( Not my pic, I'm afraid, because my batteries were flat... so I borrowed this one from HERE. Same place I got the recipe from.)
the cherry Stollen was wrapped and ready to go,
And besides having yummy treats, I was freshly showered and ready to partay... and miracle of miracles, I had actually slapped on some war paint.
(I stuck the mascara wand in my eye though, which just goes to show that me and war paint don't get along too good. Maybe we would if I used it more often, but I'm afraid that I'm just not a "fixy" woman. I'll practice between now and 2020 though.)
Anyway, I was just sitting here waiting for the Old Guy to show up, when he rang me from his house.
Seems there was a major bush fire just down the road from him, and evacuations were taking place. He was alright for the time being, but if the wind changed, he - and the entire neighborhood - would have been in some serious strife.
Well, that's what I got from the phone call anyway.
But because the air tankers and spotter planes were coming in directly over his house, I could only hear bits and pieces of what he was yelling into the phone.
It was just enough to get my heart racing, anyway.
We were going to the NYE barbecue with friends, (Lee-Loubelle and her husband) and luckily they had stopped by here first... so they drove me straight on out to the Old Guys place.
And if I had had a better idea of what was going on when he called, I would have had a heart turn in the first place.
You could actually see the flames from his front veranda... probably close to 75 people were standing at the end of the lookout from his house... and Elvis (or a look-alike - or maybe it was even Priscilla) was performing water carting duties, along with another huge tanker chopper and a couple of smaller ones.
Luckily, there are holding ponds for sucking up water - just for this purpose - down the embankment at the nature reserve... straight down at the end of his street.
Literally, five houses away.
(this is literally what we watched for over 2 hours... it was actually this close!)
The wind was whipping from the cool change coming through... and it was whipping because of the fires, and the helicopters hovering overhead ... The smoke was so thick at times, that it was hard to see what was going on, and the sounds of the fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, along with the fire-fighting aircraft... Well, it was literally deafening. And scary as hell.
(Word on the scanner last night was, 2 police officers and possibly a 3rd had died when the wind changed and the smoke was too thick for them to find their way out of danger. But luckily, the online newspaper didn't say a word this morning about anyone being injured or killed. So I'm praying that it was just a rumor)
Anyway... we ended up going to the barbecue in spite of the fire, mainly because it was just a few blocks away and we could still keep a very close eye on things... and besides that, I had enough tater salad, to feed a small army.
But shortly after getting there, the rain started.
A good soaking rain started bucketing down, along with hail, which went a long ways towards helping with the fire.
But sometimes with the good, comes the bad...
And the bad was that there was lots of lightning with it.. and it ended up starting numerous spot fires in the same general area.
Luckily though, with the helicopters and planes already there on the scene, most (but not all) of the spot fires were quickly contained pretty quickly.
We ended up coming home early - at about 9 o'clock - mainly because quite frankly, neither of us were in a very celebratory mood, even though the heavy rain had calmed things right down.
And as we drove home, the smoke was still as thick as molasses, and most of the roads in the area were still cordoned off.
It was pretty eerie, let me tell you... with thick brown/black smoke and the hazy, barely-seen flashing lights from all the emergency personnel.
There was just no way that we could completely focus on what we were actually seeing - it was all that surreal.
So... 2009 went out with a definite sizzle last night.
But luckily, no serious damage was done. At least that we know about.
But here's to a drama-free, safe, sane, healthy, trouble free, and happy 2010 for ALL of us!