Sunday, December 31, 2006

One Endless Night!

'Tis the 31st December, 2006! My last day of 2006 began at 3.30am - why did I wake at that early hour? I really have no answer to give, other than perhaps I wanted the last day of 2006 to linger longer...I wanted to stretch it out as far as I possibly could! Life is like that sometimes. At times, I get weary. I get 'down'. I want to disappear from the world and humanity, but in saying that, also I want to savour every precious moment. Once the moment is gone, it can never be repeated! Time trudges on unforgiving, sometimes cruelly...other times kindly. Life is a asks many questions of one. I'm yet to find all the right answers. I never will, but it sure as hell is interesting, intriguing and inspiring trying!

Dear friends...a couple...husband and wife...came to lunch today. They arrived around 11am and departed full of good cheer almost six hours later, give a minute or three. A most enjoyable, laughter-filled afternoon ensued. Of course, we ate far over our limits...but what's new, amongst good company? It goes without having to say...we sipped on a few grape juices, also! Copious amounts of all things that tickle the palate! Our whistles were well-moistened!

Now I am back to being me with me. For a while as the sun, hidden by a shroud of high, grey cloud, descended below the far horizon, I sat outside enjoying the peaceful ambience of late afternoon. Raucous white cockatoos made a rowdy farewell to 2006 or an early welcome to 2007, as they flew and swooped across the sky above. Do you think they wanted me to invite them down to have a drink with me? Maybe I should have!

Subconsciously, I think my Scottish heritage came to haunt me. The lunchtime debris has been cleaned, washed, covered (what little there is left of it!) and put away. The dining table is back in its rightful position. Even the floor has been swept! As is the Scottish tradition, I now await my tall, handsome, dark-haired gentleman to be the first to cross my threshold at the stroke of midnight! I have the right candidate chosen for this duty! Unfortunately, he is thousands of miles away! But, hey! I can pretend...I'm great at pretending! He is here in spirit, whether he knows it or not...his spirit will always be with me...New Year's Eve or not!

Being part of dusk falling is an awesome matches being a part of the golden, fiery master...the sun, rise. Many sunrises I've witnessed...if I'm lucky...and still awake, I might be here, sitting on my patio, part of tomorrow's first, silent entrance. I'm in 'that' kind of mood this evening. Even if I don't make it through to sun rise...I will see the New Year in...that is a promise...not a threat!

A light, gentle, balmy breeze interrupts the sleep of the leaves upon the trees. They're not protesting. The caress of its soft, gossamer breaths of air is a soothing lullaby.

In case you have been wondering...I am going to have a most pleasant New Year's Eve. I hope your New Year's Eve is likewise enjoyed.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy New Year!

As we travel through the last day of 2006, let's reflect upon the good times with a smile on our face. I didn't win the $33m or even the smallest part thereof, so all my plans have been put aside! Although the dream remains for another day.

The tantalizing aromas of today's lunch are wafting from my oven throughout my cabin. The table is set. The glasses are polished. The champagne and white wine are chilling and the red is about to be opened to breathe. All is ready except me and I'm about to step under the shower.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year. May all your dreams...the good ones, come into fruition in 2007. Stay safe everyone. Be happy and enjoy!

Friday, December 29, 2006

In This Word Picture...Pick The Animal!

A small article in today's paper caught my eye and attention.

"Man sets dog on to policeman to avoid being arrested."

The 'man' concerned will spend the rest of the year behind bars after setting his dog on to police, who had been called to a domestic dispute at a home in suburban Ipswich, south-west of Brisbane. When the police officers attempted to arrest him, he set his cattle dog onto the police. One officer was taken to hospital for treatment to bites to his calf and his knee. The arrested 'man' appeared before a specially convened session of the Ipswich Magistrate's Court and was remanded in custody until February 21 when he will face several charges, including assault occasioning bodily harm, serious assault and obstructing and assaulting police.

The cattle dog was surrendered to the council and will be destroyed by the owner's request!

There is something very, very wrong in this picture! The poor innocent dog was only doing what its owner commanded it to do! I see no reason for it being 'put down' and this upsets me!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Arrrrrghhhhh! People!

I popped into the local little service station while I was out picking up some bananas, kiwi fruit, blue berries and strawberries for a pavlova I intend making for part New Year's Eve luncheon menu.

After paying for my fuel purchase, I hopped in my car in preparation to drive out when a woman driving in with her car facing mine, called out to me, "Do you want to drive out this way?" Well, it was very obvious that "Yes" would be my answer and intention, as, after all, I was facing that way. However, feeling a little left-over seasonal good cheer still running through my veins, I called back to her, "No...don't worry, I'll reverse up and go around!"

There I was in rather a cramped space with a bright yellow 'wheelie bin' strategically placed behind me and a huge 4x4 Toyota with its massive dark red nose jutting out at the opposite side of the bowser I'd been using with its elderly, anxious-looking owner watching my every move. I smiled, waved and said, "Don't worry, I won't hit you!"

After two negotiations, I safely, undamaged and without damaging another or a yellow wheelie bin, I went on my merry way, smiling but muttering under my breath, "Stupid people!"

Karma has to be kind to me with Saturday's $33m lotto!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

We Are Sailing....

With the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race well under way, I have had cause to remember and reflect upon my first experience with the Townsville to Hinchinbrook Island Yacht Race while I was managing the resort.

The resort, at Cape Richards on Hinchinbrook Island, catered for 30 guests, 45 maximum, if more than two guests occupied a cabin. Fifteen free-standing cabins dotted in amongst the tropical growth bordered the foreshore along Orchid Beach. Our advertising logo showed lone footprints along a deserted beach (something that has since been adopted by others many times)..."a million miles from everywhere". The only telephone on the island was in my office with an extension to my home. No televisions graced the cabins or the restaurant area.

The air throbbed with excitement as the commencement of the race drew near. The yachts set sail from Townsville late on the Friday afternoon. All night long I remained close to the radio in my office, receiving regular updates of their whereabouts. I received word the first yacht was due to arrive around 2.30am. With much fanfare and elation, I greeted the winning yacht, inviting the crew to join me in the restaurant. Offering them refreshments, of course, they all chose beer or rum over coffee or tea. One by one further boats arrived. I spent the early hours of the morning greeting, meeting and attending to their avid thirsts. Around 7am, the first of my staff wandered down bleary-eyed. Soon their eyes popped open wide when they saw the crowds of happy sailors and the 'dead-marines' (aka 'empties'). At one table, empty cans of beer were piled high in a pyramid of proud glory.

We fired up the large barbecue on the deck to serve a welcome hot breakfast to both my guests and to the yachtsmen and women. The contracted boat from Cardwell docked around 9am with further guests. The seaplane arrived at mid-day bearing more. The island was swaying under its buoyant, lively load!

Boats kept arriving throughout the day. I lost count of the numbers of both boats, crew and resort guests. A huge celebration was planned for the evening. My resort guests were warned about the abnormal crowd and none were upset. Ripples of excitement flowed contagiously amongst everyone, guests and staff alike. My staff prepared themselves for the long day and night ahead. At that stage, I probably had 12-14 staff only! Everyone was on 'board' that weekend. Those not normally utilized as bar people quickly became in tune with serving behind a bar! They had no other choice! Laughter and much noise filled the air. The island wallabies viewed the unusual proceedings from afar wondering what the hell was happening to their normally peaceful surroundings.

Late afternoon everyone, yachties and guests alike, congregated on the large deck surrounding the pool, spilled out from the restaurant/bar area and hugged the gardens to the side of the main building.

Presentations were made to the winners of the race and to the handicappers before a barbecue feast was laid out. A festive mood heightened rapidly as the music grew louder and the merry-go-round of liquid refreshments flowed freely. The high-spirited crowd, of which I estimated around 250-300, were flushed with good cheer. The night was alive with rollicking, playful antics.

