Calling all Kid Lit Authors and Book Bloggers-You Can Make a Difference to a Child in Need…

This looks like a great project. Many of my very good friends are following this blog, so I trust it.

Michelle Eastman Books


I would like to reach out to kid lit authors and book bloggers to get quality books into the hands of deserving kids.

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Throughout the month of March, I am collecting new children’s books to benefit children of incarcerated parents. Authors, I hope you will consider donating signed copies of your books. Book bloggers, please help us by sharing this information with your readers.

I am a children’s author, teacher, and mom who is passionate about children’s literacy and the power of children’s books. When I learned nearly 2/3 of children, living in poverty, DO NOT own books, I was moved to act. I founded the literacy initiative, Picture Book Pass it On, to raise awareness for literacy issues and get books to kids in need.

Three years ago, the Picture Book Pass it On initiative grew to include a month-long book drive called MARCHing Books to Kids.

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Oh no! There’s a Turkey in Your Garden

May Dreams Gardens #15 Australia

If you miss Ballarat, you miss Australia. Forget Sydney. Sovereign Hill went down in history and stayed there. Like going to Colonial Williamsburg, VA in the United States, or Mackinaw Island, MI or Columbia, CA visitors step back in time when they walk the city’s streets.

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Sovereign Hill living the dream, steeped in Australian Gold Rush history.

“Oh my dear man, would you care to tour my garden?”

How could he refuse such an offer?

garden turkey
Peek-a-boo We have a guest. Let’s hide.

Guests are easy to spot. They dress funny.

garden turkey
Keep looking up.

How delicate the tiny petals looked, so romantic.

“These  would look lovely in a bouquet on the table for tea, would they not?”

“Perfect like you, my dear.”

garden turkey
What’s that?

“Are those flowers moving. There’s not a wee bit of air moving.”

“Indeed, I do not feel anything but the scorching sun. I’m wearing my coolest dress today.”

“It flatters you, dear woman.”

“And are you keeping cool in your dapper black?”

“I’m not fussed about this suit.”

“Don’t get your knickers in a knot, my dear. We’ll have a spot of tea, straight way.”

garden turkey
These look like basil and azalea to me, but what do you think, Carol or Carol?

“What do you think of these muted colors, dear man?”

“Most muted, yes indeed. Most muted.”

garden turkey
There’s the culprit.

“There, I saw it again. A bit too much movement.”

“Ah, it’s nothing to rot your socks, sir. It is simply my turkey. He wanders the garden looking for a shady spot.

“I think I’d like to join him.”

garden turkey
I’m quite beautiful, don’t you think?

“Let’s get you to the porch for a lot of iced tea and maybe Sarah has baked some meat pies and pavlova.”

“That sounds lovely. It sounds like you have everything all sorted. Good on ya.”

“Thank you my dear. We’re in a good posi here on the veranda, don’t you think?”

“I’m enjoying shade and my lot of tea. Thanks for inviting me in to see your garden, and the surprise turkey.”

“It’s been my pleasure, sir.”

garden turkey

Have a lovely Sunday, and don’t forget to visit Carol and her May Gardens.

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How Do You Say,”Thank You So Much” to a Whole Town?

Winning an Award Is Not All About The Winners

Woodlake Awards Banquet
2017 Woodlake Awards Banquet BTW, that was my expression when Tony told me I had to get off the stage or be carried off!

Seriously!

Award ceremonies honor the organization or community that gives them. If newspapers come to cover the event the organization or city gets some free publicity. People come to celebrate. They meet and greet make new friends and hug old ones. Excitement fills the room and spills outside as guests enter and leave. Normally I take pictures of it. This year I did not.

The Awards Ceremony elevates the award giver.

Suppose for a second that no one gave awards. Do you think the movie industry would be so noticed if it did not honor its own? People would go to movies – maybe. But they might not choose La La Land. Now they might! 🙂 Awards matter to the organizations that give them.

It thrilled me to see local papers cover the Woodlake Award’s Ceremony. One of the reporters said that it was the best ceremony in the area. Why? There’s a real family feeling in the community.

Go Woodlake! Go Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions, Lady Lions, Chamber, Homegrown, Woodlake Schools, Woodlake Businesses!

A community that pulls an awards event together elevates everyone, the City of Woodlake and all the community organizations that work so hard together to make it a great place to live and work.

The awardees walk a narrow line.

Woodlake honored me. Wow! I am humbled. Honorees walk a thin line between confidence and humility. Shy awardees suffer embarrassment from the attention. Even confident winners may have moments of awkwardness. (when they talk too long) For those who will be honored in the future, remember…

2017 Woodlake Awards Ceremony
Did I forget my Award? Where was my mom when I needed her, anyway?

Award ceremonies are not just for the awardees. Organizations that do not honor their own do themselves a disservice. To downplay the recognition of the award dishonors the community that honors them Receiving an award validates the winner for a period of hard work and sacrifice. Someone noticed.

Of course, this brings up another issue!

What if there wasn’t anyone to award?

I wouldn’t want to live there, would you? Or what if the community was too lazy to find someone who worked hard among them. What if no one appreciated anyone who worked hard?

What if no organization would take on all the work of gathering all the certificates from commissioners, mayors, senators, assembly members, ordering the awards, raising money for the food, preparing the food and decorating for the event? Much more goes into event planning that the larger community realizes.

Next Year It Could Be You!

This is what happens to the awardees so you can be prepared next year when the nominating committee calls you.

