by Dahni
© 2016 all rights reserved

Punk under blanket at our home 2016

Punk under box at home in Australia

Punk under box at home in Australia

There is a final revolution for all, in this circle of life. And the day comes when it seems that circle no longer turns. But not only does it continue to turn, it never stops turning!

It hurts, when we lose someone we love. It hurts when those we love, lose someone they love. And it hurts, when we meet loves of those we love and lose too, those we come to love as well.

To those that never have had nor may ever have a pet, you may never understand how a pet could ever become one of your family. And they may never understand how their loss could be, as one as any other member of your family. But I suspect, all can understand hurt and its opposite, wholeness and well being. We love in part because, in some measure and in some sense, someone gets under our skin, is absorbed into our bloodstream and goes directly to the heart.

I could have wanted to have written this yesterday 1/22/16. I could have grieved or shared something with those to whom this event first came to know and feel its sting, first. But it was difficult (if not impossible), for me to have done, when I was surrounded by three grandchildren, full of life and joy that were contributing to my wholeness and sense of well being, for most of that day. And now, I am mindful, not of the hurt so much as, remembering, wholeness and well-being!

Such for me was Punk, not my cat, not my care and concern, but a cat I met in Australia, just a few short years ago, that got under my skin.

He was unique in that he only had three legs and it took me an entire whole 24 hours to figure that out, that he only had three! He was unique in that he moved as well as, if not better than, most cats with four legs. He was unique in that he would just make himself at home on your lap or where you slept and right into your heart. He was unique in that I had never before or since, met a cat that loved so much to get underneath the covers! He was unique in that he loved most everyone. He was unique in that his curiosity usually always, resulted in some very imaginative and creative play. It is not always what we’ve not, but how we use what we’ve got that really matters the most!

Having Punk get under my skin the way that he did, surely could not linger because, my time with him at his home in Australia was just a month, How attached to someone could we become, in just a month? After all, he was not my cat; not my care and concern. He was there and I was here.

Then— Punk came to live with us. And he came to get under my skin, again, and into my heart for days and months. Almost daily, we’d talk about some things and often just about nothing that mattered at all. The conversation was mostly non-important, the ‘hanging out together’ was really all that mattered. While most cats love to crawl up and lay upon a blanket on your lap, Punk would crawl up and get underneath that blanket or under the covers of our bed and sleep this way through the night, under the covers, under my skin, into my bloodstream and into my heart.

Punk was a survivor! He survived the loss of one leg and thrived with three. He had a heart condition and he survived that anyway. When he came to live with us, he survived and thrived in a new country, with new people and in a new environment. He survived the many run-ins with our one and only cat, Bella. To her discredit, Bella is a scaredy cat and pretty darn anti-other-cat-social. To Punk’s credit, he usually won all arguments! 🙂

Punk even survived me! 🙂

Punk survived surgery here, for Hodgkin lymphoma. He never complained about all that was done to him, before and after his surgery.

Punk survived to be returned to his immediate family; his ‘first family,’ here, after they came home to NY.

When I first knew that Punk would be coming to live with us for awhile, his human father Jonathan, said to me, “Your’e never going to want to let him go!” My only edit to that statement is, I never will!

Cats are curios creatures, but Punk found such creative ways to enjoy his joy, from the simplest things as a ‘cat pillar,’ a box or a bag.

Punk 'sunny side up' at our home 2016

Punk’s ‘sunny side up’ disposition, at our home 2016. Notice, Punk uses the window for the full effect! 🙂

Yesterday, Punk’s heart gave out, but not before imparting it to many others. Yesterday, Punk left a hole in many hearts when he left this life. I would have loved to have seen him one more time, but he left me some things that I’ll never forget and they remain with me still!

Love is NOT a measurement of how much, how long; how much stronger or deeper one loves over any other. It is something that either gets under your skin or it doesn’t. It survives anything and everything! It enters as a contribution to one’s wholeness and sense of well being, which are opposite of the hurt we experience, throughout our lives. Yes, it comes and gets under our skin, enters the bloodstream and goes straight to the heart. And when we feel its loss and grieve and mourn, we should be mindful that what we got under our skin, that entered our bloodstream and that got into our hearts, still remains! Memories are the token reminders of wholeness and well-being. Thank you Punk, for so entering me and for your ever reminder to—


Punk – Mr. Punkle Pants – January 22, 2016

A sense of wholeness and well-being is, in the bag! :)

A sense of wholeness and well-being is, in the bag! 🙂

Categories: Animals, Aussie, Australia, Home, Inspiration, Joy & Sorrow, Life, Life & Death, Live Laugh Love, Love, Missing You, Pets, Punk | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

On: The Land of Oz

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Today to you in the west is the 30th of April, 2014. Our last full day in Australia was on the 29th. The day before (4/28/14), we finally made it to the ocean. So for today’s post, even though we are already in Japan, spending the night and leaving for home on May 1st, I wanted to share some last minute OZ’ stuff with you. Most native Aussies pronounce Australia as, OZ- tralia.We have in many ways, felt like we have been in the land of OZ! 🙂

It's a BIG country

It’s a BIG country

But Australia is not only a country comprised of six states and two territories, it is also, a continent. We have never left the huge state of New South Wales. Not only have we not seen the rest of this beautiful and interesting country, we have not even scratched the surface of New South Wales!

We spent most of our time with family at their home in Camden, NSW, Australia. I personally, fell in love with this wonderful community! We went to Sydney, NSW, a couple of times, went to the Sydney Opera House, the Harbor area, downtown Sydney, the Chinese Friendship Garden, took a ferry boat ride to Toronga Zoo, and went to Sea World. Still, all of this is located in New South Wales. We rented a cottage for the weekend in Katoomba, New South Wales, in the Blue Mountains. On and on and so forth and even though we saw and experienced a lot in just over a month’s time, what do we really know about this wonderful country, not very much! And even though I took probably 1,000’s of pictures, if they all turn out and I shared them all with you, Australia has SO MUCH MORE to offer! And the same can be said of Japan as well!

But we made it to the ocean in Australia. And do you remember a few posts back while in Katoomba, NSW, I said we saw 100 or more sulfur crested cockatoos fly overhead? Perhaps you found that hard to believe, especially since there were no photos or videos to back up that claim.

I'm so pretty! Thanks for looking! HAVE A NICE DAY! :)

I’m so pretty! Thanks for looking! HAVE A NICE DAY! 🙂


Well, at the bottom of this post are two videos. 100 or so cockatoos flew over the home where we have been staying in, Camden, NSW, Australia. It was an early foggy morning with a little light rain. It was on our last full day here on 4/29/14. The videos show these same birds, perched in a couple of gum trees, in front of the house. Incredible, beautiful and NOISY! 🙂

The day before 4/28/14, we set out to see the ocean. The following unexpected road sign was seen while in route.

Koala Crossing

Koala Crossing

Road sign to the Ocean

Road sign on the way to the Ocean

We got to the ocean to Susan’s pure joy and delight! If I told you Susan loves the ocean, that would be an understatement, GREATLY UNDER-STATED!! 🙂

It was a nice drive there through some ‘bush’ of eucalyptus forests, past the koala crossing and with a gorgeous view of mountains until, we descended toward the beach. And there, was, a little sand path walk to the shore. It was a lovely cool day and a bit cloudy. It was definitely a remove-your-sandals-and-walk-barefoot-in-the-sand kind of day. There were huge barges and boats in the distance. Several surfers were out trying to, “catch some waves.” Jonathan and baby Felix, Susan and I walked and explored the beautiful beach and walked along the shoreline. But of course we rolled up our pant legs and dipped our feet in the water! It was wonderful! Susan and I collected a few shells to bring home and spied all kinds of washed-ashore plant life and a couple of little live creatures. One was a tiny hermit crab, walking with its shell still attached. There were large black rocks covered with barnacles. But after all is said and done, it’s all about the ocean!

Ocean I

Ocean I – our path to the beach

Ocean II

Ocean II

Ocean III

Ocean III

Ocean IV

Ocean IV

There was some driftwood and a huge chuck of timber that I pretended to be part of some shipreck that really did occur in this area in the late 1800’s. I found a little stick and, but of course, I had to write something in the sand!

