Treasure The Honest Shopkeeper

If you find a shopkeeper who will refuse to sell you something on the basis that it is not right for you, you have a gem.

These people may be hard to find – but if you enter into conversation with them over a regular basis -and if it is a genuine and respectful exchange…you can find a whole new world of intelligent help out there.

I talk regularly to the family who run our local post office agency – and to the lady and the chap who run the Asian food store in the shopping centre. I talk to the man who runs the bottle shop, and to the lady who is teller at my local bank. The result is I get told how to cook well with the Asian ingredients, when to change my deposits for good interest rates, and how to send postal items safely at low cost.

Occasionally the bottle shop man warns me off a dud or mentions a good deal. I am always repaid for listening.

Moral: Your local retailers are human beings who appreciate being treated as such and who  will  make your life better if you recognise the fact.

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Never Mind The Chicken Soup For The Soul

Souls can take care of themselves.  What we’re making here is chicken soup for dinner.

Last night was roast chicken night. With potatoes, sweet potatoes, and whatever else was sitting in the vegetable locker at our house. The whole lot went into a big old covered roasting pan, which in turn went into an oven at 200º C…and then the cook went out and built model airplanes in his Little Workshop.

And they are coming along splendidly, thank you. The main thing was that the cooking process was quite slow and quite simple – and the roast chicken was appreciated by all concerned.

Not eaten all up, however, and that brought me to the kitchen bench this morning. I stripped the carcass of all usable meat and then boiled the bones a little. This, and the jelly left over in the roasting pan, went to make a superb stock – into which everything else that has been hiding in the back of the icebox was dropped. Carrots, peas, a crust of stale bread, a half-cut onion…( It had been drinking…) plus a little more black pepper and a handful of herbs.

The cook is going back out to the Little Workshop and is going to glue landing gear onto airplanes – and tonight’s dinner will again make itself. The point is you do not need to hover over your stove like a TV chef if you have the right ingredients and the right containers. And you do not need to plate it out with a raspberry pureé…

Hint: go look through the Goodwill Store for cooking pots that have proved that they can do their job. Never mind the fancy new kitchen store stuff. Here’s the 1940’s metal roasting pan minus one of its handles which my Dad never did get around to fixing in 1954…I have not got round to fixing it quite yet, myself.

Addendum: The soup was delicious – and there is a pot of leftover soup in the icebox for tomorrow. We live good here.

The Watch Tower And The Listening Post…

We should all be prepared to realise that the things we write on the internet:

a. Will never go away, unless they are useful and vital to our well-being. Then they’ll vanish without trace.

b. Are overseen by any number of state and private agencies and snoopy individuals.

c. Are carefully noted when they contain trigger words that deal with state security or criminal activities. Even if we innocently write the words ” bomb plot ” or ” My Kitchen Rules ” they will trigger an automatic recording by someone in Langley, Virginia, Beijing, and Moscow. Also probably in Pyongyang and possibly in Canberra. They will certainly be noted in Bombay and used to provide the telephone scammers with a target.

This is a problem for those of us who routinely write about shelling the local council offices with a howitzer because we can never tell whether the federal government snoopers will think it a bad idea…or a good one. I guess we’ll find out if someone leaves a free basket of 250mm shells at the front door tied up with a pink ribbon and bearing a ” Thank You ” card.

My chief fear is that the things that I write will lead to my friends being arrested, tried in secret, and jailed for long periods. And that I won’t be there to see the fun.

Still, there is always hope – you are reading this right now, and your internet address has been sent to a group of hackers in Athens. With any luck you should be getting your ransom demand in a couple of hours. They are not greedy – you can pay in moussaka and retsina.

 

 

 

The Heatless Wave Gripping Australia

Here in Australia we are tortured and mocked every day by North Americans and Europeans with their news reports about heat waves. As we sit shivering over a meagre fire or try to stave off freezing by wrapping several dogs around us, they bask in the sunshine that is rightly ours and then have the temerity to complain about it.

Even the cartoonists and comics are on the game of complaining about heat. In some cases it is reasonably decent – over 38º C and a comfortable operating temperature. One could go around without a jumper and not feel the chill. In other instances it sounds like they are just bleating for the sake of hearing themselves. 35º for a week? In our summer we dream of this sort of comfort.

Well, it is almost August and the trough of winter is nearly gone. Soon it will be spring and we can all sit laughing at the hay fever sufferers as the Wattle Bomb detonates. And those of us who depend upon warm, dry weather to do airbrushing and painting can start our seasonal binge. I can hardly wait.

What Exactly IS Fashion?

I ask myself this a couple of hours before attending a fashion parade – this one organised as part of the publicity and foo faw associated with a commercial trade expo. The basic event is promulgated by the local camera shop I used to work for, and I am going along to get material for the weblog column I write for them.

