Friday, November 9, 2012

Well, Yes. I've Been Busy.

So. Early in September, we took off on a "holiday". Let me give you just a touch more information there.

The first week of the 'holiday' saw us up in Cairns, in a couple rooms at a very shiny hotel. That's not my kind of holiday, but there was a reason: Natalie was facilitating a sizable medical conference... which left yours truly to be Parent In Charge for most of that week.

It could have been worse, sure. I caught up with old friends. Rented a car, cruised up and down the coast. We took a family day, rode the Kuranda Train to the top of the range, and came back down via the cable-car through the rainforest, all of which was pretty cool. But let's be honest here: I spent a lot of time shepherding three very temperate kids through the tropics, and they weren't too happy about that.

Once the medical conference finished, we spent a few days staying with my dad, up the back of the Atherton Tablelands, near Mareeba. That was pretty good too. I made father do the grampa thing, and take Genghis fishing in the little creek near his house. Father was sceptical, but I know enough about freshwater fishing up in that part of the world to have an edge. And so, armed with a small spool of line, an oversized suicide hook and a big lead sinker, they added a bit of raw chicken, and trundled down to sit on a log overlooking the creek. And sure enough: one very nice perch, which flabbergasted my father, and delighted Genghis beyond all measure. He had it for breakfast the next morning.

It was nice to catch up with the old chap, and my defacto stepmum, but of course, we were guests in their house. And that's not my kind of holiday either. Not complaining, though. It went well. We visited a friend of theirs who keeps reptiles as a hobby; the kids got to handle pythons and shingleback lizards, which was cool. We also took in a bird sanctuary at Kuranda, where excessively friendly parrots settled on us, and perplexed the tourists who couldn't figure out why me, my father, and the two boys were constantly surrounded by birds when other folks couldn't entice them down with bags of bird-treats. (Hint: if you want the birds to come to you, sit still, you idiots. If you scream and jump and flinch every time a bird settles on your shoulder, they rapidly conclude you're a bloody lunatic, and they avoid you afterwards.)

After that, we took the Sunlander train down to Brizneyland. That's about a thirty-six hour trip, covering something like 1800km. We took two sleeping cabins, figuring the kids had never done long-distance train stuff before. It was expensive, and interesting enough to do once. But never again. Small children in a small cabin pretty rapidly become problematic.

In Briz, I had plans to catch up with people... but it all went sideways. We stayed with Roz and Steve, which was pretty cool, but the Briz vista was broken up with a weekend trip across the border (another rented car!) to northern NSW for Natalie's sister's wedding, complete with two nights in some kind of rural retreat thingee.

The wedding was very cool. Nat's sister is a sweetie, and her new husband is a sharp individual. Their wedding vows were hilarious... he promised to get shit down off high shelves and open jars; she promised not to complain if he didn't pick up all his clothing; he promised to stop regarding the outdoors as his enemy; she promised to treat a weekend watching The West Wing with the same appreciation as hiking up a mountainside, etc.

Somehow I got dragooned into helping decorate the big barn where the reception was held. Being me, I promptly went to the local reject shop and spent a hundred bucks on weird shit: little garden gnomes, slightly naked fairies, a rubber chicken, lots of glow-bracelets, supersour lollies, and other peculiarities. I figured if I was going to be pressed into service, then I was going to have some fun while I was at it...

... but it backfired. The glow-bracelets were met with the greatest of delight. The rubber chicken was a centrepiece, eventually having its head bitten off by a drunken reveller and sacrificed on the midnight bonfire. The bride herself took home the plaster meerkat, and nobody noticed that some of the candy was terrifyingly sour. So, all up: an excellent jape for all concerned. Made me happy, and cheered up a bunch of others as well. Best of all, my wife and her stepmum both knew about it in advance, and were more than a little alarmed.

Then we went back to Briz. Stayed with Roz and Steve again, and then made the trip to my sister's place. And frankly, there just wasn't time to chase people down, and I regret that, but as you can see, with us staying on people's couches and attending weddings and stuff, it wasn't really a farking holiday at all.

I should also add the following: since early September, I have written ninety-eight thousand words of fiction. I have written a couple thousand words of very hardcore Byronesque poetry. I have written five thousand words of academic stuff. I have presented a paper on the progress of my MA. I have built a quail enclosure. I have graded twenty-odd ju-jitsu students over a two week period. I have also taken part in the judging of the Conflux writing competition, alongside two other fine writer-types.

This is, of course, on top of the usual routine for this part of the  year.  So yes. You're right. I've not been posting around here.

Did you miss the bit about ninety-eight thousand words of fiction in a little over two months? Go away! Stop hassling me!