Old folk at lunch

Saturday, July 21, 2018

More birthday observations


Anne has returned from one of her many trips to Europe only recently.  She sometimes starts what she has to say at the moment with:  "When I was in Budapest ..."  So it was that we had a birthday dinner together tonight.



She brought me a small chocolate cake from the famous Hotel Sacher in Vienna. An image of the box it came in above. The Sacher Torte is regarded by many as the pinnacle of chocolate cakes. Anne also brought me from her travels a one-litre bottle of Cointreau, which I quite like. I like all the orange-flavoured liquers, though I drink all liquers only rarely. My favourite is Van der Hum from South Africa but you can't get it in Brisbane.

I very much like  meatloaf but you can't often buy it in the supermarkets so when I saw one for sale about six months ago I promptly bought it and put it away in my trusty freezer to come out for a birthday dinner. And today was the day I took it out.  I was also going to help the celebration with my remaining bottle of Barossa Pearl but Anne had a cold so didn't feel like drinking.  Anyway the meatloaf was as good as expected and Anne did some vegies to go with it which went well.

In lieu of wine, I had a small dram of Laphroiag with my dinner, which went surprisingly well with the meatloaf.  I recommend it. I guess it's a bit shameful but I diluted my dram with some of my favourite bottled water.  I mentioned to Anne that single malts generally have a peaty taste -- to which she replied rather sharply:  "I don't know.  I've never eaten peat".  That gave me a laugh and I pointed out that it was the smell being referred to.

For desserts we had some good blueberries together with Street's Blue Ribbon, which went down very well indeed.  It's up there with trifle and Pavlova now as a favourite dessert. Blueberries are another great North American contribution to our diet.  They have been grown in Australia only recently.

And we ended with nips of Cointreau.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A birthday


My birthday was this month but I have had only three celebrations of it so far.  Last Sunday, Joe and I went together to the Dutton Pk. fish shop and took our purchases back to eat on my verandah.  Joe enjoyed a beefburger and I had some excellent Barramundi.



Joe had given me earlier that day a bottle of Laphroaig, a single malt from Islay.  So after dinner we had a toast in that.  I had mine with soda and Joe had it on the rocks.  For once he did not have his spirits with Coke.  He is a fan of Coke zero and drinks a lot of it.

I forget what we talked about but Mr Trump would have figured largely.  Joe and I talk so often  -- usually about politics -- that one occasion blurs into another.

Then on Monday, Jenny gave me one of her splendid dinners.  It was an old favorite:  Vietnamese lemon chicken, quite unlike Chinese lemon chicken. And as always Jenny provided various accompaniments to go with it, rice etc.  And for desserts she brought out a big Pavlova, also a favourite of mine.  I noticed that Nanna liked it too.

Kate took a lively part in the conversation, with queries of Joe and myself about various aspects of our very conservative thinking. Jenny was a bit scornful of Mr. Trump, which is easily understood, but I think she might not have taken full account of the fact that both her sons are very favourably disposed towards  Mr Trump.

There were also quite a few reminiscences of old times, particularly of Joes's toddlerhood.  "My beautiful train" got quite a mention.

Then on Tuesday morning the electrician came.  It was not part of my birthday but it was nonetheless pleasing to get our dodgy power points and switches replaced.  Joe took the morning off to be in on the electrical work so after the electrician had gone Joe and I went to the Phams and had bacon & egg brunches.  And, as it happened, Irene was  in for breakfast there too.  So I introduced her to Joe.

Then on Wednesday, Kate made me a dinner on my verandah of Tacos with beef filling and a few other things.  And afterward we had some pudding delivered to our door

This time we talked a lot about penology, with particular reference to domestic violence, Kate's interest.  I said that you have to look at violence overall and that there is no other way to stop violence, domestic or otherwise, except keeping the bad guys locked up once you catch them.  Kate actually agreed with that.  I have written on that at some length recently

We then talked a bit about psychopathy.  I mentioned that one of my papers on that topic had been well-received.

