Saturday, September 29, 2018

Footy Fever

It's Grand Final weekend for the AFL and NRL...which means lots of research for me :)

My team didn't make it - they were totally at the wrong end of the table.

And I don't know if my footy hero will be playing - he's under an injury cloud - but I think if he stayed on the field last week in agony, he'll be there this week. And it's not like the injury is new - he had that shoulder taped a few years ago. Weird that it wasn't taped when he reinjured it last week. Anyway, enough of my musing.

Hope your team wins! But especially Lily Malone's West Coast Eagles, and my hero's Roosters.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Phallic Friday - sex and illness

I saw this post last Saturday on the ABC website - - about cancer, sex and intimacy.

It interested me initially because it was about some doctors not discussing impacts of illness/treatment on sexuality. This is a really important factor, not just with cancer, but with any illness.

If you're struggling with your health, you're struggling with your body. You may also be struggling with energy levels. And/or you may battling other symptoms or problems.

At times when you're in crisis, sex isn't something that may interest you. Sometimes you need to be relaxed, and in tune with yourself to be able to participate fully in sex.

What astounds me is that some people/doctors don't see it as a point that should be discussed before decisions are made. Maybe the woman in question was 'unlucky' and had a doctor who couldn't discuss sex with her...the article doesn't give us any statistics.

What the article does show is a gender bias - but is that real or just the portrayal in the article? Or is it not gender bias per se, but a functional thing? Or is it a long-standing gender bias where most medical research has previously been focussed on male bodies and not female bodies, particularly in genital areas? Does a doctor realise that function of a penis may be compromised when certain areas are affected, but does not think about a similar impact in women because of the 'hidden' nature of female genitalia?

The article poses a lot of interesting questions. I wonder if there's much research done on the topic.

Does anyone know?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday - aphids

In my garden I'm rather loathe to use insecticides, however, Mr E is quite fond of them, so bugs in my yard can be free-living or killed, depending who has time to be out there!

At the moment, it's my space, so things are free. I have Orchid Beetles on my orchids but I just can't kill them even though they kill all the flowers off. I have aphids on my new jasmine leaves. I have ladybirds and butterflies. Spiders galore. Wasps and bees. It's really quite lovely.

Gardening Australia have a fact sheet about aphids, saying they need controlling because not only do they suck the life out of your plants, but they can spread disease. Rather than spray, they have organic tips for removal - like cutting off the parts that are infested.

I'd like to be that diligent about bugs, but I'm a live and let live person. If the bugs aren't harming me or causing serious problems, I hope that natural control will work. Something like ladybird numbers increasing so they'll eat the aphids. Maybe birds picking them off and eating well.

Maybe I'm a bit too one way, but I think I balance out Mr E's insecticide use :) Sometimes I think my Environmental Biology training sneaks so far through the Agriculture, that I may have needed that balancing up!!

How do you go with bugs?

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sunday Story - binging on non-fiction

So I'm still on a non-fiction binge. I'm devouring the most incredible books. I guess they're all "new age" or something like that if you need a definition/category.

Many years ago, I started writing this story after an idea popped into my head. I called the story Past Lives, and I've blahhed about it on here before. I went to a workshop and the story got hammered by the presenter. I shoved it away. But those things I shove away never quite stay hidden. This story has bugged me for years. And I went down a 'research' worm hole learning more fascinating things than I imagined possible. Do you ever do that?

I know I've blogged about a few of these books in recent months, and I want to keep a bit of a track of what I've read. So here are a few more:

The Empath's Survival Guide by Dr Judith Orloff.
This book was perfect for me. It has questions to determine if you're an Empath or not. I was a bit skeptical about the book and the questions. I seemed to be answering yes to everything, which was insane because the results section gave quite low scores. For example, there might be 15 questions. It said, if you answered yes to 0-3, you have some empath traits, 4-8 you're a medium empath, 9 or more, you're a strong empath (or something like that). When I was getting 14 or 15 yes responses, 9 seemed rather low. So I asked Mr E a bunch of questions. Strangely, he didn't get 15 yes responses! And I realised it was possible that I may be a little different to everyone else. Let me tell you, it was a bit of a shock to read things that I thought were what everyone did/hear/felt, but to learn that isn't so. I'm not sure how I'll go now, knowing I'm in a defined box - it sort of makes me itchy!

