Saturday, 6 June 2020

Celebrate Squidgy Day

Happy Celebrate Squidgy Day everyone! I cannot believe my little niece has turned two. Today was our chance to celebrate with the little cutie. As always it has been a brilliant day at Casa de Crook. My most favourite moment from today was giving the little birthday girl a push on the swing. Her rendition of the birthday song was perfect, topped off with resounding shouts of "Hooray!!!" from both of us.

Such a perfect Saturday; fine food, finer company and everything was focused on little Liv... Man did she know it.

I hope everyone else has had just as perfect a day. I cannot wait to see what Sunday has in store…

Monday, 11 May 2020

Dora's triumphant return

After waiting for Dora and the Lost City of Gold to become available at our local library the Laws bit the bullet and hired it on Big Pond Movies. Was it worth the six or seven dollars? You bet it was!!

I remember the cartoon Dora the Explorer and the spin off about Dora's cousin Diego from when the kids were younger. I learnt many a Spanish phrase watching this show and discovered exactly what it is that mouse named Speedy is actually saying.

What I loved about this movie was the homage to the old TV show and the tongue in cheek way that the cast pulled it off. Some of the scenes are predictable but all of the film is fun.

Something for all ages with this one.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

The One that Missed the Boat

I have discovered the Reedsy prompts that I am sent each week do not limit an author to only one submission. Gleefully I banged out two stories this week that I thought were really good (check out my story for both... I hope you enjoy them!) and was going for a third. The prompt "Two people who thought they were the last people left on Earth end up meeting by chance" spurred me on to create a story I titled "Alone".
I knew I had nineteen hours to finish it so thought last night I'd sleep on how I wanted to end it.

I awoke early this morning and logged on to Reedsy to see how long I had and discovered to my dismay the submission window was closed and I had missed the boat. Two submissions is better than none at all but I was hoping to have that third entry in.

Never mind, my wife reminds me regularly that if it were between the quick and the dead I'd rarely be the quick. So since I cannot post to Reedsy I think I'll post it here...

Please enjoy, Alone...




Jason winced as the image on the screen blurred and shimmered. The muscle man paused, his blond head inches from the leading lady but unable to reach. Easing his way out from the makeshift lounge of old cushions, blankets and broken pallet slats Jason waddled over to the television and gave the video player a thump with his fist. The picture leapt back into life and the movie continued. A much younger Jason finally kissed his new wife and the tapping on the champagne flutes ceased as their family and friends erupted with hoots and laughter. This was normal for Jason; this was what normal had looked like the past five years.

Jason had woken up on the morning of April 1st in the year two thousand to find his wife’s favorite record playing the opening track, scrambled eggs half cooked on the stove. To Jason’s surprise his wife was absent, seemingly disappeared. Ringing around Jason found he could get none of his family or friends. In fact only pre-recorded TV seemed to be showing. There was no radio, only static. Jason ventured out in his navy blue dressing gown and slippers and found the paper was there but no one else was about. It was the usual news, the daily quiz and the sport section was what interested Jason the most. He took the rest of the paper upstairs and left it on the bed as he waited for his wife to return. The record played all the way through and then again as Jason finished cooking his wife her eggs. When they grew cold he reheated them in the microwave and ate them himself.
When the 1st became the 2nd and then the 3rd Jason tried to call the emergency services. His worry tripled when there was no reply, nobody on the other end of the line.
“Hello! Hello!! My wife is missing!” Jason yelled down the empty line.
Desperate he left the house and knocked on neighbors’ doors. No answer. A search for a human, animal, anything else alive drove him to the next town and then the next until finally he found he was wandering lost on an empty beach.

That was two years ago, two long and lonely years. Jason found he was alone; recordings of music, movies, documentaries and cartoons were his only source of company. Jason played his all-time favorite DVDs over and over until the player died. Then he dug out the video recorder and began to repeat anything he had on VHS. The one video he watched the most surprised Jason. It was his wedding day cassette, a memory he previously only suffered through each year on the date that special day. Now he tried to watch it every night, it made him feel for the briefest that life was back to normal. Jason had seen the video that often now the tape was stretching.

From home Jason packed what few things he could fit in his car and then car hopped across the country. North to South it took Jason three months to drive from New York to the Panama and then on to San Antonio in Chile. There he acquired a boat. With nothing to lose Jason sailed across to New Zealand and wept on the Kiwi shores while there as he had no person to tell. It was touch and go as he slowly made his way across to Australia, a journey he’d never attempted before and seemingly never to be tried again. Jason fulfilled a young boyhood dream as he settled in Sydney and wondered what the rest of his strange life had in store. As the world collapsed around him Jason discovered new skills, how to harness solar power, how to repair a gas stove, how to extend the life of packaged goods like meat and bread, how to light and sustain a cooking fire. Life stretched out, long and lonesome.

