The Kebab & Calculator

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    Missy @missy


    It’s terrifying what fire can do. You sound too close for comfort. These ‘kids’ lit the fire on purpose and being the woman I am I’d do more than slap their wrists!

    The damage and suffering they have caused. Homes lost, innocent animals burned to death. They should be made to help the Fire brigade fight the fires, then pick up the dead animals whose death they are responsible for.

    I feel such sympathy for everyone and everything in the fires path.



    Missy @missy


    Update on my OH and me.

    I am improving, but my poor OH has now been diagnosed with Oesophageal cancer.

    This proves that there isn’t any justice, I’m the smoker, not him.


    Cath Annabel @cathannabel

    @missy I’m so very sorry to hear that. Cancer is an evil bastard and has no regard, ever, for fairness and justice. I hope that you get the support you need, medically and in other respects too, to get through this.

    syzygy @thane16


    I’m very sorry to hear this. My mum and my dad are also very sorry.  I am passing my dad’s prayers to you as he has asked.

    I have heard of this in science, unfortunately, due to a precursor illness called Barrett’s disease which is one earliest form of it? Men get it more than women. Like @cathannabel says it is necessary that you have all the support you need from doctors & also support staff. When mum had cancer she was able to use the Breast Cancer support system which involved home visits, a pink bus for travel to & from hospital for treatments. She asked her specialist about support systems & found out a lot in Sydney and then Brisbane?

    So, I can’t imagine what you must be feeling & your OH too but I know there’s support people who actually make the phone calls, organise the lifts to treatment clinics so you can rest up yourself. I remember you have a daughter so whilst it is hard on her too, perhaps she can assist with the organisational aspects of Cancer Care.  But we are very very sorry to hear this & I’m sure everyone here, and in your area feels the same. @cathannabel said it well.

    From Thane and the family.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @missy best wishes from me also. Cancer can be so cruel, make sure you get all the support you and your husband need. I think @thane16 worded it so beautifully.

    do take care of yourself too. Life is so precious. This morning a poem was read (at a funeral) about the dash between dates of birth and death. That dash is our lives, our present. We need to ensure that we make the most of the brief passage of time in which we inhabit this earth.




    MissRori @missrori

    @missy So sorry to hear that.  I hope you and your husband can bear up the best you can.

    winston @winston

    @missy I am very sorry to hear your sad news. I hope you keep up your spirits and strength and that all goes well for your family.Cancer has touched the lives of many of us and I hope you can find the support that I know is out there.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @missy — So sorry to hear about your OH.  I wish you both the best in dealing with it.  The last “good” news I had about cancer was that my opposite number, my daughter-in-law’s mother (who started her own life-long war with this disease when her son went through a bout of it in his teens), died of a recurrence of her own cancer — aged 92.

    Missy @missy

    @cathannabel @thane16 @janetteb @missrori @winston @ichabod

    Thank you  – ALL of you for your kindness. I shall certainly look for all the support for the both of us that I can.

    We are fortunate in having three lovely children, all ready to help.

    It’s the moving that’s terrifying. I won’t be able to pay the rent on a three bedroom house, once – heaven forbid – the inevitable happens. Fortunately we are with Homes West (state Housing) and have been for over 40 years.

    They have offered to find us a two bedroom unit, will pay all removal expenses and give us a few weeks rent free.

    Wonderful people.


    nerys @nerys

    @missy Such hearbreaking news for you and your OH. Prayers that treatment is successful, and complete, hard though it may be. And may the inevitable not happen. Not too soon, anyway. No good way to word that. I know you understand that so many of us are standing by you in this virtual realm. It’s good that your housing is not as huge a worry as it might have been, otherwise.

    gamergirlavatar @gamergirlavatar

    @missy Sorry to hear the bad news. Times like this are never easy. I hope you and your OH get all the help you can and you’re lucky to have three children to help you in this situation. We’re all here for you.

    Missy @missy


    Thank you so much, I truly do appreciate it.

    We are trying to move home to a smaller house, so you can imagine the chaos. Our children are wonderful,

    as I said to my OH, “we must have brung ’em up right!”

    However as a famous writer once said :

    “When sorrows come they come not single spies, but in battalions” 

    He is hospital at the moment with blood clots in his lungs! He’ll be home tomorrow.


    Missy @missy


    Did I thank you too?  if not Thank you.

