Saturday, 26 January 2013

I Survived the Bushfires

While driving to the store, I passed a burnt out section of highway, when something caught my eye. I had to go back to take her picture. How she got there is anybody's guess.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

A Grateful Community

After last week's fires which are continuing after 10 days, the fireys deserve all the thanks we can muster.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Aftermath

Today the road was finally opened so we went to see what it was like beyond our beautiful bubble.

The sun, red from the smoky air

The haze continues

The weatherboard house was saved but the bin melted in the heat.

Fire had lapped up to the edges of the house, burning all the grass surrounding it, yet the house was saved.

This is right next to the weatherboard house.

Burnt right down to the river's edge

Power lines were down but surprisingly our town a few kilometres away didn't lose power.

My favourite flock of geese survived. It was good to see them swimming in their usual spot.

Smouldering trees

We were very happy to see that our village survived.
I know its a dead tree but this tree is my favourite tree to photograph. Here it is before the fire.

And after. Looks like during the fire storm it lost some limbs.
This photo was published on facebook the other night and shows what was going on. It's taken not far from my favourite tree. I must say I love this shot and I think Charles Tewes, who took it was extremely hardy to be in amongst it all. Beautiful photograph, Charles.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Oh What a Night!

Yesterday began like any other Friday, pottered about, then decided to travel to a nearby town to get some food and the Lotto tickets. While driving there, I noticed smoke over one of the hills and it was looking fierce. It was already 41C and the air conditioner in the car was working overtime. On my return, I was about to turn into the only road that takes me into my beach side village when I was stopped by the police. She told me that I could get home but no where else as every other road around the district was closed due to the bushfires which had taken a severe turn as the wind was getting stronger and stronger. When I got home I suggested that we pack up and leave to the bearded wonder, as the road I had just traveled was still open but for how long I didn't know, but he was reluctant to leave. I started to worry when I looked out my back door and saw this...
 We were listening to radio updates about what we should do and they suggested that we go to the beach for safety, but as it was so hot, we decided to stay home for as long as we felt safe, as we had air conditioning there. It gave us more time to plan what to take and to tidy up anything that might be flammable near the house. I loaded a container with food for my chooks and made sure they had plenty of water.  During the day they were receiving mistings of cold water to try to alleviate any heat stress. 

Finally at 5.30pm the police turned up at the door and suggested we get out then and there. So we turned up at the beach complete with chairs, esky, food, radio,pillows and blanket. It was still too damn hot so we both took to the water, in our clothes, to cool off.  

Most of the neighbours had left town while they had the chance but one lot stayed like we did and joined us on the beach. It was quite a social occasion, sharing food and drinks and chatting away, meanwhile answering our phones to people who were concerned for our well being.
  As the sun went down, the reality of the situation was beginning to hit home. Through radio reports we learned that a neighbouring town had lost 65 buildings including the school, a petrol station and the police station. There is a canal through the town and people had reportedly jumped in the canal and had to stay in the water for 3 hours till the danger passed. There were people missing and one believed dead. The sky was glowing red behind us. 
 Later in the evening our neighbour cooked up a feed of fresh flathead which he had caught earlier that morning. How delicious! Then the firies came and told everyone at the beach to move to the other end of the beach as the fire was getting mighty close. The smoke was thick and I was relieved that my asthma was not triggered by it. 

By the time we got to the other end of the beach it was dark and there were people everywhere and several cars on the beach. We tried to find a spot that we could settle in and be safe away from accidently being run over. We lay there listening to the radio which was all about the fires, people looking for their loved ones and information to help people in other areas that other fires were heading for. People had their dogs and I even saw 2 Shetland ponies tied to a cars bumper with a huge bucket of water for them to drink. We watched the flames coming closer and the sky turning blood red and the trees being engulfed. I took this photo of the moon coming up over the fire front but as I was only using my iphone, the redness didn't show up.
 While on the beach we saw a flotilla of boats sail in to save anyone that wanted to go with them, but we decided to stay because if we'd gone we would have been stuck somewhere else without out car or food. But many people took them up on their offer. I heard on the radio that over 1000 people from all over the peninsula had been ferried to safety by the volunteers that came out in their boats.

At 1.30am, a cold change came through and we could see the fire blowing back on itself which was great as it was now going away from our house. We were too cold on the beach as our 1 blanket wasn't even pretending to add any warmth against the cold, gusting winds so we opted for sitting in our car where we had a great view of the fire which was heading our way. There was no sleeping for me as I thought I had better remain alert incase we needed to dash to the beach again for safety. The bearded wonder however, slept like a baby. 

