Monday, July 30, 2012

Lilies, lizards and monster tomatoes

This is a wonderful bulb I bought in the grocery store. It was just called Mexican Lily. It is a day lily and quite stunning. The flowers are huge and brightly colored. I don't think it's hardy to my zone, so I dig them up every fall. To make that easier, I put them in pots on the patio instead of in the ground.

This is a picture of one of the lizards that lives in the woodpile. Cute little guy. Nice of him to pose.

This is an update on the Hungarian Pink tomato. They are HUGE. And none of them are even starting to change color. I can't imagine how much this one weighs! You can also see that this tomato plant is starting to show signs of blight. I've been spraying with an organic fungicide, but it doesn't seem to be helping.

The drying tomato has almost succumbed to the blight. I hope all the dozens of tomatoes on it manage to ripen before it wheezes over. It's been very prolific! Since it's lost most of the lower leaves, exposing the green tomatoes, I put a little skirt of row cover to shade the fruit. It seems to be helping to avoid sunscald.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Compositae or Flowers Shaped Like a Daisy

This is one of my favorite types of flowers. When I thought about writing this blog, I figured I go get some pictures from the garden. Then I was surprised at how many examples there were. I have one or two more, but they aren't blooming at the moment.

Here's the classic - a true daisy. I think this is from seed we got as a gift in a pretty pot. I started it indoors and planted it all over. It seems to be spreading.

The tiny white and yellow daisy is Feverfew. This plant is actually growing out of the sidewalk. I bought the original at the Herb Festival and planted it halfway up the hill. This is a volunteer at the bottom of the hill. It came up in the middle of the sprawling not-chamomile.

This echinacea is peeking out from under a forsythia that has gotten larger that I expected. Another one I started from seed and planted all over. I have volunteers all over too. I hope to transplant some of them into better places this fall. A couple are crowding a fussy rosebush and need to be elsewhere.

This sunflower was from an assorted pack of seeds, so I had no idea what color it would be. A real beauty!

These black-eyed susans popped up on the hill this year. I've put plants up there a few times and none seemed to make it. Which is surprising as they are very hardy and usually invasive. With a mild winter and a wet spring I've discovered 3 sturdy plants. I hope they spread.

This lovely plant I bought at the farmer's market. It was marked "Black-eyed Susan". I didn't know it was this color. Another wonderful surprise.

This is a gaillardia. I was expecting a smaller plant. It gets to about 3' and it's very floppy. I guess the ones I see at the nursery are dwarves. Another one I started from seed. But if I'd know it was going to be so tall, I wouldn't have put it in the front of the garden!

Friday, July 20, 2012

WIP Update

I think all the bones are there - front to back. Although a few of the chapters jump a bit too abruptly. I think I may need to write a bridge here or there to smooth the transition. Seems there's a fine line between brevity and too spare.

In thinking about the action, I think there might need to be a few more twists. Some of the writing is left over from the original which I wrote nearly 15 years ago. It might be too direct. Allowing the characters to achieve their goal too easily. I may need to toss in a few more obstructions to heighten the pace.

But I am please to be where I am in mid-July. At this pace, it is highly possible that I can reach my goal of self-pubbing by the end of the year. Amazing.

People have said that they find it freeing to self-publish. The timetables are their own. And things come to market much more swiftly. I agree. I don't have to worry that I haven't hit all of the required points put forth by an agent. And all that waiting, possibly years of it to sell a book.

I have plans for the next and the next and the one after that. Very cool.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hubris or a squirrel

I bragged about all those grapes that were forming...

And now that they were just about ready to pick--they're gone. All the good ones at least.

Got to make a varmint proofing plan for next year.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Sometimes I forget to look up

With all the seeding and weeding and looking for bugs, sometimes I forget to look at the trees.

In all the rushing and scheduling, I forget to take a breath and look at the clouds, or the mountains.

Sometimes my head is so full of music and stories and things I need to do that I forget to look around me.

This weekend, I need to look up and around and breathe.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


A lovely gray, damp, rainy day. I have high hope of getting lots of writing done.

I've been thinking about what draws me into a story. I think it is when I see the story through the character's heart. It doesn't need to be first person. I've read plenty of stories in third person that sucked me in immediately. Perhaps it was a strictly limited 3rd person.

I read somewhere that Harry Potter is an excellent example of limited 3rd person. Everything is seen from his point of view. Various tricks of visions, dreams and eavesdropping are used for any information that Harry doesn't personally witness. I love the Harry Potter books. I fell into them easily and happily.

