Tuesday, August 15, 2017

ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR BOAT GENTLY UP THE STREAM...




Since early July, I don’t need a boat, a canoe or paddle when I go streaming - not when I have Stan as my guide and my Netflix bag of tricks.   

I don’t need a waterway, in any way or course, of course.

Bingeing can be very enjoyable.  It is very enjoyable – no “can” or canoe about it!

My two furry mates and I are addicted to series worth bingeing upon. 

Remy and Shama keep nagging at me.  Both reckon they could easily find Nemo and Dory, if I’d only let them. We have an ongoing battle over who has control over the control.  (It’s one of the few battles I manage to win - so far)!

They’ve given me their miaowed promise if Tweety Pie appears they’ll just watch him, not eat him.   

Their explanation is valid because every afternoon, through the screen door, they calmly watch the birds, only inches away, out on the patio as said native birds eat the meat I toss out for them.  

This is a daily afternoon ritual...for me, the birds, Remy and Shama...each feeling safe and secure in one's own skin, feathers and fur.

Furthermore, Remy and Shama are indoor cats, so preying on prey is not part of their daily, or nightly, activities.  Anyway, why would they want to go in search of food when they're fed chopped,fresh meat for dinner each night; prepared seafood of a variety of sorts for breakfast each day, and always a bowl of dried "munchies" at the ready for them to snack on when the mood for food to snack upon takes hold.

Both my cats are eager to watch “The Adventures of Puss in Boots”, so much so they’ve been eyeing off my shoe cupboard, to the point of trying the contents on for size.   

Nothing is sacred in this household.  I have no say.  

They refuse to watch “Paw Patrol” because it’s full of puppies, not kitties.  They spit and hiss when “Hey Duggee” appears on the screen, howling, “Where’s Hey Pussie?” 

 “Buddy Thunderstruck” has also struck a raw nerve with them. 

While wringing their paws they wail, exclaiming it’s a dog’s world, demanding Sylvester or Felix (or both) makes an appearance...and soon! 

As mentioned above, at this point in time, I’m still the one who holds the power...the remote control is mine, and mine alone to operate!

Once I got with the flow, I overdosed on “Suits”, catching up on the last three seasons (I began again from Season One), after having sulked for the past couple of years because it was taken off free-to-air TV. Obviously, it didn’t suit their budget, or was at the dry cleaners.   

I’d sorely missed the shenanigans of Harvey and Mike, and had become so wretched I even missed quirky Louis Litt, too.   What a terrific character he is, and one expertly played by the actor, Rick Hoffman.  Hoffman has the role down to a "tee".

More so, fearing she might need some right royal dating advice from me I needed to know what Harry’s girl, Meghan, had been up to during my absence from the office. 

We'd become so distraught in this household no amount of popcorn or Whiskas was going to fix the problems caused by our withdrawals over “Suits”. 

That’s where “Ray Donovan”, being the fixer that he is, should have stepped in to sort it out, but no, the fixing was left up to me, per usual. I had to call on Stan and his mate Netflix to be the fixers. 

As far as the gene pool is concerned those in “Bloodline” plunged into the deep end, no goggles, flippers or air tanks required - undeniable proof that "you can choose your friends, but not your family" . 

“Peaky Blinders” couldn’t even keep the "Bloodline" family afloat.  No matter how fast and hard they paddle, sadly, they’ll never re-surface after what they went through in three drama-filled seasons.  It probably would be safer for them if they remain under water, anyway; but, then again, one never knows what’s lurking beneath the surface.  I dare not look under my bed for fear of what I might discover. 

While bingeing on the brilliant “Billions”, which stars Damian Lewis of “Homeland” and “The Forsyte Saga” fame (he gets around that fellow), I binged on grapes, strawberries, mandarins and raw nuts.  Now I’m chewing on my nails impatiently waiting for the next season to begin.  

