Friday, November 15, 2019

Phallic Friday - workshops

The South Coast Writers Centre and Wollongong Library have been hosting an Erotic Writing workshop for the last few weeks, and tonight is our 3rd session.

For the first 2 weeks, we discussed excerpts, articles, and the bad sex awards. The first week we focussed on erotica, but since most of the people were writing romance, the second week we looked at romance sex scenes (sexy and erotic stories). It's been a lot of fun - I've enjoyed discussing sex scene writing with like-minded souls.

We've talked about taboos. And discussed how some subjects (e.g. In The Romance of Lust, which was written in the 1870s, the main theme is incest) and how reader perspectives change with time. One participant noted that 20 years ago she may have just felt it was ick, but now in the time of #MeToo and the prevalence of child abuse discussions, it made her sick to read it. I wonder if it would even be published today?

These conversations have been so rewarding, thought-provoking, and fresh. I don;t think I have words to describe how freeing it is to sit around and discuss sex scenes with people who are keen, interested, and have well-thought-through opinions on sex in society and in literature.

We haven't done any writing or sharing as yet. So this week, I've a bunch of writing prompts to kick us off to writing our own sex scenes.

But I ran into an issue with getting prompts. Sex writing and reading and inspiration has become so accessible with computers and devices, that I didn't really think through the whole issue of how to have photos available, sitting on the table for inspiration. We don't have any photo places near us, only big stores with photo kiosk things. And those touch screens you have to use to get your photos printed...well, everyone sees them. See my issue?

I wrangled it so I could print when Mr E was with me. We could then both stand in front of the screen so no one accidentally got an eyeful. But he's hasty, and he clicked on the T&C before I could read them, and I blurted out (in a hushed whisper), "Wait, I wanted to check it was legal for me to print these." I thought Mr E was going to bolt. But he hung in there, and I hoped that our covering up the screen and the printing collection box, would keep us out of trouble. And it did!

So, I'm off to the workshop armed with writing prompts!

And next Friday, I'm doing a workshop on Shame with Lee Kofman as part of the Wollongong Writers Festival. I think I need to work on my shame!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Wildlife Wednesday - snorkelling

Popped down to the local rockpool for a swim and a snorkel. I like the rockpool for the first season snorkel just to get my shit together and make sure I remember what I'm doing, without the fear of drifting out to sea! LOL! Plus I always kid myself that it'll be warmer then the ocean - and it never ever is (even if it is filled by ocean water - go figure that!)

So, here are the photos from Monday's swim. And you know I'm not going to have any clue what these are, right? :)
These neon fish are so bright but less than 2 cm long

There were lots of these stripey fish escorting me around

Believe it or not, there's a few stripeys here, camouflaged well!

I was pleased I got this photo. The suckers on the tentacle caught my eye. An octopus tucked in between some rocks, with a stripey and a neon (top of image) 'guarding' the crevice.

This is some sort of sea slug, probably 10-15 cm long and 5-8 cm high, so not small at all. I've never seen a black with fluoro stripes sea slug - but I found it on Google - Chelidonura hirundinina sea slug

Let me pop in the links for this sea slug:
There's a picture here:
Oh, the thing I saw was much bigger than they say this grows to (40mm)... there is a C. ordinata and maybe it's that. I'll see what any of my books show.

Trails left by the marine gastropds (snails and whelks) grazing

A Sooty Oystercatcher popped down for a drink. I'm about 10 mins drive from the rockpool and we only get Pied Oystercatchers at home, so this was exciting even if it was above the water!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Footy Friday again

Last one, I promise! For this year anyway :)

Back in 2013 or 14, we started going to the games at WIN Stadium, which is the closest to us (and the home of Mr E's team). We make a day out of it and go and watch all the games that are on.

I really like watching the lower grade games because these guys are the next NRL heroes. You rarely get to see these guys on TV, but the talent some of them have is freaky. But it takes more than just talent to make it in the NRL. You're playing a team game, so you have to fit into a team. You have to work hard regardless of where you play. You have to have a personality that's ready to listen and learn, but also confident enough to see you through.

I like to watch the younger guys and see if I can pick who'll make it through and who we don't see again.