Messages from the Masters by Brian Weiss
A friend loaned me this one next. It's about past lives, and how some people have deeply embedded memories of previous lives, or the state in between physical lives. It was completely and utterly fascinating. I went to look up how to study hypnosis while I was reading it! - I felt an urge to let everyone benefit from this practice. I won't be doing it though, unless I win lotto.

I've been hypnotised before. A few years back. It was a mind-blowing experience. I went in skeptical, and expecting not to go under. I went under so quickly it shocked me, and then I went deeper and deeper, and I knew I was, and I wasn't worried at all. I remembered things from my childhood with such clarity. It was a very healing process in more ways than I expected it to ever be.

As I've read this book, I have more and more thoughts about my Past Lives story. And I have weird prickling sensations about what I wrote in this story. Many of the dreams I wrote for my character are actual dreams and thoughts I had. Initially I thought I was just engrossed in the writing and my characters were taking over - but what if that's not it? What if I'm writing stories of my past lives? I'm a bit spun out by that thought...however, I want to explore that story more now!

And while I've been off in the New Age reading, I've hit the pagan section too. I've been playing with Runes and Tarot, crystals and meditation, and thought I should find out more. I read a blog post by Danielle Dulsky and I went an immediately ordered her book. It was a powerful post and the words sang to me.

Woman Most Wild by Danielle Dulsky is incredible. I'm not quite sure how to describe it. I guess it's her call to other women, asking them to know themselves. It's sort of a bit of a pagan/witch explanation book (sorry, I don't know how you explain that any better), but it's more than that. It's a personal memoir in a way, but so much more. It's written as if she's speaking to the reader. Calling you to action. Asking if you notice or know the things she does.

I followed her on Instagram, as you do, and she has a brand new book which arrived last week but I haven't yet opened - The Holy Wild.

Am I a witch? Well, in my Past Lives writing, I wrote stories of being killed for my beliefs (or the character's beliefs). I wrote stories of being a herbal healer. And I tend towards that type of medicine now for myself - and I'm fussy about who I see and how they treat me. I feel strongly about nature, believing in Mother Nature instead of the more patriarchal 'God'. I work best outdoors. I feel the change of seasons. I believe in karma/fate. I've never cast a spell, but I have had wishes come true. I've never been to a pagan gathering, but I've sat around many campfires and felt such peace. I don't practice the Wiccan religion, but does religion make you a witch? I hate boxes, so I don't know the answer to the question.

I'm not sure where this reading is taking me...but I have so much fodder for stories. I have my Past Lives story to rework, and I know some of the things I was criticised for including in that story are not 'wrong'. And that terrifies me (how did I know?) and excites me (how did I know that?) :)

What have you been reading? Do you ever go on reading binges?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday - Satin Bowerbird

I know I shouldn't still be ridiculously excited about having Bower birds in my yard...but I am!

This morning, the male came and drank at one of the water bowls in my yard, while I was nearby. OMG. I was grinning so hugely. I didn't have my camera, but the colour of his feathers - that impossibly glossy blue-black - is forever embedded in my memory.

This arvo I tossed some seed out to see if I could lure him when I had my camera, and I did! I didn't get very close, so not great shots, but he's getting more used to me now...and that's so exciting!

And a week later, I looked out my window when I heard the now-familiar chattering calls, and to my shock, I found two females and while I was snapping, the male came too.

These shots aren't great because it's through the window and it's not clean!

I might embarrass myself by saying this, but I stood at that window snapping as the females skittered and fluttered around each other, calling as if they were chatting to each other. It was quite a dance and I just kept snapping, completely amused by the pair.

When the male came, I almost fell through the glass trying to get a shot of all three together. Luckily they aren't as skittish now, so the bang of the camera on the glass didn't scare them off!

I downloaded the photos (gawd, how can you take 100 photos of birds, within a few minutes, through a blooming window!?!?!) and as I scrolled through them, I saw something I hadn't seen while snapping - the females were courting dancing. The two females!? I dug out my Pizzey, and it said that it takes up to 7 years for the males to develop the satin-blue feathers of an adult male. For the first 4 years, the males look like the females.

Maybe I have a female and a juvenile male. Or two juvenile males - wouldn't that upset the adult male!?

I'm learning more...and I'm loving my backyard. (And yes, writing stops, and all other work too, while I hang out the window watching fake courtship displays!)

