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I am alive. Just busy keeping busy.

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August 2009 – From Her Notebook

Last night I was checking out an image of a Kite (the feathered kind) on my big Sisters wall on Facebook. It reminded me of how birds always seemed to gravitate towards Tina. I remember her taking a photo of a Willy Wagtail one day in Rocky. She was sitting on the ground with her legs stretched out in front of her when a Wagtail decided to perch on her boot. I still have the pic somewhere. He let her take a couple of pics, had a little chatter, then flew back to where I’d been digging in the garden, to chase a few more bugs.
I was also reminded of a few pages in a notebook that I found while going through our stuff a couple months ago. Back in August 2009, we were staying at certain spots along the Fitzroy River near Rockhampton. Tina had started to write a journal of sorts & this is what She wrote over a few days. Anything in brackets are my additions for clarity:

Mon 10-08-09
We moved yesterday, about 14km from town along Bowlin Rd. But that road is a 4WD track, so chewed up by blokes with their big mud tyres that it’s a 45 minute trip. There is another way to get here, along Port Curtis Road and out to the river, but it is a bit further and takes nearly as long. I don’t think we’ll be able to camp here for long. It takes too long & too much diesel to come all this way (every day). We’ll spend this week looking for somewhere else a bit closer to town I think.
*******
We had a very pretty sight to wake up to this morn. Looking out over the water, the fog hid the opposite bank up around the bend. As Brad said, “It looks like we’re on a lake.” The other bank and the mountains in the distance behind looked like a big island in the centre.
******
It’s raining! For the first time in ages. It’s not going to last long though. The clouds came over & I had plenty of time to make sure everything was covered. I saw it coming over the mountain, and it was just rolling in lazily. It’s stoped now. I can see blue sky again, but there’s still some rain somewhere between here and the mts.
The crows are flying around again after making a big deal of roosting just before it hit. So maybe they know it’s already over.
The rain barely pocked the ground. I can see tiny wet splotches where the raindrops landed, but there’s still more dry ground than wet. My fire is still alight. It’s still raining, but it’s more like mist. The rain on the mountains looks like it’s heading towards town, and the band that came through here I can see retreating Westwards.
I was going to open the back & sit on the tailgate to watch it go, but as I opened the door a scud came through. It’s gone again now but I think I’ll just sit here in the nice dry car & have rest,, in case another one comes through.
******
There’s a pair of finches in the trees next to the car. No, they’re tiny little Honeyeaters. They’re flitting through the trees., one of them performing little aerobatic manoeuvres as he goes. When he lands, he flips upside down and hangs from the branch to eat from the little upside down flowers.
*******
When we came up here yesterday we kept seeing a pair of Whistling Kites circling our car. We were wondering if they were our mates from the last campsite (8km away). When we got here & were checking the place out, the kites kept us in view, circling down close to the car several times. Now, I know that these types of bird are very common in this area, but that’s not a very normal behaviour for them. Usually they’ll fly quite high, & there’s only one bird I know who comes so close…and more recently his mate (at the previous camp, Tina had gained the trust of a pair of kites. They would perch in the ironbarks quite close to the car).
I know that it’s not likely to be the same pair, but it’d be cool if it was. This morning though, while I was listening, his call sounded different. It could be because he’s in a new territory, but I doubt it. I might allow myself to fool myself though. I told Brad yesterday, “You realise that if they’re the same pair we’ll have to name them Gryphonn & Phoenix”. I kind of like that. So from now on that will be their names…whether they’re the same pair or not ๐Ÿ™‚ย  (yep, She drew a smiley face).
*******
The Wrens are in the grass, jumping from stalk to stalk as they check me out. The female was trying to attract my attention this morning, but I’ve only just spotted the male now. He’s beautifully decked out in his finest Black, his little Red vest shining as he puffs out his chest. His full breeding colours and his wifes behaviour this morning suggests they may have set up home somewhere nearby. I’ll have to have a look so we don’t disturb them.
*****
The coolest thing just happened. I took Jack (our dog) for a walk along the river. I was hoping to see some evidence of crabs amongst the mangroves, so that we would have some idea of where to drop the (crab) pot tonight, but I soon forgot about the crabs. I was looking down among the mangrove roots & saw a round, white object floating in the water, trapped. A frisbee! Bargain! “You score Jack”,I told Him. After I found a suitably long stick to retrieve it without wetting my boots, we took the frisbee up to the wide grassy flat just up from our camp. This is the cool part! I threw the frisbee a couple of times & I heard the kite calling. I looked up & he was just there above me, about 4 metres up. He just sort of hung there on the wind, adjusting his wings slightly now and then. His mate was flying lazy circles, much higher up. “Hello Gryphonn,” I said. “Want to play?” I held the frisbee up to show him & he looked at it. Then, when I threw it, he flew above Jack as he ran, then turned and came back when he did! I was spun out! So I did it again…and so did the bird. And he kept doing it, never diving on it or anything, just flying low above Jack … around 3 metres or so, racing him to the frisbee. He did it eight times – I counted. Pity Jack got tired. It was so cool! I’m sure he was playing. I even apologised for not having anything for him to eat. I told him to come back tomorrow & I’ll have somthing. I hope he does.

