Monday, June 30, 2014

My Shortest Walk in Town

My shortest walk takes me down the street I live on to the newest landcare site; along a walking track and past another landcare site, over a foot bridge, through the carpark next to the town swimming pool; along a main artery into the 'business district', over a road bridge, back into my street and home.

The drive next to my house where I begin nearly everyone of my town
walks. The left border is planted out with native vegetation. To the right
the timber for the front porch awaits the return of the builders.

 I cross the street to the foot/bike path and turning my face into the
afternoon sun, walk to the newest of our Landcare
plantings at the end of the street. 

The Landcare site with Mullumbimby Creek below, through the young trees.
The new plants are in the foreground, heavily mulched with camphor laurel
wood chips. The river here is part of the Marine Estuary Park as it is tidal.
Low tide at the time of taking the photo.

From the planting site I walk along the newly concreted footpath toward where Saltwater Creek crosses the path to converge with Mullum Creek (local useage) to the right in the photo, behind the trees. The last house in the street is just out of sight to the left. 

Another Landcare planting to the left of the path. The native trees are between three and five years old. We had some good years with lots of rain when they went into the ground. The dead trees at the back (on the creek bank)  are the camphor laurels, a common woody weed. We poison them and they die over time providing roosts and perches for local birds in the meantime. To the right of the path are weeds weeds weeds. We're not allowed to touch them. I walk over the footbridge over Saltwater Creek.
From the footbridge I turn left and walk through a gravel and grassed
car-park next to the town swimming pool, closed for the winter. (with temperature
of about 3 degrees forecast for tonight the water will be pretty nippy)
I turn left again onto a footpath and road bridge. The tree is a Firewheel Tree.
The Saltwater Creek road bridge. This is the footpath. The road
makes a dogleg up ahead before it runs into the shopping street. 
Saltwater Creek from the road bridge. It is still low tide and
hardly a dribble of water can be seen here. We in our
Landcare group are proud of this section of the creek.
Both banks have riparian forest growing along them. The
planting to the left is fifteen years old and even  looks like forest. 

From here my walk is about another fifty paces before I turn left again into Whian Street, where I live. Another twenty meters and I am home. As I said this is my shortest walk. Not for exercise, but to check on the new Landcare site. Or to see various places where fungi might have come up after rain. Or to get a breath of fresh air when the weather is wet or too windy to go far. Or to check the tide. Or to get an idea. Or ...

Friday, June 27, 2014

My First Posting to #SaturdayScenes

(Obviously need a pic here, or the Saturday Scenes graphic. But another first was retrieving the pic below from dropbox. Me oh my)

First scene from Monster-Moored for #SaturdayScenes
(Google+ doesn't let formatting through, will have to dust off my HTML for bolding and paragraphing)

