December 23rdAustralia just clicked over the 20% mark, as far as electricity generated from renewables. Hopefully that will continue to climb. You never know with a dinosaur government like Morrisons who still want to put a lump of coal under all our christmas trees. Saying that, nothing will stop renewables from creating even more of our electricity. Coal after all is a FINITE item. Even the blindest Liberal voter must surely understand that.
I'm on the phone to Netspace again around the email situation. I think they were a much better company before they got bought out by iiNet. I am remaining patient while they attempt to fix this problem.
The Lonely Planet book for Morocco arrives today. It's certainly packed with information. !
December 24thUp at 5.00 am and getting ready to go to the 'Gong. As always, the night before we travel, neither of us has had any sleep. I wake before the alarm and sneak about the house trying not to disturb Mark so he can catch a few more minutes in bed. Banshee gives me one of her, "I'm not getting up, are you nuts?" looks. So I sneak her some breakfast in bed.
Our Private Driver is right on time, they always are and we depart at 6.00. Wave goodbye to our security mate who is looking after both the house and Miss Banshee. It's good as she really likes him.
We arrive at the airport in record time and straight to the frequent flyer lounge. The usual story, we eat, we drink, I have a shower. Thrilled they now have seaweed and grapefruit skin moisturiser in the showers. No longer a computer at the FF , a world of boring phones, so that sucks. We find a nice quiet area and avoid the tap tappers. Our flight is slightly delayed, it always makes Mark more stressy, these days I just roll with it, very little we can do, and they try to make up the lost time.
The hire car is really good this time, think they upgraded the hell out of us , and I'm a bit thankful to have something decent size with 4WD capability, as some of the areas we are driving through today are bushfire affected. We are only 20kms out of Sydney and the smoke is everywhere. As we get closer to Marks Dads place it's really thick smoke. It does rain for about 45 seconds and our car windscreen is covered is black slimy ash. It takes extra time but we arrive at his Dads home. Excited as Kerri makes a really delicious lunch for us, just what we both need. After this nice catch up and break we are soon back on the road, heading towards the mountain pass that will take us to Wollongong. We soon realise just how full on the fires are, the road is covered in smoke for about a hundred kms- it's like the worst fog that hangs over Kalorama but times it by ten. Several times we have to stop the car, livestock wanders out onto the road and the Police are stopping many cars and telling them to stay at Roberston. The Giant Potato has disappeared under the smoke and even with the vents closed smoke is creeping into the car. It's creepy, you can hear cattle mooing in the foggy fields but not see them and it's meant to be a bright sunny day. It must be very confusing for animals. I keep my eyes open for Kangaroos as a few have jumped in front of the car, or were thinking about it. The last thing i want to do is kill an animal on the way home for Christmas.
We arrive safely, drop Mark off and I pick my cousin up to take him to my Mums. Most of our family are already in attendance, and as always it's great to see them. My cousins cop some stirring when i give them "grow your own woman" tablets, those bachelor boys. We all have a laugh. It's a really nice night, Mum is looking good this year. Lots of talk about the bushfires, our family has fought many of them over several decades so respect, fear and hatred of them. Some cousins have gone to Moruya again which is a bit crazy considering the amount of fires down that way. As i fall asleep I swear i can hear the sound of reindeers walking on Mums roof. Maybe the guy in red is sneaking about.
December 25thMum answers the phone and it's Sis. I hear her say "Peter is still in bed" so i jump up, don't want to be known as that lazy lay about son!!!!!!
My first bit of news for the day is that Gus the cat enters the Sydney Nth beaches DOG swim race and does really well, beating most of the 70 dogs! I bet Banshee would of done well in this race as she loves water and could swim from avery early age. That started my day with a smile.
I help Mum with preparation for Christmas lunch, and get most of it done by the time Sis and MIM arrive. Presents everywhere, my family has no clue about the word subtle , and stuff it I love it. Maddison is like a whirlwind opening presents , next year i'm giving her 100 empty cardboard boxes, just so she can have fun unwrapping therm. Amazing presents, my sister loved her surprise gift of the Ancestry DNA pack. MIM is happy in Bowie land and decides her glitter eye make up kit would be perfect to make us all into Ziggy stardust...the scary spiky wig makes us all look like some strange bogans with too much make up on.
This year we all pose for the family portrait in the animal masks , MIM decides to steal my lion mask so I am a gorilla! We all look absolutely ridiculous. Jennifers husband says " you guys certainly are into Christmas". Oh yeah.