With Love from Susan & Dahni on the beach in OZ-tralia :)

With Love from Susan & Dahni on the beach in OZ-tralia , 4/28/14 🙂

As our outing ended, I came back another way, up some stairs to a play area for kids, picnic area and public restrooms. They even had showers that I took advantage of and washed the sand from my feet, before putting my Keen sandals back on (And yes, brother Richard, my Keen’s stood up to sand, shore and salt-ocean-water. Our outing at the beach was short-lived, but WE LIVED! It was an appropriate one ending to our stay in Australia. Why did I use the words, “one ending?” Why, because, the very next morning, those 100 or so cockatoos from the Blue Mountains seemed to show up in Camden, (as if they followed us) and right in front of our house, JUST FOR YOU!!!! 🙂

But before this post ends and you see the little videos, we would like to take this time to thank all the wonderful Aussies, family and all our new friends that made this such a wonderful and memorable experience! Thank you one and all! We will never forget you! Missing you already! Guhday Mates and Maties or Sheilas! 🙂

Dahni in Susan

A Cockatoo Good Morning to You – Youutube video 1

If possible, watch this full screen and crank up the volume! 🙂

A Cockatoo Good Morning to You II – Youutube video 2

If possible, watch this full screen and crank up the volume! 🙂

Categories: Aussie, Australia, Australian Life, Beauty, Birds of Australia, cockatoos, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Japan, Missing You, Ocean, The Gathering Place, The Land Down Under, Travel, Visual Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On: Aussie Beverages

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Guhday Mates, from Donnie your Aussie beverage guide

In a previous post, we tasted some wonderful Australian food and their butter. See Butter from this blog here.

While out and about on our Saturday here, we came upon a store called the Epicure which means, “one that enjoys fine food and drink” or simply, “the good life.” This is the same store where we enjoyed that marvelous butter from two posts back. After going on and on and drooling from the memory of this, the lady asked if we would like to taste the milk that is used to make this butter? Would I, would we? There was no hesitation, of course we would and did.

When I was a young boy, we had an Aunt Gladys & an Uncle Al. We loved to visit them! Right across the road from them was a dairy farm. One dog would round up all the cows and bring them to the barn for milking. They had mechanical milking machines even 50 years ago or so. But the milk went into this stainless steel tank that was somehow cooled instantly it seemed to just above freezing or 32° F. (Fahrenheit). I don’t to this day know how they did it, but when I say “ice cold,” it was ICE COLD!

A side note: 100’s of cats all seemed to show up out of nowhere at milking time! 🙂

Anyway, since those times, I could never drink milk unless it had ice in it, but I drank this milk from Australia that was the same milk used to make the awesome butter we had and it WAS DELICIOUS!!! 🙂

Well, this post really is about beverages from Australia or that I have tried here. You have already seen the following picture in another post, but here it is again. After the milk, it’s GINger time. In a bit you will understand why, I capitalized GIN in GINger. 🙂

Ginger Beer, Ginger Ade, Dark & Stormy (Giner beer, lime and rum) and Ginger Wine

Ginger Beer, Ginger Ade, Dark & Stormy (Ginger beer, lime and rum) and Ginger Wine

Then there was this ginger suprize that you have also seen before.

Champagne with a ginger sugar cube

Champagne with a ginger sugar cube

Next, what was the capitals of GIN in the GINger for?

On the last night of the Camden Show, Jonathan and I popped in to a local pub, for a night cap or two. 🙂

I ordered an Australian beer with Jonathan’s recommendation and he ordered a GIN and tonic. I have never liked gin because it smells if not like a pine tree which I do like the smell, but it reminds me of mineral spirits which I used to use for many years, in cleaning out my paint brushes used for, oil-based or alkyd paint. I’ve sometimes wondered why so many older painters drank a lot? Was it to cut the taste of the mineral spirits out of their nostrils? Well anyway, something came over me and I asked Jonathan if I could try his drink? I think I was thinking that I used to not like tonic water until it was put together with rum, fresh lime and fresh ground nutmeg that our friend and former neighbors (still friends) made for many-a-happy-hour. We affectionately refer to this as, ‘Lou’s Pirate Punch!’ So I perhaps thought, maybe GIN, with fresh lime and tonic water might be OK? Jonathan said, “Sure you can taste it!” I did. I loved it and ordered myself one. This experience set the stage for what was to come later, when we stopped in to ‘The Custom’s House’  reaturant and bar in Sydney for a drink after our return from the Toranga Zoo. The Zoo post is coming, hang on! 🙂

The Customs House is or was indeed that, for Customs. But on one of the upper floors was the Customs House Bar & Restaurant. It was a fancy beautiful place with a great view of Darling Harbor and the Harbor Bridge.

From the rear of The Customs House

From the rear of The Customs House


Lighted table for our drinks. Very Cool! :)

Lighted table for our drinks. Very Cool! 🙂

Anyway, on their drink menu was a ‘Gin Gin Mule.’ I was curious. It sounded like a Moscow Mule which is ginger beer, fresh lime and vodka that I already like, so I tried this and? I loved it! 🙂

A Gin Gin Mule is served in a tall glass with ginger beer, a spicy ginger syrup, fresh lime, GIN and a sprig of mint and ice.

A Moscow Mule is basically the same, but with vodka, and traditionally served in a copper mug (lined of course, with stainless steel).

A Dark & Stormy is also, basically the same only it uses, a dark (more molasses flavored) rum and served in whatever kind of glass you desire.

All of these drinks made with ginger beer are fantastic. Thank you Australia for introducing me to Gin, Gin & Tonic, and the Gin Gin Mule!

Now for something regular, only from Australia, beer (actually it’s pale ale)! How does the name Fat Yak grab you? Well this is its name and it is made in Matilda Bay in Australia. Sure it will give your Matilda something to waltz about! 🙂

Fat Yak starts with hops and they finish it with hops. Normally, I don’t care for hoppy beer and ales etc., but this has a wonderful blend, a bit of fruit in its flavor and it just has a nice and lovely taste!

Fat Yak pale ale

Fat Yak pale ale


Are you ready for something really unusual? Here it comes. While we were in the Blue Mountains, the girls popped in to a little liquor store to pick up a nice bottle of Riesling wine for our night’s meal. Just outside the shop was a little sandwich board with the following message:

“Try Our Hot Chilly Wine”

This is exactly what the sign said and it is spelled exactly as I saw it. But I wondered what that meant, So I went into the store and asked. Now I don’t know if whoever wrote the sign cannot spell or it was intentional. If it was the latter, well it worked because, I wanted to know what it meant! 🙂

But I suppose the wine was chilly and it was hot and it was wine and it was made out of chili! So welcome one and all to world of Hot Chilly Chili Wine!

Hot Chili Wine (front)

Hot Chili Wine (front)

Hot Chili Wine (rear)

Hot Chili Wine (rear)

Hot Chili Wine cloese up of rear label)

Hot Chili Wine (close up of rear label)

Disaster Bay Chillies produce this sweet hot wine without grapes whatsoever! It is made from 100% chili peppers.

The proprietor gave me a sample and there are just no words to describe what was beyond anything I could imagine!

Disaster Bay Chillies is a partnership between Stuart Meagher and John Wentworth. John has been an organic market gardener for more than a decade and Stuart has been a chilli fanatic for at least as long.

Stuart and John combined their passions in 1999 to grow chillies on the Far South Coast of NSW to produce what they believe is the world’s first commercially available wine made from chillies. They used a recipe from a mate of Stuarts, known as Old Didler, as a starting point. Then, after much experimentation – and a little luck – they struck upon a workable method to produce the wine.

Disaster Bay Chillies is from Eden, a coastal town in the South Coast region of New South Wales, Australia. The town is 478 kilometres (or about 297 miles) south of the state capital Sydney and is the most southerly town in New South Wales.

This sweet and hot (spicy hot) wine was absolutely incredible and unlike anything we four had ever tried. It is great with cheese and crackers which is what we had it with. I think it would be awesome with fresh oysters too! What ever you serve it with, do yourself , your guests, friends and families a favor and TRY IT!!!

We intended to bring this home, but we opened it up and drank most of it that night! We finished it off the next night when we returned home to Camden. Oh NO, what to do???? “No worries mates, you can order it online!”

Categories: Aussie, Australia, Beverages, Chili, Family & Friends, Food, Harbor Bridge, Japan, The Gathering Place, The Land Down Under, Travel, Uncategorized, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On: Katoomba, NSW, Australia

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Guhday Mates, from Dahni your Aussie Katoomba travel guide

Guhday Mates, from Donnie your Aussie Katoomba travel guide

On April 11 through the morning of April 14th, 2014, we went to The Blue Mountains and rented a cottage (see last post) in Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia.

Today, I want to share with you some of the flavor of Katoomba. It was a quaint, charming and eclectic community – MY KIND OF PLACE! Besides the fact that it is located in The Blue Mountains and is quite hilly to walk the streets, it reminded me of Telluride, Colorado in the United States. Telluride is a community in the Rocky Mountains where people come to ski in the winter and it is also a hub to get to Aspen or Vale when those areas are closed to airports or other transportation, due to the weather. Although Telluride and Katoomba do not share the same type of weather conditions, it’s their common flavor that is similar to me. Telluride basically started as a ‘hippie communue’ back in the sixities. I suppose as many of them grew up and decided to get jobs and start a ski resort? 🙂

In Katoomba, there are many young people, arts and crafts, just like in Telluride. Our pictorial journey below, begins with an example of some local artwork, a mural painted on a brick wall of an abandoned garage across the road from our cottage. We saw this as we were heading into town.

