May Update and Forever Shoeless Joe ❤️

May proved an unpleasant conclusion to Autumn with another “weather event ” along the east coast causing more property damage and loss of life. Anyway, it’s been raining cats and dogs and though no damage I can’t walk in my back garden without flippers. Literally. 

This means that way too much of May has been spent sitting on my tail. I confess to a dose of cabin fever and an overdose of caffeine hearing the news out of Uvalde followed by the unexpected passing of Ray Liotta. Forever Shoeless Joe. ❤️ 

Liotta in Field Of Dreams. What a ghost!

Read two books from The Books That Made Us List including Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet. Still not a big fan; some brutal editing may have endeared me.

Next month’s Bookclub read is Chasing The McCubbin by Sandi Scaunich which I devoured in one sitting, totally amazed that an author could write 60,000 plus words about garage sales. Yep, garage sales. Frederick McCubbin was an early Australian impressionist painter and it is an urban myth that stored in someone’s garage in suburban Australia is a McCubbin just waiting to be discovered and sold for absolute megabucks.

McCubbin’s Down On His Luck

The best read for May – and probably the year – was Infidel, My Life by Ahyaan Hirsi Ali, for the Around The World Reading Challenge. Born in Somalia Ali also lived in Ethiopia, Kenya and Saudi Arabia as a child experiencing political upheaval, war, starvation and the degradation of women in muslim communities. She is now a political activist living in the USA.

Infidel, My Life is one powerful read and what she shares about female genital mutilation will have you absolutely squirming and fuming!  For a list of her Awards go here : 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayaan_Hirsi_Ali.     Legend.

Watched way too many DVDs but Movie of the Month goes to The Proposition, a 2005 Australian flick filmed in Winton, far west Queensland, which I visited last year in between Lockdowns and this country’s first Dark Sky Sanctuary. Worth watching for the scenery alone it is an Aussie version of a Western. Intense, brutal, harsh, gritty – kinda John Wayne on Methamphetamines – and I had to close my eyes a couple of times.

The Dark Skies view in the movie from a similar position is outstanding.

Also attended Opening night of a local community theatrical production and celebrated my birthday in the swankiest restaurant at the Casino in Townsville escorted by the Love Of My Life. Pity he’s 19 months old.

No projects completed which is distressing and blaming lethargy caused by the constant rain. Starting the new month whipping up a batch of Tangelo Marmalade so, June, watch out. These little legs are on the move…..

The fridge contains several chilled Sav Blancs which I’ll be downing with Mr Liotta, who will be Forever Shoeless Joe ❤️


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.

Diaries…….

There was a delightful article in a recent Australian Weekend Magazine stating that over 50,000 items had been donated to the Australian War Memorial over the last two years. Covid cleanouts have unearthed long-lost wartime relics from all across the country.

One 80 year old gentleman stumbled upon letters from his Flying Officer father to his mother, to whom he wrote nearly every day. The gentleman hasn’t read the letters stating that they “are too close to him, too personal”, and has them neatly boxed until his death.

This resonated as I recently came across information that my own father’s war diary was held by the Australian War Memorial.

Who? What? Where? See here:
https://wordpress.com/post/brizzymaysbooksandbruschettasite.wordpress.com/6579

Cat Balou (AKA Columbo), my super sleuth youngest daughter, has discovered that my father’s diary formed part of an Estate that was recently donated to the AWM. It appears that at wars end my father gave his diary to the family of a good mate killed over the skies of Germany. With the passing of a generation the family then donated the diary on to the AWM. Apparently, this is not an uncommon practise.

It is “too close……too personal” for me to read but young Columbo has a two hour appointment for viewing next week.

Plus Book Of The Month for January:

I’ve been chasing this one for yonks : the diary of Betty Jeffrey who alongside 64 other Australian Army Nurses was evacuated from Singapore, and who went down with the Vyner Brook, which had been bombed by the Japanese.

The women made it to safety at Banka Island where they were captured and held captive in various camps across Sumatra. They formed an orchestral choir in an attempt to beat boredom with their story becoming the basis of one of my favourite movies, Paradise Road.

These women suffered woefully over the three year period of captivity with only 24 surviving the ordeal. Despite being a “difficult” read at times these women were courageous, resilient and simply magnificent human beings. I tell you, it has certainly stopped my whinging any further about any self imposed isolation!

