Treading the Hamster Wheel: Life, Volume 4, January 27 – April 12, 2007

Hamster WheelYup, lately what I’ve been feeling is akin to treading the hamster wheel. We arrived back from our one month trip on March 5th (see the last few posts about our travels) and jumped right back into a very hectic schedule. “How can that be?” I keep asking myself. I got off the working-for-the-man hamster wheel over a year ago. For god sakes, I’m not even working (he he he). I supposed to be enjoying my life of leisure (he he he). What am I doing with all my time? (he he he). Oh, after a week or two of feeling really grumpy and really over-committed, where all I wanted to do was hole up by myself and just ‘be’ and quietly work by myself on my personal projects, I had an epiphany. I finally realized that it takes as long as one was away on a trip (4 weeks) to recover from the trip (4 weeks) and get back into a normal routine. During this post-trip-recovery phase, I realized I need to not take on anything new and just deal with everything else that got ignored while travelling (200+ emails, mail, bills, the garden, and all that kind of stuff). And this seemed especially true for us, who have been non-stop on one-month-plus-long trips over the past year. As we hit our one-year-in-New-Zealand anniversary on March 2, I did a little calculating of where we’ve been this past year and it looked like this: two months on the North Island broken into two 1-month trips; six months in Christchurch broken into two 3+-month trips; one month in Europe; and three months in the US. That’s a lot of movement!

So no wonder we’re both feeling a strong need to ‘nest’ right now and get a little more settled. We’ve been uprooting ourselves every few months for well over a year. And Bruce pointed out we’ve done the seasons backwards this past year too, leaving SF at the end of winter, hitting NZ for autumn, back to Europe & the US for summer, back to NZ for spring, then summer, now autumn, then cruising back to US in June/July in time for summer again. Whoa, our bodies need to rest. They are desperately screaming for a hibernation phase!

But, alas, that’s not what’s in the cards. We are busy, busy, busy and probably will continue to be so, like, forever. That’s just how we are. And we’re now at that point where we need to start focusing forward on our upcoming trip to the States. No rest for the weary as they say. But maybe, just maybe, we will have our wish once we get back in August. We are feeling quite strongly that there’ll be no state-side visit in 2008. So if you want to see us in the flesh, you’ll just have to come to NZ!

Here’s what went down these last few weeks:

New Veggie Bed April07Veggie Garden April07

Gardening & Horticulture: Ah, we came home in early March to see our garden flourishing and the tomatoes just about ready to ripen. Everyone was talking about the ‘late season’ of the tomatoes; some people weren’t getting a harvest at all. Our tomatoes have been stellar and we’ve gotten loads of cherry, beefsteak, and heirloom black krims producing weekly for us and still going strong. The grapes ripened and we had about three weeks of lovely tasting grapes. Zucchini and celery were and are in abundance along with silverbeet and lettuce.

Tomatoes & ZucchiniTomatoesGrapes

Had my first run in with the white cabbage butterfly which is more of a problem when they’re in the caterpillar stage. They attack all the brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, kale, broccoli) and the telltale signs are the holes in the leaves, which sometimes look like someone shot some bullets through them. Holey BrassicasWell, we had a lot of ‘holey’ leaves but I didn’t know what to look for. “They’re green like the leaves,” Briar said. Well, I finally got my first caterpillar eye-opening experience when I went to clean the broccoli I harvested a few days earlier which had been in a bag in the fridge, and lo-and-behold, there were like 20 little caterpillars, still alive and munching away on my broccoli. GROSS! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyeeeeeeewwwwwww! Creepy things in my food. Okay, well, if I’m gonna have an organic spray-free garden, I need to deal with stuff like this. So, I donned my little rubber gloves, yanked and squished the caterpillars and all was good. I now have a thrice-weekly outing into the brassica patch with my gloves for ‘caterpillar-maintenance’ duty. I will not be defeated, but I do need to read up more on companion plantings and beneficial insects.

