Australia · challenges · clouds · garden flowers · in my garden · Mount Warning · native Australian birds · new beginnings · new year · rain · subtropical weather · summer · Tweed Valley

The first challenge for 2021 …

Happy New Year!

That much I know I have right – it’s New Year’s Day, 2021. But what day of the week is it again?

Never mind, it’s holiday time, so I won’t concern myself too much with remembering what day it is right now. When the usual rhythm of everyday life begins again, I’m sure the days of the week will all fall back into place as well. 😉

We have had more rain today, along with long spells of, well, not sunshine, but it hasn’t rained all day either. The valley cleared to some extent, although Mount Warning decided to hide for the day. I’m sure there are plenty of people, regardless of Covid rstrictions, who may have over-indulged last night and wanted to hide away for the day, just as Mount Warning did.

Little Hoppy, my Butcher Bird friend with the gammy leg, visited today with one of the babies. I’m never sure who the actual parents of these baby birds are, but this little one seemed to follow Hoppy everywhere.

Later, I had a baby Butcher Bird perched on the top of the trampolene, singing at the top of its voice. They sing such a pretty song, filled with an extensive range of vocal notes, once they get into their song.

Not to be outdone, later in the day I had Baby Magpie in the front garden, extending his vocal chords to full extent as well. 🙂

While I was in the front garden with my camera, I had a look at a few plants. Some of them have taken a battering this summer, what with all the rain and gusty wind. These lovely white Mandevilla flowers broke into bloom only a few days ago though, and so far haven’t succumbed to the blustering wind. It’s a fairly new plant, I only planted it last summer, but it seems happy in the place I chose for it.

The only place I can grow Fuchsias is in a large pot on my front veranda, where the plant is protected from the harsh sun and wind. This plant is three years old now, and this flowering season it has already been in bloom for several months. I have to water the plant every day as it is quite a thirsty plant, and stresses quickly in the heat if the soil is left to dry out.

How did everyone celebrate New Year? I imagine quietly, like I did. Husband and I stayed up to watch the televised fireworks display on Sydney Harbour, welcomed the New Year in with a glass of sparkling wine, then off to bed (which is where I’m heading now!) 🙂

Australia · blessings · challenges · Christmas · daughter · family · grandchildren · Mount Warning · Tweed Valley

Christmas Eve

‘Twas the night before Christmas,

When all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring …

Well, maybe one creature was stirring. Bowie is wondering what all the fuss is about, I’m sure.

And he’s heard that a big jolly guy in a red suit might come down the chimney at any moment, so he’s keeping watch.

After days of preparation, I think we are finally prepared for Christmas Day. This year, Emma had some helpers when she made the gingerbread house.

And baby Eli looks pretty impressed by how talented his mummy is!

After a year that has thrown many challenges our way, as you prepare to celebrate Christmas, I wish you …

… and …

… and everything wonderful you could wish for. ❤


Australia · challenges · colours · flowers · gardening · in my garden · Mount Warning · native Australian birds · photography · spring · subtropical weather · sunset · The Week That Was · Tweed Valley

A Week of Flower ~ Day 7

Oh no, it’s the last day of Cathy at Word and Herbs challenge, A Week of Flowers! I have enjoyed sharing my flower photos so much this week, although regular visitors know that I share garden photos often. Flowers seem to speak a Universal Language of Friendship and Caring, so I will continue to post photos of my garden often. I love Cathy’s suggestion that A Week of Flowers might become an annual event, so I will definitely participate in future years as well. 🙂

Today I am sharing two of my favourite Grevillea photos. Our Grevillea is a small native tree that we planted about 26 years ago, and every year, without fail, we have a mass of beautiful nectar-filled, pale yellow flowers emerging like delicate spiders legs. Our native birds love the Grevillea tree, especially Noisy Miners, with their yellow beaks and eyes. Don’t they colour-coordinate beautifully with the flowers?

Going from the extreme of a small tree to a ground cover, tiny Alyssum flowers are another success story in my subtropical garden. Technically an annual, Alyssums self-sow each year, so I never know where in the garden a new plant may pop up!

Husband and I went out shopping this afternoon as husband needed to go to our local hardware store, which just happens to have a plant nursery attached. 🙂 I came home with several pots of annual seedlings which I will be planting in the cool hours of tomorrow morning, mostly in large pots situated on our back patio. I bought a large tray of ten Alyssums, far too many for the pots, so I will plant the extras along the border of a garden bed in my front garden.

Tonight we had another strikingly gorgeous sunset-orange western sky over Mount Warning. It was another warm day today – parts of Australia are experiencing a heatwave – and as a result, the valley spent the day veiled by a misty heat-haze. Tonight, however, the sun’s rays burnt away the haze and shone brilliantly across the darkening sky.

