Wednesday, July 18, 2018

MAMMA MIA! HERE I GO AGAIN! LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!




 (A bit of frivolous fun...for my enjoyment...I hope you enjoy it, too)


While I walked along Electric Avenue, via Penny Lane, Sunday Morning Was Coming Down. As I approached the Bridge Over Trouble Waters, at the Dark End of the Street, the sun had begun to peep around Blueberry Hill.  Its early morning rays sparkled on Moon River. 

It was then I got the shock of my life.

Someone wearing a Raspberry Beret called out, “Hey there, Georgy Girl! Hello!  Is It Me You’re Looking For?”  

Feeling a little Breathless, laughingly I replied, “I Ain’t Misbehavin’, but...If You Could Read My Mind....”

 “No! No! It’s okay if you were.  Me and Bobby McGee heard you were Leaving on a Jet Plane. We wanted wish you Bye Bye Baby!” 

Looking closer, I realised it was Bad Bad Leroy Brown. 

Following closely behind him were Mr. Bojangles, Daniel, Fernando, Sweet Baby James, the son of Tom Dooley, and, of all people, Louie Louie!  

I found myself suddenly surrounded by familiar, friendly faces.   

And then, I noticed Frankie and Johnny, joined by Rocket Man aka Bennie and the Jets, had approached from The Other Side.

They’d come out of Nowhere Man. 

With my mates unexpectedly arriving all at once I felt as if I was Defying Gravity, not before I’d turned a Whiter Shade of Pale, though.  The last time I’d seen them was On the Beach, Sitting On the Dock of the Bay, which Seems Like a Long Time ago. 

Come on, Eileen! Let’s Get the Party Started! I Wanna Dance with Somebody! It’s My Party! Let’s Get This Party Started!”  Mrs Robinson yelled out.    

Any earlier, she would’ve been Dancin’ in the Dark!   She’s always up for party...no excuse needed. Mrs Robinson would Party on the Moon, if that was possible!

I’d had Georgia on My Mind for the past few weeks, and to my surprise, there she was, as large as life, standing alongside Sweet Caroline, with the Bette Davis Eyes. Everybody’s Talkin’ about them.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, I guess.

 Do You Want to Know a Secret?” Sadie, the Cleaning Lady, leaned across and whispered to me.

I nodded in reply. 

Peggy Sue Got Married!”  

“Go on with you!  That’ll be the Day!”  I declared in disbelief.

“She and Cotton Eye Joe celebrated by doing the Macarena, and then they had Breakfast at Tiffany’s down along Copperhead Road!”

Oh! My Goodness!   I always thought Donna was his Dream Lover!  That’s the Way It Is, I guess!” I continued, shaking my head.

Hey, Jude!” I called out.  Hats Off to Larry! I Heard It Through the Grapevine after he was falsely accused of stealing Jessie’s Girl he told the rumourmongers to Beat It, in no uncertain terms.  

Instead of gossiping, people should Try a Little Tenderness for a change – Imagine!  I’d be Dancing in the Street, or Dancing on the Ceiling if that were to happen – or both!”

If You Go Away....how we Gonna Get Along Without You Now?” Wailed Jolene.

I was Born to Run the Hotel California, but after the Fire and Rain, followed by the Dust in the Wind it became A Pub With No Beer.  Rolling in the Deep I could do little Against the Wind After the Storm.  

As everything unfolded, it sure wasn’t a Bed of Roses. I was Livin’ On a Prayer. 

In the end, I had no choice but to Give It Up.  It was a Sign of the Times.

I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues, but, Hallelujah! I’m Still Standing With a Little Help From My Friends - That’s What Friends Are For.

How fortunate I was to have everyone present for The Last Farewell.

All of you are my Heroes”, I said, “But, Here Comes the Sun.  So I’d best be On the Road Again. It’s Hello Goodbye. This is One Moment in Time that will remain with me forever.

By the Time I Get To Phoenix I’ll be Walking on Sunshine along the Long and Winding Road surrounded by Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Like a Rolling Stone, once again I was on My Way, but I left with the Satisfaction of knowing I wasn’t Under Pressure; that the Changes about to happen in my Golden Years weren’t going to make me feel All Shook Up.  It’s Now or Never....there would be No Looking Back....

It’s time to Hit the Road, Jack...That's the Way It Is....

Mixed Berry Salad:  In a large bowl add 2c kale, broken up, 1c chopped strawberries, 1c blueberries, 1c blackberries , if available (if not, increase amount of other berries),1/4c sliced almonds and1/4c feta; toss.  Make dressing: Add 1/2c Greek yoghurt, 1/2c chopped strawberries, 1tbs milk, 3tbs sugar, and 4tsp cider vinegar to a food processor or blender; pulse until smooth. Whisk in 2tsp poppy seeds. Drizzle desired amount over salad; toss.

