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Sunday, 28 February 2016

Writing and Other Fun Things

Golly, a lot has gone on in the last few days.  Firstly, we attended another fire. This time I got the plum job driving the sector commander around, which is lucky because it was the longest shift I'd done at a bushfire yet and was very hot.  The air con wasn't working in the Light Tanker though, so it was hot hot hot!

As the sun began to go down the light through the smoke became just amazing.  Fellow SVBFB member Elton got this shot of Nikki.

What a brilliant photo!  I just love all the colours in the water and the light. I was seeing lots of photos myself but had to stay on my toes with the driving and radio, so I missed most of them.  It is an ironic thing that such destruction can bring about an odd kind of beauty at times.

As the night came in and the air cooled and got wetter, some unburned areas on the edges of the fire, between the black area and the nearest firebreak, were lit up so that they wouldn't catch fire later when there was no-one to watch them and cause a jump over.   It was quite a sight, with flames, flashing lights, vehicles everywhere, and people appearing out of the dark in their reflective gear.  Hi Warren! Lookin' good!   

Hi Nikki!

It was past my bedtime by the time we left the fireground, but I'd held up well, especially thanks to the lovely roast dinner the Salvos fed us!  It really gave me a second wind!

Elton got this shot of me too.  Man was I clean at that point compared to the guys and gals who'd been actually fighting the fire!

I did get grubbier later.  I had an interesting Druidy experience later in the night.  I was in the dark, up in the bush, putting out a big, tall, old Jarrah that had been smouldering away at the base.  I felt the gratitude of this vast tree, which had been helpless to stop the fire that would have burnt it out to its death.  It's the first time I've connected to a tree on the fire-ground like that.  It made it feel worth while. I hate that trees have to be knocked over to make new fire breaks to stop the fire in its tracks, and I hate that we at times have to knock over burning stags (big old hollow trees) so that they won't keep casting their sparks far and wide, but in the end, it stops the fire going further and destroying many more trees and creatures, and must be done.

Barring the odd lightning strike, none of it would need to happen at all if people didn't start fires deliberately or through stupidity. I hate most of all when all that destruction is due to someone wanting some excitement in their life... or... something. I can't even comprehend why anyone would do that.  Go sky diving or walk through the arctic circle, or even better, jump off a building onto your head instead.  Save us all a lot of grief.  Save the bush from this: 

Ah well.   On a lighter note, Heroic Plans has gone out to my first readers.  My sister, Jen, has already read it up to Chapter Eleven and is loving it.  Weeeee!  I'm especially glad that she is enjoying it because she helped me work through some of my ideas before I began writing it, so she could be expected to be less excited by some of the twists and turns than someone coming new to the story.  I hope I kept enough secret so that she is still having a new experience, though!

She gave me the best idea for a name for that series too: Galloping Plans!  Two books doesn't make a series, but Amazon likes it when you label books that go together in some way.  I do when I'm trying to find books to read too! I certainly have at least one or two more in me in that line of books, if not more, so, "The Galloping Plans Series," it is!  It picks up on the liveliness and horsiness of the books really well!

Now I really do need to get working on the cover art, or I'll be holding up the publishing of the book.  

In more writing news, a Druidy story I wrote, a kind of teaching tale to help people connect to the environment where they find themselves living, has been published in the OBOD newsletter, Touchstone.  Am rather chuffed about that!  Perhaps I'll post it here in its entirety on Friday, since it's only short.

Musically, I've been working on adapting Damh the Bard's pagan anthem song, The Cauldron Born, to play on my lyre.  I think I've nearly got it, so will hopefully be able to record it soon.  It works really well!  Now, for my next song and a complete change of pace, can I, dare I, should I try... Gay Bar by Electric Six?  :D

Heh heh, I think I might!  These days, I'm starting to think I can do anything I put my mind to!  


Thursday, 25 February 2016

Songs that Make Me Happy, part three.

It's been a while since I did a music post, so I thought it was time!

Starting in my music list from where I left off, is the band Emerald Rose.  Do I have, "Fire in the Head"?  Oh yeah!

The audio in this unplugged version is a bit flat but I love the little girl dancing around in front of them, and I always like being able to see the chords the guitarist is playing.  :)

Emerald Rose are the go-to band for geeky fantasy people but they do a pretty good pure folk song too.

I know Enya is considered a bit twee these days, but I still listen to her a lot.  Her music makes me feel happy and peaceful. This is "Epona," a Goddess who I still love despite not currently owning any horses.

Everything But The Girl are a duo that I listen to a lot, especially while writing.  This is "We Walk the Same Line," Rosie's and my theme song.  It's sweet and uplifting, just like my Rosie and I are together!  Do you have theme songs with your beasties?  I do.  :)

To kick it up a notch, here's Faun with "Walpurgisnicht".   A real toe tapper!  I looked up the lyrics when I first found it, but I don't remember what they are singing when I listen from day to day, so I like to make up my own mondegreens to it, such as, "Hey ho, melty man, melty man!"

