Saturday, 31 January 2009

And the winner is ...

Occasionally, in amongst all the doom and gloom we see and hear in the news each day, something so ridiculous turns up that one can't help but wondering at other people's stupidity. This happened earlier this week, when two prisoners escaped from a police escort through a side door at the district court. All well and good, except they were handcuffed together, and hadn't quite worked out some vital details.

It would appear that their communication and decision making skills were not quite in sync:
"Their break for freedom came to an embarrassing end when they chose to run on different sides of a lamp-post. They swung around the pole and collided with each other before collapsing in a tangle. Each blamed the other for their actions."
Their escape bid was made even more shameful when they were caught on closed circuit tv, and the video was promptly posted on YouTube, as well as on the news and a news site.

Read the full story here.

Thanks, guys. You win the award for "stupidest and most comedic recent escape attempt".

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Return of the earworm

My earworm has returned. Actually, I don't think it ever went away, but this morning it is particularly annoying. Why? Because I don't have one song fragment stuck in my head, but two. They merge into each other, and then lead into a third song, none of which I particularly like.

I have the chorus of Walking in Light by Th'Dudes, a 1970s kiwi rock band, going round and round. "I'm walking in light, I'm walking in light, I'm walking in light." I don't mind it too much, but it's been in my head for too long today and is starting to annoy me.

This leads into the instrumental riff of Computer Games by Mi-Sex, a, 80s new-age song and band I don't care much for. (Why me??)

And, just to complete the hat trick, my earworm is leading both these songs into A Glass of Champagne by Sailor.

Unbelievable! I don't know why my earworm decided to choose three kiwi rock/pop songs from the 70s and 80s to taunt me with today. None are particularly connected in any way, yet musically they are forming an ongoing medley which is slowly but surely driving me to my iPod. (For the record, I was listening to other music for a while, then got into the shower ... guess what returned?)

What's your earworm playing for you today? Do you have one? Do you want mine??

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Terracotta Warriors of Qin

I went to see the Terracotta Warriors of Qin (pronounced "Chin") today. This exhibition is a private collection of original artifacts from the Qin dynasty (221BC-206BC) and 43 replicas of the Terracotta Army. The remains of this army were discovered in March 1974 by two Chinese farmers who were digging a well and stumbled upon some terracotta ruins. These were the first of three pits containing the Terracotta Army, including over 8,000 soldiers and 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits.

The original warriors were built to protect the tomb of the first emperor of unified China, Qin Shi Huang (259BC-210BC). He came to power when he was just 13 and achieved a lot to unify the seven states of China during his short, somewhat tyrannical reign. He also created a common currency, some laws, roads, among other things. Many original coins (round with a square hole in them) were on display, along with original swords, daggers, and artifacts from the time.

Here are some facts I learned from my visit today:
  • each replica warrior weighs approximately 180kg
  • the terracotta horse replica weighs 200kg
  • combined, the 43 warriors on display weighs a massive 10,000kg. Tests had to be carried out on the room (upstairs in the St James Theatre in Wellington) to ensure the floor was strong enough to hold the exhibition.
  • each replica was handmade by artesans at a Chinese museum.
The original warriors were coated with a lacquer finish then painted in quite garish colours. It appears that the army made its own uniforms, so colour and style varied greatly, even among the terracotta warriors. Upon contact with air, the lacquer quickly disintegrated, removing the paint and revealing the original terracotta underneath. Here are some recreations of what the ancient paint jobs might have looked like:

The warrior replicas and horse were lined up in formation. The scene was impressive enough with only 43 warriors, let alone imagining more than 8000!

Once again, I didn't have my camera with me, so these photos were taken on my trusty phone, which explains why the quality varies. I think it will be quite some time before I'll be able to see the real Terracotta Army in China. In the meantime, I can highly recommend checking out the replicas while they are on show in Wellington (until the end of February 2009).

