Ah, summer’s just a distant memory. And how I miss you so. The floral bouquets, the bulging gardens, the never-ending-oh-my-god-you-have-to-go-to-this festival season. What a busy summer we had; so busy in fact, I never had time to write about it. But as I start my winter nesting, and start tackling tasks long put off, I am reminded of all that we accomplished earlier this year.
I ended my last Life’s Volume post just short of the Christmas holidays. We spent Christmas in Wainui again with our lovely friends Alex, Tobi, and Dennis. This was the second year the five of us American-expats banded together to experience a summer Christmas. It’s still something to get used to, Christmas and warm weather, but I’m getting there!
For New Year’s, we got our camping gear together and went to the Convergence One Family gathering in Loburn. Located an hour outside of Christchurch, nestled into the Canterbury foothills, this festival of 350 adults and children focuses mainly on spirituality and healing, with various workshops offered by day, and good ol’ clean family entertainment by night. This was the second time we’ve gone and we were not disappointed. We reconnected with some friends and made many new ones. And Bruce’s newly designed portable Merkabah was a tremendous success!
One such pair of new friends we acquired were Sola and Inayat, a couple from Portland who were in the process of migrating to Tonga. They’d packed up their life as retreat operators in Portland and were bound for warmer climes and the opportunity to swim with the whales. However, before making the final jump, they needed to gather some goods while in New Zealand to ship over to their new island home. So, being the kind souls we are, and given we had a giant empty house, and seeing as we were kindred spirits, we brought them home to Christchurch with us where they promptly settled in and stayed for three months. Oh, and I should also mention that Dennis was rooming with us for a few months as well. So we became the happy-go-lucky American expat household.
No sooner were we back from Convergence, then we set off for a weekend tramp on the Hurunui High Country Track, and then shortly thereafter, we set off for Kiwiburn, both of which I wrote about earlier.
Two weeks after returning from Kiwiburn, I participated in a 5-day Anusara yoga Immersion I workshop hosted by one of my favorite yoga instructors, Katie Lane, and taught by the internationally known B.J. Galvan. Five days and 36 hours of yoga philosophy, training, meditation, and laughter. Anusara is quite a heart-opening, uplifting practice and one can not help but radiate and shine. The group of 30 came from all over New Zealand and a handful from Australia and fun was had by all.
And I went to the Chinese New Year’s lantern festival in Christchurch with my friend Jason. For one weekend, Victoria Park is transformed into what feels like a bustling Asian city, with vendors, performers, cuisine to die for, and beautiful lanterns and décor strung around the park. This was a true celebration of the many Asian ethnicities who add so much to New Zealand’s culture and the people of Christchurch came out in droves to experience the festival.
We did actually focus up and get some other important tasks accomplished as well. Ah, firstly and sadly, our Christchurch house did not sell after a year of being on the market. We dropped the price several times; we continued to have people view it; but we could not get anyone to make an offer. It seems that for the price range our home is in, folks want a new contemporary house on a small section (ie: lot) not a large, 30 year old house on a large section. The mentality in New Zealand does seem different to what we were accustomed to in San Francisco and people here do not seem to make low-ball offers. Several times our agent encouraged people to make offers to which the reply often was “No, we know what they paid for it” or “It needs to much work”. Alas, it was not in our highest good to have it sell.
So we shifted our emotional focus to the house and decided if we were going to keep it, we may as well make a bit of money from it. And given that we were not spending a lot of time there anymore, it made sense to take on some permanent flatmates. And once we made this emotional shift, the karmic doors opened and things fell into place without any effort at all. A newly formed mutual friend of Sola & Inayat’s and ours was in need of a place to stay, so in he moved. Vernon was a great fit to the crazy clan we had at Clyde Road. Later, once all the temporaries left, Vernon’s girlfriend Evelyn moved in too and they took over the upstairs suite. They’ve been with us for two months and we couldn’t be more pleased.
We made a few important capital acquisitions. One was the purchase of Sola & Inayat’s tip top 1990 Toyota Hiace van to replace our well-loved Misubishi Delica red van but which gave us a lot of trouble in the previous six months. Becoming a money pit, we finally had to say ‘enough’ and replace it with something we hope will be much more reliable. So far, so good.
The second big purchase was a ride upon mower, courtesy of Santa. As I’d mentioned in my previous post, the grass at Wainui had become the bane of my existence and we could not keep up with the mowing. So armed with the knowledge of the mower model that the previous property owners had, we purchased an Australian-made Greenfield Evolution Fastcut-34 series, 19 hp mower. Woot! So, $8000 later, we came home with our spankin’ new shiny mower. This is one powerful machine and Bruce has kindly become my knight in shining armor. After only getting stuck once, he’s managed to tame this beast. Nothing pleases me more than to see him riding across the front yard, spewing out grass and producing a well-coifed lawn.
We made good progress with our architect, Russell Devlin, on our Wainui renovation plans. We continued to meet with him every ten days or so to flesh out the details although by the end of February we were still in the Concept Design stage. The roof line got changed around, the size of the rooms shifted, there were a list of questions we had to think about. I started pouring through home design magazines to get ideas. At this point we don’t have any new drawings to show, but hopefully these will be coming soon!
We also decided to put up a smaller separate double garage up near the sleepout. This will temporarily be used as storage space for the current garage’s contents once we embark upon the renovation. We chose Total Span as they appear to be a reputable company and it turned out that a Wainui neighbor of ours was also in the beginning stages of building a Total Span as well. Our building consent went into the City Council which will take up to four weeks to review and we patiently await their response.
And lastly, there’s our gardens. We maintained gardens in both Wainui and Clyde Road (CHCH). The tomato and zucchini plants thrived in both locations. The pumpkins appeared to be doing well. The new bed which I’d just planted in the last Life post just blossomed and we had a nice array of kale, silverbeet, and greens along with peas and broadbeans. We had a minor setback when some sheep got into the Wainui property and munched down most of our kale and greens, but they slowly rebounded. And our ol’man pear tree, which Bruce has lovingly cared for this past year (by planting in comfrey all around the drip line and dosing it with lots and lots of nitrogen, aka: pee) was laden with thousands of little pears. And our apple trees were bursting as well. Hmmm, can’t wait for harvest!
And that, my friends, is what I did over my summer.