Sunday, February 28, 2010


Last week I had a day off and Tyson didn't work until 5pm, therefore, we made a plan to tramp along the Fernhill Loop - a hike right in our neighborhood. Admittedly, I didn't have any real knowledge of this hike. After about forty-five minutes of scooting along a trail in the woods, I was starting to think it was going to be really pretty and nice to be outside, but slightly boring.

When we finally cleared the trees an absolutely stunning view revealed itself. This was our lunch spot - 360 degrees of it.

Sigh, I need to get out more. Apparently there are loads...heaps! of these hikes all over the place. If this is in our back yard, I can't imagine what it will be like on our four-day backpacking trip along the Routeburn Trail in April. Eeek!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

beautiful scenery.

I've spoken to several people over skype lately, and I usually have very similar things to report. I've been relaxing. Literally, total relaxation. So often in the states when I relax I feel riddled with guilt. I realize this isn't normal OR healthy, but its true. Feeling productive is like crack to me. For the past three weeks I've been working, running, eating delicious food cooked at home with a glass of wine in-hand, and watching movies or the Olympics. I do not have a cell phone. I don't have any friends - besides lovely Caitlin and Loren who have been slammed with parties, a wedding, a visit from papa and work - and therefore my social life has been reduced to minimal proportions. And I can't emphasize how much I say this without one ounce of complaint. In Seattle or Minneapolis, I'm used to jamming my calendar full of activities or just about anyone I can find to hang out with me. After three weeks of total and complete relaxation I feel like I'm finally able to take in the sights around me. Finally able to breathe and not feel in a rush. To just sit. And not feel bad about it, but rather, to relish in it. I feel like I'm coming back to life also. Like this blender spiral I was spinning around in has finally settled into a brilliant smoothie of delicious colors and flavors. I feel good. I feel great! I feel settled. And happy. I feel more like myself than I have in a really long time. I finally have the time to sit and reflect on the things I want out of life and the goals I'd like to try and accomplish in the next few years. So often in the spin of the real world its so hard to bring yourself out of the fog and into a head space that's clear and free. I feel lucky to be here and to have this time to feel so free. Its completely grand.

I can't say its been an easy road to get here. Its been quite the wild ride of emotions and soul-searching. But, nothing in life worth anything is ever easy.

So with that said, I don't have a lot of visual representation of what life's been like. I've got some more beautiful scenery because that is what I live off of at the moment. Beautiful scenery. And some good food...and always, a great glass of wine.

This is the scenery from the balcony in our condo. The sunset over The Remarkables was...well, remarkable.

In other news, Tracy and Scott were here for a visit last week. It was really nice to have a piece of "home" here on the other side of the planet. On their last day, it felt strange when they left to say, "See you in Seattle!" while standing there on the sidewalk, looking out at the mountains and the lake. Odd how small the world is and that 24 hours later they'd be relaxing in their Woodinville house, probably saying how weird it was that just yesterday they were in New Zealand.

I've also learned a couple new kiwi phrases that I'd like to share. I heard my roommate, Dave, talking about one of his friends trying to basically give a girl the hint that he wasn't into her. He actually said, "He had one girl he was trying to Flick, but....yadda yadda." Interesting use of Flick. I suppose it makes total sense. Like an unwanted bug on your shoulder!

In a later conversation with said roommate, I asked him if the item he happened to be drinking was good or not. His answer, "Just like mother's milk" - meaning, its fantastic. I think I might try and incorporate that one into everyday American life. We'll see.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thumbs Up.

I realize that this is going to be the post that drives my parents insane. As if climbing Mount Adams didn't drive them insane enough - even though my mother is certain she has psychic powers and can tell when I'm struggling subsequently transporting powers to me. True story: While we were attempting our summit, I struggled mentally at a few different sections. Later, while recounting the feat to my mother she quickly asked what time these particular hurdles occurred. It just so happens it was in the exact moment she felt something. And she projected strength to me and BOOM! Shit is happening! Thanks Mama. You rule.

