Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas 2006

I always look forward to and enjoy Christmas. We actually have family get-togethers pretty often (maybe as much as once a month on average) but things are more organized and more fun at Christmas. And Christmas is one time when all the "kids" (now very much adults) are usually there together. And seeing I had a great time helping bring them up, just being once again in one-anothers' presence is always a good feeling.

For Christmas eve I invited my ex-wife Jenny and our son Joe over for a dinner. Pam, a lady-friend of Jenny's who is staying with Jenny at the moment also came along, as did "Nanna" (Jenny's mother). With Anne and me that made six at table, which is about all I can fit in on my small verandah, which is our preferred place to dine.

Part of the reason for the occasion was that I wanted Jenny and Joe to see my newly refurbished living room. There is one picture of it below that shows one part of it but I hope to add more pictures later that should give you a much better idea of it.

The picture does at least show what a good job the floor polishers did and you can see the futon plus a small corner of the Persian rug.

We had Veuve Cliquot champage for pre-dinner drinks and Kassler Rippenspeeren as the main course of the dinner. Nobody wanted to drink much so we did not have any alcohol with dinner but I did serve up some good liquer Tokay and Muscat as dessert wine. The dessert was fruitcake and Red Globe grapes. It all seemed to work well.

On Christmas day, Anne went off for a morning with her family and I joined the usual gang for brunch at Jenny's place. As usual, Jenny had cooked up a storm and there were all sorts of good things to eat. Being a bit of a sausage-freak, however, I ate mainly sausages and ham.

I had driven over in the Humber so immediately after the meal I took a few people who had not yet had a ride in it for a short drive up to the summit of Mt Gravatt -- a local eminence of no great distinction for anything but its proximity.

After that came the present opening and after that was a lucky dip of small presents with each participant taking turns to dip in. Also, however, people are allowed to seize one-another's presents rather than dip into the wrapped and unknown presents on the floor. That is always a lot of fun with much good-natured argument about the desirability of the presents concerned. I ended up with two small cotton "throw rugs" that I have not the faintest idea what to do with.

Anne came over to my place in the afternoon and cooked roast turkey for our dinner that night -- which again went down very well. So I had, in effect, two Christmas dinners that day!

That night we listened mainly to Christmas Carols on the CD player and I was rather taken with one that you do not hear very often: "God bless the master of this house". Some of the words below:

God bless the master of this house,
And all that are therein,
And to begin this Christmas tide
With mirth now let us sing.

(Refrain) For the Saviour of all people
Upon this time was born,
Who did from death deliver us,
When we were left forlorn.

Then let us all most merry be,
Since that we are come here,
And we do hope before we part
To taste some of your beer.

For the Saviour of all people...

Your beer, your beer, your Christmas beer,
That seems to be so strong,
And we do wish that Christmas tide
Was twenty times so long.

As a fairly regular drinker of Crown Lager, I was pleased to see beer honourably mentioned, among other things

Then on Boxing day, Anne and I Humbered down to the seaside at Wynnum and got some brunch goodies from a shop named (I am embarrassed to say) "Pierre's". It was good food anyway and we had it with takeway coffee in a picnic shelter right by the water.

So no complaints about Christmas 2006.

Update: I mentioned Kassler Rippenspeeren above in the belief that anybody interested in what they are could Google it. But Google has failed (or the net has failed) -- as all you get when you Google the term is previous posts by me. So: The term is a German one and means "pork rib spears (spare ribs) the way they do it in Kassel". Apparently they smoke their pork in Kassel. My Brockhaus German-English dictionary defines them as "smoked ribs of pork". What I get from our local German butcher, however, is chops rather than ribs. It's great stuff.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

More Music

Another musical weekend just past. On Saturday, Ken invited us to a meeting of a group of musicians that he is part of. I gather that they meet at one-another's place and "jam" from time to time. This meeting was at Ken's own place so his friends and family were invited too. The music was what I would call "light" music -- folk songs, blues and the popular music of yesteryear. I know heaps of folksongs so was rather tempted to sing along at times. Anne and I both enjoyed the occasion. Paul and I chatted a lot as usual and I was pleased that Brian Ruffles was in attendance. Brian is a great character and, despite his name, not easily ruffled. He lives in Indonesia these days running various speculative business ventures but was back home in Brisbane for a couple of weeks.

On Sunday there was the Christmas party of our Westside Music Circle. It comprised a BBQ first followed by the usual concert. Anne had been to another function that afternoon so we skipped the BBQ and just had a light meal together by the Brisbane river at a Lebanese restaurant called "Cafe Laila's". I may be wrong but I fancy that the name of the place is taken from the character Leila in Lawrence Durrell's once-fashionable "Alexandria Quartet" of novels.

The concert was unusually good. The performers are usually amateurs and that can led to uneven quality but there were very few sour notes on Sunday. One of the performers played the usual Spanish guitar favourites quite impeccably. I was mildly surprised to see some delicate Mozart played on the piano with perfect expertise by a rather large young chap. Such delicate music from such a large person seemed faintly odd to me.

As usual, I got into the supper afterwards with gusto. There was some excellent apple and raisin strudel that I can still remember and some very fancy sandwiches. After such a big day of socializing, Anne was just about staggering by the time we got home. Even her great social capacity has its limits. And neither Anne nor I had any alcohol all evening.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Photos 2006

I thought it might be a reasonable idea to put up here a few of the photos taken during the year.

Below are Anne and myself:

Below is Joe and his girlfriend Sam

Below is my lively stepson Paul and his good-humoured wife Sue

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Another year down for Joe

Last Sunday, we had a small celebration at Jenny's place to mark Joey doing well in his 2nd year university exams. He did all mathematics subjects this year so at least some of his subjects must have been pretty demanding.

Jenny (Joe's mother) cooked up a storm of mostly Korean food and I bought along a couple of bottles of champagne -- one of which was Veuve Cliquot. Present were Jenny, Joe, myself, Anne, Paul and Paul's Susan. Since there are two Susans in the family, we have to say which one.

Paul was loquacious as usual, which is good as Joe and I are both pretty quiet on family occasions. Paul (Joe's half-brother) is very family oriented and is a great support to Joe -- as he is to his other brothers. And the fact that Korean egg-rolled pork was on the menu absolutely ensured his presence!

This year was actually Joe's third at the University of Qld. as he also did a subject there during his final High School year.