Saturday, December 31, 2016
I saw in the new year in what seems to me to be a very good style. I had a naked woman beside me in my bed and a glass of gin on my bedside table. Can you beat that?
And where I live is close to Brisbane's Southbank so I could hear the Feuerwerk -- fireworks -- from my bed - even if I couldn't see any of it.
But I think that once you have seen one fireworks you have seen them all. Yes. I know. I have no soul.
As she returned to her bedroom, Anne wished me a happy new year. I replied in Latin: "et tu" (you too). But Latin is a European language so it probably made some sense to her.
Thursday, December 29, 2016
Because they seem to live in an eternal present, I would be surprised if many Leftists were proud of their ancestors. I am proud of mine -- mainly because I know a fair bit about them.
Most people start taking an interest in their genealogy in their '60s. I started in my early '40s. And because a lot of Australians survive into their '90s, a lot of my older relatives were still there, plugging on. And the people they remembered lived long lives too. So living memory was able to take me back a long way -- to my great-great grandmother, who arrived in Australia in the hold of a wooden convict ship in the 1840s and who lived into her '90s.
And from what I heard, my father and his father were typical of the breed: Quiet, hard-working, uncomplaining men who never made a splash but did hard things for the benefit of their families.
My father was a timber contractor ("lumberjack") and his father and grandfather were bullockies. ("teamsters"). As a kid, I watched my father cut down big forest trees with just an axe and a crosscut saw. There were no chainsaws then.
And if you want to know what bullockies were like, Henry Lawson's poem "The Teams" is both graphic and accurate. It is my favourite poem. My grandfather, "Jack", never went to school as he was working a bullock team by the time he was 10. He was however taught at home how to read and write.
My grandfather's team
Jack Ray's father was Frank Ray. His obit in The Cairns Post of 28 February 1910 describes him as the first carrier (bullocky) on the Palmer [river goldfield] up Cooktown way. The was no road to the Palmer in those days so it is an abiding mystery how he got his bullocks up there.
A couple of small, illustrative details: I remember my grandfather, "Jack", well. He got a small splinter of steel in his eye in an accident. He didn't trust doctors so he just squinted for the rest of his life. In his time, distrusting doctors was probably wise.
And my father's cousin, old Alex Fletcher, tended to get skin cancers, as I do. But he was a farmer living a long way from town so he just put his hot soldering iron onto the cancers to cure them. I blanch when I think about it. But he had it all thought out and explained to me how he did it. If you admire hardiness, how could you not be proud of such men? Once upon a time men were men and were in no doubt about how to do it.
The Australian pioneers worked hard to wrench a modern and highly civilized society out of a harsh natural environment -- and I am proud that my ancestors were among them. My only sadness is that I am not worthy of them. I am a degenerate compared to them.
An amusing coda: My father was far from dumb but the only way he knew to put bread on the table was by hard manual work. He was born in 1915 and that was how it was for most people in that era. So because I spent so much time reading books and not doing outdoor things, my father thought I would never amount to much. He had a vivid way of putting that which I won't relate. But when he heard how much money I was making from teaching at a major Australian university, he sat bolt upright with surprise and immediately reversed his opinion of his eldest son!
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
On Saturday, Christmas eve, Anne was staying home to make last minute preparations for going down the coast to join her family on Christmas day. So I emailed Jenny on Friday to see what she was doing on Christmas eve. She had nothing planned so offered to cook me a Christmas eve dinner, which I accepted with alacrity. Jenny makes very good dinners. I took over my usual Tyrrells Verdelho.
Jenny in fact cooked me one of my favourites: real Wiener Schnitzel -- veal Schnitzel. You mostly see chicken Schnitzel these days. So that went down well with salad etc. As I do, Jenny puts feta cheese in her salads and I noted how well Feta went with the Schnitzel. Something to remember.
And on Christmas day Jenny drove herself, Nanna and me down to Suz's place for the family get-together. We arrived about 11am, with heaps of presents. Jenny had been a very busy shopper.
An interesting pre-dinner feature was a big box of prawns that Timmy had brought over. The only seafood I eat is fish'n chips but a lot of the others bogged in.
The main feature of the dinner was a big ham cooked masterfully by Russ on his big BBQ. With salad and various odds and ends, of course. Suz had made us some bread rolls in her bread-making machine that came out like damper. So we had a bit of a laugh with Suz over her insistence that they were bread rolls. They went down anyway.
Tracy, Simon, their children and their dogs were in attendance. It was nice to meet Ted, a big Labradoodle with cream-coloured curls for hair. He looked like a sheep and was very good-natured. He had come all the way from Woomera with Tracy and Simon in their car. Dogs love cars but I thought the doggy smell might get a big much on such a long trip. Ted looked beautiful but he smelt like a dog.
I talked mainly with Simon and Ken. And what did we talk about? A worldwide topic of conversation at the moment: Mr Trump! Mr Trump is a risky topic these days as there are many criticisms of him. But we managed to have a congenial conversation about him nonetheless, probably because we are all on the conservative side of the fence.
Simon was fairly critical of Mr Trump at first but I pointed out some of the things Trump has going for him and Simon did end up conceding that Trump would probably do some good. I asked Ken what did he think of the claim that Trump is a misogynist? Ken said: "No more than any other man" -- which was pretty realistic answer, I think.
We had our usual mystery presents game, which got everybody involved. I ended up with a dashboard camera, which is probably a good thing, but I do so little driving these days that I will probably give it to Joe. Not that he does a lot of driving. He WALKS amazing distances.
A few people were drinking beer but no-one got noticeably affected by it. We are a pretty sober lot. I avoid drinking during the day because I drink a fair bit at night.
Then on Christmas night, Anne came over and we had ham and mustard sandwiches at about 8pm -- using leftover ham from the lunchtime ham. It's always the best ham of the year.
Monday was of course Boxing day so Anne stayed over at my place all day. For breakfast we jointly cooked up some bacon and eggs for breakfast, with some savoury mince thrown in. I had the mince already cooked and in the fridge. So it helped make a good breakfast.
Then for dinner Anne cooked up some good sausages I had in the freezer -- beef and pork sausages. They cooked up very well, a humble but most enjoyable dinner. And we had some very small Christmas puddings with cream as a dessert.
And on Tuesday morning, we had the last of the Christmas ham for breakfast -- as ham and mustard sandwiches. Anne then left to prepare for a trip to Stanthorpe with some friends.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Monday was a good day. Jenny and I invited Sandi over for a pre-Xmas dinner. With the help of Mr Patak of Lancashire, I cooked up a beef curry in my crockpot and Jenny provided the trimmings: Yoghurt, chutney, pappadums. We had it amid the breezes on my verandah. I even got out my best plates for the occasion! And the curry and rice tasted good. Congratulations to Mr Patak! And Jenny excelled herself with the dessert: Pavlova plus rum balls. And all washed down with Tyrrells Verdelho as usual.
I ate so much that I had to go and lie down for a rest after a while but Jenny and Sandi carried on chatting.
And then on Tuesday Anne and I had absolute ambrosia from the Greek fish shop at Manly. That lot sure know what they are doing. I think it was the best fish 'n chips I have had. So no wonder that the place was leaping: customers everywhere and lots of staff behind the counter. I imagine people go there from all over. The battered Barramundi, the chips and the Greek salad were all first class. We had it at Anne's place, with, guess what? Tyrrells Verdelho.
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Joe and Kate are off on an overseas holiday at the moment so this morning I offered to cook them a "bon voyage" breakfast. Kate had mentioned that her favourite breakfast was a Canadian one -- pancakes, maple syrup and bacon.
As it happened, I had in one of my cupboards a bag of pancake mix which I had bought from Woolworths for 99c. So the die was cast. A pancake breakfast it would be. I had cooked pancakes only once or twice before so the young couple were taking a risk.
And it was a bit chaotic. With the help of my premix, I brewed up plenty of batter and poured it nicely into my special teflon-coated pancake pan. And they cooked well. But then came the problem: Getting them out of the pan. My psychomotor skills have never been great and my tendency to the shakes has slowly got worse over the years. So I could not get the pancakes out in an orderly way. They came out rather crumpled up.
Fortunately, Anne was to hand so I gave the job to her. She also claimed to be no good at it but, oddly, she found that if she made big pancakes nearly as big as the pan, she could do a reasonable job of it -- which she did. While she was doing that I concentrated on cooking the bacon and also did some fried eggs.
I had kept aside the messed up pancakes that I had made and offered them to Joe before Anne's pancakes arrived. They disappeared like lightning. He must have been hungry.
I had a bottle of allegedly genuine Canadian maple syrup so with its help we had a good breakfast.
And the syrup made an appearance later on as well. I made Anne and myself a chicken salad for our evening meal. I think I will draw a veil over its contents but it was not completely filling so there was room for a dessert of waffles. And it just so happened that I had a pack of pre-cooked waffles to hand. So waffles with maple syrup and Streets Blue Ribbon ice-cream finished off the day nicely.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Peignoirs originated in 19th century France. They were a rather utilitarian garment at that time. The Lady would often sleep in the nude for the convenience of The Master so a garment was needed for getting out of bed the next morning. And that was the peignoir.
