Moments with Dogs

Most of our Op Shop volunteers make a big fuss when customers bring babies into the shop. I guess I am not very maternal. I prefer dogs.

A few customers bring dogs and tie them up outside the shop while they browse. Sometimes we’re asked for a bowl of water for them which we are happy to supply. If it is not too warm, other customers leave their dogs in their cars with the windows open. I don’t really like this but those people don’t usually stay long. Very occasionally a customer might bring their dog inside and carry it around with them.

This week I met two dogs at the shop. One was a twelve-year-old German Shepherd whose owner had come in to find a couple of old blankets for her. Twelve is a good age for a German Shepherd so when she commented on how much her dog loved soft toys I found one for her to give it. The lady let her dog out of the car to stretch her legs and say hello to me, it was near the end of the day and I was taking things back inside the shop. She seemed to love the toy and carried it around in her mouth. I don’t know if this dog understood that the toy came from me but she came up and gave me a lick. I know a lot of people are frightened of German Shepherds but the ones I have met have all been lovely dogs.

Owczarek cezar
An elderly German Shepherd similar to the one I saw. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Owczarek_cezar.jpg

My second dog moment left me feeling quite angry. Some people had come in and were browsing while their dog, which was tied up outside near the water container, was barking and crying. The people were in the shop for a long time and it sounded to me as if the dog was getting quite distressed. One of the owners went out to check on it once but when he came back inside the dog started crying again.

I guess I am sensitive to this because Cindy gets anxious when I am away from her. I went outside to have a look at the dog and discovered it was a puppy, not a tiny puppy but only a few months old. It was at that clumsy big-footed stage. I let it sniff my hand and talked to it for a bit before thinking I had better get back to work. The owners were still shopping, they did not seem to be in much of a hurry. I went out again, my feet were hurting and I needed a rest so I thought I’d sit on the bench outside and keep the pup company for a few minutes. He cried and tried to come to me but the leash was not long enough to allow that so I went and stood beside him and patted him and told him it would be OK.

I was still out there talking to the pup when the owners came back. I was really annoyed with them by now and I said that the pup was too young to understand them being gone for so long. They said “He’s got to learn.” and “It’s better to ignore him when he cries.” I thought “Yes, but not for that long.” they must have been gone at least half an hour. So I said “I bet you wouldn’t leave a baby crying for that long.” and the woman said that she probably would.

I went back inside because there was no point in saying anything else to them but I was angry about it for the rest of the day.

RDP: Temperature

Summer in the Sixties

When I was a child I didn’t mind the hot Australian summer so much. Nobody I knew had air conditioning, we kept cool with fans, which mostly just blew hot air over us. At school, if the temperature rose above 100 degrees Fahrenheit we were allowed to go home early as the school wasn’t air conditioned either. I remember how we looked forward to those days, getting out of school early was a treat. As the temperature climbed in the afternoons our teachers would schedule easier lessons. Sometimes several classes would be herded into the hall to watch films. They were educational but sometimes there might be a funny one as well.

My old primary school in the early 1960s http://www.elizgrps.sa.edu.au/about/
My old primary school in the early 1960s http://www.elizgrps.sa.edu.au/about/

In Grade 6, the class teacher was Mr. Scott. He was quite a young man, probably not long out of Teacher’s College and he was very good at art. He used to draw amazing murals on the classroom blackboard. In fact, other teachers would often ask Mr. Scott to come and draw something on their blackboards, that’s how good he was.

On really hot days when the temperature was in the nineties and we had not yet been told we could go home Mr. Scott would try to find ways to keep our class of forty or so kids busy. Sometimes he would read poetry to us, at other times he would send a kid to get the school record player and play some music. This was in the days before DVD’s and even before VCR’s. He’d then let us get out the art materials and paint. He’d encourage us to think about cool things and it mostly seemed to work.

Once we were allowed to go it would be a hot walk home but there would be a cold drink or maybe even an iced lolly waiting. Our house in Elizabeth had a concrete floor in the laundry and two old cement wash troughs. Naomi and I often played in there on hot days as it seemed cooler than the rest of the house.

Now I’m older I find that I don’t deal with the heat all that well and rather than being fascinated by the idea of the temperature reaching a century I dislike the really hot days. I’m glad that I don’t have to sit in a hot classroom anymore but those afternoons were fun; sometimes I wonder whatever happened to Mr. Scott.

https://www.smh.com.au/opinion/school-milk-program-a-resounding-yuk-20160817-gqueyo.html

Bushfire Update: 1 March

It’s been about six weeks since the bushfires that threaten the Huon Valley began. Although we are no longer at crisis point the fires are still burning and with a hot weekend ahead there are statewide fire bans and continued warnings to be mindful that the situation could change rapidly.

