Saturday, October 21, 2017

Commitment

to at least try to do NaNoWriMo this year. I'm still struggling with life - Pisces is still unwell but he is improving slowly and while I'm better than I was I'm by no means back to my usual self either - so when you add in frustration levels that are chanting continuously about how much I should have done and haven't it's more than a little bit of a challenge to even be considering something this big. On the other hand if I just sit here and wallow in my miseries I'll never make any progress.

So I have a plan which is not necessarily to aim at achieving great things during November - like finishing a novel for instance - but instead to write something every day. I'll be aiming at 1,000 words and as long as they are creative I'll be happy. If I find my rhythm and my creativity blossoms I'll be very happy but I'll be satisfied as long as I just get that many words written every day.

I'mm posting this here so I have something to keep me accountable. How successful I will be I have no idea but I'm making the commitment and that's a start.

Edited because I forgot to put in the link to NaNoWriMo.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Spring Time

We might be in the middle of Spring at the moment - and Spring weather is as unpredictable here as anywhere else - but it's getting downright confusing with night time temperatures ranging from as low as 8-10°C then up to 17°C the next night then being followed by daytime maxima which can be as low as 20° C one day or into in the low thirties the next. I've been wanting to wash my winter clothes ready to put away but no sooner do I decide that it would be a good day to tackle it than the rain sets in and temperatures plummet again.

Ah well, it's not going to matter in the grand scheme of things I guess but it's meant the wardrobe purge I wanted to start has been on hold for a few weeks. It's hot already today, though, and I'm home alone - Pisces is in hospital for a minor procedure - so I think it's time I overcame my inertia and at least begin sorting. I mightn't be able to get everything organised but I can make a start. Actually I already have and the clothesline is full of things that I can do without even if the temperature drops dramatically again.

I confess to finding it difficult to part with things sometimes - and that would be clothes I'm talking about although Pisces might think books are more of a problem although they don't count, do they. In particular I'm thinking about those items of clothing that haven't been worn for a year or so but which are still too good to end up in the rubbish or recycling but are too far gone to be suitable to send to the charity shop and, which if I'm honest, I know I'll probably never wear again. It goes against the grain to throw them in the rubbish bin so there they sit taking up space in my cupboards and my life. I'm going to have to make some hard decisions and do what I tell the resident hoarder to do. Which is? Be ruthless. If it hasn't been worn in a year - unless it's a special purpose outfit that gets used infrequently, it's wearing out or no longer fits send it off to a new home or dump it.

It's easier said than done, of course, but I have no desire to live in a house that is slowly filling up with unused clutter so I will get on with it. Wish me luck.

Monday, October 16, 2017

We Haz Frogs

As you may or may not remember I have a cat. Now Mr Puss is 'special' and not only because he has a potentially life threatening health condition which means he get rather spoiled. Having had a very scary beginning to his life, he is inordinately afraid of everything and everyone except Pisces and me. Because of this he's always been an inside cat. We have a large house and he's never shown any interest in braving the outside world being more than happy to just follow me around. He occasionally pokes his head out but that's it. We've had other inside cats and they've all been happy to walk on a lead but not this boy. He wouldn't even accept a harness when he was a kitten.

To help make up for his lack of outdoor activity I keep cat grass in the house, something he goes into a frenzy of delight over. I grow it in two long water well pots that I rotate in and out of the house. Water well pots as you may know have a place for water in the base which wicks up to keep the plant wet and are filled through a hole in the side. I don't usually use this on the cat grass pots because I don't want to bring undesirables like slugs and slaters into the house, so I keep the hole taped over - but when I went out to bring the new pot in the other day the tape had come off.

