blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
A few days ago, I mentioned seedlings, and [livejournal.com profile] queenoftheskies asked me what I'd be planting.

Well, I didn't get my seedlings done yesterday after all, alas, but have acquired most of the needed seed and will take care of them by the end of the week. Frankly, it's been hard to feel any urgency to start my seedlings, considering how the winter has been. After all, it'll be sixty today... with a possibility of two to four inches of snow by Wednesday. Oy.

But seedlings I shall prepare -- the commoner's demonstrated faith in spring, as if putting seeds in soil is the required ritual for drawing warmer weather near. I'm planning to start a ton of broccoli (household favorite we eat at least three times a week), lettuces, cabbage, okra, tomatoes, summer squash, winter squash, a couple different melons, mild peppers and hot peppers, perhaps a single cucumber vine. I'll direct-seed radishes, carrots, sunflowers, and maybe I'll toss in some corn and garlic. Herbs will include cilantro, basil, oregano, and chamomile.

I'm still debating potatoes, and leaning toward not. We just don't eat that many of them.

I'm also still trying to find a local source for sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes.

Considering the expected increase in food prices coming this summer, I'm going to grow everything I'm able.

Who else is putting in a garden this year? And for the purpose of this discussion, "garden" is everything from multiple acres to a pot on the kitchen counter. :)
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
In truth, it was working outside. But with temps in the upper 70s--almost unheard of for Indiana in late July--the work felt like play in some ways.

Dev and I moved fifteen bags of mulch around various planting beds, and put new mulch down in an area that had never been mulched before. It's a mostly-shady area that's difficult to mow, so we'll be filling it next spring with plants that will be happy in mostly-shade.

We uprooted two "volunteer" trees of unknown species, and replanted them on the side of the deck I'd like to have screened for privacy. Each tree is only about six feet tall, and I don't know if we salvaged enough of the roots for them to survive transplant. But they were free trees, and they couldn't have kept growing where they were, so we'll just hope for the best.

While Dev mowed the lawn, I trimmed all hedges and bushes around the house and little deck, then hacked up the trimmed stuff for compost. Lastly, I picked okra and summer squash, decided the carrots should come up in the next week, and gave my tomatoes a pep talk that I hope will encourage production. The winter squash and melon vines needed a little guidance--they will soon, by design, take over all parts of the garden no longer producing other food--and I'm hopeful their many blossoms will result in plentiful harvest. Before calling the quits, we tidied the back deck and front porch.

All the while, the dogs sniffed the mulch and romped around the lawn and bumped into us and peed on anything we moved and played Grizzly Bears with each other and rolled in the grass and jumped over obstacles and and and...

And now I have the sore hands and tired muscles that come from good and hard work, Dev is curled up with his laptop, and the dogs are passed out on the floor. Part of me wants to sit here and relax all night. The rest of me wants to go out for a drink. :)
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
This should have gone up last night. Alas, I got carried away with gardening and yardwork yesterday and thus spent the evening trying to ignore the spasms in my back.

Vegetable gardening is not my dream job, even though I do enjoy it and its results.

I cannot choose a single “job.” I’ve never been the single-career track type. I enjoy and take satisfaction in many things. I don’t have a single favorite, but two.

Writing would, of course, be a significant part of the mix. I love storytelling. Were I able to devote more time to those endeavors, I’d love to experiment with scripts as well as novels and short stories. As the coming year unfolds, time for writing will become easier to come by mostly because I’ll no longer be driving my son all over the place day after day.

Teaching must be part of it as well. Whether it’s at the dojo or at a conference, I love sharing information, watching the student’s process of understanding, and hearing of successes that come when the new knowledge is put to work. Teaching changes people. That’s a remarkable evolution to watch and be party to.

My goal over the next three years is to establish a working base that combines the two. I think I can make it happen.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Just a general round-up:

1.  Dev and I are both so very relieved and happy to "take back" our homeschooling plans.  Schooling through Indiana University seemed like a good idea, and probably would have been great about five years ago.  Alas, their class work and degree requirements shifted toward "Common Core" at the same time the university cut its staff.  We were left with extremely limited class options (no more ability to take dual credit courses, no more flexibility for degree completion, a mere handful of electives) while paying way too much for what had become, essentially, lessons I had to mostly teach anyway.  Besides, most of the classes were simply classroom-based methods jammed onto the internet.  Online classes must be structured differently to be effective!

