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Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Last week I got a big surprise. Mr R and I trotted off to the in laws for our usual weekly dinner, only to find his brother was there along with his fiancée. (That is his brother’s fiancée, not Mr. R’s fiancée as he is married to me – just to clear up any confusion!)

The reason that was a surprise you may ask? Well we thought they were in London, which is so geographically removed from Melbourne that it was surprising to see them there. Not the kind of distance you travel just for the fun of it. They have been living and traveling overseas for the last 18 months or so, and then decided to surprise everyone by turning up at home un-announced. In that they were casually sitting on the couch watching TV when Mr. R’s Mum returned from work for the day. And his Dad called home to have brother answer and do his Dad thought he had some strange crossed line with London and that his brother had called at the same time and they got cross connected by some freak occurrence (he’s really up with technology).

So that’s all lovely to have them home again but I am not yet at the point of my story – you see I am just not all that good with surprises. I spent most of the evening at dinner in wonder that they were there, so it was terribly difficult to recover enough to actually make conversation. I found myself staring at them open mouthed. Ridiculous I know.

I am no good at actually surprising people because I find it terribly hard to keep a secret, particularly if it is a good secret that will make the person happy because, well , it is much nicer to know things that can make you happy rather than wondering why every one else is grinning and whispering behind your back until you get the big surprise and nearly have a heart attack.

Also I am absolutely sure that I would not like to be surprised because by nature I am a bit of a planner, and such an unplanned event would completely freak me out.

More importantly, I’m not all that sure what the point of a surprise is. Is it to get the guest of honour, at their own party, without time to prepare, looking as scared as hell? To laugh with glee at the look on the surprisee’s face? It all seems a little cruel – so let this serve as a warning to anyone even thinking of surprising me with anything!!

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Monday, October 27, 2003

Sometimes you accidentally stumble across a piece of television the leaves you gob smacked. Astounded. Amazed. These moments are rare, and when achieved should be applauded and celebrated. Happily, one of these moments came our way on the weekend, when snuggled up on the couch on Saturday night (I tell you – we live an outrageous existence) we tuned in to ”IRON CHEF” on SBS.

This is a sort of Japanese game show that involves a cook-off between two master chefs, set in a stadium like television set. They are given a key ingredient, and the have one hour to come up with a meal involving several courses that use the ingredient.

There is a bizarre sort of ringmaster – Chairman Kaga, who theatrically reveals the challenge ingredient in a puff of smoke and sets the chefs to work (this week was truffles). But that happens after he grins and bites into some sort of capsicum to get the show started, as you do.

But if that wasn’t enough to turn this into television mastery, it was the American voices dubbed over the original Japanese commentary had me rolling on the floor.

“Well Bob, I’m not sure how truffles will work with blow fish, is that a common combination?”

“Hank, that is unusual but will work wonderfully together, you can see Iron chef Morimoto San is using his expert knowledge of the way that truffles enhance flavour to really place the pressure on his challenger today”

“That’s right Bob, challenger Sasaki San is really feeling the pressure of such a tight time limit, and what is that he is doing? He is running to the fridge Bob! He is placing the truffle and Madeira sauce he has just made into the fridge! Well there is a surprise! Could he have what it takes to outclass our Iron chef?”

And on it goes. There is even a man on the floor that runs from one chef to the other and interjects the commentary with snippets of how each chef is feeling and coping with the time limit. The American voice for him sort of mimics the urgency that the Japanese voice must have – which of course is hilarious in English. As the SBS link quotes “He’s going for the fermented bean curd!”

To decide the winner there is a panel of judges, one of whom this week was French and described as a “French Cooking God”. At the end of the hour (which is counted down in a booming voice over) the judges taste the dishes of each chef and then declare the winner.

So - I tell you that this show could not be better. Watch it. Tape it. It’s Bizarre and yet strangely engrossing and addictive. After a bit of surfing it looks like there is an American rip off (including a special with William Shatner – this gets stranger and stranger) that has been made but strangely did not really take off. And that the original Japanese version is no longer in production. Ah – what is happening to our quality television?


