Sunday, May 29, 2011

A small but congenial gathering

In conjunction with her birthday, Jenny had a few of us over to her place for a dinner on Saturday night. Present were Jenny & Nanna, Paul & Susan and Anne and myself.

The food was good and varied and Paul in his usual outspoken manner livened us all up. He is mightily stirred up about coal seam gas at the moment. He has shares in it but the Greenies are obstructing it. That has certainly pushed his views even further in a Rightward direction.

I put up a couple of quiz questions which some people got right but nobody guessed the pronunciation of Mungindi, an outback Australian town. Nanna even got the pronunciation of Tucson right. It probably shows how many cowboy movies she has seen.

News of Joe was of course sought so we were pleased to hear that Paul had been in touch. Paul thinks the world of Joe. Paul sometimes comes across as a bit abrasive but he has a very good heart. We expect to see Joe back in Brisbane on the weekend after his birthday.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A close encounter with a surgical laser

Owing to my extensive iatrogenic skin cancer, I require the services of the medical profession rather frequently. My GP (JQ) freezes off the more minor bits and my dermatological surgeon (RH) tackles the nastier bits. I have seen both of them such a lot that I am now on quite friendly terms with both.

Usually, whatever needs to be done can be done locally in the doctor's rooms but there are some bad bits that can only be tackled by a surgical laser -- and today was such a day. Accessing the laser is a big deal, however. You have to undergo all the checks, quizzes and tests prescribed by the hospital where it is located.

So I rocked up at N.W. Private hospital on time for admission at 4:30pm and went through their process. And despite the complexity of it all I was not kept waiting for more than minutes at any stage. I passed through the hands of about 6 people before I got to theatre but they had plenty of staff to attend to whatever was required. Brisbane private hospitals are like that: Immaculate and efficient with very attentive patient care. All covered by my private health insurance.

But when I finally got into theatre at about 6:30pm it was still a relief to see the friendly faces of RH and his head nurse. With the roar and clatter of a laser drilling at your face, it is a comfort to be sure that you are in competent hands. It was done under local so we actually chatted a fair bit during the procedure, as usual.

An amusing aspect of the chatter and banter was when it was noticed that I was (coincidentally) wearing maroon undershorts. Maroon is the colour of the Queensland team in the State of Origin football matches and the Queensland team had just won, as they usually do. So I was regarded as a fellow supporter of the team. And, as in most places, football is a big deal and support for the local team makes you a proper person. So I emerged with somewhat undeserved credit. I mentioned however that all four of my grandparents were born in Queensland so I got additional respect for that.

I was home by 7:30 and Anne made us an excellent dinner of lamb cutlets and salad, which we washed down with a bottle of Tyrell's excellent Verdelho, though I had only one glass, in consideration of post-operative requirements.

And despite that rather large bite out of my day, I still put all my blogs up as usual. You can't keep a good blogger down, even if he does have a few raw patches on his face and body. I was however not in pain at any stage so that helped.

Monday, May 23, 2011

An amusing night

I rarely comment on the dinners for two that Anne and I have together but tonight has to be an exception. Anne had an invisible cabbage and burnt the majority of the sausages (though not badly) and I knocked over a glass of wine, breaking it and spilling the contents onto my lap. So a good time was had by all, with lots of laughs!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Lamb cutlets

How many lamb cutlets should one cook up as a meal for two? My answer: 16

I am sure that is far more than is usually contemplated as they are rather dear these days, but I follow my own rules.

I find them delicious but they are individually so small that I have steadily upped the amount that I order. Note that a much esteemed French dish -- rack of lamb -- consists of only FOUR cutlets.

So tonight Anne cooked up 16 cutlets, of which I had just over half. And with a good salad, French dressing on the salad and a bread roll (thickly spread with REAL butter), I actually thought that I ate a dinner tonight that was as good a dinner as anybody else in the world was eating!

You might guess that I like French cutlets! They must of course be cooked medium to medium rare and need plenty of salt on them.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Royal wedding

At some expense, Anne has bought a thick special issue of a women's magazine entirely devoted to colour pictures and information about the recent wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Spending time with an old Monarchist like me clearly has a corrupting influence! I entirely approve, of course. Courtesy of London's Daily Mail, I keep myself well-informed about the Royal family.

Anne liked Camilla's hat. And if you don't know who Camilla is you are just not with it at all, at all.

I myself thought that the best outfit of the occasion was the dress uniform of the Blues and Royals worn by Prince Harry.

