Friday, 30 March 2012

Everyone has their own autism

As some of you may have gathered by now, there's a bit of a foodie theme going on here.  No, not gourmet foodie, just wholesome, home-cooked, comfort foodie foodness.  Making pancakes from scratch on a Sunday morning.  Macaroni and cheese without a box in sight.  Bacon.  And so on.

Making yummy, un-fancy food is fun and satisfying, and it can become an obsession.

Now, I can't take credit for what follows, but it did kind of start way back in the days when I used to come into professional contact with Child Support Agency cases, and I became aware of the enormously detailed financial disclosures their clients have to complete.  One day I looked at one of those forms and thought it would make the solid basis for a family budget.  The budget we work from today had its origins there.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Blog overhaul

My apologies to the very few people who stumbled upon the original iteration of this blog, which had a different title and, in fact, a different URL.  If you've found this one you're some kind of genius!

The experiment I was running for a blog concept wasn't really working for me, so it's back to basics while I concentrate on just writing stuff instead of confecting it.  The look and tone (and name and URL) of the blog has been completely changed as a result.

Given that less than a dozen people found the blog in its first two weeks, and as far as I can tell none of them have been back, there should be very little angst in blog-land over this.


Victory, from the jaws of culinary defeat

I had a bit of a cooking crisis this evening which turned out well, involving my attempt to tart up a frozen crumbed fish dinner by making fancy chips.

As fortune would (eventually) have it, the potato bin contained two very slightly different kinds of potato today.  They both had the same kind of pinkish skin, but one kind had flesh that was a tiny bit darker than the other.  This should have been a warning, but it wasn't.

Anyway.  I noticed this difference as I was peeling the potatoes and preparing them for the two-part cooking process I've come to trust: slice them into the chip shapes you want, then par-boil them to give them enough moisture inside that when you oven-bake them they go crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside.  This process also involves gently tossing the things in vegetable oil prior to baking, and at that point you can also get fancy with the flavouring.  Tonight I cut them french-fry style and chose a ground rosemary and rock salt flavouring, which smells divine as they bake and tastes wonderful.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Our minion is all grow’d up

It’s amazing how years of operating under a particular set of circumstances makes you forget certain options when you’re problem-solving.  After 13 years of arranging the constant care of one’s minions, from birth, it feels unnatural to incorporate “no supervision” into the repertoire.  Yet it shouldn’t be, and it’s a prompt to start thinking outside the “minor” box in a range of different minion-related matters. 

Mrs G and I have been preparing for the coming school holidays, and since we both work full-time, we have to arrange care for the minions.  Grandparents have never been a reliable option, as they’re variously not local, fully occupied with running businesses or still teaching.  A series of school changes means that we don’t know any of the minions’ friends’ parents well enough yet to consider them as holiday carers. 

So, we got the local YMCA vacation care program details, and that all looked OK, and we started filling out the enrolment forms.  At that point I noticed that the program is “for primary school aged children only”, and we have a secondary aged minion.  Uh-oh, spaghettios! 

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Remembering Jim Henson

Mrs G was showing the minions excerpts from Jim Henson's 1990 memorial service this evening.  Back then, for those of a certain bent, this was a very big deal.  There are a couple of reasons.

First there's Jim.  I grew up with the Muppet Show, and the Muppet movies.  Jim's absurd sense of humour completely appealed to me, and has stayed with me.  How he was able to touch so many lives with his energy and creativity is a blessing to us all.

In addition, there's his selection of songs.  The clip above features some of his favourite songs, performed by Dave Goelz, Frank Oz, Kevin Clash, Steve Whitmire, Richard Hunt and Jerry Nelson.  This is a long clip, and at the end, if the Muppets ever meant anything to you, you may need a box of tissues.  Near the start, though, there's "Lydia the Tattooed Lady".  I don't remember when I first heard that song, but I remember it best as performed by Kermit the Frog.  Such a strange song for a seven year old to memorise, but the wonder of it is that Jim made it accessible, amusing and harmless to me.

