Annabel’s Teapot

This is a short story for the Australian Writer’s Centre Furious Fiction December 2022 Contest for which I was longlisted.

In addition to being limited to 500 words, the other rules were:

  • Each story had to begin with a 12-word sentence.
  • Each story had to include the sale of a second-hand item
  • Each story had to include at least five (5) different words that end in the letters –ICE.

Curious, when the entirety of life’s endeavours is little more than junk. Curious and pathetic. A loose collection of knickknacks, collectable items, kitsch.
Annabel loved her crochet samplers, her porcelain miniatures, her creepily-staring dolls, but she worshipped her spoons. She bid them good night, every night, and she stopped and stared at them every single day, sometimes finishing a nice cup of tea whilst standing unsteadily in front of them.
Her life consisted of very few lasting things. No children, not a single loved one still alive. Those spoons were the only thing she cared about. For them to be here, in this shop, awaiting appraisal and an unfair amount of currency for them was an injustice. Annabel’s life should be worth more than that.
The shop owner regarded the spoons with slightly less disdain than he did the man presenting them. Both were of swarthy persuasion, older and greying, and had been granted citizenship many years ago. But their countries of origin had fundamental differences of policies, and now a prejudice against the other permeated their very cell structures.
Annabel’s spoons would never be here were she alive. The only way someone would get them off her and get them here, was if they knew she was dead.
The man presents a tea set, the shop owner shows even more disdain, pointing out that it hasn’t even been given a proper clean. The tea remnants stain the bottom and one of the saucers shows the striped imprint of a licorice Allsort that was unstuck from it at some point. They bicker, the shop owner doesn’t want it until I call out that I would like to purchase it.
“Fifty.” The shop owner didn’t waste even a heartbeat before turning to me with an outrageous price. The seller’s eyes light up until he looks into my eyes and there’s a flicker, but I don’t think he recognises me.
“Twenty.” It’s a stupid game to play, but play it I must.
“Thirty-five.” The shop owner goes instantly to split the difference but catches the look of excitement on the seller’s face, leans over to him with his hand held up and reminds him, “Fifteen to you.”
The man doesn’t like it, but relents. Perhaps bolstered by this early success, he then takes among the first offers for the spoons and hastily departs. He’s easy enough to follow home because he lives next door to Annabel. I’ve seen him several times, though I don’t believe he’s ever really gotten a good look at me. When he answers the door, his brow gives a crinkle that says he’s confused as to how I was at the shop earlier and now on his front porch.
“I don’t know why, but you got in there before I could finish cleaning up at Annabel’s.” I push into his house. “Now it looks like I’ve got a whole lot more to clean up than just the nightshade from the teapot.”
I pull the door closed behind me.

Nobody ever had to beg me to play hockey

“You know,” my roommate said to me over the wind and traffic noise in his CJ7 Jeep as we blasted down the highway, “Nobody ever had to beg me to play hockey.”

We were roommates and teammates on Colorado’s 2nd-ever team in the Major League Roller Hockey comp. The 1st-ever team was the region’s Golden Boys, the top players and shiniest roller hockey heroes in Denver’s surrounds. The Rocky Mountain Wolverines boasted years and years of collegiate and junior ice hockey talent and the leftovers, politically and otherwise, tried out for the “other” team in a bit of a coup (or a fu-coup, as it were).

Our coach/owner was as ragtag as we were and we all loved the idea that nobody expected us to even form a team, let alone win anything. Coach was as full of big talk and big promises as he was empty when the bar tab came around. We exchanged looks at times, but we all believed because we wanted to play so badly.

We started out as the Mile High Moose and we played a couple of interesting games against the Wolverines to kick off MLRH’s sophomore season, even besting them in the second game (while their best player was at a tournament in Vegas). Coach played with the team finances and had plans for our compensation comensurate on selling merchandise and tickets. We were sure we could do it, even if the money was tight. Coach hired out buses to haul us to our “home rink” an hour north of Denver in Greeley for our games and sometimes even practices.

The questions on his suitability in regards to finances began immediately and this didn’t help. A string of canceled home games against neighbouring state’s teams brought even more questions. The Fort Worth and Salt Lake City teams were both hesitant to make any trip to play the newcomers, even the highly-touted Wolverines.

Cinderella Falls Flat

Only a few weeks into the season and the bottom dropped out. Practice was canceled when the rink owner came and told us all to either pay up or get out. Coach was nowhere to be found, nor was he answering his phone, and every entity the team had contact with came forth with bills showing all that we owed. We were a team that hadn’t paid a dime to anyone but had made promises to everyone. We were dropped like hot rocks and had all gone home to cry in our beers while the impressive Wolverines kept playing and kept winning and kept impressing.

