May 30, 2011

A Glass of Wine and the Evening News

It is 3 weeks from the shortest day of the year, so James and I are spending a bit more time inside this time of year. I've been doing some cooking and we have some unknown fellow-American expats coming for dinner this Thursday and James' bday dinner on Saturday. We've been running our heatpump and filling the fire with wood everyday to stay warm. I’m reading a lot (the classic Gone With the Wind right now) and wondering if I’ll get out the sewing machine. James has projects spread out across our table. It’s nice.

We’ve also installed Free TV. NZ is going digital, so getting the new dish and box to convert our old TV was a soon-to-be necessity anyway. We've gone from about 5 channels to about 12. I was surprised and ecstatic to realize that the American PBS Newshour is on one of those channels at 6:30 pm every night! In my humble opinion, New Zealand news leaves much to be desired. The evening news features about ½ hour of NZ news, about 5 minutes of international news, 20 minutes of sports and 10 minutes of weather. When we watch the evening news, I only watch the first 35 minutes, then get frustrated as coverage turns to regional rugby matches as if there wasn’t a whole world out there to report on. After the news, the two main channels each feature a sort of investigative news show for another half-hour. It is typically an elaboration on a couple of stories already featured in the evening news, going into more detail in a ‘surface’ manner, dramatizing un-dramatic events. I can’t watch them. The world beyond the shores of NZ doesn’t seem to exist in these mainstream news outlets.  Now, after the first 30 mins of NZ news, I can turn to the PBS Newshour for US and international news.

May 11, 2011

Wherever You Go, There You Are

My mom once gave me a small card that said, "Wherever you go, there you are."  I don't remember who said it originally but what a great quote!  A lot of my posts have been about missing the places I've lived or come from most recently (Juneau, Alaska) as I now live here in New Zealand.  I blog about my reality of being a migrant, and well, missing my 'home' of Alaska and America and all that those places entail is a huge part of my existence in New Zealand. Like it or not, it just is.  And I think that's ok - it doesn't overshadow the fact that I'm also living a full life here, pouring myself into it, growing everyday.  My two realities exist side by side - and while that inherently creates a lot of bittersweetness, I wouldn't really have it any other way. I'm a little bit divided in two and I'm not willing to give up either half. So there you go.

May 5, 2011

Ode to a Warm House (and Soup)

Not until moving to NZ did I realize that "home-heating" could be such a robust,varied and complex conversation topic.  Sometimes I like to see how many minutes pass before my husband mentions 'heat pumps' in a new conversation with a third party.  It's never long.  And then if you throw in things like insulation, underfloor heating, solar panels and double-glazed (double-paned) windows - well there's hours of conversation in that!  Not to mention the wonders of thermal curtains, electric blankets, wet-backs (a fire that heats your hot water tank while warming your house) and debating the warmth that comes from a wood-burning vs coal-burning stove.  And don't forget! - there's different TYPES of insulation, different ways to install and mount your heat pump, and dehumidifiers come with all sorts of options too. And that's not even mentioning the huge array of space heaters you can plug in and turn on. Get the picture? 'Cause that's just the very beginning. Home-heating is discussed at great length and in great detail here in NZ.  And though I myself can't get too excited about the topic, I decided to make a blog posting in honor of my warm house - and my husband who did most of the work to get it this way - because I'm generally pretty warm and toasty as we enter winter - and that, I've learned - is not to be taken for granted in NZ. Otherwise, they wouldn't talk about home-heating so much. So here you go James, a blog entry for you, about our home-heating. My take on it will undoubtedly involve more soup and less variables of technological efficiency than yours.

Our main source of heat is this fire. It's such a lovely, toasty, atmospheric sort of heat. Takes a bit to get it going, but it is nice.  Though I questioned James' sanity as he jack-hammered through our cement foundation, I now say it was genius.  He installed a little fan under the fire that essentially propels warmed, fresh air out into the room.  It's fantastic!