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Monthly Archives: August 2009

The last provedore

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                                     provedore  n. someone who provides supplies for a ship.

My role models in life have always been men with no frills who do not hesitate to get their hands dirty in the process of making an honest living.  This is a brief tribute to one of them.

I once knew a Provedore.
An occupation proudly announced on his simple business card.
His name was Arthur.  A large, quiet, and amiable gentle man, who, in his seventies, would never have entertained the idea of retirement from his one man business.

Arthur would never be seen without his trademark well-worn khaki shorts and shirt, greengrocers apron, two-wheeled trolley, a limp, and a rusting and rattling little flatbed truck which, on the outside, looked  almost as old as Arthur himself but was probably not.

He would come to the Saturday Rusty's markets in Cairns looking for the best quality fruit and vegetables from Atherton Tableland growers which he would then take back to his little warehouse stacked high with recycled vegetable boxes, before sorting it all out and delivering orders to ships berthed at the wharf.

Small ships.  Coastal trading vessels which ply the channel inside the Great Barrier Reef serving all the remote communities North to the tip of Cape York Peninsula.

We were proud that he chose to buy our sweet potato, taro, cassava and yams.

Occasionally his payment cheques would bounce, because you see, Arthur was, first and foremost, a Provedore.
Accounting and the management of money came in a very long last in his list of priorities.  We were always eventually paid the full amounts, including the $20 bank bouncing fee, in cash.

One day around the end of the last century he collapsed and died, surrounded by fruit and vegetables, in his warehouse.
A body worn out by a life of hard work which just refused to travel any more miles or carry any more boxes.

I think he would have liked the final curtain to fall like that.

My Collins Dictionary no longer includes the word Provedore.

R.I.P. Arthur Dun, role model, friend, the last, and the very best of Provedores.

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Turkey stew

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(I swear everything in this story is the truth)

All of Australias native birds are protected species, possibly even budgerigars, but as they are too puny and cute to be of much culinary or gastronomic use I will exclude them from this discussion.

This bird is definitely protected.  A common scavenger for food on the rainforest floor, it is extremely ungainly and noisy in flight and has difficulty gaining altitude.

Many years ago, before World Heritage listing of the Wooroonooran National Park, our family of three, me and Mrs GOF with little Globet strapped to her front in a Mei Tai sling, would take our aged Ferguson tractor of French manufacture down some old and disused logging tracks to cut firewood to burn in our Carmichael slow combustion stove.

The tractor had a vertical exhaust pipe sticking up in front of the driver.

One day, a scrub turkey in astonished flapping confusion propelled itself out of the undergrowth, flew into the exhaust pipe, and dropped to the ground dead. Stone motherless. Expired. Deceased. Bereft of life.

( For the benefit of any grammatical pedants or linguistic purists, I wish to point out that in the previous paragraph my use of the words "flew into" refer to the collision which occurred when the exhaust pipe exterior provided an impenetrable object in the flight path of the bird.
I was not intending to suggest that the turkey "flew into" the aperture or orifice of the pipe, a highly improbable scenario indeed given that the diameter of the turkey was significantly larger than the internal diameter of the exhaust pipe.  Also, remembering that the pipe was vertical, any possibility of this novel act occurring would have required "plummeting" rather than "flying". 
Clearly an action not indicated or insinuated in the original text.
Good, I am glad we have cleared that up.
Now, as you may well have lost the plot by now, please continue, with GOF contemplating what to do with a dead turkey on the ground next to his tractor.)

Not being greatly endowed with cash at the time, we interpreted this event as being a sympathetic and charitable food drop from God, which clearly out-trumped any currently enforceable fauna conservation statutes put in place by Man.

The turkey was accordingly prepared as the primary ingredient for a delicious stew.
Very much later that evening we just knew we should have followed the original old timers scrub turkey recipe;

"Place the turkey in a large saucepan,
  together with an old leather boot.
  Boil for 10 hours.

  Discard the turkey.

  Eat the boot."

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Botanica …….Spring is here

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New frond emerging from a New Guinea Cyathea spp.

Bromeliads are beautiful.

With a very handsome new season unopened pitcher.

Another bromeliad (probably var Costa Rica)

This is the first sign the rainforest gives me every year that winter is over.  A colonising species on the edge of the forest is the first to send out new white shoots which gradually change to green.

I love springtime.  For me, Winter is tedious and nothing grows.
This year has been by far the warmest winter in the 26 years we have been here.  Coincidence?

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When music changed the world

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I have often been critical of my own generation, the baby boomers, for its inept political and environmental management of the planet. 
It does however also deserve some plaudits for the fresh injection of energy and innovation it brought to the world.

This is my own very personal recollection of events as they happened in Australia.  It may lack a broader objectivity, but it is the one I will happily carry with me for the remainder of my life.

Elvis Presley began a tidal wave of radical social change in the late1950's by facilitating worldwide acceptability for "black music".   His radical gyrating stage antics sent legislators into a frenzy looking for ways to prevent an entire generation from coming under his influence.

Too little, too late, gentlemen.
Your restrictive censorship barriers were unacceptable to us.
We, just as much as you, had the right to read "Lady Chatterleys Lover", and watch and listen to the music performers of our choice.

Meanwhile, four unassuming young men were growing their hair long and entertaining small audiences at the Cavern nightclub in Liverpool with music that would eventually change the world forever.

Australia clambered aboard the bandwagon of Beatlemania like no other country on Earth.  Hundreds of thousands of fans closed down entire capital city centres when the group was on tour in 1964.  Scenes which are unlikely to ever be repeated.

The constrictive shackles of post-Victorian conservatism were forever broken.  The young baby boomers dreamed of a better world than that of their parents who had lived through the horror of two World Wars, and the deprivations and austerity of the 1930's depression during their lifetimes.

