When black is blue, purple, green, yellow and brown

It’s a complete misnomer really.

A black eye encompasses so many pretty colours, but it’s not at all a pretty experience to wear it. I’m fortunate to have large black frames on my glasses which hide a lot of the damage, but still, I’ve had second glances and the odd pitying look. I feel like getting a sticker for my forehead:

Eye surgery, 
not domestic violence

This one is for those of you who asked if you’d be seeing the black eye. It may yet get larger, but maybe not; the eye doctor was very quick and deft, so this might be it. He said a week to ten days before it’s all gone and the swelling is down.

Still not seeing well out of this eye yet, but it’s improving. Back to the sewing machine in the next couple of days, I hope, and the hand sewing in about a week, I reckon. Meanwhile, I leave you with an earworm.

This time, black really is black


Avast, me hearties…

Tis done, shipmates.

OK, enough of the pirate talk. You’ll have to imagine the Captain Jack Sparrow accessories.

Surgery was quick, briefly unpleasant when the local anaesthetic went in but mostly painless, if a little bloody. Post-op, it is painful: I feel as if I’ve been smacked in the eye, with a bonus serving of pea-gravel under my eyelid. The patch comes off later today, after which I’ll be sporting a black eye.

Thanks to everyone who offered good wishes and crossed their fingers. It appears the outcome is going to be positive.

I kind of wish I’d gone out and bought the pirate hat and stuffed parrot after all…

In the front line

This is becoming a habit.

I’m steaming with fury. Our government is mouthing platitudes about the victims of Australia’s current horrendous bushfire season. Sorry, guys, but “thoughts and prayers” don’t put out fires. And reducing our carbon emissions targets doesn’t help either. Publicly abusing climate change advocates isn’t a good look in the circumstances, either. Nor is promising a ‘review’ of the fire service, the implication being that the fire service hasn’t done its job properly, since of course, fires ignited by lightning, fed by raging winds and covering hundreds of thousands of hectares would have been easily controlled if they’d been doing it right.

Today, amidst the horror and heartbreak being reported, the exhausted, blackened faces of the firefighters, and the distraught, blackened faces of the suddenly homeless or bereaved, we learned another outrage. Most of our rural and country firefighters are volunteers. Many of them have been fighting fires for over a week straight. And we are so, so grateful. But it seems their employers only grant them 3 days of paid fire service leave a year. After that, they have to use up their annual leave entitlement, and when that is gone, they are unpaid. And many employers are enforcing this.


Get your greedy, lazy, money grubbing arses down to the fire front, grab a hose and walk a mile in their shoes.

Oh, and while you’re at it, the fire will be burning down your house, consuming your business or laying waste to whatever it is your mean little souls hold most dear.  Because there aren’t enough fire fighters. And despite an economy in the black, there ‘isn’t enough money to pay for more equipment’. And most of all, there aren’t enough people in your position giving a damn that this is what the future looks like. And you helped to make it that way.

Shame on you.

Walking through fire

“The difference between a good life and a bad life is how well you walk through the fire.”  Carl Jung

Sometimes, it is only in the fire that a person’s qualities become apparent. We’re seeing a lot of that right now. The east coast of Australia is largely ablaze. Communities are being razed to smoking ashes, lives are being lost, including those trying to save others. We have been in drought for so long that our land is a tinder box, and the smallest spark sets the red devil howling across the landscape, consuming everything without respect for great or small. We are grateful for the mercy that has the wind blowing offshore, away from the dry heart of the country. People are showing their best side; they offer generous help, risk their own lives and hold out their hands to save each other. The debt we all owe to our fire services, professional and volunteer alike, is uncountable.

Click to enlarge

This is the view from space, side by side with the Regional Fire Service’s map of approximately the same area, showing all the active fires. Somewhere under that pall of smoke, there are people I care about, people I love. Some are struggling to breathe, some are worried, some are gritting their teeth and preparing to act to defend their homes and property and aid their neighbours. Friends and family are scanning the sky and horizon and praying for the wind to drop and maybe, just maybe, cooler temperatures and the chance of rain. The fire service has called the situation unprecedented: they have never had to fight so many fires on so many fronts. The rural fire service, staffed mainly by volunteers, has suffered an additional blow in that many of their fire stations have also been lost.

It’s counter-intuitive to say we’re fortunate. Our country is huge and our population is small. Compared with the US, for example, with its much greater population density, the loss of property and perhaps life is small. But the suffering is just as great, and because there are so few of us, the resources are fewer, the infrastructure to deal with fire is less and the budget is tiny by comparison.

If you believe in the power of prayer, pray. If positive thoughts are your thing, think them. Hard.  But whatever you do, keep in mind those men and women at the fire front.

The eyes have it

Sorry about the radio silence, me hearties

I’ve had an eye infection that has stopped me reading or using the computer much, a lovely little staph infection in my eyelid that kept on draining painfully into my eye, made it swell up horribly, and needed topical antibiotics to beat it into submission. I’ve had to strenuously avoid the temptation to lurch around doing bad pirate impressions. Well, fairly strenuously. I did let a few “Ahrr hahrr, maties” slip. Weeeelll, you’ve got to make the best of things like that, haven’t you? Perfect excuse, and all that.

It’s finally on the mend. Maybe now I can finish the Opal quilt and make a block or two for Parterre (yes, I did miss the BM&I post at the end of the month…).

I have something shiny and new planned for the next 10 months or so. Not exclusively, but I have an end date to work towards. But first, I need to spend some quality time with pencil and paper. More about that soon.

