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Sharing with reptiles

I'm sitting here in the pre-dawn gloom, water is falling out of the humid air and dripping from our roof. The tropical  morning clings and embraces me with an intimacy that you have to learn to welcome. Just above me our newest reptile friend is hanging and I guess keeping me in its eye.

Last night we discovered we had our first (known) snake in the house with a small, possibly 30-40cm carpet python having set itself up above the computer alcove. During the night it seems to like to hang over the edge holding its relatively large head at the end of several loops with the remainder of its body counterbalancing it in the metal trim to a panel of ornamental corrugated iron. During the day it seems to withdraw into the trim and keep a low profile.

Graeme and I are thinking about our new house guest. Should we be concerned? What if it disappears from its current favourite spot and we don't know where it is? Lovely to have it now but will we feel the same way when it grows?

Got to thinking about our other reptile house guests. We have geckos everywhere. Perhaps we should warn them about the python and its possible gecko appetite. We have a gorgeous golden coloured skink who lives under one of the settees and comes out at night, all confiding, while it hunts bugs that fly in our open doors.

But a snake?  I'm working on it!  If we give it a name I suspect we will be hooked. These pythons are relatively common and our neighbour owns a house in the next street which has a carpet python resident in the ceiling.

The weather has been exceedingly wet and the monsoon has been, well, monsoonal. The thought occurs that other snakes might be seeking dryer lodgings.  So batteries in torches to be used when getting out of bed at night, seem a prudent move. As much as I like making my way around the house in the dark.putting lights on might be the way to go.

I believe Australia is out there somewhere

Sometimes I reflect on the connectedness or lack of connectedness I have with mainstream Australia. Our little town can become apparently isolated by road from the rest of Australia as this picture illustrates.  Most years for a few days Coomalie Creek rises across the main road into town. This picture was taken last year but this week the creek has been aFlooded Coomalie Creekt these levels causing disruption to people coming and going into town.

The isolation is more metaphorical than actual however, as there are alternatives. There is another road being upgraded and sealed. this year, however, this work is held up because of the rainy season and the alternative road is closed.  Now there is yet another road that you can take that runs westwards through Litchfield National Park and then becomes unsealed, crosses the Finnis River and heads toward Darwin via Berry Springs . This alternative I think  is very difficult in the rainy season and makes the journey to Darwin somewhere near 200km instead of 100km.

I also find it fascinating that looking through the lovely arch of the trees I can make out the level crossing where the transcontinental railway from Adelaide crosses the Batchelor Road. The Stuart Highway which also links Darwin and Adelaide is some 200metres further on. Way out of site and some 5 to 6 kilometres overhead is the flight path of many international flights into and out of Australia. Domestic flights are somewhere early on their descent into Darwin or close to reaching their cruising altitude when they pass over this crossing.

Now I enjoy this crossing and the last thing I want it for anyone to assume that by pointing out the relative isolation of our town that I would like the bulldozers to widen and raise our beloved Coomalie Creek crossing. No way. No. The Coomalie Community Council has done the right thing by choosing an alternative road to upgrade to 'all weather' status. I support the keeping of as much of this riparian
 plant community as we possibly can.

Looking through that arch in the trees and letting my minds eye travel onwards and eastwards I believe that the rest of Australia, or should I say the only Australia that the vast majority of Australians know, lies strung along the Pacific Coast around 2000km away, with very few people living in between this archway and their cosy living rooms. I say I believe that Australia is out there. Sometimes I wonder, though, how many of them, Australians I mean, will even think to believe or care to believe that we are out here?

But there again we have some of their uranium and they are already here to get that.  I wonder how long it will be before they turn to schemes that would steal our water to support their lifestyle?.
Today, 13 February 2008, will go down in history as a milestone day in the recorded history of the peoples of this land. The parliament of the nation called Australia will apologies, through the Prime Minister, to the Stolen Generations of Indigenous people.
The text:


Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australian.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have changed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country.

