Monday, June 30, 2008

3am Book Review

'Salina and I are staying at Granite Glen for the week.

Such weeks give me the opportunity to do a little book work for my extended family. They reinforce V's delight of having me, my cooking and the joys of having a middle one in the house, because he does miss us (apparently).

They also give 'Salina the chance to be the oldest cousin and boss the others around show off her reading ability.

'Salina also likes to take advantage of the circumstances and play her "can I sneak in to bed with you Mummy" card on such occasions.

I had a touch of insomnia that forced me out of bed at 2.52am, where I wrote the darned to do list and then tried to go back to sleep.

'Salina rolled over and said "I do not like it, Sam-I-am."

I snuggled up to her and nodded in agreement.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A tribute for P.

Today would have been P.'s 47th birthday.

P. was 'Salina's dad. It is nearly 10 years since I met him at Cafe Bohemia. He asked me if I played chess. We played backgammon. He sang me a song and played his guitar for me. A week later I invited him to a party at the sharehouse where I lived - two flatmates were having a birthday and I was catering. He washed up and I fell in love.

He was a gentle soul, generous and kind. he was also a little offbeat, walking out of stride with the world in a lot of ways. People didn't always warm to him, he could make them uncomfortable. He never dabbled in small talk.

We were together for just over 2 years. During that time, I got to know his gentle nature and beauty - and also a few of the demons that tormented him - and they weren't ALL his family members (boom boom).

He came from a poster family for dysfunctionality - combine domestic violence, Yugoslavia, civil war, refugee status, drugs, alcohol and gambling, mix it all together and you might get an idea of what they were like in the enclave. Of course, from the outside they presented really well.

He died less than a year after we split up. By that time his mental health was very much a factor of who he was - perhaps it has always been, but it became his face.

But I don't want to dwell on that aspect of him - for it was only an aspect.

Baka always referred to her second son as "Zlatni" - her golden boy. He was the quiet brother, the one who would analyse things and try to work out the best way for things to be solved. He was a thinker and a dreamer - his dreams were of helping people, first as a nurse - and when that dream was taken from him, he settled on being a bus driver.

He was also obstinate - if he wanted you to look at his point of view or try something he had discovered, he would wear you down until you agreed to do so. 'Salina has a fair dash of that in her.

He would literally give his last dollar to anyone who needed it if asked. He was patient and willing to listen to anyones problems.

He would not jump in and offer solutions, which is both a blessing and a curse.

It is hard when you have mourned for a lost love, because part of getting over the heartbreak of all the dreams you had together not being realiseable is highlighting all the reasons why he is not wonderful to make the reality stronger.

However, since his death I have had to resurrect the things about him that were his points of quality so that 'Salina can understand who he was and how much he loved her.

So - who was P.?

P. was born in Sydney in 1961 - the second son of a violent man (Stjep) and a timid woman (Baka).

They had met in a refugee camp across the water from Yugoslavia in 1959. Originally Baka had intentions of migrating to Canada for a new life - but Stjep persuaded her to marry him and migrate to Australia, where the Snowy Moutain Scheme was crying out for workers.

She had second thoughts about marriage - he had beaten her even before that step - but she was smitten and she was devout - an ideal combination for the life ahead of her. She also came from a household where it was perfectly normal for the man to beat the woman and was able to justify it to herself - after all, it probably was her fault that she smiled and another man noticed.

She was pregnant on the ship to Australia. She had her first son within months of arrival. Fourteen months later, she had two.

Stjep's brother, also working on the scheme, was in an accident and received some compensation. The brothers decided that the money would stretch further back in Yugoslavia and moved the family back. P. was 3 when they returned - and Baka was pregnant with her 3rd son.

Stjep was violent not only with his wife (and I have heard a few of the "incidents") but with his children also. P. avoided a fair bit of stick due to a head injury he received at the hands of his elder brother resulting in epilepsy. Lucky him.

(Hmm, sound like a formula for his mental illness in the future - head injury, Eastern European medication...)

Baka's "Zlatni" was quiet and always helpful. She needed a helper - her oldest son was a schemer and violent, her third son was artistic and never home, her fourth son was a talker - in or out of trouble he would talk. She also finally had a daughter - 5 children in 14 years.

Stjep was a mover and shaker - he built a business, first using the money from his brother's payout to create a trucking business, then he branched into building, restaurants and resorts. He became rather wealthy - considering Yugoslav socialism at the time, he knew the right people and treated them well at his establishments. Despite his violent nature, he can be a very charming person, when he wants you to be charmed.

Stjep decided, when P. was 18, that his empire should expand back to Australia. As the older two were born in Australia he sent them back as his emmisaries. The older boy was built in the mould of the father - he put the spirit distributers offside by trying to scam them. P., unfortunately was never cut out to be a nightclub manager and mourned his chance at following his dream of nursing.

At the outbreak of the troubles in Yugoslavia, Stjep bought provisions for his wife and three young children, left money with his brother to dole out to his wife and came to Australia to find out what was going wrong - and found one brother with his hand in the till and the other emotionally distraught.

P. then drifted, and he had a breakdown in North Queensland (where that is not an uncommon experience) before being "saved" by the Krishnas - literally. They fed him and housed him while he recovered.

He spent time in both Croatia and Australia.

He began to study science. His father offered money for his son to return to be set up in business. Then when his father "volunteered" him for the local militia, he "borrowed" $1000 and flew back to Australia.

He worked double and triple shifts as a cabbie to help his mother and three younger siblings get refuge in Australia. One brother was stuck in Goa for over a year while the Australian government quibbled - after all, he had been deported from several countries during his vagabond years. Finally they discovered that, oops, he actually had citizenship, having been registered with an embassy while his parents were still technically Aussies.

The father offered more money for P. to return to be set up in business. He returned, married a woman after a whirlwind courtship (6 weeks) - who, he discovered 2 weeks after the wedding, had a 10 year old daughter - it was a pretty doomed arrangement. Back to Australia.

Then we met. The rest, as they say, is history.

I do wish we had made it - but we didn't. I wish that he had not got sick - but he did. I wish that he had not died.

However - I am glad for the legacy that he did leave me - a beautiful daughter and some lovely memories.

When I first met V, I was very happy that a lot of the qualities I loved about P. existed in V also.

I think they would have appreciated each other, and sometimes I am fairly sure that if P. had the opportunity to look upon our family now, he would be happy.

