- Cool thing: We swim in the lake most lunchbreaks. Ahhhh, incredibly refreshing.
- It is weird living so far from a shop. We bought what we thought was a week's worth of groceries but they have lasted five days and we are out.
- We have been working pretty long hours. I now know the difference between a 30 hour week and a 50 hour week. I am so tired right now, physically tired.
- It's awesome though. I am glad we did it.
not so secret squirrels
thoughts from my new home
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Excerpt from Freida's final chapter:
In the garden I threw the bags over the fence to Jonno, who was waiting to catch them. The driveway still seemed too dangerous, despite nobody being at the house.
“Tai’s still sleeping,” he whispered as he helped me down from the tree.
“Good,” I said. We crept back up towards the car and packed the things away. Jonno took the driver’s seat so I walked around to the passenger door and got in. We looked at each other, the whites of our eyes glowing in the darkness.
“Ready?” he asked. I nodded. He hesitated before turning the ignition, and just as the engine came to life, we heard a sound that threw us both into panic. Sirens, far away now but getting closer and louder with every second. Jonno threw the car into reverse and launched it onto the road. The sirens sounded like they were coming from Coromandel; he took the chance and headed in the opposite direction, headlights off and speed well beyond the legal limit. I clung to the handle on the inside of the door. Tai was screaming in fright but neither of us could begin to placate him. We swung around corner after corner, until eventually we headed down the hill towards the
“Driven these roads so many times,” he said. But it didn’t make me feel better at all.
Eventually we found ourselves at Tapu, about halfway around the coast road to
“What now?” I said.
“We should lay low I guess.” He got out of the car and walked away into the darkness. I leaned back against my seat, eyes closed, and waited for the tears to stop coming. When I had finally composed myself I took off my seatbelt and turned around to look at Tai again. He was staring out the window, a wild look on his face. His little hands were clutching the sides of his car seat. I reached over and stroked the fingers of his right hand. He regarded me thoughtfully, then looked down at my fingers. We waited like that in silence until Jonno came back. He opened the car door and got in.
“Where are we?” I asked.
“There’s a little bay further up that way, you can get to it along the side of the river. I saw a bach there and it looks like it’s empty.”
“What if it’s not?”
“It is; I looked in the windows. There are no cars anywhere nearby and the place is deserted. The bathroom window has louvers; I can easily get them out, then Ill open the door.”
I didn’t like the idea but I didn’t know what else to do. We had already broken so many laws it seemed fruitless to stop now. And we needed somewhere to put Tai down for the night, somewhere inconspicuous and safe. Sleeping in the car didn’t seem like a good option. Jonno turned the car back on and drove across the grass, parking it close to the hedge that grew alongside the footpath. Anyone walking down the road would not be able to see it and it was blocked from view by anyone driving by too, but if they pulled into the picnic spot it would be obvious. Jonno assured me that this wasn’t a main road, so picnickers were unlikely, at least until the weekend.
We took Tai and the bags and walked along the banks of the river. I could hear small waves breaking in the distance. When we reached the beach, the tide was out and my nostrills filled with the smells of seaweed and dead shellfish. But as promised, the little bach was empty. It was small and perched on the scrubby grass above the sand. Behind it was a clutch of trees, so we wouldn’t easily be seen from the road. It was a good hiding place, but as Jonno pointed out, the owners could arrive at any time. We had to be prepared to make a quick getaway, again.
After Jonno had broken us in, I put Tai to bed in the bedroom, tucking him in with his blanket and cat and singing him a hurried lullaby that I could see even he knew was futile. Jonno was sitting in a ragged armchair when I got back. The bach was made up of three rooms: the bedroom, the open-plan living space and kitchen, and a tiny bathroom that seemed to have been tacked on as an afterthought, probably when the owners got sick of hiking to the outhouse at the back of the property, which was still there but had half fallen down. I sat in the other chair, a threadbare Lazyboy covered in a rough, green fabric that itched my skin through my trousers. My entire body felt drained; my legs ached. I groaned, pulling the fingers of both hands through my hair and rubbing my skull. It had been a long day. Jonno didn’t react; his unblinking gaze concentrated towards the windows, where we could see the sun beginning to rise over the water. It was actually quite beautiful, but I didn’t have the energy to appreciate it. As if reading my thoughts, Jonno got up and pulled the curtains over the windows, muttering to himself. Without saying anything to him, I slumped to the bedroom, and was falling into unconsciousness within seconds, one arm tucked around Tai's small, warm waist.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
So, we have been here just over two months now and sometimes I feel as though I could stay, sometimes I feel as though I would love to go. We visited the mountain town of Revelstoke and that got us excited for the small town feeling. The quiet, the mountains, the opportunities that come with a limited population. And then we came back and we had our first day volunteering up Grouse Mountain for the wildlife refuge - and we were all about Vancouver again.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I do love my new home. I could definitely write more than ten reasons why, but here is the short list.
