Pilgrimage To The Porcelain Alter

The bone chilling record breaking cold that ushered in Omaha’s New Years Eve (fourteen below zero), and 2018 New Years Day (twenty below zero) caused me to retreat back into Westroads Mall, and once again become a Mall Walker. It had been over six months since I last walked the long mall corridors. In late March of 2017 when spring was dismissing winter, and the mornings were being warmed by the gentle spring heat I left Westroads for the streets of the neighbourhood; and when the November mornings first started to become dim and cold I retreated from the bleak start of winter to New Zealand and the The Land Down Under for a little over a month. When I set foot in Westroads I wondered if my old Mall Walker mates would still be walking. They weren’t really mates, I had never talked to any of them and I didn’t know any of their names; it was the unnoticed slight nod of the head, the indiscernible move of the index finger as we passed that bonded us as a band of Mall Walkers. I’m more vocal with my new Mall Walker mates. When we pass, we slow down our pace or speed it up so we can exchange banter about the weather, or the number of laps we have to go.

image source:jmcadam

The other day when I stood before a Westroads urinal I was mesmerised by the grout lines between the white subway tiles that were the wall in front of me. As my eyes followed the lines my head turned toward each of the four walls; my eyes started moving from side to side, and down, and then straight ahead. I was enclosed in a container of ceramic subway tiles. I stood inside the sterile white space, and as I followed the straight lines of grout between the tiles my mind wandered; I began to understand why the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser was an opponent of a straight line.

Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser was an Austrian born, New Zealand citizen, artist and architect. In February 2000, seventy two year old Friedie left for the big art studio in the sky. He had spent most of his early life in Europe, but as time went by he hung out more and more in New Zealand; buying land in the North Island close to the small town of Kawakawa. Friedie assumed New Zealand citizenship in 1983. In 1998 the Kawakawa Community Board recognised that their forty year old public dunny in the town’s main street needed to be upgraded. Friedei came to the rescue by offering a design of wavy lines, irregular ceramic tiles, small sculptures, coloured glass, cobblestone flooring, grass roof, and a living tree. He thought of the toilet as a special place. A place where you meditate; somewhat similar to a church.

image source:jmcadam

image source:skmcadam

image source:skmcadam

image source:skmcadam

Our first stop in New Zealand was the vibrant hipster Auckland suburb of Ponsonby. The main street, Ponsonby Road, is lined with bars, bistros, restaurants, galleries, and coffee shops. Crossing the international date line, and flying for twelve hours had confused my circadian rhythm, so I was awake enough to start an explorative stroll of Ponsonby the second morning we were in New Zealand. The first morning was spent straggling through customs and immigration at the Auckland Airport, navigating the airport rental car services, and wandering along freeways to Ponsonby without GPS. The air was still crisp when I set out toward Ponsonby Road. The morning commute into central Auckland had not started; as soon as I turned from Ponsonby Terrace on to the main street I was met with a parade of dog walkers, and lycra wearing joggers and cyclists. As I sauntered along, dodging and weaving the colourful lycra, I had serious thoughts about buying a pair of lycra compression jogging shorts to wear to walk the neighbourhood, or the long corridors of Westroads.

image source:jmcadam

I sat on a steel mesh bench at the back of a harbour ferry chatting to a couple of Kiwi pensioners as the Auckland skyline was defining itself. The pensioners lived just outside of Auckland, and because pensioners can travel for free on trains, and selected bus and ferry services, after 9am on weekdays, they were treating themselves to a day trip to Davenport. They were going to wander around the boutiques, galleries, parks, cafes of Davenport. I walked to the North Head Historic Reserve; the grassy cliff top looking out to Auckland City and the Waitemata Harbour is a welcoming resting spot.

image source:jmcadam

Mission Bay is a short drive from Auckland’s Central Business District; it’s a sheltered white sand beach with grassy areas alongside a vibrant strip of cafés, restaurants, bars, and a dairy. If I had only been told a dairy is a corner shop or milk bar, I would have tried a hokey pokey the first day in New Zealand. Kiwi’s love hokey pokey; vanilla ice cream that has small lumps of honeycomb toffee folded into it. Back in the early sixities I couldn’t get enough of hokey pokey; it was Johnny Chester’s and the Thunderbirds first record and was a top 10 hit in Melbourne.

After a few days in Auckland I had conquered the AT HOP public transport fare card, learned to recognise a dairy, and decided I had no interest in doing the Harbour Bridge climb or bungee juming from the top of Sky Tower. It was time to venture North to visit; the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the birthplace of New Zealand and a museum of Māori tradition and culture, the township of Russell, New Zealand’s first sea port and first European settlement, the mythical Hokianga Harbour and Kauri Coast, or the Hundertwasser Toilet. We headed off to the Hundertwasser, Kawakawa mosaic marvel; it’s not every day that you get to visit a loo that’s a world renowned attraction. If you’re going to drive three hours to visit a public dunny, that’s crowded with camera toting sightseers and internationally recognised as a work of art, you have to make it worthwhile; you’d better be well prepared.

image source:skmcadam

Well prepared means a full bladder to ensure an all powerful stream to move the trough lolly across the irregular colourful ceramics. Doctors say that if you’ve got a healthy system your bladder can comfortably hold about two cups of urine for two to five hours. It was to late now to start any bladder training; if we had planned on visiting the Hundertwasser Toilet before leaving the US I would have started some sort of training to stretch the bladder muscle. I just had to improvise and prepare the best I could. It was a little over a three hour drive straight up State Highway 1 to the Kawakawa mosaic marvel, so I figured a few glasses of kiwi fruit juice and a couple of cans of L&P before leaving Auckland should put me right; and if I throw in a few extra cans of L&P to top up the bladder about 25 miles outside of Kawakawa then my bladder should be ready for the mosaics.

image source:jmcadam

Kiwi’s love their L&P; a light yellow fizzy soft drink that was traditionally made by mixing lemon juice with the special carbonated mineral water from Paeroa. Hence the name L&P. Coca Cola now makes L&P and I don’t think they use the original special mineral water; maybe that’s why I gave it the same taste rating as hokey pokey. Now I’m all for Kiwi’s claiming L&P and hokey pokey ice cream as their own, but it’s stretching it when they start claiming pavlova, Weet-Bix, lamingtons, ANZAC biscuits, meat pies, and flat white coffee; why not invent a Marmite smoothie to claim as their own. All it would take is whacking a couple of tablespoons of Marmite into a blender with a cup of milk, throwing in a heap of peeled kiwi fruit cut into chunks, a few chopped feijoas and dollop of manuka honey, and then blending until smooth.

image source:skmcadam

And that would be a perfect addition to two of the smoothies at Elaine’s Kitchen; Topical Happiness is a smoothie full of those vitalising nutrients that increase happy hormones, pineapple, peach, mango, chia seeds, passionfruit and coconut, and the Choco Engerizer is full of the energizing elements, banana, maca root powder, cacao powder, peanut butter and almond milk. Elaine’s is on Kawakawa’s main street just a few shops down from the famous public thunderbox. Elaine and her mum Shelly run the restaurant, and they focus on foods and cakes that are gluten, dairy, and refined sugar free. Elaine didn’t bat an eye when we ordered a lamb salad without the lamb, and a lamb burger with the lamb; the traditional burger egg and pineapple was replaced by whipped feta and beetroot, baby spinach, sautéed onions and nana’s relish.

image source:jmcadam

We chatted over a flat white and a few gluten free bliss balls and slices, made only with the good sugar, and because Elaine had at one time lived in Auckland we felt comfortable in asking if she knew how we could go by the black sand beach on the way back to Auckland; she consulted with her mum, and they gave us wonderful hand written directions. Knowing that we had at least a two hour drive to the black sand beach we bid farewell, and visited, for one last practical and philosophical cause, the Hundertwasser Toilet.

