Category: NaNoWriMo

CampNaNo April 2017 (by )

I love writing challenges - they are a bit trickier these days with my limited time window of working brain but it is still possible. One of the things I like about them is not feeling al on my on 🙂

Alaric all set up for CampNaNo 2017

And so me and Alaric are signed up for one of the Nation Novel Writing Months add ons... CampNaNo. This used to be Script Frenzy and is where I'd work on my comic book/graphic novel stuff. Pretty much I still keep it as a Screnzy and work on my graphic novels and Al's role playing game. There is also a poem a day writing challenge NaPoWriMo in April so I bung things up on the WoPo site and the FB page and things to help others. I myself take it as a time to look over what I am doing with my poetry and spend a little time each day on it.

Catapault pencils for the Stubby Writing Challenge 2017

Both girls are doing their own CampNaNo - but me and Jean are having a writing race - known as The Stubby Challenge!!! This is how I did my first actual written and not voice to text stuff after the head bang (I think but to be honest it's all a little foggy back there!). It doesn't involve screens and I can write as big as I like and Jean loves it and... it works - though obviously it means that at some point there is going to have to be a lot of typing up!

The way it works is that we find funky pencils - this time it is catapaults to go with the camp them, last year I think it was dolphins and bats?

We have the ream of paper and our pencils and we write! Then when you are scratching the paper with wood you sharpen the pencil - the first to end up with a pencil stub wins! We even have a special Octarine pencil sharpener from the Discworld Emporium!

Jean Working on her Foodverse CampNano 2017

I'm slowely lurching my way through a novelisation of my first comic book script about how The Punk ends up being apparently immortal. It is slow progress but that is fine 🙂 Jean is working on her project from last year too - The FoodVerse - we typing up and editing chapter one An Apple Pavlova, now it is about about carrots.

Mary on the other hand is dictating a set of stories about a rainbow jungle and the sparkly creatures within 🙂 When the rest of us are working on our books she sits and colours in the picture she has chosen for the front cover. Interestingly they are quiet Roald Dahl in nature.

Mary Colouring in her Front Cover Campnano 2017

Of course I am still managing some typing so am kind of working on multiple projects - this means that I have to have check lists to keep myself on track especially as the time I can concentrate for is actually so small - I can't do hyper focus and I can't fall through the page - my brain just shuts down and I fall asleep! But I think I am getting there and producing good stuff.

So yeah CampNaNo is go and I am prodding people to write and create!

Shakespearian Mock Tales (by )

Twelfth Night mocktail

Last night we had the second ever Mock Tales - 2 hours of stories and writing creativeness with sticky non-alcoholic cocktails. They were Shakespeare themed as it was his 400th birthday at the weekend 🙂

I did 20+ pages of my comic book script/story board and now know how this story arc ends, Alaric managed 5000 words of our joint novel/series.

There were 3 of us so I was limited as to how many drinks I could make!

Twelfth Night mocktail A midsummer nights dream mocktail The Scottish Drink for Shakespearian Mock Tales Tempest non alc. cocktail for Shakespearian Mock Tales

Above are Twelfth Night which was minty, Midsummer Nights Dream which was vanillary, The Scottish Drink which was fruity, and The Tempest which was Sugary.

We also had home made Pizza which was dairy and gluten free - Mary had opinions...

Mary proclaiming her dairy and gluten free pizza is yucky whilst grinning and grabbing the next slice

I remembered that when I was in secondary school I became obsessed with The Tempest as a story and drew the whole thing as a comic - I wonder if it survives somewhere? I loved the stop motion animations they did of the shakespeare stories I need to try and find them for the girls.

Jean tried a Tempest before she went off to best - she was a little horrified at it's stickiness - she still drank/ate it.

Jean being unimpressed by mocktail

Recipes are being written down for Salaric Cooking before people start prodding again 🙂

The School Holidays Begin (by )

It is that time of year again when there are no school runs and I have no completely free child time - Jean however is almost ten so I can work whilst she is around now. In fact at the moment she is helping me!

So we let Jean plan the first day of the holiday - it was without Mary for most of it as it was a pre-school day and they continue during the holidays.

We constructed a plan based on the sorts of things she wanted to do - namely Home School which she loves and I initially came up with when we were snowed in at The Bakery back in her infant school days.

