Well, I obviously have far too much time on my hands, as I've decided what my New Year's resolutions are going to be. Wanna hear?
1: Learn how to load pictures onto my blog. It can't be all that difficult: I am simply a little overawed by even the most basic teckerknogoly. So, expect to find the odd illustration.
2: Learn how to set up a website. It can't be all that difficult, etc etc.
3: To read at least one poem every day. Not the same poem, you understand: I'll start with my favourites - Mr Shakespeare's sonnets - and move on and up. Sam Hunt enchants, as well. Tennyson, too. And Walt Whitman.
4: Finish Rats. It deserves an ending.
5: Sign up for NaNoWriMo. I find the whole concept (write 2,000 words of a novel every day during November) daunting, scary, and probably impossible. So, I'm going to do it. Apparently many many thousands of people do... and not a few of them are Kiwis. i know i shan't write the Great New Zealand Novel.... but it should be fun.
6: Tell my friends just how much they mean to me. Gillian, Jo, Phil and Lynda, Paul, Stu, Reg and Caroline, Marty and Rip and Chris and Lyndsay and Mike and Kevin and Heather, and all the rest (you know who you are). You are all magnificent people, whose friendship means more to me than I ever tell you.
7: Find a way of seeing my grand-daughter. This might mean winning Lotto, of course: but I must see her, somehow.
So there you are.
LISTENING TO: The magnificent Annie Crummer, "Shine". She once sang an advertising jingle for me, for the Sheraton Breakwater Casino. I think we paid her $3,000.
READING: Nothing of note. In fact, I'm between books. What's going on?
WORD OF THE DAY: Anticipation.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: 2010: are you going to be a Twenty-Ten person,or a Two thousand and Ten person? I'm going Twenty-Ten....
Of course, Jayne Francis knew perfectly well – or thought she did. She was wrong.
“Well, I figure the shoe’s the right shape, ma – Miss Jayne,” Arthur said. “But in order to shape it I’ve had to heat it too high, so I’ll cool it now,” which he did by plunging it into a water and oil bath, so steam hissed and sputtered and billowed. He picked up a thick leather glove, and plunged it into the water, then put it on, dripping. He grabbed the shoe with the gloved hand, and it hissed against the leather. “Now, it’s still pretty hot, so I’ll take it to Beth, here girl, hoof time again,” and the horse obediently raised her hoof for him. He patted her, congratulating her for a job well done. “Then I’ll press the shoe against the hoof, and mark it.” The horse shoe was still hot enough to blacken the hoof. He dropped the shoe into the dirt, and rubbed at the hoof with the wet glove, to stop any burning. “This’ll toughen the hoof, and help it accept the shoe when it’s ready.” The boy was all activity now, but his movements were precise and economical. “Would you mind terribly, ma- Miss Jayne, if I removed my shirt? It’s terrible hot here today.” She smiled, and nodded her acceptance. He stripped his shirt off, and used it to wipe his brow. Under the shirt he wore a black singlet, washed grey, but stained black again by his sweat. He picked the shoe up, and tossed it back into the blast-furnace, pumped the bellows, and flipped the horse shoe in the blazing charcoal.
“Now what I do is reheat the shoe, to around oh 500 degrees, and then quench it again.’
“And what does that do?” Jayne asked.
“Well, to shape the steel I had to take her up to 800 degrees or so, but that makes it brittle when it’s cool. It’d crack and break under old Beth’s great weight. There’s stuff called Austentite that forms in the steel at that temperature. Reheating the steel makes it disappear, which makes the steel tough, but durable. It won’t crack, but it will wear. It’s a balancing act, ma’am.”