Thursday’s Child – Picnic at the Waterfall

January 22, 2018 at 7:30 am | Posted in Australia, Birds, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, household chores, Nature, Promotion, Reading, Writing | 2 Comments
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I am writing a few blog posts to introduce the main character in Thursday’s Child, my new Young Adult novel, which is set in 1960-61 Australia. Victoria Delaney (Tori) is fourteen, in her second year of high school. She wants to become a teacher one day, but events conspire against her.

*         *         *

From Tori’s Diary

Thursday, 8th September 1960

We had such a lovely day today. I am so tired I can hardly write. It’s only a few days until we go back to school for the last term before Christmas, so we wanted to do something special. We got Mam to let us go to the falls for a picnic! The four of us – me, Carol, Mickey & Frankie set off after we’d done our morning chores. Danny’s only a baby, so he stayed home with Mam.

We followed the road, then a track, and after about four miles, we came to the creek. It wasn’t hot, but it was sunny, even through the trees and we were glad to get there. The water was so clear and cold to drink, wash our faces and bathe our bare feet in. Mam had made us promise not to go in swimming, so I had to watch Mickey so he didn’t.

We played around on the rocks and paddled where the water was shallow just out from the falls. How lovely the rock wall is where the water flows over into the waterhole! I’m no good at geology, but I could tell that lots of different layers sat on top of each other. The water had made them smooth and dark, and where the sun shone, the rock glistened and the water sparkled.

Mickey kept his eyes and ears open for birds all the time, and told us each time he heard or saw a different one. There are so many! Honeyeaters, red wattlebirds and a couple of different finches are the ones I remember. Frankie followed Mickey everywhere, as he usually does, and one time he slipped off a rock into the water. Thank goodness it wasn’t deep. He grazed his leg & got wet, but he was dry by the time we got home.

Carol and I wandered around, sometimes together and sometimes in different directions, but we all stayed close to the waterhole. I was hoping to see a platypus, but we must have scared them away. We did see a water dragon, and when we were walking back home, we saw a couple of wallabies – I think its wallabies in the mountains, not kangaroos, as they live in flatter country. Some of the wildflowers were out too and the golden wattles along the roadsides were still in flower.

We ate our jam sandwiches and boiled eggs for lunch and drank from the creek. We loved it so much that we didn’t want to leave, but we’d also promised Mam we’d be back in time to do our evening chores. I have to help with making dinner, and there are the chooks to feed, eggs to collect, Danny to look after, wood to chop for the stove. We got home in time, so Mam was happy, and even with the five-mile walk back, we were too.

 

If you wish to purchase Thursday’s Child on Kindle, click here to pre-order. It will be available for download on the 1st of February.

© Linda Visman

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Thursday’s Child – Tori’s Book Review

January 18, 2018 at 7:50 am | Posted in Australia, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, high school, historical fiction, Nature, Reading, Ways of Living, Writing | 6 Comments
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I am writing a few blog posts to introduce the main character in my new Young Adult novel, Thursday’s Child, which is set in 1960-61 Australia. Victoria Delaney is fourteen, in her second year of high school. She wants to become a teacher one day, but events conspire against her.

As part of their English subject, Tory and her class were asked to write a review of a book they enjoyed. Here is Tori’s book review:

 

*         *         *

 

My book is “Man-shy”, by Frank Dalby Davison. It was published in 1931 by Angus and Robertson, and won best novel of the year. The other part of its title is “A Story of Men and Cattle”.

I loved this story, even though I had a feeling it would not end well; after all how can cattle win when they take on men? The main “character” for the cattle in the scrub is the red heifer, who becomes the red cow. The main human character on the cattle station is the stockman Splinter. We don’t see a lot of either of them in the story, but they are strongly present through it.

The author Mr Davison seems to really understand men and cattle and that makes the animals and people real instead of made-up. He shows the difference between the docile cattle of the paddocks and the wild cattle of the rugged ranges. There is also a difference between the cruel owner who only sees cattle as “beef on the hoof” to be turned into profit, and Splinter who is more sympathetic. Splinter is still a man though, and still has to catch and brand them.

