G'day! Pull up a chair! Join me at the kitchen table for a chat...let's toss a few thoughts around about the state of this crazy but wonderful world we inhabit. There's lots to discuss! Make yourself comfortable! Would you like a glass of wine?
Sunday, August 26, 2012
PUPPY LOVE - THE ONE THAT BROKE FREE FROM THE LEASH….
In 1960, Paul Anka sang about it when he became smitten with Annette Funicello.
Shamelessly, three years earlier he had already declared his undying love for “Diana”! Back in 1957, he proclaimed emphatically; “You Are My Destiny”! He pleaded to “Diana”; “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” while confessing his “Crazy Love” for her, but she declined. Her refusal upset Paul. He wept as he admitted he was a “Lonely Boy”.
Soon after Paul’s “Diana” infatuation palled, it was then that his affection for Annette Funicello began. He fell under Annette’s spell when he spotted her gallivanting at the ocean’s edge with Frankie Avalon at a Beach Party. Avalon, by the way, thought her his “Venus”.
Not caring who heard, Frankie professed openly – “I Will Wait for You”; but he didn’t stand a chance once Paul slid down the dunes wearing his "budgie smugglers"!
Overcome with his desire for Annette, Paul warbled “Puppy Love” whenever in her presence (and when not); she was a goner from that moment on! The passion disintegrated rapidly, however, when Paul blurted out to the world: “You’re Having My Baby!” Annette wanted nothing more to do with him. Defeated, Paul said; ‘That’s it, then! From now on I’ll do it “My Way”!’
Marcie Blane warned all the girls within earshot that she was “Bobby’s Girl”. She told Connie Francis to back off when she heard Connie scream at Bobby; “That ‘Lipstick on Your Collar’ is mine!”
Down the road and around the corner, Little Peggy March didn’t discriminate, nor did she care who heard when she belted out at the top of her lungs; “I Will Follow Him!” as she marched after him. We never discovered who “him” was. Did she ever catch up with him; or is he still dodging her; and she, still marching behind?
We listened intently to all the love songs; we sang, danced and, sometimes, wept along to them. In our dreams we wished we had someone who would sing words of everlasting devotion to us; with lyrics that would melt our tender teenage hearts, and fulfill our teenage fantasies. How we longed to experience that special feeling so difficult to describe unless possessed of poetic or songwriting abilities like those of Paul Anka, Neil Sedaka, Dion and others of their ilk; the almost indescribable emotion when one’s heart and trembling tummy felt like they were bouncing up and down on a trampoline. The lows that came with the massive highs we learned to deal with by shedding a torrent of tears while promising to no one in particular; “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again!”
I had a big dose of the “woofs” aka “puppy love” the moment I locked eyes with a handsome young drummer in a Gympie band. I was a starry-eyed 14-year old high school student. My heart was his prisoner for a few years. We only ever locked eyes! Ours was love at arms’ length! Sadly he has now passed away, but, to this day he still holds a place in my heart. That’s not a bad thing; it’s kind of romantic in a way. Puppy love is important to one’s emotional growth, in my opinion.
Veal with Artichoke Hearts: Combine 1/4c plain flour, salt and pepper. Pound to ¼-inch thickness, 250g veal cutlets; coat cutlets in the flour. Melt 1/4c butter in skillet; add cutlets; brown; add 1 can, drained, quartered artichoke hearts, 1tbs lemon juice and 1/2c dry white wine. Cook 2-3mins.
Marsala Tenderloins: With tender loving care, pound to ¼-inch thickness 450-500g pork tenderloin (fillet); coat in flour mixture as for veal. Heat 3tbs olive oil in large pan over med-high heat; cook pork 2-3mins; brown all sides; remove to platter; set aside. Add 250g sliced mushrooms and 2 thinly-sliced onions to pan; sauté 6-8mins; stir in 1/2c Marsala; (add a little cream, too, if you like); cook a couple of minutes; return pork; season; cook 3-4mins.
