Thursday, 22 September 2016

Of Mice and Men - well mice (and rats) ....

Makes sense - the school holidays are coming up and I am having my eldest grandson for a week as usual. And as usual the weather predicted is not crash hot - more rain and showers than sunshine.

Same thing happened last time he was here but we vegged out on movies. Went and bought a few DVDs and worked our way through them. Looks like it might be a similar week this time around.

Hopefully the weather is good enough one evening so we can go to the drive-in ... missed out last time. The Secret Life of Pets is on from next Thursday so hopefully Thursday or Friday aren't raining.

My latest book comes out tomorrow - 22nd which is today here Downunder but as my publisher is US based it won't be available till tomorrow. It's sitting at #7 on the Best Selling list ... yipee!

I've spent most of the week doing the publicity thing - social media, getting other authors to host promo stuff, etc - so hopefully it all pays off and the book sells well.

Usually sells more copies once it hits the 3rd party sites like Amazon, B&N, iTunes, and the like - oh and I get a better payment too ... lol. Get 50% of the sale price from 3rd party sellers rather than 40% from the publisher.

Much as I love the feel of a real book, authors just don't get much (5% for me). Too many others have their hands out to get a share.

Cali likes to sit alongside me while I work on the laptop. Decided to see what would happen if I played a video of a pretend mouse wandering across the screen

As you can see she wanted to catch it, she tried so hard. Even going behind the laptop when it run off the screen. Alas she was as successful in hunting pretend mice as she is in real life. Never caught a thing!

She did almost catch a moth once but it fluttered its wings and she jumped off in fright ... lol.

Spotty, on the other hand, hunts all the time. Thankfully he never kills anything, just brings his trophies in for me to rescue and return outside. Once he brought home a bunny! I thought he had a stuffed toy and got the biggest shock when I picked up once he dropped it at my feet.

I took it down the road to Featherdale Wildlife park and as far as I know it's still living there happily without fear of a big fat cat carry it around.

He did drop a mouse once that ran behind a cupboard before I could catch it (yes I did get it later). He and Cali spent hours sitting at the cupboard waiting for it to poke its nose out but it was too smart.

One day Spot caught a Bush Rat... I carefully put it back outside. Unfortunately it discovered the cat door and kept coming inside throughout the night. As fast as I'd catch it and put it out the front door within the hour it would work it's way round the back and inside again. I ended up taking that down to Featherdale as well.

Never a dull moment with him around (in case you wonder both cats get locked up at night).

Big thanks to those who emailed me after my last posting - really appreciated your kind thoughts - it's always nice to hear from you.

Friday, 16 September 2016

I'm Baacckkkk.......

I'm back - did you miss me? 

Probably didn't even notice I hadn't posted anything since July ... lol

Been out of action but I guess we can't all have perfect health or perfect lives - although it would be Still you learn to adapt and accept the good news with the bad.
The Four Legendary Kingdoms: A Jack West Jr Novel 4 - Matthew Reilly
On top of that one of my sons had a lump removed that turned out to be the nasty C word. Doc thinks he has it all out but only time will tell. Have to keep our fingers crossed for good news each time he goes back for check-ups. Damn unfair when young people have to face such horrid things.

I'm keeping a positive attitude - what else it there?

One of my favourite authors, Matthew Reilly, has a new book coming out on 18 of October and I can't wait! The Four Legendary Kingdoms is the 4th book in a series and this has been a long time coming. Book 3 was out November 2012 so 4 years has dragged. I've pre-ordered it - can hardly wait.

In preparation for its release I'm re-reading the previous 3 books He's is such a great writer. His last book The Great Zoo of China was fabulous, but then I'm biased and love all his works.

Matthew Reilly is an Australian writer whose books are filled with page by page action. Most stories are set over a few days and are so fast paced - I just love them!

