Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Smoke and hard starts

Geeze I am off the boil. People (who don't cycle) admire me for getting out there most every day, and I do, but this morning it was hard. I just wasn't in the mood, and then I checked the emails to find out the bush around the campus was on fire. A quick crane of the neck off the front deck and yes, my destination is a wall of beigey grey roiling cloud. And it was cold.

I didn't want to get on the bike. Lucky we only have one car, and I hate taking the bus, so I got on and off I took. Chill wind through my jersey. I can smell the smoke already. OK, I'll stay on the north of the river - the fire is south of the campus, and I'll go the short way. But I got to the turn off and I felt stubborn about my 30km acceptable minimum, so I held my course to the bridge.

I'll cross to the south at the bridge and then decide. Not too bad, big chunks of ash as I turn towards the Uni. I climb up to Angus Smith Drive and the lines of flame are almost to the ridge line. There is a strong wind off the Mountain - Mt. Stewart starts his day with a mighty exhalation most mornings, and warm ash is hitting my cheeks. I stubbornly stick to my usual route, (the southern loop) giving me about a half pack of cigarettes equivalent on my ride, and I arrive at the office smelling like a campfire. But that is OK because the map library smells the same.

It wasn't much better coming home, but I did my full ride. I was pleased to be able to drop my 30kms into my spreadsheet. I only ever regret NOT riding, I am glad I don't have a car, and a choice.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

what you are used to

My sister called me at work today. She is just back from the old country and wanted to say hi. I had just showered, and was checking my email while putting a lecture on a memory stick and wolfing down a PB-jam sanger. I had about six minutes to catch up. And so the day went, frenetic.

My sister amused me by being surprised that she ended up wearing our Canadian sisters winter clothes the whole time she was in NS. "I thought July would be hot" she said. Well it is, compared to Canadian winter! By tropical North Queensland standards it is winter. This is the time of year our weather is the same, except we are freezing and they are hot. So look for me in a few weeks on the Loop. I'll be the one in the arm warmers at noon.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

back to normal

Tomorrow is my trainee Katrin's last day at work. I feel so sad, she is one of the best cartographers I have mentored for a long time. I get one (or two or three) trainees from Germany every year. I am very popular because I have a busy and dynamic workplace next to the Great Barrier Reef and Tropical Rainforest. Actually, I am really popular because I give my trainees very challenging work, good training, a bicycle and support when they return and start their thesis. OK, and I live in paradise.

I am a bit stressed thinking of how I will cope without a talented sidekick. My job is bigger than me, but really, I don't owe the University the slave labour that has kept the cartography centre going for the last 10 years. Maybe we need two Cartographers.

I am going to the International Cartographic Association week long Symposium on 3D Cartography in a few weeks, in Dresden, where a lot of my trainees have come from. I am hoping to see some of the 13? (I have lost track!) trainees I have hosted in the last 10 years. It will be very special. Hopefully I will meet next years trainee(s). I do love mentoring talented young people. I am just so lucky.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

cross training

This weekend has seen little by way of cycling. One fast trip to the dam was it. It was 7 degrees Saturday, and knowing it was going to be that cold I wasn't even planning to get out of bed and on the road by 5:30 am. So instead I slept in, had a couple of coffees and some breakfast, and wandered out into the warmth of a sunny patch of the yard.

Standing around your yard on a cold morning with a hot coffee will eventually consume your day. Everywhere I looked there was pruning to be done, weed patches, overgrowth. So I went in the house, put on some gardening clothes, called for a skip and got stuck into it.

I pruned 9 foot hibiscus to waist high (on me that isn't very big). I tore out the tibouchina, well, I pruned it ankle high. It spilt in two one night last year and has looked a wreck ever since. There is nothing more empowering than tackling an overgrown, post wet season tropical garden with a big bypass pruner. If I use one arm of the pruner against my hip and two hands on the other, I can cut through about 2.5 inch caliper branches.

BoaB, observing all this activity, tackled the dense thicket of ferns and sansivaria that used to be a garden and cleaned it right out. Wheelbarrow loads into the skip. Then we picked up all the palm fronds (enough to thatch a good sized beach hut). Sawed off infloresences from palms. This will spare us dealing with the fruit and seedlings. After the wet season they are huge, and came crashing down with crushing force. Some bromeliads may have been bruised. I could barely lift them up to get them to the skip.

Today there was more pruning, cleaning up, weeding. My shoulders and arms ache. My yard is looking a lot better. I have reconnected with the garden. I am excited about planting out, arranging pots. Deeply at peace.

