Build It And They Will Come

I recently came across an obituary from the local newspaper for author W P Kinsella that I had tucked between the pages of a book several years ago. Amongst other things Kinsella wrote Shoeless Joe from which the movie Field of Dreams was derived. Kinsella’s literary agent described the author as a “dedicated storyteller, performer, curmudgeon, an irascible and difficult man”. Love him already.

Shoeless Joe is a good read, with more flesh than the movie, though this does not necessarily make it any better.

Iowa farmer Ray (Kevin Costner) hears a mysterious voice one night in his cornfield saying “If you build it, he will come,” and he feels the need to act. Despite the threat of bankruptcy, Ray builds a baseball diamond on his land, supported by his wife, Annie (Amy Madigan). Afterward, the ghosts of great players start emerging from the corn fields to play baseball led by “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.(Ray Liotta …big sigh and twinge of lust).

This stays pretty much to the original storyline, and much of the dialogue from the book is in the movie. This was a tad disconcerting in that I could hear the “voices”, particularly of Burt Lancaster and James Earl Jones, whilst I was reading. I could only “hear” Shoeless Joe in the first half when he did his spiel about what playing the game meant. Maybe this means nothing other than I’ve watched the movie far too often.

The camaraderie of the ball players is far more prominent in the movie version providing much of the humour and humanising the ghosts.( It’s about here we can offer a collective sigh for Liotta again……….)

Which brings me to a recent project: the Butterfly House in my back garden.

Build it and they will come. Fingers crossed anyway. I’ve also planted Marigolds, Lavender, and Geraniums so here’s hoping for house guests soon.

Next project? A Bee Motel.

Wattle and Koalas

Wattle Day has been celebrated on the first day of September each year since 1992, the official start of the Australian spring. Prior to this each State acknowledged the day at separate times depending on when the Acacias were in full bloom in that territory. My memories as a young lass are of wearing a sprig of Cootamundra Wattle, which flourished in Sydney, to school on the 1st day of August each year.

The Golden Wattle was incorporated as an accessory in the design of the Australian Coat of Arms in 1912.

I’m a big fan of Wattle (but then I don’t suffer from Hay Fever) and have recently planted a Wattle sapling, along with other native trees, on the fringe of the Koala corridor which my property borders. Pretty sure the neighbours will be unimpressed. Stuff ‘em.

Both the Koalas and Wattles are at their best at the moment. The former may well be cute but the bucks are noisy when they’re feeling antsy. Noisy and determined. And they’re most certainly feeling antsy at the moment.


Tree planting endeavours on my part are an attempt to encourage the bees, butterflies and bird life. All creatures welcome really – except snakes.

Wattle flowers were sold to raise money during World War 1 and it became tradition to send pressed wattles in letters to wounded soldiers in Europe. Fallen diggers were often buried with a sprig of wattle. The green and gold of Wattle inspired our national colours which we see at the great sporting events.

Wattle……just love it.

Cootamundra Wattle by John Williamson

Don’t go lookin’ through that old camphor box woman,
You know those old things only make you cry.
When you dream upon that little bunny rug
It makes you think that life has passed you by
There are days when you wish the world would stop woman,
But then you know some wounds would never heal
But when I browse the early pages of the children
It’s then I know exactly how you feel.
Hey it’s July and the winter sun is shining
And the Cootamundra wattle is my friend
For all at once my childhood never left me
‘Cause wattle blossoms bring it back again
It’s Sunday and you should stop the worry woman,
Come out here and sit down in the sun
Can’t you hear the magpies in the distance?
Don’t you feel the new day has begun?
Can’t you hear the bees making honey woman,
In the spotted gums where the bellbirds ring?
You might grow old and bitter cause you missed it,
You know some people never hear such things
Hey it’s July and the winter sun is shining
And the Cootamundra wattle is my friend
For all at once my childhood never left me
‘Cause wattle blossoms bring it back again
Don’t buy the daily papers any more woman,
Read all about what’s going on in hell.
They don’t care to tell the world of kindness,
Good news never made a paper sell.
There’s all the colours of the rainbow in the garden woman,
And symphonies of music in the sky.
Heaven’s all around us if you’re looking,
But how can you see it if you cry.
Hey it’s July and the winter sun is shining
And the Cootamundra wattle is my friend
For all at once my childhood never left me
‘Cause wattle blossoms bring it back again.