Cupid’s Ice Cream Cupcakes: Grab two of those rich chocolate cupcakes you made; place on individual plates; top with a scoop of chocolate ice cream. Drizzle with caramel sauce; sprinkle each with chopped pecans and toasted shredded coconut; decorate with sliced strawberries.
Sweetheart Fudge Pie: Beat 1/2c butter and 3/4c firmly-packed brown sugar at med-speed until light and fluffy; add 3 large eggs, one at a time; beat after each addition. Stir in 375g melted semi-sweet chocolate, 2tsp instant coffee granules and 1tsp vanilla; stir in 1/2c plain flour and 1c chopped walnuts/pecans; pour into unbaked pastry shell. Bake in 190C oven, 25mins; cool completely; chill.
Hot Caribbean Kiss: Heat 75ml good quality golden rum with 1tbs raisins, 1tsp marmalade and 1tsp brown sugar until sugar and marmalade dissolve. Pour into a wine glass; decorate with strips of lemon and orange zest.
Monday, August 20, 2012
TURN…TURN…TURN….TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON….
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace... I swear it’s not too late
Along with “the sun also rises” and “there is nothing new under the sun” and many other astute aphorisms, The Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament attested - to everything there is a season; and a time for every purpose under the heaven.
Learned scholars date Ecclesaistes back to the 3rd Century BC; while some others of similar learning support a 4th Century dating. What’s in a century or two; either which way the profound philosophies expounded therein remain wise and pertinent to this day. I wonder if there is anyone around nowadays whose thoughts will still be respectfully quoted in thousands of centuries hence!
I’m not sure if I agree with all that was written in the above snippet. For instance, is there really a “time to kill”? In the broad sense, I guess there is...particularly if you’re not a vegetarian. But then, it could be said that vegetarians aren’t exempt…they do kill plants. And as for a “time to reap what is planted” – that, too, can have ramifications if what was planted in the first instance was illegal, if you get my drift!
It’s sad; so very distressing; and so very wrong that there has to be “a time of war”. I wish there was never again a time for the purpose of war; that “a time of peace” lasted forever.
I’ve always been a dreamer.
In 1959, noted folk singer/songwriter, Pete Seeger pondered a while upon Ecclesiastes’ “there is a season”. Seeger adapted it entirely except for the last line; and then set it to music. Within a couple of years it was spinning on our turntables as “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Pete Seeger released his version in 1962 as did the folk group, “The Limelighters. Three years later in 1965, “The Byrds” turned the song into a massive, enduring hit. Many others, including Judy Collins jumped onto our turntables and into the airwaves with their cover versions.
I feel very fortunate to have lived in such an era filled with a multiple of wonderful groups like “The Byrds”; “Crosby, Stills & Nash”; “The Flying Burritos”, to name but three out of so many.
And before those groups hit the scene, I feel so lucky to have spent many evenings sitting around with friends, sipping on coffee; searching for the meaning of life, while listening to the likes of Seeger, Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba, Odetta, The New Christy Minstrels, Josh White et al...the list goes on forever. And that was just in the early Sixties…before the revolution hit! Before bands like “The Byrds” came along – and then a whole new fleet of music-makers arrived on our doorsteps, taking us along for the ride. And what a ride it was!
I’ve not even crossed the Atlantic Ocean from the US to the UK, yet; I’ll take that cruise later down the track.
In the meantime, Creedence Clearwater was just being revived; and Jimmy Buffet hadn’t yet found the perfect recipe for Margaritas! Willie was still on the road...again; and John Denver was leaving on a jet plane; that was long before he decided to take the country roads back home, instead; after all, he was a country boy at heart; and he thanked God that he was.
We were all shook up when Elvis was shipped off to Germany. Upon his return we couldn’t help falling in love with him all over again. We were glad the US Army obeyed our call to have Elvis returned to sender!
Neil Diamond declared that he was a believer and the Monkees believed him; and soon, the rest of us fell under his spell, too and toasted him with some Crackling Rosie. Neil didn’t mind being a solitary man and when sweet Caroline comforted him, he turned to her and said: “Girl, You’ll be a woman soon.”
To be continued…..I’m on a roll and like a rolling stone, I shall gather no moss!