When the sun came up at 5am, I could see across the bay and see my house safe and sound and all I wanted was to get back to it to sleep in my own bed BUT we hadn't been told that it was safe to go. The bearded wonder decided that we should go for a drive and see what was happening when we came across the police and they gave us permission to go home. I was concerned as I could see the flames still but I thought we would have an evacuation notice later if things turned bad. We fell into bed at 5.30am and slept till nine when the phones went mad with family needing to know our wellbeing. 

We are still stuck in this town and don't know when the road will be ready for us to leave. The people who are left are all going fishing as I sit here and watch boat after boat go passed my window.

 I am so fortunate that I am a food stockpiler and whatever the eventuation, I will have enough for 3 months if the power doesn't go off. Looking forward to a peaceful day. The fire is still going but the wind has stilled. Hopefully we will not have a repeat tonight.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Makes You Think!

Dear Coles,

Let me start by offering my most sincere apologies to Taleeshar, of aisle 4 in your Newstead store. Being in business myself, I understand the need to provide our younger generation with clear, concise instructions in the workplace environment.

As most people under the age of 25 suffer from some sort of acquired stupidity syndrome, I don’t blame your 17-year-old manager for telling Taleeshar to stuff the shelves with Hot Cross Buns as if her life depended on it, and bugger the customers. But I was in a hurry, and she wouldn’t get out of my way.

I’m sorry I screamed “where the fuck are the vegetables?’’ at her. She’s probably mentally scarred, and will need to retire for a while to the back of the store where your staff hide their stolen cigarettes and Red Bull.

But she was blocking the entire aisle, and I dreaded the detour through aisle 5, which consists entirely of fizzy drinks, small children and large, slow-moving shoppers from the lesser suburbs.

On that subject, congratulations on the display at the front of the store. A stroke of marketing genius – offering 30 can blocks of Pepsi for just $17.99 – and weren’t the shoppers from the recently mentioned lesser suburbs lapping up the opportunity to fill their refrigerator with carbonated chemicals?

After my last visit when I was unapologetically sold snot-encrusted smiley Devon for $30k per kilogram, I was reluctant to approach the deli area. So I snuck in to the store by squeezing past an obese disability pensioner, who was enthusiastically purchasing his five cartons of Pepsi and leftover Christmas ham at one of the two remaining human-powered checkouts.

This meant I avoided walking past the single remnant of your former checkout team, who has now been given the opportunity to maintain her employment by handing out shopping baskets.

No doubt Coles has a career path mapped out for this young lady, who can no longer look forward to a lifetime of scanning home-brand items whilst pretending to be nice to customers.

I didn’t need a basket. Launceston has been unseasonably warm this week, and my guinea pigs (Dougall McDougall and Arnold – no surname, just Arnold) appreciate cooling treats to help cope with the hot days. I was just after some watermelon, and possibly a few cobs of corn, given they’re usually in surplus at this time of year.

Did you know corn contains anti-cancer properties, thanks to the presence of ferulic acid? But only when cooked. I find that interesting, given my guinea pigs prefer it raw. I hope they never succumb to cancer, as I doubt I could cope with the guilt.

Perhaps fortunately for the future health of my guinea pigs, you didn’t have any corn left. Or watermelon. Actually, if you look at the photograph attached, you didn’t have much left at all. Except cartons of Pepsi.

There were no oranges. No bananas. The corn, as I’ve just mentioned, was missing. I couldn’t locate any capsicums – another excellent anti cancer agent.

Cucumbers were absent.

A small bin of green beans caught my eye, but although keenly priced at 99 cents per kilogram, they appeared about as appetising as the dying broad leaved weeds in my lawn.

The asparagus was imported. Carrots, a rich source of a range of health-giving nutrients were tired, woody and in any event, there were only two left.

As is the custom, the few leafy vegetables were packed in bags, and marked down to 99 cents. A solitary, nasty looking cabbage lurked nearby.

My biggest disappointment was the complete absence of fresh figs. I know I’ve criticised your new self-service checkouts before, but that was months ago. I’ve since worked out that by weighing the figs as brushed potatoes, their price reduces from $29.99 per kilogram to a much more reasonable $2.49.

As an older person, bowel health is important, so I hope you understand this little trick I play from time to time. I mean, Coles makes plenty of money from poker machines, so I doubt a few discount figs will make shareholders too unhappy.

Tomorrow threatens to be another hot day. Temperatures in the mid 30s. My guinea pigs will suffer, and I won’t be able to comfort them with chilled watermelon.

Could you deliver some for me? Dougall prefers his with the rind removed, but Arnold doesn’t mind so much. Just make sure you remove the plastic wrapper.

Tom Ellison