Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We are taking no chances

Some sort of Goose in Stockholm

So remember that tomorrow we are going to Sweden to cycle. 

I know it seems like a long way to go to cycle when the Monon trail is only 200 yards away  - but this is what we do.

I always want to  blog when we are away but one never knows about wireless connections.

But Sweden is a very sophisticated country and I cannot imagine that there are too many places without Internet. Although we are in the wilds on the west coast – so one never knows.

We like Sweden because it is one of those terrible socialist countries which has universal health care – and social security benefits at a level that mean that after you retire you do not have to live in a brown paper bag in a septic tank and lick hot gravel for breakfast.

And – shock horror! Almost no one owns a gun. Which of course means that there are no massacres in schools or cinemas. 

This totally wrecks the breaking news segments on local TV. These are restricted to lost dogs and stolen snowmobiles.
Lutfisk prior to being used as a blunt instrument

Naturally – every now and again – someone gets beaten to death with a Lutfisk – but these events are uncommon. It is difficult to create havoc with a Lutfisk.

By the time the perp manages to beat one person to death with a Lutfisk – the Lutfisk would be totally shagged and flabby and good for nothing – not even eating. Well - my memory is that even in a pristine state they are not good for eating. 

You would need a trailer load of Lutfisk – and weeks - to perpetrate an atrocity – and the very efficient Swedish police would certainly take you in hand well before this. 

But I am taking no chances. We are taking sunscreen, umbrellas and Lutfisk repellent. Just in case.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

They do not gallop along

One of our new friends at the Indy 500
Things don’t move as slowly here as they did in Vienna – but they do not gallop along either.

I had my hearing at the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission today and my fried Meg - we know each other well by now - said that she was happy with the concept but had some concerns about the roof.

So the deck builder – my friend Ralph – we know each other really well – will talk to Meg in a day or so and perhaps before many more moons pass we will have a continuation of work on the deck.

In the meantime I have almost daily contact with Brigit and Dave from the air conditioning company. I know these two far too well.

I told them that the top of the house was now uninhabitable and we really needed some action.

Dave said he got the parts from the parts company but one was broken and had to be sent back. He hopes the new one will arrive soon – and unbroken. So do we.

Tonite we went to a meeting of the Herron Morton Land Use Committee to discuss Kevin’s plans for the vacant block next to ours. We are not ecstatic about Kevin’s plans for the block but can live with it – particularly as he is going to plant more hicks yews.

But I did make a new friend this week. The house over the road was finished a month or so ago.  It was built by my mate Anton – and I met the man who bought it – whose name is Phillip and who works for Ducky Pharma. Can you beat it!

Today I also met Merrilly who lives in the apartments just down the road. She bit me for $5 for bus fare to go to a job interview – or buy beer – it doesn’t really matter what it was for as she seemed like a very nice lady and was deserving of my help.

She asked God to bless me – which he did – as I did not die while I was mowing the lawn – although I gave it a nudge because it was so hot the squirrels were gallivanting under the sprinkler.

Monday, May 26, 2014

We are both surprised

I had a great time at the Indy 500. Not only that – Cate had a great time at the Indy 500. She loved it.  We are both astonished by this turn of events.

It was an astonishing spectacle from the pre-race events to the event itself.

We had fabulous seats on the top level and in the shade – with a view of the main straight - the pits and turn 1.

I made ham and cheese sandwiches with raspberry and wasabi mustard. We washed these down with mandarin flavored mineral water.

On the way in Cate bought a pair of heavy duty ear muffs. I made do with the ear plugs given to us on one of our flights. These were not adequate and my ears are still ringing.

Cate says she would like to go again – but only if we can get good seats. This is not easy. Those who bought the more expensive seats have the option to buy them again the following year.

What happens is that everyone buys them – and sells them if they do not use them for themselves.

So the only way to get tickets is to buy them from one of the existing ticket holders – and of course an exorbitant price.

But I will see what I can do.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Don't blame me

What I think of Tony Abbott
The birds are eating us out of house and home. I have had to restrict them to 2 pounds of seed a day – which they finish within an hour. These cannot be all local birds – some of them are fly ins from far flung places – maybe even Kentucky or Ohio.

The squirrels love their corn and are getting through an ear a day. This does not stop them from molesting the bird seed. The corn is cheaper than the bird seed. I may just focus on the squirrels.

Tonite I received our federal tax return which was prepared by the accountants. It runs to 68 pages. I am supposed to check it and then mail it to the IRS. It is totally incomprehensible. Mail it? What happened to electronic filing?

Perhaps the IRS is supporting the US postal service because it is running at such a colossal deficit.

The good news is that Uncle Sam owes us money.

We received our tickets to the Indy 500. They appear to be very good seats. We are in the B Penthouse. Apparently this means that we are under cover.

The people who got the seats told us that we are in the sun until about 12:30 and then it sinks slowly into the west. Cate said that’s OK – the race starts at 12:00 so we will be out of there by 1:00.

Not exactly I said – the race – at best – will last at least 3 hours – it is after all 500 miles. With guaranteed yellow flags we are looking at 4:00 PM.

This brought her to the brink of a nervous collapse and once more it was necessary to resuscitate her with Pouilly-Fuisse.

There is a website Stop Tony Meow. You download it to your browser and it replaces pictures of Tony Abbott with pictures of kittens.