There is more to life than just cycling. Winter is letting me enjoy that bigger world.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

nifty fifty

Well I turned 50 on Tuesday, and so far nothing has fallen off. If you are in Townsville DO NOT eat at the Watermark, it used to be really good but that chef has obviously shot through. It was very ordinary, if they were on masterchef they'd have been sent home

And for Ant - noooo! not Justine! I'll miss tonights elimination as I am going to a burlesque show. I really don't know if I am old enough to go to a burlesque, but I guess at 50 nobody will ask for an ID. I am a bit of an innocent though, may be a bit educational.

Winter has returned with strong cold south west winds. It is really hard to get moving in the morning. I actually gave it a miss on Wednesday and took my birthday bouquet to work on the bus instead. It is very floral in my office, the lillies are over the top! But it is cheery to have the flowers right there all day and I am getting good value having them on my desk.

I would now like to make an announcement. Today I FINISHED working on the maps of the vegetation of the Wet Tropics bioregion. All done. All 54 sheets. Finished. Only took two years. If Ant has time on his hands he can see me present a paper about the project at the SSI (now SSSI - don't ask, I am too annoyed) conference in Adelaide the end of September.

Now hopefully I will have time to actually write that paper!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

on the road again

An unexpected side effect of the hypergalatic V8 supercar circus was that by around noon today, there was hardly a car on the road. In a city of 150,000, almost half that number went to the races, and the rest stayed home for a nap or something.

I was at the LBS wirh BoaB getting the bad news on repairs (but we are very well insured) and we had the place to ourselves, which we commented on with surprise. Then we looked out at the busy main street where the shop in located and it was deserted. I was supposed to do a few errands with BoaB, but the desire to ride won out. He took me home, I kitted up, wolfed a small repast and took off to the dam. He went to buy me potting mix (I get through about a thousand litres of potting mix a year, I swear) and find an o-ring for the bore pump. I got home first and was hanging laundry when he returned.

"That was quick". Yes, you are married to superwoman. It was a rare day with a tail wind most of the way to the dam, and a fitful changing wind on the way back, so I held 33-36 both ways. So I had a pretty good day at over 70kms all up. Now before you feel impressed, as soon as I came home and had a snack I fell over and had a nap, and spent the whole day in a stupor.

I sure would like to be fit enough to ride and stay awake! I manage it at work, but at home I am hopeless!

If I put off vaccuuming for one more day I will be able to claim we have a shag carpet, where we used to have hardwood floors...

Friday, July 10, 2009

the V8s

Yes, we have the V8 stupid cars in town this weekend. I have nothing against racing at all, but I have yet to be convinced it was worth 25million of taxpayer money. If they let us race criterion on the track all will be forgiven though.

So the streets are clogged with excited muscle car fans, and I have vowed to stay on the bikeway until they all go home again. This weekend is looking like Fatty's 100 miles of nowhere, but on a larger circuit. Since BoaB got knocked off his bike yesterday, it looks like it will just be me and my Ipod. You have to wonder if the woman who ran into him was in a thrall, thinking about race cars. Who knows. He is doing OK, in a scraped up, sore and stiff sort of way.

I haven't blogged much lately, and you can blame these folks.
I know you were expecting me to blame these folks:

But the truth is I like doing cycling more than I like watching it, and the show masterchef has me in a thrall. I do love to cook, and I spent great swathes of my career in food service, filling in the gaps between contracts back in good old NS. So I relate to the chefs and I enjoy seeing what they produce under pressure.

So this is a quick catch up to say sorry! But I hope I don't have any news over the weekend, what with the V8 fans and all... I noticed the entry rail to the bike way at the end of the next street was a twisted wreck on the way home...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Indian summer

The TV weatherman just referred to our current weather as Indian summer. Now there is a term I haven't heard in a long time, and didn't really expect to hear in the tropics. But it has been warm and lovely, and even though I just pinched this image from the web, this is just how sunset looked this evening. Of course you only get to see sunset at the beach here if you live on the western side of Magnetic Island, but I digress.

The weather has been perfect all week. 14 C minimums (I do think that is chilly!) and 28 C max. I personally think 28 is exactly perfect. The citrus is in bloom, and sitting here with the French doors opened wide I can smell the sweet scent of the Tahitian lime. The breeze is cool, but soft.

It will all change tomorrow. The influence has been from the north (why didn’t I get a job in Darwin?) but tomorrow a cool change will switch the wind direction around and the arctic southerlies will dominate. Lucky for me I work a 4 week cycle that gives me every 4th Friday off. I work that day anyway, because I sit a lot of committees and have to be away from the office, and I figure it is fair to trade that against my day off, but not totally. Before the blast of cold arrives I will have a warm run and get to the office a bit later, but with a lot more kms on the bike.

8 C Saturday morning! Time to break out those fleecy Louis Garnault tights!