Sunday, January 29, 2006

For Anne

When we were small our father told us that we couldn't get a dog unless we could get a pedigree Springer Spaniel ... free. He thought he was being clever but he underestimated our desire! The eldest Madcow-Brother would read the classifieds every evening in the Times Age for us and finally there it was. A pedigree Springer Spaniel puppy free to a good home!

Well I don't know about the "good" home but we got there first. Apparently a young couple had a new house, a new garden, a new baby & a new puppy and something had to go. Lucky for us they decided on the puppy rather than the baby.

So Pepper came to live and was everything a good family dog should be. The Madcow-Brothers will probably remember other stories (or tell them better) but nothing can diminish this lovable rogues place in our hearts.

We had to take out a personal liability insurance policy after he ran away to play with some sheep in a paddock not far from town. Lucky for us (and Pepper) the farmer had a moment of doubt as he raised his gun to shoot him, and when he whistled Pepper came lolloping over to him and climbed into his truck. It was quickly evident to him that Pepper had no interest in mauling his flock - he just wanted someone to play with. A few years later he further disgraced himself by nipping a charity collector in the bum but it was a very large bum and far too much temptation for any self respecting dog to resist.

He was for a number of years plagued by attacks of bronchitis, caused mainly by his habit of dragging his blanket onto the roof of his kennel and sleeping up there no matter whether there was rain or hail. As the vet bills mounted my father took drastic (and rather cunning) action and rebuilt the kennel as an A-Frame which put paid to his soggy sleepouts. It didn't however stop him from his night time barking as he got older. He had become increasingly more deaf and the dark was just too disturbing. One night my father woke to the barking and yelled at the top of his voice "Would you shut up you old bastard!!" There was then a deathly hush in the house as both he & my mother realised it was not in fact Pepper barking - it was my grandmother and her hacking smokers cough. Nobody ever mentioned this in the morning at breakfast, but that night Peppers bedding was shifted to the security of the laundry where the the night noises could not disturb him. The grandmother however continued to cough.

These are my favourite pictures of him - especially the one by the riverbed. It seems that the only time he would oblige with such a regal pose was when he was filthy. Interesting to note that when I indexed all the slides "Pets" was included in the "People" folder. Hope you enjoy them Anne!


Food is very difficult. At least, food that both "he who shall not be named" and I can agree on.

He likes meat. Lots of meat. And things cooked in lots of oil or fat. Things that come in boxes are a hit. And apple crumble. Me, I like anything that someone else cooks. Except of course my mothers dreaded Liver & Bacon Casserole which she still thinks is my favourite dish. She also insists that one of the Madcow Brothers likes tomatoes. Personally I believe its just some sort of passive-aggressive acting out on her part. Like "I'll make them suffer for all those stretch marks somehow!" Whatever, I think he comes out of this slightly better than I do. Think about it - liver drowned in a sea of sludgy gravy compared to an insy-winsy tomato. I think she just dislikes him a little bit. Me she really resents!

The other tiny difficulty is the complete lack of culinary skill on my part, and HWSNBN's apparent lack of enthusiasm for any activity that does not include cars, the girlfriend or alcohol (not necessarily in that order).

If the Olympic committee introduced a "Staring Out" event we would win a Gold for New Zealand if our pre-dinner stand off is anything to go by. When finally we can ignore the stomach rumbling no longer there is a tentative "you hungry?" Now here's the trick ... never say yes. To say yes is to admit defeat and you may as well go put the apron on and start cooking. No, you have to sigh, pull a face and say "No, not really. I think I'll wait."

This stand off can last hours if you put no effort into your counter attack. If you really don't want to cook you have to play dirty. Put the Food Channel on. Chances are Jamie Oliver is making something marginally interesting. Mention in passing how you did all the laundry the day before and the clean clothes are folded waiting. Gently inquire as to when you can expect to get this weeks board money. And don't forget your trump card if they say they have already made dinner this week ... "But I MADE you!"

Before you know it there will be a great stomping off to the kitchen & rattling of pans.

