#mynewyearstartedon13/01

This is the date that I was able to decontaminate and defluff the house after three weeks with the Grandfurbaby. Bentley, a gorgeous Labrador who suffers sorely from Only Child Syndrome and is profoundly deaf, has now travelled north to the land of crocs, dingoes and jabiru. That will test him…….and them.

My hostess skills were pretty minimal over these past few weeks. Cheese and charcuterie boards were the order of the day though I did throw fresh Tiger prawns on the barbie. Lots of garlic and a dousing of white wine – a damn fine effort, girlfriend.

So now I’m focussing more on where my year is heading, other than knitting sox from dog hair.

In the latter part of last year one of our cinema chains focussed on movies from Hollywoods Golden Era at selected locations across the country. This is being repeated commencing from February with sessions running first thing on a Monday morning. Yeah, first thing Monday is a bit hard to grasp, but I settled into it and found it a good way to start a new week. Do retirees even start a new week? 

Movies scheduled include Night Of The Hunter, Mr Smith Goes To Washington, On The Town and Casablanca. On the big screen people. And the more sessions you buy the cheaper the ticket price. 

Last Classic movie I experienced in this fashion there were only three of us in the cinema. This is not a good crowd if you’re after anonymity when you sob.

My Mondays are pencilled in : breakfast, coffee and an old flick.

Let’s take a look at Tuesdays…..

( Refer Event Cinemas)

Stringybark & Short Stories

Stringybark Publishing is an Australian bespoke publishing house in operation since 2010. No, I am not sleeping with anyone within management, nor do I have any monetary affiliations within the organisation.

To be honest, it was only within the last twelve months and my retirement that I took any interest in short stories which is the area in which Stringybark Publishing specialises. Someone once said “A short story is the ideal place for a first meeting, a bit like making the first date for coffee rather than a meal.”

Stringybark Stories encourages Australian and international writers to create and share stories by running regular short story writing competitions throughout each year with a variety of themes. And no, this is not my area of expertise though my appreciation of tales with a decidedly Australian flavour has certainly been fuelled by my recent visits to country townships and a better understanding and appreciation of our unique history. See here for further details: https://www.stringybarkstories.net/index.html

Up until the end of February Stringybark Stories have on offer a choice of two Summer Reading Bushfire Packs containing six different anthologies of short stories written as part of past writing competitions. These cost $29.95 each and include postage within Australia.

ALL PROFITS from these sales will be donated in equal amounts to WIRES Wildlife Information and Rescue Service to assist with the immediate needs of Australian wildlife and Bush Heritage Australia (https://www.bushheritage.org.au/ ) to help protect biodiversity into the future.

I’m not a rampant consumer ( unless the product involves Errol Flynn) and I don’t participate in online shopping ( unless the product involves Errol Flynn). But, WOW!

* Bushfire Update: As a nation we do adversity really well. We rally, support and assist each other. We thrive in times of major dramas. It’s what we do best. We also proportion blame, bitch like six year old girls in the school yard, and carry on like chooks with our heads cut off. Move on kiddies. Pull up those Big Girl Panties and keep moving forward regardless of your politics. “ It will be okay in the end, otherwise it’s not the end.”

** New Participants in competitions most welcome.

And if you have an interest in writing competitions, WOW again.

NY, Errol and Bushfires

Just over twelve months ago my first task upon retirement was to head to the New South Wales South Coast, my old stomping ground and source of many wonderful memories.

It was an opportunity to revisit this part of the world as well as reconnect with two beautiful lasses who played a major role in my life some forty five years beforehand.

Highway along South Coast

The beautiful south coast has been under siege for days. New Years Eve saw the residents and holidaymakers of one coastal township flee to the beach for safety from the raging bushfires. The battle continues with the navy enlisted to relocate people to safer shores.

My South Coast

So frightening, so compelling, so awful. I had to switch off the tele for some respite from the news.

Thinking of one of those childhood friends I put the same Errol Flynn DVD that we watched together just twelve months earlier. * Errol, chocolate, and pink champagne – what a way to spend a day together.

Again. Again.

This beautiful friend still has no power connected and sleeps on the couch watching for embers. Two houses in her street were lost to the fires and despite a call to evacuate this brave, headstrong woman chose to stay and defend. Vision impaired and a widow. No snowflake this lass.

My other friend still has no power. Food and fuel are low, but positivity and kindness are abundant. She can’t get out of her pocket of the world as the highway could be closed for weeks.

