December 2011

As promised at the end of last month, I have put up the pictures of the river in last month’s photos page, including a short movie of how fast the water was moving. Certainly not a flood level, but definitely a change!

The ride-on mower has had a real workout lately. Along with me using it, Pete, who owns one of the horses, came in to ask what we had been using to cut the grass. When I showed him the mower in the shed, he said, “Oh, that old thing. Is it still running?” Ah, yep. When he returned it, he remarked that for such an old machine that usually receives virtually no maintenance, it does an exceptional job. No sooner had he put it away than the property owner came in with his son and the son took it off to do some work around the house. I have also used it well, cutting the grass around our campsite to keep it well and truly short. Even so, just as I was finishing today, I was about to put the mower back in the shed and right in front of me was our friend, the brown snake. It looked like he had come out of the long grass in the direction of the dam, pretty much the same as last time, except that this time he was still on the move. He moved even more when I approached on the mower and disappeared down the burrow where the rabbits used to live.

In the photos for this month, the mini dump point really is just a hole in the ground, as well as Kelly bravely protecting us from the marauding neighbour. She was just hanging around, waiting for another handout, as we had just fed her some of the outside leaves off the lettuce in the fridge.

Just a week or two ago, Julie drove in through a “creek crossing” on the driveway through the paddock (the one you see in the webcam picture). This week, the car tyres were kicking up dust! I have also figured out that our existing entry and exit route through the other paddocks can’t necessarily be relied on, as the standing water in one of the gateways can be up to 6 inches deep and quite muddy. So I looked at the gateway between our paddock and the “public road” down the side of the property, where we drive the cars in and out. I enlisted the help of Wolfgang, our nearest neighbour, to cut some branches off the tree adjacent to the gateway, and then successfully took the bus out and in again. It is nice to have an alternate means of escape if we ever need one. Our biggest threat here now is a bushfire.

Julie’s visit to the Ear Nose and Throat specialist resulted in a call from him to say that given her results, he should be able to run up some documentation to demonstrate that much of her hearing loss can be attributed to her military service. We may yet be able to get some hearing aids for a reduced price.

Angel has fully recovered from ingesting something in her nose and is back to her old self. The usual, sometimes the lights are on, sometimes not. She also had her 2-monthly trim and we were surprised that her skin is quite dark in places, but her hair is mostly white. We haven’t noticed this before, because she’s never had quite such a short cut.

Julie is now officially a country girl, albeit with many caveats, after she followed me through thick grass and down through a dry creek bed, to take a look at the wombat burrow that I have been describing to her for months. Wonders will surely never cease! No wombat, just the burrow, which is definitely a current residence, because there was a trail of dried mud that extended quite a distance from the entrance.

We have also decided to test out the theory that putting all of our waste water down the rabbit (and snake) burrow adjacent to the shed will dilute the smelly stuff sufficiently that it won’t smell. After 2 days and yet more rain, so far so good.

Our 8th anniversary is coming up and both of us have actually remembered it this year. We have made a reservation for lunch at the Cork St Cafe, which is all of half a mile up the road. It’s very popular, even more so at this time of the year, and we needed to book.

During this month, the horses were moved into the front paddock that includes the tennis court. To keep them out of the house garden, Pete put up a temporary fence. When I caught up with him several days later, he was doing more on the temporary fence and mentioned that so far, they had ignored the pseudo electric fence, and that hopefully they would respect the fence once it had some electricity flowing through it. Meanwhile, they’d had a field day in the house garden!

We’ve decided that we probably won’t be going anywhere for Christmas this year, as Julie is working right up to Christmas Eve, as well as the intervening days between Christmas and New Year. We’re already camping and it’s not really worth the hassle of packing up and driving just to stay a couple of nights.

The picture of all of the vehicles together is known as “Storm Stations”, as we wait for yet another storm to descend on us, from the South West this time. Update: Of course, the storm went all around us, but Julie came home to say that the weatherman had said that this has been the coldest and wettest Spring for 56 years. Yay!

Updates: We have now put the waste water outlet down the hole where the tree fell over, to hopefully put the smell a bit further away. Testing continues.

We celebrated our anniversary today. 8 years, wow, such a long time from 2 scared kids turning up to the Las Vegas City Office to apply for a marriage licence.

It’s now been 4 months since the car accident and my back is still not right. Over a week ago, I must have picked up a migraine in my sleep, because I missed all of the early warning signs. That then sent all of the muscle groups down my spine into spasm, resulting in a crippling pain in the damaged lumbar area. There are days when having a shower is the highlight of the day! I did manage to get in to see the chiropractor the next day, and he was pleased to report that it was all muscular and that I hadn’t undone any of his structural work.

I came home from work yesterday to run into the aftermath of a very strong storm cell that had just dumped its load of rain on Gundaroo. Water flowing strongly across the main street in 3 places.