1. Tardi Possessed
Tardi stopped paddling. He sat up on his surfboard. He imagined his legs hanging in the sea, shark bait, and hurriedly compared the distances from himself, a dot in the bay, to Cape Byron in the southeast, the Quarry Lane ridge, and Mt Chincogan in the north.
He slid into the water and checked the undersea to the blue limits of his goggle-augmented sight. No, there weren’t any large grey marauders anywhere taking an interest in him. If there were, Polk loved to say, nature would have its way. No use agonizing over your death by shark before the fact. For a top surfer, Tardi remained stupidly frightened of white pointers. The local sharks, grey nurses, were micro-chipped with human aversion technology.
Up for a breath.
He duck-dived to get an accurate fix on his position. The Twin Camel Humps, the stony hillocks that once were signposted as The Pass were below him. Dragging his board along by the leg-rope he swam to the ocean-side of the Humps where a sunken prawn trawler lay.
He’d paddled out to check the weird new coral. Just the thing for an under-wave shot for the video he was putting together for his application for the Virtual Surfing job. Which he needed for rent money. Which he needed to move out of the depot. It’d been eight years since Steve’s accident and his father would probably never forgive Tardi for his part in it.
His stroke became erratic as he remembered the disaster. 
Concentrate! Get out from under the old man’s rule and you won’t need to remember it all the time. He glimpsed the silvery clumps out of the corner of his eye. The silver coral grew in a squared pattern – ten rows of the clumps – over the wreck’s upper flank. In a pattern at all, they had to have been seeded there.
Up again for a breath of air.
He checked the sea surface for triangular fins. The east was too bright to see much with the sun still only a couple of hand-widths above the horizon. He turned in the water by sculling with his hands and kicking with his feet. The coast was dark blue and rumpled with hills. The surface of the sea was like a bronze mirror. No wind. No swell either. His surfboard only moved because he came near it, troubling the water.
He squeezed his eyebrows together to adjust his new live-mind goggles for magnification, took a deep breath and dived to the limit of his leg rope. The early sunlight trembled through the glassy green-blue water and reflected off the barbs, is what he called the silver coral’s trembling hair-like structures. He decided that the sun’s rays glancing over the hairs caused the shimmering-net effect people told him about.
Up again.
Another long look in every direction over the water surface.
His surfboard lifted a centimeter or so.
He counted seconds, hanging in the water. Twenty.
The board lifted again.
Cooler water from the depths raised goose bumps on his legs. It’s the swell starting. Get on with it.
grung grung grung grung grung grung
A vibration. He sank to hear it underwater.
Rung grung, rung grung, rung grung.
Sounded like an engine. Nothing to see yet. He trod water against the increasing strength of the swell. Could it be the Virtual Diving Boat? He grinned without letting water in. He wouldn’t mind a ride after he got his sequence. He kicked upward to contact the driver.
The water trembled, he with it, the boat was that near!
The white keel cut through the blue underwater morning, straight at him.
The stupid diver! He sculled frantically down and backward.
The boat lifted over a final little swell. Crashed onto his surfboard.
A force clad in a million bubbles punched him backward, toward the wreck. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Spoiler Alert for "A Feast for Crows"

Still re reading the GRRM series, A Song of Ice and Fire.

Started on A Feast for Crows this morning. The Prologue introduces a mob of students studying to become maesters at the Citadel in Oldtown. Or not, we have to suspect in the case of Pate, the viewpoint character.

He is, after all, one of the Pates made famous on where a contributor thought of all the characters called Pate (there appear to be six or seven) as cannon fodder. Not that the originator of this theory used those words. I can't remember her/his exact turn of phrase.

If you've been to you'll know the impossibility of finding that comment again. It's a complex and densely written into site. I like it and even have an avatar that I confess I use but sparingly. My haunt tends to be the heresies.

One negative of being a writer is that I can now never read a novel and not be studying how the author solves the problems I encounter while writing. This morning I particularly noticed how GRRM ties descriptive passages (narration) to the viewpoint characters.

I quote, "He has a mocking name for everyone, thought Pate, but he could not deny that Marwyn looked more a mastiff than a maester. As if he wants to bite you." p9 of my 2011 paperback edition. Paragraph then goes into a more extended description of Marwyn the so called Mage without further reference to and by Pate until two paragraphs later. An informative conversation by the students about dragons and dragon-glass candles follows. Pate asks about the use of a candle that casts no light.

The italics are GRRM's. When I first read him, I thought they were a good way of indicating thinking. I did it too for a while, IE italicising thought. It raised the ire of many a reviewer. It seems only GRRM can get away with it. I don't know why.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Disappointment, Searching, Searching, Frustration and ... *&^%!!

Pair of Coprinus-like delicates, R de Heer

My fungi collection is getting so large, with over 300 species and 1800 photos, it is quite unwieldy to navigate through. Every time I put in new records, there's miles of scrolling to do.

Once I decided that I'd be better off with a database program, in which I could then also record notes about the fungi, I assumed I'd be able to download MS Access. I used that program about fifteen years ago and thought it would come back to me despite ongoing improvements. I began with watching some YouTube training videos.

Discovered along the way that MS Access can only be used on Mac platforms with Windows installed as well.

Too difficult.

I was disappointed to say the least.

