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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Two New Titles

My Two New Titles

Ants Aunts and Funerals is a romp through the lives of a family group who attend a funeral in the country.

The younger couple who help to care for their elderly aunt and uncle know that Uncle Rodger and Aunt Alice can be a handful at the best of times. This day the two elderly folk excel themselves and cause mayhem and chaos.
It is a celebration of country life and the trial and difficulties of mixing the computer age generation with those born during the early twentieth century.

It is great fun for everyone who wasn't involved and should leave you wondering what the years may bring to you.

A Writer's Guide...It Isn't All About The Writing.

Gives answers and advice to fledgling writers to questions they may not know need to be answered.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Better Than Fairies At the Bottom Of Your Garden.

Some of you can probably boast you have hundreds of friends on your Face book. We can boast we have thousands of friends at the bottom of our garden. They work away quietly without disturbing the sanctuary around us and provide nourishment for our plants all year round.

These friends are the worms that live peacefully in their home under a large Camellia bush.

In every garden we have made we have had a working worm farm. During the 1980’s we set up our first and we still have some of their descendants I suppose. I find it hard to tell one from another although the family similarities must be there.

Worm farms seem to give some folk problems so I thought I would write a short article on their care.

I have a friend who worried she was overfeeding her worms and fussed about their diet like a flustered mum. She had a point, it is possible to over feed them when you first begin, but once the numbers multiply you will find that the scraps from an average size home will never be too much.

Without earth worms our Australian soil would be even poorer than it is and we need to do everything we can to encourage these little fellows, such as mulching, composting using organic fertilisers and not using pesticides which will get into the food chain in our family gardens and into the surrounding area through birds, lizards, frogs and insects which visit our gardens.

Earth worms differ from worm farm worms.

Your worm farm needs worms that work in compost not soil. They can be purchased from most good hardware stores and on-line.

You may also purchase your worm farm container from any hardware store.

If however you want to make one for yourself, Grass Roots Magazine has featured various home constructed designs over the years and the internet gardening sites are full of great inventive ideas for recycling old box freezers, baths and all types of receptacles which will make great worm farms.

For me the main thing is that they are capable of being drained well and that they can be kept cool and moist and access to the processed worm castings is easy.

I originally purchased a box of a specially selected mix of various worms which will be active during different times of the year making the farm more efficient at gobbling up our waste.

It amazes me at times when I go down to visit them with a full container of scraps to  find they have been munching away so greedily since my last visit that the level has suddenly dropped because the weather has really suited some of the different breeds.

I feed them kitchen scraps, shredded paper; I don’t think you should put glossy or heavily coloured paper in with them. It is more suitable in compost bins or trenching into your garden -I love shredding advertising and political letter drops that are so wasteful. We also add raked up garden material and anything I think that will be able to be broken down. Sometimes a light sprinkle of lime is needed but if you crush your eggshells it may not be, they will keep the pH level even and stop the bedding becoming acidic.

I am aware that many people suggest leaving onions, garlic and citrus peel out but I find that they cope with small amounts of these foods quite well. I don’t ever put meat into them. They are vegetarians and could be most offended. It would also encourage flies and make the farm smell.

If we have a large amount of waste for any reason we put it into a different composting bin area where it is broken down.

I always imagine they have a party after I add some extra cow manure or chicken manure but then I may just be a little too imaginative sometimes.

The dog droppings go into a special compost bin and when the contents of that bin are ready, it is spread around the flower and ornamental gardens.

The ‘juice’ to use a polite word for the worm pee I put into one of those containers which can be attached to the hose and I water it onto the plants that way, sometimes combining it with fish emulsion. If you decide to do this, DO wash your plants before eating them!

Crush your eggshells and if you get a few vinegar flies put shredded paper or some grass clippings over them.

We have a sort of corkscrew/ bottle opener shaped metal pole my husband made for stirring the farm up when it seems a little solid or uneven.

Keep them moist but not wet. If they begin to come up to the lid of the farm it is usually because the weather or the conditions are too wet.

This year our snap dragons are over a meter tall and the spring garden has been the best since we returned to the North East of Victoria three years ago. When we came the garden was stunted, dry, hungry and in need of a big transfusion of liquid food.

During summer when the winds are dry and the temperatures are high we always keep the worms’ damp and put a shade cloth cover over the lid which is long enough to cover the sides. I also put a brick on top because it is usually this type of weather that brings wind with it. Ours are in the shade most of the time but wind can be very drying.

