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Category: Slices of Life

Romance Writers of Australia conference 2018

I’ve just posted a report of the RWAust. conference over on the Word Wenches, but I wanted to post more photos of the fabulous costumes that people wore to the cocktail party that always kicks off our conferences. We always have fun, and there were so many brilliant costumes that I couldn’t fit on the wench blog, so I brought them here. Even so, this is only a small proportion of them. 

This year it was a “royalty” and “Tuxes and Tiaras” theme as the conference hotel is one where royalty has stayed when in Sydney — including Prince Charles and Princess Di when they were still together. But people riffed off that theme in all kinds of great ways — from the glamorous to the silly. Guess what direction I tend?
Yes, so this is me, in my evil queen outfit — the tiara is a cheap one onto which I glued rubber rats, snakes and spiders and “jools,” I made the necklace as well, so those spiders are attached.

The three zombie brides below (Clare, Tanya and Kerry) won a prize for their outfits, as did “Prince” (TJ Hamilton) and in the middle is the new RWAust President, Joanne Boog.

Not everyone dresses up, and that’s fine — this is about fun, not pressure, and in this pic we have a gorgeous bride in her own wedding dress, a “lady-in-waiting” kind of outfit, or maybe she’s dressed for a garden party, and someone who is dressed up gorgeously  but not in costume as such. And they all look beautiful.

Here’s two agents and two authors , looking very glam and gorgeous.

And here’s a lineup of authors, including one from the USA and one from New Zealand. And believe it or not, that redhead in the middle claimed to be Megan Markle. LOL.

Here’s a snap of the crowd — and don’t you love that a member of Chinese royalty is represented, as well as someone possibly from Queen Victoria’s court?

Here’s a little piece of pure glamor and good taste. Doesn’t she look gorgeous? Definitely a visiting royal, possibly from a Scandinavian country.

And what royal gathering would be without Princess Fiona, (Fiona Marsden) who this weekend took out a positive fistful of prizes, including the NZ Koru, the RWAust Emerald — twice! — and I don’t know how many more.  Congratulations Fiona.

Below her is a fabulous couple stepping straight out of Wonderland — the mad hatter and the Queen of Hearts, looking scarily in an “off with her head” kind of mood. And what a brilliant riff off the “royalty” theme. 

There could so easily have been a whole tribe of Princess Di’s — which would have been hilarious — but the variety and inventiveness of these costumes just blew me away.

And to end, a good queen/evil queen photo — I’ll leave it to you to work out who is who. And is that supposed to be a corgi? I don’t think so. LOL

It was a brilliant party, so thanks to Harlequin for sponsoring it,  to the RWA conference committee who organized it, and to all the wonderful people who attended, making it so much fun.

A splash of gold

It’s winter in Australia, and though we don’t get the bitter winter of many countries, still it’s lovely when we start to see the first new intimations of spring.  I was out in the country with my dog this morning, on a damp and drizzly day. Our natural bushland is beautiful, with a thousand shades of gray and green. 

And then, among the soft grays and greens and sage colors, we spotted bright  splashes of gold, from wattle blossoms. Wattle is an Australian native plant of the acacia family. Some varieties are known as mimosa in North America, but generally in Australia, it’s just called wattle. (Read on to learn why.)

 Wattle blossom is so bright and cheerful and coming at a gloomy time of year, I suspect it’s why it became a national symbol — yellow and green are the Australian colors. The name “wattle” was because, as a hardy native with multiple branches, it was used by the early colonists as a building material for “wattle and daub” houses — the wattle branches provided the framework and the “daub” was local clay.

There are hundreds of different varieties, different shades of yellow, some pale and lemony, others a dark, burnished gold. But all with hundreds of tiny bobbles of brightness.

Some people don’t much like wattle because it makes them sneeze; my dad would never allow it in the house because of that. But I love it. 

The Glories of Autumn

It’s autumn downunder (we don’t say “fall” here, we say autumn) and in Melbourne, where I live it’s a lovely time of year — dry, with clear, sunny days, and cool nights. And for me, one of the things that makes it special is autumn color. This is some of the Virginia Creeper in my garden. I love the way it’s scarlet and bronze and pink and green and claret and . . . all at once.  Makes me smile every time I look at it.

The indigenous Australian trees and bushes don’t turn color the way many of the forests do in the USA and Europe; we rely on “exotics” for our autumn color — the plants brought from other hemispheres, that people missed and wanted in their gardens. A little touch of “home” that has been going on for generations now.

So here, the cities and towns are where you’ll find the most autumnal gardens and avenues — where people have bought and planted them. The indigenous plants are more of a grey-green — beautiful and graceful, but not very colorful.

So I like to mix them up.
Here’s what I just gathered from my garden — not many flowers, just some sprigs of eucalyptus and the last remaining bits of color from the Virgina Creeper and a few red alstroemeria that are still in flower. Not particularly lush, but I like to fill a vase if I can.

And the other day I dropped into a friend’s place, where her ornamental grapevine makes a lush canopy over her back deck.  From the outside the leaves looked bright and burnished (I posted both on my Facebook page), but looking up from the kitchen door it’s delicate and subtle and so pretty I had to take a photo. I love the combination of soft pinks and pale green.

And just in case you think the only decorative things in our gardens at this time of year  are autumn leaves, here’s a brugmansia in full glorious flower in another friend’s garden. Aren’t they beautiful — like dancers, swaying in the breeze. The common name is Angels’ Trumpets, and they come in a variety of colors. I think this is the prettiest. Unfortunately they’re also pretty poisonous (they’re a relative of datura) so if you’re thinking of getting one, check that out, especially if you have kids or animals likely to eat them.

Yes, my friends have beautiful gardens — and they do all the work themselves. (My garden is quite barren by comparison.)

I’m lucky to have so many friends who have lovely gardens. They inspire me every time — the friends as well as the gardens. 

I’m fondest  of the “in between” seasons — autumn and spring, with no extremes.

What are you most looking forward to?