...with love all things are possible

Believe ...

Believe ...

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Bonfire with Dad-Dad

                 “Shall I throw more moss on the bond-fire?” Nicky asks, his little face serious, intent on the job he’s doing.
                  “OK, just do it carefully,” says Dad-Dad, sighing; this has to be the 20th time Nicky’s asked the same question.
                  Nicky pushes his sleeves back, takes a deep and serious breath which he releases through his teeth as he chooses the piece he wants from the pile.  Solemnly he carries it over to the bonfire in outstretched arms, taking sturdy steps.
                  “I’m helping keep the flames back, aren’t I?” he looks over his shoulder, nodding and making the curls on his head bounce. “This is important work.” With respect he stares at the fire whilst he throws in his handful of moss, careful to keep his feet on the invisible mark Dad-Dad has pointed out.
                  “Dad-Dad, can I stand a little closer?”
                  “Should I watch from here?”
                  “Yes, don’t go any nearer than that.”
                  “Why not?”
                  “Because the fire’s hot, Nicky.”
                  “Why is the fire hot?”
                  “Because it’s burning the dead leaves and branches.”
                  “Is that why it crackles, Dad-Dad?” Nicky bends down and selects a twig from the ground.
                  “I guess so.”
                  “What makes the crackles?”
                  “I think it’s the branches when they snap in the flames, Nicky.”
                  “Why aren’t you sure?” Nicky asks, inspecting the details on his twig, without losing a moment of the bonfire or the conversation.
                  “Because … um let me see … because, I don’t really know.”
                  “Why don’t you know?”
                  Dad-Dad is losing his patience.  As Dad-Dad turns, Nicky flings his twig into the fire, poker-faced.  He is stands watching the flames hands on hips, his chubby little feet slightly apart.  The silence seems to startle him and Nicky turns to meet Dad-Dad’s baffled gaze with a sharp questioning look.  A little furrow begins to form in his brow where his annoyance always shows first.
                  “But, why don’t you know Dad-Dad?”
                  “I – er, I just don’t know Nicky.”
                  “But why?
                  “Look Nicky, I have no more answers in my head right now, can we have a little break?”
                  “Why? Did your head get empty?” Worried, Nicky glances around the area where Dad-Dad has been working.
                  “Yes, that’s right.  It got empty.  Maybe in ten minutes or so something will pop back in again.  Who knows.”
                  “Oh.” Nicky’s shoulders sag a little and he stares at the ground shoving his hands in his pockets.
                  “Run along now Nicky, go inside and find Mum-Mum.”
                  Nicky’s eyes light up, he pulls his hands from his pockets and looks hopefully at his grandfather. “Do you think she’ll have some answers in her head, Dad-Dad?”
                  “Yes, Nicky, I’m sure she will,” grins Dad-Dad, a naughty twinkle in his blue eyes.
                  Without a backward glance, Nicky kicks open the garden gate and runs off to find his grandmother.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Three green apples

Photo by Jackie Richards

Three green apples on the trampoline
Early one morning
When London was asleep.

Three green apples standing in a row,
When no one was watching
Thought they’d have go.

“You go first then,” Middle said to Babe.
“No, let One-Eye first,” he
Squeaked a little scared.

“Fine!  I’ll be first to go,” he said with confidence,
But that’s when she came out
And snapped this pic instead.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Pita Bread - doing it better


    I need to stick around my sisters a whole lot more, for many different reasons.  But the reason today, is because they know so much more about food and interesting ingredients than I do.

    Being just a foolish “look-and-cook” person, I never really pay much attention to recipes and cookbooks.  I sort of throw thing together on a wing and a prayer – the faster the better – and make do with whatever comes out.

    However ... my sisters, who were both here for a week just before the wedding, rented a beautiful house, which had an empty kitchen.  So off they went on two separate expeditions, to fill the pantry.  Most of the food was consumed with relish.  But I was lucky enough to bring home some leftover ingredients.  Among them:

    Sesame oil.
    Organic olive oil.

