Monday, July 20, 2015

Rambling: The Pencil Speaks

(A few weeks ago, I had a pencil. I had paper. I applied the one to the other. The following appeared.)

Now and then I think that I'd like to be able to write on paper. ("How quaint!") And I do, as I am now, and my hand starts to cramp about two sentences in, as it is now.

But lately I've been planning The Farm, not really a farm but a roughly five thousand square foot vegetable garden divided into 120 4' by 6' blocks (the difference between that and the five thousand feet is paths and rounding error) that I plan and plan and plan, drawing those 120 blocks in graph paper and noting and erasing crops.

Um. Anyway. That's the sort of task that I would normally do in a drawing program, or a list program, but doing it on paper seems to be...different. In a hard-to-describe but nevertheless good way. And I wondered if writing on paper ("How quaint!") might also be different-in-a-good-way.

One thing that I already see as different is the fact that I felt the need to offer context for The Farm. My inability to link to something that explains it, to link to it here and now, seems to drive me to explain. And that's good, because I've been thinking that blog writing has the flaw of not requiring me to make my writing contain its own context.

However, my hand still hurts.

You know those computerized writing analysis thingies, that analyze your writing's grade level or try to guess whether the writer is male or female, that sort of thing? It would be interesting to compare my on-paper writing ("How...") with writing composed on the computer. Of course, I'd have to transcribe the paper writing into the computer, probably restraining the urge to edit it in the process.

Hand: Ow.

There's also the fact that my handwriting is simply dreadful. I think that I will be able to read this in a week, but I'm not sure.

I'm writing this in pencil, on the theory that I want to be able to erase. But I notice that I'm not erasing. I'm making few corrections, and those are being done with cross-outs, not erasures. This is a large change from my computer writing, where I backspace and correct constantly--usually because of typos, but the ease of correction also results in a lot of word and phrase changes.

Now, I'm writing nonfiction here. What I really want to write is fiction. So I suppose that part of my hope it that paper writing will somehow make the fiction writing easier. I have no idea how or why that would work, but a change always has some sort of effect, and those effects could always be good.

I find, just in these almost-two pages (ow) so far, that I am pausing to clarify phrases that I would normally charge right through on the computer. I don't know why.

However, I also find myself thinking of Willow on Buffy saying, "It's not magic, it's science. You can tell because it's so damn slow." This quaint writing is slow.

I don't actually know if that quote is accurate, because, interestingly, I didn't look it up, despite having Google right here on my phone. I think that's also related to the paper writing, but I'm not sure why.

If I'm going to make a habit of this, I think I'm going to need a clipboard. I'm sitting at a window table in the lobby of the Crater Lake hotel, and while the view is lovely, I'd rather be outside on the rocking chairs, but to do that I'd need a harder surface than this squishy notebook.

I also notice that with the paper writing I feel conspicuous in a vaguely pleasant way, as if I belong in the scene, while when I write in public on a laptop or tablet I feel conspicuous in an unpleasant way. A reporter's notebook would also be logical, but it seems that I like the larger page. All those itty bitty pages tend to have me flipping back to see what I said last, while on a big page, I don't flip back at all, which is vaguely strange, since surely the first paragraph on a new page would require the same flipping?

Interesting. I notice that as I go along, my paragraphs are getting longer. Why is that?

Except for that one, of course. And this one.

Will I, I wonder, edit this on paper? Should I allow that, or is the experiment about my first drafts?

With the farm plan, I've noticed that I make only so many changes, and then I redraw the whole thing. The same for lists of things to do. I doubt that I'll rewrite entire narratives, but of course if I didn't have a computer, I'd have to, right? I'd presumably write or type on a typewriter, scribble corrections, rewrite with the corrections incorporated, repeat. Is that experiment worth trying?

Maybe. But not today.

(Short paragraph again.)

It's possible that I'm also writing at greater length, though it's hard to tell until I see how long this is on a screen. On the computer, I tend to declare "That is all." as soon as I encounter an empty brain, while on paper...is it that the slower pace makes me more tolerant of temporary emptiness, or is it that the slow process of writing leaves my brain with spare horsepower to think ahead of the current sentence?

It is a different process. In that last sentence, I had thought ahead to the end of the sentence by the time I got to the "or" of "or is it." But (but? and?) the sentence got rewritten many times in my head before it ended. But never rewritten "backwards"--the words ahead adjusted themselves to the words already written.

