Thursday, 31 January 2013

Isolated on the Mountaintop...

This is penned by a substitute blogger, as alas my mother is electronically isolated on her hill. As I'm sure she will fill you in, she has had issues with Telstra, her telecommunications providers.

Many of you will, I'm sure, empathise with her if you have ever had to deal with complaints departments based in India. If you are and Indian working in a call centre you can probably empathisise with your colleagues dealing with my mother.

call centre: "could you please power cycle your modem?"
mother: "I haven't ridden a bicycle since 1972, and I fail to see how that will help"
call centre: "no madam, we need to reboot your modem"
mother: "reboot it? I still haven't found it since I booted it the first time"

Well, now that I've ensured I won't be called on again as a substitute blogger, here's a photo from my soggy corner of the world...

 This is Wendy (my long suffering wife), Stella (newest addition to the family), and Sophie (the long suffering Labrodor). Stella, the minature piglet, joined us in time for our recent wet spell, and seems to be enjoying the mud more than most! Sophie is still not sure what to make of her, but is starting to warm to the idea, as she's worked out that she gets more treats when the pig is around. We haven't told her that dogs are not really suposed to eat watermellon.

Friday, 25 January 2013

More drama

I won't try to do anything fancy in this posting either, given the difficulties in getting it out... but I have heard from son Duncan. He has been working on an island off Gladstone for the last fortnight and I was concerned about how safe it would be for him to try to return home as scheduled, given the wild weather up there from the ex-cyclone (maybe going to re-form, they  say). Well, he isn't getting home or anywhere for the time being - no planes, no helicopters, no boats - they are totally isolated by the stormy conditions. They have run out of running water to supply the camp as the company didn't think to instal water tanks, but Dunc says they have plenty of bottled water and food. He's a bit concerned because he is in charge of any employees who are sick, and they are also stuck there. I have faith that Duncan will manage their illnesses just fine, but it's certainly a potential problem for him. Now I'm a bit worried that the company has built the camp sufficiently well for it to stand up to cyclonic conditions!

Hopefully the weather system will move south overnight so things will settle down for them all tomorrow. Then he'll just have the problem that the weather system is due to hit this end of the state, so he still won't be able to get home!

Meanwhile, flood gates have been opened in Wivenhoe and North Pine Dams as a precaution - the 2011 floods are very fresh in people's minds. Sandbags have been distributed around Brisbane in case they need to hold back flooding creeks. It all seems so crazy - one week bush fires, then potential floods in Brisbane. Up north they already have two people drowned, rescues here, there and everywhere. But hey, life doesn't get boring!

Cheers - Fliss

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Am I here?

I am currently suffering for my life in the bush. We have cloud cover, so the mobile phone drops out. The TV is temperamental about whether it transmits many channels. Finally, the Internet is mainly unavailable. This is the third day I have tried to post a blog and I don't know whether it will penetrate through at all. I shall try a very short couple of paras, and if they succeed in breaking through the barrier I shall try a proper send later. Please forgive me for this!

We have the weird situation now that while the poor Victorians are still fighting their bushfires, Cyclone Oswald made landfall in North Queensland and si now a rain depression rolling down the coast. While the folk up north are flooded out, we have had 2 mm so far (optimism says there's more to come). Give me floods any time,  but I do wish our modern technology could mange cloud cover a bit better.

I'll try to raise a flicker from the Internet now, and send this (so far it is dormant this morning).

Cheers - Fliss

Monday, 21 January 2013

Shopping and dogs

To link these two activities together might seem strange - if you haven't got pets, that is. Yesterday I was advised by the butcher in Warwick that it was the best day for me to go and buy the bones that are a critical part of my dogs' food. When I had the cat it always seemed he was as expensive as the four dogs, but now all I can complain about is the cost of keeping them in bones. Like, yesterday set me back over $50 for two good boxes of bones. Granted this will keep the pups happy for at least a couple of weeks, but it always comes as a bit of a slug when I have to buy the things.

