Old folk at lunch

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Another good weekend

On Saturday night I arranged a dinner for Sandi to meet Jenny.  Sandi is the daughter of Joyce -- and Jenny knew Joyce from age 17 on -- so Sandi was keen to hear some history about her late mother.

We had the dinner on my verandah so Jenny came over early and cooked us up a gluten-free lasagna.  Fortunately, Jenny is a keen cook so she can make even gluten-free food taste good.

Jenny and Sandi hit it off together immediately so there were many stories told. I mainly supplied a bottle of my favourite Tyrrells Verdelho.

Then on Sunday I was again social.  Joe and I had our usual Sunday brunch at the nearby pieshop and then Joe drove us over to Suz & Russ's place to deliver presents to Dusty, whose birthday it was.  He was already swamped with presents but no matter.  That's the way of it these days. One of the things I gave him was a plastic trumpet, on the grounds that all boys should have a trumpet.  I was however a very quiet trumpet. He liked it, though.

I got into quite a long discussion with Russ about matters connected to his work -- refrigerants, occupational licensing, trade training etc.

I also had a good chat to Suz, reminiscing about when she and Von were kids and teeners.  I asked her why she had been such a grouch when she was a teen.  She said it was just teenage hormones and rebellion.  I used to call her Lady Fun when she was a kid and in her post-teen years she has resumed that happy disposition.

Joe played a Pokemon game with Sahara.  We left around noon.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A visitor

Two or three months ago I began a fairly frequent email conversation with GR, a reader of my blogs.  He found that my observations closely reflected his own so was interested in sharing his experiences as confirmatory of what I write. We are both fascinated by the psychology of the Left.  He works in a social work context so has seen a lot of them and their hypocrisies close up.

After a very good correspondence had developed, he decided to come up and see me. He lives in Victoria.  I don't normally encourage visitors whom I don't already know as my degree of deafness can make conversation difficult.  This was however clearly an exception and, as it turns out, GR has a loudish voice that I could hear quite well.

The visit went well but, out of caution, I had arranged only for us to have a brunch together -- so the visit was rather brief.  In the circumstances, I felt that I should arrange a longer visit with me shouting the airfares next time.  That happened this weekend.  GR arrived via the Airtrain just after 10am on Saturday so I drove us both directly to the Buranda shopping centre and my usual brunching place.  My usual place was very busy at that time, however, so we went to the Japs instead and had some excellent Chicken Teriyaki Don.

We then adjourned to my place and continued the discussions -- interrupted by both of us having a mid-afternoon nap.  I have a guest room so that was no problem.

We spent most of our talking time on my verandah, a place that gets a lot of praise for its breezes, outlook etc.  And we do see wildlife in the mulberry tree in front of it.  On this occasion we watched a pair of Australasian Figbirds feeding on the mulberries.

We discussed the Trump phenomenon and the widening of the Overton Window.

GR spoke on symbolism in the 23rd psalm.

We talked about the nature of money, about how there will always be a need for services, and about economies being self tightening like a tablecloth with weights on it.

I had my little joke about my art "Installation" (A vise clamped onto my writing desk)

I mentioned the contrast between vicious and virtuous cycles in interpersonal relationships.

And we spoke about anger never feels itself to be in the wrong, but always feels itself to be in the right and that is why the habitual anger of the Leftist is hard to give up, because wanting to feel/be right is naturally part of human nature --  from the basic physical survival drive, through intellect and moral issues we like to be right. And leftism has a very strong anger component, at society/reality, at how things are, so leftism always feels itself to be in the right.

For dinner I cooked us a "Tandaco one-pan dinner".  It was just mincemeat and noodles basically but an all important "flavour sachet" was included -- turning the meal into quite a good one.

Later that night I played GR some Bach via Youtube, which he was interested to understand.

Next morning I gave him a light breakfast and had a cup of tea with him.  I have a customary Sunday Brunch with Joe from about 9:30am each Sunday so while that was going on GR went to church.  He is a Christian but is not much fussed about the denomination, which is common these days. So he went to Holy Trinity Anglican, which is nearby to me.

In my experience the Rev. Paschke is not much of a preacher but GR liked his sermon. It was based on Luke 18:

"He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[a] thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

I like that scripture too and believe that it forms part of my values.  GR saw the Pharisees there as directly analogous to the modern-day Left, who think that they know it all and are confident in their own righteousness.  So it is no wonder that Leftists hate Christianity.  Christ condemned them.  Leftists much prefer the arrogant religion of Mohammed. So we discussed that at some length.

For lunch, I heated up a couple of pies.  Then GR had to get a move on to make sure he first caught the Airtrain and then his flight.  There is an Airtrain station just a couple of minutes drive from me so it makes sense to use it.

