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.

Shattered and Soothed

Driving to Woodford this morning I had just crossed the M1 and started down the d’Aguilar highway when, under the Pettigrew St. bridge a sound like a gunshot startled me from my cruise mode reverie. A truck was passing in the opposite direction at the time, but I have a suspicion the missile came from above. Not that I could do much about it.

I completed my mission, left another little piece of myself behind, and returned to Bribie without stopping at Beefy’s.

Direct Hit.

A call to the RAC and a new windscreen was arranged. Such good service. While I was talking to them I changed my address and clarified that I did not need to transfer my membership or insurance to RACQ even if my drivers licence is changed to Queensland. So that’s one thing off my mind.

As I talked to the RAC man in Perth I felt calmer. I enjoyed the beauty of my basil bush, which I grew from a piece of a bunch of basil from the supermarket. My parsley died off but I see it is coming back now the pot is in a better position. The chives thrive. The rosemary cuttings survive. The pepper and tomato seeds I planted are struggling valiantly.

I’m going to hunt for a bay tree next.

A Grand Day Out

This morning I drove to Maroochy Botanical Gardens to enjoy a walk and a picnic with two lovely friends, Angelia and Mario. We had a delicious picnic brunch and walked around the sculpture gardens for a little communing with nature.

A couple of guests tried to join us for lunch, a scrub turkey and a currowong. Of course we fed them. The currowong even took food from my hand. I always like it when that happens. The currowong is a member of the magpie family and very intelligent. That she figured out she could trust me is cheering. The turkey on the other hand wants the food, but has no trust. Stupid bird.

The walk we took was quire a short one, and the path was concrete, so it didn’t cause me any problems except for a short cut I took over a lawn down a bit of a steep gradient. Going downhill is difficult.

I enjoyed the nature sculptures very much, but some of the more abstract works did not resonate so well. I’m no connoisseur but I know what I like.

I was well on my way home by two, and back on Bribie before three. I had my swimming kit with me, so I stopped off at the pool for a swim. I entered the water at precisely 3pm and swam solidly until 5:03 by which time I had completed 100 lengths exactly. A new personal record. 2,500 metres in two hours 3 minutes. I’d had to pile the pace on to squeeze the last laps in. I just missed my two hour target. But my goal of a 5,000 metre marathon is beginning to look achievable.

I was pretty pleased with myself until I saw I was the only person in the pool and the staff were closing everything up.

It turns out the pool closes at 5 on Saturday. It is only open until 7 on weekdays. The wonderful staff were very obliging, They brushed aside my apologies and let me shower and change without making me feel a total idiot. I’ve had nothing but friendly and cheerful support from them since I started frequenting the pool.

Back at home I had a light meal and spent the next three hours trying to transfer photos from my camera to my MacBook via WiFi. And failing. What I should have done right at the start was take the memory card out of the camera and insert it into the laptop. KIS.

Timeline

I’ve posted this before, but it is worth repeating. Maybe some people will take it more seriously 3 years later.

Permanent link to this comic: https://xkcd.com/1732/

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

This means you’re free to copy and share these comics (but not to sell them). More details.

Obituary

Mourners gather in Iceland on Sunday to commemorate the loss of Okjokull, which has died at the age of about 700. 

The glacier was officially declared dead in 2014 when it was no longer thick enough to move. 

What once was glacier has been reduced to a small patch of ice atop a volcano.

Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, environment minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson and former Irish president Mary Robinson will all take part in the ceremony.

After opening remarks by Ms Jakobsdottir, mourners will walk up the volcano northeast of the capital Reykjavik to lay a plaque which carries a letter to the future. 

“Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as glacier,” it reads. 

“In the next 200 years all our main glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. 

“Only you know if we did it.”

The dedication, written by Icelandic author Andri Snaer Magnason, ends with the date of the ceremony and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air globally – 415 parts per million (ppm).

Read more here:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-49345912

Circumnavigation

Writing my short piece of blank verse about my expedition into Mayor Island reminded me of another small odyssey undertaken in the same month. I was camped in South-east Bay for a couple of months. I had originally gone there with Glenn for a fortnight but I was having such a good time I stayed on after he went home. I was getting on right well with some of the other campers in my own age group, though I don’t recall their names now. We dived and fished together, shared meals, and drank at the big game fishing club where we also traded crayfish for supplies. The demand was high and the payments in kind were generous.

It was mainly through that illegal activity I was able to stay on camping so long, though at one point when the weather was bad and I couldn’t fish or dive, I was down to half a bag of onions and a loaf of mouldy bread. It was then I learned that if I trimmed off the mouldy crust and the black fruiting bodies of the mould, I could fry the bread in butter and it tasted like Madeira cake, because the hyphae of the fungus had grown through the bread and turned a lot of the starch to sugar. Fried bread and onions. Great sustenance.