Good job I can see what I’m doing once again….

Mouse’s holiday part 3: a whale of a good time

All three of us had fun, not just Mouse.

Yesterday, we took him to the dog-friendly section of the V-Wall Tavern, where he lay patiently on his bed in the sunshine while we snarfed our generous and delicious lunches.

Mine’s the smoked chicken caesar salad, and the Husband’s is the one with the large slice of pickled heritage beetroot on top of his steak, salad and chunky chips.

The food is even better than last time we were here, and we later learned it’s in new hands. Mouse got lots of compliments and attention on his way home, which he accepted graciously as his due…

Today, we told him he was going to catch up with his friend Diesel over in Taylors Arm.  He was very happy to hear it!

It’s about half an hour’s drive on winding roads, not his favourite kind of journey, but he was so thrilled to be let out of the car and allowed to run around the yard at will instead of on a lead that he forgave us, and gave his undivided attention to Diesel’s yard, Diesel’s toys, Diesel’s water bowl and Diesel’s bone. At the end, he even hijacked Diesel’s mat. A certain amount of stink-eye from host doggo ensued, but it was at least peaceful.

The blokes retreated to the shed to admire a new motorbike. I wandered around Dale’s back yard with her, admiring her lush and mostly scavenged, adopted, propagated and volunteer planting, her caged vegie garden, and the She-Shed which Wayne had constructed for her from salvaged materials.

The two of them are making a beautiful, productive and life-affirming Eden in their small back yard and I’m more than a little envious…. On to a beautiful lunch and catch-up conversation, and then it was time for us to tear ourselves away and restore sovereignty of the backyard to Diesel Dog.

We’re back down this way in February/March, so will hope to spend a few more hours with them then.

On our return, Mouse leaped onto his bed and proceeded to recover from the excitement of the morning, curled up with eyes tightly closed. The Husband took his laptop out into the shade and snoozed off and on while pretending to look at it. I took my phone and walked along to the end of the V-Wall to get some photos.

It’s the end of whale migration season here in northern New South Wales. Whales have been spotted at times all this past week, and I tootled down to the viewpoint at the end of the breakwater without much hope of actually capturing anything. And there they were, a small school of Southern Right Whales, noodling about in the clear water off the coast. They were a long way out, and when they breached or blew, it happened too fast to capture in a photo, so I turned the phone to video. The footage is too large to upload here (and I don’t have a YouTube account), but I took two screen shots from the relevant moments. Click on the photos to enlarge. Take a look at the left of the image, in the water, about a quarter of the way across the screen.

On image 1, you see the body of the whale starting to emerge from the water, and in image 2, you have the splash as he landed in the water. I’m sorry it’s so blurry, but it all happened so fast I didn’t have time to adjust the focus. I’ve seen whales a lot when I lived on this coast, but I’ve never before managed to capture it, so I’m pretty thrilled.

Tonight we caught up with friends for dinner; we haven’t seen them for well over a year, and for one pair, it’s their wedding anniversary, so a celebration was called for. We were so busy laughing and talking that I completely forgot to take photos of the very pretty venue and the gorgeous food. You’ll just have to take my word for it…

Time for a cuppa and a bickie. It’s been a very good day.


News, good and bad

Yes, people, I’m still alive.

Although there have been times the past few days when that felt a bit dubious. The bad news is that I’m currently entertaining a host of bugs in my lungs, and my old friend legionella pneumophila is back. Yup, that old ‘walking pneumonia’ again. The cough is evil, I’m as tired as if I’ve run a marathon, and my lungs are, according to my doctor, making some pretty dire crackling noises. Antibiotics, rest, plenty of fluids. Yes, I know the drill.

The good news is much better. On Thursday afternoon the Husband and I are driving up to Townsville for a Very Important Appointment. At 9.30 on Friday morning, we’re being introduced to our new fur baby, to see if he likes us. He’s a retired racing greyhound, 3 years old, glossy and black and a little shy. We have passed our initial phone interview with the Greyhound Adoption Program of Queensland, and now we just have to be thoroughly sniffed and hound-assessed; for our potential generosity with treats, likelihood to let him sleep on the bed, ability to provide him with all the luxuries and comforts an extremely beautiful and graceful retired athlete could want, and willingness to provide endless strokies and pats. I’d say we were ready… We are disregarding his kennel and racing names, both of which don’t suit him at all, and His Magnificence will henceforth be known as Mouse (sleek, long pointy nose, beady eyes, etc). More photos will be available as of Friday.I’ve already made two dog beds, and a third will be needed (although possibly little used) for the bedroom. We have the bowls, lead and car clip, toys, treats, dental chews, kibble, wet food, and engraved name tag. We’ll need to get him fitted for a harness for walkies and for greater security in the car, he comes with his own ‘official’ Greenhound* registration collar, and I will of course be making him a variety of elegant coats for cooler weather, as his body fat is so low, and his skin and fur are very thin. That bit’s going to be fun – I feel something quilty coming on!

*Greenhounds are greyhounds which have passed a stringent assessment for socialisation, good behaviour around small animals and children, low prey drive (ie, they don’t chase small fluffy things), low aggression and territoriality, etc. They are awarded a numbered and registered green collar which they must wear at all times. Greyhounds must always be walked on the lead, since they can reach speeds of 65kph/40mph within three paces. Non-assessed greyhounds must wear a muzzle in public because they are trained to chase.

He’s going to be one spoiled puppy. I hope we can live up to his expectations!