The Cow Lick Bookshop

I love finding a great bookshop. It makes me feel like I’ve stumbled on a treasure trove, and it’s all just waiting for me to plunder it. In all honesty, I do my best — within the limits of my budget, of course.

I visited the Cow LIck Bookshop for the first time yesterday. It won’t be my last visit.

An Aussie Maple Leaf, adrift on the wind...

Yesterday I was granted an opportunity I’ve been waiting for: I visited the Cow Lick Bookshop in Colac, Victoria. which I had discovered and followed on Facebook about a month ago. 

Colac is in the Western District of Victoria, in the middle of God’s own dairy farming country.  It’s about half an hour’s drive from where I live, but in the opposite direction to where I work, so I don’t get there often.

When I lived on a dairy farm at Princetown and visited Colac regularly, there was no bookstore, so I am super happy that there is such a great one there now.

Neal, the owner, is very friendly and knowledgeable. The shop is really well set up, and has a refreshingly quirky, welcoming vibe. The store has books on a wide range of subjects, with an excellent range of kids’ books, and Young Adult and general fiction. In…

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Shakespeare Annotated: John Milton’s First Folio

Every now and then, a fascinating discovery is made that thrills scholars and literature lovers alike.

This is one such revelation: the annotations on a rare First Folio are in the handwriting of 17th century poet John Milton, author of the epic poem Paradise Lost’.

Shakespeare Nerd

John Milton – portrait attributed to Godfrey Kneller. Image: Public Domain.

This is a fascinating discovery!

A copy of the First Folio has been proven to have been annotated in John Milton’s own handwriting.

Read more about it at The Shakespeare Blog’s article titled Shakespeare annotated: John Milton’s First Folio

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Pumpkin.

I love pumpkin. It’s my favourite vegetable. I love the colour and shape of them. I love the fact that they are all so different. If there were ever a type of vegetable that embraced individuality, the gourds and squashes would be it.

When I visited Canada, I loved seeing them decorating shops, gardens, front porches, letterboxes, streetscapes… they were everywhere. What really surprised me is how little pumpkin they actually seemed to eat, unless it was in a pie.

Speaking of which, I need some pumpkin pie. I adore pumpkin pie, but it’s really hard to get here in Australia.

While I’m daydreaming about that most delectable of desserts, please enjoy this rumination on ‘pumpkin’ via Sesquiotica.

Sesquiotica

It’s orange, except when it isn’t. And it’s big, except when it isn’t. But when it’s big, it can be very big, and it can keep getting bigger and bigger, sometimes until it’s too big and it just breaks right open. Hazards of competitive growing!

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Horror Scenes In Shakespeare: Banquo’s Ghost in ‘Macbeth’

Don’t let all that fancy language and the ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ fool you: Shakespeare definitely wrote some scenes that are more than worthy of Halloween reading.

The scene in which Banquo’s ghost appears in ‘Macbeth’ is a case in point.

It’s a great scene, so take a look!

Shakespeare Nerd

There is a beautifully crafted moment in Act 3, Scene 4 of ‘Macbeth’ where Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, and a group of lords gather for dinner. There is no place set for Banquo, because Macbeth knows he will not attend dinner – he cannot, because Macbeth has had him murdered. 

Just as Macbeth is about to sit down, he makes a speech saying that all the greatest men of the kingdom would be under one roof if Banquo were there, but he hasn’t deigned to join them. At that moment, Banquo’s ghost has shown up and taken Macbeth’s seat. Macbeth, not realising the others can’t see Banquo, tells Ross he can’t sit down because the table’s full. Lennox shows him to his place, and Macbeth starts acting very strangely. He directly addresses Banquo’s ghost, saying “Thou canst not say I did it: never shake thy gory locks at me.” 

This is…

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The Black Prince’s Cursed Ruby and Richard III?

Medieval British history is my absolute favourite era to read and study, so this article really appealed to me.

Seriously, who isn’t going to be intrigued by a series of kings who faced various challenges and misfortunes, connected by a ruby that is said to be cursed? What a fascinating historical mystery!

I hope you enjoy this post from the murreyandblue blog. If you’re at all interested in English medieval history, you should definitely give that blog a follow.

murreyandblue

Imperial State Crown, with the Black Prince’s Ruby at the front
from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Prince%27s_Ruby

“….It is said that Henry V wore it [the Black Prince’s Ruby] in his jewel-encrusted helmet at the battle of Agincourt, and Richard III did also at the battle of Bosworth….”

I found the above sentence in a post on the British Medieval History Facebook group. How very intriguing. It’s something I had never heard before. Did Richard really wear the priceless but cursed gem at Bosworth? If so, was he (as one friend has suggested) emulating Henry V? Or even the Black Prince himself?

The ruby is actually “a magnificent 170-caratredspinel, the largest uncut spinel in the world. This particular precious stone, known as ‘the Great Imposter’, has a traceable history dating back seven centuries and is rumoured to be cursed, as its consecutive royal owners have been dogged by…

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Looking Spectacular

I’ve had reading glasses for some time, which is not at all surprising given the amount of reading, and writing I do. I suppose I’ve done well to last this long with only a slightly stronger prescription than that with which I started in senior high school.

For a while, though, I’ve noticed my longer-distance vision getting worse and, finally, today I collected my new glasses from the store and joined the ranks of those who wear glasses all day, every day. 