I'm friends with him on Facebook and love seeing the area he works in. He owns and drives a DeLorean DMC-12, the car made famous in the Back to the Future movies. He also has a life-sized Han Solo in carbonite hanging on the wall of his office as well as lots of other movie trinkets.

I also have a new book coming out at the end of the month. Haven't written much during the past 12 months but I'm trying to bring out one book a year. This book will be my 17th. It came out on pre-order on Tuesday and already it's made my publisher's Best Selling list - at the moment it's #17 ... I'm so excited. 

That means every book I've written and had published has made the list and everyone has been in the top 20. I've had a few #1's and 2s and except for this one all have been in the top 5.

I never in my wildest dreams thought I would become an author let alone have books that are #1 on Best Selling Lists. I've even made Amazon's Top 10!

Changed my hair again - had been growing it but got fed up with it so cut it off. As well I've gone for a blend of colours - 7 to be exact. Different shades of pink, purple and I love it, so does my hairdresser. Each month when I go in she gets excited because she knows she gets to do outlandish colours.

Anyway - for those that did notice I've been MIA, thanks and hello again :)  Drop me an email and say 'hi' ... or join me on Facebook.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Medical Update ...

View from my hospital bed yesterday ... thankfully I'm home now.

Doc did my surgery via laparoscopy so I have 4 cuts that look like stab wounds .... lol.

Very tender and hurts when I move but apart from that I feel okay. Worst part is no driving for 7 days and no lifting for 7 weeks,

Next to be read shelf
That means I can't go to my Life Studies Painting/drawing club each Saturday ... boohoo! I will have to wait until after the next school holidays before I can go again. (We don't hold the group during the hols.)

Of course there is good news .... doc said it didn't look like anything nasty although I won't get the biopsy results until I see him in 3 weeks. He did say the whole area was very inflamed and red - so I really needed the surgery as quickly as it happened.

Anyway the worst is over now and I just have to take things easy for 7 weeks.

So now I have a pile of books to devour, my laptop to write or play games on and a big supply of Chinese White tea to drink .... lol

Friday, 29 July 2016

Damn!!! ....

Well I think I must have broken a mirror or jinxed myself ...

Went to the doctor on Wednesday and now I'm in hospital being operated on this afternoon!

My middle sister keeps telling me not to go to the doctors - I should have listened .... lol.

Hopefully I'll be back in action soon :(

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Ancestry DNA ...

A couple of months ago I sent of a DNA sample to Ancestry. I have always been interested in my family tree and have researched the geneology of my parents. I have my family tree on Ancestry and figured it would be interesting to see if anything popped up to surprise me.

Nothing really did as I had researched back to the 1700 and 1800's but it was nice to confirm it all. Of course all it shows is one's ethnicity and because I had done a lot of research there was nothing that stood out as a surprise.

My parents ancestors mainly came from Scotland and Ireland, Both sides of my father's ancestors came from Ireland while mum's came from England. On my father's side I have been able to go back to my great-great-great-great grandfather.

I haven't been able to go back far on my mother's side, only to my great grandparents, but I'm hoping with these results I can link into some other family trees.  [On dad's side we do have a connection with French Canadian (New Brunswick) and USA (New Hamshire) along one line]. 

When other members of Ancestry have DNA testing their results are then linked to other members where possible. At the moment it has given me 38 5th cousins or closer which is really interesting. There are also 5 people who are even closer with us sharing the same great-great grandfather on my paternal side.

As more and more people have their DNA tested the chances of meeting finding more relations naturally increase.

So this is the breakdown for my DNA ethnicity.

Great Britain ... 52%
Primarily located in: England, Scotland, Wales
Also found in: Ireland, France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Italy
The history of Great Britain is often told in terms of the invasions with different groups of invaders displacing the native population. The Romans, Anglo-Saxon, Vikings and Normans have all left their mark on Great Britain both politically and culturally. However, the story of Great Britain is far more complex than the traditional view of invaders displacing existing populations. In fact modern studies of British people tend to suggest the earliest populations continued to exist and adapt and absorb the new arrivals.