Even though three in four Kiwi’s live in the North Island it’s a sparsely populated landscape. State Highway 16 is a two lane road meandering through rolling rural countryside; without a lot of directional signage. We never did find the black sand beach. We should have trusted Elaine’s directions. After driving for some time and feeling lost in the rolling hills and lush farmlands we turned around so as to double back onto the main road leading to Auckland.

image source:jmcadam

Maybe I should start collecting glass bottles, ceramic tiles, computer motherboards, vintage cutlery, Tesla coils, and old refrigerator parts to create assemblages and a bench for the backyard. It would be a space for art, humankind and nature to mingle; a self reflection garden of whimsy. Just a thought.

 

Elaines Kitchen Facebook

Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Johnny Chester; The Hokey Pokey

Advertisements

If You Don’t Know What You’re Doing Then You’ll Do Something Else

I remember when you went to a travel agent to plan your holidays. After meeting with the agent, and talking about your holiday, you would leave with a handshake and a firm assurance of see you next week. Next week the agent, as you sat facing them, would open your travel documents folder and slide each document across their desk; it was upside down to them but facing you. They would explain your itinerary while unfolding a collection of three-fold brochures; local events and tourist attractions at each town, and day side-trips and excursions. They would have made overnight accommodation reservations, which always included a cooked breakfast, at holiday friendly hotels and motels, or booked you into a caravan park or a holiday flat. And then with a flourish, the agent would produce from the drawer in their desk your railway or airline tickets. Even though the jet age had arrived in Australia most Australians still took the train to their holiday destination; but they were starting to take to the road. Australia was falling in love with it’s own car; the Holden was the king of the road. Family holidays were becoming long road trips with a caravan in tow, and mum sitting in the front seat next to dad.

image source:photobucket

I don’t remember mum and dad going to a travel agent for our holiday road trips to Sydney, Surfers Paradise, Canberra, and what must have been all of Victoria’s country towns. But I don’t think mum would have agreed to these holidays if she didn’t know where we were going to stay and how we were getting there. Dad was the one who wouldn’t have wanted any planning; but he must have gone into the city headquarters of the RACV and picked up road maps and pamphlets on the best routes to take and the condition of the roads, brochures on scenic attractions, leaflets about hotels that catered to the motorist, and handouts on the leading caravan parks and camping grounds. As a member of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria you felt a sense of eminence and entitlement; it was as if our holidays had been approved by Her Royal Majesty. Dad drove the old Princess Highway to Sydney. I only remember the huge open pits of the SEC’s coal mines at Moe and Yallourn, stopping in Lakes Entrance, and the Jenolan Caves and Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains.

image source:sydneyaffairs.com

The only planning I did when I went searching for inspiration and idealism in the ordinary was to buy a ticket for a berth in tourist class, below the water line, on Lloyd Triestino’s Galileo Galilei, and for the second quest an economy class ticket on Thai Airways. The journey to the US was done with the same amount of planning; a stuffed Adidas gym bag and a Qantas economy class ticket. In the last thirty plus years travelling to Australia, United Kingdom, and throughout the US has been for holidays; and for most of these trips, accommodation, car rental, places to visit, and the sights to see have been decided on before the journeys. Some say that planning the itinerary is part of the holiday. However, I don’t think the planning should be so detailed and absolute that it forbids any spur of the moment detours or flexibility.

On the most recent trip to the The Land Down Under we had planned to stop over in the North Island of New Zealand for a little over a week, and then head off to Melbourne and an Airbnb in Albert Park. We had reserved a rental car for the first week in Melbourne so as to meander around the Mornington Peninsula wineries, drive to Castlemaine, and then rekindle faded memories by cruising some of the Melbourne suburbs that we used to haunt. The itinerary also included a couple of walking tours, high teas, and building tours. Sometime during the holiday we were going to visit my brother and cousin Peter. We phoned my cousin when we arrived in Melbourne, and on the spur of the moment invited him on our day trip to Castlemaine; and so we headed off to the historic goldfields area of Victoria. On the drive back we spontaneously suggested we call on him next week for vanilla slices and cups of tea.

image source:pixabay

My cousin Peter has lived in Moonee Ponds for over thirty years. I remember when he bought the flat; we thought he had a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock. Moonee Ponds was just Moonee Ponds; a nondescript inner suburb of Melbourne bordered by Braybrook, Maidstone, Brunswick, and Essendon. Back then, anywhere past Footscray was off limits for a Williamstown boy. Besides, Essendon was the home of the bombers; the rough and tough football team of the seventies. The only supporters of the bombers were those that lived within the shadow of Windy Hill; and if you were a true sons of the scray you hated Essendon. Edna Everidge also lived in Moonee Ponds. Edna is a character created by Australian satirist Barry Humpheries; originally a drab Melbourne housewife satirising suburbia. Edna is now a Dame, and is known for her lilac coloured wisteria hair and cat eye glasses. Her favourite flower is the gladiolus or gladdie, and she greets everyone with an affectionate Hello, Possums.

image source:skmcadam

After catching the train to Moonee Ponds we station met Peter at the Rusty Duck. Just as we finished our flat whites and latte, Peter in a casual way, suggested a walk to Queens Park. He guided us along, and through streets lined with well maintained nature strips and Federation style brick and weatherboard houses. And we crossed the traffic busy, tree lined Mt Alexander Road into Queens Park. We aimlessly meandered along the winding gravel pathways, across grassways, and around huge shady trees; past the rose and sunken gardens, around the swimming pool and the restored curator cottage that is now a café, and skirted the bowling club and lake. Queens Park was laid out to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Silver Jubilee. The original swamp that became the park was a camp site for gold seekers heading to Victoria’s newly discovered Castlemaine gold fields on their first night out of Melbourne; and explorers Burke and Wills used it for their first camp on their ill fated expedition. Today you can hop on board the #59 Airport West-Flinders Street Station City tram and it will take you right past Queens Park. Before leaving Moonee Ponds you shouldn’t forego the opportunity for a self guided viewing tour of the peds migrating to Queens Park; you’ll be amazed by this magical procession, but will need to refrain from using camera flashes. I imagine it’s only a matter of time before they build an elevated wooden viewing stand.

image source:jmcadam

And I had always thought Moonee Ponds was just Moonee Ponds; a nondescript inner suburb of Melbourne.

On the way back to Peter’s flat we made an impromptu stop at a Puckle Street cake shop for lamingtons and vanilla slices, and a spur of the moment pie and sauce. The kettle was soon boiling and my taste buds were reunited with the heavenly taste of the vanilla slice. It must have been the pleasurable encounter with the vanilla slice that caused Peter to make the off the cuff suggestion of watching Cinerama. As he fished around for the DVD we reminisced, and tested our memories about Melbourne’s first Cinerama theatre; the Plaza was underneath the Regent Theatre and  Cinerama was installed in the late fifties. Peter soon found the DVD and the travelogue style Cinerama Holiday on the big screen TV caused joyous gushings of Todd AO, 3 projectors, glorious technicolour and stereophonic sound, curved screen; and the point of view bobsled ride produced murmurs of; it’s just like 3-D, just like you were there. And that gave rise to Peter spontaneously finding 3-D glasses, and swapping the Cinerama Holiday DVD with MGM’s 3-D colour musical Kiss Me Kate; starring Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, and Ann Miller.

image source:jmcadam

I sat spell bound on the couch, that at one time had resting on it the doilies from Prince Charles’s and Diana’s seats when they visited a Hoyts theatre in Melbourne. The sizzling Ann Miller spent time dancing on Fred Graham’s coffee table and throwing her chiffon scarf at the audience, and tap dancing in front of the three-fold mirror in Fred’s apartment; Too Darn Hot doesn’t advance or contribute to the plot, but it was great 3D.

