A Wedding in Christchuch: Week 162

On a vinyeard just outside of Christchurch

“Is that all your luggage?” the customs official had asked with a skeptical glance.

“Yes.” We only had two small backpacks and a canvas bag with my dress and heels.

“We just jumped over for a wedding.” I felt like a jet-setter, but in reality we had caught a cheap red-eye flight to Christchurch. It was only three hours away.

It was after midnight by the time we reached our motel, the door to our room left unlocked. We ate an airport dinner on the bed and turned on the TV. There’s something about watching the news in a hotel room that elicits an inexplicable excitement in me.

Maybe it began back in ’94 with the promise of a new start in the Sunshine State, my mom turning on the news while my dad sat outside smoking the day’s first cigarette. Pack the last few items in the U-Haul and stop at the McDonalds on the way out of town. A long, long road lay ahead and the sun was just rising.


Barret and I have had an odd relationship with Christchurch. It’s a city still working to overcome a crippling earthquake that destroyed its entire downtown. Because of this, out of all the possible cities to visit in New Zealand, Christchurch would not currently be at the top of our list.

However we keep going back: once on our own, twice with Barret’s mom, and once again when my sister stopped there on her way to Antarctica.

I hadn’t planned on returning, but there we were the following morning in the only taxi that didn’t use GPS. The driver, an elderly guy who liked to talk about LPG tanks, handed Barret a thick book of maps. “Don’t worry,” he announced, “you have that discount coupon.”

Five minutes later we were back on track and pulling into a gravel parking lot outside a vineyard on the city’s outskirts. The wooden pavilions at the entrance were draped in pastel bunting and the soft autumnal light was filtering through a row of oak trees.

A Maori prayer was sung, then Bahá’í vows (a faith which originated in 19th century Persia), then traditional Christian vows. I tossed my sachet of oak leaves on the newlywed couple and tried to discretely wipe my tears away.

I’m not quite sure what impels me towards movement, to crossing oceans and mountains and state lines and doorsteps. However moments like these, when I’m seated at candlelit table decorated with gnarled driftwood and surrounded by good friends, I’m reminded of how important it is to sometimes stop. Or, at the very least, slow down long enough to be invited to awesome weddings in Christchurch.

Game Night: Week 111

Pandemic- Photograph courtesy of The Board Game Family

Barret smirked, “She likes to win.”

I wasn’t quite sure what Barret was hinting at- of course I enjoy winning, but I also realize it’s not the most important part of a good game night. What keeps friends friendly and coming over for more game nights is a big wheel of camembert cheese, a couple of glasses of wine, and good-natured rivalry.

And of course the games.


Despite the name, this game inspires friendly camaraderie and is good choice when playing with sore losers (note to Barret- that does not include me). Pandemic is one of those few games where either everyone wins or they all lose.

Each player has a different role with a special skill they can use as they travel around the globe curing disease, building research centers, and preventing further outbreaks. It is a fun strategy game, but because of its all-or-nothing approach to winning I wouldn’t describe this game as addictive. I mean, there are only so many times you can save the world without trash-talking other players.



The first thing that struck me about this game was the amount of cards in the box- it looked a library card catalog. Thankfully you don’t have to put all five billion cards in play; they are just there for different options and variations. Because of this, the game play is significantly longer than Pandemic.

To start, the player begins by purchasing services like a blacksmith, village, or market before upgrading money and then eventually buying titled land. Although the design and illustration choices leave much to be desired (why would a gold coin card and silver coin card use the same image?), the most important part of a fun game is its playability.

In this regard I think it really depends on the group- Dominion could either be an overly lengthy exercise in card shuffling or it could be a strategic game of kingdom building. I don’t want to call myself a shark, but let’s just say I won because I was counting cards.

Monopoly Deal

Monopoly Deal:

 Seriously? Growing up I had played more than enough Monopoly to last a lifetime. In fact, Monopoly had a monopoly at my house: Texopoly, Star Wars Monopoly, Disney Monopoly, and of course Monopoly Monopoly.

I was so completely over that game.

With a top up of red wine and a handful of olives, if I hadn’t been dealt a hand I would have sat this one out.

All of the properties traditionally represented in the board game were still there, however the simple and clean graphic design reminded me a little more of Uno than of its namesake. After a few rounds I came to the conclusion that Hasbro had realized what was missing from the board version (fun, speed, deception and portability) and had finally included it in the card game.

I was really surprised at how much I was enjoying the game and I’m not just saying that because I won. Really.

About: Pandemic, Dominion, Monopoly Deal

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