    I’m all over the place at the moment.


    nerys @nerys

    @missy Please don’t worry about thanking me. But (being horribly redundant), thank you for thinking of it. Being all over the place is very, very understandable in your circumstances. Blood clots in his lungs? Oh no, that’s serious. I’m sure you are going through unbearable stress right now.

    Oh, and I apologize for my earlier typo. Heartbreaking is the word I was looking for, and meant to type.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @missy So sorry to hear about your troubles. Best wishes from me too.



    syzygy @thane16


    I didn’t know that -re Lady Hale as President of the Supremes. I should’ve known (partly because of the song on the music thread), having remembered the tiny speck of a snippet of a  discussion about Boris the Spider. Our High Court is headed by Susan Kiefel. I read part of a paper on rhetoric & gave up. 😉

    Ah, yes, your brother (the one in France): the sad dance of liturgical lament. They can turn ‘dirge’ very quickly. But better than “those 2 chords, the effin’ F and G march ..played at school….”

    Mudlark @mudlark


    OK, here I am in the pub with a pint (actually a glass of merlot) to hand.  So where were we? Ah, yes, compost and soil health.

    The basic principle is; you have to put back into the soil what you take out of it or it loses its fertility, and if you are not to spend a small fortune on buying manure and/or chemical fertilizer it pays to have a compost bin or two to process garden waste and household vegetable waste.

    Healthy soil contains lots of humus from decaying vegetable matter, worms to aerate the soil and process the vegetable matter through their efficient little digestive systems, and myriad bacteria and other micro-organisms to fix nitrogen and otherwise work their biochemical magic. Anything you grow will take out the nutrients, both for the plants and the supportive micro-organisms, so the more you feed the soil the more you will get out of it.  Medieval farmers used to leave part of the arable land fallow in alternate years between crops and graze their animals on the fallow land so that the dung would fertilize it. Later farmers cut out the fallow bit and spread the ploughland with manure from their farmyard middens, and later still they established scientifically the benefits of crop rotation and using leguminous crops to fix nitrogen in the soil. Then they discovered chemical fertilizers which worked wonders, except that these didn’t replenish the humus and the micro-organisms in the soil so that, except on ‘organic’ farms which still employ traditional mixed farming methods, farmland soil is now effectively inert and infertile if not dosed with yet more chemical fertilizer, the surplus of which drains off into rivers and the water table with all sorts of knock on consequences.

    Which may not seem to have much to do with gardening, but the same principles apply.

    Wormeries, which come supplied with the necessary worms, are an efficient way of processing kitchen vegetable waste and as an end product produce a fine organic compost and a liquid which, diluted in a ratio of about 1:10 is a good liquid fertilizer. Compost bins are, in my opinion, better all round. In them you can put not just vegetable waste from the kitchen*, but all waste from the garden, including annual weeds and the leaves (but not the roots) of perennial weeds, annuals from the flower beds once they have finished flowering, the chopped back remnants of  end-of-season perennials, fallen leaves and grass clippings – although grass clippings have to be thoroughly mixed with other material or you end up with a slimy, evil-smelling mat.  Ideally the mix should include a balance of green material which is high in nitrogen, and dry material which contains more carbon – and that can include shredded paper and cardboard.  For best results the mixture should be forked over periodically to mix everything evenly and aerate it, and since that is a labour intensive chore there are compost bins which can be rotated on an axle or by other means. There are also compost accelerators which you can buy to add to the compost and help speed the process, but they are not essential.

    I have a state-of-the-art composter which consists of an almost spherical drum mounted on rollers on a dished, hollow base, and every time I add anything I rotate it two or three times to keep the contents well mixed. In the base of the drum there are holes through which any liquid drains into the hollow base, and this year I tapped about seven litres which, diluted, I can use as additional fertilizer. I have never needed to buy a supply of worms because they arrive in the compost bins all by themselves, bless them!

    Ideally I could do with two of these rotary composters, one to contain the maturing compost and one the compost-in-the-making, but since I don’t have room for two I have a couple of conventional bins as well.

