Thursday, February 24, 2011

The next step

The parent moved into rehab today, so it's all going well. No word on when she'll be home, but she's happy and mobile. Her only complaint is that there are so many people buzzing about.

I'm just happy she can complain. I expect she'll be confined for a while, maybe another week before they let her out on parole. In the meantime, I just have to keep her calm about her situation, by being calm myself.

And now, back to work. Apparently, there is no Edit Fairy - she just took long service leave and is basking on a beach somewhere in Fiji...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Breathing room

I finally feel like I can take a breath. There is nothing worse than taking someone to hospital for what you think might be minor and being told it's major. Then, of course, it's thinking about whether you did something wrong, or failed to do something, or...

Fortunately, the aged parent's condition has now stabilised and will be off to the rehab unit tomorrow or Thursday. I have spoken to the occupational therapist, the speech therapist, the nurses, a doctor, ward sister, another therapist and then informed family members until I don't know what I've told to whom, or whether I've repeated myself.

The house is quiet with just me - except for the usual house settling with the change in weather and temperature - and yeah, it's a little eerie. But there's plenty to do for when the parent does return. Which means I need to get back to the major spring-cleaning housework - I still have to set the 'book' room to rights after the installation of the new carpet. It looks terrific, but still has that 'new', obnoxious smell to it.

* * *

And pray for New Zealand; they need all the help they can get.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Time out

The aged parent is ill, as in hospital ill, so I'm gonna be scarce; of course, I haven't had a chance to get the virus off this computer either... so no backing up, which equals no work - no work on the computer means no work to lose.

I really hope March is more fun. This year hasn't started off well at all.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sick computer

I have been slaving away today. We've got the carpeters coming tomorrow, and I had to shift stuff. I had no idea how many books my mother had until I was moving them. After the carpeters have gone, I'll have to move them back.

I gave her the opportunity to sort through them, to toss some and keep others; nothin' doin'. She's keeping all except for the old mathematics books my dad used for teaching.

I also have a virus on the computer which doesn't want to be killed off any time soon.

A visit to the technician is in order - hopefully before the virus kills the computer; I would be... unhappy, if that happened. But having paid buckets for the car inspection, greenslip and registration, the computer will have to wait.

Thus, being online is spotty and will continue to be so for another fortnight.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Epic fail and win

I joined the 100 million plus people watching the Superbowl and, true to form, picked the wrong side. Again. Go the Cowboys? she says in a weak voice.

So. Football is done and dusted for another year - and with the looming lockout, we might not get any games next season. Sigh. It's a good thing the rugby union starts in a couple of weeks. I'm just saying.

I'm multi-tasking at the moment: working on two books. One for a beta reader (sorry, S., it's coming, I promise!) and one for the museum for whom I do some work.

Now, the Lady Denman Heritage Complex is so named because of the main attraction: the ferry. Back in the day, all Sydney ferries were named for the wife of the Governor General. So ours is named after the wife of the fifth Governor-General's wife, Lady Gertrude Denman. The ferry was built by local builders and plied the waters of Sydney Harbour for nigh on seventy years before a community group managed to get the ferry back home.

It's not the only attraction, there's other stuff, too. But it is the ferry that's important.

One of the most frequently asked questions by visitors is "Who was Lady Denman?"

I'm a little disgruntled that the reply is usually, "The wife of the fifth Governor-General of Australia." Or "She named Canberra." Lady Denman was more, did more than most Australians realise.

So, I set about researching, with the aim of writing a few pieces for the newsletter. I got distracted last year by other stuff going into the newsletter, but I'm now back on track.

Everywhere I looked, the primary reference was Gervas Huxley's biography Lady Denman, G.B.E, 1884-1954 (Chatto & Windus, 1961) now out of print. I managed to track down a second-hand copy from Abe Books in New York (isn't the internet a wonderful thing?).

Today, the book arrived. It doesn't have a dust cover but it is in a good condition. I'll be using it in conjunction with other primary and secondary sources. My sense of satisfaction turned into a squee moment and a Holy Shit, followed by an OMG. Inside the cover is a bookplate, no big. On the opposite page is an inscription:

To Eve & Bert
with love
Judy Burrell

Yeah, I know you're thinking 'so what?' So I'll just say, Judy Burrell was born, the Hon. Anne Judith Denman and married Lt-Col. Sir Walter Raymond Burrell, 8th Bt. She went by the name... Judy.

There are ways to check the provenance of the book, but I don't have access to the databases required - or how Eve and Bert knew Judy, but the scenarios are legion, if I want to try.

I'm just happy to have the text and to marvel at the universe for putting the book into my hands. It's almost as good as having Lady Denman sign it herself!

Monday, February 07, 2011


Today... is... Superbowl Day! Smiley-face!

Yay! Go the Cowboys!

Oh... that's right. They're not in it. They had an unexpected, embarrassing and crappy season. Frowny-face.