After a great deal of research--and confiming of said research with outside sources--I decided to quit fretting over "accredidation" and focus on, y'know, the learning.  An increasing number of colleges and universities are standardizing the process of evaluating homeschooled students for admissions, and we have guidelines now on how to prepare and present a homeschool transcript and portfolio.  We already have our reading lists, textbooks on every subject but biology and chemistry, an excellent math tutor who can't wait to see how far Dev can go, free courses available online through awesome colleges and universities, and a variety of community professionals who have agreed to show Dev different parts of their career and business.  And in August, we begin the homeschool version of Rosetta Stone's Italian.

2. Dev is heading to aviation ground school for high schoolers this summer.  My father has taught at this program for years, and Dev would have attended last were it not for a conflict with karate camp.  (Last year was his tenth year ata karate camp, and he wasn't about to miss that!).  Dev is thrilled, and so am I.  For five whole days, I will have nothing to worry about except my own appointments and classes.  Woohoo!

3.  I'm still coming around, mentally, from the loss of Patricia.  Just a few months ago, when it seemed the cancer had been fought back yet again, she and I were discussing moving in together again in about a year and a half.  I suppose both of us should have known better than to hope for such time, but neither one of mentioned a second thought.  Maybe we both simply needed to believe it.

4.  Related to all of the above, everything related to writing is taking far longer than it should.  It isn't a matter of inspiration or willingness.  It is time.  Effing time.  One of the things I'm doing to address that is cutting my garden size in half.  This is not the year I can spend oodles of time out there during the growing season, or many hours processing the bounty of a large garden at harvest time.

5.  Should the universie be willing and Dev be on his game, he will have his driver's license sometime in the next thirty days.  We'll do the road test likely in the last week of May, and the written test the second week of June.  Dev wants more car than he can afford right now, so we'll likely share a vehicle for awhile.  This won't be an issue over the summer--when he plans to stack up a bunch of hours--though I can't see us going much beyond November without a second vehicle.

6. And the dojo? Still humming along. I'm averaging between five and six new students a month, though that will likely drop to one or two over summer months. We're now gearing up for summer camp, less than two months away. Part of me does wish I could attend as a mere student again. Since I'm running the dojo, running Dev's schooling, running my own publishing, and running my new (in development) wellness project, I'm getting tired of being in charge of something all the time!
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Last year's garden produced some yummy stuff, but the early heat killed off my cold-weather veggies.  Then the mid-July "help" from my neighbor--bless his heart--resulted in most of the remaining stuff rotting out in the middle of drought.

This year I've decided to do away completely with neat rows and divided patches.  I'm going to try for a "wild" garden that's low-maintenance, seemingly overgrown, and sustainable.

The theory behind it is based less on successful gardening methods and more on natural growing conditions.  Nature doesn't like bare soil.  What we call weeds are nature's easiest means of soil enrichment and erosion control.  (Thistles are a great example.)  If the soil is good, and things are growing well in it, weeds aren't needed.

By mixing crops and staggering planting times, using a combination of seeds and seedlings, little bare soil should be exposed to sunlight for long.  Once an early crop like cabbage is harvested, a later crop like melons should already be encroaching on that space.  Broccoli should give way to okra, and lettuce to tomatoes.  Near the end of summer, the opposite should occur--peppers dying back for spinach, summer squash making way for winter squash.  Radishes, small onions, carrots and new seedlings will fill in the blanks as they open.

Throughout the growing season, some plants are allowed to go to seed.  Not only does this encourage pollinating insects to frequent the garden, it permits the soil to choose what it can best sustain.

Though it'll look messy and wild, the idea is to produce usable food with minimal work and intervention.  it's about creating a sustainable ecosystem that needs little human intervention to regulate itself.

That's the theory.  We shall see how it works.