Home School Monday

We started with an American breakfast - Jean's school had done an Independance Day breakfast but the last term we have kept missing dates and time changing and the such like, probably due to my concussion. Jean was quiet upset about this so we investigated the sorts of things Americans eat for breakfast and decided it was a combo of a Canadian and Full English and set about creating our own probably very wrong breakfast!

Jean's American Breakfast

This of course started with us grubbing up potatoes from the garden - I used the bags we had for moving (from Essex which then got used for lots of things but all had busted zips or handles etc...), to grow potatoes in - I am phasing this out as most of the bags have reached the end of their life, and we now have an allotment!

Grubbing up the tatties

We were after the "new" white potatoes rather than the bigger potatoes and the pink/red potatoes so Jean kept checking with me she'd gotten the right type until I pointed out I was just grubbing up all useful potatoes as I needed to make a casserole with the turnips and beetroot from the allotment anyway.

Jean asking if freshly gubbed up potatoes are big enough

We harvested an entire pot of tatties which Jean then selected the ones we wanted for breakfast - we went with sauteed potatoes rather than the chips we'd seen in some of the breakfasts as we just couldn't cope with the idea of chips for breakfast.

Jean and her colindar full of potatoes

She then scrubbed them and chopped them whilst I started on the rest. Once that was done she mixed up the pancake mix, got plates out and general reminded me what I was doing! She also went to the shop to get three missing ingredients.

We used the flat bed sandwich toaster to cook the pancakes, this was the first time either of us had cooked this thicker type of pancake. It was fun and I put the coffee perculator on for me. Jean poured us juice.

Jean putting the maple syrup on pancakes

She took a stack of ten pancakes so it would look like the photos! And she doesn't normally eat maple syrup but she poured it on. She made up a granola and home made yogurt mix too.

Jean tucking into her American Breakfast

It was a HUGE breakfast - fresh sliced tomato, suateed potatoes, baked beans, 2 rashers bacon, 2 suasages, a fried egg, and 2 slices of toast! She basically ate the bacon and cereal and then nibbled on the pancakes all day. The rest did me and Mary for a meal each. 😀

We then learnt Latin, she did some at a language day at school and come home obsessed. She had a piece of paper she had already made notes on (mainly she observed that the Harry Potter series had used latin for the spells). When I say we learnt Latin, what actually happened was that I found a series on Youtube of which I followed the first lesson and then left her to it, she was on lesson 9 at the end with pages of notes.

I found her on google translate trying to check her own translation before she restated the vid to find out if she was right. Her translation was closer than google translates. I discovered I know random bits of latin - I assume from my Classical Civilization A'level. Later on I corrected Alaric's pronounciation as well coughs.

Then it was time for the first ever Stubby Marathon!

The Stubby Marathon Supplies!

I am still struggling with reading and writing, I am using voice tech or just going really really slowly in short bursts. But it is easier for me to do long hand rather than typing and it is a writing challenge month so I looked around and thought "you know what I have a ream or two of lined paper and lots of pencils that haven't even been sharpened!" - BAM!!!

The idea?

It is a writing marathon that will last at least the summer holidays - me and Jean sit for at least an hour writing trying to wear the lead out in the freshly sharpened pencil. Each day we see who has used their lead the most - we re-sharpen the next day so the points are the same so there is a day to day winner and an over all winner (you can write outside of the allotted time and I can't write for very long at all and have to make coffee in the middle etc...). Jean has written 2 stories and twice as many pages as me so far. I am designing a medal for her 🙂

This summer is our marathon summer but more on that later.

I think we then mixed things up a bit by having our outside time and snack before we started on our hour of art. This was basically us working our way through various kits Jean's had for birthdays etc... WHY OH WHY are the instructions in kids craft kits so dire? I mean they really are bad and I think most people think it's the kids just not getting it but it really isn't - it's the instructions :/

trying to work out the instructions to craft kits

It took me most of the hour and a very bad keyring, to remember some basic stuff that I could do before the concussion and have been doing since before I was Jean's age 🙁 This hour was frustrating for both of us but we decided to see it too the end and not jump kits and she at least made a lovely bracelet though with improvisation and not the technique that the kit was designed for!

