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

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Letters to Peter Jackson...

One thing I wrote into my school contract is to write weekly letters to unusual recipients. By unusual recipients, I mean someone one wouldn't normally write such as relatives and friends but other people who our mind grazes past for some reason. I was inspired by Agnes Vadas's correspondence to a man on death row, which eventually was published and performed. I have enjoyed writing to incarcerated youth through a website called the beat within. The site is a great lifeline for many who have followed the path that being disadvantaged paves and for so many. I have also sent complaint letters to greedy companies that make throw away stuff aimed at kids. I have sent a letter to the family of a deceased painter whose work I acquired from a junk store with my comments on the art and my gratitude expressed.

It's an interesting challenge to hold. Sometimes I cant think of who to write. The solution is to think small and don't try to write an "important enough" letter. Most people welcome a letter from a voluntarily interested person, regardless of the offering it actually has.
One result of the letter campaign has been some pretty silly attempt to get at Peter Jackson. Peter Jackson has an empire of productivity in Wellington and I have marketed myself to his companies and have gotten some encouraging responses telling me what the work schedule is like and when to expect to be contacted as well as some less promising responses. Now, I am not really that serious about getting a job with Weta or Wingnut films, but its a fun arena to promote my unusual ideas. I think it may be entertaining on the other end, judging from the response from my most recent attempt, which, by the way I can't publish due to the confidentiality note at the bottom of the email (don't worry, I can paraphrase)

Now remember that I have plenty of work in Auckland when I want it and I'm just pursuing a pie in the sky dream and who knows... maybe one of these days someone I write might be really hankering for a slice. I have lost my intimidation now and am getting a little playful. Here is the last letter, written with a coy smirk (and a whisper of seriousness).

Hello there Mr. Jackson and Associates,

I have submitted my resume to Wingnut and my last inquiry got a response from Sebastion to try submitting one to Weta. I then learned that there is Weta Workshop and Weta digital. I am not sure which Weta was worth the work of winding up a little letter, so why not whirl one off to both. I have sent a current resume and letter of reference with this email as attatchments.

I am presently living with my family in Point England and could be of assistance in Auckland if you have any teams to staff here. I am currently working on an independent learning project at Evergreen State College (USA) and could weave some work into an internship if that is appealing to your company/ies. Please note my photo of contemplation space art piece that is part of my current contract (which ends on March 28th, 2008). Creating it uses common skills with set design. I also have some great inventive ideas about computer based games to splash open the market to females and female sensitivities with progressive and problem solving models. Maybe if people can conceive of saving the world virtually, then they can conceive it for real. If I'm too goody goody for you. Fine, I figure someone will bite my little hook sooner or later.

In earnest, Kate Stone

*The response was a thank you for your "interesting" email and an apology for not being able to hire me in Auckland due to the entire operation being in Wellington and not only that, they do not create games, do not have an internship program and do not need fiber arts services. They did wish me luck with my games and so I'm taking that and Ill keep fishing.

This is a letter from Fred, couldnt have said it better myself, Fred

I just sent a letter to the DOE about new nuclear weapons. For the next 3 months they are required to review and respond to citizen comments regarding the $150 BILLION Complex Transformation with the capacity to build 125 new nuclear weapons per year for the next 25 years. I believe this is the wrong direction for our country.

Join me, and the Peace Majority, to reclaim our nuclear policy. Copy and paste this URL into your browser:

Find Out More at Peace Action's Website:

Note from Kate* As usual, if you don't like my political opinions, don't worry about it, we cant all be right at once. No really, I'm fine if you don't agree, but I'm going to express myself anyway.

Quiche For Dinner/ School lunches

We had Quiche for dinner the other night so I made some extra for school lunches. I'm often stumped for healthy components of school lunches. It really takes only a tiny bit more time to add a muffin tray of mini quiches into the main quiche preparations and you'll have 12 little meals for later. Remember to oil the little holes, though, I had a heck of a time getting them out if the tin.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Progress on the Art...

