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March 2005

I'm a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad blogger.

Oh, it is so long since I have added anything. No excuses really, just lazy this week- I shall have to do better. On Friday I went to my friend Cathy’s house and we had tea and watched the Princess Diaries II with her girls. Yesterday Karen was meant to come for tea, but I was too hot, and had a headache and so she offered me afternoon nibblies instead, so we bought the net tulle etc to make her niece two tutus!!! Pink and dark pink and sparkles!!! And watched 2 episodes of Blake’s 7 and the special features. I had to block my ears, close my eyes, and go la la la as I don’t like to see the actors as real people, I just want to maintain the fiction that the characters are real people!! Then I cam home and slept and today I went to Di and Mark’s shack at Bellingham. We walked along the beach and I paddled and we had lunch and came home just now. I am planning a nap now as a trip really takes it out of you. Harki and Peri did get 2 old tennis balls from the Cages though and Harki ferreted them out of the bag while I was locking the gate and had begun the game even before I was ready!!! Now she is crying as Peri has stolen one ball and I am ignoring her. ‘Our Mary’, the woman who married Prince Fred of Denmark is coming for a visit and don’t we know it!! Her photo is plastered across everything. Soon Charles Windsor will be here and I think there is Dutch royalty as well. Too much royalty. I will have to start avoiding the news and current affairs : the Danish couple are even on Denton. Poor show there. Oh and now the spell check has decided to revert to being Australian again. At last!!! Almond Chocolate Meringue Cake Cake 125 g butter 110 g caster sugar 3 egg yolks 150 g Self-raising flour 35 g cocoa 125 ml buttermilk 125 ml sour cream ¼ cup flaked almonds Grease and line 2 20 cm round cake tins, preheat oven to 180 C (160 ff) Beat butter, sugar and yolks till creamy, then fold in flour and cocoa, and milk and cream in 2 batches. Pour half into each tin. Top one with meringue and almonds. Bake meringue layer for 25 minutes, cover loosely with foil and then bake for another 15 – bake the plain layer for 25 minutes only. . Stand 5 minutes then cool on rack. Sandwich layers together with cream flavoured with a little almond essence or liqueur and sugar!!!

3 egg whites
140 g caster sugar
Beat egg whites till soft peaks form, gradually add sugar and then beat till it is all dissolved and the mixture is glossy.

I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry - Well it's too late baby, now!!!!

Thursday, 24 February 2005 I have shut the curtains at the front of the house and am trying to encourage the Labradors to play in the paddle pool as it is hot again today. For the third night in a row we have had Mr Cooly running the whole time, and although there are brief respites from the heat at dawn and dusk, for the rest of the time it is unremittingly hot, sunny and humid. Yesterday it was the Launceston Cup. I have no interest in the Cup and don’t like horse racing at all, or any animal racing really. We went to the Novotel for posh afternoon tea. They know us quite well now and chat to us!!!! I have been for a short walk with the Labradors and a quick shop all alone. There is a huge full page letter from David Llewellyn, the State Minister in charge ultimately of housing. The government has sold 150 people houses riddled with asbestos and did not tell the buyers. There are also potentially thousands of low income renters as well. And there have been renovations. People have been happily drilling, sawing and sanding the asbestos, with their children , and in some cases grandchildren, playing nearby and no-one wearing any protective clothing or taking any precautions. A spokeswoman last night on national TV said she had sympathy for them, but the local Labor Federal member is taking up the cause and is investigating a class action. The State Government is Labor too. This is a terrible state of affairs and the Government are now playing ‘blame the buyers’ and NOW they are telling people there is asbestos in the houses. Shutting the stable door ………. Cherry Chocolate Truffles 1 egg white 125 g dark chocolate ½ cup almond meal 1 tbspn Kirsch ( or alcohol of your choice) 2 tbspn icing sugar 25 glace cherries ¼ cup cocoa ¼ cup drinking chocolate Lightly beat egg white, Grate chocolate, mix with almond meal, Kirsch and icing sugar. Add enough egg white to bind, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Flatten spoonfuls of mixture around a cherry and roll till smooth, then roll in cocoas!! Keep in the fridge!!!

