Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"The female of the species is more deadly than the male."

Our day of radio was just plain fun.
Betty, Yasmin, and I played some (if I do say so myself) excellent music. The show theme centers on bands which have at least one female musician.

Then as we were having such a good time, we just walked into the studio next door to hang out on Ken's show "16 tons", were he regaled us with some nice choices, basically all on vinyl. Obviously a man to be trusted.
Ken was also the d.j. who provided the music when I was fortunate enough to skate in two of Geelong's Roller Derby bouts.

The Pulse, a community radio station is one of 358 such radio stations in Australia (this is a fact I took from one of my library loans from Deakin University). If you want to check out Betty's show that she has been creating weekly please look here:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"...Sukie was a kid she liked to hangout in the graveyard..."

Upon arriving in Victoria, on the mainland of Australia, my days have been busy.
I am surrounded by friends and lively because of that.
I had a really good skating practice. The Geelong league did a drill that I have been reading about and wanting to try out in Tasmania, but was unable too.
The drill has many names but I think 'Trappers and Runners' is the most fitting. The idea is a good bit of strategy and also involves some basic skills so this means that the drill works on different levels.
The session was followed by accompanying a friend and being on her community radio slot. Anyone who knows me, knows there is nothing I enjoy more than talking about and selecting music for people to hear.
Lastly, I went to Deakin University, the institution that will (hopefully, without tears or disappointment) see me through my next degree. I got a student i.d. card, talked to some office workers, and checked out books from the library.
The weeks ahead are full of adventures. I get to go along and hang out for another radio slot. Plus there is much skating here, then a road trip to skate with the Ballarat league, and then an intensive four day training in Townsville. Townsville is up in Queensland where I have never, ever, been to in all my life.
Warm water and jellyfish!
Skaters who have day jobs such as Army, or in the Mining industry!
Check in to see if I survive.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

"You had a charming air, all cheap and debonair "


I survived my Big Day Out, in Auckland and successfully saw a set performed by 'The Decemberists' who I have not seen for years, likely due to the fact that acts do not come to the Southern Hemisphere all that often and when they do, they usually skip Tasmania.
Of course, I had to go to Auckland for this show, but really New Zealand practically feels as if it is Idaho to Washington.
I am always fearful of festival shows, bands usually don't get allotted anywhere near the time to play they normally would, and unless they perform at a lot of festivals, the adjustment can be awkward. I once saw Nick Cave at a festival, and I felt as if I was reading the cliff notes version of my favorite novel.
Also since the release of their last recording, I have imagined 'The Decemberists' playing 'Hazards of Love' in its entirety; in order. I saw a very memorable show in New York at the Knitting Factory, where Smog basically performed 'Red Apple Falls' without any real pauses in its entirety, and it was amazing.

The band started out with 'Crane Wife 3', this song was covered recently by Marianne Faithful in a duet with Nick Cave. The whole set was great, and worth even the sun which was baking me like an egg on a griddle, the trash all around, the dust mucking up my eyes, and people wearing clothing choices that I may never, and I mean never, recover from.
The genius of 'The Decemberists' has not fully become known by the Southern Hemisphere, and the band was (luckily for me) on a smaller stage, this meant that I was able to watch from the crowd without any fear of being trampled, which was a huge plus.
I will be using all my persuasive powers to attend one of the club shows in Melbourne, which is where I am headed next.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Small bits of history

I must admit I came to New Zealand without researching the country at all. I also held a small minded impression that New Zealand would be essentially just like Australia. This of course is not true, and as I continue into this new calendar year, I tell myself that I will strive to be more conscious, more present, and take more care with my opinions.

All that soapbox speaking aside though, the human brain loves to create patterns, categories to make sense of our surroundings. The unfamiliar, is common in my life, from constantly moving to constantly being in a situation that I hadn't been in before so I excel at comparison.

While the townships here have reminded me of Tasmania, with the hobby farms, and the carelessly hand made signs propped up on the roadside to advertise all manner of attractions, the tourist trade in general is very like the Hawaiin islands. Many places are free if you are a resident which is also true of Hawaii, which makes sense because everything costs money, as anything that can monetized, is. Compared to America and also Australia everywhere there are signs of the indigenous people recovering, promoting, and continuing their culture even while all cultures seem destined to collide together.

