Amazing Awards!

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m sorting out the posting of awards which people have kindly given me – awards which I truly value because they demonstrate the kindness and friendliness of the world blogging community.  So here are my thanks:

To Irene who kindly awarded me the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award.

Irene creates beautiful jewellery and, on the odd post, beautiful words and she can be found at:

http://irenedesign2011.com

I know you’re supposed to nominate 14 people, but I’ve chosen to be creative in accepting awards and adapting them to what I can handle, otherwise I feel snowed under and don’t get anything done!

http://threelensesphotography.wordpress.com

http://photocory.com

http://indahs.com

http://dougdoeslife.com

http://healingminds.wordpress.com

I’d also like to thank Cher for nominating me for the Sunshine Award. I do already have that award but I don’t care, the more, the merrier, so I’ve added a second one!

Cher is an ex-pat Canadian living in Chicago and I love reading her posts because it’s interesting reading about Chicago and the US from the perspective of someone who wasn’t actually born in the US. When I first moved to Australia I was like a fish out of water because everyone spoke English but it was different to the UK. When I lived in the UK from 2002-4 after nearly 40 years in Australia, it was a reverse process: I’m Australian now and felt like a fish out of water in the UK.  I have found out lots of things I didn’t know about Chicago from Cher’s posts, not least the fact – which I still  goggle over – that the city has a river, a fact unknown to me as geography was my worst subject at school, and that it gets dyed green on St Patrick’s Day.  Imagine that: a green river – totally awesome.

I can’t remember what else I’m supposed to do but as it usually involves questions here are ten foodie facts about me:

1. I love coffee.  Nope, not quite right. I LOVE  coffee! I ADORE coffee!  I WORSHIP coffee!

2. I don’t like white bread, I feel bloated. If I have a burger (very rarely) I have the meat on its own with salad.

3. My favourite little cafe here in North Cyprus is in Famagusta. We found it by accident as it was near an ATM we were using to withdraw British pounds to pay for our first car. For the princely sum of US6.60, we got a plate lined with toasted flat bread on top of which was rice pilau, chips, salad and heaps of delicious shish. Accompanying that were plates of a chilli-tomato relish;humous dip;  labne, a thick yoghurt; more salad;and pickled chillies (which I avoid ever since I took a tiny bit of one and nearly blew my head off and burned out my throat). Sitting on the sidewalk in bright sunshine, relaxing after all the stress of moving from Australia to North Cyprus was one of the brilliant moments of my life.

4. I love curries in any shape or form.

5. I love prawns in any shape or size.

6. I miss the fresh mangoes you used to get over summer in Australia.

7. Likewise, I miss blueberries and the wonderful, think blueberry yoghurts I used to get in Australia.

8. Another lovely, simple meal I had was when I was living in Strasbourg, France. My boyfriend at the time and I went into a little bistro and had the local saucissons with the best chips I’ve ever tasted.

9. Another lovely, simple meal I enjoyed thoroughly was at a cafe in Perth, Western Australia, where I had a vegetable curry, a salad of young mung bean sprouts and chappatis. Fantastic.

10 I make a complete pig of myself with cheesecake.  Any sort of cheesecake but particularly blueberries or summer fruit!

11. And just as an afterthought, one of the best breakfasts I ever had was in a Thai village in the jungle near Chiang Mai in the north. We had slept in the village houses overnight and were offered sticky rice for breakfast which tasted heavenly.  I appreciated it even more because the people were extremely poor but so generous in their hospitality.  There was a down side, however: I got food poisoning from the village water and nearly died back in Chiang Mai. It didn’t, however, lessen the immense pleasure I got from meeting such wonderful Thai people.

So there you go – new info about me, hope it makes your tummy rumble and you gallop off to enjoy your favourite food!

Express yourself!

