Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Reconstruction of the Family Breen

Yes, it’s been a week of unpacking and trying to put the Breen smell into the new digs. Nothing smells (er says) home like your own furniture, disassembled in a thousand little pieces to be sure and scattered thru many mislabeled boxes. The casualty count was small and so I am thankful for that. We had a visitor the very first day of unloading! Bio Custom Controls was keen to send a Representative to “help” us unpack a certain quantity of boxes set aside from the dock. I am terrified that he may come across the half empty jar of Apple Jelly that was packed by my favorite packer back home –Peter. A word of caution for those who hire out the task; these are not Rocket Scientists who come and wrap your gear. Peter was um, an old stoner, smelling of stale beer who I got into a fight with because I came home one day to find my dishwasher cutlery caddy missing and presumably in one of 30 kitchen boxes. I asked him to unpack said boxes and look for the damn thing since I had no need of it here. Ah, the moaning and bitching that went along with it. He made it thru 6 boxes before he came back and stoutly refused to go on any further. Packing is an art and the “artist” was getting belligerent with me about me ruining his creative process. Fine, I rolled my eyes and said a few choice words about this and left again lest I start to choke him. Bad move as he then proceeded to pack *everything * on the “no go” list to NZ. Bastard! I didn’t find this out until I came home the final day to see the storage can sealed and did a walkthrough our house. This is the weird part as he decided that contraband spices should be in that container but not our Wii, PS2, rollerblades, bowls, Bed skirt and BBQ Rotisserie. We packed those things in our suitcases and wondered what the chances were for being searched after the discovery of a large metal spear hidden in the kids clothes. So to recap; an opened jar of Apple Jelly made it into the C-can and various spices, crackers and noodles but my bowls and bedding did not, huh.

Ok so back to the unpack and that. I was absolutely sure that we were going to get nailed with the food discovery from Bio Security. I was at the house first thing while the movers were unpacking the truck and just as swiftly I was pouring out contents of all boxes labeled “Kitchen”. About 10 minutes before our guest arrived I had bingo-ed the jelly (and lets just say Ew at the thought of this jar sitting in the heat for 8 weeks ok?) My anger with Peter the Packer actually turned into love as I have discovered here that many of my Spices are not available here in NZ. For a country that prides itself on the BBQ life I have not been able to procure any Steak Spice –Montreal or otherwise. I swear it was like a Martha Christmas for me to unwrap all matters of meat rubs and sprinkles to decorate the cookies I one day imagine I will have time to bake. Peter also threw in a half empty bag of Twizzlers (Yeah! Another missing link here) and a bottle of my “special” coffee cream of the Irish variety. Peter is now reaching god like status in my mind. So I was in a pretty happy frame of mind when I met the Bio Security guy in the garage and started opening selected boxes. I mean what could happen now? Um, well Jenn, they could make you take out every Christmas decoration that you own (and for those of you who have seen my collection and love of all things Xmas you will know I come to this country with at least a dozen large bins of Jolliness). Uhg! Why are you touching my stuff? What are you looking for, cocaine, pot, or maybe a meth lab? No. Pine cones, he is searching for pine cones. What North American Christmas wreath, garland, or topiary doesn’t come with pine cones? Alrightee then, there I am with wire cutters removing all my pine cones. There were too many for the bag he brought with him so I grudgingly gave him another one and filled that too with my pine cones and funny twiggy stuff that was on some of my decorations. My giant Father Christmas is now standing empty handed as we have ripped out the staff and wreath from his hands. Boo! Was at one point thinking of offering our “guest” a snack of English Muffin and Apple Jelly. What??? It was just a thought.

The house bits are slowly coming together. We have carved out a small area in the living room to relax in. The downstairs has not been unpack as Chris has taken out all the carpeting down there and is planning on putting in new flooring at some point. After he builds a new wall and entertainment unit down there. (of course!) Sure! It seems rather daunting to be taking on home reno projects in the midst of moving countries but hey, that’s how he rolls. I have my spices and Irish Cream and Timmy all is well.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Breen's Go on a Walkabout Canadain Style

Driving around any city only gives you so much perspective on what a country is about, do you agree? Chris had a week of work to do in New Plymouth so seeing as the brood was on Spring Break we packed up (again!!) and off in the car we drove ( Chris stoutly refused my offers to drive -strange one he is!) The countryside is truly what is New Zealand though. In a normal trip to N.P it would take a person about 4 1/2 hours to get thru the winding countryside..the Breens made it in 7. I guess the thing is we were stopping every half hour to look around us and like the tourists we are, we gamely pulled under recent rock slides to let loose the kids and myself. Chris shook his head at us as we barreled down single laned highway center lines and scrambled down steep embankments trying to get the allusive sheep to play with us. The closest we ever got to petting the local wild life was the dead opossums that littered the road.. they are lovingly called "NZ's little speed bumps". Very much a problem around here much like the ground squirrels of the prairies. They make a fantastic exit though, like some one had a furry pillow fight on the road!