Mural on wall of abandoned garage

Mural on wall of abandoned garage

In Katoomba, we noted many wonderful and fashionable hats on the heads of many people, young and old, male and female. ‘The Hattery,’ where I found and purchased my Akubra hat you see me wearing in the picture above, is from Katoomba. For more information about my hat in a previous post on this blog see: Hats

But Kotoomba is more than just a young/artistic/eclectic community, it is a travel destination! Katoomba is the city host or gateway to The Blue Mountains and both attract many people from around the world, every year. We noted many differnet people, accents and languages being spoken while we were here. There are several popular and international establishments and connections here. A friend from the United States informed me that soon after we returned from our trip to this area, Prince William & Kate of England were planning on visiting the following week. The English and Australian connection is just one example of many international connections.

Our first night here as we were walking to downtown for some food, some one-hundred (at least) sulfur crested cockatoos flew over our heads. Caitlin stayed at the cottage with baby Felix and she saw them fly right over our deck and into the eucalyptus trees of the Blue Mountains, right around sunset. Even though I did not get a picture of this amazing sight, in a future post, I will share pictures of four of these beautiful birds and sppecifically one that certainly seemed to want to pose for me, from the huge evergreen near the deck of our cottage.

But this night, on recommendation of a local librarian, we went to dinner at an authentic Korean restaurant. Susan and Jonathan ordered each a different entree and I chose one that is supposed to be one of the most popular among street people in Korea. Dduk Bok-ki was so incredible, both Susan and Jonathan wished they had ordered it! It was a sweet rice, shaped like tube pasta, but not hollow. It was made from rice flour and steamed. It was included in this huge plate of steamed vegetables. You could have it mild, medium or hot. I chose medium. It was inexpensive, delicious and so filling and yet, I can’t believe I ate the whole thing, even sharing a lot with Susan and Jonathan, I was stuffed with delight!

Other foods include the best coffee I have either ever had or it’s been so long, I cannot recall any better. This we purchased from a little, almost a hole in the wall, cafe from the Elephant Bean Coffee. Then there was the most incredible fresh-baked croissant from a cute little bakery, I’ve ever eaten and shared the crumbs with a local pigeon. 🙂

In another post in the future, I will share about some Australian beverages, including the chili wine we tasted and bought in Katoomba. Yes, you read that correctly, Chili wine made entirely out of 100% chili. It was sweet and hot. We intended to bring it home, but we opened it as soon as we got back to the cottage and finished it off the next day when we got back home to Camden. It was fantastic with cheese and now that I’ve come to appreciate oysters (at least Australian and Apalachicola, Florida oysters in the US), DEFINITELY WITH OYSTERS!!! I’m almost sorry we drank it with out purchasing another bottle to bring home, but “no worries,” this Australian exclusive product, has a website and this wine can be ordered online and shipped to your door!!!! 🙂

We had dinner and some chocolate at the Paragon restaurant. This place could have a post and then some, all its own. It was a mixture of Greek/Romanesque architecture and art-deco and hand carved reliefs on the walls. It does make me wonder if the garden area behind our cottage might actually be owned by the owners of this restaurant or some related family members?  The food was fabulous and but of course, WE HAD TO TRY THEIR CHOCOLATE! According to their interior signage, it’s the chocolate that made Katoomba famous. I have no way to prove or disprove that statement, but this place has been here since 1921 I believe, has a US connection (the wife of the owner was from the United States), and there are many pictures throughout the place of famous people that have signed their names and have eaten here. So what does that say to you?! Some of the pictures I recognized and some I did not. Art Acord (silent film western star), Clark Gable and Peter O’Toole. So, that’s pretty telling. You can search for the Paragon Cafe online and find many interesting things. They also have a page on Facebook.

There were many unusual and wonderful things to experience in Katoomba, but time and words fail me. The best that I can offer you are some humble pictures. I hope you enjoy them! 🙂

As stated previously, Katoomba is quite hilly and it exercises your heart, lungs and legs to walk here, but well worth the effort! The air was crisp, cool and clear at this time of the year during Australia’s late fall or early winter. Days were nicely pleasant with a couple of layers of long sleeve shirts and the nights build-a-fire cool. The downtown district is home to many cafes, shops and stores from the unusual, the bizarre and the, just lovely. There are examples of fine architecture in beautifully restored or well-maintained hotels and other buildings.

There were many unusual and wonderful things to experience in Katoomba, but time and words fail me. As I said, the best that I can offer you are some humble pictures, my personal recommendation to COME HERE if you ever have the opportunity and a link to some Irish music I recorded live, on my way back to the cottage one day. I hope you enjoy all that follows here! 🙂

Mural on Wall

Mural on wall of the Three  Sisters and etc., of The Blue Mountains at Echo Point

Downtown Katoomba

Downtown Katoomba – sure why not espresso and waffles! 🙂

The Elephant Bean Cafe

The Elephant Bean Cafe (notice anyone familiar?)

The Elephant Bean Cafe (Awesome coffee)

The Elephant Bean Cafe
(awesome coffee)

Bakery with fresh baked almond croissants. YAY! :)

Bakery with fresh baked almond croissants. YAY! 🙂

If you must eat croissants, why not artistically!

If you must eat croissants, why not artistically!

Closeup of our table

Closeup of our table

And the pigeons enjoyed your crumbs :)

And the pigeons enjoyed your crumbs 🙂

My first ever female street performer. She was actually very good.

My first ever female street performer. She was actually very good.

Little Aussie squirrels picture, for  my sister Carol Lee

Little Aussie squirrels picture, for my sister Carol Lee

Ducks or Kiwi birds in boots? I dunno, but they were cute, so I had to take this! :)

Ducks or Kiwi birds in boots? I dunno, but they were cute, so I had to take this! 🙂

Clock bridge over street

Clock bridge over street

Old-time informative bill

Old-time informative bill

Mural of Katoomba Falls I

Mural of Katoomba Falls I

Mural II

Mural of Katoomba Falls II

Hotel Carrington Entrance

Carrington Place (hotel) Entrance

Hand carved wall, Carrington Place Entrance

Hand carved wall, Carrington Place Entrance

Irish connection

Irish connection

Irish connection II

Irish connection II

Want to Wassail me for some mulled wine? :)

Want to Wassail me for some Mulled Wine? 🙂

The circus in town? :)

The circus in town? 🙂

Paragon I

Paragon I

Paragon II

Paragon II

Paragon III

Paragon III

Paragon Chocolate "The chocolate that made Katoomba famous"

Paragon Chocolate
“The chocolate that made Katoomba famous”

Chocolates I

Chocolates I

Chocolates II

Chocolates II

Chocolates III

Chocolates III

Lost Bear Gallery

Lost Bear Gallery (art gallery)

Whale out of wooden sticks

Whale out of wooden sticks in window of Lost Bear Gallery

Oh, there the lost bear is! :)

Oh, there the lost bear is! 🙂

Closeup of found lost bear art

Closeup of found lost bear art

Nice wall

Nice wall

Interesting walk I

Interesting walk I

Interesting Walk II  (same walk, different view)

Interesting Walk II
(same walk, different view)

Can you see the heart shape?

Can you see the heart shape?

Last stop before back to cottage and look what I saw and heard! :

Last stop before  heading back to our cottage and look what you saw and heard! :

Locals, quite possibly of Irish roots, gathered in this pub for grub, beers and cheers and playing some really nice Irish jigs. There were children present and other watchers/listeners like me. Flutes, violins, guitar, banjo, a concertina (similar to an accordion) and one gent (laddie) played the Uilleann pipes. The bar was open and run by another international connection. She was anice lady from Vietnam. It was a gorgeous day and the windows were open in the pub.

Several falutists

Several flutists and violinists and concertina far left

Flute player closest to me

Flute player closest to me

Uilleann Pipe Player

Uilleann Pipe Player

The uilleann pipes are the characteristic national bagpipe of Ireland. Earlier known in English as “union pipes”, their current name is a partial translation of the Irish-language term píobaí uilleann (literally, “pipes of the elbow”), from their method of inflation.There is no historical record of the name or use of the term ‘uilleann pipes’ before the twentieth century. It was an invention of Grattan Flood and the name stuck. People mistook the term ‘union’ to refer to the 1800 Act of Union; this is incorrect as Breandán Breathnach points out that a poem published in 1796 uses the term ‘union.’