That reduction in flexibility ought to be bad, but perhaps it's good. Perhaps the greatest creativity doesn't come from leaving all your options open all the time.

For (further) example, if I were writing this on the computer, I would realize that the discussion of the last two paragraphs depends on the understanding that I am a very fast typist (>110 WPM last time I checked) so a sentence travels from brain to work so fast that that rewrite doesn't happen. I do that all the time--realize that I haven't totally prepared the ground for my point, and I prepare it a little more, and a little more, by rearranging and adding to what I've already written. On paper? Not going to happen. Preparation is in theory good, but maybe in practice it's a little too studied, too tidy?

I'm experiencing brain blankness now, after four and a half pages. Can I tolerate it? Perhaps. (And the back of my brain notices that I didn't start a new paragraph here when normally I would. Why?) I should break away and attempt fiction. Perhaps that--breaking away--will be part of paper writing. After all, this is a typing session away from being "done", so perhaps the "That is all." pressure is reduced there, too--I can't have the satisfaction of "done" so I'm no driven toward it.

I am feeling an odd craving--perhaps I should say oddly strong craving--to put on headphones and listen to music while handwriting. Ah, yes, that is the term. Better than "writing on paper" or "quaint writing" and for some reason I resist the obvious "writing by hand." Handwriting. I ignore the fact that it's usually a noun. Or...well...you know what I mean, yes?

Blankness. But surprisingly my hand doesn't hurt. I also observe, for what it's worth, that I seem to like a .9mm automatic pencil lead for writing, rather than the .7 that I thought I liked. .7 breaks too often. .9 doesn't break at all.

I want that clipboard. I want to lean back and write on my knee but it won't work. I'm reminded of the scene in Men in Black where all the applicants are trying to fill out the forms.

Outside the window people are rearranging the rocking chairs and drink tables. I don't now why this feels...Oh, maybe Will Smith moving the table. In Men in Black. See previous paragraph.

I seem to be free-associating in pencil. Interesting. I thought that was dependent on fast typing.

I eat chocolate. And now my mind drifts to the things that I should do and want to do and intend to do but don't do when things get stressful. Things like avoiding sugar. And writing. And reading instead of reading fascinating but un-productive online forums. Why is my mind going there? Maybe I'm finding this handwriting (hand-writing?) thing to be meditative.

Fiction. Fiction. It wants to bubble up, but it's rather like the time when, as a medium-small child, I gathered together a mess of things--string and perhaps paper clips and batteries?--and stated my intent to "invent something." But I had no idea what. It was a powerful, optimistic desire to create, with absolutely nothing behind it. (Buffy describing a martial arts move: "What's powering it? Sheer enthusiasm?")

There are people in my head. Anastasia and Amelia and Emily and Henry and Jane and that woman who's too much like my mother. I ought to write them doing...whatever. But I feel the urge for a plot. Lovejoy has a plot, but I suspect that...

I stop. I stop because all of the above requires context that's missing, and when hand-writing that apparently bothers me.

I stall. I look at the lake. I wait for the emptiness to fill. Or maybe it's not emptiness, maybe I wait for the fog to clear. Yes, there was fog this morning, obscuring the lake.

(And that was all.)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Farming: Ow.

I have any number of long-handled gardening tools. A collinear hoe, two hula hoes, a rake, a weird claw thing for roughing up dirt that, I discover, doesn't work nearly as well for that purpose as the hula hoes. All the same, gardening seems to involve a lot of crouching, and then my muscles hurt and I have to take a hot hot hot bath and they're still there, slightly mollified but demanding "What did you DO to us?"

That may be the first time I've ever used the word mollified.

Yes, this is probably going to be one of those free-association posts.

I just prepped seventy-two square feet of garden bed, which would be thoroughly unimpressive if I'd used the tiller, but I didn't, because the tiller seems to be tilling really shallowly. So I hand-dug. Ow.

I didn't double dig. I just read in The Four Season Gardener's Cookbook that an alternative to double digging is to use a... uh...hang on while I try to find the page...

A broadfork, that's it. The page was easy to find because the book joined me in the bathtub, so that page is a bit rumpled.

So, anyway, seventy-two square feet. With a shovel, not a broadfork. I just learned about broadforks. One shovel depth. Three four by six blocks. I discovered last weekend, which was the first time I planned to dig that area, that dryfarming may be all very well for growing some crops, but it does not leave the soil in a diggable state...

