Saturday, June 28, 2014

a very pertinent Friday night question...

tonight, V and I did what some parents do when their children have gone to bed.

Tonight, we discussed meteorology; appreciated the merits of bathing between the kitchen timer beeps, we kneaded and rocked; we heard thumps in the night; we contemplated finances and pondered the necessity of inviting an after-hours plumber around.



Our taste in Friday nights runs to fish and chips and salad with boiled egg with the next-door neighbour, Queen Jeanie (no relation).

...

On some Friday nights, I thaw amazing fish from the bounty provided to me from a chance job with a keen fisherman, create the most excellent batter (and so freaking simple you wouldn't believe it) and dunk bits in and then to the oil-filled wok.  A whole array of anything else that can be batter covered and deep fried also get the dunk and fry treatment, due to the quantity of batter that is always remaining (and the darned Scot in me can't stand the waste of unused batter (while the vast Australian that surrounds me obviously can't stand the waste of used batter)), accompanied by chips from the sushi joint at the Shopping Centre and Queen Jeanie (no relation)'s version of salad.
Several months ago, Queen Jeanie (no relation)'s version of salad, had quartered boiled eggs as part of the salad-construct presented and it BLEW PARIS'S MIND!!!


We often eat salad, but now I have a very avid salad-assistant at the beginning of salad creation - the boiling of eggs - and the end of salad creation - the peeling of eggs (and sneaky attempt at palming some egg for a pre-dinner snack) - but surprisingly not the boring middle bit of salad creation - the actual salad.

...

On the rare Friday night, we go to a newly found and absolutely wonderful Kountdown Kafe.  For an exceptionally reasonable exchange of money, they will provide you with delicious, filling meals.

I will let you in on a secret.  They even know how to cook pretty awesome chips - and will serve them with every meal.


But not only is there food, there are the people who bring you Kountdown Kafe.  A most beautiful woman who seems to exude joy as she hostesses the room.  And a tall intense man in the kitchen, emerging to visit the pop-up sidewalk salon in the front of the shop, where philosophy, history and music is avidly discussed.

And as the ganache of the whole experience, there is live music with local musicians and always the chance you will be there when the newest material is being tested, the undiscovered will find their feet or the experienced will show you their true talents.


We do not visit often enough, for our enjoyment of life is tempered greatly by the potential grizzles (or tsunamis) of overtired Paris, the enforced disassociation of the teenage 'Salina (and her companion of choice - or ours at the next table (logistics)), V's knees and occasional budget-anxiety.

...

And most other Friday nights are Salad de Paradis avec l'œufs (that was thrown in to keep my Internationally Renowned Food Blogger status bobbing above the "alleged" line) with Fish and Chips bought at the Seafront Fisho by Queen Jeanie (no relation) over at hers.



Party animals, eh.  So after an exhausted Paris (and seven stuffed toys) is said good-night to, and an aloof adolescent 'Salina gives final orders - "turn off my fan, check the radio, don't disturb before necessary, don't talk about me or post my image on the internet", V and I look expectantly at each other, and collapse at opposite ends of the house to decompress.



My chosen mode of decompression on this Friday night was baking.  You can dovetail baking nicely with bathroom requirements, internet surfing, background football, cups of coffee and the occasional whispered innuendo.  Pretty wild, I know.

Do you know how tempting it is right now to throw in the term "Ironic"?  Just so I could get all the true defenders of the meaning of the word ironic to rattle their pitchforks in my direction.

...

Yeah.   But I used to go to nightclubs.  Clubbing.  By choice.  Every.  Friday.  Night.

True story.  It would start with drinks at friends or in town and sort of morph into all night dancing, drinking and being delirious with fun.

And youth.

...

Sigh - but no, bread baking.

In the beginning, it is quite simple.  You measure, you activate, you blood-warmth test and you wait.

Then you mix and you knead and you knead and you knead and you are on guard regarding the amount of flour covering the (sadly inadequate) counters in relation to the moisture in the dough and you can really start to meditate on the world and your place and your circles and the referees background calls and commentators reaction and then the urgency of the floured counter/dough moistness ratio kicks in.

Once the "oh-crap-I-forgot-to-oil-a" bowl is located and oiled, and the dough is covered by a fresh tea-towel and - poof - the troubles of your day disappear.



The timer is set and it is time to MAKE.  A.  DECISION.  Together, as a couple, the most important discussion a couple can have takes place.

Who is going to have first bath.

It is Winter.  There are factors to consider.

...

V got the long straw.

