Long Time, No Blog

There is a reason, or several why I haven’t made a blog in over a month.  The first excuse reason I haven’t blogged is that I haven’t done much that is noteworthy.  Mainly due to the wet season hanging on with drizzly days making progress on the sauna rebuild and other projects impossible.  I have other feeble excuses for my sloth, such as being fully booked for accommodation and looking after my grandkids aged 3 and 5 for 2 days a week.  I can get some things done while the kids are here, such as servicing a cottage, or a bit of building, but they require regular feeding, beg for book reading, demand that I watch them drill holes in wood, cut grass with scissors, or splatter paint on paper and proudly proclaim it a landscape.

Sauna progress

So I regretfully report I have missed the winter deadline for the sauna rebuild.  Both my guests and I could really use a sauna at the moment with a drizzly day that reached a max of 13C.  God what!  You’d expect better in Glasgow.  I’ve just looked up Glasgow.  Gales and rain but 17C.  I’m wearing socks would you believe!  After a brief glimpse of the ‘dry season’ with brilliant sunny days, I am disappointed by the return of cloud and drizzle.

My other grandkids aged 6 and 4 came over from Darwin last week to stay for a few days.  Yes, they did bring parents to take care of logistics.  It was great to see the cousins reestablish relationships.  I have just put the floor in and waiting to nail off and coat it on a dry sunny day so the coating will dry rather than go to a tacky emulsion.  It was drizzling and 15C when I took this (30 mins ago).  Give me a break Huey!!  I had my grandkids when laying the floor, and they played happily while I laboured on, but they were playing with my tools, and elder Henry 5 has understood how important tools are from me and his dad, so wanted my tape measure when I wasn’t using it.  Partly my own fault for stressing how important measuring and numbers are to ‘do stuff’ so that when he gets to that stage in school, he knows what it is for.  Which left me negotiating with a 5 year old to get my tools back.

Recently, the hydro generator had a burnout of a brush and slip ring.  Nothing unusual as it happens every 6 months or so, but while trying to turn down and refurbish the slip ring it came loose.  It was a paper thin strip of brass worn down by constant friction.  Re-engineering required.  I managed to bodge it up to last for a very limited period, so I could press-gang Blue, my daughter’s partner, to help me carry down an old generator to replace it.  I know it is old because the manufacturers ceased production pre 1982. We arranged a date for the ‘big grunt’.  The track down to the hydro site follows the waterfall and is very steep, slippy and littered with loose rocks.  The generators weigh about 65 kg.  Rather like mountaineering in the high Alps but carrying a body on a stretcher.  One wrong step launches everyone off down the hill.  The most difficult sections negotiated by lowering the carrying cradle by rope.  I wanted to install and fire up the ‘old’ generator before trying to lift the failing one up the hill in case the replacement didn’t work.  A few adjustments were required as the support feet had different dimensions, but when I started it off I could tell from the sound it was taking up the load.  You beaut!!!!.  Rather like me, you thought you were past retirement, but still good to go.

The next task was to hump the failing generator up the hill to my workshop for re-engineering to be a back-up.  There was some negotiation as to who would take front and uphill position on the carrying stretcher and who would carry the rear.  On steep hills the weight falls on the rear.  My negotiations skills must be failing as I got the arse end.  I called 4 halts in the ascent as I couldn’t gulp enough oxygen.  The legs were willing, but the lungs were weak.  I have installed new (homemade) slip-rings and brush calipers from an old generator to increase the brush contact area and decrease the contact pressure which I hope will give much increased life to the components.  If you didn’t understand a word of that, don’t worry.  Your incomprehension is very unlikely to impact your life.  You only have to be good at one very small thing to earn a living.

Hang in there and try and survive the trifecta of buffoons now running the English speaking world.  With the honourable exception of Jacinta of course.


Disaster Strikes Possum Valley

The television doesn’t work.  I went to switch it on tonight and not a flicker or a lonesome LED, dead as a maggot.  Which is an oxymoron of a phrase, as when anything is dead, the maggots certainly aren’t.  however the television dead with no sign of maggots.  Which has driven me to my computer, and having absorbed enough of a dose of dismal news, gives me leisure to compose a post.  Not that I have a lot to report as I have been in hibernation due to persistent rain, mist, mud, leeches and sheets of drizzle driven by gale force winds.  The sauna reconstruction is at a standstill though I did take advantage of 3 whole days without rain to get half a ton of materials down the precarious slippy track.  Even the ducks have had enough and loiter in my patio area undercover in a semi-catatonic state.

I must say that my guests have been taking the dismal conditions with a cheerfulness that defies reality and an optimism that is a credit to the Aussie ‘can do’ spirit.  I am reminded of a Giles cartoon that I grew up on that caricatured the grim British determination to have a good time.

