Monday, 31 August 2015

Weekend Recap

Hi everyone,
Sorry I've been absent (again) - the evenings have had me too tired to write to be honest.
It was a good weekend up here.  Little sister, as I may have said before, came up on Friday night.  she and I set to work giving the house a cleanup on Saturday morning, and (hurray!) I got to skype with Grace and Rachel from about 10:30am.  They're loving being back at school, and they got to see their grandfather and aunt while we were about it.
I don't know why the photo is mirror-imaged!
At around midday I went into Shepparton to the Winter Market to help out at the SES's flood awareness stand.  I'm pleased to say I think I did a good job.  That is, I was able to strike up conversations with passers-by and outline issues with flood risks to them pretty effectively.  A lot of the information we gave out will disappear down the memory hole, I'm sure, but if it only leads one person in ten to prepare for flooding (always a risk) then it's worthwhile.
After we wrapped up I went to Harris Scarfe to pick up a slow-cooker.  They had them on sale, and it'll be a godsend for making sure the parental units eat good healthy dinners at least.  Regular readers will know that the old boy's habit of going for very low effort (and very low nutrition) meals is a constant worry for me.  I'll feel a lot happier if I can set things up for both of them so that they simply need to flip the switch to "on" at 9am and do nothing further for the rest of the day.  If you have any slow-cooker recipes to share, fire away!
I went to see mum in the hospital after that: she seemed tired and bored and I know she's keen to be discharged.  As I was leaving, I ran into Dad, Little Sister and Second Oldest Sister and so we all went back to see her.  Having a crowd there certainly brightened mum up!
I was booked for the Shepparton Half-Marathon on Sunday morning and I headed off to it bright and early.  I'm surprised to say that I was feeling pretty flat as I headed in, and quite without the sort of spark that I usually get on race day.  I reminded myself not to think too much about it and to simply get on with the job at hand, which was to try and post a roughly two-hour time, which seemed optimistic given that the cold and being back at work has really made it hard to run and so I've been doing most of my training in the gym.
As it turned out, I ran a pretty good race - actually, much better than I expected to.  The course wound up and down the Goulburn River and around Victoria Park Lake, and was basically flat about 95% of the way.  Conditions were perfect: crisp and cool, warming up to a sunny morning.  I only checked my pace twice and was pleasantly surprised each time, finding I was solidly under 6 min/km.  In the end I finished in a time of 1:51:41 which was much better than I'd expected.
Directly after I'd finished I went for a session of pilates-on-demand at the gym to encourage my legs to bounce back as quickly as possible, what with having ANOTHER half marathon next weekend(!).  A shower at the gym was heavenly.
Because who doesn't love bling?
I got back to the farm about 11:30am and gave Second Oldest Sister a hand in the kitchen.  Little Sister had already gone to town to pick up mum from the hospital and they got back about 12:30pm.  Second Oldest Sister had done a pork roast for lunch which was incredibly good, and I think mum was deep-down pleased that we were all trying to help out and do the right thing.
By 4pm it was time for both sisters to head back to Melbourne and mum back to hospital.  I decided to rack up some more miles for the weekend and give the my legs a bit more work, so I took the dog on a good long walk across the paddocks and brought up another barrow-load of firewood.
The evening was a little stilted.  Because it was just dad and me conversation was awkward: I really have to watch what conversations I start because so many of them end in him going off on a rant (a case in point: on Saturday evening I passed to Second Oldest Sister a flyer the local volunteer fire brigade had put out of a fundraising market they were holding - this lead to a long diatribe from the old boy about how he was hostile to the Country Fire Authority because there hasn't been a fire on the home place since the 1840s but he still has to pay a fairly expensive Fire Services Levy).  I love the old boy dearly, but it's getting harder to respect him as his personality becomes more dominated by his resentments.
I woke up a bit sore this morning, but that's fading as the day has worn on.  A good protein-heavy dinner should encourage suitable muscle repair.  The day at work has been quiet, and I've taken advantage of the lull to start scoping out other jobs.  I can't bear the thought of being out of work again and Lord knows I'd like to find some work that's a bit more satisfying.  Frankly, rescue work would be ideal for me.  Just have to keep looking!
I'll post this and head to hospital and see mum.  May post more later.

