Old folk at lunch

Monday, March 5, 2018

The war on "Throaties"

Note the little birdie

I gather that "Throaties" are officially regarded as confectionery rather than medicine.  On the rare occaion when I get a cold, however, I find them helpful.  And Woolworths is the obvious source of supply for them.

"Throaties" do contain various volatile compounds (menthol etc.) which are the active ingredients.  So "Throaties" are one of the cough lollies that come carefully double wrapped in order to prevent the volatiles from evaporating off.

Some lamebrain at Woolworths, however, didn't see the point of all that double wrapping so put all the lozenges together in a little plastic bag -- into which all the volatiles promptyly evaporated.  So as soon as you opened the plastic bag, all the stuff you wanted promptly escaped into the air.  So your "Throatie" no longer had any active ingredients.

I found that very frustrating but was consoled to find that a Bangladesdhi grocery on a corner near where I go had the olde "Throaties" in stock.  So I promptly bought 4 of them to tide me over.

Sadly, however, the Bangladeshi grocer is now a Mexican restaurant so when I got a cold recently I had to go in search of "Throaties".  My local chemist did not have them in any form.  Too grand for "Throaties", I guess.

But I knew how widely "Throaties" used to be stocked so on a hunch I called in to my local newsagent.  And there they were.  I bought 4 packs straightaway!

A visit to China

For quite a while now, Joe and I have had the practice of taking a leisurely brunch together on Sunday mornings.  We go to the same place the same time and order the same thing week after week.  That might seem boring to some but Joe and I subscribe to the old Mortein philosophy:  When you are on a good thing stick to it.

Life is change however and that has now come to an end.  Joe and Kate are both workers and Kate thought that weekends were the best time for her and Joe to do things together.  And having Joe spending most of Saturday morning with his old father was inimical to that. So, being obliging souls, Joe and I changed our arrangements to Sunday dinner, with a trip to Sunnybank for Japanese hamburgers being the first case of the new arrangements on Feb 25th.

And Sunnybank is so Chinese that you might almost be in China while there.  I greatly enjoy my occasional trips to the land of the Chin.  They are only 15 minutes drive away so why not.

The Australian population is about 5% Han Chinese these days.    So you see Asian people all around the place in Brisbane -- and many were  born here.  And they do not stand out in any way.  Except for their eyes, they look and behave like any other Australian.

I am always bemused a little by the way the young Chinese women dress.  In summer they wear a lot of short shorts and loose tops -- just as our Anglo ladies do. We also have a few Muslim ladies around the place -- in their vast wrappings -- so the contrast with their "modest" behaviour is great.  The Chinese are not "modest" in that sense. They are one with us.  I mentioned this to Joe -- that normal Chinese dress these days is totally Western -- and he told me that it is the same in Shanghai. He has been to China on work assignments several times.

Anyway, Joe has always been Sinophilic -- as I am -- so is very comfortable with all things Chinese.  And one of the results of there being so many Han in Australia is that we have a couple of suburbs where they tend to congregate.  And Joe and I went there last night for dinner again. And where we went -- Sunnybank -- is almost entirely Chinese.  You could as well be in China.  And I am always delighted to be in a crowd of people who are instinctively civilized.  3,000 years of civilization does leave a mark.

I have no idea how many eateries there are in Sunnybank but there are a lot -- and they are all different. The one Joe took me to last night was very modern.  You ordered from a computer kiosk rather than from a waiter. They have no waiters. That is not very remarkable in that various U.S. McDonalds restaurants also now do that.  But it was a first for Brisbane, I think

But the modernity didn't stop there.  The food was assembled by the chefs onto a very hot iron plate and delivered to you semi-raw. Each dinner would have taken them only minutes to put together.  And when the dinner arrived at your table, you mixed it around for 5 minutes and it was done!  And given the Chinese expertise with herbs and spices, the result was pleasant to eat. It was a good dinner despite minimal human contact in arranging it!

A little sad, however that it took the Chinese to get us up with the latest

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A meeting of minds

It was pleasing to me recently to meet someone else who thinks global warming is a big fraud and who thinks Mr Trump's policies are so good that we need him here in Australia. All that is a bit on the amazing side but it adds to the amazement that this simpatico person is just about as beautiful a woman as you can get. She is married and is also very bright.  She has just completed a higher degree on an important subject in a field that I know a fair bit about.

Her mother and I are friends who occasionally breakfast together.

She is pretty cheesed off about the fact that just about everyone she meets bad-mouths Mr Trump.  So I may get her along to the meetings of the "gang of four" whom I occasionally shout dinner to.  It would be a change for her to find herself among like-minded people. It won't happen immediately but sometime in the next few months I may get her along to join us over my dubious cookery.  All very amazing.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

An outing and a non-outing

A few non-routine events recently: On Friday, I took Anne to the Yeronga club again.  I took her there just before her trip to the Arctic as a birthday dinner but it was a two-for-Tuesday night so all she got for her dinner was two sausages!  So I took her on Friday 9th for a buffet night.  And buffets there are as good as any ever in my opinion so we really did well.  So her birthday was in the end appropriately celebrated.

