Thursday, July 13, 2017

THE SECRET’S OUT – RELATIVELY SPEAKING!




The cat is out of the bag!  The truth has been revealed!  I can hide it no longer!  I am an ocker.  However, seeing I’m female, if you must insist in my being pedantic - if I must split hairs - I am an “ockeress”. I’m a bogan; a Gimp from Gympie; I even have the limp to prove it.  Satisfied?

I don’t sit with the ladies, straight of back, legs neatly posed and positioned correctly, while daintily sipping on Twinings tea-filled finest bone china gold-leaf antique tea cups from Royal Albert or his first cousin Royal Doulton, or their second cousin, Wedgwood – with my pinky appropriately poised, making delicate small talk. 

I’d be most welcome at, and more suited to the Mad Hatter’s tea party... hat or no hat; probably even the guest of honour.

Perhaps I should purchase a handbook of rules and hints, such as “How to Become a Lady for Dummies”... germane to the subject herein, I do declare.

All of the above freely-gifted information is not to say I’m not capable of mixing it with the best if the situation arose, or when it’s necessary for me to do so.  I learned at an early age the “rights” and “wrongs” of sipping and supping.

Also, another invaluable lesson I was taught when young, invaluable advice, was to be able to converse with anyone of any standing, from the Queen to a street-sweeper, and all in between. I've not met Liz, but I'm sure we'd get on like a palace on fire! (I've no desire to meet Camilla, so I shan't be inviting her to tea).

Often, my brother and I accompanied our Nana when she visited her cousin and her husband, who just happened to be Gympie’s top and sole tailor.  My brother and I called them “Aunty Annie” and “Uncle Joe”, but, as the experts explain in their most discerning ways, your relationship with your grandmother/grandfather’s cousin is similar to the relationship you have with your grandmother/grandfather.  

In simpler terms if you find yourself in this confusing position on the family tree – if you’re out on a limb - you are their first cousin twice removed. 

It was simpler to call Nana’s cousin and her husband, “Aunty” and “Uncle”, rather than complicate the situation further.  Young brains can only handle so much.

Aunty Annie and Uncle Joe lived in a lovely Federation-style home in Mellor Street, Gympie. Adjoining the stately home, to its left side was Uncle Joe’s tailoring business.

Quality, antique furniture and objets d’ art filled the home.  Beautifully-maintained gardens surrounded the house. A paved pathway in the back garden meandered leisurely between trimmed hedges, flower and vegetable beds. Large aviaries were dotted throughout, each standing well over seven feet high and double that or more in width.  A peacock or two often strutted free, much to my brother’s and my delight. Pigeons, finches, budgerigars, and other colourful bird varieties graced their large cages. Quails kept the bottom of the aviaries clean.  

Personally, I don’t like seeing caged birds, and would never consider keeping them so confined.   My enjoyment is to see our feathered friends fly freely at their own will. I have many that are my regular daily visitors.  We're on first name basis.

When I was a little girl, we did have “Sweetie”, a very melodious, yellow canary who kept us entertained with his wonderful whistling.  Also, for a few years, my brother, Graham put into practice what Uncle Joe had taught him, and he, Graham, built a large aviary in which he kept a variety of small birds, along with a pair of quails to do the housekeeping.

While I mostly spent our visits to Uncle Joe and Aunty Annie’s home sitting quietly, politely, genteelly sipping tea with milk and one sugar from one of Aunty Annie’s best bone china tea cups (secretly praying I’d not drop, chip or spill), my brother was in his element, out in the back garden with Uncle Joe learning everything there was to learn about plants and bird-keeping!
 
How unfair!  

All was not lost, I did learn how to behave myself when in company, how to sip and sit in a ladylike fashion.

On the flip-side, I also learned to enjoy certain unladylike sports, as my loud yell testified when I learned Australian professional boxer, Jeff Horn, from Acacia Ridge, a suburb of Brisbane had won his WBO Welterweight world title in his boxing match against Manny Pacquiao on the afternoon of the second Sunday in July, 2017. 
  
