Tippy and Jellybean by Sophie Cunningham


In June 2020 I posted about a children’s book that was released only a few months after the bushfires that devastated the east coast of Australia earlier that year. I clearly remember watching the news on the television with my eldest daughter early on the morning of New Years Day seeing the communities of the far south coast of NSW and just across the Victorian border escaping the ravaging fires and congregating to the closest beaches.

Here’s a copy of my post:

“Firstly, a new children’s book: Tippy and Jellybean by Sophie Cunningham.

Based on the true story of Tippy the koala, and her baby, Jellybean, which was one of the tales that broke hearts all around Australia during our devastating bushfires last summer.

Tippy was found by rescuers in the Snowy River National Park just after the fires raged through the area with a burnt back and paws. She was crouched over her joey, Jellybean, who was unscathed.

Sadly, many of our koalas were lost when they made the mistake of scrambling for the top tree branches when fires went through, offering them absolutely no protection whatsoever.

Tippy and Jellybean have since recovered and have been released back to an area with eucalyptus trees.

Proceeds from this book will raise money for the Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund.

Meet the real Tippy and Jellybean


I was lucky enough to come across a copy of this book at a recent Warehouse Sale and my immediate reaction was that two year old Harry would love this story, with its beautiful illustrations by Anil Tortop of a selection of cute and cuddly Australian animals.

Guess what? Harry is missing out. I can’t part with it; it’s such a heart rending story and a reminder of all the good that came out of that disaster, as is so often the case.

Tippy and Jellybean were rescued along with many other creatures that survived the fires and were taken to Rescue Shelters where veterinarians and volunteers saw to their medical needs, primarily attention to burns and dehydration.

Volunteers supplied fresh Eucalypt leaves from neighbouring properties for Koala feed and Tippy and Jellybean regained their strength in the Sanctuary until well enough to fend for themselves in the wild.

I love this illustration as it is such a reminder of those days as well as all the good that there is in people. (Sometimes it seems so easy to forget, doesn’t it ?) Fruit and vegetables being left out for wombats, possums and kangaroos, and all the handcrafted nests knitted for wildlife and birds. I remember shopping for a special wool for a girlfriend who attended a Workshop on creating nests for critters. She was busy knitting for weeks as were so many others.

Lastly, a reminder that despite the bushfires, nature returns to provide both food and a home for the animals.

Sorry, Harry.


Yes, I know I said I was done for the Gaia Challenge but I just couldn’t resist.

The Week That Was

I’ve been totally irresponsible and the current state of the house is a consequence. The ensuite needs decontamination, lawns need to be mowed, and the second guest room is screaming for a lick of paint. Don’t even mention the garage.

Saw a local community theatre production of “Calendar Girls” last weekend, attended the Wynnum Fringe two nights in a row to enjoy some non mainstream theatrical productions, won the raffle at a charity event, and planted thirty seedlings.

Watched a bizarre little movie which I picked up at the local U3A Trash N Treasure Sale. Highly recommended to seek these sales out because they are all downsizers offloading quality goods. This little gem was the 2007 film “Across The Universe” described as “jukebox musical romantic drama” incorporating 34 compositions written by the Beatles. Baffling in that I have never been a Beatles fan, not having been exposed to their music during the formative years. The wooden HMV radiogram in the old family homestead encouraged Gilbert and Sullivan or Mario Lanza LPs. Boy, did it shake like it suffered from Parkinsons when I put my T REX on the turntable.

Even with my limited Beatles knowledge I picked up on the references to Janis Joplin and Jimmi Hendrix and being set during the Vietnam War was interesting. It is an enjoyable little flick and having read the trivia notes on IMDB I’m keen to watch it again – and soon. Still shaking my head at some of the drug references connected to the Magical Mystery Tour…..

Strawberry Fields


Then this Little Library, in Houston, Texas, came up on social media. Bizarre, I’m telling you.


This week I read Louis de Bernieres’ novella, “Red Dog“, which was transposed into the popular Australian movie of the same name, and just finished Jane Harper’s “Exiles“.

