Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Only one will not be achieved

Guess what this is before you read the blog.

And no it is not a harness for restraining Dick Cheney while he froths at the mouth about invading Iraq - again. 

We have finally decided that to ride our bikes we have to go further afield. There are very few cycle paths in Indianapolis and the roads are too damn dangerous – in terms of both traffic and their general state of decrepitude.

But there are lots of good rides outside Indianapolis – and indeed in our adjoining states. Ohio in particular is apparently cycling heaven.

So I have had – on my list of things to do – the task of buying a tow bar and bicycle rack for the car.

I mention that I put everything of substance that I have to do on lists which I maintain in my ‘Kollegblock’ which I bought in Vienna. Minor chores are not recorded – just things relating to tasks which are important and not immediately doable.

So far since our arrival in Indianapolis I have recorded about 320 tasks on my list of things to do – and have completed about 280.

Only one - ‘teach Monika how to use the cat door’ - is unlikely ever to be achieved.

But I could not make a decision about which car should have the tow bar – so this task has been on my list since last summer. I finally decided to buy a ‘portable’ one – which is shown in the photo.

This fits onto the back of the car and is held firmly in place by four straps. The bicycles are attached to it and are also strapped together.

I did extensive research on this type of contraption before I bought it and this one is the most highly rated. I read many reviews on Amazon and most were very favorable.

It is apparently quite spectacular when the contraption – with bicycles - falls off the back of the car at 65 MPH on the Interstate – but only a couple of reviewers reported this - and I am sure it was a case of them not putting it together properly.

So we are ready for cycling adventures.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Happy birthdays bro

Today is my older and venerable brother’s 80th birthday.

In August my other older and venerable brother turned 78. 

I am pleased to report that they are both well and have all of their mental faculties.

The Australian government makes them both very unhappy – but then it does this to young people as well. They are actually fortunate because I have both the Australian and US political systems to contend with and at any given moment am fretting about something that is going on somewhere in either country.   

I am of course much younger than my brothers – and arguably much better looking – although I admit that I have less hair.  

I do love them both dearly despite the unspeakable things they did to me when I was a small child. I cannot remember any of these things - but am sure they happened because I have seen movies about what older brothers do to younger brothers.

It has been said that we all look like garden gnomes. I have put a photo on the blog so you can judge for yourselves.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

We do not know when

Time for a Viennese duck
The hissing cans have been such a success that we have been able to put the rug back in the dining room. We do not expect this to be the end of the trouble and I am sure Sissi is planning revenge. I am ready for her every move.

Finally the back deck is complete. It has been erected – painted – had lights hung and yesterday I washed the cushions that fit on the chairs.

Actually I washed the covers which zip off the cushions – which are just lumps of foam. I have been through this type of thing before so was very careful to wash the covers in cold water and dry them without using the clothes dryer.

They appear to have shrunk to about ¼ of their original size – but in fact it is possible to get the covers back in the cushions with a great deal of effort. The first one took me 20 minutes but I hope to improve on this as we go along.

So anyway – it is all finished -  just in time for winter.

Today the men arrived with Cate’s treadmill.

They were reasonably cheerful until I told them it had to go on the second floor and they had to negotiate two sets of stairs – one narrow.

They conferred about this and there was much muttering and shaking of heads. Then they said they could not do it because the stairs were too narrow – the treadmill weighed 400 pounds – it was eight feet long – and they were not strong enough.

(400 pounds – did I buy a treadmill for an elephant?).

After seeing my evident unhappiness at this turn of events they conferred with head office. I had paid $249 to have the treadmill installed in the ‘room of my choice’.

Head office is sending stronger men to the do the job – maybe even four of them. 

We do not know when.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Eat your hearts out

The First Fleet is the name given to the 11 ships which left Great Britain on 13 May 1787 to found a penal colony that became the first European settlement in Australia.

The fleet consisted of two Royal Navy vessels, three store ships and six convict transports - carrying more than 1,000 convicts - marines and seamen - and a vast quantity of stores.

The ships arrived at Botany Bay between 18 and 22 January 1788.

One of the ships was the ‘Scarborough’ - which arrived on 21 January 1788 - and one of the people on that ship was Frederick Meredith - who came as a free man and as a steward to Captain John Marshall.

Frederick’s story is fascinating and has been catalogued in detail by many people – but the best story - by Clayton Talbot -  is here.

Amongst his many adventures - Frederick went to England in 1792 and returned in 1793 on the ‘Bellona’. On that ship was a convict named Sarah Mason – and she and Frederick subsequently married.

Frederick Meredith was my great, great, great, great grandfather and Sarah Mason was my great, great, great, great grandmother.

We have know about this link for many years I have taken it a step further and have had the link confirmed by an ‘accredited transcription agent’ appointed by the First Fleet Association of NSW.

This is a bunch of toffee nosed poseurs who ponce about extolling their heritage. I mean – really my dear – you are just no one unless you have a first fleeter as an ancestor – and ideally a convict.

I mean (shudder) who would to be someone who arrived as an impoverished migrant from Europe after WW11. I would rather drown myself in a bucket of Chablis.

