Thursday, May 28, 2020


Highclere Castle

Over the past few months I’ve watched documentaries about various legends of the music world, all of which were very interesting...fascinating in so many ways.

A couple of months ago SBS also ran a brilliant documentary about the origins of country music in the US. The aptly-named documentary... “Country Music”...consisted of eight episodes,   It was created by Ken Burns, and covers the period from country music’s US beginnings in the mid-1920s through to 1996.

Of course, the music didn’t end in 1996.  Don Mclean’s lyrics “the day the music died”...from his 1972 No. 1 hit, “American Pie”, don’t apply to country music. I doubt they ever will. I hope they never will....

My hope is Burns produces a follow-up “Country Music” multi-episodes documentary...continuing on from where he left off...from 1996 forth....

Ken Burns’ documentaries, which cover a wide, varied range of subjects, including the American Civil War, are all excellent.  Each and every one of the Burns’ docos will captivate the viewer.  They did me.  High praise applies to his “Country Music” doco, as well. I feel it would be remiss of me not to suggest others watch Burns' documentaries...I'm sure they won't disappoint.

Burns’ documentaries are narrated by actor Peter Coyote.  (Americal actor who appeared in “E.T.. The Extra-Terrestrial”, “Cross Creek”***, “Patch Adams”, “Erin Brokovich”, etc., etc) 

I've always liked the timbre of Coyote’s voice.  I love good speaking voices. 

Without prejudice, my late ex-husband, Randall, had one of the best voices I’ve ever heard.  I’m not alone in my assessment. Shortly after my ex’s passing in August, 2019 some of his peers from his radio years and beyond contacted me stating similar when expressing their condolences.  Their sentiments meant a lot...mean a lot to me.

*** The 1983 movie “Cross Creek” stars Mary Steenburgen (wife of Ted Danson) playing the role of author Majorie Kinnan Rawlings. Rawlings wrote the beautiful book “The Yearling”.  “Cross Creek” is based in part on Rawlings’ memoir of the same name.  Both book and movie are wonderful...worth reading and viewing.

Watching documentaries about Quincy Jones, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and others, caused me to reflect upon the early 60s. 

As mentioned previously...and often... at the age of 15 years I left school, having gained employment as a legal secretary in a Gympie law firm.

Leaving school mid-Junior late July, 1961...going it alone in the wide world of wonder and intrigue, meant I threw away my school uniform, and I left my schoolmates behind.

Being the “new kid on the block”, as well as the youngest, an older group of teenagers and “twenty-ish-es” of both sexes generously took me under their protective wings.

Friday night dances in Gympie’s Soldiers’ Memorial Hall were must attends.  Attend them, I did...not missing one!  And the few times Wednesday night dances were held at the hall, I attended those, too.

Fortunately, I was never a wallflower.  Unselfishly, the young blokes taught me the quickstep, waltz, foxtrot; barn dance, jazz waltz, cha-cha-cha etc.  

One corner at the far end of the dance floor was the designated “jive” area.  It was there we let our hair down, skirts twirling (the girls,that is), swinging and twisting to the rock an’ roll beat. 

Such fun the Friday night dances were; as were the Saturday night country dances held in halls in the surrounding rural areas on Gympie’s outskirts...such as Cedar Pocket, Kybong, Chatsworth, Traveston...

The delicious suppers served by the farmers’ wives...the cheerful ladies of the CWA...were integral parts of the country dances. Those ladies could cook! Their home-made scones, cakes and tarts were unmatched.

Bobby, a local Gympie fellow, who was about 10 years older than me, was a jazz aficionado.  He was one of the young men and woman who took me under their wings during those early years of my tentative advance into adulthood.

Bobby's parents owned and operated a large, local business...a store that sold just about everything from food to hardware, and all in between.  

 Bobby not only worked for his parents, he also remained living in the family home, which was a rather large house.

The four walls in a second lounge room of the home were covered by floor to ceiling shelves, not unlike those in a well-stocked, public library; or a library one would expect to see in Highclere Castle...the mansion depicted as the home of the “Downton Abbey” gang...the Crawleys, and their loyal servants. (The same castle was used in “Jeeves and Wooster”, a British comedy series of the early 90s). 

The room was Bobby's regular hang-out, and the shelves held his vast collection of records, LPs and 78 rpms (revolutions per minute)...sleeve to sleeve; jacket to jacket.  Jazz and blues’ discs kept in tidy, strict alphabetical order.

Every time I was a guest in his home - in that special room - along with other friends, I was in awe of Bobby’s vast collection; as was everyone else.

Lounging on the carpeted floor, propped on cushions, we listened to the music on offer, speaking softly, and only when necessary. The music was the centre of our attention.

