Staying Connected Despite Distances

My daughter gave birth to my first (human) grandchild over 3700 kms or 2300 miles away.  I know, I should be able to use metric measurements by now as Australia converted from imperial in 1974 but not happening Jan. When the media puts out a bulletin warning about an escaped convict who is 164 cms I’m clueless. And when the weather man reports the daily rainfall in mms I still have to convert to the imperial, or if I’m totally honest, get someone to do it for me.

Back to bub who was born in a rural and remote community during the middle of a Pandemic when State borders were closed. As I was unable to visit during those months I did what every self respecting mother would do : posted Red Cross parcels full of treats for the parents-to-be and for our bub, and organised a couple of Zoom birthing hypnotherapy sessions for Pocohontas.

This little family have relocated since then, and we have enjoyed a few catch-ups, but they are still in another part of the country approximately 20 hours driving time away.

So how do I maintain contact and build a bond with the little fella? 

Here are a few of my suggestions. Please feel free to add any of your own recommendations 🙂

  1. FaceTime or Skype

        Harry can’t talk yet, but seeing each others expressions and surroundings can often make you feel like you’ve actually been together. I have no doubt he recognises my face and voice ( saying to his mumma in his head ” who is this woman that wont shut up?”)

2. Send Snail Mail. 

          At the previous abode there was no Postman, but now Harry is excited to greet the Postie on a regular basis. Not only is it fun for him to receive something in the mail, but his mother is using this as training – checking the letterbox is a chore he must do, just like filling the dog’s water bowl- as well as a social activity.

           Harry is too little for letters so I went through a period of sending him a post card each week that featured an Australian animal.

3.   Create a Project.

           I recently purchased a $6 picture book about Dinosaurs which I posted to Harry. He can’t read but he loves the pictures. Each week I have also been bundling up 2 or 3 plastic dinosaurs and putting those in the mail. He has connected the figurines to the book and goes searching for them amongst the pages.

            He had a trip with his Playgroup to the local Museum last week and apparently went wild with the dinosaur statues.

            Next project? I’ll be sending a felt board with a farm scene ( fences, farmer, chook, pigs, horses). Do you remember these back in the day? In the early 60’s I loved school just because of felt board play…….And I’ll be posting farm animals.

       4.    Talking About Things We Can Do Together On The Phone.

               Again, I am not sure what the little fella does or does not understand but he seems to listen when I talk about going on a picnic or cooking pancakes together.

I’m disappearing next week and travelling north. I’ll be armed with dinosaur figurines, a tee shirt featuring a dinosaur, and his mother’s 30 year old Beatrix Potter apron so we can stir bowls whilst cooking without getting into a complete mess. I hope we can go on walks, eat ice creams and pancakes and maybe even plant a few vege seeds together. He’s still a bit young to sit through an Errol Flynn movie but that is on next years Must Do List.

And don’t worry; I do have treats for the grand furbaby too.


See you soon HB.

Mee Maw xxx


Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children” – Alex Haley

When The Movie Is Better and Flynn is Fat

Reading Challenges are funny things. They can make you look at books differently.

For example, last week I watched an old Errol Flynn movie. Nothing unusual about that: Errol is “my guy”. The Roots Of Heaven was released in 1958, a year before Flynn departed this world for the next, and though at 49 years of age he was heavier than when he was wearing Lincoln Green and wielding a sword he was still a good sort in a favourite uncle kind of way. In the movie he played the town drunk though I’m not convinced any acting was involved.

Not a great movie ( about the hunting of elephants for ivory) but I was interested enough to investigate further and discovered that the concept came from a 1956 book written by Romain Gary, which was described as the ” first environmentalist novel“. This led me to locating a copy which I intend to include in the Gaia Reading Challenge. It may take months as it is coming from a library on the other side of the country, and that’s okay – I’ll be reading a book that I never knew existed because I watched a movie I had never previously heard of and a genre I would not normally read all because of a reading challenge.

