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July 31, 2014 / diannegray

The birds and the bees

As you know I am surrounded by a menagerie of wildlife on the farm in Tropical North Queensland. Some of it can be pretty scary, but most of it is magnificent.

I was on the porch the other day when blue flashes in the sky caught my eye (it was before wine o’clock so I knew it wasn’t my imagination).

In the mango tree out the front I saw some cute little birds paying me a visit. When they’re flying you can see the bright blue under their wings. Once they land on a branch they’re perfectly camouflaged.

They are Rainbow Bee-eaters.

You probably can’t see them in the picture below unless you look really closely.

Tree

I’ve saved you the trouble of zooming in with the picture below.

Two Rainbow Bee-eaters3

These two weren’t talking to each other, and then….

 

….a third one joined in to say hello, but they still didn’t want to talk

Three Rainbow Bea-eaters4

…and then I spotted this one sitting all by itself watching the three ignoring each other

One Rainbow Bee-eater1

I don’t know what was going on in the bird world that day, but it would make a pretty cool story!

Have a great week!

July 28, 2014 / diannegray

This is not the Tour de France

Signs

Rant warning

Have you ever seen a cyclist hit by sugar-cane train? No? Neither have I and I don’t want to.

Who do you think would come out unscathed if a cyclist and a tractor hauling 10 ton of sugar-cane collided on a blind corner? Hmmm, the cyclist would come out unscathed said no sane person ever.

For some reason, unknown to anyone with common sense, a cycling club from Cairns has decided it’s a great idea to hold races on our country road. This would be fine if not for the fact that there are harvesters, sugar-cane trains, tractors and cars also competing for this SINGLE LANE road.

I don’t know about you – but I wouldn’t like to be hit by any of these beauties 

Large farming machinery

 

I love cycling, but this is NOT the Tour de France. It’s a fully operational farming area.

After my builder was nearly wiped out a few weeks back when a tractor hauling sugar-cane travelling at about 80 kms had to swerve off our road to avoid hitting a peloton* of bicycles, I contacted the local city council and the police. Guess what? Bicycle racing on farming roads during the sugar-cane harvesting season is not a legally approved activity. The police have advised the club of this fact, but they have chosen to ignore it.

Am I the only one who can see something wrong with the picture below?

Signs

*Peloton – a group of riders racing (because they’re racing they don’t have to follow the single-file rule). The photo below is an example of this taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Peloton

Because the cyclists ride in a peloton, even I (in my trusty little non-off road vehicle) have to leave the road (yes you heard me – leave the road) and drive on the pot-holed shoulder to pass them. If it’s raining, my car slides on the slick red dirt.

So if any cyclists (into this kind of stupidity) are reading this – please think twice about racing on country roads that are used by heavy farming machinery. Our farmers and their contractors are just trying do an honest days work without the fear of killing someone in the process.

Any kind of collision aint gonna be pretty.

I have begun taking pictures and videos for police of all offenders on my road.

End of rant.

Have a great week all and stay safe!

July 23, 2014 / diannegray

Working under cover

I was reading a post from Jo the other day when I saw a really cool picture she had created using Lunapic.

I’m trying to come up with a cover for my latest novel The Devil Seam (the final edit is taking me far longer than expected because I’ve been too lazy busy lately).

So I thought (to stop my procrastination) I would play around with the picture I’m thinking of using for the book cover. I used Lunapic to add this very cool water theme. Naturally, this won’t come up when I publish the book – but how cool would it be if we could publish books with gif covers!

 

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SO – then I decided to try it on my other books. Good grief – what FUN!

imageedit_2_2318779461

There’s a storm coming down that road!

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imageedit_4_4857657235

Nothing is clear in this life and EVERYTHING we’ve been taught may just be a lie.

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imageedit_7_4000262528My psychic detective can see ghosts in those trees!

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imageedit_1_3178860954

There’s a little bit of magic in those questions :D

Okay – I’ve got to stop mucking around now.

Have you ever used a picture editing site like this?

Must …  get … back … to … editing!

July 16, 2014 / diannegray

There are plots in them there plots

I’ve been sawing a lot of wood this week and still have all my fingers (and one very muscly right arm – just call me Popeye). The only injury I sustained this week was cutting my finger while preparing Beef Stroganoff on Sunday night (it was yummy BTW).

I prepare meals for M-I-L and F-I-L (mother and father-in-law) several nights a week because it worries me that they’re not eating enough and I guess this has triggered the Mother Hen strand of my DNA.

A typical day for me is:

  1. Get up at 4 am and check out your blog posts, read the paper, answer emails
  2. Make brekkie and lunch for hubby and boot him out the door
  3. Clean the house and then start on the latest backbreaking project (this week it’s cutting the tongue and groove timber to line the interior walls of the bedroom)
  4. Make dinner for M-I-L and F-I-L
  5. Walk the dogs to the creek
  6. Fall into a screaming heap in front of the TV and turn on YouTube to see what’s new in the world (there’s a load of weird stuff out there).

Notice something missing?

Um – I need another 6 hours added to my day so I can write.

My latest novel The Devil Seam is due back from the reader this week, so I’ll need to cut something out of my days to do a final edit.

