Out of the Little Home for a few hours

For the last week life has pretty much consisted of work, 12 – 14 hours a day of it!

We received an email from the Uni’s  IT department a few days ago saying they were – quote “struggling with the complexity of the problem”.

This of course means we’re back on track to continue with the job.

Kerrie, as usual was right – no need to be frustrated or get stressed.

Today we decided to have a bit of a break and drove to Melton, about 10 minutes from here.

Melton is a bustling town and really quite pleasant although it seems to be thought of as the Inala of Melbourne.

We can definitely say we’ve seen a lot worse places here than Melton.

We got some chips for lunch from what must have been the cleanest, friendliest Fish and Chip shop in Melbourne.

We visited the Tasman meat market with an awesome range of meats and fish, and much other produce, all at very reasonable prices.

We also found a fruit and vege market where we picked up the largest juiciest oranges imaginable for 60c a kilo.

We found a pleasant place to have a coffee and while sitting there I was intrigued by a lady I spotted sitting not far away.

She had the most amazing expression seemingly permanently fixed on her face.

It was an expression that seemed to advertise that she had a massive haemorrhoid, an anal fissure, cramp, arthritis, a headache and a cold all at the same time.

Her mouth was downturned into a fearsome scowl that would make the toughest man amongst us cringe in fear.

She was probably a really nice lass, I only observed what the exterior was shouting to the world.

I drew the Princess’ attention to the lady and after a short conversation about possible causes for the pained and angry scowl I stupidly remarked that she, (The Princess), sometimes scowled, particularly when she was deep in thought and miles away in her thinking.

Well, this resulted in the entire remainder of the day being spent trying not scowl.

I would be talking normally to her when suddenly her eyes would pop open, she would put on this most unusual smile, raise her eyebrows and generally look like someone had just jammed a needle full of LSD into her bum.

“What on earth’s the matter”, I said when the phenomenon first occurred.

“I’m just trying not to scowl!” she says.

After roaring with laughter my reply was, “Please go back to scowling”!

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We were so gratified to read an article from one of our favourite Bloggers, Chris Martenson, on how he makes his own biodiesel. What was amazing to us is that this is exactly what we have planned to do once we get our own property and I had no idea he was already doing it.

Chris designed the amazing free online “Crash Course” that, for us, has long been one of the foundations for our world view.

It was lovely to get a call and a great catch up from Nola and Lloyd last night on Skype as well as a long conversation with Emily.

We miss you all!

Nothin’s ever easy!

I had the feeling yesterday that we were no longer “staying in Melbourne for a while” as part of our journey but rather we were lingering in a sort of never ending waiting game. To add to the frustration the major player is off somewhere playing another game!

Our University client is hopelessly lost when it comes to knowing what they need to do to understand their space usage.

After the elation we felt the other day of being able to get them to see the problem and how we can solve it, we now feel the frustration as they revert back to stumbling around in the problem again. They’ve allowed the cloud of complexity to again obscure the answer.

They are jumping on perceived solutions from people within the organisation who have proven over the last year that they don’t understand the problem properly and therefore will never arrive at a solution.

I was ready to just call them and say, “Guys, we’re outa here. Call us when and if you need us!” We would then spend 20 minutes hooking up and within an hour Melbourne and the University would be nothing more than an ever diminishing vision in the rear view mirror.

Kerrie was not of the same mind!

She just calmly carried on work and every time I would get frustrated she just calmly stated that God had us there for a reason and just trust Him not the University.

Now Kerrie is just as anxious as me to continue the journey, especially as she now has an added incentive to move on – MICE.

You all know how Kerrie just abhors even the thought of them. The one thing that really makes her lose control is the site of a mouse.

She thoroughly and completely detests them more than anything else on the planet.

The van park here has a mini mouse plague.

Poor Kerrie seems to encounter one of the hated things every time she treks to the dunny and it litterally turns her into a shivering shaking wreck.

To top it off we had one of our beautiful (and expensive) micro fibre towels stolen from the clothes line.

Add the dull, grey chilly whether to this and yes, Kerrie wants to move just as much as me.

But she believes God’s got us here for a reason and we’ll stay till that reason is fulfilled – end of story!

Through it all, while my face twists into a reflection of my inner frustration, her face always retains a smiling, calm and contented acceptance  even when a mouse gives her the opportunity to start packing up.

