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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sausage Sizzle

Here in New Zealand, no gathering is complete without a "sausage sizzle". Whether it is a school function, sports team party, family gathering or fundraiser, sausages will be the main attraction. It is the equivalent to pizza at American gatherings. There is a distinct science to the "sausage sizzle". The only type of sausage available here is a low cost, pureed meat sausage with very little flavor added. The sausage is grilled on a propane "grill" that consists of a flat iron surface creating a frying pan. The sausage is then wrapped in a piece of heavily buttered bread, tomato sauce is slathered on, it is stuck in a serviette (napkin) and handed to you. After being here for 10 months I have buttered more bread than I can remember and turned as many sausages on the grill. I am amazed at the amount of sausages that are consumed each time. I will not be sad to say "goodbye" to sausages when we leave New Zealand, but I will miss the activity of making and eating the sausages in a group of people!

No Worries - Kris

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A visit from home!

We had a fabulous time when my parents were able to come visit us this summer. The kids and I drove up to Auckland and picked my parents up from the airport. We had so looked forward to this visit with them. We took them on a whirl-wind tour of the North Island visiting Waitomo caves, Rotorua, and driving home through Lake Waikeremoana.
I had not yet driven the road through the lake mountains but had heard it was something I needed to do while here. Looking at the map I decided that this would be the route home despite the fact that we were going through very windy mountain roads, 50 miles of it unsealed (gravel) in a 9 passenger van. I began to get a little worried as we crossed a sealed (paved) bridge and realized we were still bumping up and down. A glance in the rearview mirror confirmed my suspissions. We had a flat tire. There was no shoulder to pull over on so we just stopped 1/2 way between two curves and began the change. Fortunately another car did come by and help my dad change the tire!
During the 2 weeks at our house my parents got to take a helicopter ride, see dolphins in the ocean, play on the beach, hike, sit in hot pools, and visit Gisborne and Napier. We had friends over to meet them and enjoyed showing them our little town. We dined on fish n' chips, fresh lobster caught by Chad, fresh vension from a friend and pippies (small clams) from another friend. It felt so good to share our life with my parents. Now talking on the phone is so different as they can actually picture what I am talking about or where I am sitting.
After 2 1/2 weeks Elena & I took them to Wellington for a few days. Blondely following GPS we did another crazy route with my dad hanging on for dear life in the passanger seat! I was able to see more things in Wellington including riding the cable car up the mountain and exploring the coast.
Leaving them at the airport was especially difficult. As Elena said "goodbye" and turned around to leave, the tears began trickling down her cheeks. I picked her up and quietly walked to the car. During the 8 hours driving home I began to wonder it my parents had really been here or was it all just a very good dream? We miss our family and friends from MI so much yet I realize that when we leave here there are people we will miss dearly as well. A little part of us has been left in each place we have lived. But I would rather have a bit of me enriched and left than not have those special times with people in the first place.

No Worries - Kris

Sunday, March 8, 2009

the A&P show

I love going to the fair in the summer but I was amazed at how I felt as if I had stepped back into time watching the events of the fair here in Wairoa as people show-cased the skills they used every day on their stations. Here in New Zealand the fair is called the A&P show. Agriculture and Pastoral.

The kids and I headed over on Fri. afternoon to catch the very beginning horse events. We met some friends from England and looked in amazement at the spread they had set out to nibble on all afternoon. The Europeans really know how to picnic in style. We settled in on the blankets and enjoyed a lazy summer afternoon under a big tree watching English style ridding, dressage, and jumping.

In the evening we headed back as a family to watch the speed shearing competition. What fun! The sheep just laid there limply when the shearers grabbed them and began shearing. The music was going getting everyone into it and the announcer sounded a bit like an auctioneer! The winner sheared his sheep in only 19 sec! On Sat. the sheep shearing continued all day with team events and timed trials seeing how many sheep one person could shear in a set time period.

On Sat. morning we fought the crowds (o.k. no crowds, this is Wairoa!) to get into the fairgrounds to see a horse show we Americans could identify with - the Rodeo! Bull fighting, barrel racing, calf roping all done in Western style. Some ranchers still use horses to round up their sheep although many have switched over to 4 wheelers.

Taking a break from the sun we headed into the domestics barn and found several women spinning the wool fleece into yarn. Several more women were in rocking chairs knitting the wool into sweaters. A room near by had the fleece (wool from the sheep) entrants and the winners.

I also had an entry in the domestics barn. I had been working on a Crazy Quilt for the past 1 1/2 years finishing just 2 weeks before the A&P show. Some friends suggested that I enter the quilt into the show. What fun to win 1st place in patchwork! Well, there wasn't very much competition but it was still a very rewarding experience. I am beginning to feel like I really fit in here. I gave the quilt to my mom when they arrived for a visit.

Just outside the domestics barn the "iron man" competition was going on. Teams of 3 had to do a variety of events including sheep shearing, wood chopping, hay bale rolling, pig carrying and other such things.

As we were heading back towards the main strip we stopped to watch the dog trials. Each trial took between 10-15 min. as the dog steered a group of sheep through a course. It was fascinating to watch these dogs work the sheep. The master typically carried a cane. He rarely lifted the cane but occasionally used it to create a visual barrier causing the sheep to walk in a different direction. The sheep were truly not interested in walking through a course. They would much rather eat grass. The patience of the farmer was amazing as well.

To finish up our day we watched some wood-chopping. If you won a round of wood-chopping you could enter the next round with a 9 sec. penalty. If you watch the man in the front of this video he had just won 4 rounds giving him a 27 sec. penalty. There was a 3 way tie for first in this round. Watch the blocks of wood as they split in half.

We were tired as we headed back to the car for the 5 min. drive home. It was fun to see all the things going on around us in every day life.

No Worries - Kris

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Agrodome

We walked into the hall and waited. Grandma, Grandpa, Damon, Maddie, Mom and I. There were a bunch of sheep lined up, I guessed they were probably going to use them for the show. There was one that looked old - like an old man, gross, and most of all dirty! And there was of course one that looked like he did not want to get dirty at all and he looked as though he was a statue just waiting for someone to take a photo of him!
We sat down and there were about 20 places for sheep to stand for the show. A man walked out and he introduced us to the first sheep (the old man one!) The sheep knew what to do. He raced right up to the top where his food was! The man said this kind of wool was really good and used for lots of things like sweaters. It w
as Merino - the number one best wool sheep in New Zealand.
After he was done with the sheep he brought out some dogs and because he could not use real sheep for the dog to round up on the little stage he brought out some ducks! There are two kin
ds of farm dogs. "Hunt away" dogs are the most commonly used (they bark and that makes the sheep go away). There are also the heading dogs. Instead of barking they stay low and go around to direct the sheep in different directions. He asked for some volunteer kids so I raised my hand and he asked me to come up! Some others came up too and a lady gave us some bottles filled with milk. Then he said when I say "GO" we will have a race to drink them! Ready and "GO" the lady opened up a door and about 10 lambs came racing out! Each one of them raced to a different bottle! They drank those bottles sooo fast and it was fun feeding them! After that he sheered a sheep and then the show was done!

- Elena