Saturday, November 29, 2014

A hailstorm and a birthday

On Thursday (27th) evening, starting about 5pm we had the mother and father of a hailstorm with quite a lot of the hail being bigger than golfballs -- all accompanied by cyclonic winds that blew the hail in a horizontal direction a lot of the time. I was blogging at the time but was aroused to my surroundings by the loud bangs of the hail hitting my house. We lost power after a few minutes. Brisbane is a big town, however, so only a narrow corridor was affected but the Gabba was in that corridor.

Joe had his friends Eugene and Kristian over playing computer games but we were soon all watching the live spectacle of the storm.  The storm was in fact the most ferocious hailstorm I have  ever seen so I remarked at one point that it must all be due to global warming -- and I am pleased to say that everyone laughed at that.  Global warming has become a joke.

Most houses in the area seemed to have at least some broken window glass and some cars had  multiple holes in their back window glass.  Joe had his windscreen hit and was left with a crack in it.  As the windscreen is a laminated one, however, that did not limit operation of the car.  Quite a few cars in the area had extensive hail denting in them but both Joe and I escaped that somehow.

We lost power until about 10pm and internet until about 5pm the next day.  We went out in search of food at about 5.15pm in Joe's car but the traffic jams were horrendous with the traffic lights out.  We ended up at the Sunny Doll restaurant in the hope that they might be able to feed us from their gas stoves but they said they needed electricity to see what they were doing.  So we went into Woolworths (which has backup power) and bought a roast chicken, bread rolls etc and took it back to our place and ate it on my verandah under candlelight.  I even managed to make tea using the gas stove.  It was all rather fun.  Part of the roof came off however so my kitchen had a waterfall in it for a long time.

Dudley came over and fixed the roof the very next day and luckily I also had Jeff booked for that day so he took care of the broken windows.

And today, Saturday, we had a lunchtime party at Suz and Russ's place for Saharah's 5th birthday. I bought her a pack of 6 toy trains with confectionery in them so that suited a train-loving girl.  The big hit was however a little girl's cosmetic set that Jenny bought for her on my behalf.  Saharah LOVES cosmetics: A complete girly girl.

Joe bought Kate along to the party and she said she enjoyed it.  I talked mostly with Jenny.  Russ cooked some excellent sausages on his BBQ and I had 3 of them.  It was my "free" day however so my diet was not compromised.  Joe drove us there and back, which I was pleased about.  I don't like driving these days

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Weather report

Some people reading here may just possibly be aware that Brisbane had a major storm this afternoon which produced quite a lot of flooding in some parts of the city.  Where I am at Buranda is fairly elevated, however, so we had no flood grief at all.  My son and I simply drove to our usual local Japanese restaurant (Sunny Doll) for our supper and got marvellous food as usual. There are some brilliant Chinese, Thai and Indian cooks but Japanese cooks are the best.  They know about umami.

At the Sunny Doll, Joe always orders Jasmine tea to go with his meal.  You might think you know all about that but you would be TOTALLY wrong. Japanese Jamine tea is not remotely like Chinese Jasmine tea. It tastes rather odd to me but it is MILKY -- and Joe is a milk freak.  He also always orders Lassi at Indian restaurants.  Milk is his addiction -- for which I am profoundly grateful -- considering all the other foul things that young people get addicted to these days.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A final visit from Von & Co. before their departure

They came over at 2pm for afternoon tea.  It was a pretty hot day so we met in Joe's room, as he has the best air-conditioning.  Joe even tidied up his room in advance!

I had some Japanese curry products ("Golden" curry sauce and "Vermont" curry sauce) to give Von & Simon just by way of introducing them to Japanese curry.  They can probably get the stuff in NZ if they know what to look for.  I also gave Simon a bottle of ready-made Teriyaki sauce, which he looked at with great interest.

On her visits to my place Von has on a couple of occasions said how much she likes my tea.  It is Tetley tea, an English brand.  I have a big box of it so I gave her a small pile of it to take home.