    And here endeth the oracular utterance of Mudlark the gardener, take it as you may 😉

    *Kitchen waste can include anything of vegetable or fruit origin, including tea leaves and coffee grounds, although I would advise ripping open tea bags and discarding the ‘bags’ unless you want your garden to be littered with little grey rags. The bags containing the tea do not compost efficiently. I now use leaf tea in a tea pot with an infuser basket, so I no longer have that problem.  Crushed egg shells are a good addition, but definitely no meat products or bread, or the compost will stink and you will attract vermin.


    syzygy @thane16


    Thank you SO much for your gardening assistance. Mayall* I call you Yoda? Or Goda? For God of Gardening -except the ‘d’ isn’t right for ‘garden’ but Goga doesn’t scan well.

    I have a question: How do the worms arrive by themselves? I am, as you see, neither Goda, nor Goga but possibly Daga (Dumb at Gardening).  Also, Daga sounds like a planetary system in Star Wars….

    @whisht that one’s for you.

    @mudlark I’ll get back to you on your state of the art composter 😀

    Old Puro.

    winston @winston

    Hello everyone!  Today is Thanksgiving in Canada, a day to celebrate the harvest and to give thanks for the good things in your life. We ate roast turkey and all the side dishes you can think of followed by pies for desert . I baked a lemon and apple pie with lots of whipped cream. My boys and granddaughters left with full bellies and leftovers and I am resting with a cup of tea.

    Besides being grateful for my family and friends and my husband of 40 years I am thankful that I made it through one of the worst months of my life and am still standing.

    On August 18 my wonderful mother in law passed away after a short but devastating illness and the next day my lovely little dog Newton who I had for almost 11 years also died. He got very sick very quickly and after much medical attention he died from what we think was pancreatic cancer. He left us before we found out why he was sick. I miss my wee dog so much. It is almost 2 months since these horrible sad things happened and life slowly goes on while we struggle to find a new normal.

    I tell you this sad stuff so I can tell you all how thankful I am for this site and the distraction it has offered me these last few weeks. I am thankful for all the people here and the posts and news and music and links to funny clips that have helped to keep my mind occupied. So thanks to every one of you and especially @craig for giving us a great forum!

    janetteB @janetteb

    @winston. So sorry to hear about both your losses. I still grieve for my Mother in law who we lost back in 2003. In fact I have been thinking of her a lot these past couple of days while out taking photos. Sometimes I feel as though she is looking over my shoulder and that encourages me to try harder to do well. Unfortunately our sons were still young and barely remember their grandmother.

    So sorry also about the loss of Newton also. They become part of our family, part of our lives.

    this is a great forum. I check every day for new posts and always glad when someone has posted.

    @mudlark I too appreciated your gardening tips especially regarding compost. I did not know that bread was bad.





    syzygy @thane16


    You are a wonderful cook.  Our young lad could eat dollops of cream, pie, lemon pie, apple pie and turkey, probably in that order! Not unlike his uncle he prefers savoury food which means weeks of baking in, well, baking heat, might ease a little. But it’s significant to share a table around which many memories are built, where troubles are sorted and happiness shared.

    I am so sorry about Newton. The gorgeous pets have a story behind them of doting ‘parents’ & the significance of their name. My parents had dogs named Clicker & Clackett -at least at 3, that’s what I thought I heard. Later they had a cat named Quaver & I could pronounce that.   🙂

    You have held this devastating news about your mum in law for a long time. Obviously something so crushingly sad is held in our hearts until we need, or want, to share with extended family. Even though we are hidden by screens this is a positive, warm place, where genuine sadness will find a little consolation. If you are falling we can catch you. Please reach out.

    Congratulations on your marriage of 40 years; a sign of dedication to each other in times where things may seem transient &, as you say, struggling thru life as it rushes past, no pause for a life that just stops, and suddenly. I am so sorry.

    Your husband & extended family were overwhelmed by her death; perhaps they still are. It seems like you had an excellent relationship with your mum in law & I can imagine her thinking of you a lot -you gave her grand children & she would’ve been devoted to you: with gentle hands and heart you took care of her son for 40 years. She’d be very proud of you  @winston.

    All our love to you & your family. Sincerely, the Syzygy. xxx000

    Mudlark @mudlark


    So very sorry to learn of your recent painful losses. When the death of a beloved relative is followed so closely by that of a much loved pet I can well understand how much the latter serves to compound the grief and make the process of adjustment all the more difficult. It is good to know that you have the support of family and friends so close to hand.

    My sympathy and a virtual hug


    Mudlark @mudlark

    @thane16  @janetteb

    After writing the above, and on reflection, I had feared that the reaction would be ‘too much information’ or ‘teach your grandmother’; so I’m gratified if it was of the least use.

