Tuesday, March 30, 2010


My goodness! I blinked! I just couldn’t control my errant eyelids! Honestly, I tried to harness them! Truly, I did!

Easter is already here...well, almost! It’s entirely my fault because I blinked! Vent your anger now! Rid yourself of the ire within! Go on! I can handle it! However, you’ll soon forgive me once you get stuck into your cache of chocolate! I won’t notice your tantrum, anyway! I’m too busy laying out a trail for the Easter Bunny to follow. Also, I’m constructing a few nests just in case the Easter Bird remembers me from days of old and decides to fly in for a swift visit! When we were kids it was the Easter Bird who laid the luscious eggs and deposited them to my brother and me. The Easter Bunny didn’t exist in our household.

By the way, I apologise (not really) to all you pedantic folk out there whom I may upset with my following words. I can’t quite wrap my head (or mouth) around an Easter Bilby. The bilby just doesn’t fit into my whole scheme of Easter feastings. I think it’s taking eco-political correctness a little too far over and beyond the rabbit-proof fence!

(I suppose it’s not in good taste to put rabbit on the menu for Easter Sunday lunch!}

The Easter Bunny isn’t a modern creation. He’s been hopping around since the pagan festival of Eostre (y’oster), the great Germanic/Teutonic Mother Goddess of Fertility. Perhaps that’s why bunnies breed like rabbits or vice versa! But, of course, way back in Eostre’s day it wasn’t the rabbit that was so highly revered – it was the lowly hare! So when Easter Sunday dawns, look out your back or front windows - side ones, too, for that matter. Steal a moment of reflective gratitude. Doff your garden hats at our most humble, regular visitor who has no idea when Easter is, least of all, the role he plays in it. Each day rolls into the other as far as he’s concerned. He needs no calendar. From now on, I’m going to conduct daily searches under the rhubarb and in my vegetable patch. Maybe I’ll find chocolate eggs there every day of the year. Wow! Just ponder that thought! Hares abound up here on the mountain!

As legend goes, my brother and I weren’t too far off the mark with the Easter Bird.

The tale is that Eostre was late in coming once. A child found a bird close to death. She went to Eostre for help. The Goddess turned the wounded bird into a snow hare, which then brought rainbow eggs.

Ancient cultures decorated eggs in celebration of spring as far away as 3000 years ago, or further. The word “Easter” was adopted by the Christian religion much later. The Goddess of Spring and Dawn or Our Mother God was in the form of a bird - ‘twas she who created the Great Egg!

No males (or rabbits, hares or bilbies) figured at that point in time!

What a peaceful, harmonious world it must have been! Oops! Sorry, you menfolk out there! I got a bit eggcited at the image! The myths and sutras from that time are all feminine! I could rave on forever about this one! The bra-burning ladies of the Seventies’ revolution were right - God is a woman, after all!

My fridge remains the safe sanctuary for my Lindt bunny from a couple of Easters past. There he sits; secure in the knowledge that he and I are lifelong friends. He has nought to fear from me!

Be like him - stay safe and enjoy your Easter!

Seeing that rabbit is off my Easter menu, I’m now even looking quizzically at the chicken!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Will people ever start accepting responsibility for their own actions? It’s disheartening, but “probably never” is the realistic answer!

Reading a “Hints and Money-Saving” article the other day, I had a little grumble (as opposed to my many major grumbles). One bright spark wrote in saying that years ago toothpaste companies made the holes in the toothpaste tubes smaller, whereas these days the holes are larger forcing the consumer to use more! What a lot of hogwash - or tooth-wash! When cleaning my teeth, I’m the only one squeezing the tube, which places me in charge of my individual destiny, and of the amount of toothpaste that oozes onto my toothbrush!

There are many, too many, who find it much easier to blame others if something breaks or goes wrong. Will some never cease passing the buck?

Many parents hand parenting onto teachers. If their child falls behind in class or misbehaves in the schoolyard, it’s the fault of the teacher or the education system.

If a car thief is being chased by police, it’s the fault of the police if the criminal (and yes, folks, car theft is a criminal action) crashes the stolen vehicle. If the political correct “do-gooder-civil-libertarians” jumping up and down waving their arms around and sprouting hot air get their way, soon they, the thieves will have free rein to do whatever they like! It’ll be legal to steal a vehicle! Ummm...I do need a new car!

After the recent Chilean earthquake tsunami warnings were issued. Fortunately, no tsunami eventuated on our shores or elsewhere; instead, those who issued the warnings copped the lashing! If no warnings had been issued and a tsunami hit all hell would’ve broken loose! It’s a case of “damned if you do - damned if you don’t”! That "between a rock and a hard place" does get over-crowded at times.

