Tuesday, August 17, 2010


(Thank you to all those who said "Bless you!")

After reminiscing about the imaginary friends of Princess and Little Man, I thought I'd check to see if they actually remembered them. If you remember, Princess had Baxibax and Batasha, and Little Man had Baby Dinosaur. Princess claimed to remember Batasha, but she called her Natasha. I remember quite clearly having a conversation with Princess about the pronunciation of the name when she was little(r) and it was definitely Batasha with a "B". She also said she vaguely remembered Baxibax was the boy, which I also corrected, as I also remember having that conversation as well. It turns out that in my stolid inflexibility, I assumed that imaginary friends are like ordinary friends that typically don't change names or gender, but apparently they can if they want to.

However, the real revelation came from Little Man.

Me: Hey buddy, do you remember your imaginary friend Baby Dinosaur?
LM: (exasperated tone)Dad! Of course I do.
Me: Whatever happened to him?
LM: He's dead.

So there you have it. Some imaginary friends can evolve and make lifestyle choices and others quite literally expire.

Try as I might, I do not remember having such a friend myself. As DW pointed out, as I had six sisters and five brothers growing up, I probably imagined some of them were my friends. I'm very pleased to say that is still the case as all my brothers and sisters are still alive and well.

However, I do remember having a very active imagination. I enjoyed replaying scenes from movies and TV shows that I liked, usually with a far superior ending. I would also make up entire worlds and jump about in the shed, hurling myself into the fray, this way and that. In retrospect, I probably should have explained to someone what I was doing as the muttering to myself and flopping about like a tortured animal may have been misleading. I think my parents just hoped I would grow out of it. Or move out. Either way. Eventually I discovered two very important things. First, other people may have their own independent existence when I'm not thinking about them (jury is still out on this one) and second, most people did not behave the way I did. In fact it made them uncomfortable. So I sort of grew up and started behaving the way most people did so they wouldn't be uncomfortable. Now that unreserved wild child only comes out when I'm completely alone or snoozing on the train.

I bring this up as I think Little Man has similar characteristics. When watching an exciting TV show, he will pace back and forth, growling softly, occasionally jumping from couch to couch and levitating. DW is concerned about this behaviour but I have told her not to worry. Its all part of being a boy possessed by an over active imagination, and possibly a demon. Kids are funny.


Thought for the Day: Unfortunately, no matter what we do, someone is going to win the next election.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Good morning, World!

DW and I were watching TV last night and the subject of imaginary friends came up. Both Princess and Little Man had had their own imaginary friends but it took us a while to remember what their names were. In the interest of posterity, I can now reveal the names. For Princess, it was not just one imaginary friend, but two, named Baxibax and Batasha. I’m not completely sure of the spelling but just sound it out and you will get the idea. These two were the subject of much play and proxy requests, where it was made clear by Princess that it wasn’t her who wanted the extra lollies, but Baxibax and Batasha.

Little Man on the other hand had a friend called Baby Dinosaur, who was something of a troublemaker. Many things were knocked over, stood on and broken by this tiny transparent terror. And he was always hungry. Whenever Little Man was told he had eaten enough junk food, he would calmly inform us that Baby Dinosaur wanted some as well and if he didn’t get it, there was no telling what next would be knocked over, stood on and broken.

However, as is usually the case, as new friends are made, the invisible ones fade into distant memory. I’m not sure either of the kids even remembers their imaginary friends, but that is the way of things, I suppose. Apparently stuffed toys are not so easily forgotten and both kids’ beds are covered in myriad of these. I have suggested that perhaps some other kids might like to look after a few of them for a while or perhaps forever, but based on the response, I don’t think the kids are willing to give up their stuffed friends just yet.

While I think of it I should mention something Little Man said to DW the other day. To provide a context, his granddad sometimes calls him a “whacker” when he does something particularly strange. DW sometimes calls him a “nutbag” for the same reason. He has decided to combine these two names and announced at Kinder the other day that he is actually a “Nut Whacker”. I think it would make an excellent wrestling persona that would strike fear into the hearts of his opponents, so I’m encouraging it.


Thought for the Day: (to the Batman theme) Na nanan na na nana na na na na Nut WHACKER!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

And we’re back!

Well, some amazing and exciting things have been happening at work but that’s enough about that. The current TV phenomena “MasterChef” has made me think back to my first foray into cooking.

Once upon a time, around 5 BC (before children), I decided that I would like to become a better cook. I’m not sure why; it could have been the shock guests displayed when I invited them for dinner; it could have been something else, but probably the shock. Anyway, I began with various recipe bases and experimented with sauces and condiments and even tried some sticky glazes. Even I have to admit that first meal was a bit much. I think the balance was out but DW (who was DG at the time) suggested it should have had some sort of protein. And typically the bases aren’t for mixing.

