November Adventures

I apologise for there not being any posts on this blog for the past couple of weeks, but there has been much taking place – primarily the launch of my new novel, Ellenvale Gold. So here is an update of what I have been up to since the beginning of November.

On the 5th of November, I held the launch of Ellenvale Gold at Parable Bookstore in Victoria. My husband and I dressed in nineteenth century costume and tried not to smile for the many photos our friends wanted to take. My hubby was excessively convincing as an 1800s gentleman. (I kind of wish he could dress like that all the time!) The launch was a great success and I felt very encouraged by the support of friends, family and the store which hosted the event.

Afterwards, my children got into the historical theme and tried on our costumes. We thought they looked great. By popular demand, my husband and I dressed in the costumes again for church the following day, in spite of the 30 degree Celsius heat. That afternoon we celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary.

A few days later, we packed our family into our sedan and drove two full days to the Gold Coast in Queensland, where my family enjoyed playing on the beach and spending hours in the swimming pool, while I attended the Word Writers Fair closer to Brisbane.

Friday night I enjoyed the CALEB Awards dinner where I happily cheered on fellow writers as they won awards in their various genres. It was a pleasure to meet authors I had not met before, except perhaps online, and also to catch up with those I have met before. It was a wonderful evening! My friend and fellow writer, Paula Vince, took out the Fiction Prize as well as the Overall Prize, for her book Best Forgotten – so well deserved!

The fair on the Saturday was such a wonderful time of learning and fellowshipping with other writers. I even met some authors who live within half an hour’s drive of my home. Amazing! I’m looking forward to catching up with them again soon. The Sunday involved a marketing master class which I learned a lot from and must now put into practise.

With the conference over, I enjoyed time with my family at SeaWorld on the Gold Coast before we headed south to Port Macquarie where my in-laws live. We had a relaxing time catching up with them, and my son had his seventh birthday while we were there. He was treated to a boat cruise and had the chance to steer for a bit. He told me it was a 10/10 birthday.

One more stop on the way home included a visit to the rest of my hubby’s family where we had an early Christmas get-together. Now we are home again and trying to get back into routine. If only holidays could last longer…

Published in: on 24th November, 2011 at 5:47 pm  Comments (4)  
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The Life of a School Teacher

In doing research on anything historical for my novels, I often come across very interesting and amusing details about our past. As I read another blog post earlier this week, I remembered this morsel I had sitting in my drawer which I picked up at a historical museum. I have seen it in other museums since, but I always love to read it again. I hope you will find it as fascinating as I do.

Rules for teachers 1872

1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, trim wicks and clean chimneys.

2. Each morning teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session.

3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.

4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they attend church regularly.

5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the bible or any other good books.

6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.

7. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.

8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.

9. The teacher who performs his labour faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five pence per week in his pay, providing the board of education approves.

It seems a male teacher would have to be a regular church goer to get the best opportunity of finding a wife. I never knew going to a public barber shop could give rise to suspicion! And if you were a woman, you clearly had to choose between a career and marriage. How times have changed, and yet our teachers still have a difficult career.

Published in: on 8th July, 2011 at 6:51 am  Comments (4)  
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The Resolution Round-about

It’s the time of the year when people make their New Year’s Resolutions. Of course, the most common resolutions are: spending time with family, getting fit, quitting smoking and/or drinking and losing weight. I like to set goals for the year ahead, but I do not usually call them resolutions.

I kept a regular diary between the ages of fourteen and seventeen, and for a bit of a laugh I went back to read my goals…er, resolutions (as they were back then) for each year. At the end of the year I went back and ticked or crossed each one according to my success…or not. Here are some of them:

Jan 1985

  • I’m not going to be weird. (Failed. I have now embraced my uniqueness. :P)
  • I’m going to keep my room tidy. (Failed)
  • I’m going to try hard on the piano. (Passed)
  • I’m going to be sensible in class and leave the mucking around for recess. (Passed)
  • I’m not going to talk about (a certain boy) any more. (Passed – but what a crack up!)
  • I’m never going to listen to the radio again. (Passed – well for that year anyway.)

