Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Wonder of Dreams....

Often I wish someone would invent equipment/technology to monitor and film my dreams. How I wish I was smart enough to do so myself. In no time at all, I'd race past Bill Gates in the multi-millionaire stakes, I'm sure. I'd make my fortune and begin living the life I know I would rapidly become accustomed to. I know , in all honesty, I'm meant to be accustomed to that lifestyle. I turned left at the cross-roads instead of right...or perhaps I should have gone on straight ahead! I'm living in my present state of existence just experience what it's like for myself. Well, "Hughie"...enough is enough! I know what it's like...let's move on!

Last weekend, I had a dream. A dream, which continued over three nights. It was like a mini-series. Each night, the dream picked up from where it ended the previous night and so on. Even if I woke during the night in the midst of the dream, upon falling into sleep once more, the dream continued. It was if there was a comma at the end of the sentence, a full stop at the end of a paragraph or the page was turned to commence the new chapter. It was fascinating. During my waking hours, my dream remained vivid in my mind. I knew, without question or doubt, that that night the dream would reappear and chapter two, three, four or whatever would commence. The storyline was never repeated. In my dream the location was the same each night. Each night I travelled back to the location in my dream and continued living the experience throughout my weekend. It was like having a 'weekend away' when not having a weekend away! A "Clayton's Weekend", I guess one could describe it.

I have wonderful adventures in my dreams. Once I was riding with Genghis Khan across the plains of Siberia! I dream in full colour, huge screen, sound, smells, tastes, emotions...the whole catastrophe! In my dreams, I meet real live people and those no longer on this earth. Many of the people I've never met in my life and never likely to meet, but we greet each warmly as friends, because we've met previously, many times in my dreams. We converse discussing what we have done in between visits.

Of course, some dreams are not as pleasant as others, but they obviously are all part of the tapestry, rich or otherwise, of my subconscious/unconscious.

Each night upon going to sleep, briefly I wonder what my dreamworld has in store for me in the bewitching hours to follow.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Let's Add a Bit of Colour to the Conversation!

At present, I've an abundance of cherry tomatoes on my tomato bushes (well, it would be a little odd if they were on my potato plants!). To be honest with you, not all my cherry tomatoes are on the bushes/vines, because I've picked a hell of a lot of them! So, you see, I have an abundance of cherry tomatoes in bowls in my kitchen, but that also is not entirely true. The reason being, I'm making a tomato sauce from the abundance of cherry tomatoes that were hogging my bowls in my kitchen, which originally were in abundance on the bushes/vines. That clarifies the situation!

Not wishing to waste the glorious fruits of the vines, a pot on my stove, containing the ingredients for an Italian-style tomato sauce, is sending out aroma-signals. Once the sauce is cooked, after simmering for quite a while, I will then freeze it in batches for further usage.

I grabbed one large onion, chopped it into little pieces; tossed it into a saucepan bearing some virgin olive oil, threw in a few garlic cloves, coarsely chopped and a couple of handfuls of fresh herbs from my herb garden. These herbs included curly and Italian parsley, oregano, marjoram, rosemary and basil, again chopped coarsely. (Nothing refined about Herb and me!)

To this concoction, I added a couple of packets of tomato paste, a sprinkle or three of powdered chicken stock, some freshly ground black pepper, splash of red wine from a re-corked bottle on my kitchen bench...umm...oh...yes...a little, teeny bit of water (we are on restrictions, remember!)....well, we're not on restrictions up here on the mountain, but that doesn't mean one has to waste water. I don't leave the tap running when I clean my teeth, but that's by the way. I am discussing food not the cleaning of teeth. I will leave that subject until another time and place. The kitchen is not a suitable area to do such a thing as cleaning one's teeth, or if in 'red-neck' country, tooth!

I did add a couple of teaspoonfuls of sugar, raw, to the witches' brew, as well. That's raw sugar as in 'raw sugar', not uncooked sugar as in raw sugar. After a moment or two, the 'raw' sugar is not only cooked, but it's dissolved into oblivion. If, of course, you added a raw piece of sugar cane, that's a whole different story!

For dinner last night, I absconded with some sauce I had already stored in my freezer, defrosted it, re-heated it, then tossed in some green prawns to the tasty mixture. In the meantime while all of this excitement was occurring, I cooked some fettucine al dente'. When the prawns and the pasta were cooked, coincidentally at the same time, a most delightful meal followed, even if I do say so myself. I have to say so myself as no one else was here to witness it. I could be telling 'porkies' for all you know...but I'm not!

A Little Light Relief...Just Because, So No Grief!

Some so adamantly believe in daylight saving
But how do we stop the curtains from fading?

How marvellously wonderful 'they' say, is motherhood
If 'they' knew how difficult it is, I wonder if they would!

The problem is, in the corporate world
There are too many administrators
And not nearly enough applicators

If only the whole truth would be unfurled

It’s all very well to have wealth
It's far better to have good health.


He makes a rod for his own back –

He takes a wad for his own sack

Discretion is the better part of valour –

Migration is the better part of a callow

Expression is the better part of behaviour

Familiarity breeds contempt

Temerity needs hemp

God heals and the doctor takes the fee –

Prod the seals and the proctor fakes a sneeze.

Edible Phones: Advertising slogans:

If you’re like me, there are many times you would like to eat your words

When you wished you’d given thought before you spoke or were never heard

Don’t despair, there is a remedy – try our edible phones

Not only are they audible, but edible, too!


