Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

'Share a Plate': A Free Man Style

Fantastic dinner last Sunday, over at A Free Man's place where we met two new Adelaide bloggers. OK, they are actually American bloggers IN Adelaide but, whatever.

I took some nice photos but in the interests of privacy I won't post them.

I have no compunction about posting pictures of Boy Z though. Firstly, his father posts enough that he is well known web wide, secondly, as his father also points out, he is a damn fine looking kid! He seems to be getting over his visceral fear of my very visage but his real crush is the Baby Angel. He was all over her! Laughing, squealing, chasing her and running away. They got settled under the stairs playing with this toy and I'm not sure the BA realised what a picture she presented to those of us walking upstairs! I took this shot from between the open steps.

(photo of the BA's builder's bum removed by request)

(heh heh heh)

She may kill me for that later.....or soooner!!!!

We ate well, as you always do at Chez Freeman/O'C. I didn't get a photo of Himself's gorgeous antipasto platter or AFM's delicious duck gumbo, but I recovered myself enough to take this one of the multi dessert offering.

That's a superb mixed berry cobbler from the good Dr (O'C), a sensational apple pie US style (although I argue it can't be a pie by definition if it doesn't have pastry cover...so then what is it?) and down the very end there...a home made pavlova by moi: banana, passionfruit and grated chocolate atop cream and a baked meringue. I would have added strawberries too but it was kind of a last minute decision to make it (cheesecake was going to take too long to set) and I didn't have any.

So a great night was had by all (I think...but then I didn't have to do the washing up). Amazing the experiences this bloggy world provides.

Great to meet you girls, and your delightful husbands. Too bad my anti social one was working. Again >:-(

Still he assures me this weekend will be work free.

Monday, 25 May 2009

The Benefits of Having A Teenager*: The Final, Edited Version

One of the benefits of having an teenager is the fact that they do Home Economics. One of the benefits of Home Economics is that there are assignments, particularly ones which say:

"Cook a three course meal for your family".

Oh boy oh boy oh boy!

But hang on.
This assignment was a 'big deal'.

She was already in the kitchen at 1.30pm weighing, measuring and preparing.

She was assisted by Morticia.

She was distracted by Morticia.

Here is the dinner table as we sat down for the first course.

The BA had prepared a Bruschetta for us, complete with roasted Roma tomatoes, a delicious mix of feta and ricotta cheese and a pesto drizzle.

But wait, there was more.......
These are lemon and garlic pork parcels. Unfortunately when she cooked and served them, straight from the pan with a lemon garlic sauce, we all ate them so fast I had no time to take a photo :-(.

The final course was apple crumble, for Himself, as he loves anything 'apple'.

I think he liked it. And what better way to finish than with your step brother washing the dishes for you! We were all great 'critics' however!

The Verdict:

Good flavour, well presented, we all felt it should have been warmed over before serving .

Pork Parcels served with Steamed Vegs:
Meat tender and parcels held together well. Veggies perfect. We all felt the grated lemon zest in the sauce however was a bit bitter. Perhaps the chunks were too big? Anyway, we think we'll leave the zest out next time.

Apple Crumble:
VERY good although the recipe called for the apples to be unpeeled and I didn't like the peel much.

I know, I know, everyone's a critic! And I couldn't do as well.

I think she had fun. I know we enjoyed it.

Now to see what mark she gets!

* I can't believe this has taken so long to get together. I don't expect everyone to read it all again but as this blog is mostly a line of communication for my family in the UK and a scrap book of memories for me in my old age when Alzheimer's takes hold, I felt I needed to finish it.

Great job BA. It's also a tribute to you.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

SOOC Saturday: Aliens Exist

For me, SOOC Saturday is the quest for the most imperfect shot which still bears some merit, even if only for snicker value. :-D

(Snapped during meal preparation a week ago.)

Others may think differently. Check it out over at Slurping Life.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Theme Thursday: Relaxation.

All you have to do on holiday in Kangaroo Island is 'relax'. This was taken in January this year when my sister and her children were here. We were on an outing to Emu Bay; when we arrived we doubled the number of people on the beach.

Are you in the mood for 'Relaxation'? Slide on over to 'Cheese Party' and check out Theme Thursday.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

I Said I Don't Want A Whale In A Box Or A Bag

Tonight I attended a music recital at the BA's school.

