It’s been a short while since any meaningful content, but perhaps this picture may serve as a form of explanation as to why.
Weeks of short-term accommodation homelessness have been navigated. Home is achieved. Today, the box fort arrives…
It’s been a short while since any meaningful content, but perhaps this picture may serve as a form of explanation as to why.
Weeks of short-term accommodation homelessness have been navigated. Home is achieved. Today, the box fort arrives…
Finance approved. Crushing poverty is ours!
Oh, and the new house.
The move to Perth is just that little bit closer.
This is it. Everything is packed. Everything is put away. Everything’s been disconnected. Tomorrow the truck comes, and the Batthaim is no more.
We’ve been here over five and a half years. It’s the longest I’ve been in a single house since I shared a two bedroom duplex with my Mum and younger brother when I was a teenager, 23 years ago.
My bonus son, Aiden, reached adulthood and embarked on his own life from here. Miss 13 graduated Primary School here. Master 10 was home schooled here. We’ve had grandchildren, boarded adult family members and childrens’ friends, struggled with major illness. I sold my first novel here, and my second and third. Luscious became an educator, and fought tooth and nail to advance her tertiary education. Our kids learned to swim in this house, to ride bikes, to read and write. We’ve lived here, when all is said and done, really lived, that sort of life you promise yourself when you move to a seaside town from the city.
It’s a white elephant of a house. The gardens are too big and the weeds have never been under control. The reticulation is a bitch to operate. There’s not a right angle in the fucking place. You can’t reach the ceiling in the foyer to clean it. The taps screech and scream and not one of the washers we’ve fitted over the years has solved it. The patio was designed by a five year old with crayon poisoning, so that the rain pours down onto the seating area instead of away from it. We don’t get terrestrial TV, The mortgage is too high and we’ve struggled to afford it and maintain any sort of standard of living for the kids. I’ve grown to dislike it terribly. I’ll be glad to see the back of it.
And yet, it’s been our home. Really our home. It’s been a significant part of our lives. No matter where I’ve been since, the house I lived in with my parents between the ages of 8 and 13, before it all went to shit and they divorced, is the one I think of as my childhood home, the place where my memories really began. This will be that house for my children, I think: when they look back on their childhoods, this will be the place where their memories really begin. And now we’re leaving it behind.
It’s for a better deal, there’s no two ways about it– the place we’re moving to is closer to my work, close to Miss 13’s secondary college, closer to all the places we choose to spend our time when we’re out and about, deep in the heart of Rockingham– my old town, my home town. It’s more compact, less sprawling and unwieldy. It’s more manageable, more affordable, newer, better built. The gardens are smaller. We’ll have more money, more time, more leisure. There’s no down side to this move.
But still, this is our home. The Batthaim. And now we’re leaving it.
We’re going to need a new name.
This is Spike.
So here we are, then. The 9th of November. By nano stats, that means I should have completed 15 000 of my
unholy mess novel as of tonight. That means that, as of tonight, I’m only 7.56 days behind where I’m supposed to be!
But, like Jesus said when his Mum wanted to know who pinched all the tuna sandwiches, I have a hell of an excuse. Let’s break it down, shall we?
Wednesday 29 October: Agree with Luscious Lyn that the Batthaim has become too big, expensive, difficult to maintain and draining. Decide to sell the place.
Thursday: Appoint real estate agent we’ve been sniffing around for a while. Receive list of final renovations necessary to bring house up to saleable standard.
Saturday 1 November: Received square metre of soil. Spend half a day carting the bastarding thing out to the back yard to fill the giant empty garden bed that’s been sat there empty for two years. Plant colourful plants. Trim giant sprawling half-dead passionfruit plant. Patch cracks in upstairs room ceiling and kids bathroom. Do some actual writing, by virtue of mad panic and previously undiscovered wizard powers.
Sunday: More patching, sanding, and carting heavy bloody things all over the place. Pack family up and sod off for an hour while real estate agent brings people through.
Monday: Write the 2 thousandth and change words on the novel. Do shoulder stretches. Use bendy shoulder muscles to help pat myself on back.
Tuesday: Accompany Luscious to hospital. Be supportive husband while she undergoes horrendously invasive surgery.
Wednesday: Continue husband support role while trying to persuade increasingly grumpy wife that resting in bed does not involve any form of cleaning up or housework. More patching. More fucking sanding. More fucking painting.
Wednesday evening: Pack sore and sorry wife into car and spend what’s supposed to be an hour at cafe while real estate agent brings people around the house even though he’s been bloody told specifically not to do this today because Luscious is supposed to be resting and not gallivanting around the bloody neighbourhood.
Slightly later Wednesday evening: Real estate agent sells Batthaim. Becomes best friend for life.
Thursday: Packing. Lots and lots of packing.
Friday: Meet with mortgage broker just to make sure we can afford to actually move and won’t end up living in a shopping trolley and smelling like cat pee.
Yesterday: Fucking patch. Fucking sand. Fucking paint. Get in car and drive round and round and round suburb of choice looking at interminable series of ugly, run down and general piece of shit house I wouldn’t use for a crack house, never mind a place of residence.
Saturday, 3pm: Find the perfect house. Cry tears of relief. Wipe eyes, Put in an offer.
Rest of yesterday: drive from Baldivis to Southern Bloody River because the idiot not-local real estate agent didn’t actually have the forms to sign an offer. Sit around for the better part of two hours while idiot not-local real estate faffs about like an idiot, including actually having to read the forms to himself to make sure he’s got the right damn forms…… out of there by 6pm, nobody dies, it’s a close-run thing.
Late last night: idiot real estate agent rings. Lyn. I think he worked out who best to speak to. Our offer is accepted.
All today, starting at 6.20am and finishing at gone 5pm when I stopped caring about life: MORE FUCKING SANDING AND PAINTING. Empty, box, clean and deconstruct entire shed. Entire. Damn. Shed.
