Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas in the Halfwit Sundays

Peter and Kerri had a Waifs and Orphans brunch, held for those of us with no family on Christmas Day.

Guy and I were a little late, having driven from New Farm where we spent Christmas Eve at Karla and Bec's. We caught the 9.30am barge to the island and rushed home to change before hitting President Terrace, armed with croissants and champers, as our normal Christmas feast.
Peter and Kerri had served up a feast, ably assisted by guests. There was scrambled eggs, salmon spnach quiche, fruit and yoghourt and, of course, croissants, just to mention a few of the yummy foods supplied.
Plenty of nibblies and plenty of vino led to a delightful afternoon on their new deck.
The usual stalwarts were joined by Peter and Kerri's new neighbour Tatiana and her baby Senya.
The usual stalwarts? See below for pics of Mal and Rosie, Ron and Val, Barbara and Norm,
Colin and Janette, Phil and Ruth, Chas and Marg, Peter and Kerri (oops! Where is Kerri? Evil girl avoided the camera lens!!!) and Guy and myself.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tinkerbelle goes to Town

Just as I thought the Halfwits were becoming mundane and boring, something happened to restore my faith in my fellow halfwits.

Walking towards the entrance of our Spar supermarket, I heard a bleat. A bleat? Yes, definitely a bleat. Looking around, I espied a large white goat looking out of the window of a car in the parking lot.

"Baaaaaaaaaaa!" she cried. "Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa."

Entering the supermarket, I mentioned this fact to the cashier. The lady before me in the queue said "Oh yes, that's Tinkerbell. We're going to pre-school."

Of course! Why else would you have a goat in your car? She was a big goat too!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Good morning

It's a wonderful morning in the Halfwit Sundays.

I've been up since 4.30 sitting on the top deck with a cup of coffee, watching the early morning light gild the gum trees and the sky fill with rosy pink clouds scudding in from the east, pulling the sun behind them.

The magpie dawn chorus is in full swing, interspersed by the plovers piping their shrill defence of their sole remaining chick, still at the mercy of the sharp-beaked kookaburras.

In turn, the kookaburras, up since first light at 3.45, are sitting in groups in the scribbly gums by the side of the house. I'm not sure if they are laughing at me or the plovers, but something is hilarious, that's for sure.

At the bottom of the road I can see the calm water of the bay and across to Garden Island. The nor'wester is no longer in evidence and the water is flt calm and blue.

It's a good morning in the Halfwits.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Three things not to do on a boat

The weather here has not been conducive to sailing lately. Strong north-easterlies plus the Christmas king tides make for choppy conditions in the bay.

But last Thursday we had promised to take Phil and Ruth out in Bonnington. We met down at the jetty and, on the face of it, it seemed to be a good day. True, the wind was still NE but about 10-15 knots and a cloudless sky.

We ferried them across the channel in our rubber ducky and piled aboard. After stowing our gear (picnic lunch, etc) I busied myself unzipping the sails and centering the boom whilst Guy started the motor.

Woops! For the first time, black diesel smoke came pouring out of the motor. It's always been a great little motor, a Danish Bukh 12.8hp marine diesel. Guy thought it might be simply lack of use ... we hadn't used it for a while ... so we cast off and headed up the channel.

1st Mistake! We discovered we had little steering ability - obviously the prop was fouled (barnacles, seaweed, etc.) and without the sails, we were going nowhere and the engine was straining big time. This was when we should have returned to our mooring and called it a day.

But, unwilling to disappoint Phil and Ruth, and being a beautiful day, we simply hoisted the sails and cut the motor and sailed down the Canaipa Channel.

It was lovely sailing between North Stradbroke and Russell Island, admiring the scenery on Stradbroke and the houses on the foreshore on Russell. Turtles basked on the surface and slowly sank beneath the warm water as we approached. The occasional mullet leapt out of the water, being chased by a larger fish. There was just enough sailing to keep us occupied, as the channel is quite narrow when the tide is low.