Friday, 28 August 2015

By choice

Hi everyone,

It's 6am here.  I decided to write about the thing that I alluded to but didn't write about in my last post.

I was trading a few messages recently with a friend of mine who used the phrase 'single by choice'.  That phrase (and idea) has been rolling around in my head for the last few days.  The more I think of it as a description of my situation, the more liberating it feels.

I've written previously ( about having a few ethical misgivings about finding someone new post-divorce.  I hadn't really thought, though, of singlehood as a status to be preserved by choice.  The more I think of it, though, the more it makes sense.  It frees you from the burden of knowing you frustrate the Hell out of someone else, or having them utterly exasperate you.  It spares you from the contempt that only a significant other can inject into a look or a word.  Fundamentally, it leaves you free.

It seems like a terribly obvious thing, but it had never occurred to me before. I'm surely pleased to have this new perspective!

Comings and goings

Hi everyone,

It's been another quiet day here.  I was up early to feed the dog and give him a walk before work - it was a good cool fresh morning.

Work itself was quiet: lots of filing and a fair bit of time messing about with an excel spreadsheet for a particular bill.  My pod-mates decided to hold an impromptu morning tea which was pleasant - à la St Bernard's day last week, they attributed this to St Augustines day.  Either they're making fun of me or I made an impression!

Saw mum after work. She seemed a little subdued, but looking forward to a trip home this weekend.  Dad got back from the south today, and I think I heard Fran get in just before.

Not much more for now. One idea I'd like to share is bubbling in my head; will think it through more before I write it.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Two quiet days

Hi everyone,
Here I am on Thursday night.  Dad went back down to Flinders today, so I've given SES a miss tonight so I could come home and feed and walk the dog. Yesterday passed quietly aside from a protest rally outside work.  It's clear that quite a few people detest my employer (and one or two seem to hate the employees too).  I'm fortunate, however, to have been a litigation lawyer for a long time: a tolerance for having people hate your guts is kind of a job requirement!
After work I drove up to the Caltex and put a few more pounds of air in one of my tyres that has a slow leak (will change it at the weekend) and then went to the hospital to see mum.  She seemed a little bit flat - as if the time in hospital was really starting to drag.  Not that I can blame her for that: after a while the walls must start to close in.
When I got back to the farm Dad was still loading the car to got to Flinders, so I scurried to feed the dog and lend him a hand.  He seemed a bit fed up and so while the potatoes for dinner were cooking I made a point of breaking out the chips and wine: I figured that some fats and salts were an acceptable price to pay for the morale boost!
He was on the move early this morning, so I saw him off and then gave the dog a walk before work.  The day itself at work was a mixed bag.  The main job of the day involved digging back into the history of a particular channel reserve.  I was able to go back as far as 1938, but after that records were hard to find.  It gave me the (for me) fun job of perusing old documents though, so that was a perk.  The day was otherwise dead quiet.  I'm not used to this!
The days are clearly getting longer: When I was driving back to the farm there was enough light to take a photo of the bridge over the Goulburn at Toolamba.  I usually say that it looks like something out of the Wild West, and it really does.  It's just barely a single car width; one of the runs on my to-do list is from the farm to the Junction Hotel at Toolamba, which would take me direct across it.
It's been a quiet evening here: the dog and I went for a walk in the rain and I made a big salad for dinner.  I'm pretty sure I could have salads and sandwiches for dinner every night forever and not get bored.
Nothing more to add now.  Almost time for me to have a cleanup and go to bed.
More tomorrow.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Seeking Guest Bloggers!

Hi everyone,

Those of you who read my old blog may remember how my run (and walk and cycle and swim) challenge for 2015 was to cover the equivalent of the distance from Houston, TX to Clinton, CT, with detours through Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Vicksburg MS, a distance of 1940 miles.

