Monday, 23 January 2017

Winter Wonders ...

 It's that time of the year again when I put up with 43c+ temps and watch the Winter sports ... Alpine skiing, the Super G, the slalom, the ski jump.

I can sit in front of the TV at night and pretend that snow is outside my window and not the bloody heat.

Dave Ryding
I'm not a great one for watching sports but I do love watching the ski jumpers and the Super G. The only other sport I tend to watch is the Tour de France.

My favourite ski jumper is flying again this year - Noriaki Kasai - but he is being outdone by the younger guns. I have to say I love the style of Kamil Stoch, no wonder he's so popular. Last night's win on the Large Hill in Zacopane (Poland) shows he is on the rise.
Marcel Hirscher
Marcel Hirscher

The last two nights of slalom have been exciting to watch. The first night saw so may miss gates, many of the favourites. Then British skier Dave Ryding literally flew down the piste at an unbelievable speed.

He was leading after the first run but was beaten by Marcel Hirscher by 0.76 seconds. Marcel had a blinding run - he was 1.02 seconds behind going into the second run but stormed through to take first place.

Watching it you have you heart in your mouth as they leap out of the box and race down the mountain at breath-taking speeds. The hairpin turns, the close gates, the slick skis storming across the snow. Love it.

But in saying that I absolutely adore watching the skiers take off on the jumps  - to fly through the air for over a hundred metres. 

What must they think when they're sitting at the gate waiting for the green flag?

The way they soar, bodies stiff, almost parallel to the ground. The the landing - will they stay upright? 

Yep sure beats going outside in 43c heat ... lol

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Stupid Traffic ...

Last week I met up with a friend I'd met years ago through facebook. They live on the other side of Australia near Perth so it was exciting to finally meet up. A couple of my other FB friends joined us for lunch - we all belong to the same online photography group. The other two live locally and I've meet up with them a number of times through the past few years.

Anyway, the meeting was being held about 35-40 mins, just 28 kilometres (17 miles) away from me - at 11:30am. Just to be on the safe side and because I have to be early (lol) I left at 10:30 only to hit traffic on the M2 highway.

I sat in line with thousands of others moving a fraction of a metre forward every ten minutes or so and getting absolutely nowhere - rarely getting out of first gear!

After being in line for over thirty minutes and still having another 4 kilometres before the turn-off to Pennant Hills Road I figured enough was enough.

Pulled out of the line and continued through to the next turn off about at Christie Road Macquarie Park then drove around a half circle and came back onto the M2 going back the way I'd come. I'd noticed there was no traffic on the Pennant Hills exit coming from the city whereas the other way the build-up was almost 7 kilometres long.

So I breeze up the exit feeling rather smug until ... I turned onto Pennant Hills road and came to an abrupt stop.

The traffic was stationary. The same creeping a metre forward every minute or so and it continued all the way for 10 kilometres to the start of the M1. Thank goodness I wasn't going onto the M1 because I heard on the radio that the crawling traffic continued along the M1 for another 8 or so kilometres before it finally began to move ... albeit slowly but at least it was moving.

I really should have exited onto Ryde Road and onto the Pacific highway although I still would have been caught in the traffic - just not a much.

Anyway instead taking me 40 minutes at the most it took 2 hours and 10 minutes. Needless to say I was late but so were the other two coming from my direction. I was able to let my Perth friend know we'd be late as I actually played leap frog with one of my friends along the road ...  😳

Anyway the four of us had a lovely lunch - her husband joined us for a drink and a laugh then with nervous trepidation I began the trip home only to have no traffic and it took 35 minutes!

The moral of this tale is (and yes I was an idiot) -

Never try and go north from out Sydney's west during the Christmas break because every idiot and his dog are trying to do the same thing!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Peace and Joy ...

Peace and Joy - 
enjoy the season no matter what your beliefs.

