Thursday, July 30

Loyalties

There will follow photos, which probably have no bearing on the textual content of this post.
I just felt I wanted to post the pics, to lighten the mood, or not so to speak.

Long ago, in another life, we lost some friends we had held dear.

I never really understood the loss of these friends, & could not work out the reason for the ensuing, seeming, hostility.
We had been friends with this couple for about 6 years. We had attended the divorce party, of the male, from his first disastrous marriage.
Gom was Best Man at the Civil Ceremony of their marriage. An occasion in which the Bride's father came to visit the City for the first time in 25 years!
Quite a feat, considering they lived not more than 10 miles from said City.

In the meantime we had witnessed the discovery, the awful journey of treatment, & subsequent death from cancer, Leukemia, of the younger sister of the Bride. A child of 11, whose life was too short, & too tragic to bear, for all concerned.

We had supported the couple in their grief, & supported them in their beginning marriage. We had cried with them, & rejoiced with them in triumphs of business, & property aquisitions. He acquired a business, & became Managing Director. A well respected business in the City. She acquired a more prominent position in her Accounting firm. All looked rosy & happy.

We spent many happy comfortable hours in their company. They lived on a farm, which was owned by the Bride's -single- brother. A lovely old homestead. We kept & maintained Pigs, on the property with our friends. We took turns to Market the Weeners. Bride + HYPH, Meggie + Groom. We boasted about better prices at the Market. We (I) helped with the neutering of the male piglets. I have blogged of this previously here.

As you can see, a lot of shared history & good times.

Then came a time, we bought our Country Hotel.
Our lovely friends came to visit often, & worked the bars (with pay) when we were busy, & stayed the weekends with us. Good friends indeed.

When Gom & I decided we would make the Big Move, & sell our Hotel, & come to Oz to live, we began negotiations very quietly, as was the way of Hotels, back in the day. We had an eager buyer, & it was all very hush-hush on all sides. A private sale negotiated in quietness & almost secrecy.

I wanted to tell close friends.Gom insisted we not tell anyone of our intention. I felt he was a little superstitious, but my loyalties lay with him.

I think later, after we had sold, & were awaiting a legal glitch to leave the country, our friends felt betrayed, that we had not told them of our intent. I feel it caused the rift, which was never healed, between our friendship. They were invited to our farewell party. The reluctantly attended late, & sour of disposition. It broke my heart, but I felt I had had to keep the faith of my loyalty to Gom.

I have wondered about it all, often, over the ensuing years. Was my loyalty also a betrayal?
I suspect my friends thought so, although I dont know that the husband viewed it as betrayal. On our visits back there, he was more than cordial...not so the wife.
On his visits over here, he contacted us, & seemed happy enough to see us, but we never saw his wife, & never saw her on an subsequent visits to that Southern City.

I tend to be a 'Loyal' person, who has friends from beginning school days. Gom on the other hand tends to shed friends along his way. He does however have long term friends he has had from school days. His Best Man from his first marriage is one he still regards as a friend.

Loyalty is a curious beast!
*********************
Look! How gorgeous is this little fellow!! My beloved cousin's Grandson.

Do you think he might be a Gingernut??


Hey look Mum, I am swimming!!

This, I could not resist! I love the LOL Cats, they always make me smile!



And this, just steals my heart! How touching, & it makes me want to cry, but I can't.
*************
In other trivia, I have had another haircut. Imagine my trepidation, when I turned up at my favourite hairdressers, to find he was not there!
Another male greeted me, full of assurance he could cut my hair.
I somewhat reluctantly agreed. We had a conversation, which immediately put me at ease. We laughed, & he did his scissor thing. I sat there, slowly realising I liked his style, I liked the shape he was achieving. Gom came to wait, he looked at ease. We laughed some more.
The man, who owns the salon arrived. Greetings were exchanged. He hovered a little- he normally cuts my hair.
The end result is very very pleasing to me. I told the hairdresser "Damn, You're Good!" He puffed with pride. Even Gom loves the end result. He even thinks it is better than the usual.
I suppose I will never see this wonderful haircutting man again. *Sob*.

Enya Carribean Blue

Monday, July 27

Life's little puzzles

Walking through a Supermarket. Looking for a nice leek, to use for a chicken pie.
Ye gods, $4 for one leek?? I thought leeks are winter vegetables? I thought they are now in 'season'?
I look again, & see it is an 'Organic' Leek. I find the term Organic, an absolute bloody insult. How many plants are inorganic! GrrrrPartially explains the price.

I keep searching, but it seems they just dont have any 'Inorganic' leeks. This is in the 'Fresh Food People' store too. bah!
We call into our local monster "Colds" store. Gom wants to indulge his sweet tooth. I ask him to look for a leek for me. (I am definitely more of a vegie girl!)

I go off to get my meds at the Chemist, & meet him coming down the Mall.
"I have just been to Colds for a Leek" He says loudly.
An old man does a choked snigger, on a bench. I can see his mind whirring over.

Gom gets the leek out of the bag, & brandishes it about. Old jokes about someone being 'rogered by a prize winning leek' spring to mind, & I muffle laughter. "It is a bit of a thin leek!" I say. The old man lets out a small laugh.
"Oh well, who needs a fat leek?"