Apparently, hitchhiking is just as accepted in the south island of New Zealand as a hipster is on Capitol Hill, Seattle. I was reluctant at first and luckily I didn't even have to stick my thumb out to make it happen. There I was, walking along with two bags of groceries hanging from my grip when it started raining. I had just begun the long three mile walk to the house we were originally staying in when we first arrived here in Queenstown. Simply put, a little truck pulled over with a "normal" looking guy driving and he said, "Get In! Where you goin'?" With a little exhange of information we were off and on our way. A plumber by trade. We chatted small talk. Where are you from and yadda yadda. He dropped me off at the turn-off for our neighborhood and it was up to me to finish the last small leg of the journey. I couldn't believe it. One minute I was walking in the rain feeling like I was a Sahara dessert away from my destination, the next I was just a few steps from home. AND I was able to chat with a local! Pretty fun, actually.

On another occasion Tyson and I - once again bags of groceries in-hand - popped our thumbs out in hopes of a lift. Several cars zoomed right on by and I thought to myself, 'I don't think this is going to happen.' Then, magic. A Subaru station wagon pulled up and the cutest gal motioned for us to get in. Quickly I noticed that she was actually a mom with her roughly three-year old little girl in the back carseat. I actually had to squeeze OVER her daughter to get to the middle seat as both window seats were occupied. This woman was amazing. She was warm and funny, and immediately started telling us stories of she and her husband back before they put down roots. Back when they traveled and were "gypsies" (as she called) and therefore she totally understood what it was like to stand at the side of the road hoping for some gracious soul. She was a kiwi, but she and her husband had lived in both London and Spain for several years working before returning to the south island. Her curious daughter studied me before finally asking me where I was from. Then she asked where Tyson was from. We started talking. I asked her her name. Anouk. Adorable name. We talked about her lunch and her lunch containers. She asked if Tyson and I were going to the same place. Then if we lived together. The mother dropped us off expressing how lovely it was to have met us. I told her she had a very inquisitive, little daughter and she confirmed that Anouk would be wild with questions about us just as soon as the car pulled away. Seriously, what fun!

We finished walking up the street and I couldn't stop thinking about what a great experience hitching is. Its like getting a teeny snapshot of someone's life during the few moments where they are good-natured enough to take a risk and pick you up. I've never ridden with anyone who wasn't interesting in some way. Maybe that's due to my inquisitive nature, but still, everyone has something to share it seems.

So far I've had the privaledge of riding around with the following people:

A yound lad on his way to see his girlfriend. His car was literally the dirtiest car I've ever ridden in and I had to scrape the seat to sit down. We gave him a beer for his generosity.

A mom and her daughter, Anouk.

A young woman of whom I didn't even signal with a thumb. She simply pulled over wondering if I needed a lift.

A plumber. Again, no thumb necessary.

A woman in her sixties who was off to a quilting class with her friends.

A real estate man in his sixties who was clearly very well off and on his way to play some golf.

And, business man whose grown kids lived in both Australia and the States. When I asked if he misses them he said that he visits quite often. But then mentioned that the real highlight of his upcoming visit to his son was going to be catching the ACDC rock concert. Ha.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Last Saturday night I attended the celebration of a co-worker's last day working for CR before she heads off into the abyss of travel that is New Zealand and Australia. Being that I've worked at CR all of five minutes, I'm not extremely close to anyone just yet and actually hadn't met the fleeing guest of honor until the day of the gathering. But these are things you attend no matter what when you're off in foreign lands, searching for new friends and experiences. Needless to say, I was excited for the opportunity to get out on a Saturday night. Unfortunately I had to work until 7pm, and therefore, didn't attend the dinner portion of the evening. I looked at this as a possible benefit though, considering this town is excessively expensive and the food is nothing to write home about. By the time I closed the shop, had a bite to eat and threw on a dress and some heels it was already 10:30pm. No need to worry though, I already knew this group would be out until probably 6am the following morning. I'm not kidding. This seems to be the way of life for so many people in Queenstown and I have no idea how they do it night after night. And I had no intentions of joining them in said marathon drinking. This is an area I've given considerable thought to lately beecause I feel like a grandma. No offense, Grandma, because you rock. The conclusions I've drawn are not that I don't enjoy drinking. Let's not kid ourselves. I love a really good beer and its hard-pressed to find an evening where I don't enjoy a drink or glass of wine. But I'm really over the 'see and be seen' aspect of going to bars. I usually like to drink in three types of scenarios: 1) Out with one or maybe two girlfriends. Chatting, laughing...crying maybe. Good conversation. Good wine. 2) At dinner parties or small gatherings in peoples' homes. 3) Home alone with a movie or sitting out on my deck. Okay... 4) At any sporting event or Apres ski.