Oh, and on the way out, there was a small table with a box saying that if you write your contact details on the back of your ticket that you will be in with a chance to win a trip for two to Hong Kong or Shanghai. Now, how could I resist a competition? ;-)

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The Parrot Ranch

A friend of our has bought a two-acre plot of land on the edge of Levin, a rural town nearly two hours north of Wellington. He had been inviting us for some time to visit one weekend, then pitch a tent somewhere on his land and camp overnight. The land is completely undeveloped in its current state, with two sheds and a small, temporary cabin as its only adornments. It has several dozen gum trees, reaching about 30m each, and a tiny pond at one of the property ... and nothing else. He has plans to eventually build a log cabin in the middle, but it's not there yet. We (I) decided we weren't too keen on the camping bit (even though he'd promised to hire a Port-a-loo), but were happy to visit.

The idea was that about 15 of us would head up for the day and to go the Organic River Festival nearby. The festival didn't really appeal to us, and the $20 cover charge appealed even less, so we dropped our friends off and went for a drive before meeting later for a barbeque. (Levin is tiny; driving around it doesn't take long.)

We came across The Parrot Ranch. I have always loved birds and grew up in a family of bird-lovers. Parrots, in particular, have such distinctive personalities and I especially enjoy their playful intelligence. Although bookings are essential for tours around The Parrot Ranch, we took our chances and were lucky enough to find a tour leaving in five minutes. Great!

This place is fantastic. The owner is so clearly dedicated to his work and shared his passion for all the birds and animals in his care. This must be an incredibly demanding job; the hand-rearing process alone means that baby birds are hand-fed every two hours, moving onto every four hours once they are a few weeks old. There are numerous species of parrots and other birds in both inside and outside enclosures. He also has a native bird rescue programme, whereby injured birds are brought in for rehabilitation before being re-released into the wild.

Here are some highlights from our visit:

Jackie is a sulphur-crested cockatoo. He is about 24 years old and came straight over to the edge of his cage, putting his head down towards the bars. I knew what he wanted but wondered whether I'd get in trouble ... until he did it again and said "scratch". How could I resist an invitation like that? I was very tempted to take Jackie home ...

This male harrier hawk had been attacked by a farm dog and had no tail. He had been at the ranch for four months and will remain there until he moults out the remaining damaged tail feathers and grows a new tail, when he will be re-released into the wild. You can see his impressive wingspan. There was also a female harrier hawk who had flown into power lines.

Rio (on the right) is the ranch's pet hybrid macaw. He is a cross between a blue and gold macaw (like the one on the left) and a military macaw. Being incredibly cheeky (not quite their description, but you get the picture), they've decided to keep him as a pet as he responds best to the ranch owner.

And, finally, Mrs Goose. Mrs Goose follows the owner everywhere. As soon as she hears his voice, she goes waddling over to him. She hangs around outside his bedroom window at night and knows if he's awake inside. Her honk sounded like a pig grunting (hilarious!). She has the run of the ranch, but is never far away from the man she thinks is her father.

You can see more photos from our visit to The Parrot Ranch on Flickr. They were taken on my phone (we hadn't planned to go, therefore didn't bring a camera!), so the quality varies.

I'm really glad we chose The Parrot Ranch as the venue for goal #77 - Visit an aviary. Well worth a visit (remember to book for a tour!) and somewhere I'm keen to go back to again.

Monday, 19 January 2009

What font are you?

I never realised Café Chick could be a font. I'm somewhat picky about fonts, templates and their correct use within web design and publishing, but had never stopped to think what font I could be. Silly me!? ;-)

You Are Palatino

You consider yourself to be creative and artistic.
And you'd like everyone else to know it!

You take design and aesthetics seriously.
You like everything in your life to be unique and beautiful - but never gaudy!