**************
Wandering along the aisles of the freezers, just looking, to see what new wonders they have frozen, I spy a large wrapped package, obviously from the Deli Section. I look closer & see it is a fresh, whole, Trout. I begin to wonder why the person dumped it. Did they change their mind, finding frozen fish cheaper? Did they absently leave it there when they were examining something else?

I do sometimes think about that email joke of how 'old people amuse themselves'. You know the one, where they go about putting unwanted items in random trolleys, or rearranging the clothing racks, or mixing up the sauces. Or eating the nuts without paying as they idle through the shop? The Hovering Grape Gobbler, who absolutely pretends he ~I find the gobblers seem to be males, usually~ is not stealing the grapes as he makes laps around the grape displays. Or furtively ripping open a bag of chocolates, & pretending they spilt on the floor, so they hurriedly palm a few.

Or Mrs Bleating Blabber, who yaps on & on at the checkout while the harrassed young girl tries to remain polite as the queue grows longer & she grunts rather than answers, hoping Mrs BB will get the message & move along.

Why is there always one shoe lying in the gutter, or on the road? Where is the other, where is the owner? How did the shoe get there, was it thrown? Did it fall out of the window? Did it fall off the roof of the car? Did some long suffering mother or girlfriend sneak one & dump it, so she will never have to smell the beastly thing again!

But the strange thing is, quite often the lone shoe looks quite new. Quite tidy, one might say. I had a friend who said he was going to begin a collection of the lone shoes he found on highways & byways. I wonder if he ever did?

*****************************
A particularly peeving puzzle is the fact that Gom had a watch repaired,~ it had had a broken glass face~ & requested a new battery. We I collected it, it was not set to the correct time, so the lady set the time, I paid & off we went. Next day, it stopped, so Gom reset it, & it went for a while. He noticed it kept stopping, so today we took it back.
Turns out, "We are not watchmakers" & the best they could do, was offer the 'name & phone number of a watchmaker', or give a 20% discount, on a 'tradein' on a new watch. ie, they would keep the watch we had paid to have repaired. ???? Does that sound fair? It seems odd somehow. Why would they want to keep a useless obviously secondhand watch?
My daughter suggests they might want to cannibalise old watches & use the parts? It also has a very nice gold band.

**********
I bought $60 worth of Scholastic books for my Grandson. Six books with an average price of $10 each. I got them all for $2. Three for a Dollar! They were available at a garage sale, in almost new condition. He is thrilled with them, & his reading really is wonderful, considering he is only 6. It is a point of wonder when he begins reading aloud, from the highly 'suggestive' greeting cards, he sees displayed in our local Post Office!! at risk of seeming a prude, I feel like demanding they do not display such things at a level where children can access them! Some of them are downright crude! Which is ok, for adults, but I don't really think he needs to know about such things at his age?He has an above average understanding of numbers too, so he is doing really well at school.

He spent time here this morning, & was in the kitchen talking 'man talk' with his grandfather. "We don't need you here Nan, so run along!"
We burst out laughing!

We have had him for a couple of days, & enjoyed his company. Would have had him more, but his father has been recuperating from a broken rib, so he has been home to care for him.

***********************

Yesterday seemed to be really cold, & the best way to keep warm seemed to be cooking in the warm kitchen. I made pies, a huge pot of vegetable soup, meals for 2 nights & kept nice & warm while everything simmered & baked. I seem to have had an awakening of my love of cooking. I wonder how long it will last!

Perhaps it is all the cooking excitement with the MasterChef TV series. We didn't watch it often, but I admit we watched the final, & I enjoyed most of what I did see.

Another puzzle is the stop/start love affair with my patchwork progress. I am continually inspired by the blogs I read, however I have a presently patchy progress pattern.



Phoebe Snow, Touch Your Soul.

Wednesday, July 22

In Memory of School Days...

I was not sorry to quit school. I was glad I had a reasonable student attainment level, and I could afford to leave, whithout shame or dishonour.

In Primary School I passed all the levels required. Passed early onto some classes. I had begun my schooling late, due to the Polio Scare. Which closed schools in New Zealand for about a year. I had been due to begin school at 5 years of age, but due to closures, did not begin until I was 6 years old.

As did many of my contemporaries. I began with a class of children who were both 5 and 6 years of age. There was a 6 year old sister, who began with her 5 year old brother. I don't know that any of us feel we were cheated by that delay. I suspect we all made up the delay, by being moved rapidly up through our classes.

My memories from that time are sometimes dim, but other moments shine with a startling clarity. The fact that identical twins were put in seperate classes, simply because the teachers could not tell them apart.

The awful, hideous, vomity reality that we were expected to drink disgusting milk every day, which came in bottles, covered by cardboard tops, which sat in crates under a tree for shade, in hot summer weather. It made me sick every day. My mother had to write me a note excusing me from having to be forced to drink this vile substance. I still retch at the memory!

I still remember the wonderful old Oak tree, which seemed so enormous, & ideed, ageless, in our childhood photos. It was often used as a backdrop for school class photos. We loved that tree. It was so nice for the shade, & the little acorns & nut cases we used, to play teaparties. Such dainty little cups. We also played marbles on the barren, smooth, earth, which never grew grass, due to the spread of the Oak branches, & probably the roots too.