    Janette: when it comes to what to put in the compost bin the rule is; no meat or dairy products and no cooked foods – although I think left-over steamed veggies (if you can think of no other use for them) are probably exempt from the latter category. On the rare occasions I have any left-over bread which isn’t actually mouldy (bearing in mind that I bake my own and it keeps pretty well for at least five days) either it is crumbled and fed to the garden birds or dried in the oven at a low temperature and then crushed to make bread crumbs and stored in an airtight jar for later use such as sprinkling on gratin dishes or coating croquettes etc.  If it is mouldy it goes in the household waste food bin to be put out for collection by the local council*.

    Puro: I oversimplified the role of earthworms somewhat, because there are several different species which occupy different ecological niches.  Those which directly process decaying vegetation and are thus helpful in compost making are the various varieties of tiger worm (eisenia)  and also the somewhat larger lumbricus rubellus, both of which I think are to be found on all the continents of the world (except Antarctica). Tiger worms are relatively small and thin and generally red or brownish-purple in colour, and are the ones supplied with wormeries. They are also the ones which turn up in my compost.  Obviously, there are two preconditions if they are to arrive spontaneously in a compost bin: a) there need to be some already in the vicinity, and b) the base of the compost bin has to be in direct contact with the soil surface. Otherwise you would need to order some to kick-start a population.

    The older and more basic compost bins in the utility corner of my garden look somewhat like Daleks, minus the bumps and with a domed lid instead of the rotating top part with the eye-stalk, sink plunger and weaponry, and they stand directly on the soil surface, so the arrival of the worms in their contents is no mystery. The ones in the new roller-ball composter could have crawled over the base and in through the holes in the drum, but it’s also possible they arrived as cocoons in stuff transferred from a Dalek, because over the winter, while the compost in the rotating drum is maturing, I put all the kitchen waste etc in one of the latter. Then, in late spring, I transfer the made compost into another, empty Dalek for storage until needed, and the stuff accumulated over the winter forms the first instalment of the new batch in the drum.

    Most of the other kinds of earthworms found in garden soil feed chiefly on fungi growing on decayed vegetable matter rather than on the vegetable matter itself so it is a two stage process, with the fungi having the primary role in breaking down the humus; but some types of worm actually drag dead leaves and stems lying on the surface down into the soil. When the large and very bushy Japanese Maple in the middle of my lawn sheds its leaves I use them to mulch the surface of the adjoining herbaceous border. The leaves lie there over the winter, but by late spring they have all disappeared, dragged down into the depths by those industrious little helpers.

    As for my gardening activities at the moment, I’m suffering acute frustration. October in this region can usually be relied upon to provide a fair number of calm days with hazy sunshine – ideal weather for preparing the garden for its winter sleep. Instead we have had day after day of wind and rain, and the occasional dry day has generally been heavily overcast with quite strong winds (all possibly the tail ends of a succession of hurricanes and tropical storms which have been funnelling northwards up the Atlantic). My garden is fairly sheltered by surrounding trees, but even so conditions have not been inviting.


    * Norwich is very keen on recycling, and not just plastics, metal cans and paper. They also collect garden waste, which is useful when it comes to things like prunings and hedge clippings which aren’t suitable for the home compost bin and which are shredded and composted in industrial quantities for use in municipal parks and gardens or for resale.





    Whisht @whisht

    @winston – really sorry to hear about your bereavements.

    I don’t have the right words, but I can only imagine that losing both meant that neither could help with the grieving of the other. Which is what loved ones (whether human or not) give us.

    I won’t post any music specifically, as anything I do would be cack-handed (see my most recent response to depression!).
    The song I’m about to post I was meaning to post about two weeks ago but I managed to break my laptop.
    But it is at least about Love.

    take care and glad you’re here.

    winston @winston

    @whisht @mudlark @janetteb @thane16  Thank you for all of your kind words although they have brought me tears they are gentle tears. My mother in law never said an unkind word to me in all the years I knew her. She loved her family and we all loved her ,as simple as that. We got her home from hospital to her own room that looked out on her morning glories where she wanted to be and after a few short days she died in her sleep.It was very quiet and peaceful. Up until a few months before she died she was a tiny fireball of energy who me feel positively lazy. She left us a list of chores and her last worries were for her husband and family. She comforted us!

