Friday, October 29, 2010

But it's just culture...

After much deliberation we have decided to leave all books, magazines, CDs, records and DVDs behind.

This is because once they arrive in the country, they will be screened by Vietnamese customs for any 'culturally offensive' material.  They will charge us to do this, and we risk losing the whole container if they find anything they disapprove of.  So, in the interests of keeping things simple, we're not going to risk it.

Just a little reminder that Vietnam is still a communist country.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Who needs sleep anyway?

It has been a week without William.  Martin says he is sleeping MUCH better. That will be because every night for the last three years he has been woken up in one way or another by the cat.  Either because the cat wants out, or because the cat wants to play, or to have something to eat, or just because the cat was lonely. 

Before we moved to Pt Chev we used to often get early morning deliveries from William - of little animals, or parts of little animals.  Dead or alive.  But the hunting grounds at the beach have not been so fertile, for some reason - lucky for us.  I wonder how he'll get on in Hamilton - there are lots of birdies in that big old oak tree.

I am sleeping badly, though.  It is, I suppose, the anxiety of moving.  I'm very grouchy all the time when I'm awake, and when I sleep I have anxious dreams.  Silly really - because it's all going quite well, actually.

We have flight bookings almost confirmed - Dec 15th.  We have the packers organised - they are coming next Friday, Nov 5th.  The new tenants in the flat actually WANT us to leave stuff behind for them, and have even given us some money for it.  Bless them.  I have paid all the bills - including the FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS of parking tickets I didn't even know I had until I got the Court Fines the other day in the post.  That'll be the last time I'm ever tardy about getting my registration renewed. William is rehoused. We have LOTS of undies (hooray for Bendon sales!). Most of the major worries are taken care of.

Outstanding worries:
  • We need to get confirmation of no criminal records from the Ministry of Justice, and then get them authenticated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.  
  • We have to get academic records notarised and authenticated.  A lawyer friend says she can do the notarising. Problem is, a couple of years ago, Martin accidentally disposed of my degrees, which were in a poster roll. So I am in the process of requesting letters from the universities confirming that I am, in fact educated.
  • Martin's Passport - Martin accidentally disposed of his passport about a month ago.  (Notice a pattern here? Also, this morning I was mad at him because I think he accidentally threw away my shoe.) So we are waiting for the new one to arrive. Martin's passport is needed for EVERYTHING - flight bookings, visa, shipping - EVERYTHING.  Hopefully it will arrive in the next few days.
  • Medical - we need to go and get vaccinated for, probably, every disgusting thing on the earth.  Despite being told several times by everyone to do this, we still have not begun the process.
  • Sell the car. I have never sold a car. Am counting on Martin's extensive car-worldly family to help with this one.
  • Work.  I'm really hating being a Dead Woman Walking.  There's not much longer to go, I keep telling myself. 26 Nov = last day. Martin finishes a week ahead of that on Nov 19th.
But, hey.  Look at this:

Neat, huh?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We got Married on Oct 7th

It was a good day, in the end, and I’m glad it’s over now.  Even with only a week or so of fussing around, it still got quite stressful – I simply cannot understand why people have long engagements and women talk about arranging their weddings as if it was an opportunity to broker world peace, or holiday in Paris for a month. 
There were many temptations to expand the programme – talk of new dresses and hats and celebrants and music and flowers and so on.  But we managed to quash almost all of them. 
We did get a cake.  A friend made us a very impressive chocolate layer cake – made with no less than one and a half blocks of Whittaker’s Dark Ghana and a whole lot more love than Eve’s Pantry could have mustered up.  Unfortunately we never got a chance to serve the cake to our guests on the day - there were some logistical challenges!
The earliest in time I could get a booking for the ceremony at the Registry Office was 2:30 pm.  Which meant that we had 3 hours to fill between the end of the ceremony at 3, and the dinner reservation at 6. The wedding party consisted of:
·         Bride and Groom (30 somethings)
·         Grooms Parents (late 70s)
·         Mother of the Bride (50)
·         Teenage Goons (14, x2)
The Groom’s Fathe is not all that mobile - he uses a walker - which ruled out any demanding physical activities.  Mother of the Bride has no sense of direction and doesn't know Auckland roads, but was required to drive...  And the Teenage Goons were professionally bored, but surprisingly well-behaved and helpful - we put them in charge of cameras. Which, pretty much everybody’s camera batteries had run out by the time we got to the ceremony (see earlier reference re Naughty MoB – did we really need to take 500 photos of everyone waiting to be called into the ceremony room, or video footage of us all getting into the lift?), so we really put them in charge of cell phones.
We decided that we would take everyone up to the top of North Head for a picnic of champagne and wedding cake, and some photos with guns and tunnels. Of course, our optimism got the better of us, and the weather was really not that conducive to a picnic. Plus, even though we drove up as far as we could, it was still going to be too much of an off-road walk for Martin’s parents to get to the gun emplacements.  We did all pile out and get some photos at the top of the hill, though.
The registry office is truly not the world’s most romantic wedding venue – though there were some things about it that I really liked.  Like, the picture of the Queen on the wall in the ceremony room.  And the charming young woman who was our allocated celebrant.  And the fact that it was all over in about 10 minutes.

