Wednesday, November 23, 2016

BEST LAID PLANS OF MICE, MEN...AND ME!







And then everything goes awry! While mindlessly watching television (or watching mindless television) I’d spent the night before putting everything into order in my mind, plotting what I intended to do the following day – getting “my ducks in a row”. Disclaimer - No ducks were harmed in the process.   

Before nodding off my plans for the morrow were set, if not in cement, in some semblance of sequence.  I went to sleep content I’d wake up after a few hours of restful repose with a semi-structured form already laid out.  Once I’d returned to a conscious state I’d do this and then do that.  Having completed this and that I’d perhaps even get started on the other thing/s I’d been ignoring for a while. Who knew...if my organisational disposition was such...I might also methodically arrange and back-up in an orderly manner data on my computer hard drive; data that needed storing like winter woollies at winter’s end.   

I drifted off into dreamland; my plans laid before I lay at rest. The plans may not have been in a determined distribution, but were, at best, laid.  All might not have been in apple-pie order (probably more like a deconstructed apple crumble);  but my plans were made and laid for chores to be done, one after the other; squared away, even if not in alphabetical order. 

Off to a good start, I woke the next morning.  Phew!  Things were already going to plan from the get-go. Tick!  Once I kick-started my coffee machine I made a bee-line for the bathroom to shower etc., and then I went outside to kick-start my car...nothing!   

It was as dead as a doornail. Apparently, doornails have been dead since the 1300s through until now.  Nothing will bring them back to life it seems.  Charles Dickens in his “A Christmas Carol” rekindled the saying by declaring – “Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail”.  Poor old Marley and me!

Anyway, returning to my great start (or non-start) to the day.  I lifted the bonnet of my car. I’m not sure what that was going to solve, or what I was trying to prove, but I did it anyway.  At least I didn’t find what I found a couple of months ago when I lifted said bonnet.  Then I found a massive nest as high as the Gold Coast’s Q1 and equal in circumference, had been constructed to the side of the oil tank.  The tenants had absconded without paying their rent, taking their bond money with them. Cheeky little critters! 

Knowing my limitations, I made a phone call. I still had a phone at that stage; I’ll elaborate in a moment!  

Two of our mountain’s finest came to my rescue.  Firstly, Rob, the very dashing mobile mechanic arrived in his trusty dark blue steed.  In no time at all he got me started. Or rather - Rob got my car started.  He pointed me in the direction of Chris who has lots of spare parts...auto spare parts, that is.  So, with the help of those two fine gentlemen - in the words of Willie Nelson – I was “on the road again”. 

The day that had started off with a hiccup got better as it went along.   

The icing on the cake was the generosity of spirit of Kyle, my computer man, who went over and beyond the call of duty to attend to a problem a friend of mine had been having with his computer.  

Four hours after leaping out of bed I finally managed to enjoy a cup of coffee.

That was Monday.  And in the words of Scarlett O'Hara...."After all, tomorrow is another day!"

Come Tuesday, the Energex tree-lopping mob arrived in this laneway to cut back tree limbs and branches along the side of the roadway.   

Energex  is an electric power distribution company owned by the Queensland Government.

I thought I’d been transported back to the Middle Ages.  At any moment I was expecting King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table to appear; or at least, Monty Python!  I looked around in the hope of finding some armour to don because I felt I would need it to save my skin and skull.  It was as if my cabin and I were being bombarded by a dozen, fully-loaded medieval catapults!  Missiles were smashing against my exterior walls with great force and noise.  I feared at any moment one, or more, would come crashing through a window.

Thoughtlessly and recklessly the fellow operating the monstrosity of a machine cut my phone line...snap! 

Blind Freddy would be able to see there is a tall pole there with a line attached - with a white post attached informing everyone a telephone line is attached!!

The fateful blow was struck noon Tuesday.

I’m the Last of the Mohicans.  I don’t have a mobile/cell phone.  I’m dependent upon landline.   I was left without phone usage, and with no Internet.  I was in the middle of doing something, using the Net to do it when...nothing!

Realising immediately what had most likely happened (similar had happened a couple or so years ago) I raced outside.  Read – “hobbled”. 

These days I can’t race anywhere because of my bad hips; so hobble it is.  I probably wouldn’t win a hobble race, either...but then if I was being chased by an angry bull, it might be a different story!

I tossed vanity aside quite a while back, if I ever did suffer from vanity.  I doubt I ever did. Either which way, I replaced it with sensibility.  I use a cane. 