Mr Davison really makes me see the countryside and feel the feelings of both man and beast. I like his descriptions of the spirited red cow who only wants to live in freedom. I also love how he writes, sentences like: “The sun went down behind the range, drawing the light with it.”(p.92)

The character I most liked is the red cow, and I am on her side all the way through. It is sad when she is caught and branded, but then she is released. Then she is caught again, but escapes. I was happy for her then. But the cattle station is turned into smaller, fenced-off allotments and the wild cattle can no longer get to water.

I was glad when she and her calf escaped from the final trap. Then I realized that she had doomed herself and her calf to the waterless rugged ranges. However, her mates had all perished by violence, while she would at least die as she had lived – free in her beloved scrubland. And that was enough for me.

 

If you wish to purchase Thursday’s Child on Kindle, click here to pre-order. It will be available for download on the 1st of February.

 

Thursday’s Child – Introducing my Main Character

January 15, 2018 at 11:58 am | Posted in 1960s, Australia, divisions in society, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, historical fiction, History, Reading, Social mores, Society, War and Conflict, Ways of Living, Writing | 4 Comments
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I would like to introduce the main character in my new Young Adult novel, Thursday’s Child.

It is 1961, and Victoria (Tori) Delaney is in her second year of high school. Her class has been discussing social issues that affect Australia. Her teacher, Miss Bradshaw, has given the class an assignment to complete for homework.

Choose an issue that you think is important and write a one to two page essay on it.

This is what Tori writes:

*         *         *

Why are girls and women treated as if they are not as good as boys and men? Why are they not allowed to do the same things as they are, or given the same opportunities?

It surprises me that women are even allowed to vote. I am sure that if it hadn’t been for the Suffragettes, they would still not be allowed to. I think it is very unfair that we are treated as if we are inferior. Women have often shown that they are just as good as men, the most obvious way is when they had to step in during the Great War and again in the last war.

Women who had never even lived in the country joined the Australian Women’s Land Army so that farming could carry on when the men went off to war. They did everything that the men had done. They drove tractors and did the ploughing, the reaping and the carting of the crop. They cared for the animals, shore the sheep and milked the cows, as well as butchering them for meat.

Some women took over jobs that needed specialist knowledge and strength. They became mechanics, drivers, engineers and aeroplane builders, as well as producing guns and ammunition.

The Australian Army, Navy and Air Force would have found it harder to keep going without the women who joined the special Women’s Services. They drove jeeps and big trucks, piloted planes to be repaired and returned to service. They became radio operators and even observers and anti-aircraft gunners.

It was mostly the women at home who made the men’s uniforms, who went into danger to nurse the sick and wounded, and who took over from the male doctors when they joined the forces. And many of them did this as well as raising families, often on their own, and worrying about their husbands and sons who were fighting or imprisoned.

When the war ended, the men returned home and, of course they wanted their jobs back. Most women were happy to go back to the home life they’d had before the war, but more than a few thought they had earned the right to work at jobs they had done well for many years. They didn’t want to go back to being under men’s thumb again.

They had kept vital industries going, kept the country fed and the forces clothed and supplied. They had learned new skills, felt they could contribute something to society. Now the exciting days of responsibility and self-respect were over, they didn’t want to go back to household drudgery and lose what they had showed they were capable of. It must have been really hard for them

Many women and even girls like me resent that they are not treated as equal to men, and are not satisfied with a life of pandering to them. What hope is there in that?

 

Tori will tell us a bit more about herself in the next few posts.

If you wish to purchase Thursday’s Child on Kindle, click here to pre-order. It will be available for download on the 1st of February.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Getting Closer!

January 8, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Posted in Australia, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, historical fiction, Reading, Writing, Writing and Life | 8 Comments
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Front cover -Dave

 

The second proof copy of my novel ‘Thursday’s Child’ arrived today. It took less than a week from when I ordered it.

