Saturday, July 30, 2011

Beach Refugee

No, not us this time.
Meet Myrtle.
I discovered Myrtle lying on the beach when I went for a walk yesterday afternoon.  She (or he, I know nothing about turtle gender) did not look very well.  At first I thought she was already dead, but when I gently lifted one of her flippers she tried to turn around and do a runner paddler.  Poor Myrtle was in a very bad way.  What to do? What to do?
Usually I would have my mobile with me, but I'd left it at home. I stood and watched her for a few minutes and it was obvious she didn't have the energy to get herself back to sea.  I knew that sick and dead sea turtles had been found on Townsville beaches recently.  Cyclone Yasi gets the blame again and rightly so.  The rough seas whipped up by the cyclone had destroyed most of the sea grass that the turtles feed on and now, six months later, turtles were starving and dying.  Poor Myrtle.  There was only one thing for it.  Pick her up and take her home and phone for help from there.
Myrtle might be starving and underweight, but she was still heavy.  Fortunately I was only a couple of hundred yards from home where I put Myrtle in the bath tub.  She took up most of the bath tub. After several phone calls I spoke to someone who told me that she was a green turtle and to cover her with an old bag or hessian and keep her wet with warm water.  Not having any hessian she got my good recently worn out Actil sheets. I think she looks like a well dressed turtle.  He also told me that the algae on her carapace was not a good sign.  The barnacles were more normal, but still not great to have on her head and flippers.

Myrtle spent the night in the tub and in the morning it did look as though she was an ex-turtle.  She wasn't moving at all.  When someone rang from the EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) Mr Sunshine told them that we thought she had died.  Just before I left for an appointment, I lifted her little flipper to have one last look at her and just to be sure she wasn't playing possum.  She moved her head - ever so slightly, but she was alive.  While I was out the EPA man came to pick up Myrtle's mortal remains and Mr Sunshine produced a live turtle.  They took Myrtle out into the sun, poured some more warm water over her and let the sun warm her up.  She perked up a bit.  It was a good sign.

The news is that Townsville's Reef HQ already has so many convalescing green turtles that Myrtle will probably be sent up to Cairns.  Apparently we are reasonably good turtle carers, but we could have kept her on some foam (maybe one of my pillows??) to take a weight off her lower carapace and we could have warmed her up more.  You live and learn.
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The best news is that with expert care, she will probably fully recover.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Promise of good things to come

The mango trees are covered in blossom and already have hundreds of tiny fruit.  Many of the fruitlets (is that a word?) will fall off or be blown off by the wind.  Last year all of the fruit fell before it matured.  It was the worst year ever for mango growers. So far this season looks very promising.
My favourite way of eating mango is after they have been dehydrated. I have a food dryer and I'm planning to have it go into mass production this summer :-) I may share the produce with friends and family. That is after I put aside several truckloads for myself.  I told you I really do like dried mango.
Speaking of the promise of good things to come, I took this photo of a path down to the sea yesterday.  I love the "light at the end of the tunnel" atmosphere. I was hoping to get a nice sunset photo. Mostly cloudless skies are not producing the best sunsets, but I'm glad I snapped this one.
Even though the sunsets may not be as spectacular as I hope for, I've included the last photo so that you know they are not rubbish either.
Maybe the light at the end of the tunnel is a good omen.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gorgeous Birds

These days I don't see as much of the grandkids as I used to, so I take an interest in the other families around the beach. 

The photo collage gives you little glimpse of some of our neighbours.  There are many, many more who prefer to be heard and not seen.  In fact the air is usually so full of birdsong that I rarely put my music on.  Back in town I often had music playing as an alternative to listening to air and road traffic noises.
You already know my favourites are the Brahminy Kite family. Their baby is now flying, but I haven't seen him in action yet.  The Nankeen Night Heron regularly roosts in the top canopy of our biggest mango tree.  He would prefer to be closer to the sea, but was probably forced to improvise following Cyclone Yasi and the lack of foliage left on most trees.  Blue Winged Kookaburras regularly wake us up with their strange half laugh.  They are also called Barking Kookaburras, but whoever came up with that name must have had a strange dog.
Spangled Drongos are an enigma.  Someone said they are called Drongos after silly people, because they fly south in the winter (i.e. for northern hemisphere readers - our south is the coldest part of the country) making them appear silly.  Some other 'expert' claimed that silly people are labelled Drongos after the birds. Which came first? I don't know.
Like I said, it's just a glimpse.
It really is a bird watcher's paradise as long as you want to watch the feathered variety.  The only non-feathered variety is a migratory species usually referred to as the Grey Nomad.  They are very common at this time of year, sometimes forming huge flocks that create problems for traffic and National Parks rangers.
They don't tolerate the heat of summer and when the weather warms up they all return to their nests.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Not me.
This beautiful fellow.
Can you see him at the bottom of the fence? He was about 1.5 meters long.
Many people think every snake is a bad snake.  I like to give them the benefit of the doubt when it is safe to do so.  I believe this is a harmless green tree snake. I tried to get closer to be sure, but he disappeared in the blink of an eye.  I didn't even see which way he went.
Some people call them yellow-bellied black snakes and think they are poisonous like red-bellied black snakes, but there is no such creature in Australia as a yellow-bellied black snake - just the poor misunderstood tree snake.
I was fortunate enough to be looking out of the kitchen window when I spotted him.
He made my day.
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Recovery Mode

Cyclone Yasi was over five months ago, but the memory lingers on at the beach. Hundreds of trees like this one on the foreshore have roots exposed by the erosion that has left a small embankment separating the foreshore and the sand.  They are the lucky ones.
Many didn't make it.  Some survived the initial onslaught only to be weakened and unable to survive the dry season. 

