Remember, Endurance and Dirt

Memories are amazing. The picture, taken by Christine of Moonlit Magic fame, (http://instagram.com/kyrin_moonlit_magic) brought back an incident from my past. I still remember it well. I guess it also shows the endurance of a child and the ability of the brain to store trauma. I wasn’t a country kid, but my four cousins were. Farming ,self-sufficiency, dirt, and fantasy was all part of their existence. As an only child I was jealous. So here is a snippet from my past – now well over 50 years ago!

This photo, by Christine of Moonlit Magic, was taken at Broadmeadow Race track, New South Wales, Australia.

THE SCAR

          The tree was tall and full of branches. My cousin looked at me and grinned. She was up the trunk like a monkey.

          “Come on up,” she called, settling herself on a particularly large branch.

          I wasn’t the most accomplished tree climber — but I managed to follow, by crawling my way up. I sat down next to her feeling quite impressed with myself.

          Every day we visited the tree — it became our own version of ‘The Faraway Tree.’  There was magic in the isolation, and in the fact that I had been forbidden to climb – not just that tree, but ANY tree.

          About a fortnight later, we were once again clambering up the tree — I had become more and more courageous. I stepped on a small branch that we had used many times in order to catapult myself up to the next level.

          Snap!

          With agonizing slowness, I slid down the trunk, the jagged branch slicing into my leg as I passed it.

          I can remember sitting on the ground in the dirt with a dazed look on my face, staring at my leg and wondering why it wasn’t bleeding. Something white glinted in the depths of the open skin. My hands went around my leg in an automatic gesture to hold the parted flesh together. My cousin scrambled down and stood over me.

          “Oh, boy!” she moaned. “Are you ever going to get into trouble!”

           I said not a word.

          With hesitating gasps I got to my feet… and walked the two kilometres home. To say there was hell to pay is putting it mildly. There was no way I could obfuscate, even though I tried. Better to tell the truth plainly.

          My Aunt settled me down, then pulled the partial branch from my leg, and cobbled the wound together with a Band-Aid and bandage. My mother, on the other hand, was furious. I wouldn’t let her near me.

          Do you know how many times people touch you on your leg when it is hurting? Everybody — that’s who.

          Now you know why I have that scar. It might have happened over fifty years ago,

but the memories haven’t dimmed, just as the mark is always there to remind me. 

Another story about a tree.

As I write children’s books, you may be interested in one of my ‘read-to-me’ picture books. ‘Kathy Koala’s Kerfuffle’ is about an argumentative Koala, who creates a problem for her friends in the Australian bush. If you are interested, please feel free to go to my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AlphabetanimalsofAustralia and private message me.

Relations, Easter and Drawing.

Well, we are now in the Easter celebrations for this year. As an apiarist, it is time to put our little insect friends to bed for the winter, making sure they have plenty of food to see them through the cold months that are on the way. Funnily enough, I received a bee -autiful card last Christmas from one of my relations. She is, like me and her siblings, someone who was brought up without television. Even though it was available at the time, my mother and her mother were adamant that we should consider education first, play musical instruments and learn lots of craft.

We all learnt piano and a different musical instrument (violin, flute, harp etc) and we all learned to sew or knit or crochet or tat, or all of the above and would practice our chosen passion every day. Lynnetta’s was drawing and painting (she teaches piano and harp) , mine was my piano and violin, and lately, writing as well. Lynnetta worked in water-colour, and illustrated one of my Alphabet Animals of Australia picture books (AU$18 plus postage – DM me if you are interested)

Here is the card she sent me. She often works in miniature, and her cards sell for $5 each. If you would like to see more of her work, please let me know.

It inspired me to write a cute little story.

It’s called :

Night Story

As the sun slid over the horizon on the planet Hive, Buzz Bumblebee shepherded his two young offspring into their cells.

“Please read us a story, Dad,” his daughters begged.

Buzz sighed.

“You need your sleep, young’uns,” he said. “Tomorrow is a big day in the colony, you know. We are going to the launch ceremony for the Ninja space craft that will be exploring the Widerfields that the last lot of Drones discovered.”

“I know, Dad, but that’s so boring. Please read the one about the Princess and the Dragon.”  Hummer nudged her younger sister and crossed her feet behind her back.

Buzz frowned.

“We are going to the Launch tomorrow, whatever you say! I’ve worked on the Ninja project for nearly 5 months and we need to know what is out there. Maybe we will find more beeings like ourselves. Who knows?”