So The Lady would get out of bed, have her morning pee in the chamber pot kept under the bed, go back to bed and ring for the maid to remove the pot. While the maid was doing that The Lady would choose and don one of her peignoirs. It was not fitting for the maid to see The Lady in the altogether. That was a pleasure strictly reserved for The Master.
The maid would come back and The Lady would take a seat while the maid brushed her hair. The peignoir was a garment for hair brushing time. The Lady of course wore her hair long to please The Master and long hair can get rather messed up in bed -- so brushing it out was the first order of the day. After that other preparations for facing the day would begin.
So the peignoir was a practical thing -- a dressing gown tied at the waist -- but The Lady would NEVER wear anything that was just practical. It had to look good too -- in case The Master came in during preparations. So the peignoir was usually in silk or satin and often in white. It had to be simple but flattering. So it could not be voluminous but should rather flatter the figure.
So that is how peignoirs originated. In more modern times their privacy use has largely disappeared and they come in sheer fabrics, cut in revealing ways and accompanied by matching panties: Not your old peignoir at all. I have however been old fashioned since I was aged six so I really enjoy seeing a lady with a nice figure in an old-fashioned peignoir.
But where do you buy one? There are many advertised for sale on the net but they all seem to be modern interpretations. Anne has a figure so I offered to buy an old-style one for her years ago -- but we just couldn't find one.
But lo and behold! Anne walked into my bedroom recently wearing a very nice peignoir in the original style. Anne's mother passed away a year or so ago and Anne inherited most of her clothes. Her sisters were to fat or too slim for them to fit. And among them Anne found exactly the type of peignoir I like. A bit sad that you need to have a 93 year old mother with good taste to acquire one but that is how the cookie crumbled.
Sunday, December 11, 2016
On Friday night, I shouted a pre-Xmas dinner for Jason -- at the "Sunny Doll" Japanese restaurant. Joe, Kate, Anne and myself were the other diners. We ordered mainly off the Don Buri menu as you will see from the receipt below. Jason is a very clever man in all sorts of ways and he demonstrated his social skills by being a model guest. He made a point of spending some time talking to each of us. If anybody needs a guest to make up numbers at a dinner party, invite Jason. He manages to be both polite and self-effacing while at the same time knowing amazing amounts of stuff. He is a genuinely good man.
Saturday morning started out interestingly. I attempted to make ham, cheese and tomato jaffles for breakfast for Anne and myself. They came out pretty well but the difficulty was getting them out of the sandwich machine. Both Anne and I had a go at it but they all came out in something of a mess. We had to use knives and forks to eat them. But they tasted good.
Later on Saturday morning Suz put on an open house -- from 10:30am on -- as part of the celebrations for Sahara's birthday. Joe, Kate, Jenny, Nanna and I went along.
For once, I chose for myself what presents to bring so I brought four: A dolly-sized chair and bucket, some Peppa Pig cards and a small frying pan in the shape of a heart. But she got so many presents that it was hard to see what she thought of my presents. Maybe Suz will tell me if she plays with any of them.
Joe seemed to be in a rather glum mood but the kids soon livened him up. He spent a lot of time picking them up, throwing them around, chasing them etc -- to enormous shrieks of amusement from them. Dusty in particularly had a very loud scream. They kept coming back for more, as kids do. Toys are nowhere nearly as amusing as adult attention.
In chats with Suz I discovered something I did not know about her. She is a real sentimentalist. I always knew that Von had a box of little mementoes of all sorts of times in her life -- from when she was a kid. But Lo and behold, Suz does too. She got out her neat little wooden box and showed us all her mementoes. She may well be just as sentimental as Von. One item is a tiny plastic baby that Von wanted too so that has been a bit of a game between them: Hiding and finding the baby
The sawmill: There is an old sawmill up for sale near where Von lives and it would be a dream for Russ to buy and run it. But moving to New Zealand would entail lots of difficulties. As a mother of two, Suz in particular is conscious of those difficulties, though she absolutely hates standing in the way of something that would be so good for Russ. So I spent a lot of times exploring the possibilities with her.
Russ is already a keen woodworker and you could see the dream in his eyes when talking about the sawmill. A woodworker with his own sawmill is in woodworking heaven.
We had rum balls etc with a cup of tea when we arrived and at lunchtime Suz made us ham and cheese rolls.
Joe must have felt the need to be in a family environment because he spent more time at Suz's place than he usually does. So I got the chance to lie down on a comfy couch there and have a nice nap -- as I usually do after lunch. When I woke up it was to the sound of screaming kids being chased around my couch by a monster, which was very entertaining. It was of course Joe doing his best monster impersonations.
Kate played with the kids a bit so she is getting used to our boisterous ways with kids
Friday, December 9, 2016
I put up the following post on my main political site because Chris is a conservative blogger -- but I think it has a place here too
Chris seems to have weathered the storm and looks like he will make a good recovery. He is however still in hospital.
A great co-incidence is that my dynamic stepson Paul moved to Edinburgh over a year ago and in fact lives only 5 minutes walk down the street from where Chris lives. And Paul shares my views on most things so he and Chris got on famously from the get go. So Paul has been a great proxy for me during Chris' grievous illness. He has fought for Chris all the way.
Paul and my son Joe also get on exceptionally well so Joe is travelling to Britain soon and will be staying with Paul for Christmas and should therefore meet Chris. There will be some VERY conservative conversations between THAT trio! Joe and I also see eye to eye on most things.
With that background I think I can share the latest marvellous email from Paul. (Shiou is Chris' wife and Matthew is Paul's 5 year old son):
"Last night I spent 4 hours up at the Hospital with Chris, Shiou and his son, Tom who made a surprise visit up from London.
It was a really joyous occasion, celebrating the strong recovery of Chris. He hopes to be home for Christmas.
We had so many great chats and laughs but it was great to see Chris so talkative and strong in his will and being the main contributor to the many stories being told.
He is keen to assist Matthew in the future with his speech and cultural stories and of course we are all excited to have Joe Ray here over the Christmas period.
What a very lucky outcome!!"
The mention of Matthew refers to the fact that Matthew has acquired a slight Scottish accent which Paul rather deplores. He knows how much your accent typecasts you in Britain. So he is hoping to familiarize Matthew with RP, which Chris speaks. Matthew is a bright little boy so being able to switch accents should come easily to him.
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Michael is an old friend from wayback. He is a fellow strong conservative and also has the distinction of having the loudest voice I have ever heard. He is a modern-day Stentor. One index of his individuality is that for a time he used to drive around Sydney in an old Dennis fire engine. He is definitely an irreplaceable original.
So I was pleased to get a call from him tonight. He is in the Mater Private hospital in Brisbane recovering from a double hip replacement. Michael is actually two years younger than I am and my hips are fine -- but Michael is a great fan of the dinner table so has put on a lot more weight than I have -- not that I have anything to boast about in that department. And overweight is of course bad for hips. But Michael has risen to the dismal challenge of weight loss and tells me that he has slimmed down a lot since I last saw him.
I hope to have him over for a dinner some time soon -- when he has completed his convalescence. We have a mutual friend in Jill, who remembers him with affection, so I might try for a combined dinner in January. Jill does a lot of cruising these days so I would have to fit in with her too.
Michael and I are both blessed in that we have capable sons who mostly share our political views.
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Sunday, November 20, 2016
Part of the “Gemütlichkeit” (pleasant social environment) thing in Germany is to have things darker and more intimate. And bedrooms around the world tend to have reduced illumination. My bedroom is lit by a side lamp powered by a 10 watt fridge globe on the more private occasions, so it has a very low light level indeed. But one's eyes adjust of course. 10w is sufficient.
I will get back to that but I now want to comment on a TV program that I did not watch. The only TV I watch these days is the Melbourne cup, a great event.
There was apparently on TV a program called "The Bachelor", in which a lot of young women were introduced to one lucky man in the hope that one of the ladies would become the love of his life. There were all sorts of activities before the man made his choice and the viewing public had the challenge of deciding which lady he would choose.
There was apparently a broad consensus that one lovely lady, Nikki Gogan, would be his choice. She was in love with him. But he in fact ended up choosing another lady, which caused him to be called "the most hated man in Australia" at one point.
All that it of course is just leaves in the wind and is already well on the way to being forever forgotten. There was however one picture from the final episode that was repeatedly broadcast. It was a picture of Nikki receiving the bad news. And it was in fact so frequently reproduced on the net that even I eventually noticed it. And I could see why people were fascinated by the picture. To me it had a Mona Lisa quality. See below.
It is somehow an image of a quality lady.
So now we get back to light levels. Anne wears her hair in a style similar to Nikki's and has a similar-shaped face. So when I kiss her in my bedroom I am reminded of Nikki. I have my own Nikki Gogan! The low light level erases most of the evidence that I am kissing a lady in her 70s. Now, isn't that a good thing? Romance is not dead!
