Monday, January 26, 2009

Pepysian weekend

I've been reading Samuel Pepys diary which is fascinating look into life in London in 1660
Hence today I am blogging in the style of Pepys...

This morning the heat did cause us to sit idly, fanning ourselves cool. Ms Scott did accompany us in the garden where we supped and dined and had much discourse about musicians new and old and compared mp3 players. We had several visitations from the two Dylans, who are young sons of neighbours. Their heads a-popping above the wooden rail did cause us distraction and annoyance such that we wielded the garden hose on the said boys to dampen their spirits and improve our humour.

After lunch Ms Scott did take leave of us to go by water to Waiheke to meet Lady Lisa. I did henceforth go with Mr K by road into town to amble by the waterfront. There we found many townsfolk and visitors amassed to see the celebrations. On the dockside we did witness a racing yacht taken from the water with a hoist on a large frame. A sight to behold indeed. After a while, with legs weary, we dined at an alehouse called ‘Soul’ upon fine game and puy lentils and a veritable Shiraz from the commonwealth, and were very merry with it.

A surprise visit from Kim, to whom we administered caffeine until her son cried out for her to depart for their fishing trip forthwith. Then we set forth after breakfast, which was relaxed fare, to the northern shopping area at Albany in search of some well crafted footwear to help relieve Mr K’s Achilles tendon that troubles him so. Perchance, we did come upon some suitable attire, for himself, and I also took the opportunity to purchase new sandals.
The afternoon we did both relax and read a lot. At sunset we did dine upon roast chicken and vegetables served with couscous dressed with dates, nuts and pungent herbs. The meal superbly accompanied by a Gamekeepers Reserve Shiraz Grenache by St Hallet’s. At night, still warm, and music did emanate from our windows.

Monday (Auckland Anniversary Day)
Up but not early, as the stomach did require some remedy to appease the pain. After a light breakfast of fruit ‘smoothie’ (concocted in a fangled contraption called a blender) the pair of us did brave the heat and went by road, to the coast at Devonport to walk the North Head. Again many persons about, and much swimming and jollity was being had on this public holiday. The weather is again fine and fair. At home, we did lunch on some tasty kippers from Scotland (the barrel of oysters being waylaid) after which we administered the worm tablets to the little cats, along with the monthly flea remedy as advised by their physician.

Then Mr K felt a need to do some manly tasks, and did wash down both our carriages. I admit they did indeed look in need of a clean due to the layer of city grime. I was not troubled by need to be active and reclined with a book and sent some friendly messages by SMS (the pigeon being waylaid with the oysters).

In the evening we shall venture again into town, by road to a show at the cinema where we will see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with Ms Scott who has returned from Waiheke Island by ferry service this afternoon.

Thus ends this long weekend, my family and I in good health. God bless.
(Normal service will be resumed).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Young Man, Old Man

Back from Brisbane. Slightly sunburnt and in a daze at work on Friday due to the time lag.

Weds morning we spent a few hours going up and down the river on the City Cat ferry system.

The concert was 16km outside Brisbane at a place called Boondall so we took the train there. Public transport in Brisbane is efficient and cheap. The support act, My Morning Jacket were pretty good.

Neil put on a great show. There was a technical hitch with the mic on a banjo during 'Old Man' which somebody captured in the clip below. As a result Neil banters with the crowd and the song doesn't start until 1:51 The 2nd clip is a 'young' Young performing 'Old Man' in 1971. The 'old' Young still has the voice and the guitar licks.

One of the highlights was the hymn-like song Neil performed at a church organ. I think this was new material written to mark Obama's inauguration. The change of President means that he didn't play recent political material like 'Lets Impeach The President' but mostly old classics like Cortez the Killer, Cowgirl in the Sand, Old Man, Cinnamon Girl, Hey Hey, My My, Powderfinger.

It was a two hour set with a few extended jam sessions. The finale was a crowd pleasing, stomping 'Rockin In the Free World' and the encore was a slightly surreal version of the Beatles 'A Day in The Life'.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How NOT to eat a pomegranate

A hectic day at work yesterday left me feeling exhausted and with a headache to boot. Supper consisted of making a quick pasta out of some leftover steak and german sausage from Sundays barbecue with Jaz, Mark, Paul and Kylie.

