domenica 31 dicembre 2017

Last day.

The 7 is about to tick over to 8.
I have a new practice diary standing by, the old one will go into the cupboard later today or early tomorrow morning.

This is a stock picture and is not my actual diary.
Okay, that was lazy, I'll take some photos.

2017 diary with current pen.

2018 diary with same pen.

Having a pen nearby is an important part of the practice diary keeping process. A practice diary pen needs to be checked regularly. Because it sits on a chair in our living room (with the practice diary), there is a danger of it being borrowed by another person who lives here to write cards and similar things. The pen needs constant monitoring. As I said, without a good reliable pen a practice diary is useless and vunerable to being out of date.

Why don't you have a back up pen Richard (of RBB)?

I usually have one stored away somewhere and I also try to make sure that there are spare pens around the house. However, there is a problem.

Imagine that my practice diary is God - all he asks is that pens come to him and they will be saved.

This object is Satan.
Don't be fooled by its size, it's a bottomles pit that swallows up many things. Pens are no exception. In fact, Satan lures pens away from the practice diary (God) probably with promises of adventures and travel. Sometimes Often Always used tissues are left in Satan's mouth to discourage any foreign hands entering. Wise, clean hands stay away from Satan.

God (the practice diary) also contains important information like:
  • The date I returned to playing the violin.
  • My IRD number.
  • My MOE number.
Each dated page serves one day. It records practice times for double bass, violin and guitar. It also contains any important notes, like a gig or an upcoming event. Often there are some Italian reminders at the top of the page, near the date. It is not ideal to practise three instruments because there is a danger of one or two being neglected. Say a bass gig is coming up, it is natural to favour that instrument. 
I like to think of these instruments like the Holy Trinity - each is an important part of the whole. 
I always endeavour to make sure that one instrument is not being missed out and getting less practice.

So why do you record your practice times Richard (of RBB)?

I find that it keeps me honest. Funnily enough, when I replace a practice book, the old one goes into a cupboard and is very rarely looked at again. I guess I just like to be accurate about how much practice I have actually done.

There's always a certain amount of excitement and a little trepidation when I kick off a new practice diary. I used to set goals - about how many hours I intend to do this year or what I will practise.
These goals are seldom (if ever) met because requirements change as the year unfolds. I now believe that the greatest purpose of the practice diary is for reflecting on what actually happened. 
A good rule for the practice diary is keep it simple.

Well, there you have it. I hope this is helpful if you're thinking of setting up a practice diary.

Happy practice diary change over and may your pen be safe.

sabato 30 dicembre 2017

One for Robert.

1956 Vauxhall Velox with people in the foreground.

Baxter out of town for a while.

Angry Jesus ordered asked me to tell you that, due to family reasons, Baxter will be out of town for a little while.

Baxter - not available at present.
We will keep you informed about when he will be available again. It's worth remembering that the dog meat episode (The Book of Baxter 27:15/7) was translated from three different languages (including Hebrew) and things do get a bit twisted in translation.
We currently have a translation team working on it and will update Angry Jesus' last blog if we find too many inaccuracies.

This is unfortunate.

This photo was displayed on a new post by The Curmudgeon. Frankly it came as more of a shock than the frendship request I received from Robert on Facebook - he who unfriends people at will.
Avid readers of The Book of Baxter will be troubled by this - the photo, not the friendship request from Robert.

It makes it look like Baxter has gone commercial and this simply isn't true.

Baxter - a general and a writer of great wisdom
but not an owner of a dog food factory.
Let me state it clearly here - BAXTER (our Baxter) HAS NOT GONE INTO THE DOG FOOD BUSINESS.


venerdì 29 dicembre 2017

Okay, here's the plan.

Some time in mid to late September 2018.
The plan is to rent a car at Aeroporto di Milano Linate.

There will be three main destinations.
  • Monteforte d'Alpone
  • Cerveteri
  • Altamura
These are chosen because I know people in these areas who I want to catch up with.
These smaller towns also give me an environment where not much English is spoken.
Just Italian and local dialects. The idea is to be based in each of these areas for about twelve days.*

Arrive in Milano - drive to Monteforte d'Alpone (near Verona) - drive to Ladispoli (near Roma) - drive to Altamura (near Bari) - drive back to Roma and head home.

1) Monteforte d'Alpone

2) Cerveteri

3) Altamura

Okay, there is a lot of planning to do and there will be a lot of challenges, like flying for hours and hours and driving on the right hand side of the road. We will need to break the long journey with a stop over - probably in Singapore.

Chi va piano va sano e va lontano.

* planning is still in its infant stages

mercoledì 27 dicembre 2017

Keeping the home fires burning.

Does anyone remember the last post from The Curmudgeon Inc?
Robert's last post simply said, "Back at work..."

Thank heavens for The Bass Bagging Confederation!

The Bass Bagging Confederation
Through thick and thin, through rain and shine we deliver the posts.

You won't find us hiding away in Napier, taking a dump in someone's main toilet. You won't find us out cleaning other people's houses because we take blogging seriously.