NOTE:

Betty received the Order of Australia for services to ex-servicemen and women in 1987.

Ah, the serenity………

0nce again the house is still. The vacuum cleaner is full of dog fur and I suspect a couple of Scrabble tiles. There are still 12 blocks of various cheeses, olives and a carton of Cab Sav in the fridge so I have no need to cook till February nor visit a supermarket. I did nine loads of washing yesterday which only confirmed that putting the ironing board out in a garage sale twenty years ago was the right decision. The silence is golden.

In between three weeks of playing Mummy Dearest – but not in a Joan Crawford kind of way – I did squeeze in a little binge watching, sashaying around the kitchen with Yul Brynner as the King of Siam and crawling through air conditioning ducts with Bruce Willis in the greatest Christmas movie ever made in movies 1,2,3,4 and 5 (watching the receding hairline with glee).

Young Cat Balou gifted me with a DVD of the television mini series Feud : Bette and Joan, as in Davis and Crawford, and based on the making of the movie “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane”. Starring Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange respectively I adored this muck in all its depressing detail about the treatment of women particularly by the Hollywood machine during the so-called Golden Years. My viewing partner found the bitchiness between these two “stars” too brutal to watch and scampered after Part 4 which was okay as it meant sharing the Toblerone (and plonk) was no longer required for the final 4 parts. Besides, if I’m invested allow me to view in peace. Does that work for you too?

My favourite viewing was an obscure little Australian flick (1998) which I am adding to my list of favourite Xmas movies, right up there with Die Hard, and Joyeux Noel. It made such a little ripple upon its release that I’m giving you all 12 months to locate a copy for December 2022.

Crackers is a Christmas movie that will resonate with many as it includes much of our Aussie culture including dog poop, a pub brawl, weed in the mince pies, and grandpa, an old Rat Of Tobruk, who hits the turps and is an ex con. The aesthetics are straight from Christmas’s past: the wooden spoon and fork hanging on the wall, the painted tyres turned into swan planters on the front lawn, the aboveground swimming pool. It’s every bit as chaotic as Christmas always tends to be, yet amongst all the dysfunction it’s about a family who cares about each other.

The only actor I recognised was a younger, trimmer Peter Rowsthorn, 15 years before he played Kim’s doormat husband in Kath And Kim.

Before we move away from the movie theme did you know that LEGO are considering a kit for the house from It’s A Wonderful Life? I want three.

Ah, the serenity.

It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas…

So, to borrow a phrase, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….The days are long and hot, cicadas chirp throughout the evening, and the kookaburras and magpies start their birdsong from 3.30am onwards. Oh, and the grass needs cutting on a weekly basis. It’s exhausting I tell you.

Ronan Keating’s version…..

Refusing to go anywhere near a shopping centre and the humidity is preventing any reading of real worth. This means resorting to DVD’s because I just cannot view anymore tragedy on the telly. Thank goodness for the local Op Shop which also serves coffee and Hummingbird Cake for $8.

This week I found a copy of all time favourite, Valiant, a delightful computer generated epic set during World War 2, and covering the exploits of carrier pigeons. With its references to the White Cliffs of Dover, Andrews Sisters, the Dambuster theme song, and a cute white mouse working with the Resistance called Charles De Girl it goes way over children’s heads.

The movie ends with Valiant and his fellow members from Squad F being awarded the Dickin Medal with a message then displayed commending all the animals that in real life saved thousands of lives during World War II.

Forty five minutes of pure pleasure. Chew on that, Spiderman.


I did venture to the dark side, also known as having crossed the Brisbane River in a northerly direction, to enjoy carols performed by the Brisbane Army Band. Brilliant and a great wake up call to get into the mood.

This weekend a friend has volunteered to play guinea pig as I attempt fellow blogger’s ( Valerie AKA Muriopsis) Sweet Potato Casserole recipe as well as a tropical Coconut and Lychee Granita.

If all else fails I have this to fall back on. $5. Bargain.

November In Books

Not a satisfying month for books. Could be my brain fuzz having to spend days dealing with a major roof leak, tradies and the insurance company.

Finished Nicole Moriarty’s You Need To Know, Small Acts Of Defiance by Michelle Wright and The J M Barrie’s Ladies Swimming Club by Barbara Zwitser. Anything else is a blurr.

Off to the local Library to listen to Heather Morris on Friday, author of The Tattooist Of Auschwitz, so hope I can get the head into gear by then.

