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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Cover Art Sneak Peek

I've been really occupied today with working on the cover art for Freya and the Hairy Goddess, in between baking and cleaning and goodness knows what else. I don't know where the days go at the moment!

We don't take much notice of NYE here.  I think it tends to make people too desperate to have fun, since it is *supposed* to be such a fantastic night.  We'd rather avoid the freneticism. Instead we're going to have a date night at home.  We're planning to put a roast in the oven and snuggle up on the couch to watch Romeo and Juliet, the first movie we ever went to see together, then we'll take a walk into the paddock and look at the stars.

We'll probably be all tucked up and asleep well before midnight.  (So long as the local firebugs refrain from lighting any new ones!) Thank Goddess for the sense a bit more age bestows upon us.  In my younger years I'd have been out "freneticking" with the best of them.   

I don't want to show you too much of my cover art yet, but here's a teaser, one of the sketches, of which there are rather many!

I hope it wets your appetite for the full cover, and the book!

One of those "memories" things came by my facebook page the other day and showed me a picture of Tuppy this time four years ago. Hard to believe that exactly fours years ago, Tuppence was only this big. 

Already obsessive though!  She's trying to hypnotise me into coming to do some training in this pic.

 And she drove her mum, Rosie, bonkers at times as well. These pics always crack me up. Poor Rosie was so patient!

Tuppy wore us all out, herself included.

But she loved her Mama.

And embarrassed her just like all daughters do. 

She was such a bright little cutie patootie! (Still is at four.)

Have a good New Year's celebration, and keep safe!  I'll see you in 2016! 


Sunday, 27 December 2015

Perth from on high

It's going to be a hot one today!  41C which is about 105F.  We've already been up to water our little baby trees up at the block this week, and the Oak and Liquid Amber get an extra water each week too.  The little Oak looks great this year.  It has put out side branches and looks like a miniature version of a big trees!

This tree is a fourth generation baby that stems from my Great Grandma's lovely Oak tree that she loved so much.  We had Christmas Eve dinner under my uncle Greg's tree, which he also loves and which is the second generation, grown from an acorn which came from our Nanny Smith's tree. Mum has a couple of third generation Oaks here that she grew from Greg's tree.  As a Druid, I love that we have a family tree tradition. Maybe that's one reason why I am a Druid.  :)

Unlike the local native plants, who pretty much get by alone after one summer of care, our baby Oak tree is going to need some years of nurturing to get it to the stage where it can look after itself, but once it has its roots down far enough it should be ok. One day it will hopefully shade the house of the person who builds here, whoever that might be.  That may or may not be us!

Every year or so, we pop up the road ten minutes to check out the place we lived in in 2000/2001.  Actually, we don't go to look at the house, we go to see how our trees are going!  This verge was totally bare when we bought this block of land. It had been bulldozed to put in underground water and power and was nothing but compacted gravel.  We and our neighbours across the road both planted up the verges on our sides and cared for them over those first summers, and look at it now! 

You'd never know it had once been bare!

Last weekend, I went with Andyroo to meet a group of amateur radio friends of his, the F-Troop group.  I listen along on the weekends to this group, so I wanted to put some faces to call signs.  I took crochet along, since I expected to be totally out of my depth at all the radio talk and was happy to just let the chat flow over me, but actually they are a really nice crowd and I was not particularly left out.  Thanks guys! :)

The dog there is Barry's seeing eye dog, Pluto. I was happy to see a Labrador doing one of the things they do best, and since he was off duty I got to give him a nice pat and tummy rub.

The meet-up was held at Wireless Hill, a park near the centre of Perth.  It was cool to find they have kept one of the old aerial supports as an observation tower.  Note the thumb over camera!  Still not got the hang of using mobile smart phones.  :)

I had a lot of vertigo in the lyme years and would not have attempted this climb up the open metal stairs that circled the tower, but I actually went up it twice, and once all by my self!  The view at the top was lovely. You could see right across the Canning River to the Swan River and beyond that to the city of Perth proper.

I haven't messed with the colours there.  It really was that purpley-blue!

There was a photo mounted at the top, showing what this view looked like in 1935.  There was basically nothing there but bush and the odd homestead from one side of the landscape to the other.

Now it looks like this!

And there's our dusty, ancient hills to the east, behind which is our beloved forest home.  When I go east towards them, I feel them pull me homewards like a cord tugging at my heart.  Other Hills people say the same thing. We call Perth itself "The Flats" and not always kindly.  :)

This lovely trees was in Wireless Hill park.  It had kind of willowy branches, and am amazing puzzle of a trunk.  A Eucalypt of some kind but I have no idea what.   

