Monday, August 31, 2020


Me, on the left...shortly before I left Gympie to live and work in Brisbane
Tin Can Bay

Most of us hold onto fond memories of the towns in which we spent our tender years.  I’ve mentioned it many times previously, so it’s no secret that I was raised in Gympie.

In 1965, the bright city lights of Brisbane beckoned.  Heeding the call, I succumbed, and, I left the “nest” a few months shy of my 21st birthday.  

Earlier, aged around 17 years, I’d come up with a couple of ideas…planned away of escaping to adventures far afield. 

One bright idea I came up with was I’d become a nurse, and enroll at a Brisbane hospital.  Full of excitement, I raced home during my lunch break to break that particular brainwave to my mother, who was readying herself to head off to work.  Sitting in front of her dressing table mirror, applying her make-up, Mum patiently listened to my breathlessly- presented bright idea.

At the completion of my lengthy spiel, not missing a beat, and with a smile, my mother said:  “I think that is a wonderful idea, love.  When do you think you will put it into motion?”

Her positive reaction to my plan immediately smashed it into little pieces.  Not putting up a fight…not pleading with me to stay…did that mean she wanted to get rid of me?  Did she want to get rid of me that easily?  The woman should have been a psychologist!  I didn’t become a nurse.  I remain in Gympie…I remained being a legal secretary.

Hmmm…that one didn’t work. 

A few months later I came up with another inspirational thought.  I would join the Australian Air Force.  The RAAF air bases were, at the time, set across two locations…at Laverton and Point Cook, in Victoria…a long, long way from Gympie.

Upon presenting the my joining the air force scenario to my mother, in a similar excited manner as I did my nursing proposal, Mum’s reaction to my future plan was also similar to her reaction to my previous idea, that had been promptly crushed into oblivion by her eagerness to wave me “Bye! Bye!”

I became neither a nurse, nor a member of the RAAF. 

She was a clever, insightful woman, that mother of mine!  In the ensuing years, Mum and I laughed about my two foiled escape plans.
Times were much simpler when I was a child. 

Locking one’s house was unknown.  It wasn’t done.  There was no need to lock up. 

It was a time when walking everywhere was the norm, even at night…alone, or with others.

It was a time when trolleys aka soap-boxes made by kids, and driven by those same helmet-free kids, careered down streets with barely a car getting in their way.  Cars were few and far between.  I think there probably were more trolleys than cars!  Skinned, gravel-rash knees and elbows weren’t uncommon…nor were they deterrents.

After spring rains, my brother, our Nana and I walked across town to Gympie’s Southside to gather dew-covered field mushrooms.  Our gathering was conducted under the disinterested gaze of nonchalant cattle grazing on the lush green paddocks fringing the banks of the Mary River.
Frequently, with empty jam tins converted into a billy  (a “billy” is an Aussie makeshift “pot” or “kettle” use on campfires”), long strands of string, homemade hand nets, and pieces of raw meat, my brother and I headed off to the nearest waterhole to catch “lobbies” aka freshwater yabbies.
Eagerly, my brother and I would scamper home to cook, and then devour our haul while planning and anticipating our next adventures.
Saturday afternoon matinees, Brownies, Cubs, (and later, Girl Guides and Boy Scouts),  ballet classes, piano lessons, cowboys and Indians in the backyard; my brother and his mates firing arrows at and lynching my dolls on branches of an orange tree; on the sidelines, me, in tears, yelling helplessly; building tree houses and cubby houses, running bare-footed and carefree filled those years.
Sing-a-longs around our piano; Nana relating tales of the “olden days”; window-shopping on Saturday evenings as we strutted in tune to the Scottish Pipe Band, their kilts swaying while they expertly played and marched through the main street to the Town Gates; burning our fingers on hot potato chips, and battered potato scallops wrapped in newspaper from Nick’s Café.   The highlight was discovering that one elusive chip hidden in the wrapping, after all others had been devoured!
Weekends spent at Tin Can Bay where our mother went fishing and mud-crabbing, while Nana, my brother, Graham and I collected oysters off the rocks, filling large glass bottles with the delicious delicacies as we waded through the water played an important role in our childhood.  Feasting at night on our catches by the dim light of hurricane lamps was not unusual.  The places we stayed in during those weekends weren’t flash; they had no electricity.   Their outer walls were made from either galvanized iron or fibro…in some cases, both. Outside, in the unkempt yard, 44-gallon drums filled with cow manure burned to keep the mosquitoes and sand flies at bay, at Tin Can Bay.
Mum and Nana never had a car.  We took a bus to and from The Bay.
Simple pleasures...simple days...but not simple minds....

