Time For A Yarn By The Fire

The billy is on. Pull up a stump and take a load off ya feet. It’s been as slow as a wet week these past few days and I feel like chewing the fat for a while. If you want, I’ll translate that last sentence from Australian to English for you.
‘I’m boiling a pot water for a cup of tea. Find a chair and have a rest, because the past couple of days have dragged on and I would like to talk with you for a while.’

Went back to work on Tuesday after four days off (but broke) and my baby has been crook most of the time. Her neck is giving her bad headaches and making her feel sick…like throwing up sick.
I took today (Thursday) off to stay with her. Poor Tina has been in some pretty bad pain since this morning. We have no pain killing drugs until we go to town tomorrow. She is sleeping now though.
The weather has been typical dry season here. The sou’ east and easterly winds generally blow from  the end of May through to October/November. The winds on the coast get up to 30 knots or more, with an average of 15 knots through those months. Come November, the winds will ease and the temperatures will rise. The humidity will remain as usual, in the high eighty and ninety percent range. It will be tropical. Then the rains will come. Monsoonal torrents will soak the Far North for the better part of six months, isolating towns and properties as The Wet revitalises the landscape.  At the moment we’re lucky to be getting the odd coastal shower to keep the coconuts, our baby tomatoes, Paw-Paws (papaya), passionfruit and chilli bushes thriving.
Yes, we are cultivating.
This may be a sign of our evolving from a nomadic lifestyle to that of a combined hunter/gatherer farmer. But probably not. What will be nice is the thought that in five years or so, someone will turn up here and there will be ‘wild’ paw paw and passionfruit growing next to the coconuts. Maybe future visitors will plant more seeds, or help by replanting seed from the fruits they eat.  We’re planning on growing some fast greens like Bok Choy or Rocket. I’ve also got to catch up with Willie Gordon and ask him about local greens and fruits that are around here. I would prefer to cultivate local native foods than exotics.
We discovered a Mango tree at the Southern end of the beach last  week too. If wasn’t for the profusion of flowers on it, we may have completely missed it. It is well back in the scrubland, about 100 metres from the high tide mark. The tree is surrounded by Wattle, some She-Oak, and other native species that grow in the old, mulch rich former dune zone. Come November it should be laden with juicy, pink/green skinned, orange centred fruits of wonderfullness. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it yet, so I’ll tell you anyway. A few weeks back, a bloke roughly our age, and his presumably youngest boy of about four, came into the camp to say hello. It transpired that this very cool gentleman once had a shack on the beach back in the late eighties to nineties, and planted the majority of the Coconuts that thrive around here. Not only was this a cool bit of local history to have learnt, but it also gave us an idea of how old the local palms are.
We’ve been boiling the billy on the pig a lot. 4:20 is usually the best time for tea and we’ve had a bit lately. 😉
Coffee too. Oh, and we have been cooking bigger and better meals on the pig with one frypan and a big pot. Cheaper than the meals in the previous post. I might relate some recipes in future posts because they are “To die for darlings!”
You might be wondering how we can grow food in sand country near the beach. Well, we found an old scrub turkey nest. Basically a 4 metre by 6 metre mound of well rotted leaf, branch, root and other organic debris. All mixed with some sand to enhance drainage and composted by a dedicated bird a few years back. We collect this from in the bush and use it straight as a potting mix. It’s bloody brilliant stuff. I’ll show you some photos later.
I wanted to tell you a few little snippets of trivia that have been flitting around my head of late. That’s why I boiled the billy in the first place.
Actually, some of it isn’t mere trivia. One factoid is actually a sobering thought for some depression sufferers.

Consider this. Recents studies have shown that sufferers of depression who treat themselves with some thing or method other than prescription anti-deppressants, have a 25% chance of relapsing after ceasing treatment. However, those studied who used chemical anti-deppressants had a 42% relapse rate after ceasing treatment.

I’ve been picking up little bits of information at night when I’m not sleeping. Late night ABC Radio from about 10pm when Tony Delroy has ‘Nightlife’, through to Trevor Chappell at 1am onwards is 3 to 6 hours of brain food.
For example. Stephen Spielberg had a lecturer at uni when he was studying  drama and art. The lecturer’s name was Alan…Anakin. No, I kid you not. Darth Vaders real name Anakin, was Stephens lecturers name.

