Monday, January 31

No fixed abode.

I've moved out of the Paddington house, and staying with my daughter, her husband and their two daughters.  My grandchildren.  So much fun.  The plan is that when they are at school, I will study!!!  Have so much to do. 

However, yesterday we, (MM and I) went to the cricket at the 'Gabba.  Australia vs England - a day night match.  We went by public transport - free when going to big matches at the 'Gabba, so it was train from Lindum (parked the car there) to South Bank and from there, the free bus to the 'Gabba.  We managed to find our seats - and great ones they were too, with a fantastic view of the field.  We were also in the front row - which means more leg room.  (We'll remember that for when we book again next time.)

Australia won the toss, and batted first and did quite well, though not spectacularly well.  Still they made 249 runs, which the English team could not match.

It was a fun day - and one I will remember for a long time.

Friday, January 28

Moving out

I've been in this house for around 4 months now, and the lady of the house is returning - it is winter holiday in China, as the nation prepares for the big event of the year.  Spring Festival.  I can remember going to Anchung, an ancient water village not far from Shaoxing about this time in 2008, and seeing some of the preparations.  Chickens, ducks, fish and other delicacies were being prepared for the festival.  They were hanging, on makeshift racks all around the places.  Heads on, feathers off.  Looking rather bizarre, but it is such a huge festival, this is one of the ways of preparing for the event.  Chinese people love their food - so this festival is as much about food as it is about the lunar new year.

Strangely, this is a time where people set out to make a positive change in their lives - so often take on a new name.  Rather confusing, but if they have not achieved their goals in the previous year/s it is a good idea to 'start again.'

I think of my Chinese friends at this time.

The lady of the house is back for around three weeks, so I am moving to my daughter's place - and hopefully will finish my assignments for uni in the next week, as the following week I go to Adelaide to visit the folks.

Just like the Chinese are doing at this time of year - going back to visit their parents.

My neice has just had her first baby - so I look forward to seeing baby Evan.

Saturday, January 15

The Smell!!!

I woke this morning to a terrible smell.  I am just a km or so from the flooded area, but there's no doubt that the smell was from the floods.  Mixed with the smell of mould.  Yes, everything is mouldy.  I know that living in the sub tropics that mould can be a problem.  Perhaps it is worse this season as the heavy rain meant that we could not keep the doors and windows open all the time, but the air was 100% sodden.  

There are things inside the house and outside that are mouldy.Still, the smell here can not be as bad as it is right in the midst of the clean up area, where rotting food, and other rubbish is mixed with the stinky mud from the river.  Terrible.  Apparently it lingers for weeks.  

I've tried to buy some Oil of Cloves, which apparently is good to kill the mould - but it seems that there is none to be bought.  Others have the same idea.

Soon the mosquitos will be hatching and there concerns for a number of diseases including dengue fever.  I've bought some repellant.  Ugh.

Friday, January 14

Signing for Deaf Viewers

Congratulations to the authorities for ensuring that the deaf community are included in the communications in the time of the flood disaster in Brisbane.  All press conferences now have a qualified deaf translater, so that every word spoken by our Premier, or the Police commissioner or his representative, is translated.

It has been interesting for me, as I understand some of the signs, and I find myself focussed on the translator and I practice some of the signs.

A day or so ago, the camera was focused on the premier isolating the translator - but someone must have remembered that the translator is only of value if people can see her/him.

In the areas flooded there are large number of our deaf community - and it is important that all people are considered in getting information to you.
On television this morning.

Thursday, January 13

Funny Flood Fotos

Sign says 'part closure' of footpath and bikeway.

Bikeway construction Zone ??????

This business is sandbagged - it is the only business in the street sandbagged - well well above any flood risk.  What were they thinking?

Want to help?  Donate here.

Photos of the Brisbane River January 13th, 2011

Brisbane River Photos

Road underwater

Underwater walkway

Bridge - note someone trying to save his boat in the river.

Police Boat on the River

Swirling water in the river near a bridge pylon
These photos were taken at the Brisbane River today (January 13th,)

A view of the city - with the swirling waters of the river.

