Monday, March 31, 2014

How does it do that?

I took Cate’s car to the car wash yesterday. She has an Audi that thinks for itself. When it feels the windscreen get wet (how does it do that?) it turns the windscreen wipers on.

It did this when the man sprayed soap on the windscreen. The windscreen wipers started flapping and – as it’s not my car – I could not find the lever to turn them off quickly enough to avoid the whirling strips. 

The car wash objected strenuously to this provocative action -tore one of the wiper blades off and dropped it contemptuously back on the car. I saved the pieces and when I got home started to look at where I could get a new blade.

But the more I looked the more I realized that I might still have all the pieces and could resurrect it. It took me an hour but I got it back together again. I was quite pleased about this.

I am confident that in the next rainstorm the wiper blade will fly off – never to be seen again.

A couple of times a week I go to my local tea shop – called Tea’s Me – and have a pot of black Kenyan tea and a BLT. It’s things like this that make Cate think that I have an easier job than she does – which of course I do.

They have comfortable chairs, a fire and WiFi – what could be better than that.

Cate is back tomorrow so the cats and I will have to shape up. I am back in meal planning mode.

Cate has invited some work colleagues to dinner next Saturday night. I am thinking of honey chicken with crunchy baked potatoes, parmesan asparagus and bourbon glazed carrots.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How long can I hold on

Cate is in Utrecht – not Amsterdam. When she is away I do not do elaborate things for dinner. Tonite I am having hot dogs. 

I love American hot dogs. They just do not do them properly in Australia. In Australia they are not treated with any importance – here they are part of the fabric of society.

The Baseball season is starting and I am planning on going to some of the games that are held in the afternoon at Victory field to cheer the Indians on  - and eat hot dogs.

The Washington Redskins football team is under a lot of pressure to change its name to something more culturally sensitive. I think the Indianapolis Indians are probably OK.

Cate once went to a baseball game at Victory park. She is unlikely to go again any time soon. She is not a sports person. When she sees me watching sport she asks why am I watching that rubbish.

I did not ask questions like that when she watched every episode of every season of Desperate Housewives.

Unlike football – baseball is easy to understand and is almost as boring as cricket - so is quite therapeutic.  You can just laze about with one eye on the game and think about the more important things in life – such as how long I can hold on before I have to paint the back fence.

Monday, March 24, 2014

We knew this was inevitable

The fence has been  installed – and a mighty fine piece of work it is too. We can no longer see the trash bins outside the apartments next door.

Now we have to hide the fence - so our garden person is coming today to tell us what we should plant.

The man who owns the apartments next door came to see me on Friday nite. He plans to build not one – but two – houses on the microscopic piece of land next door to us. 

These would be houses in which Peter Dinklage could live comfortably – but probably no one else.

We knew this was inevitable because the real estate agent told us it would never happen. She assured us that no one could ever get approval to build a house on a piece of land that size.

So we are not surprised –but it will not affect our privacy because we will have fences, hedges, bushes and trees. 

We have two new types of birds.  We have seen red-winged blackbirds and brown-headed cowbirds (brown-headed cowbirds?).

WTF sort of name is that?

Perhaps the person who named it had already done the pileated woodpecker, the indigo bunting and the golden crested mugwump – and had simply run out of names. In a similar fashion to the person who named the wart hog.

On Thursday Cate has to go to Amsterdam for a week – so the cats and I are already planning what we shall do. It will involve watching golf and the latest season of Mad Men.

The kitchen cupboards are a priority. I have bought myself a labeling machine so that – after I identify the various types of white powder and other ‘stuff’ in unmarked containers - I will be able to give them names so that when I am looking for plain flour I don’t have to touch, taste and sniff the contents of half a dozen jars.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The wonders of the universe

Lake Michigan
I have found a place in the USA where I can buy Australian biscuits at a reasonable price so have ordered some SAO and Vita-Wheat biscuits. The biscuit situation here is a much better than it was in Vienna – but there are still no satisfactory substitutes for our favourite crackers.

I know it is hard for Americans to fathom – but until you have eaten a SAO with Vegemite – or a Vita-Wheat with sharp cheddar cheese – you simply have not experienced the wonders of the universe.

Because Cate is no longer eating pasta or rice – and is starting to turn her nose up at meat (spare me!) I have been working my way through some vegetarian cookbooks.

I have discovered that the most uninspiring item of food on the planet is the Garbanzo bean (or chick pea). It surpasses even the pine nut for its sheer ordinariness and lack of character.

As far as I can tell it has no redeeming features – except that it is rumored to be a very healthy meat substitute. It is inedible unless it is disguised with a variety of condiments and herbs.

Anyway – I am using the ‘River Cottage Veg’ cookbook and have found some really good recipes.

Last night I cooked sweet corn fritters – but buggered up the mixture – so it turned out to be sweet corn pie – or in fact sweet corn slop – but was delicious.

Tonite I am doing things with cauliflower and a whole bunch of herbs and spices and am excited about the whole business.

I am thinking of having some Thai cooking lessons. There is a Thai woman here who comes to your house and teaches you how to cook all things Thai – and also teaches you about the spices used in Thai cooking.