I've half packed a small bag for Brisbane. Theres 2 hours before we head to the airport so am keeping my options open as to what clothes to take. I am bound to change the contents a few times before it gets zipped.

We bought a pomegranate, not because we wanted one or like them but we just saw them and they looked nice and red and shiny. We lost the first one. Who knows where, it maybe rolling around in the car but we cannot find it. Slightly peeved at this sad loss we bought another one which sat in the fruit bowl for over a week. We gave it occasional surreptitious glances, not quite sure if it was the right time or if we could handle the excitement.

This morning I took the plunge. I sliced it in half and popped a piece on both our plates of poached eggs on toast as a nice colourful garnish. It was a huge one, it took up half the plate. After a few minutes of picking out the tangy red seeds, John gave up and ate his eggs. I decided to take the easy route, I ate my eggs first.

Here is my guide to eating pomegranate:

1. Pick out a few pulpy seeds with a spoon, suck them, spit out the inner pips
2. Realise its going to take all day to do it this way
3. Squeeze the bugger so it makes the sound of bubble wrap being popped
4. Hold it above your head and let the juice ruin into your mouth and/or
5. Slurp the juice out of the skin while squeezing it some more
6. Repeat steps 3 to 5 until there's no juice left to drink, and no more popping sounds can be heard
7. Dispose of dead pomegranate skin
8. Use a sponge to clean the purple-red stains off the wall, bench tops and passing cats

Better fix that packing now.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Guess the onion bhaji

Neil Young is god according to both reviews I've read about Neil's performance at the BDO yesterday. I am looking forward to seeing him in Brisbane on Wednesday. And the support act My Morning Jacket.

With Tamsin staying we've been having a 'more vegetarian than usual' diet. Thursday we went to local curry house Sagar with Mo. Good peshwari naan there. We invented a game based around a plate of delicately random shaped onion bhaji. It was very funny but you had to be there. One diner found a 'lion on a rocky outcrop', and it looked like one too!

I managed a visit to the gym yesterday and a swim at Little Shoal Bay which is a short stroll from the house. Also quite a bit of lounging in the sun which I enjoyed immensely after a busy few days at work.

Today we went to look at boats. I learned what a dry stack is for. Saw one that would be good for Greece but the broker scared us with tales of $50,000 to ship it as far as Australia. If that's likely then we'll be buying one locally in the Med.

Am thinking to plan a trip to White Island, maybe at Easter. It's a live volcano near Whakatane. They issue you with a gas mask before you disembark the boat.

The kittens are on their 3rd set of collars.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Photos for the Micky fan club

Basil feels unappreciated, just to let you know! Where are the Basil supporters?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Elk grunts

Last night we watched the DVD Brokeback Mountain which we'd missed til now. Somehow we managed to have the 'Subtitles for the deaf' turned on and couldn't be bothered to turn them off. It was the first time I've watched a movie like this and it was quite surreal. The film was sad but I laughed as captions appeared whenever sounds were off-camera. My favourite was "Elk Grunts". When the action got steamy it came up "Both grunt".

The intermittent rain is keeping the kittens indoors, so we've had lots of cuddles in between them attacking each other and various toys.

I completed the work on the pharmacy survey database that has kept me busy during my days off for the last few weeks. Doing the documentation gave me a headache so the rest of the day is going to be lazy. Reading books and drinking tea until the monkey arrives.

Me and Basil
Micky dances with a ping pong ball while Basil prepares for a tackle.
Me holding Micky with a picture of BotBot looking on.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bob on holiday in NZ?

There are rumours circulating (here) that his Bobness is enjoying the summer breeze in the Marlborough Sounds area of NZ.

Maybe he came to see the shark being dissected? Or to mingle with the sweaty crowds watching Neil at the Big Day Out on Friday?

Shark, Buffalo, Monkey

There was a huge turnout at the Auckland Museum yesterday for a public outdoor autopsy on a great white shark. It was an extremely hot day and I could think of better things to do than sit in the heat watching a scientist slice open and examine the poor creatures stomach contents. The full gory details are here.

As for my stomach contents, a trip to Sabato to forage for creamy fresh buffalo mozzarella and a ciabatta did the trick. Don't feel like hot meals this weather.

The kittens have been getting new daily names to complement their formal names. The daily names reflect their activities and personalities that come to the fore on the day. The latest have been Reckitt & Coleman, Barnes & Noble, and today's: Bonkers & Raving.