Friday, August 10, 2012
DOWN, BUT NOT OUT! FLOORED, BUT NOT FLAWED!
When we’re young - to clarify, I mean those of you who slot into my vintage; we who were young yesterday; and are mature today; now I’ve sorted that out, I’ll return to where I began - when we were young we believed we had a one-way ticket to love. However, it didn’t take me long to think beyond the box; I bought a book of tickets, rather than just one sole ticket. Our tender, innocent hearts were bent or broken more than once. Mine was, but I had a good supply of band-aids and spare tickets on hand to see me through.
There were times I felt down, but never out. Like “Scarlett O’Hara”, I believed “tomorrow was another day”; it still is. And just like Scarlett, I picked myself up; took a look around and realised that a new day invariably brought with it fresh challenges, hopes, dreams; and another, maybe even improved, un-flawed person of interest. Perhaps it was the new boy in town or the tanned Adonis flexing his muscles at the beach who deserved a second glance and closer examination, even if from afar and unbeknown by him, the unsuspecting subject/victim! Feeling down isn’t fun unless it’s the down an Eider duck has generously donated for a quilt!
We soon learn that reality isn’t like the lives depicted in novels or in movies where the scripts are pre-written; and then erased and rewritten to suit; where questions have already been answered on the pages that follow; or when the next scene unfolds upon the screen. If the author or director doesn’t like where a plot is heading, he/she deletes or yells “Cut!” whichever applies; and then starts all over again on a new vein. If that doesn’t work, they delete or cut until the story makes sense; culminating in an ending befitting the plot and the images in their mind.
The hero with his penetrating eyes; an errant lock of hair falling across his broad brow; his teasing, come-hither lips parted slightly with a hint of a sneer seductively tempts his quarry to heed his bidding. His defenseless prey (and reader/viewer) helplessly surrenders to his “come-hither-ing”. If you are a male reading this, change the above to “heroine”; you fill in the blanks.
I’m a “black and white” person, but it’d be un-Christian of me not to notice there’s a lot of “Grey” matter about lately; and I’m not going to miss out on all the fun…and games. I feel like jumping on the bandwagon or bouncing up and down on that down-filled doona.
I thought I heard a strong wind outside; I was floored when I learned it wasn’t wind! It was all the heavy breathing engulfing the mountain at the moment! While out driving the other day, I noticed every second house had fogged-up windows. When I discovered the real cause, again I was floored! The fogging wasn’t caused by log fires! Obviously, there’s nothing bland or boring about having a little grey in one’s life!
Showing great restraint, here are my somewhat grey recipes!
Christian Grey B & B (that's "Bread and Butter", not "Bed and Breakfast"!) Pudding: Preheat oven 180C; grease and line loaf tin. Pour 200ml each milk and cream into saucepan; stir in 2tsp Earl Grey tea leaves. Heat until not quite simmering; leave at this temp for 10-12mins; add 75g sugar and 1tsp vanilla essence; whisk; pour in thin stream into 3 beaten eggs. Slice 6 croissants on shallow angle, getting 4 thick slices from each. Dip slices into mixture until well-soaked. Line bottom of tin with slices; sprinkle over slivered almonds and roughly-chopped dark chocolate; continue layering; reserve some almonds and chocolate to sprinkle over top layer. Carefully pour any remaining liquid around tin edges; bake 40mins or until set.
Grey’s Cupcakes with Butter Cream: Preheat oven 176C; fill 2 cupcakes pans with liners or grease well, Beat 1c unsalted butter until creamy; add 2c sugar; cream until light and fluffy; add 4 eggs, 1 at a time; beat very well after each addition. Beat in 1-1/2c S.R. flour along with 2tbs dry Earl Grey tea; add 1c milk and extra 1-1/2c S.R. flour; stir until just combined. Fill pans 2/3rd full; bake 20-25mins; rotate halfway through for even baking; cool thoroughly. Frosting: Cream 1c unsalted butter until smooth; gradually beat in 4c icing sugar; zest 1 lemon over frosting; add 3tbs lemon juice or Limoncello; stir until smooth; spread or pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Add 1tbs Earl Grey tea leaves to frosting for extra “oomph”, if desired.
