Somewhere in New Zealand someone is enjoying a slightly used Canon G9 Powershot camera, an Ibook G4, and the various other electronic bits and pieces that were with them. That someone is certainly enjoying looking at all of the pictures of Nelson and I from the last month that were not backed up. They’re probably enjoying reading the last two weeks of Nelson’s doctoral research (also not backed up). They’re probably skyping with their friends on their new webcam as we speak.


We locked our electronics in the office at Solscape to protect them from the damp unlockable tipis. Irony is a slap in the face, isn’t it? On Christmas eve someone broke into the office and stole the cash register and our electronics. Somehow Phil’s nicer laptop was left untouched, sitting on top of the desk. Luckily our external hardrive was left as well, saving our backed up harddrives.

It was a crappy way to start our festivities. But, we pressed on. We had 27 (and growing) mouths to feed for Christmas dinner. So, down for a quick surf in the morning, then in the kitchen with the girls all afternoon. Here are the results of our hard work.

Then we held a Yankee Swap. I’m sure there are other names for the present stealing secret santa type game that my family plays, but since we are from New Hampshire, Yankee Swap seems appropriate.

Here is Nelson stealing Go’s cinnamon soap.

And Go’s expression when he figured out what was in the next present he opened.

And Go and Jake proudly displaying their Mother’s Milk surf wax. A popular item in our exchange.

Well, here’s to a good Christmas despite our losses (we keep trying to remind ourselves that they are just things after all). Hope everyone’s Christmas was as nice as ours. And here’s to hoping that someone’s heart will grow three sizes in the next few days and we will get our pictures and research back.

Is it beginning to look a lot like Christmas?

This is my first Christmas in the southern hemisphere, and maybe its just me, but it seems as though here in NZ they celebrate a bit differently. Here in Raglan the local bar, the YOT Club, held a super hero Christmas party. Here are the folks we live with at Solscape (Me, catwoman, the joker, Kill Bill, and Lara Croft). We arrived at the party in the back of Danny (the Joker)’s house truck. I can’t imagine what any random tourist walking down the street must have thought when six or seven of us rolled up. You can’t tell here, but my costume was simple… a cape from the op shop, black leggings, and undies on the outside.

We also recently moved out of our caboose home. We really liked our little dorm-sized room, but since we are in high-season and living at a hostel, I suppose we need to take what we can get. Our new room is about a five minute walk from the center of Solscape at the tipi retreat center. Yep, tipi. Here is our home for the next few weeks:

The downside of living in a tipi is that it can be quite damp. They were built for the great plains after all, and not for the tropics. But, it is actually gorgeous and tranquil up there and we have an outdoor kitchen and bathroom. We are going to cook Christmas dinner up there using the earth oven with all the long-termers here. No super hero costumes this time.I’m not sure if its the superheroes, tipis, or summer weather, but it definitely doesn’t feel like Christmas. None of mom’s cookies, no 7 fish dinner, and no time with the fam. All I want for Christmas is New Jersey!

Seeing Stars

I saw stars today. No, not the romantic, “Oh, Nelson, I see stars in your eyes” kind of stars. Think less 40’s love ballad and more road-runner v. coyote, yellow and red flashing stars. I’ve never actually seen stars before, and I’ve done some pretty dumb stuff. What could’ve caused this kind of pain?

Was it when at about 3am Nelson sleep-punched me in the side of the head? (He had a dream that he was in a fight with his childhood best friend, Za). No, turns out sleep-punches are only bout 1/10 as strong as real punches. A couple of moans and some belly laughs and we were both asleep again.

Was it when I got skegged today in the groin? You got it. Somehow I, and my board both got turned around in a wave so that I was laying on the wrong side of the board. Bad News. The next wave came and I caught a non-flexi surf fin to, what my older sister (a lawyer with two kids) calls, the Va-Jay-Jay. Man, pubic bones are sensitive. I thought I might pass out it hurt so much.

Sleep punching and a powerful skegging… Sorry Nelson, no loving for the foreseeable future.


December 1st was the start date for my PhD research at the University of Waikato. I got my student ID card. I met with my supervisor. I got government subsidized health insurance. 
I’ve been thinking about my research question. Thinking is nice because you can do it anywhere. 

PhD: Proximal hamilton Domicile: We are living about 60 kilometers away from Hamilton in Raglan, world famous for its left-hand surf break. 

PhD: Potentially habit-forming Diversion: As a study-break from thinking, I thought I might experience the local culture. 
PhD: Pretty happy Dude: This is fun!

PhD: Potentially harmful Dump: This clearly needs more research!

Wainui Road

Wai: (n.- Maori) Water

Nui: (n.- Maori) Big
It is starting to feel like summertime here in Raglan. Our (its mine since I have now officially lived here for two weeks) normally quiet beach was swarmed with people this weekend. It is a huge change from mid-week when there are four of us out at the beach at any given time. Me, Nelson, and the cuddlefish. 

Solscape is located on Wainui Road, which leads to the famous Manu and Whale Bay surf spots. Surfers come here from all over to ride the longest left-hand break in the world. At some point I will graduate to these legendary surf spots, but for now I am content at surfing the waves at what locals call “the beach” (our beach).

On this particular day, although we are looking very hardcore (Nelson in his sneakers and me in my rented wetsuit), the Wai was not very Nui. Which is fine for me. While I am way above the bunny-hill, I’m not quite ready for any blue square surfing. I am a happy green circle betty. So here I am, on some of the flattest sea we’ve experienced looking like a champ. I don’t want to brag, but I stood up on the second wave I caught. I think this could become an addiction.