Thursday, September 25, 2008

A tough act to follow

I saw my parents off at airport yesterday. Needless to say, tears were shed, bones were crushed with a years worth of hugs, and the airport authorities were brought in to tear me from my parents grasp. I only survived the long tube journey back from Heathrow by reading a free copy of the Telegraph, very intently, from front to back (including the obituaries). Do you think I can remember a damn article? Gordon Brown made a speech, that much I gather.

The thing that most people commented on after meeting my parents was how cute they are together, and how affectionate they are with each other still. My Dad has always doted on my Mum - something I always took for granted - and as much as she is sometimes exasperated by his quirks*, they have lived their lives like two peas in a pod and she would be lost without him.

I remember it dawning on me in my teens that other people's parents were different. They nagged each other, or lead virtually separate lives, or seemed to barely tolerate one another. It wasn't until I reached my twenties that I realised that what my parents have is actually quite rare. Sad as it seemed (and still seems) to me, only once in a blue, blue moon - as Luka Bloom so beautifully sings - do lovers find each other. It is easy to be fooled - what with all the films, songs and stories devoted to the subject - into thinking that true love is everybody's birthright, easy to achieve as reaching out and plucking a rose. Actually, true love is a rare and fragile bird, and as much a product of will as it is of chance, magic, chemistry or whatever you want to call that ephemeral spark between two people.

My parents have certainly had their share of rough patches, but underlying their marriage is an unshakeable devotion to and blind faith in their "togetherness". That kind of fierce, limpet-like commitment has seen them through 35 years, 3 kids, and the various crises and celebrations that occur in varying frequencies in everybody's lives.

I am lucky enough to have two generations of stable, devoted, loving marriages on which to base my expectations. As one person commented, that's a hard act to follow. It surely is, my friend.

* I don't want to get into too much detail here, but let me just say - my Dad is a little averse to spending money; and even the simplest plan (ie. a trip to the shops) must be confirmed in triplicate - with supporting notes, lists, timelines and maps - in order for him to feel comfortable.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bitch just ruined my best dress

As if I didn't hate you enough already, Paris. Now you've gone and ruined the Diane von Furstenberg dress that I fell in love with at a sample sale on fifth avenue and will forever associate with New York. Damn you to hell.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nuts for choco-banana cupcakes

God I miss New York. Especially the cupcakes, which they do to perfection. It's all in the butter-rich frosting they pile on top in extravagent swirls, as high as the cake itself.

Here is my slightly healthier, much lamer take on the New York cup-cake. I didn't ice these but they would be great with cream cheese icing.

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup white flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bi-carb soda
pinch salt
1/2 cup golden caster sugar
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 egg
1/3 cup sunflower oil
50gm seriously dark chocolate (I used 100% cocoa because I'm well hard)
75gm chocolate of your choosing, chopped into small pieces (I used Green & Black's milk)
a handful of pecans, chopped

Melt the dark chocolate over a pan of hot water. In a large bowl, mix the first 6 (dry) ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the banana, oil and egg. Melt the dark chocolate and add to the wet mix.

Add the wet mix to the dry, and mix roughly. Fold in the chopped chocolate and pecans. Spoon into 12 muffin cases and cook at 180 celcius for 25 minutes or so.

Eat while dreaming of New York and drooling over the memory of inch-thick frosting.


Friday, September 05, 2008

The parental unit come to visit

MY PARENTS ARE HERE! MY PARENTS ARE HERE!! Lord-a-me, I never thought I would see the day. My Swedish-bound bro and I have been fretting for their welfare ever since they told us they had decided they were coming over! And they had booked their flights already! And surely there was only one airport in Sweden, so they booked tickets to that one!

Oh boy. My parents have never travelled outside of Australia (apart from their honeymoon, which was to Norfolk Island, and I'm pretty sure that doesn't count). They still live in the same house they built after they got married, with the same charmingly red-necked neighbour next door. My Dad gets twitchy if he doesn't get at least one LARGE, STRONG, PIPING HOT mug of tea per hour in the day, and let's not talk about his attitude towards spending money unecessarily (or indeed, at all). I don't want to build up a picture that my parents are incredibly conservative here, because they are both intelligent people who are interested in the world around them, and my mum especially has become a lot more engaged in the world of texts and yoga classes and Japanese cuisine over the past decade, but I think it's fair to say that they are very modest, home loving people who love living in Australia, and have never seen the need to go anywhere else.

BUT NOW THEY'RE HERE! Telling me about the adventures they had in Rome! And how they danced to Waltzing Matilda in Tuscany! And got free cheesecake from a lovely Italian dude when they arrived late to their hotel in Florence! And how the snooty French woman told my Dad off for filling his water bottle with Evian from the breakfast table! (he doesn't trust the tap water in Europe - that would be a step too far).

I am so overwhelmed to see them both again, and so proud of them both for making it here, and so thrilled that they enjoyed Europe so much. They are both skinnier than I remember, and older. Also, it's great for the ego when your Dad tells you that you are better than the Colosseum and the Pantheon combined. Love you both, little rum and popsy, and so looking forward to making the most of having you here in London with me.
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