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Sunday, 30 August 2015

Songs that make me happy: Part One.




You know how there are some songs that always brighten your day, every time they come up on your shuffle?  Well, here are a few of mine!

This one is so cheerful and the perfect song for dog lovers.  It's called, "Song My Dog Wrote," by Brendan Biondi.  The dog in the video is a Lab!


This one always makes me want to bop around and it's a cheerful message too. Brett Dennen, "Blessed."


Then comes Bling Melon's, "No Rain."  It is one of the songs I enjoy playing and singing on the guitar too.   I love the video.  Who hasn't dreamt of finding their perfect tribe like the bee girl does in this?


Then there's Bruno Mars',  "The Lazy Song." He has a lot of fun with this one, and it's a fun video too.


And this version of a Cernunnos rising song, Beltane (Goddess Version) is so lovely and somehow summery, it is one of my new happy songs.


Wow, I didn't know I had so many happy songs.  Think this will have to be a series!

A bit of a mixture, I know.  My musical tastes are nothing if not eclectic.  I hope listening to some of these cheery tunes gave you happies too!     

 


Thursday, 27 August 2015

Olive Trees and Labyrinths


 

Beautiful, glowing photo by Bob Bush available from, and looking much more gorgeous, there. 

This week, on Druid Wednesday (every Wednesday is Druid Wednesday) I went to sit with one of the Olive trees up at our block.  It didn't have much to say, but it gave me a most tremendous sense of peace and ease, and was by far the most comfortable tree I've ever sat with and leaned on.

While it didn't say much, what it did do as I sat there is remind me just how long humans have been taking shelter and comfort under Olive trees.  Thousands of years.  I looked it up when I got home (thanks Wikipedia) and we have been cultivating Olive trees for six or seven thousand years.  Considering how hot it usually is in the types of climates that Olives love best, that makes for a lot of people seeking shade and a nap under Olive trees!  It has been a very successful relationship for us both: The trees have spread over much of the world with our help, and received much care, and we have enjoyed the health benefits and deliciousness of their oil and fruit, and their beautiful company and dense shade.

These are the sentinels; three olive trees that grow across the middle of our block.  I sat with the middle one.  This photo was taken six years ago.  I think they are quite bit bigger now. 

At maybe fifty years old, they have a long way to go to be as old as this venerable old Olive tree, who is said to be 4000.  Can you image what tales it could tell, what wisdom it could share?  If one sat quietly with it long enough, it would.

Image and story from here.

Speaking of old tales, while looking for a pic of the olive tree sentinels, I found a picture of the labyrinth that I made up at the block from small stones. Labyrinths may be as old as that old tree.  They have been used as meditation devices for millenia, both in nature and on the floors of churches.


The usual idea is to have a problem or question that you think of as you enter the labyrinth, and supposedly by the time you get to the very middle it is resolved for you. It's not a maze.  It's more of a pathway that goes back and forth, round and round, leading always to the centre.
  
The most famous one is this big one at Chartres Cathedral.  If you are lucky enough to go there one day when the pews are pushed back and can have a go, it can take a long time to walk it.  Plenty of time to enter a meditative state and have your question or prayer answered.  :)

Image from here.

Of course, as a Druid, an outdoor labyrinth is much more suitable.  This pic is of mine is from when it was not quite finished. There are a couple more big rings to go around it to complete it.  It took me about six half hour sessions of carrying and placing rocks to get it all done, using a ruler and a hand-drawn template to help me. Why did I do it?  Because I wanted to walk one and didn't know of one anywhere nearby, and because the land said it would like the blessing of having one built there.


It is just as well I took the pic, because I forgot to take any after I finished, and then I got a good lesson in the impermanence of nature, because the wild birds decided it was great fun to turn over all the rocks to find bugs under them.  For a while I repaired it each week, but when I didn't go up for a few weeks for some reason, I returned to find my beautiful labyrinth was now no more than a rather messy scatter of rocks!

I rather like the idea of this one made of flowers:

Ah well, next time! 

 

 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Blossoms and singing Magpies. Is it spring already?

I just love lucerne trees!  Check out these beauties currently flowering here.





How cute is that view through to the cottage?

We had some more firewood delivered this week so we received more Proteas. The big white one is known as a Queen Protea, I was told.  Pretty!


Tuppy got herself into a bit of a bind this week.  The two girls went out for their usual bedtime patrol of the property, and when it was time to come back in I could hear a pathetic little bark coming from the darkness.  They had both been madly mousing during the day around the chook pen, and lo! when I took a torch and went to investigate, what do I see but a very large black chicken in the pen?  She'd pushed all the logs and rocks out of the way where I had blocked a crappy bit of fence that needed repair, then managed to force her way under the fence but couldn't get out again.