I’ve stepped carefully into the “House of Cards”, hoping not to cause it to come crashing down.  I’ve only a couple of episodes to go, and, no doubt, I will suffer, once again, withdrawal symptoms, when I come to an end of this particular binge.

I’ll let it slip I became involved with Stan in “The Affair”.  No! Not an affair, silly – the TV series!  I thoroughly enjoyed “The Affair”...who wouldn’t?  Dominic West is enough of an enticement for any red-blooded girl!  I'm eagerly awaiting our next tryst.  However, I’m not sure when “The Affair” is due to commence again. I’ll be ready for it when it does.

And, just for the hell of it, because I can and because I want to, I’m bingeing on “Mad Men” all over again - Round Two.  I have seen all episodes in every season, but being a dedicated follower I just had to have another dose of Don Draper and his mates.  For me it’s mandatory I get involved with all the mad men once again.

There are many interesting characters waiting on the dock; more stories needing my undivided attention.  I might be up the stream without a paddle or canoe, but, I’m not concerned.  I don't need either.  Tossing cares aside, I’ll float and go with the flow; go where the stream takes me.  

I might be "Crossing Lines" , but I feel it's "Justified".  I really don''t have to justify my habits to anyone...only to me and my two roomies.  

Furthermore, we've placed a bookmark against "Ozark"...and are looking forward to the second season.

As long as I’ve ample supplies of raw mixed nuts and fresh fruit (and Whiska, for my two furry rascals), all will be well. 

My oranges never turn black - and Ray Donovan and Co., are far more entertaining than “Yummy Mummies”, and all the other similar “reality” brain-numbing rot that's taken over free-to-air TV!

Corn-Pumpkin Chowder: Finely dice 1 med onion; chop 3 carrots, 1 sweet potato and 1-1/2kg peeled pumpkin into bite-sized pieces. Heat pot on med-high heat; add 1tbs olive oil; sauté onions; add carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, 500ml passata (optional) and 4c chick/veg stock. Bring to boil; reduce heat to med-low; simmer 15mins, uncovered. Add 125g cream cheese, 1 can chickpeas, drained, 2c frozen corn; season.  Increase heat to high; boil 5-10 mins.

Mandarin Chicken: Place 8 chicken thighs, skin on, in bowl. Cut 4 mandarins in half; squeeze the juice and juice of 1/2 lemon over thighs.  Add 2tbs soy sauce and 1 large chopped onion; add mandarin and lemon skins. Cover; marinade 2-3hrs. Remove thighs from marinade; pat dry. Melt 2tbs butter and 3tbs olive oil in pan; brown chicken; remove to plate. Add 3 mashed garlic cloves and marinated onion; sauté until translucent. Add chicken; mandarin/lemon juice, skins and 1 bay leaf, and cashews, if desired; season. Cover; cook about 30mins. Remove fruit skins and bay leaf before serve with rice.

Fruit & Nut Bread: Put 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup water, 1tsp honey and scant cup muesli cereal in bowl; let soak 15mins. Dissolve 1pkt yeast in 1/4 cup warm water.  Add yeast, 1-3/tsp salt, and 3c bread flour to bowl with muesli and 1-2tsp cinnamon; mix on low 3-4mins, until dough comes away from bowl. Dough will be sticky. Turn onto floured surface; form into rectangle. Spread surface with 1/2c roughly chopped dried apricots and one cup combination of whole pistachios, whole hazelnuts, dried currants and dried cranberries; add a few chopped dates and/or crystallised ginger, if you like. Fold dough in from each side; add the same amount and combination of fruit and nuts; knead dough to incorporate evenly. Place in oiled bowl; cover; set in warm place to rise 1hr. Turn onto paper lined baking sheet; form into rectangle loaf, as smooth as possible; brush with beaten egg; sprinkle with rolled oats. Cover; let rise, 30mins. Bake in 220C oven, 35-40mins. 





Wednesday, August 09, 2017

ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN...

