Tēnā koutou

Sunday, 12 May 2013


Whanau is the Maori word for family.  This is the reason I have not updated the blog recently as all my time has been joyously spent getting reacquainted with my wife and kids after more than a year apart.  Please be patient and you will soon see some updates.

By the way, I had no idea that dogs hated New Zealanders so much.  No wonder it cost so much to get Destry into the country.

Thursday, 25 April 2013


Anzac (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) Day is the New Zealand and Australian version of America's Memorial Day and Britain's Remembrance Day.  Strongly connected to the defeat of Aussie, Kiwi, and French forces by the Turks at Gallipoli, Anzac Day is a national holiday often commemorated early in the morning by laying a wreath at some notable monument or body of water.

On this particular Anzac Day I took Molly and Oliver to Founders Park where they were having a reenactment of life during World War II.  It was a interesting and quite educational event as I knew very little of this aspect of WWII.  New Zealand Armed Forces were represented as well as American Airborne Infantry, French Resistance Fighters and, of course, Nazi soldiers.  Nothing says holiday like the Gestapo!

Oliver and Molly plan the invasion.

Your papers, please!

A battle . . . 

. . . and the results.

We know nothing!

Quick, to the airplane!

The great escape!

Three fun events in three visits to Nelson's Founders Park!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


The kids arrived today. Elation, joy, relief, hope.

One more to go.

Saturday, 6 April 2013


MarchFest is in April.  Kiwis do not trivial things like actual dates interfere with a good time.

MarchFest is "Nelson's beer flavoured festival--a celebration of music, food, fun, and of course, proper beer."  Fifteen 'new' beers are introduced at MarchFest from all the local breweries. This year's beers included Funky Monkey wheat beer, Love Mussel Mussel Porter (mussels are added to the boil during the production process--seriously), Oceania Pale Ale, Inpacific Pilsner, Scotch on Rye 70 Scottish ale, Dale's ESB, and Rastafarian Stout.

The large beer hall at Founders.

It was!

The music stage.

Pint pulling pros!

My personal favourite beers was Founders Brewery's "Stick That in your Pipe," a smoked ale.  The literature reads that Stick That in Your Pipe is a "beech-smoked malt [that] dominates the aroma and continues its presence through the pallet lingering at the finish like a smouldering camp fire.  A robust dark brown ale perfect for the dying days of summer.  This ale is not shy on flavour so you should have no problem making friends with it."

Another new friend in New Zealand!

Thursday, 4 April 2013


There are many trivial but odd and wondrous peculiarities to moving across the planet.  While I have been putting down stakes in New Zealand, Claire has been back in Indiana holding down the fort and packing our lives into a 40 foot container.  Obviously she had the worst job.  This is a very difficult task and takes months or preparation, which she has done masterfully.

The container is loaded and gets put on a truck.  The truck then drives off with all worldly possessions and more than a few mixed emotions (which I avoided by being here rather than there). Truck takes container to Oakland, California (might be a train trip in there but I'm not sure) where it's put on a ship.  Our ship is the Cape Maas.

The Cape Maas then takes the container to Nelson. Of course, it doesn't go straight to Nelson. This is the part I find peculiar.  Currently, the Cape Maas is in the Port of Honolulu. This means that our dining room table and chairs, couch, dishes, beds, bicycles, computer, and all the other stuff will have been to Hawaii.  But out family has never been to Hawaii. That's peculiar.  Aloha!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013


My previous Springsteen concerts have been religious experiences. Hanging Rock was close to The Rapture. When you can touch the stage, good things are going to happen.

While I was in the line waiting to be admitted I met a young Australian couple, Nikki and Sam.  Nikki is a paediatric nurse and a big Springsteen fan and her boyfriend Sam is a very talented electrician.   It was Nikki's dream to dance with Bruce (like every woman) and Sam had made a sign that lit up and flashed to get The Boss' attention.  Ingenious!

Springsteen is a family affair for these people, and before long Nikki's parents, brothers, sisters, and significant others all showed up.  It turns out they are all very involved with Australian politics and volunteer work etc. with the Labour Party.  Kate, one of the brothers' girlfriend, is running for an MP seat.  We had a great time and talked about my family coming over, life in NZ compared to Australia, American and Australian politics, health care and insects.  Really, really nice people.

Nikki's Mum Carmel, Dad John, and two brothers Luke and Sam--offering more 
VB (Victoria Bitter)--and 16,996 other people.

We had a terrific spot. There were 17,000+ on hand--the biggest crowd at Hanging Rock to date--and we were right in front. Then the man appeared . . . 

 Yes, yes, I was that close...and closer.

Wow . . . OMG . . . Bruce is, as of this writing, 63 years old.  After 32 years of Springsteen concerts he has never been better. There is no letting up, no taking it easy. The energy was just fantastic.

At one point, I held up the "Dance with Nikki" sign while Sam operated the buttons to make it flash.  Bruce saw it and POINTED AT ME (well, at the sign anyway--bit I WAS HOLDING IT!) and motioned to bring him the sign which I did.  He took the sign, held it up and read it, and said "Dance with Nikki?  We'll see, we'll see," and handed the sign back.

Finally, toward the end of the show, they played Dancing in the Dark.  Nikki was up on her brothers shoulders, and Sam and I held up the sign again.  Bruce came down and sure enough pulled Nikki to the stage. 

The E Street Band played close to 4 hours and hit about every album.  They were in fine form and the crowd was jumping.  Jake Clemmons was stellar doing the impossible job of filling the Big Man's shoes. The expanded horn section lends greater depth to the original E Street arrangement, a welcome addition from the Seeger Sessions. Nils Lofgren and Tom Morello were incredible. Watching Bruce and Tom Morello perform The Ghost of Tom Joad was worth the price of admission alone. It was a spectacular evening made all the better for making new friends.

People who know me sometimes scratch their heads concerning my obsession with Springsteen and his music.  For whatever reason, some of his songs cut close, My Father's House in particular. I was in the right place and at the right time. I heard the calling and I've been on the righteous train ever since.  

So here is a taste of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Hanging Rock.  Its a 4 hour concert reduced to less than 3 minutes (and filmed entirely with my iPhone).   


On February 12, 1981, Eugene DeFazio and I drove that dusty road from Fort Walton Beach, Florida to Mobile, Alabama to see our first Bruce Springsteen concert.  Eugene was from Sommerville, NJ and he and I were in the Air Force together stationed at Eglin AFB.  He was a music aficionado and his friendship knew no bounds. Together we covered the deep south, Indiana, New Jersey, and most of Europe. Eugene had an incredible love of music and strong sense of 'doing the right thing.'  There were many times that we didn't talk for months due to busy lives, but when he called or vice versa we picked up like we had just talked yesterday.  

Eugene was taken far too early.  Its easy to let loss make you angry, make you wonder what the point is.  At Hanging Rock, as Bruce took the stage I thought a lot about my 'Little Buddy.'  But there was no reason to be angry or sad. As Eugene's mother Pat knows, he was right there with me.

Friday, 29 March 2013


This blog will be closed for the next few days. I am off to Oz!