Jan 1986

  • I’m going to jump for every opportunity I get for singing. (Failed)
  • I’m going to get stuck into my piano and do scales every day. (Semi-passed)
  • I’m going to try and keep my room tidy. (Semi-passed)
  • I’m going to OVERCOME all my problems. (Semi-passed)
  • I’m going to serve God in everything. (Passed – according to my own judgement anyway.)
  • I’m going to get a job and a keyboard. (Got the job, not the keyboard.)

Jan 1987

  • I’m going to live for Jesus. (No review, but I believe I tried.)
  • I’m going to keep working toward my music ministry.
  • I want to get myself a keyboard. (Not sure if this is the year I got one, possibly.)
  • I’m going to do really well in year 11. (Passed)
  • I’m going to keep my room tidy. (Since it’s still on the list, I guess I failed again.)
  • I will start playing piano in church. (I believe I did…and didn’t stop until just this month.)

Jan 1988

  • I’m going to work really hard for my HSC. (No review again, but I did do well.)
  • I’m going to work really hard on piano. (I actually think I let it slide a bit because of my HSC.)
  • I’m going to keep my room tidy. (Probably failed – but I have trained myself now – it’s my kids who have the problem these days.)
  • I’m going to get even closer to God. (I’m sure I tried.)
  • I’m going to keep working towards my ministry in music. (I’m sure I did.)
  • I’m going to be very organised. (Not sure if this was a success or not – I am definitely organised these days.)
  • I’m going to get my Learner’s Permit! (Passed)

 Does anyone else have a record of old goals/resolutions they have made in the past? I’d love to hear you share. 🙂

Published in: on 30th December, 2010 at 9:20 am  Comments (1)  

Blunder Road

Life is an adventure. At least, sometimes I just have to tell myself that in order to remain in a pleasant frame of mind.

Last weekend, my mother and I made a trip to Brisbane. You’d think it would be a simple matter. Catch a plane, hire a car, attend seminars, catch plane home again. But no, it turned out to be more like a comedy of errors in the end.

Firstly there was the missed flight. There was nothing we could do, of course, the matter was completely out of our hands. A truck jack-knifed on the freeway and the police completely shut down said road. We took the first exit, but in spite of our best efforts we were late by five minutes. Thus we spent a whole day sitting in the airport cafe, conversing with each other, and watching TV cameras looking for passenger’s stories for a show. Well, we had one, but we were not brave enough to say so.

Finally we got to Brisbane and hired our car. I chose not to get a GPS as I had printed some maps. Hello! That was not sound judgement at all. We only made three trips where we didn’t get lost. Thankfully, I had my laptop with mobile broadband to get us back on track–but not until we had driven up Blunder Road several times–literally and figuratively.

In spite of our obstacles, we had a wonderful weekend. Now those of you who saw us walk in late every time know why! Feel free to laugh at me. I have learned my lesson. Next time, I will just get the GPS. Although, I did see a roadwork sign that said “Ignore your GPS”…  😛

Published in: on 10th November, 2010 at 7:29 am  Comments (1)  
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Diary of a Market Stall

Just for something different, I thought I would keep an hourly diary at the market last week, trying to take in the sounds, sights and smells.

8:30am It is fairly quiet today. The weather forecast is for a very wintry day, with temperatures as slow as fifteen degrees, thunder, lightning, hail and flood warnings. I suppose it is understandable that many stallholders probably just stayed in bed. Hopefully the customers have a different attitude.

9:30am The cheeky Romanian coffee-maker extraordinaire banters back and forth with me. Unavoidable since I am sitting directly across from him. He comes over and gives me a delicious shoulder massage and then tries to con a dollar per minute out of me. Scammer. He is lovely really. He’s already given me a hot chocolate.

10:30am The live music has started up now. They bring a great atmosphere to the market with the strums of acoustic guitar and mellow voices. More people braving the cold day now, too. I think the worst of the weather has passed now. Lots of laughter around. One friend has dropped by for a chat. And yet, I have not sold a thing. I reckon the people who buy books are probably where they should be, curled up with a warm blanket and a good book.