Our appreciation of the music; the art of composition, and the knowledge gained about the artists grew from each such evening spent at Bobby’s home.  He was a generous host.

Alcohol was present, but never abused. It was sitting on the carpeted floor of that room I first tasted Scotch Whisky...straight a fine white porcelain tea cup of all things!  I don't know why a glass wasn't used...but I wasn't complaining....and didn't....

To this day, I remember clearly what I said following my first sip from the tea cup. 

 “What is this?  Hmmm!  I like it!”   So I took another sip...

That night at Bobby's place, sitting next to me was the young man who had handed me the drink.  He was five years older than me.  And, a little more than five years on from that evening, unknown at the time by both of us, and not even imagined in the wildest dreams by either he or me...he was to become my first husband...Mervyn.   

A lot of Life’s experiences were lived and experienced by me between that night sipping on my first Scotch in Bobby’s home in 1961 and an evening in 1966!

Other than the extensive record library at 4GY, Gympie’s radio station, and Colour Radio 4IP's massive record library, I’ve never seen a record collection like the one Bobby had.  It was the envy of many.   I'm sure it still would be...if still in existence...

Those of us whom Bobby befriended were grateful beneficiaries of wonderful evenings shared...thankful for the introduction to some brilliant music...and artists.

Chicken Pie: Place 3c plain flour and 1c butter, cut into ½-inch pieces into freezer 30mins before preparation. In processor, pulse flour, 1tsp baking powder, and 1tsp salt until combined; add butter; pulse until pea-sized and some slightly larger pieces form (or do it the old-fashioned way...using your fingertips, not your palms).  With machine running, add 1/2c icy water, 1tbs at a time, until dough just comes together and is moist, not wet and sticky (test by squeezing some with your fingers). Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; form into 2 balls; flatten into 2 discs (make sure there are no/cracks). Cover with plastic wrap; chill 40mins. Preheat oven, 200C. Grease baking dish with butter; grease one side of a large piece of baking paper with butter. Season 4 boneless, skinless chicken all over; then place in baking dish. Place buttered side of paper over chicken, so chicken is completely covered. Bake until chicken is cooked through; let sit 10 mins; then cut into cubes. In pot over med-heat, melt 2tbs butter; add 1 chopped onion and 2 chopped large carrots; cook until they begin to soften. Add 3 minced garlic cloves; then stir in 3/4c plain flour; cook until flour mixture is golden and begins to bubble. Gradually whisk in 3c chicken broth. Bring to a boil; cook until thickened. Stir in 1/4c heavy cream, cubed chicken, 1c frozen peas, chopped  parsley and thyme; season . Roll out one dough disc on floured surface, to about ¼” thick. Place in shallow pie dish; add cooled filling; roll out second disc; place on top of filling; trim and crimp edges; create a couple of slits on top; brush with egg wash; sprinkle with salt flakes.  Reduce oven heat, 175C; bake pie, about 45mins.

Salmon Fillets with Whisky Sauce: Mix sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, 2tbs brown sugar and 2tbs sweet hot mustard to form a past.  Brush on 4 salmon fillets; then brush with olive oil.  Oil the grates for gas or charcoal grill, and heat. (Or use oiled pan on stove).  Place salmon on the grill, or in hot pan; cover and cook to the desired doneness. Don’t over-cook! Combine juice from 1 lemon , 4tbs  whisky, 1/4c butter, 1tbs olive oil,1tbs capers with caper juice, and 2tbs lemon zest in a saucepan; heat until the butter melts. Pour the sauce over the salmon to serve.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020


This meme was started by a lady named Delores a long time ago.  Words for Wednesday are now provided by a number of people and, it has become a moveable feast.

Essentially the aim is to encourage us to write.  Each week we are given a choice of prompts, which can be words, phrases, music or an image.  What we do with them is up to us:  a short story, prose, a song, a poem or treating them with ignore.  We can use some or all of the prompts.

Some of us put our creations on the post and others post on their own blog.  I would really like as many people as possible to join the meme, which includes cheering on other participants (definitely the more the merrier). If you are posting on your own blog, please let me know so that I, and the other participants, can come along and applaud.

This month it's been my turn for "Words for Wednesday".  Please do join in the fun!  Fun is what it's all about!

June 2020:  Messymimi will provide the prompts on her blog.

 This week's prompts are as follows....

1.  Mythology                                             7.   Barrier

2.  Contemporary                                       8.  Captivate

3.  Instinct                                                    9.   Companion

4.  Overture                                               10.   Unique

5.  Banter                                                   11.   Affair

6.  Groundbreaking                                 12.   Interior  

The interior of the vast hall was filled to capacity.  Outside, gathered together in groups on the lawn, people sat, either on folding chairs, or on colourful picnic rugs. A large screen and speakers had been erected to enable the external devotees to enjoy the pending performance.  The excitement in the air was almost palpable; the banter, happy and playful.    

