Sunday, August 04, 2019


Further to my musings of my previous post referencing significant events and behaviours, which occurred in one portion of the globe during the 1800s, I have more thoughts to impart.

Across the world - not only in North America - it was a century of achievements and errors; a period replete with successes and failures; an era of positive thinking and actions, intermixed with negativity and hypocrisy. It was a century of inventions, and growth; of expanding horizons; of discoveries; of births and deaths; of senseless, heartless killings.

Throughout the engrossing documentaries relating no-holds-barred truths – many of which are ugly truths - about the opening up of North America’s West I was captivated by letters written during those years.  

The extent of time it took for a letter to reach its recipient is beyond my wildest imagination.

What impressed me immensely – something which stood out like a neon beacon on a hilltop - was the eloquent, poetic fluency of the hand-written letters, most of which were lengthy literary compositions for loved ones to treasure in the absence of the writer.  The command of the English language - the symmetry of the exquisitely emotively expressed written word  held my attention; captured my admiration.  

The potent, poignant beauty of the educated, descriptive prose is inspirational. 
The historical missives are pure, unfettered reminders of the past.  May the letters remain preserved, yet accessible to future generations.

Is letter-writing...a hand-written communication penned on paper...a lost art?  Sadly, I believe it is.  Who writes letters nowadays?  The answer is; “Very few people do!”  
Venturing further, I dare say even fewer letters are written with the eloquence of the scribes of past centuries. 

Communication between people nowadays is conducted in code, mostly indecipherable (not acceptable) to me. For old-fashioned-stick-in-the mud-me it’s a foreign language I’m not willing to learn.  It’s become obvious correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation play a small role in the modern world.  With Elvis, they have left the building.

While reading the newspaper the other day I was stunned by an article written by a journalist, who, I imagine, completed a degree in journalism.

Accompanied by a picture of a sole cyclist – one, solitary male, who stood alone on the roadside, the article informed the reader; “A cyclist was spotted on the side of the road in the Airport Link after riding their bicycle into the tunnel. The rider, who appeared to be a food-delivery driver with a large bag on their back, was seen cycling into the tunnel at the Bowen Hills entrance yesterday afternoon.  They used a roadside phone inside the tunnel as other motorists drove past them....”  The article continued in a similar vein.

The sole, singular, individual, solitary, lone cyclist, clearly visible as being only one person, was stubbornly, and relentlessly referred to by the journalist - one journalist who was a “he”  -  as “they, them and their”.   

I must have gone to a completely different school.  I certainly didn’t go to university and gain a degree in English or journalism.  

However, to my knowledge, as limited as it apparently is, the correct description of a sole male is “his, him, and he”.  A sole female is “her, she, and hers”.  For the record, “hers” is singular, not plural. 

They, the motorists who drove past the sole, single - maybe he was married...that I do not know - male cyclist, were plural in number.

In their cars, the motorists drove by him, the cyclist.  He who stood alone - by the side of the road; beside his bicycle, which wasn’t a tandem bicycle. 

I – we - hope the food didn’t spoil en route.

Footnote:  Via Netflix, I am presently watching another excellent  documentary mini-series by Ken Burns – “Ken Burns: The Roosevelts: An Intimate History”.   The documentary consists of seven episodes.  Again...recommended viewing...

One-Pot Chilli Beef: Thickly slice 3 brown onions and 3 red capsicums. Heat 2tbs olive oil in pot on high heat; add onion and capsicum; sauté 2-3mins. Add 400g beef mince, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2tsp cumin, 2ts coriander, 1tsp smoked paprika, 1tsp oregano and 1/2tsp cayenne; cook until browned. Add 400g tinned tomatoes, 1/2c rinsed, uncooked quinoa and 1-1/2c beef stock; stir until combined. When bubbling, reduce heat to low enough to just simmer. Cover pot, slightly ajar; allow to gently simmer 20-30mins, stirring occasionally, until quinoa has cooked completely and mixture is thick. Add further stock, if needed.

