Six on Saturday – April 21, 2018

These are my Six on Saturday. The plants seem to believe that Spring is here.

  1. The Angelique tulips on the far side of this bed are just getting ready to bloom. There’s also a clump in the foreground.  They are a peony tulip and it looks like each bulb sent up several blooms. I think the pink and yellow tulips are a Darwin variety.

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2. The grass is greening up. I had to get the mower out and make a couple of passes where it was getting too tall. Repairing a grassy area that was full of Green Kyllinga (Kyllinga gracillima) last fall is on the agenda this afternoon if the lawn is dry enough. I sprayed it in the fall with  Sedgehammer which killed it, but I hadn’t realized there was so little grass. I’m not a lawn fanatic by any means. I’ll never get rid of the wiregrass (an uncultivated form of Bermuda grass that is just an evil weed in the Mid-Atlantic), but I don’t like the bald patches of dirt.

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3. Miniature hostas define a seating area on one side of my house. I always forget where the perimeter is in the winter, but the hostas, which get about 6″ tall, let me know. I put two Adirondack chairs in this area facing toward the back of the property so I can sit and enjoy the garden. The chairs are still behind the shed and it’s too wet to get them out. My father built them for me over 50 years ago. They are cedar and we have reinforced them several times, but amazingly they are still functional.

The cord of wood was delivered last week. It has to be wheelbarrowed (once the yard dries out) to the back of the shed where it will be stacked under roof and continue drying for next fall’s fires. To the left of the wood pile are white arches make of plastic electrical conduit. They are 16′ long and slip over pieces of rebar I pounded into the ground.  Originally there were four arches but I took them down this year when we were hauling debris from the back of the lot. When I put them back up it occured to me I could cross them over which might make a better foundation for annual vines like hyacinth beans. I’ll see what happens.

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4. I managed to get three raised beds ready for seeding before the latest rain. The one at the end has some transplanted kale that wintered over. I had to move it from another bed so I could dig it before planting. The other end has some iris I didn’t know what to do with last fall.

I have two more raised beds at the Community Garden. One bed is ready for  my tomatoes which are still in the garage waiting for warmer night weather when I will put them outside in the shade for a couple of weeks before planting them. We are still about twenty degrees lower than the normal temperatures for this time of year. The bed on the right in the foreground is garlic I planted last fall.

In the bed on the left (foreground) I found some sprouts of the Yellow Finn potatoes I planted last spring. There were ten seed potatoes in the bag and I didn’t get much of a harvest. They were, however, delicious. Perhaps I’ll do better with the babies I missed when digging the parents. I moved a few to corral them all in the same area. I still have to dig the rest of the bed.

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5. The epimedium blooms don’t last long, but are lovely pop of color. Wikipedia tells me that epimedium, also known as barrenwort, bishop’s hat, fairy wings, horny goat weed, or yin yang huo, is a genus of flowering plants in the family Berberidaceae. Mine has new leaves with reddish copper coloring. The leaves then turn green and are leathery by summer. Deer don’t like them and the plants spread. These are under a River Birch and tolerate dry shade.

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6. The first azalea is blooming. I think this one is a Lavender Lady. Many of my azaleas  began with plants my mother gave me. She started with a few plants and began to propogate them by air layering. Twenty years later she had an acre of azaleas of all varieties in a beech wood in rural Pennsylvania. Locally she was known as the Azalea Lady. One year, on my May birthday, she brought me a trunkload of azalea plants from her garden that bloomed on my special day. Babies of many of those plants, including this Lavender Lady, were brought as tiny plants from our old house to the new one in St. Michaels twelve years ago. I don’t air layer on the woody stems as my mother did, but if there is a low branch I pin it down to the soil and propogate new babies that way.

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That’s my six for Saturday. I’m not sure that Spring is finally here, but the plants believe it is.

Write on Wednesday – April 18, 2018

It was a trip to Key West that made me begin to wonder about what is considered writing. I was taking my daily early morning walk from one end of Duval to the other, skirting the guys out power washing the sidewalks from the drunken excesses of the night before.

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At least that’s what I thought they must be doing. My husband and I don’t do Duval after 8pm so maybe Key West shop owners just like really clean sidewalks in front of their stores.

It was the t-shirt shops that caught my attention. There are words on most of those t-shirts and somebody has to write them.  I tried to imagine when I would wear a shirt that proclaimed “Don’t Be a Pussy, Eat One.”