Thank you so much, Cathy, for the opportunity to be challenged to share flower photos every day for a week. Searching through flower photos to share, and meeting more like-minded flower fanatics who also shared their glorious flower photos certainly brightened my days, and I hope my photos brought some joy to people as well. ❤

blessings · challenges · Christmas · family · gratitude · happiness · In My World · new beginnings · photography · summer · unbreakable bonds

New Beginnings

Christmas Day 2018

As the year 2019 begins, my family is happy, which is all that I have wished for.

This time last year though, I had a different story to tell, although it wasn’t a situation I wished to talk about at the time. On the day of my grandson’s first birthday in July, my daughter-in-law ceremoniously decided she was leaving, moving one-thousand kilometres away, to live with her parents. My son had two choices – stay here and lose his son, or follow his wife, which was really no choice at all. Obviously, he left too.

To be married in March 2019.

For the next six months, I didn’t see my grandson. My son, however, couldn’t cope with being away from his family. He was torn between his birth family, and the one he had created. So in desperation, he tried living and working here during the week, and flying home to his other family for the weekend.

It was a massive strain on him. He was miserable. And I knew there were problems in his marriage.

Fun for the family, Christmas 2018.

As Christmas approached, I felt absolutely no enthusiasm. I felt my youngest son’s pain, and at times I felt as if my heart was bleeding for him. Consequentially, I didn’t buy any Christmas gifts, I gave my family money and asked them to spend it as they pleased.

The Christmas tree looked so bare without the usual array of gifts, but when my family arrived that situation changed as brightly packaged gifts began to mount beneath the tree.

Meeting the right person at the right time! ❤ Christmas 2018.

During the afternoon, we all went outside for a photo session. My heart wasn’t in it though, my son would be missing from the photos. It would be a permanent reminder of the unfortunate split in our family.

At one point, my eldest daughter and her husband handed each family member an envelope, instructing us to open our envelopes together. I imagined I would read my card later, once I had gone inside and had put my reading glasses on. But that all changed when I took out the card, which read –

Jingle bells, jingle bells,

jingle all the way …

Oh what fun

It is to say,

A baby is on the way!

Due to arrive

August 2018.

I was going to be a Nana again! 

Many reasons to smile again …

Fast forward to Christmas 2018 – My youngest son is home again. His ex had chosen another significant day to ceremoniously (again!!) announce the end of their marriage on their third wedding anniversary. But this year, he’s smiling again.

My auntie dunked me!

My boy is back.

My family are all friendly with one another again, just like they used to be (before the x joined the family).

Aunt Em loves me!

And most importantly, my grandson was here to help his four-month-old baby cousin, Aurora Ebony, celebrate her first Christmas. 🙂

Aurora’s Mummy and Daddy getting into the spirit of Christmas.

I think the photos speak louder than any words I could choose.

And in 2019, we have two weddings to look forward to! My eldest son is to be married in March, followed by my youngest daughter who will be married in April. ❤

Christmas 2018 photo session. 🙂

A year ago, I couldn’t write about my life, or my family. This year, we have everything to celebrate!

I’ll be Flower Girl at my Aunt Em’s wedding in April!

I wanted to share this brief version of the story of my 2018 to let anyone who is suffering know that nothing stays the same. Change is inevitable. And there is always hope for a better future.

Uncle Ben and Braxton.

For 2019, I wish everyone a year of happiness, a year of joy, good health and prosperity. A year where even if your life isn’t going completely to plan, know that there is always hope for a brighter future. xx

Watching the New Year’s Eve fireworks on TV with Nana and Poppy. NYE 2018.
Baby Aurora, New Year’s Day 2019.




Australia · books · challenges · realities · writing

Excited trepidation

Sometimes, even birds get in a tizz.
Sometimes, even birds get in a tizz.

This morning, the university study schedule and information has been released for the two units I am enrolled in for session one, which begins next week, and as I printed out Study Guides and Unit Information Guides this morning I felt the familiar bubble of excited anticipation I usually feel at the beginning of a new learning journey.

Mingled with the excitement, however, I also experienced a fairly large chunk of trepidation.

I’m enrolled in the Associate Degree in Creative Writing and have so far completed three of the sixteen units. The first two units, which I completed well before the end of last year in session two of the study year, progressed wonderfully. Nothing untoward happened, I learned lessons which I will continue to carry with me throughout the associate degree and beyond, and I became friendly with some like-minded, ‘mature aged’ students who are experiencing a similar learning process to my own. I took the opportunity to complete my third unit over the Christmas/New Year period, during session three, again feeling eagerness and anticipation over the content of the coming twelve weeks study and assignment tasks.