    Sounds silly doesn’t it?  But I’m intrigued.  I usually grab the lightest (and cheapest oil) off the shelf, as long as it says ‘olive’ somewhere on the label.

    So I’m getting ready to make my Thanksgiving Pita Bread after practicing the other day, but I’m itching to depart from the recipe (already!)

    Having decided to exchange the white flour I'd used in practice session #1, for whole-wheat flour, I was ready to begin.  But I wanted to kick up the flavor a notch.

    That’s when these two ingredients come into play.

    Who in the world uses Sesame Oil?  Jackie does.  She went to all the trouble of buying a whole bottle of this stuff, to cook a delicious pistachio chicken dinner.  I have the remaining nine tenths of the bottle at home.  Unscrew the lid, put my nose in it, and BANG!  It’s love at first sniff.  Exchange #2 – I’m putting this one in, instead of the regular old pale oil I used the first time.

    Organic Olive Oil?  What’s that all about?  Sharon knows.  She only purchases organic foods now, after spending years learning about processed foods and the damage they can cause.  She bought this oil for her divine pasta dish and I’m the lucky recipient of the remaining three fourths.  Sprinkled some herbs into it and I’m learning all about the glories of dipping bread.  I never thought oil could taste like this.

    The sesame whole-wheat pita bread with organic dipping oil was gobbled up.  Smelling it cook and watching it be devoured was fascinating.  

    Thanks Jackie and Sharon!

    (I’ll tell you about the duck-liver pate I whipped up, in the black dish, another time.  It’s gone too.)

The Dorchester Sc. III

(A scene from "The Dorchester" ... a one act play about relationships.)

“But why does she pick on Bettina all the time, Dad?”
“I don’t know, Peter.  Bloody difficult woman to understand, your mother.”
“Yeah.  You can say that again.”
“Opinionated …”
“I’ll say, Peter!  Lately she’s been so opinionated about everything, it’s like she’s the only authority on anything.”
“Must be tough, Dad.”
“It is.  But I just switch off.”
“Good for you.  Wish Bettina could do that, though.  But I guess being the daughter in law she feels she needs to be on her best behavior all the time.”
“Bloody shame, lovely gal that wife of yours.  But as for your mother, there are days when I feel like pushing her down the stairs!”
“Well, in a manner of speaking, Peter.  You see, I’m getting more and more intolerant of it all.  In fact, the other day I came up with the perfect description of her …”
“Laughed the rest of the day about it …”
“Well, what was it then?”
 “She’s … how can I explain … let’s see, prickly, functional and rather ubiquitous, but very unpleasant.  She’s turned into something you would hope to ignore and not have to set eyes on – let alone get up close and personal with …”
“Yes, son, I’m afraid it’s the truth, your mother reminds me of a toilet brush these days …”
“A what, Dad?”
“Oh yes, quite a fancy one, with all the useless bells and whistles, but a toilet brush in the end.”

Thursday, 24 November 2011


I promise I will always adorn your soft brown eyes.  I will be just the right consistency and stay with you all day or all evening.  My sparkles with sparkle, my powder will stick without smudging.
I promise to lie quietly in your bag or on your bathroom shelf; I won’t judge you if you pick one of the others.  I’ll still be here when you want me, ready when you need me.
I promise my little sponges will be supple and helpful in their application task.
I promise … What?  What are you doing?  On no! You’re upset. You’re going to throw me away?  No.  Please don’t throw me away!
I promise I’ll do better – please don’t throw me away.
Wait.  That’s my double sponge applicator – what are you doing?  You’re washing it?  Washing and now … Oh no!  You’re using it to put on something pink and mauve.  Oh dear. 
What happened?  You’ve decided that fashions have changed and you’re not into browns and beiges any more?  Oh no, what am I to do?
Am I being made redundant?  It doesn’t seem possible, I still have so much left to give.  Please you don’t understand!  I’m not old.  I’m not yesterday’s color.
Oh. Help!  I’m being stuffed into a box; it’s a dark smelly box full of other bits of smelly old makeup. I'm not like them, I'm still full of sparkle and twinkle.
What a sad day.  I remember the day you took me off the shelf at the store and the sound of your sigh of delight … Oh no!  Please don’t shut the bo …