My spell checker thinks that when I type "diggable" I really mean "dig gable." Just so you know.

...diggable state, so yesterday I let a soaker hose drizzle over it for a couple of hours and today it was in reasonably nice shape. Sprinkle fertilizer (organic, natural materials, stinky), spread compost (organic, natural materials, including bat guano, also stinky), dig, shove the dirt clods around with the hula hoe until they mostly give up, re-cover with weed barrier. Yay. I sort of wish I'd taken a photo, but oh well.

So, taking credit for anything that has so much as broken ground as a seedling, the garden is growing Blacktail Mountain watermelons, Costata Romanesco zucchini, Armenian Slicing cucumbers, Candystick Dessert Delicata winter squash, some kind of peas, Bright Lights chard, Red Russian kale, Early Girl and Sweet 100 and Sungold and San Marzano tomatoes,  Bountiful Bush beans, Blue Lake beans, Nevada and Tennis Ball and Adriana and Freckles lettuce, Bull's Blood beets, some kind of basil, some kind of dill, red komatsuna, some really sad blueberries from the time that I was in denial about acid soil, some thriving blackcurrant, Copra onions, some forgotten kind of strawberries, Quinalt strawberries, Purple Peacock sprouting broccoli, parsley, chives, tarragon, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, Howden pumpkins, Orange Rave pumpkins, some kind of zinnia, Art Deco zinnia, and some kind of cosmos.

So there.

Believe it or not, it all looks kind of sparse. The first planting of several things failed, and the second planting is debating whether to go past the seedling stage.

Within a week I also plan to plant three kinds of bunching onions, a few kinds of sunflowers, one more kind of zinnia, a couple more kinds of lettuce, Bear Necessities kale, and those peas that supposedly can be grown in summer. When I prep more ground for the winter garden, I'll put in Purple Sprouting broccoli and Purple Cape cauliflower. Probably. They're for overwintering; you cut little sprouty things, sort of like broccoli raab, in winter and spring.

When the fall/winter rains start I'll prep areas for raspberries and blueberries and roses and more strawberries. French gray shallots and garlic will go in around this time, too, though they may need to go in before the rains. Some perennial flowers will probably go in where the zinnia and cosmos and sunflowers are this summer.

And like that.

Meanwhile, ow.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Gardening: Salads in the drought

So, it's getting warm, and we're expecting a drought. Lettuce doesn't like either of those things. So I'm trying to grow salad greens that aren't lettuce. Or spinach. Or mache. Or arugula. Or any of those other things that have the phrase "cool season" on their seed packets. So I'm trying other things.  I don't know if anyone but me cares, but, hey, let's write!

I bought a six-pack of...er...Bright Lights? chard at the Grange. I wasn't ready for it, so it sat around and sat around, and then I planted six plants of it in six poorly-prepared holes. Not six of the little six-pack cubes; there were at least two plants per cube, so I ripped the poor things apart. Then I treated the space as dryfarm, not watering it after the first couple of days, and waited for them to die.

They sat still, but remained barely green-and-red, for a few weeks. Then they abruptly put out new leaves and said, "Pbbbbblt!" So I planted another six, because it was a twelve-plant block and the rest of the six-pack was making me feel guilty. They put out new leaves, too. That block is one of the happiest looking in the farm.

So chard appears to tolerate the dryfarm thing very nicely. I just hope I like how it tastes in a salad.

I planted some Red Russian Kale in December, then transplanted two of the plants to a three-foot spacing in April and treated them only fractionally better than the chard. They're healthy happy little fountains of leaves now, despite the cabbage moths circling them, and their seedling bed is essentially a solid block of kale leaves. Unfortunately, none of the leaves are a suitable texture for salad.

So I sent off for Bear Necessities kale, which supposedly produces "finely serrated frilly kale with a tender texture" that should work in salads. We'll see.

But what to do with the Red Russian? I would swear that I remember enjoying some kale cooked with butter and onions, but I did that to this kale, and it was...eh. I'd eat it for manners, but I wouldn't choose it. I could keep it around until it bolts and eat the...raab? Rapini? but I think I'd have to wait until next spring. I'll wait and see what happens with the few square feet of the seedling bed, anyway.

Beet greens are supposed to work in salads, so I'm going to try to grow Shiraz and Bull's Blood. However, if I don't like chard I'm not likely to like beet greens, and vice versa. They're family.

