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September 11, 2017 / diannegray

The RUC Stairs

It’s been a while since I’ve given you an update on the RUC. We’ve been working on the front stairs for a few months with our trusty builder Mick Black.

I call these butterfly stairs, but I have no idea if that’s the correct term – I’ve just always known this design of stairs to be butterfly due to the separation of the lower steps.

I haven’t finished painting the balustrade yet, and probably won’t until next year. The reason for this is that I’m going interstate soon and I don’t know how long I’ll be away – but, believe me, I’ll stay in touch with some very exciting news.

Until then…

Enjoy the building of the RUC stairs in pictures.

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***Have a great week!!!***

August 22, 2017 / diannegray

Some tropical fog

It’s been a lovely cool winter here in the Australian tropics. This type of weather is something I savour before that dreaded tropical summer blasts its way into our lives.

I took this photo from my front porch at 6:00 this morning . My trusty thermometer revealed it was 12 deg C (or 53 deg F).

Foggy morning in the tropics

The front stairs of the RUC are almost finished so I’m hoping to get the before and after shots up here within the next week (fingers and toes crossed).

I felt like the paparazzi the other day when I was taking shots of the birds. Is this the angriest bird face you’ve ever seen?


I didn’t realise how cranky that little guy looked until I was going through all the photos I took that day.

Have a great week – and (hopefully) I’ll have pictures of the RUC stairs in my next post.

July 17, 2017 / diannegray

Life in threes

When I visit my local op shop I’m always on the lookout for things that come in threes. I wasn’t always this way, but kitschy things from the ‘60s and ‘70s seem to come in sets so I’ve kind of fallen back into the trend.

Here are some of my threesomes (ok – not a great word for this family-style blog, but it’ll do).

Budgies on branchMy latest acquisition – three budgies on a piece of wood

Flying ducksThree  flying ducks on a part of the unfinished kitchen wall. They have fallen off a few times and broken, so I just keep sticking them back together again!

Happy ElephantsThree happy elephants

Salt, pepper and toothpickSalt, pepper and toothpick thingy

Kitten angelsThree kitten angels that came out a bit blurry in this shot.

Three jarsThree jar things and I have no idea what to do with them – other than let them sit on a shelf

Graciela Rodo Boulanger _ Holiday on WheelsGraciela Rodo Boulanger _ Holiday on Wheels
I bought this at the op shop for $10 because I liked the three ladies on pushbikes. But once I got it home and took a good look at it I realised it’s probably worth a whole lot more than I paid for it. It was framed in the 70s and I need to have it appraised to keep my mind at ease that it’s not an original (or I’ll have to add it to my home contents insurance!) 😀

***Have a great week with all good luck coming in threes!***

June 20, 2017 / diannegray

Cows are home, birds are fed

Things have been crazy busy around the RUC in the past few weeks. I pulled up the floor in the spare room last week and am now in the process of raising it by about 2 centimetres (or half an inch). The floor had a distinct sag in it (even though it was built with all new wood) because the beams on the edge were thicker than the ones in the middle – like some of the builders who didn’t notice the difference when they laid them.

I noticed when I drove to town the other day that all the cows were safely back in their paddock so I don’t have to worry anymore about riding one home after dog walk. Those cows certainly added some excitement around here (as did the cowboys).

The bird bath/feeder my neighbour made for me is a HUGE hit with the birds. Check them out below.



Hey buddy – what are you lookin’ at?


Um yes – my lawn needs mowing, but aren’t they cute! And I think they’re here to stay.

***Have a great week!***

May 18, 2017 / diannegray

Cowboys and bikers

Just over a year ago I wrote about a calf I saw in the paddock of a property close by. Here’s the picture of the little cutie.


I put that picture in this post because something weird happened here on Saturday night – something to do with cows (and I didn’t get pictures).

I need to set the scene:

It was Saturday afternoon.  A cattle truck drove down our road to the left. That road goes nowhere, there are another two sugar cane farms and then nothing but mountains, and behind those mountains is the blue Pacific. Hubby and I thought the driver must have been lost because the farm with the cattle on it (as per the picture above) is in the other direction.

Then all our power went off.  I checked the electricity provider’s mobile site. Unknown fault, Unknown timeframe. Blackout. Great.