Moving on, up through the classes, we progressed, and it became a demarcation. We did not venture into the region of the Oak Tree. It was the domain of the Primers. We were now in the Standards, & were expected to observe boundaries. We could roam the 'Flats' which were flat patches of grass set aside for sport, or exercise.

The fact that the boys used the 'Flats' for smoking, or bullying was not noted or secretly ignoredby staff. There were the 'Bike Sheds' where the boys tried to cajole unwary girls into revealing 'more than they should'. Mostly, a vain exercise. The boys would swagger, & smoke stolen tobacco, or their father's pipes. Supposedly the 'second best pipe'. Which often turned out to be the 'best pipe'. Thereby earning a thrashing which required 3 days off from school, while the thief recovered from the 'hiding' which resulted, upon discovery!!

A teacher, taking a dislike to one particular pupil, who was tall for his age. He was particularly popular with his peers. When this spinster teacher singled him out for classroom riducule, the class, as a whole rebelled. We misbehaved & caused that ghastly spinster to run, crying, from our class.

A boy, of smallish stature, became our 'Class Leader' & he decided to go & calm her down, apologise, & get her back into the classroom. He later became a 'Leader' for a local industry.

Moving on, to High School. Some fun times, but some fraught times. I had a Geography Teacher who was either Irish, or Canadian. He was extremely Ruddy of Complexion. I could not undrestand his accent. I stared in horrified fascination at his glowing RED face, his popping, pale blue eyes, & all normal thought or concentration fled! I swear, I never understood a word of his classes, & he detested me as a student. He failed me. I felt inordinately proud!

Throughout my School Years, I had a Best Friend, for In School time. As it happened she had the same first name as I did. She was not keen on English, so I answered the questions. I was dim at Maths, so she answered the questions.

I had a Best Friend for Out of School, I spent most weekend staying at her place. The two friends knew each other, but did not often cross paths.

The School Time Best Friend, had an unfortunate luchtime habit. She loved Sardine Sandwiches. I hated the smell of them, so needless to say, when she broke out leftover sandwiches for afternoon tea, I tried to sit far from her desk. It was not always successful, as we needed to sit close for certain classes.

To this day, if I have a sardine sandwich, I remember those classroom tortures. I wonder at the patience, & forbearance of our teachers. Did they dislike them, as I did? Did it disrupt their train of thought, as they tried to grapple with the attention of post luncheon students, who were bored, & drowsy, with heat, & fullsome lunches?

I would never wish to relive a day of my school days. I can laugh at various events, but I can never feel totally at ease about any of them. I still feel that horror at the thought of Total Authority. Even though I was never in serious trouble, or had to front the Headmaster, for any misdeeds, I still occasionally have nightmares about such scenarios.

If you are a teacher, never forget the lasting impact you may make upon your student.


Monday, July 20

Our Worst Ever Vacation.

I have been reading over at Warty Mammal's about her worst ever vacation.

I must say, hers beats our hands down, for quality & quantity of certain substances.
The horror factor in hers is probably higher than ours, but I still regard ours as the trip from Hell.

We had friends & indeed rellies, who regularly went off in caravans, taking their children & seemingly had wonderful trips. They would come back glowing with good health & tans, & tell of what a great time they had.

Gom (who was Happy Young Publican Husband aka HYPH) was not keen, when I suggested we should hire a caravan & take the kinder down to a riverside camping ground. We had visited this area for day trips & noted the lovely shallow gentle river flow, the nice, still water, ideal for children to swim. Lovely clean river stones, & sand on the banks, & beautiful native bush to explore. A truly idyllic spot for really relaxing & getting away from the hurly burly of Hotel life.

Our children got all excited at the prospect, & so Gom made some inquiries about getting a caravan. The friend of a friend who had one available for hire, was willing to deliver it to our door prior to the proposed day of departure. Of course we examined it's neatness, & marvelled at the compact layout. Children chose their berths, & all seemed very exciting

As it happened the night before our departure one of our Bar tenders, & her husband to be, had a party to celebrate the fact that they were leaving next day to go off & get married. We were the only ones who knew the reason for the party, everyone else thought it was the impending groom's birthday party.

Friday morning dawned befuddled & grumpy in some quarters. The about-to-be Happy Couple called in to give HYPH a hand to hook up the caravan. To this day I still cannot believe someone had not thought to check out the marriageability of the fittings on both car & van.

I sometimes think there are little signs which should be heeded when making plans. Little hints that the best idea might be to quit while you are ahead.

Our first inkling of any troubleshould have been the mighty hangover HYPH was suffering was the fact that the towbar ball on our car, was the wrong size for the towbar cap of the caravan. This meant that the Groom-to-Be & HYPH hared off all over the city seeking out a larger ball for our car! Needless to say, the Bride-to-Be & I, were not overly impressed.

