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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why Nelligen? Why not?


Some people ask me why I retired at Nelligen, to which I reply, "Why not?" (I sometimes ask myself why I retired, full-stop, but that's a different story altogether.)

It all started in Canberra while I was still running my small computer consultancy Canberra Computer Accounting Systems and dabbling in tax and accounting work on the side. After I had solved a tax problem for a German friend, Tony Finsterer, for which I refused payment, he insisted that I stay at his weekend cottage at Nelligen.

For several months, I didn't find the time to drive to the coast. When I eventually did I had almost forgotten Tony's offer. Luckily, I didn't blink as I drove across the Nelligen bridge on the way to Batemans Bay and so spotted this tiny village nestled alongside the Clyde River.

I asked for directions to Tony's cottage at the General Store and was shown to # 21 Sproxton Lane across the river. (Tony has since died and his cottage has changed hands twice and is again for sale.)

The cottage was locked and Tony in Canberra. I phoned him and was told to look for the keys under the watertank and to make myself at home. Which I did and which set me on my own quest to find a little place in Nelligen.

At the time, Nelligen was a place forgotten even by real estate agents and nothing was for sale except a few empty building blocks. One such block overlooked the Clyde River from its location in Nelligen Place. I could imagine sitting there on the verandah and taking in the views. Which is exactly what a chap was doing just two blocks away. I walked up and asked if I could join him.

Soon we were not only sharing the same views but also memories of people and places we both had known as "Sandy" Sandilands and his wife Betty had also lived and worked on Thursday Island and in Rabaul in New Guinea. I felt at home at once! A few weeks later I was the proud owner of a block of land in Nelligen Place!

I wanted to build a beautiful little Classic Country Cottage. However, a retired public servant who occupied a small log cabin next to me did what public servants do: be a pain in the coccyx ! He objected to my building plans - TWICE! - on some obscure grounds. This delayed me long enough to find a much better place across the river. And that's how I came to buy "Riverbend"!

"Riverbend" had been auctioned in August 1992. I went to the auction as a spectator knowing that the reserve price was outside my range. It must have been outside everybody else's as well because it didn't sell. More than a year later, in November 1993, the owners accepted my much-reduced offer. The rest, as they say, is history!

(Oh, and I did go back to thank the public servant for objecting to my plans so that I could buy this much better and bigger and waterfront property. Last time I looked his mouth was still open!)

"Riverbend" has been my home now for over 17 years. As they say, there's no place like home and, as evidenced by the tee-shirt, Nelligen is right up there with every other great metropolis.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

And the beat goes on

The balcony's new handrails are well on the way but the work had to stop when I discovered that Cameron's Hardware had short-delivered the 90x30mm Design Pine horizontal rails by 54 metres.

While waiting for the timber - they've just phoned to say they are out of stock and cannot deliver until next week - , I got the lofty idea of building a loft inside the horseshed-sans-horses to house my armada of small boats.


And while the fires were raging to burn off all that Black Wattle, I also knocked together a small jetty for the small pond.


On Golden Pond - with no Doug McKeon to disturb the tranquillity!

After that Herculean effort, I was just a shadow of my former self ...

For the worn out and rapidly ageing real me, click on image

... and went indoors for dinner and the evening news.

P.S. My Fire Permit requires that " ... at least one person shall be present at the site of the fire from the time it is lit until such time as it is extinguished." Well, the fires kept burning through the night so guess who rolled out his swag and catnapped by the horseshed all night?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Outdoor chess anybody?

Well, you may have to wait a bit because, although I have the chessboard set up, I am still deliberating if I should splurge on these 60 cem high chess pieces or wait until I find something a bit cheaper on ebay. You may use the time to brush up on the rules of the game .

In the meantime, work goes on with the renovation of the balcony.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Alcoholics Unanimous

To get me through the day (and through the bottle), I have joined Alcoholics Unanimous: if I don't feel like a drink, I ring another member and they come over to persuade me.

Trail's end indeed!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Like the good little Hun that I am ...

... I have been doing a lot of slashing and burning over the last few days. Unlike the Huns of old who attacked the Roman Empire, I have been targeting Acacia melanoxylon, commonly known as "Black Wattle".

I've so far cleared two acres and will attack the remaining five after a bit of a snooze in the hammock. As for the pillaging and raping ...

P.S. To all you tree-huggers: if left unchecked, the self-seeding and rapidly growing Black Wattle will drive out everything else and leave a wooded desert where nothing grows and nothing lives. Here is a patch I had left unchecked for a couple of seasons:

Another silent killer of biodiversity is Pittosporum undulatum which is also on my hit-list as it is widely spread across the property.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

This sums it up nicely!

