Rain, Enjoy and Dance.

Aaaah! A New Year!

Let’s hope it is better than the last couple! I don’t know about other people, but I think it is time we got down to ‘living’ again. We seem to have had one disaster after another – from bush-fires, floods, disease, volcanoes erupting … you mention it, we’ve had it. I also realize these things have been with us forever, and the human race is still here and with more of us than in any other time in history. Let’s put everything back into some sort of perspective without the media channeling fear, drama and over-exaggeration. Only last month I listened to a news report that used the word ‘scare’ several time – no wonder people are brain washed into worry!

With that in mind, the following short story is inspired by a child-like innocence that we need to tap into and re-discover.

The Puddle.

Emily kicked at the puddle and watched the muddy water trickle over the toe of her yellow rubber boots.  There was a certain satisfaction of fracturing the reflection that had been caught in the mirror of the water.

She bent down and stuck her hands in the mud, feeling it ooze delightfully through her fingers. Mummy wouldn’t be happy – she had got mud on her dress. She flung it off and sat down in the puddle. It was not cold.

This summer had been a wet and hot one. The paddocks were green and the rain constant. It was so much fun and she often danced in the cooling showers. At night she would lay in bed and listen to the frogs calling to one another. There was a small frog living in the down-pipe near her room, and it’s voice boomed out into the darkness. At first she had been frightened, thinking it was huge, but one day she saw it – all of five centimetres long! So cute.

Now she sat and enjoyed the sensation of mud in her knickers, and coolness against her skin.

Over the rustling of the gum tree leaves above, she heard her name called. She closed her eyes and stayed for a few minutes more, appreciating the joy of being at one with nature. but the call from her mother grew louder and more insistent.

“I’m here,” she murmured, as she stood up and let the mud and water run down to her bqare feet. She stepped over to the pile of her sodden dress that she had draped over her boots, and wandered back in the direction of the now frantic calls.

When her mother caught sight of her, she rushed over and clasped Emily, mud and dripping water and all.

“Why didn’t you answer me?” she asked her daughter.

“I’m okay,” Emily looked puzzled. “I was just enjoying the moment.”

Her mother smiled. Oh! if she could only do the same!

Recipe – Maureen’s Scrumptious Boston Bun.

Ingredients : 1 and a half cups of mashed potato; 2 cups SR flour; Three quarters of a cup granulated sugar; 1 tspn salt; 1 cup milk; 1 and a half cups of sultanas or mixed fruit.

  1. Preheat oven to 180-200C
  2. Place mashed potatoes in a bowl and add sugar. Mix well
  3. Add fruit and mix.
  4. Sift flour and salt together and add to poato mixture alternately with milk.
  5. Place in two greased loaf tins, or one greased large cake tin.
  6. Bake for approximately 45 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, cool slightly then ice while still warm.
  8. (Icing – 1 cup icing sugar; 1 tspn vanilla essence; 1 to 2 tblspns Lemon juice or water or a mixture of both: 2 to 3 drops of food colouring if desired). Mix these ingredients to a stiff consistency and spread over bun.
  9. Cut into slices and serve If desired, it may be spread with butter.
  10. Serves 6 to 8 people.

Please try the above recipe, and enjoy!

Now that the new year has arrived, perhaps you are thinking to change your life-style. If your dream is to make more money and be financially more stable, it night be the time to start a new sideline or business. The booklet below is available from me for AU$8. It could be the thing to start you off. Be aware, some of the rules are for Australia – so check with your local country representatives if you start a business.I will send anywhere in the world, so if you are interested or would like a catalogue of my other books, just email me at maureenlarter@gmail.com and I can get a copy to you.

A guide to getting you started in business. Available for AU$8 straight from me.

If you want to check me out, or look at my credentials – these are my social media contacts:-

My facebook pages are:

https://www.facebook.com/BooksByMaureenLarter

https://www.facebook.com/AlphabetanimalsofAustralia

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

Linkedin : MLarter

Twitter : @MaureenLarter

Instagram : lartermaureen

Red, Entertaining and Drinking

December is once more with us – the American festivals of Halloween and Thanksgiving now behind us. Hopefully, this year, with the restrictions forced on us by the pandemic, we will be able to see an easing of the rules and we will enjoy a family get-together. In Christian countries, we look forward to a joyful Christmas and then a fresh and happy new year, when, if we are lucky, we will enjoy a year of wonder and excitement, love and merriment and, for some, the ability to start towards a dream of their own.