We as a team, had all ponied up our hard-earned dough to become a part of something with the promise that we’d get our gear comped, our rink time covered, our travel covered, and a nice check at the end of the season. We’d lost it all.

Then our phone rang. It was one of our captains, a former college player who was our lockerroom leader, if not the one wearing the actual “C” on his jersey. He’d spoken to the head of the league, just for giggles, and wanted to gauge interest in continuing the team for the season under new ownership. Player ownership.

He’d barely made three phone calls before the word spread like bushfire through the entire team. We were back on and all was forgiven at the rink, if not the bus depot. Roommate and I jabbered excitedly to each other in-between phone calls to teammates and sponsors, even members of the Wolverines!

Cinderella Gets Back Up

Our first practice was the only rinktime we could get, 6 PM on a Tuesday. That meant ditching work early for us paid-by-the-hour fellas and a horrific hour+ drive in rush hour to Colorado’s smelliest city. We couldn’t have been happier to do it.

Top-down, sunburnt and running late, we piled out of the Jeep and into the lockerroom excitedly looking forward to seeing all of our teammates. A little over half were there, with apologies from 3 more. That was it. The absence of our former captain, a friend of the coach’s, was notable.

Reeling a bit, we took the Sport Court and practiced anyway, and it was grand. We stopped a bit early so that our “new” captain could address the team with all the specifics. We were now MLRH’s only player-owned, player-managed, team, and we were allowed in the league that season on a highly-probationary status only through the good graces of the league chairman and his belief in us. He reckoned we showed heart and he wanted to see what we could do, even covering the rink fees in the early stages.

We were now the Colorado Mustangs, and we were ready to actually get serious about winning.

Captain wasn’t done with the announcements either. One of the Wolverine’s golden boys, a friend and teammate on their top line, was dissatisfied with how that team was going. He wasn’t happy with the owner and he didn’t like the egos that swelled the second a paycheck was mentioned. His ice time had shrunk, sure, but he reckoned we showed heart too, and he wanted in.

Mustangs Ride

Roommate and I were excited but needed closure, so I used his for-work-only cellphone to ring each of the guys on the team that had missed our first official practice as a Miracle Team.

Responses, as expected, varied.

“Aw yeah, I ah… couldn’t ah… couldn’t get out of work, yeah.”

“Was that today? Oops. I’ll make the next one… I guess.”

“Yeah, I’m cool with the team and all, but driving to Greeley?!”

The former captain was at least up-front and candid with me, telling me that he’d lost his money too and was too damn old to go hanging on to “foolish hopes and dreams”.

Reaching the end of the list I hung up the phone and looked at Roommate, my face showing precisely how I felt about their responses. He just shook his head and pointed the Jeep south, toward our ramshackle place that reeked of hockey equipment and dog.

“You know, nobody ever had to beg me to play hockey. Never in my whole life have I ever had to be begged to play.”

I never have either

I’ve played on blistering blacktop in the height of a Houston summer, sweating so much that my equipment bag gained 13 pounds in one game. I’ve slept 14 to a double-bed room in a dive outside of Austin. I’ve hallucinated about seeing giant hockey skates covering the pre-dawn highway while driving a truckload of sleeping teammates back from an all-night tournament in Dallas. I’ve played 4 straight games in a tennis-court league because nobody’s goalies showed up on a 100-degree day.

When I left Texas A&M for Denver, I spent my unemployed days doing odd jobs, looking for work and parked in the stands of the roller hockey rink, sitting next to my bag and holding my stick aloft in adverstisement of my goaltending availabilities. I’ve played 5 nights a week for 6 teams while working and going to Uni full-time. I’ve played semi-pro roller hockey in the Major League.

The Colorado Mustangs won every game the rest of that season except our last two, losing to the Wolverines in the Regional Semi-final, with the winner promised a trip to Buffalo to take on the East Coast’s best.

I slept in shithole dives in Dallas and in the back of a truck in Salt Lake City. Whereas our first coach had told me unequivocally that I was only there in case his precious starting goalie got injured or shellacked for 20 goals and that I would probably NEVER see playing time, this “new” team saw me splitting time with that precious goalie and posting better numbers during our road trips, despite being 10 years older.

And nobody ever had to beg me to play.

Save the Canberra Knights

The AIHL’s Canberra Knights ownership has folded the team, first claiming monetary issues and then talent issues after informing the players via Facebook earlier this week. News stories abound and the Facebook discussion is as fervent as the supporter’s pledging money on the team’s crowd-sourcing page.

I just listened to Jordie Gavin’s interview on Canberra’s Sports Radio. He and the rest of the boys just want to play.

They just want to play.

And I don’t think anybody should stand in the way of that.

