Sunday, October 23, 2022









Once a month a Gympie friend phones for a chat…a lengthy chat.  He and I first met circa 1960.  He was…still is…four years older than me.

In the late 50s he, along with four mates, formed a band.  Immediately they became very popular. Their group, “The Starbrites” played many gigs throughout Gympie and surrounding areas, as well as sharing their music with crowds at well-known Brisbane venues.  Their repertoire consisted pop, rock, country, and ballads, all of which the group played with free-spirited, professional aplomb.

Upon leaving high school to join the “working world”, weekly, often bi-weekly, I attended the local dances and record hops.  A regular on the dance floor, I loved to dance.  My friends and I waltzed, fox-trotted, twisted, limbo-ed, and be-bop-a-lula-ed every chance we got. We made sure we never missed a chance to dance. 

I had a secret crush on the The Starbrites’ handsome young drummer.  The furtive looks he flashed my way as I tripped the light fantastic, without ever tripping over, showed he had similar feelings towards me. We never acted on our hidden desires, though.  Love at arms’ length it was.

More than three decades later, shortly after my brother Graham’s passing, my teenage crush and I chatted on the phone.  It was the first time we’d talked in many a long year. During our conversation he told me the reason our romance never got off the ground…or the dance floor. 

Unknown by me at the time, my brother Graham, having sensed the beating of our hearts, warned my admirer off!  Graham figured part of his role as an older brother was to keep would-be suitors at bay.  My brother might have believed my welfare was his priority, but if I’d wanted to be cloistered I would’ve become a nun, but of that, I would have none!

Music played a major role throughout our childhood. Our piano was rarely idle. Sing-a-longs around it were frequent. The piano was gifted to our grandparents on their wedding day. The steel-framed Irving Upright had belonged to an aunty of our grandfather.  As mentioned in previous posts, our mother was brilliant pianist.  With nimble fingers that effortlessly flew up and down the key board, Mum mastered all genres of music….with or without help of sheet music.  

My brother loved to tease. I wasn’t his sole target.  Often after dinner I’d attack the ebony and ivory, while Nana, lost in a world of her own, continued to fiddle about in the kitchen.  Most nights Mum would be working.  Through the years she worked long hours as a barmaid.  Many chilly winter early morns Mum also picked beans on farms in the Gympie area.  

Our kitchen was within close proximity to where the piano stood.  After I’d played a few tunes, on cue, Graham and I, with mischievous twinkles in our eyes, would nod in silent accord.  I’d then begin playing “Love Letters in the Sand”…a song that was first released decades before in 1931; a song, which through the years had been resurrected many times, most notably, and successfully, by Pat Boone in the late 50s.

Without fail, after playing only a couple of notes, Nana’s sweet voice would fill the air as she sang along unaware….completely oblivious…she was doing so. That is, until Graham and I broke out into loud laughter.  She’d then realise we’d tricked her once again,  Nana would shake her head in feigned annoyance, before bursting into joyful laughter.  Each and every time I began playing “Love Letters in the Sand” Nana would burst into song and, once again, our devious plan had worked.  A happy memory it is.

The last time I played the piano, any piano, was in 1974, the day after our mother passed away.  Before leaving to fly back to Brisbane, with Nana sitting close by in quiet reverie, I played some of Mum’s favourites, which included,“On the Sunny Side of the Street”, “Walking My Baby Back Home”, “Ain’t Misbehavin’”…and her all-time favourite… Hoagy Carmichael’s, “Stardust”.

With Nana’s passing two years later. In 1976, Graham gave the piano to a Mackay pre-school.  I hope the piano continued to bring years of joy to the children.  Who knows?  Perhaps, it still is...

My musical Gympie mate who rings me monthly (he rang me on Saturday just gone, and once again, we covered a lot of territory, and shared lots of laughs) still plays guitar and sings.  He’s constantly updating his catalogue of songs because he regularly visits Gympie’s aged care facilities to entertain the residents. 

The Starbrites broke up many years ago. My friend is the last man standing, but the music goes on. and on.  It’s wonderful he is still, to this day, at the age he is now, sharing his talent, and love of music with others…selflessly brightening their lives.


Green Bean Salad: Combine 500g cooked, fresh green beans, 330g Three-Bean mix, 1 chopped red capsicum and 1 sliced onion.  Mix together, ½c x-virgin olive oil, 3tbs vinegar, 2tbs brown sugar, 1/2tsp mustard powder, 2 crushed garlic cloves and 1tsp dried basil leaves. Pour over bean mix; chill for a few hours.

Beans & Tomato Salad: Trim 500g green beans; leave whole. Cook in boiling water until crisp tender, 3-5mins. Don’t overcook. Drain; cool. Cut away core of 6 tomatoes; cut into wedges.  Use a punnet of whole cherry tomatoes, if preferred,  In salad bowl, combine 2tbs Dijon mustard, 2tbs red wine vinegar, 4tbs finely chopped shallots, 1tbs finely chopped garlic, 4tbs x-olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper.  Add beans and tomatoes; toss well; sprinkle with 4tbs coarsely chopped basil.