So it was back to the drawing board. My new rule was one packet mix at a time. I had always thought a good chef can “feel” their way through a recipe and it was time to acknowledge that I was not a good chef. So I read the instructions on the packet. I bought the ingredients it suggested (DG later told me that those ingredients should be considered necessary in my case). I read the instructions again. And again. I found I knew most of the words but the sentences themselves didn’t really stick in my head. So I read just the first instruction again and really concentrated on that. Once the oven was on at the required temperature for the required time, I read the second instruction. Apparently I was completely unable to keep the essence of the step in my head. Eventually I managed to put the onion in a pan only to have to remove it a few seconds later to chop the bloody thing. I had discovered another important fact about recipes. Preparation time doesn’t include the preparation of the individual ingredients.

So I finally managed to pour the recipe base mixed with water and tomato paste into the screaming hot pan where my beef strips were beginning to blacken and my chopped onions had gone from soft and golden to dark and crunchy. I probably should have used hot water in the mix because as soon as the cold liquid hit the pan it pretty much exploded. I thought I had done something wrong. I was right, but it turned out that it wasn’t the wrongest thing I had done. It was explained to me after that frozen beef chunks should be defrosted before cooking and not just broken apart and tossed in the pan. In my defense, I quite reasonably expected that putting frozen meat in a hot pan would defrost it but there are complications to that method. Anyway, after finally getting the meal to simmer nicely, I went on to step 3.

The potatoes were a comparatively easy step. They just needed to be peeled and boiled for long enough as to become soft and mashable. I figured that I could just boil and boil and boil them but it turns out that after a while they sort of come apart and a lot of the actual potato mass seems to dissolve in the water. After draining the... well it sort of looked like soup now... there was not a whole lot of potato left. I managed to bulk it out a bit with grated cheese, milk and butter and a small hand full of plain flour but even with a lot of salt it tasted more like Deb mixed with butter and cheese. It didn’t taste too bad but the texture was a little challenging.

Anyway, after that debacle, I decided to be a little more conservative with the carrots and broccoli and DG said that was the most successful part of the meal. They were slightly warm and extremely crunchy, which is just how I like them, though I think DG was being nice.

So finally I “plated up” and put all of the parts of the meal on the plate. I also learned another important lesson that day. No matter how badly you stuff up the mashed potato, it is still better to serve it hot, or at the very least, warm. The meat mixture was kind of lumpy and had small pockets of dry unmixed recipe base, which I think added the occasional little surprising burst of flavour in an otherwise very tomatoey flavoured sauce. The onions had all but disintegrated entirely but still managed to add a sort of smokey chalk flavour but unfortunately the meat itself wasn’t very good. We were able to eat the outside of the hard little lumps but the very centres were, amazingly, still quite bloody and cold. I should point out that they weren’t frozen at the centre but that was a small victory.

Also, I learned that on many of these recipe bases there are two recipes; the basic one and a more elaborate version that apparently requires the oven for some part of it. My 20 min (+ 5 min preparation time) meal had taken nearly an hour and a half and was an unmitigated disaster, and the oven had been on the whole time. We had ice cream for dessert. I like to microwave mine.

In the end DG still became DW so it can’t have been too bad. Mind you, I didn’t pop the question after that meal – I didn’t want to risk getting a sympathy “yes”. In fact I waited a few more years, just to be sure. And after some assistance from DW...or as she tells it; her cooking by proxy...I have actually improved somewhat from those first tentative steps into the world of cooking. In fact, some might say I am now an exceptional cook, if you take into account where I started. So if you are lucky enough to get an invitation to a meal cooked by yours truly, don’t be put off by the above story. That was years ago. I guarantee it will be a meal to remember. And we have the local pizza place on speed dial.


Thought for the Day: Cook from the heart. If you can cook, that is. Otherwise stick to the bloody recipe.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Guten tag!

I have recently discovered that my evil toe may not actually be evil after all.  At least, that is what the evil little piggie wants me to believe.  It would have me believe that the actual culprit, "so-called", is an affliction called Restless Legs Syndrome.  Now I admit that I do have many of the symptoms of RLS, but I have always attributed them to my diabolical digit.  However, my doctor feels firstly: that my tyrannical toe is not the spawn of the devil, and secondly: chopping the f*#$@%g thing off (my words) would not actually solve the problem.  That said, my main reason for not severing my tiny nemesis is not that it would likely hurt like hell, but rather an unreasonable fear (or is it) that the little fiend would actually grow back, bigger and badder than ever.

