Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Percy - and Australia




Let me introduce Sir Percival...Percy for short. He isn't our puppy. He belongs to Marian Misters and JD Singh, of Sleuth of Baker Street.
They recently lost their beloved cat Paddington - and Marian decided it was time for a hypo-allegenic dog...(JD is allergic).
Voila! Percy - a Labradoodle. Now, as you know, we have Golden Retrievers, and they are pretty darn adorable as puppies but I have to admit, I think Percy takes the prize.
Sleuth of Baker Street, for people who don't know, is the largest and most influential mystery bookstore in Canada, and one of the biggest in the world. Big not necessarily in square footage - but certainly in terms of influence. It's also a beautiful store. It's in Toronto...and you might drop by if you get a chance...pick up some great books (lots of amazing Canadian crime writers like Giles Blunt, Barbara Fradkin, Anthony Bidulka,Linda Richards, Rick Blechta, Linwood Barclay, Mary Jane Maffini and of course the great Maureen Jennings - to name just a few!!!)
Now - onto other news. I received an email from another Australian - It's from Elaine...here's what she wrote about the wildfires...
I haven’t sat at my computer much the last few days as I’ve been glued to the TV watching the horrific events that have hit our state. I have just read your last few blogs & thought you might like to hear things from my perspective as everyone here has been affected in some way. I live in a southern Melbourne suburb so am not in danger from the bushfires personally but know people who live in the devastated areas & thank God they are all safe & so far their houses unharmed. One of my daughters who lives in Sydney has a home in Buxton (near Marysville) that is rented out & although her tenants are safe she doesn’t know the fate of the house as no one is allowed back into the area as yet. However her estate agent who looks after the property & his wife are believed to have perished in the fires at Marysville. My youngest son who is working overseas has a property in the north west which so far is safe but things can change very rapidly. My eldest son lives in an outer eastern suburb in a semi-rural area & if the fires keep spreading west his property could be in danger so we are all rather anxious right now.

One of your other readers mentioned the Black Friday events of 1939, well I have personal experience of that, was 4 at the time & don’t remember much about it but grew up hearing all the horrific tales of that terrible day. We were staying in the hills east of Melbourne when the fires hit & had to be evacuated by a furniture van. I’ve also been down at Anglesea (on the surf coast) when fires have gone through with 5 young children including a baby & no car & getting ready to evacuate to the golf course which was the only clear area when fortunately the winds changed direction. My husband & eldest daughter had driven up to Melbourne for the day & the fires jumped the Geelong Highway & people who got out of their cars perished. I didn’t know until they arrived back whether they were safe or not. Fires are something we have to live with in this state but it is very hard to cope when you hear of so many lives being lost, let alone animals & property destroyed.

We are overwhelmed by the support coming from all over the world including manpower, money, goods, equipment & prayers. Some people in Queensland who have suffered floods have donated their government relief cheques to our bushfire appeal & friends in the UK have donated a week’s pension payment –such generosity! The worst part is that some of the fires may have been deliberately lit & to think there are such monsters out there is very hard to live with. Our retiring Chief Police Commissioner is heading up the Phoenix (what a great name!) Task Force to try to find out if the fires were deliberately lit & bring the culprits to justice. The army has stepped in & set up tent cities for the 5000 or so who are homeless, a mammoth task but everyone is helping out in their own way.

It is wonderful to know that your thoughts & prayers are with us, regards from Elaine
I wrote back a personal message - but ended by asking if there was a specific fund she would suggest donating to. Michael and I decided we want to do more than give books - though we'll do that too. I haven't heard back, but when I do I will let you know.
Interestingly, this dove-tails with a wonderful, thoughtful, and timely comment on yesterday's post by Humble Pie - about perhaps using this blog to raise money for a cause. He mentions a blog I'm not famoliar with - Knitters without Borders, who have a fund with Medecine sans Frontieres.
I think this is a wonderful idea, and would love to pursue it with you.
Now, Hum mentioned libraries because they are close to my heart. And possibily finding a fund that helps libraries and kids and literacy in Third World Countries. I would be happy to go along with that.
My suggestion - very preliminary, having given it almost no thought in terms of using the blog community to raise money - is that two fund raisers would appeal to me even more.
One would be something to do with animals - either straight to the SPCA or Humane Society. or a fund specifically to help animals in crises - like the wildfires, or hurricanes, or wars. Or to fund anti-puppy mill operations. Something like that.
The other thing would be to leave some leeway so that we could respond to specific 'people' crises. Like the Australia wildfires, or a particularily devestating hurricane. Though this might be better done through the Red Cross.
What do people think? As Hum says, with an initiative like this it would be important that people could easily give as little as they like...five dollars, etc. So there would be no pressure to give constantly or more than you could afford.
It would also be fun if, like the Knitters without Borders we could somehow keep track, not of individual donations, but the over all amount. Apparently the Knitters have raised, over the course of years, about half a million dollars. Wouldn"t that be something?
Great idea, Hum. In the meantime, I will let you know about a fund for Australian wildfire relief, as soon as I hear of one.

11 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Louise,
Knitters Without Borders is shepherded by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I have referred to her blog in a couple of previous comments. What a lady! More than half a million dollars have been donated so far.

hilary said...

I'm definitely for a fund to help animals, with flexibility to help people. Sign me up whenever there's an "up" to sign to!

Hilary

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Thanks...will check it out- perhaps she can give us some tips.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Hilary,

You're wonderful! we'll work on it - perhaps try to find someone suited to the task to fashion something - and see if the world-wide reach of this blog might be able to help others.

