Snow does not the true gardener defeat & Orlando, FL – wth?

Yes, we’ve had snow every day for weeks and weeks. Yes, there are still several feet of it on the ground. But the farmers down the road have shoveled out their sugar shack which means it’s almost time to make maple syrup because the sap is rising. And the last frost date (third week of May up here) is only 11 weeks away!! That means…..

::looks out window at snow-covered tundra::
::raises notion of shoveling off the garden plots to allow the soil to thaw faster::
::Beloved Husband puts head in hands::

Right. That means winter is not going anywhere soon, but it is time to start planning the garden. Last year’s garden did OKish, but because of booktours and the deaths of my mom and father-in-law, it was not as well-cared for as I’d hoped.

This year will be different! (Yes, that is the cry of gardeners everywhere this month.)

The focus this year will be on growing and harvesting foods that we can easily preserve to eat in the winter. Part of our "living gently on the earth" philosophy is to become as self-sustaining as possible. That means not depending on potatoes grown in Idaho and shipped across the country when we can easily grow them ourselves. I hope to harvest loads of potatoes, onions, dried beans (for soup and chili), parsnips, carrots and squash that will all keep well. I’m also growing the things that make summer so awesome: tomatoes, lettuce, basil, beans, peas, etc.

I have ordered from three different companies this year: High Mowing, Seed Savers, and Seeds of Change.

Another project this spring (well, when the snow melts, and God knows when that will be) is to propagate my mint, lemon balm, and geranium plants, as well as divide my hostas and daffodils. (Yes, I am lookin at you, Renee Warren, when I say that – I will need your hosta advice!!)

I can blather on at length about gardening, but it causes most of my family to roll their eyes and I don’t want to bore you. How interested are you in hearing about my garden?


The coolest all-around book awards- The Indies Choice – have been nominated. Why are these so cool? They can only be voted on by independent booksellers. I am rather proud to draw your attention to the "Most Engaging Author" category as well as the "Young Adult Fiction" category.


A pre-published YA author named Sarah got herself into a kerfuffle with the main branch of the Orlando Public Library recently. The teen section of the library, called Club Central, is roped off and restricted to patrons aged 13 – 18. Sarah blogged about being challenged and asked to leave the section and then she posted the library’s response to her complaint. What do you think about this??


I pulled most of the onions from the garden last night. Now they are "resting" (drying a bit) on a screen in the garage. Assuming I can figure out how to store them properly so they last through the winter, I am going to plant about ten time as many next year. They were totally maintainence free and I think they helped keep the pests down.

I have also started to pull my cranberry bean plants. They also have to dry in a dark, dry place for several weeks. (These are the kinds of beans you dry and then put into soup or chili in the winter.)

Alas, my tomatoes have been striken by the blight, though not as badly as some folks I know. I think this is because I planted heirloom seedings, not the kind you can buy in big box stores. I am busy roasting them and making salsa. I’m not sure if I have enough to make spaghetti sauce. I might pick up a couple crates of Romas to do that, if I can get all the other chores done. I have to destroy my blighted tomato plants and sterilize the earth they grew in to reduce the chances of having to deal with this next year.

My eggplants are trying. This is a little north to grow them easily, and the cool, rainy summer we had did not help their cause.

My basil is taking over the planet.

In other Forest news, BH almost has the floor done in my cottage. This has been a huge job. We started with 125-year-old floor boards, of various widths and lengths. He had to sand off 125 years of varnish and grime and figure out how to make them fit into the cottage, given that they had no uniformity at all. Now they are all in place. He should finish the final sanding today, then he’ll put a couple of coats of clear finish on it. We’re still waiting on the roofers to install the slate tiles on the roof.

Because I am so behind on work, we’re going to leave a lot of the finishing touches until next year. Right the goal is to get me in there so I can write!!

If you have no harvest to deal with, check out this article about the popularity of YA literature by author Paula Chase-Hyman. Stop by her blog, too.

WFMAD Day 29 – the challenges of color

Yesterday was a low energy day for me, perfect for a day spent running errands and doing the tedious and necessary things in life one must do. Bah. Now they’re over with.