We sat on the front porch watching the sunset (our regular end-of-day routine). Then several cowboys on quad bikes and a few cars we didn’t recognize drove by. That was odd – but it was Saturday Night Wine Time, so we didn’t take much notice, until…


Some newly delivered cattle had run through a break in the fence on the other farm, taken to the mountains, and ended up at the dead-end of our road.

There were cattle running around the road and in and out of the sugar cane paddocks. The cowboys on quad bikes were trying to round them up.  Cattle ran through the yard and the dogs went ballistic. The fact that there are so many farm dogs around here made the cowboys job difficult. All our dogs are fenced, but that doesn’t stop them from barking.

Due to the blackout we couldn’t turn any of our house spotlights on to assist in finding the poor cows, so the evening was full of flashlights and torches and car lights trying in vain to find them.

The problem was (and still is) that the sugar cane is taller than the cattle, so as soon as they get in they can’t be seen.

Sneaky little cows…

So the most part of the night was spent searching for cattle and then watching others search for cattle while we finished off our bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

They didn’t find them all so we’re still searching – don’t be surprised if I post a picture of me riding a cow home after dog walk.

Then on Sunday my neighbour, Joey, took me for a ride on his Harley. I was a bit tentative at first because I was sure we’d get half way down the road and hit a stray cow. Luckily that didn’t happen!

We went for a ride to Cairns down the long open road that leads to the city from our farms. A favourite scene of mine from Let Sleeping Gods Lie kept popping into my head – “She clung to him as he opened the throttle. The road lay out in front of them like a party streamer.” 

It was an amazing experience. I’ve only been on a motorbike twice before (many years ago) and I’ve never been on a Harley.

I’ve decided it was so good I’m going to do it again some day.

Harley Davidson1

I think we look pretty tough 😀

***Have a great week!***


May 8, 2017 / diannegray

Somewhere over the rainbow

I spotted this magnificent rainbow during the dog walk around the farm on Thursday. I captured it with my iPhone (which I hate because the pictures aren’t nearly as good as my old Samsung). I’ve written about this in my blog posts before and can’t wait for my iPhone contract to expire next February so I can get my hands on another Samsung. The colours of the rainbow didn’t come out as well as I thought they would. Also, the rainbow was so wide I couldn’t get it all in one shot.


It was all going swimmingly until the cloud beneath that rainbow decided to dump on our heads! Needless to say we had to make a run for it to escape the tropical storm. You’ll be pleased to know we survived and I took a nice warm shower when I got home.

I regularly visit one of my neighbours for morning coffee, so the following day I took a photo of a beautiful tree in her yard. Again, the iPhone doesn’t do it justice, but you can probably understand why I found this tree so mesmerizing.


***Have a great week!!!***

May 1, 2017 / diannegray

Dianne and the Pumpkin Vine

One of hubby’s friends from work gave us a pumpkin from his garden a few months back. It was so yummy I kept the seeds and planted them at the front of the RUC.
Well, I’m sure you’ve heard of Jack and the Beanstalk – we now have Dianne and the Pumpkin Vine.

Pumpkin Vine

This baby has decided it just wants to cuddle the front of the RUC. It’s trying to make it’s way to the first floor!

There are biggish pumpkins

Big Pumpkin

And littlish pumpkins

Baby pumpkin.jpg

and flowers…

Pumpkin Flower

…some with native bees on them
(can you see that cute little native bee? They don’t sting and they make the BEST honey)

Flower and native bee

And to add colour to the garden, the hibiscus are blooming in orange, and…



Hibiscus 2

It’s almost winter here and I’m loving the cooler weather.

I’ve only got one question – how do I know when a pumpkin is ripe enough to pick?

***Have a great week!***

April 23, 2017 / diannegray

Pulling cobwebs from dragonfly wings


Photo by Aka 

I had a strange experience the other night. I noticed a dragonfly on my front porch that was struggling to get to its feet so I grabbed some cling wrap and wrapped it loosely so I could pick it up and take a better look. I could see its feet were wrapped in cobwebs so I made a hole in the plastic and carefully removed the web until its feet were free. I unwrapped it from the plastic and (you’d think that would be the end of this story and the dragonfly would fly away, etc… but not so) something odd happened.

