Bushfire Sunrise/Sunset

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Sunrise

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Sunset

To the eye  the sun was actually bright red, but the light contrast makes it impossible to capture in a photo with our limited photographic skills.

The top one was taken by Gloria, the bottom, more blurry one by myself.

Even though the closest bushfires are around 200kms away, we’ve had some very smoky days, with the sky and air thick with smoke, making it unpleasant to be outside, so we’ve had to miss a few early morning walks over the past two weeks.

But missed walks are a minor matter.

We have family who are currently in northern NSW with volunteers fighting the fires there, and Gloria’s brother had to help save his own home and those of neighbours on the NSW south coast, with fire reaching the back fence of his property.

 

Weather Victim

We’ve had very changeable weather recently.

After post winter temperatures rose into the mid 20s (C) again for several days, a cold change turned things around and nearby areas had snow. Then there were the winds and dust storms.

One of the victims of the wind was our Grevillea bush.
A self sown plant that arrived soon after we moved into the house, it had grown to about 2 metres high and wide, flowering from the end of winter through spring, and providing morning and evening meals for visiting honey eaters: mostly Red Wattle birds.

But no more.

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Gloria found it sprawled across the path way between our front garden and the house, not long after I’d left for work, and set about cutting it up. It took two or three days to remove all of it, disposing of the remains in our green-waste bin, to be taken away and composted by the local council.

It’s taken the bird population a couple of weeks to realise it’s gone for ever, and they’ve now stopped making their puzzled observations from the vantage point of the house guttering.

While one abundant supply of nectar has been lost, we have some smaller Grevillia’s in a nearby garden that have recently come into flower, and the birds are frequently seen and heard flapping among them.

 

Eye Level

A long time ago in a city far, far away…

…the sound of a bell would signal time to begin the school day. Later, a bell would signal the time to return to class after recess and lunch breaks.

In primary school that bell used to be handheld, either rung by a staff member, or by a favoured student. In High School, technology took over and a wall mounted bell would be activated, presumably by a timer.

Gloria’s experience was much the same, despite living in a small, far western NSW town.

The primary school up the road from our current home does things differently. Whenever I’ve been home during school weeks, at regular times throughout the day, a familiar tune could be heard coming from the school which is about 800 metres away. We deduced that the tune was the school’s alternative to a bell, summoning children in to class.

But despite the familiarity, I couldn’t think of the name of the tune. Out of frustration I sometimes considered phoning the school to ask what it was, I never got a round to doing it.

Gloria and I are avid viewers of a BBC game show, Bargain Hunt. Two teams are given an amount of money, and one hour to spend it in an antique centre or fair. The items they purchase are then sold at auction. They get to keep any profit made. Profits are rare, so the winner is usually the team with the smallest loss.

Last week one of the contestants was introduced as someone who had had a number one hit in the music charts. A brief clip of him performing on Top of the Pops was shown, dating back to 1973. It was the theme of a TV show of that time, and a much younger version of the contestant was conducting an orchestra playing that theme.

Mystery solved!

It was the same tune played by the local school throughout the day, every school day. It’s called Eye Level, and was the theme of a show called Vandervalk.

Backyard Birds

After moving into my house more than 12 years ago I’ve been keeping a list of the different birds I’ve seen either in our garden or from our garden. It’s been several months since I’ve been able to add a new one to the list: until Sunday morning.

rainbow lorikeetx2.jpgOn Sunday I was walking around outside and heard an unfamiliar bird chattering away. In a neighbour’s tree I saw a once familiar sight – a pair of rainbow lorikeets.

They were a frequent visitor around my previous home in Sydney. They would sit on the window sill, or on the balcony table, and were “tame” enough to be handfed. However, they’re not supposed to be native to more inland areas like the town where I now live.

According to the two bird field guides I own, their habitat should be closer to the coast. However, changing climate seems to be having its effect on the movement of wild life, and the range of some birds (rainbow lorikeets included) is expanding.

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Both photos were taken from my back garden.

do not worry about your life…

Yesterday I was told that a significant part of my job will be reallocated to someone else in one of the city offices. I asked whether I could expect a generous redundancy payout to be coming my way. The laughter that came in response seemed to indicate no.

 

If I can only survive here until March next year I’ll beat my previous longest term with an employer. Until now 9 years 11 months is the best. That was the job I had prior to starting university in 1990.

My next longest was around 8 1/2 years in the position I had prior to leaving Sydney to move to this country town.

I’m not sure what options there will be after leaving this job. There aren’t many new openings around for people of my age.

 

Prior to working here I had no concerns about finding enough work to keep the bills paid. I believed something would always come along, and that belief was always realised. More than once I was offered work without actively looking for it, including my current position.
I received an unsolicited phone call offering me five weeks work, relieving someone who was on 5 week’s leave and I’m still here almost ten years later, never having applied for my position, or being interviewed for it.
The main administrative change was being made a permanent employee at the same casual pay rate I’d previously been receiving. (Casual employees are usually paid a higher rate because they don’t have leave entitlements – I was given leave entitlements as well as keeping the higher pay rate).

 

It’s probably much easier to trust the Lord to provide when there’s no other option. Having something secure has its benefits, but it’s easy to become dependent on that security instead of trusting God.

 

I remember a friend of mine once received one of those Reader’s Digest sweepstakes mail outs to say he was in a draw to win a large amount of money. He prayed earnestly to win it and thereby solve his financial problems. I gave it little thought at the time but later realised that receiving a large pay out like that would have done nothing for his ongoing faith in God.
Rather than trust God for a one time answer to a life time of problems, we need to trust Him day by day by day … continuing throughout the rest of our lives.

 

While the future of my job may not be as secure as it once was, I need to be confident in trusting the Lord instead of relying on the security given by an employer.

 

 

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

The Long Weekend

I have a long weekend coming up – three days away from work, but nothing special planned.

As long as the weather remains fine we’ll probably spend a lot of time in the garden. That’s what we’ve done for the last two or three weekends.

Spring weather has finally made gardening pleasant again. Any work done makes a noticeable difference (for example, the lawn LOOKS mowed) and we again have an abundance of flowers,  transforming the garden into a place we want to be.

We also know that it won’t last, so we need to make the most of it while we can. As soon as the summer heat arrives, tender plants will be sun-scorched, roses petals will dry out almost as soon as the blooms open, and we’ll never seem to be able to get enough water to the plants before it evaporates.

For a few weeks now we’ve been harvesting a good handful of asparagus every day. Sadly that crop seems to be coming to an end. It’s the only edible we’ve been able to make use of for quite a while. I forgot to plant out the winter veg in time, and I need to be sure that we’ve seen the last of the overnight frosts before I can transplant my tomato plants from pots into the garden. I’ve found that tomato plants are extremely susceptible to cold temperatures whether there’s frost or not.

I have taken the chance with zucchini, squash and pumpkins. While they are also very frost tender, potential damage can be minimised, with only a leaf or two damaged, if given a little protection when the potential of frost is forecast. Also, only half of my seedlings have been planted into garden beds with half being held back in pots, under cover, as insurance.

Last week Gloria netted the strawberry patch to protect anticipated fruit from the destructive blackbirds. It seems like she did it just in time, with the first berries showing the a hint of developing ripeness this morning.