I hope, if he does exist on another plain, that he has attained the quiet joy he deserved.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The pickle you have held your breath for

Eggplant Pickle (Vambotu Pahi)
  • 2 large eggplants
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons tumeric
  • oil for frying
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • (or 1 1/2 tablespoons Ceylon curry powder instead of above 3)
  • 1/2 cup tamarind pulp
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 3 fresh green chillies, seeded and sliced
  • 8cm (3 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • extra salt to taste

Take two eggplants - any two will do, as ugly as you like (you can even buy them from the seconds shelf because their beauty is irrelevant) (in fact, I did).

Now, slice them into slices of exactly 1/2 inch - you have to be precise here. Okay, bull, slice them approximately 1/2 and inch thick - I won't tell if you don't.

Next, mix equal parts salt and tumeric. The recipe is far more precise in the amounts, but really, I always use more so my rule of thumb is keep making this mix a teaspoon each at a time until you are finished.

Coat each slice of eggplant in this mix - it only sticks on the white part. I sprinkle liberally, tap it as I tip it over to the other side, repeat and layer in a colander - then I put the excess back in to the tumeric/salt mix. At least, this is what I do now I have worked out it is the easy way. I also won't give you the photos that document the false starts.

Continue until you have coated every slice and you have a beautiful display in your colander. Of course, not everyone can have matching benchtops. Be warned, unless you are blessed with bright yellow benches, you may want to be a bit protective of them where tumeric is involved. Otherwise you WILL have bright yellow benches - be warned!!

Put the colander in a sink.

Kick back for an hour (or so).

Dry the slices on paper towel. Of course, if you are a really good environmentalist, you could use old teatowels - just make sure you have plenty and only wash them with clothes you want that bright yellow colour. For the average environmental hat-tippers, use recycled - you are going to use a few of them, as plenty of juice does come out.

Pour a generous amount of oil in a frypan and heat to medium. Isn't that a lovely white stove? I will admire it as long as possible - I fear that tumeric fumes may get it to blend with the benches all too soon...

Fry the slices on both side - don't burn them, don't just soak them in warm oil - if you have a loverly electric, this of course means constant juggling of controls...

Now for the sauce - grind up a tablespoon of black mustard seeds. If you have a nice little coffee grinder that says it can also do spices - DO NOT BELIEVE IT IN THIS INSTANCE - I have already done that experiment, and can assure you that while you get a wonderful display of whirling mustard seeds it does bugger all to cracking the little beggars.

Put the mustard seeds and 1/2 cup vinegar into a blender - yes, that historical artefact that I hold most dear - and give it a whirl. It will go a little frothy.

Add in an onion, 4 cloves garlic and 1 tablespoon ginger. I know you are told "finely chopped" this and "sliced" that - but just a rough chop and into the blender - it will be smooth pretty soon anyway.

Dry fry 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 2 teaspoons ground cummin and 1 teaspoon ground fennel - or if you can't be bothered and have some handy, use 1 1/2 tablespoons Ceylon curry powder.

Pour 3/4 cup hot water over 1/2 cup tamarind pulp - soak for about 10 minutes.

Heat some more oil and fry the onion/garlic/ginger/vinegar/mustard seed mixture for about 5 minutes.

Add the dry spice mix, 3 sliced green chillies (take out the seeds if you are a scaredy cat), a cinnamon stick,

the liquid from the tamarind pulp (give it a good squeeze) (get prepared for SOUR if you feel like licking your fingers) and some extra chilli powder (if you want the kick to go right through your cortex).

Add in the eggplant slices and any oil that has collected in the bowl.

Stir well, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add in the sugar and take off the heat.

Cool well before finding a few clean dry jars to put it in. Keeps for weeks in the fridge.

If it lasts that long.

Fantastic with curries, roasts, on sandwiches and dry biscuits!


we have not yet found the cord to download the photos to upload to blogger to illustrate the story to creating eggplant relish nirvana.

When I say "we", I mean - I have been rarely in the house since the last post to look very well. I mean, V remembered last night about my plight and spent a frantic half-hour scouring the place for the "very good spot" he put it in. He even looked in some very shocking spots (which Mr OCDV would never contemplate) and still came up cordless. 'Salina did not join in the fun.

So - instead of blogging, I have a house to clean. You know, that old "I am not really looking for the cord" routine that may lull it into being found.

See you at the other end (or when I come up for air - this is not for the faint hearted or short of breath).

I would show you the immensity of the task - but, you know, that would require finding the cord...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wouldn't that?

This is an expression of my mother's - and was an expression of hers (and no doubt can be attributable back for generations).

Just when you think you have your ducks lined up in a row, something slips out of place and - well, wouldn't that.

Yesterday, I made the eggplant pickle again.

I photographed it (unfortunately still in the harsh unnatural light of the fluoro, as natural light only reaches the kitchen for certain hours of certain days of the year - and that's not in the afternoon or on Winter Solstice).

I even thought of great phrases to go with each stage - the post was all but written.

But - well, wouldn't that?

I can't find the lead that connects the camera to the computer and makes it possible to put really bad photos into the blogosphere...

Hmm - best laid plans, eh? Oh well, I needed to tidy the areas where the lead may be anyway.

I also have mislaid the template for my to-do list - starting to think there is a conspiracy.

So going back to pen on notebook and head down tail up - perhaps, tomorrow, we might have something to relish...

Until then - what phrase does your family use when the wheels start to wobble?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Things I have been Memeing to Tell You...

Lani, mum of Boo tagged me because Alison tagged her to do the Six Question Meme. Here are the rules:

I have to:

Answer 6 questions about myself
  • At the end of the post, tag 6 people and post their names
  • Go to their blogs and leave them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read my blog
  • Then, I must let the person who tagged me know when I’ve posted my answers

Places I have Lived
  1. For a long, long time, the ONLY place I lived was on my family property in Central Queensland;
  2. Then, as you know, I lived at boarding school for five years;
  3. I studied and lived in Brisbane (1 college, 2 share houses - 4 flatmates);
  4. Did 7 years in Sydney (7 share houses - 18 flatmates (although 3 of them were in more than one house) - and 1 flat all by myself (after I got rid of a hangover flatmate from the previous share house));
  5. I lived in Melbourne for 1 year (3 share houses - 7 flatmates) but found that although I could live with the crappy weather and despite the lifestyle being fantastic, the city was too small for one ill-advised romance, the ex and me;
  6. I moved back to Brisbane to study and rethink life (1 share house - 7 flatmates) and then fell in love (2 houses - 1 partner and baby), and separated (3 houses - 6 flatmates) over the next 6 years;
  7. Then I came up to Paradise for a myriad of reasons, including the home I now live in - with V and 'Salina.
So added up, that is 23 addresses and, not counting blood family, college or boarding school, 44 people who I have lived with!!!