I went the long route in to avoid roadworks and hit the metropolis about 4.30 p.m., hastily stocked up with fruit at the local Aldi, had a rapid blue with the shopping centre pharmacist (more of that another day) and then went to collect the bones. This week was an excellent haul, all juicy fresh lamb pieces, which then had to be driven home fast before they warmed up. I called in rapidly to say G'Day to my darling daughter, who presented me with her collection of chook food (leftovers that are greeted with loud squawks of joy by the birds), her first grapes from her carefully nurtured vine and a sprig of fresh tomatoes. Home grown grapes and tomatoes are so radically different from shop offerings...

Mischief and Cody dogs were so happy on the way home, their quivering noses raised in appreciation of our load behind them! Lest it seem strange that I travel everywhere with a couple of dogs on the back seat, firstly it is common in this rural area to drive through town with a heap of hounds in the vehicle. Second, didn't you know that Henry Ford actually developed his popular car for dogs? The dogs know it if people don't. And thirdly, no-one will steal my car or part thereof when it has a couple of hairies leaning out of the window. Apart from many years ago when my beloved Tzar-dog tried to fang someone who opened the driver's door (don't know if he succeeded as the opener scarpered, leaving the door open) no-one has ever bothered my car. If they went to Mischief's side they would be licked to death, while I am not sure about Cody. Certainly no cat or dog could come within 500 metres without threat of disembowelment - don't know how humans would fare. Finally, Mischief cannot be left behind - again, more on that hereafter.

Mischief  looking her fiercest at Xmas (pic by Duncan)

Anyway, we arrived home to the usual rapturous welcome (who on earth wouldn't want to be loved this much?) and I had to lug the groceries up to the house. The garage is outside the yard, so I use the wheelbarrow to ferry loads to the bottom of the house stairs. I have to split the boxes of bones between a lot of bags so I can carry them up, as the boxes are too heavy and are in the habit of collapsing halfway (imagine the scene of frantic human scooping up bones while hopeful dogs stand very close, sniffing and salivating!). It was horribly humid, so I felt some satisfaction by the time I had everything offloaded and stowed in freezers,etc.

Then it was catch-up time with walking dogs, yarding goats...and I didn't do my blog last night, ugh. Sorry!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

On goats and disrupted days.

I've been meaning to tell you more about my various animals but get sidetracked. Like now, there is the terrific tennis match on, between Bernard Tomic and Roger Federer; ah, the lure of the TV...

Anyway, today has been a stinker: a slow roast of 37C (~99F) and high humidity - a 3H day, hot, humid and horrible.There was a low system forecast but no rain, so I was constantly watering my struggling plants. The gum trees were weeping drifts of leaves and I thought how well they are adapted to the vagaries of the climate: when there is insufficient moisture to support transpiration for their leaves they cut them off, then regenerate when the weather improves.

Whatever the forecast there were plenty of clouds around, only serving to enhance the sauna effect of the day. I retreated back to my cool kitchen. Suddenly there was the blessed sound of raindrops falling on the water tanks, followed by the clatter of hail. Dogs and I rushed out on to the back deck, where gusty wind was blowing rain right across under the roof. The temperature dropped to 21.7C within twenty minutes and I felt steam should have been rising from the ground as it was suddenly cooled.

I looked up the paddock to see all the goats standing in the open, thoroughly saturated. The reason was easy to spot - the totally stupid fellow, Dill, had hopped the fence into the next paddock and forgotten how to get back. So the other three were standing forlornly waiting for the cretinous creature to sort himself out.
 Dill (left), Parsley and Rebecca (pic by Duncan)

As soon as the hail stopped I took the dogs through the rain for a leg-stretch and went up to rescue the three 'good' goats so they could get under cover. They rushed into the dog paddock and headed for the shelter they use (an outsize dog kennel), while Dill bawled at top decibel that he was abandoned. He did locate what passes as his brain and suddenly sorted himself out, so I let him in to join the other three. Dill immediately proceeded to turn the other goats out of the kennel so he could enjoy it all himself. More sorting out required, sigh.