Once the legs were free it flew awkwardly at my face, so I put my hand up and it landed on my hand with its wings shivering.  That’s when I noticed its wings were also covered in webs. I gently pinched the end of one web hanging from its wing and began to pull. The dragonfly stuck tight to my hand and shook only that wing as I pulled harder to remove the web.  Once that was clear I started on the other wings until all four were clear of webs. This entire time the dragonfly clung tight to my skin and only shook the wing I was working on at the time to help rid itself of every speck of web.  This process took about twenty minutes. When I’d finished, it tested each wing and then flapped them all at once. It then sat there for a moment looking at me before flying off into the night.

I know I tell you that I love animals and they seem to be attracted to me (I wish the snakes weren’t), but this experience took things to a whole new level and gave me a feeling I’ve never had before.  My hubby and my neighbour were watching all this so intently that neither of them thought to film it! Hubby said, “I knew you were Snow White, but this is ridiculous.”

 I had the distinct impression that this dragonfly knew I was helping it.
But it’s an insect – how could it possibly know?

Have you ever experienced a strange animal or insect look at you as if they understand what you’re doing – or am I just turning into a crazy dragonfly lady? 😀


April 10, 2017 / diannegray

The Thoughtful Present

Last week I mentioned to my neighbour (Joey) that I’d been looking for an old tractor disc so I could convert it into a bird bath.  He said he’d search around his shed and let me know.

Much to my surprise he arrived on Thursday afternoon and presented me with a tractor disc he had welded to some old iron legs – and not only that, he’d found some chain left over from the horse and cart days that he attached to a piece of wood he chiselled out so I could place bird seed underneath!

I often talk about thoughtful presents and have been asked a few times what this actually means. The thoughtful present is precious because of the personal value, the care and attention that’s gone into it, the symbolic meaning, and the practicality.

I’ve known Joey and his mother for about 30 years. He now runs the family farm as well as working another job and caring for his mother in her old age. I often visit her, help out where I can and take her to lunch and shopping. He tells me how much he appreciates this, but it’s no trouble at all – I know he’s under a lot of pressure and I love his mother very much. I believe that everyone deserves dignity, respect and assistance as they age and can no longer do the things they were once able to do with ease.

I love my new bird bath and can’t wait to put it to the test!

Let me know what you think of it
and if you have ever received a thoughtful present.

Bird bath

***Have a great week***

March 26, 2017 / diannegray

Shopping, house approval, and a gold star (sorry, ‘star’ should read ‘spider’)

I went shopping today and I don’t know who wrote/approved the sign at Woolworths, but it certainly had me confused (and a few of the staff). So I got two avocados and they cost me nothing because the signage was wrong. Don’t you just love a freebie?

Avocado price

But the big news this week is that the RUC is now fully approved and signed off. I know I’ve been a stranger here lately, but there’s been a lot to organise. There’s still work to do on the incidentals (like painting) but the long hard road of getting the place up to scratch and officially signed off has been worth it.

Glasses of champagne all round!


Before the final inspection of the house I saw this beautiful gold spider (I wonder if it bought me luck). It’s tiny (about half the size of my little fingernail) so don’t let the close-up picture scare you. The photo doesn’t really do it justice because it looked like solid gold.

Gold Spider1

And for all those people (including family and friends) who live not far to the south of me I hope you stay safe as Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie approaches the coastline.

Sending love and strength to you xxxxx

Cyclone Debbie



February 21, 2017 / diannegray

Fjord Blue

I’ve had a busy and rather eventful break over the holidays – yes I know I’m a little late returning back to the fold but life got in the way. In early February I got some kind of hideous allergy and my eyes went red and bulged like a goldfish – and if that wasn’t bad enough, hubby got an infection on his knee and spent the first half of the month laid up in hospital. He likes to think he’s super so when they told me he had an antibiotic-resistant superbug in his leg I knew he’d gone just a little too far this time.  I couldn’t drive in to visit him because of my eyes, but my neighbour graciously took up the cause and acted as my chauffeur (thanks Joey).