Still, it must be time for me to venture near the big white hot thing in the kitchen for my monthly experiment. My mother gave me this recipe to try. It can't be that hard can it?

Potato & Bacon Bake
4 eggs
350 ml milk
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
4 rashers rindless bacon, finely diced
3 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon olive oil
2kg washed white potatoes, peeled and sliced very thinly
1 cup grated tasty cheese

Preheat the oven to 190C.
Mix the eggs, milk, garlic, salt, bacon & chives. Reserve
Using 1 tablespoon of oil, oil a 20cm square ovenproof dish.
Layer one third of potatoes evenly into the dish and pour over one third of the egg mixture, making sure bacon and chives are evenly distributed.
Repeat with the remaining two-thirds of the potatoes and egg mixture.
Sprinkle the cheese evenly on top.
Cover loosely with foil and place in the oven for 45 minutes.
Uncover and bake a further 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender and everything is blubbling and golden.
Remove from the oven and serve as a side with roast chicken or steak or as a meal in intself with salad.

I'll let you know. At least its not liver.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

RIP Green Pea ...

Poor little Green Pea has finally bitten the dust and now sits bleeding in the carport.

Yes she was very old & very green.
Yes we all held our breath every year when she went in for her Warrant of Fitness inspection.
Yes I could probably have travelled several times to Australia with all the money I've forked out to keep her (and himself) on the road.

But she had style.
When other ladies of her age sat at home with their knitting, she got up to no good.
She raced in the drags at Meremere.
She cruised Queen Street.
She partied more than she should.
She took more corners at high speed than is good for a lady.
She pretended to be a nice girl sometimes and took grannies & mothers shopping.
She turned up to collect the granny from hospital appointments with sound system blaring & exhaust revving - she liked to let the hospital staff know that "her" granny was no old lady either.

She was a good car.

Goodbye Green Pea.

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, "WHOO HOO! What a ride!"

Friday, January 27, 2006


Who would think sleeping would be so difficult. Let's face it you don't have to expend a lot of energy, no special shoes to buy and the "uniform" is optional. For goodness sake you don't even have to be upright. You just have to lie there, think of nothing and "PING" the sleep fairy arrives and waves her magic wand. All I can say is that bitch of a fairy must have a wonderful social life at the moment because she hasn't been visiting my house for a while. Either that or she's had a better job offer.

A friend told me that when she can't sleep she redesigns her house in her head, adding another floor & staircases to it. She insists she's never got further than the first bedroom and ensuite before she nods off.

I prefer making lists, some of which are too rude to share here. My mother might read them afterall and think badly of me. Oh, thats right, she already does.

No, no rude lists today. Just the family rated ones. "Hair colours" takes a while because lets face it the dye bottle is my friend. "Name all your cousins, their partners & children" is another one that challenges. Not that I have many cousins - I just don't have a very good memory.

Last night I decided on "Internationally Famous New Zealanders or Inventions". I only had a "bit" of insomnia and thought it wouldn't take long.

1/. Sir Edmund Hillary
2/. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (I didn't have to actually LIKE them)
3/. Peter Jackson
4/. Sam Neil
5/. Peter Snell
6/. Neil Finn
7/. Andrew Adamson
8/. John Britten
9/. Sir Ernest Rutherford
10/. Sir Archie McIndoe
11/. Janet Frame
12/. Dr John Money (now there's one we all wish was Australian)
13/. The Hamilton Jet
14/. AJ Hackett
15/. Jean Batten

At this stage I gave up trying to decide if Ettie Rout was (a) internationally famous & (b) really a New Zealander. I had also given Russell Crowe Australian citizenship (god knows, they're welcome to him) and refused to debate the big Pavlova question. I woke up at 9.00am this morning so I guess I just bored myself to sleep.

Now boredom is not something to be suffered alone. I insist you all join me in a spot of mind-numbing.

For those of you not of a New Zealand persuasion, name what the "15" are famous for (or as many as you can) without resorting to "Google" or "phone a friend". (Oh, alright then, they are a bit obscure and you can look them up if you want to.) For any New Zealanders - name 15 more!