When Sally Pace called me to tell me I was chosen as the Woodlake 2016 Woman of the Year, my first thought, was, “How in the world am I going to fill the tables?”

“Also, I need 24 pictures and you need to fill out all this information about yourself.”

There is an expectation that the awardees will fill the room with guests. Everyone brings his or her family to celebrate. My family consists of my husband Vince and his sister in our area. Vince’s son Jason lives five hours away, and my brother lives in Portland, OR, about 15 hours away.

I put out a call for help on Facebook! Come be my family! I bought tickets to fill two tables. Then a third. I worried that they might go vacant. I told all my close friends out of town, even called my brother. He couldn’t come.

The night came, the tables filled. My rock star friend, Elane Geller, a child Holocaust Survivor came from Los Angeles and our close friend, Andria Jacobs came from Las Vegas, NV to make sure I treated Elane well. (I’m kidding, Andria!) The whispers started among the guests, “Is that Elane Geller?”

2017 Woodlake Awards Banquet
Marsha and Elane Geller (I’m on the left with my name tag on so I don’t forget who I am.)

They rushed over to greet her. They wanted pictures of her and themselves. Some of them included me, too. Tony Casares recognized her from the platform before the ceremony started. She received an ovation. Don’t ask me if they stood, I think my head had fuzzed shut by that time, but not from drinking. It just does that on me when I know I have to get in front of people.

My dear friend, Margaret Morris came from the coast. My step-son came. People came from TCOE where I worked for years including a former boss, Olga Cortez, a close colleague, Connie Smith, and two former support staff, (my pretend kids) Ivette Lopez and Paula Terrill, all of whom I love dearly.

My neighbors came. People who helped me with the Woodlake book came so I could talk about them in front of their faces instead of behind their backs. I worried about how to seat people. I didn’t need to.

No one edited my paperwork, I’m sure. They read the WHOLE thing! When will I ever learn? When I’m home alone with my computer, I think it’s a diary. Before I even reached the stage, I’d already been going on too long.

I wanted to tell the story about Robert Edmiston dusting me off after I fell out of the car when he showed me around Elderwood. The emcee, Tony Casares chased me off the stage before I could.

I wanted to thank my husband for supporting me so much while I’ve been busy doing all the stuff I love to do. He got up and left the room before I spoke. I forgot! Then I saw him standing in the back. Tony kept swooshing his hands to get me off the stage.

“No! Go! Go!”

Vince got an apology look across a crowded room. I think he understood.

Someone told Linda LaFleur, Kiwanis President, that the only bad thing about the ceremony was that some of the awardees spoke too long. Anyone know where there’s a good hole?

After the Event

2017 Woodlake Awards Banquet
More publicity! Thanks, Reggie!

Did you think it would end that night? Not at all. A couple of reporters called me. One gave me homework. One took a great picture of me and put it on the front page of his newspaper. I finally changed my three-year-old Facebook profile picture.

My former boss, Jim Vidak sent me a letter of congratulations with lots of personal marks on it. Go TCOE! My friend, Monica Pizura collected papers for me and brought me cute gifts. Connie brought me wine, and Connie doesn’t drink wine.

Last year’s awardee donated all the meat for this year’s banquet. She’s shy and I don’t think she wanted that information told. Yes, shy people get awards!

Get prepared, Woodlake Chamber Member, General Food Store, I’m going to need to buy a lot of meat next year. And the rest of you be thinking of who to nominate next year! 🙂

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How Focus on Doing Something Well Leads to Success

Focus, Train, and Succeed

Kiwanis Club International focuses on “changing the world by serving children, one child and one community at a time.”Kiwanis focus on catering

Over the years Kiwanis Club of Woodlake has learned how to modify the world by focusing on doing something well. This active service club of around twenty members runs a tight serving ship. Kiwanis members have helped caterers for the public, service organizations, and private parties.

Kiwanis focus on cateringServing at weddings and events like the Awards Dinner involves much more energy and hands than the Kiwanians can provide. So they partner with their sponsored youth groups, Key and Builders’ Club, the high school, and middle school service clubs.  As a result, students work hand in hand with experts in the field. Each time the students serve, their organization earns money which goes towards scholarships.

Opportunities for Students to Succeed

Kiwanis focus on catering
Figuring out the logistics of the appetizer table

Through their combined expertise in serving, Kiwanis of Woodlake has developed awesome opportunities for individual and groups of students.

Students benefit in many ways.

Professional Training Provided

Kiwanis focus on catering
CEO of Tulare-Kings Hispanic Chamber, Armondo Apodaca, trains Key Club and Kiwanis members about formal etiquette.

This year about twenty students from 6th-12th grades attended a training session with a former restaurant manager, CEO of Tulare-Kings Hispanic Chamber, Armondo Apodaca. After instruction in table setting, students divided into groups to put their learning into practice. Each group served one portion of a five-course meal. When they were not serving, they engaged their table mates, which included adults in dinner conversation.

Kiwanis focus on catering
Each group had to set their table first.

After the training, the service club members had multiple opportunities to serve at various events. In a short time, these students established a name for themselves. Working tirelessly for as many hours as the adults, they provided polite and excellent service with a smile.

Each Event Is On-the-Job Training

Kiwanis focus on cateringFor the most part, the events at which Key and Builders’ Club students serve and the adults who supervise them are the community leaders. Besides earning community service hours, which they need to graduate, students learn essential skills that will guarantee their success as productive citizens.