Cane furniture in the river

Logs, and rubbish.

Bridge over muddy waters

Floating matress

Walkway on the south bank

Overflowing river

Walkway under water

The Wild River

Army helicopters out on duty

More rubbish

The Walkway under water

Rubbish in the river

Milton Rd with the Iconic XXXX Brewery on the right - flooded.
I'm lucky.  I live near the floods - but well above flood level.  Our government has requested that we do not go near the floods unless we have business there, but I managed to take a short walk from my supermarket to the river and other area under flood. 

We are all touched in some way by the disaster.  

Donation can be made to the fund - a lot of money will be needed for those people who have lost everything.  Click here to donate.

Funny flood photos

Wednesday, January 12

Brisbane in flood - but this house is well above flood level.

There is an eerie silence.  Sometimes the silence is broken by the sound of a passing car (far fewer than on a 'normal' day), and occasionally a helicopter flies overhead breaking the silence with its rotar blades and engine noise, but otherwise it is eerie.  Even the birds are silent.  

Lucky for me, the owners of this house chose wisely when they bought some 30+ years ago - it is high and dry - well above flood level.  Some folk joke that as we are on the side of a hill, we need to worry about the hill sliding.  (It has happened not far from here already this week.)  I am alert to any unusual sounds.

It is the silence that is disturbing.  If I turn on television it is 24/7 flood pictures and updates.  I can watch for a while in a rather mesmerising way.  It is hard not to be affected by the vision of flooding houses, cars being washed away, boats without humans on board flashing down the river, pontoons and a restaurant floating past.

It has been six long weeks of trauma - first in the north of the state, and now in the south.  Towns, and cities are in flood.  The devastation is mind boggling, and what is worse, is that it continues.

The toll of life, (human and animal), loss of property- houses, businesses, boats, roads, bridges, and so on.  It will be years before the people can return to normal lives.  Jobs have gone along with the businesses.

So much infrastructure has been damaged.  Roads, railway lines, and in the city itself, the popular "City Cat" and ferry services will not be operational for some time as the many jetties along the river - where passengers for the popular river services alighted and boarded.  Such chaos will rule when the city eventually opens for business - which could be weeks away.

People are currently busily emptying low lying homes of as much property as they can.  Photos, computers, televisions, personal treasures, clothes - as much as one can.

Some folk have put their belongings on their roof, and are camping there hoping that all will survive.

It is hard to write the story.  I'm not unsafe.  I am above flood level, but I am alone.  My landline phone does not work.  My mobile phone and internet is my lifeline to the outside world.

While the peace is unsettling, it is broken by the occasional vehicle passing the house.  I've heard some whispers from birds.  

I will go to the supermarket shortly - just to get a few things. Fresh fruit and vegetables are unlikely to be available.  Transport to the supermarkets have stopped.  Staff are unable to get to work, so I may find little value in my visit there.

The clouds are building up.  More rain is coming though I doubt it will be like the heavy rains of the past few days.  We hope not.

It is an extra ordinary time.

Updates can be found here.

Monday, January 10

What about the animals, birds, insects?

What about the animals, birds and insects in the great wet?  With floods everywhere and constant rain, what do they do?  We see on television news the kangaroos jumping to higher ground, and the horses and cattle finding some refuge on a small plot of high ground, and the cattle that have floated some 40 kms from where they live.  (Apparently cows can 'inflate' and float, and one has been see floating 20 kms out to see near Great  Keppel Island.)  There must be a terrible loss of life during this flood - all those living creatures that inhabit the vast countryside that is currently flooded and in many cases will be flooded for weeks to come.  With constant rain, the flood levels are only dropping slowly.

Two of my butcher birds have sought refuge on the back deck - I've put out some food for them, but they have ignored it.  They actually look frightened.

