Safe and sound in Wellington

For those of you who may be concerned, all is safe and sound here in Wellington.

There are a number of factors about Wellington which will hopefully prevent a similar “dreadful event” (as described by Queen Elizabeth) that occurred in Christchurch.  According to my colleagues, Christchurch was always considered the one city in New Zealand safe from earthquakes.  Hence, many building’s were not structurally reinforced to prevent collapse in an earthquake.  In addition, many buildings were constructed out of stone or brick, building materials which cause a lot of damage in an earthquake.

This is not the case in Wellington.  Due to the region’s history of earthquakes, buildings here are almost always built out of wood (such as my home, the old government buildings, etc.).  Those that aren’t built out of wood are required to be reinforced and “earthquake proofed” (such as my office, Te Papa, etc.).  Though this was often seen as an overly expensive and unnecessary cost to many individuals, we can all appreciate the stringency of Wellington’s building regulators in hindsight.

However, the very sad events in Christchurch should also serve as a reminder that one must be prepared for unforeseen emergencies, as evidenced by yesterday’s unexpected earthquake.  I myself am realising that it’s extremely unwise for me to procrastinate any longer on getting together an “emergency kit” to have in my home, and another for my office.

After a discussion with my sweetheart, and consultation of New Zealand’s Ministry of Emergency Management “Get Thru” website, we have compiled the following list of essential “emergency kit” components which we think is suitable for the two of us:

  • Torch with spare batteries
  • Radio with spare batteries
  • Wind and waterproof clothing, sun hats, and strong outdoor shoes.
  • First aid kit and essential medicines
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Toilet paper and large rubbish bags for your emergency toilet
  • Face and dust masks
  • Duct tape
  • Food and water for at least three days
  • Non-perishable food (canned or dried food)
  • Water for drinking. At least 3 litres per person, per day
  • Water for washing and cooking
  • A can opener

I get paid tomorrow… and will start stocking up on these items! Though hopefully, we will never need them.

Domestic Bliss

This post is an ode to the joys of having a comfortable home, full of sunshine and 2nd hand consumer goods, as well as a loving and mostly peaceful domestic partnership.

After living all over the place for the past few years, and never really having the chance to “nest”, I have now fully entered “nesting” mode.  By this I mean I am filling my kitchen with gadgets and appliances culled from trips to the Salvation Army and St. Vincent DePaul shops, supplemented when necessary by TradeMe (NZ’s Craigslist/Ebay.. but not as a good as Craigslist!)

Recent acquisitions include:

  • Pristine 1970’s Australian-made food processor –  complete with “continuous flow disk (aka ‘salad shooter’ attachment)” and never-before used assortment of blades.
  • Bread machine
  • “Vampyr” German-made vacuum cleaner
  • 30 cm non-stick skillet – not Tefal, bu not a piece of junk either
  • Rice cooker
  • Iron
  • 2 liter electric kettle
  • Kitchen scale

In addition to my existing stock, including:

  • “West” German-made Pfaff Hobbymatic 807 sewing machine, circa 1975 ?
  • Set of cast-iron skillets
  • Tortilla press
  • Kenwood “Chefette” mixer, stand, and bowl, circa 1970 ?
  • Assorted sizes of muffin tins, cake tins, bundt pans, pie tins, souffle dishes and casserole sets.

Basically, I am totally in domestic bliss over here.  Why should I ever even leave my house?  Hooray for homemaking!

Here are some picture of mine and Ticker’s little nest:

My appliance shelf
Cookin' nook
Kitchen window herbs - basil and green coriander
The door to chez nous

Admittedly, the outside of the house looks a little grim.  The current owner told me that the previous owner, who was of Eastern European origin, had decided to cover the existing wooden exterior of the house in the grey, cement-like panelling now visible.  He also paved over a significant portion of the front garden, faithfully true to the Eastern European aesthetic found in many lovely communist countries.  The current owner told me he fully intended to tear down the ugly cement exterior as soon as he purchased the house, but after consideration, decided to leave it, for the time being.  That was 16 years ago.  Despite being very ugly, the cement panels not only protect the original early 20th-century wooden exterior, but also insulate the house, which helps us save on heating costs.  So, that is why our house looks so ugly from the outside.  Inside, however, as you can see, it’s very cute.

It's 100 steps down (and up) from the street

The steps pictured on the left lead to our neighbours’ flat, and further down, the front 1 bedroom flat, which has been empty, until today! Even further down is Coromandel Street.

Our massive Southern-facing bedroom window
It's hard to sleep in when you have this much sunlight pouring in every morning!

Come visit!  We have a spare bedroom, complete with an orange 1970’s sleeper sofa!

** I forgot to mention two items I already posses:  a juicer, and a food dehydrator.  The juicer gets used pretty frequently, the food dehydrator… once!

