26 February 2013

Things Can and Do Change

Friends used to tell me until a couple of years ago, "Yes! You will!" To which I replied, "Never in a million years!"

What am I talking about? I'll tell you.

For many years, we used to go out with friends, to the theatre, to restaurants, on holidays in Australia and abroad, having a great time, enjoying the plays, the food, the sceneries and usually discussing and solving the world's problems. Then gradually it started to change. We'd phone friends, "Hi, we're going to see Phantom of the Opera, want to come?" "Sorry, we're babysitting our grandchildren on that day.?" or "Can we do lunch?" "No, sorry, my daughter is dropping her kids off." We're going on another wine trip. I asked the Blogger, "Are so an so coming?" "Don't think so, you know they have Katie and Damien every Tuesday and Thursday."

On the odd occasion when we did manage to go out ot for a quick lunch or dinner, world events would no longer be discussed, instead we learnt, that Katie, aged 10 has just finished her masters degree in microbiology and little Damien, aged 12, has been chosen to join the Olympic team in road cycling.

On the way home, I'd say to the Blogger, "I would NEVER let any grandchildren of mine dominate the conversation when we go out with friends. and why do they think their grandchildren are so fantastic?"

Well, it happened. It did. We became grandparents in May 2010 with the arrival of Fox, our first grandson, then again last May when his little brother Banjo arrived, luckily on both occasions we were there to meet them, (well, not literally, but we were in the same cities, Sydney and Los Angeles.)

Now I think, they are the most wonderful, cute and clever little boys in the world.

If you don't believe me,  let's go out for dinner soon and I'll tell you about them.



21 February 2013

Our Neighbourhood Watchdog

 We went out with my daughter Carol-Ann and S-I-L David and a group of old friends for my birthday the other night. Friends we've known for just a few years and friend's we've known for a very long time. Sitting there around the table in a very conjenial athmosphere, we started the 'do you remember, when..'  topic. Joe and Norma, who used to live opposite us in Springwood, when all our kids were little reminded us of how we met them.

 Diane and I had taken our kids away for a long weekend in the campervan. On Sunday, we drove back just a the tail end of a severe thunderstorm. When we unpacked, we realised our dog, Ricky, was not in the yard. In those days, Ricky, a German Shepherd, was the neighbourhood watch dog, loved by all the neighbours. He kept the 'hood safe from undesirables and thus was never locked up. Like a guardsman, he used to patrol the street and the large bush behind our houses. So! Ricky was not at home. We assumed he was out on patrol somewhere and didn't worry too much, when there was a knock on the door. This bloke said, "Hi, I'm Joe, we just moved in across the street, do you own a german shepherd?" "Yes," I answered, "what's he done?" "Oh nothing, just as we were moving in, there was this storm and he just bolted into our house and he is hiding under the TV and won't come out."

Ricky, our German Shepherd

 On his nightly patrol of the street, Ricky always visited Peter and Lucy another couple of neighbours up the road. Lucy always left a bowl of surplus milk out for him and for another neighbour's cat, at her back door.

 This particular night, Ricky and the cat arrived at their back door at the same time. Well, it was on! Ricky barking and the cat hissing there was a typical mexican standoff. That's when Peter opened the door to investigate the commotion. The cat saw the opportunity and bolted into the house, very closely followed by Ricky, chasing the cat down their hallway, just as Lucy came out of the shower, as they were getting ready to go out. By now, the cat is in their bedroom climbing up their curtains and Ricky is on top of their bed bellowing up at the cat. 

 Peter and Lucy, just standing there flabbergasted at these two pets. Pets owned by other neighbours. Sadly, Peter passed away but we're still good friends with Lucy as well as Joe and Norma.

 I guess, people were much more tolerant then.

15 February 2013

My Sad TV Life

I am, I’m sad to say, a TV addict. Well, everyone has some sort of addiction, especially at our time of life, so, mine is TV. I realize it is probably not the healthiest addiction around but what the heck, it’s my life. Living with the Blogger, however restricts the time I watch TV. She, who likes to blog, doesn’t particularly like watching TV, unless some great shows are on that aren’t repeats.

I do have pet hate though, when it comes to television and that is advertising. I won’t watch a 1 hour show on commercial TV that ends up taking 1 ½ hours of air time, 7 minute show, 4 minute ads for an hour and a half. So on the rare occasion, I watch commercial TV, I record it thanks to Foxtel IQ, then I can fast forward through the ads. Luckily we have the ABC, here in Australia that broadcasts shows without ads, only station promos but never in the show.

On Foxtel, I watch UK-TV, which broadcasts most of the great British shows. They do have ad breaks in the shows but only 1 every 15 minutes with only 4 ads per break, rather than 7 or 8 ads every 7 minutes, over at the commercial stations.

Then there is the choice of television shows. I personally think in the UK they produce superior shows than in the US. Don’t let my son-in-law hear me say that, though, he is an Australian actor in Hollywood. He wouldn’t agree with my statement, I’m sure. However TV, like everything else in life is a matter of choice.

With age, the memory starts to fade somehow, so watching repeats is not too bad as every show looks new again. We have a friend, our age, who says her family give her a book for Christmas, then take it back after she’s read it only to wrap it up again before the next Christmas ready to be a present again. She’s happy!

So what are my favourite TV show?

