Wetlands and Dogs

These last few days Benji has been very reluctant to go out for out early morning walk. I can understand this – it  has been very cold. I thought that I would leave the walk to later in the morning – say 8am instead of 6am. I also thought it might be a good idea that we go to the Wetland instead of a local walk. It was a cold but lovely morning this morning and the  ponds at the wetlands were like glass – no breeze at all – not a ripple.

Wetlands this morning

However I  decided it was not such a good idea. There were a good number of people about and all of them had a dog, or dogs/. Benji does not get on well with strange dogs so the walk really wasn’t much fun for him. I think we will just stick to the local area in the morning and go to the wetlands in the afternoon when it seems to be a lot quieter. The interesting thing was that all the people with dogs this morning were males.  If I want to go to the foreshore I have to remember to take bags with me as the council has not yet replaced the dog waste bags that it removed for the upgrade.

Benji is a rescue dog and we have not known what his true age was.  In October of this year it will be

Hello peeple..

four years since we adopted him. At the time I was told he was three years, so plus the four we have had  him, that would make seven. I always felt he was older and it turns out I was right – he was born in November 2010, which means he will be nine years, not seven, this year. All of this is academic because in the end I don’t care what age he is, he’s my boy and I love him dearly. However, it may go a ways to explaining why he is so reluctant to get out of bed and get out of the house at 6am on a winter morning – and – I shall have to take the pace at which I walk into consideration and slow down a tad. Of course the reluctance to get out of  bed and get out of the house on a cold winter morning could simply be a kind of human trait, since sometimes we are pretty reluctant to do similar ourselves. I had out longer than usual last night and he actually did slow down and he seemed to me to be a bit tired, so I lifted him up on my shoulder and carried him for a while. One of the neighbours asked  “who was taking who for the walk?” After a little while I put him back down and he seemed to have a lot more energy

This coming weekend is the weekend of the Whyalla  Show (Fair). The RFDS will be on display again this year but  I will not be attending this year as I will be in Adelaide for a Presbytery Meeting. We have Yogi here! Jim took what is believed to be a slight stroke and was taken to hospital. Fay is spending much of the day there so she asked if we would look after Yogi for a few hours. I said I would and went down and collected him at 8am this morning (Wednesday) I  said before that he has not been a well dog and he has certainly lost a fair bit of weight and he is crying a lot, but that could be because this was all so sudden and he is anxious  and does know what is happening. At the moment he is a sad little dog, but Benji and me will look after him for a bit.. Yogi was only here for a few hours and he “cried”much of that time. I held him up on my lap but I had to be careful and not put Benji offside.

As it turned out, Jim did not have a stroke – not even a minor one.  He underwent a brain scan an ECG and various other tests and when they proved negative he was allowed home. When I took Yogi back home Jim was

Benji at the Long Beach

sleeping.  He will check in with the hospital every few days for a little while to make certain everything is ok. However they really don’t know what caused the turn he had. Fay was chastised by the doctor because she drove him to the hospital instead of  calling an Ambulance. Her comment was that  the ambulance can take too long to arrive and is was  quicker to drive him to hospital.  That’s a worry…

 

Traffic Jams, Fires and Summer Holidays

Sun arise, he come in the morning.

After  the high of 46c the temperature has dropped back to reasonable levels and we have had some rain. Not a lot and not very heavy but very dark overhead clouds that promised much – delivered little. Still it was rain;  it was cold and it was damp and wet and it did have an effect on the fire areas and for that we are thankful. I put Benji’s jacket on and donned my rain jacket and we went out. Benji goes slightly weird when it comes to puddles. After living in a cage I don’t think he quite knows what puddles are, so he eventually  jumped over the flowing spoon drain. I actually thought for a moment  he was going to just stand there looking at it and I was going to have to lift him over  :o)  We don’t generally go walking when it’s wet so this was new to him. I mean, he’s walked over it before – every day in fact – but this time it had water in it and he’s not used to that. I did take Chienne out in the rain sometimes and with lady-like aplomb she walked right through  any puddles that were in her way.

