Apart from reconstructing our backyard, this summer holiday seems to be all about lasagne.
Now I love lasagne but I haven’t made it in ages – me being on a high protein diet and all – and I’m good at making it.
My bechemel sauce is thick, smooth and creamy goodness.
The bolognaise is bolognaisy.
The lasagne sheets are well… flat.
It’s not hard to make let’s be honest.
But it is comfort food and I was inspired to make one recently for friends who have been going through a tough couple of weeks.
My daughter was keen to do the cooking, so supervising from my position of on all fours nailing down decking, we got to it.
I’d forgotten how messy lasagne is to make but the end result looked like a bought one and the friend was very happy not to cook for a night.
We left feeling comforted ourselves, in the pious afterglow of a good deed done, and made a second lasagne for ourselves on return, the kitchen being already a tip site.
It tasted yummy – I hadn’t lost my lasagne mojo.
So last night we had some friends over visiting from Adelaide.
It was a hot day and we decided rather than going out for a cheap meal at our local favourite Vietnamese restaurant we’d entertain at home on our nearly completed decking.
The temperature was perfect outside as a light seabreeze wafted through under the newly installed pergola, and we admired the soft feel of old boards under our feet, and the gently swinging paper lanterns.
I cooked lasagne.
Now it’s been a while since I’ve had a dinner party – if you don’t count Christmas which lets face it, has a pretty set menu.
And I didn’t ask if there were any dietary considerations…
So boring to have to ask really but these days… well most people are intolerant to something.
I should have asked.
3/4 guests had a dairy intolerance – and my lasagne is half cheese.
But what do you do?
I cooked up the three small kebabs I had in the fridge and let them serve themselves.
The younger son, bless him, reckoned he could handle some cheesy goodness, but was dissuaded sensibly by his mother.
It turned out to be a pretty meagre spread it must be said, especially if you weren’t keen on salad.
I felt bad, but what could I do?
It has made me ponder this morning what the etiquette is when going to someone’s house for dinner.
Is it up to the host to inquire after your eating issues?
Maybe I need to consider having a “standby” meal somewhere, just in case? And more than three kebabs.
Or on receipt of an invitation, is it incumbent upon you to say “Thank you, why that would be lovely, just to let you know I’m (lactose, peanut, seafood, meat etc) intolerant…”
Seems a bit rude.
A bit presumptuous…. “Well I wasn’t going to serve you prawns anyway!”
A bit looking at the horse’s teeth.
I’m leaning towards saying nothing and hoping for the best (while packing my fridge with optional extras) – but that’s just little non confrontational me.
Oh and last night’s guests? They filled up on the chocolate cake they brought and we all played Singstar.
This photo is of me driving home after a dinner party.
I submit it as evidence that I take my turn as skipper.
Anyway at dinner the other night, my host was recounting a conversation we’d had the day before.
He said – I was wondering if you asked the question to get fodder for your blog… this guy hangs around comedians a lot and sometimes he’s sure they are not making conversation – just testing out material.
I wasn’t fishing I swear but now that I think about that conversation again I think it is blog-worthy.
So the question I asked was “how soon in a relationship do you offer constructive criticism to your lover?”
The answer from the third party to this conversation was not what we expected.
And actually, thinking about that answer… I think you had to be there.
Sorry to wuss out on you.
But I think the question is an interesting one.
Maybe it depends on how much you like the person you are with.
The more you like them, the more you are willing to work on making the relationship work.
Otherwise surely you would just lie back and think of England and then not return their phone calls.
Of course by offering your (let’s not call it criticism) feedback, there is a risk that you might offend the one you like.
My take is you have to get this part of your relationship right or it has no future… right?
But you don’t need to be mean about it.
So my conclusion… be vocal – from the beginning – but with kindness.
And that means if your partner is not telling you what they like or don’t like – maybe you need to worry!
I hate it when people smoke around me – I hate it.
It makes my hair smell, my clothes smell. I feel dirty. I could be getting lung cancer.
So who made me say to Groover over lunch on Sunday: “I’d rather they smoke”?
A group of mothers with babies.
No they weren’t breastfeeding.
Well they may have been but I don’t find that offensive, just normal.
And I don’t have a problem with lactating women going out to share a Sunday lunch of fish and chips with their friends. No really, good on them.
What I do have a problem with is trying to sip my lemon, lime and bitters with the cloying smell of Johnson & Johnson babywipes mixed with baby poo wafting over me.
SERIOUSLY GROSS PEOPLE!
We’d got there late.
The pub was full to overflowing and the only table free was one in the corner next to a large table of mums and babies.
Personally I’d rather sit near the lactation crowd than a bunch of yobbos or even parents with active 4 year olds, so I was pleased when they pulled their stroller closer to them, unblocking the path to the table, and we sat down.
“Ohhhh isn’t she cute”, I said to Groover as we sipped our drinks (Does one sip beer… should I say slurped?), “Remember when ours were that little…”
We gazed fondly over at the crowd as we relived those fast dimming memories, and I also reflected on playgroup lunches… the sort you have when you become a member of the Bub Club.
