Sunday, January 15, 2017

Getting Better Penguin

A couple of years ago, Cally had to go to the hospital or to the doctor for a number of reasons.  She had to have tests. She had fallen off the trampoline. She had chicken pox. A number of times she had to go. And each time she took her penguin with her.  And everything always worked out OK because the penguin was looking after her.

When Stella had to go into hospital shortly after all this, Cally thought that it was reckless to the point of incomprehension that Stella would even contemplate going into hospital for an operation without taking her Getting Better Penguin with her.  She was aghast to discover that Stella didn't have a penguin so couldn't take it with her. Her mother and I were despatched, post haste, to acquire a penguin and send it over so Stella would have a penguin to look after her. (We sent one for Tony as well)

The penguin arrived, was taken to the next hospital visit and all was well.

The penguin doesn't always accompany Stella when she goes to hospital, but it usually turns up at some point during her stay.

You may remember that Stella went back into hospital last week to get her legs sorted out.  She had unpleasant oedema and her legs hurt and they were getting infected.  All seemed to be going ok.  Tony went into hospital on Friday for an overnight stay to have a Watchman inserted (no, I didn't know either; look it up!)  Wendy took him in.  Jim and I headed down to their place so we would be there to let the cleaner in and to help out.  Tony was due back on Saturday morning. Stella hoped to come back on Saturday morning too.  Wendy, Jim and I all stayed over for the night

Alas, although Tony came home as planned, Stella's legs had flared up a little bit so she had to stay where she was.  I was pottering about at their place on Saturday morning when my eyes caught sight of the Getting Better Penguin in a basket with other soft, cuddly toys!!! No wonder Stella hadn't got any better.  When Jim and I called in to visit her on our way home in the afternoon we took the penguin with us. We took Farley too:

Photo taken by Wendy

By Penguin Power and Farley hugs, Stella was better enough this morning unexpectedly to Go Home.

We should all listen to Cally and her perspicacity.  You need a Penguin if you are going to get better!  If you don't have one, you had better head to the shops urgently :-D

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Stella went back into hospital last week, to have her legs sorted out.  You may remember that a few weeks before Christmas she had a hip replacement done.  That seems to be settling in quite well.  However, she has had quite bad swelling in her legs and went back into hospital to get that fixed. So far the treatment seems to be working quite well.

Lindsey, Jim and I went down on Sunday to visit her.  We got there at about lunchtime. Tony also arrived while we were there.  Somehow, we were diverted from our intention of visiting Stella and ended up in a nearby pub!

It was a pub very much like the Dava in Mount Martha (except that was Beretta's in Langwarrin near Frankston) and the food wasn't bad at all.  I enjoyed my chicken parma.  Jim and Tony enjoyed their barramundi and chips. Lindsey enjoyed her fishy tacos.

We did go back and visit Stella again after lunch. We didn't take pub food back for her - she had already had barramundi (but no chips).  We took  her a lovely fruit salad though, with mango, nectarines, apricots and blueberries :-)  (As an aside, I must say that the food in the Peninsula Private hospital looks much more appetising than the food did in the Beleura hospital where she had her hip operation done. She reports that the food in Beleura tasted ok - it just didn't look very enticing and you need food to look enticing when you are giving it to poorly people with little appetite!!!)

It was quite a foody weekend, all told.  Which was all very delicious but didn't absolutely help the 2017 ambition of losing 10kg!  Ian made us an amazing Indian banquet on Saturday night.  Tandoori chicken, tandoori lamb cutlets, many equally amazing side dishes

Tandoori chicken.
Lindsey took this photo - I was too busy sampling the pea and  asparagus risotto!

He also made us a chicken stir fry on Sunday night. No photos of that. We were all too busy scoffing to stop and take photos.  (That's scoffing as in stuffing our faces, not as in making fun of it!)

And so we sailed on into the week.  Lindsey was working yesterday (this is unusual; she doesn't normally work on Mondays), so I went too.  Jim and Ian finished putting together the timed watering system to keep the veg tubs and beds going when  we are not there and came down later in the morning. Simon, Jacob, Noodle and Christian came for dinner, along with a friend of Lindsey's and Ian's.  Normal service is once again restored.  For now :-D

Friday, January 06, 2017

Continuing as we mean to go on

I emptied the scanning box at work twice on Wednesday. I had it empty at lunchtime and was just about to embark on another job that had come my way - when two of the doctors brought another third of a box of scanning in.  I abandoned the extra task and emptied the scanning box again. I expect it will be well and truly full by the time I go in next week.  There might even be enough to keep me gainfully employed for three days instead of two!