Franquin surrounded by his fans

Krupa in full fllght
Rodney on the drums
"The Starbrites"....the band in which Rodney was the drummer

Beautiful though it is, I don’t need to be lulled into unconsciousness by the gentle sounds of your famous “Moonlight Sonata”, Ludwig; then again perhaps I do.   

While making a cup of coffee a moment ago, I knocked the mug with my elbow. Of course, the coffee went off course, going everywhere except where it was meant to go; not a good way to start the day. Uttering an appropriate word or three towards my wayward elbow, my upturned coffee mug and innocent coffee machine to express my annoyance, I mopped up the mess. 

The words helped...Remy and Shama didn’t.  As always they both opened an eye, shrugged their shoulders in unison, and then promptly went back to sleep.

Following my practice run at coffee making, I repeated the exercise minus the coffee spilling, and minus the expressive words.  Once more calm settled over the place as peace descended. 

That is, of course, until milk boiled over on the stove.  The telephone rang.  It was a call coming all the way from The Philippines or somewhere similar, from a long-lost relative who was never on the family tree in the first place; wrong tree; wrong family. The caller rang in the hope of becoming a beneficiary of my non-existent spare funds.   

I gave her short-shift; and not only because the milk was boiling over!  I was about to tell her to call Nigeria, but I had to fly post haste to the stove.  I didn’t cry over spilled milk, though.  It saved me from revealing my true feelings to the caller.  She was let off lightly....this time.  I deserve a commendation for the controlled restraint I employed.

I’ve told few others the following story.  To my own surprise, here I am, rolling over, relating it to the world. Maybe it’s my “Go tell it on the mountain” moment.

After you’ve read the following, please divulge the details to no one. Virtually tear this up, put it in your mouth; chew, and then swallow.  It’s just a passing tale.

When my late brother, Graham and I were kids our Nana took us to see the then highly-acclaimed, entertaining stage hypnotist “Franquin”.  The debonair Franquin, born in 1914, in Christchurch, New Zealand came across The Ditch to settle in this country in the 1950.

Franquin achieved fame in Australia and overseas throughout the Fifties before retiring to Queensland in 1968. It was the first, and probably only time, the renowned hypnotist performed his craft at a Gympie venue.

I was a fairly shy child -some would say that is difficult to believe, I know – I also know me better than anyone else knows me.  However, on that night, to everyone’s amazement, including my own, when the mighty Franquin asked for volunteers, before Nana had time to stop me, up to the stage I scampered without a backward glance; no egging on needed.  

Once under Franquin’s spell, I belted out a silent rhythm on an invisible drum set. Keeping with the beat, others in the makeshift band played their instruments of choice.

I’ve mentioned previously I love drums.  I’ve always loved drums. As a child I had a glossy, black and white photo of the legendary Gene Krupa on my bedroom wall.  

My first massive crush - on a "real" person...not a film or music star - crushed down on me at the tender age of 15.  At the time, I was still a high school student when the crush hit with a bang – and it lasted for a few years.  

The object of my affection and admiration, from afar, was on a young man...a very handsome young man with thick black hair and eyes like Tony Curtis.  Rodney was his name.  Rodney was not only handsome, but he was also a brilliant drummer.  Every time I saw him and when I heard him play the drums, he may not have missed the beat, but my heart certainly did!  

(Just this past week an old friend of mine sent me two CDS she'd burned.  One is a solo drumming performance by Rodney...and the other is of the band in which he was a member back in the early to mid-Sixties - "The Starbrites".   The CDs remind what a brilliant drummer Rodney really was.  And, I don't say this lightly.  Tears filled my eyes and overflowed when I've played them - I' ve played them often since receipt.  I've never denied I'm a softie at heart...and, I'm not ashamed to admit to being so. Of late my emotions have been pretty raw...in more ways than one! Both CDs are reminders of a wonderful time in my life.  Sadly, Rodney passed away in 2002.  Only one member of "The Starbrites" is still alive... he and I are in regular email contact).