  • Kiwanis focus on cateringMore than contributing to a general Kiwanis scholarship fund, each student learns a valuable trade, social management, problem-solving and communication skills advancing them far beyond their peers.
  • They have time to observe and learn how their friends work with deadlines. They act as a team. It is almost like a coeducational sports team.
  • They are busy. Because students are busy doing adult work, they have no time or inclination to get into trouble. Most of these students end up with hundreds of hours more community service work than they need for graduation.Kiwanis focus on catering
  • Adults rely on students’ problem-solving skills. When you provide service for caterers, all kinds of detail issues arise. Adults may not have the best answers. What happens when there are no water pitchers, or the food service providers are late? What happens when there are too many or few appetizers for the table space, or you can’t find them. The person who solves the problem is the hero for the minute.Kiwanis focus on catering
  •  Tight management is essential. Although there is an adult in charge of every event, students learn to manage each other as well. Given an overall task, the Key and Builders’ Club students subdivide so that no logistics fall through the cracks.
  • Politeness is essential. When one adult orders a student to do a task followed by a second command by a different adult, students are taught stop and explain to the second or third adult what they are doing and who gave the instruction and not to be confused and jump on every command.
  • Adults learn their names and the capabilities of each student. Many of these same adults make scholarship decisions, interview students to go to leadership conferences, or grade graduation portfolios.
  • Students have real work experience to add to their resumes for scholarships and employment.Kiwanis focus on catering
  • They develop relationships with influential people who can give them honest recommendations.
  • Many of the students in Woodlake come from farm labor families. They work very hard and see their parents and grandparents working long hours for minimum wages. Numerous other employment opportunities could open for Key and Builders’ Club students who work with professional and volunteer servers.Kiwanis focus on catering
  • Although few of these students will go into the catering business, many of them may work their way through college as servers. Most of them go to college. Their home backgrounds and work in providing service for caterers has prepared them for hard work, getting along with all kinds of people, solving real-world problems, and has earned money for the Kiwanis scholarships.
  • Most of all, serving at parties and events is fun for kids.
    Kiwanis catering focus
    Kiwanis serves events of all sizes.

    They are treated as adults as they work with peers they enjoy.

About Kiwanis

Although Kiwanis of Woodlake is part of the International Club serving children, it is unique. Woodlake’s Club participates in District, Regional, and National Campaigns, such as Miracle Mile of Quarters, Read Around the World, Key Leader, Special Olympics, and Bowl-a-Thon. Kiwanis puts on the Pancake Breakfast during Rodeo Week, sponsors a Run for Hunger to benefit the Woodlake Food Pantry, the July 3rd Blast to entertain the community as we all celebrate Independence Day, and many other single events.

I am proud to be a Kiwanis member. But I have a request. Kiwanis of Woodlake needs adult volunteers who want to serve the community as members. You are welcome to join our weekly meetings at 6:30 am at the Presbyterian Church on Naranjo. Three out of four weeks a month we invite a community member to speak to the group. If you are interested in joining, please fill out the contact form, and someone from the club will meet with you in person or over the phone to give you more information.

May Gardens in January from Victoria, Australia

May Dreams Gardens #14 Australia

The weeds are growing well in March in the Ingrao’s California household. Instead, we’ll take another peek into the summer beauty in Australia this January.

purple Australian flowers i
Melbourne agapanthus

In my brief experience when bloggers travel together, there is a great deal of serious alone time. Either Carol or I had wandered off engrossed in our own photo taking. When I looked up, she had her nose buried in the purple flowers above.

“These are one of my favorites,” she said. “Here’s a picture Leanne just posted on Instagram.”

Even if I could have gotten Instagram on my phone without costing $1,000 a minute, I probably would not have had better timing. Leanne had posted a picture much like what we were seeing. She picked a bud for her photo subject. So we looked for a bud and tried to duplicate her efforts.

purple Australian flowers
First agapanthus bud composition

That was not impressive because the wrong part of the plant blurred out.

purple Australian flowers
So I tried it again only closer.

It got worse when I enlarged it! I can’t do manual focus! You can see that the greenery is lovely.

This beauty came from Ballarat, I think. I’ve taken my pictures out of context because I grouped them by purple. Don’t ask me why or what this is. Read Carol’s comments if you want precision. She has an encyclopedia-brain. Mine bee a bit fuzzy!

purple Australian flowers
Look closely at Mr. Buzz. He’s immersed his food.

Notice that Mr. Buzz has pollen all over his face and legs. He reminds me of an 18-month-old boy eating chocolate cake. Enjoyment personified.

purple Australia flowers
Bees rule! How many can you count?

The bees did not bother us. They had food on their pinheads.

Happy Sunday! Hope you enjoyed beautiful Victoria in southeastern Australia. Be sure and visit Indiana Carol for more ideas and photos of gardens in my home state and beyond.

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Australia’s Famous Snugglepot and Cuddlepie Stories

Australia Post #13 Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge

Actually, these stories rate less as an odd ball photo and more sweet and cuddly. However, I fear that a Sweet and Cuddly Photo Challenge might open up to something other than the Australian children’s fairy tales, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.

Healesville flowersThat said, I thought it was a bit odd to have a gum nut shoved onto a lizard-riding baby’s head. Yes, I think it’s a little far-fetched to have soft baby skin riding a scaly lizard. Mothers tell me I’m right! Carol informed me that I was a little off in my thinking and that maybe I’d better read the stories. The illustrations have a high cute factor.