One-Pan Steak & Vegetables: In a small bowl, combine 3tbs butter, 1 minced garlic clove, 1tbs chopped parsley, 1-1/2tsp minced fresh thyme, 1-1/2gtsp lemon zest, salt and pepper; set aside. Season 2x1-1/2 inch thick sirloin steak. Melt 1tbs butter in a 12-inch skillet over med-high heat. Place steaks in middle of pan; cook until a dark crust has formed, about 4-5mins. Flip, and cook for an additional 4-5mins, or until desired doneness; set aside; keep warm. Melt 1tbs butter in the pan. Add 1 minced shallot, 500g fresh asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces and 240g halved mushrooms of choice. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3-4mins; serve immediately with steaks and butter mixture.

One-Pot Apple Cake: Preheat oven 150C. Grease 26cm cake tin; line base. Melt 250g butter in pot. Remove from heat; mix in 3-4 cored, peeled, thinly-sliced apples, 2c sugar, and 2 beaten eggs. Add 2-1/2c plain flour, 1tsp baking powder, 2tsp baking soda, 3tsp cinnamon, 1c sultanas or raisins, and 1/2c walnuts or pecan pieces; stir just enough to blend evenly. Spread into cake tin; bake until risen, golden and top bounces back, about 1hr 20mins. Cool 15mins; then turn out of tin.  Top with walnut or pecan pieces, if desired; dust with icing sugar before serving. Serve with cream or custard. 

Sunday, July 28, 2019


Crazy Horse
Sitting Bull
Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill
Wyatt Earp...Circa 1870

Lately, I’ve been broadening my knowledge. Some probably consider it necessary I do so. 

A few documentaries have grabbed my undivided attention.  In-depth mini-series documentaries relating to the opening up of North America’s west, in particular, have held me in awe. 

Mesmerised by the excellent “Robert Redford’s – The West”, an eight-part mini-series Redford created in 2016, I became engrossed from the first episode of the true history of the opening up of North America’s West...held captive by the wonders, and by the horrors of what occurred.

As a child, I loved watching Saturday afternoon matinee glamorised, fictionalised westerns on the big screen in Gympie’s Olympia Theatre.  Westerns starring actors such as Gene Autry, Audie Murphy, John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Jock Mahoney, Kirk Douglas, Rory Calhoun, Gary Cooper, among other popular stars. The movies were marshmallow “soft sells” compared to the truth of what actually went on in the 1800s.

Some interesting facts in Redford’s informative documentary referenced frontiersman, lawman Wyatt Earp.  

Around 3pm, 26th October, 1881, Earp and his good mate, dentist-gunfighter-sometime-gambler, John Henry “Doc” Holliday, survived the 30 second shoot-out at the O,K, Corral, Tombstone, Arizona.

Factually, the gunfight took place near a photographic studio, six doors west of the rear of the O.K. Corral. 

Earp spent the last few years of his incredibly interesting life as a consultant on silent movie sets, where he befriended well-known movie cowboys of the silent era, such as William S. Hart and Tom Mix. 

One young thespian eager to make shoot ‘em up, and knock ‘em down western movies...a young bloke named Marion Morrison, who later to became better known as John Wayne...learned a thing or two from Earp about the real goings-on in The West. Morrison/Wayne was a keen student and fan of the man.

In 1929, aged 80, Wyatt Earp bit the bullet.

Actor Kirk Douglas, after he glued his ears back on when he completed filming the story of Vincent Van Gogh, and before he removed his trousers to play “Spartacus”, starred as “Doc” Holliday in the 1957 movie, “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral”. 

Aged 102 years, Kirk Douglas has outlived most, if not all, of the cast and crew, I dare to declare.   

The late Burt Lancaster stood alongside Douglas in the film, playing the role of Wyatt Earp.   

Upon completion of Redford’s documentary I discovered another series about The West...“Ken Burns Presents - The West – a Film by Stephen Ives”, a 1996 production.  Also an eight-episode documentary, no punches were pulled in this extraordinary exposé of what went on in the 1800s through to the early 1900s. 

Stepping forward, not afraid to tell the truth, like an open book, the ugliness, the reality of what occurred is there for all to see, and learn.

Frequently, I was angered and disgusted by the ignorance and arrogance of those who believed their way was the right way. Often, tears filled my eyes.

I then came across another documentary series by Ken Burns – “The Civil War”.  Presently, I’m watching the final chapter of this particular documentary series.

The story it tells also beggars belief. It's difficult to wrap one's head around it.

The documentaries by both Burns and Redford, in my opinion, are necessary viewing – not only for oldies like me, but for younger generations, too. 