Blake's 7 Rules OK

On Sunday I had a veeeeeeery long phone conversation with Karen . She was not technically jet lagged as the time difference was only 3 hours, but she has what I like to call ‘sleep debt’, it is the term de jour. Sleep, or lack of it, is all over the news, so she is right up to date. I have watched so much Carnivale, Dead Zone and West Wing that I am TV Happy in a good way. I have moved right up to tape 60, so only 15 to go now. Yesterday it was 28 C and humid and sunny to boot. I went to Karen’s house and she gave me some presents from China, Macau and Hong Kong : jade earrings and beautiful bangle, a lovely incense burner which is a jade trinket box with a good likeness of a dog on top!! ( I am a Tiger, and a Leo so I have an overabundance of the regal cat) a most wonderful faffing about in dressing gown thing in an eye popping lime green, embossed with symbols and patterns – and then we went to the Muffin Kitchen for a fruit and vegetable platter and Ploughman’s for lunch, and finally a shop. I bought new Easter biscuit cutters, 3 bunnies and a lamb and Karen wants Kiss biscuits in a scalloped flower shape. Kiss biscuits are plain sweet biscuits that you cook, and then two are sandwiched together with raspberry jam ( it must be raspberry) and then iced with pink icing and sprinkled with round 100s and 1000s. They are best eaten after a day or two as they soften. They are biscuits of childhood, along with jam drops and ANZACs. Then it was too hot so we went to Karen’s house and watched the first episode of Season 2 of Blake’s 7. It was such a good episode, which we watched with cynicism and total joy!!! I was so hot that I had to have Mr Cooly cooling all night. The Labradors were sad as this was the longest they had been left alone for ages, almost 6 hours. They were very happy to see me home. Harki has an appointment at the Vet today at 11 am. Peri will be ‘Home Alone’ so we will wait with bated breath to see the effects. Berry Sorbet 500 ml of fruit juice ( cranberry, raspberry etc) 250 ml of another juice ( pink grapefruit…) 125 g caster sugar 1 egg whitePlace juice and sugar into a pan over low heat and stir till sugar is dissolved, boil without stirring and then cool. Freeze in a metal tray till just frozen and then put in a blender with the egg white and process till smooth. Freeze again. Serve with berries and a splash of champagne.

Pass the Port

Saturday, 19 February 2005 I had no email all yesterday and when I turned on the computer today a lot arrived. I do think that some emails are missing though as it is VERY unusual for me not to get any emails at all for 33 hours. Can’t complain too much, but I do think IPrimus should send all their customers an email. This should be easy to do!!! Yesterday I almost finished the curtains, I ran out of time as I had to go to hospital to have a blood test – look away now if you are squeamish…………I needed to have my port flushed as well, this is where they sick a very big needle into my port, through my skin, it nestles just under my collarbone on the right. My port is slanty though, so there is more than just a layer of skin to go through – I always have a local. Normally blood doesn’t come back when the draw on the syringe, but the last twice it did, so we gambled and yesterday it did too!!!! This is very exciting for me as I only have one good vein left for access and I don’t want to use it if I don’t have to. Right, you can look back now……. Today Karen arrives home from Macau, and I have left her a chocolate brownie and a casserole in the fridge. It will be very strange as she has been away for about 10 weeks. The Labradors will have forgotten what she looks like!!! Nothing else exciting has happened : my knee feels better each day by tiny increments ; TV is all or nothing, like Oklahoma ; I put things on lay by, secret lay by things for a friend ; and I have had plenty of sleep. I was going to go to the pictures to see The Incredibles on Thursday but it was not on, despite no “Last Days” notice in the paper. It is on today and tomorrow at 10 am. I have missed it now today and I don’t know about tomorrow yet. In our State the Premier and the Labor Party are not doing too well. The whole of Australia is Labor in the states and territories, but Liberal/Nation Coalition Federally. No wonder the Premier, Lennon!!!! Is not doing wee, he has ridden roughshod over people, been against the Federal Labor Party and generally handled everything badly. The Royal Hobart Hospital is in a state of turmoil, with some patients being told to move to the mainland to live to qualify for treatment there. He is not conciliatory or inclusive and he comes across as someone who would give you a head butt as soon as look at you. He is also in Gunns’ pocket, he and Gay decide what will happen in all of the forestry and now the pulp mill areas. We don’t want a pulp mill. The last time this was mooted, the Greens surged to power!! There are 6 out of 25 now, about ¼ of the State’s politicians are Green!!! There has been an emergency meeting up at the Casino ( how appropriate as they gamble with our future) and it has been announced that there is an extra $50 million suddenly in the Government’s coffers. If only they would spend the money on health, education, law and order etc. There is an election in a few weeks in WA, and this could indicate what the trend will be. Usually you find that whatever the reigning party is here, we are the opposite to Federal Parliament. Dirt Bike Cake So called because I once made a cake in the shape of a dirt bike for a friend’s daughter!!! 125 g butter 220 g brown sugar 1 tbspn instant coffee 2 eggs 1 tspn vanilla extract 50 g self-raising flour 150 g plain flour 1 tspn bicarb soda ½ cup cocoa 180 ml buttermilk 100 g ( or more!!) dark choc chips Grease and line a 24 cm tin and preheat oven to 180 C ( 160 ff). Cream butter, sugar and vanilla, add coffee and eggs. Add ½ sifted dry ingredients, then ½ the buttermilk, fold in and repeat. Mix in choc chips. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Cool in tin for 30 minutes then place on a rack.

