Festive Season Mayhem

Well, I survived the festive season …. just.  It was was a hectic time with onslaught followed by disaster, calamity and catastrophe, and yet interspersed by timely events and good fortune.

First the onslaught.  That was the arrival of my daughter Josie, husband Kairne, and children Huon and Evie.  This was all good though it upended my bachelor squalour and tranquility.  I went to great lengths (mopping the floor and a couple of other things) to scrub the place up to avoid reproving looks from my daughter but she saw right through me with “you’ve just done this haven’t you?”.  Can’t fool her for a moment.  My other grandkids, Henry and Philp, who live just down the road, 15 km, came over for quality time with their cousins and got along really well.  They devised and executed a plan to cut a track down from my house to the nearest creek.  About 150m through the rainforest.  They were armed with two machetes I had made for Henry and Philip and a tree lopper for the boys.  Evie followed behind marking the tack with coloured ribbons.  It was so good for them with excitement, adventure and accomplishment to hack their way through rainforest.  I was pressed into service to create a sign “Blue Walk”, which I routed into a board which they painted.  They were so proud of their achievements, they invited the guests from both cottages for a grand opening ceremony.  From such events are childhood memories made.

Then disaster.  At the height of summer and the Xmas rounds of feasting, my guests at Maple Cottage reported the fridge wasn’t working wee enough, though the freezer compartment was doing OK..  I was surprised because it wasn’t more than two months old.  I gently inquired if the door had been open a lot and was assured by the person I was speaking to that it hadn’t.  I resolved to buy a new one ASAP, but there were 4 holiday days in a row.  As soon as the shops opened, I got a new bigger, and I hope a better one.  But too late for some of their food.  Due to major systems failure, I offered them a free stay.  There was no point in trying to get the 2 month old fridge fixed under warranty, as it was unlikely a techie would get to look at it before the middle of January at best.  So I put it on me veranda to test.  After a few hours cooling, the fridge temp was down to 2C using my best thermometer.  Just as promised on the dial setting.  My best guess is that the Chinese manufacturers had failed to build in enough spare capacity to deal with Xmas in tropical Australia, and my guests had failed to correctly estimate the time the doors were actually open.  There were 2 families with 12 people and a bunch of teenagers who are notorious for opening the fridge door and just staring, hoping to chance on some tasty morsel.  Oh well, I now have a spare fridge.

Next was the calamity.  My next guests at Maple, on a wet and windy night had the power go off.  A large tree with many branches had fallen onto the kitchen roof and brought down the transmission wires.  Of course it was late at night in wild and windy weather, so nothing could be done until morning.  The damn tree, although standing on a steep slope had managed to fall uphill and two of it’s branches had crushed part of the roof, leaving it hung up on the roof at an angle of 60 degrees.  Probably just as well it was close to the cottage, so it didn’t get up much speed before hitting the cottage.  Otherwise if could have crushed half the cottage.  There was no point trying to restore power without first removing the tree.  It is dangerous to cut branches overhead and suicidal reaching up with a chainsaw.  The safe answer is having a cherry picker to get over the top and have the timber fall below.  I don’t have a cherry picker.  It’s Xmas and a week at least before I could hire one.  But I do have a pole saw with a 5m reach.  the manufacturers generously add the operator’s imagined height to the extension of their machine to arrive at a figure for ‘reach’.   I toiled from 7am until 2pm to get the tree off the roof onto the ground.  Then I could tackle reconnecting the transmission wires, which involved much climbing up and down of ladders and some scrub cutting of every thorny plant to ever invade Possum Valley.  Oh, and a few stinging trees just for variety.  I got the power on after about a 24 hour interruption.  Of course, due to my policy of free stay for major service failure, the guests were offered a free stay.  I was knackered.  One of the hardest days for a long time.  I ached everywhere.  I thought I would be paralyzed by stiffness the next morning, but I was surprisingly mobile.

