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12 Sep / Craftless

The other day I was idly looking through a selection of photos wondering which of them was worth splashing out the princely sum of $1.00 for in order to put it on my next cover, when I made a decision which I will no doubt regret.

I was looking for a photo of old letters, maybe with a red seal on them, maybe typewritten but more probably handwritten. Lots of sepia tones and with the feel of a quill about them.

I knew exactly what I was after. And that was when the fatal idea appeared in my head.

Why don’t I just take the photo myself?

First of all, it would save me one dollar. Second of all, I could take it from a lot of different angles and end up with something that looks exactly like the picture inside my head rather than just the closest I could get.

Brilliant.

Of course it’s not brilliant. Now I have to do a whole lot of work that I didn’t scope out before committing to the project. And don’t think that I can just turn around and change my mind back. That would make me a failure.

So I gathered up a variety of materials that I thought would work. My partner has an old seal with a supply of red wax (no I don’t know why he just does, okay) and I found an envelope that was already sepia toned. A wonderful start.

Then I just needed to get some sepia toned paper and get my handwriting skills on.

Every young child reads at some stage about how to make paper look old-timey. You just get a nice selection of tea and you spill a few drops on the page, and then sweep it about a bit and dry.

I set to work. I already had some strong tea, leftovers from the morning, so I was one-up there. I also had paper, shiny-white and pulled from the gleaming brightness of a newly opened ream.

So white.

Never mind. That was all about to change. I dribbled a few drops of cold tea on the page and wah-lah! I had a bright white sheet with a few wrinkling tea coloured drops on it.

Okay, not to worry. I’d just wipe them about a bit with my hand, and then they’d start to look like old paper. Yip. Nothing to it. Or, since that wasn’t working, I’d just add a few grains, or a pinch, or a quarter-teaspoon, of instant coffee and that would give the right… okay. That just doesn’t really work at all.

Crafts though. You can’t fail. You just find yourself making things you weren’t anticipating. I’m sure they’ll look fine when they dry up.

Oh! Tea leaves. That’s my mistake. I’m meant to use tea leaves, not tea.

Except they kind of adhere to the paper, don’t they? Just a moment. No. Definitely tea. Not leaves. Just tea. And coffee.

Well, that’s all just put to the side anyway because I need to practice my good old handwriting. Just like I learned in intermediate school for one term because we had an old teacher who refused to let go.

First off, I obviously need a fountain pen. A sharpie just isn’t going to cut it.

Who would’ve thought it. I don’t actually have a fountain pen. But, really, do I need one? The photo isn’t going to be in all that close focus – certainly not now anyway, the tea leaves would be a bit too offputting – so I could probably get away with a ballpoint.

Well, not a ballpoint, so actually I will try that Sharpie.

And wah-lah!

Only a $1.00 for one of those pre-prepared photos you say? What a bargain.

Posted by Katherine Hayton in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

09 Sep / Banned Books

Back at the beginning of January I wrote a blog post on censorship.

I don’t like it. The thought that someone else gets to tell me what I can and can’t read, play, or watch, drives me absolutely crazy. It makes me feel like I’m a little kid again, and my parents are in total control.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise that I didn’t greet the ban of “Into the River” by Ted Dawe with a lot of gratitude this week. I also don’t thank anyone pointing out that it’s not a “ban” it’s subject to an interim restriction order pending a decision by the Film and Literature Board of Review is much help.

Can I buy it? No. Or, at least not in New Zealand, and if I order it from overseas Customs could seize it upon entry to our country.

Can I take it out of the library? No. Unless I go overseas and a library there has a copy.

Can I borrow it from a friend? No.

So, what’s the practical difference between an interim restriction order and a total ban?

Ummmmh.

Of course, the only reason I want to read the book is because I can’t. That’s probably going to be very good for Ted Dawe’s if the interim order is replaced by something showing insight and forethought, because I’m pretty sure it’s a lot more popular this week than it was last week.

Family First also have taken pains to point out that when they did their Christian Lobbying thing they were only trying to restrict the sale to young people, not ban it entirely.

Well that’s good to know.

So, what’s so appalling about the content of this book that a young man or woman wouldn’t be trusted with making up their own mind as to whether or not they wish to read it?

It has the C-word. Ohhhhh. It also has the S-word and the F-word. Ahhhhh. There’s also a bit of sexual activity and some of it isn’t in a consensual type way. Yuck. Sex. What teenager wants to read about that? What are the chances of a teenager encountering coercion as part of sexual activity?

No wonder the book got unrestricted, restricted, unrestricted, banned. What other type of book written for young adults contains that level of filth?

Funny you should ask that question. Mine does. Mine also comes with a warning label that I voluntarily put on the book suggesting that it wouldn’t necessarily be suitable under the age of 17. I was rather hoping that teenagers would read that and want to buy it more.