As it was her first public performance on drums after four years of piano she was understandably nervous but I personally was looking forward to the event. Was it because I was eager to see my beloved daughter displaying her skills? To see where my hard earned money is going re: drum lessons? No. It was because after four years of listening to 'Indian Dance', 'Jingle Bells' and 'Claire De Lune' (at least twice) being murdered on the piano by 9 year olds, I was eager for a change in fare!

The music department, ably run by a good friend of mine, holds a series of music nights through the year which group together similar instruments. For example, there is a keyboard night, a vocals night and tonight's offering: drum, guitar and bass. Being a happy clappy Christian school there tends to be a plethora of rock guitarists and drummers in the fold and there is often some real talent in the air. They're not too fussed about sticking to worship music either which means there's often a bit of quality rock n' roll and punk on offer ;-)

The BA herself is a novice but she has surprised me with her aptitude for drums given that she had all but no sense of rhythm as a tot. Tonight she was performing to a backing track by Tommy Igoe called 'Time and a Half' which I really liked when she played it for me at home. She was disparaging of her own skills however, condemning the track as 'boring' and her own playing as under par.

So we approached the evening with differing expectations and levels of anxiety.

I perused the programme with delight. For my listening pleasure there would be performances of: Pearl Jam, Led Zeppelin, Classical Gas, Cold Play, ACDC, Cream, Snow Patrol and 3 Doors Down. There was also a couple of numbers by Australian greats Tommy Emmanuel and Paul Kelly. What a treat! I nervously hoped the BA could hold her own in this rarified atmosphere.


Tonight I heard more perfectly good songs murdered by inept musicians and their irresponsible instrumental teachers than in any other previous music night! There were about 22 performers and by the 6th it was obvious that rhythm was not a pre-requisite for entry into the guitar program. Most of them were pretty happy when they hit the right chords and the temporal placement of these chords seemed of little importance to the majority of the 'would be' Eric Claptons.

Amongst the roadkill was a version of Cream's 'Sunshine of Your Love' played on bass guitar, solo, with no backing track, drums or vocals. A novel experience and one endured by many a bass player's mother through the years I am sure but why by a poor unsuspecting audience?

Also, note to guitar teachers: do not ever, ever, ever let your pre-teen student of 12 months attempt 'Stairway to Heaven' when it is evident that the poor creature has only had the music for a week, has never heard the original and has had limited time to practice. Really. Woeful.

Alright, so I am being harsh. But really! If they are going to perform, choose something appropriate for them. Don't give the kid with arrhythmia and 6 months experience 'Classical Gas' to tangle his fingers around. The same thing could be said of Kryptonite by 3 doors down and something called 'Face Down' by 'The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus' which was the victim of a serial killer, being trashed more than once!

On the upside, I discovered a new piece of music which I liked so much that I downloaded it upon getting home. One of the BA's contemporaries executed a very nice version of Pearl Jam's 'Yellow Ledbetter' which had me bobbing up and down in my seat. I have since discovered that it is the source of some controversy, being one of those songs where you cannot discern a single lyric.

Now for those of us over 45 this is not an unusual situation. Heck, most of the songs writtten in the late 60s and early 70s featured artists so far off their faces that their noses had to ask for directions to their ears. We grew up expecting that lyrics would be indecipherable. People like Peter Frampton even put synthesisers over their voices to ensure that they were incomprehensible! Apparently however, our modern youth are more demanding (now there's a surprise).

Wikipedia lists this as one of the quintessential indecipherable lyrics songs of all time. This has resulted in some quite amusing You Tube banter. One rapier wit posts a 'Misheard Lyrics' video and some poor dour Pearl Jam fan responds with:

Have you ever thought you might be the stupid one for thinking that you have to understand the lyrics instead of feeling the emotions the song creates? I can't speak or understand spanish music but I can apreciate it all the same.

Dear, dear some people take themselves far too seriously! :-)

On a site which features the actual song, a critic quips

i think he is singing after a root canal

you asshole. people like it because it has a good melody and people who like pearl jam can understand him because their not ignorant people like yourself who think they can be all smartass. besides his singing isn't as irliterate as most of today's rappers.
How can people like this song..it is well know only because you can't understand one freaking word of it. Did he sing it with novacain in his mouth

Am I the only person who finds 'irliterate' hilarious?

But what about the BA I hear you ask? Well. She was amazing. She was by far one of the most accomplished performers there and she acquitted herself extremely well. I was in equal measures proud,terrified and amazed for and by her. She came through with flying colours!

