if its not yummy, then we better make it funny.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

from a mom to a daughter, quote from a letter to Nina.

I got inspired by this fortune I got, it said that the empty bucket does not make any noise and the full bucket does not make any noise but the half full-half empty bucket makes noise. I didn't like that fortune at first, but after resonating with it and finding it again in my dresser drawer, I decided that "noise" was a good thing and that we can't wait until we are perfectly ready to share our polished successful selves, we are ready now!!! Isn't that great! We are more interesting as our imperfect-well meaning-work in progress selves!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Trade Me Friends

In New Zealand the equivalent of ebay online auction is called Trademe. I was fascinated by ebay and did quite a bit of recreational shopping and even some business on that site. Of course, being new immigrants here and having young children we have some holes to fill in the material possession category. To my partner Jordan, the self appointed minimalist guru of our house, this spaciousness was fine. I, on the other hand wanted a chair worthy of my welcoming tired bakers bones and my considerably more discerning eye. I have had a dozen or so transactions on the net using Trademe. I have had a high percentage of interesting encounters from these purchases.

The first I can remember is the German washer we bought for just 120.00. We were just about to fly the nest of the commune we lived at initially for 6 months on arrival in Auckland. Jordan went to pick it up and called to ask if we wanted to also buy a queen Rimu (native hardwood) bed and a tidy near new fridge (a rental doesn't usually come with one here) I said sure, if you like them, go for it. We went to meet the man and pick up the bed and happened to get the car in a very precarious perch, just driving off the drive and suspending our van on the edge hovering over a considerable decline with a nice house close by, downhill. Jordan was wrapped up in the problem and I had to get pretty loud to get him to take note of the slipping tire and the situations potential. By the time I made my noise, a house painter (who's father actually owned both of the residences- the one we were visiting and the one we were threatening to roll our van into) He quickly got some boards to stack and elevate to reach the rear wheel. The bottom of the van was touching the cement, but I was sure how much weight was resting on it and if it could still be on the move. We got a couple of jacks and more boards and finally got the car back on the driveway. Profuse gratitude was expressed and we finally got on our way to our new house with our new stuff. Another memorable transaction was for the purchase of a collection of odd items including a yogurt maker, bathroom scale. wine rack, bread box rolling desk looking thing. I cant remember how I got directed to the odd lot of household items, but the $4.00 'buy it now' price seemed practically humorous and the location was close by. I bought the lot and wrote an email to Svetlana to arrange pick up. On a dreary fall nigh, my entire clan ventured to her house. She was a tender and charming older woman with a lovely Russian accent. She insisted I call her Lana and I asked her about using the yogurt maker ( that and I bathroom scale were the only things I could recollect of the lot) She found that I'd forgotten what I'd bought hilarious! She told me she makes cottage cheese now (HOW?) and didn't need the yogurt maker at all anymore. She helped me to the car even though it was raining pretty good, I think is was mention of the family there that drew her, really. She took one look at Desmond and was ready to engage him. Desmond had recently spent a few days with the Cat in the Hat movie. Now, in my day, that was a wholesome affair, The Cat in the Hat... other than the unnerving fact that the cat and kids were probably going to get busted in some mischeif, it was good and clean fun. Well, in the Mike Myers movie there is enough adult innuendo to make a Suess roll in his grave. One such grown up joke is when the cat calls his grubby garden tool a "dirty ho' " repeatedly, with plenty of emphasis. Welllll , Desmond decided to recycle that joke in real life and started calling Lana a "dirty Ho". "You dirty ho' !" he would gruffly rant and she would say "what is he saying?" and give him an affectionate but assertive tickle and he would jyrate wildly and bump his head on the dashboard. This went on two or three times. I was, of course, aghast and tried to get Desmond to apologize , and then to stop that! He was on a roll with the tickling-head bumping -" Dirty Ho" game he had going. I finally had to resolve that neither of them really knew what he was saying and they were having a purely harmonious encounter, so I left it alone and had a chuckle, myself. Seeing a computer cable in our car,she asked if we were computer people. She had developed a method of rapid language english lessons and wanted to get it into digital medium. Jordan sort of dodged that bullet and we said our goodbyes and thank yous. She complemented us on our fine company and said it would be alright to come back and see her, she mentioned some of her interests to lure us, the only one I can remember is extra terrestrial life. We left there with an odd lot of grins.
We got some wonderful footage of Mauri dance when a woman and her daughter came by our house to deliver some kitchen wares Id' hi-bid' on. The lush dark featured daughter of about 9 or so mentioned she was on her way to traditional Mauri dance lessons. this piqued our interest and we asked her if we could get that on videotape, she shrugged and smiled and next thing you know,Jordan got the camera going. The footage is heartwarming to watch, not only the dancer's earnest storytelling, but her mother's pride beside her. One trademe purchase was a fiasco! We went all the way by ferry boat to the tune of $58.00 (walk on) to Waiheke island to pick up some new Birkenstock sandals for Jordan. It was a comedy of errors as we navigated our way through the limited public transportation, bolted off the bus when it was in the town, thinking we didn't have enough cash, only to realise we did, but the bus only came hourly, so we walked with the kids on our backs too far and ended up at a park while Jordan made the final leg of the trek alone, only to discover that the shoes were Narrow and didn't fit. He rejected them and got the money back. The seller, an absolutely cottled Swiss masseuse, was quite perturbed and gave us our only negative feedback on the transaction, oh well, you cant win them all!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday at the Storylines Children's Book Festival