People have to be accountable for their own actions; for behaviour that causes harm and/or distress to others!

In the home, parents must teach their children well; teach their young to face their responsibilities from an early age; to own up when in the wrong; to face the consequences.

Stop casting blame like the sun casts shadows! When did commonsense go out of fashion? Can anyone tell me?

(The "Alice" theme in this post and my previous is purely coincidental, although some people do appear to live in their own "Wonderland"!)

Friday, March 19, 2010


Forsaking discretion in a previous post, openly I disclosed the theft of my heart by Insp. Morse. Henceforth, I’ve put him aside and moved on to other pastures. Please don’t reprimand my fickle, flirty vagabond heart. After all, to be a cougar is fashionable these days!

Morse shall forever remain dear and near, but one rainy day in February Insp.Thomas (Tommy, to his friends) Lynley, eighth Earl of Asherton entered my life. The tall, handsome, blonde-haired, brown-eyed Lord has barely left my side since! He’s a prisoner in my covetous grasp! Kudos to our mountain library! Over the past weeks I’ve fallen under the spell of author Elizabeth George’s brilliant tomes. Sadly, only a couple of volumes of the Lynley sagas remain to be engorged by me. I rue the day I turn the final page of the final book! The thought of releasing my beloved Tommy makes me shudder!

Falling in love (or is it mere infatuation?) with fictionalized characters is not uniquely a weakness of the young. An ancient like me can become a witless victim, as well! Mr. Darcy is not the sole protagonist capable of setting one’s mollient heart a-fluttering! You find me a real live Earl of Asherton (or Darcy), and we’ll discuss the matter further – okay? Until then, please keep your opinion to yourself!

Have you noticed as you grow older the mirror becomes heartlessly less kind to you?

Upon reflection, one would think that after years of gazing into each other’s eyes, and, on the surface, after all the diligent polishing of the relationship, the situation would be otherwise! Years of familiarity and close inspection make no difference whatsoever! The saying “familiarity breeds contempt” appears to be true in this instance; on both sides of the looking glass!

As my mirrors grow older and crankier, and my pace increases when passing one, I’ll continue to hitch a ride on the turning pages. Therein, my true love, or loves lay! I won’t find him (or them - I’m greedy) walking the aisle of the supermarket! Or could I?

Another painting by me for a niece's little girls...painted and presented late 2009.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I’ll be off to Tipperary in the morning; although, hopefully not on this train:

“Incomprehensibly, the last coach of the train to Tipperary kept getting vandalised. Paddy, the porter came up with a bright idea. "Why don't we just leave the last coach off?"

The Irish are a resilient mob! Not only are they able to take the mickey out of themselves, but they take little, if any, offence at being the brunt of the myriad jokes at their expense.

It’d be a dull old world without the Irish! Without the Irish, we’d be sadly lacking in jokes for one thing! (Where would I be? My gene tree is a blend of Irish and Scottish – not denim as you thought)!

I’ve sorted through my mass collection of Celtic music; polished my dancing shoes to a mirror sheen in readiness for a dose of “Riverdance” to get my heart a-pumping and feet a-tapping; spruced up my Donegal tweed jacket, and sent a text to my leprechaun mate! And I’ve just remembered I have an LP of bagpipe music somewhere! Did you know the Irish invented the bagpipes, and then they gave them to the Scots as a joke? The Scots haven’t seen the joke, yet!

As for St. Patrick – it’s legendary that he chased the snakes out of Ireland, but what the Irish don’t tell us is that St. Pat was the only one who saw the snakes!!! I wonder what he’d been drinking! I’ll hazard a guess by saying too much Guinness or Bushmills! The tenacious Irish are a lyrical mob, poetic by nature, musical by instinct; inherently comical!

"Mulligan gets on a bus and asks the conductor how long the trip is between Limerick to Cork. "About 2 hours," says the conductor. "Okay," says the Mulligan, "then how long is the trip between Cork to Limerick?" The irate conductor answers gruffly, "It's still about 2 hours! Why'd ya think there'd be a difference?" "Well," says Mulligan, "It's only a week between Christmas and New Year's, but it's a helluva long time between New Year's to Christmas!"

“Molly followed her husband to the pub. Taking a sip of his pint of Guinness, she said, "How can you come here and drink that awful stuff?" "See!!" Shamus cried, "And you always said I was out enjoying meself!"

If you’re lucky enough to be Irish – you’re lucky enough! May your troubles be as few and as far apart as my grandmother’s teeth!

Irish Stew: Grab some meat; some potatoes and lots of Guinness. Drink the stout; forget about the stew.