Around midnight the pool tempted many, of course. I could see by the looks on the faces of others, mischief was planned with me to be their chosen victim. That night I wore an off-the-shoulder, flowing black cotton dress. I had had three of similar style made especially as part of my restaurant in black, one white and one a sunny yellow. The design suited the tropics as it was cool, loose and tiered down to my ankles.

Always liking to be 'one step ahead' I went to the pool's edge and jumped in, feet first, much to the dismay of the good-natured conspirators! My black dress went up in the air, floating on the pool's surface like a huge black butterfly or moth! I swam across the pool amidst cheering and applause, satisfied I had short-circuited their evil plan! I raced back to my house and changed into dry clothes, re-emerging to continue on with the motley!

The party continued until dawn and thereafter. A champagne breafast/brunch followed. People were coming and going, some looking the worse for wear! I had had no sleep since the Thursday night. I knew none was coming my way until that night, Sunday. I survived on adrenalin and had no time to even think about sleep.

I had no idea who were my resort guests or who were off the yachts. So, I decided the best thing to do was just wait until the yachts left, as the majority of them were leaving sometime during the Sunday, whomever was left over were my resort guests! To add to the mayhem, the sea plane made its normal delivery, depositing further guests around mid-day. Somehow, it all worked out...don't ask me how, but it did. I think it was a bit like that night at "Scaramouche" restaurant I described to you in a previous post when we were over-booked to the hilt. I don't believe in panicking in such situations as that only makes matters worse. Things work way or the other and if done with good humour and a touch of insanity, all the better! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

It was a great weekend full of hilarious, memorable moments. And through it all, there was not one hassle, not one unhappy, complaining soul.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

All Over Bar the Shouting!

Now we're on the count-down to the end of 2006. I wonder if 2007 will go as quickly as this year did! I think it will be even quicker, unfortunately! I want to be a kid again when the years seemingly went on forever!

My Christmas Day was quiet as I'd hoped it would be. A couple of friends popped in for a little while in the morning for a glass or two of good cheer and then they went on their merry ways. I spent most of the day reading quietly in my little corner of the world. Not a sound could be heard in my neck of the woods. I was the only one stirring as neighbours in the surrounding properties were away visiting family, loved ones and friends.

Wonderful, welcome rain commenced during Christmas night, lingering throughout Boxing Day. And it's still raining at present. Not that I needed much of an excuse, but with the rain falling gently upon my roof, I didn't venture outside yesterday, Boxing Day, opting to stay curled up in my cabin with my two best friends, Remy and Shama...they had no desire to get their paws wet. With a good book, the cricket, my two little mates and wishing not to partake in the outside world or mingle with those in it, I had a very cosy day hidden away. Later, in the afternoon I cooked some scallops and prawns in a white wine/cream/ garlic sauce, sharing some with my furry two. A friend telephoned me early last night. We talked and laughed for almost four hours! And 'they' say women can talk! I had to grab a moment when he took a breath to slip a word in...and that wasn't often!!! Other friends of mine who went south earlier in December rang me before that lengthy call saying they would be back home here on the mountain for New Year's Eve. I promptly invited them for lunch on New Year's Eve. I hadn't realised how much I'd missed them since they've been away. I had nothing planned for New Year, (but piles of food) so it'll be great to have them here for one of our decadent, raging lunches! We three always have a great time. We're kindred spirits who enjoy good food and wine, mixed together with interesting debates, lots of craziness and laughter. They're coming home sooner than they'd originally planned so I guess they've been missing their 'home on the range'. I'm looking forward to Sunday when they come to lunch. Of course, my luncheons are lengthy affairs so I'm prepared for a long afternoon going into the evening, commencing around 11 am!

I know you might all jump on me for saying this, but I'll be glad when things settle down to some form of normality again. I always find Christmas/New Year kind of 'forced' celebrations, ones in which we're all pressured to 'perform'. I guess that's why now I fly low under the radar at this time of the year, only to poke my head up again after it's all over to view the 'remains of the day'.

Well, I'm off to have a long, warm shower as the rain continues to fall. The Aussies are disgracing themselves in the cricket so far this morning, so I'll add them to my list of disgusts and disappointments for the moment! My biggest disappointment of all....naaa...I won't tell you....I'll keep that to myself! I'll let the soothing water of the shower wash away my 'blues'. May the plug hole welcome them with open drain pipes!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Day Has Arrived!

I awoke very early, only to be disappointed! Santa didn't leave me what I asked and wished for! Actually, silly looks like he by-passed my cabin altogether. He probably couldn't find me because of all the trees! I guess I'll have to drink the vodka I left out for him myself, now!

The moments are ticking by, slowly, until it's time for me to make my first bellini. It's only 9am as I write, so I guess it's a little too early yet to pop a cork on the champagne...but then it must be 5pm somewhere in the world! I know where...perhaps I can pretend I'm there! It's still Christmas Eve where it's 5pm in the world, so that's popping cork time, I reckon! I'm getting a bit thirsty...after all, I have been up out of bed since 4.30am! I beat the birds this morning, I think!

All is ready. I've made an antipasto. Bowls of fruit, lollies/candy, nuts, ginger together with the cake, mince tarts are waiting to be attacked. The prawns, oysters, calamari and sea scallops will be just right when the time comes for me to attend to those. I've yet to whip cream for the pavlova...but that can wait until much later. Let's not rush things. Today, I am going to relax, enjoy my music. An array of classical music is playing at present. As the day progresses the tempo will become more upbeat! I've picked out a vast selection, including Matchbox 20, Queen, Lynryd Skynryd, Guy Clark, Santana, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Willie, of course, Canned Heat, B.B.King's 'Duet' CD, Amazing Rhythm Aces, plus others that take my listening fancy along the way. I may even toss in a bit of Reo, and perhaps, a bit of Julio when I'm feel like listening to some romantic melodies.

The cats have been warned and greeted with Christmas cuddles. Once the seafood appears, Remy, my male cat, in particular will be close by. His sister, Shama, cares little about what I eat, but Remy, well, he's different story all together! I've more than enough food to go around....ten-fold or more!

I hope you all have/had a wonderful Christmas. I'll send all my good wishes your way...together with a few hugs thrown in for good measure!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

To Be Totally Honest!

Many of us 'knock' the USA..(I'm not one of the "us" who knock the States...and I guess those of you who have followed my blog know that already).... I'm sitting here, enjoying a couple of drinks....I'm in 'party mode'...I've got my stereo playing...five CDs at a the moment 'Alabama' is making me bop along to their music. As I'm listening to the music I've placed in my player, I've came to the not-new-revelation...there is no doubt the US make some really great music. Don't misunderstand me...we, here in Aus, do have some great artists...but...hey! One has to be honest!

I have a very varied taste in music. I explain to those who are willing to listen that I have a 'Catholic taste in music'...universal of taste is wide ranging...all embracing. I have a huge collection of music...LPs, cassettes, CDs....and radio....of all genres...stupidly, I don't spend enough time listening to my own collection. I play the radio a lot! Tonight, I am letting it flow...well...a teeny-weeny bit of it!

Oh! Dear!

I didn't mean to shout my last post! I tried every thing to bring it down to size...but blogger won't let me alter it! Sorry, folks...I didn't mean to be so loud!

Friday, December 22, 2006

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas with family, loved ones and friends. I will raise a large glass of good cheer to you all. (I think that's safer than raising a glass to each one of you! I would like to see the day through and into the New Year!)

Christmas Eve is almost here. I'm searching around for a suitable pillow case to hang on the end of my bed! I think if Santa comes a-calling, I might kidnap him! I'll make enough egg nog to tempt him into staying! Sorry folks...but he's mine for the night! Oh! Okay! If you insist! I'll release him from my decadent clutches! My knight in shining armour is missing in action...his armour must be rusty by now! He has no navigation skills at is very apparent! To be honest, I think he has forgotten all about me! He doesn't know what he is missing! Silly man!

