Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bows and ammo and bucks and weddings and puzzles and friends and.....

I've been in beautiful Wanaka for a wedding. Seany is one my sharehouse buddies from one of the best sharehouses I have ever lived in. He has bounced around between Oz and NZ, but finished up in queenstown, hence the wedding being in o e of the worlds most beautiful landscapes, at this time of year anyway. Going from hot parched SE Qld to the lush greenery and snow capped mountains was a great little trip, not to mention one of the best wedding settings I've seen.

By the time we arrived I had just enough time to get dinner on and have a quick shower ( more on the food at Mother Foccacia later), only to find the owners had forgotten to turn the hot water on. Water from a lake fed by snow capped mountains is an effective but unpleasant way to shake off hardly any sleep from the night in Christchurch airport and the second flight and drive.

I met up with all the boys for the start of the bucks party, two days before the wedding! It started at this place where you could target shoot with bows, 22's and shotguns, plus drive golf balls to your hearts content. It was all great fun, we split into teams and cycled round the venue. Some of these boys have been shooting rabbit and fox for years, the most I've ever shot was a BB gun. I did ok with the 22, had an awesome time with the clay shoot, 8 from 15, not bad for first time and won the archery! At 15m I hit the bullseye 3 times in ten shots, five in the target overall. Not bad for first go. I reckon I might buy a bow and set up some targets here, it was great fun.

The thing is though, I've been reading Ian Stirlings great 'change' series, where it explores what happens if we had to go back to the old weapons. I know you would get better with practice, but it wasn't easy at fifteen meters. What would it be like at 100m, with a cross breeze and a deer spooked by your scent. No wonder animals were domesticated.

The rest of the bucks was the normal drunken hilarous debauchery. I have a great little video that I won't post, despite its low quality and the fact it is one of the most funny things I have witnessed, I'll obey the time honoured rules.

The next day the other flatmate from that great house arrived. Davey and his partner Marj turned up in the arvo after we had recovered a bit. It was so good to see them, we used to have a cooking club together and slipped straight back into our old chatty ways.

The day of the wedding was one of those days where I could move to NZ in the snap of my fingers. We went down and played some touch and frisbee and although all the kiwis cheated all the time, it was great fun. After we went up to puzzleworld, they had all these cool optical illusions and a maze! I was like a ten year old, in fact we all were, running through the maze trying to get to the four towers and back out. Running into each other and demanding "how many towers have you got" and "how the hell do you get to the yellow tower?". So much more fun than running 3km in a straight line.

The wedding itself was a blast. Set in this amazing landscape just lent itself to the magic of the occasion. Seany and Steph are just one of thos couples whose goals and sense of humour just mesh so well together. All the other people were lovely, even the UN diplomat on the bus back who cheerfully insulted half the bus on the fifteen minute journey.

A coffee in the morning with davey and marj and all that was left was the journey home. A car ride and two planes later and our little adventure was over. Keep an eye on MF for the food perspective of the trip.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

One of the hardest things I find about leaving lantanaland is that if something happens to the animals I feel guilty that I wasn't here. Not that it makes any difference, the predator doesn't respect my precence.

When we got home Maxi, my beautiful, plucky silkie, who had been with us since we lived in the city and had survived fox and snake, had been killed. She was a gift from a relative of a mate and a great mum and chook with personality. She'll be missed here on Lantanaland.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ramblings from a cold floor in Christchurch at 2am

Airport floors in New Zealand are not that warm, who knew? Flitting in between half sleep and hypothermia I have been thinking a lot about Lantanaland. I've been slack this winter, lots of new things at work, my fitness kick and my natural inbuilt laziness have conspired to ensure that I have been nowhere near enough busy.

No matter. Things have a way of working out. I have made mates with another neighbour at the other end of the hill. Noticing that they were bagging horse manure and leaving it at the gate I left a note in the letterbox. Turned out they have a matured pile of horse shit next to their stables and are happy for me to take a trailer load whenever I want. Honey and duck eggs will ensure that they will stay happy for me to raid their pile. You may think it's a bit strange to get excited about manure but it's an essential part of permaculture, my soil is basically rock and clay and adding a half meter of mulch and manure on top is the simplest way to get going on a half decent topsoil. Until I get my own cow and even when I do, this will be a resource worth more than money in the long run.

The Chooks and ducks are really going for it right now. Birmo is the lucky one because none of my mates like duck eggs so he gets the occasional delivery when the pile gets too high. My Malay Game rooster is starting to crow and the other pure bred girls are getting big enough to start cross breeding my meat birds. This is one of the projects I've been keen on ever since coming to Lantanaland, but foxes and snakes have knocked me back to square one time and time again. I figure that around June I will be killing and cooking my first home grown chicken. It will be the first of many midwinter parties/feasts that I will be having to celebrate my food, things that you won't be able to buy in any resteraunt or deli. Be nice and I'll send you an invite.