This hole in this particular pot is quite small - about 3.5 cms across - and I don't know why but after I picked it up I decided I should tip out the car grass to make sure all was well. Since these pots are rather weighty when I went to put it back down it landed rather heavily. Out of the hole popped a large brown motorbike frog (Litoria moorei is its proper name and it gets its common name from the call of the male which really does sound like a motorbike changing gear). It was so large in fact that I have no idea how it got inside in the first place. It sat a few moments staring at me before it was followed by a tiny - and very pretty - green and cream juvenile about 2.5 cms in length. The big fellow took off and disappeared but we had to relocate the little one to the frog pond since it froze there on the hot concrete and I had visions of it dying where it was.

Since then I've found another similar little froggy among my seedlings and these are unlikely to be the last because I noticed yesterday there were at least half a dozen large tadpoles already with legs as well as scores of tinier legless ones of every size you could think of in the frog pond. Most of these will not survive for long but while it may be sad, it's probably a good thing given that just about every potential frog dwelling place in our yard is already occupied - something Pisces doesn't always remember so that startled yells as he lifts something are getting pretty much standard around here.


Monday, October 09, 2017

She Has a Point

Jo, of Jo on Food, Life and a Scent of Chocolate, commented here the other day that perhaps I should change my profile to gardener instead of writer. I can see why. My posts lately have been more gardening than anything else. I seemed to have lost my writing mojo with my illness. No matter how I tried my creativity had fled and all I managed to do was to struggle through each day and - if I was lucky - fiddle around a little in the garden. I'm not sure if growing food counts as creativity but it should. You're making something out of soil, water and seeds after all.

Not that I haven't always gardened, of course. I mentioned once before how I was gifted with my own garden when I was nine and in one way or another I've gardened ever since. The thing about gardening is that it's restful on one level - pulling weeds is hardly mind stretching, just methodical and repetitive for instance - but needs careful thought on another, especially if like me you like to grow at least some of your own food. You have to plan to make sure you have a regular supply of crops coming in or you will end up hungry.

In this it's very similar to writing or any other creative activity. Even for a pantser like me you have to have some idea of where your story is heading - so planning - and there's a lot of time spent on the repetitive task of just getting words on the page. Finally, though, you get to pull it all together and that's the harvest of the finally completed and edited story.

The thing is I wasn't able to do any of this. I started blogging more regularly in the hope that it might help but I had not one creative thought in me and I had just about resigned myself to just messing around with plants forever - until yesterday that is when an idea suddenly sprang into life. It's been percolating all day and for the first time in over a year I feel that wonderful rush of wanting to get words down of the page. Whether this will develop into anything worthwhile I have no idea but for now I'm heading to Ulysses (the writing program I was using before this hiatus) and I'm going to see what happens. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

I've Been Gardening Again

In the aftermath of the storm - and with the arrival of some lovely warm, sunny Spring days - I decided it was time to plant at least some of the summer veggies. It was Pisces' fault because I had mentioned I needed some potting mix and as we were passing by our local garden centre on Friday he suggested we pick it up and have a coffee at their very pleasant cafe - Waldecks in Stirling if you're interested. Naturally enough I then wandered off to look at the seedlings - well, what else would I do with temptation mere steps away - and stocked up.

We came home with tomatoes - lots of tomatoes because I found some heritage ones I wanted to try and I'm none to sure of how successful they'll be, capsicums, more sweet corn, zucchinis, a couple of different kinds of basil, spring onions and two different cucumbers to add to what I planted last week. Over the weekend I planted all except the onions because I wanted to make sure the aphid problem really had finished first. Now, apart from the onions, all I need for this first planting are pumpkins - they will fill up any vacant spaces and some more beans, bok choy and lettuce although I will be doing staggered follow up plantings of most all the way through the season.

All this planting and warm weather means I've had to hand water daily. That's very time consuming so this morning I decided it was finally time to get out the sprinklers. At least that was the plan.

I went out early - Puss thinks I should wake up at daybreak to dispense food and clean litter trays and luckily my body clock works that way, too, so we're both waking up at about 6:00 AM these days - and the first sprinkler would not connect with the hose. Dammit. The second wouldn't either. nor the third. Things were getting desperate when I finally found one that did. It was only a temporary solution though because the veggie patch is an awkward shape and to get an even coverage without wasteful overlaps I need all four sprinklers.