The Photos I promised

These pics are associated with my previous post.

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Things I See or Three Days of Solitude

Of course this is long! That’s why you could make coffee while the page loaded ๐Ÿ˜‰
I was trying to think of a catchy title, but all the ideas I had were a bit clichรฉ, or just plain weird. For example, ‘Visions of the Tropics’, or ‘My Eyefood’. Then I digresssed and this post became somewhat long and emotional.

Anyway, I’m sitting at Walker Bay beach in the car. I’ve got the pig cooking a fish and vegetable broth. The dogs are under the car, resting and chewing on bones after a run on the beach. It’s around 4pm.

A lone seabird flies North over a steel grey ocean. An approaching early Summer storm flashes and rumbles an ominous greeting. Sol has retreated behind rain filled clouds. The rain has started. Just a gentle drizzle, but although the temperature has cooled slightly, the humidity is wicked.
The pig protects the fire from the rain,so my fish and vegetable broth still simmers gently, aromas of reef fish, sweet potato, pumpkin and herbs waft into the car.

The sea has flattened. Perfectly formed small waves are rolling onto the shore. The lightning charged clouds have headed North West and the sun is almost breaking through.

As the sun sets, the wind and the seas calm further. It’s 6:40pm, but still light. The last rays of the sun are splashing pastel oranges and pinks on the clouds. The ocean is a mix of pinks and greys with shimmers of silver.

One in the morning and the clouds have cleared. The moon throws a sheen on a calm sea.

Dawn. Dead still.
The Sunbirds are serenading their mates. A lonely Cricket calls before daytime takes over.

A school of baitfish leap from the water, chased by some mystery pelagic looking for a feed.

This place is beautiful. I realise now though, that it makes me sad. I knew it as our home, but now it’s just another beach. I can’t keep away though. Too many memories, and that irrational thought that just maybe, I might wake and that horrible nightmare has ended, and she is here again.

In the morning (that’s Tuesday 13 December) I took Jack and Floyd for a long walk up the beach. I went for a swim in the shallows & tossed a stick for Jack. Floyd ran amok as usual. He loves playing with Jack & I on the beach. The Smithfield Cattle dog shows in him. He crouches low and eyes up his target, then starts to stalk and suddenly races toward his quarry! He doesn’t stop either. For a full two hours he ran backwards and forwards and up and down the beach, chasing wayward leaves, or a crab that was caught by surprise. He’s learning the stick thing too.

As we headed back to the camp, I was thinking how I hadn’t seen an eagle since I got back here early November. When we were both here, eagles would greet us wherever we went. It used to happen down South too. However, since Her funeral I hadn’t seen one. As I walked, I looked up from looking for shells and not 20 metres in front of us was an eagle on the beach harrassing a crab. It took flight and landed a little further down the beach and watched us. This time it waited until we were less than 10 metres away before it tok flight again and landed in a beach she-oak. There it stayed and watched as we continued down the beach. I saw it again, late this afternoon, cruising South over the camp to somewhere unknown.

I don’t know if I mentioned it in a previous post, but when I first came back here after Tinas funeral, I discovered that our Sunbird friends had nested at our old camp/home site.

