Monday, 1 September 2014

Jottings from the Tropics: 1 September 2014

It's been months.

I could scroll down and check just how many months have elapsed since I last posted*, but I'm embarrassed about my neglect of this blog. Let's just say 'posts were not posted' and move on.

Anyway, how have you been? You're looking well. No, that's enough. Back to me.

Surprisingly little has happened since whenever it was**. It rained a lot. Then it stopped raining. Then it started raining again. And now it's clear and sunny, mild by day and freezing at night***.

I get visitors every now and then.

First there was this one.

Nap time in the hall

Then this one.

It's a box turkey

And mice of various types, but they don't like having their photos taken. They must be up to something.

Assuming that the 'something' isn't nefarious, I'll be posting more often. If I don't post more often, send a mousetrap and cheese.

Stand by.

* I looked. Six months.

** Six months. 

*** Literally. Altitude beats latitude****.

**** On a couple of nights. Mostly it's not freezing. 

Saturday, 1 March 2014


I spent a lot of time thinking about the title of this post. I wanted to get it just right.

Haven't been posting because time got away from me. Sometimes I'm super-organised and efficient. Sometimes I'm super-disorganised and inefficient. If only I could average this out.

I don't know why time got away from me because nowt much is happening here. I might be forced to make up stuff to create the illusion of a vaguely interesting life. Oh, the bush stone-curlews are plotting to take over the world and a rat melomys is so obsessed with scratching its way up through floorboards that I have to wear earplugs if I want to get to sleep. And each evening the green tree frog, which lives in the laundry tub and has its own special water bucket, waits for me to open the window of its choice so it can go for a wander in the garden. It returns early in the morning via the gap under the door. At least it lets itself in. It has some manners. And we might get a cyclone next week. But apart from that there's not much happening.

Here's evidence of the stone-curlew uprising. You have been warned.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Jottings from the Tropics: 9 February 2014

Next to one of the windows is a big shrub much favoured by the possums. They use it as a ladder to get to and from the roof, where they spend hours chasing each other across the corrugated iron and trying to rip away the chicken wire from the flue. The shrub also provides snacks. One of the possums has a favourite branch. It lies at the centre of a denuded sphere exactly one possum's reach in radius. I wouldn't be at all surprised if there's a bum groove worn into that branch, but I don't feel like checking.

Last night I noticed that the younger of the two possums had her nose pressed against the window. She was perched — precariously — on the narrow window sill. I thought she was attempting to break in. (For some reason possums always want to get into houses. And then all they want to do is get out again.) But she was edging along the sill, systematically eating all the beetles that had been attracted to the interior light. Shuffle...crunch, crunch, crunch...shuffle...crunch, crunch, crunch...and so on. These are big Lepidiota — brown cane beetles — also loved by green tree frogs, which leave the processed evidence of their eating habits all over the place.

Well, you can imagine what happened. This possum edged along the sill until she came to the end. Instead of backing up, she attempted to turn around. Little Poss used to do the same. She stood up, felt herself slipping, clawed desperately at the glass and then, with a wide-eyed look, dropped out of sight into the vegetation below. I was relieved to see the shrub shaking as she made her way up to the roof, where she could be embarrassed without an audience.She stepped very quietly across the iron that night.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Reading Year: February

January's book-reading blitz went surprisingly well, so here are February's titles. Since there are fewer reading days, this month will be more cramped. Still, that's what makes it a challenge.

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
The Beans of Egypt, Maine by Carolyn Chute
All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra
Havana Blue by Leonardo Padura
Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver

The Fishing Fleet by Anne de Courcey
Spanish Steps by Tim Moore
Persian Fire by Tom Holland
The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver
The Lawless Roads by Graham Greene
Hell's Gates by Paul Collins

The book spider will be keeping an eye (or eight) on my efforts.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Reading update: still going strong

The spider tells me I'm doing quite well. I am currently reading the books in bold

The Confidential Agent by Graham Greene
The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin
Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
Cross and Burn by Val McDermid
Watch Out for Me by Sylvia Johnson
My Island Homicide by Catherine Titasey

Le Freak by Nile Rodgers
Eureka by Peter FitzSimons
The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper
The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane
The Butterfly Isles by Richard Bakham
White Beech by Germaine Greer

It's going to be interesting to read the Val McDermid book because one of the recurring characters has my name. If you're a regular listener to ABC Radio National's Books & Arts Daily, you'll know why.

Quick impressions
The Confidential Agent: I didn't enjoy this as much as other Graham Greene books and I'm not sure why. It could be the setting or the claustrophobic plot.

The Impossible Dead: You know where you are with Ian Rankin. This is a Malcolm Fox novel. I don't think the character has had time to settle in, so he's not as colourful as Rebus. There's a very promising ensemble cast, so I'll be reading more.

Over Sea, Under Stone: Parents in children's books are so irresponsible, letting their kids wander off all the time, facing supernatural (and natural) monsters, discovering the Grail, etc. Lucky kids.

Watch Out for Me: This by a friend of mine. It is written from multiple viewpoints with intersecting time lines, which I found intriguing. I'm fascinated by stories that play around with plotting in that way. It's not easy to do.

Le Freak: I've mentioned this before, but Nile Rodgers has had a heck of a life. The story concentrates on his (hair-raising!) childhood, but really takes off when he starts talking about his musical career from Chic onwards.

Eureka: I don't know that it's possible to retell the story of the Eureka Rebellion in a completely fresh way, but I did enjoy this version by Peter FitzSimons. Lots of colour, lots of detail.

The Tall Man: Devastating story of the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee while in custody on Palm Island. I strongly recommend this one.

The Old Ways: Macfarlane has an eye for detail and a very fine skill for description. I wasn't sure if I was going to take to this as much as I enjoyed Roger Deakin's books, but I did. Now I want to go walking along the old roads, but not the Broomway, which runs offshore on a tidal mudflat on the south-east coast of England. That's crazy stuff.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Potter wasp update

This second wasp nest was in an inconvenient spot, so I removed it. I had thought it abandoned, but there was a single larva inside, dangling from a thread. The larva was alive, but the nest had not been provisioned with food.

View from inside the nest
I wasn't sure what to do. I couldn't stick the nest back on the wall and the the mud was too crumbly to glue to a glass microscope slide, which would have let me watch the wasp's development inside the nest. So all I could think of doing was placing the larvae in another wasp nest. I'm not sure if that was a good idea or not. Perhaps there's a way of making an artificial nest to observe development?

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Update: Books wot I have read

I have consulted with the book-counting spider and here is the current tally. Books in bold are the ones I am now reading.

The Confidential Agent by Graham Greene
The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin
Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
Cross and Burn by Val McDermid
Watch Out for Me by Sylvia Johnson
My Island Homicide by Catherine Titasey

Le Freak by Nile Rodgers
Eureka by Peter FitzSimons
The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper
The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane
The Butterfly Isles by Richard Bakham
White Beech by Germaine Greer

Until now, there has been no change to the configuration of book stacks on the desk/floor/other flat surfaces, because those four now-read titles are e-books. But Watch Out for Me is a yer actual paper book, so things will start changing.