I even went to a couple of Christmas parties. He didn't turn up there, either! I've just arrived home from a Christmas party. All day I didn't feel like going out. When push came to shove, I didn't want to come home! I had a ball! Isn't it funny? It always me, anyway...when I feel like not attending a 'do'...I end up have a blast! So, I'm continuing the party here at home with me and me!

At the party were couples, except for lil' ole me and the mother of the hostess. And, Dorothy, the hostess's Mum is one great lady! She is 89 years of young! Both she and I complained that no one thought of our needs! What's new? One would think that our friends/family at Christmas time, at least, could find a suitable candidate for us! But such luck! To me, the best Christmas present I have received or will receive this year is meeting and talking with Dorothy. She has made me understand I am not strange at all. No matter what anyone says...even me...we all would like to have a kindred spirit by our sides. Times during my crazy life I've thought I'd met my 'kindred spirit'...'thought' being the operative word!

Oh! Well...I'll just dream on! Sometimes the dreaming is better as in those I can create my perfect beau...ummm...I shan't elaborate, so don't ask me to!

Enough of the all enjoy yourselves. I'm going to do so. My refrigerator is groaning from its load of things-that-are-good-to-eat and bottles-of-liquid-great-to-drink! All is ready and I am, too!

The best thing of all we can do is to remember the good times. Every happy Christmas we have had. Every one we've spent times with the people we care about...the hopes, the anticipation of when we were children.. The Christmases we have spent with those we have loved as we've grown older. Whether it be Christmas or other times, never forget the emotions. Forget the bad Christmases...the sad ones. We have all had our share of them. Remember the happy times we have shared with those who no longer are with us. Smile...share a moment's silence in remembrance. It doesn't matter if you are by yourself or with, enjoy, reflect on the good times...the mad times...relive every magic moment...add to them...look to the doesn't stop until you let it! Recall the love...relive it...remember the laughter...repeat it...never let go of hope, faith, need, want, desire and of who you are.

And remember...the gift of your presence is the most precious present of all.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Further Escapades of Christmas Day On Hinchinbrook Island...

Christmas Day arrived amidst all its fanfare. After bouncing back from our Christmas Eve celebrations that carried on into the wee small hours of Christmas morning, the guests, my staff and I were ready for a hectic (for us) but fun (for us and them) day. I had volunteered, David, my head chef to be Santa Claus. Now, you must remember Hinchinbrook Island is in tropical North Queensland. It was hot! David, not a slim young man by any shape or form but who had a sense of madness and humour as large as his body, willingly accepted my decree. We had great fun dressing him in a Santa's costume (I have no idea where I found the costume!), adding more cushions to his already bulky frame.

I'd organised small gifts for the guests, who included a few children. My older brother was working with me at the time. For once, he had to obey me as I was his 'boss'! He 'volunteered' as Santa's Helper! Some help he turned out to be! We loaded up a huge laundry sack with presents. Graham, my brother arrived with a ladder to enable Santa to climb upon the rather expansive roof of the restaurant/bar/kitchen. Of course, this all occurred in the heat of the midday sun! What do they say about "Mad dogs and Englishmen"? Well, we were neither but we were insane Aussies!

David aka Santa, in all his glory ran around the roof, "Ho-Ho-Hoing" all the way, much to the delight of our guests, amongst whom was a Japanese family! I bet they've never forgotten the sight of Santa upon the roof in the heat of summer!

It was time for Santa to descend to begin distributing the presents among the already hysterical guests! However, the performance was to get worse or funnier! Santa's Helper, ladder under his arm, was at one end of the building, propping the ladder against the guttering to enable Santa to climb down, except everytime Santa's Helper was on one side of the building, Santa was on the opposite side. They just couldn't sychronise their movements and positions. This went on for many minutes. As the moments went by, the laughter grew louder and Santa's face grew redder from, not only the heat of the day, but from his bulky attire. There was great 'to-do' going on. All of us watching the hilarious antics of these two had tears running down our faces, pains in our stomachs from laughing as we strangled, gasping for air!

Finally, Santa and his Helper connected around about where the radio mast stood aloft on the wall outside my office, amongst the gas bottles. It didn't end there! As Santa began his descent he dropped the sack full of presents! Naturally, it landed on the head of my brother!

Eventually, the presents were distributed with much ado. Champagne corks popped and champagne flowed freely. The fun continued throughout lunch. I've never seen such happy guests. I'll always remember, particularly, the Japanese family. I'm sure they'd never experienced anything like it before, nor would they have since.

Ahhh...the halcyon days of island life!
Kicking And Squealing!

The decision is cut and dried! The Tattersall's Club in Brisbane is to remain a man's domain, not allowing women to become full members (pun included!). Good for them, I say! A few disgruntled women expressed their dismay over the decision, so be it! If they want a club similar to what the Tattersall's Club has on offer, let them start their own. I've commented on this in a previous post and I still stand by my opinion. Let the men have their club. It is their right. They started it way back when. Rampant, raging feminism is long gone. It's about time women like Sarina Russo realised this and put their money where their mouths are. They need to start looking around for a suitable building in the city and get "crackin'"!

Sucked In...Weakened...The Spirit Has Grabbed Hold,Threatening to Strangle Me!'

I attended the neighbourhood Christmas party last night. There are only 5 homes in this small court in which I live and the inhabitants of two of those are away over the Christmas/New Year period, but a couple of neighbours from across the way and some from even further across the way made up the numbers! It was a fun evening. We sipped on champagne, red and white wine and Crown Lagers while 'oohing and aahhing' over and succumbing to the vast spread of tempting food on offer. Many a tall stories were exchanged! Lots of laughter and goodwill spread throughout the evening's frivolities. I enjoyed myself. Months go by before I see some of my neighbours, so it's nice to catch up over Christmas cheer.

Now, I've got the bug! Today I am making cakes and other delectable delicacies! Oh! Dear! What have I started? I'll be eating Christmas fare until June, 2007 at the rate I'm going! Maybe I'll set up a stall outside the property when the festivities have passed and sell what's left over!

I'm off to another Christmas party tomorrow evening at the other end of the mountain. What diet? Did I hear someone mention 'diet'? Surely not!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

That Got Me Thinking!

I got 'tagged'! I'm supposed to give six things that are weird about me. This is a huge dilemma in which I find myself! Firstly, as I know little about 'tagging' and 'MeMe', that makes me weird for starters. Narrowing weird things about me down to six only is weird in itself! I have no idea where to begin. It would be easier for others to list what they think is weird about me as I'm sure there are many out there who think I'm very weird! There's not enough room in 'blogger' to list the weird things about me!

What I think is weird about me, perhaps others don't, and vice versa. Is it weird that I've not yet met my knight in shining armour, although I've auditioned quite a few? Or should I rephrase and say some have auditioned? Is it weird I enjoy my own space, company and living alone?

This is what I will do. I will let the "six-would-be-tagged" persons I'm supposed to tag, off the hook (this makes it easier for me. I'm doing myself more of a favour than I am you!) Instead I'm going to list a few of the things people do that annoy me. Perhaps from this following list, you can work out for yourselves my 'weird' quirks.

Things I Find Annoying...(Or Make Me Angry)

People who say they are going to do something then don't follow through
Snobs, whether social or intellectual
People who talk over others...who are more interested in hearing their own voices than listening to another
Bad Hygeine
Bad manners, including bad table manners
Tactless, thoughtless people any form
No sense of humour/of the ridiculous
Abuse of others...mental/emotional and physical
People who say, for reasons known only to themselves, that they never watch television, and yet, can quote verbatim sections from various programmes!
Being taken for granted
Anyone who tries (and/or succeeds) to belittle another
Unnecessary vulgarity
Predators of the human variety

My own impatience with myself annoys me, too...I guess that can be added to the "what's weird about me" list, together with always washing my face with cold water after showering.