It’s strange how the unplanned guides you with unexpected, but connected surprises. A few days after savouring Cinerama and 3-D at Peter’s we did an off the top of the head visit to the Melbourne Aquarium; my brother’s grandchildren prompted this free spirited decision. It was easy to forget about the aquatic animals, the mysterious stingrays and jellyfish, and seahorses, because there was the fully immersive, eye popping, high energy nine minute 4-D movie Ice Age: No Time For Nuts. Scrat, a nut crazed sabre toothed tiger battles a wonky time machine that has zapped his beloved nut. Now that’s a story line. The 3-D projection is combined with vibrating seats, water spray, snow falling, and strobe lights. The little ones really enjoyed the experience but I think it could have been enhanced with a 3-D Ann Miller dance routine from MGM’s Deep In My Heart.

image source:giphy.com

And when I think back and remember the highlights, and experiences of that recent time in the The Land Down Under and New Zealand I wonder if

  • an Art Deco dining experience at the 1932 Café and Restaurant in the Manchester Unity Building and then a formal guided tour of the building
  • a traditional high tea of freshly baked scones with jam and cream, exquisite pastries and finger sandwiches served on tiered stands, and freshly brewed tea at the Strangers Corridor restaurant in Parliament House of Victoria
  • being immersed in the history of Australian art by the The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia collection; it includes photography, prints and drawings, fashion and textiles, decorative arts from the colonial period and the Heidelberg School, through to the present day
  • sipping a chilled glass of white wine at the Pt Leo Estate on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula; a winery, restaurant and sculpture park with stunning views of Western Port Bay and a distant Phillip Island
  • strolling through eclectic St Kilda; home of Luna Park, the Victorian Heritage Register St Kilda pier, fine dining restaurants and old European cake shops, the Esplanade Market, and the colony of little penguins

or if taking in the lawn bowls at the Moonee Ponds Bowling Club in Queens Park, and watching Kiss Me Kate in 3-D will be the keepsake memories. I should put aside some random time in the next few weeks to start planning a spur of the moment trip to somewhere; I wonder if you can watch 3-D films in Liechtenstein.

 

Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium

Kiss Me Kate

Queens Park

I’ll Have The Takeaway To Go

Every time I wear an oversize pair of lobster claws I start thinking about crayfish stacked in neat rows in a fish shop window. Growing up I didn’t know about lobsters; only crayfish and yabbies. I remember going yabbing a couple of times; it must have been in my late teens and with a few mates. We had driven somewhere into the near bush just outside of Melbourne to find a fresh water stream. How to catch yabbies is just something you grow up instinctively knowing how to do; the same as you know what brussel sprouts taste like, that rain will make you wet, and kangaroos can’t walk backwards.

image source:jmcadam

I found the most successful method for yabbing to be:

  • Crack open a VB
  • Tie a piece of meat to a few feet of string
  • Tie one end of the string to a stick and push the stick into the bank
  • Throw the end of the string with the meat into the water
  • Crack open another VB
  • Wait until the string pulls tight; a yabby has grabbed the meat in it’s claws and is trying to make off with it
  • Crack open one more VB
  • Pull the string slowly back to the bank
  • When you can just reach the meat and the yabby scoop them out of the water with a net; or use a shoe box or anything from the car boot that can be used as a scoop
  • Crack open yet another VB
  • Repeat the above

Most times you’d buy a fresh cray to cook at home in a pot of boiling water, or to save yourself some work a red coloured cooked one, from the fish and chip shop. I didn’t eat a lot of cray; If I had to I’d crack open the claws for bits of fresh white meat. I never sucked the head to savour what some people claimed was the most moist and flavourful of the cray. I don’t think crayfish have a brain so I don’t really know what you’d be sucking out of the head when you did the head suck; probably chunks of crayfish fatty gel stuff that’s been spiced up with the seasoning’s from the boiling water used to cook the cray.

image source:pixabay

Even though Australia was introduced to a new range of smells, tastes and ingredients at the end of the Second World War by Italian, Greek, Turkish and Lebanese immigrants it took time for these new ethnic cuisines to transform Australian restaurants, and culinary traditions. Instead, it seemed as if every fruit shop, milk bar, and fish and chip shop was owned by a Greek, Turkish or Lebanese family. And the Italian immigrants opened pizza shops. Australian takeaway was transformed; it became more than a pie and sauce. Takeaway fish and chips became a Friday night treat when we were growing up. Dad would drive to the fish and chip shop in Melbourne Road and come back with a newspaper wrapped parcel; the newspapers were moist with the frier fat from the fish and chips, and potato cakes, that had soaked through the papers.

image source:foodandtravelfun.com

Newport’s Melbourne Road also had a pizza shop. Back then pizzas were exotic and mysterious; and the names only added to their mystic. I remember the Capricciosa and Neapolitan; we only ordered what we knew. The Capricciosa came with tomato paste, cheese, chopped ham, mushroom, and diced olives, but sometimes you would ask for no olives. And the Neapolitan was tomato paste, cheese, mushrooms, chopped olives, and anchovies, but you never ate the anchovies. The backup pizza was the Capri; tomato paste, cheese, chopped ham, and mushroom. And then the Italian pizza shop owners started to make the Hawaiian; tomato paste, cheese, chopped ham, and pineapple. I don’t think mum liked pizza. At first we didn’t have it as a Friday night treat; but as teenagers it was not uncommon to see a Capricciosa on the kitchen table.

I grew up with fish and chips and pizza as takeaways, and the pie and sauce from the corner milk bar or cake shop. I don’t count the Chinese shop in Williamstown’s Nelson Place as a take away. It was a sit down restaurant, but you could take your own saucepan into the shop and have it filled with your own takeaway. People would queue up on Friday nights for a saucepan full of their favourite takeaway Chinese food; sweet and sour pork, chop suey, or fried rice. The Chinese was also a great stop after a Saturday of consuming ice colds with the mates for a takeaway bag of steamed dimmies.

image source:deanoworldtravels.wordpress.com

There’s a lot I don’t remember from the sixties and seventies but I do remember the first McDonalds that opened in Melbourne’s Swanston Street. Macca’s had been building a presence in Melbourne’s suburbs since the early seventies, but the opening of an overseas takeaway shop in the centre of the city caused the next transformation of the takeway. A few years ago when I was back holidaying in Melbourne it seemed as if I came across an American fast food shop with every step I took, every corner that I turned, and every outing down a suburban street; Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Hungry Jacks (aka Burger King) and Subway were everywhere. I could have been in any main street USA. Last year when I was back in Melbourne the Americanisation of the Australian takeaway was all but complete. Not only was Krispy Kreme, TGI Fridays, Dunkin Donuts, Mrs. Fields, Gloria Jeans, Starbuck’s, and the Outback Steakhouse now on every second corner but most of the fast food shops had added a drive through and a playground for the little ones, and had introduced extended open hours. Seven Eleven was also on every third corner; each with an over supply of cellophane wrapped, tasty, corporate takeaway meat pies, pasties, and sausage rolls.

image source:facebook.com

The Outback Steakhouse restaurants in Australia have dropped some of the exaggerated, pseudo Australianisms that you come across in the American franchises; you’re not going to find a kookaburra wings party platter, Aussie cheese fries, or Alice Springs Chicken and Gold Coast Coconut Shrimp on the Down Under menu. The American Outback Steakhouses promote the Alice Springs Chicken and Gold Coast Coconut Shrimp as an 8 oz wood fired grilled chicken, topped with sauteed mushrooms, crisp bacon, melted Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses, and Honey Mustard Sauce, paired with shrimp that are hand dipped in batter, rolled in coconut and fried until golden. And it’s served with Aussie Fries.

