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Let’s get the frog part over with. I am keenly aware that just one week ago, I commented that the green tree frogs in our gutters didn’t bother me. I lied. They are LOUD. When it was just one, not too bad. But when a second one arrived (or maybe more, we still haven’t seen them, just hear them), it was getting a bit much. So Hugh got the ladder out (we had to check our gutters anyway to make sure no debris was in them as we are in bushfire season – not that you would know that based on the rain in the last couple weeks, more on that later). We have determined that the frogs hang out in this part of the downspout:

Hence the major reverb when they croak. Highly recommend the acoustics of a downspout if you want people to hear you from great distances – or if you want to deafen the people trying to enjoy The Blacklist on Netflix a few metres away. We decided not to wait for a python to deal with them and Hugh took matters into his own hands:

Yes, that is a hose and we decided to be the rain in the children’s rhyme that washed the (spider) frog out. However, just like the children’s rhyme, the not-so-itsy-bitsy frog (I was wrong when I thought they were small, they’re actually 9-11 cm!) climbed up the spout again. He seems to be trying to trick us and come up different spouts at different times, but he forgets how loud he is and so Hugh can track him down pretty quickly. We have at least greatly reduced the frequency of the croaking. If you want to know more about these frogs, click here.

Next topic – nice, quiet flowers. It’s strange thinking that we’re in spring and so everything is blooming – it feels like it’s been spring/summer since we arrived in May! All sorts of blooms are coming out on trees and shrubs everywhere. One that really caught our eye is the Poinciana tree. It’s actually native to Madagascar but they are EVERYWHERE here. They have a large, fairly flat canopy and they are covered in orange blooms this time of year:

We saw this Poinciana on Todd Ave (photo for my family :)):

So let’s talk about another F word – forecasts. It really should be an F word. I think being a weather forecaster here results in complacency. After 6 months of weather perfection, they got too accustomed to pressing the sunny sky button on their forecast software and have no clue how to handle rain. This is very frustrating for those of us who like to hang laundry outside to dry. Check out the forecast for this week from 4 different weather apps:

WTF??? I thought weather forecasting was bad in Canada but this is BRUTAL! And to make matters worse, when you look at the current radar across the 4 apps, they all show something different too. Shouldn’t current radar be pretty easy to figure out??  I’ve tried monitoring all 4 apps (5 actually, I also check Windy) to see which is the most accurate and so far it is completely unpredictable.

As much as I don’t like rain, we have definitely needed it after having the driest spring on record. And beauty does come from rain. Hugh and I went for a walk on Farnborough Beach on Tuesday and saw this amazing rainbow:

And beautiful clouds:

This was our first time walking along Farnborough Beach and it’s just as fabulous as the other beaches. It’s really long with nice walking sand and plenty of space when the tide is in. We walked north for awhile and then when it looked like it might rain again, we headed back south. You get a good view of “Taranganba Mountain” (as our friend Rob Z calls it :)) from this beach. I’ve marked approximately where our house is:

I also found this great little sand dollar while we were at Farnborough:

Still on the topic of weather, it will be interesting to see the impact of the cloudy skies on our electricity bill. I think I mentioned that we have solar panels on our shed in the back yard. Electricity costs about $0.30 per kwh here (so if you think the rates are high in Ontario, just know it could be worse :)). But our excess solar gets fed back to the grid and we receive $0.13 per kwh for that. For the Aug-Oct period, we consumed 189 kwh but kicked back 365 kwh to the grid! So we’ve lived in the house for 5 months now and our electricity bill is in credit, we haven’t had to pay a penny. Will be interesting to see how things change as we get fully into summer and are using ceiling fans and air con regularly and have more rainy days.

Speaking of solar, I can’t remember if I told you that our hot water is heated by solar? We have this unit on our roof:

So we don’t have to pay to heat our water!

And speaking of water, it’s VERY cheap here. And the quality is outstanding – lovely to drink right from the tap. It is apparently up there with the best water in all of Australia. The water rates here are $1 per KL for the first 30 and then $1.50 thereafter. We used 36 KL Aug-Oct, so $13/month. In Canada, we were paying about $50/month. Unfortunately, the savings on water bills are obliterated by the high cost of annual license plate registration – $800! It apparently includes a bit of insurance, but we still need our own insurance and it’s $210/month.

Still in the weather and water category (I’ll take W words for $400, Aleksh – that’s for you, Ray :)), November comes with an annual algae bloom. It looks sort of gross but much worse is the smell – ugh! There was one night when the wind was blowing the right way and we had to close our windows. Normally we can’t smell it in town, but if you’re at the beach, it can stink. If you read the info in the link, you’ll see that when it’s brown in colour, it’s not terribly worrisome and that’s all it is here.