Whilst still licking wounds, came catastrophe.  Early morning lightening woke me up in the dark to ponder if I should rush round disconnecting parts of the electrical equipment to save it blowing up.  Though I could see the lightening with my eyes closed, I decided from the sound that it was cloud to cloud lightening.  Long rolling thunder for cloud lightening, and abrupt cannon fire for ground strikes.  So I went back to sleep.  Problems in the morning with no output from the hydro.  I quickly did tests for the transmission to determine the problem was the generator was not producing any power.  I’m fucked and suspecting fatal short in the generator coil windings.  Enter stage right, a long time guest and friend who happens to be a techie for BOM and arrives that morning.  Always willing to help, Martin spends the next two days with me to track down the failure and determine the problem is a bridge rectifier .  We are mislead by trying to substitute another rectifier which is also a dud.  We finally patch in a component pillaged from defunct equipment that looks nothing like the part it replaces ….. but it works!  Always include a techie in your circle of friends.  Thank you Martin.

We have volts!

Simultaneous with this was the possum wars.  Techie friend’s wife had a problem with possums living in the roof and decided to evict them, perhaps for hygiene related problems, but being a sensitive person, couldn’t bear the thought of them evicted and homeless.  So alternative accommodation had to be built and affixed to the cottage.  This was more in my field of expertise, that is turning junk into something useful, so I proposed an old sheet of corrugated iron could be used as a durable home.  This was met with considerable skepticism until I demonstrated the details of rolling it up, putting a wooden floor inside and closing the ends with a hole for access and these log-like comfy homes mounted under the eves.  I left them with chicken wire ladders and tools to block up the possum holes to the roof after they had vacated at night.  This was the start of my guests learning experience about how strong, clever and persistent possums can be.  Perhaps I should have briefed them about how difficult it is to keep possums out from my 45 years of experience, but there is nothing like learning on the job.  3 days and nights of hammering and banging I think has excluded them from the roof space, but despite enticements of banana in the new luxury apartments which were eaten, I don’t think they have moved in.

I have recently had other invasions by persistent creatures, namely grandsons.  They are so active in disrupting my normally sedate existence.  They want to do stuff, and make stuff all the time, however, they fixed their sights on the guests in Maple Cottage.  I warned the guests of their peril that undue tolerance would lead the kids to exploit them and talk their ears off, but to no avail.  They deserted me to meet new people and were invited to lunch and afternoon games before preparing a sauna.  I am in awe of their optimism and openness to new people, young and old, and it would seem churlish and mean to curtail friendly advances.  Feedback from guests would suggest that it was not unwelcome.

Yesterday I saw a young cassowary that wandered out as I was hacking drooping trees off the track.  Only a little above knee high at the shoulder, it watched me for a minute before vanishing into the trees.  Today I was sprawled over my veranda chair with my leg over the armrest when a spangled drongo  decided my big toe was a good perch.  It folded its wings and settled down to look around until we made eye contact when it realised its dreadful mistake and flew away.

Feeding Ducks

I only have 2 ducks, so you may think feeding them a trivial task, especially as they trudge up the hill each morning with plenty of rest stops, to present themselves at my house for the daily feed of coarse grains.  So this morning I put 2 scoops of grain into their feeding bowl (an old saucepan) and dump it outside on the patio.  Then from nowhere 4 scrub turkeys turn up and the situation gets political.  The scrub turkeys try to dart in to get a share but the power politics and hierarchy comes into play.  The ducks are twice the weight of the turkeys, but the turkeys are much quicker and more aggressive.