Almondine Beans: Steam 500g fresh green beans until just tender. Meanwhile in a pan, melt 3tbs butter.  Add 1tsp crushed garlic, 1-1/2tbs lemon juice and 1/3c sliced almonds. Sauté, stirring frequently until almonds are slightly browned.  Be careful not to overcook the garlic. Add beans to serving dish; pour butter and almond mix over top


Sunday, October 09, 2022


Graphite drawing I did a few years ago



The above are million dollar questions to which I’m not sure I have the answers without boring you senseless, or to sleep, by going into lengthy detail.  I know I’m an old bird, of that there is no dispute.  However, the unsettling part is I think I’m becoming a kookaburra, which is most unbecoming.  Please don’t misunderstand me…I love kookaburras, but I’ve never considered being one.  The kookas probably wouldn’t like the idea, either.

The reason for my concern is not my waking up at sparrow’s whatever, but it’s because lately I’m waking up around the same moment the kookaburras start laughing, which, as spring unfolds, is getting earlier and earlier each morning.  Why the birds find it so funny is a both a source of puzzlement to me, and amusement. Maybe my kookaburra neighbours are happy because they believe we’re birds of a feather, and that’s the reason they’re encouraging me to join them in their early morning frivolity. 

I, for one, do not want daylight saving!  It’s no laughing matter.  I experienced the day-light saving trial in 1989/1990 when I was living in tropical Far North Queensland.  It was a giant pain in the proverbial!  I was climbing out of bed before birds of all feathers woke, and I was working long into the still-sun-filled nights!

My circadian clock was way out of whack.  Please note…”circadian”…not cicada!  An old bird I might be, but I’ve not begun to morph into an insect…not yet, anyway.   Am I droning on too much?

It’s good to be able to laugh at yourself, though.  I’m always laughing at my own self.  Perhaps it is me I hear each morning, not the kookaburras.  I’ll apologise to the birds, if that is the case.

A perfect example of my comedic-self occurred the other day when I was doing my grocery shopping at IGA, our local supermarket.  As I reached for a container of milk, out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of someone to my right.  She wore a red top on similar to the one I was wearing that morning.  I turned to smile and pass a friendly word of good cheer when I realized I was looking at my own reflection in the mirror at the end of the dairy display! 

And you wonder why I keep dodging those blokes cruising around in their vans, armed with jackets (and nets) at the ready!  One also wonders why I’m allowed out unaccompanied, let alone allowed out at all!  I’m surprised the locals don’t run off screaming in fear…and horror…every time I venture forth.  I guess it’s just as well I never venture often, or venture far…very rarely venturing farther than North Tamborine.

Between you, me and my non-existent garden gate, I believed word had finally gotten around one Monday morning earlier this month.  When I arrived at IGA the roller doors were down, bolted securely. I thought everyone, fearful of my pending appearance, had gone into hiding.  To my relief I discovered (with the helpful advice from a pleasant young lady who showed no fear being in my presence) because it was a public holiday, the supermarket wasn’t opening until 9 am.  As always, I was at the centre bright and early, a few minutes past 7 am. “The early bird catches the worm”, as the saying goes. I didn’t find any worms…not that I was looking, if that’s what you’re thinking.  

Shaking my tail feathers, I hopped into the newsagency to grab the daily papers and a couple of magazines. Rather than wait around for the supermarket to open, I flew home.  There, for the rest of the day, I remained, tackling puzzles, including Sudoku.  Ruffling my feathers, flapping my wings, I tore my hair out over Sudoku!   One would think I’d give up on the numbers’ games, but no!  I won’t let Sudoku beat me!  I’m a demon for punishment, that’s what I am!   

You’ve got to laugh!  And, we birds of a feather must stick together.  Now I’ll stop flapping my gums!


Mushroom Soup: Bring 600ml water to boil; add 1 vegetable stock cube, 200g diced spuds; season to taste. Reduce heat; simmer until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat; set aside.  Heat pan over med-high heat; add 20g butter; when melted, add 1 diced medium onion and 2 minced garlic cloves. Sauté until onions are just softened; add 300g diced white mushrooms; season. Cook until mushrooms have softened. Remove pan from heat; add the onions and mushrooms to pot with spuds in it. Puree with stick blender, or transfer to processor. Place mixture back on med-heat; stir in 200m cream.  When first bubbles appear on surface, turn off heat. Serve soup topped with freshly chopped chives and reserved mushroom slices.

Wise Chicken Milk Delight: Season 1-1/2kg boneless, skinless chicken thighs with salt, black pepper and paprika. Heat 3tbs x-virgin olive oil in large pan; add 8 garlic cloves; cook until golden on both sides. Transfer to bowl; set aside. Pan sear the chicken, in batches, on each side until a little golden; set aside; keep warm while working in batches so as to not overload the pan. Add 2-1/2c milk to pan chicken has been cooked in; use spatula to scrape all brown bits from bottom of pan; bring milk to gentle simmer. Add 20 fresh sage leaves, garlic and chicken back to pan with the milk sauce; bring to gentle simmer; cover with lid. Cook 30mins. Remove lid; continue simmering on low heat for another 15mins, until chicken is tender and sauce has reduced to your liking. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve garnished with chopped parsley, sprinkling of red pepper flakes, and a drizzle of x-virgin olive oil.