Tuesday, 31 July 2007

In Memoriam

Christa Johnstone
16th May 1930 - 31st July 2007

Christa was my uncle's wife and lived in New South Wales.

I didn't see her often but I have a few memories of her.
One was a love of lady bird beetles.

Another was a story about Christa that goes to the heart of cross cultural marriages: Christa was German, Russell, her late husband, Australian. Christa had learned that Russell liked corned beef and set about buying and cooking some for him. She purchased some corned topside beef but was unsure how to cook it. Corned beef is salted and is cooked by boiling; to remove the salt. Not aware of this Christa set about cooking it the only way she knew: roasting. She inadvertently compounded the issue by doing a very German thing to the roasting meat: she put a layer of anchovies on it. I think they ate out that night.

The following photo is not a good one but is the only one I could find. I think I am about seven or eight, with Christa in front of my childhood house.

After my original post, Christa's daughter, Undine, sent me the following email:

Dear Lee,

Thank you for blogging my mother - she would be absolutely amazed at the technology and touched by your thoughts and the beautiful comments they inspired from others.

She was proud to have you as her nephew and took great interest in your studies and achievements and also of Margaret and the boys.

The only faultering of that was when you were staying with us during your work experience with ICI and she walked into her immaculately kept house only to find the kitchen floor covered in paint during your period of artistic enlightenment - but that's another story....

The fact that your parents made the long trip from Melbourne to Bowral for the funeral meant more to me than anyone but they will know. I love them both dearly. It was a bitterly cold day (it snowed the day after), but the service was beautiful and the wake was just perfect. She would have loved to have been there in person - at her favourite winery (Centennial Vineyards, Bowral), a roaring fire, delicious food, great wine and exceptional company.

I have attached my favourite photo of her. I took it on Mothers Day 2006. She was turning 76 the week after (born 16/5/1930). It's probably not how you remember her, but the sparkle in her eyes is the same as are the beautifully polished nails!

I laughed at your story of the corned beef with anchovies. Our favourite 'special' meal was a fillet of beef roasted with anchovies and red wine, served with sugar glazed baby onions, green beans and boiled cocktail potatoes. Obviously something got lost in translation.

I will send you the recipe.

I would have added this to your blog but at work we have too much security and I have too little knowledge....

Love to all.




  1. My sincere condolences to your family and those who have known and loved her.
    I like the photo, just look at those angry clouds in the back ground.

  2. I'm sorry you will no longer be able to see her, but it's lovely to have good memories of Christa. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I'm sorry about this too..but it's good you have fond memories of her. Love the photo.

  4. May she rest in peace.

    And may you and your family have peace as well.

  5. A nice tribute to one who was loved.

  6. Isn't this blogging thing wonderful at times.. now there are people who have never met Christa, or you either for that matter, thinking fond thoughts about her (and who will now probably think of her, and you, whenever they eat corned beef and are grateful it has been boiled!

    A lovely tribute, Lee.

  7. lee, i'm so sorry to hear about christa. no one could produce such an eloquent and loving tribute as you. you have honored her well. thank you for sharing her with us here. big hugs, snowsparkle

  8. A nice tribute, Lee. I think it is good that loved ones are remembered by the humorous stories about their lives.

    As Joyce Grenfell wrote:

    If I should go before the rest of you
    Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone,
    Nor when I'm gone speak in a Sunday voice
    But be the usual selves that I have known.
    Weep if you must, Parting is hell,
    But life goes on, So sing as well.”

  9. ...and what beautiful flowers out front of the house, too!
    It sounds like, what with the nice memories and all, you're celebrating her life more'n mourning her passing, which makes the memory of her even more wonderful. (learned that from Mayden)

  10. So very sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing that wonderful story about Christa. It is wonderful memories that help mitigate the pain.

  11. My best wishes and thoughts to you and your family, Lee.

    My mouth puckered at the thought of that roasted, anchovied corned beef! lol Oh! Dear! Haven't we all done something similar!

  12. My sincerest condolences.

    It is my hope that at least one of my nieces of nephews will have something fond to recall about me someday...

    hmmmmm..thinking here...( frown )

    Your tribute was beautiful.

  13. If it's the only photograph, then it's also a good one.

  14. My sympathies, Lee. I'm sorry I did not see this sooner.


Moderation cuts in six days after posting.