The highs and lows of the working journalist!

I’m happy to be a journalist. I’m actually happy to be a writer, full stop! But I like working as a journalist because it puts me out there in the world and then allows me to write about it and as an avid writer, I’m as happy as a rogue chook in a vegie patch to be doing something I love!

The upside of this kind of work is the variety. I meet some amazing people, some of whom are well known and see some amazing things and have clocked up some great advantages. Like a free ride on the local historic railway and some of the best home cooking via the local branch of the Country Women’s Association (“Have something to eat before you go…!”) and the Ladies Bowling Team (“Have something to eat…!”) and a miriad of other local events that inevitably feature food of some description which the organisers insist I eat some of before I head back to the office and work my magic as a respected wordsmith. I love it! It’s great!

I have also scored cuddles of cute animals, shook hands with minor celebs and been handed some fine snippets of juicy information and gained access to places that most people don’t and it’s all good fun. Plus I get to let my mind run free which gets my creative juices flowing and, well, talk about a dream job.

But then there’s the downside; like the very early morning calls because something newsworthy is happening and I’m the closest person with a camera to the location or there’s an urgent story and even though it’s my day off…it needs to be written and I’m deemed the best person for that particular article, which is actually pretty flattering. Or I’m just in the right place at the right time when something’s going down.

The reason I bring it up here today is because very early this morning the roof blew off our local pub! Huge winds tore through our little village and half the roof of the old historic pub ended up in big pieces all down the highway and someone had the forethought to call it in to one of the newspaper staff (who may have still been in bed herself)? who promptly called me because I was a lot closer, seeing as I live in the Village and all. Being very early when the call came in (and it being my day off), I was still in bed for sure, but managed to wake up enough to throw on some clothes and hot foot it up the road to the pub within minutes. Pretty good effort seeing as I hadn’t even had a cuppa and normally I can’t function without that first cup of tea in the morning! But hey, it was big news and all the emergency crews were there etc and I got some amazing pics of roofing insulation dangling from the wires of an electrical pole, not to mention the the pub itself with half its roof missing and what was left of the trusses waving forlornly in the still-strong wind!

But that’s life on the job I guess and if it didn’t have the occasional hiccup I could become too used to the perks of the job (those cupcakes a few weeks back were simply delicious!) and that would be a real shame. But I so do love this type of work and it’s still a real treat for me to see my own words and images staring back at me from a newspaper page, not to mention the satisfaction I get from seeing my own by-line!

Seriously! Never a dull moment!


The simple things in life…

I’ve rediscovered the joy of grilled cheese on toast. Seriously, for a fast, simple snack or light evening meal you just can’t go past it and now it’s got me thinking about all the other things I can put on two slices of toasted bread and I reckon I could write the book on it!

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy cooking and will happily put meals together from scratch but there are those other times when I just want something that’s quick and easy to prepare and whatever on toast works for me. Thing is, it’s been years and years since I’ve done the something-on-toast thingy and just can’t believe how I could have forgotten about it! No matter, I have found it again and it’s all good.

Anyway, being right into cooking I’m finding my imagine is fairly bursting at the seams when it comes down to toast toppers. Like, asparagus and avocado topped with cheese, sprinkled with poppy and sesame seeds and dusted with paprika makes for one declicious snack! So does Tasty cheese, ham and pineapple and oh my goodness…bacon pieces topped with sour cream and shallots! See what I mean about my imagination?

And it all started because the other evening I musing over what to do for dinner and the Universe or something suggested grilled cheese on toast. Just like that! It was quick, it was easy and it was really nice and it’s all rolled on from there. So, where was I? Oh yes, toast toppers. As I said, being a creative cooking type, my mind has moved beyond the simple stuff (like a couple of slices of cheese) to more culinary masterpieces like those mentioned above and it’s still going. How about thick slices of roast lamb, lightly toasted and then topped with natural yoghurt blended with herbs? Or chopped up roasted chicken pieces with sage and onion? Or topped with Italian lettuce and some fresh garlic or with a drizzle of garlic oil? What an ideal thing to do with what’s left of the Sunday roast come Monday night!

