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Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

You know that awful feeling that you get in the pit of your stomach when you receive an ‘official’ government letter?  Well, I have had cause twice recently to wonder and on opening the letters have discovered that big brother is indeed alive and well and watching (out) for us.

I have always thought that its  bad manners to discuss with a lady her age, but oh no – there it is boldly emblazoned on both the letters –
Dear Maria (hmm – very familiar given that I don’t know this person from a lump of coal) – Congratulations on reaching 50!  Congratulations my arse – so what – we all get there sooner or later.  And then proceeding to tell me of the possible decline of my health and offering all the screening tests under the sun!  Hey gently guys, gently – many people start to feel a little fragile around that blessed 50 number!  Yep, BB is watching us all…

And that throw-away comment I made a few weeks ago about the loss of Spring was a tad too quick.  This week we have been sweltering in Summer temperatures with the last four days reaching the high twenties – and with little relief in sight!  Still, we shouldn’t complain – at least we are coming in the warmer weather unlike our European friends who can only look forward to cold and colder!!!

Busy getting ready for the departure of good friend Meredith who is heading west to the tiny community of Mt Perry and her hubby Andrew.  Wonder what the weekend will bring?

😀

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We have woken each morning this week to the heavy all-pervading smog of thick smoke.  Not that unusual for this time of the year – they often back-burn the state forests and sometime also on Fraser Island, but this year it is heavier than usual.  The very wet summer last year meant that many of the local sugar cane farmers could not harvest all their crops and were left with a lot of stand-over cane.  This grows thick and full of thrash (outer leaf) to the point where it becomes a thick, matted mess that doesn’t allow the sunlight to penetrate to the ground – and that means that the ground doesn’t dry out.  And the way they deal with it is to burn the cane, something that doesn’t happen too much in a good year much these days.

Hence the smoke.  And of course, where there is smoke, there is increased particles in the air. And of course when this occurs, you get the most amazing red moons rising.  With the full moon this week, the nights were just stunning! 

Reminds me of our trip out from Beijing to the Ming Tombs, with the pink moon just dipping to touch the horizon on our left and the red red sun just having emerged from the horizon on our right!  When we asked our guide about why the sun was red that day, he looked at us most quizzically and said “Today?  The sun is red.  It is always red!” And no matter how much we tried to explain, he could not comprehend that the sun in fact is not red, and that he was always looking at it through a pollution haze.  I felt really sad for him.

Its been a great week.  Monday night saw Don and Catherine visit.  We love their annual stop on their way north or south – they are great company and there are always plenty of travel and family stories to share.  Of course the topic of conversation with any of the family at the moment is the upcoming wedding of Michael and Carline in Jamaica.  We are all frantically trying to find ways to get there!

Last night was our annual fondue party.  Now, this is often a big affair held downstairs with upwards of 6 + fondues and often 30 – 40 guests.  But this year we decided to just go intimate.  So 8 of us sat down first to a Neuchâtel Fondue (cheese fondue to the uninitiated!) then to a Chinoise Fondue (thin slices of meat cooked in broth).  These were followed by a Spiced Dark Chocolate Fondue and a Caramel Fondue (requested by Shayne!)

We dipped sourdough bread and mixed vegetables (mushrooms, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, baby sweet corn and potato) into the cheese.  Now, that cheese was the best.  I buy the Fondue blend from Fromart Cheese where they take all the effort out, selling pre-grated, blended packs of  cheese suitable for fondues.  We ate the lot, and yes, we even scraped out that small round disc of baked on cheese from the base!  Then we sat back as chicken, beef and pork simmered away in the broth.  I had made the most amazing chicken stock for the broth earlier – well worth the effort!  These were accompanied with home-made tomato and piquant sauces. Mmmm.  We drowned them with glasses of Vicars Choice Sauvignon Blanc, a lovely Torres Spanish red that I was given for my birthday and an Eaglehawk Cab Sav.

The dessert fondues this year were also great – served with sliced bananas, whole local strawberries at their peak from Boswell Strawberries, marshmallows, cubes of the last piece of pannetonne from last Christmas and for a fun touch, with part mix soft lollies.  Yep, were good – not a single drop of either left!!!  To match them we drank Moscato, some of that magical Francois Peyrot Pear Cognac and more of that rocket-fuel Caol Isla whiskey.

James phoned this morning with another food distributor that sells all the chemicals need to prepare spherical foods – goody goody – more new toys!  And Antony and Amanda are looking forward to Monday when they collect their new car.  Yep, a great week!

