Friday, 10 January 2014

An Elegy for My Clan

A week ago today, my beloved cat Gizmo died :0( 
For the last six months she battled with feline asthma, and though she rallied after several setbacks, there was literally no breath left. I am thankful that she is no longer in discomfort or pain while struggling to survive - but I am utterly, uttlerly heartbroken.
The week after losing our dog Kye just over two years ago, I wrote a post as a tribute, a celebration, to her - and today I'd like to do the same for Gizmo.
I claimed Giz as a six-month old kitten from a family I knew who'd found her to be too much and were going to put an advert in the Trade It and sell her (when you see the pic in a mo, you'll understand why: she was very, very fluffy and very, very beautiful!). An animal in the Trade It, I ask you?! I couldn't have that - and so began the tale of a cat who should've been named Mischief, for that's what she was. My then-housemate wasn't a cat person and kept putting Giz out when I wasn't there and, feeling that this wasn't fair, I asked my Dad if he would take Giz on - and, of course (for we are animal-people!), he said yes. And so began twelve years of an amusing, loving and giving relationship.

In April 2012, I was having one of my usual lazy mornings in bed: propped-up on pillows, reading a good book, supping from a lovely cuppa. The morning was made because my little miaow miaow had joined me on the bed, curled up beside my toes...and her back was touching them. Every time I shifted, she moved so that we continued to touch...and the following lines just crept into my mind.

                                                  Cat Clan

     On the bed, we both commune: me duvet-deep on propped-up pillows,

     she purring a syrupy rumble like sweet treacle, treading my legs in a

     kickback to kittenhood, each push-pull of paw a pseudo mother-milk;

     satiated, she tramples down the folds of quilt till settled: she led out long

     at my feet, back paws touching my toes; contact is crucial to her – our –

     wellbeing, a paw-shake of family.  She is wise, this contented little-lioness.

     Sleep stretches her out: tummy tufts soft and deep as a thousand downy owls;

     whiskers recline, twitch her dreams – what mouse, what bird is this she sees?

     Paws busy with pink pads like gum is full of bubble, un-popped as yet but

     soon to be: mog-mischief will strike when the imp-itch is upon her; in play

     she courts contrariness: needs door-open but then open-door is boring.

     Tail twitches once, twice, thrice: agitates then awakens her; she stirs and,

     with a lick and a scratch, is revived – a puss-cat on patrol once again,

     she jumps down and trots across the room with a rub-here and a rub-there,

     surveying, marking her territory. I feel her absence, miss her near me but

     respect her still: she is regal now, intent on matters of cat-state that no simple

     human can disturb or dissuade. The intimacy she allows me time and again is

     humbling, warming. Loving. I reciprocate this call: I too am one of this clan.

(I never did think to take the camera to bed so I could catch a snap of Giz napping next to me, but this is the next best thing: Mr Bear, who stood in for my legs when a tread was needed!)

 I'll love and miss you always, Giz - see you in the big blue sky one day xxx

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Juggler's Pledge

I wish that 2014 will be happy, healthy and hopeful for everyone.

And now I can tell you the truth: I just couldn’t keep me balls in the air (oo-er!).

It seems I’m not that good at juggling various things and keeping them all going; some just fall on the floor regardless. One of the first to splat was the blogging ball – sorry! It’s been about five months since I last checked in for a craft-y post, and three months before that for a proper writing post, and I’d meant to check in more often. Really, I did. Damn balls, eh!

Still, I feel like it’s time to pick them up and try, try again – and this time I have a plan, a pledge:

I pledge to post on the 1st of every month in 2014.

There, I said it. It’s out in the open now, no going back. Eek. But it’s an easy date to remember, and an achievable one, so I’ll juggling-well keep to it...promise!

As to the balls in the air that I did keep going (oo-er again), there were...maybe...two...! The main one was my second novel, provisionally titled ‘The Dressmaker’s Daughter’ and told from both the mother and the daughter’s points of view. When I spoke to you last, I'd got stuck with one of the mother Lilli's scenes, and it took a good kick-up-the-proverbial before I could admit that I needed to just. Leave. It. Be. And. Start. Something. Else.

It's hard for me to do that, to not battle on and finish a section, then to edit it once done - but this can take ages, and can feel like I'm treading through treacle. I needed to Move On - and I managed to, by changing tack and writing from the daughter Anna's sections...and voila! My mojo came back...and since my last post, I’ve written nine chapters, bringing the total to twelve – whoop whoop!

This year, I've been recording on my calendar how many first draft words I've written, then adding them up to get a monthly amount...which is a great way for me to pat myself on the back and know I'm doing more than just coming home from work and slumping in front of the TV (and, like us all I'll bet, I do a lot of that!). Now that the year has ended, I can reveal the total for 2013 is...(drum-roll, please!):

48,000 words!

Okay, so they are only first draft, which means they will get cut and/or rewritten, but it's a huge achievement for me (particularly as it's been a difficult, treacle-like year), and I'm well-chuffed! In book-form, these words/chapters equate to one-third of the novel, and have brought me to the end of Part One.

Part Two awaits its Parisian beginning (which is also set, spookily enough, in January) - and I'll be back on 1st February to tell you how it's coming along!

~ ttfn ~