Peter Wier(sp?) first movie was ‘The Cars That Ate Paris’. You really should check this masterpiece of early Australian  cinema and classic sci-fi. Apparently this movie is widely regarded amongst sci-fi afficionados as a hallmark movie of its genre.

Another presumably tax payer funded study has found that the worlds happiest places to live, also rate in the places with the highest rates of suicide. Eg, Hawaii at number 2 happiest place has the worlds 5th highest suicide rate.

Here’s something that maybe one of you dear readers might find interesting. This a mash up of Captain Cook trivia that I knew as well as some stuff I didn’t know that I heard today when Dr Karl was on the ABC Local Radio.
Cooks ship, the Endeavour, was an ex Coal haulier that once carried loads of the stuff around Great Britain. The bark was renowned for its sturdiness in the wild North Sea. What I learnt was that James Cook chose that particular ship because of its robust reputation. He also picked this ship because of its size. The Endeavour wasn’t so much long as it was wide and spacious. The good Captain knew that the ex coal hauler could easily accommodate food, including livestock, to keep 90 odd men alive for three years.

More on the Endeavour. The United States Space Shuttle Endeavour is named after Captain Cooks vessel. You see, the Endeavour made many journeys in what may as well have been outrr space in her day. Also, one of Cook and the Endeavours primary tasks was to plot the path of Venus for some mathematical equation that would make Gt Britain superior in navigating the oceans or somesuch. Anyway. On her final flight, the shuttle crew spoke to the crew of the Endeavour replica ship that is currently circumnavigating Australia. The echange happened as the shuttle came in over Australia and the Great Barrier Reef.
The shuttle took 8 minutes to cross the Australian continent from the far South West through to the North Eastern tip where the HMB Endeavour replica was located. The same journey will take the ship til next year some time.
Another Endeavour related piece of news. I promise it to be the last in this post. A few posts back I mentioned that the Endeavour replica did come to Cooktown. But the harbour was too shallow for her to moor at the wharf. Plus, the weather was too rough where she had to anchor for the crew to put ashore.
As an indirect result of that circumstance, the government has committed a few million to the Cook Shire (I think) so that the harbour can be deepened. Of course, this will allow the larger cruise ships to berth at the wharf as well. This will enhance tourism, but geeze it’s gunna piss the local fishermen off! Dredging fouls the water for months. It takes a good ‘Wet’ to flush the detritus stirred up by the process. Then the big ships block off the fishing spots on the wharf!

Ok then. What else has happened of note?
I saw a very large Brown snake this afternoon. Jack the Dog and I were heading to the beach and this snake crossed the track roughly ten metres in front of us. My conservative estimate put this big Brown at 1.6 metres long and 2.5 to 3 cm in diameter at its thickest. That’s about 5’6″ and 1 to 1&1/4 inches respectively in imperial scale.
We’ll need to stay aware of snakes here. That’s the third snake I’ve seen around here. So far it’s one Taipan, one Brown, and what I think was a Red Bellied Black snake.
Snake trivia time. The Red bellied Blake snake is as its name describes it. Jet Black, wirh an almost Scarlet underbelly. But it is actually a member of the Brown snake family. The three snakes I have mentioned above are in the top five deadliest snakes in Australia. Now, normally this wouldn’t concern me. Snakes generally avoids humans. We’re instinctively dangerous to them, so they stay away. But they also love rodents.
The rodents love where humans live.
Conflict of interest methinks.
We are controlling unwanted rodents though. Jack the Dog has caught and killed at least four. We’ve drowned three in traps and I’ve caught two by hand. Oh, if someone ever tells you they killed a ‘Yellow- bellied Black snake’, explain to them gently that they just killed a green tree snake. The Northern from of the common Green Tree snake has a very dark back. It’s almost Black. The underside is Yellow. The southern form has a much lighter Green back. They’re also more commonly seen on fences, low tree branches, or in your rafters. If you disturb them when they are on the ground, they tend to flatten their necks to appear bigger than they are. Green Tree snakes are usually quite slender snakes, growing to 3 metres (in our experiences). They are harmless to humans, so please don’t kill them. One last thing about venomous snakes. Don’t rely solely on colour to identify a snake. I have seen Brown snakes, the venomous type, ranging from a dark brown through to fawn. I’ve also seen a brown snake in the wild that was orange. To add to the confusion, I’ve seen photos in snake field guides showing juvenile browns with banding patterns. So I guess if you want to be sure, avoid or at least don’t purposely upset a ground dwelling snake. Chances are around here is that it is venomous. The only pythons I’ve seen are couple of Black-headed Rock Pythons, dead on the highway at the southern entrance to town.
You’d think that we’d be trekking through the local scrub with our hiking boots, thick socks, spats and denim jeans on after the above stories. But no. We still get around in shorts and thongs. We’re just more aware of our surroundings when we do.

