Swallowed up by Summer!

Awesome red poppy that I’m naming ‘Fireworks’. Because I can.

 

I looked up and discovered it’s heading towards mid-July. Mid-July! Yikes. Somewhere I lost June.

I’ve been writing and cleaning up and publishing things, tending websites, watering the garden, gaping at poppies. Went to the beach one day (and I think I’m still sun burned), fought the slugs for lettuce, have pretended to clean the house every so often, herded the child to doctor and dentist checkups, herded the child to do some work around the house and pried her away from screens to read. I went to a reading by an awesome writer – Ian McDonald, met friends for dinner, hung out with relatives at a BBQ, bought a few plants. Okay more than a few. So far it’s been a busy, busy summer.

And I’m Wa-a-a-ay behind. I’ve got 11 stories and 1 novel in various stages of doneness. Some are floating around trying to find homes at magazines. Others are with my first readers. Still others are waiting till my first readers have a slot open. Others have come back and need to be cleaned up and sent out to magazines or published. And at least one, the novel, is still being cleaned up to go to my readers. And some are still being written. I feel like I’m in the middle of a carnival. Which story am I working on this hour?

And this was the time I was going to redo all my old covers.Yeah. I haven’t figured that out yet.

Pots patiently waiting for a patio.

Pots patiently waiting for a patio.

The spousal unit is busy sifting and shoveling sand for the patio, so he’s unable to keep up with the garden. The weeds are having a major party and the slugs aren’t far behind. I’m the major waterer since I work at home, and that season has begun. It takes a week to make a circuit around the entire garden and sometimes that’s fast enough. Not this July. Plants are wilting before their turn rolls around again, one of the drawbacks to having soil that’s sand and gravel. We add a lot of compost, but it’s never enough. So I’m watering both mornings and evenings this week. With the sprinkler, of course. I only water pots by hand, which takes a good couple of hours.

So once the patio’s done, snort, we move on to the child’s room. She’s going to middle school next year and has decided it’s makeover time. So we need to take all the furniture out of her room, cover the paneling and paint all the walls and ceiling. Then we’ll paint a mural on at least one wall, perhaps more. I’m tired just thinking about it. Then we get to move new/used furniture back in, furniture that’s more appropriate for a middle schooler. Whatever that is. I’ll figure that out next month.

But for now, it’s writing, writing and more writing. It’s halfway through the year and I’m still making my tiny goal of 5,000 new words a week. Only missed it twice since the beginning of the year. Yay! So, I’ve got lots of stories coming, they just need some tweaking and I’ll let them fly away. With writing so much new stuff, I’m still finding it hard to stay caught up on the publishing part of things.

Rosa ‘William Lobb’

But I keep trying.

I’m sucking up all the sunshine that I can, writing outside every day, saving it up for winter. I can already feel the days growing shorter. I’ve got to absorb a lot more sun before I’ll go quietly into the darkness of fall and winter!

Hope you’re having a lovely summer.

 


Alive Again!

IMG_2558Look what I opened my front door to this morning! What a gorgeous breadseed poppy.

For the past week and a half, I’ve been touring gardens. Friends’ gardens, Nurseries’ gardens and then over a long weekend, I went to the Hardy Plant Society Study Weekend. Four days of lectures, touring members’ gardens and of course, plant shopping.

So, I’ve spent that time immersed in glorious gardens of all sorts. There were formal, fussy gardens, architectural ones, Mediterranean looking gardens, cottage gardens, Northwest woodland gardens and everything in between. And even one that contained mainly species roses. I took over 600 photos! And climbed countless stairs and walked miles upon miles.

My brain is crammed full of information and overflowing with new ideas for our garden. After the patio from hell is finished, of course. Which might happen sometime during my lifetime. I think.

The conference finished Monday night. I spent yesterday dealing with piles. Piles of newspapers, piles of laundry, piles of dishes. We won’t even talk about email! I’m still playing catch up today, but there are flat surfaces to be seen! Progress.

