Monday, June 25, 2012

Many shades of grey

We are only a few weeks into winter.  This year ours has been relentlessly, unusually and depressingly grey.  The sun has barely emerged from grey-blanketed skies for weeks.  

Mandurah's thousands of grey nomads have pulled down their roller shutters, packed up their mobile homes and trundled off to warmer climes. On a cloudy Sunday, with the shops all shut, Mandurah's city centre feels like a ghost town.

One grim day I looked in my wardrobe for something bright to wear and realised that three quarters of my wardrobe now matches my hair: many, many shades of grey.  My new merino tops arrived in the post (black and grey); they are so lovely and warm that I haven't wanted to take them off since.  Accessories and lipstick for colour I say.

We have been enjoying soups and casseroles and pies; I gathered up the free-range grey pumpkins from the back garden and transformed them into a cauldron of spicy and colourful soup.

It is weather for snuggling up by the fire weather and reading.  Everyone I know seems to be sniggering and guffawing through Fifty shades of grey, but not me.  I am too busy reading to plan our next trip away.  We were eyeing up the coldest place in the state, Bridgetown, after falling for it on our way back from Albany.  But instead, like wannabe grey nomads, we are planning our first roadtrip north of Perth.

I can't remember our previous two winters being this dull, dreary, bleak, miserable and cold.   

I never thought I'd say this here, but I wish the sun would jollywell come out.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wet, wild but not very woolly

I hope I haven't given people the impression that the warm sunny weather this part of the world is known for continues right around the year, because that would be a big fat fib.  While day after day of clear blue skies and warm temperatures are definitely a feature of our @#$%^! summers and glorious autumns, there comes a time every year when that weather pattern comes to a soggy and often spectacular end.  We are usually desperate for rain by that stage so when the rainy season finally arrives we are ready with coats and quilts, casserole pots and new soup recipes.

But rain here is rarely a gentle thing.  It usually arrives as part of explosive electrical storms and wild cyclone remnants.  We get lashed by ferocious winds and soaked by torrential downpours on a regular basis over the rainy winter season.  Astonishing amounts of rain fall then disappear into our sandy soil almost immediately and send my partner off to check his new favourite website. It is a dramatic and exciting season but sadly also dangerous and damaging.

The latest big storm swept through on Sunday, putting paid to our planned family daytrip.  Instead we all hunkered down inside, feeling thankful that we'd just had our chimney swept and had spent the previous day excavating an old water tank from the back of the garden and installing it to use as a woodshed then collecting up all the firewood from around the garden. 

At 2pm my partner was busy reading his book while listening to Lou Reed, my daughter had just taken a cake out of the oven and was online shopping (buying a Slytherin cape - but that is another story), my son had just finished rereading a book and was playing an electronic game, and I too was online shopping.  I had created a cosy online basketload of something I have had little success finding in the shops here: merino tops.

Then there was a very loud bang and the power went out.  The scene outside our living room window was one of complete mayhem.  Huge tumbleweeds of our street's once tidily stacked organic waste collection materials barrelled down the street.  Wheelie bins took flight then slammed into houses.  Fences fell and trees bent in two.  Our street is nestled behind a hill and is quite sheltered from onshore winds so we knew that the houses just a few streets away near the beach must be receiving a terrifying battering.

We settled down to eat cake (lemon, delicious), play our new board game (Carcassonne the City,  fun) and watch the storm.  Finally after a couple of hours the rain stopped, the winds dropped and the sun came out.  Like those idiots you always hear about on the TV news, we went out for a walk around our neighbourhood to survey the damage.  Below is the full extent of the damage on our property.

Further down the road it was a less pretty sight.  Two of the things I love most about our suburb are its somewhat ramshackle style and its huge trees.  Now it is considerably more ramshackle, but not in a good way, and sadly has considerably fewer huge trees.  Every  pigugly Super Six corrugated asbestos fence in the neighbourhood lay flattened and will probably soon be replaced with the equally pigugly modern equivalent: Hardifence. (We have both types and sadly it is all still standing.)  Some houses in our neighbourhood had major damage and it was obvious to us that we might be without power for quite a while this time (our power is forever going off) so we went home to prepare.

We had a lovely Sunday evening eating takeaways by candlelight near the roaring fire while watching a Harry Potter movie together on my iPad. (We tried the "Lumos!" spell with no success.)

The next day at work I charged all our various devices and batteries, rang a firewood dude to arrange a delivery, then on the way home I bought a Mazda2load of tinned food and a wee gas camping stove.  Two hours later our power came back on.  We were without power for 26 hours and fared far better than the thousands of people who are still without power and aren't expected to get it reconnected for days.

Sunday's storm was described as a "once in a decade event" and was the most damaging event ever for the electricity network.  Now there is a severe weather warning for another storm due this afternoon; the warning I've just read says it will have even stronger winds than Sunday's storm.  So I spent this morning creating a nice cosy place for snakes to shelter filling our woodshed,

putting away the patio chairs and cooking strange meals with all the partially defrosted food from the freezer.  And given that this is only the beginning of the wet, wild, stormy season, I think next I'll have another go at buying myself some woolly clothes to wear.