Despite Mum almost being blind she makes an exceptional lunch, an incredible Christmas pudding, it was HUGE , and tasted perfect. very proud of her.
The usual afternoon stuff, visit the graves, drop relatives home, and tidy up after lunch. I am an exhausted 'good son'.
I take Miss MIM to pick Mark up at his Uncles, which is one of the hardest houses we have ever had to find. But after 3 attempts we succeed . MIM is still christmas hyper but charms them all, despite refusing to wear shoes (she IS like her uncle in that way) . We miss Marks beautiful Mum so fucking much (she'd kill me for swearing) but we deal with it in all the ways that we can. Nice to see his Uncle again and we depart and steal Mark away to my Mums house. She loves Marky like a son and just wants to cuddle him. MIM helps him unwrap his presents , we all want to know where this child finds all this energy. I sit her down and read her Bowie book to her , a nice hallmark moment. MIms Ziggy Stardust workshop continues , I wonder if we will be boarding the plane home with the Bowie lightening bolt still on our faces.
I drop Marky off and others and wave goodbye to MIM and Sis. Just Mum and myself so we chat and have mini pig outs on the massive amount of leftovers. We thankfully waste so little. Several amazing trifles that Mum made are probably not meant to be "dinner" but they a tasted great. Mum finally crashed and I can't sleep so watch for the zillionth time the "Christmas Vacation" movie. I keep watching the clock waiting till I have to rise and pick Marky up to head to the airport.
December 26thHappy 15th Birthday Banshee. Such an old girl now, but you know her fur is still lush and she mostly behaves like a much younger kittty cat. Nice to celebrate another year with this little beloved freak.
It was an early start today , up at 5.00 and drive and pick Mark up. We can smell smoke in the air, so hoping that there are no fires on the road from Wollongong to the airport.
We arrive safely, a few minor issues with the hire car people and that is ironed out. At Christmas they seem to rush all their processing and forget to do things, and then try to blame the renter. Confrontation is never a nice way to start ones journey. We win so I think they realised they stuffed up.
The airport isn't all that busy. I'm happy as they have the latest copy of Junction magazine available for free and it has Shepard Fairey on the front, which is very cool.
I like the shot of Kylie Minogue that is on the front of the newspaper, looking very cute for her age. She's the main face behind the new Aussie tourism advert. What an old spunk she's become. *GRIN*. No one says spunk anymore, maybe it's the new word for 2002- NO!
The flight is ok, I spend most of it editing Christmas photos of the family. So many good ones this year.
We arrive Melbourne on time and my mobile is in a bad mood. Mark finds a pay phone and the credit card section is broken and I have no change. I need to call our private driver to tell them we have arrived. Just as I get a case of the "it's way too early for this shit" expression on my face. A little message rolls across the face of the phone. Calls are FREE today and till new years eve , a gift from Telstra. How cool is that! I give our driver a call and yes it works. Thanks Telstra, what a nice idea.
The drive back is great, I watch the Mountains approach and I smile. Our fabulous driver lets me call into Woolworths at Kilsyth to quickly grab some groceries. My timing is perfect, what to get Banshee on her birthday. A blinking red light gives me the perfect gift- can you believe it, kids blow up swimming pools- TWO dollars! I score one. For a cat born on Tsunami Day that loves water , she will enjoy this on hot days, so will we. I figure all 3 of us will be able to squash in.
Home again and Miss B is making such a noise like we've been gone for years. Give our security mate a present as the house looks great and no problems. Home sweet home. My suitcase is full of Christmas presents. Thanks Santa. Especially santa Sister who gives us a lot of Moroccan cash!
December 27thI call a friend who had a bit of a bad moment just before Christmas. Thankfully she sounds much better now. Old age is such a bitch. A mate chuckled out a line to me- "we start our lives in nappys and baby food and we end our life in nappys and baby food"! That so is NOT going to be Mark or myself, I couldn't think of anything worse.
I hear from my friend Chris - and he appears to be stuck in the middle of the Nullarbor on the Eyre highway. Yes right in the middle of the desert. More bushfires have blocked the road for some massive area. He's with his wife and 2 kids and close to the Caiguna Roadhouse but says the numbers are growing, over 200 people. Still not sure when they can all leave for Western Australia. They are safe though, but it's a bit freaky. Not being able to go forward or even turn around and go back. Many sleeping in their cars for a week.
December 28thGood to see the Montage crew, they seemed worried that something had happened to us. Strange as we did tell everyone we were heading home for Christmas.
