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Monthly Archives: November 2012

This year marks the third year Josh has been in New Zealand over Thanksgiving, and this year, like the past two years, we celebrated it “downunder” style. This year’s Thanksgiving also happened to coincide with my Mum’s birthday, and even though she is in another country right now, Josh and I, and my brother and middle sister liked to think we were celebrating that too.

Because it was just the four of us, we had quite a lot of flexibility with our menu choices. My brother (let’s call him D) brought the pre-dinner snacks, my sister (A) brought apple cider and juice, and I was in charge of roasting a leg of lamb (for the very first time), cooking up some new potatoes and asparagus to go with it, and dessert (a mixed berry pie, also a first for me!).

Ah, how I long for a bigger kitchen. Could be worse I guess.

D is always in charge of making the gravy.

It probably wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without some sort of kitchen disaster. I was preheating the oven while I prepared the lamb, when Josh walked in and asked why the kitchen was filled with smoke. We quickly turned the oven off and let it cool down while we investigated what the issue was. It turns out we aren’t very proactive in cleaning our oven and there was some burnt food at the bottom clogging things up. Oops. It was easily fixed though, and everything got cooked properly, even if it was 45 minutes later than I originally planned.

A mixing the pie filling for me.

Josh victorious after fixing the oven.

While we waited for the lamb to roast, we took a couple group shots out in front of our old shed to send to my mum for her birthday.
We were also able to skype her and Dad for a bit which was nice.

You can’t see it, but we’re all gathered around the laptop here to skype.

And then it was time to eat!

If you’re wondering, all I did with the lamb was rub it with mustard, cut slits in it and stuff those slits all over with garlic and fresh rosemary. I roasted it for 15 mins at 220 C, and then an hour at 170 C. Seemed to work pretty well. Next time I need to figure out how to make the outside crispier because I think I was too impatient this time round.

There’s no photo of the pie because it was ugly (I am bad with pastry) and we ate it too fast. It was delicious (presentation doesn’t matter, right?).

So, that was our Thanksgiving. Have you ever taken a holiday or tradition from another country and incorporated it into your life?

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We spent five weeks in Fresno, California with Josh’s family last Christmas and New Year’s. If you’ve been to Fresno you’ll know that five weeks can be a long time to stay there. I love its “foodie” vibe and it has some fun stuff to do, and it is also great to see family, but I’ve been used to seeing mountains and/or the sea my whole life and at some point I just needed to get out of the city for a bit and see some green.

All that green I was missing.

So when some old friends of ours invited us up to Arcata  for the weekend, we were very ready to borrow Josh’s grandfather’s car and drive the eight hours north. Once on the road, we realised it was the first ever long road trip we had done together with just the two of us. The drive to Arcata went smoothly and 8ish hours later we had watched the landscape darken from brown and barren to green and damp and we could see pine trees in every direction. For me, the landscape was very similar to a New Zealand landscape, so I immediately felt relaxed.

The next day, our friends S and K took us out exploring. Josh, S, and K, are all photographers, so they ran around taking photos while I happily scibbled notes and just enjoyed the scenery. It’s quite handy to have so many photographers around: I never needed to worry about taking my own photos!

Bridge in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove

California was apparently experiencing quite a warm winter. I was hoping to see some snow during my time up north (the furthest north in the world I have ever been) but no such luck on this trip. The forests made up for it though. As we drove by and into some of the many state parks in the region, we spotted elk nestling in hollows by the road.

Elk!

Having never seen elk before, I was very excited by this. Then, we went on to the Prairie Creek State Park and stopped at the High Bluff overlook to see the sea. I was intrigued by the many “Tsunami hazard zone” signs posted everywhere. Giant rocks dotted the beach, split as if by a giant hammer.

Proof we were there, courtesy of friend S.

We also made our way to the Klamath River and the site of the original Douglas Memorial Bridge that was swept away in a flood in 1964. The 8 ton stone bears that mark the entrance of the bridge are all that are left of that original bridge now.

Josh making his acquaintance with one of the bears.

At lunchtime we had a picnic in the shade of the redwoods. Apparently there are three types of redwoods worldwide, and the tallest are the Coast Redwoods which grow in this part of Northern California. They can also live for 2000 years, earning them the name of the “ever living” trees.

Picnicking in the woods.

It was chilly under those trees, and so we ate our cheese and salami sandwiches and headed off in search of some sunshine. After stopping again, S and K took us on a short walk down a side trail to find an abandoned old ute that must have been sitting under the trees for years, slowly drowning in cobwebs and dead leaves. As we reached it the perfect ray of sunlight came through the trees, giving the photographers of the group some great shots.

Photos accomplished, we walked back the way we came, passing by a young redwood whose bark had been torn apart by a bear in search of the sugar sap beneath.

It would take some large claws to rip apart this tree, methinks.

The weekend passed quickly, and then it was time to drive the long way back to Fresno again. But we left happy to have seen our friends and the redwoods. The trip back wasn’t as smooth as the one there (*ahem* food poisioning, and getting completely lost and ending up in the Napa Valley by accident) but even the dust and haze as we reached  Fresno couldn’t spoil all that fresh air and green for us.

What’s the furthest north you have ever travelled?

*Warning: The following post contains a description of a person who has been badly burnt*

A couple days ago I got an email from my parents about a man called Pilianus. Currently my parents are working in a small village in the mountains of West Papua. Glue sniffing is a regular activity for the young men of this area, and this email told the story of one of them who had been badly burnt after one such incident. Pilianus’s entire body is burnt except for his head and he was flown into the village to be with his family and die because there aren’t any medical facilities in the area that can take care of him.

At this moment, Pilianus is lying in a bed of pus and rotting skin. Maggots and gangrene have set in. He is in a lot of pain, though he can think and communicate okay. He knows he will die soon. My parents walk to visit him every day, one hour each way. My father has been praying with him. My mother is a trained nurse but has limited resources. She can only give him panadol at the moment. She has one dose of morphine in her kit, but once that is gone it is gone. She won’t be able to get any more.

I don’t have some grand message to communicate here. I just want to share some of Pilanus’s story because he has been weighing on my mind these last few days. With all the world’s wealth, technologies, advances… a man called Pilianus is still dying in agony on the floor of a Papuan hut. Which is why my parents keeping on doing what they’re doing, year after year. We have so far to go.