Von gave me a packet of a Pakistani curry sauce which they like.  Simon makes mutton curry with it.  It is Achar Gosht Masala and Von says it is their favourite curry.  Apparently I can just toss it into my crockpot with a few other ingredients and that is all there is to cooking it.  Hopefully, I can find some mutton to try it with.  Anne is very keen on mutton so she might be able to track some down.

Joe spent a lot of time playing with Hannah, which she greatly enjoyed.  He plays the sort of impromptu games I played with the earlier generation and he is very popular with the littlies because of it.  He really livened her up but she wore out after a while.  That was a bit of a surprise as in my day I always wore out before the kids did.

An amusing thing was Von on chocolate drinks.  She thinks that things like Milo are too weak.  She goes for the original cocoa, which she can put in large quantities into a drink.  She likes dark chocolate (as I do) so she likes her drinks dark too.

Von is an amazing sentimentalist. Paul and I are great sentimentalists but Von leaves us both in the dust.  She has mementoes of almost all of her past  -- starting from when she was a little girl.  So it was amusing that she remembered my writing desk -- which I still have -- from way back.  She was pleased to see it again.

One of the curries

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Back to the Bollywood

I put on a sendoff dinner, starting at 6pm,  for Von & Co. -- as they fly out early next week.  There were 9 or 10 of us there plus kids.  Sahara was looking very pretty in a mainly green sundress.  Suz has got a real girly girl there.  The dress went well with her blue eyes, blonde hair and very white skin, in my opinion.  Von was wearing one of her long full skirts, which is what suits her best in my opinion.

The story of my fountain pen got a re-run to considerable hilarity. I mentioned that Simon couldn't work it out until he read the instructions and he said "I hate instructions".  I agreed with him .  Men don't read instructions unless they are desperate.  It is against our religion.

Von was very lively and kept us interested with her various comments.  She has become as good a talker as Paul -- but not as  loud.  She speaks in quite a soft contralto voice, like the lady she is.  She spent a lot of time trying to convince George that he needed to take a holiday in NZ.  But George, like me, is off holidays these days.  Building things is George's holiday.

I had always been a bit concerned about Dusty's good nature,  I thought people might use it to push him around.  But I saw that my fears were unfounded.  At one stage Russ suggested something to him that he disagreed with -- which he responded to with a loud "No" and a big frown.  Russ was thrown back by it.  So I was delighted to see that.

Hannah was mostly minded by Simon while Von talked to us all. Davey was there but without Anna-Marie.  For once the kids didn't run around the restaurant like mad things, partly due to Matthew not being there, I think.  I rather like to see them running around as it means they are having fun.  And the Bollywood rarely has other customers.  Their trade is mostly takeaway.

The food was good as usual.  George and I had Tandoori chicken, Suz had a peanut curry and Anne had Moglai lamb.

Friday, November 14, 2014

With Von & Co at the Sunny Doll

I was keen to introduce Von to the Sunny Doll as it is by far my favourite restaurant these days.  It is Japanese food cooked by very polite Japanese people and the Teriyaki Chicken Don really is magic.  Von departs very soon so we had to squeeze it in whenever we could.

Hannah was in a really "High" mood, full of smiles and chatter. And she got through an entree serve of Karaage (fried) chicken with no trouble. She is a great little kid and good-looking like her mother.

As expected, we all enjoyed our dinner and went back to my place for tea and bikkies afterwards.  On sorting out my desk drawers recently, I discovered that I am the owner  of about 30 pencils and 7 pencil sharpeners.  I have no idea how I acquired any of them but there they are.

So when Von suggested that I find Hannah something to draw with I was able to provide a selection of pencils, which Hannah enjoyed using, though she can't really draw as yet.  I never use pencils myself.  I think some tenant or tenants must have left them behind.  Von said they are a good resource for whenever I have littlies visiting.

I drove us all to and from the restaurant in the Starlet, which I enjoyed.  It really is a great little car, but a bit noisy in its old age.