I've also come up with a few solutions for little problems round the place, a good edible plant for the shady area under the fig which I constantly have to slash (yukon), a better design for the Chookhouse so that my housesitters have less issues and more spa time. I'm hoping to get a few more fruit trees planted round the house and finally run an electric fence line in preperation for a dairy cow. I figure if I have the infrastructure in I will be more likely to go looking for real and that will instill a bit of saving discipline into me.

The mulberries, duck eggs and raw honey are the things I love about this place. Hard to get from any shop and just so good. The mulberry, honey and yoghurt smoothies are like heaven in a cup. Just wait till I have my own milk and yoghurt as well!

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Levels of Communication

Was listening to a bit off the ABC called the Hidden Persuaders, the unfashionable father of The Gruen Transfer on the iPod this morning and there was an interesting conversation about a petition tabled in state parliament about mums in 4X4s dropping kids off at school. The marketing guru basically said that a petition, while it will get a bit of media, will be ignored by a politician or a company. The rule seems to go like this, the more effort that you have to put in, the more it gets noticed. Non for profits will employ casuals on a basis of bonuses for the amount of signatures taken and it really is maybe twenty seconds of your time to participate and thus is largely ignored. A email takes more time and a letter even more time (and money) so are treated with more respect. I'd imagine that the letters and emails run by groups like GetUp where the work has been done for you are only given a touch more consideration than a petition. Ten letters chiselled into stone and dropped on the steps of parliament house would probably get laws changed on the same day.

All this is fair enough, why listen to a bunch of people hassled into signing a bit of paper more than someone that takes the time to put their red hot thoughts onto paper. The problem I have, is that I believe that there is an even higher level of communication and that's money. Business can buy a level of influence that a non for profit or an individual just can't match. Personally I'd love to see all political parties banned from receiving donations of any kind, for no other reason than it would mean less ads. Holding political parties to the trade practices act would be an interesting one as well. A lot of people will say that it will restrict politics to a subset of Australian society, but we get that now, the major parties are dominated by unionists, party machine people and lawyers. how many plumbers, sparkies, teachers (as opposed to teachers who've been in the union for the ten years before entering parliament) are in the ranks of our MPs.

This is why I really like Twitter. I'm not claiming it to be a revolutionary tool, although it has proved useful for very quick outcry, a digital mob with a pitchfork and burning torches. What i like is that at least for now it provides a direct line to the person. People who are getting their hacks to tweet are soon exposed, ridiculed and ignored.

Now excuse me, I'd like to make some real change in the way we pay our researchers in this country, so I'm off to find my stone slab and chisel.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I should not care this much about this.

"Beeso, you're like our Steve Price."

So said one of my very young teammates after tonights game. For those of you who have no idea who Steve Price is, he is an older rugby league player who keeps getting picked for rep sides where he promptly gets sledged for being too old, too slow, too outdated in a young mans game.

He then goes out and plays all over his opponents, dragging his team down the other end again and again. So I'm not sure if it is the ten year age gap between me and the next oldest player or the fact that I too like to drag us down the other end every set, but I was pretty stoked.

I shouldn't really be getting this excited about touch footy. The level is about the same as QLD cup or the VFL so it's pretty good, it's just the way touch footy makes me feel. Nervous.
Every game.

The last time I played at the good level I left badly. I've always lacked confidence in myself when it comes to physical things, playing music, sport and dancing and the way I left last time destroyed my less than strong ego. I wasn't enjoyed playing anywhere and I hated that. I love playing competitve sport. I love winning and feeling like I've made a difference for my team. But for two years all I could think about when I got on the feild was "what if I do something that loses us the game?"

At the bottom of it I didn't care, I was fat and lazy and was thinking of going and playing darts. Then I got a bit fitter. I started enjoying myself, wanting to win again. By the time this season came round I was keen to give it another shot, just to play hard. I wanted just one game of A grade. The bunch of guys in my team are kids with better attitudes than some of the rep players I've played with. And it shows, tonight we won our final round game which gave us an undefeated record for the regular season. The funny thing is, last week I played A grade, mainly by default, but I was feeling like I'd let the boys down, I paced around while they played, screaming encouragement, running water. When I played my game it wasn't the same, it wasn't my team.

I still get nervous, really nervous before games, but they're good nerves, they pump me up so I can cart that ball forward every set.
Just like Steve Price.

Lantanaland from the iPhone