Monday, December 19, 2016

The gifts that will go on giving

We have had some snow. Nothing of Viennese proportions but enough to cover the ground to the depth of and inch or two. This has since sort of gone away but we have some hard icy stuff all over the place now and in is very slippery. 

This was apparent on Saturday when many Hoosiers drove on the roads as though they were as shitty as they usually are - but dry. Well in fact they were shitty and slippery and many hundreds of cars went into ditches and each other and there was a spectacular crash on the I something or other that involved hundreds of cars and trucks.  Maybe not that many but you know what I mean.

At some stage the state government is probably going to have to spend some money on roads instead of using it to persecute gays and poor people - but then they are Republicans so they have their priorities and for them there is nothing more important than gay bashing and stopping women from having abortions. And sex. Why are they obsessed with sex?

Anyway - as for the ice conditions - I am quite capable - as I have demonstrated previously - of falling down the steps even without snow so I am being very cautious. 

Gwenyth and PK arrive on Wednesday. PK has had an operation on his eye so is a bit wobbly.  He apparently snoozes a lot so he should fit in well here with the dogs and the cats. 

Tomorrow I am buying him an extra special bottle of Jameson so that we can sit around and discuss our operations - even though my brain operation was years ago I am never reluctant to talk about it. 

I love it when I say to people that the doctors told Cate that I was not going to make it and that she should assemble the family to bid me farewell. This alway elicits a few gasps of awe in which I can bask. ‘Oh it must have been so terrible for Cate!’

Well it wasn’t to chuffy for me either. 

Although I will get no sympathy from PK. He is an ocean sailor and has many harrowing stories to tell - which I can only listen to if I am sitting next to a bucket and have some wet wipes at hand. 

There is an amazing amount of stuff to be cleaned when we have visitors and Cate adds to the list daily. Today I was told that I had to get the hard water stains off the drink glasses. 

I am not sure why the water is so hard here. Perhaps because of it being a red state - or maybe Mike Pence sneaks in at night and pisses on our glasses - but I had to watch YouTube to find a solution - which I was unable to do. 

I worked it out for myself and used rinse aid. The glasses are now so clean you could …well…drink out of them. 

It is that time of year when Cate digs through obscure recipe books and finds things that perhaps were never cooked - at least since the 1900’s. My task today was to find pomegranate molasses and golden caster sugar. 

Give me a break.

In years past I would have prowled around Whole Foods and Trader Joes and Fresh Thyme searching vainly for this stuff but I am older and wiser. Amazon. They will be here on Thursday. 

It has been an exciting week so far. 

Georgia ate a corn cob. This is not the first time she has done that but this time it got stuck and she became quite unwell. So it was vet time for $700 and they referred us to another vet who charged another $1,000 but the is OK now and that is all that matters.

Then the furnace had a problem and that cost $1,700.

Then today the downstairs toilet started leaking and that was $400 because of course it had to be dismantled and reassembled. ‘Oh there is a problem here!’ 

Of course there is - this house is older then Methuselah. Just get on with it. 

The plumber said that he had been here before. I said I am sure he had because we have seven toilets and at any given stage one of them is going to have a problem. 

Our Christmas tree was delivered and has been appropriately festooned with lights. It actually looks quite nice. 

As an atheist I actually have no problem with Christmas. It is a tradition - adapted from pagan rituals thousand of years old. But I am happy to participate because I like the tradition. I always say ‘Merry Christmas’. I am not into this happy holidays rubbish.

It’s Christmas for Christ’s sake. 

Cate wanted me to put lights on the trees in the back garden - so I did. She said why do the lights go only half way up the tree and I said that they go as far as I can reach without being on a ladder and as you wont allow me to get on ladders that is the best I can do. 

She is considering rectifying this situation but it is too damn cold. 

I continue to watch the antics of the president-elect with great interest - and glee. I am laying in supplies of popcorn and coca cola because the next few years are going to be really special. So many episodes - and I bet there will be a surprise ending.

Because we are Australians we are really lucky that there is nothing that the orange-utan can do that will affect us. Except of course for a nuclear war. I admit that could be a problem. 

Although Indianapolis is probably a fair way down the list of targets by Russia and the many other countries that want to exterminate America. 

