Old folk at lunch

Monday, December 25, 2017

A good Christmas



On Christmas Eve Anne was still recovering somewhat from a minor illness but she got over to my place in reasonable shape.  I had our usual Christmas eve food -- French cutlets -- ready to cook and Anne cooked them nicely. They were rather thicker than usual so I ate only four of them, which is well down for me. I made my usual salad to go with them and added some pickled onions to it.  Anne LOVES pickled onions but they are bad for her (reactions) so I put in only two for each of us. Putting two strong tastes -- vinegar and onions -- together gives a very strong taste indeed.

It reminded me of when Jenny made seafood paella,  Maureen would always have some even though she was allergic to the seafood in it. I remember her once telling me about her reaction the day after -- adding "But it was worth it".  Apparently it's common for people to really like what they are allergic to.

Christmas day was a bit unusual.  Jenny had gone to the trouble of having four kids but not one was in town to celebrate Christmas with her.  And Anne's three kids were away too.  So Anne had her Christmas lunch with some old friends with whom she has had Christmases before and I went to Jenny's place.

It's interesting that Jenny's kids have gone to opposite ends of the earth, Scotland and New Zealand.  And yet both are completely at home -- speaking their native language freely and understanding how things are done in their new country.  It's because we are the descendants of brave British people -- seafarers and settlers who went to the ends of the earth despite the ever-present risk of death in their fragile little wooden ships. So many places on the planet are now home to us.

So there were only three of us at lunch -- Jenny, myself and Nanna.  Nanna was in good form however, depite her 93 years, so it was quite a jolly occasion.

And the opening of the presents had a real highlight -- a sturdy cardboard box all the way from Scotland.  Scotland has always had a place in my heart so presents from Scotland was really special to me.  It was of course from Paul and Susan.  It contained cups with artwork on them done by the kids and some excellent photos of them.  I reproduce below the one of Primrose.  She seems a great kid so I am looking forward to meeting her one day.



As she always does, Jenny went to great trouble with the dinner -- ham, roast chicken and all the trimmings.  The ham was particularly good.

And the dessert was remarkable, a big Pavlova, which is one of my favourites.  Nanna made it, despite her never before in her 93 years having made one.  And it was perfect.  I had two helpings.

Cats

It was very hot in Brisbane on Christmas day -- around 35 Celsius.  So when I got home at about 3pm, I immediately thought of the cats -- cooped up in Joe's flat while he and Kate were away.  I thought they might be suffering heat stress.  As it happened, they seemed to be OK but they must have been uncomfortable in their little fur coats. Humans are the only animal that can take its coat off. So I closed the verandah door, the front (lattice) doors and opened my door.  I thought they would sit in  front of the lattice door as the lattice enables full contact with the air outside.  With typical cat perversity, they didn't do that however.  They were much more interested in wandering around in my apartment.

Anne came over that night and we dined on some of the excellent leftover ham on bread rolls.  We do that every year as it's the only time we seem to get first-rate ham.

After dinner we watched a DVD of a rather peculiar French performance -- by a Norman (Rouen-based) opera company -- of Purcell's opera "Dido and Aeneas".  There was an awful lot of dancing and prancing and leaping about which added nothing to the story so I won't watch it again. If I want to see acrobatics I will go to a circus.  The mezzo who sang Dido --  Vivica Genaux -- was quite a fine looking woman and emoted very strongly.  I thought she would have to be French because of that.  We British types emote only sparingly.  But she was actually born in Alaska!  The words were all sung in English as that was -- for once -- the original language.

Anne thought that the visuals detracted too and suggested that we might enjoy it more if we turned the video off and listened  to the music only. As Purcell's music is excellent, I might just do that.

After we went to bed there was a lot of wind and heavy rain, which we both enjoyed

Friday, December 22, 2017

A busy week


I had some serious surgery yesterday (Thursday) after the events of Tuesday and Wednesday described below.  There was a large line of subcutaneous tumors at the left-hand margin of my face -- stretching from my jawline to my forehead.  And a previous punch biopsy had confirmed that they were SCCs, a nasty cancer type. And they were growing rapidly so had to be got out soonest, even if it was on the threshold of Christmas.

I was a bit unsure whether the surgeon would or could get it all in one go but the procedure I underwent was a same-day Moh's type -- as a day patient at a good private hospital -- so that inspired confidence.  And, in the event, good margins were apparently achieved.  So the procedure went well and I was in no pain even when the local had worn off.  My surgeon costs thousands but for that he delivers very close joinups of the cut surfaces, which leads to very rapid healing.

My second concern was how well such a long excision would take to heal, considering that I mostly sleep on my left -- so I looked like sleeping upon a fresh incision.  I steeled myself, however, to sleep on my back only that night and achieved it.  I also did not have my usual extensive late-night drinkies so took a sleeping tablet to adjust for that.  I thought I had some Temaz around but could not find it so I took a Stilnox.

Stilnox is a bit notorious for weird effects and I was not spared. I was in a strange state for most of the morning afterward and did not really wake up until about noon.

