Lexifabricographer - Where good concepts go to die
Words that go together, although not necessarily terribly well
Sometimes I like to pretend to be other, better people
Stands for Play By Mail, or possibly Postal Brutality Mongers
Yes, of course I have one. Doesn't mean I'm not prepared to trade for yours, though.
This is where the bodies are buried
Talk to me
Get me the hell out of here!

Friday, July 30, 2004

Day of Words Part 2: 11:55 pm

Okay, nothing mroe done on the writing front, making the grand total for two solid days only something like 6000 words. Instead this evening I watched a bootleg copy of Hellboy which I thought was disappointingly slow-paced and an little unengaging for something with beer-swilling demons, clockwork nazis, Cthulhoid horrors and Rasputin (oh, and no points for the so-very-obvious use of Nick Cave's Red Right Hand in the soundtrack).

Since then I've been tinkering with the web page, and have done all sorts of stuff about the Starship Manticore game that Chris, Jimbo and I have been playing the last couple of weeks. Go and click on the RPG link on the left there - there's quite a bit of new material (slowly, one by one, I am eliminating the accursed filler pages bequeathed to me by Evil System Overlord Tarrant and that overeducated mollusc Doctor Clam).

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Day of Words Part 2: 4:40 pm

Lousy progress today, just under two thousand words so far. Fiona and I are meeting Fi's cousin and her vanload of friends sometime soon. They're on their way back from the snow, the lucky bastards, and we're putting them up for the night at the spare house (I love saying that, it makes us sound wealthy, although I'd rather sound wealthy by saying “My chalet at Thredbo”...but I digress).

The word count is over 80,000 and I think I can see the end in sight now. I have a more or less clear image of the plot points (or what passes for them in this mess) that I need to hit to get to the end of the story. It may get rather silly from here, as I'm pretty much just going to be wrapping things up as fast as possible. If it's been more difficult to write the second half of this story, it's because I've concluded that it needs to be completely restructured and quite possibly divided into two separate stories in the same setting (with some of the same characters). In other words, I don't have a lot invested in how this draft is going to turn out. Which is probably for the best, because there's no way it will get done otherwise.

But I think I can probably knock off another couple of thousand words if we don't go too late tonight, so I should be able to at least match yesterday's 4000. Channel 7 have done their bit to motivate me. I noticed last night that they had a “16 days to go” watermark in the corner of the screen during the Alias rerun – I interpreted that as a countdown to the Athens Olympics, which actually gives me more time to finish than I thought I had. But to be on the safe side, it would be nice if I were nearly done by Monday. So that's the plan at the moment.

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Day of Words Part 2: 10:20 am

I've taken another day off to reduce the imposing scale of the impending last-minute rush. I finished Chapter 11 last night and was marking it up just now when I had my chill well and truly harshed by some pinhead phoning to sell me a book of unbelievable free offers for only $95. Quite apart from the fact that I am so not the target market for that sort of crap, I hate it when people don't understand the basic irony (in the American sense, thanks Jimbo) of requiring that something free be paid for. And this guy would not take a polite “no thanks”, so I was forced to resort to a fairly curt “I'm going to hang up now”, to which I wanted to add “Do you really think you can get me to buy your junk by arguing with me?” and “Take this number off your goddamn list right now”.

And now I'm in a pissy, irritable mood and I have another 5000-word goal in front of me. Grrr.

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Day of Words Part 2: 12:05 am

Didn't quite get where I wanted, thanks to some prime prevarication and the scheduled break of four hours at the pub in the evening. Hammered out another thousand or so in the two hours before that, followed by another thousand since twenty to eleven. That's probably the most productive I've been all day - after three pints of Kilkenny, a very crap plate or fish and chips and most of a bottle of Vanilla Coke, which I am sure says something not altogether complimentary about me. That brings the first day's count to something like 4000 words, completes Chapter 11 (the longest to date – I'll post it up in the morning) and rounds off the wordage at just under 79,000.

Decided I'm still going to be sick again tomorrow, because this gives me a much better sense of satisfaction and because, actually, after the aforementioned menu, I'm feeling kind of awful. Hope I'm not coming down with anything.

Better get some sleep. Tune in again tomorrow for lots of unnecessary updates about how much work I am not doing.