I had my eye on one guy because he showed all the traits I thought would make him an excellent NRL Player. On the field, he was fast and talented. A winger, but he came in for hard work taking up the ball when the forwards needed a break. His positional play was excellent. And fast, he could sprint down the field so quickly it was brilliant.

After their game, these guys often came and sat in front of us to watch the next game, so we'd get to see their interaction with each other and with the fans who came for autographs.

This guy was often out first. He sat to the side, but everyone sat with and around him. He was part of the team, joined in, laughed and joked with the others. But when kids came up to them, he never big-noted, was always polite, and would 'introduce' the kids to the other team members and sometimes nudge a guy to sign something. It's such a stupid word, but he seemed like a 'nice' guy.

At the end of 2018, I was absolutely devastated to read that he'd been dropped from the Dragons squad. Guys who were flashy and arrogant were kept - even though I felt they were never going to make it in NRL because of that attitude, no matter how talented they were.

In 2019, I rejoiced when I saw he'd been picked up by Manly. I think it's the only time in my life I've ever cheered for Manly, but I have been all year (except when they play Parra!).

He had a brilliant debut year and was up for the NRL Rookie of the Year, and won the Manly one.

Then he got picked for the Junior Kangaroos team.

I was absolutely thrilled for him and I loved watching him. But I'm also chuffed that I could pick a junior and watch him move through the grades to become a star. Mr E is still shaking his head at me and saying I'm creepy, but I mean nothing creepy or horrible.

I love watching people achieve. And the last few years have been such fun watching someone's NRL development.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Wildlife Wednesday - Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos

Feeding time!
Last week, I stood beneath a banksia tree where a family of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos were feeding. A youngster were squawking at full volume while its parents were feeding. Then one parent shoved a bunch of food in its beak and silence fell!

A couple of people came past and the family flew off, right over my head.

Birds in Backyards have info here.

The Australian Museum also have info, here.

There's a few YouTube videos with them feeding and calling. There's one here. When they screech, sometimes it's like someone is being killed!

They are magnificent birds, who visit here each spring-summer.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Footy Friday

Ryan Papenhuyzen scoring a try
I had a brilliant day at the footy last Friday. It was warm, but there was a nice cooler breeze, and we had a few passing splatters of rain but not enough to worry you.

The Junior Kangaroos at half time
Three games of football where the Junior Kangaroos beat France (62 - 4). This was a fabulous game if you were an Aussie. It gave the younger guys a great opportunity to throw the ball around, make connections, and experience the exhilaration of playing for your country.

Kira Dibb and a drop out

Shakiah Tungai scores

Look at the crowd in to watch the girls
The Jillaroos beat the Kiwi Ferns (28 - 8) but it seemed a much tougher game than the scoreline suggests. It was so good to see a good crowd to watch that game too. And afterwards, the girls walked around the ground and were in high demand.

Before the game, during the National Anthem, I got tears in my eyes. It was so moving. Women playing NRL, a woman refereeing, and female ballkids too.
Autographs and photos for ages

Josh Ado-Carr's try

Celebrating the win
The Kangaroos beat the Kiwis (26 - 4) in a game that I thought was a bit flat. But I guess I'd just seen two incredible games, and this one was a bit more of a stop-start affair. But it was great to watch some of the tough defense and the mad skills of Latrell Mitchell and speed of Josh Ado-Carr.

Before the game, the National Anthem was sung and goosebumps this time. The crowd of ~18 000 people sang. This rarely happens at the Rugby League, and it was such a moment. WIN stadium was filled with voices, pride, and possibly a few who object to the wording. I wish we could find wording that everyone could be proud of. That's one thing NZ do well with the Maori version of their anthem sung first and then the English version. It's incredibly moving.
Tyson Frizell

Ben Hunt and Cameron Munster

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Wildlife Wednesday - Eastern Great Egret

Last week I did a few bird surveys and I noticed that many birds seemed to be scarce when I was out counting, and arrived afterwards. How did they know!?! Except for the Black Swans on the river who tested my counting skills - 105 of them. I think that's more than my count for them last year.

Anyway, when I wasn't doing a count I saw an Eastern Great Egret. It was majestic.

I was driving out of the carpark at the beach and it stood in the grass at the edge of the road. About 1.2 m tall, it had its eye on something and stalked very slowly towards it, allowing me time to stop the car and snap photos out the window.

