Home Two – Drink

live at home.

That means I get to drink at home as well. And I ‘m not talking about buttermilk. I have a liquor cabinet and a wine rack and enough clean glasses to host a block party.

The advantages of drinking at home are many:

a. There is no danger of being over the .05 % alcohol limit on the road. The car is parked in the carport, I am parked at either my dinner table or in front of my fireplace and I can have that cocktail without trepidation.

b. The cost of the drink is much lower than the same thing in a pub, club, or restaurant.

I do not begrudge the licensed premises their prices and profits – I realise that they pay far more in maintaining their business than just my pint or martini. They must have a fair return to be there.

But I do growl when I see the price of half a bottle of whiskey being charged for a cocktail that has one jigger of liquor in it tricked up with a show and a shot of water. If I was incapable of making a better cocktail I would have to accept this, but I own a Savoy book and good implements and know how to measure and shake.

c. I can have what I like, rather than what is on offer at the bar. My tastes are pedestrian enough that my local bottle shop can cater for any whim. I do not whim often, but stick to what I enjoy and to what does me good..

d. It does me good. A daily tot ups the spirits without drowning the intellect. I feel the master of the house when I can call for a glass…even if I then have to go and prepare it.

e. I can afford to treat friends who call. And there is none of that multiple buying frenzy that happens when a group meet in a pub. I am standing the rounds in my own house and while I might pour many, I only need to drink the amount that suits me.

f. No Zone Of Smoke to pass through coming in and out of my house.

g. I can go to bed when I like. This may involve putting out the cat and the visitors, but the mat is a big one and accommodates them all.

Advertisements

Home One – Food

I live at home.

Unlike many people who live at hotels, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, sports stadiums, airports, or overseas resorts…I live at home. I do it because I can, and because it does me far more good than the other choices.

The first major attraction for me is the food at home. It comes out of our pantry, freezer, refrigerator, and mysterious boxes that a kid brings to the door. Nearly all of it, save the mysterious flat boxes, passes through my hands via utensils that I use to boil, fry, broil, bake, and steam. I aim to produce one meal a day that can keep the family healthy, and sometimes I can even extend to two – if one of these is simple fare.

I prepare food that tastes good, and has vitamins, fibre, carbs, protein, and pepper. A lot of the recipes are derived from those used by my mother, but adapted to my lesser skills. I am pleased to say that we rarely have a failure so gross that it needs to be buried.

Home food has another great advantage – price. Admittedly we pay metro supermarket prices for the ingredients that come into the house, but the cost of a good dinner at our table is very much less – in some cases 1/6th – of that at a local restaurant. The cost of a bad dinner – the fast food burger – is about the same but the home-cooked one has nutrition and taste.

And the other kitchen factors? Well, I have two arms and two hands and can wash dishes. We have a brand-new oven, grill, and stove, so there is no technical reason we cannot have good food. And when we eat at home, I do not have to keep reassuring a hovering waiter that the dinner is alright.

Plus there is no surcharge on weekends and public holidays.

The House Rules

house

A friend of this writer has just been given the keys to her new house. As she is a co-subscriber to Facebook, she will be reading this column. So here goes with the advice for the new home-owner…

a. Houses make noises. They make more when they are very new and very old. Things move and creak and occasionally thump. They also hiss and splash. You can start up wide awake and panic if you wish, and run around and try to find out what it was, but it will still happen again next week.

b. The paint that looked good in the shop will look different at home. Paint with it anyway – you will grow accustomed to it.

c. ” Easy Clean Up ” appears on many paint tins. It is a taunt by the paint maker.

d. Yes, that is a crack in the plaster. No, it is not your fault. It is also not the fault of the builder. It is the fault of the fault. Wait 5 years, plaster it over and paint again.

e. Not. Enough. Electrical. Points. I know you asked for 57 of them to be put in each room and the wiring loom looks like the CINFOC of the NIMITZ but you will still be trying to find a double adapter to plug in the coffee pot. Double adapters sales keep Bunnings in business.

f. It’s not raining now. One day it will. And you will discover if the gutters work. Every day is an adventure.

g. None of your furniture fits. Resign yourself to that. At least you are not trying to fit your stuff into a 5th floor apartment with a bay window.

h. That Mwahahahaha sound you hear is the local IKEA accountant. I’m not gonna tell you why…

i. You can close the front door from the inside and no-one can say you nay. This is one of the most powerful sources of pride and comfort you will ever have.

j. Every month you pay your mortgage, you own a little bit more. You are actually advancing, not retreating.

k. You can keep a pet. You can keep 2 pets. You can keep 18 pets. Legally. But you can’t keep ’em off the bed…

l. Lawn. Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.

m. If you don’t want a lawn, consider digging a gun emplacement.

n. After you put up curtains, you can run around the inside of the house in the nuddy. You can also do this before you put up curtains but expect a different sort of reaction from the neighbours.

o. Floor coverings are a breeze if you have enough pets. Just comb them until you reach the level of carpet that you need.

p. Neighbours have parties. Just like destroyers have sirens and steel mills have blast furnaces.

