Friday, July 29, 2011


We had fun shopping for food yesterday. With less than a week's worth of meals here before our trip, we didn't want to buy more than we could use (and this is coupled with LK's mad drive to use everything in the fridge and freezer before we leave, as well).

Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of will power in play when we go to the Italian market. You just know you're going to buy some sausage, pizza crust, olives and ciabatta. We skipped the cheeses and fresh pasta (that turned out to be a mistake) but left with pride that we had limited our purchases and a commitment that no matter what we would eat this stuff before we left.

Then a nasty thought came into my head. It's the very short truffle season here in Tassie. They won't be available again for another year, and we weren't all that far from a store that was selling them. (And that's why it was a mistake not buying the fresh pasta, although LK is approaching the possibility that I can try my new pasta maker toy and we'll make our own.)

So now the truffle is sitting in a glass bowl in the fridge with four eggs and some butter. After a couple of days it should have done the rather easy job of infusing them and will serve the nobler purpose of being the key ingredient when I ask, "Yo, LK, what's for dinner."

All of which is a long way round of telling you that this is a fantastic area if you love your tucker. And there are plenty of people who love their tucker here. I think there are more foodies than possums out this way. Two of the best (foodies, not possums) live about half an hour away from our place.

Steve Cumper is the creative chef behind the Red Velvet Lounge in Cygnet, which I wrote about last year.  Matthew Evans lives in Cygnet, too. He used to be a major restaurant critic in Sydney, but has moved down here to do his own farming and get closer to the food and its sources. Mind you, it's not quite the same as if you or I decided to chuck it in and become farmers, since he is the subject of an ongoing TV series that chronicles his experiment. (OK, it is kind of the same if "you or I" includes Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. You Americans will have google his name if you wish to know more.)

Both of these guys spend part of their time in Cygnet writing blogs that I follow. I don't know if it's the cool weather or the long nights of winter, but they have both recently posted about living down here. I think it would be hard to say it any better than they have:


Check out Steve Cumper's love letter to this region here.

And here's Matthew Evans' answer to a question LK and I hear quite often, as well.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Getting ready for the long trip to the US. Lots of little things to do:

1. Medicine. Must have enough drugs to ensure my lifestyle choices don't kill me. The good news is the doctor looks at my lab work and wonders if I'm still diabetic because my glucose is so low. She takes a blood pressure pill off the list because my bp is so low. And she marvels that my cholesterol rivals that of most Olympic athletes.

She is so impressed that she forgets to tell me I need to lose weight, cut back on the grog and exercise more. "Keep doing whatever you're doing," she says. "OK," I respond.

Her one concern is slightly low numbers for the thyroid test. "Even if we need to adjust that, it's not a serious problem," she says, adding that this could explain why I have so much trouble losing weight. For years I have raised a metaphorical eyebrow at overweight people who blame their metabolism, figuring that their metabolism wouldn't be put to the test if they skipped that bag of Doritos and tub of salsa. But now I have a doctor who is on the cusp of giving me precisely that excuse. Life just keeps getting better.

2. Money. If we buy our US currency at the Post Office here, they don't charge a fee so it makes sense to pick up some. The problem is that buying US dollars right now is like driving a new car off the lot. No sooner do you pay for it than it loses much of its value.

On the plus side, we will be getting the equivalent of a 10 percent discount on everything we spend in the US. On the negative side, LK knows this.

3. Haircut. I try to get my hair cut every six months whether I need it or not. It seemed about time, especially when Caroline made references to it last week in Sydney - something about my "windswept look". I had suggested I was beginning to look like a televangelist, but the consensus seemed to be I was closer to Jeff Bridges in True Grit.

No matter, back to Whitey's Shearing Shed for a cut. I think of myself as a regular customer, since I get all my haircuts there now. However, they don't seem to remember me since I have only been there once before. Either way, the woman who cut my hair gave me an odd look when I told her that even at my age I had to get my haircut so my mother wouldn't be disappointed in me when I visited. I forgot that most people here don't get my jokes - in fact, don't even know they are jokes.

A bit more to do today and tomorrow. We need to choose some of the stuff for the bathroom renovation which will start almost as soon as we return. Have to notify the security company that if the alarm goes off, they need to send the cops since it won't be me forgetting the code.

And I have to call the credit card companies so they will approve overseas purchases. Although I can think of a few good reasons to forget doing that one.

Just a few more sleeps now.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I dropped in to hear LK's speech at the Sydney conference Thursday. Just in time to hear such gems as:

"I asked my husband to help me put this slide together. Looking at it, I think you can see why I don't ask him to help me decorate the house."

Or, how about: "Think hard before starting a blog. The Internet is a graveyard of blogs that have four or five posts and stopped. My husband has been blogging for three years, and he tells me how hard it is to keep coming up with topics. But he has a mother who gets on his case if he goes too long between posts. You won't have your mother telling you to write."

It's nice to be someone's punchline. I guess I have become the latest in that long line of husbands that includes Cher's Sonny, Gracie's George and Phyllis's Fang. The good news is that the people that used to work with us thought it was funny stuff.

The trip north was great this week. Well, the weather sucked - rainy and cold in Canberra, even rainier in Sydney - but it was great seeing all the people we did. You couldn't have crammed too much more into the five days we were on the road.

We had two lovely nights staying with Jason and Laura (aka Lora) and the two cats that actually own the house. It was our first time ever staying at one of our kids' places. I think it kind of counts as a rite of passage for them. And a rite of getting old for us.