Both Hummer and Flower grumbled.

Hummer pouted. “There’s no other life on the outside of our world, Dad, it’s all only hope and theory – you know they need to find a place with more water and nectar for our type to exist, and I don’t think they ever will – after all we can’t travel overly far or for very long into the unknown and survive ourselves!”

Buzz raised his antenna, bobbed his head and gave in to the girls demands. He grabbed the storybook from the shelf and sat on the edge of the bed. He stroked Hummer on her head, wiping away a fragment of pollen that she hadn’t cleaned off.

“Stop with the negativity, Hummer.”

Then he turned to Flower, so pretty that he smiled and opened the book on his knee.

” Lay down Flower. Now…”

The girls wriggled into their comfort of their beds and looked at their father with wide and excited eyes, He began to read.

“Once upon a time the Dragon Wasp flew around the Castle. Princess Properlis was extremely frightened. She called upon her warrior band and….”

Buzz stopped and glanced at his children – they were already fast asleep!

Some places to check :-

https://www.facebook.com/Sweetfields-Publisher

https://www.facebook.com/BooksByMaureenLarter

https://www.facebook.com/AlphabetanimalsofAustralia

Rocks, Excitement and Debris

Summer time in Australia is hot and most people gravitate towards the beach or cool waterholes. However, many people are not aware of the dangers ,and we often hear of visitors to our shores drowning or being injured by sharks, stone-fish and poisonous sea animals. Rocks, rock-pools and seaweed debris are wonderful hiding places for these dangers, and often drownings happen because the oceans around Australia are strong and fierce and visitors are excited by the vastness of our shores. Here is a little story that shows that even Australians can be ignorant of the menaces in small and innocent looking pools found in the rocky edges of the sea.

Please remember, if you are interested in any of the books or paintings featured in my blog, please follow the links ( https://www.facebook.com/BooksByMaureenLarter ), (https://www.facebook.com/AlphabetanimalsofAustralia ), ( https://www.facebook.com/Sweetfields-Publisher ), or Direct Message me. Thank you.

The following painting, by Mykey (https://www.instagram.com/kwhyette ) , inspired the following short story.

Squidhands

A Day at the Beach.

The rocks felt warm under Toby’s feet as he carefully picked his way along the headland. His mother followed close behind, carrying the picnic basket.

Every now and again, Toby stopped and knelt down, looking at the pools of seawater trapped by the shallow formations of sand and grit. Then he bound away towards the next obstacle or two.

Eventually he stopped at a fairly deep pool that looked as if it had been there for a while. He called out to his Mum to come and look.

“See, Mum,” he said excitedly. “There are little fish and seaweed clumps hiding crabs and stuff!” His mother called out to be careful, but he grinned and submerged his hand in the water, watching as a couple of sea anemones closed up to avoid his prying fingertips.

A tiny crab scurried away and Toby tried to catch it. Then he saw another small sea animal that fascinated him. It looked like a baby octopus, and this time he managed to get it onto his hand.

He giggled.

“Oooh, Mum, this tickles,” he said, holding out the prized wriggling creature in both his hands to show it to her. It has pretty blue rings on it!”

Toby’s mother let out a squeal.

“Let it go!” she yelled, dropping the picnic basket in her haste to reach her son. “It’s poisonous!”

Toby frowned.

“But it’s so pretty!”

His mother reached him and flicked the octopus off of his hands and it fell back into the pool, hiding away immediately. Toby was not happy.

“But Mum…” he whined.

When she got her breath back, and felt her heart begin to beat normally, she said.

“That, my son, was a blue-ringed octopus, and is considered to be one of the most venomous marine species known to man. If it had bitten you, I would have no longer had a son!”

Retreat, Exits and Distractions

Over the years, life has thrown a lot of curve balls at me, and the miniature painting done by my cousin prompted me to write of life’s distractions and consequent memories. Whoever is at the retreat, discovers the solitude and beauty of nature is a balm to a fractured soul. I know how that feels. Hope you enjoy the little story, just in time for Valentine’s day.

The miniature paintings that my cousin does are used on greeting cards (at AU$5 each) and she is willing to do single, special ones just for you. If you are interested, please message me and I will pass on the information.

I write as well, but romance and relationships are not my normal genre (I write picture books and chapter books for children – see https://www.facebook.com/BooksByMaureenLarter and https://www.facebook.com/AlphabetanimalsofAustralia ), but I have ventured into adult fiction. ‘Tarnished Gems’ is available and is about the lives of six women, who become entwined after an accident. Again, message me if you are interested in this book. I write under the pen-name Marguerite Wellbourne, as some of the content is not suitable for children.

