Saturday, August 26, 2006

Coming to America...TODAY!

posted by Kris Ardent @ 3:04 AM

We arrived in San Francisco. It is amazingly beautiful here. The weather is perfect here, and I am drawing in life force just from being in the area. I forgot how much better this place is than any other place in the world, right up until the point that we drove out of the airport with the windows down, make hand-birds flying along the freeway. Good day.

We dropped our stuff off at Jonathan's, where he was make last minute preparations for Burning Man. THANK YOU FOR HOSTING US!!! Then we drove around, ran errands, had some Ghiradelli chocolate and then had dinner at Steps of Rome in North Beach. I am bone tired. Slept for a good chunk on the plane, which was most unusual. I was trying to watch "She's the Man," a movie about a girl who tries to pass as a teenage boy so she can play soccer. Even this was too awful for me. I woke myself up more than once from my own plane-snoring. Yes, I was that woman.

Tomorrow, we're shopping for Burning Man supplies, having dinner with Nikhila and Jeff (just the first taste of the many gratitudinal gestures we must bestow upon them over the next couple of years) and then a party at JP and Rene's so we can see a collection of SF friends. Nice! So much to do here! Probably won't be hearing from me for a while, unless I find some blogging station at Burning Man and can't resist. We'll be back in the "real" world on Monday the 4th, in Napa Monday and Tuesday nights (dinner at French Laundry on Tuesday!!!!), and then we'll be staying with Aimee and Tony for our last two nights in town. Busy busy busy! Hope to see EVERYONE possible in the short time we're here. Rest assured, we'll be back here eventually, probably to live here forever, because it's RAD.

How come no one comments on the blog anymore? I feel like I'm typing into the abyss!
I'm available by cell phone if anyone feels like calling long distance: 011 64 27 286-6333. Joe's is 011 64 27 335-1410. See you soon!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

the house that someone else built (but we moved into)

posted by drspam @ 11:01 PM

we have a house! we keep talking about it but never back it up with anything! like my girlfriend from canada!

well to prove that marine manor (that's its name) is not like eustacia (that's my canadian girlfriend's name), here are some pictures!

this is the front of the house. this is what you would see if your back was to the beach, because our house is in front of the beach.

what you don't believe me about the beach thing? well check out the view from our dining room. wicked!

here is the view from our office. i put the computer there so i wouldn't have to look at that ugly view all the time.

we have TWO decks, because one isn't enough. this is the stairway from the front driveway to the deck.

yesterday vanessa and i walked to brunch at this awesome cafe with a bunch of tables in front of the water. basically every house between our house and the cafe is ridiculously lavish and beautiful, and they ALL LOOK DIFFERENT. one looks like a hobbit house. one is uber-modern, with porthole windows and jutting angles. one looks like it was picked up out of savannah, with its long white porch, shingled cupola, and wicker deck furniture. on the walk back we saw a big swing hanging from a very tall tree, so vanessa of course had to ride it.

as you can see, it is a pretty fantastic place, in a great neighborhood, and as a funny side note, joe letteri (basically the godfather of weta other than peter jackson, and the dude who accepted weta's oscars) is our next door neighbor. maybe we should bring him a pie?


Saturday, August 19, 2006

The South Island: A Retrospective - DAY THREE

posted by Kris Ardent @ 6:27 PM

Day Three was mostly about driving, so I should be able to knock off this post in a couple minutes. We begin the day in Akaroa, population 576, after a night's stay at Chez La Mer:

We started out with a walk around the pretty harbor.

Clodagh met a fisherman and talked to him about rugby while a tiny shark struggled in his boat. What would we do without sports? How would we ever be able to talk to strangers?

Here's where we had delicious breakfast. I think there was french toast involved, but it was a long time ago so I'm not sure. Maybe Clodagh can fill in the fuzzy details.

All I know is that breakfast was amazingly delicious, and we had our own cat.

Walked back through "town," stopping to buy more fudge and some wool garments. Akaroa is hella cute. Here's the harbor from above, during the drive out of town:
Jolly Holly Bear is an excellent driver. Now we will never get lost again:
We christened this geographical feature "NippleRock," for Joe.
Sheep! A lot of them! On the move!
And the countryside.
We ended up in Hanmer Springs, up in the mountains, at a hostel called Le Gite. So many French places today! We got some take-out from a crappy Indian restaurant and ate it back at the hostel. Then we watched an Edward Norton movie that I'd never heard of before: 25th Hour (directed by Spike Lee). Then we went to bed in the room we shared with some random guy. Day three: in the can!