We threaded our way down the side of Russell past Tulleenderley and turned round a small mangrove island to anchor for lunch. Cold chicken and ham, salad and a bottle of Sav Blanc. Wonderful!!! Guy took the opportunity to try to dive under the boat to check the prop but the tide was running strongly and he was pulled out every time before he could get to the prop.

After the picnic, it was time to go home. We had already discussed our options and thought it would be best to continue around Russell Island and head up the main channel from the south. The wind had picked up to 20 knots and the Canaipa Passage was looking a little unpleasant.

We set off around Russell Island and our problems commenced. At the bottom of Russell, around Rocky Point, there is a marine crossroads. One side comes from the south ... Cabbage Tree Point and beyond; to the West lies the mouth of the Logan River; north is the main passage to Macleay and Brisbane and east (where we were) is the entrance to the Canaipa Passage and the open sea. Complications arise from the presence of electric power lines connecting Russell to the mainland. And the channel is extremely narrow at this point.

Turning into the main channel, it became obvious that our motor was not going to help us. The wind had picked up to 25 knots and the tide was pushing us back towards the south. Beating is never a pleasant prospect and in a narrow channel, even less so. We double reefed the main and hauled in the jib a little and basically started tacking every four minutes or so across the channel. We would just start to gain a little speed when the depth gauge would show 7 feet and we had to tack again.

Luckily, we have a retractable keel. Otherwise we could not have progressed at all. But the more the keel is retracted, the less steering is available. And, of course, the prop was fouled.

After about an hour, we were no further north. After another hour, we had progressed about 100 metres. We were looking for options. Of course, we could try to turn around and head south to a marina for the night (wish we had!!!) or keep trying. There were no safe anchorages on the way home. (For those not in the know, this part of the trip would normally take half an hour, so we were not that far from home.)

2nd mistake!! We should have gone south and had a pleasant night at the marina. A few drinks and hope that the wind changed in the morning. (Of course, the fact that the wind had been NE for the past week was a factor in our decision. We might have had the same situation in the morning.)

We were hoping that dusk would bring a drop in the wind, which normally happens. Of course, it didn't ... the wind picked up even more. Guy, seeing that we would probably not get home till midnight, decided to ring our mate Brian and ask him to come down in his power boat and give us a tow.

I rang Brian on my mobile and he said he would pick up a mate and head down the channel.

In the meantime, we continued to tack, tack, tack. The wind was even stronger, gusting to 30 knots and the shallow water meant it was very choppy. Poor little Bonnington, only 2400 kg, was heeling desperately on each tack. Phil and I slaved over the jib sheets whilst Guy grimly held onto the tiller. Ruth fed us chocolates.

We saw Brian heading down the channel towards us just as disaster struck. We had decided to furl the jib and stand to until Brian reached us, rather than confuse him by tacking across him. The jib sheet stuck and Phil, not knowing the idiosyncrasies of our boat, grabbed a winch handle. Before Guy could yell "NO! It's just a kink in the jib sheet." Phil had started tightening. BANG!!!! The jib sheet broke from the furler and the jib was flying wildly in the wind.

Lots of trouble now. Phil raced up the front to try to pull down the jib and Ruth helped him hold it down whilst I released it. By the time we had it stowed away, we had drifted into 5 feet of water. Now we were seriously worried about going aground on the sandbank.

Brian had a rope ready to throw to us but he too was having problems with the choppy conditions. He tried to come alongside but came too close and the waves flung him against our side, scoring our fibreglass. He tried again from the front but yet again, the waves flung him onto us and our bow roller rammed through his side curtain and bent his aerial before he could pull away.

3rd mistake!! Don't come too close to a dangerously rolling yacht.

His third attempt was more cautious. He stayed well away and threw the rope several times before we finally caught it and tied it off.

Our end secure, Brian moved off. We were curious to see that his friend Jeff had disappeared into the cabin. We wondered why ... but it was not till the end of the trip that we found out. There was nothing on board to anchor the tow rope so Jeff, a considerable size of a man, simply wrapped it around him and sat in the cabin.

And pulled us home!!