And I don't think we mentioned Mr Trump once.  Joe and I had however reviewed the Trump/Putin summit that morning.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

More secret men's business


Once again four of us gathered on my verandah at 6pm.  Graham was up from Victoria -- with my brother, my son and myself making up the numbers.  And we didn't mention Mr Trump once! But there were some mentions of generic politics -- i.e. not naming any particular politicians but generalizing about Left and Right.

They all got the usual dish that I cook for such occasions: Savoury mince beef with noodles and veges all cooked up together  in  my big electric frypan. Thanks to a certain flavour sachet that I use, it all turns out reliably tasty.  We also had a good dessert sent along by my brother's wife.  It was liquid chocolate with marshmallows etc to dip in it.  Unusual but good.

As usual, my brother brought along some militaria from his collection for us look at and talk about. One thing was a WWII German "coal scuttle" steel helmet.  It was probably the best of the WWII helmets from most perspectives but it was HEAVY. I guess it was just coincidence but when I put it on my head the old 1950's wooden chair I was sitting on collapsed under me.

Anne used to complain about that chair being wonky so she was clearly right.  It was made at a time when the fashion in chairs was moving to tubular steel frames so was not as strongly made as the older wooden chairs -- of which I have some excellent examples.  So I will replace it rather than trying to fix it.  Anyway, the collapse amused everybody. Lucky there were no Leftists present so I didn't have any sympathy to ward off

My contribution to the "show and tell" was a couple of old daggers, one of which was just a modern Bowie knife, totally unused since I brought it 40 years ago from "Cathay Disposals" in Sydney -- so still shiny.  The second dagger looked more impressive but was very rusty -- so Graham kindly offered to work on polishing it up and sharpening it up -- though it was already fairly sharp on both its upper and lower blades despite the rust.

A couple of the other things my brother brought along were also from WWII, a pocket knife and a belt-buckle that both bore the motto Meine Ehre Heisst Treue, so they were artifacts of the Schutz Staffeln.  The literal meaning of the motto is "My honour is called trueness", which is pretty obscure in English.  I have had various stabs at translating it into idiomatic English but it is not easy.  The big difficulty is Treue.  I have previously struggled with its translation in connection with my interest in operetta. It is cognate with the English "True" and does have some similarity of meaning but the meaning is wider in German.  It means roughly faithfulness, trustworthiness, loyalty. In the popular culture of the German-speaking lands before WWII, blue eyes were seen as a sign of Treue --  You could rely on a person with blue eyes.  Blue eyes were described that way in both Im weissen Roessl and Die Lustige Witwe, Viennese operettas.

So after all that what is my favoured translation of the motto?  The ADL translates it as ""My Honor Is Loyalty', which is pretty good but I prefer "It's my honour to be known as loyal" or, less literally but more idiomatically, "I am proud to be loyal".  The loyalty was of course both military and political, loyalty to the corps and to the national leader (Fuehrer)

I am aware that some people are critical of an interest in militaria, but seeing I am a former Sergeant in the Australian army, I might perhaps be forgiven that interest.

Another interest that has only minority support these days is hunting. The days when Bach could write Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd ("Hunting is the thing I like best") are no more.  The opening words of the first soprano aria  of the cantata really rub it in: Jagen ist die Lust der Götter ("Hunting is the pleasure of the gods"). So I can only hope that my brother might be forgiven for being a hunter.  He is the chairman (No. NOT a chair or a chairperson) of a gun club. So an interest in hunting flows easily from that.

He told us about a recent foray to shoot kangaroos. Kangaroos breed prolifically in their native land and are even seen sometimes in the suburbs (I have seen them), as well as in the vast "Outback". They are therefore a troublesome competitor for feed with cattle and sheep -- two of Australia's major industries.  So the Australian government issues permits each year for the culling of around half a million kangaroos nationwide. So hunting kangaroos is a work of national benefit. We all regretted the fact that bureaucracy makes it nigh impossible to save the excellent meat from slaughtered kangaroos for human consumption. It is a wicked waste.

We covered a lot of other topics too. We spoke of Freemasonry, Byzantium and "Greek fire", trial by combat etc.  But the highlight of the evening -- something that will be remembered when all else is forgotten -- was my chair collapsing under me!

We finished up at about 9pm