Sunday, February 7, 2010

Who'll Stop the Rain?

Robert and Jaki have arrived just in time to celebrate the Sydney Rainwater Festival - seven days dedicated to wet weather, wind and water. (And since we were doing so well with words beginning with W, we have added in Wine, too, as a special bonus.)

The big wet started about an hour before they landed on Wednesday, and it has continued with only a few breaks of sun since then. At times the rain has been as hard and torrential as any I have ever been in. And at other times, it's been even worse. And if you look at that rain chart from, you can see that the next four weeks look like producing only three sunny days.

The Sydney Rainwater Festival is not held most years. In fact, it seems to coincide primarily with people coming to visit LK and me and see the city for the first time. When my parents came out here in 1990 for their only visit, it rained so much that they were able to save the cost of a harbor cruise and just float around our street in Wahroonga. Since that time, Sydneysiders still refer to two solid weeks of rain as "Red and Norma Weather".

That is until this week. I have a very strong suspicion that Robert and Jaki's names will be mentioned whenever anyone's swimming pool overflows or they start getting mold on the clothes in their closets.

The good news is that thousands have joined in the festivities of the Rainwater Festival. Yesterday, Jaki and Robert went to the Maritime Museum (which they gave a big thumbs up) and decided to walk across the bridge to the Aquarium at the other side of Darling Harbor.

They were doing OK with their little umbrellas until the rain told the wind that it preferred horizontal to vertical. With umbrellas inside out and footing turning treacherous, these two really learned one of the underlying lessons of the Sydney Rainwater Festival - "If it's bucketing down, move to high ground."

To finish off their less-than-perfect day, once they arrived at the Aquarium they discovered that it would be half an hour in line just to get to the ticket window. Which would then give them the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of steaming Japanese tourists once inside. They opted instead to return to our place.

Which was just as well because they needed to get ready for a wonderful dinner party we had - officially known as The Last Supper at Greenwich Road, and technically not an official part of the Rainwater Festival. Shirley, Caroline and Jon joined the four of us. Loved having great conversations with wonderful friends and LK cooked like a woman possessed - steamed edamame for nibblies, barbecued baby octopus for starters, and grilled beef loin and roasted baby potatoes for the main, all followed with vanilla ice cream with scotch whiskey and black pepper (so good despite sounding odd when you first hear it).

I did my best to make sure we didn't waste money shipping too much wine to Hobart. To celebrate our American friends' visit, I decided we would break open some of our favorite Napa cabernets - a 2000 Opus One, 2001 Silver Oak and 2002 Sebastiani. Jaki very graciously joined me in testing them to ensure quality before our guests arrived. And for the Yanks, I took out a 1999 Grant Burge Shadrach so they could have a taste of one of Oz's best.

After those, we had a couple of other bottles after those, which I can't recall right now. I am sure it's the gloom of the clouds overhead and not the Brandy & Benedictine Jaki decided we needed for nightcaps at the end of a great night with friends.

This being Sydney on a Saturday night - and during the Rainwater Festival to boot - Shirley suggested that we start ringing for taxis around 11:30, in the hopes of getting them here before dawn. And in that perverse way that nothing happens as you expect it will, the cabs showed up within minutes, forcing hurried and abrupt good-byes to our friends who didn't even get the chance to settle in for a good old gripe about how the taxis never come on a Saturday night.

Anyhow, it was the perfect way to spend our last Saturday in the house. Today we are all understandably a tad un-energetic. It may be the dinner party, but I suspect it is because the Rainwater Festival has declared that this year's theme song is "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore".

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