Miscellany

Jul. 31st, 2012 01:35 pm
blairmacg: (Default)
I have never so looked forward to the end of summer.  We usually get about an inch of rain per week.  We've had less than an inch, total, since June 15.  We're supposed to have seven or eight days above 90.  We've had five or six days below 90 since June 15. 

It's the heat that's doing in my garden.  Watering produces an overwhelming amount of grass and weeds, while the vegetables drop off before ripening, or never really develop at all.  And my yard?  The grass as moved from the light brown of straw to the dark brown and black of scorched earth.  Most trees are dropping their leaves.  Many bushes look dead.

Dev and I decided to postpone our England-Scotland trip until the spring, when his godmother can go with us.  Because we did so much traveling in the first half of the year, we're not anxious to fill that October slot with much of anything.  We may take a weekend in Chicago or--at most--a trip to someplace like Niagara Falls.  (That would be in addition to my likely solo trip to Charleston to see That Man. :)

I can see half the top of my dining table.  This is progress.  I've managed to limp along this year with almost no business organization--the lack resulting from the fact I haven't a designated office and/or desk space.  Next week is to remedy that.  I still don't have an office space, but do have a Cunning Plan to bypass the lack.  Really, the only reasons I need that sort of work space is to a) process bills, paperwork, and contracts once a week, and b) store all relevant paperwork.  I don't need an office, or even a desk, for that.  But I do need to employ organizational skills and discipline.  Damn it.

I've been having the usual drop-your-shoulders drills and talks with my first-year adult karate students.  All the adults understand they shouldn't tense their shoulders, but it takes awhile for shoulder-relaxation to become more natural than tension.  When they run kata, I go around and tap tense shoulders (touch bypasses language processing, so it speeds learning), and in self-defense, I demonstrate how their tension makes them weaker rather than stronger.  Last night was a combination of frustration and amusement on the issue.  And I know that once they get the shoulder tension under control, we'll have the same learning process with hips and lower back.  Kids don't usually have those issues.  (They instead tend to throw their energy forward and/or down.)

Best news: For the first time ever, Dev has expressed excitement about college.  We spent yesterday morning talking through his plan for finishing high school a year early, then looking at the website for Vincennes University--the campus he was on for law enforcement camp.  He had me request an information packet, and even sent texts to his friends about choosing his goal.  I can't explain just how huge a step this is.  Now the key is to quietly and not-to-enthusiastically support him in that direction.  Too much excitement on my part is the fastest, surest way to make him run the other direction.

blairmacg: (Default)

Everyone knows homegrown tomatoes taste better than store-bought ones.  That's a situation caused accidentally-on-purpose by commercial seed suppliers.  Breeding for the traits that make tomatoes easy to mass produce and transport--uniform ripening, consistent coloring, rigid flesh--resulted in breeding out traits that make tomatoes desirable--rich taste, high nutritional value, and non-grainy texture. 

The same thing has happened with apples, avocados, cauliflower, peaches, melons, and you-name-it.  The majority of the world's food supply has been bred for easy harvest, packaging, shipping, storage, and display.  Taste, texture, and nutritional value fall below all those other priorities.  It's no wonder so many folks consider eating fruits and vegetables an unpleasant chore.  And it's no wonder the majority of folks wander about with symptoms of subclinical deficiencies that medications don't seem to address.

Forex, vitamin C levels are known to be lower in foods that are processed, and in fruits that are picked before ripeness (as most fruits are).  Subclinical vitamin C deficiency results in higher levels of cortisol during times of stress, poor cell membrane structure, poor adrenaline production.  Those things lead to fat gain, fatigue, lowered immunity, damaged skin, weak capillaries, poor wound healing, and so forth.

And then there is the research showing organic tomatoes have higher levels of antioxidants than industrially grown tomatoes.  Why?  Because organic growing doesn't use nitrogenous fertilizers, and thus the plants are under increased stress.  The stress of pest and pathogens adds to antioxidant production.  The plant grows stronger under natural amounts of stress, and that strength is channeled into regenerating itself via its fruits.