Then came the actual fitting of the new larger ball. Much swearing & sweating went into that little operation. Special tools had to borrowed, more tripping about to find said tools took place. Time was ticking by, children were champing to be off, to say nothing of the fact that the About-to-Be-Happy Couple, were distinctively Unhappy, & terse & tense snaps were all that were being exchanged between them. They had reached that stage where they dare not look at each other, things were so electrified. That was a little warning of things to come too, their whole marriage has been like that, but I guess the making up afterwards has kept them together.

Eventually we got the blasted ball fitted. We got the luggage stowed, heeding advice of conflicting ideas. One said stow it all at the rear of the caravan. Another suggested stowing it close to the tow bar end. Someone else said it needed to be scattered all about the caravan.

Of courseSadly, we heeded the wrong advice, & took the rear end option. We had barely got to the outskirts of the city, when the caravan began to fishtail across the road, almost causing HYPH to lose control of the car. In fact almost flipping our not so small car over, at one point! So we pulled over, & began the task of putting the luggage into the front end of the van. That done, we cautiously set off again.

On the day in question there was a fierce & strong Nor Westerly wind blowing in Christchurch. People who live in Chch will know this wind. It is strong & hot, & powers across the plains to hit with a wallop. As be began to cross the Waimakariri River Bridge, which is a very wide span across the river, we were hit by the Nor Westers. We felt lucky to get across without being blown off the side of the bridge, & my fear level was at fever pitch.

We continued to be buffeted & tossed by the wind for the remainder of our trip to the Gorge Camping ground. When we arrived we were directed to 'our' site. We had a power hookup point & the ablution blocks were within trudging limping distance.

HYPH reversed the caravan into our site. A little crooked. I was directed to hold the end,- the ballcap end- while he maneuvered the van to sit straight. Since the van was quite large, & very heavy I decided the best way to get a good hold, was to straddle the towbar.
WRONG MOVE!
Somehow, I ended up almost being raped by this bar, & the pain was incredible. Far worse than childbirth & I was reduced to tears & could barely move, let alone walk, or even whimper. Swearing was impossible, due to lack of breath! Or even coherent thought, let alone formulate an oath. After half an hour or so, & some painkillers, we began the task of erecting the canvas awning onto the side of the van. Being total novices, we asked the man in the site next to ours, if we were doing this correctly. "Yes" he told us cheerily, "Looks fine to me!"
We had asked the owner of the van if there were any instructions, but he assured us we could not make a mistake & nothing could go wrong.

Famous last words. That night, the winds changed to Southerlies, the temperature plummet-ted to nigh on freezing & it poured with rain! The awning was on inside out! The rain flooded our little back yard area, under the awning, & turned it into a mud bath. Imagine our horror. We still should have heeded these signs & run for our lives.
Worse was to come!

We sorted out the awning, got the mud puddles dried & sat inside in the freezing cold. So much for our summer fun filled vacation. HYPH found a heater in the caravan, so we turned that on, & decided to try a little TV we had been given. ZAP! The power ceased to be! Feeling utterly foolish HYPH, who by now was resembling what he later would become, GOM, in fact, went sheepishly outside to see what the heck he could do to repair the damage. The cheery neighbour site man was out there fixing things.
"Sorry about that!" He grinned, "My fault for having too many heaters going!"
HYPH said nothing & slunk inside again.

Next disaster to strike, was our daughter got a very upset stomach. Vomited, then had to be taken every 10 minutes up the hill to the ablutions block for more horrible effects of her sickness. We blamed the food we had bought at the little shop, & vowed to steer clear of that in future.

Just as she was recovering from that, she got so badly bitten by the sandflies that inhabit the Gorge, that she swelled to thrice her normal size & no amount of calamine lotion seemed to help. Those sandflies would win some world's largest competion I suspect. They are the size of small helicopters & boy, are they hungry!! I think they snack on insect repellent, in preparation for the main course, which is human blood. Or animal's blood, as it happens.

We had a neighbour in a van whose wife made him take their little dog out each day, complete with poo scooper & the poor little animal was suffering so badly from sandfly bites they had to leave early. Not early enough, as it happened because our son & their son went off onto the river on an inflatable inner tube from a tractor tyre, that we had been given, therefore it was deemed to be our fault. The current caught them, & they were being swept rapidly down the river while Mister Dog Dropping Scooper jumped up & down & cried pitiably shouted. HYPH could not swim, but he ran into the river & went out to rescue the 2 boys. Some other, thinking, parent tossed him a rope, & disaster was averted. Mr Pooper Scooper slunk off home with his bag of dog excrement. The rain that had caused our awning to leak, had also swollen the river, hence the increase in volume & current speed.

In the meantime I was limping about with my suspected broken pubic bone, wondering if I could ever walk normally again. Not wishing to seem antisocial, I had joined in with other campers in a hill climb, & a bush walk, both of which made me wish I could be carried, on a stretcher. We sat around campfires, & played games, & pretended this was the fun of camping holidays. It later turned out we were all novices, as green as!

But of course, disaster was not finished with us by any means. The tractor tube was deflated, & the boys were forbidden to dip so much as a foot in the water without one of us on guard.