Teriyaki chicken don

Karaage chicken

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Morning tea with Von

Von & Co came over to my place about 11 for morning tea.  Now that their house is under contract they have a lot more time to spare.

I had two puzzles for Simon:  A strange gadget that seemed to have something to do with opening bottles and cans but nobody so far has been able to guess exactly what.  Simon was stumped too.

A much more interesting puzzle was a Parker fountain pen that George gave me a couple of birthdays ago.  It was one of those "some assembly required" gadgets and I could never figure out how to assemble it.  I gave the job to Simon on the grounds that he is very clever technically.  But it nearly stumped him too. He actually had to read the instructions! And even then it took him a while.  I now intend to use the pen to sign cheques.

At one stage Hannah slipped off her seat and hurt herself slightly -- making her cry.  We were at the time however opening the box of  choc-chip cookies that I customarily provide for morning and afternoon teas.  So Von said to Hannah:  "Want a biscuit?"  And as soon as Hannah saw the cookie, she stopped crying and gave a big smile instead.  She likes her food.

It was a very pleasant morning tea.

UPDATE:  I think Von does not like to be beaten.  When she got home she hit Google hard until she found the source of my little mystery gadget.  See the illustration she found below.  The bottom part of it is obviously a bottle opener for crown-sealed bottles but the top protrusion was the mystery.  The accompanying text  said that the gadget is used to open bottles AND cans.  So it must be to help lift up the ring on a ringpull can.  I would have thought that fingernails could do that but maybe ladies with long nails might prefer to use a tool.

Another "3 sisters" lunch

November/December is of course party season as everybody gets into the mood for Christmas.  And I seem to be in the middle of that.  Anne and her sisters put on a lunch today in honour of their parents' wedding anniversary. Anne put out cold meats and salad and the other ladies brought along stuff too, so there was plenty of good nosh.

Ralph looked pretty glum when I arrived but, after  a while,  all the jolly chatter livened him up so much that he even gave us a jokey riddle to solve.  None of us could do it.  But the answer was amusing.

There were profiteroles for dessert and there were two left over when everybody had had one so Ralph and I declared male privilege and polished them off.

There was much talk of clocks as Anne had just that morning got the family mantelpiece clock back from the repairman. I was rather horrified that Anne has got the repairman to silence its "dong".  It is an hourly chiming clock but Anne says that its "dong" is horrible.  I lived happily with Westminster chimes for many years -- which mark not only the hour but also every quarter hour -- so I was unsympathetic.

There were of course various discussions about food and I mentioned that dripping is back in vogue.  Leading chefs are using it again with their roasts, fish'n chips and even in cakes and lasagne.  That was received with great interest and comment as we had all grown up on dripping cookery -- before the great oil  takeover some decades back.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Friday dinner at Ken's

Von is houseminding at Ken's place while he is away on another cruise.  She wanted to put on a "Thank You" dinner for Jenny and me so she had it at Ken's place.  It was so many years since I had been there that I was not at all sure I remembered how to get there.  In the event, however, I managed. I drove Anne's car in case I needed a SatNav to help.  Her new Corolla has got all the bells and whistles.  Anne drove us home with a few directions from me.

Simon made us an excellent curry and there was icecream afterwards.  The curry was originally intended as a mutton curry but Simon could not find any butcher here that sold mutton.  The dreaded fashion again, I suppose. So Simon made it with beef, which was not as good, he said.  I believe him. Mutton is quite strong-tasting so would go well in a curry.

I teased Von a bit about slaughtering Rosemary  -- her original pet lamb which very rapidly turned into a large sheep.  But she assured me that Rosemary was "safe".  There was some conversation for a while about the characteristics of the various  sheep in Von's small flock.  Lambs keep popping out so Von has trouble keeping the numbers in her flock down.  All very New Zealand, of course.  Von and Simon sometimes get a slaughtered full sheep from locals as a thankyou for something or other, so they always have mutton on hand in their freezer.  It's sheep country where they are.

When the desserts were being considered, I made the observation that even if your main tummy is full, your dessert tummy still always had room.  That amused everyone but they all hastened to agree.

