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Thursday, 27 October 2016

Wildflower Time and Other news.

Well, I've finished the first draft of book number eleven!  "Land of Giants," sequel to, "Land of Fire," is done!  Over seven months of writing five days a week, and 118 267 words later!

I'm very pleased with how it came out in the end, though just like my readers I am always sorry to leave my characters behind.  It was lovely to revisit Lily, Perry, Bu, Brodie and all the rest, and this time, side characters Andy and Lem got to shine.

Six weeks, give or take, to let it ease out of my mind so it feels fresh and I'll go back in for the second draft.

I'm not going to start writing another book at once as i often do.  It's time for a spring clean here and with fire season just around the corner, we'll be busier with the brigade too.

The vegie gardens need a little TLC too!

I've already got ideas brewing for the next book, though, involving a sequel to, "Chicken Soup for Satan," and a revisit to Satan Smith and his lovely German shepherd, Ghost, and their fun housemates... and spooky things of course!

So, without a couple of hours a day stuck to my desk straining my brain, it feels a bit like holiday time for me!  The spring is in the air, and our walk this morning was blissful; crisp but warm, and the sun was shining in that clear way it has in spring.

Tuppy is having some off lead privileges to see how she goes now she is five and a bit more settled.  So far so good! 

These orchids were beside the path.

And the flame pea type plants, of which there are a multitude of different varieties, were out brightly in the sun, like little jewels amongst the green.

On Thursday, when we went to walk in the reserve across the road, this patch of Leschenaultia was glowing bright.  It is the thickest patch I've seen for a while.  Tuppy had just been sitting up for a treat, which is why she looks like she's doing a dressage levade.  :)  
And the Sundews were sparkling in the sun. They are well named, as each little spot of sticky sap, set to catch insects, picks up the sun like a tiny spot of dew and they truly do sparkle.    

Twinkle twinkle little Sundew!

I have about two granny squares left to go on the latest afghan, so am exploring colours and ways to join them this time.  What do you think?  Too much yellow? Will certainly brighten up all the green!

This wall painting was in a cool book cafe yesterday where I went to wait for two hours because I'd got my appointment time for a doctor wrong!  D'oh!  

Was an interesting thing, though.  I got there way too early but the person who went in before me was a lovely lady and fellow lymie who I am friends with on Fb but have never met in person, so we got to hug at last, and have a lovely chat while she and her delightful partner, Thommo, waited to go in.  

What are the odds that of all this doctor's patients, it should be sweet Tammy who I was there in time to meet at last, by a pure fluke?  Thanks for that, Universe!  I appreciate it! 

Anyway, the wall at the cafe. I think this is rather a good motto for life actually.  :)

It reminds me of this lovely pair of photos that Michelle got at a burn yesterday while I was off sipping tea and eating cake in a cafe in the big city!   Being Fireys is mostly serious, and hard work too, but it is 'right work' and there is a joy in that, and in being with one's team-mates.  This is my sister Jen, who has now fully qualified to be a firefighter, and Andy.


Can't even begin to tell you how much I adore these photos.  :D

There is another hazard reduction burn on tonight and this one I will probably get to, at last!  We only have a small window between too wet and too dry to do these burns, so for a few weeks it gets pretty hectic.  I'm glad the flu has finally cleared long enough for me to feel up to the job!    


Sunday, 23 October 2016

Spring Things.

It's spring so it must be time to mow and mow, and brush cut and brush cut.  This was my effort up the block this morning.

Some brush cutting under the trees and we'll be done up there, I think, unless we get more rain and it all grows again.

This was my gift from nature over the weekend... and I was so excited when I saw it waiting on the grass for me!  It is very rare to find a tail feather from a Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, and I always see it is a sign of good things to come when I do!

We had a good weekend, with a fantastic Saturday morning at Fireys.  We did a jolly breakfast first and handed out choccies and bandannas (the most valuable thing you can have on the fireground) to the new members joining our team this summer.   We have nine newbies, which is so fantastic.  I'll have to be quick when the call-out alarm goes or I'll miss out on a place in the truck!  Just joking, I should think with the bad fire season forecast there will be plenty of work for everyone.

We also got to show off the new auto hose reel for the Light Tanker that our Fundraising Team has raised $5000 to buy.  What a great effort!  Go Team!  We had fun too, making sure meetings were social and chatty as well.  You gotta have fun as well as work when you do these things!  

Andy loves having another new gadget to play with!

Saturday night I went out to dinner with my friends, Amy, Jenny and Lisa, at Lisa's lovely house.  Lisa is one of those people who can make any house into a home with her great eye for art and design.  I met her at Uni when we were both studying art teaching, something neither of us do now, but lucky we did it, or we wouldn't have met!  Sister Jen has worked with Lisa.  Amy we met when I was tutoring at-risk kids and she was Jen's house mate for a while too.

Funny how you can meet so many people with each thing you do, but only some come along with your beyond that thing.  These lovely ladies are some of those people who have stayed.  Nicki, who lives in Tasmania now, and who we met through the amateur theatre days, should have been there too. This was us, minus Lisa, last time Nicki came to visit, quite a few years ago now, (gosh in fact six!) since I forgot to get any pics on Saturday again.  Too busy laughing and chattering!

