Tuesday, August 27, 2013

An adventure with mince (aka ground beef)

I have got lots of packets and bottles of stuff in my kitchen for making "easy" meals.  Very little of it ever gets used. I think I have had some of it for over 10 years.  So I decided to do something about it.  I would become a packet cook!

My first effort was to get out my little tin of Keen's curry powder, which was once found in every Australian household.  It made curry suitable for people who were used to "plain food".  I cooked up some mince and onions, added Keen's toward the end and got a passable meal of mince.  There was only the faintest taste of curry to it, however.  So I tried again

My theory was that I should first marinate the mince in Keens.  So I converted a pound of mince into a slurry by adding water and stirring with my fingers (Indian!).  I then added 4 dessert spoons of Keen's and left it to marinate for about 8 hours.  I also added salt, two small chopped onions and a handful of mixed dried fruit.  I was looking for some stock to add to give it more body but I could not find any so added a dessert spoon of Bisto (normally used for making gravy)

I put the lot into my electric frypan with water and butter, stirred until everything looked to be cooked through (about 10 minutes).  And I STILL got no real curry taste in the result.  It was very nice mince though. So my mad methods did produce a good result -- just not the result intended.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Master two

Matthew has just turned two.  So Susan and Paul put on a party for him.  There was a good crowd and lots of good food.  Sandwiches cut into jigsaws were a novel approach.  Susan is a very creative caterer.

Baby Lizzie got a lot of attention as she is still only days old.  I think all the ladies in sight got a cuddle.  She was passed from one lady to another without a break.  So she slept well.

Matthew spent a lot of time on the trampoline with the other children.  One of Susan's friends brought along her two little blonde daughters and both of them enjoyed the trampoline too.  The 5 year old was particularly pretty and I said to her mother that she will probably be a model when she grows up.  But her mother said that she wouldn't make the height.  She is a bit small for a 5 year old and models have to be at least 5'8', preferably taller.

Dusty quietly wandered around by himself in his usual amiable way.  Sahara and Russ were absent with the 'flu.  Davey and Olivia turned up with their little daughter.  Davey looked well, considering.

Ken was very involved with political discussions and Paul was appalled at Palmer and Katter giving the Greens their preferences in the Senate.  You have to understand the Australian electoral system to understand what that is all about, however.

Pia mater

Even the birthday cake was in jigsaw shape

Who is that old guy in the background as Matthew is opening his presents?

Monday, August 19, 2013

More visits to the babe

I arrived at the hospital yesterday at about 4pm to find Ken, Maureen and Matthew already there.  Ken and Maureen are minding Matthew while Susan is in hospital.  Matthew's speech has much improved recently.  He speaks intelligible sentences now and can even say such hard words as "avocado".  And he never stops talking (Paul's son!), which is wearing Ken  and Maureen down a bit.

Maureen grabbed the babe as soon as she could and cuddled it for the rest of the time she was there.  She is a good baby-cuddler!  The big feature was introducing Matthew to his new sister and there are a couple of videos of that below.

Paul and Susan have the Presidential suite at the hospital so are living as if in a first class hotel.  Paul and I spent a fair bit of time talking politics, as we usually do.

After my hospital visit, I drove straight to Anne's place, where I was greeted by a roast lamb dinner.  Very nice!

I again went up earlier today at about 6pm, arriving just before Jenny and Nanna.  And I got to eat there.  Susan had ordered two dinners for herself so gave me one.  I got a dessert too!  I even ate my vegies.

The babe was good.  Susan's milk has come in so the babe was a keen feeder, which kept her pretty pacified.

We also had Von with us via Skype.  Von had wanted to be at the birth but Skype had to do.

We talked about politics for a while.  Everybody was down on the Greenies and down on Kevvy.  Somebody asked me for a definition of Greenies and I replied:  "People haters".  I was also asked for a definition of Leftism and I repled "People who hate the world around them".  You can see why Greenies and the Left get on.

And while I was there Paul managed to get all the pictures off my old cellphone.  Their quality was poor, however.  The picture I most wanted, however, is recognizable and I add it below.  It is of a fig tree that sprang up out of the brickwork of my front  fence.  I admired such survival and flourishing from such small resources.  It eventually put down roots that were cracking the concrete, however,  so I unhappily had to remove it.  The picture is my memorial to what I saw as an heroic tree! I must be a Greenie of sorts!  More likely a Buddhist, actually.  I am a great respecter of life.  I even avoid killing ants if I can.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A babe is born

Elise Daphne was born to Paul & Susan last night at 10pm. Susan had an expert obstetrician in attendance at a local private hospital and so suffered no tearing or other injury despite some initial difficulties.  And the babe was born in the best of pink health.  So it was a perfect delivery.  She was 54cm long and weighed 6 pounds 14 ounces ....

Elise at about 2 hours old. Already good-looking like her mother

I paid for Susan to go private so am getting some of the credit for the excellent result of the delivery.  In my view every cent was well spent if it helped to avoid harm to Susan and her babe

Elise is a name well known to all lovers of classical music after Beethoven wrote a beautiful short piano piece ("fuer Elise") for a little girl named Elise who was learning to play.  It has been used as a learner piece ever since so is sometimes not appreciated as the masterpiece that it is.

Elise is actually the continental version of Elizabeth (pronounced eleeza in German) so there is a possibility that she will be nicknamed "Lizzy".  I imagine that Susan hopes not.

Parents often have different ideas about the version of their child's name that should be used.  My son has convinced most people to call him "Joey" but I call him "Joe".  I think his mother mostly calls him "Joseph" when referring to him.