Pacquiao, from The Philippines, is considered by many aficionados of the sport to be one of the greatest boxers of all tim.  He has won 11 major world titles. Manny Pacquiao has also won titles over five different weight classes. 

Jeff Horn, (with not a tattoo on his body....I hate, hate, hate tattoos) when he was still an amateur, as a light-welterweight, reached the quarter-finals at the 2012 London Olympics.
Fortunately, my primal scream on Sunday 2nd didn’t shatter any bone china, or glass within hearing distance when Brisbane’s humble ex-school teacher Horn won against his most worthy opponent,

When we were kids, before the advent of television, as a family, we sat with our ears were glued to the radio listening to the big fight broadcasts. Aussie Jimmy Carruthers, bantamweight champion of the world, was a household name, as was the great Rocky Marciano, the unbeaten world heavyweight champion from the US.  

As a teenager, my brother was in the Gympie Police-Citizens Youth Club, part of the boxing group, and from what I was told by a member of Gympie’s police force at the time, a John Landy, that my brother showed great promise and was very good at the sport, but during competition Graham’s nerves came into play, forcing him to battle two opponents.  (For five years after leaving high school at the age of 15, I was employed by a Gympie law firm as a legal secretary; the office, of course, had many dealings with the “Men in Blue”).

I’ve written previously that our father played no part in our lives, ever, other than planting his seed.  He and our mother separated, and divorced, when Graham and I were very young.  (In fact, our parents separated when our mother was pregnant with me).

Joe Nicholson, our biological father, I learned only about eight years ago, was, back in the 1930, the Central Queensland boxing champion.  He was born and raised in Rockhampton, on the Capricornia Coast. 

I don’t know what weight class he was in, but he was being considered to be a representative in the Australian Olympic boxing team.  However, his mother, our grandmother, a feisty little Irish lady who’d immigrated, with our grandfather, from County Armagh, Northern Island in the early years of the 1900s, apparently put up her own fight; put her foot down, and firmly, declared she believed her son, Joseph, to be far too young to go off across the ocean to do battle in a boxing ring, Olympics or no Olympics!  And, that was that...Mother had spoken!

So the story goes...and then the Second World War loomed, and all thoughts of further representation at future Olympics and boxing tournaments hit the canvas.

One of the sad things about this story - if one looks at it that way - is my brother Graham passed away in 1996, and he was never aware of it.   

However, knowing my brother so well, I feel certain he would have turned his nose up about it, stating he couldn’t give a damn.  He’d drawn a firm, thick, unbreakable line through the paternal side of our family. He wasn’t interested, or on the outer, he displayed disinterest, in anything to do with the clan Nicholson.

I was thrilled a few years ago when briefly, very briefly, I chatted with Joe Bugner, the Hungarian-born, British-Aussie former heavyweight boxer, and actor. Bugner moved to Australia in 1986. For a while in the late 90s and early 2000s he lived and ran a business here on Tamborine Mountain. He and his wife (singer, Tom Jones was their Best Man) left the hill, and now live on the Gold Coast.

One day, a couple of years after I came to live here, while purchasing a bottle of wine at a local bottle shop, I’d bumped into the towering Joe Bugner!  

Oops!  Being a lady, I apologised, and we had a brief, polite chat.

Tea-Smoked Duck: Heat 2c water, 1/4c salt, 2 pears, quartered, 4 crushed cardamom pods, 6 crushed juniper berries and 4 crushed cloves until salt has dissolved. Remove from heat; add 2c ice; stir until cool. Make cross-hatch pattern on skin side of 2 duck breasts. Place in cold brine; chill overnight; remove breasts from brine; pat dry. Place Dutch oven over med-high heat. When hot, add breasts skin side down. Fat will render quickly; gradually pour off fat; When crust begins to develop on breasts, and they’re slightly charred, remove; pour off fat, leaving a little, if desired; drop 3tbs loose-leaf green tea into the Dutch oven, over the heat. Cover 30secs; open quickly not to let out too much smoke; replace breasts, flesh side down. Cover; sear 2mins; quickly open; turn breast to skin side down; re-cover; sear 2mins for med-rare. When cooked, slice on bias into strips; serve with cranberry compote, pea shoots and sweet potatoes roasted in duck fat.