So good folks, it’s back to taking it “One Day At A Time” and simply doing the best possible job we can (as if we were doing it for God, not the University) and just continuing to work till we get His go ahead to move on.

On  a brighter note…

We did have a win with another of our University clients yesterday when we were able to remotely solve  a problem for them and OF COURSE…

QUEENSLANDER!!!!!!!

Another stirring win for Queensland in the State of Origin.

Poor Kerrie was embarrasssed as she tried to control my whoops of delight everytime Queensland were in possession and my derogatory remarks at every NSW play.

I miss being at the Stadium to watch the game, especially with Emily.

Reflections on a marriage

I hope you guys won’t mind a bit of sentimental guff!

Kerrie and I have been working for about 12 hours straight today to get a head start on this university stuff we talked about yesterday.

Apart from a shower and the odd dunny run we have been no more than 6 feet apart all day.

It got me to thinkin’…

We have now been living in our little home for over 5 months and apart from the rare occasions that Kerrie may go get her hair done or I may go for a walk by myself, we have been no more than 10 feet apart for all that time.

If there was ever an opportunity for the old saying, “familiarity breeds contempt” to be proven correct our situation would be it.

This simply has not happened.

In fact it is quite the contrary.

Even after such a close one to one existence I am still excited by and in awe of this woman who I’m sharing this experience with.

Ain't Love Grand

Ain’t Love Grand

I still discover new things about her every day and when I ponder on the way she dedicates herself to me I still can’t believe it. Everything thing she does seems to be motivated by what I would like or what’s best for me or how it would affect me.

I don’t expect her to do this, she just does it!

I definitely don’t give this dedication back but that never seems to matter to her.

It’s never a “keeping score” thing with Kerrie.

We seem to think of the same things, often at the same time – it’s sort of weird and yet at the same time reassuring and comforting.

Of all the great people I see as my heroes in life, of all the inspiring acts of human endeavour and all the stories of love and dedication between humans, none is greater to me than the presence of this woman in my life.

I remember when I was at sea in my earlier working life.

After a week or so living in close proximity to others everyone would be emotionally sensitive.

Sometimes, sitting in the mess room of a ship, you would get irritated at the way someone would hold their knife and fork. You could just about punch someone out for some totally minor habit or personality trait that just got right up your nose.

With Kerrie this just doesn’t happen.

On the odd occasion that these things occur they just never seem to be big enough to cause concern.

The bible talks of a marriage as being not as two separate people but as one composite unit.

In a “Biblical Marriage”, both parties retain absolute individuality, stay totally unique, have their own visions and goals and yet there is this great mystery that the two have become one. It’s so astoundingly beautiful. It’s something that is very obviously common whenever you study two people that have a successful marriage.

I think it’s the only type of relationship that could be successful in this close living lifestyle.

Business in Melbourne

Well, after 3 weeks of trying to get the solution that our University clients require we came to a decision.

It’s a bit “make or break” for us really but at least it will give us a clear indication of our next move – either we stay in Melbourne for a few more weeks or we get back on the road again.

Our clients want us to paint a clear picture for them of their current space usage and what new buildings they may need to build over the next 10 years to accomodate their expected growth. They don’t know how many millions they might need to spend because they don’t know what space they may require.

We can show them this very accurately.

Trouble is in order to show them we need accurate current data relating to enrolments and their allocations of classes to lectures etc for those enrolments.

This is where the problem occurs as the data they’ve supplied us has many errors which, if we were to use, would destroy the integrety of anything we show them and render it usless.

Unfortunately it is very difficult to communicate to people at higher levels of management exactly where the problem is in the supplied data. There are well over 1,000,000 individual records that make up this data and each record is quite complex.

We can fix this!

To do this we need about a month working directly at the uni with their enrolment software and it means we need to create a new purpose built program that can process the millions of peices of data in the way that’s needed.

So we’ve called a meeting with the management and we’re going make an all out attempt to lay it all out as straight as we can and get them to see their problem accurately and honestly and then offer them the solution.

We needed to get them to see the problem

We needed to get them to see the problem

This meeting was today.

We took the train from Melton into Victoria Station and a tram to the city centre.

Mingling with all the suits, high rise buildings, coifured hair, and expensive aftershave in the middle of what is perhaps Australia’s business mecca is usually very daunting for me as I feel so out of place.

