“Life is like a butcher counter.”

That’s what they told her at the pub. “You can have whatever you want. You just have to ring the bell.”

But suppose you don’t know what to order when you step up to the butcher counter of life? What then?

Chances are, the universe will hand over what you need instead.

She turned fifty and promptly became obsolete overnight. Her nest emptied. The doctors who had employed her for twenty years retired. She gave up on the confirmed-bachelor love of her life. She made a midcourse correction and married in haste. To fix that rash decision, Janet Parmely made another and answered an ad, “We Have Sixty Million Sheep but We’re Short on Audiologists.” She got the job.

As muddled and full of puff, wind, and rabbit tracks as a teenager, this seeker boarded a plane for New Zealand. Her one-year contract turned into a ten-year journey without a compass, buffeted by her aging parents and entangled with a riddle of a seafaring man. What started as a tap on the shoulder by the Big Five-O would end with shipping a baby grand piano across the world — twice — and reaping a greater respect for the horsepower of hope.

Part quest, part essay, part travelogue, part love story, this memoir is told with humor and wit, steeped in the allure of the Land of the Long White Cloud, New Zealand.