I was even recruited as deckhand on a charter boat for a couple of days. I worked for food. The skipper loaned me a dinghy for a day. I took it out to the eastern side of the island where I caught the largest snapper I had ever seen. I took it back to the big game club and they weighed it for me. It was, as I recall somewhat over thirty pounds in weight. There was much excitement and the manager went off to consult the books (no internet back then).

It turned out I had caught a pinfish. A new weight record. Unfortunately as I was not a member of any fishing club it did not count. No pin. No record. But for a time I unofficially held a record. I heard later next year that a larger fish had been caught. The internet tells me that the latest record holder is Kiwi angler Neil Gorringe who caught a 32.5lb (14.75kg) snapper on 8kg line in 2016.

The biggest adventure was a snorkeling morning that turned into a bit of an odyssey. Five of us set out from western bay and at some point, far from where we had entered the water, we wondered how far we had come. I decided it was far enough to have go at continuing all the way around the island. The others were not so keen. In the end, being young and foolish, I decided to go it alone. The others turned back.

I was fit, I had flippers. I knew I could make it, though I had no real idea how far I had to swim (turns out to be just over 11 km).

It was an adventure. I experienced a lot of firsts on that trip and logged a lot of new sightings in the logbook I kept in those days. Particularly on the ocean side of the island, where the cliffs went deep below the surface, there were species I hadn’t yet encountered. Morays, congers, sharks, grouper. Most notably an electric ray. One of about 14 electric ray species in the world, Torpedo fairchildi, is found only in New Zealand. Exciting.

I was in the water seven hours or so, without a wetsuit, and even though the water was warm I was pretty drained by the time I got back to camp. The others said they had been about to send out a search party. As I said, I was young and stupid then. Now I’m old and stupid because I’d probably try it again. The sea is still my spiritual home.

Now that I think about it, I did not really complete a circumnavigation after all. I set out from Western bay and emerged in south east bay. I didn’t swim round the promontory between the two bays. I may have to go back, and do it again.

The Angry Nurse.

My last post celebrated the wonderful people in hospitals and surgeries who are the backbone of the health system and almost all of whom have been amongst the nicest of all people I have met. I have always – well, almost always – found that nurses have a robust and earthy sense of humour and they appreciate a patient who is cheerful and jocular – and I don’t mean sleazy.  I’m funny, not crude.

But there was one. I am sure she was nice most of the time. I am sure she had a sense of humour. She must have. She was a nurse!

But. It may have been something I said (it was).

The year was 1991. Our younger daughter was a toddler. June had not had an easy time having our two girls, in fact it was a bit touch and go both times. So we agreed it would be sensible and safer for her if we had no more. The risks are fewer for a man to have a vasectomy than for a woman to have her tubes tied and besides, June had already done her fair share of going under the knife, so it was agreed I would have the operation.

It all went according to plan, keyhole surgery, a single stitch at each site and sent home with instructions to return the following day to have the stitches taken out.

Tomorrow? Yes, cell division is quite fast down there. You will be healed enough to have them out. Fair enough.

I was driven home by my friend Jeff, and limped into the house to recover.

Next day I returned alone and after a short wait was taken into the surgery where once again I sat in the strange chair with my feet in stirrups and my tackle dangling in the breeze.

A middle aged spinsterly looking nurse came in. She had assisted with the operation the day before. I had got the impression she was single, and that she was very devoted to her surgeon.

She examined the site and was clearly pleased with the healing process, or perhaps she admired the fine work of her surgeon.

In any case she breathed “Ah, that’s beautiful!”

You know me, or you should by now.

I responded “Thanks. But I’m sorry, it is already spoken for!”

I thought that was pretty funny. A little humour to ease the embarrassment of the position I was in.

She stormed out of the surgery.

It was quite some time before she returned with a pair of nasty medical-looking plier implements in her hand. Without a word, she quickly clipped then yanked out the stitches. Not at all gently. Then she stormed out again.

Clearly I had offended her. I needed to apologise and point out it had been a joke.

Also, I had been told to expect to be given some post op instructions and a little jar that I would have to fill after a certain time in order to be sure the procedure had worked. So.

I waited patiently.

About 20 minutes passed as I sat there. I didn’t even know if I should get out of the stirrups and dress. Did I need anything else done before I covered up?

Eventually she poked her head round the door.

“Are you still here? You can go.” She disappeared again.

I dressed and left.

Months later I received a phone call from her, still sounding grumpy, demanding why I hadn’t followed instructions and brought in a sample bottle for a sperm count. I told her I had not been given the instructions and the bottle, but I did not remind her why. Best forgotten. So I had to make another run to collect them.

And that is the only nurse I remember who did not think I was a fun patient.