The other two goats are still goatlets, adopted before Christmas. They, like the two adult goats, are wethers (desexed male goats) and are both going to be fairly bright - relatively, that is, compared to Dill. The smaller kid, Basil, is very nervy so Sage is the leader, while Parsley has assumed the role of leader of the herd and is doing a very good job of it. He parents the two little fellows and is very sweet when he plays head-push with them, to the ecstasy of the kids. Dill, of course, has little idea and tends to thump the kids instead. He'll be sorry when they are as big as he is!
Sage (left) and Basil 
Having sorted out the goats I came back to the house and intended to use the computer to catch up and write the blog entry. The power promptly went out. I rang my neighbour down the hill to check if hers was out (yes, the whole area was out). We caught up with each other's news, not having spoken for a few weeks, and by the time we had both bemoaned how exhausted this weather makes us, the power came back on again. That was a relief because although I have a generator I wasn't sure how many hours-worth of petrol was left after the last power cut a week or two back.

And now I don't need to water my plants for twenty-four hours. Yes!!

Take care, stay safe, and folk in the UK - throw some snowballs for me.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Birds and other animals

It has been a hectic past few days. I wanted to get the grass around the house and dog paddock slashed, due to the fire risk. I also wanted to have the house ready for my two expected children. This last came crashing down; I found out that the details I had been given were wrong, and sadly had to turn around and say No, I could not manage the children as they turned out to be. It's better to say no beforehand than take the children and not have it work out. However difficult they may be, having a placement fail is upsetting for them as for everyone else. So I now have a lovely organised house (this does not last!) but no children to put in it!

Last night I stood outside and could smell the smoke from distant fires. I thought of all the poor animals affected, besides the people whose lives are turned inside out. Pets, farm animals and native animals are all caught up - in NSW last week swans were falling from the sky as they tried vainly to outstrip a fire, while one pet pug rescued in Tasmania is being nursed through having 55% of his body burned, poor little soul. Gloomy thoughts. 

However, on my little block animals are safe at present. Not only do I have as many firebreaks as possible but I provide drinking water and a bird bath. The drinking water is in a trough behind the garden, away from bouncing dogs. In this hot drought time the wallabies come along at dusk and dawn, timidly checking out that it is safe, their big ears doing radar duty before they emerge from the trees.Oddly, they don't seem to mind if I talk softly to them, so long as I stay still - maybe I'm a noisy tree? And I haven't seen the koala that risked its life to drink in the dog paddock, so hopefully it has found the safe water source and is also helping itself. 

The bigger birds use the trough, but the smaller ones enjoy the bird bath greatly - it's just an unused kitty litter box that is shallow and big enough for them to both drink and relax. Sometimes there is a row of assorted varieties of birds sitting along the fence waiting for their turn with the water!

The birds this year are spectacular, coming in to the oasis for food and shelter - in particular I have never seen so many wrens of several different species.

(source: Google images) 

This little fellow is called the Splendid Fairy Wren and the ones I have seen around seem to have harems of dowdy little females with them. They are all infinitely busy and tiny enough that they can fly in and out of the chook run, zipping through the netting. They seem to co-exist not only with other wrens but also other birds entirely, especially the willie wagtails.

There are also some lovely kingfishers looking fit and well, though I am not sure what they are feeding on; so long as they are happy!

Conversely, the sulphur-crested cockatoos, usually present in a big flock, have left for places new, leaving only one family here. Hopefully they will return after their travels. I'm used to their raucous comments on life, their occasional squabbles... maybe when the weather improves!

So, old and new friends, that's my life up to date. How is yours? Oh, and lovely to see you, Wanda in Canada! How are you in your lovely cold weather? Take care, everyone!

Sunday, 13 January 2013


Oh, whew... this summer is certainly making up for the cool ones we had over the last couple of years. Night temperatures have been staying up around 25 minimum (75F) and humid with it. Thank you so much Mr Carrier for inventing air conditioning when you did! Anyway, we are scheduled to have a couple of cool days starting today (what time today, I ask?), so I might actually go and do some major food shopping; and I need some new walk shorts as the ones I have are starting to go threadbare (I'm, er, not what you'd call a keen clothes shopper).

Yesterday morning I drove into Allora (5 mins away) to pick up the weekend papers early, like 7.30 a.m... Well, how cheeky can a snake get, a smallish brown merrily making its way up the drive. It took one look at the car and swished into the undergrowth - unfortunately on the dog paddock side rather than the open country on the other side. Yesterday I walked the dogs around while wearing gumboots (me, not the dogs). It's a worry having the horror serpent around. Zelda the Pigpen dog kills any snake she sees, after her best mate Bryce was killed when she was a pup, but I worry whether there will be a day that the snake will be faster.
This was Bryce, a beautiful dog with too short a life...