Then on Monday I had a trip to see a hernia specialist and he agreed that my hernia was so small as to be of no immediate concern.  That was a big relief.  I was not looking forward to being hospitalized.  Been there done that.

Also on Monday a pesky keratosis on my index finger turned out to be a keratocanthoma.  That's good?  Yes.  The keratosis was closely adjacent to a knuckle, which meant that it would need a graft to replace it when excised.  And grafts and I often do not get on well.  I lose them. But a keratocanthoma goes away of its own accord.  It swells up, sort of explodes and then fades away. And it started to die on Monday and it is now only about a half of its former size.  And it was due to be excised on Wednesday.  So I just squeaked in on that one.  But it was a very pleasing outcome.

Then on Wednesday I went in for a couple of other excisions, both on my face.  No fun at all but expert surgery meant that I felt pretty much back to normal on Thursday morning.  I had to skip the booze on Wednesday night and sleep on my back all night but with the help of two Temaz I managed it.

Also on Wednesday, however, was Valentine's day.  I prepared  for it by buying in a bunch of red roses the day before and had said that I would take Anne to a Chinese restaurant for  Peking Duck as a special treat.  When the time came, however, Anne could see that I was feeling a bit unfit after surgery only a couple of hours previously so very kindly gave up her treat to cook me a dinner at home.

I had in my freezer some Jamie Oliver chicken fillets marinated and coated so we had that. I made up a cold collation on a big platter with Rotkohl etc to have with it, which seemed to go well. 

Because we were not opening wine, Anne requested a Martini. I don't drink them myself but the ones I make seem well-received.  I gave Anne a tropical Martini. 

As is well known, a Martini is basically just gin and Vermouth poured over ice cubes.  The proportions you use and various other factors do come into it however.  Everybody has their own recipe. You should, for instance, use fairly small ice cubes so that the liquor and the ice have maximum contact, making the drink cold.  Normally the ice is filtered off rather than left in the drink but for a tropical Martini you leave the ice in.  In hot weather it helps to keep the drink cold.  Whether you can do that may however depend on the size of your cocktail glasses.  Mine are a bit on the large size so everything fits in nicely.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Interesting days recently.

On Sunday morning (4th) Joe and I had our usual brunch.  Joe was in a mood for Maccas so we went there and took our purchases to the Kangaroo Pt cliffs to eat.  It is very scenic there. I had some sort of breakfast burger that was quite good plus a big chocolate shake.  One of the things Joe had was a serve of hotcakes.

Then on the evening of the same day, I hosted a small dinner  dedicated to men's talk.  Joe could not come as his cat had just got sick so he had to go to the vet. But Christopher and Graham were there.  Graham brought along a couple of 19th century British cavalry sabres for display.  I have now asked him to get one for me too.  They were a remarkably fine piece of work considering when they were made.  Chris brought along sidearms:  A replice Colt 45 American army revolver of the 19th century plus a German Luger pistol.  I could see how the Luger "points well", helping you to hit your tahget.

Mostly however we just talked, covering a very wide range of topics.  I explained the sequence of events plus the psychological motivation behind WWI. We got onto the Battle of Jutland, which is a particular interest of mine.  I pointed out that Admiral Scheer ran rings around admiral Jellicoe. And it turned out that Graham had an ancestor on one of the ships that the Kaiserliche Marine sank. We also touched briefly on the Crimean war and the battle of Hastings in 1066.

I noted that our ancestors originally came from the South Baltic shores but something happened that made them want to find greener fields -- crop failures due to global cooling probably.  Anyway some drove South and some got into boats and drove West -- creating Saxony and England respectivelly.  Saxony is a very choice part of the German lands so it is clear that the Saxons were good warriors who won their battles. And in both places where they made their new settlements there were already other people there -- Celts.  So the people of both Saxony and England today are a blend of Saxons and Celts.  When the Celts lost a battle to the Saxons, you can guess what happened to the Celtic women.

And I pointed out that the Celts in our ancestry really were one ethnic group.  Since all the surving Celtic groups in Western Europe speak similar languages -- Welsh, Irish, Cornish, Manx, Breton, Scots Gaelic -- that is very clear.  Other European groups called Celts may however be unrelated.  "Celt" is from "keltoi", the Greek word for "foreigner". We also have Caesar's report in de bello gallico that the Gauls and the British were the one race and respected one-another's priests (Druids).

Christopher was particularly taken with Breton folk-music and noted that it was the theme music to the “Black Hawk down” movie

So those of us with Celtic ancestry have a wide range of cultures to make our own. I believe that the Breton folk scene is particularly lively  -- and it is ours if we want it.

We also talked quite a bit about old motorbikes, particularly remembering our surprise when the Honda Dream first came out.  It upset lots of our conceptions of what motorbikes were like.

We aso noted with approval the ideas of psychologist Jordan Peterson and wondered if he might become a major change agent.

So in discussing men's topics a good time was had by all.

Graham and I next day had a rather traditional brekkie of savoury mince on toast at my place and Graham left shortly afterward to catch his plane back to Melbourne

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I now have a mine at my place

It's a bitcoin mine and it has already made 5c -- using 50c worth of electricity.