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Now that Mr Trump has well and truly arrived, I have taken some steps to reduce the time I spend on blogging. I think I need to get out more. And that seems to be working.
On Wednesday evening I cooked some pork porterhouse steaks for Anne and myself which went down very well. Once again prepared by Woolworths. I just heated them up in my large cast-iron saucepan. A Greek salad went with it. Anne brought over some Camembert that had to be cooked (!) as an appetizer and that was quite good too.
Anne stayed over so for breakfast next morning, we got pies from the Yeronga pie shop and took them down to the Yeronga waterfront to eat them. We were not quite sure where we would end up so Anne took her nice mainly red checked travel rug along in case we had to sit on the ground. It turned out that there was a seat where we ended up but Anne brought her rug with her to the seat anyway. The pies were good but messy to eat.
When we left Anne forgot her rug, leaving it on the seat. We went back to get it but could not again find the place where we had been. It is a real rabbit warren around Orsova st. So that was vexing. We must have driven around for over half an hour but neither of us could figure out where to go.
Anyway, Anne stayed on so that night we went to the pub at the Woollongabba fiveways for dinner. The chicken schnitzel dinner there was quite good. And the pots of Fourex Gold helped too.
Then on Friday night we went to the Yeronga RSL club for dinner, as we had had good food there in the past. It was buffet night and they had a big range of tempting offerings, of which I tried many. A very good night. Again with pots of Fourex Gold helping.
Then on Saturday morning we took pies from the Fiveways pie shop down to the park at the end of Kangaroo Point. Again the pies were good. The outlook onto the Brisbane river was pleasant too.
Anne had various arrangements with choirs and such things for the rest of the weekend but my social life still carried on. Ken arranged a BBQ at his house on Saturday afternoon for us to spend time with Paul while he is still here. He is just back from NZ and flies back to Scotland on Monday. Suz and Russ and the kids were there too. I arrived at about 3pm and the BBQ was about 5pm. Paul and I talked a bit about Chris Brand's illness. Chris was in a very bad way but is now convalescing. We both hope that he will be able to keep company with Paul in Edinburgh for a few years yet.
We very daringly talked about the big no-no for modern conversations: Mr Trump. Mr Trump has replaced religion and politics as something that is too divisive to discuss socially. There seemed generally to be at least guarded approval of Mr Trump. Even Ken said he was glad to see Trump elected -- but mainly because Ken loathed Hillary. He would not be alone in that. Feminism is all very well but it's not a good way to get the male vote, as Julia Gillard also found out.
At one stage I was talking to the kids and mentioned that only girls have dolls. Both Sahara and Dusty agreed with that. My ideas about sex-roles are very much accord with both biology and tradition. But perhaps in an effort at modernity, Ken said to Dusty: "but boys these days sometimes have dolls too". Dusty's reply to that was memorable. He said "AAARRGGH!" -- a real boy.
Ken was a very diligent BBQ cook, turning over the snags all the time. They were thin snags -- pork, I think. And the end result was just right. I enjoyed them greatly.
I have always showed my complete lack of class by CUTTING my bread rolls instead of tearing them apart by brute force. Cutting them helps to get them buttered evenly in my opinion. I even have a big breadknife for the purpose and have donated a similar knife to Anne for use at her place. So I was rather pleased to see that Ken has adopted the same practice. He has a big knife which he keeps in its own sheath for the purpose of cutting bread rolls (Inter alia, one presumes). He had better not let any of his relatives in England see it, though.
Do you see what I did above? I immediately restored my class position by using a Latin expression. It's crazy but it is very British.
And I got good farewell cuddles as I left the party: from Elise, Sahara and Dusty. What more could one ask?
And tomorrow morning I should be sharing our usual Sunday morning breakfast with Joe.
UPDATE: I did indeed break fast with Joe on Sunday morning. We talked mainly about Mr Trump and the reactions to him. One thing I mentioned was something that seems rarely mentioned: His beloved and devoted daughter Ivanka is married to a Jew and has herself converted to Judaism. So the constant Leftist accusation that Donald is a racist and an antisemite jars greatly with that reality.
But on the same day I also had lunch with an old friend: Peter H. We were in the army together long ago so it was well and truly time to catch up. We had a very good lunch at the "Memorizable" Chinese restaurant at Buranda -- where the Sing Sing used to be. It's a strange name for a Chinese restaurant and is quite new so does not appear on the internet at the moment. The food was great. I had satay lamb and Peter had beef with vegetables. The cook there knows his stuff.
We had no trouble finding things to talk about. We have both had a quite varied life after the army. So it was a most congenial occasion. I remembered Peter from way back as a nice guy -- and he still is.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Saturday, November 12, 2016
When Anne started going out with Mr New, she and I continued to see one-another once a week. So at one stage I made her a promise that the next time we saw one another twice a week, I would put on our favourite dinner, which is lamb cutlets. They are a bit dear for everyday dining but make a great special meal. They are very tasty. I like them with plenty of salt and well-buttered bread.
So on Wednesday I got a heap of them from my freezer and made a good salad to accompany them. We had a Wyndhams bin 555 Shiraz to wash it down. And it was a great evening.
Then on Friday morning, Paul and Elise joined me at breakfast at my usual cafe. Paul and I talked about all sorts of things, including Mr Trump. We both like Mr Trump but I told Paul never to argue about him. The things people don't like about Mr Trump -- bad manners etc. -- are real and excusing them will not be well received. Even many of those who supported Mr Trump are aware of his faults but we overlook them because we like his policies.
When we got back to the car after brekky. Elise stopped and carefully took her sunnies out of her gold handbag, put them on and then clicked her handbag shut before she went any further. All completely ladylike at age 3.
And on Friday night Anne and I had one of our two annual dinners with Jill and Lewis. As usual for the one late in the year we went to The Sunny Doll and had some of their scrumptious Japanese food. I ordered some vegetable tempura as an appetizer before the main meal as Anne particularly likes that. She never fails to remind me to order it! Lewis knew what he wanted for his main course -- Omurice -- but for the rest of us I just ordered a selection of the rice dishes (Donburi). When the dishes arrived, I said that Anne and Jill could choose one and I would have the other. That caused momentary confusion but one of them came with salad so that was an obvious choice for Anne, who is something of a salad devotee. We were all rather naughty as none of us finished our beautifully-cooked rice. I reproduce the docket below as a memento of what we had.
Then on Saturday night we had one of our big Bollywood dinners so everybody would get a chance to see Paul and Elise. I offered a toast at the beginning of the evening to "A very special person" -- Elise.
Sahara was very vivacious at the dinner, playing mainly with Tim until she wore him out. She was looking more beautiful than ever.
Sahara looking alert
Anne mainly talked to Ken, as she often does. They both do a lot of holiday travel so discuss that, among other things. I was particularly pleased to see all the littlies running about. I mainly talked to Jenny and was sad to hear that Nanna has had a bad turn.
I talked briefly with Ken about Mr Trump. Anne in the middle
Anne counted 22 people at the dinner, including about 6 kids. Paul invited some of his friends along so that increased our normal numbers.
I got to pick up Elise and give her a hug as I was leaving and was amazed at how heavy she was. Like Joe, she seems to have inherited Jenny's big bones. But it was her boyfriend that Elise was interested in cuddling
Below is a brilliant portrait that Ken did of Elise. Ken is a man of the arts. He draws, he plays music and he writes stories.
Then Joe and I were due for our usual leisurely Sunday morning breakfast -- where we mostly discuss politics
Monday, November 7, 2016
This evening was the inaugural meeting of the The meatloaf appreciation society -- on my verandah.
Paul and I are connoisseurs of meatloaves but our favourite one has long ceased to be available. So when I came across one in Aldi that was pretty close to the legendary one I put one in my freezer against the day when I could share it with Paul -- who usually lives in Scotland these days.
But Paul is back in Brisbane for a few days so I shared my treasured meatloaf with him tonight. It was a great hit with him and I of course liked it too. My inexpert cookery did not manage to ruin it.
Jenny and Joe were also present so I proclaimed today as the inaugural meeting of the The meatloaf appreciation society. Our next meeting will be the next time Paul is in Brisbane. We should have rounded up another good meatloaf by then.
Rather to my amusement, Paul did his usual vacuum-cleaner performance. Both Paul and his father are renowned for that. As I think most housewives will tell you, they like to see the dinner they put out eaten up. There is no fear about that when either Paul or Ken are around. In tonight's example, I had provided both an appetizer and a big Greek salad to go with the meatloaf. That all vanished in the course of the evening, including ALL the many cracker biscuits I put out with the appetizer. And when Joe did not finish all of his meatloaf -- probably out of waistline considerations -- Paul finished that off too. And he was ready for the dessert when that arrived too. Fun!
The little lady was overtired so went to sleep on my bed. She was offered a bed in my guest room but rejected that. She chose the room where male pheromones were strongest. Again the perfect Lady already at age 3. I predict a great future for her.