Phil and I sat on the deck and admired the sunset as we were towed up channel and to our mooring in between Karragarra and Macleay. Once we turned the corner into the channel between the islands, the wind abated and Brian and Jeff were able to drop us onto our mooring without a problem. We tied off and headed ashore, ready for a few drinks and then bed.

Next time, we won't go!!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Artistic Licence

The annual Macleay Island Arts Exhibition has just finished.

It was my first attempt at artistic fame and fortune but unfortunately nothing came of it.

I put in three entries, the maximum allowed, all very different. I am still trying to find the best way to express myself on canvas. (That's another way of saying I'm not very good .... lol). But it was the first time I felt confident enough to show my work in public, so I'm pleased with my progress.

I entered a landscape acrylic on canvas which shows the view from Oomool Street on the island.
This is actually intended as a Christmas gift for my son and his partner, as the painting depicts the view from their block. I thought they could show their guests in Melbourne what a wonderful view they own in the Halfwit Sundays.

The second painting is mixed media on canvas, entitled Stradbroke Night. Based on views from Stradbroke when we stayed there a few months ago, this leans more to the style I tend to adopt. I like it ... I thought it might sell.

The third painting is again acrylic on canvas. Entitled Forest Fire. Here I attempted the pure abstract and it did actually attract comment.
Someone even thought of buying it ... but didn't.
Ah well .... I have left the latter two paintings in the gallery. Perhaps someone visiting the island during the Christmas holidays might find one interesting.

Of course, there were some wonderful paintings in the Exhibition.
And even more wonderful sculpture.
How could I resist? I purchased Lady in Red by John Deane, one of the island's better known sculptors. She is simply divine. She now sits temporarily on a small table behind our sofa in the lounge, awaiting a pedestal to show her in her full glory. Tiny chips of silver and opal spark against the sunlight on the brooch which holds her ceramic gown and her head turns elegantly over her shoulder in a very oriental pose.

The three wall plaques are entitled Mangroves by LJS. A shy potter whose initials are the only clue to ownership.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

11 in 1,000,000

That's right, eleven in one million.

What a statistic.

I heard it on the radio today. Only eleven people out of every one million Queenslanders have signed up to donate their organs.

This is a statistic of which all Queenslanders should be deeply ashamed. I just can't understand it myself.

I would bet that there is a near 100% rate of people who would accept a transplant if they needed one.

When my mother died, I was broken-hearted. To this day, the knowledge that somewhere in Western Australia there are two people who can see thanks to transplants of her corneas, uplifts me. My Mum is still doing good, years after her death.

But it was hard at the time. Mum had left no indication of whether she wanted her organs donated for transplant. Hers was a generation which didn't think of these things ... she didn't even have a driver's licence to indicate her preference for transplant.

The people who organise organ transplants have no time for sympathy. They rang me within hours of her death. "We need to know now. Sorry, but they are no good to anyone by tomorrow."

And I was left to make the decision myself.

Knowing my Mum, I was sure she would gladly give her now useless body parts to aid someone still in the land of the living, so I had no qualms in giving the transplant my consent and blessing.

How much easier if you yourself make the decision. Unless it is against your religion, fill in the organ donor's part of your driver's licence. Go online to and find out more about it. And tell your nearest and dearest of your wish.

They will thank you. And somewhere, you might even save a life, not just give the gift of sight.

(And yes, I have registered as an organ donor.)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Friar Birds in the House

We had two Friar birds in the house the other day.

They apparently flew in through the carport and into the kitchen.

Not a smart bird, obviously. We opened the sliding doors to the verandah but they still beat their little heads frantically against the meshing on the louvred windows. Or flailed against the skylights.
Guy managed to catch the one on the left as it got stuck in the louvres. He took it outside and released it.
The second one settled on the fans. I chased it from one fan to another trying to make it fly low enough to go out the open doors in the kitchen but to no avail.
It too had to be captured gently and taken outside. Ungratefully ripping my finger, it flew off into the trees.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"Norrie's Dead. Can you pick up the grog?"

Sitting on the water bus the other morning, a conversation caught my attention.