Let’s see, other events this week. High school just finished and this week was “Schoolies.” It’s a nation-wide party for those finishing grade 12! Was fairly quiet around here, but from what I can see on that link, everyone heads to key party zones, and thankfully Yeppoon wouldn’t be one of those. One thing Hugh and I have noticed here is how nice the school uniforms are! I don’t have any photos because, well, probably a bit creepy to sneak up and take pictures of school kids, but the uniforms are really nice and they all come with stylish hats – very neat.

I was also surprised to learn that Black Friday is a thing here! Just like in the States, there are terrific sales.

I forgot to mention last week that Hugh and I went out to try lawn bowls. It really has a lot of similarities to curling! Including terminology. So we impressed the instructor with how quickly we picked up the game. But we aren’t going to join for now. First, it’s more expensive than pickleball ($12 per evening per person instead of $9). Second, they make you take 6-8 lessons before they’ll let you join in even a social night. We felt like we would be ready to play after the 1.5 hours we spent a couple weeks ago (Hugh was particularly good at it), but no, the rules are the rules. And third, the bowls are surprisingly heavy. I used the 0 one, the lightest one they had at the club, and after throwing just 8 bowls, my tennis-elbow-prone arm was achy. Apparently a typical game is 21 ends, so 42 bowls – I don’t think my arm will hold up to that! So no lawn bowls for now.

Our guest bathroom renovation is almost done. And we discovered another construction difference between Canada and Australia – the crown moulding (called “cornice” here) is made of gyprock!

Hugh has continued to do amazing work creating our backyard oasis. This week was more of the heavy work of laying patio pavers and shoveling 1.5 yards of stone, but boy is it starting to come together!

So the pond and stream are all built, the pathways are done, now it’s mostly planting and adding more rocks around the hill where the bog filter streams down to the little pool. Hugh designed the whole thing and did all the calculations relating to volumes of stones for the bog filter and walkways – amazing! Anything rock/stone-related here costs a fortune. The naturally shaped pavers you see in the first photo are $20 each and the plain square ones you see in the second photo are $10 each. I have a new appreciation for our beautiful and cheap flagstone in Ontario!

Here are photos of the Christmas lights Hugh put up last weekend:

Gotta love palm trees and Christmas lights!

They call this time of year the “silly season” here. I’ve googled this and it sounds like it was originally a journalistic reference from the 19th century but now seems to just mean the Christmas season.

On Friday night, our friends Kevin and Jo invited us to join them at the Capricornia Cruising Yacht Club for their end of year celebration. What a riot! It was a fancy dress event – “fancy dress” here means costume (very important term to learn, showing up in a gown and tux would’ve been entertaining :)). The theme was “GOAT” – the zodiac sign for Capricorn is a goat with a fish tail (I did not know that!), so I guess that’s appropriate for a yacht club on the tropic of Capricorn! But the theme referred to Greatest of All Time and you had to come dressed as something that would be the GOAT. There was someone as Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Buffet, all sorts of fun costumes. Now, Kevin and Jo have a very good sense of humour and they are transplants from New Zealand. Knowing that there is a very strong rivalry between Aus and NZ in the rugby world, they decided to stir things up and had the 4 of us come as the All Blacks:

I’m happy to report that no ambulances were called :). But I did learn that Jo is a fellow wine enthusiast and between us, we polished off 2 bottles of wine. This could be a dangerous relationship! They had a contest at the party where they supplied a range of materials and you had to build a sailboat and put it into a race in a kiddie-pool. Hugh got involved in 2 boat-building teams:

The boat he and Sarah built was deemed to not be water worthy and did not make it to the contest. But the boat he built with Matt and Kevin looked very promising, and Hugh came up with the idea to fill additional balloons to create a stronger wind than you could get by blowing on the boats (nice COVID-friendly activity :)). And Matt drew the All Blacks feather on the balloon sail, just to add salt into the wounds. Well, if proper rules were followed, their boat would have been the winner! But there was a challenge and they were credited with second place instead because a boat that had capsized did get across the line 1-2 cm ahead of them and no one had stipulated in advance that boats had to be upright to win :).

Saturday night was the annual Christmas Cocktail Party organized by my students. They did an amazing job! And it was fun to see them all gussied up (I would have previously said in their “fancy dress”, but that would be incorrect :)). My friend and colleague Clancy was an outstanding MC for the event!

All right, will wrap up with the last F word in the title – food. We have an abundance of delicious foods here, but there are 4 items from home that Hugh and I really miss: bacon (just the plain ol’ side bacon you can get in any store in North America), Miss Vickie’s chips, sausages (lots and lots of sausages here, but just not the same as we get at home), and fruit pies. Now, none of these items are on the good-for-you list, so I’m viewing not having them as a healthy thing. But boy, would I love to have them again!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American family and friends!

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