The bag of the uilleann pipes is inflated by means of a small set of bellows strapped around the waist and the right arm (in the case of a right-handed player; in the case of a left-handed player the location and orientation of all components are reversed). The bellows not only relieve the player from the effort needed to blow into a bag to maintain pressure, they also allow relatively dry air to power the reeds, reducing the adverse effects of moisture on tuning and longevity. Some pipers can converse or sing while playing.

Source: Wikipedia

And a good time was had be all! :)

And a good time was had by all! 🙂

Please click on the following link to a recording I made of these musicians. It’s only about a minute clip, but I think you will enjoy it.

Categories: Art, Aussie, Australia, Australian Life, Blue Mountains, Chocolate, Coffee, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Food, Fun, Irish, Irish Music, Japan, Katoomba, Music, Photography, The Gathering Place, The Global Village, The Land Down Under, Travel, Uncategorized, Walkabout | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On: Cottage in the Mountains

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Guhday Mates, from Dahni your Aussie Blue Miuntain Cottage Guide

Guhday Mates, from Donnie your Aussie Blue Mountains, cottage guide

On April twelfth through the morning of the 14, 2014 we rented a cottage in The Blue Mountains, in the city of Kat0omba, New South Wales, Australia.

It was a wonderful place full of antiques, plush thick big towels and all the necessary things for comfort as you could imagine. They even had the refrigerator stocked with food which we gladly added to with what we brought and enjoyed some cooking at our home away from home.

The cottage was called: Sidney’s Retreat (Not Sydney, but I think they live there) and is named after the owner’s wife, I believe.

Hot water was supplied by a Rinnai tank-less water heater, so we always had hot water. There was a microwave, coffee/espresso/cappuccino machine, four slice toaster, plates, and other cookware and utensils, silverware, spices, an assortment of coffees and teas.

We had a wood burning fireplace with plenty of wood, but no kindling to start one. Jonathan and I manged to burn a roll of toilet paper and some paper towels for a short-lived fire, due to the wood still being damp and no kindling, but we had a great time trying.

There were gas or electric heaters in every room – each of the two bedrooms, the bathroom and the kitchen/dining/living room = Great room with a vaulted ceiling. There were electric blankets in every bedroom. There were toys for children, a high chair for Baby Felix, DVD movies, a falt screen TV, books even playing cards which we four used a couple of nights.

The deck outside was massive and even supplied a grill if we were inclined to use it. There was an outside table and chairs for 6-8 people. The deck overlooked an interesting classic, ancient Greek/Romanesque courtyard, of stone and statues in process. All of us concurred that we would love to live in this place! 🙂

This was agreat place to explore and visit the town of Katoomba (more about this in another post). But after all is said and done, it’s all about the view from the Great Room or from the deck! The Blue Mountains were right in our back yard!!

Jonathan & Susan at the gate to our cottage

Jonathan & Susan at the gate to your cottage

No. 36 Laurline St

No. 36 Lurline St., your temp. address in Katoomba, NSW, Australia

Path to home away from home

Pathway to your home away from home

Your Front Door

Your Front Door

What's this Samsung thing? Touch your palm to the face?

What’s this Samsung thing? Touch your palm to the face?

Press the two numbers that show (different each time)

Press the two numbers that show (different each time)

A full panel display, insert the four digit password followed by the pound sign and the door opens! AWESOME! i want one of these!!! :)

A full panel display, insert the four digit password followed by the pound sign and the door opens! AWESOME! I want one of these!!! 🙂


Your Bedroom

Our Bed. Rm. with chairs and stuffed toys for kids

Your bed rm. with chairs and stuffed toys and stuff for kids

Big room bath with shower and claw legged tub and the room had a skylight

Big room bath with shower and claw legged tub and the room had a skylight

Living area of Great Rm.

Living area of Great Rm.

I loved the old telephone! wing, wing, wing, Hehwo! :)

I loved the old telephone! wing, wing, wing, Hehwo! 🙂

Part of the spacious kitchen

Part of the spacious kitchen

Outside looking in

Outside looking in

Jonathan, Caitlin, baby Felix and Fritz the dog even had an old pump organ in their room that Jonathan played. This video is for you, Janet Beaman! 🙂

It's All about the View

It’s All about the View from our deck!

It's All about the View II

It’s All about the View II

It's All about the View III

It’s All about the View III

It's All about the View IV

It’s All about the View IV

It's All about the View V

It’s All about the View V

It's All about the View VI

It’s All about the View VI

Categories: Aussie, Australia, Beauty, Blue Mountains, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Food, Fun, Inspiration, Japan, Katoomba, Photography, Simplicity, The Gathering Place, The Land Down Under, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On: Aussie Dairy Products, Bread & Stuff

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Guhday Mates, from Dahni your Aussie explorer

Guhday Mates, from Donnie your Aussie explorer

First off, Happy Friday! I realize some memorialize today as Good Friday, but I have never understood why anyone would want to celebrate the death of someone? As to Jesus Christ, according to the Bible, history and even Jewish traditions, he did NOT eat the last supper (passover) with his 12 diciples/apostles then was crucified on Friday. He was the passover the year he died on a Wednesday. There is no power to anyone that he died. The power is attributed to that he was raised 72 hours before sunset of the Jewish Sabbath, which was and is, Saturday. This irks me to the enth-degree! If you do not believe or if you do, FINE, just stop talking about and celebrating stuff in which you do not understand what you are talking about! And believers and non or un-believers are equally responsible for misinformation.

Sorry to go on and on about this, but it has opened my eyes to something I will most likely write about somewhere and sometime. But it seems all people have at least two natures in common – curiosity and judgement. We often make judgments and usually about things and even people that we are just plain and simply, ignorant about. But curiosity influences us to open our minds, our hearts, to think, to search, to examine, to explore, to listen and especially to ask questions. It seems as if our curiosity is under attack or we are so weary that curiosity is waning, unused and underdeveloped. Other than all of this, I hope and I hope that your Friday has been good and will end this way! Have a good Friday! 🙂

To begin this post, it begins with “Aussie…stuff.”

A few nights ago, we had just returned from The Blue Mountains and that night there was a Total Lunar eclipse April 15th, 2014. Sorry to say we missed this, but others did not and took great pictures of what many call a “blood moon.” There are those that ‘freak out’ about this, but come on, it’s a beautiful, naturally occurring phenomenon and I’ve seen blood and this moon (picture) in no way looks like blood! 🙂 But I have enjoyed the night and early morning skies while here in Australia. Stars seem closer and there are those in positions that I have not seen in the way they are arranged here, ‘down under’

Blood Moon April, 15, 2014 Unknown photographer

Beauty Moon April, 15, 2014 Unknown photographer

The following night around dusk, we took a family walk around the neighborhood with baby Felix and Fritz the dog. While out, we saw several huge bats flying overhead. The next night about the same time, I was out for a walk and a really, really big O’ huge bat flew over my head, about 4 feet from my head and nearly scared the crap out of me! 🙂 Sorry, no pictures, but this is my story and I’m sticking to it! 🙂

I love to walk here most anytime, but especially early in the morning and in the evening. When the sky is clear of clouds, the moon and stars have been spectacular. And I love the many sounds of birds including the cackle of the beautiful cockatoos, the caw of the magpies, squeals of the lorikeets (or lories as they say here, ‘down under’), and even the freaky weird song that sounds like a laughing hyena, made by the kookaburra. But I will say this, we four ( + Felix the baby and Fritz the dog) were walking in a park yesterday and Susan got to hear not her first one, but her first three or four. The Kookaburra Quartet all singing at the same time acapella, sounded pretty good! 🙂

There are many others that are beautiful songbirds whose names I cannot name. There are a couple that I have taken upon myself to call them by the name which makes sense to me. There is one that sounds like while you are walking and you have something wrong with your shoe. I call this, the squeaky bird. Another birds starts off with a high-pitched twirling sound then falls off. It sounds alien to me so, I just call it the spaceship landing bird. 🙂

It’s difficult to get use to the weather here. Early this morning it was 47 degrees F. (Fahrenheit) and I could actually see my breath. This was the coldest we have experienced in Australia so far, even while we in The Blue Mountains! I was wearing two shirts, long pants and socks. Well, that was around 7 am and today’s estimate is 80° F. which will be the warmest day so far that we have had while here. So, it’s, cover up at night and in the morning, but change to shorts, short sleeves, sandals (or flip flops), sun glasses and plenty of sunscreen with a HIGH SPF (Sun Protector Factor) by day! The sun here can be brutal along with the high humidity. Truly though, right now (March – May) is the best time to come to Australia, as far as I am concerned.

