Life’s been chaotic again. In a good way. In mid-September I went off to a writing workshop on the Oregon coast. Mystery writing. Don’t panic, I’m not leaving fantasy and science fiction behind, just rounding out my skill set. Cause mysteries can exist everywhere. Even on other planets and in other worlds.
So the workshop was fabulous, taught by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (aka Kris Nelscott and Kristine Grayson). There were twelve of us, writing our brains out, for nine days. I wrote a massive amount of words and my brain is still overflowing with stuff. I learned so much.
I’ve spent the time since I returned sleeping (there was little time for that during the workshop, unfortunately), decompressing and dealing with the arrival of fall. Late September is when I normally put all the garden furniture away and bring the houseplants inside for winter (all eight of them). Do fall pond things, maybe even tidy it up some. Stuff like that. Except I was gone.
There were lots of projects I didn’t get finished before I left because I was reading books for the workshop almost until the last minute. I’m such a slow reader. Those things are still waiting for me.
So I spent a couple of days this week making lists of everything that needs to be done and deciding if I really want to do them. I really could use someone sitting on my shoulder and saying yes, no, do that thing first. Our house/lives are like on huge puzzle.
One example, we needed to vacuum the living room and bring in the rug for the winter. It was out in our old tack room (now a place where miscellaneous stuff gets stored. That had to be done, because all the outdoor furniture cushions get stored where the rug was. I’d washed the cover for the cushions and it was on the top of the laundry hamper, waiting to be put away. So in order to do laundry, it had to be moved. Everything is connected around here.
So obviously, We need help around the house too!
Now, furniture is mostly put away for the winter. I’ve got my publishing schedule roughed out for the next several months and I’ve started a new novel. The next Gina Wetherby book (you may have met her if you read Horticultural Homicide), which has been wandering my brain ever since I finished the first one, yelling “Me next, me next!” And I’ve got more publishing things to do than I can accomplish in a lifetime. The number of finished or nearly finished things on my desktop is alarming.
I had another post I was going to write today, but that one’s going to be postponed, because this one seems more timely.
After my shower today, as I poured moisturizer on my entire body, I noticed something about one of my fingernails. It used to be grooved because of an old injury, but now it’s not. The scar on my finger is still there. A reminder of the power we have to ignore wakeup calls.
It reminds me of the scenario in ‘Moonstruck’. Cher’s character is yelling at Nicholas Cage’s character, about the wildness of himself. The wolf who chewed off his hand (accidentally cut it off in a bread slicing machine) in order to avoid the trap (marriage to a woman he didn’t love).
I was maybe twenty. In college at the U W. I’d come out to Washington after a year of college in Montana, which was disappointing. I wanted more challenge, more focus on my major–which was technical theater.
I hadn’t reckoned that coming to a place where I knew no one, introvert that I am, would be so lonely. I also hadn’t reckoned on S.A.D.
Depression plus loneliness made me miserable.
I went to classes, then to the U. Bookstore and bought reams of fantasy books. Anne McCaffrey saved my life. Went home and wallowed. But I survived and even made a few friends. Three years later, it was summer quarter. I only had one more class to take–offered only during spring quarter. Somehow, my advisor hadn’t figured that out right. I wasn’t concerned about money since my mom was footing the bill. I could always find interesting classes to take.
What I was concerned about was moving on to grad school. Which had to be somewhere back East. I was thinking about NYU or Carnegie Mellon, which were the two big theater tech schools at the time.
I was terrified. I didn’t want to go to another huge city and be alone again, knowing not a soul. And get depressed all over again. I couldn’t face it so soon after recovering from the last depression. Resources were not what they are now. I wouldn’t have even called it depression, although that’s what it was.
I was also annoyed at the whole idea of what went on in theater. At least at the UW. We’d do a show, build this enormous set, use it for a couple of weeks, then tear it all apart. Some bits might be saved if there was storage and if it could be re-used. But the waste was enormous. We filled entire dumpsters. I had just discovered environmentalism and I felt appalled at going into a field that contributed so much to landfills. The department had three theaters to itself and shared another two with the music and dance departments. There were easily four different shows going on in any given month.
So, while I was musing about my future I got put on one of the summer shows as the props master. I had never even worked on a show where I created or found props. I was completely out of my depth and there was no one, not a single staff member, grad student or teacher around to help me. This was all volunteer work, I might have been getting a few credits, but I already had all of those sorts of credits that I needed.
I failed utterly and completely. Couldn’t find or make most of the things needed, no matter how I tried. The scene shop was short-staffed that summer. All the shows were behind on the building end.
I remember standing at the bandsaw. Looking at something I was about to cut, trying to figure out if I could make it work for some bloody prop I was trying to create.
Someone came by and told me we were having mandatory weekend work calls. All weekend. Which meant that besides trying to do the props I was expected to work on the sets too.
I was so angry.
