Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas

Suddenly it is Christmas Day and it doesn't feel anything like it's the festive season?! I was surprised when I got home just how undecorated Christchurch is. The silly thing is that nothing is any different to any other year, it's just that I really enjoyed all the snow and the fairy lights and the winter woolly garb filling the houses and streets in Cincinnati. :-)

It is kind of surreal splitting the festive season between two countries this year! It makes for some variety, that's for sure!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Fly up high

Well, I've survived all my going away parties (sob sob) so I guess I have to hop on the plane now...

Even though I will be in New Zealand instead of Cincinnati, I figure I may as well keep the blog going since all my friends in Cincinnati now need something to check in on! Hehehe. They want to see pictures of this beautiful land from the Lord of the Rings. :-)

So, I will update once again when I have made it back onto the ground. :-)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Yearly Revision

I'm finally done with the majority of my year's papers now (thank GOD!!!) and just five more days left in the States before I begin my trek back to New Zealand.

Even just typing that makes me feel dizzy. Call me crazy, but I totally love it here and I don't actually want to leave ... it's just that small pesky issue of an expired visa and the lack of a green card. Pfft.

Anyway ... I can't even begin to sum up what this year has been like for me. Maybe that's because it is 2.30 in the morning as I type this, haha. But seriously, how do I describe what I've gone through this year??? Impossible.

I'm almost crying as I type. It is very hard to spend a year day-in and day-out in a city and NOT make some incredibly super friends, experience changes in your outlook on things, and just generally be thrilled at having SURVIVED THE CRAZY RIDE!!!

I have seen some true extremes in poverty and riches here. Cincinnati is a city that almost haunts me. Having spent a year working downtown at the Courthouse, it is hard to forget the faces of the prisoners tapping at the doors of their cell as you walk past. I leave work with mixed feelings most days. Both a sense of justice and futility. Well, more often futility. It is a fine line between the two sometimes...

I have a much stronger sense now of the advocacy work I want to pursue though. So, thank you Courthouse, hehehe.

And as for the Law School?? Well, that was a ride in itself. Nothing like Law School in New Zealand, that's for sure. I would never consider any of my professors at home my "friends", but here? Yes. I won't name any names, hehe, but I actually consider a couple of them to be my friend. One of them will be in NZ next May and we have organised the havoc we are going to wreak on the city already when we "hang out", hahahahaha!

I now have a million goodbye parties to attend, as well as a trip to Canada to fit in. Must remember my camera. :-)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Remember the pretty ponds??

Remember a few weeks ago when I photographed the ponds near my house, and everything was green and lush and beautiful?? Well, here are the same ponds today! Hard to believe it is the same spot...

Personally, I still think that are rather beautiful ... just very different. :-)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Now for the words I DIDN'T want to see...



Ok. So my suspicions last evening were dead on. Literally.

My beloved laptop, that has accompanied me to all corners of the world as well as all corners of the University of Cincinnati Law School ... has

d-i-e-d.

It didn't make it through the final 11 days like I had hoped. Bugger.

So, today? I went shopping. :-D At least laptops are criminally cheap in this country.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Aaaaaargh! Nooooooooo!

My laptop is making some awfully bad groany noises ... I truly think it is about to die. It also keeps "dumping memory" on me, and the harddrive really does sound like it is housing a swarm of bees right now.

Problem is, it has to survive at least another 11 days. The last 11 days of this semester, during which ALL my final papers are due and I will be burning the candle at both ends typing for hours.

I can see this turning into something potentially very, very nasty...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Big fat flakes and empty streets...

You know, I couldn't ask for better study weather, hahaha. I've always had difficulty with the NZ end of year exams, wanting to hang out in the sun instead of study...

Well, no worries about THAT right now....

Monday, December 05, 2005

Marooned by ice :-(

I got trapped in my flat yesterday. Well, not entirely, but pretty much...

I tried to walk out onto the landing and down the steps. It only took about half a second to stop myself from having a very nasty accident worthy of a lawsuit, hahaha. (No "Accident Compensation Corporation" here. Slip and fall equals lawsuit. :-)

Anyway, there are people who roam the streets around these parts, de-icing anything and everything. It is their job. It is what they do.

