Thursday, July 15, 2010

An Award (and a fantasy)

I said in my last post that I was hoping to be a bit more frequent with my posts. Ah well, so much for plans. This week has been as hectic as usual.

Tonight I am going to get to something that has been on the backburner for a while. Way back in June Denise at L’Aussie Writing passed on the Versatile Blogger Award to me.

Thank you Denise!

With this award comes a few duties. Those are:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.

2. Share seven things about yourself.

3. Pass this award along to fifteen bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason!

4. Contact the bloggers you’ve picked and let them know about the award.

Now I have decided to “cheat a bit” and tell part of an episode of my life in seven paragraphs so here we go:

When our kids were small, we (that is Deb, the three girls and I) lived for a couple of years all crammed in a tiny mill cottage surrounded by rainforest. The cottage is on a farm on the Dorrigo Plateau in NSW. It is on the “back block” of a property owned by my mum and her husband. Deb and I had decided we both needed to do further studies, so we sold our house and car (we bought a cheap second hand car) and lived rent free for a while to be able to study full time.

The cottage had no mains power. We had a small solar panel with a truck battery that provided our lighting. We had a refrigerator that ran on gas. Heating, cooking and hot water were provided by a slow combustion stove. I used to cut firewood for the stove from regrowth timber on the farm.

Our house used spring water. Although we were on a ridge high on the western side of the Dorrigo Plateau (about 3600 feet) the spring that fed our house is still higher. The spring is on the other side of the valley and the water is fed by gravity down a long pipe all the way to the valley floor and then up to a holding tank behind the house.

We used to drive an old four wheel drive three miles down a muddy track every day to take the older girls to school. Luckily the local state primary school was literally at the bottom of “our driveway”. When we needed to go into town for supplies we drove four miles down a different track to “the front block” where we kept our road car at my mum’s house.

My favourite thing of all was to get up soon after dawn. The plateau to the east would still be covered with morning mist. It was like looking out over a still sea of white. Through the mist would come the noise of the dawn chorus of the birds. In particular there were lyrebirds which are incredible mimics. They mostly mimic other birds, but will mimic other sounds they hear. I have heard them mimicking things like chainsaws and camera motor-drives. I have never seen the dance they do as they sing (they are very shy) but their song is amazing anyway. You will get a tiny patch of forest with all these different bird calls coming out one after the other. Then at the end of the sequence the lyrebird sings his own song before beginning again.

The time living up there was amongst the happiest in my life. But alas the needs of growing girls and the need to go back to the workforce meant we had to leave our patch of paradise and go back to the ‘real world’.

Now our girls are all but grown up, and it doesn’t look like it will be too many years before they achieve independence, I am cultivating a fantasy. In that fantasy Deb and I move back to our mountain paradise. I dream we will build a writer’s retreat. There we will host other writers who need a break with peace and quiet only broken by birdsong and the wind. So with the income generated by the (very reasonable) fees we will charge I will be able to devote myself full time to writing.

Like I say it’s a fantasy.
But you never know.

Now for the fifteen bloggers I want to pass this award to:

1. Niki at Wool ‘N Nuts
2. Angelique at Vampires and Tofu
3. Jennifer at Ten Lives and Second Chances
4. Elspeth at It’s a Mystery
5. Lisa K. at Writing on Thin Ice
6. Shannon at Book Dreaming
7. B. at B miler Fiction
8. Carolyn at Checkerboard Squares
9. Rebecca at Sonshine Thoughts
10. Kyna at Crystal Coast Gardener
11. Charmaine at Wagging Tales
12. Sarah at Falen Formulates Fiction
13. Alexandra at The Publication Follies of Alexandra Shostak
14. Sharon at Random Thoughts (the rules said discovered recently and I figure tonight is as about as recent as it gets).
15. Amanda at a Library of My Own (I have been following Amanda for a while but she has changed blogs because she no longer lives in NYC )

Please forgive me if you have already been given this award. I just don’t have time to check tonight. I am sorry for displaying such a cavalier attitude, but you are just going to have to deal with the trauma as best you can :-)

Now finally a couple of piccies.
By The way on the subject of piccies My last post features a giveaway check it out!

So the piccies, I am a bit pressed for time tonight so just three piccies of two birds I snapped on my recent holiday.

The first two are of a Crimson Rosella, another of our gaudy parrots. Not quite as friendly as the Rainbow Lorikeets I posted a while ago, but I think just as beautiful.
Finally a small woodland bird, an Eastern Yellow Robin.
These guys are not really shy, but they are quite active so this is the first time I have managed to photograph one.


Piedmont Writer said...