We also take music seriously and even performed on Christmas Day.

Today's jobs included going to see the latest Star Wars movie, changing the key of a Testore Trio chart, doing the wasghing and preparing dinner for Uncle Steve.

"What's for dinner?"

Okay, you're probably thinking that Richard (of RBB) is too busy to knock out a post.


You're reading the latest post right now!

Well, we figured readers were standing around.

Well, it wouldn't have taken them long to read, "Back at work..."

Oops, Uncle Steve's back. Better go.

Early to rise.

Quietness Challenged.

Uncle Steve was up at 5.30am this morning. It sounded like he touched every plate and cup in the kitchen. Uncle Steve has a condition called Quietness Challenged. How can you tell if a member of your family suffers from Quietness Challenged?

Here's an easy to use checklist:
  • When using a telephone, a QC person will talk loud enough so that, if the telephone wasn't working, the person at the other end could still hear them.
  • A QC person assumes that, if he is not sleeping, no one else can be.
  • If you get out of bed and a QC person is in your house, he won't be aware of the time to wake up rule and will immediately engage with you in deep and meaningful conversation.
  • A QC person is like a Heavy Metal guitarist - the volume knob is always set on 10.
What can I do if I'm living with a QC person?

There is no known cure for this condition but here are a few things you can try:
  • Sleep in your car.
  • Stay awake all the time.
  • Disconect the phone and pretend that it is broken.
  • If this person is going to be in your house for a long time, have your ear drums surgically removed. 
Remember that this is an illness and a QC person is unaware of why everyone else in the house looks tired all the time. Some people find respite by sending the QC person on long erands.
Here are some helpful suggestions:
  • Find a person a few blocks away who needs a cat fed while they are on holiday.
  • When you go to the supermarket 'forget' to buy one thing that you really need.
  • Tell the QC person about a must see movie that is on across town - make sure you know the QC person's passions so that you can make the movie sound attractive.
  • If you are not working (if you are you have an out) pretend you have a new job and get a motel room where you can catch up on sleep through the day. 

martedì 26 dicembre 2017

Christmas Day, some of the people who were at our place and a present that The Curmudgeon would love.

I took these pictures before Annie, George and Laura turned up. Shelley doesn't like being in photos and I'm not in one because, unlike The Curmudgeon, I don't do selfies.

Aunty and Rod enjoy a quiet moment.

Aunty wonders what the hold up 
with lunch is.

Uncle Steve wonders what the hold up
with lunch is.

Steph who made the wonderful pizzas
but was partly responsibe for
the hold up with lunch.

Rod wonders what the hold up 
with lunch is.

Okay, you've probably read, in past posts, how The Curmudgeon has a weird hang up when it comes to the poilets in his place. Basically, if you use his main toilet, he wants to know what you're doing in there and for how long. I tried to help him solve the problem by designing a sign in sheet.
Then yesterday Laura bought a present that really solves the problem.

I need to send this gift to The Curmudgeon.

lunedì 25 dicembre 2017

Buon Natale!

It's a bit of a windy day in Nuova Lazio and it looks like it could rain.
I'm writing before 7am.

Our preferred dry weather option for Christmas lunch.
As I write the big jobs of preparing breakfast and Christmas lunch lie ahead.
This is a day for being jolly and saying Merry Christmas to everyone one meets or has a quick encounter with.
Uncle Steve is already up so I'm not feeling lonely.
The book is working though and he's occupied.
After a while Christmas days tend to run into each other a bit. I suppose it must be worse for Angry Jesus because this is his 2017th in a row.

"I'm popping around to Richard (of RBB)'s today.
I bet it will be bloody lasagna and pizza again!"
I think that most of the Bass Bagging Confederation will be popping in today. We'll need a very big lasagna and lots of pizza. Phillip Nis will be in Auckland, but I think we'll survive him not being here. Bunny said he's off to a barbeque in Naenae. Again I think we'll survive. I wonder if they barbeque carrots in Naenae? Terry McDougal will turn up but he never brings anything and drinks most of the beer. I must be honest and say it's not good to get stuck in a corner with him after he's downed a few. I'll introduce him to Uncle Steve.
Dave Shaw's flight from Dunedin has been delayed. He'll need to be picked up from the airport at some point. Bin said he'd do that. He'll head straight for my bass when he arrives. Dave has a healthy ego but he can't play jazz so he probably won't be jamming with us. George will play bass for the jam. I've put Dave in the same room as Uncle Steve. Call it revenge if you want but we haven't got that much room. I don't know if Different Time Zone Bill will show up - he's probably having Christmas dinner right now in some time zone as I write. Akish can be a bit of a pain at Christmas. He's a hard guest to satisfy - there always seems to be something wrong.

Anyway, I hope you all have a good day out there. Be nice to each other.
Buon Natale. Auguri a te e a tutti i tuoi cari.

domenica 24 dicembre 2017

Christmas is about to begin.

Uncle Steve will be arriving soon.

