just the top of the tree peeking up at the 4th floor.
Meanwhile poor Ilka continues to be sick. She finally went to the doctor and was told she had a viral infection. I told her if she sends me home sick she can expect some nasty calls from my family. I have done my best to avoid her but she was bound and determined that we would make those cuff bracelets before I left. So after the Sky Tower and a brief nap, that's what we did.
She kept repeating "At least I have two A+'s to celebrate LOL Some final marks started coming in and it was rewarding to see that all the heavy duty studying she did paid off.

Slowly, ever so slowly, her bracelet began to take shape. meanwhile mine got done. Now who's the over achiever LOL
She was happy to at least see mine get done. Mean while my request for dinner was Rainers Herring Salad.
We had to laugh when it was realized it was the third fish meal of the day. hey, what can I say? I LOVE fish. He showed me how to make it but I doubt anyone in my family will eat it. I guess I'll just have t come back here.
The day was kept light at heart but the night brought tears.It is the last night I will sleep in this house. The last night we will watch "How Not To Live Your Life". This has been HOME for 3 months. 3 wonderful months in Paradise has come to an end.
I've missed home and it will be good to see the good old USA again...especially my "Hill", but I will miss this place . I love it .. I will be back......

Sunday, November 17, 2013

NOV 17- Never a dull moment

Seems that no matter where I go, wild things follow. Look what I woke up to this morning.

Seems those wild ducks I've been feeding have a family. Are they cute or what? They ate my breakfast LOL
Ilka has a terrible cold so she has to keep her distance LOL NO bracelets yet. But Rainer made me a very special pendent.
Last year he showed me (via Skype) and unusual spoon he found. It had all kinds of markings...When I saw it I thought "Oh what a gorgeous pendent that would make". Filled with all sorts of symbolism, this is what he presented me with.
He had seen a little clay figure on line, asked me if I could make it. I figured if he could make that spoon for me...why not. I'm not sure I will paint this...but this is the clay figure.
I made Ilka a tree of life pendent and I will take pictures when we make the bracelets.
I packed my smaller suitcase...and it is bulging with about 1/10 of what I need to bring home.

So  we had to bring out a big gun.
See the difference in size? That small purple one will go into the larger purple one with stuff packed around it.
I think between the BIG GUN and my carry on..I should be able to get the important stuff home. I'll have to come back for the rest. I think I just heard my family faint. Even getting home is proving to be an adventure LOL Stay tuned.

Nov 16- Finished my shrine

Finally!! One of the challenges in my Mixed media group is a shrine. I told people, as I always do, think GIFT. Since we keep our challenge projects, why not make something for someone else? I had several people in mind but then decided it needed to be for me this time around. I've collected so many things along the way. So little by little it has come together.
I put paua shell around the edges because that is so NZ. That is a small one to the statue's right.You can find many bits and pieces on just about any beach, all polished by the sand and surf. It's like walking on a rainbow. Each shell is from a different beach and has a story. She is sitting on black sand which is found on the west coast of this country. It sparkles in the sun like black diamonds.Also included is a pice of broken pottery found at Paihia and beach glass found at Coromandel.
This piece of wood was found at the Cape (You've seen the lighthouse and the Maori jumping off place)
I call it my "spirit wood". Can you see the face? Let your imagination go.Look at the very top of the piece, right above that dark colored circle (which to me is a child being embraced) I see a rather serene face, eyes downward, small nose, lips, high cheekbones..heck I even see hands embracing the baby/child.
Some see it, some see an all together different face...That green pine comes from the Kauri forest. IT reminded me of Princess pine but it is very different and grows more like a weeping willow.
There is a piece of pumice, also from an island in the Coromandel...pumice is lava foam that was quickly cooled..I have a larger piece which I intend to use as a heat resistant platform.
So thats done and when I finish my Christmas project you'll see that too so stay tuned.

NOV-15 Mary would be proud

I am coming down to the wire now. Not many days left to enjoy the beauty of this country. Unfortunately the weather has not been cooperating either. But it has given me the opportunity to sort through all my treasures and decide what stays and what comes home with me. I also had some charms to work on as well as some other projects so all is not lost.
I'm working on a Christmas project to leave here and the first attempt did not work well. So back to the drawing board and more spray paint. Each time I went out yesterday I stopped and made a flower. Rainer had cut some flax for me to play with....I even taught him how to make the flowers which he felt quite intriguing.
How's that for a bucket full of roses? Rainer has a tendency to be a bit anal when it comes to precision, so he put sharp creases in his flowers LOL I still have lots of flax and I'm determined not to see it wasted.
Although the weather isn't great it is warm so it was time to fire up the grill.
What a nice Barbecue . It's the first time we've cooked on the grill since I got here. Had I known we had such a nice grill it would have been used more often.
Sorry no tour today but there is talk stay tuned.