Mushrooms Rarebit: Remove stalks from 4 large field mushrooms.  Place on baking sheet; drizzle with oil; season; grill, turning, until just tender. Mix together 200g grated cheddar, 1tsp English mustard, 1 lightly-beaten egg, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper (to taste). Fill mushroom cavities with mix. Grill until golden and bubbling. Serve with dressed salad leaves.

Curried Mushrooms: Slice 100g field mushrooms, 1 green capsicum and 1 onion. Place in a bowl; add salt, 1tsp curry powder, 1/4tsp turmeric and 1/4tsp chilli powder. Mix well. Heat oil in pan; add mushroom mix; stir-fry 10mins. If the curry is too dry, add 60ml coconut milk just prior to serving.

Mushroom Lasagne: In large pan heat oil; sauté finely-chopped onion until soft. Add 3-1/2c sliced mushrooms; add 3-1/2c canned, drained, chopped tomatoes and chopped parsley; cook covered, 40mins; add a little wine if sauce is too dry; season. Cook lasagna sheets al dente. Grease deep oven-proof dish; toss freshly-toasted breadcrumbs into dish to coat base and sides. Discard surplus. In bowl combine 225g ricotta and 1 can mushroom soup; add some grated parmesan cheese. Place layer of pasta over base and up sides of oven dish. Spoon in 1/3rd of the sauce; cover with layer of ham slices; sprinkle over grated mozzarella, the ricotta/soup blend and thinly-sliced hard-boiled eggs. Cover with layer of pasta; continue layering as above until last layer is mozzarella. Fold over the top any exposed pasta from the sides. Sprinkle with parmesan; bake 30mins.

Chilled Lobbies: Stick cloves into 2 small, peeled onions; In large pot, combine onions, water, white wine, 2 cinnamon sticks, pickling spice, salt, pepper and 5 garlic cloves. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low; simmer 20mins. Add 30-40 fresh lobbies/marron; bring to boiling; cook 5mins. Bring to room temperature in liquid; drain, chill until ready to serve.

Lobbie Entrée: Sauté 1 diced onion in 3tbls butter; add lobby flesh; cook 3mins; stir in 2tbls flour; cook gently 2mins; pour in 1c fish stock; stir until mixture boils and thickens; Add 1c sour cream; add 1/2c grated cheese; remove from heat; season; pour into 4 individual ramekins.  Mix 1/2c coarsely crumbled cheese crackers and 1/4c melted butter. Sprinkle over dishes; bake 20mins at 180C. 

Monday, August 24, 2020


Elma, my mother, circa Rockhampton.....modelling a two-piece bathing costume in a parade for the company which was her employer

Two views of Slade Point, via Mackay

Sunshine Beach...looking southward...

Love has many faces.  Love can be joyous, and then as quickly it can become heartbreakingly painful...

Sometimes love is heartless and controlling.  

Love can make one want to soar to the moon and stars beyond.  Love can bring out sides in us we didn’t know we had. Love is many-faceted.

First love can be both beautiful and tortuous.  First love can break a lover’s heart momentarily, or, for some, cause endless despair. 

For the majority, the hurt caused by the loss of a first love remains until the next candidate steps within their circle or aura, breaking down the flimsy, fragile barriers erected.  