I cooked up a hearty bean and vegetable soup this afternoon. I’ve actually been eating food almost regularly this past two days. Healthy food even. In town I was forgetting to eat, sometimes for a couple of days. I need to focus on my health more, so I don’t turn into an old man too early ๐Ÿ˜‰

After an emotional day (up and down like a yo-yo as usual), it’s 09:11pm (21:11) and I’m watching the most stunning lightning show. I just saw a freighter get struck in the channel 9 kilometres out to sea.

The wet season is nearly upon us now. Thunderstorms are common any time of day. Sudden driving rain momentarily cooling us a breeze and some rain, but in between storms the air becomes thick and still. Like a Swedish sauna. Crocodile free creeks are talked about in longing terms. An hours drive to a waterfall is well worth it this time of year. Air conditioners work overtime as locals escape the humidity and the sandflies that take over when the breeze drops.

10:50pm. (Tuesday) this lightning show is getting even more impressive. I think the Archer Point lighthouse just got struck. Three big strikes made water or vessels out on the ocean and right now I would nearly give my left leg for a good dslr! I’ve got a tripod, so I’m nearly set. ๐Ÿ™‚ The storms have been coming from the South West and look like they’ll go all night. I haven’t had much rain here, but I heard on the radio that Cooktown airport has had over 45mm today. The airport is about 20km inland from here. It looks like Cooktown itself may have copped a fair bit too.

Update 11:05pm. The most active part of this storm (that’s on land) is heading directly towards me. The wind has picked up significantly (it’s blowing). I was kind of hoping for a lightning strike on the beach, but considering how exposed this big hunk of metal is…I’m parked 20 metres off the beach next to a she-oak and not in our old protected site…I wonder what might happen ;).
Ah well, I’ll know within the hour. I’ve been watching the mountains to the South disappear in the downpour when the lightning makes the sky like daylight. The bulk of the rain is just coming over the hills on the Southern end of the bay. I’m roughly 5km from there. As the gusts increase, the cuttlefish bone I put on the roof earlier rocks. It sounds like a bird running on the roof ๐Ÿ™‚ .

11:20pm: I took the currlebone off the roof. The lightning is close enough now that I am avoiding contact with any metal on the car. Normally I would move under cover, but it’s too late to pack stuff up. I’ll just enjoy the show ๐Ÿ™‚
It’s 11:40pm, and this storm is just teasing me. The wind has dropped and there is a gentle breeze. The lightning is mainly moving of shore to the North. It’s still an excellent show though.

01:30am Wednesday 14 December

The show has moved North, so it is sleep for me.

Wednesdayย  11:40am

The Sou’ Easter has kicked in again with 20 knot winds. The sky is clear, with some cloud forming out West. This morning was dead calm and hot. It was over 30C at 9 this morning and the March/Marsh flies & sandflies were rank. Jack, Floyd and I escaped to the water to cool down a bit. The sea was still and clear, so I swam out a bit but Floyd followed me so I went back to the shallows. He gets all panicky and tries to climb on my head the little bugger ๐Ÿ™‚ . After our walk and swim, I sharpened my knives, machete & axe, and now I’m tossing up on another swim or a nanna nap…

…and the nanna nap won.
I went for a swim after my nap,then collected some firewood for an early dinner. I got the fire going and prepared some noodles *and* rice. The pantry supplies are shrinking (roll on Friday) and I don’t have enough water left to waste on damper, so it’s very basic tonight. As I was waiting on the noodles,I listened to the news on the radio. A couple of lads got stung by irikanji jellyfish today down near Cairns. Looks like oceanย  swimming is off the list for now. For those who don’t know, Irikanji are a small, about the size of the end of your little finger or a large pea. They also have long trailing tentacles which pack a wallop. The initial sting is barely noticeable,but around 15 minutes later the venom lets you know! Initial treatment is to douse the sting trails in vinegar, and if stung, a visit to the hospital is generally required. Yes, Irikanji stings can be fatal.
So, I reckon my next escape from town will be down near the Little Annan crossing. No stingers, no sharks and no crocs.
๐Ÿ™‚

I have added a few cloudscapes that entertained me on Wednesday arvo. The sun went mad with the light paint hey?