Except, they seem to have forgotton MY place this weekend. Ugh. I can't even begin to describe the level of icicle overhang I looked at ... from my front door ... and the very first step resulted in a slip. So I was not exactly prepared to risk the stairwell!

But I had to take the rubbish out. It was overflowing beyond the realms of reasonable, so my ONLY option was to pour tonnes of hot water all down the landing and the stairs, gingerly descend grasping the (slippery and frozen) handrail, creep to the rubbish bin, then hurtle my way back upstairs as soon as possible in order to make it indoors before the hot water solidified again!

Trapping myself outside in sub-zero temperatures without anymore access to hot water? That would have been V-E-R-Y unfortunate, I say....

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The "Balluminaria" Fest!

Every year Cincinnati hosts a hot air balloon festival, and today was the day this year! :-) Fortunately for me, this event occurs at the lake at the bottom of my street (the lake in the photos I posted a few weeks back).

So, my flatmate Melissa, Melissa's boyfriend, and I, decided to wander down the hill approximately 2 minutes before it began. As soon as we turned the corner, there were swarms of people everywhere, a million cars parked all up the banks, and the roads around the flat gridlocked with still-standing traffic!!

Needless to say we were very glad for the 2 minute walk back home again. :-)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Happy Turkey Day!

Well, I ate turkey, and boy it was good!! I obviously picked the best invite of the bunch for my Thanksgiving dinner, hehehe.

We ate copious amounts of turkey, stuffing, hot glazed ham, mashed potato, mashed sweet potato, creamed spinach, beans, a delicious homemade cranberry pickle chutney and gravy ... followed by generous servings of the famous American Pumpkin Pie, homemade Pecan Pie and Apple Pie (Seriously!! Three pies...) all topped off with lashings of whipped cream and whatever else was left lying around on the table. :-D

Then, as I was walking out the door, my lovely Thanksgiving Day host handed me a doggie bag full of turkey, ham, pecan pie and pumpkin pie!

So I almost got to eat the same meal all over again today... :-)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Snow, snow, and more snow

Oh dear, the woes of winter have hit Cincinnati waaaaay too early for my liking this year, hahaha! I would write more except I am running late for another class. Oops. So instead, I have added a few commentary notes to the pictures. :-) I will write more later...


This was the view looking down the stairs from the front door of my flat, when I left for College this morning...


and the view looking from the top of the landing down to the backyard


...just like a Christmas card!


More snow...


And more snow...


Looking towards the Cincinnati Art Museum (...not that you can tell...)


The council workers haven't quite got to clearing the sidewalks yet...


...Anyone feel like taking a seat while they pause and look at the view, huh? (see the bottom right hand corner of the picture.)


See?! No need to buy cotton wool and fake snow in THESE parts, hehehe. Get your decorations out early enough and they will be sufficiently covered by the real-deal. :-)


Awww - pretty (and see how the Halloween pumpkin hasn't even had a chance to decompose yet...?! Seriously early snow.)


Reindeers, and Santa Claus, and ... snow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Doh! forgetful me

I keep forgetting about this whole Thanksgiving deal! I am really hoping that by Thursday morning I will suddenly "feel excited" or something, haha!

Today I popped into the supermarket for some apples and dishwashing liquid. Exciting stuff, I know, but I had run out of both and couldn't survive long without either. :-) Anyway, I forgot that it is less than 48 hours before Thanksgiving Day. Recall what almost all supermarkets are like on or around December 23rd. You know, the day that every person with half a brain keeps as far away as possible from such places?

Well, imagine that level of mayhem - then triple it. :-)

Yeah. NOT a day to be popping into the store for anything less than a giant trolley load of goods, that's for sure!!! (Because you're going to be stuck behind a line full of them anyway, oh joy.)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

This week is Thanksgiving. Ooooh, I cannot wait to see what kind of a mess everyone gets themselves into with this death defying food and drink fest, hehehe! Apparently it is the biggest event of the year. Bigger than anything else involving food and alcohol in this country ... and, trust me, that is saying a LOT.

I am not exactly sure yet what I am doing for Thanksgiving. I have had a million and one invites to different family binge-fests, but my preference right now is to actually do nothing! Like, a day spent entirely in bed sounds rather appealing? :-)

Somehow I don't think I will get away with that though. I think it would be considered blasphemy not to gorge myself on at least one person's turkey.