"Help! Help!  (How embarrassing!)"


Last night the Magpies were singing from their nesting trees. It is so beautiful.  I'm not sure why they do this, either as a territorial thing or to keep in touch with other members of the family group, but it only happens at nesting time.  This year our resident lot are nesting in a tree very close to the cottage.  We usually get on well and they don't see us as a threat, so hopefully the dad won't take it into his head to swoop us, since that could get hectic with the nest so close!

I took a little bit of video so you can hear the singing.  There is the close nest, and then you can just hear a further away one answering back and forth.  Turn up your volume for best hearing. It's pitch black of course!


And finally (spider phobics go no further!) this 'little' lady has been popping up in odd places this week.  She finally did her dash by abseiling down from the mezzanine floor right beside me, with legs akimbo and apparently in a bit of a temper.  At that point it was time to relocate her to a more relaxing (for me) new home in the great outdoors.  I have learned to live with the Huntsmans, but not if they get antsy.  We've had bigger.  She was only about the size of your palm, but still, out you go madam!


I'd rather live with the bigger, more placid older girls!
    

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Horses I've loved: Possum.


I bought Possum because I loved her face from the moment I saw her.  She looked so sweet, cheesed off and tired.



I do not recommend this as a good reason to buy a horse!  Still, as a keen studier of Linda Tellington-Jones's book on telling horse character from facial features, I must say there was nothing about this head that I didn't love.


And, I did love her.  She was everything this gorgeous head promised she would be: Sweet, intelligent, sensitive, sensible.  She did have a white sclera on her other eye, and this added a note of quirkiness and naughtiness to her temperament that always gave her an interesting complexity too.  One side sweet and soft, the other naughty and impish!

Soft eye:

Naughty eye:


Same horse different sides.  :)


I didn't get her vet-checked, and I should have.  She'd been playing polocrosse for five of her eight years of life, and it had worn her body out.  By the time she was thirteen I had to make the hard decision to let her go due to a bone spur in her knee that no longer allowed her to lock her leg straight (horses need to lock their legs to rest standing up) and for most of her time with me, she wasn't really sound enough for steady riding.

Still, don't you think that sometimes animals (and people) come into your life for their sake, not for yours? Possum had a lovely five years with me, I think. She arrived a standoffish, sore, tired little horse, but she soon cheered up into the most friendly, funny little character you can imagine.


A large part of her conversion to friendliness was due to 'booby scratches'. I'd go out and just hang around with her and give her scritchies, the recommended way to bond with a horse, and her fave was getting the area all round her nipples and inner thighs scratched.  Makes sense when you think about it. They can't reach that area themselves. Must drive them crazy.  

This is Poss having a scritchy.  Check out that top lip wobbling when I get to the booby scratch at the end.  :) 
    

I did ride her a bit more often at the beginning. First we had to work on lowering her head and stretching her very tight neck muscles to help her learn to relax under saddle.

Clicker training helped with that a lot!

Later, we did some very nice work in a more dressagey frame, but not for long.  A bad combo of a dicky knee that couldn't do much work plus stifle issues that needed her to be fit to stop them being painful, didn't make for a horse you could ride much.


She was a fantastic  little horse to have around the place, though. Safe and gentle.  She got to roam the property here and graze everything, and never did the dogs or herself any harm.


Like a lot of polocrosse horses, she'd spent a lot of time in big paddocks and herds, and I've never known a horse with the herd social skills she had. She loved to be out with other horses, and while no boss horse herself, she would always buddy up with a boss horse so that she was protected and got all the best stuff.  Clever!  Anyway she did love it so much, so I tried to give her lots of time out in paddocks, though when she was here she lived alone. Once she'd been mine for a little while, she always came when I called her, no matter how big the paddock was.



How happy does she look in that second photo?  And check her expression in this pic as opposed to those top pics taken the day I went to see her.


I loved her to bits, even her backside.  :)


The day I sent her to the bridge, it was just me and the vet here at home in her favorite snoozing place. I just couldn't handle having to deal with anyone else that day, or even to have to seem strong for anyone. It was ok and awful, peaceful and terrible at the same time. Worse than dogs and cats, though that's bad enough. I don't think I want to have to do that to a horse again.  Maybe that's one reason why I don't have horses any more.  


Still, I'm glad she was in my life for five years.  She was really special.   My funny, bright, quirky little Poss.

          




  
 
 
       

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Dog Walk at Bells Rapids.

Bleagh, had the chucks last night.  Ironically, I think I picked up a tummy bug at the first aid course we attended for the Fireys on Saturday!

We didn't get any photos of our day, but I will tell you that we did more repetitions of CPR than I've ever done at a course before.  Felt like a million, and my butt muscles are now killing me!  Ah well, don't think I'll forget the drill after all those reps... ever! (Which is the point of doing so many, I guess.)

