Monday, November 23, 2015

water fight!

The weather is stinking hot at the moment.The kind of weather when your bra catches enough sweat to swim in and sleeping with more than a sheet is impossible. The kind of weather when your legs stick together and movement is slow and resentful. The kind of weather when you wander through the house searching for a draft of wind that just isn't happening and you get drinks out of the fridge just to hold them at the back of your neck.
Yeah, I'm not a hot weather kind of girl.
I don't count the weather 'good' unless it's cool enough that you might conceivably wear a pair of socks. This kind of weather, the kind I don't even want to put on undies in, because they'll just add more heat - is not my cup of (iced) tea.
I go on Facebook and look at all the bleeping lucky people with snow and gulp back tears.
And yes, this would be coming up to my sixth year in the tropics and sub tropics. Go figure.
We can't go to the beach after school as easily at the moment (well, we can, but it's problematic because of the sand-in-cast-issue) and the swimming pool is out as a family event because of the same reason - the Extravaganza's broken leg, so today we did the next best thing.
We wrapped the Extravaganza's leg up in plastic bags and got a 200 pack of water balloons.
They are my new best friend.
No house should be without them.
They deserve medals.
Cool and fun and running in the sun (getting the Extravaganza her bone-healing vitamin d when it's so unpleasant out is not fun.)

Water fight, I love you.

(Although taking photos of a water-fight is a tad dangerous for ones camera. I waited till the heat of the battle was over, but there were still some close calls...!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

on writing & nano

(A thistle in my garden - a great hulking thing, taller than the kids, and completely out of place amidst the coffee plants, hibiscus and bougainvillea. I've let it grow... because. It's going to seed now, so I'll cut it down soon, but I am half tempted to vase it up...) 

I'm drawing breath now, a break from getting the words down. Coming up for air in this place, this time, rather than story-time, myth-time. Shaking my thoughts free of character and plot for a short time before I dive in again.

Yep. It's (Inter)National Writing a Novel Month, that time when all around the world thousands of us are trying to write fifty thousand words in a month.  If we're a bit not-quite there, a bit off-in-story-land, looking vaguely into the distance, that's the reason.

I'm hearing voices in my head, a couple of voices in particular - one being a very arrogant Irish godling with a strong Glaswegian accent. He's just about to fight in the Second Battle of Moytura.

This is my first NaNo since I had the three kids rather than two, and yes, there have been days not a lot of floor has been visible at our place. (Beloved's been working a rather brutal series of nights.)

There have been days that a lot of coffee has been a necessity because I've been up most of the night before catching up, or tracking down an elusive snippet of story or information I want to use or looking for images of a particular waterfall.

I'm on track for today - I've caught up at 30,000 words and a bit so far this month. I find if I miss a day of writing, I quickly fall behind - if I manage each day's official 1666 words it's so much easier to stay on target.

This month I'm finishing an Old Nano project - Fosterling - the first fifty thousand words were written in a previous NaNoWriMo, I tinkered and added an extra 10,000 words in the interim - and voila my book is now up around the 90,000 word mark. I enjoy it's solid bulk, although I know I'm going to decimate it.

The earlier words are also a distraction though - for every word count I first have to word check, then subtract the pre-NaNo words (maths, moi? bleah!) and only then can I enter it into the NaNo page for the cute little graph to tell me how I'm going, how many words I need to write to complete the day, how far behind I am or how far ahead I am and how many words altogether my region has written - we're getting close to a million.

This is a team activity I can totally get behind. I admit, there aren't that many team activities I like, but this is one.

I find I stop every three or four hundred words to update my word count. Procrastination is a wonderful thing, even on something I love doing.

More usefully, I stop every so often to watch documentaries about the Bronze and Iron Age (If such a thing is possible I might have overdosed on Neil Oliver. Hmm. Nah, not possible), to check distances and work out locations or quickly read through pertinent blog posts.

How long would it take for a heavily pregnant woman to walk between Tara and the Hill of Uisneach? How many counties would she walk through? (There was an ancient road between the two? Brilliant.) How long would it take on horseback? Should Lugh kill Balor with a spear or a slingshot - both are correct...

