Murder At The Dunwich Museum

It hasn’t been a fun week with my only outings having been to put the rubbish bins out for collection and to check the letterbox.

In between Lockdowns (yes, plural) I did manage to attend an author talk organised by the Library in a nearby park. It was lovely to sit outside in the sunshine and listen to an informative talk by Dr Karen Thurecht, a medical anthropologist by trade.

Thurecht has recently released her first mystery novel, Murder At The Dunwich Asylum, which piqued my interest because the location makes up part of my playground.

The Dunwich Benevolent Asylum was established by the Queensland Government to provide accomodation for the destitute, aged and infirm and operated from 1886 to 1946. Located at Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island in Moreton Bay over 21,000 people were admitted during its operation with around 1000 to 1600 at any one time.

Although I haven’t yet read the book I enjoyed learning more about the Asylum’s history, and look forward to Thurecht’s coming novels which also feature familiar settings : the cane fields near Jacobs Well and Frogs Hollow, now known as Brisbane.

My Lockdown reading isn’t going well. Thank goodness for Daniel Day-Lewis sans shirt in The Last Of The Mohicans to keep a girl sane.

Only 16 hours until the postman is due to drive past again……

Pandemic Dreaming Is A Thing

According to psychologists since COVID-19 pandemic swept around the world people have reported unusually active dream lives. Collectively we are remembering more dreams than usual, and those dreams are especially vivid and bizarre.

I’ve always been one to dream in technicolour. Wonderful, wild dreams that I swear I must remember because the movie or book version would be a blockbuster. Some dreams are so exciting that I’ll float along with Part 1 of a storyline and finish Part 2 the next night. A bit like Intermission in Gone With The Wind but without the ice cream.

Which is where my dreams have changed over these past twelve months. Still vivid and exciting though now always book or movie related. It’s like waking up each morning to a trivia quiz : now where did that one come from?

For example, last weekend (spent in Lockdown) I had a busy evening racing around the perimeter of my house block on a motor bike, hurtling over the occasional barbed wire fence. Yep, I was a female version of Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. I’ve also cooked venison over a fire pit in Sherwood Forest, and with all this mask wearing business I even featured in a movie remake about bank robberies : Bonnie and Clyde and Brizzy May. I’ve crawled through air conditioning vents after John McClane. And one night I even pushed Rose off that piece of wood in the middle of the Irish Sea. Not even game to mention Rambo……

So this Pandemic Dreaming is a thing. Or am I just losing the plot?

Last nights dream was disturbing. I’de just finished reading a Willie Nelson autobiography. Enjoyed it more than expected : in one ear and out the other. Just what you need when it’s stinking hot with threats coming from all sides. * middle finger to China.

Woke up in a worried state having gained an apprenticeship in hairdressing. Me? Hair salon? Not likely! Anyway, accidentally cut Willie’s braids off. Can I tell you how exhausting it was trying to glue them back on?

Note :

Lost Honeysuckle Rose in the property settlement. Absolutely delighted.

We’re Just Not All High Achievors

According to Astrology my star sign makes me a Gemini, the sign of the Twins. This means that I’m communicative, interested in many things, yet easily distracted.

I blame this on my lack of ability to complete projects. A creative thinker my ideas are good though the “follow through” poor as something newer and more dazzling comes to mind. Whilst others built decks throughout the worst of Lockdown, authored a recipe book, or have remodelled bathrooms my claim to fame is finishing a jigsaw puzzle. This does not really distress me as I acknowledge my many small achievements – like channelling Nigella Lawson in the kitchen and binge watching West Wing – though I do marvel at those folk who have managed to change their world and perhaps the world of others.

One of my friends, Annie, is one who falls under this heading. We worked together for a number of years at a Brisbane College. Though I always admired her professionalism, work ethic and integrity, I thought she was a bit odd. Yeah, the pot calling the kettle black…..totally aware…..

I knew she read tarot cards, and had a massive interest in metaphysics, and I knew that she developed study programs to assist those working with the aged as well as Art Therapy.

Anne states that she “loves making theories tangible to people, and enjoy providing them with tools to understand themselves better, and to trust their own healing processes. I am a firm believer in holistic health (mind, body, spirit), and of using the power of creativity and intuitive knowledge to create a life that has meaning and purpose”.