Matcha-Zucchini Noodles: Cook 240g matcha green tea soba noodes in boiling salted water, according to directions; drain.  Julienne 1 or 2 medium zucchinis into long noodles; then place in colander; salt well. Drain over bowl, 20mins. Heat 3tbs olive oil in pan over med-heat; add 1tbs grated fresh ginger and 3 grated garlic cloves; fry 2-3mins; stir constantly; remove from heat; stir in 2tsp sesame oil, 2tbs honey, 2tbs soy sauce and juice from 1 lemon; stir until smooth sauce is formed; add to noodles; toss to coat.

Matcha Vanilla Pound Cake:  Combine about 3c plain flour, 1tsp baking powder, 1/2tsp baking soda, 2tbs matcha powder and 1/2tsp salt. Place 2c sugar, 3/4c softened butter and 1tsp vanilla extract in bowl: beat on med-speed until light and fluffy; add 3 large eggs, one at a time, beat well after each addition.  Add flour and 1-1/3c buttermilk to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spoon batter into a couple of greased loaf pans; bake in preheated 175C oven, 40 mins or so. Cool in pans 10mins; then cool completely on racks.  


46 comments:

  1. As far as I can see your male progenitor (because father he wasn't) was the one who missed out. All his own fault.

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    1. Hi EC....I suppose there was blame on both sides. Mum and Nana never said a bad word against him, which was very admirable of them to act that way, in my opinion. I'm not sure if I, in a similar situation, would have been so fair. That's life, I guess.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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    2. Where the adults were concerned almost certainly there was blame on both sides. Where your brother and the yet unborn you were concerned? None, nada, zip. And he didn't behave like a father at all.

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  2. "Let's get into this ring and punch each other until one of us passes out".
    "That sounds like fun".
    Very odd behaviour. I remember Joe Bugner and I am also pleased to know you would not be a disgrace in fine company.

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    1. There is a lot of odd behaviour in this world, Andrew...and a lot of odd sports. Each to their own, I guess.

      To not be a disgrace in fine company comes by having pride in one's self...but so often "fine company" can be extremely boring...pushing one to one's limit! It is then time to make a polite exit before disgracing one's self! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  3. I don't understand boxing. Voluntarily stepping into an enclosed space so someone can punch your lights out? No thank you.
    Your Aunt's yard sounds big enough to be a park, with all those aviaries etc.
    Sitting in a ladylike manner hurts my hips and back. I'm a knees apart girl, absolutely no class at all. I can do the straight back though.

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    1. Hi River...yes, their back garden area was quite large, as was their front yard, actaully.

      I sit with my knees together....old habits die hard, I guess. Don't under sell yourself...you're a classy lady. :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  4. My dad loved to watch Friday Night Fights on TV. Years later we found out that he had dabbled in the sport in his youth to make some money. He also worked as a dance teacher. He had great footwork.

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    1. Hey there Arleen...yes...it's all in the footwork. We used to love watching the travelling boxing troupe (Jimmy Sharman) who used to go around to all the shows (agricultural fairs with side show alleys) each year when the show came to town. The spruikers would be out the front of the tent with their loud hailers and a large bass drum drawing the crowds in. Many of the young, red-blooded lads would use up their energy trying to be heroes in the ring. Better to be heroes in the boxing ring than out in the streets causing havoc.

      What type of dancing did your Dad teach? How interesting.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  5. I noticed you managed to call the Queen, Liz'. That's what I would do too. I don't think I would go down that well. Interesting story.

