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Category: Slices of Life

A slightly batty post

My neighbors — two kids and their dad — knocked on my door the other day. Their uncle had sent them a microbat box for Christmas. It needed to be mounted on a tall tree, but they have no big trees. I, on the other hand, have a Very Big Gum tree (eucalyptus), so they asked if they could attach the microbat box to that.

Of course I said yes, adding, “But I don’t know how you’re going to get up there to put it in place. There’s no ladder long enough.”

“No problem,” the dad said. “I’ve got climbing gear.” 

So yesterday morning the kids and dad arrived in their hard hats, dad with ropes and pulleys, and the installation process began. 

Unfortunately I was running out the door to meet up with a bunch of old schoolfriends. But I grabbed a few snaps. You can see how tall the tree is — and you can just catch a glimpse of the dad in the tree with the kids below.

Before you get anxious about bat bites and rabies, these bats only bite insects, and I wasn’t planning to handle them. In any case, we don’t have rabies in Australia—that’s one of the reasons for our strict customs laws — though bats do carry a virus that is dangerous to humans, and shouldn’t be handled.

I’ve always seen fruit bats (flying foxes) around, gliding out at night, dark silhouettes against the twilight sky. They used to come to feast on the fruit from my old plum tree and my dog used to go bananas, barking at them. That tree split and had to be chopped down, so I don’t see them as much now, unless I’m walking the dog near the creek at twilight

In the daytime the fruit bats (flying foxes) sleep in bat colonies in dense clumps of trees high up, looking a bit like lumpy old black umbrellas. 

But microbats are a whole new thing to me. As you can imagine, they’re tiny — here’s a photo of one. (Terri-Anne Kingsley – ABC Local)  And while fruit bats live on fruit and flowers, microbats live on insects — they say just one microbat can eat up to 1200 mosquitoes in an hour. I love the sound of that. I hate mosquitoes.


Here’s some info about microbats from this site:
“These tiny creatures generally live in colonies of half a dozen. They are excellent insect controllers, consuming at least 50% of their body weight in insects every night.Their droppings are not known to be a source of disease and will dry quickly with little or no odour. Microbats are clean and sociable animals that will not gnaw wood, wires or insulation.”  So I’m looking forward to living with my tiny new neighbors — whenever they move in, that is.

If you’re curious and want to learn more about microbats and microbat boxes, there’s a good site here and another one here.
Would you install a microbat house near you? Or do you dislike bats?

 

Cloisonné

I often make jewelry  — not from scratch; I’m no craftsperson. Really, I just enjoy threading beads to make necklaces and bracelets and earrings, not to sell, just to wear and also give to (foist on) friends.  As well as making something pretty, it helps me with my writing, believe it or not. I’ve found that fiddling with something small, concentrating on something that has nothing to do with my writing but is also creative, often helps me work out a knotty plot or scene problem. So, in the middle of making a necklace or a pair of earrings I will have a “Eureka!” moment about my current wip (work in progress.)  

In general I like my accessories on the plain side, but my mother loved cloisonné, and I think I’ve inherited her cloisonné gene, as I find it hard to resist also. Cloisonné is an ancient technique where a design is outlined in gold or silver or copper wire and then inlaid with precious or semi-precious stones or colored enamel. Mum fell in love with it when she and Dad lived in Penang (Malaysia) and Mum started collecting Chinese antiques. She came home with lots of beautiful Chinese cloisonné bowls and vases and ginger jars and dishes.
Cloisonné also comes in beads, and the other day when I was browsing through a bead shop, I came across these cloisonné beads. Pretty, aren’t they? So I strung them together, and while I was doing it I realized what I needed in a scene I was revising. So as well as fixing my scene,  I have a pretty new bracelet. Double the reward!

If you’d like to know more about cloisonné, click here.

Lilacs

I’m madly working on my latest book at the moment — Marry In Secret — I’ll tell you more about it when I’ve finished it. I don’t even have a cover yet (which is fair enough seeing my editor doesn’t have the book yet.) It’s coming out next year, and as soon as I have any info I’ll post it here.

When I write, I’m slow at first, gathering the threads of a story and slowly piecing (or weaving) them together. But when it comes to the last quarter of the book, it’s like an avalanche and I have to work on it all the time. I can barely make myself leave the house — I tell everyone “I’m in the cave” — and my friends all roll their eyes saying,  “Yeah, yeah, you have a deadline.” But they understand.

But it’s spring here and one of the delights for this cave-dweller is the pleasure of the various spring flowers that just keep bursting forth with no effort from me. So here I am, popping out into my back yard to give you another little burst of spring gorgeousness, courtesy of my lovely old lilac tree, shamefully neglected but always reliable. 

So thank you to everyone who’s been so patient, waiting for the next book, and waiting for me to come out of the cave. Bless you all. I just wish I could send you the fragrance (unless you’re allergic, of course, in which case, enjoy the pics without any danger of sneezes.)