Talking of books to movies I recently read Rosalie Ham’s debut novel from 2000, The Dressmaker. Described as a Gothic Novel – whatever that means- the story is set in a 1950s fictional Australian country town, Dungatar, and “explores love, hate and haute couture“. In 2015 it became the basis of an Australian movie of the same name starring Kate Winslet and a host of local actors including the prettiest Hemsworth: Liam.

Not straying far from the book the movie is much more fun in an over the top kind of way. All the characters are eccentric including a cross dressing cop (Hugo Weaving) and I found myself laughing out loud with this one. Winslet is even more beautiful than when she survived the sinking of the Titanic twenty plus years ago, and the costumes are just stunning. As a girl who was very comfortable slopping around in pjs for the last three rain sodden days and has no fashion sense whatsoever that is a big call.

Were the critics impressed? Who cares! A fun story line, OTT characters, with a decent dash of secrets, dirt, crime and mayhem. IMDB describes it thus :”Tilly, a beautiful dressmaker, returns to her hometown in Australia to care for her ill mother, Molly. Armed with her sewing machine, she sets out to take revenge on the people who had wronged her.”

Viewing this movie came at the perfect time for me. The L.O.M.L has a hankering for his old home town, a pretty little place on the east coast of Tassie, which is slightly bigger than the mythical Dungatar but with more than its fair share of eccentrics. Quirks are mandatory to be accepted as part of the community. Every time he mentions relocating I remind him of what happened in The Dressmaker……….


Note :

I will do an official review of The Roots Of Heaven, both the book and the movie, once I’ve read the story. Just saying upfront that Juliet Greco was not awarded the role because of her acting abilities or her enunciation of vocabulary.

This Week In Books

A successful weekend having secured some fifty odd books at the local Rotary Club Bookfest (fundraiser). The $2 Mystery Boxes are perfect for the rotation of books through the Little Community Library, and if I manage to get through a handful that’s a bonus. Total expenditure : $4. I’m laughing:)

Many years ago, before I became bogged down with responsibility, I started collecting (in addition to anything Errol Flynn) books that were turned into a movie and visa versa. After a thirty year hiatus I’ve rekindled this interest and was excited to pick up a copy of the novel Run Silent Run Deep by Edward Beach, published in 1953, at the sale. The movie followed in 1958 starring Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster and I look forward to comparing them later in the week. ( Yeah, I also collected war movies – or “warries” as they are colloquially known. Never was one to lose time painting fingernails and curling eyelashes).

Two Book Club meets this week and although I love the social aspect, and especially the decent coffee and cake, both novels had me somewhat “confused”. Maybe it’s still Covid brain and let’s leave it at that.

Interestingly I read an article from the Sydney Morning Herald – my favourite paper on weekends for the obituaries – dated the 18th of May listing the Top 20 Most Borrowed Books during the pandemic based on 34 million loans across more than 100 Libraries throughout Australia and New Zealand.


1 The Survivors 2020 Jane Harper
2 Becoming 2018 Michelle Obama
3 Blue Moon 2019 Lee Child
4 The Good Turn 2020 Dervla McTiernan
5 The Lost Man 2018 Jane Harper
6 When She was Good 2020 Michael Robotham
7 The Scent Keeper 2019 Erica Bauermeister
8 Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Wrecking Ball 2019 Jeff Kinney
9 The 117-Storey Treehouse 2019 Andy Griffiths
10 Fair Warning 2020 Michael Connelly
11 Good Girl Bad Girl 2019 Michael Robotham
12 Vote WeirDo 2020 Anh Do
13 Boy Swallows Universe 2018 Trent Dalton
14 A Room Made of Leaves: A Novel 2020 Kate Grenville
15 Art Time! 2020 Anh Do
16 Nine Perfect Strangers 2018 Liane Moriarty
17 Too Much And Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man 2020 Mary Trump
18 The Weekend (2019) 2019 Charlotte Wood
19 All Our Shimmering Skies 2020 Trent Dalton
20 Weirdomania! 2019 Anh Do

How many of these have you read ? *

It’s Spring here Down Under and its just marvellous. Lots of alfresco dining and Saturday morning markets. And you just know that means more books, don’t you…………

*9

PS. Did I mention that I also won the Bookfest Raffle?