Today did the nicest job of redeeming a funk of a weekend. I was about to continue to work on my body imprint Ive got going in my new bed. Ive been putting in lots of reclining hours in the last week, trying to get over this virus. The family had planned to go to a Children's Festival at the Aotea center downtown all week, although, I had just convinced Jordan he could go without me. The kids were getting the classic symptoms of cabin fever. The frequency of the shouting and bothering outbursts was getting to what I consider critical mass, soon everyone would be roaring like the four winds.
My delightful pal Amanda text ed me, to check on our tentative plan to sneak off for coffee as part of the day. That gesture pulled me back from the plan of slothful pondering of the rain and the phenomenon of wakefulness when you really want to sleep and all the distractions are gone. Sometimes relaxing is just too much pressure for a gobot like myself. I buoyed up, had a little coffee, hacked and sputtered in an attempt to quiet the rattle in my chest, put on non work, non pajama clothes and things were on the up! Now any parent of young ones knows that getting yourself ready is easy, getting children lined up can be a little trickier. Desmond was motivated to clothe himself by the "costume" appeal. Luckily, the superhero boy costume (with a red and blue "H" to avoid trademark infringement) was clean and locatable. Jordan even got him to take it all off and put a layer on underneath. By this time I was working on Lillian's inertia. I thought the leopard suit would do the trick. Lillian has her own mysterious standards, though, and that would not do at all. She settled on a lovely floral skirt, acquired last week in our first hand me down bag here, its actually stylish, floral shirt and of course, floral socks. I used the "choose a coat from these two" trick to get her into outerwear warm enough for the Auckland drizzle.

We headed off, had our routine parking argument and finally dispatched ourselves to the center where children with balloons, painted faces and general calm and contentment were ambling out of the complex. Amanda found us just outside, we all stepped into the arena of music, storytelling, non fiction rooms, beloved authors, devoted readers, crafts tables, booksellers, face painters, pirate-mermaid teams, handmade wonderful braille books, there was even an exhibit of Jane and the Dragon, an up to the techno minute animated children's show by Weta, a P. Jackson project. (By the way a weta is a very big New Zealand bug. When you meet one it seems like a larger animal than an insect, about the size of a chocolate eclair with a grasshopper head and extra long feelers-quite authoritative: ewe! If I could design a superhero, it would be bughandler-man, he would manifest whenever need arises. I inherited my bug squeamishness. If you don't believe me you should check out my mother's Vacuum cleaner bag)
Back to the festival....
There were such wonderful storytellers, It made me want to become one. I think the event pleased us all in some way. Jordan had a rough time after I left to have a girl visit, though. I think he experienced the vanishing child panic for the first time.
Amanda is a good friend. Our relationship is young, but even from the start we could see eye to eye and are both good visionaries. She has a business called Rocket online and she is very professional in her demeanor. I'm not sure what she actually does for folks. I think it has more to do with online than rockets, though. We went to Borders and sat in the modern and comfortable coffee shop there. It felt urbane. I had a sinful and soothing chocolate mint bomb, which was made with ice and slid with relief down my irritated throat. We caught up and laughed some, which I think is so important. Jordan showed up some time later and dropped the kids with us and went off in search of a sizable blank grid lab journal. He spent lots of time, actually looking in three different places for what he wants to keep his Scientific calculations and insights in. When we got home I went on Amazon and found plenty, but they wont ship them here. They ship books that are filled in with writing, though, Huh? If anyone reading this loves Jordan dearly and wants to put a smile on his face they could by acquiring one or two of those. Its funny the things you cant get here, like Masa Harina and microwave popcorn without all the chemicals and salt and Weleda shampoo. Best foods Mayonnaise costs a fortune here and Gas prices are not through the roof. Different.