With all the rain I’ve been enjoying the garden and preparing seedlings to put in the Little Community Library for Christmas. Pumpkin seedlings mainly : my small attempt to eradicate hideous plastic pumpkins imported from China for next November.

I’ve also rescued and groomed some bears in need of adoption for the Community Library. Recycling and Sustainability, one step at a time……


This weeks movie watch was The Magic Pudding, an animated version of Norman Lindsay’s 1918 Children’s Classic. Albert, the Magic Pudding, and Bunyip Bluegum the koala, are characters much loved by those of a certain vintage, right up there with the Seven Little Australians.


The movie, released in 2000, featured the voices of Sam Neill, John Cleese, Jack Thompson, Hugo Weaving, and Toni Collette. Top shelf. It didn’t sit well with me for numerous reasons, particularly the ocker accents, and I think the humour will be lost on the Little Person. I’ll stick to a long time favourite for baby sitting purposes : Cujo, the rabid Saint Bernard.

.

John Rambo and 007.

It’s been a humid weekend best spent in air conditioning watching DVDs. Yes, I’m old school – no Netflix, Stan, Foxtel or streaming. One of the saddest events of modern history is the passing of the movie rental store. Thank God for my local Op Shop where I can acquire a movie fo 50 cents which can either be retained or returned after watching!

Feeling the need for a girlie flick I sat through the Rambo trilogy starting with First Blood. Odd, I know. Blame Sylvester Stallone’s hair that I fantasise cutting each and every time. As usual, participated in screaming at the tele egging John on through out proceedings.

I think I must be the only Aussie not to have seen the new James Bond movie. The local Movie Club recently attended the cinema but I declined. I’ve declined all their invitations to the flicks.

You see, when I’m watching the screen the last thing I want to do when the lights turn on is have someone talk at me. ” Well, what did you think?”

Leave me alone. Please.

I’m happier taking the whole experience in, rather like a boiled lolly – preferably one of those black and white striped aniseed flavoured ones – when you let it roll around your mouth, slowly releasing the different flavours. Nothing analytical about the process at all – just allowing thoughts to percolate. Know what I mean?

Same with travel.

I detest being with a group of people who arrive at a new destination and who insist on discussing their feelings about said site. The ooohs and the arghhhhs add nothing to the experience. I remember first stepping into Florence, Italy, and just standing completely still, watching, breathing, taking it all in. One of my fellow travellers wanted to discuss. I wanted to thump him. Thank goodness for those twenty odd years of parenting skills including the ability to tune out or it may have become ugly.

Daniel Craig will eventually end up at the Op Shop and as I’m told I need to be aware of the back story will rewatch his previous efforts over coming weeks. Homework: who would have guessed.

Rambo requires attention first. There’s more movies in the series to locate. Fingers crossed he can finally afford a decent hair cut.

Tomato Update and Weekend Plans

Spring in South East Queensland lasted for all of a fortnight and then we pounced straight into Summer, evening storms and all.

The tomato plants have revelled in the heat and humidity and I have no doubt that the bandicoots that frolic in the vege bed at night will also be prone to acidic disorders from over indulging. The freezer is full of pasta sauce, a little heavy on the chilli and garlic apparently, and I’m now moving on to tomato chutney production. Not that I eat chutney but I can’t handle food waste. Blame the Depression parents who wouldn’t let us kids leave the table until the plates were clean.

The good news is that I will pull the remaining plants out on the weekend (before sunrise). The bad news is that means no tomatoes for summer salads and I’ll probably have to sell a kidney to afford them for Christmas Lunch.

Talking of waste, Australia has collectively moved away from single use plastics recently. Well done! So please explain somebody, anybody, why the shops are all full of plastic pumpkins. Crappy, cheap plastic pumpkins from China.
1. Why is Halloween becoming such a big deal in Australia?
2. Why is it that freight from China has been delayed since Covid but plastic pumpkins arrive in time for the end of October?
3. If children under 12 are not allowed to walk to school without parental supervision why are they allowed to go trick or treating? I’m not even going to mention the legalities of nazi teachers checking the contents of lunchboxes. I’m too old to open that Pandora’s Box.
4. If we really must instigate this Halloween business, how about next year we all plant some pumpkin seeds and harness our own food source?

