2012 First Winter Storm

Note to Reader:  As I was just about to post this, we lost power.  For about a day and a half.  We couldn’t get the generator working, because the starter had an electrical short.  So it was a very cold night.  Anyway, shortly after that was Christmas and then New Year’s Eve and then I had my eye surgeries for cataracts–the first on January 2nd, the second three weeks later.  I have a post about that coming, but I thought I’d put this up first, even though it is already February 1st.  2013.  Who would have thought 2012 would pass so quickly.  Anyway, here’s the post from December 20th of last year.

It’s Thursday evening on the 20th of December.  The wind is blowing like a banshee out there.  Max my hundred pound German Shepherd is trying to climb into my lap, but settles with curling around my feet like a cat.  When the doorbell rings he turns into Cujo, my fierce protecter with bared teeth leaping at the door, but he’s afraid of the wind.

Tomorrow is the end of the Mayan Calendar.  I don’t believe it will be the end of the world, although the increase of assault weapons with the threat of a ban and the NRA made lead to the end of us all.  The thought of the tragedy in New Town makes me want to curl up in a ball in someone’s lap.

Greg always cheers me up.  We have a tree up but decided not to bother with outside lights this year.  We have so few visitors; I put them up to bring me cheer when the weather is cold and dark.  But this year, I decided the tree would have to do.

I completed 50,000 words in November for NaNoWriMo, my Young Adult Novel LITTLE GLASS HORSE more than half way finished.  With that much intense writing, there’s lots to catch up with.  It was my first effort at NaNo and I had a great supportive group who all completed their goal.  Yeah!!!

Greg really cheered me up at Christmas by helping me make Christmas cookies for family and friends.  He did all the decorations!  I always knew he was an artist!  I ate a few too many of the leftover cookies, but I’m still glad we made them because we got great reviews from all of you.  It’s nice to be appreciated.  It really is the little things in life that get you through.

 

 

IN BETWEEN

An image from dried Iris leaves, part of a series I did while in grad school at UCLA.

I wanted to post a piece of my art from the past to illustrate my “in between” state that I am currently in: the center egg, about to give birth, nestled in the colorful foliage, being nurtured and protected.

This is how I feel after coming home from my last conference, well for that matter, all of the conferences I have attended in the last three years.  I am nurtured by all the generous writing professionals I am privileged to spend time with, by their advice and their encouragement.  Thanks to all of you.

I am protected by nature and nurtured by my husband and my animals in this wonderful place I call home.  This little piece of land in Leaf River, Illinois.  This beauty that I am lucky to wake up to each morning.

I am in between because of all the changes that are taking place and will take place as a result of my experience at the conferences, and for that matter, with any of the wonderful members of the writing community that I can now say I am a part of.  My life is rich and full.

This is kinda strange for me to be writing this, because yesterday, I hit a wall.  The ultimate fear.  That my work will never be done.  Never be good enough–at least for me.  I went to sleep and woke up realizing that it was okay.  I’ll send it off anyway, and continue to work, to make it better.

I read a blog today about a writer waiting for an agent to respond, the torture, the development of patience, or else madness.  I get this.  I used to be this way in my younger days.  But now, with 62 years of experience, years I am proud to have survived, I think it is different for me.  I actually sent off some pages to an editor months ago, and then promptly forgot that I had, too busy editing, over and over again, starting another book, a YA.  But now, I need to get organized because I will see that agent again next week at a conference in Evanston.  I need to take care of business.

That is the struggle being in this create profession.  We need to be creative, but it is also a profession.  We need to take care of business.  Achieving balance is the challenge.  Especially when I feel like a school kid, learning all kinds of new skills, Twitter, Gravatar, Scrivener.  I know I should be doing links to all of these for anyone who might be reading this blog, but that will have to wait for another post.  I need to get back to finishing the edit to my first 100 pages, well to the entire manuscript for that matter.  It is begging to be sent off, to start its own life out in the world of readers.  It is time.

I’ll work on balance some more tomorrow.