Alice Springs is a remote outback Northern Territory town, rich with Australian pioneering history and culture, halfway between Darwin and Adelaide; it’s surrounded by red dirt and mountain ranges. You’re not going to find a lot of plump chickens or mushrooms around Alice; instead you’ll find bush tucker. Outback Steakhouse could easily introduce genuine Australian menu selections, table service, and takeaway traditions into it’s 1,000 plus worldwide restaurants. I would ditch the Alice Springs Chicken and replace it with a selection of either kangaroo fillet, crocodile patties, camel rissoles, or an Aussie burger with the lot; meat, lettuce, egg, bacon, pineapple, cheese, beetroot and sauce. And any menu selection should be cooked on the table with a make shift barbie.

image source:jmcadam

The Outback menu needs to be Australian; no Aussie is going to call a prawn a shrimp. Gold Coast Coconut Shrimp should be Gold Coast Coconut Prawn, lobster tails would become cray tails, Alice Springs Chicken becomes The Alice Chook, and Outback Center Cut Sirloin would be Back of Bourke Scotch Fillet. Ordering at the Outback would become something like:

Outback Steakhouse Server: G’day mate, how you goin!
Guest: G’day mate!
Outback Steakhouse Server: Wanna blow the froth of a few while yu take a squiz at the menu?
Guest: I’ll wrap the laughing gear round a VB; I’m as dry as a drovers dog
Outback Steakhouse Server: Only got Fourex or New on draught
Guest: No worries, mate! she’ll be right, just give us yu top drop
Outback Steakhouse Server: And for yu tucker?
Guest: Coat of Arms Burger; how much emu is on it?
Outback Steakhouse Server: No worries; fair size patty, same as the kanga

If Outback Steakhouse adopted these modest suggestions it would become more than the home of juicy steaks, spirited drinks and Aussie hospitality.

image source:mashable.com

Long John Silvers tried to make a go of it in Australia a little over 10 years ago. They thought they would be successful by just serving Fish, Chicken and Shrimp Platters with Hushpuppies, Baked Cod with 2 sides and Hushpuppies, and Family Meals made up of mix and match fish and chicken; and not follow the eleven rules of a dinkum Aussie fish and chip shop.

1. Owned and run by a hard working immigrant Greek family
2. Serves only own home made chips from their own potatoes; frozen chips from a bag are unacceptable
3. Serves only own home made potato cakes that are dipped in batter just before being dropped in the deep fryer
4. Only sells pickled onions out of a plastic jar on the counter; the price must be written on the side with a felt tip marker
5. Cannot sell any food that doesn’t live in the water; pizza, kebabs, green beans, corn, onion rings, and chicken is a no-no
6. Has a multi coloured plastic door strip to keep the flies out
7. Fresh fish is displayed on crushed ice in the front window
8. Must have fried and steamed dim sims that come from a frozen plastic bag.
9. Prices are written in chalk on a board above the fryers
10. Soft drinks fridge has a sign which says; please select before opening door
11. Only have salt and vinegar in recycled soft drink bottles with holes poked in the screw top cap on the counter; tomato sauce is forbidden

I’m sure that Long John Silver’s will try it one more time Down Under, and because Red Lobster, Captain D’s, or a start up US fast food seafood restaurant will want to expand into the The Lucky Country, my suggestion would be to Australianise the US franchise shops with the fish shop rules as soon as possible. Australianising would put them on a good wicket for a move into the Lucky Country.

image source:jmcadam

But there still are lots of family owned traditional fish and chip, pizza, Middle Eastern and Asian shops nestled in suburban shopping centres; and they uphold the tradition and heritage of the time honoured Australian takeaway. I really should think about doing a takeaway make over to my dinners. I could do a burger with the lot by adding a few lettuce leaves, beetroot, pineapple, and a few strips of bacon to a Jimmy Dean sausage, egg and cheese, English muffin sandwich. Even though a pizza with prawn cutlets and roast beetroot would take a bit of work I think it would be a winner:

Roast Beetroot: Drizzle a couple of beetroot with water, wrap them in foil and roast for 45-55 minutes. Let cool, then peel and slice thinly
Prawn Cutlets: Butterfly half a pound of tails intact, peeled, deveined prawns and whack each one with a rolling pin. Dip each prawn in flour, egg, and breadcrumb. Deep fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towel and sprinkle with salt
Preparation: Take a half cooked Thin Crust Lean Cuisine Margherita pizza and add the roast beetroot and prawn cutlets; finish cooking

 

Australian food and drink

Australian food history timeline – First Australian McDonald’s

A time when we were all rapt for a Friday night of fish and chips

If You Say Sausage Backwards Quickly It Could Sound Like Pirates

I hope switching to QVC the home shopping channel every time I turn on the television isn’t habit forming; I started this routine just over a week ago. They say it takes anywhere from 2 to 8 months to introduce a new behaviour to your life through repetition; when the new behaviour becomes automatic you have a new habit. I don’t switch the channel to QVC for online shopping, I just want to understand the popularity of David Venable. Dave hosts his twice a week show, In the Kitchen With David; and you can find him at other times selling anything from electric razors to FrostGuard windscreen and wiper covers. But Dave is more at home selling egg poachers, frozen crab cakes, backyard smokers, silicone crisping mats, ceramic bakers with lids, and crumb cake assortments. At the start of every show Dave shares one of his delicious recipes with all of his kitchen foodies out there.

image source:youtube

And I impulsively raise my arms, and even though I stay seated on the couch I dance along with Dave whenever I hear: it’s time for a happy dance. It’s the ultimate compliment that Dave can bestow on a product. In the Kitchen With David gets thousands of phone calls from his foodie fans from all over the country; all of them hoping for a chance to speak with Dave. I still don’t understand the popularity of David Venable.

Last Sunday I turned on the television, and switched the channel to QVC. Before the picture stabilised I heard Meredith Laurence proclaiming: after performing double duty as either a colander or steamer, both the large and small strainers conveniently collapse for compact, easy storage; maximise your kitchen storage space with this set of two silicone strainers. And when the picture appeared Meredith’s hands were a blur, as she demonstrated to Dave how the colanders expanded from flat to full size; it was if she was playing the accordion in a polka band. I fixated on the squashed, compressed, flat colander and mulled over the predicament that Pastafarians would now be faced with.

image source:jmcadam

Bobby Henderson first documented the philosophies and central beliefs of the church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster:

  • An invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe.
  • The pasta strainer or colander is considered as religious head wear in the church.
  • Pastafarians are encouraged to wear a colander to work and for photo ID’s.
  • Pirates are revered as the original Pastafarians.
  • The decline in the number of pirates over the years is the cause of global warming.