See what I mean? Very simple but very tasty and definitely a great meal. I just don’t understand how I could have forgotten about the joys of stuff on toast. Must have been all those years of cooking big family meals; I got so wrapped up in them that I completely forgot about stopping to enjoy the simple pleasure of a toasted snack. But no matter, I’ve got it now so I’m bringing it on.

Not that I’m going to replace every meal with these quickie meals. No, definitely not because as I said, I really enjoy cooking and will happily spend much time in the kitchen preparing and cooking lovely dishes but for those other times when I’m just after a quick fix, I will be so on it! Oh, these meals could come in so handy when the kids come home to visit too! They are still in the eat-anything-so-long-as-it’s-food phase so these will go down a treat I think.

Maybe I should write that book after all…!



Don’t mention Christmas!

Well, not yet anyway and I’m only saying this because someone did mention it to me just recently and my jaw hit the floor. It’s only September for goodness sake!

But then I realised that September is a lot closer to December than I thought and now I’m thinking of it at least once a day. It’s a funny thing but the Big Kahuna in December seems to spend a lot of time on the peripheral and then one day it’s in your face and you find yourself having a mini panic attack because you feel you need to step things up a bit to meet it before it’s too late!

Don’t get me wrong, I do like Christmas. I like the tree and the trimmings and the cooking and all the other things associated with it, even if I’m not plussed on the commercialism. In our house we like to keep it cosy and very family orientated and it works really well and we all have a lovely time, but I didn’t need the early reminder that it is only 105 days away. Only 105 days! It might sound like a lot if you’re incarcerated or if you’re hanging out for something you are really looking forward to but when it’s the countdown to something you need to get organised, it feels like no time at all.

So, I should start doing something, huh! Well, yes, I should and I seriously intend to make some sort of move towards preparing for Christmas so I don’t have to deal with it in early December when the rush is on and everyone is having a meltdown. Thing is, I have so many other things to do as well and I can feel myself beginning to to get a bit edgy. But why? Why do we put ourselves through it? Okay, most of us are traditional to some degree or other but should we give in to the pressure? No, we shouldn’t.

Last year was a bit iffy, I’ll admit, but this year I think I really will begin making preparations earlier which will make our laid-back cosy Chrissy so much more attainable and if we can have it in a new location because I’ve found my ideal place then all the better. On the other hand, maybe I should put off a house move until after New Year. Moving is stressful too and moving preparations can really throw a spanner in the works of making an early start on the Christmas preparations. Decisions, decisions!!!

Whatever, I think I’ll just play the whole thing by ear and see how it turns out. It should be fine and these things do tend to sort themselves no matter what and it’s not like I have to plan the mother of all Christmases or anything and as long as the kids and I can get together, what else matters?

I’m going to ignore the 105 days. Seriously….!

The chooks aren’t talking to me…

It’s true! They have taken to taking off when they see me now and that’s not a good feeling when I just love them! I’m guessing it’s just a temporary thing (I hope so anyway) and that they will get over it in a few days but right now it’s so not good.

I suppose they are still getting over the trauma of me catching some of them which were being collected by a friend and, well, none of them liked being rounded up, the ones being caught voiced their displeasure loudly (and with much fluttering and feathers going everywhere!) and the ones that I kept are giving me the evil eye. I’m guessing that’s because they think I’m going to make a grab for them next. Well I’m not so…

Thing is, I had a lot of excess roosters. Like, way too many and they completely outnumbered the hens and with spring coming on and the roosters thoughts turning to you-know-what it was turning into pack rape out there and it just wasn’t an ideal situation. Something had to be done. The other thing is that I was a real wimp when it came to having to do something like dispatching them. I just couldn’t, but I have some farming friends that could and I knew I could trust them to do it swiftly and humanely and they were then welcome to pop them into their freezer as there is no way I could ever eat them!

Now before you judge me too harshly, I did try very hard to relocate them to nice new homes where they could live out their lives in peace, surrounded by hens, but try as I might, I could not find anyone who needed a rooster or two…or four…despite the fact that I spent around 18 months trying to coerce people into taking them. But people just weren’t all that keen and in desperation I took up the offer from my farming friends because I’d run out of options. Oh it was a hard decision, let me tell you.