Yeah, so, all of which is an overly dramatic way of saying, hey, what a week: the Luscious one has had surgery, we’ve sold our house and have bought a new one, and for the rest of the year we’ll be packing and organising finances and– all being as per instructions– we’ll be moving house the day before Christmas.
Turns out, Real Life ™ trumps writing. Who knew?
So the secret to blogging success, apparently, is to do it regularly. Pick a day of the week, or two or more, and no matter what, make an entry on that day. You build up trust within your readership, and regular updates lead to repeat readership.
Lot of wevver we’ve been ‘avin, innit? 🙂
So it’s been more than a month, and there’s a very good reason for that– I keep my day job out of this blog, and my day job has been mad. Apart from being the lead officer on our Australia Day Celebrations, a task that ate my January, I’m also involved in the preparation for two major art exhibitions which will eat, respectively, my May and July. It’s a fantastic job, but sometimes it takes over.
Still, there’s been a bit of action going on at the Battheim: for starters, we’ve decided to sell up and move closer to the kids’ new school. Those who’ve been to our current house will attest to the fact that it’s freaking huge: 2 stories, and enough room to fit 7 or 8 residents, which was fine when we had 7 or 8 residents to fit. But we’re due to drop from 6 to 4 in the coming year, as our eldest and his best mate depart our rooms for digs of their own, and this place is just too damn big– and too damn expensive– to suit a family of 4. It’s time to rationalise for life in a smaller, cheaper house.
Simplify, simplify, simplify.
So it’s reno time, and cleanup time, and sitting down in the evening to watch Get It Sold and Selling Houses Australia and the like time, and losing my weekends to the garden time. Not to mention realising just how much shit my house is filled with time.
So our weekends are booked for the foreseeable future, it seems. Every time I move house I swear it’s the last time, that I only have one more move left in me, that I want to stop and put down roots and actually see the gardens I plant grow to maturity, and give my children a sense of security as they grow through childhood. But it’s okay, because I reckon I have one more move left in me……
Hello my absent friends. I have returned.
It’s been a strenuous and stressful time since we last spoke. Moving an entire household of 5 people a hundred-plus kilometres with only the assistance of a teensy tiny wife, my father, and a 3 tonne truck was, to say the least, physically draining.
My Dad, it should be noted, is not only a man of rare brilliance when it comes to packing a truck, there is every possibility that underneath his skin lies the plutonium heart of a Terminator. Seriously, this man could cut his head off, and would simply gaffer tape it back on, finish the job, and go for a beer. To paraphrase Larry Miller, if I go to the bank and the post office in the same day, I need a lie down. Without him, we may still be dragging the last of the pot plants up the driveway.
But we’re in, and the last panic over the seller’s paperwork is slowly dying down (Oh, the happiness that comes from dealing with an NESB seller who communicates through her 13 year old son and didn’t think to apply for probate when her husband died intestate. Oh, how we’ve laughed…..). And just when we thought we might get to put our feet up and crack a coldie: bad family news struck last night, rather horrible news in fact. Private news that I’m not going to discuss here (although everyone who lives under our roof is okay, for those who might be worried). Lyn and I are heartbroken, and as much as we’re there for the person to whom the tragedy has befallen, there is no good that can come from it, and it’s cast a pall over our first days in this house.
So I’m back, blogosphere, and I’m sure the whole world has fallen into disrepair while I’ve been gone– don’t worry, I’ll send a man around. As to the rest, give us a short while.
NB: If you’re a friend, and unaware of the news, don’t be alarmed. If you’re worried, just email me, and we’ll chat.
So, a lack of content here on the Battersblog recently, as well as a general lack of activity in any way, shape or form on the being-a-writer front.
What with getting everything ready for the rounds of appointments and open homes; as well as beautifying gardens; performing all those maintenance jobs that I would have got around to eventually, probably, sooner or later while we were living here but now have to be done NOW, dammit; and starting my AHWA mentorship with Mark and Grant, this year’s sacrificial victims; and listening to my kids pretend to be Hercules and Xena after watching that putrid cartoon movie of those two putrid televisual debacles thanks to the Cartoon Network; and running down to Mandurah every weekend to look at houses and put offers in and sit on the balcony at Cicirello’s and eat fish and chips while we watch boats come in and out of the harbour; and learn to play Texas Hold-em so we know what the hell’s going on when we watch the Professional Poker Tour late on a Saturday night; and occasionally sleep; and balance papers with the bank as we go back and forth organising finance and altering loan details and negotiating interest rates and all the crap you have to do with banks even though you’ve been a customer for something like twenty five years and you think they’d know you by now……… well, it’s been a bit hectic lately.
Still, we’ll undoubtedly get the offer we want this afternoon, and have the finance sorted out by the middle of the week, and then all we’ll have to do is pack up and move to our beautiful new beachside suburb and spend the rest of our lives lying on beach blankets being fed grapes by oil-smeared underwear models, right?
Keen-eyed readers will be aware that my family and I live in Clarkson, a northern suburb of Perth (or southern suburb of Geraldton, according to several friends).
Here’s the newsie round up: two groups men got into an argument over a girl whilst hanging out at a local primary school. One man stabbed another. His mates got him to hospital, then went to the stabber’s house and, unable to break into the locked house to gain their revenge, chased a friend into his shed and stabbed him 20 times, killing him.
Here’s our round-up: we live across the road from our son and daughter’s primary school. Directly opposite our house are a number of parallel-parking spaces. Beyond them, a path leads from the footpath into the school. From our front door to the basketball courts is a distance of maybe fifty feet. Our children walk that path twice a day, every day.
On Wednesday night, whilst Lyn was pulling the car out to take Aiden to guitar practice, several men ran from the school grounds, up the path, openly bearing weapons (Lyn mentioned at least one golf club) and screaming death threats at people behind them. They jumped into a car in the parallel parking spots, and screamed away, almost side-swiping our car in the process. By the time Lyn had dropped Aiden off, picked me up at the train station and returned home—maybe twenty minutes—the area was roped off and several police were in attendance. Twenty feet from our front door was a crime scene. These men had been in a knife fight. In our children’s school. On the pathway that our children walk down from the road to the basketball courts on their way to school. Twenty feet from our front door. These men then went and murdered someone in a house in our suburb. Murdered an innocent bystander because they were angry and seeking revenge over an argument about a girl.