I do like beets, though. It's not as if leaves are the only thing you can put in a salad. Really, it would be sensible for me to make my hot-weather salads out of cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, beets, and such. But I need leaves. I was raised on Iceberg; my flexibility has its limits.

I'm planting some scorzonera, aka black salsify, for the cold weather lettuce gap, not the hot weather one. Supposedly the salsify roots put out green leaves in winter, leaves suitable for salad. It occurs to me that I read about this in Carol Deppe's book and that she was doing breeding work at the time; I should see if she released anything. Edited to add: Anything salsify-like, that is. She's released lots of things.

Speaking of Carol Deppe, her latest book refers to Oregon Giant Sugar Pod Peas in the "eat-all greens" section. It appears that you can grow this for pea tendrils, snow peas, and sugar snap peas. And that you can grow it in the summer. I ordered half a pound of seed, to play.

I've been curious about shungiku,  a chrysanthemum grown for its leaves, for a while, and "salad" and "plant until summer" finally decided me. We're not far from summer, but I'll give it a try.

Unfortunately the other Asian greens that I ordered--an unnamed Komatsuna, Green Wave mustard, "Misome Hybrid", and Luck Dragon Pak Choi--all refer to cool temperatures. Grumble.

And I forgot to order leaf radishes. Or I couldn't find them.

I should also grow some nasturtiums; I know how to grow those and have a faint memory of how they taste.

Um.

That is all.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Rambling: Rambling

So I made hard-boiled eggs so that when I have those "I'm hungry!" moments at home, I'd have something healthier than chips around. Not healthy, but not as bad as a snack can be.

Tonight it occurred to me that I had everything I needed to make deviled eggs, and promptly made two of the eggs as bad a snack can be. Well, sort of. I'm sure a snack can be worse. For example, the deviled eggs had no sugar in them. Except for whatever might have been in the mayonnaise.

Mmm, mayonnaise.

I never used to like mayonnaise as a kid. In fact, I hated it, along with mustard and liver and other scarey "I've never tasted it but I know I hate it!" foods. Now I like it far, far more than I should.

What's my point here? I don't seem to have one. This post is, really, just rambling.

Orphan Black is back. I'm not sure how I feel about...um...how do I say this without writing a spoiler? OK, I'll just say I'm not sure about the increased percentage of male characters. I rather liked the fact that Orphan Black might not have passed the reverse Bechdel test. It's not that I object to male characters, but a truly female-centered show is a pretty rare thing.

The "farm" is coming along nicely. Last weekend I planted thirty-five strawberry plants. And thirty-nine bean "spots"--I plant a group of two or three seeds at each carefully-measured location. And eighteen, or twenty-four, or something like that, "greens" plants. (Six each of two kinds of komatsuna, bok choy, and lettuce.) And some lettuce and beet and basil seed, several little four-foot-long furrows. And a sprinkling of dill.

I haven't planted the melon, cucumber, pumpkin, zucchini, or delicata seeds. I theoretically have the ground prepared for some of them, but I'm not sure if I'm satisfied with it.

I'm hoping to gear the farm up to support a daily salad. We'll see how that works out. Right now, there's a nice backlog of lettuce growing out there--twelve full-size heads and maybe another two dozen little ones, not counting what I just planted. But the warm temperatures are taking us out of prime lettuce season.

There's also the komatsuna, and the beets will produce greens, and so will the kale. I'm not sure if that will be a workable salad or not. And how about purslane? I've never eaten purslane; I'm pretty sure it's that stuff that's growing as a weed in part of the garden. And of course there's no law against the un-leafy salad vegetables. Cucumbers, zucchini, and so on. Assuming I get them planted.

We just ate the first ripe and not-bug-gnawed strawberry. Yay!

That is all.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Garden: No cheese


I don't know what kind of salad it is, I'm eating a salad, okay? I'm doing it, do I have to know the names? There's no difference between them, it's a bowl of weeds. Some of them have cheese. This isn't the kind with cheese. Does that answer your question?
Toby Ziegler, West Wing

The garden is producing food! Hah!

No, it didn't produce those walnuts. Or the cranberry raisinesque things. But the greens, yep yep. And there's a wad of kale in the fridge waiting for me to remove all of its health benefits by cooking it with butter and onions. Mmmm.

Um.

I'm going to eat my bowl of weeds now. Possibly more later.