Good luck boys, I’m here if you need anybody in net during your Perth trips.

Here’s that DONATE link once again:

Writing, or Watching the Wrench-Eater

Somedays, I miss blogging for the sake of it.  I mean, I do it now, but there was a time that I had one blog for ALL the people that knew me, where I had to watch my mouth (and my step), one for all the funny people that DIDN’T know me (in real life) and one that NOBODY read (shhh, it’s a secret!).

On those days, it didn’t matter what I felt like writing, I could just write whatever I wanted.  I could post pictures of my cute kids on the one, I could write something about farts and sex on the other and I could write about my wife’s shithead siblings on the other.

Now there’s just this one, and the expanding freedom I’m feeling with it only comes from the fact that nobody reads it.  Which makes me sad, of sorts.  And happy, of sorts.

I do wonder what people think when they stop by, like folks from the ToyNerd forums, or SwordNerds, or WritingNerds, or IT Nerds (why do I only know nerds?!), but then I remember that most of them probably already have a fairly skewed picture of me anyway.  Writing about toys, or books, or spiritual things like clouds, or angry things like Jo’s fuckhead family all off in Melbourne this weekend further cutting her out of their lives, none of it means that anybody will like me any more, or any less.

They may a bit more… informed, but it’s not like it’s anything I wouldn’t tell them were they to ask.  But really, nobody does.

Sometimes, I like to just flex the writing muscle a bit, but then I look at the clock and realise it’s 4:43 PM and I started writing at 4:23 PM.  It took probably 2-3 minutes to write this, and 17-18 to push the toddler on his swing, deal with a naughty 10-yo (the slightly autistic one), help the 5-yo blow up a flat soccer ball and shake out a tarp full of redbacks so that the kids can more freely wander this, our tiny and shitty front yard.

Maybe I oughta switch to being a photographer instead of a writer.  Then I could just walk around with my camera around my neck and I wouldn’t have to stop taking photos while keeping the tot from eating yet another one of my wrenches.


Today is Wednesday.  That’s really only notable in that we all thought it was Thursday, because Thursday is Bin Day and our bins are proudly out front of our house, patiently waiting to be emptied.  Georgia dutifully emptied all the bins into them last night, the nappy bucket and a few assorted plastic food containers that were partially forgotten in the back of the fridge.  None of us thought to check the day.

It always amuses me that the recycling bin only gets picked up every other week, and the regular rubbish gets it every week.  This is amusing only if you look at our bins on pickup day, as the recycling is overflowing and the rubbish bin is half full.  A 2-to-1 ratio isn’t bad.  Go Hippies!

Boo and I are back at the little playground and it’s another beautiful sunny day.  This time, the sun only has to fight with a few clouds, but the warmth is a mixture of sun-baking dry and did rain/gonna rain humidity.  The ‘bowl’ of the park is filled again and I fight the urge Every Single Time to chuck some fish in it and wait for them to get big enough to catch.  The fact that it’ll drain in a few days stops me, as does the idea of the egrets, ducks, and other assorted aviations around that would happily gobble my guppies.

Drew is happily stomping around in his slippershoes with a couple of slugtrails going down his upper lip.  He’s had a fever and a rotten mood intermittently all week.  Plus, he’s shat himself rather thoroughly the past two mornings, necessitating a bath on both.  Not this morning, but I’m keeping my eye on him.  He’s just climbed off me and while he was laughing I saw yet another huge bump in his gums.  When this kid teeths, he means it.  I actually have a hard time
imagining the relief I’ll feel when he’s done with all this.  Uffda.

I’ve found an app for the ABC News feeds.  I can watch video or listen online, which I’m doing now off whomever’s connection this is I’m hijacking.  Bless those that don’t secure their wireless.

After climbing on me intermittently during our half hour here, it occurs to me that he’s teething and I’m teething too.  Transitioning to something new in life, something permanent and necessary, something that’s going to bring good things and make a lot of things much easier, something that could even be called necessary for survival, is never easy.  It’s just like teething.  You get peripheral issues like explosive shats and a fever, sometimes just a badmother of a mood, but it’s almost always painful in some way.

No matter the shit you go through though, something good will come of it in the end.  I’m intensely curious to see what that will be.

Kids’re all in high spirits this morning, and I never quite know when or why this will happen.  But I’ll take it.  I’ll take it, and let’s see what I can do with it.


Baby Rabbits and Love Drawings

While the older two have to go to their court-appointed visitation (that they hate) every fortnight (because they had better lawyers) at his parents (because he can’t look after them on his own) we occasionally partake in as much of a non-kiddifying as we can, and Jade gets to go to Nanny & Poppy’s by herself.

They love it because she’s possessing of a magical energy that seems to infuse everybody’s life that she touches, and she loves it because, “They let me do what I want Daddy, whatever I want to do!”

