What you doin’ there Buster?

I’ve been distracted from social media fun, posting, and writing in the last couple of weeks due to this face….

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Buster. The newest addition to my little family. And being a puppy, I have to keep my eyes on him 24/7 and develop octopus arms. Pull him away from chewing power cords, eating strange insects, going to the toilet in the wrong place. Having the fun of the first few nights at home where he wakes you up crying, scared of an unfamiliar place away from his litter. Waking you up at 3 am because he wants to play.

He’s the over-energetic silly-pants all puppies are. With super sharp teeth wanting to chew everything, running and pouncing with unco-ordination. Using my plait as a vine as he plays Tarzan swinging from my hair… or clothes… or anything else he can reach. At 10 weeks old, everything is a new exciting adventure.

Buster 11 Aug 2017.jpgWhen he is asleep he is adorable. And he loves his cuddles once he stops trying to masticate your fingers. A number of times I’ve found him asleep, curled up next to my sneakers or slippers, head buried in the open top like he’s trying to find a missing bone deep within my footwear. But he’s fast asleep, high on the fumes of toe jam.

Buster’s big sparkly eyes stare at you with fascination, and he’s just so little and fragile. I’ve been wanting to add a new canine family member to our troop since last year. We lost our two Maltese X dogs early last year to old age, leaving Baillie (the lovable pooch I inherited from my Mother when she passed away) alone and bored. He’s used to having playmates and was becoming anxious and destructive, especially at times when I had to leave him home alone. Hence the Cavoodle cutie Buster coming into our midst.

He’s definitely playful. Adorable. And just the right fit for our mountain-top family.

Now that Buster has settled in and I’ve puppy-proofed the house, I’ll be able to dedicate my time back to writing without having to search for him every few minutes to find out what trouble he may be getting into next… and I’m sure there will be many a funny tales he creates that I can share to any dog lovers out there on occasion.

These little furbabies enrich my life so much, love unconditionally, and fill an empty house with colour and excitement that makes it feel like a home.

Now if Buster can sit still long enough for me to get a decent photo, he’ll become an Instagram star for sure 😉

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Muttly Mania by Casey Carlisle

 

© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#bookquotes

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A fun YA paranormal romance series reminiscent of the Lux collection by Jennifer L. Armentrout. This series, The Elementals by Brigid Kemmerer is another addition to my guilty pleasures. Especially when we have a cute, intelligent four-legged friend in the mix. As a proud furbaby mumma I can’t get enough of canine companions as characters in my novels.

Playing Dead

…the one where I kept getting stopped in the street by concerned neighbours thinking my dog has been run over by a car.

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Baillie, my little black and white Shi-Tzu loves going for walks. He is gun-ho all the way. We stop at every blade of grass to sniff and wizz on. We wave to people on the street and get lots of pats. Doting words of what a cute pooch he is. We may stop right in front of said people, or in the middle of driveways to do a big pooh that looks like Polywaffle chocolate bar – lucky I’m not embarrassed. Kids giggle. Adults pretend it’s not happening and move on. I come prepared with doggie bags and praise him for his ablutions… saves me getting interrupted while working with a warning bark at the back door – Toilet time Mummy!

And that’s how the afternoon walk progresses. Heavy panting and pulling on the lead this way and that. Smell. Wizz. Smell. Wizz. Squirrel!

Playing Dead Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.jpgUsually we get home before he drinks half a bowl of water and collapses, blissful, satiated. Though on rare occasions, Baillie runs out of steam… and there he’ll sit. Decided he’s had enough. And he’s not movin’. No way. No how. (At which point I start having flashbacks to YouTube clips of owners dragging their dead-weight furbabies along the pavement by the lead.)

Lucky for his miniscule stature and teddy bear nature, I can carry him the rest of the way home with ease.

He loves to be carried. Like a little child at night time, Baillie will always pretend to be asleep so I have to carry him to his bed. Observant to when I start to turn off the lights, he’ll lie down, faking slumber, waiting to be scooped up and placed on his blankie.

But he doesn’t snuggle into you. He hangs there like a wet limp noodle.

So as I’m walking back home from our afternoon walk. There’s Bailie, flaccid in my arms, tongue lolling out to one side. Flopping with each pace. He really looks dead to the untrained eye.

People run up “Oh no! What happened?” Then Baillie’s head will lazily roll to cast a discerning eye – really, the most minimal effort he can muster to satisfy his mild curiosity; to which I have to explain that he is fine and simply tired. Or lazy. Or just wants to be carried. “Goodness I thought your dog got hit by a car or something.” And then he gets pats and scratches… it’s all a big sympathy ploy I’m sure.