I love British crime dramas such as Lewis, Taggart, Cracker, Life on Mars when they came to any of the Foxtel channels. Lately I’ve been hooked again on Heartbeat, which I used to watch many years ago with Nick Berry and Niamh Cusack as PC Rowan and his wife Dr. Kate Rowan. But after they left the show, so did I.

PC Nick Rowan (Nick Berry) and Dr Kate Rowan (Niamh Cusack)

Now, I am watching the last few episodes, knowing that the show has been axed. It has some great characters in it and I’m afraid the village Bobbies always get their man (or woman), how clever are they. The show also has a variety of rogues in it, starting from Claude Greengrass (Bill Maynard) in the early episodes, to Vernon Scripps (Geoffrey Hughes, who said ‘Good Morning’ to me at the New Farm Deli a few years ago, when he was on at the Twelfth Night Theatre, here in Brisbane). Now in it’s dying days, it’s Peggy Armstrong (Gwen Taylor) who is creating mischief in Aidensfield.
Vernon Scripps (Geoffrey Hughes) with
David Stockwell (David Lonsdale)
About 20 episodes to go here in Oz. What am I going to do?

I’ll miss them all – How sad is that, maybe I should get a life.

13 February 2013

Bircher Müesli

I guess it shows that I was born in Switzerland many years ago. Although I have long since assimilated to the Australian way of life, when it comes to food I stll fancy some Swiss foods. One of which is my favourite breakfast food, Bircher Müesli. OK, so you can buy 'Muesli' in supermarkets but it's just not the real thing.  Bircher Müesli was developed around 1900 by Swiss physician Max Bircher-Brenner for patients in his private hospital, where a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables was an essential part of his therapy. It was based on a breakfast, he and his wife experienced while on a hiking holiday in the Swiss alps.

I prepare BM in a tub that lasts the blogger and me for nearly a week. Here is how I prepare it:

 I place 4 cups of rollead oats in a container

I add half a cup of crushed walnuts (optional)

 I add 3/4 cup of sultanas (or mixed dry fruit)

I add 1 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

I add 3 cups of orange juice

I add 1 tub of yoghurt natural or fruit whatever I find in the fridge

Sometimes I grate an apple into it at the end but as we always top it with fresh fruit salad before we tuck in, that's not necessary.

 I stir it well, place the lid on the container and put it in the refrigerator. There it stays until the next breakfast time when we serve about 3/4 cup full in our bowls, then add fresh fruit and skim or soy milk to thin it down a bit. As I said, it lasts us for nearly a week.

Of course you can prepare more or less, depending of your needs. But it is important to leave it overnight. as it gets better and smoother as the week goes on.


09 February 2013

Finally a Water Problem Solved

When we built our latest house in 1989 we specified that we wanted a large deck to be able to have breakfast or lunch 'al fresco.' The result was great but the good old Queensland sun made it impossible to sit out there. At that time Queensland schools had their eating areas fitted with shade cloth tents. So we had one fitted on the deck, it still was not very satisfactory but we put up with it for  number of years.

House with Shade Tent (Drawn Carol-Ann Bohlen)
Eventually we consulted our architect neighbour next door who designed an extention of the roof over the deck. This was a vast improvement and we were finally able to eat out on the deck... if it wasn't raining! As soon we had a tropical downpour, which we frequently have here in Queensland, the extra water from the old and now the new roof just couldn't cope and the deck floor was wet every time. Fortunately luckily it hasn't rain too often here until 2012 when the weather pattern changed, probably courtesy of global warming. So the deck was once again unusable for a lots of times.

House with Roof Extension (Drawn Carol-Ann Pickvance)
 Last week, we called a plumber who suggested installing an additional 2 drain pipes down onto the garden, which he installed a few days ago.

Addition of two downpipes
Early this morning we awoke to one of the tropical downpours I mentioned above. I jumped out of bed and went investigating. Result! I walked out onto a dry deck. We waited years for this to happen, so today we're having lunch on the deck, come rain, hail or shine. Cheers!
Finally a dry deck

02 February 2013

More Storm Damage

The horrific weather we've experienced last week caused another bit of damage I never even realised. Yesterday, Energex, our power company, waltzed up, setting up barricades in the street in front of our house. One of the supervisors knocked on the door telling us we would lose electricity for an hour, just as I was in the middle of reading my on-line newspapers, as I do every day. OK! We switched off all 3 computers we run all the time and I grabbed one of those funny things with words in it, like we  used to do before computers. A Book! But as the action progressed, the blogger and I grabbed our cameras and started to snap away. We also had other action going on in the yard with tree loppers removing our fallen trees as you'll see on Diane's blog.

The broken cross bar at the power pole
The huge winds we had, not only knocked over trees having them crash onto our rotary clothes line, but it also snapped the cross bar at the power pole outside our house leaving the wires precariously dangling up there.

The power company arrives to fix the problem
Within no time, we had a fleet of vehicles blocking the street, including a huge cherry picker. Safety signs went up, the area of the power pole was cordened off and the men got ready for action.

The snapped cross bar hangs precariously up there

The linesmen are in the basket of the cherry picker getting ready for the fift.

The offending item is removed by the Energex technicians.

And a new steel cross bar is installed. This one should last a few years. As they promised, power was restored within the hour. I closed my book (for a read tonight in bed). Happily turned on my iMac and my MacBook and returned to my overseas newspapers.

All's well again in the street.

(Photos by Bill and Diane)