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  Wednesday, 31 August 2005

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Especailly for Melissa and the crew at the Colorado Real Estate Commission .

9:33:50 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 29 August 2005

As promised here are a few more shots from the Takaka Hill on Saturday. I could spend days taking photos in this area.  In fact I could spend days just sitting and absorbing the place, without the camera. As it was I didn't get back down the hill till after dark having spent most of the afternoon up there. It's simply one of the most beautiful places I've ever found. The trees in this forest are stunted and gnarled, smaller than usual but they seem ancient.

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9:41:05 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 28 August 2005

I can't resist a good second-hand shop these days. There's one on the main road through Motueka that I'd been meaning to stop at for a while now. Today on my way home I did. There was a neat little two-seater couch on the footpath outside that caught my eye. Its the perfect size and colour for my place and I ended up buying it and bringing it home with me, to replace the two tatty, old, mismatched armchairs I have. I got it for $125 with a toastie pie maker (that I can use on the coal range) thrown in to sweeten the deal.

I also met Santa. I know you all think he lives at the North Pole all year making toys but I know better. He hides out in a second hand shop in Motueka, and is a great conversationalist. I chatted with Nick for an hour or so while I browsed through all the cool stuff in the shop. He didn't seem surprised at all when I asked if I could take his portrait, in fact he grinned and quickly ducked upstairs to get his hat. Something tells me he had his picture taken a few times before....

7:18:36 PM    Comment []

I've just got home after a busy weekend out doing the photography thing. Last year I visited Harwoods Hole, which is part of a huge cave system in the Takaka Hill. Foolishly I left my tripod in the van on that occasion while I walked the 40 minute track through incredible bush to the hole. I was kicking myself and vowed to return there with the tripod (which is essential equipment in the low light under the forest canopy), and yesterday I did. I came away with about 75 photos which I'm beginning to sort through now. Heres a taste of what's to come....

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5:32:57 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 27 August 2005

Oil for March 06 delivery recently hit US$70 a barrel.

11:08:23 AM    Comment []

"The artist is the confidant of nature, flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms, Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs towards him."
Auguste Rodin

10:23:58 AM    Comment []

  Friday, 26 August 2005

A few shots taken on my walk this afternoon on the Barnicott walkway in Marsden Valley...

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11:23:33 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 25 August 2005

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"A bird seems to be at the top of the scale, so vehement and intense his life. . . . The beautiful vagabonds, endowed with every grace, masters of all climes, and knowing no bounds -- how many human aspirations are realised in their free, holiday-lives..."
John Burroughs (Birds and Poets, 1887)

9:49:55 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 24 August 2005

Here's a kiwi website I think will become very popular in the near future as the reality of peak oil sets in, and it's a great example of ordinary citizens taking the initiative with a good idea....

7:23:23 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 21 August 2005

It has become a bit of a ritual with me, on a Sunday morning, to roll out of bed, grab my camera in one hand, and a cup of coffee in the other, and go for a walk up the valley road as the first rays of sun reach the valley floor. Its makes a relaxed start to the day and reminds me there is beauty all around, if you can just see it in the right light. Here are the results of this mornings walk, in the order they were taken, all taken within a few hundred meters of home, in the space of about half an hour .

10:26:45 AM    Comment []

  Saturday, 20 August 2005

I've had a busy day. First thing this morning I went to the Nelson Saturday morning markets to get some vege's and a loaf of organic garlic bread.

Then it was off to Nelson Eco-fest. I spent four hours there manning the stall held by the Nelson Peak Oil Study & Action Group, talking to festival patrons about peak-oil. Our stall was right by the entrance in a high profile spot. Wow, that was exhausting, challenging and rewarding. We got a lot of interest and I spent almost the entire four hours talking non-stop to interested people from all walks of life. Some already knew about peak oil and just wanted to ask questions about our group and what we have been doing. Many had not heard the term peak oil before but had noticed the recent rises in petrol prices. Some were tough nuts to crack, initially insisting that there's plenty of oil left and so no need to panic. After explaining a few facts about oil extraction and showing them the figures, everyone I talked to seemed to understand. The most common misconception was that people thought we were going to 'run out' of oil. Not so. Global oil production has, or will very soon, 'peak' as we pass the halfway point (that is we have extracted about half of the planets reserves). We have extracted all the easy to get, easy to refine oil, and are left with the deeper, harder to get, lower quality crude. Production (or extraction) is going to start a pattern of decline, while demand is growing rapidly. This is a proven fact, the only question is when. This in turn means that the growth we have enjoyed for the last century or so, which was predicated on the abundant energy of cheap fossil fuels, is a trend that is about to reverse. Most of the debate I encountered today was based around the fact that there is still a lot of oil in the ground, but after explaining the 'peaking' concept, everyone I talked to got it. Most satisfying for me, not because I 'won' any arguments, but because I felt like I was achieving something and actually making a difference by raising peoples awareness and understanding of a problem that will affect us all. Like I said, it was exhausting but rewarding.

