Posts Tagged ‘Vodka’

Lamb cutlets and Bok Choy.

April 18, 2015
My parents wedding photo.

My parents wedding photo.

Don’t ever make the mistake of calling lamb cutlets, lamb chops. There is a big difference. We used to like both and didn’t really mind one above the other and never were guilty of bias when it came to eating lamb. Some readers might now well call it quits. I understand and have full sympathy when some of you object to eating animals. I would too, but have found giving up eating meat even harder than smoking and I really loved smoking! A meek excuse hereby offered is that we haven’t eaten lamb cutlets for years. I have to confess it wasn’t due for concern of lambs but more for the concern of money. Lamb became more costly than smoked trout or caviar with Finlandia Vodka.

Sorry about inserting yet another Sibelius’ Finlandia but that’s what you get contemplating lamb cutlets. A beautiful piece of music that I cannot listen to without shedding tears.

I wonder if Australian lamb compares with the Dutch butter mountain some years ago? The Dutch had conquered the world market in butter. It was so successful that other countries  gave up on butter and despaired of their dairy industries. Cows were sold off and lush paddocks were left fallow. Farmers instead went into cabbages,  turnips and many took to the bottle. Stout buxom wives resorted to locking bedroom doors, forcing husbands to sleep off their drunken stupor on top of slow combustion wood stoves or in the hay loft with languid but faithful old horses. Poverty was knocking at many a dreaded midnight farmer’s door. There were scuffles at local town-halls and Russian dignitaries at world conferences were pelted with frozen Dutch butter.

And then, like magic it resolved itself. The Dutch had become so intoxicated with success they went mad making so much butter, so plentiful, it became a butter mountain, the price dropped! An oversupply of butter that no one wanted. (A bit like the iron ore in Australia at present). In order to keep selling this huge oversupply they sold off butter at a loss and compensated somewhat by  increasing the local price of butter in Holland. But…nothing is simple. Hordes of Dutch would now drive to Russia and buy the cheap subsidised Dutch butter, fill up their car- boots and drive back, all snug with having overcome the exorbitant prices now charged for their own butter in Holland.

Years ago in Australia lamb was as cheap as chips. Farmers were not worried because the wool was really the money earner. Then came synthetics and the market collapsed. The logical answer was selling lamb to eat. Soon shipload after shipload of lamb was sold overseas. The locals soon noticed a quad doubling of price. Lamb cutlets are sold now on par with a rare Penfold’s Hermitage wine or a pair of manacled  Diesel jeans.


My granddad painting while smoking his pipe. His wife in left bottom corner.

Today I noticed lamb cutlets almost at the due date at half price.  I snapped up two packets and barbequed them a couple of hours ago with bok- choy and spuds. A really lovely meal. It might well be another couple of years before we have saved enough for another lamb cutlet or two.

Nothing is easy but we all keep going the best we can!

My Russian Camera.

April 5, 2015
1958 Gerard with his sister on the Lambretta Scooter

1958 Gerard with his sister on the Lambretta Scooter

I’ll try and find my box of photos that I took while I was in the USSR during the mid eighties. I don’t write in diaries so my dates have to be given much leeway by those readers diligent and tenacious enough to keep following my words. Most of what I seem to write is from many decades ago. With old age also comes a kind of carelessness. Why not enjoy at least that luxury?

What is true so far, is that back in the eighties, or so, I noticed an advertisement in the travel section of our biggest Newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald, about an all inclusive trip of USSR. It included as one would expect Moscow and St Petersburg, and would end in London. All hotels and all meals included. Russia was also going through a profound change whereby its last leader was being challenged by a more modern and forward looking man named  Mikhail Gorbachev. He was the last of Soviet Union’s Presidents.

I have now found the box of photos taken by the Russian Camera. As I mentioned it had a very powerful shutter mechanism which reminded me somewhat of my BSA 22 single shot rifle I used for rabbit hunting during the late fifties. The shutter spring must have been so strong the film was exposed twice during the release of the shutter on the bounce back.

Moscow University.

Moscow University.

Lomonosov Moscow State University is so big students have been found at an advanced age simply because they lost their way to the exit, and finally gave up preferring instead to live in its library with 9,000,000 books, 2,000,000 in foreign languages. The university has 1 000 000 m2 floor area in 1 000 buildings and structures, with its 8 dormitories housing over 12 000 students of its 40.000 students and 300 km of utility lines. All free of course, even the foreign students.

