Monday, June 16, 2008

Power Crisis

Middle of winter. Cold. Everywhere. Feet, legs, fingers, nose. I spent most of yesterday's writing session at Karrinyup Writers' Club wearing gloves while I wrote. And the reason for all of this?

In Western Australia we are in the middle of a critical gas shortage. The supplier of a third of all the gas used in the State is out of action due to an explosion at their plant on Varanus Island and it will be some months before the plant can be repaired. This in turn means a power shortage because the gas is used to produce electricity as well as supply gas to businesses and homes. Businesses are struggling with inadequate supplies and are faced with sending employees off on leave or standing them down. The Government has appealed to householders to use heaters as little as possible, cut down shower times and do the laundry with cold water. Add in the fact that it is winter and cold and we are not in a good place.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Big Strong Men

All dressed up and locking the house on our way to lunch yesterday and I heard my neighbour calling me. He and the landscaper had found a blue tongue lizard (really a skink but known locally as a bobtail goanna) curled up hibernating under some of the bushes they were about to pull out.
I called back, "Just pick it up by the neck behind the head. It won't hurt you."
Neighbour points to landscaper. "He can pick it up. He's got gloves on." He did too - great thick workman's gloves.
Landscaper, "I'm not touching it."
"It won't hurt you. Even if it tries to bite, it can't hurt you."
Neighbour and landscaper look at each other, at lizard, back to each other. Neither makes a move towards the lizard. So I go and pick it up and release it in my garden, more than happy to have it join the resident population which has lived and bred there since we moved in. They help control slugs and snails and if the odd strawberry goes their way it seems fair payment.

Sadly many people are afraid of these fascinating creatures. They do have a fairly effective scaring mechanism where they open their jaws wide, exposing a dark blue tongue and deep pink mouth while raucously hissing but it's all show. They have fairly strong jaws for their size - they only measure about 30 cms full grown - but they are highly unlikely to bite. They are timid and just want to be left alone to go about their business.

Yep, It's Definitely Winter

We've just had nearly a week of glorious days - sunny and warm after a chilly (by Western Australian standards) night. A good thing too as the Council is having its Green Waste Clean Up in our area with roaring chain saws and crashing branches everywhere all weekend. We had relatively little to prune - only six wheelbarrow loads - but I filled five large boxes with couch and onion weed and feel full of virtue. The vegie garden is still a waving pasture of weeds but, given the demands on my time over the last year, that's only to be expected. I miss being able to wander out to pick vegetables for dinner just before I start cooking. Time for positive steps. I'm seriously considering borrowing some of my neighbour's hens and setting them loose in there. Who knows, I might score an egg. Then sheet mulching and an order of sheep poo.

Today there will be no gardening. A severe cold front came through during the night and is still blustering away. Each time I look outside another potted plant has fallen over. I'm glad I picked the roses last night. The few I left on the bushes are already badly battered and bruised.

The other thing I see as I look out is no trees. The house behind us has changed hands. It has been badly neglected for years and the new owners are trying to restore order. Nearly all the trees that lined the back fence have had to go. They were planted much too close to the fence and each other and over-run with star jasmine. I would probably have done the same thing in their place but, oh, the birds. The jasmine thicket provided food, shelter and nesting places. Dozens of birds made their homes there - at least seven different kinds of honey eaters and wattle birds, not to mention visiting mudlarks, willy wagtails, magpies, ravens, butcher birds and parrots. We will put creepers in and a trellis of some sort but it will be years before the nesting and food sources can be replaced.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

And Yet More Success

Today it's another Clarion mate, Daniel Braum, with a flash fiction piece, Houdini's Grave, at the Daily Cabal along with some other good reads. He has another piece in their archives - A Picture of Zurich. Look here for a free read. There's a steady stream of stories coming out from this group. I wonder if all Clarions are followed by such a spate of creative productivity?

And just for fun - with thanks to deepfishy for the link - a visit to the exact centre of the Internet. Try it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Successes from Clarion South 2007

Yet another of my fellow Clarionites has a story published. It's getting hard to keep up with all of them. This time it's Peter Ball, whose story On finding the Photographs of My Former Loves, written at Clarion South, is in Fantasy e-zine. I loved it then and still do. To read it go here .