Wednesday, November 18, 2009

odds and sods

Ah well, so much for getting back to posting at least once a week. Here are some of the things keeping that goal as an aspiration rather than an achieved done deal. Some of these odds-and-sods are from back in November.

NaNoWriMo. (Google it for more details, and you might understand why I don't have time to throw in links or to edit my sentences down to reasonable sizes.)

I've joined NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) because (being slow) I finally figured out what it was for: forcing yourself to generate a complete rough draft to an idea without stopping to fix everything and therefore never getting past the first few chapters. The goal for NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month of November. I am assuming it also means that your novel should have at least a semblance of a beginning, a middle, and an end and not just be 50,000 words of "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." Although I hear tell, that repetitions of something like this can fill part of the middle ... whatever it takes to keep you going.

Me, I'm at 37,212 words as of this moment and I have a comfortable 12 days left to get the remaining 13K in. I'm not counting Thanksgiving as a writing day. My success thus far is entirely predicated on cheating. The first 12K where the first couple of chapters of the novel, which I had written well before the summer when no writing happens. The next 14K or so came by cutting and pasting already typed sections from a file of notes and scenes. While cutting and pasting I envisioned and wrote the last paragraph of the whole novel, so victory is nearly assured. Jai ho! I have the ending already! Plus, if I absolutely fall down and get swept away by the holiday, mushroom hunting, quinces, wine making, working on a "found art" sculpture project with Ronan that involves frequent walks along the lakeside ... I can always - on the morning of November 30th - paste in the 31,000-word prequel to the novel, which although a stand-alone novella is intrinsic to the story and will have to be placed at the beginning of the book, when there is one. And I will have more than hit he 50K finish line.

Peach update. (Photo: "Peach is Gone". Ronan thought this was the most appropriate photo from Peach's last visit to scroung off our table. He's the gray blur there as he shoots back out the door.)

Attachment parenting really does raise healthy independent children, even when you least expect it. Peach went everywhere with us during his formative days, ate at the table, sleep in or next to our bed, had free reign of the house while learning to forage, and then started going outside for longer and longer periods of time. At first Peach would drop by to terrorize children, defend territory, taunt cats, score some treats from mom (mostly mealworms and organic goatmilk mozzeralla, what a life!), and have a bath in a pie plate full of water provided for his convenience. Now he doesn't even say hello or acknowledge that he knows us. The only way I know Peach is still alive is I because they two scrubs jays he moved in with are still flying around as a flock of three -- and, yeah, I fancy I recognize his voice even if he refuses to recognize mine. Some friends of mine chided me about the about empty-nest syndrome and said "Kids have to leave home some time and make their own life." To which I thought, yeah, and where did my kid go? He moved right back in with his other parents! I've raised someone else's Boomerang Baby! Scrub jays, though, often allow last year''s kids, both sons and daughters, to hang around and help with next year's kids. They learn more about life and get better it, making them more likely to succeed when they do strike out on their own. I don't know if mom and dad scrub jay were aware of Peach all along -- they certainly could hear him carrying on in the house -- or if they recognized him by other means. Possibly the "other means", because Peach was attacked, just once, by papa Jay shortly after he started going outside.

Soft landing for Mushy Processed Peas.
Photo: A very young Mush! plays with Ronan's "Pet Shop" toys.

Sometimes I forget that Mush! has two names: Mush! as in the sled dog command and Mushy Processed Peas, because Ronan loves the whole name and notion of Mushy Processed Peas, a British culinary favorite that comes in cans labelled with those very words and a painted illustration of something that looks like a pile of baby poo. Really, I thought we had gone to far with raising Mush! I wasn't sure she would ever figure out how to be a duck after hanging out with us, sleeping next to the bed, and watching "Bones" with Ronan and her cat. But the same open door policy that worked with Peach is working for Mush! At first I would put her outside with the other ducks and she would ignore them. When she was done exploring the world, she would potter down to the house to come in and get fed and take a nap under the dining room table or near wherever someone was studying or working. Then she started staying out all day, but hanging around outside the door at lunchtime. Now, she doesn't want to be fed extra because it means coming away from the flock for a moment.

NaNoWriMo, again. I did my 50,147 words by November 29th. And wrote the end scene to the story, too. Still vey much a rough rough rough draft, but I got it done. Now I have a novelette to finish by Tuesday evening and an essay to write for an Oregon Quarterly contest that ends January 31.

Deep freeze. Only one burst pipe so far and it was on the outside of the house. Been without hot water for three days, without running water at all for one day. But we have Stella (our cookstove) heating potable water for us and water to flush the toilets coming out of a dounspout. We're working on getting the water back on at this very moment. Gotta go!

Photo: Ronan with the giant ice beer bugs we keep melting and tipping out of the goats' water buckets.