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2014 Reads

1) Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors by Ann Rule (continuing my true crime fascination in 2014)

2) Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism by Mattias Gardell (in progress)

3) We Are Anonymous by Parmy Olson (re-read, audio book– an awesome book about an enigmatic group & group-think manifestation)

4) Green River, Running Red by Ann Rule (audio book, read the actual book last year. More true crime, and my goodness wasn’t the GRK a creepy & prolofic scumbag?)

5) The Circus Fire  by Stewart O’Nan (in progress)

6) Too Late to Say Goodbye by Ann Rule (audio book, in progress)



So… 2014. Where is my ^&&%^&( hover car???

I am going to try to blog a bit more this year even though my life is sort of boring.

Firstly: I am moving this year. I *must*. I hate this flat– it is old, ugly and I am tired of paying irrational & outrageous electricity costs for a firetrap. So to prepare– even though I have no idea yet where I am going– I’ve started cleaning & packing. I am going to try to do a few boxes a week, and as of the first I’ve already filled my bin with old, unusable trash. Good for me. Right now I am dusting & sorting my art &sewing supplies, and that is actually rather fun.

B: (I see what I did there, my Paul Rieser impersonation) I am going to track everything I read. or I shall try. May do a separate post for that. It will include my new reads, my fun reads, my educational reads & my audio books (which I listen to whilst sewing or doing housework or playing with birds or playing games). That still counts IMO. I will also note if something is a “re-read”– that counts too.

Three: As an ongoing project with moving, I am redecorating. yeah, I am so tired of my colour schemes. I know that my new place won’t require (most likely) the burgundy/pink/gold/orange/sage green/ivory scheme I’ve currently got in my lounge room, but I can at least start on my bedroom. The change won’t be drastic; I am still using chocolate brown & ivory, but I will brighten it up with sage green & gold. And no matter where I move, I want to continue with my “Disco/Italian Renaissance” theme, which will allow me to use lots of glittery things, and even more Venetian masks, plus brocades, velvets, etc.

To this end on redecoration, I am finishing (finally!) a pillow for my bedroom. It’s four cross-stitch panels of the same tree in all four seasons, and it will be a in a brown cushion with (I think) sage green or maybe gold piping & tassels. I’ll try to post a photo or two when I finish it.

New Year’s Eve was quiet, watched fireworks over the river with a friend from my front yard, and did some cross-stitch. That’s my idea of peace.  🙂

Okay, will run now, should do some more housework before it gets any hotter (summer blows, too humid & hot).




Bullet & Sprocket and the nest fiasco

As many people know, doves are not good at building nests. They are flimsy affairs, maybe a few crossed sticks placed haphazardly about & I guess they just hope it provides a safe haven for their young. Perhaps doves are extremely optimistic in addition to being extremely violent. It’s true! That whole “bird of peace” business is because they have good press agents.

I have six pet turtledoves—Widget, Sprocket, Bullet, Trinket, Treasure and Pecke in the Crown (Pecke for short). They’ve all been with me for years, and all are male except for Bullet.

About two years ago Bullet & Sprocket hooked up. (I’d say “mated” but that sounds a bit graphic when discussing animals; after all, this isn’t “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” and no one is going wrestle a critter for viewing  pleasure.) So in more polite terms, I mean they are married. Or maybe it’s a common-law relationship; I know a lot about doves, but not everything, particularly how legal contracts work for them. But they totes love each other and express it in a variety of ways. ‘Nuff said.

I keep my doves in BIG cages. Widget has his own cage because he thinks he is mated to me (or at least to my feet) and actively tries to kill the other doves out of possessivness and because doves are extremely violent birds, as mentioned above. Bullet, Sprocket & Trinket are in the largest cage, not because they have common name endings, but because I’ve had to rearrange the doves over the years (that angry killer-dove thing) and now I can’t get Trinket out. He refuses to leave and seems to enjoy sparring with Sprocket,  and vice versa. In spite of the beatings he takes, and currently having no head feathers & looking like a tiny vulture, he still won’t let me move him. This leaves Treasure & Pecke in the other cage, and they take turns yanking the feathers off each other but haven’t tried to murder one another in a few months. So we’ve finally got a housing arrangment that works, and the dove cage shuffle is on hiatus, at least until the next dove war breaks out.

