Greets from Coffs Harbour, Australia where COVID has been non existent for the past six months, the sun is shining in deep summer and we’ve had over a foot of rain already in January due to El Nino conditions. Everything is growing like topsy and the fields or forests are a verdant emerald. Wildlife is also exploding with so many new animals up on The Hill from flocks of birds at dawn, clouds of bats at dusk and baby kangaroos or wallabies hopping all around with their mamas in the paddocks. Spiky echidnas roll around while marsupial bandicoots dig for grubs aerating the soil. Meanwhile, the ruler of the roost, Jackson Eclectus lords over his domain from a tall window perch checking out the kites, hawks and sea eagles spinning around The Hill looking for new crops or mice and rats to swoop . Oh yes, and the pythons are slithering along the grape vines and balcony balustrades sneaking up on the slower birds that still manage to elude them.
I’m still amazed that I made it this far in life’s journey, now firmly past the annual odometer click of 70. Though I was caught in COVID’s first flush in the US last March, I managed to escape back to Oz on one of the last Qantas flights before they slammed the border shut and only had to quarantine at home for a fortnight–not a hotel at my own expense. I even managed to retain my first class upgrade from Dallas to Sydney though I had to move my flight forward a couple of weeks albeit with no penalty.
And because I had finished with SXSW the year before, I was lucky to be fully paid out and not having to sort out the mess of cancelled non-refundable registrations for a thousand OZ/NZ/HI delegates nor the cancelled stands, events and marketing packages bought nor the 40 some stranded artists. I seriously missed the bullet on that one; Hell, the whole chamber emptied and I was unscathed! A friend of mine who had worked for SXSW for 25 years and lost his job shortly after the event’s collapse joked that I was probably the only person in the world that had made a profit on SXSW due to my fortuitous exit mid-year 2019.
Due to having a great travel agent of 20 years–Brad Thomas of Entertainment Travel Partners–I was able to book an ‘overseas’ trip. albeit to Tasmania and got full refunds on the aborted trip to Broome WA and Darwin that had to be cancelled mid 2020. What incredible fortune recovering every dime and missing the opportunity of 60 days in quarantine in QLD, NT and WA for a planned two week visit. Due to COVID, I won’t want to be in the US this year or next and besides, most of my favourite restaurants, venues and events are no more. No reason to visit and besides, we’re not allowed to leave Australia for the coming year unless on compassionate grounds–and I have no living relatives so I can’t use that excuse ad because I’m retired, I can’t use the urgent business exemption either.
But with Biden just sworn in this week, I see great hope for the future with a strong leadership and great potential for reversing the toll Trump took on America morally and legislatively. Though I lost quite a few ‘friends’ from back in America due to their rabid loyalty to El Cheato, that loss was my gain in peace as well as getting off Facebook. I was asked recently what 2020 meant to me now that it is over. While many I know are bemoaning their plight and refuse to get up off their ass as long as they are sucking on the teat of unemployment compensation and Jobkeeper payments, I feel that COVID time has offered some of the best opportunities to reset one’s life, pivot into a new career and business, breaking free of the shackles of corporate job dependency. For me, 2020 has been the greatest year of my 70 on this planet. I survived financially and learned what was really important to me and what possessions I could get rid of. Living alone on the top of a high hill with no dependents other than a 22 year old smart parrot give me a life of solace and meaning rather than worry of the next unexpected crisis. I own the house, have no debt, have increased my assets both monetarily and in terms of resources–doubled solar and battery capacity, doubled water storage for irrigation, lots of self grown crops and full security.
Mentally I am the most centred and calmest I’ve ever been–no depression, manic spurts, bipolar problems or other headspace issues have invaded due to COVID or other world events. I’m confident with life and the direction I’m following and surrounding myself with music about 16 hours a day. I watch lots of concerts and music documentaries with an annual subscription to Qello.com as well as HBO, Showtime, Amazon, Apple TV+ and Netflix providing me a visual entertainment mix. I’ve rejigged all my vinyl records, merrily ripping them digitally by day with heaps not available on streaming services or as CDs/downloads. My wine collection is ageing as gracefully as I am and the larders are stacked with food as well as lots of spices, Cajun and Texan concoctions. Except for meat, fish and dairy products, I am pretty much self sufficient and even get quarterly payments from my electricity provider for feeding them an average of 30Kwh a day over what I use at no cost.
After a 4:30am start to the day making Jackson’s breakfast, mine and a good strong four shot latte glass of Kona Coffee, I’m ready to watch the sunrise palette and start the day–clearing the dishes, cleaning the messes and doing a load of laundry. Then at 7am I spend about two hours on creating new playlists on either Amazon Unlimited HD or Spotify. This is usually artist or genre specific and accumulates about a thousand songs a day five days a week. The latest playlist I’ve created are Johnny Winter, Chris Stapleton, Doc Watson, Bela Fleck, John Mayall, Jorma Kaukonen, Tommy Emmanuel, Leslie West, Sam Bush and Artie Traum.
But the best news is no news medically. I have been healthy, no aches or pains, no heart or circulatory issues, teeth are fine at one end and kidneys/bowels regular at the other. Diabetes has been in check and is even dropping in blood sugar terms over time. Though well fed, I’ve managed to shed five kilos over the past year since returning from America. My doctors are amazed at my health and lack of symptoms of any kind. Blood pressure is low and cholesterol is gradually dropping. I don’t do recreational drugs and drink about half a bottle of red wine a day with meal to keep the heart lubricated. Jackson is in great nick and eats fruit, nuts and vegetables with great gusto and we’re lucky that this has been the best stonefruit season in memory with plump cherries, sweet nectarines and peaches, luscious mangoes and grapes galore. The chillies have been cascading and the okra has been spectacular. Passionfruit and limes we grow up here in waves adorn the flow of margaritas.
Australia is about the safest place in the world to be right now. I thought that the US might just blow up in the past two weeks but even The Proud Boys abandoned Trump and thankfully his finger is off the trigger of the nuclear football. Already in the first few days, Joe Biden and a reinvigorated Democrat controlled Congress/Senate have reversed much of the chaos that The Donald laid out in his corrupt and senseless term of office. Life is brightening!