So, if anyone wants to read a book that’s just as horrifying but isn’t subject to an interim restriction order a ban you can click on this link and purchase away.

Unlike Into the River, it won’t come up with a polite sign saying “This title is not currently available for purchase.”

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As a reward for the harrowing trip home yesterday, I had arranged for the delivery of a present to lighten my load.

It may have been the result of excellent planning. It may have been a coincidental dispatch delay from Amazon, and the extra days incurred in having a parcel valid for US delivery only delivered to New Zealand instead.

Whatever, it was a nice happenstance anyhow.

Being me, the present I’d decided to order was a new gadget. But not just any old gadget, no.

This isn’t a bog-standard gadget for wasting my time pleasantly, or keeping me connected, or even keeping me entertained. This was a new Thync and its purpose is to perform mind control experiments on myself.

*Hand claps with excitement*

The unboxing ceremony was exquisite. There was the outer packaging box, then the paper, then the actual outer box of the item, then two soft packets containing vibe strips, then a note thanking me for purchasing, then a short user guide, then an inner box with the Thync module and another two user guides, then under the inner box where there was a carry pouch and another two soft pouches of vibe strips, and then the bottom of the box.

It was quite tiring, and after all that unboxing I went to bed.

The purpose of the Thync module is to connect to your head using either an energising or a calming “vibe” strip (which is a sticky thing which snaps onto the module and runs electric pulses to certain points) and then use an app to control the strength of the pulses. This is meant to result in either an energy boost, or a calming effect.

So, seriously. Mind control.

I had been looking forward to the arrival of the gadget for many weeks. A lot of that enthusiasm drained away however, as I attached the sticky patches to my face and neck and then prepared to electrocute myself.

I can’t have been the only one to have seen ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’ I made sure there was a water fountain nearby for a quick getaway.

With trepidation I started up the app for the energising vibe. Maybe if it works I could replace my early morning cup of coffee which takes four minutes to prepare and consume from start to finish with a fifteen minute vibe pulse which takes twenty minutes from start to finish.

Well, not unless something radically different happens tomorrow morning when I strap it on. Nothing. Apart from some lovely buzzing around my scalp which felt a bit like someone running an orgasmatron across my head. But far more expensive.

Never mind. Tonight I was less phased out by the weirdness of the whole operation and leaped straight into the calming vibe. It offered a range of modes and I opted for Sleepy which was the strongest one, because why not go whole hog.

Yawn-time. In a good way. I was yawning half-way through, and by the end of the twenty minute session my eyes were at half-mast.

Good going so far, and rather exciting for a good ole insomniac like me. If it continues to provide a sleep time vibe like this I may have found a rather easy replacement for Zopiclone which comes without potential liver damage or an extremely horrid bitter taste that lasts all day long.

Whoop whoop, snooze.

Posted by Katherine Hayton in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

05 Sep / Adding to injury

Sigh. The time has come to pack up and make the long trek home.

It’s currently 26 degrees Celsius outside, and back home they’re expecting snow to low levels tomorrow. This can’t be happening.

At least I’ve had a lovely long holiday, and managed to gather the world’s largest collection of sandfly bites. They, along with my tan (and my peeling flesh from where I overdid it on day one), will no doubt be hidden under long layers of clothing for another couple of months so no one gets to see.

This afternoon I was staring out at the path that runs along the length of the beach, saying goodbye to it all, when a pair of women came along the path dressed to the nines.

I sometimes worry that I overdress when I’m in such sunny climes, but I’ve never gone so over the top as to wear a full-length royal blue dress made out of what looks like silk. The woman thus clothed would have stood out like a sore thumb, except her companion was wearing a floor-length (or sandy-beach-path-length) black lace dress. They were perfectly, though oddly, matched.

Fifteen minutes later another group of younger, slightly less overdressed whilst still being significantly overdressed, people walked slowly past the door. There was definitely something going on, and I didn’t think it was to do with the free palm readings at the vegetarian cafe.

Half an hour passed, and then a group came wandering along explaining everything I’d seen before. Cream silk is an odd choice of fabric to wear when you’re going to the beach, but judging from the tiara it was a meticulously planned outfit and quite obviously something that only a bride would wear.

Only a bride, or me on Halloween when accompanying it with an emailed story around the office, a noose, and copious white and black makeup.

If the bride dressed all in (almost) white wasn’t enough of a pointer, the little girl dressed in gold and cream almost-matching silk cinched it. She didn’t have a basket of petals yet, but I could see where this was heading.