'As you know, the world is urgently trying to make sense of our "global economy" and its arcane trends.

As financial temples teeter, the priesthood is scrambling, to maintain our confidence in markets and banking.

After derivatives, quantitative easing, trade imbalances, recession, low GDP, nations close to collapsing and subprime loans, foreclosed homes and peoples' taxes spent to bail out too-big-to-fail triple-A banks again.

Fear levels rising as a US crash seems imminent, having smashed the debt ceiling of fourteen trillion.

Despite protests and clashes in Athens' streets the IMF imposed structurally unjust programs in Greece.

Where, in fact, the term "economy" entered our language from the Greek "oikonomia", meaning "household management".

Well, how are we managing? Theories abound, but in practice, does anyone actually know what the hell's even happening?'

A deceptively simple philosophy

I have been working on and refining it for most of my life. I am delighted to say that I believe I have refined it down to its essence - sufficiently to share it with a select band of friends that may appreciate its elegance and simplicity.

Red House

Red House, out of your small garden and vineyard all the southern Alps breathe to me. I have walked past you several times, and even the first time my wanderlust was sharply reminded of its opposite pole; and once again I toy with the old refrain: to have a home, a little house in a green garden, stillness everywhere, a village below me. In a little room facing east my bed would stand, my own bed; in another little room facing south, my table; and there I would hang up a small, ancient Moadonna which I bought on an earlier journey, in Brescia.

Like the day between morning and evening, my life falls between my urge to travel and homesickness. Maybe some day I will have come far enough for travel and distances to become part of my soul, so that I will have their images within me, without having to make them literally real any more. Maybe I will also find that secret home within me where there will be no more flirting with gardens and little red houses. To be at home with myself!

How different life would be! There would be a centre, and out of that centre all forces would reach.

But there is no centre in my life; my life hovers between many poles and counterpoles. A longing for home here, a longing for wandering there. A longing for loneliness and cloister here, and an urge for love and community there. I have collected books and paintings and given them away. I have cultivated voluptuousness and vice, and renounced them for asceticism and penance. I have faithfully revered life as substance, and then realised that I could recognise and love life only as a function.

But it is not my concern to change myself. Only a miracle could do that. And whoever seeks a miracle, whoever grasps at it, whoever tries to assist it, sees it fleeing away. My concern is to hover between many extreme opposites and to be ready when a miracle overtakes me. My concern is to be unsatisfied and to endure restlessness.

Red house in the green! I have already lived through you, I can't go on living through you. I have already had a home, I have built a house, measured walls and roof, laid out paths in the garden, and hung my own walls with my own pictures. Every person is driven to do the same - I am happy that I have once lived this way. Many of my desires in life have been fulfilled. I wanted to be a poet, and became a poet. I wanted to have a house, and built one. I wanted to have a wife and children, and had them. I wanted to speak to people and impress them, and I did so. And every fulfillment quickly became satiety. But to be satisfied was the very thing I could not bear. Poetry became suspect to me. The house became narrow to me. No goal that I reached was a goal, every path was a detour, every rest gave birth to new longing.

Many detours I will still folllow, many fulfillments will still disillusion me. One day, everything will reveal its meaning.

These are Hermann Hesse's words (translated; they read even better in their original German) but they had such a personal resonance with me that I simply had to put them into this blog. Many detours I will still folllow, many fulfillments will still disillusion me.

Curmudgeons online

So far, my "Bali Proposal" has met with mixed responses. Here are some:

From Robert in Fiji:

Slickest timeshare ad I have ever read. ☺

From Chris in Canada:

You asked me what I thought. Here is what I think. People, for the most part, seem unable to get along and accept each other as individuals. Someone is always better class, more wealthy, more knowledgeable, better connected and smell much nicer than the rest. They also all want to be there at the same time and don't understand why, because they are so much more important than the others, they shouldn't get preferencial treatment. The other scenario is the group/club mentality. One day the group is all gung ho for the program and a month into it they are all wearing the same clothes and planning the takeover of Poland. In a nutshell, I am thoroughly of the mind that unless you just thrive on social conflict, you would be ill advised to participate.

There, I have added my cynical two cents worth. You asked. I think that you and Bali have done well so far the way you have approached it.

