Sunday, December 28, 2008

end of year

A new year beckons
We are doing a lot of tidying, it must be a desire to start the new year with a clean slate. The bikes are clean and well oiled. The car is clean and still has a busted airconditioner. The house is pretty clean and still has a busted airconditioner and dishwasher. The fish tank is schmicko and replanted. The guest room is vacuumed and scrubbed and waiting for the next flood, or guests, whichever arrives first.

I have downloaded and updated some spreadsheets to keep track of my 2009 mileage.  I am pleased to report that I managed 1000 kms in December, which is awesome for me and doubly so since I was away for a full working week. Still a couple of days to go too, so - sweet!

It is hot and sticky, so most of the day has been spent sitting in front of the fan, using the computer. I have researched crop rotation through 3 beds. Usually you need 4 beds, but we don’t (can’t) grow Umbelliffers - Potatoes, carrots, parsnips, swedes, celeriac, turnips , so we can get away with 3 beds. Also, summer is a fallow season pretty much, and we can do a planting of legumes/green manure in two of the three then. An Australian seed company has a special tropical green manure mix I am going to order right away, so we need to get some soil in and get stuck into it. 

Storms are building – hence the heat and humidity. I suspect the early morning will be wet and wild with thunder, but if not we will ride. Nature gets to choose, we’ll go with the flow.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing day

Some people have to make an effort to observe special “no shopping days” but it was very easy for me to ignore Boxing Day. We don’t need anything, so why would we go shopping? So this is what we did. We went for an early ride - well good heaven's, what a surprise I hear you exclaim.
When we got home Scott skyped his brother and we had an excellent 'catch up'. Honestly, I can't believe we didn't start doing this sooner. I have been on Skype for ages, but Chris is a nerd too!
Then we ate turkey sandwiches, because as good as turkey dinner is, turkey sandwiches are better. Then we both spent time on the computer. I read one of my favorite blogs "garden rant" and since it is a surprisingly mild day (that means coolish in the tropics, not warmish) I headed out into the garden. Carol, I know you are out there, what do I do with this grass? It is flopping all over the place and not looking great. Can I cut it all off and hope for the best?

Here is a garden success, this silver cascading thingo is tough as old boots, it gets full sun and never cooks, which is more than you can say for the bromeliad which follows:

It has a lovely bloom, but alas it has seen the sun and cooked its leaves. 

Look! We got the new garden beds! I changed my mind and had custom made round ones manufactured, because I am a fuss pot and I like round things in the garden. We are currently using them as giant compost bins because there is a ton of pruning getting done and they need filling. Veggie planting has to wait til Easter anyway, it is too hot for most things to do well anyway.
Meanwhile the old veggie patch is carrying on with herbs and such

When the world is destroyed by whatever you imagine, imagine a world covered in nut grass. This garden has whole newspapers, thick ones, shingled over the soil, topped with cms of bark, and yet nutgrass endures. You kind of have to respect that. 
But we still get lots of eggplant and the sweetest pineapples you have ever tasted.

These are pineapple tops given to me by a local who sells them already topped from the back of his truck. He let me load up on tops one Saturday morning, and now a year+ later, we have the real deal happening in our own garden. As soon as these blush yellow we will bring them in, then they sit on the counter until the smell makes you salivate, then you eat them. 
So here is to a day of deep relaxation. Riding, eating, weeding, raking, planting, blogging. Why would anyone go shopping?

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Had a nice cycle with friends this morning, we went out to surprise a mate who came off the bike and broke a few things, and is stuck in bed. Luckily he and his wife were pleased to be awoken by a dozen or so lycra clad loonies bellowing christmas carols outside their bedroom window at 6:30 am. 

Thanks to my sister Gwen for the flowers, the smell of lillies is divine. We had nice presents. I got new wheels (Mavic ksyriums, they cost more than my engagement ring so I guess I still rate!) We are now replete with turkey and all the trimmings, kicking back for a relax.

A ride and swim tomorrow, coffee with friends, life is good indeed. Merry Christmas to all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas eve

Had a top ride this morning. Cool breeze (well – relatively speaking) and a float out to the dam before work. Just the most perfect morning. Hardly any traffic, parrots shot across my path and filled my vision with jewel colours and raucous sounds. It was easy to settle into the rhythm of the ride. Heart beating with excitement, grinning with pleasure, I found wings and flew. Up the wall like gossamer, a rest and a drink, then down and out from the dam. It is slightly downhill, the wind fresh and across your path, I put the hammer down and sped toward the bridge. I had to let out a yell of delight, it was mad, and perfect.

