3. Other Things Writing Life

Spring yard update!

I’m sitting on the couch with wine in hand & a pillow under my achy hip, thinking, “Someday I will remember to take proper ‘before’ pictures.”

But today will not be that day. See, there’s an unhealthy intersection between ADHD hyper-focus brain & a hyper-mobile body, and I live in that intersection when I have lots of outdoor projects & only so many good spring days in which to complete them.

I keep forgetting about documentation until I am too sore, shaky-handed, and covered in muck to snap pics. Ibuprofen & hot shower always win.

ANYWAY. I do have a few pics at the bottom, if that’s what you’ve come to see.

The new yard is coming along.  All the beds I’m going to dig are dug, except…okay, all the beds I’m going to dig for a while are dug…okay SOME BEDS ARE DUG AND I HAVE PLANS, ALL RIGHT? 

Ahem. This yard wasn’t exactly a blank slate. A blank of bare soil would’ve been easier. The drainage in the back is abysmal because the soil is…not alive. It’s dead substrate.  So. I can fix it, but it isn’t easy to work with dead clay that’s been overdosed with chemicals & compacted until it’s rock-hard. Complicating matters, that clay is beneath massively root-bound turf grass or scrappy invasive plants, depending on whether I’m working in the “lawn” or the “flowerbeds.” Turning this into proper prairie loam will be A Big Project.

Good thing I love big projects.

What’s been completed so far? LOTS. All the rusty, ugly steel edging that had stopped holding in bricks years ago but hung around as a horrible tripping hazard? ALL OUT.  Mulch is down on the beds that most need it, the summer bulbs I planted have all popped up, a few seedling veggies are in (more on that later) lettuces have sprouted, & hope seeds have been scattered.

What are hope seeds, you ask? Hope seeds are packets of assorted annual flowers I buy every year because I don’t have the patience to start seeds indoors but cannot resist a seed packet display.  Every year I buy a selection, throw them into mulched perennial beds & wait to see if any sprout & survive.

Something always does. I get little midsummer happy surprises when they make their appearances long after I’ve forgotten I planted them. (No, I never mistake them for weeds. I know my plantses.)

I have also established a great big mulching zone under the back bird feeder, where the dying spruce used to be. All the dug-up bits I remove from other beds get dumped on the stump shreds & surrounding sad lawn area. It’s a big ol’ mess of hard turf hunks, chunks of uprooted hosta, bits of leftover holiday greenery, twigs & leaves that blow in from other people’s yards, potting soil sweepings, weeds pulled from the lawn… pretty much everything plantish is getting tossed there. 

In due time bugs & bacteria & sun & rain will work their wonders on it and it will become topsoil. It isn’t…pretty…but it has a wholesome “nature at work” look. Plus the birbs & squirbs love it because there’s cover & nooks & crannies full of insects for them.

And! We had a hard freeze last night, but at least one of my l’il tomatoes, two of the basils and two of the chili pepper seedlings have survived. This pleases me to pieces. I’ll wait a few days & see if any new growth sprouts from the others before giving up on them. Roots are resilient.

If not, oh, well. I knew planting early was a gamble, and I also figured this was my easy chance to evaluate this yard’s microclimes. I tested several different types of coverage in different locations, and…now I know! So that was fun.

Here be the pics. They don’t show much…but each one represents a LOT of sweaty work. (They also get bigger if you click on them.)

There are many little green things in all those shots, but they aren’t showy yet. Not like the spring bulbs up front. Those are just lovely. Here they are again:


My right wrist, elbow, & foot, AND my left leg from the lower back down to the toes all hate me with a fulsome, fierce, and all-consuming hatred today, but that is a price I am willing to pay for feeling Very Much Accomplished. Fair value. A bargain, even.

Lots yet to do. The planter tubs will move into that bed by the driveway, (and I may need new annuals for them…) I want more mulch there, I need to reset all that flagstone so it’s about level with the concrete, I have a big list of perennials & veggies to buy — I have the right kind of sunny zones to plant cucumbers here! I could let pumpkin plants nest in the back mulch zone — and then I’ll have to dig holes for all of them… So. Many Ideas!

But there it is. For now, yard update complete.

Until later!

Book reviews Media Consumption

The most recent ramblings of me

I’ve been busier creating more than consuming of late, and I’ve also taken some tedious life detours, but here’s the latest “what I’ve been enjoying” scoop.


1636 Chronicles of Dr. Gribbleflotz: Kerryn Offord & Rick Boatright. Fun, lighthearted alternate history sf/fantasy.  It’s an installment in the Ring of Fire bookset. (21 novels, 7 anthologies and going strong.) That is both an asset and a drawback. Good: It’s a familiar world, yet it is so thoroughly filled with unique characters that nothing ever feels like a retread. Bad: There are so many intersecting plots that it’s easy to lose track of all the tangential characters who get mentioned. And it’s just…there.

Wild Harmonic: Beth Patterson.  Great setting, clever concept, urban fantasy that feels urban AND fantastic. Good, solid fun read.  Reminded me a little of War for the Oaks in that it’s all about musicians and hidden worlds, but it’s also nothing like WFtO, and I was immensely pleased that it captured the feel of New Orleans as I’ve experienced it instead of going all cliche smoky-sugary-angsty vampire-packed like certain other NOLA-based series do. I liked it so much that I barely minded it using present tense.  And I do not get along with present tense at all. Nope.

