Lighthouse, Wetlands and Spencer Gulf

Benji at the lighthouse.

Friday 22nd. Just after lunch I  put a blanket over the front seat in the car, strapped Benji in and off we went to the Lighthouse. It was a lovely day, warm but not hot, so it was a comfortable ride for the 24 miles. Of course, with the air conditioner on it would have been a comfortable ride anyway, but he did what he usually does, curl up facing me and  have a nap. We spent some time wandering about and it was good for us to be out and about again after all the hot weather we have had recently.

We came back home by way of the town center and I  went into the lolly shop and bought 250gms of sugared almonds, because I knew she had them in for the first time in a long time. I know, but it’s my indulgence and they remind me of my childhood in Scotland – every lovely crunch of them. In the evening, after the news, I took Benji down to the wetlands. It’s been a while since we were there. To say I was shocked is an understatement. The amount of water loss is incredible. With the continued drought and the fact that there is no

The loss of water at the wetlands

water going into the system, this, plus the water going out to water the trees, lawns and plants has really taken its toll. Having said that, it did rain for a bit last night and although it rained for several hours, it was fairly light rain and didn’t make a lot of difference to anything.

Today both Annabell and I are  exhausted.  The family at the back of us were having an 18th Birthday Party. The father came around and told his neighbours  what was going to happen and said he would try and keep the music to a reasonable level. Well, that was a lie right there! He did  indicate that they were going to play music, but they didn’t. I don’t know what the heck it was they played but music it was not – it was just a thump, thump, thump. My son follows Iron Maiden, and some other sort of heavy metal and though I  don’t like to admit it, it is music – of a sort – but this last night, until 2am was just a continual thump, thump, thump. I almost took a serious dislike when the alarm went off at 6am. I did not have

The Spencer Gulf at the Lighthouse.

a good night, but Benji and I went out for our walk in the calm,  early, cloud covered morning. Today was the Congregation Annual General Meeting, so  church was well over two hours long. I think Annabell is resting – good for her. We go back to the doctor this week and we expect he will increase the  amount of her insulin again. At the moment she is not too bad, but  the readings are still higher than he would like.  ( He did increase the  level to 17ml.)

The drought continues to bite in the north of South Australia and over in Victoria. There has also been high and strong winds that have  turned the bare paddocks into dust bowls and animals are starting to perish for lack of food and water and the dust that gets everywhere – into the animal eyes and mouth. There’s not a lot of help being handed out. Must have looked away for a moment and when I looked back, March is just about finished and we are rushing towards April. Today – Thursday 28th –  Dougal is coming to stay for a little while. I have no idea how long this time as Ina is still in a Respite Center outside of Adelaide.

Under our system, you can qualify for traveling assistance if you have to travel for treatment.  The hospital at the Port does not have Nuclear Medicine facilities – our hospital does. So  this lady had to travel from Port Augusta to Whyalla for treatment –  a distance of 80 klms. ( 160kms round trip) She does not quality for assistance because the cut off point is 100 klms.  This lady is traveling 160 klms twice a week for treatment but does not  receive assistance. This was highlighted with the  Minister for Health and he  agrees that many of the  rules were made to  apply to Adelaide not the country areas. He has promised to have a look and overhaul where necessary.

Dogs, Emus and Daleks

Friendly ?!!?

On Saturday 8th April, there was a tribute music festival to a local singer who died recently and, whom I am ashamed to say, I never heard of. Anyway, the RFDS was asked to provide the Barbecue for the event and we were happy to do this. I was not rostered on but I went  up in the early afternoon to see how things were and if they needed anything. Everything was ok, but I was still very concerned because over in the far corner was this creature. They said it was “Friendly”but I  was unaware that there was such a creature in the universe as a “Friendly Dalek”.

The warm weather looks to be over and we have started to hit the skids as the temperature for the coming week does not rise above 26c. The mornings have been a bit on the cool side so I should think about changing into a heavier jacket when I take the dogs out. Probable a good thing that the trip to Quorn took place when it did and when the weather was warm and sunny.

