Legends from our own lunchtimes

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Unseen Danger

January always brings the highest tides of the year, and with it often some unexpected flotsam, but we didn't expect to see a new navigation marker outside the boat shed.   Surely they don't expect us to go round that do they?

We watched as it floated down the river, hovered on the change of tide and came to rest on the far bank.

When I reported it, the Water Police person didn't at first seem to understand that I wasn't concerned about the buoy itself being a hazard, but the absence of the marker on the reef near the bridge had the potential to cause real harm to an innocent holiday maker.  After some explanation, help was dispatched and it was returned to it's more useful location within the hour.  

I wonder how many times we've navigated waterways oblivious to unmarked dangers.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cue the Sun

If you ever visit and you get out of bed at say 5:00 am you'll find that the rising sun plays amazing tricks, setting the she-oaks ablaze.  It's just this one spot that cops the reflected light, and it only ever lasts a few minutes.    The lapwings seem to like it to, because they are often here to watch it happen

It's almost the end of the month, and the Home of the Biting Midge is finally hitting her stride.  Michael arrived yesterday, and tonight we have another six overnight plus a few more for tea, and the place is sparkling, after all it was cleaned to within an inch of its life yesterday for the gummint blokes' inspection.

I'm sure there's a word for the feeling one gets after the event, after one has spent months of sleeplessness, planning what to say and do, how to counter every punch, being TOTALLY prepared, and then then, when the meeting happens it all goes according to that plan.  The other side depart offering reassurance and hope.

It has to be a trick.


Like the sun in the trees.

But I've captured that moment, haven't I?


Friday, January 29, 2010

Spotted Turtle Doves

Perhaps if I was to tell them we had a habitat for spotted turtle doves....


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Oyster Catchers

The Pied Oyster Catchers live on the island opposite, but they keep a keen eye on the soldier crab stocks at our place.  Their beaks seem to be exactly the same dimension that a soldier crab lives below the ground, so it's easy picking for them.

The soldier crab burrows are beginning to appear again, soon the beach will be crawling with them at low tide, and not long after that the stingrays will arrive, mining the beach at half tide, watching us watching them.   They'll not leave a single crab or yabbie behind when they move on to more productive pastures, but eventually the cycle will repeat itself, the crabs, birds and stingrays will be back.

Today there's a bit of anticipation happening.  Tomorrow "their" people come to inspect.

Alea jacta est.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mr Nasty

He's not really nasty, but by golly he looked a bit purposeful this morning.
Reminds me terribly of a sad little man we encountered on Monday.
For the first time in my thus far illustrious career that I've actually been thrown out of a consultant's office.  I was, after all only trying to give him a job for which as it turns out he'd quoted more than double the going rate.  After a few short minutes of discussion during which time he took exception to me daring to ask about his methodology, we were shown the door.
I can only assume that vulnerable people inexperienced in the property industry are simply led on a merry chase.
For his part, well perhaps he would have received us differently had he bothered to question my credentials as well!  I'm rather glad he didn't.

For the technically curious, yes our seagull was in a hurry, and yes it took a few shots at 1/80 sec to get his head reasonably sharp with his legs moving!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

We are Australian

Today was Mat and Mic's big day, as they walked forward to collect their certificate and their tree, proving they were now Australians, the tribal elder from the Kimberleys did her best to smoke the last vestige of Canadian from them.

It's a sensational experience, watching people choose to become citizens of the country that has adopted them.

Apart from the ceremony of course, I rather think the highlight of the day was hearing a baritone sing Advance Australia Fair accompanied by a pipe band and a digeridoo.   Like all true Aussies, he forgot the words of the second verse, leaving the throng of new citizens to carry the day.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Passing Parade

Yesterday it was a seagull taking a turn up the beach behind the little black cormorants, the day before a seagull did exactly the same as this blue heron, strutting proudly up the beach as though directing his personal flock.   The pelicans are the undisputed kings though, chasing the cormorants while they are underwater, attacking them on their way to the surface in the hope they'll drop their quarry.

Mostly the cormorants whizz by underwater, startling us if nothing else.


