Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

November 29, 2014

NotNaNo Days 28-29 – The end draws close

Filed under: green-ish thumb,news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , , — lexifab @ 11:28 pm

I’m in that delightful state of momentary grace, after a hard day of savagely ripping the garden apart in the hot sun and before my muscles become so sore that I feel like vomiting for hours on end. O, the joys on intermittent bursts of hard labour.

On the plus side, the overgrown pergola in the backyard has been stripped back to a non-vegetative state for the first time since we bought our house, nine years ago. Laid bare, we’ve confirmed our suspicions that it’s both ugly and an odd balance of ramshackle and impervious. The steel frame of the wooden table in its centre has been cemented directly into the concrete slab. It might be possible to cut the legs off and flatten them out with an angle grinder, but I’m coming to the conclusion that a jackhammer will be a quicker and more effective means of cleaning the space up.

(Note that I am talking myself into hiring power tools. This never ends well.)

On the assumption that by tomorrow evening – the end of the month-long write-and-blog experiment – I will be too sore to move, let alone write for extended periods, I decided I’d better put in a slightly longer stint tonight than I have been lately. Two hours of writing produced almost twice the number of words that a normal stint of forty minutes or so would. It doesn’t look like I know how to accelerate. Mind you, a lot of that time was spent transcribing the long list of character names from the last couple of night’s writing into an index so I know who all these people are. That’s done now, so I should be able to stop mucking about with prep work for the next little bit of the story.

The piece I’m writing now has the working title of The Countess. Judging by the 2000 words or so that I’ve cranked out on it so far, I’m guessing it will be a longish short story, maybe over 10,000 words. Then again I seem to be writing in my usual expansive style, dropping in story seeds and extra setting detail, that is peripheral to the story at hand. It’s possible that when I’m done a lot of that world building stuff will turn out to be useless and readily dropped.

Third Violin has been through four rounds of edits and is probably close to being as good as I can make it before the deadline for submission (30 November, in the US). I’ll give it another pass tomorrow, but with no time for a substantial rewrite I will have to hope I don’t stumble across any new problems.

Tally: 450 (Friday) and 840 (Saturday)

New fiction words for the month: 13, 380 + 1290 = 14, 670, which leaves me with a nice gentle jog to the finish line to get to my target of 15,000 for the month. Yay!

The sweeping curve of the filleting knife glinted with a wicked edge. She never allowed any of her tools to dull, but this one, the offering with which Vandolph had proposed, she prized above all.


March 12, 2013

Epic of the Hedgefence

Canberra just had a three-day weekend. Instead of celebrating our fair national capital’s graduation from nappies to undies (which is about where I would put the first centenary in the life-cycle of a city), the family hit the front yard for some landscaping. Although come to think of it, I guess contributing to the beautification of the city is more than I’ve put back into Canberra’s cultural character in a while. So let’s call it three days of intense, exhausting participation in the social fabric where I swung a pick, dug a lot of stuff and barely spoke to anyone.

We’ve already done several weekends worth of prep work but there was still a lot to get through, digging about eight meters of trenches, flattening out some grassy mounds, planting and digging in two dozen pot plants, burying a soaker hose for irrigation and mulching it in. On Saturday night I was so sore around the shoulders and chest that I couldn’t breathe deeply. Still awake at two in the morning with spasms radiating from the centre of my chest outwards, I confess to harbouring the slight suspicion that I might have overdone it and given myself some sort of heart condition. (Why it is that my brain will always go straight to health crises and existential doom scenarios when it is overtired and sick of pain but it never thinks to pop some bloody paracetamol is a question for the ages…)

But it was worth it, right? We now have a hedge of Viburnum something-or-other forming an aesthetically pleasing barrier between us and the passing world. Which, you know, seeing as we are largely housebound introverts, it will suit us fine. At least, it will in about three to five years, when the hedge has grown sufficiently to form a proper screen and has achieved sufficient density to prevent, say, a ball from bouncing into the street.

It currently looks like a sparse square of shrubs surrounding a mildly uneven mound of bare dirt which might one day become lawn. It’s a vast improvement over the random jumble of rocks, lattice walls overgrown with savage roses, thick masses of ivy, ground flowers and unmowable grass clumps and inexplicable pottery shard that were there before the scourge of the bobcat.

There’s more to do: another row of planting along the front wall; cleaning up and levelling the parts that will eventually be grassed; groundcover and secondary planting in various patches. And then after all that, we’ll be going through the whole thing again with the (much larger) back yard. There’s trees to be removed, terraced steps to install, garden beds to raise, sheds to demolish… Ugh. I have a suspicion that it may, in fact, never end.

This gardening lark is starting to look like a bit of a trap.

Send help. BYO sturdy gloves.

