Friday, October 10, 2014


I was away and now Im back and I started blogging using Blogsy on the iPad and it kept crashing so here I am with a week of whatever.
It was my brother's fiftieth birthday this past weekend - or to be more precise, his birthday party; his birthday was a few weeks ago. He had a crazy over-the-top themed costume party which seemed like a good excuse for a visit.
He lives in the Atherton Tablelands, not quite in the middle of nowhere, but close. The property is about four acres and is bounded on three sides by a curving river with platypus (so I'm told; I've not been able to verify this personally) and turtles (I saw one this morning).
Across the river one neighbour has cows:
And the other has sheep:

It also hosts a plethora of avian life, fowl both domesticated (chickens and ducks) as well as not (guinea fowl, wild turkeys and swamp hens), and the usual complement of cockatoos, finches, magpies and other flying things unknown to me.
Also metal birds.
The thing that astonishes me though is the abundance of fruiting trees, some familiar, like bananas and mulberries:

And guavas (sadly not even close to ripe):
Some completely unfamiliar like jabuticabas which grow on the trunk of the tree instead of at the ends of the branches:
As we were running an errand yesterday, my brother stopped the car at the end of the driveway, grabbed his hat and attacked the tree.
They have a white, creamy, mildly sweet inside, and the skin is delightfully tart and chewy.
There are also chocolate fruit; yes, really. Supposedly you add cocoa powder and vanilla or cinnamon and mix it up and I'm really hoping that at least one is ripe enough to eat before I leave (sadly none was) because, I mean: CHOCOLATE FRUIT for crying out loud. 
Also papaya and litchees and oranges and pink grapefruit (I accidentally ate one this morning: I squeezed it to see if it was ripe and it fell off in my hand so what was I supposed to do?) and lemons and limes and a knobby thing the name of which I can't remember and something that almost looked like plums.
Oh yes, the beading: I started a kumihimo rope at the airport waiting for the first leg of my flight and finished off the clasp before dinner yesterday.
Party preparations are underway. It's pretty intense so far.
I wrote the above before I found out I couldn't publish anything to the blog. The rest was cobbled together this evening. 
The party was the most insane over-the-top extravaganza ever; it would be amazing anywhere but in the Tablelands, not exactly the heart of wild and crazy, it's something they will be talking about for a long, long time.
My brother really went all-out and hired a party planner, so we just watched the tent go up, the lighted dance-floor go down, the caterer's station arranged, and the clean-up crew the next morning.
The theme of the costumes was Gangsters and Molls through the Ages, and we saw everything from your traditional speakeasy gangster with double-breasted pinstripe suit and spats 
to Atilla the Hun, Alex from a Clockwork Orange, 
Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction, a failed gangster in striped prison garb (whose wife in real life is a prison officer), Catwoman, Malificent, Scarface (I thought he was Elvis until I saw the very realistic scar), Cruella deVille, JFK and Jackie (I guess the Australians think they were gangsters; I wasn't there to judge) and others I'm sure I can't remember.
I was a gangster rapper. You can't really tell, but the jeans are colossal and belted, hung as low as possible without actually falling off.
 I really should have taken off my rings.
I had a blast with the tattoos. My favourite was a tribal-style medallion at the back of my neck that looks a little like a shuriken (Japanese round throwing blade).
The decor, entertainment (more below) and food theme was Moroccan. 
They had a huge tent draped with vaguely Oriental fabrics, hookahs, opulent cushioned seating, coloured glass-and-metal lanterns to set the scene. The food included lamb koftas and hummus and spiced lamb with chickpeas and almonds and beef kebabs and dates and things I didn't get to taste. There was a lot of alcohol. 
There was a pole dancer, 
a fortune teller (who told my sister-in-law, the wife of the birthday boy that her relationship would be over in two months, that she would lose the kids, and would have "no recourse". My sister-in-law was not happy), 
fire dancers, burlesque dancers, a blow-up bouncy castle thing, a rather good cover band, a mechanical bull and a DJ. There was still music playing when I woke up the next morning. 
I also reconnected with a friend from Junior School (in the old country this encompassed the first seven years of school) but drifted apart in High School. We hadn't seen each other in (urgh) almost thirty-seven years. Her husband took over my brother's job when he got tired of superintending and went back to doctoring - small world.
One of the guests started making frozen daiquiris some time after midnight. He cleaned out every last piece of fruit, fresh as well as frozen, two pounds of brown sugar and a few bottles of whatever the alcoholic base for daiquiris is, to make four batches in all. I had only strawberry, but  the prison officer sampled them all. She was very unhappy for the next two days.
Most people camped down by the river and straggled in for breakfast, cooked by a chef who wasn't at the party. Few who were, were in a fit state to cook.
Crazy eyes in the suspenders was the Daiquiri Chef. 
You wouldn't imagine that the perfectly respectable-seeming guy in the black pants sitting next to him had been on the stripper pole the night before, showing us more flesh than the actual professional did (to be fair she didn't strip). I'd be hard-pressed to do any sort of acrobatics while climbing and suspending myself from a stripper pole while sober; he managed a credible performance including the partial removal of some garments while very, very intoxicated. In truth it was perhaps more entertaining than the actual pole dancing.
At some point during my stay I finished another kumihimo necklace.
The following evening I staked out the river and managed to catch a few glimpses of a platypus. Or perhaps a few of them, I couldn't tell. They're pretty shy and way too quick for me to get pictures.
I made another kumihimo necklace on the flights home and finished off the clasp a couple of hours ago.
The bag I made before I left worked out as planned. No breakages, no floppiness, no pockets too small for comfort (though perhaps I needed more pockets and the gusset could have been wider but those are minor quibbles). Third time as they say is indeed a charm.

Don't ask me how I'm going to manage at work tomorrow though.

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