So this is my gift to all the snow bound Christmas celebrants out there. Be of good cheer. Dream of the freedom that summer brings. Love riding, never give up.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

christmas? what christmas?

A big difficultyA big difficulty being from Canada and living in tropical north Queensland is recognizing that it is Christmas. I am hard wired to start shopping after the first snowfall, and so I really haven’t given Christmas much thought yet. I suppose I should get the tree up tomorrow (a fake one of course). I suppose my family will require a few presents. Meh.

At least we ordered the turkey (turkey is not a given here) so dinner is covered. We have several cases of wine and champagne in case there is a cyclone or something ; )

Tomorrow we MIGHT be lucky and get the air conditioning fixed, or there may be a delay for parts, the alignment of the planets or whatever. I actually spent so much time ironing today that I have a sore patch on my palm. It was the only activity I could justify performing in the TV room (watching TV never occurred to me), which has a box airconditioner which actually works well. The dogs were very relieved to keep me company. And we all have lots of smooth stuff.

A splendid cycling week, I am sitting pretty on 298 kms for the week, and I intend to have a good ride tomorrow, so 350 is a possibility. It is really lovely in the early morning, so I am enjoying the kms. My bike fit is not such a problem – I just kept raising my seat a bit, riding, adjusting, now I can do 50+ kms and not give my ass or hands or back a thought, and that is a very nice thing.

Work next week should be social and mildly productive. We all need a break, it has been a hard year in the University sector, and our hearts are filled with hope as the current government starts to tip a bit of cash into an industry? Infrastructure? which has been starved almost to death in the last decade. 

Interesting times ahead, fasten your seatbelt, hang on, we’ll get there. 

So we will hopefully make Christmas bloom with a ride to enjoy the lights. There are some neighbourhoods which go all out and a cycle with friends to take in the sights, have so champagne and get in the mood for the big day should be good. Tropical Christmas, difficult, but possible.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

this is Australia

A bit of Midnight Oil tonight, sitting on the padio and watching the storms.

What a cracker of a storm we are having. Great big lightning bolts and rain, cool, beautiful rain. We went to Stone River for the cycling friends Christmas piss up and flog up a mountain extravaganza this weekend. Hot, I want you to know, it was truly hot. We headed up Mt Fox range at 8 am, a time when any sensible cyclist is back from their ride and having a coffee. Headed out and spun easy on the Mountain bikes to the beginning of the Mt Fox road. I took off ahead of the rest because I figured I wasn’t going to make it and I wanted a big head start. Off I went. Soft sand on the road, the odd big (but dead) snake. Cattle who didn’t know what to make of a cyclist.

If you are cycling towards loose cattle, stick your elbows out so you look bigger. I find this an effective ruse to make them believe they should get off the road and run into the bush. So on I went. I don’t have very much hill experience, and I was really nervous. I feel sick and scared nervous. But I have gears on the Specialized bike I haven’t used yet, so I kept going up and up and up. It is 9 kms with hardly a break. By half way I was stuffed. I was sweating so much my front wheel was soaked with drips. I had drunk all my water, and I had a long way to go. I could feel the heat stress, dizzy and sick and pounding heart. I was having a fear of heights induced near panic attack when a friend caught up with me. He has had bypass surgery and is sensible about what he asks of his body. He said he was ready to turn around, and I went with him.

The decent was very fast, and cool. Down from the rainforest and back to cattle country, with fast switchbacks and my first experience of disk brakes. It was excellent. I used to get hand cramps from feathering the brakes, but the WSD of my MTN bike puts everything is reach for small hands and it was easy. Now I am over the jitters and looking forward to having another go on the MTN bike. Just give me a cooler day.

Back to the camp site and everyone headed for the river for a swim. Now I am fond of my cycling mates, but I let them go ahead of me. We have had some rain and the water was murky. I recon there are crocs in the river system, there is a sign 6 kms from our camping spot warning of estuarine crocodiles, and I believe it. But Aussies believe they are bullet proof, so in they all went, clutching an 11 am restorative beverage I may add. And when nobody got snapped I headed in too. Cool bliss.

We all spent the day in a stupor of heat. I must have been 35 celcius. Not much wind. Everyone gave in to a nap at some stage, and geeze it was hot. Great supper, lots of camp oven cooking, fun and wine. Early to bed, but no sleep. It was just so hot we all just dozed and tossed.

