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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Dream Specialist Interview

To listen to my chat with Carole J Toms, the Dream Specialist, ND, click on this link

It's just under an hour long so you'll need a bit of a clear space in your day!  The first half is on dreams and their interpretation and the second half is chatting about my books and Australia.

I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to your comments.  Cheers!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


The golden sunset the other evening.  Taken from my balcony.

Bella looks outside and ponders the rain.  She wouldn't go out onto the balcony even though it's sheltered...she's such a wuss!

After weeks of lovely warm sunny weather, it's been raining on and off for the last two days.  Not that I'm complaining...not at all.  We need the rain and this will be the last hooray before the dry season sets in when there will be very minimal rain for the next few months.  The temperature dropped yesterday though and I dragged a fleece top out of the bag where my winter clothes were all packed away, donned it and promptly felt overdressed...but warmer.
According to the weather forecast last evening the night time temps are due to drop towards the weekend so I suppose the winter PJs will be coming out of the same bag.  I'll worry about it when it happens...

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I went along to the monthly meeting of my writers' group on Saturday where we were informed about marketing techniques for selling our books.  Most interesting and I was able to instigate one or two the next day.  All I have to do is wait another 4 or 5 days before I can put some of the others into practice.  I thought Seniors' Week, held in August, would be a good opportunity as my book is about seniors behaving badly.  Fortunately I don't mind public speaking so I'll contact some of the seniors' organisations regarding that (and hopefully sell one or two books!)

Another get together I look forward to is our writers' nights (held on a Wednesday night, also once a month), where we snack on nibbles and indulge in a glass or two of wine.  It encourages the creative juices to flow...  One of the characters we have to write about is Molly the Mad Witch and what she gets up to.  Last time she was giving a dinner party for Macbeth's ghost along with a few cronies and we had to write down a three course menu.  Creativity came to the fore and various unusual, weird and sometimes nauseating dishes were conjured out of our imaginations.  I hope Macbeth and his cohorts would have enjoyed it!  We had a lot of laughs.

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I've been fighting off a cold for the last few days.  I'm quite offended at having to do this because I just don't get colds!  As this whatever it is seems determined to prove me wrong, there has been quite a tussle going on.  I'm winning though...honey for the ticklish throat and annoying cough plus Vicks on my chest at night and plenty of fluids.   I wasn't able to have chicken soup because it's been too warm to make any, however I may have to rethink that one.

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I was advised years ago that if one can't say something nice about something/someone, say nothing at all.  Hence, there's no book review today.

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We had our ANZAC Day dawn services and parades last Friday.  It's just wonderful to see how many young people are helping to keep alive this most important day for Australian and New Zealand returned servicemen.  As I read about one misguided person who berated us for "honouring" war, I was saddened to think that was how some people saw it.  We don't honour war, we remember our loved ones and all the brave men and women who have given their lives to keep our two countries free from those who would have liked to over run us.  I also find it sad about the lack of knowledge which besets those who make insensitive comments like that above.

There are also those who want to scrap calling it ANZAC Day because it's discriminatory to our many migrant Australians.  Without denigrating our new Aussies in any way, I must point out that many of them weren't living here or fighting for their new country and I'm sure they would be the first to recognise that.  Sometimes political correctness really goes too far and these outlandish proposals are thought up by people who have little else better to do with their time.
Okay, rant over.  Just thought I'd state my thoughts.

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I hope you all had a lovely Easter with your loved ones and that the chocolate indulgence didn't cause too many guilty feelings.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Beach Weather

Ready for my walk.

A bird's eye view.

(Hopefully) catching dinner.

A lone pelican hopes for a 

It is the first Easter break for several years where we haven't had a wet four day weekend.  Consequently, people are at the beach and out on the water.  The temperature is about 26/28C with a slight breeze.

I walked down to our little beach both yesterday and today during the afternoon.  I like going early in the morning but it's too dark now and also a bit chilly; I don't like chilly!  Yesterday there were families picnicking, kids playing on the swings and slide, swimming and building sandcastles.  Today, there were only a few people, some with their dogs, taking in the beautiful weather.