He was found wandering along a road near Kingaroy at about six months old. A lady saw him as she drove along and he wandered in the road looking lost. She picked him up and took him to Kingaroy Pound. Even though she was very taken with his gentle demeanour, she could not keep a dog. 

A week went by but no-one claimed him, so Bryce's time was up. The lady had asked to be notified, and promptly went and collected him, taking him to the RSPCA shelter. There he spent four months waiting for someone to want him.

I saw him on the internet with a note that he had been waiting for a long while, and arranged to adopt him and collect him through Toowoomba RSPCA, who drove him halfway to meet me. Poor Bryce, he didn't have good memories of cars and being dropped off at different places. As I started off for home his nerves got the better of him and he pooped hugely in the back of the car. Luckily I had put an old rug in there for him, so it was unceremoniously dumped before I died from the pong!

He was now about ten months old, nervous and slow to settle in. However, as time went by he gradually showed his quirky character, helped by the adoration of the aforementioned Zelda, who had come as another special case. Apart from always being a little timid, he was super-polite, learning his mealtime manners in a matter of days. He also was a clown, his favourite trick being to play submarines, encouraged by us falling around laughing at him. He would wade into the dog dam and then slowly, slowly disappear underwater, blowing bubbles until he ran out of breath. He would emerge with a big grin on his face, playing to the audience.

After about 18 months he had advanced to coming inside during the day, was adored by children for his sweet nature, but unfortunately he found it fun to jump on anything that moved. No amount of pulling him away or telling him to leave things alone made any difference. 

One day we went shopping, returning to find a hysterical Zelda and a collapsed Bryce. He had killed the snake, but the snake also killed him with a hefty bite to the head. Zelda hid for close to a week, and for ever after was a sworn foe of snakes. We now have snake repellers right around the dog paddock, but they are not 100% effective against a determined snake; a constant worry.

Roll on the frosts of winter, say I!!

Friday, 11 January 2013

I'm expecting!!!

This is mark 2 of this mailing, due to the weather. With the heat, and now thunder clouds, the Internet is remarkably fickle (I depend on wireless out here). For once I had written today's blog with no problems, posted it... and it went somewhere in the stratosphere, sob!

And welcome to the Canadians - please say Hi and introduce yourselves!

Anyway, to the happy event I am expecting. As I mentioned back in my intro, I do at times live with children around me. More often than not, actually, for I am an ancient foster carer. It is a great way to spend one's 'golden years', much better than settling for some placid retirement. I made a decision several years ago that I will continue to welcome children in until I exit my heavy old bod.

I have had a holiday for the past month or so, following a very busy year in 2012. I had mainly teenagers last year, which I found... um, challenging. I had a couple of delightful ones and some definitely major trials. The final one, a 13-year-old, I had for a couple of weeks running into December. She was part of the reason I decided to have a month's rest. It kind of broadens the mind sometimes, this fostering, even after over 70 children have come and gone!

I felt that this year I would really rather revert to younger children for a while. While teenagers are more independent and can shower and toilet themselves (usually) they still tend to be very adolescent! Anyway, the phone rang early this past week, the Dept wanting to know if I was interested in a pair of younger boys. After some discussion, I think we may be able to have fun together. I hope.

Oh, a by the way - the lovely girl in my intro photo is my talented granddaughter, Becca, showing off her Xmas creation before we ate it! I cannot post pictures of my foster children, for obvious reasons. But here's a pic I like, of children being happy. It should be the right of every baby born, instead of all the sad and damaged children we often see. It is such a buzz when kids start to relax and laugh...
Have a very good day, won't you? I'm hoping to rush this through the ether before the impending storm hits!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Alien Ants

And welcome to the folk from Oz, US, UK, Germany and South Korea - how lovely of you to read my attempts at a blog. Please feel free to leave comments!