After a load of antihistamines for me and a good team of doctors working around the clock for hubby, we’re both back to normal and getting on with things. All that nearly came to an end on our first dog walk after hubby came out of the hospital when he accidentally trod on a black snake – luckily it slithered off into the bushes as soon as he lifted his foot off its back. I’m sure he has nine lives!

I was really happy to receive a wonderful review from Jacqui Murray for my novel Wolf Pear. Jacqui is the author of To Hunt a Sub and Building a Midshipman and she gives awesome tips on writing, as well as sharing great descriptions and quotes on her blog WordDreams.

I’ve now got a balustrade on my ‘under-house’ stairs so there’ll be no more gripping onto walls for me as I run down to hang the clothes on the line. The fjord blue colour features a lot on the rails and doors on the outside of the RUC and is in keeping with the original Queenslander design of the house.


I hope everyone out there is well and got off to a better start to 2017 than we did.

***Have a great week***

November 18, 2016 / diannegray

Red and Green Week

Everything seemed to be going red and green this week. I had three sets of Red Finches hatch at the RUC. There were four nests but unfortunately I saw a snake in one on Monday night and by the time I pulled it out (yes, you read that right) the finches were gone (I was sad but I guess snakes have to eat too).

But the others all fledged and are now healthy and chirping around the cane fields.


This cute little guy (below) opened his mouth when I was taking my shot. I wonder if he was yelling at me because I couldn’t save his cousins?

Red Finch Mouth Open.JPG

Here are their nests. The first is a ‘before it’s fitted out’ shot.

Nest before.JPG

And the next one is ‘after the birds have flown the coop’ shot.


I bought the nests at a town & country shop close by for under $5 each. They’re pretty cute!

Now for some green

This little guy didn’t jump on me when I took his photo – so I was pretty grateful for that!


The Lichee trees are in full fruit and they’re very red and green!

The night of the election a spider jumped in my salad (I didn’t know if the spider or Trumps win gave me a bigger fright). I didn’t put the picture here because I thought it may freak you out too much – but I did tweet it if you’re brave enough to have a look. What a waste of a delicious salad! I had to have ice cream for dinner instead.

***Have a lovely week no matter what colour yours is!***

November 4, 2016 / diannegray

Guess what I found on the back of my pants?

When I returned home from my grocery shopping on Thursday I brushed my hand over the back of my pants and found this:


It’s some kind of plastic diamond sticker. I figure I probably sat on it when I had my coffee at the mall. I felt so stupid special. I’m sure most people at the mall would have thought I was starting a new trend.
“Wow! there goes the lady who sticks plastic diamonds on her bum! I want to be just like her.”

Apart from this making me enormously popular, my week was interesting – so here are some titles:


A Spider Ate My Mouse (Horror) – What is happening in the small town of Rucville? A woman battles a hairy eight-legged force who takes up residence on her computer mouse. Does she finish her novel, or run screaming from the house to fight again another day?


Sleepless in the RUC (Action) – A local resident stands against teens who decide to try out their new four wheelers at all hours of the night. Can one man really scare off these jokers? You bet!


Water! (Drama) – When a tractor catches fire the driver decides to head straight for the RUC to find water. The lady of the house is not impressed (unfortunately I didn’t get photos).


The Diamond  Buttock (Comedy) – How long can one woman walk around with a diamond stuck to her bottom when she’s not Kim Kardashian?  Will she ever be able to find the diamond’s rightful owner?

Thanks to those who played along last time I did my Week in Titles. Marsha Ingrao and Irishnana and (of course) the lovely boss-lady who inspired me, Jo (who doesn’t have a website so I can’t link here).


Before I sign off – I’ve changed my book covers for hard copy on Creatspace. Take a look on the right of the screen and let me know what you think       ➡ ➡ ➡


***Have a great week!***

September 26, 2016 / diannegray

My Week in Titles

I don’t know about you, but I really start to struggle when I know I have to name something (a child, a book, a poem, a pet…), but some people can pluck fantastic names out of thin air and it seems effortless to them. Grrrrr

When I worked full time I had a wonderful manager who was organising training for the team and she asked me to write two lists:

  1. Work I’m really good at and love doing
  2. Work I’m not so good at and don’t like doing

She tricked me because she took all the things from my #2 list (like mathematics, finance and contract management) and enrolled me into training. Had I been smarter like one of my colleagues (who said they didn’t like writing, sending emails and internet searches) I would have been enrolled in some really fun courses.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how wonderful my manager was and how she steered me towards some great career goals – so I decided to write my own #1 and #2 lists to see how much my life has changed over the years and maybe get stuck into some new forms of training.

