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: (Default)
I posted this elsewhere, but wanted it in the Comonplace Book.  Recently someone asked to see a picture of my writing chair. This is my view of the chair from my business/internet desk in my office. When I'm doing all that busy-ness, the chair is there reminding me that the first and foremost activity of my career is writing.

When I go over and sit in the chair, I'm disconnected from all the distractions of the business arena. There's a mug of tea beside me, and the petting couch for my furry muses right next to the chair. I have a shawl to keep my legs warm on cold days. The bulletin board with pictures to inspire my writing is more for when I'm at the desk—an additional enticement to go over and write. I can't actually see it much from the chair.

A window to the right overlooks my back yard, where I've put up bird feeders and am developing a butterfly garden. Mountains in the distance. At night, I like a cozy cave-like environment, so I usually only have the stained glass lamp on.

The chair is a recliner and I write on a laptop. This allows me to avoid the physical fatigue problems that come from working on a laptop with more conventional furniture. My arms and wrists are supported.

My writing laptop never connects to the internet. This is crucial—email is a tempting distraction. Even more insidious is research: "Oh, I'll just look up this one detail I need..." and half an hour later I wake up, having meandered down the primrose websurfing path.

It took me a while to put together this environment for my writing. I gradually assembled the separate writing computer, the side table and lamp, and found the perfect chair which a gift from my dear departed mother-in-law helped to pay for. My writing corner is perhaps eight feet square, and it's one of the most important areas in my house.

Every writer needs a good writing environment. Some like to write in coffee shops, others at the kitchen table. Kris Rusch, in her blog series for freelancers, has some good general recommendations about setting up a workspace. Her advice is not specific to writers but certainly applies, and she describes her own writing environments.
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: (cooking)
If you're like me you love pasta, and you love fresh grated Romano or Parmesan cheese sprinkled over it. Trouble is, the fresh cheese can be a pain - grating, cleaning up the grater, getting out and putting away everything.

For a while I bought pre-grated cheese at Costco. Convenient, but it wasn't as nice as fresh-grated, and once I found a bit of mold in the container even though the freshness date hadn't passed. Also, it's expensive.

Instead, I decided to try grating my own. I bought a big chunk of Romano (my favorite) at Costco for about half what the container of pre-grated cheese cost (and it weighed more). Brought it home and used my food processor to grate the whole thing, then put the grated cheese in a container in the fridge. I use it as needed. It stays fresh until I've used it up, and tastes grate! (er, great)

I do the same thing with big bricks of sharp cheddar cheese. That way I always have grated cheddar for making cheesy macs, enchiladas, or grilled cheese sandwiches. (Yes--grated cheddar for grilled cheese. And spread the melted butter on the bread, not in the pan. Learned that from America's Test Kitchen.)

There you go! Enjoy!
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.


Mar. 24th, 2009 12:54 am
patinagle: (Default)
Pardon my excitement, but today is the release of THE BETRAYAL. Been a long time since I last had a book on the stands.

Excerpts are available at Book View Cafe and at my new website for this fantasy series,

I'm also doing a guest blog today at Literary Escapism, talking a bit about how I came to write this novel. 

And for those in New Mexico, I've got a couple of appearances coming up.  All that info is on my calendar page


patinagle: (Default)
Snow again Friday, a couple of inches in the morning and showers off and on all day.  Snow on the ground still yesterday morning, all melted off by evening.  Today, sunshine.  The forest is happy for the moisture, happy for the sun.

Spring Snow

Mar. 9th, 2009 12:57 pm
patinagle: (comonplace)
Was all set to make a gleeful post about the daffodils and tulips that are sending up leaves.  Woke to snow this morning.  It's melting at the moment, so the water barrels will be replenished.  Moisture is always welcome; we've been having fire danger warnings lately, so this is good.

I am a little worried about the wildflower seeds I've been sowing.  But, ah well.  There are always more seeds. 

I'm back!

Mar. 5th, 2009 06:10 pm
patinagle: (Default)
My face is back!  Amazing!  I didn't change a thing. 

Something must have been going on Behind the Scenes.


Feb. 19th, 2009 12:27 pm
patinagle: (Default)
My default picture has been changed. The new one is quite lovely...I like pre-Raphaelite stuff...but I didn't put it there.