I've seen lots of the smaller cattle egrets, and I've often wondered if  I was mistaking them for the Great Egret, but now I know that there is no mistaking them. This bird stands about twice or three times the size of the cattle egrets.

And a great thing about this bird - I knew it, as soon as I saw it - and an even better thing - when I read the Birdlife website's description and it said the Great Egret had a distinctive kink in its neck, my heart temporarily sank, and then I looked at the photos again and there was that kink. I'm always excited by kinks, but this one was special! I got an id right :) :) :)

Friday, October 25, 2019

Footy Friday

Three International Games today

3.10 pm Junior Kangaroos vs France

Oh, I can't wait for this. The Junior Kangaroos are young guys who mostly play 1st grade, so there's not a lot of junioring about it. There are some speedy guys - Kalyn Ponga, Reuben Garrick, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Campbell Graham, Zac Lomax. Some big clever runners and offloaders - Angus Crichton, David Fafita, Victor Radley. There's bucketloads of enthusiasm - Brodie Croft and Reed Mahoney. And I can't wait to scream myself silly - or cheer loudly anyway!

Then there's Jillaroos vs Silver Ferns (Australia vs New Zealand women's game). Last week, the Silver Ferns beat the Jillaroos in the World Cup 9s, and I don't think the Jillaroos were very happy about that. Let's see if they can fight back and take the win. There are some cracker players in both teams, so this will be brilliant! I can't wait.

And then there's the Australian Kangaroos vs New Zealand Kiwis (men's game). My favourite player has retired so I'm without a specific player to watch. I'll be cheering for the team in this one.

I love how the rugby league season has drawn out a little longer this year. Although, it's forecast to be in the 30s, so maybe the players won't be so thrilled at the drawn out season. I'm going to bask and enjoy the games.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Wildlife Wednesday - Bird Count Week

It's the week for counting birds, of the feathered kind, if you're in Australia.

Aussie Backyard Bird Count details are here.

This is a really easy and fun thing to do.

Download the app, sit outside for 20 mins, and record the birds you see and how many of them.

If you count like this, it's absolutely decadent!
If you're not sure about birds, there's a handy look up system, with photos and location maps.

The app sends the data in for you after the allocated time is done (there's a counter). Or you can log in on a computer and send your counts through that way.

Up until the 27th October, you can sit outside in 20 min blocks and claim you're doing science - a citizen science project. That's almost like working!

How many birds have you counted?

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sunday Story - retiring heroes

My sporting hero retired last weekend with a Grand Final win as a fitting farewell (as well as a professional foul and 10 minutes in the sin bin, but we'll forget about that for now).

His rugby league achievements are phenomenal in terms of statistics, wins, and trophies. For me, it's other things that have made him my hero. I think the Australian coach summed up what I've always noticed - that's he's the greatest team player. And many said the same after the Grand Final - how he made them a better player, how he made the team a better team.

And so, he's left the playing field a little emptier but as a person, I'm much changed by having watched him play the sport he loves.

The lasting 'gifts' my two greatest sporting heroes have brought to my life are:

Mindfulness. I'll always associate that with him.

My previous hero gave me the gift of knowing that it was okay for my car to have a good, sheepskin car seat only on the driver's seat. LOL! This is not something Mr E is real thrilled about - but then he only gets in my ute occasionally!

Have your heroes left lasting impressions on your life?

Friday, October 11, 2019

Phallic Friday - Erotic After Dark Workshop

Erotic After Dark is a workshop, hosted by the South Coast Writers Centre and Wollongong Library that's beginning next week, find out more here. If you'd like to book, the link is here.

This is a series of four gatherings to work on and discuss erotic writing. Too often this sort of writing is shunned and not talked about, but I don't think it's so bad. Erotic writing has always occurred. It's not something new.

Many times 'erotic' has been a catch-cry to shock or garner attention, but in my mind erotic writing is something that fills the mind, touches the senses, and engages.

What is erotic writing?

To me, it's writing that is primarily centred around sex. So much so, that if you remove the sex from the story, there is no story.

It doesn't have a specific genre or literary component to fit. It can stand alone.

It can also slip in with any genre, e.g. erotic thriller, erotic horror, erotic romance, erotic suspense, erotic crime. But whatever genre it works in, sex is still the focus of the story. If the sex was removed, the story still does not exist.

