The Last Couple Of Weeks In Wellington

I am sitting on one of the nice suede couches in the flat’s lounge in my red racing-stripe yoga pants as I write this, having just snorfed down a big bowl of veggies and couscous with orange sauce and slurped up a delicious cup of tea. My face is mint green with pore-clarifying face-mask (hate you, non-Pill skin) and my stories are on in an hour. I was invited out to dinner tonight and I alllllmost went, it being my policy to accept social invitations when they are proffered, but for some reason I’ve been getting in semi-late the past four nights and I just really wanted to be at home and in my comfy pants, you know? iTunes is giving me a pretty magical Shuffle mix at the moment (Carissa’s Wierd, Lauryn Hill, Viva Voce, Liam Lynch, George Michael, Iron and Wine, one after the other, I couldn’t replicate it if I tried) and my laundry is clicking in the dryer and I am a pretty happy Chiara at the moment. I don’t seem to want to write real entries lately but I am very much in the mood to show you some more crappily-taken pictures of what I’ve been up to for the last couple of weeks in Wellington.

The members of the Popsicle Band

Popsicle Band!

First up we have the Santa Parade. This was a couple of weeks ago, i.e. in the middle of November. You tell me. I couldn’t be bothered taking pictures of Santa because who cares about Santa when there is a Popsicle Band. No one who didn’t go to Epcot three times a year in the eighties and early nineties will care about this, but don’t these guys remind you of that awesome show with all the animatronic food items, and the salsa band who sang “Veggie veggie FRUIT FRUIT veggie FRUIT”? I love the popsicle band.

The iceberg right off Christchurch

In a nod to local news, here’s the iceberg that was right off Christchurch at the time. Also, I love that guy’s wig. And gumboots. And speedo. The whole ensemble, love it.

He's supposed to be a tui

And here we have a lovely Christmas tui.


Things began to get a little rough when a shipful of Vikings rolled up, intent on pillaging a reasonable 30-year adjusted-rate mortgage at the home loan store over there.

Keeping an eye on things

But fortunately the cops showed up.

Scooby at the Santa Parade

And then…Scooby…showed up. At the Santa Parade. Sure, why not.

Jill and Mika

Jill and Mika don’t get it either.

Pumpkin Pie and Pavlova

Okay, enough silliness. Let’s talk about pie instead. (If you prefer cake, we’ll be talking about that at the end of the entry). Here are, in an show of harmonious USA/NZ relations, a pav and a couple of pumpkin pies that we ate at Thanksgiving dinner. Did I tell you how much the Kiwis freaked out when they saw the pumpkin pie? “Pumpkin?” they said, wrinkling their noses. “In a pie?” Lissa, who made these lovely pies, actually had her mom send her cans of pumpkin pie filling from the States. The pavlova was less difficult to explain to the Americans, because even Americans understand that meringue + fruit + cream = yum.

We were supposed to come to Thanksgiving “dressed as Americans,” which is all I’ll say about this picture, other than that the girl who brought it with her told me after I’d put it on that it was from her classroom and that all the kids had head lice. I have several terrible, terrible stories about lice that I promise to share with you one day but for the moment I will just tell you that I haven’t been visited by any little critters. Yet.

Lissa, me, and some mustaches

And not to make this all about me in funny outfits, but here’s another picture taken at that very same house just over the weekend at Lissa’s birthday barbecue, to which I brought as a sort of party gift a “mustache-for-each-day-of-the-week” set I found at one of the Newtown $2 shops. I have decided to bring a mustache-for-each-day-of-the-week set to every party from now on because mustaches are very fun. What’s remarkable about the one I’m wearing ( the Tuesday one, “Hollywood” style) is that it goes really well with my hair and I think it’s a weirdly good look for me. I think it looks very natural. I’ve always said that if I were a guy I would do nothing but grow different types of beards and ‘staches and just play with them all day and all night, styling and cutting them for different looks and occasions. Wouldn’t that be fun?


Here are some people playing cricket near my house, apropos of nothing.


And here’s my friend Traysi, who is the first bellydancer I met in Wellington. She owns a cool store on Cuba Mall and I went along to a swap shop type gig last night and ended up helping her vend.

Bellydance Vending

That book up there that says “Hips” on it is actually just picture of a bunch pictures of naked and semi-naked people; I could tell it was shot at Burning Man before I even opened it up.

Booze And Cake

Okay, so this was my work this morning. It’s ten thirty a.m. and people are drinking champagne and giggling to themselves. The medical school, I guess, was having some sort of cake-baking competition, and people got really really into it. I thought it was all a joke, at first.