Cover of my book

The miniature by Lynnetta McGrath is :-

The Exit.

The sea has always beckoned me. I can sit and contemplate the view for ages. The calming effect of merely watching waves come and go towards the shore is mesmerising.

While driving to Sydney to visit a friend, an intriguing turn-off from the highway distracted me. I had to see what was at the end of the road, and so I took the exit. The bitumen petered out and a dusty track meandered on. I followed.

A small quaint bed and breakfast establishment was hidden at the end, in a semi-secluded spot overlooking a quiet beach.

I stopped and immediately decided to stay the night. I wandered inside, paid for a room and purchased a bottle of red and a sandwich, then strolled over to a picnic table and sat down to enjoy the snack and the view.

It so reminded me of the day you proposed.

Where had those forty years gone? Why had you been taken from me so soon? The cancer had been cruel and left you a mere shadow of yourself, but I could still see the love for me in the depth of your confused and desperate gazes. I remember holding your hand in mine and giving you secret, but heartfelt, permission to leave this world, even though the tears made silent tracks down my cheeks.

You sighed, like the whisper of the waves upon the sand, then retreated to be one with the Universe.

And so I sit and watch the sea … and remember. Not just the end, but the constant joy you gave me over the years.

When the sun sank behind the distant headland, I got up and felt at peace. I rang my friend and told her I would see her tomorrow. I had another sandwich and took the last dregs of the wine to my room.

Later, as I sank into sleep, I smiled. The memories were no longer sad.

You would always be my love … my valentine.

Refresh, Energize and Diverge.

2020 has been a difficult year and I must apologize for neglecting my blog. We have all suffered, from drought, fires, floods and Covid, and I have been busy, at home during lock-down, writing and published more of my own and other author’s books. All the books are available from me – so please message me if anything looks interesting to you. The following is only a small sample (page two has my catalogue on it).

On a completely different tangent, I’ve also learned to knit with 4 needles and have made myself 4 pairs of socks for next winter.

Now I feel it’s time to refresh, energize and renew my blog … diverge into a different style – give my readers some of my writing with short stories inspired by various artist’s work.

So … enough of my waffling! Please remember, if you are interested in any of the books or paintings featured in my blog, please follow the links ( https://www.facebook.com/BooksByMaureenLarter ), ( https://www.facebook.com/AlphabetanimalsofAustralia ), ( https://www.facebook.com/Sweetfields-Publisher ), or Direct Message me. Thank you.

This is the first of twelve paintings that have inspired me to write a short story. Don’t forget to follow the links to more of this artist’s works. This painting is by Mykel. If you would like to see more of his work pop over to his Instagram account – https://www.instagram.com/kwhyette

Waterdragon

Serpents.

Lucius stepped back and checked the floor again. One more tile and a polish, and the design would be finished.

He squatted down and placed the last of the lapis-lazuli tiles in position, then relaxed back on his heels and wiped the sweat from his forehead. He was very happy with the work, the centre-piece of the lavish courtyard in this lush holiday villa. He was looking forward to doing his next job for Marcus Flavius.

That next job included a vicious, snarling dog. It was to be laid in the entrance foyer as a warning to unwanted guests.

Lucius smiled. Marcus Flavius had been so impressed by his designs, he had freed Lucius from the bonds of slavery and was in the process of gaining the necessary Roman citizenship for him. He would do a mosaic worthy of his own elevation, and to do his ex-master proud.

Only a couple of weeks later, the dog was nearly finished. Lucius’s Roman citizenship had come through and he was about to set up his own business in the main city centre. He could see a bright future ahead of him.

There was a rumble beneath his feet. What was happening. He got up off the floor and ran. There had been only a few tiles left to place.

***

The drone that belonged to Arthur swept over the next part of the archaeological site. It’s infrared cameras sent back to the computer a rough outline of a large villa.

Arthur had already begun the dig.

He was excited.

They could see the beginnings of a mosaic, undamaged by the layers of ash that Vesuvius had spewed over the town. Slowly a head of a large black and tan dog appeared – it’s mouth open in a growl and it’s fangs large and menacing. What a magnificent work of art. The owner of the villa must have been wealthy to have been able to hire such wonderful craftsmen.

Arthur turned to his partner.

