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I have a number of reputations to uphold, among them a prodigious appetite for saturated fats. Cheesecake and doughnuts have been a staple for a large part of my life, and I can only presume that obesity and diabetes have been kept at bay only by the love of a good woman and semi-regular exercise.

A recent research trip presented my hungry eye with ‘cream choc donut[s]’, a big-city steal at $2.50 per. Seeing my longing look at it, The Lovely Wife suggested I stop being dramatic and just buy it. The thing was, I knew that just two mouthfuls of one of those triple-threats would be enough — but since a partly-eaten doughnut is anathema to any self-respecting Samoan, I would have to eat the rest of it.

I looked at her and sadly told her that those days were over lied that I was not in the mood for doughnuts. She still saw my final melancholic look at those doughnuts, but being the lovely wife that she is, she said nothing.

The last few years, the consumption of such delicacies has resulted in less of the comforting ‘good sick‘, and more of the just plain sick feeling. I suppose it was the tail end of a longer transition period* where, once-upon-a-takeaways, I could eat whatever I wanted, and nowadays I mostly/sometimes/less-often-than-I-really-should watch what I eat.

I’ve passed a gastronomical milestone in this life. It’s just a sign of age. A constant of life is change, and change is inevitable.

Time, perhaps, for a new food-oriented reputation.

* The first sign would’ve been when The Boy, then eight years old, began to out-eat me at most meals.

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Kunekune

Fortress Mamea has around three acres of paddocks. Three acres is a lot of ground area. Despite the best efforts of the cavalry element and a small flock of sheep*, the paddocks were getting overgrown with grass and weeds.

The current lot of four-legs needed help and it was decided that kunekune pigs, with their ability to live on little more than grass, fit the bill. The pigs would be a twofer solution: get the greenery under control; then time for the freezer.

I was good with this plan. I like bacon. I like the smell of it cooking. I like its texture, the taste of the pork fat that it cooked in, and its saltiness.

The porkers arrived and they were babies and they were so cute but I was strong and I wasn’t going to get attached to them because I like bacon and pork sausages and —

Then someone went and named the new arrivals Fig and Prunella.

Nell & Fig. (Photo courtesy Deborah K.)

We have pet kunekune pigs now.

* I haven’t mentioned the sheep because they’re boring. And some of them are destined for the freezer.

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Hello World

In the first eighteen months of the new Fortress Mamea, our chicken flock increased a number of times. (We can’t remember how many times; we’re softies with fuzzy memories.)

How could we say no to the girls when they got broody? They were merely heeding the call of nature. And when the fertilised eggs hatched and there were soon cheeping puffballs of fluff underfoot — how could we say no to life itself?

When some of the puffballs grew into ambitious young roosters and started beating up on Ghost Dog, ending the aspirants’ lives was an easy choice. After a couple of culls, I called a moratorium on our chickens having babies. It’s all well and good when everyone’s getting along, I could imagine my mother lecturing me, until it’s time for someone to end up in the pot.

The flock has remained at a steady twenty or so the past eighteen months. It’s required vigilance: collecting eggs every single day, turfing wannabe broodies out of the laying boxes so they don’t get ideas.

Throughout the month of December, I noticed one of our chickens behaving suspiciously. What with the festive season and everything else, her movements were noted but not closely observed.

More fool me:

Pollo and brood. (Photo: DJ Ash.)

Fifteen chicks arrived on New Year’s eve.

Brilliant. Just… brilliant.

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The Tyke

There’s been a lot of broken sleep at Fortress Mamea the past month or so. Broken sleep means there have been some arguments heated discussions over the most trivial things. Broken sleep means conversations suddenly halted as one or the other speaker racks their brain for words like ‘soup’ and ‘confectionery’. Broken sleep means a puppy undergoing toilet training.

Meet The Tyke, aged four months.

The Tyke

After The Dog’s passing, we thought that a reasonable and respectful length of time should elapse before looking for a second dog. We hadn’t counted on The Puppy, though: she took The Dog’s absence very hard, having long sleep-ins, being rather lethargic, and — most worrying — losing her appetite.

We visited the local SPCA a few times. Contenders were shortlisted. Candidates were interviewed via play, cuddling, and licking (by the interviewees, not the interviewers). We put our name down for a couple of finalists, playing the odds. We thought we’d have a month or so as we were on a waiting list, and we needed to show the SPCA inspector that we were of good character and that the property was suitable. After just one week, we  got a call to say we had a new hound to collect.

The Puppy doesn’t have a chance to sleep in now. (Nor does anyone else.) Once she’s been licked and pawed and nibbled awake by The Tyke, they play together, their yipping and (play-)growling a welcome sound to the household. And The Puppy’s appetite has definitely recovered as she soon found that the new arrival was more than happy to finish her food if she didn’t want it.

At times it’s exhausting and frustrating as we get up for the billionth time that day to shape her eventual good behaviour, and the moment she sees us and she wags her tail, whatever reprimand that was on the tip of our tongue instantly transmutes into an If you weren’t so goddamned cute… remonstration.

She has taken up the figurative and symbolic bone left by Ella. And we welcome her.

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Ella 2003–2017

Ella. Rated for 250g of Whittakers chocolate.

The Dog — actual handle Ella — was farewelled by the Mamea aiga today.

She was loved, and she loved us. There’s nothing I can write here that I haven’t already written.

May there be plenteous rolled roasts and Whittakers Peanut Butter Chocolate wherever she is now.

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Melbourne

Melbourne was fun. Hard to believe it was only a month ago that the Lovely Wife and I were across the ditch.

She had Her stuff.

Ikea, Richmond. (Photo: JP Kyle, weekendnotes.com)

I had mine.

Forges of Footscray.

Yeah, it’s been almost a decade since my last budget-blitzing-blast at Forges, so it was naïve of me to think it’d still be there, the passage of time and all.

Otherwise we saw family and friends, we bar-hopped, and tried the local fare. We do so like Melbourne.

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Wayback

Photo: www.pinchmysalt.com

Last Friday was pizza night (yes, we still have a pizza night), and I was chopping onions when Bobby Brown’s Every Little Step came on through my headphones.

I was happily chopping and singing — including each and every whoop and holler — when I realised half-way through that I knew every goddamned word of that song and it must’ve been at least twenty years since I last heard (and danced) to it.

The moral of this post? Some things can not be un-remembered.

Bonus moral? Don’t bust any dance moves whilst holding a kitchen knife.

 

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