Thursday, June 23, 2011

Life's Twists and Turns

Just when you think you've got your life in some sort of order - things change.  Things you didn't 'see' impinge on your life and your direction is forced to change.  It is like driving a car with a destination in mind, but a range of road blocks or challenges jump out and you have to detour.

I have been house sitting for some time, and this weekend I was moving from one house in the western suburbs of Brisbane (Paddington) to one in the eastern/bayside suburb of Wakerley and all was on track but my father's health has deteriorated in Adelaide, so midst moving I have had to change plans and fit in a trip to Adelaide.  This week all air traffic in Australia has been disrupted by the volcanic ash which floated across the skies from Chile and made air travel unsafe.

As well I had other events - speaking at a forum, doing some research on Literacy and Numeracy - along with some family issues that were disrupting.

Meanwhile I try to focus on my studies too - and finish of my China Story and the Irish Story.........

Plus I have been doing the 31 Days Blog Challenge and sleep is evading me at the moment.  My head is spinning with the overload. 

But that is life's twists and turns.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A book about Nurses and Nursing

I'm still working on doing something - but someone else has written a lovely book called "What I wish I knew about nursing" - Allie and Marty Wilson are the authors and I was pleased to be asked by Allie a long time ago to contribute.

So, inside the book - which features photos and stories about nurses - there is a photo of several nurses in rather strange outfits - a group of us performed for the Nurses Ball - way back in 1965 I think, at Mt Gambier.  We were all nursing students at the time.

Go to this website to read about it.  What I wish I knew about nursing

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The film "33 Postcards"

I certainly look forward to seeing this movie which had its world premiere at the 57th Sydney Film Festival which finishes today.  It will be featured next week in the Shanghai Film Festival.  I certainly look forward to seeing it - and hope it is released to the movie theatres here in Australia soon.

Australian Guy Pearce teams with Claudie Karvan and the little Chinese girl is played by Zhu Lin.  It was filmed in Australia and China - with  Portal Pictures and Zhejiang Hengdian Film Productions in association with IFS Capital Limited and Screen NSW.

(Information from Film Ink - read the full article here.)

You can see a trailer here

The Hengdian Film studios are in Zhejiang province - an hour or so drive away from where I lived when I was in China.  Friends had the opportunity to go there, but I did not.  Wish I had.  They have totally recreated the enormous Forbidden Palace there, and I believe it is one of the biggest movie studios in the world.

You can see more here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Celebrating the Queen's Birthday.

The celebration of the monarch's birthday goes way back to 1748, and we don't celebrate on the monarch's actual birthday.  Queen Elizabeth II was actually born on April 22nd, and her consort (husband) the sometime crabby Duke of Edinburgh, celebrated his 90th birthday a few days ago - he was born on June 10th 1921 - the son of Greek monarchs.

Queen Liz as she may (unofficially) be called was born in 1926, so she has another 5 years to go for her 90th!

We celebrate her birthday around the second Monday of June and it is a public holiday - Queen's Birthday Weekend - a loooong weekend. 

The main official recognition of this event are the Queen's Birthday Honours - where people are honoured in some way.  The media gets to put up a list of the many who have won and feature key ones.

As for the people?  It is a good day to get together with the family.  A BBQ perhaps, or a picnic (weather permitting).  Our family are meeting and having lunch together.

I have also taken the time to reflect on my life 12 months ago.  I was still in Shaoxing China, preparing to finalise exams, and student reports, as I left China on June 30th, 2010.  It seems a long time ago

I was reminded of this a couple of days ago as I chatted with the owner of the house where I am 'house sitting' - she is finalising exams, student reports ready to leave.

I am still in touch with students - some from way back in 2008.

I'd love to go back - just need the $$$'s for a visit next time.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chinese Bakeries here in Australia

I remember when I lived in China, that we longed for 'real bread' as the Chinese variety was very sweet.  We would occasionally find something to our liking in a supermarket but their turnover of product was so high, it could be there one day, and not the next.

However, we did enjoy some of the baked items -though it took us a while to get accustomed to some of the products. Some of the savoury buns with meat in them did not appeal, but some of the sweet things were just so yummy.

Imagine my surprise a few months ago to find a Chinese bakery right in the heart of the city - in the big Myer centre!  And there were one of my favourites - sesame balls.  They are filled with a rather strange paste (green bean paste I think) but coated with a type of batter and rolled in sesame seeds.