Friday, October 14, 2016


I have some vague pretensions to being a cook these days.  I get ready-prepared meals from Woolworths or Aldi and just heat them up.  But Woolworths and Aldi have good chefs so I think I mostly serve up pretty good food. But even in that humble role I was this week "relegated", if I understand that sporting term aright.

I had some Kassler chops (smoked pork chops done the way they do them in Kassel, a German city) so asked Anne over to share them with me on Wednesday.  I thought I had done rather well preparing some horse doovers and a pickle collation in advance.  Germans eat a lot of pickles. And I also cut up a couple of onions and fried them.  But as soon as Anne arrived, she took over cooking of the smoked pork and did things that didn't seem to correspond to the instructions on the packet.  But in deference to her great culinary experience, I left her to it and just hovered in the background.  And she got the smoked pork just right in the end. And she also brought over a potato bake that went well.  So we had a great dinner, albeit with more food than we could eat. My pickle collation was rather underused so it went back into the fridge. So I was glad to be relegated

And then the next night I invited Jenny over to share a gluten-free feast. I had acquired a variety of gluten free products and was interested to see if they were any good. We started with a guacamole dip and went onto the main dish of pork sausages.  I started out cooking the snags but Jenny also took over there.  So once again my feeble culinary skills were sidelined.  But Jenny got the snags just right so we again did well.  I also trotted out the pickle collation and we got near to finishing it  that time. I had the rest for a late-night snack. My third and fourth courses were not needed. Again we had too much food.

So I was lucky to be in the presence of two most accomplished  cooks. My own feeble skills were rightly bypassed.

I suspect that when a man offers to cook a dinner for a lady he might often end up with the lady doing most of the work.  He has just got to look feeble and the lady steps in to save the dinner from disaster!

Monday, October 10, 2016

A busy weekend

I have on a number of occasions on the past put on a party late in the year in my backyard with the theme being "Pizza and champagne".  I shout the pizza and champage for all.  For one reason or another, I have not done it recently, mainly because two families who used to come now live far away -- one in Scotland and one in the Shaky Isles.

But at short notice it occurred to me that I should do it again while Von & Co. are here. We decided to have it at Jenny's place, which limited the guest list a bit but I made sure to get George along, as I always do.  Jenny sent out the invites and also ordered the pizza.  That way she could get a gluten-free pizza that she was happy with. I brought along  three bottles of Seaview Brut -- which people always seem to like -- but only two were opened.

There were ten people present, including Joe and Kate -- plus the three kids.  When Joe arrived he was grabbed by the kids even before he could get though the door. So Kate was left standing outside for a bit while Joe fended off his young admirers. He plays rough games with them, which they can't get enough of.  The mothers of the kids concerned are not worried about what Joe does -- for the excellent reason that I used to play the same sort of games with them when they were kids.  Generational succession!

George was in great form.  He entertained the kids with nursery rhymes -- little Miss Muffett etc. But George acted the rhymes  out so he had the kids all sitting enthralled in front of him.  The bit about the spider coming down was infinitely popular.  George had to do that bit over and over again.

George also spent a bit of time with Anne and she later commented how she could always have an interesting conversation with him. He and I talked a bit about the way the media present Aborigines.  George was disgusted that everything is said to be our fault rather than the fault of the Aborigines themselves.  I heartily agreed.

At my request, Von dressed Hannah in her little red Gingham dress and Von herself wore one of her long skirts.  Such skirts look very good on her in my opinion.  The one she wore was a 3-tier skirt, which I last remember as being fashionable about 30 years ago.  But I liked that fashion at the time so that is probably another instance where Von and I see eye to eye.  Von was born glamorous so doesn't need to spend much money on clothes.  She tells me she spends more on clothes for her daughter than clothes for herself

I have always spoken of Suz as having a good heart and I have now become a beneficiary of it!  She has noticed that I am a bit doddery these days so does small things to help me -- like standing up to offer me her seat.  She has got her mother's good heart 100%.

Jenny was aware that there have been some difficulties beween Anne and myself recently so Anne wondered how welcome Jenny would make her.  I told her not to worry and, in the event, Jenny was particularly welcoming to Anne, which really touched Anne.

We had the pizza in the BBQ area out the back of Jenny's place, where the kids could run around like mad things, which they proceeded to do. Russ was not present because of work demands.

Then on Sunday we had a lunchtime BBQ at Jenny's place, with Jenny cooking sausages, kebabs etc.  George sent his apologies and Anne had another engagement but my brother came and Russ came.  Kate was busy working on her thesis for her M.A.  So we would have had similar numbers to Friday.

Simon did up a quantity of his NZ cheese sandwiches and there were some good Dim Sims too.  We had another bottle of Champagne plus a bottle of Houghton's white that Jenny particularly likes.  With so many good things, I rather overate but still had room for a couple of small pieces of cold watermelon at the end.