House Cake

This was my group’s entry. We’re the housing group, you see, so we put in a cake shaped…follow me closely…like a house. What you can’t see is that the cake/house has realistic-looking insulation and ventilation stuff because we study those things and think they’re important to include in cakes. This astounding fact was lost on the judges, because we were absolutely robbed and we didn’t even get an honorable mention, unlike the following, which, to be fair, were pretty good too:

Skull Cake

Ice Cream Cake

The cakes themselves, though, were not the star attraction of this thing. No. No, the real deal was this anesthesiologist (or “anesthetist” in Kiwi-speak)…who’s apparently like the best guy in the whole country or something…who did this twenty-minute PowerPoint presentation on the history of cake baking—I’m not kidding, here—in New Zealand.

Edmonds' Cookery Book

In addition to being the nation’s best anesthetist, he’s also apparently an authority on the history of New Zealand cookery, and he preceded to give a totally serious lecture on the sociology of baking, with extended discourse on pavlova, lamingtons, and Anzac bickies. People laughed at first, drinking their bubbles, but it became all too clear that it wasn’t a joke. It was like sitting in class and whenever someone started whispering to the person next to them how the whole thing was totally blowing their mind, he’d stop and clear his throat and wait for them to pay attention. He had, like, citations and equations and primary sources and everything. Now, I happen to think that taking hobbies seriously is awesome indeed, but I just about lost it when he presented this graph, which is based on data he compiled by going through his extensive vintage cookbook collection (which, according to the dean of the school, is the biggest in New Zealand) and manually calculating which recipes had the most stains near them. Okay? You feel me?

A very serious dessert graph

I just love it here, you know?


  1. The graph at the end is classic. I’d have been very tempted to challenge him on his findings and question if the stainage had been carbon-dated to certify authenticity… Unless he was bigger than me and would have got upset about it!

    Maybe because he’s an an anesthetist he feels it’s his god given right to put anyone to sleep – using drugs or indeed PowerPoint!

    By the way, Scooby has cool taste in cars – The Mustang looked fabulous!

  2. That graph is awesome. I, too, would have totally lost it at that point.

  3. That is unbelievable. And fantastic. I’m glad you have photographic evidence, too, because really, I might have suspected a leetle hyperbole otherwise. But dude, turns out, you can’t make this stuff up.

  4. GOD, how I love your New Zealand-y entries.

  5. That last photo kills me, but I really liked all of them.

  6. I love the graph but it brings up so many questions. Like, what is the underlying reason for the high incidence of staining on the sweets pages? Is it simply that they are used more often? Is it because one has messy fingers from having dipped into the puddings, fillings, and batters for sampling purposes? Is it becasue children are cooking those items and are messier? Is it because they involve flour and sugar which tend to scatter more? I would really like to know.

  7. I actually know a few of the people photographed in hips. I outted one of them because I recognized her lingerie. Who consequently is the cousin of the journalist shot in mexico.

    I gotta say, awesome cakes.. awesome pies.

  8. Mrs. B, you would have loved our lunchtime conversation this afternoon, when all the statisticians in the crowd (there were two or three) started asking those very questions. One guy said that he’d actually got the anesthetist to give him a copy of the PowerPoint presentation (which I plan to prise off him like a seagull dismembering a green mussel) and that there was some sort of complicated weighting system that was used to reflect the statistical distribution and the p-value and the chi-squared and then I fell into a coma.

    Also. Regarding my place of employment, I feel I should warn you that the topic of our weekly Friday seminar this week is “Who has contributed more to public health, Jamie Oliver or the WHO?” I am organizing a group of like-minded girls to ask questions at question-asking time: “Who is hotter, Jamie Oliver or the WHO?” “Can you speak to the issue of whether you’d rather wake up next to Jamie Oliver and have him make you breakfast or next to the WHO and have it make you breakfast?” “From an intervention perspective, would you rather kiss (with tongue) Jamie Oliver or the WHO?”

    I can’t WAIT until Friday!

  9. I would totally be your beard/mustache buddy if both of us could grow facial hair. It would be AWESOME. Especially my little pencil-thin 1920s code for “I’m a fag” mustache.

  10. That graph is the best thing ever! I’m tempted to collect data on the ABL cookbooks just to see what the results would be … I bet cake is the most popular, followed by soups or maybe more generally, things-we-cook-to-use-up-vegetables

  11. All of this whimsy in one post! Texas-sized hats and staches do go well with cricket. Who’s to say they don’t go as well as pumpkin with pie? You reckon?