About Mala Burt

Mala Burt writes fiction and non-fiction, screen and stage plays.

Six on Saturday – A Retrospective – October 20, 2018

We still have no fall colors on the trees. The asters are blooming and the Sheffield mums are beginning to open. It has seemed like such an odd year in terms of weather that I thought I would go back through previous years to see what was happening in the garden during the third week in October.

1. 2018  The confused Vitex at the end of the drive is blooming AGAIN.

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2. 2017 – zebra grass in the early morning light.

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3. 2016  A good year for tomatoes and this was the last of them. I spread them out in the garage and processed them as they ripened. This year my tomotoes were okay, but nothing like this so I pulled the plants at the end of August and seeded fall crops.

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4. 2015   This photo was taken on 10-12-15 so a little earlier. The plant in the lower left is artemesia in shadow — turned blue by the morning light.

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5.  2014   – I’ve been complaining that the asters are late this year, but it turns out they are right on schedule. They bloomed the same week in 2014.

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6.  2013   This photo was taken on October 9, 2013. I have no idea why I would have covered the raised beds this early unless a frost was expected. Or perhaps it was to keep the leaves out of the beds although I doubt I would have been that industrious. There appear to be plants underneath the row covers.

The Brown Turkey fig tree in the background didn’t survive a subsequent winter. A shame as it was just getting to a size that would permit the squirrels to share with the gardener.

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It’s interesting to look back on the gardens as things fill in. Just to the left of the Direct TV antennae is a small red cedar. It is now 15 feet tall and fills that part of the garden bed along the fence.

That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

Write on Wednesday – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – October 17, 2018

The 2018-2019 season at Baltimore Center Stage started with a stellar production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. I hadn’t see it in years. The show was directed by actress Judith Ivy who has recently added directing to her resume.

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The Pearlstone Theater doesn’t have a traditional stage. There is no curtain so when you enter you and wait for the show to start you get to examine the set. And it never disappoints. This show takes place in the opulent bedroom/sitting room of Big Daddy Pollitt’s home situated on his 28,000 thousand acre plantation. At the back of the stage double doors open to an unseen outside terrace and on stage right there is a door that opens to a small room seen through a scrim. Actors enter stage right, stage left and through the back of the bedroom.

Here’s how the playbill summarizes the play.

In this enduring American classic, family ties and layers of lies collide over the course of one simmering Southern summer night. Themes of morality, greed, and desire play across the stage in this explosive drama about what can happen when illusions begin to unravel. Brick, racked with guilt over his best friend’s death, numbs his pain with drink. Maggie, his wife, is determined to win even fleeting attention from her neglectful husband. But when three generations come together to celebrate a birthday—and discuss a will—all of the players start to crack under the pressure and the heat. How long can tensions build in a house boiling over with uncertainty, secrets, and maybe even love?

Director Judith Ivy commented on what she wanted the audience to experience.
“I certainly want to honor much about the traditional interpretation of this play. But I guess if I were to put my own interpretation within that tradition, I see it as a love story. In some of the productions I’ve seen, the focus has seemed to be on how much these  people hated other, but I think they really love each other. It may be hard or complicated or even unspoken, but I think there’s real love in this play.”

Under her direction, the actors succeeded in showing us a glimmer of that love. You left the theater hoping, but I suspect that if we could have seen the story further unfold, we would have seen the secrets and the money win.

 

 

Six on Saturday – Where There’s a Will… – October 13, 2018

It is 55 degrees outside this morning and the furnace is running. Just a couple of dasy ago it was in the mid 80’s. I think fall is finally here although we are still waiting for the trees to show color.

Today there are five photos from my garden and one from Friday’s tour of a nearby commercial cucumber farm.

  1. I thought we would have to hire a crew of studly men to move the Jan Kirsh avocado sculpture, but my husband and I accomplished the feat in forty-five minutes with a mover’s dolly. I had been watching the track of Hurricane Michael and knew that if we got significant rain it would be weeks or months until we had an opportunity to move this heavy concrete sculpture. When it was installed the artist brought a crew of three men. Kirsh now makes these avocados out of resin so they are not so heavy. On the left, still wrapped for winter is the avocado sitting in the mud last May. On the right is the new location.

 

We’d originally installed it in the garden with the best view from the deck. But that is the garden that is increasingly full of water after heavy rains. And eight years later the sculpture had subsided and the red twig dogwood I planted as a backdrop had encroached. It needed to be moved.

I thought I knew where I wanted it to go, but after removing the river birch several weeks ago that open spot seemed perfect. It is a little higher and doesn’t stay soggy. The spot was thirty feet from where the sculpture had been placed and I was resigned to paying a crew to move it.