Merry Christmas, Season's Greetings, Best Wishes, Chag Chanukah Sameach (Happy Hannakah), Blessed Be, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays ... Namaste from Suzy

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Rescue Time ...

The reminder of the rescue squad standing guard
Early this morning I went out to my front yard jungle to trim back one of my wisteria which was invading one of the frangipanni's personal space.

Because I have a lot of native flowering trees, I get a lot of bird visitors coming to feed and this morning was no exception.

While outside a young Rainbow Lorikeet fell out of one of the trees ... Spotty raced for it, I raced for it, the bird tried to hop away from us both. I grabbed Mr Spot and almost threw him back inside the house then went back to trying to capture the bird.  

He or she had wedged itself behind one of the pot plants and it quite obviously was having difficulties.

The baby set up to loudest squawks and soon every bloody Lorikeet in the area arrived. I thought I was going to be attack by a cloud of noisy rainbow death, there were at least 50 birds in the trees on my property all demanding loudly I release the youngster.

I managed grabbed it amid an earful of squawks and screams of the enlarging bird crowd and somehow able to put it up in one of the trees....(if you've ever heard Rainbow Lorikeets you'll know how deafening they can be). 

One of the adults watching me carefully

Unfortunately the baby didn't take too kindly from my rescuing it from the 'jaws of death' (Spotty's) or being on the ground ... it kept biting my finger - hard!

Still I put it back into one of the trees, not knowing if it would survive. It was fully feathered but it was in shock after being chased by a fat cat and a large human, then grabbed. It was breathing very fast and wasn't attempting to fly or stretch out its wings.

Anyway, it was in a tree and my finger was full of bleeding puncture holes, swelling, red and getting darker by the minute - oh and bloody painful!!
Baby preening

Fifteen minutes later and it was now thankfully quiet and there were only four birds hanging around instead of the 50 or so that arrived 'en masse'. Still the baby didn't look very good and I had the feeling it may die from shock.

I locked the cats inside and after cleaning my wounds and covering them in antiseptic I made a cup of tea and sat down. 

An hour later I went back outside to see where the youngster was. Unfortunately he was back on the ground but there were a few adult birds nearby so I figured it best to leave him and went back inside.

Three hours later - RELIEF. The baby bird was now perched high up in one of my trees preening itself, a couple of other birds are nearby. 

The cats are now allowed outside until tonight when they get locked up for bed.

All is now right in my corner of the world..... :)          .....(except for a sore

UPDATE: I ended up going to the Docs on Sunday, my finger was three times it size. Strangely where the bites are is okay - not red or sore but the lower knuckle joint was bright red.
Despite me practically soaking my finger in disinfectant Saturday I'm now on antibiotics and antibiotic cream to rub into the joint.

Sadly baby bird didn't make it either... found it this morning so my rescue effort was all for naught  :(

Monday, 5 December 2016

Researching and Writing ....

Been doing some more research on my family tree. As I've previously posted I submitted a DNA sample via Ancestry, since then I put the rawDNA file on GEDmatch and discovered a couple of cousins!

Through them I've been able to go a little further on my tree. Still a long way to go and there are a lot of EOL (end of line) where I just can't find any information.

Still I was able to go back on my paternal line - manage to go back to my 12th Great Grandparents. They were John McLain (b.1570) but can't find out who the wife was and Robert Thirkland who was married to an Elizabeth.

It's so exciting to be able to get back that far!

The McLains were a sept of the clan MacDonald of Glencoe and this is their tartan.

Sadly on my mother's line I have run into a number of EOLs so doubt I will be able to get much further along - although maybe my DNA will match me up with some more cousins down the line.

Apart from the researching I've started a new book - another one in the vampire hunter series. Got 60k words down but then in the middle of the night I had idea for another book so this morning I quickly got down the opening chapter before I forgot it.

So 4000 words written on that! It will become book 5 in my Dark Desires series.