Ireland ... 30%
Primarily located in: Ireland, Wales, Scotland
Also found in: France, England
Ireland is located in the eastern part of the North Atlantic Ocean, directly west of Great Britain. A variety of internal and external influences have shaped Ireland as we know it today. Ireland’s modern cultural remains deeply rooted in the Celtic culture that spread across much of Central Europe and into the British Isles. Along with Wales, Scotland, and a handful of other isolated communities within the British Isles, Ireland remains one of the last holdouts of the ancient Celtic languages that were once spoken throughout much of Western Europe. And though closely tied to Great Britain, both geographically and historically, the Irish have fiercely maintained their unique character through the centuries.

Scandinavia ... 8%
Primarily located in: Sweden, Norway, Denmark
Also found in: Great Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, the Baltic States, Finland
Scandinavia is perched atop northern Europe, its natives referred to throughout history as “North Men.” Separated from the main European continent by the Baltic Sea, the Scandinavians have historically been renowned seafarers. Their adventures brought them into contact with much of the rest of Europe, sometimes as feared raiders and other times as well-traveled merchants and tradesmen.

Europe West ... 6%
Primarily located in: Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein
Also found in: England, Denmark, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic
The Europe West region is a broad expanse stretching from Amsterdam's sea-level metropolis to the majestic peaks of the Alps. Geographically dominated by France in the west and Germany in the east, it includes several nations with distinct cultural identities. From the boisterous beer gardens of Munich to the sun-soaked vineyards of Bordeaux and the alpine dairy farms of Switzerland, it is a region of charming cultural diversity.

Finland/Northwest Russia ... 2%
Primarily located in: Finland, Russia (northwest)
Also found in: Estonia, Latvia, Sweden, Lithuania
Finland is one of the Nordic nations, straddling the Arctic Circle north of continental Europe. Although it shares long borders with the Scandinavian nations of Sweden and Norway, Finland stands apart in both language and ethnic identity. Politically controlled by its neighbors Sweden and Russia through much of its history, Finland today is a strong, independent nation with a unique, ancient heritage.

Iberian Peninsula ... 1%
Primarily located in: Spain, Portugal
Also found in: France, Morocco, Algeria, Italy
Separated from the rest of continental Europe by the Pyrenees Mountains, the Iberian Peninsula lies between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Gibraltar, at the peninsula’s southern tip, is just a little over nine miles from the north coast of Africa. This proximity would play a major part in the history and identity of Spain and Portugal.

Europe East ... < 1%

Primarily located in: Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Russia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia
Also found in: Germany, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Estonia, Bulgaria
The Europe East region stretches from the Baltic Sea in the north to the borders of Greece in the south. Throughout history, the region has stood at the crossroads—and often in the crosshairs—of Europe and Central Asia. Despite constant invasions and occupations over the centuries, the hardy inhabitants have, nevertheless, managed to perservere.

Caucasus ... < 1%

Primarily located in: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey
Also found in: Bulgaria, Jordan, Greece, Italy, Kuwait, Palestine, Romania, Turkmenistan
The Greater Caucasus Range, running northwest to southeast between the Black and Caspian Seas, is the traditional line of demarcation between the continents of Europe and Asia. It was here, according to Greek mythology, that Zeus bound Prometheus for giving fire to humans. Linguistically, culturally, and even ecologically diverse, the Caucasus area is home to more than 50 ethnic groups and is one of 34 "biodiversity hotspots" (areas with significant, threatened biodiversity) in the world.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Books, Books and more Books ....

One of the problems of being a bookworm is space - where to put all the bookcases.

About 16 years ago I had 12 large bookcases scattered through the house but had to get rid of all but 4. That meant 7 tea-chests full of books had to go as well. It was a painful process for a book lover but I did it - alas there was no other choice. The space was urgently needed for a hospital bed, wheelchair, lift and the like, furniture had to be moved or got rid of.

