Sunday, 21 October 2007

E is for ... Egg

Eggs are yummy.
I love them boiled a bit soft, mashed with some parsley and salt, and spread between two slices of splushy bread. Can be white or brown.
Or boiled a bit soft and in an eggcup, with toast cut into fairy's fingers to dip into the syrupy, golden yolk. Oooh, thanks Mum ...
I love them scrambled, with a bit of milk, sprinkled with parsley. A little girl called Nina showed me how to make them when I babysat for her 17 years ago. She'd been in bed for a while, after being so tired she'd refused dinner, and woke up ravenous. Her parents were committed health enthusiasts, and I knew she'd dob me in if I ordered pizza. She guided me through how she liked her eggs to be done, and we giggled so much, we woke her 1-year-old brother, Ralph.
Ended up with the three of us in the garden at 10 on Saturday night, creeping through the shrubbery in the dark to pick parsley for the eggs. Very Going On a Bear Hunt.
I wonder if Sweeney will drag some hapless babysitter out to the deck for basil for his spaghetti sauce or coriander for his laksa ... That's Mt Victoria, isn't it??

I like them fried, the way Dad has always made them for his weekend fry-fests. His eggs come out with all the white firm and cooked, and in some places downright crispy, and the yolk also firm and cooked, but still soft so you can dip your fork in, weighed down with bacon, tomato and maybe a mushroom. No artery in the region is safe, I tell you.
I like omelettes, the way Martin combines mushrooms, tomato and cheese with a few eggs and a glorious near-souffle comes out. We ate these every day for a month or more, a few months back. Mmmm.
I used to make a tortilla-type thing at Lone Star. It was when they'd just opened the first site in Christchurch. Fun every day. We were building and tweaking the menu every day, we were learning about Texan and Mexican food, but trying to be cool and interesting and avoid turning into a nachos and taco joint. The tortilla - as in chunks of spud in a pan, drizzled over with beaten egg, bunged into the oven until it's cooked through - was new to me. This is late '80s New Zealand, people, and all food south of the border came out of a Masterfoods packet. Guacamole was still controversial.
At the time, my tortilla, served with a monster salad, damn near flew out the door every night. I left Lone Star when I moved up to Wellington, and mostly forgot the things I'd made every night for a year. But a month or so ago, I chucked together a tortilla for myself and Sweeney, and the young squire downed it with the same gusto as he attacks yoghurt, stewed fruit or any of the things he loves. Chuffed.

E is for ... Embroidery
I've recently found two blogs showcasing incredible embroidery - Jo in NZ and small things. Check them out. These women are highly skilled technicians, and their work shows a second-to-none design sense. Envious. The pic here is a comfort doll stitched by Alison of small things.
Our Nana taught me to embroider when I was 9 years old. My first project was a horse's head, surrounded by daisies and leaves. Mum handed on Nana's unfinished work to me when she died - tablecloths, dresser sets, doilies - and I've had a go at finishing a few. It's really hard to take over someone else's work like that - it's like each person's writing has its own voice, knitting has an individual tension, how I make a piece of cheese on toast, it'll turn out differently from yours. And then there's the fact that she had about 3,000 years of talent and experience that I'll never have. There just isn't enough time before I die.
I like hauling them out and looking at the colours she was using, and the patterns she liked. She regarded cross stitch as a bit primitive, and all her work is in stem, satin, all the classic traditional embroidery stitches. I don't believe she worked tapestries at all.
Mum's got some lovely cloths that she made years ago. They're gorgeous. Even Dad developed an enthusiasm for embroidery and knocked up a table runner, albeit with a very untraditional colourway. He goes in for the variegated silks in a big, big way.
E is for ... Elephant
When I was in Cambodia, there were elephant rides on offer all over the show. In Phnom Penh, there was an elephant, Samboh, who went for a walk every evening through the CBD with his keeper / human companion. I can't remember his name.
Samboh was born in the Cambodian countryside in the late '70s, orphaned and ended up living with a family of subsistence farmers until a bunch of Khmer Rouge soldiers muscled the family off their land, to labour camp and/or execution. Samboh was used by the Khmer Rouge for muscle until the Pol Pot regime was finally removed, years later. At that point, he was 'liberated' into the wild, still in Cambodia. The youngest son of the family survived the camps and searched for Samboh. For years.
Can you believe they found each other? He was a child when they'd been separated, and now he's a middle-aged man. Samboh lives with the man's family in Phnom Penh, and until just before we saw him, tourists took rides on him for enormous amounts of money. He's getting on now, old Samboh, and he's retired from business life, and the only walking he has to do is an ambling constitutional in the twilight.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