So I have deduced that in the pecking order, the big male duck is boss and doesn’t take shit from anybody.  Second in status is an old and very cranky male scrub turkey with a long pendulous bright yellow wattle that charges at and scares the female white duck with wild charges and flapping wings.  He can frighten her away from the feeding bowl.  When frustrated from his attempts at plundering the feed bowl, he spends considerable effort terrorising the other scrub turkeys.  Just out of spite it seems, as they wouldn’t dare get in his way.  The 3 subordinate turkeys have their own pecking order I haven’t quite figured out as they look so similar.  The white duck tolerates the 3 lower status turkeys eating out of the same bowl, and sometimes so does boss duck, but he doesn’t like sharing it with the boss turkey.  However, the turkey is much, much faster than the duck and can grab a gullet full of grain from under the duck’s beak.  Until it gets too greedy and gets a duck’s bill pounding on it’s head a couple of times.  Meanwhile, the white duck isn’t getting fed, which is rather the object of the exercise.

So in steps me as the ultimate boss, the alpha male, top of the heap ruler of Possum Valley, to bring authority, order and fairness to this rabble of feuding birds.  So I stand guard and gently encourage the white duck it is OK to come back to the bowl and feed again.  The boss turkey races round approaching from every angle including darting under the house to ambush from another angle, but with some difficulty and racing around I manage to thwart his efforts and occasionally lob a stick of firewood at him to assert my authority.  He quickly learns that 3m is sufficient distance to avoid my missiles and continues to test my defenses.  Meanwhile, the low status turkeys have taken their chance and snuck in to plunder the grain scattered round the bowl by the duck’s clumsy eating habits.  This enrages the boss turkey and he plunges straight through the amicable group of feeding birds, to scatter them in all directions and vent his anger.

About this time I deem that my ducks have managed to get enough to sustain them for another day and think I’ll go for a rest and a cup of tea before facing the other challenges of the day.


working to craft our future

I am increasingly baffled by the increasingly strident and vociferous ‘deniers’ who refuse to see the nose in front of their face, and rely on internet ‘silos’ or ‘echo chambers’ to satisfy their view that they are the chosen few who have penetrated society’s fictions and have discovered the ‘truth’. The first I remember was the cult that asserted that the American moon landing was a hoax.  Well yes, I wasn’t there on the moon to personally welcome the few who landed, but there were many thousands of people who witnessed the Saturn rockets taking off in a ground trembling, ear shattering, display of power as 25,000 tons of rocket was thrust skyward.  There was a mighty contingent of the US navy that fished them out of the ocean and upon opening the capsule hatch were instantly repelled by the stench of guys who had been living in a tin can with nappies on for a week or two.  If that is a hoax, it was a very elaborate and expensive one.

Then of course there is the evolution ‘debate’, where so many people, especially in the US claim that a single book written by various unknown and unqualified authors between 3000 and 1700 years ago, translated rather dubiously through several long dead languages, is more to be trusted than libraries of books written by highly trained and qualified people who have done vast amounts of research duly vetted by peers.

Then we could go to UFO’s, but let’s not, as there are so many wild theories based on flashes of light in the sky, that are are so improbably they make Dr Who look like an authoritative guide to extraterrestrial life.  Even in it’s earliest episodes with crepe paper space suits and garden hose squiggling aliens.  Not to mention the formidable Darleks with many identifiable parts from the local hardware store.  Yes, I was there dear readers as an avid consumer of this bizarre children’s program displayed in glorious and blurry black and white on the TV in the 1950’s.

Which brings us to climate deniers whom I am glad to say are suffering a long protracted final cry of despair as accumulating facts suffocate them.  Actually, billions of people around the world don’t have to rely on any academic’s theory anymore.  Like me, they can see it and feel it in their own homes and paddocks as record temps and wild weather break records every year.

So we come to covid deniers.  The wildest wingnuts on the planet who think that millions of deaths, vast disruption to economies, abrupt dislocation of flights, people hospitalised and gasping for breath are merely doing it to fool them!  I have to tell those so paranoid, you really aren’t that important that anybody would bother.  It is really happening and if you can’t grasp that, you may be in line for a Darwin Award.  This is an award for those who do such stupid things as to permanently remove themselves from the human gene pool.  From my perspective these reality challenged deniers are welcome to exercise their philosophies and hope they maintain their ‘Let nature take it’s course’ stance so they don’t trouble the health services and clog up the over-stretched nurses and doctors as they gasp their last.  They may be comforted by their friends and family accompanying them to their fate.