Ah George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. The gifts that will go on giving for the next 100 years.

Monday, December 12, 2016

I blame Obama

Its not my fault that I don't blog nearly enough. I have a punishing schedule and - while I have four assistants - they are all useless. The cats sleep all day and the dogs seem to spend the entire day rolling around and biting each others ears. 

It has taken us a while but Cate and I realized on the weekend that we are involved in an elaborate reality TV show where reality is a matter of perception. We realized that what we are witnessing here cannot be real. No president-elect would be behave like this unless he was pulling our chain. In fact - no sane person could act like the president-elect is acting now. 

So we are much more relaxed now and cannot wait for season 2. Although the shark was jumped on many occasions in season 1 - so we will be interested to see what happens.  

I have found that having two dogs is not like have one dog twice. It is much more difficult and as Indiana is a puppy she is a lot more trouble than Georgia. And it is now very cold so I cannot shove them out the back door and let them run wild. I can only leave them for a short while and then bring them back inside. Most of the time they are in the house they spend chasing each other and biting each others ears, crashing into furniture and creating mayhem. 

Of course to go outside they both have coats which I can put on them. These are expensive weatherproof coats which will theoretically keep them nice and warm. Putting them on requires hand to paw combat. When they get them on and go outside they become fixated on tearing them off each other and playing tug-o-war with what are becoming the tattered remains. They may be weatherproof but they are not dog proof. 

Grizelda came and gave us and the dogs our first lesson. Neither we nor the dogs were any good at all at what we were supposed to do. Indiana is absolutely hopeless and cannot master even the basic things that a dog should be able to do. She is extraordinarily stubborn and is really only good at one thing at that is tearing Georgia’s collar off.

John and Mike and Antonio have finished the work on the house and we have high hopes that it will make it through winter before disintegrating completely. They have put a door on Cate’s study to turn in into a bedroom with an ensuite. So we now have five bedrooms with ensuites and seven bathrooms. Yes I know it seems a bit excessive but we really liked the house.

Cate needed a door on her study because Georgia barks frantically every time the doorbell rings - or the proximity whizzer on the door bell indicates someone or something has approached the door. 

This proximity whizzer is affected by large trucks or buses passing the house - so there is a lot of lunacy in dog land many times each day. And no I cannot change the sensitivity of the motion detector because it is already on its lowest level.

Yes I can tear it off the wall and throw it away. This may happen soon. 

Cate also had John install some mantelpieces above our fireplaces. This is a lot harder than it sounds as first we had to find some reclaimed lumber that was just what we needed - and then take out a bank loan to buy it. We have found that old timber planks from ancient barns are more expensive than gold. 

Then much drilling and messing about was required by Mike and John. 

So now Cate has lots of space for the Christmas decorations which include owls, hedgehogs and polar bears we bought in Vienna.

Today I suddenly realized that Gwenyth and PK arrive next week so I have embarked on a major linen washing and cleaning campaign. Tomorrow I will get stuck into the general cleaning. The toaster will wait until the day before they arrive. 

And then I have to start worrying about Christmas dinner. This is theoretically not my department as I usually have Christmas day off. But I am responsible for the planning and the shopping.

There will also be the last minute shopping when Cate decides to cook minced larks tongues with bat paw foam and shredded musk rat embryos - garnished with a frisson of lightly toasted goat droppings. None of these things will be available in Indiana so I will have to scour the countryside for the ingredients.

So at Christmas we are going to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. We always go somewhere cold at Christmas - except last year when we went to Mexico. Too damn hot for our liking.

We expect to be very cold so I have resurrected my considerable amount of winter gear and am organizing this for the icy cold conditions which await us. I tried on my padded winter pants tonite and alas they have shrunk. This is an increasing phenomenon in this house.

I blame Obama. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

One of the finest

I am particularly bad at blogging at the moment as the dogs are keeping me fully occupied and are driving me crazy. I get very little time to myself. 

I am not really commenting on American politics. But I am watching in amazement as this grotesquery happens in front of me. I am pleased to say that things are going according to plan (as far as I am concerned). I am looking forward to a series of catastrophes which will probably culminate in the destruction of the planet via an environmental or a nuclear disaster of biblical proportions. 