Gum nut babyYou make your own judgment.

Be sure to check out Cee’s other oddball photos.

view in the loo

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Healesville Sanctuary Blooms in December and January

May Dreams Gardens Garden Photo Challenge

Australia #12

There is nothing as pretty as some of the flowers I found at the Healesville Sanctuary when I went with Leanne, her friend Suzanne and Carol. I wish I knew the names to share with you, but maybe someone will slip in and rescue my ignorance.

Healesville flowers

Maybe I felt hot and this reminded me of snow. Or maybe it was like blowing on dandelions, which I did as a child. (My dad must have loved that!) I could actually draw some of these random patterns. I love the hazy, spider webby, x-ray quality of this photo.

Healesville flowers

These Australian gum nut gems have special stories about them, the Snugglepot and Cuddlepie series by May Gibbs.

Healesville flowers
grevillea

I love the calligraphy/centipede-style flower. Isn’t it stunning?

Healesville flowers These Australian fruits quickly dried and fell off in the warm summer weather. They look like raisins when dried, but these fruits do not look like grapes to me.

Healesville flowers
kangaroo paws

These brilliant leaf buds look like they are swimming in a watercolor sea.

Feel free to chime in if you know something about these. Which one is your favorite?

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Be sure to check out the two Photo challenges for more photos, May Dreams Gardens (no specific day)  Garden Photo Challenge (1st Sunday of each month)

Check out my FB page at I appreciate everyone’s support & I support others. Have the best of times!

How Do You Explain a Goof Like the Oscar Foul-Up of All Time?

Goof is an understatement, don’t you think?  How would Warren know he did not have the right card? Why would there be an extra card? Tweeters are all over this as expected.

Goof
Goof of the Century Credit pic from Quinn Nelson @SnazyQ

I love that Warren Beaty knew better and made Faye Dunaway read La La Land 😂🤣😂🤣

Looking Up a Didgeridoo

Cee’s Oddball Challenge

Australian trip #12

Of course, you know what this is. It’s a didgeridoo. In case you have never seen one, this is probably not the first view you would see. So when I call this oddball, I simply mean unique.

didgerdoo

All the native Aussie’s told me that out of all the wild animals and birds, the didgeridoo was the most unusual sight we got to see at the Healesville Sanctuary. This was an indigenous Australian Ranger playing a $3,000 didgeridoo.

didgeridoo
indigenous didgeridoo player

The sound drew us magnetically to his side. He practiced reciprocal breathing. Air went in his nose and came out his didgeridoo through his mouth. I tried reciprocal breathing without success not even using a didgeridoo.

didgeridoo
His foot tapped a beat.

He gathered a crowd of all ages. We watched through several sessions. He could play for several minutes without taking a breathing break.

Then he spoke to using his beautiful accent about the didgeridoo. I struggled to understand and sort out all his words.

For more of Cee’s Oddball Challenge entries click here.

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Smile Good Lookin’

Cee’s Oddball Photo Challenge

Australia #11

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. Hope you have fun today!

Leanne Cole and her friend Suzanne took Carol and me to Healesville Sanctuary to get a closer look at wild animals in Australia.

Some of the critters there were just there to look good and have fun. They smiled constantly.

smile good lookin'
Say Cheese!

When in Rome, do what the Romans do, correct? So this is what the Aussie Romans did.

smile good lookin'
This is slippery.

It looks like fun, don’t you think?

smile good lookin'
You can do it!

I did not want to get on the lizard. Way too slippery and high! Trust me, stabilization shoes do not do a thing for you when you are sitting on a polished statue. Not even this friendly platypus budged an inch to help us stay on!

smile good lookin'
Hold tight to whaaaaaaa?

And did you see his mischievous little smile?

For more oddball posts check out Cee’s place.

view in the loo

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Check out my FB page at I appreciate everyone’s support! I support and visit others. Have the best of times!

Last Resting Place Of A Great Explorer

Welcome to my friend Sylvia at anotherday2paradise. Sylvia has been some of the most interesting places on the planet. She is from England but splits her life between Florida, South Africa, and travel. Her writing amuses me, makes me think, and has brought us together as friends for almost five years now. Please read and share this post about her experience on this last trip.

Last Resting Place Of A Great Explorer

by Sylvia

“I chose life over death for myself and my friends….I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown, The only true failure would be not to explore at all. “ ~ Sir Ernest Shackleton

On January 5th, the 95th anniversary of the great explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s death, our cruise ship anchored just off Grytviken within King Edward Cove. The now rusted whaling station is today the site of the South Georgia Museum, and lies within a sheltered harbour tucked between Hope Cove and Hobart Rock, on the western shore of Cumberland East Bay.

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We got ourselves all togged out in our many layers of warm clothing and hopped onto the Zodiac inflatable which would take us ashore.

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The first place to visit was the whalers’ cemetery where there are sixty-four graves.

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The most visited and photographed of these is, of course, that of Shackleton himself, who used Grytviken when planning the rescue of his crew from the ill-fated ‘Endurance’ in 1915.  His body was returned to South Georgia at his widow’s request after he died from a heart attack whilst at sea in 1922, and he was laid to rest in his favourite place on earth, Antarctica. The back of this simple granite column is engraved with a quote from his best-loved poet, Robert Browning, “I hold that man should strive to the uttermost for his life’s set prize.”

