Author Archives: Ray

Vale Tas (Aug 2008 – Dec 2021)

Christmas Day 2021 started with the usual activity and family gathering, but soon the festive season turned into sadness and tears when Tas, our 13+ year old Labrador fractured his upper leg. He was in great pain initially, but was able to move with difficulty after a while though still clearly in pain. I wasn’t in the mood to continue with the Christmas gathering given how Tas was suffering and decided to get him home to a more comfortable environment, where he could rest at least in some modicum of comfort and familiar surrounds. We gave him some Valium and that allowed him to sleep the night through and, in the morning, I called the emergency number of our local vet. I held off from calling on Christmas Day, but it turns out that the vet was busy all Christmas Day and well into Boxing Day.

Playing in the park - Mirboo North Victoria

Playing in the park – Mirboo North Victoria

We got Tas to the vet in the afternoon and, after a brief check, it was clear that Tas had fractured a bone and x-rays were needed. We feared the worst and when the vet called us with the diagnosis, our fears were confirmed. A tumor had developed in the bone and weakened it, which caused the break, so it was only a matter of time before something like this was going to happen. There were only two options that the vet could give, amputate the leg to stop the spread (if it wasn’t elsewhere already) or put Tas to sleep. We’d already discussed the possibilities for the worse happening and, given that Tas was already suffering hip problems and finding it increasingly difficult to walk, the only kind option was the most difficult to make. He had been so healthy and full of life until now.

Ang & Tas - Mirboo North Victoria

Ang & Tas – Mirboo North Victoria

Tas and Me

Tas and Me

So once again, we had to make that awful and final decision. At least Tas was already under anaesthetic and the pain killer he’d been given had also made things more comfortable for him before the x-rays, so it was a peaceful departure. Anyone who loves dogs understands the impact of losing a lifetime friend. Dogs aren’t here for a long time, but what they contribute is worth many lifetimes. What this brought back to me was the loss of Tas’s sister Jenna a few years ago, also to cancer. The loss struck very hard and it took some time for emotions to settle, but having Tas around helped a lot. Now the house feels so empty and everywhere I look there is evidence and memories of what is no longer.

Jenna & Tas at the Bush Hilton, waiting for the storms to pass - Bentley Plain Victoria

Jenna & Tas at the Bush Hilton, waiting for the storms to pass – Bentley Plain Victoria

Adventure Bound - Bentley Plain Victoria

Adventure Bound – Bentley Plain Victoria

We’ve cleared some things away now, such as bedding, but I don’t feel like wiping away everything that reminds me of Tas in one fell swoop. There’s no rush and it’s not like we need space for the small things that remind us of what was. Tas will be cremated and his remains will join those of Jenna and our previous Labrador Jamie. One day we’ll find a suitable place for the ashes of all three friends. What we do from here, I’m not sure. We’ve had dogs in our life for most of our marriage and there’s something special that they bring to our lives. For the time being though, I’d like a break and take the time to settle before deciding whether to get another and when.

Bush Christmas, everyone enjoys the bush - Gippsland Victoria

Bush Christmas, everyone enjoys the bush – Gippsland Victoria

I think we’ve been blessed in that all of the dogs that we’ve owned have simply been marvellous and well behaved, friendly to all and great companions. My only reservation is that it’s become increasingly difficult to take dogs anywhere camping in Victoria, as I’ve noted before, more than once. Our state and local governments seem to hate dogs, as they impose more and more restriction every year, not just in state parks, but also in local parks. Every year we have to search harder and harder to find bush camping spots where we can take our four-legged family members and it’s never an easy task.That said, having a dog is always worth more than the hassles.

Jorgensons Hut - Donnelly Creek Victoria

Jorgensons Hut – Donnelly Creek Victoria

All I can say is that both Tas and Jenna are sorely missed.

The Generator

Since moving to Mirboo North almost 10 years ago, one extremely annoying thing that happens around six times a year, every year, is the power being disconnected for ‘essential maintenance’ of lines. I have never been able to find out why this is required to be done so often, even after contacting AUSNET the electricity suppliers. You’d think that after 10 years things would have been fixed such they didn’t need constant attention. The power is always off from around 8:00am until around 5:00pm, with a reprieve arriving sometimes at 3:00pm. It’s incredibly frustrating because other areas of the town usually don’t have their electricity disrupted at the same time as they seem to be on a different line. We happen to be the unlucky ones so that when the power needs to be turned off along the Strzelecki Highway, we have the power turned off as well, even though we’re well away from the highway.

