magnum opus

Most of you will already be aware that my husband is a talented musician, artist and author. I am proud to announce the publication of Michael’s magnum opus, Floor Thirteen.

Although it is a mere five months since the release of the short story compilation, Old Ned’s Secret, this latest tome has had a lengthy gestation from an initial idea conceived around seven years ago. The premise is one we would all be familiar with. How many times have we seen a news story involving an obviously guilty perpetrator walking away from their crime without punishment? I shan’t say any more but here is the copy from the back cover,

“What happens to ex-Special Forces personnel once they retire from careers addressing the failures of the justice system?

Raymond and Elizabeth do what is right for them. They marry, relocate to Tasmania and take on a commercial flower business — all the while striving to keep their past lives from everyone including, and especially, their children.

Fast forward thirty years when circumstances draw them back into the lives they’d left behind a generation ago. The challenge for Raymond and Elizabeth is adapting to the expectations of their earlier vocations, coupled with the greater angst of confessing to their now adult children.

Trixie and Joseph must overcome their incredulity and cooperate with their parents or risk a catastrophic mission failure.”

Floor Thirteen is available as paperback or Kindle through Amazon in your country or, for a signed copy, you can contact Michael through tigerdreaming.com.au.

merry mischief

I wasn’t sure if we would see the Elf again this Christmas, I had heard there were staff shortages in Santa’s workshop and it might be difficult for him to get away. Sure enough, there he was on 1st December waiting for Michael to make his early morning cuppa.

The next morning, he had hitched a ride in the Tibetan singing bowl but then got a bit carried away with his mischief and ended up caught in a booby trap.

He created his own friends in the fruit bowl and found a willing participant in Poppy’s hippo to share a dram or two.

A close shave with a razor was a reminder for me to hide sharp implements. I think he was missing Santa while keeping an eye on us.

I don’t know where he found the bubble gum but this could have ended badly.

Just when we thought he was too busy at the North Pole, he was found hiding in the cereal box munching on Weet-Bix. We forgot to warn him against playing with snakes.

We were both surprised by his artistic talent with his impressive (s)elf portrait.

Seeking companionship, he spied a mouse atop a picture frame. Sadly, conversation was limited and the next night he resorted to the booze once again.

I doubt Poppy’s breakfast was as tasty as he hoped, he decided to try his hand at music instead.

The crafty little fella brought stilts in an attempt to steal one of Poppy’s Schmakos.

A quiet game of solitaire made for a pleasant change. Even elves get caught short sometimes.

He couldn’t quite get the hang of the coffee machine and the peg basket proved equally as perplexing.

It’s the thought that counts and this gesture was much appreciated.

Fortunately, a Friendship Ball doesn’t do as much damage as a wrecking ball but I think that was his inspiration. We were starting to worry about his proclivity for alcohol

when he left us on Christmas Eve after bidding farewell to his festive friends.

Enchanted Walk

There are many wondrous walks to choose from in Cradle Mountain National Park but my favourite is Enchanted Walk. Just over one kilometre long, the circuit takes around twenty minutes, depending on how much time one spends admiring the scenery. The trail starts at Cradle Mountain Lodge and follows Pencil Pine Creek as it bubbles along, embraced by mossy banks and majestic trees of the rainforest. On this morning the sunlight danced on the water, highlighting natures artistry.

Tannins from surrounding buttongrass moorland created a startling palette of orange hues amidst the shadows.

As we meandered further into the forest, verdant lichens complemented the russet glow.

At the end of the walk, the creek tumbles over rocks at Pencil Pine Cascades on its way to Pencil Pine Falls and, eventually, on a convoluted journey into the Forth River and Bass Strait.

Sultans of Spring

At the end of yet another long, cold, very wet winter we had a promising start to spring. I transplanted some daffodil bulbs last year to the border in front of the studio, they added some early colour along with the camelias.

Sadly, apart from a few sporadic sunny days, the weather of the past two months has been nothing short of atrocious. Amazingly, there are many stoic soldiers that have battled on through the gloomy days, torrential rain and high winds. Nothing seems to deter the annual display of daffodils and a lone jonquil,

and a kaleidoscope of crocuses continue to pop up in unexpected places.

Florentina iris and Spanish bluebells braved the elements

and a surprise appearance from Lachenalia emerged from a young hydrangea shrub.

We have a few clumps of Clivea around the garden but they are often chomped by our nocturnal visitors.

The Magnolia tree is still recovering from years in the shade and will be helped by the impending removal of a few huge gum trees.

The rhododendron blooms in the same section of garden are stunning this year and have the most delicious scent, no wonder the bumble bees are happy.

New tree fern fronds are eagerly unfurling in anticipation of warmer days.

Another spectacular show from the Waratah, although the flowers are now struggling with the prolonged inclement conditions.

Our blueberry yield was very poor last year so we protected them from gale force winds while the fruit set. It is looking promising for this year’s bounty, now we need to protect them from birds and marauding fauna.

Geraldton Wax and grevilleas are providing the bees with much needed nourishment.

I am hopeful that the solitary oriental poppy will become many next year.

happy hens

Our crazy Barnevelder chooks are now nine years old. Two died last year in their sleep and the remaining duo hadn’t produced an egg for many months. We don’t have the heart to despatch them and so, we welcomed four newcomers instead. This time, we veered from any particular breed and sourced them from a local “farm”. I didn’t realise the state they were in until I got them home, many feathers missing at the back end, they obviously had worms and possibly lice. We treated their ailments and have become very attached to these lovely red hens. They are intelligent (for chooks), inquisitive and each has her own personality.

Winter has been wet and dismal, our poor girls have endured without complaint. We took to the internet in search of ways to make life more interesting for them and made it our mission to cheer them up. Having seen videos of chooks playing on a swing, we were inspired to make one. Unfortunately, our girls haven’t seen the videos.

We then fashioned a couple of hooks on string to hang vegetables from (silverbeet is prolific in the veggie patch) and that was a hit, though they make short work of it.

At least the swing is getting some use, for hanging long grass over.

Next came a forage cage so the girls can nibble the greens that grow through without scratching and ripping them out of the ground. Someone was eager to try it out, adding her own brand of fertilizer as a bonus.

We gleaned from our search that chooks find mirrors fascinating, this was more successful than the swing.

So, they now have a playground in the secure pen.

They also have a larger uncovered area that is fenced to prevent the destruction of our garden. We created another forage cage and the same cheeky chook couldn’t wait to check it out.

Last weekend, we added another novelty for them, a chair made out of old fencing posts.

I’m pleased to report, spring has sprung and we are now having more sunny days than wet ones. The forage mix is starting to grow

and the girls have all recovered their health and fluffy bums.

The two old girls are going strong and one has even started laying again.

The ultimate indication of chook happiness is indulging in a dust bath in the warm sunshine.