I’m not stupid and I’m not naïve. I know about crime: I’ve seen it, been its victim, known perpetrators and criminals of various stripes over the years. I know it happens in suburbs and in homes. I’m not blind. I don’t even bat an eyelid at the notion of murder- I live in a city that’s played host to two of the worst serial murderers in Australian history, a city where people get thrown from traffic bridges and if the bouncers don’t get you in our nightspots, the gangs will. I’ve met suicides, prostitutes, and convicted drug felons. They don’t make rose coloured glasses in my prescription. But:
If Lyn had been half a second slower on the brakes, she and my children would have been part of this crime. They would have been innocent bystanders in the way of a gang of angry, armed men who had already (and would go on to) exhibit extreme, fatal, violence. I have no shred of doubt that they would have been seriously harmed. My children’s school is a crime scene. The path they walk every day of the school week is, quite literally, a blood-soaked crime scene. One of the two places my children should feel safest in the world has been used as a backdrop to gang violence and attempted murder.
I will not tolerate my family being in such an environment.
Aiden finishes his high school career at the end of next year. We will take that time to get the house ready, and then we will sell it, and move. Mandurah appeals: we have friends there, it is close to the town where I grew up, and it has everything I consider necessary for a good family environment. It is time to get ready, and leave.
…to Stephen Dedman, who has recorded his 100th short story sale under his own name.
Stand still for five minutes and let the rest of us catch up, will you?
Clean up day yesterday. Hired us a trailer, got stuck in. Took loaded-up trailer to the tip. I don’t know about you, but our tip weighs the car on the way in, weighs it again on the way out, and you pay a fee based on the difference in weight. (And oh, my nerdy interior rang with the voice of Peter Jones intoning “It is vitally important to get a receipt every time you go to the lavatory”….)
684 kilograms of rubbish I lumped into that trailer, with Luscious’ help.
No wonder I’m bloody knackered.
GO YOU RE-EEEEDSSS!!!
Huddersfield Town 1- 1 Nottingham Forest.
Ahem. I feel better now.
And as a comedy aside, what do I have in common with Torvill & Dean, Ian Paice, Andy Cole, and the Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield?
LIVING IN SUBURBIA
Sometimes, the soundtrack of your life says something perfect…
Did something I haven’t done for a long time this morning: jumped on the bicycle, banged the ipod in my ears (took it out, attached earphones, put them in my ears. More comfortable, and there’s music!), and inflamed my arthritic knees down to Bunnings and back to pick up a couple of things for the house.
It’s early on a Saturday morning, it’s a sunny day, I’m riding through deepest, darkest, middle class suburbia, people are out in their front gardens, doing all those middle class things middle class people do on a Saturday morning– mowing, washing the four wheel drives they never take further than the shopping centre, wiping down the lawn furniture for another garage sale…
And what comes on the playlist? Pleasant Valley Sunday by the Monkees. Followed by REM’s The End of The World As We Know It.
I had to get off the bike I was laughing so hard.
It’s just a pleasant valley Sunday-hey! Here in status-symbol laaaannnndddd……..
MEMEY MEMEY MEMEY
Gakked from a whole bunch of people.
Go to Wikipedia, enter in your birthdate (sans year), post three events, two births and one death.
1215 – The Fourth Lateran Counil meets, adopting the doctrine of transubstantiation, meaning that bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ. (Heh. Given my views, somewhat ironic, non?)
1634 – The Irish House of Commons passes “An Act for the Punishment for the Vice of Buggery”.
1930 – Patent number US1781541 was awarded to Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard for their invention, the Einstein Refrigerator.
There’s really a very long list of happenings on this day. It’s here. Check it out, there’s quite a lot of fun stuff, if you’ve got a mind like mine.
Couple of events on the horizon at which you may like to join myself and Luscious.
Luscious and I will be reading at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writer’s Centre Open Day on April 23rd, between 11.15 and 11.45. I’ll have copies of Through Soft Air there for sale, as well as copies of Aurealis 36 and some of the other magazines in which we’ve appeared.
I’ll be placed under the microscope at Australian Science Fiction in Focus for a 2 week stint as guest interviewee starting the 14th of June. Luscious will take her place before your gaze for a fortnight from 23rd August.
I’ll remind you closer to the dates, but at least now you know!
Song of the moment: Even Flow Pearl Jam
Pretty, isn’t it? It’s the 2005 Aurealis Award for Best Horror Short Story, and I won it on Saturday night at a wonderful ceremony in Queensland. Luscious and I flew in from Perth to attend, as she was nominated or Best SF Story for her brilliant work The Memory of Breathing. Sadly, it lost to Trent Jamieson’s Slow and Ache, which can be found in the brand new Aurealis 36. The issue also contains my Australian Shadows nominated story Father Muerte & the Flesh, as well as Kim Westwood’s AA nominated Terning Tha Wheel, so it might be described as ‘a fair old read’…
A huge whoop of congratulations are accorded the Western Australian contingent, who cleaned up: Juliet Marillier winning the Best Fantasy Novel category; Grant Stone for being accorded the Peter MacNamara Award and about bloody time too; and most especially, our very good friend KA Bedford, whose novel Eclipse took out Best SF Novel. I’m afraid I let out a very audible “Yessssss” when that one was announced 🙂
We spent the weekend as guests of just about our favourite couple in the world, the sweetly divine Rob Hoge and Kate Eltham, who treated us like visiting royalty (they tried to crash their car into a pole in Paris and kill us, then they shot us and started World War One), and it was wonderful to catch up with so many faces we don’t get to see anywhere near often enough: Chris Lawson; Sean Williams; Rob Hood (hope the wrist is better, Rob); Cat Sparks; Geoff Maloney; Trent; the list is a long one, and includes some new friends who greeted us with warmth and fellowship: a big halloo to Robert E, Heather, Kim, Rjurik, and Nikki & Damon.
