It's Alive!

Jun. 8th, 2009 09:03 am
patinagle: (Default)
Just a quick garden update.  The redbud tree is alive!  We planted it to honor Chris's mom, but it doesn't like the cold winters up here.  The main trunk died, but the roots are alive.  This is the second year that it's sent up a new shoot. 

So, gladness.  Cheering.  Come on, little tree!  You can do it.

Seriously thinking about using old cat littler buckets to compost kitchen scraps.  Can't discover a reason why it wouldn't work.  I'd love to get one of those rotating bin composters, but they cost $$$ and I don't see why a bucket with a lid wouldn't work as well.  I'd just pick it up and shake it after adding new scraps. 

If any more experienced gardeners want to weigh in, feel free.
patinagle: (cooking)
It's been a while since I put together an afternoon tea.  I decided to invite my friend and neighbor Judith, who gave me two lovely sets of tea plate and cup, to join me for tea today. 

Even though I work closely with the St. James Tearoom, I'd forgotten just how labor intensive it is to make a full tea by hand.  I started cooking two days ago.  Finished as my guest was arriving.  We had a lovely, leisurely chat.  Here's the menu (served with Lemon Myrtle Herbal Tea, as Judith doesn't drink black tea):

Cucumber Sandwiches
Deviled Eggs
Chicken Salad Sandwiches with Thyme and Sage Blossoms
Stuffed Mushrooms

Cream Scones with clotted cream, lemon curd, and brandy butter
Lemon Poppyseed Cake
Lavender Shortbread
Brownies topped with Ganache and Fresh Raspberries
Fresh Blueberries in Lemon Whipped Cream

patinagle: (Default)
May Day was always a fascination to me.  As a child I had heard stories about May Day and May baskets, leaving secret presents for neighbors at dawn, that kind of thing.  I never really got to participate in it, though.  It was always one of those "wouldn't it be great" things. 

May Day is an ancient fertility celebration.  Some interpret that as meaning wild revelry ("Tra-la, it's May, the lusty month of May...") but I tend to think about gardening.  Unfortunately, where I live, May Day is not yet frost-free time, but I have plants growing indoors.  Some quite enthusiastically, practically screaming to get their little roots into the garden soil.  They must wait a week or two. 

There are some lovely May carols, with dairy maids and garlands of flowers left by mysterious suitors and all that sort of pastoral thing.  I love these.  I also love Maypole dances, which I've actually done.  And another May tradition - the "Belfire" or bonfire - is something I'm always in favor of (though I've never jumped over one).

For a while May Day was co-opted by communism, kind of the antithesis of the pastoral celebration.  It's also become International Workers' Day, which is fine but nowhere near as romantic and fun as the old traditions.

I'm a sucker for romance and tradition.  So I will at least light a candle for May Day and probably try to do something with flowers.  My schedule isn't going to permit more this year, alas, but maybe next year. 

patinagle: (Default)

I've sponsored a wolf.

Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary is a wonderful place in the middle of nowhere, New Mexico. They offer lifetime sanctuary to captive-bred wolves and wolf-dogs abandoned by the exotic pet trade.

Often what happens is someone thinks it would be cool to have a wolf for a pet, so they buy a pup from a breeder. Then they find out why wolves don't make good pets. Sometimes the owners just can't handle the behavior of an intelligent, energetic, undomesticated animal with very strong jaws. Sometimes they can, but their communities outlaw ownership of such animals. Either way, a lot of these wolves and cross-bred wolf dogs wind up homeless, or threatened with euthanasia. They can't be released into the wild, because they were bred in captivity and don't have the experience to survive. 

Wild Spirit gives a lifetime home to over 50 such animals. They constantly have to turn others away, and are always operating on a shoestring budget. I've helped them out a little here and there in the past, but this year the taxes weren't as bad as I expected, so I've been able to sponsor a wolf for the first time.

stormI was extremely fortunate to have the chance to meet Storm and actually play with him and his siblings when he was just a pup.  He is one of a half dozen pups who came to Wild Spirit when their breeder decided to go out of business. 

When I got to play with the pups, they were eighteen weeks old, and they had so much strength and energy (squirmy!) that I was truly worried one of them might clock me in the face and injure me.  Now, a couple of years later, I know that Storm could easily kill me. 

Not that he's vicious--he's pretty much the opposite, very shy.  Most wolves are (rightly) afraid of humans, but they will attack if they feel threatened.  They are wild animals. 

I probably won't ever get to play with Storm again, but I'm going to visit him, and if I'm very lucky and the stars are all aligned, I might get to scritch his head a little.  If not, I'll settle for giving him presents now and then, and knowing that by sponsoring him (as I hope to continue to do each year), I'm helping him have as good a life as he can possibly get. 

