He now has more time to think abstractly and write blogs.
I grew up in Oceana in a relatively poor family with no radio, bathroom and an outside toilet. A toilet, that when the bucket was full, was emptied into a hole dug specifically for that purpose. As soon as we were old enough, old enough to dig, this became one of my chores. We all lived in a small country cottage, a bed for the parents, a smaller bed for the kids; a large enough yard to play cricket and kick a football – all you could ever need as a small boy growing up in the country. Continue reading “Introductory Regime”→
Just after the communists were driven out of Ethiopia, the organisation we were connected to preferred us not to travel at night. We were seconded to a government hospital in Soddo. There was still a fair bit of shifta (bandit) activity. We had planned to leave earlier than we did, but I was held up at work. Our planned trip was about 400 km. It was almost getting dark when we filled up the main tank with diesel in a town about 150 km from our departure spot. We were using the reserve tank and didn’t switch back onto the freshly filled main tank until we arrived at the next main town a further 100 km along the way.
Within about ten kilometres, having spluttered for a while, the engine stopped altogether, My wife and I, with the 3 Ethiopian teenagers who were living with us, were stranded just outside a prison farm in the dark. A place which we had heard was not well secured.
What should we do? There was a mission station back in the town we had just passed with people we had met. We could not contact them as in those days no such things as mobile phones existed. So my wife and the oldest teenager stayed with the car and the younger two and I set out to walk back for help. I guess we were a bit scared, it was dark and I had seen at the hospital what bandits could do. I can’t remember what we talked about until the youngest explosively let off a prolonged emission from his nether end. He was embarrassed but so what! It got us talking about what sounds were common to all mankind. We could in the languages we knew between us, apart from belches and fluffs, only think of ‘amen’ and ‘hallelujah’.
By the time this enlightening conversation was over we arrived back at the last town, and were able to get help. Our acquaintance at the mission got some tools and 20 litres of diesel and a tow rope. I went to the local motel and found out how much it would cost to stay overnight.
With the mission guy’s help, having been towed back to the mission station, we discovered that the diesel we had bought previously was about 80% water. This was drained out, his diesel put into the tank, we were profuse in our thanks then went to the local fuel place and filled up. By now it was getting late, so I went back to the ‘motel’. But the manager had heard about us and, realising that my wife and I were white, doubled the price for all of us even though 3 were Ethiopians.
I decided we’d take our chances of bandits on the road rather than be robbed by this guy. So off we went for the last 150 km. No more robbers, and we arrived at about midnight. We hadn’t been able to contact them but the place we were to stay (friends) having been worried about us were glad to see us arrive.
I’ve been remiss lately hardly even opening up my blogs. And I want to say why.
There has been the pressure of meeting the deadlines for publishing my two ebooks. At last they are in the publishers’ hands and due to open for sales in the next few days. They are published through Smashwords.com. They are – ‘Have Scalpel will Travel – memoirs of an older surgeon – revised and updated’ & ‘Medical Diagnostics a Surgical Approach’. The second is definitely medical with pictures.
Then we are not quite prepared for our pregnant ewes to lamb and have a shed and yards to complete in the next few days.
There was a granddaughter’s wedding to attend about 1,500 km away. We drove but whereas once we could do it in a long day it now takes three days. So we were away a week.
We got a broken car window and with all the bits they add into the glass these days it meant a wait of several weeks for the correct glass to be found and a second trip to have the bits tuned up. Now it is much better than looking through cracks!
Then in the last couple of weeks I’ve had a preaching appointment on zoom to India and Ethiopia, another at a church whose minister has just resigned and this weekend in our own church. Our church has a new man arriving in January, we having been without a Minister for a while.
The house restoration is looking good, but the place needs painting! So all I can say is please forgive my tardiness!
Some of you older ones will remember the coupons which allowed your family to buy food during and after World War II. I was still pretty young (5) when the war ended so I don’t remember all the details but if you had a slice of bread it often had fat (lard) from the cooking plus some salt and pepper; you could have butter or jam but not both on your bread; special desert was a jam tart which you were allowed to help your mother cook.
(If you note a lot of spelling mistakes it is because my dog is insisting on putting her paws on my shoulder and licking my ear!)
Back to cooking. I remember when we got a coupon allowing us to get some rice – for instance. Basically we ate a very plain meat, potatoes and vegetable diet with very occasional desert. Somehow at Christmas they seemed to go overboard with lots of lonely old people from around the district and a plethora of delicious food.
Then as a medical student I went into National Service. We weren’t allowed to join the medical corps and I was a cook. So I can tell you that maggots float to the top when meat is boiled and scooped off and there is still good meat to serve the troops – while you (the cook) opened a tin of preserved fruit for yourself. It was good training as my wife doesn’t like cooking much.
So then I went to India where the food was so spicy I wondered why they didn’t just serve up the coals. I got used to it but I remember going to a wedding where the food was so spicy that hardly anyone ate much. I asked why for a wedding it was made so spicy and was told that it allowed them to invite lots of guests. I lost about 20 kilos in my 6 month stay in India.