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Okay, maybe that’s a gender specific t-shirt (or maybe not), but you get the picture. And that was tame compared to some. You’d have to be pretty drunk to buy these shirts and even drunker to wear them in public. My question is “are t-shirt slogans writing?”

That made me think of greeting cards. Okay. Maybe not literary, but it is writing, right? Romance novels? You betcha! My first novel was paranormal suspense. Definitely not literary, but I’ll stick up for Romance Writers. Writing doesn’t have to be literary. Blogs. Sure, blogs are writing. But, what about texts with abbreviated words? Twitter?

I rarely read literary ficiton any more – still getting over being an English major in college, although I am recently dipping into poetry. I read almost solely for pleasure and relaxation so thinking too hard when reading doesn’t work for me any more. That said, being reduced to reading  t-shirt slogans on my Kindle would be a special kind of Hell. However, reading autocorrect fails is hilarious.

I suppose it all comes down to words and intention. One word, written with intention is writing. Even if it’s on a t-shirt.

Note: This post was originally published on April 30, 2012.

 

Six on Saturday – April 14, 2018

  1. This week I took a bus trip to Lewes, Delaware to view the blooms of this small town’s Tulip Festival. The cold spring had not cooperated with a trip that was planned nine months ago. There were some tulips, however, with many more in bud. I believe this particular tulip should be called Georgia O’Keefe.

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2. We have now had several days where the temperature hit 60 degrees Farenheit. Soon I will be able to move my tomato babies outside during the day. I transplanted them last week into larger pots, then left them in the cool garage. They seem to be settling in and are not as floppy as they were a few hours after being transplanted. Note: On Friday I set them outside in the shade to begin hardening them off for planting in my raised beds.

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3.  Late last fall when all the maple leaves were down, I had someone come and blow them out of the flower beds and the grass and mulch them. They were then deposited in wire cages around my garden. I spread most of the mulched leaves last fall and some are by my compost bins to use as “brown” matter. There are just two bins like this left to spread. I didn’t use all the bins and think I might cut pieces from the wire netting and put it in the spots I believe the rabbits are using to get under my shed.

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4.  I have four rainbarrels on my shed and putting them back in place is on my to-do list for next week. I take them down in the fall because if there’s water inside them it will freeze and crack the plastic barrels. The barrels came from the winery in town and are food grade. I put soaker hoses on them in the summer that lead out to the closest flower beds. It’s amazing how much water we get off our small shed.

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5. This weekend is the Daffodil Festival in St. Michaels, the town I live in. At the Woman’s Club we planted 600 bulbs last fall. They look quite nice. There were several kinds of bulbs in the bags we got, so these are Dunno Natacluevia.The abelia bushes on the left get cut back every two years. They don’t seem to mind one bit.

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6. Yesterday the garden group of the Woman’s Club met to make May baskets. We are two weeks early, but spring is a busy time in our small town and this is when we could fit it in. We worked outside and it was almost 80 degrees and sunny. We soaked up the sun and the warmth. Everyone was happy to take home a bright reminder that spring is finally here after what seemed an endless winter.

I remember making May baskets as a child. We’d fold a paper plate in half, staple it several places and insert tulips or daffodils. Then a ribbon would be added and we would hang it on a neighbors door on May 1.

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That’s my six on Saturday, April 14, 2018, a meme started by The Propogator. If you’d like to join in, this is a link to the rules.

 

 

Write on Wednesday – April 11, 2018

A week ago today Laura Ambler and I met with Julianna Skluzacek, Artistic Director of the Merlin Players in Faribault, Minnesota.

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The Merlin Players produced The Santa Diaries in 2014 and reached out to us about writing another Christmas show for them. Laura came up with the brilliant idea of writing the original cast of characters but five years later.

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We wrote a spec arc in October 2017 and sent it to Julianna.  We began working in earnest on the arc of the play on November.  Julianna put the spec arc before their board and it was accepted as their 2018 Christmas show. Laura and I began writing two or three days a week (for a couple of hours) and by mid January we had a first act. We forwarded it to Julianna just to make sure we were on the same page. She loved it.

Julianna knew she was coming east in the spring and we set a date to meet. On March 5th we sent her the first draft.

