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Lorikeets

I love lorikeets — small rainbow-coloured parrots and usually, when I hear them chittering and screeching in my tree at home in the morning, I smile. It’s such a happy sound.

But here in Coolangatta, where my writers’ retreat takes place, hundreds of them nest in the Norfolk Island Pine trees that line the street outside. So in the evening, when they come in to sleep, and at dawn when they wake, they make a tremendous racket. It’s quite deafening. By the time the sun’s up, they’re gone to wherever they go to forage for the day. (Probably to the nearby Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary where people love to feed them.)

You should be able to hear them on this link. Turn the volume up.

The video was taken by Fiona McArthur, one of my retreat friends, this morning at dawn. It explains why I sleep with the doors shut, even though the sea breeze is gorgeous.
If  the link doesn’t work here it is again. https://www.facebook.com/watch?v=1437076093582515

 

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.

While I’m all in favor of love and romance and kindness, Valentine’s Day has always felt too commercial to me. When I was growing up it was almost unheard of in Australia. We certainly didn’t exchange cards or do school projects making valentines. It’s very much a recent  phenomenon here, driven mainly by TV and other commercial groups.

So I’m a bit of a grinch about the day. To me, romance and love should be celebrated whenever the mood strikes you, and you shouldn’t have to buy presents, like perfect-looking red roses that have no scent, and chocolates. Chocolates are for everyone, to be eaten and enjoyed at any time, whether you’re in a happy relationship or not.

And that’s another thing  I dislike — the “couple-ness” of Valentines Day, the implication that if you’re single, or widowed or divorced, then you’re some kind of loser.

So go out and subvert the message — give chocolates or flowers or even just a hug to anyone you care about — your gran, the  retired teacher  who taught you so well, the old bloke across the road who watches out for you and brings in your bins, the librarians who work so hard to find you the right book, and who are defending people’s right to read whatever they like.  There are plenty more you could add to this list, but you get the idea.  Valentines’ Day should be a “Love Actually” kind of day — and if you haven’t seen that movie, watch it.

But I don’t feel that, as a romance writer I can let the day pass Completely unnoticed. So here’s a cute little cartoon that I pinched off Facebook. 
Happy Valentine’s Day.

Happy New Year

Happy Chinese New Year, that is, or as some prefer to call it,  the Lunar New Year.

I grew up with it being called Chinese New Year even though I know some other cultures have different names for it. But there has been a tradition of celebration and a dragon parade here dating back to the 19th century, starting in the Gold Rush towns, where there were large Chinese populations. (Photo by Sahil Pandita on Unsplash

In the state of Victoria, where I live, there was a very impressive  Chinese procession in the town of Beechworth in 1874 — you can see the engraving  here (scroll down).

And the city of Ballarat has one of the oldest surviving Chinese Dragons around. It was purchased in 1897, and paraded each year until the 1960’s, when it was retired to a museum and a new dragon purchased. If you want to know more about the history of the celebration in Australia, there’s a good article here.

There’s always a big celebration in Melbourne for the Lunar New Year. When I was in high school, my friends and I often used to meet up at a Chinese restaurant in central Melbourne’s “Chinatown” to celebrate several  friends’ end of January/early February  birthdays. A couple of  times the dragon entered the restaurant and cavorted around our table, much to our delight. And when my parents lived in Malaysia, I was lucky enough to be there for Chinese New Year and be part of a big, noisy, exuberant fun celebration.

I have another, quite personal reason for celebrating Chinese New Year — two years ago, I bought my new house on Chinese New Year, 2022, and it had been the luckiest purchase for me. Ever since, I have displayed a Chinese good luck token hanging on the front door, which is painted red (though not by me) a lucky color, )

I have more tokens hanging in the entrance.  And as you can see from this photo of my living room, I am partial to a bit of color. I even had my old brown lounge suite recovered in red, though not for lucky Chinese reasons. Everything in the house was beige, light brown and pale grey where I bought it, and though I know that’s probably fashionable, I like some color. I debated with a friend about a teal blue covering for the lounge suite, and this red, and though I loved the teal, we decided that the red would go with my rugs better. The bright cover on the couch is a length of fabric I’ve had forever, and I love it.  The cushions I also had before I moved. 
That’s Milly, in her favorite position, keeping watch out of the back door, in case a bird or a cat decide to attack me.

There was so much I want to say about Chinese New Year that I think I’ll blog about it on the Word Wenches on Monday. So I hope you forgive me if there’s a bit of repetition.