I know organic costs more.  Organic farming is far more labor intensive, and still lacks widespread infrastructure support.  And the costs of organic fruits and vegetables--and, to a lesser extent, industrially grown ones as well--more accurately reflect the true cost of food because they receive little if any government subsidies.  Grains aren't cheap because they're inherently cheap; those crops are heavily subsidized by the USDA.  (Oddly enough, it's the USDA that says we should eat lots and lots of grains.)

When finances are an issue, choose those organics that will bring you the most taste enjoyment.  Smaller portions of richer tastes are more satisfying in terms of taste and nutrition.  It also helps to eat seasonally, because prices are lower when there is a surplus.  Canning is great, but if you don't have the time or equipment, blanching and freezing are a great alternative.

This post brought to you by a gardener who keeps staring at her green tomatoes and willing them to ripen. Links are via ScienceDaily since all source materials are behind subscription walls.

blairmacg: (Default)
It's fairly rare for Indiana to be warned of fire dangers.  Usually it's just too danged wet in the summer.  Wet enough that folks leave piles of brush burning in their back fields and never worry about it.  But this year, drought has turned lawns into straw and acres of corn into fields of yucca-impersonating spikes.

Today it's 106, with dry and gusty winds.

Today the weather service issued this:
A COMBINATION OF STRONG WINDS...LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY...AND WARM TEMPERATURES WILL CREATE EXPLOSIVE FIRE GROWTH POTENTIAL.

Some of you know I get a little tense this time of year because, when I was a kid, fireworks set fire to my home.  It was the days before smoke alarms were standard household items.  We were awakened sometime after midnight by people banging on the bedroom rooms and screaming at us to get out.  I stood in the front yard and watched my dad, dragging a garden hose, try to climb onto the burning roof.  We lost the garage and everything stored in it, but the firewall kept the house from being consumed.

It isn't uncommon for me to walk outside, over and over, on the night of the Fourth, to check the roof for smoke.

Later in life, I watched wildfires march over the mountains toward the city I was living in.  Thankfully, then didn't get closer than about six, seven miles.  But later that year, I spent a day on that burned mountain helping a friend salvage bits and pieces from the ruins of homes consumed in another fire.  Just a couple years ago, on the farm, I had to help fight a small brush fire when winds shifted toward nearby homes.  The soles of my shoes melted that day.

So the whole "EXPLOSIVE FIRE POTENTIAL" thing unnerves me greatly.  Watching video from Colorado Springs is heartbreaking.

When dusk comes, I'll begin watering a ring of grass around my house.  My defensible perimeter.  All I can think of is how quickly fire can move, and how all it would take is some idiot tossing a lit cigarette out the car window.

And my garden looks as if everything decided to lean over and take a nap.
blairmacg: (Default)
Well, after really-o truly-o believing I'd jump into SAND this week, that book on stress and nutrition decided it needed work.  I didn't think I wanted to work on non-fiction right now.  I want to play with stories!  But stress wants some work, so work it shall get.  Grump.

The garden is managing to look like a garden still, despite the lack of rain.  I refuse to clean it up by tilling under the grass and clover that is growing between rows.  I think that's the only stuff holding moisture in soil.  So I dusted everything with diatomaceous earth and let it be.  I also surrounded the house with the stuff to keep the bugs out.  Best non-toxic solution ever!

My mother and I went to Nashville (IN, not TN) weekend before last, and it so solidified how much I miss the non-rural parts of life.  Nashville, and nearby Bloomington, offer a neat mix of country and city.  I miss easy access to music, theater, and restaurants that are a few steps above what passes for fine dining in my current little town.  On the other hand, I can't imagine living in the middle of a city again.  I mean, my current neighborhood is twelve homes, each with a half to full acre, in the middle of agricultural fields, and sometimes I think the neighbors are too close!  On the third hand, I'm tired of driving forever just to see a show, or find a store more diverse than WalMart.  And on the fourth hand, I don't want a day in the country to involve a two-hour drive.