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Thursday, July 29, 2004

Day of Words: 2:45 pm

Got some washing up done after all. And I burned a couple of Tom Waits albums to my hard drive. Needless to say, the progress isn't as going quite as well as hoped. Am in the middle of a tricky conversation and trying to decide what each of its participants is hoping to get out of it. Yes, I'm still labouring under the misapprehension that scenes should have a point. God knows when I'm finally going to get past that. I'm pretty disgusted by my lack of focus, I must say. Word count is 76,600-ish.

Worse, I'm getting hungry. I haven't eaten anything today. Okay, self, here's the deal. Get the daily count to 3000 and you can have something yummy. Deal?


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Day of Words: 12:10 pm

Progress not going as well as hoped. About 850 words done so far. Too many stops to look for nearly-remembered words and synonyms for ones I've already used three times in the same paragraph. Must stop editorialising.

Just refreshed coffee. Have already listened to Goldfrapp's 'Black Cherry' and Blur's '13'. Suspect that the washing up is not going to get done at this rate. Have only about six hours until multisports team is meeting at a pub. Have just realised that it's Ian's birthday in two days and I haven't thought about a present.

Have other distractions that I want to get to today as well, including a revamp of the roleplaying page (I'll put up the game info for the space game – I've already photoshopped a title icon), a quick writeup of the last session (which may involve setting up a new blog) and writing some game notes for the next session (I ended it on a hastily-thought-up cliffhanger which I had now better try to find an explanation for).

But for now, back to Sir Kowan. Time is 12:15 pm, word count is about 75,300.

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Day of Words: 9:25 am

Okay, this is it. No more messing around. This novel's getting done by the Olympic Games opening ceremony. I'm still not sure exactly what date that is, but it's less than two weeks now, so this is pretty much the last minute I've been waiting for.

I've spent the last two days at a project management training course, confirming all my worst suspicions about how lackadaisical I am at planning anything. This novel is a case in point. I did no planning for it, and as a result it's a meandering collision of unmotivated characters and the sketchiest of settings, punctuated at odd intervals by pointless acts of violence, stupidity and cruelty. Be that as it may, I'm going to finish the damn thing before I put it away for a while, and not just because I have a bet with Evan that involves painful acts with fish scales (or something).

I'm taking the day off work (still nothing progressing there in any case, as I learned on the phone a few minutes ago) and I'm going to type. The goal is to do 5000 words for the day. I'm not sure that's realistic, although I suppose technically it is at least possible. We'll see. I'll post updates whenever I get stuck or bored or I feel like I need a break. It's likely that that will happen often.

Coffee's brewing. Fingers are just about warmed up. Time is now 9:35 and the current word count is a shade below 74,000. I'll just upload this to Lexifab and then I'm hitting the book.

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Monday, July 26, 2004


I’ve just come back from a Posture and Fitness class (stretching, basically), which has sort of succeeded in elimination the accumulated aches and pains of the weekend. Between mulch-mowing on Saturday and five straight hours of painting on Sunday, certain muscles were starting to feel a bit put-upon. But they’re better now.

There has still been no final decision made on the reshuffle at work. I’m pretty much working for another section in the Branch entirely at the moment, since there’s nothing to be done on my own section’s work except for filing. I have the next two days off at a training course; hopefully by the time I get back on Thursday there might actually be some sort of resolution.

But who cares? Jimbo and Chris are coming for games tonight. Who knows, we might even actually play something…

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Friday, July 23, 2004

That was a waste of a week

Still nothing decided at work, so doomed to yet another week at least in the current limbo. At least next week I'll be spending two days at a training course on (irony is good for the blood) project management. So I won't be completely bored out of my skull, I guess.

Barely writing

It's getting late and I have to spend all tomorrow mulching leaves and cleaning the house for another open house. In order to make mild reparations for the last couple of days of non-productivity, I just forced myself to hammer out a little over the 400 word minimum on the novel (started a new scene, no idea where it's going, will probably head off on new tangent tomorrow). I think I'm past 75,000 words now, but it might only be 73 K.

Also finished sketching out some keywords to my Starship Manticore character, including ones for his profession (security specialist), his culture and his homeworld. It's a surprisingly easy system to work with, and broad strokes characterisation seems to work with it (just as well in my case). Here's what the cultural and homeworld keywords look like:

Chance’s Reach (Homeworld)

A waterworld in colonial space under the jurisdiction of Centaur (a core world). Settled more than 100 years ago, it has failed to provide significant economic benefits and has stagnated. Centaur has withdrawn most of its technical support, leaving No Chance (as it is often known) as a relative backwater (excuse the pun). Technology has stalled and little development takes place, although basic starport facilities are maintained – and anyone who can afford to is still able to leave more or less freely. Those that remain live in undertended ghettoes of barges, bridges, canals and freeways encircling a handful of volcanic island chains; these floating cities are called pelagra.