There will be prizes for the "first" and the most "entertaining" responses.

Happy Saturday!
(Image: Waikeremoana 1960's)

Friday, January 20, 2006



What happened?

My mother has given me temporary possession of the family slides. I say temporary possession only to quiet any rumblings from the Madcow-Brothers who may be under the delusion that they have any rights to their ownership ... but haha suckers, I'm here and you're not and mum loves me the best! OK, so we all know that's not true but it's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I've been trying to spend at least an hour every night scanning them into the pc with the aim of burning cd's for all of us. On one hand its probably only a marginally more interesting task than watching paint dry, but on the other hand it's proving to be quite a time of surprises and reflection.

Needless to say the whole age thing is foremost in my mind. How can things/people/events that I remember vividly be over 40 years ago? What happened to turn those little cherubs into the grumpy old farts they are now? Oh yeah. We got old. Older, fatter, greyer and cynical.

Back then Great Auntie Nellie coming to visit on a PLANE was enough to send the extended family rushing to Hood Aerodrome to witness the arrival and departure. And of course those were the days where a lady wore a hat and lippy when setting out on such an adventure. These days Nellie would catch a shuttle bus and wear her comfy track suit no doubt.

Back then nuns were real nuns - penguin suits and all - and their angelic faces belied the previous fifteen minutes of "God is watching you so get into those lines ... NOW!" and the threat of the leather strap hidden under those folds of black wool. Oh well, at least I got to wear a veil! LOL

Back then my mother even looked like she knew how to ham it up for the camera. Little girls dresses were made with an extra yard of fabric in the hem so that the dress would accomodate the different shapes of the six cousins who would wear it next. And that car!

Now of course I can remember all these things vividly and have got no idea what my own cell phone number is. Now I scoff at people who say women eventually turn into their mothers - bollocks! We turn into our fathers if the sudden sprouting of hair on the chin is any indication. Now all the little boys I fancied at school are ageing and fat too and I doubt if any of them would remember how to tie a necktie let alone own one.

Perhaps the Madcow-Brothers can have the slides afterall.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Just because I like it ...

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." - Dr Seuss

Kip posted another challenge and Jules is nagging me to do it but god knows its the hardest one so far. Talk about the "cultural cringe". Is it a kiwi thing? Don't pop you head up - tall poppies are only fit for the scythe! Don't blow your own trumpet! And a thousand other golden etceteras thanks to a convent upbringing and a slightly uptight presbytarian outlook on life!

Still, here we go. Ten things I like about myself.

1/. I seem to be able to make people laugh. Often I don't mean to but they laugh anyway!
2/. I can string two words together on the page. In fact, I often find it much easier to write what I think than to say it.
3/. I appear to have the kind of face that people, and I include complete strangers here, feel the need to tell me their life story. Trains, buses, supermarket queues...people will reveal the most intimate moments of their lives and I get it all. I have been sitting in the public courtyard at work and been moved to tears by the raw emotion of somebody elses memory, or have been priviledged to share the sheer absurdity of anothers. I treasure every moment.
4/. I survive. There are some times in my life that would be easier to forget but which I choose to honour in memory. I survived those times and learnt from them. Painfully, slowly, but I learnt.
5/. I don't suffer fools easily. This was said to me once as almost a reprimand but I like the fact that I don't. Too easy to go with the flow and accept without censorship every inane comment that spews out of some peoples mouths. Question everything! Accept only the best from others!
6/. I am hypervigilant, through a rather painful set of circumstances, and I have learnt to use it. In a not too nice scenario you'd be glad of it too - I'd have you out the door before you knew what was happening! LOL
7/. I don't mind making a fool of myself if, in the long run, I end up having fun. Think of all the opportunities I would have missed to try something new if I'd worried about what someone else thought.
8/. I'm reliable. I turn up for work. I'm there when you ring. Some days you might think I'm boring but I'm there if you want me/need me.
9/. I don't care about the crap. Yours or mine I don't care. If our houses are a mess, or our lives, so what. Who you are is what matters.
10/. I'm still here. You may never know how important that is to me and to who I am.