Another heatwave looms this weekend. My thoughts are with those doing it tough, and the firies and emergency service personnel who have been kept on their toes for weeks. To my two gal pals, to a blogger friend with the chocolate labs, and to all those affected……….no words. Just hang in there……..

*I also wanted to share a traumatic scene involving crabs with my daughter which to this day frightens the bejesus out of me and caused lifelong scars. I’m pretty fearless, except for seaweed which is where octopi and crabs lurk. Blame Against All Flags and Reap The Wild Wind and a lack of parental guidance.

But the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and my adrenaline loving child was only interested in recipes utilising crab meat. My neurosis was quickly sideswiped. And yes, my Thai Crab Balls were a success.

Child minding.

Bushfires and Birthdays

Lugarno, 1963

My daughter has an awkward birthday in a few days. Each year she admonishes me because she has never had a dedicated birthday party. I retaliate with a reminder about the Christmas I was unable to drink anything cold and bubbly and suffered much discomfort.

Instead of a gift each birthday my daughter enjoyed an “experience” each year with a gold charm for a bracelet as a reminder of her special day. Boat trips up the river, trips to the theatre or to the aquarium: her charm bracelet, a gift for her 18th, is a beautiful piece of jewellery and memorabilia.

I’m reminded of this watching the bushfire news on the television. Cudlee Creek in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia has been ravaged by flames.

Pocohontas celebrated her sixth birthday at Cudlee Creek Wildlife Park. She remembers vividly that an emu stole her picnic lunch and she’s suffered ornithophobia ever since.

The fires remain out of control across several states.

I haven’t sent Xmas cards this year, and I haven’t written any letters, which as the product of parents who stored much importance in penmanship hurts. It doesn’t seem appropriate to send fun news to family and friends caught up in the fires.

A girlfriend doesn’t look like getting home to her loved ones for Christmas. Another had flames in her suburb yesterday where two homes were lost. A cousin in the Blue Mountains remains vigilant. It doesn’t feel like Christmas. It is smokey, hot and the mood is sombre.

And then this. Totally uplifting. These guys were rescued from the Cudlee Creek blaze by members of our Rural Fire Service. Makes the heart sing.

Figures obtained by AAP revealed police had dealt with 98 people – 31 adults and 67 juveniles – for deliberately setting fires in Queensland alone.

Don’t give me “mental health” or “broken home” BS. This is simply criminal.

See you in a few days my beautiful girl. There is a bottle on ice with your name on it.

Here’s to a better days for all…..

Swansea, Tasmania.

Swansea is located on the east coast of Tasmania roughly an hour and a half easy drive from the capital, Hobart.

In summer Swansea’s beautiful waterways make it a tourist hub for beach lovers and fishos. However, it should be noted that beaches and beach lovers in Tasmania differ vastly from those on the mainland where we tend to go bronze in the sun despite thirty years of lectures about slip, slop, slapping. In the winter it closes up shop – literally. Many of the restaurants close throughout these months because of the reduced through traffic though personally winter in Tassie is when I love her best. Its the sitting in front of a log fire with a pot of tea or plonk which I really enjoy or being able to walk for three hours without your makeup sliding off your face and dripping like a used dish rag ( * as you do in Queensland in summer).

Swansea sits on Oyster Bay. The land was developed for seasonal crops and grazing stock and a tannery and flour mill were established by the Meredith River. Whaling stations were also set up on nearby islands to enable the export of whale oil. There’s a fishing fleet only thirty minutes away where the popular produce is Scallops. Nothing beats a feed of fresh scallops I tell you…..

Swansea is home to Mutton Birds and Fairy Penguins. (Note to PC Police : They have always been Fairy Penguins and will always be Fairy Penguins, and NOT Little Penguins. Bite Me.) There are also Wombats, Wallabies, Tasmanian Devils and Echidnas. Friends tell me that seals are known to wash up on farmland.

Devil

The population these days is less than 1000 and that number includes working dogs.

When visiting Swansea I tend to enjoy the coastal walks after which I reward myself with a coffee at the Bark Mill Bakery ( where black wattle bark was once processed), or Devonshire Tea at the local Cafe/ Art Gallery which also exhibits works by local artisans. Only minutes away is an acclaimed Strawberry Farm and a cool weather Winery.