Feel like eating your words

To never again feel like a nerd

Try our digestible edible phones

They're nicer than ice-cream cones

Slogan for the subject of re-cycling:

I don’t think you oughta

Drink used dish water

Better to recycle it

Give it to your daughter!


Old publicans never die…they get spirited away

Old concreters never die…they keep on paving the way

Old writers never die…they become lost for words

Old musicians never die…they only miss the beat

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Unspoilt Tin Can Bay

These photographs were taken by a special friend of mine who visited me from the States when I was living in Gympie, before I moved up here to the 'mountain.'

I have other photographs of that day but they are proving too hard to upload for whatever reason known only to "Edgar". ("Edgar" being my computer, in case you have forgotten). Perhaps they are too big. I'll give up on them for the moment, because I've already managed to delete an almost-completed post on what I am about to re-write. You can imagine the mood that put me in! But just in case, I wasn't quite yet in the right mood, the power went out for about a minute...so I had to start all over again...for the second time!

It's reported that the name "Tin Can Bay" is derived from "tinchin" or "tidhin", a name for the species of mangrove in Yugumbir language spoken by the Aboriginals at that time.
Others say that "Tin Can" is a word derived from the word "tinken", a vine with a large ribbed leaf, which grew on the beaches. The area was also known as "Tuncunba" - "ba" meaning "Place of ". "Tuncun" meaning "Dugong" or "Plenty of tucker". A white lad, "Zachariah Daniel Sparkes Skyring" was one of the first permanent residents in the area. He later called the town "Tin Can Bay". Zachariah was born on 13th. July, 1861 and died on the 4th.June, 1957. South of Gympie is Skyring's Creek. "Skyring" is a well-known name in the Gympie/Cooloola area.
Tin Can Bay became the site for Queensland's first private railway, which opened in 1873. The Kaloolah railway had at total line length of nine miles from the rafting grounds jetty at Poverty Point, heading into the tree-laden, hence timber-laden forests
These days Tin Can Bay is home to close to 3,000 people. It is a very low-key and relaxing area.
My State-side friend and I spent our days venturing to the surrounding horizons around Gympie armed with picnic lunches. One day, to our surprise, we stumbled across a 'faerie' cottage, wherein he, to his disgust, was ceremoniously doused with 'faerie dust'. That's a story for another day!
Tin Can Bay is about 30-40 minutes drive east from Gympie, depending on how heavy one's foot is on the accelerator! The drive through Goomboorian, a farming area betwixt Gympie and Tin Can Bay is quite stunning, in my opinion. Frequently, when living back in Gympie, I would drive down to the 'Bay' on a Sunday or Monday morning (my two days off from work) for breakfast at the small yacht club. The club is built on the water's edge. There was nothing more pleasant than sitting out on the deck, lost in my thoughts as I enjoyed both the view and my breakfast. I lie...there was something equally as nice as breakfasting on the deck of the yacht club...sometimes, instead, I would buy some delicious, freshly-cooked fish (in batter, of course!) and chips and sit on the foreshore, surrounded by ravenous seagulls. I never mind seagulls as I'm always on the look-out for 'Jonathan Livingstone Seagull'. I know I've seen and conversed with him a few times!
When my brother and I were young, fishing and mud-crabbing were two of our mother’s pet pastimes.
Often, Mum, Graham (my older brother), Nana and I jumped on a bus en route to Tin Can Bay. In those days (even more so than nowadays), Tin Can Bay was a sleepy little fishing village, consisting of corrugated iron, timber or fibro shacks. Most were without electricity. At night, hurricane lamps and candles shed light inside the beach shacks in which we and others holidayed. Late afternoon and evening the air would be dense with a heavy cloak of smoke from the smouldering cow manure packed in forty-four gallon drums in the backyards. The burning of cow manure was an endeavour to keep the mosquitoes and sand-flies at bay. The sand-flies were the bane of my existence. They loved me. They still do, for that matter! The feeling wasn’t and still isn’t mutual! I hated them then and I still do now! When we were kids, Tin Can Bay had an open-air picture ‘theatre’. Many a night after dinner, my brother and I sat in the backyard of where we were staying to watch the screen from afar, barely hearing or understanding the dialogue. Mostly, we invented our own scripts, much to our delight.