And I’ve been writing, of course. I didn’t make my word count last week, although since that’s only the second time since January, I’m okay with that. This week I will. And perhaps even get some publishing stuff done too.

So today, it’s writing, lunch, and then I’m going to finally get the windows washed and screens up. Mosquitos are here. And then bake some lavender shortbread. I’m having a meeting here tomorrow and need to offer treats for people who are driving out this far.

This week Zoe has swimming lessons every day and parents can use the facilities for free all week. Yay! So this morning I swam while she had her lesson. Then after showering I sat in their lovely, dark sauna. Sigh. I love saunas and someday I may get one. Sitting in the silence, darkness and heat grounds me and fills me with ideas. I found a better ending for a story I thought I’d finished last week. Will need to change it. So swimming and sauna. I’m in heaven. I’d join the club, but I know that I wouldn’t keep going. Been there, done that. Having to drive an hour round trip to exercise is just an excuse to say ‘no’ waiting to happen. But I do miss the occasional swim and especially the sauna.

So, I’m off to get my day going. It’s glorious and sunny and I’m in my outdoor office being buzzed by dragonflies. Life just doesn’t get much better! Hope yours is going swimmingly.


New Story Up, oh, and Roses!

I finally, finally, finally got a new story up for sale. I’ve been writing like mad, but not getting things published. Although I do have several things out circulating among magazines, hoping to find a home.

The Emotions of the Non-Living:JPEG:850x1288

 

 

So here’s the Amazon link for The Emotions of the Non-Living although it’s available at B&N, Kobo, iTunes and Smashwords as well.

 

 

Can an android help us understand what makes us human? Lilith’s traumatic encounter with a mutant stowaway will scar her forever. Or is it a blessing in disguise?

 

 

Also, it’s June and our garden is awash with roses. I walk out either door in the morning and the scent is unbelievable. The roses perfume the entire garden. Last week it was especially wonderful with the combination of one of the huge climbing roses and honeysuckle. I love this time of year.

So, I took a bunch of photos, a few of which I’m putting up here. I can’t seem to get a good photo that shows the twenty-foot tall rambler that’s growing on a fir stump. But it’s stunning to see in person. So that’s what I’ve got for today. School ends in three and a half days and then chaos ensues. Well, actually it’s here already. The child is almost on her way to middle school!

Anyway, hope you’re having a lovely June!

Unknown species rose from Heronswood

Unknown species rose from Heronswood

Rosa 'Jude the Obscure'

Rosa ‘Jude the Obscure’

Rosa 'Gertrude Jekyll'

Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ & Rosa ‘Sharifa Asma’


Perfection!

IMG_1100

Outside the front door

I’ve been working hard lately, despite the fact nothing’s been visible here. I finished a draft of the novel. I started with a bright shiny idea and am struggling with the frustration that what ends up on the screen doesn’t match the vision in my head. It never does, but for some reason it’s really bothering me with this piece. I thought I’d gotten past being a perfectionist. Apparently not.

It works the same way out in the garden. In April everything looks glorious. Old friends are coming up. I’m planting new things. It looks to be a fabulous year. And then comes May. The weeds and grasses shoot up, smothering everything and I can’t keep up.

So, both in the garden and in my fiction. It’s time to pull some weeds. And plant new stuff to fill in the holes. The difference is that the fiction is just the piece of writing and myself. The garden is a collaboration with nature. And nature this year has brought a wealth of tent caterpillars, masses of slugs and snails and dubious weather, after a brutal winter. The predators have yet to deal with the tent caterpillars, but at least I’m not sustaining as much damage as I see driving around. They’ve defoliated entire trees out on the road! Yikes. I think we have more birds here who are working hard. I tossed a caterpillar into the pond to see if that was an option, but the koi had just eaten and weren’t paying attention.