After my 'shift' at the stall finished I spent the rest of the afternoon in the garden planting more vegetables. I planted out a dozen tomato plants, broad beans, celery, red onions, lettuce, egg-plant, and spring onions. Two of my gourd seeds planted two weeks ago finally emerged today. I'd almost given up hope...

5:52:40 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 19 August 2005

Its a full moon tonight. I've been outside experimenting with some night photography.

10:01:03 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 18 August 2005

Last night I went to feed my little friend, Kaycee, when I realised I had forgotten to stop on the way home from work to pick up another bag of dog food for her. We had run out the night before. Whoops. I sat down and shared my bread roll with her while I tried to decide what I could feed her instead. There was a handful of little dog treats, which she gets occasionally when she is particularly well behaved (or needs bribing), so I gave her those, but they amounted to only about half of what I usually feed her. I needed something to top it off. Another bread roll? Cook her a cup of rice?

As I pondered this I heard a ruckus at the other end of the house. Upon investigation Kaycee had a plump little mouse cornered underneath the washing machine. With a little persuasion from me, and the broom, it broke cover, right into the waiting jaws of the mighty K-9 hunter, who then promptly devoured it.

Problem solved. Sometimes I wonder why she keeps me around.

6:38:08 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 15 August 2005

The flag at the school where I work flew at half-mast today in recognition of the passing of former NZ Prime Minister David Lange on Saturday. (Full story hereor here). His auto-biography was released only last week.

I don't much like politicians but this guy was the exception. I was in high school when he came into power after the Government of the day called a snap election and lost. I remember him as a man who bought a conscious to politics. A leader who was concerned with more than just the dollars, but formulated policy on principals. It has been said that in any factory in South Auckland the bosses in the office supported Mr Lange's nemsis, Robert Muldoon, while the workers on the floor were usually right behind the man they knew as Mr Honourable.

The Lange government was responsible for what I feel was a defining act as a nation, our anti-nuclear stance. It is sad to think that these days there is talk from the National Party of giving away our nuclear free status which is seen by Washington as a hurdle to a free trade agreement with NZ. Personally I fail to see what trading meat and dairy products has to do with nuclear power or nuclear weapons. It amounts to nothing but a vulgar bribe by the US government.

To quote a GreenPeace spokesman, "To gamble with New Zealand's nuclear-free future on the slim hope of a free trade deal is dangerously short-sighted and demonstrates ignorance of what the legislation means."  I'm sure Mr Lange would agree.

RIP David Lange (1942 - 2005). You made me proud to be a kiwi.

8:23:38 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 14 August 2005

Steam rising from the frost covered conifers in the valley this morning as the first rays of sun clear the crest of the hills.

10:25:35 AM    Comment []

  Saturday, 13 August 2005

I spent the morning in the garden planting things. Its coming together nicely. The seeds I planted last week are beginning to emerge. Each day now theres something new popping up. I've devised a way to keep the birds from digging up the new seedlings consisting of young bamboo shoots (acquired from a neighbours garden rubbish) gently bent over in semi-circles covered in bird netting. Plants and seeds will stay covered with these until they are big enough that a blackbird can't uproot them while digging for worms.

Springs bulbs are now flowering all over the place; a sure sign that spring is indeed here.

Of course Kaycee's help was invaluable. She supervised all morning from the sunniest spots in the garden.

As I write this I have a big pot of vegetable and pasta soup simmering on the coal range, a dish full of pumpkin, garlic, onion, celery, carrots and potatoes roasting inside it, and the last of the laundry drying on the rack above it, all powered by burning the plum tree prunings I cut up this afternoon. Who needs electrickery anyway? Its smells dam good to. Time to go make some gravy and warm some bread rolls.

