Monday, 27 January 2014

Giant Centipede

We continue to wait for the Wet Season. We have lived here more than 20 years and have never seen the Wet Season so late. We have yet to see a cloud of white ants swarming to our kitchen light and there seem few spiders and insects. Yet with the recent slight increase in humidity and dampness amongst the fallen leaves, a creature most often seen during the Wet has surfaced: the Giant Centipede (Ethmostigmus rubripes), 7.5-16 cm (3" to 6") long.

Our bedroom has no electricity. When we retire in the evening, we use torches as we walk to the bedroom in order to avoid stepping on snakes, tripping on the stairs, etc. Once in the bedroom, we scan the room to confirm the absence of snakes, large spiders and centipedes.

Two nights ago, we found a Giant Centipede on the wall beside the head of the bed. Neither of us wanted to leave it there. Centipedes are night predators, they are simply looking for food, and they are not particularly aggressive unless you accidently or intentionally mash them. But, that many legs make me nervous....

So began the Giant Centipede Wrangling Event to evict the critter from our bedroom. There is room for only one person to stand beside the bed to begin the eviction. J volunteered. I stayed out of the way (hey, I wrangled the last one!) but attempted to keep my torch beam focused on the centipede. My Hero held his torch in one hand and a soft bristle push broom in the other. Hoping the centipede would climb onto the bristles for a ride out the door, J set the bristles gently next to the centipede. Instantly, the centipede dropped to the floor and began racing towards the dark under the bed. J plopped the broomhead in it's path and vigorously swept it toward the end of the bed, that is, directly toward himself. He then performed a short, mad dance. We both lost sight of the critter. We finally spotted the centipede, legs churning and again heading for the dark under the bed. Regaining his cool, J executed an elegant sweep of the broom, adding a masterful curve around the end of the bed and directing the centipede toward the door where the dog stood, looking puzzled. I got the dog to move after a tense moment. One last shove of the broom and the centipede disappeared off the far side of the verandah. (NOTE: no critters were damaged in this event.)

We both slept like logs. It's a good sign, finding a centipede: the Wet is coming.

Post by M in JaM

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Post Heat Wave but still no rain....

The heat wave has eased, locally. I've learned that it isn't just the heat that melts my backbone. Lack of rain does it, too. Rain refreshes the earth and the spirit. We long for the Wet to begin.

The littlies know how to cool off and entertain themselves creatively.

We grandparents have been reassuring ourselves that it's ok to feel lethargic in the current conditions, even though it goes against our deep-seated need to be doing! doing! doing! Happily, we both love to read and have going through books at a rapid pace. (I mostly listen to audiobooks rather than actually read these days). I've finished Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined." And no, I didn't go through that book rapidly! It gave me lots to think about and even instilled a bit more hope in my heart for the future which can seem so dire when viewing the daily news.

And so, I leave you for a lie down and a book....

Post by M in JaM
Pix by J in JaM

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Happy New Year!

An Australian Heat Wave... is forcing a slow start to 2014 for us in Far North Queensland.

Shade Room Air Conditioning
Our house's stone walls have gradually absorbed and now retain so much heat that it's increasingly difficult to cool the house even though each morning we throw open all the doors and windows to capture some coolness. J has rigged a shade room along the west side of the house and gives the plants there a daily mist. The shade, plants and misting make the adjoining room the coolest one in our house. It used to be the hottest. We close most of the house by mid-morning as temperatures rise to 30C and above.  Then we retreat to the cool room, lie on mats in front of a fan to read or nap... there's not much brain power available nor motivation to move in the heat. Everyone is waiting for rain. Yesterday's thunderstorm brought no rain with it.

While I am feeling totally wilted, the Cooktown orchids are looking splendid.

Cooktown orchids
ETA: maximum temperature for the day: 38.1C (a little over 100F).

Post and Pix by M in JaM