Sunday, March 31, 2013


While Von and family are in town we obviously want to see as much of them as we can so I arranged a dosa lunch for us today.  Dosa lunches are always very much enjoyed.  The restaurant near me that does them makes a big thing of them on weekends and pulls out all the stops. So when you get a huge chrome plate with an even huger dosa on it, you know that good things lie in store.  And they do.

The puzzle is of course how to eat them.  I have no objection to eating them the Indian way (with hands only) but I try nonetheless to use cutlery.  I am sure it is a lot easier with hands only!

The surprise of the day was to find we had an accomplished little Indian among us in the form of 2 year old Hannah!  She tore up her pancake and dipped it in the various sauces like a veteran.  She particularly liked the chili sauce.

The dosa girl

Jenny, Nanna, Von, Simon, myself and Anne were the other participants.  We went back to my place afterwards for tea and coffee and another hour or so of chats.  I think what we mostly talked about was Hannah and New Zealand and family matters generally.  We were all greatly saddened to hear how poorly Davey is.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Good Friday

I usually try to get along to church on Good Friday and I did so today  -- but to a different church.  I went to St. John's Presbyterian at Annerley. I normally go to Ann St. Presbyterian in the city.

I "discovered" St. John's only recently, when I was driving in the area and took a wrong turn.  As I was driving down the "wrong" street, however, I noticed a very well-maintained and attractive church in it.  So I went along to the 8.30am service there today to find out a little more about it.

It is built in a Queensland 1920's style, with an exterior of both weatherboards and stucco.  The stucco is painted cream and the weatherboards maroon.  The overall effect is very pleasant.  See below

The interior was quite impressive, with  hammerbeam ceiling supports and NO GRAVEN IMAGES.  There was very attractive leadlight coloured glass in the casement windows but no stained glass, no pictures.  And there was neither a crucifix nor a cross in sight.  Presbyterians of old were quite iconoclastic and this congregation was obviously happy to continue that.  The second picture below -- looking towards the entrance of the church -- gives you some idea of it.

Note the steel bracing for the ceiling.  That was a custom in the 1920s for giving structural strength to large open spaces.  Schools used it too.  I grew up in such spaces so felt at home with it.

The congregation tended to be elderly as usual but filled up most of the back of the church.  I would say the church was about two thirds full, so that is quite creditable.

An interesting custom among the congregation is that they nearly all followed the Bible readings in the pew Bible.  The pew Bible was a very fine one:  A NKJ version with references, concordance  and a good clear black font well adapted to being read by old eyes.

The minister was VERY elderly, walking with the help of a stick, and his message was a very traditional one, focusing on salvation  -- which is of course entirely appropriate at Easter.

So it was a pleasant way to reconnect with my Presbyterian background.  Anne enjoyed it too.  I never have to twist her arm to get her to church.

And straight after church, Anne shot off back to her place  to put on a piece of roast pork.  Two of her sons were expected for a late lunch by way of an Easter visit.

I turned up about 1.30pm and the pork was taken off at 2pm.  And it turned out perfectly  -- something not always certain with a roast.  Both sons had partners with them so it was six at table.  It was a relaxed and congenial affair.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A home-cooked curry

As a thank you to me for getting Von and Simon over, Simon cooked me his version of a Balti curry for dinner over at Paul's place.  He is a good cook and normally does all the cooking for his little family.  There were just six of us present, including Anne.  Susan made a very nice cheesecake for dessert which she informed me was really an American Key Lime pie. Key limes must have come to Brisbane!  Susan is a keen cook too so Paul is a lucky man.  American pies are a marvel.  No wonder so many Americans are fat.

So we talked a bit about food in NZ and Von tried to encourage me to come over there for a visit.  I said that the food was the thing that was likely to tempt me.  As well as all the fresh fruit and veg., I gather that the meat pies are particularly good and I would of course be more than happy for Simon to try out his best recipes on me.  I was rather amazed to hear that even in the small town where they live, there are two restaurants and two cafes, including an Indian restaurant.

We talked a bit about current Australian politics and the mining industry, in which Paul has shares.  I have a few BHP shares.

But I think we mainly talked about the two little kiddies in front  of us and their future prospects -- how tall they would end up etc.  We also of course talked about the little girl who is due to make her debut into the world in early August.  All the adults present were parents so that line of talk came easily to us all.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A lunch

To make the most of Von being in town, Paul put on an open house today.  Most of us arrived at lunch time and there was a lot of food to go around.  Just about all the gang from last night turned up -- plus Tracy and Simon.  So several hours of relaxed chats were indulged in.  I heard quite a bit from Von, which I enjoyed.

As happens from time to time she reminded me of something I did in the past which I had quite forgotten.  She remembers my house at Gordonvale with particular fondness so she reminded me of a time there when I paid the kids to weed my pumpkin patch.  The pumpkin  vine there was a very vigorous one which spread right out and I rather admired it  -- so I must have wanted to encourage it.  Or maybe I just wanted to give the kids some pocket-money.

It seems that Davey was again too ill to come along but there was some idea that he might turn up that evening.  He has a quite serious illness,  which is particularly sad in one so young.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Paul's birthday

I am a lucky person.  I am in a position to give happiness to others. As I often do, I hosted a big family dinner earlier tonight -- this time for Paul's birthday.  And free dinners make everyone happy!  We had it at a local Indian restaurant at Mt. Gravatt which provides both good food and a good ambiance.  Also as usual I provided toasting champagne, my trusty Seaview.