Now, if only the code for these results could have been in palatino, lol!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

The Sinner's Guide to Confession - Phyllis Schieber

I have just finished reading The Sinner's Guide to Confession (2008) by Phyllis Schieber. The title had me hooked (isn't that shallow of me?), and an easy read followed. The plot is built around the premise that everyone has secrets, even those they keep from their closest friends and family. Schieber introduces a very extensive list of characters, mostly family members who are connected through three female friends in their late 40s and 50s. Of course, once everyone finally comes to reveal their secrets in a range of different circumstances, all is well and good and life goes on with even more support from each other than before. However, it's not quite as cheesy as it sounds and it's easy to build up a genuine empathy for the characters.

Issues explored include female friendship, adoption, the makeup of families, and the importance of keeping up appearances at all costs. It's easy to read, humorous at times, filled with just the right amount of emotion and family guilt, and there's sure to be at least half a dozen characters you feel you know personally or might even be possibly related to yourself!

Another book inhaled. :-)

100 things

I saw this on Sab's blog and Café Chick simply couldn't resist. Copy it to your own blog and bold what you have done:
  1. Started your own blog
  2. Slept under the stars
  3. Played in a band
  4. Visited Hawaii
  5. Watched a meteor shower
  6. Given more than you can afford to charity
  7. Been to Disneyland
  8. Climbed a mountain
  9. Held a praying mantis
  10. Sang a solo
  11. Bungee jumped
  12. Visited Paris
  13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
  14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
  15. Adopted a child
  16. Had food poisoning
  17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
  18. Grown your own vegetables
  19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
  20. Slept on an overnight train
  21. Had a pillow fight
  22. Hitch hiked
  23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
  24. Built a snow fort
  25. Held a lamb
  26. Gone skinny dipping
  27. Run a marathon
  28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
  29. Seen a total eclipse
  30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
  31. Hit a home run
  32. Been on a cruise
  33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
  34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
  35. Seen an Amish community
  36. Taught yourself a new language
  37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
  38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
  39. Gone rock climbing
  40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
  41. Sung karaoke
  42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
  43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
  44. Visited Africa
  45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
  46. Been transported in an ambulance
  47. Had your portrait painted
  48. Gone deep sea fishing
  49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
  50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
  51. Gone scuba diving or snorkelling
  52. Kissed in the rain
  53. Played in the mud
  54. Gone to a drive-in theater
  55. Been in a movie
  56. Visited the Great Wall of China
  57. Started a business
  58. Taken a martial arts class
  59. Visited Russia
  60. Served at a soup kitchen
  61. Sold Girl Guide biscuits
  62. Gone whale watching
  63. Got flowers for no reason
  64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
  65. Gone sky diving
  66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
  67. Bounced a check
  68. Flown in a helicopter
  69. Saved a favourite childhood toy
  70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
  71. Eaten caviar
  72. Pieced a quilt
  73. Stood in Times Square
  74. Toured the Everglades
  75. Been fired from a job
  76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
  77. Broken a bone
  78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
  79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
  80. Published a book
  81. Visited the Vatican
  82. Bought a brand new car
  83. Walked in Jerusalem
  84. Had your picture in the newspaper
  85. Read the entire Bible
  86. Visited the White House
  87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
  88. Had chickenpox
  89. Saved someone’s life
  90. Sat on a jury
  91. Met someone famous
  92. Joined a book club
  93. Lost a loved one
  94. Had a baby
  95. Seen the Alamo in person
  96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
  97. Been involved in a law suit
  98. Owned a cell phone
  99. Been stung by a bee
  100. Read an entire book in one day
36. There are some things on this list that I'd like to do, and others I've almost done ...

Who's next?

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Competition junkie

I have a confession to make: I am a competition junkie. I love entering competitions and, even better, I love winning stuff. Any stuff. Even if I don't really want it. If it says "be in to win" or "enter", I'm there. Well, within reason. You'll never catch me entering a competition for backstage passes and a 'meet and greet' with Coldplay *shudder* or back copies of every series of Big Brother on DVD (although these could possibly be onsold). Likewise you won't find me paying to enter something, or signing my life away in the process. But basic entry forms (especially online) ... well, you've got to be in to win!