Needless to say, as the year draws to a close and another begins, we will all have seen our share of sorrow, disappointment and even tragedy. But this month we should look forward, not back. Remember the bad times, by all means, but learn from them and strive for something better in the future.

Next year my blog will consist of a nice recipe, (For the eat part of my blog), a short story to read, and a dream to hold and try to pursue. After all, my blog is called ReadEatDream! I will continue to use the R.E.D. titles.

I hope you have enjoyed the art work I have presented throughout this year, and the short stories they have inspired. This story, for the festive season, is inspired by my friend, Annie Gabriel’s painting. She has also illustrated many of my children’s books.

Double shot 25 x 30 -$65

There was laughter around the table as Judy lifted her glass and said “Some more please!”

Judy wasn’t known for drinking, but it was Christmas, and she had let her defenses down. Besides, after a year of feeling sorry for herself, the new year was coming, and it was a perfect time to make a fresh start.

Judy knew that her smile and her conversation hid a mountain of heartbreak. Her Mother had passed away during May, and she had felt so helpless as she had watched the life drained out of her. Cancer was such a horrible disease. Then her father had succumbed to a broken heart in September – he just couldn’t face a life without his wife.

To make matters worse, Judy had lost her job and her long-term boyfriend all in the same month as well. Dennis had said that he couldn’t cope with her depression, her constant tears and the way she had pushed him away in her grief. The fact that she had had so much time off at work caused the boss to suggest she take a long look at herself, take an extended holiday, and look for another job.

The party noise lifted to the next level and Judy sipped at the red wine, not particularly enjoying the taste. Entertaining and being entertained wasn’t within her comfort zone.

But she tried.

But Judy was amazed. Although she hadn’t forgotten, and never would, the traumas of the past year, she discovered that she could move on. She could be happy. She could enjoy life. That it wasn’t a betrayal of all that had gone before, but a celebration of her parents, a celebration of her life.

She knew that there would still be hard times ahead, but she decided as she smiled and raised her glass to the joy of the Christmas season, that she would learn to live again.

She felt a tap on her shoulder. A male voice interrupted her thoughts.

“You have such a nice smile.”

***

My chapter books for middle school children often have the theme of not giving up in them. For example ‘Petey’ tells of a bird left alone by jealous siblings having pushed him out of the nest. The environment is hostile, yet he has the will to survive.

Even my fantasy series about a wizard, Rosferado, tells of the re-education and hope of a bright future – more so in the 2nd book of the series – ‘Rosferado, wizard – Banished.’

These are available for $18AU plus postage – feel free to give me a message with your details so I know where to send it.

Roving, Electricity and Devastation.

Over the last two years, life on our planet has suffered. We have had our lives turned upside-down in nearly every country in the world. Here in Australia we have coped with drought, devastation from fires, then floods, then the pandemic, which included border closures and business lock-downs. After beginning to rise from these catastrophes, we were hit once again by floods throughout the eastern seaboard. Electricity, Internet and mobile phone services were curtailed and supplies in the shops almost non-existent. Overseas travel just not available. Roving reporters went from place to place reporting on the destruction.

Elsewhere in the world, deaths from the Corona virus were horrific, and then some suffered with erupting volcanoes, political upheaval and even landslides and earthquakes. Life certainly hasn’t been easy.

But humans continue to survive. Rally against what is thrown at them, and still live with hope. The story that follows, inspired by the water colour painting by Lynnetta McGrath, is to show us, that whatever happens, tomorrow is another day. That life can flourish against adversity, and there is never a time when giving-up should be the way out.

Miniature – by Lynnetta McGrath.

The silhouette of the palm tress in the dying moments of the day reminded Felicity of the fires. She bowed her head and tears began to prickle her eyes. She had lost it all – her home, her family and her memories – all gone in an instant by a roaring monster of unbelievable heat. She wished Dan and the kids hadn’t decided to stay.

She sat quietly on her deckchair in the park and watched the sun disappear below the horizon, the tears finally tracking down her cheeks, the mozzies* enjoying a feast on her bare arms, and the sound of the music in the distance not penetrating her hearing.

How could she be in such a lovely spot, when her reasons for being had gone, her family burnt and her home left as a smoldering ruin? Now, not only was she in northern Queensland because her grief councillor had told her to move away to clear her head and come to some sort of acceptance of her situation, but now she couldn’t go home – the border to N.S.W. and her parents property had been slammed shut.

She took another gulp of the rum drink in her right hand.

A young girl wandered past and smiled shyly at Felicity. Felicity smiled back, though it was a bit difficult. The girl came towards her.

“You look sad,” the young girl commented.

