Monday, April 30, 2007

The winds of change and a Seabreeze

Nightcliff foreshore gathering
Gathering at the foreshore

The beginning of the dry season came with a bang this year! In the space of about two weeks the dry southerly winds have arrived and blown away the tropical humidity and afternoon showers. The grass is drying and Spring fever is all around.
The Seabreeze festival along Nightcliff foreshore was a great hit on the weekend and the atmosphere was amazing. There were bands all along the strip from the boat ramp to Rapid creek bridge! Jumping castles on the grass and sand castles on the beach, cultures, sculptures and and beanbag jugglers! There were artists, cyclists and competition finalists! So many folks in the street food to eat a chai tea tent where we all could meet. There were kids with dogs a man with a parrot scrap metal cows and recycled creatures that defied description! Bicycles, tricycles and even a one wheeled onecycle (you know a unicycle)Wobbling and swaying under the cheerful magic of a teenaged clown, face painted and laughing at the crowd he rolls by. Ecstatic anonymous joy. Delight happiness. Kids climbing trees, skinning knees laughing shouting free and and begging mum please let us stay till dark! They're running freely, wild through the park, the band pumps it up and the kids are jumping and rolling in the grass while parents let down their guard as they sit in the gentle afternoon seabreeze. The knock'em-downs will be around soon enough.
So we checked it all out sat for a while walked ate some cake and drank Chai and filtered coffee, banged along to the band with the lagerphone we made and enjoyed the ease of a welcome dry in the season of festivals and visitors, dry air and cool nights! It's great to be here!

kid rider
Kid's bike extender

Lions in parade
Chung Wah Lions in parade

Latin Rhythms
Latin Rhythms

Bali music and culture
Bali Music and culture

Supreme Court Ruling on McArthur River Mine!
There is some justice in the NT after all but the fight is not over! The Supreme court has found in favor of the Traditional owners who disputed the mining approval. This is a great victory for Territorians whether we appreciate it or not. There is currently a lot of pressure to disregard environmental safeguards if they threaten to slow mining approvals in any way. The recent Supreme court decision should cause governments to seriously re-think their appraisal of environmental impacts. I hope they don't retaliate by diluting of these laws.
Check out the McArthur River blog for more info HERE.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Coffee on computer

Yesterday morning my daughter spilled a full cup of coffee on my computer keyboard! The system shut down immediately! I was sure it was ruined but wanted to try and fix it anyway!
I turned the keyboard upside down and let the coffee drain out, only to find that the keys were all sticking. So I unscrewed it and pulled it apart (very interestingly made). I then threw the keyboard and the soft latex or silicon button pad in a bath tub full of water and let them soak for about half an hour. I then shook as much water out of them as I could and hung them on the clothes line to be dried in the warm wind.
The circuit pad had three layers and coffee had managed to infiltrate the spaces between them and stick them together. I wiped these down with a wet cloth then wiped away excess water and separated then with pegs then left them to dry.
When everything was dry and I had tested the keys to make sure they didn't stick I put the whole thing back together and it now works beautifully! That was fun!

At 5:00am Mum and I drove in to the Esplanade and attended the ANZAC day Dawn Service. I think this was Mum's first. This year our administrator The Honorable Mr Ted Egan gave a very stirring speech about Simpson and his donkey and commented on how humanity can triumph in the face of so much evil. He then sang for us and the memory of those who had lost their lives in war. Thanks Ted you are a True statesman and a benevolent friend to us all!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

No Posts

I haven't posted for ages because I just haven't had the time or the inclination. Physically and emotionally spent, beat, empty!
I don't have to explain this. It's just the way it is. No desire to write or tell any stories! Nothing interesting to offer.
I got so off doing this that I forgot my login!
So anyway I'll crawl back out of my shell to say a few things before I lose interest again.
2004 Young Australian of the year Hugh Evans came to visit the Uni this week so I went to listen to him talk about making poverty history, the Oaktree foundation and 07.07.07. What an inspiration! Good on you Hugh!
The weather here in Darwin is great now. The dry winds are blowing and the humidity has dropped heaps. Everything is drying out and becoming cooler. But I still have no energy for fun stuff. Got sick last week and ended up in bed with a fever! My mum's visiting and brought a quilt which she'd spent ages making. We don't usually need such heavy night coverings up here but I was shivering and shaking and it was just what I needed when I came home sic from work! Great timing Mum.