Funny how you can have such great ideas in the middle of the night. I've taken to having a pad and pencil on my little beside table to scribble things down. Mind you trying to make sense of scrawl written in the middle of the night without a light on is down right impossible but what it does is stir up my memory. I find I can then remember what it was easily despite being unable to read what I'd written.

As you can see it's hard to make much sense out of this but I did ... lol.

On that note I'll finish this post to go write a little more or dig a little deeper in hopes of unearthing a few family ancestor skeletons...

... that is if I can get Cali off the keyboard demanding pats .... lol

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Climate Change - What Difference Do I Make? ...

The other day I watched Leonardo DiCaprio's documentary with National Geographic on Climate Change. I urge you to take the time to watch it. It was a pretty in-your-face doco although it probably didn't go far enough, still it is worth watching to to see the scale of things.

 The loss of rain forests to make way for palm oil plantations, the mining of oil sands in Canada, the ignorance of some politicians around the world who deny there is any change. 

The loss and early melting of the Greenland ice sheet (in 2016 the giant ice sheets were melting at least a month earlier than typical during the three decades). The increase in damaging cyclones, monsoons, hurricanes. The island nations that are underwater.

I know there are a lot of idiots out there who don't believe it's happening. For me, whatever the reason, I know it is. One only has to look at your neighbourhood - the crazy weather, the plants flowering way too early - to know that something is happening.

Whether it's from our own fault or just the natural cycle of things I wonder if we've passed the tipping point. It worries me what sort of world my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will inherit. Will governments around the world wake up in time and do something?

I try to do as much as I can in my own small way. I have solar electricity, solar hot water. I recycle all the time, I re-use as much as I can, reduce waste. I use my own shopping bags, if I buy a coffee or tea while I'm out I have my own take-away cup (I always keep at least one in the car). I don't buy bottled water - I fill a reusable bottle from the tap and keep that in the fridge - if you're worried about 'things' in the tap water, you can easily filter it.

I have planted a number of trees on my property to help reduce my carbon footprint. I rarely eat meat - maybe once every few months if that. I throw on a sweater in winter before I use heating. I'm lucky if I do 4000km a year in my car.

Simple things like turning off chargers, electrical equipment when not in use rather than leaving them on standby; 5 minute showers; taking your own bags to the supermarket, eating less meat, are all simple easily achievable things and if we all did them it would add up.

A few years back I joined 1 Million Woman - with other like-minded women and girls to do whatever we can in our own lives to act on climate change by making these small changes in our everyday lives.

You're probably thinking it's all very well to do things on a personal level, why should I and if governments aren't doing anything to help what good we our meagre effort do?

Well maybe not a lot but at least we tried. If I came back in 100 years and spoke with my great-grandkids I could at least say I did try.

I remember  discussing the issue with someone a number of years ago and his reply was 'that he'd be dead in 50 years so why bother?' He felt anything he did wouldn't impact so what was the use? He said it was the natural cycle of things and you couldn't change it.

Well yes it may be the natural cycle but we have sped it up. I couldn't live with my conscience if I didn't at least make some attempt to help.

Okay I've tried not to rant and get on my soapbox - this means a lot to me ... lol. Let's all work together to help Planet Earth - at the moment she's all we have. She'll survive even when we don't but I'd like to think my descendants will be around in at least a few hundred years and are not treading water or building arks in their backyards. I hope they can look back and say 'well the people of the world saw the problem and did what they could and we are thankful.'

To finish here are a couple of videos that push the point home.

For more information about this study visit Berkeley Earth video representation of the land surface temperature anomaly, 1800 to the present.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Nan Tien Temple ...

So I took a drive down to the Nan Tien Buddhist Temple at Berkley in the Wollongong area. Trying to get those K's up on my new car. I often go there, it's always so relaxing and I love it.

Everything was so green. The grounds are beautiful and so clean. I spent a few hours either walking or inside the massive prayer hall of the 5 Buddhas with 10,000 smaller Buddha statues.