And now the chooks I have left won’t talk to me. I kept four of the roosters because they are very pretty and are good mates and I have seven cute hens and all the pack-rape stuff has stopped (thank goodness) but they no longer run up to me at feed time and I’m sure they are whispering about me behind the apple tree and if looks could kill, I’d be dead a thousand times! This is very distressing when I am a chook lover and I have explained to them that they have nothing to worry about but I don’t think they believe me. I didn’t even mention what was going to happen to the others and I’m am pretty sure no one else did either so I don’t get it!

I guess it was just the fact that they witnessed the Big Catch and have yet to come to terms with the fact that their numbers have been halved. On the other hand, those hens can walk freely around the yard now without fear of assault so they should be feeling happy right? No more perching on the roof of the shed just to get a break from being chased all over the yard by a pack of lusty roosters! I never mentioned “freezer”! Not once!

I gess it was the trauma of being rounded up and some of them being caught and not being there the next morning, or the one after, or the one after that.

But I so hope they get over it soon and forgive me. I miss them running up to greet me…(sigh)

Change is good!

Tomorrow is the First of September and down on this side of the planet that means spring! Thank goodness for that because I had totally lost my mojo over winter but I can feel all my energy coming back and with it, a whole new wave of creativity.

The main thing on my list is my Sandpiper Editorial business logo. I actually like the one I have but I designed it a number of years ago and now think I could do with an upgrade. The good news is that I already have my new design worked out and the even better news is that Daughter is a real wiz-kid when it comes to Photoshop and from our combined efforts will emerge an awesome logo.

I think it’s all part of the re-energizing thingy. Over the last few days I have been fairly hopping as the change of seasons approaches and have done such hyper things as rearrange the lounge room (again!), sort through my wardrobe, and am currently looking at re-organising my home office and a whole lot of other ideas that would have had me cringing under the bedclothes just a few weeks back, but that’s all changed now. Spring is in the air and I’m on a mission to shake off all my winter angst with the mother of all spring cleans!

And that’s where the new logo idea came from. I mean, if I am going to rearrange the house, the garden and whatever ever else is not nailed down then I should stretch it to coming up with a new logo design for my business and give everything a bright new start!

Logos are so important. They are the essence of your business, which is the essence of you! Especially if you are a one-woman-band like I am. But they need to be designed with care because you want to create something which is instantly recognizeable. The colours are important. The design is important and that’s where some people get lost I think. If it’s too fussy, it won’t work. Ditto if it’s too bland. The colours have to work because if they don’t, the logo doesn’t really work either. Fortunately, I know colours well and am a fairly good artist so…

I have seen some dreadful logos though and can’t for the life of me understand why the businesses that have them are still using them. But I have also seen some amazingly good ones and take my hat off to their designers. Some of best I have seen are for Jemalong Wool, Gumtree, and the Devondale dairy group. Clever, good looking, and very recogniseable. I also like the Apple logo. Again, it’s simple and it works and with all of these fine examples in mind, I designed my original logo and now, with all these fine examples still in mind I have designed my upgrade and I’m really pleased with the result. So much so that I think it is even nicer than the first one and a little more upbeat. I like it.

I just have to put it all together now and as soon as I have, I will upload it to my website ( and I’m really looking forward to it! I might even invest in a couple of nice-looking shirts with my new logo! New business cards, new other stuff….

But hey, here’s to change. It’s all good!

Have I become a Facebook addict?

Well, I didn’t think so but work committments kept me off my page for almost all of this week and as the nights wore on I found myself itching to get on to it to see who was doing/saying what and that’s when the penny dropped. I am a borderline addict. I say borderline because I haven’t reached the point yet when I get the shakes or the heebie geebies but I have to admit my thoughts kept wandering to my page and when I finally got on there this morning I felt a real rush!

