Something about 1,000 miles and one step

We took the first step our adoption journey on May 7, 2013 with a phone call and then a visit to Child Youth and Family Services NZ. 249 days later and although we have taken many steps towards our goal, it feels like we are still 1,000 miles away.

Why does the Tao Te Ching have to be so gosh darn right all the time?

For us adoption has always been something we have thought about, for reasons I may explore in another post. But when our daughter turned 6 months old we (I) decided it was time to take some concrete steps towards making it happen. So then we (I) did some calling around and signed us up for an upcoming information session about adopting in New Zealand. Maybe it was infant-induced sleep deprivation, the appeal of talking to other grown ups about something other than poop, or the lure of free cookies but we (yes, we!) were actually really excited about it.

IMG_9365Mother’s Day Hike May 2014

So on the actual night of the presentation we may have been a few minutes late. And we may have forgot to mention that we’d be bringing a 6 month old with us. And Eco-Thrifty Hubs may have had to pee like 15 times during the 90 minute presentation. And then he may have had to leave to entertain and soothe our screaming infant. Nothing like making a good first impression on the people who are going to scrutinize EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of your life to determine whether or not they will assist you to make you dream come true.

But they must have thought we had potential because we walked away with an application form and the dates of the two mandatory parenting seminars that all prospective adopting and fostering families must complete. The social worker did offer a bit of advice on our way out the door – “You might want to find a babysitter for the next session”.

We left that first session with so many questions, but I couldn’t stop smiling. The following Sunday, on Mother’s day, I wrote a   note to our child. “I have so many questions right now, but mostly I am just so happy. Happy that we have so much love in our family. Happy that we have a beautiful daughter. Happy that somewhere, somehow, out in the world, things are starting to happen that will bring you to us”.

That was 249 days ago. The first step of thousands. I’ve been dealt a reality check over the past 7 months about the excruciatingly slow pace of this process. I am still happy. I am still optimistic. But it is hard to stay patient and positive through a process filled with so many unknowns.

Mid-Summer Permaculture Update

Here are some images of our productive permaculture property during the first and second weeks of January. Highlights include our first apricots, first olives, and first kumara plants.

Beans, tomatoes, plums and apricots.
Our first pumpkins are ready.
Kumara: a new experiment.
Hiding this iron fence with driftwood.
Our first olives forming.
Agapanthus flowering everywhere.
Pears coming along. 
Monty’s Surprise apples. 
Black Boy peaches. So excited. 
A very attractive lettuce. 
Pretty cool mottling. 

Peace, Estwing

Eco Thrifty Kid #2


Happy New Year!

2014 looks like it will be a big year for us, because….We’re adopting!

We are so excited to grow our family, to become parents again, to give Verti a sibling (or two?!?). We invite you to follow along our journey as navigate the adoption process. Adoption posts will be in Eco Thrifty Baby with the label “adoption”.

Much love and happiness for your new year.

A Coastal Design Influence

I love our Whanganui coast. I take the short walk from our home to the Tasman Sea nearly every day, sometimes two, three and four times. It has gotten to the point where my wife has accused me of bringing half the coast home with me in the form of sand in my jandals and driftwood over my shoulder.
Driftwood board rack.
When I walk on the beach with my daughter, Verti, we make a special effort to pick up all of the litter we can find. By 14 months, she could spot a Cody’s can from 20 metres.
Way back before she was born, before I started writing this column, and even before our first visit from the building inspector, Dani and I embarked on our first and perhaps best beach clean-up effort. It was Christmas 2010, and a dead goat had washed up on Castlecliff Beach, where it lay sunbathing for two days at the high tide line and three metres outside of the swimming area flags.
After the first day I thought to myself, “That smells.”
After two days I thought to myself, “I can’t believe someone hasn’t removed it.”
On the third morning, I thought out loud to my wife, “Get the wheelbarrow and follow me.”
To make a long story short, we headed to the beach with the wheelbarrow, a tarp, two shovels, and a video camera. We collected the carcass and brought it home to our active compost heap. Within a week it was down to bones, but the video has yet to make it to Youtube. The “goat story”, as it has come to be known, is oft repeated when I am introduced by certain of our friends to certain of their friends.
Driftwood hat rack.
That day over three years ago was the start of my ongoing relationship with our beautiful coastal zone. Since then, the relationship has developed with every walk along the sand, every wave surfed at the North Mole, and every armful of driftwood.
In the latter stages of our renovation, driftwood has become more of a design element in our attempt to meld a classic villa with a beach bach in a way that honours both while spoiling neither. Sounds like a job for Terry Lobb, but in my unprofessional hands I think things have turned out fine.
Driftwood headboard.
Despite what my wife says, there are still some rooms in our home without driftwood, although that may not be the case much longer after my recent venture into headboard making. Previous to the headboard, my indoor driftwood projects had been limited to surfboard racks, coat/hat/key racks, children’s toys, artwork, and our Christmas tree.
Verti’s play scarves hanging in her room.
Outdoor projects are another thing entirely. I’ll get to those another day.
 Peace, Estwing

