Thursday, February 27, 2014

I may start playing again

The pork loin was perfectly cooked but the seasoning I used was awful. I was using it in tortillas - and the tortillas were also awful. Next time I will make my own. But I love the crockpot.
I have spent the last two days doing the US tax return. It was a scarifying experience.
Uncle Sam wants to know details of every asset you have anywhere in the world – and every cent of income. Uncle Sam also does not trust you and requires copies of the documents concerning all assets and income.
We also have to declare any goods we bought from Amazon for which we did not pay state sales tax. We are actually happy to do this in the hope that some of the money may go towards road repairs.
Or it could be used for something useful - like a cricket pitch which the mayor is proposing to build in Indianapolis.
Yes – a cricket pitch.
Indianapolis is spending $6 million to equip one of its parks with a premier cricket field, known as a pitch, and space for Gaelic football, rugby, hurling and other sports mainly popular overseas.”
Well I can just imagine the crowds at a cricket match. Well - there will be me – and perhaps the mayor – and I may take the cats to make up the numbers.
Who knows – I may start playing again.

Monday, February 24, 2014

I am lucky to be alive

I am  lucky to be alive.
On Friday there were eight homicides in Indianapolis. This is an extraordinary number – even for this town - which seems to have more than its fair share of murders and mayhem in general.
Also I just missed being killed by the largest pothole I have ever seen. This was in college avenue not so far from us and I was beetling along in the inside lane – always a mistake – when I spotted this gigantic chasm in front of me.
I braked heavily and was only doing about 10 mph when I hit. It did not tear my wheel off as I had expected – but I narrowly missed a bunch of tourists with donkeys making their way back to the top.
I have hung another bird feeder outside the kitchen. This is larger and more elaborate than the one we have already. I bought it without Cate and she may hate it. We are also looking for a bird bath but have not yet been able to find anything suitable.
My car got its first wash ever on Friday. I vaguely recall – in days gone by - car washes having hordes of people who dried the car and cleaned the interior. Not anymore.
You get hooked up and are dragged through the suds and water – and finally the blow dry. Then its all over in less than two minutes and you are on your way. It’s remarkably efficient – if not particularly satisfying.

Last nite I made Mexican chicken soup. Tonite I am making pulled pork Tortillas. I am using my crockpot for the first time and am slow cooking pork loin. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mad as a bag of frogs

The French part of the family arrived back in Paris where their cats were pleased to see them. Molly has one cat and Gaston has two. There was a cat merger when they moved in together and it was surprisingly successful.
Not like the goat thing when we brought Monika and Sissi home to live with Muffin. She was already as mad as a bag of frogs and this tipped her right over the edge. This was when she started Morris dancing on the bed for hours every nite.
On their trip to Australia Qantas provided Biggles with a bassinette in which he could sleep – attached to the bulkhead in the front row. United provided them with a sports bag and Biggles slept on the floor – but he managed this remarkably well.
Today we are having a meeting with the accountants who have been doing our tax returns in Australia and Austria. This was a special treat for us because Cate was an Australian citizen working in Austria and Ducky Pharma arranges this for those types of employees.
Now we are considered to be US residents so also have to do a US tax return - which look more ghastly than the others combined - and one of them was in German.  
They asked me to fill in as much online as much as I could before the meeting. I have managed our names and addresses but the rest looks terrifyingly incomprehensible and difficult.
They do our first tax return for us and then we are on our own. I will pay close attention.
We had two sunny days and the snow is melting. Flooding is expected in parts of Indiana as the mountains of snow look for somewhere to go.

But – more storms are expected today.

