I was born in the land of Banjo Paterson, gum trees, and weather extremes.
I am a freelance writer.
I live in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, but still like to claim my Australian heritage.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Communications in 2008.
I am writing my first novel.
I love to write poetry, short stories, and also write for the web.
And there is nothing that is on a par with a sunny summer's day spent at Waihi Beach.
The local news station was interviewing an 80-year-old lady because she had just gotten married for the fourth time.
The interviewer asked her questions about her life, about what it felt like to be marrying again at 80, and then about her new husband’s occupation. “He’s a funeral director,” she answered. “Interesting,” the newsman thought. He then asked her if she wouldn’t mind telling him a little about her first three husbands and what they did for a living.
She paused for a few moments, needing time to reflect on all those years.
After a short time, a smile came to her face and she answered proudly, explaining that she had first married a banker when she was in her 20′s, then a circus ringmaster when in her 40′s, and a preacher when in her 60′s, and now – in her 80′s – a funeral director The interviewer looked at her, quite astonished, and asked why she had married four men with such diverse careers.
(Wait for it…)
She smiled and explained: “I married
One for the money,
Two for the show,
Three to get ready,
And four to go!”
A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgeon. As she laid her pet on the table, the vet
pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird’s chest.
After a moment or two, the vet shook his head and sadly said, “I’m sorry, your duck, Cuddles, has passed away.” The distressed woman wailed, “Are you sure?” “Yes, I am sure. Your duck is dead,” replied the vet.
“How can you be so sure?” she protested. “I mean you haven’t done any testing on him or anything.
He might just be in a coma or something.”
The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room. He returned a few minutes later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck’s owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He then looked up at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head.
The vet patted the dog on the head and took it out of the room. A few minutes later he returned with a cat. The cat jumped on the table and also delicately sniffed the bird from head to foot. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and strolled out of the room.
The vet looked at the woman and said, “I’m sorry, but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck.”
The vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman.. The duck’s owner, still in shock, took the bill. “$150!” she cried, “$150 just to tell me my duck is dead!”
The vet shrugged, “I’m sorry. If you had just taken my word for it, the bill would have been $20, but with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan, it’s now $150.”
3. Now meet the dog who apparently loves the water, can swim but chooses not to…
My heart is sore. I never thought I would feel so saddened by a country. I never thought I would feel so disillusioned with the people of New Zealand. I never thought I would ache with sorrow for the way New Zealand has become a country of people who worry more about their pockets than the future generations to come.
Last night I had decided to stay away from the news, but inadvertently [well maybe not] found myself seeing New Zealand sink in to the mire. The people of this once great country voted for another term of corruption, another term of money and profits for the big corporations above the health and welfare of this land, its people…its very heart.
To those of you considering immigrating to New Zealand I say this.
This land called Aotearoa is dying. We are not clean and we are not green. We do not look after our weak and vulnerable.
Our waterways are so polluted children can no longer swim in many of them. You see keeping the commercial farmers happy is so very important. We must allow them to run our rivers dry for their irrigation. We must allow their cattle effluent to drain in to our rivers and choke the life out of them.
We do not value our fauna. Commercial fishing interests are far more valuable to our government than our Maui dolphins, whose numbers sit now at 55. I imagine that in my lifetime this beautiful creature will become extinct while commercial fishing continues to practise methods that fill their boats but rape our oceans. Commercial fishing interests are also more important than the every day kiwis whose fishing quota has been reduced, who must also catch fish much larger than the commercial interests.
We allow commercial interests to plunder our wetlands to sell swamp kauri to other nations. Just ask Judith Collins whose husband’s company does just that. After all…as she said…she doesn’t care about wetlands.
While we are at it…do not try to protest against the government. They will simply pass laws to shut you up. Then they will run off in secret and meet with oil and mining companies to work out deals to mine in national parks or drill so deep in the sea that should a spill happen it will make the Gulf spill look like a minor mishap.
We allow over 250,000 children to exist below the poverty line. That’s a lot in a country of just over 4,000,000. Many go without breakfast, or lunch. Many live in cold damp houses that make them sick. But our government minister who oversees this portfolio says it is all not true. Those kids who rely on the charities that provide breakfast in some of the more vulnerable areas…why they are just lying when they said they didn’t have breakfast at home. And anyway…according to the same minister…it is not the government’s job to feed the poor children of New Zealand. It is their parents, who generally are either on drugs or spend all their money on booze and cigarettes. They are only poor because they make the choice to be.
So – if you want to come to a country that has sold its soul to America…by all means apply to immigrate to New Zealand.
The following belief system is a prerequisite for coming here and living a happy life these days:
You must believe that corporations should be able to tell the government how to run a country. They know best and need to be able to keep governments in line with their ideology.
You must believe that corporate profits are more important than the environment. Big business need to be able to protect those profits by any means available. For instance the TPPA will provide profits for decades to come. Either big business gets its way or it can sue the crap out of the government and those pesky tree-huggers if they interfere with the money-making capabilities or profits. It is the only fair way.
You must believe that corporate profits are more important than the needs of the people. They are just tree-huggers or bludgers after all. It is the only way to stop them breeding. It is not right that governments or big business should have to ensure that the little blighters they birth should be kept fed, educated or God forbid come to expect that they might have a right to grow up and have a say in how their country is run. No…make it harder for them then there will be less of them around in the future to start demanding rights. Rights !! I say !! That is just silly.