2013: Year of Eco-Thrifty

It was a close competition, and the results have been delayed, but it is finally confirmed that 2013 was the Year of Eco-Thrifty.
Runners-up include: The Year of Pete & Andy; The Year of Obama’s embarrassments; The Year of Sonny Bill; and, The Year without defeat (All Blacks).
Eco-Thrifty narrowly beat out Pete & Andy due a strong cast that included Lorde, Macklemore, and Francis (aka, ‘da pope’).
Lorde (Auckland’s Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor) became the first New Zealander to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 with her single, “Royals.” According to various sources (including Wikipedia), she wrote the song in response to the opulence celebrated in much of hip-hop and rap music, including big, expensive cars, expensive alcohol, and the obligatory “bling.”
If the lyrics in “Royals” slipped your attention, then the lyrics and beat of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop Song” surely didn’t. Although the song experienced heavy rotation on Whanganui radio for only a month or two before falling off the radar, its rotation was very heavy.
Macklemore, too, takes the piss out of consumer culture (and R. Kelly) by ridiculing those who would purchase a t-shirt for $50 (US), when one could outfit oneself from head to toe at an op shop for $20 and “look incredible.”
They be like, “Oh, that Gucci – that’s hella tight.”
I’m like, “Yo – that’s fifty dollars for a T-shirt.”
Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a T-shirt – that’s just some ignorant @#$%
This is, in my opinion, hands-down the best profanity-filled song of the millennium.
Coppin’ it, washin’ it, ’bout to go and get some compliments
Passin’ up on those moccasins someone else’s been walkin’ in
Bummy and grungy, @#$% it, man
I am stuntin’ and flossin’ and
Savin’ my money and I’m hella happy that’s a bargain, @#$%
As would be suspected from a pope, Francis sends his eco-thrifty message with less profanity, but his words have been called profane by those who wish to maintain the status quo in the Catholic Church. Gone is the opulence of previous popes, and in steps a man of humility unafraid to challenge the devastating effects of wealth inequality around the world.
Conspicuous displays of wealth are in almost every case the antithesis of eco-thrifty. Instead of the win-win-win situations I write about that save money while being good for people and the planet, I would describe them as lose-lose-lose. Specifically, opulent lifestyles often waste money while having large environmental impacts. Additionally, research shows a strong correlation between wealth inequality and social problems (The Spirit Level, Wilkinson & Pickett, 2009).
While Francis’ courage undoubtedly upsets the wealthiest 1%, it has surely boosted the morale of the poorest 50% of global citizens be they Catholic or not. It appears he has taken seriously the teachings of an earlier proponent of eco-thrifty lifestyle, Jesus, instead of embracing the power and prestige of The Church. Good on you, Frank.
And finally, the Light Bulb Moment Award for 2013 goes to the Wanganui District Council for finally recognizing that running eight light bulbs outdoors on sunny days was neither eco nor thrifty. WDC is also the recipient of the Kicking-and-Screaming Award for the same action (turning off outdoor lighting during the day) because it took over three years and four columns in the Chronicle to get Council to take action.
But as a wise person once said, “Better late than never.” Let’s hope that 2014 finds WDC coming to the table on time.
 Peace, Estwing

New Years Permaculture Update

Here are some pictures of our pumping permaculture property.

Good eats
A lettuce crop where I harvested garlic just 2 weeks ago. 
More on the vine
Bawberries, as Verti would say.
Looking forward to our first grapes this year.
Mo bawberries pwees.
Pumpkins forming.
Another cubic metre of compost.
Spuds in the ground.
“Wild” purslane.
Kittens next door.
A little colour.
Bean blossoms.
Bean blossoms.
Bean blossoms… fooled you. Apples.
Melons in the ground. Hopefully it will be hot enough for fruits to form. 
Red hot chilly peppers – blossoming.
Our first oranges.
Guava fruits forming from fertilized flowers.
Dinner tonight.
Dinner tonight.

Peace, Estwing