A well known tune next but one that I love for its sense of looking forward and its sweet swing, not to mention Stevie's lovely voice, and this video is gorgeous too. "Gypsy" by Fleetwood Mac.

A good one to end this post with, since the next one on my list would be, "March of the Cambreadth," by Heather Alexander, and that would get you all stirred up again.  Next time!          

Monday, 22 February 2016

Bark, and I don't mean woof.

A lot of our Ghosty Gums of different sorts are losing their bark just now, and it is very pretty because the new skin underneath is so fresh and bright.

In the Eastern States, where these trees mostly come from, this season is known as Barkfall.  Julie Brett, a fellow Druid from Druids Downunder, worked out out this seasonal wheel of the year for Sydney, her home.

Connection to where you live is very important to Druidy people.  :)  I haven't done this for my bit of WA yet, but I've been keeping an observational diary to help me do so in the future.   

Andrew eyeing off weird protuberances left behind when this tree shed its bark. Parasites perhaps?

Weird Knobs. Hey, it's not everyday you get to write something like that!
This tree is known to me as Pinky.  I thought that it was a bit of an undignified name but she liked it.

Now you're just getting silly!

All that bark has to go somewhere!
This tree isn't losing bark just now, but I've wanted to get a picture. It is growing precariously on a strong lean. So far so good, but we won't be surprised if one day it comes down in a storm.  Luckily it won't bother anyone when it does, so we've let it be.   

In the meantime, I feel my shoulders crawl whenever I have to go under it to collect sticks!

Are you connected to the land and seasons where you live?   


Thursday, 18 February 2016

Catching up on Stuff

We've only had one fire so far this week so we've had a bit more chance to catch up on stuff at home.

I've got an afghan to finish by early March.  Of course I thought I had ages so I didn't do enough on it as the weeks went by, then suddenly realised I only had a month to finish it!  Gawd, sewing all those squares together is very far from my favorite job!  Especially when it's a dark colour yarn you are using.  Finding the correct stitches to pick up requires not only glasses but a head torch as well!  Cyrano Superkitty has been helping me as much as he can.

This is the piles of squares organised ready to sew together.  Can't show you any more because the person knows it is coming, but not how it will look!


I think that this is my last conventional granny square afghan unless I can find some other way to get it all put together at the end.  Argh!  Next time I'll make one that comes together all in one piece.  Maybe one of those zigzag ones, or one big square where you just go round and round?  I like the idea of those ones you make where you use a certain colour depending on the temperature of the day.  They come out looking a bit like this:


I've finished my first read through and edit of Heroic Plans, the sequel to my first horsey mystery, so it's time to delve more deeply into it now, and begin work on the areas I need to brush up.  It's not bad, though. It flowed well as I wrote it, and that easy flow shows in the first draft.  It's a fast and fun read! 

I've been really pleased by the sales of my books since I did the free offer on the first Freya book. It has really stimulated a lot of interest, which I guess means people must have read the freebie and come back for more!  Woo hoo!

I know people who see my Facebook page have seen this pic, but I love it so much that I just have to put it here as well!  This is Andyroo and I at the fire station.  I was getting in from my five hour shift at a local bush fire. Andrew was about to go out for his shift at the same fire.  2nd Lieutenant Keith got this photo of our glad meeting in the middle.


Andrew has been up a tall ladder working on the big roof beam of the cottage.  I think it is a design flaw that the big laminated beam, that runs right through the cottage, also sticks out the ends into the weather.  We filled and painted it a few years back when we were repainting the weather boards, but it needs still more protection, so Handy Andy is making boxes to put over both the sticky-out bits to keep the weather off them in future. He also plans on using the boxes to affix aerials to, so it's not all done from altruism.  :)

Andyroo hasn't lost his face, he has a mask on for the sanding.  :)

Angus has his collar off now, but he managed to look so handsome even while wearing it that I had to take another photo of him!

His uncles and aunty have recently turned six, and Facebook has sent me memories of the photos I posted of the puppies as they grew.  It reminded me of this sweet video we got of one of the pups from six years ago.  We called him Tonto. He was a character, even in a litter of characters, and went on to belong to one of the local vets.

Cyrano has been working extra hard this week to make sure we all feel loved enough.  Sit down and you automatically get a fat kitty (whether you want one or not.)


A friend lost her precious kitty this week.  It makes me appreciate our sweet boy even more than usual.


May you have a good weekend filled with the love of furry people, and not so furry ones too! 

Monday, 15 February 2016

Dogs of my High Pack: Keech

Keech, what can I say about Keech to do her justice?

She came in to my life when I was, I think seventeen, maybe eighteen.  I'd just quit a job working on a racehorse property where I had lived-in, and was due to start another one working for a car parts dealer.  The real description of that job turned to be "prospective bit on the side," but I didn't know that yet.  I was to move to a bit of a scary area to live beside a garage. I know, I know!  Dodgy!  But after the crappy digs at the racehorse place it didn't seem all that much worse.  Anyway, I wanted a dog for company. I hadn't been able to have one while living-in and I really hated being dogless.  I looked in the paper and there was a pup.  Doberman/German shepherd cross, ten weeks, free to good home.