Let me illustrate with an example. After the huge success of Fifty Shades of Grey, quite a few books came out claiming to be erotic (in many genres), or claiming to be the next thing to read if you liked Fifty Shades. Most claims were false, in my mind. I bought an erotic thriller. It wasn't. It was a thriller, suspenseful, dark, crime novel, certainly, and it had sex in it for sure. But the sex was added to the story - loads of sex, sometimes only a couple of sentences to indicate that there had been sex. This isn't erotic by my definition. I could have taken all that sex out and there was still a story - less provocative but still there. The sex didn't add to the character development, it just happened. It wasn't described to engage the reader, it was there as words to show it had sex, as a marketing ploy. Sometimes I had to re-read sections to see why/if she'd had sex, but then I still wasn't clear as to the motivation or reason. It was just an event, like smoking a cigarette or walking down the street.

If you look back in time at erotic writing, it's been used for many purposes, but whatever the purpose, the central theme was sex.

The writings of Sappho, who lived between 620 and 570 BCE, are some of the early erotic poetry still read today. It's poetry of love and lust, to delight the senses. The Song of Songs in the Old Testament of The Bible is again a love story of a couple coming together in marriage and then being apart before coming together again. The Kama Sutra is probably one of the most well-known pieces of erotic writing. Vatsyayana is thought to have lived somewhere between the 1st and 6th century CE. It's many lessons on how to live and love.

The Carnal Prayer Mat bu Li Yu was written in the 1650s in China and is an erotic comedy which also gives social commentary. In 1748, John Cleland's erotic novel, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, Fanny Hill, was first published. A story of a young woman's debauchery after being orphaned. The work of the Marquis de Sade came later, after the 1760s and were dark erotic stories also with social commentary (although there is some dispute about this). Most had themes of sexual awakening /education /debauchery.

Erotic writing changes through time, as all literature does, but the central theme of sex does not change. It's the hallmark of the term.

Sex is a fascinating way of looking at humanity and making comments on society. If you're interested at all, come along and join in the discussion.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Wildlife Wednesday: Jellyfish and periwinkles

I was roaming along the river the other morning and found this jellyfish covered in periwinkles. I've never seen anything like it before but there were a few periwinkles on jellyfish but not as many as this specimen!

The river is starting to silt up again after being flushed open a few times in recent years. It's also been rather dry, so not a lot of fresh inflows into the river system. The water is getting murky, and there's quite a lot of brown algal growth and dying seagrass weed.

We had an influx of jellyfish in the river the last time it opened to the sea near me (it opens further around usually, but in flood it also breaks open here). There were hundreds of the round jellyfish with tentacles, and quite a few reports of people being stung by them, however, I hadn't been.

Jellyfish with tentacles
So, I googled and found out about these tentacled jellyfish. They're jelly blubbers (Catostylus mosaicus) and there is more information from Australian Geographic, here.

There has always been a few of the crescent shaped jellyfish, but there have been quite a lot more of these lately too.

OMG! I googled again. These crescent-shaped things aren't jelly fish but egg masses laid by moon snails. Holy cow! All my life I've had that wrong - imagine that! LOL!

This article is from SA, but relevant here in NSW, I hope! Read about egg masses here. And here's one from Victoria, here.

I started wondering if the shells on the egg mass were moon snails and not periwinkles...but I haven't been able to find that yet.

My mind is blown. I'll have to look later after I recover from the shock of that not being a jellyfish!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Wildlife Wednesday - Australian Raven or Crow

Single crow nest in tree - just to the lower left of centre.
I have an Australian Raven pair nesting in a tree above my house, and they have a pair of chicks. I can't tell you how excited I've been watching these birds. I'm a nature nut, so it's not unusual for me to be excited by what I see around me, but this has been next level - even for me!

Noticing crows around is fairly normal. I've watched Noisy Minors harass them. Their call is distinctive and I often hear them. A few months ago, I watched as they build a nest of twigs and sticks high up in the gum tree. I've watched them come and go from that nest, scare other birds away, protect their nest fiercely.

About 3 weeks ago, my relationship with the crows changed.

We have Plovers (Masked Lapwing) nesting on our roof out the back. They've done this for the last few years and it amused me listening to their antics and hearing their protective screams as other birds or possums get too close.