(Friday): I’m going to set up a bucket trap for tonight to catch some rodents. Tina was sick still today, so I let her sleep and stayed home again. I have to go to town this afternoon and see the boss. We can’t phone from here because we have no reception. I also need to get the pain meds from the chemist for my Baby.
We’ve had some fairly good rain overnight too. The temps have stayed in the 20’s from my estimate. That’s the poroblem with no reception. No weather reports except for the radio. I need a rain gauge and a thermometer!

Back from town.
I couldn’t find the boss, but I did get groceries. Just the basics. SR flour, sugar, powdered milk, oats, peanut butter and some bread & butter. Bought some discounted garlic steak and turned it into a stew with onion, spud, tomato and some spices. Simmered over the pig for an hour or so until the beef softens.

Tina is still basically bedridden. We didn’t go into town today. I started the table work and did some gardening. We did manage a short beach walk, but that made Tinas neck worse.
I’ll have to go to town tomorrow. For nothing else but to see if I still have a job.
Saturday evening. The fire is going. It’s a clear, cool evening. The sea breeze is finding its way through the scrub, giving the wind chimes an excuse to sing. The crickets have started their nightly ritual, trying to find a mate. The ocean is kissing the beach. The moon is almost directly overhead and almost half full. It is casting a nice glow across the ground and on the trees.
Tina has been asleep most of the afternoon. I hope her neck eased a bit for her. In the past three days I realised how lonely it would be here without her. She has slept on and off when she could. But only half hour or hourly. Each time she rolls, the pain wakes her up. As a result, conversation and interaction with her has been fleeting, even though we’re less than a metre apart most of the time.

Righto, that’s enough. Sometimes I can talk underwater with an apple in me mouth.
Photo time!

For your viewing pleasure:

The billy on the boil.
Jack the bodysurfing Dog.
Jack wants to go to the beach.
The baby Tomatoes.
The beginnings of our new table.
The Bamboo is seasoning well.
The back of our pig pen.
The front, with our wood drying fire.
We need firewood.
Late afternoon. Vegie patch at centre, with our ‘Guest House’ in the background. Jack and the pig on the right.



We Are Geeks Therefore We Shall Google Maybe

Let me tell you. I am in a bit of a quandary.
(Hind sight insert) Oh, and let me also warn you of the plethora of photos at the end of this post.