However, my mind is always in problem solving mode. I realized if we could get the avocado off the base and on to a mover’s dolly we might be able to pull it across the lawn. And on Tuesday morning we had a window. We’d had no rain for a week. The main piece of sculpture was gently rocked off the base onto a bag of unopened potting soil. We didn’t want to break it. We then moved the base and the large piece of bluestone the sculpture sat on to the new location. The avocado was trickier since it had one end that was heavier than the other. We padded the dolly, and levered the avocado on. My husband pulled and I steadied. And we were able to reasemble it in the new location. Yay for septuagenarians!

2. The heavy rains on Thursday night, the remnants of Hurricane Michael, filled the avocado. Before we have freezing temperatures I’ll need to empty it and wrap it for winter. The rain and wind brought down alot of branches from the silver maples. Lawn clean-up is in my future.

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3. I went out on Wednesday to take some photos before the predicted rain and saw at least six Monarch butterflies. They liked the remaining zinnias.

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4. Monarchs liked the tall asters, too.

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5.  A post-it note on a kitchen cupboard had been reminding me of a garden task. I wanted to put some small ferns in the area where the Naked Lady lilies come up so I would remember where they are. I’d flagged the area when the foliage died down and finally got  the ferns planted. I managed to damage some bulbs in the process. Oh, well. I don’t know where these ferns came from but they handle quite a bit of sun, don’t get too tall, but spread nicely.

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6. On Friday I traveled with a garden group to see a local cucumber farming operation which has two enormous greenhouses where they grow seedless English cucumbers. The flowers don’t need to be fertilized to produce fruit. The greenhouses were previously used to grow cut flowers but when the recession hit, people stopped buying cut flowers and the farmers had to find a new crop. These long cukes have very fragile skin and must be hand picked as do the grapes on another part of this farm. Commercial farming is hard work and expensive. This greenhouse is on a farm which has been in the same  family for five generations.

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That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Write on Wednesday – How My Writing Time Gets Sucked Up – October10, 2018

Today was the one day this week I had blocked out to work on the revision of my novel. All day!  Other days had room for an hour here, an hour there. Today was all day with the exception of an hour to go to a WW meeting and the grocery store.

The writing Gods did not cooperate, but it’s my fault.

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I knew I had a blog for The Santa Diaries. I just couldn’t find it. I hadn’t posted on it last year because there was no new production in 2017. Had it gotten archived or something? So I started a new blog using the same URL. And then pointed the URL to the new WordPress blog.  Big mistake. Now I had two blogs with the same URL and I only wanted the one pictured above. It has all the blog posts about previous productions of the play.

In the middle of last night I woke up and realized that I had a bunch of Rolodex cards clipped together for my WordPress accounts. And there was one for The Santa Diaries Project. Somehow this blog was opened with a different username and password than the account that holds my other blogs which was why I couldn’t find it.

I spent the morning on WordPress Chat with their Happiness Engineers. From around 9 a.m. to quarter to 11. First it took a long time for someone to respond to me. Then partway through the Chat I lost the page that had the Chat on it. That happened twice. At least the new helpers could read the thread, but they couldn’t find the original blog for The Santa Diaries Project. Could I send them a screenshot? Okay, I took a screenshot of the original blog but it wouldn’t load on the Chat function. I was instructed to turn it into a jpg. At that point it was time for me to leave the house for my WW meeting, so I told Denys, who was helping me, that I would try again later.

There is now a fork in the road. Continue to pursue fixing my WordPress mess or work on the novel revisions. Tomorrow and Friday are filled with away from the house appointments so nothing can happen with WordPress until next Monday.

I’m going to clip my WordPress Rolodex cards together and take the novel revision fork.

 

 

Six on Saturday – Six in a Hurry – October 6, 2018

The calendar says it’s fall, but the trees aren’t showing color, and my asters are still in bud. This has been such an odd gardening year. Too wet, too dry, too cold, too hot…
So I am putting up “six in a hurry” so I can get back into the garden to see what I can accomplish. I have flag stones to lay as I’m moving things around in the area where the river birch came out.

  1. The tall asters are blooming but the short darker blue are still in bud. We may have a killing frost before they bloom. I am impaitent.

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2. These Autumn Joy sedums show the difference in the bloom size when you cut them back in July.  The one on the left was cut back. It is blooming later than the ones on the right that I didn’t cut back. The photo was taken close up. Next year I’ll live with them flopping.

3. A month ago I cleaned out tomatoes from one of my two beds at the Community Garden. I planted tatsoi, three kinds of kale, collards and French radishes. The radishes will be ready in two weeks. I went over early this morning  and weeded with a hand hoe. Photo on the left is before. The one on the right is after. The netting around the bed is to keep out rabbits and deer.