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The High Country – Jun 2021

It’s been a pretty ordinary year since our last High Country Cruise in Mar, one that wasn’t really of much note at all due to good tracks being closed. So we were hanging out to do another Cruise before the tracks closed for Winter and especially avoid the Queen’s Birthday weekend. To that end, we decided to make our move the weekend prior and see what we could find. And with the weather being pretty miserable lately, not only very cold but wet as well, I thought maybe we could do things a little differently this time and have a base camp from where we could do day trips. And what better way than to stay in a cabin. To this end, we booked a cabin in Licola, which meant that we didn’t have to get up at sparrow’s fart each morning, we could take our time driving about and have a nice comfortable place to return to each evening. Continue reading

The Forgotten Veranda

While our rear veranda, a project that started in 2016, is still unfinished and requiring something to fix the woeful floor, our forgotten front veranda became in need of far more urgent attention. After returning from our weekend away and venturing onto the veranda, the floor almost gave way in some spots, clearly informing me that it was time to do something about this hidden mess. I was already aware that some of the joists were partly rotten, but it wasn’t until I removed a number of the floor boards that the true extent of the damage became evident. There was no doubt that this was a bigger task than what I could fix on my own, so I enlisted the aid of a builder who had just completed similar work on my neighbour’s house. I’m very glad that I did.

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Leongatha Show And Shine – 2021

This year’s Leongatha Show & Shine was, without a doubt, a massive event. I think everyone who enjoys cars and the like and attends these events, either as a competitor, just to show off their vehicle or as a spectator; have been fed up with all the cancellations and closure of events in 2020 due to the virus. One thing is certain, the place was full and it’s great to see the interest in cars, trucks and motorbikes both old and new. As a motor head myself, these events are truly enjoyable and I especially admire the effort and detail that so many go, not just to restore old vehicles but to keep classics going and in pristine condition as possible. The variety this year was huge and I don’t think I did justice to the event.

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The High Country – Mar 2021

It’s been over a year since we were last able to do a High Country Cruise, all because of COVID and the endless lockdowns and restrictions throughout Melbourne and/or the state. There is no denying that 2020 was an Annus Horribilis, especially for anyone who has been out of work and/or locked down for extended periods of time. Necessary or not, the lockdown and restrictions have caused much suffering. I have less reason to complain, as being out in a rural area we’ve had greater flexibility of movement overall, but when your friends are locked away in Melbourne, there’s not much that you can really do. Additionally, even though we’ve had more movement flexibility, with just about everything closed on a regular basis you might as well be locked inside your home.

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Film Gear

Let me say first off that I’m not a film maker, but I’ve developed a huge interest in film making, video, whatever you want to call it, mainly to record the activities that happen in Gippsland as well as those that I undertake, such as our High Country Cruises. Photography is still one medium that I use, but I’ve increasingly tried to expand that to video. I think I’ve pointed out previously that I was never interested in video in the past and that none of my cameras were really that great for video. All that has changed and things have certainly moved on. I’ve already started to include videos that I’ve posted on YouTube and I thought, in this COVID age and for what it’s worth, to include a section covering YouTube videos that I’ve made about video gear that I use.

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Wattlebirds Are Evil

Wattlebirds have been a long time feature of our backyard and I think we’ve had pretty much the same family, or pair, around since we moved to our country abode. I’ve always thought of them as somewhat timid, nectar eating, birds that prefer to mind their own business as much as possible. How wrong could I be. Wattlebirds are simply evil, spawn of the devil, in the way they have been behaving this last year. And I don’t think it’s anything to do with the virus we’ve experienced since late last year. We have two families as best as I can tell and both are right royal bastards when it comes to the other birds that live and visit our backyard.

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More Backyard Birds

Over the last year, I’ve been giving our backyard birds, those that are meat eaters, a little bit of mince each day just to see how they react. And because we’ve been under COVID lockdown for most of the year, this has become a regular event in the mornings and evenings. The amount of mince that I give them is quite small, no larger than a ping pong ball in size each morning and evening, and this is for four Kookaburras, two Magpies, two Butcher Birds and a Wattlebird, with the occasional Crimson Rosella snaffling a small piece. The birds, naturally, have become quite accustomed to this (though surprisingly quickly) and I now have nearly all of them taking mince from my hand, or when placed very close to me on our veranda balustrade.

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Television Sewerage

People often call today’s television (TV) rubbish, but even rubbish can sometimes be useful, such as recycling for what it’s worth. But the TV that’s presented today is veritable sewerage, at least for us who have to watch it via satellite and especially during these lockdowns. Our TV comes via the north of Australia, Northern Territory and Far North Queensland, as it was the only way to get satellite TV signal. And the reason that we have satellite TV is because we simply can’t get watchable TV via regular means, as we seem to be in a black spot when it come to reception. We still get the regular programs that others get via satellite, but what kills it are the ads that come with the transmissions from the far north.

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