Love Your Bookshop Day

October 9th is Love Your Bookshop Day in Australia. Now I’ve always been a sucker for a decent bookshop, preferably those that double as a Cafe. The quintessential aphrodisiac -books and good coffee.

Bookshops have been my lifeline throughout the pandemic. And we’re talking the small business in a local shopping centre where you still get personal service, that has storytelling sessions for the Little People during school holidays, that promotes local authors, runs a book club, donates a prize for the school fundraiser and might even hold the occasional Harry Potter Wizard Party.

So find yourself a local bookshop. Mine also has a craft club, gardening club and is committed to community. Picked up three copies of this little gem during the week (from Little Gnome @ Wynnum).

Preloved books continue to figure highly and I picked this beauty up for $1. Not only does it trace a young man’s efforts to locate a lost uncle during WW2 but the social commentary is fascinating.

Favourite read for September was After Story by Larissa Behrendt , a young indigenous writer. A daughter (lawyer) with a literary bent takes her First Nations mother on a tour of sites in the writings of famous English authors. European literature meets the power of First Nations oral storytelling.

Read a couple of absolute shockers and I’m a bit concerned about attending my next bookclub meeting. Is it acceptable to simply say that a book “sucked”?

Little Harry is getting a book for his 1st birthday as well as his next Errol Flynn DVD : The Sea Hawk.

October also means another Book Fest so of course I’m busily saving up my gold coins.

Yep, love your bookshop and remember “that the secret to a well-balanced life is a cuppa in one hand and a good book in the other.”

Longreach – Lonely or Otherwise

With house guests and travels my recent reading history is abysmal.

Lonely In Longreach” by Australian author, Eva Scott, is chick lit that I picked up after having spent a few days in Longreach, 1000 kms north west of Brisbane.

I wont bore you with more holiday snaps though Longreach is home to some really big hitters in the tourist department. The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, which opened in 1988, showcases the history and the culture of life in rural Australia. It is nothing short of spectacular : informative, user friendly, and totally fascinating.

Sitting in the outside arena watching a drover working his horses in the daily show reminded me of Errol Flynn in the 1950 movie Montana. (Yeah, I wonder about the things that go around in my head too.)

The Qantas Founders Museum is another Must Do as is the Sunset Cruise on the Thomson River.

All of these venues are mentioned in the book “Lonely In Longreach”. Which in turn had me thinking of another movie : Sleepless In Seattle. Same premise – kid worries his widowed Dad is lonely so fixes him up by signing him up to a Dating App and arranges for his choice of stepmother to fly in from the Big Smoke to give a career chat at the local high school. We all know how the story ends, don’t we?

Then I had to read “Everything Is Beautiful” by Eleanor Ray for Book Club.

Amy is a loner who suffered major heartbreak a decade ago and deals with it by collecting bits and pieces. Read: she is a hoarder with a house full of junk.

Readers were meant to be sympathetic to Amy’s situation though consensus amongst this group of readers was that Amy needed to “have a teaspoon of concrete and harden up”. Not the outcome the author was looking for, I would suggest , and I wondered if this was the Australian readers’ take as opposed to the English ( which is Ray’s ethnicity). Okay, agreed, the answer could be that my Book Club is full of neanderthals……..

Thank goodness for the coming Pop Up Book Sale fundraiser on the weekend.

NOTE:

Coming out of a three day Lockdown which had me housekeeping like crazy. I’ve deleted 350 “Followers” from Word Press. My apologies but at this stage of the game I am not in any need of nutritional or financial advice, information about cryptocurrency nor the stockmarket, and nor do I require the services of a pretty Asian lass. Don’t even start me on Life Coaches…….