The fifth hand says I'm likely looking for a place that doesn't exist, and should quit bitching. :-)

On the karate front, I just learned I can help my instructor teach his classes as karate camp...and we're doing stick and sword!!  I said my yes-sir with restrianed enthusiasm, then squealed when I got in the car.  Four days of stick and sword!  Woohoo!!
blairmacg: (Default)
Our county "fun match" dog show is tomorrow.  It's a practice show, open to all counties, so the kids and dogs have an opportunity to compete against and learn from others.  We even have two judges who will be judging at the state level.  The downside to that is the show tends to be a very busy one, and busy shows mean very long days.

Ty the Wonderdog has been brushed and brushed and brushed.  After today's vet check, which will excite him into throwing more hair, he will need to be brushed and brushed again.  Honestly, I don't know how that dog has any hair left, considering what's already been bushed out.  He has to do a different level of obedience this year, so we're not certain how well he will do there, and agility is getting tough for him.  He certainly looks pretty in the showmanship ring, though, and his tail wags almost the entire time.

Gambit does well at practice, but we've no clue how he will react to all the bustle and noise of the show.  Sometimes there is enough noise going on that commands to the dog must be said loudly.  Loud commands make Gambit nervous, and when he is nervous, all he wants to do is curl up against Dev's leg.  The pup wants so badly to do it right, but until he grows accustomed to the shows, we don't expect him to shine in obedience.  Dev decided not to even try showmanship with Bit; past injuries make it difficult for Bit to keep an even gait or stand in place for a long time.  But agility?  That little dog rocks.  Ears up, tongue lolling, leaping twice as high as he needs to...  What he lacks in experience this year will be smoothed out by next year, and Gambit will be an awesome agility dog.

After the dog show, the garden needs some attention.  Little clusters of green tomatoes are beginning to appear, and have fingerling squash rapidly nearing picking size.  Watermelon and canteloupe vines are spreading.  A third of my okra died for no reason I can discern, but the remaining plants are growing well.  Peppers all have little flowers, bush and kidney beans are growing, and the basil looks nice (if still small).  I'm hoping the next couple days of hot weather won't cause the lettuce to bolt.  Cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbages look well.

Another row of radishes-atop-carrots go in this weekend, along with another row of beans and six more winter squash vines.  If I can find some okra seedlings, I might toss those in as well.  Then I won't be putting in new stuff again until late July/early August.  I am so looking forward to eating food I've grown again.
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Did I mention how my sweet and much-beloved pair of pups destroyed most of my seedlings?

Gambit is a thief who stashes his treasures under the living room table.  These days, he mostly confines his thieving and stashing to dog toys, stray papers, and the occasional pilfered article of clothing.  I never expected him to steal seedlings off the patio table and stash them under a bush.  I didn't expect Ty to join in the fun for tearing the seedling flats apart in tug of war.

I swear, it was as if the pair went on a bender in Vegas.  And they looked just as guilty when I walked out there to gawk at the aftermath.

I was left with a few tomatoes (mostly the Roma), some peppers, cauliflower, summer squash, and a few watermelon.  So I went searching--begging and buying--for more seedlings.  Usually, there are plenty to be had mid-May, but because our last frost came a month earlier than usual, seedlings are sparse.  My neighbor has said he's picking up surplus seedlings from a family member this weekend, but we're not certain what they'll be.  Tomatoes, okra and kale had been mentioned, but quantity and other possibilities are a mystery.

In the meantime, I've planted all that I have, and put up a new flat of seedlings for later planting.  I'll direct-seed carrots, radishes and bush beans this evening.  And my seedling hunt also resulted in finding stevia to go in my front garden area.

I dislike the appearance of gardens at this stage.  Too much bare dirt.  It will look lush and wild in a few weeks, but right now, it looks like...a lot of bare dirt dotted with green.  Even worse, because the soil isn't the greatest quality.  Worse still, knowing how many seedling ought to be there!

blairmacg: (Default)

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned I could feel the story immersion coming.  Today, over at queen, I commented that I was very close to that point.  The only thing standing between me and the final Chant revisions is the garden. 

One cannot tell the seasons to stop turning so I can plant my veggies in July instead of this week.

