29 January, 2006
Rain, glorious rain!!
The wet season arrived well and truly this past week. We've had three straight days of rain that has virtually cut Townsville off from everywhere else. Not that anyone (that I spoke to) cared. Ross River Dam (that which supplies our city) has gone from virtually dry to over 20% full - so we can stop stealing water from the Burdekin Dam. Many streets have been flooded and now bear that legacy, with potholes often 1 metre wide and almost 1 metre deep (no joke - I wish I had taken a photo at the time). My house (the only low-set house on the street and a short distance from a tidal inlet) is, so far, safe from flooding.
This picture is Ross River at Aplin's Weir, downstream of Ross River Dam. The water was much higher the day before I took this. It's not that impressive now, but before all the rain, the water was about a metre below the top of the weir. Swarms of people had come to check it out and hear the roar of the water. And, of course, see what they could catch. Barra(mundi) season officially begins on Wednesday, but these guys in the foreground were trying for whatever they could catch. They'd mostly haul in water hyacinth, which is an introduced pest that usually chokes the rivers, then gets broken up and sent downstream during high flows. But one guy did catch a barra for a while before it got away (but there were about ten people that could vouch for it's size, so he couldn't exaggerate later). The rain has stopped now, and temperatures (and humidity) are climbing again (joy!!).
The Purple Giraffe
Val asked me about the origins of my blog name. It's not really an exciting story. About six years ago I was trying to establish an eBay account and every login name that I thought of was taken (what is with that???). Purple and giraffe are two of the words I ended up using in a very long name just so I could bid on (and win) useless crap that I have since never used. Purple is my favourite colour. Any shade of purple (though burgundy is stretching it, a bit). My love of purple is closely followed by a love of teal green - though having a teal with black velvet polka dots, satin, frilly formal dress (with a HUGE bow at the back) when I was in year 10 is not a memory I look back on too fondly. Hey, it was the 80s!!! Anyway, so there is the purple. Giraffe - well, there was a picture of giraffe on the wall when I was looking around trying to find eBay inspiration. But I do like giraffes. I wouldn't call myself the purple cane toad or anything, because cane toads - well, really, what good do they do anyone (save for being something that can be dissected in biology class with a clear conscience - it's another pest)? I was in Africa for several months in 1999 and my mission on many a safari was to see "The Big Five" - elephant, buffalo, lion, rhino and cheetah/leopard. I'm not sure why you could see either a cheetah or a leopard instead of both of them - I guess that would make it the big six. I saw the first five pretty early on, so spent the rest of the trip searching for the leopard. I never saw it. I came close several times - one time a leopard sat on a fresh kill - a young elephant - for an entire day, just guarding it, though I saw the kill the next day when it was covered by vultures and the leopard was long gone. Another time I was camping and heard a baboon screeching one morning. Later that day I stumbled across it's hands and feet - a leopard had killed it (hence the screeching) and then seen people approaching, so ran off with it's breakfast. I'm digressing. My point is, that while I was constantly searching for leopards and other big, scary African killers, each time I saw a giraffe it would bring a sense of calm over me. They were so quiet and didn't care that I was ten metres away, snapping hundreds of shots of them. Even when they run, they're so huge they just look like they're taking a peaceful stroll. They're an animal that always seem content just to have a couple of mates nearby and a ready supply of leaves. And they do look hilarious when they're taking a drink. Despite my (unfulfilled) desire to see a leopard, the giraffes and the warthogs were my favourite African animals.
Wow, what a long-winded paragraph. Val, I hope that answers your question. I'd be curious to hear why other people have called their blogs what they have.
24 January, 2006
Rainforest - and hiatus
Deep in the rainforest. Paluma.