Some will ask you to walk beside them throughout life, while others will only want you for a short stroll. Throughout my life, I took quite a few short strolls. We all have the right to be wrong now and then. Sometimes I was more wrong than I was right, but no harm was ever done, or caused; and much fun was had, and enjoyed!

Although, I never had children of my own, the most precious and lasting love is that for one’s child/children, I believe.

It was a week-night, back in 1971, or thereabouts. I was spending the night at my then boss’s home in the Brisbane suburb of Kenmore.  John was away in Sydney at the time, on business.  His wife, Shirley and I were good friends (we still are.  John, sadly, passed away in 1995).  Shirley and I decided to have a “girls’ night in...not out”, along with their two little boys, Gavin and Andrew.

Andrew, their younger son was around two and half years old at the time.  Gavin was two years older than Andrew.  Andrew no longer slept in a cot, having proudly progressed to a bed. The night of my stay-over he was to return to sleeping in his cot, which had remained in his bedroom, while I stole his bed for the night.

Sitting on the sofa in the family room, enjoying a pre-dinner Scotch, Shirley and I chatted while she was in the kitchen preparing dinner (both rooms flowed into one, without a separating wall).  The two little boys had had their dinner earlier, and were playing on the floor in front of me.

Shirley, in her usual, calm, modulated way told Andrew it was time for him to go to bed. Without any ado, Andrew heeded his mother’s gentle words.  The very next minute, I felt tugging on my left arm.

“ ‘ee…’ee! Come on, ‘ee!”  A little voice pleaded.   (My name is rarely, if ever capable of being shortened...but on that particular evening, it was)!

Andrew continued pulling at my sleeve.  His still babyish face upturned, his eyes wide, innocently, and solemnly begging me. “Come on, ‘ee…’ee!”

Finally, I realised what he wanted.

I raised my eyebrows at Shirley...winked, and smiled, “I guess I’ll see you later, early night for me.  It looks like I’m off to bed, too!”

Mop-topped Andrew decided if he had to go to bed, so did I, seeing I was sharing his room, and sleeping in his bed!

Placing my glass on the coffee table in front of me, I followed Andrew into his bedroom.

Without a fuss, eagerly, he climbed into his cot.  After tucking him in, I climbed into his bed.  It was 6.45pm.

Not wanting to disturb the equilibrium, I feigned sleep until I was certain he’d fallen into slumber.

Fearing if I stood up, I would wake him, like a snake, I slithered off the bed, and then crept along the floor on my stomach until I reached the hallway.  Once there, silently, I stood up, and re-entered the family room.

Shirley and I were both laughing as she handed me a refilled glass of Scotch.

The innocence of a child is a wondrous thing.  How could one not love them?


When my mother passed away...22nd August, 1974... I was heartbroken.   

I’d flown up to Slade Point, where my mother and my grandmother were living, the moment Nana phoned to tell me Mum had been whisked off to the Mackay Base Hospital.  Slade Point is a beach-side suburb of Mackay.

I went through a difficult time, personally, but I kept my pain and sorrow to myself, only succumbing to my tears and grief when I was alone.  No one else could understand my innermost feelings.  My grief was my own. I had to work through it myself, my way.   

My mother passed away two days after my arrival.  Elma Flora turned 54 years of age a few months earlier... on 17th February, 1974.

Once I'd returned to Brisbane (I was living in a townhouse in Toowong at the time)...back to my daily life and routine...I felt myself falling further and further into a bottomless black pit.  I didn’t know how to stop my descent, or how to climb back up out of the dark depths. On the outside, when in front of those in the outside world, I put on a brave face, hiding my grief, my sorrow.   Inside, I was being torn apart.

That is until one Saturday afternoon a couple of months after my mother died.

Around 1 pm, I decided to have a nap. 

In a very vivid dream, which I remember verbatim to this day, my mother came to me.  
She stood at the end of my bed as clear as if she was, in fact, standing there in reality.

Smiling at me, my mother said, “I’m okay, love. I’m fine.”

