The great Kangaroo Ground scare

We have had bushfires burning out of control for what feels like weeks. Not here in Warrandyte where I live, but in other parts of the state, and in other states across Australia, so when last Friday dawned hot and dry, with a northerly wind blowing, we all braced for fire.

It was not until Friday afternoon, though, that the announcement I’d been dreading came over the radio – a fast moving grass fire was burning out of control in Kangaroo Ground.

Kangaroo Ground is the next suburb over from us, and when I looked up the precise location of the fire, it was very, very close as the crow flies, especially with a north wind. -insert expletives of choice-

I immediately went into bushfire survival mode. I kicked the Daughter out of the house, locked the pets inside the house, donned my long sleeved coveralls and wound down all the fire-resistant shutters.

Then it was time to start the pumps and get a trickle of water flowing from the sprinklers on the roof. So far so good.

I’ve landscaped the area directly adjacent to the house to be more or less fire-proof, with rockeries, gravel and pebbles instead of plants, but I knew radiant heat could still be a killer so for the next couple of hours I hosed down the garden beds as well.

At some point during this frantic activity the wind changed and began blowing the fire away from us but I did not even notice. I was so hot in my pure cotton, long sleeved, protective coveralls that I probably wouldn’t have noticed if someone had dumped a bucket of iced water over me.

Anyway, I worked it out eventually but kept on watering … just in case. Paranoia is not rational.

By about 8pm it was obvious, even to me, that nothing bad was going to happen so I rang the Daughter and said “It’s safe to come home now!” When she arrived back about three quarters of an hour later, she told me traffic was banked up a long way as the Kangaroo Ground Road was still closed and they weren’t letting Kangaroo Ground residents go home just yet.

Another thing she told me was that when I’d blithely sent her off to safety, half of Warrandyte had had the same idea so everyone got caught in the bottleneck over the bridge.  That was rather sobering, and highlighted something I should have known – leaving early really does mean early, like first thing in the morning instead of at 4pm. Clearly we, and most of Warrandyte, are going to have to rethink that part of the plan.

The rational part of me knows the Daughter would have been better off staying at home with all the protections we have on hand, but my inexperience is a big drawback. All my knowledge is theoretical and I’ve never been up close and personal with a bushfire, or any other kind of fire. I’m prepared to trust my own life to my sprinklers etc, but my daughter’s life? That’s a hard one. Very hard.

Anyway, as my neighbour Geoff said on Friday, “We seem to have dodged the bullet again” so all’s well that ends well. For now. Unfortunately we still have the worst half of summer to go so I’m not going to relax completely until about Easter.

One of the minor consequences of the Great Kangaroo Ground Scare is that my deadline for Vokhtah went up in smoke [excuse the bad-taste pun]. I had hoped to publish exactly on my birthday, but the 12th of January came and went without Vokhtah joining the throngs on Amazon.

I am disappointed, but in retrospect I know I should have begun my run much, much sooner. Bushfire scares aside, I woefully underestimated what I would need to do to actually convert the MS into Kindle format. And then, me being me, I over-estimated my nerdishness. Amazon’s Kindlepreviewer is easy enough to use, but dealing with problems is not so squeazy.

My first attempt at the conversion resulted in a file that was compiled ‘with warnings’. On reading through the output report it seemed that all the potential problems had to do with <i> tags not being closed properly.  So  I’ve been  going through the MS line by line and word by word, checking every instance of italics I find. I’m closing them all manually because I have no way of knowing which italics are actually causing the problem. -sigh-

Another thing slowing me down is my inability to scan for italics without actually reading the text. And of course, the instant I start doing that, I begin to see awkward turns of phrase all over the place. Honestly,  I’ve edited and proofed this damn book so many times, and yet I still find things to improve.  Yes, yes, I know, but I can’t seem to help myself. 😦

So… Apologies to everyone for being off the radar the last few days, and even more heartfelt apologies to those who were expecting Vokhtah to be published on the 12th and were disappointed.

At this point I have my fingers crossed for tomorrow, but I’m not making any more grandiose promises until Amazon tells me I’m good to go.