Started researching my options. The Cloud seemed to be my best bet. Signed up on a couple programs to try them out. This one was too difficult. I want a relational program but I don't need all the math. That one wasn't as intuitive as it said it was. It seemed to be using a different language from everyone else. Another wasn't professional enough. How could I trust them with my data when I'm not comfortable being in the cloud as it is.

It seems I'm having to be a regular Goldilocks about database software?

The search continues.

Sunset Photo

Higher resolution version, R de Heer

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sunset in the Byron Shire

Sunset with Wollumbin, R de Heer

One result of the Sangeang Api volcano eruption recently was this gorgeous sunset in the Byron Shire.  The camera is looking to the north. Mt Warning/Wollumbin can just be seen sticking above the gap in the ranges. 

I quote from WIKIpedia, "Mount Warning is a volcanic plug of the now-gone Tweed Volcano located in Australia, 14 kilometres west-south-west of Murwillumbah, in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, near the border with Queensland." 

The hills nearer at hand to the left are the Koonyum Range, the escarpment formed by the eroded shield-eruption  of the Tweed Volcano. The cliffs are rhyolite, rock and soil are basalt.

To the right is the nearest low range that ends in Mullumbimby's own landmark, Mt Chincogan

The photographer herself is perched on a high bank above the road circling Hospital Hill, intent on not slipping down the already dew-wet grass. 

At the top of the hill is this object, part of the town water supply, decorated in the usual exuberance:

Artists Unknown, Photo by R de Heer

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Distraction, the Number One Hole in the Road

Spore print of an unremembered fungus fruiting body

The last three blogposts are nice examples of what I'm allowing myself to be distracted by from writing. There's other off-line stuff happening too. My mother is in hospital 45 minutes away by car, so there are hospital visits to fit in.

I'm organising a Fungi Workshop for World Environment Day, which is to take place on Friday 6 June, 2-5PM. I'm trying to finish off the renovations. IE he spare room, which still has to be painted. It's empty, that's as far as I have got. 

Yesterday I read DM Cornish's explanation for not being able to continue with his WIP and it resonated. Rang like a bell, in other words. I've been sitting on 50 000 words, about halfway the draft (Monster-Moored) for about two weeks. 

I finally figured it out. Like DM Cornish is stuck because he fears to write "the moment/scene in ECONOMOUS that motivated me to start his story in the first place"; so do I fear to write the scene in which Tardi Mack has to face his Point of Disbelief. 

It's halfway the novel. Crunch time. An important scene. I keep thinking how it wasn't that important before. What happened? A rewrite is what happened, I tell myself again. A chance to make the story stronger. Just do it. It's not that easy, I complain. 

There is nowhere to go once you become conscious of your unconscious strategies. I will get back to it. 

DM Cornish wrote The Monster-Blood Tattoo series known as The Foundling series in the US and Canada. A wonderful if dark story supported by Cornish's own illustrations and a well-

hanging together transmogrification of English requiring a large appendix, but such fun. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Designing and Constructing Book Covers

There is plenty of material everywhere once I started to search. Not all of it helpful but we all need to run with what suits us best.

I have had a go at doing my own.
It is what it is. An amateur's work. It isn't getting the look-ins.

So I searched first for people doing for me. If I want good surreal art, available on it'll be $100 to $250 and that in US dollars.

But I could only budget for that if I was publishing a novel, for example. For publishing short stories, I need to find another way. Came across Joanna Penn again. She has a fabulous website with much wonderful advice. I had it in my bookmarks. How often do we look at those after you have a few dozen?

Saturday it rained. After a spent an hour or so at the Mullum Big Picture meeting, I went home and using MS Word produced the following:
Book Cover Prototype 1

This is a first try. There are probably dozens of things that can be improved. I'm seeing for instance that the banner across the middle stops too soon, When did that happen? That the title is too near the top of the banner, my byline too near the bottom. Not where I put them. 

The bit of (actual) batwing on the right hand side is a placeholder. For to have a figure in the foreground, I do need an expert's help. The Creative Penn gives me a list of sites where I can get such help. Everyone writing about book cover design warns against using MS Word's fonts. Obviously the above are. Placeholders? Maybe. 

Water and sky in their unchanged state are from ; the batwing is my own photo.