Photo: Mine.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Rambling: More Onions

Planted, that is. Another ninety-six onions, for a total of...er...240 onions in the ground. And the heap of seedlings waiting to be planted doesn't look appreciably smaller. I need to remember next year that Territorial is crazy generous in the number of onion plants per bundle.  The remainder are likely to end up being trashed.

I should say "being composted" but we didn't include a compost heap in the farm.  (For any new readers, "the farm" is a roughly 70 foot by 70 foot vegetable garden. We're used to much smaller gardens, hence the grand name.) I was going to have a "compost row," a row on which I dump all the clippings and thinnings and weeds, in a thin layer over the whole row. I read about this somewhere.  But then I put fabric over everything.

Well, almost everything. Which was the other accomplishment of the day--covering most of the last major areas waiting to be covered. At least, the areas ready to be covered.The blueberry row is still waiting to be amended with sulfur in a perhaps futile hope of making it sufficiently acid by next year, before I cover it.  (Oh. I guess I could make that the compost row?) The pumpkin row wants to be amended with manure before I plant the pumpkin seeds for this year.  The rectangle where the previous blueberries died needs to be cleared.

Himself is proceeding on the irrigation system--a central PVC spine with twelve outlets for the twelve four-foot-wide rows, each with a manual valve so that we can decide whether that row gets watered or not. This year, three rows will be "wet"--they'll get regular irrigation, though we're still going with wide plant spacing and planning to water infrequently and deeply with drippers. Six will be dryfarmed, though I'm going to cheat and irrigate two honeyberry bushes in the front two blocks of one, if I can get the honeyberry bushes now and can't find reassurance that I can get them in the fall.

The remaining three rows will get their permanent plants in the fall, when the rainy season starts, though two will probably be used for further dryfarming experiments meanwhile. The third is that blueberry row, which will mostly just sit around mellowing, then get blueberry bushes in late winter or early spring. I suppose I could grow some sort of acid-tolerant crop there meanwhile.

Why all this detail? I have no idea. Apparently I just want to garden ramble again.

I currently have six edible crops planted (snap peas, lettuce, kale, currants, strawberries, and onions) and no ornamentals. (In the farm. There are still flowers at the house.) Well, except for some tulips popping up in the future pumpkin row. I sort of wish that I'd put in some sweet peas, but I suspect it's too late now.  I'll have to wait for the zinnias that I'm tentatively going to plant in the flower row. And, oh, hey, I could plant a block of nasturtiums. You can eat those, after all. And I suspect they'll tolerate dryfarming.

I was going to put in roses early this year, but then the year turned freakishly warm, the rains stopped freakishly early, and the moment passed--even if I'm dryfarming roses, they need to go into reasonably moist soil. I would plant them anyway and plan to water for a few weeks, but I heard that the expected water shortage is looking even worse than previously anticipated. So the roses, raspberries, perennial flowers, blueberries, and planned shrubs for the back are all going to wait for fall, settle in in the winter rains, and adjust slowly to limited water next year. The perennial herbs will be planted soon; they'll have to take their chances.

I want to eat something out of the garden, as proof that I'll eat from the garden. There's enough lettuce for a dozen big salads; we could eat some of that tomorrow, along with some little kale leaves and maybe some fava leaves, because i just looked up whether I can eat fava leaves and, yay! websites say I can.

My automatic spellchecker is absolutely positive that I mean to say "lava."

I mentioned at the top of this post that I should remember Territorial's generosity, but in addition, I should remember to grow my own onion seedlings. I find it oddly fascinating to have grown my own lettuce and kale seedlings--for some reason, I've always bought those as plants. I think that I thought it was hard to get lettuce to sprout--maybe because of all that fuss about how the seed needs light.

However, all that eagerly sprouting lettuce was a bit problematic to transplant, and the transplanted lettuce is still at seedling size, presumably due to the need to recover from the shock,  while the originals back in the seedbed are big enough to eat. I suspect that I'm going to want to leave one block of open ground in a 'wet' row to not only seed, but grow out, my lettuce. That means that I'll have to (shudder) weed. Oh, well. Eventually I'll want to grow potatoes and carrots, and I suspect they'll need open ground, too.