It’s never bothered Kerrie – just me. I feel inadequate somehow.

This didn’t happen this time!

We were both confident and prepared and as we waited for our appointment time in a comfortable, warm nook at the giant Melbourne Post Office and pulled out the laptop to go over our samples we had prepared one more time.

Kerrie looked beautiful, business like and smart and did not display the least bit of nervousness. This was very stabilising for me.

We entered the conference in the top floor of a building overlooking Melbourne and simply put our case as best we could.

We consider the meeting was a fantastic success because we actually managed to make all present see the problem.

They saw it clearly for the first time! They now understand why they have struggled with this for over 12 months before calling us.

They have yet to let us know if they want us to continue but frankly we don’t care either way. The point is we were just so happy we were able to display the reality to them.

After the meeting we shared the lift to the ground floor with the Head of Department of the uni who’s comments to us were great!

Now we wait, hopefully no longer than Monday or Tuesday, for their decision on how to proceed.

If they want us to continue we’ll move the little home into a really nice van park we’ve found closer to the Uni and the City. If they don’t we’ll finish the bits and peices we’re doing for them and get back on the road, visit Cooba Peedy (Kerries lifelong dream), and then proceed to Darwin via Alice Springs.

The Exploring Spirit is returning

When we first decided to hit the road round Australia one of the main reasons was to discover and learn about self sufficiency and home food production, particularly hydroponics before we again put our roots down and develop what will be our “Final Garden”.

We had studied a particular type of hydroponic system a few years ago and we thought it would be the “mother of all systems”. It was an Aussie invention called the Auto Pot system.
As it was rather expensive we did not get to the point of trialling it at that stage.

Well the retail outlet for this system is here in Melbourne not far from St Kilda at Braeside so we decided to go over for a look.

What we found was truly fascinating and may have changed our whole outlook on the design of our future hydroponics set up.

Many of the negatives that we had accepted we would need to live with such as pumps running dry, rain diluting nutrient, power failure destroying the crop, needing to be on site continually etc., are eradicated with this system.

Full sized Olive trees growing in hydropinics

Full sized Olive trees growing in hydropinics

Although more expensive to set up it really is an “Auto system” with an efficiency far beyond what we were doing.

Oranges and Mandarins - healthy with abundant fruit

Oranges and Mandarins – healthy with abundant fruit

Here at the Garden World complex hundreds of different varieties of plants are growing using this method all being fed from a single very small reservoir and pump which is solar powered and having the nutrients mixed automatically.

They are growing full sized Olive trees, Bananas, Sweet potatoes, Water melons Baracoa, Asparagus, Oranges, Mandarins, Raspberries, ginger, and most every variety of household Veges including Carrots and Potatoes.

The tomatoes are exquisite, huge and with none of the massive root problems we encountered.

Plump, large omatoes without the massive roots that ours had

Plump, large omatoes without the massive roots that ours had

And flowers! Flowers of very colour and variety.

Chillies growing how we originally planned but theirs are succesful

Chillies growing how we originally planned but theirs are succesful

The huge choice of system configurations and growing choices is wayyyyy beyond our up to now limited vision of our own setup.

Kerrie and I were so exited at this place. We spent hours here learning and talking to the most helpful expert who has his own self sufficient hydroponics property using this system.

Snow Peas and every possible variety of household vege

Snow Peas and every possible variety of household vege

He even makes his own Pinot Noir from his hydroponic grapes.
We thought we had learned a bit about hydroponics but this chaps suggestions and advice definitely relegate us to the rank amateur status.

This visit completely changes the size and type of property we thought we would need. It would enable us to do all we want on a very small piece of land.

We have also spoken to a commercial hydropincs tomato and strawberry farmer from Point Lonsdale and he has kindly agreed to give us a tour of his farm next Sunday Morning. We are so looking forward to it.

We talked well into the night about the possibilities.
It is so good to get back that old enthusiasm!

Let’s get away for a while

Well we’ve been “holed up” in the little home for a week now and apart from the occasional visit to the Uni in Melbourne our path has been basically from the toilet block to the van.

The days have pretty much consisted of a few hours work then a few hours sleep.

I like to listen to Chuck Missler on my ipod sometimes when I’m in bed but I must have rolled over on it and I wrecked the selector wheel, so we found this chap in Box Hill in the city that could fix it.

