Posted by: scribe9 | September 19, 2010

Ticking the kiwi and train boxes

No, these aren’t related to kicking the bucket. “Ticking the box” is a New Zealand expression meaning “meeting the requirement.” Many a real estate ad claims that the house in question “ticks all the boxes” of desirable location and amenities. After one has read more than a few of them, one may become ticked off, in the American sense, at the lack of originality. “Ticked off” also means that emotional state to Kiwis, but it’s more frequently used to describe criticism, as when someone “ticks off” someone else for, say, bad behavior.

We figured that sometime during our year here, we ought to see a real live kiwi. We tried; we live within walking distance of one. But we didn’t see it until this afternoon, when we’d gone to the park where it lives to ride the miniature train before we left. So we ticked both those boxes.

There are a couple of miniature and one full-sized train at the park. One of the miniatures has a Santa Fe engine that looks like a diesel, but we rode the other, pulled by a little old-fashioned coal-burning engine made in Paterson, NJ. The engineer told us that in the early days, New Zealand bought all its engines from the US, before developing locomotive works of its own. And probably most of the US engines it imported were built in Paterson, too.

We’d only thought to ride the train today because a man at my church mentioned that this would be our last chance; they run just once a month. He’s the president of the train hobby group that maintains the trains and rails at the park. The city of Portland owns three historic locomotives and the local zoo has a couple of miniature trains, all run and maintained by volunteers, so I’ll return from one train town to another.

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