I ordered a packet of purple sprouting broccoli seeds. This is a form of broccoli that you plant in warm weather--different sources suggest times varying between May and September--and then leave growing, in fits and starts, all winter. In spring it's supposed to grow enthusiastically and put out a lot of broccoli-esque sprouts, which you cut and eat over a reasonably long harvest period. The winter Territorial catalog had several kinds of sprouting broccoli, but now they're all sold out, which confuses me, because you don't plant them in winter. But so be it; I ordered my purple sprouting broccoli seed elsewhere, and have moderate hope that it will work.

Um.

That seems to be all. I'll let you know how the lava leaves taste.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rambling: Blah de blah de blah. And onions.

Look! It's me! Writing another post!

About. Something.

Something or other.

A thing.

Um.

Oh! Hey! The onions came! Copra onion seedlings. From Territorial. Five bunches, at "4-6 dozen" plants per bunch. So, 240 to 360 plants. That's a little alarming.

Let's continue the math. Territorial's recommended spacing is four inches apart. If we're assuming that's in both directions, that would be sixteen square inches of ground per onion. I plan to, instead, plant four plants per hole (you can plant multiple seedlings per hole with onions, which is handy for minimizing holes in the weed barrier) in holes eighteen inches apart in each direction.

That would give me eighty-one square inches per onion, or five times the recommended spacing. That seems good for the dry farming thing. Except Gardening Without Irrigation says that summer-grown onions need "abundant irrigation." Hmm. Dang. Now, one or two websites suggest that you can dryfarm onions--one suggests a six to eight inch spacing, and I'm providing more space than that. And another website says that Copra is more drought-tolerant than other varieties. So we'll see. Would cutting to three plants per hole (108 square inches per onion) improve my odds?

I have enough onions to experiment with both dry farming and irrigation. At twelve holes per six-foot planting block, four onions per hole, 240 to 360 plants is five to seven blocks. I could irrigate roughly half and dryfarm the other roughly-half.

I wanted to grow my own onion seedlings this year, but revamping the farm took too much of my lazy-gardener gardening time. Maybe next year.

Um.

That is all.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rambling: Day two! Look at that!

Look! I'm back!

Though not so much with something to say. I just wanted to post two days in a row to prove that I could.

Have you seen I, Zombie? I recently saw the pilot. I'm vaguely embarrassed at how much I like it. Though well-written silliness with extra snark tends to be the kind of thing that I do like. People are comparing it to both Buffy and Veronica Mars, so how could I not like it?

Um.

See, I have to finish this post by midnight to post two days in a row. And my brain just stopped.

The lettuce at the farm is doing well. Y'know, just to offer an update. I planted three kinds of lettuce, and Red Russian kale, under a roughly five foot by five foot swath of that frost-protection row cover, way back in December. I passed the point where I planned to transplant the itty bitty seedlings; they're pretty big seedlings now. I could probably start eating them.

The peas that I planted a little while ago are partly up. Eight out of twelve plants. I'm a little concerned that I may have failed to plant three of them, since three of the failures are all in a row.

I should plant more. Unless it's too late. I tend to forget to plant things until it's too late.

We're planning the irrigation for the farm, going back and forth, back and forth, between PVC and cheap plastic tubing. The plan is to dry farm most of it most of the time, but we want to have the irrigation infrastructure in place anyway.

Again the um.

That appears to be all.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Rambling: To book or not to book?

Whenever I post, I think, "I posted! I'm back in the groove! I'll post every day now!"

Not so much.

But here I am again, forcing myself to type something.

I've had a book idea, a nonfiction book idea. This is a good thing, because while I love having written fiction, I don't love writing fiction. And that doesn't seem to be getting better. I love writing nonfiction.

However, I find myself operating under the assumption that you have to have some sort of fancy schmancy expertise, directly relevant credentials, to write a nonfiction book. That is, to get it published. Is that true? I've been checking nonfiction books to see if it seems to be true.

For example, I just picked up Cool: How Air Conditioning Changed Everything, by Salvatore Basile. I haven't started reading it yet, so I can't tell you how it is, though it easily passed the page-through-and-read-some-paragraphs test. According to the bio whatsit on the book jacket, Salvatore Basile is a professional musician, "educated at the Boston Conservatory and The Juillard School." Those are certainly fancy, but they don't have much to do with air conditioning, or technology history. Now, when I check his website, it tells me that his first book was about music, which is an area where he has fancy expertise. So I'm not quite sure what to conclude.