One of my favourite Asian items were rice cakes, perhaps found more commonly in South Korea, and I used to buy some every shopping trip to the supermarket.  I don't know how they are made, but they were in different colours - white, pale green, pink.  And so yummy.

I have found that there are a few Breadtop stores in Brisbane, but I have learned that they have been in Australia since 2002.

Their decorated cakes are amazing - no doubt high in calories, but just so wonderfully decorated.  I remember being in awe of the cakes in shops in South Korea and China. Awesome.

Sesame Ball

On Blogging

As some of my friends know I have been blogging for a long while - I started originally in 2005 I think, when I went to Ireland and I though it would be a good way to communicate with family and friends back home.  I thought it would be easier than emailing and it was.  I used Typepad which I had to pay for so eventually I found sites where I could blog for free.  Over the years I have been active in a number of blogsites including BlogEvolve (I abandoned that after there was no support from the site owner, Hub Pages (which I still visit occasionally and write an article or two), and various other sites.  I found Blogger easy to use, and rather like Wordpress but I always found that a challenge for some reason.

I've not found that many of my friends (even the writers) have been keen to use blogs though I have taught some the rudiments of blogging, indeed have set some up with Blogger which I think is the easiest for those who have few skills in the IT Department. 

Strangely I have not connected with bloggers in Australia - my readers are more likely to come from US or UK.  I don't know why.

Somehow through Facebook I found the 31 Days Blogging Challenge, which is currently underway having started on June 1st.  There are only a few Aussies listed in the Challenge and from what I have seen they are not as active in the Challenge as they could/should be.

So I went searching to connect with other Bloggers in Australia.  I found a couple of interesting sites.  One is called All for Women and another is Blog Chicks.  I will register with them both, and see what happens.

One of my aims is to make some money from my blogging.  Easier said than done I think.  So I am out to learn all I can.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ballet - Puyi

I attended the ballet last night of the Laoning's "The Last Emporer" which was based on the story of Puyi.

The ballet was wonderful.   Below is the promotional video.

I was disappointed that there were so many empty seats in the theatre. 

I met up with two single older men (don't worry, I wasn't 'looking' and clearly neither were they.  One of them told me he attends performances at the QPAC 3 to 5 times a week.  Oh, to be so lucky.  Even consession tickets are expensive!

I was glad to escape the cold of Brisbane - 10 degrees below normal and it felt it.  I wore for the first time, the coat that the students had made for me in China - complete with the dog fur fringe on the hood!!

I was still so cold that I had to have the coat over my knees in the theatre.

To read a little about The Last Emporer of China, click here.

Puyi wrote his autobiography.  You can get it at Amazon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

About Oranges and Sunshine

I was fortunate to receive free tickets to attend the movie "Oranges and Sunshine" which is based on the story of Margaret Humpreys, a social worker in Nottingham, in the UK, who discovered that many English children were transported to Australia over a 30 - 40 year period, to a life in institutions. Margaret's book "Empty Cradles" tells some of the stories of those children so cruelly taken from their mothers.

 Many were told their parents were dead, which was in fact not true.  Various organisations with government approval (UK and Australia) were part of this horrible program that saw these children shipped to Australia in huge numbers, to a life of violence, drudgery, and for many physical and sexual abuse.

David Hill wrote about it in his book "Forgotten Children".  The truth is a very sad indictment on the treatment of these children, by religious and non-religious groups.

A search will discover many stories including those about the children at Bindoon, and other orphanages and there are details of the perpetrators of those cruel acts agains the children here.

The movie is excellent, and quite confronting at times, and tells the stories of several of the children, then adults, who related the horrific experience.  Some were reunited with their families.  It is a movie worth seeing, if not to learn the truth about some of our Australian and UK history.  Full marks to Margaret Humphreys who was able to help find some closure for those adults trying to come to terms with the horrific lives they had, when they were promised 'oranges and sunshine.'

I wrote a story about my mysterious knife here

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Make my own movies?

I am currently looking at a program to create my own movies.  I have a plan and this program looks easy.  I am currently working with the free model - but no doubt will purchase.  I can see a number of possibilities with this. Check it out here.

Here's one I have just done - took me all of 5 minutes, and now I know I can do better ones.

