Tuesday, 6 October 2020

A day trip to Darlington Park

In July, our Coronavirus restrictions were eased, so we decided to go for a much needed day trip. We went out country to one of our favourite spots - Darlington Park.



It was in the middle of our winter and, while it was sunny, 
there was a chilliness in the air. Below - Aaron taking photos with 
his miniature poodle, Scarlett, by his side.

I'm a sucker for trees. 

We've visited this site quite a few times but, this time around, 
the birds took a real liking to us....
or maybe it was the food we had with us. LOL 

Not to be confused with the Indian Myna bird, 
the birds below are Australian Noisy Miner birds 
and, they had no qualms getting close to us. 

This one was right beside my legs. 
They are obviously used to being spoiled by campers.

We even had some Magpies and a Blue-faced Honeyeater show up for a feast. 


This Honeyeater was cheeky enough to demand some coffee... 

...while a Kookaburra watched on from a nearby tree 

I was surprised to find some cherry tomatoes growing by the river bank. 
I guess campers threw away tomatoes or seeds at some point and they grew.

Tomato shrubs are definitely not the norm in our rugged Aussie bush 

We had such a lovely day out and it was sad to leave and head home. 
Maybe we will make it back out that way one day soon.

And there ends my post for today. 
I hope you all stay safe and well. 

Love, Light and Peace to you.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

An update and my latest painting

Happy October everyone! 

Can you believe we are in the final stretch of 2020?! What a crazy year it has been so far with this pandemic looming over us. 

UPDATE on my brother - Thanks so much for the caring words regarding my brother's horrific ordeal at sea. He has been released from hospital now but will continue to see his doctor for blood tests and such until he is fully recovered. Billy's Creatine Kinase levels are continuing to drop. His leg swelled up quite badly from a large hematoma which they will keep an eye on. He is resting and very glad to be home. Charlie, his wife's brother-in-law, is also out of hospital and checking in with his regular doctor for follow-ups. 

I'm just so very relieved it wasn't worse and that my brother and Charlie are both alive to tell the tale. 

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I have another painted piece to show you. Meet Chico. You have probably seen Chico featured on my blog in the past. He was called Phoenix for a while. 

Here is the framed finished piece (sorry for the glass glare - can't be helped)

And some of the progress pics. 
I usually start with the eye

Laying in more feathers

And more feathers, 
I work in layers so more layers will follow

Layering and building up the feathers for more depth

Starting on the head features

And pretty much finished. 
Acrylic Gouache on 360gsm paper for acrylic paints - 5"x7"

Framed together

Next up on my desk easel will be a miniature poodle.

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It feels so good to be back blogging again. I thought you might like to see some gorgeous sunrises I've taken over the past few months from the front yard. I'm a sucker for skies!

One morning in June - 6:30am

One morning in July - 6am

One morning in August - 6:30am

One morning in September - 5:30am.
Red sky in the morning, 
A sailor's warning.

We are officially in Spring although our hot, summer-like weather is not far away. Here in Queensland, it's more like two months of reasonably cold mornings and evenings which we call winter, and the rest of the year it goes from hot — to hotter — to downright unbearable! We are now in our 14th year here and finally got around to asking our landlord for air-con. He very kindly obliged so those dreadful hot and humid days will be more bearable now. 

Our lounge-room air-con above the painting. YAY! 

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Recently, my soft hyacinth woven laundry basket started breaking away near the base so I bought a new basket. I sat the old one beside the dining table and Kya loves it! She sleeps for ages in it and likes to shred it too. 


I think Kya may well be a frequent model for my blog. She is so photogenic! I will do a follow up post soon on Kya's story to let you know how we ended up with her officially. For now, I wish you a happy week. Stay safe and well. 

Monday, 28 September 2020

Ordeal at sea

On Sunday afternoon/evening, September 20th, my younger 60 year old brother Billy was fighting a battle for his life. 


Billy was with his wife's brother-in-law, Charlie, and they were heading back to shore crossing over one of Australia's most dangerous bars. They were 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) from land — in rough seas. The boat was large enough where it wasn't legally required to wear lifejackets but, in hindsight, they sure wish they had been wearing them. Billy is an experienced boatie but, everything happened so fast, they didn't have time to grab the lifejackets or manually activate the emergency beacon. 

They were riding the top of a swell when it seemed to suddenly drop out from under them. This sent the boat precariously downwards under a huge cresting wave. The boat rolled and they were both thrown out into rough seas. The boat righted itself after the roll so the emergency beacon didn't automatically activate either. They couldn't get to the boat because the waves were immense and kept forcing them back. Their only chance of survival was to swim for shore. 