I wondered how so many people were able to stay out until 6am. What were they doing all that time? I quickly learned that the art of late-night cavorting is to bar-hop. I met up with them at Pub on the Wharf = a relaxing little spot close to the lake. Good music and plenty of room. Then it was off to Ministry to shoot some pool and tip a few back. By midnight we were on our way to Winnies, which is a restaurant that serves great pizza during the day, and turns into a hopping dance club at night. Last Saturday it just happened to be 80's night. All the bartenders were dressed to the tune of Flashdance and the fellow patrons missed no opportunities to wear neon pink and stone-washed denim. Had I been with close friends, I probably could've been talked into an epic night of dancing. Instead, I had the fact that my shift started at 9am the following morning and really, I wasn't entirely in the mood to get crazy with people I barely knew. At one point though I left the group to use the restroom, and when I made my way back through the crowd I looked around wondering if any of these people were aged more than single digits during the eighties. Do they even really know this music? I stood there, in the middle of the dance floor, amid a constant flurry of bodies bumping up against me. I felt as if I was participating in a scene from a Rom Com where the picture suddenly slows and then BOOM...que the music. This time, said music happened to be "I've Had The Time of My Life" from the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing.

The guy's voice starts:
"I've been waiting for so long. Now I've finally found someone to stand by me."

Gal's voice: "We saw the writing on the wall
As we felt this magical fantasyyyyyyyyy!"

Both: "Now with passion in our eyes
There's no way we could disguise it secretly
So we take each other's hand
'Cause we seem to understand the urgency"


And the dance floor exploded. By this time, I'm literally standing there laughing hysterically - not at them, but somehow joyously with them - and gazing out at all these people around me in their finest hour. The passion and excitement guys AND gals alike were feeling for this song in this moment was so captivating. I'm not exaggering when I say it was almost as if it was their last night on earth, and here was the song they sang to celebrate the moment.

Gal: "You're the one thing..."

Guy: "...I can't get enough of."

Gal: "So I'll tell you something."

Both: "This could be love, because...

Both: I've had the time of my life!
No I never felt this way before.
Yes I swear it's the truth.
And I owe it all to you.
'Cause I've had the time of my life.
And I've searched through every open door.
'Til I found the truth.
And I owe it all to you."

I loved it. I stood there and watched - NOT DANCED, though I should've - and just watched people and enjoyed myself so much. I loved it. I love the 80s.

When the song was over I looked at my watch and decided that 1:45am wasn't too bad for a Grandma, and I walked out the door en route home.

RIP, Patrick Swayze!

(DIRTY DANCING - I've Had The Time Of My Life video)
Uploaded by cavapanon. - See the latest featured music videos.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chronicles of the shop #003.

Thought I'd post some of my favorite pieces from the shop. I find that working for CR has made my tastes evolve slightly. I still love vintage, bright colors, and unique pieces and fabrics, but I'm starting to gravitate to the European looks in our most recent catalog. Its been fun to feel like I'm building a more classic base. My favorite is the image below - a sweater dress over the top of jodhpurs leggings and thigh-high boots paired with a cable tube scarf and wool coat. Fab.

