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4th July 2014

8:08am: Arthur
This is my favorite part of a hurricane: the morning after a rough night, with strong cool breezes rushing through the treetops like surf. Windows open to catch the fresh air. Everyone smiling as the hurricane's potential transmutes into could-have-been. We were too far away from this one to be dealing with any real aftermath, but I'll take this bit.

24th June 2014

8:40am: Diaspora returns?
Someone on another blog suggested that perhaps people might be returning to LiveJournal, having grown tired/annoyed/exasperated by the dangerously loose privacy controls on other platforms. I am, therefore, helpfully passing along that rumor in hopes of giving it legs. >:-) Come home, exiles - my Friends List misses you. (And it would be really nice not to have to use a third-party RSS reader to keep in touch with all of those folks who've resorted to blogging elsewhere, because a writer must write.)

6th June 2014

9:07am: Contra-textual
I’ve come to the conclusion that texting is a conversational medium best suited to those whose conversational styles are less prone than mine to including multiple angles in the same snippet of text. Half the time, I can’t figure out which of my conversational angles a correspondent is replying to. And who wants to retype enough context from the previous message so the person you’re replying to can make sense of your response?

Give me email or a chat window any day.

30th May 2014

9:16am: Warning: Rewrite in Progress
Don't forget your safety goggles. >:-)

Okay. I've now got a first draft of both Switchback and Lynch, so it's time to work on the rewrites for both...before the third in the series gets up enough steam to force me to pay attention to it.

First step (for me) in the rewrite process: prepare a synopsis. Nothing lets me locate plot holes better than a tightly-written short synopsis; synopses are geared to focus strictly on the plot and to step outside the sorts of point-of-view-related blinders that can keep me from seeing where I've left something out.

And, in order to prepare a synopsis, I need to know where the various important parts of the story are. I use Alexandra Sokoloff's story elements list as a jumping-off point. Last night, that meant I was sorting out Act 1 and 2 turning points, story midpoint, themes, and a bunch of other stuff. I know what the story is, sure, but for purposes of condensing all those pages of text down into a two-page synopsis it can be helpful to have to put things down on paper.

This will be the first time I've tried to write a synopsis for a series, on top of the synops for the first two books. I doubt much of what I write now about my expectations for the series's third book is going to survive the actual first draft, but I do have some idea where the first two books' events are pointing, so it'll be good to have that down as well.

Then, with refined synopses in hand, I should theoretically know where the first drafts are weak and where they need smoothing out. I know better than to set firm dates as goals, but I think I'm going to aim for a week or two to wrap up the synopses--and do my best not to let this become an exercise in avoidance, despite how much I both dread and dislike rewriting. It has to happen if I want to share the stories.

So: onward.

25th May 2014

12:14pm: Garden log, 2014
If I don't put this down here, I'm going to forget it, and then I'll be mad at myself next spring, so:

2014 garden log

March 15: Sowed tomatoes and peppers in pots, two seeds per pot, four pots total each variety - Corno di Toro and Ashe County Pimento sweet peppers; jalapeño and Tiburon poblano hot peppers; Kumquat cherry tomato (selected from last season's self-sowers); Pink Princess gene pool cherry tomato; Rose cherry tomato (selected from last season's Rose tomatoes); German Johnson and Cherokee Purple, and Illini Star main crop tomatoes; and Black Plum and Illini Gold paste tomatoes. Sowed Premier kale and Georgia Southern and Champion collards in winter-killed garden beds.

April 20: Transplanted Lemon Queen sunflowers to larger pots. German Johnson tomatoes have poor germination and growth. Rose tomatoes have decent (but below average) germination, slow growth. Others at least average.

April 27: Sowed Senposai, Scarlet Charlotte swiss chard in garden bed. Sowed first patch of Silver Queen and Augusta sweet corn.

May 4: Sowed Seminole and Waltham Butternut winter squash and Tender Grey, Costata Romanesca, and Green Gourmet summer squash; Gator perpetual chard; echinacea from seed gathered in my mother's garden; Genovese basil; borage, cleome, nicotiana, and Spanish Brocade marigold in pots. Senposai is beginning to show. No sign of Scarlet Charlotte.

May 11: Planted out the sunflowers and some of the tithonia. Sweet corn germination is really awful - probably too dry.