Yesterday we met Emily at her beautiful new house, which she is sharing with several other people and which is a very short walk from her new job which she is starting next week.  In pursuit of Lindsey's and my ambition to walk 750 Runkeeper km during 2017 we walked around Lake Wendouree, which is about 6 km.  We were a bit worried about the thunderstorms which were circling Ballarat but although we heard thunder and saw lightning we were spared the rain.  We stopped for coffee half way around but managed the walk quite comfortably.  It is several years since I last walked right around the lake so  I was pleased that it wasn't too arduous

The storms had passed by the time we got here,
though we could still hear thunder in the distance
I easily managed to get my 10k steps in yesterday.  The walk around the lake contributed a lot, but walking around the DIY stores and the supermarket also helped quite a bit. Plus you get lots and lots of steps in if you are tidying, clearing or simply moving around Lindsey and Ian's enormous house. It's 50 steps from our end of the house to the laundry door. It's quite easy to rack up 3 or 400 steps in the course of an hour without even trying hard.

The vegetable project is going quite well (so far!):

Mostly herbs in this one with just a few veg.
There are more herbs and veg to go in

Cherry tomatoes and cucumbers

Standard tomatoes and zucchini/courgettes

The potatoes are thriving

Carrots and beetroot just germinating

Corn also just poking through
However, the beans are not much enjoying their home down along the fence.  They are being beaten by the wind and are definitely not thriving.  Either we won't plant them there again next season, or we'll have to find a wind break of some sort.

Nor are the raspberries thriving.  Something has stripped them all out ;-(

And here - our first harvest:

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Mostly Feasting

We had a lovely time at Matt and Belinda's place on NYE.  Matt had made a slow roasted lamb shoulder and Belinda some lovely salmon.  We had those with gravy soaked vegetables and roast vegetables, and perhaps a glass or two of wine. It was a very merry evening.

We greeted 2017 by taking the three dogs for a nice walk, starting the year as we mean to go on.  I don't have New Year Resolutions.  It never really seems worth it to me. After all, how long does the "New Year" last?  How long do I have to maintain these resolutions before the "NewYear" Simply becomes "This Year"?  No.  What I have this year is Ambitions for 2017.  Three of them, although the third one isn't properly formed yet.  I have some work to do on it before it is implemented.

My ambitions are:

(i) to walk 750 km as measured by the Runkeeper app. So proper walking, not incidental pottering around.  A 3km walk on the first day of 2017 seemed an appropriate start to this ambition (although disappointingly it said I had achieved 0% when I logged it :-( )

(ii) to lose 10 kg over the course of the year.  This should be achievable without much actual effort; it's less than 1 kg a month!!

(iii) to be more structured and focused in my Japanese learning.  I need to think about this a bit.  At the moment it's just an amorphous aim and certainly not SMART.

Anyway.  Back to New Year's Day.  After our walk we went to visit my friend Jan who recently moved to a place about ten minute's drive from Matt and Belinda's. We haven't seen her for ages; we have been in the habit of lunching with her when visiting Melbourne but didn't when we were here last December/January and there hasn't been chance to visit since we got here in August. It was good to catch up.

Lindsey and Ian made their way to the flat. So did we.  Austin, Kaori and Tatsuki arrived. And we all spent the evening together with Christian, Cassie, Simon and Jacob munching on a Chinese Banquet in The Builder's Arms.  It was Austin, Kaori and Tatsuki's last full night in Melbourne and feasting seemed appropriate.

The 2nd of January was a public holiday.  Lindsey and Emily hit the shops.  The rest of us hopped on a tram and headed into the city.  I don't think Tatsuki had been on a tram before.  He was quite intrigued

Ian is hiding behind Austin's hat!!

Jim and I separated from the rest when we got into town. We had different errands to run. But we ran across them again in the David Jones Food Hall.  And Ian says that they had lunch in the same complex that we did, but in a Japanese rather than a Greek cafe and probably about 20 minutes later.

And for Austin, Kaori and Tatsuki's final Melbourne dinner for this trip we all gathered at Simon's place, along with a few extra's for steak, roast potatoes and salad.  I don't think Tatsuki has had roast potatoes many times before.  He thoroughly enjoyed them

Photo by Lindsey
And then suddenly, they were gone.  Ian took them to the airport.  Lindsey, Jim and I headed back to the flat.  The holidays were over.  Time to get back to work and to "normal" life

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy 2017

New Morning

New Day

New Month

New Year

May they all be filled with joy, happiness and adventure for us all

New Year Morning, Warragul:

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The InterFest

On Boxing Day most people went home quite early.  Christian, Cassie and Josh went exceptionally early.  They had a puppy to pick up.

