Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I take it back...

There are two yappy dogs that live next door to us. Well, actually one yappy dog and an encourager, but who needs to be that precise?

The neighbours are considerate when they are home, because if the dogs are barking they take them inside so that peace once more reigns supreme, but when the neighbours are out the dogs are very likely to bark continously for extended periods. There's not much that the neighbours feel they can do when they are not home, and I only wish our anti-barking collar would go small enough for us to lend it to them.

Now, dogs bark - and a certain amount of barking I can tolerate in the interests of living in a community that values pet ownership. And I don't like to sound hypocritical because our LBD will bark on occasion, too. Usually specific occasions for a short time. Unfortunately his three or four barks at the postie will start the neighbours off for a good 20 minutes.

Ever since I timed the dogs next door barking for a whole 30 minutes by the clock (before I left home and was very glad to have work to do elsewhere that afternoon), I have wondered precisely how long a yappy dog can yap without pause. (Emily Sue - pun just for you!)

We found out that they have stamina a couple of weeks ago when the dogs had been barking for some time before we sat down to watch tv at 8.30pm and continued to do so until we presume the neighbours came home at 10.52.


That's more than 2 1/2 hours of barking.

It was not appreciated.

Later in the week they tried it again, and the neighbour over the back yelled at them. I could sympathise.

Then last week was quiet for a couple of days.

I put out multiple loads of washing without needing earplugs for the high pitched squealy bark from next door. Our garage door could go up and down without being serenaded. The LBD could run around his own backyard without being told off by the pip-squeak from next door. We could walk around our house and open curtains without trembling for the noise it could cause.

I began to get worried that something had happened to them. Despite mentally devising excruciating deaths and torture for them over the last couple of months, I actually began to get worried that something had happened to them.

But they are back now and I take back any concern I might have felt for their safety. How glad am I to see them (or more correctly, hear them)?

... Precisely!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Just for "Aunty Rain"

I've been studying.

And coughing.

And doing lots of reading.

And taking a funeral.

And lying in bed.

But not blogging.

And I should go to sleep now, or the chance I'll be up and working tomorrow?

... Approximately None!

Monday, July 12, 2010


So, I start studying today. Exciting, hey.

Textbooks arrived Friday, Study Guide and Readings today, and this evening I have half a dozen messages in the online forum.

So I have dutifully sat me down to do some reading, closing the study door to keep the television noise at bay and I am continually being interrupted by the LBD deciding to come in.

Among the many idiosyncracies of our house is the fact that we decided to paint it ourselves. This meant that there was no sense in putting the door handles on until the doors were painted (except for bathroom and loo - we decided those were important enough to be removed and replaced when we got around to the painting thing).

So my office door has no means of securing it and it opens in. So the LBD simply pushes his way into the room, bringing the distracting TV noise with him. He doesn't want to settle in here and whenever I put him out he comes back in.

How much work am I getting done?

... Hmmpf

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Can Someone get the Feathers Out of My Jam?

In-keeping with yesterday's culinary post, I submit this post for your entertainment.

This one involves my Mum.

That means it should be quite amusing.

Earlier in the week I happened to look out our bedroom window over to what remains of our kitchen garden.

It's frosty at the moment, and there's not much left of the summer's growth, some strawberries struggling with the morning frost, the last of the spring onions and some leeks that have taken nine months to not really grow much at all. There's also the remnants of what once were verdant basil bushes that went to seed and then died. We haven't pulled them up yet.

I was delighted to see two gentle parrots quietly helping themselves to the seeds. My Beloved and I stood and watched them for a moment before I bethought myself of the camera.

Sorry about the quality of the image. It was a grey day and I took the picture through the fly screen on the window so that I didn't startle them.

We think they were rosellas.

Of course, in a quirky coincidence there is another sort of rosella commonly known in Australia. It is a fruit that is often used to make jam. Many people love rosella jam, but it is not commercially available. You have to know someone who grows rosellas, and not many people seem to grow rosellas because the fruit is only ever used to make jam.