I got to surf and await the next step in the bread making.  And decompress.

It has been a week.  Aren't they all?



The timer goes off and this beastie goes on.

Isn't she beautiful?


Hello sweetie.

Anyway, ahem.  The downside of such an amazing massive oven is the fact that it takes longer to warm up all that space.

But I can cook five loaves (perhaps even six) at the same time.  Yeah, baby.   Because it is the Food Swap tomorrow and because I am the bread lady.  And we need bread.  And I am decompressing from the day, from the week, from the fish and chips...

And suddenly it is ON.  Baking paper for the trays, oil the pan, knead the dough.  Get a knife - guess complex fractions and divide the mass into approximations.  Knead each loaf.  Cut the loaves for rising.  Attempt to reshape the loaves.  Realise I am not a food blogger.  I am so much such not a food blogger that I didn't photograph any of this!

The timer is set.



Bath-time.

...

I am currently reading a book.  It isn't a bad book.  Its quite a good book.  But there is just one problem - and that is that it is an African book.  And I love African books.  I hate that I just emcompassed the whole continent's literary output with a blanket "African book" - but here is the thing.  The writing is beautiful - evocative.  It builds a world that I have no true understanding of except through the words, and they are words that makes me feel I do have an intimate knowledge of people, culutre, politics and food of a faraway place.  But it is one of those books that - and I warn you now Mum, I am going to use a word that you don't like so scroll down the the next picture.













Yes, it is one of those books that at the opening, everything is fucked.

And then lots of really fucked things happen, getting increasing bleak.

And the ending is generally pretty fucked too.


But all with really beautiful, evocative writing.

It always puts me into a bit of a moral bind.

I know that if I keep reading, I will get carried away by the words but, being open to the beauty of that makes you vulnerable to the sheer dispair of the situation of (insert African nation currently being screwed over by multinational trade and aid politics).

And you wonder if you avoid being vulnerable to such dispair...  yeah, I am in about the middle of the book.

...

It was a very decompressing bath.



Thankfully, the timer went off.

Towards the end of bread baking, the whole timing intensity amps up.  And when you are not just baking ONE loaf of bread but indeed FIVE of TWO DIFFERENT SIZES, we are talking algebra-requiring calculations for the insertion, turning, swapping and finally inhaling of loaves.  Great for decompression.
So, between kitchen timers and all those verby words above, V and I were finally decompressing together.  Contemplating our next move.  I thought I would check the last turn of the bread before we decided.



As I walked towards the kitchen, and almighty BANG captured my attention.

It was definitely not the melodic beeping of the kitchen timer.

And that hissing sound was not the oven fan.

My mind did an inventory of all the things that could possibly stuff up.

"V" I quivered, as I flung open the back door and peered down towards the laundry.  The laundry was dark.  Darn, I hate it when good organisation means that the bogeyman has a better chance.

"V" I quivered, because although I am a feminist, I am one of the equal rights feminists thinking the bogeyman should get a choice.

There was a funny smell, but it wasn't burning.  There was a haze, but it wasn't smoke.  The hissing noise seemed to intesify.  The stairs were descended and the laundry declared clear.

"Phew" said V (well, not in those words, but they convey the meaning) "its only raining".

It wasn't just raining, it was BUCKETING down.  The hissing sound was accompanied by the roar of a million drops hitting the roof - and the buckets and the washing on the line and the lawn furniture.

When we went back inside, I had a brainwave.

I went to the front door.  I went on the front steps.

It wasn't raining at the front steps.

Back we went to the back stairs, and further investigations were undertaken.

A pipe had burst.

We had a fountain in the back yard.  Well, not really, because the pipe was directly under the upstairs floor - so it was more a water feature.

The smell and haze in the kitchen was mist.

...

The water mains must be approached with caution.

It is basically a rectangular bucket at the bottom of the slope of the front yard with a lid.

The lid is not very effective at keeping out dirt.  Or water.  Or ants.  So to turn off the water mains, one must first dig through a mudpit of biting insects.  Very Indiana Jones.  With our bare hands because in our haste, we had failed to bring along gardening equipment.

 Once cleared, the tap turned out to be one of those horrible impossible to turn designs.  The only edge that offers purchase does so on such an angle that there is NO SINGLE TOOL in V's kit that will turn that last quarter-turn required.  Luckily I am married to a very smart man, because he knows the secret men's business that involves combining tools.  Colour me duly impressed.

...

So the question remains - will this be fixed by duct tape, or will the universe require after-hours plumbers to deal with this sudden turn of Friday night events.





