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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Doggie doors, Cyclone Dylan snores, and Cyclone Ita roars


Holy cow!

Its been nearly six months since I blogged to you all.

My abject apologies; life sometimes gets in the way!  That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

I have been hearing from some pals that they have been unable to post comments to this blog.  I hope I have rectified that situation (I've just spent about 40 mins trying to sort it out...) so all comments I hope, should go to my Google+ page for the blog.

If you can comment on the Google+ page or this one, please do! Or go to my Facebook page: Magnetic-diary and leave me a comment there.  That one works, I know.

So... without further ado, I will tell you what I have been doing since my last blog in October.

I'll actually start in reverse order for a change.

Then maybe I'll dance around my diaries and see what comes up.

Now, you would have seen the pics of our dog Eric, (Silky terrier) and Hugo (white poodle crossed with we know not what) but lets put it this way, Hugo is now a lot bigger than Eric.

Having a dip in the local stream on a 30C day on 9th April 14 
"Ahh... that's better!" says Eric...

You can see the size difference.    Of course Eric is the older (11 years) alpha dog and sure lets Hugo (9 months) know it.

We got a 'doggie door' fitted a while back, and believe it or not, Hugo can get through it.  

Its like watching a contortionist in action -    Hugo usually sneaks through it around 8 am when his owner Sally, has left for work.  

I woke the other morning to a slight banging noise, figured it was Hugo coming in then it all went quiet.

I roused myself,  walked into the lounge to see something on the rug by the TV.   It was a couple of chewed up clothes pegs, as I had left the laundry basket, with dried washing in it, at the other end of the room (where the doggie door is).  The peg bag was on top.  Obviously a teething treat for Hugo.

Walking to the other end of the room, I could see the white plastic laundry basket on the sofa, where I stupidly had left it, but noticed stuff moved so that meant Hugo had been in it.  

I looked over to the doggie door and stopped dead; What the frigging hell was that?

The doggie door 8.30 am  -  April 7, 2014

For dear reader(s), it was a pair of my knickers, half way out the dog flap, and some dog spew (from Eric)  that was parked nearby...   Lovely!

I laughed so hard, Matt got up, wondering what all the noise was.  I grabbed the camera to show Hugo's handiwork to post here on the blog.  

Hugo was at work again later that day;  I had found under the house the cord to my dressing gown, (missing since March)  but couldn't see any other undies that Hugo might have grabbed from the laundry basket.  The bugger!   He is only a puppy and it's Eric the older dog (age 11) who gets hassled non stop by Hugo.  At least Eric leaves the laundry alone...



Let's talk about them for a bit.   

We had a scare in January this year, when Cyclone Dylan was upon us;  please see the news link below.

 I've never been in a cyclone before, so I did as instructed by husband Matt and Townsville Council; get ready for it.  

On Thursday 30 January I filled the spa bath with water, and any other vessel so we had with drinking water.   Matt and I removed ALL the items of furniture and the BBQ off the decking, and brought it all inside.   Our generator was filled with petrol; and the battery powered radio and candles were handy on the kitchen bench.

Now, please bear in mind that this was a Category 1 Cyclone;  The Council warning guide lists a Cat 1 as "severe rain, minor flooding, leaves/branches may be off trees, wind speeds may exceed 100 kph..." blah, blah - you get the drift.   It did not sound pleasant, but hey, this tough bitch has  been bungy jumping, so nothing scares me now! 

So when on Friday 31 Jan,  I woke up from a very quiet sleep, at 7.30am,  I was fully expecting on opening the curtains, to see branches laying in the garden, leaves everywhere and maybe the odd big tree laying in the main road at the front of the house.    But nothing -  I felt underwhelmed and slightly disappointed.    The sight before me confirmed: everything was normal.  

No trees down, not even any leaves blown off the palms.   

We got the BBQ from the lounge, took the outdoor sofas back where they lived, and wondered what to do with all the bottles of water I had lined up in the kitchen. (we used them to fill the kettle and water the outdoor plants.)  

The Townsville Magpie   (a sarcastic and funny blog about Townsville)

had a great take on the whole debacle, with a picture of a picnic table and chairs with one chair turned over with the heading "Cyclone Dylan - we shall rebuild!".

I will mention though that some of the islands down in the Whitsundays below us, did cop the wrath of Dylan  - they had damage but luckily, no loss of life or injuries.   