It looks great – the cover, the font, the setting out are all wonderful.  I don’t expect to find any issues, but it is always better to be sure than sorry. So, after a final check, I will be able to make it available on Kindle, and as a Print-on-demand paper copy.

I have also begun work on my third Young Adult novel, as yet untitled.

Exciting times!

 

 

 

Cover of my second novel

December 3, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Posted in Australia, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Publishing, Reading, Social mores, Writing | 14 Comments
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I am excited!

I will shortly receive a proof copy of my second coming-of-age Young Adult novel, Thursday’s Child, to go through and make sure it is ready for publication.

Here is the cover for the book – back, spine and front.

 

Book Cover Preview on CreateSpace

It is always rather thrilling to get to this stage.

 

 

 

I wish you could tell me, Mum

May 23, 2016 at 5:00 am | Posted in Australia, Family, Family History, heritage, History, Love, Memoir, Polio epidemic, Reading, Reflections, Writing and Life | 29 Comments
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Today, the 23rd of May, would have been my mother’s birthday.  Sadly,  however, Mum lost her battle with illness almost 22 years ago, on the 13th June 1994, at the age of 74, less than seven years older than I am now.

I was close to Mum as a child, though I knew little of her earlier life. The selfish perspective of youth meant that I knew her less as she aged. Then, at the age of just twenty, I married and left home.

For almost all of the next twenty-five years, I lived some distance away, having children, seeing them grow up, getting divorced from their father, entering what was then a forbidden relationship, moving even farther away in both miles and understanding, visiting briefly only once or twice a year. It was only when Mum was on her death bed that I returned home, helped Dad nurse Mum there for two weeks before attending her funeral.

I have always regretted that distance between us. As I grew into my forties, I wanted to know her better, but it was already too late. Illness had made the last years difficult for her.

A few years ago, while Dad was still alive, I wrote a poem called. “What’s your story, Mum?”. Recently, Dad having died in June 2013, I edited the poem and re-named it “I wish you could tell me, Mum”. Here it is, on what would have been her 96th birthday.

 

Agnes Thompson 1941 front

Mum aged 21, 1941

 

I wish you could tell me, Mum

 

What’s your story, Mum?

I wish you could tell me.

Dad told me his when he was still here,

when I could finally visit from far away

But you had already left us then.

 

We often talked about you, Mum.

He’d tell me of when you were young.

Like how beautiful you were, how popular,

and how, even before he’d met you,

there was never any other girl for him.

 

His eyes lit up as he told of how you’d laugh,

And how the joy of it made his heart sing.

Of how you later ‘walked out’ together,

through wet, coal-blackened streets,

and for miles over cold and windy moors.

 

He’d remember how you both loved to dance,

as if the two of you were one,

Still gliding and twirling when the band

And everyone else was exhausted.

 

Dad told me, Mum, about the births of your children.

The first, a son, and the paralysis his arrival caused.

He told me how he couldn’t defend you against the pain

whilst flying his plane far away in defence of your country.

 

He said how wonderful it was later,

to assist in the births of your three daughters,

at home, in the bed where we had been conceived.

He told me what a great home-maker you were,

always making the best out of very little.

 

But what’s your story, Mum – in your words?

Dad could tell me how much he wanted to migrate

to a country free of class and arrogance,

but he couldn’t tell me how you really felt.

Did you want to go as much as he?

Or did you go simply because you loved him?

 

It was easy, I think, to leave your selfish father,

but oh, how difficult it must have been

to say good-bye to your gentle, loving mother,

to go to a new country; a strange land.

 

Heat and drought and wide expanses replaced

the cold and damp of a bustling ancient township.

A tiny caravan, then a little fibro house, replaced

the solid security of your old stone terrace.

 

Venomous snakes and spiders brought unwelcome danger.

Barbed-wire fences and eucalypt forest replaced

soft green fields bounded by hedge and mossy stone.

