RIP Sweet little Pippin 😥

Baby Pippin

Sweet mini-goat Pippin passed away last night – we got the vet out but he had a blockage in one of his stomachs and it was too late.

He will be missed by his human family and his herd (Raspberry, Benny, Billy, Merlin and Spirit) – especially Raspberry who was particularly close to little Pippin – we bought them together and bottle fed both of them 😪

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Pippin

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Pippin and Merlin

Beasties

An Empty Dubrovnik

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A re-post from quite some time ago – my mother and brother 💞 have both passed away since the writing of this true story.

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It is the Easter long weekend and my thoughts are drifting to things religious. My Mum is a crazy catholic, there is no doubt about it.  She is more traditional than the Pope and right up there with Mother Theresa when it comes to devotion and dedication to God. Her rosary beads, scapula and gold crucifix on a chain never leave her person. She worries constantly about her four children who have strayed somewhat from the faith. But that’s another story.

Today I am going down memory lane to a time when I accompanied my mother to the middle of a war zone in the name of God. It was May 1995 and I was single, in my twenties and pretty much a zombie depressive with violent tendencies. My Mum decides that she must go to Bosnia-Herzegovina on a pilgrimage to the town of Međugorje. Problem was the Bosnian war was raging and hundreds of thousands of people had been killed in the conflict.

Why would anyone want to go to Bosnia during the war? Mum explains that Međugorje is a Marion site, a place of miracles similar to the holy site of Lourdes where Our Lady appeared to small children. A place where water from springs has miraculous qualities and can heal all manner of ills. Yeah right I thought, blah, blah, blah.

She must travel to this small village in Bosnia-Herzegovina to receive blessings from Our Lady who appears daily to young visionaries. “Yeah, but why do you have to go this year while the war is full on? ” I asked horrified.

She responds with “Nothing will happen to me or the people of Međugorje as God is protecting the town”.

Yep, I told you she was crazy.

Well, I just had to go with Mum to make sure she didn’t get blown up, and if she did I wanted to get blown up with her. After a very long journey, including two plane flights and a 3 hour bus trip on winding mountainous roads, we arrived at Međugorje, a small nondescript town on flat farming country surrounded by rocky snow covered mountains. The largest building in the town was a cathedral. The only sign of the conflict was the presence of NATO soldiers in the cafes, large rifles at their sides, and the odd tank roaming around town.

The pilgrimage was only for one week but that was long enough. Mum said the rosary about 5 times a day and went to mass twice a day. There was an obligatory trek up neighboring Mt Crucifix to worship at the foot of a giant white cement cross. I had to literally push Mum up the narrow paths to get there and I still don’t know how she did it. I must admit the views from the top of the mountain were to die for, if you’d pardon the pun. The people were all lovely and I did get caught up in the peace and energy of the place.

However, the war was never far from anyone’s thoughts. At every mass the priests would report on the casualties from the war. One day 3 priests were killed in a nearby village and a town in central Bosnia was destroyed with a reported 5,000 dead.

On our second last day a group of pilgrims, including Mum and I, traveled over the border by bus to nearby Croatia to visit one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Dubrovnik.

The day trip was an eye-opener. We passed through village after village decimated by the war. Lovely old buildings and churches blown to pieces by bombs. There was a bridge that had been totally destroyed. There was a forest near Dubrovnik where nearly every tree had been decapitated by gunfire. We saw a number of tanks travelling the same roads as our bus.

We arrived at Dubrovnik and I immediately fell in love with this ancient walled city with narrow cobbled streets on the crystal waters of the Adriatic Sea. Dubrovnik is one of the world’s great tourist destinations but it was completely empty of tourists, apart from the crazy busload of Catholics. I felt my heart wrench for the locals whose main source of income was money from tourists.

Mum and I walked through the winding streets looking into exquisite gift shops and stopping at a restaurant for a seafood lunch. I was surprised that these places were open but the locals were desperate for trade. Dubrovnik had been this way for some time. One good thing was that the great wall surrounding the city had protected the inhabitants from bombs and sniper fire.

Two days later we returned safely to Brisbane, Australia, much to the relief of Dad. We missed a connecting flight at Bangkok because of a search by customs for drug smugglers and arrived a few hours late. Dad was in a bit of a state, convinced that something had happened to us in Bosnia.

The war in Bosnia ended a few months later.