Aww, look at baby Kelly there!  We had champers for you, Nicky!  (Well, the other three did. Boring me had water.)

Lisa made a gluten free version of this Apple Sharlotka. Nom nom nom!   I asked for the recipe so I can make it again!

Anyway, we had a lovely dinner cooked by Lisa, lots of yummy snacks, and talked so much (as usual) that my voice was croaky next day.  I didn't get home until midnight.  That is unheard-of lateness these days!

Sunday we did lots of chores, which sounds dull but actually if you've been feeling them weighing you down, it feels very good to do them.    

Spring also means lots of baby trees germinating.  This was a little poignant, a baby Jarrah seedling sprouting in the stump of its grand old relative, long gone to Dieback.  I wonder if it will survive?

It might if the wood has softened enough to let it get its roots down in there.  Good luck baby! 

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Fire is Beautiful

It's weird.  I didn't really appreciate the beauty of fire until I became a Firey.  Not unless it was warming my backside in the potbelly stove at home. That doesn't mean I'm anywhere near turning into a firebug, and I'll always treat it with caution and good sense, but look at the life and colour in this:

I particularly like the last one, it looks like a waving person and reminds me of this meme:

This was one of the two bonfires I lit on Wednesday.  This was the other one:

They went up very well indeed, despite there still being quite a bit of rain around.  From now on we'll still be collecting the branches, sticks and fallen leaves, but putting them in the horse float to take to the tip for mulching.  Still, it is nice to get a bit of a headstart by doing some burning in winter.

Andy from our Brigade got this lovely pic of fire in a grass tree the other day at a controlled burn.  Grass trees burn fast and hard, but they come back amazingly well.

Controlled burns are something we do here to help lower the flammable materials in the bush so that bushfires are less likely.   Our bush is mostly adapted to handle fires, so it isn't as disastrous at is would be in, say, a conifer forest.  There are two sets of opinions about as to whether it is good for the bush to burn it too often, but while the jury is out, we'll keep doing it.  It's not like we get to the same area too often. Some reserves haven't been burned in 35 years and more. A cool burn every now and then has to be better than a raging bushfire that kills even the adapted trees, and with the climate getting drier here, we are getting worse fires every year.

This lovely shot was taken at a night burn our brigade did last week.  I'm finally feeling much more consistently myself so hopefully can go to the next one.  I feel left out.  :)

And for a change of colour, here is our little oak tree up at the block, putting out all its lovely fresh leaves and feeling springy.

I'm writing again!  Woo hoo!   114 379 words as of right now, with a bit more writing to do today if I get the chance between the chores.  It's a chorey time of year, both at home and at the Brigade, and an Equipment Officer's work is never done!


Monday, 17 October 2016

Jenny and Fifi Triumph!

Went to watch my sis and her huge giant baby horse, Fionn, who is now almost five, at their first ever riding club lesson yesterday.  They did so well and looked so good, I was proud as punch of both of them.

He was pretty excited on the inside, but as she said, he made good choices to look and learn instead of being silly, and he was so interested in everything, and they looked quite the team. You'd never know how green he was.   

There were times when he was moving in the most beautiful self carriage, and he has such a lovely rhythm, and Jen wisely hasn't rushed this big baby out of rhythm by hurrying him.  She has let him come to his balance and more impulsion in his own time, and this is the result.   

 She was so happy, and who could blame her!

 He even lined up like an old horse in between his turns.

Though he did have fun while he was waiting, by knocking over the chair and dressage marker.  He didn't even scare himself when he did that.  He is going to be one cool cookie!

 He is so intelligent and loves to poke his nose into everything.

In the afternoon they had another lesson, all very low key to make sure he had a good day and ended on a good note, and he even got to do some tiny jumps out on the cross country, which he also enjoyed. With generations of Eventers and Irish hunters in his pedigree, he is surely born to jump!

They were both magnificent. It is no easy to thing to raise a young horse, especially a huge one, and Jen has worked so hard, bravely and carefully at getting every stage of his training just right.   Now she is getting to the stage where they can go out and have fun together at last!

Go Jen and Fionn!

In other news, the little chookies only took two nights to work out how to get up to the high perch, and the gap on the perch between the two halves of the flock is narrowing. I got this pic of one of our Bronzewing pigeons yesterday evening when putting away the big girls.  I have never got so close to one as I can get to this well-fed bugger!  He thinks he owns the chook pen now and picks at scratch at my feet like another chicken!

I'd be happier if he used some of all that food he and his friends are stealing to lay me an egg.  :D

I am up and down for energy still.  I've managed to go back to lyre playing after the longest break ever.  I was playing Mondream yesterday and Andrew popped out to let me know he was off to do some computer support for a friend, and I had to laugh at the company that came and went with him.