First a bow to the worries of fires while Oz cooks gently... Last night a line of storms came up from the south, lightning everywhere. I was concerned because lightning strikes are a major cause of fires and we had been told any storms would be 'dry'. However, after a stressful half hour, suddenly there came rain, blessed rain. It gave us 9mm before heading off north. The air may still have felt like a sauna but the risk of fires was gone for the night.

Now to the ants, referred to back on the snake page. I have decided that rather than being the year of the snake it is actually the year of the ant, including the strange invaders that appear from absolutely nowhere.

Supposedly you can trace ants to whence they came, but not these little fellows. They appear from nowhere, say on a used plate, where they congregate in their hundreds. Move the plate and there is no ant trail. I have a theory that they actually parachute in, using a sensor to locate their landing field. It is impossible to eradicate them because you cannot locate a nest, or a spacecraft, whence they came. All you can do is murder the squads as they appear and wait for the next incursion.

I used to quite like ants and admire the overall intelligence of their colonies, but no more. The home invaders are annoying, but worse are the various outside ants this year. Clearly baking hot, dry summers are just what is needed to take over the world. H.G.Wells had it right with his story long ago - they are out to get us! It started in spring, when the wood ants, that build huge colonies and then clear all vegetation in their area, decided that broad beans were on their menu. It was impossible to check on the beans without having a swarm of the ants run over your arms, very cranky because you had disturbed them. They also decided that they needed to build a nest under the beans to make the most of their bounty. Dumping my idealistic concept of organic vegetables with no nasty chemicals, I bought various noxious dusts which would temporarily halt the pests so I could at least harvest some produce. 

As summer has progressed so the varieties of ants invading have multiplied. The wood ants returned and killed all my potato plants - ha, I found they don't like constant flooding, so drowned their nest there. Then they returned and decided to attack me whenever I appeared. This bears out my observation on their communal intelligence - they never attacked me until I declared war on their invading hordes. I upped the ante and treated the nearest major nest, pouring the poison powder direct into their chimneys. That has bought me some peace, but I have no illusion it will be for  long.

Other ants that have posed lesser threats are some extremely tiny ones that seem to be taking advantage of the absence of the wood ants... they have merely appeared around the place without doing any obvious damage apart from rather unsightly nests placed just where one wants to walk! Then, the leaf-cutting fraternity have also waded in big, leaving confetti under all the young eucalypts. So it goes - definitely the year of the ant!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Fire - preparations

(Photo - Elspeth Murray)

Well, good day to you on this first day of our official heat wave in Queensland. The poor people down south have had their dreadful fires happen (and of course many are still out of control) while up here so far there is just one out of control on Bribie Island.. 

The photo is of my view from the dog paddock down to the road. It always reminds me of the song, Country Road...' On a more sombre note it also shows the fire risk from the dry grasses. So, I'm taking the hazard very seriously. I cannot stop some idiot lighting fires, but I have to plan to survive if they do.

The slogan they are pushing on the news programmes is 'Prepare, Act, Survive.' As I'm always a day or three late I've just been thinking about the Prepare part. Yesterday evening I rang my nice insurers, RACQ, so I could check that my cover was up to date. They were so helpful and I felt reassured that in the event of losing some or all of my possessions at least I had someone on my side.

The next part is working out where I would go in the worst case scenario of being cut off. The road is a no-through road, which means if the main road end is unusable, there is no exit. Daughter has vetoed the dog pond, so I had to think elsewhere. I think I have it! I have three old truck backs I use as extra sheds one for the chook house, one for storage and one currently free, though needing a clean out after it housed some young fowls over Christmas. It is made of thick fibreglass and hence is well insulated. Also, being in the dog paddock it is surrounded by slashed grass with only small regrowth trees around. Should a fire come through it would probably rip across pretty fast but would not stay for long given there would be lack of fuel to keep it going.

Having chosen my haven I now have to sort out what I should put in it, which comes under the Act part of our instructions. So far I have given the floor a quick sweep (it needs a lot more!) and taken a comfortable chair over there. However, as the day is already scorching, with gusty hot winds, I have retreated into the house.

Oh - also in this first phase of preparing for the worst, while hoping for the best, I drove into town early this morning before the day's heat really hit. I flew around doing the essentials and stocking up with fresh milk and fruit so I don't have to venture out for the next few days. I was home in just over an hour and relieved to be back. 