    While my husband was spending as much time as he could with his mom I had my Newton to take care of and we ran ourselves ragged going from vet to hospital and hearing the worst news possible in both places. While I tried so hard to nurse my dog back  I felt sad about not spending more time with my Mom in law. Each would have been comfort and I miss them both.

    We brought Newton home when he was 8 weeks old and he made me happy every day for the next 10 years. This is the only time he made me sad. His footprints are every where.

    Anyway, thank you all for being so kind and for understanding. This is a nice place.


    MissRori @missrori

    @winston I’m glad to hear you and your family are getting by despite some very tough times.  Much love!

    syzygy @thane16

    @ at all. A big thank you to everyone. How so many of you have given ideas/outlines to young Syzygy about various topics. A wonderful lady, whose name has vanished into the vacant & shallow areas of ma brain, offered wonderful suggestions on R & Juliet back in 2017; which films to watch/ignore; the importance of personification. She’s a terrifically thoughtful forum poster & teacher who I haven’t seen here in a year.  I WILL locate her name….

    Thane’s school has weird records*  showing that Thane has accompanied me to the hospital 132 times in the last 6 years. So, in 4 days, he’ll graduate (I always thought that happened at uni? Am I nitting, as it were! No way!)  😉

    But I’m in a few chopped messes. In 2 weeks he has the Formal (or ball) for graduation to which, being Spawn, he’ll catch a bus. His date said “hire a navy suit, I’m wearing white & I need a white corsage.” Golly, women today, eh? The gall!

    His last History exam is on “ISIS & our war on terror” test with a variety of sources speaking to American involvement creating the very mess these countries are in. They don’t however mention the role of the U.S. in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 & many teachers confuse the region (as some Americans also do) having no general understanding of who the people are & which countries make up this ‘Axis of Evil’: how a war in Iraq is not a war against the “Russians” in Afghanistan; and who/what had WMDs.

    There’s a running list of legendary errors by those in authority such as the Taliban in Afghanistan run the capital which is Baghdad; Al-Qadea is led by Obama bin Laden from a poor family from Pakistan; in answer to a question Spawn got this: why would this be relevant? Ahktar Mansour’s a Jewish soccer player, isn’t he?  Then, The Uzbeks are orthodox Jewish people from Slovakia or Slovenia; The Sunnis are a band. You need to remember the Shias; Wahhabi is a strong chilli kebab flavour in the Phillipines. This state is heavily funded by Arab Muslim groups.

    *I’ll head over to the music thread to embarrass the child as his love of Aerosmith grows strong, like The Force. He can sense Aerosmith…when sitting meditatively a brief fragrance of Steven Tyler’s cologne will waft on the breeze & “om” can be heard at 254Hz

    De Ol’ Puro

    janetteB @janetteb

    Congrats to @thane16 for completing yr 12. Quite and achievement and congrats to you “Thane’s Mum” for guiding him though. It is just as hard on parents. Modern history is a fascinating subject, always one of my favourites, but then there were not many history topics that did not interest me, unfortunately those just happened to be the ones on offer as Honours topics at my Uni. I have always been interested in Afghanistan and it’s troubled history but what saddens me is that at one stage, it was a forward looking country, then the CIA got involved, a familiar story. Afghanistan, had it been left to its own devices could very well be a stable, progressive country now.

    Our youngest opted out of yr 12 this year and I did not object. I am feeling burnt out after getting the older two through. We are looking at alternatives routes to uni for him, in the meantime he is still working out what he wants to do and flexing his creative muscles.

    We are currently dealing with uni deadlines but is considerably less tortuous than yr 12. One week and it is over for another year and we have something to celebrate. Our eldest just got engaged. Youngest pointed out at dinner that there will finally be a married couple living in the house. Ouch.. Times are “achangin” around here. The “almost son”, ie boy from over the road, is about to become a Dad so our boys will be honourary uncles and I have been pegged for baby sitting duties.






    To be fair, Sunni and Shia did bring us I Got You Babe….


    Well done Spawn – you are now legally responsible for everything you do!

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    @thane16 Congratulations, Syzergy the younger! What follows? Endless parties? A gap year? Working your way around the world as a short order cook on a tramp steamer prepatory to writing the Great Australian novel? (In other words, all the things I seemed to have missed out on at that stage of life.) Have a great post-year 12 time, whatever it may be.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @thane16 Congratulations O Spawn for completing Year 12! Special congratulations on surviving both your philosophy teacher and your history teacher.