Wouldn't that be something.

humble.pie said...

elizabeth's right ... knitters without etc is "shepherded" by stephanie on her blog yarnharlot.ca but it's not a separate blog of its own. instead stephanie runs it with a few small, unobtrusive, graceful mentions right within yarnharlot.

what i gather is that harlot's readers send contributions directly to medecins sans frontières and such contributions are flagged as belonging to a sub-fund called knitters-sans-frontières. it's MSF that collects, banks & uses the funds, and also they keep the KSF tally.

i mention this because it seems only fair that all the administrative/financial work should be out of a blog goddess's hands, and should be entirely the responsibility of the charitable organization.

ottomh. perhaps we're a bit immersed in disaster relief these days, but i think choice of a disaster relief program would immediately introduce a political element that's perhaps foreign to this board. for example, why australia and why not gaza? and bang, we're into fiery red-hot politics just like the rest of the world. what's hauntingly appealing about louise's blog is the surprised by joy quality, the halting but unshakeable stepping towards goodness. so i think we'd have to find an apolitical cause with universal appeal.

ps the word verifications on louise's blog are always very funny. this one is ABLEP. ah, yes, ahm blepping today ...

Anonymous said...

One positive note for the wildlife in Australia is on the following site: [url=http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,27574,25038852-2862,00.html] http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,27574,25038852-2862 ,00.html[/url]

I haven't posted a URL in a comment before so I'm not sure if it will come through but it's so nice to see a positive story.

I do like the idea of having a direct link to sites that can help.

Karen

Erica Spinks said...

Louise,
Thank you for your kind words about the terrible bushfires that have wreaked disaster in Victoria. I live a thousand miles away in Sydney, but we are in tears every night as we hear the latest news.

You and your readers may like to donate to help the victims. The Australian Red Cross is the best place to donate - their website is www.redcross.org.au

I have recently discovered your novels and am currently immersed in The Cruellest Month. Thank you for writing such absorbing stories with such wonderful characters.
Erica Spinks in Australia

Cece said...

Most large charitable foundations accept gifts "in honor" or "in memoriam" and keep track of those in order to send acknowledgements. For instance, whenever a friend loses a dear pet we send a donation to the Humane Society, and the Society notifes the pet's owner. So I think the logistics could be fairly simple and Louise-time friendly. I'm all for finding a fund that brings literacy to the world, and one that helps animals in areas of crisis. We support those causes locally and would be interested in doing it globally. Maybe we could BUILD a library!
A fund we can all support and watch grow is an exciting idea- but the more important benefit of this suggestion is that it will encourage people to share their resources-whether it is money, or expertise, or simply time. It is all too easy to find someone who is in need-sometimes just around the corner.

Bobbie said...

Louise, and everyone. Such caring, and such a sad time for the ones there...both human and animal. Widespread fire is so awfully devastating, in so many ways.

I agree, rather than possibly cause a hot button political thing...why not do as some have done here, give ideas of where to donate if they want, and Louise can keep 'urging' us not to forget, without pushing us to donate to a specific cause. Choice is wonderful, and we'll each find a way to donate. And of course there is nothing at all wrong about saying which one is our own choice, or how to donate; or a person can just stay quiet and find a way to do it...but it's touching hearts around the world, for sure, and hopefully we can find a way to help. Books and/or libraries are a great thing amongst us readers, animals are always a wonderful choice, and I've been in horrible flooding where The Red Cross showed they are 'stayers' and can do great things, we even had an animal Red Cross for displaced pet animals fleeing the waters. And devastation like this fire stays around a long time, one dollar here and one dollar there, over time, or after it's known what to do that can help later, one step at a time, little by little, no need to be a millionaire. But yes, let's help if we can, where it touches our hearts. We are caring people.

changing subject--Louise, thank you for the photo of Percy!! I know J.D.Singh from his wonderful Sleuth of Baker Street bookseller and book talking abilities at Magna cum Murder conference in Muncie Indiana, always find way too many to buy and always enjoy every one. :-) I have never heard of a Labradoodle, but now I've seen him! Thanks for the photos.
:-)

Please let us know how we can help others, we are not a charity organization but we do care so much, so please keep us aware and informed about Australia. And if Louise wants to do something specific and tell us, then maybe we can send something too, and say in Louise's name, or something like that...just an idea...I obviously have no clue how to do this, but am paying attention, and will keep reading here. Thanks to those who are sharing this with us, and thanks to Louise for the blog.

Bobbie

Louise Penny Author said...

Hello all,

I don't often 'reply all' - prefering to be more personal, but there are quite a few posts and do want to chat about this idea of giving.

Let me do a little noodling around re: helping build a library where needed and animal rescue and I'll post a suggestions, soon I hope.

you are all so amazing and I feel privileged to have you join me on this journey. Totally agree about not making it political, at least on the permanent fund.

In the meantime Michael and I plan to donate to the Australian Red Cross - and to find a fund that is helping those wildlife sanctuaries tend the hurt and displaced animals.

I am so greateful to all of you for leaping on, giving it your thought... and we have plenty of time together...time to get it right and have all of us feel good about it.

If you have any suggestions re:literacy/library relief and animal rescue, please let me know and I'll explore them.

And Hum, I've always suspected you were a blep.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Karen,

Thanks for your positive note! So important...and thank you for posting. It is very much appreciated.

And Erica,

How movingly you write about what's happening. It must be horrible to watch. thank you for telling us about it.

Rain, cool temps, calm winds my new mantra - replacing temporarily, croissants, gummi bears, liposuction