I forgot to reset the guard on the bandsaw from whoever had used it last. It was up really high. I should have lowered it about six inches. And so I cut my finger, badly.
Then I was even more angry and embarrassed that I’d cut my finger from doing something so stupid.
Someone hauled me off to the emergency room. Where I got stitches and a prescription to keep it immobile for several days. But I had my finger at least.
No weekend work call for me.
But I still felt embarrassed and stupid. And questioned whether I really wanted to be in theater. My research and experience of life in theater was sixty hours of work per week for twenty hours of pay. In the town Seattle was, there weren’t that many union jobs available. Most of those had to do with working rock concerts.
It was a wakeup call that I’d been ignoring so the universe kept giving me larger and larger ones until I got the message.
So, I walked off a cliff. Quit school completely. Because, after all what good was a theater degree if you weren’t going into theater?
Reassessed my life. Drifted, for years. Eventually I went back to school, at Antioch Univ. and finished my degree. Still paying for it. Student loans are forever.
Finally decided I wanted to be a writer instead.
No biting my finger so badly it needs stitches, but sixty hours work a week for the pay of twenty–if I’m lucky.
And plenty of scars. The invisible kind this time. But I pay more attention to wake up calls than I did.
Way back when, I promised photos! I’ve finally gotten it together to take some photos.
First up, the dragon garden. Although the spousal unit calls it the draggin’ garden because I’ve spent a lot of time draggin’ pots around. Hmph.
I’m including three photos here. This is the area of our property that has the most sun and beneath the lime green umbrella is where I spend a lot of time writing. It’s my outside office. Although sometimes I’m just hiding out from the other humans in the household. The cats always find me though.
We’ve started rescuing all our struggling David Austen roses that are in the ground (and in shadier parts of the garden, which were once sunny, but not anymore – trees grow) and putting them into containers. They’ve rewarded us with lots of blooms.
Also my collection of dwarf pine trees is in this part of the garden, because – sun. And lilies and all the fruit surrounds this garden – raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and kiwi. I have strawberries in containers and even a bred to grow in pots – raspberries and blueberries. And in one of the giant watering troughs I have a dwarf fig tree. I’m set!
We bought three 4′ wide X 4′ tall X 6′ long metal watering troughs, drilled holes in them and they’re currently growing tomatoes, basil, lettuce, cucumbers, sage, and that fig I mentioned. I have a vegetable garden again. Wheee!
The dragon garden is filled with dragon statuary and resides on the gravel area where the horses used to live. I couldn’t bear the thought of moving all that six-inch deep gravel and weed barrier. So, I made lemonade out of lemons and created a container garden. It’ll work nicely when I get old and want to tool around the garden in my wheelchair. Which considering how much I’ve been working in the garden this month, could be any day now. Ouch. Muscles I didn’t know I had, hurt.
So, on to the bathroom! I don’t have photos of its previous incarnation, but I loved it. It was a deep turquoise with dark green trim and door, in a paint that shifted color depending on the angle you looked at it from. And dark green porcelain tile. All of which offset the blinding white, toilet, tub and shower surround. White’s not my favorite.
The construction guys pulled out everything rotting and moldy. The entire floor, the outside wall from the waist down and one of the interior walls. The room was completely open to the dirt crawl space and the outside of the house. Thank goodness for home equity loans.
The construction guys were wonderful. So after they redid the walls and the floor, we got a new toilet, tub and surround (all white still, though).
We compensated by painting the place gold. I looked for porcelain tiles in exotic colors, but in the 12 years since the bathroom was redone, anything wild has gone out of style. Wah! So, we decided on this cool brown tile. And since they ripped the walls out, they asked us if we wanted wood paneling. Less painting for us!
So, here’s the final effect. Gaudy, hell yes! Weird? Just what is that on the shower curtain anyway? The setting for my next novel probably! Okay, that setting has a lot less water, so maybe not. But some future novel!
So, that’s the bathroom, our little postage stamp of the single bathroom in the house. Or anywhere on the property. I couldn’t get good photos, cause there’s nowhere to back up to!
I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of other parts of the garden that we have actually gotten to and done work in this year. So much of it hasn’t been weeded at all. It was a rough spring for everyone. We were both sick. And it was way too rainy and cold all spring. No one wanted to go outside and garden.
This is just off the patio. The spousal unit worked hard on this bed, adding lots of new plants and removing a couple of dead ones. Moles!
This is the bed out the kitchen window. Still a work in progress, but it’s coming along nicely. The area beyond it is another story.
One year, I don’t know when, we will be able to get to every part of the garden. The entire garden will be weeded, staked, paths mowed or replaced. Patios will be finished. And every single bed will be done – there will be no plants in black pots sitting around waiting to be planted. Things will be pruned and dead plants completely removed. I keep thinking that year will be the next one.