When we met last week we read the play out loud. Juliana had a few notes, and some minor suggestions which were easy to fix. Everyone who played the original parts is coming back to reprise the characters. That helped with the writing because we knew the strengths of the actors. One of them hoped there would be another rap song. We had a song but hadn’t thought about making it a rap. Easily done and it made the play better. Julianna said the kid who had played the imaginary Marley dog who was Timmy’s companion hoped he would have a part in the new play. It was a discussion Laura and I had several times and just couldn’t make it work. Julianna had an idea about how to accomplish making sure this character from the first play made it into the second. And it made the play better.

When we were finished we took Julianna to lunch, had a bottle of wine and celebrated. We’ll be going to Minnesota in December to see the premier of A Christmas Wedding, The Santa Diaries 11.

The day after we met with Julianna, Laura and I worked for two hours and made the needed tweaks. The following day I printed out the play again and read it for any necessary typos, etc. Laura fixed those, formatted the script and it was sent off to Julianna.

When I look back on the writing arc of this project I see that steady chunks of time got us to the finish line. Laura and I usually wrote three days a week for about two hours. We quit when our brains weren’t firing on all cylinders. But if we had let this project drift until we were two weeks away from the deadline, we wouldn’t have written the same play. The small changes to dialogue or bits of business for an actor that expanded their character would be missing — those serendipitous ideas that waken you in the middle of the night or while you’re driving.

We are so proud of what we’ve accomplished and can’t wait for December to see it on its feet.

 

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – April 7, 2018

We’ve been having some beautiful sunrises. This was last week over my neighbors house. I love the lace of the unleafed trees against the sky.

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Our lot has six huge old silver maples on it. They are considered weedy trees, but they give us shade and are one of the reasons we bought this house. I wanted mature trees.  A previous owner planted daffodils, fragrant hostas and sedum between two of the trees.  The deer like those hostas, too. You can see the as yet uncollected piles of debris I pulled off the Autumn Joy sedums. Collecting yard trash was on my to do list yesterday but we had an unexpected dinner guest which was much more fun. That required picking up debris inside the house.

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As much as I love these silver maples, they require yard upkeep. They produce seeds that turn into helicopters which then float down and cover the yard. The worst part is that the helicopters insert themselves into the spaces between the boards on our back deck. Removing them requires a hands and knees effort. The baby seeds are already on the trees. When they are large and dried out, they fly and really do twist and turn like helicopters. I’ll look at this photo every once in a while to remind myself how beautiful they are as babies.

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Finally some tulips. Many more in bud. I keep spraying with Deer Away and so far so good. The deer like the blooms. One day you have a bed full of tulips and the next morning every single bloom is gone.

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These daffodils quickly make huge clumps that must be divided. I don’t know where they came from, but I keep dividing them and they are now in many places around the house. There are even a few coming up in the grass where the squirrels must have planted them.

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And finally some eye candy. A bloom on an early magnolia spotted on an early morning walk in my neighborhood . The pale pink on the interior of the bloom is divine. I wouldn’t have gotten this photo without the macro lens. Thanks again, Fred.

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These are my Six on Saturday. See The Propogator for the ground rules if you’d like to join in the fun.

Write on Wednesday – How My Blog Began

This was my first blog post from April 25, 2012. Hard to believe I have been posting for six years. I’ve gotten more focused recently with a gardening focused post on Saturday and a writing post on Wednesday. Next up — Food on Friday. That may or may not happen. This is the season when writing and gardening vie for attention.

Laura Ambler & Mala Burt 9-19-12

April 25, 2012

Laura Ambler, my writing partner, and I were sitting in a Blogging workshop given by Mindie Burgoyne. Mindie said setting up a blog was super easy. Laura leaned over and whispered, “We should start a blog about our writing insecurities.”

“Oh, you mean like how I see life through a distorted body image lens?” I whispered back. (I used to be a clinical social worker so sometimes I talk like that.)

“You’re just neurotic about your body,” Laura said. “It has nothing to do with your writing.”

“It has everything to do with my writing. What if we sell one of our scripts and it gets made into a movie and we have to attend the Hollywood premier? I’d have to lose forty pounds before I could even look for a gown, ” I said.

“You’re just nuts,” Laura said. “But I bet there are other writers out there who are just as insecure as we are. Let’s start a blog called Does This Font Make Me Look Fat? It would be hilarious!”

Actually creating the blog has not been so hilarious. Mindie lied about the easy part. I spent an hour trying to figure out how to change the tag line. I’m still looking for a new headline font. Something puffy and fat. This font is way too skinny.

So, let’s hear from the neurotic, but talented writing community. Your fears, foibles and how you deal.