I am absolutely delighted to see that I haven’t lost all my readers, despite the lack of new material.  Whatever creative cells I possess seem to have suffered a setback of late.  I blame it on stuff.   One of the films I saw at the Full Frame documentary film festival in Durham was called “Summer Pasture.”  It is about a family of nomads living on the Tibetan Plateau.  Not much happens in the film, but it is quite clear that there is change on the way, that the nomadic way of life in the plateau is under serious threat for the first time.

The caterpillar fungus and tourism have a lot to do with it.  People are getting richer, they are getting more and more stuff. While I watched the film, I remember thinking that (for a nomad) Locho and Yama had a lot of furniture and other articles packed into their yurt.  Moving all of it twice a year was a big job that they had to handle entirely by themselves.  No burly guys to load it all on yaks and break things and make ten copies of the bill of lading.

Thanks to the Australian practice of offering a sabbatical after three years (for six months), we found ourselves making a move to Durham, North Carolina in January of this year for the spring semester.  We rented a fully-furnished home, but still managed to accumulate an amazing amount of stuff during the short time we were there.  I know because I had to move it to another house before we left for Nova Scotia.  We’ll be going back to Durham in the fall (on an upaid leave), but we’ll be in a smaller house.

Despite the fact that I was able to leave almost everything we had accumulated, the old Volvo was loaded when I drove across the Canadian border.  But none of that compares to the mountain of boxes that have been occupying my time since we arrived back here.  This particular stockpile dates back to before we moved down under. We put everything we did not think we would need in Australia into storage, things like 110 appliances.

Last summer we had it shipped up here.  There are boxes and boxes and boxes.  There seems to be no end to it.  I would like to free myself from the tentacles of stuff, shave my head and take up a begging bowl,but according to the news I’m getting from my old friend, How Man Wong, the monks in Tibet are getting Land Rovers.


Most of my readers should know by now that the Australian government has lost its head, putting a “sheila” in the hot seat for the very first time.  The daughter of working-class parents, Welsh-born and Adelaide-raised, Julia Gillard was a student unionist who worked as a lawyer and chief of staff to the Victorian opposition leader John Brumby before winning a the safe Labor seat in Melbourne’s outer west in 1998.

I’m not a political junkie, so I may be the most unreliable narrator you can have on the political situation down under, but I was not a big fan of Kevin Rudd and I’m pleased with this surprising development. Julia Gillard is the first female prime minister of Australia.  She has reversed the sinking fortunes of the Labor party in the polls by jettisoning a controversial windfall profit tax on mining and shoring up support for core Labor policies.

I hope she will be able to bring back the tax in another form and start dealing with climate change and the ravages of mining on the environment.  She comes across as a highly intelligent, competent individual.  Rudd was too, but he was arrogant and prickly.  He could boss but he couldn’t lead.  He didn’t work well with people.  Not good for a politician.

Stay tuned.  Despite the burdens of dealing with all our stuff, I’m not done writing yet.  And I’ve got a lot more pics to post.  Just wait until I get the stuff sorted.