Sunday, November 6, 2016
I didn't do anything much on Friday night but on Saturday night I put on a dinner for an old Army friend, Rod H., who was my Sergeant Major in my Army days. And Rod was a born sergeant major, nearly 6' tall with a deep strong voice he could command any army parade like a natural -- because he is a natural.
Sadly, however, he didn't stay in the Army, on the grounds that he didn't think much would be happening in the peacetime army. He guessed wrongly there, though, as the Australian army has been deployed in all sorts of places ever since -- mainly in peacekeeping roles but also involved in a few hot wars -- Afghanistan, Iraq etc. If Rod had stayed in he would have been a Colonel by now, which is a real distinction.
Anyway, we have kept up contact in a very desultory way ever since so I thought it was time to do a proper get-together. I shouted him and his lady a dinner at the newest Chinese restaurant near me. The food was good but the communication with the staff was very fragile. I am inclined to think that one of the waitresses knew as much English as I know Chinese!
Rod brought along his lady, named Michelle. She was a very jolly person which helped entertain us all. She and Anne got on very well too. Rod and I did to some extent lapse into the convention that the women talk and the men listen. I don't know what the feminists would make out of that! We old Army bods would be non-persons to them anyway, I guess.
Rod and I talked to some degree on Army matters but we mainly exchanged reminscences and stories from our past generally. But the conversation flowed, making it a very good night.
We finished with coffee and chocky bikkies on my verandah.
And on Sunday night I cooked a dinner for Sandy and myself. My idea of cooking is to heat something up but there is a lot on offer for that purpose in Woolworths. On this occasion I bought a set of pork porterhouse steaks with garlic and herbs -- and it turned out quite well.
Sandy and I talked mainly about her personal matters and about her late parents, who were both good friends of mine.
After dinner we listed to a disc of operatic arias sung by Caruso -- music that was a great favourite of her late father.
Friday, November 4, 2016
In late August, Anne told me she had found another bloke. In response I said that I had obviously not been meeting her needs so I was to blame for her defection and I would try to treat her better in future. It was a typical Dale Carnegie thing to say but I am proud of saying what I mean and meaning what I say so that was in fact my conclusion. So there was no acrimony and we remained on amicable terms and continued to see something of one another.
Forming new relationships between people in their 70s is a most unlikely exercise so I was 99% certain that Mr. New would soon blot his copybook and be given his marching orders. That happened at the end of October. And Anne then came straight over to me and we have been living happily ever after! LOL!
And that was in some evidence this week. Anne and I dined on bacon chops (Yummy!) on Wednesday night on my verandah and on Thursday night we went to a small sausage BBQ arranged by Jenny so that I could greet Paul after his arrival from Scotland the previous night. It was great to see him again and we talked away as we usually do -- about politics and much else. Anne and Jenny talked a lot to one another too. Both Paul and Jenny are big talkers but that suits me as I am not. So something I was glad to see was that Nanna got a word in fairly often. She is much more confident now she is in her 90s.
In the past Anne and I usually dined together twice a week as we both had other interests to keep us busy. So by dining together on two nights consecutively this week we were definitely back on our old footing. And this Saturday she will accompany me to a small dinner I am hosting for an old Army friend. So we have gone from strength to strength.
And this morning, Paul and little 3-year-old Elise joined me for brunch. What fun that was! I had heard what a little lady Elise was and how she was a Daddy's Girl but she exceeded my expectations by far.
For a start, as soon as she got out of the car she would go no further until she had her sunglasses on and her gold handbag slung over her shoulder. And then she walked in a very sedate way to where we were going: No leaping or skipping about -- just a dignified walk. What a gal at age 3!
In the restaurant, she wanted various things from time to time, looked to Paul for them out of the dark pools of her eyes -- and Paul immediately jumped to give her what she wanted. And on some such occasions, she would give a little smile of satisfaction when she got what she wanted. She was a complete little princess.
The dark-eyed lady
Paul tells me that Susan gets a bit tired of her ladylike ways at times but it is quite apparent that Elise now is what she always will be. And she will always have a father who understands and enjoys what she is. I would be the same with her. I got on very well with another little lady once.
Some would of course call her a spoilt child but both Paul and I understand Daddy's Girls so we know that a bit of spoiling is part of that relationship. Elise wasn't vocally demanding: Nothing like any tantrums. Just a quietly expressed wish got her what she wanted -- as befits a lady. She is gorgeous and will go far. The other little lady in the family -- Von -- has certainly done very well. Among other things, Von always wanted a man who would do all the cooking -- and Simon does. Being a Lady is a powerful thing, much as feminists would rage at that.
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
As I usually do, I watched the Melbourne Cup. It's always a great occasion. Most people watch it at work or at some gala so I sometimes don't have company when I watch it at home. This year, however, Kate was at home so we watched it together. I made her a Martini (stirred, not shaken) to thank her for having me in. She seemed to like it. But she didn't eat her olive!
Both Jenny and Anne put me in a couple of sweeps but none of them got up. Early in the race I had three placegetters but that soon evaporated. But it was, as it often is, a very exciting race with the winner coming from behind and still winning by a nose. The horse, Almandin, was German-trained and owned by Melbourne identity Lloyd Williams
I always check who won the Fashions on the Field. Of all the world's fashion parades that is the only one which rewards wearable outfits, in my opinion. And it was quite a surprise to see that both the winner and the runner-up were sisters from NZ. I certainly don't think of NZ being a fashion Mecca but I know nothing about fashion anyway. There's the winner below: Olivia Moor. The hat is a bit much but it's a sensible outfit otherwise. Her sister's hat was much more extreme so I suspect she may have won by a hat!
Friday, October 28, 2016
Viktoria with her husband -- in his dreadful shiny blue jacket
A close-up of the hair
I have just finished watching my DVD of "Viktoria und ihr Husar" for the second time. It was written well outside the Golden Era of Operetta so I did not expect it to be of the same standard, and it was not. Both the libretto and the music disappointed to some extent. The composer, Paul Abraham, did apparently get some acclaim in his day but seems to be forgotten now, for good reason, I think. I had certainly never heard from him. To me, none of the songs were memorable.
So why did Dagmar Schellenberger decide to put it on at Moerbisch? I would say that she put it on just as a piece of light entertainment. The plot was so corny that it could not have been much else. So the show was, at a rough estimate 90%singing and dancing and capering around, all done very colorfully. So I imagine that the audience would have appreciated the ever-changing colorful scenes that flitted before them.
Some writers have described the show as a "Revue operetta", meaning that the story was just a small framework around a whole series of light sketches. It is that. So if that is what the audiences expected, they got it.
I wonder a little what the costume dept. was up to. The "American" was presented in some weird get-ups. The shiny blue jacket he wore in the early part of the show was was quite revolting and I have never seen anything like some of his later ensembles on any live American. Possibly they have absorbed the British stereotype of Americans, that they dress in a tastelessly flashy way.
Americans do tend to dress more colorfully than the English but the costume dept. seems to have let their imaginations rule the day here. Mind you, when a deplored minority of the English get into their shell-suits, anything goes -- so the Moerbisch designers may have been aware of that.
A shell suit
At the risk of extreme ungallantry I note that it is some time since Dagmar was in her 20s. So it is amazing what stage makeup, stage lighting and careful cinematography can do. I note that there was not much in the way of close-ups on her this time. But she was as sprightly as ever, running around the set with great energy. She even drove off on the motorbike. The singing was not very demanding vocally but she managed to pump out some big notes here and there.
That she took the leading role for herself was no great surprise. Her predecessor at Moerbisch, Harald Serafin, also usually cast himself in major roles in his own productions.
I have not yet been able to find much in the way of reviews of the show but, as a revue, I imagine it was a great success. I have never enjoyed revues so my limited appreciation of this one should not be read as a general criticism.
Viktoria (Dagmar) finally gets her Hussar
Aren't those Hungarian costumes gorgeous!
Monday, October 24, 2016
I have of course over the years heard many renditions of "O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini. It would go close to being Puccini's best aria. So I was pleased to see two versions of it by Netrebko. And I think she is the best yet at it in my judgment.
But that's not the end of it. She did another version of it that is now online. I suspect she is a little older in this version. It is however a bit hard to tell. She was fairly informally presented in the first version, with very little makeup on. In this version, however she has the full slap on. It does look very elegant and romantic.
It's interesting that Netrebko looks quite Italian in this performance. Since the whole song is set in Firenze (Florence) -- with references to the Ponte Vecchio, the Arno etc -- that is very appropriate. Netrebko is from Southern Russia -- Cossack country -- so she probably comes from a latitude nearly as Southerly as Firenze.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
On Saturday night I arranged a dinner for Sandi to meet Jenny. Sandi is the daughter of Joyce -- and Jenny knew Joyce from age 17 on -- so Sandi was keen to hear some history about her late mother.