GET VACCINATED!  It is the only thing you can do to help protect yourself and the people you love.

Negligent Granparenting

A few days ago my daughter called and asked me to take care of 2 grandsons for the day.  She was working in A&E at Atherton hospital, but her partner could quite easily have looked after them.  They had requested to come here which gave me a little glow of appreciation.  So Henry 7, and Philip 5 were dropped off in the morning and promptly raided the fridge.  Not that their parents don’t feed them, quite the contrary, but they are always on the lookout for variety and treats.

Later, after I had serviced a cottage and they had demolished several saplings around the house, I told them that the guests at Blackbean Cottage included a boy and girl just a bit older than them.  Que Henry.  He is very outgoing and gregarious.  He likes meeting new people, young and old, and has no hesitation to just knock on the door of their cottage and introduce himself.  I am in awe of  his confidence and trust in the good will of people, that he can do that quite unselfconciously.  I am 10 times his age but perhaps that just means 10 times his baggage of inhibitions.  Philip tags along in his brothers wake out of curiosity.  I don’t see them for a couple of hours until Philip comes back for a snack and energy recharge before disappearing again.

coppery brushtail Possum

Then Henry pops by because he wants to change into swimming gear.  I offer him some lunch but he declines being too busy with new friends.  This surprises me as he always eats well and often demands the menu and eats astonishing amounts of food.  I don’t see him for the rest of the day except when I am feeling guilty about neglecting them and sneak down to the sounds of children playing and see through the trees Philip and Henry in the dam spillway being organised by a slightly older girl into some kind of game or competition.  I hear happy sounds of shrieks and excitement and retreat unseen. Later Philip turns up totally plastered in mud with it dripping though his hair.  They had been swamp diving around Blackbean Cottage.  I hose off this creature from the black lagoon outside before I let him near the shower.  Philip has had  enough of socialising in the afternoon and comes for snacks and television.

Their father Blue comes to pick them up late afternoon, and only Philip is available.  I haven’t seen Henry for hours.  We track him down to the sauna hut and he has been in the sauna with the guests and plunging into the dam for most of the afternoon.

So I have to confess my negligence of responsibly looking after my grand children.  I didn’t know what they were doing for most of the day.  I guess that means I trusted them to look after themselves, which has a profound effect on their self esteem.  I trusted them to be good friends and respectful of my guests, which they did.

I think my grandkids  had a good day with many sensual and social experiences.  I could have structured their day, but I think I did better by stepping out of the way.


Insanity Taken to Next Level

I read with astonishment about the Aukus agreement.  Just 3 egotistical men decided to commit nearly 100 billion of Australia’s dollars to killing machines.  Incidentally pissing off half the world’s population big time.  The idea that about 8 or 10 subs provided by the French, at $48 billion dollars, could provide a credible defense for Australia is absurd in the first place, because we have a vast area of sea with no possibility of concentrating the forces unless invaders should kindly send us advance notice.

To upgrade this into the nuclear is doubling down on an insane idea, and doubling down on the cost.  Nearly $100,000,000,000 dollars for 8 or 9 rather small, useless, radioactive, underwater prisons wouldn’t come as a high priority in my household budget.  Oh, I can see the attraction for politicians.  Great big horizontal phallic symbols of power, thrusting their way through the oceans of dominance.  I prefer a more genial sort of politics.  “OK mate, you got a problem? let’s talk about it”.

I don’t get angry very often, if at all, in fact I had to fake it with my kids when they were little to convince them I was serious, but this Aukus deal makes me a little miffed.  No, I will upgrade that to ‘put out’.  Or perhaps annoyed.  I think I will go the whole hog with enraged that so much resources are devoted to futile ends when they could be used for positive outcomes.  Could you think of better use for $100,000,000,000 dollars?  I can think of several.