21 January, 2006
THE FOUR THINGS GAME
Four jobs I have had:
1. Animal Park Attendant
2. Dental assistant
3. Dishpig (I'd do anything while travelling...)
4. Tutor for environmental studies students at uni
Four films that I could watch over again:
(this is hard, and these are not necessarily my favourites - but I can watch these over and over)
1. The Bear
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Like Water For Chocolate
4. The Princess Bride
Four places that I have lived:
(which I consider to be any place where I start buying crap that I know I won't be able to take with me to the next place)
1. Trail, British Columbia, Canada
2. Creel, Chihuahua, Mexico
3. Dunmow, Essex, England
4. Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia
Four TV shows I watch:
3. Australian Story
4. Enough Rope
(oh my, that's all ABC... I do occasionally watch mindless American schlock also)
Four places that I'd like to go on vacation:
1. Sri Lanka and India
2. Afghanistan and other western Asian countries (if/when it's safe)
3. South America
8. Western Africa
9. All around Australia
I could keep going... this was a dangerous question for me!
Four favourite foods:
1. Pasta with pesto (freshly made in Genoa, Italy. Preferably.)
2. Vegemite sandwich (really fresh bread, lots of butter and a scraping of vegemite-yum)
3. Anything Mexican. Real Mexican. Not Australian trying to be Mexican.
4. Lychees, Mangoes, Avocadoes - most tropical fruits
Four sites I visit daily:
3. My sis
4. My mum
Four people to tag:
1. I don't know
2. Anyone who is reading this blog
3. And hasn't done this already
4. Then let me know so I can go see what you wrote
The quilt top
Anyway, here is......
The completed top of the quilt. Am impressed with myself that I started cutting on Sunday night (I think) and it's now done. There are a couple of glaring errors that I couldn't be bothered to fix and now think that maybe I should have - but I'm over it now. Will go shopping today to get backing and wadding. In one of the fabrics there is a small blue flower. I'm thinking of a similar colour for the back. To me, the back of the quilt is just as fascinating as the front. This doesn't serve me too well at quilt shows, when all the quilts are pinned to the wall, and there are signs everywhere saying not to touch the quilt. Anyway. I have a vague idea of how I'll quilt it (yes, again, by hand), but won't really know until I start.
Alright, it's 9am. Am off to buy fabric - from the store that is a 10 minute drive away. I think I'll go via Paluma (a rainforest an hour out of town)!!
16 January, 2006
My Sunday drive...
Photo issues and such
I decided to upload a heap of pictures through blogger. What was I thinking (evidently, I wasn't). After 10 minutes the thing is still saying that the images are being uploaded. So they may be there, and they may not. If they don't show up, they were really amazing pictures, the likes of which cannot be compared. You'll never know what you're missing. And if they do show up, disregard that written in italics.
I have developed a plan for the next quilt. I would say pattern, but it has turned into such a mission, that it is now a plan. Possibly even a blueprint (on green and white graph paper). I was reading in one of my old quilt magazines that Amish quilts always have a deliberate mistake in them, because "no-one is perfect, but God." If I can adopt that rule, then most of my quilts could be considered very Amish, based on the number of mistakes in them. And this latest will be the most Amish of them all, if cutting the fabric was anything to go by. Can somebody please explain why I can't cut in a straight line, even with a ruler and all? I end up using twice the amount of fabric that I need (and more than I have spare). I've done just one block and already there is a mistake in the sewing. If the images ever upload you may see it. Ha! There it is - the first block (don't worry, it will look better...). There isn't going to be nearly that much dark brown in it.
Okay, time to post this thing, and put pictures through Picasa in a bit. If I can be bothered.
15 January, 2006
The garage sales
13 January, 2006
Did I mention I had recently bought a car??
BTW: I am a better photographer than this, but when Picasa put all the pictures together as a collage, the edges were chopped off, making my mind-blowingly artistic photographs (!) look like amateur snaps.......
12 January, 2006
I did go for a long drive today. All around the industrial part of town looking for the motor registry. My boss had said that it was near the brothels. I didn't stop to question why he would think I knew where the brothels in Townsville were. I still don't know, but I do know where the motor registry is. And, probably like every town in every country all over the planet, I now know to get there early to save yourself hours of waiting. That, or take a good book.
They gave me the plates, with holes already punched into them. As one would expect, they were in the wrong place and didn't match up with the screws in the car. So I re-drilled the holes, though hadn't lined them up too well, so drilled in the wrong place. I don't really want to go back and ask for another number plate! So I gave up and just shut the garage door. I'll worry about that tomorrow.