We had the dinner on my verandah so Jenny came over early and cooked us up a gluten-free lasagna. Fortunately, Jenny is a keen cook so she can make even gluten-free food taste good.
Jenny and Sandi hit it off together immediately so there were many stories told. I mainly supplied a bottle of my favourite Tyrrells Verdelho.
Then on Sunday I was again social. Joe and I had our usual Sunday brunch at the nearby pieshop and then Joe drove us over to Suz & Russ's place to deliver presents to Dusty, whose birthday it was. He was already swamped with presents but no matter. That's the way of it these days. One of the things I gave him was a plastic trumpet, on the grounds that all boys should have a trumpet. It was however a very quiet trumpet. He liked it, though.
I got into quite a long discussion with Russ about matters connected to his work -- refrigerants, occupational licensing, trade training etc.
I also had a good chat to Suz, reminiscing about when she and Von were kids and teeners. I asked her why she had been such a grouch when she was a teen. She said it was just teenage hormones and rebellion. I used to call her Lady Fun when she was a kid and in her post-teen years she has resumed that happy disposition.
Joe played a Pokemon game with Sahara. We left around noon.
Monday, October 17, 2016
Two or three months ago I began a fairly frequent email conversation with GR, a reader of my blogs. He found that my observations closely reflected his own so was interested in sharing his experiences as confirmatory of what I write. We are both fascinated by the psychology of the Left. He works in a social work context so has seen a lot of them and their hypocrisies close up.
After a very good correspondence had developed, he decided to come up and see me. He lives in Victoria. I don't normally encourage visitors whom I don't already know as my degree of deafness can make conversation difficult. This was however clearly an exception and, as it turns out, GR has a loudish voice that I could hear quite well.
The visit went well but, out of caution, I had arranged only for us to have a brunch together -- so the visit was rather brief. In the circumstances, I felt that I should arrange a longer visit with me shouting the airfares next time. That happened this weekend. GR arrived via the Airtrain just after 10am on Saturday so I drove us both directly to the Buranda shopping centre and my usual brunching place. My usual place was very busy at that time, however, so we went to the Japs instead and had some excellent Chicken Teriyaki Don.
We then adjourned to my place and continued the discussions -- interrupted by both of us having a mid-afternoon nap. I have a guest room so that was no problem.
We spent most of our talking time on my verandah, a place that gets a lot of praise for its breezes, outlook etc. And we do see wildlife in the mulberry tree in front of it. On this occasion we watched a pair of Australasian Figbirds feeding on the mulberries.
We discussed the Trump phenomenon and the widening of the Overton Window.
GR spoke on symbolism in the 23rd psalm.
We talked about the nature of money, about how there will always be a need for services, and about economies being self tightening like a tablecloth with weights on it.
I had my little joke about my art "Installation" (A vise clamped onto my writing desk)
I mentioned the contrast between vicious and virtuous cycles in interpersonal relationships.
And we spoke about anger never feels itself to be in the wrong, but always feels itself to be in the right and that is why the habitual anger of the Leftist is hard to give up, because wanting to feel/be right is naturally part of human nature -- from the basic physical survival drive, through intellect and moral issues we like to be right. And leftism has a very strong anger component, at society/reality, at how things are, so leftism always feels itself to be in the right.
For dinner I cooked us a "Tandaco one-pan dinner". It was just mincemeat and noodles basically but an all important "flavour sachet" was included -- turning the meal into quite a good one.
Later that night I played GR some Bach via Youtube, which he was interested to understand.
Next morning I gave him a light breakfast and had a cup of tea with him. I have a customary Sunday Brunch with Joe from about 9:30am each Sunday so while that was going on GR went to church. He is a Christian but is not much fussed about the denomination, which is common these days. So he went to Holy Trinity Anglican, which is nearby to me.
In my experience the Rev. Paschke is not much of a preacher but GR liked his sermon. It was based on Luke 18:
"He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[a] thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
I like that scripture too and believe that it forms part of my values. GR saw the Pharisees there as directly analogous to the modern-day Left, who think that they know it all and are confident in their own righteousness. So it is no wonder that Leftists hate Christianity. Christ condemned them. Leftists much prefer the arrogant religion of Mohammed. So we discussed that at some length.
For lunch, I heated up a couple of pies. Then GR had to get a move on to make sure he first caught the Airtrain and then his flight. There is an Airtrain station just a couple of minutes drive from me so it makes sense to use it.
Friday, October 14, 2016
I have some vague pretensions to being a cook these days. I get ready-prepared meals from Woolworths or Aldi and just heat them up. But Woolworths and Aldi have good chefs so I think I mostly serve up pretty good food. But even in that humble role I was this week "relegated", if I understand that sporting term aright.
I had some Kassler chops (smoked pork chops done the way they do them in Kassel, a German city) so asked Anne over to share them with me on Wednesday. I thought I had done rather well preparing some horse doovers and a pickle collation in advance. Germans eat a lot of pickles. And I also cut up a couple of onions and fried them. But as soon as Anne arrived, she took over cooking of the smoked pork and did things that didn't seem to correspond to the instructions on the packet. But in deference to her great culinary experience, I left her to it and just hovered in the background. And she got the smoked pork just right in the end. And she also brought over a potato bake that went well. So we had a great dinner, albeit with more food than we could eat. My pickle collation was rather underused so it went back into the fridge. So I was glad to be relegated
And then the next night I invited Jenny over to share a gluten-free feast. I had acquired a variety of gluten free products and was interested to see if they were any good. We started with a guacamole dip and went onto the main dish of pork sausages. I started out cooking the snags but Jenny also took over there. So once again my feeble culinary skills were sidelined. But Jenny got the snags just right so we again did well. I also trotted out the pickle collation and we got near to finishing it that time. I had the rest for a late-night snack. My third and fourth courses were not needed. Again we had too much food.
So I was lucky to be in the presence of two most accomplished cooks. My own feeble skills were rightly bypassed.
I suspect that when a man offers to cook a dinner for a lady he might often end up with the lady doing most of the work. He has just got to look feeble and the lady steps in to save the dinner from disaster!
Monday, October 10, 2016
I have on a number of occasions on the past put on a party late in the year in my backyard with the theme being "Pizza and champagne". I shout the pizza and champage for all. For one reason or another, I have not done it recently, mainly because two families who used to come now live far away -- one in Scotland and one in the Shaky Isles.
But at short notice it occurred to me that I should do it again while Von & Co. are here. We decided to have it at Jenny's place, which limited the guest list a bit but I made sure to get George along, as I always do. Jenny sent out the invites and also ordered the pizza. That way she could get a gluten-free pizza that she was happy with. I brought along three bottles of Seaview Brut -- which people always seem to like -- but only two were opened.
There were ten people present, including Joe and Kate -- plus the three kids. When Joe arrived he was grabbed by the kids even before he could get though the door. So Kate was left standing outside for a bit while Joe fended off his young admirers. He plays rough games with them, which they can't get enough of. The mothers of the kids concerned are not worried about what Joe does -- for the excellent reason that I used to play the same sort of games with them when they were kids. Generational succession!
George was in great form. He entertained the kids with nursery rhymes -- little Miss Muffett etc. But George acted the rhymes out so he had the kids all sitting enthralled in front of him. The bit about the spider coming down was infinitely popular. George had to do that bit over and over again.
George also spent a bit of time with Anne and she later commented how she could always have an interesting conversation with him. He and I talked a bit about the way the media present Aborigines. George was disgusted that everything is said to be our fault rather than the fault of the Aborigines themselves. I heartily agreed.
At my request, Von dressed Hannah in her little red Gingham dress and Von herself wore one of her long skirts. Such skirts look very good on her in my opinion. The one she wore was a 3-tier skirt, which I last remember as being fashionable about 30 years ago. But I liked that fashion at the time so that is probably another instance where Von and I see eye to eye. Von was born glamorous so doesn't need to spend much money on clothes. She tells me she spends more on clothes for her daughter than clothes for herself
I have always spoken of Suz as having a good heart and I have now become a beneficiary of it! She has noticed that I am a bit doddery these days so does small things to help me -- like standing up to offer me her seat. She has got her mother's good heart 100%.
Jenny was aware that there have been some difficulties beween Anne and myself recently so Anne wondered how welcome Jenny would make her. I told her not to worry and, in the event, Jenny was particularly welcoming to Anne, which really touched Anne.
We had the pizza in the BBQ area out the back of Jenny's place, where the kids could run around like mad things, which they proceeded to do. Russ was not present because of work demands.
Then on Sunday we had a lunchtime BBQ at Jenny's place, with Jenny cooking sausages, kebabs etc. George sent his apologies and Anne had another engagement but my brother came and Russ came. Kate was busy working on her thesis for her M.A. So we would have had similar numbers to Friday.
Simon did up a quantity of his NZ cheese sandwiches and there were some good Dim Sims too. We had another bottle of Champagne plus a bottle of Houghton's white that Jenny particularly likes. With so many good things, I rather overate but still had room for a couple of small pieces of cold watermelon at the end.