I’m including a purchase link with because it’s also a brand new book by an author I know, that isn’t available in most bookstores (REMEMBER TO ASK YOUR LIBRARY TO BUY IT) and well, you know how I am about pushing things I like. Here you go: BUY LINK.

Once Broken Faith (and more) Seanan McGuire. More urban fantasy. All fae, all the time.  I started this series with book 1 and I love the way it’s developed. This is the the latest, and I embarked upon a re-read. I think the plot doesn’t hit its stride until book 3 or 4, much like the Dresden novels, and like those, I enjoy a periodic visit down memory lane.  I’m into the third book again.

Viewings both TV and Movies

Supergirl continues. Season 2 moved to the CW, and I still like it.

Frequency. New series based on the same concept as the movie from 2000. (Cross-time ham radio communication between parent & child.) Was recommended to me by someone who knows my dislike for time travel, so I risked the pilot. Glad I did.  Four episodes in, it’s atmospheric, dramatic, polished and well-acted.

Designated Survivor got booted off the viewing list. They put in five good episodes before pulling out the flags, regressive ideas and dog whistles, but they did, and now I’m out.

Veronica Mars. The Movie. It did a good job of capturing the feel of the television series, the story was engaging, and I enjoyd it. There is something to be said for fan service, and this movie did it well.

Locke. I don’t remember why I ordered this movie from Netflix even after viewing it. Tom Hardy may have entered into the decision process.  It was an interesting exercise in storytelling through conversation, it was a phenomenal character piece…and it all takes place in a car, driving at night. Hrrrrrrm.

Silver Chalice. Paul Newman. This oldie was showing late-night on a commercial free channel. I hadn’t seen it in 40 years and decided what the hell. Good choice? I dunno. Perfect for the time, but I in pain on pain meds. It was as awful, stilted, and trippy this time around as when I was young and didn’t know how bad bad could get.  It’s like a sword & sandals New Testament epic interpreted by someone taking LSD.  So weird. SO BAD.

Big Screen:

Dr Strange. Cumberbatch + cape + special effects+ fabulous cast = excellence. Wong the librarian is glorious, and Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One…well. I can’t think of a movie she’s in where I haven’t adored her.  (Yes, even the awful Constantine movie. She was phenomenal in that, and she’s delightful in Dr. Strange.)  ANYway. It was good. I’ll see it again. I’ll own it. And when Thor 3 comes out, I might have slightly higher than bargain basement hopes for it, since it appears it will star, Thor, Loki AND Dr. Strange. (swoon)

That’s all in the “taking things in” category.

Kitchen magic:  Made apple crisp and applesauce and only burned some of it. Used up old frozen bananas and stale beer to make delicious banana beer bread, proving bad ingredients can make tasty results. Laid in the first of the frozen winter cookie doughs. PErfected my salsa/rice/chicken lazy bake. And last week all my food energies went into making puddings, jelloes and experimental mashed potato varieties, courtesy of oral surgery recovery.

For those keeping score, I like strawberry jello and red raspberry but not black raspberry–and never lime or orange–and the pudding has to be the kind that gets cooked in  pot and chilled. Vanilla is best. Seriously. Baked sweet potatoes mash super well in a bowl with butter, salt and onion powder, but mashed white potatoes are better if they’re boiled, drained and whipped together  with cheddar cheeses, milk  (and butter. Because butter is the secret of life.)

Dirt therapy: SPOUSEMAN AND I GOT OUR FALL BULBS PLANTED RIGHT! I wouldn’t be all shouty-caps excited except that last year I…didn’t. Spouseman buys some every year as a little treat to our spring selves, and we plant them together. Last autumn nothing was fun and life fell on our heads and I ended up shoving bulbs into the ground like a manic squirrel around Thanksgiving so I could stop feeling guilty about spending the money. It worked out, the bulbs all came up, but the experience was neither relaxing nor healthy.  This year, there was a day of sunshine and digging and much satisfied soreness the next day. Huzzah.

And that’s all the all there is right now.

Obligatory regular reminder: I write books that can be bought with money all over the interwebs. NOT ONLY ON AMAZON! Here is a handy link:

And I shouldn’t leave out Amazon because books are exclusively available there: even has audio editions of some books. You can buy them direct on Amazon or iBooks too.




Shiva, destroyer of shrubs

Today is not the first warm day of spring, nor the first sunny one, nor even the first time I wandered through the yard to eyeball the progress of all the tiny plantlings huddled under mulch and last autumn’s withered leaves.

It is, however, the momentous day on which I commenced Spring Cleaning. Outside, that is. Cleaning is a yearlong continual process indoors, where seasons are marked by decorative changes and not vegetative ones.

Today’s Spring Cleaning, Outdoor edition, began with the ritual kicking mulch back into beds. Someday I will invent a squirrel transporter, and then mulch-kicking will be retired from the liturgy. Until then, kicking mulch back into the little holes the monsters leave will continue.

Next, today’s main event: shrub pruning. Snip, snap, saw, drag, pile. Utility lines to the house are now safe from the wanderings of waving branches, dead wood was disposed of, shapely shapes were shaped into being, and sproutlets popping up in Unwanted Places were ruthlessly removed.

Fun was had by all. Fun was had by me, anyway.

One dire discovery: the fence behind the shrubs is  trying to fall over. This is a Problem.  I Don’t Do Fences. Professional help will be enlisted soon.