On paper, I've just reached Hagerstown, MD (the 1554 mile point).  My virtual route from this point would have taken me through Hershey PA, Morristown NJ, Tarrytown NY, Bridgeport CT and finally Clinton CT.  But, the miles are rolling by easily, and so I've decided to set a new end-point and to throw in a detour!  The new virtual itinerary is:
  • Hagerstown MD (1577 miles)
  • Hershey PA (1655 miles)
  • Morristown NJ (1804 miles)
  • Coney Island NY (1848 miles)
  • Tarrytown NY (1893 miles)
  • Bridgeport CT (1938 miles)
  • Clinton CT (1978 miles)
  • South Portland ME (2209 miles)

Why am I sharing this?  Because I think it's great to get to know people, and so I'm asking if any of you have ties to any of those areas (or, you know, areas thereabouts), or areas along the way.  Maybe they're your home town?  Maybe you holidayed there?  Maybe great-aunt Harriet lives there.  If that's the case, how would you like to write a guest post, to go up when I tick of the mileage that that town represents?  It can be any length, and on anything you like - why you live where you do, why you love running (if you do), pictures you'd like to share, anything (as long as it's not, you know, pornographic or deliberately obnoxious).  And naturally, links to your own blog/website/business are fine.

Hope to hear from anyone who loves to write!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Ending in Ithaca

Hi everyone,

Starting this post on my phone while I still have some battery coverage.

It's been a quiet day.  I fed the dog and the cat and then headed off to work.  The day itself was a bit of a chore: by about 2pm I was casting about for work to do and didn't like to be a pest and nag the boss.  Scratch an experienced lawyer and you'll find a nervy kid stuck in Grade Five.  Anyway, after about 30 minutes of killing time I got a salvo of emails about a large and rather complex bill that needs to get paid.  The lead to a genuinely interesting and challenging couple of hours messing about with an Excel spreadsheet.  Who'd'a thought I'd be enjoying that sort of work?! 

The lady whose maternity leave I'm covering for came in for morning tea, and that means cake was served.  My self-control was at somewhat low ebb and so when lunchtime rolled around I headed out for a good walk on the path near the railway line to burn some of it off.

It's a good path I must say, and leads up to Cussen Park.  Nice and tree lined and will be good when the days are long enough to run after work.

I must look up what the rail line through Tatura carries. I'm sure it's not passengers; I wonder where the freight lines go?

I went to see mum at the hospital after work.  She seemed a little washed out - tired, perhaps?  Still, she does seem to be looking forward to coming home.  I guess that means she's got a positive feeling about the future and that's a good thing.
I was ploughing through my emails tonight and found one that referred me to a very nice story about the old church in St Martinville, Louisiana.  I love the idea of a church like that, and a community built around it.  I think that was one of the things I loved most about the ex's world.  I know it means I should feel great about living up here, where I oscillate between the big town of Shepparton, the small town of Tatura, and the village of Toolamba, but somehow it just isn't the same.  I guess everyone has their own Ithaca.
No more for now.  Hope you're all starting the week out right!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Insulation, love and running