Driving thru the countryside is very much like being shrunk and put into a model train set. You know the ones that i am talking about? I guess my reasoning on this is that everywhere you look it's perfect. I know people who construct these landscapes try to make it look random and thus natural but dispersing floral and fauna about the track and wee farm animals but to me, it almost always looks contrived in it's seeming randomness. The NZ country side is no different with perfect scenes of forest with a palm reaching above the conifers every couple of meters and rolling hills added along with the greenest of grasses. Vines hang along the narrow roads where you would maybe find exposed rock facing along the Rockies back home. Here the rock is covered with vines making exact patterns and tree routes throw in for extra interest. As a side note to all you gardeners out there all that wonderful "special" grasses and flowers we buy to showcase our backyards are abundant here. Wild Calla lilly patches and hydrengia plants are everywhere and God has added Miracle Grow to *everything*. Who needs to bring a book to read while on their travels out here? I have to add one more thing on this though - the roads. If anyone out here decided to build a road that was straight for more than half a kilometer i would kiss them. Day two at the motel found me with the sorest of asses. I could not, for the life of me, figure out *why* my hamstrings and glutes were so sore. Snicker away people... It was on my way back going into hairpin turn one after the other that i noticed that my body was keeping it's balance by tightening either my right butt cheek or left depending on the turn. Ahhh... it was quite the workout as unlike Chris i had no wheel to hold onto but apparently was doing my best to drive along with him. After 2 hours into our return drive i was moaning and giggling with muscle fatigue.

It is my theory now as to the other much wider popular theory of why women have what is called "Dairy Ass" here. There seems to be a trend amoungst the Kiwi women here to have a "slightly" larger bum than in other countries. A co worker of Chris's has mentioned the phenom. of Dairy Ass and the love of all things Dairy here that women tend to consume. Tis true enough as I have found that Cheese has become a new passion for me. I have even gone out to buy the Handy Dandy Cheese board and accompanying knife set. I have gorged on wheels of Brie, Camabert, smokey cheddars, and cream spreads. I tend to think though that really what makes ones boot the size of a boat out here is the endless hills that we seem to have to climb to walk around the city. It's a workout every day for me AND, no doubt, it's a lot of fun to watch me do this athletic feat in my 4 inch heels... I especially like the visual of me going downhill in my black thigh high boots.

New Plymouth is a small town but spread out quite a bit. It has that low building costal town feel with its endless boutiques and coffee shops. That's one thing here in NZ that you won't really find a lot of.. box stores. There are a few wider known Mega marts but mostly everything is independent. The one thing that remains constant in all our travels so far is McDonalds. You *think* you know what McDonalds is about until you visit here. They all are about the Mc Cafes. It's an added feature in every spot that has loads of different squares and muffins to go with your Flat Whites and Short Black coffee. It's like a Starbucks put into every Mc D's. I have to admit they are very competitive with the bakeries here and you won't be finding any of those disgusting Ronald animal cookies.

The kids are back at school this week and Ronin is starting his first day of his NZ education. The biggest bit of advice i could offer him is not to be sat on by some Maori child. The Maori are a rather large breed of Islanders. By large i don't really mean fat although they too have their share of fast foodies. No, they are just really big boned people who apparently were not surviving on just twigs and berries before the Europeans got here. Shay has a Maori girlfriend in her class and it's almost comical if not a bit scary to see Christian envelope Shay in one of her hugs. The girl is as tall as me and twice my weight. My girl literally disappears into her arms when Christian is in full hug mode. Ronin wants to take up Rugby and play with the Maori boys but i honestly fear for his life. I will have to grease him before a match to help ensure he has some help on the field when he catches the ball. Running like hell is another option i will be offering him too.

Next week is the BIG move and so i will post an update on that once we are in the new digs. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanks Giving.. it totally blew us by and the only reason i know it came about was via Face Book, LOL.