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    1. G'day Treey...I believe Liz is not as stuffy as many may think! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  6. my father used to like boxing and would watch it every week; and I can still hear my mother said "according to Emily Post you must do this or that because that's the proper way" lol. I have never heard of many baked recipes with tea but especially the duck sounds so delicious, at our post office a juniper bush is loaded wit berries, I may have to pick some when they ripen, I did have some homemade green tea ice cream once and it was delicious.

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    1. G'day Linda...my brother used to like boxing, too...and I didn't mind watching the big matches. I've only been to one live match...went along with my first husband many years ago to watch one of our Aussie Olympic boxers...he lost on the night.

      Grab those juniper berries and make some gin! lol

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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    2. G'day, mate! 'ow ya goin'? :)

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  7. Unlike the cartoon world of commercial wrestling, boxing is the real deal. One can be severely and permanently damaged in boxing. I am channelling my inner Queen Victoria when I say, "We are not amused.".

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    1. Hey Delores...wrestling certainly is a cartoon world...all pretense and flair. One can be severely and permanently damaged in many physical sports, boxing included.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  8. First I had to look up Ocker. "Slang for a stereotypical Australian. Someone with a strong accent who enjoys beer, bbqs, Australian football, V8 cars, thongs etc." I could also be an Ocker-ess. However my new truck is a V6. I do love boxing and decided that is what I will be in my next life.

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    1. G'day, Sheila! 'Ow ya goin'?

      Your new truck, Annie, is a beauty! We could trip around to watch a lot of boxing matches in that. We'll just toss our swags in the back and off we'll go!

      Thanks for coming by, mate! :)

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  9. Crikey Lee ..... I too was raised to be able to get by in ANY company. It was the way we Aussies were once. I'm not so sure about today.
    I don't understand boxing at all. I too think it's completely senseless to punch the living daylights out of another human being but to each his own. I remember, with much fondness, my dear Great Aunt Jane. When Television arrived she and I would spend many a Saturday afternoon watching World Championship Wrestling. Great Aunt Jane would, I am sure, in her day, leave you for dead in the yelling department. She was a very learned and highly intelligent lady. You would never know it when she was watching that wrestling.

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    1. Hey there, Charlie...times have changed...and I'm not sure if for the better. One can become very disillusioned, and then, out of nowhere as bright light appears and a glimmer of hope returns! Like today when I met a lovely young man, respectful, well-mannered...a pleasure to talk with...I have no idea who he was and probably our paths will never cross again...the the few moments' exchange we shared made my day. :)

      Ahh...it does one good to exercise the lungs sometimes. You must feel that when you let out a bark or two, Charlie! Thanks for coming by. :)

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  10. YORKSHIRE PUDDING TRANSLATION SERVICES:-

    The term "ocker" is used both as a noun and adjective for an Australian who speaks and acts in a rough and uncultivated manner, using a broad Australian accent (or "strine"). The typical ocker is "usually found in a blue singlet and rubber thongs with a tinnie in his hand propping up a bar"

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    1. Thank you for your assistance, Yorkie...not that I needed it. I don't class myself as being an "Ocker", although some of the most honest, down-to-earth people I've met...those with no pretenses or false impressions of themselves, would probably be "Ockers"....true blue Aussies, who look one straight in the eye, take no nonsense, who hold their head high; who would have your back if ever the situation arose.

      I am guilty of none that is quoted above in your explanation. It may surprise you, but I do speak not speak in "rough, uncultivated manner using a broad Australian accent). My voice is well-modulated not high-pitched, nasal or with a pronounced accent.

      Fortunately, among the many good lessons taught to me when I was a child by both my mother and grandmother, they taught me to speak well..not to drop the "g" off the end of words etc., etc., et al. And, in the majority of instances I've followed their worthy instructions to the letter.