I think it must get windy up on that hill at times, to see the shapes the trees have taken!

Today I am going to be working on my cover art for Freya and the Hairy Goddess.  My first readers loved the story, so now it is all go to get it ready for publishing.  That means more editing, and getting my act together on the cover!  I've done a lot of drawings and now it's time to start putting the cover art onto the canvas.  I've been a little ambitious, so we'll see how it comes out.  I'll try to remember to do progress shots for you.

Here's my last Amigurumi gift of the Christmas period. It's a 'faithful' rendering of our Brigade Captain, John, which I gave to his wife Vicki in thanks for all her hard work for the Brigade.  Vicki is lovely and she loved this gift, even the rendering of his bald head, luckily!  :D 

The only pattern I had for this one was a small doll pattern I made up for myself when I made mini-Odin.  After that I wung it.  :) 

Finally, here's a picture Andrew got of Angus and Tess snoozing under the table over at Mum's.  Angus loves his Grandma Tess.  I think she would prefer a little less snuggliness  :)


Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas Amigurumi!

Yay!  I finally get to post the Amigurumi critters I gave out to family last night!

Firstly, more minicorns!  I've definitely made more of these guys, by Ahooka, than anything else, but I do love their cheeky little selves so much.  The green one and blue one are for my nieces.  The yellow one is mine and was just enjoying hanging out in the herd for a while.  :)


They were much appreciated!

Next was a not-very-big-bad-wolf for my niece's fella, James.  He's from a pattern by Amigurumi To Go. 

He came out as rather an enthusiastic and friendly wolf actually.  :)

After that comes Artistic Annie, who I made for my Aunty Wendy, who is also very artistic.

Annie is so creative that she made all her own clothes, even her hat! She is from this pattern by Red Heart Yarns.

The last Amigurumi I can't show you yet, because it has yet to be gifted!

The dogs found this guy hiding under paint can the other day.  I was surprised when they started sniffing around the can and I lifted it to find such a big Bobtail Skink there!  I thought it might be a tiny lizard or a mouse!

Ever since we were kids, we've enjoyed messing with the Bobtails.  We would catch them (to protect them from our bobtail-murdering Cairn Terrier, Dougal) then pick off the ticks, give them a feed of tomato, watermelon or strawberries, then release them somewhere safer.

This guy got hidden under some nice, tight dog-proof bushes, and given a cucumber to eat. They love anything juicy, and cucumbers are what I've got lots of just now!

First, though, I had to give him a good head rub. They love this. You can kind of hypnotise them, even the wild ones, with a nice finger rub.  Must feel lovely to have your head rubbed when you can't reach it with your stumpy legs!

We had our family Christmas last night so today we are just being quiet and waiting to see if we get called out to a fire.  You never know, we might even get that shed built that's been waiting two years to be put together!

Last night was such fun.  I feel so lucky to have my family. They are all such genuinely wonderful people.  I hope you are having as pleasant a holiday season as I am!  With so much socialising to do right now, I'm really feeling the strength of my Lyme Disease recovery now, and it's bliss.  If you have lyme too, don't give up.  It's been four years of treatment now for Andrew and I.  It's no easy road back, but by golly, you can do eeeet, and it's worth it! 



Sunday, 20 December 2015

On a Midsummer's Day.

Young and cheeky Jenny and Tina turning pruney in the pool for the millionth time.

It really really is a midsummer day, in fact today as I write this, it is the Summer Solstice, a festival celebrated by many Pagans.  It is the day when the sun is up for the longest of all, and when the night is the shortest of all.  This time of year is celebrated by many people for all sorts of reasons, but the celebrations all tend to be built around joy and energy and being together with those we love.  I don't mind what you call it, just be nice to each other and try not to have too many expectation as to how it should go, because that way lies disappointment.  Best to just relax and see what happens.  :)

Dogs, of course, must be involved, sometimes more than we'd like!

The late, great, Tam, who always felt that every empty chair at a family do was for her.
Today here it is very hot and due to be hotter tomorrow, but luckily for us it looks to be cooling down a little for Christmas Day.  As a child of Australia, I associate Christmas day with the feeling of sweltering around the table with my loved ones at a big Christmas lunch or dinner, sometimes outside to fit in better, or to keep a bit cooler than an un-airconditioned house.  Christmas means with playing in the pool or at the beach, eating salads and watermelon and drinking ice cold drinks.  Bring it on!    :)

The year I went crazy and made pinatas for every occasion, including Christmas!