Every day, and most nights during our visits to Tin Can Bay, our mother fished and mud-crabbed. Meanwhile, Nana, Graham and I collected oysters off the rocks to the right of the esplanade. Armed with an oyster knife each, we opened the shells bearing the delectable delicacies, eating many as we went along the oyster-bearing rocks. We each had a large glass jar to fill with oysters to take back to the shack. At the threat of death, we guarded the oyster knives as if they were made of gold. The prized oyster knives used to belong to our grandfather, long departed.
Once back at the beach shack, we feasted on the fish and crab Mum caught, together with our bounty of fresh oysters. Our fresh seafood was always served simply with fresh bread, butter, vinegar, salt and pepper. As a small child, I gave no thought to the health benefits but now, of course, I know how nutritional fresh seafood is. Rarely were we sick as children, so I guess all those sandfly-ridden days and nights eating fresh seafood accounted for our good health. Other than the normal childhood maladies such as the mumps, measles, chicken pox, the only other times I got sick was from motion sickness. To this day, I get car sick if relegated to the back seat or if in a boat, if I’m not the skipper. Yes, I do have a boat license but that, also, is another story for another day.
Once the prawn trawlers descended upon the waters surrounding Tin Can Bay, prawns and sea scallops became welcome accompaniments to our seafood feasts. Oh! How I love fresh seafood!
Not only did Tin Can Bay have the best fresh seafood in the world in those days, but it also boasted the best meat pies in the world! Hind's Bakery...a little store on the Esplanade baked the best pies. If I set my mind to it, I can still savour the flavour of those luscious, juicy meat pies! Pies with golden, flaky-pastry tops that burned the roof of your mouth, but you didn't care, because the hot gravy from the meat running down your chin burned even hotter...but you still didn't care, because the pies were so delicious.
One of our primary school teachers, Mr Enright, owned a holiday home on the Esplanade at Tin Can. He and his wife, who was either a nursing sister or a matron (probably both at some stage) were often in attendance at their home during our many visits to the "Bay". Mr. Enright was a favourite teacher of both my brother and myself. Way back when in the "olden days" as we called the days of our grandmother's youth, he was a keen beau of our Nana. He was a tall, striking gentleman with a shock of silver-grey hair. A fine white clay was found along the beach across from his home. My brother and I collected this clay to formed different objets d'art. He allowed us to 'bake' it in his ovens, both at the 'Bay' and in Gympie. He and his wife lived not far from where we lived as children. I was so pleased, when I was living back in Gympie, to see that their home had been purchased by a builder who was lovingly restoring the home to its former glory.
I will never forget the day of Mr. Doug Enright's funeral. School children from the Gympie State Primary School of which my brother and I were two, formed honour lines down each side of Mary Street, the main street of Gympie, as his gasket went by. Mr. Enright was loved and respected by all who were fortunate enough to have known him.
Once, when my brother was around 18 years old, he pedalled his bicyle down to Tin Can Bay! He caught the bus back to Gympie with his bike tied to the back of the bus!
I can't believe it! Wonders will never cease! I've finally completed this post! (And posted!) It's taken me forever! I dedicate this post to my 'special friend', for no other reason than that I can!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Bit of Sunday Fun With A Little Help From a Friend.
Back in my "Hola" post, which started out so innocently, the persona of the distingquished J. Cosmo Newberry, entered the fray. From that moment on, our repartee became very gay. So I would like to share it with you, if I may!

I begin at the first appearance of the said distinguished J. Cosmo Newberry:

"Red wine has never made me do bat impressions. Newts, yes. Bats, no.

Lee said...

Shoot! One must be very astute
When sipping on wine of the fruit
'Tis many a man of good repute
Who from careless pursuit
of the juice from the fruit
Quickly turns into a newt
At such times he should remain mute
The silly coot, realising he blew it
It's not cute, nor is it a hoot

J Cosmo Newbery said..

Said the man who wasn't a bat
"I am really amazed how that
You have made newt-rhymes
Over ten times!
Impressed, I raise you my hat.

Lee said...

You may doff your hat
Oft times at this bat
Who knows where it's at
When chewing the fat
I’m very fond of a chat
Although you may be a gnat
And at times even a brat
When I tire I’ll be out flat
Here on the mat with the cat
And that will be that!

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Seuss! Said the man with the wine
Forgive me if I respectully decline.
Best I stay off the mat
When you and your cat
Are flat out, in sensuous design.

Lee said...
I hate to whine
is it by design
I’ve had no wine
you didn’t ask me to dine
tho’ I would decline
I’d rather we be clandestine
shall I now define
and call you a swine
or my thoughts I’ll confine
forever to remain mine
I know you prefer Catharine
As I sit alone with my feline

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Good lady I must really protest
(As a policy, honesty's the best)
I have no intentions
For the Catherine you mention
If I touched her, my teeth would go west.

Lee said...

As a newt
You’re very cute
But as a gnat
I must refute
It’s tit-for-tat
I am very astute
That’s where I’m at
Stop being a brute
Cease this dispute
Let’s have a chat
Do you compute

J Cosmo Newbery said...

There is no dispute, please believe me
Your assurances on this would relieve me
I've said what I've said
Now I'm heading to bed
My senses are threatening to leave me.

Lee said...

You deemed to mention
It was never your intention
To grab Catharine’s attention
Tis beyond my comprehension
Therefore it is my contention
This is your mind’s invention
And it’s causing me tension

I, too, am calling today a night
If I might
I'm not taking flight
Nor running from the fight
At morning's dawn light
I will be all right
Ready to continue to write
Good Night

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Oh woman, can you realise what pain
Your Catherine has had me sustain?
My wife thought I was cheating
And gave me a great beating.
Please give her a call and explain.

Lee said...

I’m so sorry dear Mr Newberry
In shame my head I do bury
From now on I’ll be more wary
Not to make your wife contrary
I hand to you this yellow canary
My gift to you to make you merry

J Cosmo Newbery said...

A bird in the hand, dear Lee,
Is quite heavenly, or nearly.
A canary is fine,
(But a tit is devine)
And I appreciate your efforts, sincerely.

Lee said...

That you are well pleased
And don’t mind being teased
This moment I have seized
Poetic licence I have leased
To add to your whimsical post
I hope you are not displeased
Tho’ you thought it had ceased
Your whimsy caused my riposte

Lee said...

The count of these comments is up to forty
In my good mood I’m going to be naughty
By utilising the spirit of being very sporty
So I decided to allow you the rare liberty
As I hand you a slice of Sienna Panforte

J Cosmo Newbery said...

She's sporty and naughty and bold,
Where the recipe I had been told
(Sugar and spice
And all things nice)
Actually makes panforte, best eaten cold.

Lee said...

Under the shade of a tree it was so nice
I’ve sipped on a beer more than twice
Enjoyed a wine or two which was suffice
Well, more than two if I must be precise
Along with good food tempered with spice
With little left over for the mice"

I considered Mr. J. Cosmo Newberry's and my banter far too much fun, complete with never before seen intelligence, originality and brilliance to be confined to the forgotten realms of the archives, forever to remain out of sight and out of mind.