We decided to take a trip over there and use the opportunity to get out of the house for a while and do some exploring.

Just being on the road again, even if it was only for a few hours, was a  jolly good feeling and we both felt our spirits lift as we travelled around the pretty suburb of Box Hill and then headed toward the Mornington peninsular.


View Larger Map
After travelling for an hour and after passing through 10 (yes 10) tolls, we arrived at Sorrento.

What a beautiful little place.

We wandered out onto a long pier that stretched over magnificent crystal clear water, watched a ferry come and go and talked to a local fisherman.
It was just very pleasant and even the cold bite of a strong wind could not dampen the prettiness of the surrounds.

We headed on to Portsea and down to Point Nepean which is the point where Port Philip bay opens to the sea and where all shipping passes on route to Port Melbourne.

Looking to the heads of Port Philip Bay

Looking to the heads of Port Philip Bay

Here we discovered more extremely beautiful spots particularly at the old jetty built in 1879 to bring livestock from ships to the quarantine station.

The remains of the quarantine jetty buikt in the 1850s

The remains of the quarantine jetty buikt in the 1850s

The colours of the sea and sky were as spectacular here as we’d seen anywhere.
We would have loved to have walked the extra 4 km to the point where the old fort is situated but even this .5km walk took its toll on our flu ridden bodies.

We drove back to Melbourne along the Mornington Peninsular coastal road and passed mile after mile of beautiful beaches, magnificent houses and hundreds of “Beach Boxes”.

Hundreds of "Beach Boxes" on the shoreline

Hundreds of “Beach Boxes” on the shoreline

These are fascinating little buildings stretching for miles along the Peninsular beaches right on the waterline.
Most are about the size of a single garage and they seem to have been built in the 40s or 50s.
Some are painted in vibrant colours, some even have little patios.
Originally built as change rooms or to store small boats they first began to appear on the beaches in the early to mid-1800s, when they were used as private changing rooms. Many of the beach boxes have been in the same family for years and, are apparently very highly sought after.
They are unique and fascinating.

We stopped at Mt Martha where talked to a local about the area and then drove past more fascinating scenery through Mornington, Frankston, Seaford and Mordialloc before branching inland towards St Kilda.

By the time we hit St Kilda back in the city it was dark but we were both so happy that we took the time to get out today as it bought back some of the great affinity we had towards Melbourne after the last time we were here. These feelings had started to wane over the last week as a result of the dismal weather, the stark sameness of the van park and the flu.

Well we’re not dead yet, but feel like it.

We sleep most of the day.

We sleep most of the day.

The cold turned into the flu officially. We managed to visit a doctor in Melton to confirm our fears. Poor Chris has been hit the hardest.

With still delicate ribs from his dumperster diving, having a coughing fit sends his pain threshold skyward. Add that to delivering the third of the Kidney stones. (we assume due to the blood & pain) and we both look like the living dead.
We come out of hiding to walk to the toilet then head back to our little home to pass out for another couple of hours. The weather here is miserable with rain everyday and temp in the low double figures to single figures. Our little heater goes 24/7 at the moment.
When Chris is conscious he is getting a lot of work done on the web. This has proved a valuable time for getting the finer details organised. On the other hand we are still working out the Uni problems, but that is proving an upward battle. We have now visited them 3 times with another visit scheduled tomorrow trying to obtain information that other Uni’s take for granted. Everyone we speak to says they’ll have to talk to someone else to get that bit of information Ahhhhhh! ACU’s not looking to bad after all.
The sooner we an get this information we might be able to stay somewhere that is warmer, then send the information back to the company. We can only hope.

Why do we Blog?

Why do we Blog?

We ask ourselves this question from time to time.

Who reads it anyway, and why?

We can’t answer those questions but the number of times people have commented that “I saw that on your blog” or  “It’s been a while since you wrote on the blog” keeps us writing about some of the things we do.

Blogging’s time-consuming, that’s for sure, but even if no one at all reads it – we read it.

I’ve always kept a journal of our family holidays and those books are sitting in a packing box somewhere in the storage shed.
The blog is a lot easier to read than paper journals and it’s wonderful to reminisce and appreciate the memories in the images and the old journals never quite capture that. I’m sure there is a snapshot somewhere in an old photo album of the kids fishing or swimming in a creek but I can’t find it.

