Island maid, or what I learned this week

I guess this is the week for quirky confessions.  Yesterday I told you about my ignorance regarding the Prisoner of Zenda, today I’m going to tell you about my geographical ignorance.

You see, I have never in my life been more than two hours drive from the ocean.

Really.  Never, ever.

I am an island girl.  I was born and grew up on Moloka’i, Hawaii, an island so small that you could drive from end to end in less than an hour.  And then, all you could do was turn around and drive back.

But at least you drove past some pretty gorgeous beaches!

Then I went to school in the SF Bay Area, where I was never more than a few minutes from the ocean.  Once we drove inland towards Sacramento as part of a birdwatching excursion for an Ornithology class, and that was as far as I ever got from the sea.

After university, I briefly worked in New York City, and that’s just another island.

And, of course, now I live in New Zealand, which is also an island, albeit a much bigger one.  You can’t get more than an hour and a half from the sea on either the North or South Island.

Sea meets shore at Titahi Bay, Wellington, 2003

The estuary at Porirua, near Wellington, 2003

Miramar peninsula, Wellington, 2003

(Cute story about the three photos above.  They were taken as I arrived in Wellington for the very first time.  I had no idea the names of the places I was photographing.  No idea that the city would one day be my home.  No idea that I would see that last view of Miramar on an almost daily basis).

Wellington harbour with Matiu Somes Island, 2012

Miramar peninsula, 2012, with the buildings I photographed in 2003 just visible at the far left

Most of the places I am interested in visiting are also islands, or sit at the edge of the sea, with mountains rising behind them and islands scattered before them.  Iceland, Britain, Haifa, Tasmania (which did not get included in my Aussiephobia), Taiwan, Tahiti (well, that’s actually a collection of islands, but you know what I mean!), Nauru, Japan (see Tahiti), etc, etc….

I’ve also long had a fascination with the Canadian Maritime islands, sparked by L.M. Montgomery, a family link to Nova Scotia, and Great Big Sea (you totally knew I was going to bring that up, didn’t you?).  They are top of the list of islands I want to go to!

Mr D and I and the church my parents were married in, Molokai, 2004

So, the things I didn’t know:

Yesterday I discovered that Wikipedia has a list of island by area (bless you Wikipedia, your corset entry may be heresy, your corduroy entry inaccurate, but you do have some wonderful resources!).  Awesome.

I love comparing things – it helps to understand them.

What I found out from the list is that the South Island of New Zealand is the 12th largest island in the world, the North Island the 14th, and Newfoundland the 16th.

I had no idea Newfoundland was so big.  Also, it looks like a rabbit with its nose flying off in astonishment (you know those cartoons where characters eyes bug out a few inches beyond their face when they are surprised?  Yes, it’s just like that, but it’s nose is flying off.  It must have smelled something pretty amazing!).  I did know what it looks like, but only just noticed the rabbit.

See the bunny? Via Wikipedia

The other things I found out that really surprised me?  Prince Edward Island (5,620 sq km) is way smaller than the Big Island of Hawaii (10,434 sq km).  Almost half the size in fact!

I had no idea.  Somehow reading Montgomery’s books I always pictured it New Zealand island sized.  Suddenly it really makes sense that it is just a wee bitty island.  Or at least reasonably small.

Sunrise over Molokai, 2006

So that’s what I’ve learned this week.  What have you learned this week?



  1. Shell says

    I learned that my internet passwords are disorganized and weak. So now I’m learning how to use a password manager. 🙁 God, how boring is that?

    • Well, my passwords are quite strong, but I have the hardest time remembering all of them! And now I’ve learned that there is such a thing as a password manager. So you have successfully passed the boring on!

      • Shell says

        The one I use is KeePass…it’s open source and so far has been really easy to use. There is a Mac version!

  2. Hayley says

    Today I learnt all about pearls – Japanese, Tahitan, South Seas, cultured, freshwater. And all about their shapes, lustre and grading.

    This is because in a few week’s time I’m headed to Thursday Island, and I plan on investing in a superb pearl necklace when I go out to the pearl farms!

  3. Amy B. says

    I learned it’s not a good idea to keep two calendars. Some appointments don’t always get switched to the other one and then you miss something important.

    I also learned that you grew up on Moloka’i. One of my very best friends from college is from Moloka’i. Makes me wonder if you guys knew each other. 🙂

    • Ah, I have that problem with calenders all the time! I have one on my computer, and a hard copy planner. I’m still resisting the smart phone!

      There are less than 10,000 of us from Molokai, so I’m sure I know your best friend – or at least their family. I’ll email you and we can compare notes 😀

  4. Just today I learned about the Museum of London’s first published Costume Catalogue from 1933. It was compiled and written by a female costume curator (possibly the first in England!), Thalasa Cruso (how cool is that name?) that seems to have been a forerunner for the current object-based + social history methodology of dress history studies. I should have found out about this ages ago, but only, finally, started reading Lou Taylor’s ‘Developments in Dress History’ yesterday (I had read ‘The Study of Dress History’ a few years ago though).