11:30am I made my first sale of the day! Finally. People are coming and going constantly now. I can feel the cold draft coming through the front doors, which are at least twenty metres away, wrapping its cold tentacles around my legs. Brrr. It must be freezing outside! One of the market organisers had a nana nap straight after drinking a strong coffee. Go figure!

12:30pm A few more sales which is encouraging. Children running around with butterflies painted on their faces, looking beautiful and innocent. The music has gone again. People are dwindling. The smell of food is making me hungry. Probably could do with a coffee too—I can see it staring at me from here.

1:30pm And more sales. Not too bad today, after all. The last people I sold to were Irish, with their wonderful accents. I’ve met some lovely people today. It’s getting quiet now as all the other stallholders pack up and move on. I suppose I should do the same…

Published in: on 22nd October, 2010 at 1:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bathtime Silliness

My kids love their baths. Well, two of them anyway. When daughter number two was a baby, she would kick and splash so much in the baby bath, there would be more water on the floor than in the bath by the time we finished washing her. Number one son would practically do the splits trying to get one foot in the bath, he was in such a hurry to get in.

Once they get in, it is very difficult to get them out again. Even if the water goes cold. “You must be a sultana by now!” I say in a shocked voice. They proudly show me their wrinkled fingers and toes.

Even if tea is ready–which is what happened last week. “Time to get out of the bath,” I called number two daughter, “your dinner is on the table.” Five minutes later, she was still splashing around. Ten minutes later, still in there.

I went in there and said “Listen Missy-Moo,” my little pet name for her, “if you don’t get out of this bath by the time I count three, there will be trouble.”

She just grinned at me and splashed around some more.

Then I spied something out of the corner of my eye and got a rather wicked idea. Well, perhaps mischievous is a more accurate term. The kids had left the super-soaker in the bathroom, filled with nice cold water. I picked it up, gave it some pump-action and aimed it at my little girl. “Get out of the bath, now!”

She looked at me a little apprehensively.

“Yes,” I said, “It has cold water in it. Out.”

She gave a nervous giggle, but I can tell you she got out of that bath, quick smart.

I think I might have to use that method again. Although, it may not be so productive in summer.

Do you have an example of creative parenting?

Published in: on 20th October, 2010 at 7:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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Road Trip

Everyone loves holidays. I presume so anyway. I especially love holidays which involve a road trip. Our recent trip to Adelaide was by road and I enjoyed every minute.

A car filled with five bodies and their pillows and activities to keep them from becoming bored. A small esky with nibbles and drinks under the smallest child’s feet. Maps and books. Music, DVDs and a laptop. It all made for a fun trip. (We won’t mention the smelly feet or the occasional escaped bodily function, which makes everyone lunge for the window-winders.)

Then there’s the views, some strange, some beautiful. Like, fields completely filled with yellow flowers, glowing golden in the sunlight. Mountains rising in the distance with low clouds hanging over them. Old buildings and ruins raising questions about the past. Old towns which seem to be all but deserted.

And, of course, the whole drive there’s plenty of time for conversation, great conversation, amusing conversation, thought-provoking conversation. And games – Spotto rated highly this trip, but we have done the overused I Spy. Other road games have been Alphabet Numberplates and Round Robin Story Telling (one sentence each).

Then, when I get home again, I wish I could just jump back in the car and keep going. Seriously.

What do you love the most about a long drive?

Published in: on 13th October, 2010 at 9:27 am  Comments (2)  
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Too Many Rabbits…

How many people love that Bigpond ad where the little boy asks his dad about the Great Wall of China? “That, that was, during the time of the Emperor Nasi Goreng. And, ah, it was to keep the rabbits out. Too many rabbits, in China,” was the reply. The next shot, you see the boy about to give a talk in class. How embarrassing!