I always start at the same end of the supermarket and work my way up and down the aisles finishing at the meat section at the opposite end before hitting the check-out when grocery shopping. I always unload my purchases at the check-out by placing similar items together to make it easier for the check-out girl to pack my goods...e.g...cold goods together, vegetables and fruit together, toiletries, so on and so on.

I hate shopping in large shopping centres! Living up on the mountain is great because shopping up here has a 'village-atmosphere" which I love. I rarely, and then only kicking and screaming, go down to the Gold Coast. If I have the choice, I prefer to head to the small country town of Beaudesert if I need to purchase something that's not available here on the mountain. Friends of mine think this is very weird of me...they love going shopping down the coast and drive down there at least, once a week, sometimes two or three times! Not me! That is not my style at all!

Another thing that is really weird about me is I'm not fond of being out at sea in a boat...yet, when I lived on Newry Island, I drove the island boat and had to row the dinghy out to the mooring every time I needed to use the 21-foot Trojan DeHavilland to go to the mainland to either pick up guests or provisions. It was different being the skipper, even though I'd never driven a boat before I lived on Newry, being in control of the boat, I never became sea sick. I didn't have another option. I lived on the island alone!!! I suppose being a woman, living on the island alone and managing it alone was weird, too. Lots of people would ask me if I was scared/nervous living on the island alone. My answer: "If I was that kind of person, I wouldn't be doing it, would I?"

I love flying in light/small aircraft. I hate Fraser Island!

All of the above is enough information about myself for now and more than enough for you to work on! Count yourself lucky I've not 'tagged' you! That's my Christmas present to you!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

One Strand of Hair Left!!!!

I will be polite and not say what I really want to say! To be honest, I think I've used every expletive in the book this morning, and some not yet invented! I've been having no end of problems trying to write a new post in here! Too much snow on the lines? Not would melt! Anyway, I've calmed down a teeny-weeny bit as I managed to get in here to post by using my OLD account! Who am I to questions the ways and means of blogger!

So to vent my rage, I'm posting a poem I wrote a couple of weeks ago. I hope you like it.

Carnival of Torment

I star in life's carnival veiled in my disguise hiding my torment
Concealed from the games you play your art of manipulation
Offender of my heart I am now accustomed to my discontent
Borrowed instances of happiness are a momentary aberration

Walking as if in someone else's skin I am a face lost in a crowd
Has it ever occurred to you the damage caused by your deceit
Despairing bitter suffering envelops me like a long grey shroud
Confused tortured by my inadequacies forlornly I admit defeat

In the darkness here in the real world I give my plaintive cry intense
Rendered in the midnight hour abducted by the wind jarring echoes
Shall I ever learn to breathe again soften a heart hardened in defense
Will someone be my saviour shall my tears keep falling like dominoes

Maybe a day will come when at last I shall be able to return the favour
Or perhaps I will abandon the pain stow away from the torture you cause
Detour past the hazard of you a search for happiness to be my endeavour
No negative threads left of you no longer thoughts of you to give me pause

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Closer It Gets....

My memory bank is in over-drive at this time of the year. Reflecting back to times past. To friends and family no longer here. Lovers, at one time or the other the centre of attention and emotions, no more part of my reality or mine of theirs. Alone in my memories of them, I doubt they spend a moment or two thinking of me. Maybe one or two do. Christmas sets the wheels of the mind in motion.

Christmas Day on Hinchinbrook Island quickly approached. The resort was booked to its limits. My staff, some of whom were experiencing their first Christmas away from their families and loved ones, were of mixed emotions. Excited with the prospect of spending Christmas on an island and yet, a little sorrowful at not being around the Christmas tree exchanging presents with their families. Sensing their feelings, I warned the guests ahead of the day that once Christmas lunch was over in the restaurant it was then to be my staff's 'time' as they, too, must be able to enjoy Christmas. Everyone was very understanding. We set a long table out on the large deck surrounding the pool in eager anticipation for the afternoon.

Christmas Eve was full of good cheer and much gaiety as the staff and guests mingled around the bar before and after dinner. My head chef, David, who was a character much loved by staff and guests alike was in full form, regaling stories to everyone within earshot. At around 2.30am Christmas morning, he jumped up, letting go of an apt expletive or three, stating he had forgotten to put the whole suckling pig on to cook! Christmas lunch was to be an elaborate buffet complete with the traditional fare and an abundance of fresh seafood.

As the revellers meandered their merry ways back to their cabins, David and I were left to keep watch on the forgotten pig! From memory, I managed to slip in about an hour's nap before rising, showering, dressing and racing back to the restaurant. I had told my two chefs I would prepare all the salads, freeing them up to attend to all other preparations. With the adrenalin flowing at high speed, I gave no thought to my lack of sleep and the previous night's indulgences.

Lunch was a major success, with the guests arriving promptly at 11.30am to begin the celebratory feast. Sated and drowsy, like satisfied goannas, they drifted off to wherever they could find a welcoming bed, palm tree or shady she-oak to digest their gigantic meal around 2.30pm.

The fun commenced for us after the last guests left. With no opportunity to visit stores on the mainland, I'd decided the best Christmas presents I could give my staff was a bottle of their favourite alcoholic beverage. I gift-wrapped a couple of cartons full of Scotch, rum, bourbon, gin, vodka and whatever else took their fancies. I'd commandeered the skipper of the contracted island boat to purchase Christmas stockings, enough for each member of my staff. We gathered around the decorated table out on the deck, popping champagne corks and settled in for a fun afternoon. My staff presented me with a beautiful set of crystal Scotch glasses and a bottle of Johnny Walker Black with which to christen them. Poppers and slime, funny eye glasses, plastic rings and all such goodies from the stockings soon made a fine mess of our surroundings. The pool was too inviting and we couldn't refuse its offer. We all ended up in the pool, talking and laughing amongst ourselves. It was a wonderful Christmas for us wonderful, in fact, dusk had long fallen. We had forgotten all about our guests!

Fortunately, having eaten so much at lunchtime, they arrived late, some not at all, for dinner. Dinner, being a re-arrangement of the luncheon fare. Everyone had had their fill and much more at lunch, so had little appetite at dinner. Soon sleepily, though happy, they wandered back to their accommodations, leaving us to clean up as we reminisced over a wonderful day spent together as a 'family'.
Bad To The Bone....

Notorious "Catch Me If You Can" con-man, Peter Foster, is on the lam again! He's skipped bail in Fiji, not making it for a court appearance. Nobody knows his whereabouts. One would think it would pretty easy to locate a missing chubby, ageing, scarred white man in Fiji but obviously it's not. Maybe he's donned his y-fronts or 'budgie smugglers' and is swimming his way to the Galapagos!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Yahoo!!!!!!!!!!! Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!...Waltzing Matilda...All The Way!

Need I say more? What a great Ashes Test Series! Whooooohoooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guess who won!
Now I've Started Something!

Following my previous post, I got thinking about my favourite movies. In no particular order, I list some of my favourites...where to begin?

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Breakfast at Tiffanys
My Left Foot
Witches of Eastwick
Message In a Bottle
Out of Africa
La Dolce Vita
Tea with Mussolini
The Yearling
Cross Creek
Come Back to the Five & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
Unbearable Lightness of Being
Easy Rider
What's Eating Gilbert Grape
Five Easy Pieces
Some Like It Hot
Dr Zhivago
The Way We Were
Garden State
The Graduate
Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas
On the Waterfront
The Hustler
Blue Lagoon (First version with Jean Simmons)
Cool Hand Luke
The Red Shoes
Educating Rita
East of Eden
It's a Wonderful Life
Raising Arizona
To Catch a Thief
A Place in the Sun
To Kill a Mockingbird
Suddenly Last Summer
White Palace
The Man Who Fell To Earth
Last Tango In Paris
Field of Dreams
The Deer Hunter
The Pawnbroker
Betsy's Wedding
Something's Gotta Give
On Golden Pond
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Zorba the Greek (and the book!)
Four Weddings and a Funeral
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (ditto!)
The Big Chill
Somebody Up There Likes Me
Broadcast News
Godfather 1 & 2
Gone with the Wind
The Horse Whisperer (and the book!)
Prince of Tides
9-1/2 Weeks
Mr Roberts
About Schmidt
As Good As It Gets
Terms of Endearment
A River Runs Through It
The Natural
All The President's Men
The Great Gatsby
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Bitter Moon
Henry & June
Roman Holiday
A Man and a Woman

I warned you! I know I will think of more as the day goes by! (As I'm watching the cricket!)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Good Taste!