My reward was to make the best pesto I have ever made with basil from my garden and fresh garlic grown by a guy near the village. This is a lean month here in the Forest and the price of pine nuts was too hight, so I used finely chopped walnuts instead. If the writing goes well today, I will make up a massive batch of pesto and freeze it. (Last year’s frozen pesto was a little disappointing. But I have figured out what I did wrong. Don’t add the cheese to any pesto you are going to freeze; it messes up the consistency a bit when thawed. This year I’ll add the cheese to pesto once it is defrosted.)

The other reward from the garden last night was boiled potatoes. I sort of accidentally on purpose unearthed a bunch when checking on them. I’ve never grown potatoes before and am very excited by these. I think we’ll have enough to store… maybe enough to feed us through the winter. Stay tuned.


Today’s advice: "I think it’s bad to talk about one’s present work, for it spoils something at the root of the creative act.  It discharges the tension."  Norman Mailer


Today’s prompt: This is about perspective and age. Brace yourself for the scroll-down.

1. Write a list of ten objects you can see from where you are sitting right now.

2. Now write a list of ten more objects. The first ten items that drop into your mind.

now scroll down….

scrolling, scrolling, scrolling…..

::opens refrigerator:: did I mention how awesome this pesto is?

almost done scrolling!! ::wipes pesto off keyboard::

3. Describe the color of the objects you listed from the perspective of a five-year-old.

3a. Describe the color of the objects you listed from the perspective of a fifteen-year-old.

3b. Describe the color of the objects you listed from the perspective of an eighty-year-old.

Because they have different life experiences and cultural contexts, they will see (and probably experience) the colors differently.

Bonus points: Write a scene where two of these characters disagree about the name of the color of one of your objects.

Scribble….Scribble…. Scribble…

A long weekend’s worth of links & deviled egg inquiry

I am slowly transitioning from insane farmer woman back to being a writer who gardens a little. By the end of the weekend, the new vegetable plots should be finished, seedlings in, and seeds sown. And it’s a good thing because I am itching to get back to writing. All the travel and work stress is almost gone, and being in balance again is now appearing possible.

The glass is now installed in the Magic Window, the walls and most of the ceiling are up, and the cool chimney pot we found at the salvage yard is in place on the roof.

Our friend Steve, a natural born Tinkerer, has been up here helping out. He’s our lead elf for alternative energy issues. (The goal is to keep the cottage completely off the electrical grid.) The small wind turbine came last week. At first they mounted it on the garage roof, but that was a bad idea. Then they put it on a 10-foot pole in the back meadow. Better. Now it’s on a 20-foot pole in the back meadow – MUCH better. They are still experimenting with the exact location to take the best advantage of the winds. The other piece of the electric system will be a solar panel that should arrive next week.

Just writing all of this down makes me tired.

Aside from gardening and hanging with friends this weekend, I am going to try and make yogurt in my crockpot, thanks to a tip from Bookavore.

Don’t know what you’re going to do this weekend? I have a few suggestions:

Change a life. Buy a book for a boy in prison (thanks to all at Guys Lit Wire!)

Read Jezebel’s review of Wintergirls.

Read this jaw-dropping interview with A. S. Byatt in which she discusses her new book, The Children’s Book, a novel set in Edwardian England that examines the destructive side of creativity. (For the record, I usually like her books a lot and am looking forward to this one.) In the interview she says some rather stunning things, such as, “Yes, because I noticed that there’s a high rate of suicide among the children of children’s book writers.”

And “I think that most of the children’s writers live in the world that they’ve created, and their children are kind of phantoms that wander around the edge of it in the world, but actually the children’s writers are the children.”

In the first comment, I believe she is speaking only within the context of children’s writers from the Edwardian era, but the second comment seems more general. Any thoughts on this, gentle readers? (The book is available in the UK and Australia now, comes out in the States in October.) (And thanks to Judith in Australia for the info about this!)

That ought to hold you for a couple days.

ONE LAST THING!!! Do you have any secret ingredients you put in deviled eggs? If yes, please tell me what they are!

PS – GoogleLitTrips has a very nice feature on FEVER 1793. Check it out, teachers!