Wednesday, February 14, 2018

MEMORIES PRESSED BETWEEN THE PAGES OF MY MIND...














I’m the last of my clan.
 
Never a day goes by I don’t think about the two strong, tall, good-looking, quick-witted women who were the major forces in my life... my mother, Elma Flora...and her mother, my Nana...Ivy Flora Hay nee Hose, wife of John/Jack Hay . Both were proud descendants of Scottish Highlanders – with nary an Outlander in their midst...not that I'm aware of, anyway. 

 (There is a large rock with carvings on it around the corner and up the road a little bit from here where I live. Under the cloak of darkness or a fly plaid over my head and shoulders, one night I intend going to the rock, which stands on the high ground, looking out to the wide, vast valley below.  I will stand in front of the rock, with my hands outstretched touching it...to see if I'll be whisked off on a trip back through time...if you understand the direction I'm taking you)!

I'm very proud to have Scottish Highlander blood running through my veins.   

On my paternal side, I'm second generation Irish.  Shortly after marrying in the early 1900s, my paternal grandparents came to Australia from the town of Armagh, County Armagh, Northern Ireland.  

My older brother, Graham's and my father was born in Rockhampton, a town in Central Queensland.  Graham and I, too, were born in Rockhampton.

In Scottish history few names go farther back than “Hay”.  Their ancestors lived amongst the Pictish tribe...circa 980...a little before my time. 

Through the years an infiltrator or two from Northern Ireland, (other than the Nicholsons of our father's mob) joined the maternal side of the clan.   

Those early interlopers seeking adventure and romance across the sea, departed from Giant’s Causeway, and then crossed the North Channel; sailed (I doubt they swam) past the Mull of Kintyre, and then trekked north to the Scottish highlands, where, as it came to pass, they found the Holy Grail.

As well as the Irish mob, also going out on a limb to become part of the family tree, a couple of MacDonalds and Stuarts from neighbouring Scottish clans joined the alliance. 

My mother always called her mother...”Mumma”; and her father, “Dadda”, as Nana had done before her, in reference to her own parents. 

In 1867 James Nash discovered gold in Gympie.  Many Scots flocked to the rich goldfields, settling in the area.  My maternal ancestors were amongst them. 

Previously I’ve told the story about my great-grandfather, Robert Hose.   Here is a refresher....

On 20th February, 1918, he was working in the stopes over No. 11 level at No. 3 shaft in Gympie’s Scottish Gold Mine and Battery.   At the time Gympie’s Scottish Gold Mine was the largest in the southern hemisphere.

Usually Robert Hose didn’t work underground but, on that fateful day he took the place of an ill co-worker. A rock, estimated to be more than two hundredweight, came loose, striking him. Twenty minutes after his arrival at the Gympie hospital Robert Hose died, at the age of 50 years, leaving behind a widow and six children, ranging in age from 30 years down to nine years.

Elma, my mother had vibrant auburn hair. As a little girl, on her first day at school, her teacher asked from where she’d gotten her glorious hue.

Looking the teacher directly in the eye, without hesitation, Elma Flora’s answer was – 

“From my grandfather’s moustache!” 

Nana’s father, Robert Hose, whose hair was dark brown verging on black, had an auburn moustache.

My Nana, Ivy Flora’s hair, in her younger years, was deep chestnut in colour. 

Neither woman needed dye to achieve the envied, much-admired rich tones of her tresses. 

Before my hair turned grey, it was brunette with natural auburn-chestnut highlights.

Respectively, Mum and Nana passed away in 1974 and 1976.  In 1998, my brother Graham joined them, leaving me to single-handedly hold the fort.  Minus an escutcheon, I do the best I can.

Around this time each year my thoughts are even more so with my mother and brother....the reasons being...

Mum’s birthday was 17th February, and Graham’s, the 28th February, having leapfrogged over Leap Year.

Throughout the years on those dates many fun celebrations were shared.  (As well as on my birthday, 11th November...and Nana’s – which was 13th November – we were a close little unit of four, in many ways)!