So I need to think about my characters and see how I can add more heart to each of the scenes.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hibiscus and other things

The hibiscus is blooming! I left my fingers in the picture so you'd see how big the flowers are. And such a yummy deep red.

Further along the path is the great sprawling not-chamomile.
I bought this at the herb festival in a little 3' pot. It said chamomile. This is obviously not the one I was expecting. That great mess is one plant! Last year it sprawled all over, crowding out all the other plants around it. Since I can't eat it, and it isn't especially pretty, I cut it all down. And of course it came back. I plan to put it up on the hill where it can sprawl to all its content.

Hopefully, now that the heat wave is subsiding I will be able to get a little more work done in the garden.

Friday, July 6, 2012

WIP update

I was called for jury duty on Monday. That was a little scary financially. The thought that I might be out of work for an entire week had me near panic. But then I figured I could cram in some work in the evening and hey - the court was paying me a whole $12/day! So I packed some snacks, a book and some writing materials and set off for the courthouse.

The folks were pleasant and the room was fine, but sitting for hours without knowing when or if you'll be needed is wearing. Luckily, all the trials were canceled. Also, I managed to write! Which was surprising because thunderstorms had kept me awake until the wee hours the night before. I was groggy. And again, I wrote longhand and didn't think about sentence structure or punctuation. I just poured it all out. Page after page in my small notebook. Wonderful.

Maybe I need to take a look at that. I was writing new chapters to replace a couple I had deleted. And the writing flowed pretty well. I have been swallowed up by re-writing. I think the next book will come from scratch. No previous manuscript to bog me down. Just the freedom of making it up as I go.

I'm in the back stretch. There are a lot of threads to rearrange and culminate. And this is just the new rough draft. When I finally finish the re-write, I can start the polishing.

I hope to spend some time toward that goal today!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ethnicity in Fantasy

I just finished reading Broken Kingdoms by NK Jemisin and it got me to thinking about ethnicity. The main character is black. I found no problem relating to her. And maybe that is because she is Maro. A culture that only exists in the book.

I was raised to be tolerant of other religions and skin colors. But I also remember the riots in the 60's and hearing gunshots and knowing that my parents were afraid. That's a powerful realization for a child.

A long time ago I had a job as an assistant manager of a quick-print store. One of my supervisors was a 6'+, solid muscle, black man. I'm 5' and Irish pale. After some awkward encounters we sat down to talk and I confessed to a being afraid of black men in general because of those memories. He confessed that he remembered the riots, too, and as a result feared white people. We had a bit of a laugh, and proceeded to work together more easily.

When I went to college my dorm roommate was of Italian descent. She had some strong traditions and expectations. As a result, she was so totally different from me, that I was convinced I couldn't understand any other culture, regardless of the skin color. It was a shock to see that other people did things differently, ate different food, celebrated different things.

And yet, in fantasy books, I have no problem relating to elves and hobbits and demons and people who are blue or green or black. I've always loved learning about other cultures. I guess when it's in your face, it's a different thing all together.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Garden Report: It's hot!

Most of the country is having a heat wave, so it isn't really news that it's hot. But it's beastly hot today and that means playing outside is a trial. The garden is wilty. I watered, but, ya know, it's hot.

However, the heat lovers are taking off. Peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, melon, squash and beans are doing well. I'm picking the string beans and flat Italian beans every day now.

This is my first year for summer squash. I've never been a big fan of it. Seems nearly tasteless most of the time. But I like to give every vegetable a fair shake. And it's supposed to be very prolific.

Here's the first one of the season.

And here's a second one forming.

The chard is being very tolerant of the heat. Last year it really struggled. This year I put in an entire row and, of course, it took off. Not sure if fencing it against the rabbit had any effect.

I love the rainbow chard. It's fun to have so many different shades. And the stems keep their color when cooked. The young leaves are nice in salad. I usually saute the older leaves with beans or pumpkin seeds and season with a touch of vinegar and olive oil. Yummy.

This year I am being diligent in spraying the tomatoes with fungicide (an organic version from Gardens Alive.) And I am trying a new one - Hungarian Pink. It's supposed to be heart-shaped.
So far it is pointy at one end. I am eager to see what it'll look like ripe.

The strawberries had just flowered and were forming a 2nd round of berries, but I wonder if this heat will stall them.

It's predicted to be in the 90's all week. Hope everything survives!