I was just a young lad, entering my teenager years, when Errol Flynn set sail for the big pirate island in the sky. Australian males admired Errol as a great bloke, and a shinning example of Aussie swashbuckling manhood; both on and off the screen. And he was the role model that all youngsters wanted to become.

image source:fffmoviepostermuseum.com

Captain Blood was the breakout performances for Errol, and his future movie career would be threaded with action packed pirate blockbusters. Errol was the greatest Australian pirate of all times. And we still wonder if the passing of the Pirate from Down Under precipitated a series of slow climate changes that caused a difference in the weather patterns Down Under. Over the years, summer weather in Melbourne has become unpredictable. The November of 2017 produced the coldest start to a November in 20 plus years, and presented the longest November heatwave in more than 150 years. In early December the city was predicted to be lashed with heavy rains and unprecedented thunderstorms.

image source:jmcadam

The apocalyptic weather predicted for Melbourne didn’t come to pass, but severe thunderstorms did drench the city for two consecutive nights; the city received it’s total December rains. Fear of the damage to be caused by the torrential rains and floods was instilled in most Melburnians by the Bureau of Meteorology and the State’s dramatic weather warnings. It was mid to late Saturday morning when my brother turned the Hyundi mini bus into the Altona Bunnings Wharehouse. Friday night’s rain had eased and the morning was overcast; I was expecting to see a crowd of Bunnings Sausage Sizzler aficionados. Similar to all Bunning Warehouses, Bunnings Altona hosts a sizzle every Saturday and Sunday. The sizzle serves as a fund raiser and is run by local charities, sports clubs, and other community organisations. Sizzles start around mid morning, and last until the snags are gone. On this Saturday the Altona Bunnings Sausage Sizzle was nowhere to be seen.

image source:jmcadam

The key cutting counter was by the front door. I picked out a hot pink purple aluminium domestic house key blank for my new key. As the sound of the key cutting machine started I shouted out to the key cutting lady:

Me: Where’s the sizzle?
Bunnings Key Cutting Lady: (the reply came unexpected) Cancelled because of the rain
Me: (with astonished disbelief) Wwwwhat; but there’s no rain now
Bunnings Key Cutting Lady: Cancelled because of the rain
Me: Who cancels because of rain?
Bunnings Key Cutting Lady: (emphatic) The Taste of Melbourne, Polo in the City, Opera in the Bowl, the Arts Centre Outdoor Christmas Market, the Victoria Tennis Premier League, and all grades of Victorian Premier Cricket
Me: But the sizzle?
Bunnings Key Cutting Lady: Cancelled because of the rain
Me: (with negativity) Next they’ll be sizzling vegan bangers

Forget that North Korea was threatening to bomb the world; I was stumbling around until Monday morning trying to understand why a Bunnings Sausage Sizzle was cancelled because of rain. I was experiencing chargrilled snag withdrawal. I aimlessly walked the streets thinking only of caramelised onions, lashings of tomato sauce, sliced soft white bread, and barbecued snags. The sun was announcing the end to the predicted apocalyptic weather by seeping through the last of the thin clouds. As the sky cleared and became a brilliant blue I realised my salvation, I would have my own sizzle.

image source:anon

We were staying in a airbnb that had an outdoor Weber barbecue. The Coles Supermarket was close by. With a packet of Coles classic all Australian beef sausages, a loaf of sliced white bread, and a plastic bottle of tomato sauce I walked jauntily, with a skip in my step, to my home away from home to fire up the Weber. At the start I committed one of the cardinal sins of good sizzling; I constantly prodded and turned the snags until my anxiousness was replaced by the long lost subtlety of barbecuing the banger. I looked down at the Weber grill rack; 10 of the little beauties just sizzling away. Nothing would dampen my sausage sizzle.

I wrapped 2 of the chargrilled snags in their own slice of buttered white bread, and smothered each of them with tomato sauce. My lips quivered as I raised a sizzle to my mouth. And I remembered you don’t eat a sizzle from the side, you eat it from one of the ends; I bit down. The sausage juices melted the butter, and they mixed with the tomato sauce and soaked into the white bread, and I heard: it’s time for a happy dance. I impulsively raised my hands, and the sizzle was thrust into the air.

image source:gourmandandgourmet.com.au

My eyes were closed, and I was a picture of bliss until I was stopped in mid chew; I bit down on a small hard object. I emptied my mouth of chewed sizzle, the slurry of white bread, sauce and butter, and let my tongue fish around the inside of my mouth until it found the small hard object I had bitten down on. Because it looked like a piece of tooth I let my curious tongue probe my teeth and look for a jagged void. I removed my one tooth partial denture, and my inquisitive tongue found a jagged rough edge on the outer side of one of the teeth that holds the metal clasp of the partial denture. I had found the home of the broken piece of tooth. I pushed the partial denture back between it’s teeth, and took another bite of the sizzle; and I thought, there’s nothing that should stop a good sizzle. I knew the tooth had to stay; it was an anchor to the partial denture. That meant a crown to repair and strengthen it.

The next morning I waited for the pain to start, and by the next day it still hadn’t started. It was a couple of days before I would be back in the US, and I though if I zeroed in on soft foods then maybe I could ride out the pain of the jagged void. I ate meat pies, fish and chips, milk soaked corn flakes, sausage rolls, lamingtons, and vanilla slices. The night before leaving I warded off any potential gum infection and pain with several sips of ice cold Melbourne Bitter.

image source:carltondraft.com

I slept the first day back in the US. The next morning the backrest of the dental chair was lowered and I was in a reclining position. I had the one tooth partial denture in my hand and was mindlessly pushing one of the sharp ends of the clasp under the finger nail of my thumb. I told the whole sizzle saga to my dentist; the mirror and pick were in my mouth, and he was exploring the jagged void.

Dentist: I don’t see a chipped tooth; the edge is a little rough, I could smooth it out a bit but I don’t want to take much off because it anchors the partial
Me: What about the bone I found in my mouth
Dentist: Must have been in the sausage
Me: It was in the sausage?? ….. It was in the sausage!!!
Dentist: It was in the sausage
The Dentist’s Suite: (shouts of) It was in the sausage

image source:pixabay

I slid my legs onto the floor and sat on the edge of the dental chair trying to figure it all out. If a pirate’s life is months on end sailing the high seas, plundering, pillaging and looting, and winds are buffeting their galleon, and mountains of angry waves are keeping the decks awash with salty water, and if they can only trade for fresh food when they land then the food has to become mouldy and rotten because they don’t have fridges or freezers; so they would get sick and their teeth would fallout out, and without teeth it would be hard for them to eat a sausage sizzle.

I think I will celebrate the next International Talk Like a Pirate Day by asking people over for a sausage sizzle in the back yard.

 

International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Pastafariansism

How to Run a Bunnings Barbecue Sausage Sizzle

Why Not Take A Six Month Holiday Twice A Year

There are several things that I remember about a sojourn back to Australia a few years ago. After settling back into Melbourne for three weeks and becoming a Melburnian again I headed off north to the Reef and the Rain Forest, and then flew from Darwin back home to the US. I may tell people about the four o’clock in the morning dash, in the hotel mini van, to the Darwin hospital and the two day stay there. What I tell everybody about though is the airport shuttle van ride to the beach side coastal hotel and the ride back from the hotel to the airport. From the airport to the hotel the shuttle van was bursting with excited, overjoyed, lively people who were thrilled to be starting their holidays. From the hotel to the airport the shuttle was crammed with excited, overjoyed, upbeat people who had finished their holiday and were thrilled to be coming home. Holidays are strange like that. From that time on I wanted to drive an airport shuttle bus when I retired.

image source:jmcadam

I knew that I was sinking further and further down into the hard moulded resin seat at gate A4 in the Phoenix Airport because when I stared straight ahead into the dark floor to ceiling windows all I could see was the reflection of heads in the waiting area resin seats. There weren’t many waiting for the flight; I think it was after eight o’clock on a Tuesday night and that meant landing in Omaha around midnight. The little ones had given up playing on the floor, and throwing their small stuffed animals as far as they could and running after them; the information screen over the airline desk showed the flight was on time and was scheduled to arrive in Omaha around 11:30pm. I think the reason I was sinking further and further down into the hard moulded resin seat was because I was coming home from a holiday and had been travelling for the last twenty five plus hours.

image source:jmcadam

I wasn’t really sinking; my shoulders and head were bobbing and floating more so than all of me sinking. Before arriving back home in Omaha I would have crossed the international date line and three time zones. I arrived back in the US the same morning, and an hour before, I left my destination. I really don’t like leaving Melbourne. I’m not excited, overjoyed or upbeat about heading back home from a Down Under holiday; the last thing I do is order a flat white or latte and think about what I will miss. The coffee, unless it’s ordered as a take-a-way is always served in a ceramic or glass coffee cup. But there is a happiness to coming home. The announcement from gate A4 stopped my lusting for a flat white, and stopped my head bobbing

The aircraft at gate A4 has been withdrawn from service.
Would passengers please proceed to gate A8.
A replacement aircraft is being delivered from the hanger.
We will keep you updated on departure time.
We hope to have you in the air as soon as possible.