What I Was Doing 10 Years Ago
In 1998 I had just moved back to Brisbane.

I was living in an awesome share house, working as a temp at Mack Trucks - as a PA originally, but it had morphed into building a database because Y2K was coming and a rocket had been put under upgrading some systems that were archaic and not working correctly. As I started work at 7.30 and it was Winter, my old Hiace campervan would require a clutch start 9 times out of 10 - the 10th would require a reverse clutch start at the top of the first hill!!

Every Wednesday night you could find me at Cafe Bohemia with bunch of other poets - this cafe was a venue for a lot of bohemian activity, and also had a chess evening on Tuesdays, Irish music on Sundays and a jam session most other evenings. (I actually met 'Salina's dad at the Boho).

Most other nights I would be found on our front verandah (which had a fantastic view of the city) with my flatmates and various other drop ins over bottles of wine and feasts either I had concocted or had come from the great Thai takeaway 8 minutes walk away. Occasionally I would go to other friends armed with food or wine and do basically the same thing!!

My sister lived on the other side of Brisbane so we had a tradition of meeting up most weeks.

Five things on my to do list today
  1. Tuckshop
  2. Crash
  3. Start washing
  4. Dinner
  5. Seduce V

(That was yesterday's list - when I started this meme - obviously the list distracted me! Here is the real today.)
  1. Start washing (tick)
  2. Write blog (tick)
  3. Stocktake cupboards and write shopping list
  4. Do budget and go shopping
  5. Seduce V
Snacks I enjoy
Salt & Vinegar chips, soft (but not too soft) licorice, dark chocolate, nuts...

What I would Do if I was a Billionaire
Hmmm - travel with my family, buy a bush block and build our dream home and garden, ensure 'Salina got a good education and start on her life, set up trusts for good causes and ideas, give to friends and extended family if they had need of it, donate to charity. Oh, and get a wedding organiser who could make decisions for me!

People I Would Like To Know More About
See, a lot of the reason that yesterday list was more enticing than pushing publish (well, a bit of the reason) was the "who to hand the poison chalice baton to" quandry. If you haven't done this meme yet and would enjoy doing it (I did) give me a heads up in the comments and I will tag you properly - or improperly informally - how does that sound?

Yeah, I know - sort of like a cop out!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I wish that blogger could transmit smell

because what I am going to cook this afternoon is going to make the neighbours want to get to know me better.

I love cooking with spices, because it makes everyone think that you actually know what you are doing - the smell says it all.

It is true you can truly stuff up with too much of a good thing (remember the Jollof Rice I made for you in the early 90s, Bush Babe?), but if you stay your hand, reach for a teaspoon if you are unsure of the pour and have quality ingredients and a good recipe, you are well on the way...

I have a great recipe for tonight - I will possibly post it for you some time - but if you want to ever really drool and hanker for some great Asian food, Charmaine Solomon is a name to look for, and if you grab her Encyclopedia of Asian Food you will have hours of theoretical feasting. It is well worth the price.

I know that because I have paid about that amount in overdue library fines on the darned thing over the last 10 years and therefore I still haven't bought it - but I found it at the library again on Monday (they try to hide it from me).

Finding the quality ingredients has been no walk in the park, however.

I have heard rumours of an Asian Grocery in Paradise, but I was very sure it was part myth, part driving-Jeanie-mad.

I got told a street - only to find the long, residential street had nothing to offer except lots of houses. Lots of low-set, same-looking brick houses with twitching curtains.

I got a card in the mailbox - yay!!! Then I found no sign of a shop at the address.

I tried the phone directory - nothing. Do you know we don't even have a decent deli? And as we are a cane colony I was sure there would be at least one of them!

I was desparate. I try to stock up when I go to the big smoke (I used to live around the corner from some quality spice emporiums) but I haven't been cashed up and South for far too long.

This morning I set off determined that if there was goodness to be found, then darn it I would dig it out!

My plan of attack was simple (and suggested by someone else).

I went to an Asian restaurant and asked them. Great plan, unfortunately ruined by the fact that he had no idea of local outlets, as he bought in bulk from the big smoke.

He did tell me where the Hospitality Wholesaler was, who may possibly know. Heck, I didn't even know we had a Hospitality Wholesaler in town! I went there and was advised that the one from the card did exist at the address I had, but it was sneaky and hidden - I just had to look harder. Story of my life.

The address is the local bus depot, with some warehousey sort of shops/offices/spaces around the perimeter - think corrugated iron, think 1970s police dramas, think "gee, this could do with a lick of paint and some better signage" and you would have pictured the depot.

When I pulled up, I did actually see a big sign on top of the building that said "Asian Grocer". Considering I had driven RIGHT PAST that building only 1/2 an hour before and had not seen it PROVES TO ME that there is a conspiracy.

I walked up the driveway and saw the Depot, some coke machines, a Dive school and a food wholesalers - no Asian Grocery.

I went in to the food wholesaler to ask about the mythical Asian Grocery. She played like I hadn't actually said "Do you know where the Asian Grocery is?" and instead had said "Are you likely to have any Asian Grocery?" because she asked me what EXACTLY I was looking for.

I was looking for the Asian Grocery (and not necessarily specific ingredients, even though I had them on a list in my purse) because for me, shops like this are better than shoe stores for other women. I can spend hours examining the merchandise and dreaming about tastes. Barefoot and in the kitchen sounds fine for me, so long as I can remain a feminist!

She waved an arm towards the depot and said "over there".

As I walked across the drive, a man came across to accost me.

I was very wary - I mean, I have my own faith, thank you, and no I don't carry spare change.

"Are you looking for the Asian Grocery?" he asked when I finally saw the sign (yes, right in front of me and in plain view) and charged ahead. (My excuse has always been I hid behind the door when God was handing out looking ability).

"Yes" I said in my best "whats-it-to-you and I-am-a-busy-woman-who-can't-solve-your -problems" voice.

"Thats my shop - I am not actually open at the moment, but if you need to get something, I can open for you."

Darn, I hate wasting my "whats-it-to-you and I-am-a-busy-woman-who-can't-solve-your -problems" voice on people who really don't deserve it!

I ended up getting my list filled and chatting for a while - although, I shall go back in on the weekend to get my fill of inspiration!!!

Of course, I then forgot to get onions on the way home, so about to pop out for a few so I can start to create my Oooroomas Badun (Sri Lankan Fried Pork Curry - page 138) to be served with rice, fresh salad (brought by our guest), and Vambotu Pahi (an eggplant pickle - page 151).

The kids get spaghetti - so everyone will be happy!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Great Garage Sale Post

So, anyway, you are all breathlessly awaiting my Garage Sale round up, eagerly anticipating the "profit made, some lessons learned and some played right" gems.

Well, exhale. Not to say I am about to cast gems at your feet (or would it be eyes with this form of communication?) - but I would hate you to pass out while I recount. It would confuse me. Boredom or holding breath? Anyhow...

The day started early. Very, very early. In fact, it was really wonderful that I carked it at 8.15 the night before because my day started at 1am!!!

I had forgotten all about that whole 1am being available from the morning side as well.

I mean, I knew it well when a young thing and it meant the party was just starting.

I also met 1am when I had a young baby and it was a nonsensical number on the clock that I got to see all too oft.

But I very rarely get to see it as the launching point for a day. This is a good thing. It is a long, long way from sunrise!

1am and I was woken by a nightmare where customers were swarming over the back fence and coming up the stairs. Even though I knew it was illogical it was enough to keep me from resuming my slumber.

Ever true to my rule of "if I can't get back to sleep, get up and do" I got up to worry instead.

1.30am I attempted to go back to bed - only to get up at 2.

I decided to attack a section of the house I had not yet trawled for goodies to sell - the toy box on the front verandah - and immediately struck more pay dirt than I had intended.

Remember the book that I could not find? It appears Mr Nobody tidied it away at some point (along with some pointless papers).

Already I am ahead on the price of the Garage Sale ads with the refund I should get from the library for finally returning a book I have paid for!!!

Of course I will try to read it first this time - "The Idiots Guide to the Perfect Wedding" may have some pointers in there, and as there are theoretical wedding plans afoot and I might need to find out how to idiot proof them before they snowball...

2.30am and I again attempted to sleep again - but like a Jack in the Box, 3am saw me bright eyed and therefore determined that, darn it, I would just have to work it!

The house was clean by 4am - I didn't want to go down to the garage too early, as I knew I would have Eddie, our cat, as a companion, and I wanted to give the local wildlife as much sleep as possible. Animal lovers, rest easy - he preferred to attack me attacking the sale setup to anything gamey.

By 6am I had most of the previous piles into a semblance of order - only some furniture to bring downstairs to solve the two-fold purpose of displaying stock and sale items, and a few boxes of "pay whatever" I was just over going through.

I had failed (deliberately) to put the house number in the ad, and had specified 8am - 4pm ONLY - there were cars crawling along the road outside from 6.30, but I had also rather cleverly failed to put any signs outside to give any clue that it was OUR house because I believed I would appreciate the courtesy of the early birds biding their time.

7.30am and the furniture was down. 7.45am and our breakfast was had and a final look around the "store". 7.50am and V headed for the showers.

I rolled up the door at 7.55am and immediately a car park was formed in front of the house. I barely had time to move my own car out of the driveway before about 20 people flocked in for "bargains".

By 8.05am I had made enough sales to enter profit territory. Unfortunately the first things to go was the furniture I had intentions of putting books and mags on, so for the rest of the day I was requiring people to squat in my garage to inspect merchandise.

The greeting was "if there is a price we will start negotiating from there, if there is no price just make an offer". In my garage sale trawling days, that would have been very enticing as I love to bargain. The locals here - meh, not so much. Oh well.

There were a few good sales, a few solid browsers, and a heck of a lot of doing one circuit, asking about the surf ski and heading off to the next garage sale.

About the surf ski? Well, my brother spent many, many shekels as a teenage whippet when he bought it. He was a teenage whippet over 20 years ago. His whippet stature changed to that of a footballer and the surf ski has never been much used since he discovered that it didn't so much ski as submerge when combined with footballer weight.

However, his price in mind was a little too close to what lighter, newer versions go for in the modern era so it was a conversation stopper. One guy did take it for a test drive and proved that, unless you fit the "10 stone" criteria, it had a nasty habit of turning over and going under.

There was a steady stream of custom for the first few hours, and by 11am we were about $75 in profit.

'Salina had her friend from down the road over all morning, and they had a grand time playing dress-ups in my old frocks that had been discovered during the search for sale items.

I had to rein in the girls from prancing about the front lawn waving to all passing cars - they were precocious enough parroting my words of greeting to newcomers, and 'Salina begged me to let her "agotiate" too.

By 12pm we were about $77 in profit.

After lunch, 'Salina went to her friend's house and my girlfriend Deli came for a coffee and a squiz - profits went up by $5 as I happened to have something she fell in love with, and she happens to be a garage sale enthusiast. Don't worry, I did give her mates rates.

Between then and when we rolled down the door at 3.55pm, we only saw one more person and made one more dollar.

  • profit made:
    The ad was $35 and I had a $40 float - after they had been taken out, I still had $83.65 to fritter away (on groceries, as it happened)
    If you add in the refund on the book and the winning TAB ticket I discovered in the clean up, well over $100.

  • lessons learned:
    close the doors at lunchtime,
    don't bother with the afternoon,
    have tables to put stock on to save people the bend. Bent people don't buy.
  • played right:
    not putting on the street number saved us certain harassment,
    getting rid of stuff is cathartic - especially if you pack up unsold stuff immediately and give to charity as you have already emotionally let go,
    getting up early and therefore having it as organised and prettily displayed as I did worked.

It has taken three days for the effects of the 1am start to wear off and the garage is not yet back into pristine order.

There are still plans afoot about trying to flog a few unsold things through the paper, but I delivered 3 boxes to op shops yesterday and have another packed for today.

Glad I have done it? Yep. Doing it again? Not for a while.

Oh - and you know how you comment on a post and click on another comment to see who someone else is and you find something interesting?

Well, when I commented at Magneto Bold Too's yesterday, I found The Hotfessional - and she had a garage sale also - although a far more witty version of events.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cannelloni Comforts!

After a hard day at the garage sale (will do a wrap in another post - profit made, some lessons learned and some played right) we all needed some food that would be easy, comforting and filling.

There was a limitation in ingredients - I had some mince thawed - and tastes - 'Salina has definite views on her food horizons, as does V. They don't happily coincide at all times - isn't that life? I, of course, am very easy to please as long as it does not involve offal.

But I wanted to move us just ever so slightly from what we always have, so I made the brave suggestion that we have cannelloni.