Joe was pretty quiet until he got up and played with the kids.  Then he ran around like a mad thing too!

Nanna also took charge of a couple of games for the kids.  She in fact got around a fair bit.  She helped clean up at the end of proceedings too. It was great to see a 92 year old lady still making herself useful.  Since most people present shared some of her genes it must have been a great source of hope for a good old age.

At one stage someone mentioned Aborigines.  My brother is married to a lady with some Aboriginal ancestry.  But practically everyone chimed in to say that Aborigines are mostly a pretty hopeless lot and need to stand on their own two feet more.  There were of course several Pauline Hanson supporters present.

My brother noted the red Gingham dress that Hannah was wearing and said she looked like a tablecloth in an Italian restaurant. Neither he nor I are big on tact!

I mostly talked to Simon and my brother but I spent most of my time watching the kids, which is always a great pleasure to me.

At one stage we revisited a lot of the old family stories -- about Suz being denied a cream bun, about me getting her drunk at the time of Joe's birth and about Von telling me that I couldn't have her hair! -- etc.   The old stories are the best stories.  Always good for a laugh.

I subsequently remembered a couple of stories I should have told -- about Von telling me she was cold -- what a fool I was there!  -- and when Suz had lost her "Pacer" (propelling pencil).

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Meatloaf update

I have posted previously on my quest for the  perfect meatloaf. So I was pleased to see in Woolworths a Jamie Oliver beef meatloaf.  Definitely worth a try.  Anne came over to share it and I served it with my basic salad and toast.  My basic salad had tomato, cucumber, avocado, olives and Feta but no onions, lettuce or dressing.

We both thought the meatloaf was quite good, though Anne prefers the one she makes and I prefer the one I got from Aldi. To welcome Anne over, I put a couple of bunches of flowers in her room to greet her when she arrived -- mainly red and yellow roses. They were a MUCH bigger hit than the meatloaf.  When Anne got home next day she photographed them and sent me the picture.  See below:

For breakfast next morning I took Anne to a place called "Medley" at the end of Wharf St., Kangaroo Pt. It is right beside the Brisbane River and seems pretty trendy.  I ordered the Shakshuka in order to find out what it was.  It seemed to comprise mainly tomato, beans and chick peas plus two poached eggs.  It was served as a sort of soup in a very hot cast iron dish.  It tasted quite good but it was too soupy for me.  Anne had an avocado & Feta dish. It was at any event a pleasant location, but you do of course pay for that.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

A lively weekend

Von & Co. joined me for Friday brunch.  I took them to the Caffe di Moda at Stones corner.  I ordered my personal version of the lamb salad, Von had the regular version and Simon had a bacon & egg meal with various trimmings.  Hannah had chicken nuggets with chips.

Von and I covered a lot of ground with reminiscences and family discussions and it was a pleasure to see that we still see eye to eye on a lot of things.  Von remarked that she likes Kate so she gives Joe permission to marry her.  It was a joke of course but like a lot of jokes it had something real in it.  Von's judgment is greatly respected in the family so if she had been critical of Kate it would have caused concern.  Her approval does mean something.

So we agreed that Joe is getting a good deal with Kate.  I added to that by saying:  "Kate is getting a good deal too.  Joe is tall and well-built and that is 95% of it for most women".  Von simply replied:  "It is".  Von is a born psychologist.  She has been closely observing people and thinking about them since she was a little kid.

I spent a bit of time playing silly games with Hannah, just as I used to play with Von when she was that age.  Hannah was certainly ready for fun.  She initiated a lot of the play. She is quite a fun kid, actually.

Then for Saturday lunch we went to our usual dosa place.  We always go there when Von comes over.  Jenny joined us but Joe was down in Sydney and Suz already had something on that night. Von had dressed Hannah in a pretty little red Gingham dress.

We once again mentioned my favorite story of Von getting into my bed when she was a little girl.  I have often told that tale so it was interesting that Von for the first time gave her reminiscences of it. She remembers it well, including how she felt at the time

After dosas we went back to my place for tea and coffee -- helped down by a packet of Afghans that Von had brought over from NZ.  I really enjoyed talking to Von.  She is so sensible and cheerful.  And after that we got my old Amiga computer going so Hannah could play some of the old games

I mentioned that Von and I used to get around together at that time without a word being spoken.  We understood one-another well enough so that we didn't need to talk to enjoy one-another's company.  Simon is very quiet so I told him that I had prepared Von for him by giving her the experience that much talk was not needed to get on well. Von chats quite well these days, though.  She is her mother's daughter after all.

Then on Sunday Suz and Russ hosted the whole family for a lunch. Jenny drove me out there as I don't fancy that long drive much these days.