The latest fire warnings.

Things are getting back to normal in the valley, but normal now includes the daily parade of fire vehicles that I see heading south as I wait for my ride to the Op Shop in the mornings. We’ve become used to seeing the helicopters that fly overhead. They are taking infrared pictures to check for hotspots. We also see the waterbombing helicopters and aircraft flying over the valley every day. The helicopters have a landing site near the school so we hear them coming and going from the shop. Yesterday we heard a few explosions as fallen trees which were too dangerous to remove manually were blown up.

A helicopter on the way to a fire in the forest outside Geeveston.

The ground crews work hard digging out the hotspots with machinery or by hand. The fires generated such heat that the soil is still hot in the places that were burned. This is a good reminder of why it’s important to be sure a campfire or rubbish fire is really out.  I have enlarged a bit of the TFS webpage information as I thought that it might be of interest to see what they do. The PFS is the Parks and Wildlife Service and the STT is Sustainable Timbers Tasmania, the forestry service they have their own firefighting units.

Community Information:
Firefighters continue to extinguish numerous active fire edges today utilising vehicle based teams, remote area teams inserted by helicopters, and walk-in teams. Crews are supported by aircraft providing targeted water drops to mop up hot areas.

TFS, PWS, STT and supporting agencies will aim to contain and extinguish the fires with the highest priority being Riveaux Road to limit impacts on private property, community and commercial assets, community safety and natural, cultural & heritage values, especially the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Tasmanians are being asked to reconsider using fire as the state moves into several days of bad fire weather. A total fire ban has been declared for all southern municipalities on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd March.

Fire agencies and communities have already experienced a very trying bushfire season, and while it may seem that conditions have abated and life is back to normal, the community needs to be aware that we are still battling serious bushfires.

Residents are reminded to remain vigilant and continue to monitor the situation as the current situation may change as warmer weather is forecast.

Areas impacted by fire pose a number of risks and hazards to the public and fire crews. There are still a number of roads closed, and the public must adhere to road closure signage and refrain from entering these areas. Roads impacted by fire remain a significant risk of fallen trees or trees that have potential to fall without notice. Roads may be damaged, have damage to local bridges, and normal roadside warning signs damaged or destroyed. Please slow down and drive to the conditions as emergency service vehicles continue to use these roads.

For information on current road closures, please visit the Tasmania Police website: http://www.police.tas.gov.au/community-alerts/

TasRECOVERY – Information and Service Hubs:

 

Apart from the still present risk of fires, our focus is now on recovery. A government services hub has been set up locally to advise people who have lost income due to the fires or have damaged property. People are trying to get back into their normal routines but more than one person I have spoken with has said that it is difficult to do that while the fires are still burning.

Even animals are affected. I see posts on Facebook regarding lost and found pets and for the first few days that I was back at the Op Shop Cindy would howl when I left and I’d hear her howling when I arrived home. Thankfully she has settled down now and instead of being upset, she runs to greet me with her ball when I get home.

Several events are being set up to promote local businesses. January and February are usually our best months for tourism and many operators rely on that money to get through the quieter winter months. A key attraction, The Tahune Airwalk will be out of action for some months while facilities are repaired or replaced.

The other thing that everyone locally is keen to do is to thank the fire service employees and volunteers for the amazing job they have done and are still doing. Fundraisers are being arranged to support the various brigades with new equipment. The firefighters themselves are not allowed to accept money from the public but at least we can let them know how grateful we are for what they do and that they are all heroes.

Smoke from nearby fires discolours the sky.

The Three AM Rant: Flour Sifters and Fitted Sheets

You know you are getting old when things that you took for granted as part of your daily life start being ignored or forgotten. It is a bit like going into a museum and seeing things you have and use at home being displayed as curiosities.

Flour Sifters

One of the Facebook sites that come up in my feed sometimes has photos of everyday items and asks readers to share if they know what it is? Often I wonder why they are even asking.

Take flour sifters. I use a flour sifter, my mum used one, my grandma used a sieve which is more or less the same thing but not as convenient.

