Friday, December 31, 2010
When Will Sanity Return?
If you are embarrassed easily then you should never be with Dad at a party. Just look at what he has got me into here. Give him a Christmas cracker (or bon- bon if you know them as that) and he is straight into foolishness. The paper hats that come in them are usually too small for his head, so he thinks up other ways to use them. I have seen him use them for masks, beards, ruffs and strange things that defy definition. And I think that psychologists would get a kick out of the way he uses the bits of cracker cases. The problem is that if I don't move fast enough I get roped into the foolishness (actually, I don't mind but don't tell him that). Just look at the result of dinner at Unka Mark and Aunty Vicki's; Bart the yellow-necked Tricrackertops, the most dangerous Christmas critter known to weird science. I hope that you all enjoyed your Christmas gatherings too. Now, I only have to survive the New Year gatherings and I can return to normal-type blogging. Happy New Year!!!!
It has been a busy week for us. Visits to and by friends and a round of dinners and parties. The Oldies can always be counted on to lower the tone of any party they are at. They always seem to wear something a bit silly. Actually, they are almost normal in this photo, but that's a big "almost". Funny thing: notice the present bag that Dad is holding, well, it was one of his presents and he didn't realize it until I started giggling about it and told him. And yes, it was another great evening.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Oh WOW !!!!!
Just look at what Santa left for me last night. My very own Bearoplane. It even has the markings of the Royal Australian Bear Force. I just love Christmas morning.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Have a Good One
Wherever you are and whatever you do over the holiday season, I hope that you all have a happy and safe time and that Santa brings you something really nice.
I helped Unka Mark put up his Christmas lights. Mostly he has reindeer around his balcony. A small bear is really useful for this sort of job because we are just the right size to climb around the frame and check that the lights are operating properly. I hope that the reindeer take the hint and use Unka Mark's balcony as a landing ground, because he has promised that if he gets the chance to catch Santa he will let me share the ransom.
Last night we were over at Unka Grant and Patrick's with friends for a pre-Christmas dinner. As usual, we had lots of fun (and stupidity from Dad; he does strange things with bon-bon cases and serviettes). When we left there we went driving around to look at the houses where people had put up special Christmas lights. Well, there is one street where every house has gazillions of lights everywhere - on the roofs, in the trees, across the lawns. There are snowmen and reindeer all over the place. That street is really spectacular. So much so that you can't actually drive through it because there are cars and people absolutely choking the road so it has been closed for a while. If you are in Canberra over the next week, go out to Bissenberger Cres and take a peek. It really is spectacular, even my cynical Dad is impressed. By the way, have you spotted the small bear in two of the pictures?
Monday, December 20, 2010
Waiting for Santa Again
Only six more sleeps until Santa comes again. I can hardly wait. We were at Unka Mark and Aunty Vicki's on Saturday night, and they had their Christmas tree all set up. There were even some presents under it. I thought that maybe Santa was spreading his run out a bit and there was a chance he might be back with some more later on. So I climbed into the tree and hid to see what would happen. No luck there. But when we got home, guess what I found? There was this little blue guy with extra eyes sitting near our little tree. I guessed it was one of those elves that Santa sends round to spy on small critters before Christmas, so I collared him/it and gave him the old third degree interview (Dad says I watch too many detective shows on TV, but that's not so). He wouldn't confirm or deny involvement with Santa, but he is a fun critter so I have introduced him to the rest of the gang and hope he gives a good report on us. Of course some people think that elves are green with pointy ears but have they ever caught one? Of course not. Just think about it, coming from a frozen climate an elf would be chilled and blue. To see everything for Santa in a short time, extra eyes would be real bonus. I think I have caught myself a real Santa's elf and if I treat him right then Santa will treat me the same way.
Yay, our main dam, Googong, is finally full to overflowing. This is a very important dam, not just for Canberra but for Queanbeyan and surrounding towns in New South Wales. As luck would have it, the spillway had just been redesigned and built just before the rains came, right on time for the ultimate test of how it would work. The old spillway sent the overflow out in a huge squirt that was eroding away the river banks below the dam. The new one is much bigger at the top and sends the overflow down a series of steps so that it is a lot gentler when it hits the river. We drove out for another look at the dam on Saturday. To get a good look at the spillway I had to climb up a bit of a hill and through some scrub. I found a rock to sit on and see over the trees. The spillway looks great. No big squirt, just a series of cascades. It actually looks as good as some of the waterfalls that people rave about. After years of drought and water restrictions it is really great to see our dams all full again.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Not Quite a Ghost Town
This is a picture of Scruffy and I looking out of the window of the Indian-Pacific as it passes the tiny settlement of Rawlinna in Western Australia. Rawlinna was one of the main bases for the construction of the trans-Australia railway. Now that the steam locos have been replaced by diesels the passenger trains only stop here when needed. There are still goods trains though, taking lime from the Loongana mine to Kalgoorlie. Beside the railway station there are only a few houses and a Post Office. Rawlinna is almost right at the western edge of the Nullarbor Plain and as you go further west scrub and trees are visible from the train window once again.