You must believe that politicians know what is best for a country. Remember they have the big corporations behind them advising them at all times on what is best.
You must believe that the people who disagree with the government are all ignorant, tree-hugging bludging fools who should just shut up and mind their own business.
You must believe that anyone who needs a helping hand at any time from the government is a bludger and should be made to feel like one at all times. Our best way of dealing with them is not to help them re-educate themselves. No, no, no. Ship them off to another country and let them deal with them.
You must believe that American interests should always come before New Zealand’s interests. After all America is the greatest power on Earth. Look how much money they spend on beating other countries in to submission so that they do what America tells them to do. And how else would any Prime Minister from New Zealand get to play golf with the likes of Barak Obama, or have a holiday house in Hawaii ???
You must believe that sarcasm and behaving like a childish fool is a good look for a Prime Minister, as is name calling.
You must believe that rising power prices are great for everyone, especially the elderly or the infirm or the poor…and shutting their power off because of unpaid bills is nobody’s fault but their own.
You must believe that insurance companies are operating fully within their rights with the people of Christchurch. Those that still live in damp, overcrowded garages four years later are just whiners. What do they expect actually, that insurance companies should actually pay up so that they can rebuild their lives ? And just because they are making record profits does not mean they are being unreasonable is raising premiums.
You must believe that although New Zealand is a farming nation it is fine that basic foods are more expensive here than most places in the world.
You must also believe that no politician should ever have to keep any promise he or she made during election time…ever. After all, their memories are a bit wonky, they can’t remember, let alone put in to action everything they said to get your vote. That would not be reasonable now would it ?
You must believe that any politician has the God given right to lie at any time, and say that he can’t remember.
You must believe that it is just foolish to believe that you should be able to own your own house any more. Do not be so silly. Unless you live overseas. Then it is fine.
You must believe that people who invest in real estate should NEVER, and I mean never have to be made to pay one cent of their profits [especially if they own tens or hundreds of houses] in tax. Come on now…that would be silly.
You must believe that earning a liveable minimum wage is another idea those tree-hugging bludgers came up with and is just not workable. It will most definitely send millions of workers to the unemployment line.
You must believe that the more money you earn the less tax you should pay. Once you reach the top…well why pay any at all ? Hell we should be paying you for granting us the pleasure of you company.
You must believe that being sick is just not a good look in this country. So don’t bother us with it. If you do we will think about sticking you on a waiting list for treatment. If you are lucky that is. After all we didn’t make the criteria for getting on waiting lists for treatment when you are sick so difficult for nothing fella. So unless you are dying, well maybe even then, do not expect help from the health system. That is not what we are here for ! As for getting drugs. Ha !! You should be so lucky. We will of course provide the ones the drug companies tell us to, at a price of course. Now just because they are not as good as the other drugs at fixing your problems is no reason to complain. The drug companies need to make a profit remember, so selling us the cheap stuff that is less effective makes perfect sense. We will of course need to make a profit too, so upping the cost of supplying it goes without saying.
You must believe that mainstream media should tow the line at all times. They should never tell the people the truth, because we all know they can’t handle the truth. But keeping the big corporations that own the media happy is the way of the future. Bribe them with tax concessions and they will tell the general populace whatever you want, which is a good thing. This way you can make up stories and everyone will believe them. They will all think you are telling the truth when you say you give your salary to charity, even if you didn’t technically say that at all.
You must believe that convincing the general public that there is a terrorist hiding under every bed is a good thing. This will allow you to pass laws that let other countries such as America, and if you are sneaky enough even your own spy agencies to reach in to their homes and gather information that you can them store and share with anyone you want to when it suits you.
You must believe that no person should ever think that getting an education should do anything but bury them under a mound of debt. It is much better to give millions to charter schools than make sure that state schools are funded in a way that provides better teachers, smaller class sizes and healthier learning environments. That is not necessary. After all…those of us with money can send the kids to private schools. Why educate the masses…that might lead to trouble in the future as they might do the unthinkable and learn to think for themselves. By burying them under debt they are just too tired and worn down to cause government and big business any trouble in the future. This we call forward thinking.
You must believe that selling of a nation’s assets is a good thing. After all what idiot thinks that keeping those profits in the nation’s coffers is sensible. No !! Much better if rich people and overseas corporations get them. Spreading the wealth around in the country itself is such a silly idea. As is keeping costs down. Profit is what it is all about. Profit above people every time.
Now if you agree with all of the above…then Maybe New Zealand as it is at the moment is the place for you.
Personally, well last night I told The Daughter to stay away. I never thought I would say that to my child. To The Son…I will say hurry up and leave. Go find a country that cares about its people, its environment, its future. Go find a better place. Because this country is headed down a path that will make it a terrible place for future generations.
As for me…well I will stay. I will hope that in the future this country will remember what made it so great in the first place. There are people here who want change. Who want New Zealand to be clean, green and caring again. Just not enough to make it so at the moment.
I love The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. I have from the first moment I read the first book Cross-Stitch. I still have that book. It has been read so many times that pages are falling out of it, but I will never part with it. As I sit here writing this I can see it in its place of pride on my bookshelf.
Each wait for the following book seemed endless. Oh but the wait was always worth it. There are so many things that weave a magical spell as you read these books.
The incredible attention to even the smallest detail. Diana Gabaldon really does her research. These details build a finely crafted foundation that at moments further in to the stories reveal their relevance.