Everyone here wears tights, tights, tights! In the states I probably would've felt self conscious and like my arse was on display, but here I've somehow managed to rock it. And lately, I've been thinking and missing my mother. So many young women come into the shop, but there are also a fair amount of older, more "mature" gals who pop in and I'm always surprised at the risks they take. I feel like so much of the style here in New Zealand would suit my mom and her figure, and I wish we could spend a day shopping for her and then grab a coffee and catch up. I miss you, mama!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I've been given so much advice since arriving in New Zealand. I've been collecting advice for the past year or so and for a long time I've dreamt of creating a small book containing these great words of wisdom so that in a pinch, I could reference said book and feel like a million dollars almost instantly. I know books like this already exist, and are probably sold at Barnes and Noble for $19.95. But I guess these are quotes that are dear to me personally vs some random smattering. So maybe I should charge everyone who reads this, and hopefully become rich AND full of wisdom. I'm totally kidding.


If nothing changes, then nothing will change. -My 22-year-old store manager at CR, New Zealand.

"Be mindful. Live simply. And open your heart." -Angie Morgan.

"Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible--the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nuturing family." -Um, I can't remember.

"The things you focus on are all that you will see." -Someone awesome.

Doreen - talking about her decision to quit her job and road trip last summer. Could I receive a more dear quote? I don't think so. "I know it's easier said than done but maybe the trip isn't about figuring out your life but embracing it. When I did the road trip, people kept asking me if I was soul searching. On some level, I suppose I was ... but not so much figuring out what or who I wanted to be but, reminding myself of who I am and making peace with that. I needed to find the person I already was. So maybe NZ can be more about the moment and letting Andrea be Andrea. Make sense? Sometimes I wish we could see ourselves the way others do. And we all adore Andrea and secretly wish we had half of the magic that seems to surround Her. That magnetic quality."

"Believe the best in people." -Found on the inside of a Dove chocolate square.

"It doesn't mater what you want. It only matters how you have lived. I guess the lesson is that we should all live our lives the best way that we can, try to put good into the world with our thoughts and deeds and try to be remembered as Mr. Jim Ryan was. I'll tell you what, though...I bet it's a damn fun wake/funeral. Those Irish know how to party!" -Kesney.

I just want you to be OK - to take your time - and to know that nothing is ever "certain" in life - because change/trajedy/life happens - all while we are trying to make plans!!! -Grandma P.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

En Zed lately.

So I'm officially into a routine. Or about as routine as its going to get when you're living in a house mixed with randoms and working retail. Last weekend was my weekend off and therefore I spent Saturday doing all sorts of things that rule. Tyson and I spent the morning together cooking and mixing up some cookie dough to freeze for cookies at our disposal. Then he headed out into the world of work and I had an agenda-free afternoon and evening. I decided to take a walk into town and visit the beach I see people en route to all day long from the windows of my store. Their towels tucked under their arms and plastic bags full of beer as little puckles of them walk past the shop in droves. Puckles. puckle: This is a word my mother uses to describe a small grouping of things. It is only in the last six months or so of my life that I have learned this is a made up word. There, now its out and into the world. Maybe it'll catch on.

Here is my store. Its right on the corner and as it wraps around the other side of the building, all of the windows face out to the lake and the mountains.

And here are the heaps of people enjoying the sunshine.

I sunned myself for a while. Walked around. Read my book for a few hours. Had a beer at a small cafe. And then went on an hour long run. Not a bad Saturday!

Tyson's sister and her hubby arrived on Sunday and its been great showing them around. They are off checking out Milford Sound at the moment and we are eagerly awaiting their full report. I definitely want ot make it there at some point during this experience.

Ok, off to the shop!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Chronicles of the shop #002.

The other day I was ringing an American woman at the counter. Queenstown is loaded with tourists and most of the time they are European so when she opened her mouth and an American accent came out, I couldn't help but ask, "Where are you from?"

"Oh I'm from the states?"

"Yes." I realize that..."Where are you from in the states?"