The Guns Are Gone
All along the cliffs near the entry to Sydney harbour you can find the remains of old gun positions. They date from the Crimean War to World War 2. All that remains of most of them are the concrete pits where the guns were mounted. In a very few places a gun has been left as a memorial. Some of the sites are in bushland and a bit hard to find, some of them are in a park, like this one. If you look carefully you can sometimes find interesting remains like the thing in the bottom picture. This is the entry to the gun pit near the Sydney Pilot Station. It is about 100 metres back from the cliff and hidden in low scrub. Inside the steel doors steps take you down into a tunnel that runs to the gun site. At least that's what they tell me. I couldn't check it out because the doors are padlocked, the place is full of spider webs, and Mum wouldn't let me try. If you have a spare day in Sydney you can have a fun day finding these old military sites on the headlands on both sides of the harbour entry.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
A Rocky Kilt
This impressive cliff is called Kilt Rock. The vertical columns of basalt and the horizontal bands of rock below them look a bit like the pleats in a kilt. The cliffs are around 100 metres high. They are on the Trotternish Peninsula on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Skye is also known as the isle of mists, but on the days that the oldies were there the weather was perfect. You can see some interesting sea birds nesting on the cliffs and sometimes there are climbers there as well. Mum won't let me climb on things this steep, and won't let me get too close to cliff edges. I think that I have to agree with her, climbing this sort of thing looks scary to me.
Say "Hi" to Horus
Mum has found a shop in Canberra that sells all sorts of Egyptian stuff. She has already collected a lot of smallish Egyptian statues. Her friends call them her "Egyptian Bonsai". Well, one of the ones she bought from the shop is this one of Horus. Horus is the falcon god of old Egypt, the god of war, the sky and protection. Like Santa, he is supposed to be able to see everything. The statue is not much bigger than this small bear, but in Egypt there are much bigger ones. In the left photo you see Mum leaning against one of them at the temple of Horus at Edfu, and you can see it is a lot bigger than her. Actually, the Oldies took a lot of photos of Mum looking at or leaning on statues during their trip to Egypt. I can't be sure they aren't faked because the meanies left be at home to avoid the risk of me being mutilated by customs officers. Personally, I would have risked it.
Friday, December 10, 2010
After years of drought most of the eastern half of Australia is flooded. Even though Canberra is high up it is getting some flooding in the area. Yesterday all the rivers and creeks were overflowing and there were roads closed everywhere. Lake Burley Griffin is overflowing and they have opened the flood gates on Scrivener dam. The day after the top picture was taken they had opened the rest of the bottom outlets and were even talking about lowering the top gates. I am nagging the Oldies to take me back to see if this has happened yet, so maybe this afternoon I can get another picture. The lake is cluttered up with debris that has been washed down by the rivers that flow into it. There are even big trees in there. Of course nobody is allowed to use boats on it, except for the police and emergency services, and you certainly wouldn't want to swim in there either. The water birds love it. Swans and ducks are having a great time feeding on all the edible stuff that is mixed in with the rubbish. I have decided that I don't like floods. Not just because they cause so much damage, but because they make it hard for small bears to travel anywhere, and the rain and slush makes it impossible to stay as clean and dry as Mum demands.
Sunday, December 05, 2010
More Da Vinci Magic Machines
Did I mention that Leonardo Da Vinci was the first to think of almost every machine? Well, here's another couple. The one on the left is a jack. It is just like the one that Dad had in his old car. The only problem with this model is that the handle is too high for small bears to reach. Dad could reach it and it certainly lifts small bears easily enough. The one on the right is a helicopter! It is not much like a modern chopper, but the basic idea is there. I can see a few problems that Leo would have come up against if he had a useful motor and had built a full-sized machine. For sure, he would have had to put a tail rotor on it to counteract torque, and something to cure the cyclic variation in lift as the blades whiz around (Dad explained about this and I almost understand it). I am sure that a genius like Leo would have sorted these out and we would have had working choppers centuries ago, except that nobody had discovered petrol and light-weight engines then.
Leave It There !!
Here's an incriminating picture from the Oldies' big trip through the UK back in 2007. The place is Denton Fort. The rocks are part of the remains of Hadrian's Wall. The old guy is my Dad and he is trying to swipe one of the rocks. Fortunately, the rocks are all firmly cemented in place so he couldn't get it and he didn't get into deep trouble. The wall was built around 1900 years ago during the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian. It stretched for 117 kilometres right across a narrow bit of England. The idea was to keep the Scots and Picts from raiding farms on what was the extreme border of the empire. In places the wall was up to 3 metres wide and 6 metres high. There were forts roughly every Roman mile. One of these was at Denton and you can see the foundations of the small tower there. This is not the most impressive remnant of the wall, but it has the advantage that tour buses can park right next to it so Oldies don't have to walk through muddy paddocks to see it.