Most places in Brisbane have had ants everywhere.  Usually tiny ants (with a big bite if they get you).  The photo above is of a group of ants - just a tiny group of them compared to what I see.  They do clean up mess - in this case some droppings left my lorikeets, and I was happy to see them 'take it away'.  We know that these ants come before rain - and they certainly did.  In the house, along walls, everywhere.  But now with the rain - they have gone.

Friday, January 7

More on the menagerie here.

The rain is causing distress to the wild life and I am doing what I can to help.  My tribe of butcher birds has increased and they are turning up earlier and more often.  I do hope they do not forget how to find their own food as when the rain stops so will I!  Baldy is going bald faster, and I worry about him/her.  Cheeky is still being ostracised by the tribe, and I suspect because he has not been turning up at feeding classes with his Mum and Dad and he has been quite intrusive.  Apart from coming in the house and scaring himself and me, he sits on the deck. Clearly he hates the rain too.

Two lorikeets have appeared and one has been tapping on the window. So, despite my instructions NOT to feed them, I have done so occasionally.  They look so sad, wet and bedgraggled.  I feel sorry for them.

The possums too are finding it difficult.  This morning I found the little possum hiding in the fern again.  He actually breaks off fronds to create a sort of cavern to protect/hide himself.  I often check as I remember frightening him and myself when I watered the plant some time ago and didn't notice him there.
So, in which hanging pot is the possum hiding?

Is it here?

Hard to tell but the brown furry blob in the middle is a sleeping possum!

Possum on the deck at dusk.

Cheeky - a loner.
Geckos, spiders, and other things seem to be seeking protection indoors.  I am sure that was a big spider I crushed in my pocket when I ironed black pants.  Crunch.  Still, as long as they don't invade my private space too much I can manage.

Guess what!! More rain.

This morning it came over dark.  8 am and summer and we need the lights on to see.  Of course that heralded a heavy rain downpour.  And it came!  So heavy.  I stood at the window and watched.  Luckily I am on high ground, but I would not like to be driving or walking in it.  Even a huge umbrella would provide little protection.

A mural at Ahmets
I have been inside most of the week, a quick trip to the airport on Monday morning to take Bev to the airport, and yesterday a few hours out as I went to South Bank for lunch at Ahmet's Turkish Restaurant.

I love Ahmet's - I had my usual Lebanase bread and dips, and then we had a Chicken Pide - which was wonderful followed by Turkish delight and coffee.

Turkish Delight

I caught the bus into the city, and went to Officeworks for a couple of things, thinking I could get a bus to South Bank, but the rain was so heavy I ran to a taxi rank and caught a taxi over.  Managed to get a bus back to Paddington, and keep my feet wet.

Thursday, January 6

Rain and More Rain for Queensland

The statistics are pretty awesome.  According to The Australian (January 6th, 2011) Australia has had its third wettest year on record, the wettest 'dry season" in the north on record, the coolest year since 2001, and the warmest decade on record. What does that all mean in relation to the 'climate change' that we hear so much about?

As I type this, the rain is falling heavily here at Paddington.  It has rained most of the day, and when I was in the city a few hours ago the heavens seemed to open up - it was very wet.  I hear on the news that some suburbs here around Brisbane are flooding at high tide.  January is usually a time with extreme high tides, and with the water flowing from the upper reaches of the river, flooding the towns along the way.  Record flooding has been experienced in many parts of this state.  

Rockhampton, Condamine, Bundaberg, Emerald, St George, and towns in between have suffered from the most chalening floods for some time.  Our hearts go out to those people who are still in refuges, still to get back to their homes to see the damage to their own properties, to the farmers whose crops or livestock have suffered.  It is unbelievable what is happening.

Flooding is especially appalling as it often takes a long time to reach its peak, and then a lot longer for the water to recede, and heartbreaking and time consuming to deal with the damage to homes, and loss of personal items.

The damage to roads, railway lines, fences, water and sewerage plants, telephone and electricity - is mounting up to be a huge cost to the state.

Here at the house sit - I am well above any flood waters, though on the side of a hill.  Hopefully the hill won't slide away.

