Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Von and family arrived from the shaky isles last night: A family reunion that we were all looking forward to. It was particularly good because Joe was also with us this time. Paul was in England, though. Paul does a great job of livening up our family gatherings with his constant flow of extraversion and out-loud thinking so I have sometimes wondered how we would go without Paul. But we did fine. The chats flowed constantly. There are some pretty verbal ladies among us -- including Von. Von was really quiet as a little girl but she is as talkative as her mother these days. She has interesting things to say too.
So we had a BBQ lunch today put on by Jenny, using her new bells-and-whistles BBQ. Not so long ago a BBQ was a sheet of steel over a fire but these days it is an outdoors gas stove. And Jenny cooked barramundi for us all on it. So we now know that the BBQ can cook fish too.
Big Susan was there with her two but little Susan was at work so could not join us. Anne had a class at that time so could not come. Nanna was there -- our own nonagenerian and with all her wits still about her.
We talked a lot about NZ and Von's life there but in the absence of Paul I don't think we said much about politics. I mostly listened. One great topic however was my diet and Joe's role as a hard taskmaster. That did evoke some amusement. Everybody was however impressed to hear that the weight is already coming off and that my fitness has noticeably improved. Joe has appointed himself as my personal trainer and I really need that. I had got to the point where I could only just get up my front stairs. Everybody was amused to hear that instead of my usual sausage and egg breakfasts, I now have only all-Bran.
The kids were amusing as usual. Matthew sat next to me at one stage and I gave him a heavily buttered bread roll to eat, which he really got into. The boy likes butter. Hannah just lounged around mostly, looking like a perfect languid lady. Her mother was a born lady too. I used to call her "Lady Von" and sometimes still do. Von and I always got on well so that is the main reason I shout them the occasional trip across the water. She has an ideal lifestyle in NZ but not much money.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
As the final episode of my birthday celebrations, Jill shouted Anne and me a lunch at her place yesterday. She served a home-made egg and tomato pie which was very good -- plus a sort of cheesecake as a birthday cake,
Jill and Lewis told us a lot about their cruising adventures. They go on ocean cruises quite a lot and have become very experienced about getting good deals on such trips.
Lewis is involved with all sorts of organizations these days. He has made a remarkable recovery from his stroke. He is having a very productive retirement.
We reminisced a bit about old times and Jill updated me about some of the people we both know.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
On Tuesday Anne put on a special dinner for me in honour of my birthday -- for which I got out the candelabrum (a bit more elaborate than the one above), plus a few other candles. So we had a genuine candlelit dinner. I bought 16 lamb cutlets for the two of us so with fried onions, bread rolls etc that made a big dinner. Anne brought along some Sydney rock oysters for starters, which were, as ever, excellent. And we had a McGuigan red to wash it down.
And Saturday dinner was also flame illuminated. I have a fairly wide backyard so on rare occasions I like to do something there. And just about all I do is put on the very occasional dinner there. I have the dinners at night under party flares. So I do my bit towards consuming fossil fuels, as the party flares run on kerosene.
So I put on such a dinner last night in honour of Joe's birthday. As usual, it was a pizza and champagne dinner. That is humble fare but everybody likes pizza and I supply the champagne, a Seaview one that everybody likes.
Paul was waxing eloquent about England and how real estate is cheaper there than in Brisbane. He was talking about the Cotswolds rather than London, however. He likes a lot of things about England and, as a UK citizen by descent, he is entitled to live there. His ebullient personality is very un-English, however, so how well he would get on with the English is a bit of a question.
Paul had apparently done a Rolf Harris impersonation at a mining function recently, which was a bit close to the bone in view of Harris's recent conviction for pedophilia. When he told us about that, Jenny was very critical, saying that he should be more careful of upsetting people, but I defended Paul, pointing out that the gathering was a conservative one and as such unlikely to be politically correct. I have always defended Paul -- even from his own mother!
Russ and Suz brought their kids and both kids were greatly entertained by Joe -- playing games that consisted mostly of him tossing them about. They loved it and even came back to him with demands for "More"! It reminded me of the same demands on me by an earlier generation of kids.
We had 12 adults present, including Nanna but Timmy and Dave were missed. No doubt they had other fish to fry on a Saturday night, being both single again. George again lent his calm and sensible presence to our deliberations. Russ spent a lot of time talking to Joe.
