Category Archives: Food and family

Paul’s graduation, and days to be remembered ..

The first few months of this year have slipped away, unnoticed, since the global grip of CV 19. Yet February 2020 was quite a milestone for Paul, and for our family.

On 12th February 2020 Paul was awarded his PHD in Health Policy. The ceremony was held at the Deakin University Campus at Geelong.

Our little granddaughter Joanie was not at all phased by her grandfather’s long gown, but nearly ready to take off in the wind, on this most exciting day!

Five years ago, Paul retired, and immediately began his PHD.  Both Paul and I have always loved learning, and we were both surprised at how many people were amazed that he should start a PHD at 60 years of age.

Paul’ s father and uncles were pharmacists, and many of his family work as health professionals of various kinds.

Not long after Paul was born, (the first child in a family of eight children) Paul’ s father, Frank bought a pharmacy in a small town, Oak Flats on the south coast of New South Wales.

Rebecca and I with Paul’s parents, Margaret and Frank.

Frank, a quietly spoken, knowledgeable man was the perfect pharmacist for a region not blessed with many  health facilities, doctors or clinics. At the end of every day he returned home only after he had delivered prescriptions to elderly patients. As the children grew, the older boys in the family delivered prescriptions  on their bikes on the weekend.

Years after Paul and I had settled in Canberra we met a middle-aged woman who came from Oak Flats. When we mentioned Paul’s father she said,

Oh, I remember Mr Mackey! I came from a big family and my Mum used to get us to ride up to Mr Mackey’s pharmacy when one of the little ones were sick. We couldn’t afford to go to the doctor every time, and Mr Mackey was just as good!”

I always relied on Frank when either of our daughters were sick, and trusted his judgement completely. He was a calming influence to all those who had young children. When we visited Frank and his wife Margaret, our daughters, (the first of many grandchildren) always remembered him making them toast and orange juice before changing into his crisp white coat and going on his long commute to work.

Our daughters Jessica and Rebecca with Frank, in retirement.

As young adults Paul and I left Sydney to work in Canberra. I began teaching, and Paul began his career in the Research Service at the former Provisional (for 60 years!) Parliament House. This building is now the Museum of Australian Democracy.

Over time Paul took over the portfolio of Health, a perfect fit for someone with his background.

As with many young families, we juggled life with one car. Much as I love the Walter Burley Griffin plan of space between suburbs in Canberra, it makes for a long commute home from the centre of the city.

I always parked along the edges of the building to admire the roses nearby.

Most days I would put the girls in the car, drive to Old Parliament House, and park almost outside the front door. I’d often sing songs so that our younger daughter, Jess, didn’t fall asleep while waiting for Dad.

During the time Paul spent at Old Parliament House, a Christmas party for children of employees was held in the lovely grounds of Parliament House every December.

The Christmas party was held in the cricket pitch!

The Senate gardens were spilling over with roses and irises..

What a mild and carefree time it was…

Now there are fences around the building and it looks quite different.

Once new Parliament House was built, Paul moved into this office in Parliament House.

When Parliament was sitting Paul often had to work until 10.00 pm. Our daughters were still young, and it was a long evening without Paul!

Occasionally I would take the girls into Parliament House and meet Paul in the cafeteria for dinner.  The car park we used would be completely inaccessible to the public now. September 11 changed many things over time.

Paul has worked in many sectors of Health since his early days at Parliament House. Throughout his long and varied career he has remained passionate about health care, and equality in our Health system.

Since  Paul retired and began his PHD he has enjoyed juggling studying, gardening, travelling and being a grandparent ….a perfect fit…

You are never too young to learn about sprinkler systems in Australia..

Paul has given papers at many conferences, and I’ve enjoyed going along, hearing and talking to Health professionals. As a bonus we have both enjoyed visiting gardens in various cities, places we may never have visited if not for Paul’s studies.

Brisbane, one of Australia’s northern cities, relaxed and warm in winter!

