Wednesday, 4 March 2020

A day trip to Darlington Park

Yesterday, we took off to Darlington Park for a picnic. It is located out past Beaudesert so about an hours drive away. It was a beautiful day! SO relaxing to picnic at the edge of the Albert River while listening to birdsong and and the sound of water rushing through the river rocks. It turned out to be quite a hot day so we picked a nice spot shaded by a tree and the umbrella helped too.

Spotted a White-faced Heron looking for food

And some wood ducks enjoyed the park too

WOW! Just look at all those tadpoles!

Aaron's car gives perspective on how large this particular tree was

You can see where this tree's roots are now exposed due to the soil has been washed away when the river rises during heavy rain periods

And I even managed a quick ink sketch

It was so relaxing that we all felt like a nap when we got back home. Instead, we watched the movie, Signs, starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix.

Until next time...

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

My first book review post for 2020 -

First up is The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

In 1974, Ernt Allbright, a Vietnam vet who has been emotionally scarred by the war uproots his wife, Cora, and 13 year old daughter, Leni, to start a new life in Alaska. They are totally unprepared for the Alaskan wilderness but the tight knit community pulls together to welcome them and teach them the ropes. However, help can only go so far as the long, hard winters bring out the worst in Ernt. He is an alcoholic, a wife-beater, and doesn't like accepting help. When winter comes, it means Leni and Cora spend a lot of time trapped inside a small house with Ernt's increasingly unstable and explosive moods. 

My thoughts - I love the way Kristin Hannah tells a story and this one was no exception.  Full of interest and drama. It can be hard to read in areas and you can't help but pray that faith and hope will bring about a happy that even possible with someone like Ernt in control?  I can't say too much without giving away spoilers but I will say it was well worth the read. I gave it 5 stars.


Next up - How to Bee by Bren MacDibble

This story is set in a time when bees are extinct and their important role must be filled by young children who vie for the respected position of being a bee.  Peony lives with her sister and grandfather on the Goulburn Valley fruit farm where she dreams of being a 'bee'. She is fast but a little too young. The only way becoming a bee could happen for Peony would be for a bee-child to fall and injure themselves. Peony loves her family, the farm, and the community she is a part of. One day, her mother shows up and wants take Peony to work in the city with her — definitely not what Peony wants. Will her mother get her way?

My thoughts - Let me start by saying that this book is actually meant for a younger audience but I loved it! An easy read that definitely touches the heartstrings. I loved how Peony touched the lives and hearts of those around her. I gave it 5 stars.


Next up is Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey

This book is inspired by true events in the author's hometown in Minnesota.

In the 1980's, twelve year old Cassie McDowall seems to have a fairly normal life on a farm with her parents and older sister. However, her parents do hold some very strange. orgy-like parties. Cassie's father is an artist and an alcoholic whose secretive behaviour makes Cassie question a lot of things. She also has a crush on a really sweet boy in school. 

Then local boys start to go missing, one by one. They show up days later but they are no longer the same. Another boy goes missing but doesn't return. Cassie wants to investigate the disappearances on the quiet. Is she putting herself in mortal danger by doing so? Something is definitely amiss in her town. On top of that, Cassie has a fear of her drunken father coming up the stairs each night while her mother is at work. She dreads that, one night, he will actually come all the way to and through her bedroom door. Are her fears founded?

My thoughts - This book was downright creepy in areas. Her father's behaviour made my skin crawl. It was a compelling read although I felt it was a little drawn-out in areas. It does keep you guessing until the end. I gave this one 4 stars.


And that wraps up the reviews for this week.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

A day outing and some doodles

So! We had dreadful heat and drought conditions, then mega bushfires, then rain...LOTS of rain! I'm talking torrential rain causing flooding in areas. It feels like we've gone from one extreme to another in a very short time — talk about crazy weather Down-Under! I am relieved that the rain helped with the bushfires and also brought a drop in temperatures. Walking across my lawn now feels like walking on a sopping, wet sponge unlike weeks ago, when it felt like walking on dry, spiky straw instead. Extremes, I tell ya.

Anywhoo, before the rains came, Brad (son) and I went for a visit to Forest Lake. It was disheartening to see that they are still battling the toxic blue-green algae and it was sad to see wildlife numbers down.

This poor duck was surrounded by it

There were some bird groups on the rocks but there are usually many more

I loved seeing these small birds on the railings. Sparrows or swallows? 

Always great to see the Little Pied Cormorants. Sadly, we didn't see any of the black swan families which usually live there.

We did have a lovely time out all the same.

And we bought a yummy Zambrero's Vegan Burrito bowl each to take home for dinner. Double rice and beans for vegans — delicious! We love the extra heat from the jalapenos and Verde sauce.

A quick pen sketch of Kya lying on some butterflies, thankfully, not real ones. hehe More on the real Kya in a later post.

And some rough doodles of cartoon-like me...just for fun

And that wraps up this post for today. Hope to be more regular with posting from here on. I hope you enjoy the rest of your week.

Love, light and peace ~

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Dusting off the Cobwebs

Where to even begin this post? It certainly has been a while with my last post being back in October 2019.

I hope it's not too late to say HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

For Australia, it was a horrific end to 2019 and horrific start to 2020 with apocalyptic fires burning across the nation. Many were out of control forcing people to evacuate. Some people even ended up fleeing for their lives into the ocean to escape the mega fires. The sheer numbers of wildlife lost is staggering — it is well over a a billion which breaks my heart. 2,400 homes were levelled by the fires and that was just in New South Wales...the number will be a lot higher when all the other States are taken into account. This truly was an event like no other in Australia's history. Climate change is definitely having an impact. I do worry how the destroyed ecosystems will recover. So much of our precious and unique wildlife gone. It hurts my heart to even think about it. Tribute video below - For the direct link to YouTube, click HERE.