This could be a worry because I never intended for Facebook to start ruling my life and I fear I could become one of those who have to check their page way too often in a 24 hour period. Feeling concerned, I voiced my concerns to a friend but she said I shouldn’t let it keep me awake because even if I do start spending too much time on there, I’ll eventually get over it and go back to signing in once every couple of days like I used to, not so long ago. The news was a relief.

Facebook is the only social network site I am signed in to and I did this mainly so I could keep up with family and also those friends who live long distances from me. It’s great! We can talk, exchange news and do all those other things that one does on such a site but I had no idea I was getting a bit too keen on it until I couldn’t find the time to access it this week. I’d be trying to concentrate on what I was supposed to be doing and I’d find my thoughts wandering over to wonder what all my contacts were doing on Facebook! This was so not good!

It could almost have me believing I don’t have a life outside of my computer but I do! I swear I do! I will actually seek people out just so I can talk to them face-to-face, which is a good thing as it keeps that particular skill alive and kicking, especially seeing as my work often requires me to interview people in real time and that is definitely a face-to-face thingy. But it’s good to get out and about in the real world anyway, that way you can check that it’s still there.

But what happened this week was an interesting experience and for the first time I can almost (not quite, but almost) understand how those who spend their entire life glued to their social network sites can get to that state in the first place. It sneaks up on you and before you can even think “Gosh! When was the last time I actually went outside and saw another human being?” it dawns on you that you have done no such thing in a very long time. Then you just forget that there is a world with people in it just ouside your door and then…well…you just forget everything. All that matters is the content on the screen in front of you. I so don’t want to end up there.

I probably won’t however, because I recongnised those little warning signs that began pinging when I was just too darned busy to pop onto Facebook earlier this week and then found myself wanting to drop everything and get online fast. So I keep telling myself it’s a temporary phase because I’m fairly new to social networking and that I will get over it, just like my friend said. I also keep telling myself that there is more to life than online chit-chat. Seriously, I’m telling myself three times a day now!

But when will I start listening to me…?!

Only two weeks to go!

Yes, that all. Just two more weeks until September which means only two more weeks till spring! Well okay, technically spring doesn’t hit until the equinox on September 21 but if you’re like me you will start kicking your heels up on September 1 because August (last month of winter here) is done and dusted and it’s all good from there on in.

You’ve probably got an inkling by now that I am not into winter. Yes I know I’ve said it all before but I really mean it, I detest cold and generally go into a decline around May and stay there until the back end of August and here I am today, shivering my bits off in the icy weather we are having at the moment but not feeling quite as bad as I would normally because the blasted winter is almost done. Sure, it can still be fairly cold in September too but the fact of the matter is that it is spring, despite what the thermometer might be indicating and that’s good enough for me. It’s spring!

Of course, some parts of the country are already getting a whiff of the warmer weather to come (and I am looking to move myself to one of those very locations) but I can wait a little longer for it to truly hit here and when it does I shall be blowing kisses into the skies, just to say thank you.

Winter is always hard on me because I cannot just curl up into a ball and hibernate. I have work. I have pets and I have to get out and tend to those things whether I like it or not so hibernation is not an option for me but trust me, if all of those things could look out for themselves from June to August, I would remain in my little warm space for three months straight and without a shred of guilt! Unfortunately they don’t so I can’t and that’s it in a nutshell.

Which is why I’m on the hunt for somewhere with kinder temperatures. Such places do exist and I can hear them calling me. Hollering for me actually because for the last week or so here we have had blustery icy winds, snow, biting rain, hail at times, more snow, more blustery winds and all those other cold weather wintry things that I really don’t cope with very well and I am well and truly over it. I want clear skies and warm sunshine and if I can get my bod to somewhere that has this kind of weather pretty much all year round I will be one very happy girl.

But in the meantime I’m stuck here. I’ll deal with it though because as I said, we are almost in September now and that’s spring down in this part of the world and the weather will be balmy until about March next year, by which time I fully plan to be Elsewhere! A warm Elsewhere and I doubt I’ll ever miss the climate I’m stuck in right now. I won’t miss it at all!

Just two more weeks….