So, I believe (fingers crossed) that I’ve wrestled my technology problems to the ground. I’ll be getting more stories up in the next few weeks. I’ve been so busy writing new stuff, that I just haven’t gotten around to the publishing part. This week I’ll be passing my word count for the entire year of 2013. And we’re not quite through the first half of the year. If I can keep things going, this will be a very productive year for my writing. I just need to carve out the time to make covers and format things and get them up for sale. After the weeding and planting thing!

Baby Spiders!

Baby Spiders!

It’s a crazy time of year. School’s ending in a couple of weeks, which involves a lot of extra social things. Especially since Zoe will be leaving elementary school and heading towards middle school. And there are plant sales, birthdays and in June I’m going to a Plant Study Weekend, which is actually 4 days and involves touring hundreds of gardens. Yippee! My phone’s battery will probably run out every day from taking so many photos! I toured a garden last week and took 175 photos. It was one amazing garden.

And the Clarion West Writeathon starts in a couple of weeks as well. I’m planning on participating, but still have to nail down my writing goals for the six weeks. What do I want to work on? A novel? Short fiction? Just haven’t been able to get clear on that yet. I’ve got two weeks to figure it out.

So, I’ll leave you with a photo of my garden walk partner for today, Tiger.

She was out romping in the wet, chasing me throughout the garden. The other cats were inside being lumps.

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It’s All Over!

You know it’s all over when I’ve broken into the Easter candy and my life is being held together by post it notes. Chaos has hit the house.

IMG_0713I’m in the middle of writing a novel and the house is a disaster area. I’m still clinging to my exercise program and a decent diet (well, except for peeps and chocolate), but I’ve lost the battle of the flat surfaces. Piles of paper and stuff abound. The couch has been swallowed by a massive mountain of clean laundry, my brain is half in this world, half in another and the garden is filled with pots full of, well, dead things. I’ve not even begun to have cleaned up from winter. I did get some salad greens and peas planted though.

The house may be a disaster, but you can eat off the sidewalk! I’ve spent hours & hours (on two very lovely sunny days) pressure washing the sidewalk. Part of which was so green with moss it was as dark a green as you can get without it being black. And thick. And slippery. I’m an excellent moss grower it turns out! The good news is that the sidewalk from out the front door towards the driveway is spotless. The bad news is that there’s another chunk of sidewalk out in the garden, at least that long, that needs to be cleaned. If we ever have sun again I plan on getting to it.

Okay, I don’t usually care about the disaster that is the house, especially if my writing is going well, which it is. But, next week the child turns 11. ELEVEN! That just blows my mind, middle school next year. And well, we need a clean house. So, you can figure out what we’re doing for the next week. Must also deal with the two boxes of art supplies that got dragged out last month for her science fair project. I meant to go through it and pull a few things out. I always have the best intentions! And it’s time for all the firewood stuff to go outside, because I don’t care how cold it gets, it’s spring damn it! Firewood is going out because I’m not building any more fires until fall!!!!! Because spring weather IS going to come!

I’ve just finished taking a 6 week workshop on designing book covers and now all my old covers are screaming to be redone. And I’m still wrestling with some formatting software that I haven’t figured out. The stories that need to be published have only stopped piling up because I’m working on a novel. Which will end someday. So, I need to get things figured out someday soon before the pile of stories begins to grow again!

So, I’m off to rein in some of the chaos. And maybe even crumple up some finished post it notes. And eat a few more peeps.

How’s your life going?

 

 


Diving in!

 

IMG_0664I’ve been absent here for a month and a half. Working hard, trying to get my priorities straight and keep my head above water. I spent the first month madly writing short stories and moaning about the rain and cold. Then for the last two weeks I’ve been diving into a novel, still moaning about the rain and cold. I’m done with winter, as are most of you, I’m sure. And I’m thoroughly enjoying the novel I’m working on.

In the middle of that time, the Oso Landslide happened. I didn’t know anyone missing or killed, but I have far too many friends who do. It’s not that far away from here. I spent two solid weeks watching the news online (part of moaning about the rain, hell for the folks trying to work up there) and then decided I just needed to switch it off. I get obsessed with news and there’s very little hopeful on it. I’m not sure I can say much of anything that’s positive about what happened, except that a lot of people are finding strength and connections that they never knew they had. People coming together is mostly a good thing.

