Sweet Peas, Pearls, Stories and Style

Congratulations to the indominable Maria Kenda, AM, who gathered together an impressive group of renowned women to relaunch the Adelaide Ladies Lunch Club at the Naval, Military &Air Force Club of South Australia (Inc.) this week.

Maria launched the club in the 1980s and due to the success of her jewellery design  business, Kendacraft, it lay dormant for years.

And what a flourishing rebirth with the elegant room filled with 30 women, adorned with much bijoux, (particularly pearls) and creating an ambiance as delightful as the sweet peas decorating the table.

Many years have passed since we met in such style and even though most of us are now older women, we recognised each other instantly.  We glowed in the joy of recognition and reunion and those shared stories of our changing lives flowed faster than the wine.

Because the event revealed that one unmistakeable fact, our lives have changed as most have moved from high profile roles into retirement and onto charitable boards, committees or causes.

Maria reintroduced the Golden Spoon idea whereby women are given two minutes to say anything they wish. (I, of course, plugged my website for older, computer-literate readers) and the women who spoke reflected exactly what my blogging hopes to achieve. I want to present women and men who  have metamorphised their lives in mid-life or in retirement, or to report on lives still firing into their dotage.

In my former journalistic career, I had written about a good sprinkling of these women and  Margaret de Zwart was one. Formerly of the Women Chiefs of Enterprise, she rose at the lunch and told us with such pride that her Wyona Alpaca Stud in Young, NSW began 20 years ago when she and husband joined their  children to buy three alpacas at the time of the drought.

One promptly died, another had a problem with mating, but the third went on to breed champions.

“Last weekend we achieved a wonderful achievement, our Wyona Sunsprite was elected Supreme Chanmpion of greys, which are extremely difficult to breed,” said Margaret.

It was at the Victorian Colourbration, Australia’s largest Colour Show in Ballarat and 540 alpacas entered and 205 fleece entries.

“We entered 5 alpaca and came away with nine ribbons.”

Helen Rice spoke about her role as chairperson of the UNESCO club in  Adelaide. “We do two projects every year to help people in need,’’ she said. “This year we are providng back packs for street kids who have been taken off the streets and put into school.  “It’s a special kind of school where they can relate better to what is being taught.

“Their back packs are full of all stationary needs, lunch boxes and things they would need but wouldn’t get from home.’’

At our corner of the table, we listened to  irrepressible baker’s wife, Rosemary  Milisits, who has been the other half of pie king, Vili Milisits for 43 years.  And her stories of daily life in the Milisits household also reveals the other story of women’s  lives – our partnerships with men.

“Vili is totally reliant on me to run his busy life (beyond the business),” she said.   And she told how she orchestrates his many extra community activities and she used as an example those 7am meetings on this or that government advisory council.  “I will have everything ready for him right down to stationery  the night before,” she said.  “Then  I’m the one who will drop  him off at the door of the meeting two minutes before 7’’.

Rosemary  has always been with him since she was 16 years old and he was 17 and an apprentice to renowned patissiere Cazzy.

“When we were married for the first three weeks instead of a honeymoon, his mother came over every night and Vili’s brother would have to bring her and she would stand there with her arms folded across her ample chest and watch me cook,’’ she recalled, immitating the stern stance of her late mother-in-law, Theresa.

“Back then I was the dearest, sweetest naive little girl of 19 and at the end of those three weeks, she said “Poof, this Australian girl can’t cook’’ and she started to send food parcels over to us and she did that for 38 years! “But that allowed me to work in the business.’’

“We have done a lot of work in the community and we never thought he would be in the position to do that.’’

Both are 61 years of age and they have been together for 43 years.

This partnership produces millions of pies and employs 300 people and Vili’s all-hours café in Marleston clocks over 26,000 customers on average over those 24 hours.

What’s that saying about “Behind every successful man……?


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2 Comments to “Sweet Peas, Pearls, Stories and Style”

  1. By Muthig, 08/02/2012 @ 4:54 pm

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