And Back In Present Times...

posted by Kris Ardent @ 3:35 AM


We drove to Levin today (about an hour north of Wellington) to a place called Shado-lans Quarantine Facility to see The Cheat and The Sneak. Joe, Vanessa and I spent about 3 hours scratching the cats, trying to get them to purr, and reading books. It was really great. Joe and I hadn't seen them since the end of March, and while they didn't run over to great us (or probably even recognize us), we do know their favorite places to be scratched and I think we made them both very happy. Also, we brought sour cream. I can't believe they actually made it to New Zealand. Our cats are officially Word Travellers. Here they are in their shared meditation chamber:
By the time we got home, Francisco had acquired a 40" LCD flat screen TV. I'll let him share more about that. Now, we are watching Lord of the Rings on it. Wowwy.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The South Island: A Retrospective - DAY TWO

posted by Kris Ardent @ 12:02 AM

Last time, on "The South Island: A Retrospective - DAY ONE", our intrepid adventurers were in a hellish Christchurch hostel, drunk. Now we join them on day two for Hangover: The Reckoning. This is what happened on Wednesday, June 7th.

I don't recommend drinking a bottle of wine by yourself. It hurts. We checked out of Stonehurst and walked to "town" a few blocks away and begin our tourism extravaganza in Christchurch.

I like to front-load a vacation or trip by seeing a lot of sights and tourist attractions. That way if I get lazy as the trip progresses, I feel like I've already accomplished enough to justify completely slacking.
We had breakfast on this lovely mostly-pedestrian street, which was quite regularly disturbed by the passing of the historic trolley car. I become irrationally excited by a variety of modes of transportation, so breakfast was THRILLING. And when we were done (veggie eggs benny and a mocha), we hopped on this trolley for a twirl around the town. Here's our driver, Mo.
We took a ride around town (okay, one and a half times around town) on this thing, and stopped at the Christchurch Cathedral for a look around. Beautiful! And they wanted to charge $2.50 to take pictures inside! Whatever. There it is from the outside, and you can go to their website to see some good shots of the inside.
Here are people playing giant chess in front of the cathedral!
We walked through the charming open-air tourist market, and then down to the river. The river is pretty, as you can see.
And here is a wheely-thing. Actually, it's a waterwheel that was built in 1997 to commemorate the water-powered mill that used to operate on this tiny little river island in the late 1800s. But according to the sign, it's not a replica. Just a tribute I guess.
Now, anyone who knows Joe, knows he likes boobies. Clodagh and I made a special effort to photograph every boob-related thing we could find on our journey. Here in Christchurch, we found many such things:
Then on to the FUDGE COTTAGE for a tour! Look what they're featuring on today's tour...
And an assortment of fudges:
And the fresh hot Bailey's fudge being poured out into the mold:
After having our fill of fudge samples, and shopping in the Arts Centre (Nikhila: remind me I bought you something and failed to send it to you), we wandered back to the hostel to pick up the car. On the way, we saw this:
It's hard to tell, but it has two front ends. Cool.

This is the best parking lot decoration I've ever seen. I wish this had been my handwork.

So far, a lot has happened on day two! And the sun hasn't even set yet! For sunset, we drove with great haste to the gondola. On the way, a peacock ran out into the road. Go figure.
My pictures of from the top of the gondola were kinda crappy, so I found someone else's to use. Cool, eh?
We spent the next couple of hours trying to drive to Akaroa on the Banks Penninsula, after dark, without a map. Eventually, we found a gas station, got directions and a map, and turned around. When we got to Akaroa, we dumped our stuff in the hostel and headed over the pub for the worst dinner of all time, followed by the best sleep of all time.

Day two was a big day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Cats on a Plane

posted by Kris Ardent @ 5:21 AM

They're on a plane right now! Headed HERE! After many trials and tribulations, they finally have all their paper work and they'll be here at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Then they go jail for 30 days while New Zealand waits to see if they have diseases, which they DON'T. We're going to visit them on Sunday. Yay!