But, you know, I’ve often found myself picturing my children telling their teacher all about where eggs come from, or how tomato sauce is made, and winced on the inside. You see, my hubby is very creative, very inventive and has a ready wit. So, when a question is asked, he immediately has an outrageous answer.

He talks about alien implantations and the bowel motions of elephants–all kinds of far out and often gross explanations. The children, poor little souls, glance from him to me (obviously hoping for confirmation…or not) and back again. They half-giggle, half kind-of-believe him, but really appear quite confused.

To top it off, he finishes with: “Isn’t that right, Mum?” Most of the time I just ask them if they believe him–if they think he is telling the truth, to which I get a resounding “NO!” But sometimes, when the mischief takes me, I disagree with him and then launch into my own very sceptical account.

I do wonder what my children tell their teachers, though…

Is my family the only family with crazy conversations, or are there more of you out there?

Published in: on 15th September, 2010 at 9:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Jack & Meg, Part I.

I set my time travel machine to 1848 and pulled up in front of a huge Georgian mansion in what is now known as Bondi.

To be ushered into the Fordham’s drawing room by the ever faithful Miller, was an experience in itself. That is, until I saw the grandeur which surrounded me. Such luxurious furnishings and dark oaken furniture, decorative tapestries and velvet curtains—it all said just how much a man of good taste Mr Fordham is.

Unsettled and nervous, I sat gingerly on the chaise lounge and waited, fidgeting with my iPod, until the esteemed couple appeared.

Mr Fordham’s charisma filled the room the moment he entered and Meg’s serene beauty matched it completely. I stood to my feet, at once intimidated by their presence.

They put me to shame with their humility and politeness. Mrs Fordham curtsied and Mr Fordham bowed over my hand, while I stood their blushing to my roots.

 Jack:                Are you well Mrs Deed?

He spoke with kindness. I suppose he saw my heightened colour.

Amanda:       I am very well, thank you. Just all aflutter that I am finally meeting you.

My stuttering must have made me look like a silly school-girl.

Meg:               (With a twinkle in her eye) Never mind Missus Deed, he seems to have that effect on everyone.

Amanda:       (Finally I found my smile) I have heard of his reputation. Do women everywhere still fall for him?

Mr Fordham laughed and Meg joined him. She rolled her eyes.

Meg:               Shhh. I am trying to keep the truth from him. I am afraid it will go to his head.

Jack looked at her affectionately and gently pinched her arm.

Jack:                Shall we sit? I am sure you would be more comfortable.

Meg:               Can we offer you refreshment?

We sat down together and I declined their hospitality, instead busying myself with setting up my iPod to record.

Amanda:       So, how are you both enjoying married life?

Meg:               I could not have made a better choice. I tease him about how the young girls still melt at the sight of him, but he takes no notice of them.

Jack:                I only have eyes for my little rogue here. I still cannot believe she agreed to marry me. I don’t deserve her, you know.

Meg:               Doing it much too brown, I think, my dear!

Jack:                (Sighs dramatically) Very well, she makes my life miserable. (He turns to Meg.) Is that better love?

Meg:               (Laughing) You will not get a serious answer from him, you know.

They are obviously very much in love. Their eyes say it all.

Amanda:       How is young Jonathon?

Meg:               He is four years old now. He’s very handsome, and very like his father, except for the big green eyes. He has a love for horses like his pa, too, isn’t that right dear?

Mr Fordham merely nods. He has strangely become quiet, but still smiles.

Amanda:       Do you have any other children?

Meg:               We have two girls. Winifred is two and Ann is six months. They are so beautiful.

Amanda:       Winifred?

Meg:               We call her Winnie for short.

Amanda:              Ah, as you once were called by the Sainsbury children. What a lovely idea. Mister Fordham you must be so proud.

Jack:      (Nods again) Words cannot express…they are a blessing beyond description.

Meg:     Jack has becomes rather mawkish when you talk about his children. Not an ounce of steel in him. Just like butter.

Amanda:              I see. We would say ‘sooky la-la’, I think.

Jack:      What…?