I hope you can read between the lines and recognise the undiscovered excellence of our combined skill, mastery (mistery?), craftiness, sleight of hand, ingenuity, invention, flair, genius....need I say more!

Friday, January 26, 2007

I'm Whole Again!

Thank God for "Op Shops"! There is a wonderful little "Op Shop" up here on the mountain run by the RSPCA. Periodically, on a Thursday afternoon, I fill in for a couple of friends when either one or the other can't perform their charitable duty. I was to go in this past Thursday afternoon, but I "pulled the plug" on going in as I had a few other things that needed my attention. Around 3.30pm, I received a phone call from one of my friends who was in attendance at the shop. A Canon printer had just been brought in to be placed on the shelves for sale. Knowing my need of a printer, because mine had died and gone to printer Heaven, my friend rang to inform me of its momentous arrival. I've been putting off and putting off buying a new one, reading catalogue after catalogue in search of one. Only this week, I almost grabbed my passport and visa to head off down to the Gold Coast to purchase one, but put it off, again, because other bits and pieces of life came in the way, also because it's been so damn hot and humid, a trip down to the nether regions below, didn't enthrall me. Fortunately for me, as it turned out! Regular readers of my blog understand my hesitation (dislike) of venturing out of my mountain greenery where the air is clear and fresh, to join the madding throngs of humanity hustling and bustling their way through over-bearing, over-stocked shopping centres where temptation is rife, not to mention cars after cars greedily and impatiently hogging the motorways.

I jumped into my trusty little coupe....well, 'trusty' might be a slight exaggeration as it's making very weird noises lately. I drive it with my fingers and legs crossed, (which is no mean feat, I can tell you!) along with flattering words and silent prayers with the intention, hope and desire of encouraging it to keep going as I can afford neither a new car nor an expensive repair job. I'm straying from my original path...sorry.

To "cut to the chase", albeit a noisy chase, there waiting for me with a wide smile on his 'face' was a very good-looking Canon printer. Upon his rosy cheeks (you have to use your imagination here as his cheeks are actually grey) was a price tag showing $20.00! I promptly exchanged a paper note for my handsome grey and steel-blue 'new' printer, which, by the way, leaped gratefully into my welcoming arms. Happily, gratefully united, we raced back to my cabin, where I immediately installed 'Kenny, the Canon'. Perched upon as set of drawers alongside my computer desk, he lived up to his dapper, well-proportioned appearance. 'Kenny' performed brilliantly at the first push of his button, eager to please, he presented me with clear, precise, crisp print. I jumped for joy as I patted 'Kenny' on the head, thanking him for coming into my life. We are now on the best of terms with the hopes of remaining so.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Proud To Be An Aussie...

I thought I'd share with you these images of Australia, our beautiful country. The paintings and drawings were done by me, a couple of which I've previously posted.

The beach photographs are of Noosa Heads, one taken from the top of Noosa Hill and the other, towards the northern-end, looking across to North Shore.

With Australia Day tomorrow, I've been invited to share a barbecue with friends. I hope you all have a fun day.

We live in a wonderful country. Let's hope it remains this
way. I had a big smile on my face when I saw on the
news a few moments ago, all the young people defiantly
wearing and waving the Australian flag at "Big Day Out".
I bet the organisers wish they had have kept their mouths
shut! That will teach them to suggest the Aussie flag be
banned from the "Big Day Out" concert!

Waltzing Matilda!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Anyone For Tennis?

No doubt everyone is aware by now that the Australian Tennis Open is currently being played in Melbourne. It's been very exciting to watch. I wake bleary-eyed every morning with every muscle in my body aching from all the activity and energy I'm exerting.

On the subject of sport, I never excelled at anything, really. I hated running at school. A friend and I used to take it in turns who would come last, or we would hide in the locker room until the race was over. I played basketball in high school and managed to represent my school in a trip to Maryborough and continued playing for a short while after I began working. I gave up basketball to take up surfing, body and board, because my every weekend was spent at the coast. Years later, when I lived in Noosa, I took up golf and thoroughly enjoyed it, not disgracing myself on the course. I continued swimming and surfing throughout the years but when it came to tennis, I was absolutely hopeless. I love the game, watching it, but when it comes to playing tennis, my dire limitations are obvious to anyone and everyone who dares to watch. I have two speeds. I either miss the ball entirely or if I do manage to hit it, the ball flies high over the surrounding fence, soars above the buildings next door into the street beyond never to be seen again! No skyscraper is safe when I'm in full flight! As a child, I had a couple of tennis lessons, but the coach shook his head, defeated and suggested I take up disc-throwing instead. My bludgeoning tennis career was brought to a rapid end.

In Noosa, during the time I lived there, the Ken Rosewall Tennis Courts on Noosa Sound were very popular amongst the tanned, fit locals. I'm not sure if the courts are still operating. I guess they are. A "Round-Robin" competition was organised. A friend and I decided to enter. Her capabilities as a tennis player were slightly, only slightly, above mine, but we thought it would be a bit of fun. At the very least, in the ensuing years we could brag that we'd been in an "Round-Robin" event on the Ken Rosewall courts. Ken Rosewall, for those of you who are unaware, was a champion Australia tennis player in years gone by.

I was married at the time. My husband, who had never seen me play tennis or even show any interest in playing tennis, said to me in stunned amazement.