Well done BA! Only wish I had taken my camera.

image credit: meg white
image credit: cream

With Or Without


Or without?

As it turned out I had to go 'without' for three days because after a little snooze on the long taxi drive home after the Ball, my glasses slipped off my lap and were lost on the floor of the taxi. Unfortunately, feeling around in the back of a dark taxi with no glasses on is not conducive to finding said item. Fortunately the taxi driver was kind enough to give me his number and I was finally able to pick up my glasses from the local police station today. It has been an uncomfortable few days.

So the vanity which caused me to remove my glasses for this shot was my downfall. And in the end I think I like the 'with' picture better anyway!!!!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Brief Interlude

It is just not right. I should not have to be ordering flowers for my friend's funeral. I should not have to be thinking of what to say on the card. To whom? To her? To them?

It is just not right.

I know I should be thinking of her family and their pain. I know that I should be grateful that she isn't suffering anymore. I know I should be feeling bad for the fact that she doesn't get to see her grandchildren grow up.

But right now, I just feel robbed.

It is not right.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Oakbank 2009: The Virgin Trip or: I Forgot To Blog About This Back In April

I had lived in Adelaide for 20 years before I left for the east coast and, eventually, the UK. I have been back for 6 years and in all this time I had totally failed to attend the 'Greatest Picnic Races in the World': Oakbank.

Each year I would suggest to Himself that we attend.

"We can take the kids," I would suggest,"it'll be a nice day out."

His vaguely negative answers over the years included: possibility of inclement weather, lack of funds, other commitments until finally this year he came clean and admitted he hates the crowds and the traffic. It became obvious to me that if I wanted to pursue the dream of a day out at Oakbank I would be going on my own. Fortunately, as you may be aware, I have been grooming the Baby Angel in the fine art of gambling and attending Race Carnivals. Quickly gathering up yet another of her delightful friends, we headed, quite literally, for the Hills: The Adelaide Hills, and the picturesque town of Oakbank.

I am sorry I didn't get any shots of the drive but that would be because I was..er...driving. April is autumn in Adelaide and The Hills are dressed in rusts, yellows and reds as the deciduous trees planted by our European forbears move into their most glorious phase. We passed freely along the Eastern freeway and turned off, unimpaired, to Hahndorf and Woodside. We continued to sail merrily along the beautiful country roads with no hint of the mythical traffic of which Himself had spoken with such deep foreboding. The BA's friend, Blondie, pointed out notable sites along the way as it turned out her pioneering family had a bit of history in these parts. There was even an 'ancestoral home' which again, I failed to snap as I was, still, driving.

Finally, we took the turn off for Oakbank Race Track and here we met our first obstacle (that's my little white Corolla in the middle there)...Apparently the entry to the car park crosses the racetrack and Race 4 was about to start. Of course there had been no traffic on the way, we were three hours late as usual. Mind you, so were all those cars around us! Never mind, a 15 minute delay gave me time to snap some shots and the girls time to watch the horses as they flew past the gate.I know Mum, don't say a word about her hair. She is currently growing it out.

Picnic races mean elegance and inebriation in equal quantities. Well, maybe slightly more of the latter, especially as the day wears on.

We were finally admitted to the grounds and followed the queue of latecomers into the centre of the track which had been converted into a funfair and carpark. There was a little bit too much of the 'squealing princess in hat, heels and champagne stupor' from this vantage point and so after a quick perusal and purchase from the variety of food stalls, we made our way across the track to the grandstand. This time, my apprentices took to the art of 'form perusal' with frightening ease, especially considering it was Blondie's first time. Here we are even comparing the form given in two separate sources! My first pick (as soon as we got there with no form guide) was a dud but my second was a second and the two novice punters were well pleased when 'Akatack' came home at decent odds rewarding them with a massive $9.00 or so each from an eachway bet! I scored a third on the last race and the shadows were growing long on the warm afternoon. It was time to face the crowds for the long drive home.I love this shot, especially the barefoot girls in their finery on the left. The Races can be a long, busy and liquid day; very hard on the elegance factor!

Despite Himself's worst portent of traffic mayhem, we queued for a paltry 15min to leave the grounds and then it was smooth sailing all the way home. *pthhhhhtttt* (blows raspberry) to you Himself. This is where we found him on our return! You know, once you wee on a cat she is yours for ever.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

SOOC Saturday: The Kiss

Congratulations to my Bestie and her Beloved as they celebrated their engagement last Saturday. They would stand there with all that light behind them wouldn't they?