One thing that amused me was after the dinner when we had adjourned upstairs preparatory to everyone going home. Paul discovered my biscuit barrel. I normally set out biscuits (cookies) for him after a dinner as he has the most incredible appetite. So when he discovered on my kitchen bench a big bottle of fruit slices he really got into them. He was at one stage walking around eating one slice while he had another one in his hand. And he made a final raid on them immediately before he actually left. They are very yummy so I don't blame him.
Fruit slice packet
The pizza was home delivered from Pizza Hut so I had very little to do. Joe and his friend Kristian got the tables and chairs out and Jeff set up the party flares the day before. I may be the world's laziest host but everybody must enjoy my dinners or they wouldn't keep coming.
Monday, July 14, 2014
Paul came over to my place at lunchtime on Saturday to have a look at Joe's new arrangements. Joe has moved into what was my sitting room and has crammed an amazing amount of stuff into it. He must have done some steady accumulating during the years he was in Canberra. In his new quarters he has his own bathroom and toilet so he has moved a step up from living in student digs.
Shortly thereafter we all went for a dosa lunch. Anne joined us. Dosas are always greatly appreciated.
After lunch we call came back to my place and sat around a table in my garden over cups of tea and coffee. We had some pretty heavy discussions with my explaining Hitler's rise to power, the intrinsically authoritarian nature of Leftism, IQ differences and such things. They had got very little enlightenment on such things from the usual sources. The fact that Fascism was "One big happy family" socialism versus Communism's "Class war" socialism would have been completely new to them.
Then on Sunday evening we had one of our big Indian dinners at our usual place to mark my birthday. For a variety of reasons some of the family group were unable to come but there were still 12 adults at table plus kids. Since we all know one another well it was a very happy and convivial occasion. George was there making his usual sterling contribution.
Paul was in high spirits and kept us all livened up. One of the things we discussed was the poverty of a modern school education. Paul was particularly critical of how little he had learned about history, English history in particular. At one stage I recited a few verses of Cowper's "Boadicea" and Paul felt incensed that he had been taught so little about those events. He had been taught Australian history almost exclusively, when the far more important history of Britain should have been outlined to him. Anne and I assured him that it was not always so. We in the older generation had been taught plenty of British history. George commented that when he had studied history in Britain years ago, history had started at the beginning, with ziggurats and the like. Paul felt mortified that he had never heard of them.
But it was a jolly meeting nonetheless. Very little alcohol was consumed. We were able to have fun without it and the conversation never stopped.
Joe had a good time with Dusty and Sahara, his nephew and niece. He plays with them much as I used to do with the earlier generation of kids. Matthew accidentally knocked a picture off the wall at one stage which embarrassed him but no harm was done.
Anne had good chats with Ken, as she often does. They have similar interests.
I think that what I enjoyed the most about the dinner is that it was in a sense traditional. I have been hosting dinners for family at that restaurant at least since 2006 so the tradition is not a long one -- though it is the life of a large dog! And I have put on dinners for various occasions -- sometimes more than once a year. And the recent dinner felt exactly the same as all those that went before. Some people could regard that as boring but I saw it as a pleasing affirmation of continuity.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Joe and I had a very amusing expedition to Ikea. Joe needed a bookcase for his new quarters at my place so to Ikea we went. And the one at Logan in ENORMOUS. It sort of never ends. I am convinced that without staff to call on for guidance you could die there through never being able to find your way out.
Anyway, we found the bookcases but then we had to find the way out. Joe had some ideas but we walked and walked until we found someone who gave us directions. That happened about 3 times. Eventually I buttonholed one of their employees and got him to guide us all the way to the checkouts.
Then we had to find the car. Joe kindly let me sit down while he went and found it but I was ecstatic when we finally drove out of the place.
A very small thing that happened was interesting. I have never been one to sweat the small things. I in fact ignore small things by and large. And it seems Joe is the same. At one stage during our hopeless wanderings we were passing some laundry baskets and Joe picked one up and took it with him. He didn't say: "I need a laundry basket", nor did I say: "Do you need a laundry basket?" In fact neither of us said one word about it and we still haven't! I was proud of my boy! I gave my credit card to buy it at the checkout but even then neither of us mentioned anything about it! Rather mad I suppose but it made sense to me.
Perhaps I should mention that when we arrived at about 6pm, we immediately queued up for one of their excellent suppers. The Swedish meatballs plus mashed potatoes plus Lingon sylt (jam) were brilliant as usual. I normally dislike mashed potatoes but the way Ikea did them I really enjoyed. Mr Kamprad (owner of Ikea) is a clever cookie. He gives you the food you need to fortify you for your expedition around his store.
Those yummy meatballs