Mother’s Day 2018

It’s Mother’s Day in Australia this weekend.

I was going to rant about the commercialisation of this date on the calendar and how these days have become mere marketing tools. But I am mellowing as I get older, so instead I will share some fun things.

First of all, my gift through the post from my youngest daughter, who writes Government policy for a living. WARNING : if you are feint hearted – don’t look.

A card from the eldest daughter thanked me for “ teaching us all the important things in life, like how to make a platter, the Hollywood Classics, and the best reads. Thankyou also for sharing with us your love of music and introducing us to Carole King”.

Platters. My kids were brought up on platters : good food, good wine, good social skills whilst grazing. What could be better? Here is a recent Easter platter.

DD61AF42-969A-4B19-A11B-E83A1DD23B01.jpeg

The Hollywood Classics. Some people have replicated Monet’s on their walls – I’ve always had Errol Flynn lobby cards. Now both kids have a collection that rivals mine, with one owning a collection of singing Bing Crosby dolls. I kid you not. They’ve both told me that everything but my Errol’s is going to the dump when I’m dead.

00AE8A36-21D6-4477-BC03-11B92E275D25

Books. Because we all live in different parts of the country the youngest instigated a book club amongst the three of us, so each time we met up for a long weekend, we would sit around a champagne breakfast on the Sunday chatting about the designated book. This went really well for several years until the eldest nominated Book 1 of Game of Thrones. 1052 pages. I can remember the battle to get through each and every page. What a struggle, but mother can’t let the side down, can she? So, when we finally get to discuss this epic, number 2 intelligently discusses themes,
comparative history lessons, politics and feminism. I am gobsmacked but manage to comment. Number 1? Informs us she watched the television version instead.

IMG_0145

Music. Soothes the soul and suits all moods. My father eased each loss with music, as have I. Music has also been celebratory which I have shared with both daughters. Music and Theatre. Expensive interests, but “you’re a long time dead”. ( Thank you, Father Bear, for my mantra) . After our recent Queen with Adam Lambert Concert we made a pact to travel anywhere in the world to be at their last ever concert. Brian May is looking so damn good that might be another fifty years down the track.

So Happy Days to all mums and dads, grandparents, uncles and aunts, sisters and brothers, and all those who have had a hand in shaping our younger ones. With the grey hair comes the great memories.

Oh, and I’m off to see Beautiful, The Carole King Story.

PS I still have no grey hair.

My weekend with Jimmy Stewart.

Watched an old James Stewart movie today; old in that it was released in 1965, and because Stewart was nudging sixty when it was made. I remember having seen Shenandoah as a child in the days of black and white TV so it was good to revisit in colour. For some reason the haunting theme song had remained in my head all these years.

Despite it being a civil war flick some of the scenery is just beautiful. (I seem to be attracted to cornfields. Is there a name for that, I wonder?)

FD3A1123-F7EF-4BCE-AA79-1F0128A9D00B.jpeg

Stewart plays a widower on 500 acres of fertile farmland in Virginia, with half a dozen strapping sons and a daughter, and is reluctant to involve his family in the war happening on their front doorstep. There are all the usual Jimmy Stewart homilies, delivered just as one would expect, and of course once his youngest son is captured by the Union, Jimmy gets his dander up ……as he does…..and gets well and truly involved.

Doug McClure plays Stewart’s son-in-law, a Confederate Army officer. He was my mad crush when he played Trampis in a television series many moons ago, and when I saw him in this it reminded me why I swore off blondes.

Which takes me to this great find – Jimmy Stewart, Bomber Pilot by Starr Smith. What a fascinating read!

072D3E31-BE6E-4DD0-8802-4B61D93E6F11.jpeg

Stewart had always had a love of flying even before his acting career, and when war broke out he was keen to get amongst it. Initially the Studio bosses were not eager for him to get involved (not only because of his fan base but because he would have a price on his head) and so he bided his time as a flight instructor. However, Stewart did get to fly missions as a bomber pilot over Germany and was considered both a good pilot and Leader of men. He reached the rank of Colonel in 1945 and was the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with Oak Cluster, the Croix de Guerre with Palm and seven Battle Stars.