Anyway now that section of my life is over during the past few years I have been slowly gathering a new collection of books and bookcases. I have adopted another 10 bookcases that have made their way into my house.

The latest is a you beaut sweetheart of a bookcase.

I have a lot of recipe books and they were 'double and triple parked' on the shelves on the small bookcase they were in. I'd been measuring up and discovered I could fit a larger one in the space if I jiggled things round a little.

The case was from IKEA but wouldn't fit in my RAV so #2 son picked it up in his work van and then saved me a day of trouble and cursing by putting it together for me in about an

It looks great and I have plenty of room to add more books. I had a small bookcase alongside that I kept DVDs in which were also crammed so they now can spread out into the new shelves too.

I had a pile of books stacked in my workroom and another stashed in the family room. The old bookcase I moved and put the piles onto it. No more heaps of books - they all have a shelf to sit on AND I even have room to add more

Mind you knowing the way I buy books I don't think it will be very long before I start measuring to find where I can put another bookcase although I think I may have reached my limit as far as space goes. I'll have to start weeding out books instead - I really hate doing that.

I love re-reading books. My record is 103 times for the Lord of The Rings ... and there are a few other series that aren't too far behind. The Shannara Chronciles, Harry Potter, Discworld, The Dragons of Pern and Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey series, Ngaio Marsh's Roderick Alleyn series, Kathy Reichs' Bones just to name a few.

In fact my first LOTR was a paperback edition that fell to pieces from being read so much - then I bought a hardcover set in 1974 which seems to be coping better (can you see the bookmark fringe showing where I'm up to for 104). I have to admit too my copy of the Sword of Shannara has also seen better days ;)

So there is no way I could part with those books. But there area few that I've read once and know I have no interest at all in reading again, even have a few that I've only managed to read part of before tossing the book aside.

What do you hang on to? Are you addicted to books like me or is there something else that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy?

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

A Few Books to Read ...

Next to Read
Been on a reading spree since I came home from Kiama. My bookcases are now overflowing and I'm trying to figure out where I can put another one to cope with my ever increasing library.

I love murder mysteries and always on the lookout for new authors. Authors like Karin Slaughter, Jeffrey Deaver, Kava, Kellerman, Reichs ... the list for me goes on and on.

I discovered Lars Kepler in Kiama and have been devouring his work. As well I read the first three Miss Fisher murders books and fell in love.

I managed to pick up another 11 of the Miss Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood on Ebay and will keep my eyes open for the remainder. Fortunately I have the next 7 in the series so hopefully I find book 10 by the time I'm finished the previous ones.

Anyway I now I have a few more books to read as you can see.

This is my 'next to read' pile. I also have a 'read soon' pile which is probably five times bigger and then there are all the thousands of ebooks I still haven't read. ;)

On top of all that my own books are slowly coming out in paperback so they can now sit on the shelf so I can But of course it means more space taken on my bookshelves.

I just finished Jeffrey Deaver's Steel Kiss so I'm now up to date with his Lincoln Rhyme and Katherine Dance books.

Picked up another copy of Stephen Hawking's History of Time. This time I bought a Briefer History - the newer version of his classic.

Been watching his 6 part series - Genius. That man is absolutely amazing and you can't help but get caught up in the love of physics.

Also discovered that my favourite aussie author - Matthew Reilly - has a book coming out in mid October - the next in the Jack West series.... The Four Legendary Kingdoms.  It's been a very long time since he released book three - November 2012 - so this book will be eagerly anticipated.

Anyway I now off to read a few chapters of Phyrne Fisher before I edit a few chapters of own next book.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

A Drop of Rain ...

So ... it rained.

Now that seems a very normal thing to say and if you're reading this outside of Australia you would be thinking 'big deal'... but when I say it rained it's would need a much better word.

It poured?
It teemed down?
It inundated?

None of those seem to say what the bloody rain did - it invaded.