May 13: Planted out more tithonia, the tomatoes, and the peppers. Scarlet Charlotte is starting to be noticeable. Started harvesting the Premier kale which survived the winter.

May 18: Set up fence for climbers; planted Grady Bailly "greasy" pole bean, limas King of the Garden and Violet's Multicolored, and cucumbers H-19 Little Leaf (pickling), Garden Oasis (beit alpha), and Chelsea Prize (English). Transplanted extra tomatoes and peppers in larger pots for giving away. Some of the spring-sown Premier kale has already bolted, argh.

May 24: Some of the cucumbers and beans are starting to break the ground, yay!

May 25: Planted out summer squash, winter squash, perpetual chard, and one of the flowers grown from seed (didn't mark them as to species, and now I can't remember which pot is which; mark them better next year). Sowed in pots tomatillos Dr. Wyche's Yellow, Everona Large Green, and Purple, and cilantro, all to eventually go out into the garden. Cilantro should have been sown in the herb bed(s), but that part still needs to be cleared of lingering winter greens. Spotted first of the cabbage looper butterflies around the kale.

May 26 (plan): Clear the rest of the winter greens and plant out parsley, basil, more cilantro. Thin Senposai. Weed around Scarlet Charlotte. Plant second round of Silver Queen and Augusta corn. Put up poles for Florida weave tomato trellis.

(No plan ever survives first contact with the enemy - in this case, the heat.)

May 29: The slower cukes appear to be emerging. The new perpetual chard appears to be doing very well, as are all the planted-out squash seedlings. Tomato growth has increased exponentially, so am going to assume they're settled in well; time to get the first layer of trellis weave up, before they flop over. No further damage to the potato onions, so perhaps clearing straw away from them and using shovel to cut any vole tunnels is working?

22nd May 2014

8:30am: Grrrrr
Another effing earthquake last night just as I was going to bed - this one was a 3.2, centered in the next county down from us. It was validating to hear the meteorologist on this morning's news remind people, when asked if this was an earthquake or "just" an aftershock, that technically they're all earthquakes. If we can feel it, it's not "just" anything, damn it.

Ahem.

In other news, the pole beans and cuke seeds are in the ground, the tomatoes and peppers are all doing well, the potato onions seem to be next on the voles' taste parade, and the pollen count is kicking my ass this spring.

Oh, and I appear to have written all but the epilogue on the WIP, codenamed Lynch. :-) Go me!

9th May 2014

9:11am: 2 o'clock tick tock
For the record, last night was the first night this year we've been able to have the windows all open. It was, therefore, also the first night we've had the full range of sounds available to us from the rural land around our house.

At about 1:45 AM this morning, that meant we were treated to the serenade of a whippoorwill who's obviously fighting his Circadian clock. I woke up and spent some groggy time trying to figure out whose electronic device had that very odd alarm and what it would be going off for at that hour. ;-)

7th April 2014

8:55am: Slogan
Seen on the side of a tractor trailer this morning en route to work: "Kain is Able!"

Snerk.

28th March 2014

9:31am: At some point, I ought to update this, hmm?
It feels like this whole winter has been a huge blur of cold, wet, snow, and more wet. Can't get into the garden to plant early spring stuff because it's too cold and wet. Severe cold (three nights of temperatures at 4 degrees F!) killed off almost all the kale and collards I had planted with the expectation of harvesting for the chickens over the winter and early this spring. Snow collapsed the low tunnels I'd erected over my winter greens-for-people beds not once, but twice, tearing holes in the cover. The wet killed off a lot of the winter lettuce and all of the beets. We have burned through so much wood keeping the house warm; it's a good thing we had extra stockpiled.

I rescued the low tunnels by laying plastic netting - the kind I use over the sweet potatoes to keep the deer off - over the hoops, then putting the second layer of frost blanket over top of the netting. Thus far, that's worked; where the frost blanket tore more, or tore in different places, the second layer seems to have stayed intact, and the netting kept further snows' weight from tearing more holes between the hoops.

I'm harvesting greens from the tunnels now and have replanted the tatsoi, which has already bolted, and the beets, and have reseeded the chicken kale and collards in the exposed beds. It's been so cold in the past couple of weeks, though, that I'm seeing no growth at all from the seeds.