The way the worlds are constructed is a beautiful thing. In books where the story takes place in our world I find it so often happens that I am left wandering around lost. Not so in this series. I can close my eyes and walk the same paths as the characters, so clearly can I imagine these places because of the exquisite crafting of words. You know that feeling ? When you are caught up in a scene and you can smell the greenery or the stench of a backstreet littered with rubbish. When that moment happens in a book…I know that this writer would have me by the balls if I were male.
The main characters. Oh the main characters. There is not a woman alive who has read this series who is not forever comparing other men to Jamie Fraser. You see we know Jamie. We can see the way his red hair clings to his neck when he sweats. We know each indentation of the scars on his back. We feel his heart when looks at Claire. In any great love story where the male lead is so powerful, so enticing and just so attractive to the readers there is the possibility that the female lead character might experience a little jealousy from readers. So here is where the magic starts. We want Jamie to have Claire. We tiny wee jealous female readers really do. We know that Claire is what makes Jamie so damned wonderful. His love for her is such an important dimension of this story. Claire…Sassenach…nurse…time traveller…can drink like a fish it seems…has a foul mouth when needed…stubborn, glass faced, curly haired Claire. I could turn lesbian for a woman like Claire. Well, were it not for Jamie. I figure that if you have not read these books right about now you are thinking it might be time to find a copy.
The other characters. So many, that you want to bow low before Diana Gabaldon for just keeping their stories straight. With eight books so far it is incredible that she does. More incredible [yes] is that she has you loving and hating and believing in every single damn one of them. Black Jack Randall is the most layered, complicated villain I have encountered yet. Black Jack is pivotal to the stories. His relationship with Jamie has made me weep countless tears. Claire’s relationship with Black Jack and his descendant Frank is so complicated that it could have been a joke. It’s not. It is woven so intricately that the emotional journey it takes Claire on in dealing with her feelings about these two men is wonderful reading. We must mention The MacKenzie brothers, Laoghaire, Murtagh, Gellis Duncan, who are just a few from the first book. Each character put together believably with every action they take. Although not in the first books I have to mention Ian Murray. Jamie’s nephew and one of the best characters to live in this series. If you only read the series to find out about Ian you will not be disappointed.
Okay…so enough about the books. You get it !!!! I love the books. I think you either love the books…or need to start reading them asap.
I have watched with trepidation the build up to the television series ‘Outlander” with good reason. Would they get the casting right ? Would they tell the story right ? Too many times I have seen it go sooooooo wrong.
What if I didn’t feel the magic of Jamie or the magic of Jamie and Claire ? How could they ever find someone to play Black Jack Randall/Frank Randall and do it believably ?
Jamie and Black Jack Randall
Black Jack Randall
Claire with Dougal MacKenzie
Claire with Gellis Duncan
Claire tending Jamie’s wounds.
Well…I put my fears aside. I am by nature a curious individual. I watched episode 1. Then I watched episode 2, 3, 4, 5 and finally 6. With each episode I became lighter and happier because they got the casting right. They tell the story right. I felt the magic that is Jamie. I felt the magic that is Jamie and Claire building. As for Black Jack Randall/ Frank Randall…Tobias Menzies has taken Black Jack and Frank and turned his portrayal of both these characters in to a masterpiece of acting.
Episode 6 – The Garrison Commander is so far my favourite episode. That is quite likely to change next week considering it is The Wedding. With all the action that takes place in previous episodes, The Garrison Commander seems quite tame. There is no fighting, no carousing, no romps through Scotland, no raids. But there is action…yes there is. When Claire and Black Jack meet for the second time in the series you are on the edge of your seat. Sorry for the cliché but you are.
What I loved with the series is that when they take a detour from the books [as they must at times], is you don’t scream in frustration. Tobias Menzies. I just have to say that name again because he was so incredible in episode 6. You know the old adage about the spider and the fly…I was mesmerised as Black Jack talked about flogging Jamie to Claire. I felt sick in my stomach as he described the beauty he saw while stripping the flesh from Jamie’s back. Watching Jamie chained, bleeding and stubbornly keeping his grace was difficult but Sam Heughan did a wonderful job with that scene. In the books we see the story from Claire’s point of view. Taking another direction and giving Black Jack free rein to let us in on his encounter with Jamie was very clever. Tobias Menzies scared the crap out of me. I have a feeling he will keep doing that as the series progresses.
Caitriona Balfe did a great job during this scene. You could feel her being drawn to Black Jack as he played with her. I wanted to scream; “No Claire…he’s not Frank.” And the violence of the moment Black Jack shows who he really is…mesmerising television.
I loved that they kept in the part where Dougal [Jamie’s uncle] takes Claire to the Liars’ Spring, gets her to drink from it, asks her if she is a spy and promptly believes her when she says no. Scottish superstitions…you have to love them.
Of course we can’t leave it there without mentioning the ending. Dougal and his plan to marry off Claire to a Scot so that he does not have to hand her over to Black Jack the following day. Pure genius on Dougal’s part. Get Jamie married to a Sassanach and any claim Jamie might have to being Laird one day is over. Dougal’s desire to take over when Colum dies as he must [suffering from Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome] in the not too distant future become a lot safer.
I was almost, no I was completely giddy with joy that they kept in Claire and Jamie’s conversation regarding the upcoming nuptials.
Claire: “Well doesn’t it, bother you that…I’m not a virgin?”
Jamie: “Well, ah, no. So long as it doesna bother you…that I am. I reckon one of us should ken what their doing.”