Perhaps the best part of it all was being presented my award by Jason Nahrung, a friend of mine now for a couple of years and someone I couldn’t have been happier to shake the hand of in my moment on stage. Jason has been an unfailing support and pal– he interviewed Lyn and I a couple of weeks before the trip and I always have the greatest feeling of pleasure after being in his company. To receive my award from someone for whom I have such affection made it just that little bit sweeter.
Truth to tell, everyone in Queensland makes us feel so goddamned welcome we’re always slightly guilty when we leave. It’s a subtle plot, I’m sure of it. One of these days we’ll be gassed in our beds, and wake up in a village with them all, and no way of escape…
As always, Brisbane means shopping. Can’t tell you yet if the best buy was the Jack Skellington head ceramic cup; the 4-pack of Invader Zim figurines (Beaver Gaz is our favourite), or the amazing spray-painted art piece we picked up from a street artist who was packing up because it was about to rain and gave it to us for barely anything just so he wouldn’t have to leave with it. Time will tell.
NO WORDS ARE NECESSARY
My darling wife, getting ready for the awards night. Is it any wonder I’m utterly smitten? Simply the most beautiful woman I have ever known.
FUN FUN FUN
It’s no secret that I’m a museum and art gallery geek. Brisbane art gallery has one of the goldurn funnest displays I’ve ever seen. Since November 2004, they’ve been encouraging the general populace to pull up a seat and take part in creating a growing city, made from white lego blocks. We had a go last year with the kids, but this time we set aside half an hour and had a serious crack at adding our creations to the city scape. Like all good art it’s interactive, forces its audience to think, and defies any sort of accurate description, so a couple of photos might give you some idea.
The first is my creation, with a couple of other buildings in the background.
And this one, just to give you a sense of scale. According to the docent, they’ve gone through six layers of buildings since last year, and some of those spires at the very back are nearly six or seven feet tall. It’s the kind of thing that makes me wish I had a job in Brisbane, simply so I can take a day off and really build something…
“So. What do you think the working class are doing?”
This place was around the corner from Rob and Kate’s. This was as close as I dared venture.
TODAY’S COLOUR IS MONDEGREEN
For some reason, there were a rash of Non-English speaking moments over the last few days. Firstly, outgoing AA director Lea Greenaway, who tortured her description of Richard Pitchforth as someone who fertilises new ideas, by telling us that he’d always been full of fertiliser; then backed it up by admitting they’d mis-spelled Shane Dix as Shane Nix in a previous programme, and that while she was sure Garth and the family would love to take credit, Shane had always been a Dix.
Then I shared this conversation with my darling:
Lee: How are you feeling?
Lee: Is that your answer?
Lyn: Yes. I thought I’d let my mouth speak for itself….
And finally, we were entertained this morning by Erin’s rendition of “Postman Pat, Postman Pat, Postman Pat and his bright green cat…”
Must check the colour on the tellie.
IN OTHER NEWS ENTIRELY
Monstrously huge happinesses and congratulations to our friends Sean and Terri, upon the arrival of their 3rd daughter, Emmaline Scarlet, on Sunday morning. We’re over the moon with joy for you, guys.
AND IN HOUSE NEWS……
We have bathroooooooooommmmmssssss!!!!!!!!!!!
We’ll be at Swancon this weekend, where the collection should be launched, as long as the publisher can get copies to us in time. if not, I’ll be conducting The Anti-Launch, where you can win copies of magazines in which I have appeared, and play some silly games into the bargain. At least one copy of aurealis 36 will be available, which means you’re likely to be the first person in Perth besides us to scam a copy.
Come on down. Say hi.
Song of the moment: Silence. Everyone else is asleep.
OH MY GOD, IT’S SO PRETTY
Have a look what my publisher sent me today. Don’t you just want to buy it? I know you do.
Observant, long-time readers may note the change of title 🙂 Really observant, really long-time reders may remember it was the original title when it was first picked up by Prime. I’m grateful that Prime supremo Sean Wallace has decided to go with it: it’s always been my favourite option, and I’ve been a real pain in the arse, agitating to keep it all this time. And it’s led to artist Gary Nurrish creating this magnificent cover.
Buy me. Buy meeee…….
BATTERSDUO IN PRINT, AND PROGRESS ON THE PAGES AT HOME
Borderlands 6 is out. My story The Imprisonment of Marianne sits between its covers, and just as excitingly, Luscious’ The Hanging Tree is in there as well! Read this one: it’s proof that The Memory of Breathing was no one-off.
Starting the issue off is Lyn Battersby’s Edges. Talk about dysfunctional relationships! There are some nice transitions between ‘characters’ here that very effectively resolved my initial feelings of unease into fear. The main character’s terror and desperation are palpable but, in the end, it’s five against one… not good odds for saving a relationship.
It goes on to say that this issue is the strongest one so far, boding well for both SR and my darling, who continues to make Ben Peek look like an idiot.
In good writing news, the lack of a computer in recent days has forced me back to a notebook and pen. With limited time at my disposal due to the current overly-busy lifestyle, I set myself a target of 300 words per day: a modest total to be sure, but one I hadn’t achieved for the entirety of this year. Four days later, I’ve managed it every day, am working on two new stories, and feel like I’m achieving something at last.
Maybe, just maybe, after a few false dawns so far this year, I might be able to get this career back on track. Let’s see, shall we? I’ll drop a weekly tally in to track my progress, and y’all have permission to razz me if I don’t keep up.
You have no excuse. Get them in. I’ll be there, tutoring in the 2nd week, and you’ll also suffer at the hands of Rob Hood, Simon Brown, Gardner Dozois, Kelly Link, and Janeen Webb. How can you not want to do this?
