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25 December 2007

Christmas at the Wilkinson House

8am. rinse turkey and season with lemon, garlic and herb butter.

8:30. toast and tea. open presents. 

9:15. turkey in oven. baste every 15 minutes for the next three hours.

9:30-11:30. make bread sauce and stuffing, prepare veggies, put pudding in to boil. shower, tidy, set table.

12:30. turkey out to stand. make gravy. crank up the oven for the veggies, stuffing and bread sauce. steam veggies. cut ham.

12:45. open the wine.

1pm. eat. crackers, more wine. terrible jokes.

2pm. swear you'll never eat again.

2:30. pudding. soak in rum on the plate, and then heat rum in a ladle, set on fire and pour liquid fire onto pudding. nom nom nom.

3pm. swear you'll never eat again.

4pm. chocolate santas and mince pies. pictionary, chinese checkers.

5pm. walk to the park (SLOWLY).

6pm. small nap.

7pm. turkey and stuffing sandwich.

7:30. swear you'll never eat again.

8pm. maybe one more mince pie.

8:30. It's a Wonderful Life on TV (or a Muppet Christmas Carol). Graze on nuts, chocolate santas, ham, leftover veggies. Try and learn the difference between port, muscat and tokay by having one glass of each.

11pm. Bed.

Merry Christmas, blogosphere!

14 December 2007

Real or Fake? The Christmas Tree Dilemma

I love Christmas. I love everything about it. I can even tolerate a tiny bit of Jesus-lovin' at Christmas time (as long as it's the Away in a Manger kind of Jesus-lovin', not the 'Jesus wants me to carry a gun' kind).
And one of my favourite things about Christmas (apart from the food) is a Christmas tree. But there is the dilemma: real or fake?
Real is nice because it's... well, it's real. It is a tree and it smells nice. But there are a couple of things that are problematic with real ones, namely:
1. They go brown very quickly, and don't last until twelfth night.
2. Things live in them. Like snails who eat wrapping paper.
3. I am violently allergic to them, and can't be in the same room as one without medication.
and
4. Monterey pines, which are the only kind of Christmas tree available in Australia.
These are Christmas trees:

This, however, is not a Christmas tree:

It just isn't.
So I've gone fake. If I could get a Douglas fir or a Fraser, then I might be prepared to deal with the snails and the vast amounts of Claratyne. But not for a Monterey Pine.



12 December 2007

Takadanobaba

We're staying in a ryokan in Takadanobaba.

The REALLY nerdy among you will know that Takadanobaba is the birthplace of AstroBoy (or Tetsuwan Atom, as he is known in Japan). When you get off the train here, the station PA plays the theme song. 

Also, me and AstroBoy share the same birthday.

11 December 2007

Flying

If you ever have the opportunity, fly from New York to Tokyo*. The route goes north, up though the very top of Alaska, over miles and miles of pure white snow and frozen lakes, with absolutely no sign of people. Then a short stretch of ocean and then down through Siberia. This time with enormous cliffs and mountains of snow that drop dramatically into the ocean.

It was perfectly clear the whole way, and as we were flying west in the late afternoon, we had a perpetual sunset for most of the way. It was amazing.

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* But don't fly American Airlines. Ever. No matter how cheap it is. It's like being in jail. But I'm sure you get better food in jail. There isn't even any booze! Not even to BUY!

09 December 2007

The True Story of a Squirl who Loved a Soldier

So I'm standing in line, ready to get on the ferry to Ellis Island. It's a long line, I'll be here for an hour and a half. It's also outside, and about 1 degree. Brr.

There's a gruff-looking soldier standing, supervising the line with disinterest. A Swedish guy goes over to him and asks in broken English where to buy tickets. The Gruff Soldier stares at him, and does this irritating thing where he refuses to anticipate what Swedish is trying to say, even though he's struggling, and also even though Gruff must get asked that question about a million times a day. He doesn't even smile or nod to indicate that he's listening. He insists on waiting until Swedish has managed a complete sentence before he jerks his head and mutters a few words.

'Nice,' I think. 'Very courteous. Bloody Americans.'

There is a Squirl* sniffing around the park, eating all the things that the tourists drop. He stops near Gruff and looks up at him, its Squirly nose all twitchy and adorable. Gruff looks down at Squirl and continues to look gruff.

Squirl is clearly disconcerted that Gruff didn't acknowledg
e him. So it shuffles a bit closer, and puts a little Squirly paw on Gruff's khaki trouser leg. Gruff exhibits no discernable emotion.

Squirl is just plain pissed now. Can't this stupid man see how CUTE the Squirl is? The fluffy tail? The twitchy nose? The adorable wide eyes?

Squirl does a little shudder of the tail, and then runs up the outside of Gruff's military issue trousers, grabs his belt, and fixes him with a beady and slightly pugnacious eye.

Gruff looks down at the adorable ball of fur attached to his hip pocket.

And he winks at Squirl.

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*Squirrel. Like this one: