Thursday, October 24, 2013

My new favorite wine

Rainbow Lorikeets

After Melbourne (more of that later) we stayed two nights in a cabin in the middle of a forest on the south coast of NSW. This was one of the few parts of the State that is not currently being scorched by bushfires.

View from our cabin
There were hordes of birds and our favorites were a pair of rainbow lorikeets who perched on our hands while we fed them. We also had some fat possums – one with a baby – who visited us at night. There are supposed to be sugar gliders but we did not see any of these.

We had forgotten how much we missed the Australian bush and its magnificent flora and fauna. Our new best place in the world is Broulee. There is absolutely nothing there but it is more exciting than Indianapolis – without the bagels.

We are staying at the Intercontinental Hotel in Sydney – on points that Cate has accumulated on her travels. Because she is a VIP they upgraded her to suite with a harbor view.
View from our room

We had dinner tonight with the family in Sydney at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant in the city. There was no sign of Jamie but we had a fine time. Tomorrow we head north to stay with the Hendersons in Singleton.

We may get to the hunter valley to sample some fine wines. My new favorite – after trying it tonight – is Andrew Thomas Vineyard Selection Six Degrees Semillon. It is just delicious. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A whole wall of bats

Our neighbor spent some hours last night assembling his Halloween display. Perhaps we might do something like this next year.
When I was at hospital recently having my medical checkup for residency the whole place was stuffed full of Halloween paraphernalia – including a whole wall of bats.
Many people have pumpkins on their porches and lots of these have been hollowed out and carved into faces. Cate put a whole pumpkin on our front porch and the squirrels dismembered it and scattered it all over the place.
Perhaps an American can tell my why everyone goes so bananas over Halloween – or has it just – like Christmas and other holidays – been taken over by people wanting to sell large amounts of gruesome schlock.
I have given the plants one last watering and made encouraging noises – indicating that I do care deeply about them and would like them to make a special effort while I am away.
I will of course attempt to blog while we are away. We shall see.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Trick or whatever

I really care about our new plants so I have given the cat minder instructions on how to water them. This is really a matter of just turning the timers on so she should be able to accomplish this without difficulty. Winter may well kill the new plants but I would at least like to get them to the first snow so that I don’t have to take all the blame. If they die after that I will be able to say that the frost killed them.
Cate has had a look at the allocated seats on our flights and says that they are awful – and we are not sitting together. She has tried to change them but the flights are all fully booked. At least on the long legs we are traveling business class and as long as I am in there I don’t really care where I sit.
The trip is going to take 26 hours as we have to change planes four times – and have to spend a long time swanning about in airports. This is no fun in America as their business class lounges are awful. The food in the United lounges consists of plastic packets of cheese and crackers. The coffee is execrable. I am trying not to think about the lines for security. I will be wearing pants without a belt and shoes without laces.
I won’t be back for Halloween but Cate will be – and knowing how much she likes to participate in these types of things I have bought her a big bag of candy that she can dispense when the Trick or Treaters come to the door.
If the neighborhood gets really lucky she may dress up in her Abaya – I am sure it will be the first time they have seen one of these in this area.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Scary white teeth

When the company pays for our travel – as it does for our home leave – it naturally wants to pay the minimum amount possible – so hunts for the lowest air fares.
We had a bit of a scare today when we thought we were flying Delta to and from Australia. We had heard all about Delta from fmcgmccllc – so were a bit trepidated.
But the connections did not come together - so we are on United. We know United is awful – but we are accustomed to their awfulness – having had lots of practice.
I find US airlines to be uniformly bad – and particularly hate the flights between Indianapolis and Chicago or Washington.
They have these funny little Brazilian planes and the notice on the safety card in the seat pocket says that they are assembled in Mexico. This does not fill me with confidence.
The flight attendants do not seem to enjoy their work – and who could blame them.
I would certainly not like to look after a plane full of grumpy asshats all of whom have just been through security so – even if they started off with a sunny disposition – are now having a bad day.
Lots of flight attendants have scary white teeth - as do so many people in America. What is it about teeth as white as snow – and even whiter than the ones you were born with?
They have ‘teeth whitening spas’ here – and the pharmacy shelves are full of whitening products. I have had conversations with people whose teeth are so white I simply could not take my eyes off them. Caught by their luster of their teeth like a rabbit in a spotlight.
I read that some people have their teeth whitened so often that the teeth lose all their enamel – and turn green and blue. Fortunately there are solutions for these people -  there are special dental veneer and implant surgeries for people with blue teeth. Some of them will arrange finance – it costs a lot of money to turn blue teeth white. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

She provides a no frills service

A couple of weeks ago I made my first Spanakopita and it was very successful – but Cate said it had too much nutmeg in it. So I thought I would have another go - and it is in the oven as I write.
It contains no nutmeg – but also contains no eggs because I forgot them. I also had an accident with the Filo pastry (which here is Phyllo).
I forgot to take this out of the freezer so popped it into the microwave for sixty seconds – and it turned mushy. I was trying to resurrect it but dropped it on the floor – which sort of finished it off.
Luckily I had some more in the freezer – I always keep some spare because I have a bad track record with Filo pastry – and this time sort of managed to get it somewhere close to where I needed it – but it was a very flaky and had to be layered in pieces.
I am not sure how it will taste. Hopefully it will be OK and I will not have to fess up about the eggs until the event has passed.
I am having difficulty planning Sydney because we have not had our international flights booked – so it is difficult to book the other bits. At this stage it looks like we will leave on 17 October – which coincidentally is the day the USA is likely to go into default – but I am sure this will not make planes fall from the sky.
I will be staying longer than Cate because she has work commitments. This means she will have to look after herself and the cats for a few days until I get back.
I have warned the cats that they can expect very little from Cate and may have to clean their own litter box. She provides a no frills service when I am away but they are both healthy – and perhaps a little overweight – so should survive until I get back.