So now we are back home and blessed relief has blown through with a proper storm. The temperature has dropped to about 25, which is cool if you live here. Hope we have a clear start for tomorrows ride though, I have missed my road bike.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bouquets, no brickbats

I would like to offer my humble thanks to the parks staff of Townsville for their kindness. By the time I managed to find a crack in the day to phone about the bikeway they had already organized a bobcat to fix up the trouble spots, and cheerfully took on my request to do a few more after yesterdays near disaster. I am so lucky to live where people are so genuine and hard working. I may have to start traveling with chocolates or something so I can hand out treats on my way to work.

A lovely day today, private schools are finished and already the roads have half the traffic. I don’t know why Australians feel they must drive their kids to school, but they obviously do. I was a neglectful parent who expected my latch key kid to cycle home at the end of the day and be cared for by dogs. He is a man now, but a gentleman who can have a conversation with a dog. I am very proud of him.

Another day, another roll to the dam tomorrow. Life passes too quickly when I am on my bike, I swear it takes 10 minutes to go to the dam (it actually takes me 40). It is just so nice to have the time to centre, to think, and to make the effort to turn the cranks in a perfect rhythm. My universe contracts to a point in space and time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

wet season

I like the wet season, but there are some downsides. The bikeway is a mess. I nearly lost control coming home because two oncoming mountain bike riders forced me to hold my line into a patch of inch deep soft sand. I guess they don't know that a road bike is a different beast altogether. I let out a yell as I fought to stay upright, and to my amazement I did stay upright. I was uber cautious for the rest of the ride. There is a lot of sediment washed onto the bikeway in several places. I stopped and got a number to call from one of the friendly council workers, so I will be on them tomorrow.

It is nice to be settling back into something approaching a normal routine. I am getting more rainmanish as time passes, and I just want to ride my daily route and listen to my ipod. I have had bike setup issues lately, and it is good to be able to make an adjustment, do the usual commute, feel the result and plan the next adjustment.

A decent run to the dam before work. Yes it is hot (I think it was 28 when I left at 7am) but I quite like it. I do have to drink more, and remind myself to drink all day too. Soon school will be out and the bikeways and roads will be more quiet. Summer bliss.

Monday, December 8, 2008


I have been married for a really long time to a really nice guy. We have always traveled a lot for work (him especially), so it is no surprise to find myself home without my best friend, and a bit bored. We had a huge thunderstorm about 4 am to 6 am and everything flooded (again), but with only one driver at home at least the logistics of getting to work sans bike was easy to work out.

Since I got home I got supper in the oven (if I don’t feel like cooking I make things in the oven), tidied around the place, felt the laundry on the line under the house (damp) and washed out the fridge out the back. With a toothbrush to get the fiddly bits. This is what happens when you have nobody to engage in debates about politics, global finances (and my crashing super fund) and the usual stuff of life.

We watched a television program a few weeks ago where a current Australian artist – Bill Leak – was painting a deceased Australian artist, Pro Hart. In an interview with his wife she revealed they had never spent a night apart, and BoaB and I both exclaimed “LUCKEEE!” at the same time. Well that pretty much sums up our relationship. Through years of oil rigs, fire fighting, study, conferences, teaching, volunteering, sports, there has always been home, and each other. Thank goodness we can cycle together.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Nova Scotia

I have it on good authority that the Nova Scotia tourism people are trolling the internet for mentions of Nova Scotia. Well I am from Nova Scotia, and I intend to visit Nova Scotia next year (seeing as about 300 of my immediate relatives live there) and so I invite the Nova Scotia government to make me an offer I can't refuse. The offer should include this cycling kit:

I will be 50 next year, but I have taken very good care of my bum and I assure you it will look good with Nova Scotia written across it as above. A veritable ambassitor for good living in Canada's poor cousin of a province. Don't tell the rest of them we are replete with rum and lobster here, they will just want some too.

Actually, it is ironic that my bum got whipped into shape living in tropical Australia, because Nova Scotians all know that tropical living leads to decadance and decline, as one must suffer the cold to maintain good character. With this in mind I am now considering moving my visit to the old country ahead to late September/October, so I can see the fall colours and suffer a bit of cold. As I sit here in a lather of sweat from the effort of writing this blog entry, a bit of cold sounds pretty good. Did I mention that the air conditioner in on the fritz?

So I hope the Nova Scotian government not only finds this blog, but that they forgive me for taking the excellent Nova Scotian education I received in Nova Scotia (subsidized by them) and using it where people really appreciate it and pay accordingly.

See you in Nova Scotia in 2009. And I hope the Nova Scotian government come through with the cycling kit so I am not forced to buy the poor substitute that looks like this, but is from 'Old Scotia':