      The cheque is in the mail for your services. I'm sure I will have need to call upon you again in the future! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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    2. I thought the beer swilling blue singlet brigade were Bogans. If I'm wrong, please enlighten me.
      I don't speak well, I drop g's, t's R's all over the place. And I don't seem to be able to say "be able to" in a sentence unless I concentrate. It comes out "be outta". Like I said, no class.

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  11. Damn it, now I want poundcake!

    Ladylike is boring. Cheers to you for challenging the status quo.

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    1. Hey there, RK....I'm attempting to get myself into gear to go and make a date-banana-walnut loaf. I've got as far as putting the mixing bowl on the bench!

      Just be yourself, I say...no point pretending to be otherwise...flimsy curtains are easy to see through!

      Thanks for coming by...I hope all is well in your neck of the woods. :)

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  12. It must be strange finding out about a dad you never knew. A bit sad that he had to give up his wrestling hopes. It must be a strange feeling to have these glimpses and nothing much else about hin. It made me think that even when we know a bit about our deceased older relatives it is usually only a line or two. I heard from my great aunt that my grandfather was argumentative, and imagined him as stroppy, but then i read some of his letters and saw he was tender hearted too, and full of affection for his parents. I suppose a person who can be all those things but it made me wish i had known him better.

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    1. Hey, Jenny...it's nice to see you back again. It was boxing my father was involved in, not wrestling.

      What you say is so true...we're all complex creatures...and we can't judge when we don't know the whole stories or persons involved...even though we do at times. My father wasn't a bad man...but, one who, like us all, had faults. It was the war years...Second World War....lives changed for most people involved...throughout Europe, UK...the Pacific areas...etc.

      I don't cry over spilled milk...my parents, grandparents, brother have all passed away...there's only me left...I hold onto the good memories...the positive...the majority of time, anyway! :)

      Thanks for coming by...as I said...it's good to see you again. :)

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  13. Growing up in the country of Tennessee, I never saw a tea set. In the 1976 I started collecting tea sets and tea pots. I now have a large number on display and when I would get them, most were gift after it was found out I had started collecting, I put a slip of paper with the giver name and the date received. When I gaze upon them I have fond memories of the givers. I knew there were finer things but we grew up with practical items which would endure. Anyway, I enjoyed the tale you have told us. The last 3 months have been something I wish never to repeat. In a nut shell my right arm has not been up to it's job and I have no idea what happen to make it useless. I have run the through 3 doctors, medication, shots and PT (still doing) and have now a better appreciate of little accomplishments. I am hoping to avoid the doctors with the knife. Anyway I am back on the bloggin circuit for now. WATCH OUT WORLD KITTY JUSTICE HAS RETURNED. PEACE

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    1. Hey there, Miss Kitty! Great to have you back! Sorry to learn about the problems you've been having with your arm. I hope all is well again very soon. We do take so much for granted, don't we? But we shouldn't beat ourselves up for doing so...we're all guilty. Take it easy.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  14. This is my first visit to your blog. I learned about it on Sandra Cox's blog today. There are SO many things I agree with you on, like sipping tea with my pinkie in the air. Being of British descent, I have no desire to sit with ladies who drink tea that way. Give me a friend I can share stories with, laugh with, sip coffee with, and slouch around in sweats with, if the spirit moves me.

    Also, like you, I hate tatoos. So many people have them today, and because I was raised by grandparents, I was influenced by them and their feelings. My grandmother felt the same way about women who got their ears pierced.

    I really, really enjoyed reading your blog post and learning about your father's history. Too bad you never knew him, though. My mother was pregnant with me when my father died, so that's how I ended up being raised by grandparents. My mother died a few years after I was born, so I knew very little about her, or my father. Feel lucky you learned as much about yours as you have.

    Again, so nice meeting you.

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    1. G'day Bleubeard and Elizabeth...welcome to my blog. It's a pleasure to meet you! I once had a beloved cat who looked just like Bleubeard...he was named "Smocka"...and he had a most beautiful personality.

      My older brother and I were raised by our mother and our Nana, her mother. Nana stuck by Mum and us through thick and thin.