Hugs to all,

Meeks

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About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

30 responses to “The great Kangaroo Ground scare

  • littlemissobsessivesanatomy

    Am so glaad you are safe…you are a supermom I must say
    ….your post scared me 😦 please be safe…
    Belated happy birthday meeka…
    And do not worry about the book s deadline….eveyone is goin to love it anyway…. 🙂

    Like

    • acflory

      Thanks Little. 🙂 I have to say I owe you an apology for my ignorance. When you first told me about that girl who was raped in the bus I thought it was horrible but… I had no idea just how horrible or how common a danger this is for women in India. 😦 All I can say is that I now understand much, much better why you were so very upset. -hugs-

      Like

  • Ilil Arbel

    Andrea, the beauty of publishing with Kindle is that you don’t have a deadline. Trying to create one is like trying to be your own awful boss. No point. If the book is published in February, it simply does not matter — it’s a wonderful book and I expect it to be a success even if it’s not on your birthday!
    The fire issue is getting more and more scary. Plenty that I don’t understand, it’s a reality which is as alien to me as Vokhtah… just go on keeping us posted.

    Like

    • acflory

      You’re right Ilil, it was kind of silly of me, and the really ironic thing is that I accomplished more faster once I relaxed and stopped stressing. I now have the .mobi file ready to go and after dinner I’ll work out how to upload it. That may be another major challenge as there aren’t any nice, neat sign posts on Amazon.

      I’ll definitely keep you posted on the bushfire situation. I just hope I don’t end up boring everyone to death with it! -hugs-

      Like

      • Ilil Arbel

        You will never bore me, or anyone else on this thread, by letting us know how things are going. It’s very scary for us spoiled city people to think of you in this situation… so please let us know. I am sure everyone here agrees with me. Australia more and more sounds like Vokhtah to me… And speaking of which, the first book on Kindle cost me blood. They are not easy or user friendly. But you are a computer geek so I trust you will do just fine in the end. I keep forgetting to ask — are you also going to do it in a print book? The cover is so amazing… I was most impressed.

        Like

        • acflory

          -hugs- Thanks Ilil! And yes, I will be bringing out a print version via Createspace. I knew trying to do both at once would give me heart failure so I decided to test the water with just the ebook.

          One little added extra I plan on adding to the print version is a pictorial appendix featuring the Bestiary. Unfortunately the pics just didn’t look great in shades of grey on the Kindle. 😦

          Like

  • Honie Briggs

    Birthday wishes to you. We had a b’day celebration this week too, for my loyal follower. I’m looking forward to your book once the formatting kinks are worked out. I’ve yet to complete the editing on mine.

    We were in Colorado last year during an outbreak of wildfires all over the state. One just an hour south of Denver where we were. The air was thick, no rain in the forecast and the scorching temps, uncharacteristic of Colorado, made it seem as though we were still in Texas. Evacuations and shelters were in place as firefighters worked round the clock.

    It is a terrifying experience to lose entire neighborhoods as they did in CO. I’m glad the wind changed direction, and that you have a plan in place.

    Like

    • acflory

      Thanks Honie. 🙂

      Yes, I remember the Colorado bushfires because an online friend lives in Colorado, not far from where the fires were. He didn’t have to evacuate but it was close.

      It’s odd, and rather scary how extreme conditions in the northern hemisphere are mirrored in southern hemisphere half a year later.

      Like

  • kmtreat

    Just glad you are all alright. Happy late birthday!

    Like

  • Candy Korman

    I read this post with my heart in my mouth. Just the idea of a bushfire is terrifying.

    Glad you are well and just remember I managed to make my “just before Halloween” deadline for e-publishing POED and then a super-storm/hurricane/hide tide/full moon, aka SANDY hit the east coast of the U.S. and the power station went down within minutes of POED going live.

    I couldn’t promote the launch… LOL the best laid plans of mice and men… (and women too).

    Publish it when the job is done. That’s a much better date than any other!

    Like

    • acflory

      Thanks so much Candy. Your comments totally put the situation into context. I’m usually a go-with-the-flow type person but yeah, I did kind of get a bee in my bonnet about this one.

      You’ll be pleased to know my attitude /has/ changed and I’m much more relaxed today. 🙂

      Like

  • josh

    Having never lived in an area prone to wildfires, I found this a fascinating read. I’m glad everything worked out OK and good on you for being prepared!

    Like

  • jenniferscoullar

    My birthday is the 18th January. Maybe you can publish for mine instead! I’m off to look at your cover next. Glad the fires went the other way. My 17 yo son is ‘almost’ qualified as a CFA firefighter. One test to go. I’m kind of hoping he won’t pass it til next fire season …

    Like

    • acflory

      I love that there are so many Capricorns amongst my friends! And yes, trying my hardest. 🙂

      I understand how you feel about your son starting with the CFA but after Friday I’m starting to think that we ALL should do that training, even if we don’t actually become CFA firefighters. It would certainly bring the reality of bushfires home to all of us living in fire prone areas.