A survey of Queensland's favourite read has chosen Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" as Number 1. And what a wonderful book it is. Who else but Gregory Peck could have played 'Atticus' in the film? Nobody, in my humble opinion, but then I'm a life-long fan of Mr Peck's. He is/was my dream man. I think he is to blame for my never finding my "Mr Right"! Gregory Peck had such charisma about him, even in his latter years. I watched a wonderful documentary on him a few years ago when he was doing talk circuits throughout colleges in the States. His last visit to 'Down Under' was in 1997. I still have the pic of him that was on the front page of the "Courier Mail", taken during his visit. He was in his eighties then, and he still looked great with his 'pepper and salt' beard. I remember showing it to my brother and saying, " that a man or is that not a man?" He certainly had a style about him. By the way, my brother agreed with me. He, also, was a fan of Mr. Peck. When he died, I pulled out my video copy of "Roman Holiday" and watched it for the hundredth time...and yes, I cried at the end of it, as well! As a by-line...I cry in happy movies, too!

It was also interesting to see that Louisa M. Alcott's "Little Women" came in seventh place. I read all of the March girls' series when I was young, many times over. I still adore those stories...and I still cry over them! I have no idea how many times I've seen each filmed version of "Little Women"...and yes...I cry, even though I know the story by heart!

I'm hopeless!

While visiting my local liquor store this morning, picking up some champagne for myself for Christmas Day, I chatted with the friendly guy there. Wishing him a Merry Christmas in case I didn't see him again before the event, I asked what he had planned for Christmas Day. Grumbling, and rightly so, he told me he had to work on Christmas Day at the hotel that runs the liquor store, serving those who will be enjoying their Christmas lunch at the pub.

It really annoys me that people, on this one day of the year, can't fend for themselves, and that they expect others to give up their day to serve them. I've been on that side of the fence either cooking or waiting on the hungry hordes sitting at tables with their plates piled high and silly paper hats on their heads. It used to anger me, too. The thought still angers me. I think it is very selfish of the public to demand others forego their families and loved ones so they, the public, don't have to lift a finger.

There, I've had my grouch for the day!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Reflections of the Day

Being on the downhill race to the end of another year, I thought I'd post this watercolour I painted a couple of years ago of a sunset somewhere in the great expanse of this country.

I think someone has stolen a couple or more months from me as it really doesn't seem like twelve months since last Christmas. If you find them, could you please return them to me?

Like everyone else, when I was younger I thought the 'oldies' were crazy when they said time flew the older one grew! Dammit! They were right!

I wish I had a time capsule, wherein I could go back to the many crossroads in my life to enable me to dare to venture down different paths to the ones I chose. Just out of curiosity to see where I'd be now and what I would be doing if I'd chosen the left turn instead of the right turn...or the direct route etc. Would I still be alone if I'd done that instead of this? I think I know the answer to that question. I believe it's my destiny to live and be's written on the wind. Inscribed in the sands of time. I can't fool around with destiny, now can I? Anyway, I enjoy my own counsel and space. It's the way I am and who I am.

Many others think I'm strange (well...they're probably be right...who am I to argue? I'm the first to agree!) because I enjoy spending Christmas by myself. What others think about me really has never bothered me too much. As each year goes by, what others think bothers me less and less! That I have some who do think of me kindly is what matters most! Back to the subject of spending Christmas alone...I enjoy being able to do 'my own thing'. Christmas Eve I like to sit out under the stars by candle-light, sipping on eggnog in quiet reverie. I jump out of bed early Christmas morning, shower, dress...usually in white...pick out some music...I play classical music in the morning then the mood changes as the day progresses. I set up a Christmas table for myself adorned with all the Christmas goodies. Around 10am...I open a bottle of champagne for my bellinis (thanks to Harry's Bar in Venice!). I sip on bellinis as I drift through a leisurely morning. I eat when I feel that way inclined. No rush, no hassles or dramas.

So, nine more sleeps before the pitter-patter of Santa on the roof! More like the 'Thump! Thump! Thump!" here of possums on my roof! I think they leap from the highest of high branches of the trees, landing on my roof like a herd of elephants, not possums! Poor Santa...I'd better warn him!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Stuffed If I Know!

It's very lucky I don't have a sledgehammer close by! For some reason completely unknown to me, my Outlook Express decided not to work today! Earlier this morning, it was in working order....but not now!

There has been a lot of growling emanating from my cabin this morning/early afternoon! Anyone within ear-shot would be wondering what hell was going on in here! I *hate* problems! I *abhor* hassles! I have NO patience whatsoever!

If Outlook Express wants to play games with me...go ahead, I say! I've switched to plain old Outlook...see if I care! I can be nasty too!
Speaking of Christmas...(Which I Wasn't)....

I'm flying under the radar this Christmas, purposely. It's arrived all too quickly for me. I just can't seem to get with the spirit. Maybe next week as Christmas Day approaches, my mood might change. I'll enjoy the day doing 'my own thing', as is my wont to do. Gone are the days when I catered for the 'masses', whether privately or in restaurants/resorts...thank goodness! Now, I seek a peaceful, relaxed Christmas. I understand why!

The last couple of years that I lived in Cairns, I wanted a break from the hospitality industry, so I gained work in a real estate office at the northern beaches' area of Cairns. I was employed as receptionist/secretary/property manager.

A couple of weeks prior to Christmas, tenants, a young family of five, came to me in search of cheaper accommodation. The 'thirty-something' father, an upright, gentle man who was, obviously, a hard worker and who obviously cared dearly for his wife and young children, had run into a few difficulties on the work-front. I hated the thought of losing them as tenants as they took very good care of the rental property in which they lived and always paid their rent on time, if not a day or two earlier. They were a very nice family.

I tried my utmost to find alternate housing for them but I had nothing suitable on our books. The whole situation saddened me. It was the week before Christmas. Their lives were being turned upside down and inside out. I was losing a lovely family, decent, good tenants. I felt for them. They were battlers trying vainly to do the right thing. They may not have had much, however the children were loved, always clean, well-mannered, dressed simply, but immaculately.

With cap in hand, the father came to me one day, saying he had found a house through another agent. Apologetic, he said he hated having to go to someone else but he could see no alternative. I understood. As hard as I tried to help him, it was out of my hands as I didn't have a property to suit his needs. Our mutual dismay and disappointment was clearly visible to anyone who may have witnessed the drama as it unfolded.

Feeling glum and defeated, I rang the owner of the rental property to inform him of the situation. I had never met the owner of the house face to face. He lived across in Weipa, situated way up north on the west coast of Cape York, on the Gulf of Carpentaria. I explained what had been happening with the tenant and his property, leaving nothing out of my report to him. In silence he listened. Finally, he said to me. "Lee...thank you for keeping me informed. Here's what I'd like to do. Has the family moved out yet?"

I answered, "No...but they are in the midst of packing their possession etc., and will be moving out tomorrow."

"Okay," continued the owner of the property. "You ring him or go around to see him and offer him this. I hate to lose good tenants and from what you have told me these are good, worthy people. I'm prepared to forego his rent for four weeks. And I will not raise the rent in the foreseeable future...and that could be a far distant future. I would rather take care of worthy tentants than have a vacant property. That might help them out a bit."

