24 February 2009

in lieu of coherent posting

I still can't read the newspaper without crying. Today it was the first coverage of the memorial services (some families can't even have funerals as there are no bodies to bury/cremate) - the 21 year old twins who lost their brother and both parents, clinging to each other and sobbing. Or the brother and sister who sang their parents' wedding song at their memorial service.

It puts your shitty day at work into perspective eh?

Death toll is 210, but there are many people still on the 'missing' list who will have to be transferred to the 'deceased' list sooner or later. Strathewen lost 1 in 4 people from its population. Families from the boys' schools have lost their homes, a teacher lost his father ... 'lost' is such a gentle unassuming word for such a devastating trauma.

Speaking of words, I'm joining others in the plea to stop referring to those affected by the fires as 'victims'. 'Survivors' is more accurate. Language is a powerful tool and sometimes the term victim can affect one's dignity. There have been some interesting discussions in the schoolyard lately pertaining to the ethics of charity and the unspoken expectation that receivers of charity 'should' show gratitude. It's a delicate one for both sides I reckon.

The elder boys' school had a bushfire drill last week. I asked them what it comprised and was informed 'When the siren goes, you all go to your own classroom, four monitors fill buckets and put them in the corners (luckily each classroom has a sink and tap and presumably several buckets), the rest of the class put all the tables into the centre of the room, everyone puts their jumpers on and gets under the cave of tables. If bits of the room catch on fire you throw the bucket of water at it. You stay down low in case of smoke.'

I just heard about the upcoming big bushfire relief concert featuring the most incredible line up of bands. Lots of bands I've vaguely heard of but don't really know (ie. bands and singers popular after 1993) but also, get this, Split Enz (!), Midnight Oil (!) (ok enough exclamation marks because I'm about to put one after every single band listed), Hunters and Collectors, Icehouse (!) (I used to have a major crush on Iva Davies when he was in his short hair and brocade smoking jacket phase so the exclamation mark remains), Paul Kelly, Hoodoo Gurus (I saw them at the Armadale pub circa 1987 - best gig ever), Coldplay, Jet, you name em, they're there. Multiple exclamation marks. All performing for free.

I was at home yesterday with the radio and CFA website both going all day. The radio interrupted programming to say there was an urgent fire threat at Upwey and Belgrave. I'd been glancing out the window all day and seen nothing, but at this news I shifted my position so the blind spot behind the large gum tree here ...

22 Feb : the currawongs are thirsty

was revealed, and saw this ...

3.30pm, 23 February 2009

Which made me a bit jumpy. At the same time, the siren at the end of the road went off again, making me jump and the dog bark. Luckily for us here the wind doesn't blow from the east but houses were lost in Belgrave and some firefighters injured.

I'm nervous about this Friday which is the next scary forecast day.

In other news, my little hand knitted porkers went to a local four year old girl whose home and toys were lost in the fires.

And the baby of our family turned ten. I'll probably take this photo down in a day or two but wanted to share it for a minute. His hand is blurry because he was waving away the enormous amount of smoke generated by ten candles. Smoke being the theme around here at the mo.

the littlest turns ten

32 comments:

tut-tut said...

We here don't get much news about all of this; thanks to you and other Australian bloggers for keeping the rest of us informed.

Sarah said...

What a stressful time. I'm glad you could find the spirit to celebrate the big double digit day.

daysgoby said...

Oh, Suse, he's BEAUTIFUL!

A good day to celebrate, especially in the midst of the darkness there.

docwitch said...

What a gorgeous boy. His eyes are full of kindness. Happy birthday to him.

I've been thinking and worrying about this Friday too. Hoping that it will pass peacefully and uneventfully. So many of us just want the season to slip quickly into a (hopefully) cool, calm and safe autumn.

Shammickite said...

I've been reading the Aussie news and other blogs. My thoughts are with all Australians right now. My cousin in Ivanhoe is keeping me informed.

zephyr said...

What a beautiful boy!

My heart aches for the survivors.
I'm praying that rain will come sooner, not later.

ThirdCat said...

I remember similar discussions about 'having to be' grateful a few years ago after the Pt Lincoln fires. You're right. It's delicate - especially because we are are all so fragile at times like this.

Hoodoo Gurus are freaking awesome. (I used the proper adult word, but substituted freaking) - saw them a zillion times. Never, ever left disappointed.

Courtney said...

Thank you for sharing updates and pictures and especially for posting info about how we can help!

sonrie said...

Thinking of you and fellow citizens in this terrible tragedy.

tc said...

Just came back to say, it's heartbreaking that people can't have a funeral. Absolutely heartbreaking.

kirsty said...

You got me going again! sob sob. I've been thinking of you these last few days. Hope all keeps well for you. Friends of mine lost their home in Belgrave. Very, very sad. Quite a few girls I went to school still live round there as do their parents. I'm praying for rain.

alice c said...

Happy Birthday Youngest PeaSouper. You have so much to look forward to this year - enjoy every moment!

fifi said...

yes it does put things into perspective: I have tragedy overload here at the moment. I am surrounded by bad news so much that i feel like the only survivor of some malicious sniper.
Evry time I hear bushfire news I hope it's not near your house, but i also feel hideously sad about animals and their habitat being lost.
Too dreadful.

Why can't it RAIN???

Emma said...

It's all so terrible. I don't know how anyone closer to the fires can bear all this horrible news. Then to hear that Friday is another dangerous day ... All I can say is that you are very welcome to come back to Queensland.

