Old folk at lunch

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My diet


As soon as he moved in to my place, Joe appointed himself as my personal trainer -- for which I am very grateful.  I had slid so far down the razor blade of life that my health and fitness might have been unrecoverable if he had left it for another 6 months.

One of the beneficial arrangements is that of a morning we now go for a walk around 2 neighbourhood blocks that includes 3 hills.  And that has definitely improved my aerobic and general fitness.  I can now get around most of the Rocklea markets on Sunday again.

But the big change is the diet that Joe has put me on.  It is a semi-paleo diet that is very low in fats.  The same diet has kept Joe's own weight under control so I adopted it with confidence.  And I seem to be losing about a kilo a week on it.  I started out at 123 kilos and am now down to 117.  A long way still to go but encouraging progress.

The food Joe has prescribed for me is however mostly very dull. Bananas and small yoghurts are fine but Joe restricts the evening meal to a breast of chicken and restricts lunch to a small tin of salmon.  So I had to find ways to cope with that.  I now have two things I do with the chicken, a chicken curry and chicken teriaki.  I am no cook but with the help of my crockpot I turn out a passable chicken curry mainly based on using a LOT of "Clive of India" curry powder.  It also has in it tomato, onion, coriander and garlic.  I have always liked curry so I can eat it frequently without bother.

I also use a shortcut with the Teriaki chicken.  I found a bottle of ready-made Teriaki sauce down at my local Korean deli so just marinate and baste the chicken in that.  Again, a passable result.

Joe's recipe for making the tinned salmon palatable is to pour low-cal mayonnaise on it.  That didn't help a lot though.  I found that mixing curry powder in with it helped a lot but I did not want to eat curry twice a day.  So I asked Joe for an alternative to the fish.  He said I could have four eggs.  That suited me.  I have always liked scrambled eggs and cooking them in the microwave only takes 2 minutes.  Eggs are very cheap too.  My 4 eggs cost me about a dollar.  So I am now an experienced scrambled egg cook and look forward to my lunch once again.

I initially let Joe cook the chicken but his cookery is VERY plain.  So it is no surprise that he appreciates my amateurish offerings

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The last days of this trip by Von and family


Von has been with us for nearly 3 weeks this time so it is sad to see her go.  She flies out to the Shaky Isles tomorrow.

On Friday she put on a dinner for me at Jenny's place with Simon cooking.  She wanted to thank me for getting her over.

Unfortunately I had a really bad wog on Wednesday and Thursday so, even though I was improved by Friday, I was still clearly infective so spared them that by staying home  -- with great regret.  I sent Joe along to take my place and since Joe is good-humored, I gather that they had a nice evening.  And no-one can beat Von's constant good cheer.

Then today, Saturday, I had already arranged, via Von, to have a last day with all the littlies together -- to be preceded by the ever-popular dosas.  So it was the biggest dosa lunch I have hosted so far.  There were the three sets of parents plus Anne, Joe and myself:  A total of 9 adults and 5 littlies.

As usual, Hannah and Matthew conferred throughout the lunch.  Both have only inchoate language skills so far but they seem to understand one-another.  I gather that it was the first time Suz and Russell had attended one of my dosa lunches and I gather that Russ found that he really liked dosas.

The restaurant was a bit slow in getting the dosas out so we were obviously a bigger party than they expected.  I should have booked and warned them.

I ordered masala dosas for all the adults as they are always a hit and the mothers ordered for their children.  I think the kids got egg dosas and onion dosas.

I had Von sitting next to me so I had the benefit of the best conversationalist present.  Even as a little girl Von was a great observer and couple that with her good native intelligence and she has lots to say that is worth saying.  She is certainly a most rewarding stepdaughter.  And her constant happy outlook is a tonic to us all.

I felt pretty well after my encounter with a cold so felt able to attend the lunch without too much fear of infecting anyone.  The original post-lunch plan was for us all to retire to my place for tea, coffee and biscuits but I thought that was a step too far in the circumstances.  So Von arranged for everyone to go over to Jenny's place instead. Regretfully, I just went home, with Anne following me shortly thereafter.

Waiting for our dosas.  Amusing that Von is the only one talking.  Anybody who knew her as a little girl would never have predicted it

Saturday, August 9, 2014

More birthdays



Paul and Susan put on a morning tea celebration for their two children,  whose birthdays are close together.  Matthew's birthday cake was in the shape of a train as he is a real devotee of toy trains.  Via Jenny, I got him some Noddy books as a present.