OK, on to Dairy Products. Let me just say that I come from the Midwest area of the United States. I was born and raised there in the heartlands of agriculture products. The State of Kansas, with its many acres of wheat is often called, “the breadbasket of the world.” The state of Iowa is known for its beef and corn. The Midwest has many large farms and ranches, both privately or family owned and corporate owned. The state of Wisconsin is called, “America’s Dairy” and produces some of the finest milk, cheese and dairy products in our country.

Our grandfather was a farmer. My mother was born and raised with country-fresh until at least after high school when she married our Dad. But our grandfather, was an executive, a foreman and a farmer among many types of work he did throughout his lifetime. I can fondly recall that he always had gardens of fresh produce. He worked on dairy farms and I suppose, he had his own cow at some point, before I was born. This possibility can be seen in the picture below that he posed for, just for fun. 🙂  But our “Papa” (pronounced paw paw), should know something about farming and food! Raised with good country fresh food, I suppose I know something about it as well, at least what it used to look like and taste like.

Our Papa (Paw Paw) on a cow

Our Papa (Paw Paw) on a cow. Unknown photographer and from a family album. The date is likely the 1930’s or 40’s

But whatever happened to America’s dairy products or when it happened I cannot say, but Australia’s dairy products are the best I have ever had, since I was a small boy. Take for example, butter. I remember butter being a beautiful yellow color. Well, for the most part, butter is almost white now in the United States, unless you purchase some specialty butter at a higher price and probably imported. Imported dairy products in the USA? Yep.

Hand Churned Butter from Australia

Hand Churned Butter from Australia


Back label of butter from Australia

Back label of butter from Australia


















OMG - it's YELLOW!

OMG – it’s YELLOW!

OMG, Australian Butter is, DELICIOUS!

OMG, Australian Butter is, DELICIOUS!

And with all due respect to Wisconsin, you have nothing on Australian cheese or any dairy product! Yogurt, even Greek style yogurt and OMG, ICE CREAM from Australia will absolutely BLOW YOUR MIND! It is, sooooooooooooooo good!

In the USA, we have 1%, 2%, ?%, cream, whipping cream, sour cream and 1/2 & 1/2 milk and who knows what other milk (products). Perhaps there is so much cream stripped out that when it gets to whole milk, there’s not much left? Where ever the answer lies, in Australia, whole milk is whole milk and it’s delicious. I use Aussie whole milk in my coffee instead of, 1/2 & 1/2 like at home and it is wonderful!

Dear United States, what has happened to you? Is it added crap, fillers, preservatives, messed-around-with seed for the animals = poor quality grain/grass feed for the animals that has been so screwed up or have WE the People all been sold a bill of crap-messed-around-with goods, just for more profit to business? I really don’t know the answer, but don’t give us cake to appease us poor-pitiful-peons, give us Butter or give us death. Yes, I know that last sentence was intended to be humorous and was a reference to Patrick Henry’s “Give us liberty or give us death,” quote from 1776 and the attribution of Marie Antoinette supposedly saying: Let them eat cake,in response to the plight of the people having no bread. The translation of the French phrase “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche. is certainly curious, since brioche was made from dough enriched with butter and eggs, making it more expensive than bread! The quote then supposedly, would reflect the princess’s obliviousness as to the condition of the people not to mention the ignorance of expense between bread and cake. And it is hotly contested that Marie Antoinette or any “great princess,” as some believe, ever said this. My attempt at humor’s point is that we should have liberty to have and free to choose the best dairy products available. Right now, in my experience, the best dairy products I have tasted in a very long time, are in Australia!

Since I mentioned cake above, lets move now onto or into bread. Many people love chocolate cake so, let’s start with this. In the United States, we have several chocolate companies or those that operate there and are in the public consciousness. Hershey’s and Nestlé are two of these firms. But Nestlé is from Switzerland. There are other companies in the U.S.A., but at closer look, it’s difficult to know who owns what any more. Take for example, Cadbury Chocolate. It was started in England, but made by Hershey Chocolate in the U.S.A. and then Kraft Foods (USA) bought Cadbury Chocolate in 2009. Pretty confusing isn’t it! When you think about it, the ingredients for chocolate (milk chocolate) are pretty basic: cocoa, sugar, MILK, some flavorings and blending agents then perhaps other add-ins like nuts etc. So how can the taste of chocolate be so different from company to company, country to country and from the same company, but in different countries? We have the Cadbury Eggs sold in the USA about this time. We have Cadbury Chocolate products in the USA and have had them for as long as I can remember. Why don’t they taste the same in the United States as they do in Australia? Is the answer, the MILK??? A lady told me she constantly has to send Cadbury Chocolate from Australia to a relative living in the Bahamas on a regular basis. Why is this, because it’s just so much better than what can be purchased (probably imported from the USA) in the Bahamas? Hmm, I wonder if it is the milk! 🙂

Milk is also used in bread. One would think that Australian bread, because of its superior milk would be fantastic. But in my opinion, except for their ‘Damper‘ and a few rolls here and there, Australia has no idea how to make bread. What we call cookies, the Aussies call biscuits. Maybe the McDonalds here can make biscuits, but other than this possibility, the flaky-tasty we love and expect in the United States, do not exist here. Bread here is hard and it is more than just “hard.” I grew up with soft white bread. Honestly, it took me a long time to acquire a taste for hard or real bread. But the bread and rolls (what we in the USA call a hot dog, sub or hoagie roll are so tough, they are hard to eat and hard to chew through just to get to to the stuff we desire in the center. I will give the Aussie rolls this, at least they do not fall apart or spill their contents because, they are so soft like ours in the US. Perhaps the answer to their bread is two-fold: It is all they know and with the humidity here being so constantly high, maybe it is the best that they can do?

And one last thing about Aussie food. Their corn is great, but they have no idea how to make corn tortilla chips or Mexican food whatsoever. Their bean burritos and flour tortillas are good, especially with their sour cream.

We everywhere, need to learn from one another! We all should have the best dairy products, bread and stuff available that can be made, without sacrificing our unique cultures or QUALITY!!! 🙂


Categories: Aussie, Australia, Australian Life, Damper, Family & Friends, Food, Japan, The Gathering Place, The Global Village, The Land Down Under, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On: Hats

Guhday Mates, from Dahni your Aussie Hat Guide

Guhday Mates, from Donnie your Aussie Hat Guide

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Besides meeting baby Felix for the first time, spending time with family, visiting Australia for the first time, seeing the plants and animals of this wonderful country, I had one thing I wanted to bring back home, a hat.

I love hats of all kinds and always have I guess. But personally, I don’t think I look all that great in them. There is just one exception, in my opinion. Years ago, Susan found a relatively inexpensive black felt hat from J.C. Penny or JCP for short. I love this hat and have received several compliments in wearing it, so I suppose I look OK in it?

My JCP Hat

My JCP Hat

It has been associated with everything from Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, and Indiana Jones from the movie, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’ OK, I get those connections, but one person thought it was a cowboy hat, which for the life of me, I do not understand that at all!

I also have a used, but cleaned white canvas hat given to me by a friend for spring and summer wear. I also purchased an inexpensive white panama-like hat. Neither of those two hats has ever received any comments while I’m wearing them so, what does that tell you? 🙂 I do have a baseball type cap which I rarely ever wear and one that has flaps to cover my ears in winter that I use when plowing or shoveling snow. I probably look like a dork wearing it, but my head and ears stay worm. 🙂

It is difficult to find anyone to dry clean hats anymore where we live. Most dry cleaners used to perform this service. I have had it cleaned twice. Once when I worked for Coit Carpet Cleaning in the Rochester, NY area, as their central office in Buffalo, NY. had a large dry cleaning and rug cleaning plant. But I no longer work for Coit and I’m not sure if they perform this service anymore?

The second time I had my hat cleaned was performed by a master hatter, right in Henrietta, NY. A friend told me to check him out. He was close to where we lived in the city until we moved to the country. His name is, Dave Brown. Dave Brown is a master hatter and he makes custom designed hats for many stars on TV and the silver screen. His hats have been featured in many familiar movies and soon to be seen in current projects. One day, I would love to have a hat custom made by him. Dave Brown the Hatter, is located at: 3054 West Henrietta Road, Rochester, NY 14623

You should check out his website, you will be amazed! see:


Rochester, NY

Well anyway, back to my story. I really think hats are sexy and men and women that wear the right one look handsome and gorgeous and children look adorable in them, adults and the elderly look great! Sometimes, even pets look spectacular in hats.

