Tag Archives: Family

Final checks and formatting

Have got to the point with ‘Falling’ where I’m happy to release the rewritten content into the wild as an eBook. I’ve been holding back in case I get one of those ‘Distribution rejection’ e-mails from the previous volume. Reformatting is time consuming, and trying to weasel out the reason for the rejection equally so. They just send you stock e-mails about your works ‘metadata’, and never respond when you ask for details on which specific field doesn’t match the content. Although a better help section has been in evidence over the past year or so. This time, I think, I’ve got the formula right. I think. Touch wood, all that shizzle. Fingers, toes, nostrils and eyes crossed. (Don’t go there.) Hoping for the best.

Final spell check is due this evening after work. Which will take two hours, even with semi automated shortcuts. Final proofing will take another two days and eat up all the spare time I don’t have. Primary release via Lulu.com will happen probably Saturday afternoon before we finish packing and cleaning for our UK trip. Dog will be well cared for while we’re away. He’s on a vet mandated diet at the moment to see if we can shrink a fatty lump he’s developed. Special food has been purchased with strict instructions of no treats.

Sunday is a travelling day, arriving Bristol Airport in the UK on Monday. When travelling to the UK I like to arrive at provincial airports simply because Heathrow is my least favourite air terminal in the entire world. Dirty, crowded, high flight taxes and fees. Flights often late and everyone seems so bad tempered. So I try to avoid using it. Far better, and cheaper to take a flight into Schipol, hang around in relative comfort for four hours, then take a short hop to Bristol. Truro for three nights to visit Angie’s family, then up to my old home of Stratford upon Avon for a week. After that a hike over to Ireland to see the sights of Waterford and environs, thence back to Bristol and a two night layover in Amsterdam before home for tea, cookies and sleep.

Will try to write when I can find the odd quiet corner to hunker down in. If not, I’m in Bristol, Truro, Stratford, Ireland, Amsterdam etc.

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? #WritersLife

Picked up poet Mary Oliver‘s question via LinkedIn this morning, and it very much resonates with what’s going on in my life at the moment. Well, not just mine but Angie’s as well. We’ve been pottering around looking at lots to build a house on, and finding that everything eventually devolves to suburbia. The whole work-eat-sleep-mortgage thing, which we’ve already done. So why on earth are we planning to anchor ourselves down to a plot of land for the rest of our useful lives? Nail ourselves to one location? Chain our souls to real estate? Go down the suburban road once more? Do the networking thing? Cultivate contacts to further our ‘careers’? Sell our souls to the machine again? We’re both over fifty and pretty active, I don’t see the point.

Would we do it for Laura and Jo? Not really, they’re all grown up and making their own lives half way around the world. As for me, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, if there were a club especially for people like me, I wouldn’t let me in. I’m not a social animal. The Bear is my totem.

So after drifting around plots and lots with various enchanting views, we ended up in the Genoa Bay Marina Espresso Bar down past Duncan. Down at the end of one floating jetty was a 60′ Gin Palace, registered in Edmonton, Alberta of all places. A gleaming monstrosity of fibreglass and stainless steel. Very palatial. A million bucks worth straight out of the yards. Beautiful lines. It looked fast and graceful, even just moored at the floating dock gathering algae next to all the houseboats.

All of a sudden, Angie gets all upset, which bothered me as it was a gorgeous day and we hadn’t a care, apart from looking at various interminable building sites. She confessed to me that this whole looking for houses process was making her unhappy, and she didn’t want to do it any more. She expressed a wish to live on a boat and cruise the coast and gulf islands for the next ten or twenty years. So as we wound through endless Canadian suburbia, we talked it over. I expressed surprise as Angie tends to suffer from motion sickness, and her on a boat? To be honest I never even thought about it as a life option. She said no, she was willing to give it a try. Life on the water. We joked about her having a ‘mid-life crisis’, well why not? Without crisis and adventure, life is dull, dull, mind strangling routine. The morass of souls, the slough of despond, a round of endless quiet desperation.

I reflected that some of my early years were spent playing around on British canals on cabin cruisers. This brought up memories like being at the wheel of a fishing boat following a gyrocompass bearing back into Looe after a days deep sea fishing out near Eddystone. Force four south westerly freshening to six. Dirty green sea under grey skies, bucking the restless horse of a Lochin 38 Hulled fishing boat at fourteen knots. Five foot swells slamming at the bows. Slewed at twenty degrees from the line of travel in the cross wind.

I have my BC pleasure craft license, know the basics about R/T drills and have a modest understanding of basic seamanship. Angie is a quick learner, and both sides of the family have more than a little salt water in their veins, so why not? We don’t really ‘belong’ anywhere, and would only be stifled by life in one place, regardless of how nice the views or people are.

