March was a pretty rockin’ month. It was at the beginning of March that I had my first jam session with some friendly, ukulele-playing ladies. And not having anything but the $30 uke that I bought for the kids, I brought that. Of course, upon arrival, I saw amp-ready ukes, beautiful polished wooden ukes, ukes with built-in tuners, and that’s when I realized that I’d brought a child’s toy to a jam session. But the ladies were very nice and we had a good time! After that, I rushed off to meet the family at the fishing club who was hosting a blues concert.
The headlining band was this shortest-of-short-skirt-and-highest-of-high-heel-wearing duo (normally a trio of ladies, not including the dude on the drums) called Girls with Guitars, two of whom hail all the way from Kansas City, MO. They consist of three popular solo blues artists who tour the world together as Girls with Guitars. Their band name doesn’t even hint at that their badassedness and downright killer blues skills. (There are some videos at the link, sadly audience-member submitted (i.e. poor quality), but you can get an idea of their sound.) They brought the house down and Thora and I particularly appreciated how good they were. Also, Thora had a lot of questions about their skirts and their underwear and their high heels.
The very next day, I went out and bought myself a real uke, one that holds tune for more than a few hours, and one that sounds a whole lot richer. And I called one of the ladies I’d met the day before at the uke jam, who also teaches uke lessons and asked her if she’d take me on. So the month of March saw a reintroduction of music scholarship in our house.
And with a uke just for me, I could stop “borrowing” the kids’ uke, and we could have Pocock Family Jam Sessions, like this one:
I’ve talked about the Gisborne Toy Library before and it bears mentioning again. Long Live the Toy Library! I swear, EVERY TOWN should have one. There is nothing better than having a resource where, for a registration fee and then very small per-item fees, you can borrow toys that are age-appropriate and ones that your kids really want to play with, like right now, and that you can give back when the toys lose their novelty, rather than investing in stuff that just accumulates in your house and then either has to find a new home or ends up in a landfill. This fits the bill for me economically and environmentally! In March, we returned the sand toys and outdoor stuff, thinking that fall was coming. Little did we know. And we focused on the dress-up clothes! Like really focused on them. Here’s a little 4-act play in 5 photos that shows the ridiculous joy that the kids experienced upon wearing their new dragon and little red riding hood capes while holding a tea set accessory. I think this joy cost me $4 for two weeks.
Act I: Joyful Running!
Act II: Joyful Skipping in a Big Circle While Raising the Tea Set Skyward.
Act III: Joyful Rehydration!
Act IV: Serious, and Yet, Joyful Tea Party Picnicking.
Speaking of dress-up clothes, Auric really likes to match an accessory to the activity. If he’s reading about a crane truck, he likes to stop right there, on the crane truck page, go rifle through his vehicle box until he finds his crane truck, and then bring it back to the book and show his crane truck the illustrated crane truck on the page. Or if he’s watching an episode of Thomas the Train, he bolts out of front lounge, and races back with his Thomas train, to show his toy Thomas what he’s watching on TV. He will do sudden costume changes to get into the spirit of any activity. This happened after I bought him his first Spiderman comic book.
Here the kids play School. Usually Thora is the teacher and Auric the student. But today they wanted me to be the teacher. The lesson: Princesses. (You can see the teaching materials I was provided.) Below, the kids are showing their proper listening posture that they’ve learned from circle time at their schools. No joke.
Here is a little distraction by Zorro, our foster cat. (He came with our rental house.)
Since princess stories often involve dragons, it only makes sense that Auric would need this accessory.
I love how Auric always double-checks with his big sister, a trusted authority on pretty much everything, to make sure he’s doing this correctly.
It was during March that we began construction on Pocopolis. Nothing screams potential to me like a big piece of cardboard! (I’ve made two pieces of functional furniture for my kids out of salvaged cardboard.)
Thora has continued with weekly lessons with Brenda, the natural horsemanship trainer, and Chit Chat, the horse.
On this particular day, Auric got a quick ride too!
Alternatively, this is the sort of thing that might happen during Thora’s lesson.
In March, the Gisborne Bridge Club began beginner lessons at the club and they wanted to drum up new members. They put notices in the paper, advertising the lesson series. And to our complete surprise, the paper decided to run an article about Sean and I, and how our fondness for the game allowed us to make new friends right after moving to Gisborne by playing bridge at the club. A journalist came to our house with a photographer. They snapped some photos, and talked with us for a few minutes. A few days later, this appeared! We were floored. We were like celebrities in this town for a few days!