Jean's shoe lace bracelet

She then played outside on the trampoline whilst I rested my brain, she then set herself up with her maths - these are GCSE level maths but with the questions in accessible easy comprehension which were ones my mum had for teaching those who had failed or not sat GCSE's the first time round. Some of them my mum had made herself and some were from packs provided by the college - the course was cut leaving my mum with all the teaching stuff and no one to teach 🙁

Then Al and Mary came home and we wizzed off to pick up some garden fairy lights which the girls put together whilst Daddy made dinner - they are bees and ladybirds and hopefully there will be a blog post on what we've done with the garden soon!

Jean and Mary putting together the bee and ladybird garden lights

Mary went to bed and then Jean and Alaric played with the electronic kits and only got shouted at once by me for making the radio they'd just built too loud (issue was they couldn't work out how to control the sound level - or so they say!).

Jean doing electronics with Alaric

We forgot to practice the recorder which Jean was going to attempt at 9:30 but I banned!!!

So I think that was an epic start to the holidays - since I started writing this blog post she has been writing schedules and naming each day - this was Home School Monday. But we have also had:

Tidying Tuesday, Wet Wednesday, Friend Thursday and today which was going to be Allotment Friday but then got turned into Cinema Friday has actually been named Freedom Friday as she decided to go home with her friend for a sleep over instead and pointed out that me and Al (Who has a day off of work) do not have either kid with us today.

Finishing Projects (by )

Ok so sometimes we have problems finishing projects, sometimes we have problems starting the projects we've got the bits for/need to be done. This has been a combo of things including house moves, sickness, changes of work or work regimes and of course the dreaded ADHD.

So to combat this I used to set myself weekly and mounthly goals but it had kind of stopped working so it was time to find a new way. And that way was a Finish Projects Month - I had done these before for writing and drawings but normally they focus on one or two main projects and what we wanted was something to get our A into G on all the small almost finished stuff.

Well my aim was to end up with one finished project a day, Al's was to mainly get the niggling DIY stuff sorted.

We failed but as always with these challenges it is not really a fail. So Alaric has done much metal work and drilling. Preparing our house for structured cabling and server housing in the workshop. These count as two projects that are now much much further a head than they would have been and they need doing URGENTLY. To make our lives easier with DIY he made a contraption so that he could carry part of the compressor into the house but leave the noisy bit in the workshop. That is one FINISHED PROJECT.

So:

1) Compressor mount and pipe carrier = FINISHED

2) Server case = getting there

3) Structured cabling = getting there

Jean now has a bit of trunking for her room and is very excited about the whole process. We also had to sort out craft areas and workshop etc... to make this work well.

4) Attic organised and craft's sorted = FINISHED (though still boxes of paper work to go through)

5) Workshop = one end SORTED

Then there was some paper work/bank bits which we will count as

6)

7)

On top of that we now have a nice rodent proof feed storage box for the chickens which needs to be put in place but is in the garden. This will allow me to sort out the shed and to shore it up a bit more so we can get a bit more life out of it :/ We also dealt with the flooring in the chicken run, which is now all nice though next time I need to dig down further and put gravel in but we are getting there with it!

8) Fed Bin = GOT

9) Chicken Run Flooring = SORTED

We also uped the exercise stuff, so Alaric is doing his runs and though I am not running I will be as soon as we can get me some shoes and me and Jeany are going climbing together once a week.

10) Climbing and running = OWNED!

Writing wise I've been being a bit lame and only managed to finish one flash fiction - which I remember coming up with the concept for in 2007 in Costa's in Cheltenham during the whole flood debacle. I'd typed the intro of it onto Magenta Monster in 2010 combining it with a story starter I'd picked up off of twitter - which had sparked the idea back to life :/ It is at least now finished!

11) Story The Tragedy of Love = FINISHED!!!

Oh and this prompted a bit of a blog clean up/updating session.

12) Blog sorting = SORTED

I made the girls dig out all their library books and we took them back and did all the niggly bits of shopping for the house (ie not just food).

13) Household admin/maintain = GOOD (never ever gets completely sorted EVER)

This then leads on to crafts and the like - so basically I was like arg!!! I have a crate of half finished kids craft project and like 3 of me craft project - this needs to be sorted NOW!!!

For a start there was the sock I had attempted for Al - it has it's problems but it is a nice sock, but fits Jean, has wholes in it and more importantly there is just one of it as I started in in what 2013? And did most of it and it had just been sitting there almost finished for the whole of last year - attic became a no go zone with building works a happening. Basically I've forgotten what I did so there is little hope of knitting another. But it is finished and now a base for something else - Jeany wants to turn it into a new purse/wallet for Alaric.