I could hear women around the world sighing at that. Dear beautiful Jamie…and a virgin to boot.
So there you have it for now. If you haven’t seen the series, do yourself a favour and start watching. If you haven’t read the books…time to start. Life is too short to not experience this wonderful world that Diana Gabaldon [and now STARZ] has given you.
My best friend took a long time to get to know. She…yes she is a she…is a rebel [in her own way]. According to Jung she fits the rebel archetype that he ascribed to. You see she sees injustice everywhere and wants to shake up the entire system! According to Jungian psychologists, this type believes rules are made to be broken and is driven by the desire to shock and provoke people. She is deeply principled but still possesses a free spirit with few boundaries. I believe she has the potential to really change things, if she learns to reign in her rather extreme tendencies.
You might be surprised to learn that the colour of her aura is…
White – the colour of Perfect Balance – surprising I know, but the longer her I know her the more I realise that her strongest qualities are more spiritual than physical.
If I had to think of a quote that fits her it would be this…
“It is during our
darkest moments that
we must focus to see
Any idea who said that ??
She hasn’t had the perfect life experiences. At times she has been broken…but never it seems beyond repair. She’s had more than her share of heartbreaks, conflicts and disappointments. It was hard, but she always tried to see the bright side of things. When she looks back, I remind her that those experiences helped her become the person she is today. She is living proof that no matter what, the human spirit can always evolve and find happiness!
I have heard people describe her as unique, different. She reminds me of Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter. Always marching to the beat of her own drum.
People tell her that she is incredibly clever [she has her doubts], but she sees things in a completely different perspective to most other people and I think sometimes that does give her some valuable insights. Although most would describe her as an extrovert, they are not right. In reality she is still a shy little girl and is actually a bit of an introvert. She is incredibly comfortable in her own company. Over the years one thing she has learned is that being yourself is much more interesting than being someone else.
Her favourite Luna Lovegood quote: “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”
Astrologically she is a lion.
But deep down she feels much more in tune with Pegasus.
She has been there with me since before I knew what memory was. She laughs at my jokes, she cries at my losses…she even tells me when I am wrong sometimes. Not that we always agree on that.
I have loved many friends [and still do] in my lifetime. But learning to really know her, to understand her, and to love her as my best friend has been the longest journey of my life. Because she makes it hard sometimes…to know the woman behind the mask.
Luckily she stuck with me while I make my way on this journey of self discovery. I sure hope she’s around for a while longer because every day with her is a surprise.
and everything else falls in line.
You really have to love yourself
to get anything done in this world
– Lucille Ball
Oh…and late at night when she can’t sleep, when the characters on the page won’t do what she wants, when the photo images all seem blurry and not very good – she does way to many stupid quizzes. Even she admits that !!!
She also goes looking for hilarious videos. Just to make you smile !!!
Chevvy and I make a regular walk along the Uretara Estuary. It changes everyday. Some days I notice the scenery, some days it is the people while other days I take in the wildlife…I have even been on a ‘let’s look at the houses’ walk.
Today I am going to share what I was taken with on my latest walk…the bird life.
Two Pied Stilts in the water and on land what I think is the South Island Oystercatcher. In the photo below amongst the South Island Oystercatchers you might notice one completely black bird. This I think is the Variable Oystercatcher (Haematopus unicolor, torea or toreapango) and is found on rocky and sandy beaches. It is rare bird – there were around 3,500 birds in 1994, and they are found only in New Zealand.
South Island Oystercatchers taking off.
Racing off in the other direction I spotted some Black Swans.
A bit further and Chevvy and I surprised a flock of sparrows.
This sweet Blackbird was not at all bothered as we walked past.
As we continued I heard a familiar sound and after some searching was thrilled to spot a Tui.
Actually…a couple of them.
Just a bit further and a very hard to get close to New Zealand Kingfisher [kōtare, kotare, green kingfisher, tree kingfisher, wood kingfisher] popped up. It stayed beautifully posed on a flax plant for me.
A few paces on and a cheeky Fan-tail swooped in and settled itself on the flax plants as well.
Further along I was thrilled to see a Little Shag, also known as the white-throated shag, little pied shag, little cormorant, kawau paka, little pied cormorant having a swim.
We also have the Pied Shag whose other names include: pied cormorant, kāruhiruhi, karuhiruhi, kawau, yellow-faced cormorant , large pied shag.
Across the Uretara Stream I spotted a gathering of shags which also included a few Black Shags [black cormorant, great cormorant, kawau, large black shag].
Of course no walk along the estuary would be complete without a few ducks. One Mallard Duck thought a bit of a show was in order and set about chasing off the others.
Everyday the ducks wait…and are rewarded with a feed of bread by this lady.
The Mallards Ducks, Peking Ducks and what I think are Black Swedish Ducks come fast and furious to get their share.
And they are still at it.
Some ducks never know when to stop.
As well as the ducks the Pukekos are not shy about coming to get their fair share of the bread.
Pukekos co-exist with the other water fowl however are known for killing young chicks in their nests.
Keeping an eye from a perch high above is the White-Faced Heron…also known as the matuku moana, matuku, blue heron, blue crane, whitefaced heron, white faced heron.
As Chevvy and I headed for home…we were rewarded with a wonderful sight. Not one but two New Zealand Kingfishers just across the road from my house. The perfect way to end this wonderful walk if you ask me. I got so excited at seeing two of them I nearly peed my pants.
