Monday, November 25, 2013

The widgets are supposed to be loose

We went to the Thanksgiving knees up next door on Saturday night. It was really a Democratic function as they are are up to their ears in the local party – in fact Peggy-Sue is running for office in the local county administration.
It was quite comforting being in a house with 100 or so Democrats as we could discuss politics and talk about the evil Republican menace that is threatening the lives of all Americans if not civilization as a whole.
There were in fact a couple of Republicans but they wore dark capes – had fangs – and dripped venom on the carpet.
I did my Patates Batasi – with Australian bush spices – and it was a howling success. People lined up for it. I may go into the catering business.
Today I am making pumpkin soup with ginger, lime and orange. I have not done this before so am slightly concerned - as I always am when I make something new. But Bru Burger is only 5 minutes away if there is a disaster.
Our Insinkerator has been making strange noises since we moved into the house but worked OK so we did not worry about it too much. It got worse last week so I had a look down the sink and found a couple of widgets that were loose.
I called Mr. Appliance – who arrived at 8:00 AM this morning. I turned it on to demonstrate the strange noise it made – and of course it did not.
Her told me that the widgets were supposed to be loose so that they could munch things up.
He could find nothing wrong with it but comforted me by saying that it was probably something like a bread tie that had been caught in there and had freed itself the moment he walked through the door.
Tomorrow we start our road trip to Virginia and beyond. We are driving as far as we can tomorrow and will stop in the wilds of Ohio or West Virginia.
There are apparently ferocious storms coming to the east coast this week – but we have just survived a tornado so are not worried.
I am taking my MacAir so – if I do not blog – I will at least give you photos. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

It was a complete madhouse

Our favorite white wine at the moment is New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. We love the fresh grassy and fruity flavor. We would actually prefer the Austrian Sauvignon Blancs – for which we acquired a taste – as we find these just a little bit less grassy – but Austrian wine is not easy to find here in the supermarkets.
Although – amazingly – we have found some Austrian Gruner Veltliner on the wine menu at a couple of restaurants in Indy – but they are not Weinguts of which we have ever heard. We drank them anyway.
But what is surprising is that the New Zealand wines we like are cheaper than they are in Australia – if we buy them at our local supermarkets – or even cheaper if we buy them at Costco.
I have made a couple of forays to Costco over the last two days to buy some things in bulk – you know - things like a pallet of toilet paper - a pack of 64 toothbrushes- and a box of 248 cans of cat food (they have the cat’s favorites) and I started laying in supplies of wine for Christmas.
I find the Costco concept absolutely fascinating and stare in awe at the amazing things – and quantities – they have. Today I saw a Turkey oven. That’s what it was called. It was the size of small refrigerator. I am guessing you would need to cook Turkey more than once a year at Thanksgiving to make it cost effective – and you would also need lots of storage space.
On Friday afternoon Costco was a complete madhouse – absolute chaos. I shudder to think what it will be like the week before Christmas. Spare me.
Reminder to self – start shopping for Christmas immediately after Thanksgiving. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cate will make Lamingtons

I am pleased to report that Molly safely delivered Biggles last Saturday. Gaston was present throughout the procedure and panted along with Molly as required. They are all home together now - and Molly and Gaston are discovering the joys of parenthood.  We are planning on having them here early next year and are already thinking about bassinettes and car seats.
The few remaining leaves fell from the trees so on Tuesday I took the mulcher for a run. It performed very well but I there were immense numbers of leaves and it took me about six hours to clear them from the main piece of lawn. I call it lawn but it is really a loose collection of tufts of grass punctuated by muddy patches and broad-leafed weeds.
I have high hopes for it – perhaps next year.
The next door neighbors have invited us to a Thanksgiving get together next Saturday night. We got an invitation in the mail so suspect that there will be quite a crowd.
The invitation says that it starts at 7:00 PM and finishes at 3:00 AM. Should be quite a knees up. They are providing the Turkey and we are asked to bring our favorite Thanksgiving dish. 

We don’t have one of these so I am planning on making my favorite Turkish dish – Patates Batasi – and Cate is going to make Lamingtons.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Maybe it's a bit like Vegemite

When were in Chicago we ate at Michael Jordan’s steak house. We normally eschew places like this – bearing famous people’s names - but it was late in the evening and we did not have time to look for anything else suitable – and we felt like a steak – which we do not do too often – so we went.
It was indeed an excellent steak and we washed it down with some excellent wine – I have no idea what it was because Cate always picks the wine – me being something of a dunce when it comes to wine – but I like everything she chooses.
It was of course stunningly expensive – but we were paying for the name – and the fact that Michael may appear and say hello. Not that we would recognize him. Cate asked me who he was and I said he was a basketball player. She wrinkled her nose at this but I told her she did not have to watch basketball – just eat steak and drink wine.
We always have a problem with breakfast wherever we go because Cate’s favorite breakfast is muesli with fruit and yoghurt and you can just imagine how many places in middle America do that. But Chicago did.
We ended up in a place called The Corner Bakery where she had some disgusting oatmeal – made with water - on the first day - but got lucky on day two with Bircher muesli with yoghurt.
My traveling breakfast is coffee with croissants – so my needs are always met - unless of course the place we visit does not have espresso coffee and instead has those large drums of brown muck that many Americans drink. My humble apologies to those American readers who do drink this brown muck.
I guess if I had been raised on it I would probably like it. Maybe it’s a bit like getting accustomed to Vegemite.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The hounds of hell descended upon us.