I want to hear from YOU! Please email me.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe

Click on the image for a look inside the building

I have been looking at Bali property on and off for several years. My friend John, who is retired and has lived a charmed life in Bali for the last seventeen years, has just come up with a property for sale which is large enough to suit our purposes as well as have plenty of room left for a swimming pool, spa bath, and various communal things. It is located in the cooler mountains surrounding Ubud, quietly tugged away from all the touristy things and yet within easy reach. The surrounding roads are very good, quiet and asphalt. Pushbikes will be available for people to cycle around (this is invigorating mountain climate!) and a short walk through the ricefields at the back of the property brings one to the Ayung River. The Batur volcano is in full view and if Agung Mountain isn't shrouded in clouds, this can be seen too.

While local housekeeping and maintenance staff would live on the premises at all times, neither John nor I would make use of the property all year round. In fact, I would in all likelihood only spend a month or two each year there. And yet, in addition to the two buildings which John and I may or may not be occupying, there are another two very comfortable and charming "rice-barns" on the property which would make excellent guest accommodation. For more pictures, click here. The facilities will be improved and added to, including new, exotic Bali-type bathrooms, a swimming pool, and a spa, within the first few months.

The ambience of the place is so special that it would be a shame to spoil it with the unchecked arrival of all sorts of 'tourists'. Instead, I have convinced John that we ought to sell 'accommodation shares' amongst our friends which would allow them to have their own place in Bali where they could keep their personal things and go to for the number of weeks each year their 'accommodation share' entitles them to. And, of course, you would have all-year-round unlimited bragging rights with your friends about your own house in Bali ☺ !

Imagine jumping onto the next flight to Bali with no more than the clothes on your back, to be met at the airport in Denpasar by your own chauffeur who will whisk you away to your own home in Bali where your own housekeeping staff will cook and wash and iron and do everything to make you feel comfortable!

Sounds too good to be true? No, it isn't if you are in a compatible age range (say above 50) and can afford at least $500 a year for a one-week stay. Of course, you can buy time slots in multiples of one week. John and I are still at the "thinking aloud" stage and would only want to "sell" 20 out of 52 weekly timeslots a year so that there is always some vacancy for members to book at short notice. It would be non-profit - as the $500 a week reflects quite clearly - with all income and expenses fully accounted for to the members and surplus funds going into the constant improvement of the facilities.

Did I hear you mutter the dreaded word TIMESHARE? DON'T!!!

I am not spruiking some sort of money-making scheme! John is comfortably retired on an Australian schoolteacher's pension and I own far too many BHP shares to tie myself up in knots for a few extra dollars.

This is all about the mutually beneficial sharing of a stunningly beautiful property in an exotic location with some like-minded people at no more than cost price. Apart from having to be over 50 years of age, we also would want you to undergo something of a vetting process before you can fully sign up as we want this to become a harmonious group of like-minded people.

Please email me if you are interested. In fact, email me anyway as I value your thoughts as to what you think of the idea!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My shortest job ever!

Amongst my fifty-five jobs in fifteen countries, there have been some pretty short-term ones. However, my most recent one as a Bunnings Greeter - a good find for any retiree - lasted less than a day.

About an hour into my first day on the job a very loud, unattractive, mean-acting woman walked into the store with her two kids, yelling obscenities at them all the way through the entrance.

As I had been instructed, I said, pleasantly, “Good morning and welcome to Bunnings”. I then said, “Nice children you have there. Are they twins?”

The ugly woman stopped yelling long enough to say, “Hell no, they ain't twins. The older one's 9, and the other one's 7. Why the hell would you think they're twins? Are you blind, or just stupid?”

So I replied, “I'm neither blind nor stupid, Madam. I just couldn't believe someone shagged you twice. Have a good day and thank you for shopping at Bunnings”

My supervisor said that, despite my impressive cv, I probably wasn't cut out for this line of work.

P.S. Just kidding! I am still enjoying retirement and have plenty of unpaid work to do around "Riverbend". I just thought you might enjoy a bit of a laugh to start the day.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A very sad day

The little black rabbit who adoped this place as his home many years ago and lived a very charmed life what with being fed by me every morning and sunning himself around the house is no more!!!

When we came back yesterday from a drive to Moruya, we found him lying under the big Liquid Amber tree, peacefully expired. I wrapped him in bubble-wrap and gave him a Christian burial next to the old horse, Beauty, who also died of a peaceful old age here.

This morning I went out again with some food looking for him until I realised he was no more. I used to call him simply "Mr Rabbit" and he seemed to answer to is as he hobbled up to me as soon as I called out to him. I guess from now on I should call him Harvey.