How is your Friday night going?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Who invited bagpipes and jazz to the same jam session?

Good evening and welcome to the late evening edition of Everything In Paradise, brought to you by the Bagpipes currently featured on ABC Jazz and the fact that V could not hear my desperate pleas for help from the bedroom and the remote control was too far away.

I am sore.  Sore due to the fact that the Personal Trainer who has made it possible for their to be every so slightly less of Jeanie in Paradise than there was several months ago is soon to be leaving, and the last opportunity to be tortured at her hands was this evening.

Now, when I say less of me, that is not to say that there is a darned sight more of me than is the vogue in her troupe of sweaty ladies, but I feel I serve a particular purpose in the group.  Sure, I may be the bar below which they do not dare fall - but I am also that member against whom they can all favourably compare.

I am also sore because there was a split nanosecond when a fragment caught within a bathroom mirror evoked a glimpse of hotness that has been unconscionably quashed by Facebooked photographic evidence of oozing rolls of hotness wrapped around the Jeanie-core.


 Still - with the art of photoshop* I could just have it prove my theory



its just that I am too short!

* and too tight - it is really a Paint job.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bringing the mountain to the proverbial

Paradisical Kitchen.

As you may or may not know, the litany of woes - sorry, the litany of potential positives in our lives is ever giving.

Two days before becoming the recipients of  the Civic, V's car departed the going concern dimension and we entered the market for his dream car.

The universe provided one for him.

Several months ago, components on the stove started to give out, highlighting the extended warranty was over, baby, and it was time to start making the tipping point ponderings on the large white box.

One of the hurdles in our way is the dream of an open, airy kitchen offering an interactive experience with the whole family - and our inability to address this given the bathroom hurdle, the office hurdle, the floor coverings hurdle, the paint hurdle, the staircase hurdle and the fly overseas and spend some awesome time with V's family hurdle.

But last time - last time, darn it, we bought to our conditions and limited ourselves to what fits in the bright yellow cocoon of isolation that is the current kitchen - and last time was only 7 years ago and we hope to goodness that those hurdles are surmounted by the time the replacement for the stove we need to get swings around.

So this time...


this time we are throwing the old "buy to your conditions" rulebook out the window...


We are allowing ourselves the supreme indulgence of the stove WE WANT...


to give us hope that all of our dreams may well come true...


and even though it is still couched in chrysalis confines...


we can almost see the future from here.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Galactical Women's Rant about lurgies and other societal ailments

It has been one of those weeks in Paradise.

One of those weeks that included ailments adjectived with a gender definitive (a.k.a. man flu.  I have been advised - on several occasions - that I have the habit of being a little obscure.  I apologise.)  Yes, I was struck down by a lurgy doing the rounds, 19 times more powerful than the generic offering, apparently.

A query has arisen due to a chance sighting of an advertisement on ABC2 for its Hockey World Cup 2014 coverage - I am quite thrilled for the little sport, don't get me wrong, and I think it is awesome that we can indeed look forward to "every goal" and "our best chance" - but shouldn't it be the Men's Hockey World Cup 2014?  Why is it that every female sport has to be defined by "Women's", and yet events for males are the norm, the accepted, the default?  Why is the major event that Brazil will be holding the "FIFA World Cup", where FIFA doesn't actually designate that its all about boys and balls, and the boob-laden need not contemplate?

Tonight, while aimlessly killing time on the vortex, a local business offered its advertisement for the upcoming State of Origin football game.  Its a pretty big thing, it would make such a business a lot of money if they put together the right options for punters to partake of their services during the duration.  Allow me to present to you their ad.

Now, the first thing that stands out to me is that this is obviously all about football, and offering the opportunity to infuse yourself of the testosterone of grown men in uniforms getting all sweaty and pumped by the sheer adrenalin of representing your state by throwing and kicking around leather-enclosed air between two theoretical lines and a few posts.  You read that too, don't you?

(Heads up.  That was slightly sarcastic.)

I actually really hope that this small local business has a good and profitable evening, but I am so very, very, very disappointed that this was the promotion that they ran with.

QLD Vs NSW! Game ONE - WEDNESDAY!!
MICKS BUS SERVICE WILL BE RUNNING (Book now)
Pick ups from 5.30-7.30pm - Drop offs from 10.30-midnight!!
Origin packs to give away!! Bikini Girls!! Drink specials!! Free bar snacks!!

Really?

REALLY???

