Write on Wednesday – The Great Pivot -March13, 2019

I’m not the only writer in my family. My step-daughter has just published her first book. This is a big deal! There were some fraught moments at the end — as there always are, but when it’s your first book you don’t know that’s going to happen.  Now Justine is through to the other side and is a published author. Congratulations!

Great Pivot

Her blog describes the book better than I ever could.

“The new book The Great Pivot describes 30 sustainability projects in five areas – advanced energy communities, low-carbon mobility, the circular economy, food waste reduction, and nature restoration – that will create millions of meaningful jobs.

Building a sustainable future will not only restore climate stability and reverse mass species extinction, it will also address the crisis in the world of work. Current trends of outsourcing, automation, the gig economy, and low levels of employee engagement have left working Americans anxious about their jobs. Meanwhile, 37 million people of prime working age, 25-64, are not in the labor force, and the 626,000 people released from prison each year have a hard time finding work that will allow them to reintegrate into society.

The Great Pivot provides funding and program pivots for policymakers who want to help create green, meaningful jobs, as well as resources for those who want to switch over to sustainability work. Each sector — private, non-profit, and public sector — has an important role to play in realizing this vision.

With The Great Pivot we have a blueprint for building a sustainable future. Now we just need to find the courage to commit to it.”

I just got my Kindle copy and can’t wait to start reading.

If you buy the book and like it, don’t forget to post a review on Amazon.

Six on Saturday – Rescue Operation – March 9, 2019

A couple of weeks ago I asked if any of my friends had orchid plants they were going to throw away. If so,  I would love to see if I could make them bloom again. The following week I came home from my 7 a.m. yoga class with a plant. This is what I got from Paulette, my yoga instructor.

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This phalaenopsis orchid had one purple bloom when I got it. There was no tag as to the original parentage so if I succeed in resurrecting this plant it will be called Paulette Purple.

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I could tell there was a new plant (a keiki — Hawaiian for baby) which had grown on a previous blooming stem. It had long aerial roots and Paulette told me it had two blooms this year.  Usually keikis are removed way before they get this big. I was uncertain about the two 18″ aerial roots. Fortunately there were a number of useful videos on Youtube. I ordered some orchid potting supplies. Special potting mix, plastic orchid pots with special drainage slots, and some New Zealand sphagnum moss.

The supplies arrived this week and on potting day the first thing I did was to soak some of the new potting mixture so it would be wet when I used it. (A tip from one of those helpful videos.)

I cleaned and sterilized my cutting tool with alcohol (another tip) and cut off the keiki. The photo shows it perched on a bowl in my kitchen sink but doesn’t really show the two long  roots. I sprayed the roots with warm water to hydrate them. You don’t want to break the roots and these needed to be bent around and around to go into the pot. When I am transpanting ordinary plants I often root prune. This was not recommended for orchids and after hydrating the roots they bent easily.

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Below is the potted keiki. If it lives it will be genetically identical to the mother.

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I also repotted the original plant with new potting mix. The three leaves look sad, but maybe it will send up some new growth from the crown.

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Behind the repotted orchid is the one with white flowers that I’ve been bragging about. As soon as it’s finished blooming I will repot it as well. It will take months before I know if my rescue operation has been successful, but I’m a patient gardener.

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This is what I hope for next year but with purple flowers.

That’s my Six on Saturday, photos this week of an orchid rescue operation. The SoS meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener.  This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

 

 

Write on Wednesday – Writing to Make Money – March 6, 2019

I’ve written non-fiction and fiction but never gave up my day job. If I entertained  some fleeting idea that my novels would become best sellers, the reality of sales statistics brought that fantasy crashing down. My writing projects have always been big projects. Somehow it never occurred to me that I could make money by writing short projects.

A new book by Loriann Oberlin shows the kind of short writing projects that can generate cash.