Thankfully, they were lucky enough to get in on some more Jade Art, and we were lucky enough to get some of it home with her.  Enjoy.


This is a little monster girl who spreads love.  Even though she’s a monster, she’s still pretty, and she fills the air with love.

Yes, yes she does.  When I think, “Little Monster Girl” I certainly think about the air filling with love, instead of terrified shrieks and the sound of feet running away.


Jade with a little baby rabbit.  You’ll notice it’s a baby since it’s wearing a nappy.  That blob is all the love between the two of them.  It’s filled with made-up words, but really they’re just there because the love is so big.

I don’t have the heart to explain to her how you wouldn’t need a nappy for a little baby rabbit.  Mostly because that’d just lead into questions about her brother’s own continence and his tendency to produce quite rabbit-like results when we use a certain brand of formula.  She’d possibly tie that together with that time that we were out at the shops and I’d forgotten the nappy bag, and had just dumped the nappy’s contents in the toilet, wiped at the tiny smudge that was in there and then stuck it back on his little butt.

She doesn’t need to know about that one just yet.


This is a Bad King and a Bad Queen.  They’re sitting around thinking about badness and the heart that is in their life says, “Sad Luv”.  The queen’s wearing a beautiful dress, but on it is a decoration of a puppy in a cage.

That, I must confess, is one badass bitch.  I’ve seen “Miss Bitchy” on people’s bumper stickers before, but I can only imagine the amount of weeing I’d do down my leg if I came across a mean-ass Queen with a gorgeous hand-embroidered gown with a puppy in prison emblazoned on it.  “Sad Luv”?  Beautifully more poetic than “Don’t F*ck With Me”, fo’ sho’.


This is… all the love.  All the love that you see and feel around you.  It’s simple really.

For as frightening as the last one was, this one makes up for it.  It’s all the love.  Simple really.

One helluva love too.  Couple of ’em.  They’re friggin’ HUGE.


This is mum changing Drew’s poopy nappy.  It stinks and is filling the air.  Jade is holding her nose because of the stink.

This one had me giggling like an idiot.  Oh sure, there’s still an incredible eye for detail, like the picture of the baby in a nappy on the side of the thing because it’s one of those giant plastic koala change tables that they have in the mall (like the one where I found Drew’s rabbit poo), but this one has all the subtleties that make me think she’s bound to be a cartoonist.  Notice that while mum and Drew are wearing the hallmark Cheesy Smile that runs rampant in children’ drawings, Jade’s mouth is saying far more than words.  Look at that expression.  Nose-plugged.  Standing there putting up with it.  She is non-plussed and there’s no question about it.


This is Georgia and Jade in their room.  Georgia is changing Fruit Stripe Zebra’s nappy (stuffed toy named after the gum) and there’s a guinea pig on the desk in a cage and we got him from the pet store.  Georgia is on the floor like that because she’s fed up.  There’s still love in the air though, and on the right is the girls’ lovely bunk beds and Jade is near the bed doing lovely magic tricks and putting bubbles on the wall.

This one is terribly sweet, with a guinea pig that she clearly is wanting terribly and a beautiful representation of their room.  It has the trademark Love filling the air (sensing a trend here) and there’s that baby rabbit again (in a nappy, that’s how we know he’s a baby).  My favourite bit though, without question, is the fact that Georgia is changing a stuffed toy’s nappy next to a giant butterfly and neither of them are having a very good time.  They’re both clearly fed-up.  It’s evident and it’s awesome.


That’s it, for now.  And once again please recognise that if I were to put up every picture, I’d have time for little else, even changing a rabbit’s nappy.

A Photo/Video Update

A long overdue photo/video roundup from the last few months or so.


My Boo’s 1st birthday party.  Well, party insofar as we all sat around eating food, drinking things and eating cake before the Booster unwrapped his Granbo Gift.


“Holy Toys of Awesome Batman!  This time the toy is actually BETTER than the box!  For now…”


“Toldjoo.  AWESOME.  Sanks Granbo!”


Putting him back in his chair, after some mild eatingtons, even for a birthday cake, wasn’t particularly appreciated.  This… is your 1-year old turning one.  A smile would frickin’ kill him, I’m sure.  ONE smile son?

Ah well.  Jadey is apparently trying to make up for the lack of smile by putting 3 into hers.  George throws in her usual modelesque 1000-watt smile and my biggest boy is his usual, calm-cool-collected and handsome self.


WHOA, there we go!  Happy First Bithday my beautiful Baby Boy Boo.