National Fears and Feelings

All the news in recent times has been about covid, with little asides of other issues and a few ‘feel good’ stories tagged on at the end.  So I haven’t posted a blog for months because the impacts of covid have ravaged many countries with misery and death, and in Australia, one of the least affected, has caused widespread anxiety, dislocation and a great deal of financial stress to many.  And I have sailed through it all with almost no disruption of my lifestyle, and increased business due to Queenslanders being imprisoned.  So any blog I write may seem like gloating, including this one.  I am aware of the impact of covid on most people’s lives, which at the least is a curtailing of opportunities and fun, and at the most grief and loss.  So I will bring you a sunny account of a beautiful rainforest untroubled by perilous times in the hope you see it as a beautiful bright world still out there.

Just a couple of hours ago I saw two tree kangaroos cross a grass clearing near my house.  First an adult with it’s long tail hopping across then a juvenile perhaps 2/3 the size moments later.  They are beautiful animals and gentle herbivores I have had perching on my shoulders watching me doing the washing up, with sharp 75 mm claws just gently resting on my head.  Gentle until territorial disputes or sexual rivalry comes into play that is.  Then all bets are off.  It is the same with possums and recently there has been major disputes with the possum at Maple Cottage as guests report major fights with the hissing, spitting, squealing sounds that accompany such conflicts.  There have been severe injuries and big patches of skin and fur ripped off.  I think a possum mafia has moved in.  One casualty with the right side of it’s face ripped off was driven out and moved down to my house.  It has caused me considerable annoyance as desperate possums resort to desperate measures such as raiding my house during daylight hours.  I am quite accustomed o having the daylight hours to myself and leaving the dark hours to the possums.  But when I have all doors and windows open, I don’t want to be subject to sneak attacks to steal my dinner.  I have managed to trap it and relocate it to a distant part of the rainforest but I doubt it will survive.  Callous perhaps, but I claim a small portion of this land, my house, as my own.

I am having a drought.  More than 3 weeks without rain!  I know, I know, this is well short of an Australian record, but here in the rainforest it seems strange to not need gumboots and to see dust in the trails of cars.  Other people would call it beautiful weather.  Just depends on what you are in need of.

For those of you out there in the anthropologically modeled version of reality, I think you really need to get vaccinated for covid.  It isn’t the final solution, but it could stop you dying.  The virus is changing due to the vast opportunities given by its massive distribution.  This leads to its survival and our demise by the process of trial and error, otherwise known as evolution.  On the side of the good guys are the remarkably competent and trained virologists who strive to counterattack.  Unfortunately, they can only perform a few well directed lines a month, and the virus can perform billions of aimless experiments to defeat them.  This contest has a long way to run.

Covid Vaccines

If I ruled the whole world, not just my little enclave, I would do things very differently for the vaccine roll-out.  I would not consider where they were made, who can outbid the poorer countries, nor even the death rates as these are people who have passed out of consideration.  I would attack the virus by sending the available vaccines to the hot spots of new infections to halt it in its tracks before new variants emerge.  This was the model and plea of the WHO prior to any vaccines being released, but they were shouting into a storm and I am sure they knew that.  It is ironic that many of the rich countries are indeed among the most at need, like the US where new cases are 70,000 per day, Germany having a third wave etc.  So, as was quite predictable, there is an unseemly and desperate scramble to get hands on vaccine and the winners are……. the rich and powerful.  No surprise there.

And perhaps it is all in vain as the virus is likely to sprout so many variants that re-vaccination will be required in less than a year, long before most of the world is even vaccinated the first time.  This was brought home by an interview today with Dr Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC (Center for Disease Control in the US) who tossed the script and said she had “An impending sense of doom”.  As have many leading epidemiologists who see us on the losing side with this virus which has already mutated so many times.