When you set up that writing retreat, do let me know. I think I could live happily on the back block for many seasons.

Jen said...

Congratulations on your award! Well deserved! I love learning more about my fellow bloggers! Always love the pictures here too!

RosieC said...

Congrats on your award! And thanks for some more great blogs to check out.

I think your fantasy sounds amazing! I don't know how old your girls are, but I would be making plans to go back :)

Palindrome said...

I have never seen a crimson rosella! Beautiful!!

Congrats on your award! You are quite versatile.

Carolyn V. said...

Thanks so much for the awesome award!

I loved your story, how cool would it be surrounded by rainforest? I think it would be amazing. =) Thanks again Al!

Kyna said...

In regards to 'pretty damn skippy'~ I meant that my whole music department is filled with kangaroos on changeover day. Bastards. That's what makes it so difficult...wading through roos...

Haha! I love culture differences. There are quite a few just between Canada and the US, I've found out.I wrote a blog about it awhile ago...

(I'm terrible with HTML, hope that works)

Damn skippy could mean a couple of things. Just could mean 'awesome', a 'big deal', or even mean 'hell yes'.

Thanks for the award, it might take me awhile to get to, just like you! lol

Love the parrots!

Kyna said...

Nope, it didn't work. Oh well. Copy and paste at your whim.

Falen (Sarah) said...

thanks for the award!

And those birds are ADORABLE

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Thanks for the award...Very sweet of you, especially since we just met.

You are definately going on my blog roll...I love your photos!

Old Kitty said...

Congratulations with this wonderful award!! And what a lovely post too!

What a paradise you and your family lived in - surrounded by woodland and birdsong. Absolutely wonderful.

I love lyrebirds! Ever since I saw them on telly in one of David Attenborough's nature progs - I fell in love with them! They are beyond clever - they are brilliant mimics!! Wonderful birds.

I so like your idea of a writer's retreat in your former home! I'd go just for the lyrebirds! :-) You never know with dreams or fantasies- they just may come true!

Thanks for these pics of these beautiful birds - the colours of that Rainbow Lorikeet are just - well - wow!! And that little yellow robin - awwww!! What a cutie!

Thank you so so so much for nominating me!! How exciting!!! Thank you!

Take care

Culture Served Raw said...

Thanks for the lovely blog list. Unfortunately I am terrified of birds so could not enjoy these beautiful pics completely :(

I did hear of the Nap. height being a myth! But in my head it is more romantic that a short man set out on such an epic military campaign, while still sending all those touching letters to his Josephine :')

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh, how I always love your photographs!! Thanks so much for thinking of me for an award, Al! You're the best. :-)

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Your retreat sounds lovely - I have a similar dream, but in wine country here in British Columbia. Have to wait until the teenagers are out of school though.

Thanks so much for passing this award onto me, but I warn you I am the world's worst blogger for passing these along. It is greatly appreciated, however and thanks for the links to some new bloggers!

Jemi Fraser said...

Love the pics of the birds! So cute :)

Congrats on the award!

Vampires and Tofu said...

Thank you so much! And I hope you have that writer's retreat one day, it's a lovely idea. My youngest will be 17 soon and I've been thinking of what to do when she's all grown and gone (hopefully not far!)I love the idea of a little cottage somewhere and a big garden...

Theres just life said...

Love the story about your family. It sounds peaceful and inspiring. The pictures are amazing.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Congratulations on your award.
What lovely pictures! :)

Al said...

Hi Anne,
I’ll book you in now :-)
It is the perfect place for a writer, very beautiful but so quiet you can escape into your own world.

Hi Jen,
Thank you!
Isn’t it fun sharing a bit of others’ lives and interests.

Hi Rosie,
Thank you!
I think it sounds amazing as well– hopefully not too good to be true.
Our ‘baby’ is 16 and already at university, so as I say ‘you never know’.

Hi Hanna,
Crimsons are beautiful, we have over 50 species of parrot in Oz so hopefully I’ll share a few more at some point.
Thank you!

Hi Carolyn,
You are welcome!
It is amazing, and cool to live surrounded by rainforest.

Hi Kyna,
Hahaha. Funny!
Cross cultural stories can be amazing, fortunately they don’t usually lead to too many international incidents!
You are welcome to the award. I completely understand, I just didn’;t have time to get to this one.

Hi again Kyna,
No it didn’t work. I will have a look thanks!

Hi Sarah,
You’re welcome!
Adorable is the word!

Hi Sharon,
You are most welcome!
Thank you! I liked what I have seen of your blog too.