Oak and ash, bluebells and buttercups were left behind.

 

How did you adjust to the changes?

What fears and insecurities did this bring?

Oh, what did you really think, Mum?

 

Then, in this new land, another traumatic birth:

my baby brother healthy, though his twin sister died.

And you, alone in a hospital bed, not allowed your own,

denied even the comforting presence of your husband,

as you fought, alone, for life.

 

Is that when the fearfulness began to creep in?

Is that when you began to think you might lose us;

had to always know where we were, so you

could feel some measure of control in your life?

 

Or did that happen in 1961, when two of your children

and Dad, all contracted the dreaded polio?

Was it when we thought Dad might not even live,

And there was no money to even buy food?

 

I remember that awful time, Mum.

I was only thirteen and could only guess

at the fears that burdened you.

The responsibility you had to take alone.

 

Dad, crippled and unable to help,

your father taking away the mother

that you needed then

more than you had ever done.

 

What I do know is that you kept our family going.

That it was your strength, dredged from

some deep, unknown place within you,

that fed and clothed and housed us.

 

It took its toll on you, I know,

but I thought of you as strong, Mum

in those desperate times.

But what did you think and feel then?

 

Dad struggled to overcome the ravages of polio,

to get back on his feet, figuratively and literally.

You were by his side, his partner in all ways,

as he set up a steady business

– concreting, of all things!

 

And how did it make you feel, Mum,

When, after so many years,

he took you dancing again?

 

The years that followed were mixed sorrow and joy,

With three daughters and one son married.

I remember the light in your eyes and your smile

as you welcomed my son,

your first grandchild, with more to come.

 

But as time went on, I realised that something

prevented you taking those little ones to your heart.

Not just because mine were always far away,

and you didn’t like or trust their father.

 

What was the barrier, Mum?

Did losing your own mother close your heart

against the awful possibility of hurt?

Was there something inside you that said,

‘if I don’t open myself to love, I won’t lose it’?

 

We grew apart – not only because of miles.

I saw you too seldom and we could not share

the things that mothers share with

daughters who are also mothers.

I missed that, Mum. I still do.

 

Dad and I nursed you at home,

night and day, until you finally left us.

Was it a relief to go; to give up

the burden that life had become?

 

Dad missed you so much then, Mum, lonely for you.

He always loved you – there was never another.

He never forgot the day you first spoke to him,

when you asked, ‘how old are you?’

 

He re-lived the days of your courtship

and listened to the music you’d loved together.

I am sure he felt you once more in his arms,

twirling yet again around the dance floor – until he left us too.

 

But I want to know more than that, Mum,

because I think that many parts of me –

my insecurities, my fears, my depression –

have come from you.

 

So I want to know how you felt; how you loved.

I want to know your story, Mum – in your own words.

 

But you’ve been gone now for many years,

and I must rely on fragments of memory,

and find you in the words of the man

who loved you.

 

But I wish you could tell me, Mum.

 

Agnes&Ern Thompson 1974

Mum & Dad dancing, 1970s.

 

 

In loving memory of Agnes Mary Thompson;

born 23rd May 1920; died 13th June 1994.

I wish I had known you better, Mum.

 

Also in loving memory of Ernest Thompson;

born 24th June 1921; died 18th June 2013.

I am proud to have been your daughter, Dad.

 

(c) Linda Visman,  May 2007

Edited 7th May 2016

 

 

Share Your World –Week 47

November 30, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Posted in Australia, Family, Gardens, Gratitude, Leisure activities, Mental Health, Nature, Reading, Travel | 7 Comments

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Since this has been Thanksgiving in the USA this week, Cee has given us just one question to consider in sharing our world.

List at least 50 Things You Enjoy. 

I am also giving thanks for what I enjoy. These are just as they came to me – in no particular order. I think I got to 55, but I enjoy, and am thankful for, a multitude more than just these.

My 5 sons; photo taken early 1981.

My 5 sons; photo taken early 1981.