One of the goddamn best people I’ve ever met, a man of whom I cannot speak highly enough, one of the best pals I’ve made in writing: Robert Hoge has an LJ. Flist him.
KISSY KISSY, MY FROG
We had ourselves a low-key Valentine’s Day this year: we’ve bought each other so many things as we moved into the new house that adding something just for Hallmark Day seemed a little, well, over the top. I mean, when your wife can walk through the door and give you a hard-cover graphic biography of Jimi Hendrix drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz and 2 Hendrix CDs for no other reason than she knows you’ll love them, why do you need to have the greeting card industry set aside a day for you?
So we just took the phone off the hook; moved the TV and DVD player into the bedroom and threw Love Actually at it; uncorked the wine; made up a plate of cheeses, dried fruits, and grapes; and simply relaxed into each other’s company for the night.
It was bloody wonderful.
MEANWHILE, IN THE CELLAR….
So Gary Megson has resigned as manager of Nottingham Forest.
About fucking time.
I know you have a need to know:
We’re down to the bathrooms, ladies and gents. The tilers were supposed to be here in the last couple of days to do their thing, but will soon arrive on Monday after my “Where the fuck were you?” phone call. Once they’ve done, the electrician will arrive to move the power points four inches up the wall so we can fit the new vanities in. Which will be duly fitted, followed by taps, soap holders, towel rails, the showers, the new toilet for the ensuite, and me, having my first non-hand-held-shower-head shower for three weeks, sighing with something approaching ecstacy as the water cascades down my back (don’t think visually).
Everything else is cosmetic: we have a miniskip full of dead plant life, and at least another one to go. The compost bin has been installed into a corner of the garden and is busily, uh, sitting there doing the composting thing. Boxes are being opened, emptied, and folded. We’ve discovered a new Mecca– Bunnings has been replaced in my affections by Howard’s Storage World, (I kid thee not), where today I picked up a bike rack so we can stop using the entire patio as a bike repository. Yesterday it was an eight-drawer movable table for Lyn’s painting supplies. I loves it. It is my precious. And slowly, out of the debris of broken boxes and dust, a home is emerging.
Housewarming invitations are beginning to be discussed 🙂
AND JUST BECAUSE I BLOODY WELL CAN
A gratuitous Connor shot, because he’s so frigging gorgeous.
Song of the Moment: San Jacinto Peter Gabriel
Received a phone call from the stylish and altogether frabjous Jason Nahrung last night. Not only a denizen of our all-time favourite city, Brisbane, Jason does journalism-guy stuff for the Courier Mail, and wanted to interview Luscious and myself with an eye to the upcoming Aurealis Awards.
Which was no pain at all, as he is a complete gentleman and a delight to chat to. And I still owe him a beer, so it was a chance to remind him of my obligation. Excuse me, barman, I have no children with me this trip!
Our reputation as the single-entity-with-two-names continues to grow…
Luscious fans! Get yourself over to Anna Tambour’s website and read this month’s featured story, a new and previously unpublished Lyngram entitled Simeon The Monkey. It’s weird, touching, and of the usual stratosphere-high Luscious quality!
In double-good-news-with-chips, no less than 2 authors have recommended The Memory of Breathing for the Bram Stoker Award, and ASIM have nominated it for the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Fountain Award.
Is wot me and Arfur would call a nice little earner…
Happy birthday Aiden! Hope you made out like a bandit! (He certainly did at our end: a bike with all the accessories, and a CD rack, and a DIY T-Rex skeleton kit with poster and replica claw, and a double-barrelled lava lamp. Lucky bugger. Wish I was 13 muttergrumblerazzumfrazzumenvywhingejealousy…..)
LOOK AT MY BOTTOM
Check out the bottom of the page to see the latest shiny banner-toy. Yessiree, yon author-boy is now a member of the Australian Horror Webring. Follow the ‘next’ to see who else is a member.
Do we get sandwiches?
The Tin Ducks and the Ditmars are open. If you’re a member of (respectively) Swancon and the Natcon, you can nominate and vote.
No pressure, but in 2005 I gave the world:
I Can Make You Famous, Shadow Box, October
Decimated, Shadowed Realms Issue 8, November
Gunslinger, The Devil in Brisbane, Prime Books, October
Murderworld, Andromeda Spaceways In-flight Magazine Issue 18, April
Love Me Electric, Consensual a Trois, March
(The Aurealis nominated…) Pater Familias, Shadowed Realms, Issue 3, January
(The appearing in Year’s Best Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror…) Father Muerte & The Rain, Aurealis Issue 33, January
AND IN DOMESTIC NEWS…
The house continues apace. The original office has become Connor’s bedroom, as the desk we bought for Lyn is bigger than the room 🙂 So our office/reading room/studio now takes up the first third of the house, and Connor’s original bedroom is now the playroom.
Got that? 🙂
By my reckoning, in the last week I have seen: 60+ allen bolts; 200+ screws; 8 flat packed items of furniture; one quarter of a tonne of dust of various types; 8 cuts; 26 scratches; and three rooms almostnearlyjussssstabout finished…
And the bathroom guys come on Monday.
I confidently predict a liveable home environment by Christmas.
TOUCHING A NEW BASE
Well, we’re in the new house: the computer is connected (although a fan did not survive the journey: it sounds like someone is using a chainsaw inside a light aircraft in here…), most of the house has been painted, the new floors have been laid, and we’ve almost chosen the new bathroom fittings. Whilst it’s fun kneeling on the bare concrete floor to shave myself in my daughter’s princess mirror, and sitting down in the bath to shower with a hand-held nozzle, I’d really rather like a bathroom that doesn’t resemble the inside of a Beirut bombsite, ta muchly.
I’ve a lot to catch up on, a lot to chase after, and a lot to get back on track in the next few weeks. Bear with us while we try to get our life in order: renovations are, to put it in the mildest possible terms, a complete fucking bastard. Never again. Never again.
ON THE MOVE, SLOWLY
So many boxxxxxesssss, so much moving to doooooooo…..
