Mum and Sarah tell me our cousin Jenny's house has been severely damaged in the Christchurch earthquake. She's fine. Other more distant relatives were there, but news has yet to reach us. I can barely remember who these people are. I have numerous cousins, aunts and uncles in New Zealand (grandparents having passed away long ago), but I really don't know anyone. That's what twelve years on the other side of the world will do. Also, twenty five years with no visits to New Zealand has an effect. My family has been large in reality, but in my mind it has been small, shrinking disastrously on my father's side early and making me think of it only in terms of loss and contraction. This is at right angles to the truth - the family has expanded with marriages and children. It just hasn't included me very much, what with being the gay uncle on the other side of the world. We came back to Australia to improve the situation.
I'll be going back to SF for Google IO in May. It's been nearly a year since I was there for Pride 2010. Looking forward to catching up with friends, wondering how many more of them have moved on. Soon enough I'll be as rootless there as in New Zealand.
Mum has been on a fantastic adventure - a personal mission of mercy to a destitute family in Queensland. Their farm house in the Lockyer Valley was made all but uninhabitable by the floods. Via an online bridge playing partner she heard of their plight and decided to do something about it directly.
None of that organised charity - just collecting donations, purchasing replacement hot water system, washing machine and fridge (not necessarily new, but working), bringing up all sorts of household goods and delivering them during another torrential downpour in which the car was temporarily bogged. Luckily this was within meters of the house.
Amusingly, the family has since had attention from the state premier, the local disaster relief agencies and so on, all "just checking to see who might have fallen through the cracks". Word must have got out that a Sydney woman was doing more useful things on her own. Probably scared a few officials who were getting too bureaucratic. Process-oriented people: fine in the slow times, not good emergency responders.
My own adventures have been a bit boring. Lots of work, two weeks of an annoying summer cold, an air conditioning breakdown during the heatwave, parking fines in our own street, and next weekend marching with Gayglers in the Mardi Gras parade. Oh, and the Abba World exhibition last week. And a movie night with friends that same night - Faster Pussycat Kill Kill featuring the late Tura Satana's boobs and kick-ass moves. And Mardi Gras fair day the next day. And Bingay at the Beach (actually, the Paddo RSL) yesterday. I'm going to be completely gayed out.