I think we had one more night, with the awning in situ. Then a whirlwind came howling down the Gorge, after dark of course. It struck with ferocity & a malignant glee, & tossed whole tents up in the air, ruining stereo gear, salting previously pristine food supplies, as well as the bedding & any other electrical or musical apparatus. It totally wrecked our awning. We sat terrified as the caravan was tossed, rocked, & buffeted by the insane whirling wind. We could hear destruction all around us. Suddenly all was quiet & still again. We huddled together, wide eyed & terrorised.

We decided to go outside to see the damage, & found we were totally locked in our caravan, trapped by twisted aluminium tubing which had been the brace for the awning. Eventually we managed to force the door open, & were greeted by shredded awning canvas, & buckled & badly bent framework. Our belongings which had been stored in the awning room, were scattered around the camp ground.

One untenanted caravan was totally splintered. Others had their awning wrecked like ours. The strange thing was the neighbour who had shorted out the power was totally unharmed! No damage at all. It was later determined the whirlwind or mini tornado had zig zagged down the gorge/valley selecting & dodging various tents & caravans.

We stayed another day or two. We decided we had better quit while we were still alive. We dreaded our trip home, having to tow the caravan.
As I recall it was the worst camping season the Gorge had ever ever experienced. We were offered a refund on our early departure, but we figured they needed it more than we did, after such a dreadful Season.

Of course, it was all my fault for insisting that a camping holiday in a caravan would be "FUN"! Hah!! Cured me for life!!

Gom occasionally looks at caravans, those new swish very large ones, & says he would love to travel off in one. Out of the question now, with his eyesight failing, & I have no desire to learn to tow one, nor live in such close confines with a GOM!

This Janis Ian song is from around that era, & I still love her music & words to this day.


Thursday, July 16

When is More, Less?

Due to User Dimwittery, I have had two post titles go into the system.


Today's post was being written when it seemed to publish itself! I took it down & put it into draft for today, when I am not so tired!

Now onto the Real Post!

Or the other way around? When is Less, More?

I posted a couple of days ago, but took the post down.
I see upon reading other blogs, it probably registered on something (?) not sure what, but cannot be found, now.

I called the post Losing It, because I thought I was losing this blog. I have recently changed ISP. It became a question of how to change the address without losing the blog.

Luckily for me, a wonderful, Generous, friend, helped me to work out how to save the blog, & use a new address.

We, being Gom & I, celebrated our 43rd Wedding Anniversary, with a lovely lunch, given to us, by our friends. It was just delicious, & we spent a wonderful afternoon with our generous friends.



I have no idea why this grumpy looking 'friend' has chosen now, to be evident!!





So where do we begin to see that less is More??

This not a Morepork, which is the native New Zealand owl.

It is another owl my cousin's wife photographed in England.


Today is Mammogram day for me. Not a pleasant thought, & I privately feel the less they do them, the better. I am sure they cannot be good for the tissue of the mammary! Less would be more than enough!

The husband of our Generous Friends, decided our Aircon could be fixed, so he & Gom, who are, as Mrs GF said, "The least handy two men I know!" set about tinkering. Lo & behold they did get it going, & it is now happily flooding the house with warmth when we need it! Less knowledge, more success?

I hasten to add, it was not an electrical problem. More a mechanical one, with the age of the Aircon showing it must be nearing the end of it's life. We are hoping it will have More life yet!

Meanwhile, I have been doing quite a bit of the cooking. Gom does like to cook our nightly meal, if it is grilled meat, & salad. He makes the salads on each plate, & is careful not to include any of the healthy things I like, in his own salad! Less is definitely More for him, in the salad stakes.

We have some wonderful lemons on our tree this year. Our daughter gave Gom the tree about 7 years ago, & it has taken all those years to really have a bumper crop of fruit. I have been finding almost anything is improved with a little lemon juice added. They are Meyer Lemons & I can drink the juice straight, it is so delicious.

I am sorry, no pics of this, but you will get the idea. I am a rather lazy cook, like to have a one dish meal when I can.

I have made this using 2 cutlets or 4. I am sure 6 could be accomodated if the dish is large enough.

Crumb Topped Pork Cutlets with Plum Sauce & Vegetables.

Pork Cutlets
Potatoes
Carrots
Onion/s

Grease a dish large enough to have the vegetables layered in the bottom, & sides with the chops on top.

Slice the potatoes to layer the bottom & sides of the dish. Add a layer of sliced carrots over the potatoes, then add the chopped onions over this.

Pour a cup of chicken stock, & I add half or a whole glass of wine. I add salt & pepper here.

Remove the fat off the cutlets. Quickly brown off the cutlets in a hot pan.
Place them in a layer on top of the vegetables.
Add a generous dollop of SPC Plum Sauce on the top of each cutlet.

A little water added to the pan after the cutlets are done, can be used to deglaze the pan, & added to the dish of vegetables.

Take 3 or 4 slices of wholegrain bread & place in the blender. Add 2 tablespoons of parsely a little oregano & a little thyme- any herbs of you choice, really also the bread can be any of your preference. We like wholegrain.

As I crumb the bread with herbs, I add around a teaspoon of EV olive Oil, & also a tablespoon of lemon juice with the grated zest of the lemon.

Press the crumb mixture onto the cutlets.
Cover the dish with foil & bake at around 180 for 45 minutes. Remove cover & bake a further 15 minutes or so, till the crumbs are crisp.