A hot summer on the farm, watering and writing

With only two weeks to prepare before my Midwest Writer’s Workshop in Muncie, Indiana, I’m squeezing writing time in between chores in the garden, the barn and the hay field.  Oh yes, and then there’s cleaning all the leaves out of the pool that have fallen from the surrounding trees decimated from the drought.

The mostly alfalfa and clover hay has just been raked and will be baled later today. Not much there, but with all the bugs, it had to be cut to protect the plants.

The hay was raked this morning.  It looks better than I thought it would because, after no rain for weeks, it poured for twenty minutes just one hour after it was cut on Monday. (That leaches out much of the nutrition and color.)  It was one of those oddball cloud bursts that only blessed a few farms with the much needed moisture.  Oh well.  The hay will due–there’s not much of it anyway–and I’m happy for the trees and grass getting a bit of a drink and a reprieve for me because I didn’t need to water my garden on Tuesday.

The new sprinkler heads make it easier to water without waste.

Speaking of the garden, it’s starting to produce.  We’ve had raspberries for months, but they’re almost finished now–the Asian beetles and some little hard-shelled, black bug variety have found their way into them.  The zucchini and summer squash plants have been popping out new veggies to pick everyday for a  couple of weeks now, to the point that to keep them from going bad, I’m making them into a cold squash soup.  It’s great for those days when I come in, hot from weeding and watering, and too tired to cook.  I steamed them with a red onion, blended them with the remaining water, and put it all in the fridge.  When I’m ready for a quick meal, I ladle some into a bowl, add some spice–salt & pepper, powdered garlic, and a wonderful pizza spice I found in the back of the spice cupboard–top it off with some soy parmesan cheese, and sit down with a good book.

I pulled these beans out because of a white powder mildew, but new ones are already emerging.

I made my first cole slaw from my garden cabbage, using the outer leaves only.  Not the usual because they were a much deeper green than what most people use to make slaw, but with the carrot, cider vinegar and soy-sour cream, it was perfect for my taste.  I’m pretty close to being a Vegan now that I’ve given up dairy, but I can’t resist an occasional piece of fish.  Good protein and a nice change of pace from all the soy.

I think one of these is Collard but I don’t know which, nor the name of the other. Can you help?

This is a funny plant on the right. I have no idea what it is, when or how to pick or how to prepare it.

Next, I need to find a way to use my Greens.  Since I don’t eat meat,  cooking them with bacon just won’t work.  I’ve read not to add salt until you’re ready to eat because it pulls out all the water from the leaves and makes it blah.  Also, the internet featured tons of warnings not to overcook Greens.  I’m not even sure which ones I grew.  I know I have Kale and one of them is Collard greens, I think, but don’t know the other two.  That’s what I get for buying plants with labels on the peat pot that has to be torn off in order to plant.  I know, I should have written it down somewhere.  I still have lots to learn in the garden, but it’s a fun process muddling my way through.

He’s getting terribly thin, but he’s still a lover boy.

On the animal front, Bailer (named because that’s where he was born–in the hay bailer–to a ferrel momma cat) is looking pretty sad.  I feed him special can food from the vet on the kitchen counter away from the other cats (though I give them–Tyler, JD and Patrick– a taste of the good stuff off the butter knife that I use to section it out of the can into Bailer’s bowl).  I hope with the expensive food and extra attention, he will put on a few pounds or at least not lose anymore.  When I pick him up, there’s hardly anything left of him.  He’s my “baby boy,” favorite status since Patches died.  When he’s not outside (which is now only in nice weather during the day because he’s so old and I worry), he’s in my lap.  Patrick, the next-oldest cat, likes to push his way in, but I usually make them take turns.  Otherwise, I have claws flying right in the middle of a favorite show, like NEWSROOM.

Have you seen it, it’s the new series written by Allen Sorkin on HBO.  It’s a don’t miss if you liked West Wing or The American President.  Greg and I watch it with cats in our laps and Max at our feet.

He’s my guardian and constant companion.