      Like

  • lorddavidprosser

    Needless to say I’m delighted you didn’t actually have to face a bushfire. My blood pressure can start to come down again. I’m disappointed though that the threat coincided with your birthday and the great launching of Voktah. Yes, perhaps you should have started earlier but who knew what was going to happen. Maybe you can understand my reluctance to try with Oscar’s Blog.
    All I can say Sweetie is you’re safe, you’re working to get it right and PULL YOUR FINGER OUT! I expect it out for my birthday or I won’t eat a piece of cake on your behalf.
    Sending Huge Hugs

    Like

  • metan

    Gawds, you mean you took your responsibilities as an adult before your desire to get the Book on Amazon? What’s wrong with you woman?!

    I am happy to wait until the book is up to your standards, well, maybe not happy but ok with it 😉 Good luck with the proofreading!

    Hopefully the fire was a good warning for those around you who were not as well prepared. Sounds like you have got it sorted and I bet your plants were pleased with the extra watering. The daughter is a hard one though, stuck in dangerous traffic, or at home and unable to get out? A hard choice to make. 😦

    I think that everyday closer to Easter is one less burning day, Easter is always the start of the rains and safer times…..

    Like

    • acflory

      LMAO! You have such a nice way of turning things on their head. 😀

      As for my fire plan, yes, I’m going to talk to the Daughter about this. I know having the fire so close scared her, but I think getting stuck in the traffic probably scared her more. A wakeup call for both of us. Roll on Easter!

      Like

      • metan

        It is very unfair when real life gets in the way of what we really want to do, isn’t it! 😉

        I think the problem with traffic (and one road access) like that is that all it takes is one person to panic and cause an accident and the road may be entirely blocked.

        When the 2009 fires were on I remember sitting at the Dorset Rd-Burwood Hwy lights on my way to visit mum and dad and seeing the traffic streaming down from the Dandenongs. They were miles from the fire by them but many people were in their loaded up cars and still running the red light and speeding. It was a real worry to see people behaving like that.

        I guess you and the Daughter have to make up your own minds as to what seems safest for you both each time. I agree, bring on Easter!

        Like

        • acflory

          I really wish the authorities would bite the bullet and /manage/ evacuations properly instead of pretending that human beings will do the right thing and be sensible. It’s just not gonna happen. 😦

          Like

          • metan

            People just panic in an unknown situation and nobody really knows what they would do unless they were there.
            Maybe some types of equipment could be subsidized too. To fully deck out your home in safety measures is beyond the reach of most of us but if it was more affordable….? Perhaps even the insurance companies could set up some sort of scheme?

            Like

          • acflory

            I saw about that town near the Warranbungles [sp?] in NSW, the one that’s just been ravaged by a bushfire, on TV tonight. If this keeps up the insurance companies may have to do something in self-defence. 😦 Of course they’ll get caught up in bureaucratic red tape the minute they do.

            The cheapest and most cost effective defence for houses is landscaping and fire resistant shutters but for people’s lives it has to be bunkers. The only problem with bunkers is that the only one I’ve seen that has actually been ‘approved’ is not what I would call a good design. It’s built into a slope – which is good – but the face with the door in it is at an angle like / so if a tree drops on it you won’t be able to push the door open. What in hell were the standards people thinking????

            Anyway, I’d better not get started or I might blow a gasket. 😉

            Like

          • metan

            After the 2009 fires we got a flyer in the mailbox advertising a bunker. It had a door that was sunken and couldn’t be blocked. If only I had the money I would have one tomorrow! I know a lot of people around here got new septic tanks installed after the fires. Not connected, just buried…..

            I think that misting sprinklers around the eaves and on the roof are good too, surely it couldn’t be too hard to subsidize that kind of thing?

            Like

          • acflory

            I’ve got those those sprinklers and they’re not cheap, partly because the flow has to be calculated very carefully. 😦

            Are you saying what I think you’re saying about the septic um tanks? [I have this hysterical giggle trying to come out]. Up shit creek without a paddle? Hmmmm….

            Like

          • metan

            I think the bunkers were harder to sort out than the septic tanks so they were a quick fix. I think I would opt for the plumbed out, not in, version. If I was in a situation where I would need to be in there I would want there to be sufficient drainage! 😉

            Like

          • acflory

            lmao – Most definitely! I’m sure it’d be preferable to becoming a shishkabob but still…

            Like

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