Hi everyone,
A catchup post here.  I think the last time I posted was on Friday evening, right? It feels like it was a terribly long time ago.
If I forgot to say it, Friday included a lunchtime trip to the Blood Bank.  You know how much I love that sort of thing.  It's hard to explain why: it's a feeling of giving everything away as a total freebie (1 Corinthians 13:3 may or may not be on point).  Of course, it's not everything,  Really it's only about a litre or so of fluid.  I'm not even sure how one would give everything away.  Still, better to do a part-job than none at all I guess.
Yesterday was a beautiful Spring-like day.  Michael had come up on Thursday and Little Sister last night.  Michael had procured several bags of insulation with the intention of installing same in the roof and so he and I spent most of the day doing just that.
I'm proud to say that I did the work well.  Every time I get to exercise my inner Hank Hilldo feel a bit proud of it.  I think perhaps because for much of the time we were together that was the sort of non-useless man that the ex wanted to be married to.  I'm not sure what to make of the fact that she had to divorce me for me to become the man I think she wanted (needed?) her husband to be.
While I was up in the roof wrestling with insulation batts I had some time to think about that whole subject, and in particular whether I can or should re-partner some day.  Truth is, I still take the idea of marriage-as-sacrament seriously enough to feel markedly uncomfortable about finding someone new: such a relationship can't help but be a betrayal of a promise I made and was part of.  I don't think worse of someone who views things differently, but when it comes to my own actions I have to take my own conscience seriously.  Moreover, the men in my life have tended to be pretty hopeless at relationships as well, and it seems a poor thing to inflict that on someone else.  There's no point selling someone a Maserati when you know the motor came out of a Trabant, as it were.
Today was a cooler morning that warmed up to another beautiful day.  I brought up another couple of barrows of firewood and also attended to other clean-up-straighten-up tasks about the place.  Fran went to get Mum from the hospital at about 11am as she had day leave to go for lunch.  I'm pleased to say that she's doing well.  That is, her hand is still limited, but her leg is doing well (she could transition from car to wheelchair very effectively, for example) and her mind and humour are good.  We (well, Michael) cooked up a barbeque lunch for her which went down really well.  And, she was genuinely happy to see the cat and the dog again.
Me with a ring-tailed possum I rescues from the cat last night
Little Sister took her back to the Hospital about 3pm and she (Sister) continued on to Melbourne from there.  I took the opportunity to head out for a long run: the Shepparton Half Marathon is next weekend and my preparation for it has been almost non existent, what with SES training, mum and the icy weather.  Anyway, I bashed out 17kms at an average pace of under 6 mins/km which is much better than I'd hoped for.  It was my first decent outdoors run in what felt like forever.  It felt heavenly to have some alone time where my brain didn't have time to think much and to just enjoy the feeling of strength in my legs and the sun on my shoulders.
TV was a wasteland tonight, so I put on Master & Commander for Dad.  I think it's the first time he's seen a Russell Crowe movie and I must say I think he enjoyed it.  I certainly did: for one thing I'd forgotten just what a talented director Peter Weir really is.  Weir seems to have the knack of making viewers forget the film is being directed.  Baz Luhrmann, by contrast, seems to take a kind of pride in presenting movies where one can almost feel the director pulling the strings: the real star, you could say, is the puppet-master.  Both approaches have their merit, but given a choice I'd prefer Weir over Luhrmann.
No more for now.  Back to work tomorrow.  Hope all is well with you!

Friday, 21 August 2015

North Korea, droughts and cake

Hi everyone,

I started this post last night before SES; I'm taking a break from a spreadsheet to continue it.

Today started with the usual news and media update emails that we get.  One story that caught my eye was a recent lead story in the McIvor Times, a paper that circulates in Heathcote, a town about an hour away from here.  What particularly stood out to me was the forecast of very dry weather ahead:
Dr Bailey said the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) had declared an ‘El Niño’ weather pattern that was expected to bring drier conditions.
“The BoM recently stated that rainfall for July was about a third of average,” Dr Bailey said.
“El Nino generally means a drier spring, too.”
If dry conditions continue, for the 2015-16 irrigation system irrigators may not receive 100 per cent HRWS allocation on the Goulburn and Loddon systems until February 2016.
Under a ‘dry’ scenario, HRWS allocations may only reach 83 per cent on the Murray, 74 per cent on the Campaspe and 53 per cent on the Broken system by February 2016.
“If there continues to be below-average rainfall this season, it will put pressure on all systems for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons,” Dr Bailey said.
“We’re encouraging farmers therefore to consider their options for the following seasons.”
Dr Bailey said despite some above average rainfall in recent years, there was less water available in northern Victoria – by some estimates 20-30 per cent less – than a decade ago.
“We know irrigated agriculture underpins our regional economy,” Dr Bailey said.
“One of the main goals of G-MW’s connections project is to help build resilience for farmers, and therefore our communities, by planning for climate change.
Maybe I've been reading too much seventeenth-century apocalyptica lately, but I was struck by nothing so much as the parallel with Genesis 41:17-31:
... Pharaoh said to Joseph: “Behold, in my dream I stood on the bank of the river. Suddenly seven cows came up out of the river, fine looking and fat; and they fed in the meadow. Then behold, seven other cows came up after them, poor and very ugly and gaunt, such ugliness as I have never seen in all the land of Egypt. And the gaunt and ugly cows ate up the first seven, the fat cows. When they had eaten them up, no one would have known that they had eaten them, for they were just as ugly as at the beginning. So I awoke. Also I saw in my dream, and suddenly seven heads came up on one stalk, full and good. Then behold, seven heads, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprang up after them. And the thin heads devoured the seven good heads.
... Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do: The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads are seven years; the dreams are one. And the seven thin and ugly cows which came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty heads blighted by the east wind are seven years of famine. This is the thing which I have spoken to Pharaoh. God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do. Indeed seven years of great plenty will come throughout all the land of Egypt; but after them seven years of famine will arise, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine will deplete the land. So the plenty will not be known in the land because of the famine following, for it will be very severe.
Frankly, it baffles me that a decent whack of the people who take the Scriptures seriously also problems accepting the likelihood of climate change.  The only explanation I can offer is that mixing faith and politics is like mixing vanilla icecream and raw sewage: the resulting combination will taste a lot more like the latter than the former (a phrasing I have shamelessly stolen from the compulsively readable Mark Steyn).
Continuing the biblical theme: Apocalyptic or not (and Michelle Bachmann's views notwithstanding, probably not), it's hard not to be mildly troubled by news that the Hermit Kingdom has gone onto a war footing again when a certain amount of Western attention is focussed on Syria.  It's a well-worn complaint, but one has to be troubled by the thought that great power can be exercised when the consequences of its exercise are impossible to foresee entirely.  Reason #5672 why I love being an emergency worker is that it makes big-picture crises simpler to deal with: Fix what can be fixed; remove danger from people (or vice versa); follow your training; get on with it.

