Monday, October 12, 2020

A good weekend, despite it all

The past weekend I had another adventure, advanced one small aspect of finishing the house, and had social time, too. It was a good weekend, all things considered, and a welcome diversion.

It’s fair to say that the past six weeks have not been my best (a topic all on its own), so good times have been especially welcome lately, which is what made this past weekend so good. As usual, it started on Friday.

I had some of the family around for dinner on Friday night, and I decided to make beef stew using what my mother called, “THE Family Stew Recipe” when she wrote it out and sent it to me while I was in university. It was the recipe that my mother used to teach my siblings and me to cook, and I’ve made it many times over the years, mostly because I really like it, and also because of the family connection. It was nice to share a bit of my personal heritage from the USA with family here in New Zealand.

However, my mother didn’t write down the dumpling recipe, so I had to find (and adapt) one in a classic American cookbook. I picked the one that sounded the most similar to what my mother made, tweaked it a bit, and the results were perfect.

The next day, my cousin-in-law and I went to the “New Zealand Motorhome, Caravan, & Leisure Show”. She has a motorhome (camper), and because shows always have show specials, it’d be worth checking out because of that alone. The show specials were among the draws for me, along with the fact that the stuff they put in caravans and motorhomes, especially small stoves, fridges, and the like, are often used in small houses and tiny homes, something that fascinates me. It fascinated Nigel, too, but mainly because he was interested in being self-sustaining and, as much as possible, “off-grid” (apart from the Internet, of course).

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to go was because the show is held at an events centre called Mystery Creek, which is just beyond Hamilton. I’d heard about it ever since I came to New Zealand mainly because of an annual event ordinarily known as Field Days, which bills itself as the largest agricultural show in the Southern Hemisphere, and it probably is. The show has stuff for the farming sector, of course, but also those with much smaller land on which they want to grow a bit or maybe farm some animals. Because I saw it on TV every year (except this year, due to Covid-19), I wanted to see Mystery Creek (but not Field Days, really) for myself.

I assumed I might find a thing or two to buy, but wasn’t expecting much, really. We saw a booth for a company that, among other things, sold supplies for the brand of BBQ we both had. I’ve long wanted a pizza stone for the BBQ I have because I love pizza, because a covered BBQ can make a great pizza oven, and have I mentioned that I love pizza? Nigel and I never bought one, though not for any particular reason. However, they are expensive, with the chain retailer distributing the brand charging $79.95. The people at the show were selling it at a markdown from their normal price, and in the end I ended up paying a much more reasonable $44—which was savings enough to pay for both our tickets to the show, plus a coffee, too (though I didn’t buy one).

I was happy with my purchase, and thought that would probably be it. I picked up some tourist brochures for parts of New Zealand I haven’t yet been to, mainly because I’d like to see more of New Zealand, even if overseas tourism becomes possible again (something that’s unlikely to be practical even after it eventually becomes possible).

And then. We were going through the last pavilion, and there was a booth for Vegepod (I have not been compensated in any way to mention them by name; it'd be too confusing not to), which is a line of raised garden beds. Naturally, they had show specials, some 20% off, as I recall, but the the thing that pushed me over the line to buy is that they were offering free delivery, which is important to me because it wouldn’t fit into my car. So, saving a delivery fee and getting a good price was enough for me, and I bought the medium sized one (1 metre by 1 metre) on a trolley (rather than the cheaper stand, so I can move it if I want to, and because it makes it a few centimetres higher).

I’d been looking into raised garden beds (enough, apparently, that I constantly get ads for them on Facebook…), but could never find one that seemed quite right. I wanted it to be high enough to sit on so that I wouldn’t have to bend over (a concession to my ageing back), but that meant it had to be strong, probably made of wood. That, in turn, meant it needed to made of macrocarpa, a wood naturally resistant to rot (because treated timber can leach chemicals into the soil, and so, into any food grown in the planter boxes). Such a timber garden bed would have cost around $600-$700. The raised planter and trolley I bought costs considerably less.

I’d been intrigued by these raised planters since I first heard about them, and even priced them a few months ago at one of the more expensive garden centres, where the price was quite high. I then basically forgot about them—but I never completely. The main thing that intrigued me, apart from how well they handle water, is that it’s basically at waist height—no bending of any kind will be required. My back will thank me. It will be delivered later this week.

My cousin-in-law and I (joined by some other family members) are going to a home show here in Hamilton a few weeks from now, and there I hope to get some show specials on things I want to do to the house. I expect that will lead to several blog posts.

We made one small mistake going to the show: We didn’t buy tickets online ahead of time. The photo up top is of the queue waiting to buy tickets. At one point a staff person walked along the queue telling people they could still buy online and skip the queue. An older (than me…) man told her it was too hard for him, and she replied, “I have faith in you!” which I thought was a brilliant way to head off him asking her to help him, something that’s always a fraught experience.

My cousin-in-law pulled out her phone, bought us tickets, and then just had to show the QR code to the ticket taker at the entrance. Nothing about it was clear or easy, to be honest, but it worked, and that’s the main thing.

The next day I picked up Nigel’s mum and we went to my brother- and sister-in-law’s house to join them for dinner and a bit of rugby on TV (Nigel’s mum and I got there during the halfway point; neither of us cared all that much about seeing the game).

There was nothing particularly unusual about what I got up to this weekend—all of it was the kind of stuff I’ve done before and will do again. This weekend’s adventure advanced one small aspect of finishing the house, and I had social time, too, all of which made it a good weekend. Because of everything else, it was an especially welcome diversion. I’ll take it—and do it again.


Roger Owen Green said...

I talked with my sisters yesterday. We talked about "retail therapy". True. I've bought a blood pressure monitor, thermometer, masks, but also batteries for the lawnmower, a phone I can't operate, and books and music.

Arthur Schenck said...

Retail therapy is a good thing, I think, but I don't think I get it right because I can't seem to buy anything I don't actually need. I'm a badly trained consumer.