Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas - going, going, gone

Well that was fun. Pity it's all gone for another twelve months. The only shadows were my foster sister's absence (she was in India with her mother visiting relatives but the rest of her family was here) and the shadow left by my mother in law's passing. I'm lucky that both sides of the family get on well. We hear so many terrible tales of Christmas friction we sometimes forget that most of the time most of us get along.
Today at Virgo's urging I set up the laptop, tried to master the digital camera (I thought they were supposed to be simple but so far I have succeeded in taking three photos of my feet and two of my knees) and I'm actually making some steps towards preparing to pack. Because I travelled so much with my work for so many years I find packing less worrying than most people. This doesn't stop me living in fear that I have forgotten something vital so I have a check list that covers all eventualities which I modify according to time and place. This is printed out and ticked off as I go and the same applies when I'm returning home. Besides I'm going to Brisbane not darkest Africa. If I miss something it'll be easily obtained. Might put a strain on the credit card but...
So now I'm off to install a few of the vital programs I can't live without on the laptop.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Getting closer...

Clarion I mean although Christmas is alarmingly near as well.

I went through my stash of prezzies today and discovered to my surprise that I actually had almost every one I need. Pisces has decided he wants clothes. I'm not sure why given he has more than I do but to accommodate his wishes Virgo and I intend to take him shopping in the week following Christmas when we actually have time when we all are not working. Now all I have to do is wrap the remaining gifts.

In the meantime all I have yet to get are prezzies for the pets. You have to make up for dressing them in Santa hats and scarfs somehow. Jaz, born to pose as soon as she sees a camera, is quite cooperative to start with although her patience wears thin eventually but you have never seen anything as cute as a Cavalier King Charles spaniel in Christmas splendour. Cadillac, on the other hand, is humiliated and glares at us, the dog and the world as only a cat can.

We're into Christmas cooking mode now the countdown is under way. 'Tis not only the season of goodwill and prezzies you know. Virgo has made up the truffle mixture for me to shape and freeze tonight and tomorrow we launch into shortbread, macaroons, Mrs Raffald's Chocolate puffs, (adapted from a recipe from the 1700s), and two treasures from the American Woman's Day. Unlike its Aussie counterpart this is not a collection of made up gossip and rumour but caters for a wide variety of women's interests. Every Christmas it has a Christmas edition with suggestions for gifts, recipes, crafts and decorations. We've been making Addictive Snack Mix and Sweet and Crunchy walnuts since 1992. It just wouldn't be Christmas without them.

So now you know how I am going to spend the next few days.

Happy Christmas to all.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Penny pinching

It's hot and humid today. I suspect this is pretty much what Brisbane will be like so I hope the arthritic flare up I'm experiencing today isn't a forerunner of what life there will be like. I don't like humidity at any time but for a West Aussie girl heat is not a problem. I imagine the folk coming in from overseas or for that matter southern Australia in general won't enjoy it though.

Due to a complete lack of dresses in the shops to fit the likes of me I have been sewing. It was quite therapeutic once I drafted a couple of patterns. I have sewn a lot using commercial patterns but never drafted before and it was a long-winded and complicated task but once past that stage so far things have gone smoothly (she says touching wood). Given my current state of penury it has also helped the bank balance i.e. it actually is balancing. Of course that's ignoring the credit card bills yet to come in but I'm doing a Mr Micawber on that. After all someone has to win Lotto, don't they.

My to do list is getting shorter at last but having been out of the loop for a week due to computer and other problems I have to catch up on the flurry of email activity on the Clarion website where much has been happening. The start is getting alarmingly close and requests for information, accommodation arrangements and much more have filled the email list. I feel more than a little guilty that I haven't participated as much as some of the others but life has been too frentetic. I've been like the character in one of Lewis Carroll's books runnning furiously but getting nowhere.

I still have to read some more of the tutors' work but our library is located at a major shopping centre and the pre-Christmas rush is making parking appallingly hard to find. As the library's opening hours are later than the shops every place has been taken before it opens. Virgo works at the shopping centre and staff parking is forbidden during the holiday season. Since our local bus service is less than satisfactory on weekends I dropped her off this morning an hour before the shops opened because she had an early start. There were already dozens of cars in the carparks and it's even worse during the week.

