Monday, October 28, 2013

I just keep getting cooler...

I hesitate to make this announcement so close to my recent 'cat guy' post, but I'm proud to announce that I am the newest member of the Otautau Squash Club!  One of the patients I saw this weekend tipped me off to the squash club, which meets on Monday and Thursday nights. Tonight was the first meeting for the summer league, and she said it was a great social event. I decided I wanted to get out and meet people outside of the office, so I  headed over there this evening, and it was an awesome decision. 
  I showed up feeling a little out of place, of course, but I was immediately included in conversations which led to more introductions and so on. I did know one of the guys (Michael, from the stag hunting picture in one of the first blog posts), so I hung out with him for a while. The matches were set for the night, so I wasn't expecting to get to play (and I've never played before). But then the president came up and asked if I would 'like to have a hit' - meaning would I like to play a match. I said yes, of course, and he said, 'ok, you're playing Michael'. So that was pretty comfortable at least. Maybe I was too comfortable, though, because he stomped me. I think it was about 45-20..... yikes.  I didn't embarrass myself, though. I had a lot of people tell me they thought I did great 'for my first time'. I then told them that it is quite a bit like racquetball, which I played a little bit during medical school. The biggest problem is that the squash racquet is quite a bit more narrow than a racquetball racquet, so I missed the ball a lot.... so maybe I did embarrass myself just a little bit. But I had a lot of people cheering for me. And Micheal was a good sport.
  Overall, it was a huge success. I talked with a lot of new people, and I had a great time. I'll be going back. And they said if they ever need more fill-ins, then they'll put me in! There's free-play afterwards anyway, so I could always just show up towards the end and have unofficial play with people there after the official matches for the night.

To catch you up on the rest of my weekend (because I know you are just sooooo curious about what I did for the rest of the day)... I skyped with Erin Fisk this morning, and talked about having her come do a rotation down here, which is pretty exciting.  Then I went and helped the neighbor paint a room in their house. In return, he took me kayaking on the local river. It is currently flooded. Apparently it is otherwise too boring to bother kayaking on, but it was a good intro to river kayaking (a lot different than the lakes I'm used to at home in my big kayak).  We were on these little tiny short kayaks, and had to wear wetsuits because it was really cold here this weekend.  
   I only tipped over twice. I consider that a victory.  Once right at the very beginning, and again literally 25 yards from our stopping point. The water was freezing. I almost tipped in the middle, but it was really shallow, so I just stuck my arm down and tipped myself back upright. Those little kayaks were tricky... I"ll get better.
  Anyway, it's back to work tomorrow.   (It was Labor Day here today, by the way, so I had today off).  I"m probably going to be very sore due to my paddling, squash, and random ab workout I did Sunday out of boredom when I was feeling like I was on house arrest on call. That's ok. It will be a little reminded of some of the fun I had over the weekend.  Now I have to start planning next weekend!

This is the Aparima River. This photo was taken when it was not flooded. It was much more mighty today when it flipped me out of my kayak...twice.    Trust me : )

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Kayaks, Kakas, and Khakis, Oh My! A Stewart Island Sampler

A couple of weekends ago, we went down to Stewart Island. It is a remote island off the southern coast of NZ. Rebecca and I went Friday. Aaron came down Saturday morning. I headed out Sunday, and the Whitings came back Monday. The weather cooperated at first, so Rebecca and I snuck in some kayaking first-thing. After that, we all had to brave the rain and cold to check out all the island had to offer, which is primarily coastline, forest, and birds.

1. Kayaks!  We kayaked all over Horseshoe Bay. It was cold, but still fun.
Nice outfit, huh? boardshorts and boots plus a rainjacket and stocking cap... ya gotta do what ya gotta do sometimes.

 Rebecca was much more put-together.                               Nice view!

2. Kakas!  These awesome birds will likely get their own post sooner or later. They are apparently somewhat rare, but at the house we rented for the weekend, they will basically knock on your door and beg for you to come out and play (feed them peanuts).

      Hello!?!?  Anyone Home?  We're Hungry!!!!

They warmed up to us after the first day, and would hop over on our arms to have a snack

The first night we were there, I put food on my shoulder and put my hand on the railing, trying to get it to walk up my arm to eat. I thought I'd make a little bridge to trick it into sitting on my arm. It bit me HARD out of frustration. But all it needed was time. It just hopped over onto my arm the next day.

Eating out of the palm of her hand......

3. Khakis!  This one is kind of a trick. My second choice for Item number 3 was 'Kiwi', but we didn't actually see one while on Stewart Island, unfortunately.(so I didn't have a photo to go along with it).  Stewart Island is a popular place to view Kiwi in the wild, but it just didn't happen for us. Maybe another time. So to round out our post, I'll leave you with this photo, in which I am wearing khakis. The more important part of this photo is the demonstration that if you scratch the ground in the forest on Stewart Island, you will attract the little robins. I guess they appreciate the help with the heavy excavating. They'll come right up to you to see if you have uncovered an easy meal for them.