"But, honey...you don't play tennis. You've never played tennis!"

Those few words stirred my competitive spirit!

"I've had a couple of games," I retorted. "Penny doesn't play either, but we're going to enter for the fun of it! Who cares if we're in 'Z-grade'!" I added indignantly.

The day of the tournament quickly arrived, allowing us no time to practice. Well, to be honest, we would have needed a lifetime of practice under the expert guidance of Federer, but I won't elaborate on that small point. We donned our shorts, t-shirts and caps, hired racquets and definitely looked the part. It was at this stage that any similarity between tennis players and us ceased.

Because of our 'high' ranking, we were up first to play. Within minutes, it was 'game, set, match'. I think the spectators believed Penny and I were the warm-up comedy act. We said nothing to dispel their belief. With our racquets under our arms, our heads held high, we walked off the court acknowledging our adoring fans. Hastily, Penny and I made it around the corner of a building, where, out of sight of our adoring fans, we collapsed in hysterical laughter.

It was at that very moment, an epiphany came to me. The time was nigh to hang up my racquet. If it meant disappointing my adoring fans, so be it. "Epiphany" had spoken.

Monday, January 22, 2007

It Never Rains But It Pours!

Look at all that wonderful water! Put this, plus all the water flushing out the Todd River in Alice Springs (thanks, Peter) at present and the dams in south-east Queensland would look like dams once again, not dry, barren wastes.

Of course, what we need are a couple of cyclones (minus the devastation) to push down the monsoonal trough, thereby causing a decent wet season. It would probably take three good lows (cyclones) to break the drought, to cause enough run-off to fill the dams and also top up the aquifers. Three decent rain depressions, spaced over a period of a couple of months would be a blessing. You wouldn't hear me complain about mildew. A few of bottles of bleach soon fixes that! After being faced with blackened walls in the cabins on Newry Island after Cyclone Joy dumped nigh on four week's continuous, heavy rain on me, what's a bit of mildew and mould between friends? I related part of the story of Cyclone Joy's visit to Newry Island in a previous post.

The day the rain stopped, my two cats at the time, Pushkin and Rimsky, accompanied me on a walk along the beach, scampering ahead of me. In unison, they would screech to a stop, then race back to me as if urging me to join in the fun. That wasn't so bad but when they began running up and down the coconut palms and she-oaks, I declined their kind offers.

During the fury of the cyclone, with the help of my male guests, I secured the huge fuel barge high up on the beach well above the sea's normal high-water mark. The last thing I needed was to lose the barge to an angry ocean. Once the rain ceased, I had a small window of opportunity to float the barge back to its usual mooring with the onset of the king tides.

After an energetic walk along the beach, I climbed on to the barge, where I sat for a while reflecting over the events of the past weeks since Cyclone Joy's arrival on Christmas Day, and contemplated my next steps. Looking out over a finally calm, still ocean, Pushkin and Rimsky joined me, sitting quietly beside me, staring into space. They, too, were a little shell-shocked in the aftermath of the cyclone and rain depression that followed.

If only we would get three weeks of solid rain now. What a blessing it would be. By 'we', I mean all the drought-affected areas in this fine country.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Dedicated to My Two Furry Rascals And All My Past Furry Mates!

Life would not be the same without my two best mates. They're never far from my side. All through my life I've either had one cat or two. My first cat, named "Socksie" was adorable. Here is the story of my first love.

My earliest recollections of my childhood extend back to an era when, even if briefly, life was simple, uncomplicated and happy. The way life is supposed to be for a young child. Sheltered from turmoils and hardships, I was allowed to run free within the safety of the boundaries set.

My mother, grandmother, older brother and I lived in premises attached to a little grocery store, in a seaside area east of Mackay. My mother had remarried. Our stepfather was also part of the equation. I felt no warmth towards him. Rarely did I encourage his attention nor did I venture to reach out to him. He was a violent man who harboured darkness in his soul. Truthfully, in reflection, I don't believe I was fearful of him. With the candour of a small child, I simply did not like him.

The store, situated close to the beach, catered to locals and regular day-trippers who came to enjoy the pleasures of the seaside. Laughter and eager chatter filled the air as folk, in brightly coloured clothes, sat under the pergola at tables adorned in crisp red and white gingham tablecloths. Bougainvillea decoratively draped itself over weather-beaten lattice. The aroma of sandwiches freshly prepared from warm bread filled the air. Each morning, I stood on tiptoes straining my small body to see above the edge of the table, as my mother prepared snacks for the hungry patrons. In eager anticipation, I watched as she cut the crusts from the bread. The crunchy tidbits bore remnants of the tasty filling of the sandwiches. These mouth-watering morsels became my special treat day after day. In my childish mind, I thought I was helping in my own small way as I hovered around my mother.

I was an extremely quiet, shy little girl. No other children lived close by with whom I could play. My timid observations of the comings and going of our daily visitors filled my days. I conducted my spying from afar. Always anxiously alert, fearful someone would see or speak to me. If such an unfortunate occurrence did eventuate, I rarely answered before I scampered back to the safety of the kitchen. However, I did have one friend. I rarely spoke to him, either. Nearby, in a run-down house, lived an elderly gentleman, his skin tanned and as tough as leather from years spent in the sun. Private and reclusive, he lived alone. An air of mystery surrounded him or so it appeared to me in my innocence. Strangely, I didn't fear him. Going against character, I felt kindly towards him. Cheerfully but meekly, I would visit him every other day, delivering his bread, milk and other minor provisions. Gingerly, I would approach him with my arms wrapped tightly around his supplies. Always he greeted me with a smile and a gentle word. My visits were brief. I wasted little time in handing him his goods before turning to scurry back home. My friend’s name was Mr Meagher. Each day he would swim in the sea. He would float, bent over with his face below the water for minutes at a time. He reminded me of a huge brown turtle.