This apology follows the events of yesterday when the opening of the new parliament involved a 'Welcome to country' from a traditional owner. Both the Prime Minster and the Leader of the Opposition have stated the intent that 'welcome to country' will open all parliaments in the future.

This is a proud week for this nation.

A latter day part time life

Just before Christmas I got my wish and was put on a 0.6 contract. Since returning to work I am looking for a way to make this work for me.

I am dealing with two levels of difficulty:

  • My workplace is currently very much understaffed and there are things that I feel I can't avoid picking up and doing even though I am now working significantly less hours. This morning for example I am aware that there is a meeting to be organised for next Tuesday and I haven't done anything about it. I am conflicted about logging on to work even though I have already had to swap my usual day off because work required me on Monday. This will all be eased when my new Division Head starts work next week and he can get other new staff on deck. So the tunnel has light at its far end but for the moment my new boss says he is relying on me. Sometimes I wish I was very much less reliable.

  • This is my second stint at part time but it is very different. I turn 61 next month and I really have put in place a transition to the non-working last phase of my life. Last time I did part time it was not as final a feeling as that. Even though I am blessed with 'young' genes and most people I meet take me for ten or even twenty years younger, I am struggling against a sense of ageing in a way I have hitherto not experienced. What I am longing for is for is my workplace to get a bit more organised and staffed up, so that I can get on making a limited contribution and begin dealing with the rest of my life and actually putting flesh on the thoughts I have for my remaining two to three decades. I have emotional work to do in reconciling the youth that springs eternally with the ageing that springs less willingly.
And there is much to do:

  • Fixing up the cyclone damage to our house.
  • developing my priorities and skills in the new shadehouse
  • growing and building a tropical garden of spiritual, emotional and physical delight
  • getting back to photography
  • will I ever write?
  • pulling together with my partner in writing the Darwin Entertainment Centre Quiz Night (5 weeks away)
  • building the small yoga based exercise group I have started in our little town (480 people as per the 2006 Census)
  • loving our friends
  • showing myself and our friends that I too can cook
  • spending time with my father who is a mere 3000km away
  • building a great relationship with my partner Graeme into something greater
  • staying in touch with my family, including my children and my wife
  • maybe starting a local gardening group
  • finding ways to be more active in the local community
  • finding a dialogue with others on a latter day earth-based spirituality
  • staying healthy and keeping my compromised heart beating appropriately and competently
No doubt I am very much closer to letting go of a mission of world salvation and well on the way to self centred old age where I can do all these things because I want to and because they bring me joy, and not because I am responding to some insistent but inscrutable drive.

Oh well

Good News

Isn't it nice how sometimes good news comes in a small crowd!
Telstra has turned on ADSL at out local exchange
I look like going part time next year with lots more time for myself
We got new tyres for the ute so we can fees safer in the Wet
I booked to go and see my father just before Christmas
I took more than five photographs in the last month
I am blogging .. in a fashion


Cafe Mardango Open Tonight

Daisy is doing a Chiang Mai barbeque tonight and friends Pat and David will join us. Apparently Minky (David McMicken of Tracks Dance) might arrive too. If he does we will be seven for a sumptuous meal. Daisy's partner Glen came over to get the bbq going and once it is hot it will be transferred to the middle of the table for our gourmet dining pleasure. So we will be six or seven if Minky turns up.

This is the first time we have had Pat and David here for one of Daisy's meals.
Sweets, I believe will be refrigerated backed cheescake and chocolate coated strawberries.

A hot tropical night in Batchelor, fine food, fine company and good Australian wine, Cafe Mardango at its best.

Work is a health hazard

I'm sitting here, early tropical morning, too early. rugged up in tee shirt, cardigan and fisherman's pants tapping away at my keyboard. It is just gone 4.30am and I should be asleep. I do think that even though it is around 22 degrees C and 92% relative humidity that I am feeling it to be cold because I have woken stressed.

The roosters next door have started their crowing at regular intervals and work things are haunting my thoughts.