My girls helping me with dinner.  For as much work as she is trying to get her to bathe properly, not disrobe and throw clothes everywhere, and sweep up properly when spilling Cheerios everywhere, Georgia is developing some real skills in the kitchen.  We’re not talking Masterchef Junior or anything, but by the time she’s a teenager I reckon she’ll be quite proficient with food.  And then I retire.  Heh.


I’m pretty sure Jade’s just in it for the hat, but I suppose she’s also developing a real culinary skillset.  She can already list all the ingredients in pancakes which, at 5, is pretty impressive.


Coquettish.  Stylish.  Glamour hidden just beneath the surface.


And there it is.  You can’t keep that much awesome inside for too long.


My boy being random around the house.  This is a daily, nay hourly, occurrence.  I forget exactly what he was telling me, but clearly it began with him getting an idea.  I love that he’s so genuinely entertaining every single day.


School Assemblies are usually quite the affair.  The oldest’s class did this one and he got to do the major speaking parts because he’s an excellent, excellent public speaker.  Already.  At 11.  Friggin’ awesome.  Same assembly and his littlest sister got an Honour Certficate, which brought about more Camera Awesome for her, but I was too far away to get anything good of her brother with my phone.


Dorky, half-saying-something-to-dad, smile. One of my favourites. I’m fond of telling people that I’ve been caught mid-sentence enough times that, for the longest time, I thought I really didn’t photograph well. And by “didn’t photograph well” I mean, “I look like a retarded gorilla in mid-orgasm”. Thankfully, by the grace of all that’s holy, my child is still incredibly cute.


Sort of. She’s also mildly creepy, but I find her incredibly adorable still.


There we go, her listening face. Clearly the teacher can elicit some semblance of normalcy. Ah well, damn proud of her for being good at whatever they’re handing out certificates for this week. Their school doesn’t particularly take Honour Certs very seriously, particularly since my oldest got one because he hadn’t gotten one all term and he rock-paper-scissored for it, but she feels special and I reckon that’s the point.


I’m slowing rebuilding my G.I. Joe collection from childhood while also building upon my grown-up collection as well by winning cheap auctions in the US (cos the shit’s too spendy here) and getting them shipping to Granbo’s house. She then boxes it all up like a champion and sends it over in one hit. Granbo Boxes are similar to Christmas except that there’s far less stress and stupidly huge amounts of awesome involved. Me and Damon LOVE when we get a Granbo box in. His collection is still mostly my castoffs, but he helps me test out all of my new toys to break ’em in. Such a good lad.

This is the Boo at the shops. He simply cannot stop dancing. Ever. He’s the dancingest child I’ve ever been around. If there’s a beat, and frequently if there’s not, he’s dancing. It’s good, good fun. Here’s the link in case you can’t see the above:

And here’s another video I made right here on this ASUS Transformer Awesometastic Tablet of Awesome. It’s a tablet, or slate, or iPad if you don’t care about branding, and it’s friggin’ awesome. Why is it so awesome? Because it comes with a docking platform that gives you a million hours of battery more and a KICKASS LITTLE KEYBOARD.

The only thing stopping me from loving on tablets and iPads and such was that I love keyboards. Well this one has that sorted! My birthday pressie, that I got early because of Father’s Day and because my wife is so fkn awesome that they should name ships and aircraft after her, and I love it more than any piece of tech I’ve ever owned or seen or played with that was somebody else’s. It’s transformed my life.*

*See what I did there? ASUS Transformer… SHOOSH, I’m funny.

That’s it for now, yay pictures and video! Now send me yours, I want to see what’s happening visually in your life.

My baby’s grandparents.

I’m posting this picture of him to set the tone.  You see, this is more than just my baby.  He’s… I don’t know how else to say it, but he’s magical.

He’s wonderful and one of the best things that could ever happen to anybody.  He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s interactive and sweet.  He barely, if ever, cries.  No shit.  I’ve heard him cry about once that I can remember.  It’s not that things don’t bother him, they do, but he yells at them or about them and then me or mummy sort them out.  Why cry?  There’s simply no need.

He’s 6 months old now.  Well, nearly, and he’s got two little teeth in the front.  He’s eating solid foods every day now and its better at it every meal.

But you see, his grandparents know nothing of this.

There could be lots of reasons for that.  I’ll get there, don’t worry.

His grandparents live 12 blocks away.  In the same suburb.

They’re not invalids.  They’re not immobile.  They’re not being kept away from him.  They’ve got their own transportation and means.  Neither of them have highly communicable diseases, nor do they hate children.  You see, they’ve had my older 3 children over many times.

In fact, they’ve requested to have the older kids over this weekend.


Almost a year ago, my wife and her mother had a “falling out”.  The details are too detailed, so I won’t detail them here.  Suffice to say that there comes a point in a person’s life that they have just had a gutful and they’re not going to take any more, so they don’t.