Austin, Kaori and Tatsuki went to Torquay overnight to visit the Frangoses

Lindsey, Ian, Jim and I started the post-Christmas clear up.

Tuesday was a public holiday, to make up for Christmas Day being on a Sunday. A nice quiet day for us. Lindsey and Ian went to Torquay for afternoon tea with the Frangoses and to bring Austin, Kaori and Tatsuki back.

We came down to Melbourne with Lindsey very early on Wednesday.  She was going back to work.  There was no real point me going in - I had cleared up all the scanning last Friday and no one much had been in since then to generate any more.  Jim and I had breakfast in the shopping complex and came to East Melbourne on the tram and had a gentle, quiet day.

When Lindsey came back in the evening we ambled up Smith Street in search of somewhere to eat.  The places we had in mind were closed for the InterFest but The Noble Experiment was open. It's a place that does interesting, experimental food (hence the name!).  We had the Chef's menu: six courses of tasty, unusual dishes.  We enjoyed all but one course, not being big fans of creamy goat's cheese (but that's a risk you take when you choose to have a surprise menu in a place specialising in innovative food!). On the other hand, the lamb buns were amazing. I am not sure that I would ever smoke carrots, which I tend to use for sweetness, but it was an interesting idea.  However, the dessert course was a real tour de force.  Watermelon marinated in gin; yoghurt parfait; a granita of mint, lime and cucumber.  Fabulous!

On Thursday, Lindsey, Jim and I headed to Southbank to an enormous factory outlet area that I had no idea existed.  In the event that we ever get a place of our own it would be a great place to stock up on household necessities. We hopped on the tram to come home - and the heavens opened.  We managed to get from the tram to the flat without getting soaked. Then the heavens opened again

You can't actually see the rain.  It was like a sheet!
Then we swapped Lindsey (who drove back to Ballarat) for Austin, Kaori and Tatsuki (who drove down from Ballarat)

We took Tatsuki to the local park on Friday morning

And then we all drove out to Robert and Susan's place for a magnificent lunch, catch up and chatter.

There has been a lot of very delicious food this InterFest!!

And now we are poised, ready to tumble exuberantly, or to slide gently into whatever 2017 has in store for us.  But first I should probably get dressed.  And we need to get to Warragul. We're supposed to be greeting the New Year from there. In day clothes rather than my (admittedly rather beautiful) new pyjamas.

(Somebody recently said, I think on Facebook, that it said a lot about them that they had more clothes for sleeping in than for going out and about in.  I thought this was a fine ambition that I was unlikely ever to achieve. I think I might have almost got there!!!)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Austin, Kaori and Tatsuki arrived from Japan on Friday afternoon.

Lindsey and Ian came back from Townsville on Saturday

So did Emily.  She diverted down to Mount Martha to pick up Stella and Tony.

We were all in place for a nice, leisurely start to Christmas Day.  We had a small mountain of food waiting for us, and an enormous lake of alcohol, soft drinks and adult soft drinks (Japan does a mighty fine line in non alcoholic cocktails and other drinks for adults who choose not to take alcohol.  Austin had brought some with him).

We had a leisurely exchange of presents.

We made a leisurely breakfast.

Some of us went to church.  Some of us made a start on food preparation for the evening. Some of us were pottering about, playing with our presents, enjoying the morning.

Then the septic tank at the south end of the house decided to block.  This took out one of the three toilets, one of the three bathrooms - and the only kitchen :-S

Ian spent a large proportion of Christmas morning into the early afternoon sorting that out.  We could manages without the toilet and bathroom if we really had to, but we couldn't manage well without the kitchen!! Imagine trying to wash the dishes caused by 25 people for dinner in Lindsey and Ian's bathroom sink!!!!

In the meantime, some of us put up the tent

Some of us prepared food

And we set the table

Jim peeled a mountain of potatoes. Stella podded a mountain of peas.  We topped and tailed green beans.  We sorted out asparagus.  We had coleslaw and salad.  And Ian managed to get the septic tank sorted out before the evening guests arrived.  He also had time to barbecue the turkey, roast the pork belly and to prepare the delicious seafood that was awaiting our attention.

It was a great evening.  Much delicious food.  Much merriment.  But no photos.  Too busy eating and making merry!!

A Christmas Elf

Monday, December 19, 2016

Birthday Celebrations

No.  Not mine.  Our friend Pat's.  It's her birthday this coming Thursday but the chances of getting a load of people out partying during the day on a Thursday, and particularly a Thursday three days before Christmas are quite slight.

