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Monthly Archives: December 2009

Playing with her toys

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In 1979, the position of Mrs GOF became available for the second time after management found it necessary to terminate the unsupportive, disloyal and disruptive services of the incumbent.

In anticipation of a stampede of candidates seeking to fill the role,
I took the liberty of drafting a job description, mission statement, and applicant selection guidelines that were significantly more rigorous than those which applied to the original hastily accepted applicant.

Near the top of this document  (Item 2, section (c) to be precise)
was the following non-negotiable requirement;

"You must possess the proven ability, or exhibit a willingness to learn how, to mix concrete."

Unfortunately, upon perusing this document, the entire horde of eager young supermodels and hot-to-trot starlets milling around my front doorstep surprisingly and quite hastily beat a retreat in search of some other piece of less demanding masculine hunkhood.

And just as well that they did so too, because I was then able to snare the most competent feminine concrete mixer the planet has ever known.

Mixing good concrete is an art.  Different applications require delicate adjustments to the relative amounts of sand, gravel, cement and water used.  Foundation concrete for example requires a higher proportion of cement than does a garden paver, retaining wall or a replica of the Statue of David. 
Being able to producing the perfect concrete mix is one of the truly great accomplishments of life.

Mrs GOF has mixed it on sheets of flat iron and in buckets and wheelbarrows, but her ultimate moment of exhilaration occurred on one day in 2006 when we were able to afford a genuine Chinese concrete mixing machine.

She does not find happiness in diamond rings or Gucci glamour.
(something to do with a single gross error of judgement she made in 1979) 
Her euphoria derives from manufacturing a mixer bowl full of concrete with perfect consistency.
When I return with empty wheelbarrow, having just sculpted the previous load into some distant garden item of GOF artistry and see her, my equal partner in creative pursuits, shovel in hand, with smiling head rotating at 25 RPM in sync with the machine, I know that I will have yet another exquisite batch of raw material with which to work one more aesthetic masterpiece.

And, when the job is finished, I find her irresistibly and sensually covered in sweat and cement dust with work boots coated in half-set concrete.

The God of Compatibility was looking after me in 1979.

(Ed;  I think GOF must be missing his absent little concrete-mixer mate.

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On this, the 66th anniversary of your birth, I still miss your music and your inspiration.

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Wasting the battery

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Visitors who stay at GOF's Paradise will politely (sometimes) be made aware that our solar power supply whilst renewable, nevertheless consists of a finite number of electrons stored in the batteries.

Leaving a single light switched on unnecessarily, or automatically assuming that the television can be turned on in the morning before the sun comes up, or on a cloudy day, will attract some sort of educational muttering.

Family members similarly disobeying the rules of electrical engineering will receive a grumbled  "Stop wasting the battery, do you think we own a frigging electricity factory."

Some things over the years also tended to unnecessarily deplete my personal life force battery and joie de vivre.

As each calendar year expires I like to renew my commitment to some systems which ensure the happy running of my old jalopy.

1. The disciplines that I know are required for good physical
2. To forgive instead of seeking revenge and retribution.
3. Allowing thankfulness for life to wash away negative imaginings.
4. To not dwell unnecessarily on failures resulting from actions
    originally taken with the best reason and honorable intention.
5. To completely avoid engaging with people and activities devoid
    of inspiration.

It is also folly to become obsessively concerned with changing things that are beyond our individual sphere of influence.
Accordingly I provide a reminder for us all with this mournful lament from the Monty Python team, about preoccupation with minutiae and the baggage retrieval system at Heathrow.

I wish for each and every one of you a safe, constructive and rewarding 2010.

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Santa didn’t get to my place

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because he got upset by this little bit of misfortune in my driveway, swore at me and the reindeer, then moved on to the neighbours place.

While everyone is still busy digesting Christmas puddings, this is an abridged repeat story from last year.  Father Tom was rightfully a hero to the people he worked with.  I thought it appropriate to give him another airing before a new story about him next week.

                                   The World's Highest Toilet

This is a tale of how even the finest of human beings sometimes have difficulty ascending to the throne of leadership, and stumble under pressure at the last hurdle.

Missionaries, such as my old friend, Father Tom, together with Australian Government patrol officers did much to improve health outcomes in many remote areas of Papua New Guinea during the 1960's.

Some projects were more successful than others.

People in lowland areas of PNG suffer from endemic malaria, and in Fr. Toms district, infant mortality to age 5 was 50%, due to malaria, dietary protein deficiency, and gastro-intestinal infections. 
A nation-wide program was begun to introduce pit toilets, and Fr. Tom selected a nearby village for his first demonstration.

He explained the concept to the village Luluai (L) and Tultul (T) (generic titles for village chiefs), and left design diagrams with them.

PNG village society has survived for countless centuries without new fangled devices such as toilets, so L & T enthusiastically promised to build the structure just to humor the funny white man, knowing that none of his clan would ever easily adopt the concept of crapping in the same place more than once.

The small village consisted of 20 or so bush material huts built around a brushed-earth village square.