*   being with any or all of my 5 sons

*   being with any or all of my lovely grandchildren

*   going for a drive and a coffee with my husband

*   going camping with my husband

*   driving – just about anywhere

*   being in our yard with the trees and birds

*   mowing the lawns

*   going for a sail in our little sailboat with my husband

*   Skyping with my kids & grandkids

*   my owl ornaments

*   being with my writing friends

*   coffee with friends

*   dinner with friends

bens-challenge-front-cover-used.jpg

*   a good book – print or kindle

*   blogging

*   reading good blogs

*   watching people

*   writing my journal

*   writing stories

*   writing poetry

*   music

*   helping others with their writing

*   thunderstorms

*   putting together our writing group’s newsletter

*   going for a train ride

*   going for a ferry ride

*   mince tarts

*   a glass or two of wine

Scrapbook 2 (1280x662)

*   scrapbooking

*   being around positive people

*   taking photos

*   being by the sea – beach, rocks, cliffs

*   the pounding of the sea on the shore

*   Nature – in any form

*   the Aussie bushIMG_4088

*   a walk in the rainforest

*   a walk by the lake

*   my husband’s love

*   photos – re-living good memories writing my Dad’s story

*   cheese

*   chocolate – but not too often

*   casual clothes

*   shopping for gifts

*   learning new skills

*   the magpie’s warbling serenade

*   the round of rain on the roof

*   the sound of children playing

*   shopping for scrapbooking materials

Eucalypt leaves

*   raking leaves

*   listening to the birds

*   seeing new places

*   a good movie

*   dancing (a rare occurrence

*   feathers

*   our little rocks & crystals collection on the windowsill

(c) Linda Visman

Share Your World – Week 43

October 29, 2014 at 9:39 pm | Posted in Australia, Leisure activities, Mental Health, Reading | 8 Comments
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Cee continues to challenge us to share our world with her great questions. They make us think about our lives, and that is always a good thing. Here are my answers to her questions for Week 43.

What is your favorite time of day?

I think it is the later part of the evenings. That is the time when it is unlikely anyone will telephone. That is when hubby is usually either watching TV or working at his computer. Thus, there is little to interrupt me in whatever I am doing. That may be writing, scrapbooking or reading. A time for myself.

What’s your favorite charitable cause and why?

I have supported many different causes throughout my life, each one relevant to the needs I see around me. These needs are sometimes medical – The Blind Society due to Dad blindness; Breast Cancer research & support groups after my cancer diagnosis; The Australian Heart Foundation, after hubby’s heart attack; and several organisations that support people in financial or other distress.

But there is a limit to the number of charities one can donate to, especially when we are on the age pension. We donate regularly to various worthy causes, but not really to any one particular cause.

How do you like to spend a rainy day?

If it is light rain, it won’t usually stop me from doing some outside things. But when the rain has set in and the best course is to stay inside and wait it out, you have a good excuse to settle in and enjoy the time out; unless you have to do paid work or have other ongoing commitments of course.

Rainy days are good times to relax and do the pleasant things you put off doing because there are more important things to do. I love to read to the sound of rain on the roof, settled into my comfortable chair with a hot drink or a glass of wine (the wine after 6pm of course). It’s a good time to catch up on my scrapbooking too, or read blogs and emails. Anything that would normally carry a sense of guilt if you do it when the weather is fine and you have no excuse for getting out of the house or yard work.

Scrapbook pages

When writing by hand do you prefer to use a pencil or pen?

When we began school, we wrote with a pencil, but in 4th grade, we moved on to pen and ink. It was such a big step, and an indication that we were growing up. To write with a pencil was seen as babyish. It wasn’t until I reached high school that biros became easy to get and relatively cheap. But even then, I preferred to use my fountain pen – the nib with use, fitting perfectly to my style of writing. It is actually rare here in Australia for anyone to write with a pencil once they are older. Those who do, usually use a clutch pencil.

