Thursday, March 05, 2015


My late brother Graham and ages 3-1/2 years (me) and Graham, five.
Poster for Sorlie's Revue
Jenny Howard...a regular Sorlies' performer

There are advantages and disadvantages being the younger sister to an older brother; speaking for myself, anyway. One advantage in having an older brother is, mostly, he’s protective of his little sister; but that can be a disadvantage, too, as often was the case when I became a teenager with an older brother peering over my shoulder!

My late brother, Graham, who was two and a half years older than me kept an eagle eye on any likely lads who cast their wandering eager eyes my way; those of whom he was aware, at least! He did warn off a couple of hopeful suitors much to my embarrassment and annoyance.

When we were kids Graham believed he held the lead role and I, the secondary, supporting role. We would’ve been worthy understudies for Laurel & Hardy. We played our parts well.

Boys will be boys; older brothers will be older brothers; they love to tease. Older brothers also gain pleasure from spinning yarns, mostly untrue or exaggerated, just to suck their little sisters in; at least mine did. After all, what are little sisters for if not to tease and spin made-up yarns to? 

Graham was the captain of his rapscallion gang. The heartless bunch of rascals led by him regularly lynched my dolls on tree limbs or on our clothes’ line. They’d then proceed to shoot arrows at my innocent, well-dressed family of dolls. I wasn’t impressed as I stood by hopelessly helpless.

How badly I wanted pay-back – ever so badly! Hanging the boys’ trucks from the trees didn’t seem to have the requisite retribution ring to it.  That’s not to say the wheels of retaliation; the cogs of revenge weren’t turbulently churning. They were; so much so the sprockets wore down and were in dire need of a dentist.

Graham overflowed with sage advice, too; probably passed on by Rosemary and Basil; but I was no dill.  If, at times, I was uncertain whether what he told me was truthful or not, I pretended I didn’t have the thyme to listen to his wild tales. I’d give him a bit of ginger before scooting off to play with Angelica, my friend who lived down the road in Sorrel Avenue.

Often Graham warned me the cut edge of a pumpkin, after it was chopped in half or quartered for future use, was poisonous; not edible.

As I live alone I only buy a hunk of pumpkin at a time, not a whole pumpkin. (My two furry rascals, Remy and Shama don't eat pumpkin)! With his words from so long ago ringing in my ears, automatically I slice off the outer cut part of the pumpkin before preparation. I never peel pumpkin; actually the only vegetable I peel is onion. 

There is sense in the pumpkin yarn Graham spun because bacteria can enter the cut section if left long enough.

Actually, avocado, beans, peas, corn, cucumbers, grains, nuts, olives, capsicums, pumpkin, squash, sunflower seeds and tomatoes are fruit; vegetables include celery, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, beets, onions, carrots and potatoes; but let’s not waste time being pedantic.

As I said, even these days so many years hence, when preparing pumpkin Graham’s childhood warning always comes to mind while I slice off the cut edge and toss it.

My brother also told me never to drink water when eating grapes because doing so would make me drunk!  Drinking water when drinking wine is good advice, but to not drink water while eating grapes in the fear of getting drunk is stretching credibility limits – just a little bit! 

Every time a dragonfly hovered about - even  at times when we didn’t see one fly by - Graham enjoyed reminding me dragonflies grew up to be dragons. 

The maturity period of dragonflies must be extremely lengthy because I’ve seen many dragonflies, but I’ve never seen a dragon. Well, that’s not exactly true - I often see a dragon when I look in my mirror, and it scares me to death…but that’s another story!  

When we were children we loved going to the "pictures' - to every Saturday afternoon matinee; and often Mum or Nana, or both if Mum wasn't working, took us to the movies mid-week if they believed there was a picture worth seeing; one suitable for Graham and me to see. They took us to every circus that came to town (Wirth's, Ashton's and Bullen's circuses); as well as every travelling pantomime and Sorlies' Revue/Vaudeville troupe that came to Gympie.  

Sorlies had vaudeville stars who were big names in Australia in those days - Jenny Howard; Roy Rene aka Mo McCackie (I loved "Mo McCackie"...these days he'd be outlawed by the politically-correct mob); George Wallace, Snr. and George Wallace Jnr. ( along with many other talented performers who took our breath away:

Sorlie’s Revue was a joint enterprise for entrepreneur Grace Sorlie (d. 1962) and comedian Bobby Le Brun (b.1910). Together with a troupe of dancers, singers, comedians and sight acts they toured regional towns in eastern Australia from 1949 to 1961. The show was a revival and perpetuation of the travelling tent show that Grace’s late husband, George Sorlie (1885-1948), had toured on a similar circuit from 1917 to 1945, including appearances for Harry Wren at Brisbane’s Cremorne Theatre in 1940.

As children we loved the entertainment at our disposal.  We wanted for nothing in that department.
For a time when I was a little girl I attended ballet classes.  I undertook piano lessons for five years.  Graham concentrated on more masculine activities such as sport and Boy Scouts.  I also was a Brownie, and then later a Girl Guide for a short while.  

