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Saturday, 31 March 2018

Just a... and his giant kitty kickin' back.

Just a floating Andrew in a lake...

And a niece enjoying herself with friends.

And a nice new tall chook pen fence!

A snuggly bug Tuppy in a half-made afghan...

An adorable Basset that I met today, name of Huey...

A moonlit bushwalk...

And a damn chicken scratching apart my raked piles of leaves as fast as I can rake them!

What can I do?  She thinks we're looking for bugs together.  It's charming and annoying at the same time!    

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Fun with olden daysy stuff

We've been having a good time today messing around with the ways I want to treat my two lyres, which are currently at this stage:

 Holes all drilled for the zither pins to go in to hold the strings.  Phew that was a bit of a mind bender but with Roo's help it got done.

As I said before, I want to use watercolour stain on one and then paint on it, and kolrosing on the other.

I think both will work!

The blue stain is just to die for, and the kolrosing is so lovely.  It is amazing how, once oiled and burnished, you can't feel the scratches full of cocoa or coffee or cinnamon any more.  They become once more a part of the wood, and yet they stay dark!

Andyroo made these while messing around deciding which of our tools worked best and which dark powder to rub in for best effect. How cool are they?

So, I will go ahead and do both as I'd planned, so long as the varnish over the watercolour stain and paint works.

It will be easy to slip during the scratching of the kolrose design, but I think a little roughness is part of the charm of such an ancient technique.

The blue-painted one will now be the boar one, Torc. With 8 strings, it isn't traditional anyway, so it might as well be fully modern, and with six strings, Fréowine will be more trad in style.

Torc's design currently looks like this: 

I'm still not quite sure how it will look when on the lyre.  More working out to do yet on colour use, line work compared to solid spaces, etc.

In other oldy-timey news, we got a couple of photos that were taken at the Norse storytelling night.  I just adore them, especially the one of us both!

They're dark but that suits the theme of the evening.  We off to another one soon, this one about medieval tales of King Arthur's court.  I'm really looking forward to it, especially since some more of our druid mates will be coming too!


Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Satan Smith: Crap Demon Hunter is here, and other news.

Well that was quick in the end. All it took was half a weekend of strangled screaming, a little blood on my forehead, and the book is up and running!  Word for Mac, you are no longer my friend!

The cover art, on the other hand, was fairly trouble free.   I'd love to be able to tell you that I remembered to do progress shots, but I so didn't!  I have the drawings, then the finished pieces.  Sorry about that!

Here is the final result, all put together.

The first book of the sequel is this one; Chicken soup for Satan.  Just in case you haven't read it yet.

It's a fun read and just a little bit scary.  Satan is a bit of an awkward guy who tries to come across as tough to keep him out of trouble.  He has a lovely rescue dog, Ghost.  The two of them move into a share house in the hills above Perth, Western Australia, and that's where the spooky fun starts and Satan starts to come out of his shell a bit too.

The second book begins with Satan still living at Avalon, but Satan Smith and his beautiful German shepherd, Ghost, are both reeling under the changes that have happened at their beloved home, Avalon. 

Just when they’ve started to think they’ll be happy forever, the woman he loves has gone and fallen for another man, a bloke that both Satan and Ghost think is the pits.

There’s also Satan’s new house-mate, who owns a spoiled Siamese cat… and a haunted painting.  Not entirely unusual in your average share-house, but still, it’s unsettling.    

Then there’s the spook who’s haunting his good friends next door and has a penchant for a little more mischief than some gentle chain-clinking and moaning.

Once more, Satan and his loyal sidekick, Ghost, have to rise to the occasion. Can what he has learned from his addled demon fighter Da help him succeed against these new paranormal threats? Will he ever come out of the closet as a folk music player?  Will he be able to keep his fists off the new boyfriend?  Only time will tell!

The second book is still fast and fun, narrated with the wry humour that is all Satan's own.   I'm told by my first readers that it is even better than the first and they had a lot of trouble putting it down.  Escapism at its best, with a cat, dogs and horses to make it even better!

In other news, the chookie babies are still growing. It charms me that they choose to come and settle for naps right at our feet out in the garden.

Pretty, sweet Guinevere

Adventuress Morgana and Bad Sir Grummore
Google offered me this arty version of one of my pics of Guinevere.  I like how the pattern of lacing shows up in black and white. Not sure about the black eyes though.  A possessed chicken?  An idea, perhaps, for my next Satan book?  Eek!

