Thursday, November 18, 2010

This is not a sex blog

OK.  So this doesn't have anything to do with Vietnam, or Sweet William or whether or not Spaghetti Schnabel should become our National Dish.

But, another blogger has thrown down the gauntlet by asking: tell me about the most disgusting thing that's ever invaded your home.

And I was telling the story just the other day - at dinner - with this lovely family.

Posh and Becks.  Bubba was there too, but tucked away safely of course.

Don't get excited.  That's not then - note the absence of any bump in this photo.  Facebook is the lazy blogger's saviour.  It was the night of the gig, actually.

To be clear - it wasn't a wonderful dinner-table story.  You might want to put down your lunch.

For three years, because we were poor and quite stupid Martin and I lived in the armpit of Grey Lynn.  The little gully down the back of Chinaman's Hill, between the cliff-face and the motorway.  And the armpit of Grey Lynn is moist and greasy and densely populated with these guys:

That is a leopard slug.

They grow very long.  My grandfather used to have slugs in his vegetable garden.  They'd be burrowed among the lettuce leaves and generally not much more than a couple centimetres long.  You could just wash them down the sink.

These guys get to about NINETEEN centimeters long.  You can't wash them down the sink.  If there was one of these in your kitchen sink and you turned the tap on it, it would just stay there.  Sticking.

I don't know why, but they come in the windows.  They'll come in the front door.  They climb up the curtains.  They get between the couch cushions.  Everywhere they go they leave trails. They are so big, and so purposeful in their movements, they look as though they have thoughts.  This isn't just a blind little worm, lost.  The slugs INVADE.

I began to develop a phobia.  I would imagine that they were coming in the window and slugging past my face as I slept.  One night I was home alone, and I woke up to see a fully fifteen centimeter long slug MARCHING across the carpet in the living room.  It had entered through the bedroom window, slugged past my sleeping self, out of the bedroom and was making its way to the couch.  In panic, I grabbed a tupperware bowl and trapped it underneath.  I was so anxious to stop it before it could escape I had dropped tupperware all over the floor, but I didn't want to turn my back on it and clean up.

I sat up and waited for my rescue, and when Martin finally got in I shrieked at him:  THERE'S A SLUG!  IT'S UNDER THE THING!

And when he picked up the first 'thing' he could see and said "It's not there" I nearly died.   (Don't worry, dear Reader - he got right thing and evacuated the slug before anyone was hurt.  Slug evacuation, by the way, generally entails hurling the little buggers over the neighbour's fence.)

So, as I explained to our by now horrified friends, I realised that I needed to do something about this sluggish phobia.  A little aversion therapy and education, I thought, will cure this.

Ask me anything you want about leopard slugs.  I know it all. 

They are fascinating. Someone even found beauty in them once - lookit!

Sadly, for me, aversion therapy and education didn't work. I don't care if you've got a blue penis winding out of your head. You're still not allowed on my windowsills.

Slug sex is very egalitarian.  Ain't no patriarchy amongst the hermaphrodites.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What's grits anyway?

I'm not going to say it was the last one.  Because, as Martin has told me many many time - bands don't break up these days.  The Grits have got a gig booked with a different guitarist some time next year already. And some day we will be coming home.

But Friday night was the last Hot Grits gig Martin will get a chance to play before we go.

I'm a horrible wife, and I used to be a horrible girlfriend.  The last Hot Grits gig I went to was at the Parihaka Festival.  In January. And, oh wow.  Parihaka.  Look at this - the Hot Grits are playing just after 2 minutes in.

I've been to quite a few festivals with the Grits but this was far and away the best.  Really peaceful.  A whole, family atmosphere - kids running around and food smells everywhere. 

The landscape in that area is formed by lahars that have spilled out of the caldera of Taranaki over thousands of years.  It is as if the land is so impressed by its own provenance that it has gooseflesh.  There are little bumpy hillocks rising out of the ground all over the place, and at the area where the Parihaka settlement was the mounds are everywhere and close together. You can't really see the hill bumps, but you can see the volcano (and a comet) in the background of this old postcard.

I'm easily impressed by geology.  If you don't know much about the story of Parihaka, I recommend giving this a read.  We hear a lot about the history of New Zealand's wars, and Parihaka is an inspiring though heart-breaking story about New Zealand's revolutionary thinkers, striving to bring peace in a time of great turmoil.

Anyway - Friday night - Khuja Lounge.   And I'm so glad, also, that it was at Khuja Lounge.  It was the right place.  It's a small place and it was filled with friends. I, who normally avoid parties put on my brave face and DRANK and had a really wonderful time. Even if it was Friday night, and my general stance on Friday night gigs is that they shouldn't be allowed.  Who has the energy to go out at midnight after a week of working?  (People with access to drugs, you say. To which I respond - my drug of choice is SLEEP.  You people are insane!)

Does anybody have a picture of the tap?  Martin was holding my phone at tap presentation time.

Here's the best picture I got of the band with my crummy iPhone camera.

Well.  Half of the band.

Planning's for pansies

So, all those plans, like the flight to Danang and Christmas in the tropical beach huts - they were good for about six hours.

Last night we got offered a house and driver in Saigon for free from Dec 17th to Dec 26th.  In exchange we have to comb a cat every now and then.

It's a ragdoll cat. No - this isn't the actual cat - but I suppose it looks something like this.  Martin will be in heaven. 

A driver, people!  Just call me Miss Daisy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Take the blue pill

Even though most things are now organised, I still feel anxious a lot of the time. I know what you will suggest:

[I was going to insert an image of some charming little pharmaceuticals here - but Blogger's being difficult so you'll just have to imagine them].