The fine art of letter writing

Speaking as one who actually writes them, I can honestly attest to the fact that the art of writing an actual letter is not dead. It may be possible that I could be one of the few people in the world who still writes them however, but the fact that I do means handwritten letters are still happening somewhere in the world so, there you go. Not dead yet.

I’m talking about real letters. The ones where you pick up a pen and manually write with it on a nice piece of nice stationery, fold the pages on completion, pop them into an envelope, put a stamp on same and leave it in the hands of the postal service to deliver it to its recipient. I still write them and I still use nice stationery and I know the recipients appreciate them because they write back and the sight of a handwritten envelope amongst all the other mail gives me a real thrill!

Certainly, I use email. I post comments on Facebook. I type up business letters etc, but I have not forgotten how to handwrite an actual letter and just to keep the tradition alive I still do it. But it could end up obsolete and that would be sad. Most older people still write letters to friends and family but what will happen when they pass on? Will their children and grandchildren remember how it’s done? Will they even keep the tradition alive? Are handwritten letters destined to become museum exhibits one day, with people chuckling over the archaic communications of a bygone era? Oh I hope not.

Anyway, having been a committed letter writer for pretty much most of my life, I was always easy to buy for. Everyone could fall back on stationery because I would inevitably fall upon it in glee. In fact, I went through heaps of the stuff because I could not bring myself to write a personal letter on anything else, which completely ruled out ruled notepads! I mean, they are so basic! No flowers or pretty colours. No nice borders or anything and the thought of writing to a friend on something so base went completely against the grain for me. I just couldn’t do it.

Then came pens with coloured inks. Oh joy and bliss, because I had already gotten over the gold and silver on dark paper phase. In case you didn’t know, I am big on coloured inks and especially like turquoise blue. It’s so my colour! In fact they are all so my colours and I have several pretty shades on hand and those that know me well have just accepted that everything they ever get from me is going to come in some colour or other. On nice paper. Anything nice coloured ink except standard dark blue or black. I mean, why use the standard if you can go with a genuinely exciting shade, huh? I tend to email in colour too, but maybe you’ve already figured that out. It’s just a quirk of mine.

Anyway, in regards to letters and things, I still think it’s a nice way to keep in touch with friends and rellies who are far away even though I could just as easily email them. I think it’s because I’d hate to see handwritten letters become obsolete. Thankfully I have correspondents who feel as I do and between the lot of us we are keeping the fine art of letter writing alive and with a little luck, so will out kids and eventual grandkids and who knows, it may come back into vogue again! It’s not impossible when you come to think of it…we just need one popular world figure (or in the absence of one of those, some celeb or other) to decide that handwriting letters is the New Big Thing and hey, everyone will be going flat out to acquire the necessary tools and handwritten letters will be cool again. It could happen…

Not anytime soon I guess, but maybe down the track…


Sunshine and me.

I’ve long had a love affair with the sun. I just adore sunshine and the brighter and warmer it is, the better I like it. I have always been this way, which could explain why overcast wintry weather makes me more miserable than anything else I can think of off hand and why a bright, sunny day beyond the windows has the power to drive away even the darkest moods.

Funny thing is, even if it is a cold wintry day, if the sun is shining then so am I! Stands to reason then that I’d never make a good vampire. Even the thought of immortality (save for the unexpected wooden stake that could throw a spanner in the works) falls flat over the fact that I’d probably have to spend it in the dark. Not that I have ever thought of being a vampire or anything, just in case you were wondering…

We are in our last month of winter here (oh joy and bliss!) but I have to say, we have had some bright sunny days here that have even managed to be kind of warm (but only just) for a couple of hours here and there and the effect on me has been wonderful, allowing me to actually function in a fashion that I normally don’t exhibit in cold weather so, you can see what I mean.

So why am I still living in a place that has a winter season? Well it just happened that way but I’ve reached the point where I don’t intend to experience the next winter in the same place. I actually like the seasons so a truly tropical environment may not be what I’m looking for, but show me a place where the summers are long and warm and the winters are blissfully mild and I’ll a show you how fast I can pack up an entire household with lots of pets and move our bods over there!