PS – Some further surfing has unearthed an international Iron Chef meet up day in only 17 days (albeit with 7 members world wide). There is even a Melbourne meet up. The internet never ceases to amaze me!

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Monday, October 20, 2003

Yes I am still alive, just incredibly busy and strangely unmotivated to write about such busy-ness. Nothing like an invented word to start off an entry!

We braved the crowds for a trip to the Caufield cup on the weekend – something of a tradition amongst my friends. It was a beautiful sunny day, Melbourne’s first real taste of the summer to come. I am not really a big gambler, but I do enjoy a flutter around the Spring Racing Carnival. And I managed to back the winner of the cup – it is a very exciting atmosphere with the crowd on their feet cheering the thundering hooves home.

Then Sunday was the biggest contrast to Saturday as you could get, it poured for most of the day and I had to turn the central heating on.

Aside from all that, work still continues at the house, we will be painting until we are ninety at this rate. But the thing I am most excited about is the connection of my new and beautiful oven late last week. Oh it is so shiny. Oh it is so sparkly. Oh it is so clean. Oh I am therefore too scared to use it in case I get it dirty! This problem will no doubt be overcome, but I am a little apprehensive about its new-ness, what if I can’t cook right in it? New ovens take some time and practice to build a strong oven/cook relationship with, so I am expecting a few months of mixed results until I work out it’s quirks and foibles. My signature dishes just wont be the same for a while. And I am trying to decide which dish will get the “first bake” in the new oven – it will be the dish that will define the future of cooking in this oven so it must be suitably impressive – time to pull out the recipe books for some inspiration.

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Thursday, October 09, 2003

I have just had a frightening lift experience. Over my time working in a high rise I have had a few of these experiences (like the one when the lift stopped between floors, lurched and free fell for a bit, and then the doors wouldn’t open and another girl in the lift started crying and freaking out, and a man had a smelly pickle sandwich but luckily the lift worked again after 30 seconds of terror). But I digress from my current story.

So I got in the lift today at my floor (level 12) to go down the ground, and there is a very angry looking courier inside. He is huge, dressed in full leathers with helmet in one hand, and as I step inside he screams at me:

Scary courier: I DIDN”T WANT TO STOP AT THIS FUCKING FLOOR

Me: Oh, Sorry.. (speechless really, and I turn to exit before he punches me, to see the door close behind me – I’m stuck. I always find myself apologising to people for things that are not my fault, must try to stop that)

Him: You’d think with all the FUCKING money that goes through this building they could design a better fucking lift system, THIS BULDING IS FUCKED

ME: Hmm. (Trying to look like I am not terrified that I am about to become the brunt of his lift rage)

HIM: Its just FUCKED. (He then punches the “G” button furiously, and makes a sort of growling noise)

Thankfully at this point we arrived at the ground floor, not having stopped at any other floor. He probably would have killed someone if we had have stopped somewhere else.

Where does all this rage come from in people? Lift rage, road rage, I myself witnessed a terrible case of stapler rage in the office the other day.
People in general need to CHILL THE FUCK OUT. If I come across one more instance of needless rage I’m gonna punch someone myself! (Ha)

I should have yelled after him as he sprinted through the lobby, knocking over little old ladies and leaving people gaping in his wake – “Have a nice day”. Then he really would have killed me….

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Wednesday, October 08, 2003

I had an interesting dinner with an old and good friend last night, where we debated the ticking biological clock issues that face so many women. I guess this was partially inspired by comments and debate raging at MissJenJen’s site, and more so by the position that my friend finds herself in.

She has just turned 29, so she is not old and past her child bearing years by any stretch of the imagination. She has a wonderful boyfriend, the same age, who she has been living with for about a year, and has been seeing him for about four years altogether.