The sheer chutzpah appeals. The thought of Island hopping, following the weather around the world while working online has a certain appeal. Phoning the kids from Southampton or some other locale. “Hi love, fancy a weekend off?” Hire cars when need arises, not buy them. Move our money around the globe, spread the risk, take a chance. I have more than a couple of ideas about that. Yes, so we’re having a radical rethink about how we live our lives, and today we are going to talk to boat brokers.

Head of the Beast cover notes

I’ve been wondering about what wording I should use as cover blurb for Head of the Beast, first of the Paul Calvin Novels. After much spirited debate with my muse (Angie, my Wife), we agreed on the following:

The living shouldn’t talk to the dead. We say too much and know too little.” Runs the gospel according to Nick Calvin, ex Uniform Police Inspector.

The problem is, Nick Calvin has been dead for over seven years. Killed in the line of duty.

The other problem is, his son Paul can now hear him quite clearly. Paul can also hear a lot of other dead people, as well as the thoughts of the living. Having your brain rebuilt by a genius in neural stem cell technology can do that to a man. Which should turn him into some kind of super hero. Only he’s neither super nor hero.

Yet his abilities push him into the very front line against an evil plot. One which threatens to spread mayhem and bloody destruction all through the streets of London. He is also now squarely in the sights of a ruthless Swiss consortium, with designs on the impossible to replicate technology between his ears.

With his wife about to divorce him, and professional disgrace in the offing, this is not how Paul saw his life as a career police officer turning out.

Head of the Beast is the first of the bleakly near – comic tales from the Cerberus Conspiracy series of science fantasy novels.

I think it’s got legs. I really do.

Who is opening my post?

A letter from my Mother arrived yesterday. A Christmas card. It had been opened. This is not the first time, and has been going on for the last twelve months. Every letter or birthday card from my Mother in Claverdon, England, has arrived with seals peeled back, envelope flaps torn and marks on the contents. No other post from the UK arrives in this condition. I have spoken to my Mother about this matter on the phone, and last year forbade her to send anything of any importance of value, like documents or birthday money. I’ve even lodged formal complaint.

Despite the fact that my writings contain accounts of how the future EU morphs into a hideously theocratic regime that can only exist by murdering millions of dissidents and converting them into foodstuffs, or how said regime murders the British Royal family, I do not think that I’m on any kind of security ‘watch list’. Instead I prefer to think that one of the Postal employees covering the Claverdon area in Warwickshire is a light fingered tea leaf looking for easy pickings from old ladies sending letters to their sons in far off lands.

Newsflash; there are no pickings, all funds transfers are electronic, and all important documents get hand delivered by friends and family coming to and from Canada, because we don’t trust the UK Post Office any more.

Taking Christmas off

Angie and I have been talking about our relationship, and realise there’s considerable fence mending to do. So this Christmas we’re going for a break at a nice out of the way hotel with a balcony, great scenery, nice seafood, far from the drama and excitable high pitched squeaking. No presents, no cards between us, no Internet or phone calls from the 22nd until the 28th. I’ve put a few trinkets up around the house just for the look of things, but this year Christmas is going to be a very low key affair.

The kids are in England, family is scattered all over the globe, and for a change it’s just us. No tree, no Christmas shopping, no overloaded credit cards, no heavy meals we’re only going to have to sweat off in January. Nothing like that. Just a thorough detox. Massages, mud wraps and spa treatments. A relaxing break chilling out in whirlpool baths, reading a good book with a glass of fine wine, and getting a head start on the New Year. We’ve done our duty as far as family is concerned, catering and feeding, cleaning up after, and pandering to almost every whim for years. Now it’s our turn.

The only thing I plan to celebrate this year is Angie’s birthday on the 25th of December.

Nice to know I’m appreciated

Came back from late shift last night to find the following little missive on my laptop. Angie had been up and around, exercising her new hip, and decided that I needed a little morale boost.

Still not got the oomph back to get to the keyboard in earnest, but it’s nice to know all the other things I do are appreciated.

A rough year

Just finished my shift yesterday, and was having a talk with my work buddy, who, when I spoke about the latest developments in my life, vouchsafed; “You’ve had a rough year.”

In real terms I’m sure other people have had it far worse, but for me life has been a bit of a ride these past two years. What with the death of a close friend, playing unhappy host to visiting high dependency family. Angies first hip replacement. The struggle to finish the second volume of the Stars trilogy. Angies second hip and all the internal agony of watching her in pain for so long. Running her errands, washing and grooming while she’s fresh out of hospital. Housework. The infernal grinding effort to keep the family budget balanced when I’m not making much. Never more than pennies for myself. At times like these, Larkins adage “Life is slow dying” seems more than appropriate.