Source: Last Resting Place Of A Great Explorer

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Never Smile at a Crocodile

I met Barb Taub through the Happy Meerkatreviews who gave permission to publish their review of Barb Taub’s book, Do Not Wash Hands in Plates, on my other blog, Always Write.  After you have a taste of Barb’s writing style here, you will want to visit her blog and buy her book. She is not only talented and funny, she’s extremely personable.

Never Smile at a Crocodile

by Barb Taub

“Never smile at a crocodile
No, you can’t get friendly with a crocodile
Don’t be taken in by his welcome grin
He’s imagining how well you’d fit within his skin”—Music by Frank Churchill and lyrics by Jack Lawrence for Peter Pan, 1953

screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-00-11-26Our driver—I’ll just call him S for reasons to be revealed in their own post once I’ve calmed down and stopped kissing the ground—wanted an early start to get clear of Bangalore before the real traffic hit. Jaya, who never met an early start she didn’t love, wanted us to be out the door by six. Janine and I just wanted to get horizontal and sleep through the alarm and possibly the next day or two. But after knowing each other for more than forty years, the three of us have worked out a foolproof approach to travel: we do what Jaya tells us. It’s simple, requires absolutely no effort on our part, and it works. Always. We left at six.

Most perfect breakfast ever at Kamat Restaurant on road from Bangalore to Mysore. [Image credit: this and all photos (c) Jayalakshmi Ayyer & Janine Smith, 2017. All rights reserved.]

Most perfect breakfast ever at Kamat Restaurant on road from Bangalore to Mysore. NOTE: Jaya and I had eaten most of the jelabi before Janine got the breakfast picture, so we had to order another plate. I still haven’t come up with a reasonable explanation for that third jelabi order…
[Image credit: this and all photos (c) Jayalakshmi Ayyer & Janine Smith, 2017. All rights reserved.]

We’d only been on the road long enough to get clear of Bangalore before pulling into Kamat, a beautiful roadside restaurant with open-air pavilions sheltering under trees. The hostess sized us up and informed us that we wanted the full buffet. Jaya sized up the line of people waiting, and informed her that we’d be ordering a la carte. Surprisingly quickly, our food appeared and my tastebuds fell in love. There might be a better breakfast than a deep-fried spicy donut vada served up on a fresh banana leaf, followed by the slightly tangy sweetness of glistening lace-swirled jelabi, and accompanied by coffee as the day brightens under the trees. But if so, I haven’t had it yet.

On the road again, we headed for Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary north of Mysore. We’d barely cleared the entry when all three of us yelled “STOP!” Driver S reluctantly pulled over and the three of us piled out on our respective quests. Jaya had seen a tiny bird who needed spotting. Janine had seen a statue of Shiva in midstream which needed photographing. I’d seen a herd of goats scrambling over rocks and banks which needed to be amateurishly captured on my phone camera.

Entry to bird sanctuary. Or, in our case, the first stop.

Entry to bird sanctuary. Or, in our case, the first stop.

Lord Shiva (or stop #2)

Lord Shiva keeping watch from midstream (the second stop.)

kingfisher-at-bird-sanctuary

Kingfisher on waterlily. (Stop 3)

— Goats. Because, you know—goats. (Stop 4)

After a few more stops, we finally made it to the ticket booth. Of course, being India, the fees for foreigners (300 rupees) were five times the charges for residents (60 rupees).

Our entry fees duly paid, we wandered down to the water where we found rowboats waiting to take us on a tour of the sanctuary—at an additional fee-times-five for foreigners, of course. As the boat moved away from the dock, the ranger/rower pointed at a log and said a number of words, one of which sounded suspiciously like “crocodile“. I was just begging Jaya to tell me that meant large toothless bird in the local dialect when the log we were approaching opened one eye and grinned at us. I felt my need to view any more birds decrease with each stroke of the oars.

never-smile-crocodile-at-bird-sanctuaryThe family behind us had no such doubts. As the smallest kid ran back and forth rocking the boat, the father laughed, the middle kid demanded to know if that was a real crocodile, and the mother told him, “Why don’t you stick your hand in the water and see what happens?” I can only suppose either she thought her three kids were one too many, or they had started their vacation with several additional kids and were still winnowing the numbers down to acceptable odds.

Spoonbills performing amazing highwire balancing acts

Spoonbills performing amazing highwire balancing acts

I assume there were birds and bats around, but frankly, I was too busy watching for crocodiles to pay attention. I counted sixteen. No, seriously. Sixteen crocodiles that I could spot. But that might not have included stealth crocodiles lurking under the boat waiting for that kid to stick his hand in. I’ve seen Jaws

Several trees were home to flocks of large birds including egrets, storks, and heron. There was even a tree full of bats. But I was too busy measuring the distance back to the dock—and wondering if I could make it while the crocodiles chowed down on that kid with his hand in the water—to really pay attention so there could have been lots more bird-related activity going on.

img_0913-animation

Painted storks and spoonbills

Actually, I do know that there were flocks of amazing birds and things out there because Jaya and Janine are made of much sterner stuff, and they happily snapped away several photos which I saw after we made it back to the docks about a year and a half later (ten minutes by my phone clock).

But I was too busy trying to put distance between us and those crocodiles, and explaining to Jaya that the sign she just noticed for an even longer tour of the croc-infested lake was a mistake and should be ignored at all costs.

flyover-crocodile

Birds? Who notices birds where there are at least 16 CROCODILES waiting to chow down on chubby foreign tourists?

And that was just our morning. Wait until you hear what happened in the afternoon!