*

Amelia Johnstone was tinkering in her garage on the evening of April 2nd in the year two thousand. She was a student at the Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia. She was also highly annoyed at the noisiness of her neighbor.
Smoke on the Water thumped through her home for the third time that night and the thirtieth time that week. Her spanner swiftly secured the final screw on her device. Compact, box-like with a number of wires connecting direct to a naked motherboard the device now only awaited that Amelia flick the on switch.
“This will teach you to tell me to shove it, mate,” Amelia seethed.
The laptop motherboard flared into life and the twin fans began to whir, cooling the chip that controlled the device. It began to shimmer and then vibrate and finally it exploded. Where Smoke on the Water had cracked her garage window, Amelia’s device managed to smash it completely.
Deep Purple’s throbbing track continued to rattle the garage walls as Amelia quickly powered down the motherboard and released a homemade carbon dioxide extinguisher on the burning box. Releasing a scream at her obvious failure Amelia kicked her creation, six months of revenge driven focus. It slid off the counter and broke open across the concrete. Amelia left the mess to clean up later and stormed next door.
Bang, bang, bang! Amelia thundered on the neighbor’s door. The song finally drew to a joyous end. Amelia gave the door another few knocks before she held her breath and wait for the opening bars to painfully begin all over again. Instead there was silence, empty and utterly blissful silence. Curious, Amelia peered through the front room window. The television was still playing and there was a half-eaten supreme pizza. Amelia’s mind pondered how it was the jerk could watch Seinfeld reruns while heavy metal music pounded from his stereo.
“Hey jerk-off! Is anybody home?!” Amelia yelled.
For just over an hour she waited, nothing from the neighbor. Seinfeld became Fraser. Unsure Amelia turned away looking up and down here normally busy street. Brad, the cute guy two doors down was normally bringing in his bin then. Doris who loved her garden wasn’t watering out the front of her house and yet the hose was running freely, half on the driveway and half on the roses. Something was definitely off. A check on these neighbors too proved the street lacked people.
A twelve month search followed where Amelia widened her search parameters in her quest to discover where all the people had gone and to quash her guilty conscience which regularly hinted that the lack of people very much may have related to her black box experiment. Once she had accepted somehow she had wiped out humanity Amelia began searching for a way to reverse her error. There were memorable moments, like the time she turned her hair white and the time she managed to change genders, but none of her experiments managed to reverse the damage done. Giving in, the Tech began to use her true skills to try and reach beyond Melbourne to find out if she truly was alone.

*

Jason pressed pause on the video he had been watching. It was Bill and Ted on some sort of nonsense adventure, the image of the two characters were frozen midway through a game of charades amongst the clouds of heaven. He could have sworn he had just heard his phone ring. Checking the screen he discovered one missed call from an unknown number.
Excited Jason dialed the number.
Amelia picked up immediately.
“Hello?” asked Jason.
“I’m so sorry,” Amelia replied. “This is all my fault.”

Friday, 24 April 2020

A time to remember and give thanks

In Australia and New Zealand today is the day that we take a moment to pause and to thank our armed forces for their sacrifice so that we can live the kind of life we have. 105 years ago the first ANZAC soldiers (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) landed on the shores of Turkey during World War 1. It was not a pretty campaign but it brought two countries very firmly together in mateship and it showed the world the toughness of these foreign fighters as well as their ability to make the best of a bad situation.

Each and every year both countries stop to remember Anzac Day and all the other war and peace efforts of our armed forces. We give thanks, think of those who have been brave enough to put their hand up and say they'll put their life on the line in the name of country.

This year thanks to that dreaded disease there are no gathered crowds, no marches of past and present soldiers but we have instead attended this service in our own way by lighting a candle at the end of our driveways and watching the sun rise as we remeber and give thanks.

In my mind was my Grandfather, John, whom I never had the privilage of meeting. My dad has told a few stories though of how this famer from Tepko (a little community just outside of Murray Bridge) raised his hand when the call came out during World War Two. Grandpa was part of the Royal Australian Air Force. I have seen a photograph of the German submarine he and the crew he belonged to forced to surrender. My Great Aunt as well was a nurse during this same war. I wonder what they saw while so far from home and what stories they could have told, today especially.

There are many soldiers I know serving now, young people around my own age who have shown that same bravery. So to those who have put up there hand yesteryear, now and into the future I just wanted to say thanks.

We shall always remember, we shall always be grateful.

Lest we forget.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

2020 proving to be a year of chaos

What a year 2020 has turned out to be for all of us. As fire and flood were prominent in the media we in Australia held our breath and hoped for the best. The Laws and Crooks spent the end of February and early March on our first ever cruise (6 days around Tasmania) and then traveling across Victoria and South Australia revisiting some of our favourite spots. Our timing could not have been better...

