Archive for July, 2012

Good Monday morning to you all :)

It’s a new week, and what I usually do on Monday morning, is reflect on last week. Was there anything I didn’t do that I wanted to? Was there anything I did do that I didn’t want to? And did I learn anything?

Today I’m going to share something I learned.

Never underestimate what you can accomplish when you believe in yourself. (unknown)

Let’s take the first part: Never underestimate. To underestimate something, you make it out to be smaller or less important than it actually is. It can also mean that you regard someone as less capable than they really are.

Add the next bit: Never underestimate what you can accomplish. Now ask yourself what you have accomplished in the last week, month, year, 5 years, 10 years. Staggering isn’t it?  That’s progress.

Now add the next part: Never underestimate what you can accomplish when you believe. To believe is to accept as true. To feel sure of the truth. To have faith.

Now read it all together: Never underestimate what you can accomplish when you believe in yourself.  Yourself… say it out loud… ‘me’, yep meeeee!

This was a big lesson for me last week. And the only way I got through the week was to break the quote down and focus on what it actually means.

So what did I learn? That I am capable, I have accomplished much, I have faith, I have qualities and abilities that make me ‘me’. I believe in me.

Do you know what I did on Friday? I was the guest speaker at a Rotary breakfast. Where most of the gentlemen wore suits and the ladies wore fine dresses and coats :)

So start your week with this quote in mind, and see what you accomplish.


P.S. Special thanks to my faithful friends who prayed for and encouraged me last week.

(c) DJ Stutley 2012

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 Meet the two characters of today’s family story. Monsieur Charles de Cat, and Australian Shepherd, Paige.

Last summer was long, hot and dry. Well in my opinion it was. I’m not a fan of summer, so every summer is long, hot and dry. To conserve water, I had the wash water drain into my laundry sink and I would carry buckets of water through the house to my thirsty plants. I’d been doing it for months, so why things went so wrong this particular day, I just don’t know.

There I was, carrying two buckets brimming with water and Paige was trotting along in front of me like she always did. We were on our last trip for the day, up the passage, into the family room… and Paige suddenly stopped. I felt a bit like a fully loaded Mac truck, bearing down on a little Mini Cooper. I braced for the collision, lifting the heavy buckets in the vein hope of avoiding a spill. I almost pulled it off…! The bucket in my right hand just clipped her back-end. Two things happened simultaneously. Water sloshed out of the bucket all over the tiled floor, and I yelled, ‘Paaaaaige!’

She panicked, spun around to get away, lost traction and went down on her side in the pool of water. In her haste to get up, she came up under my second bucket, sloshing more water out. I yelled again, and she took off to go hide in the study. The cat had been curled up asleep on a chair at the dinning table, now he was spooked. He shot off the chair,  came flying around the corner, straight into the pool of water and completely lost it. Here’s this big ginger cat, sliding across the floor on his side, through the puddle, legs and tail spinning wildly, and slams into me, still standing there with my two buckets. He finally gets traction and disappears from sight. I’m left standing in the middle of the puddle laughing so hard I could hardly hold the buckets. Ah, pets… such a source of entertainment.


(c) DJ Stutley 2012

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Those Pesky Little Desk Gremlins

Recently I took up a writing challenge. We set ourselves some goals and for the next ten weeks, steadily worked through them with the supportive guidance of Marg McAlister.

One of my goals was to clean up my office desk and keep it clean for the whole ten weeks. I can do that, I thought. How hard can it be? A place for everything and everything in its place…

After the first week we were encouraged to update our progress, and I wrote: The desk – my number 1 goal… it got to 90% clear, and then I don’t know what happened. It’s like I have to start over. How does that happen???

Marg: Doris, Doris, Doris. Your desk got to 90% clear and then “you don’t know what happened”???? EVERYBODY knows that the Desk Gremlins visit the minute you turn your back and shovel all the crap right back again. We are powerless against them.

Me: And any tips on how to catch Desk Gremlins?

Marg: Desk Gremlins are will’o’the wisps. They can’t be caught. They just watch from afar and cackle with mindless glee as we stare at the mess.

Today, as a look with amazement around my office, I can see that the Gremlins have indeed had a field day in there! But their days are numbered. I am determined to get in there and clean up their mess, catch the little blighters, bag them up and send them to Marg in a surprise package! Oh, I can just see her face…

Does anyone else have Desk Gremlins?