It seems to sound fussy, but is not really & the best part is, it can be cooked earlier in the day to the stage where the crumbs need crisping, & it is ready to go. I dislike spending ages in the kitchen in the evening, & like do-ahead meals with minimum fuss. Nice green beans or peas steamed or a small salad make a nice colour for the dish. I am sure any other choice of meat would work as well.





Just a little thought about cynical money grabbers.

I stole this from some movie, but it strikes me as true.



"Give a man a fish & you feed him.

Teach him to fish, & you lose a chance to make money."



I have even been doing a little sewing but it is definitely less, not more!


Sunday, July 12

Only Joking!

I wish to state at the outset, some of the content of this post is just a joke.


I have been pondering on suicide inducing actions you could take, if you were contemplating such a course, but were a little unsure of whether it was the correct course to take. (Yes, as someone once commented, I am unnerving. Sometimes I unnerve myself!)

Try going into clothing shops, taking a selection of garments into the fitting room, strip off your 'what the bloody hell was I thinking to come out wearing THIS?? In public??' garments, & take a good look in the mirror.

You will want to hastily redon your uglies, & slink out, to find a suitable place for your demise.

Often the suspicion that you should remove yourself from other's vision/and/or establishment, is preluded by the horrified, lip curling, sneering look you receive from the shop attendant, as her eyes widen in disgust, & slide up & down your 'presence'.

Sort of a "How dare you defile my elegant emporium, with your ugly shabbiness?" look.

If you should still be deluding yourself that you can't be so hideous that bad, I recommend you try on some of the chosen selection of new garments. Note that you chose a large size you thought must surely fit.
Glance again in the mirror.
This is where you will totally lose all will to live!!
You will realise to your utter horror the huge size you thought would swim on your torso, is straining at all points!


Imagine then, that you have finally found a garment that you think you could wear, without inducing self destructive urges. You go to purchase said item.

The assistant's eyes widen with alarm, almost disbelief. "You want to take it?" she gasps.

You find yourself wondering if your choice can really be that bad. I suppose the assistant is just hoping that no one will know what brand it is, or where you purchased the garment.


I am interspersing some more photos my cousin's wife took of Poultry in England.
Just a little light relief, you might say.

I think these are ducks?


Another self destructive pointer, is the fact that it is all going to be downhill from hereon.

The Arthritis is just going to get worse. Those ridiculous expensive tablets you bought, thinking they might just work, have been a complete & utter waste of good money. All that has been achieved there, has been the padding to the bank account of some 'health yeah, right! food producer'.


This is a fluffy little individual!
Other suicide inducing thoughts include reading a list of all the things you liked, that you now are told are so bad for you- death & disease will surely follow any partaking of said items, or foodstuffs., or beverages
This cocky little fellow is ok. He has the fluffy footwarmers!!
Other good sources of suicidal thoughts are often to be found in the home. The fact that it has rained for almost a month on a daily basis can rob one of the joy of living. The absolute end comes though, when the bleating Airconditioner you have just paid to have repaired, ceases to function two days later. And you know it is a different problem.
You contemplate taking an axe to the blasted thing, but then realise you would be better off using the axe on your own self.
You learn that a relative relative has a health problem, which is on the verge of deathly serious. Admission to Hospital is urgently urged. Goodness knows, hospital beds are like hen's teeth, so they are not given lightly. The fool refuses to go. You know the spinoff is going to be ghastly for the relatives, and the relatives of the relatives.


The sight of this comical little hen? makes me smile. Almost induces the will to live once more.

I am normally not one to celebrate or advocate the murder of trees.
I love trees, of all sorts, shapes & growth habits.
However, there are exceptions. Privet is a curse about our neighbourhood. It has been let run amok. Our neighbour has a self sown one, which has grown since we moved here, & it now blocks our clothesline. I would cheerfull murder it. Gom already murdered another in their yard. With their approval I hasten to add.
Another problem tree is the Camphor Laurel.
This is a pic of one I look at daily.
Well, now it is a pic of the remains of the Camphor Laurel.
As you can see in the somewhat blurry pic, it was a very large tree or possibly trees. The council came along with tree felling men, & cherry pickers, & mulching trucks, & felled the offensive tree. A Privet was also taken down. We have no idea why, but now we can see the house beyond, & I am sure the people who live behind the felled trees, have a lot more light in their lives.





Tuesday, July 7

Some thoughts on being a MOTHER...

Such an awesome repsonsibility. You become a "Mother".

You are assumed to be, all mother, all nurturing, all seeing, all understanding, all wise, ... all of a sudden!

The reality is, you are terrified, the first time this small being is thrust into your arms.

Or you demand to have the small being thrust into your arms. Because, often, back in the day, you were not given that little bundle of being, to hold or contemplate.

'It' was often whisked away, presumably, for your 'own good'.
'It' may have been returned, bloody still, or swaddled, tightly, or simply swept away, while you were told it had to be put into the incubator, or - even worse- intensive care.
Which would seem to indicate you were a monster of a mother, because your baby required 'extras'.
Therefore you were a failure, right from the beginning.