Tomorrow I have a meeting with Shademakers reps to determine what equipment I could use to hang my environment rooms. I have a lot brewing in this department. First of all who would want one. There is the market of luxury homes and gardens, preschools and kindergartens, and possibly psychotherapy offices and centers. There are several terminal care facilities and cancer treatment hospitals for children in New Zealand that I am approaching. Writing letters to them, trying to find a place where my environment could be on display and available for kids to enjoy and explore if they are stuck in such a bleak reality. There are special issues to address here, like heightened need for hygiene and absolutely secure mounting. There is also a recycling sewing circle for youth out west in Piha, (but thats another story).

I bought a white silk parachute to cut up for the body of one hanging room. It is about 20 feet or 7 meters across and it is so lovely, I cant cut it. Today we found about a dozen kids in the neighborhood to help up fill up the parachute with wind to see how big it is and it's shape. That was a crowd pleaser. All ages really got into it. The wind would gust into it and if we had our team sitting, laying and holding the parachute right it would billow so full of air that it was enchanting, especially sitting inside the gleaming white room it created. Jordan thinks we should just mount the parachute on our high Norfolk pine in the front yard as a huge kite. You would need some strong line to do that, thats for sure. Here are some photos of the Monet's pond sort of theme environment in the making. There are a few details already created and lots in the making to make the space feel like a lush shimmering pond when you get in it. This particular installation is about 5 feet across and made almost exclusively of found materials. I inherited a wedding dress studio while living at the Anahata community, which was the source of the yards and yards of veil material. Being an environment designer takes thrift shopping to new ecstatic heights. I no longer look for something with cool fabric and a agreeable style- the fabric is the only criteria. I hope this project blossoms since it has been in my mind for over 2 decades.

School Picnic


Today was the school picnic that lasted the entire day. Jordan urged me strongly to volunteer as a helper because he says I'm always complaining that I'm not 'in' on the kids. OK, Ill spend the day from 8:45 until 3:00 with 400 or so elementary kids, their teachers and about 70 other parents. I was in charge of 4 kids, whose names I mispronounced with brave creative flair. The Pacific Islander alphabet and accent is not something I am adept at. The r's are rolled like d's sort of. Oddly, a lot of the pronunciations seem Italian. Desmond's teacher Mrs. She (that's an easy one to remember) is from Malaysia and is quite a bright and direct person. I have found Malaysians to be very friendly, in general. The trip was pulled off with great coordination and the kids played all day at the park adjoining the school property. All the children are issued large red sun has and they look sort of 'Madelyn esque' when you see them together. Many Pacific Island families join their children and there is a laid back feel to things when they do. Large grass mats are spread out and folks sit or lay down and let the time flow by. Here are some photos of the event.

Point England Primary is quite a special place . It is known for it's turnaround from a downtrodden school about twenty years ago. Today it wins awards for it's media inspired reading and writing programs which has children producing podcasts of book reports written by New Zealand authors as well as current events news broadcasts. The school is driven by a very dedicated staff and headed by Russel Burt, principal and his wife Dorothy Burt who is the innovator of the podcasting program. They are quite inspiring to meet. The link to Point England School is here

Podcasting (nothing to do with fishing for whales, Mom) is encapsulated digital media pieces that you can download to your computer or your ipod (mp3 player)to listen to at your convenience. If you subscribe to a podcast than some sort of chummy action between your computer and the hosting site will automatically collect it for you. Its all some sort of syndication system, often distributed through a blog. Sorry for my redundancy if you learned this all several hundred years ago.

For the proud Grandparents reading: Desmond is in room 5 and you can look at photos of his class and some of their digital drawing from that higlighted site above.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Drumroll Please!