The painter starts tomorrow. The tiling guy and the wood floor guy come in next week. We make the final move next Friday. It’s all so close.
A SMALL MOMENT OF WRITING AMONGST THE INSANITY
Managed 600 words on an almost forgotten project entitled A Good Year for The Roses tonight, a gentle little horror-ish story that’s sat, partly completed, in my In Progress folder for rather a while. Not a big achievement, 600 words, but it was nice to clear the pipes after having been so hectic with moving stuff, renovation stuff, kids, and day job for the last few weeks.
Little self-satisfied sigh.
Song of the moment: Wings of a Dove Madness
Happy birthday to our darling Erin, who turned 4 on Monday, and who made out like a bandit! Although we might have to revisit how often we eat out: when asked what she wanted to do for her birthday, the immediate reply was “Sizzlers!”, so out we trooped on Sunday for massive plates of serve-yourself, ice-cream, and all the cool drink we could imbibe.
What stops Luscious and I in our mental tracks sometimes is the knowledge of the individual ways in which each of our children are special in our lives: in Erin’s case, she is the thread that brought our two families together and made them one. It was the love she showed to Lyn & the Triffkids, and the love she engendered in return, that gave us the platform to become the family we are. She may be a typically stroppy, headstrong and frustrating 4 year old sometimes, but she deserves all the love and goodness that comes her way.
And she even does a good job of cleaning up her room…
All her dreams come true: a present bigger than her entire body.
ON A HIGH
It was a week for being proud of children. Aiden graduated primary school, and we went along to his graduating ceremony on a bitterly cold and windy evening to see him accept his memorial cup and photo. Now every time he drinks hot chocolate he’ll think of his former classmates….
The differences between the boy I met almost 3 years ago and the young man he is rapidly becoming are palpable. Aiden is only 12, but he is a man in the making: strong in his opinions; unique in his likes and dislikes; with a gentleness and maturity I find rare in the adult world, never mind in the milieu of the pre-teen, where such qualities are as often derided as rewarded.
I was overwhelmed with pride to see him take the next step along his path, and Luscious was teary the whole night. My only disappointment was in not being able to souvenir a poster of the boy himself, created by his Year One ‘buddy’ (the school has a great little system where the older kids take responsibility for a teensy person, and help them adjust). Still, we managed a photo, so here ’tis:
Do the right things and one day you may be immortalised in cut-outs
TWO YEARS COUNTS AS A TRADITION
So last year I bullied the wholefamily into sitting down together and creating a Christmas decoration to hang on the tree. This year I got as far as “Shall we make ou….” and they’d started.
Here’s a hint: if you buy a new tree, make sure you take notice of the size. Seven feet is significantly higher than six, especially if you have trouble refraining from singing “Hi Ho Hi Ho” every time you see your family standing together. Guess who got all the high jobs?
The tree is up, it looks brill, and I love watching everyone gather round and put the decorations up. Last year’s stars and this year’s bon bons define what Christmas should be about for me: a sense of reward for seeing your family through another year, and the knowledge that whatever happens, you are together.
But boy we had to move a bunch of furniture to fit the sodding tree in. Thank god the new house is bigger…
Attack of the Christmas Midgets!
EVERYTHING IS MOVING UPWARDS
Walking has been achieved. Walking a lot has been achieved. The C-Train is mobile!
THE WAY THINGS CHANGE
Was a time that paying off my mortgage would have been a big thing. It was the one thing I had pencilled in from the day we started the compensation case. Well, the money came in, we dumped it on the mortgage, the next day all trace of it was gone from our bank records, and….. nothing. No sense of achievement, no satisfaction, nowt.
Things have moved on too far, too fast. This house is a relic of a past from which I am dedicated to removing myself. A new house, and a new chapter of my life, awaits. All my energies, hopes, and desires are aimed towards the future. It’s a good future, damn it, and I want to be there, with my family, my writing, and with all the baggage left in the past where it belongs.
SSSSHHHHH: SECRET SQUIRREL
This is weird: I made a sale the other day, and I can’t tell you about it. It’s my first sale under a pseudonym, and I’ve got a damn good cone of silence going over this name, so I plan to keep it.
Maybe some clues when it’s published….
BRAZIL, CROATIA AND JAPAN
Oh crap. We’re screwed. At least we won’t have to beat Uruguay to get to 2010.
Song of the moment: The Piano Has Been Drinking Tom Waites
Plucked from the bookshelf of Fantastic Planet whilst returning from a family outing this afternoon: a spanky new copy of Australian Speculative Fiction: A Genre Overview. Compiled by Donna Maree Hanson, it’s a gorgeous book with profiles of significant writers, artists, magazines, and identities from the current pinnacle of the Australian genre.
And I’m on page 6 🙂 Nestled between Max Barry and KA Bedford. Now there’s a visual image that should keep you up at night….
And I’m happy to let you all know that we’ve put an offer in on a house and had it accepted, so as long as nothing goes spla we will definitely be on the march come January. And cleaning up after the housewarming a couple of weeks after that 🙂
So: we’ve sold the house. Or at least, we’ve accepted an offer.
Now all we have to do is find a place to live in our chosen area. I’ve transferred up there, so work is assured, and the hour-plus drive is getting old already. All that’s left is getting the Battclan set up in a new house. We’re in a game of duelling offers over a house at the moment, so hopefully the wait won’t be too long.
Oh, and whilst I realise it’s almost a week after the event:
Socceroos. Fucking YEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I remember Iran. I remember Scotland. Hell, I remember Canada. Glee is my right.
With any luck we’ll get drawn into a group with some really weak countries. You know, like England 🙂
Song of the moment: The Honeymoon is Over The Black Sea
A HOUSE FULL OF BODIES
It’s been a loud and hectic week, this past week in the Batthouse. We’ve had the Triffkids for the last week of the school holidays, and it was brilliant. Things may be loud when all 7 of us are in the one place, but the benefits of having a large family make every moment worthwhile. We didn’t do much this holidays, apart from a few activities centred around a bit of news I divulge later in the post, but the act of just hanging out with such intelligent, vibranht, enjoyable kids leaves me feeling froody.