And to cap it all off – it is our darling little Mathilda’s first birthday.  I am waiting for Michael to get home from volunteering at the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum and for Gen to wake up after a nightmare night shift so we can Skype with her and mum and dad, Steph and Felix, loudly singing Happy Birthday.

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This is a beautiful time of the year here in Maryborough.  The weather has cleared and we seem to (thankfully) have seen the last of the rain for the moment.  This means that the nights and mornings are cooler and more importantly, not as humid.  The birds seem to love the autumn as well – you would hardly believe the cacophony that they raise at dawn and dusk.

And when the air is cool and the clouds have left for the sea, the night sky is so clear. Even though we live right in town, because the football grounds are across the road from us, there is less lighting around us and so the stars shine brightly.  It is one of the things that couchsurfers often comment on.  Michael has an incredible knowledge of the night sky and can spend hours pointing out all sorts of interesting things.

Our neighbours Frank and Mary are home again.  They have spent much of the last six months visiting their girls and their families.  Frank says its nice to be home and that they won’t be going anywhere for a little while.  We and they are despairing of our yards at the moment.  We both have had lawn grub through the lawn and it is all but dead, allowing a plethora of weeds to flourish.  Michael tried unsuccessfully to get some Weed’n’Feed yesterday so I guess we are not the only ones with the problem.

Well, as the day wore on, the temperature rose.  At Hervey Bay it was warm and humid, just begging for another storm (that never arrived).  Vicki says that she heard on the ABC radio that there is a 75% chance of a wetter than normal winter  <groan> great, just great . . . NOT.  We had a crazy day at the pawn shop today after the long weekend and I am sure that the weather didn’t help.

On the Funding Power side, I am picking up a few new clients, so that is nice.  Helps me to validate my decision and it is nice to know that my name is somewhat out there. 

My fantastic mother-in-law is 88 tomorrow.  She has her younger sister and her husband visiting at the moment, but will be up in a few weeks for a visit.  Still living in her own home and gets out to meet her friends almost daily!  What an inspiration!

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Last night we joined David, Joyce, Amity and Mamma Misa for dinner to celebrate David’s birthday.  Joyce and Mamma Misa had cooked up a storm – dishes with the rich flavours of the Philippines – OH, so delicious!  Thanks guys – it was great sharing with you!

Hels called by this morning for a coffee and we agree that the only reason that we are not travelling now is the lack of that little thing called money.  Each time we catch up, there is always a memory to be shared from our trip together through part of France and Italy – its such fun to re-live a little of it, but gee, it really gets us yearning!

It’s been ages since we played cards and tonight Shayne and Vicki are coming up from the Bay so we can play Canasta – we had to go and buy a new deck of cards because our old one has two cards missing.  Who would have thought that buying a pack of cards would be so hard – the department store didn’t have any and neither did the newsagent.  Thinking laterally Michael found them at the tobacconist!  We eventually played Samba with the last hand played after dinner.  Michael and Vicki got up over Shayne and I – bugger.

I managed to put (in two lots) the photos that I have culled from the 79,000 onto an SD card and we played them on the TV while we had dinner – didn’t take any  at all to run through them.  Cooked Beef cheeks in a tomato harrisa sauce and served it with some of the lovely Italian White Polenta that I bought back from Sydney.  We topped off the night with a delicious Lemon Meringue Pie Vicki had baked.  MM-mmmm!

This weekend is ANZAC Day here in Australia.  Since Antony joined the Australian Army, it has taken on a new significance for us.  And this year I guess it will be even more special because of our visits to the WWI and WWII battlefield sites in France, Belgium and the various memorials in the UK last year.

There is nothing more moving than standing in a cemetery filled with white headstones or white crosses, and walking through them, realising that many of those who died in (at that time) inhospitable lands far from home were merely youngsters – nothing to see 17 and 18 year olds.  I could never walk through the whole cemetery, it was just too heart-wrenching.  Michael however, walked amongst them all paying his respects while I cowered in the car.

On our second visit to Ieper in Belgium we went down to the Menin Gate for the playing of the Last Post.  Lots of school students in groups and quite a few of them in their ignorance were less than respectful of the occasion.  And even though I was rightly angry that night at having to stretch over their heads with the camera to get a photo (yes, they had pushed to the front), and strain over their giggles to hear the service, it is my sincere hope that they never have to know first hand of the cause or need for such sacrifice.

We went to the ‘In Flanders Field’ Museum that was amazing and where I picked up a range of war stories and poetry books.  Never will I forget the impact of standing in a field with the well known “In Flanders Fields” poem rushing through my head and heart.  I’ll leave you with it as we count down to the dawn:

IN FLANDERS FIELDS

 In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

1915, John McCrae

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