Joe was thinking of setting up his own bitcoin mine but it would have taken some research.  Help however was at hand.  His good friend B.. was up from Sydney for a week's visit. Joe is a valued software engineer but B.. is an absolute computer guru.  So for the last few days my place has hosted two very happy people -- running around getting in the hardware and software needed for the enterprise.  I wonder how many people realize how satisfying computer programming can be?  For those who can do it, it is one of life's great satisfactions.

Computer nerds are supposed to be withdrawn and antisocial but B.. is very chatty and full of laughs.  He is however very mentally sharp and thinks at a high level of generality. He joined Joe and me both at our regular Sunday morning brunch and also at our regular Monday trip to Nando's.  And he livened both of us up.  Joe and I talk to one-another so frequently that it is a wonder that we still find things to talk about.  Mr Trump is a great help there. He is always doing something amusing that invites discussion.  But anyway I talked a lot to B.. -- and listened -- and it was very interesting.  No wonder Joe enjoys his company so much.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A pleasant day under blue skies

Leftists have whipped up a bit of a furore over our celebration of Australia day on 26th January.  They claim it is unfair to blacks.  But the only blacks who seem bothered by it are ones who have been radicalized by Leftists.

Anyway, I celebrated it in the usual Australian way as part of a BBQ type family lunch -- at Jenny's place.  Jenny did us all proud again with an excellent lunch. As well as salads and various canapes she cooked up pork sausages, lamb chops and cevapi.

I bought along the cevapi, bread rolls and a bottle of Seaview champagne. One bottle was just right for the 5 of us to toast the day.  The cevapi were partuclarly welcome as Woolworths has just started stocking them again.  They are the king of sausages in my view. So it was good to have them back.  They were new to Kate but she remarked that they were very good.

Jenny also provided lamingtons, brownies and softdrink as a dessert.  Joe particularly liked the brownies.  They were not hash brownies but they were gluten free.

We did discuss the objections to Australia day but concluded that we liked it just the way it is.   All of us at table had blue eyes so maybe that had something to do with it.  We were all of the same ilk as the early British settlers whose arrival the day celebrates

Anne was in the Arctic enjoying the day-long gloom and such things.  Better her than I!

I noticed that Nanna did not drink much of her champagne but gave it to Kate who scoffed it.  A modern woman!  Joe also gave most of his champagne to Jenny, who absorbed it with no trouble at all. I was the only one who just drank my drink.

After a big lunch I did not feel like much food that night but I eventually made myself a spam and seeded mustard sandwich followed by a bowl of Street's blue ribbon with a mango and passionfruit sauce on it.  Yum!

FOOTNOTE: What is meant by "ilk"?  It is Scottish and means of the same clan. Outside of Scotland, however, it is used more inclusively. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A pre birthday dinner

Anne has just flitted off on her latest trip -- to the Arctic of all places.  She could reasonably be called a travel-holic at the moment.

Which is ironic as I am travel-phobic these days.  I went everywhere I wanted to go in my 30s and it all seems too much bother now.  So she mostly travels with her good-humoured sister or goes alone.  She is a very friendly lady so she still has a lot of social interaction even when she travels alone.

But the amusing thing is that Joe and Kate seem to be in a similar situation.  Joe and I are very different people. He seems to be much more kind-hearted than I am, as one thing. Like his mother he is generally kind whereas I am kind mostly to people I approve of.

But "Like father like son" does emerge at times.  Joe is uninterested in travel too.  But Kate wants to see it all.  Joe took her on a trip all around Europe  about a year ago and apparently thought that he had done his travel duty with that.  When Kate wanted to flit off again he pointed out to her that he had visited eight countries with her.  "But that's just Europe" was her reply. Anyway, latest news is that she is visiting Canada on her own this year.

There are other ways that "Like father like son" emerges.  Two trivial but amusing ways are that we both buy rice bubbles but rarely eat them and we both sit down in an odd way, with the foot of one leg tucked under the other leg.  There is a rather attractive young lady below showing how it's done.  Both Joe and I do it quite unconsciously.  It just seems natural to us.

It so happens that Anne's 39th birthday will come up when she is away this year.  So I offered to take her out for a birthday dinner before she departed.  I took her to a dinner at the Yeronga digger's club.  We mostly go there on a Friday, when they have what must be the best smorgasbord in town.  So I thought that would be as pretty good birthday offering.  This time however we went on a Tuesday, which was quite different.  It was a "two for Tuesday" night.  Which meant that you got two meals for the price of one.  And the place was packed for it.  We were lucky to get a table.  The menu was rather small and basic so the only vaguely interesting thing I could find on it were "Toulouse sausages".  But it turned out that they were quite nice.

Anyway, I also took her to The Phams for breakfast next morning, where she had a Vietnamese omelette, a big and very tasty meal. 

While we were there a mother and a pretty little 10 year old daughter walked in. As soon as the mother lined up to order, the daughter zipped over to the the newspapers, got a "Courier Mail" and started reading it.  The wait was a bit long, however, so as soon as she had taken a good look at the local newspaper, she went over and  got "The Australian" and started reading it.  She was obviously VERY bright for her age.  Her mother had her in a pretty dress and her hair was nicely done so she seemed otherwise quite normal.  I would have LOVED to have her as a daughter.  I have seen many kids in that restaurant but she was the only one ever to display such adult behaviour.  It made my day.