Typical Abilities: Operate watercraft; Operate sailcraft; Predict weather; Ocean survival; Navigate by stars; Swim long distances.

Personality Traits: Distrust Coreworlders; Hate Centaurs; Stoic; Fear advanced technology.

Typical Relationships: to Family; to Pelagra.

Bauerhan (Culture)

The Bauerhan are a cultural group made up of inhabitants of three proximate pelagra near the equator of Chance's Reach. They are born and raised tough, given their uncompromising surrounds. The Bauerhan existence mainly revolves around underwater mining operations picking at the submerged slopes of a string of mineral-rich volcanic islands, using out-of-date technology and unsafe operating techniques. Accidents are common, and the Bauerhan tend to appear unsympathetic and fatalistic to outsiders.

Abilities: Operate submersible craft; Worship Universalism; Spear fishing; Use SCUBA; Ride dolphin; Judge of dolphin flesh.

Personality Traits: Uncompromising; Fatalistic; No-nonsense.

Typical Relationships: to Universalist chapter; to Work teams.

Comments and suggestions are welcome. Jimbo and Chris will hopefully do similar writeups for their characters. I may post them all somewhere on the page later, as a game resource (if we get past more than one session, which in recent gaming memory has been a bit of a stumbling block). But now to bed, to dream of mulching and gaming and of finding the time to write another 25,000 words in the next three or so weeks...

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Thursday, July 22, 2004


Filming on the new BBC Doctor Who series has officially started in Cardiff. Look! There are two extremely non-spoilery images from the sets here and here. (But be warned, if you go and do a Google search on either of the names that appear in these images, you won’t find it too hard to stumble across spoilers. So don’t. And if you do, don’t tell me about it).

Space: The Incoherent Frontier

Jimbo and Chris came over last night, and in a last-ditch effort to get some gaming going that doesn’t resort in desperation to D&D-ish fantasy of any kind, we rolled up characters using the Casting Call: Heroes of Tomorrow character design book. This is a book with a lot of tables that can be used to randomly create an exciting background history for a character in a futuristic setting. The results were…mixed, shall we say. Chris managed to roll up two characters of noble heritage, including one who’s the son of a khanate of nomadic space travellers. I managed to roll up two unusable dweebs, one of whom is a gifted sculptor and tapesty-weaver. Sigh.

Never mind, we’re going to stat them up using the HeroQuest system and get into a quick game as soon as we can.

We’ve done a bit of basic setting design using Universalis tenets, which I will list in the Comments section below, if you’re interested and want to make suggestions.

Chris just sent a link to this very cool comic strip. The whole thing can be read in a single sitting, and should be. It’s neat.


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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

What is with these people?

The internal struggle over which section gets to be in charge of my project team and how it’s going to be run has speared up to new heights of mismanagement, acrimony and, yes, even incompetence in the last couple of days. Until now I’ve been navigating through it all with a “let the chips fall where they may” attitude, confident that there was some sort of, y’know, plan at work in the upper organisational stratosphere.

Oh no. There are agendas, certainly, but rumours of strategic thinking, change management or basic step-by-step planning are all grossly overstated. The people involved – none of whom would be paid less than 50 grand a year more than I am, mind you – lack even the most elementary communications/listening skills required to understand the other side’s concerns. The main offender, for whom I will shortly be working under the current arrangements, argues his case with repeated and increasingly incredible assertions as to his qualifications, utterly unwavering knee-jerk judgments, unfathomable hostility to demurring viewpoints and utter, utter arrogance.

Excuse me for a second. Some chick called Cassandra is trying to get my attention about something she says she’s seen.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2004


Struggled over a couple of hours to get 850 or so words written, but will candidly admit that I was overlapping that with downloading some updates from the net and overlapping that with occasional excursions into out-and-out browsing. Okay, probably more than just occasional ones. The current bit is dull, laborious, and commits the cardinal writing sin of telling, not showing. I don’t care. At this point, I’m pretty much just writing an overly detailed outline for the next draft.