And I sleepily thought; the aircraft from the hanger will have to be cleaned, fuelled, filled with pretzels and coca cola, seat belts tidily crossed on top of seat cushions, vomit bags neatly arranged in the seat back pockets, and safety checks completed; I wondered what “we hope to have you in the air as soon as possible” meant. Even though I was fuddled by lack of sleep I clearly thought this could take hours. A small smile crossed my tired lips when I thought that because of these extra hours, I could challenge any coming home from a holiday travelling braggart when they posted their extreme number of hours in transit; and I could also regale my friends with harrowing stories of what happens to your brain, physical dexterity, and coordination when you’re deprived of sleep. And I became excited, overjoyed, upbeat, and thrilled to be coming home to Omaha from a holiday. The aircraft was delivered from the hanger to gate A8; apart from safety checks and fuelling it was ready to depart. We arrived in Omaha 15 minutes later than scheduled.

image source:jmcadam

I personally recommend doing the following as soon as you set foot in the house when you return from a holiday to preserve the thrill of the homecoming, and to purge any withdrawal symptoms

1. Grab a stubbie holder and crack open a few cold ones, cans of ginger ale, or Bloody Mary mix.
2. Turn on the telly and binge watch the Travel Channel.
3. Practice the language of the country you’ve just left.

If you have returned from a holiday in Australia practice the use of the word bastard. Remember that how bastard is being used, defines if it is a friendly reference to a mate or a vulgar version of bloke. A great example of the use of bastard is from the Body Line cricket tour, when the English Captain Douglas Jardine told the Australian captain Bill Woodfull that one of his team members had called him a bastard. Woodfull turned to the dressing room and roared out, at the top of his voice, Which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard.

4. Eat small packets of pretzels, honey nuts, or trail mix.
5. Commit to starting a new hobby that reflects where you have been on holiday.

If you have returned from a holiday in Australia your new hobby should be stealing stuff from work. Office supplies are a good start. Make sure that you are caught stealing as soon as you start this new new hobby because stealing from work is a rite of passage with the mates. And the expected response to the boss to avoid being disciplined is shrugging your shoulders and saying; Well it wasn’t nailed down was it.

The next morning tried hard to dampen my excitement, joy, and thrill of coming home from a holiday. I read the email from the neighbour who had been starting, at irregular times, the cars parked in the garage and the drive way. The last time she tried to start the driveway car the battery was flat. She called AAA to jump start the car, and then parked it in it’s usual place on the street. Even though I have been a member of AAA, or triple A as it is known, and have always had excellent service and support from the organisation, I’ve always thought the name to be somewhat less than grand; even a little common. I belonged to the RACV in Melbourne. As a member of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria I felt a sense of eminence and entitlement. The RACV provided the same services and products as AAA but I always thought that when the RACV bloke jump started my mini cooper it was by Appointment to Her Royal Majesty.

image source:northernnatalcourier

I tried not to let the thrill of coming home from a holiday be diminished by the dread of grappling with the car not starting, calling AAA, and then buying a new battery. It is said that a car battery can be fully charged by driving around for an hour without using the lights, radio, or any other electrical devices in the car; but the longer the battery has been dead, the longer it will take to fully recharge it. Because we had no idea of the charge remaining in the battery a long drive had to be the best option. We drove the car nine hundred miles to Houston, Texas, and 900 miles back to Omaha; thinking that two eight to nine hour driving days each way should take care of recharging the battery. I imagined the driving seat to be seat 25D on a Boeing 777-300; there wouldn’t be a drink trolley, choice of seat back entertainment, or stumbling over legs to get out of a cramped seat to walk without shoes, or any one to serve small packets of pretzels, honey nuts, trail mix, ginger ale, or Bloody Mary mix, we wouldn’t be travelling at 520mph, and we would have to stop for meals. It’s a good idea to take a three or four day road trip when you come home from a holiday, and before you feel that euphoric thrill of coming home starting to wane; repeated road trips up until the next holiday will ensure that the thrill of coming home will persist until you come home after the next holiday.

image source:jmcadam

The next morning persisted in trying to dampen my excitement, joy, and thrill of coming home after a holiday. As soon as the shower was turned on a waterfall of water cascaded from the shower head; every spray nozzle was blocked. I thought long and hard and mentally sifted through the recesses of way back. When I was growing up our kitchen wireless was always tuned to 3AW. Mum would sit at the kitchen table when the Martha Gardener show started and slowly dawdle through her lunch, and would finish up with her cup of tea, or instant coffee, just as Martha was winding up her show. Mum swore by Martha’s housekeeping tips and hints; use my Wool Mix for washing more than just woollens, and use vinegar to remove calcium build up residue from water. And so the shower head was soon resting in a small reservoir of vinegar. It didn’t take long for a pleasant vinegar smell to waft through the house; and if I closed my eyes I was at the counter of a fish and chip shop about to sprinkle my order of chips, flake, dim sims, potatoes cakes, and calamari with a few good squirts of vinegar. I was bursting with anticipation and excitement as I imagined the deliciousness of the basic order of fish and chips with a few dimmies. I spent the rest of the day bolstering the waning thrill of returning home from a holiday by smelling fish and chips and drinking countless glasses of lemon, lime, and bitters. It’s probably a good idea to soak or smear a household item with something that has an odour of the place that you have just returned from; and let the aroma remain in the house for several weeks. The thrill of returning home should persist as long as your refresh the distinctive smell.

image source:jmcadam

The thrill of coming home was continually challenged; the drainage outlet on the freezer had frozen and everything in the fridge and freezer had to be thrown away, including bottles of Mrs Ball’s chutney, HP sauce, and mint sauce, and I had to schedule a visit to the dentist to check on what I thought was a chipped tooth, and the car insurance had been cancelled, and the land line phone service was still not fixed after a month. I faced each challenge with an unflinching thrill of coming home.

I should have taken photos of each home coming challenge and uploaded them to Shuttefly to create a photo book to preserve all my favourite thrilled to be coming home digital memories as a beautiful coffee table book. I think that my friends would be gobsmacked looking through such a photo album.