I cannot help but laugh at his expression. Perhaps I should not have used a modern term, because it diverted his attention.

Jack:      What is that contraption you have, anyway?

Amanda:              This? (I wave the iPod) It’s an iPod.

Jack:      Eye pod? Is that a new type of quizzing glass?

Amanda:              (Laughing) No. Capital I – Pod. It is a recording device. It plays music, too.

Jack:      (Frowns) How can music be in something so tiny? Impossible!

I plug the headphones in and hold them out to his ears.

Amanda:              Here. Listen.

Mr Fordham pulls a disgusted face.

Jack:      That is not music.

Oops! I played a rock track. I quickly found some classical music.

Amanda:              Sorry, Mr Fordham. Try this.

Mr Fordham’s eyes widen.

Jack:      That is astounding. Really quite remarkable.

Meg:     May I hear?

Mr Fordham passes the ear phones to Meg. Her eyes also become round.

M:          How is it so?

Amanda:              Many things have been invented since the 1840s. We call it ‘modern technology’.

Mr Fordham leans forward with interest.

Jack:      What are the horses like?

Amanda:              Well, horses are more used recreationally now, or for racing.

Jack:      (Looks scandalised) No! How do people draw their carriages and travel?

Amanda:              Cars.

Jack:      Cars?

Amanda:              Cars with engines in them which make them drive without the need of horses.

Jack:      Do you mean those steam engines I’ve heard about?

Amanda:              No. They’ve got better engines than that now.

Jack:      I should like to see that.

I fiddle with my iPod again.

Amanda:              I think, in my time, you would drive a Ferrari. This is a picture of one.

Jack:      (Shock and admiration) This is a car?

Amanda:              This is a ‘sweet goer’ as you would say. One of the best you can get.

Jack:      And it needs no horses?

Amanda:              Imagine the power of six hundred horses. That is how powerful it is.

Jack:      (Amazed) Six hundred! How fast does it go?

Amanda:              Up to two hundred and five miles per hour.

Mr Fordham is left speechless by this, but soon rallies.

Jack:      And this is a picture of it, you say? It seems as though I merely look through a window. Are you certain this is not a new style of monocle?

Amanda:              (Shakes head) Modern photography is in colour and very clear.

Jack:      A photograph? That is a photograph inside your I…Pod?

Mr Fordham runs his hands through his hair in disbelief and lets out an awe-filled breath.

Meg:     Jack, Missus Deed did not come here to talk about her time, but to talk about us. You should not distract her.

Jack:      Maybe so, my dear, but I think I would like one of those cars. Is it possible for us to travel back with you?

Amanda:              (I realised I had said too much about the future.) Perhaps I will have some refreshment after all.

to be continued…

Published in: on 10th September, 2010 at 12:18 pm  Comments (6)  
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I’m up, I’m up…I’m…not up!

I am a morning person. Most of the time, from the moment I awake, I am ready to engage in deep conversation, fun pranks, difficult questions and whatever else is going on.

Thankfully, my number one girl is the same. I can dive on to her bed and hear her giggle from under the doona. I can uncover her toes and tickle them and she is equally responsive. I can even rip all of her bed covers off and drag her onto the floor and she is all good about it. I think I dared to drip water on her once. She didn’t mind so much. She is a good sport like that. But, she is heading for teenage years, and I wonder how long until she boots me out of her room with a ‘leave me alone’.

Hubby-dubby and number two girl are both NOT morning people. Try and talk to my man and he either groans or becomes confused. He must have time to wake up properly before you can get intelligent conversation from him. #2 girl becomes highly offended if I try to tickle her awake or anything like that. I can only kiss her and stroke her hair and wait for her to wake up in her time.

Number one-and-only son, I think, may be a morning person, but as he is only five, I am still figuring him out. Sometimes he wakes up and immediately bounces around, talking a mile-a-minute, and other times he just doesn’t want to wake up at all.

We are all so different. But, that’s what makes family life so much fun. How about you? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Published in: on 8th September, 2010 at 8:29 am  Comments (8)  
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