And that’s what I’m currently doing. Searching madly for that place and I have several options that are all looking particularly attractive to a summer-starved writer who could write so much more if she was not shivering her bits off! I need warmth and sunlight and fingers that are not so stiff with cold that moving them around a keyboard is an activity fraught with embarrassing typos and worse! Worse as in one wrong letter and the whole word turns into something profane. I did that once on a typing test. The word was rucksack and…well…look, we just won’t go back there, okay!

Anyway, one reaches the point where one begins to feel a bit selfish about staying put just to fit in with everyone else’s schedule and I have reached that selfish point. Actually, I reached it a little while ago but managed to suppress it but not anymore. You are looking at a woman on a mission and that mission is to locate that balmy spot, shift everything over there and then subbornly down stakes for the long haul. Once there honey, I ain’t goin’ anywhere!

So there it is. I’ve even started the old pack and de-clutter as a way of alerting the Universe that I am ready to take a big leap to a completely new location and would appreciate any help, esoteric or otherwise, that said Universe would like to toss my way. I haven’t packed the kettle or anything, just stuff that I know I’m not likely to need anytime soon. It’s a kind of mental getting-the-ball-rolling thingy and it usually works.

Right now I’m visualising…and I just can’t wait!

Treasures amongst the trash

There’s nothing like a good clean-up to bring to light all those things you haven’t clapped eyes on in years, have managed to live without and then when they suddenly come to light you know you will never part with them. It’s the bane of every clean-up I’m sure and I’m as susceptible as the next guy when it comes to not throwing stuff out during a clear-out of stuff that needs to be thrown out.

I used to be able to blame it on the kids because they wanted to keep everything right down to the last broken toy but then they grew up and developed a ruthless gene which I’m sure they didn’t inherit from me. They can actually throw out stuff. Whole boxes of it to be honest and while I’m no hoarder, I do find I need to look at things just a little more closely before I consign them to the bin.This may, or may not be, a good thing.

Okay, if it is broken or missing something vital then yes, it’s tossed but I inevitably come across stuff that I have to think twice about even though I have not seen or used it in years. The thing is, I may want to use it now, seeing as I have just found it again!

What’s brought all this on is the fact that I just spent the weekend cleaning out two big cupboards with Twin I and inevitably, out came all sorts of things that have not seen the light of day in ages. Some of it I was really pleased to find again and I have definitely found a more visible and accessible place for them but to be really honest, we came across some stuff that had both of us wondering why we had hung on to it for soooooo long! Things that we had never really used all that much and would never use again, things that just should have been dumped a long time ago and things that had definitely seen much better days. It was actually enlightening and amazingly revitalising.

The thing is that most of us tend to accumulate things as the years go by and it’s not until you decide to tackle that cupboard or drawer or those boxes that you realise just what you’ve hung onto and it’s not unusual to find yourself asking “Now why did I ever keep that?”

It’s human nature to get all soft-hearted about some stuff because it belonged to your great-grandparent and then it’s been passed down and so on and, well, you’re not about to chuck it out, even if you don’t use it because something that’s been in the family that long deserves to stay there a bit longer. At least until it falls apart anyway but what about that bowl you really don’t like that Aunty Someone gave you? Is she really going to know if it ends up at the op shop? Not likely, but if she ever asks you can always come up with a reasonable excuse as to why it’s not on prominent display. Have one ready just in case she drops in unannounced one day. And do you really need all those shoeboxes? No. You don’t.

Nor do you need around 5000 elastic bands, various short lengths of string, foil offcuts and a lot of those other little bits and pieces. I mean, how come they got saved in the first place? What’s with the half dozen odd pieces of Leggo? And then there’s the stuff that you’re just no longer even sure what they are! I guess you did know once upon a time and maybe there’s a vague stirring of memory but when it’s all said and done…what are they? Bottom line here: If it is a mystery, it’s gone. Seriously, it’s pointless hanging on to something if you no longer know what it is, huh!

I must be getting better at it because I was tough. I mean, really tough, and more stuff went out the door than back on the shelves and I was really, really pleased with myself. And then I ran it up to the tip before I could give it all a second look and change my mind!

Next weekend? The chest of drawers in the spare room!