Although I had no friends of my own age, I wasn’t lonely. With the ocean nearby, I spent many hours in the cool, calm waters or played along the beach, collecting shells and chasing the hordes of Soldier Crabs. Fortunately, I learned to swim at an early age. Because of this, I wasn't a worry to my mother or to my grandmother. My brother spent little time with me, as he was almost three years older than I. Being a girl, I compounded the problem. Often he became impatient with me, storming off in boyish disgust. He had already commenced school. He had his own group of friends, which, of course, excluded girls. Alone, in my own world, I dwelt, playing with my dolls. They were the only company I needed, I thought, until one wondrous day.

Excitement overcame me the day I was given my first pet. He was fluffy, furry and bright of eye. A beautiful grey and white tabby kitten was to become my new friend. I was smitten immediately. He was beautiful. He was mine. His four paws were snow white. To me, it appeared he wore socks. I named him “Socksie”. Socksie and I bonded instantly. Constantly, we were together. Every day new games were invented. I talked to him, petted and cuddled him constantly. We had tea parties wherein I discussed with him the day’s events. Socksie knew I would never, could never hurt him. How could I? I absolutely adored him. My small world was complete. I required nothing nor did I need anybody else to fill my heart with the love I felt for him. I was so proud. My doll family was ignored as I lavished my devoted attention on my kitten. I dressed him in their clothes, taking him for walks in my doll’s pram on sightseeing tours of my small oasis. He understood my words or so I believed. Calmly, he would lie watching my every move. Socksie had infinite patience to indulge a little girl her fantasies.

Each night I prepared a bed for him in my doll’s cot, plumping up the pillow, turning down the sheets and covers as I had watched my mother do for me. Tenderly I would place him in his bed, crooning a bedtime lullaby whilst patting him to sleep. Contented, I would go to my own bed with the knowledge that my dear friend was secure for the evening. Dreams of the adventures we would share the following days filled my nights. Unknown to me, as soon as I was tucked safely in my bed and fast asleep, he would stretch himself and spring out of his cosy cot to go adventuring on his own under the cloak of darkness. In his infinite cat wisdom, he understood the simple desires of his little mistress. Always he waited until I was asleep.

Great changes came. The shop was sold. We were moving to another town far away. The days became busy with the packing of cases, the moving of furniture. The air was alive with excitement and the thrill of adventure. A long train journey was ahead. Distance meant little to me, but I knew by the frenzied activity around me that the coming days held mystery and wonderment. My dolls were packed away in cartons. I had lengthy discussions with Socksie, informing him of what was to come. He, too, was in awe by the energy around him. A special box was in readiness for his train journey. The long-awaited day dawned. Late one night, we bundled into a taxi to be driven to the rail station. Arriving at the busy station, crowds of people milled, chatting excitedly as they waited to embark. I watched as Socksie was lifted from the taxi by my stepfather, who I decided there and then, knew nothing about cats by the way he roughly handled the cat box that was to be Socksie’s home for the duration of the train trip. Gathering my beloved friend under his arm, he headed towards the station platform. Poor Socksie was crying loudly, unaccustomed and frightened as I was from the foreign noises and strange people around us. I understood his fear. The herding people, the weird odours that permeated that odd place caused him panic. My heart cried out to him. How I wished I could hold him just for a short while to let him know I was there by his side.

The time had arrived to board the train. I looked down the platform to where my stepfather stood. Suddenly, to my amazed horror, I saw him purposely open the box. Within a split second, Socksie fled. I stood transfixed. My mouth was open but I couldn't utter a sound. Silently, I stared, as tears streamed down my face. Nothing around me appeared real. Time froze. I stood paralysed on the station platform. Totally powerless, I was unable to save my beloved pet. Finally, finding my voice, I screamed out to Socksie but he was gone. What could a small child do? I was bewildered, shattered and nobody could help me. I turned. Looking towards where my stepfather stood, I noticed a sneer on his face. I hated him for his heartlessness and cruelty. That night I experienced my first heartbreak...the loss of my first love, Socksie. And I've never forgotten him, nor that horrible night.

Fun acrylic "Feeling Groovy" and graphite drawing "Curiosity Didn't Kill The Cat" painted and drawn by me.

Friday, January 19, 2007


The aroma of Mexico is floating through my cabin this morning. I soaked a whole packet of dried red kidney beans overnight. Presently, they're cooking in a huge pot with finely chopped onions, garlic, celery, red capsicum/peppers, cherry tomatoes from my garden, canned Roma tomatoes, fresh herbs, again from my garden, tomato paste, powdered chicken stock, a pinch of dried chillies, again from my garden, coriander/cilantro, a couple of teaspoons of raw sugar and freshly ground black pepper. I couldn't see any point to preparing a small quantity. My intentions are to have tacos, tortillas or nachos over this weekend, whichever one takes my fancy when starvation kicks in. The balance of the beans, I'll freeze in meal-size quantities for devouring later.