On Saturday morning we had a couple of showers - just a sprinkling or two but it was foreboding. The BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) had warned everyone living on the east coast of Australia to be prepared. Queensland had some very heavy rain and with an east coast low developing it was expected the whole east coast would be hit.

So Saturday morning's sprinkling wasn't too bad - I went to my Life Study painting, get home around 2:30pm - the clouds were gathering.

What followed was crazy.

Parramatta Ferry before the rain
Between late Saturday afternoon and the early hours of Monday morning it rained - and rained and rained and rained.

The wind howled the rain fell and just never seemed to stop.

About 16km from where I live.
I checked with the BOM's site for my area. Over my house between Sat and 9am Monday morning I had over 250cm of rain - that's over 8'2" for those who still use that system. All in less than 36 hours!!!

Collaroy Beach - NSW
Up and down the coast everyone got pounded. Flooding and trees down from the gale force winds.

I live about 48km inland but still got hammered. Those living on the coast had to battle with king tides as well. Slowly the system moved down Australia until it reached Tasmania and that poor island almost sank under the weight of the weather.

Sadly at least five people are dead (3 in NSW, 1 in Canberra and 1 in Tasmania) and the search goes on for those missing.

The insurance bill for property damage in NSW has already reached $56 million already but will certainly rise substantially over the coming weeks. Who knows how high it will go once the Tasmanian, Queensland and Victorian figures are added. The Tasmanian government has stated the damage bill for the state could reach $100 million.

The BOM have now warned of another severe weather alert for southern NSW - this time a severe wind warning ahead of a cold front for some areas that have been affected by the east coast low.

This link shows the trail of the storm -

Monday, 30 May 2016

Cancer, Macro Photos, Life Study Models ....

Just gave a huge sigh of relief - so loud it's a wonder it wasn't heard around the  After weeks of tests, prodding and poking, giving enough blood to satisfy even the hungriest vampire, my doctor told me this morning that there is no cancer. He had been worried by a lump he found hence my weeks of tests.

This morning I had the final round of tests and I get the results from them next Monday but my doc is 99.9% confident that they will come back normal.

It's amazing what feelings that dreaded 'C' word brings up - been such a stressful few weeks. Tried to ignore it and remain positive but it hangs over you. Now I am dancing around the house laughing - Fozzie thinks I've gone nuts (or even nuttier than usual).

Of course I never told anyone - hate causing anxiety to others - so I just kept my scary feelings, my nightmares, to myself. I am a private person despite writing a blog, guess the blog is a kind of pressure release valve ... lol

So now I can get back to what is considered normal for me.

Been going through my photo from the Kiama trip and think some are very good. One of the lenses I bought was a Macro lens and I want to do some more work with it. Think a day outing is in order soon.

The cold weather is finally poking its nose in the door - it's hovering around 14c today after dropping to 2c overnight. Still it's a lot warmer than usual with 22c predicted for the end of the week.

5 min
My life studies group has been dwindling of late - maybe because of the cooler weather - but I am really enjoying it. I've found I'm now painting directly with the shorter poses, still doing pencil sketches for the ones up to 5 mins but using watercolour for the rest.

5 mins
Had a new female model who was delightful. She was a full figure woman probably in her 40s but was an excellent model. She gave some amazing poses and I've been told I can get her again.

My favourite male model was doing his usual tricks - giving me a lot of challenging fore-shortened poses. He knows how much I hate them but in a strange way I really love doing them.

Rather contradictory I know but the challenge of trying to get the pose onto paper is something I love.

Funny how some models are so good and others ... well - mediocre.

Haven't done any writing for a while. Have one story written - 95k words - and to the 'tidy up' stage but just haven't got my mojo.

Decided to not worry about it and take a break. No use forcing something when it just isn't necessary at all. My books are still selling - not a huge amount but enough to make me smile when I get my qaurterly royalties ... lol.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Macadamians, Magical Minnamurra, Macquarie Pass ... oh and Cheese

So did I have a nice time away? Yep.