To be perfectly honest, I'm feeling a bit the same.  The storm that was the GFC cost us our life savings, our home, our business and a chunk of our superannuation.  It also cost us hundreds of hours of lost sleep.  Like cyclone Yasi, it isn't really over yet.  We are still in recovery mode.

Our future is very uncertain.   Suitable employment seems to be eluding us.  We live in a borrowed house.  Our grandchildren are a fifty minute drive away instead of a five minute drive away. And we are not young anymore.  There is a strong possibility that we may have to move much further away from family for Mr Sunshine to find a job.  Being "not young anymore" makes the likelihood of a career change unlikely.  I don't know which one of these things is the hardest to deal with.  All of them are depressing and we have good days and bad days. Today is not a good day.

Mostly I am very optimistic and upbeat, but not today.  This may be because we have been discussing other options - like taking up university study again for either of us.  Even that would not guarantee a job, but it might get me a student allowance for a few years (Austudy) - not exactly a lucrative option.  Mr Sunshine thinks I should study just for the fun of it.  I would enjoy it, but it would also encroach on my grandparenting time and that would hurt.  Even though I would chose study aimed at a writing career (can I say that when retirement age is only about 4 years away 9 years away, b*****y government's eligibility changes), it would actually also encroach on the time available to do the writing I want to do.

Anyone got any ideas?
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Eagle by Alfred Lord Tennyson

"The Eagle" was one of my favourite and easiest to memorise poems from high school.  Our eagles may not be clasping any crags, just gum tree branches, and the mountain walls are 20 kilometers away, but the rest is pretty true.  They do seem to have a lonely existence.  Even the chick sits alone in his eerie most of the day while one of his parents looks on from a distance and the other is out hunting.  I have not yet seen any two of them get within meters of each other.  Although at night I can only see one adult and I suspect that the other is in the nearby eerie keeping her chick warm.
The bottom two pictures are to give you some idea of how my poor camera is struggling to bring them up close.  I have a 200mm telephoto lens that is doing a mighty job and a wobbly tripod that is doing its best, but these lovely birds like to be really high. So if the photos are not pin sharp, I hope you will bear with me.
If I can get a photo of one of them falling like a thunderbolt I will share it with you, but, like a thunderbolt, it happens very fast and furious.  The bird is away with a fish almost before I have the camera at eye level.

The Eagle

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809–1892 Alfred, Lord Tennyson

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;

Close to the sun in lonely lands,

Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;

He watches from his mountain walls,

And like a thunderbolt he falls.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tiny Time Team

If you haven't seen Time Team on the television you are missing out on archeology at its most entertaining.  The McTavish boys have been keen archaeologists thanks to Tony Robinson and crew.  A few weeks ago when they visited us, Lion did some digging in the garden and under the trees and eventually became frustrated and threw in the trowel because he couldn't find any archeology. 
A devoted Grannysaurus could not leave it at that.  If the boys wanted to find archeology, then archeology had to be found.  So mysteriously archeology started to find its way under the big mango tree.  Very sensible of previous civilizations to leave their relics in the shade. Old tools, hose fittings, coins, bones and odds and ends were lying just below the surface waiting to be discovered apparently.  So when the boys returned for another sleepover, we decided to put in two trenches.  What do you know - they found plenty of archeology.  The most exciting finds were the "dating evidence" (the coins).
As usual Dragon was the King of Silly Faces. Unfortunately Cheetah didn't star in any of the photos of the day because he was the official photographer.  I love his photo of Lion in the middle top of the collage. 
Morning tea was Anzac biscuits again thanks to Cheetah's kitchen skill.
Would you believe that four year old Dragon actually accused me of putting the archeology in the ground?   No flies on that boy!
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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cheetah Feature

As I said in a previous post, Cheetah, our oldest grandchild and for a long time an OG (only grandchild), came and stayed with us for a few days of the school holidays.  He wasn't a slacker either. I asked him if he wanted to prune the mango tree where some of the branches hung too low.  He didn't have to be asked twice when it comes to using big tools.  In no time at all he had a pile of branches nearly as tall as himself.  (see footnote)  This wasn't all he did.
He also dug holes, raked leaves, took out the compost, baked bread, made macaroni cheese for dinner and baked Anzac biscuits for his family.  Anzac biscuits are an Aussie icon, a bit like oatmeal cookies if you are an American, but tastier.  You can see Cheetah with some cooked biscuits still on the tray in the far RH picture below.
At times we did let him out of the kitchen to have some rest and relaxation playing computer games or exercising on an old drum (maybe we should rename him Hamster).  We also had an outing to the Cassowary Coast to do some bushwalking at Jourama Falls National Park. Note to self - never again take energetic, impulsive grandchildren to places with steep cliffs, loose rocks or cold, deep water.  They might survive, but my nerves may never be the same.
While the day was still young we kept driving and had lunch in Ingham and a quick visit to Cardwell.  Cardwell was one of the towns in the line of fire from cyclone Yasi and suffered badly. The environmental and building damage is still in evidence and will be for years in places.  But... it is still a beautiful little beach-side town.  The view of Hinchinbrook Island is a classic picturesque seascape.
Next week we get him back for four more days. 
I wonder if the septic tank needs to be re-dug.
Footnote - our electricity company was also pruning trees around power lines in the vicinity and the mango tree did have branches close to powerlines. It is possible that Cheetah's huge pile of mango clippings had some help from a nice man with a chain saw and a sense of humour.

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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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