They served up a nice mild curry.  Kenneth was there so we discussed his book and his invitation to Government house.  Ken is now The Author.  Anne has asked for a copy of his book so we arranged that.  And Maureen had brought along one of her excellent Pavlovas.  I really like Pavlovas so I congratulated Maureen on it.

The kids all played well together -- loudly, of course.  And they discovered Dan at one stage so climbed all over him in search of fun -- which Dan delivered. Walking around with a kid slung over each shoulder is great fun for the kids concerned.

And when I got home, I finished up the afternoon with a good nap.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A haggis plus tablet!

Haggises are of course always a memorable event and when they come with tablet, it is a bonus.  Most people think tablet must have something to do with pharmacies but Scots know better.  Tablet is a great favourite in Scotland. It's available just about everywhere.  It is basically fudge minus the cocoa.  It really does melt in your mouth.


So when Anne bought a haggis recently, she bought some tablet to go with it.  And she bought both over to my place last night.  So we had a haggis dinner.  After many years of cooking it, Anne has become an old hand at cooking haggis and I think the haggis I had last night was the best yet.

And Anne went the full hog and cooked tatties and neeps to go with it. She is famous for her neeps.  She knows how much I like cabbage so she did some of that too -- cooked in cream!  Very yummy.  I ate the cabbage first.  Health freaks would scream!

We had it with Tyrrells Verdelho, as usual.  And we had the tablet with a cup of tea afterwards.  So it was a pretty Scottish night. I didn't get into Highland dress for the occasion but I did don a white shirt as a token of "Dressing for dinner".

Anne stayed overnight so this morning I took her to the cafe at the "Cottage Garden" plant nursery in Coorparoo.  It is a bit on the trendy side but a pleasant venue anyway, with lots of greenery around, as you would expect.  We had their breakfast special, which was huge but very tasty.

The two breakfasts plus coffee cost me just over $50, for anybody who might be weighing up whether or not to go there. The service was very slow, even though we arrived just after 9:30am, which is usually a quiet time at most places. The coffee was good, though.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A welcome back dinner for Von

Von & Co. arrived late on Saturday night so I put on a family dinner at the Bollywood so that we could all catch up with her. The Bollywood has hosted so many dinners for us that it is part of "home".  The owner has grown a beard but is otherwise the usual cheerful host.  As a Sikh, he SHOULD have a beard.

We had 13 adults there plus kids. I booked for 12 on a guess so that worked out well.  Getting RSVP replies is always patchy so I have to guess. I made a point of ensuring that George got an invite, as I always do.  And that worked well too.  George was in great form.

Kate and Von seemed to get on well and I think I know why. Both are real ladies. Kate is always very careful of her self-presentation (makeup, dress) so that fits. And as we all know, I have been referring to Von as "Lady Von" since she was 5. From what we hear of Elise, she is already a complete lady too -- at age 3. The fact that she has a gorgeous and very feminine mother may have something to do with that. It will be great to see Elise in November. Feminists greet the thought of someone being a lady with horror, but the men don't. So who's the winner there?

Maureen got Tim along, which was good to see.  Maureen spent a lot of time with the littlies.  She was always devoted to her boys when they were growing up so she obviously misses having little ones around.

Joe didn't say much but seemed to enjoy the occasion in his own quiet way.  He talks 19 to the dozen with Brenton but they are both computer programmers so have things in common that even baffle me -- and I WAS a computer programmer in the good ol' days.  But Joe does talk to me a fair bit when he is in the mood. I hear quite a lot of his thinking.

Ken was his usual interesting self.  He has an enquiring mind, which leads well into conversation.  He talked a bit about his literary endeavours and he mentioned that he gives away copies of the novel he has written.  So if you have not got one, you can now go for it.

Both he and George were scornful of this "cultural appropriation" fad which seems to have become very pervasive.  Everybody adopts lots of our Anglo-Saxon culture so why should we not use bits of various native cultures at times?  I suppose that we use Sombreros, Indian head-dresses and the like for entertainment, while others adopt our usages in deadly seriousness.  But what's harmful about entertainment? The new Puritans of the Left seem to be comprehensively against humour. Joe and I laugh our way through the day so it fits that we are not Leftists.

The littlies ran around like mad things, which I like to see.  They get such enjoyment out of simple things. The restaurant mostly has a takeaway trade so there was mostly no-one else in the restaurant to be bothered by them.  A family dinner NEEDS shrieking kids to be a proper family dinner, in my view.  I was particularly pleased to see how well Hannah got on with her cousins.