In Sydney we had a schedule that ensured we never went hungry. Tuesday night dinner with Davy - a fantastic meal and great catchup. Wednesday lunch at our old haunt, Lee's Fortuna Court, with Andrew B and Shirley - a fantastic meal and great catchup. Wednesday dinner at the Mexican restaurant with Lily (and I have vague memories of Matt and Rachael also being there) - a fantastic meal and great catchup.

We skipped lunch so LK could prepare for her afternoon duties, but had martinis with Caroline, Andrew G and Ian - fanastic cocktails and great catchups - and then another martini and tapas with Caroline.

For some reason, neither of us was all that hungry the next morning, so we were ready for the dry sandwich on the flight back to Hobart - not so fantastic. And no one left to catch up with.

What a feast of friends and family. There can only be one thing better - more of the same. So we head off to the US in ten days. And it won't hurt that we're heading to heat wave territory from a place that went down to the low 30s last night!

(And by the way, my mother didn't nag me to write this post even though it has been 2 weeks since the last post. Oh, I was nagged al right, but you can guess who cracked the whip and told me to get back to work.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I have been married three times. My three wives have had five other husbands. I have no idea how many wives those husbands have had, but it does make modern-day marriage look like a sort of relationship Ponzi scheme similar to the financial one masterminded by Bernie Madoff.

Obviously the people of my generation have taken "Til death do us part" as an advisory, rather than a mandate.

The Catholic Church, of course, will have none of this. Get a divorce and remarry, and you're out of the club. (Unless you have enough money and clout to buy an annulment, which is a divorce-only-we-will-call-it-by-another-name. But I don't want to get into that whole can of worms.)

As a former seminarian, I always found it curious that a man who has taken the vows in Holy Orders to become a priest can change his mind later on if it all isn't working out. Even if he gets married, it isn't a deal breaker with the church the way divorce is.

That is interesting for two reasons: 1) the guys making the rules have been much more understanding and easier on the penalties for breaking the sort of vows they have to take, and 2) the church seems to have decided somewhere along the way that breaking your vow to another person is much more serious than breaking your vow to God.

Gee, these are odd things to be thinking about. I guess it's because matrimony has been on my mind this morning. Today is the 27th anniversary of the day my true love and I tied the knot. And after more than a quarter of a century, 7/7 remains the luckiest day of my life.

By now we have been together so long that we are starting to become like one another. For example, I am developing hyper-organization habits; LK occasionally does something clumsy. (But only occasionally, dear, and I will never write about them. Promise!)

But we still laugh a lot with one another, do most everything with one another, care madly for one another and love being with one another. (Well, I love being with her. I am assuming she is cool with being with me since she hasn't run away yet.)

So I guess there's one fundamental difference to a financial Ponzi scheme and the marriage-go-round of my earlier years. With Madoff and the like, the last guys in are the ones who suffer the most. With marriage, the last one was winner-take-all. Love you, LK. Here's to many, many more great years together.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


By now most of you who received last week's e-mail from me will have either correctly deduced that I did not in fact get "a iphone from my relatives" and deleted the spam message. Those of you who did seize the precious chance to shop for PC, TV, motorcycle and so on at that site are probably still awaiting delivery. You may want to check that status, and while you're online perhaps check out your credit card accounts as well.

This is the second time in eight months some spambot has been able to access my Hotmail contacts list and send similar messages for sites hoping to capture credit card details from people who haven't already donated their life savings to that unfortunate guy in Nigeria.

There is an upside. I heard from several old friends whom I haven't corresponded with lately. The downside, unfortunately, is that more than a few thought that perhaps I had actually written the e-mail after a tad too much vodka.

After this last attack, I went into my Hotmail contacts list and altered everyone's e-mail address so a spammer couldn't automate sending a message yet I would still be able to remember what the true address is. I also deleted contacts who aren't contacting me (and vice versa) anymore. That left me with only a handful of people who will be annoyed if the spambot gets by my rudimentary protection and strikes again.

I say rudimentary because I sent an e-mail to about five people last week and when I typed in their names two addresses came up - the original and the altered. I am not quite sure why those I have changed are still showing up and will try to figure out how to permanently remove them. But I am a little worried that the final solution may involve dealing with Microsoft technical support - something I have been able to avoid for years by switching to Apple Macs.

You know Apple Macs - the ones that don't get hacked!

I may have been tempted to revert to old-fashioned snail mail where you just lick some glue, put the stamp on and throw it in a metal box in the shopping mall. Then you wait to see if you can still taste that glue on your tongue when the letter arrives.

I should add that the recent record of Australia Post has not inspired me to seriously consider reverting to traditional mail. When we went to Bali, I completed the form to have them hold our mail for the week. They are supposed to deliver the held mail on the day you designate as your return.

In this case that was June 20. I am pleased to report that AusPost successfully held our mail for the week. Unfortunately more than two weeks and three phone calls later the held mail hasn't been given to us. And don't even think of going to the post office and collecting it. It is held in the distribution center and mere mortals like us are not permitted there.

There's obviously more to come with this story (although I'm not sure it's the held mail that is coming). And I am especially pleased to report that LK, fresh from her successful campaign in the Optusian Wars, has taken it upon herself to lead the fight.

Obviously something is holding up our mail. Be it rain, hale or dark of night, I don't know. But I suspect that LK might be the answer to our problem. I'll let you know.