Once they decided that they were officially an item, Bullet & Sprocket naturally went straight to the task of building a nest. They’d rip up the paper I line the cage with and place strips of it on a branch, just, you know, “wherever”. Almost whimsically, it seemed. Then they’d try to sit on the “nest”— the unsupported paper nest. You can imagine the result: falling, puzzled, then frustrated doves (who would then attempt to kill something, maybe ‘coz they were angry or maybe ‘coz it was killing time on the bird clock. Who knows?) So one day, I thought I’d put in the nest basket I used for little magpies when I worked in wildlife rehabilitation. “What could it hurt?” I thought, “even if they don’t realise it’s a nest, they can always perch on it”. They did need more perches anyway.

Well, the males ignored it. Typical. They eventually stood on it, but it took months; male birds seem slow to grasp great  innovations. (Remind me some day to tell the story of Tahuti the cockatiel and the year and a half “Battle of the “Happy Hut ™”. It’s nearly as epic as Thermopylae.) But not Bullet— within a month she was sitting in the nest basket and seemed pretty pleased with the arrangement. Trust a woman to adopt the newest trend in good gadgetry! Then she began putting in feathers, paper strips, etc. I was very excited— perhaps I was helping doves achieve the next step in their evolution:  solid nests! Not that I’m breeding doves mind you, but maybe it’d work like that “hundredth monkey” thing, you know, like my doves would realise this is a very good idea and then mystically wild doves in the outdoors would get the idea into their little feather heads and seek more structurally secure nesting options…

I seem to be as optimistic as doves. Back to the story.

At some point, Sprocket (the male bird) finally realised “oh, that’s a nest!”. (Duh. Or maybe he just finally listened to what his wife said.) It was a long, slow process. First he’d get a shred of paper and put it on Bullet whilst she was sitting in the nest, and always seemed perplexed when the paper would fall out when Bullet got out. Frankly Bullet had a hard time with the idea at the start too, but soon she figured out that if they brought up paper & feathers while no one was in the nest, she could tuck it around where she wanted it and it would stay in. Clever! Finally they figured out that Sprocket should bring her paper & feathers and Bullet would place them. Yeah, she does the decorating, he does the lifting, fetching & carrying. Not so much of an equal rights vibe going on in dove world.

To give credit where it is due, Sprocket tries really hard and is generally a very good mate for Bullet. But occasionally he makes mistakes— tears off really long strips of paper, flies up to the perch near the nest but lands on the trailing end of the paper and nearly falls off the perch trying to figure out how to get it out from under his feet. That’s always good for a LOL. But the best incident was this, just about a month ago:

Sprocket, being a well-meaning & helpful spouse immediately started shredding the new paper I put in the cage. He tore off a monster strip that was literally half the newspaper page. Imagine it this way: a piece of paper about ten times the size of the bird, in both length & width. For a moment, I wasn’t sure if he was trying to build the nest or ripping out an article he wanted to save. Had I missed some important news? I decided to watch him to find out. But no,  like a good husband, he (awkwardly) struggled to get a decent grip on the paper and managed somehow (awkwardly) to fly up the perch next to the nest. Bullet was in the nest, rearranging, sweeping it with a feather (I’ll bet you guys had no idea that doves actually “sweep” their nests, and use tools— ravens sure, but doves? Who knew?) and generally attending to household chores. (She wanted me to turn on Oprah, but I had to explain that Oprah’s show was no more, and would she mind if we watched a marathon of “Survivor” season 22 instead— the one where Russhole cries like a little girl at being booted. “Dimwit got played at last” should be the new show motto. HA!) But I digress.