Living alone, with tiled floors, one of my greatest fears is slipping on a wet floor, hitting my head and being knocked out.  Living the life I do, I could be laying there forever before anyone discovered me.  So, yes, I use a cane...because I have to use a cane.

I’m not as agile as I once was.  I turned 72 a couple of weeks ago, and after many years working long hours, on my feet, on hard surfaces; covering large areas and lifting heavy weights that I suppose I shouldn’t having been lifting, but had no choice other than to do so, my hips (and arthritis therein or on) said “enough is enough, already)!  Like us all when we’re younger, I believed I was infallible.  It’s funny how Life has its own script.

Fortunately, I realised what had happened to my phone when I did.  Grabbing my walking stick I hurried as best I could hurry outside.  I could see the phone line lying on the ground, and I could hear men’s voices in the distance – down the end of this lane.

They were packing up their equipment and ready to load the huge “chopping” machine onto the back of a truck, and drive away never to be seen again until the next time.  I needed to catch them before they disappeared.

Fighting my way through the trees and the debris left behind from the chopping and lopping, I bellowed out as loudly as I could...a few times...to the men. 

Finally, one heard me...and he alerted his mates...probably saying, “Hey! Look!  I wonder what that old hag wants!  Halloween is over, isn’t it?”

One decided to break away from the herd and walk up to where I was.  I pointed out what they’d done, explaining my situation etc., etc.  I wasn’t rude; there was no need to be – a little cream gets the job done, not sour grapes; but I did impress the importance of having the line fixed as soon as possible.

The fellow told me he would tell his boss of my predicament, and that he would contact Telstra.  Telstra is Australia’s largest telecommunications etc., company.  I’ve been with them since before the Last Supper.

About an hour later, another Energex guy knocked on my door to let me know that they’d been in touch with Telstra and that my phone line would be re-attached late that afternoon.  I shook the fellow’s hand and thanked him for advising me of the progress.

No one turned up as promised.  

I knew I had to get in contact with Telstra first thing in the morning to shake them up a bit or otherwise my predicament could go on ad infinitum.   

I hate being beholden to anyone; and I hate asking others for anything, but I bit the bullet and went up to my landlords to ask if they could ring Telstra for me.  Other using homing/carrier pigeons or smoke signals I had no other choice.

Everything turned into a Cecil B. DeMille production, as it always does.  Nothing is ever simple!  Bends, curves and corners are created where none need exist.  I’m a “straight-down-the-line” person; one with little patience in some situations.  Hence, my preferring to solve problems myself...but, again, in this instance, I had no other choice!

I was forced to talk with someone in bloody Timbuktu, Uzbekistan (in actual fact - the Philippines) who spoke, of course, muddled English.   

After explaining in minute detail the problem I was experiencing; about how the phone line had been cut, and my telling her myriad times I didn’t have a mobile phone; that my phone line was broken and lying on the ground; and that I had no internet connection because of said problem...she insisted on asking me repeatedly for my mobile phone number and I could download such and such!  Also more than once she told me she would have someone test the “$#%^&%@” line!!!!!

By that stage, I think I had one strand of hair left...if that!  I had used up all the cream and I didn’t hold back how I was feeling!  One could not blame me, and I didn’t care if they did!  I was frustrated and angry to the limit and beyond!

A couple of other curve balls were thrown into the mix, but I won't go into that....

At noon Wednesday a very pleasant local fellow called “Roy” who is contracted by Telstra arrived to re-attach my phone line. 

We had fun conversation; he did the job and went on his way.  

And now, I’m back on air - as well as the road!

Duck Breast in Filo with Berry Compote: Combine 300m soy sauce, 3tbs honey, 1 crushed garlic clove and 1tbs grated ginger; pour marinade over 4 duck breasts; cover; chill overnight. Next day pour into saucepan; add 2c water; bring to simmer; simmer 12mins; remove duck; cool slightly; season. Grab 4 filo sheets; brush each sheet with melted butter; wrap a sheet around each breast; brush with butter. Bake parcels on oven tray at 200C, 15-20mins, until golden. Compote: Place dry saucepan over heat; add 100g coffee crystals or raw sugar; watch carefully; swirl from time to time until sugar melts and colours to caramel. Remove from heat; cool a little; carefully add 50ml Cointreau and 300ml of the marinade. Bring to boil, stirring; boil; reduce to half; add 50g each boysenberries, blackcurrants, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries; bring to boil. Pour into 4 deep warm plates; place parcels on top.   Balsamic vinegar can be substituted for the Cointreau, if preferred.