So I took a couple of photos…
As we crossed the road to head up my driveway…one more surprise. A Eurasian Collared Dove wandering around.
Well that’s it for my walk. I know it was long…but it was worth it don’t you think ????
My babies in a field of purple heather…way back when.
I could use some help naming this gorgeous plant.
And because we all need to feel a little love…and love to me has always felt purple.
Now for a few ‘fun’ facts about PURPLE…while listening to the Purple People Eater if you will.
1. Did you know there is a Purple Day. Yes indeedly there is, and Purple Day began back in 2008 with the help of Cassidy Megan, aged nine, of Nova Scotia, Canada. The date for Purple Day is enshrined in Canadian Law under the Purple Day Act that was passed in 2012. Gotta love those Canadians !!!!
2. Want a word that rhymes with purple:
Burple (a drink mix packed in an expandable accordion-like plastic container)
Nurple (slang: the act of roughly twisting a nipple)
Curple (is a strap under the girth of a horse’s saddle to stop the saddle shifting forward)
Hirple (is a scottish word, meaning to hobble, or walk with a limp)
Turple (to fall over)
3. The colour purple originally came from a dye made from mucus glands of a tropical sea snail. Known as Tyrian Purple and this dye was greatly prized because the colour did not easily fade, but instead became brighter with weathering and sunlight. The discovery of this dye is attributed to the Phoenician god Heracles. As the story goes…one day his dog bit into a murex shell and its mouth immediately turned purple. His beautiful nymph companion at the time, Tyrus, declared she would sleep with the god only if he dyed her a garment in the same shade. Heracles obliged and the famous Tyrian purple dye was born. The snail is known as the murex but its Latin name was purpura, which gave us the word purple.
4. Fact 3 has detractors. Some say that the colour purple was the colour of the first dye made by man. It was called “Mauveine” and was made out of coal tar. The recipe was discovered by William Henry Perkin in 1856. You decide which story you like best…me I am going with Heracles.
4. Carrots were once purple, red, white or yellow. Orange carrots were bred by the Dutch in the 16th century to honour the royal House of Orange. I want those purple carrots back please !!!
5. Reverend Jerry Farwell came out publicly against the children’s show Teletubbies. He believed that “Tinky-Winky” was gay, because “Tinky-Winky” , well he was purple – the colour of gay pride – and his antennae was a triangle – the symbol of gay pride.
6. There is a purple frog. Found in the Ghat hills in India. Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis (this means…wait for it…”nose frog from Sahyadra”). The frog is about 3 inches long, is coloured a dark purple, and has a pointy snout. Spends much of its time buried underground feasting on termites. It comes above ground for only two weeks a year to mate. The males make a loud noise like a chicken. The purple frog is unique: its closest relatives live on the Seychelles, but it split from them more than 130 million years ago.
7. Violet (purple) is the colour of the Crown chakra, also known as the Sahasrara. This chakra is located at the top of the head. The Crown chakra is linked to the crown of the head, the nervous system, and the brain, and is representative of pure thought. This chakra connects one with the infinite consciousness. Opening this chakra will help tap into a deep spiritual understanding. Gemstones that will aid the Crown chakra include diamond and clear quartz.
8. Porphyrophobia is fear of the colour purple.
9. The purple sea urchin lives in kelp forests. It will eat any sort of algae, but kelp is its favourite food. These urchins are considered to be a delicacy in Japan.
10. Purple is not a common flag colour. Can you name some countries with purple in their flags ?
Here is one.
Now who knows what country this flag is from ?
Now this has absolutely nothing to do with PURPLE…but if you need a laugh, well you have to watch this. I was roaring through some of it. Old people are such fun !!!!
Joanne “Buckshot” Bryant was a notorious bank and train robber and is possibly best-remembered as the Queen of the Rustlers in the American West of the 1800′s. It could truly be said that this queen came from a family of outlaw aristocracy. Her parents ran the infamous Bryant Gang in Australia and may have even known the outback bandit Mad Dog Morgan before he earned his enormous reputation. When you consider the fact that the later Kelly Gang, Australia’s most well-known gang of outlaws, often pointed to the Bryant Gang as their biggest inspiration and their own personal heroes, Buckshot Bryant came from the most blue-blooded bandit stock imaginable.
Joanne, or “Jo’s” parents settled in America to live in comfortable retirement from their ill-gotten wealth from Down Under. Jo was always a handful, a very willfull and adventurous young lady who caused her parents no end of trouble. In 1861 Bryant’s parents left Missouri (where Jo was born) to escape the freshly-started Civil War and traveled east. While her family hobnobbed with various east-coast gentry Jo herself purportedly began a fling with THE Samuel Colt, a newly commissioned colonel in the Union army. Colonel Colt never saw action in the field, doing mostly administrative work, but that left him with plenty of time to frolic with the beautiful young lady he had fallen in love with. Jo was in her late teens or very early twenties (accounts vary) and Colt was as old or older than her father. When Jo’s family moved on in their travels Jo insisted on staying behind to be with her lover, remaining with him until his death in 1862.
Rather than return to her parents at this time Jo’s adventurous nature led her to begin frequenting east coast rail lines, bedecked in fashionable outfits and luring well-to-do men with amorous intentions into her coachroom, where she would immediately pull a revolver on them and force them to undress and give her all their valuables. She would then slip out of the room and off the train. When the high-living young beauty was running out of the funds from her latest haul she would once again start riding the rails, relying on her sultry looks and her well-dressed appearance to draw another victim her way. One passenger she did not rob during that period of her life was a young Union officer named Humphrey Bogart,
with whom she supposedly had a brief fling. Bogart would later marry Amarillo Rose, the most colorful figure of the Amarillo Range War.