Broken Promises

I recently made a non-verbal, yet sacred oath, that I would do no more buying of fabric until I used at least a significant portion of the massive stash I had already accumulated.

I actually kept this promise for several weeks, and even begun making a few things, like these two dresses:












The dress on the left was made using the following awesome 80’s pattern:










However, on my way to the Newtown Veggie Market on Saturday morning, I passed by a poster announcing a “Jumble Sale” at the Bagpiper’s Association Hall in Newtown.  I immediately switched gears and headed over to the sale, bypassing the veggie market.

To put it simply, the jumble sale was amazing!  The entire places reeked of moth balls, but was full of NEW vintage stuff!  Some stuff even had tags on it, circa 1970!  There was a massive table piled with fabric… and a lady informed it was going for $1 – 2 a piece, most of which were a few meters long.  I quickly snapped up a number of awesome patterns, in addition to a bag full of clothes, some tea boxes, a step stool, a set of tea cups and saucers, and a number of other things.. all for less than $25 !

Here are some of the fabrics I snatched:

Here is one of the six cup and saucer sets I found:

Time permitting, I will post photos of the sewing projects that come from my now even more massive stash of fabric.  And I will try very hard not to buy anymore fabric until I do so!

City of Sails

I just got back from a trip to Auckland.  This was my first opportunity to leave Wellington and see another part of New Zealand.  I have to say…. it wasn’t mind-blowing.  While Auckland did seem more like an actual city; compared to Wellington (the village with an over-inflated ego), it wasn’t particularly interesting.  Admittedly, I was only there 2 days, and didn’t see much beyond the CBD.

I really didn’t have any expectations, so I wasn’t really disappointed or excited by Auckland.  The one thing that constantly surprised me was the number of East Asians, and the Asian influence apparent throughout the city.

Several months ago, when I was spending quite a bit of time with a group of Lao ESL students studying here at Victoria, they went on a group trip to Auckland.  When they came back I asked them if they had liked their visit to Auckland.

“No.” responded one of them.

“Why not?” I asked

“There were too many Asian people.  I like to see more white people.”

Now I understand what he meant.  A significant portion of the signage in the CBD was in English and Chinese, not to mention Japanese and Korean.  While I didn’t see any Thai, or Vietnamese, those were pretty much our only food options, alongside the Chinese restaurants, sushi places, and Korean pancakes.  Irregardless, I totally pigged out and am now on a strict no-junk-food diet.  Visiting the shopping centres downtown I had to double-take to make sure I wasn’t actually in a fancier version of Vientiane’s Talat Sao Mall, or even more similarly, the Platinum Shopping Centre in Bangkok.

Our main purpose for going to Auckland was to attend the Laneway Festival.  Overall, I have mixed feelings about the festival experience.  At $112 NZD, it was an expensive event for me.  However, the lineup included a number of bands that appealed to me, including Holy Fuck, Ariel Pink, Blonde Redhead, Deerhunter, and Beach House.  And those were just the bands I had heard of!  I discovered Warpaint, Foals, Ladyhawke, and Yeasayer thanks to the festival; all of whom I genuinely enjoy.  I appreciated the Auckland summer weather – comfortably warm.  I have awful memories of the intolerable heat of Pitchfork festival in Chicago in July, 2006.  The booze was pretty reasonably priced and the crowd was pretty friendly and enthusiastic. However, the sound was way too loud, even with ear plugs.  I came to some conclusions based on the following observations:

  • The festival had initially booked a 4 city tour (Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland)
  • Sometime later shows in Wellington and Singapore shows were added
  • The artists only had 45 minute sets
  • None of the artists gave really stellar performances

My conclusions are that they were exhausted and tired of performing by the time they got to Auckland, and unfortunately for the audience, the festival experience wasn’t as great as it could have been, or would have been if we had seen these acts individually.  This is also evidenced by a comment made to me by Bradford Cox of Deerhunter, who I begged for a photo with after their uncharacteristically banter-less set.  He commented that we would have liked to hang out but was too exhausted and had bags under his eyes.  Having seen him play (as Atlas Sound) in Montreal in 2009, it was obvious he hadn’t really put much heart into his performance in Auckland.  That seemed to be the case with most of the artists, the exception being Yeasayer, who put on quite a lively show. I was really hoping for some wacky antics from Ariel Pink… but was sadly disappointed (though Ticker maintains that Ariel Pink was drunk for the duration of their set).

Anyway, it sure was fun to get to see so many good bands play all together in southern hemisphere, and get hugs from both Lockett Pundt and Bradford Cox!

Lockett sure is dreamy…

Despite being exhausted, he still gave the camera a big smile.  What a nice guy!

I have posted a number of pictures from both the festival and Auckland on Picasa.