On arriving in Ethiopia they use different spices. In India spices were hot in the mouth; in Ethiopia they were hot both ends – entering and leaving. Graciously the people who knew us toned it down for we foreigners. But it did give me a taste for more than what we had as kids.
Coming up to date, I want to give you a marinade sauce recipe. I sold some land to a neighbour who still owes me money (they are very faithful in their payments) but who kill their own pigs and cattle and sheep. They send us gifts sometimes. We are very thankful for it but it really isn’t quite as tender as you buy in the shop – but as a gift much cheaper!
So I’ll share with you my mixture to make it more tender and which still reminds me of some of my Indio-Ethiopian past. I know you’re supposed to measure everything exactly but I excuse myself by saying I do it to taste. So what you’re getting is approximate.
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of English mustard powder.
about 3/4 cup of tomato paste
2 overflowing tablespoons of honey or brown sugar
2-3 dessert spoons of Worcestershire sauce
2-3 dessert spoons of ABC thich sweet soy sauce
3 teaspoons of hot spicy SRIRACHA hot spicy chili sauce
salt and pepper to taste.
I mix it all up and if the meat is suitable (eg chops) marinate in the fridge for some hours. Then cook the meat in it. If I think the meat is going to be very tough I use a slow cooker and boil up my mixture separately and use it as a gravy/sauce.
None of us have died; one likes me to limit the tomato paste a bit, but they keep coming back for it!
You might like it spicier, then add some ground chilli – which I tend to do if we have Ethiopian visitors.
It may be almost illegal these days to say that about a husband-wife relationship! Particularly if you are the male speaking! There I go, being provocative again. But I’m not talking about a person but about a load of work.
Some years ago I self published a book – a sort of autobiography come medical journey of mine. It sold out and is 10 years out of date at any rate. Then a few years ago I wrote a book, probably better called a booklet, for my students as they began their clinical surgical courses. It was relevant to their situation with lack of facilities and language difficulties. Their ability to read thick tomes was limited, so I tried to put the very relevant stuff in a compressed form. As I meet a new era of Western students sold on investigations, before physical examinations, I’m convinced that it may be of use to them also.
I’m pretty dumb, computer wise, but my eldest son, who lives on our farm and runs it and who runs me is a wizard. He wants to reproduce them and also shortly after them another pictorial cum anecdotal short book of our lives. So at the moment the thumb of pressure to get it done on time is hard on me! Publication date for the first two is set for November 27. Between now and then we have a granddaughter’s wedding to attend about 1,500Km away, and a sheep shed to get built, so the pressure is on, the thumb is pressing down.
My first book was called ‘Have Scalpel – Will Travel’, and the new edition will have the same name but with ‘Revised and Updated’ added. The other will be ‘Medical Diagnosis – a Surgical Approach.’ I’m slowly labouring through the third one – as yet unnamed.
The introduction to the first book was and will remain as follows: –
They cut off the tip of his ear. Yes he was a thief and this was the custom. He was naked and caught stealing clothes left out by the river to dry. He could see no-one but they saw him! He was tightly bound with his hands behind his back and taken to court. Eventually he was brought to the hospital. One arm was already gangrenous. It had to be amputated. The other – the nerve supply had been cut off by the pressure of the binding and the arm was paralysed, probably forever.
How did he feed himself? How? He had his food put on the cupboard by the bed – but there was no one to feed him. He had to feed himself. So he got up like a dog on his knees and elbows. He ate like a dog. My heart was touched and so each day I stayed back at lunch time and fed him myself. What became of him? I don’t know. But to God he is a person – to the others he was just a thief.
One night I sat in the common room of Addis Ababa HQ of SIM – the mission with which I was associated. I had just come up from Soddo on business and had left behind this one who deeply disturbed me. People were singing that beautiful old hymn ‘Peace, perfect peace when all around….’ Yet I was not totally at peace. Sitting in that common room I was not totally at peace. Was I doing all that could and should be done in these circumstances? Certainly the future my young thief saw ahead had no pension, no physiotherapy, and no social support.
Is fear good or bad? It’s a bit like the question is pain good or bed. In the matter of pain the answer is a simple one – it is both; bad because it hurts, good because it indicates something needs to be looked into or done about it. It is wise to fear some things.
My wife has a fear/phobia for rats or mice. Snakes she can tolerate and in her childhood has eaten snake meat, which she reassures me tastes quite nice – a bit like chicken. I have not asked her to prepare it for me even though we see them quite often around our place. Sometimes they even seem to come by post.
However, she hates rats. But what is in a name? She was in the paddock the other day and discovered a delightful little critter. It didn’t run away, nor did she. She thought it was a poteroo, (like a small wallaby) but strangely it didn’t run away and she stood and took a picture of it. No fear at all.
Naturally she came home and shared the experience with us. It is not a poteroo but a rat! A Rufous rat kangaroo. Hereafter she may prefer to call it a Bettong, but really what is in a name? Maybe, just maybe, the word rat won’t terrify her any more.
On the other hand the husband of the family living here some years ago, built a lovely tree house for his children to play in. It still stands solid and useable maybe 50 metres outside the home area fence. The children were allowed to play in it once, before the wife knew that it had been built. It was never used again because of the wife’s phobia of snakes!