I was an odd one in my childhood too. Most kids have on their bedroom walls posters of sports and movie stars.  I had a big map of Taiwan on my wall, which was big in the news at that time. I actually wrote to Taipei to get that map.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Mrs Possum

One of the more pleasing aspects of Brisbane's older suburbs is that a lot of trees have grown up and that has attracted wildlife.  Scrub turkeys strutting up and down the street are a common sight.  And I once had a magnificent python in my back loo.

But because I have a very luxuriant Mulberry tree right outside my front verandah I occasionally see possums grazing there.  Australian possums are much nicer than American opossums but they are distantly related.  Anyway, our possums are rather bold creatures. They stare you down rather than run away from you.

So today on Saturday night we had an encounter with one.  And it was a Mrs Possum. She was in the middle of my front staircase when I popped out up top and Joe was coincidentally approaching from below.  To have people both in front of her and behind her was too much, however, so she scooted away.

How do I know she was Mrs Possum?  Because she had the most gorgeous baby possum on her back.  We were privileged by her visit.

I have seen lady possums on the tree in front of me in the past.  I have observed her marsupium.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

An interesting dinner

Early last year I initiated dinners with people I remember from my old army unit: 21 Psych.  It was interesting to catch up and hear what others had been up to since the '60s.

So I arranged another dinner tonight.  I was able to get Peter Muir along this time so that was good. I tried to get Peter Ridgewell along as well but I understand he has been very ill.  That reinforces my resolution to put on such dinners annually.  Someone from the unit whom I remember with affection is John French, who is now deceased.  So "do it now" is my resolve for catching up with people.

We were originally going to go to the Chinese restaurant next to the PA hospital at Buranda but they have just gone broke -- so I changed the venue to only a block away, at Zambreros of Buranda, a Mexican restaurant.  Some of the ladies were a bit wary of Mexican chillies so I may go back to Chinese next year.

Old times were of course discussed and even controversial topics like IQ were aired.  I mentioned the well established fact that American blacks are on average a whole standard deviation (15 points) below the white average on IQ and was rightly told that I could get into a lot of trouble these days by saying so. As it happens, however what I said is in fact the official position of the American Psychological Association.  But what scholars can say among themselves may not pass in public of course.

The late Chris Brand was a sad example of that.  Every serious student of ancient history knows that the brilliant civilization of ancient Greece was a pedophilic civilization.  Chris, however, was unwise enough to mention that to one of the newspapers.  Despite having tenure he was fired from his Edinburgh university job over it.  There was such an uproar in the papers that the university didn't have much choice

Anyway, everybody enjoyed the dinner.  Anne had quesadillas and I had a "classic bowl". I shouted the dinner but the total cost was only $88 so it was a small price to pay for good company.

The gathered company, men at the back, Rod Hardaker, Peter Hadgraft, myself and Peter Muir

Two larger photos here and here -- from the camera of Linda Muir, wife of Peter.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

An unusual New Year

I don't usually mark New Year's eve in any way.  I stay at home, eat at home and am always in bed before the fireworks.  Anne however wanted to do something so decided to take another one of her many holidays.  She went up to Binna Burra Lodge for a few nights with some old bushwalking friends.  One of them was an old boyfriend of hers with whom she has often gone bushwalking.  Neither of them are capable of much walking these days but they enjoy what they can of their old bushwalking haunts. I believe that more such outings are planned.

Anne however made it up to me for not being with me on the big night by joining me for dinner on New Years day. We don't normally meet on Mondays.  We went to the Yeronga rissole, which had a very good buffet that night.  The food is always good there and there was such a range that Anne was able to put together for herself an almost entirely seafood plate, which she likes.  I had all sorts, including some quite good gyoza, which is Japanese food.

To drink I had Fourex Gold, which is my usual beer, and for Anne I ordered a glass of Chardonnay.  And there was something unusual about that.  In most pubs and restaurants, if you order wine by the glass, they hand you a glass that is only about a third full  -- which always annoys me.  At the club, however, Anne got a glass that was pretty full.  That will certainly encourage me to go back there.

I noticed a way in which the club had changed over the last couple of years.  The members were once almost entirely white Australians. It was a sort of holdout of the way Australia once was.  This time however, there was a substantial contingent of Chinese.  So they have finally woken up to what good value our  clubs are.  They fitted in perfectly, of course.  Most of the children running around were Chinese -- dressed and behaving indistinguishably from other Australian children. The Chinese are great at fitting in, which is a credit to them.

Then the next night, Tuesday, was one of our usual nights together so we went to the went to the Moreton Bay Sports Club, which is at the top of Anne's street.  It is always pleasant there and the Barramundi we both had for dinner was well cooked and well presented.  They don't have the variety of Yeronga, however.  The male membership there consists almost entirely of elderly white guys with expanded waistlines -- so I fitted in perfectly.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A good Christmas

On Christmas Eve Anne was still recovering somewhat from a minor illness but she got over to my place in reasonable shape.  I had our usual Christmas eve food -- French cutlets -- ready to cook and Anne cooked them nicely. They were rather thicker than usual so I ate only four of them, which is well down for me. I made my usual salad to go with them and added some pickled onions to it.  Anne LOVES pickled onions but they are bad for her (reactions) so I put in only two for each of us. Putting two strong tastes -- vinegar and onions -- together gives a very strong taste indeed.