We also have sulphur-crested cockatoos who land on the roof and walk across to the edge before screeching at me for some reason when I'm outside. I usually stick my head up and have a chat to them.

Sometimes pigeons also land on the roof and make a fumbling waddle to the side. I can tell this is a different bird to the cockatoos. The cockatoos are rather heavy in their landing, but walk quite cleanly. A pigeon is quite light in the landing and then scrambles around as if it can't pick its feet up and is skidding across the roof.

Two nests - with a crow
Back to a few weeks ago. It was a Sunday and I was watching the football with Mr E, when I thought a cockatoo landed on our front verandah roof. It walked across the roof to the driveway, but it's footsteps were loud and incredibly deliberate. I wanted to know who the cockatoo was with the big loud footsteps (Yes, Mr E thinks I'm nuts).

I went outside, to the edge of the verandah and I peered up just as a Noisy Minor was scurrying away after harassing... a crow! Standing at the edge of my verandah roof right above my head was the most magnificent crow, blue-black feathers gleaming. I don't think I've ever seen one so close. The eye was the most brilliant white in all that dark lushness of feathers. In the few seconds I had to admire, I lost my heart to the magnificence of the bird. And then the crow looked down, saw me, squawked, I yipped, it took off. It was all over - except for my heart racing so fast!

Since then, the chicks have hatched in the nest - 2 of them. The parents have been busy feeding and protecting them, and lately the young have been standing on the edge of the nest, stretching their wings. Then over the last couple of weeks, the adults have been busy making a second nest quite close to the first one. I've been privileged enough to watch the parents selecting sticks to make that nest. I assumed they picked sticks up off the ground but I'm wrong. The selection of sticks for nest building is quite an intricate process. They don't just pick any old stick. Each is selected by running their beak along them, while they're still attached to a tree! I assume they're looking for a particular size and maybe flexibility judging from the way they tested each stick. Then there was quite a site selection occurring before they broke the twig from the branch. Instead of just flying up to the nest, they seem to make quite a lot of hops up the tree, and short flights from branch to branch, before taking flight to weave the twig into place. When the crows fly with a stick, you can hear the wing beats quite loudly, much more so than with a normal flight, so I imagine that it takes some effort to lift and carry each twig that makes up the nest.

This isn't zoomed. Nests are way up, just to the right of centre.
I suppose it took about 8-10 days to build the second nest. Over the past weekend, the chick that was flapping its wings the most and hopping on twigs above the nest, moved house. We now have a chick in each nest. On Sunday, as I pegged out the washing, the chick in the new nest took a series of hops across to visit the old nest. I was incredibly trilled to see this journey. Today, I spied an adult and this fledgling returning from a short flight (I think).

It's been an incredible experience. And right above my house. I've been honoured to witness this  family - and I've spent an awful lot of time with binoculars lately!

The Australian Museum website has some information about Australian Ravens, also called Crows. You can find it here.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Saturday Soapbox - Social Media Friends

The term "Friends" used on social media platforms is such a misnomer.

In Real Life (IRL) a friend is someone who has been selected to be close to you. You've allowed them into your closest circle for a reason. Perhaps you share the same, or similar, views and/or values. Maybe you're from the same socio-economic and/or cultural and/or educational background.

Traditionally friends are 'vetted' in some way before you allow them close to you and your thoughts. Over life, friends may come and go, as things change. If you're lucky, you may keep some friends for your whole life.

Friends may come and go, easily or in more fraught circumstances. Friendships may fizzle, or there may be a spectacular falling out, or anything in between.

Social media is a whole different ball game. We collect friends like it's a contest. We have few 'criteria' they need to 'pass'. We receive a request and we accept.

Friends come to us from a variety of ways, sometimes with only the smallest of connections.

There is no category aside from 'friends'. We don;t have separate compartments for friends, acquaintances, work colleague, team mate, friend of a friend of a friend, random stranger, person I met at a bar. We're all just friends, and most people share all their social media posts with everyone who's a friend.

There's generally no filter on these friendships. We don't only see team mates when we play sport or train. We see our team mate at every moment, with everything they share. We see their whole life. IRL we may never have known their sexual, religious, political, race, gender, environmental, etc etc preferences because we only intersected at sport.