But I was able to go the extra mile this time.  Although I had invited everyone to Paul's dinner a month in advance -- as I usually do -- Russell and Suzy had apparently already arranged a birthday dinner for Russell on the same night.  So Suzy was unable to attend Paul's dinner.  That was rather hurtful to Paul as he  puts great store by family and is always ready to do what he can for family.

As has long been the case, however, and as everybody knows, Paul and I are as thick as thieves so when I saw how down in the dumps Paul was over having NEITHER sister at his birthday celebrations, I decided to do what I could to put things right.  I succeeded!  I got Paul's New Zealand sister, Vonnie,  over for the occasion.  I shouted the airfares for Von, Simon and little Hannah and they put their New Zealand life on hold for two weeks in order to make the most of the occasion.  Paul was of course delighted.  And everyone was delighted to see Von & family again.

There were 13 of us present plus two littlies.  It was good to have George along and we got Timmy along too, which was good.  Before he had a regular girlfriend it was a bit hard to get Timmy along to family occasions.

The food was good as expected and Jenny provided a fancy cake.  The conversation at my end of the table centred heavily around Cyprus and related issues.  I think there are lots of people worldwide at the moment who are a bit jittery now they realize that their government can just seize a slice of their savings if it wants to.  A Greek island with only one million people has certainly got the world's attention at the moment.

The Cyprus banks all lent lots of money to the Greek government and eventually had to take a 75% haircut on that -- so are now broke.  Whatever happens it looks like at least one of them is now finished.

I left after a couple of hours as I usually do but some of the rest went back to Paul's place to kick on.

Self with Paul

Self with 2 beautiful ladies

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lord Monckton

Viscount Monckton, an hereditary peer, is in Queensland this week doing his usual thing:  Giving talks that expose the global warming fraud.  He is arguably the world's most prominent climate skeptic.

So on Monday last Michael Darby put on a party for him, to which I was invited.  I thought that Ken would like to meet Lord Monckton too so was successful in getting him added to the guest list.  I have known Darb for many years so was readily obliged.

There were about 30 of us there and I got into a conversation with Monckton as soon  as I arrived.  We talked about tactics and I offered some help for his latest project.

He is a tall man -- about 6' -- aged 61, with grey hair and a manner of relaxed confidence.  Being a peer is obviously a great help with the latter.  Considering that he is not a well man, he presents very well.  He suffers from Graves disease, which is hereditary and mainly a thyroid problem, and the most obvious symptom is bug-eyes.  That symptom is now quite marked in him so the disorder would seem to be gaining ground on him, which is a great pity.

I took note of how he dressed.  He dressed in a classic "smart" casual way, with grey woollen trousers and a dark blue jacket with metal buttons, sometimes known as a reefer jacket.  It was once quite a uniform for social occasions but anybody I see wearing it in Australia these days seems to be elderly.  I wore it myself on occasions for a while and still have a couple of jackets -- which, sadly, no longer fit.  On this occasion I wore a plain white shirt plus a pair of dark suit pants.

Monckton did of course give a short talk which was fluent, relaxed and witty.  He is a first-class public speaker who would adorn any occasion.

Ken found lots of people to talk to and seemed to enjoy himself.

Michael Darby made a good MC with his stentorian voice and he recited his poem about the church at one stage.  He is a good bush poet.

To feed us Michael got in a heap of pizzas and various hors d'oeuvres.  A couple of nice ladies talked to me, including a lady who seemed to be some sort of organizer for classical music concerts in Brisbane.

A famous American in blue and grey -- in the 60s

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

An excision and a visit

These days I don't usually note here my surgical procedures but one  I had last Thursday is perhaps worth a note.  I had a largeish BCC on my upper back where there was not a lot of loose skin.  So I was dubious about how successful the excision would be.  I thought that even if the surgeon got a good closure there was a chance of the wound opening up as I rolled onto it during sleep etc.  So I was a bit freaked out going into surgery. It looks like Dr Hills did a good job, however, as it is now four days on and nothing adverse has happened.  It seems to be healing more slowly than usual but it is healing.

The procedure I had was done at the Spring Hill Eye Hospital (a private outfit a short drive from where I live) and I was probably a bit more crusty than usual because I was feeling a bit freaked.  So when an Eye hospital Privatbeamte (a good German word for a private bureaucrat) rang me a couple of days beforehand and told me I had to have someone pick me up after the procedure I rebelled.  I explained that I was only having a local anaesthetic so there was no reason why I could not go home by taxi.   He then insisted that it was Eye Hospital policy for someone to call and take me home.  Whereupon I told him to stick his policy up his posterior (I used a much less polite word) and slammed the phone down.  He then rang the surgeon who confirmed that it was OK for me to go home by taxi.  The bureaucrat couldn't argue with a medical opinion so conceded defeat.

And when I got to the hospital on the day, there was a long delay.  A procedure that should have begun at 8.45am did not and I was still on a trolley waiting at 10.30am.  So I said at that point I was going home.  Whereupon I was immediately wheeled off to theater and underwent the procedure.  The squeaky wheel gets the oil!

The day after the procedure, Paul & family turned up for a visit.  Paul was a bit down in the dumps over a family matter but I eventually found a solution to that.  I still look after both Paul and Joe in various ways at times.

Young Matthew was a delight as always with his enthusiasm for balloons.