Is this a LJ hiccup? Did something go haywire in the recent server move? Or has my account been—gasp—hacked!

Anyone recognize the image? Hints and clues are most appreciated...

Addendum: Folks are telling me they still see my old pic. Curiouser and curiouser. Here's what the new one looks like to me:

patinagle: (Default)
This year Random Acts of Kindness Week is February 9-15, according to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. Do something nice for someone!

Monday I was walking past a car whose passenger door was open.  The passenger, an older lady, couldn't reach the handle to close it because the door was too long.  She was calling to her husband, who was at the other side of the car loading cargo, to come help her.  I said "May I close it for you?" and did so.  Easy, fast, and so worth doing.  Her surprised smile will stay with me. 

I recently read Thom Hartmann's The Prophet's Way, which discusses small, private acts of compassion. I didn't think the "private" part was that important but on reflection, it may well be. Doing something kind isn't about being acknowledged for it. It's about the act of kindness itself.

Need ideas for small acts of kindness?  Check out the Spread Change blog.  They've got lots of suggestions, mostly inexpensive and easy.

In Between

Feb. 10th, 2009 12:39 pm
patinagle: (aurora)
Snow today. Looks very wintery, but there are the pansies. Also some seedlings I planted indoors a week ago are already poking up their tiny heads.

Spring here is often windy, which is no fun. It can also snow as late as early May. So regardless of the weather, it's still spring for me.

Lots of bluebirds and robins in the bird bath. Pine siskins gobbling thistle. A couple of days ago we're pretty sure we saw some cedar waxwings, a first for us in this location. I'd heard they were in the area, and had been wanting to see them.

Now the sun is coming out, though it's still snowing. Sun flurries.


Feb. 6th, 2009 10:20 am
patinagle: (Default)
With the days notably longer, the garden is waking up. I cleaned out the raised beds yesterday. Chives are already sending up leaves. The rosebushes have tiny buds. Some of the pansies have wintered over, and I put out some more pansies to welcome the Spring. The wildflower seeds I ordered came in the mail, so I'm going to work on getting the meadows seeded today. Rain coming in this weekend, which should help.
patinagle: (Default)
It rained while I wasn't looking! This is good!

Of course, it's already muddy out there from melting snow. But rain is always welcome. It's been over a week--closer to two--since we've had any moisture.
patinagle: (aurora)
Every January we have a warm spell. It's a break between storms this year, and a welcome chance for the snow to melt off.

The warm snap always makes me start to think about gardening. This year it looks like some of my pansy bowls may have wintered over. Pansies are so amazing! They don't mind being frozen. I'm giving them little drinks of water to help them along.

It's time to start thinking about getting seedlings going. Last year I grew more plants from seed than ever before. Enjoyed it enormously, so I'm going to do it again.

The front "lawn" is a loss. We've tried pampering it along but the grasses really aren't suited to the climate, and the pocket gophers keep making little trailing mounds of dirt. Lawns are unnatural constructs, especially here. I'm letting it turn into a meadow, and scattering wildflower seeds to help it along. Would love to get some California or Mexican poppies going there.
patinagle: (Default)
This just looked like fun, so I jumped in!

January: Yes, I did it again.

February: This is a really fun movie based on a great book by New Mexico science fiction writer Steven Gould.

March: Like Terry Pratchett?

April: Last weekend I attended the Novelists, Inc. Conference in New York.

May: Much rejoicing!

June: I'm in love with chevre (soft goat cheese).

July: -

August: The slow days of summer are here.

September: It's the equinox.

October: Hummingbirds are gone this week.

November: Book View Cafe has just been launched!

December: Tonight's the night!
patinagle: (Default)

Best Wishes to all for a prosperous
and happy New Year!

Free 2009 Calendar!


patinagle: (Default)
blue iceIn honor of the season, two gifts:

- A free read of my fantasy novella "Glad Yule" (originally published in Fred Saberhagen's AN ARMORY OF SWORDS) is available on my bookshelf at Book View Cafe.

- A free 2009 year-at-a-glance calendar is yours for the asking.

And if you want to learn about the Yule Goat, see my post on the Novelists, Inc. blog.

May your holiday season be blessed with happiness!


patinagle: (Default)

June 2009

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