Thursday, December 17, 2009


Isn't it amazing how much better the day looks when your hair is cut and no longer flopping in your eyes? At least that happens for me. I feel much more in control. That probably sounds like I'm a control freak and I'm not really. I can hear my family and friends gasping at that comment, imploring me to tell the truth, but each of them only sees the parts of me I show them. Sometimes I play it up, just for a reaction.

Anyway, back to the hair. My hairdresser fitted me into his lunch break yesterday and didn't even charge me for the appointment I missed. Of course I took him a bottle of homemade chutney and a bottle of wine as a peace offering so that might have helped. Now I can wash my hair, shake it and leave it - I rarely brush it before night time - and I can focus on the rest of my day and not on keeping my hair out of my face. Calm has once again descended.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I always thought that I'd get more done over the holidays just because I have more time, but it's not the case. If I'm not so busy I need to stay super-organised I seem to be prone to distractions.

Yesterday was a perfect case in point. I had one place to be - the hairdresser at 2.30pm. So what did I do all day? I admired the beetroot chutney I'd made the day before - several times because I love it when new recipes work out. I read a couple of e-books - I REALLY need to get myself an ereader; my laptop is way too heavy and hot. I made apricot jam, which didn't set. That or course had me running into the kitchen every ten minutes just to make sure it didn't set. It set on the saucer and what was left in the pan but not in the bottles. Go figure. That kept me occupied for a good many hours - I really hate it when recipes don't work, especially when I've been so careful with measurements. Sigh - that means I'm spending time today fixing the apricot jam. I did a bit of tidying as well. The cleaners come on Tuesday and it's always nice for them to have access to things so they can actually clean them and not spend their time putting things away - I can do that.

And where in all this was the hairdresser? On my calendar, written in the correct day and with the correct time. My head just kept telling me the 14th of January was Tuesday. I looked at the calendar at least a dozen times during the day. I worked with files on the computer that had been saved on the 14th. I checked the date on the computer several times too, and never once did it click that Monday was the 14th and I should go out.

And this close to Christmas, my chances of getting another appointment are slim. Looks like I'm growing my hair longer for a while. Great - I hate hair flopping in my face so I'll be pinning it back and looking like some over-aged preschooler.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Coconut Ice and anniversaries

I just realised why I have a sudden urge to make coconut ice when it's not my favourite sweet and my sister was always much better at it that I'll ever be.

Today is the 19th anniversary of the death of my father. He was one of life's true gentlemen. He was kind and thoughtful and gentle in his dealings with others. He was the person who taught me never to judge someone else, and especially not because they were different to me. According to my father, if I didn't make friends with people who were different professions, social status, races, cultures or sexual orientation, I would be the poorer for it. In 1960s/70s small-town Australia, that was a difficult stance to have, but he was right. My life is richer because of the man he was. I still miss him every single day.

Christmas Cooking

For the third year in a row I've made the same thing to give to people at Christmas. Spicy Tomato Chutney, Apple Jelly and Lemon Butter. I need to do another intensive cook-off before Christmas for the family gifts.

These preserves are all really easy to make and always popular so it's not a disaster that I keep doing the same thing, but I think I need to try something different. I should pull out my old sweets thermometer and make something like coconut ice. That was always my dad's favourite - until my sister decided pale pink was boring and made a bright green batch.

The only problem with cooking at this time of year is the weather. We're regularly over 30oC every day with the nights rarely going below 25oC so it gets very hot in the kitchen. I've done most of my preserving in the middle of the night as it's simply too hot to do anything during the day.

I'm thinking about getting a Lilly Pilly tree for the back yard. That way when it fruits I can make Lilly Pilly Jelly. You never see it around anymore. It's one of those things that reached its peak during the 1930s depression and has gradually slid into obscurity. It's a pity because Lilly Pillies make a fantastic jelly, deep pinkish red with a slight tartness underneath the sweetness.

I've thought about other fruiting trees but I'm not really much of a gardner. Anything that can't survive my neglect won't do well in my garden. I have enough trouble remembering to water the chilli bushes, let along remembering when to spray for bugs - and where to find a natural spray because I don't like to use chemicals if I can avoid them. I keep bugs and grubs out of my garden by companion planting. Everything is mixed together: vegetables, herbs and some flowers. All of them are planted next to things that will either help them grow better or keep bugs at bay. I'm happy with the yield I get, especially since more often than not I forget to water.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NaNo comparisons

I just opened the novel I was working on before I began NaNo.
  • In twenty months writing Warrior Pledge I've written just over 50000 words.
  • In thirty days of writing No Evil Star, I've written just over 50000 words.
Of course Warrior Pledge is a much better story so far because I've been editing and plotting story arcs and character arcs and all those sorts of things along the way but it doesn't change the fact that it's taken me nearly two years to write the same amount I wrote in a month.

And I have exactly the same problems with both of them, even with all the preparation and editing that's gone into Warrior Pledge. Apparently all my characters sound the same. I can't see it which is why it's a problem. In my head they all come across as totally different people but I'm obviously having a problem getting that across on the page.

I'm not going to worry about it tonight. I've given myself the rest of this week to just fudge around, writing a word here, a paragraph there and thinking about the research I need to do and reading an article here and there. Next week I'll begin a program of mimimum standards:
  • Minimum one hour writing
  • Minimum one article read
  • EVERY night