Shortly after the end of the Civil War Bryant traveled to Missouri, siezed with an uncharacteristically nostalgic desire to once again see the home where she had spent her childhood, Kiwi Aussie Manor. She found the place a gutted shell because the abandoned home had been used as a headquarters by Confederate forces and then burned during a Union raid. Feeling more rootless than ever Jo boarded a train headed west, planning to resume her usual criminal activities. As fate would have it, once the train got into eastern Kansas it was boarded and robbed by the James-Younger Gang.
As various members of the gang made their way through the train cars relieving the passengers of their valuables, Jo sprang into action and nearly shot Frank James right between the eyes before being grabbed from behind by Frank’s buddy Cole Younger. While the now-disarmed Jo stood there cursing the two outlaws in the foulest language imaginable they both stood there eyeing the gorgeous young thing before them with just one thing on their minds and it wasn’t Reconstruction Era politics. Calming down, Jo further charmed Cole and Frank by shrewdly telling them how her home had been burned by Union troops and about her railroad scam. Soon Jesse himself was on the scene ogling Jo and listening to his brother and Cole fill him in on this unexpected development. Jesse offered Jo a place in the James-Younger “organization” and she accepted, riding off with the outlaws.
Jo started out serving as a “plant” on trains the James-Younger Gang intended to rob. Dressed in finery she would pose as a passenger, then once the gang began their assault she would produce a gun or two to keep the passengers in line and accomodate the heist in any other way she could. Ever fiery, however, Jo soon tired of that role and began taking a more active part in the robberies, toting a shotgun and even dressing in the gang’s legendary long dusters and dark cowboy hats like the other notorious woman in the gang, Belle Starr
(though since this was before her marriage to Sam Starr she was still known as Belle Shirley). Jo and Belle got along famously and Belle herself gave Bryant her nickname following a legendary incident. Bob Ford, a fringe character in the Missouri outlaw world, was often trying to force himself on Jo. After one such incident Jo began loading her shotgun, swearing she would blow off Ford’s manhood so he would stop troubling her once and for all. Bob Ford fled as quickly as he could but Jo still fired off a barrel full of buckshot at his retreating form to drive home her point. Ford was far enough away that the shot wasn’t fatal but it caught him full on the buttocks, making it difficult for him to sit down for several days. Belle laughed uproariously and began calling Jo “Buckshot” Bryant, the name she would be known by forever after.
Buckshot spent a few happy years with the James-Younger Gang, enjoying dalliances with Cole Younger and the two James brothers, sometimes both at once according to Belle Starr in her memoirs. All that Hell-raising took place in between daring bank and train robberies. Eventually, however, Buckshot Bryant wanted to lead a gang of her own and headed west along with her latest lover and fellow gang member Kevin “Colorado” Costner.
In Texas, Buckshot and Colorado gathered around them the nucleus of the bank and train robbing gang that became known as the Poker Studs. That name for the gang came about because of Buckshot Bryant’s ever-roaming eye for handsome young men, whom she grew to love having around her as her subordinates. Treating these young men as her male harem, Buckshot was so desired by all of them that she took to having the young studs play poker for the privilege of sleeping with her each night. Thus, they became known as the Poker Studs, a name which was supposedly inverted and became the namesake of the game called Stud Poker, in a Burnside/Sideburns kind of way.
Colorado Costner grew increasingly jealous of this behavior and after a furious argument with Buckshot, blurted out his love for her and rode off. Bryant was surprised by Costner’s declaration of love since she thought he saw it as just fun and games like she did. Sad but too proud to chase after him, Buckshot watched him ride off, not realizing they were destined to meet again.
Oddly stirred by the depth of Colorado’s feelings for her, Bryant tried losing herself in booze, loveplay with her Poker Studs and non-stop larcenous behavior. Eventually feeling that banks worth robbing were a bit too far apart this far out west compared to back in the Missouri-Kansas area, Buckshot decided to move into rustling instead of bank robbing, though the gang would still keep their hand in train robbing with occassional heists. Sitting tall in the saddle and with her trusty shotgun always at her side, Buckshot Bryant molded her Poker Studs into a very lucrative operation. The gang would rustle cattle from ranches throughout Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, herd them below the border into Mexico where they would be either sold or traded for horses, which could then be sold back in the U.S. for a profit.
Once, after rustling some livestock from the High Chaparral, the gang was pursued by Manolito Montoya himself, who attacked the band of rustlers single-handed.
Intrigued by this foohardy courage, Buckshot ordered her Poker Studs not to kill the handsome Latino, with whom she checked into a Tucson hotel. There the two reached some form of accomodation, with the result that Jo promised to stop rustling from the High Chaparral and Manolito promised to never reveal the location of the desert hideout that he had trailed the gang to.
Sometimes Buckshot and the Poker Studs would rustle just a few cattle for the gang’s personal consumption and would have a massive cookout under the nighttime desert skies, the beef accompanied by tortillas, rice and beans, all washed down with gutrot whiskey. Bryant would revel in these festivities, comfortable and very pleased, surrounded as she was by a gaggle of toughened hombres who all desired and feared her at the same time.