We've been working very hard the last few days with the amazing Thor the Inexhaustible to clear up the chook pen area so I can get the fence back up before the foxes notice.   That Bushy Yate tree made a heck of a lot of firewood.

I'm trying not to feel too bad about cutting it down. It was probably 25, planted by my mum, and about to drop its multiple trunks in all directions, as it had already proved.

With the last branch we managed to get the gate, which had been unscathed up to that point. Yay for us!  Luckily we only broke the lintel. 

It took a lot of work just to clear all the debris and 'bommyknocker' seed heads from the chook pen and surrounds when we were finished, but we're nearly there now. 

It was harder because the mower's trailer succumbed to its earlier unplanned modification by the Bushy Yate, so we had to wheelbarrow it all down to the bonfire pile, which is now ginormous!      

Today Thor and I got one row of heavy chook wire back up so at least the old girls will be kept in in the mornings, though the babies will probably fly out.  We'll be going higher as soon as we've got the materials.  After that I'm going to start on a chook shed to replace the damaged chook-dome.  It never ends!

Ah well, rest when you're dead, right?  Have a fun week!  Don't forget to buy my books and read them.   Here's the new one:  Satan Smith: Crap Demon Hunter.   As my sister, Jen, said, "Wow he really is a crap demon hunter!"  Luckily, though, he knows it!   



Friday, 16 March 2018

My arse is fine, thank you for asking.

The knife went in about 4cms deep, if the blood on it was anything to go by.  It is healing up remarkably quickly. I think we underestimate our own body's ability to heal itself.  I am a modern person and am lucky enough to have access to modern antibiotics if needed, but I  don't think we should use them willy nilly, so i waited to see what would happen.

What happened is that a few days after I accidentally stabbed myself in the bum, I was able so spend a large part of the day removing tree branches, after my over-enthusiastic young Firey mate, Thor, there, got carried away with the chainsaw when we were taking down the rest of the dodgy tree.  Yes, we now need to rebuild our chook pen from scratch!  Go Thor!   :D

"Arrrr!!!  Thor is unrepentant!!!" 

The mower escaped with some minor remodelling.  The trailer, still under that lot at this point, was a bit less lucky, but some rope made it useable.

As for me, well, I took to my heels and my bum worked super well as I high-tailed it out of there when the tree came down!  (And no the irony of a Druid being killed by a tree did not escape me!)

Apartment living has never looked so good!

Ah well, at least I have a lot of space and freedom now to redesign the whole chook pen from scratch, which will be good.  In the meantime we can shut them up in the dome to keep them safe.  They're slowly coming together as a flock, though not often as close as they were when I tipped over the baby chook cage to let them get at the hay in it.


In other news, Mr Fitty Kitty is as cuddly as usual.  By the way we often use a pillow like this for him because he is too big for your lap and his bum hangs off the side.  A bit like me when sitting on hard chairs this week!

And, this is what happens when you let a 24 year old get to your inspiring fridge message!

(I have no idea what a titpotato is, but it's one of those up there!

And this is what happens when two old ladies dance at parties...

Annie and Tina rockin' out amongst the boring people!

Ah hell, we don't care!  We had fun!  If you can't give up caring what people think when you're old, when can you?  (Not that I think you should wait that long!  Start today!)

Not sure what the weekend will hold, but hopefully it will be less dangerous than this week has been for me!   Keep safe folks! 


Monday, 12 March 2018

I stabbed myself in the backside!

Yes I really did, I'll spare you the pictures that Andrew took of the knife and the wound just in case I need to show them to a doctor!

Actually it's not that interesting except to me and my aused backside, however, for your eddification, one stabs oneself in the arse by eating dinner on the couch, then not noticing when the steak knife slides off your plate when you get up to put plate on sink, then the handle goes down the side of the cushion beside the couch arm so the blade sticks up, and you plop back on the couch and stick yourself in the arse. I tell you all this so that you never need to learn this lesson yourself!

In less painful news, Roo also got this lovely photo of our mate, Thor, and I at Firey Scheds.  I'd say that's the tall and the short of our brigade!

And here is Andyroo summing up our incident management team training on Sunday, and that's me second from left in the line.