They haven’t spoken since.

My father-in-law, who is really my wife’s step-father, has approached me at my kids’ school.  We both teach kids how to play chess, and he’s done his hapless farmboy dance before, telling me he doesn’t know what’s up with them crazy womenfolk but he sure misses his grandchildren.

And I do, actually, consider them his grandchildren.  He loves them and they love him, that’s been enough for me.

So, he approached me.  I said, “Well fucking DO something.  Make it clear that the children are a priority.”  So he did.  He asked if they could have them over, made it clear that they missed them.  That was enough.  I sent the older 3 children and they had a great time.

Then my youngest was born.  Things got… weird again.  Briefly.  The older kids’ visits to Nanny & Poppy’s got more frequent and we settled into a comfortable zone.  Wife put aside a lot of the bullshit that gets in the way and offered up an olive branch.  Through me, she asked them if they’d like to have the baby for a few hours.

Nothing heavy, nothing too difficult.  Just a few hours on a weekday so they could experience that beautiful boy.  So they could hear him laugh.  Smell his hair.  Watch the way he watches people’s faces and the way he shapes his mouth when he says, “booooo…”

I rang and said, “Awesome, let’s do it!  One stipulation, keep Teddy away from him.”

Teddy is their Labradoodle (and I can’t believe I’m even writing that word, it’s too goddam funny) and he comes from a difficult background.  To say he is uncouth is too kind.  He’s obnoxious as hell.  He’s a fairly big dog (think proper poodle-sized and Labrador) and he’s ill-mannered.  He jumps on people.  His claws scratch.  He’s hard to control.

I can’t even dream up an alternate universe where a request to keep the ill-mannered dog away from a (then) 4-month old baby while he visits for a few hours.  I didn’t ask for the dog to be tied up.  I didn’t ask for him to be locked away in a closet.  I just asked that they keep him away from my baby, my helpless baby.

And the message I got back was, “Well, I think we’ll leave it for now.”

They didn’t want him.

If it meant that they had to alter their dog-heavy lifestyle, then they weren’t interested.

Well, needless to say, shit blew up.  Wife got mad and texted her stepdad.  I sent emails that went unanswered.  We heard from other family folk that I was perceived as “aggressive”.

So, I wrote a succinct email.  Nothing aggressive, but still pointed.  I told them that they chose a dog… a F*CKING DOG (I didn’t say that part that way) over their beautiful baby grandson.

No reply.

A month passed.  Then a bit.

No reply.

Yesterday, a text asking to have the kids over.  The “older” kids, I assume.

I am drafting an email explaining the fuckery of all of this, but I’m having a hard time with where to go with all of this.  I have no desire to keep the older kids from enjoying their grandparents.  I never want to stand in the way of their relationship, but how do I reconcile people who have such obviously fucked-up values wanting to spend time around some of my kids, but not my baby?

I tell you what.  I look at that picture above, and I can’t think of a thing on this planet that I wouldn’t do to spend time with him if he was my grandchild.

Maybe that’s just me.

Figleaf Shit

Hitler Lollies

It’s 9:09 AM, I have Cheetos cheeseballs next to me right now, and I have the strongest urge to eat them with a toothpick and start counting cards.

Wifeage left a very sweet note for me to find this morning, the kind that signs off with something epic like, “I love you to the moon and back… and back… and back…” and trails off into tiny lettering that you squint to read and finishes with “forever infinity!”  Piehead might be coughy, give both kids some Figleaf Shit.

“Figleaf Shit” is a codename I devised for the 100% Pure and Unblended Olive Leaf Extract that Wifeage swears by.  The need for a codename came about because the children aren’t ready for me to bandy about names like, “Freshly-Squeezed Assjuice from Satan” or “Oh Holy Fuck Why Woman Why Do You Hate Me?”

In comparison, not that bad.

I give them Figleaf Shit, mixed in with their juice because I’m not a horrible and cruel man.  I offered up a lolly chaser, but oldest boy declined.  Then I did a shot, and Boy Howdy did I need a lolly.  I pulled out Pie’s Halloween candy and ate something waxy that may or may not have been some sort of aphrodisiac.  The Chinese on the side was prolific and there was an entertaining picture of a white rabbit.

While I was patiently waiting for my hallucinations, and making the kids’ lunches, Buddy comes asks for some more juice.

“Figleaf is bad joojoo isn’t it?” I say.

“Dad,” he pauses for effect, then screws up his face, sticks out his tongue and says, “It’s like Hitler ordered up a lolly… then sent it back, because it was so bad.”

This classic moment led into a discussion about one of the little kids’ cartoons, Caillou.  Buddy reckons I should go easier on the bald little bugger and stop saying “Caillou is Hitler!” because he clearly has cancer and had to steal his look from Charlie Brown.