I think it will be a theatrical event designed to give the wannabees the thrill of seeing themselves as pro photographers. In the real thing there are pro photographers looking to give themselves the trill of getting paid. I have no idea from whence the thrill is meant to come for the models who stride the catwalk.

I have been mean to these model ladies and gentlemen before by referring to them as the slim, grim, and dim…but maybe I should be prepared to turn round and look at the audience as well. Why are they there? I can’t believe that they have any intention of buying the clothes on parade – either for themselves or for other people. They are forbidden by law from buying the girls and boys who walk the catwalk…though they may be rented occasionally. The only people there who have some hope of getting a benefit are the photographers and the owner of the venue.

Well, wish me luck. I’ll be the chap in the back with the reporter camera and the notebook hoping that there will be a fight or animal attack. And snacks. At least I know what I want…

Addendum: It was great. There was beer and snacks and rescue greyhounds in pyjamas. Also a crowd of camera people snapping away like mad. When I left early to write for my deadline they were still going great guns. But the business of snapping fashion sounds like a hard grind for a meal ticket.

Piracy On The High Seas

I love pirates. From Johny Depp as Jack Sparrow to Errol Flynn as Captain Blood they have swashed buckles and shivered timbers from Tortuga to Tahiti. Even Aardman had wonderful pirates as animated characters.

I’m even more impressed with the ones off the Horn of Africa who try to zoom aboard passing merchant ships and rob the crews. And I just loooove the way the US, Britain, France, and the Russians treat them – from opening up on their tin can boats with autocannon to boarding them and blowing them up with satchel charges.

I note that the Iranian floating terrorists are now entering the game and stepping up the pace with ship captures and mines.

Please, let us return to the days of the Caribbean and the Royal Navy sinking pirates on sight. And Wapping Stairs, please. In chains.

Rules of engagement for countering pirates: There’s one, open fire.

PS: Let the air squadrons play too. If they can’t get a Warthog that far out from the coast, surely someone has a spare gun pack in the stores they could clap onto a Hornet.

Pirates are ALWAYS freie Vögel…whether they have a mullah or a mad king at their back. And eventually you get to storm their pirate nest and burn it to the ground. It took care of Port Royal and Cartagena…and Bandar-e Abbas is no different.

Sour Grapes Plates

The personalised number plate business in Western Australia is booming – closely followed by a number of people who decry it. For every citizen who is prepared to pay the state government $ 535 to $ 685 for their own lettering on the plates – there is another internet poster who thinks it is foolish and believes that it is their mission life to scoff.

Well, I like scoffing as much as the next anonymous Facebook writer, but in this case I think the detractors are in the wrong – for a number of reasons:

  1. The decision to buy a personal plate is not forced upon any motorist. They are free to take whatever the dealer places on their car at a lower cost.
  2. The wording of the plate must pass some official scrutiny and the rules that govern it are fairly spelled out. No profanity, no incitement, etc. A plate doesn’t appear without permission.
  3. The money raised from the plate sales presumably goes into general coffers – and thence to public works, like roads, schools, and hospitals. More money than standard plates, hence more contribution to state welfare.
  4. The plates are distinctive. This is both a good and bad thing for the driver – they are more likely to be remembered and spotted than if they have standard plate. if they behave with care and distinction on the road this means we can praise them and if not, they can be easily identified.
  5. The are sometimes amusing to read – sometimes puzzling -and sometimes a prudent warning about the mind set of the driver. This can be very useful when the motorist is an hoon or idiot – you can avoid them.
  6. They are a harmless amusement. Hard to find harmlessness these days as everyone is uptight about everything, but a Mini car with ” The Moocher ” on it is a pretty cheerful sight.
  7. All too often we are a number -a Centrelink number, a bank number, an ABN number. Or just a series of passwords and PIN numbers. We often lose our names to everyone else. How nice to have a distinctive plate that we choose.
  8. A personal-plated car is more likely to be cherished, maintained, and driven carefully by the owner.
  9.  A personal plate on a Mercedes, Volvo, Lexus, or BMW that features a number of “8”s on it is as good an identifier as a roundel would be on an Air Force plane. Sort of an IFF signal, but in this case an IFW. If you know what to look for you know to give it a wide berth in car parks.
  10.  For my part I would like to see a return of the old-fashioned yellow ” L ” plate and red ” P ” plate fixed at a standard height on a standard position – the bumper bar or the grill of the car. The practice of plastering something behind a windscreen or rear window that cannot be seen other road users defeats the entire purpose of the warning.

I would also like to see similar plates for us elderly drivers – perhaps a red/yellow striped plate that warns others that we are going to drive more slowly and cautiously.