Upon waking, I continued to lie on my bed, digesting what I had just “seen”.

The vision of my mother, in my dream, had been crystal clear. I questioned whether it had been a dream, or had she really “come” to me.  It mattered not either way.

The “dream” calmed me.  I found inner peace.  From that moment forth, I began to look at life more clearly.  Everything began to fall into place. I found my way back up out of the deep hollow into which I’d been falling with the help of the dream, or vision.   

The dream was not a subject of discussion.  At the time, I told no one about it, believing it was no one else’s business.

The year rapidly drew to a close.  Christmas was around the corner. Randall (my now late ex-husband) was due back in Brisbane from New York in November, 1974.

(Previously, I’ve written often about Randall.   Regular readers of my blog would be fairly aware of our story.   In a nutshell...Randall and I first met in 1963.  He went overseas in 1965; and, upon his return to Australia in November, 1974, we picked up where we’d left off...)

My head was spinning. in my heart, and in my mind, I knew I still loved Randall, even though his life, and mine, had taken many different paths.  We’d both crossed numerous bridges during the nine years he’d been living overseas.  I was not fooling myself that there weren’t still more to come...both good and bad.

I didn’t meet Randall at the airport the day he flew into Brisbane, instead I remained at work.  His mother invited me to dinner at their home in Geebung, a north-side suburb of Brisbane that evening.

The day dragged for me. My heart pounded in anticipation throughout the day, and gathered in momentum as the afternoon progressed.

Randall had telephoned me from the States a couple of weeks before his departure with instructions to book a holiday rental for the both of us at Noosa or its surrounding area.
At the time, I didn’t have a car.  My boss, John, kindly drove me up to Noosa where I visited various real estate agents in search of suitable accommodation.

I found a perfect little cottage high on densely-vegetated secondary sand dune at Sunshine Beach, around the corner from Noosa Heads...on the southern side of the Noosa National Park.    

The property was called “Anna Capri”.  It stole my heart at first glance.

Perched high on the dune, stairs, fringed by shrubs and trees, led from the one-car, street-level garage up to the house.  Painted white, “Anna Capri” had views from Sunshine Beach, south to Coolum and beyond. The point at Point Cartwright, south of Mooloolaba could be seen in the far distance.

It wasn’t a fancy, flash new house, having been built probably back in the 1940s or thereabouts, but it was cosy, clean and bright. The location, too, was just perfect.   

I fell in love with “Anna Capri” the moment I set eyes upon “her”. I knew the cottage would be an ideal place for Randall and me to re-discover each other; for us to learn if, perhaps, we had a future together.

Paying the agent a rental deposit, I booked “Anna Capri” for a week, to commence the Saturday after Randall’s planned return on a Thursday. The count-down to his arrival had begun in earnest.

Arriving at Randall’s parent’s home in Geebung late on the Thursday afternoon of his arrival back to Australia in November, I was filled with mixed emotions.

 So many “what-ifs” did battle with each other in my mind.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020


"Kath & Kim" cast...with "Sharon" on the right....

Sharon Strzelecki aka Magda Szubanski would disagree with me, but I’m standing my ground, even though it’s not my ground.  I don’t own it! 

“Sharon Strzelecki”...for those not familiar with the name... “Sharon” was one of the main characters (played by Magda) in the much-loved Australia television comedy series...”Kath & Kim”.  Lately, Magda, in her “Sharon” character, features, alongside Kim Kardashian, in a couple of Uber Eats television commercials...

It is nice to know nice people, that is for sure.  It is also nice to meet nice people. 
I met a very nice person for the first time a couple of weeks ago.  I was in desperate need of a new mattress; had been for far too long.  Ask my hips, they are nodding in agreement. 

Giving into my desperation, and screaming hips, I ordered a new king-size mattress, which, by the way, was delivered by an errant Brisbane delivery driver who dropped the huge, heavy load off at the wrong address, even though I had given very clear, descriptive delivery instructions, in black and white, three times!  (Nothing is black and white these days, it would seem).   Why the recipient accepted such a bulky, large, heavy item that obviously wasn’t his...that hadn’t been purchased by him, beats me. 