Be all that as it may, yesterday at least offered me a small chance to offer a more smiling version of Catholicism to the world.  August 20th is the feast-day of St Bernard of Clairvaux, a Cisterican saint for whom I have a particular fondness.  On the strength of that I offered to shout my co-workers coffee/hot chocolate/doughnuts from the bakery. 

While I was at the bakery I also picked up a cake to take to last night's SES training, which the Unit seemed to like.

I think that the general reaction could be summed up as "this is a bit odd and kind of quaint, but very nice", which is about the best description of religion generally I can think of!

Today has started off well - there was quite a bit of cloud about this morning and so the air temperature was wonderfully mild.  Lord it feels good not to be trying not to freeze!  There's a severe weather warning for the two neighbouring forecast districts; God willing it'll pass us by.

Michael came up to the farm last night and is doing some work on the house.  I'm glad he's getting to stay part of the family despite breaking up with Little Sister.  As I said before, they're both good people but were never a good match.  When I left he and Dad were talking about shooting down to Flinders today to move some cattle over the creek, returning tonight.

I'd better finish this spreadsheet before I trek off to the blood bank in lunchhour.  More later.  Hope all's well with you good people.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Closing my eyes

Hi everyone,

Short follow-up post...  It was a good night at SES (ladders, knots and maintenance).  Afterwards I drove back to Mooroopna to put some air in one of the tyres in my car that was low.  The chap at the BP outlet was more than happy to help: he's been enquiring about volunteering with the Tatura unit and we were able to have a good long talk about it.  He seems like a good, sensible fellow so I hope he'll follow through and join up.

Slightly warmer night tonight. It's now 1am and I'm surely looking to sleep.  Have a great day!

Cold Air, Tea and Pasta

Hi everyone,
This is my update on yesterday; I'll probably start drafting today directly after and post it after SES this evening.
So yesterday was another bitterly cold morning.  These are the times when I make dead certain the dog has something warm to eat to start the day: this time it was bread, chow, old milk and warm water.  As he was going to be on the chain most of the day I gave him a decent walk before I got ready for work.  We caught a gorgeous sunrise as we were going.

The chilly air seemed somehow even clearer than usual - as if any moisture in the air was on the ground in the form of ice.

