Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chain Saw Sunday

Yes, today Townsville is buzzing - literally.  The chainsaws are out and people are clearing away the fallen branches, fallen trees and other debris left behind by Tropical Cyclone Olga.  We didn't get the cyclone here, just the edge of the rain depression that she degenerated into.  The edge of the depression had a ton of rain in it and enough wind to fell more than a few trees.
After a week of flooding rain turning the ground to a soupy mud, it doesn't take a lot of wind to down a tree. 
In the top pic, I tried to capture the movement of the trees during one of the late afternoon gusts. It is hard to capture the wind :)
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Can you see that topless palm tree, third from the back?  It's top is lying out of sight on the footpath on right hand side.  I'm happy that its top is not on my car.   The wind was blowing in the right direction for me :)
Something else that is out of sight is Mt Stuart.  It should be filling in most of the rear of the photograph, but it is obliterated by rain and cloud.
A few seconds after I took this photograph, I heard a loud cracking sound and turned around in time to see a large section of a huge African Tulip tree, on another nearby property, come crashing down.  The tree still stands.  Sorry, I just checked again and the remnants of the tree are being cut down as I type and the scent of freshly sawn timber fills the air.  It was impressive to witness its fall.  About a quarter of the tree's canopy broke away.  It looked so light and graceful, but probably weighed several tons and would have demolished anything underneath it. It was between two rows of houses, so I can't see if it did hit anything. I hope not.
Our drive to and from church today showed just how patchy the storm was.  Some areas were littered with debris and others had hardly a leaf out of place.  Many areas were without power for hours.  Some are still without power. Fortunately we never lost power for a second.  
Just as well . . .   I was watching Nanny McPhee on the telly.  It's one of my favourite movies.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I love the rain

I love to see kids, big and small, safely enjoying the puddles in the park.

I don't love to hear of children being drowned or injured because they played near storm water drains or fast flowing streams.

I love to see bright coloured rain coats.
I love the surprises the rain brings like this little dog in his bright yellow raincoat.

I love the view from my windows, of everything looking wet and clean.

I don't love getting out in the pouring rain and getting covered in mud, to dig that trench you can see in the bottom, RH side, so that water could flow out of our entertainment area (and stop coming in the back door).

I love the way a good downpour washes away the built up crud on the roads that makes them slippery when they get only a little bit wet.
I don't love to see brainless, idiots in 4WD's cruising around too fast for the conditions, creating large bow waves that force water to flow into peoples' houses.

And I can live with this . . .

It was on its last legs before Tropical Cyclone Olga began leisurely pirouetting around and across Queensland and the Northern Territory.  I won't blame Olga.  I'm sure glad that we noticed it wobbling and Mr Sunshine took the car out from under it an hour or two before it collapsed.
A little while ago one of our lovely neighbours phoned and asked me to park my car up on his raised driveway.  Now I won't even have to wade through our swampy front yard to get in and out of my car.
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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tale of a Tail

You don't need to tell me that this is not the greatest photo of a black cockatoo.  It does capture the colour of his/her tail though. I did complain about them not cooperating with me and letting me photograph their tails in this post.  So, on a later visit to Balgal Beach I stalked them while they were feeding in a casurina tree and getting up to all sorts of mischief at the same time.  The cockatoos that is, not me.  This was the best tail photo I snapped.
You can see why any photography enthusiast would want to capture that.  I'll keep trying to do better though.
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Photographing what's not there

Mr Sunshine and I took a trip to The Towers (also known as The World and real name, Charters Towers) on Tuesday. It was work related, but we decided to make a day of it. Charters Towers is an historic gold mining town about 1 1/2 hours drive inland from Townsville. The country around it is usually dry and dusty, but recent rains have made everything green.
The photo, above, was snapped through the windscreen, just as we were getting back into Townsville. I had been trying for miles to get a photo of the mirages which come and go on the highway. Because we were travelling towards them at about 110 km per hour, it only gave me a window of a second or two to get a photo of the elusive mirages. I did get several photos, but none as clear as the one above. Believe me that road is bone dry. It hadn't rained all day and it was hot, hot, hot. If there had been any water on the road it would have long since dried up. In each of the mirages that I caught on camera you can see blurry reflections of trees and nearby cars in the "water" which adds to the realism of having a genuine puddle of water. I'm just happy to get a photo of something that isn't really there.