After church today we had a management meeting, so it was a while before we came back home. One would have thought that we had been away for years,  WaWa went ballistic, the tail going like crazy. I bent down to pet her and she practically  jumped into my hands, so I picked her up.  The tail was still going and she licked my face and my head and my ear and my face, then my neck and all Annabell could do was stand and watch in amazement – this was the WaWa that just two months ago would have torn my fingers  (and she did)  to shreds if I tried to touch her.  After a little while I decided enough was enough and I wanted to go and look after Benji – he is not being neglected. The WaWa is an “inside”dog and I

Driving to Quorn

spend a good amount of time outside and Benji is always with me. The beach is with both but Road Trips are me and Benji. In fact it has been warm and sunny outside and the Benji and me were working in the garden for the morning and early afternoon – until Annabell came back from the Coffee Ladies. Next week is to be in the mid 20c, so we might be able to get out and about for a few hours. I think sometime next week a second trip to Quorn might be on the cards. This might be the last one because I think  the lady was only booked in there for four weeks and that’s almost up. We don’t know what will happen after that. Quorn only accepted her on the understanding that it would only be for four weeks. At the moment Quorm will be very busy with the Easter Traffic and the Pichi Richi Heritage Steam Train  running over the entire long Easter weekend.

Whyalla News Photographs

Victoria may have Kangaroos, but we have visiting Emus. Thus far this week we have had three  different pairs of emu wandering the streets. The police, along with Wildlife Protection have had the task of getting them back into the wild. Motorists were not “emused” at the traffic chaos they caused. These photographs are from the” Whyalla News” Whilst they were here they decided that since it was a nice day they would have a wander around the beach – more problems for the local police. There was one just around the corner from the house that the RSPCA and the Wildlife people were trying to get into a pen and then back into the bush. And no I did not take the camera  since I figured Cortza and her people had enough to do without me getting in the way with a camera. As it turned out the Emu had a slight injury which  Cortza wanted checked out by the Vet before they released in back into the bush.

Nearly back to Normal.

Some of the blame game and the complaints have started already with truck drivers unhappy with the closure of Port Wakefield. Also the Port Wakefield service stations have lost a lot of

Just a little bit wet.
Just a little bit wet.

money this long weekend. Anyway, one of the complaints is that the authorities were too hasty in closing down access to Port Wakefield despite the fact that the water continues to rise. The weather cleared and there has been an aerial inspection of the damage to the power pylons. In this area alone there were six pylons bent and twisted like children’s toys and overall there were 23 destroyed or damaged pylons in the system.  And just to make life interesting – another storm is bearing down on us and should be here by late Monday / Tuesday with an estimated 100mm of rain – Oh Joy!! However, the bulk of the main storm has now moved into Victoria and New South Wales. On the subject of these two  States, South Australia is very, very thankful for the teams of  Emergency Workers that have crossed the Border to help us out, assist in the clean-up and  give our emergency crews some much needed rest. Considering there are state wide floods in both Victoria and New South Wales, the help  is more than appreciated.  There is to be an investigation into the State-wide blackout and why 1.7 million people were left without power – some for 25 hours and some still waiting for the restoration of full power – Arrium, Port Pirie, Port Lincoln and Roxby Downs  for instance. Arrium is just holding things together with limited power.   The way things are going in South Australia these days I think we will soon be singing the Depression Song:

Once I built a railroad and made it run

Made it race against time

Once I built a railroad, now it’s done

Brother, can you spare a dime

Chienne and her Thundershirt
Chienne and her Thundershirt

When Chienne died last year and it was decided that I would get another dog, I made it clear that I wanted a mature dog, not a puppy. I said about 5 or 6 years old would be good. I looked at this Diego (Now Benji) and he at five – going on six , seemed to fit the bill so I travelled to Mount Gambier to have a final  look at him and bring him home. Now I know I have gone through this before but bear with me – there is a point.  I adopted him and brought him home and Annabell decided that  she should give him his name and chose, Benji.  We decided that he should have a birthday, and since we had no idea (no papers-on way) when he was born the date of his adoption was chosen as his Birthday.  Last  Tuesday, the day before the storm,  his final papers came from Victoria and I learned that he was born on  the First Day of May 2013. In other words, he was a puppy, really. Not what I wanted at all. But although I didn’t really know the difference, my Vet never corrected me or said anything that would lead me to believe me I was wrong and that he was much younger than I believed. However, the rescue group is a small scale operation and funding is what they can raise, so they wouldn’t have the resources to do any investigation and probably accepted what they had been told.  What is for sure is that if his real age had been known, yes,  it is very possible I would have passed him over and looked for something else, but the universe has a way of arranging these things and I stopped, looked and having looked long enough, I knew he was for me. I did buy him a Birthday Present for tomorrow so I will still wrap it up and give it to him.

