Category: life

I am in no way prepared to deal with this emotionally!

Well, it’s been a mediocre Monday doing admin in the office, a lustreless evening of doing freebie admin for a local charity I do the freebie admin for, and then I checked on Amazon’s progress and lo, congratulations to me, it’s a paperback!

I believe this traditionally calls for champagne, but I have to go back to the office tomorrow too, so I might settle for hiding under the bed and hyperventilating.

I finally made a Thing!

I finally made a Thing!

So it’s been over a year, but I finally got around to an actual paperback version of my book. Look at it sitting there on the shelf, next to the Real books! (I guess I shoulda put it with the P’s, but that would put it in front of the Pratchetts and that seemed a bit… sacrilegious, really.

Also, it just took me six attempts to spell ‘sacrilegious’ there.)

So when what I hope is the finished proof comes back, sometime next week, it might be good to go! Excitement! Terror! Etc!

2019: Already a year of change and loss round here

I’ll start with the more humorous stuff. This week, for various reasons, I donated my hair to charity. It was a bit daunting, because I wasn’t sure how much they were going to take off, but the answer is, this much:

jan 2019 haircut

Sorry to disappoint anyone who had a mental image wherein I looked Flattering, eh

Anyway, that all looked fine and dandy – even if very much shorter than it has been since I was two – and she didn’t even charge me, so there was a lot to do with running around doing publicity pics as best I could (local business, support, etc). After which I went for a nap and woke up looking like Tom Baker. Despite my best efforts with mousse, I appear to be doomed to stay that way, at least until it grows out. My prediction is I’m gonna end up with a Brian May before this is all better.

Two days after that, just as I was attempting to get the Twelve Days of Cthulhu-mas into a publishable format (and discovering I was probably going to have to do the whole. Thing. Over. Because I do not understand the difference between a JPG and a PNG, oh cruel stupidity)…

Dogface woke up ill. Like, really ill. I will spare the details in case anyone who knew him ever reads this and doesn’t need to know, but it was clear he was on his way out. Despite this, he faithfully tried to guard us as he always did, following us from room to room despite the way his legs wouldn’t carry him half the time, and generally just breaking my heart. I couldn’t concentrate on the redoing of the (possibly) publishable, and I feel really bad about that because one of the G Monster’s mates offered to help me out with that and as far as I know she’s upholding her end of the work.

Dogface got put down this evening. I’ve only had the one dog, so I don’t have any real comparisons, but he was the most stubborn little bugger I’ve ever seen. Once he decided it was time, he fought against every pill, injection, offer of food, syringe of nutrients, you name it. He was also utterly faithful. I know he was just a pet, and we only had care of him for a year, but he would be mortified if he understood he was thought of as just a pet. He did his best, even at the last, to guard us and count us and make sure we were safe, just as he did since he arrived; it’s just civilisation outstripped evolution there.

I’m still catching myself looking round to check he’s okay, though it’s only been a few hours.

He was well-known to the G-Monster’s entire family, having previously been cared for by his sister, his mum, and his brother, so there are lots of people grieving for him right now. On at least four continents, apparently, which is not bloody bad for a dog. Especially one who wasn’t expected to make it past ten weeks, let alone past fifteen years. Ha, we were so pleased that we had managed to take him on so many adventures in the past year, but on comparing notes with the G Monster’s sister tonight, turns out a lot of the places we’d taken him, in the hopes that they’d be exotic, were places he’d been with her, too.

I’d go into more personal details but I know he was other people’s dog too, so I will leave it at this: I was kindly leant copies of his puppy photos. Here he is, oldest photo I have to newest.

baby simba


Awww. RIP. And yeah, Dogface, you didn’t manage to cost us all our money, as predicted, but you sure did break my heart.

2018 – a retrospective

Ah, it’s that time of year when I get to get all about me in public (oh wait, it’s a blog about me and my artistic endeavours, I do that every time I post, whoops).