Harper’s first book about AFP Aaron Faulk was also transposed into a popular movie, “The Dry” starring Australian Eric Bana. Book 3 with Faulk yet again investigating a crime in a regional setting and I could hear Bana’s voice as the story unfolded. This is the last Faulk book and the author has given him a “happy ending”. I didn’t find that part of the story quite so believable but then I had all the romance knocked out of me years ago.

As always Harper has made the landscape a character in itself and although I now want to visit a country town boasting vineyards I may not be prepared to leave the motel room alone for some time.

The pumpkin vines were becoming far too wayward. They had to go.

The house keeping? I was told a long time ago by a wise old woman that no-one has ever had engraved on their tombstone ” She Kept A Clean House”. I’m holding on to that thought.

Book Spines & Coffee Table Books

I don’t know whether it’s a result of my parenting skills (or  lack thereof ) but I was recently concerned by the discovery that my eldest daughter colour codes the books on her bookshelves. Even the Little Person’s books are arranged according to the colour of their spine.

I’ve read about this trend in Interior Design magazines of course though I didn’t think it was something that normal people did. Normal as in the majority of us who don’t live in a home with a 6 car garage and with a dedicated wine fridge that chills 1000 bottles simultaneously.

I guess it is another version of stacking glossy unopened coffee table books in pyramids or arranging their spines according to height. That is, books being used as a design object. Strangely my coffee tables have always been used for – da da – coffee cups. Never had a book out purely for display purposes in my life. Don’t even remember ever owning a coffee table book.

Have you? Don’t be embarrassed  – please share. Dr Brizzy is researching these phenomenas.

In other news my struggles to cook desserts in any shape or form are real. Two batches of chocolate brownies went into the compost bin yesterday. What coloured spine does the recipe book have?

2022 Gaia Reading Challenge Summation

I’ve just finished reading my last entry for the 2022 Gaia Reading Challenge, which Gum Trees And Galaxies devised in “an attempt to encourage connection with the natural world……..The Gaia challenge has been about connecting and caring.”

This was my first year participating in the Gaia and although I did not successfully complete the Book Bingo I am pleased that the Challenge encouraged me to read ten books from a genre I would not normally select. That to me is success.

As I stated last year I’m a big believer in trying to effect small environmental changes within my own community. Some of the things I have achieved during 2022 include sharing vegetable seedlings with the neighbourhood via the Little Community Library, putting drinking water out for wildlife, planting two native trees on the verge, planting two native trees in the koala corridor to replace two non natives, propagating herbs and vegetables, and sharing seedlings with friends and family.

I’ve also seen red with the number of citrus fruit left to rot in neighbourhood gardens so after some experimentation can now whip up marmalade which sees glass jars recycled and zesty fruity deliciousness shared amongst friends. My garage looks like a small processing factory! The citrus skins are not wasted as I am marinating them in vinegar to create a non toxic house cleaner (not to be used on varnished surfaces).

Best of all when we were travelling around Tasmania a few months back we caught up with a lovely lass for a vino in a harbour side hotel who brought along a Gaia book recommendation. Conversation in a pub about the environment – who knew it was even possible! ( Book ordered from Library, Janet. Thank you❤️).

So I’ve just read The Root Of All Disease by Elmer G Heinrich which is about mineral depletion and how it affects the nutritional value of our food intake. Tests  show that over a fifty year period the minerals in our vegetables have reduced dramatically, which is bad news for our health as minerals are vital for a multitude of bio chemical processes, including enzymatic and chemical processes which occur in the human body at all times.

 

If you thought the supermarket tomato you ate today tasted different from the ones eaten straight from the garden in your childhood you would be correct:  these days it takes more than ten tomatoes to get the same mineral content out of one tomato fifty years ago. There was a lot of science in this one which means I didn’t get as much out of it that I could have, though the gist was scary enough.

This is put down to continuous cropping and erosion as well the addition of chemicals and fertilisers. I was disappointed that the book did not provide a list in layman’s terms how to rectify the damage -other than consuming mineral supplements – but you know what? Once again, the topic has created conversation around the dinner table. That has to be a good thing, doesn’t it?