Today is a quiet rainy Sunday after three days of windy summer storming. I took a temp shift at Creative Functions lat night to feed the bank account, which is hungrier than ever these days. Creative Functions is a company that does catering for events of all kinds. Last night was a wedding for 180. It was smooth running. The fiery chef rules mostly by intimidation, although he usually leaves me alone in that respect, although I have found myself on the hot seat before. I haven't worked there for nearly a year and the staff has turned over a lot. I worked with another American named Jim who was placid and competent. Another kitchen staff was Sam, who is from China and was emphatic about everything being done precisely the way he learned it. This drove me 'round the bend and it took a lot of restraint to not give him the "I was in the food business when you were born, and then I started a restaurant..... survival... blah blah ... innovation is important... blah blah , more than one way to do things..." instead I decided to let him do the jobs he found me doing "incorrectly". That was a fine solution indeed. He got stuck with the tail end of things and I got to blaze on and start something new (although, sometimes he was right on my tail, in no time). My garnishes perplexed him, reaching a little farther than he's used to, I guess. My old funky looking knife (a svelte heirloom French Sabatier) got a puzzled stare, Oh Sam, perfection comes in many seemingly imperfect forms. I need to remember that, myself Note to self: Perfection comes in many seemingly imperfect forms.

Desmond and Lillian got a real drum kit this week. Desmond has always shown fascination for drums and drummers. I figured it would be good for him to have a real drum set since the crappy toy one we got him for Christmas didn't last even Christmas day without coming apart and now it is just debris in the toy box. The drum set is RED. When Desmond is frustrated we send him to the drums and he pounds it out and then we cheer. I hope that is healthy and not reinforcing his uncomfortable feelings of frustration. We do cheer for other times, too. We also cheer for Lillian when she gets her little rock and roll booty in there and tears it up (it's hilarious). We have some family sessions where we make up simple rhyming lyrics and turn up the karaoke microphone on our t v, get out the ukulele and get down to some jamming. The kids always seem to love something more if the grown ups are actually willing to invest their time in it. This sometimes creates a tension for the grown up who is trying to launch the child/children into something so they can get a "darn thing done" and slip out from the equation eventually. By the way, a ukulele is no match for a drum set. I fear we need an electric ukulele, now. Here is a little video I took of Dessie this morning.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Today is a day dedicated to my fiber arts project.

Today I wont take much time here to write because I'm picking up a big white parachute to reinforce my sculpture installation. I also have my first corporate sponsor to visit: (here is the website http://www.shademakers.com/ they have nice strong hardware to safely display my work. Its good to get out of the mind and into the art. Kate

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Recipe of the week: Classic New York Cheesecake

This is a modified version of the Cheesecake served at Sea Fare, my grandma Cora’s restaurant on Hood canal. Mary Wing, her business partner, got it indirectly, from Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York which was famous for many things, including their cheesecake. I sold hundreds of them as part of the wholesale baking I did out of my tiny restaurant on San Juan Island. It was often the last chore of the week, on Friday evening, to lug them on sheet pans down the rickety back staircase at Roche Harbor Resort where bustling chefs, sometimes smiling, sometimes grunting, would make room for them.

It is simple and produces a solid indulgent hunk of a slice, the zippy topping is optional. It is lovely with fresh berries, or even thawed frozen ones with a little sugar (in winter).

Classic New York Cheesecake Yield: 1 cake

1-kilo or 2 pounds quality cream cheese

1 1/2 cups sugar

'/4 cup or 4 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup cream or orange juice

2 tablespoons good vanilla

6 eggs

mix thoroughly in food processor with “s” blade or in mixer with whip, being careful not to whip too much air into the batter.

base or crust

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

¼ cup white or brown sugar

½ cup melted butter

Combine crumbs, butter and sugar and press lightly on the bottom and up the sides of a medium (10 inch) spring form or cheesecake pan. Pour cheesecake batter on top, don't overfill or when it bakes it will topple over the side and fall off and your cheesecake will look funny. Bake in 325 degree low fan oven for 75 minutes or more. Jiggle slightly and the middle should NOT seem at all liquid. Turn off oven and let rest for an hour. Remove and cool completely then chill. If the cake is stuck set on stove top burner on medium for about 30 seconds or use torch ( briefly) on outside of pan to release the crust from the pan.

Optional topping: 30 grams sour cream, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, 3 tablespoons cast sugar. Blend by hand until there is no detectable graininess. top and spread out on cheesecake but leave edges uncovered (1-2 cm around the edge free of topping)

Its Been Busy!

I have decided to write daily blog entries for a while. I am also submitting a recipe a week. The first one is my simple but first rate cheesecake recipe. It has family history and it is good in all seasons. It is a special occasion dessert due to its decadence.