  Life moves on and the next scary thing we hear from the ABC TV weather lady Jenny is that a newly formed cyclone - named "Ita"  had appeared over the Solomon Islands,  wrecked havoc and was heading our way.   

It was a Cat 5 cyclone (the highest rating) and was tracking towards Cooktown, about 650 km to the north of Maggie island.  OK, not good.   Matt and I kept track of this via the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) on the Internet, and on Sat 12 April,  Ita was downgraded to a Cat 4.

See link below:

We were told on the BOM website on Sat 12 April, that it would be a Cat 1 when it reached us here and probably a 'rain depression' only.

It hit Cooktown hard, but no injuries or deaths fortunately.  Lots of roofs torn off and trees over the roads.    But then the really scary news - the BOM website told us it was headed our way - and suddenly the rain on Saturday afternoon was heavy.  Abnormally heavy.  

Now, ask yourselves,  us being Mr and Mrs Careful - did we move the BBQ and decking furniture indoors like we did for 'Dylan'?  

As if!   We weren't going to get fooled by this one!  More of the same, just like 'Dylan' - a non event. We could handle a bit of rain.   

 So when I went to bed on Saturday 12 April, with the rain was lashing down, I slept like a baby.

Waking up next morning to a very dark bedroom, I heard a clanging of chains.  

Checking the alarm clock, it was flashing 7.15am, but this flashing meant a power surge had re-set the clock to zero during the night.  The clanging noise continued.   

Matt was not in the bed.

'Hello', I thought, 'has Matt found those whips and chains we used to 'play' with years ago?', but sadly, that was not what was going on.

On opening the curtains, a weird site hit my retinas.   

There was Matt, wavering on the top step of our 1.5M steel ladder in the middle of the lawn, in his black Lycra boxer shorts, (and nothing else).

In howling winds, he was vainly trying to unhook the metal chains that held the shade cloth over the outdoor spa.   The rain was absolutely lashing it down,  bit of leaves and branches were flying through the air.  

Grabbing my leopard print satin dressing gown, and wrapping it around me in a frenzy, I rushed outside.   (I just hope this scary sight didn't traumatise the neighbours.)  I realised I had to somehow help Matt, before things got worse.

Matt had gotten the shade cloth down and was trying to wrap it over the spa's pool fence.  All 3 square metres of it, an impossible task when its dry and sunny, let alone in a rainstorm, when its soggy and heavy.

'Matt, Matt!  Leave it on the grass! Get inside!' I was yelling at him.   

Waving at me, that he'd heard my screams,  he folded up the ladder.  He joined me under the decking  pushing the now very wet outdoor sofa and chairs to the far end of our deck.   The dry corner, that now,  was not.

By now we were both soaked to the skin.   And wet satin is, I assure you, not nice to wear in a downpour.  Cold and clammy are the words that spring to mind.

The rain had been so hard when combined with gale force winds, it had soaked everything on our deck.  We removed the small items off the tables in case they got picked up and broke a window. Scurrying inside we watched our small garden turn into a lake, joined by the spa's overflow pipe.   

Holy f**k!  I would hate to see a Cat 4 or 5 if this was a lowly Cat 1!

We made some coffee and toast.  Just after breakfast a strange thing happened;  it all went quiet.   No rain, no wind.  Matt fired up the laptop and checked the BOM radar.  Yep -  Magnetic Island was in the 'eye' of the cyclone.

'C'mon!' said Matt 'we have to go out and see this!'   As we were getting ready, Matt's phone sent him a message from Sealink, the ferry operator, to say that ferries to Townsville were cancelled.  

Pulling on an old pair of shorts and a T shirt and sneakers, (no umbrella) I grabbed Eric and we ventured forth.  There was a roaring noise in the distance, which we realised was the ocean at the end of the street.  We decided to walk down to it. 

Half way there, along Apjohn Street, is a causeway that cuts across the road and is usually a trickle.  

Here it is a few weeks before:

Matt and doggies on causeway, Apjohn St. 25.3.14: a couple of centimetres deep?

and in the eye of the cyclone: Sunday 13.4.14  11am 

 That white pole with 'M 1'  is the 1 Metre (3 ft 3 ins) marker post. That's a high water mark I've never seen here before!   What a difference a cyclone makes.

The roar of the surf was louder now by the causeway -  as we watched a half of a tree sailed past, and quickly too.  

