Friday, April 29, 2011

A Right Royal Occasion

Love seems the swiftest but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century. ~ Mark Twain

Depending upon what part of the world you live in, whether you are male or female, whether you are a republican or a royalist, or whether you just love weddings, today is the day to indulge in wishing the Royals a happy wedding day, peace and happiness for the rest of their lives.

After hearing or watching bad news, floods, tornadoes, skirmishes amongst neighbouring countries which appear to be a re-enactment over centuries, it is refreshing to have one day of good news; we can ignore the bad news, though it will always remain in the background ready to force itself to the forefront.

I listen to the radio and wonder why some are keener to make fun of this wedding. Do they not realise they are degrading the institution of marriage? Is marriage not the cement that binds families? It does seem to me that making a joke of marriage [putting football first] is almost a national pastime. No wedding should be the butt of senseless jokes. All couples entering matrimony make promises that they have every intention of keeping, and if marriage once more became a 'special occasion', a time for celebration, perhaps more marriages might make it past the first seven years.

I send all good wishes to William and Kate ... may their lives be blessed in their marriage, and may those who scorn royalty and marriage lose their tongues whenever they attempt to make unkind comments.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Easter in our nearest town is hectic; folks on holiday swarm the streets, the Fair, as usual, was well patronised with some beautiful items for sale. The carparks surrounding the churches were full, their doors wide open inviting the public in to help celebrate this holy season.

A book Fair was held, as is the custom each Easter, and the Fishermen's Hall buzzed with excited people gasping as a favourite was spotted in a distant box; some were careful in their selecting even though the over-all price of $1 per book would hardly make a dent in the weekend budget.

Being ardent book-lovers, and buyers of books, this annual Fair adds to the ever mounting collection of books that overflow the several bookcases and cupboards. My Other Half prefers 'Australiana', while I look for favourite authors or pick up, and bring home [$1 a book is always a bargain!], a mixture. Two large bags each are taken to carry our treasures home in. Those who haven't attended a Book Fair before find their arms laden and smiling greet those of us more used to such unprecedented spending with words of congratulation on our foresight, determining to bring a bag next time. One enterprising lady had a shopping bag on wheels ... no doubt her arms were not as sore as mine!

I am continually amazed at what 'other folks' pass in for sale. I found a real treasure, though will admit that My Other Half hasn't shown much enthusiasm for this particular find. "Stonehenge Complete" by Christopher Chippindale [revised edition!] will add to my knowledge of Stonehenge.

For some unknown reason I am fascinated by monoliths; perhaps because neither New Zealand nor Australia have such structures; perhaps because it is almost beyond my comprehension how such structures were erected. I look and I wonder.

Just taking a quick look through the book [as I have with some of my other picks ... familiarising myself with them, and mentally sorting them into some type of order for winter perusal reading] I found a poem, written by Siegfried Sassoon, which epitomises Stonehenge.

What is Stonehenge? It is the roofless past;

Man's ruinous myth; his uninterred adoring

Of the unknown in sunrise cold and red;

His quest of stars that arch his doomed exploring.

And what is Time but shadows that were cast

By these storm-sculptured stones while centuries fled?

The stones remain; their stillness can outlast

The skies of history hurrying overhead.

(Siegfried Sassoon)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This 'n That

What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare? - William H. Davies

After a month away from home, and now a month back home, I have caught up with many of the essential things left on the back burner. I do have a few letters to reply to ... posted seven yesterday; those seven being the main backlog.

Today and sat and stitched; after completing the ironing ... do you iron tea-towels and pillow-cases? I still do, no doubt a relic from being the daughter of my Mother who ironed everything, and this with irons heated on the coal range, and using starch on supper cloths and the like. Which reminds me of the one time I used starch early in my marriage ... ooops ... a rather stiff cloth!

A supper cloth, or a morning tea or afternoon tea cloth are more relics of the past; of an age when conversation around the teapot filled many a happy half hour. Cups and saucers, the teapot warmed, loose tea spooned into the warm interior, and the wait until the tea was drawn. In the interim milk was poured into the cups of those who desired it. Mother poured tea, passed cups around, offered scones, biscuits, slices and cake, all home baked in the aforementioned coal range, and the family and visitors settled down to catch up on news.

Yesterday when we checked the mail box a letter from the electricity company told us important news. Electricity will be off 9 am to 3 pm on a Sunday in May. Almost a whole day with no electricity! We were advised to switch off appliances that might not perform as well if there is a sudden surge of power. They have warned us, and forewarned is forearmed! Definitely no ironing or using the washing machine, no vacuuming nor cooking toast in the toaster for a snack.

