Wednesday, September 26, 2012

how many men...

...does it take to hang a door?

The architect is on site in his safety boots, high vis and hard hat, offering a little advice on fitting the door jam for the new board room. 

The frame is up and awaiting the delivery of tin for the walls and fly roof. The tank stand is looking on very nervously, aware that it may be overshadowed by the new structure. I am back in Australia for a short visa and hardware run, hoping the toilet will be ready to flush on my return.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

pig for the priest

The staccato rhythm of the gongs usually indicates a funeral in the village, and being so near to our house we thought we better wander up for a look.  The din was coming from the church, and we soon established that the jovial celebration wasn't for death, but for marriage. Our priest had gone off to the mainland city to wed his sweetheart and a feast was in preparation for their return. Though shall not kill obviously doesn't extend to our four legged free range friends. We politely declined lunch, and the kind offer of take-away.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

office hours

It isn't easy getting work done in a surf camp. There is a continuous stream of "interruptions", starting at 6am with the walking veggie pedlars, then a banana delivery, the building team, and neighbours keen for a cuppa. The kettle is always on and the bamboo blinds open, as every hour is ripe for a casual drop-in.  The idea of work interrupting social interaction or surf is ludicrous. Tides, wind and waves are what matters; just ahead of cold beer (or frozen fruit in our case). The other expats are retired or on short stay holidays, and we wouldn't dare ask "do you mind coming back later, we're working."  It just wouldn't be cricket. Or surf.  

Not that we like to take the whole work thing too seriously. There aren't many offices in the world where you can conduct a meeting where both the architect and client are shirtless, and seated under a coconut palm with an ocean view. The overheads are very low, and the secretary doubles as the tea lady. 

Tom's latest project is a two bedroom, two bathroom villa on an epic headland location. The owner is a young guy of Indonesian/Euro descent, who has freed himself early from the jaws of a mercantile world and joined our evolving community of surf bums. The site is 10 kilometres south of our village, and has a private beach with all day swimming pool. The landscape is wild and rough, with native scrub and sharp limestone rock instead of ordered coconuts and white sand. I love visiting, just to kick around in the leaf litter and pretend it is autumn. Sometimes I even get to hold the smart end of the tape.

Monday, September 10, 2012

emergency harvest

A significant low pressure system in Western Australia pushed a solid swell northward, inciting  much rapture from the watermen, and stress for the seaweed farmers. Combined with high spring tides, the surges of water over the reef broke many ropes and stakes, threatening the security of the agar agar plots. As soon as the tide dropped, there was a frantic race to remove as much mature seaweed as possible before the high water returned and swept away their cash crop. The rubbery weed is sun dried on crude racks, then bagged up for sale and shipped to Surabaya for processing. From here, the white, odourless powder finds its way into cosmetics, food and petri dishes worldwide.  

Meanwhile, Aquaman was pulling into freight trains on his 7"6 gun with one unfortunate flight over the falls and into the rumbling darkness of the depths.  This was followed in rapid succession by two more set waves on the head. His lungs wanted to breathe, but he gently coaxed them to hold on a little longer. I'm relieved they did. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Here there is time to be calm; to watch a shaft of morning sunshine drift across the kitchen, or steam rise from a green tea into the cool and humid dawn. Instead of television we are entertained by the antics of our barking gecko, or hermit crabs scratching on the kitchen floor. There is space for awareness, for a pause between thoughts; a simplicity and peacefulness that we value greatly. Are you finding some time to be?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

spring morning

There aren't any tulips, daffodils or cherry blossom to mark the first day of spring, but the season has a hint of change. We are coming to the end of our short "winter", when we reach for a blanket in the early hours, and I sport a scarf with a bikini. The last rain was on the 21st May, and the days are warm and dry.  Not enough humidity to induce lethargy, but enough to keep my skin from cracking. An onshore mist has veiled the lagoon each morning this week and its water laden air condenses to a dew which quickly evaporates after sunrise. 

We are finally getting some results in our garden, having out-witted the hermit crabs with a corrugated iron barrier fence. It's too slippery for them to climb and they can't jump.  Silverbeet, basil, parsley and rocket are all powering, and we should be picking our first papaya in a couple of months.  I even have some white alyssum for a cottage garden touch. We are a long way off being self sufficient, but picking a few salad greens each day is a start.  

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