Fires, flood and cyclones – again.

With some people, a break just cannot be caught!  Parts of Victoria were on fire and now other parts are threatened by torrential rain and flooding. Same in New South Wales as storm fronts  sweep in  from the Pacific and the Coral Sea, dumping massive amounts of rain. Sometimes it’s an advantage to live in the most boring state in the commonwealth. And in between all that comes the news that a young volunteer fire fighter has been killed. He was cleaning up after a fire when a tree branch fell on him.

Now we have major flooding in large areas of Queensland /  New South Wales and reports of three dead including a 17 y.o.boy who was swept into a flooded drain. He and his mate were wading through the water at the Golf Club looking for golf balls when they were swept away. His friend survived. Thousands have been evacuated and there are flood warnings out on over 15 river systems across two states. Sometimes we get a bit of localised flooding in Adelaide, but never to the same extent because we just don’t have the river systems. On top of all this comes the news that Western Australia is bracing for another tropical cyclone.

The last few days we have had high temperatures and yesterday at 43.5 was the high of three days of mid 40s. Today it’s supposed to be back down again –  think in the high 20s – just another day when you go to bed hot and bothered and wake up in the wee small hours looking for a blanket as you shut off the overhead fan. Added to this is the fact that it’s raining and things change very quickly  Apart from not doing flooding we don’t do snow here either.  Although, having said that we do have the occasional hail storm that temporarily covers the ground and looks like snow – for all of half an hour.

I am confined to the house and sheds and garage for most of the day. My car is away for repairs. Nothing too serious – the fuel  gauge is not working and I need that to be working when I drive to Adelaide.  It tells me the distance to empty so I can plan the fuel stops – although the truth is I really don’t need it because it’s a set route from here to Adelaide – unless I want to deviate by several hundred miles and arrive from a different direction. But the reason I use the distance to empty function is that if I want to get home for something, knowing where the petrol (gas) stations are,  I know how far I can go without having to stop for fuel.

A “Red Alert” has been issued for people in parts of the coastal areas of Western Australia as Cyclone Rusty approaches. Rusty is a category 4 cyclone , punching winds of up to 250kph and  although it’s a thousand miles away from us, we will expect to get some residual rain, not enough to cause any problems, but some. It is expected to hit land  this  afternoon sometimes – if it keeps its current speed.

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Trees, Oil, California and snow in Arizona.

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Native Trees – What Joy!!!

In our little corner of the Commonwealth, the temperature has dropped down considerably and back to manageable levels – a pleasant 25c. Dogs are back out in the fresh air.  I said that my soil was tested and  the less we say about that the better. The  large pots and planters is probably the best way to go. The two Desert Roses  (new) that I have out front, in sunken pots are doing considerably better than the actual roses in the ground. The same is true of things at the back of the house – although I do have the added problem of trees that shed leaves at the slightest puff of wind. Actually I think the threat of wind makes them nervous enough to drop leaves by the bucket load. I also bought  an English Gooseberry  Bush and have that in  a large pot. It’s also doing well and survived the heat. The Mulberry – in the ground – did not. But depending on how the gooseberry progresses, I might try again with a mulberry in a large planter pot.

On the subject of heat,  Australian Eucalyptus trees, because of the heavy concentration of oil and the letting off of oil vapour in heat,  have a tendency to explode throwing fire and flaming debris 20130222_095157across a wide area and overshooting fire-breaks. The oil makes it pest resistant so nothing eats it and keeps it in check. Once imported into an area it becomes messy, very hard to get rid of and flammable – and the wood is not all that much use for anything.  In the late 19th century  Australian trees were imported by the bucket load into California. The climate suited them very well and now Australian trees are everywhere in Calif. and  are responsible for much of the intensity of the fires that occur there. I have said before they are messy, shallow rooted, with a tendency to drop branches and fall over without  a lot of warning. These are the “Native Trees” that this council wants to plant everywhere.  The do say that they will plant them on the medium strip, not near houses.  Well, that’s encouraging – at least they will only drop branches and kill drivers =- heaven forbid they should damage property.

