Tuesday, September 2, 2014

TELLING IT ON TUESDAY (Part 30...1970s and into the 1980s)

Do you know, I'd sort of forgotten it was Tuesday.   A few mild medical hiccoughs of late that have thrown me off course a little.   Phil has developed a type of dermatitis in unusual places (his right arm and on each side of his waist) so cream to be applied 3 times a day.  He also discovered when he visited his eye specialist yesterday that his eye pressure has suddenly, for no known reason, shot up to 20 so off with the old eye drops and now two different eye drops with one of them twice a day (morning and night)so more to concentrate on there as well.  The glaucoma in his right eye has been under good control for some time and I am concerned that the op on the cataract in that eye may have caused the increase in pressure.  Not sure that is even possible but just a thought.  His left eye has always been quite normal and as his specialist had laryngitis yesterday he didn't find out as much as he would have liked.

 I had a recall to my GP who is concerned about cramping muscles all over my body (even my hands at times) and had various blood tests done to try and find why.  Nothing very startling resulted although low magnesium so increased to two tabs a day and no more statins for a month.   The other concern he has is with regard to my calcium readings.  He has decided to hand that problem over to my endocrinologist that I will see on 17th so that visit will be interesting.  I have no regrets about growing older and of course then have to put up with the "little things that try us".

To make it easier for me so I don't have to think too much I decided to dedicate this post to the story of wayward cyclone named Alby that decided to pay a visit to the southwest of Western Australia while I was still working for the Forests Department.  Hopefully, by next week, my mind may have returned to normal (whatever that is) and I can return to 'our story'.

 In part 29 I told of how Phil and I both became State Government Public Servants.  Phil did his job with a will but not entirely to his enjoyment although he accepted any challenges he was set and felt compassion for many of Homeswest's customers who tried hard often without much reward.  There were, of course, always those who wanted everything for nothing and they were difficult to deal with.  I was glad when he eventually retired as I felt the job wasn't doing him any good and his health was suffering.  We are maybe financially poorer because of his retirement but I wouldn't have it any other way as I still have him beside me and without him I would be of little use.

I, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed 12 years with the Forests Department, first the research branch and then the Extension Branch which not only dealt with forestry itself but recreation in the forests.  I worked with some wonderful professional officers and couldn't really fault any of them and I missed them so much when I had to leave my job so suddenly after that stupid truck collided with my little Escort.  If only I could have returned after a short break but after nearly twelve months I was still having treatment for my neck so it was not meant to be.  It was the best job I ever had and the regrets have remained with me over the intervening years.  I am still so thankful that I have since had contact with nearly all the wonderful people I worked with.

While still at Research Branch I also did some work for the Fire Control section when every two or three weeks I would arrive at work at 7.15 a.m. to set to work to radio to various divisions the daily weather forecast which I first had obtained from the weather bureau.   Weather is of course so important when there are large forests to care for and prescribed burning to be done to decrease the amount of litter in the forests etc etc.  I thoroughly enjoyed doing the weather forecasts as not only did I feel it was an essential part of our work but also at the same time kept in touch with various officers in the other divisions throughout out state.

My ability to use the two way radio stood me in good stead as I was able to help out when Cyclone Alby ventured right down the Western Australia coast in 1978.  I will devote this post to the story of that cyclone that just kept on keeping on and on and on:

Severe Tropical Cyclone Alby was regarded as the most devastating tropical cyclone to impact southwestern Western Australia on record.  Forming out of an area of low pressure on 27th March, 1978, Alby steadily developed as it tracked southwestward, parallel to the Western Australia coast.

Between 1st and 2nd April. the storm quickly intensified and attained its peak intensity as a Category 5 cyclone on the Australian cyclone intensity scale.  After turning to the southeast, the storm underwent an extratropical transition as it neared Cape Leeuwin (the southwestern ernmost tip of W.A.).  The storm brushed the Cape on 4th April, bringing hurricane-force winds before rapidly losing its identity the following day.

In Western Australia, the combination of Alby's fast movement and hurricane-force winds caused widespread damage.  Along the coast, large swells flooded low-lying area and numerous homes lost their roofs from high winds.  Further inland, bushfires were worsened by the storm as it brought little rain, generally less than 20mm (0.79 in) along the coast.  Five fatalities are directly attributed to Alby while two more resulted from the fires.  The resulting damage was extensive, with monetary losses reaching A$50 million ($45 million USD).  Lightning strikes in our southwest caused over 90 bushfires and overall roughly 114,000 hectares (281,700 acres) was burnt.

I remember one of the chaps from one of the southern regions reporting he'd driven into the forest to check and found an area about as large as a football field where the trees were laid flat as if driven over by a giant bulldozer.  The surrounding forest was all still intact.   There were many equally fascinating stories told about effects of cyclone Alby, most of them about some kind of destruction or other.

