Sauna Mishap

Yesterday the sauna hut burnt to the ground.  I am pleased to say that nobody was hurt.  Some guests had lit the fire then gone for a walk.  A guest from the other cottage had gone past, not to partake of a sauna, but as is his bent and and pastime, in search of birds.  and managed to take his eyes from his binoculars long enough the wreck, the fire and the smoke.  He immediately came to inform me, heroically giving up valuable birding time, but when I got there there was nothing worth doing to quench the flames, but water from the burnt out plumbing was shooting everywhere except onto the fire.  That had to be dealt with or the homestead and Blackbean Cottage would soon be out of water.  I couldn’t cut off the water in the wreckage of the sauna as it was still burning.  I couldn’t just turn it off at the tanks as the homestead and Blackbean would have no water.  I had to find the tee connection where 15 years ago I had patched the supply pipe into the homestead supply pipe and block it off there.  All I had to do is remember where that was and dig it up.  First of all dig across the suspected direction of the pipe to find it, then dig along the pipe to find the connection.  I had started 10 m away with my best guess.  

I looked through my collection of plumbing bits to determine that I didn’t have anything to fit and would have to bodge something to plug a 42 mm hole.  I found a 45 mm cap and put it on the lathe to turn a 41-43 mm taper, put a bit of thread tape on it and flogged it into the hole with a hammer.  Then a clamp to hold it in the hole against the pressure..  Emergency over and water restored.  About that time along came the guest who had inadvertently incinerated the sauna.  I informed him that his sauna wouldn’t be happening.  We went to inspect the remains. 

Remodeled sauna hut

He was distraught, probably from a mixture of guilt, the possibility that I might get angry, and the possibility I might demand restitution.  I told him that I didn’t think he meant to burn it down deliberately and it came under the category of ” shit happens”.  Later on when I had fixed the emergency situation, I informed the guests in Blackbean that they could shit and wash again and went up to see the guilty party and relieve their anxiety.  We had a long wide-ranging chat lubricated with red wine.  I will rebuild the sauna again at my leisure.  This time around it will require money as I no longer have left-over building materials.  But Xmas is not a good time to start a project and many retailers are closed for up to 3 weeks and the weather is often unhelpful.  

So dear guests, no saunas for a while, but I am told that many from the coast have had plenty of saunas in recent months and may not be demanding more anytime soon.  My daughter Josie and family are coming over from Darwin soon in the last event of the Xmas family calendar and festivities, and I am hoping they have had enough saunas already.  

I wish you all a happy Xmas and in the new year may the bluebird of happiness shit upon your shoulder.


My Mate Owen

It will not be often I will offer thanks to a cyclone. I’ve been bashed about and mangled quite a few times over the years.  But Owen has brought the much needed rain and greened up Possum Valley and the Tablelands, put enough in my creek to give me secure hydro power and pushed up the grass to feed the stock on my daughters’s farm.  Owen also had the decency to drop below cyclone intensity before it went over the top, and to do a u-turn in the gulf and scoop up a heap of water for follow-up rains, and again decay below cyclone intensity as it goes over the top the other way.  It has relieved the long dry season in no uncertain terms.  Both passes have tracked almost exactly over Possum Valley.  It is not often I imagine designer rains and actually get them.  I got a modest 40 mm of rain from Owen on his second pass which is a nice amount of follow-up rain but not too much because it went just to the south of Possum Valley.  For those on the coast that it went to the north of some got an inconvenient amount like up to 681 mm in 24 hrs and the rain intensity got up to 120 mm in an hour.  2 mm a minute is like standing under a waterfall.  From my rain records, the most I have had in 24 hrs is a paltry 625 mm

beautiful sun shower

There was of course the minor inconvenience of having to hack and chainsaw fallen trees of the track before I could go anywhere, but hey, they were going to fall down anyway sooner or later.  During this time of bounteous rain I was supposed to be resting and recovering from a severe infection (not of the contagious type) in the middle of my back.  I had a couple of BCC’s (basal cell carcinomas) removed from my back and one of them got infected so I had fevers and discharge so they cut a couple of stitches to allow pus out and put me on antibiotics which didn’t work.  So more severe discharge and change of antibiotics, which did work.  Apparently, some antibiotics work well on some bugs but not others.  A biopsy confirmed the second lot of antibiotics would be most likely to nail the little bastards.  I was told complete rest, very little movement so as not to pull the stitches and close observation of the wound was required.  I said I have 2 hours chainsawing and heaving logs off the track on the way home, every bed in the cottages to service and I live alone and the wound is between my shoulder blades so I won’t be closely observing.  Reality trumps theory every time.  Doctors and nurses are amongst the most intelligent and educated people, so it didn’t take them long to adjust.  All good and healing well now.