After a short walk we got to the north end of Horseshoe Bay Beach, to find a huge swell and surf pounding the beach. 

Horseshoe Bay beach 13.4.14  with 2m swell and surf.  Lots of trees washed up.

The (usually) shallow creek in the front and behind the eroded beach, plus raging seas.  13.4.14

Just to give you an idea of how weird this was to see our local beach this way, here is its normal look:

What a difference!  
Louise & Dogs, Horseshoe Bay beach March 2014

 On  Monday 14th April we awoke to clear blue skies and no winds at all.

 Ah, life in the tropics, Dylan one day, Ita the next!

What else has gone? 

Christmas came and went, we had a very quiet one.   

Same for NYE, we watched the fireworks at Nelly Bay and came home, drank a nip of Scotch each, and that was about it.  

Oh and Matt got me a bucket of 20 mangoes for Xmas; the romantic bastard!

Here I am tucking into one...

A very happy Louise with a brekky mango slice, Dec 2013 - taken on Matt's phone.

And before I forget (and I'd like to)  -   I blew up the vacuum cleaner.  Not on purpose, it was an accident, I swear...

The dead vacuum cleaner, RIP (rust in peace)...  March 2014

Let me explain.

When we moved into our house, it was fully furnished, with a vacuums.  We had our own furniture in storage, so we had two - we kept both, and when a cleaning frenzy came upon us, we would divide the house in two, and vac half of it each. 

Division of labour and all that old feminist stuff.    

Of course this particular Wednesday was rather hot, (31C).  Ceiling fans were whirring.  Matt was vaccing away in the bedrooms.   I usually wear an old cotton bandanna when cleaning.  And today? Yep,  I was too lazy to go and get it.

Dragging the vac behind me,  I went over to check the electric cord was not stuck under one of the chairs, when I think a drip or two of sweat fell off my uncovered brow and sank into a lid edge and into the motor:   Who knows?  

But what I do know is that after that drip a nasty whining motor dying kind of noise emanated from the beast, and then - nothing - only a slight smell of burning plastic filling the air.  

I rushed and pulled the plug out from wall.  

Matt had heard the noise of me yelling  'Oh bugger!'  

He had finished his labors, (bless!) he came to see what the problem was.  I tried to explain, but kept laughing.  Luckily I have an understanding husband.

Ah well,  our own one was held together by tape here and there, plus it was around 7 years old.
It was probably coming to its end anyways...  

Apart from always channelling Axel Rose and wearing a bloody bandanna,  I think we shall have to flip a coin to see who gets to use the one remaining vac.  

The other person then goes around with the dusters?    Matt and I may have flip more than coins to sort this dilemma out!  Watch this space.

Valentines Day.  

Another lovely surprise from my husband Matt.  He said those three words all women love to hear.

'Pack a bag!"

"We are going to stay in town overnight!'   

Doing as I was told,  the small cabin baggage suitcase was stuffed, while Matt took Eric to be looked after.

We jumped onto the SeaLink Ferry to Townsville.    I was pressing Matt as to where we were going; but no deal, he remained quiet.

Walking from the ferry to the bus stop into town, I had my suspicions.   

And they turned out to be correct when we got off the bus near the 'Sugar Shaker' hotel (The Holiday Inn) and booked into our room.  

Very nice it was too.   After unpacking, we grabbed a bite of sushi at the local place, and walked to the Perc Tucker Gallery to see the "Lego Exhibition".  

Yeah, highbrow I know, but Matt insisted.  (He had seen it earlier in the week when in town).   It was surprisingly good, and was one of the most viewed shows on at the gallery.

Dinner was also to be a surprise:  Matt had noticed that there was a new Brazilian restaurant in town called 'Chico Rio' and had booked us a table. Good thing he did as the place was packed.

Your author in our hotel room, ready for dinner, Friday 14.2.14

A different style of place!  How you ask?  Well, what this place does differently is that the (very handsome!) waiters come around with huge skewers of meat, fish, squid etc that has been charred over flames.  Customers are given sugar tongs to grab the slivers of whatever skewer was on offer, and add this to their plates.  Side dishes were also an interesting mix of Brazilian cuisine and Australian.   And all were lovely.

'Roasted pork, Madam?'  Chico Rio Restaurant, Townsville City, 14.2.14

'Roasted pineapple, madam?'  That's Matt on right holding the sugar tongs ready to grab a sliver of this absolutely heavenly Brazilian dessert! Great food, great service - worth a visit...

