I hope the festive season is treating you well, though with bushfires here and blizzards and volcanoes elsewhere, and depressing political news pretty much everywhere, I think the only thing to do is to escape into a good book — if you can.
I’m sure you’ve all seen footage of the shocking bushfires in Australia. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia, but if we did, I think it would be about thanking the brave firefighters who each year go out to battle this annual scourge in unimaginable conditions.
This year it’s an extreme season of bushfires — and it’s started early. The worst of the bushfire season usually comes in late January and February, our hottest months, so I’m dreading what’s ahead.
(The source of the photo)
If you live overseas, you might not realize that most of our firefighters are unpaid volunteers — well trained volunteers, but still, volunteers, putting their time, energy and sometimes, tragically, their lives on the line for the sake of the community. When a bushfire starts in their district, the call goes out and these brave men and women take (often unpaid) leave from their jobs and fight fires under appallingly hot and dangerous conditions. And at present, lots of firefighters who are not facing fire in their own districts are traveling north to lend a hand with the fires up there.
They’re fighting an unimaginable battle. “Among the firefighters facing enormous blazes burning across New South Wales are bakers, teachers, nurses, accountants, mechanics, retirees and full-time parents.” To read the rest of this article about the volunteers, click here.
Talk about heroes.
We’re also thankful for the wonderful Canadian firefighters who have chosen to give up their own Christmas to come and fight fires on the other side of the world. More heroes.
So I’m feeling very thankful for our (and Canada’s) wonderful “firies”. Thank you!
I’ve just sent out a newsletter. If you missed it, you can see it here and maybe sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss out in future. I try to keep the newsletter news and the blog posts a bit different, though not all the time, of course. The newsletter was to give people a sneak peek of my new cover for MARRY IN SCARLET, and because Berkley jumped the gun and have popped it on some sites already, I showed newsletter readers the draft of the cover and the final result.
I also announced that I have a new contract and am playing with ideas for a new series. My editor wants to talk over my ideas with me in January, so I’ve been writing snippets and brainstorming ideas. I don’t have a shortage of ideas — that’s never my problem. The difficulty is in deciding which ideas to go ahead with, which ideas excite me most, and which ideas will hit the spot with readers.
Often when I’m pondering writing or story issues I fiddle with beads, making things, and often experimenting with techniques. I really enjoy making jewelry and ornaments from beads, pearls, semi-precious gemstones and fimo — all kinds, in fact.
The ones in the picture on the right are what I came up with yesterday — trying out a new-to-me technique. The pearls on the black cord are real pearls, mostly leftovers from past projects, and the ones in the ball shape are glass pearls.
I’m trying to decide whether to make the round ball a Christmas ornament, or a dangly pendant to wear on a chain or a cord. It’s about 5cms (2 inches) in diameter. Oh, decisions, decisions . . .
Here’s a necklace and earrings I made a few weeks ago. The beads are stone, a kind of jasper — I think they were labelled “blue sea sediment jasper”. I’ve had them for ages, but hadn’t decided what to do with them. Then I realized they would go really well with a new top I had, so out came my beading tools.
You might notice that the little earrings in the middle don’t have hooks on them — just a loop so I can pop them onto my sleepers. When I make earrings for other people I attach them to hooks. But not if they’re for me. In the days when I used to wear hooks, I lost so many earrings. Now, attached to my sleepers, I rarely lose any.
And because terms are probably different in other countries (thanks Theo for asking) here’s a couple of pictures of what I mean by “sleepers.”