I recently finished My Age of Anxiety, by Scott Stossel. It's about anxiety, and the history of anxiety and treatments and how people feel about it, and relates most of that to his life and his experiences, sort of back and forth and back and forth. It's good, by the way--I recommend it. Scott Stossel doesn't have fancy academic/medical credentials, but he has thoroughly fancy writing credentials--he's the editor (rather than "an" editor) of The Atlantic.

And I just started How to Be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis, about literary heroines, similarly relating the material to herself, back and forth, back and forth. (Also good.) She's a playwright and has some fancy-sounding writing credentials.

I've previously mentioned The Lost Art of Dress, by Linda Przybyszewski. Her website mentions all sorts of things and publications--about dress, vintage dress, law, and so on. There's also a picture of someone, I hope her, with a straw hat with cherries on it. I like that. She has a whole lot of fancy credentials; if I want evidence of people who don't, she's not the data point I'm looking for. But she does have a blog. It looks pretty cool.

So do I try to write the book? It would likely be historical and current information on my topic, a topic on which I have no credentials fancy or otherwise, always relating to me, back and forth, back and forth. You notice I'm not mentioning the topic. I'm still in that phase (did I say this somewhere in my last post?) where I have the illusion that the mere idea, alone, has value, and that if I reveal the idea I may as well forget it because someone smarter than me will leap on it. Once I get a look at how much work it will be to implement the idea, and how many different ways it could be implemented, I'll probably be perfectly happy to describe it.

That is all. But I'll post again any minute now.

Or at least in less than thirty days.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Rambling: Blah de blah

Um.

We went to a theater event, as we tend to, and talked to various members of the theater staff, and as usual after such events I had a sustained spasm of creative jealousy. Creative jealousy tends to make me stop, rather than ramp up, my creative efforts. I'm trying to keep it from doing that.

Said creative efforts remain unfocused. 

In the garden realm, I've received my Blacktail Mountain watermelon, my Armenian cucumber, and my Bountful bush bean, seeds. I was pleased to read that watermelons are a desert plant and are suitable for dryfarming. Who knew? Other websites are encouraging about cucumbers as well. 

I don't know if snap beans are a good choice for dry farming or not. When I check Gardening Without Irrigation by Steve Solomon, he's distinctly unenthusiastic about bush beans, saying that they have "puny roots'. He recommends pole beans instead. But building supports is one of the things that I am not doing this year. So no pole beans.

We're growing Blue Lake bush beans, even if we have to irrigate them.  But it might also be good to grow several other kinds of bush beans, as a test, in either the "freak vegetables" or "more vegetables" rows, and just watch to see if they live or die. If they all fail the same way, that tells me something. If they have varying responses, that tells me something else.  I could grow, oh, five blocks, two kinds per block, nine (wait, no, six) plants of each kind. Ten kinds of beans. That should produce some decent preliminary results.

Of course, there are other experiments I'd like to run. I want to taste some dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes, to see if they're as glorious as rumored. Yes, Early Girl--it's supposed to be one of the best, or perhaps the best, tomato for dry farming, despite the fact that I don't like its corporate parents. Joe Schirmer from Dirty Girl Produce is supposed to be working on an open-pollinated version, which would free it from that parentage. But Googling tells me that seeds aren't available yet, only a very small number of starts if you're in the right place at the right time.

I keep debating growing Sun Gold tomatoes, too, despite the fact that the two or three times we grew them, we didn't eat them, because we're too darn lazy to pick all those itty bitty things. I must restrain myself.

Another candidate for space in the Freak/Other Vegetable rows is zucchini, probably Costata Romanesco.  I have no use for the squash themselves; I want to eat the blossoms. But maybe friends would want the squash. Or the ducks. Not our ducks. Friends' ducks.

Quack.

Yes, I am sober. I'm just writing in a slightly more free-associationish way than usual.

In sewing, I'm working on my Liberty Shirt pattern. I already did a narrow shoulder adjustment and shortened the sleeves to be three-quarter length instead of too-long length. I'm planning to do a forward shoulder adjustment and lengthen the body. And after that, I may make an alternative sleeve with an inverted pleat, just as an experiment, to see if it gives me more arm movement or looks good or both. Starting at the sleeve cap and gathered in again at the "cuff". The shoulder would be much like the sleeve on the dress on this page, but the sleeve would be three-quarter length.

Writing? I had an idea, one that I'm chewing over. But otherwise, this blog is the extent of the writing.

That is all.