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So here we are, back to normal; fingers in our figurative ears and humming a panicky tune.
I don't care if it is now RNZ, it will always be National Radio to me. National Radio and Kim Hill are actual national treasures. Morning Report is the ideal morning commute, although I am yet to fully recover from the loss of Guyon - be still my beating heart - Espiner. Ah, the sound of razor sharp journalists being mean to politicians of all stripes is music to my ears. National Radio is unbiased and intelligent; asking tough questions and repeating them until there are answers not soundbites someone's PR lady made them rote learn the night before.
THE DAVIDS - THORNE AND SEDARIS
If you are ever feeling morose and bad humoured, may I recommend a google of either of the Davids. David Sedaris is my personal hero. He writes gaspingly funny essays about poor personal choices and random weirdos. David Thorne's website is very old, but it is still hysterical even after the 80th perusal. Some of his posts are to be read with horror at his puerile awfulness, but "Dear Neighbour, you are not invited to my party'' is a nice introduction and an instant passport to a happier place. Also a realisation that you are literally in a happier place as you are not David Thorne's neighbour.
As Dunedin settles into an invariably icy and unwelcoming winter, Animal Attic in the Otago Museum is a perfect rainy Sunday. This is what all museums should look like; creepy Victoriana with overstuffed animals in startling poses. It feels like something magical and Narnia-ish could happen at any moment. If you have a small child in your family and would like to progress up the ladder to the favourite aunty/uncle/grandparent spot, this is the place to make that happen.
RAMADAN DINNER INVITATIONS
Iftar is the nightly feast during Ramadan that breaks the day's fast. Ramadan is not my favourite 30 days of the year. It has been argued that this is because I am lacking in any spiritual depth and that I am firmly focused on my own selfish comfort. I don't disagree with this reasonably valid criticism, but I would also counter that a hangry husband has a fair bit to do with it.
Iftar invitations are worth any 4pm temper tantrum. Iftar is a time when families and friends gather to share food and be together and think of those who can't, a lot like Christmas. But unlike Christmas, it lasts a month, and even Christmas dinners pale in comparison to the nightly iftar feasts.
This year our Syrian friends had a table so laden I couldn't fit my plate on it. Delicate deep fried bulgur wheat encasing spiced ground beef and walnut kofte, stuffed vine leaves dripping with allspice and dill infused olive oil, freshly blanched almonds sauteed in saffron and scattered over aged and buttered basmati rice. Dish upon dish of arduously prepared food, made from recipes that have been passed down through generations. I was arguably happier at this dinner than I was the day my daughter was born.
Ramadan has just finished for the year. This gives the foodie-focused infidels among you a year to try to make friends with Muslims and attempt to wrangle an invitation to iftar 2020. I personally do this sort of thing all the time. If anyone looks vaguely African in a supermarket line I am right there suppressing social anxiety and making awkward conversation in the hopes that once again I will be mopping up an Ethiopian lentil stew with injera. So suck it up and be that weirdo, it's worth it.
DOGS WITH SHOES/BABIES WITH HATS THAT HAVE EARS
When I lived in China there were lot of people who liked to put their small dogs in (even smaller) shoes. In retrospect I suppose this was to save cleaning floors, but at the time I assumed it was a fantastically mental fashion statement among Pekinese owners. You could hear them tap-tapping down the street from a ridiculous distance, sounding like a gaggle of teenage girls running flat-footed in high-heeled shoes. The dogs plainly hated them, and gave the impression of being as embarrassed by their situation as a canine could be. It was wonderful.
Also wonderful are people who put their babies in hats with ears on them. Babies, while lovely are also maddeningly difficult to please. But if said small, furious human has a hat with floppy bunny ears, who cares? Angry rabbit is freaking adorable.