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!!)

Reading, Everyone and Dangerous

Books are one of my addictions. I have six large bookcases, and they are all jammed with books. – I think the books breed. I’m sure I only had a few, but the next time I looked they had multiplied.

They are not all novels, although there are some. I have gardening books, recipe books, how-to books, information books, knitting books, dressmaking books and history books.

You get the idea, I’m sure.

It is a dangerous addiction that even my friends have noticed. The problem is, they give my books as presents now – which only adds to the general confusion.

My job, now that I’m retired, is helping anyone and everyone I know to publish their books, as well as writing my own books that I also publish.

You would think I would have enough of books – but every evening, before I go to sleep – I read. Reading is a way to escape the constant chatter in my brain, to imagine a life of others, to just plain enjoy the story that I am reading. Sometimes I don’t get to sleep until some ridiculous hour deep into the night, because the story has trapped me in its clasp and I just can’t put the book down. I expand my knowledge of places across the globe, as well as increase my understanding about all sorts of things – from the making of jewelry (‘Jewelled Path’ by Barbara Ovstedal) to Victorian English history ( in the romances of Georgette Heyer), from the wilds of Ireland (‘The Glass Lake’ by Maeve Binchy) to the Australian way of life (‘Beneath the Southern Cross’ by Judy Nunn) and the joys of children’s books – yes – because I write them, I read them, too.

My parents would laugh, and tell me I was hopeless – that I would read the back of a Cornflakes box if it was put in front of me. I was, and still am, enchanted by the written word. I can easily identify with the character in the movie ‘The Book Thief’. I become enthusiastic about causes like ‘Erin Brokovitch’ (although my excitement is contained within my own bedroom) and I cry and laugh with the heroes and heroines in fantasy novels like ‘Harry Potter – both the books and the movies.

How many others have this problem? Am I alone in the world, hiding inside a delicious story of some other author’s mind?

P.S. – my catalogue of books is on my second page of this blog – if you want more information of all the books I have – please email me at maureenlarter@gmail.com

Remarks, Essay and Dogs

Unless you haven’t noticed yet, every blog post has a title with R, E and D initials – the same as Read, Eat and Dream. Trying to make a cohesive, interesting and educational article with the three words is never easy – but it makes my writing brain really work hard.

So … if you are a writer, that would be called ‘a prompt’ and it is a good way to get your ideas beginning to flow. Whether you just make remarks about your every day life, or sit at the keyboard and compose a serious essay, it makes no difference – once you start it is always easier to keep going.

In my experience, any writing you do should come from a place of passion, and mine is that  every child should have the opportunity to learn. I try to achieve that in all my children’s books, even if they are clothed in a fantasy story. For example, my picture book ‘Dorothy Dog and the Dangerous Dragonfly’ (in the Alphabet Animals of Australia series) is about a dog that gets lost. I have projects in the back of the book (and every picture book I write in this series) that helps young children to understand the dangers of leaving the safety of home, as well as giving them ideas to follow up on insects, dog breeds, traffic rules and more.                                                         ( getBook.at/DDDDE )Dotdogfront

However, that isn’t all my blog is about – that’s the ‘READ’ part – but what about the ‘EAT’?

One of my joys, is growing food and then harvesting, cooking and preserving that harvest.

Here is a favourite use of potatoes when you have a glut of them. And that happens often when you grow food. Next time remind me to tell you what you do with zucchinis (courgettes)

Boston Bun:

1 ½ cup mashed potatoes

1 cup SR flour

1 cup wholemeal flour

bun

¾ cup sugar

1 tspn salt

1 ½ cup mixed dried fruit/sultanas

1 cup milk.

Icing:

1 cup icing sugar

1 tspn vanilla essence

1-2 tblspns lemon juice and water

2-3 drops food colouring (optional)

  1. Pre heat oven to 180-200°C.
  2. Place mashed potatoes in a bowl and add sugar. Mix well.
  3. Add fruit.
  4. Sift flours and salt together.
  5. Add to potato mixture alternately with milk.
  6. Place in two greased loaf tins or one large cake tin.
  7. Bake for approx 45mins.
  8. Remove from pan/s and allow to cool slightly. Ice while still just warm.
  9. Icing: mix all ingredients until it is a stiff consistency.
  10. Cut into slices to serve. Maybe buttered if you desire. Serves 6-8.

And of course, then we have the DREAM part!

The most important thing about dreams – and I’m not talking about the sleep variety – is to follow them. Make your life a better place, and it will follow through to the world in general. My dreams are huge, but I try to spread knowledge, learning and peace throughout the world. Definitely big dreams – but you’ve got to start somewhere!

With Kindness

Maureen

 

 

Re-think, Earn and Digest

pen2018!

My goodness, how time flies! A year since I last wrote here, so Happy New Year!

The last year has flown by and I’ve had a break from blogging. Time to re-think and begin my writing life again.

I’ve been lazy!

Well, perhaps that’s an over simplification. 2017 has been a year of obstacles. Not only have I had to re-adjust to a new environment, with my family splitting and re-forming in a new way, but I’ve had to contend with hospital stays and operations. My mind just wasn’t in the right place to write. But I can now digest all my new experiences and begin to return to normal – whatever normal is!

Now, in the years of retirement, what do I really want to do?

I’ve got two chapter books ready to be edited and launched. One is for children (at present the title is ‘Petey” – maybe you can think of a better title – let’s look at that at a  later date) and the other is for adults ( viewAuthor.at/MargueriteWellbourne )(written under my pen-name Marguerite Wellbourne, this is a novel about domestic violence – ‘Ordeal by Innocence). They’ve been sitting languishing in my laptop, waiting for me to polish and buff them into new books.