Inside the main temple I spent fifteen minutes praying - or rather chanting my mantra and meditating. I use Mali beads to keep track of my chanting.

After I walked down to the smaller prayer hall of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva  (Kuan Yin in Chinese) to think on the Dharma and the Four Truths and meditate more. It's impossible to feel anything but calm and relaxed after being at Nan Tien.

Around 12:30 I was feeling thirsty so went down to the little tea house they have on the grounds rather than the main restaurant which was rather busy.

Ordered some delicious Curry Puffs and a pot of Mountain Blend Tea - both were delicious. I love when you order Chinese teas they come in a small black teapot and the cup is a tiny matching one. They are similar to these but the cup was much, much smaller and more squared.

 Once I finished I went back to where I'd parked my car near the pagoda and went inside to burn incense and go through with my Mali beads again.

If you are ever driving around Wollongong area and have some time to spare take a detour and enjoy the temple - you won't be disappointed.

It is a lift if climbing stairs are hard fully and it is also accessible to wheelchairs.

Around December to February the Lotus Pond is in bloom, unfortunately I was too early to see any flowers but I have been there during the season and it is spectacular.

I took lots of photos that visit of the lovely blooms and fed the greedy fish.

The pond is huge and as well as being filled with lotus plants it is home to hundreds of Koi.

You can stay on the grounds - I've been to meditation retreats there. They also have classes/talks on Buddhism, the Four Truths, Five Precepts, Triple Gem, etc.

On the way home I went the long way via Picton so managed to clock up a few extra kilometres - now have 630 on the clock ... lol. Next week I intend to drive up to Katoomba and that should add another 160.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Bloody Idiot and Birds ...

Was going to take a trip down to Nan Tien through the week to get some kms up on my new car. It's booked in for its 1000km service on the 17th and as I'm lucky to do 4000km a year I figured I better get out and drive.

Anyway I saw that the weather report for Tuesday was warning of dangerous surf conditions so decided to go to the Central Coast instead. I've been wanting to get some dramatic photos of waves crashing on rocks and strong surf. Unfortunately everyone and his dog had the same plan. After driving to beach after beach and not being able to park anywhere I finally managed to get a spot at Shelley Beach.

Got some photos for reference but none that I really liked. Would have preferred to get closer to somewhere with lots of rocks. Still I was absolutely gob-smacked by some of the idiots in the water. Lots of swimmers being sensible and staying between the flags and a lot of people on boards doing the right thing. 

BUT ...

There was this idiot!

He was swimming in between a few large rocky outcrops that was like a washing machine being agitated madly.

In the first photo you can see him right on the edge of an outcrop. The waves were pounding in one after another in quick succession.

If you look very closely at the 2nd pic you'll see a tiny dot where his head is on the left hand side. I have no idea if he managed to get out of the surf unscathed but he was certainly tempting fate.

Anyway next week I'll try for Nan Tien and maybe a run up to Katoomba.

I've been feeding a family of Magpies lately. The parents made the baby (who is as big as them but still without his glossy plumage) stay up in the trees while they fed but over the past couple of days Mum and baby have been feeding on the ground. Dad has disappeared.

Mum calls each morning around nine to let me know it's time for her and the baby eat. Once they've finished they burst into a loud chorus for about 5 minutes ... I like to think they are serenading me and saying thank

Anyway this morning there was an interloper.

A huge Australian Raven (Crow) arrive just as I feed the two Maggies. The baby quickly took to the trees but Mum stared down the interloper. Unfortunately it didn't work, he got stuck into the food then took off only to return a few minutes later with another Raven.

Once they left Mum checked out the bowl only to discovered they'd eaten everything. She stared into the bowl for about a minute then gave me a look that said 'they ate it all' so I filled it up again and she was happy.

A few minutes later the loud brigade started to arrive.