Inside and out, the audiences waited eagerly for the overture announcing the beginning of the latest groundbreaking offering from the young impresario who was the current rage among classical music aficionados.

Alexi’s imagination and exceptional talent went far beyond contemporary trends in the musical genre.  Alexi was loved far and wide; by young and old.  There was no barrier to his appeal.   His ability to captivate an audience from the moment he stepped on stage in front of the orchestra...before he had even lifted his constant companion....his baton...was unique, particularly for one so young.   

His confidence was contagious and inspiring.

The evening was going to be an affair to remember.  Being in his presence would be akin to witnessing the creation of a new, electrifying mythology

Alexi’s innate, natural instinct for music was incomparable.

No doubt, London’s Royal Albert Hall will soon be calling, if they haven’t done so already.

Thursday, May 21, 2020


My Pineapple Crush dispenser was similar to this...a little different, but similar

To my neighbours’ delight I’ve no bells; no whistles, either. An extra bonus is I’m a hopeless whistler.  I couldn’t hold a tune if I tried...and, I have tried!  Dogs run off in the opposite direction if I whistle them.  Also, Saint Clement’s isn’t hereabouts, but there are a couple down Wynnum way, a bayside suburb of Brisbane...maybe that’s where the bells peal.

There are lots of peels in my abode, though.

Every morning, of every day, of every month, all year through, I squeeze citrus fruit.  I’ve been squeezing oranges first thing every morning for many, many years – not the same ones, of course.

Squeezing a fellow being (or a female being, if one insists on being pedantic) may not be allowed presently, but I am allowed to squeeze citrus, so squeeze them I do...and happily.  

Oh! Boy!  How I would like to squeeze the necks of the noisy motor bike riders who destroy our peace and quiet, while infiltrating our roadways! I wish they all would stay at home, in their own backyards!  The bikers think this mountain plateau is their playground on weekends, and care not about the horrendous noise they make.  If my little car made the noise just one of those bikes do...I’d be booked in a nano second!   Over the weekends the bikers arrive up here on our mountain greenery in tribes of 10, 20, 30 or more at a time!   Grrrrrrr!!!!!   That’s my whinge for today...and yesterday...and the day before.... 

But I do digress....back to more pleasant things and activities....

Lemons from my generous little tree have joined the juicing, as have the grapefruit and limes given to me by my thoughtful friends from up the end of this lane. 

Each citrus season they share their bountiful crop with me, for which I am always grateful! Also, the other day, I was given a jar of homemade marmalade jam...made from oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes.   Thank you, Lady Marmalade! 

When Randall, my now late ex, and I were married, I bought oranges by the carton.  He had arrived back from the States not a fruit eater. To solve the problem, I decided handing him a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice every morning was a good way to get some fruit into him. Slowly but surely, my plan worked.  He, too, became a fruit lover.  I didn’t mind sharing my stocks of fruit.  It just meant I had to buy more to allow for the extra hand reaching out to the bowls!

These days I purchase oranges by the bag, usually purchasing two bags per visit to the local supermarket.  Now with mandarin season in full force, I’m pigging out on mandarins, as well.  Joy, oh, joy!

When I was a greengrocery-health food shop owner in Noosa Heads in the early to mid-80s, I was in fruit and vegetable heaven. Being surrounded by all that goodness, who could blame me? 

My father-in-law loved mangoes. Many trays of mangoes went his way...from my shelves to his lap; only Aussie mangoes...never the imported ones.  I wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot pole....I still don’t. 

My mum-in-law wasn’t overly fond of mangoes, but she didn’t miss out. She loved nectarines; and she feasted on them come stone fruit season.  Actually, all year round my in-laws never had to worry about their fruit and veggie supplies.  What’s the point if family can’t enjoy the fruits – and vegetables - of one’s labour? 

A fun was fun to run the shop.  Being able to eat the stock was a major bonus for me.  It was a wonder I had any left to sell to the public!

Harvey Norman and The Good Guys...and other such traders... can’t eat their Apples!   I could mine...and did!  They were delicious! Granny Smith didn’t mind.

Also, in my shop, freshly-made fruit salad and savoury salads were on offer Mondays to Sundays; as were hot soups, cakes, biscuits, dips, roasted and boiled peanuts, as well as tempting fruit smoothies, and freshly-squeezed orange juice, or juices of personal choice.  All of the above were prepared by me in my shop’s little kitchen. 

In the service area, to the side of shelves and bins that were filled with produce, the pineapple crush machine gently agitated quietly throughout the day.  The container on the dispenser held quite a few litres...probably around 10 or 12 litres, if not more.