The park was perfect. The view from my cabin too. Very clean and very quiet. Lots of ducks - some would knock on my door begging for food ... lol.

Drove down to Berry one day and went to the Treat Factory - oh my is that a big temptation place. I came out laden down with all sorts of goodies.

My one regret which I didn't discover until I got back to Kiama was a jar of Orange Blossum Honey wasn't in my bag (the saleswoman must have missed it. I didn't pay for it so it wasn't much use driving back down.)

Anyway I bought stuff for the kids and the kid in me. The pic is of some Honey Chocolate Macadamias and some delicious Wildberry and Macadamia nougat.

The nougat is divine - if I had of realised how good it is I would have bought more. The place does have an online store so if I succumb I know I can buy more. Sadly it doesn't sell the honey online.

If anyone knows where I can buy Orange Blossum pure organic honey let me know please.

I'm being very restrained and only eating a little at a time - I've lost over 8kgs so don't want to put them back on .... lol.

Anyway another day I drove to Minnamurra Rainforest. I did the Loop walk - would have liked to do the Falls Walk but was advised against it. There is a lot of uphill walking and it isn't easy. The day was magical seeing 4 Lyrebirds I mentioned in the previous post.

That same day I drove to Robertson to go to the Cheese Factory.  That is a drive from hell ... full of hairpin turns on  a very narrow windy mountain road. For most of the drive I was in second gear and even had to drop down to first a couple of times. Decided to come back the long way - big mistake. I'd forgotten that way was the dreaded Macquarie Pass.

Macquarie Pass is even worse, the only benefit was in a few places it is a wider road. Eight kilometres of sheer nail-biting Read about how dangerous it is on the link. Its actually one of the world's most dangerous roads with so many terrible accidents.

In some places the trucks had to back up to get around the hairpin corners.

Overall I have to admit I was disappointed with the Cheese Factory. I bought some Pecorino, a few different vintage Cheddars and some Pickled Onion Cheddar but there just wasn't the selection I'd hoped for. There was about 6 different Cheddars, some Bries, Camembert and the Pecorino plus two blue cheeses.

I grated up the Pecorino and put it in the freezer - I find it keeps best that way and you can use it direct from the freezer with no problem.

The remainder of my time was spent painting. I did a number of watercolour sketches that I can use as the basis for larger paintings.

Naturally I took hundreds of photographs - some to use with the sketches when I paint and others just for the fun of it.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Photo Fun....

So had my week away. Didn't get the rough surf that I've been looking around for a few years. The weather was perfect - sunshine the whole time, temps around 25c.

Looks like I'll have to take a trip to the central coast or to Wollongong when I read the coastal wave warning probably during the Spring or Summer when the weather is changeable.

One one of the days I took myself to the Minnamurra Rainforest  and was lucky to photograph 3 Superb Lyre birds in the wild, something that takes patience and real luck.

They were in the midst of the ground cover and hard to see but I did manage to get some photos.

But then I came upon a 4th... so close to me. I stood very still but was able to get a number of photos. He was wandering through a small stream turning over rocks and feeding before finally taking a bath.

I was amazed to see him turning over large stones in the middle of the stream in his search for food. Not only was he in water but the stones were really large compared to him.

Had a good play with my new camera and lenses - think I'll have to buy a different camera bag. It's very heavy carrying the four lenses and the camera.

I'm thinking I need to look at a backpack to distribute the weight better than having the satchel I'm using now.

Was fun using them all and seeing the results. I liked the macro lens, got some nice pics of a duck that came visiting.

One day I just happened to pass a bookshop ... honest I was only going to look, really that's all.

I couldn't help it - these couple of books leapt into my arms and I just had to rescue them. 

I mean I only took two books with me so I needed something to read in case.wink emoticon
Oh - I also found a new author - Lars Kepler.... now I love his books!

I read Stalker. It was a real page turner, full of suspense and very well written.

Once I got home I bought the rest of his books