I've discovered Rune Scape and will probably use my blogging time playing that instead of prattling on about what I think is good bad or whatever.

The lyrics of a Redgum song are rattling through my brain right now. and "Orange laminex Pizza bars bring me down!"

ANZAC day tomorrow, I think I'll try to make it to the Dawn service.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The immobilized and the free

I did finally manage to get out on my new (from the tip shop) bike before work yesterday.
That chair I've been working on needs re-upholstering and I'd really like to do it using the original method. This will require me to reinforce the base with webbing so I decided I would put my bush survival skills to use and source some stuff from a car graveyard off Lee Point Rd. The scrub out there is full of dumped cars and burned out wrecks!

grevillea sp.
Grevillea sp.

It's kind of a paradoxical place. On one hand there is quite a bit of really interesting native plant and animal life but on the other it is infested with weeds, vandals, thieves and the kind of feral animals that are inclined to hunt you down and eat you if you don't put up a good fight!
As I veered away from the road and entered the scrub I had an uncomfortable feeling that I wouldn't like to come across anybody out here, who knows what they might be up to! Recreational 4X4 drivers, motocross riders and kids in stolen cars have created a maze of tracks through the bush and these are all strewn with illegally dumped building waste and all kinds of other junk, I never know what I'm going to happen across out there. One thing can be guaranteed though; there's bound to be dumped cars! It just so happened that this is exactly what I wanted to find, the hardest thing was to find one that wasn't completely burned out.

As I rode along a path that wove it's way between infested Gamba grass wastelands and near pristine Melaleuca wetlands I did manage to see heaps of interesting birds. These included a Red headed honey-eater, a pair of Pheasant coucals, a couple of unidentified waders and large flocks of Long-tailed finches and Mannequins. Awesome! Although the high ground has dried, a lot of the tracks were flooded with clear flowing streams and deep pools of fresh water. It's not likely too many people would have been able to get a car through during the wet season.

The imobilzed and the free
This car won't be moved any time soon

Finally I came across a car that had been smashed up and dumped some time ago so I pulled up to check that it still had seat belts, (for those who don't know the webbing I'm looking for is basically seat belt material).
Just as I was dismounting my bike I heard a deep growl! I looked towards the source of this ominous sound and discovered a couple of wild dogs about 15 meters away! One looked mostly Dingo the other some kind of large tan and black hunting dog, they both had their hackles up and the larger one began to bark at me in a frighteningly aggressive manner. He fiercely lunged forward with each bark and it looked like they were about to charge me! OH SHIT!
I immediately started to roar back at the dogs and quickly scanned the bush all around me to see if there were any more of the little mongrels lurking around. I've been attacked by dogs before and they used a decoy to confront me while a sneakier animal would quietly approach from behind! I looked over my shoulder and could see nothing. I listened for other dogs or maybe another person but there appeared to be none. It was a stand off! In my most authoritative voice I commanded they 'Go-onnn Git Outuvit!' They stood for another moment silently then confidently entered the bush and skirted around the car. I thought this is it they're coming in for the kill! I faced them, the whole time expecting them to launch an attack from the cover of the car but instead the yellow dog ran off through the bush so the big hunter took of with it! Thank goodness for that!

I grabbed what I needed and got out of there. Following the track back to the Buffalo creek road I came across a lot more dumped cars and amazingly saw a fair bit of wildlife. Once I had recovered from the adrenalin pumping ordeal with the dogs I actually felt quite calm and enjoyed the rest of my ride. The morning light made the whole place seem kind of magical and a different species of bird presented itself as I rounded every corner. We are now on the ebb of the wet season heading into the dry. There is an abundance of food available in the bush as many of the plants are flowering or have gone to seed, there is water everywhere but the skys are turning blue. What an awesome time and place to exist!

broke cars
The old sewerage pond: now the resting place of many a lost family vehicle