Today, how tired I truly feel hit me like a rock in the face. All the coffee in the world doesn’t seem to help. Angie thinks I need a ‘project’. I think she’s bored as all get out. We need a time out.

On the other hand, not all is darkness. I’ve amused myself watching the antics of our local colony of Rufous Hummingbirds. I’ve reloaded the feeder and seeing as they stay year round at our location, will keep it topped up throughout the late Fall and Winter. They’re elusive little tinkers to photograph with the Camera I’ve got, and so far all I have are the relative low-res images below:

There is a truth in all the above. Nothing lasts, and all bad things pass eventually. I remain guardedly optimistic for the future. Now I must make tea.

Home and Curry

Angie is home, now kitted out with a new hip joint and currently up to the gills with painkillers. She’s tucked up nice and cosy in bed. There’s a roaring fire in the stove, and the house feels like a home once more. Overall I’m feeling a whole lot more relaxed.

To celebrate her return I made one of my home made curries with home baked Naan bread. Being a bit lazy with the curry I simply chopped up a pound of cardboard chicken (Skinless, boneless, flavourless – I don’t like it, but Angie does), used up my last jar of Sharwoods and chucked in half a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes, which gave it sufficient heat. Basmati rice was also prepared (1 half cup Basmati rice, one and a quarter cups of cold water, bring to boil until almost all water is gone, then take off heat and stick a cloth over the pan for the rest of the water to evaporate). Mango Chutney, check. The Naan bread took a little experimentation, as my oven only goes up to 500 Fahrenheit, and leaving the yoghurt out of the recipe might have been a mistake as the texture was a little stiff. However, we live and learn. It was close enough for government work, as the saying goes. After her bout with vomiting due to a painkiller reaction, the Curry went and stayed down. For this small mercy I am truly grateful.

With regard to opiates, I remember a compound called Prochlorperazine (Proprietary name Stemetil) which is useful when administering opiates as it reduces the nausea. Working on what would nowadays be called an Oncological ward for a few weeks, palliative patients often had a mixed dose of Stemetil with their Diamorphine to cut down the drug dreams and vomiting whilst reducing cancer pain. When Angie was having her first bout of vomiting I asked the nurse if Stemetil was still in use, and was told it was restricted to palliative care. Or as I recall a senior nursing officer say in the 1980’s; “They’re dying anyway, so it really doesn’t matter if they (The patients) become junkies.” Which is a refreshingly pragmatic view of the world.

What with all associated shenanigans, running errands to drug stores, keeping friends and family informed, and general caring for my wife while she is indisposed, all writing on major projects has ground to a halt. Apart from the blog. This is only a temporary state of affairs, and as soon as Angie is well on the mend and fully self care capable, I will be torturing the English language with my facinorous prose. As usual.

Good, and not so good news

Phoned my mother across the time zones at lunchtime PST, which is eight hours away in England. Nice to hear her voice every so often.

She tells me that as a grand dame of 96 she is finally getting online via broadband in the small Warwickshire village where she lives. I hope the information overload doesn’t get to her. No more letters, as we will probably be talking via Skype in the near future. I’ll give her a ring, walk her through the installation and sign up procedure, and bingo! Video calls. We talk to Angie’s side of the clan regularly via Skype, which has been an absolute godsend as far as communication goes. Especially as my brother and sister in law have just emigrated to Australia. The only issue is time difference.

There was the sad revelation that an Aunt I barely knew died two weeks ago. Should I go into mourning? I don’t think so because I hardly know anyone from that side of my Mothers clan. Out of my three maternal aunts, she was the last. So now I am Aunt-less. Loads of cousins, second and third cousins, but no aunts.

I feel no sense of loss because I hardly knew her, and getting upset over the death of a virtual stranger, even though I am closely blood related, does not touch me. To say it did might indicate a strain of hypocrisy, a sense of false mourning that is not yours by right. While the news is sobering, I cannot get worked up about it. We had no real connection and haven’t really heard from them much since I was small. Especially as relations between my mother and that specific part of our extended family have been less than cordial for several decades. All you really feel is “Oh. Right.” Nothing you can do about it, and the world keeps turning anyway. Is that too cynical? I don’t know.

No news as yet from Harper Vector, although I’m not really expecting anything. It was a shot in the dark as all these things are, and if they don’t like the Paul Calvin stories I’ll just take the first draft, polish it up a bit and punt it out onto Amazon myself. Nothing ventured as they say. Then I’ll finish ‘Darkness’ for Fan Expo in April 2013 and get that out there. See what happens. Keep on flinging enough stuff at the wall, and something is bound to stick.