I did go for a long drive, though. I picked up a friend and we headed north. Stupid, stupid decision. North Queensland should be known to one and all (or at least those that live there) for it's bad roads. As soon as there is a couple of days rain, the Bruce Highway, the road that connects Townsville to Cairns and Port Douglas and the tablelands and all other places north of Townsville, floods. And this is the wet season. WET. You'd think the government would do something about that (the roads, not the wet season). But no. So we headed north (again, stupid us) and ended up sharing a single lane with traffic coming the other way. It was their lane that was flooded and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank them all for giving me right of way and not crashing into my new car. I turned around and headed back to town once it started raining so hard I couldn't see. Okay, Mum. I could see a bit. We stopped at the pub and had a beer (light!!) then returned to town (detouring around the flooded road).
I'm slowly coming down off my cloud, but still think of all the wonderful things I can do, now that I have wheels. Not only can I go shopping and buy bulky items (more than what will fit on my bicycle handlebars), but I can go to the rainforests and the desert and see shows that are out of town and I can visit more patchwork shops now. Oh, I am sad!!
11 January, 2006
Is there something wrong with this picture?
It took the bank pretty much the whole day to issue the cheque. Three times they had to call Brisbane to get approval for the loan. And three times it was approved. I would have though once was enough. Maybe that's why I never succeeded in the financial world. The fact that I never tried is irrelevant. But I digress.
I had to take a tax invoice from the Public Trustee to the bank. Then I was told I needed proof of comprehensive insurance. I got that. Then I went back and signed eighty four thousand forms (okay, I exaggerate. It was surely only sixty three thousand forms). I then waited four hours for the final okay from Brisbane. Four hours. For the THIRD approval! Am I strange in thinking this is ridiculous? Anyway. Once I had the cheque I had to run back to the Public Trustee and pay them and get a receipt. Then I had to go to another insurer and get compulsory third party insurance (oh for the days - or the States - where that is just included in your registration). And by the time I had everything....
The yard where the car is was closed. Well, I had five minutes to get there. So I have car insurance for a car I don't actually have. I even had this insurance before I owned the car (my boss has been laughing hysterically at this fact). I just need to keep telling myself, "this is Queensland, this is Queensland." That seems to explain everything for me.
So now a workmate is going to pick me up at 8am tomorrow and drop me off at the car yard where I will take posession of MY CAR and drive it to the rego place where I will fork out another small fortune for registration and stamp duty (sigh), then the car will be ALL MINE, TOTALLY AND UTTERLY. I'll then drive to work... and won't be able to concentrate for the entire day because I'll just want to take my car somewhere.
Am I becoming a bit obsessive, I wonder?
10 January, 2006
just one more day.....
The timing of purchasing a car really couldn't be better because....
THE WET SEASON HAS BEGUN!!!
Bring on the rain! We've had thunderstorms for two nights and downpours in the afternoons. Today I was stuck at the auction site (a tin shed) when the heavy rain started and wouldn't let up. But I don't think anybody minds it. I hope it stays for a few months more. Because now I won't have to cycle in bad weather. Yay!!
09 January, 2006
08 January, 2006
The bad and not so bad of the tropics
I left a comment on Wendy's site about places to visit in Queensland and with one word (croc), I think I've sent her into a bit of a panic. So just to clarify things, as ease Wendy's mind a tad, here is the little that I know about crocodiles.
- Their habitat is from central Queensland north (I believe), but they're pretty shy and tend to stay away from built up areas. Having said that, there were news reports of one swimming along a Cairns beach a while back (news reports indicating that that's pretty rare).
- They're a lot more common the further north you go.
- They can be found in a lot of the rivers, though. And don't swim in the channels around Hinchinbrook Island at all. The fishing there is superb - and the crocs know it.
- Crocs are pretty dormant in winter - they're more dangerous in summer, along with all the other nasties you find in north Queensland.
- I've heard that if you want to swim in water where a croc may be, take a dog with you (crocs apparently like dogs more than people-they taste better and they're easier to catch!!). Note that that could be just a rumour.
- If a croc is likely to be in the water, rest assured there WILL be a sign warning you about it.
During the summer, we have to deal with a number of things that really make north Queensland hostile to humans.