After dinner we walked to the Casino, had a very watery cocktail and lost $20 on the roulette.  Time to go to the hotel and crash out.


Now before I forget, I shall have to insert a few pics of my good self on my monthly style visits to my hairdresser (Mondo Bassi, Flinders St.)   If I can't show my style prowess in my own blog, where can I?

4th April 2014  - on my way into town;  

Many thanks to my good chum Kelly B. for that magnificent necklace. 

A statement necklace needs a plain dress under it, as 'its all about the neckline'.   I got a lot of compliments on it while in town.

6 Feb 2014 - going to town!


Oh yes, I have to mention our visit to Sydney and the GLBT Mardi Gras.

We arrived in Sydney on Weds 26 Feb.  staying with our good chum Geoff for a few days - those days mainly spent shopping and going to the theatre.  

We saw "Proof" at the Ensemble Theatre, and had dinner there before the performance, with our other chums Natalie and Jason, and a wonderful night was had by all.

28.2.14 Ensemble Theatre, L-R Matt, Natalie, Jason, Geoff

On the big day of the Mardi Gras parade, March 1, the skies looked leaden.  Would the heavens open and rain on the parade?  I hoped not.  

Our chums Kelly and her merry band were marching in the parade, with a float called 'Putin on the Ritz' which took the piss out of  the recent Sochi Winter Olympics and the discrimination on gay people that Mr Putin endorses.

We opted not to go to see the parade.  We attended the after party only - and what a party it was!

So very, very good.  We met up with all our friends and had a great time.   

Thanks to all who came with us.

On the dance floor, Hordern Pavilion,  1/3/14; Matt and Louise

Louise and Vince, a bit blurry! MG Party. 1.3.14

Kelly dressed as Russian ice skater, Matt and Louise -  MG Party 1.3.14

We left at 5.30 am for our hotel in Bondi Junction, so it must have been good.

Then it was all over,  like a lovely dream and it was back to the island.

On Monday we picked up our Eric, who had been staying with Maria the dog lady, (thanks Maria!).  

On another note, I recently received a music CD in the mail by "Arlen", my chum Angie's husband in LA.   Its very good.  Entitled 'Shadow in the Dark' , recorded in the Sea Star studios in Santa Barbara in 2013.    Arlen wrote all the music and lyrics.   Track 10 is my fave - its a love song to Angie, called 'Everyday Valentine'.   

How many women can say their husband wrote and recorded a song for them?  
Only Christy Brinkley with 'Uptown Girl' by her husband Billy Joel comes to mind...

Changing gears now...

On March 20th, Matt's Uncle Paul came up to the island, and his son Isaac (5) decided a spot of fishing might be in order.  So on Sat 22nd we all trooped over to the Picnic Bay Jetty and got the rods out.

As usual I caught nothing!  Paul caught a tiny fish, but  it was too small to keep.

But it was all good fun and that's the main thing...

22 March 2014 - Picnic Bay Jetty; Matt & Eric, Paul (standing) and Zac.

We had a quick visit from Erron and Kylie plus their children, Jack and Matilda, who were visiting from Victoria.

And of course, there is one amazing thing to do here on a Wednesday night, and that's go to the Cane Toad Races at the Arcardia Hotel.  If you haven't witnessed this unusual sight, please see the link below.   So we took them along and they loved it.

I know the pizzas we ate before the races were lovely - and before you ask, no, they don't make cane toad pizzas on the island.   See link below to see the cane toads in action!

Before I go I must just share this with you.

On Good Friday 18 April, Matt was out playing golf and I could hear Hugo barking at something; a voice sang out 'Hello!' and it was our neighbour Nelsea who came with a gift bag of chocolate Easter eggs.  She gave me a hug and said 'Happy Easter' but all I could manage in reply was the woeful 'Sorry, I've not got any eggs for you - I'm an atheist!'   

Luckily for me, it turned out she is a bit of a chili lover and I gave her some of our Scotch Bonnet ones that, I warned her, are "brain damage", as an 'Easter gift  - It's no substitute for chocolate I know, but the best I could manage at the time.

Well dear reader(s) its time to reach for the tissues, as that is about it with my news, views and gossip.

I'll try and kick myself up my own backside,  to get another blog written for your enjoyment.

Adios amigos.

Louise xxx