A Babushka paying respect to a noble forefather, probably a Tolstoy.

A Babushka paying respect to a noble forefather, probably a Tolstoy.

  • The Russians are big on visiting graves and so they should. Some say, you can tell a culture by the way they look after their departed souls. The graves are often surrounded by Syringa vulgaris (lilac) both pink and white, are well kept and thankfully not a plastic flower in sight. As you dear readers might know, I too am fond of graves and grave yards. There is something so life confirming about them, especially when you know it befalls everybody. A life well lived deserves a nice farewell and a good grave.
  • A bit of a drink party in Moscow.

    A bit of a drink party in Moscow.

    This photo shows a group drinking. I did not investigate what it was they were drinking. It might have been some soft drink or Vodka. Who knows?

  • Bartering in the USSR (Moscow)

    Bartering in the USSR (Moscow)

    A group of women exchanging goods. This was very common and westerners cunningly used to bring lots of jeans and quality goods for exchanging but I never understood what was wanted in exchange. You could not really buy much and had to account for all money spent by showing receipts when you left the country.

  • Moscow shop showing some fashion articles.

    Moscow shop showing some fashion articles.

At last a photo of a shop with some fashion items clothes. We had some Australian girls in our group who thought they would like to shop. They hadn’t done their homework on the USSR. I found it to be a very fascinating insight and absolutely enjoyed my stay there. People were curious and knew a lot about literature and art. I was ashamed to admit some students knew more about Australian writers than I did. On the train Moscow -St Petersburg I met a German speaking Russian woman named Lily who kept giving me sugar cubes dipped in Absinthe and when I told her I was an artist she told the rest of our train compartment. I was just about carried on the shoulders of the Russian travellers. But of that more next time.

I might call next article. ‘Valley of the Lily’.

ps. The scooter photo also shows my mother in the door of our temporary dwelling.  It was on ‘own’ block of land at 51 McGirr Street Revesby, Australia. It was made of the lethal asbestos cement!

The dog was nice but hated the postman who came by motorbike. It was always a race between the bike flat tack uphill and the dog chasing him.

The inventiveness of a damaged woman (final part)

July 24, 2012


She entered the village shop to buy some flour and as a surprise for Boris, a bottle of vodka. She walked past the woman’s house on the way back. It fired her rage up again. Boris was still inside, the axe where it was before. When she got home, she put in some more wood in the stove and calmly sprinkled some rat poison in his chicken broth. Not too much, just a spoon full.

The idea she was taking charge made her almost happy. She felt a renewal surging through her that she hadn’t felt for many years. Enough was enough. What right did anyone have to undo her, unhinge her, and make her mad? He never walked into the forest too drunk, to be swallowed up by snow only to resurface in early spring, with a scrawny skeletal hand poking up in the thaw. Akalena was not going to stand for any more of what she got since her marriage. Boris would be taught a lesson!

Much to Boris’ chagrin, his tumbler of Vodka and his soup was waiting for him when he got back. Without a word he slurped the Vodka and soup down before he grabbed his wife at the crutch. ‘You are next, he growled’. ‘What’s up with you and the vodka, he demanded? ‘Just have some more soup dear’, she offered. The vodka and the sex for axe was now getting the better (or worse) of him and he soon snored away on the floor. When he woke up next day she wanted Boris to chop up some more wood. The winter had started in earnest. There was frost on the inside of the windows each morning before she would get up and put up fresh wood in the stove. Boris complained he felt a bit dizzy but managed to put on his coat to chop up a month supply of wood. The pine was easy to split and soon his axe blows could be heard in the neighbourhood.

This time, Akalena put in two rations of rat poison in his chicken soup, next to his bowl another tumbler of his alcohol. He came in looking somewhat pale but let go of his usual cunt calling and grabbing while being unbuttoned. She had left in large pieces of chicken this time. Again, the vodka and soup diverted his attention away from the usual attacks and violence. He was also getting unsteady on his feet, due to either the vodka or the rat poison or a combination of both. This time he collapsed in his bed at the back of the house.