Susan invited a few mothers from her playgroup so there were lots of kids running around and having a good time.  The trampoline was popular but despite having a safety fence around it there were  still a couple of falls and tears.  Von asked Hannah if she wanted to go on the trampoline but Hannah replied: "No.  Someone might hurt me".  An early display of wisdom.  Von had dressed Hannah in gold sandals, which suited the little lady that Hannah is

There were many good things to eat set out but the plate of sandwiches was an early casualty.  Being the perfect hostess, however, Susan promptly replaced it with another plate of sandwiches.

Susan seems to be mistress of all the domestic arts.  She showed a skill with a very 21st century such art by making "hats" for the kids out of long twistable balloons.  Even Susan's mother ended up wearing an elaborate such "hat".

I had a chat to Paul about his business plans but he is very much in limbo at the moment.  I talked quite a bit to Von and also to Jenny.

Little Elise slept for much of the time,  which was a bit of a surprise to Susan as Elise is not normally a good sleeper.  Elise has however taken to her grandfather Mark as she was a little lamb while Mark was holding her.

I had a little laugh with Von over the fact that Simon does all their cooking. I mentioned to her that Simon said once to me that he couldn't cook at all until he found out that Von could cook only noodles. Simon was sitting beside me at the time so that got a rare smile from him. And Von was amused too. She said that on one occasion she cooked them one of those bottled "Chicken Tonight" offerings. And it was so bad that from that point on Simon took over. Von does a lot of work in their vegetable garden, however, so she puts food on their table that way.

Despite his dour exterior, Simon is quite a bright spark, particularly in technical matters. I gather that he is well appreciated in his NZ town as he fixes all their computer problems for a small sum. Most people need someone who can do that. And when Paul and Timmy were trying to put the tent up in the backyard today, Simon stepped in and in a few deft moves made it all happen.

Von has undergone a quite surprising change since her childhood. When she was a little girl, either her (fraternal) twin sister Suz or I would usually speak for her. I would often answer a question addressed to her and she would usually indicate in some way that she liked that reply. So one would have thought that she would have married another highly verbal person. But she did the exact opposite. She married a man silent enough to be a Karellian. So she now does all the talking for both of them and does a very good job of it. You can never tell how children will end up. You can only enjoy them while you have them.


Hannah and Matthew opening presents


The birthday cake train

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A real party


Suz and Russ put on a Saturday "afternoon tea" for us all in celebration of Nanna turning 90.  And at Nanna's request it was a real party with party games.  We first played bingo then pass the parcel then a fantasy game of Joe's devising.  And it was great fun.  It kept us thoroughly livened up.

And then there was the afternoon tea.  The ladies had gone to great trouble so there was an amazing array of tempting food on display.  I have been rather sandwich deprived lately so I got into some excellent sandwiches. But there were all sorts of cakey things too.

Then there was the photography.  Susan lined us all up and took lots of photos.  She really worked hard at it.  There should be some below shortly.

Paul had arrived back from England just that morning so was less active than usual.  Initially he just sat there on a settee with his little daughter blinking happily on his lap, a picture of contentment.  She will turn one soon.  His trip to England to investigate the possibility of living there has left him very disillusioned. He encountered too many of what the English call "chavs".  He thinks that England's chavs are worse than our "Yobbos".

Joe and I sat together for much of the time so we were each able to observe the other violating all principles of our diet.


The gang


The festive board


Matthew and Hannah


With the son

Friday, August 1, 2014

Sausages!


Von noticed that I was missing my sausages on Wednesday so arranged a BBQ sausage lunch for me today -- with Simon doing the cooking at Jenny's place.  Friday is my non-diet day.  Nanna joined us eating some leftover spaghetti.  Neither of the Susans could join us but Matthew and Elise were dropped off so we had children to amuse us.

Von also used the occasion to give me a swag of NZ groceries she had brought over for me.  You would think that Australia and NZ would have the same grocery brands but a lot of NZ groceries are quite different.  One thing she gave be was a bottle of L&P -- a lemony NZ softdrink  -- and it was really good.  I drank half of it on the spot. Joe had some when he was over there and he liked it too.  Von also got me a couple off bottles of green tomato chutney, which I particularly like.

The sausages were good and Von kept me interested with comments about food and about NZ.  She is as slim as a rake and eats enough to feed two so she is a wonder.  She also seems to be in very good health.  She attributes her slimness to being constantly active,  mainly with gardening.  Their garden feeds them  all the vegetables they use.

Von  was a corporate high flier on a large salary who could afford anything that she wanted once but she had the wisdom to retire not long after she turned 30 and move to her idyll in NZ.  Even as a little girl she was always wise.

And with a beautiful little daughter that she always has time for  plus a devoted husband who does all the cooking and who has been able to set up a successful business in a small NZ town plus a garden that delivers the freshest produce without great effort plus her husband's parents who live next door who are always glad to help in all sorts of ways, she has got it made.