7:12:37 PM    Comment []

I discovered today that I have the uncanny ability to control the weather. If you want rain, all I need to do is hang my laundry out on the line. It will be raining withing half an hour. If you want it to stop raining I'll bring the clothes in from the line and put all my indoor plants outside on the porch. The rain will stop on cue and the sun will come out. I didn't believe it myself at first, but its true. I've been doing it all day.

6:29:15 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 12 August 2005

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8:11:59 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 10 August 2005

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"A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for."
John A. Shedd

8:04:28 PM    Comment []

I have always been proud to be a New Zealander. When we told the world where they could shove their nuclear weapons with the nuclear free act in 1987 that pride intensified. This week something else added to that pride. A kiwi pizza delivery company, Hell Pizza started a controversial advertising campaign with this billboard erected in various locations around the country....

With a big picture of Gorge W and the phrase "Hell is to good for some evil bastards" I can't help but wonder how long something like this would last if erected in Washington DC. Apparently the mark of the beast on his forehead and red eyes were added later by some creative passerby. I'm so glad we are still free to speak our minds in this country, even if it is with a cheesy, but I'm sure, very effective, advertising campaign. Thanks for sending me the link Jillian.

6:46:30 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 9 August 2005

I took this photo on my way to work this morning. Its the little pond at the south-east corner of the wakapuaka sandflats. I needed to stop the bike and warm my hands anyway.

Observant regular readers my recognise this same scene taken at the other end of the day, almost a year ago.

7:17:57 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 8 August 2005

Everytime I ride my bike to work I always notice something that I wouldn't have appreciated if I was driving. This morning it was the flock of Zebra Finches, at least a dozen of them, that brust out of the shrubury alongside the cycletrack as I rode past. They flew at almost the exact same pace as I was riding, all around me for about 100 meters, like a flying escort, before banking away in unisome to rest in a nearby clump of cabbage trees. "Wow" I said out loud to myself, "wouldn't have seen that in the van..."

10:43:33 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 7 August 2005

Today was a club day for the Nelson Kite Club. We usually meet at Rabbit Island Beach on the low tide to buggy, board, or just fly kites. Today however, the wind and weather was very doubtful, but I decided to take my chances and go. I picked up Ted on my way through town.

When we arrived at the beach there was a very slight westerly blowing along the beach and the rain clouds were threatening. Determined to buggy we both wrapped ourselves in Goretex coats and leggings, pulled out the biggest kites we had (my 8.5m c-quad and Ted's 12.5m c-quad) and started zig-zagging back and forth across the beach. After half and hour or so, the wind changed to northerly and it began to rain. At least the Northerly was coming straight in from the sea, which enabled us to buggy along the beach, instead of across it. Pretty soon we were both soaked, and covered from head to foot in sticky wet sand, and having a great time, grinning from ear to ear. Just before it was time to go (gates closed at 5.30pm) the wind stopped altogether and our kites literally dropped out of the sky. We didn't really mind. After months of no buggyable wind we were pleased to have had a spin even if it meant getting very messy and wet in the process.

On the way home we got talking about cycling and ways we might be able to transport kite buggying gear on a bike. Ted put me onto this invention, the xtracycle. I want one. Could come in very handy in a post peak-oil world! Have a browse around the site. There's even a video of a guy transporting kayaks through the bush on a bicycle.

7:49:04 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 6 August 2005

Today is the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. The Nelson Peace Group floated candles at Miyazu Gardens this evening in remembrance.

Will we ever learn that war is not the way forward?

