Revamp & Rambling

I started this blog well over a year ago, after I abandoned the paid website option. My intentions were good; I was going to post at least weekly, on topics ranging from politics to book and movie reviews to half-assedly clever witticisms about life and random bullshit that appealed to me.

But then Things Happened. They always do. And this blog went forgotten for a long, long time.

Every time I’d sit and think about starting up the blog again, I’d be suddenly stricken with malaise, because coming up with topics to blog about just sounds exhausting. Then the excuses started pouring in: I have a life, I have kids, I have a job. I barely have time to read at all, let alone think up stuff to say about it…

It wasn’t just blogging that fell by either. I’ve become something of a social media hermit. No blog: too exhausting. Gave up on Twitter: too much noise. Google+: does anyone even use that anymore? If Facebook wasn’t the most convenient way for contacting people and keeping in touch with my loved ones, scattered globally, I’d probably give up on that too.

I realized a little while ago that it’s cut me off fairly well from a lot of avenues I once took advantage of to network and socialize and meet new people, on a personal and a professional basis. So I’m trying to make a change with that.

No. Scratch that. Do, or do not. I’m making a change with that.

I can’t say how often this blog will get updated; it really depends. I do have kids and a job and a life and a pile of books stacked nearly to the ceiling that I haven’t read and access to Netflix which just added all those shows I meant to watch but somehow never got around to while they were on TV and…

Excuses, excuses.

I could have started an old blog: the Idea Cesspool is still around, still archived, still kickin‘. But given that it’s been three years since I last posted in it, I’m going to put it permanently on hiatus. At some point, I may look to incorporate the posts there in this blog, but since I’m inherently lazy, I’ll probably just end up incorporating the bits of fiction I wrote and posted on it as free fiction here.

Here’s to the future of my needing-a-revamp social media life. Dragging myself kicking and screaming if needed.

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Adventures in Gardening

A few years back, my husband claimed that, when I hit my 30s, I would find a hobby. He pointed out that my mother did — she had some land, and some plants, and she put them to work — and that I would as well. He said I’d bake, or I’d sew, or I’d garden.

I laughed in his face.

I’m not laughing anymore.

I hate it when he’s right.

For three years, we lived in a cramped, two-bedroom basement apartment. We didn’t have a balcony, let alone a yard of any stripe. Then, in December, we lucked into a four-bedroom row house with a yard. A concrete yard, granted, but a yard nevertheless. It was room for the kids to play, to ride bikes, for a dog, maybe.

And room for growing things.

There was no grass, so I had to get creative. Living in an urban environment, especially a cold one, presents challenges that, at first glance, seem insurmountable. “No grass? Not even a dirt patch? How the hell are you going to grow anything in concrete?” (Let’s forget for a moment that, without proper, regular maintenance, concrete will be destroyed by vegetation in less than 20 years.) The answer was simple enough: container gardening.

Folks have been growing flowers in pots, miniature trees in huge buckets, and herbs in window planters for hundreds of years. Surely I, a novice to gardening, could figure out how to put some soil and seeds in a bucket, and water them regularly. Surely I could grow stuff.

Not really as hard as it seems.

My first go-round with purchasing, I simply bought potting soil. While I understand now it’s not the very best kind of soil to grow in, it worked just fine for starting seedlings. I also purchased one window box style planter, and a self-watering pot. (That would be the tan runner box, and the black pot in the first image.) I also bought cucumber seeds (Spacemaster, which supposedly best for containers), cherry tomato seeds, dill seed, parsley seed and seed onions for chives.

I left the stuff alone for a while, watering as necessary. Sometimes draining the soil out as necessary, since the onions in the runner box were swimming after a torrential downpour. They survived, even seemed to thrive despite nearly drowning. I”m harvesting a couple of chives every other day. It’s awesome.

We have uncertain summers in Newfoundland. Last summer, we had less than two weeks of full sunshine. That’s less than 14 days over the course of a few months. So far this year, the weather’s behaving itself, but there’s always the possibility that it will change on a dime. There’s a saying here (which other places in the world also use): if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. Those three shoots in the above photo were cucumbers. Notice my use of the word “were”. Currently, they’re mulch, because I put them out to soak up some sun, and there was a cold snap that dropped the temperature to single digits (mid-30s to low 40s for my American friends). I went out the next morning to find that the stems had gone white and fallen over.

Dead cucumbers.

No matter. I have other seeds. So I planted more.

I was leerier with my tomato shoots. I planted about 14 seeds, seven came up. I sheltered them in a yogurt cup, fed them sunlight from my kitchen windowsill, and made sure they never went outside until I was certain the sun would be out the next day.

A couple of days of sun and warm nights, and boom. The temperature drops overnight again. I went out this morning to water the garden (as it’s my day off), and found five of my tomato shoots have shriveled and fallen over, despite a clear plastic bag over the seeding boxes. Two survived, proving hardier than the rest. I think I might move them back inside, until I can fashion some sort of rudimentary lathe… I mean, cold frame. I hear clear plastic Tupperware of varying sizes is both cheap and effective.

But the rest of the garden is doing great. My onions are thriving, my dill is coming up, and I purchased some flowers and herbs from the local flower market. I even went and got some herbs to make a pot.

No weed here, officer.

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In Memoriam: Ray Bradbury

I have a confession to make:

I have never read anything by Ray Bradbury.

One would think that would be nearly impossible, given how prolifically Mr. Bradbury contributed to the fields of horror, fantasy, mystery and science fiction: 27 novels, over 600 short stories, and plays, teleplays and audio releases galore of that body of work. One would think that somewhere along the way, given how much I read and have read since I first discovered the magic of books, I have been exposed to Mr. Bradbury’s works.

But I haven’t.

Not Fahrenheit 451.

Not The Illustrated Man.

No, not even Something Wicked This Way Comes. Book OR movie.

I knew who Ray Bradbury was, of course. But his flavor of sci-fi was never my thing. I was into dragons in a big way as a kid. I read Anne McCaffery like there was no tomorrow, going so far as to beg, borrow and steal books from the library to get updates on Killishandra and Rowan and Lessa and F’lar. Dinosaur Planet and its sequels were my very first foray into the world of sci-fi. (Unless you count the original Astro Boy cartoon that aired at 6am on schooldays and honestly, why would you? … Then again, I also watched Thundercats and Voltron too…)

Regardless. Literary sci-fi. Anne McCaffery. Arthur C. Clarke followed her, with Cradle and 2001/2010/2061/3001/etc.

I read Stephen King and Dean Koontz and John Saul and Thomas Harris and Anne Rice and Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark and Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman and Lisanne Norman and Clive Cussler and Tad Williams and Guy Gavriel Kay and Orson Scott Card and a dozen others I can’t even name anymore.

Never Ray Bradbury.

King’s wiki page lists Bradbury as an influence. So does Koontz’s.  So does Gaiman’s. So does Card’s. Barker lists King.

These authors make up the majority of my reading when I was a kid.

So why have I never read Bradbury’s work?

I really don’t have an answer. “I never got around to it” just doesn’t seem good enough.

Unfortunately, the man himself is dead, and will be no longer contributing to the world of literature (even though that doesn’t seem to stop Isaac Asimov or Robert Jordan). But his body of work, his legacy to readers like myself, lives on. I have a copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes. It’s been sitting on my e-reader for months. Likewise, Fahrenheit 451. I had planned on rereading the Otherland series by Tad Williams, but now I will be instead queuing these two books up. The man who influenced at least five of my favorite authors deserves no less than that.

I’m sorry, Mr. Bradbury, that I didn’t take the time to appreciate your work while you were still alive.

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