Thursday, 26 February 2015

Weather matters

We have gone back to having very hot sticky days with still no rain.  I should not really complain however as at least we have power so can use fans and air conditioning.  Our office area has the air conditioning running all the time to keep the computers cool.  Jock beats us up the stairs to be let in and gets quite indignant if we are not going there!  He likes his creature comforts!
 The poor souls in Rockhampton and Yeppoon and areas around there which were affected by the cyclone are really struggling.  There are still over 40,000 people still with no power and may have to wait at least another week before being reconnected.  Temps in the area are up to 36 degrees Celsius so I don't know how they are managing to keep any food safe for eating. Unfortunately some lowlife have been stealing generators which have been donated/lent to victims.  I think anyone who is caught will have the book thrown at them
When we thought we may be in the outside path of the cyclone we had to think what we would do about food supplies - and decided to do nothing, thinking we had left it too late  anyway.  We were not really concerned as we did not anticipate being without power in our area .However many Mackay residents did rush out and panic buy.  I find  it  fascinating to see what people put in their trolleys in those situations.  The supermarket shelves were almost cleared of toilet paper and frozen goods.  I am not sure why you would buy frozen stuff if you are expecting to be without power for some time.  Our dilemma in these situations is that we normally eat very little processed food and dislike most of the tinned processed food available.  I hate buying stuff only to throw it out uneaten several months later.  At present our generator is not working so we would not even have had the benefit of that!  We were certainly lucky.
The weather is certainly behaving in a crazy way.  this is the end of February and the inland areas of Queensland are likely to have temps in the mid 40s during the weekend - that is unheard of.  They are in a dreadful drought out there as well.  Some places are in their third failed wet season, they must be really desperate by now.  I am so glad we do not depend on the land for our living, but I wish we could send some rain out there.
The Garden Friends committee had a meeting with Council officers a few days ago and we all came away feeling much more positive about the future of our Gardens.  The Council officers sound like they are on the same wavelength as us, now we just have to hope they can persuade the elected Councillors to agree.  Time will tell.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Mackay dodged the bullet - again!

We have had an interesting couple of days here, and once again Mackay has been extraordinarily lucky.
On Thursday morning a tropical low which had been hovering in the Coral Sea to the northeast of us, deepened into a tropical cyclone, but only a category one, which is not very strong.  It was travelling south east on a path which would have it crossing the coast well south of us.    We were aware, but did not take any precautions as we did not need to do anything at that point.  By mid-afternoon it had deepened to a low category two, still moving fast in the same direction, so we still did nothing.  By 6pm it had suddenly deepened to category 4, and was moving slightly north, then by 7 pm it was category 5, with 300 km/hour winds at the centre!  It was still due to cross the coast south of us, but we were in the light red zone which would give us pretty strong winds.
We decided we had better take down some of our hanging baskets - quite a funny exercise for anyone watching!  They are heavy and Bill had to stand on a ladder (only low) with me balancing the bases on my head as we tried to lower them onto the  ground!
We have a very strong house so were not worrying too much about structural damage with the cyclone to the south of us.  Thank heavens it went further south, very fast, and crossed the coast about 300 km away, fortunately in a remote uninhabited area of the coast.  There was still a lot of damage to Rockhampton and Yeppoon, but the cyclone had weakened in intensity then.
This was a really strange cyclone - usually they take a couple of days to develop, nobody can ever remember one deepening in intensity as quickly as this one did, especially as it was moving so fast.  We can't control the weather though.
Mackay has been threatened over the years by cyclones, but the last major cyclone to hit Mackay was in the 1950s, and before that I think the 1918 cyclone was a particularly deadly one.  It wiped out over half of Mackay and killed a lot of people.  I suppose one day our luck will run out and we will have a devastating one cross here - I hope that is many years away yet!
Now we just have to hang the baskets again!  I discovered one heeded lots of attention as it was full of mealybug which I could only see when I peered closely at it on the ground.  I have repotted some cuttings, but we will wait for our six foot tall 21 year old grandson to come in the hang the other baskets/

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The gremlins have been at work

I wrote a post on Sunday which I thought I had finally managed to publish after a lot of fiddling around.  Now I discover nothing happened...grrrr.   My Magic software is wonderful in that it magnifies everything so I can read, but it sometimes has a mind of its own and hides bits - like the publish button!
Never mind, I can write it all again.  We had a very successful visit to Townsville last week - amazingly there were no holdups  because of roadworks! There has been enough rain for the countryside to look lovely and green, but the proper wet season monsoon has not yet arrived so the  water supplies have not yet been replenished.  Looks as if that may happen this week.  Far North Queensland has been drenched with days of very heavy rain which is now  moving south.