So I have this constant hum running in the back of my mind--not only Chant, but a little of everything, roiling around just below the surface.  When at Viable Paradise, I finished a completely new short story for the first time in years.  With Chant revisions, I delved into focused revisions for the first time in ages.  Now, the dam is set to burst.  Every incomplete project I've neglected is banging on the secret doors of my imagination and demanding to be set free.

I know it's bad when every subject that crosses my mind, any topic I discuss with any person, ends up with me voicing the phrase, "It's kind of like that part of the writing process when..."  However, I am giving nearly equal time to, "It's a bit like karate because..."

And I recognize, too, that I'm more than willing to welcome that obsessive state of mind in order to avoid thinking overly much about what was happening this time last year.  Dev and I are talking about it, we're keeping the communication open, but I'm filling my spare moments with all sorts of stuff to keep my mind from wandering into places I don't want poked.

So I'm going to ride with it, and take the opportunity to re-up on my paying-the-dues part of being a writer.  But I am planning to replace "butt in the chair" with "body in the hammock."  As soon as I finish planting the garden.  And the new trees.  And organizing for the garage sale.

Okay, maybe I'll let the garage sale slide.

blairmacg: (Default)
Five years have passed since I've turned a patch of lawn into a workable garden without the aid of a lawn tractor.  Now I remember why.

I do have a spectacular front-tine tiller.  I just didn't recall how much extra work it is to break up established sod.  Eight hundred square feet of established sod.

Had I been on the farm, or had the garden space already been established, I would have had some seedlings in the ground almost two months ago.  Alas, getting access to the right equipment at a time I could use it--between every other friggin other thing--proved impossible.  But two days ago, I acquired a tiller and set to work.

Shallow till, just enough to chew up the sod.  Rake out the clumps.  Another shallow till.  Rake out the clumps.  Till a little deeper, north to south, then east to west.  Till a little deeper, diagonals.  Dump in peat, compost, and a little sand.  Rake it around.  Till, and till again.

I've only reached the second "rake out the clumps."  The tiller, heavy as it is, bucks and pulls because the earth is uneven and hasn't been worked.  Yesterday I felt as if I'd trained karate for six hours.  Unfortunately, I then had to go teach karate.

But I wouldn't be doing it at all if I didn't get great satisfaction from growing my own food--from knowing it hasn't been bathed in chemicals, that it's been allowed to ripen naturally and fully, and that I can go out my back door to choose my produce.  So today I'll be bonding with my dear tiller again, with the goal of plunking seedlings in the ground this weekend.

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Today was spent running around like crazy to get everything ready and packed for Thursday's trip (most stuff must be tied up today because tomorrow is jammed with usual Wednesday run-arounds) and I discovered I was out of quart-size baggies.  I could either perform Yet One More Errand, or just do without shampoo and toothpaste.  Yeah, I made the stop tonight on the way home from karate.

In between all the craziness, I'm working on the martial arts book that wanted to be written more than anything else on my project list.  It's been fun to browse through other MA books--the memoirs, the how-to manuals, the histories.  Sometimes an individual's bias is right out in front.  Sometimes it's found between the lines or in the omissions.  Sometimes the bias says a great deal about the depth of the person's training, the philosophy of the dojo in which she/he trained, and the knowledge shared by the instructors.  And sometimes the bias is one I once held myself, or one I find I still hold tightly.

Bias is to be expected.  Beginners are passionate about their chosen style because it's all they know.  Experienced practitioners are biased because they've sunk a great deal of time and energy (and, most likely, money) into thier pursuit.  The difference is that the experienced ones understand they have a bias because the art they practice is the best one for them--not the best for everyone.

My biggest, baddest, loudest bias isn't focused on particular styles, exactly.  It's against certain marketing methods, the piss-poor instructors those methods support, and the abject mess of "training" that gets foisted upon unsuspecting students who think their belt promotions are based on attained skills rather than payments received.  (If you ever want a peek at the differences between dojo standards, check out YouTube's collection of belt promotion videos.)

Six thousand words in, and I'm having a blast with the writing.  It's giving me the opportunity to think about my art from a different perspective, and consider not only why I do what I do, but why I believe what I believe.  I'm currently writing a section on martial arts "myths" that I find particularly annoying.  The first is "Martial Arts training will give you/your child self-discipline."

