Category Archives: garden

More Garden Pictures

I prepped a number of photos so I could put up some posts last week but I’m working on a project and my computer time was all sucked up in that.

This is an older picture of the garden before the sunflowers and pumpkins took over. Those red things are tomato tents and I think they are working — the tomatoes in them look bigger and healthier than any of the others.

This is one of my apples.

These are my other two apples with the first apple in the background.

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Cucumber Sadness

I almost always have a terrible time growing cucumbers. The last time I had a good crop I planted an entire envelope of seeds and managed to get enough survivors to keep me in lemon cucumbers at the end of the season.

This year I started a few seeds on my windowsill. I let them get good and healthy. Then I let them acclimate outside for a few days before I planted them. They looked great.

Then we got about 8 feet of rain in two days.


And now they look like above. One year I transplanted them from the house to outside when it was warm and they also looked like that. There is some secret to cucumbers that I am missing.

I have one plant left that is hanging in there and I just sprouted some seeds on the windowsill again. I am very determined.

This is what the garden looks like right now. I’m not sure what happened but I had pumpkins sprout in incredible abundance. I pulled a lot of them out which broke my heart but as you can see, there are more than enough. There are greens. I found a turnip yesterday.

I need to get out there and weed as soon as it stops raining.

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Coat of Flowers

It wasn’t fun but I got my crown seated and my mouth is about 95% now. My braces haven’t been completely re-attached yet so that number may be the best we can hope for right now.

I started doing the crosswords again in the last couple of weeks. I used to do them all the time years ago. Once you get your brain in that way of thinking it’s easy to pick up again. I like the ones early in the week. I can start my day zipping through the puzzle and feeling like I’m super smart.

I like to do it on paper. I went online to try to check a couple of squares that didn’t make sense to me and learned that you can do the crossword online and it will time you. Tech figures out how to suck the fun out of everything. Just what I need to be tense while doing a puzzle. That’s my favorite part about the big Sunday puzzle is leaving it on the counter to work on throughout the day.

Big weekend. We’re on our way to Corvallis this morning to see UCLA at OSU gymnastics. Timbers season opener tomorrow.

Had to post today since it’s Leap Day.

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Everything All At Once

These are lemon cucumbers.

There are a lot of major things going on that need to be put here but as per my entire life, everything is happening at the same time and I can’t get to it right now. I am hoping over the holiday weekend I can catch up.

Meanwhile, lemon cucumbers are one of my favorite garden treats and I have intermittent success growing them. The last time I was successful I planted an entire package of seeds and ended up with about 6 good plants.

This year I planted a bunch of seeds two different times and I had two sad little stems that never did anything. Late into the season I was walking into the grocery store and passed the clearance plant rack and there was a lemon cucumber. After a brief hesitation, I put it in my cart.

I planted it and fertilized it and was thrilled to see it take off.

Do these look like lemon cucumbers to you?

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Clarion West Beg-A-Thon Week #1 Report

Remember when that raccoon attacked the walls of water on my freshly planted baby tomato sproutlet?

The tomato never really recovered. This is a terrible picture. I tried to figure out a clever way to emphasize the tomato but this I best I can do at the moment.

It’s got tomatoes forming but it’s so spindly it can barely stand up under the burden.

For contrast, here’s the other tomato I planted at the same time.

I tried to take a photo of the giant weed farm the next door neighbors are growing in their front yard, but couldn’t get a shot that best showed the waving yellow flowers that will soon turn into white fluff and blow into our yard. I read on nextdoor that you can report your neighbors for neglecting their yard and it’s tempting. The situation over there hasn’t changed much. The noise in the middle of the night is less terrible and tolerable as long as all the windows are shut and the shades drawn. I am still coming to terms with the idea that I will never have my windows open at night as long as they live there.

Look at Percy! Two years old in May.

Write-a-thon Update.

Here’s a post I wrote a few years ago about the workshop and what it meant to me.

The first week of the workshop is finished. This is my week #1 report.