Things I would do with this photo if I processed it? Well, firstly crop out the corner of the water feature and Uncle B's elbow and as much of that hideous brick wall as I could, then I would hit 'auto adjust'!!! Really, I have no clue about these things. Layers, gamma levels, opacity, dodging and burning; the very terms make me hyperventilate. I know I should just ask Himself but like any professional he is less than tolerant if you don't pick something up quickly and he also assumes a lot of prior knowledge that I suspect I lack!

Ah to have the skills of Melody and her ilk. Still, pop over to Slurping Life for SOOC Saturday and see what their photos look like 'before' as well.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Theme Thursday: Gifts

What price a gift?

The icing of a wedding cake by a dear friend and mentor.

A housewarming gift made by her own hands.

A 'bunny rug', also handmade, which still rests, neatly folded now, by the pillow of that not so little girl.

Yesterday we lost a dear friend. Far too soon as is always the way. We'd been praying for miracles but finally the only blessing was that the very end was brief and hopefully peaceful.

I once got to give her a gift.

We were living in the Australian Alps, the Snowy Mountains, back in 1992 when the BA's dad proposed. Away from family we began planning our wedding; themes, colours, flowers.....the whole catastrophe*. She had already adopted us, put up with our histrionics and gathered us into the bosom her her close knit family. With her myriad creative gifts she was called upon as a style consultant and of course, quickly offered her services when we needed a personal touch.

Her first contribution was handpainting the invitations. She followed this by handpainting the orders of service and creating the cake.

And she loved ducks.

She had ducks, real ones, and she had longed for a cast iron weathervane in the shape of a mother duck and her ducklings which she had seen in a magazine. It was made in England.
I made a call to Mum.

My lovely mother carried that cast iron weathervane in the bottom of her suitcase all the way from the UK so we could present it to our beloved friend at our wedding. There may have been issues with excess weight :-) but she carried it. On many occasions after that I would feel a twinge of delight as I saw the dark silouhettes of the mallard family shivering in the Alpine wind.

And now she's gone. I'll never hear her calm voice on the end of the phone again; her delighted laugh at my erratic intensity or her gentle wisdom. There'll be no more quilts now.

But what a gift she gave us while she was here.

To see what other Gifts there are to share: check out Theme Thursday at Cheese Party.

13/5/09: Farewell Lovely Friend

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Mother's day: Farewell 09

*No sofas were vaulted in the taking of this picture.

I must say if I were going to choose a way to spend Mother's Day it would not be seeing my mother (and father) off at the airport*. They are heading back to the UK for the summer and will not be back until after Christmas. *sigh*
Still, the BA and I spent the day at Ikea doing retail therapy which was a very nice Mother's Day thing indeed. Here's one of our frivolous comfort purchases.

Hallelujah! A Classroom Miracle

I had a good lesson with Year 10.

This is itself is a miracle but add into the mix the fact that it was a Monday AFTERNOON lesson and the ridiculously unlikely nature of the event becomes more apparent.

Further add the fact that the topic was Trigonometry and that one week ago I knew next to nothing about the subject and it becomes obvious that there has been Divine Intervention.

Oh, and I made them follow a seating plan.

Actually, maybe that was the key?

Many of you who know me in real life will recall that of all my academic strengths, Maths was actually the most problematic. Well, maybe it was Physics...although it was Chemistry that I bombed out in at the exams....


That fact is that I was a 'problem maths student' all the way through school and only focused on the sciences at matric at the suggestion/insistence of my father. I drove my maths teacher mad. I asked questions ALL the time. "What do you mean imaginary numbers?"I exclaimed," we don't have enough numbers already but you go and have to make some more up?????"
She called me 'PigPen' because she said I spread my mess all around me. When I didn't understand, I doodled. Eyes mostly. With long lashes. I still have the folders with the evidence.
Every time I look at those folders and think..."they've got to go"......I look inside at the pages and pages of equations which, in 2009, mean absolutely. nothing. to. me. and I can't bear to throw them out. I mean, I used to know that stuff! Look at that clever stuff I did!!!!