It took them about 30 minutes to get past the huge, crashing waves to what was still very rough sea though the waves weren't quite as high. It was getting dark and there were still miles ahead until they reached calmer waters. They knew their wives would alert the authorities when they didn't return at the designated time of 6pm for dinner but that was hours away. Darkness started to set in as they headed towards the lights on land. 

The next four hours were a battle to survive in a well known region for sharks — Charlie trying to stay afloat on his back with water constantly rolling over his face and then paddling slowly to conserve energy. Billy side-paddling so he could keep a check on Charlie and offering lots of encouragement to keep going. 

They thought they were done for but determination won out.

Four gruelling hours later, Charlie heard my brother's excited voice yelling, "Charlie! I can touch the bottom!". After being in the water for so long, working their muscles, it was even harder on their bodies trying to walk out of the water. They hugged each other finding it hard to believe they had actually made it. The first camp they stumbled into was a group of 18 year old boys who quickly gave them assistance — seats by the campfire, water, towels, and also called for the ambulance.

My brother's phone was at the bottom of the sea but the young men gave them mobile phones to call their wives who were frantic. Their wives had notified the authorities and 'search and rescue' were getting ready to go look for them. Thankfully, they rescued themselves so no need.

They weren't out of the woods yet though. Both were taken to hospital. Charlie's kidneys had taken a beating from trying to filter all the sea water he'd swallowed. On top of that, his Creatine Kinase levels were through the roof. A normal healthy male would read between 30 and 200 — his levels were 42,000! Creatine Kinase is an enzyme that the muscles release when suffering extreme stress or injury. CK can actually cause permanent damage to the kidneys usually ten days after the injury that caused it to release. Billy's levels were much better on the initial checks so he was allowed home the next day. He had a huge lump on his shin from where the boat hit him as well as bad bruising all around his torso. Both men were very sore all over after their ordeal.

Billy's CK levels started to rise again a couple of days ago so he was taken back into hospital and put on a drip to flush the kidney. My brother has only one kidney after having one removed due to cancer some years back so it's crucial that his only kidney remains healthy. His injured leg is now swelling up too so an ultrasound will be needed.

Charlie feels that if anything else had gone wrong during their ordeal, he wouldn't be here. He hails my brother as a hero for keeping him focused and encouraging him constantly with, "you're good, you can make it, just keep going, head toward the blue light, head for Inskip". My brother admitted to me that he nearly gave up the fight three times during the ordeal but Charlie kept him going so, in my view, they are both heroes. They are so very lucky!  
 
The boat was found and towed back by a trawler the next morning with everything still on board and the GPS still running. I don't like to think about how much worse it could have been for them. My brother and Charlie are alive and I am so grateful for that.

I will be more relieved when they are both fully recovered. 

Me with Billy at our Mum's 80th birthday celebration in 2015


Stay safe and well, everyone!

Monday, 21 September 2020

Coooooo-eeeeee! I'm back!

Hi everyone!

So I'm finally back after months away from Blogland. It wasn't intentional. I don't really know why except I just lost the urge to blog or post in my Social Media platforms. I don't like Facebook so I rarely post there anyways. The state of the world and this pandemic weighed heavily on my mind.  While Australia has done reasonably well in the face of Covid19, there have been far too many losses around the world. It's heart-wrenching!  

I do need to get back into the swing of things though so here I am — finally! 

I've done a little sketching here and there but nothing worth posting.  I also managed a couple of acrylic pet portraits on paper during my absence. Aaron, my son, wants portraits of all his pets so I still have 2 more to do.

Meet Arlo, Aaron's Sun Conure
Sorry about the glare on the glass; couldn't be helped.

A few of the stages in his progress below







Arlo was painted with Acrylic Gouache on 360 gsm Acrylic art paper. 

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Speaking of birds, the neighbourhood plovers have babies! There were 4 but sadly, there are only 3 now. Plover parents tend to inadvertently put their babies in harms way which is why their babies often don't survive. Out of four babies, they would be lucky if one makes it. The parents usually sit on the footpath beside the road and their babies go out onto the road and hang about there. Yesterday, I had to slow down two passing cars and warn them of the baby plovers on the road ahead of them. Thankfully, they slowed right down and the babies eventually moved onto the footpath beside their parents. 

The thing is that, when the plover parents see a car, they call out loudly telling their babies to hide —  and hide they do — by staying put and curling themselves up into a ball of fluff — in the middle of the road! And that seems to satisfy the parents. Thank goodness, those little baby fluff-balls didn't become flattened pancakes yesterday. I have been quite a worrywart over them whenever they are in our street. 