So, since I am feeling very under the weather and am going to head back to bed to snooze with my doggies and kitty, I will post you some photos of a recent trip the girls and I made to see a lovely local spot.  It is largely ignored until the Avon Descent, a big local event, when for one weekend the place is full of people watching as kayakers and such fall into the water in the rapids or have to port their crafts over the rocks, but it soon returns to peacefulness.

It is rather an unusual site along the Swan River. I've seen quite a bit of our river, what with retrieving trialing and all, but I don't think there is anywhere else like Bell's Rapids.  The dark, smooth rocks that look like fossilized wood, and the dark, deep valley.  Very prehistoric feeling.
 





Of course the dogs had a great time.  This is my fave photo. Rosie is caught with her ears akimbo, mid jump from rock to rock.


On the way home, I stopped to get a photo for you of these guys, catching some rays and having a nibble on a hillside beside the road.  See, we really do have kangaroos everywhere in Australia.  :)



     

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Me playing the lyre again, the second song I've learned!

Ok, here goes.  I didn't video it this time, so I could make sure it recorded to the end.  I used Garage Band to record instead, then dropped it into imovie.

I've put put some nature photos from around here onto the video to give you something to look at while the recording plays.  :)

Just to remind you, here's my lyre, made very kindly for me by my husband, Andrew.


The song, Old Man, was originally, believe it or not, a seriously metal song by Ensiferum, very cleverly adapted (and done much better than I do it) by Vitian. While you are at it, listen to some of the amazing songs done by his fairy folk band, Pilgrim. I love how the internet has opened music up for us so much. So many new genres, so much new music to listen to! 

This is a little trepidatious at times and a wobble here and there, but, here it is, Mondream (the lyre) and I doing, "Old Man":  


I hope you enjoy it.  I've had so much fun learning it.  Hmm, what song to learn next, I wonder?  Some delicious choices out there, or I could write another one of my own!

If you want more Anglo-Saxon lyre, listen to this beauty!  Oh my!  So gorgeous!


If I'm to begin using the, "block and Strum," technique as Brian Kay sometimes does in that beautiful song, I'll need a wrist strap.  Now, do I buy a ready-made one or learn a little of the ancient art of tablet weaving and make my own?  If you know me, you know the answer to that!
 
We'll be pretty busy the next couple of days, doing this and that for the Bushfire Brigade so I've posted this entry a day early.

Oh, and writing is going well.  21 509 words done on Heroic Plans as of today!  I'm deep into horses and dogs, and the mystery is just setting up to get started. The words are coming easily so far.  Most days I look at my word count and get a surprise to see I've gone well over the 1000 words a day I like to set myself.

After the musical fun my family had last weekend, Andyroo has bought himself a ukelele as well.  He's got the bug!  Look forward to further family uke and guitar music!  Or should I say, "beware"?  :D      
    

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Music and Radio

Well, we had a weekend of both doing what we love.  Andrew got to spend hours and hours working a radio, and I got to play music with other people.  Yay!

It was the birthday of one of my nieces, Molly, so since she is currently mad for playing her ukelele, I took my guitar, Pele El Kabongo, over to their place and we all got to have a jam together.  I love playing music with other people and it doesn't happen often enough.

That's me, my sister Jen and my niece Molly.  We're playing Riptide, by Vance joy, which I've heard on the radio but never tried to play before.  It was fun though!

Here's a little video of us mangling it with great enjoyment.  :)

video

Molly is very talented and plays violin and piano as well, but even for us mere mortals, the ukelele seems like a really easy instrument to pick up and start playing.  It's also had a big resurgence of popularity lately and there's heaps of free info and songs for the uke online.  They're relatively cheap to buy too! So if you've been feeling the urge, go for it, whatever the instrument.  Remember it's not about perfection. Learning music is engaging, mind stretching, and just downright fun, and you can begin it at any age.  Look at it this way; in ten years time, if you haven't started learning, you'll definitely still not be able to play, but if you pick up that instrument now, well, who knows what songs you'll be playing by then!

At the same time we were getting our musical jam on, Andyroo was out in stormy, cold and wet weather for about 12 hours, activating Blackboy Hill for the Anzac 100th Anniversary.  Just before lunch, I popped down with fruitcake straight out of the oven and more strong coffee.  The wind was icy and heavy showers were blowing in and out. They were all cheery and happy, though, doing what they love.  Hobbies are a funny thing, aren't they!

Sadly, I forgot to take any pics while I was there. I'd meant to get the guys all in one shot together.  Bugger!

Here are Bob and maybe Daniel trying to hold down the tent so it won't blow away.

       
Here are Bob and Glynn working the radio,  See, it does get cold in Australia!