Other than preparing the beans, I've done little this morning. With all this tennis going on here at the moment, my nights are very active and lengthy! The quarter-read Saturday paper is still spread over my bed that I've not yet. made. One cat's on the roof, running to the guttering, poking his head over, meowing every time I venture out the back door. My other cat is inside here with me, sleeping. I did a quick dash to the supermarket again this morning as I wanted more peaches. They're on special this week. I ate most of my stock purchased yesterday watching the tennis last night until an ungodly hour. Very tasty and tempting they are, so I needed to refill my stores. I eat lots of fruit. The only difference between me and a fruit bat is I don't sleep upside down, hanging by my ankles. And that is debatable at times, particularly on a day like today when I have a friend urging me by email to pop open a bottle of wine to assist her in celebrating her birthday! As if I need any excuse! The sun's has almost reached the yard-arm. It looks like I'll have to concede and hand her the victory medal for the day. Excuse me while I pop the cork from this bottle!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Grab Your Coffee...Sit Back...Relax And Enjoy the Ride....

To my mind, the months of April and May are amongst the best times to be in the tropical areas of North Queensland. Skies of azure, unblemished by clouds other than perhaps flimsy wisps of almost transparent gossamer. An ocean so calm it looks like a floor constructed of glass. One glorious day as described, I flew by light aircraft, a four-seater, to the mouth of the Hull River, north of Tully. We flew low over the Family Group of Islands, which includes Bedarra and Dunk Islands. The ocean bed, clearly visible below appeared to have only six inches of water covering it, so crystal-clear was the sea.

It was in April, whether by coincidence, luck, fate or a bit of each, a group of guests arrived to the island by sea-plane. They were strangers to each other, except for one couple (who weren't really a 'couple'), Tim and Susie. Equally, of course, they were strangers to me when they first set foot on the island, a situation soon to be rectified.

Gaby, a thirty-something, career-driven lass from Sydney alighted first, looking a little stressed. Tim and Susie settled themselves eagerly into the punt that picked up the guests from the sea-plane. Gingerly, a tall, timid-looking fellow, Dennis, stepped into the punt, with the help my guiding arm. He set himself apart from the rest of us. This was to be his wont for the next couple days and nights we were to discover...until, that is, combined, we broke his resolve!,

After the 'greet-and-meet', something I did with all guests upon their arrival, whether by boat or sea- plane, the new guests were escorted to their respective cabins. All cabins were occupied after the arrival of this interesting-looking group, about 32 guests in total from memory. Remember, only 15 cabins were privately hidden amongst the foliage along the beach-front at that time. Nowadays, the amount has doubled. To recap, the resort at Cape Richards on Hinchinbrook Island covers only 22 acres of the total 245 square miles of the island. The rest of the island is a national park in care of the National Parks and Wildlife Department.

I didn't set eyes upon the new group of 'islanders' until pre-dinner drinks around the bar that first evening. After mingling with the guests at the bar as I always did, I joined my new guests at their table for dinner. Dennis, dressed in a vibrant lime-green shirt, once again set himself apart from everyone else, choosing to sit alone at a table in a corner. This was not to be...I treated all my dinner guests as if they were guests in my own home...the restaurant area was my dining room. I coerced and cajoled at length, finally breaking down his reserve. He joined me at the table with the rest of the new-comers. Well, that was the beginning of a most wonderful, fun-filled, insane, crazy week!

Tim, a journalist with a well-respected financial magazine in this country, the "The Bulletin", was highly intelligent, gentle, quiet and extremely humorous. Susie, who worked in advertising, from memory, was as bright as the shiniest button, a little avant-garde...well, a wee bit more that 'a little', and dressed accordingly. Both were from Melbourne. Gaby, the stressed career girl soon shed her 'city' worries, settling quickly into the island spirit. Gaby was from Sydney. Dennis, also from Melbourne...well....Dennis, shy, seemingly without humour, studious, silent unless urged to utter a word or two, sat amongst this motley crew of degenerates, which included me, not knowing which way to look. Unsuccessfully, he tried to escape our evil clutches each following evening! Dennis, as I discovered later, was using his holiday on the island as a time to consider his future. He had been offered a post at Oxford University.

Sun-filled, warm not hot days and balmy, playful nights followed. Dennis tried his utmost to distance himself from the 'group' but none of us would allow this to happen. After our first night of hilarity, he sat at another table with other guests, trying to remain invisible! How could he? His lime-green shirt let him down every time! Yes...he lived in that shirt! We came to the conclusion it was the only shirt he had brought with him. It was obviously his favourite shirt because wherever he went the shirt was sure to follow! By the fourth night, he realised he couldn't fight us any longer, so he gave in and rejoined our madcap activities. It was the best thing that could have happened to this 40 year-old bachelor! We certainly opened up his vistas! The rest of the group were in their early thirties.

I always mingled with my guests but never to the extent that I did with this particular group. We all 'clicked' for whatever reason. Our personalities, views on life, our senses of humour, our characters all melded. We bonded. We were a bit like the "Famous Five" out of Enid Blyton books, but much more wicked! And once Dennis learned how to relax, he let his guard down more than he ever had done in his past, I'm sure. He went with the 'flow'. He enjoyed himself as he never believed he could have. The lime-green shirt went wherever he went. I'm sure he slept in it! One day while he was out swimming in the ocean, Susie, Gaby and I stole and hid the damn thing, much to his despair!

It was Thursday afternoon around four-fifteen. I was in my office doing some paper work, when the lime-green shirt, and Dennis, appeared at the door.

"Come on!" He said.

"Where?" I replied.

"I'm taking you out in the canoe!" He spluttered excitedly.

"The canoe! I've never been in a canoe in my life! Have you?" I laughed. "I can't...I've got work to do!"

"No...I've never been in a canoe, either...but today is the day! Come on! 'No' is not an answer I will accept!"