“Yes,” Felicity whispered.

The little girl came towards her and placed a warm hand on her arm, batting away a mozzie Felicity hadn’t even known was there.

‘I was sad, too,” the little girl said. “My Daddy passed away last year, and then I found out I had cancer. Mu Mummy looked just like you do now.”

Felicity nodded.

“But then I fought and fought, and my Mummy had to help me. Now I am better, and I enjoy every day, and so does Mummy,” The little girl smiled as a woman came up to Felicity.

“I hope Gail isn’t bothering you,” she said.

Felicity shook her head.

“No – It was just the message I needed to hear,” Felicity took a deep breath and smiled.

And so began a wonderful friendship, and the glimmer of hope that was able to grow.

My children’s books offer hope, and friendship. If you have little ones, it is always a good idea to teach those qualities early in life. Most of my books are either chapter books or picture books. They sell for $18 AU and added postage if you are outside of Australia. I try to teach a lesson in all my book, and often talk about endangered animals as well as giving teachers ideas for projects in the back of my picture books.

A chapter book about a lost black bird in a hostile environment. Another bird finds him, they become friends and Petey survives.
Two bees show consideration for all the hard work the Queen bee does and throws her a party.
A lonely Galah that looks for a friend and then finds his family again.

Reveal, Eyes and Discover.

‘Depression’ – artist Mykey.

One of the unseen mental illnesses is Depression – not the type of hole in a landscape, but a deep well of hopelessness in a person. Most of us have ‘down’ days or moments, but we strive to pull up our socks, put on our big girls’ blouses and soldier on. BUT … if you have a depression that is impossible to escape, you should seek help.

One of the problems with medical depression, is that the person covers it up with a smile and a facade of joyfulness. Think of Robin Williams for a moment. The outward personality, although, in hindsight we could possibly see as manic, certainly didn’t give us any clue to his inner turmoil. This happens with many people with mental disorders – whether it is depression, or other types of illness.

If you find out that someone has a mental illness – DON’T judge, DON’T ignore, and DON’T be embarrassed. DO give your support and ALWAYS be kind.

Now enjoy my short story that was inspired by both the painting by Mykey as well as by my desire to always be kind and supporting.

Finding Life.

Dave stood on the headland and looked out to sea. Below him were dark, jagged rocks. That was how he felt – dark and shattered. His life had no purpose. He felt unloved and completely alone. He almost smiled – at least the rocks had other rocks nearby and they were caressed daily by the constant touch of the ocean.

He turned slightly and looked behind at the green hills rolling away into the distance, always going up towards the sky, the light of the sun warming them.

But he was cold.

He took another step towards the edge. Could he jump? Should he jump? Would anyone care?

He must have stood there for hours. time, at that point meant nothing. Nothing mattered.

***

Susan wondered where Dave was. He had gone for a walk and hadn’t returned, so she put on her coat, wrapped her scarf around her neck and added a warm hat, then walked out the door.

The wind wasn’t as cold as she had imagined, and the sun glittered off the ripples of the water that stretched to the pale blue of the horizon. As she crested a slight dip in the path, she saw Dave. He was close to the edge, looking down at the rocks below.

She stopped.

What was he doing?

As she watched he seemed to move towards the emptiness beyond the cliff. She ran the rest of the way, clasping him around the waist, pulling him into her arms and away from the void.

He looked at her, uncomprehendingly, his eyes blank. They revealed a man at the edge of despair. She held him tightly, aware that he had begun to sob.

“I love you, Dave,” she murmured. “You mean so much to me, and you matter in this world.”

***

Although Dave was alive, it took weeks to help him discover the truth of her love. With support and professional help, he finally learnt to love himself and he finally found the joy in life.

She hoped that depth of depression would never come back to haunt his mind again.

************************************************************************************************************************

Should this story make you feel uncomfortable or depressed within yourself, that wasn’t the intention. Remember that to ask for help is not a weakness – it is a strength.

Children, too, can feel these emotions. Watch them, love them and support them. Reading to a child while on your lap, strengthens the bond between you, whether you be a Mum or Dad on your own, or a family with brothers and sisters. Families take so many different styles today, and wars and sickness and so many other things can result in a traumatized child. Whatever they face, make sure they always know they are loved and cherished. These books ($18 AU plus postage), may help them understand that things can go wrong in life, but these things can be faced with courage and determination.