Two women seated in front of me were deep in conversation.

"Norrie's dead, she said. Can you pick up the grog?"

The second women turns to her companion in amazement. "No! Well, I'm gobsmacked!. Can't believe it!"

"True story. That's what she said, word for word." The first woman shakes her head sadly. "Norrie's gone all right. Young too ...."

Their conversation veered into a long discussion of the departed Norrie, his good points and his bad points (apparently well outweighing the good ones).

I didn't know Norrie but I can't help but wonder if she picked up the grog.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hey, how about that dust storm???

The night before the storm, Baz up the road looks down at the sunset with a rheumy eye and proclaims "Big dust storm tomorrow."

At that stage, we had no news of Sydney's dust storm approaching and were a trifle sceptical of Baz's pronouncement.

Still, I wandered down the road to take a few photos of the sunset. Mmmm, different ... but probably due to smoke from bush fires, I thought.
Great effects! I really must try to capture these colours on canvas.

The storm was the worst in 70 years, I believe. At its fiercest, it reportedly dumped 16,000 tonnes of dirt every hour over South-East Queensland. I also believe most of that finished up on the floors of our house.
This shot was taken Wednesday morning. At this stage we couldn't see the mainland or Garden Island.

These two pics show how thick the dust was ... On the left you can't see the land beneath the dust and the photo on the right shows the dust being blown across the Tasman to NZ.

At the Sailing School down at the Boat Club, there was no sailing on Wednesday! Apart from the visibility factor, the wind whipped up some one metre swell that would have deterred even a hardened sailor.
There is talk of another dust storm coming up this weekend. Is that a good enough excuse not to do any housework?

Friday, September 25, 2009

People with too much time on their hands

Just been over to Russell Island. The Minister for Police, Corrective Services and Emergency Services decided he needed to up his profile so we were awarded our FM1 certificates and epaulettes for the Rural Fire Brigade. This, I might add, some three to four months after actually receiving them.

But no matter. Six of us hopped on the water taxi, together with First Officer Ross and Branch Secretary Chrissie. All very smartly turned out in our new yellows with polished boots. This gave us a chance to sneer at the Russell Island Brigade who received their certificates in old dirty yellows and no jackets.
(Pic shows 1st officer Ross, Alene and Guy)

Having gained cred for thinking of the award day, the Minister found better things to do with his time and sent a newly appointed member of parliament, Mr Steve Kilpurn, in his stead. Stevo presented us with our certificates and epaulettes and told us what a great job we were doing. Thanks, mate!
(pics of Stevo presenting Guy and Alene with their certificates)

After the speeches were over and the mixing and mingling had taken place, food was placed on the table and we could all get down and dirty, so to speak. Wow! We do have to give RI credit for a good feed. They turned on a feast!! Heaps of freshly made sandwiches (including my fave of egg and lettuce), mini chicken kievs, sausage rolls and pies, quiche, pigs in a blanket, cheese and bikkies, olives, lamingtons, apple turnovers with fresh cream ... the list is endless.

At which point comes the point of this post: there were pink boiled eggs on offer. Somebody had taken the time and effort to boil eggs in something pink (beetroot? cochineal?) to produce halved hard boiled pink eggs.
There are people with too much time on their hands.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fire in the Night

It had to happen sooner or later. A firebug has returned to the island.

The first grass fire started at about 9.45pm, just after we had returned home from the Friday night dinner at the Boat Club. Tumbling into our yellows, we got to the station just in time to catch a ride on 61, our largest fire truck.

Driving up High Central Road, I was wondering what the night would bring. It was my first actual uncontrolled fire. I had attended several controlled burns, had checked on fires lit by people which neighbours had complained about, a vehicle smash and several ambo calls but this was a first. How would I react to a fire burning out of control? There was only one way to find out.

We turned into Baramundi Street and there it was on the corner. Just a tiny little fire about 5 metres square and certainly not out of control. Jumping out of the cab, Guy and Jamie used the two Case 1 hoses to douse the flames. A case 1 hose is the smallest we use, permanently attached to the truck by reels at the back. What did I do? Not much ... just backed Guy up on the hose, standing behind him helping the hose through the bush.