Supposedly next week (well, beginning today, really, with yet another rain event) the weather's expected to give us temperatures more like what we should be seeing at this time of year - lows in the 40s, highs in the mid 60s. Maybe next weekend - barring more damned rain! - I might finally get to till the beds to remove the mole tunnels riddling them, and then I can get a late start on spring-plated things. Maybe.

24th January 2014

4:18pm: Not here to make friends
“Male writers, and their male protagonists, are expected to be flawed and complex, but reader expectations for women writers and their characters tend to be far more rigid. Women may stray, but only so far. If they go on deep, alcoholic benders, they best repent and sober up at the end. If they abandon their spouses and children, they best end tragically, or make good. Women must, above all, show kindness. Women may be strong – but they must also, importantly, be vulnerable. If they are not, readers are more likely to push back and label her unlikeable.”
(http://kateelliott.livejournal.com/235586.html, Kameron Hurley as guest post author)

"Well-behaved women seldom make history." (Laurel Thatcher Ulrich)

I write what I hope are realistic characters. Men and women, all of them real people, with real flaws, making decisions which span the range from inspired to really problematic but which are driven by their backgrounds and personalities and the intolerable situations in which they find themselves. Character, more even than plot, is what drives me to write about these people, and character is what makes me want to read someone else’s stories. I don’t want to read, or write, about characters whose edges are smooth and fit into society’s little boxes. What fun would that be?

(What's the worst thing someone can hope for you if you're female, IMO? "Stay out of trouble.")

So, am I going to be polishing off the edges on my "unlikeable" female characters? Hell no. They are who they are, just as is every flesh-and-blood woman not afraid of demonstrating independence from the expectations of others. I firmly believe we should all be who we are, and my characters stand in testimony to this belief.

Or, as Roxane Gay said in her article on BuzzFeed (http://www.buzzfeed.com/roxanegay/not-here-to-make-friends-unlikable), my protags are not here to make friends. They're here to live their lives, and I’m going to let them - just as I'm going to let myself.

31st December 2013

9:54pm: Year in Review, 2013
Accomplishments for 2013:

-- A harvest which, despite the wettest year on record, is still filling boxes. Who knew winter squash liked so much wet? Who knew about peppers' love of moisture?

-- Marmalade, which was actually not the most difficult preserve I've put up thus far in my rather short career.

-- Three-quarters of a new novel. It's still fighting me every inch of the way, but we're getting there. Which is convenient, because I really want to get back to the first in the series and do some revision. You know, so it's presentable for company?

-- Conquering my fear of markers in color-rendering a drawing. In fact, if it wasn't for the contest I'm entering this drawing in, I might never have even tried. (I made three copies of this drawing so, if I screwed up two of them learning to color-render, I'd still be able to enter the contest with the black and white third. Thus far, I'm actually very pleased with the first attempt.)

Challenges yet to be conquered:

-- Learning to balance my time better. Just because I can do three things at once, two of them in my head, doesn't mean I'm more efficient that way or that the things I'm simultaneously working on are better for the split attention. I need to focus on just one thing at a time. Which means....

-- Not feeling guilty when I can't actually think about the current novel. The constant low-level current of thought about whatever scene I'm working on, circling endlessly without progress, robs me of the ability to focus deeply on my active project, which is usually active for a reason. So, yes, I need to just let it go every once in a while and not fret over the absence of those characters in my mental space.

-- Finishing what I start. Not ever going to conquer this one, but it's worth looking at every once in a while. Plus, notice how it feeds directly into the one above? Just one damned thing after another. ☺

10th December 2013

12:52pm: The alien**
A mini cat emergency – two people distractedly trying to anoint four* animals with flea-killing elixir while one of the dogs is determined to make a getaway, resulting in a cat getting tagged with flea stuff intended for the beagle – turned into a rather different evening than I had expected, once I realized the mistake. (Mistake; cue shocked realization that this stuff can be toxic to cats, grab for cat, cat ducks out of kitchen and ends up under bed, is dragged out and finally washed off with a soapy washcloth.) Heigh ho, off to the emergency (e.g., expensive) vet’s, where they informed me that we had a lovely young lady who would be just fine, as we’d acted fast enough and she’d gotten a dose far below the danger threshold.

I promptly asked them whose cat they were talking about. Surely they had hold of someone else’s animal, because they couldn’t be referring to the cat who’s named Luna and referred to, often, as Lunatic.