14) Al's Sock = Done by awaiting full incarnation

Having taken up crotchet and attempting to desperately learn the different stitches at the beginning of the year, I had ended up with lots of half finished squares - I now have 15 finished squares (still need to thread the ends away). They will either be flannels or squares for blankets depending on how square and what size they have come up!).

15) 15 crotchet squares = almost done

I'd sorted out all the knitting and sewing into project bundles and found I had some random pieces that I had no clue about. Fortunately whilst I was finishing off something else I remembered what one of them was, found the pattern, found my place in the pattern once more and finished it off - sadly it is only one side of a duck but I will be knitting the other half shortly - I needed the white wool to finish knitting Mary's Elsa dolly. This was supposed to be her main Christmas present :/ I still need to make some shoes and she needs sewing up and stuffing but I think she is getting there!

16) Duck toy = so not done yet but progress made!

17) Elsa Dolly = all knitted but sewing up, stuffing, hair and face needed

Alaric managed to finish two creeper faces on stuff I'd knitted ages ago.

18) Creeper faces = half done

However I have been creating more work for him in this area - I finally sewed together and stuffed the baby creeper plushy that I knitted for Jean ages ago - it was another stuck due to roof fix project! I should have gone with instinct and used foam except I hate foam so it has wadding in.

19) Baby Creeper sans face = OWNED!!!!

I wanted to finish Mary's fairy outfit that I have crotchet in giant chunky wool but it took me all month to get to the shop to pick up the last ball I need to finish the second shoe!

20) Fairy outfit = not done but materials got

And though I started them during the month there are also crotchet Easter Eggs - six of them 2 giants and 4 little ones. Jean wants more but as that is for the weekend I think she maybe whistling!

21) Giant Crotchet Easter Eggs = DONE

22) Mini Crotchet Easter Eggs = Done

There are also the epic Easter Egg Spoons we made at the weekend and the planter/seed markers.

23) Ester Egg Garden Ornament Spoons = FINISHED

24) Painted knife seed markers = FINISHED

And one dug over bed and allotment tidying (I have many other beds to dig), I also potted up half the seeds I want to grow in pots and fixed the sumps on the wormeries which I'd needed to do for a while.

25) Wormery sorting = DONE

26) Allotment = BEGUN!!!

27) Seeds = STARTED

Within this there was stuff like plant pots that had been painted by me as a teen and never used and grass heads that had been made and never used etc... so it was a job well done I think.

We also had Mother's Day Cake making with the girls which I'm counting as a finished project 🙂

28) Mushroom butterfly cake = BAKED and EATEN

And that leads on nicely to the girls... Jean has made bead eggs, finished off lots of the exercise books she has and been colouring in the felt pictures she had. Mary has been painting plant pots and making books, bits that had been pulled down/never gone up yet in their room have been sorted and THE GREAT CLOTHS SORT and some buying of the new happened. They finished Easter mobiles and we've put up the chinese lanterns that Jean had half made before the flood and have been sitting at the bottom of a crate ever since. We also did crayon rubbings and eater cards for their egg hunt.

29) Bead Eggs = FINISHED

30) Mary's Easter book about Elsa a.k.a birthday pressy for Al = ALmost there

31) Easter Mobiles = FINISHED (except that there is a chick missing but hopefully it will turn up at some point!)

There is still plenty left for them to do as there are half coloured in Easter bags and papier mache eggs and so on and obviously some of this is new kits they got for the Easter Hols. Of course Jean did the huge candle make which over lapped the beginning of this month and was quiet frankly EPIC!!!

32) Easter kids projects = in progress

33) Candle Making = DONE, FINISHED, EPIC NOOODLES!!!!

Alaric also set up opportunistic SMTP encryption for the server cluster, and renewed our self-signed SSL certs - which is for email stuff so I am hoping my email will once again be usable which it hasn't been :/

34) Emails = sorted (hopefully)

I also finished sewing together 2 bags knitted out of fluffy and in one case sparkly wool. One of these I started BEFORE I started going out with Alaric and it was supposed to be a shoulder wrap but I couldn't knit so it was lumpy and bumpy and I ran out of wool and tried to use the same type but different colours and... it works much better as a bag and can now (finally) be sent to the person it is for!