Within half an hour it was all out and we returned, first to the station and then back home. The adrenalin rush faded and suddenly I was extremely tired. It had to be bedtime. A quick shower and then an early night, for Saturday was a big day. Guy was photographing an island wedding, starting at 9.30am and I was back to the Fire Brigade, as there was a large controlled burn on the books. This was a privately owned 10 acre block, very close to the grass fire we had just attended.


When you're tired, it takes you a while to realise that the ringing in your ears isn't tinnitus, it's the fire brigade pager going off. Yes, again! But now it's 1.45am. Wearily, we climb out of bed and back into the yellows. I'm not quite so keen this time and neither of us speaks as we make our way downstairs and pull on our boots. Grabbing our gloves, goggles and helmet, we drive up the street in silence.

This time we must have taken a little longer because the truck had left the station. (I swear some of the firies sleep in their uniforms because we are only a few hundred metres from the station.)

The address of the latest grass fire was given on our pagers so we drove up High Central Road again, this time to Wirralee Street, which is the street just before Baramundi. This was the block we were assigned to burn off at 8am on Saturday morning. Looked like we were getting an early start!!

This time the fire was very impressive, reaching several metres into the air and spreading rapidly through the dry tinder of the undergrowth. Luckily, the owner of the block had cleared fire breaks all along the edges of his block. Otherwise the houses which clung to the sides of the block would have been in much greater danger than they were. The occupants were all out on the street, huddled in groups and watching the flames with apprehension. For once, the firies were welcomed with open arms, even by the greenies who hate to see us burn any bush, no matter how dangerous.

This time I found myself minding the pump. Not exactly the most exciting job. You stand there and watch the man with the hose. When he raises his arm, you turn on the water. When he signals stop, you close it off. Woohoo!

But I should have been grateful for that break because within half an hour, we were moving down the street to keep up with the fire. This meant finding another hydrant to fill the truck up with water. The hydrant sign was easy to spot and we walked over to the edge of the road to check it out. Well, there was the sign but where was the hydrant? The hydrant cover is usually a metre in front of the post so I dug around in the dirt with the hydrant tool until I felt metal. Then it was back to the truck for a shovel and twenty minutes of serious digging before we could lift the plate and get the hydrant stand in place. Hooking up the hoses was easy in comparison and we soon had water streaming up to the firies at the front.

Around this stage, it was decided we might as well start backburning to prevent the fire getting out of control near the houses. And we might as well let the whole block burn, saving us from coming back in the morning to do the controlled burn we had promised.

Drip torches were lit and taken up to the brush to light the edges. The wind then burns the flames back into the centre, causing an updraft which sucks the flames in rather than spreading them out. Wonderful to watch!!

Which is what I did, once again relegated to the pump. Darn! I wanted to get up there with a hose!!

And so the night progressed. We moved the truck from place to place, set up the hydrant, connected the hoses and directed the water flow. And manned the pump.

Once things were under control, Helen and I were given a break and allowed up near the flames to check out the fire. I wish I'd taken a camera. It was quite spectacular. The flames would start about one metre high until they caught a banksia tree and then cartwheels of fire would appear as the banksia cones burst into sparks.

We spotted a 7' carpet snake desperately climbing a tiny gum sapling to avoid the heat of the forest floor. It was no longer than he was but he managed to curl his way around the branches, as they dipped and swayed under his weight. He seemed fine so we left him to his shaky perch.

The night progressed, smokily. We spent ages gazing up at the errant sparks which drifted across into neighbouring yards. So easy for one small spark to start a conflagration! But luckily, the wind was kind and nothing happened.

Eventually, it was time to clear up. That's the hard part. Making up hoses. Yuk!!! First of all,you have to carry metres and metres of canvas hose and duraline (rubber) hose back to the truck, emptying them of water as you go. Then you have to roll them up. PROPERLY!!! None of this "near enough is good enough" for the Rural Fire Brigade!!