Argh!  What’s this brightness?  Where am I?  Huh?  I can see little brown eyes, who are you?  You look like a little you.  But that’s not possible; you just had your 20th birthday the other day.
What’s that you’re saying?  You’re going to try Mommy’s old makeup?  Old?
What?  Are you your Mommy’s daughter?  You can’t be more than what … ten?
Oh my goodness, have I been shut in that box for over ten years?
Oh! Oh! Ahhh! You’re lifting me out.  Ahhh, how good this feels.  Yes, yes open my lid and see my sparkly shade of brown.
I promise to always highlight your lovely brown eyes and give you special sparkles.
Old?  No, no I’m not old – I’m ageless, timeless.  I will never let you down.
Cracked?  On no, just work your fingers over the surface of the powder.  Yes, yes, like that!  The shadow will soon come to life for you.
I promise to always be thoughtful and loyal, I promise to always do what I say I’m going to do.  I promise to never be judgmental, I promise to love you unconditionally, to watch over you, to care, to share …
I promise I’ll be perfect eye makeup even if it’s for little girls dressing up with big dreams
I promise to wait here, whether you ever want me again or not.
I promise to always love you always, whether you need me or not.
Just please don’t put me back in the b …

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Down at the beach

Punta del Este, November 2010

Down at the beach
We’re all equal, the same;
Fat ones and thin ones
The bald and the vain.

The backdrop is blue
And the water azure,
The laughter of children
Bad temper can cure.

The waves thunder in
And then leave with a sigh ...
Water’s great breath
Gives us all such delight.

The rich and the poor,
The strong and the weak,
Get even amounts of
Sun, sand, waves and heat.

The great equalizer
All made by one God
At the beach we’re all equal
As He planned that we should.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Pita Bread


         I’m writing this new YA book about a sultan and decided on the spur of the moment yesterday, to do a little research and hands on experience.  So I roped Carlos in (and being the newly wed hubby he said “of course dear, I’d be happy to help.")
Home-made pita bread!  What fun, flour flying everywhere, the blind leading the blind, where each of us wanted to be the leader, yet neither totally prepared to take the fall.
 Recipe in hand, accompanied by ample instructions and pictures, we set about deciphering the language of yeast, cooking stones and kneading versus punching.  We were in hysterics.  It was something like an episode of Laurel & Hardy, with Carlos reading the instructions and me doing the work (perhaps that’s where the mistake was?).
“Put on a surface and kee the dog for ten minutes or till you’re tired,” he reads.
“Kee the dog?” I'm laughing out of control and so is he, (but Laurel & Hardy didn't laugh, did they?)
“Yes! Yes, that’s what is says here.”
“Where are my damn glasses?” Under the flour, of course.  “I still can’t see Carlos, where? Everything’s fuzzy.” Of course, flour all over my glasses as well.
“Here, it says dog,” flour on the recipe now, still can’t read.
“Dough!  OK, that sounds like ‘doe’ as in “Doe, a Deer …” ah forget it, it doesn’t make sense, you don’t sing.” We laugh.
“Yes, yes, like I said, dog-h,” and he tacks on an 'h' to make be happy.
We alternately knead the dough, and push and punch the dog-h, but I tell you what … there was some really, really good pita bread as a result.
Carlos made a bowl of dipping oil with herbs in it … Mmmm.  What a little feast, cup of tea anyone?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Fortnight in Corfu 2