When my brother and I were children birthdays warranted celebrating.  Parties were always on the agenda.  Mum played her part in the catering.  Our mother was an adept hand at making teasingly, tempting, delicious savoury finger foods, while Nana was the expert cake and scone-maker.

Though money didn’t grown on any of the trees around where we lived, there was little we did without.   Books, usually three or four in number, were always included amongst our presents, both for our respective birthdays, and as part of our Christmas gifts.

I cherish memories of Mum teaching Graham - who had absolutely no interest - and me – who did – how to do the Scottish sword dance (Ghillie Callum). 

With no swords in our weaponry we substituted narrow strips of wood in lieu - not steak knives – in case the thought had crossed your mind. 

A ginger-haired Gympie lass, Heather Stuart, frequently won Sword dancing competitions during those bygone days.  Fleet of foot, she was exciting and beautiful to watch.  I dreamed of being like her – a dream unfulfilled.

As well as being a wonderful pianist, Mum was a talented dancer. Elma Flora was the entertainer. Ivy Flora was the storyteller; a skilful regaler of myriad interesting, true tales that kept Graham and me intrigued during our childhood and beyond. 

I wish I’d recorded her stories; but then, I have no one to whom I can pass on the family narratives.

After I’ve gone it will be as if they were written on the wind; gone with the wind. 

My mother would have turned 99 this Saturday, 17th February.  On the 28th February, 2018 Graham would have turned 76.

Memories are made of this...and all of that. 

Our childhood lifestyle was simple, yet not spartan; neither were our choices of tartan...

Slàinte!  Here’s looking up your kilt!

Rumbledethumps: Boil 6c diced potatoes until soft. In large pan melt 3tbs butter. Add 6c shredded Savoy cabbage and 1 large onion, sliced thinly; season; sauté on low until tender. Preheat oven 200C. Drain spuds; put into a bowl with 4tbs butter and 1/2c milk; season. Beat with hand mixer until smooth; don’t over-beat. Add cabbage-onion; stir well. Butter deep 8x8-inch casserole/baking pan; add mixture; top with 1/2c shredded, sharp cheddar; add a layer of sliced tomatoes; sprinkle over1-1/2c of cheese. Bake 30mins or until top is golden. Sit for 5mins before serving. 

Salmon in Whisky Sauce: Place 2/3rd c  each of Scotch and water, 8 black peppercorns, 3 bay leave s, 1 chopped carrot, 1 finely chopped onion, 3tbs lemon juice, 1/2tsp thyme, salt and pepper in a pan. Gently poach 6 salmon steaks for 7-10mins or until fish is cooked. Strain; reserve the poaching liquid. Place the salmon on a warm serving plate, cover; keep warm. Make butter sauce – whisk 3 egg yolks and 1tbs lemon juice together. Place in heatproof bowl; set over pan of hot, not boiling water on very low heat. Whisk until it begins to thicken; gradually stir in 125g butter, allowing a small amount to melt at a time. If any lumps appear, remove the bowl from heat; add a teaspoon of cold water before placing back on heat. When sauce is at required thickness, remove from heat; add in 3tbs Scotch and 3tbs poaching liquid.  Pour over salmon; served.


Pecan-Blue Cheese Shortbread: Beat 1/2c room-temp butter and 1c crumbled blue cheese until blended (don’t worry about lumps of cheese); add 1c plain flour and 1/2c finely chopped pecans or walnuts. Shape into a log, wrap in parchment or plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm or freeze for up to 6 months.
To bake, slice 1/4-inch thick and bake on an ungreased baking sheet at 175C/350F for 10 minutes, or until pale golden around the edges.
 