I remember driving over a bridge on my way home that evening and my car was constantly bombarded with gravel from the side of the road.  It was quite frightening to be driving home in those conditions and when I arrived home I discovered our back fence as well as two of our smaller trees had been blown over by the force of the wind.  As you can imagine, damage around the metropolitan area was far worse than that and for months afterwards you could see the effect it had on the trees.  One side of them was much barer than the other and it took quite a while for them to recover and look normal again.

I went back to work the next morning to once again help as much as I could in Fire Control and it was amazing to see quite senior officers of the Department arrive back looking so weary and blackened by the smoke from the fires.  It was a case of all experienced foresters, regardless of their rank, doing their all to combat the damage caused by this cyclone.  We have always held our breaths over the years when news of a cyclone heading southwards is heard and are ever so thankful when, as is normal, they lose their intensity before reaching too far south.  I think the experience with Alby made us realise what people in the northern areas of Australia go through quite regularly during the cyclone season.

If you are at all interested in finding out more about Alby and the effect he had on our area you will find plenty of information on Wikipedia and other sources.  I didn't want to bore you with all the details but rather just mention the fact of the very tiny part I played at work which, compared with others, was quite infinitesimal.

I do hope you are all enjoying a reasonable week without any cyclones in your life.


  1. Nope..no cyclones here. Hope your health issues resolve soon.

    1. Glad you are not suffering cyclone. Is very windy in Perth right now. Lots of damage to places in some suburbs last night. I think we are on top of the health problems now. One can only hope.

  2. Hari OM
    The body does go off in its own direction whilst our heads wander else where 'he na'?!!

    Having experienced my fair share of cyclones I could feel every bit of this as you told the tale...Nature keeps reminding us who the real boss is... YAM xx

    1. Nature controls so much of our lives...both our bodies and the elements and not always for the best. xx

  3. I hope Phil's and your medical cyclones leave you soon - without damage.

    1. Thanks EC....forgive me for my tardiness but just not in the mood for writing over the past few days. Need to get my thoughts together for a while. I think we are going to survive, at least for a while.

  4. I'm echoing what Elephant's Child said. Hope you both feel better soon. I hope Phil's eyesight is okay and it does sound as if magnesium will help with your muscles, it is listed in my Natural Health Book as an aid to muscle relaxation. One of the best sources of magnesium is ham.
    In the early 70s I didn't take much notice of cyclones, they were what happened in America, not out here, I thought, and I was busy with a small baby. Then cyclone Tracey hit Darwin in 1974 and K had relatives up there, so I learned more than I ever wanted to know about cyclones. We were living in Brisbane at the time, right behind the Army base and some people were airlifted to safety and housed in tents on the sports ovals; I remember handing in a lot of outgrown baby clothes and toys for the little kids that came in.

    1. Thanks River for your good wishes. These silly cramps happen mostly when I'm in bed. We do eat ham sandwiches quite a lot although we are told ham is not good for us.
      Having lived through Alby I cannot imagine what it must have been like in Darwin nor in other northern Australian towns over the years. Cyclones etc are terrifying and here in Oz we seem to be suffering more tornadoes than ever before which is a bit scary.

  5. Eye problems (Phil) and cramps (you) are no fun Mimsie, I hope it will all be cleared up very quickly.
    I'm no stranger to cyclones either, Althea hit Townsville in the early 70's and she was angry.
    I can only image how interesting and possibly even exciting your years with the Forest Dept would have been mimsie. A lot of changes would have been seen.
    Take care dear girl.

    1. Thank you so much Rose for your kind words.
      Cyclones, hurricanes, tornadoes and the rest of nature's tantrums are something to be avoided when possible.
      Phil's eyes seem to be responding well to the new drops and I'm hoping these silly cramps will eventually ease.
      I truly loved my work with the then Forests Department and was devastated when I could no longer go on with my job. I have often cursed that silly young truck driver that rear ended my car and forcing me into early retirement. xx

  6. The aches and pains and worries that aging brings on us all has become a time consuming focus. I recall the long line of my mom's medications. Now I have my own.

    Being in California with the cold Pacific only 20 miles away, we haven't seen a tropical storm in decades. There is a promise that a hurricane off the Mexico Baja may send us some rain. Our forests need it as well.

    take care.

    1. Thanks Susan and I know what you mean about increased medications. I often wonder why I don't rattle when I move!
      It is could you are not in the storm area and nor are we as far as cyclones are concerned, apart from Alby.
      Like you we in Perth are always in need of rain and welcome it wholeheartedly when it arrives.

  7. Hope you're doing well my friend! Cyclones are scary, we get a few up here in Central Qld, everyone goes bananas buying up big at the shops "just in case"! x

  8. Hi there and thanks for popping by.
    I am just thankful that cyclones in southern W.A. are so are. Alby was pretty frightening so they can stay north for mine.
    We actually had no real warning that Alby would continue his downward path as it just doesn't happen so no preparations.