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  • Writer's pictureJL Nash

A Novel, A Ukulele Case And Margaret Atwood

Hey ho everyone

This blog comes off the back of a birthday celebration - yes! It’s true! Hubster turned 61 and is now the keeper of a trumpet which he’s busy practicing in his spare moments.  I’m not saying it’s painful at all - it’s great to see him being so enthusiastic and I’m impressed - I couldn’t get a note out of one for two weeks and was told by my teacher that I was the only student who had got worse in 6 weeks considering I was an absolute beginner when I decided to take it up in my twenties. I lost my embouchure as soon as I found it. I gave up - it was not the instrument for me. But, I am very pleased that hubster is giving it a go. I've popped a pic of the birthday cheesecake I made for him below. Those of you with beady eyes might notice mahjong tiles tucked to one side ready for a game after coffee and cake!

A friend sent me a ukulele case decorated by the Melbourne artist Kim McLean. It’s a beauty and of course I will be keeping it safe. A real find. My gratitude is huge.  Karaoke tonight with a lively bunch of mates.  It’s always fun but this time I am going with a list in mind as when I get there, faced with a huge file full of choices, I end up forgetting good tunes I fancy singing.   Tonight I’m planning on Paolo Nutini, Madness, Madonna and if I get time, either some Carly Simon or Joni Mitchell.  I love watching my mates get up and have a sing. And strangely I don’t mind karaoke instead of performing at the folk festival - no one minds if karaoke is shit. In fact I think it’s mandatory to have at least one shit song in one’s repertoire.

Missing some Mahjong recently but I got a couple of games in with friends at unexpected times so I’m not having too bad withdrawal symptoms. I am prioritising my novel and if I don't get enough typed up, other choices have to come second. I’ve got a plan of only 6 pages per day but that’s typing up, line editing and part-crafting. I’m paying attention to each scene, each bit of dialogue, each character arc although at the moment I am simply entering/ transcribing and line editing. The structural stuff will come once I have got the manuscript in digital form. For all my writer friends, I am using Scrivener to put things down. Easy to separate the scenes and structure the chapters. Also it knows my spellings and typing errors and autocorrects my rubbish typing nine times out of ten.

I participated in the first of 12 monthly poetry challenges. Initially, it was twelve poems to write in the weekend to set prompts and then it was more and more. I have fifteen first drafts from it, which is very pleasing. They are a bit dark so I won’t paste them here. I might change them further anyway. This year is a bonus year for poetry as there will be 12 x 12 poems total output for the 2024 monthly challenges, 12 x 4 poems for quarterly 2024 poetry marathons and 24 poems from the annual 24 hour 2024 poetry challenge. That looks like a potential of 216 first drafts to adapt and work on for the following year.  And that doesn’t account for the odd poem springing up from the centre of me from time to time.

I've been painting although not as much as I’d like … but the book has to come first.  

I’ve had the joy of reconnecting with a couple of old friends recently - one whom I’ve known since I was 19 (36 years) and another since I was 31. It’s strange to wonder how people have viewed me over the years and still want to be friends. It’s a lovely feeling.

Vietnam looms in March but I can’t get excited yet - too much to do here before I go. I think I will get excited two weeks before - but right now - chapters are on my mind. I did however look at the exchange rate this morning in a curious moment - it’s going to be hilarious - $1 is 16,122.00 Vietnamese Dong.  How the hell will I manage? I will have to take my christmas calculator with me as I will never be able to even approximate the amounts. I can’t add up at the best of times let alone in sixteen thousands.  I think I will have to pencil the Aussie dollar equivalent on currency to help me.   

Still seeing clients … which of course takes me away from Mahjong, writing and painting but no complaints.  Everyone is interesting and needs bespoke therapy… that’s what keeps it vibrant for me.

Oh I had my haircut but you’d never know - except that it’s returned to styled feral instead of just feral.  What joy - I do love sporting a mop-head.

Feeling the pinch of getting older. It’s harder to lose weight; it’s harder to remember; I’m slower in my reflexes, and I need less sleep at night but more in the day.

I went searching for some words of wisdom about age and this one was the first I liked

I'm not senile," I snapped. "If I burn the house down it will be on purpose.”

― Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

She is a genius for sure and I hope that’s me still to come.

“For age is opportunity no less

Than youth itself, though in another dress,

And as the evening twilight fades away

The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”

― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow , The Complete Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Ah that’s more like it. But I'm searching and searching for suitable words and it's no good. Most of the quotes on aging are negative.  So many settle with complacency or compromise.  Fuck all that. I’m going to carry on with the same desires and aspirations. I technically could live ‘til my 90’s, maybe even my 100’s - that’s thirty five or more years to go. I think I just have to adjust my physical expectations as my mental ones remain as ever, (yes, even when I forget things!)

Pip pip everyone

Take care of yourselves and each other

Here are the pics of the uke case and the cheesecake I'm proud of.


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