I have arrived at the St Heliers Library. I walked from home along the shoreline for about an hour and a half to get here. Its a stunning day. St Heliers is a very civilized and well equipped suburb. It is sophisticated but not stuffy. New Zealand has wonderful libraries. My former San Juan Island library is hard to beat, though.

It has been an eventful couple of weeks here in Auckland. The whole family, Jordan, Desmond Lillian and I, went to a great music and art festival at Topapakanga reserve, about 90 minutes from home. One paid for admission for the whole weekend and that included camping area and facilities. We arrived at about dinner time on Friday night and the camping area was full of tents and people. We parked a good distance from the camping and lugged our gear to a gap in the tent community. There were probably 5000 people there. The reserve (a Kiwi word for park) was amazing and it was decked out with flair, to understate it! There were beautiful shimmery gauzy flags about one yard wide and four or five yards tall all around the grounds, wind whipping cooperatively with them. We took a vintage firetruck shuttle from a one legged man (not going unnoticed by our vocal kids) down to the stages, food pavilion and art vendors. The main stage was right up against the beach and had crazy wild light show effects. There were magical enormous trees, some with sculptural enhancements and lots of large star shaped lanterns swaying in the trees, lighting up the summer night. We danced in the blacklight strobe framed by a huge carved picture frame. The kids favorite scene was the giant swing made from a smooth slick slab of wood and swinging on four large ropes with room for about ten or so kids. The lighting was enchanting and the crowd was happy and peaceful. We didn't have a single drink or anything else for recreational enhancement but I suspect there were some chemicals cursing through the artful minds of some there. What a difference it is to go to a festival these days. Where there used to be drunken brawls and people upchucking, there are now kites being flown and people asking how one another, even strangers, are. Where there used to be shores littered with beer bottles there are now empty plastic water bottles (you cant win them all). Im not condoning the use of ecstasy or MDMA, but it sure is much more family friendly for the non users in the crowd. One highlight of the festival for me was a rollicking swim on Sunday, which was pretty stormy. I was within good view of the band with its two horns and spirited guitars and drums. I got to dance in the water which was in big gentle swells. I was in mermaidic bliss. Eventually I got the whole family to the dance floor and we watched act after act, particularly enjoying the Wellington Ukulele Orchestra who had devout fans and great senses of humor.

We had guests Bruce Robinson (Nina's early years elementary teacher) and his wife Tina Fisher for an overnight. They have been travelling for five or so months through Australia and New Zealand. It was nice to see them and hear of there life on the island and their travels. It was also refreshing to have fellow Americans around, especially ones that share a lot of our views and humor.

I went off to a weekend seminar of Avatar consciousness training. It was good and bad. The introductory section one that I attended was administered by “Avatar masters” using two textbooks by Harry Palmer, the founder. I found the techniques a little novel, particularly considering how simple they were. We saw one video each of the two ten hour days. The premise to the program is that we all are operating as our beliefs dictate and our belief systems are not always in good clean working order. You may have an outdated belief sabotaging your efforts and you can find it and “discreate” it if you take the full course (for $2900 NZD). I got my moneys worth from my two day trial and have a shiny new set of clarified consolidated goals and some awareness of old beliefs I have carried and the reassurance that I can slink free from them, on my own. One hook that the team used was the role Avatar can have in helping usher in a new enlightened planetary civilization, world peace and elevating the collective consciousness. I say: fine and dandy, we need that for sure! But does it have to be so expensive? Is the Star's Edge corporation (read Avatar) giving where it can, (it doesn't take a mathematician to figure out where they can give) It was the suffocating pressure that started to mount on the second day to get me to cut loose with the real money that turned me off, that and the chatty bragging about attending 'Wizards' year after year. Wizards is the grand Poobah (how do you spell Poobah poo bah Poo-ba...) of Avatar. It is where the truly elite Avatars get the really good lessons and the true tools to create civilizations. It costs over 7,000 USD and then you gotta figure out where to stay! Apparently those prices are still cheap, though, when you compare them to Scientology. Speaking of Scientology, there are plenty of connections there.