It was during the latter weeks of this third unit that I began to feel the effects of information overload, brought about by political leanings, opinionated unit content and the evident desire of the authors of the learning materials to neatly package groups of people together in what they described as minority group and label each group with its (apparent) appropriate sticker.

At the point in the unit that I began questioning the learning process, we were discussing the book Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

An academic may, upon the mention of Jane Eyre, nod knowingly and mutter ‘ah yes, Jane Eyre‘, whilst realising the popular train of thought offered by university lecturers and those people who possess a biting, critical and analytical mind for all texts written since the beginning of time. For the uninitiated student such as myself, however, the Study Guide materials and ensuing discussions came as something of a shock.

What did I expect when I enrolled in this unit? Jane Eyre was listed as one of the Written Texts students would study during this unit, along with several other books. I’ve read Jane Eyre and although I found Brontë’s 19th-century style of speech difficult to read in the beginning, after the first few pages I began to enjoy the experience of reading a book written authentically in the time frame. Historical writing, such as Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, whilst written historically, were not written in 1743, the year in which the female protagonist, Clare Randall, found herself after falling through a time-warp amid the stones at Craigh na Dun during a visit to Scotland in 1946. Jane Eyre, on the other hand, was published in 1847 and written during a time when females were not regarded as having anything worthwhile to say and not accepted as authors worthy of publication. Charlotte Brontë, like other female authors of her time, stepped around this technicality by releasing her early writing under the nom de plume of Currer Bell, a fact which I found fascinating and a sign of those times. During reading Jane Eyre I marvelled at the changes in society during the past one-hundred-and-seventy years and silently thanked the suffragettes, and various other the women throughout time who have fought the battle, and won, for equal right for women. I had expected discussions throughout this unit to be comparisons of writing styles during various time frames; I expected admiration for female authors, such as Charlotte Brontë who led the way in fighting a male dominated society, hence breaking down the barriers, enabling the opportunity for me to write today.

I was wrong. We were expected to read the assigned texts from the only point of view we have available to us, which is now, placing all of the judgements we know to be ‘correct’ today, on a text which was written one-hundred-and-seventy years ago. Apparently, Charlotte Brontë wrote from a narrow and limited point of view and should have known better than to portray Rochester’s first wife as a Creole, which (apparently) emphasised the bigoted outlook of the English.

This line of discussion, (especially relating to the apparent prejudice of English folk whose soul purpose was to colonise and the entire world) was held right at the time when heated debate was rife over Donald Trump’s controversial election as the American President. And perhaps this unit’s discussion board conversations fell victim of the overflow of anguish spilling across from the other side of the world. It didn’t help the situation any when these events coincided with Australia celebrating yet another ‘Australia Day’, meant to bring the citizens of this country together as we sing the praises of the country we love, yet in recent years has been described as ‘invasion day’ by some people who are indigenous, part indigenous or indigenous sympathisers in this country. Before I realised what was happening, the discussion board debate turned political. In the university environment, where the study guides describe our once heralded ‘Australia Day’ as invasion day (a point which I usually overlook, and read on) my once-expected-to-be pleasurable debate and learning experience turned into an emotionally draining nightmare.

If you have read this far, and are a regular reader of my blog posts, no doubt you are asking why I chose to participate in the discussion board debacle, when it obviously upset my equilibrium. Ten percent of the grade awarded at the end of the unit is assessed on personal participation to the discussion board. I seriously considered whether it was worth the ten percent, but as the unit was nearing the end when I became positively rattled, I chose to stick it out.

As I begin to study two new units, again verging into the unknown, I have not developed any expectations of the unit content. I now know to expect the unexpected, however, the trepidation is there. I do not wish to feel like an emotionally drained, rung-out old dish cloth at the end of what should be a pleasant learning journey. I hope that this most recent experience is a one-time event. I question how the topic of discussion I endured will help me to become a better writer, (which is why I signed up for the Associate Degree in Creative Writing) and will remain open to a proverbial penny dropping moment in the future.

For assignment 4, discussion board participation, my grade was a high distinction, yet in hindsight, I feel I paid too a high a price for the ultimate accolade, which was such a small aspect of the unit.

And please, anyone who feels inclined to comment regarding anything political or controversial, I respectfully ask you to please refrain from any such observations. These mentions were only made to describe a situation, not to open further debate.

Thank you, dear reader, for lending your ear (eye?) as I again venture into the unknown, this time literally prepared – in a suit of armour.