Two weeks after our return to normal lives COVID 19 turned the world on its ear. It has been something that started so far away (from Australia) but came upon us so unexpectedly. Now so many have no job and those that do have a job are doing their best to redesign it on the fly so we can still offer the services our communities need when and where they need it (of course all the while keeping that magical 1.5 meters apart).

With hope we watch and wait for when this massive change to the entire world will begin to calm. There is no change in sight yet, it may be a month, it may be longer. My fingers are crossed that normal returns to us all soon. What ever the new normal will be... Too much has been lost already.

Friday, 20 March 2020

A moment of normality in a tide of chaos

It has been so long between posts and for that I am sorry. We have been away traveling farther around the great isle of Australia. I can finally announce I have set foot upon all states and territories of the land down under. Tasmania was my final frontier and thanks to an amazing cruise I was able to finally say I have visited Port Arthur and the Tassie's capital Hobart, it has only taken my 40 or so years. We were incredibly lucky that our cruise and interstate holiday that followed has all occurred before the recent craziness that has overtaken the entire world. We are safe, healthy and very lucky to have seen what we have seen and created so many new family memories. Thank you to my amazing angel Miss H, my trio of wonderful munchkins and the delightful Crooks who have all helped to make that two week holiday so relaxing and just so much fun.

Since then we have had the Toilet Paper Crisis of March 2020 which then somehow morphed into crazy chaos for first China, then Italy and then the rest of the world. The unknown regarding events at work (our local library) followed by news of cancelations has been disappointing (for me as much as for our local community and everyone involved in workshops, events, activities and programs). Libraries do so much now and it is only when you need to stop and then turn around and cancel EVERYTHING that you truly discover how important such a community space actually is. We wait now for further information regarding the nastiness known as COVID-19 with me and many others believing it will get much worse before it starts getting better. A sign of these times is the number of libraries that are closing their doors and refining their services. How can we still meeting the community's needs when we cannot let them in? For now my local library is still open along with other local government services. For now we are offering a little piece of normality.

So after such a horrific week of uncertainty followed quickly by a bombardment of information and a scramble to package the facts for community it was nice to have a day off and a moment to breath. So where do you go to capture a moment of normality. Miss H and I took a trip out to the local primary school and spent the day making fresh lunches for almost the whole student body (100+ kids) and many of the teachers too. Such a great day and so many positive comments. It was great to escape to such a beautiful community and such a caring school.

So if you feel the current chaos is just getting a bit much I thoroughly recommend stepping away for a moment, taking a deep breath and banging out 21 healthy pizzas. It has worked wonders for me...

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Feeling fab thanks to the fury of furious fiction

I just found out I made the long list of authors for Australian Writers' Center Furious Fiction competition for January this year (https://www.writerscentre.com.au/furious-fiction/). Where I can share my Reedsy stories easily unfortunately no so with the monthly comp. So for all your enjoyments please find below my long listed effort...



The Devil’s Dress was Emerald Green

Robert Stevens met the girl 10 days after he’d lost his job. He had been an accountant for well over a decade at the firm and it had come as a shock when they said that they had to let him go. Thus it had seemed like serendipity at first, Irish luck or a wish come true when she entered the bar he had gone to with the purpose of drowning his sorrows. She wore his favourite colour and her flaming red hair had instantly caught his attention. She sat down next to him even though there had been many tables vacant at that time of the day.
“Are you Robert Stevens?” she had asked him, her voice sweet, friendly.
He was 9 beers down already by then so he didn’t trust his voice not to slur. He had nodded instead in reply to her question. He had 8 bucks left in his pocket and nothing in the bank so he was eager as could be to hear her offer. There were 7 pages to the contract she placed before him then and the further down the pages he went the finer the print seemed to get. Regardless it only took him 6 seconds to say yes. 5 droplets of his blood were smeared at the bottom of the final page. He had thought to himself when the door closes you just have to open a window.
“Feels like I’m signing my life away,” he laughed as his finger traced his signature from the crimson drops.
“You’re doing more than that,” she replied with a gorgeous smile.

It took him 4 attempts gather up enough courage to enter the bank she had specified when she had promised him riches beyond his wildest dreams. When he stepped back out on the street again his arms were full of cash, a smoking gun was in his hand and there were 3 bodies left in his wake. The first had been an off duty cop, then a mother of three and finally a beloved local school teacher.

Only 2 of the major news channels covered the story as the manhunt for him began. For only a few days he was on the run. By the end he had spent at least half the dough sneaking across the country. They found him holed up somewhere near the border to Mexico. He was there waiting with his girl at his side. The last thing he heard before the bullets began to fly was her 1 little secret. She was the Devil and his heart and soul both belonged to her.