This was the other strange thing - not the blurry blob near the centre, that is a chip in the windscreen :).  The white lines do not curve at all, but when the road had a dip at just the right angle it would create this strange visual effect as though the road sort of slims down and then broadens out again.   The road is uniform in width and the shoulders of the road and the white lines continue in a straight line.
It just goes to show that you can't believe everything you see with your own eyes.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Solitary Lion

Monday was Dragon's very first day of kindy.  Mummy McTavish was taking Dragon to kindy and then having coffee with friends.  Lion could tag along with Mummy if he wanted OR he could spend some one to one time with Grannysaurus.  He chose Grannysaurus. 

Can you guess what we did?  Some of it is easy to guess.  Lion wanted to check out the streetsweeper ads on the internet.  Doesn't evey 5 year old boy memorise streetsweeper ads?  We did that for a while and discovered some mini walk-behind models that Lion hadn't seen before. That was exciting ;)
Babycino and an anzac biscuit (USA translation - cookie) were his choice for morning tea.  Not for me - I had coke.  Then back to the computer to check out the games on the LEGO website.  It is a great safe place for little fellows of all ages.  You can build things, colour in things, create things, play games (or play more sophisticated games if you are a big boy).
Lastly we did not do any baking in spite of the last clue in the photo collage.  Lion has discovered that Grannysaurus' really old flour sifter can double as a grinder.  So he empties the peppercorns into it and creates ground pepper for me.  I do have a pepper grinder or two, but this is more fun and I don't use it for anything else anymore.
Do you want to know one sad thing about my sifter?  Two years ago, when we were on holidays in Tasmania, I saw an identical sifter for sale in an antique store :(
I have learnt from experience that once Lion starts school, opportunities like this will be much rarer.
So we made the most of it and stayed out of the sun.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Monkey at the beach

 If you have read the two previous posts, you will know that it was VERY hot and steamy when we went to the beach last Friday.  When it comes to keeping Monkey cool, nothing beats the old fashioned (and very old) Baby Bouncinette.  The netting allows every bit of air circulation to get through and keep Monkey as cool as possible, especially considering it has developed some extra large holes in the netting :)
I think that these are an Australian invention.  Does anyone know if other countries have them?

When it cooled down enough to go down to the water, Monkey didn't exactly fall in love with his first experience of the ocean. Look at those seriously curled up toes.

Fortunately Grandad didn't force the issue and a cuddle soon made everything alright.

It was just as well that Dragon, who could really relate to the whole "ocean is a scary place" issue was on hand to cheer up his little brother.

After a suitable interval, Grandma thought it might be worth another test dip.  It didn't seem quite so scary this time, but he was still a bit wary. 
Meanwhile Lion, as you can see in the background, thought he would take the opportunity to walk to South America.  The Pacific Ocean was no barrier.  The screaming Mummy and Grandparents proved to be a more formidable barrier and he was grounded to the foreshore for a while.
My wet shorts are from trying to keep up with Lion's previous little ventures into deep water.  This time I wasn't prepared to risk trying to rescue him while holding little Monkey without falling in.

Instead of tears, Monkey's last dip in the sea only produced an air of studious contemplation.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dragon at the beach

See those rosy cheeks?  That was not sunburn or wind burn or from energetic running around.  That was just because it was sooooo stinking hot!  These boys really needed a dip in the nice, cool sea.  Unfortunately nice, cool sea is at least 1000 km away, so they were looking forward to a dip in the hopefully-not-too-warm-sea.  The specks of dirt on Dragon's face are bits of sand from trying to play in a tiny bit of shade that the eaves created near the side of the house.  Perspiration made it impossible to wipe them away because they just stuck like mud.

While waiting for the sun to die down a bit, Dragon and Lion produced some beautiful drawings - very generously given as gifts to Mummy McTavish and Grandma.

When we were finally able to get down to the beach, Dragon was not really very keen on the sea (shallow as it was) or the waves (tiny as they were).  He had a little bit of a paddle, but did not let go of Grandma's hand  for even a few seconds.