 The pied piper of Tuppys and chickens.  :D

Today I did manage to make two lovely almost-paleo fruitcakes for him.  Fruitcake is one of his favorites.  They have vanilla and fresh zest of lemons and oranges in them, so the smell in the cottage as they cool off right now is insane.  I add a teaspoon each of cinnamon and mixed spice, and use butter instead of oil, and low GI cane sugar instead of coconut sugar.  Just in case you want to try that recipe and have it come out like mine.    

I'm determined to get a least some word of my novel today.  I think I've had a whole month off due to this stoopid flu!  I'm feeling better about it now as my health returns.  I know where I'm going and have the brain power now to do it.   Not far to go!

The dogs enjoyed the cuppa time at Mum's this morning. I liked the juxtaposition of the two young ones, brother and sister, off sunning, while the two older ones, grandmother and daughter, sleep nearby at our feet.  One of each colour at each position!



Friday, 14 October 2016

Drumming and Peeping

We have three new chickens as of yesterday!  I was tired of only getting one egg a day so decided it was time we perked up the old pensioner flock with a few youngsters.  These girls are only eight weeks old so will be a while before they start laying.

It was a lot of fun to watch them begin to explore the chook dome as soon as they were released. At this age they love to run around flapping their wings, so they did a lot of that, and then they took about two seconds to find the little bits of grass poking through the wire and start pecking it, despite probably never having seen grass before.  Not long after that they were turning their sweet little heads sideways to look up for possible perches, and in no time were jumping up to the perching spots in the dome.  Amazing how strong their instincts are.

At bedtime, when it was nearly dark, so they were sleepy, I tried to settle them in a warm nesting box with hay in it, but they wanted up, so I lifted them one by one up to the sleeping shelf to sleep beside the big girls, and they settled down in no time, just a little way away from the grumpy old chooks. So far the old girls have been fairly horrified by them, but I haven't seen any bullying. I think getting them young like this offers them some protection because they still make baby peeping noises and perhaps chooks are wired to be nicer to peeping babies.  It truly is the most charming sound.

Kitty, Cyrano, makes a cameo appearance in this too, looking bright and beautiful in the spring sunlight.  :)  I think you can just hear the baby chickies peeping, that and the local wild birds, and the mortally offended adult chooks in the distance complaining about the babies, and the kids screaming across the road at the school.  It isn't always peaceful living here!

It's so funny when they run around madly, flapping their little baby wings at the end.

The nice guy at the local stockfeed store picked me out three somewhat different-coloured ones so I can tell them apart.  One is spotty so I was calling her Spot a lot, so I decided this generation can have cliched dog names. So, we now have Spot, Rover and Fido to go with Nanny Ogg, Madame Blavatsky, Mrs Guppy and Spock.  I am nothing if not eclectic in my chicken naming.  :D

I'd been very tempted to get a heritage breed this time, but with being sick and all, the thought of raising day olds just now was too hard, and anyway I truly do love the outgoing personalities of the Hylines.    

I got a photo of Andrew heading off to work yesterday too, with his new work ute. I am so happy for him I could cry.

He is so close to his work now, he can even join us for our dog walks before heading off.  This morning he got this photo for me of the thickest bunch of trigger plants I've ever seen in one area.

Can you see all the white flowers?  There are some blue Leschenaultia there too.

It was this area that was burned just last year.  Trigger plants apparently like a post-burn environment.  They are amazing plants.  Every smallish white flower has a little stem that sticks up and away form the centre, and when an insect comes to take the nectar from the flower, the little trigger-stem pops over and daubs the insect square somewhere on the body with pollen and collects pollen left there by other plants. hey even have different contact positioning for different types of trigger plants so they don't mix up the pollen! How clever is that?

Spang!  Gotcha!
If you go to the site this pic came from, you can see a little bit of film showing it happen. 

I must say, I found the walk exhausting this morning though we didn't go far.  I'm still post flu, and also very anemic which is an issue because I can't tolerate taking supplements, so I am limited to using a skin cream with iron in it, and eating steak as much as possible.  It's a horrible feeling of being both weak and tired.  Reminds me way too much of the Lyme Disease years, I can tell you.  Flashback to the bad old days!  Scary!

We went to drumming on Wednesday night because I was determined to get there to farewell one of the circle leaders, Simon, who is off to the Eastern States to live for a few years.   We went to his house to drum at his drum circle.  It was worth the effort.  Such lovely people and a great place to drum.  I got pretty tired so was not at my best in my drumming, but Andrew had a lot of fun with the doons.

And Glenn, Michelle and Simon were having fun too.

Altogether there were eight of us drumming, which was really good because we could play around a lot with parts.

I must admit we left earlier than the others, because I was just weary to the bone.  I've missed two controlled burns this week too, dammit.  Hope I'm back to normal soon!  There is so much to do here around the property and with the brigade, and I still haven't started writing again either.  You'd think by now I'd know all about letting my body dictate what I can do, but nope, I still fight it, in fact I think I'm worse now because I just don't want miss a single day of my new active life that I still appreciate so much!

Andrew was at the night burn this week and got this great pic of Andy.  It was perfect for the banner of our brigade's facebook page. 

Hopefully by the time I post again I'll be all better and able to post more interesting stuff that I've done as well!