 

 

On the Razz

I am, sadly, not off on the razz but I shall be doing all sorts of bureaucratic work which I hate and which I have to do in one hit to get the horror of it all over and done with. So I shall be absent from this blog until Monday as I’m spending a few days setting up sales of my digital art – I’ve had a few prints framed in cream cardboard which not only looks good but is light for posting. So I’ll be working on posting photos and various other details on my blog, Facebook, eBay and Etsy. Keeps me out of mischief!

As well, I have a couple of awards to post for which, again, I’m not only grateful, I’m doing metaphorical cartwheels of delight because it feels like getting birthday prezzies!

So back on Monday, hasta la vista!

Live, Love, Laugh

Peacemaking

I created a pale violet canvas on PIcMonkey, then fiddled with the various gizmos until I got a canvas with deep red colours. Then I added a layer of orange gazanias, from a photo I took yesterday in our garden, switched over to BeFunky and finally got the first image: “Glee”. It reminded me of how bright and gleeful we feel when we blow bubbles and act like kids again.

The second image has some watery images added to “Glee” and I wasn’t too sure about this piece of digital art and what to call it.  I finally decided on: “Peacemaking” because I’d been reading a poem of the wonderful Maya Angelou who has just left our world, and felt I’d like to dedicate both pieces of art to letting differences go between us and feeling the joy and relief when we stop holding grudges and hatred and embrace all humanity as our next of kin.

Glee
Glee
Ripples
Cherish

 

A Brave And Startling Truth

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth
And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

***

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

~ Maya Angelou ~

Classy Clematis

When we lived in the UK, I was thrilled to find a very pretty clematis climbing over the garden shed in our backyard as we’d live in Australia in places too hot for these creepers.

. So when we moved to Victoria, which is usually (note “usually”) much cooler than Western Australia and Queensland, where we’d lived previously, I was delighted to plant a couple of clematis and see their lovely flowers emerging as they climbed up the trellis.

The image I played with today is a photograph I took of the clematis which produced huge, blue flowers. I loved that creeper. However, just as they were in full bloom, a severe heatwave hit Victoria and for most of one week the temperatures hovered between 42C and 47C, culminating in the Black Saturday bush fires when close to 200 people died. Sadly, our clematis creepers turned up their toes at this extreme weather and who can blame them?  It was horrendous.  Below is digital art from the photo I took of my lovely blue clematis before it got knocked off by the extreme heat.

Below that are photos of the bushfire which headed our way at 40mph. It did veer south due to a change of wind but in the process 11 people died in its path as the fire’s direction was not predicted.  In mid-afternoon the sun was obliterated and the sky turned to night as smoke and ash covered our town and all the surrounding area. We sat in the darkness – no electricity as power lines were downed by the bushfire – and listened to the emergency reports on the Australian Broadcasting Commission radio.  The efforts of the radio station’s staff to keep everyone updated on the path of the various bush fires were heroic.

Around 7.30 the sky started lightening up again and we got the first few drops of rain as the heatwave broke. The raindrops tasted like nectar! When we got up the next day, our floors, roof, car and garden were covered in a thick layer of ash – you can see some of it on the photo of our Subaru.

Classy Clematis
Classy Clematis
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Ash flying in our garden with darkness due to smoke and ash.
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Ash flying over garden – this was mid-afternoon.
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Ash on our car – it covered the whole house, floors & garden, No complaining – we got off very lightly compared to some.