The days after taking them to their dad’s place are always a bit low for us, but it was too good a week to hurt for long.
WHY MY WIFE HATES MY BONUS KIDS
On the other hand, I’m a bit worried about Luscious. Blakey went to a friend’s place for a party mid-week, so she let Aiden & Cassie see a movie. More to the point, she let them see Sky High. A Kuuurrrrtttt movie! And Aiden’s far too young to look at Linda Carter and have rewarding flashbacks.
It could take years for the scars to surface….
HOORAY FOR THE A-BOY
Aiden had his trophy presentation for soccer during the hols. We thought he was in with a real shot for Most Improved Player, given how far he’s come since the start of the season, but he was gazumped by (wait for it) the coach’s daughter. Now, I haven’t seen her play before this season, so I’m not suggesting that the fix was in, but I’m just going to mention that you can read all my entries about Aiden’s progress and decide for yourself whether anyone else could improve that much in the same team…
Anyway, we couldn’t be more proud of him. He loves the game, and the medal he received didn’t leave his neck from the day he got it until it was time to leave. It was a deserved reward for a young man who gave everything to playing a sport he’s grown to love, and I’m a very punch-pleased Bonus Dad. And here’s a gratuitous photo so’s I can show off 🙂
You know, no sooner does the A-boy take up soccer than the NSL changes its name to the A-League. Talk about your destiny!
BEST LINE OF THE HOLIDAYS (or SPOT THE DELIBERATE MISTAKE)
BLAKE (11 years old): Who’s John Lennon?
AIDEN (Much older, and more mature, ie: 12): (In mocking tones) You don’t know who John Lennon is?
AIDEN: Duuuuuuh. He sang “You’re The Voice”.
And much Coke was sprayed…..
WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE THE FOXTEL WAY
I love having so many documentary channels. The History of Science Fiction and HG Wells docos last Sunday night gave us enough excuse to invite Martin and Dr Izz over for din-dins and watching. We had a fabulous time, as we always do in their company, and I was especially pleased to learn that Isabelle is fascinated by Wells, something we share.
I find myself searching for ways to catch up with them before they depart for England at the end of the year. I’ve also decided that it’s all a clever plan on the part of Martin to increase his overseas sales– frustrated that he can sell to Australian magazines but not American or British ones (another thing we share…) he’s going to go over there, send stories back here, and they’ll count!
BUY MY UNWANTED CRAP!
This Saturday, from 10.30 to 3.30, at the Leederville Town Hall on Vinent Street, Swancon are holding a Geek Trash & Treasure as a fundraiser.
Luscious and I will be there, with the fruits of our book/comic/video cleanout. Nothing over 2 bucks, come on down!
ADVENTURES OF AN ADDICTED BOOK BUYING GUY
Luscious and the kids met me after work today, and we went into Fremantle to have a picnic and play in the park. But we needed to buy drinks, so we found a teeensy little bookstore with a coke machine….
And I found Walking with Dinosaurs: The Evidence and a hardback copy of Tales From Earthsea for ten bucks each. And we bought the drinks and left the shop inside 90 seconds of entering.
I am BOOKBUYMAN!!!!!!!!!!!
PROUD HUBBY TIME
In my humble opinion, it’s the best horror story of the year, and if it doesn’t make the Aurealis Awards short list at least, it’ll point out what a load of bollocks that particular award is. I’m an amazingly proud hisband right now, all the more because it’s so obviously a deserved recognition for a wonderful writer who has yet to hit her straps. When she does, nobody will be talking about me any more.
Of course, no one does now, but that’s not the point. Well done, my darling. You deserve it.
ON THE ROAD AGAIIIIINNNNN……
Well, here’s an announcement.
The house is on the market, there’s a sign out the front, we’re leaving exotic Huntingdale and moving North of the River to facilitate the arrival of Aiden into our midst on a permanent basis. We’re looking at Clarkson, for any Perthites with a road map and sense of adventure. We’ve had half a dozen people through the house since Thursday, and we’ve not had an open house yet! The agent thinks that we’ll be hard done by if we don’t sell the place within 4 weeks.
It’s weird: I’ve a lot of emotional investment in this place, having bought 2 children home here, as well as my late wife Sharon and my darling Luscious. Almost all the plans I’ve made these last 5 years have involved being here, and inside 2 weeks of making the decision, half the house is packed away, and we’re one person from being out the door and never seeing the place again. I’m eager for somewhere new, excited at the thought of finding a house that Lyn and I can call ours from the very beginning, and yet there’s a tiny part of me that’ll want visiting rights. “Please, can’t I just see the patio every alternative weekend?”
On the other hand, it’s hard to argue with an appraisal that gives you a 240% profit on what you paid for the place 🙂
It was either this or a peaceful life. Pictures and advertorial as soon as I upload them.
SHIT BUGGER SHIT SHIT SHIT…
It’s official. Nottingham Forest have been relegated, making us the first former winners of the European Championship to be dropped to any third tier competition in the history of the game.
If you’re a player, official, or board member of the club, you are a disgrace. Cloughie would weep to be associated with you.
ME HANDYMAN, YOU STOP LAUGHING
As part of the current self-sufficiency, food co-op, let’s start a vegetable garden, stepping outside the mainstream kick, I made a compost bin out of a 44 gallon drum yesterday. And I only bled once. That’s not bad going for me 🙂
I am the MacGyver of Huntingdale. Next up, a fully functioning lawnmower using only 3 paperclips and a photo of the former Pope…
OH WHAT A NIGHT…
Big-mob thanks to everyone who came to the party on Saturday night and made it such a biffo event. Our last guests tumbled out the door at gone 1am, after we’d finally exhausted all the bad 80s video clips we wanted to see, but before that we had hours of good fun, great conversation, laughing, drinking, and having the time of our lives.