It reminded me of when Jenny made seafood paella,  Maureen would always have some even though she was allergic to the seafood in it. I remember her once telling me about her reaction the day after -- adding "But it was worth it".  Apparently it's common for people to really like what they are allergic to.

Christmas day was a bit unusual.  Jenny had gone to the trouble of having four kids but not one was in town to celebrate Christmas with her.  And Anne's three kids were away too.  So Anne had her Christmas lunch with some old friends with whom she has had Christmases before and I went to Jenny's place.

It's interesting that Jenny's kids have gone to opposite ends of the earth, Scotland and New Zealand.  And yet both are completely at home -- speaking their native language freely and understanding how things are done in their new country.  It's because we are the descendants of brave British people -- seafarers and settlers who went to the ends of the earth despite the ever-present risk of death in their fragile little wooden ships. So many places on the planet are now home to us.

So there were only three of us at lunch -- Jenny, myself and Nanna.  Nanna was in good form however, depite her 93 years, so it was quite a jolly occasion.

And the opening of the presents had a real highlight -- a sturdy cardboard box all the way from Scotland.  Scotland has always had a place in my heart so presents from Scotland was really special to me.  It was of course from Paul and Susan.  It contained cups with artwork on them done by the kids and some excellent photos of them.  I reproduce below the one of Primrose.  She seems a great kid so I am looking forward to meeting her one day.

As she always does, Jenny went to great trouble with the dinner -- ham, roast chicken and all the trimmings.  The ham was particularly good.

And the dessert was remarkable, a big Pavlova, which is one of my favourites.  Nanna made it, despite her never before in her 93 years having made one.  And it was perfect.  I had two helpings.


It was very hot in Brisbane on Christmas day -- around 35 Celsius.  So when I got home at about 3pm, I immediately thought of the cats -- cooped up in Joe's flat while he and Kate were away.  I thought they might be suffering heat stress.  As it happened, they seemed to be OK but they must have been uncomfortable in their little fur coats. Humans are the only animal that can take its coat off. So I closed the verandah door, the front (lattice) doors and opened my door.  I thought they would sit in  front of the lattice door as the lattice enables full contact with the air outside.  With typical cat perversity, they didn't do that however.  They were much more interested in wandering around in my apartment.

Anne came over that night and we dined on some of the excellent leftover ham on bread rolls.  We do that every year as it's the only time we seem to get first-rate ham.

After dinner we watched a DVD of a rather peculiar French performance -- by a Norman (Rouen-based) opera company -- of Purcell's opera "Dido and Aeneas".  There was an awful lot of dancing and prancing and leaping about which added nothing to the story so I won't watch it again. If I want to see acrobatics I will go to a circus.  The mezzo who sang Dido --  Vivica Genaux -- was quite a fine looking woman and emoted very strongly.  I thought she would have to be French because of that.  We British types emote only sparingly.  But she was actually born in Alaska!  The words were all sung in English as that was -- for once -- the original language.

Anne thought that the visuals detracted too and suggested that we might enjoy it more if we turned the video off and listened  to the music only. As Purcell's music is excellent, I might just do that.

After we went to bed there was a lot of wind and heavy rain, which we both enjoyed

Friday, December 22, 2017

A busy week

I had some serious surgery yesterday (Thursday) after the events of Tuesday and Wednesday described below.  There was a large line of subcutaneous tumors at the left-hand margin of my face -- stretching from my jawline to my forehead.  And a previous punch biopsy had confirmed that they were SCCs, a nasty cancer type. And they were growing rapidly so had to be got out soonest, even if it was on the threshold of Christmas.

I was a bit unsure whether the surgeon would or could get it all in one go but the procedure I underwent was a same-day Moh's type -- as a day patient at a good private hospital -- so that inspired confidence.  And, in the event, good margins were apparently achieved.  So the procedure went well and I was in no pain even when the local had worn off.  My surgeon costs thousands but for that he delivers very close joinups of the cut surfaces, which leads to very rapid healing.

My second concern was how well such a long excision would take to heal, considering that I mostly sleep on my left -- so I looked like sleeping upon a fresh incision.  I steeled myself, however, to sleep on my back only that night and achieved it.  I also did not have my usual extensive late-night drinkies so took a sleeping tablet to adjust for that.  I thought I had some Temaz around but could not find it so I took a Stilnox.

Stilnox is a bit notorious for weird effects and I was not spared. I was in a strange state for most of the morning afterward and did not really wake up until about noon.

Anyway, as I write this late on Friday night, I feel back to normal already.  The dreaded cancer is gone and I can't even feel that an excision has taken place.  Paying for first-rate plastic surgery is hugely worth it in my view.