I've been relatively 'lucky' over the years which, of course, elicits the same few comments from a multitude of observers, many of which amuse me:
  • "Obviously no-one enters these competitions." No, it's neither obvious nor true: I enter them. But regardless of whether others choose to or not, how is this my problem? Should I stop entering competitions just because others don't? LOL
  • "I never win anything." Do you enter anything? No? That could be why you don't win. (See above point.) ;-)
  • "I don't have time for things like that." True. It's hard finding the precious thirty seconds or so it takes to find a website and enter a key code, or flick out a quick email. Lucky me for having so much more 'time' in my day than others! :-D
  • "You should buy a Lotto ticket." The logic of this one astounds me. How is blowing money on something with outrageous odds the same as entering my details on a website, where my investment is nil and my possible return ranges anywhere from 'nothing' to 'something'? There's a difference between entering competitions and gambling. :-P
So, what have I won? My most recent win is one of my biggest (and most exciting): a 16GB iPod touch *drool*. A couple of weeks ago, it was a double movie pass. Over the years, there have been a number of CDs (many of which have gone straight onto TradeMe), occasional concert or rugby tickets, books, an iPod Shuffle (this was a great Christmas present for Mum one year!), beer (I don't drink, so this went straight to my brother), a Taste magazine subscription (my sister-in-law is enjoying this), and other odds and ends. Many I have kept; some I have onsold or given away. It's the buzz of knowing I've won something which excites me, even if it's something small.

Now, excuse me while I enter today's key code for $1000 of petrol ...

Monday, 12 January 2009

A taste of the past

Today was my first day back at work for 2009. It certainly wasn't easy after a 2 1/2 week break! I have three weeks left until my contract expires and have no idea what the future holds for me after that. One of the (many) advantages of working from home that I will miss is the flexibility it offers; if I need to pop out for an appointment, I can easily do so and work earlier or later to make up for it. Today I made use of this advantage by refinancing my mortgages; heavy stuff for the start of a year. (All was fine - whew!) As for the (many) disadvantages ... that's another story.

Having my meeting in a part of town that I rarely get to these days meant that I could stop for a quick coffee in one of the most quaint settings. Smith the Grocer is gorgeous, and decorated to resemble and old-fashioned grocer's store. Everything at Smith the Grocer is about presentation; from the exceptional coffee with 'Smith' frosted on my cappuccino in chocolate, to old newspapers pasted on the walls, to the surrounding display cabinets. It's a wonderful place to 'step back in time' right in the middle of the city.

Nestled into a corner of Smith the Grocer is tempt, a tiny piece of cupcake paradise and another little step back in time. Having become recently fascinated by cupcakes, and having an initial try at baking and decorating cupcakes myself, I was keen to explore the goodies tempt offer. A friend tells me she visits tempt for inspiration and good ideas before having a go at recreating some of their designs for herself - and she succeeds!

I guess I imagined it to be a small shop filled with delights; of course I should have realised that it's not practical to having hundreds of fresh, exquisitely hand-decorated cupcakes at the ready 'just in case'. Instead, tempt have a display case and cashier who sells a few cupcakes from the display but also takes orders for future purchases. Here is the display that greeted us today:

I was given a cupcake kit for Christmas, complete with all the little frosting attachments I'll need. However, I think it will take a bit of practice before my creations end up looking like these.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Black Books

I have been getting acquainted with Black Books (2000) these holidays. I seem to be the only person in the world (at least among the people I know) who hadn't heard of it until recently, and now it has become our dinner routine: ie it's now "Black Books time".