Within ten minutes my callistemon Bottlebrush trees, the melaleuca (Paperbark) tree and the big grevillea tree (Moonlight) were filled with the noisy chatter of Rainbow Lorrikeets. There were around thirty of them all 'talking' at once. I love the colours on these cheeky fellows.

From the back they blend in with the greens of the leaves then they turn or spread their wings and show off their amazing colours!

First thing in the morning, at sunrise, a group arrive.

Between them, the Magpies, a couple of Koels and some Noisy Miners it's impossible to sleep in.

The 'Dawn Chorus' ensures you're awake ... lol. Occasionally a Kookaburra will join them just in case I had an idea to sleep in past 6 o'clock. Then a flock of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos usually fly over from their night's roosting around 6.30am. They make their presence known by screeching loudly as they fly past.

I love it!!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Exciting News pt 2...

What's my exciting news?

I just bought myself a new car!!!

Used some of my book royalties and spoilt myself with a sexy hot little number.

I bought a Holden Trax Active - it's got an electric sunroof, roof racks, rear view camera plus all the knobs and whistles inside.

I'm now driving around in a bright Blaze Red one and naturally I bought a manual. The only time in the past 40 years that I've driven an auto was when mine was getting it's new roof and I hated every second of it. I mean it was nice to drive but ...

I love my RAV4 - it was a fabulous car. So easy to drive but it was getting old. I bought it new in 2004 and it only had 56,500ks on the clock but the value had gone way down.

It seemed like this was the right time to buy something new and get something tangible with my book royalties.

So I picked it up today and drove over to show my DIL (it's her birthday today so wanted to say HB too).

Very easy to drive - different from the RAV but just as easy. Same size as the RAV so I haven't lost any 'space' by changing cars.

Couldn't put it in reverse at first - then discovered you have to push a button on the stick. Kind of like the old beetles (my first car was a 1953 bug) that you had to push down to select reverse...DOH!

Played with all the gizmos - had the sunroof open as I drove along. Plenty of room inside. My DIL is 6'4 and she found the front passenger seat very roomy and comfortable.

Have to say it looks great in my driveway .... haha.

Now I'll have to get busy and write some more books ....

Monday, 17 October 2016

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Best Seller Lists ...

As you know I recently had a new book released.

I was excited to find I'd kept my winning streak of having every book I've released hit the top 10 of my publisher's Best Selling list.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined I'd be rubbing shoulders with some of their best writers - exclusive writers that make between 125k to 1/4 mill each year (plus a couple over that figure). Yet there I was, and am, it made me realise - hell I am an author and must be a fairly good one if readers keep buying my books .... lol

Anyway I logged on the other day and discovered this - I'd made 3 of their lists for Book, Author and Series!

Tymber Dalton is one of their top exclusive authors and there I am - #4 against 3 of her books!

Last year the owner of the publishing house rang me and offered me a contract to be an exclusive writer. I was over the moon and she gave me a week to consider the offer and go over the contract.

I was sorely tempted but at my age I didn't want to commit to writing a specific number of books in one genre each year for the next 5 years so in the end I declined. I think if I'd been in my 40s I would have jumped at the chance but late 60s ... nah.

Anyway money isn't all that important to me - as long as I have enough to pay my bills and keep me supplied in art gear I'm very happy. I've never been someone who likes to see the money roll in, I'm not really materialistic - there are too many things that are far better than money and are free.

I suppose some people can't understand why I'd knock back a guaranteed 125k a year (and that was the minimum starting figure). Some of you reading this would say I'm completely nuts but like I said I'm happy as I am.  I can write when I feel like it without the pressure of knowing I have to.

In the end I've decided to bring out one book a year. I honestly appreciate the wonderful offer, not just because of the money side but because of what it represented - it meant the publishing house considered I would be a valuable asset to them, that I am an author whose books are easily marketable. It means they think I'm good and that means a hell of a lot.

Anyway now I've finished blowing my own trumpet I'll shut up ... everyone deserves to get on the self-promotional bandwaggon every now and again.... lol