I have two guest bedrooms undergoing major redecorating with visitors due in a fortnight so that’s all for me in this Challenge. See you in 2023 and Thank You, GT&G.

Change of Seasons

Spring slipped right by us and this week we ran screaming into Summer. Ceiling fans and salads are the order of the day once again. Sadly, this means that some of the projects I planned aren’t going to happen because of the heat.

The pumpkins are loving all the sunshine and have taken over my minuscule lawn. While they are producing I don’t mind but as soon as they stop they will be culled. Too good a place for snakes to hide. Project 1 successfully completed: blade of snake decapitator sharpened.

Project 2 : completed my James Bond jigsaw puzzle. Purchased in Tasmania during my August travels it has been calming when the news on the tv proved overly distressing (which is most of the time).

A DIY Lazy Susan project for Pocahontas for Christmas. The base is a coffee table top I purchased for $10 from the hardware store with $6 spent on the turn table. Bargain! The condiments I purchase to go with it will undoubtably be costly.

Project 4 is a work-in- progress. A gift for the Little Person. Just turned two he refuses to go by the name of Harrison. “No MeeMaw, it’s just Harry”.

I love art. Used to buy a piece every Wedding Anniversary – which I duly lost in the divorce. Have absolutely zilch artistic ability but I love colour. It makes me feel good and it hugs the spirit. Treated myself to a couple of hours painting ceramics during the week. Lots of colour added to a serving platter. My last one chipped after five glasses of champagne. Lets be clear : the platter didn’t consume the plonk, I did. Currently being fired. Touch wood for a successful conclusion to Project 5.

Project 6 required propagating plants for seeds. I now have 20 chilli seedlings and four mandavillas.

Project 7 : Epic Fail. First Guest Bedroom is stripped and sugar soaped. I lack the energy in this heat to continue

Project 8 : Christmas Shopping done and dusted. I live by the mantra ” No shopping centres come November”.

Two carloads from the garage have been taken to the Tip. Did not bring back any Frangipani cuttings for potting. Yay!

Project 10: Clear up a myth.
When the girls recently suggested going to the flicks to see Ticket To Paradise apparently one was supposed to get all giggles over the prospect of George Clooney. Ridiculous I know – I have Errol Flynn on movie posters all around my house ( which in hindsight may have contributed to the divorce). Anyway, George Clooney…………my father would call him “soapy”. I would say as boring as bat shite. Clooney and Julia Roberts are supposed to be in Bali stopping their daughter’s wedding. It’s a Furphy; filmed in Queensland. Ex-Clu-Sive Qld where rumour has it ol’ George’s twins were not accepted into certain venues.

Yep, Queensland; Winter one day and Summer the next.

Alfresco dining is very summer but you have to fight the midgies……….

Some Aussie Stories…..

2022 has been my year of Tim Winton novels : Dirt Music, Cloudstreet, Breath, and The Shepherd’s Hut. An Australian writer Winton was named a Living Treasure by the National Trust of Australia, and has won the Miles Franklin Award four times.  

Two and half weeks in and I’m abandoning the latter novel. I’m done. Sorry Tim, it’s me, not you. Too much ugliness in the real world I don’t need anymore of it in my own little bubble. Shepherd’s Hut is almost too painful to read.

I’ve also put Carpentaria, another Miles Franklin winner by Alexis Wright, to the wayside. I will come back to it when the days are meant for languishing under a ceiling fan but for now I’m battling to work out if the author is being sarcastic, passive aggressive, or if I just lack sophistication required when it comes to award winning books. Guessing the latter.

Talking of stories I did attend a presentation of short films at our local Performing Arts Centre last week. “A Celebration Of Stories from Minjerribah”, as North Stradbroke Island is known by our First Nations People, these shorts captured cultural stories from Elders and community members about the stolen generation, an old mission, passing on traditions, and the last Aboriginal fishing crew on the Island and how fishing on the open beach connects them to their ancestry.

A few tears, a few laughs, and Straddie never fails as a beautiful back drop. 

Big Things.

The Big Banana in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, was Australia’s first “Big Thing”. Built in 1964 it still stands proudly on the highway in front of what was once a large banana plantation and which now doubles as a tourist attraction promoting oddly enough, bananas.

