Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Big storms

Sunday and Monday (yesterday) were sub-cyclonic in Brisbane -- with big winds and pouring rain.  On Sunday evening, however, I just felt like fish 'n chips for dinner so went and got some.  The best fish 'n chips place I know at the moment is out at Manly, near where Anne lives, so it is a 20 minute drive.  I was one of the few on the road in the circumstances and I was nearly held up by some minor flooding across the road at one point.  But I got there and took the fish back to Anne's place to share.  I felt it was well worth the trip through the heavy weather.

And yesterday (Mon.) I woke up at 9am to find that the power was out.  I attempted to carry on blogging using my battery-powered netbook but the wireless dongle failed after only about half an hour.  I was rather displeased to find that my backup system had failed too.  But that's Telstra for you.

Anyway, I had a backlog of work I wanted to do on my geneology files so I got on with that for the rest of the morning.  The eventual product is now online  here.

When afternoon had arrived with no restoration of power, I rang  Jenny to see whether she had power,  She did so I went over there to do a bit of catching up on her computer.

Around 4:30, however, I went home to see if my own power had come on.  It had not.  But it did come on about 5pm so I caught up with a few things then.

Jenny had however invited me over for a dinner of chicken curry, which I was very pleased to accept.  So I went back to her place about 6pm and had an exceptionally good curry.  So I drove through heavy weather twice yesterday.  There was not much else on the road.  But good dinners are worth some trouble, I think.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Australia day

We had our usual Australia day lunch for my rellies on my mother's side today.

It was raining heavily all day so that may have been why the gathering was smaller than usual.

Christopher had a range of old family photos on display which sparked a lot of discussion. I was amused to see my father in what looked like a gangster hat.

Kym did the cooking this year and provided us with lots of good things.  As usual, I stuck to sausages.

It's nice to be in the company of intelligent people and I think my rellies fill the bill there. There was a small example of it today. I asked what is the difference between Swedes and turnips? That would floor most people but my cousin Shirley immediately trotted out a good descriptive answer.

Swedes are called rutabagas in the USA.  They are traditionally eaten with haggis on Burns night and called "neeps" (after "Napus", the Latin word for a turnip) in Scotland.   "Swede" is short for "Swedish turnip", though it's not actually a turnip!

Burns night

I held what I intend to be my last Burns night tonight.  I have been putting them on sporadically for around 30 years so I think I have done my bit.  The big problem is that 25th is sandwiched between Anne's birthday and Australia day and my social energies are not quite up to that any more.

Anyway, it was only a small gathering and we skipped most of the customs.  Jill and Lewis were there as well as Anne and myself.  Anne did a great job of catering the occasion and the haggis was much enjoyed by all.  I still managed to get into my kilt but just barely!

I enjoyed the occasion but I was nonetheless not completely with it:  I prepared some Scottish music to play but forgot to turn it on;  I forgot to run the Scottish saltire up my flagpole;  I needed quite a lot of help from Anne to get into my kilt and I even spilled my beer at one stage.  I was halfway through my first beer at the time (Fourex Gold, a medium strength beer) so I was not Elephant's Trunk.

I ate so much haggis, neeps and tatties that I had no room for dessert -- so I missed out on some clootie dumpling.  And the Tablet went untouched! A surfeit of good food.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Anne's birthday

Birthdays are of course a time for special dinners and chateaubriand is for both Anne and me a much appreciated dinner.  Probably because it is inevitably expensive, however, very few restaurants  offer it these days.  I used to be able to get it from both the Clansmen and Siggis but both those excellent restaurants are now only a memory.

With the help of Father Google however I was able to establish that there is ONE restaurant in Brisbane that still offers it:  One of the restaurants of the Hotel Bravo in Brunswick St, Valley. Their menu is here.

I was not very sanguine about them doing a good job of the dish but I booked anyway and we went along.  Below is what we got

To my surprise it was perfectly done.  Even the accompaniments were good.  And when I asked them to turn the music down, they did!  Service was good generally.

So we actually had a rather memorable dinner.  We were too full for desserts.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


After 60 years playing  in London, Agatha  Christie's "Mousetrap" rather  amazingly came to Brisbane  -- so I had to go.