Such a baby.

But I love him to bits. And I’d carry him with me anywhere.

Muttly Mania by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

No fun for this waterbaby ☹

The aftermath of Cyclone Debbie and water turbidity

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I love putting my Marine Biology degree to use and volunteering for colleagues in their research, and I had signed on for a number of data collecting expeditions in the first half of this year, but my excitement was dashed when Cyclone Debbie reared her head in March, kicking up sediment, increasing freshwater runoff.

Many of the species we were to observe or tag left the area and hadn’t returned with enough population to warrant a survey. Additionally, the turbidity and visibility of the water hampered the chosen sites and work was delayed or cancelled for the time being. So I was left with a big sad face.

I would have loved to get involved with a study on the silt deposits from run-off on the reef, or how nutrient run off increases certain organism population or algal blooms in the area; but no-one I knew was conducting a foray into these areas at the moment. No luck for this girl. I was tempted to conduct my own study just for the fun of it, but that kind of endeavour takes a little bit of money and extra volunteers. I can’t justify the time an effort spent to organise when I should be writing. That’s how I weigh up every activity at the moment: is it worth me taking time of writing or not? Only because I’m determined to finish some projects this year, no matter how strong the call of the sea!

I did get one small morning survey for starfish species. A bit of light snorkelling on a sunny day in a more remote area of the Sunshine Coast to compare to the more popular and trafficked areas. More to monitor the impact of tourism and industry on the local species.

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Though because it was only a short amount of time to get the job done, I didn’t have the opportunity to swim around photographing some of the sights for my blog. Though I did manage to get a selfie – the only good one out of ten. My photographer had a hard time keeping the camera still.

It has been the least scientific of all my adventures. And without incident of my clumsiness. Prone to slipping on rocks, falling down, tripping – or getting slapped in the face by a turtle. I endure all of this for my love of the ocean and its inhabitants. Looking forward to a few adventures nearer to Christmas. Turtle tagging, some research into plankton species which will mostly be conducted in a lab, a trawling sample, and maybe a coastline survey. Sadly no dugong studies this year.

I’m still wanting to do some more nosing around in the natural spring in my back yard and get a population survey of what is right under my nose. I hear the spring has been seeded with Barramundi!

But writing first.

Head Under Water by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Albinos and all their stuff

What’s the most common question I get asked as a writer?

How do you remember all this stuff?

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It’s usually in awe at the wall of folders I have from my works in progress. I keep a folder on my desktop of ideas for novels, characters, scenes… but when I get something more developed, a rough plot, a cast, a more definite outline… along with pages of writing, either the beginning, or a few key scenes – it gets a ring binder and a place on my shelf. I keep all my notes in there, I design a cover and spine. That way my idea feels real. And when it comes time to do some writing on said project, I can pull out the folder and everything I need is contained within.

And when you have over 40 titles on the shelf you find people staring at them wide eyes and asking you – how do you remember all this stuff? How do you keep the characters straight in your head and not mix the books up?

My answer is always very simple. I remember all my friends, and family. I know where they live, I have an idea of their wants and desires, what they look like, their little personality traits and favourite sayings… so it’s just like that. The books and characters within are the same as friends and family. In fact, I probably spend more time with my fictional family, because they live in my head more prominently, I go on adventures with them. We have conversations. They might change or grow up even before I put words on paper.

The human brain has such a capacity for learning and remembering, why does it always seem like a shocking feat to remember the books I’m writing – or even the books I’ve read?

I guess for someone who is not in the habit of writing books, or reading a lot for that matter, easy recollection of fictional facts seems almost like science fiction. Like you are some sort of genius. So when they get over the realisation that I’m not hiding away in a dark room with over a dozen cats writing erotic fiction for my own fancy, and actually see the scope and effort I put in, something grinds and crunches in their heads that I must be the re-incarnation of Albert Einstein himself.

How does their brain take the leap from some mousey, unattractive shut-in with sexually deviant tendencies to a crazy haired genius after entering my office? Surely there is a somewhat more modest middle ground?

