I’m not listening

The Old Boy, the Wonder Dog and I are on holidays. We’re in a cottage/cabin/thing in the middle of cow and sheep country, about 20 minutes as the crow flies from the sea and in the foothills of a national park. (Spoiler alert to all burglars: our house is being minded.) We’ve been here before so, for all my long-term readers, you will remember me rabbitting on about the frogs in the dam and the goats in the paddock next door. The big billy-goat isn’t there any more so the others get a better look-in with the food. There are still yabbies (for the Americans think crawfish/crayfish/crawdad) in the dam and the yabbie net still remains unused, hanging on the cabin/thing/cottage wall. If I had to actually kill anything myself, to eat, I’d definitely be a vegetarian. I’ve noticed that the cows do most of their mooing in the middle of the night. I’ve given this some serious thought and the only reason I can come up with is so that they can find their way around in the dark. “Where are you, Maisie?” “Over here.” “Where?” “Here. And watch where you’re walking. Daisie’s got the runs again.” “Just keep saying my name until I find you, okay?” “Mooooooooooooo.” A lot of creatures make strange noises in the middle of the night. Possums growl and hiss. Frogs go, “Bong. Bong.” Weird birds call out. (I expect they’re night birds because the normal ones – the day birds – sound pretty, and the night ones are just too odd to get a daytime gig.) Then there’s the ever-present sound of someone feeding a wood-chipper. He says I’m making it up but I’m not. One day I’m going to record it and play it back to him, preferably around 2am. The beauty of being out here is that the world seems lush and green and peaceful and just plain nice. If we leave the television off (except for the football) we can pretend that the whole planet is like this. People are writing books and poetry and painting landscapes and planting vegetables and fruit trees. No one’s beating anyone else up. No one’s oppressing anyone. No one’s killing someone else because of their gender, or confusion about their gender, or their colour, or their political persuasion or their belief systems. No one’s being a Grade-A JERK! I know we’ll eventually have to return to reality but for now I’m happy to pretend I’m in Green Gables country and any minute now Gilbert’s going to pop round. (Had a huge crush on him when I was in primary school.) For now, if you have any bad news, save it until we get back and then only tell me if it’s absolutely necessary. As for now – lalalalalalalalaaaaaa – I’m not listening....

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How can I keep from singing?

When I was twelve, I belonged to a girl guides’ troop. We met in the evening. I had to walk home, on my own, at about nine o’clock when it was dark and quiet. I used to be afraid the whole time until I got home.  (It was only about a ten or fifteen minute walk but it felt like an hour.) I walked very fast but I didn’t run. I didn’t want whatever bad thing was lurking in the shadows to know I was afraid. I then discovered that if I sang Christmas carols, very loudly, as I walked – I wasn’t so afraid. I tried other songs but they didn’t have the same effect. There is something magical about Christmas carols. When my daughter was about six months old and my son was nearly three, the discs in my lower back finally fulfilled their niggling promise and blew up. That first night in hospital, as I lay on my bed unable to move and in a lot of pain, I could feel the dark shadows gathering around my bed. It was night-time and the patient who shared my room was asleep. The hospital lights were dim. I could feel the darkness growing and the fear rising in my chest, so I began to sing. This time I sang an old gospel song: His eye is on the sparrow.  “I sing because I’m happy.  I sing because I’m free. For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” The little dim light above my bed began to glow warmer and brighter and a deeper golden colour until the shadows were pushed back to the edges of the room. I felt as if I was cradled in someone’s arms. (My non-religious friends will attribute that to the drugs and my religious friends will say it was God. But,  I don’t really care what you think; I just know how I felt.) When I was diagnosed with breast cancer back in the 90s, I was sent to a hospital in the city (we were living in a small country town) where I had chest x-rays, ultrasounds, a bone scan etc. I sang throughout the day: old gospel songs, a couple of my favourite Christmas carols and a few Beatles’ tunes. I finished off the day with the Animals’, “We gotta get out of this place.” Whenever there have been difficult times in my life I have found myself singing. When I was much younger and cuter and had a reasonable singing voice, I used to get to sing at various places. One of my favourite songs (well before it became a hit for some woman who can’t raise her voice above a whisper) was: I cannot keep from singing. It’s sort of my life-theme. My life goes on in endless song above earth’s lamentations, I hear the real, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation. Through all the tumult and the strife I hear it’s music ringing, It sounds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing? While though the tempest loudly roars, I hear the truth, it liveth. And though the darkness ’round me close, songs in the night it giveth. No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that rock I’m clinging. Since love is lord of heaven and earth how can I keep from singing? When tyrants tremble in their fear and hear their death knell ringing, When friends rejoice both far and near how can I keep from singing? In prison cell and dungeon vile our thoughts to them are winging, When friends by shame are undefiled how can I keep from...

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The green-eyed monster

I’m being stalked by the green-eyed monster. I’m trying to give it the slip by keeping my head down and my nose clean, and thinking happy thoughts. But, I can still see it, out of the corner of my eye, lurking around the corner. So many of my editing clients have had their books published, held book launches, done book signings, run ‘win-a-free-copy’ competitions and generally done all those ‘author-type’ things that come with the territory of getting a book in print. Some even have pretty bookmarks and cute t-shirts to give away. I want some of that. Okay, I’ve got a book published as an e-book but it’s not the same. No launches, no book signings, no book-marks, no visit to schools, no free copies to give to special friends…  Sigh. Most of my clients have been picked up by traditional publishers; lucky them. I’ve had a number of publishers compliment me on my writing but they just can’t find room on their list. I almost wish they’d say they don’t like my writing and that I don’t have any ability and my characters are boring and the story line is dull… At least that would make some sense of it all. Instead they heap praises on me (which is nice) but they don’t want my book (which sucks). A few of my clients have gone the co-publishing/self-publishing route and they’re now busy selling copies to family and friends. If only I had enough money to pay to get it into print. However, it took a lot of careful juggling of finances to scrape up the pittance (less than $1000) I needed to get the book out as an e-book. There’s no way in heck that I could afford to pay the price for a print version. I’m getting tired, trying to market my e-book on the net. I have a FB fanpage but it’s a steady job coming up with ‘updates’ to keep the page alive. The people liking the page has dwindled to a very slow trickle. FB will help me advertise the thing, but that will involve regular payments (of course) of money I don’t have. Sigh (again). It all seems too hard for this old duck. I’m wondering, seriously, whether it’s all worth it. I’ve always wanted to tell stories. I love word-craft. People who’ve read my e-book have given generous, positive feedback. They seem to like it. I know I can write well but… It sometimes feels as if the universe is working against me. Oh well, back to the keyboard. I’ve just got to keep my head down and my nose clean so that you-know-what can’t sneak up on...

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