    I have to admit, “The Uzbeks are orthodox Jewish people from Slovakia or Slovenia” is the spectacular mistake which worries me most. It sounds like a badly remembered alt right internet meme.

    Wahhabi salad, anyone? 🙂

    Whisht @whisht

    @thane16 – well done!
    You’ve managed to succeed in spite of some of your teachers meant to help you succeed!!

    Mind you, if you like sushi then do watch out as the wahhabi sauce is hotter than you think!!


    Hope you feel good in the suit and it passes muster with your date!


    winston @winston

    @thane16   I want to add my congratulations on to you on finishing year 12! I think that it is great and I hope you have a really good time at your dance. You deserve it. I remember when my kids graduated the dance was the big thing for them. New suits ,new dress, new hairdos. Some kids even had limos! My kids got dropped off by Dad,  like it or not. Have fun no matter how you get there.

    syzygy @thane16

    Hey guys & thank you. I really feel like I was walking to the gallows every time I moved from class to class. Didn’t know which teacher was going to get all “personal” & say “mate, you haven’t opened up to me recently. In fact, at all? Please tell me everything about your life!”

    Why? I’m not really interested in theirs. Sounds rude, though. So I learned to say “OH YEAH! Sure, and how are YOU?”

    Endless parties? A gap year? Working your way around the world as a short order cook on a tramp steamer prepatory to writing the Great Australian novel?

    Oh, parties 🙁 I was explaining to @pedant and also dad & mum that parties are awful. Binge drinking. Shit music. I have a mate turning 18 in 2 days & at least (he’s a Western movie fan like dad about “which I have trouble coping” unless it’s The Man From Laramie . And the other one with J. Stewart?) he’s having a proper party. We’re dressing like cowboys or cowgirls, I think? I’m going to use mum’s makeup to create a scar.

    See? That’s what I’m up to. No great novels or small ones. Maybe back packing but mainly learning common sense things . I can’t drive. I can cycle a bike & run like hell but not driving & it’s really expensive.

    Oh, and I can’t really cook. Apparently lessons start next week where I’ll be given $20 & have to buy food for meals for 4 days. I don’t know where they keep meat in supermarkets. This is why I need ‘other learnings’.

    I’ll keep you all posted. And thanks again for being a great site.


    I had all your names up & then got masses of code. 20 lines I think. So I deleted all your names . Sorry!

    syzygy @thane16


    limos? I know. Same here. The lady who I’m taking (can’t take guys from other schools -and she has a b/f so I don’t wanna do anything that will cause problems). is wearing white & I have to get a white corsage.

    A limo I aint doing. No way. I’ll catch a bus. But the guys drive so I might hop a lift. I think the girls are going with us or some of us to a special pre-drink as much alcohol as you can formal for an hour. But the guys won’t. I think they’ll drive to the post-formal (get it all?) & get fairly pissed. I’ll be home well before. Photos with family I can handle although I’m calming mum down . If she can’t leave the house I do have a dad so that’s good. Although we had a massive row today. Wow. That’s a thing.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @thane16 good luck with the cooking. Our dog found her way to the meat counter at Coles once so I am sure you will be fine. learning to cook is a good plan, something we need to force our sons to do as well.

    Agree re’ the limo. Horrible things that use far more fuel than is good for the planet. Busses are the way to go..





    There used to be a book call How To Boil An Egg, which taught basic survival skills to students…

    janetteB @janetteb

    @pedant and @thane 16 I had a school cook book that covered the basics. When I got a job as a cook it was my lifeline as I had never cooked before and had no idea at all of how to do so. Sadly I once loaned it to a friend and never got it back. I still miss that book, and am useless when it comes to boiling eggs. Luckily now however we have the internet. My second son watches cooking vids when he is tired and hungry, (rather than heading into the kitchen to cook himself something) He then tells me how to cook, which is useful. There are many great cooking sites, my fav’s are and “Recipe Tin Eats”, both of which are Australian so have Aus’ measurements and ingredients that are generally available in Aus supermarkets. I love some of the Guardian cooking columns like the Ottlenghi, (excuse spelling) ones but don’t even know what half the ingredients are and would not find them in our local suppliers.



