Wednesday, March 29, 2006

In Search of Lost Time

Sorry if I’ve been a bit quiet for your liking. I knew that I’d stopped blogging, but I got the reasons behind it all wrong.

I thought it was because I was all upset about losing all my stories and documents from my computer, and I thought that I just wasn’t ready to blog while I got myself back on my writing feet. It is true that it has been taking a while to get back into the writing, as anyone who has sat down in front of a blank screen to begin their masterpiece would understand. But that wasn’t the reason why I stopped blogging.

The reason why I stopped blogging was because I momentarily stopped reading Proust in order to read Shantaram, an amazingly true story that was given to me for Christmas by my brother Paul. I highly recommend Shantaram to anyone who is after a massively ripping yarn. But I recommend Proust to anyone who wants inspiration to update their blog. I am, in fact, harbouring a secret theory that In Search of Lost Time was one of the earliest forms of paper-based blog. There is work to be done on that theory, but as I’m only up to the second book in the series I am just thankful that at my current rate of reading, that gives me, oh, many more years of happy blogging to come.

Friday, March 24, 2006

We're fine - and lucky

Palm-tree destruction by Cyclone Larry. Photo from

Contrary to some reports going around, Townsville wasn't hit by Cyclone Larry. We're fine, and we were really lucky. All we got was a bit of wind and rain. The cyclone hit the town of Innisfail, just a couple of hundred kms north of us. The people of Innisfail are struggling without food or water, though supplies are being sent in from Townsville and Cairns. Many of them have lost their homes, the roofs having been blown off in the storm.

If you would like to read all about it, there are lots of news reports here. If you would like to help, there are details of how to donate money here, or you can donate at the Commonwealth Bank.

I am hoping that I can help out somehow, but really I think they need fewer namby-pamby artistic dropouts and more people with useful skills like plumbers, electricians and builders. If you are one of these people, and you would like to go to Cairns to help for six days, you can find further details here.

Our local paper has gone nuts because they are pulling some old general out of retirement to fix everything. That story here.

Monday, March 20, 2006

More about the weekend

This was one of my favourite moments from the weekend, and it actually came nearly at the end, after we'd seen gorgeous natural wonders, beautiful coastline and islands, rainforests and huge gushing waterfalls.

But markets! Fresh fruit! Asian greens! Townsville simply doesn't have a big, vibrant market like this (though there must be somewhere that the restaurants buy their fresh food?) and it was a sight for my sore, sore tastebuds. I don't know how it is that none of this beautiful fresh fruit makes the three hour drive down to Townsville. I just wish I had bought a few more of those bananas. They were delicious, but sadly the rest of the banana crop has been flattened by Cyclone Larry. Damn!

Cyclone Larry has passed well inland, and is starting to lose power. That leaves the residents of Innisfail and the surrounding cane and banana growing area to pick up the pieces. I do feel for them (and of course the bananas).


Townsville is really made up of a lot of ‘ex-pat’ soldiers, engineers and marine biologists so you don’t hear much of a regional accent around here. We noticed the difference when we arrived in Cairns, though. It’s a whole lot more humid up there, and I think that’s what flattens and lengthens out the vowel sounds. It must have rubbed off a bit on me, too. I was out in the front yard just now, airing our tent, and I heard myself tell our neighbours that we “were away keemping on the weekend.”

Lovely time away

Hayden and I drove up to Cairns for the weekend, a couple of hundred kilometers north from Townsville. We thought it would be nice to get away for a relaxing weekend, and see a bit more of beautiful Tropical North Queensland.

This is Mission Beach which is, as we speak, getting whipped by Cyclone Larry.

When we got home last night, the weather bureau still wasn't sure at which point Larry was going to cross the coast. The radio implored us to prepare for the worst, so we stocked up on petrol, water, milk and tinned peaches. I know that the traditional tinned item to stock up on is baked beans, and indeed, the local news showed us pictures of the empty baked beans shelves in the supermarkets. But really, is that the best thing you can think of to eat cold from the can for days, when the power goes and everyone's stranded? No, the peaches are a much better option.

Larry has now been downgraded to a Category 4, so it seems that the worst has passed. I'll be back soon to tell you about what else happened on the weekend.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Clean slate

I have been spring cleaning today. I got my computer back from the shop, and it’s working fine now but I have definitely lost all the documents and photographs off of it. I am determined to make an opportunity of this fresh, blank slate and so cleared out my writing desk as well; I pulled down all the taped up notes and ideas for the old stories I was working on, and organised all my notebooks and pens. And then I moved on to clean and tidy the rest of the house. There.