Sprocket, head craned back, sheaf of newspaper flapping madly, little dovie feet scrambling, somehow managed to land clumsily up on the big perch next to the nest. He looked so proud… at least once he’d managed to get a firm foothold.

Now this next part I swear is true.

Bullet looks up at her husband who is proudly perched next to her with the enormous sheet of newspaper in his beak. I don’t know quite how she managed it without eyebrows and lips, but she got this look on her face like “what the hell are you doing, you shithead!” Then she sighed, literally sighed, and if she only had hands I’m sure she would have put them on her hips. I think she even rolled her eyes. At this point I wouldn’t have been surprised had she slowly shaken her head back & forth as if to indicate “OMG I married an idiot”.  But as it was, her posture managed to convey that idea. I mean c’mon, all of us who’ve been married, partnered and/or lived with someone has had the experience of when the significant other tries so hard, but ends up doing some piece of well-meaning dumbassery. So I guess partners in bird life aren’t so different from we non-feathered sorts.

Poor Sprocket. He looked so crestfallen. He dropped the paper and it slowly drifted— no, plummeted, as it was a huge piece of paper— to the bottom of the cage. He then woefully flew down to a lower perch to pout, kind of like when your husband or partner slinks off to the garage or tool shed or wherever it is they go to escape the other partner. It was comical.

But the very best part is when Bullet looked over at me. I was in hysterics at this point, laughing out loud, tears running down my face. I know it was just the noise I was making that attracted her attention, but I swear a knowing look passed between me & Bullet. It was that look women give each other, that wordless but significant glance that just says “men, can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.”. You know the one.

Of course this just made me laugh harder, and now I think if Sprocket gets the chance he may try to peck me to death for laughing at him. But this is part of why I love doves so much, in spite of their undeserved goody-goody biblical reputation and penchant for killing & maiming; they are funny, expressive, loyal and generally loving pets, in spite of the constant aggression issues. Yes, Sprocket may forgive me… that is, until he learns to read this blog.

Taree flooding, June 2011

Here are a few pictures from my walk into town today.

From the riverbank in front of my house. Normally the water is way below where it is in the picture—the building is the old boathouse which is normally dry. It is now filled with approximately four feet of water.

Public pool (now an amphitheatre) on the bank next to my flat. This is from the exposed seats; the water is about four feet deep here. Normally this is a flat platform where we fish and go to watch the sun set.

The main bridge into Taree over the Manning River. The water is about 6 feet below bridge level right now; normally it is about 20 feet below. That’s a lot of water!

Road closure at River Street, the small road that runs parallel to the river at the end of my street.

River Street, now a literal river.

More of River Street.

Queen Elizabeth Park, War Memorial. Now mostly submerged.

Playground at Queen Elizabeth Park. Slides are now actual water slides! Wheee! If it weren’t the middle of winter and a bit cold, I’d go play there.

More River Street, in the centre of town.

End of River Street with promenade underwater.

Business at River Street/Promenade sandbagged and flooded.

Boat dock on Promenade, under water.

Talked to loads of people in town, seems everyone had a tale about the floods. Lots of people trapped here in town and unable to get to outlying homes, many local businesses flooded, people flooded in (including a lot of friends).

But I am fine, and safe from flooding and the weather was sunny today and will be for a few days. It is cooling off again at night—it had been pretty “warm” for winter at night—but now it’s going back down into the 30s and 40s. But I don’t mind, I have my electric blanket and fuzzy slippers and all is well.

Love & hugs!

Just in case you hear the flood news…

So far I am safe and well.

My flat is right by the river, but high enough that the flood peak won’t reach us—thus far. We have not been asked to evacuate, and I haven’t yet seen the river and affected areas of town personally as it has been too rainy to go out. I have a “rain bin” in the yard and we have had almost 2 feet of rain in three days. I’m not kidding.