Oh, and my picture book cover is on my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/authordjstutley please go and have a look :)

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I found this on Godvine last week. ‘Maybe’ it will set the mood for you this week. Happy Monday.


Here are some beautiful thoughts on life. “Maybe” they will help you in certain areas of your life :)

Maybe God wanted us to meet the wrong people before meeting the right one so that when we finally meet the right person, we will know how to be grateful for that gift.

Maybe when the door of happiness closes, another opens, but often times we look so long at the closed door that we don’t see the one which has been opened for us.

Maybe the best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch and swing with, never say a word, and then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you’ve ever had.

Maybe it is true that we don’t know what we have got until we lose it, but it is also true that we don’t know what we have been missing until it arrives.

Giving someone all your love is never an assurance that they will love you back. Don’t expect love in return; just wait for it to grow in their heart; but if it does not, be content it grew in yours.

It takes only a minute to get a crush on someone, an hour to like someone, and a day to love someone, but it takes a lifetime to forget someone.

Don’t go for looks; they can deceive. Don’t go for wealth; even that fades away. Go for someone who makes you smile because it takes only a smile to make a dark day seem bright. Find the one that makes your heart smile.

There are moments in life when you miss someone so much that you just want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real.

Dream what you want to dream; go where you want to go; be what you want to be, because you have only one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do.

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough hope to make you happy.

Always put yourself in others’ shoes. If you feel that it hurts you, it probably hurts the other person, too.

The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.

Happiness lies for those who cry, those who hurt, those who have searched, and those who have tried, for only they can appreciate the importance of people who have touched their lives.

Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss and ends with a tear.

The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past, you can’t go on well in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so that when you die, you are the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

Copied from Godvine.

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This post is by my new ‘family’ friend, Lloyd Tackitt. Enjoy…

Around the Bend

I blame my Wife, Susan went to town and left me without adult supervision. She knows better than that.

After she had gone I was sitting on the river bank, minding my own business, practicing a new tune on my banjo and sipping sour mash as the sun set (yes alcohol was involved, but only to a minor extent…really!). Just before full darkness had settled in I spotted what may have been a white egret wading out there in the river. It was just a faint white smudge and it got me curious so I went into the house and got my (just delivered by UPS the day before and and first time charged up) twelve million candle power, eight pound, rechargeable death ray flashlight with pistol grip and carrying handle and twin neon walkabout lamps – this baby concentrates twelve million candle powers into a virtual beam of death that can burn trees down. Of course the white smudge was nowhere to be seen when I got back outside.

It was full dark now and I thought that since I was there and already armed with my death ray I would use it to look for fish moving around in the shallower water, as they will sometimes do after dark. I spotted three carp that looked about ten pounds each. When the light was directly on them they would stop moving around and just swim in place. Kind of cool. But there was also a massive insect hatch going on with gazillions of flying insect things all over the water and they would come to the bright light and get so thick around it and me that they made an impenetrable cloud; in fact they would get so bad that I couldn’t see or breathe and a couple of times I had to shut the light off and walk along the bank a little ways, and then wait a bit before turning the light back on.

During one of those pauses in the darkness the thought of water moccasins occurred to me – you know warm nights, a really dark night, warm water, thick weeds, a really dark night, rivers edge…but I had the portable death ray so I didn’t worry. I figured that I would just blind them to death if any of them got after me.

The next time I lit up the death ray I noticed a dip net laying in the old flat bottom boat. Ohhhh Yeahhhhh!!; inspiration hit me with a jolt. I grabbed the net and waded out into the river like I had good sense, net in one hand and new eight pound death ray in the other, and started stalking one of the carp. This particular carp was pretty clever as it turned out; just as I would get close enough to think I had a chance at netting it, it would move a bit further off, just a little out of reach. This happened several times until I started thinking that it might be deliberately leading me up around the bend for some nefarious reason. By now the insects had again become a thick swirling cloud around my light and my head and they were seriously interfering with my vision and my breathing. I was about to give up and head back home but just then…

I spotted an alligator gar; he looked to be about three foot long. So I started stalking him instead of leaving. Gar aren’t quite as clever as carp because before long I sort of caught him (indicating that my intelligence level may lie somewhere between that of a carp and a gar?). I got his wickedly toothy head in my net and raised it up out of the water. Three foot long gar, eighteen inch deep net; you can do the math that had apparently eluded me up until that very moment. I got slapped hard across the face by the gar’s cold slimy wet tail, nearly lost the net, almost dropped the new death beam and did lose the gar (I have no earthly idea what I was going to do with him anyway). All of that was happening while I choked on bugs that were flying so tightly around my face that I could barely see.