I started volunteering at the local organic community garden which is located across the street at the Uni. It’s a gorgeous thriving garden and they have working-bees on Friday afternoons from 2 –5 where students and anyone from the community can come and help out with basic gardening chores. I’ve gone three times so far and have helped with plantings, mulching, harvesting, and jam making! It’s great. And the best is that we all get to go home with food from the garden. I think the food that we’re getting between our garden and the community garden is the equivalent to about $30/week in groceries. Go us! On the path to maximizing self-sufficiency!

Botanical Gardens 2Botanical Gardens

The yard needs a lot of work now to prepare for winter. Pruning, new veggie beds, winter crop plantings, etc. We decided to go on a docent tour of the botanical gardens as I wanted to have the opportunity to chat with the docent about a number of random gardening things. Luck was on our side, as Bruce & I were the only ones who showed up that Monday morning and so we basically got a private two hour tour tailored to our desires. We chatted with the docent, Adrianne, about our interests and she took us off to areas we’d not seen before. Saw the small organic veggie garden that the Botanical Gardens Café uses (and witnessed and tasted from the wonderful chilean guava plants), perused the native tree & shrub area, and strolled through the heirloom rose garden. We talked about seed saving, pruning, and a host of other horticulture related topics. A most excellent use of our time!

We also spent a lovely day at the Purau Harvest Festival. A friend turned us on to the event which was located in the tiny hamlet of Purau, situated on the south-eastern side of Lyttleton Harbour. The day featured various property tours and workshops put on by the handful of families in Purau. We got to tour a very, very nice organic/permaculture property; got a lecture and tour of a woman’s chook (chicken) ‘farm’ – she had something like 30 chooks and sold their eggs at the local market; and toured an olive grove property. All very informative and very insightful.

Hilltop CafePicking Pears

Hospitality & Spirituality: There never seems to be a lack of friends, new and old, travelling through New Zealand. DG’s parents, Don and Anne from the Bay Area, came through town for a few nights at the tail end of their south island tour. We had a fantastic two days with them, eating at one of our new favorite spots (Under The Red Verandah Café), picking pears, and touring around the Banks Peninsula, stopping at my favorite scenic vista spot – The Hilltop Café – for a cuppa and a gorgeous view of the peninsula.

Bruces42Shameless Heather

Bruce’s 42nd birthday occurred a week ago. The birthday weekend was filled with love, lots of phone calls from our Bay Area pals and a lot of dancing. We kicked off the birthday weekend by going to a friend’s (Grants) dj gig at the Foam Bar, where we boogied to house and breaks. We had a dinner party here at the house and another new friend from the Bay Area, Shameless Heather, whom we met via Tribe and who is a fellow Burner and freestyler, rocked in Bruce’s birthday on the mike with some serious rappin! Way cool!

Furthering our interest and curiosity in the alternative healing genre, we ended up hosting a full day workshop at our house for Sion, an amazing Shaman/healer/channeler whom we met at the Convergence Festival. The title of the workshop was called “Connecting To One’s Enlightened Self’ and during the course of this day, Sion chatted on this and that, led us through a fairly intense channeling exercise, and guided us through a lovely one hour meditation and deeksha. It’s been two weeks and I really have felt much more energized since then. Bruce has an interest in getting into the publishing business, publishing content from workshops such as this. Sion agreed to be recorded and Bruce has now got seven hours of material to work with. He recently was given some editing software and so now a portion of his focus is to finish packaging up this first workshop recording and get it distributed to the participants.

Personal Development: {see next post}

Whew, no wonder I’m exhausted!

I did come across some good advice from a friend of a friend on her blog and it went like this: Stick a post-it on your mirror, with “Are you enjoying yourself?” written on it. Give yourself cause to ask yourself this question on a daily or weekly or whenevery basis. It’s like a check-in. Are you enjoying yourself? (thanks Tats!)

Good reminder! After a week of not-so-much-going-on, I am feeling a bit calmer about stuff. I am starting to enjoy myself more. I’m determined to get off that wheel!