The tech brought her out, purring and calm in his arms. Yep, our cat. But she was friendly and interested in perfect strangers! And you know what? She’s still behaving like that.

I may have to take her back there in the future. You know, the next time she decides to be a screeching hellion. Well, when my wallet can afford the fee for whatever magic they applied, anyway. >:-)

*Four animals - three dogs, one cat - only because the fifth, the old ginger tom, has an open wound near the spot where you apply this stuff, and we didn't want to risk it. That cat's been through enough already this year.

**Anyone who's taken one cat out of a household of multiple cats and then brought the traveled cat back, only to find the others think it's been turned into an alien, will understand the title of this entry.

24th October 2013

8:54pm: Fire season
First fire of the autumn - chilly outside, nice and toasty inside beside the woodstove. Not exactly in my chair, because the dog beat me to it. >:-\ And, tomorrow, when we wake up to a world gone frosty, I'll still be grateful for the warmth.

Woodstove

22nd October 2013

8:32am: Element Weekend
It was a weekend full of Elements - Honda Elements, that is. We went up into the valley, to Graves Mountain Lodge and Orchard, for their fall apple festival and harvested more than a dozen Element sightings on that one single day. Are there just more Elements in the community of people who are likely to attend such a festival? I hardly see Elements anymore down in the city - which I suppose isn't all that surprising, given that Honda stopped making that model two or three years ago, but I love my Element and still find it incomprehensible that more people don't drive them. Perhaps I have finally met my people. *g*

(Apples? Oh, yes. We ended up bringing home a bushel of various varieties - Mutsu (also called Crispin), Granny Smith, Grimes Golden, a whole lot of lovely, tiny Winesaps which you cannot find hardly at all anymore, Yorks, and the best Golden Delicious I've ever had. Most of those will be apple pie/crisp filling, but the Golden Delicious are purely for eating.)

We're due for our first frost later this week. The newly sown winter greens beds are covered, as of Sunday, with a lightweight frost blanket, just enough to keep them through the worst of what our winter will bring. Here's hoping the support system for that blanket, which we fabricated ourselves, will hold up to any snow or ice we may get.

The garlic and perennial onions should go in this weekend, and the rest of the tomato vines and their trellis will come down. I have to clear the remaining beds (and hopefully sow winter ground covers), but that's waiting for frost to knock down the last of the squash and beans. The Seminole squash patch now extends at least 30 feet out from the bed where they're planted. Next year, those suckers are going on trellises. >:-)

And then I get a bit of a rest from gardening work. So looking forward to that!

12th September 2013

4:25pm: Hanging's too good for 'em
I get to have a conversation with my local research librarian about locating examples of a particular sort (and era) of rural preacher so I can figure out how Jody, in Lynch, is going to try talking a mob into not carrying through the action flagged by the book’s title. There are probably even good examples of such speeches out there.

I bet it’s not even the strangest research query the librarians have seen. >:-)

14th July 2013

1:57pm: Photo-Updatery
Contrast this:

squash, sweet corn, cosmos

with this:

robust growth

That's two weeks' worth of growth on the winter squash vines and the cosmos. In those two weeks, we've received ten-plus inches of rain, and solidly warm (and occasionally hot) temperatures, and sun when it wasn't raining. Not too much wind, either; the corn is mostly vertical still.

I went out and took some new snaps of the garden and the current crop of wildflowers; check out my Flickr page for those - http://www.flickr.com/photos/8556491@N07/. Some great new cosmos shots!

12th July 2013

8:36am: The Carnival of the Weeds
The past two weeks around my house have been a magnified version of the spring and summer over all: Rain. Rain. Rain. Thunder, then rain some more. Weed! Weed! Rain. Rain. Thunder. Weed!

Last night I came in from the garden at 9PM covered in wet, spattered dirt flecks and sweat. I'd had onions that needed to be harvested and then hung up in bunches to dry and a million opportunistic weeds to yank and turn into mulch (roots up, you buggers!) This was the fourth night of six that I've come in like that, with a break of two days because it was just too hot one evening and monsooning on another.

This morning, and all of last night so far as I can recall, having woken to lightning and rain at some point, it's monsooning again. We are officially having the wettest summer on record here in central Virginia (not that I needed the official record to tell me that). Here it is nearly the middle of July, with all the vegetables in our massive garden bursting at the seams in their rush to produce, and I have watered with the hose a grand total of one day: right after the sweet potato slips went into the ground. That's it.