Half my book is set in Bronze/Iron/Myth age Ireland, while the other half is set in present day Scotland and Australia. I still haven't quite got my head around the complicated, interwoven, never-quite-agreeing genealogies of the Fir Bolg, the Fomorians and the Tuatha De Danaan, but I'm getting more of an idea of how I want to batter the old stories into a shape that works for me.

I'm cherry picking myths from here and there and everywhere, working out which versions work best for my story and quietly kicking closely related ones under the table. (The one about the guy who was force fed a vast amount, does a massive poo and then has sex with a woman I think might be some kind of land/fertility goddess. Um. Yeah, leaving that one out. The one about the poet, Cairbre, cursing the high king, Bres, for meanness? that one works well.)

I cannot say how much I love being able to escape to a cool green world when all is heat and mugginess here - interspersed with spectacular storms. I love piecing together and discovering, trying to fit the ever-changing archaeological evidence - very roughly - with the myths.

The more I read, the more I tend to think the Invasion Myths are based on some kind of truth and that I'd love to read more, study deeper. I've loved cramming in so much knowledge. I've missed it. I still haven't unearthed my old university readings book (Pagans, Christians Kings & Goddesses in Early Ireland) but I intend to do it soon. I'm just a tad worried as to how much has changed since then, how much of what I studied has become outdated as new discoveries have been made and new interpretations gained favour.

I wasn't sure I could do it. I wasn't sure it was possible to write a lot, consistently, with the three little ones underfoot and so much going on. I haven't written solidly since before the baby (now the toddler) was born, and it feels good. I'm still a little cautious as to the quality - does baby-brain still have me in it's grip? Am I just producing milk turned into words?

The book begins with the birth of triplets, and ends with the birth of twins, although there is an equal amount of death. I figure I can always do something with words that are written, it is impossible to do anything with words that are not written.

I'm on the homeward stretch - passed the mid-way mark, wish me luck for the next eleven days!

Saturday, November 7, 2015


Giggle Bear thought the wind before the storm the most wonderful thing. She is getting lots of new words at the moment and it's such a lovely thing to watch.

Adventure Boy - It's been a tough year for my boy. We just learnt his ears are full of wax and one of his grommets is blocked so his hearing has been down for the last little while. A speech pathology has also told us he very likely has a language disorder (probably related to the hearing loss.) He's been getting in a lot of trouble at school but when I suggested it could be frustration over not being able to hear or understand the teacher said no, that's not the issue -it's his behaviour. Looking for a new school. We've been so miserable with this one, but just stuck it out hoping it will get better. This week a teacher scrunched up work he'd done and threw it in the bin, so we're over waiting.

The Extravaganza - she's not letting her cast stop her at all. Now she can walk without crutches she hurries about with her strange gait at full pelt.

Joining with Jodi for a portrait of my kids most weeks in 2015.

before the storm

The day began hot and humid, and steadily became more hot and more humid. The sky became greyer and lower. We got into the car and headed for the beach, for the cool breeze from the sea.

And from the beach, as the kids ran and explored, we watched the storm roll over. Felt the first heavy drops of rain, watched the sea become pitted as rain began to torrent down, made the mad run for the car, delighting in the rain, worried for the Extravaganza's cast, inexpertly wrapped in a plastic bag. By the time we reached the car we were all drenched through, the camera and the cast - both in plastic bags, the only dry parts of us. The water gushing along the road, swirling around our ankles as we reached the car, was warm from stored heat.

As we pulled away I watched the rain pelt down into the atmospheric, still brown water of the mangroves alongside the road.

Lightning flooded the sky, thunder rumbled mightily. On the way home hail started pelting the car, bouncing along the side of the road, and for the rest of the afternoon, sitting in a blessedly rain cooled house, lightning continued to illuminate the sky, thunder continued to peal. Rain continued to fall.

I am so deeply grateful for the cool relief, the drama and delight of the tropical storm. The muggy build up sucks. But the storm, o the storm!