L & T selected a central location in the square and instructed the village men to dig the prescribed pit 6 feet deep with the shovels left by Fr. Tom.

After 2 feet they hit bedrock.

L & T went into conference and deliberated over this unforseen impediment to progress, and proposed a logical solution.  If you can't dig a pit toilet DOWN, then you obviously have to build one UP.

And so it was that a magnificent hollow-centred pyramid six feet high was constructed from softer earth scraped from the near vicinity.
The central core was reinforced with bush logs to prevent inward collapse.  An appropriate seat was carved from bush timber and mounted on the top.  A modesty wall woven from plaited bamboo strips was erected around the summit and the project declared complete. 
No roof was considered necessary because no-one was likely to use it….apart from, apparently, the visiting missionaries and patrol officers who kept coming up with all these peculiar ideas.

According to custom, new projects require ritual and ceremony before use, so Fr. Tom was summonsed to not only provide a spiritual blessing of the facility, but also to contribute a more practical "blessing" as a demonstration of how this modern convenience should be used.  

So, surrounded by the entire village community, Fr Tom completed the religious formalities, cut the ribbon, then followed the steps to the top and mounted the pedestal.
The surrounding privacy walls, whilst perfectly satisfactory for people of PNG short stature, unfortunately only reached up to neck height on the sitting Fr. Tom.

Somewhere during the process of focussing on the sea of inquisitive eyes below him, he rapidly and understandably became distracted from the immediate task at hand.

His failure to perform under pressure was a major setback to hygiene improvement in Papua New Guinea.

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Mr Tiny

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(Another little story about interesting people I have known)

Mr Tiny was the proprietor of Mr Tiny's Juice Bar.
(Ain't some things in life just totally beyond understanding?)

It was the first juice bar established in Cairns during the 1980's when healthy snacking became de rigueur.

Mr Tiny's attracted an almost cult following of hippies and alternate lifestylers who lived in the Daintree rainforest during the week and travelled to Rusty's markets every saturday.

He rarely paused for breath during business hours as he harvested and fed "acres" of wheatgrass and "tons" of other fruit and vegetables into his massive juicing machine.

Mister Tiny's shop was also tiny.
The customer queuing area was probably no more than 3 metres wide and 1 metre deep.

With increasing competition Mr Tiny eventually sold his shop and went into business selling secondhand goods and antiquarian books.
He would also "moonlight" at a local wildlife attraction as an Aussie swagman, telling bush stories to overseas tourists around an evening campfire.

Mr Tiny;  bearded, intelligent, gentle quintessential Australian;
Standing at least six foot six inches tall and weighing in at a well-muscled 20 stone.

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Oddities of nature

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There are some Voodoo Lilies, (Amorphophallus bulbifer) growing in our garden.
They are native plants from the Indian subcontinent.
One member of the genus, (A. titanum) has the world's largest inflorescence.  A flower 2 metres high and more than 1 metre wide.

The flower spike emerges from the ground following dormancy and, after opening, the flower needs to be pollinated by insects within 24 hours.  It attracts them by generating an appalling stench of rotting flesh.

These photos were taken over a 4 week time frame.

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Newell beach

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For the better part of 20 years Newell Beach has been the place where I return to the ocean and give thought to the universe, life, my past and my future.

A lot of the beliefs that I now hold as truth occurred to me while sitting alone, doodling in the sand, watching and listening to breaking waves, or the more gentle cycles of ebb and flow of tides in the Mossman River estuary.

Newell Beach is marked with many contemplative milestones from my road of life.

Only I can see them.

And, while I am in a reflective mood this Christmas time, I would like to thank everyone who takes the time to read this blog, and especially the loyal Voxers who have encouraged me and made this a nice place to be in 2009.

May you all have a a happy festive season with your loved ones.
Take care of each other, and the planet.
I wish that your 2010 be filled with happiness, good health and contentment.

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GOF’s Travel Guide; Cairns to Mossman

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The 60 kilometre drive from Cairns towards the equator is one of Australia's most scenic coastal journeys.  The coastal mountain range rises to 3000 feet on the left with the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef out to the right.

Destination Mossman is a little sugar cane town surrounded by lush rainforest, waterfalls, mist and cloud.
A location direct from the imagination movie set of my childhood.

Along the way there is;

There is also, off to the right, and about to be engulfed in a rain shower, Port Douglas.

Situated on a narrow isthmus, this incongruous tourist development is famous for attracting millionaires, American Presidents, and scoundrel entrepreneurs who feasted on the 1980's financial boom, and subsequently fled to Spain to avoid extradition to confront their fiscal sins.

Port Douglas has only one redeeming feature.

It is the home of genuine Aussie Mocka's pies.

Beyond that, I have my own little surprise for Port Douglas.

I am going to sever the peninsula just seaward of Mocka's boundary, then push the whole catastrophic hideousness, complete with it's flashing navigation beacon, out into the Pacific Ocean where it will navigate it's way on the prevailing westerlies through the Panama canal and attach itself to Miami where it will be with friends.

I have a gut feeling the Pope is going to endow me with Australia's second sainthood for this.

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