Joining in the fun with Jo at these events would be Poker Studs like:
-Dancin’ Pat Swayze, formerly of the Point Break Gang, who joined Buckshot’s gang when she sheltered him from the Texas Rangers who were pursuing him
- Lariat Leo DiCaprio, the experienced rustler, fresh out of prison, who helped educate Buckshot Bryant and the Poker Studs in the ways of rustling. His specialty was altering cattle brands
- Colin “Wild Irish” Farrell, who fancied the rustling trade (and himself) as a continuation of the ancient Irish “art” of rustling as depicted in Celtic Mythology.
During this period of her career the Queen of the Rustlers enjoyed tweaking the forces of the law in the frontier as they ineffectually tried to bring her to justice. In the New Mexico Territory Buckshot Bryant made it her personal mission to confound the best efforts of Pat Garrett as she continually bested him at the mental chess game they played. Jo made him look so foolish that she is considered the main reason why he eventually lost reelection as sheriff and moved to Texas.
Bryant held Judge Roy Bean in particular contempt and loathed him as the epitome of the hypocritical, self-serving and corrupt system of law enforcement in the Wild West. Bean had vowed that if Buckshot was brought before him he would sentence her in one minute and hang her in two. Once, when Dancin’ Pat and Wild Irish had been captured and Bean had sentenced them to the gallows Jo mounted and executed what would today be called a commando-style raid to free her imprisoned Poker Studs. This escapade infuriated Judge Bean so much that Bryant took to freeing many of the other prisoners Bean had sentenced to death. She was so successful at this that, from then on, despite the many felons given a capital sentence by the power-crazed Judge only one was ever actually hanged. One of the men Jo rescued from Bean’s demented form of “justice” was the wandering gunfighter Juniper Johnny Depp, said to be a descendant of the notorious pirate captain Jack Sparrow. Depp and Bryant had a brief affair, which ended when the next paying client for his skill at gunplay came along and he rode off.
Buckshot Bryant and the Poker Studs are still a very sore subject with the Texas Rangers since no other band of outlaws was as skilled at foiling their pursuit. If cornered Jo and her minions were more than happy to resort to gunplay and Bryant’s shotgun sent many a law enforcement officer or bounty hunter to their graves.
Ranger William “Bigfoot” Wallace so admired Buckshot’s pluck that he had an unofficial “truce” with the rustling queen and would often get together with her and the Poker Studs across the border in Mexico to raise Hell in saloons.
Texas Ranger Mark Wahlberg came the closest to actually bringing Buckshot Bryant in, but, supposedly smitten with his gorgeous quarry, he let her go free instead. Unable to reconcile this with his devotion to law enforcement Wahlberg shot himself to death after watching Bryant ride off.
Buckshot’s friendship with Poker Alice, the frequently widowed card-player who roamed the west, is legendary. Bryant was far too shrewd to ever get involved in a poker game with the gun-toting mistress of the card tables but the two loved tearing up the saloons during the many times their paths crossed, often with mutual friend Doc Holliday present as well.
The biggest strain on their friendship came when Poker Alice was working as a dealer in a saloon owned by Bob Ford, the killer of Jesse James and the would-be lothario whose antics had led to Buckshot being so named during their years in Missouri. Jo threatened to blow Ford away for his betrayal of Jesse and had to be physically restrained by Poker Alice to prevent her from killing Ford in front of a room full of witnesses. Alice persuaded her old, dear friend to leave, but Bryant vowed to never speak to Poker Alice again as long as she worked for Ford. That promise was kept but after Alice wandered on to another location the friendship between the two legends resumed.
Many books have been written about Buckshot Bryant’s involvement with various Native American leaders. Debate over her motives for assisting them in their battles with the bluecoats of the U.S. army continues to this day. Bryant would see to it that meat from rustled cattle would find its way to hostile chiefs like Red Cloud, Geronimo and Cochise to keep their people fed during hard times. Not only that but horses that she obtained in Mexico in exchange for rustled livestock would sometimes be given to those same chiefs to help fuel their war effort. In exchange the chiefs would help Jo and her gang to hide from particularly dangerous pursuit.
Buckshot was especially close to Cochise, who named her “Shoots Deadly Woman”, and the Queen of the Rustlers was foolhardy enough to visit Cochise in disguise when her old friend was on his deathbed in 1874. Bryant even accompanied the burial party and was said to be the only white person who ever knew Cochise’s exact resting place.
With the death of this friend of hers, Buckshot Bryant’s conviction to assist the warring Native American leaders was doubled. She took to leading her Poker Studs in running guns to the Sioux during the Sioux uprising. These activities led her into contact with former Lieutenant John Dunbar, noted for his years living with Native Americans, who named him Dances With Wolves.
Dunbar had once been mistakenly arrested for a few days because of his uncanny resemblance to Bryant’s old beau Colorado Costner. Dunbar’s philosophical musings about the plight of the Native Americans helped strengthen Jo’s resolve.
One day in the 1880′s who should come riding into the canyon hideout of Buckshot Bryant and the Poker Studs but that same Colorado Costner. He hadn’t lost his touch, and had tracked the gang down and penetrated their lair without them so much as noticing. He and Buckshot embraced and he related to her how he had been caught and arrested less than a year after riding off following their argument long ago. Luckily, when he left them the gang was not yet under a death sentence so he was not hanged but he had served a long prison term. His sentence was lengthened by his refusal to cooperate by giving law enforcement any information that would help them locate the woman he loved. Kevin told Jo how the thought of being able to one day hold her in his arms again was the only thing that kept him going during his time suffering in the hellish prison conditions of the time. This time Jo wasn’t too proud to admit her feelings for this man who had endured so much for her sake and the two were supposedly wed, although no records to support that assertion have ever been found.