Just because we have politicians getting all scary with their fearmongering and assumption of public stupidity and ever so "what-the" close to fascist behaviour, why do little businesses - and indeed big businesses - feel the need to suddenly denigrate women like its 1974 and emancipation was just another word for getting the boobs out and all act like it is a great big joke?

Bikini Girls!!??  Its fucking May (apologies for swearing, Mum).  While we are in a fairly balmy part of the world doesn't mean that the month prior to Winter may have a tendency to be on the nip side of comfortable to be frolicking after dark in approximately lord knows how many how many square centimetres of fabric * covering your privates for no other reason than to be a star attraction at something that is meant to be about football.  Men's football, if you haven't yet worked out the modern world's apparent lack of need for defining what sort of athletic event you are in for.

Still, I hope they do well.  We ourselves shall be having our traditional junk food for Origin night festival of Men's football at home again this year.  With all respectfully attired attendees, thank you very much.

But this week did indeed get me thinking.  I shouldn't get sick so often.  It puts notions into my silly little head, and I forget what we all have learned to accept as the norm.

While wondering about the scope of such competitive thing, World Series when it only one nation competes, Miss and Mr World only for humans, Mr and Miss Universe only for earthlings...



* "how many square centimetres of fabric in a bikini" was indeed googled to see if this question had an easy answer.  The answer was this:

then I realised that if anyone ever googles "how many square centimetres of fabric in a bikini" to find the easy answer, this blog post will a possibility.  Who are these people who google such things?

Friday, May 09, 2014

Miniature Rambles aka Little Steps, Little Steps, Where Do You Lead?

This post is a list of things.  Things that have happened, may have happened, may yet happen...


I remember 40.  It was when I had Paris.  It was a number that did not limit, yet had enough robustness within it to withstand the eddies of life.  A good year.



There have been 40 days since my last blog post.  There is no one clear factor that prevented me from blogging.  There was no "that is the highlight of my life, the rest is empty and meaningless and should be undocumented" nadir reached.



At Christmas, I joined the masses and actually engaged in the capitalist festival of shopping with a vigour that is rarely shown - there was actual currency burning through my pockets, and we were going to see the whole tribe so decent dross (as opposed to the poor excuses every other year - sorry kids, but I am the bah, humbug Aunt for a very economical reason) was within my sights.
Unfortunately, hunting was not happy for this little black duck, for the quality was depressing and the coin was not plentiful enough to pave the way to finance a proper shopping trip in a far away city that offered many choices.

Luckily for me, there is one store in town that I know of* that ticks enough boxes to offer a selection of interesting stuff.  This outlet was Toyworld.  And Toyworld offered a competition, whereby you received a ticket with each purchase, hopped on the computer (or smartphone or tablet or ipod - possibly even through a stamped envelope but I am not sure if that happens any more) and got an entry into a draw for a new car.

Of course, I am a statistician and therefore I knew that, while my chances of being the one person out of all the people who bought at Toyworld over Christmas actually winning the new car were infinitesimally small, the chances of me being the one person out of all the people who bought at Toyworld over Christmas actually winning the new car would indeed be non-existant if I did not enter.  And so enter I did.  And because although the Toyworld at nearby big town is old and sort of familiar around here, the people who work in it are lovely and I kept on trying elsewhere and I think I may have mentioned that hunting was not happy for this little black duck so I kept on trekking back to the little old local Toyworld and buying decent dross and getting my entry tickets and the whole enter I did happened on more than one occasion.  So it might have been several infinitesimally small chances rather than an isolated one.



I work several jobs.

One of them, I work for a guy who picks vegetables.  He doesn't like all of the vegetables that he picks.  He gets free vegetables.  Last week, he got a heap of capsicums.  He doesn't eat capsicums.  At all.  I got heaps of capsicums.


We currently do not have an oven.  Or a few elements on our stove.  We are dreaming of renovations - for a whole slew of liveability factors, but also because niggly stuff like this.
So I grilled heaps of capsicums, and I peeled heaps of capsicums, and I dreamed of Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.


Then I went to a local fruit shop and they had a whole box of roma tomatoes for only five dollars and it was like the universe conspired on the whole lets make her dreams come true because goodness, there was even fresh stock in the freezer just waiting to make the marriage of tomatoes and capsicum blossom and give birth to a gastronomical wonder.

Thank you universe.


I work several jobs.

One of them, I am a very small cog amongst a lovely group of people.  Its funny how some jobs, the mix of people just seems to destroy your soul and some jobs the mix of people restore you faith?  I am so very, very grateful that in the last two years, I have had the latter.

