20 November 2009

Visitors landing soon!

View from Mt. Eden, originally uploaded by Shanti, shanti.

I'm not sure how much blogging I'm going to get done in the next two weeks as my parents are flying in from Los Angeles tomorrow morning. We are frantically tidying up things and generally making our house into a place for four rather than two!

We haven't seen them since they came to visit us in Japan although with blogs, Skype, Flickr, email, Twitter, etc. it's easy to forget how long it's been. We'll definitely do some fun tourist things, but I'm pretty sure there's going to be a lot of NZ wine and food ingested. I'd better get one last visit with my treadmill before this happens!

So, see ya later bloggies and readers! In the meantime you can enjoy this view of Auckland from the top of Mt. Eden. It's a dormant volcano in the city and I love walking round the crater rim or taking a picnic up there when it's warm.


P.S. Ireland were robbed! I hope they get that sorted out. how ridiculous!

16 November 2009


Love, originally uploaded by Shanti, shanti.

Just sending it out there to all you bloggers in the blog-o-sphere!

08 November 2009

Thank you Carol!

We recently had the pleasure of having two houseguests, one from Japan and one from Seattle, Washington in the US. An amazing time was had by all as we waxed lyrical about the beautiful things in life and spent a lot of time laughing and imbibing in lovely food and New Zealand wine and tea and more tea!

So, last week when a parcel arrived from one of the guests, Carol, I was really excited. What a great surprise! How the hell am I going to wait until Mr. P gets home to open it? Or should I peek now? Nope, I waited (although it almost killed me!).

When we finally cracked into the package we found a beautiful tea cozy, handmade from batik fabric. Being avid tea-drinkers, a tea cozy is something we've really been needing since we drink the stuff by the potfull. How thoughtful of Carol to remember this little detail about us and to spend time making such a nice, personal gift.

But wait, there's more! We couldn't believe that when we looked inside it was lined with...can it be?... sock monkey fabric!

Thank you Carol! We love it!

More pining for Vietnam

I really wish I was in Saigon right now. I want to go to my favourite coffee spot and pho shop. I want to drive round past the cathedral on a Sunday on my Honda Wave, and I want to go shopping in my favourite vegetable market.

Anyone else missing anywhere?

05 November 2009

The Single Story-Chimananda Ngozi Adichie

I saw this woman speak aat The Auckland Readers' and Writers' Festival this year. She's a great speaker and I was so impressed that I bought her book. This really resonates with me as having lived in so many countries and heard the "single story" so many times. My favourite part is when she said, "The problem with stereotypes is not that they are true, but that they are incomplete.".

03 November 2009

Frequent Flyer Freaks

I love airports.

I used to go to Auckland International for coffee sometimes just to see people come and go, listen to the islanders singing relatives off, and just soak up the atmosphere in general. But these days you have to pay for parking and it pretty much makes for an expensive coffee.

Every day that I go to work I drive past the turn off to the airport and on the way home I sometimes have a hard time keeping my car on the route home. Last week I actually did plan an afternoon in the airport. I decided that I'd use my laptop to catch up on some writing and have lunch.

Well, it turned out that the internet was not free (and I refuse to pay!)and my battery had died anyway, so I really just had an expensive lunch once you add in the parking. Ironically, it was good Japanese ramen though. I haven't even had ramen like that since I'd been back in NZ although the portion was a bit stingy.

When I started watching this doco I was surprised to find that Pico Iyer was in it. Apparently he is a frequent flyer mile geek, but he also stated that he'd spent a considerable amount of time in and around LAX at one point. Since I've always admired his writing and can relate to the way he sees things this sort of affinity with airports makes sense.

I know the frequent flyer phenomenon is something we miss out on living in a small country where you can't get much for short flights, but we do win big when going abroad since we're so far from everywhere. However, I would say that the people on this film are extreme. I really wonder what they do for a job. How do they have so much time for all this flying around to accrue miles? It's interesting nonetheless and just goes to show that there is a regular version and a geek version of everything, even travel.

Do you make use of air miles?

Frequent Flyer from Gabriel Leigh on Vimeo.

01 November 2009

Remembering the little things to remember myself

It's been a crazy week and I can't believe it's Friday. You know things are hectic when you go to bed on Monday night and then suddenly realise the week is over. It's easy to forget yourself. My husband and I moved to New Zealand 10 years ago and after a few years abroad in Vietnam and Japan we realised that New Zealand was calling us back. We missed the green and the fresh air, and the more relaxed lifestyle that doesn't happen in Japan and Saigon where life is quite full-on most of the time. Time to come home and start living at a healthy pace again. However...

A couple of days ago I read and commented on David Miller's article about raising chickens and it got me thinking about how, in the craziness of re-settling it's like my husband and I have forgotten why we came back. We spend our days rushing round to work, on errands, getting the shopping in, doing washing (Well, OK, he does most of the washing.) and pretty much occupying our time with thinking about the next jobs we've got to do. So, what the hell? I mean, we're living a Japanese style life right here in New Zealand.

I have this old photo of a tree covering our room in a guest house in Malaysia. A severe storm had passed through during the night and when we woke up, we had to remove this bloody tree that had been strewn across our entrance in order to get out. After all the hard work, we settled in to breakfast at a local cafe and then on our way back into the room we noticed a hornet on the wall outside. We only noticed it because we could actually hear it crunching. Loudly! We both stood there mesmerised by this hornet crunching on the wall and then spitting it up in order to make its nest. After about 5 minutes of this we decided to get comfortable. We pulled a couple of stools out of the room and sat ther for no less than 45 minutes watching this little thing work. It's the kind of situation that you emerge from feeling like you've had a nap. You are aware that your blood pressure has gone down and there is a clarity in you thinking.

Why did I write this? Well, that's where I want to be. Back in that mindspace where time is elastic and the smallest things encompass the brain to the point that you realise all this stuff we occupy ourselves with is not necessarily what we need. I want to regain a clarity of thought and a relaxed feeling about life. I know me. I know I get this from meditation or creativity.

This afternoon I'm leaving my computer and all the stuff in the house behind to take some closeup photos. Then, when I get home, I'm going to find that photo of the guesthouse room with the tree covering it to remind me that what I can't see is the little hornet that taught me how to return to myself.