Author Bio from Amazon

Wash Hands
Author Barb Taub

In a former life before children in need of luxuries like food and college, Barb Taub wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. When Child #4 joined her research staff, she veered toward the dark side and a career in human resources. Now an expat living in one corner of a castle with her prince-of-a-guy and the world’s most spoiled AussieDog, she enjoys travel, translating from British to American, and collaborating with her daughter Hannah on the Null City series.

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Hilarious Book – Do Not Wash Hands in Plates

Source: Never smile at a crocodile #travel #humor #India

How to Fall in Love with Australia One Pumpkin at a Time

Australia Series #10

When is a pumpkin, not a pumpkin?

pumpkin
Kent pumpkins at Cole’s in Toowoomba

When you’re in Australia. I would call this squash, but it’s a Kent pumpkin.

Kent pumpkin
Kent pumpkin wedge at Cole’s in Toowoomba, Queensland, AU

That’s right. Australians call this delicious fruit pumpkin. But it doesn’t matter what you call it, even wombats love it.

pumpkin
Wombats love pumpkin and corn. No wonder I loved wombats.

My first contact with pumpkin happened in Melbourne. Carol and I took a walking tour of the Fitzroy Gardens. It got hot, and I got hungry. Fortunately, the gardens had a fabulous little restaurant looking out onto the gardens.

Their special that day must have been Pumpkin Soup. That sounded good on a hot day – I was still in North America mode – winter. And the “air con” was on in the restaurant.

pumpkins

Oh sure, you see iced coffee there in the background. That’s another post for another Friday. I think I forgot and took a bite first before I took a picture. Good thing Carol reminded me to take a picture at all. It was so good, I almost gobbled it down first. And it wasn’t turkey soup. 🙂

The next day we went with Leanne Cole and her friend Suzanne to Healesville Sanctuary. I’ll be writing several posts about that trip! Again, I looked forward to eating lunch after watching the wombats eat pumpkin and corn. Two of my favorite proteins. 🙂

pumpkin
Wombie enjoyed her food.

That was a joke. I was just checking to see if anyone is reading this. 🙂

pumpkin salad
pumpkin salad

So there we were at Healesville Sanctuary. I guess I thought I was hungrier than I was. I ordered a croissant ham and cheese sandwich and a salad. When the salad came it was huge. It did not look that huge here, but everyone else finished at least 15 minutes before I did. I couldn’t leave a single bite. It had pumpkin and cheese hiding under all that green stuff, and the salad dressing tasted sweet and tangy, almost orange.

pumpkin pizza
pumpkin pizza at Turret Restaurant on Sturt Street

I may have gone a day or so without pumpkin, but I was more than ready for it after eating meat pie at Sovereign Hill. Carol and I went with our Ballarat, Vic hosts, Glen’s sister Mandy and her family, to Turret Restaurant on Sturt Street, the widest Main Street in the Southern Hemisphere.

I had pumpkin pizza. Everyone’s meal was so delicious no one took me up on my pretentious offer to try my pizza. Yum!

pumpkin pizza
pumpkin pizza up close

See how thin that crust was? It did not detract from the sumptuous sizzling pumpkin and the broiled cheese.

If you enjoyed this, please send it to someone you love. Or tweet it. (A little birdie told me to say that.) If you hated it, don’t buy pumpkins in Australia.

Related Australian Posts

Don’t forget to register for the International Food Bloggers Conference coming up September 29 – October 1, 2017 in Sacramento, CA.

Check out my FB page here at I appreciate everyone’s support & I visit your blogs. Have the best of times!

How to Eat Meat Pies at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat

Friday Food Challenge  Australia Trip #8

Aussie Meat Pies

Mrs. ET and I headed across the plains of Victoria from Melbourne, AU to Ballarat by train. Seventy-five minutes later, we coasted into the station surveying the historic town of Ballarat. Her niece and sister-in-law picked us up and the adventures began.

Aussie Meat Pies

The main interest was Sovereign Hill. Replicating the Australian Gold Rush in the 1850s, reenactors peppered Sovereign Hill with authenticity. There were miners, majors, mothers, and bakers making meat pies.

Aussie meat pie“Have you ever had a meat pie?” Carol asked.

“Of course,” I answered like an Aussie know-it-all.

Only I did not know that the Aussie definition of a meat pie was so different than an American Meat Pie.

Carol could not wait to get her hands on an authentic Sovereign sausage roll, and told me I had to eat a meat pie or my life would not be complete.

“Where are the carrots, peas, and potatoes?”

“What part of meat pie didn’t you get, Marsha?”

“This looks like hamburger, not roast beef.”

“It’s minced meat pie. Try it.”

Remembering back to Christmas more than 50 years ago, I recalled my great-grandmother’s minced meat pie. It was a sweet spicy pie filled with chewy brown stuff called “mincemeat.” I did not think I wanted to try that again.

“Is it beef?”

“Yes, but minced meat can be beef, turkey, pork or any meat. It’s minced MEAT, Marsha.” (They sure are dense in the US, I could hear her thinking.)

I explained about mincemeat as best as my 60-year old memory of it would allow.

“It’s meat, Marsha. It’s not sweet.” Carol urged.

Aussie Meat Pie
Aussie Meat Pie

I gave in. I opened it and sure enough, it looked like hamburger.

“You’re not supposed to open it,” Carol admonished me sternly. “Put the top back on and put tomato sauce on it.”

“It’s too hot. I’ll burn my mouth!”