I got to pretend to be the 'comcen' person, so I was taking requests for extra support of different kinds, and giving ETAs on those, and asking for situation reports, and in between i was also adding radio traffic as you'd usually hear on the comcen channel, such as brigades calling in that they were turning out to other incidents and so on, and then I also had to act like comcen answering them, which got a bit confusing. 

I tried doing it in different voices so it didn't sound so confusing when I was answering myself, but every time I did we all got the giggles so I had to stop and just use my usual voice.  Those giggles together really made my day!  I do love a bit of a laugh and good comradery, even when what you are doing has a serious basis.  I think it can be underestimated, by some, just how important these things are, and that volunteers need to have a bit of both to make the long hours they spend at training and incidents rewarding enough to keep going.

Saturday night we got to do a lot of both things when we went to the local Shire's Firey's Picnic.  We put our seats down and only came back to them to eat the food, because the rest of the time we were chattering and laughing and catching up with friends from all the different brigades.  I didn't even remember to use my phone to get a photo.  I was too busy gasbagging!  Ross got one of us raiding the dessert table though!  Gluten free pavlova.  Yum!

Loving my lovely Roo and his gorgeous smile in this one! (We won't mention the madwoman next to him!  

And here we are chatting to equally lovely VFRS father and daughter team (and fellow dog lovers and GWP owners) Dave and Niamh!

It was windy as anything.  A chance to wear my snazzy new Darling Range Brigade jacket!   

This morning we went down to the station and showed one of our coms friends the drafting system on the appliances because he missed that training night at his ownfFire brigade and wanted to catch up.  He also got to check out the monitors!  Go Tom!

It never does me any harm to go over drafting water (what you do to fill your tank when there are no hydrants and you need to get water from a stream or dam) because for some reason it always goes out of my head five minutes after I've learned it.  Luckily I have a very good teacher in Roo!

Ah well, a very Firey week, but that is a good thing.  As I am often heard to say: Think your phone doesn't ring enough?  Join a volunteer fire brigade!

Now I'm going back to getting my latest book ready, having sorted the horrible glitches in the latest upgrade of Word for Mac by downgrading it to an earlier version all by myself!  Geez if I keep this up I'll end up an actual tech-head!

Not much else I can do but static jobs right now, since walking hurts my arse.  Yes, I really did stab myself in the ass.  You can't make this stuff up even if you're an author!  :D 



Friday, 9 March 2018

Chickens and Lyres

Ah well only one day late this time!

I finally got a couple of better pics of my chookie babies...

Pellinore and Guinevere

  All five about to make a hasty exit off the table because Rover has arrived!

Rover looks a bit scruffy.  She has been moulting lately.  She's still terrifying if you are a baby chookie!

Eeeek!  Flee! Flee!

The self-seeded fig tree out by the front gate has been attracting plenty of birds.  (And Tinas!  Yum!)  This morning there were quite a few 28's (Ring necked parrots) eating figs as we came back from our dog walk, and later it was full of magpies instead!

Can you see the 28 in the fig tree?  (I'm guessing 'she' because she has a pinkish area above her beak where the boys are blue.)   She stayed back when the others flew away because her fig was just too good.  They are mostly green with a yellow band round the neck, black head, and some blue, black and aqua in the wing feathers and a blue tail.  They are quite common, but I still appreciate their varied calls and beauty.         

Here you go, I zoomed the pic above for you and changed the colours so she shows up.

Their bright colouring is surprisingly good camouflage.  They are colloquially known as 28's because their alarm call sounds like they are shouting, "Twenty-Eight! Twenty-eight! Twenty-eight!"

Fréowine is going to be surprisingly bright too.  I am eyeing off watercolour dying for this second lyre.  It might be going to be blue, if the test-dying of the wood looks good.  The soundboard is safely trimmed and now I am at the sanding stage.  I still don't know what design is going to be on it.

My marvelous OBOD Ovate tutor, Mike, who just happens to know Anglo-Saxon, tells me that Fréowine translates directly as 'wine friend,' meaning someone you would go drinking with.  I think that is a great name for a lyre, but what decoration does it call for?

Am trying to justify the expense (to myself) of buying a pyrography pen for doing the design work this time!

 Or should I try to do Kolrosing, scratching the wood, then filling with charcoal, oil and wax, as was done on the original Trossingen Lyre?  Each new thing to learn is always interesting!