Anyway, as I write this late on Friday night, I feel back to normal already.  The dreaded cancer is gone and I can't even feel that an excision has taken place.  Paying for first-rate plastic surgery is hugely worth it in my view.

Joe is driving to Canberra in the morning for Christmas at Kate's parents' place so tonight I shouted him a  "bon voyage" dinner of a sort that both of us particularly like -- Japanese MOS burgers.  They are unique in my experience

We had our burgers at Sunnybank, which was greatly crowded, overwhelmingly with East Asians, mostly Han.  Joe and I share great respect for the Han so we were very much at ease with that. An oddity was that the MOS burger joint was one of the few that was not busy.  Do Chinese not eat Japanese?  Rely on it.

A small reflection: As an afficianado of hospital rules, I am aware that  the anaesthetist is supposed to come in before the procedure to explain things to the patient and deal with any questions.  Some time after that the proceduralist comes in too for the same purpose and shortly thereafter you are wheeled in to the operating theatre.

On Thursday, however that protocol gave way to the obviously good rapport between the anaesthetist and the surgeon  They both came in together to see me and we had a brief but jolly discussion about a few points.  They obviously knew that I was someone they could talk to easily.  As I am a retired academic, that is one of my privileges.  I am accepted as someone on their level  -- because I am.  Some people complain that their doctors won't talk to them.  They all talk to me.  All men are NOT equal.

So in the operating theatre, I was in the hands of people who were well disposed towards me.  That has got to be a plus.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A saga ends



The sharers I have living at my place mostly stay for quite a while and we get to know them well. So when they move out we tend to regret seeing them go. The good-humoured Sikh guy in the back room moved out in early October so we were sorry to see him go.  He had been there for 4 years. The guy in the front room has been with me for nearly 30 years.

The back room was a bit run-down, however, so Joe and I decided to renovate it before re-letting it.  In particular, it had an old plastic sink in it that had become very grotty. The sink cabinet was however a very solid one made of real wood so I wanted to preserve that and just get a new sink to go on top of it.  The existing sink was an odd size, however, so that gave us problems.  Eventually we decided to get a new benchtop from Bunnings and drop a caravan sink into it.  We managed to make that work only because of the great talents of Dudley, who even did the tiling around it once the sink was in.  It probably took us a month to get the job done with all the issues involved.

And then we had to get a tenant.  I advertised in both the Brisbane newspaper and on an internet site for finding flatmates.  But it was slow going.  Most of the applicants were on the dole and I didn't want that.  They too frequently get behind on their rent.

But after around two months,  today I finally  let the room -- to a quiet young Brazilian guy.  I think he will work out.  Below are a couple of photos of the room





Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A big reunion



One member of my birth family is already deceased but the three remaining were together for once on Tuesday night:  Roxanne, Christopher and I. Rox and Stefan came down from Rocky for a couple of days and this time brought their twins down with them:  Emmeline and Kelly.  Christopher arrranged the Tuesday night dinner at the Story Bridge hotel. It's a beautifully renovated old hotel but their prices reflected that. They were eventually full-up even on a Tuesday night so many people are presumably used to hotel prices (steaks around $35). The food took about an hour to arrive after being ordered but that is common in hotels and what did eventually arrive was good.

People were a bit slow to arrive but we eventually had both of Christopher's children: James and Madeline.  Madeline brought along her girlfriend, dressed in an American burlesque sort of way. 

Kym came too and readily took the bait when I made a few old-fashioned conservative statements, such as referring to Ceylon as Ceylon. Kym is very "Progressive" and politically correct but she has a good sense of humour too -- which she undoubtedly needs to get on with her husband, my brother, whose attitudes are similar to mine. One thing I noticed was that she tossed her hair a lot when she was trying to needle me.  She has a lot of hair so why not use it?

Anne came with me but Joe could not come due to a clashing engagement.

The twins were both nice-looking young ladies but one was short and one was tall.  Emmeline was the short one and Kelly was tall.  Roxanne is 5'4" so that explains Emmeline and Stefan is just over 6' so that explains Kelly. With her mother's pretty face and her father's long legs, Kelly was quite striking to look at.  Tall women do tend to have an advantage in that way. She is also socially pleasant and has the light of intelligence in her eyes.

I should explain that.  I find I can tell highly intelligent people just by their eyes.  I am not sure I can explain it but it has something to do with them taking long gazes at things.  They see more so take longer to look at people and things.  They have a "seeing" (reflective, searching or enquiring) gaze.  Kelly's father Stefan has it too.

Stefan is a great conversationalist so helped keep everyone near him interested. He could talk to me about house renovations and talk to Christopher about old motorbikes, for instance. 

Roxanne talked a lot about her experiences in Saudi Arabia and their attitude towards women.  She was in Saudi for a couple of years while Stefan was there making big money as a telecom technician.  Roxanne is quite critical of negative attitudes to women so you can imagine what she thought of the Saudis.  Her twins were born there so it is a small oddity that two very Nordic looking young women have birth certificates in Arabic.  There are not very many blonde and blue-eyed Arabs.

Christopher was in good form, buying drinks for a lot of people.  Business must be good at the moment. Anne enjoyed meeting the twins and talking to a lot of the family.