Scottish Sweet Tablet: Grease a baking tray (about 2.5cm deep is best) with butter:  set it aside.  Pour 150ml full fat milk and 500g granulated sugar into large pan; cook over high heat until sugar dissolves.  Pour in 400g condensed milk; stir constantly over low heat, around 20-25mins, or until mixture thickens.  Once thickened, turned a light brown and started to bubble, add 2tsp vanilla extract. Remove from heat; stir at fast pace, about 10-15mins, until thickens further and starts to brown. At this point it should start stick to the wooden spoon. Pour into prepared tray;  cool 15mins. Cut tablet into bite-sized pieces; cool; remove from tray





37 comments:

  1. Very sweet memories Lee and sad that you are the last of the line. Are you sure there aren't distant cousins somewhere back in Scotland or Ireland? Someone who you COULD pass your stories too, as much as you remember them?
    My kids have some Scottish blood too, but heavily diluted, with a little English and a lot of German, on their father's side. My youngest son has researched the clan a bit and has a few trinkets with emblems on them, a ring, a badge, etc and knows what tartan to wear should he ever think of getting a kilt made. He even has a kilt pin. I've been told there's a castle that carries the family name, but don't remember where exactly. Somewhere in the north-west I think.
    My mother's birthday is also February 17th, she would have been 92 this year and my son-in-law shares your November 11th birthday.

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    1. Hey there, River!

      Oh, my goodness! What a coincidence about the birth dates?!! That's incredible.

      There are cousins, second cousins etc., etc., everywhere down the line, hanging off tree limbs somewhere, River...but none who would care much about what I have to say.

      I have a half-brother (his father was also Graham's and my father). We found each other coming up 10 years ago this year. He was born five years after I was...well, after Mum and our father, Joe Nicholson separated and divorced.

      My half-brother and I are in contact every so often...about once a month or so. He lives up on the Sunshine Coast. We have met face to face a couple of times, but in the most part our contact is via phone and email.

      However, my side of the family...my maternal side is of little interest to him, naturally.

      I have cousins on my paternal side...but very rarely have contact. So in the closer quarters of things....I am the last of the Mohicans on this side of the forest.

      My late brother's three adult children are not interested in me or anything I have to relate. Of course, I'm sure that situation would alter if I happened to come into a large win in the Lotto. That would be worth something to then in their mind...but my stories, and me, aren't! I'm an insignificant player in the play. :)

      Such is life...

      And, yes...there would still be distant relatives still in Scotland.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  2. I too have a lot of Scottish blood and if you knew my full name, it is unmistakably Scottish. I have researched my mother's side of the family (Huguenots) much more that my Scottish heritage father Scottish side. His mother was born of Swiss Italians, and I have researched that side a bit as it is not such a common name. My plan is to wait for other people to do the research and latch on to that.

    That some family history will be lost when you go is sad. I remember lots of what Mother has told me about family and I have written some things down, but no one is or will be interested, well, until they are older and it will be too late then.

    Your mother died before your grandmother?

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    1. Yes, Andrew...Mum died before Nana, her mother. Two years and a couple of weeks after Mum passed away, Nana joined her daughter.

      Losing her daughter was very hard on Nana because she had stuck with Mum through thick and thin, never leaving her side or that of my brother and me after our parents broke up. Our family unit was Nana, Mum, Graham and me....the Four Musketeers....all for one and one for all.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  3. Lee, I love your story today of your heritage. I found it very interesting. So you are part of the Scottish Highlander.

    I too in my life - I am the only one left too.

    Love your food.
    Sandie

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    1. G'day, Sandie..Yes, that I am. When I was a little girl I loved my tartan skirt, and I still love the particular tartan....it was the Stuart Dress Tartan.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  4. The Scottish community in your area might have a historical society that would be happy to have a record of your memories for future generations.

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  5. Delores has a good idea there.

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  6. Delores and River...three or so years ago the Queensland State Library asked for my permission to archive some of my stories in the State Library, and in the National Library.

    Naturally, I said "Yes"....I was thrilled, and proud!

    Thanks for coming by. :)

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  7. I might have to change the name of my blog! Did some research and my roots go WAY back to Scotland, I think it was 1180 or something! LOL!
    I also have English ancestors too, looks like I am related to Churchill! Funny, my son looked just him when he was an infant! :-)

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    1. Hey, Kay. Just Scottish and Irish blood running through my veins; more Scottish than Irish...no English.