Tomorrow the temperature is due to reach 33c then back town to  the mid 20’s. Apart from the Kangaroos, and Koala Bears, Australia is known for its Eucalyptus Trees. There are many

Spreading the love ?

different types but the type that seems to be move prevalent is the type that sheds its bark, leaves and branches. An example – albeit a small example – is the one just down from my house, the one that I dislike. The area was cleaned up by council recently so there is not as much litter as there usually is. But you get the idea – the bark falls off the tree and collects around the bottom. and there’s your fuel all around the forest floor, that goes then the trees go. So imagine a good number of these in a forest setting !!  These trees contain oil and they explode shooting the  burning embers and sparks across containment lines, spreading the fire.  A post or so ago I suggested that it might be time to think about how we do things in

Normal holiday weekend at Port Wakefield

Australia and the absolute stupidity in taking major holidays in the middle of the fire season. These last week have really brought that home and we have seen firefighters, emergency service and police organising massive evacuations rather than fighting fires. – Over 4000 people evacuated to a beach-  and a good number of them were holiday people –  because there was nowhere else for them to go as their town burned.  We have all been praying and wanting rain to help with the fire fighting efforts but now headlines tell us that  serious rain storms in the fire areas could lead to flooding and landslides because the stability of the soil may have been compromised. We just  can’t take a trick it seems!    Up here, well, nothing much changes. It’s been cold(ish) these last few days and this morning (Thursday) the  temperature when I took Benji out was 11c. The RFDS have been arriving and departing several times  a day and there was an arrival at 4am the other morning. There was an interesting short article from the Bureau of Meteorology which suggests that we are reading the forecasts wrong.  I though, I would read this and gain some clarity and I did. It became clear to me that they have as much understanding of what’s going on as the rest of us. I discovered that I was more confused after reading the article than I was before I  read it.

Because it has been much cooler I have been taking Benji to the Wetlands and we have been feeding the Geese and Ducks. When we arrive at the area they are nowhere in sight – I take off the backpack and next thing I see them all waddling towards us. Benji stays back as I feed the birds. Here the other birds were still making their way up. There is a little black duck that is a sort of favourite but it’s not in this photograph. The black spots on the ground are the feed -I am using sunflower seeds and they seem to like it a lot. I saw that some had moved back to the old area, so I will have to ensure that I have enough for both areas in future. I still find it interesting that the usually pushy seagulls hang back and don’t come too close to the geese and ducks.

Very Mary Poppins   = “Feed the Birds”

California Dreaming, Adelaide, Star Trek.

To give some scale to what has happened here so far,  The 2018 California fires burnt 2 million acres; the 2019 Amazon fires 2.2 million acres; and the 2019 Siberian fires 6.7 million acres. So far, up until this morning,  Australia’s 2019/20 fires have burnt 15 million acres. To further put that into scale, 60,702 square kilometers or bigger than Denmark ( with Wales on the side) – Think West Virginia  Here, we are, to a large extent,

I wonder if he has the answer?

protected in that  any fire that started here would be out fairly quickly since – although we have some trees – we don’t anything like the density of woodland and forests like NSW and Victoria and, of course, other parts of SA. Yes, we have had a couple of fires here but mainly grass fires that were put out fairly quickly and a few of them were started by morons who thought it was fun. The court did too because it gave them a slap on the wrist and sent them home. The only serious fire near here is in Middleback Road and that’s about 50+ kilometers away. We did have rain here on Sunday and it started raining when I took Benji out at 6am. The rain, although not heavy, continued throughout the day. It was of some help but not as much as had been hoped for. At the moment the main (only) sealed highway between Western Australia and South Australia remains cut off and  trucks are still backed up at the border or at several service stations. Life here continues much as normal and there are no restrictions. However, there is talk about  how the bushfires may effect how we view holidays and if it really is in the best interest of Australia for people to be taking holidays and travelling during the  fire season. Perhaps we should look at holidays in the cooler periods, Spring or  Autumn. Most schools are fully air-conditioned so perhaps we should be looking at keeping the schools open during the hot weather, changing the semester dates. so that the long six week school break does not fall in summer during the fire season. But this is Australia, reluctant to change even when the reasons are  slapped in your face – a very much “She’ll  be right mate”attitude. What’s happened is alarming in that when fire has gone through an area,

To Boldly go…

generally it will come back again – in about 50 / 60 years. But here it’s only been 15 years since fires went through some areas and that is unusual. However, at the end of it all,  nothing much will happen. The fires will eventually go out, people will discuss how we are going to tackle them in the future, and they will still be talking when the next fire season comes around. We  do not seem to have either the social nor the political will  to put a stop to the seemingly endless cycle – Fire – destruction – rebuild – repeat.  We build houses with a Star Trek Philosophy _ “Boldly go where no one has gone before”.   Oh look, a lovely, pristine landscape – we could fit 10,000 houses, roads, supermarkets  etc. in this area and call it Ocean View Housing Estate.