St. Patrick Day Guinness Cupcakes with Expresso Topping

Makes 24 cupcakes: Prep: 25 minutes Cook: 28 minutes

For cupcakes:
½ cup unsalted butter
360ml Guinness
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
2 cups granulated sugar
¾ c. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
¾ cup sour cream
3 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 175C. Fill two 12-count muffin pans with paper baking cups.

2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, Guinness and vanilla. Stir occasionally until butter is melted. Pour into a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.

3. In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, gradually combine with the Guinness mixture in three additions. Beat in the sour cream, then beat in the eggs one by one.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup about three-quarters full. Bake for 22 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Leave in the pan to cool for 5 minutes; finish cooling on a wire rack. Frost when cooled completely.

For frosting:
3 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup butter, cut into cubes and softened
1 ½ tsp. instant espresso coffee, dissolved in 3 tbs. water

1. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter with an electric mixer on low speed to combine. Pour in the espresso mixture and continue beating on medium-high until frosting is smooth and creamy. If frosting is too thick, add water a couple drops at a time to reach desired consistency. Makes enough for 24 cupcakes or an 8-9 inch two-layer cake.

Monday, March 08, 2010


We’ve all experienced an embarrassing moment or three. I admit I’ve gone over my quota! Far too many inglorious disasters to list!

You know those episodes –you’re as red as a beetroot, standing on one leg amongst a group of people! You’re posturing on one leg because your other foot is placed securely in your mouth! With eyes bulging, it’s quite a balancing act, particularly if you’ve got a drink in one hand and a canapÄ— in the other, with no where to hide! Where is that rock when you desperately need it? Moments of major embarrassment when we feel sure that we could glow in the dark!

Humans are colourful beings. We are creatures of many hues, and I’m not referring to race. Homo sapiens can be green with envy; purple with rage; cowardly yellow. Some are black and white; some are grey; and others blue! Many are brown as berries; tanned as leather (or orange from artificial tanning gone wrong)! And, at times, flushed more than that porcelain bowl in the bathroom! The human palette is a kaleidoscopic spectrum greater than the variegations of a rainbow!

Mingled with our mosaic patchwork, we seethe, simmer, boil, rage, rant, laugh and cry, interspersed with periods of calm, peace, empathy, love and mellowness. We humans are a potpourri of ever-changing, mobile ingredients. We go white from shock; ashen with sorrow; scarlet in shame; blush crimson at flattery. When we want to become invisible, we can’t; but we can become transparent when lying – or become dim when unable to understand the punch-line of a joke or when attempting to decipher a mathematical equation!

On top of all of those talents, we’re also adept at making spectacles of ourselves.

What a feat - it’s hard to beat!

Painting by me - for a niece's new baby girl!

Monday, March 01, 2010


To me there has always been something incredibly seductive about restaurant kitchens. I fell under their spell many years ago. Seduced by the unique aroma of cold rooms and glistening stainless steel bench tops; the heat emanating from sturdy ranges, simmering hot pots filled with mysterious ingredients and slippery oil-splattered floors, I knew I had to be part of that weird, wonderful world. I was alive! Like Niagara Falls, my adrenalin copiously flowed! I was charmed, intrigued and captivated! I’m sure many would question my sanity, but don’t worry, I’ve been insane for years so save your time!

After a few years of dangerous manoeuvering one adopts a unique kitchen gait, one that’s even more contagious than the Hokey-Pokey! Without it, danger lurks in every step and corner!

Akin to curtains rising upon a stage show, the doors of the restaurant open, and the show begins! Eager diners stream in, and their orders take over the kitchen, staring at you from spikes above the ranges…the spell is broken in a blink! It’s all systems go! If you don’t have all the preparation done, the restaurant may as well remain closed. All hell will break loose otherwise! You’ll be so behind the eight-ball, you’ll never catch up. Disaster lies in ambush! One’s focus must remain unbroken until the last meal is served. It’s a very stressful, but rewarding job - one not for the faint-hearted.

These days I prefer a leisurely lunch spent with a good friend like the one I had over the weekend here at my personal dining table, or the one I shared at same friend’s home a couple of weeks ago. Both were lots of fun, just kicking back over a wine or two, simple, but excellent food, while being entertained by music from the Sixties, causing much reflection on the days of our youth – a time of mental growth; a time of taking both tentative and brash steps towards discovering our respective place in life. The Sixties were a magical mystery tour!

I’m glad I was part of it all – and can remember that I was!

To quote Bob Dylan: “People today are still living off the table scraps of the Sixties. They are still being passed around -- the music and the ideas.”