A friend popped down about 6:30 tonight. He’s heading South for Christmas in the next couple of days. I would jump a lift, but I have things I need to do in town, and a dear friend is leaving soon and I may not see her for a while. I have learnt more of the treasure we call family and friends over the past four months, and I care for this person more than I thought.ย  Maybe because I have seen the beauty inside her heart. I also think that my headspace has contributed to these feelings, so I’m not trusting my feelings too much at the moment,which confuses me even more! Anyway, Maddy has scored a job with a tour company out at Uluru! It’s official now so I can say it here ๐Ÿ˜‰
Her start date hasn’t been confirmed yet as far as I know,but it will be early new year she thinks.

Christmas in Rocky or Burrum Heads is looking doubtful at the moment because I can’t/won’t leave the dogs behind this time.
Besides, I am paying back some debts this week which will leave me pretty broke for the fortnight. I think between Christmas and New Year will be more realistic for me budget wise.
Christmas doesn’t feel good this year for me, but I’m going to miss my kids though ๐Ÿ˜ฆ .

8pm: Another brilliant lightning show off the coast tonight. The freighters are copping it in the channel again.

You know how I wrote about me feeling that this is now just another beach? Well, I retract that. This beach is so much more than that. This was our home because we thought it was a beautiful place. It still is, and it always will be ‘our’ home. It’s taken three days to let it all soak back into my soul and it feels good.

8:20pm: Well that was a surprise. I’ve been watching the storm out over the ocean and a real nice lightning storm has snuck up behind me. Very slow and menacing ๐Ÿ™‚ One close strike just lit up the beach and dunes,and the wind has changed direction. I’ve put the lid on the fire pig and put my dry wood under the car. This is right over me. Barely a breeze, but super impressive lightning and thunder ๐Ÿ™‚ . It’s dead quiet except for the waves and ominous rumblings in the sky…
08:30pm
…the humidity has just shot through the roof. Thunder rumbles distantly from that storm in the ocean, challenging the one above me to a contest of electrical brilliance. So far,my storm has stayed silent, no doubt building up something impressive.
My storm responds with three, then four strikes, and follows up with two more a minute later.

The sea is very calm, as is the air. Surprising really. With this much activity, I expected big rain and a lot of wind. But then,I’m used to Southern Summer storms. These pre-monsoon things are like a warning. But sometines they do dump a deluge. Official figures for Cooktown were 47mm at the airport yesterday. It’s also a time to be very,very wary of crocodiles. This sort of weather is the mating trigger. Males and females get very aggressive and territorial this time of year. No time to be creeping around river banks and swamps.

It’s nearly 9pm and my storm is firing at about a strike every 5 seconds or so on average. They’re close enough that I can feel the thunder ๐Ÿ™‚
It is getting more intense as it heads over the coast and out to sea. Now the breeze is picking up, easing the oppressive humidity.ย  The ocean is still gentle, caressing rather than slapping the sand as the small waves roll down the beach.
My storm just roared. The thunder rolled out to sea for over thirty seconds!

My storm has stretched out over the sea in much the same position as those clouds in the south facing pics below. It’s reached out to envelop the small storm and has been celebrating its success with a huge flash along the coast just south of me.

In the distance I can hear wind blowing through the she-oaks, getting closer. The sound of heavy rain on the water maybe?
After a short lull,the light show has re-intensified, the sea is keeping up its steady, gentle rythmn on the beach.

My storm has continued out across the ocean and our reef, all the while showing off its electrical energy. The clouds are breaking here on the coast, and stars are beginning to show. The Southern Cross should rise soon,as will the moon. Clouds have blocked the moon nearly every night since the lunar eclipse.

How do I describe this moon when my camera can’t?
A blood red half moon, with a few thin slivers of cloud slicing through it, looking like Jupiter.
I wish I could show you the view I have. The Moon has gone orange and is casting a golden shimmer over an almost glasslike sea.
A Dolphin shaped cloud is now leaping across the moons face.