My mobile phone is fully charged, my bore water tank is full, the fire breaks were slashed a couple of months ago...and now I hope for everyone to have a very good day!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Scary days ahead

Well, today was a good one here, but the heat wave around Oz is very scary. Floods I don't mind too much on the whole, but fires are another matter altogether...

Anyway, for a light moment: I went to the tyre centre to have my interesting noise investigated, and the happy man said, 'Yeah, you have flat spots.'

'Flat spots? Is that what you call it when your tyres go square?'

He chuckled. 'Did it go "thunk, thunk, thunk" when you drove?'

I'd have said more like 'flup, flup, flup', but I'm deaf so I agreed with him. He briskly put two new tyres on, and to my relief the matching ones for the car were on special, a third off. So my expensive lesson about not driving off with a hand brake on wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Home again and the news about our weather is all bad. Tassie has been hit by unprecedented bushfires, and now it is New South Wales' turn. On Wednesday it is lined up for us.

 (Sorry about the picture quality, but it was from my webcam - the view from my study window)

I love my bush block, but it has its hazards in fire conditions. The undergrowth will take fire even when green, let alone when we have had little rain for the past year, while eucalypt trees are famous for turning into large torches in fires. 
On the news everyone is told to prepare for when/if a fire approaches their neighbourhood. My thinking cap is firmly on! With no nearby beach to run to, as a heap of people did in Tassie, I only have the dog dam - daughter tells me I could cook in it. Oh, well, more thinking to do...

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Woes of (sometimes) doing right

Did you know that motorists in Australia should stop any time they see an animal lying on the road? As the country has so many marsupials there is always a chance of saving a baby from a dead mother's pouch, apart from the possibility of saving a wounded animal of any kind. I have been unlucky so far with wallabies - any joeys I have rescued have been left too long and have died despite our best efforts to warm them up. The results of road-kill are tragic: when I first came to this area there were big mobs of red-necked wallabies. Now, due to adverse weather events and a total lack of any road sense, the local wallabies have been reduced to a small and straggling group.

Photo from Google pictures.

The other day I once again came across a recently killed wallaby near here. I pulled up and went to check her. She had a big pouch but it was empty - hopefully the joey had been big enough to hop away and care for itself. I walked around a bit, looking to see if there was any sign of the joey. A concerned motorist pulled up to see if I wanted any assistance, and looked at me strangely when I explained I was checking for a joey.

I jumped into my car, embarrassed, and made a smart take-off. Um, well, it would have been a smart take-off if I had released the hand-brake. To my humiliation I instead produced clouds of smoke from my tyres...

Now, when I drive along my merry way, the car makes interesting plonking noises - the result, I guess, of tyres flat on one side. Tomorrow I find out exactly what my ill-fated stop achieved as I have made an appointment at the tyre shop. Why do I have the feeling it is going to be expensive...?

Friday, 4 January 2013

Year of the snake?

I believe we are now in the year of the snake, and I also understand I'm a snaky person in the Chinese calender. Both of these are sufficient to scare the skin off me... this is an area of Eastern Brown snakes in their hundreds, and should we run out of those there are always the taipans. I really, truly, don't want to do anything to attract the scaly monsters. Chinese dragons are fine - they only breathe fire rather than venom, but please spare us the scary snakes.

Well, does this asp look innocent enough? They move like lightning when startled, and are fabled to be able to chase a car or horse at 30 miles per hour. If, as a friend recommended, you decide to drive over one, make sure your windows are wound up if you don't want to risk sharing a car with a very cranky snake! Once I had to drive across a large brown, up near Lake Somerset. It was coiled in the middle of a narrow road with traffic coming in the opposite direction and it was already angry, reared up ready to strike. I carefully drove with the wheels to each side of the animal, only to hear a distinct 'thunk' under the car. I looked back to see an even more infuriated snake, with a bad headache, ready to strike the following vehicle.

Another time I drove through a paddock on my way to visit the local shop at Coominya. I hopped out of the car to see a smallish brown snake emerge from under the car and slither towards the shop - it must have hooked itself up under the car as I drove through the grass. I didn't like to admit to having brought an aggressive hitch-hiker, and just said to the shopkeeper, 'Uh, I see you've got a snake...' Then it was his problem and was suitably despatched!