The question is, whose turkey will it be? :-D

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Bugger

Ok ... so the weatherman was right, goddamit.

It's snowing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

More weather talk...

Cincinnati has been having some wicked thunderstorms these last 24 hours. And right now there are tornadoes ripping through Indiana, located less than an hour away from here. Several houses have been destroyed and it is all a bit freaky.

What was extremely freaky was a particularly intense thunderstorm, in the middle of the night, that not only had the usual flash of lightening followed by a thunderous clap of ... well ... thunder - but - for a second or so BEFORE the whole lightening thing, the house actually SHOOK, silently, as a result of the electrical energy build up!!! That is how intense the thunderstorm was. More awesome than any I lived through in Sydney ... and I had thought they were pretty strong.

I guess this is why they are creating little tornadoes all over the place right now. They just said on the news: "We really think there might be some tornado activity in your area." (Don't you just love the way they stress certain words in order to scare the bejeezus out of you?? Hmmm.)

Oh yeah - and the first snow flurry of the season is forecast to arrive tomorrow. At the moment I am choosing NOT to believe it, but I don't think I can ignore the tornadoes quite so easily.

At least I coughed up the $15.00 for a flu jab last week. :-)

UPDATE: Oh, I just had to add this: guess what helpful piece of advice the friendly weatherman just instructed us all through the TV screen? "If you're not inside a sturdy building, go lay in a ditch." Seriously!!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Doggy daycare...

My flatmate's boyfriend found this beautiful, yet abandoned and abused, dog. Because he loves dogs, he succumbed and adopted him this week!

The only problem is that he works crazy ridiculous hours, like, 6.30am - 10.30pm. (Who in their silly minds would EVER be an attorney??? Ha.)

Anyway, as a result, the three of us have come up with a fine solution. Chester gets dropped off at our flat at the crack of dawn each weekday morning, and pretty much hangs out with me. :-) Melissa goes to College an hour's drive away, whereas mine is only 10 minutes away. Most days I end up coming and going between College and home throughout the day, depending on what classes I have and what assignments I need to type up. (I work more productively at home. No people to distract me and convince me to join them for their fifth coffee of the day at the Starbucks across the road from the library! :-D)

Melissa's boyfriend then gets to go on all his "man-with-dog" adventures over the weekend! (When I am looking after Ben anyway.)

It's great! I get a daytime buddy without all the actual responsibilities and costs of doggy ownership! Sweet.


Yes. He likes the couch.


awww, what a cute face!!!


...no matter what he is doing...


Chester admiring all the Fall leaves covering the deck ... since we never actually get around to sweeping them up!!!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween hysteria

I just discovered something quite hilarious. The Courthouse has been offering free metal detector scanning to ensure that there aren't any hidden chunks of metal in some poor unsuspecting kid's Halloween candy!! Oh my god. I can picture it now. All the little fairy and goblin costumed children lining up waiting for the scary 6 foot plus muscle-bound gun-weilding Courthouse guards to snatch their chocolate off them!! Hahaha.

I know that Halloween is supposed to be scary and all, but that is certainly a novel way of adding another level of fear into the mix...

Monday, October 24, 2005


I'm sick of talking about hurricanes ("Go Wilma!" ugh...) so here's Ben. He is 3, and I am looking after him on the weekends for the next six weeks.

So, here's a question for you - what time of the year is it...? Hahaha :-D Oddly enough, pumpkin related paraphernalia actually began appearing around here in SEPTEMBER. (It feels a bit like Christmas does when the reindeers burst onto the scene in October. :-) Peoples front yards have witches and pumpkins and broomsticks strewn all over them, baked goods in the supermarket have begun turning orange and black thanks to the help of a little food colouring, and Ben already has three very elaborate costumes lined up for next Sunday!!

I guess I will be going trick or treating, huh?


The Jack O' Lantern

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

More ponds

To counteract the ugly smog below, I took some pretty pictures of a new pond I found this week in my neighborhood! I can't believe I never saw it earlier? Better late than never, I guess. :-D

Saturday, October 15, 2005

For anyone who thinks the smog in Christchurch is bad?!!