We have done:
  • Passports
  • Visas - visitor visa is sorted.  Work Visa can't be sorted until after we arrive.
  • Notarising (but not authenticating)
  • Moving
  • Poor little William
  • A Budget
We still need to do:
  • Banking
  • Medical things
  • The Accountant
  • Wills?
  • Sell the car
  • Sell the TV
  • Finish work
  • Plan the rest of the holiday
  • The Family Party on Nov 27th
We have sorted some holiday things out.  We are going to stay here for Christmas

And  I have purchased flights from Saigon to Danang on Dec 18th - which is the holiday kick-start. So it's real!

Anyway, as part of the coping strategy Martin and I have decided to have Family Meeting Time after work each day.  Tonight's agenda item is banking.  We'll try not to kill each other. Sortof.

Friday, November 12, 2010

If they feed us like that in Vietnam we won't be wanting to leave

We have hardly been at home this week.  Last night we had dinner with Damon and Lynne, who are on a whistle-stop visit from the States. 

We haven't seen Damon since his last visit home 4 years ago - and if it weren't for Facebook, we'd probably have lost touch.  Thank God for Facebook.  But Facebook is not entirely reliable - we had to tell the whole story, about the job, the wedding and the move - Damon had heard none of it.

However, Facebook does have some uses.  Here's the lovely couple:

Fittingly, we decided to go to the new Vietnamese restaurant that has just opened in Downtown Auckland.  Cafe Hanoi is just behind the back entrance of Britomart, and has enjoyed several great reviews already.

I didn't take any photos of the food, or anything else.  It has only just occured to me now that it might have been a good idea to do so.  The restaurant's website is currently only very basic - contact details and the menu - so I can't crib any pictures from there, either.  BUT - the food was wonderful and I recommend my fellow Aucklanders to give it a go.

Go!  Eat!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Offencive [sic] Behaviour

Beautiful, isn't it?

Mt Maunganui is a popular spot with New Zealand's Disaffected Yoof, and at no time is it more popular than on New Year's Eve.   For example, this is a typical news report in early January. 

So, flashback to 1990. Or maybe 1991.  It would seem that it was such a great year that we can't exactly remember what year it was. 

And imagine this guy:

But maybe 21 years younger, and quite possibly trying hard to look like this guy:

And now, imagine him doing this:

And you will see that we had a little problem on our hands.  Because New Year's Eve at the Mount is teeming with cops, and apparently was even back in the olden days, when Martin got caught with his pants down.

Dear Reader - we have spent the last 3 weeks nervously waiting to see whether this whole thing would be off because Martin wasn't actually sure whether he got a conviction or not - though he definitely remembers the fine.

But tonight I will be opening a bottle of wine with dinner because we're clear! 

For those of you who are wondering - fining drunk teenagers for peeing on fences does NOTHING AT ALL to deter them from the practice as drunk adult men.  Perhaps he really should have been served a conviction after all...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bella was so pleased with herself.

Last night I called my mother to give her an update on progress.

"How are you?" I asked.

"Not good." Was her reply. William had been missing since Sunday night.

William is not a cat who has ever shown any tendency to run away much before. He's a hider. I thought I had lost him as a kitten - certain he'd run away - to eventually find him rolled into a tight little ball on a shelf in my wardrobe. When I finally found him, and tearfully reached out to him - he hissed at me with all the venom his little milk-teeth could muster.

His tactic with dogs, vacuum-cleaners, the ironing-board, visitors, amplifiers and all other scary things has always been to dive for under the bed and stay there until either the coast is clear or he has been forcibly evicted.

So I was pretty certain that he wouldn't be lost, but that he would have been hiding, and watching everyone call for him like the big ol' scaredy-cat he is.

I arrived in Hamilton at about 10pm. We had a cup of coffee, armed ourselves with torches and headed out for the bushes. Mum and Oliver had already scoured the neighbourhood every night and morning for 3 days, so they weren't hopeful. Mum had knocked on all the neighbour's doors and distributed fliers and nobody had seen him. One neighbour had said that he had seen William chasing off a big burmese, and then run off himself - on Sunday.

It took all of 5 minutes, really. As soon as he heard my voice calling for him he came yowling behind me, with Bella in hot pursuit. Bella, my Grandmother's cat, considers herself the rightful owner of the Hamilton house. Bella was NOT HAPPY about William having emerged again, when she had been working so hard these last 3 days to keep him OUT of her house.

She saw us coming and started dancing on the street - as if to say - "Look, I chased that horrible other cat away. Aren't I good?"

I scooped William up and carried him the 3 doors down the street back to the house. Jess, the dreaded Doggie gave us a bit of a rush at the gate, and William in his panic scraped my decolletage (to put it politely) to pieces.

Once he was back inside Bingle was perfectly happy again. And hungry. Smoke is of course delighted to have his playmate back.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halt! Who goes there?

The passport has finally arrived! 

Now the only documentation we are still waiting for is:
  • University transcripts (mine)
  • Criminal record info (Martin's - the first copy never arrived, second copy ordered, should arrive this week)
  • Marriage certificate (ordered, should arrive tomorrow)
Once we have EVERYTHING, we can send the packet off to be notarised and authenticated.

All this so that we can try and avoid a scene like this one on arrival in Vietnam:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Art(-ichoke)ful Dodger

How to decide what to take to Vietnam

So, if you're trying to move to Vietnam, this might help you decide what to take (click on the picture to see a bigger version):