The Maori tribes (over five hundred chiefs were noted as signing the treaty with the British) have a treaty for all New Zealand with the British Commonwealth.
The treaty was signed in 1840 in Waitangi which is now 506 hectares of national trust land. The photos are from the property.
There are artifacts on the property, a bit of reconstruction, and the 'Te Whare Runanga' treaty house built for the Centenary Celebrations of the treaty signing in 1940, and a 'Waka' or canoe. I will have to do some research on my own as I am intrigued now about the details of what led the British to accept a treaty.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"...for they loved peace and quiet and good tilled earth..."

I went on a face book date! I don't mean to say that I went internet dating, I mean I met up with an old friend who I have not seen in over a decade.
For the younger generation this might seem implausible that friends could lose contact, but before email, before socializing networks, and the rampant use of cell phones, and skype phones, people were pretty easy to lose.

John and I met in Seattle, he is a musician and I had a crush on his music.
When I found out he was a good guy so much the better!
He is marrying into a great family, and their set up is admirable, with some similarities to my own so I felt a bit of kinship, indeed by the end of our visit I felt as if I had new neighbors.
The North Island of New Zealand isn't exactly local, but still this is the feeling I left with.

Zok and I got to take a spectacular drive to their place. We stopped at a funny roadside place on the way back, and the scenery was finally what my minds eye had envisioned New Zealand to be.
John and I having common ground, gave me the chance to have a conversation were I felt understood, and completely normal in my thought process.
I do believe as the two of us talked about our adventures of home owning in the southern hemisphere, that both our partners were rolling their eyes slightly but they are from this hemisphere so that is expected.

Also John has gone through many a process in the music industry, and although he seems mostly unscathed, I believe he had similar heartbreaks.
Working in the industry, can be a great job on many levels, but for those of us who went in with ideals about this world, the place is just plain hazardous.
Today Zok is starting work, so we are making our way to Auckland, which so far I have only driven by, the place is really large considering how quickly one transitions to small towns and open land.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"The Gathering of the Clouds".

Zok and I were unsure about going on the 'Hobbiton' tour, which is a guided tour of the some 16 acres of the Alexander family farm used to create the set of 'The Shire' in the Peter Jackson, Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Zok and I both individually and collectively shy away from 'group tours'.
The last one we did was the only way in which to see the royal palace in Kyoto, Japan. We tried to sneak out more than once only to be herded back to the group; politely.

I have gone to many a movie location, houses and parks used by the BBC for adaptations of Jane Austen or one of the Bronte novels.
I was a bit wary of this excursion as it was both a tour and a set.
Set being the key word, set for me implies looking behind the curtain, as there is a thing I believe in, called 'movie magic'. I need to keep my ability to suspend belief and really get into the experience of the movies I watch.

Mostly, though in this ongoing age of DVD extras, and enough media to reach even the farthest edges of the planet, I knew mostly what to expect. I knew that the interiors of the 'The Green Dragon' and Frodo's hobbit hole would have been shot on a set elsewhere.

I was pleasantly surprised, the still working sheep farm has done a nice set up, from the cafe (wood beams, iron hinges and door handles), baby lambs scattered about the picnic area as one waits for the tour to begin. I think after the town of Rotorua, the attention by the farm to detail was pleasing.

Our guide told us that this location was picked mostly the tree near the lake (the party tree for Bilbo's birthday party). The tree was one area that was untouched. The army was hired to build the road which was used for the film crew, and now the tours. Movie magic was indeed accessed for touches such as bringing in trees described in the book, the best being an Oak tree bought from a neighbor, cut into pieces, thousands of itemized pieces, which were then reconstructed, with the touch of individually wiring, perfect, fake leaves onto this tree.

The set is also unique for the fact that the set remains at all, due to weather, the crew was unable to get all the facades down, and asked for a grace period, during that time, so many people showed up on the farms doorstep, they petitioned for permission to run tours, and gaining this permission were able to keep the unadorned remaining hobbit holes.

The hedges and fruit trees are new additions for the proposed start of filming for 'The Hobbit'. I, for one am quite excited by the prospect.
The farm itself really is lovely, no power lines and from the area of the lake there is quiet, no planes over head or street noise, the rolling hills seem to go on if not for miles then definitely chapters.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Look Lorax," I said, "There's no cause for alarm. I chopped just one tree, I am doing no harm."

Zok is not amused that I think Rotorua looks like Sacramento, California, but trust me that the township does indeed look and feel like Sacramento...