 

How to Get Over Your Post-Vacation Blues

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body

Confessions of an Airport Shuttle Van Driver

Nobody Likes A Wayward Lump

It was that time on a summer evening when the sun’s shadows have reached their full length and the night is beginning. We had just left a Fish House and Oyster Bar restaurant. Omaha is better known for it’s steak houses than it’s seafood restaurants; maybe it goes back to the days of the Texas cattle drives when cattle were driven north to meet the Union Pacific railhead, or maybe it was Omaha’s livestock market, that at one time was the largest in the world. I was still savouring the faint, remaining taste of the remoulade and muffaletta relish from a Shrimp Po’ Boy when my attention was shifted back to the road lane I thought I was driving in; the front driver’s side wheel had thumped into a raised curb. I straightened the car into the lane and waited for the steering wheel to start juddering; the tyre had hit the curb with a large thump and I was certain the wheel was now buckled, or part of the front suspension and axle was bent. I thought no more about the taste of remoulade and muffaletta relish; I sped up and braked several times, and finished off with several jerking left and right sharp weaving turns.

image source:jmcadam

The left and right weaving and veering caused me to sway slightly in the seat; and I was taken back to those nights in the Land Down Under when I was driving the Mini Cooper home after bending the elbow with the mates. I’m not proud to admit it now, but once or twice, I would have had one too many ice colds and so I would close one eye to stop seeing double. With the double vision gone I would focus on the center line of the road and try and keep the Mini straight and parallel to the line. And the next morning the Mini wasn’t where I thought I had parked it the night before.

I didn’t feel any vibrations in the steering wheel so I thought no worries, she’ll be right; no damage done.

Most times when I’m driving on the interstate I follow the speed limit, or set the cruise control to just about five miles above the limit. It was in the early evening, the day after the tyre thump into the curb, when I accelerated to a 65mph speed limit, cruising speed, after leaving the on ramp. For the next 10 minutes I blissfully cruised Omaha’s Interstate 680. The next morning I was stopped in my tracks as I walked toward the car; my eyes became fixated on a large bulge on the sidewall of the front driver’s side tyre.

image source:consumeraffairs.com

It was if the tyre had developed a sebaceous cyst; filled not with fluid but hardened with air. As I stood staring at the tire cyst my right hand instinctively moved under my left arm pit and I started to feel for the lump.

For as long as I can remember I had this small lump just below the armpit on my left side; sometimes I would cradle the lump with my index and middle finger and jiggle it. Years ago the lump was diagnosed as a blocked gland; I was advised by the doctor that if it got any larger then I should see a doctor. After forty years the lump got larger. I never really noticed the lump getting larger but I started to feel the lump with the inside of my left arm; something I hadn’t felt before. I stood in front of the recessed bathroom vanity cupboard above the sink. I’d already removed my shirt, so I raised my left arm, and looked at the reflection of the lump in the vanity mirror.

image source:jmcadam

It was large. I cradled the lump with my index and middle finger, but before I could jiggle it a stream of yellow tinged, diluted blood red liquid, squirted onto the mirror. I let the lump rest for a couple of days. I raised my left arm, and this time instead of cradling the lump, pushed on it with my index finger; it released a stream of tinted red liquid. Overthe next several days I grew weary of cleaning and sanitising the vanity mirror so I waited until I was showering to squeeze the lump. BAM !!! a geyser of liquid onto the tiled wall. I pride myself on being a quick thinker; after several days of spraying the shower tiles with a  reservoir of tainted liquid I thought that I should see a doctor.

I didn’t touch the lump before seeing the doctor; 3 days of just looking at the lump in the mirror. And on some days there was a slight dampness on the underarm of my shirt and an odour from under my left arm. I wondered if all the under the shower pushing and squeezing had caused the lump to become infected. I sat waiting in the chair in the examination room. I held my left arm high above my head and the doctor moved in closer to look at, and touch the lump. She pushed on the lump.

image source:pixabay

She instinctively jerked back when the thick liquid squirted out and got most of herself out of the way in time. Some of the cheesy, blood diluted, liquid erupting from the engorged lump under my arm landed on her head and chest; but most ended up on the floor, and some even streaked across the room and onto the cupboard doors. She kept pushing and squeezing; draining the lump. I left with a supply of antibiotics, the lump covered in a blanket of gauze, and a follow up visit scheduled for next week. As I walked away from the nurses station I overheard the doctor asking if they would call maintenance and request a clean up for the room.

The lump oozed for the seven days leading up to the follow up visit; and grew in size. The doctor must have remembered the cheesy, blood diluted liquid, and the room clean up from the last visit because this time she placed a wad of dressing over the lump before pushing and squeezing. At the end of the appointment I was scheduled to see a lump doctor in two days.

There’s not a lot to do when you’re sitting just waiting in a doctor’s examination room. Because the magazines are usually old copies of either Time, Sports Illustrated, Good Housekeeping, People, Reader’s Digest, Parents, or Men’s Health I sometimes spend the time playing a game of things in a doctor’s examination room. Whenever I play the game I always get first the; exam table, chair, sink, computer, scale, wall mounted blood pressure measuring device, and cupboards, and then I really start looking around.

image source:jmcadam

Without having anything to write on the things in a doctor’s examination room game becomes difficult. The more you discover things the more challenging it becomes to remember the extra things you find; but that’s part of the game. I didn’t have to wait long for the lump doctor. She drained the lump and did a quick examination. I don’t remember laying down on the examination table but I was lying on my right side with my left arm behind my head facing the lump doctor’s nurse who was sitting on my right, and the lump doctor was explaining it would be best if the lump was removed. It was a restful and calm conversation and I babbled on about how I become anxious at the thought of surgery, and she would have to recommend really good drugs to soothe my distress. As I was about to ask when will you scheduled the surgery I was overpowered by a cheesy, putrid stench. I think it was pungent odour that caused the nurse to move away, The lump doctor cheerfully said that I wouldn’t need surgery; I didn’t feel the anaesthetic numbing injection, but she had lanced, drained, and cut the lump out. She pushed gauze into the lump cavity; explaining that it’s best to keep the cavity open so it doesn’t seal up and prevent healing from the inside. Besides, keeping it open allows more time for draining. For next week a visiting nurse removed the packing, cleaned the wound, and repacked the gauze every morning; and after a check up from the lump doctor repeated the cleaning and dressing for another week. The cavity shrunk from a wound I could have pushed my index finger into, to a small chamber.

image source:jmcadam

At the third week check up the lump doctor expressed her concern that the lump cavity had healed from the inside; and she would have to chemically roughen up the hardened chamber wall skin to allow soft tissue healing. During the next week the hardened skin stayed hard and so it needed to be cut out. The surgery was scheduled, and my distress was soothed with good drugs. The wall of hardened skin was deeper and wider than the lump so the new wound was stitched. And I now have a small scar instead of a lump just below the armpit on my left side.

As I looked at the lump on the tyre I thought how fortunate we were that it hadn’t released a stream of air that would have caused the sidewall to collapse when we were tootling down Interstate 680 at 65 plus miles per hour. I drove slowly to the complete auto care shop and had the tyre replaced. You can’t tell when a lump will erupt; it seems that lumps just decide that for themselves.

 

Sebaceous cyst: Treatment, Causes, and Symptoms

What Makes a Po-Boy a Po-Boy?

Exam Room Furniture

What If Dishes Could Wash Themselves

Recently, water began seeping onto the kitchen floor from under the dishwasher and leaking into the basement to form a small rivulet on the basement floor. I used a turkey baster to remove the shallow reservoir of water that was sitting in the bottom of the washer and then fished around in the outlet drain to remove a few of the plastic prongs that had broken off the upper dishwasher rack. Bob’s your uncle I thought and so I started to survey the washer’s control pan on top of the open door. Twenty plus years ago I you had to push was auto wash and dry. I stared down in confusion at the choices; rinse and hold, eco wash, delayed start, normal, and quick wash. I selected quick wash and closed the door. I smiled when I heard the water starting to swish around inside the washer; it was working. But then water appeared from under the washer and another rivulet appeared in the basement.

image source:pixabay

The dishwasher repair man after manoeuvring the washer out of it’s snug cubbyhole and performing a series of tests, and cellphone calls, concluded that the drainage pump was the problem. We got the dishwasher twenty plus years ago from rummaging around in the returned appliance section of Omaha’s own furniture, appliance, electronics, flooring and home decor shop. We were told the brushed nickel ASKO was returned by an interior designer; it just wasn’t right when it was stationed in the new somewhat finished kitchen. The price, though discounted because it was returned, was still more than a Whirlpool or Kenmore. It seemed that twenty plus years ago mid westerners weren’t impressed or didn’t appreciate environmentally friendly, Swedish designed, water and energy efficient dishwashers.