Fiona and I went to her work trivia night last Friday. We kicked arse and won wine and movie tickets. I was particularly proud of being able to deduce which element was named after the solar system’s largest asteroid… I am, with no false modesty, pretty damn good at this sort of crap (although I did suck in the Arts & Literature round). Unfortunately I see no useful way to turn my talents to profit, since if I were to somehow get on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”, I would have to punch Eddie Maguire right in the teeth, which I suspect would result in my appearance being edited out.


The painting is officially underway. Fi and I did the ceilings of both upstairs rooms on Saturday (although a better-light inspection the following morning revealed the necessity for a third coat, or at least spot patching). On Sunday we recruited Jimbo to help us with the walls. A breath-arresting moment came when we opened the lid of the first of three 10 litre tins of "Blushing Peach", the wall colour we have been planning to use throughout the house. Thankfully, the colour turns out not to suck. (Just as well, too, otherwise that would have been a couple of hundred bucks wasted – Fi took a chance and made a bulk purchase a few weeks ago during a big paint sale).

We have a number of highlight colours that have yet to be tested against the wall colour, but the risk is much lower there. Even the silver-grey might work out.


Chris has demanded space roleplaying action. We were to meet last night to sketch up the setting and characters, but by then Jimbo’s Sunday cough had turned into a high-level lurgy. We’ve rescheduled for tomorrow night, after which I will post a summary for comment and additional evil suggestions.

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Friday, July 16, 2004

Tiredness creeps

Writing’s suffering this week. Too many late night writing/computer-games combos in a row contributed to a complete meltdown on Wednesday evening when I just went to bed at 7:30 and woke up the next time it was 7:30. Last night was volleyball plus an extra half-game of volleyball because another team were short, and by the time I’d finished cooking dinner after that, well, it was last and I could be arsed firing up the computer. Tonight we’ll be at Fiona’s work trivia night, which will end late. Tomorrow we’re painting. Sunday we’re painting and socialising. Monday night I’m gaming with Jimbo and Chris.

In all of this, the only possibility for writing is staying up later at night. Which makes me cranky and tired and resistant to work, of which I now have too much to do to risk neglecting anything.

This is not to make any excuses, mind you. I’m just literally wondering where I’m going to find the time to get stuck into it and finish the first draft. I may need to take some days off.

By the way – volleyball? Totally flogged. Sixty-odd to 18. I can report without false modesty that I was by far the most accomplished volleyball player in the game, but when the next few runners-up are all on the other side of the net, that don’t mean squat. Also, to add injury to insult, I managed to hit Fi in the face with a miscued back-court spike. I know, I know, they’re stupid and they never work, but I figured when you’re down by forty points, it doesn’t hurt to innovate. I won’t do it again.

There was an upside to the scoreline, though – it turns out that they were grading the teams after all. Our (overwhelming) netball and volleyball defeats should more than compensate for our (minimal) soccer win and award us a place in the bottom grade. This is good. It means that we will not automatically be slaughtered each and every week by more experienced teams, and might therefore stand a chance of a) having fun and b) improving our games. Not to mention the remote possibility of c) winning once in a while, which is necessary for my very hungry and overdeveloped competitiveness glands.

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Monday, July 12, 2004

Houses currently owned: still two

No luck at this weekend’s open house – but then again, nobody stole anything this time around, so I guess things could be worse. It’s starting to get demoralising, though, having to give up most of our Saturdays cleaning up the house and garden, just to have people race from room to room for a couple of minutes, compliment us on the tidiness or the colour scheme or the backyard or whatever, and leave.

Since the change in ACT legislation requires that vendors have to organise their own building and pest inspections, which are valid for three months, we’ve decided that we might as well keep trying to sell until the end of September, and in the meantime keep renovating the new house. If we haven’t had a result by then, we have a couple of choices – rent out the old house (bad because there are no tax benefits), rent out the new house (which means shifting Fiona’s brother out and having tenants potentially trash the work we’ve already done, but tax-wise a sound idea) or just huddle in a corner with one huge mortgage and no extra cash coming in (not really an option). None of these options is particularly compelling…

Snail’s pace renovations

As opposed to those ones you see on TV, our renovation of the two upstairs rooms is proceeding at a less than blitzy rate. Yesterday we managed to more or less finish the preparations (in the process discovering that even strict adherence to the “measure twice, cut once” principle still can’t eliminate the possibility of dumbarsed carpentry errors), except for some patching work that we’ll probably knock off tonight. Then it’s all go for everybody’s favourite bit – the painting. Anyway, we’ll have the first two rooms – and the first indication of whether our colour scheme is going to work out – done pretty soon.

