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around the house conventions gardening seasons

World Fantasy Convention!

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Next week. Where has the year gone, I ask you?

The final schedule is out, and I have one panel and a reading.

Friday 6 Nov: Broadway 2 • 12:00
Reading: I will be reading some selections from JERICHO.

Mass Autographing Session :

8:30pm City Center 2A and City Center 2B
Open to signers at 8:00
Open to all at 8:30

And on Saturday the 7th, my panel:

2:00•City Center 2A : Fantasy and Detective Fiction — A Natural Fit?

After that, on Sunday 8 Nov at 6pm, I’ll be appearing with a host of other writers at Flights of Fantasy Books and Games. Julie Czerneda! Anne Bishop! Garth Nix! Many more! Then that will be it for travel for 2015.

Here at the ol’ homestead, I am watching the leaves fall and trying to work up the nerve to assemble the leaf grinder/mulcher that I bought earlier this month. No more raking the leaves to the curb for the city to pick up, said I. Instead, I shall grind them and use them to mulch the shrubbery in preparation for the winter ahead.

We’ll see how it goes. Last  year, I mulched some of the leaves with the mower, but there were just too many and I wound up disposing of well over half, along with all the damned needles that fell like rain from the Scots pine in the front yard. This year, it all gets ground up. I’ll leave the ground pine needles under the pine and spruce trees, and save the leaves for the shrubs. Oak leaves–of which I have so so many–are acidic according to all I’ve read, so the hydrangeas and hibiscus should like that.



around the house gardening seasons

Yes, we have no tomatoes

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There will be no raised bed garden this summer.

I first installed it back in 2009. The first few tomato crops were incredible–I had 6-7 plants, and spent most every weekend from early August through early fall making marinara or tomato casserole or salads with fresh basil (I grew that, too). When the chill weather came, I picked the greenies and stuck them in paper bags to ripen, and had fresh tomatoes into December.

I added compost to the soil and added fresh soil every so often, but for whatever reason–weather, poor choice in plants–the harvests fell off. Last summer’s was the worst–it was so cool that even the farmstands struggled. I managed a couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes and some mesclun. Part of me missed the buckets and buckets of harvest, but part of me didn’t care. It had stopped being fun.

I gave the plastic framing to the chimney repair guy, who had a friend who was planning a raised bed garden. That left the dirt, two squared-off mounds of tightly-packed topsoil. Today, I shoveled it into the wheelbarrow and dumped it around the plants near the deck. Over the next few weeks or months or however long it takes, I’ll trim the area with the edger and add more soil and mulch until it looks neat and proper. I have spirea and hibiscus growing there now, and would like to add a few more things. Some of the daffodils in the front yard are putting forth nothing but greenery, which means the bulbs have birthed bulblets that are sucking away the strength; I’ll separate those and stick some near the deck. Look for some shorter shrubs that flower. I am thinking about moving the birdbath garden to the sideyard outside the fence given that the seed that falls to the ground has attracted skunk for the last few years and Gaby has never met a skunk that she didn’t want to harass, the results of which you can guess. If I do that, I can move the astilbes that are growing there now to new homes near the deck….

That will be the outdoor project for the year. Get the backyard in shape.

around the house writing

Still here

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Summer has zipped by. I’ve been having work done around the house–deck repaired and stained, dishwasher installed. Thought I’d catch a break for a bit, but the handyman called this evening–he has an opening, so he’ll be by tomorrow to fix one of the walls in the bathroom and repair some tile. So I cleaned out the cabinet that is going to be removed, then vacuumed because doesn’t everyone clean before workmen come to the house?

Oh well. It upsets the day, but it has to get done.

Nothing to report on the reissue of CODE etc as ebooks. Struggling with some short works–I start them, and think, who would want to read this? It’s been done before. The thing is, just about everything has been done before–I could write a one-sentence synopsis and likely be able to think of several already-published stories that fit it. And they would all be different. Because it isn’t the idea, it’s the execution.

If I keep telling myself this, I might come to believe it.

around the house life

Still kicking

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Damn, but it’s been a while.

Almost a year since I retired from the day job, and I don’t miss it a bit. I’ve been dealing with house repairs, though not as quickly as I would like. The worst job, going through all the worldly goods and disposing of what I no longer want or need, has been a slow go. I did get rid of a mess o’ unwanted weed killer, non-organic lawn care stuff, and acrylic paint a couple of months ago, but clothes, books, collectibles, furniture and assorted junk remain unsorted. Last summer I said I would do it during the winter, and during the winter I said I would attack it in the spring. Now, July is winding down. I did schedule some decks repairs–the guy who started the work last fall never finished and wouldn’t return my calls, so I needed to find someone else. That contractor will also be doing some work on my cupboards so I can finally get a dishwasher installed, which will be cause for much excitement in the realm.

As for the junk, it will get sorted. It has to. But I’m not looking forward to it.

Seven years today since my mom passed. I am not an anniversary/memorial person as a rule, for whatever that says about me. But today I had to do a lot of running around in the area around the hospital where mom was treated and the hospice in which she passed, and it got to me. Memories of driving from hospital to hospital to pick up records or to restaurants to pick up treats that she said she wanted and then wouldn’t eat–the spirit was willing, but the appetite was no longer there.

A restless day.

No updates concerning Jani e-bbok conversions. I thought I had something set up, but that may have fallen through. I may need to simply buckle down and do it myself.

Currently playing in the background is an old episode of Rick Steve’s Europe. Tuscany and Umbria. So gorgeous.


around the world weather


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Yeah, it was cold. Snow blew and drifted and crackled underfoot. The wind bit. The house creaked. No exciting frost quakes, just loss of cable internet for most of Monday. Given what other folks went through–stranded on roadways, in train stations, etc–not going to complain. Well, not much. I did get cranky as the day wore on and the lack of instant news/stock market/publishing gossip got under my skin. I fear I am an addict.

I struggled to assuage the longing by baking brownies. Pondered a wip. Started reading Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper, an older YA series that folks online had been raving about as a classic winter reread. I’m halfway through and have put the rest of the books in the series–5 in all–on hold at the library because yeah, the story is pretty good.

But hey, the warm-up has begun! -3F currently, but the wind has died. Saw a squirrel for the first time since Sunday, gnawing on the fresh suet block. A few hardy birds had gathered throughout the onslaught–the usual crew of jays, cardinals and juncos and even a pigeon or two–but more today, because HEAT WAVE!

I was worried about the car, since the garage is detached/uninsulated/unheated. But air temp in there is routinely 10 degrees warmer than the outdoors no matter what. That meant it was close to 10F in there this morning, which in turn translated to yes, the car started and I was able to get out of the house for the first time in 4 days. That lightened the general mood considerably.

Hope everyone affected by the polar vortex–that is so the name of my next band–is staying warm. I’m looking forward to spring, but there is still so much winter left to live through.