Indeed there is a redwood forest within the city limits. The two types of redwood are all that flourished from the many types of hardwood transplanted here to see if any would grow. The two hardwoods are the ones that survived, they are the young siblings of the Californian giants. Planted in 1899, many now stand quite large, but small in comparison, if, indeed you had the reference to compare them.

Rotorua is known for the continued volcanic activity, thermal pools and volcanic mud.
There are puffs of steam at every turn. We did soak in some mud and a thermally heated sulpher pool.

The N.Z. is wise to the way of the traveler and the internet is not free...
Tomorrow we head out even further North, here on the North island, and I may be without a connection until we get to Auckland.

Tomorrow, Hobbiton (which is apparently now being transformed for the next movie, The Hobbit).
I am in doubt that much will be done yet, but I do love a movie location...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"...there were clouds in my coffee..."

I do love an airport lounge.
A civilized haven in a huge mess of chaos.
We are flying fancy to New Zealand because that was all we could get with our points, and the points needed to be used.

We had an 'express' card to go through a different line in customs.
This turned into a bit of a drama, the line wasn't moving very fast, as there was one agent as opposed to the many for the normal line.
This wouldn't have been such a big deal, especially for us, as Zok allows a lot of time at the airport. However, we had a loud dare I say American couple behind us who were very, very, vocal about the line going slowly.

I thought perhaps they were practicing to be on that reality show, because the man kept saying (every ten seconds) "This is the worst mistake we've made in soooooooo long". and "We should have switched lines"!
Of course, he felt too invested to actually switch lines so we had to listen to the both of them for our entire wait, which was maybe ten minutes, fifteen at most but due to the "Dude! This is fucked!" commentary the wait seemed much longer.
I of course, was practicing my impulse control, so I stayed facing forward when I said comments such as "For the love of God, go already." and "Hey Zok, I'll go to the other line and wait longer just to get away from him."

But soon he will be forgotten, we are on our way to New Zealand, and new experience for me, as I have only been in the Auckland airport, where I was intrigued by a tourist shirt that read "Baaaa Baaaa Baaaa Bar".

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"...the darkness declares the glory of light..."

Surely I am repeating myself, but I love the beach. I went swimming yesterday morning and the water was practically warm. I love the beach so much that often I wake up and think, "This is it, I am just staying home, why do I ever go anywhere"?

I feel that I could be happy on my small patch of the world, knowing that I am not missing out, that happiness is happiness and I have mine.
Only there is the small fact that there are so many variations, so many differences, so many experiences to be had.
Here in Tasmania, which if you look on a map seems to be not only situated at the end of the planet, it is only the size of Holland or Washington State, yet the differences in landscape, from the coast to the midland mountains, to the nearby forest (which boast the ancient Huon Pines, which are the second only to the Bristle Cone Pine for the title of longest living tree).
The drive time to most places in Tasmania is long because much of our state is still unpaved, there is no highway comparable to the Interstate 5 through California or the autobahn. This long drive time though is still less than I used to drive (often on a whim) from Seattle to Sacramento to visit family and friends.
Remembering to take the time and leave the beach to explore, is a gift we get from visitors staying with us.

As usual I am equal parts excitement for my trip to New Zealand and sadness that I will miss my beach, my bed, and changes that will happen with or without me in the garden.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bay of Fires

When I win Division 1, lotto, I am buying property here and perhaps never leaving.

Return to Cradle Mountain

Zok and I took two new guests to Cradle Mountain. The experience was different than the time before. I could see how a person would return to Cradle Mountain year after year. This year we got better weather, on New Years Eve, we watched lightning bolts hit the horizon in bolt shape, or light up the sky as far as our eyes could see, and I for one, enjoyed this more than fireworks.
The next day was bright and sunny yet not too hot for our walks.
Our guests are not great walkers so we did some of the short walks and one longer one ourselves after lunch.

I did learn that 'warning trail not maintained' translates to 'vague notion of a trail' or 'the great hunt for trail markers'.

We did not see a Tasmanian devil, but we did see a pygmy possum, and a bettong. A pademelon came to the porch for a small treat. There was some confusion as to whether or not the animal was a bennent wallaby or a pademelon, but this one didn't have the notable white stripe or dark paws that are listed as defining markers of the bennent wallaby.

We stayed in our same cabin, "Currawong" at the "Highlanders Cabin", which I am quite attached to as choice for accommodation.
We didn't need to use the fireplace this time, but more animals came to the porch (banana were the winner, pumpkin was accepted but asparagus was a resounding 'no').

2010 looks good in print.