November 4, 2009

Long weekend

Filed under: green-ish thumb,the renovated life,Uncategorized — lexifab @ 12:01 am

So, I guess a horse probably won a race in Melbourne, but being out of an office environment and away from people with a genuine, if temporary, interest in the ponies made it very easy to stay largely ignorant of the outcome this year. I understand that there was a startling late scratching and a surprise winner, which makes 2009 the functional equivalent of every other year I can remember.

The weather forecasts threatened showers and storm all weekend, one of which finally eventuated on Monday night sometime around 11:30. By that time it was rather late to take back my decision not to finish painting the patio. This would have been the prefect opportunity for that, so it’s a pity that I put it off for nothing. Still, I did get time to plant this year’s crop of assorted herbs and (most important) six separate cherry tomato plants, which should just about keep the insatiable maw of the Joey quiet for at least some of the summer. Over the past couple of weeks we’ve also cleared several tonnes of green waste from about the place – after a few wet weeks in early spring the whole garden was pretty much completely out of control. Mind you it’s not quite cleared up yet, but we were under some time constraints to get as much done as possible before Fiona’s dad moves to Shepparton and takes his trailer with him. The place does look marginally less disreputable now though, so it has been worthwhile. Gotta get back to finishing the patio though – Joey needs a safe outdoor play area and we are very soon going to need somewhere outside to sit and drink beers on hot summer afternoons. We’ve already had some days creeping up past 30, which is disagreeable for a Canberra spring.

Agh. I’m blogging about the goddamn weather, aren’t I? Time I was sleeping, probably.

I’ll try to get better at this again soon.

October 24, 2009

By gor, it’s been a while

I’m playing catch up on another month of missed posts but not for the usual reasons of boredom and/or relentless procrastination. Since that last post it’s just been sort of relentless, and even though the last week has seen things settle more or less back to routine, finding the time to sit down and write about it hasn’t been easy. It’s only the fact that it is now the middle of the night and I’m up to watch the start of the 20-20 cricket final live from India that I’ve got some free space.

I expect that this will be even more random, rambling and out of sequence than usual, for which I’d be stupid to make any sort of apology. I certainly won’t be going back to edit. You’ve been warned.


May 8, 2009

Now departing Your Nation’s Capital

Gazza and the family have bailed out on Canberra and headed north to more sensible climes, after four or five years hereabouts. Son has been offered the chance to work remotely and has unsurprisingly exercised it, so they’ve packed up and decamped to a location with better access to beaches and a total lack of freezing winters. As I sit here in my dining room shivering and wondering why I’m not under a doona, I can sort of see their point.

They stayed with us on Tuesday night. As you might expect of a household suddenly containing three times as many little boys, the occasion was more frantic and loud than solemn. Everyone was a bit too busy and/or stuffed to really get teary-eyed on the night, though the mood when they headed off first thing the next morning was a bit more melancholy. I suddenly felt like I was only just getting used to actually having them here in the same town as us (which is ridiculous, but there you go).

We are definitely going to miss having the boys around and the Joey is going to have to find someone else to grow up with other than his cousins. It’s going to be strange to go back a few years to the situation where we would have to make a road trip north in order to catch up with them, though of course holiday road trips to visit relatives is a long and proud tradition in our family. We’re not likely to be able to manage it this year, but we’re looking forward to making it a regular thing again.

Haven’t heard from them yet but they should be there by now. I can only imagine what the trip must have been like with two rambunctious boys and an energetic but deaf Staffordshire terrier in the back seat. I guess something like all the road trips from our childhood – which time seems thankfully to have dulled into only pleasant memories – but with airconditioning and better access to bearable music.

Shortly thereafter, the Joey descended onto some kind of sadness-generating sniffles, which apparently necessitated a highly protracted demonstration of the depths of his emotional trauma and personal sadness. So yesterday was just terrific…

Today, however, there was new Lost, and all was right with the world. I am cautiously coming to the happy conclusion that when it finishes next year, it will turn out to have been one of the most remarkable (by which I mean a number of things, not the least of which is “really fucking good”) television programs ever made. Unless they screw it up at the end, that is, which is equally possible.

My winter vegetables have fought off the first of what I expect will be many waves of caterpillars, with some casualties. Everything seems to be coming along, though it’s either the cauliflower or broccoli (the former, I think) which seems to be ahead on points at the moment. The red onions appear to be performing unremarkably, and everything else has at least one or two representatives that are aware they are in a race. Assuming the moths don’t land any reinforcements in the next few weeks, I should have some idea of what’s actually going to turn out some edible produce.

In the meantime, we need to find some time to finish work on the patio before it becomes too cold to actually paint it. Also, we need to finish so that we can start on the next exciting project, which will be converting the garage into a gaming room (albeit one with workbenches and power tools).

Busy busy busy.