I have decided not to seek a covid vaccine inoculation.  I have been eligible for a couple of weeks being a septuagenarian, but have been watching the roll-out world wide.  I am by no means an anti-vaxer, or have any doubts about the efficacy of the vaccines, it is just that I have seen the inequality of distribution.  It is mainly produced in rich countries and mainly distributed to rich countries.  That doesn’t come as much of a surprise.  This is not some self-sacrificing stance based on long-held beliefs in equality (well maybe a little bit), but some rational thinking that the virus has to be tackled first in the worst hit places to be able to knock it on the head.  I think it will be in my interests and Australia’s interests to tackle this as a worldwide problem, which it undoubtedly is, to send the vaccines to where they will do the most to control the virus.

As WHO feared and railed against even before the vaccines were available, the rich countries have snapped up the supplies, no doubt due to having more purchasing power.  It is also true that some of the countries most in need are the rich ones.  Europe and the US are having a torrid time dealing with continuing infection rates and in any equitable distribution system should enjoy some preference.  But many other places with major outbreaks, they are not able to get sufficient (or any) supply.  PNG springs to mind.  They have a serious outbreak and rudimentary medical facilities.  Well, we could congratulate ourselves with our minimal infection rates and send them a few doses to “do the right thing”, which we have done with I believe 8000 doses.  Actually, it would be in Australia’s interests, and mine, to send them a whole heap more to help contain the outbreak there.  Perhaps Scotty doesn’t realise that Australia extends to within 4 km of PNG.  Perhaps he doesn’t realise that due to PNG’s weak public health system, the infection rates and deaths will be hugely under reported.

I did my weekly shopping in Atherton today and it was a bit eerie.  Nearly everyone had masks on.  I haven’t seen any masks since April last year, and even then only 20% had them.  I was handed a mask at the entrance to Bunnings and told I wouldn’t be allowed in without one.  Had I missed some emergency health warning?  Perhaps, because just everybody had a mask on.  The supermarket didn’t enforce masks, but the bottle shop did.  Everybody stayed subdued and distant and for the first time I wore a mask.  I didn’t like it.  It was hot and suffocating and I could no longer read smiles or scowls and felt alienated from people by being no longer able to have communication by facial expressions.  I suppose most of you are much further down the track than I am, but it is a track I do not want to go down.

So, after brief glimmers of hope, I am back to my original ‘gloom and doom’ prognosis of Feb 2020, that this disease would be a “permanent scourge of mankind”.

Treats and Toil in the Jungle

I have sought and found a different lifestyle than most people in Australia and I hope dear readers find some interest and amusement in me relating tasks and events and trying to give some impression of what it is like to live and work in rainforest.  First off, I don’t commute.  My work and pleasure is all around, me so I can step out the door and do something.  I guess there are a lot of people who could better use the time and money commuting bleeds from them.  Also being self-employed and the B&B business requiring work mainly in the middle of the day, I can get up when I feel like it for a leisurely shower and breakfast.  I am past the morning scramble to get the kids to the school bus.  So life is not too demanding so far, and I do have the choices of what I do.  My own priorities.

First some treats.  I enjoy talking and socializing with guests.  Most I treat with respect and care and having shown them round and orientated them to Possum Valley, I leave them to their own devices.  Some who return and show some interest in conversation I get to know better, invite to dinner, or get invited and have a most convivial time.  Recently I had an evening with frequent flyer guests of two young teenage boys and their father, as the mother had stayed home to look after a newly acquired puppy.  The boys expertly taught me some new card games and we had a lot of fun.  Also I heard the tale of the heroic mother, hi Nadege, who saved the puppy from a large python.  The boys and puppy were asleep in a room of their home in Cairns, when Nadege heard some disturbance.  She entered the room and the boys were fast asleep and a python had the nose of the puppy in its jaws and coils around its body.  I had always seen the gentle side of this lady, but had suspected there was also a fierce side.  The fierce side sprang into action and ripped the python off the doomed puppy and flung it towards the door but missed.  I am sure you know how difficult it is to aim a heavy and powerful wriggling serpent at a target …. or perhaps you don’t.  It hit the wall with a mighty thud and dived for cover in the boys bedroom.  The household and serpent were in uproar by this time, blood everywhere, the dozing father now on the scene and the snake chased out.  This will go down in family legend.  Don’t mess with Nadege or her loved ones.

