A Writers’ Conference and Wood Chips

2017 will be the twentieth year of the annual Bay to Ocean Writers Conference. I’ve been involved for ten years and Laura Ambler about that long. I’ve been Speaker Liaison for a number of years and have been training someone to take over the job.

The Speaker Liaison committee met this week to begin looking at the presenters we’d like to invite. We have some people who’ve supported the conference for many years, are terrific presenters and get asked back almost every year. We also try new people and new topics. Keeping up with the changes in the publishing industry is a challenge as every writer knows.

Some people complain there are too many good sessions to choose from. We think that’s a good thing. Others have said why do you have some of the same topics over and over again. They are probably talking about craft topics such as point of view or dialog or creating conflict. We don’t have the same person do the same topic year after year, and we don’t have the same topics every year. But I think writers can always learn something new – or get that part of the presentation your brain didn’t register the last time.

Actually, part of my philosophy of life is that there isn’t any situation or person from which I can’t learn something. Sometimes it’s something about myself and sometimes it’s how to do something. It probably drives any workmen we have in the house nuts because I hang around and ask questions. I’d like to try my hand at plumbing, but probably not in this lifetime. And I don’t attempt anything electrical.

The last few days of cooler weather prompted me to call Bartlett Tree Service and see if I could get a load of wood chips. They’re free, but you never know what you’ll get. It depends on what they’ve been cutting. When my husband helped me put the tarps down he asked if the pile was going to be the size of the house. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I said as I headed off to help weed at the Reading Garden at the St. Michaels Library.

When I returned the mulch had been delivered. The pile was the size of a small house.IMG_1550

We borrowed a second wheelbarrow; my husband filled them and I moved them to the back of the property and dumped. We were an awesome team. Shoveling the chips strains my shoulders and I don’t mind the schlepping. More steps to my pitiful FitBit account. The husband doesn’t like the schlepping because he’s tall and has to lean over the wheelbarrow handles. The pile was quickly reduced to the size of two VWs.

What did I learn from this pile of mulch? That I should pace myself and remember that I’m not thirty any more. The husband told me he’d learned that already  – about thirty years ago.

Update: The pile is now gone. It’s in barrow-size smaller piles around the property waiting to be spread out. That can happen bit by bit, and the only remnants of that huge pile are a few chips that escaped the tarps. All told I figure we’ve moved at least thirty cubic yards of mulch this spring – fourteen cubic yards purchased and one free load the size of a small house.



The Cold/Flu Got Us

I had been to a small girlfriend potluck and one of my friends was coughing into her elbow and saying she felt terrible, but didn’t think she was contagious. Really? I tried to keep my distance, but…

At first I thought it was the awful pollen this year. We live in an area where there are lots of loblolly pines. My silver gray car becomes yellow and unfolding leaves on the perennials are coated. It makes me thankful my lungs seem to take it in stride. My eyes and throat not so much.

But three days after being exposed, I was down for the count. Two days in bed (that’s unheard of for me) and then a lot of time on the couch. That nasty virus just wouldn’t let go. I’m one of those people who gets bronchitis after a cold and I have an inhaler to use so that doesn’t happen. I didn’t end up with the hacking cough others who got this are stuck with.

I binge watched episodes of Fixer Upper wondering how Jojo doesn’t slap her doofus husband up side the head more often. I read, I slept. After five days, I went outside and did an hour in the garden, then back to the couch. No stamina and things to do, dammit.

And just when I thought my husband was in the clear, he came down with it. Two days of awful and then just feeling punk. He probably wasn’t too happy about the five yards of mulch I had delivered yesterday. I wanted to get it in before the rains we were supposed to have. Weather people have been promising rain and we really need it.

ladder in garden enhanced

I bit the bullet and put out some tomato plants in my raised bed at home. It’s a little early, but they were getting so leggy even though I was pulling them outside the garage every morning where the breezes would strengthen their stems.

My next chore is to get the drip irrigation system up and running. I know from last fall there is a leak in the big line so that has to be fixed. And I will get the timers set before I install them on the hose so I’m not lying on my back trying to figure that out. It would be a lot easier if there were eight days in the week.

The wooden step ladder I used to create a jury rigged plant light setup, is now no longer needed, I’ve installed it in one of the raised beds. I planted cukes and spaghetti squash seeds at it’s base. It’s an experiment to see if I my $5 yard sale find works as a plant support. I don’t know why it wouldn’t. Now we just need some warmer weather so the seeds will germinate.

My writing partner, Laura Ambler, and I are in a holding pattern right now. We had a phone conference on Thursday with someone whom we hope will help us with a marketing plan for our books and screenplays, but it got cancelled. Until that happens, I’ll be moving mulch. The gardens will look so much better when that’s done.