I found a bag of old clothes pegs that I inherited from my great aunt when she moved out of her apartment on the Gold Coast and into a rich-old-lady’s retirement home in Melbourne. I love the colours of these pegs. They must have started out all brightly coloured, but they’ve faded beautifully under years and years of Gold Coast sun.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Stuck in the house again

The last two days I have been trapped in the house by depression and hot weather, but today is different. I am trapped in it by the need to shower.

This morning was a touch cooler than usual; it stayed down at 28º (82º F) until after 8:00am. I was so pleased to put off my morning walk for an hour, partly for the joy of dawdling my morning, but mostly for the welcome indication of autumn’s approach, that soon I will be able to be out walking at any hour of the day I please. But this morning when I got back to the house, the workmen who have been digging ditches in the footpaths of our street had turned the water off, until 2:30pm. They told me that there was a note about it in my letterbox. I looked there, and saw that that was true.

Four hours later, I’m still in my sweaty walk-wear and I’m beginning to get thirsty. There is just one hurdle before I can give in to my desperation to get out of the house and find myself something to drink, and that is the need for a shower. Anyone who has lived in a humid climate will understand.

It is getting boring though, sitting here waiting for my own will to crumple. I wonder when I’m going to give in?

Salvaged some photos!

These photos were - mercifully - saved on the camera while the computer went bung.

This is the one I was telling you about before:

And this one shows the gathering gloom, just one hour later:

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Apologies for the bitterness yesterday. I was having a bad day.

Today seems better. It is another one of those clear, crisp days that remind me of being in a ski resort town. You know, a ski resort town where thongs, shorts, singlet tops and palm trees are de rigueur. I just look out on the fresh sparkly gentleness of it all and it makes me think that I want to do some good in the world.

But that thought is nearly immediately checked by the second thoughts that (a) I don’t have any of those skills (medicine, carpentry etc) that are needed to fix the world's troubles, and (b) anyway, some horrible person has sat down and very deliberately written a computer program to destroy my tiny laptop and everything that I have done on it.

Ok, not finished with the bitterness yet. But soon. I’ll see you tomorrow.

Monday, March 13, 2006

There was a photo taken of Hayden and me, on the shore of Lake Taupo, just before everything started going wrong. It’s a self-portrait, Hayden took it with the camera on the end of his arm, and those shots usually work out really well for us. In this one, we’re both looking tanned and healthy. Hayden is staring straight down the camera and looking so sure. I am leaning against him slightly, and I look tired around the eyes, and my hair’s everywhere in the wind and it looks greasy. It is greasy.

We were down at the lake on a reconnoiter, the day before the Ironman. There are other photos from that sequence: of Hayden staring out at the waves and getting all freaked out at how large they are, and how rough, and of the cloud formations and the rain coming across the lake from the south. Everyone kept telling me that the southerlies always blow through quickly and the weather could change in half an hour. At that moment, I didn’t realise how much I should be worrying about the weather. Also at that moment, I didn’t realise that my computer was contracting a virus and that by the end of the next day these two big things that we had been working towards, the things that we moved to Townsville specifically to focus on, would be in tatters.

I think I might have mentioned a couple of times how worried I was about Hayden doing the Ironman. And I should have been worried. It is a ridiculous race, and even though it was greatly shortened due to the rough weather, Hayden was able to get a fair idea of its demands. He’s pretty exhausted now, and he’s been left feeling hollow because the big event that he was training for, the big thing that he was working towards, was cut in half and handed back to him. So I was right to be worrying about him. But what I regret is the way that I totally let my worry for him blot out any kind of concern for myself. I must have thought – though I don’t really remember - that just because I had allocated all my available worry towards what Hayden was doing, that there was no way that something bad could happen to me. So when Hayden asked could we bring my laptop along so that he could download his heartrate data onto it I totally agreed.

Now my computer is broken, I’ve lost all the writing I did over the last two years, I’ve lost all our photos. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. I know that I should be out there looking for some crappy admin job to earn money to buy a new computer, but all I’ve done is get season one of The OC from the video shop, and I’m watching the episodes end to end, lying on the lounge room floor eating chocolate. I was slightly pissed off at first, because I didn’t manage to get the whole of season one, only episodes 17 to the end, and I’ve seen those. Episode 17 is pretty much exactly where I started watching the show, in October 2004, just after I bought that laptop, just after I followed Hayden back to Melbourne, last time I didn’t know what to do with myself. Yeah. Irony.