(PS - The day we played with the pups, I caught a great picture of Jane Lindskold with a wolf pup the same age as Storm.  Check it out on Jane's website.)

patinagle: (Default)
Beloved spouse and I took a quick jaunt to Las Vegas earlier this week. Here's a link to some fun pictures of Hoover Dam and the conservatory at Bellagio. I'm putting up a thumbnail of one pic here to tempt you.
patinagle: (Default)
The slow days of summer are here. Fellow writers are grumbling about the lack of activity in the mailbox. Editors and writers are attending conventions, and not much is going on between.

For me, it's been a busy year so far and I'm actually enjoying the chance to catch up a bit. I have notes from my editor on fantasy novel #2, so I'm not lacking for work. I'm starting to put together some promotional efforts in support of fantasy novel #1, which has been scheduled for release in March 2009, right around the equinox.

To get a break from the summer heat, my spouse and I drove up to Telluride recently. Wow, what an incredibly beautiful place! Everywhere you turn in this tiny mountain town there are spectacular views. This one is of Bridal Veil Falls, visible from pretty much anywhere in Telluride. Just stunning. I love the mountains and this was a nice shot of inspiration for me for the settings of my ælven fantasy world. (My characters are mountain folk. Fancy that.)

Another thing that's kept me busy this summer is work on the Novelists, Inc. website. I (foolishly) volunteered to help with redesigning and reorganizing the site. It's actually been a lot of fun, though also a lot of work. Not much of it can be seen yet as the webmaster currently is at work converting the site to the new design, but the new Ninc Blog is off to a great start. Check it out!

Tomorrow I'm off to Worldcon. If you're going to be there, stop by my signing Thursday afternoon and pick up an ælven bookmark.


May. 15th, 2008 02:11 pm
patinagle: (aurora)
Much rejoicing! We had some rain yesterday, and today it has been almost non-stop. This is a huge blessing, since we hadn't had any rain in at least a month and my water barrels were getting empty. Now they are full! Yay!

I planned to plant flowers and herbs today. (I bought a lunar gardening calendar--much fun!) Looks like the rain has paused so I'm off to do it now.

Then back to the copyedits that arrived earlier this week.
patinagle: (Default)
Was just out potting three more pines and had a visit from a hummingbird! First one I've seen this year. Sugar water is on the stove. Now to dig out the feeders.
patinagle: (Default)
The aspens leafed out this week. Even a lot of the babies planted in previous seasons are waking up. Some of them haven't made it, which is why I put in three older saplings last year. But several of the babies are hanging in there!

I want to sow radishes today. Been looking at a lunar gardening book a friend gave me a while back. Root crops are supposed to go in during the waning moon. So I'm going to dash out and throw some radish seeds around before I get back to revising the WIP.

The raised bed that is my tiny veggie patch is looking good. I haven't planted anything there yet, but the chives are fixing to bloom and the parsley wintered over and is a large, enthusiastic, vibrant green clump!

After May Day I will plant nasturtiums. Looking forward to them - I so enjoyed them last year!

In the meantime, I am still putting ponderosa seedlings into pots. These are from the same source where I got the baby aspens, the New Mexico Forestry Division. If you own 2 acres of land you can get seedlings very inexpensively. The catch is you have to buy them in lots, so I've got twenty pine trees to plant. Most are going into big pots until I can get to them on a less urgent schedule. Even just getting them into pots is a good deal of work, though. I had Chris drill holes in the bottoms of a bunch of old cat litter buckets. Not pretty, but a good size, and the price is right.

Last night we froze so I sent poor Chris out in his pjs (cause that's more than I had on) to fetch in the bucket of seedlings that haven't yet been planted. I should put them outside again, now.

OK, back to work!
patinagle: (Default)

I love the mountains in spring. Weather so unpredictable. A snowstorm came through last night and left us with a couple of inches. It will be gone by noon, but in the meantime I'm grateful. We need the moisture. This will stave off fire season for a little longer.

And I always welcome an excuse to build a fire in the wood stove.

Blue Ice

Dec. 19th, 2007 10:47 pm
patinagle: (aurora)
Monday we got snow, a day after my beloved had put up the holiday lights on our house. This resulted in a cluster of icicles glowing blue in such a wonderful, eerie way that I ran for the camera. The icicles are gone now, but they're immortalized here.

Last Thursday night was the peak of the Geminids meteor shower. It was too cold, and there was too much snow on the deck, to go outside, but we sat by our french doors and watched the part of the sky we could see for a while, and saw quite a few wonderful meteors. The best one fell when I was out of the room (typical).