At the Op Shop, I was told that “people don’t use them now.” Funny because whenever we have one for sale it goes pretty quickly. I’m puzzled though about why people don’t use them. Everyone is so into cooking these days. I mean people want to make elaborate and fancy looking meals like the ones they see on Master Chef but they don’t take the time to sift flour? That doesn’t make sense. If I bake, I sift.

My old flour sifter is still in use.

In fact, it seems that flour sifters are still being made and sold. I even found a comparison of the best ones on the market. So I don’t know who decided that they were old hat.

http://www.foodsharkmarfa.com/best-flour-sifters/

https://www.thekitchn.com/is-sifting-flour-for-baked-goods-really-necessary-213894

Fitted sheets

A lot of people who come to our Op Shop looking for bed linen tell me that they don’t want flat sheets, only the fitted ones. It seems that a lot of people don’t use a top sheet anymore just the doona. You can even buy sheet sets that are just a fitted sheet and doona cover.

Well personally I don’t care for the idea but even if I did, that’s no reason to consign flat sheets to the rubbish bin.

Fitted sheets are great, don’t get me wrong. I use them myself but with a flat sheet as a top cover. I like to be tucked in.

When you buy a fitted sheet you have to make sure you have the right wall size. If you have one of those pillow top mattresses a 30cm sidewall won’t stretch over it. I’ve had 40cm ones that I struggled to fit on our king-sized bed. There were a couple of pairs of sheets we had that I could stretch over the bed by being patient but David could never do it and would just throw them on the floor and use some mismatched sheet. I like things to match so that always irritated me. I used to put those sheets at the bottom of the stack of linen in the cupboard if I was going away so that he would not need to use them. Not only that, fitted sheets are a pain in the neck to fold up neatly. I’ve read numerous tips on how to do it and I can do it but spending ten minutes folding a sheet does not rate highly on my enjoyment of life scale.

It’s hard to fold fitted sheets neatly.

You can actually use flat sheets as bottom sheets. You just have to tuck them in. I had to remind a younger friend of this not long ago when she didn’t have spare fitted sheets. What do you suppose people did before fitted sheets were invented? By the way, they were invented in 1959 but I don’t recall seeing one before the 1970s.

If you buy a sheet set with a flat sheet included and you are one of those doonas only people you have actually bought two changes of bed linen. Had you thought of that?

Did people actually forget you can do that or doesn’t anyone know how to make a hospital corner?

Here are some comments about the debate.

https://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/bedding-debate-top-sheet

https://www.inverse.com/article/42949-top-sheets-millennials-bedding-duvet-cover.

Time to wash the sheets.

I personally would rather wash a top sheet every week than struggle replacing a doona cover. I do wash that too of course but less often than the top sheet. The Millenial argument seems to be that washing top sheets makes extra work. They should have been around when grandma had to wash everything in the copper and have it hung on the line to dry before breakfast.

Have to go, it’s time to hang my sheets and doona cover on the line.

The doona cover on the line.

 

 

There’s No Place Like Home

Since I wrote my last bushfire update things have improved a lot. We had some good rains and that along with some cooler weather enabled the firefighters to do some back burning and mopping up operations, finally dropping Geeveston and the surrounding areas back from “Watch and Act” status to “Advice”.

http://www.fire.tas.gov.au/Show?pageId=colCurrentBushfires

The fires are still listed as “going” but many of the other areas around the state where there have been fires are now listed as “Patrol” or “being controlled”.

I haven’t said a lot about the fires in other areas because I was telling the story from my own point of view but they were all as serious as the one we were facing and there was some property loss. Also, many hectares of World Heritage listed forests have been burned, Tasmania’s honey industry has taken a major hit due to the loss of leatherwood trees and who knows how much wildlife has been killed.  We are extremely fortunate that there was no loss of life and so few homes burned. It could have been much, much worse.

The worst of it is we may find ourselves in this situation again next summer or any summer. This could be our new normal and that is a scary thought.

But:

I am at home. I could have come home a few days ago but I picked today as a good day firstly because it was more convenient for Naomi and secondly because of my trip to the Wooden Boat Festival yesterday.

Apart from smelling a bit stale and needing a good vacuum and dust my house is fine. I will have to get on to the cleaning bit because the real estate agent rang to ask if she could bring a potential buyer to have a look at it on Monday.

A day to laze around at home enjoying my own space would have been nice but it will have to wait, there are dust bunnies to hunt.