Let me just practice the good things I learned there, and there were some substantial ones, and take it in a homeopathic dose (that means a tiny bit only, Mom) It is amazing how much of our own blossoming we permit or prohibit in this life. My new Motto is: Reach high, but dont be afraid to eat the fruit on the ground either, just be sure to check for bugs.

I have been swimming five days a week for the last few weeks. I must say that the effort has been worth it and its not such a chore to get to the pool or the shore as it used to be. My workout time is getting longer to coincide with my upcoming event of Rangitoto to St Heliers swim which is 4.4 km and will probably take about an hour and a half if I'm swift. There are several hundred people who swim in it each year. I am sticking to my purist no wetsuit viewpoint (we in the togs are outnumbered 10 to 1 by the wetsuiters). I just hope that doesn't make me look more delicious from underneath, if you know what I mean. Im getting pretty hydrodynamic by now, especially from the coached swim sessions I go to twice a week. Last weeks tip really helped and Im sure Im swimming faster, but my neck muscles are rearranging and it has me sore. I think Ive grown in length from all that stretching and pulling.

I think the library is going to close soon. Id better get something else done, too. Its been nice blogging with you. Good day-night-morning .

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Part 2 of the journey that started in the last blog entry

We traveled through New Zealand's Northlands with as much ruckus and fun as we could. We listened to Liam Finn's fine songs, that was the only music aboard our van. Desmond was excited about the white sands and was now a motivating force to find them. We made it up to the Cape Reinga turnoff and headed up the final stretch. I had read a description of a backpacker (hostel) up towards the sands and I wished Id had one of the guides they give away for reference. We passed up the turn off to 90 mile beach, having blasted down it on a tourist bus once already. It is a 30 mile stretch of beach that one can drive up or down. The tide is key, though, and if you don't travel avoiding high tide you'll be in danger of losing your car in the surf. I find cars on the beach to be perverse not to mention what driving on the beach can do to your cars salt sensitive underparts.

We rode through countryside that changed it's look frequently. The Northland is at one moment flat and spacious and five minutes later, wooded and cozy. It's February, the equivalent of August in the Northern Hemi which means there are tomatoes for sale down peoples drives and melons and fresh corn stands often. There is some interesting history of the Gum diggers up that way. Laborors came to dig for pockets of wood sap gum from these ancient HUGE Kauri trees that were buried on their side thousands of years ago. It was used for resins (in varnish and paints), marine glue and linoleum and was a primary export of Auckland between 1850 and 1950. Maori peoples used it for fire starting, when cooked with animal fat, as a tattooing pigment and as chewing gum. The big mystery is what caused the huge tsunami that leveled the area a few thousand years ago. Maybe it was a enormous meteor or the mother of earthquakes.

Even though it is much closer to the equator , The Northland reminds me of some of the towns and outposts in rural Alaska. One white knuckle departure onto a radically crooked gravel road which we shared with logging trucks took us (finally) down to a sleepy village called Te Hapua where we ambled our van along the shoreline and found a public toilet shack(finally). We poked around at the beach and ended up checking out a fisherman. The beach that we crossed to investigate the Native man's undertaking seemed like a regular basic beach. It was flat and sandy. After we got over I realized that it had become a rock shelf and it dropped off into pretty deep water at once, with the man standing right on the edge. He had a hand held winder rig and a hook with a half a slender silver fish for bait a few inches long. He was there to catch a King fish and he could tell they were coming because their dinner, which was a school of smaller fish were parading by , actually over and over again, in big circles. I was trying to point out the drop off to the kids and Lillian went right up to the edge to see it. We learned of the king fish farm that had gone belly up there years before and gazed at the eerie yet lovely and inviting white sand dunes across the inlet. As it turns out, the only way for us to get to them is by Kayak (which was quickly ruled out by the mom.) The fisherman decided to pull in his line when "the cousins" all came to the nearby dock to swim. As we drove out there were beautiful free roaming horses running on a beach. The houses were boxy shacks with various conversations and hanging out happening in the yards. It had that dusty sleepy feel of Aleutian villages. No one in too much of a hurry. The drive out was not nearly as nerve racking, for some reason. We went on to another outer realm called Paua where there was a huge majestic old barn or warehouse in full delapitation with a big sign on it DANGER ASBESTOS HAZARD! Desmond , of course, liked it and wanted to go in. We went out to a dock where a small and varied group of people were fishing and when I encountered what they were after a boy told me 'baby Snapper" . Snapper is a different and more prized fish here in New Zealand than the bargain fish by the same name in the United States. There seemed to be some sort of private entry campground behind a gate with a sign directing interest in camping to a store some 15 kilometers away. I looked at the campground and surmised that the scene was for much more equipped campers than we were with our impromptu packing job. So we headed on southward down the Aupouri Peninsula.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