Warm thoughts to all of the folks who've been without power for days. We are lucky to have been spared that nightmare.

4 pages written today.

Points in The Race:
26 for short stories
8 for novels (down because my final revision for fantasy book 1 was accepted)
34 total


Oct. 8th, 2007 11:28 pm
patinagle: (aurora)

Around the equinox, the change in season becomes really noticeable. The hummingbirds are leaving and the juncos are coming in, along with bunches of flickers. Sun's rising later and the nights are getting colder. Last night we had our first freeze. (So long, tomato plants!) Here's a picture of a baby aspen tree in its fall glory.

We've been getting ready for winter, buying firewood and getting the chimney swept. I look forward to cozy nights with a fire glowing. Maybe not getting snowed in for three days, though. There's got to be a happy medium.

Oops! There's supposed to be a meteor shower tonight - the Draconids! I'd better go look.

4 pages written today.

Points in The Race:
25 for short stories
32 for novels
57 total
patinagle: (Default)
coverI just received my copies of the October issue of Cricket Magazine, in which I have a story, "On Swan's Wings." I'm so delighted with the artwork by Kat Thacker that I had to post a peek here (there are three gorgeous illustrations--the image below is a detail from one of them).

This story has its own story, which will come as no surprise to you writers out there. I wrote it with the intent to submit it to a specific magazine (they were doing a Valentine's issue), but the magazine folded before they even read my story. Needless to say, the Valentine's issue never materialized, and I thought I'd wasted my effort. I sent it out anyway, remembering my mentors' advice (thank you, Kris & Dean), and lo and behold, Cricket liked it. Voila, happy ending!

4 pages written today

Points in The Race:
22 for short stories
32 for novels
54 total
patinagle: (headshot)

dayMy dear husband gave me fountains for our anniversary. Specifically, the fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. We stayed in a room with a magnificent view of the fountains, which showed us rainbows by day and glorious splendor by night. We also dined at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant, and watched the fountains from that side (excellent restaurant, by the way - one of the best meals we've ever had). One of my favorite shows begins with a circle of mist and random flashes of light reminiscent of a lightning storm. We saw that from the Eiffel Tower. Never did figure out which music went to it, as the music can't be heard in the restaurant.

I'm fascinated by this city, which has a lot of motivations and qualities that I definitely dislike. What I do like about it is that it is a center of creativity. Many artists make their living here, not to mention designers, world class chefs, and so on.

In a city centered around money, the fountains at Bellagio are free for all to enjoy. I think that's wonderful, and also brilliant. The overall beauty of Bellagio raises it above the average in Las Vegas. In my opinion, Bellagio raised the bar and is still the standard of excellence in this ever-changing town.

nightI'm very fond of Cirque du Soleil and we saw my two favorite shows on this visit - Mystere, and O. Both wonderful. Mystere especially is magical. It's interesting to observe the progression from Mystere, which still has a "circus" atmosphere, to O, which is more sophisticated and complicated, to Ká, in which the technology almost outshines the performers.

Creativity has been on my mind lately because I'm reading The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida. Lots of resonance here. Florida posits that creativity is now the driving force in our culture and economy. As a person who works in the arts, I naturally find this appealing.

Points in The Race:

22 for stories
32 for novels (Dean said I should take the points back until the books go into production)

54 total

2 pages written


Aug. 23rd, 2007 05:33 pm
patinagle: (aurora)

I watched the Perseids meteor shower recently with my friends Laura J. Mixon, her daughters, and Bob Norton (and my dh, of course). Worth the lost sleep. The weather was perfect, the moon was new and the sky dark as it gets. Bob brought his telescope and we looked at all kinds of cool stuff in the sky, then at 4:00 am Laura and I participated in a test project to count meteor observations. Even with both of us in the same location, we didn't have the exact same sightings. It was cool.

There's another shower coming up on the night of August 31/September 1. The Aurigids are a comparatively young shower and will offer a concentrated burst at 4:36 AM Pacific Daylight Time. Sounds like it will be pretty spectacular.

Chris Crawford is running a study again, and wants as many observers as he can get for the Aurigids. All you need to do is install a simple program on your laptop, then while you are observing meteors, click your mouse each time you see one. (Bonus: the laptop makes a nice lap warmer in the cool early morning!) When you're done, email the log file created by the program to Chris. Instructions are available here.

2 pages written today (getting ready for Bubonicon)

Points in The Race:
22 for short stories
32 for novels
54 total
patinagle: (Default)

patio potLots going on in the garden these days. My patio pots are blooming nicely. Petunias and lobelias, also salvia that I grew from seed this year for the first time. Very proud of those.

