Sunday, December 21, 2008

December 21, 2008 - Tauranga, NZ

You’ve got your chestnuts roasting on the open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose. We’ve got Santa Claus running around on the beach, fresh strawberry shortcake, and the pohukatawha trees in full bloom. Seasons greetings from New Zealand.

We just returned from almost six months in the US. We resumed some aspects of our former life (rowing for Ellen, another set of projects on the house for Tom), finally sold our industrial property, and explored some new ventures (dreaming about the next home, trout fishing in Montana, volunteering with the winning campaigns and a microlending organization).

You can travel around the world, but there is nothing, nothing like being with your own family. Starting with charming grandson Quinn (on video below with his Grandpa and Mimi at age 10 months). Kim and Ruben are enjoying parenthood, their jobs and Portland, ME. Eve is in San Francisco, on a temporary assignment with her firm. She loves the city and maybe she will figure out a way to stay. Amy is in Seattle, and just completed her first quarter at University of Washington Law School. Our mothers are both doing well and so is the fourteen year old dog that used to be ours, Chip.

We are back in full swing working on the boat and looking forward to a six-week air journey to Australia after the holidays. Then we will return to NZ and finish up the boat work in anticipation of sailing off to Fiji and Vanuatu in May. Cheers!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

December 12, 2008- Tauranga, NZ

Tauranga Harbor View
View of Mt Manganui from Beach

Back in New Zealand, yet again. The little city of Tauranga feels more and more like home. The weather is sublime, it’s nice to reunite with friends and acquaintances, we know our way around, the car is working, and fresh strawberries are the fruit of the month.

The boat is fine, but there is still a lot of work to do. We worry about completing it in time to catch the good weather window in May. Yes, five months seems like enough time to get anything done. Any why would you worry when you are leading the dream life in the South Pacific?

You do when the tradesman you worked with last year and who is number one on your critical path says (after you have put in the obligatory 15 minutes of small talk, live and in person, because starting a project on the phone is not getting into action here): “Oi keen coom boi and look at it sometoime in Janry efter Oi feenish thees big jawb een look at eet.” “We’ll be in Oz (local for Australia) for 6 weeks in January and February”. “Weel, Oi moy be down thee road boi then.” “Do you mean you are retiring?” “Ah, yees, thees is getting too much fer me, got ter leave it to thees yung uns.”

We will get there but it won’t be easy. And hey, the really good news is that New Zealand is a bargain now. A U.S. dollar purchases 35% more than it did in March, when we started the boat refit. Dinner out, nothing fancy, costs $16 rather than $25 and there are a lot of very good wines to be purchased for under $5/bottle. Here we are, on the “good side” of the global economic crisis – there are deals to be had, the planes are empty, it really is a good time to come on over.

The Kiwis are not preoccupied by the gloomy news. They tell lots of jokes: “How do you tell who’s an optimist in the financial industry?” “It’s the one who irons five shirts on Sunday night.” The tradespeople claim to be busy, but it looks to us like they just know how to drag out jobs that pay by the hour. The only thing the New Zealanders complain about is the price of cheese, and they have been doing that since we first arrived a year ago. Go figure.