Tuesday, July 20, 2021



Below is just a bit of frivolous, harmless fun.....


Once upon a time I knew a miner, but he wasn’t a minor.  Also, I knew a major who wasn’t a major.  Mr Major and his family lived across the street, next door to the Sargents.   

Mr. Butcher, another neighbour, was a cop, not a butcher.   With a bushel-load of kids...11 in total...Mr. and Mrs. Bushel from two doors down lived up to their name. Mr. Rice from the end of the lane was called “Sago” by his friends. 

Mr. Head was a school teacher at my primary school, but he wasn’t the principal.  Mr. Head was, in principle, the Deputy Principal aka Deputy Head.  Through the years I’ve met a few Richard Craniums, too.

Why are redheads often called, “Bluey”?  The nickname originated in the 1890s. It probably made as little sense then as it does now. Were...are...redheads more prone to having a blue, perhaps....hmmm.... My mother was a fiery redhead.  I dared not call her “Bluey”.  Doing so certainly would have stoked the fire!

Do those who bear the name “Parsons” have a nose for things? 

What about “Taylor”?  I went to school with a girl with the surname of “Taylor”. She couldn’t sew a stitch.  I did have a great-uncle who was a tailor.  His name was “Daly”, and he sewed daily

A blooming lovely pair was Rose and Daisy Flowers. 

Mr. Coffey was an instant success, and not only with the ladies.  Some say it was because he was an Irish Coffey.  He wasn’t a drip. 

Cherry Stone had had a rocky start to life, but it made her bolder.  Mr. Baker took the cake!  He should’ve used his scone.  When he was on a roll he’d sponge off others.  It was how he was bred, I guess.

When I was a teenager, a boy named Marlon Fysh lived down the road. He looked pretty good from every angle.  Unfortunately, he used to carp on a bit.  Often he’d perch on his fence, and never clam up.  His sister, Kat was known for her sting!  Sandy Shaw was gritty. Shelly Shaw, her cousin, was rough around the edges.  On the other hand, Shelly Case, at times, was a bit husky. 

Surprisingly, in reality, the two Lyon sisters were just timid pussy cats who wouldn’t hurt a fly.  They knew when and where to draw the line, too.  Justin Lyon was often out of step, though.

The Days and Knights came around with regularity.  You could set your clocks by them.  Some said the Penns needed to sharpen up, but what was the point?  Casper didn’t have a ghost of a chance. He was spirited away quickly. Paige Turner worked at the town library.  Many could take a leaf out of her book. 

The Greens, Browns, Whites and Lemons were a colourful lot.  They saw red one day, and had a blue.  It was easy to warm to Parker Coates.  I’d willingly have shared a trench with him any day of a winter week.  Frequently, Gail blew in and out, storming around the place, much to the amusement of Harry Kane.  His sister, Candy, was the sweetest little thing. 

Up Sheep Creek, River, Flo Waters’ uncle was pretty dry.  His best mate, Willy Burrows was a Digger. Unfortunately, he was always in a hole. 

My grandmother’s maiden name was “Hose”.  As much as she tried, she never could quite tap into the connection between her and the Gardners who came from the same area as she did.   However, Nana bailed out when she gained the married name of “Hay”.  

See the trouble I get into when locked in, locked up in lockdown?   While shut in, perhaps I should shut up.


Rice Cakes: Preheat oven to 200°C.  Grease 8 x 2/3-cup capacity mini loaf pan. Line with baking paper.  Cook 2/3rd cup basmati rice, following absorption method on packet. Rinse; set aside to cool. Place rice,  250g smoked, skinless diced chicken breast, 2/3rd cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1c grated mozzarella, 3 thinly sliced shallot stalks, 1/4c finely shredded basil leaves, 3 lightly beaten eggs, and pepper into bowl. Mix well to combine.  Spoon into prepared pan. Sprinkle with grated mozzarella. Bake 15 -2 mins or until cakes are firm to the touch and light golden. Stand in pan for 5 minutes (not you!). Turn onto a wire rack. Cool completely before cutting into slices.

Sago Patties: Wash and soak 1c sago in enough water 3-4 hours,; then drain.  Mash 2 to 3 medium, boiled potatoes. Add the soaked sago, 1/2c crushed roasted peanuts, 1tspgreen chillis, 1tsp crushed cumin seeds, 1tsp grated ginger, 1tbs lemon juice, salt and 1/4c chopped coriander leaves.

Baked Sago Pudding: Preheat oven 160C.  Soak 1c sago for 30mins. Boil 1ltr milk and 1 cinnamon stick on high heat until boiling; reduce heat; remove cinnamon; add sago and pinch of salt. Stir continuously; cook 15mins. Remove from heat; add 5tbs sugar and 2-3tsp vanilla essence; add 5tbs butter and 2 eggs; mix thoroughly. Pour into greased baking dish, or individual ramekins; sift cinnamon on top.  Bake 30-35mins.  

