Monday, May 26, 2008

A "mystery breakfast"

On Sunday I invited a few people over to my place for a "mystery breakfast". The mystery was what the breakfast was for. There was apparently a lot of speculation over what it could be. As soon as everybody had arrived, however, I announced the answer. It was held for two reasons: 1) As a birthday bash for Jenny, who turns (somewhere in her '50s) on Tuesday. 2). To celebrate my restoration (at absurd expense) of most of the windows in my old house to their original form. The house originally had casement windows throughout but someone before I bought the house had replaced some of the casements with sliding aluminium windows -- which was very out of keeping with a 1930s style "Queenslander" house.

There are two common traditional patterns in Queensland for the coloured glass in the quarterlights of casement windows: One with all amber and another with alternating red and green. I put all amber down one side of my house and red/green across the front, as I like both patterns. For the benefit of any non-Queenslanders who come by here, below is an illustration of some casements without any colours in their quarterlights.

In attendance at the breakfast were Jenny, Anne, Ken, Maureen, Jill, Lewis, Henningham and Helen.

Anne prepared a marvellous Bircher muesli for starters and we also had lots of cold meats and bread in the Northern European style. We ate out on the verandah with a bright winter sun shining in. It was very pleasant. Several of the people present had recently been on visits to Austria and central Europe so a lot of the conversation centred on that -- and on travel generally.

Below is a picture of the verandah. As you can see, I have not yet defeated ALL the aluminium windows in my house. Festina lente

A little joke I had centred around a black octagonal dinner plate that I had found downstairs. It had apparently been left behind by a departing tenant. I happened to know that Jill had an octagonal dinner set which she very much liked so as soon as she arrived I presented her with her own special black octagonal dinner plate for her to use during the breakfast. She got the joke immediately and I afterwards insisted that she take the plate home with her to add to her collection.

Some of the people present seemed very favourably impressed by my amber-quartered casements and Helen particularly liked all the brass and copper fittings I have on both my windows and my doors. I was rather glad about that as I had Jeff over the day before to do various cleanup jobs, with buffing up all the brass being a big part of that. Ken in his usual way thought that all my casements, brassware etc was a lot of nonsense. Ken has always strongly favoured new things over old things. De gustibus non disputandum est.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A rare family photo

The photo below is (left to right) of my niece Katie, my brother Christopher and my sister Roxanne. My sister Jacqueline was also in the original photo but she is terminally ill with the family illness (breast cancer) and not looking good at all so I think I am being respectful in cropping her out of the photo below. Katie is the daughter of Roxanne.

Taken a few weeks ago

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A pleasant morning

Anne came over early and made us a breakfast of cevapi and eggs. Then we went to church. It must be over a year since I had been to Ann St Presbyterian and I like to visit there once in a while. For both Anne and me it is our old church and I get a good feeling when I go there. Ann St is Brisbane's street of churches. The magnificent Anglican cathedral is there plus two Presbyterian churches, one Methodist church, the Salvation Army City citadel and a rather grand Masonic hall.

Ann St Presbyterian church would puzzle a Catholic. It is completely unornamented inside -- no "graven images", as befits an old "Wee Free" church. It does however have the most beautiful woodwork throughout.

And it was quite full! The old church was still gathering people to it. It obviously has good outreach activities. And there was even a baptism of a little baby. Very pleasing to see. One hears a lot about empty churches these days but ones that stick to preaching the gospel of God's love still do well. There were people of all ages present, but with a weighting towards grey heads.

The minister gave a good sermon, recounting the story of Jonah and pointing out its implications. Mr McNicol is from Edinburgh and I greatly enjoyed hearing his Scottish accent as he spoke. The word "church" comes out as something like "churruch" to Australian ears. He is a tall, dignified but friendly man and suits the church perfectly in my view.

After the service we came home and had a cup of tea on the verandah.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A busy weekend

Anne came over on Thursday evening and we went to the "Mado" Turkish restaurant at Southbank.

I had a sucucluk pide there (something like an Italian calzone) as I usually do and Anne also had a pide. Excellent food. It's getting hard to park the car near there though so we had a walk as well -- which pleased Anne.

Anne stayed overnight and next morning we took a trip to Austria for breakfast -- to the K& K Konditorei at Sinnamon Park. We Humbered out there. It really is like a slice of Austria -- but set in a backstreet of a Brisbane suburb. They even sell Almdudler (A herbal lemonade imported from Austria). I had the Bauern Groestl, as I often do, and Anne had a Kransky with Sauerkraut, Roesti and bread. And we both had two cups of their excellent coffee -- which was a bit over the odds for both of us.

Then on Saturday Anne's sister Merle had a celebration of her 50th wedding anniversary. It was a dinner held in the hall of the Carina Presbyterian church -- an awful big soulless modern place. Not the sort of Presbyterian church hall I was used to at all. Merle and her husband Ralph do however go regularly to that church so it must have something -- good outreach, I gather.

The occasion was in fact a very Presbyterian one: low-key but friendly. Definitely no wild singing and dancing. We did however at one stage have some harp music! It wasn't a Western concert harp so I think it must have been some sort of Korean harp. The lady playing it (Yes. It was a lady. Why are almost all harpists female?) was Korean. You meet Koreans anywhere you go among Australian Presbyterians these days. Why? Because there are now far more Presbyterians in Korea than in Scotland! The main reason Presbyterian missionaries were so successful in Korea is that they were not Japanese. Koreans loathe the Japanese and all their works and do their best to differentiate themselves from the Japanese. Another feature of the evening was a slideshow of family snaps, which everyone enjoyed.

There were four generations of the family present, which was impressive. Anne's 90 year old mother was there as were Anne's two little grandsons. Baby Ethan was looking healthy, which was very heartening. His premature birth was very stressful for all involved but he seems to have suffered no harm from it -- due in part no doubt to the excellent care he got at Brisbane's Mater Private Hospital.

The food was predictable (roast etc.) but pleasant enough. There was of course no alcohol in evidence and we did start the dinner with one of Merle's sons saying grace. I imagine that some people might have found the occasion boring but I felt on familiar and comfortable ground there. I am rather pleased that Anne has revived my Presbyterian connections to some extent. Our similar background is very congenial.

Then Sunday was of course Mothers' Day. As I usually do, I took some good lunchy things over to Jenny's place. She's not my mother but she is the mother of my son. My mother passed away long ago. Jenny's mother is however still hale and hearty in her 80s and she was present at the lunch. Others present were Paul, Joe and Samantha. It was a very pleasant lunch. My contribution was prosciutto, terrine, antipasto and some King Island cheese.

Then for dinner Anne came over again and made us some Reuben sandwiches -- using some Dutch Leerdammer cheese -- a Dutch version of Swiss cheese. And I still managed to keep up my usual blog output through all that!