Hi Jennifer ,
Thank you.
I did the post this way because I had a mental blank and couldn’t think of seven things to say about myself. So I just broke part of one enjoyable time into seven chunks.
The bush, especially rainforest is amazing.
I love lyrebirds too. The most amazing mimics, very beautiful although you usually just see them scampering across a trail, or away into the forest.
I love birds so I am only too happy to share.
I love the idea of the retreat too. The problem up there is income, you don’t need much money to get by up there, but you can’t get by on none. You never know a retreat might just give some possibilities.
Pleased you liked my bird piccies, they are gorgeous.
You are welcome!

Hi Valerie,
You are welcome! Ugh, what a nuisance thing to be phobic about, birds are everywhere.
Myths are fun anyway!

Hi Shannon,
I am pleased you enjoy the piccies, happy to share.
You’re welcome to the award , you deserve it.

Hi Elspeth,
It does sound lovely doesn’t it? Whether it could ever work is a big question. The strength of the place is also its potential downfall, it’s not easy to get to.
Wine country in BC that sounds nice! Our baby is out of school now, but we have two at Uni and we need to support them through that.
You are very welcome, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t pass it on.

Hi Jemi,
Cute indeed, happy you like them.
Thank you!

Hi Angelique,
You are very welcome!
I hope so too, a lot of obstacles to be overcome. Our baby is 16 and already at University so in some ways it looks pretty close before Deb and I get to decide what to do for our ‘forever after’.
A cottage and big garden sounds wonderful!

Hi Pamela,
It was pretty inspiring, but like any family existence it had some peaceful moments and some that weren’t quite that way :-) I’m pleased you like my piccies!

Hi Amanda,
Thank you and thank you!

Charmaine Clancy said...

I like your dream! Sometimes we get so overwhelmed with all the 'stuff' we're told we should have - your tiny cottage sounds like a great family bonding home :-)

Charmaine Clancy said...

Oh - and thanks for the award!

L'Aussie said...

Al, I'm so glad you got to post about yourself. It was very interesting. Reminds me of my early days on dairy farms in Queensland bush. Great bird shots too. Also hope you fulfil your fantasy/dream of a writers' retreat, a B & B with a difference eh? I'm sure many people would be lining up to enjoy the serenity..:)

Theresa Milstein said...

Love the bird pictures!

What an experience living in that mountain house must've been. Many of us have so many luxuries and everything we need is right there. It might do many people good to try out that way.

I wonder if you will go back to your mountain home.

Congratulations on your award.

Talli Roland said...

Congrats on your award, Alex.

Oh, I so love your photos. Living on that mountain sounds like a dream. Here's hoping you can get back there again one day.

Kristin Rae said...

What AMAZING birds! I've never seen anything like them!

Niki said...

Thanks for the award. :o) And I caught up with your tag post!! Ive just been scanning your posts for a four n twenty pie. hehehe yuck! pies just arent what they use to be. Sometimes I wonder just what is in pies nowadays.

Re pigs, I have thought about a crate for when the piglets are young. I think our pigs are just too huge!! I feed them too much. It was a big loss of piglet this time round. The worse we've had.

I havent heard of them being called 'silvereyes' hehe waxeyes sound so much better!! :op

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Fantastic feathers on that parrot!

The cabin life does sound charming...and peaceful. I hope your dream comes true. :)

reberto.alberto said...

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“Then what are you waiting for? …put on your thinking cap and get writing. For registration and other information check -

Happy writing!

Josh Healy said...

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Ann said...

Congratulations on the award. Well deserved. Loved the story, or should I say fantasy.

The colours os the Crimson Rosella are just fabulous. So vivid.

Al said...

Hi Charmaine,
It certainly is a relaxing dream.
It was a great time to get to know each other.
And you are most welcome!

Hi Denise,
I got to it in the end, sorry it took so long.
Sounds like you had some good early days!
I’m sure we would have them queuing, if we could ever get it happening.

Hi Theresa,
Thank you!
It was an experience, and that sort of experience does shape your life…
I like to think that I could go back someday, but for now at least there are too many commitments.
Thanks again!

Hi Marsha,
Thank you!
It was like a dream in many ways (hard work too, but that has its own rewards).

Hi Kristin Rae,
They are gorgeous aren’t they?
Pretty common down here too!

Hi Niki,
You’re welcome!
I don’t know as long as you don’t expect too much pies aren’t that bad.
Sad about the piglets, they’re cute (and they taste good too)
Nah, definitely silveryes

Hi Alyssa,
Aren’t they special?
It’s a nice dream anyhow!

Hi Ann,
Thank you!
It’s a great fantasy! And like all the best ones based on reality!
They are just the most beautiful birds!