Sunday, January 24, 2010


On a busy day, we'll have three or four boats go by.  We live in the midst of a fairly sensitive environment, with fragile banks and there are signs which declare the place to have a 6 knot speed limit.    To obtain a boat licence one must also learn that one can't travel at more than 4 knots within a certain distance of the shore, yet people persist.

This bloke is better than most, sure he's travelling flat out, but his boat is perfectly trimmed and the wash he created was probably no more than if he'd been travelling very slowly.   He doesn't have much chance of being reported to the Water Police either, given the state of his registration number!

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 24
Nights at Home: 19
Days Without Visitors: 13

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Old men on racing skis glide by in the middle of the day.   I don't know why that is, the young and the superfit are gone by sunrise, but the old blokes wait till the UV index is a zillion and the temperature maxed out before getting out on the water.  

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 23
Nights at Home: 19
Days Without Visitors: 13

Friday, January 22, 2010

Blue-faced Honeyeater

Sitting on the steps looking down at the water it's all too easy to become lost in one's thoughts, to believe that one is alone in the world.
As is the with most thing in life, when one believes one is alone, one rarely is.  Just above the steps, the cabbage palm we saved stands as a sentry beside the beach, and in it the Honey Eaters call us to attention,  jagging us back to another place.

Yesterday it was the valuers and lawyers who called us to attention, but I have a preference for the place below the Honey Eaters.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 22
Nights at Home: 19
Days Without Visitors: 13

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Drinking Problem

Eventually someone is going to notice that the composition and background of every water bird photo on this blog is identical.  That's because I don't actually spend any time stalking the subjects, I just sit on the back steps with my cup of coffee watching the world go by, and by it does indeed go.

Often just moving enough to raise my camera to my eye is enough to scare them away, which is ok, because mostly I don't have my camera beside me.   It's really only in the past few weeks that I've even given a thought to not taking the diversity of birdlife that we see here for granted!

This little bloke is, I am fairly certain, a young Striated Heron with his adult grey plumage just starting to appear on his back and shoulders.   We were brothers for a time, he and I.  He with his tasty salt water refreshment, and me dribbling my coffee with similar aplomb.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 21
Nights at Home: 18
Days Without Visitors: 13

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Creatures of Habit

From the day we poured shell of the pond it had water in it.  Well it would have, we did all our building work in the wettest season on record, but that's another story.  

From the moment it had water in it we have been visited by the magpie family, and for at least seven years they've continued with what can only be described as a ritual. Each year they bring their latest family member to join them.

They don't fly in.  Presumably out of respect for ourselves, they walk.

Like cowboys checking in their guns at the door to the saloon, they land near our letterbox and walk the length of the driveway and then some more until they arrive at the pond near the front door.   There's a shallow bit that they bathe in, one watching the other, each warbling the whole time, then they'll hop onto one of the lower branches of the frangipani to clean their beaks, before perhaps popping back in for a good splash and another chat.

When it's all done, they'll walk back down the driveway to the letterbox, then take off till the next time.

I wonder if they are going to miss us.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 20
Nights at Home: 17
Days Without Visitors: 12

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Roger's Pontoon

Drinking a cup of coffee this morning, sitting on the step and staring up river past Roger's pontoon, my lens is not long enough to focus on the Heron roosting in the mangroves beyond.  Well I suppose it's getting close to a kilometre away so I can excuse that.
I've got other things to focus on now anyway.  They've appointed their valuer, now we have to do the same.

And get a lawyer.

The bunfight is about to begin, but at this stage at least there is an extraordinary degree of courtesy being extended.  If feels like the sort of sympathy one gives to the relatives of the deceased at the funeral of someone one barely knew.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 19
Nights at Home: 16
Days Without Visitors: 10

Monday, January 18, 2010

Well you have to laugh....

 Poking around his backyard with Mr Three this morning, I did get a giggle to see the working boys' clothes all hung out there, nice and clean, ready for another day's yakka.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 18
Nights at home: 15
Days by ourselves: 10

Sunday, January 17, 2010

At Dobbos

A night at the Dobbos among the trees in the Gold Coast Hinterland is a guarantee of a good time, but when there are a dozen or so others who spend a bit of time on their boats in France, it almost becomes a club.  Come to think of it, it IS a club of sorts.

