Filed under life

Paul and Paul

If you’ve been following this blog for a very long time you’ll recall that before it was, it was, and in those days it was a two-man affair, documenting my spectacular, somewhat notorious and ultimately doomed relationship with Paul de Koning.

Paul died five years ago today.

Paul was charming, sexy, loud, iconoclastic, funny and brimming with love and life. We shared a year and a half together from late ’95 to early ’97 – a wild, raucous and all-too-often insane ride. It ended horribly, but we patched our friendship up in time. He was diagnosed with Adult Myeloid Leukaemia in the late 1990s and managed to survive with that a lot longer than anyone thought possible.

The photo above was taken on our trip to San Francisco in September 1996 – sixteen years ago now. And here he is in his own words, a screenshot of his page from the House of Love, as it was in November 1996 (big file).

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Current occupants of the dam at Buggery Acres: two geese, four Muscovy ducklings, 17 wild ducks, several dozen golden and silver perch, and countless frogs.


Victorian government publishes list of towns that won’t be there next year

…or something like that.

There are 52 towns in Victoria which are at high risk for the 2009-10 fire season, according to a list issued by the state government today. Here is a map (click to enlarge) showing the towns listed:


The Victorian Government says the nominated centres will be its priorities for developing township protection plans.

“The work that we’ve been doing over recent months has identified a number of areas … 52 towns, which for a variety of reasons are more at risk or more vulnerable to fire, should it occur in the next fire season,” Mr Brumby said.

“These could be towns that are built in the middle of bushland, they could be towns that are on the coast that have a huge holiday population and only one road in, and one road out.”

“We’ve got a fire season coming up, that on all the evidence we’ve got… is going to be worse than the one we’ve just experienced.” — ABC

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She’s dry alright

I think I’m starting to get the hang of this living-in-a-bushfire-prone-area thing. In the last week we’ve put the fire plan into action three times – that means preparing to defend the house against a fire reported in the area. The latest of these is currently burning 2 kilometres away, and as I write this the house is locked up, the hoses are at the ready, the gutters are blocked up and full of water, and I’m watching the planes and helicopters buzzing back and forth as the CFA deals with the fire.

All of this is happening in utterly dreadful weather – it’s 45ºC outside, there’s a vile wind blowing, and the air smells of smoke.

While all of that is hard, I think the hardest part is the constant apprehension of impending disaster. Even when there’s no fire reported in the area, on days like this you find yourself sniffing the air for smoke, watching the skies, listening to the radio, and always expecting that something bad is about to happen.

Today is the 29th of January, and so far this year we have had not one drop of rain, and there is no prospect of rain in the next week, probably more. I do not remember ever in my life going through a whole month – any month of the year – without any rain at all. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the last time there was no rain in January in this part of the world was 1930. We depend on rainfall in this house because the only water we have – for drinking, cooking, showering and gardening – comes from rainfall harvesting. We’re doing OK for water at the moment but it won’t last forever without some rain.

Honestly I wonder where this all will end.


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Dunny, Honey

We’ve been renovating:

Foggy morning


This is where I live. And this is why I live here.

(Click to enlarge)

Fill in the blanks

A few weeks ago I started building raised garden beds in the now mostly-cleared part of our property which will become our food garden. I’ll be progressively adding new beds over the next couple of years and eventually we’ll have probably 20 or more beds, so I decided a naming scheme was needed. As a gardener I need to be able to think “time to put some manure on bed x” or “these seedlings will go into bed y”.

Rather than numbering the beds, I decided to give them all names, in alphabetical order and honouring the great men and women of science and philosophy. With the help of my friend Kirsty I’ve got most of the letters of the alphabet covered, but there are some blanks. Any suggestions?

  • Archimedes
  • Babbage
  • Copernicus
  • Darwin
  • Einstein
  • Fibbonacci
  • Galileo
  • Hoffmann
  • I
  • Jung
  • Kinsey
  • Leonardo
  • Marx
  • Newton
  • Orwell
  • Plato
  • Q
  • Russell (Bertrand, not Jane)
  • Sagan
  • Turing
  • U
  • Von Bingen
  • Wittgenstein
  • Xenophon
  • Y
  • Zeno

Only Archimedes and Babbage have actually been built so far, so alternative suggestions for any of the others are also welcome.

Baby chickens

Number of chickens we had this morning: 9
Number of chickens we have this evening: 19

Ay, caramba!


Last day

I quit my job a while back — after five years of writing about AIDS, thinking about AIDS, talking about AIDS, eating, drinking and shitting AIDS, it’s time to pull back a bit. Today’s my last day so I feel a bit sad, a bit frustrated at the work that has been left undone, and more than a bit relieved that it’s over. Working in “the sector” is renowned for it’s capacity to make bitter old queens of what were once brightly optimistic you things, so I think it’s best to get out before that happens to me. New challenges await.

There are a bunch of other things happening in our life — we are about to head off on holiday to Europe (I’ll try to keep the blog updated as we go) and we’re in the process of buying a house, or trying to buy it. With the clock ticking down to our departure on Sunday, the odds that we’ll get to the contract stage before we depart are slimming rapidly. Most likely we’ll go away not knowing whether the sale will go to us or not — that’s not ideal, but we’re only gone for three weeks so presumably we can pick up where we left off on our return.

The holiday, much needed and well-deserved, will lighten my (currently heavy) spirit I’m sure, once we step on the plane and leave behind all that is dull and quotidian I suppose I’ll be less bothered by my inability to juggle 18 balls simultaneously, but between now and then I guess I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Off to Sydney tonight to say farewell to my workmates.