I am getting increasingly angry with the leaders of certain 1st world countries that are dragging their heels about climate heating as demonstrated in the most recent world meeting in Poland.  Of course the US Federal government leads the world for historical CO2 pollution, current pollution, climate denial, callous disregard for the plight of the most vulnerable countries, refusal to contribute to poor countries for mitigation efforts and is currently slowing or dismantling efforts at renewable energy.  To the credit of people and the individual US states, they are making efforts to go it alone.  About the same sorry story in Oz really where the people get it, some states are trying, but the national government is well in the pockets of the energy lobbies.  It is clear that in both countries that the representatives of the people are not delivering what the people want on climate, treatment of refugees, preservation of the existing environment, and especially the equitable distribution of wealth that have seen any gains in the last few decades go to the top few percent.  Old money is corrupting our democracy and working furiously to prevent change and inhibit disruptive or innovative technology.  Dinosaurs and fossils inhabit our parliament.  One old fossil recently brandishing a 250 million year old black rock, “way to the future people”.  It comes to my mind about Nero fiddling (with an instrument) while Rome burns.  Actually, he actually went out with the fire crews to personally assist in putting fires out, but history is so unreliable and often cruel.  Yes, ancient Rome did have fire engines, and professional crews.  Mesopotamia used electroplating and ancient Egyptians invented writing cheques on their accounts.  The sophistication of the ancients is often overlooked.

I parked my car outside the library in Atherton today and as I left my car, a lady came up to me and asked did I have any frogs in my car.  I can’t recall ever being asked that before.  I said, er, no, I don’t think so.  “Oh! I thought I heard the type of frogs that call before the rain comes”.  No, no frogs.  A pleasant conversation but it occurred to me later that I have heaps of frogs at Possum Valley, but they call after the rain has come.  ‘This is what we have been waiting for, let’s get it on baby’.  I am guessing that my car could do with a bit more grease in places.

Henry and possum

For no particular reason, I include a picture of my grandson Henry getting up close and personal with a possum.  Direct information on the environment not mediated by David Attenborough.  Getting rarer for many children these days.  Yesterday he was holding a chicken in his lap and stroking it.  He didn’t have any clothes on and I was a little concerned for his tender flesh if the chicken should freak out and vigourously use it’s claws.  He wasn’t worried, nor the chicken, so all went well.  Children learn so much more by touch and feel than by lecture.

Possum Wrangling

Having lived in Possum Valley for 42 years now and I  can say, without undue modesty, that I am expert in the art of possum wrangling.  It is an arcane skill which, alas, has little commercial value in the wider world's job market.  … [Continue reading]

Turtle Time

I was servicing Maple Cottage recently when I saw someone had dropped a hat outside on the grass 10m in front of the kitchen window.  I really don't need any more hats.  Closer inspection showed it to be a turtle apparently trying to dig a … [Continue reading]

Possum Valley Heat Wave

Today is the hottest at Possum Valley in the 42 years I have been here.  The temps in the last three days have been:- 32C the second hottest day ever, 33C equalling the hottest recorded over a decade ago, and today 34C for a new record.  … [Continue reading]

Memories, memories

It is often said that memories fade with age, but I have very vivid memories of some places and the places have faded within my lifetime rather than my memory.  I find that very sad.  I am forcefully  reminded of this by recent news … [Continue reading]

A Ramble

Nothing of great significance has been happening at Possum Valley, so if you are looking for drama, change channel.  Certainly nothing much in the way of rain.  Hot and dry for the last 4 months and I've just looked at BOM forecasts and … [Continue reading]

Spring Has Sprung

..........the flowers is riz, I wonder where the birdies iz? They say the birds are on the wing, But that's absurd, the wing is on the bird. This piece of doggerel from my father was my first introduction to poetry.  Then came … [Continue reading]