Lastly, this was one of the very first big "celebrity memorial services".  It was very unusual in that it was televised, so it was ground-breaking in that way.  It was also ground-breaking because it was conceived as an entertaining tribute to his fans and there was no casket in the building.  It was just brilliant.

Now, the minions are familiar with Fraggle Rock and a wide range of the Muppet movies (including the latest one with Jason Segel), but they were still mesmerised by this memorial service, and the fact that Jim's dream is still generating entertainment 22 years after his death.  Take a moment to indulge in this stuff every now and then.  It's a genuine tonic.

Goodbye Dame Edna? Say it ain't so!

Barry Humphries is about to embark on a tour in which he will perform Dame Edna, Sir Les Patterson and Sandy Stone for the last time!  Humphries has been performing this character since 1955 - over 57 years!  Anyone who has encountered Edna knows she is a formidable presence (Humphries is very tall, and has an oversized cranium) but, more than that, she has a fierce and cutting wit.  Mrs G was fortunate enough to encounter both Humphries and Edna (separately) while working backstage at a theatre some years ago.  Humphries' technique involves complete immersion - while in costume and makeup you do not call him Mr Humphries.  And, while in costume and makeup, he is completely in character - Humphries disappears and Edna is all that is there.

It actually must be quite a strain to sustain that kind of performance and, approaching 80 years of age, it's little wonder Humphries is electing to take the foot off the gas a bit.  Both Humphries and Edna have collected a number of honours on the way - although Edna isn't a real "Dame", Humphries is an Officer of the Order of Australia and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire - and in 2007 a street in Melbourne was named "Dame Edna Alley", in her honour.

Thankfully there is an abundance of footage of Edna to remember her by.  I suspect it'll be a long time before we see her like again.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Time flying

Well, the weekend is almost half over, and I'm just getting around to reflecting on the fact that it is, indeed, the weekend.

There seems to be a bit of a time-concertina effect going on here - I've just worked out that there are only a couple of weekends to go until Easter, which means there are also only a couple of weeks till the end of term 1 for the kids.  This also happens to coincide with a bunch of people coming to visit at Easter and also my eldest minion's birthday (she turns *gasp* 13!).  So, having done a bunch of chores, including going to Bunnings hardware store to browse important hardware items, I realised it was time to go and purchase that sofa bed that we're gonna need if we insist on inviting interstate friends to stay.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Facebook birthday wishes

I’m in two minds about this.  Facebook reminds me about friends’ birthdays way more effectively than anything else in my life, giving me the opportunity to wish a happy birthday to people whose birthdays I would normally miss.  On the other hand, the ease with which one can wish a friend happy birthday by leaving message on their Facebook wall renders the wish comparatively meaningless.  I mean, you don’t have to go to a lot of effort, and in the end it’s just characters on a display, rather than a voice on the phone or a handwritten wish in a card sent through the mail.

I know that, on my own birthday, I quite enjoy looking through all the messages on my wall, and it does give a little boost to one’s self-worth.  But it just seems too easy to punch a few keys and think “there, I’ve done something nice today”.

Whatever, it won’t stop me trying to think up something appropriate or witty to write on peoples’ walls, but I’ll still feel guilty about not being able to get better organised all the time!

An introduction of sorts

Why blog?  Everyone’s doing it, that’s why, and if the opinions of every second snot-nosed know-nothing urban man-child can find a home on the internets, then the musings of a trivia-laden middle-aged bloke in the sticks surely can, too.

The title of this blog stems from those stories you hear of people who refuse to use the good china, or wear their best clothes, for fear they will be ruined - and then they die without having ever enjoyed the wonderful things they'd acquired or been given.  Well, Mrs G and I determined long ago that we wouldn't do that.  The best Denby china we got for our wedding has been in use from the day we got it, and still is, nearly 15 years later.

So, this blog is a bit about making choices which capitalise on the best of what you have, not conserving it for some obscure future.  At least, that's what I hope it might turn out to be.