Checking in.

Well, instead of posting my usual drivel here, I've been trying to write a novel for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Trying because Adam has been working Saturdays, and I'm stuck solo parenting. Last weekend I fell behind in my word count, and I’m struggling to catch up. I’m not sure that I will make the deadline. Because I can’t multi-task. Or stay up past 11PM. Boo-hoo.

Last Sunday we had a power outage at Wellington Road. It was an individual fault, our second in five years. I was supposed to be baking a cake for the cake stall at the school fair. But, no. Instead we put the meat and fish that I had just bought in the chilly bin (Kiwi for cooler). And made coffee on the camping stove.

Sunday morning.

And there was the school fair. Sans cake.

3 slides for $3.

The stage.

Greasy Hangi at the fair.

How am I supposed to write a novel when life keeps interrupting me?

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. As you can imagine (and I've probably mentioned), Thanksgiving in New Zealand is pointless. There are no comparable Kiwi holidays. But Adam humours me. Because on holidays I turn into a sentimental sap.

The weather has just turned scorching hot. Spring lamb on the barbecue, asparagus, and strawberries make more sense than a big roast dinner to celebrate an abundant harvest. Some years I have plans to create a merry and festive Thanksgiving ritual. Of course none of these plans actually happen. Maybe next year.

I am grateful for the abundance of good things in my life. Even more so after the recent tragedy with the 29 Pike River miners in New Zealand. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanksgiving in NZ.


Guy Fawkes Night.

Guy Fawkes Night marks the celebration of a failed plot to assassinate Protestant King James in 1605. (The plan was to replace him with a Catholic head of state.) As part of the Commonwealth, New Zealand celebrates Guy Fawkes Night, but it is just an excuse for fireworks.

In the cities, there are public fireworks displays, but Guy Fawkes is really a night for amateurs. For a few days before Guy Fawkes, fireworks are on sale to the public. (The range of fireworks that are available doesn’t include firecrackers or rockets.)

Friday was Guy Fawkes Night. On his way home from work, Adam bought a box of fireworks.

It had been a scorching hot day, but at 7PM an enormous bank of clouds was rolling in from the south. The wind began to pick up. Gales are common in the Roaring Forties, and we are accustomed to fickle weather on Guy Fawkes Night. Adam is adept at lighting fireworks in wind and rain.

Wellington went forward with its fireworks display. But the conditions up the coast were bad. We decided to postpone setting off our own fireworks.

"We'll do it tomorrow night," I said.

Five was disappointed and tried to stall. When the rain began to bucket down from the night sky, there were tears. The gale blew down the street sign. (This happens from time to time.) There were several power cuts.

But by Saturday afternoon, it was calm enough for Adam to build a bonfire in shelter of the back garden. (It is lovely to sip a glass of wine by the bonfire.) We ate fish and chips, and while we were waiting for it to get dark, we roasted marshmallows.


A bonfire in the garden is almost better than camping.

When it was dark, we could see a few stars. Neighbours from all around began to light their fireworks. We moved to the front garden, which has more open space. Adam lit the wicks of the fireworks that Five chose from the box. The fireworks had names like Gemini and T.N.T. There was noise and light and the smell of gunpowder. And then inside for hot cocoa before bed.


It's National Novel Writing Month.

Juli: So I’m doing NaNoWriMo again.

Adam: Didn’t you just do that?

Juli: Last year.

Adam: I thought it was a couple months ago?

Juli: You're thinking of NaBloPoMo. That’s when you post on your blog every day. NaNoWriMo is the novel writing challenge, when you write a book in a month. I think NaNoWriMo is easier than NaBloPoMo because you don’t need to show everyone what you’ve written...

Adam: (trying to walk out the door) O.K.

Juli: (still talking) And I think NaNoWriMo has helped me to gain confidence. Now I know that I can crank out books in a month (or two), and... (trails off when she realizes that she is talking to herself)

When I tell everyone that I am participating, NaBloPoMo and NaNoWriMo are much more effective challenges. Then I am shamed into completing them (or at least trying to). If you want to follow my progress, or add me as a writing buddy, go here.

About five years ago, I made an outline for this book, which is now stale rubbish. So I have started all over. My first step was to start brainstorming on my tumblr.

Now it's time to turn this book into something real--or a First Draft. Wish me luck!