Luckily for me, I was never subjected to that, although, the birth of my daughter, (my last child) was a somewhat fraught affair, with no theatre available for her delivery. She was in fact, delivered in a side Labour Room, with no pain relief, & b*gger all attendants.

Almost 16 days late, & after 3 false alarms.
She began to cry, long before her body appeared. The Doctor declared, that whatever 'it' was, 'it' had a good set of lungs, when the little head appeared, & wailed loudly, in protest. When she was finally all present, she was being whisked away, being hidden from me. I demanded to hold her, & on inspecting her, I found a small 'oddity' beside an ear. Of course, I was dreadfully upset. She was my longed for daughter. I felt she was perfect. But what about???....

I was assured, it was nothing, a minor 'extra'. Easily fixed.

Of course, I felt a failure. I was so torn about the 'extra'. Which, really was nothing, a small extra easily removed when she was 11 months old, & no scar, & no damage.

But I still racked my brain, as to what I could have done to 'cause' the extra. I was assured over & over, it was nothing I had done or 'caused'.

It was around the Thalidamide scandal. I had avoided all drugs, during pregnancy. I refused all medications. I was lucky in that my only sickness, was tea (yes the drink, plain old Indian Tea) induced, & once I had eliminated drinking tea, from my diet, I never suffered again.

When I was about 13 or 14, that beastly age, where you hate your parents with a passion, for good reason, or not I contemplated my childish wounds.
I decided my mother had not 'Taken Good Care Of Me'.

I had suffered a trapped & torn ankle due to it's being caught in the spokes of her bicycle. I still have the scar to this day.
My Mother had to cycle to the local village for supplies, & her bike had a wooden seat fitted to the back of the cycle. I was duly strapped into the seat & taken along. I remember most vividly the wild roses & the Honey suckle vines that grew in the banks along the country road to the village.

I don't, however, remember the actual tearing of my ankle.

Then, she left me with a neighbour, who had a son younger than I. The neighbour was a very nice & kind young woman, as near as I can remember, but once, I rode the beautiful Rocking Horse she had, & fell, & cut my lower lip, my two lower teeth piercing the flesh, beneath my lip, a scar which also remains to this day.

I was then convinced I must be a 'clumsy child'. I had reinforcements to that effect, with remarks. I do remember crying, because I could not close my mouth to eat my tea. A dim memory of my father being very kind about the cut lip.

I later, -or earlier??- had a finger shut in a car door, almost severing the top of my ring finger on my left hand. My fault, I was told, because I left my finger in the wrong place. OMG, the damned pain from arthritis is ghastly today!

A following, hideous rip, to the middle finger of my right hand, which needed stitching, but was never given any treatment beyond a ratty bandage by an impatient Doctor, who was closing his surgery. Sad but true. Not my mother's fault.
But of course, in teenage bitchery, I blamed her.

I am ashamed now, to admit I accused her of "Not looking after me! Not taking care of me!"

When my own children came along, the inevitable accidents happened.
My son drank turpentine, under my nose as he climbed up, & grabbed the container. How guilty did I feel over that! Rotten mother!!

My son's finger cut off at the top joint. Being told it would be amputated. Absolute horror.
It was saved, & a skin graft avoided, but I remembered my mother, & how accusatory I had been.

My daughter landed on a glass, cutting her foot really badly. We rushed her to hospital for emergency treatment. Five years later she was having an operation to remove glass from her foot. Guilt.

My daughter broke her thumb, when a window crashed onto her hand. The sashing had rotted & she sat screaming until she managed to free herself. Guilt. We had not heard her, then the Hospital set it incorrectly! Bastards. Guilt, even though it was not my fault.

I look at my daughter today. I think the midadventures of her daughter were nowhere near as prolific. I think she has been a good mother. To both her children.


Our children have had other mishaps, accidents, in the long years since. Somehow we never stop feeling resposible. We never stop feeling, "Did we take Proper Care"??

I think at the end of the day, I can say, "I did it all to the best of my ability."
Who can do more.



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We have had our aircon serviced. Yay!! we have warm air!! How good it feels after the cold days we have been having.
Who knows, tomorrow I may be sewing again!!

Sunday, July 5

If you don't care for rants...

Please indulge me while I rant.
If you don't wish to read ranting, leave now, no one will ever know you calledyou will be excused!

We have a smallish Village close by. It was recently given a swish makeover, being remodelled into one large-ish Mall. It now has airconditioning, which makes it pleasant in both Summer & Winter. In the area surrounding the Mall, there is a Hotel, a Bottle Shop, and various professional people such as Solicitors, Dentists, Doctors & Sports Therapist, who are close enough to walk comfortably to visit. There are also two Medical Centres, within shouting distance. If you require entertainment, there is a large Video outlet.

Within the Mall, there is a large Supermarket-read one of the Big Two monopolies-also a large Chemist shop, a Bakery and two Coffee shop franchises. There is a Hot Bread outlet, a Fruit shop, a Newsagent, plus the newly relocated Post Office. A Butchery haha, typo, I typed "bitchery"! a Thai takeaway, a Tobacconist, another Takeaway with some limited seating, plus a Barber shop, and a Shoe shop, plus a Dry Cleaning shop.

