Russell Kirkpatrick's Journal
Dorinda and I settled down in our garden seat for a nice lunch, when abruptly the roar of two chainsaws and crunching of a large woodchipper put paid to that.
Turns out the neighbours are taking out two of their half-dozen 150-foot pines. Good, I say. Earier this year I was startled out of my wits by a sound like someone dumping a lorryload of shingle on our deck - it was one of the pines crashing down across their section. The enormous old tree fell is full length and also the ten metres down the cliff it was perched on. Took out half a dozen full-grown native trees in its path.
These neighbours had just moved in. So we all got to know them; the entire street turned up over the next few minutes as the giant tree settled across my neighbour's section. And, in one of those ironies that make life almost as interesting as fiction, it turns out that Mr. Neighbour heads the City Council's Arboreal unit.
So today's concerto for chainsaw and chipper is preventative, apparently. Good, I say again, even though it ruined our tranquil lunch. I wouldn't want another of those giants coming down. We worked it out: at least one of them would take the office corner of our house out if it fell in our direction. And if I was inside ... no more blogs from Russell.
There's nothing worse than cruising to your favourite blogger's site only to find they haven't added anything in a week.
I'm still getting used to this new task. You know what the trick is, I reckon? To try to work out what it is about your ordinary life, the stiff you take for granted, that might interest other people.
Hmmm. What about our persistent and futile attempts to stop our three cats from destroying our new lounge suite? Or perhaps our younger son's burgeoning political awareness, which now includes a plan to castrate all males at age 15 when he becomes ruler of the world? Or how I stayed up, utterly transfixed, until 5am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights to watch the Ryder Cup? And how consequently I can remember absolutely nothing of yesterday's lectures? I'm reliably informed that I did turn up, and gave my usual self-deprecating performance. I have no memory of it. Nor do I remember being present when a gentleman from the University of the Negev gave a talk on developing the southern Israeli desert. Or perhaps I could talk about how my older son has joined a band as their guitar player - and a day later played at a school function? I hope he's good at it - I'd love to live off my son's income for a few years. Fair's fair; he's lived off mine. Maybe he can finance his brother's socio-political eugenics revolution.
Well, nearly famous. I made the local paper yesterday. Here's the text:
Map maker gives Bahrain guidelines
20 September 2006
Hamilton map maker Russell Kirkpatrick is changing the face of part of the Middle East.
He has been commissioned to produce a detailed atlas of the small, wealthy island nation of Bahrain, along the lines of his Bateman Contemporary Atlas of New Zealand.
Dr Kirkpatrick is a part-time lecturer at Waikato University's geography, tourism and environmental planning department, a fantasy author and also has his own map-making business.
His study is filled with fantasy novels, computers and maps of the 665sq km Persian Gulf state.
Working on the project with Dr Kirkpatrick is Waikato University student Paul Beere, who pointed out their largest map of the main island.
"That would be the most accurate data-set of its kind in existence," he said.
The map, based on aerial photographs, shows a kite-shaped island whose north is covered in towns and whose south is largely desert.
Dr Kirkpatrick got the job after a well-connected Bahrainian student saw the map maker's Bateman Atlas, which had maps of a wider variety and presented more stylishly than the atlases in Bahrain.
The student mentioned his idea to his father, the head of Bahrain's natural gas company and a relative of the royal family, and in 2003 the company offered Dr Kirkpatrick the job.
At first he turned it down, as he had too much on his plate, but they gave him an open-ended business class ticket to the Gulf.
He flew out there in February last year, spent a week in the country, and changed his mind about the project.
"Bahrain has particular issues that they are trying to deal with, like all countries. They are coming to the end of a lot of their natural resources –- not only oil but also water . . . –- so they are facing a lot of social, environmental and economic issues. I think the feeling is that a book like this can help them get a feel for things. I'm not suggesting that we can tell them anything they do not know. But it's the packaging."
The country's Education Ministry, National Museum and university have got involved, and all of Bahrain's 160,000 school children are in line to have a copy.
The project is due to finish in October next year.
So what does a successful shed builder do for an encore? He digs a ditch.
We've been discharging our stormwater in to our neighbour's property ever since the driveway contruction company broke the pipes. Yesterday my neighbour complained ever so gently. So today I sent two hours in the hardware store, spent $400 and came home to dig a trench.
It was hard work. Iain's still out there digging it. The hard work was, after an hour of digging, to persuade Iain to take over. That was three hours ago.
It probably won't rain for three months now.
After three days of construction I have completed the garden shed. I wish to acknowledge the assistance of the one-legged duck, who left markings indicating where I might screw the parts together. The foundation stone is inscribed with a message from the Australian designer: 'no worries, mate.' You are all invited to the opening ceremony on Sunday afternoon at 2pm.
Mind you. I don;t know if it will still be erect by then. The metal is so thin, if we have a high-pressure zone overhead it'll probably crumple into a heap.