The Bushfires are growing in size and number. We continue with our Fire clean up stuff here. Just getting rid of endless leaves and things like that . At some stage next week I'll have to test some of our fire fighting items. Just talking about this makes me feel a bit sick in the stomach. The endless images on TV are not helping.
December 29thThe days are heating up and we inflate Banshees pool. It must be a funny sight, 2 guys and a cat squashing into this 3 tier kids pool. Banshee loves her pool, she kind of walks around in it, dragging her magnificent tail in the water. We move Wendy's pink flamingoes to the side of it and put up several beach umbrellas. One being the beautiful old 1950's deco umbrella that the Enz and the office gave me for Christmas one year. It's a beauty.
I see The Falls Festival is cancelled because of Fires. A wise thing to do , the roads in and out are so tiny and surrounded by forest , a huge fire trap.
December 30thMark kindly works on a Skyhooks live song, for our Official Skyhooks facebook page. Recorded on New Years Eve way back in 1976. I thought we could put it up for NYE this year. Mark is such a gem, getting such things together. Fans do owe him for the time he puts in on such things.
A few party calls and emails for the new years but this year we just want to hang around at home. I was against the fireworks happening in Sydney but changed my mind, well kind of. As soon as they said the Red Cross will benefit and those in need from the Bushfires will get the money- I was happy to support it . If you've lost everything to Bushfires and the Red Cross can give you some money because of some fireworks, well why not. If they cancelled the fireworks at this late stage the council would lose close to 85% of the money so a total waste. Plus maybe a small Crowded House related surprise in the music, which I'm keeping Mum about.
December 31stMark finishes the Skyhooks live track and it goes up late afternoon. Music fans love it. You can hear it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UAk5oWuGCw
I head to the art room to make a little silver "20" sign on a pole, for a quick NYE photo for Sheepbook. It kind of looks more like something you'd parade in the nazi's Nuremberg Rallies! Oh well it is what it is. I attach gold sparklers around the edges. Hell it's new years , one has to have an image. Sheepbook can be so boring. It's nice to make an effort. I hate those fucking boring posts of 'It's raining", or "there was thunder'. No one gives a shit , why would anyone even think people are interested, bores should be banned from Sheepbook. Now that would be a good thing for 2020.
Nice food, some drinks, games of pool, music all the standards for new years. Great to see that many of the bushfire families are looked after at the Harbour fireworks show. A small mental escape by many from the fires too. A good mate organises donation tins and none are stolen and all pretty much full. Mostly around the Harbour shoreline. 2019 finishes with a cascade of fireworks on the Harbour Bridge with a mix of Crowded Houses "Don't dream it's over". The audience shots of people singing along makes me smile. See i can keep my mouth shut.
Kiss Marky , the cat and post some bits on the Internet. Happy New year to You all.
January 1stI call our friend Merelyn as it's her birthday. Nice to chat to her as always.
A few family members of mine are concerned as 2 of my cousins are at Moruya and no one has been able to contact them. I pull off a satellite phone miracle and find them and let our family know they are safe. Well for the moment. 21 bushfires are burning in that area now. All the way down the south coast on NSW to the border. I see the Prime Minister still tends to avoid mentioning the impact of climate change around these terrible fires. Why do the australian Liberal party continue to bury their heads in the sand over this, such out of touch dinosaurs.
I climb up on the ladder to clear some gutters of leaves, I'm always amazed at how large and steep the roof is on our home.
I see the diary had 52,000+ visits in 2019. So thanks to all of you who keep on returning.
January 2ndI grab a copy of The Hillscene" from Montage. It's free. Artist Rona Greens amazing creature art is on the front- what a great cover. Some cool articles inside, including a piece on the "2040" film, which we just watched and enjoyed. Instead of focusing on the climate change disasters, it imagines what the world would look like if we implemented some of the solutions that are available to us right now. Anyway cool movie, cool little magazine.
Mary drops into Montage and we have some food. Pete joins us and Ronnie and others say hello. The Fires are all people are talking about. It's like we are sitting in stands watching Australia burn. I worry about the loss of animals too. Apparently the long footed Potoroo is now extinct due to the bushfires.
We spend the afternoon clearing up more leaves, 18 giant bags worth, finally done. You know by tomorrow there will be leaves everywhere again.
Dr Who returns tonight, it's ok, not great. Something is missing from the series, maybe it is the script. I don't know. I love the good Dr but it feels rather average.
January 3rdHappy that my sister and family are home again from Queensland. They are basically driving but have kept clear of as many fire zones as possible. MIM especially had an awesome time.