Mango Sago: Bring 1ltr water to boil. Add 1/2c sago pearls; cook 15mins or until translucent. Stir occasionally to prevent from sticking together.  Turn off heat; strain ago using a fine sieve. Rinse thoroughly until the sago pearls are no longer hot to touch. Transfer to a bowl; soak in little water.  Cut 3 large mangoes into cubes. Reserve about a cup of the cubes for later as toppings. Place remaining cubes in blender. Add 1/3c suga;  pulse on high speed until it turns into a smooth puree. Drain water from cooked sago and transfer to a larger bowl. Add the mango puree and 1c coconut cream, or coconut milk; mix with a spoon or spatula until well blended.  Divide into 6-8 serving bowls; top each with the reserved mango cubes. Chill for at least an hour before serving.


Monday, July 12, 2021



The above are not pictures of Sasha and Smocka...but both are very much like how they were...

Graphite drawing by me...

At various times through the years in posts I’ve mentioned Sasha, my much-loved ginger cat.  It was in 1967, as a little kitten around the age of 6 weeks, he came into my life and I, into his. At the time I was married to Mervyn, my first husband.  When Mervyn and I separated in 1968, I gained custody of Sasha, which was a no-brainer, of course.  

In rapid time, from the moment he came into my life, Sasha, had become my shadow.  When I was at home, he was always by my side.  He was my best buddy. 

A big ginger fellow with a proud demeanour, a snowy white chest and belly, he feared little, if anything.   I’d named him after the little boy, the son, in Boris Pasternak’s. “Doctor Zhivago”.

Mervyn and I had been living in Moray Street, New Farm, an inner Brisbane suburb.  Upon our separation, I moved down the street a bit, and around a corner to set up camp in Oxlade Drive...still in New Farm...in a river-front flat.  My new small home, which consisted of one bedroom, bathroom, lounge/dining area and kitchen. was the portioned-off rear section of a home owned by an elderly lady who was rarely present.  She spent the majority of her time visiting her son who lived in Port Moresby. 

My bedroom opened up to a grand vista of the Brisbane River, and across to the suburb of Hawthorne.  Four stairs led down from the small landing out from my bedroom, down to the yard. From there it was only a few strides and you found yourself on the wide grassy verge bordering the river.  Back then I’d sleep with my bedroom door open, something one couldn’t do safely these days, unfortunately.

Early in 1970, I relocated from New Farm to Toowong, into a two-bedroom, upstairs’ unit in a newly-constructed block of six units.   

A year or two after living in the upstairs unit, I moved into what had been the owner/manager’s unit...a townhouse at the rear of the building.  Two bedrooms and the bathroom were on the upper level, with a carpeted staircase leading down to the lower level which consisted of lounge/dining, kitchen, and laundry leading off from the latter.  With the relocation, I also took over the management of the rest of the units in the block.

On the day of my move from New Farm to Toowong I’d hired a removalist to do the heavy lifting and shifting.  (When I left Gympie in 1965, to work in Brisbane I shared a flat, with another girl, for about nine months.  The flat was in Toowong).

Sasha disappeared during the loading of my furniture, and odds and ends.  My belief nothing scared him was shattered.  Perhaps change, lots of activity and a truck were what he feared.

My concern wasn’t warranted, I discovered, to my relief.   

I found Sasha contentedly curled up in the back of the removalist’s truck, on top of one of the many cartons. He was ready to go.  He made it very obvious, I wasn't going anywhere without him.  In no way was he at all ruffled.  Sasha never ceased to amaze me, and amaze me he did that day.

A couple of years after settling into the apartment at Toowong, I adopted a kitten.  I named him “Smocka”.  

 By some unfeeling, heartless person Smocka's mother had been dumped on the property when she was due to give birth to her little furry family.

Animals should never be under-estimated.  The mother cat sensed I had a love for cats.   There is no other explanation why, a few hours after giving birth, she brought each one of her bubs to me...setting up a cosy home for herself and her kittens in my laundry.

I managed to give three of her four kittens away to friends, who I knew would give them safe, happy homes, keeping one, Smocka, for myself.  From the moment he opened his eyes, Smocka attached himself to me.  He picked me.  I had no choice.  It was what it was.  He was a dear, sweet-natured little fellow. His steely-blue-grey coat and amber-green eyes betrayed perhaps some higher breeding in his genetics. I think his mother may have been playing around amongst the "upper-classes".

Immediately, Sasha became Smocka's mentor.  He protectively guarded Smocka, his little, new best mate.  Never did he utter a miaow of dissent towards him.  Not once was there any display of jealousy or anger shown by Sasha towards Smocka.