Not the best photo quality as it's taken from some distance away through a dusty window. Do you see the baby? Another one is nestled under the parent's tummy. You may notice the extra pair of legs if you look close enough. They were in our back yard. 

Again, not a clear pic, but this is one of the babies. It's covered in those sticky grass seeds. 

Then Miss Kya suddenly spots them and says, 
"What the heck is that?!!!"

Then settles herself on the windowsill for a closer look and some CatTV.

I'm so glad Kya is 100% indoors now otherwise I'd be a nervous wreck.

So that's it for today. I will fill you in over the coming weeks on things I did in my absence from blogging. 

Thanks to everyone who messaged and commented asking how I was. It's nice to know I was missed. I hope you all stay safe in these times of uncertainty.

On a side-note - It looks like Blogger is forcing us to use the new format. They took away the option to go back to the previous format. Not happy about that but it's a free service so I can't complain really. I'm grateful for this free blog. That said, I did try this new format a while ago and didn't like it because it was so sluggish and it took forever to upload photos. Hopefully, they've improved on it since then.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

I hope you are staying safe and well in these uncertain times of the Coronavirus pandemic. We have been lucky in Australia to have had low statistics, so much so, that restrictions are being eased gradually. For now, our Queensland border will remain closed between other States and, while some people aren't happy about that, I am grateful that Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, is keeping us as safe as possible. We can't be too complacent too soon. I'm not sure that life will ever return to the pre-Coronavirus norm. Time will tell but it has certainly been a big wake up call.

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Now, onto some book reviews 

I have not long finished a book series written by Victoria Twead. Six books in total but there are rumours that there could be more to come. This series is basically a memoir of the experiences shared by husband and wife, Vicky and Joe, after making the decision to move from England to Spain.



Book 1 - Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools 
Vicky and Joe leave the dismal wet English weather behind to relocate to sunny Spain under the agreement that it would be on a five year plan. They would then decide whether to make Spain their home permanently. They buy a house in a small mountain village where they are in for a big culture shock.  From renovating a house that is almost falling apart, to raising chickens, to owning one very territorial cockerel, to caring for a feral cat or two or three, to learning village customs and enjoying the local celebrations, not to mention being rescued by a mule at one point. There is never a dull moment, that's for sure.


Book 2 - Two Old Fools - Olé! 
Vicky and Joe have finished renovating their home to their satisfaction so they can finally relax and enjoy their retirement in the small Spanish town of El Hoyo — that is until the Ufarte family move into their quiet street and life is anything but peaceful. 


Book 3 - Two Old Fools on a Camel 
After Joe divulges that he would like to leave Spain to work as a teacher abroad, Vicky reluctantly joins him and is offered a teaching position too. So, they both head to Bahrain to teach at an American school for a year. Little do they know that the Arab revolution of 2011 is about to erupt and Bahrain will be in caught up in the turmoil. They have to deal with some pretty big struggles on the teaching side of things too but they do form some meaningful friendships while there.



Book 4 - Two Old Fools in Spain Again
Vicky and Joe return to El Hoyo after a very trying year in Bahrain. They soon settle back into their life in Spain but, again, life takes a crazy turn when a millionaire moves into the village and a dispute over land ownership presents itself causing division throughout the village. Families, relationships, and long-term friendships are at risk. Can Vicky and Joe help?



Book 5 - Two Old Fools in Turmoil
Life has been lovely and peaceful in their little Spanish haven but Vicky and Joe must make some life-changing choices as Joe's health starts to decline. A new postal mistress arrives in the village and love could be in the air between her and the town bachelor. However, femme fatale, Lola Ufarte returns to the village and could put a spanner in the works. What will be in the future for Vicky and Joe with Joe's condition needing medical attention?



Book 6 - Two Old Fools Down Under 
Vicky and Joe leave Spain for good to move to Australia where their daughter lives. However, Joe first goes back to England temporarily to have his health issues treated, Vicky goes on ahead to find a suitable house. Vicky loves the Australian lifestyle although spiders and snakes may take some getting used to. She throws herself into renovating their new home and also buys a puppy who she names Lola. Joe joins her later but his health is a continuing issue...

SUMMARY - I just loved this series! If you enjoy memoirs like I do, you may like them too. I enjoy living life vicariously through other people's adventures. As a bonus, Vicky includes a recipe from the region with each new chapter. Vicky's writing style is easy to read, enjoyable, and with a fun sense of humour. I would definitely recommend her books.

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On another note, I'm happy to report that I have been getting some sketching and painting done so stay tuned for more in coming days.

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...