I went to the Wellington Zoo this morning. I had a bit of time to kill before taking Steph back to Nuova Lazio.
I took some pictures - hence my hillarious The Curmudgeon working out post.

Sometimes Steve visits people on the way down.

This pig is part of the space in the zoo where you can get up close with some animals.

Unfortunately you weren't allowed to pat the lioness.

Soon it will be time to have a wine and prepare dinner for Steve.

Actually this is what I'll make for tomorrow's lunch.

I'll pick up Aunty before making the lasagna.

Shelley bought a big book home to keep Steve busy.

Not The Bible. It's actually a book about James K. Baxter talking to some other guy.

Not the biblical Baxter.

George and Rod and I will probably play some music in the afternoon.

Steve will probably have a sleep.

So will Aunty.

I'll probably play my guitar.

We might play Take The 'A' Train.

Some wine will be drunk.

Then we'll all go to bed.
Another Christmas done and dusted.

Steve will still be there in the morning.

I enjoyed my visit to the zoo today. I got in for $18 (instead of $24) because I'm a pensioner.

All's well in Napier.

Got an email from The Curmudgeon today.
He got Lynn to take a picture.
Good to see that he's working out over the festive season.

The Curmudgeon working out in Napier.

sabato 23 dicembre 2017

Don't forget that it's Angry Jesus' birthday on Monday.

He's turning 2017 so don't forget to wish him well.

Angry Jesus.
Nearly 2017.
He'll no doubt be working on a post for the occasion.

venerdì 22 dicembre 2017

What happens when an old man attempts a selfie.

You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
The Curmudgeon is in Napier. He's staying with people but he reports back that there are plenty of toilets in the house. He said that his hosts have a list on their main bathroom in an attempt to stop him, and any other guests, taking a dump in there. (Just like he has at home)

Please fill out this sheet when using this toilet.
There is a pen on a string attached – please wash your hands thoroughly before touching the pen.
        Full Name               Time In                          Time Out             Purpose of Visit
The Curmudgeon
Urgent dump after long trip. Are there other toilets? Just arrived.
The Curmudgeon
Chardonnay removal.
The Curmudgeon
Chardonnay removal.
The Curmudgeon
Spray. Forgot to do so on first visit. Sorry.

Note: The toilet spray on the window ledge is not there for decoration. Please use it and please use as much as you need.

He said that, at the time of using the main toilet, he had yet to find an alternative.
Okay, the old fella is having a good time. So much so that he decided to take a selfie.

So what does this picture, this selfie, tell you?
  •  The Curmudgeon has had a few Chardonnays and probably started going on a bit about different tastes he was experiencing. It looks like his hosts have seated him outside and have gone inside to talk with Lynn.
  • The hosts have taken the bottle back inside in an attempt to slow him down.
  • He's not in the photo.
This is The Curmudgeon's first attempt at a selfie and, not having a selfie stick, he has got up to take the photo - a common mistake for men of his age.
The Curmudgeon, we can't see you!
This is a photo of where you were sitting. For all we know anyone could have been sitting there. For a selfie to work YOU'VE GOT TO BE IN THE PHOTO!

Ah well, it's good to know that there are plenty of toilets where he is staying.

giovedì 21 dicembre 2017

Christmas Lasagna.

I made my first ever lasagna yesterday as a practice run for Christmas day.

I found a recipe that was supposed to be simple, but it was very hard to follow. There was a video attached, so I watched it about 20 times and rewrote the instructions. I used chicken mince instead of beef mince because we have a couple of vegetarians coming to Christmas lunch who seem to think that chicken is a plant. 

I think this is where they go wrong. This is called a 'chicken plant'.

And this is a plant.
I used canned tomatoes from Sicilia to make my sauce. They are 0.99c a can at the Mediterranean Warehouse in Newtown. I used 3 cans.

The lasagna tasted bloody good.
Here are my rewritten instructions for an easy to make lasagna. Once you've had a bit of practice you could make modifications to suit.

  • 450g Chicken (or beef) mince
  • 4 cups tomato-basil pasta sauce (with garlic & oregano) – use cooking measuring cup
  • lasagna sheets - long
  • 1 (900g?) container ricotta cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups (600g?) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup hot water (or 1/3?) – use cooking measuring cup
  • Butter for greasing dish

How to Make It

1.   Fry mince, add sauce (stir & heat)
2.   Lightly butter dish
3.   Add 1/3 mince/sauce mix
4.   Layer of pasta
5.   Dobs of ricotta, lay on mozzarella (1/2 of each cheese) & add 1/3 mince/sauce mix
6.   Layer of pasta
7.   Dobs of ricotta (last ½), & add 1/3 mince/sauce mix, then lay on mozzarella (last ½)
8.   Hot water around edges
9.   Cover with 2 layers of foil – cook 200 degrees for 45 min
10. Uncover and cook for 10 min
11. Stand for 10 min
12. Serve

There are question marks by the cheese amounts because they seem a bit excessive - you can use less. Also you could change the type of cheese.

Buon Natale. Auguri.