I supplied some bottles of Seaview "champagne", as I usually do but everyone was very sparing about drinking it.  None of us need to drink to have a good time and it was in fact a great night.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A marvellous rendition of Meine Lippen, die küssen so heiss by a young Anna Netrebko

From Giuditta (Judith) by Franz Lehar

I know this song well in a performance by the gorgeous Natalia Ushakova.  Ushakova is good but she can't beat the passion Netrebko puts into this performance.  The singer is supposed to be half-mad and Netrebko conveys that

Netrebko seems in fact to be particularly associated with that aria.  She has certainly recorded it often.  And like the great thespian she is, she has done it in a number of ways.  With the Proms performance being particularly jolly.  But the above performance is truest to the plot of the operetta.

And I know what she likes about that aria. It gives her great opportunity to show what she can do. Grand opera is very boring.  People are either dying or about to die. In Carmen he kills his lover and in Aida the lovers get immured.  How ghastly!  But it is much jollier in operatta. Guiditta is undoubtedly the darkest of the  operettas but in the end the reunited lovers just acknowledge one another and go their separate ways.  So this aria gives Netrebko scope to show what she can do. It allows all sorts of expression -- which she delivers brilliantly.

When? When and where was the aria recorded? It was recorded on 7 July 2006 in a grand concert with Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon at the Waldbühne ("Forest Stage") near Berlin -- before a huge audience of 20,000. Germans like their music and this aria was after all in German.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Fish, Pergolesi and coconut ice

Anne has been in the grip of a nasty winter wog for over a week.  Her heroic sister June has been supplying her with chicken soup and savoury mince with complete disregard for her own health but she is a former nurse so nurses are like that.

Anyway, as Anne was fighting her way out of the worse effects of the wog, I realized that she had been rather housebound and would like an outing.  So I tempted her with an offer of fish n chips on my verandah.

That may not seem like an offer for the ages but both Anne and I have enough English in us to be great fans of good fish n chips. And I do have a fish shop near me that is spot on.

And my verandah might seem rather humble but it is mostly open to the outdoors, has a vigorous Mulberry tree in front of it and gets good breezes.  And it has wildlife in it -- possums mainly.  But last night was a real highpoint.  Anne actually saw a fruit bat in the Mulberry tree. But most people reading this will probably know from experience that my verandash has its merits

So anyway the deed was done last night and we dined well -- accompanied as usual by the excellent Tyrrells Verdelho.  But what to have as dessert?  I had a couple of offerings but one thing I had was Darrell Lea coconut ice, very  traditional.  Anne went for that.

We reluctantly agreed that with her woggy state we should not kiss but other actions were allowed of course.  What's a four-letter word meaning intercourse?  You think you know don't you?  Well I will tell you.  The word is "talk".  Couldn't resist that old joke.

Anyway, after dinner we listened to music, as is our wont.  We heard some good Schumann and Brahms piano music but the highlight was a recent performance of the Pergolesi "Stabat Mater":  One of the greatest pieces of religious music ever written. It was amazingly good and got through fully to both of us.

And I gave Anne some of the coconut ice to put in her purse and take home. So it was a great night.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A dinner and a disgusted dog

The two things above are not related but they are alliterated

I took Sandy to dinner at a nearby Chinese restaurant last night.  As she is the daughter of two deceased people I was very fond of, it was unsurprising that we got on well.  She has inherited her father's love of classical music too.  So we arranged to dine together again from time to time.  I have always regretted not having a daughter and she has lost her father so we decided, half seriously that from now on she would be my daughter and I will be her father.

When I went into the bathroom at my place this morning I saw out of the window the dog next door relaxing quite close to where I was.  So I woofed at him.  He looked up, saw it was me and put his head down with a very disgusted look.  Dogs and people are good at interpreting one another's feelings but I have never before seen a dog do such a clear expression of disgust.  He was right to be disgusted, of course.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Another supper

It was Fathers' Day today so Joe asked me what I wanted for it.  After some deliberation, I replied that I wanted him and Kate to cook me a dinner for us to have on the front verandah.  So they cooked me a very nice dish of Spaghetti Bolognaise followed by Profiteroles for dessert.  The Profiteroles were very chocolatey so Joe polished off what was left in the dish once they were eaten.

I spent most of the time telling Kate about events in the family when Joe and Timmy were young.  I also told her about what a little lady 3-year-old Elise is and how she and Paul have a very strong "Daddy's Girl" relationship.  I pointed out how Von too was a born lady and how well that has worked out -- with Von leading just about her ideal life in a small NZ country town. So it's a fair bet that Elise will do well too.

So it was a good Fathers' Day.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A last supper

Anne and I had a last supper last night.  It was the 11th anniversary of us meeting and we had our favourite dinner -- lamb cutlets with salad, bread and red wine.  It was meant to be a farewell dinner to our relationship but it was not at all sad.  It was great night, actually.

It's not really a last supper as we will still be seeing one another periodically.  We are both happy with that.

What sent Anne and me apart is my declining energies as I got older.  These days all I want to do is sit in front of my computer all day, whereas Anne still wants get out doing things and going places.  Perfectly reasonable.

The new lady I had in my life didn't last long but I have a couple of other possibilities in mind.  I even got a message from an Ekaterina -- a beautiful Russian lady.  But it turned out that she still lives in Russia -- which was no good to me.  Interesting, though.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A big change

Anne has found someone who suits her better than I do.  After an 11 year relationship that was a bit of a surprise but it shows what a juicy lady Anne is -- to get herself a new bloke whilst in her 70s.  There were some things important to Anne that I just could not give her. We still have warm feelings for one-another but will no longer be seeing one another regularly for the foreseeable future.  It is best for both of us to put our energies into our new relationships.

My new lady, D., is not an academic type but is bright nonetheless.  She owns and manages her own small shopping centre.  You have got to be both bright and tough to do that.  I also, of course, have real estate interests so that is helpful.

She is a widow so that is rather good.  Divorcees tend to be  always keeping an eye out for a better offer whereas widows just want committment, usually.  I have twice given unwavering committment -- to Jenny and to Anne -- so I am capable of it, even though it has not been reciprocated so far.

Unwavering committment means intending to stay together until parted by death.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Some surgery with a difference

I rarely remark on my plastic surgeries to remove skin cancers.  There are so many of them.  But one I have just been through had me pretty anxious about it.  It was in the aftermath of an excision that was unsuccessful.  There was originally this tiny lump near my right nostril that I realized from long experience was probably a "bad 'un".  The surgeon cut it out but the pathology report came back to say "incompletely excised".  The report suggested that the tumor was aggressive and had spread both widely and deeply.  So to get it all, a rather nasty hole in my face seemed needed.

I hate having my face sliced up and I hate anything affecting my nose so I was pretty tense as soon as I knew what was ahead.  What was ahead was a Moh's procedure -- where the surgeon cuts out what he thinks is needed and then promptly puts the specimen under the microscope to see if the cut had got it all.  If not, there is a second cut.

Mohs can be done as an in-office procedure at a suitably equipped surgery but this looked like being a pesky one so I arranged for it to be done in a private hospital.  And last Tuesday was the day.  I was first on the list at 1:30pm and did not get out until 7:30 pm.  During that time I was on the operating table four times -- 3 to get all the bad bits and a 4th time to put my face back together.  There was a hole in my lower face about the size of a 10c piece to be patched up.  I don't know how the surgeon did it but he somehow did get it all covered up.  He is quite brilliant.  So my face will be back to normal as soon as the stitches come out.

The drama was not over, however.  Next day I had a lot of facial swelling, which indicated that a bacterial infection had got into the wound.  On some past occasions like that I have had to be admitted to hospital and be put onto a Vancomycin drip to deal with it.  With the benefit of experience, however, I promptly put myself on a high dose of clindamycin  -- two capsules every 6 hours.  And it worked!  By next morning the swelling had reduced.

So I have come out the end of all that completely fixed up without too much trauma and am once again feeling on top of the world!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The best Pergolesi yet?

I came across a new video of a great favourite -- Pergolesi's "Stabat Mater" just recently.  It is the best rendition I have heard and I have heard many.   See and hear below:

The way the soprano threw herself into it was truly impressive. Never has "pertansivit gladius" been sung with greater passion. Sadly, whoever put the video up gave no information about it. So I had to do a bit of digging to find out all about it.  But I did in the end find this:

"Accompanied by the French musical ensemble Les Talens Lyriques, Spanish soprano Sabina Puértolas and American mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux perform Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. It is composed in 1736, in the final weeks of Pergolesi’s short life (4 January 1710 – 16 March 1736), and scored for soprano and alto soloists, violin I and II, viola and basso continuo (cello and organ). Conductor: Christophe Rousset"

The performance seems to have been in April this year.  In Spain, Ms Puértolas is not Spanish.  She is Aragonese (from Aragon, ancient Aragon).  There is an artistic history of her here, which shows her as a very busy singer -- so she is obviously widely appreciated. I tried to find out some personal history, even trawling through the notices in Italian, but could not find a thing.

I may have to take more notice of Spanish singers.  I was greatly impressed by the performance of Evelyn Ramirez Munoz as the divine voice in the premiere version of Falvetti's "Il Diluvio universale".  Munoz is a Spanish surname so I assume Ms Munoz is Spanish but you can never be sure these days.  Argentinian? See below:

I note that there is another rendering of the Falvetti just out and she seems to have grabbed her old role in the latest version as well.  See below.  She is the lady in black.

I guess that by Northern European standards she over-acts but in singing a work from Sicily, what the hell?

Friday, August 12, 2016

A very pleasant lunch

I had a rather bad week with a heavy cold but by Friday morning I was just about right again.  And that was just in time for a visitor up from Melbourne.  He is a psychologist like me who also takes an interest in politics. He and I have corresponded about the psychology of Leftist politics in a rather desultory manner for some time now.  And I was very impressed by the depth of his insights.  And he finds my analyses pretty spot-on too.  So he finally decided to come up and see me.  We arranged to have lunch together.