Also flowing down the ditch past our neighbour’s place and through the pipes under their driveway. Water about 6″ deep on the “public road” and about 8″ deep on our driveway track through the paddock.

Our campsite had a small swimming pool in the middle and water was pooled UNDER the bus. One point where our green mat is laid out is a big dip in the ground underneath, so we have a brick at that point to remind us not to trip on the hole. The hole was full and the brick was underwater.

After I’d put the Zook in 4WD, I drove down to look at the walking trail by the river, and immediately came back and put some shorts on, and went out barefoot to take some pictures. The track down to the river viewing area was 2 rivulets coming together.

Further down the walking trail, the water was cascading out of one paddock into another, then over onto the trail and falling not very far into the river, which was close to running a banker.

The webcam captured the whole afternoon, but unfortunately, the images have been lost along the way.

And another storm. The new car decided to throw up an Emissions Control Sensor warning light. The manual says that if you continue to drive the car in this condition, you can do serious damage. Added to that, Julie said she had used nearly 1/4 of a tank getting from home to work, in a car that can get up to 700km from one tank. So rather than trying to drive it home and back, we took it the nearest Holden dealer and it will be locked away in their workshop over Christmas, until they can work on it next week. They are in Belconnen, so we took the direct route home in the Zook, via Gungahlin and the back road. We literally drove into the storm cell and out the other side on the dirt road, with the front hubs locked and 4WD engaged, through water over the road in numerous places.

Back in Seattle, Duncan is starting to lose his front teeth, so Julie had sent him a message about the tooth fairy. A few days later, she was talking to April and Duncan via Skype and mentioned that the tooth fairy had come to talk to us and had been very upset that she couldn’t make her way up through the sink drain, as she had done the previous time. Julie had to explain that she had put some oil down the drain that night and the fairy ended up with wings that wouldn’t work for quite a while! Not a happy tooth fairy! Of course, what Duncan doesn’t know is that it is probably almost exactly the same story that she had told April some 20-something years ago!

We have also started a garden. An upside down hanging one. I hacked the bottom out of 2 Costco Mango Nectar bottles, filled them with potting mix and planted one with a Grosse Lisse tomato and the other with a Sweet Red capsicum. A couple of days ago, on the way home, I stopped on the main road where the dirt has washed off a market garden onto the road and collected half a bucket of soil, lovely red sandy stuff. That went in on top of the potting mix and helps to keep the water trapped in the potting mix. So far at least, the plants are still alive.

Following a “quiet word” from Julie’s employer, we have stepped up the process of getting her hearing analysed properly and looking at appropriate hearing aids. We have been waiting for some 6 months since Costco opened here in Canberra for them to employ an audiologist. We’ve now made an appointment at the Melbourne Costco in late January to start the process. When I called the doctor and told her, and asked whether Julie could have the Friday off, her reply was, “absolutely”.

Christmas Eve, and Angel managed to get on my shit list. Twice, she wandered off down what we have dubbed the “yellow brick road”, aka the driveway track, and out through the gateway. After the first time, I closed the gate. On her second attempt, she went under the closed gate. Normally, I can call her, and after she has thought about it for a while, she decides to come back, and she receives an ear scritch or similar. On her third escapade, she decided to go out through the gate and completely ignored me. She got picked up by the harness and carried back with no dignity whatsoever. Daddy was not happy!

And again on Christmas Day. This time, she went about 50m down the public road! See second photo. She almost fell out of her harness, so I had to carry her the usual way.

Several days ago, I was walking outside barefoot. When I do that, I am very careful about where I step, but this time, I tripped and planted my left foot right into a thistle. This one is similar to a Scotch Thistle, except that it grows horizontally. Most of the thorns brushed off OK, but one had embedded itself into the middle of the main pad of the foot. So of course I got out the magnifying glass and needle, and had a poke around, successfully extracting a thorn. But it still didn’t feel right. More digging was unsuccessful and we ended up going to the chemist and buying some Magnaplasm. I remember Doris raving over the ability of this stuff to draw out foreign objects. An overnight application of it, followed by more digging, was performed 3 times altogether. After the second round, I could see another spot right next to the current excavation that appeared to be a good candidate for the remaining splinter. Finally, after the third round, I managed to get to it, and extracted a thorn about 5mm long! That’s nearly 1/4″ for the non-metric folks. It’s still sore to step on (and almost impossible not to), but we figure that’s probably just the muscle tissue underneath needing time to heal. Of course, none of this limping and hobbling has done my back any good either.

Meanwhile, horse training continues in the next paddock.

And we round out the year with a classic picture of Angel doing her version of a guard dog. She was sitting at the end of the driveway, looking like she owns the place, but for those who know her, it was simply one of those occasions when the lights are on but no-one is home.