I sometimes feel safer here in New Zealand, from some of the big nasty things like nuclear energy and big power bloated defence departments, but really the core dilemma of us consuming more than the planet can give is just as recklessly out of control here as it is in the US. What is it with us humans, anyway- needing more and better and to look better and have better stuff. Its a lot to maintain, the appearance of looking successful, it could steal a lot of your precious time on earth right out from under ya. I was reading in James Bryner's blog about his reflections of not working (and not having a TV) and his observations and experience of how the world opened itself up to so many opportunities that we usually cant be bothered with considering because we have our schedules.. What if you never caught a glimpse of that spaciousness??
I'm so far off the track, I'm putting the whole train set away and going to bed now. More later. Good dreams and blessings to you.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Wild Wheat Work

Today is a workday. I am home, though, after half a day. I have that throaty warning of impending sickness. Its also a legal holiday today ,The Queen's Birthday. In New Zealand everyone who works on a legal holiday gets time and a half pay and a free day of holiday pay later when they take a holiday or quit the job. It's a shame I didn't finish out the day there, but money isn't everything. Sometimes an ounce of prevention, some salt water gargling, loading liquids and a little leisure in the horizontal mode is worth a pound of cure. For you metric people, that's about 28 grams=450 grams. Its a pretty good deal, huh?

Ill take this opportunity to reflect on work. I work at Wild Wheat and have for about a month. Wild Wheat is an Artisan Bakery. Now that word 'Artisan' is batted around liberally these days. Wild Wheat actually lives up to the definition of the term, though. Andrew Fearnside is the creator of the Wild Wheat empire, which consists of a new factory in Pakuranga, Auckland, retail shops at the factory and in stylish Mt. Eden and a fleet of 4 vans to deliver to the upwards of 200 wholesale customers. It is due to one such van that I am working at Wild Wheat each weekday morning at 5:00 am.

Jordan and I were crawling on the motorway moving a load over to our new neighborhood (which is already our old neighborhood, now) when I saw a Wild Wheat van. I noted the locale of the factory, close to our new home and whipped out my cell phone and dialed the number. I got a call back from Andrew and agreed to come and check out the routine one morning. I printed a resume and got an appointment. I was romancing some other jobs at the time, and (of course) the dormant C.V.s started doing their thing and I had three options to choose from. One was another Artisan Bakery that is much larger and questionably artisan, considering the new automated operations being installed. They spent a lot on the machines, I guess, because they didn't have much at all to pay me. The man who contacted me said he liked my CV but the phrase "pay commensurate with experience" clued him in that I wasn't going to work for the immigrant entry wages he had to offer. He said "We hire lots of immigrants, just not from countries like yours" I guess if I was from eastern Europe or South America I'd be more hungry. Us yanks are really quite spoiled. People, especially New Zealanders who haven't yet roamed the planet can't fathom why I would come to New Zealand from the United States. It is always an interesting meander to tell them of my motivation to get away from the money worship culture and the indecently corrupt leadership in the states. In the US there seems to be more of a drive to make it to the top, while people in New Zealand are happy to be middle class and be content with the vocational role and get on to other things like hobbies and family and such. Some say NZ is just 10-15 years behind the US but I think that's oversimplification of things. It also doesn't give New Zealand credit for its unique resourcefulness and civility... behind- My ass! Hey, that's kind of funny.