When Grandad said that he was going for a walk, that was great news for Dragon.  He liked walking on the beach and it avoided the stress of being expected to actually enjoy the scary water.  Off he went with Grandad.

You could not describe it as a brisk walk, especially since there is a childrens' playground behind the trees about half way along.  Somehow Dragon managed to twist Grandad's arm to spend about 20 minutes at the playground.
Soon after Dragon and Grandad's return, big brother Lion was confined to the shore for being disobedient and causing his Mummy and grandparents unnecessary worry. Lion dug a hole in the sand.   Dragon helped by fetching buckets of water to pour into the hole.  The problem was that Dragon still did not want to go into the water, but he was counting on the waves coming up to the bucket.  The annoying waves always stopped short of the bucket.  Just look at those disappointed, sagging shoulders.

With a bit of help from Grandad and Grandma, a few bucket-fulls were collected and a safe, little artificial beach was created by the boys.  "Little" is probably an understatement as you can see from the bottom photo.
Dragon got in trouble from Lion for putting some sand into his pool, which Lion began to feverishly dig out.  How do you tell the difference between the original sand and the unwanted, added sand? 
That is Lion wisdom that is too lofty for mere mortals and little brothers to understand.

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lion at the beach

You can tell that it was a seriously hot and steamy day when we went to the beach with Mummy McTavish and the three little McTavishes.

The sad thing for the kids, is that they look forward to the beach so much, but when we get there, the sun is far too fierce to go out until late in the day.  Lion has such lovely milky skin, we would hate to see him get sunburnt.  So the boys play in the beach house and try not to be too impatient and sad.  Every now and then, you can't help but let your feelings show though.

Finally it is time.  Lion wastes no time in getting dressed and heading straight for the water.  For a long time he played happily on his own in the sea while Grandma rolled her shorts up shorter and shorter and still got wetter and wetter trying not to let Lion get too far out of reach.

The problem here, is that he has no fear of the water.  In spite of Mummy McT and Grandma and Grandad all calling him to stop (and the other family sharing the stinger enclosure all staring at the noisy people all yelling like fish wives), Lion kept wading into deeper water and pretending not to hear. 

Unfortunately for Lion, this happened once too often and he was confined to shore for some time.  He made the most of it by getting Dragon and Grandad to fetch buckets of water for him.  If Lion can't go to the ocean, the ocean must come to Lion.

Finally it was time to go home, so while Mummy McT gave Monkey a "top up" feed, Lion was allowed back in the sea for one last swim.  That tiny yellow blur in front of Dragon is Lion.

I hope they slept well last night.  I know I did :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Just Little Bear

Cheetah is having a holiday with grandparents on his dad's side of the family. So this week and next, Little Bear is an only child. This afternoon she came for a visit and so she had Grandma, Grandad and Mummy all to herself.
She made the most of it.
First, she rushed straight past Grandma, so she could get inside and see who else might be there, what there was to play with and what mischief she could get up to.

Once inside, she realised that there were no little cousins here today.  She had no one to play with, but she did have the whole house at her disposal.
And not just the house.  Grandad was home.  So she chased him with a butterfly net (or butt fly net if Dragon is talking) until she caught him.

That was so much fun that she decided to catch herself too.

Next she did one of her favourite things and put herself in the stroller and buckled herself in.  She just likes to  sit in it, not necessarily go anywhere.  That lasts for about 30 seconds and then she wants someone to unbuckle her because she can't do it herself.  One day we might leave her in there for . . . 
say . . .  five minutes, but I don't think I could stand the racket for even that short time.
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Worked well, didn't it?  I'll have to remember that little manipulation.
Then it was Grandad's turn to do some catching.  Believe it or not, she was saying "Cheese" while hanging upside down.  I guess she must have wanted this one snapped.

Last, she managed to squeeze in a bit of Jacaranda tree climbing before going home.  This is big brother, Cheetah's, favourite thing to do when he comes over.  Well . . . sitting in the Jacaranda tree and playing computer games, but not at the same time.  We do have a several computers, but so far we have not installed one in the Jacaranda tree.  I'm sure Cheetah would think that was a great idea though.