"I asked the others after,
the women and the men,
what they were doing with such confidence
and how they had learned their living:
they did not answer,
they went on dancing and living."
- Pablo Neruda

Monday, January 09, 2006

Louie in the dogbox! (for Pam)

Literally! We had spent the best part of the morning driving up and down the road looking for the rascal. Apparently there were bitches on heat a couple of miles away and our boy had to find them! He was sent to the dogbox in disgrace for the day, although on the upside we did get to meet ALL the neighbours on our search! LOL

Poor old Louie. The time before I was visiting there were dreadful gale force winds around the farm and we decided to head into the relative safety of the wine bar in town. Louie was put into his dog box and later in the afternoon we got a call from himself saying he couldn't find him. "He's in the dogbox" we said. There was a silence and then "Oh shit, the dogbox has gone!"

The wind had picked the whole thing up and tossed it down the cliff! Fortunately Louie must have fallen out at some stage and although unhurt, he then spent the next few days hiding in the laundry. Who could blame him!

Its not the best photo Pam but all I could lay my hands on tonight. Gives you an idea though.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

January thanks to KiwiScraps NZ

More treasure!

Through rather roundabout means I discovered a new blogsite today that rather took my fancy. "Cat's Crafty Corner" is a delight. Who couldn't love a woman who takes photo's of knitting yarn! I'm looking forward to visiting there often as I think we may have a lot in common. I can picture it now: coffee poured, knitting needles clicking and chatting to our hearts content about scrapping. Anne & Gail will have to come visit with us - I will make a knitter of you yet Gail!!

My other little treasure was in the mailbox - a small package from one of my favourite online sites. It had me stumped - did an excess of chardonnay lead to a little sleep walking order?? No, it was a gift for a "good" customer. (Now what does that tell you about my spending? LOL). A cute little CD calendar with a new project & instructions for each month.

January is a Coaster Calendar courtesy of Wendy Redshaw-Bruhns - she has used a photo editing programme to add that months calendar to each photo. Gorgeous! If I can finally stop nearly garrotting myself with the tripod, I'll try to remember to share each month with you as it comes.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Thanks to Kip "2005 - A Year in Review"

1. What did you do in 2005 that you'd never done before? Went up the Sky Tower and had dinner in the restaurant … I do not like heights, I do not like heights, I do not like REVOLVING heights… the only saving grace was the company!

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? To save time I decided on some resolutions many years ago and just recycle them every January. In another effort to save time I make no attempt whatsoever to ever achieve them. So just so you know this year I will NOT lose weight, save money, keep my house clean or be a better person.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, I became Great Aunt Madcow on Christmas Eve with the birth of little Khyler.

4. Did anyone close to you die? A woman I worked with, who I believed could have become one of our great leaders, died and I still feel cheated and angry that she is gone.

5. What countries did you visit? Overseas? Does flying over the Cook Straight count? Still working on the “why leave home until you’ve seen the country” premise … at least that’s what I tell myself. A win in Lotto will change this immediately!

6. What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005? Financial security and the freedom to leave Auckland.

7. What date from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? I’m afraid the days just seem to dribble one into another … perhaps “he who shall not be named” turning 21. Given some of the things from our past I’m still amazed we made it!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Standing up for myself in a particularly spiteful confrontation and realizing at the end of it that I was really free of the worst aspects of my past. 2005 was the year to realize I was no better or worse than anyone else. I was just me.

9. What was your biggest failure? Not being more outspoken defending my friends when they were attacked … I hope Kip and Jules know that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Concussion from hitting my head on my scrapdesk … who said scrapping wasn’t a blood sport!

11. What was the best thing you bought? Food, I love food! LOL

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My friends – their tenacity and their joy in living each day.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Bush … enough said, Brasch – I’m sure he tucks his shirt into his underpants, a few Bureaucrats who have not only confirmed my cynicism but sunk to new depths in their attempts at self aggrandizement, and several little vegetables on the CKMB whose bullying/jealousy towards others demeans us all as women.

