Saturday, December 22, 2012


Wow! 1992 was 20 years ago! Unbelievable! December 1992 found me in Collinsville. I was Chef-Manager of the single men’s mess and accommodation; catering to the needs of miners employed by MIM’s Collinsville Coal. Morris Catering was my employer.

Before transferring to Collinsville, I was the chef/cook at the Glenden Country Motor Inn’s “Lorikeets’ Restaurant”. Morris owned both the motel and restaurant; and, they also held the contract for the miners’ canteen; their accommodation and cleaning. Two hours drive west of Mackay, Glenden was created to service Newlands Coal Mine; its construction began in 1982. With the motel and restaurant’s main clientele being bankers, financiers, company representatives etc., December and January were notoriously quiet.

Prior to Christmas 1992, the motel managers decided to utilise the quiet period. They jumped on board the first outward-bound canoe; and off they paddled across the ditch to New Zealand to visit relatives for a couple of weeks. That’s not quite true – they boarded an Air New Zealand flight; but the former sounds more colourful and adventurous! I was asked to step in as manager when they absconded. My job description also included “dog-cat-sitter”. Fortunately, my brother, who lived in Mackay, took his annual holidays at the same time; he offered to take care of my menagerie in Collinsville on my behalf.

An extremely hot Christmas Day arrived. I’d accepted an invitation to join friends for the buffet lunch at the town’s Workers’ Club. Dressed in a flowing white cotton dress for comfort in the oppressive heat, immediately upon hopping into my Hyundai Excel hatchback, I wound down the windows in a futile attempt to encourage and capture a renegade draft of cool air.

With my head in the non-existent clouds, I was quarter of the way along Glenden’s main thoroughfare when, out of the blue, I sensed heavy breathing at my right ear. (I knew it wasn’t Christian Grey because “Fifty Shades” had not yet been written). To my surprise, level with my head; about two inches from my face was another face, that of Bundy, the managers’ enthusiastically-determined cream English Setter! His unruly tongue flopped out the side of his mouth as he raced alongside my car. Bundy had one eye on me; and the other on the road; his wet nose within inches of mine. My nose was dry! Stopping, I opened the passenger door. Without hesitation, onto the passenger seat leapt an excited Bundy. He was going wherever I was going – he thought! Bundy was a beautiful dog; he and I had formed a special bond when I was living and working in Glenden. I did have a tendency to spoil him; it wasn't difficult to do. I took him back to the motel.

The above scene was re-enacted three times. By the final stages of the circus, I was a dripping mess; I, too, ended up with a wet nose! Eventually, I locked Bundy in my unit with filled water bowls at his disposal; the air-conditioning on, and a promise of a doggie bag brimming with Christmas treats upon my return.

Tiger, the tabby cat reclining on the sofa barely twitched a whisker; but he did toss Bundy a look that said; “Stupid dog! Who’d want to be outside on a hot day like this! Dogs! Harumph!”

I, too, feel the need to yell out "Hey! Wait for me! I'm coming, too!" Time.

For starters, I want Time to slow down! I’ve been unable to keep pace with it this year; or for the past few, to be honest. I’m lagging behind; I can't keep up!

There are many things I’d like for Christmas.

For example Santa (I hope you’re listening, Santa!); a truckload or sleigh-load; or both, of happiness, love and peace for all who inhabit this world wouldn’t go astray!

And, Santa, there’s no good reason for you to leave with an empty sleigh, so could you please take away with you all the greed, hate, poverty, prejudice and thoughtless, cruel actions. They don’t need recycling either, thanks - just destroy them!

Also Santa, if you have room, I’d love some rain if that’s not imposing upon your good nature! I normally don’t ask for much, so please consider the above requests, Santa.

Oh! By the way - I really have been a good girl this year…really, I have! Oh! Yes! If you remember…I’ve a fridge groaning with food here, so if you run into my friend George, (Clooney, that is) please tell him he’s most welcome to pop in for a visit over Christmas! I’m still searching for that elusive perfect Christmas! A girl must never give up - she must always hold onto her dreams!

Remember all the happy times you’ve shared with those you love and who love you. Remember and re-gather the dreams and hopes from your childhood...they’ve not gone; they’ve only been mislaid somewhere along the way.

It doesn’t matter if you are alone or with others; remember to smile and enjoy yourself; be kind not only to those you know and love, but to others, too; to strangers.