A little treat of an azure kingfisher on my veranda

My last weekly supplies run to Atherton had a happy end when I came back along the track to see a cassowary striding along.  It took off into the bush and when I pulled up to where it disappeared, just waving bushes to be seen.  So I drove off and 70 m later it dashed out of the forest right in front of the car and crashed into the foliage on the other side of the road.  I think this is one of the wild ones.  A couple of hundred meters later, I met guests on the way out and cautioned them to take care on the road because of a cassowary.  They would have loved to have seen it, but didn’t.

Now some of the toil.  Bom had forecast that a low off the coast would turn into a cyclone category 3, but would not cross the coast.  On Monday I woke up to gale force winds and and lashing rain driven by vicious gusts.  But the eerie bit was how dark it was.  The whole day my solar panels couldn’t harvest a single amp of power.  Which would have been useful as about 9am the hydro went offline not producing any power either.  I thought about the rain raising the creek and bogging the turbine, but there had not been enough rain to cause that so it was likely an open circuit with a break in the transmission line or a fallen branch bringing the lines together to produce a short circuit.   Either way I had to shut down the turbine.

I got into my wet weather gear and went to shut of the turbine which resolved the diagnosis of the problem.  The turbine was going slowly with the water pounding out past the nozzle inlet completely reversing its trajectory from the nozzle.  I will point out the nozzle speed of the water is about 70 km/hr and the blow-back is quite spectacular.  This told me that a) there was a dead short in the transmission line, and that b) the generator hadn’t burned out yet as it was still valiantly trying to produce electricity.  If there was a break in the transmission, or open circuit, the turbine would have been thundering around at double speed and the power of the water making great noise as it hit the rear casing.  I shut it down by turning off the inlet and put my hand on the generator to see how hot it was.  Ouch, yes hot.  Now to find the short.

I blundered up the power line, but in rainforest the light is about 2% of the intensity in open ground and with the very dark conditions I could hardly see the lines.  Also I need specs and every time I looked up I was blasted by teeming rain further obscuring vision.  I finally found a fallen tree across the power lines and where they had crossed over.  I went for my tree destruction tools, a pole saw and machete and my power line fiddling tool, a long light pole with a vee notch at one end and a hook at the other.  A couple of hours later I was drenched to the bone but had the power back on.  Just as well, as the solar panels were on strike.  It was so dark that they couldn’t raise an amp between them at midday.

More toil.  I had seen so many branches down and a carpet of green leaves on the ground so I suspected the track in through the rainforest would be a mess.  I tooled up with chainsaws, machete, axe etc, and set off in the car.  There was plenty to do.  Sticks and branches every 20m and about 8 sizable trees across the track that completely obscured it.  After about 4 hours hard yakka of chainsawing and hauling off the debris, I had reached the end of the rainforest and thought I had finished.  Might as well check my mailbox at the end of the track.  Just as well I did.  Not far from the Highway, a mighty old wattle with a trunk over a meter in diameter with a huge number of branches had fallen over the road with the crown right in the middle.  More than 2 hours work there sawing and pulling the branches off the road.  My pulling power was reduced by slippery red For those of you shuddering at the mud and even more slippery cow pats, as the cows had congregated there for shade or shelter.  I had to use the full reach of my pole saw (5.3 m) to get to the higher branches.

For those of you shuddering at the thought of floundering in mud, getting scratched and bloodied, wet and tired and wondering how to down a broken tree without ending up underneath it, well, I would rather do this than paperwork.  Just as well because such efforts are required just to live here.  So all you keyboard jockeys just don’t know what your’re missing, and now you do know, you probably think “thank goodness”.