35) Fluffy rainbow record bag = COMPLETED

36) Purple fluffy purse/bag = COMPLETED

Oh and I finished Alaric's new scarf which I did on day one and Alaric has proudly been wearing it for most of the month 🙂

37) Accidental West Ham Scarf = HAMMERED

Ok so maybe that isn't so much of a fail as I had thought! And I now know exactly how many project there are which always helps 🙂

I also drew a portrait of Sir Terry Pratchett and think I now have most of my note books sorted.

38) Drawing of Terry Pratchett = sadly done

Within March I also organised and ran workshops on: mothers day card making, kids comedy night including slapstick and improv, Easter egg hunts including life sized Alaric Bunny - for which I had to make a tail!

Plus a writing meet.

39) Giant Bunny Tail = OWNED

And I almost forgot that Jeany made soaps! And asked for and earnt herself £10 worth of more soap making supplies (the original kit being from a couple of birthdays ago).

40) Jean's Soaps = LOVELY

Eeep! There's more! At the beginning of March it was Downes Syndrome Awareness Day and Mary's pre-school had an event celebrating one of the little ones with them and requested an odd sock day. So I made a mooky - a sock monster like I used to make with nan and uncle (for those of you who met me after I was married Benny was Downes and died a couple of months after our wedding), it seemed appropriate to me, though I've had to explain to several people who were concerned that I was making an "odd monster" for the awareness day. Basically I made a cuddle toy for Mary out of odd socks.

41) Mooky for Moo the Mooky = DONEDID

Ooo also we settled in the new chickens 🙂

42) Chickens!!!! = settled and laying

So what of this coming month April?

I'm doing two writing challenges - one is Camp Nanowrimo which is linked to the novel writing madness I do in November. Script Frenzy is no more so I am doing it for Camp but always I am working on my comic books which are based in my Punk Universe. But also in general I will be catching up on all things comic related stuff including the pending blog posts and stuff about the Wiggly Pets, but obviously main focus is getting the 100 page script written.

The second is NaPoWriMo which is a Poem a Day writing challenge and will be the thrid one for this year - I tend to go with the "I am going to spend 30 hrs on poetry this month" approach which as I am running workshops at the wonderful Poetry Festival as well, should not be a hard one to complete 🙂

Better get one with some of the work I suppose!

The Chronically Ill and Missing Stuff (by )

As anybody who has spoken to me recently will know I was looking forward to this weekend, I had the night of dangerous writing which to be fair was only a maybe as I needed to see when my practice sessions and stuff where, and the Writing Retreat.

But this week had been a bit rough but I thought I was managing it ok, and I had already had to do damage limitation and not go to my Chuffing It class. Friday I felt a bit odd but in a way that could have been nerves over doing a new show for the first time a school and the first time on my own too!

I really enjoyed the shows and the kids were great but in the car on the way home I got really sick, well not really sick but suddenly very flu-like very chronic pain flare, even my pelvis hurt. I was scrubbed out and didn't make it to Bristol. Then I spent today napping and having warm baths and stuff.

Then this evening I find that due to being out of it yesterday afternoon and evening and really and truly this morning - I'd missed the writing retreat which I was desperately trying to be well enough to go to.... tomorrow - yeah somehow I managed to get my days confused and I only found out after getting an email saying how unfair it was of me not to turn up as there was a waiting list.

This is something that happens to chronically ill people no matter how much you try, regardless of how much you make sure that you pay for things you do not go on etc... people just do not understand and one of the things that was hard to learn on the pain management course 10 odd years ago - is that you can't really expect them too either.

From their point of view you are just being awkward.

It doesn't help that now I have a extra food issues and they had gone to extra effort to cater for that.

Of course if I had known I wasn't going, I would have let them know but I didn't and I am uber hacked off that I missed it - not that I could have gone even if I had been with it enough to realise what the day was!

It's the same mechanism by which the chronically ill lose friends as people think the last minute cancellations are excuses for "I don't like you".

And annoyingly it may be flu but equally due to the arthritis symptoms resurfacing we looked at the breakfast I'd been eating this week. It turns out that some porridge contains a thing called spelt - this turns out to be a kind of wheat - it never occurred to me it would be it oat based stuff and I was only having it as the nurse had increased my calories and it's frosty icing mornings :/

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