Sunday, July 28, 2019


Crazy Horse
Sitting Bull
Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill
Wyatt Earp...Circa 1870

Lately, I’ve been broadening my knowledge. Some probably consider it necessary I do so. 

A few documentaries have grabbed my undivided attention.  In-depth mini-series documentaries relating to the opening up of North America’s west, in particular, have held me in awe. 

Mesmerised by the excellent “Robert Redford’s – The West”, an eight-part mini-series Redford created in 2016, I became engrossed from the first episode of the true history of the opening up of North America’s West...held captive by the wonders, and by the horrors of what occurred.

As a child, I loved watching Saturday afternoon matinee glamorised, fictionalised westerns on the big screen in Gympie’s Olympia Theatre.  Westerns starring actors such as Gene Autry, Audie Murphy, John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Jock Mahoney, Kirk Douglas, Rory Calhoun, Gary Cooper, among other popular stars. The movies were marshmallow “soft sells” compared to the truth of what actually went on in the 1800s.

Some interesting facts in Redford’s informative documentary referenced frontiersman, lawman Wyatt Earp.  

Around 3pm, 26th October, 1881, Earp and his good mate, dentist-gunfighter-sometime-gambler, John Henry “Doc” Holliday, survived the 30 second shoot-out at the O,K, Corral, Tombstone, Arizona.

Factually, the gunfight took place near a photographic studio, six doors west of the rear of the O.K. Corral. 

Earp spent the last few years of his incredibly interesting life as a consultant on silent movie sets, where he befriended well-known movie cowboys of the silent era, such as William S. Hart and Tom Mix. 

One young thespian eager to make shoot ‘em up, and knock ‘em down western movies...a young bloke named Marion Morrison, who later to became better known as John Wayne...learned a thing or two from Earp about the real goings-on in The West. Morrison/Wayne was a keen student and fan of the man.

In 1929, aged 80, Wyatt Earp bit the bullet.

Actor Kirk Douglas, after he glued his ears back on when he completed filming the story of Vincent Van Gogh, and before he removed his trousers to play “Spartacus”, starred as “Doc” Holliday in the 1957 movie, “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral”. 

Aged 102 years, Kirk Douglas has outlived most, if not all, of the cast and crew, I dare to declare.   

The late Burt Lancaster stood alongside Douglas in the film, playing the role of Wyatt Earp.   

Upon completion of Redford’s documentary I discovered another series about The West...“Ken Burns Presents - The West – a Film by Stephen Ives”, a 1996 production.  Also an eight-episode documentary, no punches were pulled in this extraordinary exposé of what went on in the 1800s through to the early 1900s. 

Stepping forward, not afraid to tell the truth, like an open book, the ugliness, the reality of what occurred is there for all to see, and learn.

Frequently, I was angered and disgusted by the ignorance and arrogance of those who believed their way was the right way. Often, tears filled my eyes.

I then came across another documentary series by Ken Burns – “The Civil War”.  Presently, I’m watching the final chapter of this particular documentary series.

The story it tells also beggars belief. It's difficult to wrap one's head around it.

The documentaries by both Burns and Redford, in my opinion, are necessary viewing – not only for oldies like me, but for younger generations, too. 

“Blazing Saddles”, they ain’t! 

Both Burns and Redford deserve high acclaim – admiration of the highest degree - for having the guts to tell the stories...warts and all...not hiding from the truth; for not concealing or disguising the truth.

What occurred in the 1800s – in one century, in one country, for example – the incredible advancements; the massive mistakes (many of which are still being made today throughout the world – and, no doubt, because humans don’t learn from past errors, will continue being made), shouldn’t be hidden away, or glamorised; nor should they be forgotten.

In the 1800s, conflicts blotted the earth’s landscape, wide and far afield. The invasions, the bloodshed not only occurred in North America.

Humans are slow learners in many avenues.

The history of man...since the year dot...needs to be in the forefront of our knowledge; of our learning.  Humans must be reminded of the ignorance; of the arrogance of their behaviour; of how brutal they have been, and continue being toward each other.  

Religion in its many forms...and those who force their religious beliefs on others need to be held responsible for the unnecessary shedding of blood.  The arrogance of believing their way is the right way...the only the root of all evil, in my opinion.  Far too much blood has been shed in the name of religion.