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Over the years I’ve bought a lot of books about how to write and how to market my writing, but Writing to Make Money: Short Projects was a surprise. I knew there were people who wrote the text for greeting cards, fillers for magazines, or humorous shorts for Readers Digest–see the back cover below for more–but I had no idea how a writer tapped into those markets. Or even what many of those writing markets were.

All of us have some specialized knowledge–cooking, gardening, childcare, birding, woodworking–often based on what we’ve done in a career or in our hobby time. If you’ve ever wondered if you could spin your knowledge or special interest into some income, this book is well worth the $12 investment for a paperback or $7.99 for the Kindle download. I bought the paperback so I could mark it up.

One of the surprises was the information and suggestions that I could use in my fiction writing. There was even a section on self-care for writers and a helpful chapter-by-chapter resource guide at the end.

How-to books don’t always tell you everything you need to know. This one does exactly what it says it will do. It’s full of information with answers to questions I didn’t know I needed to ask. I wish I’d had this years ago when I might have augmented my income with short writing projects.

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Note: For several years I worked with Oberlin on the Bay to Ocean Writers Conference. Our meetings were always conference task oriented although occasionally we talked briefly about the novels we were writing. I had no idea about the extent of her writing background and the knowledge she is now sharing. Thank you, Loriann, for this excellent book.

 

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – Squelching in the Garden – March 2, 1019

I am not a shoe fashionista. I have almost as many pairs of boots as I do shoes. Last night it rained. Again! So this morning I was either going to squelch through my yard in search of pictures for my Six on Saturday, or abandon the effort. I put on a warm coat and hat and picked up my camera. In the garage the decision was about which boots to wear. Clearly the Sloggers were too low. My chicken boots might have done, but I didn’t want mud splashed on my pants. The choice was the bright orange boots that come almost to my knees. They are the tallest I own. If it keeps raining I may have to invest in waders.

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2. We have standing water in places where we’ve never had it before.

3. I found these little puff balls (the size of golf balls) growing on mulch by the raised beds. A poke with my finger released a cloud of spores.

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4.  The invasive Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) along the lot line in the back of the property is beginning to leaf out. If I won the lottery I would take them all out and replace them with something else, but they do provide a green barrier between us and the neighbors in the back. I suspect these specimens are fifty years old. They have large trunks.

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5. Finally I see some daffodils with bloom buds. There are other clumps with leaves but no evidence yet of blooms.

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6. In the garage I found an amarylis bulb that needs to be planted. I can’t be bothered to try and force them inside in the winter, but I plant them outside late spring and they usually bloom. This one will have to go in a pot. It’s too wet to plant it in the ground. A friend gave it to me in January. It had been coated in red wax. I peeled the wax off and threw it in a box  under a table in the garage where it has remained. I only spotted it when I was pulling off my orange boots.

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That’s my Six on Saturday, photos in my garden once a 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 – Is Networking Worth the Effort? – February 27, 2019

Networking takes time.  Are the benefits worth the time and expense ?

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Yesterday I had lunch with Bonnie Feldstein. I met Bonnie a decade ago when we were both involved as volunteers with the Eastern Shore Writers Association and The Bay to Ocean Writers Conference. Over the years I got to know Bonnie as smart, opinionated and pee-your-pants funny. She’s an accomplished writer (she writes as Anna Gill) who has a lot of information about people who can help writers and, more importantly, is willing to share.

Since Bonnie lives in upstate New York, we only manage to get together once a year or so. And each time we meet we are in different places in our writing careers. When she finished her last novel, The Island Womanshe told me it was the last one. Yesterday she confided that there was another story that just wouldn’t let her be, so she is deep in the weeds of another book.

I’m in the editing part of my latest novel–I still have to figure out the title–and she had some ideas about future marketing and people who might help with that. I had planned to use CreateSpace for formatting but that option is no longer available. Another hurdle to jump and Bonnie had some suggestions.

Networking lunches are invaluable, if  only to connect with another writer who understands how grueling the process can be. In my experience they are well worth the time and expense. Even if I hadn’t learned something yesterday that may help my writing, I had the pleasure of spending time with a friend. Time away from my writing desk is important, too.