Wine-soaked celebration

Had a quiet little do for Jimbo’s 30th over at Ian and Sonnie’s place on Saturday night. Or at least, most of us had a quiet time. Norbet the Deaf Staffy, on the other hand, demonstrated extremes of confusion and agitation at all the guests, resulting in much psychotic behaviour, several expulsion outside and, in the end, my getting drenched in a very nice 2002 Brown Brothers merlot. But apart from that, we had a fun night, and Ginge and Son gave us each a voucher for a massage for our birthdays. I think we’ll probably use them the day after our first full painting session.

Ted’s okay. Better than okay, as it happens

With magicdog vs. Tokyo not updated for several weeks, we’d been beginning to wonder whether Ted had fallen foul of a dodgy karaoke session or something. But no, there’s an email in my inbox this morning, the contents of which I am dying to divulge (but won’t because presumably at some point he will mention it in his own weblog), which confirms he’s both alive and internet-able. Still jobless and functionally illiterate in his adopted country, sad to say, but definitely in one piece.

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Friday, July 09, 2004

Word on the streets...

is that Chapter 10 is finally up. Check it out and marvel at what I think may be the longest paragraph I have ever written.

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Better novel progress = More tedious word count boasts

Started writing at 11 pm last night, and ninety minutes and just over one thousand words later, Chapter 10 was done and done. I started work on that monster in early May, and it seemed like I was never going to finish it. But this week the momentum is well and truly back and I have at least a reasonable idea of what’s coming up in the next chapter (which will not be the last, but may be the penultimate), so I expect that it will not be quite so agonising to complete as this one was.

It’s not posted up on the Writing page yet, though. After a long and bitter struggle with my word processor’s insistence on American spelling, I decided I was much too tired to attempt to deal with Dreamweaver as well. Look for it there first thing this evening, if you’re interested.


The transition to the new project management structure is looking increasingly to be driven by the black forces of arrogance and delusion rather than angels of planning and communication. I will say no more, beyond observing that my previous preference – to stay with the project and insinuate myself indispensably into the new team – is looking less and less like a better option than becoming an auditor.


Well, after the heroic triumph of being slightly less incompetent at soccer than our opposition, “Next Week for Sure” got a big old serving from the loser spoon last night with our inaugural netball game. Facing off against a team with a couple of club players and a year’s multisports experience, we were well and truly outclassed in all but the final quarter (when they had one guy sent off for being a smartarse to the referee). Final score: 20 to 6. And that was considerably less of a shellacking than I was expecting after the first quarter (six-to-zip).

Happily, this week I actually contributed to the scoreline, sinking one goal from…um, about six attempts. Next project: to learn how to be play the Centre position, which looks like it might suit my ‘style’ (or at least, the style I expect to have once I have internalised some of the rules).

Next week is volleyball, where I am on much firmer ground but where everyone else claims to suck. That stands to make victory a little uncertain…

Amnesty donations = new Who!

Kate Orman, Doctor Who writing diva extraordinaire, is offering to write somewhat-personalised Who in exchange for donations to Amnesty International. I only mention it because I think it’s a fine idea, and because I am considering what would be the most evil Doctor/companion combination I could suggest when I make my donation (at this point I’m thinking Fifth + Tegan + Adric + Nyssa…).

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Thursday, July 08, 2004


The last few days, the writing has started coming back together, with an average of around 750 words per session. But it’s coming at a cost. I’m writing pretty late and waking up at six. And every since we took the heater over to the other house, the study has been cold. Last night I think I got through my word count faster than ever before, just because I was so desperate to get out of that damned freezer.

Of course, that didn’t stop me from playing computer games for an hour after I finished…

You have selected ‘Unnamed’

Ev’s latest CD arrived in the mail yesterday. Not sure what it’s called – Ev’s handwriting is second only to my Nan’s for being genuinely indecipherable – but based on some squinting at the label from several angles, I’m calling it ‘Lothario’ or ‘Catharsis’ (although if it’s the latter, it was misspelled). I’ve only given it one listen through so far, but it’s certainly got some very strong material on it. ‘Winter’s Savage Fall’ and ‘Banish Me’ are fabulous songs that have already made their way onto the iPod…in my mind (sorry, pop culture reference that I can’t link to unless I get an Onion Premium account, which I am too cheap to do). I think he may have skewed the best material to the second half of the album, though. I’ll have to listen to it some more.