Between us, Chris and I have 7 kids, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, brothers, sisters and friends, most of whom keep up with us via the blog.

The blog’s changed appearance a few times with different layouts and features added and it’s all been great practice for me to be involved and learn some new skills such as basic web design, HTML and CSS.

So behind the scenes, I’ve built this.
There was no great rush, I could work out problems by myself which is always the best way to learn. And if the blog site went down because of a mistake I made, it was no big deal. There was no pressure.

So whether anyone reads the blog or not we’ll continue to write it, even if it ends up just continuing to bring back memories for us in our old age.

 

I did not know Seve Ballesteros

I did not personally know Seve Ballesteros the great gentleman golfing legend.

I did not know Seve Ballesteros

I did not know Seve Ballesteros

Nor did I know Lionel Rose the great Aussie boxing legend.

Yet, like many others (including some of my dearest friends) these two people have taught me a great lesson in life.

They have confirmed to me the importance of giving life your best shot while you can.

They have inserted a gigantic exclamation mark on my belief that it is less important to get everything you do right and more important to give it a go while you still can.

You see both these great men died this week and both men went to their eternity at an early age.

Seve Ballesteros died at the far too early age of 54, but he had been very sick since 2008 when he was diagnosed with Brain Cancer.

Lionel Rose died yesterday at age 62 (two years older than me) but he also suffered a long illness.

So many people fling out the line “Well you never know when your time is up”, but few really ponder on their own mortality and the fact that no matter how you live life, good or bad, no matter what mountains you climb, small or gigantic, no matter how healthy you are, well or poorly, you absolutely will face eternity.

I discovered this personally many, many years ago when it really hit me that I have a finite timeline and I have almost no control of it.

I realised that one day, a day much like today perhaps, I will awake and it will be my last day in this earthly realm and I have no knowledge or control of when that day will be. Maybe it is today?

I realised that answering the question of life and death and what happens after death was the single most important quest of my life and I simply could not afford to be wrong.

Every high falu’tin concept of life, every plucked out of the air philosophy, every belief of every person I met would mean absolutely nothing on that day if I was wrong!

I also realised that this situation where I was completely out of control of my mortality affected everything I did NOW!

It has caused me to ask myself many times over the years, “What if today were ‘The Day’ – have I been living life to the fullest that’s possible for me?

Will God say the words to me that I long to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant…” or will I hear the sentence dreaded for an eternity, “I never knew you, depart from me”.

Have I been too afraid of my shadow to try something new and exciting?

Have I sought after safety and comfort over risk and therefore missed out on the exuberance and excitement of trying something new?

Have I let past failures, disappointments and the misfortunes that have befallen others stop me from trying my best and exploring the possibilities?

As I sit here in Melbourne in the miserable rainy, cold weather with both of us suffering from full on mega colds I realise that in my own way I am pushing the boundaries.

I walk onto the University campus among 20,000 students (all much more intelligent than me). I walk through huge buildings over many acres of grounds and I meet with people with the most impressive degrees, and yet I know that in the face of all this they asked US to help them. Us – who live an old caravan with a couple of laptops, no particular skills, little education but a big desire to do our best in life.

I look at Kerrie sleeping and realise the great gift of human love that I have been blessed with.

I look at the 6 months we have lived in our little home and how it has taken us to amazing places.

Its then that I realise that while the mountains we climb may be small compared to others they are OUR mountains and God has set them before us and so we will climb them as far to the top as we can in the time we have.

Both got coughs and colds

It seems like everyone in Melbourne has a cough or a cold and now we are no exception. We have had “throat tickles” for a few days but now the colds have arrived. Kerrie especially is quite crook.

We revisited the university today to try to get the data they have given us sorted out.

We can’t get them the solution they need until we have the correct data and its proving difficult to get.

The people at the uni are lovely, can’t do enough to help and willing to do anything we need to sort things out.

Kerrie was wonderful at the meeting today and it was great to see her intimate knowledge of University timetabling and enrolments shining through. It made it obvious to everyone in the meeting that she knew what she was talking about and this in turn I think endeared us to the staff as well as encouraged them to help us. I think they realise that in helping us create the solution they need we would in turn be helping them to run their departments better.

Not much else to report today just work really. We are hoping to see a bit of Melbourne tomorrow.