Some people never cease to amaze a most negative way!

After the delivery debacle of the very large, bulky, heavy product i.e. the ”mattress in a box”, when it eventually ended up where it was supposed to end at my door, not at my landlords’ home, which is a couple of hundred metres up the other end of this block of land ...and, after about an hour of me grunting and groaning, half-inch by half-inch, I slowly managed to ease the monster load inside my humble little abode.

In an email received on the Tuesday morning from the "Koala" company, I’d been informed  the very large...very large...parcel would be delivered somewhere between the hours of 1 pm and 7 pm on the Tuesday.  

 I waited and waited...and waited some more.  Once dark fell, I had my little cabin lit up like a town centre Christmas tree!  7 pm came and sign of my expected delivery.  My anxiety levels rose as the minutes ticked by.

Next morning, I immediately got in touch with the company to ask when I could expect delivery.  

I was assured my king-size mattress-in-a-box had been delivered the previous afternoon.  Politely, I assured the person with whom I was speaking it had not.  I was emailed a photo as proof of delivery.   

Wonders will never cease.  The photo depicted my landlords’ home, brick double-garage with their two vehicles therein!

As I was trying to solve the mystery loud banging began on the rear door of this “cabin”.  Excusing myself from the person helping me solve the mystery, I went to the rear door...opened it...and found my landlord panting and puffing, wheelbarrow in hand.  Lying across the top of the wheelbarrow was a very, very large box!! 

By that stage, I was pretty furious...his loud banging, alone, was enough to set me off, but I managed to contain my feelings.  

 I asked him when it had been delivered (remember, it was by then...the time of his banging on my door....Wednesday morning, around 9.30 am).   

His reply was, “Oh! About an hour ago.”

Doing my best to keep a smile on my face, and not let the anger I was feeling erupt like Mt. Vesuvius and Krakatoa in unison, I asked him to wheel the huge package around to the narrow concrete area out from the glass and screen sliding doors that lead into the main section of this small abode. 

Returning to my conversation with the supplier, I explained why I had deserted our chat. 
I have only good things to say about the company, “Koala”.  It was the delivery driver who was at fault.  He didn’t read the instructions...clear, descriptive instructions that were on the exterior of the large box.  From what I was told during that particular conversation, and follow-up communications, he won't make the same error again...

After mayhem had calmed down, is when, with me, the penny dropped!  And what a penny it was!  

I realised I’d been blatantly lied to by my landlord.  The mattress HAD been delivered the previous afternoon...not “about an hour ago” as he had stated.  I had photographic proof!

What frustrated and angered me further was...why on earth would anyone, in his or her right mind, accept a parcel as large, heavy and bulky as the “mattress-in-a-box”, knowing full well it wasn’t theirs?  A tiny parcel...perhaps, in error...but never something as large as the mattress!

Finally, I managed to get the “box” inside, where it remained for a few days because I needed someone...a strong remove my old, battered, still heavy king-size mattress from the base, and take it to the dump for me.  

In the meanwhile, my two furry roomies were curious, of course, about the strange, large package that was taking up so much floor space.  "Could it be filled with cans of cat food?"  Was a thought that teased them.

Who was I going to call?  Definitely not the Ghostbusters...they’d be of no use in handling the job required.

Instead, I rang Rubbish Removal, and asked Simon for his help.  He advertises in our local “rag”.

Without a moment’s hesitation, he agreed to be my knight in shining armour.  I was very glad I contacted him.  Not only is he a nice person, Simon is an obliging, intelligent, and very strong fellow. 

Feeling utterly useless – and, a little guilty - I stood aside watching him do the heavy lifting all by himself, with nary a grunt, groan, nor a loss of breath...not the loss of one single breath!   I bet he eats lots of spinach.