(Afterthought: shit, speaking of busy, this week has completely gotten away from me vis a vis Mothers’ Day shopping. Guess I know what I’m doing tomorrow…)

April 5, 2009

Winter vegetables

Filed under: green-ish thumb — lexifab @ 6:06 pm

I am paying the price for spending three or so hours gardening with a pre-existing medical condition (i.e. the stupid cold that stupidly appeared from nowhere last night making me feel crappy and stupid and not at all inclined to use a thesaurus) but the good news is that the winter vegetables are now in place. The recklessly overcrowded bed currently sports leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, red onions and celery. I have never deliberately grown any of these plants before, so it will be interesting to see which ones pull through. I see the whole thing as a Darwinist cage fight for genetic superiority, with my soup pot being the ultimate arbiter of victory.

I am, of course, happy to settle for a seven-way draw.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go cough and mix cold medication and Jimbo’s homebrew dark ale.

December 24, 2008

Ah, strenuous physical labour, how I have missed you.

Filed under: green-ish thumb,the renovated life — lexifab @ 9:00 am

Fiona is on holidays, and that means that it’s Project Time. This summer’s exciting duty is restoring the front patio to usable condition – tearing down and replacing the corrugated plastic roofing, rendering the front brick wall, fixing the gutters and (hopefully) clearing the downpipe, and stripping and repainting everything. So of course on Monday I spent the afternoon semi-relevantly cutting back an overhanging tree and carting two tonnes of lumber to the green waste dump so that in a few months time I can buy it back as mulch or something.

Now I ache, and the sanding hasn’t even started yet.

October 8, 2008

Ah, McCain! and other stories

Apropos of the second US presidential debate coming up in a couple of hours, here’s a recent article about John McCain from the wonderfully partisan pages of Rolling Stone. It’s interesting fare, though I was already familiar with most of it (apart from the rather egregious details of the so-called Keating Five affair in the 80’s). The whole article has a tone of savage anger, seeming outraged that such a person could have the effrontery to run for the White House. (Edit: I meant to start the following sentence with “Despite the jaw-dropping bias against its subject”) It seems to do at least a passing job of separating on-the-record facts and off-the-record dirt and opinion, though, so I guess the fun part will be seeing which bits are validated by not being slapped with lawsuits. 

Yesterday was Simon’s birthday (happy birthday Si!) which most of us celebrated by starting a new D&D game, and which he celebrated by having long chats with family members :). There was also cake, I should stress. We gave him a big stack of DVDs, because he doesn’t have enough of those.

Sunday was the sixth anniversary of my wedding to Fi. Celebrations were somewhat low key. We went to several nurseries and looked for suitable pots to set up a living childproof barrier on the front patio (failed), then we dug in for some slacking and sticky wine and a cheese platter in front of the rugby league grand final. (Obvious I have completed the transformation to Canberran latte-sipping elite!). I was quietly pleased to see the Melbourne Storm – whose tactics this season have been a little regressive, to put it mildly – soundly trounced, even if it did mean Manly won something.

The ragamuffin child was sick for the whole of the October long weekend, poor little ratbag. Not sick enough to take him to the doctor’s until yesterday, mind you, just snuffling and coughing and off his food and drink a bit. Viral bronchiolitis was the verdict, an inflammation of the lungs. Can be serious, but luckily the bub wasn’t showing any of the troubling symptoms (we wouldn’t have waited four days to take him to get checked out, believe me). Just sad and sore throated. and clingy. And incapable of sleeping through the night or allowing anyone else to do so. Bit tired this morning.

Important garden news: nothing dead yet. Well, heaps of snails, but I am prepared to live with my conscience on that score. The dill, which again was a total failure last year, has doubled in size in a week. I look forward to developing my agricultural skills to guard my family’s welfare against the imminent collapse of the economy, breakdown in supply networks and sudden disastrous lack of availability of french tarragon and chives. (Note to self – still have not located black market source of tarragon seedlings. Must contact underground sources, set up meeting with shady fixers in darkened greenhouse).

I have less than a month of work left. This is sad, because I would much rather that it be over NOW NOW NOW GODAMMIT NOW!


September 29, 2008

Bedsful of edibles

Filed under: green-ish thumb — lexifab @ 2:53 pm

Decent weather and a lack of more pressing engagements finally coincided on Saturday to permit the wholescale renovation of our sadly overgrown herb garden. The program has expanded this year. We now have three beds prepared and planted with a much wider range of goodies: two different types of tomatoes, half a dozen mixed capsicum varieties, shallots, chives, parsley, rocket, coriander and basil, to go with the mint, oregano, thyme and rosemary plants which survived the winter and the dill which, having failed last year, seeded itself and looks extraordinarily healthy. We wanted to add sage and tarragon but couldn’t find any (will continue the research!) and I will chuck two garlic bulbs which have thrown shoots in the kitchen into a spare corner just to see what happens.

Hopefully this will save a bit of money as well as give me an excuse to spend some time outdoors with the bub. Not that he cares about growing yummy herbs and veges yet.

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