    Mudlark @mudlark


    Very belated congratulations, Thane, on surviving school and graduating!  May you succeed and be happy in whatever path you choose to take from now on (provided it’s reasonably legal, of course 😉

    As for cookery, if you start with a basic and reliable cookery book and bear in mind that it’s basically just chemistry plus the patience to follow a recipe  and a modicum of common sense* it isn’t all that difficult a skill to acquire. After that it helps to have an idea of what flavours go together, but that is to some extent a matter of personal taste. When it comes to basic cookery books, your mother would no doubt agree that you can’t go wrong with Delia Smith, especially her Cookery Course.

    * For example; a flat mate of mine at university, following a recipe in one of my cookery books to the letter and not using her knowledge of first principles, failed to spot a misprint and used a tablespoonful of flour instead of a teaspoonful to thicken the gravy in a casserole, then wondered why the result was meat and vegetables embedded in gluey wallpaper paste.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    The phrase ‘easy as boiling an egg’ is completely misleading, because it isn’t by any means the easiest task for a cook.  If you truly desire guidance I can, being of grandmotherly age if not technically a grandmother, provide some. Otherwise ignore the following.

    To start with, it depends on the freshness of the egg, although if you get them from the supermarket it can be assumed that they are more than four days old so that isn’t really a factor. If you get them straight from the hen, they may require longer to cook. The size of the eggs has also to be taken into consideration; large eggs need slightly longer than small ones.

    For soft boiled eggs the eggs should be at room temperature to start with*, not straight from the fridge, otherwise the shells are liable to crack. The water should be simmering rather than boiling, with just a few bubbles erupting on the surface, and the eggs should be lowered in gently. After a minute or so you can take the pan off the heat and allow to stand for four to six minutes depending on size, at which point the egg whites should be set. If this isn’t the case, trial and error should sort it. Alternatively you can leave to simmer for three minutes, although this is a bit more hit-and-miss.

    For hard boiled eggs start them (also from room temperature) in cold water, bring to simmering point and then give them 7 minutes if small and 9 minutes if large. They should then be cooled immediately under cold running water to prevent them overcooking.

    If the shells persist in cracking despite all precautions you could try carefully piercing the big end with a needle, which will reduce internal pressure under heat.

    * In UK terms that means around 18 C – 25 C; terms and conditions may vary.


    @janetteb @mudlark

    My mum had a simpler answer when I phoned to ask how long to cook whatever new thing had taken my fancy:

    “Until it’s done.”

    Mudlark @mudlark


    ‘Until it’s done’ is an alternative and perfectly sound approach, but for the novice it does tend to entail hovering over the pan on the hob or checking the oven every five minutes when you could be doing something more productive or entertaining 🙂

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @thane16 @pedant and @mudlark

    How To Boil An Egg by Jan Arkless is still in print in the UK, so might be available in Australia. It’s been updated since our time, with more veggie dishes and a few more modern recipes. I second @pedant – great book.

    Another fun book to read when you set out on your own is Katharine Whitehorn’s Cooking in a Bedsitter. Mostly cookbook, part autobiography about the way life was for young singles in the 1950’s. They had only one tiny gas flame to cook with and very often a sink that was down the hall.

    While it’s mostly now a fun read, the recipes still work and can be really helpful when trying to cook on one corner of a shared stove.

    syzygy @thane16

    @mudlark @pedant @janetteb

    In all ways you read our minds.

    Til done

    Delia (oh my Delia -she taught me to bake the lightest cake)

    one flame.

    Speaking of which, we have Who coming? Not sure. I’m not spoiling. But I’m imagining. Heading over to music thread.

    Siggers the Elder.


    syzygy @thane16

    Sooo…., the word “squire” – where does it hail from?

    (Ignore my dreadful grammar)

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    According to the OED, oldest use is: ‘In the military organisation of the later middle ages, a young man of good birth attendant upon a knight (= esquire n.1 1a); one ranking next to a knight under the feudal system of military service and tenure.’ Originally from French, unsurprisingly given the date (1290 is the oldest quotation here).

    Not long after that it was used after name to denote rank, or used to describe a personal attendant – late 1300’s. But the 1500 used (as everything is at some point) as an insult. By the 1600’s, a prostitute’s servant, a giggilo or a pimp – alternatively, a man escorting a lady, a gallant. by the end of the 1600 started to be used to mean a landed proprietor.