Apparently, from my display on the stage of the Soldiers’ Hall in Gympie when I was around the age of 11 years, even under hypnosis I loved drums; a love so true, so real - subconscious and conscious.

On that fateful evening Franquin put us innocents who dared set foot on the stage in a coma with Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” playing in the background.  It was also the melody we heard upon waking. 

I might still be vulnerable.  Slightly nervous, I’m always fearful one day it’ll be background music when I’m out and about.  If I’m spotted waving my hands, arms and head around in an out of control manner when walking along our local supermarket aisles, I hope the other shoppers ignore me. 

I won’t be choking, nor will I be having a fit.  “Moonlight Sonata” most likely will be playing through the store’s system, and I’ve succumbed to the spell once again.

I’ll come out of it...eventually...

Kumara-Feta Rolls: Cut 1kg kumara into 2cm pieces; finely chop 1 onion. Bake separately on lined trays at 180C, 30-40mins until softened; cool. Roast 1/2c walnuts, 5mins; cool; chop. Increase oven to 200C. Lightly crush kumara; add onion, 200g crumbled feta, walnuts, 1/2tsp finely chopped rosemary and pinch of cinnamon. Using 2 sheets just thawed puff pastry, cut sheets in half. Place ¼ of mix in log shape along one long edge; brush opposite edge with lightly beaten egg; roll up to enclose; cut each roll into 3 pieces; place seam-side down on trays; repeat process. Brush pastry with egg; sprinkle with sesame seeds; bake 25-30mins. Serve with garlic yoghurt and/or chilli sauce.

Avocado-Bacon Egg Rolls: Slice 2 large avocados; drizzle with lime/lemon juice; sprinkle with salt. Heat 5cm oil in  pan. Place 1tbs flour in bowl; add water to make watery paste.  Using 12-14 egg roll wrappers, place 1 wrapper on work surface; with one corner pointing towards you, form a diamond; lay ½ a slice of mild cheese in middle; lay 1 slice of avo on top; then 1 slice of cooked bacon; add another avo slice. Fold wrapper over stack; tightly roll up egg roll nearly all the way; dab a bit of flour mixture on corner at top to seal; repeat. Cook in hot oil until golden; drain; serve with dip of choice.

Sweet Sicilian Rolls: Mix 270g flour with 2tbs sugar, 2tsp cocoa and 1 egg; mix by hand. Add 55g softened butter and a little sweet white wine. Knead until a workable dough. Wrap in foil; chill 2hrs. Dust bench with flour; roll out dough. Using a cookie cutter cut out circles in the dough. Brush circles edges with beaten egg white; wrap each circle around a metal cylinder-shaped object brushed with oil. Fry rolls in hot oil until dough is crispy. Or bake at 175C for 15-20mins. Put rolls on a kitchen paper; carefully remove cylinders. Cream: Finely chop 110g candied fruits. Grate 110g cooking chocolate. Beat 455g ricotta or cottage cheese and 270g icing sugar; add candied fruits and chocolate. Put into pastry bag; fill rolls. Decorate with candied orange peels.


Thursday, August 03, 2017

A DARK CLOUD OF SADNESS....



            When a gentle breeze brushes your cheek
             It is a caress from me - a tender loving butterfly
            kiss
            Never feel blue when life overwhelms - all appears
            bleak
           If ever you are helplessly falling into a dark deep 
           abyss
           Confidently reach out knowing I am by your side
             
          The miracle of unceasing deep love surrounds you
          Lift yourself up high to see beyond distant 
          horizons                          
          When you wake know I’ll be beside you the day
          through
          I  am the brightest star above sparkling like 
          diamonds                          
          Constantly my endless love will be your guide                           
          
          Always I will be sitting on your right shoulder
         Guiding you to achieve your aspirations your
         dreams
         When you feel lost or alone take a deep breath - be
         bolder
         Look to the stars at night cherish the sun’s warm 
         beams
         Confirmations I am always watching over you
   
             I wish you love – I wish you happiness
                         You will never walk  alone...