14. Where did most of your money go? Mortgage, rates, electricity … wish I hadn’t answered this one … just too depressing when you look at it.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Prenzels’ Vinaigrette with Avacado, Joe Rokocoko’s legs, my first sari, Kevin Spacey, Khyler, the new washing line at the farm ….

16. What song will always remind you of 2005? I get knocked down (But I get up againYou're never going to keep me down) by Chumbawamba – old song but it sums up last year on so many levels.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? Happier!
ii. thinner or fatter?
iii. richer or poorer?
Probably the same.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Taken more risks, laughed more, worried less!

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

20. How will you be spending Christmas? Its past now but … brunch with mum then crap movies on sky while reclining on the couch sipping chardonnay!

22. Did you fall in love in 2005? No

23. How many one-night stands? Don’t be silly!

24. What was your favorite TV program? House, Early Doors & Jiminy Glick

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? Hate is a waste of emotion - I think there are enough spiteful little trolls in the world already without me adding anything to that little pool of venom.

26. What was the best book you read? Nothing stands out – I enjoyed them all. I keep going back to my battered little copy of WB Yeats Selected Poetry though, keep Geoff Moon’s Field Guide to NZ Birds always close to hand and get in a panic if the Concise Oxford is hiding from me!

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Donovon Frankenreiter, Amy Winehouse, Ben Harper & the Blind Boys of Alabama

28. What did you want and get?
Love & self respect!

30. What was your favorite film of this year? My Architect and the other night I really enjoyed The Station Agent.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? On holiday at the farm. My gf gave me yellow irises from the garden, himself played happy birthday on the bagpipes and we saw My Architect at the movies in town. I was 47.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Possibly a relationship … not sure.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005? “Its clean and it fits … nearly!”

34. What kept you sane? Friends and the ability not to take anything too seriously, especially myself!

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? If I was to have a girly crush it would have to be Kevin Spacey and I really don’t want to hear any speculation on his sexuality/status/anything else…he’s my fantasy man and I don’t give a fig.

36. What political issue stirred you the most? The National party’s election campaign and the apparent apathy from some voters that we could lose our Nuclear Free policies and that many families in NZ lead lives comparable with those in Third World countries.

37. Who did you miss?
My gf down south.

38. Who was the best new person (people) you met? Every day has been a surprise

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005: Its never too late!

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: Bic Runga – Listening for the Weather

"I've been doing what I'm told
I've been busy growing old
And the days are getting cold but that's alright with me

Sunlight sends you on your way
And those restless thoughts that cling to yesterday
Never be afraid of change"

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


I seem to have been distracted lately with cleaning. Happens every January in The World of the Madcow usually starting on New Years Eve. Cupboards must be cleaned out, walls washed, ovens cleaned. What a waste of time. Come the next January it all needs doing again. I should instead stick to Quentin Crisps' idea that the dirt doesn't get any worse after the first four years. Instead every year without fail, I imagine that I will somehow evolve into Martha Stewart (without the jail time) and my flat will feature in the next copy of House & Garden. I buy new rubber gloves and a bottle of Jif and all reason goes out the door.

I was at one time a Domestic Goddess. It was not long after "he who shall not be named" was born and for several months there was not a surface in the house (including the child) that wasn't scrubbed within an inch of its life on a daily basis. I blame hormones myself or sleep deprivation. Happily I soon tired of it and instead tried to pacify my mother by assuring her that I was in fact giving the child a natural immunity to every disease known to mankind by letting it fester in our own personal rubbish tip. Its done him no harm and I'm sure the scars will fade in time!

Like then, I am now "over" cleaning. I tried it for three days, didn't like it and won't do it again for a while. And as for being a Domestic Goddess I am once again reminded of Mr Crisp:
" If at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style."

So instead of the House & Garden feature why not enjoy this shot of the Pohutukawa blooms which we are enjoying at the moment - our own Christmas Tree.