I, for one, accepted the "Ticket to Ride" with John, Paul and Ringo, but mainly because of George Harrison who always impressed me as a thoroughly decent and sensible human being.
Their music was original, simple, and joyful, and filled us with an enthusiasm for life.

For those who remained "unBeatled", the Rolling Stones gathered most of them up, and the two great unstoppable music machines of social change in the 1960's were under full steam.

We questioned social injustice and demanded reform.
We challenged our Prime Minister's futile policy of  "All the way with LBJ" until we helped stop the war in Vietnam.
An entire generation dreamed of prosperity and peace.

The Beatles composed the beautiful song "In my life."

"There are places I'll remember all my life,
Though some have changed,
Some for ever,
Not for better"

I remember my country, and my culture, which was changed for the better, partly through the musical genius of Lennon and McCartney, accompanied by a generational chorus of idealism led by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

They gave us the power to know we could build a better world.

Perhaps, despite all our faults, we did.

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Cairns esplanade

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The inspiration for all the literary detritus which fills these pages comes from a peculiar and diverse range of sources.

This one, apart from being a genuine desire to publicise a very beautiful place, is also driven by a perverse act of defiance.

There are some places, at least in Australia, where unaccompanied old men holding digital cameras are viewed with great suspicion.
My entire gender has been painted by the broad brush of Lowest Common Moral Denominator, especially in places where children and families play.

So, having run the gauntlet of the redecorators, security guards, police and lifeguards, I am proud to show off a small part of my tropical paradise.

The Cairns city waterfront was, until the 1990's, for most people, a no-go zone at night. It was the habitat of drunkards and troublemakers.
A forward thinking city council converted it into an extraordinarily beautiful and safe community place for locals and tourists to gather.

Facilities include; lagoon swimming pool, kilometres of foreshore boardwalk and bicycle riding paths, skate park, interpretive information booths, barbecue areas, exercise equipment and fitness classes.   All, to my knowledge, free of charge to use.

Occasionally, humans get this "redevelopment" thing right.

I am hoping here also to solicit a little appreciation for my intrepidity in venturing outdoors during the middle of winter to take these photographs.
(Cairns average August min.17C, max 27C.)

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Why is there a chook in The Bucket?
I have no idea.
Sometimes I simply become obsessed by matters trivial and paltry.

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Rescued from the sewer of life #5

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1. Do unto others…………..then run like hell.

2.  dissident         foreigner pointing out damage to your car.

     fiasco              unsuccessful wall painting.

     lampoon          a device to enable whaling at night.

3. "It matters not how many times you fall down.
      Only the number of times you rise."
      (Lyrics from a rap inspired song featuring Mary J. Blige.)

4. GOF's Human Stupidity Award of the Month.

    To Patents Offices around the world, including the U.S. and
     Australia, for approving applications for patent "ownership" of
     some individual human genes.
    Included amongst them, one gene implicated in breast and
    ovarian cancer. The patents have effectively delayed or
    prevented research in these fields.   

5. So, women have finally been granted permission to participate in
    Olympic boxing tournaments.
    I wonder where the right to inflict brain damage upon each other
    ranked on the list of priorities for the
    womens liberation movement in the 20th century.

6. And, once again, my favourite piece of graffiti, ever, from Cairns
    Rusty's Bazaar mens toilet wall 1988.  A call for solidarity.

    "Dyslexics of the world, untie."

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The greatest invention of the 20th century

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Herewith please find another impeccably researched document of historical analysis with which to waste your time.

Inventions must necessarily be judged and rated in accordance with the circumstances of the recipient.

The Internet is of no possible use to a peasant farmer living in the high Andes.
Neither is a bicycle-powered water pump (yes, they do exist) likely to be Mrs GOF's favourite toy as she pedals away for 20 minutes waiting for me to complete a leisurely shower whilst merrily whistling The Mixtures 1970's  Pushbike Song.

So, after a couple of minutes deliberation I wish to declare my greatest invention of the 20th century to be;

                                                       The original 2-pack epoxy glue

My first introduction to Araldite was in the wilds of the Sepik District in New Guinea, when I stumbled across a land surveyor camping in the jungle. His only companion was a Honda CT90 motor bike.

In a moment of intense nocturnal ardour beneath the soft glow of a Coleman lamp he had once apparently managed to overtighten the spark plug, creating a gaping hole in the engine head where once a neat metric thread existed.  He had, for 3 months, been happily motoring around with the spark plug securely Araldited back into the hole.

When I was 30 and a bit, I still possessed remnants of teenagehood when I knew everything there was to know in the world.  I convinced myself that I could build a house on the basis of the distant memory of once building a toy boat using balsa wood and icy-pole sticks.

Mrs GOF helped me build this fanciful dream project which now remains a monument (at least it has survived 2 direct hits from severe cyclones) to everything I thought I knew, but in fact did not.

Plumbing with Araldite;

External copper water pipe is normally joined using pre-soldered "Yorkshire fittings".
GOF, of course, possessed legendary skills using a kerosene blowtorch and soldering iron.  What more did he need to know?
Well, in hindsight, perhaps knowing that these fittings required a special "flux" application before applying the heat would have avoided the spectacular, multi-sourced water fountain of Trevi proportions that spurted high into the sky after I turned on the supply tap.

We "temporarily" rejoined the pipes with Araldite in 1983, and  have had no trouble ever since.

Araldite fixes holes in exhaust pipes and mufflers, and split axe handles bound with glue infused rag last for an additional 10 years.

Who needs quadraphonic sound, polyvinylchloride, ball point pens, jet travel, nuclear fission, Playboy magazine or Benny Hinn when you have the security twins of Araldite Tube A, and Araldite Tube B.

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