Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Learning as the sun shines

I've been learning a lot of things in the last few days.

ONE: Jethro is an excellent baby

Jethro's foot

He makes me laugh and cry at the same time. The skin! The feets! The fingers! The grumpy looks! The farts! o mi gawd, the farts. He is one stinky little guy.

Zoe has done very well. Owen has too. In fact, while we were sitting and talking the other day, he came in triumphant from fixing the car door. Look at you, I said. Fixed a door and made a baby. Yeah, he beamed from ear to ear, how good am I! Zoe and I gave each other a girl look. He's done splendidly. It's a bittersweet pleasure, having a baby just around the corner, more sweet than bitter, thankfully. And I get cuddles whenever I want, as long as I check beforehand that the household isn't sleeping. I had one today. Little baby. He has a heart-shaped head, and normally looks very peaceful and sweet. Stoopid camera.

TWO: Girls have more to give

On that subject, my doctor got my miscarriage tests back and reported that the problem was a chromosomal issue. He advised that even if we don't try again, we should get some basic tests done to see if we're unlucky or completely incompatible. So Best Beloved and I trotted along to our local pathology lab with a form each. Mine had a box full of incomprehensible doctor scrawl, and his had one word: chromosomes. Which translated as: one vial for him, TWELVE for me! Blimey. Now we wait a month.

THREE: to get the nice things, you have to give a little

BB has been cooking up a storm. In midsummer heat. I can't work out if he's obsessive or just stubborn. He's certainly not sensible. We reached a crisis on Saturday night when he'd spent all the time that the house usually takes to cool down, stirring plum chutney and plum jelly makings. Then he lay on the bed and whinged about the heat. I nearly donged him over the head with a cooking pot, especially when he said let's get an air conditioner. GRRRR. I replied sweetly that I'd rather get batts, and a sail out the front to deflect the heat, and I'd rather he let the house cool down.

BUT. Out of that came this:

Plum jelly

Ooohhhhh... plum jelly. Very lush and sweet and a colour to dive into. Just a little bit on a spoon bursts into flavour in your mouth.

Our plum tree didn't handle the drought very well this year, despite extra water rations, and has produced little rugged fruit, tough but full of flavour. BB decided jelly would be more effective than jam because you don't have to be as careful with the cutting and stoning. Good call, apart from the frigging heat.

FOUR: you don't need the fancy stuff to get the good stuff.

low tech cooking equipment

I was very impressed last year when BB decided he could make jelly without fancy equipment. He nicked my typesetting stool from the shed and a goodly length of muslin and rigged up the Jam Stool. It works a treat.

low tech cooking equipment from above

A view from above. You have to leave it like this for at least overnight, if not a day or two. All the plummy / appley / quincey / [insert fruit here] goodness seeps downwards to make a lovely juice which is then transformed into jelly. Too faffy for me, but I have my own particular faffinesses, so who am I to point fingers? And it all tastes so good... a friend walked in today and exclaimed at the setup. Apparently her grandmother used to do the same thing, and made divine jellies. So there you go. Our household is devoted to reclaiming old technologies.

I was going to write something here about the work I've been doing over the last week, but I think it would make a better post by itself, so I'll stop here and start writing it up. I need to get it out of my system...


Anonymous said...

Ee ba goom that be a loverly big babby - a real thumper!

Hope that doesn't mean you had to have 12 needles, but had one of those magic shunting things that just leave one hole in your arm.

Kirsty said...

Look at that wrinkly little foot, it makes you want to smooth it out and plant a kiss in the centre.

So jealous of the jelly. Yum!

Anonymous said...

god thats impressive, i feel inadequate.

Anonymous said...

Oh noes, Duck! Someone has snuck in and changed baby for a nasty one who cries all night!

And I can affirm the excellence of living around the corner from BB with a cupboard full of his jams, chutneys and jellies and no cooking heat ;)

Carson said...

that cool jam stool is a marvel of ingenuity.
yeah..the heat, the heat.
oh gourd the heat

Anonymous said...

Great jam-making photos -- thanks!

Anonymous said...

The huge jar of red was a little disturbing coming so soon after talk of 12 vials of blood..

On the house cooling, insulation is definitley good. So is covering up the outside of windows that get full sun for hours - we've used cheap bamboo blinds - works brilliantly. And if you are going to get insulation, get the ACT govt energy check done on your house. They will recommend improvements, and give you 500.00 towards them, if you spend 2000.00 on things they recommend.

Mummy/Crit said...

I like the jelly stool. My friend with whom I am staying commented that there's no way here baby would stay away from that structure for 24 hours. That Jethro is a solid chap isn't he?

Ampersand Duck said...

I've heard about the ACT govt service, Seepi, but no-one I know has done it... so it's worth doing?

Heh, Jethro will get as fat as butter very very soon [AND WILL STOP CRYING]. And I will pinch the folds with glee.

I am curious, Dorian, as to which bit of the post made you feel inadequate...

Anonymous said...

Well it is a free service, so you can't lose really. You don't have to do anything they recommend. But if you are considering insulation, wait til you get the govt check done, cos that is one thing they are keen on. And spending 2000.00 in six months on govt approved energy things, can be hard otherwise (we had already done insulation). We got one window double glazed, the worst window got a reflector blind, a couple of other windows got blockout blinds, and we got 500.00 back - so worth it for us. Also they will advise on the best improvements for your house - they are hardcore tho - they told us to ideally get rid of some windows...

And wait til you are ready to start doing stuff before you book teh govt check. You get six months to make changes and spend your 2000 - we had amad rush at the end, due to being really disorganised, plus waiting on window people etc.

Mindy said...

Jethro is just lovely isn't he. That jelly looks fab. How lucky you are to have a clever cooking husband, even he does insist on doing in the heat of the day. Go the insulation, big difference, and if you can some of those whirly gig thingys for the roof.

Ampersand Duck said...

Thanks, Seepi! That's really valuable advice. And yes, Mindy, that's definitely on the list. I'll do anything to avoid aircon, which is one of my pet hates.

Mummy/Crit said...

Have you gone the security screen doors yet? We just did, and I reckon they are great. You can leave your doors open all night for your house to coll down without fear of people wandering in and nicking all your stuff.

Anonymous said...

Wait, what? That giant kid came out of where?

Whoa mama...

(Also, if I supply the ingredients can BB make me some chutney. Love the chutney...)

- TJ