Whilst there were a host of brilliant moments, I think my personal favourite would have to have been breaking the usually unflappable Chesh with an image of my Mum dreaming of a Lloyd Cole-Chris Isaak sandwich. Or was it learning that the mah-na-mah-na song was originally taken from a Swedish Porn movie? (Which lead to some very dodgy Kermit the Frog impersonations) Or listening to Cassie’s shock at the kind of music us “old people” listen to? Or watching Mynxii trying to outblush Luscious (and being beaten comprehensively: next contender please!)
Too much fun. Next time it’ll have to be a “Why, oh why?” party. As in “Why, oh why did Ministry cover a Bob Dylan song? Why, oh why did they do a dance remix of ‘Reckless’? Why, oh why The Dickies record that version of ‘Nights In White Satin’?”
I LOVE HER, SHE LOVES ME
Received an email from Callisto yesterday, asking whether we could write something for the Swancon convention booklet regarding the wedding, and due to the usual committee organisational skills, could she have it, like, ten minutes ago?
Luscious was at the gym so I sat down and rattled off a page about her and what she means to me. She came home half an hour later, and there was still time for her to write a page too, as long as she did it right now.
If you attend the con you’ll read the results. All I’ll say is that sometimes, when all you have time for are the simplest statements, the results can be powerful.
I put Connor’s cot together today. The cot I’ve spent the last couple of weeks sanding and painting.
And it looks bloody awful.
But at least I did it myself, for my son. I will gladly admit to being crap when it comes to the handyman stuff, but sometimes there are things you have to do yourself, just so you can take a greater stake in your own universe. Connor’s asleep in it now, for the first time, and even though the paintjob is patchy, and I scraped a bloody great line down one side putting it all together, and somehow the side doesn’t come down the way it’s supposed to, none of that matters, because I did it for him.
Besides, I can always touch it up after the con 🙂
SO MUCH TO DO, SO MUCH TO DOOOO…….
After tonight there are two sleeps until the convention starts. And all I have to do is: burn 20 CDs for wedding guests; print out the covers; put the CDs into cases and cut, fold, and insert the covers; sticky-tape safety pins to the back of 64 Prisoner badges; write the Prisoner panel; organise the clips for the panel; organise a DVD or laptop projector; write the questions for the Alternative History show; then write them onto A4 cards; buy/find/steal the props to go with them; pack my clothes; pack my writing gear; contact my best man and the suit hire shop and go out for my final fitting; buy socks for me and the boys for the wedding; shave (this is not a minor undertaking); pay the florist; give 250 flyers for the collection to the conbag stuffers; take Erin to her grandparents; pick up my suit; input the line-edits for over 20 of the collection stories and send the package to my editor… and that’s the stuff I remember.
I do this every year- spend the week before the con running around like a blue-arsed fly so that by the time I actually get to the hotel I’m too shagged out to enjoy the first two days. You think I’d bloody learn…
ON THE BRIGHT SIDE
The too-groovy-for-words Cat Sparks has shown me the cover art for the collection, and it’s damn cool. All I need to do is get the rubber stamp from Prime, and it’s set. I’ll throw up a link to an image when I get back from Swancon, so you can all tell Cat how cool it is.
OKAY, WE’RE IN…
Finally, the move is over, and the cheap-ass, slack as crap, less-brain-cells-than-a-PE-teacher removalists have crawled back under their rock. Hey, they managed to break my computer desk and the Indian pipe Luscious bought me for my birthday last year, so I figure I have shooting rights. This pack of morons had tricks like double-packing the cutlery but not wasting a single piece of paper on wrapping my flat-screen computer monitor, so you know we’re not dealing with the deep end of the gene pool here. And they ripped us off, the bastards.
Lucky I’m not bitter about it or anything.
Anyway, we’ve turned the living room into a big library with a couch and TV, the cable’s been connected (spent most of yesterday watching Invader Zim, and Batman:The Animated Series, and Johnny Bravo, and I Am Weasel and Catdog, and… well, you get the idea), the patio guy’s working out a quote for hard-roofing the patio, the curtain people are coming later this week… it’s all go.
Want to extend a big “Youse is a legend moit” to Sheldon, who came over way early on Saturday morning and worked like a Trojan to help us unpack, and Chesh & Calli who came round a bit later and helped with the mammoth task of emptying the house of a million boxes.
ON THE SUBJECT OF TROJANS
Watched Troy the other night for the first time. Would have thought it impossible to turn The Iliad into a boring pile of crap, but there you go. Never underestimate the powers of Wolfgang Petersen and Brad Pitt when it comes to stinky-toilet cinematic experiences.
I LOVE MY FAMILY!
It’s my birthday on Thursday. Luscious and the kids couldn’t wait that long to give me my prezzies.
The kids got me a watch. To understand how excited I was by this you have to have been with me when I’ve taken my phone out for the umpty-thousandth time to check what time it is. I’m a constant time-checker. It’s a sickness. Hey, it could be worse. I could work in IT.
Anyway, this watch is beautiful, a magnificent analog (Call me old-fashioned; I prefer hands) in silver and gold. It’s far too beautiful to belong on my hairy old wrist.
And Luscious, well, what can I say. A weird and wonderful statue (the present, I swear!) made from nuts, bolts and screws, of two robot-type people wearing glasses and playing soccer. Very hard to describe, but it’s odd, disturbing, and impossible to look at without finding something to comment about. In other words, perfect 🙂
I’m a lucky guy with a great family. And yes, this is an utterly diabetes-inducing post, but hey, it’s my birthday 🙂 Well, in two days, but you know…
WHAT, AND LEAVE SHOWBIZ?
Everybody in Perth SF is waiting to see the Angriest Video Store Clerk TV show. Creative force Grant Watson emailed me today and asked me if I wanted a bit part as a light-bulb worshipping Siberian Yak Herder.
How can a guy say no to an offer like that? 🙂