And now, off to bed with my Kindle.  (I'm thinking I should name my Kindle, considering how much time we spend together in my bedroom.)

P.S. I just received Wild Food Plants of Indiana today, and quite nearly stopped to harvest cattails on the way home.  I was thrilled to find a recipe in the book for the fiddleheads of Matteuccia pennsylvanica, the giant fern [livejournal.com profile] thanate  mentioned the other day.  The week I return, I must find these ferns and plant them!!

Miscellany

Apr. 1st, 2012 01:14 pm
blairmacg: (Default)

1.  I have 100 itsy bitsy seedlings on my dining room table, and another 100 to set today.  With all the warm weather, it's hard to remember the usual planting date for summer crops is still six weeks away.  By then, though, I should have hardy starters to set in the ground.

2.  After the last post, I had a friend ask if my feelings toward self-publishing had changed.  Nope.  Self-publishing has become an awesome option--one I plan to utilize for a mix of projects.  If they don't succeed...oh, well.  They likely wouldn't have succeeded in traditional publishing, either, and it's not as if trying a couple projects will "use up" all my ideas.  It isn't for everyone, and the burden of responsibility is greater when one self-publishes, but there are obviously opportunities there that didn't exist a couple years ago.

No, the last post was merely intended to point out the industry as a whole isn't dying.  It is changing and evolving and, just like smart folks who want to succeed in any field, it behooves us to understand the industry on our own rather than rely upon one-sided interpretations of others.  I read stuff I agree with.  I read stuff I think is bullshit.  I read stuff that's written with tact and stuff that's written with snark.  I read it all because confirmation bias is a very real phenomenon.  It's good to see what facts and angles both sides think worthy of mention.  Doveryai, no proveryai.

3.  A big hang-up on the forward motion with the wellness books was managing citations and such.  Stupid me, I was working from the pattern of paper books.  Academic paper books at that.  After downloading a reviewing the formatting of ebooks on similar topics, I quit worrying.  Pages should proceed with much greater speed now.

4.  In my little dojo, where I now have an almost even number of male and female students, the social limitations and expectations of gender are fading away.  It's pretty danged awesome, and fascinating to realize what subtle and common phrases/actions/beliefs are no longer spoken/practiced.  More on that as I figure it out.

5.  And to all writers--for the love of Pete, there ought to be more in a fantasy character's medicine bag than white willow bark.  Really.  When I see a character use white willow bark in combination with some other made-up assortment of natural remedies, I know the writer either didn't want to bother with looking up specifics, or doesn't know enough to understand there are other specifics.

So I'm putting this out there to y'all: if you need information on herbal medicine and/or healing foods for your characters, ask me.  This gives you the added advantage of discovering which traditional remedies have proven value and which ones don't, knowing what the herb will taste like, what its side effects may be, and what it actually does. 

No, it's not the same as asking a doctor.  Doctors aren't given coursework in the use of supplements and herbs.  Even the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is woefully incomplete at its most basic levels.  I teach classes--sometimes to medical professionals--on this stuff.

(True, most of your readers won't care.  But most readers don't care about whether you get horses, guns, and fight scenes right, either, and I've yet to hear anyone advise a writer to just not worry about it.)

6.  I really wanted to go hiking today.  But it's raining sporadically, and we'd have to drive an awfully long way to find a non-muddy place for us and the dogs.  Maybe it'll just be a Sunday drive kind of day, which would give Dev a couple solid hours behind the wheel.

7.  For the record, nothing here is related to 04/01.  Just sayin'.

blairmacg: (Default)







I spent three years living on a 130+ acre farm. About 80 of those acres were farmed organically--alfalfa, sorghum, and vegetables. The rest of the land was wooded hills, ravines, and river frontage. I've been missing the farm lately, though lovely mornings like this chase the longing away. My current home isn't as middle-of-nowhere as the farm, but it's far enough from town to be peaceful.

It feels and looks more like April than February. The spring-like weather has me antsy to start the garden. The good news is I've an open invitation to harvest as much from the farm as I'd like over the growing season. On the other hand...I still want my own big garden.

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