      A good friend and I spent over two hours on the phone this afternoon...we laughed so much tears poured from our eyes. We don't sit around sipping on tea, either, being "ladies". Actually, we carry on like a couple of delinquents once we get warmed up...and that never seems to take very long! Somehow, our conversations always deteriorate rapidly once we get started. It's good to have someone like that in one's life. You know you can trust them...and they are always there to help ease and lift the weight that life sometimes places upon us.

      My friend needed the release that laughter brings because it's her mother I referred to in a response to a previous post. Her mother turned 100 in late June...and to everyone's dismay, had to be rushed to hospital earlier this week. But, good news came a little later this afternoon following our earlier chat. Her mother is being released from hospital tomorrow....so hopefully all will be well. She's a toughie...I guess making 100 proves that. :)

      Thanks for popping in, Elizabeth. Don't be a stranger. :)

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  15. Hi Lee! I am visiting from Sandra's blog. Sandra always tells us about some terrific blogs out there in Blog Land every Thursday...blogs that we might never visit otherwise.
    I had a wonderful visit and love your style of being yourself with no pretensions.

    Your outlook on life is great! You were raised by two loving and intelligent women and it shows just by your post,that I read with great interest, today! I also enjoyed your recipes. I am sorry about the loss of your brother. I know that it was back in 1996 but a sibling is great company to be with.
    Have a great day!

    Jan 💮

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    1. Hey there, Jan...It's so nice to meet you, too...and very kind of Sandra to point in my direction...way down here Down Under! :)

      I've believed there is no point in having pretensions. They don't get you anywhere and soon others will see right through you. Having egg on one's face isn't much fun...it's better to eat them! lol

      I'm glad you enjoy my ramblings. Thanks for coming by....don't be a stranger. :)

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  16. Hello...I came over from Sandra's blog and found this quite entertaining to read. I'm sorry you lost your brother what seems to me to be a young age. I do like ancestry so even though your biological father was just a sperm doner, it is good to find out the ancestry. I bet he was quite angry at his mom for keeping him back and may not have liked women too much since his mom was a strong woman. I hate tattoos as well and wonder what all these young women, especially, will think of their tattoos when they are older and more wrinkly

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    1. Hello, Birgit...thanks for visiting my blog. I hope it's not the last time.

      My brother passed away in in early June, 1998. He turned 56 earlier in February the same year. Far too young to die, in my opinion.

      No...from what I learned my father didn't dislike women, probably quite the opposite, really. He had four sisters (and one brother), and all siblings were pretty close from what I gathered.

      Thanks for coming by. I look forward to popping over to your blog, too. :)

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  17. Hi Lee I'm just catching up. I have absolutely no doubt at all from reading your posts for the last while that you can 'walk with kings nor lose the common touch'. As for boxing? I know nothing at all.

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    1. Hi there Graham....I'm a bit the same way with "catching up". Not that I've been running around being social or similar, but time just slips away. I might just have to tie a rope around it and hitch it to a post!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  19. Hi Lee,
    I hate seeing birds caged too. It makes me sad.
    I'm sorry about your brother. Your father....his loss.
    Have a great one.

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    1. Hey Sandra....I've lots of various birds (native birds, not caged) that hang around my cabin here...each afternoon I toss out the meat scraps for them. As I cut up the meat for my two cats, the birds are hanging around the front area waiting for their share. And if I'm running late they don't shy off from letting me know! lol

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  20. Bumping into boxers is not what I'd recommend...

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    1. I didn't hurt him; it was just a light body blow above the belt, Mr. Ad-Man.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  21. My grandfather sure loved boxing - I can still see him watching it on TV, punching at the air. :) I can't say I like it, but it's a good memory.

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  22. THE SECRET'S OUT – RELATIVELY SPEAKING! The cat is out of the bag! The truth has been revealed! I can hide it no longer! I am an ocker.
    ตารางคะแนน

    ReplyDelete