Thursday, March 29, 2007


Last Friday I started getting to know the group here at Purdue that is Inspire, the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning. On Monday was the full day of advisory board meetings which I attended so I could learn about Inspire. Now I have actual work to do for them. At the moment, of course, it is voluntary because I don't have a work permit yet. I have applied for one, but it could take up to 3 months to come back. Then, they want to offer me a post-doc position. That would be fabulous. Of course I would be happy just to do it, but I won't turn any offers down. At the moment I am working from home as it is qualitative data analysis. That is, words, not numbers, so it is new for me. I just have to think of the words as numbers. I should be right! Anyway, I have a very experienced qualitative analyst living here too, so I can always ask!

Doing this over the last few days has meant that I have not had much time for cats. I did try on Tuesday to find my way there by bus, but when I got into the central bus stop in Lafayette I could not find the right bus. The sign said that the number 6 buses stopped outside the depot centre on 2nd street. As I was on second street I tried to find the depot centre. Of course I couldn't and went back to the bus stop where I saw a 6B leave. I wanted the 6A. Then every other bus in existence turned up, but no 6A. So I got back on the 1B and went home. It was a big waste of time. At home I looked on the web and found that in the middle of the day, for about 3 hours, the 6A is only hourly. Every other bus is half hourly. Now I also suppose that it does stop at the central stop on 2nd street and that the sign is meant to confuse. I will have to try the journey again some time. At least I got to buy tokens, like a 10 trip pass, so each trip only costs 75 cents, not a dollar. When I get put onto the Purdue staff, (also students) I will get to travel for free. We are due to have the Prius again on Easter Saturday for a week or so.

Easter is only in one and a half weeks. Did you know that here, Good Friday is not a public holiday? It is supposed to be something to do with separation of religion and state. Of course then, Easter Monday is not a holiday either. In fact, most of the department is going to Chicago late Sunday to have workshops starting Monday. Llew is going up Tuesday and coming back Wednesday. Everyone has different days, so they are trying to work out car pooling. Meanwhile, while they are there, Jo arrives. He is actually in Chicago Monday night and will come down sometime. We have to work that out too. It's all a bit chaotic. I will just be staying here and working away!

Last night we went to dinner with a few people from the department at a restaurant called McGraw's. It is on the Wabash and it was flowing really fast. Downstream from there there is massive flooding. In Lafayette, the flood level for the Wabash is 11 feet and last Saturday it rose to 17 feet, but only the golf course and 1 road went under. I have never seen so much water moving so quickly. The funniest thing was, that while we were sitting there, three 8 person kayaks went past - upstream! Aaah. We are getting some bouncing round weather. It got warm and sunny for a while with 3 days over 80F but yesterday was rainy and after dinner it was 50F and windy. That felt cold again even though we have just come out of a few weeks at around 30F! We are just Queenslanders obviously craving warm weather and sunshine. We will just have to get ourselves out and about this weekend!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Making sausages (and other food)

After the delivery of the kitchenaid grinder and the stuffer during the week, it was time to make sausages. It is not really a process for the squeamish. It took a lot of time and effort, but the result means that I would recommend to everyone to make your own sausages. Robin came to help and join in the fun. We did the sausages, and a few other things for a party last night at a colleague's house.

Llew got some pork shoulder and cut it up into 2cm chunks. Then it got pushed though the grinder. This was the easy bit and it ground up really well, but not mushy.

Llew actually put it through twice, the second time adding the spices (which he had toasted and ground himself).

Then it was time to put some of the mixture in the stuffer. I had the wonderful job of untangling and rinsing the sausage cases. 8 pieces totalling 50 feet. And this was the real stuff if you know what I mean, nothing human made.

So once the meat was in and the case was on and tied, it was pushing time!

This is what comes out the other end. Innuendos? What innuendos?

The stuffer was really hard to push. Probably because it goes from a diameter of 80mm down to 15mm quite steeply. We ended up putting it on a chair to get better leverage. Llew and Robin took turns while I supervised the other end. It came out nice and evenly and the casings worked well. They never tore or got a hole in them.

After about an hour, it was all done. This is the first completed one. We did 5 lengths all up. Llew then pricked and poached them and then dry fried them in a pan.

Unfortunately, by this stage we were running late and we were being picked up for the party and so didn't get a photo of the completed product. To look at you wouldn't know they were home-made. To taste you would. They were wonderful and all got eaten.

The other food that we made were puff rolls with home-made sun dried tomato paste and refried bean and smoked jalepino paste. They were a hit and all went.

