Monday, February 14, 2011

Sheep Mustering + Field Hockey = A lot of running!

Happy Valentine's Day from New Zealand! I need to find myself some chocolate... the stuff I have is stale. (It's two months old, and yes, anyone who knows me knows I can cart around chocolate literally for weeks without finishing it all.)

Today was my last day WWOOFing for Glen; and as I said in yesterday's post, I'm not terribly sad to have left his place. He's nice and everything, but I simply wasn't comfortable there, or feeling like I was particularly welcome; I felt like he is a secretive, private man who really could have used some one-on-one time with his girlfriend instead of dealing with a Canadian WWOOFer who understood perfectly well every private conversation he tried to have with his barely-speaking-English Taiwanese girlfriend.

This morning I packed up all of my stuff, and after breakfast we loaded it and ourselves into Glen's car and bounced off down the road to his neighbour Cliff's house to help with some sheep shearing. Well, at least we thought that was what we were going to do; when we got there, the man who was to do the shearing had forgotten his shears(!) and had to turn around and go home to get them; as he left, he told us not to bother sticking around, as he was sure he could handle shearing three sheep on his own. I was rather disappointed; I was looking forward to seeing a real live New Zealand sheep shearing.

As it turned out, my encounters with sheep for the day weren't over; when we went up to Cliff's house to tell him what was going on, he ended up needing Glen to help him collect and sort another two groups of sheep, so I ended up running up and down a few paddocks again with a stick, mustering sheep. Because I was wearing my hiking boots, and because it rained last night and this morning, I was the only one (besides Glen) who was wearing appropriate footwear to go tromping around in the paddocks; as such, he and I did all the running, while Kiko and Ivy stood off to the side. I didn't mind; I actually enjoy mustering sheep (save for the big rams, who are very intimidating when they charge at you!).

Sheep mustered and sorted, we were finally free to start heading into Christchurch. Glen decided to let Ivy drive, a decision that had me sitting on my hands in fear, as after five minutes with her behind the wheel I could tell she obviously has very little experience driving. The worst part was her inability to understand Glen's directions; he would tell her to do something (like change lanes, or merge, or pull out into traffic), and she would respond with a blank stare, getting us into several dangerous situations. She also hadn't mastered the concept of the smooth braked stop; more than a few times we were thrown against our seatbelts (and in my case, the seatbelt wouldn't adjust properly and was too big, so I was thrown about two feet forward). Thankfully, I'm all in one piece;  I just hope the three of them made it back to Little River okay as well!

We ran a few errands in Christchurch; we met up with a man Glen had sold a piece of decorative glass to, we bought petrol (you can still potentially "dine and dash" here, unlike in BC), and stopped by to visit Glen's mother and pick up two prints (she's an amateur artist). She is very nice, but also a quintessential crazy cat lady; she is part of the Cats Protection League of Canterbury, and has eleven cats herself. Hopefully this was not a glimpse into my future!

Around 1:40pm I was finally dropped off downtown just off Manchester St., and Glen gave me directions for finding the metro bus exchange; with all the one-ways and road closures due to demolition and earthquake repairs, it made more sense to let me off a few blocks away (and after witnessing Ivy's driving, I didn't mind, either). I made my way through Cathedral Square and found the stop I was looking for fairly easily: D2, which services route #28, Lyttelton and Rapaki. A twenty minute bus ride later, and I found myself turning down Flavell St, looking for the home of my next WWOOFing host, Penelope.

About five minutes after arriving here I knew this was going to be a much better fit than my last WWOOFing experience; Penelope welcomed me warmly, told me to consider myself "one of the family", and showed me to my room (I have my own room again!). Their house is quite old, and as such has the high ceilings found in many older period buildings; the extra space has been put to good use in my room, as I have a loft bed about eight feet up in the air! It's going to be great fun.

This afternoon I picked beans (MORE beans!) and stinging nettle for a late lunch (Penelope showed me how to pick them and strip the leaves; the leaves can be boiled and eaten, much like spinach), and we had a meal of pasta, tuna, and garden salad. She introduced me to her son, Ilya (Illie as a nickname; apparently Ilya is the Slavic from of Elijah, but all I can think of is the French phrase Il y a... Il y a une souris en dessous la table!

In the late afternoon Penlope's middle son, Malcolm, came home; he's a Ph. D student at the University of Canterbury, studying mechanics and electronics; apparently right now he's working on a rocket project to help deliver payloads from satellites in orbit, so I might be able to go see a rocket test launch on Wednesday! He invited me out to come play field hockey on his University of Canterbury intramural team this evening; what with it being Valentine's Day, they were having a little trouble getting people to play. I had a blast; it's been over five years since I last played a game, but after a few minutes I picked it all back up again. I was a little more hesitant than I would normally have been (owing to the fact that I wasn't wearing a mouthguard or shinguards), but as it was friendly competition on nice new turf (recently repaired after the earthquake) there was a rule of "no hitting" the ball; we had to mostly push pass, so the shots weren't as dangerous as they could have been. For the last game around 9pm I was the only girl on the field! There was a lot of testosterone out there to wade through, but I did my best, and even managed to successfully block and steal a few plays from my checks.

Now it is past 12:30am, and I really need to get to bed; I'm going to be working hard in the garden tomorrow, and the earthquake inspection people are coming to check out the house tomorrow morning; the earthquake was in September, and they're just now getting around to checking out Penelope's house! Goodnight.


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