Sounds as if we are well catered for. However there was a large shop occupying one large corner of the Mall. It was one of those "Swell Dollar" (not it's real name) shops. You know the type, all things stocked in various sizes & guises. All at reasonable prices. If you wanted a pen or pencil, go to the "Swell Dollar". You could find any number to choose from, all at very reasonable prices.

A keyring, an extension cord, a DVD, a colander, a bucket a pair of all purpose spectacles, sewing requirements, toys, pins, nails, tools, pliers, cutlery china, mugs, garden utensils, clocks.... you name it, "Swell Dollar" probably had a version.

If you wanted to say Thankyou to someone, you could purchase a card for $1, Paper to wrap your item, for $1. Even a suitable gift could be found for as little as $1. It was, to use one of my Grandmother's favourite words, an absolute boon to the district.

The "Swell Dollar" was always well patronised. I suspect it was one of those high turnover, low profit shops. It was one of the most used outlets in the Mall.
It has now closed & gone. The owners said they could no longer afford the rental for the premises.

The person who owns this Mall seems to be someone who has no partner, no children & perhaps family, though none are evident about the Mall.

My whinge is why not accept a lower rental? Why does greed govern everything. There are gaping holes in this Mall, where businesses have failed and left. There are huge boarded up spaces, with no occupants. In fact, some of the spaces have never had a tennant since the Mall opened.

If a survey was done of visitors to the Mall, I am sure all would say they had visited & purchased from the "Swell Dollar" at one time or another.

I know I don't understand big business, but I would really like to know what the owner's thinking is? Perhaps one day, when I am waiting for a script, I will approach her, and ask her the reason.

End of Rant.

It is cold, and I am feeling tetchy!

We had Small Grandson for a spell yesterday.. I am kicking myself, because one more time, I forgot to get photos. He swept up the pavers out the back, making a nice neat job. He used Stickle Bricks to build furniture for an imaginary house. He read books. He sat with me, trying to find Graeme Base in each picture of Animalia. Fun for both of us.

His mother came home tense & upset. All the fibres of her being were standing on end, after an encounter with a very nasty person.

"What makes people tick" will be a neverending interest to me.
I love to hear or read their stories.


Thursday, July 2

Preoccupations and Distractions.

We have been very preoccupied of late. Our beloved Leo, ate something he should not have. It made him quite ill, & he had to spend 2 nights, & 3 days in the Veterinary Hospital. Of course the family was demented with worry, hoping that he would be ok.

Here he is with Gom, happily back in the family fold, & though he is on a special diet for a few days, he seems his usual bright & happy self, & I am sure he would be eating much more than he is allowed, if he only had the chance.
He dropped a bit of weight, but luckily he had some to come & go on!

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A dear Cousin, noted my love of owls. He & his wife recently went to England in search of family roots.
Here is an extract of the email that accompanied these wonderful photographs, which were taken by his wife.

"When we were in Thirsk, we stayed at a property owned by a lady who was a real bird nut. She had more different kinds of chooks than I knew existed, and also operated a safe haven for abandoned and injured owls. This was sanctioned by their equivalent of DOC*, and she was required to release them back into the wild when they were fit and strong enough. She had English Barn Owls, Snowy Owls, and a European Eagle Owl. This was a fairly new arrival in England, and opinion was still divided on whether they should be encouraged or exterminated. Apparently they will carry off small dogs!!"

* I am unsure of what DOC is but I take it to be some sort of rescue of wildlife association, in New Zealand.

Here are some of my favourite photos.

Look at these eyes! How wonderful to have the chance to take these photos.


I suspect this may be the European Eagle Owl. Look the the fierce eyes!


They do make a wonderful distraction.



Perhaps this one is my Favourite of them all. Barn Owl, I think.


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Mr & Mrs Nice Neighbour recently acquired a gadget to transfer old slides onto the computer.
Here is a photo they sent me of the Sydney Harbour view 39 years ago!!

How very different it all looks today.
Sorry I don't have a pic taken today, but Google has some very interesting views, if you are interested.
We have had some very nice warm, fine days. We did not do them full justice, as we were so distracted by Leo's mishap. I think even Honey missed him, & she gave him quite a welcome, trotting about after him when he got home.
We recently re watched Lawrence of Arabia. Dated though it is, it seems to have stood the test of time as far as acting goes. I find it distasteful in the extreme to ponder the sheer arrogance of the British, & can scarcely believe the manipulation of Lawrence. A very complex character, indeed.
I have been doing much reading, & am currently reading Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things. Everyone else has probably read it long ago, but I am so wishing I had begun it long ago. It is wonderful.
I recently read Joy Dettman's Henry's Daughter, & found it to be one of those books I could not stop reading. I devoured it in a weekend.
Anita Shreve is an author I like, & a recent read was Light on Snow, which I read in double time also.
I finally finished The Book Thief, I found it hard going, & I had many spells whilst reading this book. My brother read it in 2 days, but I just could not seem to handle the 'darkness'.
In the midst of these books I have read a Minette Walters, a book called When the Bough Breaks, by Matthew Benns, a true story about an Australian woman who murdered her 4 children, & have 3 other books on the 'simmer', as it were.
The sewing has taken a back seat to all the reading, & running about after family.