It's amazing that so many people from such a small geographic area can have discovered each other, it makes us all wonder how many others are out there that we are yet to find.

Ian, the second washer from the right on the bottom doesn't line up with the others.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 17
Nights at Home: 15
Days Without Visitors: 10


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Grass Never Sleeps

Two weeks into the year and our first night away from home, that has to be some sort of record.  As my eyes started to open and one of them peered out of our room at Ab and Matt's place this morning, Matt had already been at work for a couple of hours, no doubt dreaming of coming home and getting stuck into the never ending list of chores.

I don't think I'd like to swap places with him, but I'm happy in the knowledge that I've done my time, as he should be in the knowledge that our grass was once perpetually in need of a mow as well.

I do recall that I've already expressed my view on mowing on these very pages, so won't repeat myself, other than to say that in the very probable event that the next home of the biting midge is not beside a quiet river somewhere, there is very little chance of any deliberately cultivated grass finding it's way into our lives!

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 16
Nights at Home: 15
Days Without Company: 10

Friday, January 15, 2010

One I prepared earlier

I'm not sure what to do today, I left for the Big Smoke early, but technically I still woke up at home, and since I'm making up this year's rules as I go along, I thought a pic from home was appropriate.   We'll have the new lotus flower today and we won't be home to see it, but I'm sure it will be just as wonderful as the last one was.    This picture about half way through the second day, after that, well you saw the results a few days ago.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 15
Nights at Home: 15
Days Without Visitors: 10

Thursday, January 14, 2010


More often than not over the years, a kingfisher has sat in the Casuarina and watched me shower.
He never waits long enough for me to get a camera.   As soon as the taps are turned off, he disappears.
He becomes invisible, just as he has done for this photo from the shower recess.
I've spent a lot of time staring out that window of late, showering far beyond the socially acceptable time limits, and wondering what excuses the day will bring.
Today is Thursday.  Two days after Tuesday.   That Tuesday, when we were going to have an answer.

Edit:7:30 am.
The letter arrived in our PO Box this morning, "subject to the availability of funds" we are now in the negotiating phase.  The clouds have become instantly lighter, the ball in our stomachs has turned to butterflies.   We have a long road ahead, but at least now we know we are on it.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 14
Nights at Home: 14
Days Without Visitors: 10

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Damn Those Metaphors

So Tuesday came and Tuesday went.

Although the phone rang, it was to say that we are still in the system.  

So where in the above photo are we?   

And what's eating us?

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 13
Nights at Home: 13
Days Without Visitors:9

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Meanwhile, not far away in that very same pond, the water lily carries on.  Dancing as if nothing is happening.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 12
Nights at Home: 12
Days Without Visitors:8

Monday, January 11, 2010

Solistalgia - "powerful triggers and metaphors"

Even before the last petal of the lotus flower falls, a new bud emerges to take its place.

The germ of an idea forms.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 11
Nights at Home: 11
Days Without Visitors:7

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Solistalgia, a rebuttal.

"— and, interestingly, the small changes in their own front yards formed powerful triggers and metaphors for their despair." 
How on earth did Albrecht come up with this nonesense I wonder.

The lotus has all too little time to bloom before its petals begin to depart.

As soon as it achieves full bloom they sag and flutter, detaching themselves to fly to the pond below, or perhaps to rest for a time on a lily pad.

At first one, then another, then perhaps two more, four.  In a final flurry they all depart.

The first of the petals in our street is vacant.


Soon there will be another

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 10
Nights at Home: 10
Days Without Visitors:6

Saturday, January 09, 2010

More Solistalgia

Setting out to post a photograph each day was intended to be a simple task. Just create a simple record of where we were and what we were seeing that we could reflect on at the end of the year I thought.

There was no intention to actually reflect each day, but  after just a few days the constant reminder of what we were about to lose took a toll on the thought process, and as no doubt every reader has noticed, as somewhat less flippant than usual documentary than is my custom has been the result thus far.

Watching our bees flit among the lillys and lotus really hit a nerve for some reason.  Our little Australian native stingless bees (trigonias)  have no idea they are in for a move as well, and I suspect that if they did, they'd just get about their business without further reflection.