Apple Crumble Slice: Preheat oven 180°C. Line a 20cm x 30cm tin with baking paper. Place 1x250g Scotch Finger biscuits (Arnott’s biscuits) and 100g butter in bowl; stir to combine. Press firmly into the base of the tin, smoothing the top with a spatula. Refrigerate to set. Place 6 peeled, cored, chopped green apples, 2tbs brown sugar, seeds of1 vanilla bean and 2 cinnamon sticks in a large saucepan over high heat; stir well. Cover; cook 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples have softened.  Remove from heat; stand, covered, 10 mins. Discard cinnamon sticks, roughly mash apples; spread over the biscuit base. Scatter with crushed Butternut Snap biscuits; bake 15 minutes or until golden. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours until set before slicing.

Apple Gratin: Have 1/4c brown sugar and 125g chopped fresh or dried dates at the ready. Using 3-4 peeled and thinly sliced green apples, arrange a layer of apple slices over base of 20cm ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with 3tsp brown sugar and ¼ of dates. Repeat with remaining apple, sugar and dates to form 4 layers. Pour over 300ml cream; sprinkle with extra brown sugar; arrange extra chopped dates in the centre. Bake at 180C, 35-40mins; until apples are tender; serve warm with crème fraîche.

Coffee-Choc Pots:  Combine 1c milk, 1c thick cream and 2tbs lightly-crushed coffee beans in saucepan; bring slowly to boil. Stand 10mins; strain onto 150g finely-chopped dark chocolate; whisk until chocolate melts. Whisk 4 egg yolks and 40g vanilla sugar until well combined. Gently whisk in choc mixture; add 40ml Frangelico. Pour mixture into 4x180ml ramekins. Place in water bath, halfway up sides of pots; bake at 170C, 30mins. Let cool in the water 15mins. Serve at room temp, topped with thick cream and sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts.

35 comments:

  1. How easy it is to kill when dealing with such people!
    We have all been there.
    A friendly lawyer writing to the bums who cut the line would help as compensation is in the wind.
    A friendly call to the Filipino president will have the call centre shot.
    I have a 'pay as you go' mobile for emergencies, I canny work out how to use the rest of it, but there are times like that when it would be useful.

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  2. Hey Mr. Ad-Man....I was in no mood for to suffer fools, that's for sure. And a couple of folk whose path I crossed while some of this was going on, or who crossed my path added fuel to the fire, and were not aware how close they came to being decked!! :)

    Yes...perhaps I should get myself a pay-as-you go mobile for instances like that, rather than have to depend on others. I thought about doing similar yesterday.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

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  3. "Shit Telstra" is a phrase often heard in this house !!

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    1. Hi Helsie....It wasn't Telstra's fault...it was Energex. Telstra fixed the problem caused by the brainless Energex guys who cut the line.

      I just get so frustrated having to speak to someone in the Philippines who speaks broken English, who ask the same inane questions over and over when you've already given, in detail, the details, and answered all questions in detail.

      I have no quarrel with the local Telstra techs up here on the mountain...they're very helpful and pleasant.

      Just a few very frustrating moments...I have litt or rather no patience for stupidity! lol

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  4. Finally you got hooked back up to have a landline.
    Never do I get frustrated with Telstra when trying to explain on the phone to them, patience I have and it's surly needed at times.

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    1. Well, you're more tolerant than I am, Margaret.

      I started off okay, but when I was asked for the umpteenth time for my mobile number (after my advising umpteenth times I don't have a mobile)...or when I was repeatedly told to download 'such and such' on my computer (when I had told them as many times I had no internet connection)...and also told that they would test the line - the line that was laying on the ground snapped through...after I'd explained in minute detail, times over, what had happened...I'm afraid my patience wore thin!

      Usually, I bear with them but it just got a little too much and way over the top the other day! Enough is enough already! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  5. We can laugh now that it's all over, right? I'm laughing at the bit where the non English speaking person repeatedly asks for your mobile number while you repeatedly state that you don't have one.
    Those call centre people really need to realise that not everyone has a mobile. Perhaps you could suggest that next time you get asked if you were happy with how the call went.

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  6. I wonder if maybe next time (god forbid there is a next time)instead of repeating yourself, ask to speak to the person's boss and then explain your dissatisfaction at being asked the same question over and over.

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    1. Hey River...yes, you're right. I can laugh now, after the fact, but at the time I was so, so frustrated (as you can imagine)! ;)

      The call went on for ages and ages...and all I wanted her to do was just report the bloody problem, not turn it into "Gone With the Wind"! Our conversation was as long as the above book, plus its sequel!!