Helen Heron is brave, and follows a strange helicopter. (a picture book for young children)
A baby blackbird finds himself stranded in the snow. Does he survive? (A chapter book for 8 to 10 year old readers)
Lonely and frightened Giddy tries to find his family (a picture books for young children)

Roses, Ends and Diversify

It’s been a shocker of a couple of years, hasn’t it? Not just for me, but for everyone. People have been trying to make ends meet, or keeping a business going, and at the same time facing a pandemic and government restrictions. From home-schooling the children, to wearing masks and facing mental issues through loneliness and stress from lock-down, it has been a change of lifestyle so foreign to all of us, that it has broken many people.

Unable, often, to visit loved ones, and seeing elderly family members facing the horror of the Coronavirus and the indignity of ventilators and maybe even death. All these difficulties have not helped at all.

So, try and remember to keep yourself and those around you well. Try and find the time to smell the roses, keep busy and diversify your interests.

If you are interested in any of the books or paintings featured in my blog, please follow the links below, or Direct Message me. Thank you.

Here is a gorgeous painting by Mykey, that has the marvellous message to slow down and do just that.

The story it inspired follows.

Painting by Mykel. (SOLD)

Perspective on the world.

“For goodness sake, Daniel, will you hurry up!”

Danny sighed and tried to keep up with his father’s long strides. But it was difficult. He couldn’t take his time and actually look at the world around him. At the speed his father travelled, everything was a blur.

Suddenly in the concrete pathway, he saw a smudge of colour. He stopped and bent his head to look. A fragile flower was struggling to exist in a crack in the pavement, but it was definitely surviving. Danny smiled and was about to smell the bloom when his Dad turned around, grabbed his hand and yanked him along towards the city building towering in front of them.

Danny blinked. He was just a little scared. Seeing a doctor when you never had to before, was a huge step to take for a small child of four. He stood and waited at the lift, clutching his father’s hand tightly. The doors opened they both walked in.

The jolt of the elevator starting caused Danny’s stomach to flutter with nerves. He hoped he didn’t upset everyone and be sick.

But the feeling passed and before long they were sitting in a waiting room, with several other people. Danny sat, swinging his legs, until his father hissed at him to stop. Then the lady at the counter told them to come into another room.

Danny was overwhelmed by it all. There were machines whirring and all sorts of charts up on the walls. A man came in and shone a bright light into his eyes. A nurse made him tilt his head, and dropped in a liquid into his eyes that made them sting.

Then they waited.

That visit was one of many in the next few years. An operation or two and many more examinations followed, until finally he had spectacles placed on his nose.

The joy of seeing that trees in the distance had leaves (he never knew that before) and the ability to see everything that others took for granted was amazing. To be able to stop and touch and smell the flowers around his home, created a life that Danny felt made all those traumatic visits to doctors over the years, so worthwhile.

When he was able, he thanked his father, but insisted, now that he could see so much better, he would always take time to appreciate the beauty around him.

***

A catalogue of books and art works is available if you would like to Direct Message me.

If you enjoyed this short story, feel free to visit my facebook sites:-

https://www.facebook.com/BooksByMaureenLarter

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

https://www.facebook.com/AlphabetanimalsofAustralia

Rejected, Evening and Decorations

The evenings of Winter draw around us. In the northern hemisphere it is time for eggnogs, Christmas sleigh rides and snowy outings. The Winters of Australia fall in the middle of the year, when we all are thinking about tax returns and the end of the financial year. Our Christmas is still six months away, and then it will be hot and weather for the beach. It is ironic to me that even so, our Christmas cards and decorations are colourful pictures of snowy landscapes, our Santas still dress in the warm red suits and long boots and we still expect a hot roast dinner in the middle of the day.

Fortunately, it is slowly changing.

Easter rabbits are now Australian Bilby’s, Christmas Santa wears a red swimsuit and his sleigh is pulled by Kangaroos.

However, our winter is still considered the perfect time for weddings and romance.

Below is a painting of a spider’s web by Patsy Seager. She challenged me to write a short story with a romantic flavour. Here is the story it inspired. As always, if you are interested in buying any of the art featured in my blog posts this year, please direct message me.

My facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/Sweetfields-Publisher

‘Web’ by Patsy Seager. $150

Butterfly Bravery.

 In the light of the winter evening sunset, Dana shivered, and stood looking at the web in front of her. She was heartbroken. John had rejected her.

The butterfly spasmed, and a large spider ran toward its victim. Dana couldn’t watch. She plucked the beautiful creature from its fate, dislodging a leaf that had blown into the same web.

That’s when she noticed the flowers.

Why was life so cruel? She had given John her heart and  couldn’t believe he had not felt the same.