"Oh! My God! What am I letting myself into!" I exclaimed as he dragged me bodily from my office.

Down to the little beach beside the jetty we went with much gaiety, me, protesting, laughing all the way.

At that point in my life, I had never before rowed anything, let alone paddled a canoe!

Like Pocahontas and Hiawatha off the two of us went, unstably! Dennis was like a person driven, driven from some inner demon of a hidden, long-forgotten sense of the ridiculous. We talked. We laughed and we giggled like two school children. When he was paddling one way, I paddled the other. Somehow, even with our lack of expertise at paddling we soon were approaching the bend leading towards Macushla Beach, both of us drenched from tears of laughter and from sea water!

"We have to turn around and go back, Dennis! I've got to race home and get changed for the restaurant!" The sun was now on its descent beyond the mountains behind Cardwell on the mainland.

As we struggled on our return trip, Johnno, my barman I wrote about in a previous post, was at the end of the jetty in the distance. He spotted us. I called out to him to come and rescue us. Jumping into the island boat, a yellow Abalone, which my staff had named "Lady of the Island" in my honour, Johnno came to our rescue like a knight of days of old. He towed us back to the jetty, making our return journey much quicker if we had been left to our own devices...thank goodness! It was a fun finale to our equally fun excursion! Our spontaneous adventure was the main topic of conversation over dinner that evening.

Dennis's time on the island came to an end on the Friday. He planned leaving on the island Reef Cat in the afternoon, catching a Greyhound coach at Cardwell, en route further north to spend a couple of days in Cairns. He was the focus of our attention on his final night. Gaby, Susie, Tim and I threatened we would all book into an adjoining room at the hotel in which he would be staying at Cairns. How dare he escape from the 'group'! One could tell by the look on his face he wasn't sure whether to believe us or not! We weren't going to let him get away that easily! He left as planned the following afternoon, amongst much joviality, mingled with a little sadness. Dennis was a changed person to the one who had arrived a few days earlier. His decision had been made during all the crazy fun and games and, also during his quiet walks, lost in his own thoughts, along the beach or through the rainforest to adjacent beaches. He decided to accept the Oxford University posting. To my surprise, when I arrived back at my office after farewelling Dennis, on my desk was a parcel wrapped in paper. Upon opening it, I let out a loud laugh. It was the infamous lime-green shirt! Dennis had bequeathed it to me! When Susie, Tim and Gaby arrived at the bar that evening, I called them into my office. I had a crazy plan!

I knew the hotel Dennis would be staying in, in Cairns. I also knew the time of his arrival. So I gathered my gang around the phone and made a call! As Dennis answered the phone in his hotel room, we all shouted out..."Open your door, Dennis! We're right outside! We couldn't do without you, so we've come up to join you!" There was a moment's silence from his end of the phone. Today, still, I'm not sure if it was from horror at the prospect!

The week drew to a close. Saturday morning raised it's ugly head all too soon. Tim, Susie and Gaby, my new, crazy, kindred spirits were leaving on the 1pm sea-plane back to mainland 'sanity'. They wandered down to the restaurant forlornly. I was in my office feeling similar emotions. It was crazy. We'd only known each other for a week, but we had shared such wonderful moments.

I never invited guests to my home (only twice I did so...the other time was one night I had Derryn Hinch, Jackie and Jackie's son, Dylan to dinner during the week they stayed on Hinchinbrook)....my little house on the island was my sanctuary...my escape and I protected my privacy. However, that morning, it seemed the right thing to do. I invited my 'partners-in-crime' to my home for coffee as there was time before the planes' arrival and their departure. We certainly were a maudlin mob! All the laughter we'd shared the past week had evaporated.

Tears were shed, not only by us girls. I noticed moisture glistening in Tim's eyes, too. Never will I be convinced he had something in his eye! The farewells were sad, but mingled with the sadness were glorious, happy memories of a time well spent.

Susie, as she stepped from the jetty into the punt (normally, I joined the guests in the punt, but this day, purposely, I didn't) that was to take them to the sea-plane, turned her face up towards me and said...."There is something waiting for you when you get back to your house...have a look out on the deck." With those words, she smiled and waved. I waited at the end of the jetty until the sea-plane lifted itself out of the water to commence its flight over the island, south to Townsville. Feeling despondent, I strolled slowly back to my house, thoughts of the past week sifting through my mind. I walked out on my deck as instructed by Susie, and there, hanging on a fine thread from a beam on the ocean side was a crystal. It sparkled brilliantly in the sunshine, reflecting the sun's glittering rays upon the sapphire sea out front. Final tears flowed, then a wistful mellow contentment settled throughout my being. That week, full of unexpected surprises, has remained firmly entrenched in my file of "fond memories". I'm sure the others feel the same way, even though we have since lost contact with each other. I did, however, visit each one of them, during my trips to Sydney and Melbourne after their visit. I had dinner in Melbourne with Dennis the week before he left for England and his tenure at Oxford.

As a finale to this lengthy tale....I was aware that Dennis, when he left Cairns, was boarding another Greyhound Coach south to Townsville airport for his flight back to Melbourne. Forever the clown and prankster, I organised with a friend in Cardwell to purchase some lime-green poster-board. I had her print on the bright cardboard, in very large, black letters "Come Back, Dennis! The Island Misses You!" You guessed it...as the coach, filled with passengers, pulled into Cardwell, Bonnie stepped out in front of the laden bus, waving the banner! It caused quite a stir, together with lots of excitement and laughter. Dennis did enjoy the special treatment...it was his moment in the sun!

A most memorable, cherished vignette...