The veggie patch is not so photogenic, but still wonderful. I have four varieties of tomato, all doing well though the clear winner is the Sweet Million, which was recommended by the local nursery. Before I got those I had planted a Sweet 100, and two Oregon Springs which are supposed to be good for higher altitudes, and a Big Boy that was in with the Sweet 100's and that I bought by mistake. Even it is happy. All the tomatoes are blooming and several are setting fruit, and the Sweet Million has a couple already ripening.

Chives are coming into a second bloom. Parsley (grown from seed) is doing well. I started a big bowl of mixed lettuce for microgreens last week, and they are now coming up.

patio potThis year I'm growing nasturtiums for the first time. They're fun! And edible. I understand the leaves taste like watercress. Maybe I'll try an egg-and-nasturtium sandwich with my tea. They are also good companion plants and repel squash bugs, according to the Wikipedia entry. That's terrific! Those squash bugs are terrible pests. I'm going to grow nasturtiums every year!

patio potOne plant that was here when we moved in is pink yarrow, which I had never seen before. Here it is in its bed, along with some spearmint. I also have white yarrow and moonshine yarrow (yellow).

This morning when I was tying up the tomatoes, I heard an owl. Nice moment.

Dean Wesley Smith has made a great blog post about The Race, which he invented. Really interesting history, and some names you'll recognize.

4 pages written today, plus 3 chapters edited of a completed novel.

Points in The Race:
25 for short stories
32 for novels
57 total
patinagle: (Default)
A few months ago we bought a piece of stained glass to cover a window that was letting in too much sunlight in the mornings and waking us up. It turns out this is an imitation of an imitation of Monet. Tiffany created a stained glass window called "Monsieur Monet's Water Lilies" and I actually have a greeting card printed with a detail from that window. The original was wonderful, of course, each lily handpainted. I haven't been able to find an image of the Tiffany window on the Web, though there are a number of other imitations for sale (none quite as nice as ours).

I love this window - it makes the whole room glow with an underwater green light. Very calming, and a lovely way to start the day.

Points in The Race:

22 for stories
24 for novels

46 total

2 pages written today (lots of extra work lately)


May. 30th, 2007 02:54 pm
patinagle: (Default)

Busy month!

Garden catch-up: the oaks finally leafed out about two weeks ago. Everything's awake now, and I've planted tomatoes. Planted nasturtiums, too - first time I've grown them. Boy, are they enthusiastic! Mama's redbud tree has a new set of leaves and looks very happy.

The black-headed grosbeaks have arrived, and so have the goldfinches. Many band-tailed pigeons also. They keep knocking down the window feeder.

Couple of days ago I saw a very large snake by the raised beds. The back half of a very large snake, that is. The front half was already down a burrow at the end of said raised beds. I think it was a bull snake - sorry I didn't get a picture, but it was impressive.

We spent the long weekend in Cloudcroft, a pretty little town in the Sacramento Mountains of southern New Mexico. Ponderosa forests, green everywhere. Amazing lightning and pouring rain. When the sun was out we hiked in some old railbeds that are now hiking trails, and saw a couple of old trestles that were built when the area was booming in the lumber industry. Here's a picture of a trestle that is, ahem, no longer serviceable.

Amazing how much work went into building these things. These timbers are huge, two feet thick at least. There were over 40 trestles on the run to Cloudcroft. All fallen into ruin less than 200 years later.

Points in The Race:

20 for stories (pile to send back out)
16 for novels

36 total

2 pages written (still a busy month)


Oct. 1st, 2005 08:59 pm
patinagle: (Default)

In the past week the weather has changed noticeably. Even though it's only a few days past the equinox, it's colder at night. We're keeping windows closed more, wearing warmer clothes. Built the first fire of the season in our fireplace. The tea kettle is getting busier.

Outside, there are fewer goldfinches at the thistle feeder, fewer hummingbirds. I saw the first curve-billed thrasher since spring in the last week. And today, my beloved spouse found an injured ladder-back woodpecker in the yard. It's in a box now, staying warm and quiet until we can get it to Wildlife Rescue.

A reminder of how fragile life is. Appropriate to the season. This is the time for quiet reflection, for remembering what's now past and gone. A time to be grateful for what remains.

A year ago I began a small challenge with myself, to write at least two pages every single day. I'm glad I did, because this has kept me sane when the world seemed chaotic, given me something to do instead of stare at bad news on the television, and helped me build to other steady goals.

So, thank you to the writer who gave me the idea, Julie Hyzy. She's been at the two pages a day thing a lot longer than I have, something like four years, if I recall correctly. I'm just glad to be celebrating one year, and looking forward to celebrating two.

Two pages today (of course).


patinagle: (Default)

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