The flower girl stopped briefly outside our rental house to fight with a long stick, then make friends with a long stick, then play with a long stick, but was soon scooped up by a well-dressed father-of-the-bride who promptly turned her upside-down to examine the soles of her feet AS THOUGH WALKING A SANDY PATH WAS SOMETHING A GIRL COULD DO WITHOUT GETTING HER FEET DIRTY!

I can still feel empathetic indignation.

I found the whole parade quite rude. Not only am I leaving paradise tomorrow, but a group of people partaking of an event that I’ll sadly never be asked to partake of was just unnecessary.

The bride may have thought that today was all about her, but I know it was all about me. Now it’s time to go and say goodbye to the pool.

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03 Sep / Sad feelings

The only problem with holidays (and I may be wrong on this as I haven’t researched them too extensively, although I’d love the opportunity) is that they come to an end.

While I’m not quite in that boat at the moment, the event horizon is visible and starting to exert some gentle sucking.

Sunday morning, we’ll wake up as though it’s just another day in paradise, and then have to pack up all our stuff into mysteriously smaller bags than we started with and begin the trek home.

Sometimes that seems impossibly far off. Impossible in the, “I can’t believe it’s really going to happen so I’ll ignore it until it does,” type way. Other times, well, sigh.

If our holiday was a pottle of yoghurt, the tip of our teaspoon has just scraped along the bottom. There’s still a fair whack of dairy goodness left, but we’re on notice for what’s coming next.

And the worst thing about these holiday niggles, is that nobody who isn’t on holiday at the moment facing the same conundrum doesn’t express any sympathy whatsoever. You unfeeling illegitimate children.

I suppose it would also be going to far to ask for empathy as I say that right at the minute I’m feeling uncomfortably hot from all of the unending sunshine, and I can’t work up the enthusiasm to get into my swimsuit for another swim. Poor me. #firstworldholidayproblems

I’m certainly far too hot to keep typing. I don’t want to accidentally sweat any more symbols off my laptop keyboard.

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01 Sep / Beach Art

Today, in Mission Beach, we’ve held a ‘Beach Art’ competition on the main beach. The contestants each had to pick a spot, and then roll the sand into little balls which they then formed into intricate works of art, with more or less success.

Here’s a shot of the practice area so you can understand the basic concept.

Once the contestants got the hang of the process they staked out areas on the sand to try their hand at creation.

This is from one of our juvenile contestants, and won the prize for ‘Best First Attempt’

That officially means that no one could work out what the picture was of, but at least he gave it a go.

The next award was given out for an abstract work, which is entitled, ‘Warrior on Back of Fire Breathing Dragon.’

Maybe if you tilt your head to the side and squint a little?

Second Runner Up award went to a good effort, albeit a little plain, ‘Two Flowers.’

Why, yes. Yes it is.

Next up is the First Runner Up, or the alternative title of First Loser, with a work called, ‘Man with Spiky Hair, Pointing Backward.’

Perhaps next year he’ll submit under the Abstract section, and be in with a real chance.

Now we’re getting down to it. Now we’re into prize territory or, at least, bragging rights. Third place went to a lovely piece under the heading of ‘Firework.’

Beautiful detail, thought it’s apparent that the artist ran out of time to finish completely.

Tied for second are two pieces. I realise that usually this would have knocked out the third place award, but we had a long of young contestants this year and couldn’t be bothered explaining the finer points of placing competitions, so hush now. The first of the second place entries is entitled, ‘Jellyfish with Trailing Tentacles’

and the second is entitled, ‘Flower Bursting Open with Puff of Pollen.’

Oooooh. Aaaaah. Right, enough of the non-winning entries. Onto the main event.

The winner of the Mission Beach Art Award for the 1st September 2015 goes to… (drum roll) ‘Dragonfly.’

A truly stunning entry from a challenging field effort. If we try we may be able to catch a word with the winning artist… Sir?

Sir!

Please, sir. If I could just have a word?

Nope. He’s gone. Well, that’s the end of the coverage for today. Beach clean-up begins tonight, although the tide should probably have that covered, and we’ll start a new competition again tomorrow at mid-tide. See you then.

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Being the second week of our holiday, my beloved and I changed accommodation to a new holiday home this morning.

We were so ecstatic to not have to wait for the official check-in time of 2.00pm that we may have gotten slightly carried away. When I checked the time on the clock as we arrived it said 5.17am.

It was pitch dark, which made the move harder, but it was worth it for us both to take our first shower in a week in an indoors, fully enclosed, bathroom.

Belatedly, I have discovered that our new accommodation also comes with faults, albeit faults that I shall endure with more good grace than I endured a large spider.

The decor theme of the house is wood and glass. It’s very pretty. Even after I’ve walked into the table for the fourth time, or banged by head on the rangehood for the fifth, I can still appreciate the elegant balance they bring to the home.