I know that weather doesn't equal climate...but wettest summer ever on record. I wonder if the climate change deniers are enjoying their summer?

20th June 2013

1:35pm: Oh, so angry
The most frustrating experiences in my life have been where I see wrong being done and been unable to do more than tell the wrongdoer that they’re screwing up. Some of these situations are so infuriatingly wrong that I am rendered nearly speechless. This, I know, is the point at which some people become activists. I don’t have room on my emotional plate for that sort of investment, however, and so I have done what I can: I’ve commented on the proposed removal of endangered species protection for the grey wolf.

"Collectively, these factors mean that wolf populations are quite resilient to human-caused mortality if it is adequately regulated."

You lie to yourselves if you think "adequately regulated" is the way certain states' regulators are gleefully lining up to target an animal which has become far more a symbol than a varmint. You’re committed to your chosen science, which ignores the human variable in this species’ environment, so nothing I say in that regard will be anything more than blah, blah, blah to you…so I will just say this: you’re wrong, your decision will destroy not just the wolves but their entire ecosystems, and I hope your grandchildren can forgive you.

You can comment, too, if you feel so moved; the open comment period on the proposed delisting of protection for the grey wolf expires September 11, I think. How very ironic.

To see what others have said, or to comment yourself on the proposed delisting: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FWS-HQ-ES-2013-0073. The entire text of the report, including details of what they considered in proposing this change, is also available.

Would I advocate you comment? Sure. This delisting involves so much more than the lives of individual wolves, and its implications affect you, and all of us, in the larger picture, to the point where I get a lump in my throat thinking about it. Oh, people, we can be so much better than this!

Your ability to comment on the proposal is one of the really great advantages to a democratic system, and one you should seize whenever the mood moves you. It should move you this time, but that’s for you to determine for yourself. Me, I’m going to sit here and be speechless for a while.

13th June 2013

9:08am: June Haiku
Fireflies
gleaming in the gloaming sky--
Nature’s fireworks season commences.

12th May 2013

5:45pm: Serendipity
Or, why it's important to have good neighbors (or at least good relations with your neighbors). I was contemplating what I was going to do about the frost predicted in this area for Monday night and was not feeling optimistic--I put forty tomato plants and a batch of peppers out in the garden last weekend, and none of those plants will handle frost. I reasoned that I could cover them with straw if I had enough left over from the mulching project, but I knew I didn't.

My phone rings; it's my son. He's at the horse farm up the road, where he works part time, and the owner has asked him to dispose of a batch of spoiled hay. Did I maybe want it? I did.

So, I acquired a pickup load of spoiled (and therefore weed-seed-less, or as near as could be) timothy hay, and all my tomatoes and peppers are now sporting hay wind screens, ready to be pulled over the leaves tomorrow evening in case the weather report holds and that unseasonable frost threatens.

(We are about three weeks past what is generally accepted to be the last frost date in this area. I usually delay planting frost-sensitive things like tomatoes until the beginning of May, just to be certain, but clearly this year is determined to be different.)

Needless to say, I did not plant out the remaining batch of tomatoes and peppers or sow the plants that come up directly in the rows, not with a pair of cold nights like we have coming. Next week will be soon enough.

5th May 2013

8:15pm: A'farming I Shall Go
Forty tomato plants - Brandywine, German Johnson, Black Plum, and Illini Gold, all paste or main crop - are now out of the seed trays and into the ground, along with eleven peppers of various persuasions. I've got a much smaller batch of cherries - my seed-saved Rose variety - and the Corno di Toro peppers coming along that will probably get planted out next weekend, when I should be able to get up a head of steam again. The annual beds are all completely straw mulched, now, too, alongside the bed with the strawberries and asparagus and garlic, leaving only the one permanent bed with the raspberries and blackberries and assorted early season beets and greens.

(If you've ever wondered why we mulch, you have only to leave one patch of ground uncovered and take note of the difference about thirty days later. Man, the weeds in that one remaining bed!)