“Blazing Saddles”, they ain’t! 

Both Burns and Redford deserve high acclaim – admiration of the highest degree - for having the guts to tell the stories...warts and all...not hiding from the truth; for not concealing or disguising the truth.

What occurred in the 1800s – in one century, in one country, for example – the incredible advancements; the massive mistakes (many of which are still being made today throughout the world – and, no doubt, because humans don’t learn from past errors, will continue being made), shouldn’t be hidden away, or glamorised; nor should they be forgotten.

In the 1800s, conflicts blotted the earth’s landscape, wide and far afield. The invasions, the bloodshed not only occurred in North America.

Humans are slow learners in many avenues.

The history of man...since the year dot...needs to be in the forefront of our knowledge; of our learning.  Humans must be reminded of the ignorance; of the arrogance of their behaviour; of how brutal they have been, and continue being toward each other.  

Religion in its many forms...and those who force their religious beliefs on others need to be held responsible for the unnecessary shedding of blood.  The arrogance of believing their way is the right way...the only the root of all evil, in my opinion.  Far too much blood has been shed in the name of religion.

Read the history documentaries such as those described above.   

The colour of one’s skin doesn’t make one right, either.  “Caucasians”, “whites” have a lot to answer for and to. What a cheek the “white man” had forcing his beliefs on the American Indians, people of high intelligence with their own long-held convictions and traditions.

Quote: “The ancestors of living Native Americans arrived in what is now the United States at least 15,000 years ago, possibly much earlier, from Asia via Beringia. (the land bridge between Siberia and Alaska – long gone). A vast variety of peoples, societies and cultures subsequently developed. Native Americans were greatly affected by the European colonization of the Americas, which began in 1492, and their population declined precipitously mainly due to introduced diseases as well as warfare, including biological warfare, territorial confiscation and slavery. After its creation, the United States, as part of its policy of settler colonialism, waged war and perpetrated massacres against many Native American peoples, removed them from their ancestral lands, and subjected them to one-sided treaties and to discriminatory government policies into the 20th century. Since the 1960s, Native American self-determination movements have resulted in changes to the lives of Native Americans, though there are still many contemporary issues faced by Native Americans. Today, there are over five million Native Americans in the United States - 78% of whom live outside reservations.”  End Quote

Disappointingly, and frustratingly, one comes to the sad, upsetting conclusion humans will never learn from past and present errors – are incapable of learning.

The proof is in the pudding. We’re surrounded by the mire, with no indication of it dissipating.

What a wonderful a world it would be if the situation were otherwise. 

Is it too much to hope for? 

Spicy Cowboy Beans: Preheat oven 175C; lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Chop 8 thick bacon rashes, or speck into 3-1/2cm (1-inch) pieces; cook in pan until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon; set aside to drain. on paper-lined plate. Pour off bacon grease, leaving about 2tbs in pan. Add 1 chopped onion and 2 or 3 seeded, finely chopped jalapenos; cook until soft, about 5mins. Remove from heat. Add 2x420g cans smoked baked beans (or combination of baked, black and/or cannellini beans), 1/2c tomato sauce, 1/3c brown sugar, 1/4c molasses, 2tbs mustard, 1tbs cider vinegar, 1tbs Worcestershire sauce, 1tsp chilli powder, 1/2tsp cayenne pepper to pan; stir to mix. Transfer to baking dish. Sprinkle bacon and jalapeno slices on top. Bake 60mins, uncovered. If you like your beans really thick, bake an extra 20 minutes.

Marshmallow Peanut Tart: Process 250g choc ripple biscuits until finely chopped; add 125g melted butter; process until just combined; press into base and side of 3cm-deep, 23cm loose-based round, fluted flan tin. Chill until firm. Place 32 vanilla marshmallows, 2tbs milk and 3/4c smooth peanut paste in saucepan over med-low heat; cook, stirring, until melted and smooth. Transfer to a bowl; let cool for 5 mins.  Using an electric mixer, beat 300ml thickened cream and 1/2tsp vanilla until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cream to marshmallow; stir to combine; fold in remaining cream; spoon into prepared case. Sprinkle with 1/4c roughly chopped, salted roasted peanuts. Chill 3 to 4 hours or until set; serve.