11.12.02

More rain overnight here. Not very much in actual quantity but wonderful, gentle rain. I have not watered anything in my garden except teh pots on the deck for many months. Hopefully the lemon tree had enough to keep it going a while longer. We need follow up rain all over the state still. I am very grateful for what we have had over the past day.

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Here are some wonderful presents from the Ship of Fools: the Magazine of Christian Unrest. When I managed a bookshop, or rather a resource centre, this sort of garbage was known as "holy hardware' or "Jesus junk." These are truly delightful specimens of the genre. The whole site is worth a visit, and I really enjoy thier mystery worhipper section as well.

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10.12.02

As I was thinking about Advent this morning, I realised at least part of the origin of my distaste for early Christmas celebrations. Although my mother attended church only sporadically, we followed the more traditional church calendar. Christmas decorations and trees went up in our house no more than a couple of days before Christmas Day and remained up till Epiphany. I still follow this myself and am irritated by the blaring of carols from early November and the advertising directed at Christmas sales from that time.

I have Orthodox friends who fast before their Christmas. To some, this is something formal, to be circumvented in devious ways. Others however, follow their tradition zealously and use the time as a preparation for the festival. While I do not have this tradition, I do believe that Advent is a wonderful time for preparation for Christmas. A time of consideration of the Incarnation and all that was brought by that, and also a time where I look forward to the future coming of Christ.

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Gremlins in the Sydney Morning Herald. An article reported on a farming family which seemed to recognise the hazards of Australian farming. They had prepared for drought in many ways over the years as they recognised this is part of our climate. They had diversified their operations and this diversification included "harvesting and sewing" for other farmers. "Sewing???" Perhaps the paper meant "sowing?"

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Wonderful rain this morning and much cooler temperatures. While there are still over 80 fires burning in the state, many of them have been contained. In the Sydney bushfires, over 100,000 hectares of bush have been burnt and over 40 houses destroyed. Last year's intense fires saw no houses destroyed. Cost of the fires is well in excess of $100 million. My brother-in-law who has beeen a firefighter for many years, believes that these are the worst he has ever seen in intensity and unpredictability. Some of the houses destroyed belonged to people who were very well prepared for the fires. One was the captain of a local brigade.

My sister's house is now out of danger, there is just nothing left to burn. Only flying embers could do damage now. She and my niece were out there on Saturday to survey what had happened. Firefighters arrived to backburn in the face of a threatened windchange. My niece was up cleaning windblown debris off the roof. The wind picked up and they were under threat again. This time, they werre saved by a dump of water from a helicopter. Niece was drenched, but who cares in the circumstances?

Backburn and control burn? These are both terms I have used in reporting these fires.

A backburn is carried out while a fire is burning. The aim is to burn ahead of the fire front, so that when it arrives, there is nothing to burn. Risky business at the best of times, considering the conditions. Control burning is usually done in the cooler months of the year to reduce the hazards of scrub and leaf litter. These burns are often used as training for brigades. There is a great deal of debate about such burns. Many believe that little good comes from them, while others clamour for a burn in their area. There is evidence on both sides. Certainly, some fires would not be reduced by such burning. I think these lateest probably come into that category. Heavy drought, very high temperatures, exceptionally low humidity and prolonged gale force winds are a combination that spells disaster.

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8.12.02

Somehow, when I tried to post these words with the English version of the hymn, something was muddled. Now I can't get into the post to edit it.The words are courtesy of Cyber Hymnal, a reference site with a lot of information an many hymns. Unfortunately the synthesised music is fairly irritating after a few bars.

Veni, veni Emanuel!
Captivum solve Israel!
Qui gemit in exilio,
Privatus Dei Filio.

Refrain

Gaude, gaude, Emanuel
Nascetur pro te, Israel.

Veni, veni o oriens!
Solare nos adveniens,
Noctis depelle nebulas,
Dirasque noctis tenebras.

Refrain

Veni, veni Adonai!
Qui populo in Sinai
Legem dedisti vertice,
In Maiestate gloriae.

Refrain


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Today's threatened very hot weather has not been as bad as first thought, and some fires are actually contained for the moment. Late Friday afternoon, my brother-in-law was guarding the entrance to Canoelands Road where the fire was particularly savage. This road is long, but is a dead-end and the only way out, is back to the original entrance. Very dangerous in those circumstances for inexperienced people.Some media reps wanted to get to the fire. He would not let them in. "We are the media and can go wherever we want," they told him. "Well, I'm KS and I say you can't go down here. I won't have you endangering yourselves or my men by going down," was the reply. They demanded to speak to Phil Koperberg, the commissioner-in-chief of all firefighters in the state. So K. rang him on his mobile. After some friendly conversation, he was told of he problem. Koperberg spoke to the media, said that if they had been told not to go, that was his order as well because he trusted his friend's judgment. Exit some highly disgruntled media people.

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Last week, the first Sunday in Advent, I posted the words to Lo, He comes with clouds descending at my journal at diary-x. I've since decided to concentrate on this blog, but the archives are readily available there. This week, I offer the words of another wonderful old Advent hymn.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Refrain



Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.



O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.



Refrain

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

Refrain

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Refrain

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Refrain

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

Refrain

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

Refrain

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Refrain


Words: Latin, twelfth century;
trans. John Mason Neale, 1851
Music: Veni Emmanuel

Meter: 88 88 88

And for some of us here, the Latin. Thanks to
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Early Sunday morning. The expected bad fire weather from tomorrow will now arrive today. Hot, about 35 degrees Celsius and strong NW winds which bring very low humidity and the heat. Firefighters were hoping to have had today to do backburning on the southern edges of the fires so that there was no fuel when they turned. This is only very partially accomplished. This wind change will bring my son's house into the danger zone again. Spot fires compound the problem The winds carry burning embers and can start spot fires up to 10 km from the main fire front. Son has everything as well prepared as he can. Garden watered nightly with a comprehensive watering system to keep the ground damp. This helps prevent embers from setting fuel alight. Leaf litter raked up. Bath filled, hoses and buckets ready and suitable clothing. Bag packed with essentials and papers should he need to get out. Sensible clothing at the ready. From a distance, I pray for all concerned.

My sister went back to her house yesterday with a camera. It is still standing, but miraculously so. There were fireys doing a controlled burn on the northern side. The house is flat and very long, about 80'. At the western end is a 5000 gallon cement water tank, right next to the house. Out the back, on southern side, is a large carport joined to the house. On Thursday, the fire burned right to the tank. On Friday afternoon, it came from another direction and reached the carport. Everything is so dry and yet the house was saved. This was when my brother-in-law could see the fire from a couple of kilometres away. He was surrounded by fire wherever he looked at the time, while he supervised the movement of water tankers.

While gum trees are dangerous in fires, it is the litter on the ground which is more of a problem. The fire spreads through burning this and goes up the trees. There are far fewer fires which involve "crowning" or the fire leaping from the top of one tree to another.

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