Sunday, 21 August 2011

A Day In The Life of My Phone, and a Half-Arsed Pavlova Recipe

Actually, that title is a blatant lie.

It’s several days in the life of my phone.

Not that my phone has a life. I haven’t somehow bestowed animation upon it. If I could do that sort of thing I would probably raise the dead. But only the ones who deserved it. And only if they were still fresh. And not likely to change the course of history in a bad way.

Several days in my life, some moments of which I have captured on my phone.

There. I’m much more comfortable with that statement.

In no particular order:

Something you don’t want to see crawling out of your boot in the morning

Spotted this plant at work in a swamp. Didn’t know what it was and thought it looked invasive so I decided to photograph it and look it up later. I was a bit worried that it was alligator weed, but now that I have gotten around to looking it up (several months later) I have discovered that it is not... I don’t think... Good thing, that...

Same day. Someone found this fella on site. I guess he died from shock because he didn’t seem to be physically injured. We **were** making quite a bit of noise, I guess... I was pretty sure at the time that it was an Antechinus (native rat) but now that I’m reviewing the photos I think it might be something else, possibly a domestic rat. Either way, it was dead when we found it.

Same day. Frogger! Obviously my phone prefers taking photos of things 2 meters away than up close.

Different day, different place, same operator. What the hell is it?? Does anyone know? I’m talking about the creepy-crawly on the piece of redgum. It looks kind of like it belongs in the ocean. Like Krill, only bigger and bitier. Again with the preferred depth of focus on the phone's camera! The dirt's pretty clear in the background but the critter I wanted to photograph is not. Boo.

Sometimes I come across these massive stumps out in the forest, and I wonder how old the tree was when it was felled, and how long ago it was felled, because we have a redgum stump in our yard that’s been there for thirty years and it’s nowhere near this rotten... then again, my yard doesn’t sit under water for months at a time like this part of the forest has at times!

Speaking of being underwater, same day, same area, taken from eye level (for those who don’t know me, I’m nearly 6’2”). I was thinking “if I’d been standing in this spot three or four months ago, I’d have been a little damp”. Seeing things like this has made me suddenly unsurprised that we're working in the largest remaining redgum forest in Australia... I mean, who the hell would build a house in the middle of this?? (okay, a couple of people did, but in very carefully selected locations)

Wire grows from trees in this forest!

Honest it does!

(Obviously I'm lying. I'd say at some point, many moons ago, this tree was used as a makeshift fence post)

Oh! Here’s one for you folks in Adelaide. It’s a photo of a miracle. Specifically, when they relaid a service under the intersection of Military Road and Semaphore Road near our house, they managed to lay a completely smooth bit of asphalt over the top of it!!! And that includes a manhole that was completely flush with the surrounding surface!!! Anyone who has driven anywhere in Adelaide would know that the road surface is pitted with manhole covers, and for some reason they are always unable to lay the asphalt evenly, or match the level of the road to the level of the manhole, or, as a last resort, to fill the holes in the metal lid with asphalt like they sometimes do. You go BA-DUM! BA-DUM! as your drive over them, particularly in the inside lane, but not always, the non-standard-ness of which is puzzling. It’s quite off putting because most services in Melbourne seem to be laid under the footpath, not the road. That would make sense, wouldn’t it... I’m just glad I’ve been driving a big ute around town and not a little zippy low thing.

Here’s a photo of The World’s Worst Fencing Repair. Seriously. I’m no expert, but I can see that it’s crap. Suffice it to say this is going to be re-fenced!

I think termites did this. I’m not sure how, but I’m imagining it involves termite spit or poo or something. It came from inside one of those massive River Red Gums, you know, the sort that are a good two hundred years old, maybe more. The ones that are about 4 or 5 meters around and ten, twenty, thirty metres tall. Amazing, amazing trees. So, so sad when they come down. But it’s for the long-term benefit of the trees left in the forest, so, sad though it is, it’s justifiable, because it means more trees will live to this grand old age.

