Hello World

In the first eighteen months of the new Fortress Mamea, our chicken flock increased a number of times. (We can’t remember how many times; we’re softies with fuzzy memories.)

How could we say no to the girls when they got broody? They were merely heeding the call of nature. And when the fertilised eggs hatched and there were soon cheeping puffballs of fluff underfoot — how could we say no to life itself?

When some of the puffballs grew into ambitious young roosters and started beating up on Ghost Dog, ending the aspirants’ lives was an easy choice. After a couple of culls, I called a moratorium on our chickens having babies. It’s all well and good when everyone’s getting along, I could imagine my mother lecturing me, until it’s time for someone to end up in the pot.

The flock has remained at a steady twenty or so the past eighteen months. It’s required vigilance: collecting eggs every single day, turfing wannabe broodies out of the laying boxes so they don’t get ideas.

Throughout the month of December, I noticed one of our chickens behaving suspiciously. What with the festive season and everything else, her movements were noted but not closely observed.

More fool me:

Pollo and brood. (Photo: DJ Ash.)

Fifteen chicks arrived on New Year’s eve.

Brilliant. Just… brilliant.

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Lud

The first warning signs showed a couple of years ago.

As good as it gets: Chrome 49.0.x.

Fortress Mamea runs on 10.6 Snow Leopard, an operating system that’s now seven generations behind the current OS.

We like 10.6. It works for us. The Lovely Wife can still watch ponies galloping in slow motion on Youtube, while I can keep in touch with friends and colleagues near and far (and still write, obviously). Online schmoozing sometimes required Skype which has been a no-brainer.

Until now.

‘Download the latest version now‘ certainly provides the latest version… which won’t run on 10.6.

I guess the Macbook Pro is slowly but surely headed for pure writing duties.

An upside could be more efficient writing.

But I wouldn’t count on it.

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Eleven Years

Last Sunday was the eleventh anniversary of this website.

I kid you not:  unless my maths is awry, we opened in 2006, our first anniversary would’ve been 2007, which means 2017 makes this site eleven. Years. Old.

Random 2009 pic: less grey hair and my previous pair of specs on my part, otherwise the same old Dog.

I’ve a few productions under my writing belt, I’ve been published, and now I’m also writing for theatre. I have representation. Various projects are in various stages of progress. There are a disturbing number of people out there who I’ve never met who know my face and/or my work.

I reside in a new, improved (and defensible) Fortress Mamea. I remain enthralled by The Lovely Wife whose love and calming words have kept me out of jail all these years. Our children are making their way in this world. Our animals are happy and healthy and loved.

A touch over a decade on, I feel considerably more comfortable with referring to myself as a writer. I’ve a better grip on my process, my grasp of the rules and tools is less tenuous, and my slate of projects means I’m rarely short of a story or an idea to explore or develop.

… Yeah. I think I might have the hang of this writing gig now.

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Interim Post #02

June 2015: The Exmoor Mini on a windswept paddock far, far from the West Auckland quarter-acre.

 

January 2016: The Exmoor Mini in her assigned paddock at the new Fortress Mamea.
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Lop

I was working in the keep the other morning when I turned in my chair and saw a large grey shape in the doorway and thought, [EXPLETIVES], that is one big [EXPLETIVES] rat!

Then it lopped away at my big girly gasp which roused The Dog and The Puppy, and after some running and hopping and hiding, the interloper was captured alive.

Nice one, Stu.
The interloper, dubbed Stu, in captivity.

We’re not sure how the rabbit got into the fortress. Presuming it gained entry through the cat flap by the dining hall, it made it past our presumably sleeping guard hounds (their performance against their KPIs will be noted accordingly) to reach the keep which is at the opposite end of the building. I suspect The Kitten brought it in for some playtime but the rabbit is unmarked.

Anyhoo, we have a rabbit in Fortress Mamea. And it’s a cutie.

