Saturday, 18 August 2007
This boot is one of many knick-knacks we inherited from ABM's great-aunt Phyllis. My Nana also had one of these ornaments. They were popular in the 1940s and '50s. Is it a kind of elevation of the common man? The working boot, evoking blood, sweat and tears and a job well done at the end of the day. A drain dug. A road mended. A track cleared.
Speaking of tracks cleared, this morning we farewelled C our youngest son who is off to take up his position as an 'Official Track Clear-er' for DOC. This time I believe it will be a long time until (if ever) he needs to come 'back home' to roost. This time he has got himself a permanent job (other times the work has been seasonal.)
As I washed the bedding and towels and cleaned out his room, I felt it sinking in more and more: ABM and I have the place to ourselves again. ABM said that the expectation of imminent return has its own presence, and it is a weird feeling when it's absent. I agree. When someone is living with you, even if you don't see them much (C was often out for long periods of time) there was always the expectation that he was coming back for meals, to sleep, to do his laundry, to sit and watch TV with us, play his music, catch up on his emails, have a shower etc. Now even that has gone, leaving us with JUST US. A nice feeling, yet a strange one. It'll take me a week or two ...
C said it's whitebaiting season, and therefore the busy season in the West Coast town where he's headed. In the supermarket the other day an older woman in the queue behind me had a packet of frozen whitebait in her basket. She couldn't resist telling me how it seemed a shame she had to resort to buying frozen whitebait, as she remembered when she was younger catching it fresh and cooking it up into patties, and how scrumptious it was. "It's not the same at all," she said ruefully. I couldn't think of anything to say that was appropriate, wise or witty. In the end, "At least you have your memories," was all I could come up with. Duh.
View from Arawa Street, Dunedin.
We have been invited round for dinner with friends tonight, and we're bringing dessert. As usual I was stuck for brilliant ideas. Not being into cooking, it's always a major dilemma. I often end up going to the supermarket and delving into the freezer to find something expensive and different.
If I was into living up to the expectation of all upper middle-class-ers - listening to Kim Hill and hearing about how to make an Auckland dessert; something that doesn't involve crystallized cherries or angelica, something with white chocolate, raspberries or schnapps, something called baklava, New York Cheesecake or Cranberry Hootycreeks; maybe then I could really impress.
But there's too much of the Southland girl in me for that. (At the hint of anything pretentious, I can always hear my father's voice growling, 'Lah-di-dah.')
In the end I've used a tried and true, 70s recipe. The old chocolate chip log. Chocolate chip biscuits dunked in sherry and then, using whipped cream, pressed together into a log. Simple, homely and able to be made quickly if you're armed like I am with my mother's Southland elbows.