Monday, 19 May 2014

A Milestone Birthday

Hiding in denial has done little to change the fact that I had a milestone birthday yesterday, a big one….a really, really big one.  I am of two minds about it.  In one way, I feel heartache that the best of my youth and vigour are apparently behind me.  This feels particularly true when I look too closely in the mirror or lament the southerly movement of a few body parts.  On the other hand, as my darling husband tells me, “it’s better than the alternative”….you know being dead.  Yes, he is pragmatic, my husband.

I thought long and hard about how to mark this milestone.  A family trip to Bali? (too politically unstable at the moment), a big bash? (anyone who knows me knows I HATE being center of attention so definitely not),  a small bash? (well we’re still working on building a new social network in Perth, and I cried my way through the last one in Melbourne, so no), dinner at a fancy, expensive restaurant? (nah).

Then a couple of weeks ago, Child Wise invited me to give a talk at a fundraiser/awareness-raising event on the issue of child sexual abuse and child trafficking, hosted by a small NGO in Perth called ‘Bird on a Wire” on my actual birthday day.    In the end, this seemed a more fitting way to remember this personal milestone whilst at the same time bringing attention to an issue close to my heart in this place I now call home.

After the event yesterday afternoon, I came home to a bottle of Moet & Chandon on ice.  J was out for a walk with neighbours so C2 and I just sat, talked, sipped our champagne and reflected on the life we have had together.  He followed this up with an amazing dinner of grilled Swordfish, Caponata, grilled Asparagus, and grilled bread, all my favorite foods.  That husband of mine is one fine cook!

J took this one and though blurry I think it captures the spirit of my birthday evening

Today, I have found myself continuing to reflect on my life,  I count myself remarkably fortunate that while there have been challenges along the way and my  choices have not been without cost, I have had, to put it simply, a bloody brilliant life and I am so grateful. 

A walk on the doggie beach the day before
J and Murphy

More at the dog beach down the road from our house

It has been a soulful, stimulating, enriching journey; a life populated by a beloved cast of characters some who have accompanied me for only a season, but all of whom in a million ways, contributed to my experience,.  It has been a kaleidoscope of colour, of taste, of language, and of new and different horizons.  It has been a book of many chapters, each shifting and stretching me into the person I am now. 

I intentionally use the word stretch because I hope that as a result of my life experience, I possess the qualities I have learned to admire most in others.

·      To have strong opinions provided they are informed ones, it is important that truths be founded in reason and careful consideration but then they should be sung.;

·      To stay informed in order to contribute to the social conversation; to consider the rationale of others but to critically discern;

·      To be tolerant but only when it is predicated upon personal freedoms and reason, not dogma or undue influence. 

·      To have passions regardless of what they are and to pursue them with abandon without fear of judgment;

·      To be compassionate and to empathize with the broken, the disadvantaged, and the vulnerable;

·      To engage in something, anything; but once engaged, pursue it with honour and commitment for as long as possible;

·      To live life purposefully; open-eyed, open-minded, and open-hearted; to push the limits of your courage particularly when it’s easier to do the easy thing.

Oh and finally, and this one is really, really important: remember to drink more water and the occasional glass of good Champagne with a good friend.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Calgary in the Tropics

is what we've been calling Perth ever since relocating to Western Australia.  We have observed for the three or so years that we've lived in Australia that Canadians and Australians are very similar.  Same dry sense of humour, self-deprecating, don't take ourselves particularly seriously, real news programming, limited filter and not afraid to call the ridiculous what it is.

However, now we have further observed that Perth and Melbourne are as different as say Calgary and Montreal.  Come to think of it Melbourne is Montreal.  Stately, elegant, great architecture, killer fashion sense but I never knew my Melbourne neighbours (excepting one: hi Robyn!).

Perth is Calgary.  G'day from everyone you pass in the street, chatty staff in all the shops, great architecture somewhat lacking, killer outdoor activities.  Trade the Alberta Rockies for the Indian Ocean and you would swear you were in the same place, except with Frangiapanis....and Banana Trees....and beaches...and no snow or freezing temperatures.  You get the picture.