So I'm humouring my doctor and I am taking this Restless Legs Syndrome, "so-called", seriously. I have been told that my incessant pacing and twitching may be alleviated by the addition of magnesium, calcium and iron in my diet.  It was not without some irony that I found myself surrounded by short, oddly muscled men in a health supplement store buying my new "fix".  Apparently these stores are where you can buy muscles when you have trouble growing them yourself.  I also noted the expensive clothes store on one side of this shop and a sports store on the other.  All they need now is a medical clinic that dispenses Viagra and they could rename this section "Self-Esteem Lane".

Anyway, enough about my legs, for now.  I'll let you know if the vitamin supplements or the holy water have any effect.

I was lucky enough to get home in time to watch Princess do her second swimming lesson with her new squad.  Far from her previous lessons which involved fairly simple tasks and introductory stuff, these lessons are considerably more serious and a lot more intense.  The thing that impressed me most was the enthusiasm Princess has for the sport.  She quite literally hurls herself into the pool.  By that I mean she was doing the diving lesson when I arrived and her technique is...developing. Even the instructor covered her face with her hands in dismay when she saw how hard Princess hit the water on her stomach.  She does manage to get further than anyone else but hasn't quite got the idea of keeping her head down and sliding into the water.  For a little body she can make quite a big splash.  However, despite the reddening of her legs from the impacts, she didn't hesitate to get back up on the blocks time and again to repeat her mistake.  She did complain that her tummy felt a bit sore after.  That would be the eight successive belly flops I suspect.

Little Man is into his last term of Kinder and while he does enjoy it, he is finding it and life in general pretty tiring.  Of course, the fact that he goes at it like a bull at a gate is part of the reason but still... He had his haircut yesterday after Kinder and DW was recounting his displeasure at not being given his usual downtime.  He growled at the hairdresser and her laughing hysterically did little to quell his anger.  Luckily by the time I got home, he had calmed down after being able to play computer games without having to share with his older sister, who was off at swimming practice at the time.

Anyway, time to go.  More tomorrow (maybe?).


Thought for the Day: Blanketty blank blanking blanker (trains late again)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Wow! Took a few minutes to brush away the virtual cobwebs from this site but apparently I now feel ready to jump back on the blogging bandwagon.

A lot of exciting this have happened since I last blogged but I can't remember most of them so I'll just skip ahead.

Astronomy has been a hobby of mine for the past few years and in February this year, I decided to up the ante and formalize my astronomical endeavors. (Blogger doesn't like Australian English spelling and I don't like squiggly red lines so I bow the imperialist might of the increasingly inaccurately named American "English"). As I work full time, or more accurately, am required to be at work full time, I had to choose a part time course and a friend recommended a Masters of Science (Astronomy) through Swinburne University, so I enrolled. As I haven't studied for over twenty years (my first two degrees finished 14 years ago) I have decided to take it slowly and really focus on whatever it is I'm studying. So far so good.

Ok, so what about everyone else? Well, DW's passing interest in knitting hasn't passed and is now bordering on a medical condition. She has decided to do her bit for the planet by knitting everyone a shawl. If you haven't received yours yet, don't worry, it's coming. In the meantime, you can borrow one of mine. She also likes making her own greeting cards, which usually accompany the shawls. She is also planning on knitting me a jumper, or possibly 365 jumpers, based on the number of patterns she has asked me to consider. I have drawn the line at knitted bathers.

Princess has continued to become a proficient reader and simply loves going to school. She also enjoys maths and has a very inquiring mind, which I think she gets from me. DW has pointed out that I probably should have kept using it myself, because she is witty like that.
Princess has started to show signs of growing out of "little kid" things and moving on to "pre-teen" things, like makeup and Taylor Swift. Is it just me or does Taylor look like she was shot in the face by Homer Simpson's makeup gun? Actually, a quick check has shown that I'm thinking of someone else, but I can't work out who. Taylor's makeup looks like she did it herself.

Little Man is fast becoming a misnomer. I wonder if anyone has ever had a teacher named Miss Nomer? Or even better, Miss Anne Thrope. But back to Little Man and his big head. I should add that it is not only his head that is big - he is proportionally big. It's just that I notice his head mostly because it is at the top, and further from the ground than it seems it should be. His head is big enough to be in four-year-old kinder this year and he is enjoying it immensely. He now has a 3 hour stint on Mondays, a 3.5 hour stint on Tuesdays, and a 5.5 hour stint on Wednesday, after which he tends to stint a bit as well. This means that DW now gets a bit more time to herself, after nearly 8 years. She tends to use the time to knit.

Ok, well, that's my lunch break over so the rest will have to wait until tomorr... let's just say next time.


Thought for the Day: I feel old when I get Facebook messages calling me "Uncle Bern", so I respond with "In ya face! brprbrprbrprbrpr!"