Musk Sticks, Museums and Movies

In 2018 Sweden opened it’s Disgusting Food Museum

Australia’s contribution to the museum collection includes Witchetty Grubs and Vegemite – sacrilege! 

Perhaps most surprising within the museum is the presence of the humble Musk Stick. They’re simple, unassuming lollies that neither creep nor crawl. Hot pink and sickly sweet they are a throwback to many Australian childhoods. I have memories of crushing them up into the milk we were given in bottles at primary school, though I won’t share that with my daughters as I’m still nagging them about the benefits of Brussel Sprouts.

Who didn’t make their first trip to the “pictures” without a couple of musk sticks in a white paper bag? At 1c each they were an absolute bargain.

Selected Cinemas across the nation are holding a Hollywood Classics Festival until early December. Movies will be shown at the first time slot on Monday mornings once a fortnight. It’s going to be a bit early to eat a Musk Stick but I’m going to give it a go in silent protest and a nod to the past. That’s my August Goal. Judy Garland on the big screen at breakfast, tragics singing along to The Trolly Song, without throwing up.

Villers-Bretonneux, #kindjuly and nuts.

I’ve just booked into an Author-In-Action presentation at the local Library. Can’t wait to learn more about Vicki Bennett’s children’s book, Two Pennies.

In April, 1918 the village of Villers-Bretonneux in France was the scene of the world’s first tank battle between British and German troops which the Germans would win, occupying the township.

The Ecole de Garcons (Boys School) was destroyed along with much of the town on the 25th April 1918 when the Australian 13th and 15th Brigades recaptured it from the Germans in a battle in which over 1,200 Australian soldiers were killed.

The school was rebuilt with donations from Australia. School children and their teachers helped the effort by asking for pennies- in what became known as the Penny Drive -while the Victorian Department of Education contributed 12,000 pounds to the War Relief Fund. The school was appropriately renamed ‘Victoria’. The inauguration of the new school occurred on ANZAC Day in 1927. “N’oublions jamais l’Australie“ (Never forget Australia) is inscribed in the school hall.

The Rugrats have just returned to school after a fortnight of holidays here in Queensland.

The Little Community Library proved a huge success with the generous addition of CDs, DVDs and books for the older kiddies to ease them through the break.

A fellow Little Library Custodian shared with me that it was #kindjuly. Did you know this? (Marketing gurus: aren’t they precious…..)

Kind July – Stay Kind
If every Australian did one act of kindness a day for the month of July, that would be 775 million acts of kindness in Kind July (and 9.3 billion acts of kindness every year).

And I’m off for a dose of Community Theatre tonight : My Husbands Nuts. Honestly, I’m too intimidated to add an apostrophe in case I get it wrong.

Happy Trails:)

Christobel Mattingley and Battle Order 204.

We recently lost Australian author Christobel Mattingley, aged 87 years.

Mattingley was an award-winning author of books for both children and adults. Rummage won the Children’s Book of the Year Award: Younger Readers and Children’s Book of the Year Award: Picture Book in 1982.

In the 1996 Australia Day Honours Mattingley was made a Member of the Order of Australia for “service to literature, particularly children’s literature, and for community service through her commitment to social and cultural issues”.

Her most recent book is Maralinga’s long shadow: Yvonne’s story, which was published in 2016 and won the 2017 Young People’s History Prize at the NSW Premier’s History Awards.

I was introduced to the writing of Mattingley late in the game after reading Battle Order 204 about her husband David’s experiences as a bomber pilot in World War II.

Battle Order 204 is a historical, non-fiction novel that recounts the experiences of the bomber pilot of the Royal Australian Air Force serving with No. 625 Squadron RAF. It follows Mattingley’s dream to one day be a pilot and his journey from start to finish into the skies of Europe during the second world war.

The book is centered on the mission in which his Arvo Lancaster- after being struck three times shattering his hand and badly wounding his leg- was safely returned to the airfield in which it had launched from beating the crews proposal to abandon the wrecked aircraft, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

The book contains photographs, logs and other images of Mattingley’s experiences throughout his service.