More interesting are the remembrances of his men which quote Stewart as collectively calling them “ Fella’s” in any meeting, just as he did in his role in Shenandoah. Some of these tales really are the measure of the man. Well worth the read.

At Stewart’s funeral, the Shenandoah soundtrack was played as the pall bearers carried the coffin out to the car.*

Births, Deaths and Marriages with Vera Lynn.

More reflection upon the anniversary of the death of both my father and father-in-law. Passing is a more acceptable term, with connotations of soft music and a gentle transition. Neither of these hard, old men departed softly or with gentleness, determined to kick and holler all the way, just as they had lived. Same date, different year. I like to think that wherever they may be they are enjoying a cold ale together and having a good gripe about the state of Australian cricket.

Funny enough, this is the first time I’ve taken any interest in cricket. Always found it as interesting as watching paint dry. What about you?

Sorry, that’s a fib. I do remember back in the mid 60’s watching Garfield Sobers on the Tele hitting lots of sixes. Must have been that special father-daughter time, like watching Cassius Clay boxing, or Sunday nights with Hoss and Little Joe at The Ponderosa.

When my Dad relocated to a new home on the beautiful south coast where he would spend his days fishing, bowling and home brewing, I gifted him a colour television. Boy, did this make watching cricket that more palatable – you could finally see the ball. As a child I don’t think I even realised that the game of tennis was even about hitting a ball : never saw anything round shaped on the old black and white, and was quite clueless as to the point of it all. Yeah, not much has changed…….

He retired at 52 having outlived both the war bride and the love of his life, and having survived Bomber Command. His proudest achievement was 28 years of life in the slow lane in his quaint little village by the sea.

The father-in-law, a Scouse with an accent as thick as treacle, was an old Sea dog.

Put the two together and things became interesting, especially towards the later hours in the night. The Scouse, an old story teller from way back would pull out yarns of questionable content, whilst my Dad, who used to sing in English pubs for extra beer money when not flying, would break into song……or harmonica.

A1FC4703-DA97-4F06-918D-71A283164CB8

So, for both these tough old buggers I have just read wartime entertainer Vera Lynn’s autobiography.

Some Sunny Day follows Vera’s musical career which started before she was a teenager, singing alongside her father in English working clubs. In the 1930’s she worked in radio though it wasn’t until World War 2 that she became an iconic figure amongst service personnel, with her songs of hearth and home.

We join Vera on her travels around the world performing for the troops, where her spirit, along with her ability to connect with the men fighting for their country and those left behind praying for their loved ones, made her the ‘Forces Sweetheart.”

0C2564F0-7524-4907-9A13-936BA6393CD7

Her career after the war flourished, with hits in the US and the UK, but Vera was never able to leave behind her wartime role and was deeply affected by what she had seen. She details the hardships of rationing and living with bombs falling overhead, as well as the joy of performing with talented musicians and the fun of singing in dance halls.

Dame Vera Lynn turned 101 on the 20th of March.

This is an interesting book, though one written by a gentle woman from another time. There is no gossip, no sex, no surprises. What you see is what you get. Her later years were of little excitement unless you count popping in for a regular Devonshire Tea with the Queen Mum a thrill. It is a reminder of ordinary people living in extraordinary times.

My Dad always held Vera Lynn right up there.

So Cheers to all three of you. I know “we’ll meet again”.

Now, any more cricketers been sent home yet?

 

Have You Ever Cried At A Rock Concert?

I have.

Last night at the Queen and Adam Lambert Concert playing in the barn at the swamp. Oops, I meant the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.

Lead guitarist, Brian May, one of the two original Queen members, still has “it”. Seventy years of age and I remain pea green with envy of his hair. Yes, it may have turned grey, but look at those curls. I hate men with good hair, don’t you? It is just so unfair. And his prowess on the gee-tar? Simply phenomenal.