Green Bay Packers or Pittsburgh Steelers. I don't think I dare choose. Post-season, I managed to pick just about every loser. But then, I suspect most people did.

This season has been the worst for tipping. I had a Patriots/Saints for the Superbowl, or Falcons/Bears. I did not think the Steelers or Packers would be there at the end.

I've thought on the firepower, on the wily Aaron Rodgers versus the solid Ben Roethlisberger as quarterbacks, and it's not helping. I've though on the other players, too, who might play a pivotal role, but that's not helping either. It may come down to which team has an off day - which would be crushing.

I think I'll just sit back with my peeps and enjoy the show. Whoever wins will have earned it - and next year (woe, it's such a long wait), with a new coach, maybe the Cowboys will be in the Superbowl... Smiley-face?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Mystery veggie

I am not the most gifted gardener; I admit it. In fact, I can be quite... ah, well, neglectful, but with the best of intentions! I figure plant it, water a little and leave it alone - except for the occasional weeding.

The rain, the heat and the humidity have done for the tomatoes. They grow nicely, but before being able to redden, they've split and fallen off the twig. The Brussel Sprouts are the most hardy and, for a winter vegetable, have exceeded my expectations. Somewhere, beneath the weeds, garlic and onion grow, or have grown, or are waiting for me to dig them up... or something. Same thing with the potatoes.

I was actually looking forward to handing out to the siblings, full sized watermelon - that's what I thought the leaves indicated. I didn't plant it, the compost bin tipped over and me, ever neglectful, didn't right it. I had to think. Some weeks prior, my youngest sister had bought watermelon. We tossed the seeds and white rind into the bin. Ahh. Had to be it.

The plant grew, tendrils reaching out across the back of the yard with remarkable speed. Big, lush yellow flowers appeared. It could have been a zucchini, so I waited until small green bulges replaced the fragile blooms. Then the striations appeared on the green globes. Oh, joy! Watermelon! Whoo hoo! Just the thing for a steaming summer! Cool, pink watermelon and lots of it.

Except... they're not. Watermelon, that is. Nor are they zucchini. What's left?

Um, does pumpkin freeze well?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

New Worlds

Whoa! Scary children! Hyperbole and a Half demonstrates just how scary they can be.

Imagination can be a dangerous thing and lead to many careers, like writing...

I remember as a kid using a ride-a-roo, or space hopper - you know, those rubber balls filled with air with a handle - to bounce around the backyard, or, in my world, the Wild West! Yee-haa! Then there was the pogo-stick that doubled as a broadsword; I managed to hit my youngest sister with that one, but hey, I was a knight! The pinecones and fists of sand at the beach that doubled as grenades; the greenhouse - deepest, darkest Africa - ripe for exploration (damn you, Kipling!); the garage provided a place to rescue people from, or was a mad scientist's laboratory. The park became the Sydney Cricket Ground where my brothers snickered as they bowled the fast ones, or near sunset, another landscape to find a path through.

No wolves, though. Tigers, lions, goblins, the Hun and so many more... then back to the bookcase to find more adventures to translate into action.

It's nice to think back on those times, they were real, well, to me they were. It's even better to be able to create new worlds now. There's just so much out there to explore... and twist into whatever I want.

Imagination makes all things possible - at least on paper.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Hot and bothered

I am sweating, both literally and figuratively. The temperature just passed the 40C mark and with no air-conditioning, I'm finding it tough to do any work. There's a slight breeze, but it's just pushing warm air around. The cabbage butterflies are enjoying it, though, drifting from one vegetable plant to another to lay eggs. The cicadas are a bit deafening and I think the birds have decided it's too hot to fly around; if I constantly wore a feather coat, I'd be reluctant, too.

The laptop ain't too happy neither, the fan is desperately trying to keep the inner workings cool - maybe I should shift me and the computer to sit in front of an open refrigerator, or a fan. So. It's hot; damned hot.

Figuratively, I'm trying to work through edits and wondering what the hell I'm doing. The more I read, the more I like the work, even as I recognise there's something wrong with it.

I used a voice-recognition program to read it back to me. I'm guessing in the first instance, the protagonist shouldn't be talking to herself; it's not part of her personality. In the second, some of the descriptions are subtly wrong - not sure why, yet - third, there's some chapters missing. I don't know what happened to them, but I'll have to rewrite them. Fourth, I need to be more precise about locations and descriptions thereof. Fifth, sucky grammar. 'Nuff said.

Summer, it has to be said, is the worst time for me to do this work. I'm a winter person and the heat just sucks the energy right out of me. Oh, for a southerly change blasting up the coast with bitey winds and light rain!

I think it will be up early to work, wallow during the heat of the day and work in the evenings and night - I can't sleep in the heat, so I may as well do something constructive.

I promised this book to a beta reader and I'm way past due with it, even with the flood damage. For now, I shall at least finish this chapter for revision tomorrow, even as I want to find the coolth of the sea.