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15 February 2017

Yes, REDEMPTION is out in Whortleberry Press’s new 2017 anthology, 50 FLASHES. In fact that story was written for the anthology. I got the info on the anthology from Jean, and something sparked as I read. I sat down and in a couple of hours I had the story written. Since then I’ve also had the idea for a second story with those characters and will be writing it as soon as I can clear current revision, and find time.

while my own area, the Tararua, tends to the median in weather (other people get floods, we get a fair bit of rain, other people get drought, we have a dryish season) right now I’m starting to worry a little. In Australia they have raging fires, something that for almost 30 years I’ve watched in horror over summers and hoped all my Ausssie friends will be fine. But this year I had a feeling by the end of 2016 that it could be going to be more than just dry here and in early February I sold off all my surplus sheep, cutting right back to just the breeding ewes.
Right now Australia is getting its ferocious summer fires, the problem is that for once, while they haven’t hit us – yet – they’re closing in. Hawkes Bay, less than an hour’s drive from me, is in flames. Massive vegetation fires, houses destroyed, acres of farmland and bush lost, and now – a life too. A helicopter pilot, risking his own life to combat the fires, crashed. And all the while the fires are growing, and coming slowly closer. I think we’ll be allright in the end, but there are no guarantees.
Back in 1888, people here probably thought the same thing. And of course, there was a lot more bush then, fewer people, and they didn’t have the superbly trained, equiped, and organised, volunteer firefighters we have here now. (Down at the station last weekend admiring new engines, water tanker, and gear.) That year in 1888, Norsewood (and Ormondville) burned. people died in the fires, houses burned, as did stables, barns filled with hay and oats, local stores, churches and vicarages, the school and teacher’s house along with the small local brewery.
And now I wonder as I look at the current photos of burning land and houses that fill our local newspaper, and consider the pilot who died trying to save others, if 1888 isn’t repeating. And if so, I’m deeply thankful for neighbours who’ll help each other, our firefighters, and my insurance. And having said and published that, it’s now likely it’ll rain for days. Because that’s the way life is – or at least, that’s what I’m hoping. It’s worked that way before and we need the rain, because if my house burns down, how the heck will I ever find copies of my 7,469 books to replace my library? (Not to mention the cat won’t like living somewhere else – and nor will I) AND if I have to flee, while I can take the cat and make a run for it, how the heck do you load five ewes, nine hens, a rooster and five geese on a mobility scooter? So, if the fires get any worse, life is going to become ‘interesting’ in a Chinese curse kind of way, and I really don’t have time for that.

Recent conversation with a friend.
Friend. “Are you ever going to retire?”
Me, absentmindedly. “What, no, I haven’t got time.”
And, come to think of it, that’s true. In fact if I want to write everything I’d like to, I won’t have time until somewhere in the next millenium. And I rather think that by then it won’t be retirement that’ll have arrived for me. On the other hand, I can hardly complain, since being constantly busy, happy in what I do, and never bored has to be worth a lot. And how many other people can say that…?

9 February 2017

Yes, with the New year, and the slowing down of news coming in, the local paper’s slush pile of my consumer/recycling articles came into its own again. ICE TRAYS GOOD FOR LEFTOVERS appeared in the DANNEVIRKE NEWS Saturday January 14th 2017. while USES FOR PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS appeared in the DANNEVIRKE NEWS Saturday January 21st 2017.
(Why always on Saturday? Because that’s when the supplement comes out and when they find my articles ideal to fill it if they don’t have quite enough news/photos.)

On the bright side of that, the hens are really happy it is. They haven’t stopped laying, and – while it can be sometimes difficult to find the results – I’m currently getting 4-5 eggs every day. The wild-bird population seems happy about the weather too, since the second hatching of starlings is underway in my pumphouse. And I used less firewood this past year than ever before, so my dud leg stayed quieter. Yup, even if we do get that possible drought, the (lack of) clouds, has a silver lining.
Meanwhile over january we had what would appear at first sight to be a fair amount of rain. A whole 74mls, or just about three inches. It wasn’t as it appeared however, since we also had gales all month, and IMHO the drying effect of the gales would have effectively negated the 74mls. This month we’ve currently had nearly two inches, but then again, it’s been hot, and still windy, so I’d discount most of that too. I looked at the portents about ten days ago and sold all my surplus lambs and sheep.And while today is cooler, and dampish, I have a feeling that was the smart decision.

Many many years ago, an elderly friend said to me that she’d rather wear out than rust out. Nowadays I understand. And the best way to wear out, is doing what you love/enjoy. So I read, hugely and widely.
And in 1969 another old lady told me that what she most regretted was not having done something she believed she could have been good at doing. So I started writing when I had the chance.39 books published so far, another four sold.
And then too, there’s the saying carpe diem, (seize the day) so I cuddle the cat, enjoy the fire in winter, and enjoy being with – and communicating with – my friends all year ’round.
If I die tomorrow, at least I’ve done all those things, I won’t rust out, and I have done what I wanted to do, and through my life I’ve seized days, and as for going quietly into any good night. A while back I wrote a bit of doggeral on that.
It isn’t a blooming ‘good night’ mate!
And I don’t anticipate,
Doing anything BUT rage,
When I have to leave the stage!
The only things that’s absolutely certain about life, is that we don’t get out of it alive. But if I make it to the ‘age calculator’ age (87) I’ve been given, that won’t be bad, and I can always fight for a while longer. And I know me, my last thought will be, “but I haven’t finished that book,” reading it or writing it won’t matter, that’ll be the final howl of annoyance. And on that note, may you all wear out, do the things you really wanted to do, and seize the days as they pass with both hands. And nope, I haven’t had notice to quit, I’m just feeling a bit philosophical.