D is for ... Down south
Yes, it's a bit of a stretch, but just stay with me, okay?? Sweeney's been down in Christchurch since October 6th, holidaying with his Nana and Grandad. He hitched a ride with Kimberley when she went down for the weekend, and stayed on to terrorise their cats and threaten the hospital-like sanitation levels of their house.
One of the things I really enjoy and appreciate about Sweeney is how much my parents enjoy and appreciate him. That thing about grandparents being more indulgent to grandchildren after being tough parents?? Well, it's playing out in Pioneer Lane at this very minute. I love seeing how chatty they are when people approach them about Sweeney, they look proud in a way I haven't seen since ...
Martin and I have been enjoying the flexibility that jettisoning your baby gives you, but we can't wait to see the little pooter again. I even spent this afternoon checking out blogs with pictures of babies on, and we both spent a mental amount of time gazing at a wee boy called Lias - the most beautiful child I've seen since Sweeney arrived. He's about 8 months younger than Sweeney, but has such a strong face already. His hands and feet are long and from the blog, it sounds like he's a sizeable chap.
Lovely, isn't he?? I even sent his mums a note about how splendid he looks ...

D is for ... Dogs
I've never been fond of dogs. I found Lassie torture even when telly was new and exciting. When I was wee, three or four, Mum had a chiropractor or osteopath whose rooms were behind his house. Where his enormous and really really loud dog was tethered. Even from behind a fence, that dog made my blood stop flowing, made me freeze on the spot and scream.
We had a friend stay for five weeks back in January, along with his dog Sarge. When I first met Sarge, he was a bouncy staffy-thing, muscular and gorgeous and fun. Enormously reasonable and easy to handle. That was nearly nine years ago, and things had moved on for Sarge. He was arthritic, which meant he couldn't jump or run the way he used to, so had become enormous. He would plod down the steps beside the house, and flop onto the deck as near as he could to Sweeney. Sweeney was just about crawling at that stage, and loved using Sarge as his playgym, grabbing his jowls or ears or lips to haul himself up and over. Poor dog, he put up with a lot.
D is for ... Drudgery
Drudgery is my nemesis, no doubt. It does me in in all areas of my life - housekeeping, the boring bits at work etc. When you're a girl imagining a life with a Significant Other and gorgeous, gifted offspring and a fulfilling career and a house that reflects all that's good about you, you don't imagine any of the following:
  • the dishes, and the washing, and the vacuuming, and changing the bed more than twice a year,

  • cleaning down the high chair and the area within a 5km radius three times a day,

  • keeping your child alive with food, and maybe even keeping it interesting for you and feeling a little bit proud of it,

  • a new job or project is interesting for a week or so, then it's just same old same old until your contract finishes or you die

  • wanting to paint a room or do some other low-level DIY requires a morning spent at Resene or Mitre 10, then sanding and puttying and stirring and by the time you get to actual painting, you can't imagine why you chose that colour and in any case, it's time to put the baby in the high chair again and prepare yourself for half an hour of swabbing the floor. Again.
But as I mentioned, Sweeney's vacationing at the moment, so we've been eating bad food and ignoring the chores. The Coco Pops were a highlight earlier this week. The first week he was away, I spent every waking minute grateful that there were no nappies to change or bottles to make or teeth cleaning to negotiate.
Now I'm eaten up with jealousy, that my parents are getting his cuddles and his chats and dances and songs and playing with him in the bath and reading him stories and taking him to the mall to people-watch. I'll revisit this under H for Happy Medium.

D is for Depression
When I say that boring routine chores and such do me in, I mean they make lying down under the duvet for days on end, with or without some gentle sobbing, the only thing I can do. There are days when getting clean dishes into cupboards makes me proud of myself, and we've got a dishwasher, for gods sake. For the most part, Martin's been a pistol, and the counselling has given us both ways to deal with it better. Kimberley and my parents, and even some of Martin's family have been helpful when they can. Sweeney doesn't give the slightest toss. I have a plan for him to never know, that by the time he's grown enough to know that normal people get up every day, I'll be patched up and back on the road. Like a tyre.

D is for ... D'accord!
There are a number of things that have become shorthand for Kimberley and me. One of them is saying "d'accord!" to indicate agreement to the latest scheme on the books. It could've been "okey dokey" or "smellulater", but no, we're too classy. Obviously.

D is for ... Dumbass, Dork, Diddle, Dick etc
I was just sitting here, typing away, when I noticed the room had become freezing. So I mentioned this to Martin, asking why it was that it was so cold, when it's been quite nice heat-wise. Silence for a beat, then he said "the temperature".

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