In 2016 I had written several more picture books in my ‘Alphabet Animals of Australia’ series for youngsters (  https://www.facebook.com/AlphabetanimalsofAustralia) and they’ve been in the hands of my illustrators. Now I can actively put them out into the world. This is the latest – ‘Kathy Koala’s Kerfuffle’ (soon to be available) and there are heaps more!Kathykoalafrontcover

I’ve also decided to write a series of books for my Chinese and Cambodian students after getting the experience of living and teaching in both countries.

‘Learning Basic English’ is going to be a series of 5 books – maybe I will be able to earn some pocket money to shore up my retirement pension. In all my books I am very conscious that the children should learn something.img214a

One of the things YOU can all help me with, is finding out what my readers actually want.

  • Would you like some short stories?
  • Would you like recipes for one? Gardening tips?
  • Would you like to have some coloring-in pages for your little ones?
  • Would you be prepared to pay a small fee for any or all of the above? How much?
  • What would you be prepared to give me your email address for if something was free?
  • If you could answer these questions, I will see that I can do this for you. I also want to commit to giving you an article here once a week. What information would you like from me?

Answer these questions, and I will be for ever grateful.

See you. Let’s start 2018 as friends, and spread knowledge, learning and peace throughout the world. Big dreams – but you’ve got to start somewhere!

With kindness

Maureen

Want to know more? send me an email at maureenlarter@gmail.com and let me know what you want. I will send you a little something free on your (and my) interest.

 

 

 

Return, Emergency and Diet

I’m home!

Back from Cambodia.

My return hasn’t been quite what I expected. Not that I anticipated a ticker-tape parade, or an award for services to humanity. I just wanted to come home, full of exciting tales, my loved ones around me, and settle back into normality.

What I got was a stumble from one emergency to another.

The day after I surfaced from sleep, my son’s knee suddenly went red – painful enough for him not to be able to walk – and so off to hospital he went.

Christmas day was a blur. My son had been allowed out of hospital for the day, but was still incapacitated and lay on the sofa with his leg up, antibiotics at his side. We were all tense and uncomfortable. I had only had a couple of days to ground myself back in Australia and I was still suffering from classic jet lag, and although my body was home, I’m not sure that my brain or spirit had caught up.

I discovered that my car had been involved in an accident (no-one was injured  – thank goodness) while I had been away. The insurance company, in its wisdom had written off the vehicle.

I was without a car!

Boxing day hit – and so did my stomach!

“What!!” It screamed at me. “You decided a diet of rich food as soon as you arrived home was a good idea???”

I went down with a bad case of Bali Belly (even though I wasn’t in Bali!)

Had I only been home a week?

Everyone was aghast that so much had gone wrong in 2016, and then 2017 began. Let’s hope that this year we can re-set the dials of life and the balance of calm will prevail.

1080p-happy-new-year-2017-wallpapers

 

Running, Expenses and Dangers

OMG! 14 days till I leave the shores of Australia.I am running out of time.

I am wondering, at this point, if this will be the last post for the year. The Education Centre I am going to may not have Internet service. Gosh! It might not have reliable electricity as far as I know. Mind you, the poor people in South Australia and Victoria

electric

The reason South Australia lost power across the state!

(Australia) have had it far worse in the last few weeks. I hope everyone is safe and can re-start their lives with a sense of thankfulness.

So far my expenses have run to the cost of my ticket and my travel insurance. I have never had insurance before, but if there are any dangers that come along at least I am covered.

So far the only thing that is NOT going to plan is my visa – so far I have had no luck getting one. The Cambodian Embassy in Canberra doesn’t seem to want to answer my emails or phone calls. I will try again this week – after all – as I mentioned before – time is running out. Let’s hope that will all work out well.icambodia

 

When I visited China I made the mistake of not getting recipes for some of the great meals I had. Hopefully, this time, I will be able to come home with some recipes to share – some of the food was delicious.

china3-246

Ice-cream to die for!

I will definitely have plenty of stories to tell. Travel is such a mind-expanding experience and I would recommend it to everyone.

It certainly makes you realize the value of your own home and country.

Looking forward, albeit nervously, to my adventure.

Speak soon.

Rice, Edges and Dumplings

I am beginning to get excited. Why, you ask?rice

Well, I’ve committed myself to eating rice. 

That statement isn’t altogether true! What I really mean is that I will probably be eating more rice in October, November and December than I normally would. And I’m getting excited because, while I’m eating it I will be in Cambodia, not in my safe little haven of home.paddy

I awoke at the beginning of the year and realized it was ten years ago that I had lived in China. It shocked me a little. Where had that ten years gone? Life was rushing headlong towards the inevitable end and if I didn’t do something soon, I knew I would use every excuse in the book to not do anything at all – you know the situation :-

1 – I’m too old to do that. (You’re never too old)

2 – I’ve got too much to do at home. (Home will still be there when you come back)

3 – I’m too scared to go out of my comfort zone. (You’re brave – go for it!)

4 – I can’t speak the language. (You’ll get by – someone will speak English)

5 – I can’t read the language. (Isn’t it weird being illiterate – but you can learn.)khmer alphabet

6 – There’s too much violence in the world these days. (The media exaggerates.)

7 – What if I get sick? (You’re healthy – don’t jinx yourself)

8 – What if … what if …

And so it goes – and always that little voice of reason cuts through the hard edges of your emotions, excuses and fears, and makes you feel foolish.

So I made a decision! I’m going to go overseas and teach, just like I did in China back in 2006.plane

Once that decision was made, everything fell into place.

So now I’m excited – I told you that at the beginning, didn’t I? – even if I am a little afraid.

Cambodia – here I come – swapping rice for the dumplings I loved while I lived in China, and the meat pies and sauce from good old Aussieland. Wish me luck – but remember – I really don’t need it – I’m going to enjoy every moment anyway!