It’s been the normal craziness around here with a few additions. With my new plan of upping my weekly word count of fiction, I’ve found myself lacking time to publish things. I’ve got nine stories to pull together and get published. Some are still with my first readers, some are waiting for me to copyedit. A couple are at magazines, hoping an editor will buy them. And some are just waiting for me to figure out the new software and get them published.

New software. Sigh. I’ll try to get another run at it this weekend. Maybe.

I’m also taking a workshop on making book covers and learning lots of new cool tricks. Which means it’s time for me to schedule in redoing all my old covers. And that will lead to redoing my websites. And since I have this new word count plan going on – there’s no downtime between finishing something – in which I can publish things. I just have to cram it in somewhere and keep on writing. I’m still trying to figure out how that will work. Along with my homework for the workshop.

And this is the year that the child graduates from Elementary School. And moves on to Middle School. Which has involved touring schools and long discussions about the future and finally, making choices. And there’s other discussions about whether she’s going to buckle down and actually learn math and science or be limiting her life choices to getting jobs that pay no money and won’t allow her to buy the enormous number of pets she’s planning on. Whew! And her birthday is this month. Which involves getting not only Easter basket gifts, but birthday gifts. And will involve partying two weekends in a row. And organizing all that. Still haven’t figured out the birthday party thing yet.

And it’s spring. Spring. Spring! Yay! Beautiful flowers are coming out everywhere, including the skunk cabbage above, one of my favs. Although the photo was taken a couple of miles down the road. For some reason, none of my skunk cabbage is going to bloom this year. I’ve been moving containers around and lugging big bags of potting soil. I got all my greens, some snow peas and herbs planted yesterday. I still have poppy seeds to toss around the garden. It’s too early to buy most of the pretty little things that will go into all those containers, but the time for that is coming. And there’s way too much other work to do out there. It looks as if the sun might make an appearance next week and I might even mow the foot tall lawn. The koi are moving around. Usually, we’ve begun feeding them by now, but this year it’s just been too cold. Maybe in another week or two if temps keep going upwards.

And that’s where I’m at. Trying to shake off winter and pick up speed for spring. I feel like I’m behind, but then so is spring.

So, maybe I’m just in time.


Death Revisited

LizzyOur oldest cat, Ms. Elizabeth Bennett, otherwise know as Lizzy, died yesterday morning. She was thirteen, apparently an average age, although we’ve had cats live to their twenties. She’s been frail and reclusive lately, and apparently, it was time for her to go. I’ll miss her. She always sat on a blanket near my feet, in front of the portable heater, or on a perch in the kitchen. In summer she’d go outside and sit with me while I wrote in the outdoor office.

This photo is from her younger days, when she wandered outside more.

Her death led me to thinking about all the cats I’ve shared my life with. There have been quite a few. We still have four at the moment.

 

So, I set out this morning, searching for photos of them all. I don’t have a photo of the first cat in my life – Boots. He was a gray tabby cat, unneutered, I remember. My parents gave him away when we moved. I think I was 5. We also had an English Setter at the time.

Smokey

We got another cat some time after that. I’m not sure when, another gray tabby. I remember I liked to chase Smokey, which I’m sure he didn’t appreciate, but no one ever told me I was being cruel and I was too young  to figure it out myself.

Still, he liked me enough to hang out with me sometimes and nourish my lifelong love affair with cats. One day he disappeared and we never knew what happened to him.

Toby & Fred

I grew up (okay, stop laughing) and moved out on my own, went to college, fell in love and began living with this guy, the one I’m still married to. We went to the animal shelter and got a couple of cats. Fred and Toby. Toby was the beautiful fluffy black cat. He only lived a year before succumbing to feline leukemia, way back in the days when it was first surfacing in Seattle. I hardly got to know him and he was gone. Fred, the black and white sweetie, lived to be twelve. He had the sweetest soul. He was the cat who would put himself in between two other cats and break up a fight. Handsome guy, I remember he loved to be held and he drooled a lot.

