For the writers amongst us: Feeling overwhelmed by the current wave of "Must Do" blog-posts? Here's some brilliant writing advice from Robin LaFevers at Writer Unboxed for those of us who really DO want to improve our writer's platform but find it hard to make those giant leaps: http://writerunboxed.com/2012/12/14/a-promotional-strategy-for-overwhelmed-introverts/
View to the N, MtBS
Happy Australia Day holiday to all Aussies!
For those of us in the south, it's cool for this time of year (23C). Those up in SE Queensland and northern NSW are struggling with dangerous floods and heavy weather conditions from the remnants of Cyclone Oswald. Yep, this cyclone packed a punch-and-a-half. Some areas had 24-hour rain totals that were greater than Adelaide's yearly average! Sadly, some people have already lost their lives, many trying to cross flooded roads - why? And so many of these same people were hit 2 years ago from the La Nina floods. Coming on top of a series of extensive bushfires - it's not a great summer!
It's been "Back to Work" week this week, followed by the inevitable "Back to School" week for the students. I'm a little apprehensive this time simply because of the lack of achievement; hoping it improves this week.
On the writing front: I've emailed my entry to the CWA's Debut Dagger award - who knows, eh? I'm fixing up a short story to enter into the Bristol Short Story Prize and writing a new one for the Kernewek Lowenden writing competition. Plus working on my query letters (etc) - that should be finalised on Friday.
View to the NW
Met with The Summiteers (Bush for Life mini-BAT group) at MtBS to douse the seedlings with long-awaited water. Up until a few minutes ago, we'd still had no rain (be lucky if we've had 0.2mm), in fact, we've had no significant rain in 5 months. The Summiteers are a fabulous bunch: thanks Karen, Tony and Steph. We're meeting next week to plot this year's activities. Exciting stuff!
Bird update: Wrens, thornbills (striated, I think, who was telling me off - I apologised), RBFs, spiney, shrike-thrush, babblers (H), sulphurs, y/f h/es, pardies (H), Wes (H), rosies, pies, fantails (H), curras (H) - AND TWO RAPTORS DIVING OFF THE COMMS TOWER, possibly kestrels, could be falcons. [Background: I heard what I thought was a young cockatoo on the tower (squeaky gate-type call) but couldn't see it. Gave up just the second the two raptors dived off the tower - at full-speed. IMPRESSIVE!]
Fauna update: Kangaroo on the Australia Day holiday - very appropriate (driving at the time, so no photo)
Photos: Taken over 3 days (26-28 Jan) The manna gums are shedding their bark at present - looks fantastic! Yes, those are dead/dying correa bushes - the reality of 5 months of poor (or zero) rainfall. I tried to get one of a wren - came out as a small black dot in a tree (not included).
Okay, I'm a bit late for those in Oz, not too late for those overseas!
HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY!
(image from www.fanpop.com)
For some reason the entrance road to MtBS remained closed, so I took the back road and hiked to the old Emerald Mine (no emeralds - sorry - just sandstone for gravel) on the north face of MtBS. I worked from a lower vantage point and managed to get as far as the middle level. Some great examples of the uplift from the fault line - I think I need to access that last level to see it properly.
Yes, yesterday was a scorcher: 43C in Adelaide, 41C here at Nairne. Big fires interstate in Victoria and New South wales, and Sydney having it's hottest day on record of 45.8C (airport 46.4C) and other regions around 44C or hotter. As I write this, the temperature has dropped to the low thirties, but a cooler change means a change of wind direction on the fire fronts. Pray for the safety of our firefighters and those in the affected regions.
Fire photos from ABC Online:
(Aberfeldy pic) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-18/bushfire-burning-in-gippsland/4470352
(roo pic) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-18/kangaroo-fleeing-bushfires-bounds-across-road/4470748
Early morning, west side
Took a day off today to see "The Hobbit." What a fabulous film! Exciting, fun, thrilling, entertaining, spectacular! Martin Freeman is a wonderful Bilbo, Andy Serkis's Gollum is superb, and Richard Armitage is a standout as Thorin. There's the fun scene with the trolls, and great tension between Thorin and the orc king he thought he'd slain. The backstory was well-done - not overdone (thank God) - just enough to understand some of the characters' emotions and decisions (particulary Thorin). The underlying menace of the rising of the Dark Lord builds the right amount of tension. The dwarves are fun and courageous, and the New Zealand, sorry, Middle-Earth, scenery is visually breath-taking - as always. Verdict: BRILLIANT!
The bird list for today: Not a lot, wrens, thornies, y/f h/e, clogs, rosellas. Heard: spiney, fantails, babblers, black cockatoos "blacks," and sulphurs. AND the reason I didn't see so many birds: the appearance of Wes (collared sparrowhawk) in a tree along the entrance road (and with a call almost like a noisy miner - HUH?)
42C tomorrow in Adelaide. 40C up here with extreme fire danger. Pray for our firefighters. It's snowing in the UK and Europe...
Stay cool for those in Oz.
Happy writing (if you can write in this heat)
Totally off my usual topics, but this link is too good not to share.
I really like Mozilla Firefox, but one thing it didn't do well was save pages. It added that awful "_files" folder that clutters up the "saved" folder areas.
Thankfully, the Mozilla gurus have created an add-in that creates an ".mht" file - yep, now all the information is in one file. To nab the add-in, go to:
Wish I knew this before!