Have you ever had a team mate who was your best mate on the field, but you never saw them away from the game? I have. I knew not a thing about their life away from sport for a few seasons. On the field, I trusted them to have my back, to be ready for me/my pass, to help me out, make me look competent. We cheered each other, slapped each other's back, encouraged each other when energy waned in a game. We'd celebrate with arms around each other, huge grins, and goofy silliness. It wasn't until someone commented about my over-familiarity when they thought I was straight, that I realised she was gay. I never crossed into that part of her life. My sexuality, and hers, were not important on the sporting field. We were team mates and our bond on the court didn't cross into any other parts of life. But once I knew, did I treat her differently? Did she treat me differently? I wish I could say that it had no impact, but it did. We were much more guarded with each other. BUT ... why did it change anything?

When you see all of someone's life, there is a high degree of 'intimacy'. And because everyone is different, there may not be a lot of things from one person's life that aligns perfectly with your life.

I wonder if we're ready to see ALL of everyone?

Are we tolerant enough to allow our 'friends' to hold different view to what we hold? On the important issues as well as the trivial?

Friday, September 20, 2019

Phallic Friday - erotic literature

I'm teaching a workshop about erotic writing in October and November and in preparation I thought I'd go through some of the erotic literature I own and pull out some excerpts to discuss.

When we moved into this smaller house, I had to downsize my book collection. If you're a book-lover (hoarder), you might know what a challenging task this is. I couldn't part with my erotic collection and so I hid it in the garage in a chest of drawers, where Mr E would never notice it and would never know that I remained a dreadful book hoarder.

I thought I had a few books, maybe 6 or 8. Ahem. I underestimated. Quite considerably. There were almost 40 books there, a few more remained on the shelves in the house. I was thinking of taking the books to the workshop, but I'll need a huge suitcase to lug them in!

I'm so glad I squirrelled them away. It was like being reunited with old friends. And how much fun am I going to have going through them and finding excerpts. I may have to read some of my favourites again.

Do you book hoard? Do you have favourite old book friends?

PS I have to say how much this blog has meant to me. Over the past 8 years, I've expressed myself on here, opening myself up to all manner of discussions, thoughts, ideas, challenges. I've been able to do that without much fear (because I don't advertise this blog, so very few people read it - thank you to those who do MWAH!), with time to think, research, and write sometimes with regularity and sometime spasmodically. Having this presence here has taught me so much about myself, made me push beyond my comfort zone, and get me to a place where I feel comfortable talking about sex, writing, erotic writing, and many related topics. I wouldn't be doing workshops, and loving doing them, if it wasn't for my blog journey. Thank you for being a champion, a teacher, a discipline, and a space for my growth. Thank you blog readers for being on my journey with me.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Wildlife Wednesday - Olive-green Coastal Katydid

For the last few weeks, this grasshopper has hung around on the outside wall, and I tried to ignore him/her but they were calling for their photograph to be taken. Yet, when I began taking photos, apparently, they weren't all that thrilled by the camera in their face and made some quick movements to a higher place where my camera could not reach!

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll know my ID of critters is not the best even if I try hard. In fact, my uni tutor used to laugh and say "no" before I even gave him an ID I'd worked out... that's how bad I am! Which means I have no clue what this grasshopper is... or even if it is a grasshopper. And just to make things worse, I did a grasshopper collection for a uni assignment and I'm sure I had one of these guys in it and I'm sure way back then I may have even known what it was, but alas, it's fallen through my brain cracks (I was thinking Tettigoniidae family because of that pointy part on the top of the face. I've a vague memory that all pointy faced things are that family. But that seems to be Katydids and Tree Crickets and I don't think that's right).

The Australian Museum has some info you can read here.

And that led me to a photo of a similar creature, which is here. And much to my shock and surprise, it's an Olive-green Coastal Katydid, in the Tettigoniidae family!!! It has similar markings on the body. Being nocturnal may explain why I see it sitting on the wall every day. Maybe I should be glad that it's stayed on my outside walls and hasn't moved in to live in my curtain folds!

And if I've got this ID wrong, feel free to correct won't be the first to do so! :)

Friday, August 30, 2019

Phallic Friday - sex ed

I'm in the last week of my OWL for RWA (ie an online writing workshop for Romance Writers of Australia) on Getting Comfortable Writing Sex. I can't begin to tell you how exciting it's been...and when I put it into words, I sound kind of nutty, but let me try.