Vanilla Grey Tea Cake: Preheat oven 176C. Lightly grease and flour 8-inch round cake tin. Combine 1-1/2c sifted plain flour, 1/4c cornflour, 1-1/2tsp baking powder and 1/4ts salt. In larger bowl, beat 1/2c unsalted butter, 3/4c raw sugar, vanilla essence and 1tbs finely chopped Earl Grey loose tea, until light and fluffy; add 3 room temp eggs, 1 at a time; beat well after each addition. Add flour mixture to wet mixture; pour in 1c full cream milk; mix until just blended - don’t over-mix; immediately pour into pan; bake until inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 25mins. Cool in pan 12mins before serving.
There you go! My abridged version - "Three Shades of Grey"!
Saturday, August 04, 2012
EMBRACE LIFE…EMBRACE A LIFE WORTH HAVING KNOWN…EMBRACE THE MEMORIES…FOREVER
A friend from my past; of nigh on fifty years ago in my past, to be exact, tracked me down a few weeks ago; perhaps a couple of months ago, knowing how rapidly time disappears as it turns every second into the past! These days it seems a year that once contained 12 months, no longer is as long.
I touched on my reconnection with an old friend briefly in an earlier post, I know; but so many memories; so many thoughts have been stirred and shaken these last few weeks. Sorry, Mr Bond!
Every day since he and I met up again through the marvel of the internet, we’ve been corresponding in great depth and length; and within that “depth” and “length”, my new-old friend has tossed a lot of questions my way; questions that have caused me to delve deeply into my past…a past that began long before he and I knew each other in our heady teenage years; and continued as each day passed through all the intervening years between then and now.
I’ve answered many of his questions; and there are many more awaiting a response from me; I know he has a bank full of queries still to be asked of me. This has caused me to wonder in answering some questions - where do I draw the line between loyalties? I believe in honesty; but I also believe in protecting those I hold dear, and I wonder if I do, in fact, have the right to discuss them without their knowledge or permission; even if they’ve passed from this world.
My mind is always very active, but lately it’s been working overtime!
Isaac Newton once declared…(If the truth be known, he probably declared similar more than once)…“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”…or words to that effect.
Because of our reconnection, my friend from the past and I have covered a lot of ground, with much more territory to cover, no doubt. We would both make great turf-layers if the amount of ground we’ve covered is an indicator; and we still have much to cover!
From our correspondence and prompted by the strangeness of life (and I’m unable to explain how or why a lot in life happens); I asked my friend one day if he knew of a particular family who lived in the town where he spent his childhood...Maryborough. The youngest daughter of that family had been a member of my staff when I managed the resort at Cape Richards, Hinchinbrook Island. And, because “life” is so in-explicitly weird at times, he did, in fact, know the family. Proof again that life is very strange. The family lived down the road from where my friend ran a corner store years ago. And, the young lady I enquired about was just a little girl at the time; the youngest in a close-knit Catholic family. As a child, she shyly spent time in his shop; her keen eyes longingly caressing the lolly jars.
Bronwyn (Bronnie) was her name.
Bronwyn and I first met in Noosa when I owned and operated a greengrocery/healthfood store in Hastings Street. Bronnie worked in “Miss Piggy’s”; a take-away shop in the same complex as my business. Often when on a “break”, Bronnie popped into my shop for a chat and a freshly-baked muesli cookie; or perhaps a slice of carrot-pineapple cake, still warm from the oven. She was a sweet young lass; quite young for her years compared to some of her peers.
When Bronwyn heard that I was leaving Noosa to take up the management of Hinchinbrook Island’s resort she rushed into my shop one morning; she pulled up the old Bentwood chair, and with determination in her eyes, she pleaded with me to give her a job; for me to take her with me to the island.