If you are looking to go nightclubbing give Swansea a miss. She’s an old fashioned township with an old fashioned vibe. Even the General Store, Morris’, has been run by the Morris family for over 100 years. But don’t just drive through Swansea either. Stop for a few days and be prepared to respond to the local’s “Good’ay, how ya going.” Tourists stick out like sore thumbs: they’re the ones without beards.

* It was snowing on Mount Wellington, the back drop of Hobart only two days ago. I have not turned the ceiling fans off in a week.

For more tourist information go here :https://www.discovertasmania.com.au/about/regions-of-tasmania/east-coast/swansea

Poetry And Another Festival.

Because when I read, I don’t really read… I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop, or I sip it like a liqueur until the thought dissolves in me like alcohol, infusing brain and heart and coursing on through the veins to the root of each blood vessel.” Bohumil Hrabal

Just because I haven’t shared many books recently doesn’t mean I’m not reading. As always my life is surrounded by books, many in boxes ready for the continuation of their journey to a charity shop, to the Little Community Library, or to the next Literacy fundraiser. I put my hand up to volunteer one morning a week at the local aged advocacy organisation and without knowing anything about me they’ve asked if I’de take on their library. Bizarre…..

Books continue to pile up by my bedside. With the pointy end of the year closing in the size is not decreasing. There have been too many distractions to read anything of any substance.

Such as a Poetry Workshop. Yep, poetry, as foreign to me as an ironing board or knitting needles.

Although it was an interesting afternoon and the facilitator was fascinating poetry is just not my thing.

I blame the education curriculum of the 1970’s. Why would you waste three months talking about the love sonnets of John Donne to 14 year olds? At that age it was all about Farrah Fawcett hairdos and fur mini skirts.

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that as kiddies in Primary School we can all draw, all sing and all enjoy The Owl and the Pussy Cat, but once we reach High School we are labelled either good or bad at something.

One positive did come from the Poetry Workshop:

Now looking forward to attending The Oracles of The Bush Festival, an annual event which celebrates Australian Bush poetry, music and literature. Diarised for 2-5 April, 2020 in Tenterfield, northern New South Wales. This is another opportunity to learn something about my own country, and maybe spend a few coins giving our country folk doing it tough a bit of a hand.

This property was where the wedding reception for Australian bush poet Banjo Paterson and Tenterfield lass, Alice Walker, was held.

For more information go to:

http://www.tenterfieldtourism.com.au/events-details.php?eid=14

Oh, and if anyone is interested in completing my poetry homework that would be very helpful, thank you.

The Charge of Beersheba Vs Halloween

Watched the 1987 Australian movie The Lighthorsemen last night. October 31st is the anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba, a part of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in World War 1.

It’s become a family tradition – a bit like viewing Die Hard just before Christmas.

Funnily enough, I saw the movie through different eyes this time. Not sure whether to put that down to retirement and being more relaxed or just getting older. ( Rhetorical only – no comments required).

I can confirm, following my recent visit to the Summer Land Camel Farm
( where I had conniptions after discovering Errol Flynn had slept at the property when it was owned by Charles Chauvel, nephew of Sir Henry), that camels did get a nod in the movie. It was only a two second scene, but there they were representing the Imperial Camel Corp. No embarrassment whatsoever jumping out of my seat at the time and doing a little jiggle with excitement.

All the young actors were my age when they made the movie and at their prime. Well, all except Peter Phelps who is obviously a late bloomer. Gary Sweet, who played Frank, had hair for goodness sake! John Walton (Tas) was the dreamboat who played Doctor Rothwell in the soapie, The Young Doctors. Dead now. And Sonny Blake, who played Irishman Scotty Bolton and was damn impressive sans shirt, and was left paralysed after a car accident on the way home from filming, is another we recently lost.

Beautiful Sigrid Thornton was our girl before Our Nic with her big brown eyes and pursed lips. Did you happen to watch the series of Seachange twenty years on earlier this year? Might have needed to top up her superannuation.

I have no recollection of Halloween as a child. Not sure when it actually became a thing. Or why.

A girlfriend with week on, week off custody arrangement of her daughter tells me that said child is trick and treating with her father on the night and that she will hold a Halloween party over the weekend. Halloween Parties ??????

Must be me. I don’t comprehend how it‘s law that kiddies under 12 years of age are not allowed to walk to school unsupervised, or that schools can dictate what a kid can or cannot have in his lunch box, though door knocking for sweets is okay.

I hope all those on the other side of my world enjoy their fun. And the flesh of all those pumpkins.

Personally, I’m all for this idea of wrapping up brussel sprouts in chocolate wrappers.