Mum has been back to Međugorje a couple of times since than and would like to go again but is quite elderly and frail. She also feels, as mothers do, that she has to look after her son, my brother, who has acquired brain-injury, and can’t leave him for any length of time. The irony is that I think the main reason she goes to this little town of miracles is to pray for a miracle for him.

Happy and safe Easter everyone.

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Crook Family goes to Market


The Crook family pilgrimage to the Brisbane’s produce markets at Rocklea was a highlight for all four children. Raising this number of kids with one breadwinner must have been a budgeting nightmare. We snacked mainly on fruit. There were no fast food outlets or packaged treats for us in those days. We got pretty excited if a Weston’s chocolate wheaten biscuit found it’s way into the lunchbox.

Dad would yell out ‘we’re going to the markets, everyone in the car’ and there would be a mad scramble to be first in the rusty old Valiant station wagon. Lisa, the eldest and toughest, would grab her usual window seat behind Mum’s head. She was responsible for making sure that Daniel and Peter didn’t kill each other. Peter, second eldest, was also honoured with a window seat.

Daniel, of slightly hyperactive nature, was positioned safely in the centre of the bench seat. As the youngest, and seemingly of least consequence, I was relegated to the back of the wagon. I distinctly remember the smell of petrol fumes when travelling in the Valiant. A smell that would leave me feeling slightly nauseous during each trip. This exposure to lead poisoning may explain my chronic short-term memory problems and great capacity for getting lost.

Leaded petrol was the only option available at petrol stations.

Mum, a short petite woman, ruled the roost with an iron fist, barking out orders to the tribe. Dad towered over mum, 6 foot 3 inches tall, yet always knew his place as second-in-command. Mum would be the last to get in the car, fussing around like a chook with her head chopped off.

We lived at Indooroopilly, so Dad drove over the Walter Taylor bridge on the way to the suburb of Rocklea. Fascinated, we’d stretch our necks to peer at the mass of brown, strong water, which is the Brisbane river. Our journey would continue through the pretty suburbs of Chelmer and Graceville. Streets lined with lovely, shady Camphor Laurel trees.

Then passing through what seemed like the countryside we arrived at the Rocklea produce market. The place was chockers full of trucks, vans, dust and busy workers distributing box after box of fruit and vegetables from the loading bays. We loved the hectic atmosphere and the delightful, pungent smells.

Mum would dart back and forth, on the lookout for bargain boxes of oranges and crisp red apples. The sturdy looking vendors, wearing overalls and boots, would look slightly bemused as mum prattled away to them.

Occasionally, depending on the season, we would also buy mandarins, sweet peaches, apricots, plums, grapes, bananas or watermelon. Number one on my list of fruits was the mouth-watering Bowen mango, with its plump, yellow body and deliciously juicy, sweet-smelling flesh. Mangoes and other stone fruits could only be found in summer.

Dad would load the boxes of fruit into the back of the wagon. I would squeeze in next to the load. This didn’t bother me as it gave me something to hang onto as we drove home. Compulsory seat-belts hadn’t yet been invented. The smell of fresh, ripe fruit also camouflaged the smell of petrol fumes.

My brothers would be a bit overexcited by this stage and the pinching, punching and yelling would begin. My spot in the back of the Valiant was turning into prime position.

First thing mum would do when we got home was to put the kettle on the stove. After a nice cup of tea she would lie on the couch and put her feet up. The boxes of fruit would clutter up the house for days but the smells and tastes were divine.

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Gabrielle Bryden (nee Crook or now that I am older – Crook Knee) 😉

note: a repost because it is summer and nearly Christmas and the cricket is on tv and the stone fruit is plentiful 😍

The End is Nigh

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No, it’s not the end of the world as we know it (though I am finding it hard to recognise anymore, what with all the crazy leaders around).

It’s the end of the ducky apocalypse.

Not that long ago we had an accidental flock of Muscovy ducks rampaging around the property.

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Now there are but two ☹

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What happened?

Somewhere out there is a very fat fox 😒

🎇Happy New Year 2017🎆

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2016 was one of those mixed years of highs and lows! 😁😭

I began my PhD in psychology and finished my first study which was published in a peer reviewed journal. I have almost finished my second study. Two years to go, if all goes well #yikes

I did two short online statistics courses to help me analyse my data #ouch

Andy the Great had a heart attack which nearly killed him early in the year, but survived and as is now a non-smoker, a healthy eater, a cardio walker and a gym junkie. In fact, I have a brand new husband – better than ever – so the heart attack turned into a blessing. He has inspired us all with his cardiac rehabilitation, and is the star of his heart support group – they even recently got him to do a pep talk to the whole group 😎

There were untimely deaths for several people I knew. A suicide from a young relative with mental health issues; a car accident resulting in the death of a lovely girl I went to school with 😦 #tragic

There were illnesses for grandparents on both sides.