Set in a small, independent bookshop in central London, Black Books is an hilarious British sitcom. With only three series of six episodes each (and short ones at that - 22 mins), every minute is priceless comedy. The series centres a foul-mouthed, Irish alcoholic bookshop owner (Dylan Moran) and two other eccentric cast members (Bill Bailey and Tamsin Greig). It is the kind of humour that other sitcoms strive for yet few truly achieve. The romantic notion held by every devoted reader of running a bookshop soon unravels, especially with an owner who doesn't like customers or people who buy books.

We are halfway through series two; part of me wants to binge on the rest and watch the remaining episodes back to back, while another part of me wants to savour the rest and continue enjoying an installment each night to avoid reaching the end too soon.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

A Change for Good - John Thorp

I am inhaling books this week. *contented sigh*

I have just finished reading A Change for Good (2006) by John Thorp. With the byline "when she became he", it is the story of man who began his life with the outer appearance of a woman. I have read a couple of transgender and transsexual biographies; this one caught my attention because it was more uncommon than the 'usual' stories of men becoming women.

John Thorp began his life as Josephine Thorp. He entered the path of academia as a female, graduating with a MSc and PhD in chemistry. After a series of painful operations (the details which, of course, I had to skip), he underwent the long journey which led him to be living legally as a man. However, society in the 1950s/60s wasn't kind and he and his wife, Joan, lived through many years of prejudice and misunderstanding, from people they knew (family and 'friends', as well as colleagues), the media, and complete strangers. I wonder if the reaction he received would actually be any different today?

A quick, easy read, and one that gives a tiny glimpse into a life lived in constant fear of prejudice.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Sunday Stealing

I came across Sunday Stealing via Transplanted Magnolia's blog. Each week, this blog 'steals' a meme from somewhere and invited bloggers to respond with links to their own blogs. Being partial to a bit of blog meme stealing myself, I think this is going to be a new 'must do' for Café Chick. Why? Because it's the summer holidays, and just because I can, I guess.

The New Year Meme
  1. Looking back on 2008, what might your theme song have been?
    Spinning Wheel, by Blood, Sweat & Tears

  2. If 2008 was a movie, who would play you?
    Catherine Zeta Jones (I wish!)

  3. What was your greatest gift of 2008?
    Being happy with who I am and with my sweetie.

  4. What is your New Year resolution, or, what are you committing to this year?
    I don't do New Year's resolutions, but want to continue with my 101 in 1001.

  5. If January could be represented by one song, what would it be?
    Summer Breeze, by Seals & Crofts (or the Isley Brothers - either is fine)

  6. What do you wish for your body in 2009?
    That it becomes 10kg lighter.

  7. Name one new thing you would love to try in the New Year.
    Riding in a hot air balloon.

  8. What do you long for 2009 to bring?
    Good health, good times with my sweetie and friends, and a new job for when my contract finishes at the end of January.

  9. If that happened, how would you feel?
    Happy and contented.

  10. Where would you love to vacation in 2009 if money were no object?
    Europe - all over!

  11. What would you like the theme of 2009 to be?
    Living life to the fullest by being yourself and being happy.

  12. If 2009 was a book, and the title was 5 words or less, what might the title be?
    Exciting times: A fresh page.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Cracks in my Foundation - Marian Keyes

I have just finished another of my summer reads. Cracks in my Foundation (2005) is a collection of short stories and essays by Irish author, Marian Keyes. It follows up her first compilation, Under the Duvet (2001) and has been released with the title Further Under the Duvet in some places. Proceeds of the hardback sales in Ireland go to the charity Keyes is patron of, To Russia With Love, and one of her essays explains her connection with this charity.

I borrowed this book from someone who described Keyes's novels as "like a warm bath". I have to say I agree. Keyes has a way of tackling even the toughest issues with humour and humility and her novels are strangely comforting. She has no problem poking fun at herself, yet does it in a way that is sure to bring any reader onside. The reader gets a sense of truly knowing each of the characters, without them being turned into caricatures. That's not to say that their features are not often exaggerated; however, any exaggeration is portrayed in a truly humorous way. Most of the essays in this book had been previously published elsewhere; they are easy to read and, for me, seem to fill out the wider picture Keyes reveals of herself through her novels.