18 people signed up for it. I thought it might be just me, so that was a relief.

Not many of them have been interactive, but 2 people have been really chatty. We've discussed published sex scenes - about 10 - and looked at what's worked and doesn't work for them.

We had a discussion about word choices, which was really interesting. There are so many words that people find objectional/offensive/uncomfortable. And everyone's different with their tolerance levels too. Such a great discussion.

Both people who've been active, have had lightbulb moments (what a thrill for me). Both have written a sex scene and shared it. Both have stretched where they thought their comfort zone was. One has taken the feedback and written more sex scenes that have so much more in them, that it's fantastic to see that development. The other has gone back to look at spicing up their whole manuscript because they enjoyed writing their first sex scene. Can you believe that?

Never in my wildest dreams did I hope that my course could have that impact - okay, maybe in the wildest dreams, but not the realistic ones! And I'm thrilled. We haven't done anything except read and discuss published sex scenes. But these writers have been open-minded, willing to discuss and push their boundaries, and I'm so grateful for their enthusiasm and openness.

I've taken a bit of a leap of faith, and I'm running a similar course with a face-to-face group with writers in general (not romance writers). The leap of faith is that I've only asked for a guarantee of petrol money, no payment for a 4-6 week course. Funding was applied for, and apparently this course was quite a volatile proposal that caused much debate. Should public money be used to fund sex? In the end, the answer was no.

Even if it's not funding sex, apparently writing sex scenes is still the same as funding sex.

I'm a little sad about that.

But it's not unexpected. There's an article on the ABC News website today, written by a 20-year-old, about the lack of sex education/discussion in society (you can read it here). And I just finished watching a TV series on SBS called The Hunting, (you can watch it here), where the theme was sexting and lack of discussion/education around this topic (also the law, patriarchy, racism, and other riling topics were touched upon, and sometimes not resolved much to my annoyance). SBS has also put out an education package to help with people who want to help discuss the sexting issues with kids/teens/others (you can find that here).

I hope things might change in the future, and that sex may not be such a taboo topic that we shun it or shy away from thinking about it or presenting/discussing available information.

And I hope one day that I might be able to receive funding and payment for a writing course, even if it discusses writing sex scenes!

Did you watch The Hunting

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Wildlife Wednesday - Toado

It's an age since I've done a wildlife post, and an age since I've been swimming/snorkelling, so I'm going to traipse down memory lane here.

I'm not a great fan of winter because, although the water isn't freezing, the air is cold and it makes swimming uncomfortable...unless you have a wet suit and then you can manage it the swim and getting changed - under a warm shower!

In teh bottom left of the photo is a toado (as I call them) which are properly called a Common Toadfish, but they're also called a Weeping Toadfish according to the Australian Museum Website (you can find it here).

A weeping toadfish because of the marks beneath their eyes...which I have to say I've never noticed. Not when snorkelling, or when fishing and catching these pesky things! I must have a better look next time.

I call these pesky because we always caught them when we were fishing as kids. They put up a pretty reasonable fight, so you'd think you had something good...but a toado. It was so disheartening. At least they're easy to get off the hook, even with their prickly skin. My sister changed our view on them when she caught one on an empty hook - that was pretty fun. I'm pretty sure she also caught one on bubble gum, although maybe that was another kid. Anyway, these guys are a fishing kid's joy/pain!

They have a great coloured camouflage system too, like sharks, where the top of them blends well into the ocean background (sand, rock, weed) when you're looking down on them. If you're looking up, you see their pale underneath, which makes them tricky to spot. Really clever.

And as it warms up here, I'm a bit keen to get into the water again. I have had a couple of quick ocean dips this winter, but I haven;t snorkelled since May/June when I thought it wouldn't be so cold and yet I was chilled to the bone!

Roll on summer fun.

Are you a fan of winter? How about toados?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Weird Wednesday Wonderings

This is just a random weird post of me trying to sort out my head.

So, I did a thing a few months back, where I rented out space to a young guy who needed a place to stay so he could keep the job he loved.

When he'd been here for some time, something happened. Actually, a whole lot of things happened. But in a nutshell, I got really busy doing things and even though I noticed things were slipping with him, I didn't know how to ask without prying so I left it. I did most of the usual things I'd been doing but I didn't do any extra, or ask any questions.