My original goal was to dig up a first draft I wrote years ago and get it ready to submit.

Upon re-reading the draft, I was concerned that it was such a mess. The set-up is fine but the hard part is finding an ending and I fiddled with it on and off all week and the magical portal where story endings fall out did not open for me.

This afternoon while I ate lunch I tried to decide whether to give up or not. I already know I am the kind of person that will flog on an idea long after it’s clear that I can’t figure out what to do with it.

It’s all made up, right? So there has to be a way to make up something that makes the story work. I hate to give up because I always think I *should* be able to come up with something.

While I ate, I wondered what would happen if I swapped the characters around and chose a different character as the main character and that gave me an idea. So I am going to spend one more day fiddling with it and if I have a clear idea what I want to do, I’ll work on it another week.

Otherwise I’m going to quit it and change to the kayak story and finalize.

This is my donor page.
Here is my classmate and TIRELESS beta reader Maggie.
Here is one of our workshop leaders Neile.
Here’s the list of all the writers if you want to browse.

Here’s the address if you’d prefer to mail a donation:
Clarion West
P.O. Box 31264
Seattle, WA 98103-1264

I just got my donation report and I already have donations! Already the first week we’ve raised almost $6,000. (Not me personally, all the write-a-thoners together.)

Thanks for supporting nerd writers.

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Animals Being Jerks

These are walls of water. The photo is from the garden a few years ago.

I spent the last two afternoons busting my heinie in the garden. I bought a bunch of soil and manure and had lots of clean-up to do — weeds to pull or whack, volunteers to discourage. My arms get so tired. I pushed myself to finish the basics yesterday so I could take a break today.

I got a seed catalog this year and they have the world’s best copywriters because once you look at the catalog you become convinced that you need to grow everything.

If you don’t believe me, ask colleague. I asked if he wanted to look at my extra seed catalog and he came back an hour later with a list as long as my arm.

I’m only planting 2 tomatoes this year because I’m trying to cut back on acidy foods. I picked one cherry tomato and one “super prolific plant with bold, bright colored fruit, starts early and produces late into the season, best tasting tomatoes of your life, you will feel younger, healthier, and more alive if you grow this.”

I had two walls of water left. I put one up and the other one turned out to be made of holes. That did not prevent me from trying to use it anyway. But a walls of water that doesn’t hold water is landfill.

I woke up this morning and saw a green blob in the garden.

“Oh no! The walls of water fell over.” This has happened before. As it settles it sometimes leans.

But what I found was my walls of water turned inside out and my poor baby tomato plant floating in mud.

That raccoon was so angry, he chewed off the little stick I used to give the tomato something to lean against.

He chewed the thing up good. I’ve never had a creature destroy a walls of water before.

Look at this poor little guy. I hope he makes it.

I’m going to buy some more walls of water and try again.

BOOK UPDATE: Everything is on track. Should be available next week. Stand by.

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Little Gray Little Sun

The front dahlia has been bursting out with one giant pink beauty after the other. Every time I get out of my car I have to run over and inspect the latest.

I brought all the squash in. I rarely process any before Thanksgiving and back in the day I sometimes waited until January but I noticed a little black spot on one. I learned the hard way not to ignore those. I processed three of them this weekend.

This all went into the freezer.

While I was awake in the middle of the night I had the idea of making a pumpkin pie now and shaving dark chocolate into the blind baked pie crust when it came out of the oven to create a chocolate layer. However, I’m going back to using all my brain cells for writing again so baking projects might be few and far between.

I tried the Milk Bar compost cookies this weekend and had medium results, mostly because I made a huge amateur hour mistake and while I was attempting to dump my sifted dry ingredients into the mix, the mixer part jostled my bowl and a significant quantity of dry ingredients sprayed artfully across me and my kitchen.

I’d already invested all those other ingredients so I kept going. I stuck them in the oven and put the timer at the recommended time rather than a couple minutes early to check — I should know better. My oven has a mind of its own. The cookies came out super crunchy but still yummy enough that I will try again.