There was overseas travel for myself and my son – an ancient history study tour of Greece and Italy – much knowledge was acquired, much fun was had, and a great quantity of food was eaten 🙂🍕

A school year came and went quite successfully for all involved.

The duck apocalypse came under control – now we only have 9 girl Muscovy ducks (down from over 30).

The cows, goats, and alpacas are healthy and content.

Molly and Sheba, the labradoodle dandy dogs, are as spoiled as ever.

David Bowie died 😭

I could go on …

I’m happy it’s 2017 😀

Big hugs to you all in the blogosphere 😍

Bob Dylan – The Gabe Files

In honour of Bob being recently awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, I am reposting this blog post, written in 2009 😍

Did you know that Bob Dylan's last name was Zimmerman?
Did you know that Bob Dylan’s last name was Zimmerman?

I sometimes say that I am the opposite of autistic. I would describe myself as empathetic, intuitive, good communicator, sociable, flexible, and completely lacking in spatial awareness (I get lost all the time). But there is one characteristic I share with my ASD son – obsessions or special interests. My current obsession is Bob Dylan and I have been obsessed with the world’s greatest singer-songwriter for the past couple of years.

Don’t get me wrong. I have always liked the man, but I was not previously obsessed with him. In fact, I recall borrowing a tape (yes, you heard me right – a tape) of Bob Dylan songs from the local library when I was in my early teens. I shared a room with my older sister and let me tell you, she was none to impressed with me playing that tape. She is a bit sensitive to sound and there was something in the quality of his nasal breathing that disturbed her greatly. I can’t for the life of me understand the problem.

Anyway, my obsession began after inadvertently watching on TV the Martin Scorsese directed  ‘No Direction Home: Bob Dylan.” If you haven’t seen it – JUST DO IT! It is brilliant and has some of the best interviews with the man himself, that I’ve seen. As you will be aware he doesn’t like being interviewed. Maybe he really likes Martin Scorsese.

After watching the best documentary ever, I began collecting every Bob Dylan album ever made. Then I began to play every Bob Dylan album ever made; and I didn’t stop for a year. I had my 6 stacker CD player in the car full of Bob Dylan albums. I had, and still do have, Bob Dylan albums piled up and spilling all over the place in the living room. I drove my little 6 year old daughter crazy. Our son, on the other hand, just loves Bob Dylan (isn’t he a champion and great taste in music) and never complained. After a year of endlessly playing Bob Dylan albums, and reading biographies and anything else I could get my hands on, I started to calm down a bit. I regained composure and now play Bob intermittently, as is the way of a well-balanced person.

A collective sigh of relief was heard emanating from the Bryden clan (minus our son, bless his heart).

Earlier this year, however, on a long trip home from Brisbane to Woodgate after visiting my mother, I had the urge to put on ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’. I had put off playing Bob Dylan because I didn’t want to annoy the sound-sensitive little girl. All was quiet in the back seat and I thought our daughter might even be asleep; beaudy, at last I can play Bob Dylan. I started playing the album and after a couple of songs a little girl’s voice chirped from the rear “Mummy, I’ve got an earache.”

“Oh no, that’s no good. How long have you had it darling?” I asked in a concerned voice.

“Since you put Bob Dylan on!”

There’s no accounting for tastes, is there!

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Young Writers Award

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Message from the State Library of Queensland 😀

Know a young writer with a story to tell?

They could win up to $2,000 with SLQ’s Young Writers Award!

State Library of Queensland’s annual Young Writers Award competition is now open for entries from Queensland writers in two age categories:

18–25 years

  • Short stories up to 2,500 words
  • WIN $2,000 and Queensland Writers Centre Youth membership.

15–17 years

  • Short stories up to 1,500 words
  • WIN an Apple iPad Air 2, $100 iTunes voucher, Library Shop book pack, and Queensland Writers Centre Youth Membership.

Entries close Friday 30 September, 5pm.

Visit our website for entry details and more information, or download a printable poster for display in your school or office.

Help us spread the word with your students, children, friends and networks »

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