Australia has over 230 “Big Things” all across the country. They are generally on major roads, kitsch, and butt ugly. We have a Big Prawn, Big Lawnmower, Big Orange and Big Rocking Chair. Personally, I don’t get the attraction though many holidaymakers arrange their journeys around these tourist traps. 

A selection of our BIG THINGS. Hideous, aren’t they?

The first time I saw the Big Banana wasn’t until the early 1990’s with my own children.  Knowing we were in for a long car trip and attempting to stop a war from breaking out  in the back seat I kept both daughters bouyed with the wonder of the Big Banana. Can I tell you how appalled I was to arrive in sleepy little Coffs only to find the cover (or skin) of the banana away at the dry cleaners. Try explaining that to Little People.

I was reminded of this following my recent travels to Far North Queensland where everything seemed to be Big. The Big Cane Toad in Sarina, The Big Snake in Ayr, The Big Mango which looked like it had been hit by a truck in some little town along the way, and my favourite, The Big Opened Sardine Can at Home Hill. No explanation for that one, sorry.

I wasn’t even aware of these Big Things until I was an adult. As a child the only large object I had witnessed was The Big Potato at Robertson on the way down the South Coast and you would never have guessed that the huge brown lump sitting in a paddock was a spud.

So why?

According to one source, “Big Things have become something of a cult phenomenon and are sometimes used as an excuse for a road trip where many or all big things are visited and used as a backdrop to a group photograph. Many of the big things are considered works of folk art and have been heritage-listed, though others have come under threat of demolition.” Sayonara Captain Cook in Cairns.

I’m not a fan of Big Things though I think this is in part because I was traumatised as a teenager after having spotted an army truck full of young soldiers urinating on The Big Golden Guitar at Tamworth, Australia’s country music capital.

Not so traumatised that I wasn’t excited showing 18 month old Harry The Big Crab in Cardwell.

Does your part of the world suffer from Big Things too? Do you have a favourite?

Brothers N Books

Back in 2020 Captain Dylan Conway from the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR) spent 14 months virtually bedridden following surgery.

“As a means of keeping his mind occupied, Captain Conway read more than 100 books on self-development, from recounts of combat operations and philosophy to stories of perseverance in times of extreme hardship.”

This was the beginning of Conway’s initiative, Brothers N Books, which was initially aimed via Instagram at other Defence personnel, first responders and anyone else facing challenges.

As Brothers N Books gained momentum Conway started receiving donations of books for people in need. This has since grown to the charitable organisation setting up 15 free community libraries filled with uplifting books across Australia – and growing – with funds raised from the sale of merchandise.

Conway states that “The same way that diet, working out and socialising assist in living a happy, healthy life, reading books can also contribute to your overall wellness and health.”

According to the Brothers N Books website ( go here: https://brothersnbooks.com/)

their Mission is to :

  • Make reading cool
  • Create community libraries across Australia
  • Promote reading as a means of therapy, personal growth and success
  • Recommend books that change lives in the hopes of changing someone else’s

Conway has since returned to work and has most recently been involved with the ADF’s Flood Assist Operation in northern New South Wales.

Captain Conway, you are a gem, Sir !

Prawn Porn

I should be madly cleaning the house in anticipation of my youngest daughters arrival from Canberra. She’s the Clean Freak, the one who threatened to put me into an aged care facility if I didn’t lift my dusting game. One year she spent Christmas cleaning the grout on my bathroom floor, another was spent vacuuming dog hair out of her sister’s car.

Her cleaning phobia is/was an anxiety issue which seems to have eased now that she has her own home to maintain. In full time employment Cat Balou often bleats over the telephone, “Mo, how do you find the time to wash windows?”

I don’t, but that is no response for a Clean Freak. “Sweetheart, it’s all about priorities”, covers a plethora of circumstances, I have found.