Her problem is that he doesn’t factor marriage and kids into the equation for at least a couple of years, and she is not feeling quite the same way. Her point is, that in two years he may decide that, for whatever reason, he doesn’t want to get married and start a family – and he is really no worse off. Whereas she is another couple of years older and faced with the situation where if she does want children she has to find a new partner (and that is not easy!) and hope to get serious enough that children may be considered all before she is 35 or so. And she doesn’t want to find another partner – she loves the one she has! So she would prefer to get married now, and have a couple of years of life as a committed married couple before she starts a family.

The fact that Men don’t have the same problem with their biological clock gives them a distinct advantage in all of this – but I don’t know that this means that he should compromise his beliefs either. If he doesn’t feel he is ready to get married – but that he loves my friend and is strongly committed to her –he really shouldn’t have to change.

I guess this boils down to a degree of insecurity on her behalf, a panic that it may not all work out perfectly. The reason why women in particular place a lot of emphasis on marriage I think is related to the biological clock – and who has control over that?

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Tuesday, October 07, 2003

My weekend in intoxicating smells – both good and bad - which add that extra dimension to how I like to remember things.

Polyurethane, coffee, paint, tea, ham, thai food, cabernet, freshly cut lawn, spring blossom, petrol, country air, seafood, turkey, champagne, white wine, apple strudel, red wine, fortified shiraz, oak cellar, raspberry jam, fresh hot muffins, more coffee.

Makes it sound like I spent the weekend in a drunken stupor, but someone had to drive. We had a work lunch on Sunday with Mr R’s workmates at Yering Station in the Yarra Valley. Food always tastes better when you don’t cook it yourself and when someone else is paying!

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Thursday, October 02, 2003

One latte later and I am all warm and fuzzy inside, staring out the window at the drizzling rain. I love rain, particularly Spring rain because the air is just that little bit warmer and it makes you want to splash around in your galoshes. Although today is a little chilly.

Galoshes is a word that I love, as well as the Aussie version “gumboots”. It rolls off your tongue and makes me think of splashing, which is always fun unless you are the one getting splashed I guess. Similarly, I love “pumpkin” and “serendipity” and “ornithorhynchus” and so many others that I cant think of right now.

You will all be pleased to know that our floors are finished and are all nice and shiny, except that now the house smells like a chemical plant, so lets hope that goes away soon and we can move back in. Ah – my own bed. At my parents-in-law’s house we have been staying in a double bed, and I miss my queen. I need space when I sleep, and Mr R has a chronic talk in his sleep problem, so with him nattering in my ear about pressure release valves (he is an engineer, through and through) I have not had the most restful of nights. Unfortunately everything is our house is covered in dust after all the floor sanding, so it may take some time to actually find our bed…

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Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Mr R and I are currently staying with his parents whilst a man applies toxic chemicals to our wooden floor so they will shine all prettily. Ah, the things you do.

This has been rather nice, as Mr R’s mum cooks our dinner and generally takes good care of us. Last night we pulled out the family scrabble set for a nice friendly game. Or so I thought…

Mr R has always been very competitive when it comes to scrabble. As an engineer he hates and implication of him not having the best English skills, so he tries to prove that engineers are literate too. Mum is a quiet yet determined player, and Dad just tries to niggle everyone else so as to move the game along at an alarming pace. I am more the slow and steady sort of player as I discard word after word trying to come up with a brilliant (but not necessarily high scoring) answer, thus enabling the game to continue as there are plenty of opportunities to build words off my long and brilliant words. This mix caused some troubles, and there was nearly a nasty incident with my father-in-law trying to use “Z’ after he picked it up on his last turn.

In the version Mr R and I play at home, we award double points for dirty words, so it took some time for me to stop trying to construct them as such and think clean. Maybe m-i-l sensed this, as things got a little uncomfortable when she considered using the word “SLUT”. Thankfully she settled for something a little cleaner, and surprisingly I managed to win. Now they think I am smart and can therefore never play scrabble with them again in case they learn the truth!

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