My day at work itself was unexceptional, aside for the first job (probing around on Facebook trying to work out if a person who ran into one of our bridges is working and might be able to pay for the damage).  I kept it fun by sampling the boxes of tea I bought for a dollar each from Woolworths the other night (the tea I drank at the weekend clearly left a mark).  I'm afraid I can't get into Darjeeling tea - it seems to have no flavour at all.  Prefer English Breakfast and Australian Afternoon - they have plenty of flavour.  And Lady Grey (which seems to be a new blend) has a lot of appeal: a light floral taste, but without the bergamot being as overpowering as it is with Earl Grey.
I went to seem Mum at the hospital in the evening and then headed for the farm.  Dad had gotten back from Flinders and was waiting for me - he needed another person to help in the yards to get some cattle drenched.  I've had jobs I enjoyed more: they were stirry and kept wanting to jump the gate; I needed to take a VERY softly-softly approach to make them do what I wanted.
I'm a bit worried about Dad: without Mum about he seems a bit helpless.  When I got home last night he'd gotten the fire lit, but hadn't turned the TV on - I don't think he knows how and (this is troubling) somehow seems to lack the confidence to try.  The lack of confidence may also explain why he hadn't fed the dog or cat: he may have been unsure what in the fridge was to be fed to them and what is for human consumption.  Lord knows what he's been eating while he's been away, but to ake sure he had something good I suggested he watch the local news while I whipped up a rough-and-ready pasta out of some Latina Fresh along with lettuce, tomatoes and cheese.
It looks mucky but came out delicious!
Anyway, I'll just have to keep a close but loving eye on Dad and try and smooth his path as best I'm able.  Like most farmers, he's a proud man and temperamentally stubborn as Hell.  If I try and force him to do anything, he'll dig his heels in immediately, but if I can let him do things in the way that best protects him, all will be well.  The joys of family!
More shortly

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Another cold night

Hi everyone,

The cold last night morphed into an equally cold morning.  How cold?  This cold -

Frost or not, I had to be up early enough to give the dog a walk and make up some food for him, so up I got.  The dog did at least seem to enjoy going for a walk with me and my mug of English Breakfast ... 

although the temperature actually dropped a bit more!

The day at work was unremarkable.  I went to see mum at the hospital after work.  She was eating well although I got the feeling she was a little flat after a few days of slow progress.

I headed back to the farm afterwards to give the dog another walk and then feed him.  Made myself a big lettuce, tomato and turkey bacon salad for dinner.

Time to sleep.  Hope you're all doing ok! 

Monday, 17 August 2015


Hi everyone,

Lying here in bed shivering again.  Ugh: this winter can't end soon enough.

Today isn't really a monument to excitement.  Nearly the whole day was spent in a seminar on public land law.  I'm not sure what to make of it: because part of it was explaining very basic land law to non-legally qualified staff, it was a bit of a time waster to those of us who are lawyers.  And, I got the feeling the presenter wasn't that familiar with our business' operations: I sensed some other staff switching off as he made a few errors.

I went to see mum at the hospital after work and she's doing well - in very good spirits.  It was a quiet evening at the farm for me: walked the dog and gave him his dinner and took the bins out.  There was nothing on TV so I spent some time drafting a blogpost.  I felt like I'd been doing nothing but eat for days, so I had a glass of wine and some cups of tea and called it a day.  Felt good to give my system a break! 

Have a good day.  I'm crawling under these blankets to try and warm up.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Back through a Bridge

Hi everyone,
Here I am back at the farm.  I slept well last night - and that includes the bit where I woke up to type last night's blogpost.  It's a great place to be.

Breakfast was a pleasure as usual: a cooked breakfast followed by muesli, stewed peaches and yoghurt with brewed coffee.  You may have already guessed that I'm letting the diet go this weekend!

The sky was bright and pale this morning, so on my way to the seminar centre I was able to get one of those "vertical through the trees" shots that I'd had a hankering to take for a bit.

I think the silhouette thing worked out really well!

The morning session involved role-playing group psychological first aid.  It was great how we all started to feel more confident in the process and in our ability to help fellow members with it.  Ian, a volunteers from over at Benalla, has said that volunteering with the CFA can be addictive. I must say that I tend to agree!
Oddly, one of the dominant memories I'll carry away from the course is drinking colossal amounts of tea.  When part of the set-up of the learning centre is a Twinings tea chest, it really adds to the day. 

Lunch took the form of roast pork and butter chicken (yeah, we eat well!).  It was probably just as well Brendan (one of the other members from my unit) and I burned it off with a brisk three kilometres or so to the top of the logging coupe in the back of the college.  It also let me get a couple of the sort of photos I'd been hoping to get around here.