- There is the crazy heat and humidity (with no rain which would not only give us a slight reprieve from the oppressive temperatures, but may also put some water in Ross River Dam - Townsville's main water supply - which is virtually dry right now).
- There are the mosquitoes. Yes, most places have them. But we get the mozzies that carry dengue fever ("it won't kill you, it'll just make you wish you were dead").
- There's also the sandflies - putting repellant on to go and hang out the washing gets a little ordinary after a while.
- And summer = swimming at the beach, right? Wrong. Unless you wear a full body "stinger suit":
- Mmmmm, sexy!! (Pic is from www.scubacentre.com.au - I cannot claim to personally know these people). These suits are to protect you from the box jellyfish (one of which killed a young girl swimming off the tip of Cape York just today). They have a large bell, with tentacles that can be metres long. They can't sting you through lycra, however, hence the attractive suits. Though if you're worried you'll look mad, pantyhose work just as well. In addition to seeing beachgoers with their towels and sunscreen on the beach, you'll often find them with bottles of vinegar - which neutralises the stinging cells if you do get stung (it still hurts like hell apparently). There are stinger nets along a lot of the beaches which are safer to swim in. There is also irukandji, another stinger with a bell that can be the size of your thumbnail, and tentacles about a metre long. They're a bit nicer - they don't kill you, but a couple of hours after getting stung, you get irukandji syndrome - muscle aches, sweating, vomiting and more. And these little suckers fit through the stinger net. Fortunately (or not), stingers are pretty much confined to the coastline. If you go to any offshore islands, there not there. But you have to go several kilometres offshore. And I don't know if going all that way would be necessarily worth it just to avoid wearing a stinger suit.
- Summer here is also the season of storms. Cyclones. Although I've been here for six years and have only been through one cyclone. Two months after I arrived. Coincidentally, that was the last time we had a decent wet season....
Apart from all that, you wouldn't want to be anywhere else! Because, on the plus side, all those nasties are gone by May. And in summer we also have:
- Mangoes. Okay, you may have them too, but we have them falling off the trees in our backyards (and rotting, so you get to smell fermented mangoes for weeks. Er, this was going to be the positive list).
- Rainbow lorikeets that congregate in the trees in the local mall and there are so many of them you can't have a conversation without shouting. Hmmm - still not that positive.
- Frangipanis - and the smell that accompanies them: divine!
- The knowledge that the rainforests (and therefore a drop in temperature) are only an hour away.
- There's gotta be more, but I'm getting bored.
Hmmm. I'm not sure that I've sold the north very well. Meh, just don't come here in summer!
04 January, 2006
And in other (uninteresting) news...
My gym membership ran out while I was away over the break. I'm trying to decide whether I need to renew it or not. So I went for a run (/walk) this afternoon. Now I hurt. I'm hoping to go swimming tomorrow afternoon. Though the last time I did that (and only managed 100m) I ended up with a cough/cold that I am still trying to shake the last of. And now I suddenly feel ill at the thought of it. So we'll see what happens....
02 January, 2006
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
While waiting for the plane this morning, my mother asked me how my computer was going. I told her, "fine, but every time you asks me that, the computer seems to have a fit and crashes, so don't ask me again." Sure enough, I get home today and the computer was on a go slow for ages, then decided it had had enough and shut itself down. It is now co-operating, but I'm not sure for how long, so this post has been long in coming but will be short in content.
I made it back home (finally) and have been familiarising myself with home. The first thing I did was check the garden: the weeds thrived, the vegies didn't do so well. But, with my Christmas present from Mum and Dad (a gift voucher to a local nursery), I can happily go and replace all I've lost. I was actually prepared to come back to greater horrors that I saw, so I'm not concerned. I am disappointed to notice that the sandflies and mosquitoes are still out in force and I was attacked already when I pulled out some of the big weeds and dead stuff.
I unpacked soon after I arrived home. My bag is now empty. However, I'm still to move the clothes from the lounge room.....
.... but there's plenty of time for that.
I'm now off to call in for takeaway. I have no food in the house (that I feel like cooking) and I'm still on holiday so can eat junk for one more day!!