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Tight Spot

Now that the cavalry element have settled on the same property as The Goddess, they’ve been finding ways to make mischief. The Exmoor Mini in particular has provided entertainment (for me, at least; The Goddess, not so much) by having her own ideas about how things should be done. One of those things is the paddock to which she is allocated at any given time.

I totally understand her modus operandi:

  1. arrive in new paddock with quiet excitement;
  2. hoover up all easily grazeable (?) grass;
  3. do a second, slower, pass of the paddock to eat remaining grass;
  4. patiently find opportunities to look meaningfully at human captors;
  5. when captors don’t bend to one’s will, wait for dark to make alternate arrangements;
  6. greet captors from outside allocated paddock the following morning.

Most times, her alternate arrangements are awesomely worth it. (Luckily, there are enough fences and gates on the new Fortress Mamea lands that she can’t hurt herself.)

Some times, things don’t quite work out.

The Exmoor Pony in a bit of a tight spot.
The Exmoor Mini on the edge: those luscious dark green leaves behind her hide a sharp two-metre drop into the stream.

Same thing with my projects: some take off; some don’t.

I’m in the process of mothballing a project I’ve poured 250 hours* and a good amount of money into since late last year. I’m consoling myself that I’m mothballing it rather than scrubbing it: I’ll learn what I can from the circumstances of its being mothballed, and try again next year.

Meantime, I’ve got a couple of other projects — including Kingswood which has attracted some interest** — that I’ve been itching to get on with.

I can’t help thinking that if this had happened a few years back, all writing would have sulkily ceased, this blog would have gone black be very quiet (yet again), and The Goddess would be girding herself to smack some sense (yet again) into the sighing hairy blob in a corner of the keep***.

I daren’t suggest that I might be maturing in this writing gig. But tight spots like this are no longer the catastrophic failures they used to feel like. They’re 1). a learning opportunity, and 2). time to spend elsewhere.

 

* Damn straight I keep a worksheet of how I spend my time.

** I know! Actual outside-family-and-friends interest!

*** The Goddess doesn’t smack me about, not even figuratively. She’s pretty good like that.

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Dog Cuts

Back in the Big Smoke, The Dog and I had a basic three-mile running route that I called, with writerly flair, the fleur-de-lis.

Fleur-de-lis: ‘X’ marks the start and finish point.

(I’ve just remembered I usually referred to it as the cloverleaf route but fleur-de-lis has a certain ring, yes?)

The first iteration of Fortress Mamea being in suburbia, the route followed roads and was all asphalt, so the dog ran on a lead. (We had another couple of routes, five and seven miles respectively, in the Waitakere Ranges where she could run off-lead.) The routes and distances were fixed, and for over a decade we ran those three, five and seven mile distances together.

The current Fortress Mamea is on a piece of land large enough to allow the dog — and The Puppy, now — to run off-lead without worrying about automobiles or newly-relocated townies who think all dogs should be on leads with muzzles. After a few months of getting to know the property, we have a running route that I have dubbed the corazón.

Corazón: I know the heart-shape only really applies to the loop-de-loop on the left there but most of my running time is spent in The Wood.

The corazón runs through two wooded areas (The Wood and The Copse) that are separated by paddocks, meadows, and the fortress itself. The running surface includes long grass (that can obscure uneven terrain), half-hidden tree roots (that can still catch a foot or toe), and loose sticks (that can stick, stab or trip you up). The wooded areas are pretty cool to run through (they make me flash on the opening minutes of Silence of the Lambs) — check it:

The Wood: from within.

At first, The Dog ran the full route with The Puppy and I.

Lately, she has taken to running more efficiently:

Corazon: with dog cuts.

For me, my fitness regime of, in effect, running around in circles, is more of a journey-rather-than-the-destination kind of thing.

For her, it’s a social thing: she still gets to run (mostly) (kind of) with the pack. Since she has twelve years and several thousand kilometres under her collar, I think she’s entitled to conserve her energy for other pursuits.

Photo1281 - Version 2

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