School's in for Summer ( actually almost Autumn!!)

Thursday, 17 February 2005 The IPrimus site and email has been down for 6 or so hours now, so no emails and no idea of how long it will be before they are up and running again. I have not let this stop me sending emails, but they have gone off into the ether unsupported!!! My ISP is actually very excellent and I can’t remember the last time they were down, so I’m not complaining, just stating the fact!! I do feel isolated though. Today is the first day of school for all the children , over 70,000 of them trotted off today. It was not too hot or too cold so they have been lucky. We are all looking forward to hotter weather, because as soon as school goes back the temperature soar!!! On the subject of education, Brendan Nelson had been at it again, running down teachers – and I want to say literally!!! He said ‘god knows they need some’ of teachers’ professionalism and is instigating another inquiry, this time into teacher education. Having taught for over 20 years I can certainly say that teachers are neither treated, nor paid, as professionals, but have the term used against them all the time. You have no office, nowhere to put your bag, hat or coat away for safety, no lunch hour ( there is always duty or sport training and you always have to supervise the children eating their lunch for 10-15 minutes out of the 50 minutes for lunch) there is no-one to do all the typing, note-taking, photocopying etc, all teachers need a PA, I know this is where non-teachers jump in and say but what about all the holidays. Oh I would have gladly given up the holidays to have been appropriately paid for all the overtime I worked during term time and the holidays, it was easy to work a 60 hour week. I would have also loved to have has a sensible amount of children in the class, 24 instead of 32, and I would have liked the children with special needs of any description to have the specialist education, help, OT ( nappy changing) in the proper environment. I taught in a room that was nearly 100 years old, too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter. I could go on, but I wasn’t too badly off. Others worked harder, in much worse conditions. There, I have vented my anger at the plethora of inquiries that have ended up going nowhere. If only they had spent the money on education…………… Cherry Ripe Cheesecake 50 g plain sweet biscuits, crushed 50 g coconut 40 g melted butter 500g cream cheese ( Philly) softened 75 g caster sugar 2 eggs 200 g dark chocolate, melted 160-200 g Cherry Ripe, roughly chopped 300g fresh cherries, pitted and chopped in half ( these are in season now!!)Mix coconut, biscuit crumbs and melted butter and press into the base of a lined 24 cm springform tin. Refrigerate for 15 – 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 170 C (150 ff). Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth, add eggs one at a time, beating only a little – too much air can help the cheesecake crack. Fold in Cherry Ripe, cherries and chocolate, fill tin and then bake for about 50 minutes. Turn oven off and cool in oven. Refrigerate, then eat!!!

Too many chiefs and not enough commonsense!!

Wednesday, 16 February 2005 How quickly the proud are humbled! All my excitement about my leg feeling better has made me walk a bit more and of course now I am paying for it. In general though my hip and femur have stopped their incessant aching and just my knee and muscles are boogelly. Last night on Foreign Correspondent ABC, they were reporting from Vanuatu, where the traditional women’s dress is a kind of frilly and madly patterned ‘mammy’ dress, a la Gone with the Wind . Is this non-PC?? I don’t know? Describing people’s ethnicity is a minefield these days. It can become so tense that you simple don’t discuss things. Anyhow, the ‘chiefs’ have decided that any woman who wears trousers or board shorts will be fined a pig and keep on being fined. The male preacher in the highly evangelical church was also preaching for the island dress, and against anything else. This, all, while the men pranced about in cool shorts and T-shirts etc. Luckily one woman there was ignoring them and she was going on her merry but Gandhi-like way, causing no real affront, but wearing her jeans and short sleeved tops. Today the GardyGardeners came and we all had pikelets, the people with raspberry jam and cream, and the non-people with no toppings at all. I have been to the ABC to pick up my prize – a CD from Landline and I know and like lots of the songs and a Limelight magazine- then to the Library and the Bookshop where I bought a green pen!! And the latest Anne MacCaffrey in paperback, and to the supermarket. I am v v tired now and thinking of a long nap. I am making Karen a rich beef casserole and she wants mashed potato on the top, and a chocolate brownie too, as she arrives home on Saturday afternoon. I will leave it in her fridge and she can whack it in the oven and heat it up whenever she is hungry. Pikelets ¾ cup milk 1 egg 35 g melted butter 150 ml plain flour 1 tspn baking powder 55 g caster sugar ( optional) Sift dry ingredients into a bowl, make a well and pour I the wet. Gradually mix in and beat till smooth. Ideally, leave for 30 minutes, but it is fine to use straight away. Heat a heavy based fry pan to low/medium. Melt a little butter and put dessert spoons full carefully into it. Turn when bubble appear on the top and almost pop. Cool. Eat!!!