At around 11:00pm, four friends turned up with an esky full of beer and JB bourbons. The consensus was that seeing it was my last night out here for a while, they should help me enjoy it! ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, the night was long! We had to build a few smudges around the camp to keep the mozzies at bay due to it being a very gentle Westerly breeze, which brings the biteys out of the bush.
As the night wore on it became very calm, just after dawn, the sea ‘glassed out’. On parts of the horizon, the glass sea merged seamlessly with the sky. Photos below.
A few of us went for a swim. It was low tide, so the water was only waste deep fifty metres out. Plus, the water was so still and clear that nothing suspect could be missed. We just lay in the water and enjoyed the start of a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚ . One of the girls was watching us from the beach and said that it looked like we were floating above the water due to the glass out. Also a testament to how clear the water was, because she was standing at least 50 metres away from us. Stunning stuff ๐Ÿ™‚

The weather began to blow from the South East around 11 in the morning. I chose to err on the side of caution and stay one more night. I did imbibe quite a bit last night ๐Ÿ˜‰ and don’t need or want a DUI conviction. Besides, it’s quieter out here and easier to sleep.

Well, that’s three/four days of my life on the Interwebz once again. If you got this far without getting too bored, I thank you.

It’s just after 10pm on Thursday nightย  (15 December) and I’m waiting for the moonrise once again. Tomorrow will be a busy day with paperwork to fill out and stuff. Thanks again for reading ๐Ÿ™‚
I will only post a couple of pics here. My next post will be all photos from the three days ๐Ÿ™‚ .

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Hillbilly Bluegrass, Blues and some Country at The Lions Den Hotel

Dammit! I should have taken more photos. My weekend has been bloody great!

After our Friday at the bowls club, Maddy had to work & Jazz had an appointment, but we took time out for a drink at the Sovereign, as you do in the tropics. After Maddy & Jazz left, I hung at the pub with Marie & downed a few pints of Guinness. At around four, Katrina, owner/manager of the Hillcrest accommodation house, called & arranged to pick me up to have a look at the place I’ll be caretaking. I’ll post photos when I move in next week. Suffice to say, it’s beautiful!

Later on Friday night, we did silly things at home, then wandered up to the Top Pub to watch the band. ‘The Barefoot Belles’ were playing and as the crowd warmed up, the place just rocked! We poured ourselves home about 3am, then woke at 9 and started getting organised to head to the Lions Den Hotel to see Bill Chambers, The Hillbilly Goats and The Roadtrippers play on Saturday night.
McGee and I headed out about 3pm & set up a camp out the back of the Lions Den, down near the creek. Later in the arvo Maddy rocked up, then Benny, and later, after he’d finished the pool comp, Dragon scored a lift out.
We all had a most excellent night! There would have been easily a hundred and fifty people turned up. At one stage Maddy & I were jigging around in the rain out the front of the pub under the giant mango trees to some excellent roots & bluegrass, courtesy of The Hillbilly Goats.
Later on The Roadtrippers & Bill Chambers rocked the night away. Oh, and someone got a chook stuck on their head ๐Ÿ™‚

Sometime around 3, we headed down to the creek and sat around a small campfire. Then we went swimming. The water was flowing and was absolutely beautiful.
We all watched a glorious sunrise, then some of us crashed until about 1pm. Poor Maddy had to work around 4, so we all hugged and said ciao for now as she headed back to Cooktown.
I found the frisbee and we spun that around for an hour. Jack the dog was completely stuffed after an hour of running around. So stuffed that he didn’t want to go for another swim. Floyd wasn’t much better ๐Ÿ™‚
I met a bunch of good people over the weekend and will definitely be spending more time at the Lion’s Den.

We had planned to head home Sunday arvo, but one thing led to another and we ended up having dinner at the Den,a few games of pool and stayed another night.

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Back to Home – Walker Bay

I went back home on Monday afternoon and stayed for the night.

Yesterday (the 20th) marked 31 days since my rock, my baby, my inspiration, my lover, and my best friend became one of the many who lost their life to a potentially curable brain cancer. She was a sister, a niece, a grandmother, an auntie, a friend, a mother, and a ‘stepmum’ to many. She touched the hearts of, and inspired scores of people.
A lot of you may not know, but on the night of her funeral, a whole bunch of people went to the wharf in Cooktown to fare her well. I love these people.