Sydney Shimmy Shake

Boo is waiting patiently in his high chair for his breakfast with The Wiggles Youtube Channel to keep him occupied.  Piehead wanders in, watches blankly for a moment and asks, “What country are The Wiggles in?”

Having a partially-autistic child has its downsides, like everything.  I try not to be mean-spirited or tease, but sometimes I really just want her to use her fucking brain and sarcasm is my natural tone.

“You saw the beginning of ‘Shimmy Shimmy Shake’ right?” I say.

“Yeah, with the guy on TV?” she says.  She is 9 now, and everything is a question.

“Yep, where did he say they were from?” I’m trying my best to be gentle.

“Um… I don’t remember?” she says.  There wasn’t enough time for her to think about whether or not she remembered, she just didn’t want to invest any brain energy towards the matter.

“Did he say ‘direct from Sydney’?” I’m still gentle, but a pinch of jackass is edging into my voice.

She brightens.  “Yeah, yeah he did!” she says happily.

“And,” I lead her a bit, knowing this is a Slam Dunk, “What country is Sydney in honey?”

She scrunches up her face and cocks her head.  “America?” she asks.

I don’t fault her too heavily, for between my native accent and The Simpsons, the lines between the Aussie and American cultures are easily blurred.  But still.

I shake my head and go back to Boo’s breakfast.

Undaunted and still happy, Pie asks, “Can I have a lolly?”  It’s well after the Juice From Satan’s Ass could still be bothering her.

Only here in this writing, and sometimes under the secret covers with Wifeage, can I admit that if she’d known what country Sydney was in, I probably would’ve said she could instead of grumbling, “No.”

She threw on her backpack, jounced towards the door, paused, then turned around and bounced into the toilet for the next 18 minutes.  Getting ready for, and then going to, school, is apparently an activity that takes up so much mental energy that she was unaware of the need for a healthy poo until she was almost out the door.

Lovely Ammo Queen

The olders are gone to school, and I am sitting down to feed the patient and hooting Boo.  Bug walks up.  Born for the stage, you can tell when she’s theatric by the way she holds her chin up, half-closes her eyes and steps very lightly into your presence.

She’s wearing $5 ballerina shoes with blown-out toes on the right foot, a bright yellow velour flower dress that’s 2 years too small, and the plastic ammo belt from Buddy’s assault rifle is clipped in a circle and resting daintily on her head.

She walks in announcing, “I’m the Lovely Queen of Everyfeen!  And I am here to get some Lovely Princess Yogurt, but only the Lovely Princess Yogurt without the Lovely Princess Strawberries or Lovely Weetbix or any cereal or anything lumpy or yucky or stuff I don’t like… Cleem Yogurt!  Lovely Princess Yogurt that’s Cleem!”

“Yeah babe, “ I gesture at her baby brother, “I’ll hook you up when I’m done feeding Boo, alright?”

A regal nod.  Her chin goes higher in the air, her eyes half close again and she turns to leave before stopping herself.

“Can I play with Scarlet and Snake Eyes and Baroness and Storm Shadow?” she asks, pointing to each of the posed-for-action G.I. Joes on my shelf before adding, “And Wolfie?”

My hesitance is visible, but only because she insists on calling Snake Eye’s wolf “Wolfie” when his name is, in fact, “Timber”.  I’ve told her this.  Lovely Queen of Everyfeen chooses not to listen to such nonsense.

So she sits and plays and I spoon fruit and cereal mash into her baby brother’s reluctant but happy mouth.  Her games amuse him endlessly and it both helps and hinders feeding him, but we find a way despite his best efforts to grab/dodge the spoon.

DAMN I’ve missed feeding a baby.  Didn’t really realise that until just now.

Reading and Writing.

The best thing about reading something really good is that it inspires you to write something equally good.

Well, maybe not “you” but the figurative “you”.

Just like when I was a kid and I’d watch The Lone Ranger or Zorro and feel absolutely compelled to go out and try that jump onto the horse’s back my very own self, I’ve always felt a strong pull whenever I’ve really been able to lose myself in someone else’s creative exploits.

Art, music, writing, action… it’s never really mattered.  It’s as if the artist has somehow put so much of their soul into it that my own innards resonate with a kindred spirit.


Okay, YOU find a better explanation for why I jumped off the deck knowing full well that saddle was going to crush my nuts.

So, reading good things makes me want to write good things.  Reading though, is fairly easy.  I can lay in bed, falling asleep, and read.  I can feed the baby, and read.  I can sit on the toilet, the only completely alone spot in the house, and get a chapter out, it’s fantastic.