Because I am a bit deaf, I don't normally go in much for such meetings but his thinking seemed well worth an effort to communicate in person.

And he actually told me some things about myself that I had been aware of but which I had tended to ignore.  One thing was that in my blogging I tended to speak quite harshly of people I disagree with and that I could therefore come across an an angry person.  He was of course quite right.  Joe once told me the same.  Since I am in fact a very cheerful person who virtually NEVER gets angry and who laughs his way through the day, that impression is a bit unfortunate.  I will have to see what I can do to correct the misimpression.

He had some comfort for me, however.  He said that although my writing is harsh, he could always see a kind heart behind it and meeting me in person had confirmed the kind heart.  So the psychologist was  psychologized!  I actually put a lot of little jokes in my writings but they may be a bit on the subtle side.  I do wonder at times if anybody gets them.

So that was an unexpected lunch topic.  I thought we would be talking mainly about politics -- global warming and all that sort of thing.  And we did have a few laughs about the poor old Warmists and their inability to debate.  But mostly we talked about personal things. And one of them was a most unusual thing.

I am a great fan of Yuja Wang as a classical pianist.  I think she is the world's best. And G., my visitor, shared that feeling. He was even familiar with her interpretations of Schubert Lieder, which I particularly love.  So a quite unexpected meeting of minds there.  We are both filled with wonder at the emotional rightness of her interpretations.

That a Chinese lady from Beijing would have such depth of perception of a rather arcane Western artform seems incredible on the face it of but Yuja Wang IS incredible.  G. and I even had in mind a couple of  Lied interpretations that we both particularly liked:  "Gretchen am Spinnrade" and "Der Erlkoenig".

Yuja Wang

There were other meetings of minds over lunch but those were the two big ones, I think.  It was certainly a very rare sort of meeting in my experience.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Proof that I ignore food correctness

Below is what I had for my supper tonight.  It said on the packet to bake them for 10-20 minutes -- which was a bit vague.  So I cooked them for 15 minutes.  They were however not very puffy so I should have cooked them for 20 minutes.

I had them with sliced pickled cucumbers and green tomato relish

Monday, August 1, 2016

Nanna's birthday

It was her 92nd but she was still mentally all there and could even get up and down a long flight of steps.  An example to us all!

We had the celebration yesterday -- a Sunday buffet lunch in the BBQ area at the back of Jenny's place. I gave Nanna a handbag!  Jenny selected it so Nanna might like it.

Jenny put on a wealth of sandwiches and such things and I really bogged into the ham sandwiches.  Yet there were still sandwiches left at the end!  Suz and family were there as were Joe and Kate, plus Anne and me.  Joe didn't say a lot, which is usual for him at family occasions.  He talks up a storm with his friend Brenton, however, so it obviously depends on the degree of common interests.  Anne had a big chat with Russ. Anne is good at chats.  I contented myself with making jocular remarks from time to time.  Mostly I talked to Jenny.

An odd thing I did stemmed from the fact that I had a big cleanout of my kitchen cupboards the night before -- with Anne's enthusiastic assistance.  The result was a big bag of pots and pans on the way to Vinnies.  But I took the bagful to the party in case someone fancied some of it.  Suz enthusiastically grabbed three big pizza dishes that Joe had originally bought and various other bits went off too.  The bag was much lighter when I handed it in next morning, which was good.

I had a small but amusing conversation with Russ as I left.  He had been giving Sahara a lot of attention and help with Pokemon matters.  So I said as I went past:

Me:  You are being a good father Russ.  Is Sahara a Daddy's girl or a Mummy's girl?

Russ: She's definitely a Daddy's girl, which is good.  Not so good is the fact that Dusty is a Mummy's boy.

Me:  Oh Dear!

Russ: But don't worry.  I'll knock it out of him.

Russ has a very good sense of humor.  I think we all do in the family, as a matter of fact

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Cucumber magic

When you eat out somewhere and order a salad with your meal,  you normally get some cucumber with it.  As it happens I REALLY like cucumber, particularly if it is not long off the vine.  But the salad you get in restaurants is obviously cut up by people who DON'T like cucumber.  It is cut up into such thin slices that you get almost no cucumber taste from them at all.

And I have been experimenting with that.  I make a lot of salads these days and cucumber features in most of them. And what I have found is that the bigger the slice of cucumber, the more you get that great cucumber taste.  And if you have never experienced a great cucumber taste, I suspect that you need to find a better greengrocer.