This fella was found in a tree that came down. He was a little NQR for a bit, but once I had warmed him up to give him the best possible chance to escape predators (it was a freezing cold June morning), he was good to go. I always jump a bit when I see larger reptiles in hollow trees because I think I’m conditioned to believe that if it’s long, thin and has scales, it’s probably a snake. Totally not a snake. Just a very cold lizard. I gave him a bit of a cuddle to warm him up and sent him on his way to find a new hidey-hole.

This is an awful, awful photo of Grant in Sydney (I think he was hoping I’d let him eat his sundae in peace and was thinking "hurry up and take the damned photo!" while he tried to smile politely... he's so supportive :) )... so focus out the size of the sundae!!! Initially we were miffed as to why they cost so much. If they had written “to scale” on the pictures of them on the walls, we wouldn’t have ordered one each. Sundae ordering fail! Double fail because we had to scoff it down quickly on our way to the theatre to see Mary Poppins, and got icecream headaches. It was totally worth it J

When I told Grant I was putting this terrible photo up he made me promise to put it side by side with a good one, so here it is:

Every now and then when I’m walking through the forest I see shapes that don’t often exist in nature, like right-angled trees. They stick out because they seem a bit odd.

(and before anyone gets smart with me, I'm talking about the tree with two branches in the middle of the photo, and not the telegraph pole a little to its right... telegraph pole... geez, what an outdated term! It's actually a power pole, and don't know whether any telegraph poles actually still exist in Australia and probably haven't during my lifetime, and yet it remains in my vocabulary...)
Oh, and quite often as I wander about the forest I bump into these fellas...

....aaaaand to give you an idea of scale:
They give you a little scare when they're about an inch from your face but don’t seem to bite. You also develop an instinct for them and learn to stop dead or swerve, even if you haven't fully registered that they're there. And I don’t feel anywhere near as freaked out about them as I do about that Mystery Critter further back, even though they’re nearly half the size of a can of spray paint when fully stretched out. And they get bigger, too.

What else do I have... OH! I got excited when I saw this:

...because I really wanted a picture of this (and nearly ran up the back of another car taking it):

The other day, my BFF Kirsti and I went to see Jane Eyre, which, as Kirsti wrote in her blog, was somewhat disappointing. We arrived early and headed to the food court for lunch, and I swear to God, we are broken. BROKEN, I TELLS YA!!! Once upon a time - and I’m sorry if Kirsti doesn’t want me to tell the world this, but it embarrasses me, too, so that kind of makes it okay...? - a trip to the movies would have involved something greasy like pizza or a big pasta for lunch and then a popcorn and/or massive bag of Malteaseters during the movie, and maybe a soft drink or juice or frozen coke (or as I call it, Froke). A movie night at home would have included Red Rooster, 2 types of chips (usually Pringles and Cheezels), a block of chocolate and 2 types of lollies (usually Strawberries and Cream, and Killer Pythons). Oh, and a can soft drink. Yeah, we were a bit porkier back in those days. It took many, many years for it to sink in, but as it turns out, healthy eating and exercise do actually help you keep your weight down! *reaches for another slice of cake* So this time around, each of us quite a few kilos lighter, we independently of one another chose stir fried vegies with steamed rice and a bottle of water for lunch, and during the movie we each ate two lollypops. We’re officially broken. Of course, I am perfectly aware that food court Chinese can be swimming in grease, but let’s face it – it’s a healthier option than most of the other things available there, and at least it had vitamins and fibre and stuff. I could tell you a story about trying to make a healthy choice with a sandwich, but the thought of the cranberry sauce it was swimming in makes me gag a little and I don't want to ruin my appetite for dinner!

Buuuut later that day I had a small dietary relapse in the form of Pavlova.

Awwwwww, yeah! One of my other BFFs Ness (yep, there's two of us!) and her lovely husband Adam were the willing beneficiaries of my mini pavs that night, as I was Ness' Osso Bucco. Yummo spagummo. Good food + good friends = awesome night.

