Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Twilight - between forest & sea

Come twilight, we made our way to the sea. The winter's light rapidly fleeing the older children stayed closer than usual, the over-sized puppy stayed by them. We made our way along the sand track between the mangroves and the edges of the sea. In the dark the dead trees, the sand flats, seemed of more importance than usual. I studied the shallow roots of the toppled, silvered trees, the ripples of the ducks amidst the reflections on the still water of the mangroves, the way the light held the children.
I carried our youngest - with the dark coming she was content to observe from closer to me and I savoured her warmth and her contemplative expression.
There were lights from the city, distant across the passage, but we seemed very separate, and stories begin to weave themselves.
I can't hear a voice yet, but the place is very strong. I'm thinking 1860s... just as this ancient land was being colonised and invaded. As a fantasy writer this is a very complicated time and Australia. I think is a complicated place to set a fantasy, (vampires? - adding vampires is easy... Sooki Stakehouse in 1860s Queensland would be fun) so I'll have to keep pulling at threads until something works out. It seems unethical to force a foreign mythology onto a known and invaded land - although Charles de Lint works with multiple mythologies and I'm partial to Patricia Briggs - but... it's complicated. Let me tease those threads some more.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


Giggle Bear - on the mangrove path. I love her expression and her pudgy, sandy hands. She hates to be carried now, and is determined to walk, but she can never quite keep up with her free ranging siblings.

Adventure Boy - Eating breakfast sitting on the table in morning light. I'm trying to go Iron Age for a week (writing research - this is not a diet I can imagine loosing weight on) - so my Beloved fried up a huge amount of bacon which the Adventure Boy heartily approved off. I love seeing that his rounded cheeks are still so childish.

The Extravaganza - with Wolfie on the beach. Wolfie is gradually, gradually calming down and learning that rounding up the kids doesn't win him any brownie points. (Although he's still firmly convinced he needs to keep a good eye on Adventure Boy, but then, so are the rest of us.) The Extravaganza remains... sparky... in the lead up to - gulp - her fifth birthday.

Joining with Jodi for a portrait of my little ones once a week, every week, in 2015. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

A World Full of Firsts (And Birds)

We took the long and winding road up and around and into the hinterlands, and then dared the steep, steep driveway down (me mostly with my eyes shut and clutching the seat) and reached the Maleny Botanical Gardens and Bird Park.

Sprawling down the hillside, looking across to breath-taking views of the Glasshouse mountains, gardens and ornamental lakes form a perfect playground for children to run, and it's easy to see why it's such a popular spot for weddings. But of course, the highlight was the petting area and the aviary.

It was the first time Giggle-Bear had ever seen an alpaca, or a goat, a sheep or a guinea fowl. She spent the whole time pointing furiously and then looking back at me for confirmation. "Eh! Eh! Eh! Mother have you seen this creature!"

By the time we went into the aviary, where birds swoop down in a spectacular fall of light and colour to land on your shoulder or head, she was almost too awed to take it all in.

I adore birds - my first world was duck, as we had pet ducks at the time, and at various times I've had chickens and ducks and an injured, free ranging (and very destructive cockatoo.) I am used to the cheeky intelligence of a parrot and, when the keepers told me their penchant for stealing jewellery I sighed in memory as well and laughed. Watching one particular parrot busily take the buttons off my Beloved's shirt also made me giggle.

This toddling, new-to-everything age is so much fun, and it's such an honour to witness and such a pleasure to seek new things out, to see the world afresh through  eyes just learning the shape of the world, and first learning of the vastness and diversity.

"Eh! Eh! Eh! Mother! Have you seen, it is amazing!" 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Between the Woods and Sea (Walk with a White Wolf)

As a child one of my favourite fairytales was called The White Wolf  (I think it was in either the Red or Orange Fairy Book by Lang), and now, with our own white wolf I love how romantic he looks. (I try to forget the way he drinks from the toilet bowl and steals any cheese or butter I'm foolish enough to leave on the bench-top.)

With the older kids at school and kindy, my Beloved and I took the two little ones on a favourite walk along the mangroves by the shore. Wolfie loved the freedom to run along the dog beach - he found a friendly Border Collie to play with - and Giggle-bear loved playing with the sticks and seeds she found.