She opened her hand and let the butterfly free. It flew to the nearest flower and alighted there, as if it was catching its breath, then with a daring leap jumped into the unknown. Then it fluttered away, disappearing into the gathering darkness.

Dana carefully took the gumnut flowers from the web and turned to walk away. Now the spider was bereft of its meal, and the decorations as well.

She sauntered down the hill towards the village, thinking about the next move she should make.

When she looked up, she saw John running towards her. She stood still, as if she, too was, like the butterfly, resting on its flower. What was she going to do?

“Dana,” John breathed loudly as he reached her, bending and placing his hands on his thighs as he panted. “Forgive me, darling. I can’t live without you! I should never have said what I did! I was so confused. But I love you … please take me back.

Dana thought of that butterfly.

The gumnut flowers fell to the ground. She took a deep breath and flung herself into his arms.

Available to buy – children’s picture books – a little about bravery:-

Helen Heron gathers her courage, and flies into the unknown.
Just like the butterfly is set free,
John Jabiru sets an animal free, too

Both books are AU$18 each plus postage. If you are interested. please Direct Message me.

If you wish to see other books written by Maureen Larter, or Published by Sweetfields Publishing, feel free to visit.

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

https://www.facebook.com/AlphabetanimalsofAustralia

https://www.facebook.com/BooksByMaureenLarter

Razed, Evicted and Destroyed.

One of the continual battles throughout the ages, has always been human leaders going to war. The need for more land and power, causes such leaders to decimate and conquer whole areas and peoples. It never seems to end.

In that process, whole villages and towns are razed to the ground. Original inhabitants are evicted from unlivable homes and culture, histories and customs are destroyed or merged with the new conqueror’s ideals. It seems, that in all that happens, no-one really wins.

Please remember, if you are interested in any of the books or paintings featured in my blog, please follow the links, or Direct Message me. Thank you.

This painting by renowned artist, Mykey, inspired me to tell the following story.

Flow

Loneliness.

I stood quietly next to my horse and gazed around at the beautiful view. On the horizon lay the verdant hills of my homeland. I placed my hand on Honehe* and the softness of his neck calmed me. The plain in front of me was covered in yellow grass, and the breeze sent shivers along the valley. The swirls of the grass reminded me of the beauty of nature.

The hunt this morning had been successful, and the family would not go hungry for a while. I hoped we would be able to store some meat for when the snows came.

I stood for a while longer, soaking in the silence. My brothers would be waiting in the village to butcher the buffalo and section it out according to our customs.

I turned to go, ready to leap upon the back of Honehe when I saw the dust in the distance. Was it a whirlwind? Was it a war-party? I strained my eyes to search for the answer before I raced off to warn the tribe.

***

“Oh, do slow down,” Sarah Martin said to her husband, John. “Just look at this valley! Isn’t it beautiful?”

Two tousled heads popped out of the wagon and looked around, but Hannah and George didn’t seem to be interested and they disappeared back into the comfort of their beds.

“The children don’t yet understand the importance of what we are doing,” John said, when Sarah frowned at the children. “We have made this journey to find a better life.”

“Yes,” Sarah said. “I just hope that we don’t get set upon by the savages that are out here.”

Just at that moment, Joseph Williams, their guide came gallpoing up.

“There are Indians coming!” he shouted at them. “Get armed and hide your wife and children,” he shouted to John as he continued towards the other wagons to give the same message.

***

Many months later, at a small gathering in the town they were settling into, Sarah said to Martha, at the general store.

“It happened so quickly, that I’m not sure if it was the Indians who shot the first arrow, or one of our party who fired their gun, but I lost my husband in the ruckus, and I hear the Indians were rounded up and sent off to a reservation. All we wanted was a better life.” She shook her head and Martha tutted in sympathy.

***

I bowed my head and trudged on. The tribe were dispirited and lonely. All I had now were the clothes upon my back, and one brother beside me. Everything else had been lost in the bloody battle that had followed. We had only wanted to welcome the newcomers to our land. Where we were going was unknown, but now my homeland was gone.

*Honehe is the Cheyenne word for Wolf.

I write children’s picture books, as well as chapter books. The two following books are about lonliness. ‘Giddy the Galah’ is a picture book about a bird looking for his family, while ‘Petey’ is about a bird unfortunately forced out of home and finding himself in a hostile environment. Both books are AU$18 plus postage, so if you would like one, please contact me throught a direct message. (https://www.facebook.com/AlphabetanimalsofAustralia or https://www.facebook.com/Sweetfields-Publisher )

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

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.