Where am I working today?

Just got back from a discussion with the Branch Head, in which he clarified that there is a great deal of uncertainty about what’s going to happen to my job. Which I knew, but it’s always nice to have someone in authority acknowledge that nobody knows what the hell is going on. He did assure me that I needn’t fear for my job and that if everything falls over with the project then I could go and work with our auditors.

Uh, huh. Thanks.

Actually, he really was doing the right thing by me, but unless the IT section completely bungle this handover period, I’m guessing that I will stay with the project. That’s certainly my preference. Audit? Brrrr.


Queensland forfeited the State of Origin last night by forgetting to cheat and neglecting to tackle, but at least I had a yummy dinner with Fiona and Linda and some beers. That just about made up for the acute embarrassment of watching a professional sports event that even I could have made a positive impact on…

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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Happy birthday! Celebrating the big Three-Oh!!

Little brother Jimbo is now officially capital-O Old, hitting a senescent 30 years old today. Let’s all wish him the very best by reminding him that he is, in fact, very very old now. And by buying him stuff. He likes stuff.

Late breaking Jimbo update: I just talked to him on the phone. He’s still working at Repco for a few more days. He’s spending most of his birthday picking up garbage. Send him your love and sympathy.

Hmm. This book really isn’t going to write itself.

Hit the book again last night, thanks to two separate motivators: one, Fiona got wind from Evan of the terms of our novel-writing bet, the loser of which, he implies, is required to rub live fish on his groin (I honestly cannot conceive of making a wager with such a grotesque penalty, however I freely concede I may have been foolish enough to allow him to name the terms); two, last night’s end-to-end news coverage of the Greek victory in the European Champions Cup, it happened to be reported that there are 40 days to go to the opening of the Athens Olympics. One quick calculation later revealed that if I write 500 words a day from then until now, I will arrive at a reasonably respectable total of 85,000 words for the first draft of The Attempted Novel (which really, really needs a better working title than Bard Wars).

Last night I wrote one 850 word scene. Tonight I may write have to write another. Come on, Sense of Procrastination! The Deadline is calling you out! Bring it on!


Our new multisports team, “Next Week for Sure”, played its first game last Thursday. Soccer. All things considered, we did pretty well. Alistair and Chris are impenetrable goalies; Christine is a champion defender (she remembers to stay back and defend, Greece-like in her tactical genius); Kate and Sue are fearless sweep-strikers (an indoor soccer net is not really large enough to differentiate these positions); Ian and I are decent passers and hopeless chokers when it comes to scoring. All in all, exhausting fun was had, and we did, in fact, win 3-1 (and Kate only let a goal in after she had been hit in the back of the head by the crossbar of the goal net, so that one doesn’t count).

This week: netball. I still have never touched a netball. Could be tricky.

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Monday, July 05, 2004

Grandma Versace

My grandmother, Mavis Wilson Versace, passed away on Wednesday night, the 30th of June 2004, aged somewhere around 90 (I’m not sure of her exact age, but she and Grandfather married in 1934). She had suffered a series of strokes the week before and died in her sleep with my cousin Donna at her bedside, around 10:30 pm. Dad flew down to Toowoomba for her funeral on Saturday. It was attended by far more people than had been expected, a fact of which I find myself both vicariously proud and faintly guilty. I didn’t get myself together in time to attend.

It’s difficult for me to describe how I feel about her death. It’s sad that she’s no longer in the world and the part of me that knew her best - the child that made long hot trips down to Toowoomba every year, fighting with my brothers in the back seat of the Holden - mourns her loss. But since Grandfather died about fifteen years ago, she has been withdrawing from the world a bit at a time. She suffered from increasing dementia and physical frailty, she became blind in first one eye and then both and when she could no longer live alone, she needed to move into a care home. In her final years she no longer knew most of the children and grandchildren who cared for and visited her. I am more sad about those years full of – what? Pain? Anger? Loneliness? – than I am at her death.

The annual family holidays south are long in the past now. I haven’t seen Grandma Versace in eight or nine years, perhaps more. She never got to meet Fiona; I very much regret that she never will.

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