- The 8-4 working day. Ingenious. It doesn’t feel so much like an 8-hour day when you finish while it’s still light and have a few shopping hours left to run errands. I feel like this is part of what casts a happy feeling over the city – the people have a life outside of their offices, which doesn’t just involve going home to the box.
- Which brings me to another point – the shops are open at night. This might not seem like a big deal if you are from anywhere but
, where there is late night shopping one night per week in some malls. Just about everywhere in New Zealand closes at 5; this isn’t much help when you finish work at the same time. Auckland
- The view from my apartment window. And from pretty much everywhere. I can’t get enough of the combination of crisp grey and white mountains and deep, glacial blue sea, especially when coupled with the deep forest green of the trees at
. Stanley Park
- Wild Spring flowers. This has only just begun to happen. Little irises and tulips poking their heads out of the ground wildly and haphazardly, wherever there is some dirt to grow from. I also appreciate the lack of rubbish on the streets, at least in the area where I live – and the way people are so big on recycling here.
- The movie store actually pays me to bring back my DVDs on time. And if I don’t, well that’s okay too. They’ll just call after a while and offer me the opportunity to buy the movies instead. No more late fees or hurrying to return a one-night new release rental before the following day! Yay!
- The public transport in
is around 60% easier to use and more efficient than that in Vancouver . I like the way you can transfer to another bus/train/ferry with the same ticket if you use it 90 minutes or less after you first traveled. It makes sense to make transit cheap and easy. Auckland
- In my hometown, when you finish your drink you usually have to go back up to the bar to get another one, unless you are in a swanky establishment. In
, the waitress or bartender offers you another before you have even drained the first. That’s service (and one up to tipping). Vancouver
- When you walk around downtown
you get this sense of warm relaxation from the people walking past you…Apart from the odd ranting panhandler. I also love the range of ethnicities and how integrated they all are into the population. The range of food – a product of the multicultural society – is also a huge plus! Vancouver
- I love snow, so when everyone else is moaning about the mid March snowfall I am that one smiling as they walk down the street, passing my gloved hand over the dusted shrubs on the way and sticking my arm out to catch the small, quick-melting flakes.
- Being able to snowboard in powder 45 minutes from my downtown apartment, which is in the middle of the city and yet also 5 minutes from a huge park. How cool is that? Can I also just add that I love Mounties?
So, hate is definitely too strong a word, but there are movie references to consider here. These are ten things I don’t understand about my new home.
- Cheques. Most of the world left cheques behind a long time ago, but for some reason
North Americaclings to them. I had never heard the concept of giving your landlord post-dated cheques for the next few months rent – until I came here. I don’t mind doing it, but it’s just that an automatic payment direct from my bank account to his would be easier and less time-consuming for all concerned.
- I have a temp job as a mail trolley clerk – a position I had never even heard of before coming here. Surely most of this correspondence could be carried out over email.
- Toilet stalls. Why don’t the doors reach the floor, or at least somewhere near it? I find it disconcerting when I can see someone else’s pants rolled around their ankles in the stall next to me.
- The other day I was walking past a taxi that had just pulled up, when the passenger opened the door, stepped out and spat at the ground near my feet. I would understand the spitting if this was the Wild West, but I have been to
and I didn’t see as much saliva there. Is there a bad taste in your mouth Wyoming ? Vancouver
- This is one for
North Americain general: why add tax afterwards instead of including it in the labeled price?
- The shootings are pretty scary, especially for a girl who comes from a country where police don’t even carry guns. I understand this is all quite unusual for
, or at least I get that feeling by how widely it is covered in the newspapers, but that doesn’t stop it from being worrying. Vancouver
- Maybe it’s because it isn’t prevalent in
, but I have noticed that absolutely everyone says ‘you’re welcome’ after you say thank you to them. Which isn't a bad thing, just different! New Zealand
- The people at the phone company are idiots, but I think that is worldwide.
- The way almost every store is part of a chain is a bit unimaginative. I seek out the independents, but sometimes it’s difficult. I have even occasionally used what I thought was an independent outlet, only to find another one further down the street.
- Over 200 Starbucks. Almost every street corner is encumbered with those monstrous green and white signs, with laptop users in every window. Up the road from me there are two Starbucks directly across the intersection from one another…It’s like that episode of The Simpsons…
Sunday, March 1, 2009
About two weeks ago me and my husband Simon moved to Vancouver from our hometown of Auckland, New Zealand. We live close to Stanley Park, which is a bonus. There are all sorts of animals that live there, which make me happy. I was thinking today that I probably won't even notice them after a while...but for now the squirrels and raccoons and herons and Canadian geese are a thrill. Today we bought some walnuts and fed some squirrels. It was raining - as it often is in Vancouver - so there weren't many around, but the ones that came out to brave the rain were pretty stoked with our walnuts. We later learned it was illegal to feed them - oops! We saw one that was holding his tail over his head like an umbrella. He was a more seasoned Vancouverite than us, who forgot to bring any wet weather gear on our walk.