A second bed will be covered with black plastic tomorrow morning. I’ll staple it to the wooden frame to keep weeks from growing over the winter.

4. The miscanthus grasses are sending up blooming seed stalks.

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5.  This is a yellow mullein I started from seed and then put it in the garden. It’s the size of a very large dinner plate but never bloomed. I’ll leave it to over winter. Perhaps it is a bi-annual.

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6. I cut the abelia shrubs in the front of the house back to about two feet in the spring. Now they are covered with blooms. I can’t find the photo of what they looked like cut back but someone asked to see what they grow into, so here is that photo. The small azalea in the lower left may not survive. I’ll leave it in the ground for now. The window box is the one where many of the plants looked like they were being destroyed by mildew. I took two of the boxes out, severely pruned back the damage and let them sit for a couple of weeks before putting them back flanking a box that hadn’t been infected. They may just bloom again before a frost.

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That’s my six in a hurry for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Write on Wednesday – Wattpad – October 3, 2018

I’ve been seeing references to Wattpad as I look for ways to plan marketing for my upcoming book. Here’s information I pulled together from Google and Wikipedia. It sounds interesting.

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“Wattpad is a community for readers and writers to publish new user-generated stories in different genres, including classics, general fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, poetry, fanfiction, spiritual, humor, and teen fiction.  It aims to create social communities around stories for both amateur and established writers.”

“The platform claims to have an audience of more than 65 million users, who can directly interact with the writers and share their opinions with fellow readers. Although available in over 50 languages, 77% of its content is written in English. A number of Wattpad users are translating stories to continue to build the platform.”

“Founded with Ivan Yuen in 2006, Wattpad is removing traditional barriers between readers and writers and building social communities around stories. Wattpad asserts it is the world’s largest community of readers and writers.”

“All the stories on Wattpad are free. Readers don’t have to pay to join the site (or download the app), or to read any of those 3 million stories (which can also be read on any computer, laptop, or tablet). But they’re not just reading, they are writing too.”

“Wattpad Premium is a subscription-based version of Wattpad. It’s the same Wattpad you know and love, without the ads. Premium users will also unlock a fresh new theme within the app.”

“As per the Terms of Service, Wattpad is only available for people who are 13 years of age or older.”

“Through the Wattpad Futures program, interested writers can supplement their income with little effort. The program helps writers earn money by inserting ads between chapters of their Wattpad story.”

I also found a blog post about how one writer decided Wattpad was not a good idea for him.

Wattpad may be a good tool for some writers, so check it out to see if it might work for you. I’m on the fence.

Six on Saturday – These Boots Are Made for Gardening – September 29, 2018

A local weather person opined that it rained twice this summer. Each time for a month. It has felt like that. Going into the yard requires boots. Not just slip-on Sloggers, but calf high boots. I ventured out on Friday morning in my chicken boots to see what there was to see in the garden.

There’s a story to the chicken boots. I tried them on in the garden store, slipping both feet into the boots before realizing they were hooked together so I couldn’t walk. They were a tight fit and I had on the largest size. I couldn’t put the toe of one foot on the heel of the other to help lever off the boots. I couldn’t get my feet out. Should I call for help? “Gardener in shoe aisle needs assistance.”

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I was spared the embarrasment of anyone seeing me squat until I could fall on my butt and pull the boots off. If there were cameras in the store, I’m surprised the video didn’t show up on YouTube.

2.  Pink Muhly grass is blooming. I planted three clumps last fall in the bed that stays so wet. It wasn’t wet when I planted them. This spring it was clear the roots were rotting so I took them out and put them in a container. They may stay there or get planted next spring in a more hospitable area.

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3. This is a seed capsule on a camellia bush. A google search indicated that the seeds can be planted, but “it takes years for seedlings to bloom and they are generally inferior to the parent.” I’m going to pass and pull off the seed capsule. The bush can better use its energy to set buds.

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4. Rust spores on the underside of a leaf from hollyhocks I grew from seed. They didn’t get large enough to bloom.  I need to steel myself to pull them all out and put them in the garbage. I cannot succeed in growing hollyhocks in our area.

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5. A sweet, mild red pepper called Lipstick. The seeds were a free packet in a spring seed order. These taste good, but they were late to set fruit and the harvest was slim. This pepper was about four inches long.

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6. This oak has been under roof behind the garden shed for almost a year and my husband has moved wood to the deck. We are ready for the first fire of the season. The green trash can with holes drilled in it was for a failed experiment in worm composting. Now the container holds kindling.

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That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.