It is with as sense of wonder that I watch as the President-elect tweets a never ending stream of lies and rubbish. 

Not that I believe anything that is in the bible - but you know what I mean. 

When I was in Vienna some people selling religion got into our building. It was supposed to be a secure building but there was a massage parlor called ‘Japan Studio’ on the first floor so there was more traffic through our building than there is in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. 

The girls incidentally were not Japanese - they were Chinese and were led by the redoubtable Ms Elizabeth to who I spoke quite often in a mixture of German and English.

Anyway the religious people made it to level 5 and knocked on our door and I foolishly opened it. They were very tenacious and talked about God quite a bit. Whenever I tried to baffle them with logic they told me what it said in the bible. 

I did not tell them what I thought of the bible but finally - stumped for a way to have them go away without being too rude - I said that if they had been born in Iran they would now be trying to convert me to Islam.

This finally silenced them and they looked at me sadly and moved on to greener pastures. Not that I think there were too many of these in Vienna. The Europeans are fairly practical when it comes to fantasy. 

But because of politics we no longer watch TV and confine our viewing to Netflix or Amazon video. There are limits to what we can endure. It is amazing how long you can spend browsing Netflix before you decide that there is nothing you want to watch. If there was a competition for this we would be certain medalists. 

So we went to Washington for Thanksgiving and communed with our relatives - Australian and Mongolian. I was not put in charge of anything so just mooched around and ate turkey and drank wine. It was quite a satisfying evening. 

We are going to Mongolia next July because Mason (what a fine Mongolian name) is having a a hair cutting ceremony after which we will all exclaim ‘Tom xun bolooroi!’ 

On Friday night we went to the theater and saw a very good play that had a very unhappy ending. The play is called ‘Straight White Men’ and if you are looking for a good time you should see something else. Also do not sit in the front row unless you wish to be covered with crisps. 

On Saturday we went to stay with some friends in Washington. These were people with whom I worked 30 years ago and they are living there temporarily in a quite wonderful apartment in Arlington. They took us to the Stone Tower vineyard in Virginia and we ate cheese and drank wine. 

The girls did a wine tasting and the sommelier asked them how they liked the wine. ‘Not bad’ they said in Australian - which means of course that it is pretty damn good. He was a bit horrified and said ‘I am so glad to hear that’. 

I had seen Wayne a year or so ago and he visited us in Indy and stayed for a couple of nights. We discussed old times and life in general until 5 AM and the next day neither of us could remember anything we said. 

So we were able to do it all again on this trip. We are simply preparing for Alzheimers. As Bill Bryson said ‘I am now too old for early onset Alzheimers - when it arrives it will be right on time.’

The damn tree is finally dropping the remainder of its leaves so tomorrow is mulching day. Some people are also coming to clean the gutters. I cannot do this because some of the gutters are three stories high and would involve the climbing of a very long ladder. 

Cate rightfully will not allow me to climb any ladder let along a high one as she seen me at my clumsiest - which is now becoming my norm - and I really cannot be trusted at any height all. 

If you have a dog and are thinking about getting another one - think very carefully and  contact me for advice. You may not change your mind but I will be able to give you some very valuable tips. 

Indy is smarter than Georgia. This - admittedly - is a not a great leap - but she is a puppy and has had no training at all. So she pretty well does as she pleases. This is not always the results for which we aspire and my constant companions are paper towels and mops.

In fact I have purchased a carpet shampooer - and use it a lot. 

But Grizelda the dog trainer comes on Sunday for the dog’s first lessons. She came a few weeks ago and observed the dogs and her view was that they are redeemable. She has the demeanor of a gulag guard but swears that she will not harm the dogs in any way and does not use methods which involve the use of blow torches for baseball bats.

Anyway we gave her a vast amount of money and she will appear on Sunday to get the dogs into shape.

Bits are falling off our house so John and Mike and Antonio have been back to effect repairs. While looking up at some guttering that was falling to bits John said that I had a real money pit on my hands.

I reminded him that it was he who sold us the house three years ago. He laughed. But he is a gay Democrat - one of the finest people on earth.