What I 'kneed' to help me walk!!!

Tuesday, 15 February 2005 Well I have hobbled of for a walk and then I did my ‘knee’ exercises and my knee felt a tiny bit better – I know this is all in my mind!! They are, otherwise, placebo exercises!!! An interesting concept. Thus far I have rested all day, read a book, then napped all afternoon. It has been warm again, but not too humid. I still feel tired, but I want to stay up to watch ‘Trevor’s World of Sport’ with Neil Pearson, by the “Drop The Dead Donkey” people. It is not laugh out loud funny, but very witty and clever. I have been given lots of fresh new zucchini and tomatoes from gardens so I am making a zucchini, tomato and red onion sauce to have with some pasta for my tea. Then I will gently poach some pears and make a custard. Yum.Nothing much has happened today : there is more hooha about the Spirit 3, and more rumblings about a Frenchman receiving $25,000 compensation for being put in the Baxter Detention Centre for 3 or 4 days when he was a tourist. Even when they finally allowed him access to the French Embassy,, and the staff confirmed he was who he said he was they wanted him to – wait for it – sing the French national anthem, name some French mountains ad the President to show he was French!! The detention people are showing their incompetence in every facet of their work. Well done!! They are showing us to be one of the most right-wing countries around. Howard has the gall to threaten to invade other Asian countries to ‘root out’ possible terrorism threats, while our Customs and Immigration people can’t tell a tourist from a refugee!!!

We are the knights who say "Knee"!!!

Monday, 14 February 2005 Ah, the magic of Valentine’s Day. In Australia it is basically disappeared!!! Although it is pushed with desperation by commercial outlets. Really it is for teenagers. Real people don’t ‘do’ Valentine’s Day here. Yesterday was a day of sloth, in a good way!! I watched 3 tapes of catching up : I really like The West Wing and The Dead Zone. I forget how much I like these shows. James Hardie has had a drop in profit of 30% and guess what? It is not their inhumane, greedy, grasping, beyond belief bad treatment of the many people their products killed/are killing/will kill. NO, it is the cost of the ducky little inquiry!! They have spin doctors who are flogging a dead horse. Nothing exciting happening for me. I am off to the doctor to about my sore knee. I am not looking forward to it as I am expecting bad news of some sort. In Hobart it is Regatta Day and Hobart Cup Day and here it is the first day back at school for teachers. I am feeling maudlin today and will, no doubt, feel this way all week. It is depressing as everyone is doing what I would love to be doing, but am unable to – Teaching. I know I plod along being all chirpy and relatively positive, but especially now I remember the thrill of the new year, the excitement of a new class, the nervousness as the day arrives… I shall have a little cry later on , probably after the doctor!! And I will feel a bit better. I have been extra tired. Last night I was asleep around 11 and woke up at 9-30pm, and I expect to have a long nap this afternoon. I am whiling my life away. I intend to sew 8 more seams, albeit long ones, and it will be curtains for the curtains sometime this week. I want to go and see The Incredibles so I hope they are on at least till Wednesday, though I’d prefer to go on Thursday to take my mind off things. Knee update : Well, I have apparently lost my groove!!! My knee cap has come out of its groove and that is what is causing the pain. I have exercises to do, and the worst possible outcome is day key hole surgery, in and out, and they will scrape any gunk from the groove!! This is exceedingly good news and I don’t have anything terribly bad at all. I am amazed that I originally has a groove at all!!! Mini Florentines 120 g sultanas 2 cups corn flakes 60 g flaked almonds 110 g red glace cherries 160 ml condensed milk – sweetened 60 g each of white and dark chocolate Preheat oven to 180 C ( 160 ff) Combine all ingredients and mix well. Drop heaped teaspoons ful, well spaced, onto the trays. Bake 6 minutes. Cool on tray. Melt chocolate and spread ½ the bases with each type. Squiggle with a fork to give that characteristic look.I often use glace ginger, and other fruit, less cornflakes and more almonds, but you can adapt to your own taste. In our climate they are melty, so refrigerate!!