Rain! View to the west
RAIN! Yes, it exists! It came in Sunday and we had a whole 12mm! Laughable to others, I know, but that's fantastic after 5 months of ALMOST NOTHING. Hooray! Got drenched walking on the mountain (don't know when my shoes will dry), but who cares? RAIN!
Trees and shrubs (etc) on the mountain looking relieved today (post-rain), too late for some, though, which is sad.
Fires still burning in Tas, NSW, Vic, Qld and now the ACT where a fast-moving fire over-ran the Coonabarabran telescope complex - thankfully with minor (so far) damage to the telescopes.
I'm in my last week of freedom! Noooo! Spent Monday in town - new tyres on the car, catching up with friends (Hi Jules), hunting through the State Library for more info on the Lakes District/Cumbria for the next Dr Finemore mystery, and visiting the museum's natural history and minerals section (I'd fit in well on The Big Bang Theory).
Then it was catching up with Bond: Skyfall is terrific – exciting, fun, tense. Daniel Craig is superb as Bond, Judi is magnificent as M, there’s Ben Whishaw as a young dynamic Q (think Big Bang Theory) – which works(!), and Javier Bardem makes a fabulous baddie.
The Bird Report: Two new birds seen on Saturday (12th): White-browed scrub wren (definite ID on that one), a juvenile zebra finch, and another definite ID on a common bronzewing! WOW!! Seen and heard over the last few days: wrens, rosellas, magpies, thornbills, juvenile GW, y/f h/es, currawongs, RBFs, fantails. Heard: babblers, spiney, pardies, black cockatoos. At Nairne, shrikey's still calling and saw Wes (collared sparrow-hawk) hurtling low across the roof-tops.
I've had the spinebill (spiney) in my garden (silent), and the RBF family again this morning - along with the neighbour's cat! Boy did that get CHASED OFF! I've put in a few more defence mechanisms...hope they work.
A beautiful eucalypt - entrance road, MtBS
Thankfully we've had a few cool-ish days (around 34C), and the firefighters can breathe a little while they set up breaks and containment lines around the fires. Still big fires in Tassie and NSW, a big one burning near Portland in Vic, fires in Qld.
Monday brought another 41C day - and a reminder to animal owners to MAKE SURE YOUR PETS ARE IN THE SHADE AND HAVE ACCESSIBLE WATER. I won't go into details, but I helped move two dogsinto shade and by water. I'm not sure if one had a happy outcome. The other is fine.
Writing - stalled, thanks to above and other mess-ups (the neverending phone saga). Not happy.
MtBs: Watering the seedlings at the summit. Thanks Stephanie who started this earlier in the week.
Birds (over 4 days): Wrens, babblers, thornies, 4 x fantails in one tree (from their behaviour, it looked like Mum, Dad and 2 kids), shrike-thrush, AND...RBFs in my front yard at home (!!), Heard: GW, spiney - and 2 kestrels hunting in the entrance paddock! HOW GORGEOUS!
Hoping Cyclone Narelle brings rain.
Dodge's Ferry, Tasmania
Okay, lagging a bit on the blogging but I have an excuse: 45C in Adelaide, 43C here at Nairne after several days of stinking hot weather. I don't run air-conditioning, so I rely on a fan and the power to still be on. It's also not a great idea to run a computer in the really hot weather, so I've taken up the pen and tried to get my brain working on editing - without huge success.
Photo is from ABC Online:
The biggest worry are the bushfires. South Australia had several large fires in Clare and in the south (near Mount Gambier), but the worst have been in Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria. Most started by lightning (absent in S.A.), with considerable property damage, loss of homes (150+ in Tas), loss of stock (terrible), loss of native bushland and animals.
All praise to our firefighters and their support crews (including admin) for their brave and heroic efforts! The fires are still burning, many still not contained, so we need your prayers for their safety.
Bird report: very few, most are down the mountain (for the days I could get in). A few around: wrens, thornies, RBFs, heard spiney and fantails. RBFs were in my garden (Yipee!)
Happy writing, for when it's not too hot to write
A COUNTRY OF EXTREMES - Southeast fires vs northwest cyclone
The Forcett-Copping fire, near the Tasman Peninsula, photograph Rebecca White (from ABC Online)
The dust-storm whipped up by Cyclone Narelle (off the WA coast) from Nine MSN
The Dunalley Fires, Tasmania, photograph Ian Lim/Discover Tasmania (from ABC Online)
Neil Armstrong: 1930-2012
I've joined the "Ultimate Blogging Challenge" and for my Day Two post, I've included my earlier tribute (from 26 August 2012) to my hero, Neil Armstrong.
Neil had The Right Stuff: he was an engineer, pilot, astronaut, father, gentleman, lunar explorer, and always attributed the achievement to his colleagues at NASA.
A humble man, a great hero.
I include my earlier comments from 26 August (refer to the Archives) which include a great tvideo from NASA.
An unforgettable day.
On 21 July 1969 (Australian time), we were sent home from school to watch the moon landing. Elsewhere, thousands congregated around shop windows to watch Neil and Buzz walk on the moon (my Mum among them); we stayed up until nearly midnight just to watch the Saturn V launch on July 16. We cheered when they came home safely.
NASA: You are the last explorers, the last pioneers. Exploration and discovery must never die. Thank you NASA. Thank you Neil.
The pic is from NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/armstrong/index.html
The final step, the greatest leap, the last frontier.
Rest in peace, Neil. xxx