What's keeping you amused this spring (or autumn if you're in the northern hemisphere)?

Can you see all 3 birds in this one?

Friday, September 14, 2018

Phallic Friday - anthers

This isn't my typical Phallic Friday post, but allow me to explain. I've been having a bit of a time photographing anthers lately.

Anthers are the pollen producing section of the male reproductive system of a flower.

The stamen is the name given to the whole male part, which comprises a filament (stalk) and an anther (oval shaped part with pollen).

They seem to be attracting my attention this spring.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday - mystery bug

From above - that's my pencil and fingertip
I'm back with the mysteries again. I had no idea there were so many critters in my yard I didn't know - and had never seen before!

The other day, I was sitting in the sun under a tree, when this little guy appeared on my pencil. It's one of those pencils you click for more lead, so not big - if that'll give you an idea of the size of this bug!

It has 6 legs, so it's an insect.

And I thought it looked like a woodlouse/slater but they're segmented evenly all the way along, whereas this guy has a distinct head and thorax.

It could be a nymph of something. In agricultural pests, a lot of nymphs are something like this and suck the sap from crops and pastures - but they're usually a bit thicker than this guy.

Side view on my pencil
Oh, I got excited for a minute about an Australian Bronze Bug, but I don't think it's that either. This guy doesn't have the wings.

Bed bugs have more shape to their bodies.

Oh, I had a tick yesterday, maybe it's a type of tick, except their bodies aren't segmented like this.

Stretching at the end of my pencil
Pseudoscorpions have big pincers at the front.

Scroll down this webpage and there's a picture of toad bugs. They're not right either, it also likes water and mine was on dry land, but at least they're looking more like what I found.

Then I found a lerp. And maybe... it's kind of close.

I'll keep hunting and let you know if I stumble across an identification.

If you know my mystery bug, please let me know!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday - Shire Horses

Last week I headed to the beach for some quiet time - after conference, it takes lots of silence and space to recharge me :)

I was perched on the small dunes, in the sun, watching the waves roll in, when a couple of horses arrived on my left. The people were bareback and the horses just wandering along. Then they went into the water. The smaller horse, with the smaller rider, wasn't so happy about this surf business and began snorting and pulling his head down. Next thing, rider was dumped in the surf (photo was blurry, darn it!). They were a fair way from me, and the other person didn't seem concerned, and then horse roamed up the beach...the poor rider lost the reins but managed to grab some tail. I couldn't resist the shot.

Then I realised that I was sitting taking photos, when this poor person was wet, and the water was cold, I know because I'd already paddled and got my track pants wet! I've no idea how that always happens to me even when I roll them up - like a hobo! So I figured the rider woudl probably need a leg up and since I was the only other person within cooee, I thought I'd better roam over and see if I could lend a hand.

As I got closer, I started to see how big these horses actually were. BIG! I was thinking Clydesdale, but when I spoke to them (the riders that is), they told me Shire horses. The mare was 18 hands high - towering above my head. The stallion who'd not liked the surf was only 17 hands. I don;t think I could have legged the lady up, so just as well she said she'd give the horses a swim now she was wet anyway!

Shire horses are English draught horses, originally used for knights to carry all that armour. It's often been used as a war horse, and almost became extinct after WWII. Now it's bred for many uses - ridden, led, carriage work - and people love their gentle temperaments.

There's a Shire Horse Society in Australia here, with more information if you're keen.

I felt like I'd met royalty and history. But I was also worried about my bare feet as I stood beside these massive beasts. I need not have worried, both horses were on their best behaviour :) I do wish I'd thought to take a photo when I was up close. They were so very impressive.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Sunday Story - RWA Conference

Botanical Gardens
My last RWA Conference was in 2016 and I did a few different things that worked. You can read that post here. That one was in Adelaide, but this year it was in Sydney - just a couple of hours train ride from my house. Again, I did things differently, and again I have positive benefits. Yeah! I may have mastered managing this huge event!

Thursday was Author Afternoon at HarperCollins/Harlequin. I caught the train up in time for that. And being on public transport, and not checking in right away, I had to pack light. As I told my roomie, I packed like a man," which isn't what conference is about! Conference is multiple events, many clothes, lots of shoes, and bling. My day pack was my bag, what didn't fit, couldn't come. It was tough! I'd already decided not to do the extra events because the socialising is what kills me, so no need for bling and extra shoes. Minimal toiletries, clothes and 'working' gear (notebook, pens, ipad, phone). That's all that came.