Watched our state news this evening and there, confirming what I had already been told, was the snow falling on Arizona. I’ll bet that was a shock to the system.  I was always fond of winter and snow – not so much on the aftermath, rain, slush and mud. No matter how hard you tried it was net to impossible to keep your feet dry and more often than not we arrived at school with wet feet. Not fun.

What you see here is the debris created by a single tree and these trees were  scattered over every footpath in the town. This is what the council wants to inflict on the median strips. Yes they require very little water, but to offset that, is the mess, the shallow root system and, like a second rate boxer, take a dive when the going gets tough. Can you imagine what a whole forest full of these things is like.?

Dogs, fires and funerals

20130212_191121
The Fighting Temeraire

Since I came back from Adelaide the weather has been pretty hot – in the mid 40s, so the dogs have been inside much of the time.  It has been an interesting few days – Thursday I drove back – Friday  I was at a function at the Golf Club where we were presented with a cheque for $10,000 as a donation from Arrium Mining to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Saturday we did a fundraising event and I was told that one of our parishioners had died.  This was not unexpected but came much quicker than anticipated. On Sunday I was asked if I would prepare the Order of Service. I said yes, then I was told that the funeral would be on Tuesday (Today) – which gave me one day to get into town, select the paper  for the cover from the stationers, design the Order of Service, Print the cover, print the inserts. fold collate and have it ready for the Service today = all 130  Orders of Service. So it’s been a  kind of hectic few days and the joy of the concert has already receded into the distance. I have a Filofax and without it I would be lost. I need it to keep track of what I am doing, and if I called into work – where I am. For me, it’s not some kind of statement it is a necessary means of keeping track of what I am doing. I have, over years, tried other methods, like a PDA, but I gave that up and went back to pen and paper, I sort of toyed with the idea of a tablet, but decided I could not really justify it and I honestly do prefer my  Filofax.

The hot weather over the last few days meant that the Bushfires in three states flared up again. The fires in Victoria came very close to the City of Melbourne. Here in South Australia we remembered mountain firethe Ash Wednesday Fire of 1983 which tore through South Australia and Victoria and killed 75 people, including 17 firefighters. Two firefighters have been killed in Victoria in the last week by falling trees. Apparently, the fire just north of Melbourne is now under control and people are being allowed back into their homes. The Grampians Fire is still burning out of control and has joined up with another fire. There are about 400 firefighters and water bombers fighting that one. The interesting thing is that many of these men and women fighting the fires and  standing into danger are unpaid volunteers. We have a dual system, one paid and one manned by volunteers. The Metropolitan Fire Service  (MFS) is based in the city and is staffed by paid personnel while the  Country Fire Service (CFS) is staffed by volunteers. It’s compromise between the State Government and  some 430 rural communities – the government supplies the engines and the  equipment – the volunteers use it.

Adelaide, concerts and home to dogs

Scruffy - because she really was.  :o)The drive down to Adelaide was quiet and uneventful. It was a five hour drive – four and a half or less if you want to go  a fair bit over the speed limit – but I find that 110kph is fine and takes me where I want to go in the time I want to get there. Really excellent day – warm and sunny and being mid-week, little traffic on the road until the outskirts of the City. I drove into the city and met up with my son. We had lunch together. He is down at the corporate office for a while learning a different aspect to the organisation than what he is used to. I think they are going to change him from the mining section for a while.

I spent some time in the city before heading off  for a shower, change of clothes and off to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre for the Celtic Thunder Concert.  I have to say it was a great concert and it was all over far too soon.  I cannot remember when three hours passed so quickly. I really enjoyed the concert and it was a very good Christmas Present from my sons.  The only drawback is that they have to put up with the music – Hey!! It’s MY car  :o)  The drive back home was also uneventful and I did not get to the Garden Centre because I left early. On a warm to hot day it’s best to  do the driving in the morning before the sun starts to bite.  I didn’t have any dogs with me this time down and – barring incidents – I will not be back inAdelaide until late May.