The pain of losing the first dog who was all my own, Trudy, was still with me, and she had been a German Shepherd, so I decided to see this little pup, hoping I might love her just as much.  They brought her to see me, and I will always remember how she came into the room and trotted round saying hello to each person as she went.  Not fawning, not over-excited, but in no way nervous either, just glad to meet people.

She was rather scrawny and wormy, and I was told that she had been taken from her mother at five weeks. At ten weeks old she had already been in two homes and was about to be in another!  She was already called Keech. I never asked why, or what it meant, and I never knew, though there is a wolf called Kiche in the Jack London book, White Fang.

Anyway, Keech and I went off to live in our little room beside the garage, and the very first night someone tried to break though the big rolladoors into garage next door.  We cuddled together in our bed and waited for the noise to end one way or another, and luckily it ended with the person going away disappointed.  By morning, we were bonded.

That 'job' only lasted as long as it took me to work out what was really wanted of me and after that we moved home for a little while, then out again into my car for a little while, and then a share house. I was back riding racehorses at a new place, and Keech would come along and sleep in the car while I worked.

By then it was obvious that what she was, breed-wise, was mostly Kelpie, with maybe a bit of Shepherd that added height and solidity.  Her ears eventually stood up, and it took her a long time to grow into them, but grow into them she did. 

It was an unsettled time for me, and for her too, I guess, as we moved around a lot, but she took it all in her stride, as she did everything that life sent her way.  Keech was ever friendly, ever confident, ever loving.  She never met anyone, man or beast, that she didn't see as a potential friend, but she was capable of looking after herself or her loved ones if necessary too.  She was a true gentle leader dog, in the style of Mark Rashid's passive leader horses.  She ruled by confidence and kindness.  She cared for baby animals of all kinds.

She was such a handsome dog. I've rarely met a dog with as much beauty or presence as she had. Her eyes were to die for; brown with golden specks in them. Warm, wise and friendly.

Still very young and not very settled, and living in a house with no fences, I was not able to stop her getting pregnant, though I did my very best. I still remember her asking to go out the door for what I thought was a quick potty break but, instead, her taking off round the house with a male dog who she must have known was waiting at the back door. By the time I caught up to them, they were already tied. Oh dear!  Still, if ever a dog deserved to pass on her genes it was Keech, crossbreed or not.

There is where she got nickname Keech the Peach!

She had three litters in her life, all on her terms to dogs she chose, and I didn't have a say in it.  The last litter, I never even saw a male dog! I could have sworn I'd kept her with me or shut in the house every minute of her season.  When she managed the same trick with the same invisible dog on her next season, I bit the bullet and had her spayed. Don't ask me why I didn't spay her earlier. I think I was so very bonded to her, and needed her so much, and was terrified she might die.  Would I do differently now?  Of course, but youthful stupidity is only fixed by having some more years under your belt.  Ah well we loved them and cared for them, and did our best by them (though I know now that it wasn't good enough!) and she loved being a mum.

I followed quite a few of her pups, and they went on to be wonderful dogs for other people, though I never kept one. I think I felt that no pup of hers could quite compare to the mother, and it wouldn't be fair on the pup.  There were some cracking good dogs among them, though, and very well loved.
Keech on the right, her son Harley on the left

Keech's son. Fungi

Keech's Daughter, Kimba, with the dad, Roach. (Awful name for a stunning dog!)

One of our pups even became a bit famous, being the dog of the skipper of the yacht that competed for the America's Cup here in Western Australia.  Cliff, he was called, after a friend of ours who had very expressive eyebrows! I still have the cuttings, photo and letters they sent me.

Keech knew lots of tricks and loved to show off for people, but never liked to be the butt of jokes.  She had too much dignity for that, and well knew the difference between sharing a joke and being laughed at.

She LOVED to cuddle. If you kept still, you'd be cuddled, man or beast.


And of course she got painted...

Anyway, this smart, kind, funny dog was in my life for 14 years.  We had our arguments, like sisters will, and she had strong opinions...

Tie me up like some ordinary dog would you?
 ...but oh, dear me, one day I looked at her and saw all the grey hairs, and realised that she was going to die soon, and the rush of rebellion that came over me was just incredible. I would have taken on the world to keep her beside me forever, but it couldn't be.

She was just as dear a dog in her old age as she'd been all her life.  Enjoying family, company and cuddles.


When her kidneys failed and I had to say goodbye, I still remember the vet exclaiming, "She knows!"  She did too, and she accepted it, and her passing was very calm and loving.  As she went, I felt her come into my heart as a warmth, so that I would not be totally bereft, and there a little part of her stays.

She comes with Sam to guide me on my inner journeys. She mostly stays in dog form because she says it is what I am familiar with, but really, she is the soul mate and guide she has always been, whether here or there, in whatever form, and one day we will be truly together again.