Friday, May 27, 2011

This and that in the House of Osborne

‘Twas my birthday last week.

Jeff thought ahead and bought a new laptop for me.
He was probably tired of me hogging his!
Which put me in a dilemma, because I had been mulling the prospect of some new hardware for a long time.
And dropping hints about how much I liked the look of the iPad.

So, I freely admit that, when I dragged myself out into the family room on the morning of my birthday and found the laptop box sitting on the table, I was disappointed. It was bigger than I would have liked, it was from Fry’s (who have a lousy return policy and customer service), and I really wanted to have some input on my next computer.

I decided to be a good wife and not let on, which I managed quite well for a few days, but eventually we had an honest discussion on the topic where I reminded him that he got to pick out his laptop. Even though I hog it. I did tell him it was a very nice thing to do and I appreciate it, even if I had a few ungrateful moments. So, we’re good.

We had to send the old laptop off for some R&R at the HP hospital. Thank goodness for Costco and their excellent customer service! I uploaded a bunch of photos so that I could work on blog posts while my old friend is away, but I thought you might be getting tired of my travelogues. And I think the old blog has turned into a photo blog, which wasn’t my intention.

I find myself having to learn some new tricks. I’m now writing my post in Windows Live Writer, which I think will be very cool once I get the hang of it. It allows more options for text and photo placement and will hopefully bypass the Blogger glitches. I’m looking for a replacement for Picasa, which also has flaws. Lindsay, who knows of such SAM_0453things, suggested I get Photoshop, which I guess you can find on Amazon for pretty cheap. I’d love to hear any other suggestions, ‘cause I always feel better when I have options!

The big news is that we have two pregnant daughters, due within a week or so of each other. Hooray for multiplying and replenishing! Gotta stay ahead of the bad guys in that department.

And. Yesterday I bought our tickets for England, via Iceland.

I know, third big trip this year. Crazy, huh? This one is for Jeff, who has wanted to visit forever, and I thought we should do it before the world falls completely to pieces. I also want to visit my Dad’s family, especially my aunts and uncle and cousin, whom I have only seen once in the last 45 years.

And. July 1st we are finally having an open house for Charlie and Sam. Annie and Elsie will be here, if pregnancy sickness allows, and the good times will roll.

Now all we need is a little bit of summer. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The friendly kakarikis

First, some housekeeping. I turned off comments moderation, so if you feel so inclined and have had difficulty in the past, it should be so easy to leave me a comment now.

After the thrill of hobnobbing with lemurs, we continued our walk and entered the Free Flight Sanctuary. The first enclosure contained a couple of keas. Keas are large parrots that are unremarkable in appearance but are extremely intelligent and full of personality. They are nicknamed clown of the mountains for good reason. They are quite prevalent in the South island and have been known to rip the rubber window seals off cars and steal anything that piques their interest. One particularly brazen fellow even stole a Scottish man's passport! One of the keas we saw that Monday was busily ripping apart a telephone book. Their beaks are formidable.

As we walked on, we saw some smaller, bright green birds flying around freely. They turned out to be kakarikis, the New Zealand parakeet. These fearless birds make good pets and their breeding is encouraged. One of them took a liking to Anne's purse, which you may remember from this post. 

It was determined to examine and tear apart every item in that fascinating cavity, so we eventually had to boot it out.
Whereupon, we were ambushed by several more birds.
John, of course, was happy.

And so was I!

Sneak purse attack!

The weather was not improving, so at length we bid a fond farewell to the kakarikis and headed off down the path... where we had heard there were white rhinoceros babies.

Sure enough, this one was nursing from its mama, right next to the path. Mama felt disrupted as we passed and moved away. Baby (who must surely be a teenager, for goodness sake) became petulant and started whining. Mwree, mwreee, it trilled, in a high, fractious voice. We laughed and wondered how it managed to latch on without goring mama to death. She eventually conceded the point and let baby do its thing again. Turns out baby tilts its head at a strategic moment before fastening on. 
In case you were wondering.

Q: What do you call a baby rhino?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Leapin' lemurs

On the last day I spent with Mum, we took her to Hamilton Zoo. It was a strategically selfish move on my part. Ever since I saw (recently posted) facebook photos of my nephew's family in the lemur enclosure, I had been determined to do the same.
And you know me:
Susan T. Osborne.
"T" for Tenacious.
As luck would have it (and luck was with me on this trip, except for the mosquito bites) the Face 2 Face time with lemurs was on Mondays. The first Monday was during school holidays, so we nixed that as a possibility, as only ten people can partake of the lemurs' charms in one day. The second Monday promised to be torrential downpours, but we decided to risk it.
Now or never.
Do or die.

And it was perfect.
The torrential downpour waited until about three o'clock, when we were done anyway.

So, for a mere $10 a person (admission not included) we spent some quality time with ten ring-tailed lemurs and a ruffed lemur or two.
Hint: lemurs love grapes.
Carrots, not so much.
So if you ever meet one on your travels, you will know how to get on its good side.

Who, me? Oh, I couldn't. Really.
Must. Resist. The grape.
Oh, alright, if you insist! Mm mm mm.

I was in lemur heaven.

We were only allowed to pick up the ruffed lemurs.
Who were, quite frankly, only in it for the grapes.
Ring-tails don't like to be petted, apparently.
Lies, all lies!

Mum got a huge kick out of it. She thought she was going to lose her hat.

John is the only person I know who gets a greater kick out of this sort of thing than I.

It was all very delightful.
Hamilton Zoo is a small but unique zoo, with wonderful habitats for the animals and friendly volunteers who love to share their passion. There are still some marvels to share, but sixteen photos in one post is enough, don't you think?

Monday, May 9, 2011

With fronds like these, who needs anemones?

One of the things I wanted to do while in New Zealand was to hike in the bush with my dear friend and flatmate, Leah, and her husband, Derek. The planets aligned just so and I met them the day I flew into Auckland (Thursday) and on Friday we went for a hike in the Hunua Ranges. 
The weather was a bit iffy but we took jackets and Whittaker's peanut slabs and hoped for the best.

The jackets lasted about ten minutes.

This was mostly what we saw of Derek, as Leah and I did what we do best: yack and walk.

There is nothing quite like the New Zealand bush. 
The way the sun filters through the fronds of the tree ferns.

The way the undergrowth stacks in layers.

The way epiphytes make each tree interesting.
Yes, there is a trunk under all those plants.

The vines, mosses, and parasitic plants that live on the tree ferns and other trees.

I believe this is one of the four reservoirs in the park that supply up to 60% of Auckland's water.

We stopped for a few minutes to rest in the kauri grove. Kauris are mighty trees and one of the largest trees in the world is a kauri tree that grows north of Auckland. Its name is Tane Mahuta, which means Lord of the Forest. Its girth is 45.2 ft, trunk height is 58 ft, total height 168 ft, and the total volume is 18,250 cu.ft.
The ancient Maoris revered the mighty kauris as gods, but unfortunately only about two dozen of the giants survived logging by the early European settlers. Many of the trees that were felled were much bigger than the survivors. 

Leah and Derek.
I love them!

There is nothing in the world like the damp, fertile smell of the New Zealand bush.

Clambering around on the rocks was not my favourite part, but I managed it without mishap.

Leah said the falls were not impressive, so we didn't bother.
The impressive part was the bush track.

We emerged from the bush a few hours later, damp, sweaty, and tired.
It was perfect.