The ‘Under The Worm Farm Lid’ cartoons came about because I have a habit of chatting to the worms whenever I visit them. They aren’t great conversationalists but appear to be good listeners.

Because I’m a freelance writer of humorous articles and a big fan of the zany English comedies such as the Goon Show, Monty Python and other goofy English comedy I began to imagine some of the conversations which may well take place under our worm farm’s lid. So was born the cartoon series.’ Under The Worm Farm Lid.’ By ‘The Scrappers.’





Sunday, January 26, 2014

Thank you my friend.

Many years ago I came across a web page called Open Writing. It was moderated and managed by a man called Peter Hinchliffe.
I asked if I could make contributions and he was very accommodating and welcoming.
I never met Peter but we emailed one another and communicated through his site for years.
He was always helpful and encouraging and because of his background as a top journalist he would sometimes put on his editor's hat and give some much needed advice.
Usually in my case, it was to cut down the length of my submissions. (He was too polite to just say 'Get to the point.')
Well Peter has now decided it is time to close down his site and I'm sure like me, there are many of his former columnists who were saddened when he did and miss the weekly, monthly or occasional contact.
I thank you Peter for the years and the effort you put into your site. Its absence has left a gaping hole in my days but it was great and has resulted in my having the confidence to keep writing and publishing my work.
Good luck with the rest of your life, may it be long, satisfying and happy.

Liz T. .......Cynthia.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

                     Available On Amazon

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hooray, It has Only Taken About Twenty Years!!!

At last, after many years of writing I am to have a collection of short stories published.

                                    'What? No Roast!
Should be available on-line and as an e-book suitable for your Kindle in the next few weeks.
It will be a funny read and suitable as a stocking filler for your Christmas gift list.
                                        Move over Mr Hitchcock 

To preserve the privacy of the couple featured in this story I shall call them Jane and John. Just the way the two young things who featured in our first reading books when we were children were always call Jane and John. Although I always did feel that they led such very boring lives it made privacy quite unnecessary. No one in my class was particularly interested whether they went ‘to the street with mother’ or ‘jumped on a log or not’. We could all do that without having to write about it.

So I shall begin to tell you about my Jane and John.
Their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary was coming up and their teenage children clubbed together to pay for a surprise weekend holiday for the happy couple. They always worked long hours in their business and hardly ever took a great deal of time away from it.

 It was a kind and thoughtful gift.

All that Jane and John were told to do was to pack an overnight bag with clothes suitable for the city.

On the day of the anniversary the first thing which happened when Jane answered a knock at the door was to be confronted by a Jester.  He bowed and the bells on the end of his pointed cap tinkled prettily. The rest of his costume made of purple and gold material was very striking and a sight not often seen in the streets of an Australian country town.

After a few shouts of ‘Hear Ye, Hear Ye’ which brought John rushing to the door in a panic wondering what the bellowing was all about the Jester read and sang a song.

They stood gaping in amazement at the court fool before them as he recited the rhyme full of olde English words such as ‘prithee, thou, love divineth, marriageth-well, merry maids’ and various other dollops of Ye Merry England of old. It was quite incomprehensible but meant with the best of intentions to entertain and cheer the merry souls who listened.

When he had finished his song and they had crossed his palm with some silver he departed after performing a  grand flourish of his cape, which had until then gone unnoticed. He then bowed deeply and disappeared into the shrubbery to find his way out of the garden. Probably hoping to go unnoticed by the neighbours before reaching the safety of his trusty steed he no doubt had tied to a tree further along the street.

 Very soon after that a white limousine, which appeared to be about two house blocks in length drove into their driveway taking up most of the drive and quietly settled down comfortably like a hen in a cosy nest.

Jane and John still recovering from the medieval visitor looked out the window as the driver wearing a neat chauffer’s uniform doffed his cap in a jaunty way.

‘Lord, from the ridiculous to the sublime.’ John muttered.

The chauffeur accepted their overnights bags without a shadow of disappointment at the shabbiness of the luggage. The bags took up a miniscule area of the boot of the car and looked like a ‘couple of forgotten pieces of road kill’, as John remarked afterward.

Jane is not very tall and because she sat down too quickly found she was almost lying down. It took a struggle to get into a seated position so she could see out the window. She felt extremely self conscious driving through their neighboured in such an ostentatious vehicle and hoped she wouldn’t be seen by too many people. It would give some of the old biddies even more reason to complain of the exorbitant prices they accused them of charging in their shop.

It wasn’t very long before the limousine floated into the entry of one of the most opulent hotels in the city.