    Not sure why the final jump, looks fairly logical progression up to that point. But possibly because landed gentlemen were below the nobility. We’re starting to see more non-noble rich and powerful landowners (as much if not more because of downward than upward mobility), maybe it reflects the oldest usage. I do recall from Trollop in the late 1800 the image of a Squire as someone of an old family, good birth, no title, still technically ranking below a Knight but with a place in the hierarchy – a vote, for example.

    syzygy @thane16

    Well, fucking hell people from @missy to @bluesqueakpip to @pedant and @gamergirlavatar @nerys @toinfinityandbepond @whisht (well, HELLOO you!) you’ve all expressed feelings on sexism, political correctness and  cooking. I missed the whole darn conversation! Exciting stuff. And a bit sad, to be honest. That there exist people who think that “PC means an extreme reaction to people who are socially disadvantaged.”

    I read that 3 times @roger429 or 666 or whatever: that we must not be ‘too kind’ to people who are disadvantaged. In other words, we need to stay mean. My mind’s blown! It’s been there all the time, just waiting. Mean-ness is right, folks. People who can’t walk, have a visual impairment, who’ve been sexually abused & tell their story with tears & shakes are apparently “snow-flakes” who can’t “handle life.” But we have to be patient now, us mean people, because it’s “all PC.”

    It’s sad.

    Aaand I’ve stuffed up some of the name handles which is pretty sad of me considering I’ve changed mine constantly. Never content, always worrying at something…. Not mean enough. Not bitter enough.

    OK. Here’s this bit from The Summer Before The Dark (Lessing)

    “…No, she must step back…and confirm that there stood in front of her a pleasant looking fashionable woman on the verge of middle age. Still on the verge…She could say that her shape, her attributes, limbs, waist, breasts, mouth, hair, neck, were not different from the equipment with which she had attracted a dozen young men nearly a quarter of a century ago…perhaps even better since so much chemistry and medication and dieting and attention to hair, teeth, and eyes had gone into this artifact -what would she look like now, if, for instance, she had been born into a slum in Brazil?”

    Lessing’s character speaks of “the spirit” -the state, or the condition of the emanation of attractive availability: “come and sniff and taste.”  It leaves a bad taste, now, doesn’t it?

    Then this from Mantel’s Giving Up the Ghost

    “Dr G, the psychiatrist, was remote and bald. He had as much chance of understanding a girl like me as he had of rising from his desk and skimming from the window on silver pinions. He soon diagnosed my problem: stress, caused by over-ambition. This was a female complaint, one which people believed in, in those years, just as the Greeks believed that women were made ill by their wombs cutting loose and wandering about their bodies….”

    One thing worried the ‘real me’ (the mean me was obviously fake news) and that’s that a person’s femaleness or maleness doesn’t matter. At all.

    I think it does? Is it sexist to acknowledge a woman? Simply, as a woman? Not in a job-unrelated-to-woman-role.

    I was a captain once (briefly) & that didn’t have a gender attached. But I’m still woman.

    I was sexually abused by a man. An old man; for maybe 10 or 13 years. That was definitely because I was a girl-child, and he a strong, large man. It may’ve started when I was two, or even one. I don’t want any sympathy here -this isn’t “attention seeking” (the previous paragraph in Mantel’s book).  It’s a fact. It happened. I couldn’t stop it. I didn’t know ‘it.’

    When I did know, and I could tell, I ended him.

    Syzygy the Old




    syzygy @thane16

    @miapatrick thank you. Excellent and good to see you ’round these parts. Strap on some armour….

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @thane16 ah – it has been a while. I’ve started studying again and for the first time in a while I’m writing an assignment (or attempting to.) and this is my favourite space for displacement activity!

    I can however justify the above post because it was, at least, research related…

    syzygy @thane16

    @miapatrick, Fantastic! And agreed it’s displacement or just thought driven in every way & thus actual study contributing to real-life core learnings and core values. 😉

    After all, the weasel words of the QLD public service aid you in their service -they’re good for that. But you do real study which truly benefits many others.

    Actually on the ‘squire’ definition; the book I consulted regarding female and male attitudes across time, did refer to gallant gentlemen, but in that case (I think it was in Babbletower) with decent dramatic irony and a bit of fury mixed in….I hope you can take time off for Christmas -you and your partner?


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