I run through all my details of our Backyard Carbon Sequestration. Pulling carbon out of the air and storing it deep in the ground. It's just working out the right plants to put in the vegie patch and the right thing at various stages. Every bit helps but it's also great for the soil. A few new things will be planted depending on the time of year- like Winter Rye. I'm chatting with my friend Wendy and we are plotting and planning on what type of clovers to use and what goes with what , it's nice to talk these things over with someone that cares about the planet as much as we do.
January 4thNice that a cool change rolls in during the afternoon. Even a few drops of rain. Meanwhile in Penrith NSW another temperature record is broken, it reaches 48.1 C ! So close to 120 Fahrenheit.
I help some older locals out around the bushfire evacuations. The endless bombardment from the media confuses and terrifies many older people. Hell it terrifies me. The ABC have been exceptional around these disasters and high risk fire zones & getting information out, but there is so much. It was also fantastic to see the Islamic Community bring 3 truckloads of food and supplies and volunteers to the Gippsland area. Thumbs up to the Australian Islamic Centre.
January 5thMarks Dad and Kerri are evacuated. We are glad they had the sense to take their caravan to the Evac area a few days before , it means they have somewhere to stay. We are relieved that they are safe and the big fire had a change of direction at the last minute so their town was spared.
Outside at Kalorama it is raining, not bucketing down but so nice to just go stand out in it. Mentally it helps too. I feel almost 'normal' again, whatever that is.
January 6thWe are enjoying the second season of Star Trek "Discovery" on bluray. The episode where they return to Talos IV is great, in reference to The Cage , the very first Star Trek Pilot for the original show. Anson Mount is perfect as Christopher Pike. Nice to hear Discovery has a third season, lets hope Mr Mount is in the show despite the rumours that he isn't.
The 70 trucks with hay for farmers arrives at Gippsland-what an incredible effort so generous. Good to see our mates Wendy and Doug do some hands on help too. That's why we love our friends.
January 7thI feel a bit crap today so spend most of it in bed. Not really horrid just a bit Blah! By afternoon I'm much better and start taking down the Christmas decorations.
I see consumer sentiment numbers are down by 1.7%. The lowest level in 4 years . Rare this ever happens in the new year. People have no confidence in the government and keeping their wallets closed up tight.
I'm reading Fleas book, from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Enjoying it. Still laughing that my Mum met Flea a few years ago on a beach at Kiama.
January 8thYard work today while the weather is nicer. We are clearing back a big retaining wall on the south side of the property. It use to be the original entrance to Ailsa Craig. So clearing vines and a brick water runway and hoping that some of the original paint is in our garage so we don't have to buy more. We were lucky as the house came with 4 shelves of spare paint . Got to love that. No waste here, we use it up.
Not much sleep tonight, too hot, too cold and a lone mosquito. Banshee wandered up to me at 4.00 am and wanted to cat chat. Which i don't mind as it's a bit cute.
January 9thWe enjoyed the "The Man Who Changed The World" the Bowie documentary on the Arts channel on cable. Quite a bit of footage we've never seen before. A reminder for tomorrow, being 4 years since Bowie passed away.
We do some late night shopping at Bayswater and grab a Pizza from one of our favourite Pizza stores. Some late night wading in our pool, opps Banshee's pool.!
January 10thSnap a few photos at the "Thin White Duke Shrine" at Kalorama in honour of Bowie. Play nothing but Bowie music all day.
Bowie! Bowie! Bowie! That's all my day is about.
January 11thIt's grey outside and misty rain. I call into the post office as I drive nearby and there is a cool parcel from my mate Nikki from Chicagoland! She knew I was after a small walkman type cassette recorder so i can go through the hundreds of cassette tapes that I am archiving. Hoping some gems might be on the tapes and who knows possibly used down the track. Anyway a lovely parcel of tape recorder, some Hot Tamales and a new beanie arrive. Such a sweet thing to do , so thanks Nikki, it made my day.
I plant some corn in the vegetable patch as part of the carbon storage and because I like what corn looks like when it grows (too many X File cornfield episodes maybe?). It's taken a lot long but finally things are taking off in the vegetable patch. Even the weeds are bigger !!!!!
January 12thI think our beautiful Fire Wattle is dying. The leaves are brown and dry. I'm going to keep watering it , in the hope it's just having a moment. The brutal heat might of done this. I hope it will recover.
So here we are in 2020. For Australia a horrible way to start the new year. It has to get better.
If any of you have spare rain clouds in your Christmas stockings, send them our way , Australia is in dire need of a good soaking.
All the best and stay safe.