One thing though has happened the phone doesn't work. - I don't use the housesit phone, ever, to make calls - I prefer to use my mobile phone, but the incoming calls are annoying me.  Someone is trying to phone.  Who?  I have no idea - and when I lift the receiver to speak it sounds like a forest fire inside.  No voice at all.  When I hang up - it continues to ring.  Grr.  Water damage?  GOK. 

Tuesday, January 4

It's like an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

The owner of the house feeds native birds, and I have continued to do so.  Most days, I have a line up of butcher birds seeking food.  One, an adult, is a regular visitor and as he/she has a growing bald patch on his head. It brings his two babies - although they are growing babies and are about the same size of their parents, though the feathers have been grey rather than black.

The babies are learning to eat out of my hand, though some are still tentative and a bit nervous at times.  With the weather, all that rain - the birds are a little more hungry and demanding, and have been coming more than once for a feed each day.

One of the 'babies' is rather cheeky - so we call him/her Cheeky.  He's often at the door or window peering in hoping to make me take pity and feed him again.  He's cute and follows me around the house - if I am in the bedroom he/she will often be on the deck sitting on the back of an out door chair peeking at me.  If I go back to the other end of the house, hey presto he/she is there too.  Waiting, and hoping.

The other day Cheeky took a few steps into the house but I saw the cheeky bird and I clapped my hands and it retreated.

Today though, we had a new venture.  I was sitting writing, reading - doing my university work, and I listened to the singing of Cheeky.  He had been fed - a couple of times actually, and I was not going to go give him any more, despite the delightful singing that I was treated to.

I didn't see him.  I heard him first as the bird hit the window trying to get out.  Flying from one wall to the other, I feared Cheeky would injure himself, so I grabbed a tea towel and threw it over him, and managed to catch him.  I clasped my hands around my feathered friend as it panicked and tried to peck at me, but I managed to hold him in a way that made it difficult.


Cheeky and friends.

One of the lorikeets

I carefully took him to the doorway and he flew off - right up to a tree nearby.  However, he returned within an hour.

I remember the other day, Baldy really punished on of the babies - I think it was Cheeky, and I can only guess what the problem is.  I have a feeling that Cheeky has not been concentrating on his parent's lessons about finding food.  He's lazy and think I will feed him all the time.

With the rains we've had visits from some lorikeets. They too are pretty cheeky - especially since I have fed them their special food.  I will have to watch that they don't try and invade the house.

Two magpies also appear - but they tend to be rather aloof, and take a little food.  They are not greedy like the butcher birds.

One lone kookaburra sometimes arrives and it will eat out of my hand too.  The owner told me that one day she found a kookaburra sitting on the end of her bed.  Now that would be interesting.

Sunday, January 2

New Year Celebrations

It is not every year that I am still awake at midnight on New Year's Eve - I like my sleep, but we had good reason to stay awake this time.  My friend Bev from WA was here, and we had an invite to Tartufo, a fairly new Italian restaurant in the Emporium, 1000 Ann St, Fortitude Valley, and a free return ride to the venue. 

We arrived around 8 pm and the restaurant was already buzzing with activity, and found our seats beside the entertainers (one of whom was our son Gavin), and settled in for the night.  Wine came, and later we ordered dinner.  I had white bait fritters - tasty fritters on a bed of parsley. Bev had a fabulous fish (snapper) dish, and MM had some pasta with sardines and anchovies. 

The entertainment started - it was wonderful to here our son sing again - it has been a while since he sang, and a longer while since we were in the audience.

Gavin Hill and Coco at Tartufo
Our desserts were stunning - all up a great meal - thank you Tony  Percuoco.  The staff were excellent - very efficient and friendly too.

Yummy dessert

The night wore on and the dance floor became busy.  Yes, we all spent some time wobbling around the floor.  There were some rather drunken females, one who took over the microphone and wandered through the crowd singing.  Until a staff member caught her, picked her up and brought her back to the stage area.

Dancing Queen

Gavin pounds the bongos.
Certainly we celebrated the New Year. Great shouting, dancing, laughing and celebration as the old year passed and the new one entered.
Happy New Year.