The computer and the sewing machine will lie idle ... a day for some hand stitching? A day for a little knitting, or reading? This Sunday in the middle of May promises to be blissful. While I have had a slight attack of the guilts today because of my lack of tackling glaring tasks like raking up the endless leaves that drop from the gumtrees near the house, on this Sunday in May I can happily spend hours engaging in some of the age-old hobbies that help make life a creative inspiration.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rain Thoughts

"If God had intended us to follow recipes,He wouldn't have given us grandmothers." ~ Linda Henley

After a hot, muggy Summer, today's gentle drops of rain are so welcome, especially as the washing is in and dry. One cannot hope for a better Monday than that. The one blot on the morning was the discovery of yet another red-back spider in the electricity meter box. Over a period this sheltered housing has been transformed into a home for red-backs who are not welcome there at all. Only last week I carefully disposed of one large red-back; a very pregnant female I suspect ... did you know the female red-back spider eats her mate not long after the deed has been performed. Whether she needs nourishment for the newly forming babies, or whether she no longer requires his services I am not sure. Today a small black spider with its tell-tale red mark on its back was clearly visible. A request to my other half to move it on fell on deaf ears.

Washing in and dry [ironing can wait], floors washed, bed changed ... now the day is mine; I even have tea more than half organised! On such a day the mind feels free to wander at will. These strange grey damp days can give the feeling of living in a time warp. So I let my mind wander ... and it stopped dead in a rather buttery sugary page of my recipe book. Golden Syrup Dumplings! Once these were my absolute favourite; once when I was young and inches and waistlines were not an equation. I have heard, and I do tend to keep these particular gems in mind, that food is something to be enjoyed ... feed the body with what it desires and it won't over indulge. A rather neat theory, but one which I feel might not pan out in practice.

When I worked in the kitchen of an Outback pub, officially a kitchen hand, but in practice a jack-of-all trades ... breakfast cook, which meant I rose before the crack of dawn; dishwasher ... the only mechanical one failed its most important test; it didn't work. I moved onto salad maker and pudding maker, all of which fall beyond the realm of kitchen hand.

We catered mainly for groups of working men; men who worked long hours in unrelenting Outback conditions ... dust, flies, unbearable heat, or pouring rain. These men returned in the evening looking for the type of meal their mother had served in their childhood. It soon became evident they loved a proper pudding. Golden Syrup Dumplings fell into that category.

Golden Syrup Dumplings

Place the syrup ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to boil


1 cup sugar

2 cups water

1 tblsp butter

2 tblsp golden syrup

While that is coming to the boil mix the dumplings as for a scone dough.


2 cups plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

pinch salt 1 dsp butter

2 eggs

milk to mix

Roll into balls and drop into the boiling syrup.

Cook 20 minutes.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A War Zone?

"And when he plays he makes the company jump eight to the bar. He's the boogie-woogie bugle boy of Company B"

War tanks, ferrets, camouflage coloured motor-bikes, a bren-gun carrier and The Andrews Sisters ... earlier today we had a close encounter with them all. We didn't go to a War Movie, but instead drove to a private unsealed airstrip where the dust and flies hardly hindered our enjoyment of a display that brought War to the forefront of our minds.

The 'operator' of the Bren gun looked strangely out of place wearing his gasmask.

To reach the air-strip vehicles had to negotiate across a paddock that today was a sea of dust. Young navy and army cadets directed traffic to parking spaces ensuring cars parked in an orderly manner. Most opted to get up close and personal with the display; many children clambered over the tank and when it did a lap of the airstrip loud cries, screams, and giggles rent the air. Those aboard will need to shower this evening as the dust the huge iron tracks made visibility almost impossible. A dust storm followed them.

One plane flew over and had a seven-foot person been in the crowd he would easily have reached up and touched the silver and blue bird as it flew, remarkably quietly for its altitude, over the assembly. Cameras clicked, a reporter made notes, TV cameras and reporters captured a moment of time reminiscent of the past, while in the background The Andrews Sisters warbled their wartime tunes.

I peered into a mock-up of a dug-out with a huge camouflaged gun poking out through khaki-coloured streamers, a girl who resembled Florence Nightingale chatted with soldiers wearing tin hats outside a white canvas hospital tent, the Navy and the Army had recruitment tents in case the young visitors decided the Forces were their forte.

With ANZAC Day in the near future the display of wartime equipment held a fascination only enjoyed in peace-time.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sweet Nothing

“"That buzzing-noise means something. If there's a buzzing noise, somebody's making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you're a bee. .... And the only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey..... And the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it." So he began to climb the tree.” from Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

With steps larger than those taken by the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk, as he chased hapless Jack from his castle in the sky, the world is becoming crazier. Commercialisation is rife.

