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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Why do they eat so early


There is a saying in Indianapolis that if you ‘want to eat well – eat at home’.

The majority of restaurants are indeed those of national chains – where the food is entirely adequate if that is what you like -  but we have been working our way through a list which purports to list the ‘25 best restaurants in Indianapolis’.

We have found some decent places to which we are happy to return. OK so it’s not Vienna - but there are a few places where the food is of a consistently high standard – and it is certainly much cheaper than Vienna – although the wine is astonishingly expensive.

We are slowly coming to grips with the fact that most Americans eat very early. Most restaurants are full from 5:30 to 8:30 and then start to empty out. Almost none are open after 10:00pm.

And of course most of them do not take reservations – so we normally toddle along at about 8:30 and can usually get a table.

Americans also do not appear to linger over their food. The ‘starter’ arrives within 5 minutes and the ‘entr√©e’ will often arrive immediately the starter has been finished. The ‘check’ arrives as soon as they see you are done.

Now we cannot think of a reason they eat so early – but there must be one. I can assure you it is not because of the high quality of the television – this is definitely not worthwhile hurrying home for.

I am pleased to report that the problems have been solved and we are now regular receivers of both the New York Times and the Indianapolis Star. The latter does not take long to read.

The Star does not like President Obama at all and I must say I did not realize what an asshole he was until I subscribed to this newspaper. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

I will keep trying


On the weekend we started hanging pictures. This is one of my least favorite activities – of which there are many. I am very bad at this and can never get the picture in the exact position that I need to – or more to the point – that Cate needs it.

It is especially difficult when you have to line the picture up with a window or door - but the most terrifying thing is having to hang pictures side by side – and have them precisely in alignment.

Cate has accepted that I cannot do this and now staggers the pictures so that one is artfully placed below the other – and no one knows the real reason why.

I thought there has to be an easier way to do it than the trial and error method I use - which makes the wall look like a pin cushion - so I went online and found a video about hanging pictures.

I discovered that there is indeed science involved in the process and all that is required are a tape measure, pencil, keen eye and steady hands.

I have only the tape measure and the pencil so my efforts were not as good as they could have been – but much better and less stressful than usual. We have started the process but have a long way to go as there are many walls crying out for pictures and photographs.

I have moved the bird food once again in an attempt to combat the squirrels – but apparently they can fly. I will keep trying.


Friday, July 26, 2013

I was frightened of risotto


There are now four squirrels eating the birdseed – it looks like parents and two juveniles. To take some pressure off this Cate gave them some strawberries – and I have made the squirrel food more accessible – but they prefer the birdseed.

I also tried to move the birdseed further out of reach but the little wretches get to it by leaping into space and landing on top of the seed cage.

I have been frightened of risotto for a long time – ever since I made my first one in Vienna a year or so ago and totally massacred it. But I was reading some cookbooks looking for inspiration – and decided to have another go.

So last night I made (very carefully) an asparagus risotto. Cate said it was terrific – high praise indeed from such a discerning consumer.


Northern Cardinal
I am very pleased that I can add this to my repertoire - and next time will be a little more adventurous with what goes in the risotto. 

On the subject of Australian spices – there are many - which have been used by the indigenous people for millennia and have gained popularity in recent years.

They are distributed – along with many traditional spices from foreign lands – by a company in Byron Bay. They do not ship overseas so I get our regular visitors to bring me some.   

Thursday, July 25, 2013

We have state birds


When we bought the hostas we also bought some hanging plants for the front porch. I don’t know what they were but they had little white flowers.

It has been so hot here that these died on day two – and there were no more little white flowers - but I have continued to water them every day as there are still some green bits poking through the brown.

I keep telling Cate they are OK because if she thinks they are dead she will want to buy some more – and they will also die immediately. I don’t see the point.

Javier has installed the fan – and much to the delight of both of us – did not have to make any holes. I thought this was amazing so asked him to explain to me how he did it. I did not understand what he said – but he impresses me as being very clever. He said he has been doing it for a long time.

I tried a new bird feeder which consists of a solid block of seeds with a cage around it  - so that the squirrels do not have total access. But they called for reinforcements – today there are four – and attacked it with a will.

In the process they dislodged many seeds onto the ground and we now have lots of birds – which I cannot identify – except for the northern cardinal – which is Indiana’s state bird.

I could not get good photo today so will give you one tomorrow. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Attic?


Today the man came to install the fan. At least I thought he came to install the fan.

Javier thought our house was wonderful so I gave him a guided tour and then we had a cup of coffee while he told me about the house he had bought in Muncie for $9,500 – had spent two years and $60,000 renovating – and was now about to rent for $800 per month.

When he started telling me about his family in Puerto Rico and Cuba I realized that he was not seized with any great urgency for the task at hand so enquired about the fan installation. He told me that he was just going to give me a quote today and that the installation could only take place at some future date.

So we looked at the fan and the intended location and he said that it would not be a problem.

We were good friends by then so he called his office and made an appointment to come tomorrow for the installation. 

As he was leaving we discussed the weather and he said he hoped it would not be too hot tomorrow as he had to go into the attic to install the fan.

Attic?

I said that we did not have an attic and he asked what was above the bedroom where the fan was going to be fitted - and I said the entertainment room you visited 15 minutes ago. Oh of course he said.

This caused enormous consternation and he spent the next 15 minutes with his tape measure figuring out how he could do the job. He said that it would be difficult but that he could do it - but may leave a couple of holes in the walls which we would have to patch.

He said he did not like making holes but sometimes he just had to do it.

In the meantime I have joined Costco which is a big box store where you can get a 2lb jar of minced garlic – or a case of 24 if you have the desire. But the prices are amazing – and they have Parmesan bagels - which are my new favorites.

So far the things I like best about America are the bagels and the wide parking spaces – but I am sure the list will grow.

The photo is of the squirrel after he had stuffed himself on the birdseed and was too shagged out to get back into the tree.