Sunday, January 29, 2012


Last night the cat decided that I needed a change and converted my desk top image from the one that came with the computer to a blurry black ace of clubs on a white background. I hated it. Not that I was all that enamoured of the one I had - it's apparently called Leopard aurora - because it contains a lot of purplish pinks which I actually don't like but leaving it took no thought or effort so there it stayed. I've had this computer for 18 months and it has all my own photos as well as the wallpaper photos from my previous one on it - and I haven't been inclined to summon up the energy or spare the time to put an image I like on something I look at every day.

I have now.

My current image is this photo I took of some of my zygocactus in full bloom in 2008.

A photo as small as this doesn't do justice to these glorious blooms, each of which is bigger than my hand, but on a large computer screen they are nearly life size and breath-takingly beautiful.

So why was this simple step just too much effort for such a long time? Well, as always, there are multiple reasons - and while they are all genuine, really it amounts to just procrastinating. It took me all of ten minutes to play around with a range of photos and try them out and even with all the demands on my time I could have done that long ago. Realising this, I've been spurred into exploration of other possibilities in many areas of my life. On this computer alone there are at least four applications I've never investigated. Maybe I won't find them useful but at least I'll know the possibilities. Who knows what new things I'll find out.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

In Case You Thought I Was Exaggerating

After a week when most temperatures were on the high side of the mid thirties Celsius (except for one that dipped just below 30℃) - about what we expect this time of year - we have been hit today by 38.2. For the rest of the week things are getting even hotter it seems. The forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology for tomorrow (Wednesday) is minimum 24 maximum 40, Thursday min 26 max 41, Friday min 25 max 39, Saturday min 26 max 42, Sunday min 24 max 40, Monday min 23 max 40 Tuesday min 24 max 40.

Temperatures always peak in the first and second weeks of February so I'm guessing there is more of the same - or worse - coming. Look out South Australia. It's coming your way soon.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Summer - Or Why I Believe Climate Change Is Real

It's summer. It's hot. You're probably thinking something along the lines of 'Well what do you expect' and I understand that. The thing about summer in south western Australia is that when we say hot we mean over 35 degrees Celsius with 38 degrees not uncommon. It starts in December and continues into March. I know there are many places which are hotter - north western Australia for example where I used to go for work - but that doesn't make up for the enervating effect of day after day of grinding heat. Yes, many of us have air conditioners but they only work indoors so every time we have to make a dash from say the front door to the letter box the heat blasts us. It's like opening a door to a furnace or a very hot oven. The gardens shrivel as the leaves burn to crisps and, if you have a vegetable garden as I do, you spend a considerable amount of time daily in the late afternoon or early evening hand-watering the thirstiest vegies because we have permanent water restrictions for most of the year.

If there's one thing that convinces me that climate change is real it is how our weather has changed. Actually I don't mind dry heat. I was born in a heat-wave and it seems to have preset my thermostat to be able to cope with higher temperatures than many can but humidity is another thing entirely. There was a time when our summers were hot and dry and our winters were short but wet and we had only a handful of hot, humid days, usually in February. It's different these days. Our summers are increasingly humid without any lessening of the heat and we are getting a lower rainfall in the winter. We've always had occasional droughts but now we continually struggle to fill our dams - they are more often half empty than half full.

The way I garden has had to adapt to these changes and I now have very different criteria for plant selection with drought tolerant and native species being favoured with the exception of the vegie patch. There I put up shadecloth shelters to protect exotics like lettuce but even that's not always enough. After today's heat much of the chive bed looks like it's a layer of straw and even hardy plants like flat leaf parsley have had tender bits seared to white. I'm not ready to give up on the pleasure of fresh food from my own garden but it gets harder every year so I will enjoy it while I can.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I just found an exquisite little frog sunning itself on the edge of the pond. Not much longer than the first joint of my thumb (approximately 3 cms), slender and delicate with lengthwise narrow brown stripes over a soft creamy beige body, it lives up to its common name of the slender tree frog. More properly it is Litoria adelaidensis.

I'm afraid I can't show you a photo because by the time I came back it had gone. Maybe it realised if it stayed much longer it would shrivel up into a dehydrated remnant of skin and bone. After all it is 38℃ out there at the moment. This tiny frog is the first of its kind I've actually seen in the garden although I often hear them. This was a baby - they usually grow to 6 cms.

There are in fact quite a few of these frogs living in the garden along with several other kinds. We have western green and golden bell or motorbike frogs - if you've ever heard them you'll know why (officially they are Litoria moorei), moaning frogs (Heleioporus eyrei) and something that sounds suspiciously like a water holding frog (Cyclorama platycephala) but can't be because it's not found in this area. They don't all live by the pond. The moaning frogs burrow and particularly like the vegie patch. Makes digging there somewhat nerve wracking but so far - fingers crossed - I haven't hit one. There are several motorbike frogs resident in the water bowls of self watering pots and others who just make homes for themselves among the plants themselves where the moist potting mix is enough to stop them drying out.

On summer evenings when the cicadas join in the cacophony of frog calls the noise in the garden is deafening. On the other hand, in winter when the cicadas are tucked away, the the slender tree frogs and motorbike frogs are quiet except when the motorbike frogs emerge from their hiding places when it rains. Their screams if the dog startles them have to be heard to be believed. Dog makes occasional rushes at them while the frog shrieks its way to safety. I'm not sure who is the most upset of the two. Winter is when we hear the moaning frogs plaintive call from their burrows too.

Given the rapid decline in frog numbers worldwide due to a fungal disease which literally smothers them by growing on their skin I'm delighted to have a pond full of tadpoles and such a healthy population of frogs living here.

If you'd like to find out more about these frogs you can see some photos and hear their calls here.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Retrospective 2011

If 2010 was very curate's egg 2011 was even more so. Personal issues were time consuming and stressful.

There was surgery for both Pisces and myself. That devoured much of the year one way and other and, of course, deciding to go ahead with major home renovations at the same time was a tad stressful too.

Then there were the deaths, two of which happened within days of one another, which added to the overall feeling of pressure.

But there were good things too: three engagements, a marriage and a pregnancy all brought great joy. As well I renewed some old friendships which has added much to my life.

All of this meant my writing has inevitably been impacted on although I write on if slower than I'd like. My second novel is more than half written and there are stories and poems doing the rounds too. I continue to blog at Egoboo WA.

There are big plans afoot for 2012 in many areas of my life but I'm not going to jinx them by listing them. One of the things 2011 has taught me is that we can plan what we like but whether it will work out that way is definitely not in our control.

So my goals (apart from the big plans) for 2012 are:

Write every day however little.

Finish the second novel and get on with writing the third in the trilogy.

Sub often.

Catch up with friends.

Take time to dream a little.

Get the rest of the renovations done.

Sort out and book for our travel adventure. That's the reward for the industry required for 2012.

Sounds do-able. It'll be interesting to see how it all works out when I come to review my life again in January 2013.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

'Tis That Time OF Year

when we look back at what happened in the previous year and think about what to aim at for the next so I'm glad I came across this recently. Can't remember where unfortunately.

Bronnie Ware spent many years working with palliative care patients and she has made a list of the five biggest regrets people have as death approaches. It's sobering reading. I think while I'm making my list of resolutions this year this will be be part of my considerations. It will still include a plan of aspirations - and it should - but I will looking seriously at my lifestyle as well.