q. Expect to lose three mail boxes per decade to thieves. You wouldn’t expect the sort of people who steal mail boxes to be the sort of people who would actually get mail, so I reckon they sell them on to South America in a sort of a postal slave traffic. Possibly they make bongs out of them. I don’t know. If I ever discover where the mail box my late father made went to after the thieves took it, I am going to steal it back.

r. They also steal wheelie bins, plants, garden ornaments, and light fixtures.

s. An internal burglar alarm is a good investment. So is a revolver.

t. Good fences make good neighbours. Willy willys blow down good fences. Then you find out what your neighbours are really like.

u. Housewarming parties are fun if it is not your house.

v. The dog is going to become extremely territorial in the new house. This is as it should be. Give him a dirty old rolling and lolling place under a shady tree.

w. You cannot tell your neighbour what colour to paint their house. Be thankful that they are not from Finland. Finns have a colour sense that is bracing, to say the least…

x. Buy three of whatever light fitting you have selected as the feature for the front of the house. You will break it and Bunnings will never have a replacement. By buying three you can get at least a decade of style before having to drill more holes in the brick and trying to make the entry look good.

y. I’ll bet you thought that the drainage in the laundry was going to get rid of all the water. The mop’s in the closet.

z. Yes, I know the house has flyscreens. No, I don’t know how the mosquito got it. Here’s a thong*. Deal with it.

And welcome to the Homeowner’s Association.

 

* Flip-flop sandal for the North Americans…

 

A Holiday Is Not A Vacation

Ban

And a Vacation is not a Tour. And a Tour is not a Journey.

And a Journey is not a Holiday…

Welcome to the circle of someone-else’s-life. The glossy brochure discount special website revue of us telling you where to go for a fee, and you paying that fee. It’s Travel Time.

I expect that every reader of this weblog column has taken a trip at some stage of their life. They have set out from the place where they belong and gone to where they do not…and then reversed the process with a bag full of dirty underwear. Bus station sandwiches and airline trays are familiar fare. They have arrived at accomodation that does not match the brochure with no alternative available. They have discovered that there are extras on the bill. They are seasoned travellers, and the seasoning is either salt or ashes…

Well, take heart. It is possible to find the good and avoid the bad. You can attain peace and happiness and recruit your frazzled nerves  during a well-earned break. Here are some simple tips:

a. Make sure it is a well-earned break. If it is a holiday a week after your last holiday or if it is just another jaunt instead of doing something useful in the world, you are likely to have an underlying feeling of shame. That feeling is real and should tell you to stay at work and get something done.

b. Make sure you can afford the holiday. If you can’t, you are better off staying at the desk, counter, or plough. Debt is not a holiday.

c. Make sure you really want to see the people who live wherever you are going. If they are someone you would avoid in your home town – as being dodgy, dangerous, smelly, uninteresting, or ugly – you can be sure that they will be doubly so in their own country, and they will not have to try to conceal it  – you are going to be the stranger and you’ll have to put up with it.

d. Look at the tourist brochure and see if the sights that they are offering are something that you really care about. If not, you are sacrificing comfort, money, and tranquility for no good. If you couldn’t care less about ancient ruins at the bottom of your street, you don’t need to see them up the side of the Andes.

e. Is the destination likely to put you in danger of death? Or crippling debt? Or shame? Yes? So why are you going? You could get that in the rattier parts of your own town and be home in time to watch Australian Idol. Note: If you are going because the government is sending you to kill people than this caveat does not apply. Remember to pick up your brass.

f. Those people in the travel doco or brochure are actors. The people a metre away from the airport door are not. The former have to be attractive, interesting, polite, and welcoming. The latter – no. Expect ugly, rude, and greedy. Hell, you get that at the local IGA on Thursday Pensioner Day, so why should Middle Europe be any different. It’s the same damn people…

g. If they tell you that you need an International Drivers License it is because they wish to fleece you for petrol, insurance, repairs, and baksheesh. If they tell you that you do not need one, it is because they wish to fleece you for all the above plus a local permit to apply for a permit to apply for…

h. Militia. The common characteristics of militia in any country are that they carry firearms and that they want you to give them money. John Dillinger would have been a militiaman if he had thought of it.

i. If you go to a country where you can officially drink you will be sold expensive bad liquor. If you go to a country where they forbid drink you will be sold expensive bad liquor and then fined for buying it. If they have been drinking it themselves you may be beaten in the bargain, for the sake of God’s pleasure. Don’t expect that to make sense, but reflect that they do not sell bad liquor at Dan Murphy’s and they rarely beat the customers.

j. If you throw a cardboard box of old clothes into the back of a ute you can drive it on vacation for free. If you lift it onto the counter of an airline company you can pay a stiff price for the same old clothes’ vacation. If you take the ute rather than the Boeing, your clothes usually arrive at the same time you do.

k. Try something out this weekend. Find the smallest and hardest seat in your house, put up a partition either side so that you cannot move your arms, sit down in it, turn on your stereo set with the sound of a jet motor whining at about 95 dB, and stay there for 24 hours. Every four hours have someone bring you coffee or baby food in a tray. Allow yourself one toilet break.

At the end of this, stand in the lounge room for 45 minutes slowly shuffling forward. At the end of the 45 minutes ask your next door neighbour to sneer at you.

Welcome to London.