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Just a Big Pile of Dirt with Compost

The paperback is ready: Sweetheart Braves.

If everyone buys 250 copies, I should finally crack the bestseller list. Don’t let me down!

I’m finally back at it and working on Book 4. I still haven’t figured out my process yet so I’m trying something different. That’s a joke because I have figured out my process. It’s to start strong, flail early, have a major freakout, write in circles with intermittent periods of pulling my hair out and sending almost daily whiny messages to my friend Kira about how I really and truly can’t figure out how to finish it this time. Then I make myself finish it because Lorelei has me on the schedule.

But I want to do it differently this time. With less whining and gnashing. More on that story as it develops.

I’ve been doing my last bits of fall gardening. I bought 90 bulbs online and then found a bin of clearance bulbs at Fred Meyer and bought 30 more. I moaned and groaned but I buried a lug of bulbs last weekend and finished up on Monday night. It’s going to be pretty in March.

I optimistically left 2 tomato plants in the ground, both loaded with green tomatoes. Not much progress. I picked everything today and put it on the window sill. I also had this brilliant idea to buy broad beans to do magic to my soil. Actually it wasn’t my idea, it was in this newsletter that I subscribe to.

The only newsletter that is actually helpful, doesn’t come too often, and contains things I actually want to buy: Territorial Seed Company. It was their idea. I need to send them a note and tell them their marketing team is gold medal champion if they’re getting me to stay subscribed, read every one, and buy stuff.

This evening in the 20 minutes before dinner time I was in the dirt with a hand trowel, shoving broad beans in.

I wanted to get things done today because the rains are coming. This is the flower part of the garden and it still looks pretty. There’s lots of work to do on this side yet but I’ll wait until the cold and rain shrivels everything.

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Autumn Leaves Falling

I started yanking stuff out before I took a photo and had to run back in and grab the camera.

I am putting the garden to bed earlier than usual this year. The tomatoes have been completely underwhelming and I’m tired of watering. I did a little homework and I’m trying a cover crop again this year and more soil conditioning/fertilizing methods. It’s still a work in progress. I’ve been trying to get out there all afternoon but there’s always one more thing to take care of.

I get up a little after five so my bedtime is a little after nine.

My body completely rebels when I try to go to bed before nine. Even if it’s just a few minutes. Sometimes after a long week, a girl is tired. I could not keep my eyes open one more minute and had read the same page in my book about 10 times so at 8:50 I said, good enough, and turned out the light and conked out immediately. Woke up, wide awake at 2am. Flopped around for at least 2 hours. The rule is always to tough it out until 9.

Last week I read an article, it might have been about the new Apple watch. I’m not interested in the watch I was just skimming various news sources and came across this in passing. I saw a remark that the medical tracker was good at recognizing AFib and I swear what my brain processed was that this medical tracker could recognize lies, as in: a fib. I thought that was going to be a very interesting device.

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And Boy Are My Arms Tired

Back in the days when we had plants out front.

I thought I would work some soil amendment in and prep this area for planting. When you have giant bushes for 20+ years the dirt turns into a massive root ball. I spent over two hours trying to get this cleaned up–chopping and yanking at roots and more roots. That was all of the upper body strength I had saved up for yard work on Friday. Me and my noodle arms retreated inside for a much deserved icy cold beer and Day 1 of NCAA gymnastics finals.

But I checked the weather and it appeared that Saturday was going to be rain and cool so I heaved my weary ass back out there to clean up the garden spot since I didn’t know when I would have time and good weather again. I pulled weeds and mixed in fertilizer. Then I did that thing where I found all my old seeds and flung them out there. Plus I bought a ton of new seeds. I carefully read the directions and then completely ignored them. Thrive or die vegetables!

A few more hours later I staggered back in the house. I was completely filthy so I took shower, whimpering as I tried to raise my arms above my head to shampoo my hair. I was still tired on Saturday. There is an endless amount of work to do out there but I feel some sense of accomplishment.

Will have to do word count update later. It’s not impressive but still inching forward.

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