The Bike
I did have some trouble with the gears on the bike and I think the rear dérailleur might be stuffed but the suspension was awesome! The fat semi inflated tires got me across some really sandy tracks without sinking and the suspension enabled me to glide over some pretty deep corrugations and washouts in the track. A bit slow on the road but awesome in the rough! The bike tracks kind of funny though and I can't figure it out. When I'm riding the front wheel doesn't turn smoothly. It tends to want to track straight but sort of flips when I make a turn. This could be dangerous on gravel as exaggerated front wheel movement could easily lead to a slide out! I wonder if it has something to do with the geometry in the angle of the front forks? If there's too much rake this may interfere with the turning and it's likely there's nothing I can do about that. I'll try and fix the gears this week but have no experience with this so don't fancy my chances of improving anything.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Her Majesty

I promised myself the next post would be full of cycling adventures and exciting photos but alas I haven't had time for any such folly! However I must wonder how interesting others might find my photos of a chair and a lump of play dough!
I did finally get to watch the video we borrowed last week though. It was a great New Zealand film called Her Majesty. Set around the Queen of England's visit to New Zealand in 1953. The story centred on the relationship between a young girl named Elizabeth (Sally Andrews) and a elderly Maori woman Hira Mata (Vicky Haughton) living in a town that has all but forgotten it's shameful past. The old woman appeared to be one of the last remaining descendants of a great chief who had fought the colonists and won the admiration of their Monarch many years ago. This was an excelent film! The style was kind of like a children's movie with occasional comical child's eye views of looming adults with exaggerated features, but didn't cross the line into becoming a children's film.
Although there were several very sentimental moments in the film it held credibility for me and I think the symbology was appropriate. I am sure many of the issues expressed in the film are just as appropriate today. There was an interesting scene where Hira Mata explains the notches on her walking stick and the aural tradition of recounting genealogy, the loss of tradition and the importance of passing on and sharing traditional knowledge and culture with the next generation.
I think the film expressed the importance of intergenerational relationships. It is so important for there to be a link between elders and young people. If these relationships are not nurtured and encouraged I think we will loose a very important link in our humanity that has already shown disastrous effects in the lives of young people and has lead to our elders becoming alone and forgotten.

New Zealand is the theme of the day for me at the moment. I have also just begun reading a book about the Maori / New Zealand wars.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The chair

Kitchen chair

Almost a year ago I brought home a chair from the tip. I promised Sam that by the coming wet season I would have it restored to some kind of usable condition. I also posted to the blog that I'd be doing this in an attempt to spur on a creative surge that would lead to me accomplishing great things. Well I'm pleased to say that after nearly a year I have started to sand back the paint off this old chair. Stay tuned for more developments!

The Rhino and the turtle.
My daughter has some toys from a range known as little people. This Rhino is part of the set. When I saw him I was surprised to see a turtle on his back! What is that all about? Rhinos live in the savanna on dry land. There wouldn't be too many aquatic terrapins out there, even if there was I doubt any of them could sneak up close enough to jump on the back of a Rhinoceros. If it were possible for a terrapin to sneak up on the Rhino it would have to be able to jump higher than a frog to get onto its back. I suppose a terrapin could theoretically wander up an embankment that Rhino may happen to pass closely by and then quite by chance or some bizarre evolutionary design step onto the back of a Rhino as it came near. I believe this scenario is highly unlikely and still doesn't explain why the turtle was so far away from his pond in the first place.

Rhino with turtle?

I propose that the solution is more simple. The good folk at Fis*er-P*ice who make these toys have made a mistake. Surely they have mistaken a Rhino for a Hippo! They are both large gray animals but a Hippo is broad and fat and lives in the water and a Rhino is more angular, has a great horn on the front of his head and lives on dry land. A hippo is a much more likely candidate for giving piggy back rides to small green pond dwellers. I'm sure the company must have been told about their error already but I'll try and contact them to see what they have to say. The honor of plastic rhinos throughout the world may be at stake!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Four Days

Now is the last day of the four day Easter break. It's been a great chance to relax and enjoy being with the family. We've had a great time just hanging out together and taking it easy.
Sam has recently joined a church who get together for the Passover as part of their Easter program. Prior to Thursday night I was quite ignorant of the the various observances leading up to Easter but am keenly interested to learn more. I was glad to have been invited to attend and was very impressed with the service. We shared a meal of Lamb, bitter herbs, flat bread, salt water and boiled eggs. While the minister put the evening in context by reading a brief description of the event from the old testament when the Hebrews were saved from a pestilence which passed over Egypt delivering death to all first born. The service then moved on to the last supper and the events prior to Jesus capture and crucifixion by the Romans.