Read the history documentaries such as those described above.   

The colour of one’s skin doesn’t make one right, either.  “Caucasians”, “whites” have a lot to answer for and to. What a cheek the “white man” had forcing his beliefs on the American Indians, people of high intelligence with their own long-held convictions and traditions.

Quote: “The ancestors of living Native Americans arrived in what is now the United States at least 15,000 years ago, possibly much earlier, from Asia via Beringia. (the land bridge between Siberia and Alaska – long gone). A vast variety of peoples, societies and cultures subsequently developed. Native Americans were greatly affected by the European colonization of the Americas, which began in 1492, and their population declined precipitously mainly due to introduced diseases as well as warfare, including biological warfare, territorial confiscation and slavery. After its creation, the United States, as part of its policy of settler colonialism, waged war and perpetrated massacres against many Native American peoples, removed them from their ancestral lands, and subjected them to one-sided treaties and to discriminatory government policies into the 20th century. Since the 1960s, Native American self-determination movements have resulted in changes to the lives of Native Americans, though there are still many contemporary issues faced by Native Americans. Today, there are over five million Native Americans in the United States - 78% of whom live outside reservations.”  End Quote

Disappointingly, and frustratingly, one comes to the sad, upsetting conclusion humans will never learn from past and present errors – are incapable of learning.

The proof is in the pudding. We’re surrounded by the mire, with no indication of it dissipating.

What a wonderful a world it would be if the situation were otherwise. 

Is it too much to hope for? 

Spicy Cowboy Beans: Preheat oven 175C; lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Chop 8 thick bacon rashes, or speck into 3-1/2cm (1-inch) pieces; cook in pan until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon; set aside to drain. on paper-lined plate. Pour off bacon grease, leaving about 2tbs in pan. Add 1 chopped onion and 2 or 3 seeded, finely chopped jalapenos; cook until soft, about 5mins. Remove from heat. Add 2x420g cans smoked baked beans (or combination of baked, black and/or cannellini beans), 1/2c tomato sauce, 1/3c brown sugar, 1/4c molasses, 2tbs mustard, 1tbs cider vinegar, 1tbs Worcestershire sauce, 1tsp chilli powder, 1/2tsp cayenne pepper to pan; stir to mix. Transfer to baking dish. Sprinkle bacon and jalapeno slices on top. Bake 60mins, uncovered. If you like your beans really thick, bake an extra 20 minutes.

Marshmallow Peanut Tart: Process 250g choc ripple biscuits until finely chopped; add 125g melted butter; process until just combined; press into base and side of 3cm-deep, 23cm loose-based round, fluted flan tin. Chill until firm. Place 32 vanilla marshmallows, 2tbs milk and 3/4c smooth peanut paste in saucepan over med-low heat; cook, stirring, until melted and smooth. Transfer to a bowl; let cool for 5 mins.  Using an electric mixer, beat 300ml thickened cream and 1/2tsp vanilla until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cream to marshmallow; stir to combine; fold in remaining cream; spoon into prepared case. Sprinkle with 1/4c roughly chopped, salted roasted peanuts. Chill 3 to 4 hours or until set; serve.

Sunday, July 21, 2019


There are joyous periods when we effortlessly waltz through life, but life is not always as smooth as a genteel minuet.  Often existence is a bump and grind as we hustle around the best we can.  When we get in a twist, it’s time to be a bit foxy, and do our utmost to trot along breezily while casting our woes to the wind.  Frequently, we take two steps forward, only to defeat the purpose by taking three in reverse. There are instances, when feeling poles apart in our way of thinking our desire is to quickstep away in the hope of finding peace and quiet. We are told it takes two to tango, but there are moments when it’s more fun to conga. Even though, when doing the conga, we’re following the herd, we’re not being sheep.  One never knows to where the line may lead. There’s no rule saying we can’t be a goat, and kick up our heels. We’re free to break away if the feeling to go solo takes hold - to run our own race; to tap dance in one spot awhile.

Amidst the fusion of life’s complexities are happy, sad, good and bad memories. Many episodes are cherished; many chapters we do our utmost to suppress, or forget. 