Happy holidays by Giles

Just departed today is an extended family who have been coming for decades.  They said they a great time and saw plenty of wildlife, which of course doesn’t have the option to go on strike.  I think a large part of the ‘great time’ was the opportunity for 3 generations to get together without piling into one house and creating ‘hosts’ and ‘guests’.  They could come to neutral territory and just muck in together.  Muck the operative word.

Other recent guests have been forgiving for other reasons.  Despite the atrocious weather for the last …… well … forever, guests have seen the golden bower bird in the last couple of days. I had a couple of wildlife enthusiasts from WA and they were thrilled to see platypus out the window and the tree roos, possums and for them the highlight was the golden bower bird. They forgive and forget the mud if they get to see the special creatures they certainly wont see elsewhere.

The few fleeting days when I managed to get some materials down to the sauna was due to a blast of cold air from Antarctica I think.  On a day where the max temp was 12C, my grandson Henry, 5, gets all his gear off and goes round naked.  I had resorted to long trousers while he resorted to just skin.  I didn’t make a point of it as I was sure he would soon realise the error of his ways, but an hour later where he showed no signs of discomfort, I persuaded him to to put on a few clothes.  Philip, 3, didn’t show as much resilience to the cold, but then he had fallen over in the creek and was drenched from head to toe.  I tried to get him to walk up from Blackbean Cottage to my house as I was carrying piles of linen and bags of garbage, but he shuddered to a stop crying miserably and I dimly remembered similar incidents from my own childhood and abandoned my load in the paddock to whisk him to warmth, safety and dry clothes.

To say I was disappointed by the result of the federal election would be an understatement.  I couldn’t believe that a coal brandishing reactionary twit could possibly be elected.  I don’t think there has been a more idiotic result since the praetorian guard in Rome after several assassinations and much wine elected a horse as emperor.  Actually, I think I’d rather have a horse.  Winx for PM!!  Yeah!  At least Winx has a track record, so to speak.  Now our esteemed premier in Queensland has seen the political writing on the wall and is grovelling at full speed to provide Adani with the permits it requires.  We have to leave coal in the ground where it has been for the last 250 million years,isn’t doing and harm and isn’t going to poison the planet.  Digging it up, setting fire to it and choking on the fumes isn’t a rational future policy.  So now my federal representative is Bob Katter and has been since the dynasty was founded sometime around when the pyramids were built I think.  So, what now?  Nothing I think.  It is the business of government to look into the future and make sure it doesn’t happen.  Because they represent the interests of old money and old generations.  The Morrison government didn’t even try to put up policies because they thought it could be a target and anyway a waste of time as they didn’t expect to get back in.  Now haven’t a clue what to do.

I think I am like many old people who realise we have lived through a charmed period of peace and prosperity but now realise our profligate ways threaten the future of our children and grandchildren.  The worst effects wont impact us as our use-by date is fast approaching, the calamitous results are yet to come.  I am thinking of my grandkids and want to make some real changes to our economy of consumption and resource exploitation.  Little adjustments wont be enough.  More radical changes, even uncomfortable changes are required.



Spammed to Death

To the few people interested in my Possum Valley blogs, I have to inform you that you will no longer get a notification email that I have posted a new blog.  In fact you probably wont see this advice because unless you casually check my blog … [Continue reading]

Recent Wildlife Sightings

Wildlife gets out there and has to hustle for a living come rain or shine.  Birds, having a high metabolic rate have to do it every day.  Snakes, being cold-blooded can endure weeks of bad weather before hunger drives them to action.  … [Continue reading]

Keep Trying

Decades ago I saw this old crosscut saw in a second hand shop for about $20 I suppose.  Not your hardware store version version to use on a sawhorse with a piece of 4 by 2, this was nearly 2m long with big teeth and perpendicular handles at each … [Continue reading]

I got a divorce today

Well, not exactly. I signed the legal papers with my wife in front of a JP and they will be filed in a court hearing in Cairns. Neither of us will attend as there are no disputes or child custody issues as our kids are grown with kids of their own. … [Continue reading]

Note to Younger Self: A Retrospective

I feel it is about time for a bit of introspective contemplation about my life now that I have completed the many stages of:- childhood, puberty, teenage angst, young arrogance, adult optimism, marriage and kids, middle-age cynicism, and now spending … [Continue reading]

Droughts and Flooding Rains

The poem by Dorothea Mackellar promised the extremes, but Australia is big enough to have them both at once.  The red center and the south have been sizzling for the past month and yesterday Adelaide achieved the dubious honour of a record … [Continue reading]