Another picture of the beautiful babe

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mobile phone blues

Mobile phones (cellphones) have definitely exceeded my understanding of them.  Ten years ago I could send text messages on them but I got a new one about three years ago that did so many things that I have never quite dug text messaging out of all the available functions.  I was pleased that my new phone included a camera and took some photos with it but I have never figured out how to get the pix out of my phone and into my computer.  I imagined that some sort of USB cable to connect phone and computer would be needed but none was supplied.

Recently, however, my phone began to play up so I needed a new one.  Obviously, the thought came to me, I needed to upgrade from my old button phone to a new-style touchphone.  Experience of not understanding my phone, however, had made me wary.  Before I bought a touchphone, I needed someone to show me how to work it.  So I went to three different retailers, including Dick Smith, and sought to have the product demonstrated to me before I bought it.  Nobody had the time to do that.   They all told me that I would "pick it up".

"Phooey to that!" I thought, and walked out of the store with my money still in my pocket.  So I went down to the post-office and bought myself another old-style button phone for $49.  Maybe I will work IT out one day. At least I can make and receive calls and I can at least read text messages.  It's got a horrible ringtone that I would like to change but I don't know how to do that either.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Romance and turning points

I think that those who know me would agree that I am not a romantic type of person.  And I have no problem with that.  But anyone who has been married 4 times would seem to have some claim on being romantic.  So let me wander a little through my past.  At age 70, such wanderings are, I think, par for the course.

In my teens I was too much concerned with religion to have any interest in women but I do remember two married ladies from my congregation as thoroughly admirable women.  I imagine that both Ruth and Sylvia Reynolds of Cairns are by now deceased but I retain my high opinion of them both.

When I was about 19 or 20, I became a member of Ann St. Presbyterian church in Brisbane and joined the PFA group there.  I was rather taken with Kay Houseman.  I liked the way she did her hair and admired her beautiful blue eyes.  But am not sure if I ever got to take her out. She is still known at the church and I believe is now a married and divorced lady.

I did however take out fellow PFA member Rhoda Roberts.  She was a sensible, good-natured, down to earth girl.  When we were  walking past a pub once, however, I said to her that maybe we should go in for a drink.  Since we were at the time both teetotal in the best Presbyterian way, it was a joke.  But Rhoda mentioned the utterance to her mother -- who thereupon forbad Rhoda to have anything more to do with me.  So no romance at that time.

About a year later I met Janet at a folk-music place. She was my first real girlfriend.  She was 16. We did have a rather intense relationship but was it romance?  The relationship went on until her parents forbad it so I think it had some claim in that direction.  Her parents did not like that I had a beard.  I still think Janet was/is an exceptional lady.  She used to play me Chopin's Fantasia Impromptu on her goanna. I can still hear it.  Surely Chopin is ineluctably romantic?  She now lives in France with a French husband whom she greatly admires.  Lucky man!

Life after Janet had a lot of ladies in it but the next one that stays in my mind is Isabella Schmidt-Harms.  I met her at a Goethe Society function at the University of Sydney.  She had the bloom of youth upon her and fitted the Scots description: "a bonny lass".  She was the daughter of the West German Consul in Sydney.  I took her to a musical  -- Man of La Mancha, I think  -- but basically did not know what to do with her.  I get on easily with English and Australian women but I don't really understand German women at all.  I think that German women expect German men to order them about whereas I am more used to good old Anglo-Saxon "signals" to guide behaviour.  So I never asked her out again.

I felt rather foolish about that at the time.  It would not really have been hard to progress matters further and if romance had developed I might well have followed her back to Germany.  My German wasn't too bad at that stage and I would have been fluent within 6 months.  And there is a lot of German in my personality -- Prussian punctuality etc. I am even a devotee of sausages!  And a diplomat's daughter would have socially elevated contacts so I might have ended up among the movers and shakers in Germany.  And Germany is a much more important place than Australia.

I saw all that at the time but deliberately opted out.  I could have been a very good German -- the high culture would have suited me greatly -- but it was a lot easier to be a relaxed Australian.  I was lazy and unambitious.  Still am. So that was a turning point  -- a road not taken.

High culture:  Dr. Merkel, above, at the opera.  She is Germany's "Kanzlerin".  She attends the opera regularly.  Classical music is widely followed and esteemed in Germany (most of it is German anyway).  Most German federal politicians have doctorates (some dubious)

Another such turning point came my way when I was in England and met Margaret.  She was/is a member of Britain's hereditary aristocracy  -- a genuinely upper-class person.  She was/is a lovely lady and wanted to marry me at the time.  I seem to have very good acceptance among the upper echelons of English society so I have no doubt that I could have developed my standing in England to whatever degree I wanted if I had married Margaret.   But again, life in Australia seemed a lot easier.  Margaret is very tall, too, which I like.  We have stayed in contact, though very infrequently.

The next possibility of romance is probably my second wife, Joy.  Joy was/is a very good natured lady with a very good figure.  I met her at Mensa so she was/is bright too.  We were together for 7 very amicable years so I think some romance has to be allowed there.  We used to dine out every night of the week.

And then there was Jenny, my third wife.  She was the only woman to whom I ever gave total committment.  But she let me down.  She gave me a fine son, however, so there are no hard feelings.

Then there was Geraldine, whom I still think of as my little sweetheart.  She let me down too  -- repeatedly.  But there is still a strong feeling between us. We just don't do anything about it any more.

I met a lot of nice ladies after Jenny and I broke up and I even married one of them!  I married big Kath (she was a 5'11" tall redhead and looked great generally) 6 weeks after we met and the marriage lasted 3 weeks!  I think that was a romance in the best Hollywood style!

And then there is the present lady in my life -- Anne.  I have told her -- and mean it -- that I am with her to the end so maybe that counts as romantic -- in my stiff Anglo-Saxon way.

So I now live an obscure life in an obscure part of an obscure city and am quite happy about it.