Friday, February 27, 2009

No Gratitude for our Hospitality

This week we saw a young man on CCTV having his head kicked by Sudanese youths at a suburban railway station. We watch as he is shadowed by the three along a narrow corridor, how they spoke to him then shoved him down and aimed deliberately at his head. He tried to get up a couple of times, but they kicked him down again.

Apart from this shocking violence from the recipients of our refuge policies, there was more. A young couple stepped into the corridor, and walked quietly past, obviously nervous, but made no attempt to help. I am assuming that they told no-one, because after the men left, the injured man stumbled to his feet, bouncing backwards and forwards between the walls as he went to find help. No-one came, so I am assuming the couple did nothing. Good to know we all take care of each other.

I'm not sure but I think this man is still in hospital with 'serious head injuries'. Two of the three men have been arrested.

They have come from a place where violence is normal, and landing in 'safe' Australia, they form gangs and cause this sort of mayhem to peaceful Australians.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Close Call

Mr Bliss had a fright three days ago while he was messing around out in his shed. He stood on a rake which had the classic reaction of smashing up into his face. The rake was old and had a frayed pointy end on the handle. It knocked his glasses off his nose and whacked him in the eye, which made him turn the air blue with his cursing.

On examination, there was blood running out of his eye and the eyeball looked a bit scraped. He went off to the hospital to wait the interminable wait in casualty, and came home with drops and a patch on his eye.

He was very lucky that he didn't pop the eyeball, but he is recovering, and back to firefighting again today. Another check with a doctor yesterday showed it was healing well, so we can both breathe a sigh of relief.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bye Old Dog

My old poodle died yesterday, very suddenly, and presumably from a heart attack.

He spent most of his afternoons contentedly dozing on the front veranda, watching his two beloved gals playing or dozing around him. Every now and again he would stagger clumsily to his feet for a drink of water, as his kidneys have been dicey for a few years, wander round for a moment then settle with a heavy sigh back on his cushion. Dinner time is about 4.30, and he would stand hopefully peering through the door for his big bowl to be put in front of him. Another drink and some more time on that cushion until bedtime out in the doggie runs at 7pm.

I've just bought a new laptop and spent yesterday afternoon transfering piles of files from the old pooter to the new. He was not in the front of my brain, so when he didn't appear at the door looking for his bowlfull, I didn't think much of it and went looking for him, until I spotted him down by the gate.

He was lying quietly on his side, legs stretched out like he was asleep, but he wasn't. He must have gone for a wander and felt bad and just laid down and died.

His two lady friends came out with me and looked and sniffed at him, looked sadly at me and walked away. It's so simple in the animal world.

Mr Bliss (thanks for the name girls, I like it!) was away at the fires again, and wouldn't be back until dark, so I sent a trunk radio message out for him to ring me and come home ASAP for a burial.

He did and chose a nice spot down in the forest under the gum trees and buried him there.

But what a nice old dog, and for us, so lucky to have lived so long, as his history tried to undo him many times. He had a heart murmur, 2 separate snake bites, bloat (stomach twist needing surgery), and a cruciate ligament snapped at the rear. He lived through all of those and reached the venerable age of 15.

He had a gentle lovable nature and was known to nip his very favourite visitors in his pleasure at seeing them, so everyone knew to guard against his passion by holding his head away.

He visited oldies in the old folks' homes and we got quite famous making it onto the front page of the local newspaper, and reached Australian Champion in his show career before he came to me.

We'll miss you, old dog.............................

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Week on...........

It's hard to describe what last Saturday was like a week after the event. I know my man had been working on the fire at Boolara and had gone out early to begin another day. The weather seemed pretty innocuous with bright sunshine and a coolish breeze. Forty six degrees was forecast, which seemed hard to believe.

Around lunchtime the heat began to kick in, and while the air conditioner did its job keeping the temperature down to 27C in the house, opening the door meant stepping out into a hot bath, with thick, super heated air. The wind whipped up into a frenzy. Small fires across on the northern ranges began sending up thick columns of smoke and creeping across the hills. Phone calls from my firefighter sounded very worried as things rapidly spiraled out of control. They were pulled off the fire line for the bulk of the day as it was deemed too dangerous.

Radio and television told of houses burning and people dying, or having near misses. Images of burnt out cars that had crashed into each other in the thick smoke showed the horror that must have been.

The newspapers have been full of it all week, with photos of those that died, families and heroes. A seventeen year old boy took his camera and filmed while his parents rushed around trying to save their house.

A dehydrated wild koala with burned paws was filmed as he drank from a fireman's bottle, trusting and desperate.

Cities grew on football ovals as thousands, who had no place to go, moved into army tents.

One hundred and eighty one people have died at last count, and many more are in hospital with burns.

Australia began to donate to a Red Cross fund for the survivors which now totals over $81,000,000. The Australian Cricket team and Shane Warne visited the oval and plays cricket with the kids, and a telethon with many of Australian elite performers were on board.

In the middle of all this excitement, my man gets up at 5.30 am and leaves at 6 to start at 7, and works on the fire line all day to return home at 9 or 10 pm. He arrives with blackened face and clothes, smelling of soot, happy to be home and safe for another day. The DSE firemen do not figure much on the TV, as they are usually working hard in the forest away from the cameras, but he's my hero.


I spent a couple of days in hospital this week to have my knee manipulated under anesthetic and am hoping to get a better result once the pain and swelling subsides.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bad Weather

Well, we had the longest hot spell on record in Victoria last week. In my mathematics 45C turns into 112F, which is hot. The air con that we bought the winter before last kept me at a cool 27 inside, but that was so I could watch as my garden just frizzled away. There is now enormous damage everywhere I look, but it's too early to trim all the burnt bits off. They will have to wait until autumn, just in case we get more.

Anticipating some summer heat, the week before I pressed my man into building me a shade cloth sail to stretch out over the veggie garden and that is not so destroyed. Instead that was ruined by my feeding the plants blood and bone and Dynamic Lifter the month before, not knowing he had mixed in super phosphate to throw all on the paddocks. That literally burned holes in the leaves and annihilating some all together. This year's veggies are struggling now. The zucchinis, which are usually producing more that I need are just a few sprouting husks.

Time to let go.

By the end of the heat our first deliberately lit forest fire took off up the line near Mirboo North, so my man was called away to help. He has been delivering fuel to the dozer drivers carving out containment lines around it and has been gone for four days, back tonight for a rest, then probably off again.

Twenty nine homes were lost, so the police are very keen to find the fire bug. I have often remarked that it would be good to put him into old fashioned stocks in the middle of the town affected and let the townspeople deal with him. Public humiliation seems like a good tool to me.

Yesterday we had a cool front move up from the west, bringing with it lightning strikes but no rain, which has started 29 new spot fires. No wind yet which can fan them into major problems.

Our summer is usually very focused on what fires are where, as my man comes and goes with the flow.


Needing some human contact, rather that up here talking to the poodles for days on end, I took myself off to see 'Gran Torino', produced, directed and acted by Clint Eastwood. He's a 78 year old wrinkly now, and there is talk that this will be his last movie, but this one was a good one. He plays a dried up, grumpy old bloke who fought in the Korean War, so doesn't like Asians, and he has a whole household of them next door. Political correctness goes out the window as he calls up every unsavoury term he can think of to describe them.

He does the grumpy really well, and there are flashes of 'Dirty Harry' and other classics from his past. I enjoyed it. I heard him interviewed about it a few weeks back, and he is such a cool guy.