Thursday, 30 June 2016

Sent off another submission to the publisher

This one is a romance/drama set in Port Dover, Ontario and a couple of the characters from Desperate Measures make an appearance. I won't know the answer from my editor until late August, so fingers crossed, and I'll have to keep myself busy with other things to distract myself in the mean time.

High School Graduation!

Spent a very pleasant evening cheering for my son and his classmates. It's fun when they announce the graduate's plans for next year -- everything ranging from architect to plumber -- and to imagine these kids, many of whom we've known for years, going out into the world.

The principal, in her speech, quoted from a 12th-century writer who said that if you try to change the world, you will eventually realize you can't; you can only change yourself. But by changing yourself, you can change the world.

The world needs a lot of changing right now. This graduating class is going to face challenges we can't even imagine. They will need ingenuity, creativity, courage, and determination. From what I saw last night, I think they have a fighting chance.

Here he is, dressed in his best.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Just shoot me now

Went to the staff lunch room to eat my spaghetti squash and read my book in peace. There were three coworkers at the adjoining table, and for half an hour the only thing they talked about was whether one of them should cut her hair or not. Pros and cons. Best styles. Whether guys like short or long hair better (though her colleagues hastened to assure her she should do it for her not for him).

Half an hour of this droning voice repeating itself. "I don't know if I should cut it short. Maybe I shouldn't cut it short." Aaugh! I admit it was the closest I've ever come to turning to a complete stranger and saying, "Just shave your head and shut up!" But I managed to control myself. I cut my lunch short and went silently back to my desk, while the debate rages on in the staff room.

Honestly, honey, the world is in turmoil, the ice caps are melting, refugees are risking drowning to reach Europe, society is rapidly devolving into tribes...and that's the best conversational topic you could come up with?

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Sunrise in the Garden

I always feel sorry for the people who never get up early enough to watch the sun come up. It's the same feeling I have for children who never get to taste a home-baked cookie or the people who have access only to frozen or canned peas.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Update on the Hydroponics Experiment

Well, the tomatoes and cucumbers we had growing in the hydroponic tanks showed spectacular growth, and they got quite a bit of small fruit on them, but the fruit never really developed. The tomatoes stayed hard little green pearls, and the cucumbers never got to more than a few centimetres and stayed white. We decided the issue was not enough light.

My husband rigged up several more grow lights, aiming at the plants from all directions. We waited a few more days. No change.

And then we decided that a huge electric bill was not justified for a handful of tiny tomatoes.

So down it all came, everything was turned off and disassembled, and we're back to rethinking all this. We haven't given up yet but we need to find a way to go about it differently. At least we know that pollination occurred, so there's potential. And it was great fun watching the twelve-foot tomatoes grow and grow into a pungent jungle.

Light has returned to the dining room (the tomatoes were blocking the window before). The house seems very quiet now, without the frequent gush of water.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Man of the Year

So while I was over weeding and watering someone else's garden, my wonderful husband was home trimming my hedge and propane-torching my weeds. What a guy!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Carrying Water

Like an idiot, I figured I didn't have enough to keep me busy and volunteered to oversee the local Salvation Army's garden where they grow fresh vegetables for their food bank. Their past volunteers had faded out and the big plot was going to weeds. It seemed a shame to see this garden die off, and the cause was a good one. So I bit off more than I could chew.

My son's girlfriend valiantly helped me weed it, and another girl and I planted a bunch of seedlings. But to water this space, we have to stretch about five long hoses from the church, across the parking lot, and out to the garden. And then wind it all up again. It's a heavy task I find daunting. Tonight I didn't have the energy, and found it easier to just carry a watering can back and forth to the spigot.

After about seven or eight trips, my back started to complain and so did I. And then of course the thought followed: "There are women in Africa who have to carry gallons of water a mile or more for their families every day. Surely I can cross a parking lot." And after that it wasn't so onerous.

It is a gratifying thing to give a thirsty plant water. You can feel its gratitude. It brings a deeper appreciation for John chp 4, where it speaks of "Living Water." Water is indeed life.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Turning in the next manuscript

It's that time again, when the final combing of the next manuscript happens - removing fat, adding meat, reworking phrases, and generally spit polishing its face and straightening its tie before it goes back to the publisher. But this morning the rewrites are done, I don't think there's anything more to do on this book, and I still have half a day to play! I'm off to the kitchen to make coconut-oatmeal-walnut-raisin cookies.

Watch for The Governess coming out this fall!