When I found my voice, I thanked him profusely as we completed our conversation. Grabbing my car keys, without wasting a minute, I raced out of the office. As I drove up to the rental property, the father was in the process of loading up his vehicle. He looked surprised when he recognised it was me leaping out of the car. Breathlessly, I related the conversation I had had with the landlord. As I passed on the offer to the tenant, I couldn't stop smiling. I will always remember the look on the father's face. Finally, he reached out and hugged me. I returned the favour, both of us had tears running down our cheeks.

Now, that's what I call a 'Christmas present'!

The family remained in the house and were still tenants when I left Cairns to live on Newry Island. I can't remember the name of the landlord, but what a generous, wonderful, empathetic man he was. I hope Karma treats him well.

I can't believe I've lived this hundred and fifty years....naaa...I'm kiddin'....29 and a half years! And I have never watched a Test Match! I've watched snippets...but never have I watched the cricket! Sure...I've watched One-Day Matches...and I must admit, I've enjoyed them, but I always falsely believed that test matches were boring! Have I changed or has cricket changed? I've been deluded all my life! (Well...that's not news!)

This Ashes Series is really exciting! I never thought I would say such a diabolic thing! But it is here...written/typed in black and white! You are my witnesses! I can't take these words back....nor do I wish to! My God! I've become one of 'those'!!!!!!!!!!!

Arrrrgggggh! I'm a cricket freak! (Pass me a beer, please!)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Silly Question Time!

Are you bloggers out there who've not yet switched over to 'beta.blogger' finding it difficult to post comments?

Apparently some who've not changed to beta are having problems. Send your comments using hand signals, tom-toms, bush telegraph, smoke signals, morse code or pigeons!
Unimaginable Loss and Grief

Christmas, for some, brings with it a bagful of emotions. The past couple of days I felt myself falling into a 'blue' mood. Yesterday, I was abruptly jolted out from the hole into which I found myself falling. I realised just how minor and petty my concerns were compared to those of others.

A family at Pullenvale, a western suburb of Brisbane, suffered the loss of two sons and the hospitalization of a third from a tragic car accident. Seventeen-year old Daniel East and his twelve-year old brother Toby lost their young lives when the car in which they were travelling veered off the road, crashing into a power pole. Younger brother, Ruben is in hospital with two broken legs. A fourth brother, fifteen-year old Jordan, opted to stay at home as he'd been playing cricket all day. The brothers had been on a Christmas shopping excursion to Indooroopilly Shopping Centre and were returning home. Daniel had been allowed to take the family car.

The driver, Daniel had only had his licence for a few weeks. Daniel's concerned father, upon him gaining his licence, took him to the Brisbane Magistrate's Court for day to sit in to watch traffic-related cases of misery. Daniel was shown a graphic DVD of car crash footage in an attempt to get the message home. Concerned parents doing the right thing for their son. Daniel was rarely allowed to drive alone, but as this was to be a quick trip to the shopping centre, his brothers were allowed to go with him. Two loved sons will not be sharing Christmas with their family this year...or any Christmas hereafter. Daniel, the eldest son, finished Year 12 a few weeks ago. He had won a scholarship to attend Army Officers' College in Canberra, intending to begin his studies next year.

It is impossible for me to imagine what this family is going through. The pain they are experiencing is indescribable. Their makes me shudder to think about it. I shed tears as I watched the segment on the news last night. I berated myself over my silly self-concerns.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Okay Boys & Girls.....

Don't forget to go out today to buy your provisions for the next few days! You'd better turn on the bar fridge or grab some ice for the esky!

The Third Test in the Ashes' Series (cricket for the uninitiated) starts tomorrow in Perth, so stock up on your beer supplies today. Puff up the cushions on the sofa, drag up a foot rest, flex your muscles and get ready for an active couple of days in front of the telly!

Go the Aussies!
Lock Them Up & Throw Away the Keys!

I was sickened and angered (what's new?) by a segment of the news this morning. A 58-year old man in Perth has been arrested for starting a bushfire, which destroyed one house along with other destruction. I really can not fathom what makes a person like this tick!

Bushfires are ravaging areas in this country at present, tearing people's lives apart, scouring the landscape, killing native wildlife. Brave, tireless firefights put their lives at risk to help others while a clown like this guy in Western Australia gets pleasure out of causing havoc in the lives of others.

He should be locked up forever and only let out to help fight the front line, before being put behind bars again! To start fires in this country, a country so susceptible to bushfires, is a major offence and should be given the stiffest punishment. A rap over the knuckles is not enough!

Are you magistrates and judges out there listening?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Between a Rock And a Hard Place...

Tell me please, what are police supposed to do? They are in a "Catch-22" situation.

State Coroner Michael Barnes and, no doubt, O'Gorman and his maudlin band of merrymen would have it that police cease and desist from pursuits.

Oh..well...the police should just sit tight in their cars when they recognise a stolen vehicle or someone high-tails it when requested to pull over by the police...they should just switch on the car radio, listen to some music and sip on a mug of coffee! Sure...then the do-gooders would be jumping up and down in apoplectic fits, tearing their hair out, bemoaning the fact that police are sitting in their cars sipping on coffee when a stolen vehicle or criminal is recognised!

It's hard to win these day, isn't it?'s a tragedy when an innocent 13 year old girl is killed by an unlicensed, most probably drug-fuelled idiot who was trying to escape police capture, but the police can't just turn a blind eye!

The Last Frontier!

I'm going to upset Germaine Greer with this post, but I could care less! I wish she would read it, actually!

All the 'kafuffle' that's going on at the moment about coming to the decision allowing women to become members of Brisbane's oldest, elitist, old-world gentlemen's "Tattersall's Club" is really a bit of silly nonsense, in my humble opinion. Comments like "the club remains open to allegations of sexism while the skirt ban remains in force" are good publicity for the Tatt's Club. These comments are probably being bandied around by some left-over leftist from the Women's Rights' Movement...some women's libber who can't find her bra when she really needs it!

The Tattersall's Club is a men's club. Why change it? Let men have their club to go to, to talk sport, business and whatever else it is they talk about, without women hogging the polished silky oak and maple bars, card rooms, billiard tables, Turkish baths, library etc. Surely to goodness women don't have to poke their noses in everywhere! The Tatt's Club is one of the last-standing male bastions. Let the men have it to themselves! There are few places left that they can go without women other perhaps, than sitting under the hot sun in a 'tinnie' fishing with their mates or hiding in the shed with an eskie full of 'coldies' watching the cricket on the smuggled-in spare television when the fish aren't biting!

My boss, when I lived and worked in Brisbane, was a member of the Tattersall's Club. He went to 'his club' every day for lunch and conversation with his peers. Frequently, he would regale me with interesting stories told to him by his fellow members. He, his wife and I often went to the Tattersall's Club Ladies' Day race meetings.

At one stage, our company (fashion industry) experienced a 'take-over'. All the southern hierarchy came up to Brisbane to introduce themselves to the 'trade'. A business luncheon was organised and held at the Tattersall's Club. John, my boss, (I was his secretary-"2-IC") received special permission from the Tatt's committee to allow me to act as 'greeting-hostess' to greet and meet the guests, all men, as they arrived. As soon as they were all in attendance, I left the men to their "men's business" and I went back to our office/showrooms. I was the first female allowed to perform that task. John had to do a lot of talking to convince the "powers-that-were" to let me act as hostess but he won the day!

I say let the Tattersall's Club remain exclusively a gentlemen's club, except for special functions etc., as they have done throughout the years. Women should form a similar club if they're so determined.

Sorry, Germaine!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Fact Is Always Stranger...Funnier Than Fiction!

A funny story in today's 'Sunday Mail"..."Good Mail" section caught my eye and tickled my sense of humour.

