Friday, 13 March 2015

A Waiting Game

North Queensland Python
This slowly growing python appears in our house or shed a couple of times a year. Our house skinks are tempting. Python's hunting style requires patient waiting, hanging motionless above a skink runway. One runway lies below the landing at the bottom of the stairs. Python waits and ignores us when we forget he's there and casually walk past. We startle more than he. Eventually, snake succeeds in catching his dinner and disappears to digest for a while. When the rains associated with Cyclone Nathan began three days ago, the python and the skinks disappeared.

We decided to stay home.
Sometimes, one must wait and hope for the best. We are waiting now for Cyclone Nathan to move away from Queensland coast. We're not in the direct path of the cyclone which is further north. It has brought welcome rain. We've had 100+ mm rain, more wind than rain today. We continue waiting... cyclones can be unpredictable.

Life has been unpredictable. Over the past year I've had to limit time spent on handcrafts and keyboarding. In that vacuum, I found it amazing to uncover embers of old friendships still glowing through the years. And further delight in the  bonds with growing young ones. Life provides alternate streams of creativity.

Love and Kindness, Family and Friends - these exist in the same world as snakes hunting skinks. Let's nurture that diversity. It's a blessing.

Post by M in JaM
Photos by J in JaM

Monday, 17 March 2014

Fish Dreams

Wouldn't you expect that Fish Dreams are hard to pin down? Lately, life has been equally unpredictable, speeding up, slowing down, swirling into unexpected eddies.

Some old paints surfaced from the mysterious realm of stash supplies. For some reason the paints had not completely dried out. For some other reason a woody pear tree near our gate had a bumper crop of woody pears (it's been 20 years since we've seen a tree so laden). We couldn't resist collecting woody pear pods, drying and painting them. Fish Dreams are multipying.

My Plan this year, of course, was to focus on spinning, weaving and knitting. Life has been happening in the meantime. My hand developed a slight problem and the knitting projects have had to go into hibernation. Likewise, the spinning. Lucky for me, the hand doesn't mind the weaving project continuing.

We're still having hot spells (80% of Queensland is drought-declared), but Fall is bringing cooler weather. That slight change means the temperature in the weaving room is tolerable, my brain functions better and my motivation has increased.

A spell at the loom leaves me feeling good. Fish Dreams likewise make me feel good. Mystified, but good.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Rain Blessed

February is our wettest month. So far, this month we've had 127mm rain (~5 inches) with no local flooding and very little erosion. Thankfully, our raintank is full again. Trees are blooming like crazy and colour has reappeared in the landscape.

Grevillea dryandri
May smiles enrich your Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Year of the Horse

Four nights ago we had the mother of all white ant swarms.

It was only 8 pm when we noticed the first few white ants circling the kitchen light. We jumped into action, turning off most of the lights except a single yellow bug light. We closed all the windows and doors in spite of the too warm night. But within minutes white ants were in thick clouds outside the windows and madly squeezing through the little crevices between windows and frames. They seemed especially attracted to our bare legs that glowed like neon signs in the yellow light. White ant numbers inside the house increased very rapidly. We knew we'd have to turn off all the lights and sit in complete darkness or go to bed. We managed to brush our teeth without getting wings stuck between and ran to bedroom with as little use of the torches as possible. I still had to evict a couple of the critters, probably trapped in our hair, that found their way into bed.

It's been years since we've had a swarm like this one. What a feast for the geckoes! In the morning discarded wings littered the floor and kitchen counter.

The white ant swarm was a harbinger of the rain that came two days later: 86mm rain (more than 3-1/2") in 24 hours. Our creek is flowing again. Since Queensland is about 65% drought declared, we consider ourselves very fortunate.

Such an auspicious beginning to the new Chinese Year of the Horse! In my imagination I always kick up my heels during a Horse Year. But so far, I haven't found the energy for that. I'm beginning to wonder if this might be a trudge, trudge, trudging Year of the Draft Horse. Looking for the silver lining in this possibility, I have found that the Australian Draught Horse is known for its strength and a good temperament.

Good rain, strength and a good temperament. That's a bundle of good fortune. Happy Chinese New Year!

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