Category Archives: Life/Family/Friends

Sand And Cubbyhouses

My dad lived across from the beach, for a number of years, when I was growing up. It was great being able to walk out the front door, cross the road and be on the beach with its long stretch of golden sand. If you walked in one direction, you’d reach the mouth of the river that we sometimes swam in. Clear waters, gum trees edging the banks and a few boulders alongside it that were perfect for sitting on when you were drying off. If you walked in the other direction, you reached a creek that was muddy and good for catching prawns with a cast net. And of course, there was plenty of beachfront between them to swim, walk, have campfires and just hang out with friends.

One year my sister and I both decided we wanted cubbyhouses. And of course we each wanted our own. My sister wanted hers in the mango tree out the back and she was happy with a platform type of cubbyhouse that was open and accessible by a ladder. I guess I must have been the difficult child as I had other ideas. There was an old water tank stand out the side, basically four large, round posts with cross beams on top of them that looked like a tic-tac-toe grid from above.

My cubbyhouse needed a roof and walls since I wanted to be able to sleep in it. I also wanted it to be two storeys and have a verandah out the front where I could look across to the beach. And windows. I needed windows. I might have been a slightly demanding child at times, but at least I knew exactly what I wanted. I admit to being only slightly demanding though. And I was willing to help build it.

A roof was added to the water tank stand, high enough above the crossbeams that when ply was added to the crossbeams I was able to sit up on them without hitting my head on the roof. With some space to spare. The centre of the crossbeams was left open. When walls were added, leaving a section of the ply covered crossbeams outside the walls for the verandah, the upstairs floor of the cubbyhouse created a ‘U’ shape.

Looking out the front door.

I also got the windows I wanted. An old canvas tent was cut up to make the walls, cut in a way that the windows of the tent ended up in the right places for the cubbyhouse. It was perfect. I could sleep upstairs, sit out on my verandah that overlooked the beach and have various odds and ends downstairs. I used it for a lot of years. Having sleepovers in it with friends, lying down upstairs listening to the rain on the tin roof as I read and sitting on the verandah talking with friends. Sadly I have no photos of the cubbyhouse, but since it was at the side of the house, I had the same view as what could be seen from the front door. The road, some gum trees, the beach and the ocean, islands in the distance. It was a good view and an even greater cubbyhouse.

Winter

It’s that time of year I dread when the days are too cold for me and the nights make me feel like I’m not far off freezing. It’s time to pile all the blankets and doonahs on the bed and turn the heater on in the late afternoon so I’m not walking around the house in the evening with my breath misting the air in front of me. It’s the time of year when I start watching the calendar and counting the days until spring arrives. When the days will warm while not yet being those terribly scorching days of summer when I’ll be counting down until autumn comes.

There are many things I do love about this time of year. The way the morning fog nestles amongst the hills and mountains so it looks like islands out at sea. The vivid, clear, cloudless skies and the many flowers that are still in bloom on the aloes. We also tend to see more deer about, often coming up to the fence of our house paddock and occasionally entering it. And it’s also nice to be able to bring out some of my favourite blankets that it’s too hot to have on the bed during other times of the year. I also can’t forget jackets. I love being able to wear some of my favourite jackets.

Even though it’s too cold here and I look forward to spring, that doesn’t stop me from visiting colder places. Some things are worth braving. Like the cold weather when you want to visit somewhere that is best seen during winter.

So I’m looking forward to spring and after that, I’ll be looking forward to autumn. My two favourite seasons of the year. Which season, or seasons, do you prefer?

Good Luck With That Plan

There are times when I think I know where a scene is going, but it’s late at night, or really early in the morning, and I decide to write it after I’ve had a sleep. I should know by now that things rarely go according to plan. So many times when I do this, I’m woken by a dream of the next scene. And do you think it’s the scene I planned to write? Of course it isn’t.

My characters might as well start the dream with a grin and say, “Good luck with that plan.” Not that it isn’t a better scene. It always is. But it’s one of those things I’m both grateful for and slightly annoyed by. Or at least I’m annoyed until I get past my initial grumbles about wanting another hour or two of sleep. Or even possibly a few more minutes of sleep. Yeah, I know, good luck with that plan. It doesn’t take long before I’m working on the scene, lack of sleep forgotten, completely immersed in the story, grateful it’s going in a far better direction.

An Overdose Of Cuteness

I was surprised to discover it was possible to visit the local RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and play with the cats and kittens. Or at least play with the sociable ones. So if you’re unable to have pets where you live and would love to spend time with some cute and adorable animals, why not contact your local animal shelter and see if they allow visits. It’s also likely that they’re in need of other help as well and would appreciate volunteers who are interested in helping take care of the animals who find themselves in need of a home.

The day we visited the local RSPCA there were several kittens, all wanting to play. There were also older cats, some that wanted time alone, while others were excited to have visitors and demanded to be patted. The kittens pounced on the toys that were provided for them to play with, raced around with each other and purred loudly when they stopped long enough for some attention.

They were all so adorable and playful, several trying to escape their rooms to try and follow visitors home. It was extremely difficult to resist them when they looked pleadingly up at you as you headed out of the room, their eyes begging to be taken home with you. And it wasn’t only the kittens who were adorable. There were cuddly older cats, regal ones and ones that stretched out in front of you expecting to be patted.

So if you’re looking for an overdose of cuteness, why not see if your local animal shelter allows visitors. I know the cats and kittens at our local one enjoyed all the attention they received the day we visited.

