Posted by: scribe9 | November 7, 2009

Setting up housekeeping

We move into our more permanent dwelling on Monday, and it’s unfurnished, so we spent most of today rushing around Whangarei (which is, thank goodness in this case, rather small) finding items to make it habitable.

We started the day at 8 at the Anglican Parish Hall, at a garage sale to benefit Habitat for Humanity. There we found a lovely glass tray, suitable for decor when we’re not passing cookies or appetizers on it; a coffee maker; and a rather homely formica-topped coffee table (which we will throw a yard of much-less-homely cloth over) for a grand total of $20–and given the state of the New Zealand dollar versus the greenback, that’s only $15.

We then took time out to visit the local farmers’ market, easily twice the size of Hillsdale’s, and cheaper than the local supermarket. Fresh local apples, oranges, avocados, salad mix, tomatoes, potatoes, and honey–and next week we’ll also buy seedlings, flowers, and herbs.

Then on to the Masonic retirement village (very nice spot) and their garage sale. Not much visible that was worthwhile except a nice Chinese-patterned serving bowl, but I spotted the sign that said “TV $90–ask Pam.” Pam took us to her unit–lovely, but, as she noted, overwhelmed by the 26″ TV, which was only a year old, in fine working condition, and with an unused remote–she’d never put in the battery, because she’d never used it! A woman after my own heart–one who will actually walk a few feet to change channels. The TV is a special “All Blacks” version (The All Blacks are the national rugby team; there ain’t no team more important here) and it came with a second remote that has a bottle opener on one end. I must confess I’m quite happy that rugby season is ending, and cricket is starting–not because I love cricket, but because I could probably get deported if I said what I really thought about rugby.

Then it was back downtown to buy some baskets for end tables, to find out that the Salvation Army store was closed so that we couldn’t get the $10 green bookshelf we want, and to shop the pre-Christmas sale at Farmer’s Trading Company, the big department store. Silverware, kitchenware, and manchester (remember that? sheets and towels) were all on steep discounts, thank goodness.

Home to unload, and then off to the landlord’s storage place to check out the lounge suite (which is usually a sofa and a loveseat–a 3 and a 2, as they say here), a washing machine, a microwave, and a barbecue. The suite was garish and somewhat musty, but we were happy to take the rest. On the way home we stopped to order a a lounge set and a refrigerator–you’ll be delighted to know that in our drive to become Kiwis rapidly, we chose the model most widely sold here–and a dryer (cheap and small–most clothes go out on the line).

Our last stop was a discount store, where we got a cheap patio set but couldn’t bring ourselves to buy the dressers and bookcases, which looked as if they’d last about ten minutes. We’ll keep looking, particularly on TradeMe, the New Zealand version of ebay, where we found a dining set, two bar stools, and a worktable.

We’ve bought basic kitchen equipment, but as Emily was lamenting, we won’t have anything like the fully-equipped kitchen we left behind (in part because there’s a lot of equipment that just isn’t sold here).  We’re getting the essentials, which requires assessing what the essentials are. We’ve obviously gotten accustomed to far more than anyone needs and actually, we’ll still have more–the excess will just be much smaller. When I moved into an apartment my second year of college, I took a small cast-iron skillet, a two-quart saucepan, and a two-quart soufflé dish, and didn’t suffer too much, although I’ve long since forgotten what my roommates supplied.

As I write this, I can hear fireworks–it’s two nights past Guy Fawkes’, and they’re still setting off as many as they did then. Does every nation have a pyrotechnic holiday?



  1. We loved reading your update – shopping at garage sales & the local farmers market (two of my favorite things to do). It’s great fun to hear of your adventures.

    Ric & Jo Ann

  2. The Northern Territory (Australia) had its very own pyrotechnic holiday while we were there. Not such a “hot” idea during the dry season.

  3. Your wry comments make me think you are in the room with me, like when your head is sitting on the chair during the matthew group. I am still amazed by the connection that technology affords us. Quite incredible!
    I remember in NZ in 87, mom and I came across a truck rollover with a scratched up driver wearing only a pair of shorts in the heat. We loaded him in the back seat and took him back to the farm that the hay in the truck had come from. Would we do that here, today? I hope so…….

    • Oh, I think you would.
      Even in town, there are plenty of guys who wear shorts all the time. And shorter than any men in the US would be caught dead wearing these days. Of course, the rugby players wear rather short shorts, and they’re the national idols.

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