Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Images to go with next post

Grandchildren, Jackson and Charlotte with Jack.

Grand-daughter Bianca.

Tom, the turkey, displaying to the goats and anyone else around.

Some of the dear little kids.

Text will follow in next post.
Warm wishes,

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dear Friends, First, the images.
At the top is the reason we went to Canada in August - to see our three grandchildren, and frolic with them on the grass. Jack is with Jackson and Charlotte, Josh and Tracey's kids, 7 and 4. The other is sweeet Bianca, 18 months, Penny and Jonah's daughter.

Next is Tom Turkey, a new arrival on our farm, Te Mara (the garden). He displays incessantly and gobbles continually. I don't know where he gets the energy.

He and his partner live with the goats, who have been busy giving birth to lots of kids. There are 15, and perhaps two to come. They are pretty, gentle, sweet little animals.

The last image, at the bottom of the page, is from a piece of street theatre several of us generated for the Global Day of Climate Action last weekend.
( I think these images have not succeeded, so I've sent them separately in another post. The image of the street theatre may have failed again - sorry.)

Now, let me organise myself a bit better.
A word or two about us.
We remain healthy and 'toughening up' a bit to farm labour. The huge job we undertook this week was to mulch the 'Hillside of 1000 Trees' we planted as a windbreak to the house we'll build. We're getting there, but there are a few creaks and groans in the evenings.

I reckon I'm moving toward qualifying as a New Zealander. Two iconic aspects of the national image are wearing gumboots, and being able to fix anything with number 8 wire. Tick both of those boxes. Add in this. For the street theatre piece, I was asked to play the former Prime Minister, Helen Clark. Of course, she has a pronounced NZ accent, and also a very deep voice. Thanks to Youtube for the coaching! I got a clap every time!

We've almost finished the design of our house. The architect is working on the drawings. Earthworks will begin in a few weeks. It will be built of pressed brick. The inside brick layer will be made of the earth here, if all goes well. The outside includes earth plus sawdust, and currently is only made on the north island, so we'll get it from there. The insulation will be wool, I think. It's passive solar oriented. We've designed the roof to acommodate the the solar hot water device, but the photovoltaic panels will be a separate installation. Attention has been paid to the thermal mass that will retain absorbed heat. There will be underfloor pipes, heated with water from the wood stove. This serves to cook, bake, provide hot water and central heating. The solar heated hot water will have supplementary heating if needed from an 'on-demand' gas heater. Water will be supplied by roof colection. There will be two large tanks downhill from the house. Grey water will drain to the orchard area. The gardens will have a Permaculture design, with perhaps more flowers than usual.

In thinking of the design of this house, we have considered it should last several centuries and accommodate many different families.

We have half resented needing to spend so much time on this. But I found I became deeply absorbed in the design process when I sat down to focus on it, and enjoyed it. Visually, the house is nothing special, quite plain. I hope it will be welcoming and comfortable for all who shelter in it over a long duration.
Global issues. Jack helped to edit Richard Heinberg's latest work, 'Waiting for a Miracle', just out. It's about the quantitative mismatch between demand for energy, and what will be available from renewable sources. It makes the point that conservation, learning to use less energy, is our best strategy.

Climate change has been my preoccupation over recent months. A friend, Katerina Seligman and I decided to give public seminars on the subject, so we had to learn a great deal fast. We also generated the street theatre piece illustrated below. In the photo we are performing it at a lovely country fair in the neaby village of Ngatimoti. The drama centres on the Kotuku, or White Heron, gardian spirit of Motueka. It weaves together Maori themes with a serious message, humour and the beauty of the great bird's slowly flapping its wings. We worked with a wonderful Maori playwright.

Katerina and I also plan to pull together a group of singing Grannies, modelled on Canada's Raging Grannies. We'll call ourselves Gutsy Grannies or Gumboot Grannies or something like that. We'll perform at Climate Change events,

I'm very pleased that a group of health workers, mainly public health doctors, have come together to form OraTaiao, or Climate and Health. They've already published a couple of articles in NZ's medical journal.

Transition Town Motueka Lots of gardening workshops going on. Rudolf Steiner's Biodynamic methods have a huge following in this part of the world. There is a workshop this weekend on that. I'm helping to organise a workshop on scything in a few weeks' time. It seems like a period of skill building.

Finally, Atamai Village At last, there is a real sense of forward movement. More than half the lots have been sold now - for the first phase of building. The earthworks on the first dwelling are to begin tomorrow. People are beginning to come together identifying with the village. Now we share a meal together every one or two weeks. These occasions are very pleasant, with kids running in and out of the adults. Craig and Tracey Ambrose host a pizza potluck
where they provide the pizza dough and the oven. Jurgen and Kyoko do a sushi potluck, where everyone brings a designated sushi ingredient, and Kyoko provides the nori. This was excellent.
Several couples are creating temporary dwellings on their piece of land while they build their houses. Some of the young couples are intent on doing a fair bit of the work themselves.
The cute little sleepout Jeff lived in while he was here will move across to the other side of the hill tomorrow, where it will become part of a cluster for Jurgen, Kyoko and 2 year-old Yuuki to live in while their house takes shape. They will build a Japanese-type house.

The Te Mara gardens are being readied for another season of planting.

So, that's life in Motueka this Spring. May the Kotuku keep us safe, and may we keep her safe.

Warmest wishes to all,