Saturday, July 17, 2004

Last night for some reason I started thinking about our house in Christchurch, New Zealand. I can still bring back that feeling. The smell, the muffled traffic sounds, the close family feeling.

We lived in University of Canterbury housing. It was on busy Creyke Road. The house was protected from the street by a large, high hedge. It may have been 8 to 10 feet high. This kept the street noise to comfortable levels in most of the house. However, the master bedroom jutted out toward the street and at night motorcycles would speed down the road making a lot of noise for George Rodney and I. We grew used to it.

In back was a garage with an apartment above. A couple from Japan lived there. We visited them when we first got there and enjoyed the conversation. Thereafter we almost never saw them. They never returned the visit.

The front door of the house opened into a hall. Anne spent a lot of time there. Beside the work for her high school in New Zealand, she had to work on correspondence courses from Mississippi State to make up the work she was missing at Starkville High School. We put a table in the front hall and she spent many hours working there.

Opening to the left were the bedrooms of the girls and of the bathroom. The two bedrooms were of wildly different sizes. Beth won the toss and got to use the big bedroom first. It was agreed that in the middle of our stay Anne would move into the big one. However when that time came, Anne had grown to love her room and she stayed there.

Anne's room was tiny. The furniture consisted of a twin bed, a bedside chest, and a chair. The width of the room was the same as that of the bed width and the width of the chest. The lenght was that of the bed length and the width of the chair. The room was approximately twice that of the area of a twin bed.

Beth's room was adequately sized. She had two beds in her room.

Between the girls' rooms was the bathroom. This was literally the bathroom. It contained two fixtures: a lavatory and a bathtub.

The living-dining room was next. It had a large picture window. It had no TV so we rented one. At that time, New Zealand had only two channels, TVNZ 1 and TVNZ 2. One came on mid-morning and the other started broadcasting late afternoon. Both shut down about midnight. Here stations sign off with planes flying and the national anthemn. There they signed off with a cute little cartoon of a kiwi bird turning lights off, taking an elevator to the top of a tower, and going to bed in a satellite dish. Adorable!

Besides the rental fee, we also had to pay to receive the broadcasts. The networks were government owned and were financed by fees paid by viewers. Despite that, there were still a lot of commercials, although each night one of the networks were commercial free.

Programs were from four sources in approximately equal amounts. Local New Zealand produced, American, British, and Australian. Our favorite show was a local one. It was a New Zealand country-western show. They would talk in the usual kiwi accent but then sing a country song and you could not tell it wasn't coming from Nashville.

While we were there a new soap opera from Australia started. We grew addicted to it. Here in the US soap operas proceed at a glacial pace. This one went dizzyingly fast. A boy found out who his true parents were, confronted his father in Sydney, and his mother in Melbourne, all in one episode. When we sat down to watch, George Rodney would tell us to fasten our seatbelts.

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