My two furry bed-mates didn’t think it was very nice of me to lock them out in the back area while the activity was going on.  There was much scratching and knocking at the inner door, along with some not very nice miaowing going on to make their annoyance known. They couldn’t understand what they’d done wrong for me to have treated them so rudely.  How dare I?  I’m sure a few curse words were added to their disgruntled complaints. (They didn’t learn those words from me, of course *cough*)! 

Both furry rascals changed their tune once they’d tried out OUR new mattress. 

Getting out of bed the next morning, and every morning since, has been more difficult than usual, now that WE have a nice new firm Aussie-made mattress.  My hips are grateful, too.  

Upon opening the box, to my delight, I found a lovely fluffy, stuffed koala...a surprise gift from the Koala company.

Simon, not only for his assistance, also deserves high praise for lowering my anxiety levels.  I sometimes talk rubbish, but in this instance, it isn’t the case.

The “Koala” bedding company have been very nice, too.  I have no complaints about them, or their product.  They’ve bent over backwards since the stuff-up.  The delivery driver was given a lesson on delivery, apparently!   

A couple of days ago I received another email from the company saying it wanted to send me a new pillow to help make up for the muddled delivery.  Thanking the lass (through our dealings she and I had become old friends!)...I told the lovely young woman everything was fine, and I didn’t expect anything.  I told her I was very happy with my purchase; and, with the company’s positive, personable communications...its way of dealing with customers.  However, being more persistent than I am, any day now, I am expecting a new “Koala” pillow to arrive.  Aussie-made products...the way to go!

Between the lass at “Koala”, and Simon, it goes to prove nice people are out there.  They are the quiet ones, who go about their lives with dignity and consideration for others. No fanfare required. 

Move over, Sharon... “Nice” rhymes with “ice”.  “Noice” rhymes with “Joyce”.  Joyce had a voice.  It was her choice to buy a Rolls Royce.  Excise didn’t apply, so she paid less than the list price, which was very nice. Bryce, who was always precise, agreed.  Bryce reckoned it was like being in paradise when he was at the controls of the Rolls. 

See what I well as talking rubbish, I write rubbish, too, as my final paragraph proves!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Spinach-Walnut Pesto: Process.4c fresh spinach, 1/4c toasted walnuts, 30g grated Parmesan, 1 chopped garlic clove, 2tsp lemon juice, and 1/4tsp crushed red pepper. With processor on, slowly add 3tbs olive oil. Add 2tbs warm water; process until blended.

Spinach with Chickpeas: Heat 1tbs olive oil in saucepan over med-heat; add 1 chopped onion; cook, stirring, until tender. Add 2 minced garlic cloves, 1tsp lightly toasted and ground cumin seed, 1tbs tomato paste and 1/2tsp salt. Cook, stirring 1-2mins, until the tomato paste has turned a darker colour. Add 460g canned chickpeas, 1c chick or vegie stock, and cayenne, to taste; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat; simmer 10mins.Stir in 180g spinach, a handful at a time, stir until spinach wilts. Season; simmer uncovered, stirring often, 5mins. Add freshly ground pepper, adjust seasonings to taste.

Creamy Spinach-Chicken Pasta: Cook to al dente stage, 240g pasta of choice.  Cut 2 chicken breasts into small, bite-size pieces; season; coat with flour.  Add 1tbs butter and 1tbs olive to pan over med-high heat. When hot, add chicken; cook until no longer pink on the outside; remove from pan; set aside. Take pan off heat; add 4 minced garlic cloves, 1/3c chick stock, 1tsp lemon juice, 1/2tsp Dijon mustard and a dash of Italian seasonings. Return pan to heat; let bubble 1-2mins. Scrape brown bits from pan base. Add chicken, 1c heavy cream and 155g fresh spinach; cook 5mins or until chicken is cooked through. Drain pasta; toss with sauce. Stir in 1/c grated Parmesan; serve.  

Koala Bedding Company with ever purchase made from their company donate to.....The Koala Foundation: -