‘Oh, John,’ Jane groaned. ‘I wish I had bought some better luggage and packed some clothes that would be more suitable for this place.’
John who is a very casual chap and hardly ever out of grubby shorts and T-shirts, summer or winter, replied, ‘don’t worry about it, we wouldn’t ever think of paying for ourselves to come back here at any time. So they’ll never remember us anyway.’

They thanked the driver who had been a friendly fellow and ready to chat throughout the drive.

He wished them a happy weekend and the limousine slid away silently.

 The children had reserved the top floor bridal suite for them.

As they moved swiftly up through the floors in the elevator John remarked that the movement was enough to make his nose bleed.

Jane laughed a little, but it was only a little because she knew he wasn’t really joking. John had a problem with sudden nosebleeds. The doctor had suggested that perhaps he should see someone about them if they became any worse.

The elevator opened to reveal a beautiful suite, filled with fresh flowers perfuming the air. A large box of chocolates lay on the coverlet of the enormous bed with another small posy for Jane to wear on her dress that evening.

They had been told a table was booked for them in the hotel dining room for later.

‘Oh, how lovely, they are such thoughtful kids aren’t they?’ she said quietly as she smelled the lilacs and roses. ‘We are lucky.’ 

The dinner was a delight and to their surprise all the family and their partners had come. John made a small rather self conscious speech and they cut the cake with a new Stirling silver knife that their daughter had purchased for the family to present to them as a memento. 
Later, back up in the sumptuous suite John stood surveying the bathroom.

It was as big as their sitting room at home. He looked at the various cosmetics and toiletries the hotel had supplied.

‘Let’s have a spa bath.’

Jane gazed at the spa apprehensively. It was three times bigger than their bath at home.

‘Well, we’ve never had one’, she answered a little doubtfully. ‘I’m not sure how they work.’

‘Well, we’ll find out.’

The water began to rush into the bath as if he had opened an irrigation pump.

He poured some liquid into the gushing torrent. It was bubble bath oil and sparkling suds began to build a layer upon the surface of the water. The suds grew, and grew until a large foaming dome frothed and frolic on the watery surface.

 He turned the spa on and the bubbles began to multiply rapidly the way a meringue will grow to fill the basin in which it is being beaten by an angry chef taking his troubles out on the defenceless eggwhite.

Soon the bubbles were higher than the spa edges and began to flow down onto the tiled floor.

‘Oh you twit! Why did you put so much in?’ Jane panicked trying to pick the blobs of froth up.

‘Don’t worry about that. There’s a plug hole in the floor that will drain all that out. Come on my lovely, hop in and enjoy yourself.’ John was getting into the mood of the evening.

The candles they had lit on the bathroom shelves glowed and flickered romantically. The smell of the bubble bath was delightful.

Smiling, Jane began to tie her long hair up on top of her head.

‘Watch this.’ John stepped into the spa, sat down and disappeared beneath the snowy mountain.

‘You’ll have to take some out,’ Jane said when he resurfaced. ‘If I get in I won’t be able to breath.’

He obliged by splashing a few piles onto the floor. Then he disappeared beneath the foam again. Jane watching for his reappearance noticed a slight pink tinge to some of the bubbles. It seemed to be spreading.

John re-appeared smiling broadly. ‘Come on in, it’s great!’ He beamed at her and then watched bewildered by her change of expression to one of horror and then she screamed.

In the candlelight she could see that the pink tinge of the bubbles had turned to scarlet. Blood red scarlet streams of water and foam trickled from his nose, covering his chin beneath his happy grin. His chest was covered in sparkling blood bubbles.

Greatly shocked at her reaction he wiped his face and spread more of his vital fluid across his face and up into his eyes and hair. A large quivering mass of blood-stained bubble clung to one side of his head giving the appearance that his brain had exploded out of his scull.

Jane screamed again and threw a towel at this vision of a ghoul that was her husband of twenty five years. ‘Wipe your face, wipe your face.’

The flickering of the candles now turned the room into a sinister chamber of horrors she had only ever seen before in spine chilling movies.

Gone was the romantic atmosphere, gone was the loving ardour of half an hour before. Out ran Jane from the room.

John cleaned up the bathroom and they watched television for a while as they usually did before going to bed and a small brandy each helped to restore the frayed nerves a little.

As John predicted, they haven’t ever been back.  

Now, I think if our John and Jane books at school had them doing that sort of thing we might have paid better attention.

Cheers,    Cynthia.