As the weather cooled down at night, Thora had the occasion to draw this uncanny illustration of BaBa, her Grandpa Bob.
Both kids continue with swimming lessons. Their swim school, Comet, did an underwater photo contest. Can you believe this boy didn’t win?!?
While we had chillier nights in March and the occasional cold and dreary day, we had an equal number of brilliantly warm and sunny days. It felt like we’ve been living an Endless Summer without any of the traveling! It was a beautiful thing. We celebrated our fortuitous outdoor space, like this pretty sunset through the lush foliage in our back yard…
And I was encouraged to spend some mornings like this:
March saw the end of the tomato season. But before the cold nighttime weather shriveled up the plants, I got pretty good at skinning and seeding the tomatoes and then turning them into yummy pasta sauce. I had a pot of boiling water and a bowl of ice water for skinning; I had compost bowls for the skins and seeds; and I had a paste made of processed carrot, red pepper, onion and garlic as a base for the sauce. Plus a glass of wine for my own hydration; it’s demanding work!
Sean is the black dot of a surfer just left of middle.
I can’t believe I didn’t lead with this! Auric was married in March. Some people might say they’re too young, but I don’t know. I think these kids are going to make it.
One Saturday, with nothing better to do, we chased the waves up to Tologa Bay. Just the weekend before, the surf conditions in Gizzy had been all around yucky. But we’d heard from some friends that the waves at Tologa Bay had been clean and shapely, and the water glassy. So here we were, looking at another weekend of less-than-favorable surf conditions and decided to try Tologa. Sadly, the conditions were the same as Gizzy: windy, choppy water, and dumpy waves.
Having driven almost an hour up the coast, we both gave surfing a go regardless of the conditions. We took turns hanging out with the kids on the beach, building huts with driftwood, while the other tried their best to surf what they could, mostly white water. But this day gave us our first opportunity to take in the historic Tologa Bay Wharf, the longest in New Zealand at 600 meters long.
It was windy!
Thankfully the wind didn’t disrupt my hairstyle, a look that I think looks really good on me.
On another Saturday in March we decided to go for a bushwalk in Anaura Bay, about 20 minutes passed Tologa Bay. The day was dreary and seemed as if it would make the third dreary day in our third visit to the “normally” “beautiful” Anaura Bay. We’ve done this walk before. It’s a fun and yet challenging 2+ hour hike. There is a stream that you cross no less than 300 times, and lots of fallen logs to traverse. And given the beautiful rainforest-like tree canopy, we stayed dry despite the drizzle. There are lots of mesmerizing visions along the Anaura Bay walk: the tightly coiled and unfurling branches of ferns, the serene palm trees, and below, this pattern on this long tree branch? tree trunk? It wasn’t a snake or any other animal, I can assure you. That’s one nice thing about living in New Zealand: there’s nothing here that will kill you! Australia got all that good stuff.
And I was courted by this flirty fantail, a small bird the size of a wren, but with a fanned-out tail. They dart around in the air, flying in tight circles, as they catch bugs. This one really wanted his picture taken.
Also, he wanted a short video taken, so I obliged.
Miraculously, as we crested the tallest hill and came out of the forest, we were met with blue skies and a bright, hot sun. Finally, the famed Anaura Bay beauty.
I’m not exactly sure what we’re doing here. Perhaps Claws of Triumph?
Thankfully, once you’ve made it to the lookout, you’re 75% done. And so after a brisk walk down to the bottom of a succession of hills, and to the car, we quickly changed into our togs and the kids and I had a well-earned and refreshing dip in the sea. Sean thought the cool breeze and getting his feet wet was refreshing enough, I guess.
And lastly, Thora’s summer nipper program (junior surf lifesaving) came to an end. There was a potluck reception, some playing on the beach and in the water, and an awards ceremony. Here is Thora and her fellow nippers with Anna, their under-7 instructor. Until next summer…
And that concludes my recap of March. Stay tuned for the Epic Easter post, followed by the April highlights, which include visits with not one, but two sets of friends from the states, and not one but two weekends in Wellington! Until then…