I guess that dream (or fantasy) is what keeps gardeners going.
This has been a really long post. Hope you enjoyed it. I’ve mostly caught you up on my life outside writing for the past few months! And the next post will be all about writing and publishing. And perhaps I’ll have finished the novel I’ve been writing off and on since December! I’m getting really, really close.
Hope you’re having a lovely summer (or winter if you’re way down south)!
So, here’s what’s been going on all spring and early summer
First there was construction. Our only bathroom was falling apart, seriously falling apart. So, we took out loans and for 3 weeks we got a portapotty and I was surrounded by construction. Whee!
It was a nasty, wet spring here and every time I planned to go out and weed or plant things, I looked out and said, nope. Nothing doing.
That didn’t stop me from buying plants.
Then there were the book launches. I released two books in April – Faerie Descent and Horticultural Homicide. It was an interesting experiment, but I think I’ll wait a long time before I do that again. Took a lot out of me.
Then I got sick, which turned out to be bronchitis. Apparently, my lungs didn’t appreciate the construction dust, uncovered mold, nasty paint fumes and pollen combination. Some flu, cold or virus I picked up was the tipping point.
So, by the time I recovered from all that, warm weather was here and I had at least a couple hundred plants (not kidding) in small pots which needed watering twice a day. Temps were in the 80’s, which doesn’t happen here often.
So, I dragged containers around, weeded and planted. Without much progress. This was the year I decided to get the three large, metal watering troughs to use as raised beds. Which meant filling them up with compost and potting soil. We bought (and I lifted) 23 one yard bags of potting soil. Ouch!
I finished planting last week. In July! Sheesh. All the plants that will be planted before fall. There are still some plants waiting for new beds, but those were planned for and they aren’t new ones.
So, It’s mid-July and I finally looked up and realized I haven’t blogged in months! Although I have been writing and publishing things. Several new short stories and a collection of stories. I even did a couple of events.
I’m still working on the novel from hell, which will end someday soon. And my to-do list seems to be getting longer. Well, at least on the publishing side. The gardening side is actually getting shorter. Whoo hoo!
And I’m going to a Mystery Writing Workshop in September, out on the Oregon Coast. I recently got the reading list – which is massive. I’m happy to say that I’m less than a hundred pages from the end of reading the 800 page anthology. Only eight more books to go!
So, I’ve got tons more news, but I really do need to go eat some dinner. It will have to wait. And I’ll have more photos of the bathroom, the garden and who knows what else, but on another day. Once I take them. I’ve been slacking on that too.
So, I hope your summer is going well. Go outside, to the beach, or the desert or a garden. Smell some roses and spend a few minutes, kicking back and enjoying life.
I’ll be back soon. I’m not going away for another three months, knock on wood!
I’ve been doing half a million things. Readying not one, but two novels for publication, spiffing up a couple of short stories and trying to keep my head above water.
This year my goal is to publish something every single month and get the backlog of fiction cleared out. Or at least off my desktop where it’s screaming at me.
So, this month, I’ve published a collection of short fiction!
Stories of the Jeweled Worlds
Stories bursting with wild visions from the three Jeweled Worlds. Three very different young women from very different magical places, woodland, water worlds and desert. Follow them as they refine their magic and learn how to find their place amidst the chaos of change.
Includes: Adrift, Journey Into Darkness, and Flames of Freedom.
Clicking on the photo will take you to Amazon, other links are on this books page, found on the tab: Collections
I’ll be back soon with more news and possibly garden photos, cause everything’s waking up out there!
This is just a quick note to let you know that I’m alive, well and floundering. I made huge plans for this year, wrote out my goals for the year and then began to hyperventilate.
So, I’ve been trying to breathe and look at the massive list of things I accomplished last year. And am trying to move forward. Slowly. Nose down and focusing on the work.
I’m still working on the Metamorphosis Press website. Trying to bring it up to date, since I sort of skipped a year. It’s very slow going, but it will get done. And the novels I need to publish are stacking up.
I’m writing short stories at the moment. Two more to go and then I’ll throw myself at another novel and see what comes out.
I hope you’re all taking care of yourself. It’s a new year and time to get things moving in the direction we want them to go.
Spring is coming. We’ve had major freezes here in the last month and everything has died back in the garden. Which allows me to walk around and see what needs to be cut back or removed completely.
I’m doing this with my entire life. Looking at my schedule and removing things which no longer nourish me. Getting rid of stuff that’s taking up too much space in my life, or in the house. Making space for what I want to have in my life.
So, that’s it for now. I’m leaving you with a picture of this Hellebore which is currently unfolding out in the garden. It can do so only because all the surrounding plants have died back.
Sometimes we need to prune to make space for new life, or nature does it for us.
I wish you blessings in the new year. This is a hard time for many of us. I’ll be scarce on social media for the next few months. Trying to avoid the news, to stay optimistic and do my work.