Before Thursday I had no idea of the significance of the Passover it was a great way to learn about these religious practices. The atmosphere in this Church is accepting and inviting, the people seem to practice true fellowship and the atmosphere very friendly and inclusive. So far I have been made to feel very welcome even though I have revealed to them that I am not a Christian. I would like to attend future services but can’t help feeling like an impostor and wonder if it is an imposition on them to have a non-Christian attending so regularly. I can’t help thinking my presence would somehow dilute the faith of their community.

Friday - Play & Lee Point Beach

dough Art
Play-dough craft

On Friday we got up early and made a great batch of play-dough in four colours, red, blue, green and and pink. It's quite bizarre that flower can be bought far cheaper than clay and surely with all the starving people in the world it would be better eaten than molded into childish figures but such is life. Kids love playing with dough! Ours did for most of the morning until we put together the ever expanding Thomas track and played trains and farm animals for most of the day.

Lee Point beach 04.07
Lee Point beach, (Casuarina Coastal Reserve)

In the afternoon we went to Lee Point Beach and tried to fly our kite, there wasn’t enough of a breeze but I can’t be sure this is the reason it didn’t fly because I have never been able to get a kite off the ground for more than a few seconds! Somebody please tell me what is the trick! (I have since read that in Bermuda Christians fly kites on Good Friday as a symbolic gesture for the crucifixion of Jesus and his assent to heaven. What a coincidence that we chose to take the kite out on Good Friday!)

Driftwood on the beach

I prefer not to take the dog to the beach for a variety of reasons but she hadn’t been out for a while and Sam insisted. After just a couple of minutes there I already regretted having her with us. It wasn’t her so much as the accumulated harm caused by dogs and people in general. After being at the beach for just five minutes we were astounded to see a precession of people and dogs all filing onto the beach from the car park. It was peak hour at Lee Point and nowhere to stand without being accosted by frantic and excited K9s.
Besides the humbug of so many animals and people there is also the associated masses of dog shit polluting the beach. But this is not the thing that really bugs me. Lea Point beach is renowned for it’s migratory birds and is a flat backed turtle breeding site. There are small shore birds and waders dotted all along the coast, which are under constant attack from boisterous hounds, playful pups and bloodthirsty beasts! I have watched people unleash their dogs simply to allow them the joy of chasing wheeling shoals of shorebirds along the coast. The dogs barking and scampering as the birds launch from one roosting site to the next! Although it is unlikely the dogs would ever catch any birds, although they may, the effect of continually taking flight must be exhausting for the birds and would surely reduce their ability to survive. It sickens me to see so many dogs on the beach forcing the natural inhabitants off to who knows where.
Although our dog doesn’t stray from us while we walk, as far as I can see we are contributing to the harm done by so many thoughtless visitors. There is now a new dog free zone between Lee Point and Buffalo creek, but the signage is easy to miss on a low tide and we actually entered the area with our dog! We were not alone and I watched in horror as two young blokes took their unrestrained dogs straight into an area that was full of birds! One of the dogs chased something into the bushes and the whole thing got out of hand. This is just one small example of something that must be played out innumerable times on any day throughout the week. All the time the wildlife suffering so we can roam where we like. Soon the tourists will arrive at Lee Point caravan park and the beach will be littered with their plastic bait bags which are left to be washed into the sea and eaten by flat backed turtles! Coincidentally the turtles lay their eggs on the beaches of Casuarina coastal reserve but these are often dug up and incubated by Parks and Wildlife staff because they would stand no chance of survival with so many dogs roaming the beach! We have decided we will not take our dog out there anymore.

