One day to go!

Baby Duck, like nine-year-olds everywhere, has been counting down the days till Christmas. He built his own countdown calendar out of lego, and has been happily updating it all month. We progressed from “I can’t believe Christmas is so far away” through “it’s still two weeks to go” to “it’s Christmas in 12 more hours!!!!!!”.

The good thing about being a kid is you have nothing else to do but look forward to Christmas, unlike all the frazzled adults who have a million things on their plate and wish the whole thing would just go away. I’m sure that’s why kids love it so much – the sheer joy of presents with none of the seasonal responsibilities and pressures.

The bad thing about being a kid, of course, is also that you have nothing else to do but look forward to Christmas. When you’re not busy and distracted, the big day seems to approach at a snail’s pace. Why does December go so slooowly?

“I wish it was Christmas tomorrow!” has been heard a lot from a certain small boy. Not enough to make me rich if I had a dollar for every utterance, but certainly frequently enough to buy me a very nice Christmas present.

Now at last it is Christmas tomorrow, and soon enough it’ll be gone in a frenzy of unwrapping and excitement. Such a short thrill after such a long build-up.

Already he’s planning to update that lego calendar tomorrow: 365 days to go!

Imaginary medicine

Recently I took the ducklings to the dentist. In the grotty old carpark out the back is an equally grotty sign, advertising for a chemist shop that no longer exists:

CHEMIST: Prescriptions made up

This tickled Demon Duck’s sense of the absurd.

“Hey, look Mum – ‘prescriptions made up’. What’s this prescription do? We don’t know! We made it up!

In other efforts of the imagination, I progress with my NaNo effort. Yesterday I would have said I was progressing well. Today has been more of a struggle.

I’m trying a new approach this year. In the past I’ve started writing with no more than a premise, a handful of characters and a couple of scenes worked out. This can bring great delight, as your imagination throws up exciting ideas and connects elements in surprising ways. It can also, of course, create a huge amount of stress, as you struggle to work out the plot on the fly. I’ve never managed to write more than about 500 words an hour this way, and often considerably less, so it’s always been a stressful slog.

This year I have much more of the story mapped out – perhaps as much as three-quarters – with many scenes neatly noted on plot cards. This has meant a more cohesive story and a writing speed hovering close to 1000 words an hour, or double my usual. Go, me! This is more like it!

Sadly, today I arrived at one of the holes: “memory scene involving characters A and B”. I hoped by the time I got here something brilliant would have occurred to me. No such luck.

After procrastinating most of the day I decided to skip it and write the next scene I knew instead. Lord, it was like pulling teeth. Eventually I got something half the length of my usual scenes, that took twice as long to write, and lay limp on the page like cold spaghetti.

And I still have to write another 900 words to make the day’s quota. I’m well ahead, but I’m determined not to lose any of my buffer. This year I’m not stopping at 50,000 and outlining the rest of the book; I want to write my way all the way to The End.

My poor imagination is feeling bruised already. I could do with one of those imaginary prescriptions!

Snow White and the Night of the Living Dead

We went to see “Snow White and the Huntsman” recently. There’s a scene where All Hope Seems Lost, where Snow White is laid out in a chapel, apparently dead. I say apparently because Kristen Stewart’s facial expression is no different here than in any other scene in the movie, so it’s a little hard to tell.

However, since we’re all up with our fairy tales, we know she’s only awaiting the prince’s kiss to awaken and live happily ever after. Chris Hemsworth duly supplies the kiss then wanders outside to grieve. Next thing we know Snow White appears in the doorway. The courtyard hushes as all turn to look upon this miracle. Snow White paces slowly into the courtyard, a pale and beauteous vision in white. No one moves or speaks.

No one, that is, except Baby Duck.

“Braaaaaiins,” he moans and the Carnivore and I crack up.

Gotta love that kid’s sense of humour.

Eight-year-old humour

Baby Duck barely eats enough to keep a … well, a baby duck – alive. He’s always had a small appetite and been a slooooow eater. As a result he’s painfully thin. This didn’t used to bother me much. The girls are skinny too. So was I as a child, and so was the Carnivore, so I figure you can’t do much about genetics. We eventually filled out to normal-sized people, and I’m sure the ducklings will too in time.

However, it became a problem when he got so sick back in June and lost so much weight. If you or I lose 4 kilos it’s no big deal. Hell, it’s cause for celebration! But if you only weigh 22 kg to start with, it’s a serious problem. At one stage in hospital he was so thin his backbone reminded me of one of those dinosaurs with spines down their back, his vertebrae stuck out so far. Not a good look.

So we’re now making a concerted effort to fatten him up. Lots of milk, yoghurt, pasta, extra cream, nuts.

Last night we had takeaway pizza for dinner. A year ago he would only have had one slice of pizza before declaring himself too full to eat any more. Then he progressed to eating two slices, which I thought was a big improvement. Last night, for the first time ever, he ate three slices.

Baby Duck: Are you proud of me, Mum, for eating three slices?
Me: I certainly am! This is a new world record!
Baby Duck: I’m still hungry. Can I have another piece of garlic bread?
Me: You’re still hungry?? What have you done with my real son?
Baby Duck: I ATE HIM!!

Random (mis)firings of a tired brain

Wow. I’m more tired than I thought. I typed that heading and my brain immediately emptied. Like sticking a pin in a balloon. Pop! No more thoughts. Completely goneski. If only I could bottle that and sell it at yoga classes.

So, yes, tired. Not enough sleep – bad. Lots of exercise – good, but tiring. Too much stress, also tiring. However, there have been some wins this week. I have a story on hold at

Wasn’t he cute?

Moving on from memory lane, and seeing as its Wednesday, time for a Wednesday WIP report. Nothing doing on the writing front, but I’ve made a little progress with quilting.

This is one I’m working on, playing with contrast and trying to loosen up a little. The wonky stars and stripes were great fun. Drawing the trees gave me a lot of trouble. I kept making them too realistic, when I wanted something more stylised and free, something that said “tree” without getting bogged down in detail. This is the paper pattern for the first one. They won’t be white in the end but they do look rather nice like this. Maybe I should have made them white! You can be the judge when I get it finished.

It’s fun designing your own quilt. I haven’t done it for ages, but I’ve been going to a wonderful monthly workshop at Material Obsession, which always leaves me inspired and wanting to try new things. Even – gasp! – hand quilting, which I did once and decided was far too slow for me. But Kathy, the teacher, is so full of energy and enthusiasm she could talk you into anything, so that’s another project that is inching along. I must say, I find hand work very soothing when I make the time for it. It’s just that there’s always so many other things clamouring for attention!

Still, that’s not such a bad problem to have. At least it’s never boring.