With the number of pineapples I crushed every morning to fill the machine it was/is fortunate pineapples grew/grow, in abundance, in areas surrounding the Sunshine Coast.  I bought pineapples and pawpaws directly from local growers who, every couple of days arrived, by truck, at my shop’s back door to unload their healthy, golden bounty.

One morning, I was busy serving a customer when another was helping herself to a pineapple crush over at the machine, which is what customers themselves to the pineapple crush.

To this customer’s dismay, the top of the tap came off in her hand.  Pineapple crush flowed freely over the floor (the previous evening I’d had the indoor-outdoor grass-green carpet professionally cleaned).  

By the time I flew (not literally) across the room to stop the flow there was not a lot of pineapple crush left in the machine...most of it was on the floor.  

The poor woman, flustered, apologetic and red-faced, was left holding a half-filled drink’s container in her hand, and a desire to become invisible on the spot.  It was not my intention to add to her embarrassment.  

Putting myself in her pineapple crush-filled shoes, I felt for her.  Laughing, I assured her it wasn’t the end of the world...that all was well.  I bet she never again touched one of those drink dispensers!  

The following couple of hours I between serving customers and explaining my “Sadie, the Cleaning Lady” up the mess.  

Worse things have happened...and will continue happening.

My double-door, glass-front, upright refrigerator and long, open refrigerated “bin” were both always well-stocked with tasty, tempting temptations upon which to dally over...and choose from...!

Having decided to add vitamin supplements to my wares, I wanted to include Blackmores products on my shelves.  However, back then, it was necessary for prospective stockists to apply to Blackmores** to gain the company’s permission to carry their first class vitamin products.  Fortunately, I received the company's approval, making my shop the only business in Noosa allowed to have the Blackmore brand on its shelves.  

I stocked Nature’s Own vitamin supplements, along with Nature’s Way, just to keep customers on their toes, as well as a varied range of other interesting health food lines.

**Blackmores Limited is an Australian health supplements company founded in the 1930s by naturopath Maurice Blackmore, when Blackmore opened the first health food shop in Australia in Brisbane, Queensland.

Naturally, I got a shock when I bought a magazine from the newsagency a few doors along from my shop on Hastings Street.  The colourful, glossy magazine was about natural living. I thought I’d be able to glean information within to my advantage; to learn from it, and add to my knowledge about healthy living practices. 
I did learn a lot, but not what I’d expected.

It was a naturism aka nudism magazine, vividly describing the lifestyle advocating personal and social nudity within familial, social, or in a public context.  I didn’t become a devotee; doing so would’ve scared away the customers...or attracted undesirables!  Either wasn’t desirable....

Winter Salad: Put 2 cooked, crumbled bacon rashers, 155g spinach, 1/2c crumbled feta, 1 sliced red onion, 1/2c dried cranberries and 2tbs chopped, toasted pecan in bowl. Dressing: Combine 1/4c olive oil, 1tbs orange juice, /2tsp orange zest, 1-1/2tsps Dijon mustard, 1tsp maple syrup, 1tsp minced shallots and salt; drizzle over salad; toss.

Roast Veggie Salad: Cut 2 carrots and 2 parsnips in half lengthwise. Halve 2 capsicums, red, green, and/or yellow. Slice 1 red onion into thick wedges. Place on baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with salt; toss. Roast in 230C oven, 20-25mins. Whisk 3tbs cider vinegar with 1tbs maple syrup, 1tbs Dijon, 1tsp dried thyme, generous pinches of dried sage, salt and pepper; slowly whisk in 1/3c x-virgin olive oil. Cut ½ bunch kale leaves or 142g baby spinach, about 8 cups. Rinse and drain 540ml can chickpeas, and/or canned black lentils. Coarsely chop cooked vegetables; place in bowl with greens and chickpeas, and/or lentils; drizzle with dressing; toss.

Spicy Soup: In pot, put500g cubed kumara, 1c chopped carrots, 1c chopped onions, 1c chopped celery, 1 diced red capsicum, 6 crushed garlic cloves, 1-1/2c rinsed green or brown lentils, 1-1/2tsp each coriander and cumin, 1tsp curry powder, or more to taste, 1/2tsp each smoked paprika, ground cinnamon and turmeric, 1/8tsp nutmeg and 6c veg or chick broth. Cover; cook on low until lentils are cooked through.  Place half of soup in blender, with about 1/2c of broth; blend until “smoothish”. Add back to soup; stir in 2-1/2c roughly chopped spinach and 1/4c lemon juice; cover; cook until spinach wilts; season to taste with salt, pepper and curry powder, if desired.