The dishwasher repair man told us that he would have to order a replacement drainage pump from ASKO; his company didn’t keep parts on hand for a twenty plus year old Swedish dishwasher. A phone call a few days later to the appliance repair companies head office confirmed that the replacement pump would cost around $470.00; without installation and labour. And it would take a week or more once the pump was ordered for delivery. Our ASKO was the cadillac of dishwashers so we spent a couple of days weighing the pros and cons of spending $600.00 on a twenty plus year old appliance; or buying a new one.

image source:jmcadam

We decided on a new dishwasher. Omaha’s own furniture, appliance, electronics, flooring and home decor shop has incredible selection of energy efficient dishwashers that are guaranteed to quietly clean the dirtiest plates, glasses, and silverware while you help yourself to an ice cold sherbet. We hovered around a stainless steel Bosch 24″ recessed handle built in 300 series; a dishwasher engineered by German perfectionism and precision.

On the top of the open door along side the push button controls was a transfer that proclaimed Silence Plus. Our soon to be dishwasher was rated at a 44 decibel noise level; light rainfall is about 50 decibel, someone whispering is 30, a dove call 44, and a babbling brook around 40 db. Our Bosch 300 series should sound like doves cooing, sitting in a tree by a babbling brook during a light rain shower; a delightful sound to have in the kitchen.

image source:pixabay

Omaha’s own furniture, appliance, electronics, flooring and home decor shop prides itself on offering a sale every week; the name of the sale changes but the price of everything remain the same. There is a small flat screen alongside each appliance that displays the just in time sale price of the appliance; area of the shop are wired into the internet and constantly trawl competitors prices and in real time adjust their sale price to match the competition. As the sales associate approached I closed my eyes for couple of seconds. Maybe it was a MATRIX thing; I was going to trawl the net and find the real price of a Bosch 300 series. I was sitting on the floor in an Afghan carpet trader’s shop in Kabul’s Chicken Street. Afghanistan was a welcoming state of chaos and confusion after the omnipresent military of Turkey and Iran. As soon as we crossed the Iranian border in local small bus the Afghan passengers shared their hashish. I spent a lot of time in Chicken Street shops chatting, smoking and drinking tea. I learned to dip sugar cubes into my tea and, at the right soggy time pop them to into my mouth, and then sip my tea. I never did buy anything, but I learned that arriving on a final price was part of the process; haggling was expected, and if you paid the first asking price you were considered a fool. After a few visits the shop owners didn’t seem to mind that I didn’t buy anything; our conversations became long social storytelling journeys; always over shared small short glasses of sugar sweetened tea. I spent more time interacting with the locals instead of being a sightseeing tourists.

image source:thedisastertourist

When I opened my eyes I knew my destiny; I was going to barter and not pay the real time sale price displayed on the monitor. I turned to the sales associate

Me: What’s your best price on the Bosch 300
Sale Associate: (after glancing at the small digital monitor alongside the appliance) $800.00 plus sales tax
Me: That’s tourist price; for me $300.00?
Sale Associate: (swiping and pinching at his iPad screen) I’m sorry but that’s not possible
Me: (smiling) Best price?
Sale Associate: (swiping and pinching at the iPad screen) $800.00 is the best I can do
Me: Do you have chai; is there a place we can sit?
Sale Associate: Aaahh, I’m afraid not
Me: Let’s not let the conversation turn ugly. We don’t have to haggle over the price. Final Offer; subtract the sales tax on $800.00 Final price.
Sale Associate: (swiping and pinching at the iPad screen)
Me: Surely you have the authority to approve my generous offer and you don’t need the approval of a manager
Sale Associate: (with a flourish of the iPad) Done
Me: And free delivery and installation; and no charge to carry away away the old ASKO
Sale Associate: I’ll have to charge you half price for the new installation materials
Me: And now we can have tea; two sugar please

I popped the just dissolving sugar cube into my mouth and sipped a little of the warm tea through the cube from the small short glass. The Bosch 300 Series dishwasher was scheduled to be delivered in a couple of weeks.

And so for the next two weeks we washed dishes in the kitchen sink; just as mum washed the dishes in her small kitchen sink after every meal. There was a wall mounted gas water heater to the side of the sink. Mum would put a dish drainer on one side of the sink, and after she gave the dishes a quick rinse in the hot soapy water that she had just washed them in would set them in the drainer to let the soap suds start draining.

image source:pinterest

Every Sunday night nanna and granddad walked down the street from their place for tea. We always had cold left over roast leg of lamb; and we always had it with a salad. And there was always a selection of mum’s freshly baked cakes on the table for desert. As soon as we finished our cakes and cup of tea, mum would start washing the dishes. Either granddad or nanna would grab the tea towel and start drying the just washed dishes before they had time to collect in the drainer; soon the tea towel, damp with the soap suds from the wet dishes, would have to be replaced with a new dry clean tea towel.

Mum also soaked her vegetables and salad lettuce in the kitchen sink. She would peel the potatoes for Sunday’s roast, and then soak the cut up large bite sized pieces in cold water in the sink. The potatoes were put on a tea towel to dry before she put them in the roasting pan with the leg of lamb; the fat and juices from the lamb, together with mum’s left over lard bubbled in the bottom of the pan to produce perfect roast potatoes.

image source:jmcadam

We only new iceberg lettuce for our salads. Mum would tear the leaves apart and soak them in cold water for a couple of hours before Sunday’s tea. The lettuce leaves were also put on a tea towel to dry; radishes and celery was also soaked in the kitchen sink. Whatever in the kitchen needed washing, or whatever food needed soaking and washing, ended up in the sink. Though I don’t ever remember mum scouring and cleaning the sink. The sink emptied into a gully trap on the other side of the kitchen wall in the fernery.

As a young boy, I only had the wireless to follow the ball to ball action of the Ashes series. Every other year the Australian cricket team would travel to England to play five test matches. June through August was the middle of Melbourne’s dank, chilly, winter. The daytime matches were broadcast live each night to Australia. On those foggy winter nights I cocooned myself in a sea of woollen blankets; the radio was a whisper, and I was lulled to sleep by the erudite details of play by play test cricket. The captain of the fielding team, whenever he used his fast bowlers always set a slip cordon with a gully. I listened as the commentators described the gully trap whenever it was set.

image source:thecricketmonthly

The gully is behind square of the wicket, on the off side at the end of the slips cordon; sometimes it is called fourth slip. It’s a close catching position and the fielder at gully can expect forceful shots from the batsman. In the 74-75 test series the great Australian fast bowlers Lillee and Thomson left the English batsman battered and bruised. Captain Ian Chappell was at first slip, brother Greg at second, Dougie Walter at third, and Terry Jenner in the gully. It was test cricket and the gully trap at its best.

The Bosch 300 is sitting proudly under the counter in the kitchen. I rather liked not being a “stick everything in the dishwasher” type of man the last couple of weeks. It’s hard to go cold turkey not washing dishes; the kettles approaching the boil on the stove so it’s time to chuck the dirty sharp knives into the sink. I’ve moved the Band Aids into the cupboard next to the sink.

 

Everything and the Kitchen Sink: The Memoir of a Dishwasher

The Evolution of Dishwasher Technology

How Do Dishwashers Work