I did not wear them driving home, figuring that a 45 minute drive was not the time to start adjusting to my new glasses. I put them on when I got home, and am currently working out how to hold my head oand how to move my eyes for different ranges of vision. Even though it is only the first night, it feels like It will be more a matter of learning some new habits rather than a difficult transition. 

I’m looking forward to being able to see things more clearly and not having such tired eyes at the end of each day. 

Horror Scenes in Shakespeare: “Out, vile jelly!” The Eye-Gouging of Gloucester.

A black and white image of Shakespeare with the heading 'Horror in Shakespeare'.

I remember the first time I saw ‘King Lear’ on stage. I was in my final year of high school and my English teacher took us to see the play.

It’s fair to say I was more than impressed, and I particularly remember this scene. It’s one thing to read it on the page, and another entirely to see it brought to life on the stage.

I hope you enjoy Shaekspeare Nerd’s post on this most macabre scene from King Lear: the eye-gouging of Gloucester.

Shakespeare Nerd

There is one particularly macabre scene in King Lear where Lear’s daughter Regan and her husband, Cornwall, presided over the punishment of Gloucester for his “treason” in supporting Lear, the rightful king, after their rejection of him.

They are in Gloucester’s own home, no less, when they detain him, bind him to a chair and accuse him of treason. He has no idea of their evil intent, and reminds them more than once that they are his guests – and terrible ones at that.

Regan yanks hair out of Gloucester’s beard, and when Cornwall gouges out one of his eyes, presumably with a dagger, she picks up a sword and kills the servant who objects, then demands that Gloucester’s other eye be taken out, too. On doing so, Cornwall utters the words, “Out, vile jelly!” This really emphasises the vulnerability and delicate nature of the tissues and substance of the…

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The Burning Question

I love writing creepy stories.

Sometimes I enjoy building the tension slowly, and other times I like to go for a quick twist.

Today’s drabble was inspired by a question asked by one of my own students: Why do you wear so much black? And it was, indeed, a fair question.

The rest of this story is entirely fictional, but I had fun writing it.

The teacher placed the stack of papers on the table and addressed the class. 
“Thank you for your essays. Are there any final burning questions?”

Most deliberately avoided her gaze, but one girl raised her hand, initiating a chorus of groans.

“Yes?

“Why do you always wear black?”

Insolent laughter erupted around the classroom.

The teacher nodded. “Fair question. It’s camouflage for my sense of humour— or my soul. You choose.”

She shrugged, and the collected papers behind her burst into flames then powdered into ashes.

She smiled at their silence. “Perhaps you’ll all be more respectful from now on!”

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Horror Scenes in Shakespeare: The Witches of ‘Macbeth’

It’s true that Shakespeare isn’t usually associated with horror, but there are a number horror and macabre scenes in his plays that are genuinely creepy and very dark.

So, this ’spooky season’, I’ll be sharing those scenes with you via Shakespeare Nerd.

As I noted in a post last week, the first scene of Macbeth is my favourite opening scene among all the plays, so that’s a great place to start.

Shakespeare Nerd

Often referred to as the Weird Sisters, the witches of ‘Macbeth’ open the play with a powerfully macabre and horrifying scene. There is a cauldron in the middle of the cavern, around which the witches dance and recite the list of ingredients in the potion they are making. 

Just reading the recipe is enough to make one’s skin crawl – and we are nowhere near as superstitious as Shakespeare’s original audiences. 

In 1606 when the play is thought to have first been performed, audiences then would have both living memory and current knowledge of witch trials and persecutions, and would have been very wary of anything to do with witches and magic.

Shakespeare knew what we was doing, though. James I had been king of England for a few years, and  did not enjoy universal popularity among his English subjects. By portraying the witches and Macbeth as evil, he was…

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Strange Inspiration.

As a writer, inspiration can come from anywhere.

Last week, as my friends and I were sitting in a shopping centre food court, I watched a young boy carefully picki his nose, eating the booger, and follow it with a chicken nugget. He did this at least three times,

At a table nearby, another young boy watched too, with disbelief and horror written all across his face.

The scene amused me, and I filed a mental note about it. Did the second boy never pick his nose, I wondered, or was he just appalled by the thought of eating it?

As I was driving home, a story came to me.

It seems fitting that it is a macabre story, given that it is October and Halloween will soon be upon us.

However, when I went looking for a copyright free image of a kid with their finger up their nose, I couldn’t find a single one. You would think that with the world-wide resources of the internet at our fingertips, things like that wouldn’t be so hard to find. There were stock images available, but I generally refuse to use those because, like all Indie authors, I’m on a budget and that seems like a luxury to me.

One Facebook post later, my cousin came to the rescue. Her young son was only too happy to stick his finger up his nose for the camera, and now he’s my little hero. He loves creepy stories, so I’ve promised to write one for him. I just have to wait for a little more strange inspiration to come my way.

He’s a natural! Image by Geanette Saad. Used with permission.

I hope you enjoy The Final Blow.

Image by Geanette Saad 2019. Used with permission.

“How many times do I have to tell you not to pick your nose?”

Sam sighed. All he wanted to do was dislodge those crusty bits that stabbed the inside of his nostrils every time she made him blow into a tissue, and remained there stubbornly regardless of his efforts with the tissue. Those things hurt, and they didn’t let go on their own.The best way to remove them was gently, with his favourite finger, and then flick them into the bin.

She should just be thankful he never wanted to eat it. He didn’t understand how other kids could. Just the other day when they had gone out for lunch he had watched another boy in the restaurant eating his booger off his finger before picking up a chicken nugget and eating that. He shuddered at the thought.

“You don’t know…

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