Guest Blog Post: A true elfin story by Stella, oh, Stella

Visiting Birgit’s blog feels like a vacation, a respite from my crowded urban Los Angeles. If you’ve followed my site for a while, you first met Birgit at Happiness Between Tails here.

Evidence that tiny folk live in Birgit’s garden.

On her own site, sometimes she takes us with her when she travels. A native of Germany, she often invites us into her home in Denmark. If she’s cooking something delicious and healthy, she makes sure we’re there. When she and her husband make music, she lets us see them perform on a video. We’re invited to peer over her shoulder as she coaxes her flower garden to thrive in heat and frost. On some days, we bicycle beside her and her husband to glory in rolling green hills and rustic scenery populated with charming farm animals. Rain or shine, we can join her in strolls along beaches and marinas.

Do little folk live in your garden? In this short story, she describes some unique guests on the other side of her computer…

Stella, oh, Stella

So, that’s it, I cannot do anything else for now. I will have to continue in spring.

The beginning is done: the fireplace, the ladder, the tiled path, the area for gatherings … the rest will have to wait. A pile of firewood is also ready …

What I am talking about is, of course, the elfin dwelling place in the birch stump. I have marked the places for the entrance door and the windows, but it is getting too cold to accomplish artistic wood carvings.

————

The following winter is comparatively mild, but grey, rainy, stormy, in short: not cosy at all! The spring bulbs are slowly coming our with their first green.

At the beginning of May, my husbands enters the kitchen and says enthousiastically that the door, which I have carved into the birch stump looks incredibly real, the windows as well. I rush into the garden…

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Part 3: Purringly Stunning Sydney, Australia with Video by da-AL

Beaches, cats, tango, and theater — that’s how our extraordinary trip came to a marvelous close.

Relaxing under a rock.

Our last little bit of holiday was spent admiring Sydney’s shore. The weather was gusty and somewhat chilly for us sunny-never-a-cloud Los Angeles folks — so when one of us decided it was time for a siesta, we gathered ourselves under some rocks. The view of the sky was terrific…

Australia’s beaches are stunning.

Bondi Beach is ultra-popular, though I doubt any of Australia’s shoreline isn’t stunning. Did you know that Australia has surf life-saving clubs?…

Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club.

Our bed and breakfast hostess, Belinda Selway (you can reach her at: Belinda at ArtbyDesign dot net dot AU), revealed heroic patience when she tolerated my extreme egg fussiness and made me the b-e-s-t poached egg ever — I’ve yet to risk another even cooked by me! Under her roof, we admired great art and sorted out romances. She offered us useful tips for where and how to enjoy the short remainder of our stay.

Belinda and her cat are the best!

Plus, she shared her charming cat. Don’t be fooled by those sweet feline eyes — pretty kitty is quite the mouser. And her purring is hypnotizing…

We were so busy having fun that we forgot to take more photos…

  1. Many sincere thanks to the supremely likable Tango Embrace Australia dance group for being so kind that they asked one of their members to give us a ride. Oh, how I wish I remember that charitable dancing driver’s name. Better, however, that I admit my bad manners than allow her to think we don’t continue to be grateful for her generosity and that we much enjoyed our chat with her!
  2. At the Sydney Opera House, we bought same-day tickets to their theater and got front row seats to an outstanding show — for less than we’d have paid for a half-decent dinner! We also had a scrumptious splurge meal on their patio that was served by a waiter who was bionic, a great entertainer, and professional. Alas, another Sydneysider who I’d like to thank more personally but whose name eludes me…

This great trip started with New Zealand’s beautiful Auckland / Rotorua / Redwoods / Huka Falls / Craters of the Moon / Waitomo Glowworms Caves / Taupo / Pirongia / and Hamilton Gardens. In Australia, we met terrific family in Gold Coast / observed these exciting birds — and these too / hiked breathtaking views / enjoyed delicious eats at the beach / saw some wild things and cute things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary / had fun with Rita Rigby / enjoyed a bit of the beauty and beasts of Brisbane / and in Sydney we enjoyed these sights and this art, as well as what you just saw in this post…

How loud does your cat purr?

Part 2: Art in Sydney, Australia by da-AL

View of Sydney Harbor Bridge from Sydney Opera House by Khashayar Parsi.