Ah well it will all work out no doubt but not if I don't start on today's tasks which I am going to do right now.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Clarion Christmas

Somehow Christmas is getting a bit short changed this year. Usually the decorations go up the first weekend of December. The house drips with baubles, garlands and tinsel anywhere there is a spot - door handles, behind doors, around doorways, in bowls. You name it and there's probably a decoration. Even the teddy bears on my bed get their own Santa hats and scarfs. With Clarion though I've had to cut back - a bit. As I'm flying out of Perth on January 6, I'll have no time to take anything down and in hope of making things a little easier for Virgo I've cut back so only the living, dining rooms and hall are decorated. We still have two trees, of course. Only the seepage through the rest of the house has been stopped. My teddies still have their hats and scarfs though .
It's starting to look a lot like Christmas. This would be good if I wasn't so far behind in my preparations. No cooking done, still half the presents to buy and wrap, a piece of Christmas inspired writing for the Karrinyup Writers' club Christmas party in two days time and, by the way, tinsel doesn't cover a multitude of sins. Damn.
This doesn't help me in my sorting out what I need for Clarion either but as the medieval scholar, Dame Julian, said, "All will be well and all will be well and all manner of things will be well. " and no doubt she was right.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Okay, just to find out how it worked I wrote and deleted a post and it vanished as it should from my Dashboard. All fine so far but why is it that every time I try to view my blog on said Dashboard the deleted blog appears? I have gone through all the FAQs, typed the question into Blogger Help with no answers. What am I doing wrong? I'm wasting valuable time here just trying to look at my blog. Aaaaaargh!

For now I'm going to ignore this question/problem. I need to get on with my Clarion preparations. Time is flying and I have too much to do. Do you want to know what exactly? Here's a little list.

I have to set up my laptop.

I need an organised story file. Somehow ideas on scraps of paper seem less than satisfactory.

I need clothes. Boy do I need clothes. They may recommend casual but there are limits even to that.

I have to make sure the family know what they need to so the household keeps functioning. I'm thinking about things like paying regular bill for example. Note to self: learn to delegate.

I have the family coming here for Christmas lunch and since in anticipation of the floors being done half the house has been packed up we are living in less than ideal conditions so somehow we have to hide the worst failings. Isn't tinsel a wonderful invention she thinks as she drapes it over anything that doesn't move 'cos no-one will notice it then, will they.

I have presents to buy. I'm off.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Laptop blues

The KSPSFers had a meeting today. With Clarion South rapidly approaching those of us going have to get our anthology submissions finished for critting and reworking before we go so we (those who couldn't attend the regular Sunday meeting at least) spent several fruitful hours in the Bookcafe in Swanbourne. My story is up to four and a half thousand words already with, I estimate, about another one thousand to one and a half thousand to finish it. So you know how my weekend is going to be spent, don't you.

Meantime I'm going to have to decide what to do about the laptop. When I was originally shown the one I like I was told it had Microsoft Office and Norton installed. It turns out this is technically true but they are use for sixty day sample versions. I don't really care given I can legally install my copy of Office on my laptop and I have a spare copy of my anti-virus that came as a special deal with the one I bought a couple of months ago but it irritates me that I have been conned. I just can't decide if it's worth kicking up a fuss.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Funeral Reflections

Who would have guessed how difficult it is to arrange a time for a funeral.

As a result I've talked to the family about how I feel about my own to make things easier for Virgo when the time comes. She wants a list of everything so she knows and can make decisions without having to consult with everyone and I'll try to get Pisces to make one too. Funerals, in my opinion, should be organised less for the departed and more as a way for the living to say goodbye so we don't want to be too prescriptive. The idea is to make things simpler for our children, not tie them down with no room to move. All I really ask is to be put to rest with dignity and respect and in accordance with my beliefs and if I go before Pisces I know he, Virgo and Saggitarius will do that.

We have all been suddenly reminded of our mortality. There's nothing like sitting in a room for hours with a dead body waiting for an undertaker to bring that home to you.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Keeping on

I've written very little this week. There's been a death in the family and with it all the complexities involved in dealing with funeral arrangements and emotions. Still in this case it was a blessing. No-one should have to suffer so much for so long. Vale Mabs.
I'm a little overwhelmed at the moment. I have just realised how close Christmas is and how little I have done towards it and if Christmas is close so is Clarion. Some things have had to be postponed - the new floors for one. The shortage of tradesmen because of the building boom was the last straw. When I get home will do.
Still when I look around I have achieved quite a lot since the journey began - not as much as I would have liked or planned to but enough. All I have to do is keep on.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Three weeks in...

So much has happened in the last three weeks that I really don't know where to start. The beginning I suppose with the phone call from one of the Clarion South convenors on 18 October. Wild excitement followed by total panic. Woohoo! I'm going to Clarion South! Less than twelve weeks to get everything in my life reorganised! And that includes decisions about the new flooring that was to be installed by Christmas as well as the story for Beyond the Sun the first draft of which is supposed to be ready by mid November and the novel that needs to be re-drafted and and and... Then there's all the Clarion South preparation. Not just the story file but money to find - lots of money by my standards considering I'll have to have a laptop as well as pay for the workshop and fares.
Ah well it will all sort itself out eventually. Meanwhile I'm making lists - what the family have to know to survive my nearly seven week absence, what I have to do before I leave, Christmas, what to take with me to name a few. And when it gets too much why I'll just go off quietly somewhere and write, losing myself in some fantasy world of my creation where it's others who are facing the problems.
I might actually get a story idea for my file with a bit of luck.