Hugamuga was at work, and Dippity was volunteering at a local fair so we relished this unexpected opportunity for a middle-of-the-day date.
We started chatting about this and that… Groover’s new business, holiday fantasies, what we were going to do over Easter, the grocery shopping…
“What is that smell?”
I was back – 11 years ago – that revoltingly familiar poo/babywipe combination.
I couldn’t taste the lemon or the lime or the bitters.
The window above our table was locked shut.
The stroller had slid back between the tables.
I was trapped.
And the mother had laid her baby down on the padded bench seat and was changing it’s nappy.
At the table.
In the restaurant.
While other people were eating.
How can she think that’s okay?
On which planet is that okay?
Tell me I’m not alone in thinking that there are places to change baby’s nappies and peak hour dining on a Sunday afternoon is NOT one of them!
I’d have honestly preferred her to light up a cigarette.
For one, the smell would not have been so offensive.
And also, I’d have felt less inhibited about telling her to stop.
Mothers. They can be intimidating. I know. I am one.
I went to see Nostalgia. A Japanese production which opened last night along with the Perth International Arts Festival.
It was in a space created within the Perth Convention Centre and it is an excellent production.
It is not the easiest of theatre experiences. It is all in Japanese – apart from the titles to the various sections which are in English.
And it is quite long.
Nostalgia tells the little-known story of the migration of thousands of Japanese workers to Brazil in the early 20th century. Follow the 40-year wanderings of a Japanese family as they search for a better future through the turmoil of revolution in South America.
The company, Inshinha, rarely performs outside of Japan. More…
There’s a large cast of singers/dancers/actors and the music is beautiful especially supplemented as it is with the rythmic chanting of the cast and their sharp movements.
The sets are extraordinary, and the visual feast is enhanced with a large screen which adds yet another dimension.
Even though I knew only the bare bones of the storyline (tip: read the program notes), I was drawn along with the story and intrigued to find out more.
Some of the sections could have been a shorter and still made sense – it was a lot of theatre without a break – nearly two and a half hours – but Feline and I loved it.
There was even a giant puppet, which we argued over as to it’s symbolism, so I’d be interested in what you think.
So why am I “nostalgic for manners”?
Well here’s the thing. About an hour into the production the ushers were still letting people into their seats.
I can understand being 5 minutes late, reprehensible though it is, I live in a glass house on this one, but an hour?!
And it wasn’t as if you could sneak in the back. You had to clamber up a pitch black metal staircase from the front.
Stomp stomp stomp.
Perth Festival – you need to get tough.
And then there were the early leavers.
It was a long time to go without a pee and maybe they found it too hard, but I was disappointed to see people leaving part way through.
It was really distracting for the rest of us.
I think if you’re going to make a commitment to see a festival production you need to stick with it. Reading the notes in the guide you would be able to tell it wasn’t going to be a Broadway musical.
So there’s my rant.
After the show we went to the Festival club at Becks Music Box which was lovely – such a great venue.
So far we’ve had three city Festival clubs after the Undercroft at UWA… there was the set up outside the Art Gallery, the Verandah at the Perth Concert Hall and now the Music Box in the front of the city.
Well, it’s not so much a fashion decision as a clothes decision. A practical, “Bloody hell! Nothing to wear again!” decision.
I’ve decided I’m going to give up on separates for work and instead buy five dresses which will end up being my uniform.
Okay five to start with.
I’ve already started – not with the dress pictured.
The other day I was flicking through the David Lawrence sales rack and came across a belted black dress marked down.
It fitted well and is perfect for work.
It washes easily and is a snap to iron.
I don’t have to match it with anything, and it looks smart.
I tend to wear it on Mondays.
On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays I stare gormlessly into my wardrobe and try and patch together something that looks okay.
The dress is so easy I reckon it’s the way to go.
However finding a source of perfect dresses is not proving as easy as I hoped, and then my colleague turns up yesterday in a dress I would have bought in a snap (from Cue) had I seen it first but of course now I can’t because we sit next to eachother and wearing the same dress would be naff.
I’m a bit fussy.
First of all I have winter colouring so all those nasty shades of yellow and brown are OUT.
Secondly I prefer V necks on me.
Thirdly I like it to be fitted to the waist and reach to my knee – but not to go below it.
And finally – it can’t be too expensive.
These conditions do seem to knock out most of the stock I’ve seen in shops.
In fact it’s proving so problematical I’m thinking of making one myself.
(although Mum, you know it is my birthday on Monday…)
Have you seen anything out there?
Speaking of sitting next to someone in the same dress, years ago, when Groover worked in Sales and had a box at the Hopman Cup, I experienced this first hand.
The box was small and seated four.
I was wearing a peacock blue fitted dress – a stunning dress – not a dress you could ignore – I felt thin and special in it (actually I was pretty thin at the time) and as I sat there – I watched this lady ascend the stairs to our grandstand. She was wearing the same dress.
“Ha ha I joked to Groover, I hope she isn’t your guest.”
“No she’s not.”
“Oh phew… how embarrassing to have to sit here all afternoon wearing the same dress…”
“She’s his wife.”
At the first break I excused myself and drove home to change.