Me and some of my toys
Me and some of my toys

There was a very rare occurrence here during the week. A set of smaller  fingers got onto my computer – which I had foolishly left open – and wrote comments on several places. Then, having been found out attempted to delete everything as she had been shown in school. I have no idea where she went or what she did, but I will wait and see if there is  any fallout and correct and apologies where I can – if I can.

Sun is shining, birds are singing, trees are in blossom – it’s spring!! And – it be 33c in our little corner of the universe. Blue skies for the remainder of the week :o) This time next week – on the way to Adelaide – will probably rain!!

 

Fires, thunderstorms and fires

Fires burning out of control 90 miles from here.
Fires burning out of control 90 miles from here.

Over 20 fires are still burning in South Australia and the residents in the Northern Grampians in Victoria have been told to be ready to evacuate as a massive fire burns out of control. Once our fires are under control we will be able to spare firefighters to go over to Victoria and help out. I am so glad that we don’t do fires or floods here. The heat has not abated any and we are still in the mid to high 40s and have been for five days now.  I have tried my best with water and mulch but my plants have just burned off and the Natives are struggling. And the constant wind means that my garden has become a leaf depository on steroids. Once this heat is over and we go back to normal it will take me ages to clean the place up. The heat I can take but I have never known a period when we have had constant wind day in-day out and it becomes more of a struggle to keep the place clean because the dust gets everywhere.  The wind is fanning the fires burning out of control some 95 miles away in the National Park. However the main threat is in Victoria where several small town have been evacuated.

Right at this very moment we are in the middle of a thunderstorm and Chienne is going gaga. Her distress is now passed to the Man and he is a bit upset. It is loud and it is a bit scary. I have medicated Chienne but I am reluctant to give anything to the Man that I have not already cleared with the Vet.  The Thunderstorm is a cause for further concern and it is believed that the lightening could spark off further Fires. Tomorrow the temperature is due to crash from 44c today to an overnight low of 30c and then down to a cool 28c tomorrow, and then we just wait for the next belting  :o)

It’s down to 29c at the moment but over the border in Victoria fires are still burning out of control and although conditions in the South East of  SA are starting to ease, we still have a couple of fires burning out of control with over 12 homes destroyed. If the cool weather lasts for a bit. I’ll  go out and  plant the Pencil Pines.

The cool weather is really not helping the areas where the fires are burning because of the wind change – and it’s a fairly strong wind. All it’s doing is causing the fires to change direction and

The fires on the far side of the Spencer Gulf
The fires on the far side of the Spencer Gulf

add more problems for the hundreds of firefighters battling the blazes.  I have posted here a photograph that was taken from a hill at the foreshore. In the foreground to the left, is the Iron Ore export jetty and in the distance, over the water is the fires burning on the hills at Port Germain about twenty miles away. And yes I did say that the fires were a long way from us and that’s true (170 klms by road) but I have not yet seen or heard of a fire that can travel across 20 – 25 miles over open water.

I am still having major problems with my email system and I know I’ve just lost another batch of mail. It was there this morning but when I went back into MS Outlook a little while later it was all gone. I cannot find it anywhere, so it looks as if I am going to have to bite the bullet, buy a new MS Outlook – from Outlook 2010 –  Outlook 2013- and see where we go from there. If it cannot be fixed it might be just as cheap to have a new battery put into the AppleMac and abandon the PC. Please understand I am not ignoring anyone. Everything else is fine, just MS Outlook.

Wheelchairs, native plants and a virus

Samsung the noo 036
Me and my Teddy Bear!

