Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cyberstalking Bianca

We have a new hobby.  We call it "Cyberstalking Bianca".  This isn't as dodgy as it sounds.  This week we've learned that a cyclone called Bianca is headed our way. See that line where the cyclone's path hits land?  That's where we are.

Every week seems to see Australia copping some "one in ten/twenty/thirty... year" extreme weather event, many of which have devastating consequences.  As a result we have become somewhat weather-obsessed.  The last big cyclone hit this region in 1978 and resulted in the loss of five lives, coastal erosion and widespread damage to property.  Bianca was predicted to be severe and to bring high winds which would cause this region's fire danger risk to go from "extreme" to "catastrophic".

For the past few days we have been following Bianca's progress towards us online.  The weather system has delivered us a run of incredibly hot and disgustingly humid weather - daily highs in the mid-thirties and overnight lows in the high twenties - peppered with electrical storms and a few torrential showers.  I find the high humidity the toughest thing to handle and difficult to find respite from; the sort of air conditioning our rental home has does not work in humid conditions and sitting in the garden is a no-no as Mandurah is currently experiencing an extreme plague of disease-carrying mosquitoes. 

So in what we hoped wouldn't turn into an "evolution at work" situation (like people going down the beach to get photos of an incoming tsunami) we headed to the estuary for a swim, to sit under the shade of a tree and to catch what little breeze was on offer.

The water was as glassy and calm as I've ever seen it.  We were happy just floating or swimming but others found ever more inventive ways to cool off. 

The sky became more and more ominous.  When the thunder and lightning started we headed for home.

Since then we've had cycles of torrential rain, high winds and some eerily calm times.  As the humidity soared I had another desperate poke at the air con system and discovered a fan only setting which gave at least a little respite.

This morning I fired up the computer early to again cyberstalk Bianca and see how long before I should bring in the bins and outdoor furniture.  But Bianca has all but gone.  Just like the many events that were cancelled due to Bianca's imminent arrival, the cyclone warning itself has now been cancelled. 

I can't say I'm disappointed but this will mean that I'll need a new hobby.  A more likely scenario is that I'll return to my old hobby: cyberstalking real estate listings.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My latest favourite place...

I know I said my favourite place was Soldiers Cove.  Well that was for kayaking.  At this time of year Mandurah looks mighty fine so picking just one favourite place would be silly.  I figure I'm allowed a favourite place for each activity I do - so walking slowly, walking quickly, reading novels, reading non-fiction, eating ice blocks, eating ice cream etc.

Tonight when my partner got home from work we went for a walk on a stretch of beach very near to our house. (I'm pleased to report that the patient is no longer a patient; he back to his old working, driving, walking-fast-for-miles self again.) 

This is what it looks like where we went tonight.


Can you see why it is now my favourite place for wandering along while wondering what to cook for tea? (Which tonight, strangely enough, was sausages.)

Time to go home.  No doubt I'll find another new favourite place tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Galah o'clock

Who needs an alarm clock?  Not us.  (Turn your volume up as high as it will go and you'll still only get a smidgen of the true effect.)

Instead we have this charming young visitor at 4.30am most mornings.  What we used to call the "rusty bedsprings bird" is actually a young galah. The only way it shuts up is if one of its parents pokes something down its cakehole.  Have to say, that particular specimen isn't our favourite garden visitor.

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's a sign

I'm a shocking collector of stuff but I've been trying not to accumulate too much stuff while living here.  This has been made easier due to the tragic fact that apart from op shops (plentiful and not too bad) and one shop selling some nearly new furniture, there is not a single antique, bric-a-brac, collectible, junk, mid-century, retro, vintage or plain old secondhand shop in my new home town.

But I have been collecting something.  The signs of a place tell a story and here are a few from my collection.  Some of these signs perplex us, some amuse us and one saddens us that it even needs to exist. And in case you are wondering, no we haven't been to the restaurant above and yes we still have two children. Every time we drive past that sign those children shriek "Tastes like chicken!".

Mandurah has obviously had a plague of golfers at some stage as these signs are on every bit of public grass bigger than a doormat.

The signs below are common here and have interchangeable panels with "speeding", "seat belts" or "drink drivers".  Over the holiday period this one was edited by someone who I suspect wasn't actually a policeman.  Apparently one in a nearby town was altered to say "fat chicks".  Naughty!

Sadly in this already dry area which has just recorded its driest winter on record, arsonists do exist.  Last week some git set fires along the edge of a major road just south of here near Lake Clifton.  The fire ripped through 2000 hectares of bushland, destroyed nine homes and killed countless domestic and wild animals.

A local business is offering an additional reward.  Good on them for that and for giving me a new favourite phrase.  Hopefully Lake Clifton residents will be able to rebuild their homes, restore their area and again enjoy living in a "lively hood".

And finally, when I fall off my perch, I want one of these below. Imagine a do where attendees crack funnies and everyone goes home with a sore face from all the chitchat and laughing. Irrepressibly chipper people will say "Well at least she went doing what she loved most", which in my case means I'll have carked it in a freak needlework accident.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday at Soldiers Cove

We've been trying out various places to muck around in the new boats. 

Ideal places:
a) are not too far from our house,

b) have parking space near a publicly accessible boat launching area (surprisingly tricky to find),

c) have nice shady spot on shore for the non-kayakers,

d) are safely removed from boat and jetski traffic and wakes ("jetski" has become a dirty word in this house...),

e) are sheltered from strong winds and currents,

f) are relatively contained so that if someone decides to have a rest from paddling and just drift along "enjoying the serenity", they don't get swept or blown to Africa while their mother has kittens back on shore,

and g) give us the chance to spot interesting wildlife. (These pelicans don't really have a miniature village on their island.  I've just accidentally taken a Things Bogans Like-style strange-perspective photo.)

Today we went to a place called Soldiers Cove.  It ticks all the boxes. The cove is sheltered from the main boating motorway by a peninsula reserve covered in samphire plants which is home to many birds. 

After a while the children had a break from kayaking to pretend they were pirates who have walked the plank and must swim to the nearest island.

I took my chance to take off in one of the boats and properly explore my new favourite part of Mandurah.