The last straw was the 64 hose attached to the last hydrant. It was full of water and lying uphill when I found it. The others were elsewhere, bringing in other hoses, so it was up to me to empty this monster and have it ready to roll when they returned.

Getting the water out entailed having the two ends facing downhill so I had to drag them. Aaaaah, my shoulders sag at the memory. I would not have believed anything could be so heavy, so difficult to handle and so muddy!!! There were moments when I was sure I wouldn't get it done. But eventually there it was, lying in the road, ready for my partner to help me roll it up.

The joy of that last completed hose roll. Back screaming from all the bending, shoulders screaming from the lifting, legs just plain cramped. Ah! What luxury to sink back into the truck and announce "Firecom Brisbane, this is Macleay Island 61. We are Code 4."

Finished and going home, with the dawn rising over Stradbroke as we drove down the road.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Aaah Queensland, beautiful one day, perfect the next

It’s been a strange day today. Melbourne weather.

Opening my eyes this morning, the sun was blazing above my head. The gum trees were swaying against the impossible blue of the sky and the magpies and lorikeets were doing battle of the bands. Definitely a perfect day in Queensland.

As the day progressed, showers came over and scattered a few teasing drops on the lawn. Would it rain? I rushed to bring in the washing, almost dry, and hung it on the line inside the carport. Where did the sun go? I put on a hoodie and perched myself on my computer, prepared to sit out the afternoon storm in the office.

The hoodie came off as the sun burnt a hole in the clouds and dried up the rain spots in an instant. You could almost see the humidity in the air and feel the steam off your skin. Time to leave the office and do a little weeding in the vegie patch, brushing off the host of mosquitoes anxious to make my blood’s acquaintance.

At four thirty, it’s back to the threat of rain and it’s cold enough for that hoodie once more. And I’ve returned to my desk.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Winning the Lottery

How fortunate am I!! This morning Mrs Stella Ellis advised me that I have won a cash prize of one million pounds in the British Lottery. She sent her heartiest congratulations.

How kind! Thanks, Stella!

The delightful Mr Fred Peters (who is not a Nigerian based in Lagos, she assures me) has been assigned to assist me.

Is this assisting me in spending my million dollars? Or spending what money I already have in my bank account?

Stella strongly advises me to keep my winning details and information from the public to avoid fraudulant claims. And I can't claim if I am under 18 or working for the British Lottery.

Ah, they even realise that teenagers are irresponsible and would spend the million on drugs and alcohol! (Come to think of it, I might do the same .......)

And I suppose working for the British Lottery might be a bit of insider trading, so to speak. Although they would certainly know a scam when they saw one.

I only have five days to contact my mate Freddy, otherwise I lose all this lovely money. Stella urged me to contact him today, giving my name, address, age, occupation, sex

And why is my gender relevant? Will I get preferential treatment for being female, or the opposite?

Aaaaah, it's so tempting! Should I send spurious information to the hard-working Freddy? Can I string this tired old scam along for a joke or would it merely become tiresome? Perhaps I will just daydream of the day I really do win the lottery.

In the words of Marlon Brando's Stan "Stella, Stella!!!"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Not the Halfwit Postie

"Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night will keep me from my appointed rounds"

Guy has got a new job. Part-time postie on Macleay Island.

He will be working three days a week, Monday, Thursday and Friday. This will certainly top up the coffers, which have been dwindling of late.
He delivers to roughly one third of the island on his trusty motorbike (courtesy of Australia Post). However, he had to buy his own helmet ... there goes the first week's pay!!

He told me NOT to call him the Halfwit Postie so he is .... Not the Halfwit Postie.

In the meantime, I am continuing to try to get islanders interested in, my information site. It's a long, slow process but I think I am seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. I've actually had a couple of businesses advertise and my Google rating is rising daily.