“Such a pity this was never finished.” he remarked “But I wonder what other treasures we will find within this villa’s walls?”

Relief, Endurance and Dirt

Finally I’ve managed to sit and have the head-space to write another blog post. After the horrors of our summer in Australia, we have some relief.

Of course, Australia being Australia – think of Dorothea Mackellar’s poem – a land of droughts and flooding rains – well, that’s just it. We went about 10 months of no rain – the land was parched, the grass and trees died or were dying. There were patches of bare dirt. Cows, horses, goats and sheep were starving and many a farmer despaired.

Then the temperature soared into the 40s (C) and we burst into flames.fire

Australia burnt – everywhere. The landscape changed radically. Paddocks were blackened. Stock still had nothing to eat, and feed was expensive, when it could be found. Trees became roaring torches and burnt from the inside to the top, then toppled. Houses, built by frail humans were no match for the ferocity.

People cried.

The Australian spirit of endurance was called upon for this second wave of horror.

Finally, Mother Nature gave us the rain … and rain … and more rain … and even more rain. The paddocks were stripped of their top soil, but somehow seeds germinated. Dirt became mud. Bridges washed away. Water soaked the ground until it could no longer hold more.

Floods are our third disaster.flood

But I’m not complaining – not really.

The dams are full and so are the tanks and water catchment areas. Water is so necessary. After all – you can put your toes in the water, but not in flames.

People are now starting to re-shape and re-build their lives. Now we must adapt to our new Earth and its vagaries of climate.

Keep your chin up, hold on to hope and keep battling on. Fight against the whims of nature and now the new threat of disease. Do the best you know how, to improve the small area of this Earth that you occupy. Save water, reconsider your use of plastics, use your car a little less often and be aware of the waste you accumulate. In other words, walk gently upon this earth – she is the only home in the Universe you have. Don’t destroy it!earth

And don’t forget to keep peace with your soul and those around you.

Smile.

 

Ravaged, Energy and Demands

November has passed and with it some of the stress. Here, in Australia, we were bombarded by fire. All up the Eastern seaboard, already ravaged by drought, the land when up in flames. Where I live was okay – just. We had fires to the north, west and south and still they burn. Today is windy, and embers can still find us; trees that are still burning inside can flare up, or fall, sending the sparks high into the air.

It has been a worrying time, and will continue to be throughout the summer. The energy expended by the fire-fighters has been tremendous – with volunteers helping with supplies and stock feed for burnt out paddocks that have left animals starving, let alone the myriads of Australian wildlife that perished. I might add that worry and stress of the community has left little ability to focus on every day living, and many people have succumbed to shock and despair. So many lost everything as the fire tore through the land, consuming everything in its path – including their homes.

Now we are all looking at the aftermath and demanding to know how this could have happened. All our national parks and swathes of bush-land have been decimated. Was this climate change? Yes – partly. Was this government changing funding for the fire service? Yes – partly. Was it the inability to do controlled burning during the winter months? Yes – partly. And finally was it through some thoughtless act of arson in some cases? Yes- partly.

We can sit and blame everyone else for the horrors of this last month – but it is time to take responsibility for our planet and our own lifestyle choices. We must adapt and begin to understand that this planet isn’t an infinite entity. We need to do some things to protect our future here – one thing that springs to mind is the need for less population. And hand in glove with this goes the greed for money, possessions and power.

How do we change the inherent idiocy of the human race?

Have you got any suggestions?

Rags, Emergencies and Dinosaurs

Another month has gone, and Christmas looms! I always try to have gifts ready by now, but, again, time has moved too swiftly and busily to think of it. My gifts are always small and, hopefully, fit to the person I give them. But gifts are a privilege. So many do not get them, or can afford the luxury of giving them.

I think of all the people in far flung places (was it really a year ago that I was in Cambodia?) and wonder why the western world creates such a commercial broohaha over every festival of the year. We are encouraged to SPEND, SPEND, and SPEND all the time. The poor people of the world, even within our own society, often live in rags, concerned only with living and surviving one day at a time – and we in the ‘civilized’ world don’t show the care of the planet, environment or those less fortunate than ourselves.

How dare we!

And that comment brings to mind the passionate speech of Greta, castigating the governments for not fixing the climate change of our planet. Then there are the protesters who are using violence to change the regimes of oppression in other parts of the world. I guess my opinions are not worth much, but I wonder whether those people have any solutions, or are just yelling at others who also can’t fix the emergencies of the world?