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Of Birds & Beasties 2

Frog-a-go-go
Green Tree Frog – you find these all over Queensland and New South Wales. They hop around the verandahs of your house and climb up inside your toilet so it’s a heck of a shock when you go to the restroom and find a frog (or three) eyeballing you from the toilet bowl!
Horse in early morning mist 1
I got up early one morning when we first moved to New South Wales, it was misty and this stallion appeared in the mist as if he was posing for a selfie. It was a quite eerie, mysterious morning.
Horses at Ned's Bed dam
Two horses when we were staying at Ned’s Bed, the pet motel on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. They would always come up to the fence around our cabin to have a sticky-beak at us.
Ma 'Roo & Joey
A mother kangaroo & her joey at Ned’s Bed pet motel on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. The ‘roo family used to come out to grace in the early dawn and late dusk, but were very skittish.
Kangaroos at Boonah
A mob of fairly tame kangaroos on the outskirts of Boonah, S-E Queensland
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A spider I photographed at night on the outside of our window.
Praying Mantis
A well-camouflaged praying mantis, photographed at Boonah, on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, Australia
White-headed lizard 1
A White-Headed Lizard native to Cyprus
Brown Snake
Brown Snake – very common where we lived at Boonah, south-east Queensland. Venomous!
Carpet Python
Carpet Python – I once had an encounter with a 12-foot python which sounds dramatic but actually these snakes are harmless. They aren’t venomous and eat possums, insects and small mammals. Have one in your roof – as we did – and you won’t have a problem with possums or rats stomping around in the middle of the night.
Echidna
Echidna – we had one of these shy, weird-looking creatures on our block halfway up Mt French in Queensland. It puttered along, muttering to itself, curled into a ball when it picked up motion from us, then eventually uncurled and went on its merry way.
Huntsman Spider
Huntsman spider – Along with wolf spiders, these are shy and harmless and try to stay out of your way. They eat flies and mosquitoes and other insects, so we co-existed happily with these big spiders and never had any problems with them.
King Brown Snake
King Brown Snake – another venomous snake which was fairly common where we lived at Boonah, in south-east Queensland. Generally, snakes will get out of your way and keep to themselves. They will only get aggressive if they feel threatened.
Red-bellied Black Snake
Red-bellied Black Snake – these are venomous and we had one in our front garden in Boonah township. Our little Jack Russell was just going to attack it when my husband stopped her. Luckily, as snake bites are all too often fatal for all sorts of dogs – small, medium and large. Interestingly, cats can often go away and sleep off the venom and re-emerge quite healthy.
Taipan Snake
Taipan Snake – deadly venomous, aggressive, bite is often lethal. We had one in our front room which, luckily, only wanted to escape and took itself off. We only found out later it was a taipan and they were rife in our area – which is when we had our nervous breakdown!

Here I’ve included the various frogs, snakes and other odds

Wolf Spider - shy, non-aggressive - a sheep in wolf's clothing, so to speak. We encountered plenty of these and left them alone as they are harmless and keep down mosquitoes & flies.
Wolf Spider – shy, non-aggressive – a sheep in wolf’s clothing, so to speak. We encountered plenty of these and left them alone as they are harmless and keep down mosquitoes & flies.

and sods we’ve encountered in our various travels. All photos of snakes and spiders are not taken by me, by the way, for obvious reasons!

Warning: photos of snakes and spiders – if you don’t like these, don’t read on!

Of Birds & Beasties 1

As I was going through my photos to move all flower pics to the one folder, I realised how many photos I’ve taken of the various birds and beasties we’ve come across in our travels. So in this post I’ve included the birds and in the next one the beaties.