The original drummer, Roger Taylor, may have walked on stage looking like he could play Santa at the local Shopping Centre next Christmas, but he did not lose a beat. Just brilliant. The drumming duel with a young fellow, forty years his junior, only emphasised his expertise.

Amazing musicians, and much thanks to my beautiful girls for flying in from cooler parts of the country for a night on the town with the “old bag”.

Young Adam Lambert is pretty, flamboyant, a showman, and charismatic. I think I’m in love…… ( Look, a bloke who comes on stage in black pants and a sparkley dress – sparklier than anything than I’ve ever worn – but still has me excited has to be good. Right?)

Yes, I had consumed a wine or two with lunch. Yes, I am on the wrong side of 50.

What brought me to tears?

Two things.

The realisation that these were Rock Gods performing, who in all likelihood, I may never have the opportunity to see perform live again.

And just like this video: Freddy Mercury. There was a “ kinda magic” in the barn last night. (Courtesy of You Tube)

And just because this is totally devoid of any reference to books, here’s the Pre Concert lunch that I prepared:-

Steamed fish goyzas , oysters kilpatrick, bbq prawns, marinated octopus, deep fried coconut prawns, sand crab, beer battered scallops and fresh prawns. Home baked whole meal bread too, but could someone please remind me to buy a decent bread knife…

F4C493E0-5785-436A-97D3-2589015845D5

Pacific, by Judy Nunn. My most expensive book purchase…..ever!

I’ve been back at work now a total of five weeks. Why does it feel like five months? Breaking it down further, and taking into consideration my reduced hours, that’s a total of only fifteen days. And I’m already feeling the need for a break.

My two hours a day spent in transit to and from my work place is prime reading time – usually when I consume my share of “light and fluffy”. With the current workload the light and fluffies are a treat. How tragic is this?

I recently picked up from a charity sale a book by Australian author, Judy Nunn. Nunn is a prolific writer, though as she had starred in an Australian television soapie in a previous life, I had been avoiding her books like the plague. Pacific had a nice cover, was in excellent nick, and I was feeling mellow. Blame the hot weather……

030D377B-48B8-4E03-BC21-12E4F9CE0CC2.jpeg

It was wonderful to be totally surprised. What an entertaining read. Doesn’t it just throw you when your preconceived ideas are completely off the mark?

Samantha is an Australian actress (who started out in soapies), who succeeds on the stage at West End, and follows on in a role as leading lady in an American blockbuster to be filmed in Vanuatu, an island in the Pacific Ocean.

The film, “Torpedo Junction”, is based in Vanuatu during WW2 and is the story of Samantha’s character, Jane Thackeray, the wife of a missionary who becomes much loved by the locals for her own humanitarian deeds, and is known as Mama Tack by all.

It was only having read Pacific that I learned that after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during WW2, the island was used by Allied forces as a military supply and support base, naval harbor, and airfield. This later contributed to the island’s diving tourism, as the United States dumped most of their equipment and refuse at what is now known as ‘Million Dollar Point’.

6462BD37-2E51-4C9F-9675-7C7006226AE5

I spent a week in Vanuatu back in the early 1980’s. It was the first time I had visited a country outside of Australia that was different to my norm. Locals bathed under waterfalls, travelled to work by canoe, and the dead were on platforms high in the trees, covered by vegetation. The landscape was beautiful with its lush greenery and golden beaches, and its giant Coconut Crabs scared the hell out of me but we’re fine eating. I was very young and madly in love at the time. The Ni Vanuatu’s had only just grasped power of their country from the French and I had a penchant for swimming on top of the water, not under.

