Rain

I’m living on the second largest sand island in the world. As far as I can tell, the only thing stopping it from washing back into the sea is a dense matrix of vegetation roots. I was thinking about this at 04:00 this morning, as I sat and watched the most spectacular show of lightning I’ve seen since I left the Kimberley.

I think that may have been the heaviest rainfall since I moved here. Now that I’m going nautical again I’ve started taking an interest in the weather, so I have subscribed to a few apps that keep me up to date with wind rain and tides. Watching the rain on radar, it was pleasing to see it was heading southwest to where it will no doubt be welcome in the Burning Lands.

The storm reminded me of the rain that fell while I was camped at Inskip Point, which resulted in the flood that damaged the caravan undercarriage. Also causing a huge sinkhole. This time, fortunately it hasn’t lasted as long and did not result in a flood.

I went through the archives to see exactly when that was, and could not find it. For months I did not write in my blog. Everything was posted on Facebook. Now lost.

What kind of journal keeper forgets to keep his journal – and worse – deletes all his notes?

How cool is modern technology? When I gained my navigation certificate, GPS tech was a closely guarded military secret. Now, not just a GPS, but my phone and my iPad can tell me where I am and can carry the tide tables and Marine Charts of all the world. When I had a set of charts for New Zealand alone they filled a cabinet. Now a full set of charts covering Australia and New Zealand occupy an imaginary space in a piece of plastic and rare earth metals smaller than my little fingernail.

White Noise

I am a pluviophile. I love the rain. Especially tropical rain.

Walking in the rain, getting soaking wet…

My weather app tells me there is a thirty percent chance of rain. Considering it has been raining heavily for over ten hours , I consider the app to be 70% wrong.

I went to sleep to the lovely sound of heavy rain on my roof, and woke to it this morning. The kookaburra didn’t seem to mind either. He gave a rousing burst of song at 05:40 on the dot, just as I was pouring my first coffee. The frogs are happy too. I can hear at least three species announcing their sexual availability.

My neighbour’s coughing fit was without a trace of Strauss today, though I might have caught a phrase or two of Coltrane. He was soaked on his morning pilgrimage to the ablution block and back. I cheated, I went to the rear corner of my caravan where I am screened from public view, and peed into the stream flowing past my bicycle and through the fence down into the creek. I still got wet. And I still have to go to the ablution block sooner or later.

Last night I went to the Rangla Punjab Wednesday night buffet. All you can eat for twenty dollars. I tried a little of every curry as well as the raitas and pickles. Everything, from the rice and naan to the samosas and bhaji were excellent. The mango lassi was outstanding. That was extra, but well worth four dollars. I tried very hard not to overdo it, but I blew my calorie budget for the first time since I started counting them. I don’t regret it. I shall do it again, though not regularly. Perhaps only when Wednesday coincides with a special occasion.

Yesterday’s occasion was that I now have a recreational marine drivers licence (RMDL). What the rest of the country calls a skipper’s ticket. That I’ve had a boatmaster and coastal yachtmaster ticket in NZ since 1979 did not matter to Queensland Transport. I still had to pass a local course and get certified before they’d grant me a licence. Done and dusted all in one morning yesterday.

Now I can take out the tinnie I bought on line while drunk at Christmas. Kidding. I arranged to view it on Boxing Day. I agreed to buy it. Perfect for my needs, which is code for all I can afford.

Time to go fishing.

Seer

He sits in the dark cave of his cabin, with curtained windows. He is surround by artefacts and nick-nacks collected over eighty nine years.

The only light in the room comes through the doorway where I am standing. It is late afternoon and the sky outside is heavily overcast. I can barely see him, seated in an ancient Lazyboy chair behind a coffee table piled with the detritus of a man who does not move about much.

I knocked twice on his open door. “How are doing mate?” I asked.

He has suffered several strokes. His speech is slow and slurred from myotonic dystrophy. But I could understand him clearly.

He looked at me with clouded eyes, as if he did not recognise me.

“I know why you have come” he said. “You are seeking something you can never regain”.

I sat down on a rickety chair. It creaked under my weight.

“You cannot put the smoke back into the cigarette” he said. As if to accentuate his point, he drew a long drag on a thin, hand rolled cigarette and blew a cloud of smoke into the air. He coughed for a few moments then continued.

“Every experience is a new one. Even if you are doing the same thing again. The Laws of Entropy and Enthalpy will ensure that nothing will ever be the same. If you go back, you will be disappointed until you accept that you must go forward. If you buy a boat, you may enjoy the pleasant experiences it will provide you, but you must understand these are not the experiences of your youthful memory. Those have been guilded by time and fondness until in your mind they are no longer anything like what you really experienced. Go forward. Enjoy new sensations.

The molecules of air the breeze blows to touch your face are all new to you, and you will probably never encounter any one of them again. They will go on to touch other faces, to combust in a cigarette or a bushfire, or perhaps to combine with metal as rust, or be inhaled by someone and incorporated in their body, to be released as something new in the crematorium. They carry no memory of you. You, however, can carry a memory of them. That is your task. To experience, enjoy, and remember.”

He took another drag on his fag and had another coughing fit.

His eyes cleared. He looked at me with surprise as I proffered him my offering.

“G’day! How’re ya doin’?”

“G’day to you, O wise one. I thought you might like some of this spaghetti Bolognese I made. It’s low salt. You may want to add some. ”.

I handed him a fork. He started to eat.

“But I’ve been thinking, I live on an island and I should buy a boat”.

“Nah, he said, a strand of spaghetti suspended from the corner of his mouth. “Don’t like boats, rocking and splashing. Don’t even like fishing. Can’t stand the smell. Until they are cooked, with chips”.

