Saturday, October 16, 2010


Today, is the feast day of St Teresa de Avila, our patron saint here in Featherston. The church was filled to the brim and everybody was extra chirpy and cheerful greeting each other as they arrived in church for the 9.30 am mass. It was indeed a fiesta atmosphere with everybody joining in the choir, singing during the mass celebration. As every Sunday would go here, children – babies and toddlers – some wriggling from their mum's hold, others holding on tight to their toys, books and even security blankets were delightfully chatty. Of course our parish priest, Father Morrison himself was at his brightest even when his parting words and blessings to parishioners were drowned by a three-month-old baby boy's loud cry. After the mass, everybody proceeded to nearby Kiwi Hall for lunch. We were requested to bring a plate of food to share so there was enough for everybody. I brought a plate of crispy fried lumpia with fish filling and watched how they were snapped soon as I laid the plate on the table. There were performances after lunch. It was a shame I did not bring a proper camera to record the event, so I used David's i-phone which was of course, not as good. A group of little girls in baby pink dresses performed a dance number, students of St Teresa's Catholic school serenaded us with their colorful ukuleles, and four yummy mummies performed a Spanish dance to everybody's enjoyment.

This is the first time such an event was held in our parish, so maybe next year, we would be more prepared, there would be more attendees and it would be a better and more enjoyable fiesta celebration!

The Kindness of Strangers

Last year, David and I decided to spend two weeks of our Christmas break on a holiday exploring parts of the South Island I hadn’t seen before. We drove along state highways, discovered back roads and crossed bridges old and new. Every now and then, we would stop to take photos of anything that took our fancy.

Cruising along State Highway 1 in our black Subaru, we stopped by a paddock between Cheviot and Greta Valley to take photographs of bales of newly-rolled hay lying on verdant hills against a backdrop of grazing flock of sheep. Thinking it would take only a minute or two, David left the car key inside, closed the car doors then crossed the road for the photograph.

A few photos later and we were back to our car, only to find out that we locked outselves out of the car! We were in the middle of nowhere with no houses nor people in sight! And everything that would enable us to get in touch with people who could help us was inside the car!

Frantically, we flagged down the first approaching car for help. In the car were three English tourists touring the South Island for the first time. After telling them our story and the help we needed, they agreed to let us use their cellphone to call AA for assistance.

After what seemed to be an eternity, we were able to get hold of an AA man who assured us that help would be coming in about an hour. We thanked our new friends for their kindness. Hearing that it would take us an hour outside the car waiting for help, they left us a bottle of water saying that we could go thirsty under that searing noonday sun.

It was heartwarming to know that there were people who were just too happy to be of help even to strangers like us. Come to think of it, we may never see them again. It was an awkward situation we found ourselves in, but the kindness of these strangers just made it possible for us to laugh about it.

Bracing ourselves for the long wait, we leaned on the car watching traffic go by. Then we saw a red four-wheel drive made a U turn. In a matter of seconds, it was pulling over beside us. In it was a couple, who introduced themselves to be locals and who sensed that something was not right. “Are you guys, okay?” they inquired "Is there anything we can do for you?" We told them what happened and assured them that help would be coming soon. We thanked them for their concern. Realising that everything was taken cared of, they bade us goodbye and drove off.

You could just imagine how relieved we felt when help arrived after thirty minutes and not one hour! The AA man was able to skillfully insert a special rod through the car window and fish for the car keys inside.

I was completely bowled over by the experience of meeting strangers who were just too willing to respond to other people's call for help without hesitation. Truly, the innate goodness of humans.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Giant egg

What do you do with an egg as big as this one?

Driving through Waitomo Caves Road on our way to the Waitomo Caves to see the glow worms, we chanced upon a place that advertises ostrich eggs. Was it serendipity, I wondered. The previous night, David and I had dinner at the Chateau de Tongariro where David ordered a salad dish with ostrich meat in it for his entree. The meat was sliced paper thin and was served on a nest of greens, and dressed with a dash of vinaigrette. I did not really like the taste, maybe due to its texture which was quite slippery and not meaty at all. David said he could not really tell whether he liked it or not because it only teased his palate due to its thinness. So he decided that next time we find another restaurant that serves ostrich meat, he would try it again.

Anyway, because we were intrigued by the taste and texture of the ostrich meat, we wondered about the eggs! So we stopped by the place which turned out to be a B&B place as well. A bubbly lady by the name Ann Barnes (we presumed she owns the place) answered the door and our inquiry. She asked us whether we wanted the egg empty or whole. "We want to eat it, so we want a whole egg and not an empty shell" David said laughing. She led us inside her house and we were awed to see such huge eggs! Some were sitting on her dining table, and some were on special basket containers on the floor. But some of them were obviously just eggshells because they have a bore at one end of the shell. We later learned that she's also selling empty shells to crafters for 20 dollars each!

A single ostrich egg weighs an average of l.5 kg and is equivalent to 15 regular sized eggs, Ann explained to us. She advised against cooking it by boiling, saying it might not cook inside. "You can use it for omelettes, pies, quiche and any dish that needs eggs," she said, then showed us how to drill a hole into the hard shell to get the egg inside. The egg would keep for a month and could be divided into little containers and frozen for future use. It was such a useful information because it would not be possible for us to consume that big egg all at once.

Armed with that information form a lady who knows a lot about ostrich eggs, we went home with this giant of an egg and did what she told us. After David bore a hole at one end of the shell, I beat it and divided it into five small containers then froze four containers. Tomorow morning, I am planning to make a veggie omelette for breakfast.