I am having to make some hard decisions or perhaps they are just too easy. Here I am back at work and it has all gone wrong. They love me too much and expect me to do too much. My boss has retired and the process to replace her will take at least a couple of months yet. Our work team has been decimated with some other departures and I am in many ways left covering for all sorts of people. I'm too old, too experienced and too capable and people are beginning to use me up, because I can do things, solve problems and get things done. But maybe it is just me that is getting done.

These situation are always hard. I like the people I work with. I love being the person who works with the Executive to get things done but really they are letting me down by not having taken the time to get a new Head in a timely way. I am now just waiting for the end of my contract in five weeks. I am going to say little more. Just go. They can offer me something else that I can manage and I will consider it!

I have been putting off booking a flight to see my father just before Christmas just in case work needs me. Stuff it. I will book the trip.

I can feel my health slipping and while 60 is not really that old, it is old enough when you have cardiomyopathy and chronic depression, not to want the stress and responsibility which is coming my way. That's not why I rejoined the workforce. It is what drove me out of it six years ago. I have to get back in control of what is happening to me at work or I will crash.

Darwin Pride Cancelled for 2008

I have just heard the sad news that Darwin Pride 2008 has been cancelled because nobody is prepared to put the work into organising it. The Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council (NTHAC) has pulled out of being the auspice as they no longer see it as their core business.  I actually agree with that and perhaps this cancelling might encourage some people, not previously involved, to come from the woodwork?

All praise must go to those who over the years have struggled to overcome apathy like this to put on great Pride festivals. I congratulate them. They have done a great job. This is a sad day for them and for GLBT people in the Top End.

I need to think about these things a bit more, this is breaking news and I may probably have more to say. Why aren't I volunteering? Well as usual I would be very happy to add my input and perform or even organise an event but the overall organisation requires someone who is a sixty year old living 100k out of Darwin and who drives up and down that road enough already.

And it seems to me that there is too much of the community stuff that is left to people people of my vintage or getting there. Where are the young ones? Why has there been such a  yawning split occur between the boys and the girls?  Like so many I guess it is all too easy to say it is all too hard.


Changeable blogger

My blogging seems to come and go in many ways. I can't always understand it myself.
Currently I feel like perhaps being a little bit more explicit in the things I say so am actively blogging on my 'justusboys' blog. I am finding justusboys to be an interesting 'community'.

Life in a small town can be so busy. Interestingly this was not something I said at the weekend but it was said by a beautiful older woman who is a long term resident of our town. It did however, echo my sentiments.

We were both at a house warming party being given by our mutual friends on Saturday night. The party and all the celebrating guests were about ten kilometres out of town overlooking the Eva Valley. This was pretty much a straight affair, not unpleasant but not really engaging as far as interesting conversation went for either myself or Graeme. Perhaps it was a lost opportunity to meet with some of the more rural locals. Graeme had taken his keyboard and he played some occasional music.

Now I pause to explain that the house is elevated to about 3 metres height and consists of two portable accommodation units placed side by side with a huge breezeway built between them. So this party was taking place under the new house and was a barbeque. Music was the host’s wish and everyone was invited to do something musical, although this was left to a few. Our host, optimistic that people would stay late had also invited that we bring a swag. Well we did, we threw it on to the back of the ute. But in the end the swag remained unopened and we sought home as the place to be for the night

At the end of a long dry season the surrounds to the house were dusty, waiting for another early shower or storm to clothe the ground with barely controllable green. There were cattle in the paddock below the gaping hole that will become the dam, designed with a causeway out to its centre where our friend can sit on a pontoon under an umbrella, glass in hand. At least we gathered that this was part of her vision. And because it is sufficiently camp we agree that is a great vision for what is currently a dusty bush block.

And so back to the story about small town business. Early afternoon yesterday we got an invitation to a meal with another straight couple. He is our neighbour and she owns and runs an accommodation business on the other side of town, Rum Jungle Bungalows. And so, Sunday evening we were out too enjoying a very pleasant meal and matching conversation.

When the old Rum Jungle Club reopens soon as a bistro, it will be long awaited but not as you might think, as a venue to quench our thirst for places to go and things to do. We shall have to add it to the list and see if we can squeeze it in.