Time today to tidy the guest quarters upstairs. Tamsin (aka Blue Galactic Monkey) is staying with us for a while until her tenant moves out. John has only one condition - that we don't gang up on him and make him play board games every night. Ha, we shall see :-)

Definitely not Settlers of Catan though, he really hates that. We might get away with a few rounds of Ticket to Ride or Articulate.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Polar opposites

The hottest day of the summer so far. On the news it said Christchurch reached 40C. It got pretty hot here too. The kittens and the humans were flaked out indoors avoiding the heat of the day.

Here's one for those suffering below zero temperatures in Europe...

'Love Minus Zero/No Limit'
An early Bob classic brought to life with modern and ancient images.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Car fixed, plants broken

Monday saw a return of the working week, or in my case the working 3/5 of a week. It's very quiet at work though with many people still having summer holidays.

My normal day-off roving activities and gym going were curtailed yesterday, as my car was in the garage all day for its WOF and service. $600 later I am legal, serviced and taxed for another year

Three of our house plants decided to give up the ghost at the same time. They have been severely pruned and sent to the nursery (outside on the deck). It is a mystery as they are all long standing healthy plants and one is a particularly hardy and once flourishing begonia.
Possible causes seem to be ...
A) the recent heat and high humidity
B) the 'Feliway' feline pheromone vapourisers we are using to calm Noodle
C) possibly they've been wee'd on by the kittens.
D) or all of the above

Let me know if you are aware of any plant sensitivity to these ingredients.

Oh well, at least not Everything is Broken..

Sunday, January 4, 2009

King fish, Pepys and canasta in the sun

Last nights supper was fresh King fish. Shayne from next door had pootled into the Auckland harbour and pulled a big un from the water. It went down very well pan fried with herbs and served with a creamy horseradish potato mash and steamed asparagus.Val phoned and had a chat after dinner. She recommended me a book that I'm now bidding for on TradeMe. As she said, she 'doesn't read' so it must be quite a book that to trigger her to recommend it :-)

Feeling disinclined to anything strenuous on the last day of the break, we had a lazy morning. Eggs bene vegetarian style in Devonport followed by a stroll in the sun browsing in shops. We noticed that the old 'Jacksons' Museum' has gone and in it's place is a flash new arcade of shops including a 'UK Grocer'. We stocked up on shortbread, Tunnocks wafers but passed on the Walkers crisps. I picked up a couple in a second hand book shop on the wharf. Samuel Pepys' diary (vol 1). It was recommended to me years ago by Alan McC. The second was Peter Carey's 'My Life as a Fake'.

An impromptu canasta session followed, with Kim & Shayne. We sat on the deck while the sun rotated through the trees and kept us quite hot. A few cold beers and wine helped cool us. The game ended as a tie.

Devonport ferry about to leave the wharf.
Basil (caught mid-lick) and Micky having a towel-sit in the bathroom.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Humidity 80, flushing repaired

After a beautiful hot day for our barbecue yesterday, today was rainy, hot and sticky and gave me a headache until the sun went down. The reading on our dehumidifier was already up to 80 when we woke. Even sitting indoors with the fan on was too hot and sticky. John repaired the guest toilet that was refusing to flush away any non-liquid matter. We have guests coming soon so this was a critical job.

Micky surprised us by climbing up a ponga fern tree that grows through the deck. We were sitting eating breakfast outside when he popped up through the hole like a firemans pole in reverse.

I've been experimenting with the new Genius feature on iTunes. You select a track you like and click the Genius symbol to create a playlist of tracks that are similar. I don't know what the algorithm is but it comes up with some interesting results including obscure corners of my music collection that I have never listened to or had forgotten I had.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Whoever you are, wherever you are, here's hoping 2009 will be a better year all round.

The last few days of 2008 slipped away quickly, due to days spent decorating the rental. New Years Eve crept up on us and we ended up staying in watching telly, feeling exhausted. We did go out in the early evening to see the new Woody Allen film 'Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona' which was very good.

The New Year has arrived today with an ocean of deep blue skies and the rattle of cicadas in the sunshine. This is very welcome as this afternoon we are holding a barbecue for family & friends.

Some of you are yet to celebrate the change of year. Have a Safe and Happy New year one and all.