I loved the liminality of it, the way it seemed like a place apart from everywhere else. It seemed so wild and so close to something magic. Walking it with my toddler who sees the world with new eyes and believes everything is interesting, and with Wolfie, who sniffs a world of scent and takes such delight in stretching his legs, made it seem like stepping within a fairytale.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Giggle-bear - with Wolfie. My babies tend to have their naps together. (Wolfie is still not yet six months old...)

The Extravaganza - telling me all about it. "Mummy, no more photos!" We're just about to (finally!) tile the kitchen splashback so everything on the kitchen bench has been carted over to the table.

Adventure Boy - looking over at the sunset on a twilight walk through the mangroves along the shore. You can just see the glimmer of white that is Wolfie in the distance.

Joining with Jodi for a portrait of my little ones once a week, every week, in 2015.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Stepping Back in Time (in which I am inspired to Geekdom) at the Abbey Medieval Festival

Of course my Extravaganza would run off with the gypsies in a heartbeat...

Last weekend we went to the Abbey Medieval Festival and I was inspired to new heights in geekdom. My beloved kinfolk will be suffering for some time to come. 

Wandering from place to place, open-mouthed at the beautiful, carefully researched, costumes, eavesdropping on conversations "of course I had the wool sent over from Northumbria and then spun it using..." witnessing viking war training, wolfhound not-so-training (the Extravaganza was ecstatic at getting to pat the dogs) I was entranced. I went green-faced with covetousness over sumptuous fur trimmed cloaks and beeswax candles, while the kids admired flower bands, wooden swords and cross bows. 

I was most taken with all the dioramas from the times - the tents set up 'in time', often with weaving, cooking or black-smithing displays. 

And it got me thinking... my next book-to-be worked-on is set partly in Iron Age Ireland, and in order to ensure my details are right I really should try some home-re-enactments. I've been looking online for my correct 'working costume' (I'm thinking a nettle dress over a pale pink - madder dye - linen tunic, although a blue-green tweedy overdress over a nettle tunic would also work..) and next week I'm putting my family on an Iron Age Diet... 

My sis-in-law asked me how an Iron Age diet differs from the paeleolithic diet to which I can happily answer - in all the best ways. Wheat, barley and oat were staples, while the heavily cattle-centric society ensured lashings of cream, butter, yoghurts  and cheese. The high dependence on smoking and salting for winter food (and the ease of smoking meats in the perpetually smoky houses) also means that bacon and eggs are a real possibility for breakfast. Of course... I'm going to have to replace all my sugar with honey... and I'm not quite sure how that's going to work. And so many fruits and veggies just weren't available, it's taking me an age to work out which ones we can have and which ones we can't... 

At least I can rest assured that salmon, hazelnuts and porridge are definitely on the agenda. (Meal one - ale stew, meal two - pear-cider roasted lamb...I am suspicioning a fair bit of meat and alcohol may be involved... ) 

Wolfhound training... reminded me of a certain puppy... This wolfhound was supposed to be on the other side of the rope, but decided he'd prefer to be in the audience... fortuitously right next to the Extravaganza...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

... be sure to wear some flowers in your hair (Happy Birthday, Mama!)

Just before the taxi came to steal my Mama & Papa away to the airport for their rather eventful* onward trip to East Timor, and after the sparklers had been lit and the cake eaten, I finally got out the flowers I'd gathered and we made celebratory birthday flower wreaths. Or garlands as we decided to call them after dad pointed out the funerary overtones of wreaths.

I was inspired by these gorgeous forest faery crowns over at She Who Rambles and thought joint celebrations for my Mama's July Birthday and my Extravaganza's August birthday was the perfect time to try them.

They did not turn out quite the way I imagined, but voila! photos of the be-flowered birthday girls (and Giggle Bear who kept running off with the garlands).

*My Papa got to the desk at Darwin airport for his flight to East Timor at three am, after waiting in the airport through the midnight hours since the flight from Brisbane, only to be told he only had four months left on his passport, not the required six, so he had to fly home to Melbourne. Poor Mama is in East Timor sans family for her birthday!