The discovery that the way we feel was not only quite normal, but that it had been identified, described, and even named, and that our neighbours were experiencing the same emotional tugs has put a different perspective on what is happening in our minds.

Four days ago, when I photographed the Lapwings, I had a lump in my throat. Then the next morning as I watched the Sandpiper, and thought of the roosting Oyster Catchers on the other side of the river, and the cormorants, the mistletoe birds, the magpies that bathe in the fish pond each day and the cranes that fish in it, not to mention the kingfisher that watches me shower, I truly wondered if I shouldn't stop this project lest I become a walking streak of melancholy.

A lot can happen in three days as one tries to gain an understanding of self.

Had we sold our house in the normal course of events, we'd suffer a day or so of remorse after signing the contract, undoubtedly a day or two of sadness would follow, and then we'd get on with it and move. We'd return occasionally to see how the trees were doing, to have a cup of tea or a piece of Christmas Cake in the old neighbourhood.  We'd marvel at how the neighbour's grandchildren had grown and how the renovations in number seven were still not quite complete and it would be as if we'd never left.

Or perhaps we'd just drive down our street with the grandchildren in tow, out of idle curiosity.

What we know today that we didn't know two days ago is that it isn't the loss of property or the uncertainty of dealing with the situation that is playing with our minds.  It is the fact that the community will have vanished without trace, and with it our emotional ties to the place.  We can handle that now that we know what troubles us so.


So now we are back to the beginning, recording our days, preserving some memories that in the normal course of events would not need physical reminders.  Providing some ties.

I wonder if we have time to get it all.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 9
Nights at Home: 9
Days Without Visitors: 5

Friday, January 08, 2010


The pond is alive at the moment, another lotus flower will be at its glorious peak today.   Their subtlety is an extraordinary contrast to the vivid blues and yellows of the water lilies on the surface, and our little native bees are going gangbusters flitting between them all.

I must buy the timber to build a new hive today, ours is now long overdue for a split.

As I sit and watch it all a cloud descends.   It's not black or dark or the sort of cloud that makes one perpetually sad or melancholy, but it is none the less a cloud with the merest hint of those ingredients, a whiff of sadness round its edges perhaps.

While wondering about all that, and what picture to post for today, Sue phoned and told us about solistalgia, and our world of hitherto inexplicable emotions suddenly had an explanation;
"It's the homesickness you feel when you're still at home."

… the distress caused by the lived experience of the transformation of one’s home and sense of belonging and is experienced through the feeling of desolation about its change. [snip]
The diagnosis of solastalgia is based on the recognition of the distress within an individual or a community about the loss of ‘endemic sense of place’ and the loss of a sense of control of its destiny.
In essence, solastalgia is the sadness caused by environmental change.
The concept was created by Glenn Albrecht, a professor at the School of Environmental and Life Sciences at the University of Newcastle, after he noticed the depression amongst rural farmers in drought-stricken lands. The drought had caused increased workloads, debt, and fear about future security — and, interestingly, the small changes in their own front yards formed powerful triggers and metaphors for their despair. Albrecht’s studies showed that farmer women would be enormously more upset over the loss of their gardens than their mortgage or income. (“Losing a garden is often quite dramatic,” as a colleague noted. “It’s often the only thing that’s between them and a vast landscape of dust.”)

That's exactly it!  "The loss of a sense of control over it's destiny".

It has a name, it's definitely how we feel, but I still don't understand how we have allowed ourselves to succumb to such an illogical malady. "Despair" is not how we feel admittedly, far from that, but we are acutely aware that we are seeing the last season of our frangipani blooms, and that the already vacant houses in our street and the next are starting to show the first signs of unkemptness as our community crumbles before our eyes.

Perhaps when someone actually makes a decision, removing our uncertainty, these feelings will pass.

Roll on Tuesday.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 8
Nights at Home: 8
Days Without Visitors: 4

Thursday, January 07, 2010

He doesn't have a name.

I'm fairly sure this bloke is a pelican, but we've never been formally introduced.   He's been hanging round for around eight years give or take, and occasionally brings a mate or two, but only he calls our place home.   If we walk down to the lawn he'll swim over and walk up to what he considers to be a safe distance, expecting us to feed him I guess, but we never do.  Or maybe just once or twice we have when  we have had a small fish at hand.