Auckland, the biggest city in New Zealand. A wonderful country to visit.

Paul and his supervisor enjoying a coffee in Palermo as he prepares for his conference in the city.

Palermo a vibrant and fascinating city, one we might never have seen. Salute to Paul!

On a very windy day in February, Paul graduated, and he wrote a wonderful acknowledgement at the beginning of his PHD, for the support of myself, our daughters, Rebecca, Jessica, and our son-in-law, Anthony, and he ended with this important acknowledgement:

I would also like to thank my mother and late father for all they did to start my learning journey many years ago. This thesis is dedicated to my granddaughter, Joanie, with the hopeful wish for an equitable future.

The pandemic today has shown us all how fragile and central health systems are in our countries, and our world…..and the importance of equity in the survival of us all.

I hope you are all well, and surviving in this new and restrictive world. Where ever you are in the world, I wish you sunshine and warmth, and if you have a garden, may it flourish!

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

Food and family: this is where our stories begin..

Canberra is a small city, so a book launch for two really enticing cookery books, is not to be missed.

We arrived at the speciality kitchen shop, The Essential Ingredient, to hear Emiko Davies and Tessa Kiros talk about their beautifully illustrated cookery books, called Tortellini at Midnight,and Provence to Pondicherry respectively.

Emiko Davies demonstrating her cooking at her book launch

It was an inspiring afternoon, full of wonderful stories of food, family and traditions, in Italy and France (and some food tasting and wine later).

Emiko Davies is Australian-born with a Japanese mother and an Australian father. When she left home to travel the world, Emiko lived in Italy for a while. On a cold miserable night in Florence she made a meal for a young man she did not know very well. All she had in the fridge was broccoli, pecarino and some garlic. When he began to eat the meal he said ”I’m going to marry you!” and two years later they did get married!

The cover of Emiko’s book Tortellini at Midnight

Emiko now lives in Italy with her husband and two children. She has written three cookery books, but in this one she shares stories and some of her favourite recipes from her Italian family. These recipes she has learnt through tasting and watching, usually from the kitchen table.

I cooked the recipe called Nonna Anna’s meatballs (Polpette di Nonna Anna) and it was delicious!

Tessa Kiros was born in London to a Finnish mother and a Greek Cypriot father. When she was young the family moved to South Africa.

Tessa Kiros talking about her writing life in Italy

She is now married to an Italian, living in Italy, and she has written and published many books on food, family and the countries that inspire these recipes.

Provence to Pondicherry by Tessa Kiros

Her most recent book is called Provence to Pondicherry: Recipes from France and Far Away.   Tessa re-traces the steps of early French explorers travelling to Guadeloupe, Vietnam, Pondicherry in India, La Reunion, and Normandy in France.

Tessa has written many books and my favourite is her first book called Falling Cloudberries. 

Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros

She wrote this book about her family, starting with her grandparents, taking each one and weaving the memory of them into stories and  traditional recipes, giving a rich and colourful family history. The title is taken from her memory of living in Finland, and picking the falling cloudberries.

My mother had an old recipe book called “Ouma’s Cookery Book” full of practical recipes for life after the war when food was scarce and people ‘made do’. The book is also full of quotes and comments about life, and could be used as a social history book too.

I love this dear old book because it is a companionable reminder of my mother, and I still have some of her hand written recipes tucked into some of the pages.

It seems, no matter where you come from, food and family create the first memories, and this is where your stories begin..

During a time when I was teaching English to children newly arrived in Australia, a little girl from Lebanon came to me with her painting…all I could see were three colourful moving circles, and a bright yellow sun in the corner of the page. I asked her to tell me about the painting and she said:

“these are my aunties, sitting in the sun, eating, talking and laughing”

Sometimes a happy memory of food and family doesn’t have to be part of a book, it is just a snapshot of life that stays in your heart….

Do you have a favourite recipe, or a cookery book that brings back family memories?

 

(My apologies for some of my photos, they were taken with my Iphone.)

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey All Rights Reserved