It was a real toss-up this morning whether I'd put all this planting off yet another week. It has been cold in central Virginia this spring. Yesterday, it was 41. This morning, with some cloud cover, it was 46, with a northerly breeze that made my hands go quickly purple when I took the dog out for her walk. Tomatoes and peppers do not like the cold. But we have rain coming, a slow front that looks to bring us nice, calm, soaking rain for the first three days of the week, and I did not want to miss that free water. So, the tomatoes are in and I am tired, tired, tired. I should say we; I was not the only one out there.

This week, we took delivery of three very large loads of topsoil, which once spread will form the base for the hoop house we'll be raising as this year's major project. More and more like a farm every day. >:-)

Next up, sowing squash - summer and winter - and melons in the seed trays. It only took me three tries last year to learn that, with the crows, direct-sowing of these crops was not going to work. There are things I can direct-sow which will be going in next week (buckwheat, sorghum, corn, chard) and other things I need to start in seed trays (sunflowers, which the deer love and which, therefore, cannot be direct-sown). Unless the weather turns unexpectedly hot, however, those will wait another week, maybe two.

I picked the first spring-sown radish today. Some of the early spinach is approaching harvest size. Beets are slow, but coming along. The collards and kale which overwintered are in glorious, bee-feeding flower; once done, they're going to be the chickens' delight, and then I will have to do something else with that part of the bed. Hmm. I bet it won't be tomatoes. >:-)

2nd May 2013

1:32pm: Dear Subconscious,
I sometimes think it’s a damned shame that we can’t write a novel in the length of time it would normally take someone to read it. If, for instance, this benighted story of prodigal brothers, kidnapped babies, and the hills of the city of Lynchburg, VA, had taken me only a couple of days to write, I might have a much better handle on whether the plot really does need that extra layer of Urgent! Complication! that my subconscious apparently believes it does.

Or maybe I just have too many things going on in my head. You think?

Really, Subconscious, we’re up to 186 pages and nearly (so very nearly) to the midpoint reversal. You’d think you would be able to manage at least a little urgency. The point-by-point spreadsheet I’ve laid out for the rest of the novel isn’t enough for you? Do you maybe think you can hang me out to dry and let me dither here, all calm and crisis-less, until I give up? Guess again, friend. I know how this book ends. We’ll get there together, even if I have to drag you kicking and screaming across that finish line.

(And if I then have to spend the next year rewriting and revising to graft on the sense of urgency you have failed to fork over in the first place, well, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.)

Love,
Your Author Forebrain

***

Unfortunately, I’m not exaggerating the too much stuff in my head. The chicks we brooded out this spring graduated first to a separate pen inside the big girls’ run, so everyone could get to know each other, and then to inclusion with the big girls. They all survived, and they're beautiful. No one’s drawn blood and they’re actually starting to mix a little, so I’m calling that one a win. At least until we figure out if any of them is a rooster!

The tomatoes and peppers I started under lights in the shed are big enough, and the weather appears to finally have settled enough, that I hope to plant them out this weekend in the beds P and I spent hours last week clearing of the last of the crop of weeds and grasses which had invaded last season and which I totally failed to clear over the winter. I still need to put down the last of the straw mulch to keep a fresh crop of weeds from germinating; I foresee another exhausting weekend ahead.

I’ve finished a design project for a lovely little back garden in the city, and I look forward to seeing it paved and planted by fall. (Fortunately, that part is someone else’s baby.)

I’ve also designed and planted a hummingbird garden for P to look at through his office window, and I’ve fleshed out the plantings along the walkway in the winter garden (so-called because it’s the only garden one walks through on this property in the winter, and it’s what I see when looking out the kitchen window in the winter, watching it snow and wishing really hard for spring).

I cleaned up and weeded out the kitchen garden. There’s work yet to be done here: the pathway from back deck stairs to the patio inside the kitchen garden, and the plantings at the far end (Washington hawthorn, I think, and maybe some Skip laurels or Mugo pines), but I don’t see myself getting to that right away.

And then, of course, the big vegetable garden. The planting of the tender crops is only the start, and the work gets more intense from here. I am bound and determined to get a crop of winter squash this year. I might squeeze in a block of early corn, even though last year’s result was laughable. We are planting a huge number of main crop tomatoes now that the new stovetop is in and the canning ought thus to be far less of a PITA.