Joe is driving to Canberra in the morning for Christmas at Kate's parents' place so tonight I shouted him a  "bon voyage" dinner of a sort that both of us particularly like -- Japanese MOS burgers.  They are unique in my experience

We had our burgers at Sunnybank, which was greatly crowded, overwhelmingly with East Asians, mostly Han.  Joe and I share great respect for the Han so we were very much at ease with that. An oddity was that the MOS burger joint was one of the few that was not busy.  Do Chinese not eat Japanese?  Rely on it.

A small reflection: As an afficianado of hospital rules, I am aware that  the anaesthetist is supposed to come in before the procedure to explain things to the patient and deal with any questions.  Some time after that the proceduralist comes in too for the same purpose and shortly thereafter you are wheeled in to the operating theatre.

On Thursday, however that protocol gave way to the obviously good rapport between the anaesthetist and the surgeon  They both came in together to see me and we had a brief but jolly discussion about a few points.  They obviously knew that I was someone they could talk to easily.  As I am a retired academic, that is one of my privileges.  I am accepted as someone on their level  -- because I am.  Some people complain that their doctors won't talk to them.  They all talk to me.  All men are NOT equal.

So in the operating theatre, I was in the hands of people who were well disposed towards me.  That has got to be a plus.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A saga ends

The sharers I have living at my place mostly stay for quite a while and we get to know them well. So when they move out we tend to regret seeing them go. The good-humoured Sikh guy in the back room moved out in early October so we were sorry to see him go.  He had been there for 4 years. The guy in the front room has been with me for nearly 30 years.

The back room was a bit run-down, however, so Joe and I decided to renovate it before re-letting it.  In particular, it had an old plastic sink in it that had become very grotty. The sink cabinet was however a very solid one made of real wood so I wanted to preserve that and just get a new sink to go on top of it.  The existing sink was an odd size, however, so that gave us problems.  Eventually we decided to get a new benchtop from Bunnings and drop a caravan sink into it.  We managed to make that work only because of the great talents of Dudley, who even did the tiling around it once the sink was in.  It probably took us a month to get the job done with all the issues involved.

And then we had to get a tenant.  I advertised in both the Brisbane newspaper and on an internet site for finding flatmates.  But it was slow going.  Most of the applicants were on the dole and I didn't want that.  They too frequently get behind on their rent.

But after around two months,  today I finally  let the room -- to a quiet young Brazilian guy.  I think he will work out.  Below are a couple of photos of the room

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A big reunion

One member of my birth family is already deceased but the three remaining were together for once on Tuesday night:  Roxanne, Christopher and I. Rox and Stefan came down from Rocky for a couple of days and this time brought their twins down with them:  Emmeline and Kelly.  Christopher arrranged the Tuesday night dinner at the Story Bridge hotel. It's a beautifully renovated old hotel but their prices reflected that. They were eventually full-up even on a Tuesday night so many people are presumably used to hotel prices (steaks around $35). The food took about an hour to arrive after being ordered but that is common in hotels and what did eventually arrive was good.

People were a bit slow to arrive but we eventually had both of Christopher's children: James and Madeline.  Madeline brought along her girlfriend, dressed in an American burlesque sort of way. 

Kym came too and readily took the bait when I made a few old-fashioned conservative statements, such as referring to Ceylon as Ceylon. Kym is very "Progressive" and politically correct but she has a good sense of humour too -- which she undoubtedly needs to get on with her husband, my brother, whose attitudes are similar to mine. One thing I noticed was that she tossed her hair a lot when she was trying to needle me.  She has a lot of hair so why not use it?

Anne came with me but Joe could not come due to a clashing engagement.

The twins were both nice-looking young ladies but one was short and one was tall.  Emmeline was the short one and Kelly was tall.  Roxanne is 5'4" so that explains Emmeline and Stefan is just over 6' so that explains Kelly. With her mother's pretty face and her father's long legs, Kelly was quite striking to look at.  Tall women do tend to have an advantage in that way. She is also socially pleasant and has the light of intelligence in her eyes.

I should explain that.  I find I can tell highly intelligent people just by their eyes.  I am not sure I can explain it but it has something to do with them taking long gazes at things.  They see more so take longer to look at people and things.  They have a "seeing" (reflective, searching or enquiring) gaze.  Kelly's father Stefan has it too.

Stefan is a great conversationalist so helped keep everyone near him interested. He could talk to me about house renovations and talk to Christopher about old motorbikes, for instance. 

Roxanne talked a lot about her experiences in Saudi Arabia and their attitude towards women.  She was in Saudi for a couple of years while Stefan was there making big money as a telecom technician.  Roxanne is quite critical of negative attitudes to women so you can imagine what she thought of the Saudis.  Her twins were born there so it is a small oddity that two very Nordic looking young women have birth certificates in Arabic.  There are not very many blonde and blue-eyed Arabs.

Christopher was in good form, buying drinks for a lot of people.  Business must be good at the moment. Anne enjoyed meeting the twins and talking to a lot of the family.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A pleasing moment

Macdonalds have just released a new  product:  A big Mac with BLT.  As a confirmed Macdonalds customer, I had to try it.