Australia, like some other countries, has a serious problem. That problem is Queensland and the reliance of Queensland on Coal. The political party that attacks Queensland’s love affair with coal is in serious trouble when it comes to elections and votes. True the coal powered power stations are being closed down here, but there are many others across the world and a number of them rely on Queensland coal – the mining and exporting of coal from Queensland. Between the coal industry and the mining industry in Queensland we are  talking about 47,000 jobs. Australia exports a staggering 370.1 Million Tons of coal a year. The loss of jobs and the destruction of the Queensland Economy and the flow-on effect that will have,  does not bear thinking about.

Wednesday saw me in Adelaide. I did my least favourite thing and that is travel to and from Adelaide by coach. Had I driven down it would have meant an overnight stay and I didn’t want that, so the price for not doing that was 11 hours on a coach. Oh Joy!!  I use Ryobi tools and the only supplier of Ryobi, tools, batteries and accessories in South Australia is Bunnings. Apart from which there were a few other things I wanted I also wanted a couple of large things from Bunnings but they can wait until I go down in February with the car. Fires are still burning out of control in Victoria and  Kangaroo Island here in South Australia. It’s not improving at the moment. The temp today (Thursday) was 45c. Tomorrow (Friday)  27c

Normality is an illusion!

Me feeding the wild geese a few days ago.

Thursday: January 2nd 2020.    Things are going from bad to worse to catastrophic. Nearly 4000 people trapped on a beach as fire destroys their town. Royal Australia Navy ship  will rescue close to 1000 people each trip using their boats and any other boats available to ferry people from the beach to the ship. This is the only way out. New South Wales has declared a State Of Emergency and  close to 10,000 people are moving out of the area ahead of the monster fire. Currently 17 people are missing and there are grave fears for their safety There are serious concerns for the remnants of the Cudlee Creek fire here in South Australia that was only just contained and there is concern that it may breach the containment lines.  The Middleback Road, about 30 klms from here has been closed due to fires and the two sealed roads between South Australia and Western Australia have been cut off due to fires. Nothing is moving and trucks are backed up. The Service stations and two small towns have run out of supplies, including  most of the basic needs, bread, milk, water and toilet paper. I did mention that we had a thunderstorm, but as I also said, bashing, crashing, flashing but no splashing and this has been a problem since the dry storm lightening strikes  started other fires.   It has been cool here the last few days but  it is set to reach about 44c from tomorrow. Even just writing this, it is hard not to get emotional.

I picked up young John at just after 1pm and we drove to Port Augusta. I wanted to visit better Home Supplies to get a replacement canopy for the garden swing. This,

A swinging Benji

sadly, got caught in the wind and was badly torn. I also wanted   some special bouncing balls for Connor that I couldn’t get here. Visit the Arid Lands Botanic Garden for some tea and scones. Well, I failed at the canopy – there was nothing there. I tried several places  for the balls without success. Then as we were leaving and heading to the Arid Lands B.G. I  came to a halt at the Reject Shop and  decided to try for the balls in there. Well, they did not have what I wanted but they did have something that would fit the bill – the important thing was that the balls did what I wanted – light up as they bounced. I bought one at a stall at the Carols in the Park, and Connor was fascinated by it and everyone got involved in playing with him. I only got the one, but I really wished I had bought more. Didn’t make that mistake this time and bought three. Office National was closed until next week so failed there. On the way  to the Arid Lands BG, John had a look at the time and decided that perhaps it was best to head for home, so that’s what I did. But overall a good afternoon, pleasant drive, not too warm but sadly too warm to bring Benji.