By the end of high school, biros were everywhere, and I always used them to write with. The only time I have written with a pencil is when I can’t find a pen. I even do my cryptic and other crosswords with a pen. Nowadays, with my arthritic fingers, the thicker pens with formed grips are easiest for me to use, but I love the flow of the gel pens you can get now too.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Last week, with virtually no outside commitments, both my husband and I did what we wanted to do. In my case, it was lots of yard work, scrapbooking and relaxing with a crossword or a book. It has been the first time for a year or two that we have had that length of time to ourselves and we have both been thankful for it.

This week, we still have a few more days of freedom, so we are doing the same and enjoying it.

(c) Linda Visman

Share Your World – 2014 Week 40

October 7, 2014 at 12:11 am | Posted in Australia, Culture, Family, Gardens, Nature, Reading, Writing | 12 Comments
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Every week, Cee, at Share Your World, posts a few questions for us to answer. This is a great way of getting to know others, and to let others know about our own world. Here are my answers to Cee’s latest Share Your World Questions.

You’re given $500,000 dollars tax free (any currency), what do you spend it on? 

I would give each of our eight children $50,000 to reduce their mortgages or, for one, to buy his own place at last. The rest I would use to pay off our own mortgage and to pay for us to visit the countries of our birth for the first time since we left them over 60 years ago.

What’s the finest education?

I must say that, of all the formal education I have received – primary (elementary) and high school, Teachers’ College diploma, a university degree and graduate diploma – nothing can compare to the education I have received from life itself. To be open to what is around you, to observe and learn to understand the world, its people and yourself grants you an education that is second to none.

What kind of art is your favorite? Why?

Although many people will say it is not an art, my favourite is writing. I have always loved reading. I love the worlds and the characters and the situations that are created by writers, and I have become one of them myself.

I believe that those who cannot be impressed by how words can be put together in artistic, creative and meaningful ways to create works of wonder and beauty – and even horror and violence – are missing a piece of what it means to be human.

Is there something that you memorized long ago and still remember?

When I was in primary school, I learned a poem that expresses much of what our country (Australia) is. That poem is “My Country” by Dorothea McKellar (1885-1968) when she was in England, and homesick for her own country. It was first published in 1908. It compares the softness of the English countryside with the starkness of the Australian. I love the poem, as I have seen so much of what it expresses.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Through the last week, I spent quite a bit of time in the garden. It is spring here in Australia, and there are so many plants and trees blooming that there is a riot of colour all around us. The blossoms also bring the birdlife, and I enjoy listening to them warble, twitter and even shriek through the trees that surround us.

In the week ahead, I will be spending plenty of hours with my writing group, being stimulated in my word-production, helping others with their writing, and hopefully letting non-members know what we can do to assist them if they want to write.

Share Your World – Week 39

September 30, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Reading | 4 Comments
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These are the latest questions from Cee Neuner – getting to know each other on Share Your World.

Did you ever get lost?

Nope, never been lost – not that I remember, anyway.

Who was your best friend in elementary school?

I don’t remember even having a particular friend in primary (elementary) school. I guess I was rather a loner when I was young.

Since the new television season has started in the US, list three favorite TV shows.

I rarely watch TV, though there are a few programmes I will watch when they come on. Most of them relate to historical aspects. I love the British Time Team with Tony Robinson, though we are several years behind on getting them here in Australia. I also love the Australian and British Who Do You Think You Are? which trace back the antecedents of well known people. That’s pretty well all I watch on a regular basis – when they are on free to air TV. We don’t have pay TV.

If you were a mouse in your house in the evening, what would you see your family doing?

My hubby will be watching TV –either war histories or aeroplane crash investigations usually. I will be either working at my writing on my computer, doing some scrapbooking, or reading.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

We have had the last few days away, camping at a place where there was no mobile (cell) phone reception or internet reception. It has been a time of relaxation and enjoying the country and wildlife.

In the next week, I will be getting into my writing group activities again.

(c) Linda Visman

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