We were so lucky last Saturday.  Our wonderful curator of the Botanic Gardens is moving on and we were holding a farewell function for him, mainly in open air.  We dud have plan B and really thought that would need to occur when we were continuing to get very heavy showers till about 4.30 pm.  Then the sun shone  and we had a perfect afternoon and evening.
We are all devastated that Dale is leaving, he is so passionate about the Gardens and has worked so very hard here.  He would actually have liked to stay another couple of years, but the position of curator of Mt. Coot-tha  Botanic Gardens and the heritage CBD Gardens in Brisbane was offered to him.  That is a once in a lifetime offer which he is so lucky to obtain, so of course we wish him well.  I hope Brisbane really appreciate what a gem they are getting.
Of course now we have to hope our local council will advertise for and employ  a new curator with botanical knowledge, rather than just a parks manager!  This has been a problem with some of our councillors think our Gardens are a waste of money - they are not apparently generating sufficient income. Time will tell, but the Friends committee is meeting with some of the managers in Council who will be selecting the curator to put our point of view across.  Lets hope we can influence them.
 Our garden at home is looking very green and lush, but very overgrown.  Bill is gradually getting his strength and energy back, but is not able to do much heavy pruning and lifting  yet.  I can't weed properly as I can't distinguish properly what is a weed till I have pulled it out. then discovering it really was a plant I wanted to keep!  So we have a tropical jungle.  The birds are happy, I hear the little honeyeaters singing away, even if I can't see them properly.
I think I had better see if I can get this to publish, Magic keeps leaving spaces where I have typed letters and I have to keep clicking the mouse over them to make the letters show up.


Saturday, 7 February 2015

Finally - a new post for a new year

I think I am at last getting my act together and managing to read blogs again - I have missed you all.  I have some software called Magic on my new computer which allows me to magnify the text hugely so I can read it.  I have to scroll a long way across each line and then back to the beginning of the next line and some of the fonts I find very hard to read, but I get the gist of most of it.  I also have a very fancy keyboard with extra features for the Magic, all very helpful.
Mostly life continues quite normally, I can easily do all the boring bits, washing, ironing, plain cooking - it is the interesting bits which cause a problem.  One boring bit which I really dislike is that Bill has to come supermarket shopping with me.  He hates shopping and I hate being hurried up when I am trying to work out which product is what I really need!  However every couple of weeks he drops me at the local large shopping centre where I can wander round the shops for a couple of hours, then do the supermarket shopping in peace and ring him to come and collect me.  For the first time in my life I like large shopping centres!
2015 looks like being a very good year.  Bill has been unwell for over two years now, getting steadily more exhausted. losing muscle strength, unable to walk far and definitely unable to do any outside activities.  For an engineer used to doing all his own repairs and gardening etc that has been very dispiriting,  We have spent a fortune going from one doctor to another, every test he had showing he was perfectly normal, with the doctors scratching their heads for a solution.  Finally Bill started googling symptoms, coming up with ticking boxes for Myasthenia Gravis.  There is a blood test for that which he had done.  In the meantime a friend came back from holidays and said Bill had the same symptoms as a friend of hers who suffered from side effects from Crestor, a cholesterol lowering statin.  Bill threw his away just over a week ago and is feeling heaps better already!  At least we know he does not have any fatal illness or heart condition after all the other tests.  We will see a neurologist next Wednesday but the symptoms of myasthenia gravis are part of the side effects according to the GP so should continue to fade.  We will both check our medications much more closely for side effects in future.
The neurologist is in Townsville, a 5 hour drive north of here.  I have found that I can really enjoy the trips through the countryside as I can still see a general view, even though the fine details are gone.  We have close friends up there so it is a good excuse to visit them as well - make a holiday out of a necessity.
I have been to a couple of concerts which I can still enjoy, even if I can't see the performers very well.  I have learnt that in future for opera I will need seats much closer to the stage however.  One benefit available to me because of my disability is that Bill can get in free as my companion - there is something good on every adversity!
This is enough rambling for the time being, but I promise I will be back as soon as I have something interesting to report.