We moved into the new place on Monday. It is great. So pretty, the ocean, from my window in the morning. Yes! Morning! I saw it yesterday! I got up and faced the day and everything. Our new address, should you want to write a letter or some other such quaintness:

187 Marine Parade
Seatoun, Wellington 6022
New Zealand

Looks like we're going to go with "Marine Manor" for a house name, unless we come up something more compelling. So far, I've just been calling the place "Marine Parade" cuz having parade in the name is nice. Anyway, the guest room is ready to receive! We're going to Burning Man on 8/25, and then my parents will be here from 9/15-9/25, but the schedule is clear after that if anyone wants to make a booking! Living on the beach is lovely.

Today I slept 'til 11, before getting back to the work of stocking the house, setting up utilities and unpacking boxes. Then I went to stupid yoga, which is only stupid because after not doing it for a week, it was hard to do. I fell asleep in the final laying-down part. Sad.

I missed yoga for a week because we went to Wanaka (South Island) to go snow boarding. I lasted about 20 minutes before deciding that, yes, snowboarding still really hurts my back and my feet and I'm not going to do it any more. I spend the rest of the day reading, watching the iPod and drinking mochas with Amarulla in the lodge. Not a bad way to spend a day on a mountain. Next time I will ski.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Everything is Falling Into Place (Which Means It'll Probably All Fall Apart Soon)

posted by Kris Ardent @ 8:14 PM

So we have a new home we can start moving into on Monday. Vanessa arrives in Wellington tomorrow morning! We all go snowboarding in Wanaka next weekend. The cat paperwork is almost done and the cats should be able to fly out here on August 13th. (For the full story on The Cheat's capture and updated photos showing off his girth, click here. Thanks Nikhila!) Joe and I are going to San Francisco on August 25th for Burning Man. We leave SF on September 8th, arriving back in Wellington on the 10th. The cats should get out of quarantine on the 15th, the same day my parents arrive to visit from Carlsbad, CA. Hi parents! Then sometime around the end of September/beginning of October, I get to start training as a texture painter for Weta.

And to top it off, we bought a car today. I love it. It's a Holden Astra, whatever that is. You can probably still the pictures here. It's pretty. It's fast. It's got stereo controls on the steering wheel, although I haven't figured out how to use them yet. We're selling our 2-door Honda, if anyone is interested.

Yay! Must enjoy this day when everything is going my way! :D

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Word About Stupidity, And Palaces

posted by Kris Ardent @ 7:30 PM

It seems there's more to moderating comments than just turning on the "moderate comments" feature. Apparently, you have to log in, check to see if there are comments, and then approve the ones that aren't spam. Hmm. Go figure. I'm pretty sure I'm not ready for this kind of responsibility, as evidenced by my failure to even know about this requirement, let alone complete it.

So, comments are moderated! To avoid spam! Now that I know y'all are reading AND commenting, I will resume posting, and try to keep up on my new moderating duties.

The news: we finally found a new house for the four of us to live in (not that Fort Ebor isn't bad, it's just tiny, and we hate our landlord). For the past month, we've been looking for a 3-4 bedroom (so we can have guests) near town that will also allow cats. The place we found is on the beach (across the street from the water) in Seatoun, which is about a 4 minute drive to Weta, and 10-15 minutes to "town." I guess being so Welly-far from town just means a lifestyle change: more convincing people to come over and drink, and less stumbling down the street to drink. Maybe we should drink less? Surf more? I'm thinking it might be time to buy a wetsuit.

Not sure how long the ad will stay up, but here it is: TradeMe Ad

We start moving in on Monday the 7th and we'll do that gradually until we're done. We don't have to be out of Fort Ebor until the 15th, but we're headed to Wanaka (South Island) on Friday the 11th for snowboarding until the 14th.

So, what do we call the new place? Please offer your suggestions. I like the "Fort" convention, but since this is on the beach, maybe it's time for change? "Shack" doesn't sound very pleasant (also, the place isn't very shack-like), but it is beachy. The street is called Marine Parade, so maybe "Fort Marine"? We were going to go with "Park Palace" if we got that place (the palace) in Thorndon (on Park Street), so maybe "Marine Palace"? Coming up with a name is really the hardest part of moving. Maybe we should just move back to the Duxton.