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A Realistic Calendar for New Zealand

If you are new to New Zealand perhaps this calendar will help prepare you for the local progression of seasons. :-)

I originally made this calendar specifically for Wellington, but it seems that much of New Zealand identifies with it so I renamed it.

Five Years

In December 2009 I quit my job at Weta Digital and headed off into the unknown. It was amazing. I spent a few months travelling aimlessly, a year studying yoga, a year living on permacultureA system for designing landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature. farms, a year living on intentional communities and a year and half making a new home with Tink on her 12 acres on the Kāpiti Coast.

Today, today I signed a contract to go back to Weta Digital to help wrap up the hobbitses. So starting on Wednesday, and through to the end of October, I’ll be in town a lot more than I have been recently. The end of a movie isn’t the best time to plan a social life, but perhaps I’ll get to spend some more time with Wellington friends than I have in the last couple of years?

I am slightly embarrassed to announce this a week after Reece’s lovely video did the rounds, however financial reality has (finally) set in. My hope is that a short stint back in Miramar will get us through the quiet December/January period, pay off our credit cards and then life can go back to “normal” in 2015.

We’ve got plans for next year, and I’m looking forward to it!

The Stories We Tell

A couple months ago I was interviewed by Reece Baker as part of a series called The Stories We Tell. Many thanks to Reece for such a beautiful job and thank you to everyone who has seen it and commented.

Building a Cabin from a Shipping Container

People are talking about building tiny houses and cabins out of containers a lot recently. I built a cabin from a shipping container in 2012 to use as my primary (tiny) home. I only got it to fairly basic standards (basically an insulated box with two sets of doors) before the community I was living in collapsed and I moved out and sold it.

I’ve written my thoughts up for a couple of friends but have been meaning to do a better write up for ages. Here are the basic lessons I learned:

  • Containers aren’t a particularly cheap way to build, but they are really fast. I got mine to it’s finished state with less than a weeks work (of about 1.5 people).
  • It’s not particularly hard, but work with a builder if you can, they are amazingly fast.
  • If you’re planning on living in it for the long haul, pay the extra for a hi-cube which gives you an extra 30cm of vertical space.
  • There’s no way to know what the container was used to transport and some of them are used to transport seriously toxic shit.
  • If you care about potential toxicity sandblast the steel walls and either cut out the plywood flour (not a very pleasant job) or investigate epoxy encapsulation of the floor.
  • Containers are surprisingly expensive to move.

Overall I wouldn’t do it again unless for some reason I needed something fast and wanted to be able to sell it off fairly easily later. The research I did on toxicity didn’t leave me feeling comfortable, but I may be precious.

If I was going to build something like this again I would do it differently:

  • If I wanted cheap I’d build with cob, earthbag or maybe straw bale.
  • If I wanted super portable, I’d kit out a bus (extra annoying since I’m tall, but possible).
  • If I wanted comfortable but easy to transport I’d get a yurt.
  • If I wanted a transportable living space in or near a city I’d get a boat.

My analysis is that containers fall in the worst gaps of all of those. They aren’t particularly cheap, they aren’t particularly easy or cheap to move and they are potentially toxic.

One awesome thing you can do with containers is cantilever them. I have two designs that I’d love to build that would be super easy with containers … but over all I think it will be better to do it another way.


All I Want

“All I want in a relationship is for my partner to be able to tell me what she needs, and for it to be okay for me to say no sometimes.”

She looked at me. Like I’d just asked if she’d heard about the guy who was going to swim to the moon. “That’s all?”

“Well,” I said, “I also want to be able to ask for what I need, and know that she is able to say no.”

When did this become such a strange idea? That it is reasonable to expect each of us to ask for what we need. That we are able to respond honestly to any such request.

Asking for what we need might feel scary, embarrassing or selfish. Being asked to do something for someone can make us resentful, worried or anxious. Yet helping others is also a source of joy and can deepen our connection with the people around us.

Saying yes might mean weighing our needs for space or freedom against our desire to show affection or provide safety. Saying no may also involve weighing needs but also requires the courage to risk their frustration or pain. Hearing yes means trusting that the other person is agreeing to help us out of pleasure rather than fear. Hearing no requires the willingness to try and understand their needs and to explore alternatives.

All of which equals my sisters droll “is that all?”

Yet I can’t escape the sense that we’ve taken something simple and made it complicated. We all have the same needs; belonging, safety, joy, growth, beauty. Through our actions, however fumbling, each of us are each trying to find ways to meet those needs.

As we learn to look inward and see clearly what we need. As we gain skill with both speaking and hearing no. As we learn to trust the other people in our lives. As we gain confidence in our sense of self. We begin to come alive in each passing moment.

Laid out in front of me I see a path. A way that I hope will lead to a life of deeper and richer relationships. The beauty of this journey is that I don’t have to be skilled to begin. Each fumbling attempt carries me forward.

Two People Walked

Two people walked. A couple. The woman went ahead. Down to the water, and back up the beach. Many times she went, back and forth. With her, two dogs. One small, one larger. The dogs constantly running, yet always coming back. Jumping up, then sprinting away. The man walked carefully. Slowing periodically. Scuffing the ground, kicking a rock. The whole way he kept slowing to kick a rock.

Today I kicked a rock about a kilometre down the beach. My rules were simple. It had to be the same rock and I had to always go forward. It's funny what you can learn kicking a rock down the beach. The pattern a tumbling rock makes in the sand. How much to scrunch my toes. What my rock looked like from every angle. To recognise my rock in the middle of hundreds of other similar rocks. Even the time I took my eye off the rock as it tumbled across the scree. How often it ended in seemingly improbable positions. Hanging from an invisible string.

These rules allow only two sensible strategies. Kick carefully or decide you don't care that the games ends. How many times did I kick the rock? Dozens. Hundreds? Each time I was able to make sure that it was carried forward far enough to kick again. It's a simple thing to kick a rock, but isn't everything simple?

I wasn't surprised that the rock changed. I was more surprised that I changed. Kicking a rock, thinking about care. About this world. About me. About the power of decisions. It's not hard to take care. To be careful. To carry something forward. To make sure something isn't left behind.

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2014 by adam shand. sharing is an act of love, please share.