Little Bear didn't really want her photo taken in the tree and kept trying to turn away.  I kept saying, "Don't forget to hold on tight!"  In the end, she did hold on and I got a photo of her looking at the camera.

It was getting late when we buckled her into her car seat and waved good bye, and I'm guessing that she was unhappy about something because we could still hear her yelling at Mummy when the car was half way down the street.

That's our Little Grizzly Bear.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's Resolve

While we were at Balgal Beach, we visited our good friends B & E.  Don't they look content and relaxed?  It was good to catch up and see them so unstressed as 2009 was not a very easy year for them.  In fact I don't know if I could say that they have had an easy year since I've known them.  They've done things like going off to a remote area of the Philippines for months at a time to help with language translation so that the folk there could eventually read the Bible in their own language.  They've battled illness and advancing age and belt-tightening due to the GFC eating away at their superanuation and we all had problems with Biblically illiterate egomaniacs in church and parachurch heirarchies.  That's not new.  I believe it's been happening for about 2000 years.  But not to B and E for 2000 years.  They are not quite that old. 
They can still smile.
They shared this with us, so I thought it was worth sharing with everyone who visits my blog -

Recipe For A Happy New Year

Author Unknown

To leave the old with a burst of song

To recall the right and forgive the wrong;

To forget the thing that binds you fast

To the vain regrets of the year that's past;

To have the strength to let go your hold

Of the not worthwhile of the days grown old,

To dare to go forth with a purpose true,

To the unknown task of the year that's new;

To help your brother along the road

To do his work and lift his load;

To add your gift to the world's good cheer,

Is to have and to give a Happy New Year.


Happy New Year 2010

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Balgal Beach

How many places can you have this much beach to yourself at the height of Summer?  I would guess-timate that there is a couple of kilometers of beach there, but there is one other person on the beach - way down in the distance on the RH side.  Too small to see without a microscope.  Let's be honest.  It had been raining on and off for days.  That bit of blue sky was the most we had seen in days.  The sea had been a bit choppy and quite a bit of seaweed and sea grass was washed up on the beach in spots.  And . . .  it is stinger season. 
For those folk who don't know about our stingers.  Let me tell you, they are fairly small as jelly fish go, but they are deadly.  Not metaphorically deadly, but DEADLY.  There is a stinger enclosure (to keep the stingers out, not in) about half way down the beach but it can't be seen in the photo.  So you can still swim, but it is too hot most of the day to stay in the sun for more than a few minutes.  Sunburn is another big problem.  But in the cool of the afternoon there is no better place to be.
Today, the black cockatoos were having a ball feasting on sea almonds (I think that is what they are called) that fall off the trees.  These birds are about twice the size of a crow and when they fly, their tail feathers fan out to reveal that brilliant red patch underneath.  Like all cockatoos, they are very entertaining to watch.  I couldn't get them to cooperate for a photo of those magnificent tails, unfortunately.

The weather was steamy and the clouds hung low around the mountains and hills in a way that makes you feel this is what the tropics are meant to be like.  Believe me there are real crocodiles in there.  I wouldn't go swimming in this part of the creek.  I wouldn't let a dog swim there either.  Crocodiles are known to be partial to a bit of canine cuisine.  In the recent past, dingos have been seen coming down to the creek for a drink.  Maybe the crocs ate them all ;)

I can't resist the rocks out at the point.  They have so many interesting shapes and there are always tiny fish or crabs running swimming for cover as you approach their small world.

The creek was swollen and running swiftly.  Not great for swimming because a lot of weed and silt is being washed through, but there were some brave souls trying it out.  Crocodiles don't usually come this far up the creek.  It is too shallow and rugged for them to get here so far.

All in all, just another beautiful day in paradise.
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Granny's tunes

Mr. Sunshine & Grannysaurus

Mr. Sunshine & Grannysaurus


About Me

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Townsville, Queensland, Australia
I have worked as a Biology lab assistant, Pathology lab assistant, geochem lab assistant, land tenure researcher, hospital and prison chaplain, parish care coordinator and part owner of a small business. I have studied some science (no degrees) and have a theology and a chaplaincy certificate. I still love science of all types and enjoy studying theology. Science and theology belong together. At present I am a work-at-home Grannysaurus.

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