Ok, so here's the side of American city life that I have been trying not to think about or talk about on this blog so far! But I have been remembering lately just how much everyone back home considers that Christchurch has a "smog problem" at certain times of the year.

Well... this is Cincinnati's "clean air".

This has been the view of downtown since May. Smog so bad that you actually smell it in the air as you walk down the street - any time of the day, not just in the evening when everyone's fires are stoked and roaring!

Nice, eh? Cough... splutter...


Looking from my suburb across to the downtown area ... mmm, yummy!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Crazy classes

I just read the funniest blog entry in a while! Mainly because it partially involved me. :-) Fran (who is the new exchange student from NZ who came over here in August) spoke about our "Foreign Relations" class (at http://franincincinnati.blogspot.com) like this, as she was trying to describe what subjects she is taking over here:

"Foreign Relations: Errrr, not really sure, I think it was the War powers but who knows. Katrina and I sat in class panicking today as a very erudite conversation about the consitutional powers of the president to wage war took place around us and Katrina got called on and we both just about died. Had a little chat with Professor Wuerth afterwards and she said she won't fail us if we aren't chiming in every two seconds with things to say thank GOD!!"

Oh, I am laughing so hard right now that tears are practically rolling down my face!!! Thanks Fran! You cheered me up. :-)

So ... if you haven't figured by now ... class has been just a little bit stressful lately. Ugh. Too many assignments. Too much crazy constitutional research. Too many late nights typing up difficult essays until 2am and then getting up again at 6. (Come to think of it, I can't actually remember right now when I last got more than four hours sleep in a night?!)

Then there's been juggling my hours of work at the Courthouse, plus my additional hours working for the Greater Cincinnati Legal Aid Society (another wee "project" that I've been busy with this semester).

Oh well. At least I'm not bored! :-) Today is friday too. The friday before Fall Break! Yay. A week off from classes. HOORAH!

...Not a week off from crazy researching and writing though. Just no additional stuff piling up on my plate until, say, 9am on Monday 24th. :-D I wanted to be able to go and do some sightseeing this break like I did in the Spring (remember New York?!) but the word "impossible" comes to mind with everything due in 10 days time. Sigh.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Falling leaves...


Yep. It's finally Fall!!! No. It's Autumn. Oh, whatever ... the leaves are changing colour, YAY!!! :-D

To be honest, I don't know why I'm quite so excited about that, because it only means that a large dump of snow is just around the corner. Hmmmm.

Anyway - this pretty little leaf was one of many covering the top of my car this morning. I can tell I'm going to have to start scheduling in "leaf clearing time" each day from now on! (If you click on the image to make it bigger, it looks even more beautiful! :-)

As well as leaves, there was also a lot of fog. Very. Thick. Fog. I guess that's what you get for living next to a great big river...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Happy SWEETEST Day?


..... Is it just me, or does anyone else also not have the slightest clue what Happy Sweetest Day is???? Huh?

A trip to the local bookstore this afternoon revealed a massive card display that looked awfully, strangely and suspiciously like Valentine's Day. My brain tricked me for a second and had me thinking we were actually still in February, hahaha! But I took a closer look and discovered that there really is such a thing as ... Sweetest Day.

I was confused. So ... a little extra-curricula research turned up the following:

"Sweetest Day is always celebrated on the third Saturday in October. In 2005, Sweetest Day is Saturday, Oct. 15.

Sweetest Day, which began as a day to do good deeds for the underprivileged and forgotten, is now an occasion to remember loved ones and friends who enrich our lives with their love and thoughtfulness. Love and friendship are popular themes on Sweetest Day cards, often with expressions of appreciation. Sweetest Day has become very much a romantic day in most locations.

Observance of Sweetest Day is prevalent in the Great Lakes region – where the holiday originated – which includes such states as Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio (Ah-ha! Ohio! :-) and Wisconsin. As people have moved from these areas to other parts of the country, the custom of celebrating Sweetest Day has expanded across the nation from Maine to Florida to California.

Greeting cards, tokens of affection and appreciation, gifts, and spending time together are ways that people celebrate Sweetest Day."

I don't know about you, but doesn't this just sound like a fine excuse for squeezing in another Valentine's Day before next February? Just a thought ...

Monday, October 03, 2005

The rest of the weekend...