And here's the set up.  They had their aerial really high, put up there with the cast of a fishing rod, and I can see Andyroo adding a fishing rod to his own gear very soon!  Save all that messing about chucking up weights with lines tied to them, then ducking when they fall on your head instead of where they're supposed to be!  (That's how we've been doing it anyway.)  They got contacts from as far away as Russia, I think, though would have to check that with Andyroo.  It's possible anyway.  High frequency radio has an amazing carrying ability when conditions are right.



Ah well, they had fun, but I'm glad I was at my sis's cosy house playing music instead!

Jen just sent me this pic of mum and Jen's old girl, Freyja from when we three had a cuppa this morning.  Freyja is thirteen now.  She's a lovely dog and a good snuggler.  We've always been fond of each other, but I also think she likes to visit here because she fits so well on our couch.  It's hard being a horse-sized couch potato!


I've taken off the training wheels with Old man, the Ensiferum song I've been learning on the lyre.  Give me a week to get it a bit better and I'll record it for you to hear.

 
          

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Mice, chickens and turtles.

 

The chickens have been enjoying the early spring weather. Here they are on their jungle gym.  Doesn't Nanny Ogg the black Australorp look lovely at the moment?   Mrs Guppy on the far left there is having her first moult.  Seems a bit early (or late) to me but, hey, she always does everything weirdly.  It's her thing! 

I've let them put of their run a few times. I do think happy, scratching chickens about the yard equal a purring cat by the fire for making a home feel cosy and contented!


We got out of the habit while Buffy the confirmed chicken murderer was alive, but we really should be able to now we only have Labs about the place.  Tuppy has been known to chase a chicken, but not when there are mice to be caught!


Madame Blavatsky, our adventurer chicken, especially wanted to join in on the digging. I got a little bit of video.  Talk about fearless!


It's not like she's out around them all the time.  She's just like that.  The looks on the dogs' faces the first time she just walked right up to them was priceless.

I know I showed you lots of flowering plants last time but this wattle tree at home is really pulling out the stops this year, despite being on its way out. It is far older and bigger than most wattles get to be. Its older than twenty, so very impressive even though some branches are now black and dead. This is the lowest branch. You can see a little of the blackened trunk on the very right.  


My other favorites at the moment are the lucerne trees, also known as Tagasaste.  They are natives of the Canary Islands but do very well here.  They nitrogenise the soil and feed the birds and bees with their flowers and seeds.  Also their leaves are edible by horses and goats and chickens, they are soft and green in winter, they are cool in summer, and they flower in cascades of white in early spring. They even share their nutrients from their long tap roots with their neighbours of other species!  What a top tree!


Latest news in crocheting...this is Princess Turtle.  She is made from a pattern by Planet June. 

I made her for a friend who I don't think reads my blog.  She has no time for that sort of thing, being as she's a very busy mum of two sets of twins!  If she does read this... Hey Aimster, come have a cuppa and get your turtle!

The pattern on her back was very interesting to do. I used light green plus a variegated rainbow yarn to get that effect.  For some reason, I felt she needed a little rainbow crown as well, and Princess Turtle was born!    


Lorie of C-ing Spots, this one is just for you... our neighbour working one of his Appies, Crystal, in the round yard.  :)  She has roaned out so much.  She was chestnut as a bubba.  He keeps his horses all their lives and looks after them very well.  She's a lucky girl.


Writing is going swimmingly.  My first two readers of Bunyip Dreaming loved it, so now I can get onto final edits!  Woo hoo! The cover art is done too but I'm keeping that a secret for now.  Heh, I'm a novelling dynamo!  The new book is flowing well too.  15 902 words on Heroic Plans as of yesterday.  I haven't written today as we've been out a lot. I'll write tomorrow, Saturday, instead, because Andrew is off for the whole day doing an amateur radio activation for the Anzac's 100th Anniversary.

They've been working as a team and using a special call sign, VK100ANZAC, activating for the four days of the beach landing at Gallipoli that killed so many Aussies and New Zealanders 100 years ago. Tomorrow they will activate Blackboy Hill Memorial Site, the place where a lot of WA soldiers camped and were trained before shipping overseas to war.  We've been there a bit making sure it is a good place for transmitting and receiving signals. It's a lovely spot.  Some gorgeous trees and plenty of birds nesting and calling. 
 
    
Check out my girls doing a lovely sit stay for mama!


Amateur radio is a fairly incomprehensible obsession as far as I'm concerned, since it is very technical and seems to mostly involve wrangling finicky aerials, but that's what a partnerships is about, hey?  Supporting the other person's interests even if you think they are crazy.  :)

This nesting Pink and Grey Galah thought we were an interesting diversion from the somewhat mundane process of incubating eggs, anyway!