It’s In The Cards

I was recently gifted a box of Dreamtime Oracle Cards by a friend which are based on the beliefs of our Indiginous people. Stop rolling your eyes – I know what you are thinking……

Oracle Cards have never been my thing though in my last working arena it was a tradition to read the Cards around the table at the annual Christmas luncheon. (Don’t even ask). No Work Christmas function this year so I thought I would continue with this ritual at home. Funny enough the cards have never been wrong. Didn’t I ask you not to roll your eyes?

My card this year was the Campfire Card which explains the importance of fire for both cooking and the sharing of knowledge amongst our ancient people when they gathered around the fire to eat. My own life very much resonates with this as I hail from folk who came together at day’s end and
dined with a glass of wine or a frothy, music playing quietly in the background, making time to share the days events as well as events of the past. They were storytellers and we grew up looking for the fairies at the bottom of the garden and the pot of gold under the rainbow.

I continued this ritual when I had my own family. No morning or evening television at meal times and always, ALWAYS, a clean tablecloth. Actually, no morning TV – EVER. No time nor inclination.

There was always space at the table to share with friends and enough food to go round, and my humanitarian daughter was regularly bringing home young men and women who needed a feed and maybe even some respite. “ Mo, some roast beef and Yorkshire pudding will sort them out”.

Food and Stories have been the constants of my life. The Depression parents instilled in me that it was “ better to pay the butcher than the Doctor”.

I am fortunate in this sphere to be connected to storytellers too, with tales of food, of camerarderie in hard times, of books, movies, gardens, of journeys and all sorts of adventuring. Some of you even share stories within stories for which I am grateful.

My Oracle Card said “ Everyone has something to share, some knowledge that you did not yet know. Knowledge can come from the most unlikely of people and places, so value the sharing of wisdom, whenever you get the chance.”

No resolutions, no goals for the New Year. Never bothered with that stuff. But I’m gonna embrace the advice of the Dreamtime Cards with a firm hand.

Eyebrows, Netflix and A Book

With no reprieve from the heat and the temperature now nudging 42 degrees I’ve given up the good fight and have succumbed. I’m not comfortable binging on Netflix though it has prevented the odd burst of madness. And who knew that “ watching Netflix and chilling” was slang for something else?

So I’ve watched BirdBox along with 45 million other people from all over the world this week apparently, (Creepy as), and also Tidelands, Netflix’s first Australian production.

Tidelands, with its eight episodes, is about drug trafficking and Water Sirens from Greek mythology. Bizarre concept, right…..Does it work ? The critic from the Adelaide Review summed it up with, “in essence, it’s Home and Away with bosoms and magic, and that augurs well for its future……”.

I have never seen so many beautifully crafted eyebrows, nor attractive young men in tight leather pants at the beach, as you do, of course, and I will forever more look at the use of kitchen bench tops differently. Blaming the heat I will admit to battling with the storyline, from beginning to end, but yeh, must get the address of that brow sculpture specialist.

On to Bruce Willis in Hart’s War, which in turn led to an interesting book, The Black Knights, The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen, by Lynn Homan and Thomas Reilly. This was a fascinating read about the African Americans who participated in a flight training program during WW2 as a social experiment and went on to serve escorting bomber planes over Europe and North Africa. Great book with personal stories and photographs which made it so much more interesting. It’s also not that long ago….

Please, no walking around in blind folds and always remember to keep your kitchen bench tops clean.

A Scone That Hasn’t Quite Risen

In the first week of December I had dinner with my daughter in Canberra.

In the first week of January when I met her at the local airport she greeted me with “Mo, you’re going grey!” Happy New Year to you too, biatch.

So five weeks into retirement what possibly could be sending me grey?

Is it because I’m missing the daily two hour train commute?
Is it because all the healthy living – food, exercise,mindfulness – doesn’t sit well?
Is it the freedom to do my own thing that I’m not coping with?
Are the decision making processes required to decide which book to read each day just too demanding?