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

In case I don't "see" you until you pop a cork at the stroke of midnight, bidding farewell to 2012 while welcoming in 2013, remember the words of “Auld Lang Syne” - the first verse and chorus below just to get you started:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

I wish everyone a very Merry very best wishes of the Season to you all! Stay safe and be kind to each other.

Crab & Green Mango Salad: Dressing; 140ml coconut milk, 2tsp grated ginger, 1 finely-chopped small red chilli, 2tbs finely-shredded mint leaves, 2tbs lime juice, 1tsp fish sauce, 1/2tsp grated palm sugar, salt flakes, to taste; shake well; chill. Place 750g cooked crab meat in bowl with 1 large green mango, shredded, avocado slices, 100g snow pea sprouts, 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved and 1 bunch blanched fresh asparagus, sliced; mix gently; arrange on platter; pour over dressing.

Christmas Chicken Salad: Whisk in large bowl, 240g cream cheese, 1c quality mayonnaise, 2tsp curry powder and 1tsp salt; stir in 6c chopped cooked chicken, 240g drained crushed pineapple and 2/3c dried cranberries. If desired, spoon into plastic-wrap lined 8-inch round cake tin; cover; chill overnight. Invert onto plate; gently press chopped, roasted salted almonds onto salad’s sides.

Prawn Salad: Toss 455g, diced, drained plum tomatoes, 1-1/2c diced watermelon, 1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch cubes, ½ large Lebanese cucumber, cut into 1/3-inch cubes, 12 peeled, cooked king prawns, halved and 1/2c very thinly-sliced radishes in 2tbs olive oil; add 1-1/4c feta cheese, cut into small cubes, 1 shallots, chopped and 1tbs chopped fresh mint. In processor, process 1-1/4c feta, 1 shallot, 1tbs mint and 1tbs olive oil; add 1/2c Greek yoghurt and 1tsp dried oregano; process just to blend; season; mix into salad.

Mushroom Salad: Dressing: 1/4tsp sesame oil, 1tbs olive oil, 1/2tbs honey, 1/2tbs white wine vinegar. Put 300g mushrooms on oven tray; mix together 2tsp warmed honey, salt, pepper and 1tbs olive oil; drizzle over mushrooms; cut 1 red capsicum into 4-5 pieces; put on tray with mushrooms; bake in 180C oven, 20mins; cool. Place rocket/salad leaves on serving dish; add cooled vegetables, 1 small zucchini, peeled with peeler into thin strips, 1/2c cup halved macadamia nuts and 7-12 baby bocconcini. Drizzle over dressing.


  1. Bundy sounds and looks like a sweetheart! Love your stories, and those food pics look yummy! I wish you a very Happy Christmas Lee, and fingers crossed George will stop by for lunch!

  2. Hahahahaha! A girl must have her dreams, Molly! ;)

    Thanks for your good wishes...and a Merry Christmas to you, too. :)

  3. Great stories, lovely thoughts and wishes. Hope your Christmas is peaseful. (My Xmas starter will be liek your prawns salad but without the prawns (?) - watermelon, fetta, mint and coarse salt.)

  4. A prawnless watermelon and feta salad...I'll put that one up next time, Cosmo! ;)

    Thanks for your good wishes, Cosmo. A very Merry Christmas to you and yours...and baby George. :)

  5. I do like the sound of Cosmo's salad. I might have to experiment with that one.
    And yes, some rain would be WONDERFUL. As I type we are having incontinent pigeon rain - splat, splat and it is over, but I would like real rain.
    Merry Christmas - I am looking forward to visiting again in the new year.

  6. Hi EC...we've been having those same pigeons going over here every now and then, too...they must visit here after visiting you...or before visiting you! ;)

    Tanks for coming by...Merry Christmas to you, too...take good care. :)

  7. Merry Xmas to you and cats from Simi and me, Lee. xx woof!

  8. Thank you, have a wonderful time, too...Buon Natale! :)

  9. More wishes to you for a merry Christmas, from me. Can't picture Christmas Day hot, but it is still Christmas. Take care and have a nice one.

  10. Same to you, have a wonderful Christmas. Take good care and thanks for dropping by. :)

  11. What a great story about Bundy. I love your thoughts and the way you stated it about childhood memories and what you asked Santa well I think most of us would agree with the give and the take. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Peace

  12. Thank you, Lady Di...I hope you and the Prince have a wonderful could you not with all those beautiful decorations around you....take good care...Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours. Hugs. :)

  13. Wow, twenty years .... yep. The year my first child was born! It went by fast. Merry Christmas, Lee!


  14. Merry Christmas to you, red dirt girl. I hope yours is truly joyous. :)