Our mother who was a good dancer and had attended lessons for many years throughout her childhood taught us the basics of tap-dancing.  Of course, I was more interested in learning how to tap than big brother Graham was!  He was more interested in learning how to tap in a nail; or teasing me!

Each Christmas night, however, I managed to get some of my own back on Graham with the concerts I choreographed for the family’s Christmas evening entertainment.

Naturally, it should go without saying, I held the Oscar-worthy starring roles in every performance; and there were many performances during the night’s concert all of which I directed, produced and appeared in. Sometimes I was a soloist; other times Graham was my co-star (in a supporting role, of course)!
(Please note I write about my concerts with much humour.  I still laugh at the memory of them; the innocence and serious of a child.  And I was so serious about putting on a good show.  I often wonder how our mother and grandmother contained their mirth throughout the concerts.  Somehow they held in their laughter…but years later when I an adult we used to laugh about the Christmas night concerts I orchestrated when I was a little girl).

An audience of two sat enraptured (imprisoned). Sometimes when our uncle, Mum’s brother was visiting for Christmas the number grew to three. He, too, managed to restrain his hysterics!

Seeing Graham squirm playing a multiple of roles appropriately dressed as Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters, stepmother, and, when needed, Prince Charming was payback enough to last me a lifetime! 

He had to learn how to change costumes quickly – that is when he wasn’t trying to climb out Mum’s bedroom window in attempted escapes; with me holding onto his legs screaming out for someone to come and help me drag him back inside!!

Eventually, the concert would crumble, fall into a million pieces; my unwilling co-star always ended up with a look of self-satisfaction on his face. After my revue folded Mum would sit at the piano and soon a sing-a-long would ensue. Peace was restored.  

But before the curtain finally collapsed, I always determinedly somehow managed to fit in the “Dance of the Bluebells”; “The Dance of the Daffodils “The Dance of the Buttercups”, "The Dance of the Fireflies",and a couple of others if I was on a roll; along with my version of “Swan Lake”, or at least one scene from “Swan Lake” (talk about the Dying Swan…I was probably more like the Strangled Duck)! 

I even coerced Graham into joining me in tap-dancing to “Walking My Baby Back Home”.

All dances were accompanied by our mother at the piano.  Graham used to tease me (and even continued doing so years later) that all my dances had the same steps/movements – it was just the music accompanying them that changed!

They were good times, even if I took my productions very seriously…when no one else did!   

Balsamic-Glazed Pumpkin: Slice pumpkin into ¼-inch thick small slices to make 3 cups. Heat 1tbs olive oil in pan; add 1/2tsp cumin seeds, 1 whole red dry chilli pepper; when cumin sizzles and chilli turn a shade darker, add pumpkin; season. Cook at high, tossing, until half cooked and browned; add 1-1/2tbs balsamic, crushed red pepper to taste and 1/2c lightly-toasted, broken walnuts. Reduce heat to medium; cook, tossing and scraping off pan bottom until slices are cooked and glazed. Garnish with fresh coriander or herb of choice.  

Pumpkin-Cranberry Bars: Preheat oven 176C; place rack in centre of oven. Roast 1c pecans on baking tray 8-10mins, until browned and fragrant; cool; then chop coarsely. Increase oven to 190C; butter and flour 23x23cm pan. Whisk together 2c plain flour, 1tsp baking powder, 1/2tsp baking soda, 1tsp cinnamon, 1/4tsp each ground allspice, ground ginger and salt. Beat 1c butter and 1c white sugar until light and fluffy; add 1 large egg, 1tsp vanilla; beat until incorporated; beat in 1c pureed cooked pumpkin until incorporated; gradually add the flour; mix until just combined; stir in pecans and 1c dried cranberries. Spread into pan; bake 30-35mins; when cooled cut into 16x5cm bars (top with a cream cheese frosting, if desired). 

Lentil-Feta-Grape-Walnut Salad: Add 3/4c brown or puy lentils to 2-1/2c boiling unsalted water; reduce to simmer; cook 20mins; drain; rinse with cold water; set aside. Toast 1/2c walnuts over med-heat; chop. Halve 1-1/2 seedless red grapes; cut 1 celery stalk into thin slices; place all in a bowl. Dressing: whisk together 2tbs red wine vinegar, juice of 1 lemon, 2tsp honey; slowly whisk in 3tbs olive oil; pour over salad; season; top with 1/2c crumbled feta cheese. 


  1. What an amazing childhood! I'm gobsmacked.
    Parents who paid attention; who did things with their kids?
    I remember Ashton's circus, my brother and I went once, we waited until the show had begun then sneaked in by crawling under the sides of the Big Top.

  2. what sweet memories you have of Graham; I too took ballet, tap dance, and piano and I'll be darned if I can remember a single thing about any of it. Although I do love music to this day.