We do miss Andrew's family very much at this time of year.  His mum and Granny have passed on, and his sister, nieces and nephew all live in the USA now. His mum, Jean loved Christmas and always went to town on baking, decorating and making it so special for us all.  His family were so lovely to me.  I will always remember with fondness how they took me to their collective breasts, so to speak, and made me welcome into their family as a new girlfriend.  That was almost 19 years ago!

Andrew's "Old Granny" (because Jean was now Granny) was a bit of a card.  She still had a Scottish accent and I always used to smile to hear Jean address her in that accent because that was how she heard things best.  She was already in her nineties when I met her, still spry, and driving Jean bonkers by moving things about in the garden all the time.

At one stage, there were four generations of women living in that house at the same time!  Can you imagine?!  It's a credit to their good natures that it worked so well.

Ah well, our thoughts do turn often to lovely Jean at this time of year, that's for sure.

I hope you have a lovely Summer Solstice, whatever you choose to call it.  Love your loved ones as hard as you can, and have fun!


Thursday, 17 December 2015

A Fun Musical Evening

This is me having a quiet moment with the Queen Jarrah up at our block.  She is feeling so much better.  I did a healing journey for her and her spirit came along and enjoyed it so much that I now call her The Flying Jarrah, because she so loved being able to travel on the inner plane so freely.  She knows how to do it on her own now.  Her energy was so forbidding before, but I planted her the baby trees I promised her, then did the healing journey for her, and now her energy is so much lighter and brighter, and she is putting out many new leaves.  Even trees like it when you keep your promises and give them a little love.

There was no drumming circle this week, so instead Andyroo and I picked up my guitar, Pele el Kabongo, and his ukulele and took ourselves off to my sister, Jenny's place for an evening of jamming.

It was lovely to arrive and find that our oldest niece on that side, Tee, was there too with her significant other, James, who is rather a guitar whizz.  The extra two people made for a much more musical but even more chaotic night! 

We got a few little videos and I thought you'd like to see them.  It might inspire more people to have fun with music, just as people always did until the canned stuff made us think we weren't good enough.

We tried, "Riptide," by Vance Joy, first, since it is the first song Andrew learned on his uke. Sorry about the twisty video, I am no phone expert, but I think it kind of matches the chaos nicely.

Then we had a go at, "Love is all around you," and I think that went pretty well but unfortunately we didn't video any of it!

After that came a lovely version of Missy Higgins', "Steer" sung by Jen and Tee.  I had the hang of the camera a bit better by then.  :) 

When Tee was little we used to sing with her a lot, whenever we were in the car going somewhere.  I haven't heard her singing in recent years and man does she have a beautiful voice.

I think we girls were all doing pretty well on another Missy Higgins song, "Ten Days."

And this was little Niamhy's pick.  "I kissed a girl," by Katy Perry.  She is another family member who loves to sing. 

I am totally inspired now, by James, to become a better guitar player.  The way he could pick up any song and play it, not just strumming but working out clever rhythms and such on the spot!  So good!  I've been a lazy guitar player for years. Time to up the ante! 
Right now, my second Freya book is being read by three people.  If the reports I am getting back are anything to go by, it's as funny and fun as the first one.  Yayyy!  I love it when my books are read and enjoyed by other people for the first time!

If you were thinking of adding a few Kindle books to a present for someone, did you know can have them arrive digitally for the person on Christmas morning?  If you do go that way, stick in one of my books too.  At 99 cents US each for hours of pleasure, how can you go wrong?   :D 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

My Favorite Books: The Woodwife by Terri Windling

The only thing I don't love about this book is that it is the only full length fiction Terri Windling has ever published.  She has written shorter fiction, and also edited some great anthologies, but I do wish she would have at another novel!

This is the short blurb from Amazon:

"Leaving behind her fashionable West Coast life, Maggie Black comes to the Southwestern desert to pursue her passion and her dream. Her mentor, the acclaimed poet Davis Cooper, has mysteriously died in the canyons east of Tucson, bequeathing her his estate and the mystery of his life--and death.

Maggie is astonished by the power of this harsh but beautiful land and captivated by the uncommon people who call it home--especially Fox, a man unlike any she has ever known, who understands the desert's special power.

As she reads Cooper's letters and learns the secrets of his life, Maggie comes face-to-face with the the wild, ancient spirits of the desert--and discovers the hidden power at its heart, a power that will take her on a journey like no other."