Uh Oh

  I'm on call this weekend, so sticking pretty close to home for a change. the call itself has been alright so far. One 430am wake-up call that I had to head across town to someone's house for, but other than that, just a few ordinary phone calls and a couple clinic visits. The nicest thing has been visiting with some of the locals. Since I usually head out of town every weekend on an adventure, I don't end up spending that much free time in Otautau. Knowing I'd be here this weekend on call, one of my colleagues (the clinic manager and her husband - my hunting liason) came by for a visit yesterday afternoon, and one of our clinic nurses invited me over for supper last night to watch the ITM rugby finals with her and her husband.
  Aaron and Rebecca have headed off to Doubtful Sound for an overnight cruise in the Fiordlands. Get ready for some amazing pictures from their weekend. That place is reported to be one of the most amazing places on the planet. no joke.  So while they're away, I'm just getting little projects done, intricately planning my travel itinerary, and entertaining the neighbor cat.... which leads me to the reason the title of this entry is 'uh oh'...
  I'm afraid to announce that I'm becoming a crazy Cat guy... and I don't even technically have a cat. the neighbor cat, Keo, is my adopted cat. He wanders back and forth between their house and mine, letting himself in anytime he wants. I'll hear something hit my door, then I'll hear a 'meow', and he'll come walking into my living room from the hallway. Any time the neighbors leave, he camps out at my place.  I've been hanging out with Keo all day, and he's getting pretty comfortable around here.  and I've realized that I am now one of those people who take pictures of their cat for the world to see.... please don't judge me. Hopefully it's just a phase...

 Snuggling on this cold rainy day. We had a really cold snap again and weather has been pretty terrible this weekend.

 How could anyone resist this?

I thought he had left while I was doing some chores, then I walked in and saw this... The chickens are decoration only. the elderly lady that lived here before me put them by the fireplace, and I thought they needed to stay on display.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rocks, Rocks, Riverton Rocks

Just a few more pictures of our day at Riverton rocks to add to Cole's.  It was a great day!

Beautiful blue sky in the little cove, lots of good climbing rocks.

The waves would crash against the rocks and form lots of little pools.  
Tiny ecosystems, life everywhere....

The beach wasn't really sand, just a billion tiny smooth rocks.

Cole thought it was too dirty, so he decided to sweep the beach with some kelp the washed up.
The kelp likes to grow along the rocks.

Rebecca's choices, smooth rocks in every color.

Paua (abalone) shells are common here.  They are used to make lots of local artwork and jewelry.
This one was washed up alone on the stones.

I chose rocks that could double as jelly beans...

Another view of the "back beach" a short walk away.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Riverton Rocks!

Riverton is a town about 20 minutes from Otautau, and it is right along the coast. Some of you may remember some of our earliest pictures involving the slide and big whale sculpture in a seaside park. That's Riverton.... so clearly Riverton does, in fact, rock.  But THE Riverton Rocks area is a little spot, just a few more minutes down the coast that has a very rocky shoreline, and there are pebbles and rocks of every shape and size along the shore.  it's a beautiful spot. I often go there on Tuesday afternoons after I finish work. I have nursing home rounds on Tuesday afternoons (which is actually a highlight of my week!) and then I go find some kind of snack and head to the coast. When the weather warms up, I plan on making that a nice little running area (nice trail along the coast) or maybe taking a quick (very quick- the water is freezing) dip in the ocean after work. and while I'm on the topic of goals for after-nursing home rounds evenings, I found a little chinese place that makes white-bait egg foo  young. White-bait is a tiny fish about the size of a minnow that people here fish for constantly and seem to love, but it is eaten whole and looks disgusting. I may or may not have the guts to try it, at least in chinese food form. I think scramblng them with eggs is a more manstream method of eaing them... we'll see. anyway, I'm off topic.... back to the Rocks:   But for now, any of our visits to the coast involve coats and stocking caps.  A couple of weekends ago, Aaron and I were on call together, and we took a field trip with Rebecca to Riverton to get away from home, while staying within our allowed perimeter while on call. Here are some pics from that day.

Riverton Rocks.

Watching for rogue splashes. these rocks are a lot of fun to climb around on, but it can get a little wet if  you're not careful.

A little cove at the end of the peninsula.  The land across the sea is Stewart Island.
 We actually went there a couple weeks after this picture was taken.
Stay tuned for an update from our many adventures there. It's a neat place - very remote.

We spent a lot of time rock-collecting. Rebecca chose perfectly spherical rocks. I chose perfectly egg-shaped rocks. Aaron chose 'jelly beans' rocks.

Isn't this a nice place?

This is the view before popping over the hill and heading over the peninsula tip to Back Beach.

Back Beach. It's really pretty there. You have to walk through someone's field to get back here, but it's worth it. This is as far as we got before duty called, and the pager went off and we had to head back to Otautau to save a life... or examine a baby who had been placed on a trampoline by its siblings, and then fell off of the trampoline, and was fine.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Coastline and the Arboretum

After we came back from our first trip to the Fiordlands, we moved down the coast.  It was still pretty rainy and the wind maid for a choppy ocean, but that made for some great pictures...

Ocean view from McCracken's Rest west of Riverton.

Same spot, other direction...