Night or day, Sydney, Australia is beautiful and fascinating. For one thing, their Art Gallery of New South Wales is fabulous!

I love this statue — I think it’s a Jeff Koons, but am not sure — anyone out there know?

Our vacation began with New Zealand’s beautiful Auckland / Rotorua / Redwoods / Huka Falls / Craters of the Moon / Waitomo Glowworms Caves / Taupo / Pirongia / and Hamilton Gardens. In Australia, we met terrific family in Gold Coast / observed these exciting birds — and these too / hiked breathtaking views / enjoyed delicious eats at the beach / saw some wild things and cute things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary / had fun with Rita Rigby / enjoyed a bit of the beauty and beasts of Brisbane / and then we got to Sydney where we began with this and loved the purring there!

Self-portrait by Margaret Preston of Australia, 1930.
“Western Australian gum blossom,” by Margaret Preston of Australia, 1928.
“Helen,” by Edward John Poynter of England, 1881 (Helen of Troy was a great beauty — the sitter for this is actress Lillie Langtry.)
“The sea hath its pearls,” by William Henry Margetson of England, 1897 (he did the frame too!)
“Study of a head: still as a bud whose petals close,” by Edward Onslow Ford of England, 1895.
“The sons of Clovis II,” by Évariste Luminais of France, 1880 (Interesting signage explains: “The rebellious sons os the7th-century Merovingian King of France, Clovis II, were punished by their mother who ordered them to be hamstrung and set adrift on the river Seine.”)
“The warrior, from the series Mubarizun – no more,” by Adeela Suleman of Pakistan, 2014.
My husband, as you can see, took some liberties as a photographer.

We ended our visit with a snack in their cafe — where we encountered some colorful company!…

A cute bird at MCA Australia.
Some more pretty birds at MCA Australia.
Those same pretty birds at MCA Australia close-up.

Come back soon to see more of Sydney! Meantime, what are you doing to have fun?…

Part 1: Sydney, Australia by da-AL

 

Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge by Khashayar Parsi.

Australia, including the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge shown here, is stunning beyond what photography can convey.

Sydney Opera House by Khashayar Parsi.

Our vacation began with New Zealand’s beautiful Auckland / Rotorua / Redwoods / Huka Falls / Craters of the Moon / Waitomo Glowworms Caves / Taupo / Pirongia / and Hamilton Gardens. In Australia, we met terrific family in Gold Coast / observed these exciting birds — and these too / hiked breathtaking views / enjoyed delicious eats at the beach / saw some wild things and cute things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary / had fun with Rita Rigby / delighted in a bit of the beauty and beasts of Brisbane / and later enjoyed Sydney’s art and the purring there, as well as this…

From — nature to architecture to entertainment to food to a heck of a lot more — it was impossible to see all of Sydney’s wonderfulness in the few days left to our holiday. What less would anyone expect of a city with a Writers Walk in front of their most notable site?! Mark Twain’s comments (near the Sydney Opera House) about his visit over a century ago still ring true…

Mark Twain quotation at Sydney Writers Walk.

Same as the other parts of Australia we’d visited earlier, ibis flock to Sydney as plentifully as pigeons do to our Los Angeles. We saw this ibis near a touching memorial to Australia’s working horses…

Ibis in Sydney.
Memorial in Sydney.

Their NSW State Library is as impressive for its architecture, collection, and reading room as it is for its displays of culture and art. Surely you’re not surprised by what caught my eye there — dogs, including a kangaroo dog!!!…

NSW State Library.
Art display at NSW State Library.
Historical art at NSW State Library.

What is a kangaroo dog? Well, here is what I found when I googled ‘kangaroo dog’…

We also ate various delicious types of food. The first night we had African food, another time I had a great veggie burger…

African food at Radio Cairo in Sydney is tasty!
I had a great veggie burger at Buddahlicious.

Visit back here soon, dear reader, for more about Sydney! What are your vacation plans?

Guest Blog Post: Happiness for author Mark Bierman

Thrills — and reading and writing — have always been important to Ontario blogger/author Mark Bierman. Here he describes his favorite sorts of adventures!…

A special award from Grandma to commemorate Mike Bierman’s bike ride with his daughters from their home to the city of Kingston, a distance of about forty kilometers.