Joe was pretty quiet until he got up and played with the kids. Then he ran around like a mad thing too!
Nanna also took charge of a couple of games for the kids. She in fact got around a fair bit. She helped clean up at the end of proceedings too. It was great to see a 92 year old lady still making herself useful. Since most people present shared some of her genes it must have been a great source of hope for a good old age.
At one stage someone mentioned Aborigines. My brother is married to a lady with some Aboriginal ancestry. But practically everyone chimed in to say that Aborigines are mostly a pretty hopeless lot and need to stand on their own two feet more. There were of course several Pauline Hanson supporters present.
My brother noted the red Gingham dress that Hannah was wearing and said she looked like a tablecloth in an Italian restaurant. Neither he nor I are big on tact!
I mostly talked to Simon and my brother but I spent most of my time watching the kids, which is always a great pleasure to me.
At one stage we revisited a lot of the old family stories -- about Suz being denied a cream bun, about me getting her drunk at the time of Joe's birth and about Von telling me that I couldn't have her hair! -- etc. The old stories are the best stories. Always good for a laugh.
I subsequently remembered a couple of stories I should have told -- about Von telling me she was cold -- what a fool I was there! -- and when Suz had lost her "Pacer" (propelling pencil).
Thursday, October 6, 2016
I have posted previously on my quest for the perfect meatloaf. So I was pleased to see in Woolworths a Jamie Oliver beef meatloaf. Definitely worth a try. Anne came over to share it and I served it with my basic salad and toast. My basic salad had tomato, cucumber, avocado, olives and Feta but no onions, lettuce or dressing.
We both thought the meatloaf was quite good, though Anne prefers the one she makes and I prefer the one I got from Aldi. To welcome Anne over, I put a couple of bunches of flowers in her room to greet her when she arrived -- mainly red and yellow roses. They were a MUCH bigger hit than the meatloaf. When Anne got home next day she photographed them and sent me the picture. See below:
For breakfast next morning I took Anne to a place called "Medley" at the end of Wharf St., Kangaroo Pt. It is right beside the Brisbane River and seems pretty trendy. I ordered the Shakshuka in order to find out what it was. It seemed to comprise mainly tomato, beans and chick peas plus two poached eggs. It was served as a sort of soup in a very hot cast iron dish. It tasted quite good but it was too soupy for me. Anne had an avocado & Feta dish. It was at any event a pleasant location, but you do of course pay for that.
Sunday, October 2, 2016
Von & Co. joined me for Friday brunch. I took them to the Caffe di Moda at Stones corner. I ordered my personal version of the lamb salad, Von had the regular version and Simon had a bacon & egg meal with various trimmings. Hannah had chicken nuggets with chips.
Von and I covered a lot of ground with reminiscences and family discussions and it was a pleasure to see that we still see eye to eye on a lot of things. Von remarked that she likes Kate so she gives Joe permission to marry her. It was a joke of course but like a lot of jokes it had something real in it. Von's judgment is greatly respected in the family so if she had been critical of Kate it would have caused concern. Her approval does mean something.
So we agreed that Joe is getting a good deal with Kate. I added to that by saying: "Kate is getting a good deal too. Joe is tall and well-built and that is 95% of it for most women". Von simply replied: "It is". Von is a born psychologist. She has been closely observing people and thinking about them since she was a little kid.
I spent a bit of time playing silly games with Hannah, just as I used to play with Von when she was that age. Hannah was certainly ready for fun. She initiated a lot of the play. She is quite a fun kid, actually.
Then for Saturday lunch we went to our usual dosa place. We always go there when Von comes over. Jenny joined us but Joe was down in Sydney and Suz already had something on that night. Von had dressed Hannah in a pretty little red Gingham dress.
We once again mentioned my favorite story of Von getting into my bed when she was a little girl. I have often told that tale so it was interesting that Von for the first time gave her reminiscences of it. She remembers it well, including how she felt at the time
After dosas we went back to my place for tea and coffee -- helped down by a packet of Afghans that Von had brought over from NZ. I really enjoyed talking to Von. She is so sensible and cheerful. And after that we got my old Amiga computer going so Hannah could play some of the old games
I mentioned that Von and I used to get around together at that time without a word being spoken. We understood one-another well enough so that we didn't need to talk to enjoy one-another's company. Simon is very quiet so I told him that I had prepared Von for him by giving her the experience that much talk was not needed to get on well. Von chats quite well these days, though. She is her mother's daughter after all.
Then on Sunday Suz and Russ hosted the whole family for a lunch. Jenny drove me out there as I don't fancy that long drive much these days.
They served up a nice mild curry. Kenneth was there so we discussed his book and his invitation to Government house. Ken is now The Author. Anne has asked for a copy of his book so we arranged that. And Maureen had brought along one of her excellent Pavlovas. I really like Pavlovas so I congratulated Maureen on it.
The kids all played well together -- loudly, of course. And they discovered Dan at one stage so climbed all over him in search of fun -- which Dan delivered. Walking around with a kid slung over each shoulder is great fun for the kids concerned.
And when I got home, I finished up the afternoon with a good nap.
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Haggises are of course always a memorable event and when they come with tablet, it is a bonus. Most people think tablet must have something to do with pharmacies but Scots know better. Tablet is a great favourite in Scotland. It's available just about everywhere. It is basically fudge minus the cocoa. It really does melt in your mouth.
So when Anne bought a haggis recently, she bought some tablet to go with it. And she bought both over to my place last night. So we had a haggis dinner. After many years of cooking it, Anne has become an old hand at cooking haggis and I think the haggis I had last night was the best yet.
And Anne went the full hog and cooked tatties and neeps to go with it. She is famous for her neeps. She knows how much I like cabbage so she did some of that too -- cooked in cream! Very yummy. I ate the cabbage first. Health freaks would scream!
We had it with Tyrrells Verdelho, as usual. And we had the tablet with a cup of tea afterwards. So it was a pretty Scottish night. I didn't get into Highland dress for the occasion but I did don a white shirt as a token of "Dressing for dinner".
Anne stayed overnight so this morning I took her to the cafe at the "Cottage Garden" plant nursery in Coorparoo. It is a bit on the trendy side but a pleasant venue anyway, with lots of greenery around, as you would expect. We had their breakfast special, which was huge but very tasty.
The two breakfasts plus coffee cost me just over $50, for anybody who might be weighing up whether or not to go there. The service was very slow, even though we arrived just after 9:30am, which is usually a quiet time at most places. The coffee was good, though.
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Von & Co. arrived late on Saturday night so I put on a family dinner at the Bollywood so that we could all catch up with her. The Bollywood has hosted so many dinners for us that it is part of "home". The owner has grown a beard but is otherwise the usual cheerful host. As a Sikh, he SHOULD have a beard.
We had 13 adults there plus kids. I booked for 12 on a guess so that worked out well. Getting RSVP replies is always patchy so I have to guess. I made a point of ensuring that George got an invite, as I always do. And that worked well too. George was in great form.
Kate and Von seemed to get on well and I think I know why. Both are real ladies. Kate is always very careful of her self-presentation (makeup, dress) so that fits. And as we all know, I have been referring to Von as "Lady Von" since she was 5. From what we hear of Elise, she is already a complete lady too -- at age 3. The fact that she has a gorgeous and very feminine mother may have something to do with that. It will be great to see Elise in November. Feminists greet the thought of someone being a lady with horror, but the men don't. So who's the winner there?
Maureen got Tim along, which was good to see. Maureen spent a lot of time with the littlies. She was always devoted to her boys when they were growing up so she obviously misses having little ones around.
Joe didn't say much but seemed to enjoy the occasion in his own quiet way. He talks 19 to the dozen with Brenton but they are both computer programmers so have things in common that even baffle me -- and I WAS a computer programmer in the good ol' days. But Joe does talk to me a fair bit when he is in the mood. I hear quite a lot of his thinking.
Ken was his usual interesting self. He has an enquiring mind, which leads well into conversation. He talked a bit about his literary endeavours and he mentioned that he gives away copies of the novel he has written. So if you have not got one, you can now go for it.
Both he and George were scornful of this "cultural appropriation" fad which seems to have become very pervasive. Everybody adopts lots of our Anglo-Saxon culture so why should we not use bits of various native cultures at times? I suppose that we use Sombreros, Indian head-dresses and the like for entertainment, while others adopt our usages in deadly seriousness. But what's harmful about entertainment? The new Puritans of the Left seem to be comprehensively against humour. Joe and I laugh our way through the day so it fits that we are not Leftists.
The littlies ran around like mad things, which I like to see. They get such enjoyment out of simple things. The restaurant mostly has a takeaway trade so there was mostly no-one else in the restaurant to be bothered by them. A family dinner NEEDS shrieking kids to be a proper family dinner, in my view. I was particularly pleased to see how well Hannah got on with her cousins.