I was walking around Camden, NSW, Austraila just a short time ago, becoming familiar with this great community and yes, always on the look-out for a hat store or place that sells them. I found such a store and actually, I was just looking for a short sleeve shirt. But there they were, hats! 🙂

My search just started off looking for a bushman’s hat, a traditional top wear in Australia. But this store had Akubra.

An Autralian Icon

An Australian Icon

Akubra Hats are an Australian Icon. For 130 years Akubra has been making its famous fur felt hats. The Akubra name is synonymous with the landscape of outback Australia, and our unique hats form an important part of the Australian national uniform. In the modern era Akubra Hats still form an important part of the national culture, being worn by the hard working men and women on the land as well as being presented as national gifts to those visiting dignitaries who want to take a piece of Australia home.”


The store had several styles including the one like Paul Hogan wore as the character, ‘Crocodile Dundee,’ in the series of movies made with this name. It was called, ‘The Croc.’ I really thought the crocodile teeth were fake and made out of plastic. I found out later that my assumption was false.

But I found a style in black that I really liked called, ”The Coolabah,” so named after the tree in the famous Aussie song, ‘Waltzing Matilda.’ But alas, it was more than I wanted to pay and besides that, they did not have my size, which was supposed to be size 57 cm by Australian metric standards. “No worries,” as they say in Australia, we would soon be attending the Camden Show and hats would be sold there.

At the Camden Show, I could not find any hats I liked and there was not a single Akubra sold at the show. Hats for sale were just some inexpensive and poor quality ‘knock-offs,’ mostly made in China. I even tried on a  ‘Croc’ wannabee, but Susan said, “Absolutely NOT!” 🙂 I will say though however, this hat was made in Australia with farm raised crocodile with leather band and teeth. One actually has to have a travel permit to carry this hat or a real Akubra out of the country. “No worries,” the permit is attached to the hats! 🙂

Later in the week, Susan & I returned to the local store. My heart was still fixed on, ”The Coolabah.’ The owner of the shop was away and a clerk promised to see if any were available, anywhere and in my size, even if he could trade one for another. Apparently, size 57 is the most common and ”The Coolabah’ is the most favored among foreigners and in black. Have you ever experienced something similar, you like something, but can’t get it or they stop making it?

Things did not bode well for, but the store took my email and said they would try to find one and promised to send a note as such – “Found Hat – Bring Head!” 🙂 Sadly, I never received such an email and it takes about 3 months for Akubra to make new hats. Once sold out, this is typically how long you need to wait. It looked like I would be leaving Australia in a couple of weeks without an Akubra!? 😦

To give you an idea of how great these hats are, the clerk told us that in 1986, Stetson hats of the United States had an arrangement with Akubra to make their hats in Australia. A Stetson hat is referred to as:  ‘An American Tradition.’

In 1865, with a $100 investment, John B. Stetson rented a small room, bought the tools he needed, bought $10 worth of fur and the Stetson hat company was born. They are still made in the United States. A ‘Stetson’ is considered the most popular ‘cowboy hat in the world.’ Unlike the comment one person made about my black, JCP (J. C. Penny) hat, Stetsons’ are really cowboy hats! But the clerk in Camdem, Australia wanted a Stetson styled cowboy hat, made by Akubra in 1986, He still has this hat and it virtually, still looks brand new, though now, around 28 years old! I believe an Akubra is not a purchase, but an investment which will last for many years in rain, sleet or snow!

For more information on Stetson hats see:

During April 11-14, 2014, we were in the Blue Mountains in the town of Katoomba, NSW, Australia. We walked into a very unusual place that was part hat shop on one side and part cafe on the other, both sharing the same address. I chose the hat side and Susan and I went in for a look.

The Hattery sells all kinds of hats and accessories. They sell more Akubras than any other store in Australia. With this much clout and selling-power, they are allowed to change the bands for custom designing of Akubra hats and they have an exclusive design and color to their store. This hat cannot be purchased anywhere else in the world, but in the Blue Mountains, in Katoombah, Australia and at The Hattery or through their online store!

The Hattery

  • one of Australia’s largest specialist hat shops
  • holds the largest inventories of stock in Australia – so when you order you can be confident the hat is available immediately.
  • is located just west of Sydney, Australia, in the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains at Katoomba.
  • is open 7 days a week, for visitors to our shop and on line customers
  • is a established family owned and financially secure company that has specialized in mail order for international and local customers for over 16 years.
  • we pride ourselves on offering the same level of service to our on line customers as to our in store customers

The Hattery
Shop 2, 197 Katoomba Street, Katoomba, 2780, Australia.
Australia: Phone: 02 4782 5003 – Fax: 02 4782 6265
Local call Australia wide: 1300 302 146
International: Phone: + 61 2 4782 5003 Fax: + 61 2 4782 6265

Hats, Hats, Hats!

Hats, Hats, Hats!

Hats & Cafe (same address and right next to each other)

Hats & Cafe (same address and right next to each other)
















Cafe for while you wait for your hat or wear while you enjoy the Cafe

Cafe for while you wait for your hat or wear while you enjoy the Cafe















Even a formal tophat

Even a formal top hat

For girls of any age

For girls of any age

For Young Ladies

For Young Ladies


For Ladies

For Ladies















Something for Everyone

Something for Everyone

'The Croc'

‘The Croc’

The Croc – Akubra


53-64 cm 

83 mm, Cut Edge

Features a genuine farmed crocodile band with real crocodile teeth and satin lining.




'The Coolabah'

‘The Coolabah’

Coolabah – Akubra

Black, Bran, Regency Fawn, Santone Fawn

53-64 cm 

79mm, Cut Edge

This hat has been a successful addition to the Akubra range and is particularly popular with visitors to Australia.
Features a genuine farmed crocodile band, satin lining and eyelet vents.


The Coolabah in black size 57 is what I was looking for. But my head size was measured at the Hattery and it was a size 58. Guess I have a bigger head than thought. 🙂

Actually, you really cannot go by size necessarily. You really need to try on one, but if you are pretty sure of your size then order it from the Hattery in that size. They can ship it from Australia to the United States, almost faster than it would be to ship something from within the USA! And if it is the wrong size, let them know and another will be quickly sent out, even before you send the other back! They pride themselves in exceptional service, going even beyond Akubra’s suggestions, for the care and instructions for the long-life of your hat.

For myself, I chose ‘The Blue Mountains,’ Akubra, with approval from Susan. 🙂 It is an exclusive hat to The Hattery and the exclusive color is a dark blue (almost black), representing The Blue Mountains. I have had several compliments. I am very happy and more than satisfied! 🙂

Dahni's 'Blue Moutains' Akubra, size 58 color: Loden (dark blue)

Donnie’s ‘Blue Moutains’ – Akubra – ‘Leisure Time’ – size 58 – color: Loden (dark blue)

Oh by the way, my hat cost $40 less than what I was expecting to spend. Gotta love that! Also, after publishing this post, a friend of ours Janet, read it and left a comment on my Facebook page that this week, Prince William and Kate will be visiting The Blue Mountains. Janet wrote, Maybe he (Prince William) will get a hat like yours!!! “

If you would like additional information or to see how these authentic and superior quality hats are made, see videos from the Akubra website to follow here.

Categories: Akubra, Aussie, Australia, Australian busman's hat, Australian Life, Blue Mountains, Family & Friends, Fashion, Hats, Japan, Katoomba, Shopping, The Gathering Place, The Land Down Under, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On: The Three Somethings

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Guhday Mates from Dahni, your Aussie Blue Mountains guide

Guhday Mates from Donnie, your Aussie Blue Mountains guide

Yes, tis’ me! I am no longer wearing shades, eating eucalyptus leaves and looking like a Koala Bear! 🙂 A brand new, Akubra hat, exclusive to this one hat store (The Hattery) and this area and actually dark navy blue and appropriately named, Blue Mountains,will do that to you! 🙂

I am standing at a rail at Echo Point in front of The Three Sisters/Explorers/Rock Formations/Somethings, immediately behind me to your right.

Last weekend (April 11-14), we had the breathtaking, perhaps a-once-in–lifetime experience of the Blue Mountains around Katoomba, N.S.W. (New South Wales or NSW), Australia. NSW is a province or like a state in the US. It is a large area and includes: Sydney, Katoomba, The Blue Mountains and Camden (where we are staying), among others cities, towns and areas. I wrote “perhaps a-once-in-a-lifetime experience,” as we never know where the roads we travel or may one day travel lead, until we take them or find ourselves upon them.

But the road we traveled this weekend, was only about an hour’s drive from Camden to Katoomba. Traveling by car, we noticed large parcels of land and large beautiful homes as if estates or ranches. And there was an enormous amount of construction going on. We were told a brand new International airport has been approved to be built soon and that there are estimates which suggest that over 1,000 people are moving to this area every month. But for us, soon, in the distance, we could see our destination, The Blue Mountains and the gradual, soon-to-be, ear pooping ascension up into them.