So I went into my local Macdonalds and was served by a attractive young lady.  She had her hair in two blonde plaits -- which I particularly like -- and she had a significant bosom which was revealed to an extent by an undone top button of her shirt.  She would have had some distracted male customers during her shift. Macdonalds in Brisbane had got it all!

And the burger was good too.  The bread was way too soft but the ingredients were great.. Macdonalds remains an unrivalled source of hamburgers.

Monday, November 27, 2017

A good Sunday and Monday

On Sunday 26th., Jenny put on a small "bon Voyage" lunch for Paul and Matthew.  It was an excellent lunch with all good things.  Joe was busy elsewhere but I attended and had quite a lot of chats with Paul. Matthew kept irritating Nanna by sitting on his chair with one leg up.  Little kids can do that but Nanna saw it as bad manners.  Matthew would put his leg down when told but would soon put it up again.

I understand little boys however so made a pincer of my fingers and nipped his leg next time he put it up.  I was smiling at the time of course.  And Matthew loved it.  I got the biggest laugh out of him for the whole visit I think. He would look at me to see if it was safe to put his leg up again and I would make pincer fingers much to his entertainment.  So I suppressed his unwanted behaviour by fun!  Win, win.  Kids find the threat of pain very entertaining.  I have often used it but adults are often dubious about it

Then on 27th., we were back at Nandos.  That was the real Bon voyage dinner at Paul flies out early Wednesday morning. Tuesday is for packing etc.  Paul and Joe had a lot of chats -- as did Kate and Jenny.  I just chimed in occasionally.  Matthew at one stage kept grabbing Paul's arm but I made pincer shapes  with my fingers and he immediately desisted amid giggles.

There we are below, with me enjoying my usual "Thighs and slaw".  Paul took the photo so isn't in it.

Bigger pic here

Occasionally, I like to put up the docket I get when I pay for a dinner.  It saves me saying what we had:

Friday, November 24, 2017

At Nando's again

Mon. 20th:  This time without Von but with Paul and Matthew

A nice photo of Joe at Nandos.  Apologies to Kate

Big pic here

On Thurs 23rd  I arranged a "Men's night" at my place for Paul and Joe.  I cooked Chili con Carne for us. Paul was most complimentary about it but certain Maggi flavour sachets were owed the credit.  Paul and Joe talked a lot about their aims in life and how they saw their futures.  My future is already here so I just listened mostly.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Before Von flies out

15th: On Wednesday Simon cooked a few of us a butter chicken curry at Jenny's place.  It was excellent

16th: Over the years I have shouted various Johnnsons food -- Ken, Paul and Von.  And they have always honoured my offerings  by eating every last crumb

But I have discovered that there is a small Johnson who has a very Johnson tummy too. At my High Tea on Thursday, Hannah made good use of the offerings.  After consuming a significant amount, she was ready for a choc-chip cookie but her mother put her foot down and would not allow it. Von is a surprsingly "taking charge" person at times.  Anyway, that quite small tummy that Hannah has inherited had true Johnson capacity: Large.

Something unusual on my cake-stand for the High Tea were Medjool dates.  They are a species that has been around for thousands of years but have become popular only recently.  They are very soft and juicy.  Israel is a major supplier of them but from my packet of them, they seemed to be Australian grown.  They all went down well anyhow

Anne did the cucumber sandwiches as usual and did a great job.

We also did one of my mini-plays on Thursday, just before the High Tea. It was, "Building the "Dreadnought"".  It was greeted as very educational. It is one of a series of three plays.

While we were doing the play, Hannah dropped over the railings of my verandah her miniature Thomas the Tank "Train", prompting as big a cry as you have ever seen.  It hadn't fallen far however so Matthew did a "Knight in shining armour" performance by retrieving it.

We also had some big political discussions about Scottish and NZ politics, with Paul being very vocal, as you would expect. Paul was particularly incensed at the money spent on putting up the Scottish Parliament building: £414 million, many times higher than initial estimates of between £10m and £40m. A lot of Scots were disgusted when it was completed in 2004 but Paul is maintaining the rage.  It's not even a dignified building:  Just a scrappy mess.  But that's "postmodernism" for you.

Simon never gets incensed as far as I can see but he was clearly disgusted by Jacinda Ardern becoming Prime Minister of NZ with around a third of the vote.  There are some odd electoral systems in the world.  Even Hitler got 44% of the vote in 1933.

Paul's house has Ruskin connections from when it was built and Susan is descended from him so I read out a couple of good quotes from Ruskin.  They were quotes I had collected in my late teens of long ago, not the ones you normally see online.  Here they are:

Resurrection:  "I fancy the goodly bricks of some of our family vaults will hold closer in the Resurrection day than the sod over the labourer's head" -- From "The Crown of Wild Olive"

Mankind:  "And truly it seems to me as I gather in my mind the evidences of insane religion, degraded art, merciless war, sullen toil, detestable pleasure and vain or vile hope, in which the nations of the world have lived since since first they could bear record of themselves -- it seems to me, I say as if the race itself were still half-serpent, not extricated yet from its clay; a lacertine breed of bitterness -- the glory of it emaciate with cruel hunger, and blotted with venomous stain; and the track of it on the leaf a glittering slime and in the sand a useless furrow -- "Queen of Air, p. 101.