      Thanks for coming by...and your empathy! :)

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  7. Hmmmm Lee. If I was you I'd be starting to get a bit paranoid about technology in general. I think it has it in for you :)
    (Or, to look on the bright side, maybe it's done its worst by now)

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    1. Hi Jenny...I've no need to get paranoid about technology...technology wasn't and isn't the problem. The behaviour and attitude of some humans are the worries!

      It was humans who created the problem...not technology. And, eventually, it was humans who fixed the problems...(these ones were nice humans)! Roy, the Telstra technician; Rob, the mechanic and Chris, the auto spare parts fellow from whom I bought a battery charger...and, of course, Kyle who travelled down to the coast and fixed up the problem my ex was having with Microsoft Outlook. :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  8. Scarlett O'Hara said it best for all of us. My daughter and I live by the creed of thinking about it tomorrow...

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    1. Hi Annie...she certainly did. It's one saying that remains with us...and one we so often heed! lol

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  9. I creased up at "the old hag" remark. Very funny.

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    1. Hey there, Treey...thanks for popping by. :)

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  10. Sigh. All too familiar. And the call centres do my head in. Further.
    Glad that you have been reconnected, without having to resort to violence.

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    1. It was getting close, EC! My patience had worn past the stage of thin! lol

      Thanks for coming by...keep your chin up. I hate that you're having to go through such a sad time.

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  11. OMG, what a drama. What's that saying, it never rains unless it pours? Imagine if the Energex guys managed to knock down their own powerlines in the tree lopping ...

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    1. I went to turn my laptop on tonight and nada. Hopefully it won't be out of action long ~ I need to get my data if it before I leave.

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    2. G'day Carol...accidents happen, of course...but it's the careless attitudes that go along with some by some that annoy me.

      I hope your laptop is back working...you need to get to your data far more than I do...and I know how I am when I can't get to mine! lol

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  12. OMG..No phone...No computer. Big ouch.
    72? May I say you wear it well:)

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    1. Hey Sandra...My profile pic was taken six years ago...when I was six years younger! :) I hate getting my photo taken! Hence the reason I've not taught my two furry mates how to use my little camera!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  13. I can do a fantastic Indian (dot, not feather) dialect, and more than twenty times this year I have used it with the desired effect....if I was desiring to go into telephone mortal combat.

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    1. Hahahahahaha! You're almost as mad as I am, Dana...almost! lol

      Thanks for popping in. :)

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  14. Telstra and Energex sound like character names from a science fiction film. Fighting for supremacy and ultimate control of Planet Tamborine, neither of them had reckoned on meeting a lady with a cane. She was wearing thigh length patent leather boots and a shiny corset tied very tightly at the back. Telstra and Energex gulped in unison.

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    1. I wonder who that would be. With my cranky hip (which is almost...almost as cranky as me) I'd be unable to put on thigh length boots, let alone get them off again. As for the corset....I'd be flat out tying that up at the back, too. And my two furry mates would pause at doing so because their paws are incapable of attending to such a chore.

      The Telstra fellow was very good...the thoughtless blindness of the tree-loppers left much to be desired though!

      Thanks for coming by, Yorkie. :)

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  15. You painted this picture so beautifully I did smile now and then. I'm glad altogether things ended up fine. It was just the getting there was a little trying for you.

    Blessings.

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    1. Hey, Gail! Yes...everything ended up well. I just got concerned when I was told it wouldn't be fixed for three or so days. That's when I hit the roof...but the roof was padded so I didn't hurt myself! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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    2. Thanks for your visit.

      Have a very Merry Christmas.

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  16. Hi ...Treey sent me over!
    Glad he did - and so pleased that in the end you got your landline sorted.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Hey there Jan...thanks for coming by...please don't be a stranger. You're always welcome. :)

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  17. What an ordeal. But glad things are back to normal. Your story about your car trouble reminded me of the Jerry Seinfeld joke about the guy whose car doesn't start opening the hood (bonnet) to inspect. I think the joke goes, what does he expect to see, a giant on/off switch on off? In your case, you spotted the trouble right away. Hope all is going better now. Reminds me of the saying, life is what happens when we've made other plans.

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    1. Hey there, Dave. When I lifted the bonnet that day I found the huge nest...I sure didn't expect to see that! lol

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  18. My goodness - you've had quite a time of it, Lee! So glad things are OK now.

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    1. Hi Lynn...It certainly hadn't been what I planned for, that's for sure! lol

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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