I had better stock up on the bubble-wrap as I might be next!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

An Australian Divorce Agreement

Dear Australian Laborites, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Gillard, et al:

We have stuck together since the late 1950's for the sake of the kids, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has clearly run its course.

Our two ideological sides of Australia cannot and will not ever agree on what is right for us all, so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way

Here is a model separation agreement:

Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a similar portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

We don't like redistributive taxes so you can keep them. You are welcome to the ACTU, the Fabian Society and every member of Emily’s List. Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops and the military. We'll take the nasty, smelly oil industry and you can go with wind, solar and biodiesel. You can keep the ABC left wingers (particularly Kerry O'Brien) and Bob Brown. You are, however, responsible for finding an electric vehicle big enough to move all of them.

We'll keep capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Woolworths and the Stock Exchange. You can have your beloved lifelong welfare dwellers, dole bludgers, homeless, homeboys, hippies, druggies and boat people. We'll keep the budgie smuggling, bike riding, volunteer firemen and lifesavers, greedy CEOs and rednecks. We'll keep the Bibles and the churches and give you SBS and the Greens.

You can make peace with Iran, Palestine and the Taliban and we'll retain the right to stand up and fight when threatened. You can have the greenies and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we'll help provide them security.

We'll keep our Judeo-Christian values. You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism, political correctness and Penny Wong. You can also have the U.N. But we will no longer be paying the bill.

We'll keep the 4WDs, utes and V8s. You can take every hybrid hatchback you can find.

We'll keep "Waltzing Matilda" and our National Anthem. I'm sure you'll be happy to keep in tune with Peter Garrett as he sings "Imagine", "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing", "Kum Ba Ya", "We Are The World" and his recent big solo hit “Beds and Batts are Burning.”

We'll practice trickle down economics and you can continue to give trickle up poverty your best shot. Since it so often offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our flag.

Would you agree to this?

A Concerned Australian Citizen

PS. Also, please take Lindsey Tanner, Wayne Swan, Alan Griffin, John Faulkner, Kevin Rudd, and Jenny Macklin with you.

PPS. And you won't have to press "1" for English when you call our country.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A touch of Bali

We bought a Balinese lantern from Emporium Zaman Dulu to give the pond a bit of an exotic touch! It has a light inside which comes on at dusk and turns itself off around 9 o'clock to tell the frogs when to stop croaking.

On previous occasions we had already bought two Balinese temple guards which now guard the kitchen window ☺


Friday, October 7, 2011

In memoriam


born 7.10.1923 - died 18.10.2003


Do not stand at my grave and weep;

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn's rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush

of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry;

I am not there. I did not die.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Saturday night at the Club

The Eagles are arguably amongst the most popular bands worldwide, and their melodic country-rock sound has spawned numerous hits that are constantly played on major radio stations all over the world.

Desperado authentically recreates the sound of this classic band as seen and heard on their 90’s Eagles tour and captures that sound of the timeless classics that have won the hearts of millions of fans all over the World. Desperado comprises of six talented musicians and, together they celebrate and faithfully reproduce the music of one of the best bands of all time culminating into a show to be remembered. The popularity of the Eagles’ music attracts capacity crowds wherever they play.

They are performing at the Club Catalina Sports & Leisure Club on Saturday night and we'll be there!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Flashback to October 2004

The garage renovation in full swing

My friendly neighbour Ian working on the door; yours truly looking onWith a neighbour's help, I have embarked on a major renovation: as the house is overflowing with my 5,000-plus book collection and the double garage serves no better purpose than to store a whole pile of junk, I decided to get rid of much of the junk and to turn the garage into a "Bibliothèque".

We will replace the roll-a-door with a sliding glass door to let plenty of daylight in, and line the peaked ceiling with tongue-in-groove timber panelling and, most important of all, make the eaves "possum-proof" as the garage has been the home for several possums over many years. One of the possums lived very contentedly inside my kayak hanging from the ceiling; when I removed the kayak, it quickly moved to the INSIDE of the rolled-up green roll-a-door and still was inside it when these pictures were taken. Despite all the noise we were making with our power tools, it refused to vacate its new home!

The "possum-proofed" eaves
The panelled ceiling in progress
Ian and yours truly under the rafters
Yours truly high up under the ceiling

The strain is showingWe'll be busy with the woodwork for another two or three days, including the wooden frame for the sliding glass door, during which time an electrician will instal some ceiling lights and powerpoints. Then I need to decide what I want to do about the floor which is rough concrete at the moment and whether I should clad the walls or leave the brickwork
au naturel'.