      It's very interesting going back through the lineage. The ruins of a Hay castle remain in Yester, Scotland. I might go over and claim them...set up camp! lol

      Thanks for coming by.


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  8. Nowadays, the best place to store and preserve memories (photos, documents, texts, videos) and to have control over it, is..ONLINE. Google offers a 15 Gb of free space for that, which is a lot. Other platforms offer less free space, but there's always the possibility to buy space. (In principle, I'm for free only, and to store in as many platforms as possible).

    Blogger is a wonderful platform, to my mind. They keep the blog indefinitely, unless you close your account or they cease to exist. As I see, you do write about your memories, but not enough pictures. You can start an additional one, more targeted to family and personal memories - and set it to 'public', not 'private', so that it's open to all readers.

    I'm also interested in the topic of online storage. Time permitting I'll look into some forums on the subject to learn more about it. So far, besides the blog, I'm on no other platform, and no other social net. So my knowledge is quite limited.

    On another note, your four recipes have butter. Well, butter is the ultimate ingredient,that upgrades every food. I haven't given up butter , but, sadly, I don't keep it in my kitchen because it's too calorie rich. As they say, don't let the enemy in. Sometimes, when I'm out , I'll have some decadent slice of cake based on butter.

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    1. G'day DUTA....Butter is always a staple in my fridge. I cook with butter and olive oil only....nothing else...and never margarine!! When I was cooking in restaurants etc., there is absolutely no way on earth I would use anything else other than butter...and similar applies here in my own kitchen.

      I've so many old photos...one day I should sort through them and put them on my computer...a lengthy job to do....but, they really are of no interest to anyone else. They'll all end up on the scrap heap or camp fire when I go! :)

      Thanks for coming...and for the information you've given. :)

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  9. Gorgeous memories and your dates as well.
    My late father's birthday was the 18 February and my late mums early November.
    Do you watch or have you watched 'Outlander'?
    No Scottish in me but was taught Scottish dancing and marched behind the pipe band many a time years ago - love the bagpipes.
    Husband is Scottish on his mother's side of the family :)

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    1. Yes, Margaret...I binged on "Outlander"...and have the books, which I'm about to start reading once the Winter Olympics have come to an end, if not before.

      I'm impatiently waiting for the next season to start. Fantastic series...I absolutely love it! Total brilliance!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  10. A lovely story of days gone by. One can almost imagine what it would have been like to have been Scottish. I love the accent. They asked me where the piper was.

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    1. Hey, Terry. I love the pipers. I've always loved the bagpipes. As children, every Saturday night, without fail, we would go down to the main street of Gympie...Mary Street (walk down...and I say "down" because we had to walk down a hill to get to Mary Street, that actually ran along what originally was a gully) to watch the Scots pipe band play as they marched down the street. My brother, our Nana and I would, along with half the population of Gympie, follow the pipe band as they continued along the street...it was wonderful.

      Our mother was at work...she was a barmaid throughout our childhood. We'd usually pop into the pub, with Nana, to see her. Nana would have a couple of sherries...Graham and I would have a glass each of lemonade. :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  11. But I don't wear a kilt! And if I did wear a kilt I would also wear nice underpants from Marks and Spencers!

    From this distance and having heard about your mum and grandmother before, I have the feeling that they were more like sisters than mother and daughter. It is obvious that they gave you and Graham a happy, secure home in which you knew you were loved.

    By the way - David Hay was a very good Scottish footballer. Go here to learn about him:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hay

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    1. Hi, Yorkie. Stop wearing those stove pipes!!!

      Yes, you are correct. Mum and Nana were very much like sisters in many ways, in many instances. They did their best in taking care of us kids. It wasn't always easy...but they stood tall every time in the face of adversity.