We have our Bamboo. We have lots of it, and we’ve been experimenting with things. In particular, we’ve created an instrument for one of our daughters. I even lashed out for a saw. A Hacksaw to cut the bamboo easier.
Now, let me lead you to the reason for titling this post as I have.
Both Tina and I are Interweb Geeks. We both know how to effectively use a search engine. Crickey! I’ve been using search engines since before Google was born. I can clearly remember when Google really WAS your friend. Ad free and promising not to cache your searches.
Anyway, getting back to Bamboo for a bit. I bought the hacksaw. It was cheap. I even bought an 18 tooth blade to go with the 24 tooth that came with it.
Hacksaw blades over here are measured in teeth per 25mm. Which is about the same as teeth per inch. I reasoned that a slightly ‘rougher’ blade might work better. Why? Because both The Legend of the North and his cohort in Legendarianism, ‘The Lad’, had suggested that I just buy a ‘proper’ saw. They warned me that a hacksaw would take ages to cut through the thick stuff. But, I bought a hacksaw. And it works well. For the thin stuff. Of course, to successfully cut bamboo, you need to cut slightly into the opposite side of the tube from where you make your main cut. It’s like ply or laminate sort of. Even though bamboo is round, it has a waste side that can rip and fray as you cut through the bark. To prevent it, make a saw cut on the opposite side of the tube first.
Why haven’t we Googled this stuff yet? I mean I’m a sceptic. I was taught many stories and skills over the years, but always got second opinions. The Internet was my encyclopedia once I learnt how to use it properly. But I didn’t. I relied on my skills. Stuff that has been festering in the far corners of my brain. Just waiting for a chance to have conscious fame for 15 second. But. I was wrong on the saw in part.
So, let me advise you now. A hacksaw is perfect for bamboo up to 30 to 40 mm in diameter. After that, I recommend a good quality, sharp wood saw, with wide teeth. Of course I need to Google that to confirm, but that’s what I reckon 😉 But then, The Legend of the North and The Lad did warn me.

So. I am creating a couple of instruments for one of our kids. I had  a ‘Moment’ earlier this week. Just for fun I made this thing. I can’t tell you what it is lest the daughter read this post. But she’s clever. She’ll work it out anyway.
I made this thing for fun. It didn’t work. So I experimented with a little fire to harden things up. Now, I can barely play a Blues Harp, let alone a guitar. But Tina is not only artistic, but musical too. So she tested my prototype. It made *music*.
I have rarely had moments in my life where something I’ve created by hand has reduced me to tears. But when this ‘piece of wood’ was coaxed into making a sound, I cried.
I know it sounds trivial. But one of those other special things that were partially created by my hand (and made me cry) will be the recipient of this gift. And I know that she will be able to create music (if she wishes to) from what I’m creating.
It’s trippy. We’ve created three working instruments based on Tinas knowledge, my woodwork and a little mathematics to tune them. We’re learning to tune bamboo wind chimes by listeming to the prototypes we’ve made already.
It’s weird. I’ve thought about Googling for ideas. Especially when it comes to tuning wind chimes. But I know the basics of tuning. You know. Length. Diameter. Where the striker hits the chime. So I’ve just played. And I’m proud to say say some of my chimes just sing. Others need minor mods and they’ll sing too. It’s like Tinas shell mobiles. Some are designed to move in the wind silently. Others are made to connect, make contact and sing as well. The delicate sound of shells kissing is almost like sea, but far gentler.
Googling is good. But remembering stuff you’d forgotten you knew is a far richer experience.
We are sooo happy 🙂

Random pics follow, including one of the HMB Endeavour replica moored at the leads to Cooktown harbour. She was to deep drafted to navigate the channel into the wharf. She also left a day early, due to the 20 knot South Easters blowing strsight into her bow out there. Apperently the crew had a reall rough night on Friday. The decision was made to depart Saturday morning, rather than Sunday. I don’t blame them either. A 2 metre swell would be rough on that old coal carter, let alone having to cater to the wind. Oh, and we scored a tree ripened Red Paw Paw from the markets. We’re going to sprout the seeds. The ONLY way to eat Paw Paw (Papaya) is tree ripened. Otherwise they just taste bitter and you have to add sugar or honey to re-sweeten it. The best standard Paw Paws I ever ate were grown at ‘Top Garden’ in Cedar Bay in the  early Eighties. The trees were on average five metres tall, with large, bulbous fruit. We didn’t have a problem with flying fox. They may have claimed one or two per tree. The rest were ours, picked yellow with a net on the end of a pole. The sweetest things you’ve ever tasted.
If you have an idea, or a link to something unique bamboo wise, or even some advice we could use, comment or tweet us @UnclechilliMan or @OneGreenBusy

Now, enjoy the pics.