So, how do I feel I did this year? Well, it started out on target:

1. Fix greenhouse.

The greenhouse we finally put up last autumn lasted a whole week before a storm ripped the sides off. We reinforced it with batons, I spent a happy week building lots of bespoke furniture for it, and it managed to house my first successful tomato crop before the storms ripped the roof off instead. So we went back in with the batons and reinforced the roof, too.

Status: so far so good. Unfortunately, all it needs is a really good storm and the whole thing is away again, no matter what we do to it.

2. Get new job.

This was kinda urgent since the old job was a contract. My boss got it extended, which was very sweet, but all good things come to an end. As luck would have it, I got a new job that began the very next day. Miles and miles further away, slightly fewer hours, slightly lower pay, but any port in a storm, what? Status: sorted.

3. Get taken back on at old job.

Would you Adam and Eve it, almost as soon as I started the new job they needed someone to fill in at the old one again. So I took on both.

Status: ker-ching!

Sadly, this had a bit of an impact on the old free time, as did:

4. Organise hen-do for best mate

As the only bridesmaid/ maid of honour for me mate’s wedding, it fell to me to do the honours for the hen-night. And with only three weeks’ notice, what! There was no time to get money out of everyone up front (hassling people you don’t know for cash is always the best way to make friends before you see them all at the wedding, right?) so I told them it would be free and hosted it at mine. (See under: ker-ching, above). I mean, we had room to sleep twelve. Just about. If I got more beds. And gave the place a thorough sprucing-up; by which I mean, not only moving everything out the way and giving the place a hose-down and several coats of paint, but also building some walls that had been left unfinished when we first got the place. Yes, myself and the G Monster had quite merrily* lived in that squalor for over a year while doing up the main house, but asking other people to do so? Unthinkable!

*For a given definition of ‘merrily’, obviously.

In my panic, I went a bit balls to the wall with the nautical theme (the wedding was at a lighthouse) – sent them on a cruise, hired a naked butler, put up an ‘under the sea’ theme for the lounge, bought pirate-themed cocktails, made the guests fish about in a paddling pool filled with coffee and cocoa powder with their toes for coins (I ran out of time to make them walk the plank, which was going to be done blindfold in the hopes that they would believe they would fall into water rather than just being on the lawn).

Status: There were inflatable parrots everywhere in the morning, including in the toaster, so I think it was a success?

5. Build lean-to log store


I did this in a couple of days out of only what was lying around, and very pleased with myself I was too. Unfortunately for me, next door promptly built a lean-to too, only hers is professionally-made by a team of workers, and is a gigantic thing made of all the shiniest materials. You have an excellent view of it from my lean-to, which you could easily fit twenty of into her one. In fact, our house would fit into it. She is lovely, so I am not jealous at all. Am not.

Status: Okay, I totally AM.

6. Me mate’s wedding

I got through this without participating in any arguments, letting the bride down or making a Scene, which is my best-case outcome for social interactions. Also, the lassie who did my make-up made me look like Katie Perry. Although according to the photos I actually looked like a giant blue pineapple, but you can’t have everything. The bride looked wonderful, the cake was an octopus attacking a lighthouse, the first dance was in a bouncy castle, the photos were amazing.

Status: It was awesome.

7. Operation Windbreak

It’s a bit windy here, almost all the time. A lot of the time it’s very windy. I had tried planting all the fruit bushes along the front very close together, but they still hated being the first thing the gales hit after the wind-farms you can see on the horizon. I’ve been feeling a hedge might help – despite the fact that we have a big hedge and a big hedge along the side, and sure, you’re still blown off your feet on especially windy nights – but I had to talk the G Monster into it. However, with all my spare cash from working two jobs, I now had money to burn. I just had to build some mighty raised beds for the fruit bushes to move into, dig out 45 bushes and move them, dig a 33m trench and prep it, shift all the strawberries that had escaped into the lawn while I was working two jobs, make some planters, put up a trellis, and get it all done before 130 baby trees arrived in November.

operation windbreak 1.jpg

November came and went with no baby trees. Or confirmation email, now I came to think of it. So I repeated the order. 260 baby trees turned up, nearly giving me heart failure.