Once Hot Cross buns appeared, freshly baked, their spicy aroma permeating several shops from the bakery, a day before Easter. There was a rush to purchase these 'icons' of Good Friday with their cross either impaled with a knife edge before baking, or a sweet cross added with icing directly after the buns cooled enough. Warmed in the oven and spread with luscious butter there was no better a way to start Easter.

Not today though; Hot Cross buns appear in the supermarkets a week before Christmas, their frozen husks borne in and stored in the freezer until just after the Christmas rush when they then were offered for sale. Not a week before Easter; No. At least three or four months before Easter.

I studiously avoid Hot Cross buns until Easter week. Today I broke my own rule. I purchased a pack of six from the local corner grocery, and later at the Church Fair a punnet of creamed honey simply begged to be purchased ... the honey knew my weakness for Hot Cross buns spread with butter and honey, which any dietician will tell you is a sure road to a heart attack. I don't care! The Hot Cross bun tasted delicious; the honey and butter adding to its decadence.

To show I have some sense of will-power I can say that in the refrigerator lies a pack of six marshmallow Easter eggs, plus one Creme Egg for my other half. This pack will stay intact; though it is possible the Hot Cross buns will be consumed before then. I have the opinion that Hot Cross buns, belonging to the bread family, is best eaten fresh, and most definitely they will not be anywhere near their best this time next week.

Back to commercialisation ... I wonder how the young child of today views Easter and indeed Christmas? The shops are full to overflowing with treats more than enough to rot baby teeth or to add unwanted kilos to teenage figures. The temptation to over-indulge surely has never been greater.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Another cup m' dear?

Deja Brew: The feeling that you've had this coffee before. ~Author Unknown

A woman's work is never done! Throughout the day that appears the case as we lurch from one task to another; some enjoyable, some essential, and some pure pleasure.

For an obscure reason it oft falls upon me to fill the coffee canister that sits on the bench alongside the sugar cannister and the tea cannister. Sugar and tea canisters seldom need refilling, which reflects the drinking habits of this household. As I emptied the last of the contents from the second last 500g tin of coffee that lives in the larder, its aroma wafting upwards brought back memories.

I was raised in an era when tea was the drink of the masses. My Mum, usually the most careful of grocery shoppers purchased tea regularly, but each Christmas a bottle of coffee and chicory essence found its way into the cupboard. Neither of the men in the household were coffee drinkers; in fact my brother preferred tea all of his life. My introduction to coffee began long, long ago at a moment in time that is lost to my recall. There was a ritual. Coffee was scarce; coffee was expensive; therefore coffee was not to be wasted. The rich essence of chicory and coffee was poured onto the spoon that was immediately placed in the cup. Boiling water from the kettle that stood, close to boiling point for much of the day, on the hob of the coal range. The resulting drink was cooled with a drop of milk. Nothing smelt as wonderful as a hot cup of coffee; the fact it was a special treat weighing heavily on the senses. There was no need to have a home-baked biscuit or scone as accompaniment; freshly made slices or fruit cake did nothing to enhance the deliciousness of a cup of coffee.

Today the aroma drifting from the open tin of coffee as it is transferred to a cannister still delights the senses. I have heard that several cups of coffee a day are injurious to health ... but we all need one vice in life, and if coffee is that only vice, who really worries?

Anyone for coffee?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"I held a moment in my hand, brilliant as a star, fragile as a flower, a tiny sliver of one hour. I dripped it carelessly, Ah! I didn't know, I held opportunity." ~Hazel Lee

Once last century when I was a young teenager a friend and I went to the movies. Attending movies was commonplace back then. It was nothing for a teenager to attend movies at least twice a week. This particular movie made an impression upon my young mind. The story revolved around Eve, who had a split personality, several split personalities in fact. Maybe you recall "The Three Faces of Eve"?

As I grew older I realised that this movie was an exaggeration of a severe mental illness, but it did make an impression. Eve battled with her other selves.

But perhaps the story wasn't such an exaggeration after all? Don't we all have several facets of our personality; there is the face we cultivate for public consumption. Some folks believe this personality to be their true self.

Then there is the face we wear at home, the face our loved know; the face that warns young family members they have overstepped the line, or the face that closes off when an unsavoury conversation begins at the dinner table.

Recently, while visiting my home town, I became aware that the person I am now is not the same as the person I was when I left almost five years ago. Back then I cultivated the person I believed others thought I was. Was it me? Eighty-five percent of that person exists today, but the other fifteen percent is enhanced by the distance between me and those I grew up with. The new me is not as structured, though old habits do die hard.

This Blog represents one facet of the other me. Take the opportunity to wander along the lane of discovery with me.