Friday 3rd January:

State of Emergency in effect in NSW and Victoria. There are now 8 confirmed deaths with 28 people unaccounted for. One reporter spoke to the firefighters who said that they did not want to be looked on as “Heroes” because calling them “Heroes”overstates their ability to control the fires and downplays the long term psychological effect of fighting these fires.  The  road between Western Australia and South Australia remains cut off and is likely to be so for some time.  In one service station some 250 trucks are stranded all loaded with  produce. The Supermarkets have already warned that this could lead to severe shortages in some areas over the next few days. Emergency supplies have been  dropped in to several of the roadhouses.  In Victoria over 100,000 people

We’ll always have Paris

have been urged to leave making this the largest evacuation in Australia’s history.   It is 16:00 and my thermometer is reading 48c  Goodness knows what it’s like in the fire areas.  I did not post any photographs of the fires. I think there is more than enough of these in the main media and on television, including the BBC. Haven’t been to the wetlands for a few days since it’s been too hot, but if it calms down tomorrow I’ll take a run out with Benji and I have bird seed for the ducks and geese. LOL notice how the seagulls stay back.   —– I have been told that the Middleback Road Fire is still burning and the road is still closed..

I read a post recently and I was totally lost for words. It was about a modern day city that merely bears the same name as a city I knew  and worked in over 40 years ago. But the city this lady write about is a very different city from the one I knew over 40 years ago. This is a fun place, a vibrant, exciting place and my problem is that since this is not the place I once knew, I really don’t know how to respond. I’m stumped.  Perhaps some time in the not too distant future, if the fires don’t burn us all, I might try and organist a visit and see this City for myself.

Fires, Dust Storms and the Gate of the Year.

Overall it’s been another heatwave week with temperatures reaching a high of 45c.  Today this was accompanied  by a hot wind off the desert and it really was a hot and strong wind – walk outside and it really hits you.  Hot days are bearable but when there is a hot north wind like there was today, it makes life a bit more difficult.  Took Benji out for a walk at 05:30 this morning and the wind was starting to develop along with the heat, but still ok for walking, not dark but no sun either. However we had not gone too far when he  was sick, so  I took him back home. Fortunately we were only about a couple of hundred yards from home. I think over this last week there has been little relief from the heat an night ( I’ve not had much of a sleep) – even with the fans on, so perhaps the heat was starting to get to him.  Having brought him home, he went into his bed and I kept an eye on him. He seemed to be ok. However, Annabell was unwell and we had to get an emergency appointment with the doctor, so Annabell had to be attended to. The clinic is in partial closedown  but  we managed to get an appointment and see the doctor on duty.  From there we drove to the shopping center and the chemists for medication. She too seems to be doing fine for the moment but I have kept one eye on each of them  :o)

This afternoon
The sun almost blotted out.

The high winds continued throughout the day and we had dry thunderstorms, lots of crashing, bashing and flashing (no splashing)  and the wind did  start the inevitable dust storm. Not as great as previous weeks since much of the dust has already been blown off. I did take Benji for a drive into the  Hummock Hill, but being exposed to the gulf, the wind was gale force and difficult to walk. I  did go down off the hill to the foreshore, but it wasn’t all that much better down there. I decided that the best course was just to come home again.  As the evening has progressed Annabell is starting to feel unwell again, so I will have to keep  a watch on her. Fortunately I am a lightish sleeper so I’ll know if she gets any worse during the night.   I was due to go down to Adelaide on Thursday with John, but I think I might give it a miss .  I’ll talk to John tonight and we will decide. I am not in any great rush to get down there at the moment. However, I’ll see how she is come Thursday. Over and above that we will also need to see how the weather conditions are beyond Port Pirie. Last thing I want to do is get stuck down there because it’s not safe to drive back up – although having said that, the major fire is at Cudlee Creek which is in the Adelaide Hills a fair way from the Main North Road and the Port Wakefield Road.

Victoria (the State) is in a bad way with fires burning out of control and over 4000 people being evacuated to the beach. The Royal Australian Navy is on standby ready to evacuate the  people if and when it becomes necessary. New South Wales is not much better and lives are being lost. Generally we complain that it’s  hot particularly on a day like Monday with the hot wind coming in off the desert. But most of the land around here is empty bushland with the only trees being the trees that  the founders and the succeeding councils have planted around the town. Outside of the town there’s really not a lot to burn. The Adelaide Hills are a different proposition altogether.  The terrain makes it very difficult to  tackle any fires in the hills and surrounding areas.

Well here we are. South Australia, 9pm on New Year’s Eve. A few hours until the end of the year and the end of the decade. I wonder what 2020  and the new decade will bring?

Piper’s Lament
“The Flowers of the Forest”

“and I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year

Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.

And he replied, go out into the darkness and put your hand

Into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than a light

and safer than a known way.

 

I hope you all have a lovely. joyful and peaceful New Year