Anyway, Mama Tack has a fling with an American gent in uniform, which is all very honourable. He returns stateside and the novel follows through to the years of Vanuatu’s independence, with Mama Tack continuously aiding her beloved natives. Her story entwines with Samantha’s in real life, and is an enjoyable read that could easily be turned into a movie. One of those old fashioned movies of course, the ones that depend on clever conversation, without any special effects, and definately no car chases! (Won’t happen, will it?)

Unable to face another five weeks of work without the prospect of a decent break my youngest daughter has agreed to accompany me on a short holiday to Vanuatu. Can you believe that the time it takes  me to get from A to B is less than two days travel for me to work and back?*Shaking head.

So my bargain book purchase from a Charity Store has proved rather an expensive exercise.

I’m looking forward to showing my child the place where her mother learnt how to concoct a damn fine Champagne and Brandy Cocktail, as well as visiting Santos where there is still much evidence of habitation by the Americans, apparently.

12D60B8A-62D3-49BC-97B7-6FB07AFC46A9

Welcome To The She-Shack.

 

With downsizing as a part of my transition to (my second) retirement, I have claimed a room in the new house as my own. Entry is by invitation only. Please sit whilst I pour the tea.

It’s not decorated according to Home Beautiful nor is it filled with girlie bits and pieces from the renovation shows on the TV.  Never cared about that stuff, you see.

9BB8F39D-B95E-4F73-B474-1B15F3E7698C.jpeg

Downsizing, remember. My daughters have made it quite clear what will be going to the dump when I’m dead so I beat them to it. Boxes went to charity stores, others went to friends with an appreciation for same.

There are a few indoor plants currently suffering from the heat, a candle, and a few memories from places I have visited along the way. When the temperature drops I will invest in fresh flowers on a weekly basis. More importantly, I am surrounded by my music, books, and my favourite movies.

C00981CC-D562-4FB5-81DA-AC6FF88AF778

It is a pleasant room. A comfortable room. A light and airy room. Nothing flash, but it is my space. It’s the very first time I’ve had my own space and boy, have I earned it!

The view out the window is lovely at night as the fairy lights are trained up the palm tree. Sometimes you can spot the odd possum on his way to the fruit trees and blossoms down the back. The plants are another of my interests : they are grown mostly from cuttings and when they have taken and are strong, I hope to sell them at the local monthly market to raise funds to help our service personnel transition back into civilian life. Not an easy task for some.

9C425C1D-6557-4629-ABF2-A4796477F2BB

 

I have two books on the go at the moment. Both are proving challenging, but I’m not giving in.

Hellfire by Cameron Forbes tells the story of Australian POWs at Hellfire Pass on the Thai – Burma Railway during WW2. It includes many personal anecdotes and was written at the time of the 60th anniversary when a group of veterans returned to the site of their imprisonment, spreading the ashes of their revered leader from the time, Edward (Weary) Dunlop. I’m finding the author’s writing style a bit “ other worldly”.  May be it’s just me, maybe it’s the ghosts of so many……..

Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes is definitely “out there”. Lots of talk about Psychology and Jungian Theory. OMG. I’m still trying to get my head around it, though the exercise in that alone is worthwhile.

0251DB1F-9549-4E04-9D8A-243136CCC750

It was recommended by an Australian author who writes Chook Lit for women ( romantic fiction based in a rural environment), who claims the book gave her strength. Interestingly, in real life with a farming background and working on the family property, after her divorce she left the farm whilst the son in law ( with minimal farm skills) was asked to stay on. Good old patriarchy. I’de be so bitter and bloody twisted. Not this lass. She has moved on and is bringing marvellous new environmental concepts to farming communities. Way to go, girlfriend! That’s the way to beat’em!

The plan was that most of my projects could be completed in here without disruption. Not all things go to plan though, do they?

Sometimes, this is where I come to do nothing. Sometimes doing nothing is more important than doing something.

Across the corridor is also the coffee machine and the bar fridge, which you may read as meaning that I’m never without sustenance nor inspiration.

What about you. Do you have a space to call your own?

EA144C70-6E65-4B74-9ADC-EE9C4E5E9BB1