I slice my cucumbers diagonally, as most restaurants do.  Just cutting them into circles is uncool.  And I cut the slices at least a quarter of an inch thick.  For children of the metric era that is about 1 centimeter (I think).  A slice of cucumber should be a delicious lump!


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Birthday month!

There are 3 of us with birthdays in July, Nanna, Joe and myself. So our celebrations began on the Friday before last.  It was a small informal dinner on my verandah with myself and Anne plus Joe and Kate.  Anne had offered to cook us anything we fancied but I felt like fish & chips so that is what we had.  There is a nearby fish shop that is very good-- called, surprisingly, "Fish Kitchen".  It is opposite the Dutton Park bonefarm.

So I ordered 4 battered Barramundi, chips, a Waldorf salad and some coleslaw.  Anne said there was something missing from the Waldorf salad -- croutons, I think -- and the coleslaw was the worst I have had.  But the fish 'n chips were  brilliant.  Expertly cooked fish n chips are one of life's great pleasures.

I was aware that the English often have vinegar with their fish  n chips so decided to try that  myself for the first time, using just white vinegar.  I liked it!  Somebody may care to advise me whether you put the vinegar on the chips, on the fish or on both.  I put it on the fish.

We had a bottle of Tyrrells Verdelho to wash it down.

Then on the Sunday of that weekend, Jill shouted Anne and me a lunch at her place.  It is a very nice little villa that Jill has made into a very pleasant environment.

Lewis had learnt of my liking for Tyrrells Verdelho so we had that with the dinner.  Jill cooked a very nice meal of seafood and pasta, as she usually does.  For dessert we had pancakes.  I had mine with maple syrup and icecream.

And Jill carried on a great dinner party tradition that most women observe.  She prepared some food which she forgot to bring out -- in the oven as usual.  Good old Lewis eventually reminded her however so we got some rather well-done garlic bread with our meal. It was fine by me.

At one stage I congratulated Jill on her crystal salad servers.  She had inherited them from her mother.  Some people use silver salad servers and Jill has a lot of silver.  Silver reacts with the vinegar in the salad and gives you a nice little dose of silver oxide, which can be toxic.

I made a blunder.  Having recently become a pancake cook of sorts, I congratulated Jill on how nicely done the pancakes were.  It transpired, however, that she had got them from Woolworths!

Anne has recently come back from a cruising holiday and Jill & Lewis seem to cruise half the year away so a lot of the conversation revolved around that.  We also talked a bit about politics as we are all conservative.  Lewis made the point that Turnbull has been unfairly criticised for his narrow win in the Federal election.  As Lewis said, narrow wins are very common in elections, so the result was nothing new.  There is even an explanation of why that is so here

Then on the Friday just gone, Jenny cooked up one of the big dinners she does so well -- featuring egg-rolled pork!  A great family favorite.  It is a Korean regional dish and even Korean restaurants rarely have it.  There is quite a story to how we got a recipe for it.  And Jenny served a complete Korean feast, with plenty of Kim Chee, Kujeol pan and Japanese ginger.  I have never come across Korean ginger but it is bound to be similar to the Japanese product.  The two cuisines are very similar.

And for dessert we had chocolate cake, which sparked discussions of chocolate cakes past -- Schwarzwalderkirschentorte and Sachertorte in particular.  Jenny very tactfully did not put any candles on the cake

Nanna was very lively, taking part energetically in the discussions. Kate tried to give her a ginger cat but did not succeed.  "Mr Brown", a splendid Burmese cat, was remembered in that discussion. "Mr Brown" was the perfect cat. I am holding him in the picture below -- taken some years back

UPDATE: It was a little remiss of me not to say anything about the various birthday greetings I received.  This is the age of the internet so I received only two cards, a jokey one from Anne and one from Von. The one from Von was particularly appreciated as she included a DVD of some recent doings of Hannah.  Having the littlies growing up far away does mean that I miss much but with modern technology I can still get some substitute for that.

It's not often I acknowledge it but I am basically an old Celtic sentimentalist so that matters to me.  I have plenty of Celtic ancestry (Scottish and Irish) so the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as they say.

Among my internet greetings, I was particularly pleased to hear from Pat Timbs, whom I had rather lost touch with.  I was pleased to see that he is back in Sydney these days.  Ladies from China do beguile him but he can find that in Sydney too. Almost every day I see little Chinese ladies on the arms of Caucasian men so Pat is not alone.  Joe too knows a bit about that.

One can observe daily that the forever unhappy Leftists are wrong in calling Australians racist:  The number of Asian ladies on the arms of Caucasian men around the place tells you all you need to know about that.  Clearly, neither party is racist.

But perhaps the most remarkable greeting I received was from Moerbisch -- in German, of course.  And being from Austria it was sung!  Moerbisch is of course the last redoubt of Viennese operetta and, as such, is my artistic lodestar. I buy DVDs of their performances whenever a new one comes out.