Garden Journal and General Life Update

I haven’t been here for a bit, but things are definitely perking.

This weekend, we managed to get both the patio bed and the veggie beds rototilled, after discovering that we could rent a small tiller at Home Depot for $30 for four hours. Jerry did most of the heavy work, but I tried my hand briefly. That little machine really vibrates, but it got the job done in a fraction of the time it would have taken me to turn the soil by hand.

We’ve hired some help who arrive tomorrow. They will put down new weed block and chip shred on the veggie garden paths. If time permits, they will cut our photinia fraseri at the barn. That should complete the heaviest work for the year. We will still need to plant the veggie garden and dozens of bulbs, run drip irrigation on the veggies and on two trees at the barn, and spread chip shred over the new beds.

On the positive front, our new bare root black walnut has sprouted some nice leaves, so something must be going right there.

In other news, I’m not sure if it’s the spring weather or just boredom with the usual grind, but my creative juices seem to be flowing. I have a renewed interest in my baby afghan and am making steady progress. Somehow, that afghan reminded me that I bought the beads and supplies to make a bracelet and earrings and the yarn and pattern to knit a lacy shawl. So, those projects are now seeing the light of day.

A recent shopping trip to buy some basic skirts for summer left me feeling frustrated. That reminded me of the sewing machine that has sat in my closet for a decade. One thing led to another, and I am now the proud owner of a pattern and some gorgeous fabric. My mom and I are trying to take a sewing class together to help us remember our previous skills. That should be a lot of fun, and I may end up with clothes I actually like!

And it seems that the gods are calling me to exercise. Just last week, my friend invited me to swim laps at our local pool. It was just wonderful, and I am so looking forward to going back, I hope with my friend, which makes it all the more fun. I also noticed that our local yoga studio has a special of 20 days for $20. A bit of research revealed that they have a 6:30 am class that I am looking forward to trying. All of this comes at a good time, as my elliptical is in parts on the great room floor while my spouse tries valiantly to figure out why a machine that is supposed to be very quiet, thunks like it’s falling apart.

Finally, the Sacramento Poetry Center has put on a great lecture series for the past few weeks. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to attend two lectures, and I hope to attend one more in the coming weeks. Those lectures have whetted my appetite for writing, so it is great luck that I just discovered a new writing group in Sacramento. Apparently, you just go to write for an hour, and nothing more. I love the idea of time dedicated just to writing.

Somehow, the world just seems cheerier with so many interesting projects and happenings to explore!

Creative Check-In

My boys are essentially done with our formal homeschooling for the year. I’ve also made the choice to cut back on my book reviews and some of my blogging for the summer. So, I have more freedom to pursue other creative projects consistently. I’ve been brainstorming some goals for my summer and have decided on the following:

1. My friend is expecting a baby in October, so I’ve decided to knit a baby blanket for her. I’m using Plymouth’s Fantasy Naturale No. 9903 (raspberry, white and mint) to make an Eyelet and Garter Baby Afghan (C112)

2. I want to write poetry again because I feel that I’ve neglected that aspect of my writing to my detriment. To that end, I’ve promised my writing group to present a new poem on June 17.

3. This past spring, I attended a SCBWI conference and came away with an idea for an early chapter book series. I would like to tackle that project this summer. I will need to (a) read a bit more about the genre, (b) research background for my book, (c) create characters that will interest children, and (d) plot out a story line. I’m also looking into joining a critique group for children’s book writers to push myself to reach my goal.

4. I’ve made a goal to try a new recipe each week with my sons. This week, I am trying new potato & turkey skillet supper with chard, feta, lemon and grape tomatoes from the June 2011 issue of Clean Eating magazine.

5. I’m hoping to get back to some art journaling, but I haven’t come up with a definite project yet.

With this list posted, I intend to record my progress in future posts.


If this blog does nothing else, it reminds me how quickly time passes. I really can’t believe it has been over a month since I last posted. Here’s a brief summary of life in the Garden.

This year’s herb and vegetable garden are in and looking very promising. My sunflowers did not sprout and one dill plant struggles to survive, but everything else looks remarkably healthy. In time, I should harvest tomatoes, Swiss chard and kale, peas and pole beans, white and yellow corn, and lemon cucumbers. I’ve never had much success with peppers, but my four pepper plants appear to be trying to change my luck. My eggplant also thrive, but have not begun to flower yet. Without much thought or planning, I threw in an odd assortment of flowering herbs into a pot, mainly because I think they are pretty. Even these appear to be sprouting, although some may be weeds. Overall, however, I’ve found the experience much more satisfying than in previous years. I’m guessing the time I took with the cover crop, soil preparation and mulching may be paying off.  

With my boys out of school, I’ve had a bit more time for knitting. I am attempting the Warm Bundles pattern in the Leisure Arts’ Tea for Two Baby Afghans pamphlet. Unfortunately, I’ve made almost no progress, but not for lack of effort. Each time I start to make any progress, I find I’ve made some careless mistake in the preceding rows and need to start over. I’m frustrated, but this seems to be my process for starting any new pattern. I lie to myself by thinking that my stitches will be more even for all of the practice, and I cast on once again.

On the writing front, work progresses, albeit slowly. I’ve been working at upgrading and updating my blogs. As is rather evident from this blog, however, I’ve not improved my posting consistency, but I continue to view that as a goal I intend to achieve. Since I haven’t given up the goal, I suppose there is still hope I will attain it.

I did recently discover the most amazing place. It’s cool and relatively quiet (by comparison to a home with three boys, nine years and younger). It has free Wifi and comfortable chairs. It’s called a public library, and it’s completely free (after paying my taxes). They don’t even ask me to buy a coffee! And it’s only moments from my home. With this discovery, I have renewed hope I can will get more consistent writing time.

And, speaking of consistent writing, I have refused to take poetry workshops for the past six months in the hopes of finding my own internal push to write poetry. Suffice it to say, my plan has failed completely. I’ve written almost no poetry in that period. For that reason, I’m excited that I will begin another workshop next week. I look forward to producing some new poems. I also hope the workshop will also give me the nudge I evidently need to polish my villanelle and finally send it out for publication.

I continue review books consistently. This past Saturday, I uploaded nine new reviews to my editors. Forced reading time and writing deadlines are part of what attracted me to reviewing, but I also hoped to cultivate a more discerning eye. After this last batch of reviews, I think I have become more discerning, particularly in the area of young children’s literature. Good thing, as six new books are winging their way to me for review as I write.

Finally, I’ve made no progress on my goal of writing children’s literature this summer. I have a wonderful book on writing picture books, but have made little progress because my reading time has been devoted to the review books.  However, I would very much like to participate in the Cheerios’ Spoonfuls of Stories contest this year, so I need to get to work.

Well, I guess I’m not being totally honest with myself here. I could have read the children’s lit book yesterday, but I was completely lazy. Instead, I read the latest installments in my two favorite murder mystery series.  I finished Earlene Fowler’s latest Bennie Harper mystery, State Fair, and started Janet Evanovich’s latest Stephanie Plum installment, Sizzling Sixteen. If I’m forcing myself to be truthful, I really couldn’t think of a better way to spend the day.
Of course, being lazy leads me to the subject of exercise. Right now, my exercise consists mainly of swimming with my sons for an hour and a half to two hours several nights a week. While I find this exhausting, I really doubt it is giving me the cardio workout that I need.

So, that’s a fairly decent summary of life in the Curious Mind Garden. I’ll try to stop by a bit more often.

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