A pilot flew his plane to a country town in western Queensland where the tarmac had been fenced off. At the gate was a message stating pilots should call the security manager for the code to open the gate. When the pilot rang he was told the PIN could not be divulged over the phone for security reasons and that an officer would come over with the PIN. A minute or so later, a door swung open in the terminal building about 20m away. A uniformed guard yelled the code out in front of a bunch of commuters awaiting the afternoon flight to Brisbane. The pilot didn't catch the number, so yelled back: "What?"

The obliging security man then repeated the details even louder!

Yep...our security service in this country is operating loud and clear!
Glutton For Punishment!

I shook my head in amazement the other day when I heard that Pauline Hanson is once again considering standing for election next year as an 'Independent'! She really must have skin thicker than a rhinoceros's hide!

She might make murmurings, albeit sometimes loud, raucous murmurings about certain issues, but she doesn't have the knowledge/education to bring forth solutions to those problems.

Hanson must enjoy throwing herself into the middle of the arena to be fodder for the lions! Oh! Dear! Another feeding frenzy is ahead of us if she goes ahead with her plans. I wish she would 'stay down on her farm'! Perhaps after her stint on "Dancing With the Stars" she might consider going on "Celebrity Survival'. After all, David Oldfield did!

Friday, December 08, 2006

To Question Why?

Again, I am baffled and confused by the actions of so-called "learned academics/professors".

Our supposed-to-be respected and learned professors who run the University of Queensland at St. Lucia, Brisbane have scrapped the study of American literature! Can you believe this? I can't. America, the world's dominant power and our most important ally, has had the study of its literature taken off the list of courses offered at Queensland University! I might be repeating myself, but I have to do so to believe what I'm reading and hearing!

What is happening at St. Lucia? In the past two years four key positions have been lost, all in the area of literature. They have lost a professor, a senior lecturer and a lecturer in the fields of Australian and American literature. Courses are being diminished and staff sacrificed in the English department...the department of English Cultural Studies and Art History. Apparently the cuts are not just in literature, but in history and philosophy, as well.

This is a scandal, but you can bet your bottom dollar further discussion or exposure of this hard-to-fathom move will be pushed under the rug!

The 2007 Professor of Australian Literature and Cultural History (new title), the director of the centre, Professor David Carter has reportedly said '"the univerisity's long tradition of teaching Australian literature would continue...the future is not all bleak.'" Somehow, I'm not totally convinced by his utterances!

Umm...someone should remind him and the other so-called "learned professors" at the university who have abandoned the study of American literature there is a saying going around..."no man is an island"....I think this may apply to the nation of Australia, also...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Well! Well! Well!

Here I my computer...11.03pm! I had a wonderful lunch with wonderful friends. Paul and Fia arrived at 11am...left at 5.30pm. They and I were sated...over-sated! We grazed and grazed over the pasture of delectable food as we sipped on equally delectable liquids! Yes...I have to honestly admit, the food was a great success and as for that dessert...well, there are no words to describe it!

About 5 minutes after my guests departed, I received a phone call from a young friend of mine, my landlords' 26 year old daughter, asking if she could come down for a drink or two. Of course, you know my I need not go any further!

Robyn arrived. I brought out some of the luncheon left-overs and, thankfully, she had a hearty appetite after her day teaching. She wanted to share her good news with me of her appointment in 2007 at a school about 40kms out of Roma...south-western Queensland for you who are not familiar with the geography. I am as thrilled about the news as she is. We sat, talked, sipping on a wine or two as we discussed life, hers and mine and the adventures that lay ahead for her...and some that I have had. Sometimes life is terrific and the adrenalin and tonight have been two of those times.

After Robyn left...which was around 8.30pm...I rang friends of mine....good friends of old. Friends I have known for many, many, many years. We don't often talk together, but that doesn't mean we don't care. I think of them often, and I know, they think of me often. Tonight, unplanned, I called. I am so glad I did.

Friends, good friends...those who know you, like you, love you, warts and all...are friends to cherish. Time in between 'connection' really means little...nothing changes. One crowded a life time of wonderful memories. I do not ever want to be without my good friends...those who know and understand me for who and what I am. It really doesn't matter if time passes between communication....nothing changes.

I've put on lots of 'fronts'...'facades' throughout the years because I found it necessary to do so in the various and varying different positions I've held in my working career. I don't need to do that any more. I probably never had to do it at all, but I did. I think a lot of us, the majority of us do similar. When it boils down to the nitty-gritty, one doesn't have to do that, but I guess, with maturity (?) one learns that lesson. I think I have learned it...and learned it well.

I said in my previous post that I 'felt it in my bones' that today was going to be a good day. I was right...or my bones were! It has been a marvellous day...and an equally marvellous night. My thanks go to my good friends...not all of them, but those who have shared this day and night with me. Thank you!

PS...I don't mean that I don't thank all of my friends for being my friends...I do...some were included in my conversation they're not forgotten!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Raindrops Are Falling On My...Well, Not My Head, But On My Roof!

The chicken is doing its thing in the oven. The aroma is sorely tempting my taste buds! The table is set and everything else is at the ready! While I wait, I opened a bottle of Chivas Regal that was given to me for my birthday last month. I decided it was time to enjoy a nip or two as I await the arrival of my guests, Paul and Fia.

The rain sounds wonderful on the roof...and it's not a storm, which makes it even better. I hope it settles in for a while. The cats have come inside complaining because they got wet. They're in for a shock when my friends arrive. I'm afraid my two furry rascals aren't very sociable when it comes to visitors! They would rather go to find a hiding place and spy on the proceedings from afar. I thought I brought them up better than that!

I think we're going to have a fun afternoon...I can feel it in my bones!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Boohoo! I'm Crying!

I should follow my own advice and store onions in my fridge...but I never seem to have room in my fridge as it's always over-stocked! When I was cooking in restaurants I always stored onions in the coldroom. This practice alleviates the tears when chopping onions. I'm preparing for a luncheon I'm having for a couple of friends and me tomorrow and I'm shedding tears over it!

I'm making a tomato sauce (provencale or Italian sauce) to go with lima beans. This will be served at room temperature as a kind of salsa. It's very nice. I've also put a whole chicken into a brine made with salt, ground black pepper, loads of garlic, olive oil, fresh rosemary, oregano, marjoram, freshly squeezed lemon juice, together with the lemon and water to cover. The chicken will rest overnight in the brine and then tomorrow I'll take it out, dry it off and then lift the skin carefully from the breast area and fill the space with butter, rosemary leaves and garlic. After that the chicken will be roasted. Then it will just be torn apart and served warm. It's not going to be a 'roast chicken' dinner.

It's going to be a leisurely lunch with an antipasto, the chicken, lima beans in the tomato sauce, a platter of tomato, red onions rings, sliced mozzarella layered, with a basil dressing. A fresh fruit platter, a cheese platter and a very decadent dessert are also part of the menu. I'll have some tasty, crunchy fresh breads to serve with the meal. The dessert is, as I said, a decadent blending of marscapone, cream, vanilla, beaten until thick with finely chopped glazed ginger to it. A little is spread over the base of a loaf tin which has been lined with plastic wrap. Ginger biscuits (Ginger Nuts) are each spread with cream on one side and placed in line, starting from the short side of the tin, down along the long side until the tin is filled with the biscuits. The rest of the marscapone/cream mix is put on top, gently pressed down to fill any gaps and evened out over the top. The overlapping wrap then covers the lot and another lot of wrap is tightly put over the loaf tin, pressing down gently before storing. I made this yesterday and it will sit in the fridge until I'm ready to serve it. I'll serve it with scoops of rich vanilla ice cream and a ginger syrup over the top!

All of the above will be accompanied with champagne to begin with, then red and white wine, coffee, truffles and perhaps, more decadence, a liqueur!

What An Game!

Now, that was cricket! What a day of cricket it was yesterday! Shane Warne maybe lots of things but one thing is for certain, he is a magnificent bowler!