V was all for it, but 'Salina had her doubts. After all, she hadn't heard of it and what is wrong with lasagne?

I made a pledge to make it as lasagne like as possible for her approval. So here it is for yours:

Lasagne-like Cannelloni
  • I used my wonderful (but getting old and feeling it) food processor to grate 1/4 of a Jap pumpkin and to slice 2 zucchinis.
    As you can see from this shot, it is not just my food processor feeling the age and space issue!!
    And isn't that a wonderful yellow for the benches? Oh, and note to self - must get that door fixed and reattached - it came off when the stove we put in was 2cm too wide for the space we had measured. We only got the stove last June...
  • Meat Sauce - Chop 1 medium onion and 3 cloves of garlic and gently fry until clear in olive oil. Add 1/2 kilo mince and brown. If mince is not lean enough, drain fat.
  • Add the grated pumpkin, 1 can condensed tomato soup (my mother swore by Heinz but I have found generic works just as well), 3/4 can red wine, bay leaf, whatever italian herbs and salt and pepper. The mixture should look dark and rich and smell divine.
  • If you prefer veggo, I used to make a similar sauce with no mince (d'uh), more pumpkin and whatever other vegies available, some red lentils and a handful of chopped cashews and called it "happy sauce".
  • White Cheese Sauce - Melt some butter in a pan, add about the same amount of plain flour and toast slightly. Mix in about 600 ml milk - gradually at first to stir out any lumps. Cook until this mix thickens to about cream consistency. Add a sprinkle of nutmeg and 1/2 cup cheese.
    I know there are many foodies out there who would do a far superior job, but I have a limited audience and they don't complain too much!
    I think there are theories out there about the temperature of the milk and the exacting way to get the "roux" - that is a fancy term for the butter and flour bit - just right - but I am fairly rough and ready.
  • I sprayed a baking tray with oil and lined it with my wonderful zucchini slices.
  • 1/2 of the White Cheese Sauce was poured in.
  • We (because V came to help) stuffed the canneloni tubes with Meat Sauce and laid neatly.
    Of course, I forgot to photograph that step, so you will have to imagine how neatly they were placed and how much fun that step is, and how fiddly the term "stuffing canneloni tubes" can really be. We had about 1/2 of the sauce left over, which will be handy for a kids meal when we want an adult meal later in the week!
  • The other 1/2 of the White Cheese Sauce was poured on top, then the wonderful zucchini slices covered it. On one end we also had sliced mushrooms and sliced tomatoes also made a stand. 3/4 cup grated cheese sprinkled over the whole amount and put into a moderate-hot oven for 40 minutes.
  • It was absolutely scrumptious - or to use 'Salina's preferred term - delicious.
  • Improvements for next time (which there will be) would be to halve the White Cheese Sauce mixture and have a vegie sauce for the first pour.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ticking off the list - the GREAT GARAGE sale

Of course I didn't mention this yesterday. Had I mentioned it yesterday, then my beloved Maroons may not have crushed the cockroaches so convincingly and I would not have been sitting here quite so smug today.
But of course, I had to do something for my boys in preparation. Newcomers to my blog may not know that I have ingeniously combined superstition and sporting dreams. So far in blogging history we have only had a 66% win/loss ratio, but the good news is that you apparently are always a winner when the to do list gets checked!!!

So - what DID I do that was powerful enough to drag the team who were pulverised in the first game up to a level that they not only held the Blues to nil, but kept them from even seeing the end of the park that would have given them hopes of any points?

I. Cleaned. The. Garage.

Well, okay - I didn't - not by myself - V and I with 'Salina as a cheer squad got the main workload out of the way on the weekend. It has only been an oft talked about concept, but finally we took advantage of the Queen's Birthday to dismantle the pile of crap and turn it into piles of opportunity.

But yesterday - the day my internal gods deem I have to find a mountain to move to convert into brownie points so my football team can spifflicate the defence?

  • I MADE the phonecall to organise advertising for the garage sale.
  • I SORTED the boxes and piles into a promotional masterpiece designed to entice the masses from their hard earned 5 and 10 cent pieces.
  • I THREW OUT all the crap that I didn't even think work 5c.

Did it work? Well, do you see the happy dance I am doing here?

Of course, it is possible that including Prince in the side - and the other 20 or so boofy blokes - may have had something to do with it!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ah - the sweet sleep of youth...

I did not get to remember my dreams the other night.

I had a hard time getting to sleep, as my mind switched on and ground like an old computer for quite some time before getting the message that I DIDN'T WANT TO LISTEN any more.

I had a hard time staying asleep, as the weather here is being extremely bipolar, and doesn't limit itself to daytime idiosynchrasies. Therefore, snuggling up at 10pm for warmth equates to kicking off covers and loved ones throughout the night to ease sweating.

But I did my best.

I had a hard time staying in my bed as 'Salina woke me at 2.47am to let me know she couldn't get back to sleep. After 17 minutes of soothing her, tucking her in, giving her cough medicine, finding her some water, soothing her, tucking her in, hushing her and telling her to STOP LOOKING AT THE DOGGARNED CLOCK I returned to my own.

Mind decided NOW I might want to listen to it whir. I told it to LET ME SLEEP because I really wanted to.

At sometime o'clock, 'Salina woke me again to tell me about the new scary dream that had woken her again. I just grunted and rolled to allow her some room in our bed because I sure as heck was not going through the 3am ritual again.

6.05 and the heat from bodies on both sides of me meant that my chances were shot. V got up to get ready for work and I got up to get ready for my day.

I went back in to the bedroom to get my computer - 'Salina was no longer in our bed.

I went to check on her own bed - she wasn't there either.

Not on the lounge. Not in the bathroom.

Where oh where could my little girl be?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Stolen Puppy Post

A tale of babysitting Bushbabe's beautiful offspring - and other naughty critters...

Last weekend, while Bush Babe was busy getting mucky with weaners, I had the joy of some quiet time with her children, a Blues Clues DVD (with Steve, the original host) and her plastics drawer. I am a terror on other peoples plastics drawers, having an OCD complex about lids requiring containers, and containers requiring lids. My family know this little foible, and tend to indulge me with access to their stash when I feel the mood come upon me.

After some intense plastics stacking, I noticed that the background of tuneful ditties had been replaced by - silence.

Fearing that the children had escaped the clutches of solving Blues conundrums, I went to investigate.

Not only were the children not glued to the tube, they were also not downstairs where the puppies resided - and NOR WERE THE PUPPIES...