I vote to cut out #3 Clean the house and then start on the latest backbreaking project. 

I can see you nodding your head and I’ll take that as an overwhelming YES result to my vote.

Anyhow – enough whinging about my poor time management skills.

I took some pictures during the puppy walk on Monday afternoon and it’s images like this that ignite the firecracker of my imagination.

Farming_1

A farmer was working his plot of land (you can just barely see the tractor in the distance) and I wondered what he was thinking as he drove up and down the field. I know him and there is an amazing story tumbling around in the background of his life. For those who have read Let Sleeping Gods Lie you may have an inkling of what I’m talking about, but it’s too complex (and would take several pages) to explain here.

When I took this picture I thought of his story and added a plot involving my little black Rottweiler, Kitty, (who refused to move out of the way for this picture). She already features in another one of my stories and I’m guessing she must be a muse (of sorts).

Farming2_1

 

I love the sky in this picture. It gives me the impression of a stormy event on the horizon of life. I may be rushed for time during the day, but my imagination is always on the go.

It intrigues me that every plot of land on the earth holds a unique story. Some may be mind-blowing and some may be ordinary – but they are definitely there and ready to be told.

I feel the same way about blog posts. Each is a small plot of virtual land where you can go to read stories about lives and I guess this is why I wake up at 4 am to see what is going on in your world.

Are you intrigued by people’s stories and is that why you read blog posts?
(or am I just a crazy lady)

PS – this is my 150th post! YAY :D

July 13, 2014 / diannegray

Moonset

I wake up early (yeah – 4am is my Eyes snap open. What do I need to do today? More hours required time).

For the last two days I’ve been laying floorboards in the bedroom and I can tell you straight up – I’ve got muscles I never knew existed screaming at me every time I take a step (and as my kids would say, “Don’t take a step then”).

I feel like I’ve done 10,000 squats and trying to get out of bed this morning was akin to taking a plunge off the side of the Grand Canyon.

The next challenge came when I tried to sit down in front of the computer, then stand up again to make myself a coffee (I’m trying to figure out how to get through the day without having to sit down and stand up and I’m running out of options).

But the good news is – all the flooring in the RUC is now completed!

Is it okay to drink champagne for breakfast?

Cheers :D

I was lucky enough this morning to catch the moon setting over the mountains to the west. What a beautiful sight!

moonset 1_1moonset2_1moonset3_1

You may have noticed I’ve put my name on these pics. I hope it hasn’t spoiled them, but I’ve found some of my pics floating around the internet. I don’t mind people using them as long as they credit the original to me.

Have a wonderful week all! 

July 9, 2014 / diannegray

The sky is never the same

I took some photos of the sky yesterday afternoon.

The smoke is the result of burning the sugar cane trash (dry leaves left in the field after harvesting). More than 80% of Australia’s sugar crop of 32 million tonnes is now cut ‘green’ (no more burning of the entire crop due to environmental reasons), so it may be difficult for me to get a picture of a full-blown cane fire this year.

I’m actually kind of glad they don’t have real cane fires anymore (the main reason being we have a big wooden house in close proximity to the fields!) But I remember standing on the back of a truck watching these fires. The reason we had to stand on the back of a truck was because the animals (wild pigs, bandicoots, wallabies, rats and snakes) that lived in the cane fields would shoot out at great speed and you didn’t want to be in their way! I didn’t like seeing animals frightened like this (yes – I’m a complete sook when it comes to animals). Also, my brother-in-law was severely burned in a sugar-cane fire many years ago. He survived with 70% burns to his body, but his companion in the field did not.

The sky changes every second here and it’s something I never get tired of watching.

Sunset 002Sunset 003Sunset 009

 

We had a friend from Europe stay recently. She was overwhelmed and said, you have SO MUCH sky! I thought this was kind of funny because I’ve never thought I had any more sky than anyone else on the earth.

Below is a closer view of one of these trash fires as they call them.

close-up

I’ve been trying to take photos of the night sky but have yet to succeed. And if you’re into UFO watching, we also see some very odd lights in the sky on occasion. I’m sure there is a logical explanation…

July 2, 2014 / diannegray

Herb garden magic

My writer’s nook sits at the back of the RUC. It’s a lovely little covered veranda with beautiful views of the mountains and sugar cane fields.

I love gardening and pottering around the 5 acre yard searching for fresh fruit and vegies, but I’ve been spending so much time writing my novels lately (yes – YAY) that I began to feel a little disconnected from the garden. My solution? Plant some herbs on the sill of the writer’s nook.

 

The picture below is what I now see when I look up from my computer screen (without the words, of course)… 

Herbs_1

 

…and when I look to my left I see this

Herbs_2

Are you wondering how they’re growing up so high?

I took the following photo from outside

Herbs_3

I bought some metal planters from the hardware shop, screwed them onto the timber wall outside and then sat the herb pots inside them. Cool! :D

The writer’s nook is next to the kitchen (hmm, handy!) so when I’m cooking I can just grab some as I go.

And the smell is AMAZING!

Do you use herbs or have any herb cooking tips for me?

Have a great week!

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