Oh no, I thought, catsup. Now it sounds like Mom’s meatloaf. That was awful! I can’t do this. What am I going to do now?

“You’re ruining it!” Carol said. “You’ve got to put tomato sauce on it!” She sounded frantic for me to do it right to get the full effect of the Aussie meat pie. I was frantic, too.

“Carol, I can’t put catsup on the top. How am I going to eat it? I’ll have catsup all over my hands and face and who knows what else.”

Carol was disgusted with me. I could tell by her sigh. “It’s not catsup. It’s tomato sauce anyway. You’re not doing it the Aussie (pronounced AUZZY) way. But go ahead JUST TRY IT!”

Gingerly I took a bite without catsup. It was different. I could not identify the flavor, though. Basically, it tasted somewhat like hamburger. The pie crust was flaky. The meat was meaty. I was hungry. The whole thing was gone in five minutes.

Thank you, Carol, Kate, Mandy, and Paul for such wonderful day at Sovereign Hill. I’ll have more to share about our amazing experiences in later posts.

Remembering Ballarat at Home

When I got home, I thought I would make some Aussie meat pies for Vince. I made my own pie crust, which was a mistake because I did not have eggs, and I like eggs and vinegar in my pie crust.

Rolling it out I soon realized that I did not make enough pie crust for two pies. I made another crust. Piecing it all together, I pinched it around the top and thought it looked good OK.

For the meat filling, I followed the recipe below – sort of.

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/8984/aussie+meat+pies

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 3/4 cup Campbell’s Real Stock Beef
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Vegemite
  • 2 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten

Since I did not have real stock beef, I used brown gravy mix. I did not use enough water. Also, I was missing Vegemite. OH WELL! Carol gave me some of that on a piece of bread at her house. It’s nutritious.

Proudly I baked the pies. Neither Vince nor I remembered to take a before picture. Vince asked about catsup to put on top.

“What’s the date on that bottle of catsup?” Vince asked as I retrieved the nearly empty bottle from the refrigerator.

“Um, January 2013. It’s fine.”

He did not use catsup either.

Here is Vince’s meat pie after picture.

meat pie
Marsha’s version of meat pie

I am not sure whether or not he liked it. Maybe if I had put vegemite in it.

It’s been in the refrigerator several days now. Carol would not let things like this go to waste. She was a fabulous cook and so efficient. I don’t think Carol would ever substitute things in a recipe. I wonder if I will ever learn?

Have you ever experimented before, and been a little sorry about the results?

Related Posts on Australia

Upcoming Food Blogger Conference

2017 International Food Blogger Conference in Sacramento
2017 International Food Blogger Conference in Sacramento

2017 International Food Blogger Conference in Sacramento 

 

Thursday Doors: Painted Ladies

Featured Guest Blogger K.L. Allendoerfer

K.L is a neuroscientist, educator, geocacher, Unitarian-Universalist, amateur violinist, and parent. She has always been fascinated by how people’s brains learn, and especially why this process is easier and more fun for some brains than others. This led her to get a PhD in Neuroscience, work in biotech, and then become a science educator and writer. She is from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Painted Ladies

Most people seem to know these houses because they were in a show that I never watched. I found out about them through geocaching. My family and I went into San Francisco for New Year’s Day and one of our first stops was this virtual geocache.

Virtual caches are a special kind of geocache that doesn’t involve finding an actual container. Instead, you go to the coordinates posted on the site and answer some questions about what you find there, and maybe post a picture of yourself at the location.

In this case, the cache site was in Alamo Square Park, across from the houses but affording a good view (Alamo Square Park is also, I learned, the place where the family in the show I never watched had a picnic in the opening credits).

To read the rest of the article click the link: Thursday Doors: Painted Ladies. Thank you, K. L. Allendoerfer for allowing me to publish your post.

For more of Norm’s 2.0 posts on Doors click the link.

For additional Photo Challenges, click the link.

Rejection: the Ultimate Teacher – Guest Post by author Tina Frisco…

Here is a great post by my new friend Tina Frisco, published by my long-time friend Chris Graham. Thanks for sharing about this topic of rejection, Tina.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

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Image courtesy of Lucie Stastkova

LuSt 4 ART

Rejection comes in many forms, from many places, and is very painful. What makes rejection so devastating? What causes us to react in a particular way? How can we use rejection to our advantage?

On a purely instinctual level, rejection threatens to extinguish our life force by depriving us of vital nourishment. No being can truly thrive without some measure of love and acceptance.

Rejection devastates when we attach our personal worth to someone or something outside of ourselves. Feeling worthy only when liked and accepted by those with whom we engage sets the stage for rejection.

When feeling disliked or ignored by another, it’s wise to step back and view that person’s behavior as a mirror our own subconscious. Often the things we don’t like in ourselves are reflected back to us by others, giving us an opportunity to examine what…

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How Do You Justify Pavlova for Breakfast?

Friday Food Challenge #amblogging #amtraveling Australia trip #5

Australian Food Journey

The term breakfast originated from the Middle English words break and fast. For those of you who rarely fast never heard fasting, it is a noun or a verb, not an adjective to describe a guy in a bar or how one drives a Lamborghini on the German Autobahn. To fast means to go without eating. A fast means a period of time without eating.

Yikes! This is a foodie channel! Fasting is not an alternative!

Actually, the Middle English decided in the 15th century that everyone fasted while they sleep. They did not know about the American’s love of refrigerator raiding in the middle of the night.