Dead shore bird devoured by hermit crabs

On Saturday I bought a copy of The Ten Commandments on DVD for under $10! What a bargain! We've been watching it on and off all weekend. Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston were awesome and the poetic theatrics of the movie are great to watch especially since this kind of acting has been ditched for less wordy stuff. The masses of people seen in wide angle shots are actual people and not computer generated AI replicas! Of course there has been heaps of criticism of the films lack of authenticity in keeping with the story but I don't feel to corrupted. These days we are exposed to so many interpretations of historical or religious events that I expect most people would be able to establish that this is not the definitive account of what happened 3,000 years ago.
Saturday night we rode our bikes down to the Bucket park and met with some friends. We played in the pool/lake for about 2 hours! She hasn't been in the water for about four months and had forgotten how to hold her breath in the water but soon caught on and was keen to practice. It was a great day and the beginnings of the weather was very close to dry true dry season.

On Sunday we ate lunch with friends who live in a third floor apartment opposite Nightcliff beach and enjoyed another delicious roast. The pumpkin was absolutely delicious thanks Gillian. From where we sat we could see the first mass of dragonflies stretching their newly emerged wings as they hovered on the sea breeze above the Casuarinas and Eucalypts. After lunch we ate a little chocolate and relaxed into the afternoon. The kids sang improvised songs and dressed up in costumes. They paraded themselves in front of us and waited for the applause, then they'd race off to find something more stunning to impress us with. When the costumes ran out they paraded around in their birthday suits! When the novelty of all this play had worn off and we were beginning to get drowsy it was time to go so we packed ourselves up and departed for an afternoon snooze! What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A couple of young Curlew siblings

Curlew siblings
Originally uploaded by davidfntau.
How great it is to see such amazing creatures so close to home. Flocks of Magpie geese grazing amongst the mangoes, columns of Brolgas spiraling above crowded billabongs, dueling frilled lizards on the paths and and tree monitors hidden in hollows.
What other city could possibly claim so much wildlife?

A visit to the dentist on Monday relieved the shocking head-ache I'd been nursing for the past couple of weeks and I am now feeling almost normal. It must be time for a dawn stroll along Casuarina beach!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Fuzzy headed

I've finally realized why I don't have any energy for my usual activities lately! My busy schedule has just about warn me down and I'm totally over this business of going to school too! I will not discuss the futility of the course I am studying except to say that I should probably be reconsidering my choices before the qualification I am working towards is made totally redundant by a script writer somewhere in information technology land.
I've had a headache for the past 2 weeks and have finally conceded that it isn't going to go away on it's own. I am quite sure now the pain is connected to a filling I got about a month ago. I had been bearing it for ages but by Friday afternoon I just snapped! I have made an appointment with the Dentist for Monday morning and have even turned to codeine for pain relief! Something I have not touched in over eight years. I'm feeling a bit fuzzy headed but at least it has taken the edge off!

I had been really agitated and grumpy for the past week and couldn't figure out why. Now that I have realized it is the pain I have given myself a bit of a break and am avoiding stressful situations, I don't want to wind up ranting any more than usual!

Did you know that good teeth are a major factor in the survival of most mammals and that a perfectly healthy animal will die when it's teeth give out? This includes human beings! My teeth are so crap that in the wild under natural conditions I possibly wouldn't have lived much beyond 27 years old! Unless of course I could find someone willing to pre-chew my food so it would be soft enough for me to digest! Thank goodness for modern dentistry and temporary pain relief!

So anyway there's not a great deal more to tell. I took the family (including our dog) for a walk down at Holmes Jungle yesterday morning, there was a lot of water and we had a great time splashing in puddles. The dog enjoyed the outing as she has been confined to the yard for way too long. I have no capacity for whit or even sarcastic humor today. I am totally distracted by my own discomfort so you'll just have to look at the pretty photos!

dragonfly on rock
Dragonfly on stones

Speargrass seeds
Spear grass in seed

pink flower
A pink flower I can't remember it's name it is a native don't humbug me I'm feeling sick! (P.S. According to Brock's Native Plants of Northern Australia they're called Vigna vexillata; no common name offered)