Chapter 2
Over Corfu Sea

“But I want the story to go on!” said David with a pout as I put ny notebook down.
We laughed.  Nothing else had happened after the Easy Jet Airbus cut down through the thick clouds as it banked into Corfu.
“I see raindrops,” Dave announced, peering through the window at the now grey mass outside.
Gone were the puffy happy white fields of clouds we’d seen at 37 thousand feet, being replaced by these ominous rain-filled dirty sheets.
Ravenously the shutter of his camera clicked and clicked as we clawed out of the cloud, hovering now a few miles above the electric green ocean and the island of Corfu.
Everywhere little white houses with red roofs dotted along the shore and up the hills.  Interspersed was the odd hotel, large and ungainly, gashing ugly slashes across the pretty green hillside.
Slower, ever slower we glided over the sea towards the runway which we couldn’t yet see.
“We’re over Mouse Island now,” said Katia.  But it must’ve slipped under the right wing because we never saw it.
“OK, OK we need land now,” said Dave with a tiny hint of anxiety as still the water below rose faster and faster to greet the underbelly of the plane.
With a sudden crackle, the overhead speaker burst into life,
“Brace!  Brace!  This is an emergency!  Brace!  Brace!” Commanded the captain.
Gasps and screams filled the air as we all tucked our heads into our knees.
Katia, grabbed our hands and started to speak in rapid Greek.
“Oh my God we’re going to crash!” I yelled.
“No, No!” said David, “we’re going to be fine.”  He craned his neck to snap a couple more pictures through the window, as if to prove that everything was all right, but through the din I heard him muttering, “Shit … water … close …” and he braced again.
Screaming, wailing, crying, howling noises filled the cabin, coupled with the bitter smell of feces and vomit.  The steward on the overhead speakers attempted to calm the crowd hysteria.
Nano seconds crawled like grey months of winter and the crescendo of panic grew as the passengers fed off one another.
“Remain in your seats!” yelled the steward, “maintain the brace position.  This is only a precautionary measure”
“I don’t think so,” said Katia in English now, “I never heard the under carriage come down.”
“Damn,” said David and I together – but there was no laughter this time.
“Prepare for emergency landing! Brace! Brace!” Ordered the captain and in a split second an eerie silence filled the stinking air, dread and body fluids mixing.
From somewhere in the back, a soft, calming tenor voice began, “Our Father who are in Heaven …” and one by one, from the muffled confines of their laps, strangers became one as they prayed aloud, awaiting the inevitable.
It was a surreal moment when, with a rubbery, bouncy squish the great AirBus touched down on Corfu soil.
Still clicking away, David looked over at us both and grinned, “Kalimera! Welcome to Greece.  I’ve never been happier to see a runway.  I wonder what adventures are in store for us?”

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Fortnight in Corfu 1

Chapter 1
Clouds over Italy

So much happens up here at 37K feet!
“There must be a story in these” said David, pointing at the layer of billowing, pillow-clouds below.
Acres upon acres of great white clusters of cotton wool, packed tightly together giving the impression that if anyone should open the door of the plane and free fall out onto them they would cushion our fall like a child’s bouncy castle, all puffy and comfy.
So we decide to give it a try and grabbing our jackets, we head for the door of the plane.
All of the flight attendants have gathered in the back of the plane to have breakfast together.  The one facing us is asleep. Two others are chattering while nibbling brown bread sandwiches.  The fourth is reading Hello Magazine.
The pilot’s door is securely locked, so there’s no one to stop us.  Katia says she’ll meet us below in a taxi.
With a wink and a nod, Dave pulls the giant handle of the Airbus’s door and with the other releases the lever and SWOOSH it’s open!
Freezing cold air blasts in and racing below the clouds beckon. 
Somewhere a shrill alarm siren sound and is followed by a shout,
“Hey!  You can’t do that!” as the sandwich-eating attendants come belting down the aisle.
“Sorry!  Just did,” I call as the wind snatches my words, my hair and me, and with a pounding heart, we jump.
We’re racing down, human bullets, laughing like mute hyenas, the icy wind piercing our cheeks and eyeballs.  Don’t care.
Huge, tall plumes of wispy clouds push upwards from the mass below as if reaching out to catch us, to buffer our fall.
“Look!” David points … a great pig-shaped mass on his left, which looks like it’s chasing a herd of headless chickens.  Further along, there’s a Cinderella Castle mass of clouds and then through a gap,