Anyway, The last job offer which according to Murphy's law, was just on time, was a Chef position at the Hotel Du Vin. Now the Hotel Du Vin is lovely. it is like stepping into another time and place. Hidden in the Bombay hills, south of Auckland, it was just a little too far away to live where we just painstakingly moved. The position, which paid a lot better, was more managerial than creative, though. I had to revisit my memories of staff management and
those memories had no luster. At all. The head chef also didn't follow through on his time line for communicating, and then finally, there was the confirming of the other chef's departure... OK that helps me make the decision. I told Andrew and Wild Wheat yes after keeping them dangling almost a week while waiting for the news from the Hotel. I think it would be lots more fun to enjoy the Hotel Du Vin as a guest, anyway. It has luxurious spa offerings and a swimming pool and glorious vineyards and heritagy stuff all around like old wine barrels and curvy manicured shrubs.

The staff at Wild Wheat consists of two crews. The daytime crew is a nice cooperative group. there is John, who is a small framed solid guy, a New Zealand born VietNamese
man in his late 20's. John is a pastry chef who is very deliberate and somewhat quiet, especially at first. I remember thinking from a mousy new employee view it felt like he was looking at me thinking "what do we need you for , anyway?" That doesnt seem to be the case,though. One day on about week two he came outside when I was having my break and gave me his impression of the job, asked me how I was doing and offered some pretty helpful insights, like how to handle bitchy or hysterical customers and gave me confidence with remembering the details of one facet of the job at a time, specifically the morning bake, the first job I would be left on my own to do. Morning Bake... a little exercise in chasing puglia dough into cordas and "cigars", rolls and loaves, then doughnuts in and out of the fryer into their sugary suits and restaurant sourdough rolls into the big walkin rack oven put the other pre formed loaves in the proverif they are sluggish- unless they were out already or its really warm or... then out with the tray of little pies, New Zealand's trademark, filled with seasoned meat and vegetable combinations, take out the clumsy old racks and reinstall them on the smaller knobs (careful, they are hotter than ...the dickens) then put in the apple pastries with the piped custard and dainty apple slices and the tart shells to bake blind with parchment lining and rice atop. Now go fill those donuts with that yummy homemade apple filling with nothing but apples and butter and a splash of lemon in it and the black cherry and custard fillings. Answer the phone, try and decipher the name of the trendy (un-namelike) cafe through the heavy accent, placate, record message. Divide the ciabatta, Turkish breads and slabs, buns and focaccia, check the other things, Kingslander likes them big, Queens Ferry takes sesame on them. Now put in the second rack oven goods, be careful with the computer settings! Now go back and carefully remove the rice from the tart shells, bake a little more empty, then pour in the sunny lemon and lime tart filling in them, as full as you can but not over the side, please! Remember to turn down the fan in that convection oven or the sunny lemon will be dotted with oven debris (which is of course naturally occurring and harmless-but ugly) Better glaze those apple thingies while your thinking about it. Oh look,it's just about time to turn on the deck ovens, lets see, there are the temperature settings, the four deck element settings and the vent setting. One combination for the Italian slipper bread, lower but still pretty darned hot, and higher for the Turkish Pides which are about a yard long and raked into shape on the extremely hot oven floor, by hand. Master that peel, convert right handed directions to left handed actions. Scooting the long soft lengths of dough off the boards onto the deck is a real adrenaline pumper. Now, take the dangling carrot of a cup of coffee offered by some kind soul, your doing fine!

I got permission to print this recipe from Andrew, lucky for you! This is one of the many things that John has shown me at work.

Wild Wheat's Citrus Tart.
Two small pre cooked tart shells 20-25 cm diameter or 9 or 10 inches. The crimped shallow tart pans that have a flat removable bottom is what we use at Wild Wheat.
Sweet tart dough is very similar to pie pastry dough, it usually has a little sugar and some vanilla or lemon zest. Sometimes I even put in some finely chopped or even chunky nuts, you choose. Bake the tart shell "blind" which is to say that you fake it out with a faux filling (you can use rice or beans or even rocks from your beach walk) that holds it's shape while it becomes rigid in the oven, thus not sliding down the sides from the heat. Use baking or parchment paper to separate the weight fill so you can remove it easily.