Interesting fact: Did you know that twelve million candle power, eight pound, rechargeable flashlights with pistol grips and carrying handles and twin neon walkabout lamps can go SUDDENLY OUT when the new charge gets low? Neither did I. It didn’t slowly get dimmer the way normal flashlights do, giving advance warning that there is good cause to abandon ye all dark and spooky places and head for the light; oh no, just a blink and you have sudden total blackout darkness. And to prove that God really does have a sense of humor, this death beam’s instant demise coincided precisely with my being slapped in the face by the the gar. Timing like that can not be an accident, it has to be a message from a higher power. We won’t go into the possible meaning here though.

So, there I was in sudden total darkness, out in the middle of the river, up to my waist in pitch black warm water, with an angry seven foot alligator gar and his horde of dinosaur like friends somewhere nearby plotting revenge. Another fact: Twelve million candles concentrated into a death ray beam will utterly destroy your night vision, leaving you blind when it goes out. There I patiently stood, warm water swirling around me, waiting for some glimmer of vision to return so that I could find the river bank and get on back home before Susan found out where I was and what I had been doing. Explanations are so much easier to avoid than they are to make.

Then something bumped hard into the back of my leg, way down there under the water. I instinctively knew it was that angry twelve foot alligator gar with a ten foot water moccasin riding on his back as co-pilot. I did a Ray Charles out of the river and up the bank, back to the house at a rate of speed that would have gotten me an Olympic tryout in normal circumstances. I am pretty sure that I heard screaming too, but since there was no one else around I can’t explain it. Perhaps in my haste I stepped on a coyote in the dark.

After I got home it occurred to me that I am a 55 year old mature adult male, I know better than this. Obviously I need to buy a bigger net.

DJ – Thanks, Lloyd.

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During a recent writing workshop, a year 5 student asked me why I wrote crime stories. This is what I told him…

Living in a small country town, I always wanted to grow up and be a police officer or a spy. My favourite comics were detective/spy ones and I learned all I could about secret ways of messaging, writing with invisible ink etc. At one time I went through a phase were I would smooth out a patch of dirt late in the afternoon, in a strategic part of our back yard, then first thing in the morning I would hurry to my patch of dirt and see what/who had walked through it.

All around my back yard I could identify who in my family had been there by the size or tread of their footwear. I could even pick out when a neighbourhood dog or cat had wandered through.

When I hit high-school, I chose subjects that would help me in my quest to be a police officer. In my final year of high-school, my English teacher helped me achieve my dream by contacting the Police Academy and arranging for application papers to be sent to the school. The Academy said that providing I passed the entrance exam, they would make special allowance for me to come straight from high-school to be in the first intake of the new year.

There are no words to describe the excitement and anticipation as I began filling out that paperwork. I was going to fulfil my dream. But then… on the last page, it said ‘Must be an Australian Citizen or a British Subject.’ I was almost 17 years old, was a US citizen at the time, and I felt as though my life was over! The guidance counsellor was no help, asking, ‘Well, what else do you think you’d like to do?’ There was nothing else – I was BORN to be a police officer! It wasn’t fair.

I ended up taking an office job, and discovering that my life wasn’t over. It was just beginning in a new direction that I hadn’t anticipated. I never lost my desire to be a police officer, and I watched all the crime shows I could through the coming years. More than 20 years later, when I sat down to write my first novel, I wrote about what I knew. Police procedure, crime, detecting…

You could have heard a pin drop in the class as they thought about the loss of my dream. Then the same boy asked ‘It’s not too late. Can’t you still become a police officer?’ Bless him… Some dreams are to remain dreams.

Do I regret the path God chose for me? No way. I sometimes wonder what I’d look like in a Police uniform :) but I have had a life I wouldn’t trade.




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Good Monday morning to you all :)

My orange tree has only a few oranges left to pick. They’ve been simply wonderful this year. The poor little tree is only as tall as I am, yet we’ve been picking oranges for over almost two months.

On the 23rd of March this year, I picked my first Gladiola. Today I picked my last one. Not bad for a growing season of almost 4 months.

My white double-ruffled hibiscus bush has shed nearly all its leaves, and I actually wondered if it was dead.

