Thursday, May 19, 2016

You Can't Make this Stuff Up

Awhile back i wrote a post on crazy things we couldn't fathom in Dubai (read about home life here and driving fears here)

Although NZ is vastly different from Dubai there are some things we still have hard time believing about NZ.  
The Scenery.  Really.  Can't make it up.  It does not seem fair that one country ended up with so much beauty. 
The colours are ridiculous 


and they have the best clouds ever!


Feijoas:  A much coveted fruit in season for a short time.  Locals rave about them.  The fruit is harvested only once it has fallen off the tree.  You scoop out the inside flesh and eat it with a spoon.  My kids will objectively sample any food and generally take a liking to it.  This is the one fruit i can honesty say NO ONE in our family cares for.  This of course immediately gives us away as foreigners.   Trust me though, I've tried.  i feel a sense of obligation to eat them now that we have a house with multiple trees.  i've baked with them, hidden tried them in various recipes and every time my family asks skeptically, "You put feijoas in this didn't you?!" and then it is left uneaten.  i have added sugar, spice, apples, coconut, made them into muffins and all sorts of various baked goods but there is just no hiding their flowery soapy flavour.  i am sure in the US they would sell great as a hand sanitizer fragrance.  i have recently manage to find ONE recipe i actually enjoy them in.  The ingredients include lime juice, sugar and tequila.  i have wisely decided against consuming all our feijoas as margaritas though.  i've surrender and now deliver bags of these fragrant fruit to our neighbours and friends.   They are so amazed we are willing to give up such a precious commodity and consider me a sacrificial and generous friend.

Pies:  They are a staple of the kiwi diet and consist of MEAT.   If you are asked to bring a pie to someone's house definitely positively do NOT bring a fruit pie.  Fruit pies are about as odd here as a meat pie is in the US.


Netball:  The game itself is great as far as i know.  (Think basketball but NO backboard and players are NOT allowed to dribble.)  i still don't know all the rules but my girl has really taken a liking to it.  i just don't know why it is an outdoor sport played in the rainy winter season and girls are required to wear sleeveless dresses as uniforms.  Games are only cancelled if there is lightening.  Rain, wind and hail on the other hand are all acceptable playing conditions.   Every Thursday, once the Autumn rainy season starts,  parents schlep out to the courts in rain boots, umbrellas and big black puffer jackets to watch our girls run around in cold soggy weather in dresses.  i was told once, "It is how we make our kids tough."  True enough.  Riley doesn't ever complain.  She looks forward to the one day guaranteed every week to rain.. .game day.  (Even as i write this it is Thursday and nearing game time and it is RAINING!)   Honestly, it's ME who doesn't love cheering on a game shivering on the side lines because obviously i wasn't raised Kiwi tough.



Sinks:  These tiny two faucet sinks are everywhere.  The bowl is hardly big enough to fit your hand in.  We still haven't figured out exactly how to best use them.  The red one spills out burning hot water and the blue puts out freezing cold water.  There is no mixer and they are spaced too far apart to try to mix the water yourself.  You get one choice.  It is only in the winter we really struggle with this.  Hands are icy cold and you really need to wash them.  What do you chose... Freezing or Scalding?  Chris is a fanatic about using warm water to wash his hands so it is quite comical watching him trying to mix the 2 by splashing water back and forth between both hands.



Dyers:  IF you have a clothes dryer (some don't) it is most likely to be kept in the garage.  If you are fortunate enough to find a home that actually has a laundry room inside the house, your dryer will very likely be hung upside down.  It is made to function both ways.  Right side up or upside down making it functional in either hemisphere.   



Trash Day:  Driveways are often long and steep.  On trash days we load all the rubbish and recycle into our car and drive it to the top for the garbage man to collect.



Sandflies: aka NZ's vampires.  i just recently met and richly fed them.  It didn't take me long to learn how much i despise them.  They look like mosquitoes but are 100x worse.  They attack you and can bit through denim.  Their bite causes an intense itching which will last a full week,  longer if you scratch them.  Turns out when your body temperature is nice and warm the itch intensifies.  Which means when you are cozy in bed in the middle of the night you will wake up wanting to scratch you skin off.  Horrible little buggers!



Mushrooms:  They come in all colours including purple!  You may have to take a walk in the south island to find them but they do exists.


Flat Whites:  Coffee here is AHmazing.  Completely understand now why they think Starbucks is a joke.


Screens:  NZ has no screens on any windows.  "Bring the Outdoors in!"  "Outdoor Living at its Best!"  This is a mixed bag for me.  i love that homes have windows and walls that completely retract and create the feeling of open space.  The walls literally disappear when opened all the way.

With that said, when the windows are closed there are guaranteed casualties as children, adults and small pets collide into those same windows that are no longer open.  Our current record is 3 in less than 3 hours.   


But the most frustrating thing of all are the creatures that find their way into our home.   Since there are no air conditioners we constantly have all windows open to cool the house in the summer.  There are the constant flies we have to live with along with the moths and mozzies (mosquitos) at night.  We find insects on our hair brushes and dishes.  



We have at times had random cats curled up in our bed and roaming our halls.  (This is a huge offence to the highly allergic cat hater in the house.)  But nothing beats the birds.   We have chased, trapped and released multiple birds while living here.


Some stories are worth telling even at the expense of one's own dignity.



We moved homes in December and much of the house was still packed in boxes.   The kids did managed to set up a Christmas tree and a Christmas village.






i had just stepped out of the shower when i heard a blood curdling scream coming from downstairs.  "MAAAAAWWMMM!"  i grab a towel dripping wet, wrapped it around myself and raced downstairs expecting to see blood everywhere.  Instead i see a girl frantically trying to rescue a large and frightened bird from the confines of our home.  It was desperately trying to find an escape path somewhere between the Christmas tree and Christmas village.  The only problem there was no possible exit in that corner of the house.  In case you didn't know this, when birds are frightened they crap A LOT and incessantly.  i frantically look around the bare room for something to catch the bird with as it continually crashes into the closed windows and peppers our Christmas cheer with droppings.  In my quick thinking i whipped the towel off my still dripping body and begin chasing the large bird around the house praying desperately this isn't the time our neighbours decide to take a peek into our windows to get a look at the new neighbours.


They would have been traumatized by the frightful sight.  It was carnage.  A bird pooping everywhere while smashing itself into every closed window in sight.  A little girl continually crying out, "Mommy! Help him!" A naked and wet mommy jumping over half empty boxes in pursuit of a bird with a towel in her hands yelling back, "Open all the windows!"  Teen boy enters the room and wants to know what the noise is all about.  He jumps in the chase in an effort to keep the bird from going further into the house.   (Apparently he doesn't find it too disturbing that mom is running around the house naked chasing a bird...)  Finally i am able to corner the bird and trap it in my towel.  i walk to the open slider and release the bird not sure if i am feeling proud of my accomplishments or complete humiliation as i realize the open window was of course the one facing all my new neighbours.   i wrap the towel back around myself with what little dignity i can muster and we start the "hunt for crap and clean it" task.  



Just another unbelievable day in paradise.