There always seems to be a shortage of pelican food when we go to Aldi.  He disappears for a month or two in winter presumably to try his luck out west at a B&S ball.

He was grubbier than usual today, I'm not sure whether it's a bit of diesel or just dirty foam after the rain, perhaps I could have used a picture I'd prepared earlier, but I rather like telling it as it is today.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 7
Nights at Home: 7
Days Without Visitors: 3

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

It's just nice! Day 6

I can't remember a day since we've lived here that we haven't been grateful for the experience, and I suppose that fact alone puts us in some sort of elite company.  This morning it was a Curlew or Curlew Sandpiper that escaped before I could get my camera onto it, but the pic from the steps was pretty nice in the early overcast light.

If only I'd had a bigger lens, or a camera at the ready, or I'd got up earlier or.....does that sound like a grateful person to you??

Actually I didn't get it clearly identified, but it's almost certainly one of a variety of migratory birds  which come down from Siberia to enjoy our Autumn, some of them stay, and I figure he's one of them.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 6
Nights at Home: 6
Days Without Visitors: 3

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Day 5

It's dull and overcast and this pair of Race novaehollandia (Spur-winged Lapwings) just loved plodding up and down Papa's Beach occasionally finding whatever it is they were looking for.  

They are pretty timid, and I normally wouldn't worry about trying to stake them out with a too-short lens, however we cannot be certain that we have sufficient time remaining here to get that perfect souvenir!

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 5
Nights at Home: 5
Days Without Visitors: 2

Monday, January 04, 2010

Day 4 - Be careful what you wish for.

The last of the super king tides today, Mr Three had fun swimming on the boatshed deck before he went home yesterday.  "Papa's Beach" is a sensational place to swim on the high tide, and we seem to waste an awful lot of time watching the schools of fish swimming among the submersed Pigweed.

Roger and Margaret's place is the only other structure we can see from our place, and I used to joke that I'd made an application to have it demolished because it ruined our habitat.  I didn't count on our habitat being included in that demolition order as well.

Today I spoke with the Main Roads Department, who tell me there should be some news next Tuesday. It's impossible to believe how intrusive the spectre of resumption is into one's psych.   Emotions change hourly.  No matter how much we tell ourselves we were only borrowing this little patch, the probability that it will have 55,000 cars running over it each day doesn't seem to compute!

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 4
Nights at Home: 4
Days Without Visitors: 1

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Day 3

Early evening, across the mangroves to Nicklin Way.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 3
Nights at Home: 3
Days Without Visitors: 0

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Day 2

Don't despair, I'm sure there'll be a tale or two to tell eventually.

Today was one of three days in the last 16 years when the tide made it over the boat shed floor, or to be more accurate since the boat shed has only been at that level for seven, since the tide has been of sufficient height to flood the boat shed floor if indeed it had been there previously.  Actually neither boat shed nor tide.... oh forget it!

I suspect that wherever we live in the future, we'll never forget what a privileged existence we've led in our time here.  Sure the midges do visit from time to time, but there's nothing quite like wandering ankle deep among the fish and pig weed in the clear water of a king tide, when it's all happening in one's own back yard.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 2
Nights at Home: 2
Days Without Visitors: 0

Friday, January 01, 2010

Day 1 - 2010

What's the point in posting, I wondered.  The photo is the same, the blind hasn't moved, the glare that comes off the water every morning means that it's impossible to get a properly exposed shot, and the green tinted glass means the colour balance will never be right.

Then we looked and realised (as if we didn't already know) that the house changes when we have visitors.  It isn't a comfortable nest for a pair of almost retirees, it becomes a beach house with towels and sand and scooters and surfboards hanging round.

And to top it off, the first words I heard this year were from the floor near my bed:  "There were fireworks Papa!", and there were, we watched the early session at least from the verandah by the beach towels.  Well we watched those that rose above the mangroves anyway, and we didn't have far to go to bed.    I don't remember another year when we didn't make it to midnight.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 1
Nights at Home: 1
Days Without Visitors: 0
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