In these final weeks in my little Antarctic hometown of Dunedin, I've been trying to take in as much of the glorious architecture as possible. This isn't just something I do when I'm leaving, like a lover who is only attentive when there's been a fight, but something I always do. When I was a child, my favourite activity was Sunday 'drives' with Mom, with the hope of coming across open homes. Usually we would mock the homes, and the inhabitants (after leaving of course!), but occasionally we found real gems and would construct elabourate fantasies about what our lives might be like if we lived there.
Now, people will tell you that a home will not change your life. I've lived in all kinds of homes, and I'm here to tell you that's not simply not true. A home has an indelible effect on your character, and vice versa. But more vice. This home belongs to a rather private man, whose name I will not mention for that reason, but I will say that I once bought a fantastic brown station wagon off him and more importantly, I've many times purchased his home hot-smoked salmon. It is the best salmon in the world. I say this without reservation, as it would be completely impossible for there to be a better food than this salmon. It only goes for sale when he happens to have some, and I am known to throw previous financial plans (ha!) to the wind in order to purchase a kilo of it. As a result of this, once while living in a fridge on Warden Street, Anthony and I had (in the way of food stuffs) a grand total of:
3 casks of red wine (kindly given to Anthony for his birthday from 3 friends who know him all too well).
1 Kilo of hot-smoked salmon.
I called my Mom in a starved, drunk panic "Mom, can we come to dinner? And can you pay for the petrol? All we have to eat is wine and salmon."
The strange wooden room above used to be a bathroom - and apparently someone was once murdered in it.
Where the magic happens - the hot smoking salmon room (above).
Kilos of the pink gold! At this point I am almost tearing open those packages with my bare hands.
Mr. White. I think I can safely say that "Mr. White" is the owner's favourite creature of any description to ever live. And I can see why!
A neat little stack of art works on the veranda. The owner tells me: "all the art is in this house is by my friends."
And below, the scene of a raging party the night previous.
"A monkeys wedding" is a common South African expression for a 'sunshower' - the 'phenomenon' in which rain falls while the sun is shining.
I recommend reading the wikipedia article about them, because not only will you be graced with a photograph of "a sunshower over a parking lot" (location unknown...) but you'll also find out all kinds of facts and tidbits about different folkloric names for sunshowers. Often they involve animals marrying.
Example: In Bulgaria it is the bears getting married, and in Korea it is a male tiger marrying a fox.
After a walk in the 'bracing' wind, we settled down beside a fire, with cups of tea, a burger, venison bangers 'n' mash and a lamb shank. Lucky little brats.
This previous week the small island nation of New Zealand finally achieved it's lifelong dream of making it onto BBC World Service ... for being a nation harboring the boring, racist dullard Paul Henry and for his remarks about whether our next Governor General would "look" and "sound" more like a real New Zealander (you know, not a darkie!).
Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, a horrifying percentage of New Zealanders support Henry and his 'calling a spade a spade' approach and are now heralding him as a martyr to the PC brigade. He's resigned, but I'm fairly sure (and terrified) he'll be doing something else, and perhaps worse, soon. Maybe a Paul Henry travel show.
My mom, a German-born dual citizen, made this interesting remark about the whole debacle: "You know, within a few years of arriving in New Zealand, when I was filling out the census forms, I could tick the "NZ European" box. It's crazy, there is "NZ European" and "Maori", but even if you're a fifth generation Chinese New Zealander, you just have to tick "Chinese". There's no "NZ Chinese", or even "NZ Samoan" for that matter." Wow mom, like usual, you're awesome and pointing out once again how institutions perpetuate Henry's way of thinking about what constitutes a New Zealander.
I haven't seen a census form in a few years, but I'd be really amazed if it had changed. And if there was an effort to change it, it would have to be done undemocratically.
p.s. People who think Paul Henry is a comedian, need to get out more, get funnier friends and watch better comedy (I recommend: Stephen Fry, John Safran and Margaret Cho).
By "my boyfriend" I am referring to that beautiful white magnolia tree, not the car, although I would probably date him too, if I wasn't so hopelessly devoted to this tree here.
I've been watching this tree with baited breath over the last few weeks waiting for the little green buds (pictured below) to open into magnificent flowers, so you can imagine my ridiculous joy when I strolled out of the outside bathrooms, broom in hand, to see the whole tree exploding it's beauty all over the place, bukake style.
I screamed "Oh my God! Hi!" and then looked around to make sure no one was there to observe me speaking to a tree. Once the coast was clear, I whispered sweet nothings I won't repeat here.
I've been fanatical about magnolias for some time, and last night my adorable teacher friend Kate came over bearing beautiful paintings of red pandas (of her own doing) and a block of green & blacks chocolate. Kate really knows what's good. Anyway, she told me an amazing story about people in China finding these ancient little ceramic pots with rice grains in them, and in amongst the rice was a seed - and the seed was for an ancient magnolia tree, like 1000 years old. This just happened recently. I couldn't find anything on it, but I did find this wikipedia page (ok, not very impressive), which confirms that my tree really is the fairest of them all (except two hotties I saw in Albert Park Auckland, which come first equal).
Also, this is the oldest Magnolia tree in Massachusetts.
Most impressively, there are magnolia trees in the precincts of Chinese temples (in China) estimated to be over 800 years old. (I can't really wrap my head around this fact, and would probably swoon and hyperventilate if I got to see one of these beauties IRL).
Here's my baby again:
Here he is just hangin' beside the conservatory. So pretty. xo