I'm still painting too. I can't see that we will make any money out of my art, even after my death but hey ... it's all good fun. Here's two of the latest efforts:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Terrible Tick

The latest victim of the scourge of the Halfwit Sundays is Teisa. She has been bitten by a paralysis tick and is currently residing at Koala Park Veterinary Clinic on the mainland. (I have taken out a second mortgage to pay the expected bill.)
On going downstairs on Monday morning, I saw her reclining on the sofa. But when she didn't leap into the air and run for the food bowl, I was sure something was wrong. Examing her, I found that she couldn't stand up: her back legs were paralysed.

The evil paralysis tick had attacked my lovely Teisa.

Can you imagine a worse creature? It climbs up into trees and bushes and launches itself onto passing victims. Cats, dogs, even humans fall to its evil bite. Yes, even humans!

Once on board, it scuttles to a handy crevice and starts burrowing its way into the flesh, sucking blood as it goes. It generally takes two to three days to affect the animal, starting with excessive salivation and then paralysing the hind legs of the animal. This gradually proceeds up the spine unless the animal is treated.

We didn't know this! We found a tick on Teisa and removed it completely. No tick head was left on the cat, so we thought all was well. But apparently we should have taken her to the vet immediately. If treated then, she would have avoided the paralysis stage or it would not have been so severe.
The Vet on the island only comes on Tuesdays and Saturdays so it was a mad rush to the barge to see if we could get on to take her to the mainland. Luckily, there was an empty berth so we took her across to the vet, who saw her immediately. She was treated with anti-tick serum and there she will stay until she can stand, eat and urinate. (It's Thursday afternoon now and still no good news.)


With humans, the main problem is allergy. I've known people in the Halfwits having to be hellicoptered out due to tick bites. It swells up the airways and can cause severe breathing difficulties.

Even if you do find out and remove it, you will find yourself with an instant headache. The longer the tick has been on you, the more severe the headache will be. So beware!

Robert got bitten on the leg last week and his whole leg became swollen. He likened the headache to a long-lasting migraine. Another friend Guy has been doing bush work on nearby Russell Island and has had a dozen small ticks removed from various parts of his body. They had fallen on him whilst he was working under casuarina trees. He has taken to stripping the minute he gets home and having an all-over body search with the help of his Dad.

The Garden of Eden had the serpent: The Halfwits have the tick.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Joy of the 20c book

One of the benefits of living in the Halfwit Sundays is the Op Shop. Where else in the world can you get a book for 20c?

I regularly find myself in there, trawling the shelves to see what the tide has brought in. It's a fascinating mixture, given the ecletic population mix of the island itself.

The island is an amalgam of artists, greenies, musicians, retirees and young families with a desire to raise their children in a natural environment. I've never lived anywhere with so many painters, sculptors, writers or craftsmen. Every second person is fulfulling a desire to write their life story or paint that sunset. The others are caring for the bush, counting the birdlife and saving the turtles and dugongs in the Bay from extinction.

But I digress ... I was talking about the 20c book.

My last $1 worth of pulp fiction found me -

A Patrick White novel "Eye of the Storm", one of his best. I'd read it before but it was worth a second read after a lapse of ten years or so.

"The Secret Life of Plants" "astounding discoveries about the physical, emotional and spiritual relations between plants and man" (like, yer!!!) OK, it's kinda creepy to be chatting to your plants. Makes you think of Prince Charles and God knows that's not a good idea. "Well, hello, pelargonium. How are you today? Bit hungover? Cat peed on you again?"

"Moreton Bay People" a collection of reminiscences from bay personalities spanning the twentieth century.This sounded a lot better than it turned out to be. Earlier history might have been better but this seemed to be a bunch of old grannies talking about when they were young.

An old edition of Lonely Planet Thailand (with page 23 missing). Always good in an emergency, I love to read about places I plan to visit. Yes, I've been to Thailand but only Bangkok (en route to London) and Phi Phi Island (for scuba diving)

A very strange but addictive first novel by Marisha Pessl entitled "Special Topics in Calamity Physics". Took me quite a while to get the hang of it but then I couldn't put it down. Won't try to describe it: to say it's a murder mystery lowers it to the banal. I loved it!!

What a magnificent hoard.