The quotes  are masterful literary English -- which is why I collected them -- but that also meant that nobody to whom I read them understood a word of them.  I explained what was being said and then they were comprehended

The Ruskin birthday book.  Still in the family

Ruskin was a famous literary and art critic of the late Victorian era.  He was rather full of himself but was undoubtedly a brilliant man. Like most arty people, he was of the Left.  My second quote from him above is almost a Leftist catechism in its profound discontent with just about everything.

On Friday 17 I invited Von & Co to a lunch at my usual brunch place. I had Vietnamese Brioches, Simon had a chicken burger and Von had a chicken wrap.  We had some moderately serious discussions as you would expect from that being the last day of Von's visit.  Von is optimistic that she will be back next year.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The visit -- continued

On Tuesday 7th we all met at Jenny's at dinner time to welcome Paul and Matthew back to Brisbane.  Ken picked them up from the airport. Jenny made a BIG batch of egg-rolled pork as that is the family favourite -- and there were some big eaters among us -- 3 Johnson's no less (Von, Paul and Ken).  I think I got a total of five of the rissoles so I did OK too.  Jenny of course also provided salads and such things to go with the pork, including Kim Chee and Japanese ginger. I got a fair bit of those things too. Paul had a lot to tell us after a long while away so talked at a great rate.

8th: On Wednesday evening was a dinner arranged just for Paul and me.  It was to commemorate the life of Chris Brand.  Paul had brought all the way from Scotland a bottle of light Port that Chris had given him so he thought I was the right one to share it with  It was a "Cavendish" Port from South Afria laid down in 1956.  Some wine guide said it was worth 400 pounds.  I cooked meat loaf to go with it as Paul and I have fond memories of previous meatloaves and this one was pretty good.  It popped up at Woolworths about 6 months ago so I grabbed one with a view to sharing it with Paul some time  So all I did was heat it up and serve it with salad.  We were half way through our dinner on my verandah when Joe came by on his way home.  We managed to get him to join us as he too had met Chris.  So he got an unexpected dinner of Port, meatloaf and salad. Paul finished the Port off and Jenny was kind enough to come and pick him up after the dinner.

9th: On Thursday Paul joined me at brunch.  I ordered my special toasted sandwich for Paul.  Matthew got a poached egg on toast but also tried Paul's sandwich.  He had trouble with it. He struck a hot bit

11th: On Saturday we had Christmas!  Both Von and Paul will be gone when Christmas arrives so we decided to have one of our normal Christmases while they were still here. And it did work out as usual, complete with amusing games with presents.  Von took on the job of MC and did it very well.  I shouted the ham as usual, Anne contributed and iced a Christmas cake and Simon did great work frying lots of small kebabs.  The ladies also brought various cakey things which were all enjoyed.  It was good to see Timmy with us.  He brought along a very presentable girlfriend too -- another Kiwi. One of the more memorable events was when I tripped over but managed to fall sitting down in a chair rather than on the ground.  I dropped the fruit salad I was carrying, however.  But there was plenty more.

12th: And on Sunday it was Dosa lunch time.  We always have dosas when Von is here.  We mostly order masala dosas but Kate was feeling bold and ordered a Ghee dosa sight unseen.  It was enormous and she didn't finish it.  But the dosas were good as usual.  Indians have them for breakfast.

Mon 13th was another Monday so we all went again to Nandos -- this time including Paul and Matthew.  We took up 5 of their tables between us.  Quite a lot of chips were left over after the meal but Paul fixed that in his usual way.  There were a lot of  good reminiscences, mainly about assertive things I had done over the years  -- from my sitting on a glass shop counter to booming my way through a crowd at a Katoomba restaurant.  The kids enjoyed such antics at the time and probably enjoy them even more now in the retelling.

There was one memory we were all very hazy about.  I took the twins bike riding in the Botanic gardens and hired bikes for the purpose.  But one of the bikes had a flat tire and I apparently talked rather sternly to the bike hire people about it.  Suz might remember more details.

Monday, November 6, 2017

A visit

Von & Co. arrived at the beginning of this month (Wednesday 1st) for a couple of weeks and it has been something of a whirl ever since.  Jenny put on a sausage BBQ on the evening of their arrival.  Ken picked them up from the airport and Joe and I also were there to greet them. Hannah was wound up like a top and we were all of course a bit excited. Jenny supplied some wine with the dinner but nobody drank much, as usual.

Then on Friday 3rd I shouted Von & Co. a brunch at my usual brunch hangout in Woolloongabba. I got them all one of my special  toasted sandwiches with "everything" in it.  They went down very well.  They always do.  We went back to my place for tea and biscuits afterward until Ken picked them up at 11am for a trip to Southbank.

4th: Then on Saturday night I put on a small pizza and champagne night with the "supreme" pizzas from Pizza Hut being very good. Kate was helpful with dishing out the pizzas.

6th: Then on Monday night came time for Joe and me to have our usual excursion to Nando's.  So I invited Von & Co to that too.  As seems to be the norm at Nando's, we had trouble at ordering time but the food was good as usual.  I had the "thighs and slaw" in a wrap, which I always enjoy.