The root cause behind her phobia can be dated back to the breakdown of her parent’s marriage. Fun Time Daddy moved into a sparkling new house with shiny accoutrements including a female play thing whilst Mummy, the Boring Responsible Parent, was ensconced in a sixty year old hardiplank surrounded by thirty year old furniture which had seen kids and pets through too many childhood illnesses to mention. And lets not forget the twenty two carpet snakes living in the roof space………

Several hours have been spent in meal prep however. Canberra is land locked and we are a family with a heritage steeped in seafood so it seemed appropriate to whip up some fruits of the sea. Do you know just how long it takes to remove the poo shute out of three kilos of prawns?

So, the bread is freshly baked, the mango and avocado salad is chilling, and the Tiger Prawns are in the fridge marinating in garlic. You can’t get more Queensland than that. Because said daughter is vegetarian for health reasons I’ve also made individual vegetable bakes. Yes, still playing the Boring Responsible Parent.

Sweets? We don’t do sweets in this family. We’re more cheese platter people.

The bubbles is chilling as is the chardonnay. Sadly, I have found another down side to ageing which means I also have to include a jug of cold water on the dinner table these days. My dear old Dad would be rolling in his grave in disgust.

So no books, no travel, no movies this week. Just some Prawn Porn.

And be careful where you walk, Cat Balou. Those pot plants are bunched in a group in front of the bookshelves for a reason. There are some things no daughter who does not like disorganisation has a business knowing about.

Salute🥂

PS. Another feel good this week:

Saw Keith Urban interviewed . When asked the thing he was most grateful for he stated his ” willingness to pursue curiosity“. Oh, Keith, bliss….

Books Across September

Because of my recent travels and oranges falling in price to $1.60 for a 3 Kilo bag I’ve been occupied by tourism pamphlets and marmalade recipes. My attempt at the latter is another Epic Fail though the peel is currently brewing to create an organic house cleaning product. Fingers crossed that effort is more successful. I’m also relying on Dr Google to navigate me through a couple of craft projects which is totally bizarre as I don’t craft. I’ll share if my Lazy Susan’s and table placemats make acceptable Christmas gifts….

(Pop Quiz 1: Is all this cooking and crafting a sign that I’m sliding into old age?)

September 7th marked Indigenous Literacy Day, at which time the Indigenous Literacy Foundation promotes literacy to improve the lives and possibilities of Indigenous Australians.

So I’ve also read two books from The Books That Made Us Challenge ( as in made us as a country) that featured on the ABC last year. Both deal with the white occupation of Australia and are cruel but fascinating reads.

Benevolence by Julie Jansen follows the life of young aboriginal girl, Mary, who was gifted to the white community by her father in exchange for a bag of flour. The Secret River by Kate Grenville is the story of an Englishman who came to Australia as a convict in the country’s early days but works his way up to being a wealthy land owner which just happens to necessitate the decimation of the local Aboriginal communities.

I’ve started on the third indigenous themed book in the Challenge – Carpentaria by Alexis Wright – but I’m a bit done in by history and tragedy at the moment.

So just for fun I’m working my way through The Island Of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak
which is narrated by a fig tree. Yep, a fig tree. Thought some whimsy would do me well after all the bleak history but the mind is too occupied by craft glue and varnish.

The Little Library is going gangbusters and the assistance from other community members is making the whole caretaking process less onerous. I’m working on creating Book Marks for Christmas for the kiddies to colour and have just added this Book Bingo to create more engagement. I’m not fond of cricket. Can you tell?

(Pop Quiz 2 : Is this ease in handing over the reigns yet another indication of my slow slide into decline?)

The Zoom Book Club fell into a heap after Life returned to the New Normal after Covid, but we are getting back on track next week. I’ll make a cheese platter in preparation.

(Pop Quiz 3: A glass of red or a glass of white? Or two?)

At the other Book Club readers were asked to bring in the oldest book on their bookshelves. Talk about fascinating : all kinds of books made their presence, including guides to shorthand, Mickey Mouse annuals, and one lass ( in white gloves doing her Michael Jackson impersonation) brought in her book published in 1703. A great little exercise. Highly recommended.

A Bookfest this weekend, a tea towell exhibition, and a couple of new projects on the go. Don’t worry; it’s not ageing. Just doing the Gemini thing and ready for change…

Happy Weekend folks.