“Bronnie,’ I said. “You have to realise that island life is going to be so much different to your life here in Noosa. All your friends are here. Your Mum and Dad are here. You go out all the time with your mates to the clubs etc; you go surfing; you go partying. There’ll be nothing like that on the island. Island life will be totally and completely different to your life here in Noosa! There'll be only a handful of us living on the island…probably no more than 12, maybe 15 at peak times…work mates; you'll be living in each others' pockets There are no roads on the island; no vehicles; no shops…no nothing! Other than the guest cabins, the restaurant and the staff quarters, there is little else! Do you think you could handle that?”
She kept trying to interrupt me with her arguments "for" her desire; and I kept bringing up all the “cons” in an attempt to make her understand the remoteness of life on Hinchinbrook Island. Hinchinbrook was like no other island resort. “The only footprints on the beach will be your own”; “maximum population 30”; and “a million miles from everywhere” were its mantras.
I recognised immediately that I was fighting a losing battle; but with one last charge, I said:
“Bronnie, I want you to go away; sleep on this overnight or longer, if you wish…longer would perhaps be the better idea. I want you to really, really give this a lot of thought. Weigh the pros and the cons; and then come back to me. Give it a lot of thought; don’t look at it through rose-coloured glasses. I’ll make my decision when next I see you.”
I had a very strong inkling that her mind was already made up. No matter what I said, my chances of changing her mind were very slim!
First thing next morning…there she was; a broad smile on her face as she bounced into my shop, full of vim and vigour; and positivity! I knew from the look upon her face that I was the loser in the battle. I’d been defeated, fairly and squarely! However, as it turned out, I ended being the winner; or better still….both Bronnie and I were winners. We tied for first place!
A month or so later, having sold my shop and my much-loved, difficult-to-part-with 1958 MG Magnette Varitone; and after having tied up or snipped off all other loose ends, I headed north to the tropics to begin a new adventure. Shortly thereafter, Bronwyn also arrived ready for whatever lay ahead for her.
During the first few weeks of my debut into island life the resort was closed to the public while certain necessary construction work was carried out. A new, large timber deck with sturdy wooden tables set permanently into it was erected around the pool. A section of the deck cantilevered out beyond the beach below.
Cyclone Winifred had passed through Mission Beach, just north of Hinchinbrook shortly before my arrival. Fortunately, the only major damage suffered by the resort was the old jetty. It was destroyed by the cyclone’s fury; but “Winnie” actually did us a favour. A stronger, larger jetty replaced the old, rickety one.
A week before the resort was due to open once again to guests, Bronwyn’s 21st birthday was due. It was evident to all she was eager to celebrate. I knew she was feeling homesick for her family and friends, and her longing was even more so at this major time in her life.
She kept hinting, quite vocally, and often, valiantly trying to learn if I had anything planned for her special day. Being one who is quite fond of teasing, I kept a straight face each time she asked what I had planned for her. Without flinching, my somewhat curt answer each time was:
“I’m very sorry, Bronnie; but you can see what’s going on around here. We’re all so busy…everyone has their time cut out for them! We’re racing against the clock! I just don’t have time to plan anything for you; not at this point! None of us has any time for anything other than trying to get all this work done; getting the resort ready for its re-opening on 8th March is difficult enough without me having to plan a party! I’m so sorry, Bronwyn, but that’s just the way it is. Perhaps I can organise something further down the track.”
I stayed strong; I remained stoic each time I saw her face fall; every time I witnessed the disappointment in her eyes; but I had a surprise party all planned for Bronnie. Unfortunately for her, she was going to be the last to know!
It was difficult to remain impassive; indifferent; and every time she asked, I felt so bad inside; but I must be honest - at the same time I was having fun because I knew that come the time of the party, Bronnie would be thrilled to pieces by what I had planned, All her pain and dashed hopes caused by my subterfuge would be worthwhile in the end!
My strategy was set in stone; and nothing and no one was going to divert me from my course and mission; not even the disappointment clearly shown on Bronwyn’s face, day after day; time after time. Her hints had soon turned into heartfelt pleas; but she was thwarted at every post! My determination was greater than hers! I refused to surrender!
The tradesmen employed to erect the deck and build the new jetty joined the resort staff at meal times. My staff spent their days eagerly tending to the finishing touches around the restaurant and guest cabins in readiness for the arrival our first merry holiday-makers. There was an electric buzz in the air.