Friday, November 15, 2013

NOV 14- Visit Mission Bay with me

For my friends in Southern California I have to tell you. I thought your Mission Bay was pretty. It pales in comparison to NZ Mission Bay.
Of course if I was retired and all I wanted to do was sit and watch the beautiful world go by, it would be where I would want to be..I don't think there homes are designed for artsy people...seems to be more beachy people. We already saw people sun bathing and it isn't exactly warm here yet. IN fact I've had a sweat shirt on for 2 days.
This is Mission Bay known for Rangitoto (sound it out and thats how you say it) Island which is a sleeping volcano.
The streets are lined with Pohutukawa tree's also known here as the Christmas tree, with it's fuzzy red flowers tipped with yellow. Giving it the appearance of being sprinkled with gold glitter.
Mission Bay is a city so most of the housing is condo. But beautiful!!!

Lots of wonderful places to eat. We found one  award winning place and I had Calamari  like I've never had it before..Delicious!!!
Tomorrow will be  more packing. Needless to say I have a lot of souvenirs . Still looking for that Tee-shirt that says" My MOm went to NZ and all I got was this crappy Tee Shirt"..Guess they will have to settle for other stuff. Just a few more days  left in paradise and I will be on my way home and back to snow and cold..Thank goodness for that woodburner :-)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NOV 13- Kelly Tarlton- WOW!!

Kelly Tarlton was an amazing NZ adventurer who wanted to share his adventure with the world. This sea world adventure was his dream. I found it sad that he spent so many years in the planning and building of this wonderful place and died shortly after it's opening.
Join me on a fabulous walk into the underwater world of Kelly Tarlton...

First we visited the Hut of Captain Robert Falcon. The real hut is located in Antarctica and has been there since 1911.Antarctic explorers spent 3 years living in this hut in the coldest,windiest, driest, place on earth.There were several displays, this is just two.
Then we had to walk through a moving ice tunnel..YIKES!!
We had to pass the penguin pool to get to the Giant stingray that was about to be fed.

How's that for a fun job.That is one big creature. She has been there for over 20 years and no one has ever been hurt or stung..I could have watched her swim for hours. Talk about a calm animal and friendly too.
Then it was on to another tank where I got to play with a live star fish, like the dead one Rainer found.
It's called a Cushion Star fish and unlike the spiny starfish we all know with long legs forming a star.
Guess what this is?
This guy was HUGE. If you said Lobster, try again. Lets just say "Don't order Crayfish in NZ if you are expecting mud bugs".
There were many, many fish to see and I especially loved swimming with the sharks.

and a sea turtle. But the best was yet to come. Time out to play before moving on to my favorite place.

BTW the turtle and the sharks mouth are actual size.If you think we were having fun, you are correct..but now for the real fun...I mean the whole place took my breath away and I have 214 pictures of the most gorgeous fish on the planet. But nothing compares to this experience..........

It was a joy to see the penguin's  swimming in there icy pool. but even better...

To see them up close and personal. This is a mated pair of Emperor Penguins.
This is a little Gentoo guy looking for attention LOL They have a breeding program and we were lucky enough to meet a couple in "courting mode"
How cute are they? Here's a young lady who isn't quite sure about the gift nature helped her produce.
There were many females nesting.
The males and females take turns sitting on the eggs. Males are tagged on the right flipper and females on the left. This young man gave a very educational talk about the penguins, but what we got the biggest kick out of was the little female that was very infatuated with him. It seems she was born there and while most of the other females have mates and are laying eggs, she is too young to breed and is very bored. Obviously he cures her boredom. It was adorable to see how she stayed right by his side looking up at him while all the other penguins busied themselves.
Note how she stares at him LOL He obviously enjoys his job and managed to get one of the guys to show us how they talk.
Each penguin is given a fish with a vitamin in it 3 X a day. Don't ask me how they keep track, but they do because one kept spitting it out , I kept an eye on it just to see if they would remember. Sure enough the handler went back and found that one and made it eat the fish.
Feeding the big guys.
and the little ones too.
What do you think of this fiddler Crab? He was bigger then my fist.

How about this blowfish?
Like I said, I took many, many pictures. It was a fabulous experience that would be hard to top.
I hope you enjoyed this journey. I sure did. I'll leave you with my favorite LOL 
No it isn't a headless penguin. He's molting and just happen to pull some feathers out when I snapped the picture. E noho ra (saying Good bye for now in Maori)