Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The others were just wimps

Lake Wolfgang
Today we had a fountain installed. Cate has always wanted a fountain and we finally bought one. The cost of running electricity to it is twice what the fountain cost because Javier and Joe have to dig holes under paths. I am sure it will be worth it and that the birds will love it.

It does splash water at an alarming rate so when it is on I will have to stand next to it with a bucket of water - but this is the least I can do to allow Cate to hear the tinkle of water.

Austrian clobber
When I tried on one of my Australian suits for the ANZAC day ceremony I found that it was much too small. I think I am a bit larger than I was. So I wore my Austrian clobber. I bought this for a New Year’s Eve knees up in Lake Wolfgang in 2012. This fitted but does look a bit weird outside Austria.  Most people at the ceremony were too polite to comment and probably put it down to eccentricity.

At the ANZAC ceremony I asked the man who had been here 25 years why the roads were so bad. He said it was mainly corruption. The bids are given in exchange for kickbacks and the road builders used inferior stuff (probably black popcorn) to ensure that the road lasted for a few month before disintegrating. Sounds about right.

I have bought and planted some new Holly bushes to replace those that have popped their clogs. I had a hand in the demise of one because I accidentally sprayed it with Roundup. Don’t ask. The others were just wimps.

Now I have to try to patch my lawn. Last year I put Weed ‘N Feed on the lawn and this killed all the broad leaf weeds. Unfortunately the lawn was mainly weeds so there are many gaping holes -  which makes the lawn a bugger to mow. So I have grass seed and topsoil and much fortitude. Along with a Jura coffee machine and ‘CafĂ© Espresso’ blend from Fresh Market this is all I need.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Lest we forget

Metthew Herbert Prideaux
The ANZAC Day ceremony was quite an event. The Mayor was there – along with the Australian Consul-General in Chicago. People said things – a trumpeter from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra played the Last Post and I recited the Ode.

We met Australians who have been here for 25 years. Suffering Succotash.

There was no Australian food because the catering was done by the University of Indianapolis – but there was lovely Australian wine.

They did an AV display and I provided a photo of my uncle – after whom I was named – who was killed in the Somme in 1916 at age 20.  I gave them a photo of Cate’s father who served from 1940 to 1945 in Libya, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, the Philippines and New Guinea.

He survived the war – but like very many veterans – was never quite the same again. He used to have nightmares about being chased through the jungle by the Japanese.

I missed out on my ANZAC day blog so here is the Ode and a photo.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.

Friday, April 24, 2015

It sure is quiet around here

I have seen many amazing sights over the last few weeks. Some of them have boggled the mind. My grandson eating spaghetti for example.

Hansel also likes buttons and pushes every one he sees. This is not always useful and Boris is coming today to fix the sound system and the upstairs TV – both of which no longer work.

Kezza found Hansel changing the IP addresses in the TV control center to ‘even up the numbers’. This is of course a logical thing to do – and if I was small I would have done the same because I hate untidiness - but it does tend to throw the TV off the signal which is flapping about the room trying to find a way in.

I remember many, many years ago when I was about Hansel’s age I fiddled with my uncle’s radio. It was one of those ancient things with a half moon dial and he had it tuned to a particular station.

I think I moved the thingy to the center of the dial because it looked tidier there. He was really unhappy because he could not listen to his favorite station without moving the dial back. This was for him apparently a major event and he carried on like a pork chop for days.

I mean it would have taken him maybe two seconds to fix it – he did not have to climb mount Everest without oxygen – but he was a world class curmudgeon. He was not even really my uncle. I bet he was unkind to animals too.

Hansel is also endlessly fascinated by escalators, elevators and moving walkways. When he sees one he gets on or in it – depending upon what it does – and no matter where it is going. We often saw him disappearing into the distance – going the way in which we were not.

But he is of course a small boy and this is what small boys do. I can only hope that his children and grandchildren are just like him.

I think they had a good time. Kezza certainly did – which is the main thing.

I will miss them all of course – but it sure is quiet around here.  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

There may be Lamingtons

Back in Indianapolis we have done almost everything Indianapolis has to offer. We have visited Costco and Whole Foods, Kezza loved both of these.

We went to the Zoo which has Lorikeets and Budgerigars. I felt quite at home when a Lorikeet perched on my shoulder and pecked at my ear.  

And in May they are getting a Koala which will stay until September. I will hang out and chew some gum leaves with it.

Kezza and Hansel and Gretel left today to go home via Houston and Los Angeles. Silence has fallen upon the house and Robbie is out and about doing his thing.

Now that I have fulfilled my grandfatherly duties I can start doing the immense pile of stuff I have to do around the house and garden.

Saturday is ANZAC day and there is a formal function being hosted for Aussies and Kiwis by Indiana University. I had no idea why this was happening until I found out that the President of IU is an Australian – and incidentally knows Cate’s brother.

Did I tell you that we also found out that we have relatives living a few blocks from us? Weird.

Anyway we have rounded up all the Aussies and Kiwis – there are about thirty of us – and will have our ceremony along with some honorary Aussies and Kiwis. After that there may be Lamingtons, Anzac biscuits and Billy tea.

Monday, April 20, 2015

I just don't understand

I survived New York although I am a bit the worse for wear.  Hansel and Gretel are quite a challenge and I am not the child wrangler I used to be.

We went to the top of the Empire State building – my second time and we went early to avoid rush. Well we did avoid the rush but it was still very crowded.