We went for dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Ponsonby called Soto.  It was expensive, but beautiful food.   I don’t have any pictures of their food, but they have images on the website which if you click through you will get the idea:
Gene who is on a somewhat restricted diet because of his stroke medication worked methodically and determinedly through a crayfish, and I ordered a massive pile of sashimi which was wonderful.
And then finally all that was left to do was to try and get everybody home.  It didn’t quite go without a hitch – I confidently drove mother and the boys to the WRONG hotel.  Then Mum accidentally backed into a pole and put a little ding in the bumper of her new car (not serious, hardly noticeable).  And at 3 am I got a txt from the security guard at Selwyn Retirement Village telling me that she had found my wallet in the carpark.  I hadn’t even realised I’d dropped it...  But no harm done! 
So – as I mentioned earlier – it was a good day, and I’m glad it’s over!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wedding vows

I didn't have to say much:

"I solemnly declare that I do not know of any impediment to this marriage between me (full name) and (full name).   I call upon these persons here present to witness that I (full name), take you (full name) to be my legal husband."

But that didn't stop me from blubbing all the way through it.


We are going through the rigamarole of trying to get the shipping organised, with only 10 days left until we need to get all the stuff OUT of the house.

We have a realistic quote now from one company, and are waiting on the second company to send a quote through. We are hopeful that we will just scrape through under budget on the shipping for the company to pay the full bill, even though we're only taking 3 cubic metres of stuff.  Most of that stuff is Martin's music gear - guitars, amps, pedals, records.

I can think of at least one person who wouldn't be upset if we can't fit it all in.

Just because it has a KFC, doesn't mean it's good.

As we were driving through Huntly Martin said: "It's sounds like he's saying 'no'".


Ten minutes before Huntly, the cries had suddenly gotten a lot louder.  Martin turned around to check - and: "Oh my god!  He's out! Stop the car! He's out!".

So I pulled over.

We had originally wedged the cage on the floor between the passenger seat and the back seat - which seemed like the safest place. When I turned around to look, William was three quarters of hte way out of the box, with the front grill gaping open, and screaming at us. 

2 minutes later he had escaped a second time, so we had to rethink.  For the remainder of the journey Martin balanced the cage on his lap, while I drove as slowly as I dared in the holiday weekend traffic.

Apart from the vehement protests at the misery which is the drive through Huntly, William did actually calm down quite a bit after that. 

At Grandma's house, he quickly found himself a hidey-hole and calmed down.  I forgot to take any pictures, of course, so maybe my mother can send some through and I'll upload them (hint).  Grandma's kitten Smoke desperately wanted to play with William, Bella was pissed off about the whole thing, and Jess was excited about having a new baby and on her best submissive behaviour. 

When I called after the second night to see how he'd coped, Grandma said: "You never told me William was so good at playing ping pong at 3 o'clock in the morning."  And then this text the next day:

Bella is watching tv jess and smoke are curled up at my feet and William is on my knee they have me trapped

I think he'll be fine.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sweet William (Wees Bum)

He knows.

The worst part about that is, even though he knows, he doesn't really know how bad it actually is.

William has been Mister Snuggles all week. He is glued to us. He has always had this endearing character trait, of preferring to be equidistant between us at all times. For the last three nights he has planted himself firmly in the middle of the bed between us, and stayed there all night. He gets up to go to the kitchen for a snack when one of us gets up. And then he comes back to bed.

Occasionally he forgets, and plays with his ball for a bit, or chews Martin's shoelaces. But then he comes back. He sits on the pillows. He claws the couch. And he looks at us with this mournful little face.

And then this morning - he hid. Under the bed, not even making eye contact when we shoved our heads down there to find him. And brutally yank him out, and turf him onto the street with a strong admonishment to POO.

Because tonight is the night of worst drive to Hamilton I have ever had to make. We will be prepared: wet wipes, rubber gloves, plastic bags, old towels. The litter box, the toys, a cushion, the carpet squares, a tshirt his Daddy has worn to snuggle into when the dreaded DOGGIE is looking at him.

Poor little Bungle.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Xe Om, Pho

These are the two Vietnamese words I know.

Xe Om - Motorbike taxi. Literally - Motorbike hug. The idea is that you jump on the back of a motorbike, hug the driver, and get him to take you and your live chicken to wherever you need to go.

But doesn't this fellow look like he needs a cuddle?

Pho - Vietnamese noodle soup. Using a kiwi accent, it's pronounced something like a cross between 'fa' as in 'father' and 'fu' as in 'fur'.

Yes, we are going for the food...