I’ll try to get some pictures tomorrow whilst I am out. In the meantime, some of the pictures in the news article are from right here in Taree, just a bit (less than 1 kilometre) from my flat.

Hope you are all well!


Recovering Rachael is recovering…

… Albeit slowly.

Friday’s oral surgery went well. I was awake but in “twilight sleep” as it is called; drugged so I didn’t require intubation (hard to accomplish for oral surgery). I remember bits & pieces, it was almost completely painless but I only recall tiny fragments.

The jaw is okay and the x-rays show that the jawbone not terribly corrupted—no further work needed at this time although the infection is still raging and up ‘til this morning I felt pretty crook. It also hurts (still), but that is normal recovery, a different sort of pain now. Still not on solid foods, this makes week eight or nine since I’ve been able to eat properly, although I’ve made an effort on the days when my jaw wasn’t locked, or when I wasn’t in too much pain, or when I could even stomach the thought of food. This infection is likely the worst I’ve ever had— antibiotics for two solid months. Yuck.

My instructors have all given me extensions, so I will wrap up a bit later than usual this semester, but should still pull okay grades. This is only the end of year one, so I’m not in much trouble, and I may still pull out a distinction or two in some classes so my future standing for the honours programme will be intact. But as I said, it’s only the end of year one, next two years will really determine my standing. *fingers crossed*

I am apparently a bit too obsessed with Imperial Rome, had a dream the night following the surgery that I was hanging around with Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius. When one starts dreaming of the emperors, one might be in need of a break. LOL!

I hope all of you are well, birthday wishes to Tom and early birthday wishes to Brandeewine-whatywine (in case my final semester exams and essays make me disappear again for a bit).

I love you all and think of you all lots, wish you were here!

What a waste of 18 hours…


Okay, a few months ago I startled my roommate by doing a screaming happy dance when I found out the long-awaited sequel (The Land of the Painted Caves) in the “Earth’s Children” series was being released on the 29th of March. The first thing I did was race to my local library to get put on the waiting list. Then I waited, and wondered— all those unresolved story lines, how would they be resolved? I even re-read the entire five previous books AND listened to them in their entirety in audio book form. I was ready.

Yesterday morning by a stroke of luck, one of my ebook sources (doing lots of ebook stuff as the amount of books needed to fill my personal library AND do all my research is astounding, and often ebooks are more useful—although I will always love & prefer actual book books—when searching out a quote or reference or whatnot) had a surprise for me. My source had gotten me “The Land of the Painted Caves”! So then I had it in my hot little hands—well, on my computer at least—and I decided to read it. Straight through, no break but a 2 hour nap. Lots of coffee, comfy lounge chair and blankets & pillows. Ready, set, go.

I am not going to give away any spoilers here, but let me just say two things:

As I entitled this post: I WANT THOSE 18 HOURS BACK!


If wanted a microscopically detailed history lesson of every bloody painted Paleolithic cave site in Spain & France, I’d have taken courses on it. Frankly, I’d be better off if I’d worked on my own darn history assignments for this week. No painted caves, but hey! Romans & Greeks and Egyptians— oh my!

Honestly, I have never been so disappointed in a book in my life. There are a few good points, but for the most part– well, you’ll just have to see.

In order to feel better, I’ve been watching you-tube video reviews of Jean Auel’s other five books by some (Scottish! LOL) bloke (his pants seem to remain on in all of them), which are pretty good—especially when he gets to “Shelters of Stone” (which I actually really liked; not for the literature aspects, but for the way spiritual ideas were conveyed, even though we all know that a world-wide “matriarchal prehistory” is bullshit).

So watch these, and if you are about to delve into “The Land of the Painted Caves’—well, enjoy. I guess.

Dammit—31 years of my life invested in this series, and now I am deeply upset by it.

Better go and quit whinging; I have real books to read now.