Change… Some people embrace change, others run from it. Change can challenge us and make us feel uncomfortable for a time. Change can also excite and inspire us. If we don’t change, we become stagnant and stale. We need change in order for us to grow. Embrace change, my friend… and grow!


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Update on last week’s cauliflower story…

I forgot – we did have cauliflower again while living in Tari :)

After enjoying our cauliflower so much, we had someone from Australia either bring or send us some cauliflower seeds. Can’t remember how we ended up with a packet of cauliflower seeds, but we diligently prepared the garden and planted a row of seeds. Between the bugs and the rain, we ended up with about 6 plants that we tenderly cared for. They grew into big strong bushes, but to our great disappointment, we couldn’t see any heads. So out came the gardening book.

We discovered that cauliflowers needed a good frost to set the head. A frost…? We were living tropical, 5,000 feet up a mountain – where the temperature never got above 25 and never fell below 11 at night.

Our house helper, Byja, had been watching us in the garden, and he knew something was wrong. We tried to explain that there was no cauliflower head, but he’d never seen this food and didn’t understand. We showed him the picture in the gardening book, and using our limited language skills, managed to get through to him what the problem was. That’s when I suddenly had the bright idea of chipping ice from the huge freezer. We forgot about Bayja, and excitedly emptied the contents of the freezer all over the table, gathered tubs and buckets and started chipping.

Byja stood in the doorway, relaying our frenzied activities to some of the Huli workers, who then called out to others. By the time we came outside, there was quite a crowd gathering on the hill above our garden. As we began packing ice around the bushes, the giggles and animated discussion resounded in our ears. They thought we’d gone completely nuts!

My husband explained in broken Pidgin English why we were packing ice around our plants, and Byja translated to the spectators. This was greeted with disbelieving head shakes and much advice that Byja discreetly didn’t pass on.

Weeks later, to our delight, there were some tiny white heads forming. All six grew to about the size of large oranges. Guess who came to dinner when we picked them? See… persistence pays off. And where there’s a will, there’s a way!


(c) DJ Stutley 2012

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My unexpected blessing of a rejection letter in 2007.

When Lothian Books turned down my manuscript, Operation Tango Two-Two, I was probably more excited and relieved than when they accepted the first three manuscripts offered to them in 2001, 2002 & 2003.

You see, a lot had changed between the time of posting the 4th m/s to them, and the rejection letter. I immediately started securing unconditional copyright for all my work. Once copyright had come back to me for the first three books, and with their rejection letter of book 4 in my hot little hand, I was free to seriously look at other options.

1. I was now free to negotiate with the film producer who had come calling and was patiently waiting till I had full unconditional copyright for all my work – Negotiations are still in progress with the film producer.

2. I could seriously look at creating my own publishing company and getting the first three books back in print with new covers and adding book 4, to the series – Books 1, 2, 3, have fabulous new covers. Books 4 & 5 have been added, with book 6 due out next year.

3. I became a public person. This was not something I particularly enjoyed, but as the years have passed, I am eager to talk about writing with anyone who will listen – I have conducted 79 writing workshops/school visits in the last two years and my picture has been in the paper about a dozen times.

Do I have any regrets about that 2007 rejection letter? No… not one :)


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Good Monday Morning to you all :)

It’s time so spice up my week. It recently occurred to me that if we didn’t have Monday’s, I wouldn’t achieve anything – because nearly all my goals are set on a Monday! The first thing I do on a Monday morning, is check the calendar and see what I’ve got on for the week. Then I plan other events and activities. Somewhere in that list of ‘other’ things is always a goal of some kind. It is something that I’ve done without thinking about, but last week I realised that my goals were becoming more of a routine than a goal setting exercise. Time for a refresher course on goals…

First I have to make a list of goals: Health, House, Family, Friends, Personal, Leisure, Pleasure, Spiritual, Financial, Work (paid), Work (voluntary). In no particular order, I am going to pick one every week to focus on.

1. Identify the Goal – what would I like to change/achieve?

2. Emotion – how would I feel when I accomplish it?

3. Starting point – where am I right now?

4. Identify the block – is there something standing in my way?

5. Small steps – what is the first step, second, third…

6. Support – what support do I need – where can I get it?

7. Accountability – when will this happen? How will I prove it happened?

It’s a fairly simple approach to goal setting, but one that has worked for me. Happy  Goal Setting :)


(c) DJ Stutley

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