I supplied some bottles of Seaview "champagne", as I usually do but everyone was very sparing about drinking it. None of us need to drink to have a good time and it was in fact a great night.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
From Giuditta (Judith) by Franz Lehar
I know this song well in a performance by the gorgeous Natalia Ushakova. Ushakova is good but she can't beat the passion Netrebko puts into this performance. The singer is supposed to be half-mad and Netrebko conveys that
Netrebko seems in fact to be particularly associated with that aria. She has certainly recorded it often. And like the great thespian she is, she has done it in a number of ways. With the Proms performance being particularly jolly. But the above performance is truest to the plot of the operetta.
And I know what she likes about that aria. It gives her great opportunity to show what she can do. Grand opera is very boring. People are either dying or about to die. In Carmen he kills his lover and in Aida the lovers get immured. How ghastly! But it is much jollier in operatta. Guiditta is undoubtedly the darkest of the operettas but in the end the reunited lovers just acknowledge one another and go their separate ways. So this aria gives Netrebko scope to show what she can do. It allows all sorts of expression -- which she delivers brilliantly.
When? When and where was the aria recorded? It was recorded on 7 July 2006 in a grand concert with Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon at the Waldbühne ("Forest Stage") near Berlin -- before a huge audience of 20,000. Germans like their music and this aria was after all in German.
Friday, September 16, 2016
Anne has been in the grip of a nasty winter wog for over a week. Her heroic sister June has been supplying her with chicken soup and savoury mince with complete disregard for her own health but she is a former nurse so nurses are like that.
Anyway, as Anne was fighting her way out of the worse effects of the wog, I realized that she had been rather housebound and would like an outing. So I tempted her with an offer of fish n chips on my verandah.
That may not seem like an offer for the ages but both Anne and I have enough English in us to be great fans of good fish n chips. And I do have a fish shop near me that is spot on.
And my verandah might seem rather humble but it is mostly open to the outdoors, has a vigorous Mulberry tree in front of it and gets good breezes. And it has wildlife in it -- possums mainly. But last night was a real highpoint. Anne actually saw a fruit bat in the Mulberry tree. But most people reading this will probably know from experience that my verandash has its merits
So anyway the deed was done last night and we dined well -- accompanied as usual by the excellent Tyrrells Verdelho. But what to have as dessert? I had a couple of offerings but one thing I had was Darrell Lea coconut ice, very traditional. Anne went for that.
We reluctantly agreed that with her woggy state we should not kiss but other actions were allowed of course. What's a four-letter word meaning intercourse? You think you know don't you? Well I will tell you. The word is "talk". Couldn't resist that old joke.
Anyway, after dinner we listened to music, as is our wont. We heard some good Schumann and Brahms piano music but the highlight was a recent performance of the Pergolesi "Stabat Mater": One of the greatest pieces of religious music ever written. It was amazingly good and got through fully to both of us.
And I gave Anne some of the coconut ice to put in her purse and take home. So it was a great night.
Monday, September 12, 2016
The two things above are not related but they are alliterated
I took Sandy to dinner at a nearby Chinese restaurant last night. As she is the daughter of two deceased people I was very fond of, it was unsurprising that we got on well. She has inherited her father's love of classical music too. So we arranged to dine together again from time to time. I have always regretted not having a daughter and she has lost her father so we decided, half seriously that from now on she would be my daughter and I will be her father.
When I went into the bathroom at my place this morning I saw out of the window the dog next door relaxing quite close to where I was. So I woofed at him. He looked up, saw it was me and put his head down with a very disgusted look. Dogs and people are good at interpreting one another's feelings but I have never before seen a dog do such a clear expression of disgust. He was right to be disgusted, of course.
Sunday, September 4, 2016
It was Fathers' Day today so Joe asked me what I wanted for it. After some deliberation, I replied that I wanted him and Kate to cook me a dinner for us to have on the front verandah. So they cooked me a very nice dish of Spaghetti Bolognaise followed by Profiteroles for dessert. The Profiteroles were very chocolatey so Joe polished off what was left in the dish once they were eaten.
I spent most of the time telling Kate about events in the family when Joe and Timmy were young. I also told her about what a little lady 3-year-old Elise is and how she and Paul have a very strong "Daddy's Girl" relationship. I pointed out how Von too was a born lady and how well that has worked out -- with Von leading just about her ideal life in a small NZ country town. So it's a fair bet that Elise will do well too.
So it was a good Fathers' Day.
Thursday, September 1, 2016
Anne and I had a last supper last night. It was the 11th anniversary of us meeting and we had our favourite dinner -- lamb cutlets with salad, bread and red wine. It was meant to be a farewell dinner to our relationship but it was not at all sad. It was great night, actually.
It's not really a last supper as we will still be seeing one another periodically. We are both happy with that.
What sent Anne and me apart is my declining energies as I got older. These days all I want to do is sit in front of my computer all day, whereas Anne still wants get out doing things and going places. Perfectly reasonable.
The new lady I had in my life didn't last long but I have a couple of other possibilities in mind. I even got a message from an Ekaterina -- a beautiful Russian lady. But it turned out that she still lives in Russia -- which was no good to me. Interesting, though.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Anne has found someone who suits her better than I do. After an 11 year relationship that was a bit of a surprise but it shows what a juicy lady Anne is -- to get herself a new bloke whilst in her 70s. There were some things important to Anne that I just could not give her. We still have warm feelings for one-another but will no longer be seeing one another regularly for the foreseeable future. It is best for both of us to put our energies into our new relationships.
My new lady, D., is not an academic type but is bright nonetheless. She owns and manages her own small shopping centre. You have got to be both bright and tough to do that. I also, of course, have real estate interests so that is helpful.
She is a widow so that is rather good. Divorcees tend to be always keeping an eye out for a better offer whereas widows just want committment, usually. I have twice given unwavering committment -- to Jenny and to Anne -- so I am capable of it, even though it has not been reciprocated so far.
Unwavering committment means intending to stay together until parted by death.
Thursday, August 25, 2016
I rarely remark on my plastic surgeries to remove skin cancers. There are so many of them. But one I have just been through had me pretty anxious about it. It was in the aftermath of an excision that was unsuccessful. There was originally this tiny lump near my right nostril that I realized from long experience was probably a "bad 'un". The surgeon cut it out but the pathology report came back to say "incompletely excised". The report suggested that the tumor was aggressive and had spread both widely and deeply. So to get it all, a rather nasty hole in my face seemed needed.
I hate having my face sliced up and I hate anything affecting my nose so I was pretty tense as soon as I knew what was ahead. What was ahead was a Moh's procedure -- where the surgeon cuts out what he thinks is needed and then promptly puts the specimen under the microscope to see if the cut had got it all. If not, there is a second cut.
Mohs can be done as an in-office procedure at a suitably equipped surgery but this looked like being a pesky one so I arranged for it to be done in a private hospital. And last Tuesday was the day. I was first on the list at 1:30pm and did not get out until 7:30 pm. During that time I was on the operating table four times -- 3 to get all the bad bits and a 4th time to put my face back together. There was a hole in my lower face about the size of a 10c piece to be patched up. I don't know how the surgeon did it but he somehow did get it all covered up. He is quite brilliant. So my face will be back to normal as soon as the stitches come out.
The drama was not over, however. Next day I had a lot of facial swelling, which indicated that a bacterial infection had got into the wound. On some past occasions like that I have had to be admitted to hospital and be put onto a Vancomycin drip to deal with it. With the benefit of experience, however, I promptly put myself on a high dose of clindamycin -- two capsules every 6 hours. And it worked! By next morning the swelling had reduced.
So I have come out the end of all that completely fixed up without too much trauma and am once again feeling on top of the world!
Sunday, August 14, 2016
I came across a new video of a great favourite -- Pergolesi's "Stabat Mater" just recently. It is the best rendition I have heard and I have heard many. See and hear below:
The way the soprano threw herself into it was truly impressive. Never has "pertansivit gladius" been sung with greater passion. Sadly, whoever put the video up gave no information about it. So I had to do a bit of digging to find out all about it. But I did in the end find this:
"Accompanied by the French musical ensemble Les Talens Lyriques, Spanish soprano Sabina Puértolas and American mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux perform Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. It is composed in 1736, in the final weeks of Pergolesi’s short life (4 January 1710 – 16 March 1736), and scored for soprano and alto soloists, violin I and II, viola and basso continuo (cello and organ). Conductor: Christophe Rousset"
The performance seems to have been in April this year. In Spain, Ms Puértolas is not Spanish. She is Aragonese (from Aragon, ancient Aragon). There is an artistic history of her here, which shows her as a very busy singer -- so she is obviously widely appreciated. I tried to find out some personal history, even trawling through the notices in Italian, but could not find a thing.
I may have to take more notice of Spanish singers. I was greatly impressed by the performance of Evelyn Ramirez Munoz as the divine voice in the premiere version of Falvetti's "Il Diluvio universale". Munoz is a Spanish surname so I assume Ms Munoz is Spanish but you can never be sure these days. Argentinian? See below:
I note that there is another rendering of the Falvetti just out and she seems to have grabbed her old role in the latest version as well. See below. She is the lady in black.
