A Furry Little Miracle

I thought I’d share a couple of photos that I took of Cindy and Polly today. The last couple of weeks have been very strange to them and I’m very relieved that they have adapted well to our current situation.

Polly at Matt and Allys place.

I haven’t mentioned this in a post before because I have been deeply upset about it but a few months ago Cindy and Polly had a big fight. I don’t know what it was over as I didn’t see what happened. They get on so well that I could usually let them move freely around the house. I would separate them to eat because Cindy will eat the cat food of course. I don’t let Cindy have bones any more because she gets a very bad attitude about sharing and always thinks Polly will take it from her. Actually, I have seen Polly stealing Cindy’s dry food but she didn’t seem to worry about that.

Anyway this particular evening both had gone outside and I had left the back door open so they could come back. That’s when I heard an awful din coming from the passage. As I said I have no idea what happened. Did Polly steal some dog food? did she startle Cindy in the dark? I don’t know but she was seriously upset and had a little scratch on her face. She would not go near Cindy for several days after that.

Cindy at Matt and Allys place.

Then one day after I’d been keeping them apart they met and appeared to be fine. All was good for a couple of weeks then, again when I was in the next room something happened. I did not hear a fight but Polly ran out upset again and this time she did not forgive Cindy. Since then if she even saw her through a glass door she would hiss and stalk away. I am sure Cindy had no idea why Polly was still mad at her.

I had to keep the two of them separate. Cindy had the run of the living rooms and kitchen as well as outside. Polly had the passage and bedrooms. At night I would have to shoo her into the laundry so I could shut Cindy in my room before bed. Polly missed me I think. Sometimes she’d miaow at the living room door for me to come and would just want to be petted. Cindy spent a lot of time lying under the pergola outside. I was miserable because I missed spending time with Polly, Cindy cried if I was away from her too long, and I missed watching them play together.

There was no food here so I guess Polly was after the dots on the tablecloth.

Naturally, I was worried sick about how I was going to manage them when we had to evacuate. My friends in Franklin have dogs so Cindy had to stay outside a lot or if I brought her to where  I was sleeping I had to put Polly in her crate and put it in the toilet. It was far from ideal for either of them.

Then we came here to Matt and Ally’s place. The original plan was for Polly to be confined to the laundry but she soon worked out how to open the sliding door. We moved her to the room Ally uses for craft and she was happy enough but soon she wanted to come out. One day she managed to slip out the door when I was closing it and came face to face with Cindy who would lie outside the door whenever I was in there.

Nothing happened! Polly greeted her as if there had never been a fight and since then she has been quite her old self around Cindy even going up to give her a wash like she always used to. I haven’t seen them play yet but they might when we go home. I have no idea what prompted the change in attitude but it has made things so much easier.

Of course, I don’t take anything for granted. Polly is shut away to eat and I have bought a crate for Cindy and shut her in it at night. Polly sometimes sleeps in the room with us but I no longer have to worry about fights when I am asleep. I will never leave them unsupervised together if I go out or anywhere around food but I feel like it is a little miracle.

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

Dumbed Down

I would not say I was an exceptionally well-educated person. I left school voluntarily at age fifteen. I wasn’t happy at school and I wanted to go to work and earn money so that I could save up to travel.

However, I did leave school being able to read well, write a letter or story with good spelling and reasonably correct grammar, do maths problems and with some understanding of historical events and current affairs.

I know that even in back in the sixties and seventies when I was going to school there were kids who struggled to achieve that. Classes were bigger and teachers didn’t have the time to spend with every kid so the very bright and very slow to learn sometimes missed out. However, when  I look around these days it seems to me that many young people are still struggling with basic literacy and maths and I wonder why.

I am not sure if things that we were expected to learn when I was at school are still taught.  When I was in Primary School we learned the basics. Every day we spent a couple of hours on spelling, dictation, and arithmetic, this was in the days before “New Maths”.  We spent a lot of time on English learning grammar, Reading Comprehension and writing compositions. We also had class novels which we read either out loud or to ourselves and were expected to answer questions about. There was “Reading Laboratory” which was a big box full of cards with a story to read and a set of questions to answer. They were colour coded for difficulty and I was proud to get right to the top colour every year that I did them.

An Australian children’s classic.

In maths or arithmetic, as we still called it, we learned addition and subtraction, multiplication and long division. We had to master fractions decimals and learn about angles in geometry. We were supposed to “show the working out” on our page and we were not allowed to use calculators in tests. Actually, when I was in primary school there were no calculators. We did those sums where you calculated the cost of several items and even worked out the percentage of the total to subtract as a discount.  In Mental Arithmetic the teacher asked you a question and you had to quickly write the answer while doing the working out in your head.

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/

We had Social Studies which for Primary School students seemed to be a mixture of history, geography and current affairs. We learned a lot about things like stump jump ploughs, irrigation, gold mining, explorers, sheep and which states produced what products. Of course, we also learned a bit about Kings and Queens of England and even the Romans invading Britain. I am sure they don’t teach that to nine-year-olds any more.

In High School, we learned History and Geography, Algebra and how to use a slide rule. Don’t ask me, I’ve forgotten. We read novels and plays and our teachers were dismayed if any student did not know enough grammar to write properly.

As I never had children or grandchildren I really don’t know what they teach them now but I’m disturbed that young people in stores can’t make change without consulting the electronic cash register. When I was studying at TAFE a decade ago the younger people in the class had great difficulty in spelling and even more in writing a business letter. They just didn’t seem to have the vocabulary for it or know how to construct a sentence, possibly because they don’t write full words or full sentences in text messages. As for history, I’m sure that it is not taught which is a shame because I think you can learn a lot about the present from what happened in the past.

Another planter in the Geeveston Primary School Garden.