So, you’ve figured that I don’t give a rats. Instead, and weather permitting, I plan on a much more appropriate celebration. Yep, a reenactment of the charge at Beersheba at the Laidley Pioneer Village. Entry is by donation.

Never heard of Beersheba?

On 31 October 1917, during World War 1, Australia’s Desert Mounted Corps led the famous charge of Beersheba by the 4th Light Horse Brigade, probably one of the most stunning victories in any battle or war in Australian history. This charge saw 800 Australian horsemen gallop their horses across three miles of open desert, through the Turkish defences, to win the precious wells of Beersheba.
 
The victory by the Australian horsemen, under the command of Lieutenant General Harry Chauvel against the Turks, was the beginning of a successful Australian campaign that led to the collapse of the Turkish Ottoman empire and turned the tide of war in the Middle East.

And I wont be watching anything starring Jamie Lee Curtis either. It’s the 1980’s Australian flick, The Lighthorsemen, or nothing. Forget the insipid romance between a young Sigrid Thornton and Peter Phelps before he got paunchy, it is a beaut little story and a reminder of old fashioned Aussie larrikins.

It would be totally hypocritical of me to wish you all Happy Halloween though I do hope you all play safely and that there are no chipped teeth from all those boiled lollies. I’ll be at Laidley – yee haa.

ADD TO 2022 TO DO LIST :
Instigate a community pumpkin growing plan and eradicate all plastic pumpkins.

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?

Spring and Gratitude

We are almost one month into Spring and I am loving all the colour in gardens and bushland, the sound of birdcall as the fledglings prepare to leave their nests, and the baby possums clinging to their mothers’ backs when they visit early each evening for sliced fruit. The wallabies have joeys in their pouches and my tomato plants are bearing enough fruit for weekly charcuterie boards, bruschetta and to be thrown whole into pasta dishes. Tomatoes go so well with a chilled chardonnay, don’t you find?

A new friend

Last weekend I sold passionfruit saplings to raise funds for Wounded Heroes, an organisation that assists veterans at a grassroots level. I’ve been dining alfresco which is simply delightful and the feel of sun on the old bod is just so good.

Spring means a weekly morning walking club where we investigate new parklands, nature reserves ……..and coffee shops. The morning air is fresh and it is a time to be reinvigorated.

With all the negative media insinuations about an imminent Lockdown – after a football grand final on the weekend ( can you detect the dripping sarcasm?) – I have to remind myself of all for which I am grateful. I can deal with Lockdown, I can deal with the prospect of no ham for Christmas ( really, Australia, this is just pay back for our own stupidity) and I don’t give a rats if boat loads of plastic toys don’t arrive from China. *

The local church turned an unused building into an Op Shop during the first Lockdown last year in an endeavour to create some “community” in the area. They have since added a coffee cart and hold monthly markets to support local creatives. I will walk up there shortly for $5 coffee and cake of the day and to donate some books.

I have no religious affiliations or convictions whatsoever, though do live by the ten commandments – you just do – though fully support the efforts that this non-mainstream group go to in order to bring people together at a time when their is so much isolation. And so much fear.

I picked up a DVD from there for 50c last week, an Australian flick I wanted to see in the cinema but masks indoors ruined that idea. Palm Beach is geared to the Baby Boomer set and tells the story of three aging boomers, all in a rock group together back in the day, who reunite for a birthday weekend in Palm Beach, on Sydney’s northern beaches.

The movie stars Palm Beach and if you’re interested in checking out the lifestyle that Aussie’s aspire too this alone makes the movie worth watching. Actors include Bryan Brown, Richard E Grant, Sam Neill and Greta Scacchi.

I adored Bryan Brown in A Town Like Alice and The Thorn Birds. He was tall, laconic, and blokey and looked damn fine in a singlet. ( I digress, but what happened to singlets?) He lived only a few kms from me though from ” the wrong side of the tracks” as my mother would put it. Only a few years older than me loved him, loved him, loved him.

Finally, this movie reminded me that I am ever so grateful to still have my own teeth. ( Sorry, Brownie, but your Dentist owes you a refund.)

*I’ve been collecting the fallen paper bark from local bushland, soaking it, and using it to line hanging baskets. This weekend I will plant up the baskets with herb seeds and/or baby tomatoes. Children are being gifted books and clothes and for their parents a gift voucher to keep a local business alive, such as a hair salon, dinner at the pub etc. How bloody hard is it people?