Some Devastating News

I’ve returned home from a five day road trip to a deceased fridge/freezer and a leak in the roof. That’s okay – both are solvable. I rushed out and bought a new fridge the next day. Nothing like buying a new frock or paying for a trip but thats neither here nor there. The ceiling repairs? Tradies during Covid are an interesting animal but that’s just another hurdle. No probs. I can deal with it.

The devastating news is something that cuts me to the quick. The emotional pain is real.

My special cake of soap, the one etched with a photo of Errol Flynn, has faded to such an extent that I can no longer glimpse that glorious visage.

It was a gift from my daughter, Pocahontas, 15 years ago. She handed it to me and said “this is your opportunity to get naked with Flynn” (in the shower)……which was a bit creepy as she was a teenager at the time.

Yep, fridges and ceilings are fixable. Errol Flynn soap is not.


Another Xmas Read : Golah Sing

Christmas is done and dusted and Boxing Day was just a blur with six loads of washing and a mammoth effort sucking prawn shells up off the floor with the vacuum cleaner. It’s eerily quiet without a baby in the house though I still tend to wake up at 2 am to check if he’s still breathing. Baby’s mother is 34 today. That about indicates the length of time between nappies and projectile vomiting in my home.

My other Christmas read has been an anthology of award-winning short stories submitted to the Stringybark Times Past Writing Competition where writers were asked to take a particular historical incident and weave a story around it. What’s not to enjoy? Australian historical fiction in short bursts which I could manage between food prep, fridge maintenance, and entertaining an 11 week old with healthy lungs. (It’s been a long time between screaming too.)

Perhaps the reason behind my enjoyment of these short stories is that several have piqued my interest enough to research further. There is a 1500 word story about WW2 Nurse Vivian Bullwinkel who survived the sinking of the SS Vyner Brooke by the Japanese and was only one of three (including two soldiers) who survived the Bangka Island Massacre. Fascinating reading.

Another covers a train crash in Victoria which I’de never heard of and Torres Strait At War introduces readers to a battalion formed during WW2 of up to 800 men, infantry and pioneers, from inhabitants of all the Torres Strait Islands and their subsequent treatment by the Government.

Golah Sing is great reading. Just wish retirement actually allowed for more research time.

Santa was particularly thoughtful this year with a face mask for the Pandemic with an Errol Flynn theme. Now ain’t that the way to a girls heart…..

Bub’s Books For Xmas

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” — Albert Einstein

My daughter, Pocohontas, has already read six week old Harry Kilometres this years Booker Prize Winner. So of course I have been having great fun at local bookstores finding more appropriate literature for the child for Christmas.

This is Harry’s major Christmas parcel from his Meemaw:

I’m a firm believer that you cannot begin your Classic Movie education too early.

Aunt Cat Balou is gifting a copy of the movie Calamity Jane and a book about Audrey Hepburn. (Have I done well with my kids, or what!)

“You don’t have enough money to be considered eccentric. You’re just weird.” – my friend, Bernadette Mercer.

This one’s going into the babe’s Christmas stocking :

Harry’s Dad, a military boyo, has also been reading to young Harry : books on international conflict and aviation strategy.

And they think I’m weird…………..

NOTE :

Discovered a great website which encourages young girls to follow their interest in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths. Go to http://www.amightygirl.com

For fairy tales starring clever and courageous girls, you can find over 180 girl-empowering books of fairy tales in A Mighty Girl’s “Fairy Tale Collection” at https://www.amightygirl.com/books/fiction/fairy-tales-folktales

If you’re looking for princess stories that break the ‘damsel in distress’ mold, A Mighty Girl’s “Ultimate Guide to the Independent Princess” collection features 100 books starring princesses who are smart, daring, and aren’t waiting around to be rescued at https://www.amightygirl.com/mighty-girl-picks/independent-princess

I’ll share these purchases soon with no guilt. Helping both the economy and the sisterhood.

Harrisville and Conniptions

It has been my experience that those little country towns that are nothing more than a small dot on the map are often the most interesting.

