Monday I was having a mild freak out. It’s not my usual style, but with three work weeks to Christmas, the volume of paid work yet to be done is bonkers. And some of the work is far more difficult to do, than common sense would suggest. Two hours that day was spent on hold waiting for someone in a government department to pick up the phone and attend to a very simple query. Not a super-chill experience. When the call was finally taken, the faceless bureaucrat appeared convinced that there was another way to resolve the query and that he was doing me a favour by processing the query – this time around. And for a moment there, I thought he might hang up. Truly, words could not express the depths of my feelings.
Time in my line of paid work is of the essence, and so the time spent on hold waiting, was used productively doing other work. Sadly, after prolonged exposure, the melody of the hold music is now burned into my consciousness. Some people wake in the dark hours of night after the most frightful of nightmares. That hold music is enough to bring on the night terrors for me.
Later that day, Sandra and I sat down and had a long discussion as to what needs doing, when, how and who is to do the work. That’s life in small business for you. And sometimes life sends you challenges: like not having a week off from paid work for three years. I’m built for work, but no break for three years is a pretty punishing schedule. Can’t say I’m much of a fan of that outcome, but then I probably brought all this onto my own head somehow, although candidly the reason as to why escapes me.
As a practical response, we decided to do less. Unfortunately the decision came with a lot of costs. But crunch time had been reached, and many things had to give. It was painful.
The accounting profession wasn’t always like this. Long ago I heard stories suggesting that technology meant that in the future of now, robots will do our jobs, freeing up time for more leisurely pursuits. I ain’t seeing that. And who can forget the so called paperless office? Speaking of which, I do actually have to pick up a box of 100% recycled paper at the stationery store – the printers are hungry beasts. The reality is that increased technology has meant much of my paid work time is spent fixing up the messes made by technology, or trying to ensure that the technology is integrated, and that the inflexible and often unrealistic demands are met. It’s not hard to understand why older professionals are leaving the profession.
Yeah, it wasn’t always like this. When I first entered the workforce, older accountants had earned their stripes by way of apprenticeship, and professional recognition was a $50 fee. Talk about return on investment! By contrast, my route involved years and years of part time study at night for an undergraduate University degree. Followed by another two and half years of part time post graduate further education. That last bit inexplicably now requires three years (inflation anyone?)
The old timer accountants didn’t have to deal with the continual demands for data and information either, but all the same, they seemed to get the job done. I recall one memorable character. He was a smoker, and after having dulled his olfactory senses over the years, he didn’t realise that everyone else could smell when he’d farted in his office. And he was a bit of a master farter. There were times he’d take his shoes off and put his feet on the desk and you could see the odd toe lurking out from a hole in his socks.
Yep, what a character. He was held in high esteem too. Hardly surprising because after all, I was the bunny that had spent all those years jumping hoops, not him and other people probably knew this. I recall one memorable occasion with him where I’d had to discuss a technical matter. The matter was cleared up after a prolonged discussion, mostly him talking. But then in his best didactic manner he then began drilling me on the basics of double entry accounting entries, like I didn’t know that. Oh well, it wasn’t personal, I’d spoken to other professionals who had endured similar lessons from him.
It’s hard to know where all this is going. A dark whisper at the back of my mind suggests that the government wants continual standardised reporting of data. That’s possibly where we’re headed. But can small business afford it, and can the government systems handle the data? Can’t say for sure, but they’re rapidly pushing change and it would be nice if they took some time out. I’m trying to.
The week began cool, and ended warm. We’ve now had three growing days this growing season (days in excess of 30’C / 86’F), but not to worry tomorrow looks set to return cooler weather. With a bit of rain too. The brief interlude of warm weather produced an epic sunset.
Ruby finally struck back hard against the evil Rat Empire and nabbed one of the largest and fattest rats I’ve ever seen. The living has been clearly good, well until the Rat met Ruby. Then things went badly for the rat.
This year I’ve been conducting a War Upon Rats, and the war is going well. Regular readers will recall the huge amount of effort spent rat-proofing the chicken run and enclosure. I’d been concerned that rats may have contaminated the chickens water supply with their poop and urine. Sure enough there was a bit of gunk in the bottom of the chickens water tank. This week, I dumped the contents of that water tank, then cleaned it with a high pressure hose, and refilled it with crystal clear water. With all of the recent rat-proofing modifications, it is highly unlikely that the rats will contaminate that water supply in the future.
I could see in the forecast that two warmer days were approaching. With that in mind the scary old rototiller was again pressed into service on the soil in the sapling fenced enclosure. The soil is now an aerated weed free beautiful rich black looking loam. Using a rake I mounded two long rows and then placed sugar cane mulch onto all of the other surfaces.
Tomatoes, Pumpkins, Melons and Cucumber seedlings were planted into the rows. And my how they’ve grown in only a matter of days.
Observant readers will know that many of the projects undertaken over the past year or so have been done so as to improve the existing systems. The intention is make living here easier. Access to the highest garden terraces had not been as simple as it could have been, and so another access point closer to the kitchen is being added. A gate was installed.
A staircase leading up to that gate had been begun last year and never completed. We’ve now decided to finish that staircase.
Two additional stair steps were added. We use a timber form-work and then pour one step at a time. For the best finish, we limit ourselves to one step per day and that gives the cement surfaces time to set so that they don’t get damaged. Curing can take upwards of a week, depending upon the weather and moisture.
Almost forgot to mention something else about the rats. They can climb trees. Easily. And they can leap too. So plants are kept away from contact with the house. A Japanese maple had been growing so fast recently that branches were coming into contact with the roof, and I see no reason to allow rats easy access up onto the roof. They won’t be able to get into the house from the roof, but who knows what mischief they might cause whilst up there?
And whilst the ladder was in use I decided to fix up a roof plumbing issue. For some reason now lost to time, the plumbers had set one of the roof gutters in place so that water flowed in the wrong direction (i.e. away from the downpipe). This is a problem because during heavy rain the gutter overflows and then runs down the wall, but also the water can get stagnant and full of all sorts of organic matter and mosquito larvae. Not an ideal situation when that stuff runs into your water supply.
Anyway, Sandra came up with an ingenious solution to correct the problem. That meant adding in a pipe which would drain any and all water sitting in the gutter back into our water supply – where it should have gone in the first place.
I cut a hole into the gutter and added in a pop. A pop is a round steel pipe which hangs under a gutter and directs water into the plastic downpipes.
A PVC pipe was then added which directs water from that gutter back into the house water supply. The gutter is now dry, which is as things should have been in the first place.
A batch of Elderflower wine was made. Those flowers produce a delightful wine, but far out they stink when you cook them.
With the warmer weather, you have to be careful where you place your feet, and not be startled at the continual scuttling of critters.
Two or three warmer days, and the citrus trees have begun to grow. It’s great seeing the trees sporting new growth.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 12’C (54’F). So far this year there has been 1,366.4mm (53.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,362.6mm (53.6 inches)