We both love Chicago. It has wonderful architecture and good restaurants - and a sensational art gallery.
It was an absolute doddle getting there for me on Thursday. I barreled along the Interstate listening to music for three hours. Absolute Bliss. 
Cate subscribes to a satellite radio service called Sirius – so she can choose from about 100 channels of all types of music wherever she goes. My favorite is of course Bluegrass – because I am a country boy at heart – and she of course listens to classical music.
So on this occasion I had the radio to myself and listened to Bluegrass for the entire trip.
As we were leaving the hotel in downtown Chicago the tornado warning sirens sounded. We know they were tornado warnings because some people in the lobby saw our puzzled looks and told us so.
That’s silly we thought – they don’t have tornados in Autumn.
When we left the hotel we set the navigation system and it went completely haywire – so we got hopelessly lost in downtown Chicago – and all the while the tornado warning sounded on our radio.
After rebooting it twice the system settled down and we got onto the Interstate – and then after 10 minutes the hounds of hell descended upon us.
We found ourselves in the middle of a tornado - with rain so heavy we could not see more than 20 meters and wind so strong it was blowing the car sideways.
If we could have stopped we would have – but we were on the Interstate – and could not see the sides of the road – and while we were traveling at 20 mph with our hazard lights blinking – along with most other people - crazy people in gigantic SUVs were hammering past us. We knew that if we could find the side of the road – and stopped there – we would almost certainly be crushed by one of these giants – the drivers of which could not possible see where they were going.
The constant text messages on our iPhones said ‘Tornado warning – take cover immediately!’
We did the only thing we could under the circumstances – became hysterical.
Cate was driving. She had her nose pressed to the windscreen and drove along shouting ‘I can’t see anything’.  I comforted her by shouting ‘Neither can I’.
After about 40 minutes – it seemed longer – the rain eased and then stopped. After a further half hour we came to a complete stop in a gigantic traffic jam – and stayed put for 3 hours. We think a truck was blown over by the wind and completely blocked both lanes of the Interstate.
The three hour trip home to 7 hours. But we lived to tell the tale.Next time we hear a tornado warning siren we will know exactly what to do – and it will not involve driving.   

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How cool is that

A reminder of Vienna
I am packed and ready to go to Chicago. I am taking only the bare essentials – warm clothing, wine and chocolate biscuits – and of course my iPad. The chocolate biscuits are of course the Australian ones you can get at World Market. They are actually Tim Tams but are not called Tim Tams – just chocolate biscuits.
I was there on Wednesday and bought 10 packets.
This will be my first major trip on an the Interstate highway and I am very excited about it.
But not as excited as I am about my latest acquisition – a talking meat thermometer.
I found out about these types of contraptions when I was in Sydney with Lenny. He has a meat thermometer which you use by sticking a probe in the meat – and the actual thermometer thingy hangs outside the barbecue so you can monitor the temperature.
Mine goes one step further. You stick the probe in the meat and the monitor thingy goes with you wherever you are. When the meat is ready it tells you. How cool is that.
Cate says it is not too cold in Chicago so I am taking my second warmest coat. The warmest one is used for things like trips to the Arctic circle – which is a regular feature of our lives.

I hope I can send you some pics from Chicago.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What do the Indianapolites do in winter?

Bare tree and high gutters
Up until this morning the big tree outside our kitchen had lost only a few leaves. Apparently today was the day to shed them because the leaves started to fall about 8:00 this morning and within two hours the tree was completely bare.
It was an astonishing sight – the leaves fell like rain – I have never seen anything like it.
As soon as I get back from Chicago I can fire up the leaf blower-mulcher and give it a workout. Cate says all the leaves are to go on the garden as compost – as nature intended – but I think there are too many – even if they are mulched – and I am not sure how I get rid of the rest of them. I will have to ask my neighbor.
There are still some trees around the house with leaves – and as soon as they are gone I apparently need to clean the gutters. This – I can assure you – is not a job the Badger will undertake because of his propensity to fall off things – and those gutters are really high.
These days the Badger is not even really safe on a step ladder.
I have already sourced gutter cleaners from Angie’s list and am ready to have them leap into action as soon as the last leaf has fallen.
Today it is hovering around zero and is not much fun outside unless you are rugged up in your winter woollies.
I wonder what the Indianapolites do during winter? I think the cats and us will spend a lot of time in front of the fire. We will read and the cats will do what cats do – which is not much.