That was 30 years ago. This year, teaching mainstream Y10 maths for the first time, I knew Trig was coming up and only vaguely remembered the words sin, cos and tan. "But it will come back to me," I thought, "after all, algebra did." Last Sunday night however, I experienced severe panic as I read through the next chapter of the text book and realised that I had no clue on earth what the authors were talking about. Himself thought it was hilarious.

But never fear, oh ye of little faith! I did do this stuff once and I'm sure all I need do is ask my Maths teacher guru boss when I get in to school. Just give me a brief history of Trig please mate......

Are you beginning to see why Monday afternoon was such a miracle?

So why, I hear you ask, is such an incompetent being allowed to teach maths to our preshus chiddlers?????? Well that's easy. No one else wants to take the bottom classes.

However I am happy to report that it is all coming back to me, thankfully at a slightly faster rate than it is coming to my class. We must be doing ok because Monday afternoon was a remarkable work-fest with minimal incidence of arguing, ipod fiddling or 'what do we need this for'ness. I do have to admit though, that two of my main protagonists were away :-(

Wish me luck for tomorrow. With a bit of luck they'll all bring a scientific calculator.
*cynical grimace*

image credit

Friday, 8 May 2009

Happy Birthday BA: Fourteen

May the 8th marks the anniversary of VE Day, the sale of the first glass of Coca Cola and the birth of the Baby Angel.

There has been much build up to this year's event as, at 14, kids are legally allowed to find part time jobs and, in this family, have their ears pierced :-(. I made that rash promise years ago when she first asked and, at the time, 14 seemed like a lifetime away.

But here we are. Fourteen at last. Her big present was much anticipated indeed; on Thursday night we went to see the big arena production of 'Phantom of the Opera'!!!!

The BA's journey with the Phantom started many years ago. I once bought her a little music box which played 'Music of the Night'; I think she was 7. Later, the Bestie introduced her to the film version and eventually, last year, her dad took her to the theatrical production in Sydney. She was smitten.

When Prof J asked us late last year if we would like to make up a group to see the Opening Night performance here in Adelaide, we couldn't say yes fast enough. I must admit I was slightly less excited than the BA. I had seen it once before in the UK and was a little underwhelmed after all the hype but I was willing to have a second look.

Well! What a phenomenal performance! We saw Anthony Warlow and Ana Marina (pictured) in a spectacular which made the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. From the moment the chandelier lit up amongst showering Roman Candles and was lifted upwards towards the ceiling accompanied by the thundering chords of the 'Phantom' theme, I was hooked. Warlow's voice was sublime and his performance tormented. The staging was breathtaking and complemented by the massive dual screens on either side of the stage, enabling you to see the faces of the performers, close-up.

The BA was simultaneously captivated, moved and overwhelmed . She wept at the finale and left the theatre aglow, agog and outrageously happy. And then it hit me like a lightbulb going on over my head. Her cake this year would have a 'Phantom' theme.

This had been giving me trouble for a few weeks now. Each year I do a cake for her birthday (and latterly for the Small Boy's) and it is part of the birthday ritual to choose the cake and for me to interpret it somehow. Last year was a star from the sidewalk at Grauman's Chinese restaurant, Hollywood; previously she has had an ipod cake, an X-Men cake, a Treasure Island cake, a Scooby Doo cake and a Monster's Inc cake. After initially finding instructions in cake books, nowadays I mostly make them up. I usually find a picture and try and to carve the cake into approximately the shape required, then use roll-out icing to create the features and details. Generally I am fairly pleased with the result.

This year was different. After struggling for a theme (the BA was less than helpful) the Phantom came to me on the night before her birthday! As you can imagine it did not leave me much time!

Now, had I had sufficient time and the brilliant idea about a week earlier, I could have produced something like


or this

for her birthday cake.

Instead, she had to make do with this. It didn't quite go as I'd planned and of course I'd left it all too late to try again or do anything else. Oh well, she was a good sport and told me it was great and dutifully blew out her candles. Well, she actually only pretended to blow them out as she had a shocking cough and didn't want to breathe her germs all over the cake!

Fourteen marks the beginning of a seven year cycle for the Baby Angel. At seven she was wrested from her comfortable existence in the UK and whisked halfway around the world to a new life in Australia.

I wonder what the next seven years have in store for us?

Whatever. I'm up for it.

Theme Thursday: Love

December 2007

Got an image of 'Love' to share? Click over to Cheese Party and check out the 'cheese' :-)