I am a bit deaf even with my hearing aids in so  I missed a lot of the finer points   but I understood enough to follow the main points.  With its evocation of a snowed-in London and mention of child abuse,  it could have been written in London yesterday

I did guess correctly who the villain was and there were many fine points of staging and dialogue that kept the audience amused.

An odd point about the production was that everybody shouted at one-another all the time  -- which is most un-English.  I think that contributed to my incomprehension.

I would have thought that amplification of normally-spoken voices would have been much better.  And supertext would have been a boon.  There were a lot of elderly people in the audience who also most likely had age-related hearing loss.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Another lunch with Joe

We again got together to finish off watching the family videos.  We lunched first at my Buranda haunt. During lunch and after the videos we had chats about various things, mostly secret men's business!

One thing I went to some length about was to tell Joe that the only ambition I had for him was for him to be happy.  I believe he will do well as an academic but I would think no less of him if he did not.

I once said to Ken that I didn't care if Joe earned his living as an academic or by playing piano in a Jazz dive.  To Joe's amusement, I told him what Ken said in response:  "That sounds wonderful!"  So Ken thought that being a Jazz pianist was at least as good as being an academic.  Joe and I agreed that Ken's view was as good as any.

We also talked a bit about my biography and the skim milk diet I went on in the 60s.  In my Psychology IV class at that time (1967) we had lectures from the very popular Prof. Butz Olsen (formally Otto Egede Budtz Olsen), a professor of physiology.  Prof. Butz liked to ramble a bit  -- which was part of his popularity -- and one thing he told us was that the liquid diet being given to American astronauts at that time had a very similar composition to skimmed milk.  He therefore had been living on skim milk for some months to try it out -- supplemented by a daily glass of beer and a daily glass of orange juice.  Plus some whole milk for the fat-soluble vitamins.  So Butz really was a lovable eccentric.

I told Joe that I had done the same for about 6 months and had bought a 56lb sack of powdered skim milk from the local South Brisbane milk factory for the purpose.  It was a very cheap way to eat and so I lived on about 60c a week at the time.  Joe is very interested in diet so took a keen interest in all that.

There is actually a video of Butz talking about his life here.  There is also a very brief bio of him here

Monday, January 7, 2013

A 95th!

Anne's mother has just turned 95 and is still mentally with it but physically frail of course.  Such an occasion could not go without celebration of course so we had a small party in the BBQ area of the nursing home late yesterday afternoon

The ladies all brought along their specialties for the party food and we had quite a good fruit punch to wash it down:  Anne brought  along one of her sandwich specialties  -- Hungarian open  sandwiches with Liptauer cheese spread.  Rather peskily,  Anne has to make her own Liptauer as it is not on sale anywhere in Brisbane that we know of.  Anne got it just right this time, however.

It was a very Presbyterian occasion -- no alcohol and no music -- which I entirely approved of.  Having myself once been a very strict Protestant, I am still at home with that outlook.

There were about 12 people present plus 3 littlies aged between 2 and 4.  It was a great pleasure to see the littlies doing what littlies do:  Running around like mad things.  They had a great time and we had a great time watching them.

Anne and her two sisters were present plus attached menfolk.  I talked mostly to Ralph as I usually do.  I think he is a real gent and is still pretty good at age 80.

I was a little bit hypnotized by one of Anne's nieces once removed. Zenia is a tall blue-eyed blonde university student with the emphasis on tall.  She arrived wearing short denim shorts that revealed what I think are the best pair of legs I have ever seen.  She could have stepped out of a fashion magazine. "Legs that go on forever" certainly describes Zenia.  I was pleased to see that she also seemed very self-confident and relaxed in the setting.  Confidence is a great asset and a pretty good predictor of strong mental health.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lunch and videos with Joe

Joe and I had lunch at my usual haunt and we went back to my place to look at some videos I had made about 20 years earlier.  The first was a video of some bits of advice I wanted to leave with Joe in case I died when he was young and the second was family home movies in  which he was the star -- starting when he was about 6 months old and ending when he was 3.  There were of course some amusing bits and Joe got to see himself during a time that he had almost entirely forgotten.  He actually came out as a rather wise child  -- certainly a cautious one anyway.

Joe was far from the only one in the video and little Timmy came across as rather gorgeous and we both enjoyed Paul's early views on girls.