He sucked on his cigarette while still chewing Bolognese. When he coughed, a bit shot on to the coffee table. He wiped it up with his handkerchief.

The Seer had retired. The old man was dining.

The old man turned on his television with the remote, and leaned back to watch the football. He had forgotten I was there. He burped contentedly, drew on his smoke and coughed.

I left quietly. As I did, “Buy the boat” he said.

I don’t know which of him said that.

The Answer

What are these?

Muhkwas or muhkvas. Sugar coated seeds.

Frequently made from fennel seeds, these particular ones are cumin. Other seeds may also be used. Usually they are made with seeds having medicinal or mouth freshening qualities.

Noddy Has A Very Busy Day and Makes a Decision.

Senior moment today. Fully aware that I had an appointment with the GP in Woodford at 11:15 I hurried off for my morning swim at 07:30. I was in the water well before 8 and swimming to the accompaniment of Mozart, Beethoven, Dire Straits, Ultravox, Pink Floyd, Clannad, Steeleye Span et al.

Ninety minutes passed quickly and just as I planned, I emerged from the pool at 09:30 for a shower before driving the 50 minute commute to Woodford. I like to always allow a little extra time. It is a habit you learn in the outback, where a four hour drive can sometimes end up taking a couple of days.

Except without even thinking about it, I had ridden the bike to the pool. Now I had to ride back to base camp to get the cruiser.

Today I found out how the bike performs on full assist. Really well.

I arrived in Woodford, without breaking the law, in plenty of time for my appointment, which was all about the latest blood and pee test results which are encouraging. I took the opportunity to raise the subject of my knees, now that the weight was coming down. Mehdi prodded and pushed, and wrote a referral for x-rays.

Three weeks ago he had checked me all over for melanomas. All clear. Today as I was about to leave, he pounced on a new spot on my forearm and examined it with his super magnifier. Not good. Worried frown. He took a photo with an attachment on his iPhone and showed me what it was about the spot that concerned him. He told me to make an appointment ASAP to have it excised. I go back on Monday.

A couple of hours later I was being x-rayed by a cheerful and chatty young radiographer at Caboolture Hospital. After a few poses and buzzing sounds, she pronounced that the images had come out perfectly,

Then, looking at the images, she said sympathetically, “I bet they hurt”.

I told her they do. Then added “You know, I used to go out with a radiographer”.

“Did you really?” She said.

“Yes, but she saw right through me from the start”.

“How long have you been sitting on that one?” She said, laughing.

“I composed it just then, for you”.

Next stop the Department of Transport and Main Roads Customer Service Centre Caboolture. I’ve been here in Queensland over a year now, and several times at road checks when queried about my WA drivers licence and how long have I been in Queensland, I’ve told the police I am passing through, hanging around only for medical reasons. I have already stayed over the legal time for using an out of state licence. The time has come to acknowledge I am not up to the Grey Nomad life in my current state. I won’t be moving on soon. Maybe I shall in the future, but for now, I’m probably in the best place I can be. Where I am. A very Zen thought.

The nice lady at the Customer Service Centre gave me a form for my doctor to sign, and checked the forms of ID I carry. She pronounced them satisfactory. All can be sorted once I return with the signed form.

So out of practical necessity I’ve made a decision. I’m staying here. I shall join a bowls club or some such for a social life, cheap meals and meat pack raffles, and see about a dinghy to fish from.

Ahoy

The second activity passion of my life, after SCUBA diving, is one I have not enjoyed since the eighties, apart from a brief spell as half-owner of a cabin cruiser for a time in 2000. And my kayak in Fiji.

Boats. Especially the simply messing about in part.

From 1978 to the eighties, I had a Shearwater catamaran that I rebuilt from a wreck purchased in Napier for very few dollars. I had no idea how to rig it.

There was no manual, I could find nothing in the Library and of course there was no Internet. So I improvised and seemed to get it mostly right, because she sailed like a speedboat in a good breeze. I measured my time between the marker buoys on the Pania reef on one good sailing day, and later calculated that Peter Cox and I had taken her over 20 knots with Peter at the helm and me, the heavier one, stacking out in a harness.

I say I rigged her mostly right, because she had one characteristic that was not at all right. If one let go all the sheets while sailing with the wind, instead of luffing up and stalling like an obedient yacht, she would turn downwind and sail like billy-o. This became a problem one afternoon when I was sailing in Hawkes Bay out past the Esk river. I don’t recall exactly how, but I fell overboard.

My worthy vessel turned downwind and sailed away. The wind was onshore, so she headed for the beach. So did I, but more slowly. By the time I caught her she was washing around in the shingle with broken dagger boards. Which made sailing home to Ahuriri a difficult task.

In the early eighties I sailed her round the Hauraki Gulf, and one glorious summer took her to Bay of Islands, where Rob, a friend, and I camped out and swam and fished for a week. I even sailed her through the Hole in the Rock at Cape Brett.

Then in 1984 I went to Solomon Islands, where I worked as a volunteer with the Rural Water Supply, building water supplies in remote villages. I found myself skipper of a 20 foot glass canoe named Lady Allison after Allison Holst, a NZ TV cooking personality who did a fundraiser with the Lower Hutt Lions to purchase it.

I also bought a dugout which was a great deal of fun. I really regretted leaving it behind when I returned to NZ.

It was thinking about all this while I swam yesterday. I’m thinking I am getting fit enough to take to the water again in a small boat. I rather liked that glass canoe and wondered if I could find one here. It seems not. But one could buy one from Honiara for around $34,000 SBD which is just over $6,000 AUD. But then there would be shipping, import duty, an outboard, and safety gear. So probably not.

With my financial state I think I should consider, if anything, an aluminium dinghy, known here as a tinny.

Something to think about.