With all due respect and credit to Jimmy Buffet, the change in altitude, definitely inspired a change in attitude. The temperatures were cooler, the air seemed to be more pure and with much less humidity. All these factors were a much needed and appreciated relief. We checked into our cottage, unpacked and set out to explore Katoomba and find some grub (food). At another time I will share more about Katoomba, our cottage, the hundred or so sulfur crested cockatoos that flew over our heads, more about my hat and perhaps other things, but today, this is about, The Blue Mountains and more specifically, The Three Somethings. 🙂

The Three Sisters or the Three Explorers

The Three Sisters, The Three Somethings or The Three Explorers?

The Three Sisters is the Blue Mountains’ most spectacular landmark, equated by numbers of people that visit and their comments. Located at Echo Point in the town of Katoomba, around 1.6 miles or 2.5 kilometers from the Great Western Highway. This spectacular view and destination is experienced by millions of people each year.

The picture above was taken in the early morning when we were about the only ones there. The smaller picture above with me in it, was taken the same day, hours later, but it was then crowded with people. I was asked to take a picture for a lady and her friend and she in kind, took a couple of me.

Road Sign

Road Sign

But, The Three Sisters/Three Explorers/Three Somethings is essentially an unusual rock formation. The character of these formations change throughout the day and throughout the seasons as the sunlight brings out the magnificent colors.  These rocks are also floodlit until around 11 pm each evening looking simply spectacular, set against the black background of the night sky.

Each stand at 922, 918 & 906 meters or 3,025, 3,012, & 2,972 feet tall, respectively.

That’s over 3000 feet above sea level! It has come to represent three sisters, who according to Aboriginal legend were turned to stone or to represent three actual explorers to the region in 1813. The legends are two, so lets start with those.

The Three Sisters

Legend I

The Aboriginal dream-time legend has it that three sisters, ‘Meehni’, ‘Wimlah’ and Gunnedoo’ lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe.

These beautiful young ladies had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry.

The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters, causing a major tribal battle.

As the lives of the three sisters were seriously in danger, a witch doctor from the Katoomba tribe, decided to turn the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. While he had intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, the witch doctor himself was killed. As only he could reverse the spell to return the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle for generations to come.

The Three Sisters

Legend II

 Three sisters, Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo had a father who was a witch doctor. His name was Tyawan.

Long ago there was a Bunyip who lived in a deep hole who was feared by all. The bunyip, or kianpraty, is a large mythical creature from Aboriginal mythology, said to lurk in swamps, billabongs, creeks, riverbeds, and waterholes. A Billabong is a Wiradjuri word (essentially a dead language that efforts to revise are in progress) that is used for an isolated pond that is left behind after a river changes course. Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving the former branch with a dead end.

Passing the hole was considered very dangerous, therefore whenever Tyawan had to pass the hole in search for food, he would leave his daughters safely on the cliff behind a rocky wall.

One fateful day, Tyawan waved goodbye to his daughters and descended down the cliff steps into the valley.

Meanwhile, at the top of the cliff, Meenhi was frightened by a large centipede which suddenly appeared before her. Meenhi took a stone and threw it at the centipede. The stone continued on its journey and rolled over the cliff, crashing into the valley below which angered the Bunyip.

The rocky wall behind Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo, then began to split open and the three sisters were left stranded on a thin ledge at the top of the cliff. All the birds, animals and fairies stopped still as the Bunyip emerged to see the terrified girls.

As the Bunyip began to approach the girls, to protect them from harm, their father Tyawan used his magic bone to turn them into stone.

Angered by this, the Bunyip then began to chase Tyawan. Becoming trapped, in order to flee from the Bunyip, Tyawan changed into a magnificent Lyre Bird, yet in the process dropped his magic bone. Tyawan and his three daughters were now safe from the Bunyip.

Once the Bunyip had disappeared, Tyawan returned in search of his magic bone, yet this was never to be found.

The Lyre Bird has been searching for this magic bone ever since. Remaining in rock formation, The Three Sisters stand silently overlooking the valley, hoping that one day he’ll find the bone and turn them back to their former selves.

When visiting The Three Sisters, if you listen carefully you may be able to hear the Lyre Bird, Tyawan, as he continues his quest for his lost magic bone.

The Three Explorers

Not legend 🙂

“In May 1813, Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth, set off on the first successful European crossing of the Blue Mountains. Tracing what is now the Great Western Highway route between Glenbrook and Mount Victoria, the explorers reached Mount York, before descending into the Kanimbla (now Hartley) Valley and then ascending Mount Blaxland, arriving back at the colony, a month later in June. 

Gregory Blaxland (17 June 1778-1 January 1853) was an English pioneer farmer and one of the three explorers to cross the Blue Mountains in 1813. The Blaxlands were friends of Sir Joseph Banks. Gregory sailed in the William Pitt on September 1805 with his wife, 3 children, 2 servants, an overseer, a few sheep, seed, bees, tools, groceries and clothing. He bought 80 head of cattle on arrival in the Sydney colony and entered the meat trade. 

William Lawson (2 June 1774-16 June 1850) was educated in London and became a qualified surveyor. In June 1799 he paid 300 hundred pounds for a commission in the NSW Corps, arriving in 1800. After a post on Norfolk Island, he returned with Sarah Leadbeater and their children to NSW, eventually settling in Prospect. In 1813 he set out from Prospect to meet Gregory Blaxland and William Charles Wentworth at Blaxland’s South Creek farm, from which the three of them left for the expedition which discovered the first satisfactory route over the Blue Mountains. In 1814, Governor Macquarie offered each of the three explorers 1000 acres west of the Blue Mountains. Lawson accepted the offer and in July 1815, he crossed the Nepean and set out to drive 100 head of cattle to Bathurst to take up his property, which he named Macquarie. In 1819 Lawson was appointed Commandant of Bathurst and during this period, he led a further three major explorations to open up the Mudgee district, where he became the first and largest landholder. Lawson went on to play an important part in the horse breeding and racing industry of early Australia and became a member of our first partly-elective Legislative Council from 1 July 1843 until 20 June 1848. William Lawson, known as ‘Old Ironbark’, often walked to Sydney on business, returning the next day. William Lawson died on 16 June 1850 and was interred in a family vault at St Bartholomew’s Anglican Cemetery, Prospect. 

William Charles Wentworth (13 August 1790-20 March 1872) was an Australian poet, journalist and politician as well as one of the three explorers to cross the Blue Mountains in 1813. W. C. Wentworth was one of the leading figures in early colonial New South Wales. He was the first native-born Australian to achieve a reputation overseas, and was a leading advocate for self-government for the Australian colonies.”

Source: Historical notes collected by Robert Brown
Old Ironbark, William Beard
Horsemen of the First Frontier (1788-1900), K.R. Binney
Australian Dictionary of Biography

So how these three explorers were associated with these three rock formations, I have no clue other than the number three (3). I made the comment that if you look to the right of the ‘The Three Sisters,’ in the picture above, it looks like  to me, one or all of them may have had little rock formations or children? 🙂 So, I suppose which of the legends or historical journals you choose to accept or believe, depends on the level of your romantic or imaginative nature. If this helps, there was only one place I found that mentioned the The Three Explorers, and it was a local motel bearing this name, close to Echo Point and the otherwise known as, The Three Sisters. Well, here is another theory, it’s the Three Amigos or The Three Stooges?! 🙂

Three Sisters & Three Amigos or Three Stooges :) Dahni, Susan & Jonathan

Three Sisters & Three Amigos or Three Stooges 🙂
Donnie, Susan & Jonathan

Categories: Akubra, Aussie, Australia, Australian busman's hat, Australian Life, Blue Mountains, Family & Friends, Inspiration, Japan, Katoomba, The Gathering Place, The Land Down Under, Three Sisters, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On: Stuff

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Guhday Mates, from Dahni your Aussie Tour Guide

Guhday Mates, from Donnie your Aussie Tour Guide

We just recently returned from the Blue Mountains where we rented a rustic cottage with a gorgeous overlook in Katoomba, NSW, (New South Wales), Australia. While I’m picking and choosing the pictures, I’ll give you an update and background information.

The day before we left, baby Felix came down with the croup. Mom, Papa and Grandma took him to the emergency room about 5:00 am – 7:30. I held down the fort with the three cats, one dog and the three chickens (Chooks).