Australia took no prisoners yesterday, totally confusing and knocking out any confidence the Poms may still have had. After four days of battle, yesterday culminated in wondrous defeat by the Aussies of the Poms! What a great day of cricket it was. Warne, at 37 years of age, the greatest Test wicket-taker of all time, belied his years as he bowled unchanged for two sessions. His brilliance as a spin bowler shone brightly and cannot be denied.

Towards the end of the game it was 'edge-of-seat stuff'...reminiscent of the One-Day cricket matches. The crowd went wild and so did our cricketers as the Poms left the cricket field, lost, confused and alone.

Yesterday, Australia stormed to a 2-0 lead in the five-Test Ashes' series with a six wicket win...just in case there's anyone out there who may have missed the News! Huge! Huge! Huge!

Bring on the third Test in Perth...I can't wait!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Imagine This!

This would be worse than facing the Kiwis' 'Haka' at the beginning of every football match!

Just the middle of a tackle or scrum...or racing to land a goal and the opposing Muslim team get in line praying to Allah that the Broncos et al don't make the try or kick the conversion!
And Another Uplifting Topic!

I read an interesting article in yesterday's 'Sunday Mail' which stated a third of Australian women are amongst the most vain in that they would undergo cosmetic surgery to improve their appearance despite believing society is far too obsessed with youth. Apparently after an 'in-depth' study across 41 countries, they found one in four Aussie men and women would consider going under the knife to improve their looks!

Well, I'm one of the two-thirds who would never consider 'going under the knife' or sticking a needle of botox into myself!

"I yam what I yam!" as Popeye said. Even though I run past mirror as I scare the living daylights out of myself when I catch my reflection, I don't think I'd like seeing a strange face looking back out at me! (Not, of course, if it was some tall, dark, handsome guy standing behind me!)
What Do They Talk About?

I'm one of the rare breed! I don't own a mobile/cell phone! I have no use for one. I hate phone calls as it is on my landline telephone without having a mobile phone! I often wonder what do these people talk about all the time! You see them walking while talking on their phones in shopping centres, in stores, along the footpaths/sidewalks, cafes, everywhere! I'm sure if I had a mobile, I also would be one of the rare breed where no one would call me! Anyway, I would be annoyed if they did...I hate my peace being disturbed! It truly amazes me...and I must be honest, I sometimes think it's all for 'show'!

I did once own a mobile as I needed it because my brother was gravely ill with cancer and I needed to be in constant contact with the hospital etc. After his passing, I had no more need of the mobile phone and I discarded it. I still have no need for one in the way I live my life. I guess, I've not got much to say!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer

Well, summer has hit us with a bang!
I'm not suggesting you wear tomatoes on your head, though. (It's not a self-portrait, either, in case you were wondering!) There are far better uses for them! As it's too hot to cook much, it's time for more salad ideas. Salads with substance make for good main meals, leaving room for dessert for those amongst us who have a 'sweet tooth'!

Salad Nicoise with Salmon: Make a dressing with: 3 tablespoons basil oil ( extra virgin olive oil with 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil), an extra 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and pinch of sugar. Season to taste. Cook 500g chat potatoes (small new spuds!) in boiling, salted water until just tender. Drain and set aside to cool slightly. While still warm, halve the potatoes and combine with 200g baby green beans, blanched, refreshed and halved, in a bowl. Pour over 2 tablespoons of dressing and stir well. Combine 300g cherry tomatoes and 200g yellow teardrop tomatoes,, halved and 100g small black olives in a separate bowl, pour over 2 tablespoons of dressing and stir well. Combine 6 hard-boiled eggs, quartered and 200g bottled or canned artichoke hearts, pour over 2 tablespoons of dressing in separate bowl. Place 400g salmon fillets on an oven tray lined with foil, sprinkle with lemon juice and cook gently under a pre-heated medium grill until just cooked through and the fish flakes when tested with a fork. Cool. Break into small pieces and combine in a bowl with remaining dressing. Arrange ingredients in groups on a large serving platter and garnish salmon with anchovy fillets (optional, if you don't like anchovies...I love them!).

Goat Cheese & Grilled Pancetta Salad with Roasted Hazelnut Dressing: Dressing: Place 100g hazelnuts on oven tray and roast at 180C for 5-10 minutes or until skins become papery. Remove skins by rubbing together in a tea-towel. Set aside 50g hazelnuts for the salad. Process remainder until well chopped. Add to the chopped hazelnuts 3 tablespoons Macadamia nut oil (if you can find hazelnut oil use that), 3 tablespoons light olive oil, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Process until smooth. Salad: Blanch 2 bunches trimmed asparagus in boiling, lightly salted water until just tender. Refresh under cold running water and drain. Combine 200g mesclun salad leaves in a large bowl. Pour over half the dressing and toss well. Cook 200g thinly sliced pancetta under a pre-heated hot grill until crisp. Drain on absorbent paper and break into large pieces. Divide dressed salad leaves among individual plates. Top with pancetta, roughly sliced or crumbled goat cheese and roughly chopped remaining hazelnuts. Drizzle a little more dressing over each salad. This can be made as one large salad, of course.

Roast Beef Salad: Dressing: combine 150ml olive oil, 75ml lemon juice, 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives and 2 tablespoons finely chopped sun-dried capsicum/peppers, in a bowl with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Whisk thoroughly. Mayonnaise: place 1/2 cup whole-egg mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and a few drops of Tabasco sauce in a small bowl and stir well to combine. In individual plates or one large platter arrange 12 large, thin slices of rare roast beef, 180g half cherry tomatoes, 200g Mesclun salad leaves, 250g canned or bottled artichoke hearts, halved, if large, 75g small dill pickles and 120g smallish white pickled onions. Spoon dressing over the salad. Top with mayonnaise and serve immediately.

Now for the 'Sweet-Toothers'.....Mango Tart: Line one large 30cm flan tin or 2 smaller tins 23cm in diameter with Flan Pastry: chop 150g butter into small pieces and put into the food process with 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup ground almonds and 2 cups plain flour. Turn machine on and process for a few seconds. Make into a dough with 1 egg and 1 teaspoon water. Do not overmix at this stage or pastry will be tough. Knead lightly with a little flour. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for half hour before rolling.

After lining the flan tin/s, cover with a sheet of lightly greased baking paper. Fill to the brim with dried beans. Bake in a moderately hot oven for 15 minutes. Remove paper and beans and bake a further 10 minutes. Cool. Spread Creme Patissiere (Put 2 cups milk, 1/4 cup sugar into saucepan. Bring to the boil. Meanwhile, put another 1/4 cup sugar into a small bowl of an electric mixer with 6 egg yolks. Beat together until thick then gradually add 2 level tablespoons plain flour, 2 level tablespoons cornflour. Pour the hot milk slowly into the mixture in the bowl with the motor running and beat together well. Return the mixture to the saucepan and stir or whisk constantly over a low heat until very thick and smooth. Flavour with vanilla essence and 1 or 2 tablespoons kirsch. Pour into a bowl. Cover immediately so a skin doesn't form. Store in fridge until continue...spread creme patisserie into pastry case. Cover with sliced fresh mango. Make up a glaze with sugar and water (or orange juice). Spoon over pie/s immediately, starting from the centre.

Honey Ice Cream: Place 200g honey in a pan and bring to the boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes. Mix together 150ml cream, 1 litre milk, 4 egg yolks and add to the honey. Stir it and cook over gentle heat until temperature reaches 80-85C or until the mixture leaves trails when dribbled off the end of the whisk. Do NOT allow to boil. Add 100g sugar to the mixture, stir well and strain through a fine sieve. Leave to rest in a cool place for an hour or so...then freeze. Before it's fully set, remove and beat again. Freeze until required, leaving it to sit to soften a little before serving.

They should give you something to think about for next weekend or perhaps for doubt, we're going to have a very hot Christmas Day again...worse luck!