Also on my 'to read this summer' list is This Charming Man (2008).

What's in a name?

I saw this posted on anther blog, Thoughts from an Average Life, and see that it has done the rounds of a few blogs, so now it's Café Chick's turn:

First pet's name and current car

Favourite ice cream flavour, favourite cookie
YOUR GANGSTA NAME: Hazelnut Rocher Chunky Chocolate Chip (what a mouthful!)

First initial of first name, first three letters of last name

Favourite color, favourite animal

Middle name, city where you were born
YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: Marie Wellington

First 3 letters of last name, first 2 letters of first name

"The" + 2nd favourite color, favourite drink
SUPERHERO NAME: The Yellow Strawberry Daiquiri

First names of your grandfathers
NASCAR NAME: Howard Vincenzo

Name of favourite perfume/cologne/scent, favourite candy
STRIPPER NAME: Baby Doll Picnic (I'll bet!)

Mother's and father's middle names

Your 5th grade teacher's last name, a major city starting with that same letter

Favourite season/holiday, flower

Favourite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + "ie" or "y"
CARTOON NAME: Strawberry Gowny (sounds dodgy)

What you ate for breakfast, your favourite tree
HIPPIE NAME: Toast Pohutukawa

"The" + favourite hobby/craft, favourite weather element + "Tour"
YOUR ROCK STAR TOUR NAME: The Reading Sunny Tour

Your turn!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Like riding a bicycle

They say you never forget how. They didn't say anything about how well you'll actually remember, though.

Today, I rode my new bike for the first time. I couldn't find a purple helmet so had to make do with a white one with blue butterflies on it (the only non-pink ladies' helmet I could find). I'd planned a short ride of a few km on the flat, and it took some of that time getting used to riding again.

Let me fill in the picture here ... the last time I rode a bike that wasn't stationary was about ten years ago, and that ended in one too many heated arguments with the ex. Prior to that, it was probably another ten years. Put it this way: I've never ridden a bike that's had more than three gears; stepping up to eighteen will take some getting used to.

I'd heard that gel seats are softer and more comfy. Ha! Hopefully it will soften up (or I will harden up) over time. Nevertheless, I'm getting the hang of it; I'll just need some more practice riding after so long. I have one more week of my summer holiday left, so am keen to get into a routine which makes this an ongoing goal: #94 - Ride a bike.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Colossal squid

We paid a visit to the colossal squid at Te Papa today. The exhibit starts with a short 3D movie depicting life under the sea, which attempts to put a live colossal squid in proportion with other ocean life. Despite reading all the stats, and seeing the squid for real, it's hard to conceive of something so massive (or even larger creatures) living in our waters. That's why I love astronomy (just to digress, slightly ...); the sheer scale and proportion of beings in space, as well as the distance between objects, helps put life on earth into perspective. We are mere 'blips' in the universe, and the rest of existence will continue regardless of whether we buy those shoes, see that movie, or spend an extra hour at work. The same goes for underwater life, although, to be honest, it's harder for me to conceive of the sheer enormity of life in the deep ocean.

It is not known why this squid held on so fiercely to the bait she grabbed, ultimately bringing her to the surface of the Antarctic ocean. The decompression she would have experienced during her ascent meant she wasn't going to survive and couldn't be returned to the sea. The ensuing opportunity for the world's squid experts threw up many challenges, and some are shown on a short video about the freezing, defrosting, and research processes.

This squid is a beauty, so to speak. Some stats I remember:
  • her eye is the size of a soccer ball, with each lens the size of an orange and split in two
  • her throat passes through her brain, so if she eats something too big, it could do some damage
  • she was about 4.5 metres long and weighed 490kg, even though she is estimated to be only half the size of a fully-grown female colossal squid
  • find out more here.
Merely a shadow of her former self now, I'd certainly recommend going to see this colossal squid, as she is the only one on display in the world. She had a lot of visitors today, due to it being a holiday with less-than-ideal weather. As with most exhibitions at Te Papa, there is free entry. Well worth a visit!