    And I’m always so excited to see people feature parts of Canada! I visited PEI when I was 8 and remember a lot more of it than anything else from that age. It IS a really teeny island, but so beautiful! I especially liked the inland-side beach – no jellyfish, the sand was white, and it made a ‘voopa-voopa’ sound like corduroy when you walked in it, lol. I will go back some day. I will also go to Nfld some day too – I so want to visit the Viking village. The CBC currently has a show called ‘Republic of Doyle’ that’s set in St John’s and I have to admit I find it quite charming – for a P.I. show.

    • I have to admit I find it quite charming — for a P.I. show.

      Haha, is that the Canadian version of Australians making fun of Tasmania?

      I’ve actually heard of the Republic of Doyle, because Alan Doyle of GBS features in some of the episodes. Sorry, I’m hopeless 😉

      Unfortunately it isn’t one of the Canadian television shows that has made it to NZ. Instead we get endless home decorating shows. I do rather like the ones with Sarah of Design Inc though.

      • Lol, by PI I meant ‘Prvivate Investigator’, as in the genre of the show.

        But, yes, the rest of Canada does make fun of Nfld (‘Newfies’). Instead of blonde jokes we have newfie jokes – but it’s really just affectionate ribbing, we love our newfies! ;o) And the newfie-ness of the show does have a lot to do with its charm.

        I really like Sarah Richardson and her taste – and that she’s a fan of my favourite button store in Toronto :o)

  5. Lynne says

    After moaning at my friends (in a spirit of hope, I admit) that I couldn’t find the liqueur, Cherry Heering, in my local bottle shop, I learned this week that there are on-line shops that sell the hard stuff, not just wine. And I have bought a bottle.

    Why am I sharing this with the world? Well, I think the world should know about the wonderful Scandanavian rice pudding that I like to serve at Christmas. Pudding rice is cooked in milk and castor sugar, then vanilla essence, sherry, and quite a lot of chopped, peeled almonds are folded in, followed by quite a lot of whipped cream. The result is light and rich and delicate and delicious. And it is served cold with pitted black summer cherries that have sat for an hour or two in quite a lot of Cherry Heering. You can just pour Cherry Heering over the rice, but why stint yourself?

    Happy to share the recipe!

    • Sounds delicious, but I’d have to find a version sans the Cherry Heering and sherry. I’m a complete teetotaller.

      • Lynne says

        I have a plan to try some of the next lot with pomegranate syrup for another friend who doesn’t drink alcohol. And there can be raspberries, and raspberry syrup.

  6. I learned that I didn’t learn anything this week and this disappoints me! I’m usually an avid seeker of facts!

    Thanks to the nod towards my country and it it’s little island Newfoundland. I personally love the island on the other side…Vancouver Island. It has my favorite city, Victoria…named after Queen Victoria of course. You should go one day.

    Thanks for “helping” me find Carolyn’s blog. I’m always interested in what other Canadian costumers are doing and I’m starting to read through her blog archieves now. I’d like to pick the brain of more Canadian costumers. They are kind of hard to find. Being a really young country, I think our perception of history is a bit “cute”. We see a 150 year old building and get all gaga about how old it is!

    • Iolani Palace in Hawaii was the first residence of any Head of State or Government in the world to have electricity. There. Now you’ve learned something 😉

      Vancouver is on the list for sure! My little sister is actually visiting VI this summer.

      And I’ve always lived in places where 150 years is ‘old’, so I completely understand.

    • The Mad Purple Chicken says

      Hi, I’m a Canadian costumer, a brand new one too- I just started last year. I live in New Brunswick and yes you should visit the maritimes, It’s lovely here, lots of evergreen forests. Canadian costumers are hard to find, I don’t think there re any others in my city. I have lots to say so I will probably start a blog, I’m just putting it off because i ‘m terrible with computers.

      P.S, Leimomi,if you do go to Nova Scotia you must visit Davids Tea. I have never tasted such delicious tea in my entire life and everyone else says the same.

      • David’s Tea is a chain all over the country. As a tea addict (4-6 cups/day) I was disappointed to discover that I don’t find their tea anything too special, and I think it’s over-priced. I wanted so much to like them, but am just meh. However, I only drink black tea – except when eating out at an Asian restaurant or when I’m sick – so I have an admittedly narrow perspective, and maybe I just didn’t get the right ones.

        I did my MA in Edmonton and while I greatly disliked living there (I’m an Ontario girl) they have a tea store called Acquired Tastes which has the best tea I’ve ever tasted. Their version of Lady Grey is my all-time favourite.

        Perhaps you can tell me Miss (or Ms?) Mad Purple Chicken, is it still ‘the thing’ to do to visit Cows Ice Cream shop when visiting PEI? Should Dreamstress also put that on her list of must-do’s in the Maritimes?

        p.s. I visited St John & Bay of Fundy Park some years ago and loved it. It was autumn and the colours were gorgeous. And the Reversing Falls kinda blew my mind.

        • Oooooh…proper autumn foliage! That would make autumn/winter a lot more appealing here in NZ.

          If I make it I’ll give David’s Tea a try. I’m a bit of a tea addict (on my fourth cup of the day) and snob myself, so we’ll see how I go.

          And if I do manage a Canada visit you can be sure I’ll ask for lots of advice beforehand!

  7. Stella says

    Today, reading this post, I learned something I’ve never really thought about before: I like living a short drive away from the sea. I wouldn’t want to live away from it.

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