Author Afternoon was perfect. A heap of behind-the-scenes information given to us showing what our publisher does, that we often don't think about. And information about the fabulous ROMANCE.COM.AU Check it out if you haven't already!

Friday at the conference there was a choice of two sessions...and I opted out.I had a couple of things to do with the publisher and otherwise a free day. Pure Bliss. I wrote! I went down to Circular Quay for breakfast and wrote. Then I went to the Botanical Gardens and wrote. To have time without interruption was the best.

Saturday and Sunday were core conference days.

The opening address was by Kate Cuthbert, who I'm lucky enough to work with through Escape Publishing. She's smart, savvy, switched on, and a great deep thinker about the industry. Her talk, about the romance industry in the #metoo world, was incredible. She expressed so many thoughst and ideas I've stumbled and bumbled over, and she did so eloquently. She gave us all hope, hope for a better world for women. And then she charged us with the task of doing the same for our readers. What a start to the weekend!

When I thought things couldn't get better, the next talk was about "Naming our Bits" and the shame women's bodies have been inherently given in society. It was fabulous. I've agonised over reclaiming the word 'cunt' in my stories. I know people hate it (almost all the room did) but none of the over words are anything I like. And when the presenters (Amy T Matthews and Elizabeth Rolls) asked us to list the names for female bits 'down there' by animal-type, agricultural/botanical-type, childish/cutesy-type and historical-type, I realised why I was averse to using these other words.

What a powerful way to open a conference. I was sitting there, brain swirling, thinking of the romance world in a new and powerful way!

I went to mostly the Self-Publishing sessions because I wanted to keep up on industry happens and see how this was working. I learned so much. The biggest learning for me was that erotica sells in Canada and Europe. I've been a bit battered by the lack of support for erotica and erotic romance in conservative AU and also in much of the US. Often my covers can't be accepted for advertising, or they're not wanted on blogs for review. It gets quite demoralising. So to know that there are markets was a huge relief.

I left early on Sunday for a family event, which was a lovely way to wrap up a great weekend.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Saturday Soapbox - Women's footy

NSW Blues Womens Team, July 2017
I need to have a little rant.

Although I'm completely super excited by women's football becoming a professional competition in AFL and NRL... I have issues.

In both codes, the women's competition is billed as Women's and it's different to the Men's... and yet, in both AFL and NRL it's beholden to the Men's comp. That's what's annoying me.

In AFL the women's comp has been extended to include more teams...but now they're proposing a 'dodgy' comp where each team does not play each other because they're trying to squeeze the contest into a very small window between summer sport and the beginning of Men's AFL.

I know sport is competitive for spectators, but it's hardly a legitimate comp if not all teams meet and if it's squeezed in between other men's, more popular, fixtures. So it's billed as a great professional sport and yet it's treated like an also-ran, fill-in until the legitimate sport start. Is this complete double standards?

This is quite a big crowd for the early game, State of Origin
In NRL, they've started with 4 teams, only 1 is based in Sydney. And the contest starts in just over a week...and there is not yet a draw. I suspect this is because the NRL are waiting to find out how the men's competition ends up to see where the semi-final games will be played, to then work around the women's games. WTF? Once again, this women's comp which is billed as a great professional thing, is being treated less than professionally because we're squeezing it in around the men's competition.

I know women who are following women's sports with their kids and partners because it's a different game - less mired in controversy, less impacted by money. It's more aligned to teaching kids how to play team sports - for the love of the game, the joy of teamwork, the improvement of skills. Sport doesn't have to be played for the money, gambling, or the media. It doesn't need to be a multi-million dollar industry.

NSW Winners. Maddie Studdon with cup and fans
If playing women's games before the men is the aim to draw in crowds - which I suspect the NRL may do (but who knows since there's no draw yet!) - doesn't guarantee a crowd at the women's game. I've attended Rugby League games for years and the early games are seen by a very small number of people. About 80% of the crowd turn up in the 30 mins before the main game...and boy, do they miss out on some good footy!

So... I'd like to crow about my membership to Women's NRL...but I can't because I have nothing to show for it - even the clubs are waiting on the draw to hand out memberships.

Please, allow women's professional sport to flourish, without making it subservient to the men's game.