And yes – 30 years ago people hid the convict connection  - and now it is just so fashionable it would  make you vomit. 

So of course – being the epitome of the poncing poseur – and now that I have been vetted and documented - I am going to join the First Fleet Association and put a chart on the wall.

Eat your hearts out - non-first-fleeters!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Perhaps it is just a Hoosier thing

Did I mention that Cate has to carry all her clothing and all her own food for 5 days.

I shudder to think how much the pack will weigh – but on the bright side by the time she gets to the BIG run - on the second last day - she will have to carry a lot less.

Our insurance agent sorted out the policy cancellation thing with the underwriter and they withdrew the cancellation of our policy. This is on the basis that ours is not a ‘historic’ house in the sense in which they use it – whatever that it – it is just an old house with some historic interest attached to it.

This was a relief to all us all and we relaxed.

Naturally - and of course – and what else - we received a letter this week telling us that they are going to cancel our policy.

So I have had another discussion with the agent who assures me that everything is OK and that he will get them to send a letter uncancelling the policy.

In the meantime life goes on and we are planning our Christmas trip. This year we are going to Alaska and are renting an SUV to drive around and see the sights.

We are also going to take the train from Anchorage to Fairbanks as this is apparently quite a special trip. We are not sure if we should go to Wasilla to see the home of the almost Vice President of the USA.

Someone left a whisk on our front porch a few nights ago. Just an ordinary whisk like the one in the photo. There was no note attached to it and no indication of why it was there.

I searched Google for ‘whisk left on front porch’. The closest I could come was a blog called ‘Happy Oogie Boogie Day by the Happy Whisk’.

Perhaps it is just a Hoosier thing. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

56 miles in a day?

Just add sand

Today I received my handy dandy cat sprayers. These are motion detectors on cans that spray a jet of air at anything that approaches them.

So I placed them carefully and removed the great wall of boxes. So far so good – Sissi went into the dining room – activated a sprayer -  and ran like the clappers as though the hounds of hell were after her.

I am mildly encouraged by this turn of events but do not really believe that this will solve all the problems. We shall see.

In the meantime Cate has decided to walk across the Jordan desert next March. It is actually a race but Cate will be walking – along with many other competitors.

The event begins in Wadi Rum and finishes 5 days later in Petra. There is one stage of 56 miles. Yes 56 miles.

To prepare for this event she is walking every day. I have bought a treadmill so that she can walk when it is raining or snowing. The treadmill has a gizmo so that she actually use Google maps to walk anywhere she wants to in the world.

Of course I would love to do this – who wouldn’t want to walk across the desert for five days – but arthritis in my left foot sadly precludes me from such strenuous activities.

I am looking at hotels in Petra where I can wait for her with my feet in the pool and a glass of Chablis in my hand.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I used to think stuff like this was weird

Hunter Valley NSW
We had a hot week - but on Friday fall arrived. The trees are turning and the squirrels are hastily gathering the last nuts to store before winter arrives.

Actually the squirrels are sitting on their fat asses eating the corn that I put out for them. Except that they do not seem to eat it. Yesterday I put a corn cob on the spike on the squirrel house deck and they stripped it bare – but left all the corn in a pile on the deck.

Antonio finished painting the living room ceiling and we are now ready for the next deluge.

To celebrate the impeding project completion Sissi peed – twice – on the cardboard that Antonio had put down for paint protection. He took this in his stride and just worked his way around it.

Javier came yesterday to install the lights Cate had bought for the back deck. He is very good at this sort of thing and did it without fuss. His assistant – Jake – said that his parents owned a plant nursery and he told me that I could eat the flowers in the pot on the deck table. I said I would have them for dinner.  

Meantime in Indiana – in Indiana a school has completed its preparations for a potential massacre. All the classrooms have been equipped with reinforced doors. There is a direct line to the police in every classroom. The corridors are equipped with nozzles that can spray tear gas onto lunatics with assault weapons.

I used to think stuff like this was weird.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I may even grow to like it.

The cat spray and orange oil have had – as expected  - no effect. 

I cannot shut the doors to the dining room as there are no doors. I can’t put up barriers without damaging the walls.

So today I built the great wall of boxes (TGWOB) covering the three ways into the dining room. I have used empty removal boxes and have built the wall four stories high.

This may work – or it may not. I still have other plans. One of them involves rabbit traps.

I thought I was unfortunate with the pee thing - until my daughter Molly in Paris told me that her cat poops in Biggles play pen – and Biggles eats it.

Somehow this makes me feel better – and I am comforted to know that Biggles will grow up to be big and strong and disease resistant.

Antonio is here today putting the living room ceiling back together again. We still have no clue as to what caused the deluge and are putting it down to a freak of nature which will not be repeated.

Inevitably it will be – and then John and Antonio will have to tear out the ceiling to find out what is wrong.

Antonio has his radio tuned – loudly - to a Spanish speaking station and most of the songs sound the same – like a child hammering piano keys with a mallet while  a chimpanzee is strangled with piano wire.

But it helps him focus so I am quite prepared to put up with this – and who knows – I may even grow to like it - and it may help me with my Spanish.