(Oh, yeah – new stovetop. Replaced the glass-solid-surfaced cooktop that I blew a hole in during last fall’s canning. The whole process had far more moving parts than I’d planned for and convinced me that I want nothing to do with being a contractor, managing the timelines for all the subs, but that said, the people I worked with were very professional and did absolutely beautiful work despite the unexpected obstacles. One of these days I’ll take a photo and post it for all to see. Lakeside Plumbing and Lowes installer David LaJoie, your skill and creativity saved my sanity, and I thank you and wholeheartedly recommend you.)

So, um. Too much shit going on. Most of it, at least, handled. Back to the writing grindstone….

12th March 2013

9:37pm: The winter that was
On Sunday, we went into town and picked up chicks. >:-)

Yep, chicken chicks. (What did you think?) Supposedly they are all Silver Laced Wyandottes, but some brilliant person at the co-op had mixed the remaining chicks together, so I think I really got five Wyandottes and one Partridge Rock. Which is okay, because the Partridge Rocks whose photos I can find online are beautiful. It will make a nice addition to the flock, once they're old enough. (And assuming it's not a cockerel, rather than a pullet. Fingers crossed!)

They're busy playing in the pine shavings as I write this. No need to worry about their foraging skills! Pine shavings are flying everywhere. Good thing I propped their waterer up on two stone blocks.

Aside from the chicks, I've been running from pillar to post this past month--design work (yay!), garden prep and planning, seed starting. My professional organization designed a garden display for the local home and garden show. Two weeks after that, we held our annual winter business meeting, for which I had responsibility for assembling certificates and DVDs of the previous summer's garden tour. I even managed to put a few words on paper for the Lynch book. I lost a day due to power outage following a winter storm, but it was just a day, so I count myself fortunate there.

From this point forward, it's all go - I have a million things to get started and planted once it warms up a bit more. If you don't hear from me for a while, just think of me in my garden, or playing with the chicks. >:-)

11th January 2013

9:46pm: Eureka of the Musical Kind
Ah! I've been struggling to identify music which will work to conjure the main characters in Lynch; bluegrass/folk/Southern balladry is so very much not my usual era or prior area of interest, but it's what these characters want.

Tonight, I acquired the latest Mumford & Sons CD, and I got a nice, solid click: Calvin. Some of this will suit his personality exceptionally well.

I still need to pin down theme music for Lucie, Calvin's love interest. I'm stuck at the scene where she appears on screen for the first time. (Well, stuck for that reason, and because of some other Real Life stuff bogging down my conscious and subconscious mind. Fingers crossed I can get that handled in the next week or so.) A dayjob work friend of mine is much more up on this music than I am. I think I'll ask for her suggestions.

Other stuff that's working for this book: Fleet Foxes (that's Jody). Sarah Jarosz (theme, I think, rather than a specific character; I had thought this was Lucie's music, but it doesn't conjure her. Or maybe I just don't know her well enough yet). Riverside (Calvin, again.) Trapezoid (Martha, maybe?). Hank Dogs (thematic). Crooked Still (also Martha). So many groups I had no inkling of before starting to work in this book universe. See what writing does? Step through a door, and open your mind to possibilities unseen! This, now--this is magic. This is the joy of writing for me.

***

Gardeners will appreciate why I say this: sometimes, January is one of my favorite times of year. Not only is there little back-breaking work to be pushed through outside, but there's a stack of seed catalogs and, after dreaming over them, the satisfaction of actually choosing the varieties to be ordered and holding new seed packets in my hand. Daylight's growing noticeably longer already, less than a month after Midwinter. At this point in the season, anything is possible.

May it be a good one for us all.

25th December 2012

3:53pm: Greetings of the Season!
Here's hoping all of you are healthy and happy and replete with good food.

Easily the most intriguing gift of the season: a book called Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean, which appears to be an actual work of scholarship by Edward Kritzler (who, the foreword says, was a historian and journalist based in Kingston, Jamaica, who died in 2010). I haven't actually done more than look at the chapter titles. Given what I've read doing research for the pirate novel -- for those following along from some several years back, that would be Josh's book -- I'm interestingly positioned to either condemn or thoroughly enjoy it. >:-)

Nicest gift of the season: an honest-to-goodness Peruvian alpaca knitted scarf, red and dark pink, soft and warm. It came with a tiny little Peruvian female figure in a colorful woven skirt that I will have to take a photo of and post later. Quite clever, actually.

I also got far too much chocolate and baked far too many cookies. At least most of those went out of the house!
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