Albinoes and their stuff Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.jpgI think writers are much like albino animals – rarely seen in the wild, perceived as odd, weird, or magical, but on the whole, (apart from the propensity to get sunburn) no different to the regular coloured masses. I’m beginning to learn that the general public’s assumptions of what a writer is, is so vastly different to what I actually do. It’s up there with astronaut or vascular surgeon – it sounds impressive but we don’t know the ins and outs of what they actually do every day. (Not that being a writer is as important as an astronaut or a vascular surgeon – just that they are job titles not many know details about) I’m frequently launching into the mechanics of writhing and the publishing world for friends and family. Their notions that I sit at my computer for a few weeks, churn out a novel and then send if off into the ether to be transformed into a book on the shelves of stores is completely naive.

I spend a lot of time writing, and with the characters, worlds, and story acrs that I write; so why wouldn’t I know them by heart? If I was in any other occupation, wouldn’t I know all the intricacies of that job too?

So, I guess I have to embrace being some albino animal as well – though it’s not too much of a stretch having pale skin, red hair and freckles – where people come and stare in stack-jawed intensity when they discover what it is I really do on occasion. But on the most part, I just get on with it.

Though I always get surprised at some of the frequently asked questions – I mean, if they thought about it, even only fleetingly, the answer is so obvious I may as well slap them in the face with a rubber chicken…

In fact, I may do just that.

Albinoes and their stuff Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

 

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#bookporn

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Finished this novel last month and was surprisingly impressed – looking forward to the next in the series (though there is no news of it yet.) Review to come soon.

Baillie loves his science fiction too – I always catch him stealing my books.

A Week Away (which means no NaNoWriMo for me)

Old high school friends visiting that I’ve known for years, an underwater walk with sharks, and venturing across the tundra at Australia Zoo.

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I was thinking about scheduling some posts for my week away from the keyboard, but it turned out I was too busy getting the guest house ready for visitors – my place was like an episode of ‘The Block.’ I was running around buying styling items, painting, assembling furniture, covered in all manner of dirt, dust and hues of paint. And I never knew my body odour could get so bad… peeeyouuu!

But the space looks fantastic and I’m very proud of the effort.

So instead of creating prose at the computer this week I’ve been staying up late with a glass of champagne reminiscing over high school days, giggling at our antics, and catching up with each other’s lives until late into the night. The days have been filled with wildlife. Sea Life Mooloolabah is a huge favourite of mine – my Marine Biology roots express themselves and my friends and family get a personalised tour through the exhibitions, regaled by my stories of encounters in the wild. I may or may not embellish for artistic and humorous purposes… that’s just the way I roll. Australia Zoo (Steve Irwin’s brainchild) was fun, and attending in the off season, means no lines, plenty of time to stand gazing at the wonderful animals without getting jostled for a prime viewing spot from pushy tourists. Its open plan, ornate gardens and massive statues give a great ambience to the zoo experience. There are no cramped cages and unhappy animals here. Most are rescued or unable to be released into the wild due to being bred in captivity – not that I’m a stout activist, but it is reassuring that the animals are benefiting from care here rather than being abducted from the wild for our amusement.

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Today we just got back from a rainforest walk to the local waterfalls, which was great to spot all the kaleidoscope hued tropical parrots and parakeets and a chance at glimpsing some platypus in the wild (lil’ buggar was too fast for me to snap a quick pic). The only down fall – my hayfever and being covered in sweat from a muggy day – I so wanted to “accidentally” fall into the water at the falls, but forgot to bring a towel and wasn’t about to treat other bushwalkers to this winter padded body.

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After life in the city, moving up into the mountains dotting the coastline has left me with a renewed appreciation for flora and fauna and is always a peaceful and inspiring backdrop for writing.

So if you were wondering where my regular posts were this week – I’ve been renovating, and then got lost in nature. I’ll be back to regular posting in the next day or two, refreshed, revitalised and feeling greatful.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

The “AHH” Factor

The AHH Factor 01 by Casey Carlisle

It’s coming up on two years since I traded in my stilettoes for gum boots: and how am I fairing?

Walking into spider webs, getting attacked by mites and ants when gardening, dodging cane toads in the wet season after dark. Trying to keep bats, parrots, possums and rats off my vegetable garden. Keeping a keen eye out for snakes in spring – even stepping in between my dog and a small brown snake newly out of hibernation. Seeing spiders the size of my hand and cockroaches the size of matchbox cars… all the things that crawl, skitter, skuttle, slide and bite have me screaming ‘Ahh!’ and wishing for the paved streets of suburbia with a deep yearning. But I love the peace and quiet, the fresh air and the rainforest just outside the back door. A recent trip to the city helped me put my move to the country into perspective…

House-sitting a friends place for a week seemed like a welcome chance to fulfil my withdrawals from city life. I got to wear nice clothes and wasn’t covered in mud and dirt, and caught up with friends over café lunches. I went shopping and indulged in cell phone reception and fast internet speeds. It was all so wonderful. But the maddening traffic with idiot drivers having me in a state of panic with near misses every second day. The sound of the neighbours cooking, eating, chewing… I mean, I heard everything… from both sides! I did not get much sleep.