Oh, and I maintain the calories don’t count because I made them for someone else *whispers* and me *whispers* and I took them to another place to eat them *whispers* where I also was *whispers* and they had lots of yummy, healthy fruit on them *whispers* and a whole lot of whipped cream and are made largely of sugar *whispers* aaaaaand... yeah, I got nothin’.

Oh yeah and I promised a pav recipe – scroll down to the bottom for it.
Here’s another few random ones –

“Dickhead on a roof” (Opposite the North Sydney cricket ground - no fall protection of any sort, up a ladder, with a large drop down to concrete)

“HAHAHA... dickhead” (sensing a theme here? Not my car, by the way – mine’s the one safely up the top - and I didn’t bog this one, either. When asked why he tried to drive through the lagoon crossing, the driver shrugged and said “it looked like fun”. It was removed using an excavator. But hey, we get paid to do this!)
“Just another work function” (yep, somehow we talked our way behind the bar at the local pub. It works for them cos it’s often late and they CBF serving anymore)

And then there’s a whole bunch I took driving around the place. Testing water is about a 120km round trip for me on country roads. I feel so blessed to work in such a beautiful place, even though it’s a royal pain the bum to get to and from and around. Most people don’t see this part of Australia, which I find to be sad. Most people don’t even make it out of their own suburb, except maybe to go to work. I... I dunno. I’ve just always gotten a bit choked up about the Australian landscape. I can understand why others would find it boring or uninspiring, but I find it to be beautiful. Big skies, subtle colours, breathtaking space. In these photos, though, I also find it to be somewhat nauseating – potholes will do that to a photo, at least when it’s taken with a phone!

I drive upwards of a thousand kilometres each week, sometimes closer to fifteen hundred or more. My car is a dusty, muddy pigsty and I get a sore back from the seat. It has a wobble because there’s mud stuck inside the wheels and every time I decide to climb under the car and chisel it out, it rains, or I drive through more mud, and I don’t much care for having mud dropped on my face when I’m stuck under a car so I don’t do it. I am perpetually sleep deprived because I have to be up early to drive to work, or I have to stay up late driving home, or because I don’t get to bed early enough because going to the gym – which is very important to me – requires a 45 minute round trip. I am tired of packing my bags every week, of wearing the same clothes every week (and yet, it’s totally liberating!), of eating the same food every week.

But I never get sick of this.

Those colours, that space. Simply breathtaking. This is our country. I wish more people felt about it the way I do.

Anyway, as promised, and in a suitably patriotic theme:


4 egg whites
1c castor sugar
1tbsp cornflour
1tsp white vinegar

Ensure mixer and bowl are totally free of grease.

Whip until stiff peaks form and then trickle castor sugar in, whipping until dissolved.

Add cornflour and mix.

Add vinegar and mix.

In this case, I then piped four “baskets” (using a big piping nozzle, approx. 1.5-2cm across) onto baking trays lined with baking paper, and baked for around 45-50 minutes at 150oC. They were starting to brown, which they’re not really supposed to, and I’m pretty sure that’s the mistake I always make. If you want them pale brown and crispy outside and chewy inside, bake like I did. If you want them dried out in the middle, bake at about 120-130oC for about an hour and a half (check on it though!).

I know, it’s a very rough recipe. But that’s the one that I use cos that’s the one that’s in my head.

I then whipped up 300mL of cream, and made a fruit salad of 1 Granny Smith apple, 1 punnet of strawberries, 1 kiwi fruit and a tin of passionfruit pulp and plopped them both on just before serving.

So very scientific of me :) I also know it's unconventional to put apple on a pav, but I love the crunch it gives, and the tartness of the apple balances the sweetness of the strawberries and meringue and passionfruit pulp. Note also that I did not sweeten the cream as I didn't want it to be overwhelmingly sweet.


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