Gratitude is the last emotion I would be expecting the survivors to be feeling. They didn't ask for the fires, they didn't ask for the charity, they certainly have more to deal with than simply being appropriately grateful for our charity. It's my feeling that people should expect nothing when they give, whether it's a birthday present, a charitable donation, or even just the gift of time.

eurolush said...

I agree, "survivors" is the way to go. So much sadness, but also endless compassion and goodwill.

It seems to me, it's not truly charity if one expects gratitude, is it?

Happy Birthday to the youngest Soup. He's a regular Huckleberry Finn. Adorable.

Penni said...

I was so angry with that fire in Belgrave. I wanted to go and yell at it to stop. Shout with all my might. I'm sick of it, the powerlessness, the waiting, this knot in my stomach, not knowing if I should send my kids to school and creche or not. I feel so sad for the survivors, for the kids who looked death in the face, for all the stories we won't here. It's making me curl up in silence and I can't blog about it anymore. I feel like, 'hey, we're fine, this is is not my story' and yet it's the only story I have at the moment.

Happy birthday to your lovely boy. DOuble figures.

Pxx

katiecrackernuts said...

A celebration in the family. You do well to maintain the ebb and flow of life - and in your part of the world, death. My family was watching Reign Over Me. I watched out of the corner of my eye while doing dinner and washing and cleaning and paperwork and ironing (yes, all in two hours). From what I gather it's about one man's grief at losing his family in the 9/11 attacks in the US. Heartbreaking stuff and yes, I guess, looked at that idea that those of use who are not survivors can ever understand and we move on and call on people to be grateful for our help and for time to heal. But we're not them. They are marked by the tragedy.

Badger said...

Happy birthday to the baby boy! The youngest turning 10 is quite a milestone for mum, eh?

Split Enz! Icehouse! OMG, LOVED THEM.

I hope the threat of further fires is over soon. So scary, because my God, what can you do?!

We are under Red Flag Warnings here in Central TX at the moment, due to exceptional drought conditions and high winds. It only takes the sun shining on a bit of broken glass in dry grasses to set it off. SO SCARY.

You all are in my thoughts every day!

Blossom said...

Happy birthday to your boy......gosh 10!!!!

I have to admit I can't watch anything more about the fires and the aftermath...not that I don't care.I do.......but I find it makes me tooo depressed and so I am doing practical things instead..........

Stomper Girl said...

I remember being devastated when my more knowledgeable friend told me Iva Davies batted for the other team. After I stopped being in complete denial about it, natch.

I'm hoping that Friday fizzles out, it is so much worse now hearing these warnings when you know just how bad BAD is. I'm on 774 daily now too, much to my childrens disgust. I don't like this talking. Can you put the eye-a-pod on please?

Happy birthday to your lovely bubsy. February is a busy birfday month for your house.

M said...

Happy 10th birthday to your youngest.

Scary that the fires are circling Melbourne and scarier that some of them are just.so.close. Keep safe.

lucy tartan said...

I never thought I'd get an opportunity to see Split Enz, but will it really be Split Enz, or just the guys who used to be Split Enz? Dorian grumpily said he'd prefer to pay the $75 to be allowed to stay home (hasn't forgiven Peter Garrett for various betrayals.) I'm thinking of how those Countdown Spectacular concerts look (not good). But still, Split Enz.

readersguide said...

Happy Birthday to the Youngest Member. (He is awfully cute.)

Jo Windmill said...

I agree with you about calling those who survived the fires "survivors" and not victims. What incredible stories of survival there have been. It makes the soul feel stirred with human fellowship and of course, Courage, to hear these stories.

Eleanor said...

Happy birthday! Thanks for sharing this snapshot with us, I absolutely love it.

I'm thinking of you.

Blue Mountains Mary said...

Well that photo of the smoke plume brings it home doesn't it.

I am hoping like crazy too that Friday's forecasts are all wrong.

And happy birthday to your beautiful boy.

Janet said...

Happy Birthday to your babe! What a lovely smile he has on his face, looks like a beautiful celebration. Smoke and all.

I think about you up in the hills and of friends near Daylsford and everyone else and you know, I'd just like this awful summer to be over and done with. To be moaning about drying the washing in front of the heater. Although winter's going to be horribly miserable for those who lost houses, I imagine. Sigh.

I think survivor is a much more apt word too. And on gratitude, we so shouldn't expect it. Definitely far too much to ask.

Lara said...

Happy Birthday!

Good point about the word "survivor". I'd much rather be a survivor than a victim!

Thanks for your ongoing posts about the fires, I have good friends in the Dandenongs, neither of whom have blogs, so I feel like you are giving me a little window into what is happening for them, without me calling every day and becoming a pest :)

Jo said...

Do you have choughs? My mum (at Wattle Glen) has a flock of them who have lived at her house for about 4 years now, they are pretty full on to have around but she's used to them now and honestly they way they're fed and cared for by her, as royalty, they will never leave.

MsCellania said...

Lovely to see your youngest! TEN?! How'd that happen?
Your posts have my heart in my throat. So much loss, so much sadness. Yet good things, too. People at their best, helping those who've lost so much. I cannot imagine such loss. Rainy season, please come. Come now. The world needs some good, clean rain. We are a tinder box, too. And dead, beetle-killed forests all around.

Melissa Van Oort said...

Kids grow up too fast, babies just slip through your fingers and POW!, they are 10 years old. I cannot imagine the impact of the brush fires, be safe and take comfort in all the well-wishes of us strangers who genuinely care and are touched by what people like yourself relay first-hand.

ED said...

I love your picture of the white-winged coughs. They are such wonderfully social birds and I enjoy watching them toss through the mulch.