We walked along the High Line which is the overhead railway line  that has been turned into a walkway and garden. We did not avoid the rush this time and it was packed.

There were joggers shuffling along amongst the teaming walkers. Hansel and Gretel did not like the walking involved with this and there were a couple of sit-downs which were ended only by promises of food or drink.

We went on the Circle Line – the boat that goes around Manhattan island. This was my second time and I realized that it takes 2.5 hours only because for most of the time the boat goes at half speed.

I guess this is to maximize the experience and whoever thought up this scheme did not have small children who have no interest whatsoever and spend their time playing Angry Birds on iPads.

We saw a rather moth-eaten Mickey Mouse in Times Square but the children were not fooled. They said that they had seen the real Mickey in Disneyland.

We saw on the news that one of the Cookie Monsters in Times Square had been arrested for molesting a young woman. There were many others so the kids will not miss out. No I don’t know what he did. 

And – amazingly – the kids did see a Glee actor. He was signing autographs outside a theater and was surrounded by a mass of people hollering and screaming and taking photos. There were grown up people doing this. I simply do not understand it.

Just like I don’t understand why at Disneyland there were grown up couples -  without children - whirling around in teacups and sitting on plastic horses on a Merry-go-round. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New York

There is a terminal C at Newark airport. In a number of conversations with a limo company I was told there was not. The woman became quite tetchy and said 'ask someone where you are - there is no terminal C'. She did this three times and each time I assured her that I was standing under a sign that said 'Terminal C'.

I attempted to speak to the driver who was looking for us. He spoke almost no English and I speak no Russian. He could not understand where I was and I could not understand where he was. After 40 minutes and six phone calls I gave up and we went downstairs to get a taxi. Then the limo company rang and said the car was waiting where I had been.

You mean at the non-existent terminal C I said. I have sent the limo company a photo I took of the sign that says 'Terminal C'.

The traffic in New York is as excruciating as ever but the roads are just like they are in Indianapolis so I felt right at home. They do seem to patch their potholes here which is a novel approach and one that should be adopted by my town. Our legislation is too busy hating gays to fix potholes.
Hansel and Gretel are just as impressed with New York as they were with the other places we have been - except Disneyland which they really liked - but then they were on rides. I have found that when they are outdoors Hansel and Gretel like only two things - eating ice cream and going on merry-go-rounds.

I had forgotten what it is like to travel with small children who are always whimpering and are hot or cold or hungry or thirsty or tired or want an iceblock or need to go to the toilet or are dying from some unspecified ailment or are badly injured but show no signs of damage and really just want to go back to the hotel so they can play with their toys.

We are staying very near Times Square in the Edison hotel which is the busiest hotel I have ever seen. The lobby is always packed with hordes of young people doing what young people do which is mainly shriek and shout and leap about noisily.

Times Square is much busier than I remember and there are many more gigantic electronic billboards. Where else in the world could you see a 90' woman in a bikini. The last time I saw this many people in the same place it was at Disneyland. Of course many of the people are just selling tickets to the bus ride round New York. That would be some ride - a three hour ride moving at an average of two miles per hour

Times Square is probably what most of the planet will look like when we become extinct. This is not that far off and in America is being hastened by a group of very rich people who want to be even richer and do not care what happens to their great grandchildren who will die of asphyxiation buried under a mountain of McDonald and Chipotle wrappers.

This is pronounced Chee-pot-lay and not as chee-pottel as I thought when I first came to America.

I have seen the world's biggest Toys R Us. It is in Times Square and is quite extraordinary. It was an experience I would like to have only once.

There is a Barbie house and a Ferris Wheel. There are walls of Barbies and the Skylander things that Hasel collects by the kilo. He is the toy makers perfect client.

We went to Central Park and saw lots of things including a marionette show of Jack and the Beanstalk. The kids loved this and they were entranced for an hour before their life threatening needs returned and the needs for ice cream became overwhelming.

Today we went to the 911 memorial and museum. It was quite an experience. We then walked thru Battery park. This caused much protest and dragging of small feet so we caught a taxi to where the Circle line departs - but the bloody thing only goes twice a day - and the next one was hours away.

We walked back to the hotel - a feat that was achieved only by cajoling with promises of ice blocks. Kezza went to MOMA and then shopping while grandad looked after the children. They played in the room and grandad went to sleep watching a cartoon.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

New York here we come

Today we are going to New York.

We are staying in a hotel in Times Square so we can see the bright lights. I have not been to New York for years and am looking forward to doing some things I have never done – like going to Liberty island.

I have also never been mugged in New York – although I have been in many places where I should have at least been mugged if not murdered.

But those were the days when I was younger and sillier and used to go to clubs like 54 – where I never did see Mick Jagger or Andy Warhol – or anyone I recognized.

Hansel and Gretel are looking forward to seeing the cast of Glee – which is a show which is apparently filmed in New York. We have told them the city is quite large and they may not see anyone they know. I have only ever seen fleeting glances of Glee – and then with the sound off. I don’t think it is my kind of show.

Tomorrow we are going to a puppet show in Central Park. I am looking forward to that. I am not sure if the horses are still there giving rides or if mayor Deblasio has stopped this.

Indianapolis has hired a public relations firm to start undoing the damage that our idjit Governor did with his discrimination act. It is times like this when I am glad I am not a real Hoosier.