The first warning signs showed a couple of years ago.
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.
I guess the Macbook Pro is slowly but surely headed for pure writing duties.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
arrive in new paddock with quiet excitement;
hoover up all easily grazeable (?) grass;
do a second, slower, pass of the paddock to eat remaining grass;
patiently find opportunities to look meaningfully at human captors;
when captors don’t bend to one’s will, wait for dark to make alternate arrangements;
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.)
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.
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.
(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.
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:
At first, The Dog ran the full route with The Puppy and I.
Lately, she has taken to running more efficiently:
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.
First, my apologies for the cliffhangers — in case you were wondering:
the buggered burner: Dave the Chimney Sweep rebuilt the burner and re-installed it a fortnight later. The time we were without heating was survived with little incident and few cross words, thanks to an oil column heater in the smallest room, and a steady supply of hot water bottles.
the blown B1: this, too, needed a stint in a workshop, but The Boys from McQuinn’s were terribly helpful with a loan pump to keep the water flowing, and generous with their patience and knowledge (like I said, the people up this way are helpful and friendly).
the correspondence of D F Mamea, Esquire, newly of Northland: those situation reports are of much interest to myself and The Goddess but I bet they are of little interest to you, Beloved Reader — you’re here because I’m (supposed to be) all about the scriptwriting, and the last few posts, as entertaining as they may be, haven’t really been about that; I thank you for your forbearance.
Having said all that about the relevance of our new digs to writing…
The previous inhabitants had let the property go to seed in various areas (q.v. burner and B1), the most visible sign being the establishment of Jerusalem cherry through The Wood and in the Green Zone. Although its green, orange and red fruit provide a splash of colour, its fruit is rather poisonous.
So, most days since we took possession of this land, I’ve been pulling that weed out by hand (Fortress Mamea is organic, thank you). It’s a simple enough job, mindless and repetitive (and immediately gratifying) but because a considerable part of the property is under this weed, it’s also an awfully immense task.
The only way to handle the size of the task at hand has been to a). prioritise the workload, and/or b). do it a bit at a time. Since the weed is fruiting right now, the priority is to pull out whatever’s fruiting because each of those fruit contain at least a dozen seeds, and any one plant can have as much several dozen fruit on them. Sometimes that gets boring — or overwhelming — so I stake out a little 5 by 5 metre area and pull out all of the Jerusalem cherry, and afterwards stand back and feel a little bit like General Sherman.
Which is a typically long-winded way of saying… I’ve started writing again.
The move to Northland, and the work required to tidy up the property and its surrounds for clear fields of fire, have consumed much more of my mind and energy than I expected. The blog posts — as you can tell — have been more about the new circumstances rather than trying to see the writing angle in things.
But I’ve started writing again. Which meant I had to dig out my notes and files to try and remember where I’m at with various projects. Some projects are so large and/or complex that I’ve had to prioritise my method of reacquaintanceship, or nibble at the edges to make sense of a small part of it. It feels a little overwhelming — a bit like a patient coming out of a coma and trying to come to terms with the time lost — but it’s manageable. I can prioritise. Or I can start small.