This will be useful for all those who have been royally rogered by Tony’s recent budget – you know the one that was never ever under any circumstances  going to contain tax increases – but is stuffed to the gunwales with them.

Don’t blame me. I voted Labor.  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Her favorite part


We are girding our loins for the Indy 500 on Sunday.

I have studied this subject carefully and am in the process of preparation. Many things are required including sunscreen, hats, binoculars, sunglasses, cold drinks and – of course – ear plugs. Especially ear plugs. 

Cate came up with a cunning plan and tried to get someone else to go with me in her place. They refused on the basis that it is ‘an experience Cate should not miss’.

I guarantee it is an experience she will never forget – and I cannot imagine getting her back there.

The most difficult part of the equation is getting there and getting home. 

After looking at all the options I have booked charter bus seats. The bus leaves from the campus of Indiana University - a few blocks from us. 

I have of course paid a premium to ensure that we get guaranteed seats on the first bus home – as Cate will be in a very fragile state by then and will require a long hot bath in conjunction with a glass or two of Pouilly-Fuisse. 

I think her favorite part will be when Jim Nabors sings ‘Indiana’ before the race starts. He has been doing this for a long – long time and this will be his last appearance.

Then  of course there will someone - who probably won a series of X-Factor - who will warble the national anthem - which of course we stand for - but don't know whether or not we should put our hands over our hearts.

We don't wish to presume anything because we are not American - but would hate to think that those around us do not think we have the right level of patriotism - which of course we do - and we would be brimming over with it even more if they would fix the fecking potholes in Alabama street.  

There are two Australians driving in the Indy car series – and thus in the Indy 500 – so I will be cheering them on. If all else fails I will cheer for Scott Dixon – a Kiwi who has won once already. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Yes they are real

Cate has been using my car for the last few days as I had to get one of her tires fixed. 

It developed a slow leak and when I took it to Audi the man said that there was a nail in the tire – but that it was in a position where they could not patch it – so we would need a new tire – no surprises there.

Sadly (also no surprise) they did not have one in stock. So she drove my car for a few days – and remarked rather unkindly that it was ‘gutless’.

Clearly unsuited for her 8 minute drive to work - which apparently requires a 6 cylinder turbocharged monster. 

Although I must say it is a joy to drive on the Interstates.

One photo shows a real squirrel on the squirrel feeder. The other photo shows that the clever little blighter has found that the top to the feeder opens – to reveal untold treasures.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

No it's a real squirrel


Cate told me this morning that I had to take the squirrel feeder off the tree because – clearly – the squirrels were not going to use it.

I begged for an extension as my confidence remained undimmed – and I just knew that our squirrels – while perhaps not being intellectually gifted – were going to stumble across it sooner or later.

Real squirrel
Stuffed squirrel
I was rewarded an hour or so later by the sight of a squirrel sitting on the feeder eating the corn. Bless his/her little heart. I took a (very bad) photo of this happy event and sent it to Cate.

She says it is a set up and that I have put a stuffed squirrel on the feeder and taken a blurry photo to attempt to mislead her. So I am eagerly awaiting the next visit. 

I wonder where she thinks I would get a stuffed squirrel.

Amazon of course. $9.17 plus tax. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Who could ask for more than that

There are many important things in our lives – and one of the most important is coffee. And I mean good espresso coffee. This is not a common commodity in the USA and in Indy there are only three places – apart from Starbucks – where we have been able to find espresso coffee.

We never thought we would see the day when we would look forward to Starbucks coffee – but when the alternative is long-brewed sludge – it makes our hearts skip a heart when we see the familiar sign.

The problems are most acute when we travel. There are places in America (and I know you will this hard to believe) where there is no Starbucks presence. Gallipolis is one.

No – not Gallipoli in Turkey where the Australians landed in 1915 – Gallipolis in Ohio – where we stayed for a night last November. 

And no hotel we stay at ever has espresso coffee – without which we have difficulty starting the day.

We have decided to solve this problem by taking espresso coffee with us when we go on driving trips.

We are doing this in the form of a tiny weeny Nespresso machine. It is really too small to have been taken from its mother – but we will take good care of it.

So now – no matter where we go – we will be able to start the day with a Nespresso Ristretto.

Who could ask for more than that. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Ungrateful little blighters

Mt Hood
The dinner for Cate’s colleagues was successful – apart from the Patates Brava. They apparently tasted OK – but they looked disgusting. I checked the recipe – and I made them the right away. Perhaps the person who invented the recipe was short sighted

My second key lime pie was better than the first – and the graham cracker pastry was not quite the complete shambles it was the first time.

But surely there must be a better way to press pastry into a baking dish than with your fingers. I will ask Williams Sonoma if they have a machine that does this. Of course you can buy ready made graham cracker crusts – and I can just imagine what these taste like.

I managed to mow the lawn without doing any damage – but it was tough going. Garden person sowed some seed last week and I am hoping this sprouts quickly to fill in the gaps - some of which are almost as big as the potholes in the streets here.

I installed a squirrel feeder to take some of the pressure off the bird feeders. I bought some special corn which is supposed to be a squirrel magnet.

Of course they ignore it completely - and in fact walk around it to get to the bird feeders.

Ungrateful little blighters.