Dare I presume to speak on behalf of others?  Oops! There...I did dare!  I could retract my presumption before I post my ramblings, but I doubt that will occur.  It’s called - “living on the edge”.  In life, one has to take risks every now and then.

Of course, I’ve taken risks, but when taking them I’ve done my level, and un-level best, to be aware, not only of my own safety, but that of others, too.  Being stuck on an island in the middle of a cyclone, the welfare of my guests was my top priority. I didn’t create the risk.  Mother Nature was to blame. Like all females, Ms Nature, having a mind of her own, can change her mind on a whim.  It is the risk we take every day and night with her around!

In 1987, our Kiwi neighbour, AJ Hackett, became an instant, living legend when he took a giant risk by illegally jumping from the Eiffel Tower.  By that perilous feat, AJ introduced the world to a previously unknown, hair-raising activity...“Bungy Jumping”.  

A couple of years later, still on a high, in 1989, adrenaline junkie, AJ Hackett and his mate, Henry van Asch, who had a similar addiction, began eyeing off land between Smithfield, north of Cairns and its hinterland – in Tropical North Queensland.  

Seeking rental accommodation before construction commenced on the Cairns Bungy site, AJ’s crew entered the Smithfield real estate office (Inner Circle Realty) in which I was then employed as Property Manager/Receptionist/Secretary.

Sweet-talkers with the best of intentions, virtually on bent knees before me, they pleaded their case, declaring they were characters of the most responsible kind.
 Instead of an apple, they attempted to tempt me to accept them as tenants by offering free bungy jumps once the site was up (down) and running (jumping). 

Politely, I declined to leap at their offer to take the risk of taking the decline. 
I did rise to the occasion, though, by leasing them accommodation suitable to their needs.

Taking a safer route, not a risk, once they were settled, I accepted their offer to dine, and view videos of Hackett’s first commercial bungy site at Kawarau Gorge, near Queenstown in New Zealand’s South Island,

They were a genuine, lovely group of young folk.

In August, 1990, the Cairns’ site opened. It was the first purpose-built bungy tower in the world. To this day it remains a popular activity enjoyed by adventurous risk-takers, of which I am not one.  

Managing a loaded shopping trolley that wants to go one way, and I, the other, in the supermarket car park, is risk enough for me...thank you very much!

Kiwi Cucumber Walnut Salad: Wash, dry and tear one head butter lettuce leaves, or other lettuce of choice; arrange in serving dish. Slice one cucumber very thinly; pat dry to remove excess moisture; add to salad. Peel and slice 2 kiwi fruit; add to salad. Halve decoratively another 4 kiwi fruit; add to salad. Top with 1/3c walnut pieces and fresh mint leaves. Drizzle with Lime Vinaigrette, and toss just before serving: – 1/4c x-virgin olive oil, 1tbs lime juice, 1tsp zest, 1/4c rice vinegar, 2tsp honey; season to taste.

Kiwi-Ginger Cheesecake: Combine 100g crumbed gingernuts and 50g melted butter; press into greased, lined loose-bottom, 20cm/8" in diameter cake tin; bake 10mins at 180C. Remove from oven; set aside. Beat 450g cream cheese, 10g caster sugar, 3 large eggs, beaten, and 2tsp vanilla paste together until light and fluffy. Pour mixture into cake tin; level mixture with the back of a spoon. Bake 1hr, or until well risen, and centre of cheesecake is firm to touch. Remove from oven; cool in the tin. Carefully remove cake from tin; place on serving platter. Peel and thinly slice 6-8 kiwi fruit; arrange slices around top of cheesecake; then slide slices of stem ginger/ginger in syrup, in and amongst the kiwi slices. Drizzle some ginger syrup over the fruit and ginger; chill until ready to serve. Serve in slices with crème fraîche or cream, as preferred.

Kiwi-Chia Pudding: Combine 3tbs chia seeds and 1c almond “milk”, or real milk. Stir very well to avoid any chunks. Add 1tbs maple syrup or honey and 1tsp vanilla. Mix very well. Cover and chill 4-5 hours. Puree 1c kiwi fruit; mix into pudding. Pour into individual bowls; top with coconut flakes and fresh berries of choice.