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Update from Down Under

In an internet cafe in Fremantle:

This has been the hottest summer in WA in 80 years! I'm gaining an intuitive grasp of temperature centigrade. Forty degrees C is freakin' hot!

I've sent my laptop off to IBM for diagnosis and repair. If the problem is the mother board, which it seems to be, then I'll have to spend as much getting the thing fixed as I would to buy another machine, but my IBM hard-drive only seems to fit IBM Thinkpads, and I need my data. Not only does my HD contain last years TurboTax data, but it also holds the thousands of digital photos that I've taken over the last few years, including the ones that document the first two years of Logan's life. And then there's all of my artwork. Any given C-Realm comic contains tens of individual elements that I create separately. I've created a vast store of images that have yet to find their way into a comic. It will come as a hard lesson in making back-ups if all of that data proves unrecoverable.

Lara and I have fallen in love with the town of Denmark, on the southern coast of WA (Western Australia). We plan to buy an organic fruit and vege store there, provided that our accountant here in Perth says that the info we got from the realtor in Denmark checks out. The purchase will require the approval of the FIRB (Foreign Investment Review Board). If the government won't let a couple of Yanks buy the place, we'll probably form a partnership with some Aussie's and buy it that way. Hopefully they'll approve the purchase and we won't have to play that silly legal game.

According to the documentation I've seen on the business, the present owners, a husband and wife team, started it in 1985. Over the last 17 years, they've built it into a profitable business with a loyal clientele. Many people I've talked to have told me that Denmark is the only place in the southwest (outside of the larger towns like Albany) that could support a store of this nature. The husband had a stroke four years ago, and he's having increasing difficulty attending to the daily business of keeping the place running. It shows. The store contains about half the stock that it could, and he admits that the business could use some stream-lining.

We've made two trips to Denmark now. The whole southwest of WA possesses a unique beauty, but Denmark stands out, not only for the beauty of the landscape but for the character of the community. People there, while diverse, share a passion for the environment. On our first trip there, I visited a working permaculture farm. The local government (referred to as "the Shire" by the locals), while burocratic, has proven friendly to alternative building methods, which jives with my desire to build and live in a passive solar home made from rammed earth (or some other high thermal mass material) with composting toilets and maximum gray water recovery and utilization.

Denmark has great a great public school at the primary level, as well as a Montessori school and another alternative private school. Had we stayed in the US, there was no way that we were going to send Logan to public school. Here, that may just be the best option open to us. Time will tell.

Our gym has a crèche that provides free child-minding while parents exercise has provided Logan with a much-needed social outlet. He not only seems to love the woman who runs the place, but it provides him with contact with other young children. His only other outlet for kid-socialization comes when we take him to the park. (Perth is replete with gorgeous public parks.) The problem there comes from some really ill-behaved hellions that he usually encounters there.

The bully's seem to find their niche early in life. Most kids here seem to possess a fair degree of compassion and sociability, but there's always one or two to push Logan down and model all kinds of undesirable behavior for him to emulate. Australians like to drink... a lot. They're the most friendly and sociable (mainly) white folks I've ever encountered, but at the same time, they have a very high level of domestic abuse which I suspect correlates with their vast alcohol intake.

I've notice myself starting to talk Aussie. My first spontaneous use of an Aussism involved the phrase, "No worries." Whenever someone here starts to apologize or explain their behavior, the person their talking to will let them off the hook by saying, "No worries." They don't seem to recognize an equivalent phrasing of the same sentiment. I was talking on the phone to someone who had called to apologize for having come to dinner empty handed. To get him to stop, I tried "That's alright," and "Don't worry about it," and "Really, it's okay." Nothing stemmed the flow of apology until I said, "No worries." That did the trick.

Well, time to head home. It's actually proved somewhat refreshing not to have internet access from home. Not that I'll make it my permanent condition or anything. Several times a day I think of some question that I'd like answered but which goes unanswered for lack of a ready connection to the storehouse of human knowledge (and misinformation) that is the World Wide Web.

Take care, friends.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 14th, 2003 08:43 am (UTC)
Good to hear from you. Sounds like life is treating you quite well, if not very well. Hope it continues.
Mar. 16th, 2003 11:02 pm (UTC)
Life is kind

Yes, life is good. It throws the occasional curve, but the unexpected provides more reliable adventure and satisfaction than anything I plan and pursue.

Take care.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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