      Thanks for the link....he probably is out on a limb somewhere. :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  12. We are all a huge mix Lee. I've got all sorts of blood in me but whichever way you look at it I am what I am and, to be honest, I've not much interest in my family's historical past. I suppose that could be because my maternal grand uncle spent a great deal of his time (long before computers etc) travelling around the country researching church records etc and produced our lineage going back to the Normans. My brother, who is interested in such matters, says that there is a 'leap of faith' around the 1500s if I remember correctly.

    On a more mundane not it is many years since I heard of Rumbledethumps. They are a Lowland speciality and I'm not sure that I've ever heard of them in the Highlands and Islands.

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    1. Hi Graham...the recipes are just some Scottish recipes to suit the tone. Personally, I've never made any of the recipes I've put on this particular post. :)

      My interest in my heritage started when I was a child listening to the stories our Nana told us. She was proud of her heritage, and I guess, in a way, that has passed onto me...but I don't delve into it all too much. It was just something of late that kick-started my interest and memories again.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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    2. I should have said that my ambivalence is towards the genealogy and not stories of recent past people. I love hearing about the latter both for my own family and the families of others.

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    3. I figured as much. :)

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  13. My paternal grandparents were Irish and my maternal grandparents were Scottish. My brother once grew a beard when he was in college and it was bright red though his hair coloring was almost black. I am watching PEAKY BLINDERS by the way, and loving it. Thanks for the recommendation.

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    1. Hey there, Annie...It's no wonder, then, we like similar shows! lol

      I'm glad you're enjoying "Peaky Blinders". It gets better and better, and now I'm impatiently waiting for the next season to begin.

      I'd just finished bingeing on "Boardwalk Empire"...before switching over. I crossed the ocean to join Tommy Shelby and the Blinders. Cillian Murphy is brilliant in the role. Both series were based on the same era....which made the watching of both all the more enjoyable.

      Great series, both of them.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  14. Scottish and Irish history fascinate me. Thank you so much for sharing yours, Lee.

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    1. G'day, Sandra...if Scottish and Irish history fascinates you...you must watch "Outlander"...if you've not already watched the series. It is brilliant. I'm anxiously waiting for the next season to commence. I'm about to start reading the books. Fantastic fiction based on fact.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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    1. Obviously you are a Lowlander, Mr. Ad-Man...and obviously you find humour in such an offensive remark. It's a low shot, don't you agree?

      Thanks for dropping by. :)

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    2. Given that Mr Ad-Man has as his aim "Still trying to change the world for the better." it would be good if he started by not being unnecessarily offensive. Those of us whom he might be referring to as teuchters are, of course, used to it from Sassenachs.

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    3. Thank you, Graham. :)

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    4. IF you don't like it you know what yous can do.

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    5. What is your problem, Adullamite. I do not believe my post or I warrant your rudeness!

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  16. I have Scottish heritage on my father's side. We hail from the area around Dumfries. I do love all things Scottish, too. Wish I could come stand on the rock with you!

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    1. Me, too, Lynn....we would have a wonderful time, of that there is no doubt! I drove past it twice today on my way to and from the supermarket. It took all my strength not to stop! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  17. We used to make the tablet when we were schoolkids, only we called it fudge. It is not really like the fudge you get elsewhere, so now that has cleared up that little mystery of what it really was! More than delicious, but I don't think I could justify making it or eating it now. The potato dish sounds absolutely up my street particularly as I have the ingredients right there in the fridge, so that is today's supper sorted. The Irish and Scots who emigrated were incredibly tough people, quite amazing, weren't they? You must be proud to be descended from them.

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    1. G'day, Jenny. The fudge I guess we're most used to is chocolate fudge. I've not had fudge for many a long year. I'm a lover of dark chocolate and always have a supply on hand, but don't eat it every day, or even very often really. But it's there in my fridge for when the mood strikes!

      Yes...I like being of Scottish-Irish heritage...and I love being an Aussie! :)

      Thanks for coming by. I might just have to make the potato dish, too, now that you've given me a nudge! :)

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