My dogs are odd when it comes to cars. The little man curls up and goes to sleep – sometimes he comes over and sleeps on my lap. The other one, Chienna – she whines non stop. This is something we just don’t understand. We have had her since she was seven weeks old and she has grown up with us. She has never had a bad experience in the car but she does have ultra sensitive hearing and noises really stress her out, so perhaps that has something to do with it. We had her at the Vet. last week and changed the medication that she gets in the event of a thunder storm. We can also use these to calm her down if we ever have to take her for long dont Askdistances in the car. One of my very first dogs had cancer and the vet (at that time) wanted to put her down. I refused on the grounds that this was a pretty rough way to repay all her devotion over the years. I said I would be willing to nurse her, knowing that it would not end well. He gave her medication to  take away the pain and we nursed her, carrying her outside when necessary and just making sure she was comfortable. We only had her for a few months more but we all made certain that she was in no doubt that she was loved and cared for and one day I sat on the floor beside her, she put her head on my lap and she died. I was heartbroken – we all were because she went everywhere with us – making sure that anyplace we went to was “dog friendly’. Not as easy to find as you might think – although starting to become a lot easier today.

Jazz, conferences, Warships and dogs.

My FordI suppose the last post, quoting an American President, was a bit cheeky, but there you are. I don’t really bother with political commentators, but I sort of liked Reagan – not taking sides here, but liked the man.  My idea of planting the plants in pots rather than in the soil seems to be working – well they are still alive so that’s a plus. I didn’t go to the garden centre on the way back out of the city.  It was a long and not very productive day and I just wanted to get back home. These days, we talk a lot but we really don’t do much. The next conference is in April and I think I might have a cold, or something…   It had been my intention to pay a visit to the State Art Gallery where there is an exhibition of the works of JM Turner.  Hanging above my desk is a reproduction of  ” The Fighting Temeraire” and it would have been really excellent to see the actual painting.  Now, that’s interesting – the SA Exhibition is ‘Turner from the Taite” but the Fighting Temeraire  is part of the National Gallery (London) collection, so I should think it unlikely that the Temeraire will be in Adelaide and that’s a great pity.

There was a little girl  (Fox Terrier) requiring a lift down to Adelaide so I said I would take her with me. However, she was picked up from SADR and taken down yesterday, so she will now be settling in to her new home.  I head off to a concert tomorrow and that will be me finished with Adelaide until May and I will be there for a week for the General Assembly. Days are taken up, evening I have to myself. There is a dinner on the Tuesday  night, but I will not be attending that;  however not far from the hotel is a Pasta  Restaurant and I am a sucker for Italian and Chianti.  “She who must be obeyed”  cannot travel, so I will be there on my own – me a computer , a smartphone and a Kindle. What more does a fellow need – except his babies, and I will miss them. It’s been a couple of years since I was away from them for more than two days at a time.

We did a fundraiser out in the bush in the middle of nowhere – Jazz Under the Stars – and this is a photograph I took of the car in the middle of nowhere on its way to that ridge you can see up ahead.  Good going in, fun driving out in the dark.

I was always told that if there are two dogs the female generally sleeps with the male human and the male sleeps with the  female human. No one could have told my two because he sleeps Samsung the noo 036with me and she sleep with herself.  If I was really desperate and because I have small dogs, my hammock is way out of their reach and besides,  they don’t like the swinging motion of the hammock – it seems to upset them. I know this because I took one of them onto the hammock with me and he was not very impressed.  He fought to get down and I could not let him just jump down onto the paving  because he could really have hurt himself. I had to  put him back down to earth.   The hammock is outside under the pergola, not in my bedroom  :o)

Dogs, adoption and Adelaide

Adelaide;