Create your own video slideshow at

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another Movie

I had procrastinated about seeing the Australian movie "Snowtown" because I knew the story - about a serial killer in South Australia, who hid the bodies in barrels in the vault of a disused bank in the town of Snowtown which is north of Adelaide.

I knew it would be gruesome and confronting and it was. I could use the word "dark" to describe it in more ways than one.  Dark in that the filming was done in poor light - no doubt deliberately and there were moments of blank screen as well, and dark in relation to the topic of the film that endeavoured to tell the story of these dreadful misfits, the lives they lead, and the crimes that were committed.

It is a movie that I would not recommend to anyone, other than perhaps some of my fellow Scriptwriting students to assess for themselves the value of the film.

Monday, June 6, 2011

What can I do with a Can of Crabmeat?

I bought a can the other day, and used it in one of my favourite recipes - Avocado and Crabmeat (I fill the hole where the big seed was, with crabmeat, and then cover with a cheese sauce and then bake it until the cheese has turned golden.)

However, not all the contents of the can were used.  It had sat in the refrigerator for two days, so I knew I had to do something with it.  I looked at a few recipes, but in the end decided to 'do my own thing.' My family hated me creating, because I seldom remembered the EXACT ingredients, etc. They'd tease me because they knew I could probably never recreate it.

I was going to make a quiche, but I chose not to use pastry - I could make it - usually do, as I am not a fan of pre-packaged stuff.  But I figured I could do without the extra calories, so I whipped up a couple of eggs, some pepper (some folk add salt but I seldom do), a spoon full of plain flour, the crab meat and some shallots and parsley, and a handfull of grated cheese.

It is in the oven cooking and should be great.  I can see it rising and am waiting for it to brown on the top.

So it is Crab Quiche (without the pastry) for lunch, and a variation of Maggie Beer's Chook Legs with Vino Cotto for dinner tonight. 

This past week The Courier Mail has run a promotion with a mini cook book each day.Famed cooks such as Jamie Oliver, Stephanie Alexander, Donna Hay, Matt Moran, Maggie Beer, and more have each contributed a small book of wonderful recipes.  I have them all.  Though I cook for only one, I can manage most, but am happy to vary things a little.

Friday, June 3, 2011

History remembered

Readers may know of my love of China - having spent just 3 semesters there in 2008 and 2010.  I have been to Tiananmen Square - not far from the awesome Forbidden City in Beijing.  My friend and I stood in the huge square and remembered what had happened there in 1989, on June 4th.

Many Chinese even now know nothing about it, and those who have heard about it find it hard to believe.  You cannot access any material about the massacre  on Chinese internet.  There is no reference to it in Chinese history books.

I still watch these videos in awe with tears streaming.  There are other videos on Youtube.  These two will tell you the story of what happened there, and how a government turned on its young people to show is might.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Australian Movies for Release in 2011

Australians have a love/hate relationship with Australian movies.  We have some very very talented movie makers in our country, a small population many of whom are besotted by American movies.  Our Australian film industry languishes – especially as there is more money available for investing in film and the publicity of such film in America than there is here.  One challenge is our small population – just 21 million people live here, and they are not all English speakers.

Still each year, we have our successes.  I like to encourage Australians to take a greater interest in Australian movies.  Here I list some of the movies due for release in 2011.
  •  Wasted on the Young
  •  Dreamland
  •  Hail
  •  The Eye of the Storm
  •   Happy Feet 2
  •  Mrs Carey’s Concert*
  •   Here I am
  •   Mad Bastards
  •   Snowtown*
  •   Griff the Invisible
  •  Oranges and Sunshine*
  •  The Reef

Three movies have been released or are about to be released, and I have marked them '*'  - Oranges and Sunshine is due for release next week, and I will be in attendance at the morning session.
I am not sure about seeing Snowtown - it is a story of a partiscularly gruesome series of murders in the South Australian town of Snowtown.  I will have to be in a very good mood before I venture into the theatre to see it - but I will.
Mrs Carey's Concert is in the theatres now, and I hope to see it soon.

There is also another movie not included in the list above about Cane Toads, which is due to open shortly.  Sounds rather fun and I will endeavour to find out more about that film.  Sometimes information about the films is not readily available until shortly before the film's release but I will endeavour to get more information. 

For more information read the longer article here.