The books point of difference was that it was written in a manner to engage the Young Adult demographic. Of course I purchased several copies for younger members of the family.

Literary Dinners and Romance Novels.

The next Literary Dinner at my local pub, The Grand View, features Paullina Simons. Simons is a Russian-born American writer and the international best-selling author of the novels Tully, Red Leaves, Eleven Hours, The Bronze Horseman, Tatiana and Alexander, Lily and The Summer Garden.

My eldest daughter, Pocohontas, is not a big reader. Well, she is in that she consumes volumes of Government Legislation as well as travel guides to help plan holiday itineraries. But not fiction. This is the child who made me wade through 1500 pages of Book 1 in the Game Of Thrones series for a book club only to announce at the meeting that she was “too busy” to read so watched the tv program instead.

At one stage said daughter became very excited about The Bronze Horseman. “ Mo, you just have to read this one”. A romance novel, the book begins on 22 June 1941, the day Russia enters the Second World War after Operation Barbarossa. Tatiana Metanova, nearly seventeen, meets the handsome and mysterious Red Army officer Alexander Belov. The relationship between Tatiana and Alexander develops against the backdrop of the Siege of Leningrad and in the face of many difficulties.

Confession straight up. Romance and I don’t mix. It seems to have bypassed my DNA. However, I did read to the end and I did learn how the Russians, both soldiers and civilians, suffered during this period which was interesting.

A bright, young thing spied me reading The Bronze Horseman in the communal lunch room at the office. When she asked how I was finding it, I told her. Stupid me never did learn to keep my trap shut………… BYT proceeded to explain why it was her favourite book of all time and that it was a wonderful love story. I think she talked non stop for twenty minutes.

BYT is now a published Romance Writer and going great guns. What do I know?

*Spoiler Alert:
My bug bear was that Tatiana carried around with her for some twelve months a pair of sexy knickers for when she had the chance to do the wild thing with Alexander. Starving, freezing, only one set of clothes, people falling all around her on the snow covered city streets and dying, and 1) she never changes her undies and 2) she never even contemplates trading them for biscuits, a chicken, or even a glass of vodka.

Realistic, I tell you, not romantic.

Porter, Big Bands and Hip Replacements

Showing my age but I remember when pre wedding festivities consisted of a gathering of women who thought it dreadfully risqué to open a bottle of Porphrey Pearl or Cold Duck and to gift such wondrous things as wooden spoons , tea towels, and paper towel dispensers to the bride-to-be. Yes, the compulsory Kitchen Tea, when mothers and maiden aunts openly drank the McWilliams Port or Sherry from the flagon and guests dined on sausage rolls, Devilled Eggs and fruitcake. ( Question: why is it that any drink that is pink kills pot plants?)

Times have changed and the Hen’s Night is now almost as big as the actual wedding requiring just as much planning. Some young women fly out of the country for the event on the basis that “ what happens in Bali stays in Bali”. I did not attend my eldest daughter’s Hens as I’de had enough of waking up on Saturday mornings to find some strange teenager laying across my bed wanting relationship advice and breakfast. From a divorcee. What’s that all about?

My favourite Hens function took place nearly thirty years ago. Frocked up we went to a Saturday matinee to see A Swell Party, a musical which was overlaid with biographical content, followed by a slap-up Thai meal where we all got sill-ily sloshed. That was my introduction to the music of Col Porter.

I often play a CD of Porter’s music by the original artists. It’s old. The sound quality is not the best but it’s still fine music. Helps with the mopping.

De-Lovely is a 2004 musical biopic. The screenplay is based on the life and career of Cole Porter from his first meeting with his wife, Linda Thomas, until his death.  Critics may have panned the movie but I loved that it introduced a new generation to the music of Porter with a soundtrack featuring contemporaries such as Alana Morrissette, Robbie Williams and Sheryl Crowe.

So a recent Dinner Dance with a Big Band playing all the tunes of Porter and the songs of Dino and Cranky Frankie was just De-lightful.

Swing Central at Cloudland in Brisbane

Better than my previous weeks venture to a nightclub for Baby Boomers – yes, they are a thing – where the only positive was that I seemed to be the only one not requiring a hip replacement.