Stuff I have found whilst looking around

Two New Zealanders have devised an ultra run on the border of Southland and Otago that they claim is too hard for anyone to finish. They call it 'The Revenant'.

Lucy AitkenRead writes about activism, and the importance of 4 R's as she calls it, to be able to continue activism, rather than flying high for a little and then burning out. 

Dr George Blair-West says that in successful, long-lasting marriages partners have as many negative interactions as the unsuccessful marriages. The difference is that, unlike their divorced counterparts, successful marriage partners make consistent repair attempts and amends to create positive interactions. Also, the older people are when they get married, the more likely the marriage is to last - it's an almost direct correlation. 

Bob Borson writes about how to get a job in an architect's office, but I think his advice can be applied to almost any field where people work in an office. 

Installing a rainwater harvesting tank

Another project has rolled in. It's not that other projects are finished - this house will never be "finished", I think - but the water tank we bought a while ago has arrived, and so we are in the planning stages of setting it up.

It's a 1000-litre Devan tank in grey. Currently gracefully on its side next to the trampoline :)

To those of you interested, its capacity is exactly the same as the white 'cube' tank next to it: a thousand litres.

Once set up, it will go in front of the house where water will be used for gardening. You see that white downpipe in the corner of our house? That. We'll connect the tank to that downpipe.

Once set up, the tank will be almost the same grey colour as the windowsill next to it.

Sticks are piled in the corner to discourage our neighbour's cat from using that are as his toilet. Bloody cheeky creature!

Planter-boxes in various stages of setup: back one established, middle one just filled with compost (and some kale which, turns out, does not like to be transplanted) and front one being base-filled with hedge clippings before compost comes in.

Today me and my husband had a laborious (but necessary) discussion over setting-up details. This ensued:

Because that specific downpipe drains the smallest are of our roof (only about 20 m2), we discussed whether we are 1) better off putting the tank elsewhere, or 2) changing the gutters slightly to increase the drainage area, but in the end... we left it as it is. We will need water in front of the house, and there are electricity / sewage / water service lines running elsewhere in the front yard - on top of which, ahem!, it's better to not put 1 tonne of weight - so although our drainable roof area will only be 20 m2... it'll have to do.

Over a year, that downpipe receives more than 23,000 litres of water (Invercargill has 1,150 mm of rain annually). We won't collect all of it, of course, because 1) we will 'lose' some water to first-flush-diverting (I'll explain in a minute), 2) in summertime, the tank will run dry because we will use water faster than rain can replenish the tank, and 3) in wintertime the tank will overflow because there is more rain than we need - but for the moment, it'll just have to do. We just need to start somewhere.

We don't expect to use this water for drinking. However: we are putting in place some precautions so that, if need be, the water can be drunk. (Especially if it gets treated or filtered with camping equipment afterwards.) The precautions are:

* 20-litre first flush diverter which will 'siphon off' first 20 litres of any rainfall that comes down our gutters. (First water is always the dirtiest because it brings with it dust, bird poop and other cr#p! that lays on the roof.) Once the 20-litre mark is full, cleaner water will flow towards the downpipe.
* Another debris-filter as part of the water diverter: it removes sticks, leaves and other larger items before the water can flow towards the tank.

The tank is made of dark, thick plastic, so it will not receive sunlight and therefore, won't have algal growth inside it, but once a year, it'll be good to have it cleaned. There are access hatches at the top.

We will need to construct a small concrete base for it to sit on. As projects go, we will probably encounter problems as we undertake this work, but... also, as projects go, we will get it done. Eventually :)

"Where's the hacksaw?" he said

I don't know if you're familiar with this game - but if you are, the photos will probably give you a very good idea of the sorts of emotions my husband is going through at the moment :D

Setup number 77, if you're interested.

Why it's not possible to tickle oneself - and other interesting brain-related topics

Cathy Stinear explains why it's not possible to tickle oneself - except in certain cases where people have schizo-related brain disorders. They, in fact, can tickle themselves!


For more interesting lectures on interesting topics, please check out RNZ's Raising the Bar series.

A paint revolution. Sort of.

This story is too funny to not share.

This afternoon I heard someone call out from the front yard, "Hello?" A young family came closer and introduced themselves. They'd been walking past, they said, and when they saw our house, they loved how colorful it was. They'd been meaning to paint their house, too, but they hadn't been able to figure out what color exactly - until today, because seeing our house gave them the inspiration on what colors to use on theirs! 

Three planter-boxes are up now, still needing to be oiled and filled with compost. The house also needs some more painting (window sills, window top coats, rafter ends etc) and plaster/brick repairs, but for the most part, we're getting there. We're getting there!

We talked for a while, I showed them our paint swatches. Then, as they showed me photos of their house, it dawned on me: they live in the house that WE ALMOST bought 2 years ago. They're two streets away, in a very similar brick bungalow built just 3 years after our house was built: theirs is 91 years old. And! Their house also has timber boards on the gable end, so now they want to paint their gable end in rainbow-coloured stripes!

They are planning to start painting within the next 2 weeks. I look forward to seeing what they do, and I am also chuckling to myself that the old locals are probably going to think, "What is going on!?!" 

Funny. Just too funny!

How does that saying go? Grandmothers, love your granddaughters, because they'll revenge your daughters? Something like that.

It made me laugh out loud when I heard a lady describe her daughter as, "If you threw her in the river, she would float upstream." . Apparently, her daughter is opinionated and argumentative.

I have a feeling that in about 10 years time, I may use that sentence for a relative of mine who is, at the moment, 4 years old.


A rhythm of a house repair process

Another evening spent applying window putty to another set of windows.

We have a lot of windows, that's my opinion at the mo.

My dog does not eat, what?

Turns out, there are (there are!) things that Labrador retrievers don't eat.


We were chopping up greens for a salad today and a piece of fresh coriander landed on the floor. My husband called my dog - she's a bit like a vacuum cleaner in our house, and very efficient one at that - but instead of scooping it up (like she does everything else that lands on the floor), she sniffed it, pushed it aside and... went back in the living room.

Both me and my husband were, like, oh. My. God.

Look, my dog eats toenails, flies and linseed oil. Last week, she even ate a plaster that fell off my son's scratched finger.

But she won't eat coriander. Wow.

PS. Last week I visited Auckland for a couple of days, so my friend took care of our dog whilst we were away. Incidentally, she also had her daughter's Labrador retriever there at the same time, so she basically had two Labrador retrievers.

Well, let's put it this way... she no longer has any edible strawberries in her garden. One afternoon, she said, she looked out the window and both dogs were in her garden, riffling through strawberry plants. They didn't touch any green berries, but apparently they did a really good job of 'vacuuming out' every strawberry that had even a hint of pink on it.

Labs, eh.

PPS. Last week we walked up Omaui hill track again and blackberries are ripening alongside the track nicely.

If she could, my dog would've, no doubt, eaten them. But unfortunately blackberries have thorns on them, so you really need fingers to get the berries off the plants.

Sorry dog. I'm sure there will be plenty other edible things you'll come across in your life.

My husband and my daughter rifling through blackberry plants

View from atop Omaui hill track towards Barracuda Point below