Ok, so ... Chicago. :-) I had a great weekend there. It involved a lot of walking up and down the "Magnificent Mile" (read: a street with lots of shops, art galleries, clubs, bars and restaurants). I also managed to restrict myself to one, itty, bitty, $20 purchase. :-D What iron strength I have, hahaha! (I could hear my bank account cheering all the way from Cincinnati. :-)

We also had a couple of extremely yummy dinners ... one at The Cheesecake Factory (the taste of which has to be experienced to be believed) and one at this cute wee Italian Restaurant complete with 90 year old Italian musicians serenading their customers. Unfortunately, somebody at our table mentioned it was my birthday. Some serious birthday serenading ensued then for, like, the next 10 minutes! Aaargh.

After that, we spent many hours chilling out at the bar in the Sears Tower where the photos were taken. Lots of other places were visited that night too, but after 1am it all became a bit of a blur...

On the sunday morning I accidentally stumbled across a Violin Shop! I was so excited that I managed to convince everyone else in the group to trot inside with me and sneak a look at them all! :-) Fortunately, a massive thunderstorm rolled in around that time, so it was a fine excuse to stay put for the next hour(!) and play a variety of very expensive Polish and Cambodian violins, hehehehe!

By midday on Sunday we were ready to leave, so began the drive back to Cincinnati. What should have taken us no more than 5 hours became a 10 hour marathon effort when the person in charge of the map (not me I will add, but a US native!!) set us off on the wrong highway, then promptly nodded off to sleep. I also fell asleep ... and woke again just as the sign: "Welcome to Michigan!" floated by the car.

Oops.

Clearly we were NOT meant to be in Michigan(!) but the 'upside' was that I got to add another State to my list of where-I've-been-in-the-USA, hahaha!

So ... by 10 o'clock that night, I had travelled through all of the following States in a day: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, back through Indiana(!), Kentucky, and Ohio. Phew.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Photos from the weekend

Here are a handful of photos from the weekend in Chicago. :-) Unfortunately it is late right now and I have a tonne of uni work to complete before the morning (ugh) otherwise I would write all about what I got up to, as well as the adventurous drive back to Cincinnati yesterday, haha! I will write about it soon ... promise ... :-)

But in the meantime, hopefully you will like the view from 96 storey up?! :-D


Driving into downtown Chicago on our arrival...


... somewhere near our hotel ...


A view of Chicago at night, 96 storeys up, taken from a bar we went to for my birthday...


The view from the women's toilet, hahaha! (The men were quite jealous, and a few even sneaked into the girl's bathroom to look!! Apparently they don't get any view at all. :-) See how the city curves around the lake's edge?


Looking directly down to the street and all the tiny dot-sized cars...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Katrina ... Ophelia ... now Rita...?

Ok, so three hurricanes in three weeks is just a bit much for any country, don't you think? Ophelia passed through Florida last week (thank goodness it wasn't as strong as Katrina was) but Rita? Unfortunately Rita is another Katrina-like "level 5" hurricane. What's worse, is that it is heading straight for Louisiana again!!!

The state of Texas is also in its path - another rather vulnerable part of the country. Mandatory evacuations are currently in force (surprise ... surprise!) and this time, everyone is following it! (I reckon I would too, hahaha!) The potential is not looking very pretty. :-(

Anyway, on a slightly brighter note, I'm off to Chicago tomorrow! It is my birthday this Friday and I am spending the weekend up north with a group of my Cincinnati friends. We are going to be staying right in the heart of downtown (known as the "Magnificent Mile") and I can't wait!!!! I will probably regret having taken the three days off from studies when next week rolls around and I am hideously behind in all my classes ... but sometimes I just think, "You only live once!" and I certainly don't want to spend my entire birthday with my head in Law text books. (Hell no, hahaha! :-)

So, Chicago, here I come!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Finally the photos...

I went for a walk yesterday and finally took some photographs of the suburb I'm living in! It is definitely the prettiest place around here, and I certainly enjoy all the trees and greenery ... compared to the concrete jungle that is the University of Cincinnati campus! :-)


...the park that the suburb, Mount Adams, sits in...


My flat is nestled up amongst that bunch of houses on the hill! :-)


One of the streets in the area...