I talked with Tina through the night when I went home to Walker Bay. I told her how much I love her, miss her and wish so much that I could hold her one more time. I talked about many things. I also cried. A lot.

I also talked about a friend.
Besides my trip to Laura driving the bus, I had been somewhat reclusive. To the point where I think I’ve watched 20 or more DVDs that I haven’t seen previously. Now, my dear friend Dragon has tried to entice me to the pub more than once to get me out of the house. I did go up once. But I don’t do pubs with blokes easily. Too much testosterone for me. I prefer female company. I always have. Most of my younger years were spent with my mum and 2 sisters. Dad worked away most of the time. There were other issues that only a few people know that makes me feel more comfortable around women than men. Or more trusting?ย  It’s deep.

Anyway, this friend. She has unknowingly helped me get out of the house. Certain factors have led to her not coming to the lair. While she was coming around I was enjoying talking with her. She’s one of my back waxing friends. Anyway, I’ve been getting out ever since the back wax, and have been spending some time out with her. No, not like that, like mates. But, she (sorry, won’t say her name) has shown me something special. She just knows that to be there is all it takes. I would still be in the house, surrounded by four walls & not here at the beach if not for her.

No. She isn’t here. It’s just me and the dogs.
What I wanted to write was, ‘M’, thankyou for being a friend. You have a beautiful soul. As I said before, your smile and your company lifts me.
But nothing suss :). She is my mate!
Of course, If I was 20 years younger and circumstances were different, I’d chase her all over town until she had me charged with stalking ๐Ÿ˜‰

Seriously though, I hope she realises how important her friendship is to me.

20 Days

(9-11-2011) Twenty days and I haven’t done much. Friends took me out on Saturday night, but I’ve barely left the house other than to buy beer or rent DVDs.
One thing I did do is look through her art.
I’ll take some photos and post them below.
Most of you know that Floyd our pup got run over by a Jeep Cherokee on Sunday. He was sleeping under the car when it was moved. We’re guessing his front legs and chest got run over. I was asleep when it happened. Dragon had to blow air into his lungs to reinflate them. For the first 36 hours it was touch and go. Floyd couldn’t lie down without help and his chest was that sore that we couldn’t pick him up. After 48 hours he started to improve a bit. By Wednesday he was well enough that I could carry him. The vet was in town so I took him across the road for a check up. The vet checked him over and recommended an x-ray as he was concerned about a diaphragmatic hernia. Apparently it is common in these type of injuries. Anyway, I left the vet $70 poorer, but Floyd is vaccinated and wormed. Actually, I’m not poorer. My mate who ran him over insisted on paying for any expenses. It’s now Thursday (22 days?) and Floyd has his pep back, but he is still sore in the belly. Hopefully he hasn’t got a hernia because I can’t afford to take him to Mossman or Cairns, let alone pay for x-rays etc as well. I’m not going to burden my friend with potentially thousands in vet bills either.

What have I been doing besides losing sleep? Oh, that’s because Dragon and I took it in shifts to stay awake with Floyd for four days. Well, mainly i’ve been watching DVDs and cooking food. I have cut back to about 3 Sparkling Ales a day which is good. My sleep patterns are all over the shop too. I slept between 2pm and 5pm today. I keep making grand plans to go outside and see people, or tidy up the car, but I just can’t get motivated & I refuse to climb out of my comfort zone at the moment. I am acutely aware of how fragile my emotions are and I just can’t see friends I haven’t visited as yet. Especially those I used to work with. Sometimes I wonder if the next time I fall apart, will I be able to get back up.
I can see the signs of reactive depression emerging already; insomnia, then when you do sleep you don’t want to get out of bed when you wake, no interest in thing that I would normally find fun, and no motivation to do fuck all.
I know it’s happening and I’ll keep it under control without chemical big pharma anti-depressants.
One of my daughters told me, when I was in Rockhampton, that she felt like she was just waiting for mum to turn up. She just couldn’t allow herself to deal with her not coming back. I catch myself sometimes. I’ll think of something and for a split second will remember to tell my baby about it. That hurts.
I didn’t take those pics of her art. Next time.