Monday, February 17, 2014

I am keeping the furnace at full blast

We have moved beyond snow now and are having rain and icy blasts.  There were mountains of snow on the weekend and Indianapolis ground to a halt – again. 
There are some streets that now cannot be used and the mayor is arranging for massive amounts of pothole filler to be shipped in.
The house is leaking in three places and we got the guy who renovated it to come back and have a look. He said there is not much he can do because the problem is caused by ice dams that build up and force ice into places where it would never normally go.
He said he has the same problem at his house – and with many of his clients – caused by the freaky weather the like of which they have not seen here for many years.
He is going to come back when winter finally leaves us and make the repairs.
We did expect these sorts of problems with a house that is more than 100 years old.
As a consequence of the latest ice age we have not been able to get out and about much – lest Molly and Biggles freeze to death – but I have shown them a few places and we have had some nice lunches at Tea’s Me – which is only a block from where we live.
We were also able to fulfill Gaston’s desire to have a genuine mid-western hamburger and went to Bru Burger – the premier burger joint in Indianapolis.
I am keeping the bird feeder full – the furnace at full blast – and the coffee machine topped up and I am sure we will survive.

Gaston is cooking tonite. We are assured that he has considerable culinary skills and are looking forward to his offering.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Indianapolis is still covered with snow

Cate has received her license in the mail. Unlike mine – it does not expire in one month – and instead is valid until 2016. This is a major step forward in our relationship with US bureaucracy – which is just as difficult to penetrate as Austrian bureaucracy – but at least is in English.
I have shown the visitors the sights of Indianapolis. They have seen downtown, Carmel and Zionsville.
They are very impressed with the shopping opportunities I have at Marsh, Fresh Market and Costco.
Yesterday we saw the Eagle Creek park and bird sanctuary and today we are seeing one of Indiana’s highlights – the museum at the Indianapolis motor speedway.
Indianapolis is still covered with snow – and it is usually below zero.
This means that we cannot take Biggles out walking so our activities have been restricted to driving – which is good because when he is in the car he sleeps. This is not often the case when he is at home – but Molly and Gaston cope remarkably well.
Cate and I also cope well because Biggles is upstairs in another part of the house and we cannot hear him during the night.
The new bird seed is working well and we have has as many as 5 northern cardinals at the feeder at the same time.
Candy (fmcgmccllc) sent me her Chili recipe and I am itching to try this out. Last night I made my favorite ‘Three Bad Men’ pasta dish and it was a particularly fine batch.
Tonite I am having a go at Mac and Cheese – which is extraordinarily popular in Indianapolis.

I am thinking of ways to make it more exciting than it sounds.  
Snow is forecast for Saturday and Sunday - and then it will warm up - maybe.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The saga was not quite finished

The driving license saga was not quite finished.
When we went to get Cate’s license on Saturday we had to produce an existing out of state license.  We tried to use her Austrian license but were told that it was not acceptable because it was in German. 
Well actually it is and it isn’t – it says ‘driving license’ on the front in German – and in English – and in 17 other languages. 
It also has no expiry date – for some reason Austrian licenses do not have this feature – and the BMV were simply incapable of comprehending this.
We were told we could use it only if we had it translated into English and were able to confirm that there was no expiry date on the license. Well if we did this the translation would say ‘driving license’ in English 19 times.
This had us stumped for a while – we were reeling at the task of finding official translators for each of the 18 non-English languages on the front of the license and having them certify that ‘the words on the front of the license in Turkish (or whatever) say ‘driving license’.
As far as the expiry date was concerned we were simply at a total loss. Who would we get to look at the license and certify that ‘there is no expiry date on this license’. Perhaps an official and authorized ‘driving license expiry date examiner’?
Many people in the BMV were consulted – including the branch manager. A call was made to ‘downtown’. All this had predictable and inevitable outcome. Rules are rules.
But where were the rules when I got my license and used an Austrian driving license – without any problems at all? 
Then we were told that we could use an international driving license. Terrific – we had one. We hurtled home to get it and the examiner kindly let Cate take the exam – even though she was well outside her allotted time slot.
So on Wednesday this week Cate got a call from the BMV. They wanted a copy of her Austrian driving license – without translation.
Go figure.
We had nine inches of snow yesterday.

Molly and Gaston and Biggles have arrived and have settled in nicely.