The first words to come up in my #2 list were naming things and writing titles.

Hence, the name of this post. For each day of last week I wrote a title for a book or movie and just for fun I added a genre and short description (short descriptions also give me the cold sweats).

Here goes:


Dog Fight (War) – All hell breaks loose when an elderly man finds a box of old bones in his freezer and throws them to the dogs under a house called the RUC.


The Horses of Cane (Comedy) – When two horses escape and declare the sugar cane fields their new race track the farmers can only look on in disbelief (with hilarious ‘R’ rated out takes).


Children of Satan (Horror) – A trip to The Mall becomes a nightmare for an unsuspecting shopper when she realises its school holidays.


The Pudding Burned (Romantic Comedy) – A gas cooktop provides a valuable lesson for a married couple on how to work together when a tea-towel catches fire.


Leap (Thriller) – A man discovers how high he can jump when a red-bellied black snake crosses his path.  On landing, he is shocked to learn his wife can run faster than Usain Bolt.


Seed (Crime) – Who is stealing the bird seed? The twist in the end will shock you!


The Line (Drama) – One woman’s struggle with a clothes line in desperate need of repair will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Which one would catch your attention of it was a movie or a book?
(you can say none of them and I promise I won’t be offended)


That’s enough silliness for now. If you feel like writing your week in titles just link back to this post and I’ll link you into my next post.

Here is a picture of the horses that escaped and caused chaos to the farmers on Tuesday.



***Have a great week!***

September 5, 2016 / diannegray

I’ve been busy painting my face blue


image2I had a lot of fun with my son and his partner Hannah on their recent visit to the RUC. Between cooking up a storm and visiting the sights, we took silly photos of each other (hey – what else is there to do in the country?)

I’ve also spent the last four weeks going through every one of my novels (with a fine tooth comb) and reformatting them to sell on Create Space. What a job!

My problem with the novels stemmed from three years of technical disasters. After two laptops dropped dead on me I realised this had left me in the position of having no original copies of my work (now I save everything to disk and a second external hard drive). So I had to go onto the web, download the PDF files and reformat them into Word docs. This may sound easy for some, but not so for this untechnical blue-faced hen. If you ever need to do this, ask me in the comments section and I’ll give you my hints and tips.

The only good thing about this excruciating exercise was that it gave me the opportunity to read my novels word for word (yes, the formatting stuffs up when you convert from PDF to Word) and I really enjoyed rediscovering the stories. If you’re a writer and it’s been over three years since you published your book I highly recommend reading it again.

I’m feeling a little blue now that they have headed home so I thought this ‘blue’ photo Hannah took would suit this post just fine.

***Have a great week!***

August 1, 2016 / diannegray

Strange little friends


Since the guinea fowl suddenly turned up on my doorstep just over a month ago I seem to have attracted another type of bird. I’m sure they are some kind of finch, but I can’t identify their variety (and there are hundreds of them).

Brown finches The males appear to have a salmon coloured breast. They’re very cute little things and love to sit outside the Writer’s Nook and watch me write (oh yes, it can be a little off-putting at times because I want to photograph them!).

Maybe they’ve arrived en masse to protest because I’m writing a story about a cat (which I was inspired to do by some of you after I posted the photo of the cat moon. Thank you!)

Here’s another finch, You can’t see it’s colours, but I loved the fact that it was sitting on the sugar cane flower just before sunset. Now that’s what I call relaxation!

Brown finch

The finches I’m used to seeing are the crimson ones (like the one I took last year of ‘Elvis’ below).

Red Finch Elvis

Also, the Bee Eaters are back and I managed to capture this one gazing thoughtfully across the freshly cut sugar cane.

Bee eater

I don’t have a name for my ‘cat’ novel yet, but I can tell you one thing – I’m really enjoying writing it!

***Have a great week!***

P.S – the guinea fowl are settling in very well.