(Prince Harry wore the Blues and Royals officer’s uniform in Dismounted Review Order, with a Forage Cap. He also chose not to wear a sword though the uniform did have sword slings)

The dress uniforms of the British military are in general rather splendid -- in keeping with the record of success of British arms.

And the Royal family are a military family so have every right to wear British military uniforms -- which they frequently do on formal occasions.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mothers' day

Paul and his Susan put on an excellent brunch for Jenny and Nanna at their place and invited me along too.

Susan excelled herself by putting on a breakfast that had it all: bacon, black pudding, scrambed egg, chipolatas, blueberry pancakes and potato cakes. She also had a banana and nut sauce for the pancakes and icecream too. Quite remarkable and inventive. She is quite a cook. And in consideration of Jenny it was all gluten-free too. Neither Nanna nor I would try the black pudding though.

As Nanna will soon turn 87, we discussed a bit what people used to eat in her day and noted how she has arrived at her age in reasonable health despite having a diet for most of her life that would give food freaks the horrors. All meat in those days was fried in dripping (beef fat) so they got a heavy dose of fat practically EVERY DAY! These days only oldies even know what dripping is.

I was also interested to hear that Jenny's father was a successful fisherman during the Depression, so that helped them to survive the hard times fairly well. Fish in those days was mostly cooked in dripping too -- and the custom of covering it with batter made sure you got an extra heavy dose of animal fat! Batter soaks up fat.

We chatted quite a bit about politics -- with Ms Gillard's latest brainwave of sending illegal immigrants to Malaysia evoking many groans.

We asked around for news of Joe and I was able to provide a little. We all respect that this is his time for independence, though. We were all very pleased to note that his "addiction" is not to tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, heroin, cocaine or "speed" but rather to -- wait for it -- Milk! Many parents would envy that!

I drove the Humber out but was by myself as Anne was being entertained by one of her sons.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hannah is now 5 months old

There's nothing cuter than a baby in a beanie!

Von has fond memories of the time when we all lived at Riverstone Rd. in Gordonvale. I think it shows that even at an early age she had good taste as I myself regard that house as the best I have ever owned.

She made some reference to it in her most recent email. We had a really good crop of lemons on the lemon tree at the time and I thought that maybe we should make lemonade from them. We did and then I had the idea that maybe we should do the American thing and get the girls to sell lemonade by the side of the road. So we set the girls up with a card table and some folding chairs by the side of the road with a sign offering lemonade for a dollar a cup (or was it 50c?)

That was a great hit. People driving past would see these two pretty little girls selling lemonade and would come to a screeching halt to buy some. They had never seen such a thing before so stopped mainly out of curiosity, I imagine. Even the local cop stopped to buy some. Riverstone Rd is the main road into Gordonvale so they had plenty of passing trade.

Everyone was of course very nice to them and they got to keep the money as well! So they had a lot of fun.

And Von remembers that episode with great fondness. One of my eccentric ideas has become a treasured memory for her. She has now planted a lemon tree so her daughter will one day be able to do the same.

UPDATE: Von advises as follows: "The Lemonade was 50c a glass and Susan and I saved the money we earned from the stand to spend at some show if I remember correctly. We used the little vegemite glasses, do you remember them?"

I do indeed remember Vegemite glasses: Once ubiquitous and always absurd. A purely Australian folly, I think. They were a sort of plague that you couldn't avoid.

UPDATE 2: Suzy has emailed me to say that the lemonade stand is one of her fondest memories from childhood too so I am glad that I thought to put the story online. At the time, I thought the idea up as a bit of fun, never dreaming that it would leave such a lasting impression

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Susans and the Simons

Having two Susans and 2 or 3 Simons in the family is a bit of a problem. In both speaking and in writing how do we know which one we are referring to? Context eventually bails us out of course but it would be nice to have more clarity from the beginning.

The Simons are easy: There's Vonnie's Simon, Tracy's Simon and George's Simon (though we haven't seen that Simon for a while).

But the Susans seem to be insoluble. "Paul's Susan" is not too bad but Paul does after all have two Susans: His wife and his sister. But that is not really a problem. When we say "Paul's Susan" everybody understands that the Susan concerned is his wife.

So how to we refer to Paul's sister? We could say "Russell's Susan" but that would not feel right as she was "our" Susan long before she was Russell's. Not that there is any disrespect to Russell in that. His devotion to Suzy is all we could ask. Suzy is precious to all her family so her having a husband who also regards her that way is a great relief. So we could refer to her by her married surname but who uses surnames in referring to family members?

The only other option is referrring to her as "Twinny Susan" and that sounds a bit wet. Definitely an insoluble problem. I think I usually refer to her as "Suzy" but not everyone else does or wishes to.