Our house, in the middle of an expensive street!!

Friday, 11 February 2005 It is so good the way the date on Word just updates all by itself. It is very hard to type when there is a happy, wiggly Labrador bopping you with her head!! Harki has a plastic bottle, and I have but a crumbled up Goodo in it to keep her amused. Today we went for a swim at the dam with Mark and HollyPolly. Harki sway way out into the dam and Peri was the fastest and most exuberant swimmer!! We went for about 40 minutes so I am quite tired. The Cylon Head boxed set of the original series of Battlestar Galactica has just been delivered. It is very sliver and shiny!!! The man remembered to deliver it to the bay windows instead of the door!!! Interest rates are about to rise. This affects me very little in the actual hose mortgage area, but it will be very bad as many people have bought very expensive houses. I hope you are sitting down now, the house over the road is for sale for ½ a million dollars, yes, $500, 000. I paid a little over $60,000 for this house about 17 years ago. My how prices have gone up. My house would not be worth that much, but I could not afford to buy it!!!! Of course the Howard Government reached out to the Mortgage Belt with promises that interest rates would rise less under them than under Labor. This was almost universally interpreted as there being no rate rises. People hear what they ant to hear. The financial pundits expect three or four rises in the near future. Apparently this is better than one large rise. I am going Jessie’s to talk about school and have afternoon tea later on. Tonight the new Battlestar Galactica will be on digital TV. Cool!!!!! Fudgy Peanut Butter Ice-cream Tart 1 24 cm tart case or 100 g plain sweet biscuits, crushed, and 50 g melted butter 1 litre vanilla ice-cream, or the special flavour of your choice 375 g crunchy peanut butter

200 g dark chocolate
50 g white marshmallows
300 ml thickened cream

For biscuit base, mix crushed biscuits and butter and press into the base of a lined 24 cm springform or flan tin. Soften ice-cream and then beat in peanut butter. Spoon into tin and freeze at least 3 hours: overnight is better. To make sauce, melt ingredients in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring till combined. Do not boil. Serve a slice of tart with the chocolate sauce!!!!!

I pull my black jeans on, I pull my new black jeans on! ( well, no actually, but it fits the song)

Thursday, 10 February 2005 Isn’t it always the way? I finally decided my leg was hurting so much I should see the doctor : I made an appointment and of course this morning it feels better, not 100%, but better!!! I spent the better part of the morning fiddling with the Live Update of Norton Anti-Virus. It wouldn’t download the new anti-virus definitions. I had to follow the online help through 3 pages of instructions until I fixed it. It is probably because I downloaded the Microsoft patches. It always happens, the patches make something else malfunction. I had good intentions of walking the Labradors today ( road to hell etc ) but I didn’t wake up till after 9 am. I went to town to pick up a lay by and put a pair of new almost black winter jeans on lay by as they were 25% off!!! I have done some washing up, made lunch, I made salmon cakes last night ready for tea tonight, and I have fetched the mail – only a newsletter. Oh great, the researchers are at it again, bagging anyone who isn’t married, or has been divorced: we are unhappier and not as healthy. I just love the way they infer it is your fault you are not married. I saw a woman on SBS or the ABC saying she didn’t choose to be a single parent : her husband ran of with a floozy and it was a fait accompli. Then some men have the gall to say they shouldn’t have to pay child support. Amazing!!! I am knitting a Kath and Kim baby’s bonnet for my friend’s new baby and there are mistakes in the pattern. A knitting novice would be flummoxed! Target has a spelling error in their catalogue : recieve – for heaven’s sake, the spelling check should pick that one up!!! Mine did….. Citrus Meringue Tarts 20 little pastry tart cases 2 eggs, separated 2 tbspn caster sugar 1 tspn citrus rind – lemon, orange or lime 30 ml matching juice!!! 20 g butter Place rind, juice, yolks, sugar and butter in bowl over simmering water and whisk till it thickens, cool, then cover and refrigerate. Beat egg whites till soft peaks form, add extra sugar gradually till it is all dissolved. Preheat oven to 220 C ( 200 ff) Spoon curd into cases and cover completely with meringue, you must seal it so none of the curd is peeking out at all. Bake 5 –7 minutes. Refrigerate till ready to serve!!!!!