Willlie Wagtail - Back garden
Willie Wagtail – In Western Australian Aboriginal lore, the Willie Wagtail is a Spirit messenger. They wag their tail like the clappers and have a chirping song. They’re one of my favourite birds – first one I heard after we returned to Australia from the UK.
Australian Brush-Turkey
Australian Brush-Turkey. Protected species, lay their eggs in mounds. One of them chased me through the bush when I was walking on the top of Mt French, Queensland. Nasty looking brute, it was!
Cormorant at dam at Ned’s Bed, a pet motel where we stayed on the mid-north coast of New South Wales
Common eggfly butterfly
Common Eggfly Buttterfly – these are huge with velvety wings, and we used to get heaps when lived halfway up Mt French, in S-E Queensland.
Butcher Bird & Baby at Ned's Bed
Butcher Bird & Baby at Ned’s Bed. Butcher birds have the most beautiful, liquid song which varies along the east coast of Australia according to each family group.
Bryan & Kooka
This baby kookaburra landed beside my husband, had a good look and completely ignored him mum who was going bonkers with worry in a nearby tree.
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Two baby kookaburras in our garden at Woodenbong, on the Queensland-New South Wales border. The noise of the babies and parents was deafening until they grew up and flew off.
Galahs on front verge
Galahs – a type of parrot. Renowned as pranksters who love hanging upside down on telephone lines. Joke: to cook a galah boil for 24 hours with a stone. At the end throw away the galah and eat the stone!
White-bellied Sea-Eagle. you'd see quite a few of these over the Nambucca River close to the Indian Ocean. Huge, magnificent bird
Not my photo, but I added it because you’d see quite a few White-Bellied Sea-Eageles over the Nambucca River close to the Indian Ocean. Huge, magnificent birds.
King parrot - male
King Parrot – I didn’t take this photo, but we used to see heaps of King Parrots in our garden in Boonah, South-East Queensland. They were quite tame and you could get quite close.
Kooka on clothesline
Kookaburra on clothes line, Bowraville, mid-north coast of New South Wales
Magpie
Magpie – has a beautiful, carolling song.
Swallows in St Barnabas Church
Swallows in St Barnabas Church, near Famagusta, North Cyprus
Rainbow Lorikeet on grevillea 1
Rainbow lorikeet on grevillea bush in our garden at Bowraville, mid-north coast, New South Wales, Australia.
Pelican at Port Mcquarie, mid-NSW coast
Pelican on light stand, Port Macquarie, mid-north coast, New South Wales, Australia. Pelicans were rife along this stretch of coastline.
Pelican at Port Maquarie
Pelican on sea at Port Macquarie, mid-north coast of New South Wales, Australia.
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Tawny Frogmouth which we found trapped between ours and the neighbour’s fence. We released it, I gave it Reiki and my husband fed it some water, and by the next day it had perked up and flown away.
Turquoise-black butterfly on Bryan's hand
Turquoise-black butterfly on my husband’s finger
Wedge-tailed eagle
Wedge-tailed Eagle – we saw these marvellous, magnificent birds on the wheatbelt in Western Australia; in Woodenbong on Qld-NSW border; and at Bowraville on the mid-north coast of NSW, which really was Eagle Central.
Regent Bowerbird
Regent Bowerbird – I didn’t take this photo, but I did get a look at one of these birds as it flew away from our garden and the colours really are striking. Bowerbirds build a bower as a nest, then place brightly coloured trinkets in front (ribbon, clothes pegs, etc.,) to attract a female mate.

Equilibrium

Returning my computer this morning to get the sound fixed went right out the window as, overnight, our delightful dogs managed to chew up the internet cable, splitter box and adapter.  Luckily they had not chewed the power cable otherwise we’d have had fried dog!  We do have a brilliant internet provider and a technician was here within 30 minutes to do the repairs, albeit with a bit of muffled laughter when he found out the dogs had caused the mayhem.

On top of that, we are in the process of renewing our driving licences and, because our residency visas were in our Australian passports and not in our British passports which we’d used for our renewal application, we had to find the local village Muktar (headman) to give us what is known as a Muktar’s Letter which confirms our residency address.

So with all that under our belt, the computer return for further repairs went by the board. So I’ve been going through all my photos to move all those I’ve taken of flowers into my “Flowers” folder.  What is interesting to note is that in Bowraville in New South Wales, Australia, I started returning to my childhood’s deep connection with nature. I’ve been amazed at the number of photos of plants, flowers and scenery I took in our stay on the mid-north coast. And, of course, it’s intensified since I moved to North Cyprus. I almost wrote “returned” to North Cyprus, as this island feels so familiar and comfortable to me. One of life’s mysteries, eh?

Anyway, after this morning’s mayhem I decided to work with a photo I took of a Christmas Cactus flower which was in blossom when we first moved to the mid-north coast to look for a home and were staying with a friend.  I blurred the edges then worked with some of the gizmos on BeFunky and Pixlr, and the resulting image cheered me up no end after this morning’s chaotic start to the day.  It reminded me of how much beauty there is around us when we care to look and how such beauty can cheer us up and return us to equlibrium.

Equlibrium
Equlibrium