Friday, January 9, 2009

Snap. Crackle. Fuck!

I think I've broken the smallest toe on my left foot. I don't really want to look at it too closely this morning to be sure, but the fact that it's painful as hell, swollen, immobile and throbbing suggests to me I may indeed have done myself a mischief there.

It's all the fault of the unspeakably large huntsman spider lurking behind the hall cupboard at the bottom of the stairs. I was walking away from the front door last night, about ten or so, when I saw movement from the corner of my right eye. Hairy, multilegged movement.

As one does, I adjusted my path to the left, swinging my left foot out and forward to both make some distance between me and the Chthulhian horror, and set my balance for a quick pivot step so I could get the hairy horror full in my sights. Unfortunately, I did this while keeping my eyes on the vile, eldritch thing, and in so doing I rammed my little toe into the wooden edge of the stair, where it meets the floor.

There was an ugly little cracking noise. And a white star of pain. That lasted.

By the time my brain had cleared the overload, the colossal spider had retreated entirely behind the cupboard where it lurked, tittering sadistically. Hideously Hirsute Horror from Hell: 1. Flinthart: 0.

We've finished the swimming lessons, thank fuck. Yesterday, grimly determined that the Mau-Mau would float on her back, I spent fifteen full minutes cradling her and swishing her through the water while singing the long selection of bloodthirsty Irish melodies I always used to send her to sleep as a baby. Sure, the other parents stared at me a lot... but after a full fifteen minutes (Shule Aroon, Skye Boat, Hills of Connemara, Follow Me Up To Carlow, Molly Malone, Whiskey In The Jar) she finally relaxed to the point where the palm of my hand under her head was sufficient.

She wasn't happy about it. But she was relaxed, and she floated. Good enough for me.

Today Natalie is taking the kids into Launceston for the afternoon. She's returning one medical student -- bye, Kerri! -- to the airport at 3.30, and picking up the next one -- hello, Katie! -- at 5.30, so the kids will get a feed at Morty's Food Court and I won't have to pay attention to dinner tonight.

That's good, because tomorrow Natalie catches a flight out at about ten in the morning. She'll be gone for a week, playing fiddle at the Celtic Summer School in Victoria - hot, dry, and horrid, but she does love her fiddle, and there are no kids under her feet for that time. I, on the other hand, shall be playing sole parent for a week. Lucky me.

The strawberries are winding down, though I can see the second wave will be coming soon. The loganberries are now in full blast - I can't pick them fast enough! - and the raspberries have just about peaked. Some of the local blueberry farms have opened their gates, but my bushes haven't ripened yet, here on our mountainside. I've picked all but one of the lettuces. Must put in some more very soon. In the meantime, the tomatoes have flowered. I expect big, ripe tomatoes in a few weeks, if I can keep the goddam locusts at bay.

In other news: I've taken up doing reviews of print material for the Cool Shite lads. Their site gets ungodly traffic, but hitherto they've specialized in video and gaming material. Still, their major interest is speculative stuff: SF, Horror, Fantasy... so it seems to me that reviewing the printed stuff that gives rise to the movies and games isn't a bad idea. And if it means that publishers send me books to review, that's all good. I like that plan.

Meanwhile, I'm at work on a couple short stories and a manuscript for (yes, okay!) a Red Priest novel, so here we are: week two of the new year, and I'm already full-on, flat-out.

Oh well. Rest is for the weak.

Now, if you'll excuse me... I just glanced out the window and realized that the dog is atop the picnic table with the two smaller kids. They have a big box of sidewalk chalks, and they're colouring the dog a fine range of pastel shades. That would be fine, except he's jumping and wrestling and snapping, and if he knocks the Mau-Mau off the tabletop, she'll doubtless come down headfirst onto the edge of the paving-stone patio, and I'll never hear the end of it.