We were so grateful to all the International help offered, 157 firefighters and personnel were sent from New Zealand. We were also very grateful to the American firefighters who came to help but so deeply saddened that three of those brave souls lost their lives fighting our mega-fires. See their welcome arrival in the video below (after selecting play, click on the symbol in the bottom right corner to view in full screen). For the direct link to YouTube, click HERE. As of January 14th, 34 people have lost their lives to the fires, including Australian firefighters.


I can't stress enough how grateful we are for the selfless work of the firefighters and the emergency service crews who put themselves on the front line. They are true heroes! 

It was bittersweet New Year's celebrations for us with so much devastation happening around the country but we did manage to have a lovely evening at my sister's and brother-in-law's home. We brought in the New Year there, then Brad and I headed home around 2am and stayed up to greet the first dawn of 2020 as is a tradition of ours...a whole, new decade awaits!

The start of the first sunrise of 2020.  It wasn't very spectacular as we did have a smoke haze hanging over us from all the fires...not noticeable in the pic. And yes, the smoke haze did flare up my asthma so I wasn't feeling 100% through November and December.

I lost my mojo in 2019 as losing our two fur-kids really hit hard. When my emotions are hit, it effects my creative output. There were quite a few hardships in 2019 including a major surgery for me and a surgery for Bradley (son). About all I could do well was read my Kindle books and I'm happy to say I did achieve my Goodreads Reading Challenge of just over 80 books for 2019.

I do have creative plans for this year but won't state them here in case they fall to the wayside which seems to happen a lot for varying reasons.

I have been doing a little sketching though. Just some simple pen sketches to help me get back into the creative flow.

We've been having a heatwave which means sauna-like conditions without the luxury of air-con in this household. Thankfully, this week is set to be a little cooler with some rain on the forecast.

I'll leave you with a pic of frangipani flowers which were blooming on the tree in our back garden.

Love, light and peace to all ~

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

Thank you all so much for all the beautiful and caring comments on my last post, and for messsages sent privately, regarding the passing of our last little doggy, Jack. They were so appreciated. Cody and Jack will be forever in our hearts and it comforts me to think that they are together now.


I'm trying to get back into a routine so here I am with more Tuesday book reviews. I am currently at 62 books of my 80 book goal for the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I do love to read and I am a fairly fast reader, especially since getting my Kindle last year, so there's still hope I will meet the goal by the end of December.

On with the reviews - 

First up is - Have You Seen Luis Velez by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Raymond feels like he doesn't belong. He lives with his mother's new husband and step-siblings and sees his father and his new wife on weekends. His father's wife doesn't seem to like Raymond at all. His best friend has moved away and Raymond feels even more alone. He meets a 92 year old blind woman living in his building who seems persistent on asking anyone who passes if they have seen Luis Velez? Raymond also finds a stray cat that touches his heart and, worried about its safety, takes it to Mildred's apartment. Mildred, though reluctant at first, takes in the cat and a friendship starts to grow between her and Raymond.

It turns out that Luis Velez was Mildred's caretaker until he didn't show up one day leaving her to fend for herself. Raymond steps in to help her as he is concerned for Mildred and worries that she is giving up. So he sets himself a mission to track down Luis Velez.

My thoughts - I'm a big fan of Catherine Ryan Hyde's heartwarming stories. I shed quite a few tears throughout this book as Raymond crosses paths with lots of people in his quest to find Luis Velez. He and Millie become very close and their friendship helps him cope with his own feelings of not belonging. I gave this one a 5 star rating.


Next up - The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

At the start, this book takes us to France in 1939. Vianne bids farewell to her husband when he leaves for the front never believing that the Nazis would invade France. She is devastated to find out she was wrong, especially when an enemy officer takes up residence in her home. She has a young daughter and she also has friends who are Jews so, when the Nazis start rounding up Jews for the camps, the situation reaches crisis point.  Vianne makes some high risk decisions which could put them all in imminent danger.

Vianne's sister, Isabelle, is only 18 years old and lives with Vianne until she can no longer cope with an enemy living in the house. Her outspoken attitude could prove dangerous for them all. The sisters have a bit of a rocky relationship and criticise each other. Isabelle ends up moving away and working undercover for the Resistance. 

My thoughts - I LOVED this book! I LIVED in this book! Both sisters had to deal with some horrific circumstances. The relationship with Isabelle and her father was non-existent but further things come to light on that score as the book progresses. The author portrays the heroic natures of 'ordinary' people in times of crisis. I cried, no, I sobbed, on quite a few occasions so be forewarned to have those tissues handy. It scored a 5 star rating from me!


Lastly - Becky: The Heartbreaking Story of Becky Watts by Her Father Darren Galsworthy

In 2015, 16 year old Bristol schoolgirl, Becky Watts, was murdered and dismembered by her own stepbrother, Nathan Matthews. The crime shocked the nation and totally devastated her family. Darren, her father, writes this heartfelt and heart-wrenching account of Becky's life and the ultimate betrayal by a boy he had raised as his own. 

I had previously watched a crime video about Becky's murder on YouTube so, when this book showed up in my recommended reading list via Amazon Kindle, I bought it.  Understandably, Darren Galsworthy's world fell apart after learning of the unspeakable crime that stole his daughter from him. He was clearly a devoted and loving father.  Darren's book takes us back to the beginning, to before Becky was born.  He shares many fun and happy times that the family experienced together before it all came to a shocking end years later.

I felt heartbroken for Darren, his wife, Anjie (step mum to Becky), and for Becky's brother, Daniel. I gave this book 5 stars!  


On that sad note, I will wrap up the reviews for this week.
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