The Broadwater was very busy with jet ski riders, people in their tinnies put-putting along and small yachts with their sails making a splash of colour on the blue of the water.  There were large launches, charter boats and of course, a paraglider or two.  I could see the small helicopters taking holiday makers on their 15 minute flight over the water and occasionally hear and see Cloud 9, the Seaworld amphibian, taking off.

I sat on the sand and relaxed, not thinking of anything, just enjoying the soft breeze and the feel of the sun on my arms and legs.  After about half an hour, I picked up my sandals and water container and wondered along the beach, paddling in the water which was surprisingly warm...  probably because the tide was coming in and washing over the warm sand.

As I walked back along the esplanade I could see lots of empty berths in the marina, no doubt people were off in their vessels and enjoying the beautiful weather out on the water.

I'll be back at the beach again tomorrow.

* * * * * * * *

I'd been to the library a few days before Easter to stock up on some reading material for the weekend.  I always feel that choosing books is a bit of a gamble, especially if the author is new or unknown.  I've had a few duds lately but this time, I was very pleased because I had managed to find some books that held my interest and were extremely well written.

Which brings me to the current book review...

Paris by Edward Rutherford (Hodder & Stoughton 2013)

At a little over 800 pages, Rutherford has written a big robust book and I couldn't put it down!  This novel of the City of Lights involves four families across the centuries and encompasses the days of the Belle Epoque, French Revolution, two World Wars and the Resistance.  The tale is full of love, betrayal, corruption and intrigue causing heartbreak and grief.  We meet Monet, Chagall, the Sun King, Eiffel (he of tower renown) and Ernest Hemingway amongst other historical figures.

If you enjoy history, you'll love this book.  Rutherford (author of Sarum), has the knack of bringing his characters to life in the conflicts and intrigues of their respective times.  Because of the complex nature of the novel, he's given the family trees of all families as well as maps of old Paris and modern Paris.  I found the family trees, especially, very helpful as there are so many characters involved.

 A good book for a long lazy weekend.

Rating:  *****

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I hope you have a lovely Easter with your families, including lots of chocolate and hot cross buns.  If travelling, keep safe and enjoy the journey.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Bits and Pieces.

 Some photos from my trip to the Northern Territory and about which I'm currently writing a book.

 A cockatiel sitting on a magnificent carved wooden eagle in a bar on one of the numerous truck stops on the Stuart Highway between Darwin and Katherine.


Mum and Harold soak their feet and others relax in the warm springs at Katherine.  When returning to our coach, we saw a sign warning that crocodiles sometimes inhabit the springs!

The nest of a brown bower bird with the white objects he's collected and arranged outside to attract a mate.  If she turns her nose up at this, he will rearrange them over and over again and add to the collection until she likes it and agrees to be his lady love.

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Well, as now doubt you've seen from the statuses I and others have put on Facebook, there has been the mother of all tropical cyclones hit Far North Queensland over the last few days.  Although a lot of damage was done and heavy rain is still falling, no one has been killed or seriously injured. Mind you, people in the Far North are a savvy lot and have seen it all before so they're always ready.

It's raining here on the Gold Coast now and on looking at the satellite map, the cloud from Cyclone Ita stretches quite a long way inland and as far down as northern New South Wales.  I hope our poor farmers out west, who have suffered shockingly from drought conditions, get some of this much needed rain.  Ita is still a category 1 and is heading south although appears to be going back out to sea.  I hope she keeps going in that direction and doesn't decide to come back in and hit us folks further south.  

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As you have also probably seen on my FB status and in the link on the right hand side of my blog page, the writing group I belong to, North Gold Coast Active Writers, has released their 2013 anthology on Amazon both in hard copy and for Kindle.  Paw Prints on Our Hearts (click on this link ) contains beautiful stories of animals...true, mythical, magical and humorous.  If you want a copy for your Kindle, it's presently being offered free but for 48 hours only.  We're generous people here on the Gold Coast!

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Book Review.

The Grass Castle by Karen Viggers (Allen & Unwin 2014)

Set in the Brindabella Range and high country of the border between New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, this book tells the story of Abby, a country girl and a loner.  She is an ecological science student at university and spends a lot of her time in the ranges studying and tracking kangaroos.