Today’s ReTweets

Green news…

CO2 Solution and Codexis strike carbon-capture research deal with power-equipment giant Alstom SA… http://www.alternate-energy-blog.info/?p=1898&asid=48dcb2d0

China’s renewable-energy capacity to reach 500 gigawatts by 2020… http://www.alternate-energy-blog.info/?p=1897&asid=48dcb2d0

Up and coming filmmakers challenged themselves to lend a creative perspective to Ecomagination. Amazing videos!… http://www.youtube.com/user/ecomagination

Flexible Solar “Power Plastic” Hits New Efficiency High… http://www.ecogeek.org/solar-power/3367-flexible-solar-qpower-plasticq-hits-new-efficiency?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+EcoGeek+%28EcoGeek%29&utm_content=Twitter

China Blows Past US in Wind Power… http://www.earthtechling.com/2010/12/china-blows-past-u-s-in-wind-power/

Compass: Quitting Oil, One Day at a Time… http://sierraclub.typepad.com/compass/2010/12/quit-oil-part-2.html


Cool Technology…

BIG’s Green-Roofed School Blends Into the Environment… http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/7lJRxh/inhabitat.com/bigs-angular-green-roofed-school-blends-into-the-environment//r:t

Are mobile phones the next life-saving medical device?… http://blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blogs/news/chiefeditor/2010/12/mobile-phones-as-medical-imaging-tool.html?source=link_tw20101206ngnw-phone

How would you like to create a generator which creates free electric power? Here’s how… http://www.magniwork.com/?hop=bodovan



From admrich… “The WikiLeaks fuss makes 1 pause 2 reflect Voltaire’s quote “I disapprove of whatyou say, but i’ll defend to the death your right to say it””

From SubMedina… “If Assange was in China doing the same thing, the West would have called him a dissident and given him a Nobel prize”

From GreenBiz_Pro… “In one year in the United States, the recycling of steel saves enough energy to heat and light 18,000,000 homes!”


And a shameless plug for WordPress…

By londonwordpress… “I think everyone should use wordpress!! It’s way better than tumblr!!”


Today’s ReTweets

Yep… we’re now tweeting. So, I thought it apt to show you a few of the stories that I thought were worthy of retweeting today. This new catagory will become a regular part of the blog… I hope you enjoy.

Green News…

The one below just made me very angry. Seriously… are there still people like this out there? What a scary world.

And this one just because I love the quote. It comes from the internet sensation, Cee Lo Green “I’m wild and loose, a basket of strange fruit”

Thanks for the smile Cee Lo.

Re: Ravenshoe wind farm (by GOF)

There’s a brilliant discussion on wind farms happening over at GOF’s blog. I wanted to pass on some of that great discussion here, but I couldn’t do any better a job than GOF has at this point… so I’ve decided to just link to his post. Please take a look if you haven’t already… there’s some cool stuff there.

100% Renewable Energy Within 10 Years… Is It Possible?

Please have a read of this article, follow some of the links to other discussions and then come back and tell me what you think…


The report, entitled Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan, “outlines a technically feasible and economically attractive way for Australia to transition to 100 percent renewable energy within ten years.” The plan specifies that the 100 percent renewable grid be “based on proven technologies that are already commercially available and that have already been demonstrated in large industries.”

Read more: http://www.greenbiz.com/news/2010/08/24/plan-seeks-100-pct-renewable-energy-australia-ten-years#ixzz13yl4xwuV


Artificial Reefs For Moreton Bay


I read this article about the artificial reefs that are being sunk in the Morton Bay area. Many of the traditional breeding grounds in the area have been declared green zones to allow for fish stocks to rebuild. A great idea, really… but it makes it harder on Everyday Joe, who just wants to head out in his tinnie and catch a nice reef fish for dinner.

These artificial reefs are a good example of common sense being used to ensure that recreational fisher-people don’t lose out on the whole deal. The reefs are sunk in areas that are not naturally suitable to fish breeding due to the lack of hiding places for fingerlings. The ‘reefs’ are designed with this in mind… and with the hope that the fish they encourage into the area will end up on the plates of Mum and Dad fisher-people, like us.

It’s good to see that with a little thought, we can find a solution that will suit all involved. It’s a great idea, in my eyes.

Sustainable Stuff

Here’s another cool article… this one is a photo gallery, containing heaps of sustainable ideas, businesses and products. Perhaps I should be contacting these companies in regard to sponsorships.

The bamboo laptop looks very inviting at the moment… and I love the ‘eco-bubble’ housing… cool stuff.