"Oh, right smack dab in the middle of the country, at the top."

"Which state?" And does she not realize I'm American?


Finally I let out a squeal that I too was from Minnesota. Well, she nearly fell over. Couldn't possibly believe she was running into another Minnesotan. The world is so small! It is. It really is.

The more we got to chatting I learned she is actually from Wilmar, MN. I decided to play the lovely game of Do You Know? and asked her if she happened to know the Boylan family as I'd gone to college with their son and he's an old friend of mine. Yes, she knew of them. A connection. At a counter in a small shop in New Zealand. Funny how things like that happen.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chronicles of the shop #001.

Today I helped a pair of the dearest sisters. Definitely both well within their seventh decade, they arrived put together and finished with a glaze of bright red lipstick. I didn't know they were sisters right off the bat. They were chattering and chuckling. And when I asked if they needed any help, Juliene piped up that she'd "very much like a hat just as the one her sister is wearing." "She bought it at Country Road several years ago." These were English gals and they were sweet as pie. Eventually, when they were both trying on the hats, I offered up to Juliene how fun it must be to have a sister. Her response, "Yeees. They're quite useful." Useful. What an interesting and yet adorable response. I explained that not everyone has such splendid relationships with their sisters to which her response was, "Well, these things come and go. We have not always been this way. But eventually, we get to a place where we realize that friends and family are more important than so many things we needn't worry about." Just then her darling sister appeared wearing a white cardigan she'd just plucked from the shelf and tried on. Contemplation. I told her she looked smashing. She explained that she needed to look smart and not stodgy for bowling. Lawn bowling that is.



Tyson is working. I settled in for a evening of white wine, corn on the cob, and if you can believe it -Project Runway. I don't even have cable at home in Seattle to watch this show. I feel like I could be anywhere right now. Odd how that feels sometimes.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Heaps new.

So we moved yesterday. I worked at the shop from 11-7pm, and when I walked out the door Tyson called my name from the window of a car I did not recognize. Sure enough our new roommate, Dave, was lovely enough to help us move and zip us around in his set of wheels. A Subaru, for which they pronounce SooBAHroo here.

Here is a view from the 12'x6' window in our living room and the scene of which I'm looking at now as I type. Our new neighborhood, Fernhill, is just outside the town center and about a 20 minutes walk. As we climbed the hill en route to our new house, I couldn't help but feel a pang of dejavu from my daily walk home up Capitol Hill in Seattle. Having the town so tangible I already felt a sense of independence and excitement for this next stage in our experience here. We have two roommates - Dave and Neil - both of which are absolutely lovely and warm.

We settled in and unpacked. I absolutely loath packing and unpacking and its been nice to have twice unpacked, each only requiring maybe twenty minutes of my time. Somewhat inspiring me to clean out my home in Seattle this summer.

Then we headed into town - on foot! - for some dinner and a celebratory drink. No joke, the entire walk down the hill is magnificent. The view! Mountains and Lake Wakatipu in sight each step of the way. Hard even to put into words the spectacular scenery of this place.

Today neither Tyson or I had to work and therefore we marked it as the day we would finally stock up on groceries. A bus connects our new home and the largest grocery store in the area. Worth the $10 fare for the much wider selection and lower prices than the grocery store in town. As we paced the isles I battled with whether or not to stock up on items like flour and vanilla having only two months left here. But after living with Caitlin and her amazing cookies, we bit the bullet. Two months or ten months, we're making cookies here in En Zed. And you forget what its like to start from scratch, having to buy everything from olive oil, salt, pepper to sugar and baking powder. Here is our bounty riding around on the bus packed away in two backpacks, a box and of course, a 12-pack of Speights Beer.

We even put down some roots and planted an herb garden. I guess the more times we make decisions like these, the more it feels like home here and not just a small step before we get to the next stage. Slows things down, maybe.

We are in week four and it really has been a turning point. We're both working, we've got a stocked pantry and we're settled in to a new home. Feels really good.