Abby finds it hard to commit to relationships due to horrific trauma when she was younger and which she has locked away in her subconscious.  Until the journalist, Cameron Barlow, tries to breach her defences.  

Abby makes a friend of Daphne, an elderly lady, who reminds Abby of her grandmother, and who has her own story to tell, which eventually becomes the catalyst for helping Abby come to terms with the past.

I found this book extremely satisfying for a number of reasons.  Ms Viggers' descriptive narrative puts the reader right in the picture without being too wordy and overlong.  Her prose is beautiful and evokes the senses of the reader so they become completely caught up in Abby and her story, without it becoming overly sentimental.  The author's vivid descriptions of the Australian bush are captivating as is her story of the Indigenous people, whose country this is.

A beautifully written book and one of the few I virtually inhaled in almost one complete reading, to the detriment of everything else! 

Rating:  *****

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

I've Had a Lovely Week

Laser eyes.  I think my cats have been possessed.

Last Friday I did my monthly shop.  I really think I'll have to change it to fortnightly because it takes me ages then I have to make several trips to get it inside...up a flight of 16 stairs (a friend counted them), before putting everything away.  It's a bit of a chore and it's also hell on my back and for the next few days I'm getting around like an old woman (that fact that I am an old woman is immaterial!)

I'd briefly met the young couple from downstairs who seemed very pleasant and this particular day they were cleaning out before having a garage sale the following day.  We had a chat and I asked if friends of mine (who are avid garage sale visitors) could come around and have a look later on then remarked I'd better get on and haul my shopping upstairs.  I'd taken some bags of stuff up and heard Jamie call out to ask if my car boot was unlocked. I went down to see what was going on and she'd loaded herself up with bags of stuff, told me to add some more to what she was already carrying and took off upstairs with them.  In one trip she had done the lot where it would have taken me half a dozen trips or more up and down the stairs.  I was so very grateful for this thoughtful and spontaneous gesture of assistance.

The next day, Jamie and Steve were up early and had everything all set out for their big garage sale.  They had heaps of stuff and I spent an enjoyable time looking through clothes, books and some of the smaller things they had laid out.  I found two handbags and a huge Penny Vincenzi book which, to my delight, I hadn't read.  When I asked Jamie how much it all was, she refused to take any cash.  Even though I insisted, she was adamant.

Later Steve took their young son to football and Jamie was there on her own.   I went down and kept her company for a while then friends of hers arrived so I went back upstairs.

Lunchtime, I made myself a chicken and salad sandwich and noticed Jamie still sitting in the shade with her book while waiting for potential customers.  Now was my chance to return her generosity. I took some more bread out, made another chicken and salad sandwich, covered the plate with cling wrap and took it down to her.

Among other things, Jamie is a fully qualified chef.  Now I don't put butter on my salad sandwiches, instead I use avocado with a small amount of tangy mayonnaise before adding the mixed salad and chicken.  When Jamie returned my plate she complimented me on the sandwich and remarked on the fact that I didn't use butter.  Apparently, she makes her salad sandwiches the same way I do.

On the Sunday, I drive to the farmers' produce markets about 20 minutes' drive away.  I prefer these particular markets because as well as fresh fruit, eggs and vegetables, I can get my meat there.  I don't like buying meat from the supermarket as the quality is never as good as buying from the outlets that I use.  I bought some chicken and macadamia sausages, a couple of chicken, spinach and fetta filo parcels and some Wagyu minute steaks.  I'm not keen on thick steak and the thinly sliced minute steaks are perfect.  I didn't need a terrific amount of meat as I still had plenty in the freezer from my previous trip about a month earlier.

It was time to pick up my onions, mushrooms,  Roma tomatoes, capsicums, fresh mixed salad, zucchini and celery.  I also grabbed a rockmelon and a couple of punnets of lovely fresh strawberries then it was time for coffee. 

That was my trip to the markets.

Earlier in the week I'd had my radio interview.  The lady who interviewed me has her own radio programme which is heard via computer all over the world.  She is a dream interpretation specialist but also asked me about my books as well as the writing group I belong to...I took the opportunity to give both a good plug!

Once she lets me know when the programme is up, I'll post the link on my blog and if you wish, you'll be able to listen to it at your leisure.

That was my lovely week...I hope I have more of them!