So her family and many of her friends gathered at the Lavandula Swiss Italian Lavender Farm for a birthday and Christmas celebration.  It was lots of fun.  There were people there that we had met before, some who we had not met but had heard a lot about, and some who were entirely new to us.  We sat outside to have lunch and admire the beautiful views.  We went for a wander in the gardens.  We had a lovely browse in the shops.  It was a great afternoon.

And here's the Birthday Girl.
A very happy birthday on Thursday for Pat

Lindsey, Ian, Ant, Jess and Emily are gathering in Townsville for Emily's graduation on Wednesday. Stella and Tony had hoped to go too, but Stella isn't really well enough yet for flying - and her legs, which are quite swollen, might not like the tropical heat and humidity.  So they haven't gone.  They'll go somewhere in the autumn when we hope that they might both be fit enough to enjoy their holiday.

Jim and I are clearing up, tidying up and generally getting ready for Christmas.  Once again, I am in charge of collecting the Christmas meat and seafood.  This year I also am responsible for the Christmas desserts.  The responsibility is awesome :-S

Monday, December 12, 2016

Not a bad weekend

Friday was the Practice Christmas Party.  Lindsey and I finished early and ambled back to the flat, ready to head out and party.  Jim and Ian got ready too.

Poor Sam can't go with us!

We were all off to the zoo for an evening of food, wine and much merriment.  There were about 30 in our party.  There were other groups as well.  We started off at the giraffe enclosure, where a zoo keeper gave us lots of information about giraffes and we were treated to wine and canapés:

I would credit the photographer - but I don't remember who it was!

He looks a lot like Sam does when there are none of the expected treats!

Then we all moved off to an indoor area where there was music and dancing, pretty much unlimited red wine, white wine, beer and fizz, more canapés followed by cones of fish and chips and little fried chicken sliders.  It was a great evening.

Beauty and the Beast. The Beast won the prize for the best costume  of the night

We had had the foresight to go by public transport, so no need for a designated driver, apart from the tram drivers. The city was buzzing still when we got into the CBD at around midnight.  I don't think many of the pre-Christmas revellers were ready to go home!

We were, It was half past midnight before we got to bed.  I am usually in bed sometime between 10 and 10:30!!

It therefore came as something of a shock when Sam gently put his cold wet nose on my sleeping cheek at about 6 on Saturday morning and suggested the it would be a fine and lovely time for a walk.  I ignored this suggestion so he went and slept on Lindsey and Ian's bed.  I took him out for a lovely, quiet, solitary walk in the park at about 7:30.  We didn't meet any other people or dogs until we were nearly ready to come back to the flat.

Sam and Ian spent most of Saturday in Carlton:

I don't know who took this picture.
It wasn't Lindsey, Jim or me - we weren't there

Lindsey, Jim and I took ourselves off to Costco.  Not our regular Costco.  The one in Ringwood.  This had us heading vaguely in the direction of the Mornington Peninsula.  So on we went.  As we arrived in Mornington itself we observed signs alerting us to a Farmers' Market that morning.  More signs told us which way to go to get to the market.  We followed the signs until we reached one that announced that we had arrived.  And there it was.  It's a lovely Farmers' Market, held once a month in a small park by the foreshore. We bought lots of lovely things, including a magnificent boned leg of lamb for Ian to play with on Sunday.  Then we thought, given that we were so close, we should probably go and see Tony and Stella (who had escaped from the Rehab Centre that very morning).  They seemed slightly surprised to see us!

We had lunch with them and then headed back to Mount Helen, via the Santa shop and the fruit and veg shop not far from Mount Martha.

On Sunday Lindsey, Jim and I headed to the Ballarat Showgrounds to have a potter around the Sunday Market.  I have been once before, but that was about 15 years ago and my memory is that it was a very quick visit.  We had a more leisurely amble around yesterday. Then we headed to Blackwood, to the Garden of St Erth where we met our friends Chris and John for a very delicious lunch and a wander round the garden.  Jim, Lindsey and I shared a warm salad of roasted vegetables and a plate of sausage, herbed potatoes and broccoli.  I think we could easily have eaten more but there was that magnificent piece of lamb waiting to be consumed for Sunday dinner.  Chris and I have been trying to arrange to meet pretty much since Jim and I arrived last August but events have prevented it.  Finally our plans came to fruition!

Some of the garden at St Erth:

And the house:

It was a fabulous weekend.  We really enjoyed it.  Though poor Lindsey had to do a huge lot of driving.  Just as well she has a lovely new car to do it in :D