Akalena had run out of rags for her mats but now started to cut up in long strips Boris’ old shirts and underwear. She fed them into her loom while singing softly to herself. The wood pile outside will be the last pile he will chop, she smiled. Boris had taken to staying in bed while Akalena continued feeding him his poisonous cocktail of chicken soup and vodka. He started to look pale and suffered dizzy spells. ‘You are killing me’, Boris would complain while in an attack of delirium. ‘Oh, my darling, don’t say that’, after all I’ve done for you’. ‘Here, have some soup’. This time, the soup was without the poison. She did want him to suffer but not have it over with too quickly. He had to be kept finely balanced between life and death, conscious enough to still experience some of what she suffered all those years.

She kept the door of his bedroom locked and unheated while cutting his best Sunday suit, his pants, his coats, all his clothing. All cut into strips and all fed into the loom. It would be one of her best mats. As she fed him she cradled his head, spoon fed him. She now started to cut his bed clothes, his pyjamas. His face contorted with terror and supreme fright. ‘No, no you are my husband, my darling’ she said while she now cut away his pants exposing his shrivelled pale manhood. Boris had lost his voice, gone was the swearing, the cunt calling. She smiled at him and left the room, shutting the door behind her. The windows where white with frost and Boris would still have a day or so left in deliriums, perhaps still hoping it would all end. Next day, the bed sheets and last blanket was taken away, cut into strips and fed into her loom. The mat was almost finished. It was her best and strongest mat, many would walk over it. Boris was now getting towards the finale. He looked up into her eyes. Was there some recognition finally? Some regret, some admittance of actions? It was too late… His hands parallel to his body lifted slightly and started to shake, a last tremor and that was that. His death as delicious now as her chicken soup had been all those years. Akalena left the room, rolled up the mat. Boris became useful, finally.

The Inventiveness of a damaged Woman

July 23, 2012

October 18, 2011

There is nothing quite as creative or revengeful as a woman wanting to even out the pain and suffering endured over a lifetime at the hands of a cruel and hopeless man.  Her name was Akalena, his was Boris.

This is her story.

Of course the start of her marriage was wonderful, even loving. He chopped up the firewood. No one could wield the axe in this small Ukrainian village of Pukiv like Boris. He stacked the piles nicely, provided the kindling by going into a small pine forest.  Mountains of pine cones, twigs and even the dried needles he carefully arranged in neat piles. When winter came, and it came to fire wood, there was plenty. He would sometimes drink vodka but nothing too much, certainly not like Ivan from next door, whose wife made him sleep in front of the wood stove when drunk. Her marriage had long ago waned to nothing but she did not want to have her husband found frozen stiff in the forest. Those Ukrainian winters were never kind to those men too scared and inebriated to find their way to the front gate and face spousal fury. When men went missing, the wives would first look into the neighbouring woods, that’s if there hadn’t been a heavy snow fall. In early spring, the forest would then yield its bitter harvest with husbands’ remains found, some still clutching the bottle. It went some way in explaining the surplus of available women. Sometimes, while Boris was swinging his axe, some of those without husbands would saunter by, their hips still capable of a suggestive swing as well.

While Boris did not fall prey to Vodka very often, he did keep a lecherous and leering eye out for those women with loose ways and swinging hips, especially if special favours could be bought. He would sometimes take his axe to one of those women that had walked by, but ended up with more than just chopping their fire-wood. It wasn’t long when rumours became rife of Boris having been noticed whoring and snoring amongst the widows of Pukiv, spending nights away. He had no qualms upsetting Akalena, smelling of Vodka and stale sex. When confronted by Akalena, he scowled and told her ‘did you ever run out of firewood, did you, you bitch’?  Go on, ‘give me my hot soup and pull my boots off’. I’ll fucking well swing my axe wherever I choose to’. Akalena would give him his chicken soup…; boil some water for his stinking feet. The soup had been on the stove for hours, waiting for Boris to show up.

Akalena was disappointed in her Boris and as the years went by, her love also shrivelled as did the love of so many Ukrainian women married to those hopeless men. The swinging of axes or their Vodka fuelled raucous ranting never did make up for their violence, their drunkenness and their hopeless and desperate womanising. There were some who secretly wished their husbands would be found frozen stiff in the pine forest as well. They would give up going into the forest, almost hoping they would not be found except in spring.

(will be continued)