Berry Balsamic Grilled Cheese Sandwich: In a saucepan, on med-heat, mix 1c blueberries, 1c diced strawberries, 1-1/2ts coconut sugar/sugar, and 1tbs balsamic . Smash berries gently as you stir, letting it get to a boil. Remove berries from saucepan; place in strainer over a bowl. Use the leftover juice as a salad dressing. Take one slice of bread, of choice; spread 1 tsp butter on the side you will be frying or grilling. Place mozzarella shreds, berry mixture, spinach, more cheese, salt and/pepper on bread slice; cover with another slice; fry or grill on both sides until golden.

Blueberry Cake: Preheat oven 175C. Lightly butter an 8 or 9-inch spring-form pan; dust with flour. Or use an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan, butter and dust with flour and line bottom with baking paper. Vigorously whisk together 1c plain flour with 1ts baking powder,1/2tsp salt, and 1/8th tsp cinnamon; set aside. Beat 1/2c unsalted butter for 2mins; add 3/4c sugar; beat until light and fluffy; stir in 1/4tsp vanilla. Add 2 large eggs, 1 at a time; beat until well blended. Stir in 1tsp lemon zest. Reduce speed to low; slowly add the flour, beating until smooth. Pour into prepared cake pan.  Toss 2c blueberries, rinsed and drained in flour and 1tsp lemon juice; spoon the berry mixture over the batter. Bake on middle rack, 50-55mins.  Remove from oven; cool in pan, 10mins. Remove from pan; dust with icing sugar to serve.

Blueberry Beet Juice: Blend together ½ large, peeled, raw beetroot, 4 med-carrots, 2 med-Granny Smith apples and 1/2c blueberries. 


Monday, July 09, 2018

ANOTHER ISLAND TALE....

The resort pool...me and a staff member...and me again
Cape Richards, Hinchinbrook Island, looking down upon Orchid Beach
Aerial view of Orchid Beach and Cape Richards to the right


Below is a happy tale of uplifting moments during my life on Hinchinbrook Island.  Forgive me (or not) if I’ve told this story before.

Air Whitsundays’ Grumman Mallard flew guests to the island, departing from Townsville airport and landing in the waters off to the left of the island jetty.

More often than not, the guests alighted from the door at the rear of the aircraft, wide-eyed.  Always there to greet them was a couple of my staff members and me.

One or two of us protected the resort’s motored punt from the Mallard’s fuselage, as we assisted the new arrivals (and their luggage) from the seaplane onto the punt. Depending on the seas on any given day, the chore could, at times, be quite an effort.

The Grumman Mallard was an amphibian aircraft – meaning it could take off and land on both land and water - a flying boat with wheels. It was a cumbersome old aircraft, but so very beautiful, with an interesting history attached. 

The Grumman Mallard was first produced in 1946.  Only 59 were built. It was rumoured this particular aircraft was once owned by the Aga Khan. 

As mentioned in previous posts, I loved flying in the old girl.

***The punt, in reality, belonged to AIMS.... The Australian Institute of Marine Science... Australia’s tropical marine research agency. The headquarters are based at Cape Ferguson, about 50km from Townsville.  It’s an international landmark in tropical marine science, adjacent to the centre of the Great Barrier Reef, and surrounded by a 207 hectare national park and marine reserve.  Because we allowed AIMS to moor their punt at the resort’s jetty, AIMS allowed us use of the punt....quid pro quo...

Upon landing on the ocean, water leaked...dripped...through the top of the plane into the cabin. This, of course, caused a certain amount of consternation to the passengers.   
It was of no concern.  It was never going to sink.

One story we often told the guests after they’d settled in to the island way of life, while they enjoyed a drink around the bar, was about an elderly lady who boarded the Grumman Mallard at Townsville airport, only to land on the waters off Hinchinbrook. No one had thought to explain to her this would happen. On the verge of a heart attack or nervous break-down, or both, she downed a bottle of Scotch before being taken to her cabin!

One sunny day, a new group of eager, albeit stressed, guests arrived.

Among them was a reserved, shy, bearded young man of around 36 years of age.

Standing apart, he placed himself at the outer rim of the guests circling the bar the first evening, preferring to watch, listen and appreciate, but not partake in the merriment.

On the second evening of his stay, prior to dinner, I joined him at the end of the bar, subtly and gently coaxing him to converse. His speech was slightly impaired. Quietly, he and I, uninterrupted by others, spoke at length.

