Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012!

It’s the eve before we leave for Kiwiburn and the van is packed and our energy levels are high.   It’s summer, the days are nice and warm and long, and we’re about to kick off a few weeks of summer holiday.


The first few weeks of 2012 are proving to be very auspicious indeed.  I’ve hired helpers to maintain the grounds at both the Hoon Hay and Wainui houses; we’ve scheduled a few strapping young woofer lads to come help us get the new woodshed and garage in order in February;   my mom’s health seems to be improving after a few months of not being so well; and I just generally feel happier.  I am a sun worshipper after all.

2012 has just got to be better than last year.  Even though 2011 had some very wonderful moments in it,  I also had one of the emotionally hardest years in my life.

One word:  earthquakes.   We’d thought we’d been through the worst in September and December 2010.  But then Christchurch got slammed in February 2011, causing much destruction and loss of life.   Then a few months of quiet and another round of good rolls came in June.  I found myself trying to put on a brave face but underlying my exterior I was anxious and wondering how much more I could take.   I wasn’t the only one – the backlog for counselor appointments was months-long.   So I started taking my ‘earthquake remedy’ formula, a type of Bach flower essence here in New Zealand.  I think it helped.     I stayed strong and things started to feel like they were getting back to ‘normal’ as we came into spring – industry was picking up, people seemed a bit happier, and then, WHAM, we got hit with another frightening round on December 23rd which put a damper on a few people’s holidays but not mine as I was determined to enjoy Christmas and New Years!  But since then, they seem to be coming fairly frequently though less volatile.   I guess this is my new ‘normal’.

2011 was also the year for visitors by friends and family.   We had three months of house guests (Friends Darek, Andrew, Pam, and the Scanlon parents came) on top of our two months abroad and Bruce’s further two months to London and California all added up to about six months of not focusing on our Wainui and personal projects.   It was great to spend so much time with family and friends but our travels abroad were a whirlwind and I was ready and glad to get back to New Zealand in November.

In between all the visitors, we kept plodding away with our Wainui renovations.  We finished up the outbuilding early in the year having added two new bedrooms and a full bathroom/laundry room area;  we built a retaining wall and second large woodshed;  we laid a new floor and finished up my bedroom; built a tree-house; and as many of you know from my last post,  we gutted and installed a new modern kitchen.    All throughout we had our builder friend Ollie living with us.    It was the second full year of renovation work with people constantly in my space and a few times I lost it as I just couldn’t take not having much of my own ‘quiet’ time.   I am a border-line introvert and my batteries get charged from alone time which I found lacking in abundance.

Because of the never-ending-someone-is-in-my-house-all-the-time grueling schedule, we only took three wwoofers last year and it showed.   And since we are an organic permaculture property, we don’t spray herbicides or pesticides to kill weeds and invasives and instead rely heavily on human people power to work the land – pulling weeds, cutting blackberry, digging garden beds, pruning trees, etc.   And we just didn’t have the human labour resource to tackle any of these areas.

When we returned from our two-month trip abroad in November, I nearly had a heart attack when I arrived in Wainui and saw how much everything had grown.  The spring rains were plentiful which meant the spring weeds were quite bountiful.  I kicked into overdrive mowing, weeding, planting and felt like I was losing the war against the very powerful and clever mother nature.

As we rolled into December, frantically trying to get the kitchen preparations ready on top of trying to maintain the grounds for two homes, I started to feel quite demoralized.  Hence our decision to hire some help.   And now that we’ve wrapped up the main renovations at Wainui, we are beginning to claim our lives back and get onto a schedule that is more suitable to us.   I’m excited to start hosting woofers,  I’m excited to head out and enjoy summer in New Zealand,  and I’m excited to think about possible travel plans abroad for 2012.


So see ya 2011.   Bring on 2012 and all that you have to offer!