Assume you awoke starving after your fast. You would not go hunt and kill a possum or a rabbit, cook it for hours to make it tender, and have rabbit stew for breakfast, would you?

No, you want something quick and fresh.

Justify pavlova
Justify Pavlova for Breakfast

Breakfasts have changed over time and places. I would not be a fan of eating locusts and butter spread on unleavened bread as the Arabs did according to a book published in 1843. The Austrians loved their croissants. I love those especially with scrambled eggs, cheese, and Canadian bacon inside. I’m not fussed on Australian Vegemite on toast and butter. Don’t ever let and Aussie offer you a spoonful of it!

But consider pavlova for breakfast. It has the essential food groups. Eggs for protein, cream or milk for more protein, fruit for energy, and of course, sugar for energy. You can get your grains anywhere.

I watched Carol, and it’s easy to make.

Carol’s Pavlova

Before you start preheat your oven to 350 F (180 C). You will turn it down when you start baking.

Ingredients: Egg whites, cornflour and vinegar and sugar.

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 and 1/2 C caster sugar (This is a very finely granulated sugar.)
  • 1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch in the USA)
  • 1 tsp vinegar

Separate 1/4 cup of sugar and mix together with cornflour. Beat egg whites while adding 1 and 1/4 C sugar gradually. Beat until the sugar has completely dissolved and is no longer grainy. Fold the cornflour-sugar mixture into the egg mixture and gradually fold in vinegar.

Spread pavlova on a tray with baking paper. Bake at 200 degrees F (100 degrees C ) for 1 and a half hours. Turn the oven off and leave pavlova in the oven until the oven is cold.

Put whatever fruit on pavlova you like. You can sweeten the whipped cream which covers the breakfast delight or not. Carol’s niece, Kate, prefers to sweeten the whipped cream. Carol prefers to leave the cream unsweetened. They are both teachers, so it made for quite a discussion. Which would you prefer?

justify pavlova
pavlova with fresh kiwi, blueberries and strawberries drizzled with canned passion fruit sauce

I argued that unsweetened cream was like butter. Carol disagreed. I had never tried unsweetened cream, so I lost the argument before it started.

I tried pavlova both ways. I admit to a little hesitancy about unsweetened cream but Carol’s pavlova is VERY sweet. It needed no extra sugar.

Carol had one more card in her favor for those of you who enjoy a good bet. She made quiche with the leftover cream for dinner.

That’s another story. I love quiche, so I’ll vote with unsweetened if you mix the whipping cream yourself. For lazy folks like me, a can of whipping cream will do.

Carol was not fussed with the idea of Cool Whip. (See how I’m picking up a bit of Aussie vocabulary? I wish I could get Carol to record this post for you, but she does not like to be recorded. Bummer!)

“Have you read what the ingredients are? Cream is much better than Cool Whip!”

I’m warning you right now, you don’t need to argue with Carol about the benefits of Cool Whip.

I’m sure I have made my case for eating pavlova for breakfast. One more convincing argument is that pavlova keeps very well in the refrigerator in an airtight container. As it ages overnight it develops a bit of a gooey sauce of its own on the bottom which makes it even better.

Carol served naked pavlova and let us put the fruit and cream on that we liked. I’m not showing you how much cream and how many peaches and banana slices I used.

What’s your favorite non-traditional breakfast delight?

For more food head over to Yvette’s Friday Food Challenge.

More About Australia

Upcoming Food Blogger Conference

2017 International Food Blogger Conference in Sacramento
2017 International Food Blogger Conference in Sacramento

2017 International Food Blogger Conference in Sacramento 

Ripper Aussie Names

I met Miriam through the Eternal Traveller’s blog. She posts frequently about Australia, so I thought you might enjoy this play on names. “I’ve been everywhere, man … I’ve been to Wollongong, Geelong, Kurrajong, Mullumbimby, Mittagong, Molong, Grong Grong, Goondiwindi … Cabramatta, Parramatta, Wangaratta, Coolangatta; what’s it matter?”

So goes the classic Aussie song penned by Australian country singer Geoff Mack in 1959.

Whilst I definitely haven’t been everywhere I’ll be working on it this year. And I can vouch for Mr. Mack’s words. Within our vast land and our Aboriginal ancestry, we have some pretty bizarre place names.

P1160105 (800x600)

There’s a place in the Northern Territory where we’re traveling mid year called Bong Bong. Apparently, it translates in an Aboriginal dialect to “mosquitoes buzzing”.  Ah, not exactly inspiring.

mitta-mitta-800x600

We’ve traveled to some strange sounding places. But twice?  Mitta Mitta, Wagga Wagga, Baw Baw, Lang Lang, Dum Dum, Booti Booti, Colac Colac, Mundi Mundi and Nar Nar Goon. And that’s just for starters.

What’s with the double-barrelled names?

whoota-whoota-lookout-800x600

There’s even a place called Woop Woop in the outback of Western Australia. That’s our slang term for “in the middle of nowhere”.

And it’s not somewhere I want to get stranded anytime soon.

One of my favorite places is Yackandandah, known by the locals as Yack. A picturesque town in the valleys of the high country.

yackandandah-june2012-033-800x600

There’s a suburb in Perth called Innaloo.  It was originally called Njookenbooroo but was changed as no one could spell or say it right. Can you imagine if someone asked where you lived? Innaloo.

The wacky names extend beyond the towns and cities to the islands. Continued on Miriam’s blog

Source: Ripper Aussie Names

See more Name photos Weekly Photo Challenge.

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