There is so much to be thankful for this year. Besides my wonderful family and boyfriend, my education and being able to travel. I can now add to the list that I am thankful for the fact that I live here:

I was feeling a bit homesick on Thursday. Growing up Thanksgiving in our house was almost bigger than Christmas. We would gather with a throng of extended family, always including the Cincinatti fourth cousins. The Macy’s parade in the morning, cooking all day, and playing football. Remember when Zach ran into the palm tree during the fake Florida thanksgiving, and when we ate turkey dinner in Cinderella’s castle? Well this Thanksgiving looked like it was going to be turkey, parade, and football free (they call it gridiron here). To top it off, Nelson was in Hamilton because he did a presentation Wednesday night. Yeah, so Thursday morning was a bit of a sad time. 
But, at the risk of sounding like a peanuts holiday special, Thanksgiving night was magical. We have been hanging out with a couple from California who are bike-touring through NZ. Jen and I decided that we would go all out and show the multinational crew of wwoofers what thanksgiving was all about. It wasn’t hard to convince everyone that a holiday centered on eating was a good idea. By the way, the irony of Eurpoeans celebrating a day of peace with the Native Americans translates well across language barriers.
After our 2 hours of wwoof work Jen, Dan, and I headed down to our local grocery store, which is the equivalent of the American chain 7-11. We didn’t have high hopes for putting together an authentic T-day meal. But, thanks to a super helpful French-canadian store clerk we found nearly everything we needed (chicken on the barbey is almost the same as turkey anyway). Yep, that’s right. In New Zealand in the beginning of summer we found yams, stuffing, and get this… cranberry sauce.
Just like home, once we started cooking, the kitchen became the most popular place to be. Our list of 8 feasters quickly turned into 15. We were starting to worry about our food supply. But, in true Charlie Brown fashion, (or maybe I’m thinking of the fishes and loaves parable from the Bible), the food was more than enough. The final (and best) magic happened right as we finished eating. While our feasters were in full clean-up mode and we were rocking out to some tune in walks the cutest hitch-hiker I’ve ever seen, just in time for some warm leftovers.
Happy Thanksgiving Cincinatti, New Jersey, and even Missouri.
Cook Crew:

Just like Gev and Courtney, Laurence seems to be delivering the message to Dan:

The feast:


We recently found out that despite our beliefs, there are actually a small group of people who anxiously await our posts. So, to both of you, sorry for the lack of posts this week.

We spent the last five days in Gordonton, just ot the north of Hamilton, at Judy Chrystall’s asparagus farm. Can’t you see the asparagus?
How about now?

Um yeah, picking asparagus is tricky. We were in Gordonton because Judy hired Nelson for  a design project. Judy is looking to have a farmstay business, and so needed to update the area surrounding the lower level of her house. We tidied up her garden and gave her a plan to incorporate chicken tractoring into her expanding orchard. Here are the results:

Just like in Murray and Lindy’s garden in Wanganui, we dug some keyhole gardens. They are a good way to maximeze the amount of planting space in a small bed. This one uses a tree stup as the center space:

After leaving Judy’s we headed to Raglan and are back at Solscape again. Loving the beach, loving the sun, loving the good folks. 

Goodbye Wanganui

Goodbye to our first home in New Zealand. Goodbye Quakers, goodbye wonderful saturday farmer’s markets. Goodbye music-making friends and their cute children. Goodbye environment center. Goodbye escaping chooks. Goodbye little dark house. 

I don’t have a good enough internet connection to post pictures of all these wonderful Wanganui memories, so that will have to wait. We are headed to Hamilton to reconnect with our stored gear, to Gordinton for a design job, and then off to Raglan. 
Wanganui, we miss you already.


Honest Opportunities in Permaculture Education

This weekend Nelson led his first workshop under a model he calls H.O.P.E. The idea is that an experienced educator holds a workshop at a landowner’s property that wants work done. The workshop benefits all involved, the educator gets paid, the property owners get work done on their land, and the participants get a cheap introduction to permaculture. Since we set the pricing, we were able to offer the course at a sliding scale and discounts for participants who chose to bike or carpool (23/24 people either carpooled or rode a bike!!). Both workshops, Saturday and Sunday, went wonderfully. We met great people, saw some familiar friendly faces, and got a lot of work done. The weather even cooperated and we had two of the most beautiful days since we arrived in Wanganui. Although, Nelson did suffer an unfortunate sunburn, revealing his true status as a “redneck”.
This workshop was held at TreeLife Organic Nursery, a farm that belongs to our friends Murray and Lindy. The workshops were divided into two sessions. The morning session was a lecture/discussion introducing participants to the ethics, principals, and working concepts behind permaculture. Then we took a break for tea (of course) with yummy goodies expertly prepared by Dani and Lindy.After the break it was into the field to excercise the concepts discussed in the morning. The participants divided into small groups and rotated through three stations. Dani ran a workshop on creating a keyhole garden, a way to maximize planting space in a small garden. Murray and Lindy shared their expertise in tree planting, pruning, and grafting. Nelson showed three ways to begin raised beds.All in all it was an awesome weekend. We got tons done and lots of good feedback. We think it is a workshop model we will take with us as we move (in only two days) away from Wanganui.

Faith Restored

At 4:55 pm Nov. 5th we learned that Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States of America. Thus began our completely non-partisan celebration. Wearing our most patriotic outfits, we hugged, we smooched, we danced, and then we pledged allegiance to a  picture of the American flag we found on Google Image search. 

It is the first time I have pledged allegiance to the flag since high school. Thanks to having Spanish first period with Mrs. Foster, I even recited it en español. I think this editorial sums up what I feel. As an expat living overseas and a traveller it is acceptable (even admirable) to be American again. It feels good. 
Unfortunately before Obama could offer his acceptance speech, our coverage of the US elections was preempted by… 
NZ Wheel of Fortune! 
Oh well, I guess we’ll have to You-Tube it later. 

A Bit of Distraction

Although it’s already Nov. 4th here in NZ, we have about another 16 hours before voting begins in the US. Like you, I feel stressed, anxious, and a bit overwhelmed by all of the campaign coverage. So here is a little break from all the buzz… some pictures of what we’ve been up to the past few days.