I’ll admit that I think that some things are better now. Classes are smaller, most of my classes right through school were 35 to 40 kids, sometimes more. Schools have better facilities, air conditioning and heating for instance and better equipment. Corporal punishment is a thing of the past. Honestly, I don’t think that hitting a child with a ruler will make them learn their tables faster. There were some really mean, sadistic teachers around in the sixties, I think for some Teacher’s College was where you went if you didn’t get into University. Some I met certainly did not like kids. On the other hand, I don’t think teachers get the respect that they once did from children or parents.

If so many young adults today can’t read, write, spell or do basic arithmetic how will the next generation cope? Although we have lots of technology we should not rely on that completely. If it all breaks down we need to be able to manage without it. I especially feel concerned that some young people are so unaware of historical events.  There is so much fantasy on social media that without knowledge of the facts there will be no way for them to know what is real and what isn’t anymore.

 

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Rainbow

Rainbow Colours

I need a little colour and fun this week so I’m playing along with Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. These photos are all “ones I prepared earlier”. I do have my camera and my portable hard drive with all my photos on it with me at Ally’s house. As the weather is not very colourful, it’s been predominantly brown and ash grey, these photos are all reruns from various other posts.

I love the colours in nature.
Rainbow Gear
Sentosa Island, Singapore

Bushfire Update 30 January

I have not written an update for a day or two as I am now staying with friends near Hobart quite some distance from the bushfires.

In the Huon Valley, the situation is as bad as ever though. There has been no let up in the hot weather and fires are creeping closer and closer to the townships of Geeveston, Port Huon, Castle Forbes Bay, and Franklin as well as Glen Huon and Judbury and threatening some other places further south. All of my friends in the Huon have relocated thank goodness and we are all now just waiting for this to be over so we can go home and see what is left. So far I believe my house is OK but I worry for friends who live in more rural properties closer to the bush.

I’ve always been proud of the fact that the community here is very caring and in most cases this crises has brought out the best in people, first and foremost the volunteer firefighters but also those people who are volunteering at the evacuation centre, cooking for the evacuees and the firies and those who helped people relocate their animals to safer places until it became too dangerous to drive south to get them.

I also know of many people who have taken in not only friends and family but anyone who needed somewhere to go. One of my friends has three families staying with her and she is making food to send to the evacuations centre.

I also know of people who have taken on the care of any remaining animals for friends and neighbours. At times like this social media is at it’s best helping to connect people and providing information although of course, it can also be a hotbed of rumours, you have to be careful what information you take notice of.

Sadly there are a few lowlifes about who will take advantage of the situation but with so few people left in the area, neighbours are quick to notice anyone behaving suspiciously and report it.

No new pictures from me today. Just another reminder of what a lovely place the Huon Valley is.

My birthday treat for 2018, a trip on the Huon onboard Yukon.
Wooden building at Policeman’s Point, Huon Valley Tasmania
image apple blossom
Apple Blossom in spring – Huon Valley, Tasmania

 

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-28/judbury-residents-door-knocked-over-fire-danger/10754640

https://www.news.com.au/national/tasmania/europe-and-north-america-on-standby-as-tasmanian-bushfire-conditions-worsen/news-story/2b00a185c267899e7b1a92ca80e98346

Bushfire Update: January 28th

A lot has happened since I wrote my update yesterday.  On Sunday afternoon the winds picked up and in the early evening, the area where I was staying with friends was put on emergency alert as well.

It was unpleasantly smoky. My friends decided that we should go somewhere safer for the night. We piled into two vehicles with three dogs, Polly in her carrier, suitcases,  and a heap of blankets and pillows and drove down to the foreshore at Franklin. It was not as windy or as smoky there and we had some fish and chips from a local shop before settling in for the night.

I have to say it was not the pleasantest night I’ve experienced. Cindy has been very upset and clingy since we left home. If she is not with me she cries. Each of us settled on a seat with a dog beside us and tried to sleep a bit. It was windy in the night and Cindy was restless. I had to get up once and get her some water but after that, she went to sleep.

At dawn, I got up to give her some fresh air, also Polly who was squeezed into the back with the luggage. She didn’t sound too happy and as I didn’t dare take her out of her cage I put the back up so she could at least get some fresh air. Under other circumstances, I would have been happy to be on the river at dawn as all the ducks woke up and a couple of swans drifted by with a flotilla of cygnets. My camera was buried somewhere in the car and my phone battery almost dead so no pictures I’m afraid.

From what we could find out the fire situation was no better but my friends decided to go back to their house for a few forgotten items. It was even smokier and I was frankly not that happy about returning to the house. As we discussed various accommodation options available to us I said that I would call my friends Matt and Ally to see if I could go to their place. They had offered to have me earlier in the week but I wasn’t able to get a ride out of Geeveston then.

I was very relieved that they were happy to come all the way to Huonville to fetch me and my friends drove me there about an hour later. I was very relieved to be on my way but worried about my friends who were talking about staying on at their home. I was very relieved when I sent them a message later in the day to hear that they had left to stay with a friend outside the Huon Valley.

This evening the situation in the Huon is still very bad. Geeveston was evacuated this afternoon and later police door-knocked in Port Huon to tell people to leave. At this stage, I don’t know if I will have a house to go home to but I’m safe, my pets are safe and all my friends made it to safer places even though I feel some of them left it too long to go.  It’s also good to know that up to this point no lives have been lost. Let’s hope it stays that way.

As I have no new photos to share here are some favourite photos of Geeveston, Port Huon and Franklin.

Port Huon, Tasmania-taken through the bus window.
Franklin Wharf
Church Street is the main street in Geeveston.
Our visitor centre in disguise.
Not the worst I’ve seen but this old shed could at least use a new roof.