I guess that by Northern European standards she over-acts but in singing a work from Sicily, what the hell?
Friday, August 12, 2016
I had a rather bad week with a heavy cold but by Friday morning I was just about right again. And that was just in time for a visitor up from Melbourne. He is a psychologist like me who also takes an interest in politics. He and I have corresponded about the psychology of Leftist politics in a rather desultory manner for some time now. And I was very impressed by the depth of his insights. And he finds my analyses pretty spot-on too. So he finally decided to come up and see me. We arranged to have lunch together.
Because I am a bit deaf, I don't normally go in much for such meetings but his thinking seemed well worth an effort to communicate in person.
And he actually told me some things about myself that I had been aware of but which I had tended to ignore. One thing was that in my blogging I tended to speak quite harshly of people I disagree with and that I could therefore come across an an angry person. He was of course quite right. Joe once told me the same. Since I am in fact a very cheerful person who virtually NEVER gets angry and who laughs his way through the day, that impression is a bit unfortunate. I will have to see what I can do to correct the misimpression.
He had some comfort for me, however. He said that although my writing is harsh, he could always see a kind heart behind it and meeting me in person had confirmed the kind heart. So the psychologist was psychologized! I actually put a lot of little jokes in my writings but they may be a bit on the subtle side. I do wonder at times if anybody gets them.
So that was an unexpected lunch topic. I thought we would be talking mainly about politics -- global warming and all that sort of thing. And we did have a few laughs about the poor old Warmists and their inability to debate. But mostly we talked about personal things. And one of them was a most unusual thing.
I am a great fan of Yuja Wang as a classical pianist. I think she is the world's best. And G., my visitor, shared that feeling. He was even familiar with her interpretations of Schubert Lieder, which I particularly love. So a quite unexpected meeting of minds there. We are both filled with wonder at the emotional rightness of her interpretations.
That a Chinese lady from Beijing would have such depth of perception of a rather arcane Western artform seems incredible on the face it of but Yuja Wang IS incredible. G. and I even had in mind a couple of Lied interpretations that we both particularly liked: "Gretchen am Spinnrade" and "Der Erlkoenig".
There were other meetings of minds over lunch but those were the two big ones, I think. It was certainly a very rare sort of meeting in my experience.
Saturday, August 6, 2016
Below is what I had for my supper tonight. It said on the packet to bake them for 10-20 minutes -- which was a bit vague. So I cooked them for 15 minutes. They were however not very puffy so I should have cooked them for 20 minutes.
I had them with sliced pickled cucumbers and green tomato relish
Monday, August 1, 2016
It was her 92nd but she was still mentally all there and could even get up and down a long flight of steps. An example to us all!
We had the celebration yesterday -- a Sunday buffet lunch in the BBQ area at the back of Jenny's place. I gave Nanna a handbag! Jenny selected it so Nanna might like it.
Jenny put on a wealth of sandwiches and such things and I really bogged into the ham sandwiches. Yet there were still sandwiches left at the end! Suz and family were there as were Joe and Kate, plus Anne and me. Joe didn't say a lot, which is usual for him at family occasions. He talks up a storm with his friend Brenton, however, so it obviously depends on the degree of common interests. Anne had a big chat with Russ. Anne is good at chats. I contented myself with making jocular remarks from time to time. Mostly I talked to Jenny.
An odd thing I did stemmed from the fact that I had a big cleanout of my kitchen cupboards the night before -- with Anne's enthusiastic assistance. The result was a big bag of pots and pans on the way to Vinnies. But I took the bagful to the party in case someone fancied some of it. Suz enthusiastically grabbed three big pizza dishes that Joe had originally bought and various other bits went off too. The bag was much lighter when I handed it in next morning, which was good.
I had a small but amusing conversation with Russ as I left. He had been giving Sahara a lot of attention and help with Pokemon matters. So I said as I went past:
Me: You are being a good father Russ. Is Sahara a Daddy's girl or a Mummy's girl?
Russ: She's definitely a Daddy's girl, which is good. Not so good is the fact that Dusty is a Mummy's boy.
Me: Oh Dear!
Russ: But don't worry. I'll knock it out of him.
Russ has a very good sense of humor. I think we all do in the family, as a matter of fact
Saturday, July 30, 2016
When you eat out somewhere and order a salad with your meal, you normally get some cucumber with it. As it happens I REALLY like cucumber, particularly if it is not long off the vine. But the salad you get in restaurants is obviously cut up by people who DON'T like cucumber. It is cut up into such thin slices that you get almost no cucumber taste from them at all.
And I have been experimenting with that. I make a lot of salads these days and cucumber features in most of them. And what I have found is that the bigger the slice of cucumber, the more you get that great cucumber taste. And if you have never experienced a great cucumber taste, I suspect that you need to find a better greengrocer.
I slice my cucumbers diagonally, as most restaurants do. Just cutting them into circles is uncool. And I cut the slices at least a quarter of an inch thick. For children of the metric era that is about 1 centimeter (I think). A slice of cucumber should be a delicious lump!
Sunday, July 24, 2016
There are 3 of us with birthdays in July, Nanna, Joe and myself. So our celebrations began on the Friday before last. It was a small informal dinner on my verandah with myself and Anne plus Joe and Kate. Anne had offered to cook us anything we fancied but I felt like fish & chips so that is what we had. There is a nearby fish shop that is very good-- called, surprisingly, "Fish Kitchen". It is opposite the Dutton Park bonefarm.
So I ordered 4 battered Barramundi, chips, a Waldorf salad and some coleslaw. Anne said there was something missing from the Waldorf salad -- croutons, I think -- and the coleslaw was the worst I have had. But the fish 'n chips were brilliant. Expertly cooked fish n chips are one of life's great pleasures.
I was aware that the English often have vinegar with their fish n chips so decided to try that myself for the first time, using just white vinegar. I liked it! Somebody may care to advise me whether you put the vinegar on the chips, on the fish or on both. I put it on the fish.
We had a bottle of Tyrrells Verdelho to wash it down.
Then on the Sunday of that weekend, Jill shouted Anne and me a lunch at her place. It is a very nice little villa that Jill has made into a very pleasant environment.
Lewis had learnt of my liking for Tyrrells Verdelho so we had that with the dinner. Jill cooked a very nice meal of seafood and pasta, as she usually does. For dessert we had pancakes. I had mine with maple syrup and icecream.
And Jill carried on a great dinner party tradition that most women observe. She prepared some food which she forgot to bring out -- in the oven as usual. Good old Lewis eventually reminded her however so we got some rather well-done garlic bread with our meal. It was fine by me.
At one stage I congratulated Jill on her crystal salad servers. She had inherited them from her mother. Some people use silver salad servers and Jill has a lot of silver. Silver reacts with the vinegar in the salad and gives you a nice little dose of silver oxide, which can be toxic.
I made a blunder. Having recently become a pancake cook of sorts, I congratulated Jill on how nicely done the pancakes were. It transpired, however, that she had got them from Woolworths!
Anne has recently come back from a cruising holiday and Jill & Lewis seem to cruise half the year away so a lot of the conversation revolved around that. We also talked a bit about politics as we are all conservative. Lewis made the point that Turnbull has been unfairly criticised for his narrow win in the Federal election. As Lewis said, narrow wins are very common in elections, so the result was nothing new. There is even an explanation of why that is so here
Then on the Friday just gone, Jenny cooked up one of the big dinners she does so well -- featuring egg-rolled pork! A great family favorite. It is a Korean regional dish and even Korean restaurants rarely have it. There is quite a story to how we got a recipe for it. And Jenny served a complete Korean feast, with plenty of Kim Chee, Kujeol pan and Japanese ginger. I have never come across Korean ginger but it is bound to be similar to the Japanese product. The two cuisines are very similar.
And for dessert we had chocolate cake, which sparked discussions of chocolate cakes past -- Schwarzwalderkirschentorte and Sachertorte in particular. Jenny very tactfully did not put any candles on the cake
UPDATE: It was a little remiss of me not to say anything about the various birthday greetings I received. This is the age of the internet so I received only two cards, a jokey one from Anne and one from Von. The one from Von was particularly appreciated as she included a DVD of some recent doings of Hannah. Having the littlies growing up far away does mean that I miss much but with modern technology I can still get some substitute for that.
It's not often I acknowledge it but I am basically an old Celtic sentimentalist so that matters to me. I have plenty of Celtic ancestry (Scottish and Irish) so the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as they say.
One can observe daily that the forever unhappy Leftists are wrong in calling Australians racist: The number of Asian ladies on the arms of Caucasian men around the place tells you all you need to know about that. Clearly, neither party is racist.
But perhaps the most remarkable greeting I received was from Moerbisch -- in German, of course. And being from Austria it was sung! Moerbisch is of course the last redoubt of Viennese operetta and, as such, is my artistic lodestar. I buy DVDs of their performances whenever a new one comes out.