Sunday, June 6, 2010

A New Country!

So, finally, we get around to blogging again, to using this web site to keep a record of our busy lives. In March, 2010, we left Dunedin with heavy hearts. Summer was winding down and we had to say goodbye to some very good friends, and some great bubble tea, and make our way home to the US.

Before we left, we went on an odyssey through New Zealand. Driving 4000-km in a month and seeing so many beautiful places on the way. So, over the next few weeks I'll be posting some of the best photos from our trip and reliving our adventures as I do so.

Now, we're in Michigan, in Grand Rapids, starting a new adventure. And so I'll post some photos of some of the new fun we've been having too.

Alright, let's get started, on the first week of our trip through New Zealand:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Search of Ambergris

So, I'm writing a book. I'm not sure how it happened. I've always assumed I'd write a book at some point. And here I am in the middle of one, and under contract with Harper Collins Australia. My book is about ambergris, which is a fancy French word for whale poo. Actually, as you'll learn if you ever read my book, it's poo and a whole lot more.

Ambergris is expelled by sperm whales only, and probably by only one percent of them. It comes out sticky and black and fecal and fairly unpleasant. But then it floats. It floats. And floats. And floats. Years pass. Decades. The ambergris changes, molecule by molecule. Photo-oxidized by sunlight and altered by seawater, it travels in vast loops, carried by slow and irresistible ocean currents. And then it washes up somewhere. By then, it is a completely different thing: a fragrant gray, waxy lump, covered with a resinous rind.

Anyway, my book is about finding some, and it'll be published by Harper Collins in Australia and New Zealand in September 2011. A long way away. Last month, we visited Stewart Island in search of ambergris. A rugged, windswept and isolated place, Stewart Island sits in the southern seas, 20-miles south of New Zealand's south island. Traditionally rainy and stormy, we enjoyed sunny weather for the 5-days we were there. I even took a flight in a tiny single-engine Cessna over to the west coast beaches, where people find ambergris all the time. I didn't find any. But the search was worth it!

Monday, February 22, 2010

My true calling.

I have a confession to make. I love science. I've always loved it and have been working in science for years. But it's not my true love. My true love is surfing. I've always felt, somewhere deep in my soul, that I was always meant to be a surfer. So, finally, I took it into my own hands to gather my friends and to learn how to surf. Was it everything I dreamt it would be?

Totally rad.

Am I any good? All I can say is ... practice practice and all is coming.* (ETK)

(Photos above: Smails Beach, Dunedin, NZ; Max and mom on a board; Max checking out the surf; The ladies and I head for our first encounter with the ocean. )

*Thanks for learning with me, Rachel, Chew Ling and Amy; thanks for teaching me, Chris; thanks for supporting me, Chris and Max.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Port is home.

We never knew that finding a house in Port Chalmers would turn out to be a little hidden treasure. Here are a few pictures of us on a night out in Port:

Enjoying a Blackbeard's Revenge pizza (pepperoni, salami, green and red capsicum and chillies) at Small Poppy Pizzeria. Yum.

Max loves pizza. Especially from Small Poppy.

Not our regular takeaway, but one of the two takeaways in Port. The other one has Chinese takeaway, too.

The PORT in all its glory. There's even a cruise ship docked at the port. One of our favorite things to do is go to the overlook to see the cruise ship that has docked for the day. Without fail, Chris and Max will try to wave at people on the ship to see if they will wave back. (ETK)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Max!

Firstly, dear readers, I'd like to apologize for the absence of posts in the last few months. Sometimes, things just get busy. We've been fortunate enough to enjoy visits from family, and I've been working on a book, and we've been raising Max, and the blog took a back seat. But no longer! We're back and eager to start posting again. Buckle in.

And we have good reason to start again. Max turned one last week -- this year, at exactly 12:15am on December 20th, Emeline and I were fast asleep in bed, snoring like hobos in warm dumpsters. This is because raising a one-year-old human is tiring. But a year earlier our lives changed forever -- and for better -- at 12:15am, in the early hours of an otherwise normal Saturday morning, when we welcomed our beautiful little monster into our world.

So, this was an auspicious day. Emeline baked a cake -- a big, iced chocolate cake -- and we had a quiet little dinner with our favorite small human. The next day, we invited some friends over too, so they could celebrate Max with us, which meant more cake. The photos below are from our little Kemp dinner, with Max first tentatively exploring the cake, wondering why we lit it on fire, and then soon realizing everything was fine and it wouldn't hurt a bit to smear the icing over his face and hair and neck and clothes and high chair and parents.

We'd just like to say: Happy Birthday, Max. We love you!

Photos of Christmas to follow soon.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Father's Day

Last weekend, we headed out to the beach to celebrate New Zealand Father's Day. This was an inaugural event! Not to be missed. Max had no idea what was going on, but we went to Kentucky Fried Chicken and got a bagful of fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy and headed to Tomahawk Beach.

Max enjoyed the beach and we enjoyed the fried chicken. Little Max is a little over 8-months-old now. He's getting mobile, crawling a little bit more every day. He's speaking more too and, last Sunday particularly, graced me with plenty of "Da-da-dad-dad," which we've convinced ourselves is his version of, "Dad."

I captured both our favorite and least favorite part of the day on video. This is Max deciding to test whether Tomahawk Beach tastes as nice as our fried chicken.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Me, on the right, with my sister Deb and my twin brother Stuart, circa 1974.

Max, a few weeks ago. The poor little man looks like his dad a bit.