Oh goodness - five of the cutest things at Granite Glen, and they were all missing AT THE SAME TIME and ON MY WATCH!!!

"Dash!! Little Woman!! Puppies!!" I hollered.

"Here, Jeanie" was the immediate response, and from just around the corner I found the first clue...

Two clues, really!! Aren't they cute. But where are the other three is the other puppy and children?
Dash then did a little dance and skdoo-ed to the next scene...

The Little Woman is not so much into suspense as her auntie, so she was very happy to show how beautiful her baby was. Awww - isn't he beautiful?

She did ask her auntie not to tell Mummy, so I haven't told her - didn't promise I wouldn't blog though.

Ah, the wonders of blog anonymity!!!

Screw up Tuesday - or How Ms Jeanie attained every old married woman's desire

Bettina at Dances to the Beet of her own Drum hosts Screw-Up-Tuesday every - well, every Tuesday, really.

And as is my wont, I will combine that with the inspiration from several blogs I have read of late, that lament the fact that old married women seem to want their husbands to lessen the frequency and intensity of their ardour. It is a blues tune that I have also heard in real life, so I figure it must be a real phenomenon.

One of the upsides of not having found and married some high school sweetheart, I suppose, is that this has never been my experience.

By pure accident, it seems I found the answer to many of these women's prayers this week.

I love garlic. So does my honey. However, after his stomach went ballistic after our last feast of roasted garlic and onions a few weeks ago, he has been a little more tentative on the garlic front.

On Saturday, after a day that had a sort of sleepwalking through molasses quality, I prepared a feast of pork chops and roast vegetables. It was divine, even if I say so myself. Knowing V was reticent about the garlic component, I only roasted enough for me to taste that sweet nectar.

V, however, was not so sweet several hours later when, going in for a kiss in front of the Saturday evening entertainment he baulked and exclaimed "whoa, phew!!!"

He did attempt to make up for such bad manners, but the moment had been lost - and a word to the wise - holding your breath while going in for a kiss does not increase the desire of EITHER party.

So - my loss, the world's gain - if you have intentions of keeping the vampires and unwanted amorous attention at bay, I heartily recommend garlic - unfortunately.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

That Sunday too far away

has finally come, thinks Miss 'Salina.

Yes, after only a solid month of cleaning her room, today it was deemed "nearly good enough" for the great furniture swap around and she got my old computer.

Of course, then some nasty old Mum decided her computer would need to be loaded with new hardware, updates would need to download and scans done before she could play, so the "I'm bored"'s are still hitting mighty thick and fast around here.

We also had what is becoming a Sunday morning ritual this morning.

Homemade English Muffins with bacon and eggs. Yummo. Of course, I failed to photograph so you will just have to imagine.

Tried recipe #2 today - I have a few downloaded and will be experimenting before I give you the definitive version - but both versions thus far have been met with a great deal of enjoyment, and staggered away with a great deal of satisfaction.

The secret to great English muffins, of course, is to start several hours before you want them, so its not your crack of dawn type indulgence.

Would be out mowing the lawn - the sun is high - almost up to grass height - but alas the good soaking rain that we received last weekend is still squelching underfoot. This is good news for the birds, as they have decided that our front yard is great for a bit of a natter and harvest around this time of day.

I won the thumb wrestle, and managed to extract from Bush Babe the allowance that not only could I tell the forklift story, but I could also embellish it to my heart's content. And as I wasn't actually there, it will be 90% fancy and 10% surmised. Stay tuned!

Anyone else having extremely vivid dreams lately? Mine have been full on!!

Between marrying (well, actually, being stood up by) an English twit in a penthouse you reached through a hotel kitchen because it was part of a job description; house-minding plants dressed in clothing; hill starts (and parks) in old cars; school uniform discussions; golfers discussing war statistics and being late for school - I have not slept without the full technicolour workout for the week. Please tell me I am not the only one?

Two posts made me laugh out loud today - if you need a laugh, here is The Funny Thing About Jalapenos at The Anvil Tree and Dead To Us Depot at Life in a Cone of Silence.

Anyway, must off and be entertainment manager - seems once your room is clean you can NOT find anything to amuse. I wouldn't know, of course.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Gushing Girly

Alison from Three Times Kewl has tagged me with a "Girl Stuff" meme - and seeing as I am dealing with a bit of ancient history this week, I am willing to take it on full frontal...

When I was but a wee twenty-something, my foundation started with the word "Johnson's" and ended with "Baby Powder".

As I grew up, I did discover that if you slathered some really good stuff on your face, it did give your face that airbrushed quality so desired by the magazines.

As I grew wise, I discovered that the really good stuff came at a really good price.

As a really good salary and I parted way over definition of the terms "living" and "joy", good foundation and I parted ways.

I have a tinted moisturiser sample that I got from The Body Shop 5 years ago that I am threatening to use next time I really glam up...

Now, if you really knew me, you would know how little this product and I need each other.

Thinking Jeanie's eyes, think "cow". Combine that with spectacles required to see anything and mascara just blurs the vision (nothing like mascara stripes to add interest to scenery).

I do have some that I bought last century somewhere - I think...

Day Cream:
I am non-discriminatory as to the calibre of cream I slather when I remember to slather cream - I have no idea the weight of the stuff I use now - I just know that I bought it for the Croatian ex-MIL who didn't like it and gave it back to me. I think it is a tradition I should continue - only she doesn't like me giving back the dust collectors as her shelves are too full.

Essential Beauty Product:
Good posture makes a huuuge difference between "who" and "WHO?" - I hated the fact that my father harped on it so often during my childhood, no it is me drilling the child with "stand up straight, shoulders back, look your own height in front of you".

Favorite Makeup Product:
Well, I did get given a compendium of colours from a really lovely girlfriend for those moments when I do want to sparkle - no brand name that I can discern but some great autumn tones that I like to play with.

More great friends and relatives have ensured that I have a stash of perfume - 'Salina loves to make "potions" with them, although I try to minimise the effects as much as possible.

I fell in love with "l'air du temp" when my aunt gave me some as a teenager, but its a hard habit to continue. I also have "giorgio" on my dresser, as well as a lovely scent "sunflowers" - but I wear them very rarely.

At the age of seven I chewed my nails - by the age of seven and a half they started to grow. I imagined what fingernails in my stomach (that reportedly don't digest) would be like and grossed myself out.

Resultantly, I always have longish nails - when one breaks they all get chopped, but the grow quickly. Maintenance - I scrub them? Occasionally polished, generally just neat and emeried.