Costner enthusiastically embraced his true love’s desire to aid Native American resistance and the two spent several happy years devoted to each other (the gang was now the Poker Studs in name only since Jo and Kevin were deeply in love). Their lives were filled with rustling, periodic train robberies, hair’s-breadth escapes from the law and with providing surreptitious aid to the Native American cause. The two felt a tight bond with the Native Americans, whom they saw as kindred spirits in living on their own terms against the power of outside forces.
In 1890 events came crashing down on Buckshot Bryant and Colorado Costner. After the gang was very nearly caught while running a supply of fresh beef to a suffering Native American community, the Poker Studs were fed up with risking their necks in such endeavors and abandoned Jo and Kevin. The two spent a few weeks in the village and therefore got to be first hand witnesses when the Ghost Dance spread into the community. The Ghost Dance has been classified as a semi-ecstatic state in which the participants were encouraged to believe all the dead Native Americans of the past, as well as all the dead buffalo, were going to return and the white people would all be driven away. This was all misinterpreted as another uprising and troops were sent to squelch it.
Thus it was that Buckshot Bryant and Colorado Costner were on hand at Wounded Knee when the army moved in to massacre the Ghost Dancers, who were all dancing, not fighting. From what has been reconstructed of the scene, Bryant and Costner, presumably sickened at what they were witnessing, savagely fought off the attacking bluecoats for as long as they could before the overwhelming odds caught up with them and they perished alongside the people with whom they had shared their strongest bond of kinship.
Now admittedly I have posted this in the early days of my blog. But Ed [who wrote this masterpiece] and I got talking on his recent post about: TEN NEGLECTED GUNSLINGERS: COUNTDOWN TO FRONTIERADO and Buckshot, as she tends to do when Ed and I get talking, made a few waves about being forgotten. So…to keep her quiet while I work, I gave in…and I hope those of you who have not met her before will enjoy her adventures as much as I do !!!
This morning Gilly messaged me with the news of Christine’s passing. As I went to her blog to read Stuart’s post I was not surprised to find the tears rolling down my cheeks.
Friendships come to us so unexpectedly at times. We might be sitting in a Chinese restaurant when it walks in, in the shape of another 17 year old. It can happen at a writers’ group when a smile across a cup of coffee cements it then and there for life. My friendship with Christine happened over the internet. One day I opened up my comments and there she was.
2011…the year I started blogging. As I progressed further, so did Christine. Time and time again she took me home. When I would visit her blog there would always be some sense in me that was awakened. Her photos let me smell the grasses that lined the dunes of the beaches she walked. I could taste the salt spray that the sea breezes left on my lips as she caught a sea bird riding the air currents over blue waves. I could feel the softness of the petals as Christine brought me closer to the flowers in her garden or on her many walks around the land I still call home.
Her visits and comments so often brought a smile. Some were cause for reflection.
I have read…though not yet commented on some wonderful tributes that have been written for Christine. It is not that I don’t want to…I just can’t yet for some reason.
I know that today…when I speak to some friends here of my sadness, my sense of loss…they will not understand.
We do not always need the physical presence of someone to feel the pull of friendship, the camaraderie of interests or of having shared roots of heritage.
For them blogging is an artificial world.
For me it is the world coming to me. It is what allows me the great joy of finding people to enlighten me, to make me laugh, to make me cry…to connect with on so many different levels.
Christine did all that and more in the three years I have known her. I will miss her wonderful photography. I will miss her joy in her life. I will miss her wise words. I will miss Christine.
I am grateful for the chance to have had her in my life…fleetingly, from afar, but most definitely a presence. I wish I had had the chance to meet her in person…but I met her spirit. How lucky am I.
Perhaps it is fitting that when I checked my comments this morning…the very last comment on the blog is from Christine.
Farewell Christine. You will be missed.
Invocation – Rod McKuen
It may happen
that in some hidden
you’ll rise up
and come to me
in solitude or silence.
We will meet
as we have met
on a train or at the end
of some new train of thought.
The Winter Solstice is here in the Southern Hemisphere and it is a cold dreary day. The tuis are still filling my garden with their song. I love having this pair residing in my trees.
Someone however, does NOT think it is a good idea to get out of bed…can you guess who ???
Yesterday when we went for a walk it was chilly enough that we decided to both wear our winter woolies. Chevvy loves her new coat. So much that I get THE LOOK when I dare take it off. THE LOOK says quite plainly…and all in capitals…GIVE THAT BACK, IT’S MINE !!!
On our walk we did enjoy seeing some ducks having fun in the stream.The pukekos had raided someone’s vege garden and were enjoying their ill-gotten gains.And though they were far away, the kingfishers were out and a delight to watch zooming over the mudflats looking for dinner.This year I am proud to announce I have planted garlic for the first time. Yippee…now I just have to wait for the Summer Solstice to enjoy my favourite spice in the world. Though technically it is not a spice but a vegetable. As however my favourite vegetable in the winter is the trusty, tasty brussels sprout I am going to call garlic a spice and be done with it.
And to cheer up my dreary day I am going to share this kitty with you. I love the look on its face when it realises it has been caught.