One Saturday morning I returned from shopping to find Smocka bailed up at my front screen door. Having come from bright sunlight, into the shade of the carport, at first I didn't see my furry friend in the shadows.  

However, I did, immediately, see a white boxer dog, with the hairs on it back raised, at my door.  At once, the hairs on my own back rose!  A low, guttural growl was issuing from the dog’s mouth.

Once my eyes adjusted to the light, I saw Smocka frozen on the spot with the dog about an inch or two from him.  

I froze, too, not wanting to make a sudden move, believing all hell would break loose if I did so, and knowing Smocka would become the victim.

Fear took over my being as I stood there wondering what to do next to save my little mate.  

It was then I noticed Sasha. Stealthily, all puffed up ready for battle, quietly he strode with determined intent across the yard at the rear of my apartment. I remained rooted to the spot.  Somehow, I knew Sasha had the matter under control.

The albino boxer had no idea what was in store for him. He was too concentrated on Smocka to be aware of what was going on around him.

Proudly, and in awe, I watched as Sasha approached the unwary dog. Having snuck up behind him, with one quick movement and a flash of claw, Sasha struck out at the unsuspecting dog. Sasha quickly followed with another massive blow to the dog's nose. The dog let out a couple of surprised, woeful cries, and with blood pouring from his face he ran backwards. I immediately flew to the screen door, and ushered Smocka inside. Sasha was prepared to continue the battle, but I picked him up and put him inside as well.

I turned to chase the dog, which by then had given a few loud whelps and had run, in fear and shock, when it's owner, who was visiting a ground-level unit the apartment block, came out to see what the turmoil was about.

Sneering, he looked at me, and, in a half-smart tone, said, "My dog would have any cat for breakfast!"

He wasn't very smart in saying that to me, considering the mood I was in. I moved closer to him, standing 12 to 18 inches from him...up close and personal. Looked him directly in the eye, I replied.

"If your dog had as much as touched a single fur on my cat's body, it wouldn't be alive at this moment, of that you can be sure! It would've had to deal with me, as would have you!

And another thing you should know...albino boxers are illegal. They are supposed to be put-down at birth. Secondly, you are a visitor to the property and dogs are not allowed, especially unleashed dogs, so I advise you to leave right this moment and take that mongrel with you before I report you both!"

As meek as a reprimanded child, the dog owner backed down without a further word.  He and his dog left, both with their tails between their legs.

I was so proud of Sasha that day.  He was my hero...he was Smocka’s hero.


****Addendum...At the time this incident took place I was employed by the Kolotex Group of Companies...I worked for them for 14 years.  One of my co-workers and her husband bred boxer dogs.  Constantly she talked about their dogs, driving her co-workers crazy!  It was through her I learned about the sad fate in store for albino boxers.  

Please do not misunderstand me....I love dogs.  It’s some careless dog owners who are the problem!

Like the person who lives across the way from here where I live.  She has a doberman which she lets run free.  I chased it out of the yard yesterday.  Remy and Shama are indoor cats.  I’d be full of anxiety if they weren’t, with this large dog running around the place, un-tethered

Sunday, July 04, 2021



Entrance to Happy Valley, Eastern Side of Fraser Island

River Heads

I’ve been doing a lot of the above lately...a lot more than I usually do. And, that’s saying a lot because at any given time, day or night of a week I do a lot! 

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, or a sign of ageing, or a combination of both.

Some old friends and I have been sharing many memories over the past few months.  Like me, they, too, are growing older.  Sneaking up on us, with little respect for our feelings, the rapidly passing years have a habit of doing that to us unsuspecting folk.  The shock hits when we look in the mirror...well, it does with me.

In April, friends whom I hold in dear stead visited.  At Mountain Brewery, a local café, over a couple of cups of coffee and tasty treats, we spent three or more hours enjoying each other’s company.  The male participant was, at one stage, my brother-in-law.  In law or not, I still consider him to be so.  He is a good bloke; he always has been.  He showed his true colours, and the goodness of his heart, when his brother, my ex, fell ill, remaining at his side, doing for his brother, through to the sad end.  The get-together with him and his wife, although emotional at times, was great.  We covered a lot of territory while sitting stationary in one spot. 

A friend I’ve known for more years than any other friend of mine and I speak often – with each other.  I know when her birthday is, never forgetting it.  Likewise applies to her regarding mine. She came to my fourth birthday party, which should give you a bit of a clue to how long we’ve known each other.  I won’t go into the minute details. 