Networking doesn’t have to be lunch. It can be coffee early in the morning or a glass of wine at happy hour. It can happen at meetings and conferences. A shared card can lead to more.

Much of my networking happened because of my volunteer efforts in the writing community. If I hadn’t been involved with the Eastern Shore Writers Association and the Bay to Ocean Writing Conference, I would never have met Bonnie or many others now in my writing circle. People who are now friends and aquaintances I can email with a question or concern. Even if they didn’t know the answer they might be able to point me in a direction. Or tell me to hang in there, the plot point I’m searching for will show up.

For us introverted writers networking is worth the effort.

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – A Retrospective – February 23, 2019

Much of my garden is still under water. We have lived in this house for twelve years now and there is standing water where I have never seen it before. I don’t like to think about summer mosquitoes if this continues. I suggested to my husband that we might build more decking over the worst of it…a suggestion that was not greeted with enthusiasm.

So I am began looking through past photos around this date. That resulted in some surprises.

  1. 2018. Last year I had blooming crocuses on February 20. This year no buds yet.

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2. No garden photos this time in 2017 but I did find these spectacular sunset clouds. I actually remember where I was when I took this. I had arrived at Easton Airport for my Working Writers Forum meeting. It would have been about 5:30 in the evening.

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3. In 2016 around this date Bartlett Tree came to trim all the maples in our yard. The River Birch with the exfoliating bark in the foreground was removed last year. The grass is green and no standing water.

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4. In 2015 we had significant snow around this time in February.

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5. In 2014 the agapanthas I had brought inside were blooming. I have since put them in the ground outside in an effort to reduce the number of pots I carry in for the winter. They survived in the ground last year but no blooms last summer.

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6. In 2013 I had early doffodils blooming. I don’t see buds yet this year.

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That’s my Six on Saturday, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This retrospective shows me that crocus and daffodil are late this year. I wonder why. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

Write on Wednesday – Why Watching Nova Makes Me Feel Like a Cockroach – February 20, 2019

Nova programs evoke strong responses in me. This week the husband and I have been watching a program about rockets.  I’d probably rather watch a cooking show, but when it comes to rockets the power of the human brain is awe inspiring. I can comprehend how someone, at some point in history, invented the wheel. But the engineering and sheer hubris in inventing something that goes into space is mind boggling. And I love seeing women in those rooms of engineering geeks.

A year ago I posted after watching a Nova episode titled Black Hole Apocalypse.

Here’s the log line from the PBS website: “Black holes are the most enigmatic and exotic objects in the universe. They’re also the most powerful, with gravity so strong it can trap light. And they’re destructive, swallowing entire planets, even giant stars. Anything that falls into them vanishes…gone forever.”

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I love Nova programs, but sometimes I feel like a dog listening to a human. Blah, blah, blah, Ginger. Blah, Fetch, blah. Especially the programs that are based on higher math. Math was never my strong suit. At Goucher College I was allowed to take an astronomy class instead of college algebra to fulfill the math requirement. Enough said! Note: I’ve never quite forgiven Goucher for taking away 27 semester hours of art credits when I transferred there from University of Maryland.

But this Nova program really made me aware of how many galaxies and stars and planets there are in the universe. Billions, trillions, way too many to count if we could see far enough. Our planet is an insignificant speck of dust among millions/billions of others. And it occurred to me that we are pretty much the cockroaches of the universe.  Somewhere out there another Mala Burt is writing the same book I’m working on. We think we’re special, but almost certainly are not. Note that I have enough ego to hold out some hope.

Alexander Pope said it best in his poem An Essay on Man.

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast; Man never is, but always to be blessed: The soul, uneasy and confined from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come.”

Pope probably wouldn’t have written that poem if he’d been able to watch Black Hole Apocalypse. Despite Nova, I have enough hope to be thinking about  starting seeds for my always optimistic and hopeful garden. But that’s another post.