Also a pavlova (of course using the kitchenaid). It mixed perfectly and was nice and stiff, but unfortunately again, we were running late so couldn't let it cool properly so it collapsed a bit. We also did not get a photo, but someone had to lick the beater and the bowl!!!

At the party, Llew covered it with cream (pre-whipped in the kitchenaid) and strawberries, banana, and kiwifruit. It was a huge hit too and nearly all went. People were a bit full. Remember that everyone brought a dish, so there was miles of food.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Taking Lugh for a walk

As I said, yesterday was a lovely day, so Robin, Llew and I took Lugh (the dog) for a walk around her neighbourhood.

Firstly leaving the driveway - so exciting!

Run, run, run.

In and out, up and down.

Good boy stops at roads.

Oo, what's up there?

I'm a good boy!

We also noticed a few more signs of spring.

The story of the BBQ (grill)

Firstly it was ordered over the internet from Florida as it was 33% off. Then the website would not accept an Australian billing address for our Australian visa card and of course the bank won't accept anything else. So I had a long phone conversation with the company to sort that out. They said they would email within 24 hours to confirm the order.

Two days later I hadn't heard, so I phoned again. They had the order, but had to phone back. An hour later they phoned back and had to take all my details again.

The next day I got an email from UPS (courier) that they had a 140 pound shipment in the system for us. We knew that would have to be the BBQ. We tracked it for 5 days through UPS which has a great scanning system so you can see it at every terminal on its way. We then saw that it was out for delivery at 7am Tuesday morning. At 11am there was an email from the BBQ company that the order had been shipped by them. The email was dated 5 days before!

So finally, we had the 64kg package that made the poor UPS guy ask, "What did you order?"

While I was out at the humane society, Llew started putting it together.

The beasty out of its box.

The legs together.

Um, how does this work?

Getting there...

Ta da!

After a final bolt tighten, we got it out of the living room to where it belongs.

I went and bought all the accessories and fuel and now it is ready for use.

Now we just need some more weather like yesterday. It was 76F (24.4C) and sunny. Today was rainy, windy and only 63F. We needed a jacket and the ground was mushy: not BBQing weather. Llew wants to make sausages on Saturday. We'll let you know how that goes.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cats & Dogs

Today I joined the volunteer group at the Tippecanoe County Humane Society (soon to change its name) and did the orientation. This means that at any time I want, I can go there and help out. At the moment they have about 40 cats. To answer Mum's question, I will be feeding, cleaning, and playing with them, not adopting any. There may, however, be a chance to foster a kitten in the upcoming months. Apparently spring is big for kittens! All the cats they have at the moment are adults, but are still so cute. I just want to cuddle them all! I have been missing Peanuts a bit, but I think this will help a lot. I just need a cat (or many) in my life. They also have dogs, but I think I'll do cats unless they need help for the dogs. They also have a few hamsters and 1 rabbit at the moment. The abandoned rabbit population kind of explodes after Easter, however, so I might need to help there. That's OK with me; rabbits and hamsters and mice are cute too. I just can't take them into the cat room and play with them with balls and things and give them cuddles. This is going to be so much fun! I'll let you know how it goes.

(By the way, it is a 100% adoption society, so no euthenasing which makes me even happier.)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Llew's new laptop

Llew finally got his new laptop today. Only 2 weeks after it was ordered! Those of you at university may have an incling as to why! He has nearly finished tweaking it to his liking. It is huge. It is 17 inches widescreen. That is enormous. It is not really heavy though, as they have gotten good at making things light. My little darling looks really strange next to it!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Paddy's Day

Yesterday was St Patrick's Day. We went to Shawn's place for dinner and games. Shawn is Robin's grad student. Robin was there, along with 3 other of Shawn's friends. It was a pot luck dinner, so Llew made Guinness pie, Shawn made lasagne, there were home made dumplings, apple pie and Robin brought beer. After eating we played Fluxx. If you have never heard of this game, you can get it in Brisbane and I would recommend it. It is more fun after a few beers. Then we played Clue, the delux version and it took forever. We left at midnight, jolly with beer, food and fun.

It was good to get out with people. I have been a little closed off here, with only going to the shops. I have things lined up, but they start next week. I will be volunteering for the Tippecanoe Humane Society starting Tuesday, talking to a Purdue person about K-12 on Monday, and applying for a work permit this week. That can take up to 3 months, but the international support office at Purdue will help me because I am a dependent of an international staff member. Hopefully then I can do something. It is also a little cold to do natury things like walks in the woods, or even step outside, so I will get into that eventually. All the festivals start in mid-April, so that may help with the out and abouts. I guess it's just that we don't have many friends here and everything is so different. Those of you from YFU would say that we are going through culture shock. Absolutely. At least we recognise it.