Writing though… uffda.  Finding the time isn’t a nightmare, I can take time just about any time.  Finding the quiet though, the ability to use both my hands, the ability to string 2, sometimes 3, coherent thoughts together in the form of anything resembling a story…

Well, that’s a different kettle of worms altogether.

What’s that?

Yes.  Yes, I am completely aware that I just spent precious writing time writing about not being able to write.  This kind of thing isn’t difficult though, even though there’s a wiggly somebody on my lap insisting that her shoving her thumb in my eye is tickling.

“It’s ticklish, Daddy, now hold still!”

Oh dear.

Why I’ll make it as a writer… someday.

I was a Junior in High School the first time somebody ever called me a writer. The reason that memory has always stood out for me is not because it was momentous at being called a “writer”, because I still figured they were tweed-wearing hermits who didn’t do it for the money.

Nup, the reason I remember it was because it was the first writing assignment that I ever said, “Aw, what the hell” towards, and wrote from my heart.

I was fairly used to “A”s because I toed the line (on my writing assignments, not when I duct-taped Mrs. Stabnow’s thermos lid from the inside) but the grade on this paper didn’t matter a bit to me.

When I saw the “A” I felt more relief than anything, but when I read the next words my spirit actually soared.

“Well done Judd.  You are a great writer!”

But writing a novel is hard.

Years and years later and I’m finding it interminably difficult to sit down and work on my novel.  I’ve got the goddam thing all written, all laid out as far as structure and style goes, my continuity is fine and I’m even writing fresh stories to fill in gaps and add needed humour and character development.

But something is still missing.

I’ve got 4 kids and a wife and I work from home.  Finding “writing time” is never easy.  I have to get into the right frame of mind, I have to find the right mood and I have to get everyone to shut the fuck up for at least an hour.  None of this ever seems to coincide.

Yet, somehow, I’m able to sit at my computer for 2-3 hours at a time and bang out emails to friends, write blog entries on various sites and sometimes even churn out a short story or so for something on Page Buoy.

Why is it then, that I’m struggling so much with my novel?  Because it’s so BIG and IMPORTANT?  Because I’ve put so many goddamed hours into it?  Because I’m at that stage where I’m trying desperately to make it as perfect as possible?

Maybe it’s more simple than that.

Les Edgerton to the rescue… AGAIN.

I’d ordered the book so long ago off Amazon (who has to ship from the US and can take weeks) that I’d all but forgotten about it.  I’d been up one sleepless night trolling for books and remembered one of my absolute favourites, “Hooked” by Les Edgerton.

I Googled him, found another book or two on writing, got all excited and ordered one.  Then I found his blog and then I emailed him.

He wrote back about an hour later.  I still feel pretty effin’ coooool about that.

Then he joined Page Buoy, and that got me pretty fired up too.  So I got all caught up in the excitement of trading emails with one of my Writing Heroes and the novel was, once again, an afterthought.

The book showed up yesterday, and it’s called “Finding Your Voice.”

Which is funny, because I’ve had a couple of people, one of them heavily-codenamed but still one of my e-favourite writerfriends, all tell me I had a very unique and funny “voice”.  I can’t say as I’d ever heard it called that, but I knew what they meant.  I suppose in literary terms, your “voice” is a pretty unique way of describing something that would be called “style” in other languages.

I started thinking about the voice I was using in my novel.  And I started to get worried.

Finding my voice.

Then some of the gals in my other Writery Email Group Thingo were all commenting that I was good at cracking them up, and how they couldn’t wait to read my novel because it must be OMG Pee My Pants Funny.

“Shit,” I thought, “it’s really not.”

I wasn’t so worried about that though, it’s not really a humour piece and I’m not always out for laughs.

But it’s still missing something.

Wifeage and I got to talking about things last night, about how I relate stories from my experiences and how I used to blog about this and blog about that, and I got to thinking about my “voice”.  I use my “voice” in just about everything I do, from Facebook to Small Business Forums to emails to my mother.

It’s easy, it just flows, and I almost never have to think about it.

How to get it into my novel though?  Rewrite the whole bloody thing?

Writing is like sex.  If it feels like “work”, you’re doing it wrong.

“Well shit,” I thought again, “I’ve got some serious work ahead of me.”

Then I emailed my new email friend, Blue Skies Les, and told him that he’d written yet another book that had completely rocked my writery world, and I was only 35 pages in!

See, the problem, thus far, is that my novel IS a lot of work.  I’m working my ass off to find time, to find motivation, to find the right words, the right style, the right flow.

Writing, good writing, my good writing, shouldn’t be this much work.

And I don’t reckon it will be.

For the first time in a very long time, maybe ever, I’m really looking forward to starting in on this novel again.

Because, if it ain’t fun, then why in the hell am I doing it?