Andyroo and I had a chat about it this morning over a cuppa.  It is one of his favorite books too.  We both like how many threads it has going through it, and how authentic it is.  A lot of people write about spirits or mythological beings these days, since it is so fashionable to do so, but Terri writes from a depth of knowledge and experience that many lack.

One of our favorite threads is the shamanistic feel of the book and in particular, Fox's relationship with his desert home. He has a sense of place and belonging, a way of relating to his surroundings, that I think many Druids work towards, though this is not a novel about Druids.

We both love books where the Unseen begins to come into the lives of 'normal' people.  It does so for Maggie Black, the main character of this book and it truly does open her eyes, as anyone can have their eyes opened if they begin to live in their environment with presence and an open heart.

Art by Brian Froud, inspired by The Woodwife
The passion for creativity that is shown in many ways in, "The Woodwife," always inspires me.  If I am not doing enough creating myself, a read of this book will get me going again because I begin to feel a wild jealousy in my breast for what the characters are doing and just have to join in.

There is love, there is learning, there is danger, there is compassion and calm, and there are great characters to meet.

Art by Terri Windling.  Yes she is multi-talented!
Terri has a great blog that is always good for a bit of extra inspiration, as is full of quotes and musings on the creative life, and she finds the most amazing art to illustrate her posts with.  She is an inspiration to many.  An Inspiratrix, as my Blissful Sister, Ba, would say.  :)

One of my other fave authors.  Charles de Lint loves, "The Woodwife," too, in fact he loves it so much he wrote a song for, and about, Terri based on it. It is called, "Cherokee girl."
I've linked this song before, but since it's one of my faves to both listen to and play on the guitar, I am always happy to link it again!

This is a book you can read many times and get more out of each time.  Read it!  You won't regret it!
Plus, she loves her dog Tilly.  She gets extra brownie points from me for that, of course. :D


Friday, 11 December 2015

Friday On My Mind

We're actually going out for dinner tonight with my cousin and her lovely partner Mai.  It's been a social kind of month so far and likely to get to be more so.  I'm loving being able to do it after a decade in the social wasteland of Lyme disease! 

Last week I met with three of my best friends.  We haven't been all together at once for two years, but you know how it is, it is like only a day has passed.  We forgot to get a photo this year, because we were too busy talking and laughing all evening, but this was taken when last we were together.  Love you, gorgeous ladies!  Had a sore throat the next day from talking so much!

Summer is a-coming in here.  The lemon-scented gum outside mum's house has recently shed all its old bark and the new skin is so beautiful, slowly turning from green to pink and then creamy-white.

A week or two back, Andrew peeled a straggler bit of bark off, not knowing it hid a secret and that he'd accidentally pulled away this Hunstsman spider lady's egg sac.  We carefully laid the bit of bark, with egg sac, on the ground beside the tree and crossed our fingers, and yesterday I found that she has carried it back up the tree and patched up her spot as well as she can without her bark shelter. Can you see her under her web protection there?  Maybe you don't want to!  :)

Mum has a bit of a love/hate thing going with this tree.  It is HUGE, and getting bigger by the year, and it is really too close to her house to be so big.  She remembers when she first planted it and was so worried when something ate the baby leaves, and now she wished it had eaten the whole tree!  It is hard to get a scale of it, but can you see the tiny bit of horizontal light on the bottom right of that picture?  That is the top of mum's front verandah.  Yep, the tree is that big.   But oh, how heavenly is the smell it breathes after rain, and how glorious is that bark?

I mentioned a cucumber explosion in my last post. Well, this is it:

Seems like one day, I was picking the first little one to have in a salad, and the next we found these and three more besides, all hiding under the leaves and madly growing seedy!  I'm sure it was longer than a day, probably more like a week, but still!  Sneaky!

The magic cottage looks lovely in the golden, early-summer evening light.

I do love it so, and this is my favorite view of it at this time of year:

Mum's Royal Plumbago is going great guns this year too!  Just love those rich, powdery blues.

I know I said no more Firey posts for a while, but how could I not post these?  Andrew off on his first call-out to a bush fire:

And coming back some five hours later, safe and sound, but slightly smelling of smoked... well, smoked man I suppose.  :)

Other than that he's been doing plenty of electronics, and that makes Andyroo a happy chappy.

I love this photo of him, it shows my darling as the sweet soul that he truly is, and the next one cracks me up.  That befuddled gaze through his magnifying visor, so funny.

That t-shirt is his Nanowrimo support crew t-shirt.  He's had it for years.  It says, "I'm a lover not a writer."  Yep! (Although I'm sure he could be a writer if it took his fancy!)