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.