One Man’s Treasure

I have a tendency to keep things. Odds and ends that appear to have no use. I have cupboards neatly stacked with broken items, material, left over pieces from projects and things I currently have no use for. I have been accused more than once of being a pack rat or a hoarder. Yet when I start a new craft project or someone is in the middle of a project and can’t find the exact piece they need, those cupboards of items become treasure troves waiting to be plundered.

Buttons for a vest, a piece of lace for a trim, bits and pieces for a decorative finish, items to personalise an otherwise bland purchase. It is amazing how many things can be reused, recycled or turned into something new. Some of my steampunk costumes have benefited from raiding my cupboards of treasures. Ribbons, lace, buttons, metal loops, fine chain, left over material, scraps of leather. You never know what you might find and what it might one day become.

Hidden in the Mist

I can never look at a picture without seeing more than what is there. It doesn’t matter what that picture is or how tranquil and peaceful the scene appears. I’m imagining things behind the cascade of a waterfall. Hidden caves, hollows where creatures lurk, traps for the unwary. Off in the distance creatures hide in the mist, waiting for it to spread and cover more of the land. The bushes with their burst of colours are camouflage for creatures with sharp claws and long fangs. Beneath the still water are monsters that will drag in those who venture too close.

A tranquil place for a picnic? Maybe for some. But my imagination has it filled with horrors waiting to strike. Waiting for the innocent to enter the area, traps ready to be sprung. Only time will tell which will get them first.

Is it any wonder I have an endless supply of story ideas to write? Stories are everywhere I look. Waiting to be told.

A Magical Storage Room

When I was in primary school my nana lived in a high set house, with several rooms beneath it including one that was filled with odds and ends. Most people saw junk when they looked into the tumble of items thrown into that room over the years. Things that needed to be fixed, others that were outdated or no longer needed. I saw treasures.

One entire wall of the storage room was filled with long louvers that ran the length of the room. They could be opened slightly to let in a small amount of light or opened completely to fill the room with sunshine. Eerie lighting accompanied spooky games where hiding places were needed to avoid the bad guys or for storm swept nights filled with magic and mayhem.

The louvers often became an elaborate part of the process of making a time machine work, or a shield to be raised when the space ship was under attack. There were broken handles from gardening tools that became mighty swords, poles to vault over pools of lava or a staff to help a traveller through steep mountains.

There were other treasures. Like the birdcage we used when we rescued an injured bird. It was brought out numerous times over the years and I still own it, having been given it a few years after I left home. There were also things I had no idea what they were or had been a part of, but that didn’t stop me from making up purposes for them.

To this day I rarely see junk. I see instead what it can be turned into and I see memories of games played long ago, filled with imagination, adventure and stories.

Following Dreams

When I was in my late teens, I bought a second hand silky oak bookcase. I’d actually gone out to buy an old timber trunk, but how could I resist the bookcase? Obviously I couldn’t and I brought it home and began to shift some of my books from their makeshift shelves and into the bookcase. I kept authors’ books together and when I was finished I stood back and admired the shelves. At that moment it struck me that the books of one of the authors had nearly completely filled the top shelf. I wanted to be able to do that. I wanted to fill the top shelf of the bookcase with my own books.

Over the years I mentioned this to a few people. Some nodded or shrugged, others laughed. Did I realise how many books it would take to fill the shelf? Well of course I did. I’m perfectly capable of counting and I could clearly see the books already in the shelf. Did I know how much work that would take? Yep. And I’ve never been afraid of hard work. Dreams are for children. Seriously? I think that person more than most needed a few dreams of their own to follow. And the winning comment- you won’t live long enough to write enough books to fill that shelf. A polite way to tell me to drop dead? Apparently not. A threat? Why would I even suggest that? Hmm, not sure… So a challenge then? Not that either. Oh well, challenge accepted anyway.

Recently I was able to achieve that dream. Filling the top shelf with my books. It has taken me a lot of years to reach that point, but I’ve finally fulfilled yet another one of my dreams. But I’m not about to stop there. The bookcase has another three shelves. It won’t be long before I start on the second shelf and who knows, maybe one day I’ll fill them all. I certainly have more than enough ideas to be able to write that many books and more.

Bring On 2018

It’s been a whirlwind of a year with a mixture of things happening. Both good and bad. As always I’m interested to see what the following year will bring.

I had so much fun at the many events I attended this year and especially loved meeting some of my readers and catching up with ones I’ve met previous years. I’ve been working on some of the novels I plan to release next year and have discovered so many characters that are in need of having their stories told. A pity there isn’t more time to do all the things I love to do. Although the problem might be that I have an extremely long list of things I love doing. I wish everyone all the best for the coming year and hope that you find time to do some of the things you love doing too.

Supanova, Brisbane 2017

Once again we attended Supanova, Brisbane. It was far more crowded than previous events, but equally enjoyable. As always I felt at home, loving all the costumes and having fun figuring out who each person was portraying. It was great to see people dressed as some of my favourite characters.

 

Our display this year outdid the previous ones and Clint did an amazing job recreating a scene from Assassins Of The Dead 2: Dragon Touched. There was also a beautiful timber counter with a display in the front for some of my books. One of the biggest hits of our display was the 4.2 metre long articulated snake that is made mostly from PVC pipe and must have featured in hundreds of photos. I can’t wait to see what Clint will create for next year.

  

We took so many photos it was difficult to choose which ones to post. If you would like to see more, you can check what I put on Facebook. Or better yet, why not attend Supanova, Brisbane next year and experience everything for yourself. And if you do, come and say hello. Like previous years I loved catching up with old friends and meeting new people and I’m looking forward to doing so again next year.