Peace Declaration
August 6, 2005
This August 6, the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing, is a moment of shared lamentation in which more than 300 thousand souls of A-bomb victims and those who remain behind transcend the boundary between life and death to remember that day. It is also a time of inheritance, of awakening, and of commitment, in which we inherit the commitment of the hibakusha to the abolition of nuclear weapons and realization of genuine world peace, awaken to our individual responsibilities, and recommit ourselves to take action. This new commitment, building on the desires of all war victims and the millions around the world who are sharing this moment, is creating a harmony that is enveloping our planet.
The keynote of this harmony is the hibakusha warning, "No one else should ever suffer as we did," along with the cornerstone of all religions and bodies of law, "Thou shalt not kill." Our sacred obligation to future generations is to establish this axiom, especially its corollary, "Thou shalt not kill children," as the highest priority for the human race across all nations and religions. The International Court of Justice advisory opinion issued nine years ago was a vital step toward fulfilling this obligation, and the Japanese Constitution, which embodies this axiom forever as the sovereign will of a nation, should be a guiding light for the world in the 21st century.
Unfortunately, the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty this past May left no doubt that the U.S., Russia, U.K., France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and a few other nations wishing to become nuclear-weapon states are ignoring the majority voices of the people and governments of the world, thereby jeopardizing human survival.
Based on the dogma "Might is right," these countries have formed their own "nuclear club," the admission requirement being possession of nuclear weapons. Through the media, they have long repeated the incantation, "Nuclear weapons protect you." With no means of rebuttal, many people worldwide have succumbed to the feeling that "There is nothing we can do."  Within the United Nations, nuclear club members use their veto power to override the global majority and pursue their selfish objectives.
To break out of this situation, Mayors for Peace, with more than 1,080 member cities, is currently holding its sixth General Conference in Hiroshima, where we are revising the Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons launched two years ago. The primary objective is to produce an action plan that will further expand the circle of cooperation formed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the European Parliament, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and other international NGOs, organizations and individuals worldwide, and will encourage all world citizens to awaken to their own responsibilities with a sense of urgency, "as if the entire world rests on their shoulders alone," and work with new commitment to abolish nuclear weapons.
To these ends and to ensure that the will of the majority is reflected at the UN, we propose that the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, which will meet in October, establish a special committee to deliberate and plan for the achievement and maintenance of a nuclear-weapon-free world. Such a committee is needed because the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and the NPT Review Conference in New York have failed due to a "consensus rule" that gives a veto to every country. 
We expect that the General Assembly will then act on the recommendations from this special committee, adopting by the year 2010 specific steps leading toward the elimination of nuclear weapons by 2020.
Meanwhile, we hereby declare the 369 days from today until August 9, 2006, a "Year of Inheritance, Awakening and Commitment."  During this Year, the Mayors for Peace, working with nations, NGOs and the vast majority of the world’s people, will launch a great diversity of campaigns for nuclear weapons abolition in numerous cities throughout the world.
We expect the Japanese government to respect the voice of the world’s cities and work energetically in the First Committee and the General Assembly to ensure that the abolition of nuclear weapons is achieved by the will of the majority.  Furthermore, we request that the Japanese government provide the warm, humanitarian support appropriate to the needs of all the aging hibakusha, including those living abroad and those exposed in areas affected by the black rain.
On this, the sixtieth anniversary of the atomic bombing, we seek to comfort the souls of all its victims by declaring that we humbly reaffirm our responsibility never to "repeat the evil."  
"Please rest peacefully; for we will not repeat the evil."
Tadatoshi Akiba
The City of Hiroshima

7:15:43 PM    Comment []

Its a beautiful spring like day here today. I noticed in the last week some spring bulbs starting to push through the ground. I decided to offically declare it the first day of spring in this little valley and started my spring planting.

I gathered all my seeds and every concievable planting container I could find and spent the morning in my little green house making new beginnings. So far I have planted the following:

  • Chinese cabbage
  • Brocoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Tomatoes (3 different varieties)
  • Lettuce
  • Parsnip
  • Onions
  • Grey Pumpkins
  • Gaint Atlantic Pumpkins (really looking forward to those)
  • Buttercup Pumpkins
  • Butternut Pumpkins (can ya tell I like pumpkins?)
  • Honeydew Melons (love them, soooo sweet)
  • Yellow and Red peppers
  • Large bottle gourds
  • 3 varieties of small fruited gourds
  • 3 varieties of large fruited gourds

...and soon as I have constructed some anti-blackbird wire netting covers (which is my next mission after this coffee and blog break) I'll be putting in...

  • Zucchini
  • Radishes
  • Spring Onions
  • Climbing Beans
  • and peas.

I also started off 3 potatoe towers (in old car tires) with three different varieties of potatoes. Thats kind of an experiment to see which kind will produce best when grown this way.

All that compost making is paying off. I haven't had to buy any yet and the home made liquid organic plant food from the worm farm is being used, in a very weak dilution, on everything.

2:53:10 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 5 August 2005

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"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn"
John Muir

10:13:15 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 3 August 2005

In the comments on yesterdays post Jon asked me what should be a fairly straight forward question to answer.