275 grams castor or fine sugar
7 eggs
3 lemons (juice of)
1 lime (juice of)
175 grams cream, heavy

Filling procedure:
beat eggs and sugar, add juices then finally add cream.
Pour in the 2 pre cooked tart shells and bake in a 350 degree oven 140 to the centigrade crowd
until set, doesn't jiggle anymore possibly something like 15-22 minutes depending on your oven's character.
Cool thoroughly and sift a thin layer of powdered sugar or icing sugar on the top and brown aggressively with a torch, yes a torch. If you don't have a torch, its very good without the caramelized sugar, just skip the dusting of sugar altogether.
Let me know if my instructions are handy enough. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Yes he always is that fuzzy

I'm dedicating this blog entry to The Father Husband of our house, Jordan. He is my faithful companion and currently house dad for the two rascals we call children. I'm getting used to the kids calling me Dad out of habit. Jordan said that used to happen when he was gone all day to work when the tables were turned and I was the primary caregiver.
Jordan is adjusting to the role better than I ever did, actually. He never goes running out of the house exasperated when I come home. These days, Jordan is in the habit of trawling the children about town in the bike cart (which I must say has him extra svelte and sleek.) The cart is not a common device here and they are something of celebrities as they rickshaw to and from Kindergarten, about 5 kilometers per day. The kids at the kindergarten also eat up Jordan's good humor and earnest interest in them. Apparently, a teacher there asked if he was interested in teaching kindie. Now a person, say a spouse, could get a little exhausted trying to compete with such sincere popularity, after all, I have only day old bread to show for my contribution since I'm deep in the bread making business during all the kindergarten hours. Oh but it isn't any ordinary bread, but this is Jordan`s post, Ill rave about the artisan bread later. The kids sometimes don't have shoes or they enjoy their own unscheduled pajama day, but they are happy. They get thoughtful and accurate (yikes ) answers to their questions. They dine on a well practiced oatmeal regimen. He does all this and still has time for that silly old PhD in Astro Physics.
Jordan a true science devotee, scatters the strangest notes here and there with odd symbols on them. They aren't letters. They aren't numbers. But they mean something! They even mean something very very far away where earthly things like green beans and stock certificates are insignificant ideas. There are only a few people who can look at those Greekish figures and say: "Ah yes, your on the right track here, your calculation needs some refinement, though" or they may say, "By Gum, you've got it! Now we can seek to prove the coefficient!" Halli-looya! This is a call for celebration, lets make some tea! Jordan has fellowship with one such person-his advisor, Sergei Gulyaev, weekly.
Those physicists are a strange breed. Thank god there is a good dose of hedonism in my scientist. When things get a little too teeny tiny to understand or to mind bogglingly large for me way back here on earth, I can usually lure him back by some treat I can concoct or perform. Recently its been the chocolate almond croissants Ive been getting from work. Other enticements that work are any sort of back rub or scratch, reading aloud, a good movie or a hike or bike ride in a beautiful natural place. I'm sure some relative of mine will read this and doesn't want to hear about the erotic frolic it takes to bring the star studying stud around. Just use your imagination, here. Just make sure it's flattering, please.
Have I gone too far? Does a blogger get to go for it? If you don't give a darn what I do in my hemisphere with my husband, I don't mind. Its rare anyway. Having Desmond and Lillian around are very efficient reminders of what wonders can come from getting a little carried away. Desmond has a special rapport with his Dad, yet in the evening he usually comes smooching over to me to be put to bed. I would have to say that he has the more emotional sensational temperament that I have and Lillian has inherited Jordan's more stoic and contemplative nature. Its nice that they are so different. The whole family has a lavish dose of gregarious-ness and sometimes it's hard to get round the block for the conversations springing up from the unexpected manhole.
One thing about being married is that you get to see and live with the extremes and paradoxes of another person. Take just the physical presentation. Sometimes Jordan has the most sexy or graceful curve to his face or the glossiest jet black hair that sweeps perfectly just there. His arms are strong and his smile keen, his mischief- irresistible. Then there are the times he has that rakish caveman thing going on or he looks a little like the troll, unbathed under that bridge, hair hanging in shiny strings. I'm sure anyone-everyone, has these extremes. Heck I have my Medusa moments, and my peachy sunlit eyes. When your married you get to see them, and accept them. That's pretty nice, actually.

Another catch up from a while back...