Over the years I have lost a cat, a dog, and a couple of heifer calves to brown snakes , so I really shiver at the thought of a year of the snake. I am hoping the snake repellers I have put right around the dog paddock keep the scaly monsters away, and think I might ask my neighbour up the road to pay me a call if we have any trouble here - he killed a 6-foot brown a couple of days ago next to his house. I, er, can't - I turn into the best imitation of a rock when face to face with a snake; it's amazing how long you can go without breathing when necessary.

Actually, I think this is the year of the Alien Ants, but that's for another day...

Thursday, 3 January 2013

And it's hot, hot, hot

And why a picture of Federal MP Jenny Macklin on a hot summer's day? Simple - she raised the temperature of all Australia a couple of days ago. Now Victoria is on on maximum bushfire alert, Tasmania swelters, and the outback has temperatures up to 50C (120F). As to how...well, the chubby lady stood up in her designer clothes and said to the TV camera that she could live on Unemployment Benefit (though they only asked her to do it for a week). Now, she has well over $6000 a week income, while the unemployed take home around $240 a week. Undoubtedly she could do it for a week - her larder would be well-stocked, her government car would still be there, her home would be untouched. But if this lady (sic) who at present is the Disability Reform Minister in an ALP government (the equivalent of the US Democrats, supposedly), were to try to live on less than half a liveable amount (the $240) for, say, 18 months, she would find she couldn't run a car, rent a house, buy new clothes... even eat. And not only do the unemployed find it hard to exist legally, but they are also hassled by Centrelink as to how many jobs they have applied for each week - they are not allowed to visit relatives for a holiday, effectively being a kind of legislated prisoner.

Well, guess which coddled lady gained no votes at all for her party in the upcoming election?

So - to the general heat, apart from the hot-under-the collar variety? How can a fat old woman like me carry on around the place, walking dogs, feeding chooks (fowls), tending garden and goats? My solution is nicely simple and fits my feral image: whenever I have to leave my air conditioned house (oops - rather non-feral?), I either carry a bottle of ice clutched to my ample bosom or do the 'wet t-shirt' approach. This involves either walking into the shower fully clad, then walking out again and dripping cheerfully around the place, or wetting a t-shirt and struggling into it before leaving the house. Another approach I have found successful is to wet a beanie and pull it on my head before going outside, this being a literal version of 'keeping a cool head' - and also surprising the dogs by dripping over them.

Should there be a power cut during a hot spell, it then is time for the Wet Sheet approach. Once you are used to it, you can sleep well under a wet sheet, which keeps you nicely cool until it dries, when you wake up...

Enough! have a really good day and give politicians of all colours a really wide berth, whatever your weather!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Well, a day late with my first posting, but I have been wrestling with the mechanics of doing a new activity (blogging!). My blog is my resolution for 2013 - a good way to keep in touch with everyone, and hopefully a way to meet new friends

So, here I am, and busting to share my New Year's celebration. No fireworks, as I went to bed at my usual time... Anyway, Mischief-dog woke me very early, as the sun came up. She ignored my groans as she was awake and therefore the world was there to be walked on, sniffed at and generally stirred into being.

I wasn't going to be able to be my usual lazy morning self, so I unwrapped the other two dogs who sleep in the bedroom, from their place on a mattress. 'Yeah! Morning already, let's bounce!'

We collected the verandah dog and went into the paddock, me still in my night garb. The dew was still soaking the grass, the world was new, and there was the most amazing roaring noise. It was loud enough to be a cup final, but it came from the paddocks around us. I stood still, trying to work it out until at last the roar faltered and I could make out a frog croak amidst the din. There must have been thousands, all celebrating the recent rain and the chance to breed. I couldn't see any frogs, so suspect they were the little brown fellows that climb the verandah walls at night. 

For some minutes I stood in awe of the little frogs and their loud New Year. The sun started to heat the day and the crows swooped to feed, commenting loudly about how nice a morning feast was provided. Then there was instant silence, total as if there had never been a frog in the area.

It was time to pick up the morning routine, on a different New Year's Day.