Pisces was awake by then - and extremely grumpy  - but he worked his garden fittings magic and finally we got the two most important sprinklers working. Why sprinklers that clicked into place on the hose perfectly at the end of Autumn no longer work I have no idea - but I've now handed it all over to himself to play with. I'm just hoping he'll have managed to resolve it by Saturday, which, if it doesn't rain first, will be the next time I need them.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Windy Weather

It certainly was. We've just had one of the Spring storms we're prone to here when a cold front comes up from the south bringing strong winds and heavy rain - rain is much needed so you won't hear me complaining about that at least. The wind was blasting the house, so much so that when I went out to put something in the bin I was almost blown off my feet.

We had very little damage although the sound of bits of tree - only gum nuts and small branchlets fortunately - hitting the roof above my bedroom at the height of the storm was a bit disturbing - and we are certainly better off than those left as some were without power or with roofs blown off or fallen trees. The veggie patch took the brunt of it here. When I went out yesterday morning the coriander was flattened - luckily it's still only in flower or I'd have lost all the seeds - and the borage was a mess. I grow that against a trellis given its tendency to snap stems at the drop of a hat - or a careless brush past - but that wasn't enough to protect it this time. Those weren't the only casualties. Half the snowpeas had been ripped off their trellis, too - not that this was too much of a loss since they've just about stopped producing and are starting to die off. There were other minor problems but they are just that - minor.

The coriander was in most urgent need so I started by making a temporary fence of stakes around its bed high enough and secure enough to hold the plants upright. Luckily they're in a long narrow bed and their stems aren't broken or it would have been much more difficult. When I turned to the borage it was obvious the bulk of it was too damaged to rescue - though I did manage to save a couple of plants ready for a certain small girl who loves to eat the flowers - and I ended up filling two big bins with it and the remains of the snow peas.

My back was telling me I should leave it at that but I had some sweet corn seedlings that desperately needed to go in and Pisces had obligingly shifted a big bag of sheep manure to that part of the garden and all I had to do was to spread it and plant them so, of course, I did. You know how it is. You start with one task then you see another and another. Gardening is especially like that, I think, which is why I then remembered I had started to empty the compost out of one of the bins a few days ago and I should move and spread the rest. Then I saw some weeds that needed to be pulled out and really I should put around some slow release fertiliser and so it went until suddenly it was around 3:30 PM and Pisces was hovering around looking worried because I had seized up so much I could barely walk.

It might seem silly to push myself so hard but the truth is working in the garden clears my mind and is deeply satisfying. I was talking to a friend a couple of days ago and we decided that gardening was good for the soul and it is. I'm still struggling a bit today - the arthritis I've had since I was a girl is not forgiving - but it was definitely worth it.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Yes, It's Definitely Spring

because the masked woodswallow is back. I only see it at this time of the year and my favourite bird guide - The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight if you're interested - tells me that they are nomadic and migrate seasonally to the coast which all fits in with their regular appearance here. As you can see below they are handsome birds and I suspect it is here to breed since their main breeding period is September to December although there can be earlier and later nestings.

Adult male masked woodswallow
Photo by Peter Jacobs
 from Australia

Licensed CC BY-SA 2.0









I'm more than happy to welcome them because they are insectivorous and, as a gardener who tries not to use any sprays or poisons if at all possible, I need all the help I can get in controlling pests naturally. I'm not completely pure in this as I'm occasionally forced to use Dipel (a naturally occurring bacteria that is fatal to caterpillars like those of the Cabbage White butterfly but has no effect on anything else and I confess I did spray the swarming big headed ants (yes, that really is their name and they are a exotic and significant pest here) out on the paving a couple of days ago although I'd probably have left even them alone if they hadn't swarmed over my feet and bitten me. Mind you if they excavate much more under the paving they are likely to find me less accommodating.