Nope, none of these things. I’m putting all the blame on Bentley, my Labrador Grandfurbaby, with whom I am currently sharing living quarters. A lovely dog with a beautiful nature he is just simply exhausting.

First of all, he has me up three times a night for bathroom duties. Three times a night!!!!!! My human babies were sleeping through the night within six weeks. I’m a morning person – up with the chooks and often before them – but this broken sleep is a killer. I’m very close to hitting the wall especially that we are now into our ninth day of heatwave conditions.

I acknowledge that it’s a positive that he lets me know when visits are required and that there have been no accidents. How does he let me know ? By licking and slobbering all over my face. Holy Guacamole! Is it a really sad state of affairs to admit that I’m almost at the stage that I’m used to being awoken in this manner?

Oh, and Bents doesn’t like the rain so thanks to my daughter’s poor parenting practises one is required to stand there holding an umbrella over him mid stream.

Can dogs be diabetic, I’m wondering?

Bentley always wants to eat. I’m already nervous that the daughter will weigh him when she flys in as she likes her dog lean and trim. Did you know that Labs have a chemical imbalance which stops them from knowing when their tummies are full? Might have to use that excuse myself…..

And not just kibble, but pumpkin or prawns too

With his hearing impediment (totally deaf) he doesn’t pick up on social queues. You can be walking him down the street and a growling Rottweiler appears and Bentley wants to lick him. He can’t distinguish between friend or foe, which is sad and also awkward (and sometimes scary). I’m thinking I’m going to have to walk him with a golf club in hand for emergencies.

Yes, Bentley is a scone that hasn’t quite risen. Love him to bits but I’m buggered.

The Scandalous Freddie McEvoy by Frank Walker : Book Review

“Swashbuckler, daredevil racing-car champion, Winter Olympian, gambler, smuggler, scoundrel and suspected spy – this is the fascinating story of scandalous Freddie McEvoy.”

Who?

The first sentence of the Prologue threw me with “ Freddie McEvoy was many things: the first Australian to win a medal at any Winter Olympics…..” Hey, was Zaria Steggall chopped liver?

It was only after delving deeper that we learn that Freddie McEvoy was indeed born in Australia but emigrated to Europe with family at the age of six following his father’s death, and represented the United Kingdom in a medal winning bobsled team in the Winter Olympics of 1936. Slightly different connotation………

McEvoy returned to Australia in his late teens where he became friendly with a young lad with similar interests and personality by the name of Errol Flynn, though returned to Europe within 3 years.

A quote from Flynn about McEvoy, as well as a photo of the two men together some twenty years later when they renewed their friendship in Hollywood in the 1940’s, graces the front cover. The author frequently comments that the two men look very similar, something else that I don’t get. Tall, dark and with a moustache. That’s it. All other photos within the book are so grainy and unflattering that you can’t tell. McEvoy doesn’t even wear his trousers well…truely…..

So Freddie is well educated, plays the ladies on the French Riviera, is athletic and a risk taker. He chases wealthy women to fund his lifestyle, and mixes with the “in crowd”, with lots of European Society and Hollywood names being bandied about, as well as the odd fling with known Nazi spy’s.

Always chasing money, McEvoy smuggled diamonds and guns on his yacht between California and Mexico and he too was targeted by the FBI as a Nazi spy. He died when his yacht crashed into a reef and in the process of rescuing his latest wife, though the circumstances were somewhat mysterious.

This is an easy read that goes in one ear and out the other. “Australia’s daredevil Lothario” whose mantra was “ Pleasure is my Business”.

Who? And does anybody care?

Fairy Penguins Rule.

“Is this Heaven?” asks a ghostly baseball player in Field Of Dreams.
“No. It’s Iowa”.

No, it’s the beautiful Hunter.

When I open the front door to walk the Lab in the mornings I am greeted by grazing kangaroos in green paddocks.

Thirty minutes to the west are the beautiful vineyards of the Hunter Valley, although if you are expecting to pick up some cheap plonk these are not the venues for you. Cellar Doors and eateries within the wineries are big business these days, unlike 40 years ago when they consisted of mainly tin sheds.