Today I had a look at these and they are true cooks hands at the moment. A few burns and blisters, healed scars from slipped knives. I have a fantastic scar on one thumb from a washing machine incident when I was 3.

Very tired at the moment, as I was Tuck Shop Support Lady and they had to support me on very inadequate footwear.

I had a hideous time in my teens with ingrown toenails and I hate to shoe shop, so I try not to look down too often.

Three Products to bring on a deserted island:
Well, I think there is nothing better to maintain your beauty on a deserted island than a boat, a bottle of water and a really good satellite phone!

Women I admire for their beauty:
I tend not to admire women for their beauty - more their words and their spirit. I think my mother is very beautiful inside and out, and looks exactly as she did when I was a child.

Women with the Best Sense of Style:
My aunt BonBon is definitely the most stylish woman in the world. Hands down. "Oh this old thing" she would say as she sashayed about in whatever - and it ALWAYS looks good.

My Ultimate Dream:
I want to be toned - that would be my ultimate beauty dream. Otherwise, I want to be known as someone with a strong spirit and beautiful nature - working hard on those.

How Do I Define Womanhood:
Womanhood, to me, is about inner strength. A woman should be firm where she needs to be firm - on her principles and courage - but also soft where it is important - with compassion and love.

Favourite Fashion Publication:
I really don't know the answer to this one, it has been a long, long time since I have looked in that direction. I used to love Burda and Neue Mode when they were available in newsagencies here, as I loved to create clothes - but these days my mainstays are food p0rn magazines!

The last bit:
I will go for my two of my most recent commenters who have not done this meme - they are...
Crazed Mom at Chasing Myself and Jayne at Our Great Southern Land.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Pepper Steak - a family drama

This post was inspired by Debby, who must learn to put on mosquito repellent; BrissieMum2, who has a child wanting to feed the family; and Alice, who broke her arm. If you think any of your posts added any influence, please feel free to claim your kudos in the comments...

When I was younger (so much younger than today) - sorry, my daughter hates that she is in a family that breaks into song at the slightest provocation.

As I said, when I was 11 my mother fell quite ill with a virus known as Ross River Fever. It was early days of understanding of the illness (not a great deal has changed since then) but her symptoms were periodic arthritic swelling of joints, pounding headaches and days of being unable to move through lack of energy and overwhelming pain. The only thing that was a known factor about it was that it was mosquito borne and it could take months or years to get out of the system.

Luckily for my mother, she had me. My sister had just begun boarding school and I was my "mother's little helper" anyway, taking great delight in reading recipe books for fun, was so good at pegging out, folding, sweeping and cleaning.

Listen, THIS IS MY BLOG so those of you snickering down the back at Cinder-Jeanie can just go straight to the comments box and say sorry now!

As I said, my mother had the joy of a built in housekeeper whose only complaint was that our dinners, while filling and nutricious (and fairly easy to cook) were nowhere near as fancy as those I had chanced upon in my research.

Therefore, on the days when my mother was too poorly to give me the instruction to cook a standard, I would expand the family repertoire little by little, herb by herb, spice by spice.

One day, when Mum was up and about and a bit better, a message came from the Red Roofed Jail. My sister had started basketball. She had her first game. She and another collided. She fell awkwardly. She broke her arm.

Now, you may not be aware that, due to the fact that my father threw himself into the path of danger fairly often during my childhood, our parents had actually formed a good relationship with an orthapedic surgeon, and so when doubts were raised over the setting of her arm Mum drove 3 1/2 hours to collect her and another 4 hours to our surgeon for a second opinion.

Aha - not only was Mum not there to give direction, she was nowhere near me to "advise" on the delicacies of my brother's and father's tastes - and thus her plans of "steak and vegetables" morphed into a little dish I had often wanted to experiment with - Pepper Steak!

It smelled delicious. The steak was rare and tender and juicy and encrusted with slightly crushed peppercorns, with a savoury side sauce (my father is a fan of "juice" with every meal), steamed vegetables and duchessed potatoes.

Dad was late in from the paddocks and had just showered and was on the phone to mum getting an update, and my pesky baby brother was salivating over the feast, wanting a taste.

Jeanie-marm told him he was not to touch until Dad was at the table and we had said Grace (a natural dictator-mother even at that age).

So he bent down to the place and LICKED THE STEAK.

Ahaha hahaha hahahahaha! He got SMOTE by the crust of black pepper.

Of course, his natural reaction was to pass as much harm as possible to the shrew who devised the instrument of torture.

The shrew who devised the instrument of torture is not the demure lady you see before you today, but a far less evolved survivalist middle child who had to give as good as she got.

Dad's reaction was to upbraid both of us with the "your sister may lose her arm and all you kids can think of is killing each other?" - never one for subtleties, my old man.

By the way, dinner was yum - if not a little fiery - but it remains associated in my mind forever with mosquito-nasties, osteomyelitis, the fury of fathers, teeth-marks and God striking down my brother for tasting before Grace.

Oh - and ps - my sister DID NOT lose her arm. She instead went on to develop other medical complications, extended family members got in on the medical dramatics and it all ended in a forklift delivery to an aeroplane - but that is a different story altogether.

And a NB NB NB big alert - a new commenter came by yesterday and so, as is my wont, I visited his site - may I HIGHLY recommend you all go and visit David also.

I love his writing style and he moved me to laughter and tears on several occasions (I know - not hard to do).

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Dona Nobis Pacem

Through Kate at Picklebums, I was reminded that today is the day to "Blog Blast for Peace".

As you know, I am far better at the inane than the profound these days. Oh yes, there were days in the past when I could examine the old bellybutton fluff and find philosophy worthy of sharing and there are some days in the present that I wish I could find the shards of my old voice to plead the case of peace.

I, personally, am all for peace.

I think the strengths of our military should be used to help people of the world affected by the natural disasters we are experiencing all too often.

I think the warmongers should all be given a nice cup of tea and a chance to explain why they should dominate the minds and souls of others and then placed in a nice padded cell where they cannot cause harm.

I think there are far more worthy things to spend our resources on than technology that can kill more effectively.

But I am just one person, and have been called naive.

However, I also think that people saying good things may convert into people doing good things, and it is never a bad thing to ask for good.

So today, as Mimi has asked, Blog for Peace. It can only do good.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Sad Sad Saga of Miss Jeanie and her Middle Toe

Setting the Scene:

The year was 1982. The setting was Dorm C in the Year 8 Boarding House in the Red Roofed Jail. The victim was me.