"...How do you live the life that you do?... "

On the surface of it, it seems he was simply asking me what I do for a job, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised he was asking much more than that (wether he realised it or not). Thats because to me, my job has very little to do with who I am, and how I live; its just a means to an end. In my working life I have been a programmer, a graphic artist, a fisherman, a photographer, a webmaster, and many other things, but none of these was what I wanted to be. I don't want to be a job, just happy.

I've been pondering how to answer Jon's question all day. I don't think I'll ever be able to answer it fully but there are three things that have helped me find my way to a lifestyle I like.

The first thing is I try to live simply.

I live in a small house, that I rent, which most people would class as a bach (or crib, or hut) with only two rooms. I have a very small circle of friends. I eat simple food (mostly organic and vegetarian these days). I have few possessions (by most standards) and strive to keep it that way (one of the necessities of living in a very small house). I think Nisargadatta Maharaj said it best with this statement: "Spiritual maturity is being ready to let go everything. Giving up is a first step, but real giving-up is the insight that there's nothing to be given up, since nothing is your property."

I have been single for almost all of my adult life, and unlike many people I know, I don't see that as something to be remedied. I have never travelled outside New Zealand and don't feel the need to while there are still corners of my home town I haven't explored yet. I feel there is more right here than I will ever  fully discover in a lifetime. I'm not saying there's nothing to see or discover elsewhere, only I don't feel the need to travel worldwide to find wonder.

The second thing is to expand my comfort zone at every opportunity, big or small.

When we feel comfortable, and safe, we risk becoming spiritually stagnant. Wether it is trying a new exotic food, or quitting a career, stepping into the unknown on nothing but a gut feeling, trusting our intuition, is the most uplifting thing we can do. On every occasion I have forced myself to do something new, uninsured, without guarantees, and risky, I have not regretted it. If it turned out like I hoped I won. If it turned out differently, I still won, wether it was through learning a valuable life lesson, or being led to something else entirely that I wouldn't have found through any other path.  When I quit my career in computer programming to take a 'boys' job on a deep-sea fishing boat, I not only discovered that I could adapt to anything I throw myself into, but I found the courage to not let myself be defined by a job. I used that courage a few years later to walk off that job, the best paying job I've ever had, to take up freelance photography. I used that same courage to quit professional photography because it was sapping the fun out of my new found passion. So even though deep-sea fishing was not the job for me, it was a valuable part of the journey. When we step outside our comfort zone, it grows.

Now the last thing may seem trivial, but trust me, it is not. Its nothing deep and meaningful, in fact you'll probably find it absurdly simple. To borrow the words of the McGillicuddy Serious Political Party... "Smash yer TV".

I'm serious. Television is a mind numbing, brain washing, energy sapping, WASTE OF TIME. It is second-hand living. I thought I didn't watch much TV when I moved into a house with no TV reception around five years ago. The longer I went without it, the more I realised how needless, and ridiculous it is. Suddenly you have all this extra time on your hands. You'll find time for those hobbies you've always wanted to try, but never had the time. You'll read books. You'll talk to people (not just in the ad breaks). You'll learn to appreciate real silence. You'll begin to notice that other peoples living rooms seem to be arranged in worship of the black box. I realise what my Grandmother meant when she used to call it "the idiot box". On the odd occasion when I do see television now, when visiting, or in stores, it makes me cringe. If there's a TV on in the room I can almost feel it begging me for my attention, trying to drag me in and distract me from the world around me. I challenge you all to not turn on your TV for 1 month and see if you don't agree with me by the end of it. CoffeeWaffle probably would have never come into existence if I still watched TV.

And that's it. A lifetime of wisdom (if you could call it that) packed into one blog entry. Thanks for your inspiring question Jon.

9:05:10 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 2 August 2005

Finally today, after months of windless winter I got to use my kite buggy for an hour after work. Its not that we haven't had wind, we just haven't had the right wind, at the right time. Winter here sees almost constant southerly or south-west wind, which is useless on the north-facing beaches in the area. The only place to buggy in a southerly is the Wakapuaka sand-flats, but during winter the surface never dries out enough. I've been hanging out for a good kite buggy run so when I spotted a hint of a northerly flickering in the flags outside the tire shop down the road from work, I made a beeline to Neale Park. There was barely enough wind but I made the most of it with my light wind kite, the 8.5m c-quad and spent an hour cruising between the rugby posts, mud puddles, golfers, and kids at soccer practise. I think Kaycee enjoyed herself too...

7:41:57 PM    Comment []

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