“The Alps!” he yells, silent but I can read his lips and follow his pointing finger again.
Spiky and white they jut up through the soft cushion of cloud, crisp with a fresh mantle of snow. White on white, one soft, puffy and ever changing; the other hard, angular and unmoving.
Tears of cold and amazement are torn from the corners of our eyes, making little icicles, which snap off.
We’re headed for the chessboard mass of cloud below and with a thumb up, David releases my hand and curling into a tight ball, falls fast and furious into B-6, canon ball style and disappears.
I’ve opted for swallow dive, arms spread wide, slowing down my fall.
With a gentle FRUMP, I’m caught by A-5 which feels like a giant feather cushion on a trapeze net.
“Amazing!” yells David as he rolls towards me.
“Awesome!  Who’d a thunk it?” I say, laughing and bouncing; feeling like Tigger and Tinker Bell rolled into one.
Gently we come to a stop in a crease between A-5 and B-6, laughing, sides aching, cheeks smarting.
“I told you it would work!” we say in the same breath and collapse in a paroxysm of identical laughter.
With a great creak and a groan, the crease in the chessboard cloud wrenches open and ejected unceremoniously, we’re falling again.
I grab David’s hand in panic and like two side-by-side X’s we’re slowing down enough to lean into the fall and steer towards the nearest peak of a snow-topped Alp.
He grins at me and twirling a finger he makes an old-fashioned water-skiing signal, telling me to turn over.
With a twist we’re now facing the sky just in time to land FRUMP! on our butts in the soft powder-snow.
“Yee-Haw!” he yells as we begin to slip, slide and plummet downwards. 
What a magic carpet ride!  Whizzing past rocks and crevasses we are cradled in a long valley of snow, speeding out of control yet completely oblivious of any danger.
Adrenalin is an amazing thing, even at 37K feet, staring at the clouds through the window of the plane, I get a rush.  Watching David take pictures of the magnificent Alps while Katia snoozes, I revel in my adventure that might have been.
“Amazing,” says David looking over.
“Awesome,” I reply and in the same breath we say,
“It could work, couldn’t it?”

@ 37K feet.

Puffy, billowing pillows
Pouchy, couchy blobs
Cushions and pouffs
Squishy soft balls
Swirling towers
Fields of cotton
Acres of white
At 37K feet
Swelling and swirling
Dunes of the undulating skyscape
Like anthills and molehills
Clouds decorate the sky.

Friday, 4 November 2011

“Marriage” The Prequel

I guess every wedding has its drama and excitement.  As the bridezilla and author of The Prequel, I have elected to believe that my wedding has more than most.  So there.
Remember the part during the rehearsal where Father Don suggests I have the worse case of ADD he’s ever known?  Well, he may be right but then again, maybe it was just a case of the jitters.  Or having spent the six weeks leading up to my return to Florida sleeping in a different bed almost every night.  Who knows?
Anyway, I digress (again).
Everyone’s accepted, except those who declined. 
My siblings have all decided to come and rent a beautiful villa in Celebration for the celebration.  How clever.
“It’s got seven bedrooms!”
“No it’s not.  It’s got six bedrooms.”
“Six, I saw the pictures.”
“Seven, I made the booking.”
“Girls, girls, don’t argue, it doesn’t matter anyway,” says my brother (the only male in this pack of effervescent women,) “I’m sleeping on the sofa however many bedrooms there are.”
Then again, maybe we could get Mum to sleep on the sofa, or not.  Nah, bad idea.
I’ve brought Mum back from England with me three weeks before the date.  Except that in the middle I have a Writing Convention, which I booked months ago.  Carlos, God bless him, has volunteered to stand in for the three days I’m away.  I’m sure that’s the LAST time he’s doing that.  Now I did notice a lot of the duct tape has gone missing … Hmmm.