Imagine this. I was still in my first term at boarding school. The room I slept in - the ominous Dorm C - also slept 9 other girls.

As you can see, I had extremely bad luck in having the worst positioned bed in the whole dorm, with everyone from 3 dorms traipsing past my head, with many showering and toileting right next to me - and with the notorious MsScam click-clacking her way past me on her rounds many times each evening, quelling dissent and "shushing" her charges.

Of course, dissent comes in many forms, and although my preferred form has always been to bend the rules and see how they stretched, occasionally I fell foul of peer pressure and got caught up in that most despicable of past-times, playing Truth, Dare and Double-Deadly Dare.

It was hard not to be a participant in this, as to not succumb to peer pressure in such an environment was to invite other ills upon your person - so lesson number one of boarding school dorm rules is "do as everybody else does and you even up the odds of getting in trouble from the authorities - and lessen the chances of being targetted by the mob".

After lights out the game got on. We had an edge over the authorities (MsScam) by virtue of her high heeled sirens and could pretend slumber when required, but until that moment the night was ours, and the stakes were high.

No-one ever called truth - what secrets were there in a 13 year old boarding school girl's mind that would warrant ferreting? And if there were, what 13 year old boarding school girl holding such a secret would want it to be ferretted? No-one ever called dare - dare was for wusses. Double-deadly dare was the call, and every call raised the bar a little bit higher.

Tuesday night, and the game had been in swing for 45 minutes when "It" moved to my space. "Double-deadly dare" said the fearless (if not slightly stupid) Jeanie and the challenge was issued.

"Streak three times around the dorm"...

This was indeed a challenge of the highest order.

Firstly, streaking was firmly frowned upon by the establishment. Something civilisations the world over frown upon is the lack of proper decorum and clothing, and our school had intentions to mould us into "young ladies". Not only did it cause frowning, but seen as a giant raspberry (if not brown eye) to the standards they aspired for us.

Secondly, to be out of bed after lights out was only condoned if excuses of ablutions or requirements to use the charley burner were offered. Anything else was punishable as an example to the rest of the flock.

Thirdly, running around the dorm was quite a distance, three times thrice that, and MsScam had not clopped by of late and was due...

But I was up for it. The first thing you learn at boarding school is nudity be buggered (really, no-one looked or got caught looking and no-one else gave a darn) and it would give me that bad-girl kudos that was scant in my repertoire.

I had made it 2 1/2 times around before the clicking alarm was raised. MsScam was heading in Dorm C's direction - and from the entrance that I was hurtling towards. Luckily the room was darkened - she would not be able to identify the runner if I could make the bed before she reached the light switch.

I sped up and dived for my bed. My body made it!! One leg made it! Unfortunately, my other leg was attached to a foot that failed. Two toes found one side of the bedleg. Two toes found the other side. The middle toe failed to chose and got sacrificed.

Not only was I CAUGHT, caught naked, and caught naked and screaming, I had the added embarrassment factors of having MsScam tug the toe to see if it REALLY hurt (it did), to visit the doctor in the morning and relive the tug (it was broken) and to limp around the school sans shoe for the next three weeks and 300 peers and older grade girls all laughing heartily at my plight.

But now I am a grown up. I no longer feel I have to accept truth, dare and double-deadly dare challenges. I no longer place myself in embarrassing positions to attain peer recognition.

Actually, shall we call bullshit on the last line. I blog - and I just told you this story.

And to the previous line - as usual on a Tuedsay, Bettina at Dances to the Beet of Her Own Drum has Screw Up Tuesday and I am putting this forward - ancient history, I know, but I am not good at timetabling my vagaries!

So now, your turn - how did the gangly limbs of adolescence trip you up?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Technology - the great(ish) leap forward

No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I did not drop the bombshell of my complete dorkiness to you only to disappear.

It happened like this.

On Tuesday, I had a list of lovely things to do - you know, blog, back up computer, get all really important information into one hard spot... Well, I sort of didn't get through my list because, as usual, Blue Tuesday, the day before Red Wednesday, came armed with a knee-cracking migraine and I succumbed after my usual ladylike reticence.

Therefore, on Wednesday when I took my old tower in to the computer guy to update for my daughter and to collect my brand spanking new one, I was not doing so with the smug satisfaction of an organised geek but with a certain level of trepidation. Oh, I went armed with prayers to the higher technological gods that nothing bad would happen to the heart of my old machine but we know how that god loves a laugh.

But I was lucky - yes indeed, the computer guy not only gave me this shiny new machine that I could play with but also my old one, not yet updated with the promised improvements but promises that Monday would be a better day for such advances in my world.

Well, I was lucky until I got it home, when it decided that it didn't feel the love any more and, in a manner of sulking, would not find the operating system - which unfortunately is necessary to find anything. I am computer literate enough to know its just a loose connection - somewhere - but I was up against timewise so decided to hook up the new beauty and watch her spin.

Unfortunately spinning was in the manner of in one spot and going nowhere, because it took me a few hours of frustration to realise that what XP used to allow in terms of setting passwords wasn't as loved by Vista.

Therefore the password we set when we created a little home wireless network was not really the password. Well it was, but snooty Vista was not even going to look at the offering we placed at its feet - it was not worthy of contemplation.

It only took a little hair pulling, an almost domestic dispute (not really, but I am not good at letting another person drive a computer in front of me, even if it is HIS computer and even if it is to try and find out the computer code for what I want), a phone conference with the computer god guy and an epiphany that if a computer code reference it is in CAPITALS on a website it really means lower case. D'uh!

However, by the time I had worked that out, it was almost time to hit the road for another trip West - but hey, laptop can travel and I would have time to play!

Thursday we went to my SIL and brother's - for work, for 'Salina's continued jillarooing experience, for family fun time and maybe to surf.

Unfortunately the waves weren't up, but on Friday afternoon I travelled a little South to my sister's - again, for work, for 'Salina's continued jillarooing experience, for family fun time and maybe to surf.

The waves were in there - but - well, her connection was "shaped" - meaning that once she has hit her limit (awfully easy when you blog, pay bills online and update computer virus programs) and the c-o-n-n-e----c-----t-----i---------o---------------n w------------a---------------s s----------------l----------------o--------------o--------------w (as well as costing her extra for each sneak peek online) so I instead spent a little quality time with her kids and her plastics drawer while she got muddy with my daughter.

So now I am back home and starting to refind my feet, relearn my passwords and try to catch up with my little blogworld.

So - hello! What have I missed?