The drive to Adelaide was fine until Port Wakefield then it rained all the way in for the last 150 klms. I had written about our trip and the problems we encountered but somehow or other it just didn’t save, and I don’t know why.  However, that aside, after some delays we brought Alan home and he has now been with us since late Saturday. He is quite frail and since he is on heavy doses of Warfarin ,this means that he has to go for blood tests every few days – something we were not told.  We were also not told that he can barely walk so I have managed to get a wheelchair for a while and that, at least, will allow me to take him out and about without worrying about his stability. However, he is family and he is here and we  will look after him and  try to keep him  as active as we can. I have to take him to the hospital tomorrow and then I am going to take him on a road trip over to the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens. I want some new plants for the new area I have prepared and  we can have lunch – if we get away from the hospital in time.

The eremophila are doing well (I think – well they are still alive) and I want to look at some native bushes. I do not know much about plant names but my Native Plant book calls them – ” Correa Reflexa” – Native Fuchsia / “Pomaderris  Obcordata” /  Wedge – leaved Pomaderris and I will take the book with me. They are Arid – low rainfall plants so they should be available in the Gardens. If they are not, I am certain they will have something similar. I did not get the opportunity to find out since  it has been raining for most of the day. If I had been on my own I would have gone through to the Arid Lands Botanic Garden, but the thought of pushing a wheelchair all the way from the car park to the shop and nursery in the rain did not really appeal to me. And the oddest thing is that the temperature climbed to 40c  in other areas and sparked off several bush fires, one in South Australia and one in Victoria.  After Easter, I will try and organise the trip to the Arid Lands Botanic Garden.

Quick update : I have influenza and  quite painful – but provided I don’t sneeze or cough, or talk too much I am fairly good. It’s sort of like the old comedian joke ” It only hurts when I laugh”. I feel like (and probably look like) an idiot wandering around with one of these medical face masks on and if you should go to my doctor’s surgery, he insists that you wear one – and no, he’s not Japanese. Modern trend I guess.

PS. It’s still raining.

The sun has got his hat on.

A few minutes walk from the house
A few minutes walk from the house

The weather has warmed up again and I have been back out in the garden. I am working on  the Crazy Paved  area and trying to decide what to do with it. The blemishes make it unusable for herself. It had been my intention to make this her clothes line area but the  ground is so uneven that I really cannot expect herself to walk on it in safety – but I have already gone through all this. I have started the re-edging and am halfway through that. Once I have that completed I will make a decision on what to do, but I rather suspect I am leaning towards having it concreted over – it would be just too much to  big a job and much too time-consuming to dig it out and start again – not that I would anyway.  It looks  fairly reasonable from a distance but up close it is badly done and very uneven. It’s the devil to try and keep clean  because the dust and leaves get into the cracks and the uneven divisions between the stones and make it a hard job to sweep.   I started by saying that the weather was warming, but in this little corner of the Commonwealth, it can heat up to a point where it really is silly to go out and work (unless you have an occupation that requires outside work) because the temperature can really do nasty thing to you. I personally believe that working outside in the garden in temperatures of 46c  (115f) is pointless because it is exhausing and draining, and that’s what the temperature climbed up to on Monday and despite being watered, fed and mulched, many plants died. I have questioned the  contents of plant information tickets – they say the plant can be full sun, but what does that mean? Does it mean full sun in the highlands of Victoria or full sun on the edge of the desert in northern South Australia. I rather suspect they are  created in Victorian and New South Wales temperatures and not for  40+ of  country South Australia, so “Full Sun” does not really relate to this little corner of the world. Our ‘ Full Sun”  kills them off. I was told that they should survive if I  ensure that the ground is mulched to protect the roots and that they are well watered, but it really didn’t make a lot of difference and the only two plants that survived the extreme heat of  last week were the two “Sturt’s Desert Pea” – which is not really all that surprising since it is a plant well adapted to desert life. However, they are short lived plants and will really only last the season, but at least I might have some colour.

A “feature” of our part of the world is a North Wind. In many parts of the world, particularly in the UK, a North Wind is a very cold wind – they even have a poem about it ” The North Wind doth blow and we shall have snow” Well here, the North Wind is a  hot wind that blows off the hot desert and pushes temperatures up as well as being draining, making the heat worse than it is already. The dogs have been inside in the cool.