Thank goodness for my daughter who's agreed to help organize the wedding.  She's doing the lion's share of the work!  Anyone want to hire a FANTASTIC wedding/party planner?  Send me an email cathrathbone@gmail.com.  Even my son is roped in to help.  Mum’s “helping” too.  So we go out and shop for a dress and shoes for her.  We go walking round the lake.  We go out to the park, we go out to lunch, we go to the beach, we go ... slower and slower while I get more and more frantic realizing that I’m running out of time.  
Never mind.  I’m only making 100 Canelones.  You know how that goes, right?
Cook 100 pancakes.
Cook meat filling for 100.
Cook spinach and onion filling for 100.
All the while fielding the constant barrage of looping questions.
“What are the Canelones for?”
“The wedding.”
“When is the wedding?”
"October 29th"
“Who’s coming to the wedding?”
And there’s NO MORE ROOM in the freezer.
Never mind.  Carlos (and Mum) have volunteered to fill and roll the Canelones while I’m away.  Hip Hip Hooray.  So I stuff all the extra contents of our tiny freezer into the door shelf, then wedge the spinach into the ice-maker and hope for the best.  Shut it all with a bungee cord and hope Mum doesn’t decide she wants some ice in her drink tomorrow.
I’m back from my (fabulous) Convention, the Canelones are rolled and stuffed and looking amazing.  Carlos to the rescue again.  Until ...
"Who's there?"
Enter Bell.  
What’s that I hear you say?  I’ll tell you:
Carlos and I sit down for a quiet cuppa, before Mum wakes up, and he's telling me something when all of a sudden I see the right side of his lip stop moving.  I'm staring.  It droops and then his right eye goes saggy as well and he sees me staring.
"Que pasa?" he says as a rivulet of tea dribbles down his chin.
I'm thinking ... stroke?
Take Mum?  
Leave Mum?
I call the doctor who says “drop everything and come.”
So we go. I leave Mum sleeping, with a note and a prayer that everything'll be fine.
Pretty lady doctor walks in and almost right away diagnoses Carlos with Bell's Palsy, not a stroke.  Phew.  While it’s not a walk in the park, BP is a temporary condition, which paralyzes one side of the face and can last from ten days to six months.  Not fun, not pretty, but not life-threatening.  
Get back and Mum’s standing in the drive.  How long?  We’ll never know.  There’s a chain of notes from her inside – I feel terrible, will this awful guilt ever go away?
I’m getting cancellations.  Hungry friends we’ve counted on are pulling out.
A cousin gets the flu at the same time that her husband slips in the pool while on a cruise. Injury is made worse by dropping a stapler on the throbbing limb – the heavy old fashioned type (stapler that is) – then husband limps off to the pharmacy to get a flu shot while riddled with wife’s germs.
A lovely single friend who's 6'4" and thrilled about Canelones, has had too many parties over too many weekends and can't come.
My younger sister and brother arrive.  Sister’s luggage is lost somewhere between the Canary Islands and Florida.  Luckily the booze is in the hand luggage and she loves shopping.  You know where they go.  
“But your fascinator is in the suitcase,” she cries.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure the bags will appear.”
They do.  Two days later they arrive in Fort Lauderdale (we’re in Orlando, though) and by a fascinating twist of macabre events, the airline returns the next day to take the suitcases away!  No one can trace them.  The number my sister’s been given is only for calling the airline whilst in Spain (fat lot of good that is to someone who’s abroad.)  So she calls her lovely muchacho in Spain, who calls the number.  Guess what?  I finally understand why they make up so many jokes about Gallegos.  The phone number doesn’t work from Spain either.
You think I’m making it up?  Nope.
Arriving in Celebration, we confirm the house does have seven bedrooms, but the “luxury” part seems lost in translation.  Mattresses that have midnight conversations, doors so warped they don’t close, and not a salt cellar or sponge in sight!  Toilet paper?  You’ve got to be kidding me, not even the cardboard cylinder left.  All makes for a great laugh and hilarious storytelling.
And this is only the beginning of the prequel…