Unfortunately, due to my short-sightedness (of my eyes, not some sort of metaphysical failing) I cannot see glass furniture out of the corners of my eyes. Large glass frames obscure much of my vision above, below, and to the sides, and as they’re single vision glass they’re not cleverly designed to perfect my vision from every angle.

Pity, because I’m already feeling quite a few negative effects. The sighs of admiration at my brown legs will be partially due to them being covered in bruises.

If this was my own place, I’d simply resolve the issue by the prolific application of masking tape. As it isn’t, I’m just going to have to learn to scan.

The irony is not lost on me that my peripheral vision can pick up scuttling legs at ten yards, the only benefit of which is to make me feel unsafe and on edge most of the time, and yet something that could, and has, genuinely hurt me I remain oblivious to.

In other news it’s a scant few hours (24-ish) until the release of my third novel, Breathe and Release. That means today is the last chance that you have to pre-order it for your Kindle.

If you don’t you’ll miss out on that lovely feeling when you wake on the 31st of August to find that your Kindle went out and bought you a book just because it knew you’d enjoy it. (I can’t be the only one who feels that, right?)

I’ll tuck the link HERE out of the way all unobtrusive-like so you don’t feel any pressure.

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28 Aug / Persistent

I dislike spiders. I used to hate them and fear them in equal measure, but I’m too old for such extreme emotions these days.

Now, when I see a spider of a size I object to, I calmly ask my darling if he could remove it from the dwelling. That’s why he’s my darling.

Inside, of course, I still do the spider dance of gwagh (that’s the most accurate rendition of what comes out of my mouth that I can type) along with the obligatory jerky hand movements and screams.

Outside, however, all is calm.

There was an incident eighteen months ago (in Australia of course) where a huntsman decided to take up residence behind our curtain. The dance didn’t stay inside that time, but I think that was a hand-sized permission slip, right there.

Tonight, I was headed to the fridge when I encountered a two-inched objection scuttling across the door.

My darling was in fine form and safely caught it inside a teacup. Not as easy as it sounds because the spider was on top of the cupboard in which the said teacup was contained. It then used the opportunity of the door opening to investigate inside the cupboard.

Never mind. It was done.

Half an episode of Hannibal later and an objectionable sized spider came through the French doors. It only took a second to recognise IT WAS EXACTLY THE SAME SPIDER.

I kid you not.

Unfortunately, the second capture didn’t go quite so smoothly as the first. At least it didn’t from the spider’s point of view. It went fine from my perspective. And that’s just working on the assumption that spider’s need eight legs for some reason. Not five.

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26 Aug / Outside toilets

The holiday home that we’re staying in at the moment is rather lovely.

There’s a well-equipped kitchen, a big super queen-sized bed, a deep pool with adjustable sun loungers so you can dry yourself in the sun until you’re so hot you need to take another dip in the pool, and a nice indoor-outdoor flow.

What it doesn’t have is an inside toilet.

I don’t mean it has an outhouse, at least not in the traditional ill-constructed smelly fly-ridden type of way. It’s just that the bathroom isn’t connected to the rest of the house.

It’s also an open-air bathroom, which means that you can sit on the toilet and look up into the stars.

Well, not really. I’ve found it’s more likely I’m staring around making sure that no four, six, nor eight-legged creatures are stalking me hungrily.

And it would be hard to make out the stars past the flickering fluorescent light and the haze of flying insects it attracts.

I’m probably not putting it in its best light. Most of the time it’s fine, apart from the extra trek required, but there was an incident the other night which put me right off.

I’d fallen asleep at around eight NZ time, a little earlier that our usual bedtime, and it was only six o’clock local time.

When I woke up at midnight I needed to use the facilities, so put on a dress, my sandals, and my glasses, before unlocking the back door, putting the outside light, unlocking the bathroom door and then pulling on the cord for the florescent light.

I then scanned for danger. A couple of lizards scampered about, not sure if the light was something to bask in, or run away from, a small insect threw itself heartily into trying to smash its life out against the florescent, and a cane toad sat in the corner of the shower and glared at me.

I hesitated in the doorway while I pondered my options. I could brazen it out, I could wait and see if it hopped back to wherever it came from, or I could retreat indoors to battle my bladder until the morning.

Fairly certain, which is not the same as certain by any stretch, that cane toads are only toxic if you touch their skin or their slimy trails, I opted to brazen it out. I stared at the toad and it stared at me ad I went about my business.

I then went back inside and told my darling that there was a toad in the shower, and we’d need to be careful in the morning.

Turned out we didn’t as the toad was long gone by then. My darling started to refer to it as the figment (of my imagination).

It was only at midday that I thought of another option. I could have chanced my luck, picked up the ugly toad, and given it a nice big kiss. Sometimes, a handsome Prince would come in handy.

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