Why do we transport dogs to Adelaide for adoption?  Why not adopt locally? Ok. Only this week a little Maltese Cross was tied up outside a local supermarket in a shopping area. It was a very warm day and it was only when the little thing started going into distress that people realised something was very wrong. Dog owners frequently take their dog with them when they go to the supermarket, tie the dog up outside, get their milk or whatever, leave,  pick up the dog and go home. It’s common practice – but this character (whoever he may be), tied the dog up and vanished. Because it is a common enough sight, no one really paid much attention for several hours. Once it was discovered that there was a problem and the owner was nowhere in sight, the RSPCA (ASPCA??) were called.  Not so very long ago two puppies were tied up to a tree 10 miles from town and left there. They were spotted by a passing motorist who called the RSPCA and the dogs were taken to the pound.  To paraphrase the words of the late President Reagan ” locally is not the solution to the problem – locally is the problem.”  Backyard breeders are a problem and dogs – and kittens – get dumped on the doorstep of the local vet. The staff have frequently come to open up in the morning and found a box on the doorstep with two, or more puppies in it.  The other problem is that this is a kill pound. Two weeks is all they can stay, then they are euthanised. I cannot foster because of my own dogs but I  do what I can and help out with my frequent trips to Adelaide, but we do have a good number of people who cae enough to TasFirefoster until a new home is found. Oh but we are not uncivilised and  the council no longer uses a gas chamber, but uses a lethal injection. The gas chamber was taken out of service in 2009.

Queensland and Northern New South Wales are recovering from major flooding whilst  parts of Victoria and Tasmania are again having serious fire problems. I have a friend in Tasmania who sent me some photographs  of the fire in the hills above her property. They look quite disturbing and orders are out for evacuations. I said before, in this little corner of the commonwealth we are relatively free from real extremes of weather, fires and floods.

I find it interesting how attitudes change over time – well mine has.  I once looked on my trips to town as a bonus,  because  the early start to the Saturday Conference meant I  had to travel down on the Friday. However as the participants have become, over the years, more and more  metro centric ( if it’s good for Adelaide it MUST be good for the whole of the State) and have this belief that nothing of any importance happens beyond the Adelaide boundaries, I have come to look on the  Conferences as the price I have to pay for my frequent trips to the city. Sad, really. Still,  the dogs that I help to rehome benefit and that can’t be a bad thing.

Council, dogs and trees

20130207_120419When I head off to Adelaide on Friday I will not be alone. I contacted the SADR ( South Australian Dog Rescue) and I will be taking two little dogs down to their new homes in Adelaide – or surounds.  We stop about 30 minutes before we hit the city proper where we have a hand over point, in a well known location that everyone can get to.  The new family meet me out there and I  hand the dogs over. Generally I contact them about an hour or so out to give them time to get to the drop off point. I went in to see the SADR and told them I would be leaving on Friday. I didn’t take any dogs down with me last trip because I was going directly to the Flinders Medical Center – a very large teaching and research hospital on the far side of the city –  which takes me well away from the drop off point at Gepps Cross.

The argument continues and the planting of any tree has been halted whilst various council members  battle it out -native trees vs exotic trees. Personally I prefer the exotic trees particularly the Jacaranda . One particular councillor suggests that an avenue of native trees can be quite striking and I suppose that’s so, if you hire people to clean up the mess of limbs and bark and and are not too bothered that nothing will grow near them. So, all you get is a tree that will  break in a reasonable wind, shed bark and clutter up the drains and enhance the dry, dusty outlook of the town – great, go for it.. But they  (council) have admitted that the greening project has not lived up to expectations. Repairs to the system are in the process of being carried out whilst we continue to argue about what trees to plant.20130207_120734

After a week of fairly cool weather we went back into heatwave conditions again, but I don’t think we will make the  necessary conditions for a “heatwave”. Already the temperature is starting to drop back to manageable levels.  The dogs have been inside for most of that time. If the temperature starts to climb again then it will be unlikely that I will have companions on the way down to Adelaide because I, for one,  cannot drive for five an a half hours without some sort of break and I will need fuel and having them remain in the car whilst I fuel up is not a good idea. Without the A/C the inside of the car can become very hot very quickly- even with windows partly open , and little dogs don’t handle the heat too well. Generally when the temperature is above 35, we don’t transport dogs to Adelaide. I generally stop a number of times along the way when I have a dog with me – more than I do when I am on my own. However, tomorrow should be ok.

These are two photographs of parts of the town. The top one is taken from the  Lookout – actually they are both taken from the Lookout – the bottom photograph being the Foreshore.