I would like to see the people with the solutions get the type of airplay that those angry people get. The fact that people in Africa are digging the desert to re-green it, that Egypt is planting trees to stop the march of the desert sand in their country, the people in Australia growing coral to fix the barrier reef, the volunteers who feed the poor, the farmers struggling to help feed the masses trying to use sustainable practices – this is where our thoughts and efforts should be directed.

Can YOU live your life in a better way?

Can YOU help fix the mountains of plastic, general waste and the acquisition of ever more ‘gadgets’?

I know, in my life, I have endeavored to curb my desire for all the fripperies of the world, I’ve been to places to help teach and educate, and I strive to make my small plot of earth better than I found it.

If everyone followed those principles – no doubt, the planet would be better off. At the moment, all I see is the rush towards the same fate as the dinosaurs!

There is more in this world to hope for than that!

Refreshments, Emeralds and Delight

It always amazes me that, as you grow older, time passes by so much quicker than when you were young. The intolerable wait for birthdays to happen, Christmas to celebrate, and a one hundred andone delights to look forward to, always seemed to be so far away. Now, I blink, and another month has slipped by.

I do understand that my life has got busier and busier – now that I’ve ‘retired’. I am constantly wondering how I had time to go to work! I hear that from nearly every retiree that I meet. I suppose I don’t meet those people who sit at home and do nothing. The depressed and isolated, the tired and sick, and the unloved and desperate, are tucked away in their homes.

It’s sad. I wish I could help those people.

How do you explain, except by example, that days on this planet are not only like diamonds, but emeralds, sapphires and opals too. Full of colour and beauty. Don’t give up. Look around and see that beauty. Embrace your life and give to others.

It’s hard.

We are constantly bombarded with doom and gloom, bad news, climate change and the unscrupulous behaviour of the criminals, punks and big business tycoons of our warped society.

Life should be lived with a love of nature, the animals around us, the glory of the environment and the close and far loved ones of our human family.

Life should be lived with a love of nature, the animals around us, the glory of the environment and the close and far loved ones of our human family.

I don’t, for one moment suggest we should ignore the decline in the world around us, but, by living a life that shows you CAN do something to help society, should be the ambition of many of us. By living a life of joy, usefulness, love, art, music and dance instead of greed, intolerance and hatred would make this world a better place.

So lift your heart, speak your truths, lift your glasses of whatever refreshments you enjoy, and smile. Let the lonely, depressed and isolated people know you care. Put your hand out and lift them up, rather than oppressing them.

Understand and encourage them.

You’ll find that it becomes a win/win situation for everyone.

Rain, Elusive and Daytime

Here in the Mid North Coast of Australia, we are in the last month of winter. So far, there has been so little rain that I’m hoping my cows, goats and chickens on my property aren’t going to become extinct!!

The ground is like concrete and the grass is dying – in fact quite a lot of it has completely died. I am feeding my poor animals every day, and the cost of stock food continues to rise, as it becomes more and more scarce.

I really have tried to ‘drought-proof’ my land, but it isn’t easy. Although, I remember when I first moved here, nearly twenty years ago, the ground was empty of vegetation – it was just dust. So I haven’t done too badly, I suppose.

ISBN – 978-0-9876393-9-4 Contact me if you would like a hard copy.

Another thing that has been going well is the breeding, in China, of the fabulous Giant Pandas. They were considered close to endangered and now seem to have been brought back from the brink. I wrote a book – called ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ (a chapter book for children) and in my research was pleasantly surprised by the work that is going on in the field. This book is a ‘Kathy Edwards’ adventure, and I have decided to use that type of theme for my other books in the series. The next book in the series (now half written) concerns the sea-dragons off the Tasmanian Giant Kelp fields. And to be quite honesty – I’ve already planned out another 2 books with endangered turtles in one and a more general ‘rain-forest destruction’ in another.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there just isn’t enough daytime hours for me to do everything I would like to do. but I still persevere. There isn’t any point in joining ‘protest’ marches about climate change, the destruction of our environment and the wholesale extinction of so many of the world’s creatures, if I don’t actually do something about those problems. I’m hoping my books will educate the younger generation. The previous generations certainly didn’t have any idea what their practices were doing to our planet. I also have my doubts that today’s politicians care either. Their hip pocket seems to be the only thing that drives them. Let’s hope that will change radically in the future. (Although – having said that – if the dinosaurs hadn’t become extinct – we’d still be knee deep in them! – perhaps we should be thankful for that!!)