And if I don't like one, so what? I can donate it back to the best little second hand book store in Queensland! After all, it only cost me 20c!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saving the "Camargue"

Early on Saturday morning, we received a frantic phone call from Billie.

"The Camargue has gone! I walked down to Dalpura this morning and she wasn't on her mooring! What shall I do?"

Billie is a delightful Scottish lady in her seventies whose husband Dudley works on the mines. She reminds me of a tiny little bird, bright inquisitive eyes and the cocked head that goes with them.

The night before had been extremely stormy on the island. We could hear the wind thrashing the treetops all night and had already decided to check our own boat after breakfast.

Hastily finishing our coffee, we piled into the 4WD and set off. Guy dropped me at Thompson's Point to climb down and walk along the beach to see if I spotted the errant craft. He, with Karla and Bec (here for the weekend) continued on to the Boat Club to launch the safety boat.

A turtle lay forlornly on the sand as I approached. Dead? There were no prop marks but although I willed that thin skin on the neck to pulse, the eyes remained glazed and the waves lapped over its flippers, burying them in the sand. Another casualty of the infernal plastic bag! Fishermen take their bait out in a bag and toss it over the side without a thought. Poor turtle comes along and the faint remnants of fish tempt it to swallow the bag which ties up its stomach.

Saddened, we left the burial for later in the day and hopped onto the safety boat.

The weather was still gusty. The previous night had been a king tide as well as the strong winds and now the wind was whipping up the waves like a giant eggbeater. It was easier to speed across the top of the waves rather than labour up and down each swell, so we hung on and closed our eyes against the salt spray. Screams of delight rang through the air each time we became airborne.

Suddenly, we espied the errant "Camargue" hiding itself in the mangroves about 500 metres from its mooring. We nosed in towards shore, finally jumping out on the beach and wading ashore. Ouch!!! Have you ever walked on a mangrove beach? The tiny mangrove roots stick up out of the sand every centimetre or so and they hurt! I imagine it's like walking on a bed of nails. We tied our rubber ducky onto a mangrove trunk before hobbling towards the "Camargue".

The "Camargue" is a 20' steel craft with a wooden mast and twin skeg keels. At least this meant that it was unlikely to have much damage. A sail boat with the conventional deep keel would be lying on its side with mast and boom shattered. But "Camargue" was sitting firmly on the sand, rammed into a group of large mangroves.

Guy hopped aboard and checked out the craft. Apart from a showering of debris from the mangroves, she appeared to be OK. The mangroves had definitely come off worse, with large branches floating in the water around the boat.

On the beach, I telephoned the good news to Billie.

And the bad news. "Camargue" had run aground on a king tide. With her weight, we would have to wait for the next king tide to shift her. And the next king tide is not until October.

The joys of boat ownership!

Monday, August 17, 2009

My early morning run

The platoon advances up the beach
a slippery, sideways pincer movement,
armour glistening black against the wet sand.

The leader calls a halt. Something approaches.
Thunder in the distance and the sand shakes.
Warily, they retreat and as the sound increases,
turn and run for cover ... a rout.

From their foxholes in the sand, eyes peer on stalks
at the early morning jogger
pounding along the beach.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Flinders Day at Coochie

We went over to neighbouring Coochiemudlo Island to take part in the annual Flinders Day celebrations. This was to commemorate the day when Matthew Flinders set foot on Coochiemudlo.
Obviously, he took one look at Macleay, the tide was out and he chose the sandy beaches of Coochie instead. Story of our Halfwit Lives!!!

Coochie really do a great job of the whole thing. Lots of locals dressed up as various olden day people and even a little cannon to set off. But why, we ask? Didn't they want Flinders to turn up? Or was it to scare off the visitors from Macleay?They also had markets (mmmm, retail therapy!!!) and the good news is that I bought a lot of Christmas presents there. All very tasteful ... I did not get sucked into the tie-died petticoats.

But I did get sucked into trying out Dragon Boat racing. Hmm! Nobody mentioned it was really hard work and that we were expected to paddle for over 2km. I was totally stuffed! Luckily, the girl behind me was ready with the snakes, always a necessity at all sporting events!!