For some reason, this year I had it set in concrete in my mind her birthday was three days earlier than her actual date.  (Before you think it, I’ll say it...maybe it is a sign of the times, and of age...mine!)  Not only did my friend receive her birthday card well in advance, she also received an early birthday phone call from me, exposing my error.  Not to let the opportunity pass, each day leading to her actual birthday, I rang to advise her I wasn’t ringing to wish her a happy birthday; also to inform her I wouldn’t ring her on her birthday.  Naturally, I didn’t keep my word.  It was more fun to keep her on her toes.  She and I would both be flat out standing for long on our toes these days.  I could stand on hers, and she, on mine, with our respective feet flat on the ground, I suppose.  What a sight that would be!

When Randall (then husband, later ex) and I lived at Sunshine Beach, situated around the corner, a little south of Noosa Heads, in the early to mid-80s we often visited and stayed with his Aunty Ethel who lived at Happy Valley on Fraser Island.  Ethel lived on Fraser Island for nigh on a decade, if not a little longer.

The three of us would be up well before the crack of dawn, lined along the water’s edge with our surf rods baited, and cast out into the ocean.  After a few hours we’d head back to Ethel’s home with a load of fish, eager for a hearty breakfast of some of our filleted catch. 

There, we’d sit, talking and laughing in front of the smoker while it smoked the fish carcasses...what was left after the fish was filleted.

Happy days spent at Happy Valley. 

(On Hinchinbrook Island, when I managed the resort, my chef built a smoker out of an old refrigerator.  We used to smoke fish, and the carcasses.  The tasty tidbits were enjoyed with drinks during “Happy Hour”.)

Sadly, Ethel passed away in June just gone, aged 92 years.  The last time Ethel and I spoke was when Randall, her nephew, passed away.  For the past few years, Ethel was a resident in an Aged Care facility at Hervey Bay.

After her passing, by telephone, Lee, her son, and I talked at length.  We, too, covered a lot of territory. 

Lee and I have known each other since he was a kid of 14. (He was 14 in the Sixties.  His cousin, who later became my husband, and then ex, and I were a little older...in our late teens!  Those are the only hints I’m giving you!) 

Coincidentally, at one stage during our lives, when Lee was attending Queensland University at St. Lucia, he became a tenant in the same block of units in which I lived, and managed, at Toowong, an inner western suburb of Brisbane, in the 70s!

Randall and I visited Lee a few times back when.  He, Lee, lived on acreage (still does) up at River Heads, in the Hervey Bay area.  At university he studied zoology, among other things.  At one stage he built large fish breeding tanks on his property.  And he had ducks roaming freely.  They bred faster than rabbits!

It’s difficult not to reflect on the past...to reminisce on the happy times, and the sad...doing so is part of Life’s tapestry...memories...


Fish with Avo Salsa: In bowl, whisk 1tbs olive oil, 2tbs melted butter, 2tsp soy sauce, 1/2tsp ground ginger, and 2tbs lime or lemon juice. Place 4 white fish fillets into shallow dish; pour marinade over; flip fish until each piece is coated.  Chill until ready to cook, about 15-20mins. Make avocado salsa by combining 2 large diced avocados, 1tsp minced jalapeno, minced garlic, juice of 1 lime or lemon, and 2tbs chopped fresh coriander in bowl. Add pinch of salt. Stir together; set aside. Heat heavy pan over med-high heat; cook fillets by searing skin side down first (if your fish has skin); about 4mins per side to cook through (actual cooking time will depend on the thickness of your fillet). The fish is done when it can flake easily with a fork. Serve hot topped with avocado salsa. 

Easy Lemon Fillets: Thoroughly pat-dry 4 firm, good-sized white fish fillets (about 15cm long; 2-1/2cm thickness); set aside. In bowl, combine 3tbs melted butter, juice of 1 lemon and zest; add salt to taste; combine well; adjust seasoning if necessary. In another bowl, combine 1/2tsp salt, 1tsp paprika, 1tsp garlic powder, 1tsp onion powder and 1/4tsp ground black pepper. Press evenly onto all sides of fish fillets.  In large pan over med-high heat, heat 3tbs olive oil until hot. Cook 2 fillets at a time; cook each side just until fish becomes opaque. Lightly drizzle over some of the lemon butter sauce as you cook; reserve rest for serving. Don’t over-cook.  Season to taste; serve fish with remaining lemon butter sauce, chopped basil or parsley, and lemon wedges. 

Smoked Fish Preparation: Mix together 4c warm water, 1c soy sauce, 3/4c brown sugar, 1/2c salt and 3/4c granulated garlic until sugar and salt are dissolved.  Let cool to room temperature.  Be sure the brine has cooled before adding fish.  Pour brine over a couple of kilos of skin-on fish fillets (and, carcasses, if desired).  Ensure they are covered. Cover and marinate in fridge for minimum of 6 hours.  Removed fish from brine; pat dry.  (I’ll let you research smokers and methods....)