A long table was set up in the restaurant, and each meal time, like a big family, everyone gathered together around the table sharing their stories. Laughter and much chatter normally filled the air.
Come breakfast time on Bronnie’s big day she was the last to arrive down from the staff quarters. While waiting on her appearance, I urged the rest of the staff to ignore the fact that it was her birthday; for them to pretend the day was no different to any other. Our act was going to be carried out to its not-so-bitter-but-very-happy-end! Everyone knew what I had in store, so they willingly went along with the fun, games and deceit. No one wanted to let the cat out of the bag. And, anyway, I had a far more exciting surprise awaiting Bronnie than a cat in a bag, or a “Jack-in-the-Box”!
Bronnie finally made her entrance, dragging her feet behind her. Hardly anyone raised their heads when she sat down at the table. Each gave a bit of a grunt in recognition of her joining them, before continuing with their conversations and breakfast cereals. Her face grew longer by the second, and more sombre by the minute. I excused myself from the table and went into my office that was behind the bar to collect a gift-wrapped box. I returned to the breakfasting group armed with the parcel.
Bronnie’s eyes lit up when I handed her the box; but her delight was short-lived; it quickly changed into shocked horror. Upon opening the box out jumped two cane toads! She let out a loud scream while simultaneously leaping out of her chair. She jumped higher than the toads! The toads, relieved at being released, hopped across the restaurant floor on their way to freedom. Everyone broke out in uproarious laughter …except Bronwyn. With happy birthday greetings gleefully following her, in a huff, she stomped out of the restaurant and away from all of the offenders; and she refused to talk to anyone for the rest of the day! Little wonder; but her best surprise was still in store. And I knew that she had no idea what lay ahead for her. It was as I’d wanted and planned it to be. Everything was going along so smoothly. How mean can one person be?
The day passed uneventfully. I’d asked the staff to go about their business as if it was a normal day, but to finish up a little earlier in the afternoon than they usually did; to give them time to shower, change and arrive back down at the restaurant/bar and deck in readiness for the grand celebration. Bronwyn, still sulking, naturally arrived down much later than her co-workers! At one point, I thought she wasn't going to turn up!
The look upon her beautiful face was worth all the pain; the agony; the hurt; the shock I’d put her through when she finally did show! She was so happily surprised. Her excitement was unbridled. She’d not even had the slightest, tiniest suspicion that anything had been planned for her birthday.
To this day, I can still feel her embrace; and I can still hear her words of thanks. All was forgiven; I was forgiven!
She’d never been to a live concert, so one of her “real” birthday presents was two tickets to Dire Straits live in concert on 2nd April, 1986 at Dean Park, Townsville. Amongst other gifts, a bottle of Bourbon was a fine substitute for cane toads, too.
Bronwyn banished her homesick-birthday-blues that night by celebrating high-spiritedly on the deck at Cape Richards’ Resort, Hinchinbrook Island. Surrounded by her group of new friends, her newly-found work-mates - all of whom came to love her; she and all who shared in her 21st birthday celebration had a wonderful, fun-filled evening under sparkling stars lined up in chorus to a silver moon; with the sounds of the ocean serenading in the background. How could one not have a great time in those conditions?
That night was only the beginning of many more adventures; of many more stories yet to be told; of many memories that will remain embedded in my mind; and in my heart...forever.
Bronwyn had something special about her; a light glowed from within; brightly she shone with eagerness, excitement and expectations of what lay ahead.
I received word from Bronnie’s husband last night, Saturday 4th August, 2012;
Bronnie passed away on Friday evening, 3rd August, 2012…at 10.25 pm, at the Mossman Hospital. Bronwyn was 47 years of age.
Bronwyn not only has left behind her husband, Brett and their four, wonderful children, ranging in age from 19 years to nine years; but she has left behind many, many loving, fun memories and many good friends.
All of these are her legacy.
Bronwyn embraced life…I hope she can feel my embrace, now.
Orchid Beach, Hinchinbrook Island
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