While in one of my first weeks, and therefore still very much in the "jury is out, I will act as professionally as possible and pray to God that they won't turn into a pack of wild dogs" mode, I got a personal phone call on my mobile phone.  I actually missed it, and therefore the woman with whom I work most closely advised me when I returned to the room.

It was okay, I was doing actual work and not skiving because, hello, the professional mode does include as a standard "doing actual work", and my mobile phone rang again.  I answered - very quietly, because professional mode and open office plan situation do not lend themselves to personal calls on the mobile - especially when you are temp.

A man asked my name and advised that I had won a new car.

What do you normally do when you are advised that you have won a new car over the phone, private mobile phone call at work or no - what is the general response to such a statement?

Because I think I answered in the standard method, calling BS.  But in fact, no, I was assured that I had entered a competition and there had been a draw and that (one of) my infinitesimally small chances was indeed the winning entry.  Yeah.  Batman's name may have been taken in vain on several occasions (beneath my breath because professional mode).

When I got off the phone, the woman with whom I work most was very busily engaging her professional mode and looking like she was working.  I may have mentioned to her what had transpired and she very quickly proved to the jury that there was very little canine to concern myself about.

And I knew for sure that they were the latter mix of people when one of the gents from the next work area gave me a "Deal or No Deal" razz every time I entered the room (which was often, as his workspace is between my workspace and the whole rest of the offices, and my job involves more moving between them than you would imagine) of "she's won a new car".



The timeframe between the "won a new car" phone call and the actual "won a new car" feeling with car in garage is not infinitesimal, though. 

Resultantly, my actual belief in the voice at the end of the phone was not firm.

I know I had heard it.  I know I had even spoken to the local Toyworld owner about it.  He was pretty chuffed.  I got the warm and fuzzies in the excitement he had for my win.

It really was an excitement that I dared not show - because really, it wasn't real.   It was surreal.  It was voices on the end of the phone and a whole world of possibilities opening up in terms of - well, general maintenance and quality dross, renovations and dreams - but it was dare not touch in case it went "poof" and back into dream land.



In between all of this, I went and did my Jeanie Martini thing.  I saw friends.  I started studying.  I did my various jobs and mothered and wifed and gardened and cooked and neighboured and volunteered and read.  I even blogged. 



 Eventually, I got another phone call.

This one was from a local car group.  The car group, in fact, who sold me my current car.  I love my car.  It is my dream car and they sold it to me for what I could afford to spend.  Then they gave me a huge gift basket and fantastic customer service.

I know.  I didn't believe it existed either!!

So J1 called me and asked me if I wanted White or Red and would I like to come in and chose and have a test drive and do the paperwork and get my new car.  He was pretty excited. I still couldn't be excited, because it still wasn't real.



We went with white, because we are practical and it was several voices on the phone and a whole world of possibilities opening up involved such dry issues as saleability and surely it is smarter to go for the more conservative (and therefore monied up) market when contemplating a surreal article that is a whole world of possibilities.

We were introduced to J2, who was a great study in customer care - considering the new car was a win on a competition and therefore the patter was more for entertainment purposes than real impact, the team at the local car group did go above and beyond.  Both the local car group and the local Toyworld were so excited for me.  Keys weren't yet in my hands and signatory ink wasn't yet on paperwork, so it was still slightly surreal - although more likely because if it all went pouf now, it had been an awesome dream thus far.


One of the possibilities is a great little runaround ute for V.  V's wagon has been hanging in there, the odds on hanging rather than in there were tipping.  Two days before we collected the new car, it tipped.

Just today, Paris managed to turn it into a comedy routine.  When discussing vehicles, she mentioned that V's old car was a wagon, because "it had to be towed".

Yes, we laugh now, but at the time it was providence having a laugh, advising us that this bounty was to be used ever so, ever so wisely.



For six weeks and five hundred and eighty kilometres (no food, drinks or garden materials allowed in the car at any point in time) we had that new car and, while we loved the luxury that driving a new car offered, we loved the possibilities and our life and lifestyle required us to seriously contemplate the possibilities and so now someone else owns the new car and my bank account is quivering in anticipation.


* There used to be an awesome shop in the main drag that offered affordable and quirky options for the discerning purchaser of stuff for kids.  Unfortunately, there was not a great enough market of discerning purchasers of stuff for kids therefore it went the way of many a valiant small business built on a great idea but crashing on that almighty marketing principle - never overestimate your audience.