procrastination, get outta there...its time to squeeze turnips.

Some say that you cant squeeze blood out of a turnip. Im going to get blood out of a turnip! Itll just be turnip blood. But then it will be good for vegetarians to read, too. I keep waiting for the perfect content for the blog and the shining captivating childs story plot to curl out of the pen, all the topics in my journal, sitting waiting. Nothing seems important, entertaining or significant enough. Im going to write everyday regardless of what comes, though. Ill keep writing. I am also going to swim everyday. Even if I have to crumple up and throw away the drivel with my scaly salted, clorinated hands, Ill keep trying until something good comes out!

The fact is that a crafty writer can make a story about standing in line at the bank fascinating. After finally serving my last day at work to embark full time on my studies, I was dismayed to experiance no spontaneous productivity in my writing. What was wrong? Id cleared the slate, it was time to produce! I spent plenty of time planning what to write, and when I could write but the planning didnt bear written fruit!

I had to back myself off. Me maligning myself wasnt solving the problem. My husband seemed to be constantly working out his studies, why couldn't I? About a week ago I was downright surley from the dilemma.

My studies are a three pronged impliment of writing, competitive ocean swimming and an offbeat fiber arts project. I was rotating from one realm to the other without much progress on anything. The writing was particularly stumped. Then one thing happened. One night Lillian crawled up on the dest and tipped over a drink onto my laptop. There was a graceful spontaneous cooperation between Jordan and myself as he unplugged it and I tipped out the water, cringing. We dried it out and all seemed fine until I started writing on it. The computer was doing some pretty strange rearranging of my words. This was actually a blessing, though. I had bonified permission to get off my back about writing!

In a matter of a couple of days of catching up on swimmming and getting into a crazy wonderful repair of our hammock using fun old tea towels I was feeling worthy again. One evening I decided to go to do an exersize routine that winds around Panmure basin. It's one of those circuts with 12 different stations and a circle of 3.5 kilometers to walk. The walk is around the basin, a lakelike inlet that disappears twice a day with the tide. It is a lovely natural arena and the people are interesting to note: many shapes, sizes and modes. Desmond showed an interest in going and we tried to pry Jordan and Lillian from the couch to join us. Jordan windged about having to study, which is exactly what he'd done all day. Focussed at the computer with a sort of confused faraway look on his face. Each time I tried to get him to garden or play with me he had that somber response. I'd had enough. Was it so unreasonable to expect to fit somewhere into his agenda? Why did I care about it anyway?!

" I just want to do something with us all together!"

"I told you, I have to study, you and Desmond go by yourselves."

"harrumph!" I harumphed, "If we are so much a bother for you to relate to, maybe we should just go away for a few days and let you really study, without any of our distractions!"

Then there was this glimmer in Jordans eye. I could see that that sounded good to him. That made me even more irritated! So in the flash of an instant a trip was concieved and we packed an odd assortment of supplies and headed out at about 9:30 pm on a summer monday night, the last day of a three day weekend. Better late than never.

I was at a loss as to where we would go. I called my friend Helen and shared the bewilderment of my open ended travel plan. She was slightly encouraging and certainly a good listener, but going to her house was out of the question, due to her landlord living very close to her cottage and her recent evening visitors causing some tension with him. She having babysat my kids plenty of times, knew that trying to keep them mum would be futile. I decided, after serving my kids 50 cent ice cream cones from the drive-through, that I would head North. I drove along as the children slept. I reflected on the events, I called Jordan on my cell phone to make sure our parting hadnt left him ,or us rather, too estranged. I asked him if he wanted to know when we were coming back. He simply replied: " I trust you'll come home when you are ready and have gotten what you left for."

