Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Nothing's gone to plan tonight.

My son wanted to join a party of kids Trick or Treating around Cancajos without an adult in sight. Now Cancajos is full of bars, and now and then you get some dodgy people around. Sin City it ain't, you understand, but nor is it somewhere we could letave our son unsupervised. So I was going to supervise a party of two.

Then the other girl insisted on going with the unsupervised party, her parents said, "Oh no you don't," so she announced they'd ruined her life and she wasn't going out with us either.

Luckily my own son wasn't too fussed, but if I'd known we wern't going out, I'd have organised something at home.

A vampire for Halloween

The green threads wrapped around this parsley are dodder (Cuscuta). It's a parasitic plant without any leaves or roots of it's own. It finds a living plant, wraps around it, and digs sharp spikes into the victim plant to suck the juice. Other names include devil's guts, devil's hair, devil's ringlet, goldthread, hailweed, hairweed, hellbine, love vine, pull-down, strangleweed, and witch's hair. Essentially it's a vampire, and the dang thing's found its way into my garden when I wasn't looking. What's worse, it's flowering. I only hope to goodness I got to it before it set seed.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Sailing Boat and a Rainbow

I saw this boat from my balcony. I think it was trying to get to the harbour before the rain started.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Inferior

I just finished reading "The Inferior" by Peadar Ó Guilín.

I loved it.

This is Peadar's first novel, but I've admired his short stories for a long time. They stick in my memory them for years.

Although the novel's SF, it begins like standard fantasy dystopia, with the protagonist, Stopmouth running for his life, chased by intelligent animals who want to eat him. Then he turns back to help his brother, who escapes, leaving Stopmouth in mortal danger. When Stopmouth finally makes it home, he finds that his brother has grabbed all the credit.

Ó Guilín keeps up this pace all the way, with the surpises jumping out at you like marauding Bloodskins.

Stopmouth is my kind of hero. He doesn't think he's special - just the reverse - because he has a stutter and a charismatic older brother. But he's not stupid, and he has one plausible talent - he runs fast. He has to win through by his own efforts, so I cared. The other main characters are distinct and plausible too, from the brutal Crunchfist to the enigmatic Varaha.

It turns out that in Stopmouth's world there is no plant food. Apart from the insects, there are many intelligent species, and everything hunts everything else for survival. At this point I started thinking, "Hang, on, this ecosystem doesn't work," but this is indeed SF, and Stopmouth's world isn't what he (and we) thought at all. The truth is much nastier than that.

My only real problem with this novel is that it's the first of a trilogy, and I'm going to have to wait far too long for the next installment. No wonder it's coming out in eight (count 'em!) languages.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Driving Licences

I met Helen and Theresa in town this morning, to see if there was any progress on sorting out their Spanish driving licences. Nope. The man at the gestoría (paperwork agency) explained that the first thing they do is to contact the UK and see if it's a real UK driving licence, and he thought they did them in batches. Anyway, they hadn't done it yet.


But I went looking for some new plates. Now I'm not a great consumer, but we've had the same plain white plates since we were married - in fact I had them before we were married. And I was just plain bored with them.

While our son was little I felt that new plates wouldn't be worth the worry, but he's 11 now. But somehow most designs here don't appeal to me.

And I found just what I wanted - very dark brown on the underside and yellow shading to red on the top, and just 22€, so I wouldn't cry if they smashed anyway.

Now I got Helen and Theresa a set of crockery as a wedding present when they arrived on the island, and I remembered that getting the heavy, heavy box to the car half killed me. So this time I left my friends sitting at a pavement cafe beside the shop, minding the crockery, and I went for the car.

Here's the surprising bit. I drove through four green traffic lights, and the last one, beside the cafe, turned red as I arrived and stayed red just long enough for Helen to put the crockery in the car.

And after we got home the gestoría phoned to say that the police had confirmed that Helen and Theresa's UK licenses weren't fake, and could we come back to sign something.

So it's back to town on Monday.

And the novel's up to 62,916 words.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Scream Quietly

My story "Scream Quietly" is available in Escape Velocity Magazine - issue one. You can buy it at Lulu It's 156 pages of A4, or a download (which is cheaper).

And the editor said: "By the way, your story is the BEST one this issue, without a doubt. It is listed on the front cover. Unanimous vote by the staff. "

Of course now I'm grinning like a maniac.

Novel Progress

The rest of the day went fast, but I did manage some more work on the novel. I wrote myself out a timeline for what happens when, and things are much clearer. Plus 260 new words.

61,156 total.

I'll get there.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Cleaning up

Not financially, alas! I've done very little housework for over a week, so this morning I've been catching up. No fun, but I suppose there's a certain satisfaction.

With all the other stuff going on, the novel's still only 60,896 words. But there's a lot of the day left.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Franceses again.

Today I went to see my friends in Franceses, together with my son, Norma, and her friend. We stopped off at the mirador La Tosca to admire the dragon trees.

We admired their progress, had a nice lunch and went for the usual walk.

They have an enormous spider in the garden.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Cool Music

My friend Norma has her music up at Into Music. I think it sounds great.

A long week

It's been a rather long week. On Monday I gave my friend L a lift to the doctor, because she'd hurt her foot and couldn't drive.

On Tuesday I gave her and her little son a lift to the doctor's again, for his routine checkup.

On Wednesday I went up to the observatory with Norma and her visitor. That wound up taking all morning because I'd stupidly forgotten to get petrol beforehand, so we had to turn round, come back down, and fill up. Then when we got to the Galileo telescope, my husband wasn't there. He'd had to go and sort out a one of their diesil cars which somebody had filled with petrol! Luckily, we were able to go and see the Isaac Newton telescope instead.

And yesterday I went to the doctor's with another friend. We thought we were just going to get her registered on the health service computer, but there was a chance to see the doctor, so we grabbed it.

I seem to have spent most of today chilling out. But tonight I'm off out for a drink with Norma, Helen and Theresa. I feel I've earned it.

The novel's got up to 60,828 words.

Monday, October 15, 2007

60,000 reasons to celebrate

Yay! I wrote 50,000 words of a novel in November 2004, and one way and another, it got stuck there. By March 2005 it was still only 54,500, and I stopped again.

Well since late September I've been trying to write every day, and I've usually manged 200 words or so. At the weekend I finally reached 60,000 words.

There's still a long way to go, but at least it's moving, and I've found a technique to keep moving.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


We've got a rally going past our house today. As usual, I forgot to move my car before they closed the road, so I can't go and see my friend.

I really enjoyed the first few cars, then I got bored and worried about sunburn, so I went in. Now I'm getting heartily sick of the noise, and there's still at least half an hour to go before I can drive anywhere.

If you want to know how to take a photo with the rally car sharp and the background blurred, see the article on my website on panning.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Traditionally the chestnuts ripen in time for the Fiesta de San Martin (Martinmass)on November 11th. This year they're already falling from the trees, which I suspect is one more sign of global warming. I picked a few to try a still life, just for fun.

The bowl is a replica (from ancient Babylon, I think) that I bought ages ago from a museum catalogue.

Monday, October 01, 2007


My son's homework takes up most of the afternoons, so we've been neglecting his Godmother, Ana. On Saturday we finally got there and had a good time. Here's Ana's daughter, Nayra.