It turns out there is a small arboretum just outside of Otautau.  Its a great place to go when on call or a little to rainy for a bigger adventure.  It's quiet, and has a huge variety of trees and flowers.

Large patches of trees were planted in perfect rows...

Branches of the Araucaria araucana or "Monkey Puzzle" tree in the foreground
looking into a small clearing.

It spring here remember! Trees are budding...

Outside of the boundary of the arboretum lots of sheep trying to eat on not so much grass.

No leaves on these trees yet.  Does this remind anyone else of retina? :)

In honor of Mr. Pahl and Maestra's doorway to Narnia.

Daisies are everywhere

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Skiing Queenstown

The weekend adventures seem to be coming faster than I can keep up with them, so I figured I'd post a throwback from a couple of weekends ago when we went skiing up in Queenstown. Qtown is a great little city nestled in the mountains by a huge lake. Ski slopes are 3 minutes from the city center. There are a lot of shops, restaurants, and touristy things in the town, but it doesn't feel overly touristy. If anyone ever goes there, your first stop should be at this chocolate shop called Patagonia. We went twice. After that, do anything else you want - like go skiing or feed the ducks on the lake. There were a lot of boats going on various tours around there too. Something for everyone!

Rebecca lookin like a pro!
Aaron was clearly having a great time!

The Remarkables Ski Area.

The top of the resort.

The View from the Top!

Apres ski attire on the drive down the mountain. Pretty awesome view!

We were lucky enough to be driving down the mountain during the Golden Hour. Amazing!  Also, planes flying into and out of Queenstown fly right through this valley. While we were standing here, a plane came down, and were were way above it as it came in for a landing. Pretty cool to see. Even cooler when another plane was right above our car on the road down in Queenstown. They are not very high over the road there. It was a little scary. 

Lake Wakatipu at Queenstown.

In case you were questioning my opinion on how cool Queenstown is, I offer you this sheep statue. Case closed.

There are a lot of ducks in New Zealand. Qtown is no exception.

And this is Patagonia - the chocolate place. We went there twice. I got Mexican Hot Chocolate, regular hot chocolate, and 4 different flavors of icecream in my two stops there.  Man, this was good. I'll be going back for sure. Heads up: I asked about the lavender hot chocolate on the menu and the waitress (who kinda reminded me of the singer Adele) said "Don't do it. It's like eating a piece of chocolate then licking your grandma's face". I thought that was worth passing along. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It Comes in Waves

Well, I'm sure everyone has noticed that things just seem to happen in groups, or your days will just have a set theme, and you'll see a lot of the same thing again and again, or the same thing will happen to you several times in a row, then not again for a long time. You know what I mean.
   There are a few things that have become a trend for me this week, and I figured I would share it with you.

The first one is probably the least exciting, but it makes my list a nice set of three things, so I'm including it. It is Urinary Tract Infections!!!  Not for me personally, but it was a big theme this week at the nursing home. Way more of an issue than usual.  So that was trend number one for the week.

Number two has to go to Hand Injuries!  Luckily not for me again. But today I saw two patients with hand injuries. (Kind of a fluke given that I had a very slow day in clinic). the first one was a guy who had an accident with a circular saw.  Any accident with a saw is ugly, and this was no exception. After gently teasing through the hamburger he had in place of the base of his left index finger, I decided that the cut was deep enough and close enough to the joint space, tendons, bone, etc that he should go on to the ER (which they call A&E here - Acute and Emergent, I think) for imaging and likely a plastic surgeon/hand surgeon. Turns out, as I was driving away from clinic, I saw (no pun intended) him pull up to the clinic, so I swung around the block to talk to him and he said they just stitched him up in the ER, no Xray, no surgeon.... ok!  bold move.  
   The second hand injury was actually afterhours. I'm on call tonight.  As I was driving home from Schnitzel Night at the local pub (I couldn't make that up), I got a call saying a boy got a fishing hook stuck in his thumb. so I met him and his dad at the clinic to get that out of there for him.  He let me take a picture, but I forgot to do it before hand, so he suggested I take one of him holding it anyway.  Hopefully that's it for hand injuries.

Just Minutes before this picture was taken, he could hold that lure using only his thumb.

And Theme Number Three is this:

 Broken Garage Window. Remember how I posted a picture just 4 days ago of the window I fixed in the garage???  Well, Surprise Surprise! A pigeon flew into it today sometime, and shattered my shiny new window into a million pieces all over the garage. Not the window next to it, no sir. the Exact same one in  a line of four windows. My neighbor, Don, came home this evening and came into my place and said "wanna see something depressing?" As he walked me to the garage, I started to suspicion that it was my window, but I didn't want to believe it.  He opened the door to confirm my fears.  Not pictured is the dead pigeon outside of the garage. We might go with a frosted glass window next. Maybe we can hammer out the details of the replacement window on our roadtrip up to Christchurch we are going on this weekend. His parents live up there and he's going to help them with some chores and invited me to ride along (aaron is on call this weekend) so I can see Christchurch. I"ll probably help with the chore projects some and explore Christchurch a little bit. the kicker is that it is at least a 7-hour drive each way. So I'll get to see a lot of territory. Should be a good time.