 

Anise

When Toby died, we went back to the animal shelter and got Fred a friend. She was a feisty princess, who we named Anise. She’s the one who lived longer than any of our cats, a ripe old twenty-two years. And just because she was a princess, didn’t mean she was a sissy either. She loved it when we moved up here to ‘the woods’ and she could explore.

 

 

ZuzuBefore we left Seattle, back in the days when Michael worked at Surrogate Hostess, a now defunct restaurant on Capital Hill, a mother cat with a 1-year-old kitten and brand new kittens showed up at the restaurant. None of them were skittish, just without a home. All but one of the new babies found homes and one of Michael’s coworkers wanted to take the mom and her 1-year-old home. Which would have left a kitten homeless. So, sucker that I was, I adopted Zuzu. And never regretted it. She was a very special cat and I miss her to this day. My first tortoiseshell, after which there have been four more. She was always around to comfort me. We finally had to put her to sleep when she was nineteen.

Lizzy - kitten_2

Lizzy was our next cat. A friend recommended a plant grower/nursery in Oso, now gone, where she’d got her cat. They always had lots of barn cats. We inquired and found Lizzy there. She was another princess cat and an intrepid explorer. We called her Lizzy, after that famous character, because she talked a lot and had many witty things to say.

 

 

Marco Polo

Marco Polo just showed up. He hung out in our neighbor’s yard for a few weeks, but they weren’t going to take care of him and so he hung around our house. A very sweet cat, Himalayan was my guess, with beautiful blue eyes. Problem was, he had seizures. We took him to a couple of vets, including a homeopathic one. He got a little better, but the seizures never quit. Eventually, when they got closer together and started coming twice a week, we had him put to sleep. He didn’t deserve to suffer like that.

 

Kubla Khan

I was working for three Naturopaths and a Chiropractor and met a patient who knew a cat that needed a home. The cat wasn’t hers and she was full up. I met him and decided to bring him home and see if he’d work out. He was affectionate and bossy – part Bengal I’d been told. He got along well with all our cats except Marco, whom he terrorized. Eventually, I found another home for him with a young couple.

 

Viola & OliviaLater on, I worked at a water garden nursery. They got a cat from one of their employees. She had kittens and there I was everyday, seeing those kittens. I took the last two home. Viola, a gray tabby and Olivia, a silver tabby. They were silly girls, but got along with our other three cats well. Olivia died on Christmas day. She’d wandered over to the neighbor’s and drank water that contained antifreeze. We took her to an emergency vet, but there was nothing that could be done. Viola was with us for several more years. She was tortured by another of our cats. She was really quite small and shy. I finally rehomed her, hopefully to a better place.

RosBrighid & Rosmerta were born in our neighbor’s yard. Their mom was a stray. One by one, I watched the kittens disappear (and not to homes, but to coyotes, dogs, eagles, cars?). There were only two left, when we adopted them, a good friend took their mom home.

They were crazy sisters and extremely affectionate.  Here’s a photo of Ros in a bag, she and her sister loved to climb into plastic bags and play. The top wasn’t closed. Really.

Ros was my shadow and I was devastated when she went out across the road one morning and then saw me going to get the paper before taking Zoe to school. She came running back across the road and was hit by a car. The man stopped, he felt terrible. But there was nothing he could have done. I still miss her.

 

Brighid & Zoe

Brighid lived with us for several years. She became a happy lap cat. Then one day she disappeared. There had been a barn owl around and I’m thinking that’s what got her. Miss her as well.

 

 

 

Which brings me up to Lizzy. That’s a lot of cats to have loved and lost. All our cats now are young. Seven years and three years. I hope they live long, long happy lives.

I’m so done with losing my furry friends.