Harrisville is a quaint country town only an hours drive west of Brisbane making it on the outskirts of Ipswich. Never heard of it, had you? It was named after the Harris brothers, John (1819–1895) and George (1831–1891), who established a store and cotton ginnery in the area at the time when the American Civil War had created a worldwide shortage of cotton.

There are numerous Heritage sites within Harrisville including:

13 Church Street: Courthouse and Police Lock-up
5 Hall Street: School of Arts
16 Hall Street: Masonic Hall
34 Queen Street: Commercial Hotel
35 Queen Street: Former Royal Bank
43–47 Queen Street: Memorial Park
54–58 Queen Street: Sacred Heart Catholic Church
1–5 Wholey Drive: Royal Hotel

Harrisville is flat which makes it ideal for exploration by walking. Allow a couple of hours to investigate as there are places for refreshments and retail outlets, including an Art Gallery and Lead Light Workshops, that will pique your interest.

So what was it in rural Harrisville that saw me have conniptions at high noon in the main street?

C’mon. I have refrained from mentioning the love of my life, Errol Flynn, for months. Is it any wonder that a girl suffered a major nervy turn, requiring far more than a G&T, when I found this?

Those small dots on maps – love them!

Captain Fabian : The Ugliest Errol Flynn Of All

Stay At Home orders have meant the consumption of lots of books and movies; the good, the bad and the ugly. This post may surprise you as it pertains to an Errol Flynn movie which I can only describe as the Ugliest Of All Time. You never thought you’de hear that from me, did you?

The Adventures Of Captain Fabian was released in 1951, during which time I suggest rigor mortis had started to set in.

Flynn plays a sea captain (Fabian) whose late father has been defrauded by a wealthy New Orleans family. Upon his return to New Orleans he becomes embroiled in a court case as a matter of revenge in which the Creole servant girl of said wealthy family is up for murder. She too is after revenge and what follows is illogical claptrap

Micheline Presle plays the servant girl. Beautiful looking lass but talk about a whiney, bitchy, evil mess. Definate bi polar. Let’s just say it isn’t her brains that attract Captain Fabian…… (She’s still alive at 98 years so lets leave it at that).

Oh, and she was married to the Director William Marshall at the time.

Flynn is credited with the adaptation of the screenplay. Oh, Errol mate, why would you put your name to that rubbish? What an appalling piece of drivel that makes little sense. Old Errol’s brain was on holidays in this one.

Vincent Price was the wealthy, fraudulent character. Playing a weakling with a murderous streak (literally), his performance must have rated as I was itching to hit him over the head with a cricket bat. That’s a good thing, right?

Back to my boy Flynn. *Still shaking my head in horror.

First of all there’s a bath scene. Flynn stands up and is wrapped in a towel. Looking at him at 42 years of age I likened it to an old man getting a sponge bath at the local nursing home. Sadly, it is an image that I will carry with me forever, though I have to question who was responsible for this exploitation. Shades of elder abuse….

Flynn’s performance lacks energy and indeed cracking a smile even seems beyond him. The youthful spring-in-his-step has gone and I wanted to recommend an orthopaedic surgeon.

At the conclusion of the movie, Fabian’s ship has been blown up and he is a criminal on the run, Vincent Price has been murdered, and the whiney but beautiful Creole dies with “Fabian” “Fabian” “Fabian” on repeat. At least ten times, still lisping to the very end. If that flag pole hadn’t killed her I would have……..

Then the piece de resistance : Fabian goes to pick up the body of the whiney one. Errol’s knees are buggered and it is so very obvious that his stunt double has to do the heavy lifting for him. Doesn’t even look like Flynn from the back except he’s got two arms, legs and black hair.

Or maybe Flynn finally regained his senses and just wanted to escape the whining one despite her ample….err….charms.

Interestingly, Errol made several movies when he was older and even more rugged around the edges such as Against All Flags and The Master Of Ballantrae, which still showed the remnants of his vigour and charm and are worth watching.

Captain Fabian can walk the plank for all I care. Absolute rubbish.

Will I go to Hell for this?