So what is it that Anne created over Lockdown?

Her own study program to assist in achieving the above goals!

I’m still battling to complete my Dementia studies because though interesting it was in no way uplifting, something sorely needed during a Pandemic. Well, that’s my excuse.

But I’m loving Anne’s regular entries on Social Media which she calls Soulwork For The Week and which tend to resonate.

Look at this exercise :

There is something powerful about a self-portrait. Whether painting or photograph. When we look at ourselves, we search our features for hints at who we think we are. But what if a self-portrait, instead of revealing our outer nature, actually revealed your inner nature… just as Dorian Gray’s self-portrait revealed his inner nature. Would you be comfortable sharing it with others?

And she’s working on a novel.

Just let me get back to writing Christmas Cards or they’ll not get finished either.


Happy to pass on a Link for those interested.

Cocky’s Delight

My daughter and her husband gave up the bright lights of the city to live in a remote northern region of our country. The pearl earrings and stilettos have been placed into storage, and the small car that was so brilliant for parking in tiny city spaces has been traded in for a beast that includes sleeping quarters, bull bar and racks for fishing rods. Hilarious as neither of them have fished in their lives.

When they visited over Christmas I thought I’de share a few meal preparation tips for basic and rural living because there certainly weren’t going to be any 3 or 4 Hat restaurants where they were headed. The only hats around would be wide brimmed with corks hanging off them to deter the flies.

This in itself was strange because I too am a city lass and have never been camping in my life. Never, unless you include camping in the back garden with the stereo, the drinks fridge and bathroom equipped with bubblebath.

Lessons from my childhood came flooding back, the lessons from a father who after years in Bomber Command during World War 2, returned to a position held for him for four years and who then allowed him twelve months leave to “find himself”. What did my private school educated, city slicker father do during those twelve months? Went sheep shearing, and shooting foxes and rabbits for their pelts of course.

This was the reason that as a child there was always a tin of Golden Syrup, or as it was better known, Cocky’s Delight or Cocky’s Joy, in the pantry. You see it was not as expensive as jam, did not need to be refrigerated, and came in a tin making it easily transportable, especially in saddle bags. Spread across damper straight off the coals it was considered the bees knees and bushies loved it.

My father was always happiest sitting in front of a fireplace shaped from large rocks way down the back yard, with fresh damper covered with Cockys Delight, and hot Billy Tea. Used to scare the bejesus out of us kids when he swung that billy tea around his head, as old bushies used to do

A cocky is a small farmer. He usually selected himself a 300 or 500 acre holding, clears it, fences it, pays for it, sows wheat in it – and then he goes to bed to wait for his crop.

The next morning he gets up and finds the paddock white with cockatoos grubbing up his seed. He is there to sow and reap -cockatoos. And that, they say, is how he got his name as a cockatoo farmer – a cocky.

⁃   C E W Bean, On The Wool Track. 1910.

So when the daughter visited I cooked Golden Syrup Dumplings. Minimal effort, minimal ingredients, and simple to cook on a camp oven. Flour, Butter, Cockys Delight and a dash of milk. I cooked it in the slow cooker and the daughter agreed it was a tasty alternative to Black Forest Cake and Pavlova which were going to be difficult to source in Arnham Land.

In hindsight I wonder if this was a precursor to the Depression style cooking now so prevalent thanks to the missing staples on our supermarket shelves…..

Lockdown and Millennials

A lovely article in the weekend newspaper  by journalist Lucy Carne. A millennial, she says she’s done all the right things and has stocked up on both toilet paper and flour. Except she doesn’t know what to do with flour as she’s only ever cooked pancakes out of those plastic shaker bottles. She’s also quite concerned about starving once UberEats stops delivering. 

I laughed until I nearly wet myself.

I came home after a few days away and needed to clean the fridge out of leftovers and scraps before shopping for the coming week.

Weary, stressed and with a head full of exciting stuff (which I will share soon) dinner was done in thirty minutes.  It would have been twenty but I opened a bottle of wine first.

From this:

Slimey salad leftovers
Secret ingredient. No-one knows what it is as it’s all in Chinese. It was a gift.
Wonton Soup.

No need for concern this end. I’ve just done an inventory of the bar fridge and we’re okay for three months.

May Gibbs did this for the Spanish Flu in 1918