After a while, he relaxed.  Richard was his name. 

Richard told me about the past eighteen months of his life.

He had suffered a stroke.

The stroke was the reason he grew his beard.  He used it as a disguise to cover the disfigurement to one side of his face.

Richard was a lawyer, visiting the resort on Hinchinbrook Island, from Sydney, New South Wales.

He described to me the shock he’d felt from having suffered a stroke at such a young age.   
Richard told me he found the hardest part to cope with after his stroke was looking in the mirror and not recognizing the person staring back at him.  He had to learn how to speak and eat again.

For some time after the stroke it was necessary for him to use a straw to drink, and to eat.  His food had to be pureed, turning his meals into soup, because he couldn’t chew food.

His holiday to the island was his form of therapy to get his life back on track.

His reticence in joining the other guests was from his lack of confidence in himself and his appearance.

I assured Richard there was little wrong with his speech - that he was easily understood. It was only when he drew attention to it did others really notice any impairment. 

I also assured him, what he called his ‘disfigurement’, was hardly discernible; and that anyone who was worth their salt wouldn’t care, anyway.  If anyone did care, then they were not worthy of the generosity of his company and time.   One side of his face...around the corner of his mouth drooped a little.  His beard hid that part of his face.

That night I was to dine with some of the guests.  I insisted Richard join us. I told him I would make it worth his while, by coercing and tempting him with a bottle or two of Henschke’s “Hill of Grace”.   It worked!

Those of you who know your Australian red wines will know that “Hill of Grace” is almost on par to Penfolds Grange Hermitage.  In those days on the island I always kept a case of “Hill of Grace” ‘out the back’ for special guests and moments. I believed this was one of those moments.  Richard was a special guest.  He was a special fellow.

Things happened spontaneously at the resort.   Spontaneous is always best, in my opinion.

On the Sunday night of Richard’s holiday, everyone was in a very happy, partying mood. A celebration broke out amongst the guests and the staff.

I raced over to my little house at the base of Cape Richards, to collect more cassettes to add to those in the restaurant's stock.

Everyone was laughing, talking and dancing together.

Again, Richard hovered around the outskirts of the group.  Taking a couple of my staff aside, I asked them to go to the laundry room taking the guests with them.  Their orders for the evening were to have the guests dress in togas created from the seldom used, older, floral bed sheets.

Without hesitation, or further prompting, with bubbling hilarity, the guests followed my staff’s lead.

Soon, they all reappeared.  In no time at all a ‘toga party’ was under way.

I grabbed a spare sheet, threw it at Richard, who had no other choice than to wrap it around his body, over the clothes he was wearing.

Ignoring his protests, I clutched his arm and dragged him over to the rest of the dancing party. His protests were quickly drowned out by the singing, dancing, laughing group of people.

Before too long, he forgot his reserve, his shyness and any affliction he ‘thought’ he had.

The other guests took him under their wings. Tossing his inhibitions aside, he ended up high-kicking higher than the rest of them!

Someone led the merry group out onto the deck surrounding the swimming pool.   Of course, soon thereafter everyone was in the pool.

It was a wonderful, happy, unexpected harmless evening, one that re-affirmed the greatness of people; the generosity of their spirit.  It was an evening that restored the joy of life to one young man.

The day arrived for Richard’s departure. He had spent seven days and nights on the island. His looming departure was an emotional time. My staff, other guests and I were sad to see him leave, but happy knowing we had made a difference.

Bidding him farewell at the end of the jetty as he boarded the punt, tears filled my eyes, and flooded, unashamedly, down my cheeks.

Richard asked if he could take a photograph of me.

I replied, “Sure…as long as I can take one of you!”

Simultaneously, we took one of each other - taking one of each other! 

The photograph remains among my cherished Hinchinbrook Island memorabilia.

About two weeks after Richard’s return to Sydney and the “real world”, I received a letter from him. 

In it he expressed how he felt renewed and rejuvenated in a way that no amount of professional therapy could have made him feel.  He wrote he was now ready to face life with confidence. Richard thanked my staff and me on for helping him. Without us, he said, he would still be battling the demons that had been hounding him since the stroke.

Tears again fell freely as I read his letter, but I felt proud, not only for what he felt we had done, but at having the opportunity of knowing Richard.  His presence had had a positive affect on us, too.   

Meeting him and having spent the time with him was one of my life’s bonuses.

I often wonder how his life progressed after his holiday on the island.  I wish him well, wherever he may be.  I hope whatever path he chose to trod, it led him to happiness, love and peace.

***  I have no idea why this section insists on being a larger font...I've tried a million times (slight exaggeration) to make it consistent with the rest of the text...but to no avail....)