Thirty minutes to the east is the coast where I caught a fish yesterday, spotted a pod of dolphins, and frolicked in the waves.

To the north by ten minutes is a little township steeped in history. Our country towns are fantastic places to explore especially with the aid of a Heritage Walk map. Interestingly, I stumbled across this hitching post from America from the late 1800’s. If we can no longer call them Fairy Penguins and are no longer able to buy golliwogs, then please explain…..

In a park in Maitland not featured on the map I came across a Memorial to those who lost their lives at Sandakan during WW2. If you want to touch up on Australian history read Paul Ham’s Sandakan and learn why a previous generation wholeheartedly supported the Australian car manufacturing industry.

Soon I will venture south some thirty minutes to the local zoo where I have an appointment at the Meerkat enclosure. I’m all for collecting experiences but being peed on by a meerkat is not one of them. Thanks, daughters of mine.

As Time Goes By in a Heatwave

You know it’s hot when the paper hat from the Christmas bonbon disintegrates on your head. Just another heatwave, though this time with warnings of an invasion of ginormous funnel web spiders, narky brown snakes who don’t like being disturbed whilst romancing, and off beach shark sightings. No wonder people rave about Netflix.

Another of my books I discovered on the daughter’s bookshelves is As Time Goes By by Michael Walsh. Published in 1998, I have again enjoyed this easy read, which is a sequel to what happens in the 1940’s movie, Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

Come on….Didn’t you want to know what happened after Ilsa and Victor flew out of Casablanca? Weren’t you worried how Rick and Louis Renault got on after shooting Heinrich Strasser?

This novel also provides Rick’s back story and information in the file kept on him by the Nazis. It’s a fun read, with the author transferring the tone of the characters from the movie into the book, and providing a satisfying ending. More importantly, it doesn’t detract from the original in any way. How could it?

Hey, it’s stinking hot. Every girl can do with a bit of fluff occasionally. Plus, there’s crocodiles invading the gardens of northern Queensland following the recent floods. Inside in the air conditioning is safer.

And I’ve started a box of books I have repatriated…….

Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence

Twenty three pages of instructions later the Labrador remains alive and all electronics have been mastered. Who said that you couldn’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Located one of my DVDs in the daughter’s storage unit yesterday. ( Why is it they never leave the nest with stuff I don’t want, may I ask?)

Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence intrigued me when I first viewed it back in the 80s and I’ve never forgotten the haunting beauty of the boy soprano or the soundtrack.

Based on a novel by Sir Laurens van de Post, The Seed and the Sower, the author utilised his experiences as a POW in Java during WW2. He was bilingual and renowned for keeping morale high amongst his fellow prisoners. From memory, the writing was a bit flowery for my simple tastes.

It is important to note that although I have done David Bowie at karaoke in a country pub many years ago, and thankfully along way from home, I’m not a mad fan. Simply easy listening stuff.

In this movie, David Bowie plays a  WW2 British soldier, Jack Celliers, who is captured by Japanese forces and is detained in a prison camp. He plays a duty bound, soldier’s  soldier, and has an amazing onscreen presence. Almost feline, he is fascinating to watch, despite the over zealousness in applying his fake tan. I’m wondering if it’s his presence that makes up for any flaws in the movie.

He becomes matey with Lt Col John Lawrence, played by Tom Conti, who is bilingual  and who translates the Japanese language and customs. He’s really into understanding the Japanese perspective, which I guess appeases the Japanese Director.

I am fascinated by this movie though I’m not sure why. There are homophobic themes which I don’t think are necessary, themes about defiance and saving face, and themes about different belief systems. There is also no happy ever after. The title comes from Celliers and Lawrence having their death sentence reprieved at Christmas, so there is no Ho Ho Ho-ing as such.

I do still love the boy soprano and the soundtrack, and can’t confirm whether or not I actually like the movie. It’s an interesting watch.

Aussie Jack Thompson overplays it as usual. Always a legend in his own lunchtime……

The dog is down for a nap – that’s my queue to follow. Truly, it’s like having a baby in the house all over again…….