 
Sharon with her daughters...Shyloh, 9 years, and Makayla, 11 years old





Article from the Noosa News.....

"Noosa mourning the death of mum of two Sharon Cuthbert"

Noosa News

August 1, 2017 9:54am

A QUEENSLAND community is in mourning, following the tragic death of a mum of two who died after being hit by a truck last week.
Tributes have poured in for 39-year-old Noosa Council employee, Sharon Cuthbert, Noosa News reports.
Sharon Cuthbert was tragically killed when she was struck by a truck in Coolum. Picture:
Mrs Cuthbert was killed on Thursday when she struck by a truck on School Rd, Coolum, about 5.10pm.
It is clear Ms Cuthbert had a profound impact on the community, with many people taking to Facebook to mourn an “amazing, lovely, caring friend” that “blessed their lives”.
Council CEO Brett de Chastel said Mrs Cuthbert would be ‘sorely missed’.
“Our Council is in shock following the tragic loss of Sharon in last Thursday’s accident,” he said.
“Sharon was a much loved member of our staff having worked at Noosa Council for over 10 years.
“Sharon will be sorely missed.
“Her radiant smile and friendly approach made her so popular with both her colleagues and our customers.
“Our thoughts at this time also go out to her family who are in deep shock at what has happened.”
Friend and Noosa News employee Nadia Colbourn said Mrs Cuthbert’s maiden name had a special meaning to those who knew her.
“Her first (maiden) name was Angelo, which is Italian for angel,” Ms Colbourn said.
“She truly was an angel. She was a sweetheart.”  End Article






Above is just one of the many reports in the newspapers over this past week. 

Sharon was my half-brother’s daughter (step-daughter).  My half-brother, Warren helped raise Sharon and her sister, Kristy from when they we young children aged around five and six.  The young family live at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast; Warren and his wife, Sharon’s mother live at Tewantin, near Noosa Heads, also on the Sunshine Coast.

Sharon, a young, vibrant mother, who doted on her girls and her husband, Michael, was tragically, senselessly killed on Thursday, 27th July, 2017.    

She had just arrived home from work.  It was 5.10 pm.  She pulled off the road, onto the footpath...onto the driveway leading into their yard. She was standing about six feet from their carport.

A large truck towing a mulcher recklessly sped along the street, mounting the footpath, it struck Sharon.  She didn’t stand a chance.

Her two little girls, Makayla, aged 11 and Shyloh, aged 9 years, were inside the house with their father at the time of the tragedy....only metres away.

A very happy little family unit of four, is now, without rhyme or reason...three.
I keep asking the question “Why?”.......it’s a question to which I know there is no 
 answer...

I’m at a loss...I feel hollow inside....a dark cloud of sadness has descended over me...it envelops and weighs heavily...it won’t leave...

Two little girls have had their mother ripped from their lives....they’re left without their mother....their father, Michael, has lost the love of his life.

Sharon’s funeral is being conducted as I write....it’s being held this morning...commencing at 11 am...at Gregson and Weight Funeral Homes, Noosaville on the Sunshine Coast.  Sharon will be interred at the nearby Tewantin Cemetery.

The driver of the truck has been charged with culpable driving causing death.  After testing alcohol and methamphetamine were found in his system.  Knowing how gutless our justice system is, he will probably get only a rap over his knuckles and sent on his way.

Yes....I am very,very sad....and yes....I am very, very angry.....a pointless, unnecessary loss of life of a wonderful young woman.

The poem, shown above, I composed on Tuesday.  I had two copies of it printed....one on quality blue paper- Maky’s favourite colour; and the other on quality red paper- Shyloh’s favourite colour.  I’ve had them professionally framed, and this morning posted the poem along with some other little gifts for the girls in the hope they will gain some comfort.......