So I guess there are pros and cons for both locales, but I think for the sake of my nerves, and my writing, my mountain top home is for the win. While it is isolated and comes with all manner of wildlife to combat and shriek at, it feeds my imagination and keeps me calm. All those things I love about city life can be a distraction to my goals this year with writing, blogging and reading. Not to mention the added little expenses of spotting a bargain, some coffee and cake there, and petrol consumption. I save a lot of money living in the wilderness.

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So, I’m thinking with limiting my trips to the metropolis solely for a fix and catching up with friends is something I should have done long ago… but that was when I needed to be in the city for work and cancer treatment. Now I get to chase my dream of being an author and have the Zen of mountain top rainforest to keep me inspired as I release a relaxing breath… ‘ahhhh…’ How that word captures what I love and hate about this place, but I think this is the perfect place for me right now.

Plus, my friend’s just love hearing all the anecdotes about me combatting the denizens here – something about me in a state of panic amuses them to no end…

What is your ideal writing retreat?

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Surprising things on the lawn this morning

I was lucky enough to get a call from an old friend this morning to help with the critters on his grass… sea grass that is.

I think the last time I posted about anything to do with ocean research was back in December last year when I got to do some more turtle tagging and population biometrics. With autumn settling in, it’s pretty nippy some mornings, however, the Sunshine Coast is still boasting warm days and some calm seas. So you can guess this little girl was excited at a chance to get out on the wild blue and do some exploring… Avast me lubbers! Half a day’s travel to a nearby dugong population, Aaron had phoned me up to help him collecting data on a herd he’s been studying.

Me – turn down the chance to swim with dugongs – hell no!

I didn’t have any gear, or an underwater camera, so I’m lucky Aaron was well prepared… usually his calls for help entail me trudging through mangroves, or sitting on a boat. And there is always endless opportunity to make a spectacle of myself, I’m built like a giraffe and co-ordinatedly challenged. But I love it, so my friends have to put up with my trips, falls and ass-pants. But this was amazing! I literally wanted to make a starfish in the seabed it looked so inviting.

Dugong 01 by Casey CarlisleThere was about fifteen dugongs in this herd, and a few swam up close for a nosey. It’d be great to give them a pat, but were observing in the wild and it’s not good to let them get too domesticated. One poor fella had scars across his back – a threat to this species where motorboat propellers catch them travelling over their feeding meadows. But he seems in good health. Many populations in the southern region are in danger, other factors like accidental capture in fishnets have impacted numbers as well.

There were small schools of fish, I glimpsed a cuttlefish and a number of crustaceans on the substrate. I would have loved to wander around and see what else I could find (and snap some pics), but we had a job to do. Did I mention I’m kicking myself for leaving my camera behind? Aaron graciously sent me a few snaps of our outing – probably because I whines so much at being ill prepared to document our outing. Thanks again Aaron – you are awesome!

At least this trip I wasn’t plagued with my usual clumsiness and managed to stay on my own two feet when on dry land.

It looks like the area of the sea grass itself is shrinking. And it had me wondering as to the environmental factors affecting the situation, as we’ve also had a significant event with coral bleaching along the Great Barrier Reef. I shudder to think of a possibility where all the amazing wonders I’ve seen could be wiped out in the near future if we don’t do all we can to protect these colonies, parks and reefs. James Cook University recently released a study that the reef will be dead within 5 years if some major work is not done to save it. I can’t imagine the impact on our parks and industry. It is a daunting thought and I don’t think enough noise is being made to help protect our sea life and their habitats.

Given the water is shallow and there wasn’t a lot of wind around, the water was pretty turgid, so visibility was hazy. I’d love to re-visit on a day with high visibility and low currents, it would be like standing on a hilltop paddock with the cows magically suspended in the air. It made me feel truly humble and I really want to do all I can to help protect this wonderful species. I’d like my children and nieces and nephews to enjoy and appreciate experiences like these.

So my day on the green was a little different, but I still am in awe at everything Mother Nature has to offer.

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Me and Aaron posing for an underwater selfie.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.