Not gonna lie: I kind of fell in love with this place.

The afternoon was more straightforward: we were taken through a couple of the methods of Critical Incident Stress management that are for specialist use (where we as Peers would assist but not conduct the session).  When I came down this weekend I was still on the fence about continuing with the course, but through yesterday and today I found myself more and more wanting to be selected to get through. and not to fail.  I think everyone else was feeling the same, and so you can imagine that there were some pretty big smiles when we were told that all of us had made it through and will be appointed probationary members of the Peer Support unit.  I'm really proud of that: it's a skill I'm proud to have!

Harry, the mascot of the SES Peer Support team

Ian and I, and a volunteer from one of the units on the Murray River, began our trek back to Tatura and beyond at about 3:30pm.  The volunteer from the Murray wanted to take a route back by way of Heathcote because she was convinced it would be quicker than going back on the Midland Highway (I was not convinced then and am not convinced now).  Notwithstanding the questionable efficiency of the route, it did at least take us through the town of Redesdale, which means I was able to grab a couple of photos of the unusually-designed Redesdale Bridge.  It's really something to see, right?

We stopped in Heathcote so Ian and I could have our usual mid-trip coffee and then continued on to Tatura.  I picked up my car and drove back to here.
And now, back to reality.  If I can I'll squeeze a FEMA course in tomorrow and fill the gap a bit.  I guess the core of it is that it's when I'm learning new ways to serve in emergencies that I feel like I am doing what is most valuable.
I may blog later if I can't sleep.  If not, have a great day!

Saturday, 15 August 2015

From the School

Hi everyone,

An update of two days tonight.  Sorry for the lack of a post last night: I was utterly beat when I got to bed.

Yesterday started off with me ploughing through a combination couple of boxes of documents looking for a particular set of records.  I didn't mind this, of course: you know I love old documents.  The particular treat in this one was looking through a file from circa 1970 and finding a copy of an actual Telex.

These are the things that make me happy!  I had an even cooler job on the Thursday night trying to trace the origin of an easement on a particular block of ground.  This had me tracking down title certificates from the 1880s.  I was in document heaven!

I finished work at 3:30pm to come down to Creswick for this weekend's tranche of the peer support course; our vehicle had me, Ian from Wangaratta and Jennie from Rutherglen.  Ian drove as far as Bendigo, where we stopped at a McDonalds for coffee and for me to take the wheel.

It was just on 7pm when we got to Creswick and we went straight to the arranged dinner at the American Hotel.

I can certainly recommend it.  SES paid for the food (but not alcohol) so I can't comment on value, but the deconstructed chicken souvlaki I had was full of flavour and in a way, remarkably light.

When we got to the accommodation I found I'd been put in the same room as last time.  Sitting back having an evening glass of wine with everyone I realised why I like this place so much: it reminds me of Tarrawarra Abbey, the Cistercian community up in the Yarra valley.  The same timber and stone design, and the same feeling of focussing on things away from the agitated business of the world.

In a plus, last night I got to check out a video from MereMere, a youtuber whose video tv reviews I always used to enjoy.  She's back online and just recently put up her first 'rebooted' video.  Go check her out! The URL is

I slept wonderfully well last night. It was 9°C when I woke up this morning.  As it wasn't freezing I decided to get the day underway with a run.

Certainly going for a run helped give an insight into the rest of Creswick looked like: away from the pocket-Daylesford main street, a lot of the houses seemed down at heel.  Many had car hulks and savage-looking dogs in the front yard.  For all its charm, I think this would still be a tough little town.

Be all that as it may, I got a gorgeous photo coming back to the accomodation. This a the day that the Lord hath made! let us rejoice and be glad in it! 

I've certainly learned a lot through the day about the Critical Incident Stress Management system, which is a large part of the toolbox for supporting volunteers who've had difficult experiences.  I even did ok with the role play of a Defusing at the end which I'm pleased about.  Really looking forward to tomorrow.

We've had a few chances to stretch our legs and explore the campus through the day.  I still love the old style of the buildings.

It'd make you want to think of a career in forestry.  Lord knows but the timber looked peaceful this morning.

I guess that's enough for now.  Looking forward to sharing more tomorrow!