I took along a bottle of Alsatian wine, which everyone spoke well of.  Nanna abstained so the remaining 5 adults got a small glass each.  there was no other alcohol.

Hannah plowed into her curry like the Johnson she is.  After the meal she brought out a "Thomas the Tank Engine" toy from Ken's toy room and played with it for a while.  It was a rather clever gadget.  Ken's toy room is full of toys to cope with visiting grandchildren.

Von wore her LBD ("Little Black Dress") but I would have preferred her to wear the long full skirts she usually wears.  I think she looks very feminine in them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Joe and I watched the Melbourne Cup on TV

There were two great races on at Flemington. And the horse race was a nail-biter as usual:  Another amazing finish, marred only by the fact that two of the runners had to be put down after the race.  A truly sad aftermath.  I had 4 horses in various sweeps and none of them got anywhere!

I always take an interest in the other major contest of the day:  The fashions on the field.  I know nothing about fashion and for 364 days of the year take no interest in it -- but I figure I can once a year try to inform myself about it.  And what I thought I knew was turned upside down yesterday.  I thought the winning fashions were bound to be pretty sober and wearable anywhere.  That's not what happened.  I couldn't get past the winner's aluminium hat!

Anyway, some pix from the great day:

Christine Spielman in her aluminium hat

The dress was OK but are those leather gloves?

The winner with the runners up

Megan Gale let colour do the talking

And the anti-skin rules were not always enforced


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Another High Tea

I put on a high tea at 4pm today to give people another chance to chat to Von while she is over here from NZ.  There were about 10 adults present plus kids.  Von came over a half an hour early to make the cucumber sandwiches.  I had the cucumber sliced and  soaking in white vinegar and all the rest of what was needed laid out for her.

I provided some good lamingtons, some cupcakes, some chocolate mini-croissants and NZ Afghan biscuits and the ladies all brought stuff as well so there was plenty to eat and a fair bit left over.  Simon made his NZ dip which was yummy.

I noticed that Von and Tracy had a good chat but Von spoke to most of us at some time.  It was a pleasure to see her and twinny Suzy with their beautiful blue-eyed children.  Sahara and Dusty got into the cakes and biscuits as they are given little of that at home.  Suz said that they associate my place and family occasions generally with yummy food.
Jenny made the tea and organized various things, including the washing up -- which was most appreciated.  Nanna also came along, which was good to see at her age. She told me I was young!

Joe brought along his friend Eugene and had his usual play with the littlies. He even played cars with them for a while. They like Joe because of that. Joe said the Tea was "fun"

An interesting thing to see resulted from Von bringing along a box of toy cars from Ken's place, where she is staying.  Ken is off on another cruise.  Dusty, as expected, got into playing with the cars but the two girls did likewise.  Car mad girls!

If there had been any feminists present, they would have thought that Von is a feminist.  In fact she took a wrong turn altogether from a feminist viewpoint.  She was in a high-earning job and had that "career" that feminists idealize for some strange reason.  So what did she do?  She chucked it in and moved to a quiet country town in New Zealand to live as a housewife, enjoy her little daughter growing up and grow her own vegetables.  She in fact lives a life that really is idyllic and she greatly enjoys it.  A wise woman.  She was even wise enough to get a husband who cooks!

I introduced a couple of the blokes to Clayton's ("The drink you have when you're not having a drink").  You see and hear very little of it these days and in NZ you can no longer buy it at all.  I really like it however.  And it is low calorie so it suits my diet.  I drink heaps of it.

Tracy approved of my putting on a High Tea at the "correct" English time of 4pm.  Australian afternoon teas are mostly at 3pm or thereabouts.  The occasion was only partly English, however, for various reasons -- one of them being that I greeted my guests wearing not a shirt but an Australian worker's blue singlet.  It was a hot day.  But if I had worn that in England, everyone would have been deeply puzzled, no matter how hot it was.  And while lamingtons are an essential at a good Australian afternoon tea, that is not so in England.