Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Raise your hand if you agree

Gecko votes

We've had a hectic week. Queensland State Elections occurred on Saturday and we drove to town to vote at the nearest polling booth. Australian citizens who do not vote are fined. We would vote regardless. Despite my observation that my choice seldom gets elected, I do not take my right to vote for granted. Afterward we enjoyed visiting a local exhibition of paintings by our friends Steve and Marijke Hancock - a lovely way to refocus our agitated minds away from politics and onto appreciation of the wonderful creativity in the community around us.

Polling Booth

On Sunday we went to a community meeting to discuss the process of lodging objections to a mining lease extension to the area containing the headwaters of the creek that we depend on for domestic water. The current mining operation is located near the headwaters of the adjacent creek and has received an environmental protection order, requiring that the mine leaseholder and mine operator stop releasing contaminated water.

Bottom Pit beside Jamie Creek
Both creeks flow into the Walsh River. Dead fish have been found downstream and residents have been told not to drink the water or use it for stock after it was contaminated with heavy metals. Long time residents do not ever remember seeing dead fish in the river.

We feel concerned for the future wellbeing of our own water supply should the mining lease extension be granted. Arsenic levels are already elevated from historic mining in the area. Any further elevation could make it untenable for us to live here.

Assured last year that safeguards would be in place to avoid environmental breaches at the current mining site, we have been trying to endure the noise of continuous mining activity, 24 hours a day, seven days a week as well as lights that set the southern skyline aglow all night long. The recent contaminated water releases occurred in association with heavy rains, but heavy rains surprise no one here. This is the Tropics and it's the Wet Season. We realise there is no such environmental security as we envisioned. An expansion of mining activities would bring mining activities, water degradation, even more noise and light pollution closer to our home.

Do you detect the erosion of our sense of well-being and joy? As custodians of this land, we recognise that we have a responsibility to act to conserve our natural systems for current and future generations.

On Monday we lodged our objections.

Handspun cotton
I continue to spin and ply cotton as work with the wheel and spindle help calm my mind. And we continue to enjoy our fellow travellers – the frogs, crabs and fish in the creek, the quolls, frilled-neck lizards, bower birds, kookaburras, sugar gliders, bats – and all the fauna that depend on the permanent slow seeps and billabongs of the creek in the Dry Season as well as the generous flow in the Wet Season.


post by M in JaM

photos by JaM

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Fallen Ironbark

This week a mighty ironbark eucalyptus came crashing down, succumbing to hidden white ant infestation. Inside the house, we froze momentarily, shocked by the noise. 
J beside downed ironbark; decapitated bloodwood in foreground

The ironbark, around 25 metres tall (60-70 feet), fell between the fence and the driveway and destroyed some small trees, decapitating a bloodwood. We're glad the driveway didn't get blocked.
Bloodwood eucalyptus

Meanwhile, the current damp weather makes me reluctant to open cupboards and bins in my campaign to reduce stored clutter. Just peeking inside signals authorisation for the development of new mildew colonies. White ants, mildew and rust are relentless teachers of the desirability of keeping possessions to a minimum in the Tropics.
Shredded paper mulch

I have managed to sort through files of old papers and shred many. J has been using the shredded paper as mulch. I get a little glow seeing results of de-cluttering put to good use.

Have I been sitting too much at my wheel and spinning cotton lately? The dog thinks so. She put a tennis ball instead of a spanner in the works. Isn't it time for a walk, she pleads with begging eyes aglow.

GIMP has a nifty filter for correcting the Red Eye Glow problem in photo portraits, but I couldn't get it to work on the dog's eyes. Eventually, J pointed out that dogs don't have a Red Eye Glow problem. They have a Yellow-Green Eye Glow problem. Doh! I decided to leave the dog's glowing eyes as a design element that relates to the yellow-green tennis ball (i.e. no problem, no correction required)... and go for a walk.

post and pix by M in JaM

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Piece Of My Heart

Poster by Michael DuBois

I'm pleased to relay news of two celebrations on Monday 12, 2012:
(Details may be found at: Owsley Stanley Foundation events)
  • Piece of My Heart – the Owsley Stanley Party in Woodstock, New York
  • Owsley Stanley Remembrance and CD Release Party in Mill Valley, California

All friends, family and followers of the late great Owsley Stanley are invited to celebrate his remarkable life, and to be among the first to hear Columbia/Legacy Recordings release, the first of “Bear's Sonic Journals”: Big Brother & the Holding Company Featuring Janis Joplin Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968. Recorded & Produced by Owsley Stanley (“Bear”).

We can get across the creek but we won't make it to either party in the USA. If you can make it, enjoy yourselves! We'll be there in spirit and shall remember old times.

Tis the season for speargrass here in Far North Queensland. It grows taller than my head. Thankfully, there are no lions lurking there, but when I walk through this tall grass, some ancestral worry does get activated. I'm waiting for the winds that blow down the grass.

Despite Australia's lack of large felines, our region does have so-called native cats, more properly named quolls. The local variety grows as big as a small house cat. Quolls are fierce. One raided the neighbour's chicken house. The quoll managed to pull one chicken's leg through the wire mesh cage and was determined to pull the rest of the squawking chicken through as well. We don't raise chickens, so it's always a treat to spot a quoll.

J took the pump out of the creek as we expected the creek to rise. We don't want the pump to get washed away in flood waters. But the creek hasn't gotten very high at all, so far. We've had less than normal rainfall this season. Last year we had twice the normal rate by this time. We decided to put the pump back in the creek in order to replenish our water tank. Now, cross your fingers that we can get the pump out again if one of those “local moderate to heavy falls” happens to centre on our place.

“To seek joy in the saddest places.” ~ Arundhati Roy

post and photo editing by M in JaM
photos by J in JaM

Monday, 5 March 2012

Little By Little

I've been going through old papers, re-organising where necessary, tossing and shredding the rest. Most of these papers come out of cabinets and bins, so things don't look that much different when I stop. But... I feel so much better, knowing there's less rubbish! Little by little, I'm making a dent.

Old bush poles holding up garage roof
A while back we had to replace the bush poles holding up the roof of the garage as termites had infested them. Termites, like rust, never sleep, apparently. New steel poles have replaced the bush poles. The old poles got stacked in a heap behind the garage and other bits and pieces got thrown there as well. The heap grew into a fire hazard. Lately, the weather provided the perfect opportunity to burn the heap - no rain, no wind and the surrounding bush very green and damp from recent rains. We mowed and raked around the heap. It took a little work to get the fire started. We took turns keeping an eye on it.

During my watch, I took along my drop spindle and got a little spinning done as I stood in the shade behind the garage, not far from the fire. I bought that boat anchor of a spindle 40 years ago in San Francisco and learned to spin on it. Most of the time I use my spinning wheel or a light weight support spindle, but both require sitting. Drop spindles work well while standing or walking. My best tip for beginning spinners: spin a few minutes every day. There's nothing like practice to get better at something and short sessions minimise frustration.

I'm not sure I'm getting better at using GIMP, the open source graphics program. Maybe I should practice a little every day instead of once a week. This week I followed a YouTube video on making a new brush from the image of a flower (I chose my favourite hibiscus). 
Everything went well. I used the brush to place hibiscus flowers in the corners of the framed photo above. I got lost when it came to saving the brush. I saved the image, just couldn't save it as a brush. Back to the learning curve. I do love learning. Grumbling goes with learning.

Another tiny frog appeared.

He's no bigger than the end of my thumb.
post and pix editing by M in JaM
pix by JaM