And then I need to turn my attention to the next one, which will be a drama, tentatively called Sing Your Way Home, in which certain of my characters make a reappearance. They played nicely the first time around, so I thought I'd let them tag along for the next one too.

The lavender is blooming

A few years ago I started about ten lavender plants from seed. This year they are thick and starting to flower. I use the fresh or dried flowers in sugar cookies, which is a Victorian thing I love but not everyone appreciates. I like to stand in my garden just inhaling the scent. If you half close your eyes, you can pretend you're in Provence.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Weaving: a new adventure

I am the honoured but slightly alarmed recipient of a loom. A friend has given me his late wife's beautiful loom, built after the Finnish style, and it is currently being erected like a small edifice in my newly-spare room. It is like watching a house being built, it is so intricate and clever in the way it fits together. However, I am aware that, once put together, it isn't going anywhere, so I have to learn to weave to justify the effort...and the space it's taking up.

I look at all the dangling gizmos and can't quite figure out the mechanics of it. I will have to look up the local guild and find a teacher. And it's missing a couple of bits and bobs which I hope to find at the flea market or online.

A challenge. Something new to learn, which I love. A harking back to my weaver ancestor in Scotland (though he likely worked in a factory, not his bedroom). Something to use larger motor skills, since I'm slowly losing the finer ones. Something to help fend off dark days in winter, when gardening isn't available to combat the depression. If nothing else, a stride toward self-reliance and a bit of eccentricity...and I'm sure it will crop up in my writing at some future point.

A wonderful gift.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

The squirrels and rabbits have gone nuts

Or rather, they've gone beans. They've beheaded almost all of my adzuki beans, which had been growing so nicely. And some of the cucumbers and melons and one tomato plant, nipped right in half. I'm sure that's the rabbits. The squirrels tend to limit themselves to digging out the sides of the squash hills and uprooting seedlings. The twelve asparagus starts which were about two feet long and going great have completely disappeared -- not a trace of them. Eaten before they even had a chance to root well. Six months of work and hope down the drain.

There are days when I envision digging a two-foot deep trench around my garden, pouring in concrete, and then erecting a screened-in seven-foot-tall cage over the entire thing, so light and rain and bees can get in but nothing else can. A two-thousand dollar solution to save my $60 worth of plants. Sigh.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

I'm at the Georgetown Highland Games

Forgot the sunscreen. Am red as a boiled lobster. But a beautiful blue sky, beautiful piping, and a wonderful day.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

I'm at the Rotman

Away at a conference for administrative professionals this week at the Rotman School of Management, so no chance for a long blog, but I'll be back in a few days. Enjoying schmoozing with some really interesting and vibrant women and attending useful presentations (which is refreshing, because not all training for admins is overly helpful). And St. George Street is full of lovely old buildings, converted houses, and beautiful gardens. So it's a great week.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Urban Farming on a Small Scale

An update on the progress of my garden. The blueberries are forming, the rhubarb is going strong, the asparagus overwhelms us with handfuls every day, and even the broccoli is coming along...

The beans are thriving and the squash are right behind them...

The peas are starting to climb and the lettuce is ready to eat...

And this year I seem to be more into flowers than usual. The bees seem happy about it.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Living with Brio

The instant I walk in the door from work, the dogs are bounding around demanding to go for a walk. Brio spins in circles like a dervish. Maple bounces up repeatedly to hit me in the back of the knees. Out out out! As if they've been incarcerated in a deep well for decades and only my presence allows them to breathe. Even when I know full well they spent most of the day out in the sunshine with my husband in the backyard.

If I am slow to respond...put my backpack down, get a drink, go change clothes, or - heaven's forbid - announce there's no walk today because I'm not up to it or there's a typhoon blowing or it's -45 outside, the dogs get increasingly hyper and frustrated and start fizzing and yipping as if there are mouse traps on their tails. Eventually Maple will get the message and subside. But Brio just grows more and more frantic.

The more he misbehaves, the more impatient I become, until I find myself snapping at him, shouting "Go lie down!" and stamping my foot to get him to back off. And of course, the more he sees I'm becoming upset, the more he tries to get close to me, because this is his way. If I'm ever sad or sick, he plasters himself to my side as if his warm, furry presence can banish all sorrows and ills. Which it usually can...unless he's the ill. The more angry I get, the more obnoxious he gets, until finally I either push him into the backyard or grab the leash in frustration and we head out into the typhoon.

Where he proceeds to dance along the sidewalk with his ears blowing back and a wild grin on his face, as if saying, "See? I told you you'd feel better! All you needed was a walk!"

The disgruntling thing is, he's usually right.