Time for a bloggin,

At this time of 4:12 pm on Friday April 13 I find myself passenger on the north bound motorway heading back to Anahata Community. Strangely naïve, we headed from our new rental home in Point England in the south eastern urban area up to the North Shore at commute time. Its been a hectic and emotionally challenging day. We had our first night in our Normal little house by the Tamaki river-bay. Leaving Anahata, the community where we lived for almost 6 months. Anahata is on 18 acres about 15 km north of Auckland, New Zealand. We landed there after an extensive 4 month tour of both Islands of New Zealand. We had ran out of money and the desire to roam about.
The experience of living ‘in community’ taught my husband and I some very valuable things. The first that comes to mind today is the favourable aspect of the efficiency and “buying power” of group coordinated living. The hard part at Anahata was the wide difference of ambitions, energy output, personal standards and preferences. For example: while almost everyone likes a nice clean, organized and well stocked kitchen, not everyone is willing to put energy into creating and maintaining it. There are meldings of delightful insights, humor, emphatic dogmas and lots of history constantly surging forward and receding like an organism’s grooving undulation. As an extremely controversial (read- scandalous) operation Centerpoint, (the predecessor community of Anahata’s aging site) had a guru/ followers structure going. As a radical response after some sex and drug violations and indictments the next group swung widely the other way and made all of the group decisions by consensus. This arduous method was just too much for the mish mash or to be nicer, miss match of 20 people who lived there. When new ideas or changes were proposed, they needed unanimous approval as defined in the Anahata’s constitution (which I saw observed as a fair-weather document). Needless to say, any opposition could stall them out (even unfounded, hysterical, convoluted or otherwise biased by historical differences between members) could stall them out. The response to this was frustrated obedience, but more likely, various shades of disregarding the rules. When a critical mass of folks in a community do what serves or betters themselves rather than the group plan it really catches on and let the lawless rumpus begin! This was certainly not in the manner of the power drunk lords of Centerpoint, but notably irritating nonetheless. I tallied up my hours of volunteer effort to keep things flowing humanely and deliciously at Anahata and it was an embarrassing martyrly number in the low 20s per week. Anyway, that chapter is closing now. The only dishes Ill be scoffing at are my own. Food I buy for tomorrow’s dinner will not be consumed in an early morning feed with eyes at half mast, dishes left to further mock the miserly cook/shopper. Yes, the transition from Community to private home has its advantages.

It would not be fair of me to fail to mention some of the positive sides of the commune coin. There are moments of spontaneous harmony and levity that coalesce in community living. I have a few that come to mind in reflection on living at Anahata. The day when a coincidental group of us headed down to the walnut trees to collect some nuts is a fond memory. It was a lovely autumn day as seven or so of us wandered down the driveway in offhanded conversation. I felt the hunter-gatherer anticipation rising in me. When we got to the trees, which were at least 25 years old, we began to pick up the nuts that had fallen on large sheets of cloth David had laid down to make the task easier. Not long after the gathering began the lovely and soulful sounds of a bagpipe started up from only a short distance away in a neighbouring park. It was the perfect soundtrack to the impromtu party we were having. There were theories about which nuts to take and which might not be good due to having been on the wet ground around or under the cloths. I tried to conform to the strategies, being a good Aquarian, but soon there were contradictions and any manner and all the nuts were going in the baskets. Such is the way in community. Everyone has an idea that they think is right, even if they are in a quiet war with someone undoing it for their own better way they will keep going with it. I think these contradictory methods get addressed more in a marriage or as roommates, because of the proximity and the small number of people there could be to clarify with. In a community you could really go crazy if you had an eye for efficiency, safety, cleanliness, aesthetics or whatever and you wanted others to see it the same way. I guess that is unless you are the Guru of the operation, in that case, you’d be set!