  3. Hey there River...Mum worked, because she and our father had divorced years before. Our Nana and Mum made sure Graham and I missed out on little. There were lots of ups and downs...but we had many good times, too. I love that you and your brother sneaked into the circus. I would never have been game enough to do something like that at that age...Graham would've, though! :)

    Thanks for coming by. :)

  4. Hi Linda...I can't play a thing on the piano, now, either...just the scales...if that! lol

    I love music, would be so dull without it.

    Thanks for popping in. :)

  5. I can relate so well to this post. I often "put on shows" with my brother and hadn't really thought of them till I read this.

    These sweet memories warm our hearts. I am so sorry that you lost your beloved brother.

  6. Hi Arleen...they certainly must have been funny concerts. I took it all so seriously though; the whole production! I was the female child version of Bob Fosse or the like! lol I'd love to be a fly on the wall and go back in time to watch them!

    Thanks for coming by. Take good care. :)

  7. You bring back memories of my late brother and me. Gosh he was 8 years older and died in 1997 - such a long time ago - but you always miss them don't you? I am sorry for the loss, but glad you have so many wonderful memories.

  8. Hi there Chatty...Graham passed away on D-Day...6th June, 1998. Yes...we do continue missing our departed loved ones....there is no due use-by date on our memories.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

  9. As I say to my son - he has 'something' I will never have - a sister!

    Glad the wombats weaved their charming magic!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  10. Hi there Stewart...the wombats certainly did...they're wonderful animals...and your photos do them justice.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

  11. Love the old photo Lee.
    And thank you for the pumpkin recipes. I prefer sweet potato myself, but that balsamic place might be just what I was looking for.

  12. Hey there, Carol...I love pumpkin and I love sweet potato, too. Actually, I love all vegetables! lol

    Kumara/sweet spud would work well with the balsamic, too. It's great roasted drizzled with honey and a light sprinkling of cinnamon...or ginger if you looking for another way of doing it.

    Nice to see you...thanks for coming by. :)

  13. I think both you and Graham look like beautiful children. You come up with some great recipes. It's not pumpkin season here but maybe you can reminds us in our autumn because I love both of them. Thank you , as always, Lee.

  14. Hi Jenny....I was crying during that photo can see the tears brimming and glistening in my eyes. I was such a shy little girl...(that changed as I got older)! :) We had our moments, Graham and me.

    Pumpkins are available all year round here...different climates, of course. I'll put a piece of string around my finger and give you some more recipes later in the year...or you could copy & past them...and print them out! lol

    Thanks for coming by, Jenny...always nice to see you. :)

  15. You look mischievous even at age 3 1/2!

  16. Not really, RK...I was crying...I was so, so shy...if you look closely you will see the tears brimming in my eyes! lol

    Thanks for coming by. :)

  17. I only learned later that my son took a side all my daughters dates and potential suitors and threatened them with a loss of life or limb if they so much as blinked wrong at his sister.

  18. What a beautiful trip down memory lane...thank you for sharing :)

  19. Love this line: "Graham overflowed with sage advice, too; probably passed on by Rosemary and Basil; but I was no dill. :)

  20. Hey there Annie. Graham warned off a lot of guys...and when I was a teenager I went to the beach every weekend with a couple of girlfriends, and unfortunately Graham was a lifesaver in the Surf Lifesaving Club at that particular he warned off the guys...told them to stay away from "Lee Hill because she's my sister!" And he had enough huff, puff and bluff for them to heed his warnings! Damn him! lol

    Thanks for coming by. :)

  21. Hi OE...I'm glad you liked my reminiscing.

    Thanks for dropping in. :)

  22. Hey Lynn...I got a bit carried away with myself there...I had thyme up my sleeve to do it! :)

    Thanks coming by. :)

  23. Fond childhood memories are grand pages to flip through. Often we would see a dragonfly hovering over the creek which was nearby and we were told when you see them a snake is nearby. I think that was a statement to keep us out of the creek. However, the creek always called us children to come and play. Siren song of sorts. Puppy and his cousins use to love to put on plays for us but growing up we never did. I have an older sister and a younger brother. Older sisters always want to be bossy even now. As for a younger brother, we used him as a live doll to play with until he rebelled. Peace

  24. It's funny how brothers and sisters have such similar relationships all over the world. Even to the point of home talent shows!

  25. Hi Lady Di....the innocence of our childhood years is only regained through memories, and then so rapidly it slips away again. Creeks, waterways do have a magnetic attraction to children, that's for sure. And what are warnings for if not to be ignored! ;)

    Thanks for coming by. :)

  26. G'day Dexter....I think I thought I was the female version of Florenz Ziegfeld or Bob Fosse or Cecil B. DeMille...I loved choreographing all the dances for my grand performances and directing "Cinderella"...(it was always Cinderella). The hilarious part was I took it all so seriously...and my brother didn't...which was very frustrating for me!!! lol

    Thanks for dropping in. :)