We both love Thai food so I think this may be a good birthday present.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

In three days they will disappear

I bought a fabulous bird feeder from Lowes. This left us with a mismatched set of bird feeders which was aesthetically unpleasing to us and probably to the birds. When I went to get another one from my local Lowes it had sold out – and they did not have any on their website.

So I bought two perky pet feeders from Amazon and they were complete crap. They were not how they were portrayed on the website. They were not perky.

It was impossible to imagine that they could perform worse than they looked – but they did. Until I put seed in them they were just disgusting and ugly. After the addition of seed they became lopsided – the tops fell off – and seed cascaded all over the place.

They went straight back to Amazon and I must say that returning to Amazon is as easy as buying. I print a return label – put it in the box – leave the box on the front porch - and a day later I get the refund.

So I decided that I would scour the local Lowes stores to see if I could find another bird feeder identical to the one I  had already bought. I made a list of stores and started out with the first one at Carmel on Saturday morning. Bingo! Found one.

We are also trying to buy bird baths.

Sure there are plenty of bird baths available online but we are looking for something old that will go with the house. We have scoured the architectural junk yards in Indy but have not yet found anything suitable.

The fence men have put the posts in. This is exciting. In three days the trash bins will disappear.

Monday, March 17, 2014

I just can't wait

Tomorrow we are getting half a fence installed. This is to cover the back part of yard which backs on to the lane. We have some apartments across the way and they have their trash bins in the lane.

The occupants sort of throw their rubbish at the bins and occasionally some of it goes in. I don’t know what their apartments are like – but in respect of trash they are completely feral.

I clean it up a couple of times each week but we are sick of looking at it. This will give us a back yard nook where we can plant some shrubs – which is our next project.

Now that we are residents (sort of) in the USA we have to bring over to the USA the stuff we stored in Australia before we left for Vienna.

Nether of us can really remember what that consists of.

I know there is a double bed mattress and a lawn mower – neither of which will be any good to us here. There might also be some garden rakes and hoses. Oh – and hundreds of record albums – they will be useful – no where did I put the record player - and also boxes and boxes of Molly’s books which she stored with us when she went to Paris so many moons ago.

I just can’t wait to add to the enormous collection of crap we have already in the basement and loft.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Surely they can do better

Ivalo - Finland
My local pharmacy uses screens that you have to sign with a plastic pen when you pick up a prescription. The system does not work. I scrabble around for ages trying to get the pen to do something – anything.

Eventually It will make a squiggle – which is apparently fine because they accept this even though it is clearly nothing but a squiggle.

There are other places that use the squiggle screens and they all seem to be the same. It is not just me. I see many people struggling to  make a squiggle.

Surely a country that can invent cheese and bacon filled baked potatoes with chipotle can do better than this.

We need to get some electrical work done so I called my mate Javier who came this morning to have a look. There are lots of electricians who work at the company I use – but I only deal with Javier because he did such a fabulous job with our Badass fan.

He has a 16 year old daughter who was banned from school for carrying a pocket knife. It was a knife he gave her to ward off trouble. He told her to use it if she was in any danger - as if she was kidnapped by a stranger it was not because they wanted to take her to the movies – and unless she fought like hell she would not be coming home.  He is a very practical man - but now has to front the school.

So he started working on the quote for the installation of lights under the kitchen cupboards and for a power outlet in the lounge room. I then told him about a light that was not working on Cate’s study balcony and he went at this like a terrier.

It took him more than an hour to track down the fault  - and in the interim he discovered that power was not connected  to any of our smoke alarms.

This would be why I have to keep replacing the batteries so often. When he connected the power they all started chirping so I had to do the rounds with batteries and a ladder.

My local pharmacy – CVS - which is part of a national chain with many thousand of pharmacies – has decided that it will stop selling cigarettes.

A person wrote to the local paper and complained that they will have to now go to two separate places to get their medicine and cigarettes. The good news is that they will still sell alcohol.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Don't bother answering that

On Saturday I dragged Cate to the Indianapolis Flower and Patio show. We are looking for ideas for our garden – well it is not really a garden – just a loosely connected series of  tufts of grass and piles of mud. With the few bits and pieces we planted last year. 
It was actually not too bad until the lawn man applied weed and feed last spring. This killed all the weeds and left hundreds of gaping holes.
The part between the back patio and the garage is so bad we call it the Somme.
Cate is not good at things like the Flower and Patio show. But we did get some ideas for replacing our back patio - which was built only fairly recently – but by a carpenter who had few skills – and may have been short sighted – and perhaps one armed.
But what we did see were people selling things called ‘Sugar Bears’. These look familiar – I said to myself. They are in fact native Australian marsupials called Sugar Gliders. 
They are nocturnal – and the man was telling the onlookers how they could be trained to stay awake during the day. WTF!
They are kept in cages. There is not a lot of gliding you can do in a cage.
We were of course outraged and Cate wanted to write to someone – but then found out that it is in fact legal to have them as pets in the USA and even some States in Australia.

Is there nothing – NOTHING - that people will not to do make a buck? Don’t bother answering that.