Vicious circle, that.

So when I was talking to my mother on the phone and told her that we had rosellas on our basil bush she was a little confused.

In her experience rosellas are usually grown on a rosella bush.

How many parrots does it take to make jam?
... approximately none!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pea & Ham Soup with Louisa Musgrove

Masterchef I ain't.

And there are many reasons for that...

...But sometimes all you need is a little help.

I have never made Pea and Ham soup before, but I carefully froze the ham bone from Christmas, and had time today to give it a go. Fortunately the packet of split peas had a recipe on the back, which I intended to follow.

The first thing is to take your packet of dried split peas and reconstitute them according to the instructions.

So I carefully washed them and put them into a pot with the appropriate amount of water (3 cups of water for each cup of peas). I got the ham bone out of the freezer to defrost, then left the peas to soak and bone defrost while I had some lunch.

Then I noticed that the difference in cooking time between peas that have soaked over night and peas that are being boiled immediately was all of 10 minutes. So I put them on the stove and brought them to the boil, then reduced the heat to allow them to simmer for 35 minutes.

The pot boiled over - all over the bench and floor.

Then I noticed that the peas were becoming very broken up and suspended in the liquid in a way that made me doubt the wisdom of following the instructions and draining the liquid. I would not have had many actual peas left to make the soup with. So I compromised and put the ham bone, other vegetables and spices in the existing water and went with that.

Having already boiled the pot over, I was wise enough not to leave my pot unattended. I decided that I'd sit and read my book at the dining table and carefully selected the chair at the end of the table that allowed me to see the stove at a glance between paragraphs.

I'm on a bit of a Jane Austen kick this week. I've been sick and haven't felt like reading heavy stuff. I'm in the middle of "Persuasion" and, for those who are familiar with the story, I was coming up to the part when they visit Lyme - lyrical descriptions of the town and surrounding scenery, with the slight anxiety in the back of my mind about the tragic accident coming up.

So I was reading about the swelling of the blue-grey tide watched by the tourists at a time when I should have been paying attention to the inexorable swelling of the green tide from the pot on my stove.

Thankfully Pea and Ham soup is thick enough in consistency to simply run all over the bench. It didn't make it to the floor.

How many thanks do I offer to Louisa Musgrove for claiming my attention at the fatal moment?

... Approximately None!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


There was always going to be some tension in our household today when our ninth wedding anniversary clashes with a State of Origin footy match.

Or at least, there was huge potential as soon as my Beloved informed me when he returned home this afternoon that it was the final State of Origin tonight.

But, for the record, he then informed me that I was more important than the footy.

Then he went and got us some Chinese takeaway from our favourite place because I'm still not well enough to go out in the cold and wet.

And he loves me despite mucous, whey-face, unwashed hair and dark circles under my eyes.

And how much attention would I pay to anyone who told me that he's not the most wonderful Beloved that there happens to be in the Whole Wide World?


But for some reason he's off watching TV right now. I wonder what's grabbed his interest?

Monday, July 5, 2010

It's a Good Thing my Dog knows Sign Language...

Well, he doesn't really. But when we were training him there were certain gestures that went alongside some commands, and I must admit it is useful at times to be able to send him off without words.

Especially today, when the cold in my head has almost entirely removed my voice from usefulness. I can manage an impassioned whisper with occasional squeaks or croaks.

It was frustrating when planning worship for a couple of weeks time not to be able to sing the verse of a song so that everyone knew the tune I was thinking of.

And answering the phone today has been a riot, particularly when woken from a drug-induced doze and totally getting confused about precisely who was answering my message from when. I actually corrected my caller as to who she was.

For the record, she was right.

Anyway, it is frustrating for someone who... well... talks easily not to be able to effectively communicate. Particularly when a Little Black Dog is in the wrong place, and you want him to come in, but you can't inject the appropriate command with sufficient authority to get him to obey. He did follow the finger-snap and point. Quickly. Good Dog!

The number of words I've managed today?

... Approximately None!