Once again it seems I have used up my monthly quota already on Netflix, Spotify and watching movies on Google Play. I can’t log in to Facebook, or to Duolingo to practice my Irish on-line.
Yet for some inexplicable reason I can open my WordPress page, and blog. Life.
It is Sunday and would usually be one of my busier days. But the youngsters are not interested in doing anything with me in this weather unless it entails a trip out bush to collect bush tucker or go for a swim in the lake, but that I cannot do since the instruction was issued that no one is to travel in the back of the troopies.
I usually have my weekend on Monday and Tuesday, so I can spend time with them on Saturday and Sunday when they are not at school. Yesterday I had a few to talk to but today there seems to be no one around. Suits me. I guess I’ll get on with my Cert IV.
Proud of young Zeus. He found a dragon (Lophognathus gilberti) caught in some wire mesh. Instead of tearing it to shreds he called me. The rescue operation was followed by a quick check for injuries and a short photoshoot. Then the dragon was on her way unharmed.
Back on the Pregabalin. After a couple of days the woozy lightheaded feeling passed and I regained my faculties. I also lost much of the chronic pain I was feeling before. Clearly the doc was right and it was originating in my back, not my legs. Science is a wonderful thing. I still feel the grating pain in my knees, but it seems less debilitating and I can walk further now. With the use of my beautiful crocodile and snake carved walking stick from Solomon Islands I am venturing around the community more. The uneven ground is why I need the stick. A misstep causes me to stagger and nearly fall when my knee gives way. There are no paved surfaces here.
I have set up a gym kitset on the deck outside, and in the evening when it is a little cooler (and when there is no one around to watch) I do a few upper body exercises for half an hour or so.
The problem with walking and exercise in general here is that the temperatures are now already reaching 40 degrees C during the day and will soon be going higher. Neither Zeus the dog nor I are overly keen to venture out in the blazing heat. Neither are the children after school, so I am having a fairly quiet time. I see some of them for a while in the evening and we talk about the things they want to do, and what we shall do soon but they are not very interested in my company once they learn I can no longer take them out bush or anywhere else in the troopy.
We had an edict from on high a week or two back advising us that we were no longer to transport anyone in the back of the troopies and only one passenger was to be in the front passenger seat using the lap and diagonal seat-belt. It seems that liability issues are catching up. I know Northern Territory has already outlawed the troopy with sideways seats in the rear. Lap only seat-belts are not acceptable either. It has always been a concern with me, and I have always driven most carefully whenever I have youngsters with me anyway. The consequences of harming someone are unthinkable.
I have always known my main value to most of the youngsters was that I was a means of transport for them to get to the bush for bush tucker or to the lake for a swim and to football games. I hope I can re-engage with them once I have all the new toys and kit I am expecting. Meantime I guess I have a little time on hand to get on with my study for Cert IV in training and assessment. I have now completed successfully six of the papers. Four to go.
As a diversion I am spending half an hour a day learning Irish. For no other reason than it is the greatest challenge I can think of at present. And because it is a beautiful sounding language. And because otherwise I would probably go spare alone every evening here. Doubling the dose of my fluoxetine has certainly helped me to cope better with that.
On the wildlife front, the King Brown snakes are out and about. There are quite a few young ones recently hatched too. There are bush turkeys gathering in expectation of the plague of locusts that will likely hatch as soon as the rains set in and the vegetation starts growing again.
Last week was a good wildlife observation week for me. I spent a lot of hours travelling. Firstly I took a trip to Brown’s Range, beyond Ringer Soak, to conduct an inspection at the rare earth mine that is starting there. Near Ringer Soak we crossed Sturt Creek, the same river that runs past Billiluna. It has returned to being a series of ponds and small lakes as the dry season begins. Only a few weeks ago it seems, it was three kilometres wide, and impassable. There were herons, ibis and jabiru, magpie geese, cockatoos and galahs. I flew my drone over them and caught some off guard but a drone is not the best way to photograph birds.
Later, I helped Tika again, transporting his football team between Mulan and Kununurra and back. On the trip I added the two common species of kite and wedge-tail eagles to the list. We saw a few bush turkeys – Australian bustards. No brolgas yet this year. At home I have bower birds and mudlarks, butcher birds, and the sparrow-like little chap I have finally identified (tentatively) as an Australian pipit. Some little yellow birds I still have not identified.
On the road I dodged two young goanna, a king brown and a fairly large specimen of what I suspect was a greater whipsnake. I stopped for a closer look at it, but it disappeared into the vegetation on the roadside. I did not follow.
At home in the Single Persons Quarters, two young green tree frogs have taken up residence in the men’s ablution block. One is usually in the shower I use and I must take care not to splash him with shampoo or soap. The other day I found him swimming in the toilet bowl. Fortunately there are two so I used the other rather than risk flushing him away.
My drone education continued yesterday with a few more flights successfully completed, though that was more due to the quality of the aircraft rather than the skill of the pilot. The first flight over Caroline Pool came up with a high wind warning as soon as the aircraft was higher than 60 m. Then the drone disappeared from my sight just as communication with the controller was lost, so I could not even see where it was on my iPad screen.
I was about to give it up as lost, when it hove into sight and connection was reestablished. Viewing the recording later I could see it had hovered for a short time then plainly concluded that it should head home by itself. Once communication returned I could see it was now in charge. I had only had to watch without interfering as it returned under its own control to the spot from where it had taken off.
The second flight went better. I kept it fairly low and always in sight. However when I told it to return to home by itself, this time it became confused and tried to land in a tree. A warning flashed up that the landing site was not suitable and asking me to guide the aircraft to a better spot. This I did. Smart little machine.
My third and fourth flights were out over old Halls Creek. There I just practised manoeuvring. I tried to follow some wild horses, but lost them. I am learning, but I need to remember to turn on the camera to record all the flights.
To cheer myself up, and because I fell deeply in love with Jake’s when we took it out last week, I bought a drone with a really good camera. The DJI Phantom 4 Pro. This will replace the GoPro I lost, and then some.
I have named it Spéir Súl, which is Irish for “Sky Eye”. It sounds better in Irish.
It was not cheap, this new toy, but I rationalise the purchase by considering it to be a new stage in my photography adventure, plus it will enable me to see, and photograph, places I can no longer access on foot. Besides. I am on my own now, and how I spend my money and my time is my own affair.
That seems a little defensive, so perhaps I do feel a little guilt. But I’ll get over it.
Today I took her out to Palm Springs for her maiden voyage. I wanted to film the rock I am no longer able to climb, and the view from the top I can no longer get to. However, the drone would not fly for me, because before it’s first flight the software that controls it from my iPad demands that I register and activate it first. Of course, that requires connection to the internet, and there is not even phone reception out there.