Felix received some medicine and was given instructions that he should definitely go to the Blue Mountains and that all should enjoy the weekend! We followed those instructions to the letter! 🙂

Today, Tuesday 4/15, he went to the doctor and we received a good report. He is a happy boy again and Mom, Papa and Felix just returned from a walk to the supermarket, for stuff to put into the chicken soup, son Jonathan and Mom Susan are making for dinner. We had a lot of chicken left over from last night. Last night? Yes, last night. After we all got back from the Blue Mountains, Jonathan, Susan and I drove to Sydney for dinner. It was NOT an ordinary dinner, to say the least!

We were invited to this dinner and shared it with 16 other people, in a Jewish home. It was part of the Jewish Festival of Passover and called the seder.

The seder, the ceremonial feast held on the first two nights of Passover, is one of the most intricate rituals in the Jewish calendar, kicking off an eight-day stretch of complicated and demanding dietary restrictions. The initial meal, which ranges from eating bitter herbs to reciting Talmudic passages in a foreign language, usually lasts for several hours—and dinner isn’t served until more than halfway through.

The festival commemorates the exodus from Egypt, a key step in the formation of the Jewish people. The seder is not just a retelling of the story, like the weekly Torah readings in synagogue; it’s an invitation for Jews to relive the liberation from slavery as if they had actually been there in Egypt, to teach the narrative to the next generation, and to claim the history of their people as part of their own individual identities. But even in orthodox Judaism, families have long been accustomed to inviting non-Jews to share in this meal, alongside of them. I suppose this is because the desire for freedom and any exodus we may experience from bondage, is common to all.

But this particular seder was somewhat orthodox with some other unorthodox stuff, all thrown in together.

Guests included those from Poland, China, Sri Lanka, Australia and of course, we from the United States, but those are all the countries I can recall. Give me a break please, there were 18 people there besides me! 🙂

Just the guests themselves made an international and unusual impression. I am not quite sure, but I think all the major religions were represented at this dinner. I do know that Judaism, Muslim, Hindi, Christian and Roman Catholics were present.

Parts of the service were read by our host in Hebrew and most was in English and read by whomever desired to read and from the text re-written with a more modern update, by one of the three daughters of our hosts. The reading was done from 2 iPads we passed around the room. 🙂

It was at least to me, quite humorous to hear the readings by those Jewish with an Australian accent.

Part of the service includes the necessity of having “new” plates and utensils for each part. By “new” I mean that the same plates, bowls and utensils had to be changed during the several courses of the service. But in our case, the “new” was plenty of plastic ware. I can’t recall how many plates, small plates, bowls and utensils we used, but it was a lot! Our hosts were very giving in buying all this stuff that was thrown away as we went through each part. Once the ware or utensil was used, it was immediately thrown into a large plastic trash bag. You would eat or drink one thing and then toss the plate or bowls or glass or whatever, as these were now the “old” and had to make way for the “new.” If that seems like a lot of effort, you should have seen all the food! No one left hungry and I would imagine it took 1-2 days of chopping, dicing, cooking and so forth, to prepare this meal! And there was no bread, only Matzo.

Matzo is a flat cracker like food made with flour and water that is baked without yeast or “leavening.” I actually liked it, especially with the pickled (vinegar) beet-horseradish used as part of their “bitter herbs” requirement for the service. I sat right next to our host Lindsay and across from his wife Cheryl. I think they liked me because, I loved the beet-horseradish so much and told them about my tearing eyes and purple thumbs from making this at home. 🙂

The conversations around the room were about Jewish meanings/symbolism, history, WWII history, veterinarian medicine, teaching, psychology, sports food, differences of food between the United States and Australia and other topics! There was so much going on that I was nearly speechless and just did a lot of listening. I know, to those of you that know me best, it’s about next to impossible, for me to keep my mouth shut! 🙂

The whole event from start to finish, took hours. Sometimes, OK, most of the time, it was just loud and raucous. I loved it! And especially among the three Jewish daughters and their mother and father, the banter back in forth was hysterical! I even told Lindsay that I couldn’t believe that from across the room in the midst of all this volume, any of his daughters could still hear if their names were mentioned in conversation with others, but they did!

There were two dogs hoping for scraps that made the rounds. There were a couple of cats, one that is 18 years old that did make the rounds. I think that cat must have sat in every person’s lap that attended this meal. They liked the cat and the cat sure seemed to love the attention and the stroking. I even petted Tibet, the cat. Lindsay confessed that he loves the two dogs, but hates the two cats. But he is still the one that feeds them and they know this, but just keep their distance the rest of the time. I really don’t think he hates them though! 🙂

I enjoyed all the food and even the sweet red wine with grapes from Israel, grown in California, and blessed by some Rabbi in Hoboken New Jersey before, being exported to Australia!  🙂

That was real, but also a joke as there were several like these from the host family including what they call the Jewish chicken soup, ‘Jewish Penicillin Soup’ (good for what ails you and sickness prevention) or simply, ‘Jew Soup.’ That might sound racist and not funny to some, but I’m not the one that said these things. Well, it’s what Susan & Jonathan made for tonight’s supper from the massive quantity of chicken our hosts sent us home with, for Caitlin, as she and Felix did not attend, to everyone’s disappointment, I might add. But all seemed satiated with not just the meal, but from pictures and videos shared by Papa, with Felix as the main attraction! 🙂

The reason we are having soup tonight is because, everyone here was not feeling too well, except for me, I HAD THE CHICKEN SOUP LAST NIGHT, (while Susan & Jonathan had the orange soup)! 🙂

It was so very nice of our hosts to open their home and their hearts and share the costs and time required to prepare their food with, so many non-Jewish people and even with strangers like me that they had never met. I mean come on, can you get any stranger than me? 🙂

I thought it not polite to take pictures, so there are none. but there are 18 other witnesses (not including the two dogs and two cats that it happened and that I was there! 🙂

But this experience is one I will never forget! It was informative, historical, delicious and hilarious with some really good conversation, all thrown in together. And I would like to think that there, just a for a few hours, it seemed the world people in all their many differences and separations, were all ‘In Common, for this meal!

OK, so that’s a lot of content, where’s the pictures? They are coming! It has been difficult for me to get these posts done on a regular basis. For one thing, we are doing a lot of stuff. For another, I have been having problems with my camera, which needs to be addressed when we get back home to the United States. Another problem I am having is with my laptop. It is good to have it, but it does not perform like or have all the programs I use on my desk top at home to edit and quickly reduce the size of pictures to post. I cannot just use full size pictures in these posts, as I will quickly go over my maximum allowance through my WordPress (free blog). The resolution on my laptop is not as good as my desktop at home. But there is much visually, I do want to share with you and I will just have to work it out when we return.

It has also been difficult for me to adjust here. Last night and while in the Blue Mountains, I was layered, including a wool shirt. This morning, I was wearing a short sleeve shirt, sandals with no socks and I would have had shorts on, but they were all in the laundry. This is how it is here, in Australia. It is fall or early winter here, while it is nearly spring 🙂 in New York where we live. In New York, we ‘fell back’ last fall, when daylight savings time ended. Daylight savings time just recently started here. When you are sleeping there, I am awake here. When I should be sleeping here, you are probably awake there. Sometimes here, it’s tomorrow there and sometimes your today is already yesterday here. Then there is the up and down thing. You are up there and we’re down under here. Please don’t ask about which direction the water swirls here as supposed to there, I have not seen it nor can I tell. And when we leave here in a couple of weeks, we leave on the morning of the 30th, spend the night in Tokyo on the 30th, wake up on the 30th, fly home and by the time we get home there, its already tomorrow here and yesterday there! Everything is really messed up, but people that live here, just like you there, are all probably doing fine. It must be just me that’s messed up! 🙂

Oh, about the hat. Yes, I found my Akubra hat, not the one I was looking for, but one better and $30 cheaper and at size 58 not 57, it fits great! More about that later. Closing for now until again. OK, one picture then! 🙂

Blue Mountains from Echo Point, Katoomba, NSW, Austrailia

Blue Mountains from Echo Point, Katoomba, NSW, Austrailia

Categories: Aussie, Australia, Australian Life, Beauty, Blue Mountains, Entertainment, Food, Fun, Holidays, Inspiration, Japan, Passover, Photography, Religion, Spiritual, The Gathering Place, The Land Down Under, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On: We Sent You a Card II

by Donnie Hayden  © 2014, all rights reserved


For those of you for whatever reason(s) are not with us traveling in Australia, we sent you a card. Hope you like it!!! 🙂

From Katoomba, Australia - Blue Mountains

From Katoomba, Australia – Blue Mountains


From Katoomba, Australia - Blue Mountains

From Katoomba, Australia – Blue Mountains

Categories: Aussie, Australia, Australian Life, Blue Mountains, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Inspiration, Japan, Katoomba, Photography, Postal Service, Postcard, The Gathering Place, The Land Down Under, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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