OK, now with that out of the way, I was looking forward... into the lights of endless cars, heading back into Auckland after the long weekend and also looking into the meteor shower in the righthand corner of the windsheild.

I stopped at a hotel about 90 minutes out of town, paid and carried the sleeping beauties into beds and flipped through the channels on the TV. LOST was on and it seemed to fit.

The next day we had some chammomile tea, apples and peanuts for our breakfast and set out to see what we could see.

I had been working a lot at a job that didnt seem right until a week before. I had lost touch with my kids, a little. They called me Daddy out of habit when they had a question or a need. This kind of bugged me. It was time to reconnect with them.

We had a great three day excursion. We headed to the White sillica sands of the Northland. I had read about them and had conjured up a very novel fantasy about staying there. I told the kids we were going to the "land of the white sands" I couldnt remember exactly where they were but New Zealand gets less complicated at the top and I knew we'd find them. There was no notation of them on my map of the area. We had a second breakfast at a neat little cafe and gallery I'd gone to with my pal Nancy when she was down for a visit. There were toys and the kids ate a nice portion of eggs, which would ground them a little for the travelling to come. I wrote a little and sipped a coffee. There was a daredevellish airplane spraying some white powder on the nearby forest, Desmond was intrigued. The ladies that ran the restaurant were very hospitible and we left felling well cared for. The next stop was the Koanga Organic Garden center. I had read about the place and even bought a catalogue of classes and products recently. The kids roamed around the seed garden and checked out the cool mud hut, made for children to explore. It was shaped like an igloo, but made of earth and had some bottles sculpted into it to let in just a little light. Lillians comment was "Too scary". Desmond also had some true repulsion as to the outhouse, although I thought was really charming. We bought some honey for a valentines package were making to send off to to the Northern hemisphere, a book about gardening, and a nice country dress there too, Lillian,having already stained both outfits I had brought for her. We got cute little "strawberry" apples and amazingly yummy manderin oranges for our journey. They also had toys and the kids were pretty well behaved. We drove on to an animal park which was (thank God) closed. The kids had seen the sign and I thought it would be a good leg stretcher, so we followed the country road, winding on encountering a few one lane bridges. Despite the sandwich board signs set up on the roads, the place was closed for the day. It looked to me that you walked around someones livestock on fenced paths and looked at them, occasionally stopping at openings to feed the beasts with the bag of feed provided. All for 24.00. Luckily I didnt have to be the source of that "no".

It was darned hot in the afternoon and we were relying on the air conditioning, but there was a bad squeal that would come and go when I turned it on. I figured it must just need a belt dressing, I stopped and had a mechanic take a look. The air conditioning motor was seizing and we had to travel without it from then on. This meant that we now had that safari feel (and look) of travelling with the windows fully down. I had noticed some tiime ago that there was uneven wear on one front tire. I kept thinking of it and decided to get it checked out. A very nice and busy fellow at a tire (or as they spell it here, TYRE) center told me I should replace the tire, but they were some special long wearing wallet gouging 180.00 a peice. he normally replace two at a time, but under the circumstances he could do some rotation and just replace one. Desmond was asleep in the car and we left him there for a few minutes to go to the toilet. The toilets in this particular town, called KawaKawa are very famous as it turns out. They were designed and partially built by a visionary archetect and artist named Frederick Hundertwasser. Here is a link to some photos of it. Quite a priveledged privy! www.pbase.com/philinnz/kawakawa_toilets

When we got back to the car, with man underneath, Desmond was awake, looking a little hot and disheveled. The man had decided to check our spare tire and had discovered a pristine one, and had moved the other rear tire up and put the spare on the back. No new tire or 180.00 bill. That was my second car service with no charge, how nice. We went to a railroad station cafe where the kids had a piece of carrot cake and ambled through the vintage trains, swung on some swings, and got back into the car for more safari driving north.