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Well, there is good news, very good news and bad news!

In keeping with my personal philosophy of doing the worst first (like eating
your cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts) the fires continue to burn
all over the state with many which were deliberately started in the Blue
Mountains west of Sydney having swept down to the coast eating up thousands
and thousands of hectares and over 150 homes.  In many of them, the
firefighters have abandoned trying to actually put them out and are
concentrating on saving life and property.

The good news is that hazard reduction in winter and the incredible
dedication and skill of the firefighters (most of whom are volunteers who
train with their local rural fire service for just these occasions) have
limited the losses to just 150 homes when thousands have been threatened,
and the winds are expected to ease for a little while today.  What we would
all love is some of the wintry conditions that are lashing the southern
state of Victoria, just a couple of hundred kilometres away!

And the very good news (this is the chocolate and ice cream dessert to be
savoured) is that there have been no fatalities or even serious injuries.
Tens of thousands of folk have been evacuated and are spending the Christmas
season in schools and community halls, and in doubt and uncertainty about
what they might return to eventually.  Even the animals in our local
wildlife centre survived even though the fires were licking the fences,
although the toll of those bush creatures caught in the wild will never be

Certainly a Christmas season not to be forgotten and I have decided that I
want to be a fire helicopter pilot when I grow up!  In years gone by and in
another life (and marriage) I did the on-the-ground thing making a zillion
sandwiches for the firefighters (women couldn't be on the front line then,
altho now there is no discrimination) but now I want to be one of those
heroes.  And if I can't, then I am going to make a regular donation from my
pay to help those who can!

And, can you believe, that in the midst of all this havoc and destruction,
some people had the hide to whinge that the wintry weather in the south
meant the cricket was interrupted! Bah! Humbug!

Yesterday was Boxing Day, another public holiday, so I went with Miss 10 and
Mr 6 to Harry Potter and I LOVED it!  I was ready to sit through it all
again but the attendant said I had to leave and pay again :>{  Queues for
The Lord of the Rings were very long (it was opening day) so no doubt I will
join those in the near future.

But what really amazed me was the number of people who were in the
supermarkets buying FOOD.  Holy smoke, I thought everyone had already bought
enough to feed the whole of Asia and had probably eaten enough to last them
through the winter hibernation, but no - there they were, stocking up again!
Greed and gluttony are alive and well in Australia.

The summer sales don't start here until today (although the bargain hunters
were out like a swarm of fire ants in Sydney) and it is as though Christmas
never happened.  Armies of maintenance men were up ladders, hanging from
ropes and pulleys, and performing other amazing acrobatics to take down the
decorations as though there would be something obscene if they were a minute
longer than the last ring of the cash register on Christmas Eve!

K-Mart was open, as it always is, so I just popped in to browse and to buy
another copy of HP and the Philosopher's Stone (didn't have a paperback copy
at home to read and trying to keep my hardbacks pristine) and I only came
out with a f-e-w extras :>}  Got a bargain big stand-up Santa for my library
though and I just might pop into the city today to see that everyone is
living up to my expectations and doing the right thing! All in the interests
of social observation tho, I won't be buying:>}

In fact, if I want to make my observations valid, I had better finish this
and get there early.  The skies are clear over Canberra today and even the
leaves on the trees are still so here's hoping that those who saved the city
can have a rest and their Christmas turkey today ....

Happy New Year
Barbara Braxton
Teacher Librarian
Palmerston District Primary School

T. 02 6205 7241
F. 02 6205 7242
E. barbara@austarmetro.com.au
W. http://www.palmdps.act.edu.au

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