It's been a nice weekend, pretty perfect actually.  J had a mate over on Saturday and we all trouped to the doggie beach at the end of our road (because they have beaches at the end of your roads in Perth!).  Murphy was in heaven.  We did observe several washed-up Man O'War Blue Bottle jellyfish on the beach probably a result of some crazy wind a few days ago.  Want to know more about Man O'War Blue Bottle jellyfish - they're a little scary, just click anywhere on this coloured link.  Awesome!  Can't wait for summer.  That'll be me, the crazy girl in the stinger suit inside a shark cage right near shore.

Anyhoo, jellyfish and sharks aside, we had our neighbours for dinner last night which concluded with a dessert I stole borrowed from my great friend Kerry - Chocolate Chili Ice Cream cake.  It is killer! and I have a Mother's Day date with the rest of it tonight.

This Mother's Day morning, however, I was greeted with coffee, freshly-squeezed O.J., a card, and the latest edition of Australia's Better Homes and Gardens magazines in bed followed by an HOUR of reading my myself!!!  I vetoed breakfast in bed since I hate sleeping amongst crumbs.  Breakfast was outside (because you can have breakfast outside in the Fall in Calgary-in-the-Tropics!).

The day was followed by a couple of hours of all of us reading our books, a Skype session with Kerry and the gang, and a Bikram Yoga class - doesn't get much better.  I am very blessed.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Another Sunday Another Recipe

Not entirely sure where the last week went but next thing I know Sunday rolled around again.  Fall has arrived WA-style.  It's overcast and hovers around 23c before plummeting to 13c during the night.  I spent the day clothed in tights, a t-shirt, and flipflops - crazy for this Northern girl!

Sundays, for Australian Family Hendricks, usually centers around food.  As I have a dearth of topics to discuss, and inspired by a friend who enjoyed our Pina Colada recipe last week, I thought I would share our day of food, ending with our dinner recipe.   Having finally had our erstwhile
stovetop repaired this week (yes, it is possible to become sick of barbeque after almost 3 weeks), we celebrated with C2s  Lemon Ricotta pancakes for breakfast.   A Melbourne tradition for us but our first time in Perth.   Sorry can't share that recipe, it's classified!

After a morning spent pruning my Tahitian Lime tree of its' infestation of Citrus Leaf Miner (clearly no one with a love of citrus trees lived here before us), and planting armfuls of sweet basic, and fragrant mint; our neighbours presented us with a bowl of freshly-baked bread.  Lunch was freshly-baked bread, French butter, ham, cheese, avocado and tomato, piri piri sauce, olives, cornichons, and J's version of soft drink: freshly-squeezed orange juice, carbonated water, and a dash of sugar.

Later in the day, and clearly in a citrus state-of-mind, with a glass of Australian Shiraz in hand and John Mayer radio sounding from Pandora, C2 and I made Penne with Roasted-Tomato Sauce, Orange and Olives accompanied by a green salad for dinner.

Here is the recipe:

Penne with Roasted-Tomato Sauce, Orange and Olives


1 kg plum tomatoes cut into wedges
1-2 onions halved lengthwise, cut into thin wedges
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, coursely chopped
1 tbsp grated orange peel
1/2 cup fresh orange juice

2 cups penne
1/2 chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/4 cup freshly-grated pecorino Romano cheese

Spread tomatoes on one sheet and onions on the other.  Drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil over each. Distribute garlic and orange peel over both.  Season with salt and pepper and roast until tender stirring occasionally, about 30 mins for onions and 45 mins for tomatoes.  Cool slightly.  Pour 1/4 cup of orange juice over vegetables on both sheets scraping up any brown bits from bottom of sheets.

When done, prepare pasta,  reserve approx 1/4 cup pasta cooking water.   Add tomato and onion mixture, basil and olives to pasta.  Stir over medium heat until heated through adding enough reserve pasta cooking water to moisten.  Transfer to bowls.  Sprinkle with grated Romano cheese and serve.  It is OMG delish!

Bon appetit!