Photinia Hedge 2018

Bushfire Update: 4 February

Today the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and I were all in Huonville, thankfully not at the same time.

https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/raw-pm-visits-tasmanian-bushfire-evacuation-centre/video/8837584b1

The fires are still burning. We had three cooler days which allowed the firefighters to get some back burning done but on Sunday I saw that Geeveston was once again on emergency alert. I spent an anxious afternoon and evening listening to the radio and checking Facebook posts as the fire came close to the southern end of Geeveston and threatened communities further south. Sadly several houses were lost that day but thankfully nobody was killed or injured. It has been over three weeks now that these fires in the Huon Valley and other parts of Tasmania have been burning.

I was in Huonville to apply for an emergency assistance grant which the government had made available to people who had been forced to leave their homes because of the fires or who had been unable to work because their place of work was in the fire zone.

The local Scout and Guide Hall was being used to process claims. I arrived at about 2:20pm to find a long, long, line zigzagging across the room. It took me a full two hours to be processed and paid. It was quite a weird experience and made me think about people who have been permanently displaced from their homes and have to deal with this sort of situation all the time.

The government workers running the operation were doing a great job though, they had a team of maybe a dozen workers processing information before sending us off with our paperwork to join another line to collect prepaid debit cards. Everyone was on the whole, patient and good-natured even though it was a warm afternoon. Security staff walked around distributing bottles of water. The staff was helpful and friendly still smiling after a full day of filling out forms.

Outside the building, Naomi was patiently waiting for me to finish. It turned out that one of the security people was someone she knew from Oatlands, that stuff happens all the time in Tasmania. She talked to people coming and going, patted dogs and talked to a little kid who claimed to be lost. He wasn’t, his dad was nearby and he was just looking for some attention I think.

About an hour after I arrived the doors were closed and people arriving were told that they would have to come back tomorrow as it would take till after 6pm to process the people already there. Naomi said that most people took this news quite well although one man became quite angry about it. The financial assistance centre was set up last week and has been open every day. I had not been able to get there sooner as I am staying some distance away which is why Naomi offered to take me.

After that, we drove to my house. It was a strange feeling driving into a bushfire zone. The smoke haze was not too bad and we had good visibility but the whole area smelled of burnt wood.

I knew that my house had not been in the fire zone as a friend had driven past it the other day but it was a huge relief to find everything inside just as I left it. Even most of my plants were still surviving.

Once we had watered the plants, checked that lights and power were still working and I had grabbed a few things I wanted we left. I don’t plan to return home just yet. I want to but the fires are still acting erratically and if I go back now and there is another emergency I would have to find someone to get me out. It’s just too stressful so I will wait until things are a bit safer.

However, it was good to see my home again and I hope it won’t be too long before I can go back.

House edited with Picasa's focal B&W and HDR filters
House edited with Picasa’s focal B&W and HDR filters

Tales of Terror: Times Past

The Beaumont Children

Baby Boomer: Suburban Australia

My sister, cousins and I had a reasonably free childhood once we came to Australia. Our home was in Elizabeth, north of Adelaide. We could play in the street in front of our houses or go to a nearby park which didn’t require crossing the main road. We older ones could walk to the local shops for ice cream or comics and sometimes to another park when the “Trampoline Man” came for a few days in the school holidays. Our suburb was pretty quiet except at around 4pm when the local factories let out and all the workers came home.

When I was around twelve my eldest cousin and I were both allowed to go to “the big shops” at Elizabeth Town Centre or the library alone.

Me aged around 14

Even though they allowed us our freedom I’m sure our parents worried about us and we did get into trouble if we went off without telling them where we were going or failed to return at the appointed time.

Naomi and I arrived in Australia with our mum on 23 January 1966. Three days later on 26 January, three young children, Jane, Arnna, and Grant Beaumont disappeared from Glenelg beach not far from Adelaide. They were never heard of again.

Glenelg Beach in summer.jpg
By eguidetravel – https://www.flickr.com/photos/eguidetravel/5399982086/, CC BY 2.0, Link

If ever our parents needed a cautionary tale there was one. They impressed on us that we should not talk to or go off with strangers. It certainly made an impression on me because the eldest girl, Jane was the same age as me. To our parents’ credit, this didn’t stop them from letting us go places on our own but I know that mum always worried until we returned safely and I am sure my aunt and uncle did too although my cousins were not fond of walking so their dad would usually get a call to pick them up from wherever they had gone or  be asked to drive them here or there. Naomi and I usually walked everywhere.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-02/enduring-mystery-of-adelaides-missing-beaumont-children/9352254