Status: if this works, it will be the densest hedge in all Christendom.

8. Dogface!

dog with hair

I’ve spent years saying I want to get organised and disciplined enough to get up early before work every day and take some exercise. Last Christmas the universe sent us a dog, so now I damn well have to, let that be a lesson for everyone reading this. He turned 15 in November, and the G Monster’s sister came to celebrate with him. We have fallen in love with him soooo hard. This year we took him to Wales, where he got ill, and Stonehenge, where he walked 10 miles in one day (and got ill), and Arran, and the Lake District, so whatever he was up to for the first 14 years of his life, he’s been about a bit now. I don’t know if it’s possible for dogs to be on the spectrum, but he does have a number of… odd… habits:

  • If you throw a stick for him and it lands on the path, he will tidy it away to the side.
  • Shortly after arriving, he banned himself from going on the furniture.

Obviously your dog (or cat, or tortoise or whatever) is objectively the best one in the whole world, but Dogface is the best one for us.

Status: yay, Dogface. Never leave us. Oh wait, one day you totally will.

9. The Twelve Days of Cthulhu-mas

I am laying the blame for this on the G Monster’s sister. When she came up for Dogface’s birthday she said she would commission a portrait of one of her own dogs but “didn’t want to do it right before Christmas because you’ll get stressed trying to do that plus Christmas”. This was very sweet and thoughtful on a number of levels, but sadly I got a fever right after and, knowing I was free of the stress of trying to do a Commission Plus Christmas, I spent the next three weeks doing something far more stressful instead. Go me. I should be proofing it for stray pixels right now, in fact, because having got this far I might as well go the whole hog and attempt to put it out as a novelty book.

Status: who the hell do I think I am, eh.

10. Volunteering

I’ve spent years saying I want to get organised and disciplined enough to do some volunteering, because I am conscious that I have a very idyllic, me-centred life and ‘should give something back’, and also, see under 8) above, I am incapable of learning from my mistakes. I was more specific about this notion, however – it has to be volunteering that doesn’t involve a) going anywhere or b) meeting people or c) interacting with people. Lest you think it’s laziness, it’s not; it’s simple cowardice.

Comeuppance arrived the week before Christmas when the G Monster’s mate needed someone ‘reliable and conscientious’ to help out with some charity work at short notice; all those people were busy, so she got me. Boom boom.

Status: I have spent the festive period on one hell of a learning curve.

11. But, wasn’t 2018 supposed to be all about the art and writing and stuff?

Yes, yes it was. I just wanted to get my feet clear first. Never do this. It’s like in Red Dwarf (the book, not the series) where Kryten, the droid who is programmed to clean up after humanity, is on his way to escaping from Better Than Life. Only he sees a pile of dishes that need washed, so he decides he’ll just get that done before he goes. Three months later the pile is no smaller and he realises he’s been conned. If you never do anything creative until you’ve got your feet clear, this will be you. It’s certainly me.

Anyway. Here we are in 2019, which I am starting with a bugger of a head-cold. The dishes are done, the world outside is so frozen I just had to use a pick-axe to break up the mound of left-over earth that the G Monster has been giving me meaningful hints about getting out of the way, Dogface has been taken for a three-mile walk over the moors and is curled up asleep by my feet, and all is well with the world. Quick! Time to get creative!

The neighbours gave me a “spare skull”

So I was round for coffee at next door’s bit the other day, and they suddenly said, Do you want a spare skull for keeping things in? If not, it’s going in the garage.

Well of course, I said, mainly because I thought I had misheard the first bit, and anyway, who doesn’t need things for keeping things in?

I hadn’t misheard.


I think I’ll call him Monte. I thought of keeping my sharpeners in him because they keep disappearing, but alas, I am too late.