Then he left his job. Left our place. Something happened and he was gone back home.

I'm left wondering if I did enough. Wondering what on earth happened. Did he really love his job and then fall out of love with it so quickly?

I remember being a kid, and yes, these things happen. You drift in and out of things. Permanence isn't necessary because there's a whole world to explore. You aren't bound by commitments.

Although, I was bound by duty - or what I perceived was my duty. I was taught that commitments were things you couldn't break and I often took these teachings to the nth degree.

I was a Brownie Guide and when I was 8 years old, I made the Brownie Promise which was quite a solemn oath that I took very seriously - and I find even to this day, it often plays in my mind. The words were: I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God. To serve the Queen and my country. To help other people and to keep the Brownie Guide Law. The law was: A Brownie Guide thinks of others before herself and does a good turn every day.

They're pretty full on promises for a little kid to make. And I was promising to put everyone before me - which kind of grates at my nerves today.

These promises have very much shaped my life.

When I was the age of the young man who stayed with me, I had an opportunity to quit what I was doing and take another path. I didn't take the other path, not because of any deep thoughts, but because I'd be breaking my commitment to what I was currently doing.

When my jobs have been detrimental to my mental health, I've hung in there ... because I'd made a commitment.

I wonder what my life would be like if I'd not taken the Brownie stuff to heart and followed opportunities as they arose.

I wonder what this young guy's life will be like and if in time, he'll wonder what would have happened if he'd stayed.

Maybe life is all about these sliding door moments. Destiny is all about whether or not we manage to slip in the closing door, or stay right where we are.

I have no answers to any of this. It's just random musings to get them out of my head.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Fearless Friday - promo

I'm just back from the annual RWA Conference, this year it was in Melbourne. It's such an incredible weekend of information, friends, networking, catching up on industry news, meeting people, talking, and all sorts of book/writing things.

This year I had a mission. As the other me, a friend and I had a book out - for writers. So I planned to do promo and generate some interest at conference. I had a heap of magnets to give away and a box of books to sell.

The layout of conference wasn't really conducive to people picking up freebie stuff. And people don't really pick up freebies. So, I grabbed all my courage and I roamed around at morning tea shoving magnets in people's hands.

I don't know why, but I feel like a beggar when I do that. I wonder if I had to beg in a past life, because it's massively uncomfortable for me to face down that fear/discomfort. Actually, it is a fear, because I'm waiting the whole time for someone to yell at me and chase me away - I'm not quite sure who would do this, but it's still that fear in me.

And then I had to leave early, and I had about 60 books that weren't looking like being bought and weren't going to fit in to my luggage restriction for the flight home. What to do!?

I shoved them in unsuspecting hands.

And yes, even giving away a book I still felt like a beggar. I know it's insane. But I did.

I gave away quite a lot of books, facing down all that fear of someone yelling at me.

This week is recovery week.

I love conference, but man it takes it out of me!

I'll try to get post some notes of what I learned next week - my brain might work by then!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Connecting with Strangers

I don't know who said this, and googling didn't help me this time, but I love this quote:

People are only strangers if you let them be strangers; otherwise, they’re only strangers for an instant.

It's coming up to RWA Conference time, so meeting people is on my mind. I went to my first RWA Conference in 2009... and shared a room with my Critique Partner. We'd been working together for a bit over a year, and yet we were meeting face-to-face for the first time at conference - and sharing a room! Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn't it? But it was awesome!

For quite a few years I've shared a room with someone I've not met face-to-face, and it's been such fun. It's the whole 'getting to know you' after already kind of knowing them through their online presence.

The wonderful thing is that most people's online presence is just the same as their face-to-face one! That's always astounding, even as it seems obvious.

Recently, I've had a boarder share my home, and it's been a similar kind of thing. You know someone from chatting to them in a work situation, but you get to meet them on a whole different level in a out-of-work space. I've really enjoyed that experience, and I'd do it again too (you know, if it was entirely up to me).

This RWA Conference, I'm sharing with three people I've never met face-to-face, but they all know each other. It seems crazy that you can chat to people for years online and never actually manage to meet up... but I'm rectifying that! And I'm so looking forward to it.

How do you go with strangers? Do they quickly become friends?