Friday, 2 January 2009

Supermarket stories

Someone once told me I had a face that says "tell me!". How did I come to have a face like that? I thought I just looked like me.

It's been a while since my 'tell me' face last appeared. I wrote a post about travel tales and pondered why people see it fit to randomly babble on planes and other modes of transportation, but don't tend to do the same in supermarkets. Well, today, I take that all back.

I popped out to the supermarket this afternoon, as we had run out of bread. It was going to be a quick shop: just bread and a couple of other basics. On the way in, I noticed that cherries were now 40% cheaper than they were at Christmas a week ago. These ones looked great, so I started selecting a few. As I was filling my bag, a woman stood next to me and looked for labels, then started to lament the "terrible" food available in the North Island, which is really hard when you're from the South Island and used to having good fresh food and produce, but just can't find it when you're away ... all in a very broad English accent, I might add. (Unless England is now in the South Island? It must have happened while I wasn't paying attention.)

I could see she was expecting some kind of response from this North Islander, so I pointed out that she didn't need to buy the cherries if she didn't like them.

"Oh, I know," she replied, "but I keep on doing it and hoping it will get better and that things will be as good as I remembered, but they never are." Hmm, I said I couldn't help her with that. She agreed, and wished me a happy new year, all the while muttering to herself about the state of all the fruit around her. I continued shopping.

A few aisles along, I came across a woman complaining to a staff member about the number of products running out and not being replaced in the store. He sympathised and said that sometimes there were extra supplies "out the back", and they were replenished as soon as possible, but on this occasion it was unfortunate that they didn't have what she needed, blah blah blah. She said it wasn't just on this occasion, but every occasion she shopped there ... you get the picture. I gingerly sneaked between them to grab a soap refill pack, which happened to be the last one of its type on the shelf. I had inadvertently stepped into the web; I now became the centre of "see, another product which has run out - will you be replacing it, or will you just leave it and not bother?" ... how do I do this?? I quietly made my escape.

Sometimes it's best not to think about things too much, so tonight I plan to wash my hands with my new soap and eat my cherries, selfishing enjoying them without giving a thought in the world to the poor South Islanders on holiday in the North Island and being forced to eat our substandard food, or the fact that there may be someone somewhere who is in desperate need of a honey and jojoba flowing soap refill. Indulgent? You bet! ;-)

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year

Here we are the start of a brand new year: fresh, innocent, untainted, and full of hope. It's a time for new beginnings, a time to look back at 2008, and a time to promise to do better in 2009. (Isn't that how it goes?) After all, we promise ourselves, next year is going to be different. All talk of Christmas, which has plagued us since October, is now, thankfully, out the window.

Here are some things I love (in a cringe-worthy kind of fashion) about New Year's:
  • Drunk txting. Somehow, it's acceptable for your friends to txt you at ungodly hours for just one night of the year. Someone I knew from my school days, and whom I had met up with once in 2008 after connecting again via Facebook, was obviously revelling in the novelty of having a babysitter for her three kids this New Year's Eve, and celebrated by sending drunk txts to everyone in her phone book.

  • Starting the year either hungover or still drunk. As a non-drinker, I find this ritual hilarious. Barbeques and parties on New Year's Day are somewhat quieter affairs than their predecessors the day before.

  • New Year's Resolutions. I can tell who has made them; they're the ones who start their lawnmower/weed eaters/other noisy outdoor appliances at 9am on New Year's Day while the rest of the world is still sleeping. You can also spot them walking/running/cycling/out and about for the first week of each new year. They're harder to spot in February.
Happy New Year everyone! Buon Anno a tutti! Café Chick is looking forward to your company again in 2009.