* * “Bonding with my kids is what I love to do!” by Mark Bierman * *

Time has a way of slipping by way too quickly. It seems that only yesterday I held my oldest daughter, Amanda, in my arms when she was a seven-pound, ten-ounce newborn. I was both overwhelmed and overjoyed at the same time. That was back in February of 2007! Two years later, our second, Isabel, was born. Today they are a pair of beautiful, smart, and fun-loving girls with whom I’ve had many adventures. This fits well with both my lifestyle and writing style. I love to write action/adventure, and you can go to my website to find out more about it.

I won’t take up too much of your time here. I know we all have busy lives, so I’ve compiled three of my favorite photos that show the type of activities we do to bond. Thanks for reading! Thank you, Da-Al for opening up your blog today and allowing me the privilege of being a guest!

We were at a waterfall, and the rocks were slippery. I “wisely” cautioned the kids about the slippery algae, but then decided to jump a small puddle, yup, I slipped. Amanda must have been feeling empathetic because she slipped soon after.

Slimed.

In this photo, we are proudly displaying our slimed pants.

On a recent trip, the writer in me was annoyed by this sign. Rather than spray paint “for” between the words, I had Isabel pretend to be a ‘Watch Child.’

Isabel as ‘watch child.’

She watches and reports ALL to Mom!

I think most parents will agree that spending time with your kids is worth more than anything you can give them.

What’s your favorite way to spend time?…

Guest Blog Post: Wildlife then. by equinoxio21

Magic, fiction, and art: journalist/novelist/blogger equinoxio21 weaves them together with compassion and wisdom to create his fascinating equinoxio21 site.

equinoxio21 as a toddler
“Shah taught me Urdu, and proper table manners, the latter with great difficulty I might add.” equinoxio21

From the start, he‘s led exciting life! In a short reply to a reader, he described himself: “I am a cultural “mongrel”. Born in Pakistan, raised in Africa. It helps to add tiny details, the “couleur locale”. Reality, to me, is what adds weight to fiction.

Here he combines his historical photos (and here’s some of beautiful original art he posts as well) with those from antique books…

Equinoxio

k37ac

Wildlife is under a death sentence everywhere. Those giraffes (and ostrich, look closely) I saw in Kenya in 1969, fifty years ago (!) are being snared by poachers. What for? For giraffe hair bracelets? To turn their skin into a carpet? Pointless. As a teen, I was fortunate enough to see the last of the wild. Isolated pockets still remain with Game wardens practically turned into a military force. But who knows how long they will last?

IMG_7027

This is how giraffes were seen in 1879. (In Mammifères, Louis Viguier). 140 years ago. This is yet another of my books falling apart. Major restoration in the works. The engravings are priceless. Many would tear the book apart and sell each engraving for 20 Euros on the banks of the Seine.

IMG_7025-AIMG_7036

Warthog, 1879.

k37bb

1969, Nairobi National park.

IMG_7011“In the jungle, the mighty jungle…”

kdd10-14“The lion sleeps…

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Guest Blog Post: 12 easy tips for editing your book by David Jarrett

Good writing takes more than merely a great idea. It takes time to edit and re-edit, yet it can vault mediocre writing into stellar writing. Here UK author and blogger David Jarrett shares how he simplifies the process…

Sean Yeager Adventures - awesome books for ages 8 to 14

www.seanyeager.com

Hi there, after months of editing and updating here are some tried and tested tips for how to edit your draft book. I found this needed multiple passes, constructive feedback and dispassionate discipline. I also needed to re-learn key parts of grammar to understand what ‘good’ looks like.

1. Get the structure right first with feedback from others, check for consistency.

By this I mean – the plot, characterisation, events, scenes, order of events, plausibility of events, story arc for each character, etc.

Consistency of proper nouns, places, character names, etc. is also a key check. Word spellchecker can assist by highlighting those variants which are yet to be accepted into your dictionary. A Find and Replace can bring things back under control.

2. Screen your own writing for overuse of words and phrases.

I recommend running Wordcounter and the Hemmingway app on chapters of your work and noting the…

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