This image comes from the site of Michael J King, whose pattern we are using to make my Sutton Hoo Lyres.  One day I will try making a Trossingen and a Kravik style one too!  He is always helpful to people 'doing it themselves'!

I am enjoying the music of this artist, fellow Druid Gwilym Morus, right at this moment, as I type:

So peaceful and hypnotic, a little bit wistful and then suddenly full of optimism, mostly sung in Welsh.  This album, Awena, is currently free to download.

So generous!  If you download his music and enjoy it, please do buy some more, or plug it to your friends!


Monday, 5 March 2018

Bad Bad Blogger!

I don't know, I was so good for more than two years, writing two posts every week.  Now all of a sudden I've fallen off the wagon!

It's not that my life is being boring, far from it.  I just don't seem to find time to do it.  I'll be better, I promise. 

So this week, we have had a Norse storytelling night at a local sound temple.  It was great!  Someone took a photo of us but now have no idea who took it or how to get it off them!  D'oh!

We also came home from that to a lot of branches from a large Bushy Yate tree that had fallen over on the chook pen and dome!  Yikes!  Our Firey mates came over first thing and worked so fast that I didn't get a chance to take a photo of the downed branches, but here is the poor squashed chook dome with what is left of the offending tree in the background. It still has an equal number of branches to dump next time it feels like it.  We may have to take it out totally before we bother fixing the chook pen.  Sorry tree! 

Here we are posed in front of the propped up remnants.  It is working fine with a few additions of pillars inside, cut from the insulting tree branches themselves!   Best news is that every single chook escaped that event unscathed even though they were all asleep in there when it went over!

From L to R: Smutty, Fast Attack Brock, Dave the photo guy, Tigger (Jen), Thor and Blaze.
(Yes, Smutty is me.  Blaze is Andrew.  We jokingly gave each other those nicknames after a particularly grubby fire.)    
We called mum into the pic because she made us yummy cake!

Our favourite Lieutenant, Angus, was there too but he took off to walk his dog, Harley, before weekend scheds started, so he missed being immortalised.   Here is his orange-clad backside hard at work, though, just to prove he was there. (Don't you hate bloggers and their cameras?  :D)

As you can see, the fence took a beating as well, but the sturdy gate we put in some years ago with jack-hammered holes into the rock has stood firm!

Last week mum and I took a 'cut lunch and a water bag,' as they say, and did a big drive north and west of the hills to visit mum's cousin, Lorraine.  A couple of other cousins came along too in Greggy and Cheryl, plus spouses and two second (?) cousins in myself and Lorraine's son, Andrew.  We have a lovely family.  So jolly and funny.  Short, though.  Definitely short. 

My two new lyres are coming along.  Both have now been clamped and glued and have their soundboards.


Yes it used nearly every clamp we had to do just one of them at a time.  If you don't clamp a lot,  you might get gaps.

Torc has also been trimmed of extra soundboard and sanded ready for the next stage, which is perhaps drilling the holes for the tuning pins, and for the tailpiece to attach to, or perhaps putting on the design.  Not sure yet.  The design for this one will, of course, be a boar to match its name.

Rosie caught in the hole of the lyre while wandering by.  Nice work, me!

All smooth and boxy!
Do you see the baby chickens up on the compost bins behind Fréowine?

I swear to you, I've taken dozens of pics trying to get good ones of these little wrigglers, and it should be easy since they are forever underfoot, but I barely have even a half decent one.  Baby rooster, not sure which one but quite dark so maybe Sir Grummore. 

Baby rooster showing his growing hackle feathers and cute little puffy baby rooster tail.  Looks smallish so maybe Sir Ector.  I'm going to get them leg bands, because I need to see who it is who has been having goes at my feet so I know who ISN'T staying! (And who gets picked up and humiliatingly cuddled for his pains.) When you see the boys all together you can tell them apart, but not one at a time.  

I met my sis, Jen, at a local cafe for lunch on Sunday.  We were in the beautiful garden of Mojo Cafe in Mundaring, and it was lovely, including these adorable two lassies who were playing piano accordion duets for us.  My fave tune was the one from the movie, Amelie.  It always evokes whimsy, quirkiness, and happiness for me!  

See you on Friday.  (I promise!)