The town is actually starting to feel like our home town. We are familiar with all the streets, shops and places of interest. We know how to get everywhere without a map, and we know where the good eats places are. It is a very small town remember, and a college town, so lots of fast food and malls. A few good places. Our apartment, on the other hand, doesn't really feel like home. There isn't really anything here from home. It still feels more like a motel. I guess as we accumulate things that will change.

Anyway, will keep this updated and as spring comes around it should keep being interesting.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

New toy in use

Llew has now put his new Kitchenaid to use. This is the first ingredient to go in.
Once a height adjustment was made, it mixed really well. Here is the mixtrue after processing.
And here is the end result. Banana and coconut muffins. Really light and fluffy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Christmas came early today!

Well christmas came early today when I received something I have wanted for years, a new Kitchenaid Mixer! We bought it online and saved about $200 off the US price, and about $500 off the Australian price.

See it's a kitchenaid.

Opening the present.

Here it is fully set up. It's the profesisonal 6 Quart 525 Watt stand mixer. Fun times ahead!

Now i'm just waiting on my combination grill / smoker. Stay tuned for recipes and to see what I make.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Another day, another blog and meal

We ran around today trying to find a few last items for the kitchen and apartment. I think we have everything now. I even got a new pair of pants after I painted the last ones. Llew brought the laptop home and did some work from home.

Me blogging:

Llew also cooked a chicken and we had Thai inspired food for dinner (and beer).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Indy Trip

Today Llew, Robin and I went on a road trip to Indianapolis (Indy). I drove the Prius and it was a good drive. After about an hour we got into the city and found the visitors' centre.

This is the view from the visitors' centre which is on the river and looking back at the city centre. Most of the centre was drinking establishments, large eateries for post football gatherings and clothes and shoe stores. Quite a nice place, but couldn't spend a lot of time there just wandering around.

In the centre is a monument to the war with Mexico?? and a roundabout. Then the roads are radial from there and there are 4 quadrants. We stopped at a shopping centre and looked quickly through. Since we did not want clothes or shoes, we left or the outer, larger stores.

This is one of the Indy natives. Obviously a sports star.
Here is a native musician.
And here is a native endlessly wandering the streets. Yes, it is computerised and she endlessly walks. There is a man on the opposite corner. Maybe they are forever trying to meet each other?
Now her we are playing with some of the native wildlife.
Cute kitty!
Go foxy!
Relaxed chick!
There is a canal through the city that ends out by the river. It is a walking/jogging/cycling/rollerblading route, but it is about 5 metres wide and surrounded by concrete, so we could not work out the attraction.
Afterwards we went to an outer, wealthy suburb that had a whole streen of shops all looking the same and purpose disigned and built. It was weird, but there was a hippy, organic food store that we had to stop at and get a few ingredients. On the way back we stopped at Trader Joe's which was a store Robin loved. Unique, fun and friendly and some good things there, especially cheese. So we will definitely have to go back there.
After a long day, Llew cooked home made gnocchi with a gorgonzola, bacon and cream sauce and it was wonderful with a couple of bottles of wine. Some interesting work discussion ensued (between Llew and Robin) so I am blogging. He he. We went to daylight savings last night, so it is not feeling as late as it is which is bad, and we need to go to bed to function tomorrow!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Busy Saturday

Well, we have had a busy few days!
Earlier in the week:

Llew cooks one of his firs meals in our new kitchen. Pizza.

The Toyota Prius we have been driving around. Belongs to another lecturer at Purdue who is only here half the time and lives in our apartment block. We just fell into that one.

Saturday (today, one busy day).

Firstly we notic spring has sprung in Robin's garden despite the residual presence of snow!

Spring has also sprung for her indoor plants. A little window sill sun is good.

Secondly we helped Robin hang a light. Yes, that chain is for a light.

Thirdly we helped her redecorate. After spending 2 weeks in her house, it was the least we could do as repayment. Put me anywhere with a paintbrush and I am usually happy!

As for a roller, I just got paint everywhere, but it was great fun.

Meanwhile, Robin painted her bedroom,

and Llew painted decorative things for Robin's bedroom. Very artistic.

Lastly we went to a second hand shop. Well, it was more of a huge junk warehouse, but there were some fantastic things in there. If we had a loft space or a huge house, they would be cool. Quirky, but cool, like a full behind the bar wall unit, about 20 metres long and 4 metres high. One funny thing we did find was a real street sign for Main St which is now in our loungeroom. Main St USA. How defining! Yes, there is a Main St in Lafayette, and it is apparently surplus stock from that.

Now we are tired and going to bed. Another big day tomorrow.