One other nice thing that happened at Anahata is that I made friends with a Chinese friend’s mother. She came from China for what we thought was to be a short visit and stayed for months. I eventually learned that she was recouperating from breast cancer surgery in the company of her daughter, Tong. Her name is Dao Jung. For a long time I grossly mispronounced her name as Doa Ching- CHING, like a hungry cash register. She never flinched or asked her daughter to clarify her name for me. Now that I think of it, she calls me “Katy” which is a name that people give me, usually to my dismay. It never bothered me that she called me that, either. She adored my little ones and doted on them with hugs and gifts. One night having accepted an invitation to the cocktail realms of Josef’s hut, Jordan and I had left the kids with a video in the library for a short visit up the hill. After a few minutes I got that mother’s intuition nagging at me to check on them. I dashed down the hill to find Lillian inching into a steamy hot bath someone had filling in the bathroom outside our rooms. I turned the water off, collected Lillian and her clothes and decided to search for the person who had been drawing the bath to tell them it was full and I had turned it off. I found Dao Jung and mimed the incident to her. She didn’t have a clue, turns out, since she didn’t even know there was a bathtub at the time. I wonder what she thought I was saying with my gestures. Our communications got much better after that. She taught me to make Chinese dumplings, which are actually quite simple to do. Together, we often became a cooking team. Her diet was quite healthy and very different than the other European diets around her. She ate a rice based breakfast each morning, usually with fresh vegetables and some highly seasoned meats. Spice was a routine element and I’ve come to enjoy the fiery toasted chili and peanuts in oil condiment she favors at almost every meal. As her vocation, Dao Jung was a physician in China, trained under the Communist regime. Lots of people never tried to communicate with Dao Jung since she spoke very little English. What a caring warm soul they missed out on. Once I gave her some green beans Id grown in the garden. I knew she would appreciate the beans for the vegetable they were but also the home grown aspect. I put them on the shelf belonging to Dao Jung and Tong. The shelf was a real museum to a foodie like me, plenty of new ideas and oddities to note. Later that night, I found a lovely dish of Chinese style green beans with some sort of unfamiliar meat, possibly pork belly. It was just delicious. For those of you gasping at the idea of pork belly, RELAX- you’ve probably had it many times, salted and cured or smoked as bacon. Dao Jung also began a steady flow of garments for me over time. Most of them just weren’t ‘me’ but I didn’t have the heart to tell her. I even strategically wore them sometimes in the morning when I was likely to see her. My politeness training can be a little ridicules, I admit. I miss Dao Jung looking from a few days out of the community. Ill have to give her a call and put on one of those silly vests she gave me for a visit.

Previous blog entries from the last couple of months

Blog 25 April, 2007

It is a national holiday in New Zealand, today- Anzac day. Anzac day is similar too US veteran’s day. I heard a great speech from the radical progressive Prime Minister David something. It was great, totally knocking the logic of the Nuclear detterant argument with a thrumming bass in the background. I ate it up, sitting in my car, listening to it in high volume, when it was time to turn off the car and head inside. I long for leadership that isn’t in the market of fear, but rather courage.

Let me reflect on the week Ive had. We are settling in to the new rental house in the modest Auckland neighbourhood of Point England. I am resisting really homing in, since I am not sure if we will stay here. The unsavoury surprise of cockroaches, fleas and latenight, loud, foulmouthed parties at the beach reserve just across the road. It almost sounds like Im not satisfied here, doesn’t it? I have been working a lot of hours this week. I started it out with a shift of temp work for the Relish group catering company. The facility is called Pinot and it is much more discriminating in the food realm than the company I usually work for which is called Creative Functions. I enjoy working there and the shifts are usually short in comparison to the 8-15 hour shifts at Creative. I then put in 38 hours on three days working on the huge meals serving between 200 and 650 as part of the Australian Tourism board. These were golfing affairs and “Gala Dinners” They were highly staffed and sometimes highly qualified chefs were swimming all over each other to do some job a monkey could do. I usually try to find my own tasks when this happens as I am unnerved by crowding over-eager workers. There is always some tensions when someone assembles a group of people who are often in charge in their normal domains. People assert their bossiness while others follow and then others rival. I am happy to assume a leadership role, if needed, but I have no interest in jousting for control in a “too many chiefs” arena.
Yesterday’s day started at 10 am and ended at 12:30 am. We worked with some travelling chefs from Rockbrook restaurant in Sydney. It was a good eye opener to what life might be like as a chef with a high degree of PR role. I am in the process of deciding between a position at a very exclusive resort about 45 minutes south of Auckland called Hotel Du Vin and taking a job as an Artisan baker at Wild Wheat here close to our new house. If it were a quality of life decision, strictly, then it would be easier. I would probably go for the baking and focus on writing, sewing and family (maybe not in that order!) with all the untaxed brain cells left. The other job would stretch me more skill- wise and would have advantages in the pay and advancement side of things. The whole quandary has nudged me get my resumè polished up for the Peter Jackson world, and perhaps eek my way out of food and rely on my imagination to make a living here in New Zealand. Today I will prepare the packet and get it ready to send. I also asked my friend who is somewhat an insider to shoot it at Wingnut studio from his vantage point. I am fishing with my resume as bait, its kind of fun, but bring a lunch and some warm clothes, it could take a while.