green things


So in all the tax madness and third trimester (!!!) exhaustion that’s almost as bad as the first trimester, I’ve neglected the blog, and haven’t worked on Harvester the book nearly as much as I’d intended. But that will change, and soon, since April 15 (or rather, the 17th, which is this year’s tax deadline) is nigh!

However, I have not neglected my gardening. The roses framing the shed in the back yard, which we’ve determined are peace roses, are absolutely stunning, with multiple colors from cream to yellow to blush-pink, and I think even some brighter pink, given the new buds yesterday morning. I’m just relieved they’re not too crippled by the fungus which was trying to take over … my dad assured me that’s perfectly normal, and happens all the time, but it’s a first for me, and I was spraying like a fiend. I’ve also put four more hydrangea bushes next to the three already in the back, and we still need to plant the shade flowers, like the lily of the valley bulbs, and stone up the edges.

But the front garden is taking off nicely, including the rose bushes we planted last fall. You can just barely see the corner of the new fence John built in the first front yard picture; this weekend we’re going to stain it and carve out 3 more feet of garden for the day-lily bulbs, which I need to get in the ground asap. I even tried some vegetables in containers, which wasn’t as easy as I thought, although the beans are coming up, as is the Swiss chard. (Nellie or Buddy knocked the container of peppers across the porch, so that’s that for those.)

This weekend, some much needed writing time; I want to clean up “Grotto of the Helpless,” the Clarion week 4 story, but every time I open it I feel like I’m avoiding Harvester the book. So we’ll see what happens.

Also had my 7-month appointment this week! Hard to believe I’ve been pregnant (and sick) for over half a year; at least there’s an end in sight, and Baby J shifts enough, uncomfortably, to remind me nearly all the time she’s there. This baby-carrying thing is truly the most bizarre experience of my life.

Let’s see – loved the Hunger Games movie. I found it truly chilling and horrifying, almost more so than the book, frankly. Or maybe seeing that dystopian world come to life was what undid me. Sure, some things couldn’t be as fleshed out as in a book, and the end wrapped up quickly, but how else can adaptations work? Either way, I was pleased, although that’s not the right word for it; it was a very affecting movie for me.

Finished Caitlin R. Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl, which is remarkable, but not so much for me. Right now, I think I need very, very strong elements of spec in my fiction, and those are more weak in that particular novel, however masterful Imp’s unwinding is (and it truly is). For now, Kiernan’s shorts hold the power over this reader.

And, courtesy of my friend Steve, something that nearly made me die this morning: http://www.happyplace.com/15235/the-creepiest-easter-bunny-photos-ever-taken. Happy Easter!

Saying it like it is, this fine Monday morning.

John and I went to see the movie Real Steel on Saturday, and for me, it was the best movie I’ve seen yet this year. The robots just left me speechless – perhaps because I’ve been waiting to write a really good robot story. I planned to at Clarion, but never got to it, and its been burning in the back of my brain since…well, any time I glance at my bookshelf and see Tanith Lee’s Silver Metal Lover and Metallic Love, both of which I adore like nothing else. Oh, and let’s not forget Electric Forest. Just wow. The way Lee paints obsession, and the non-human humanity of metal flesh (and affinity for).

Soon. I’ve got to write that one soon.

Anyway, the movie was just fantastic. I know, another father-son redemption story, but the son was just so spunky (although the female lead drove me nuts – how many times did she REALLY need to say the main character’s name when talking to him? Writer’s fault, there. But … she just seemed to try too hard. Her character, anyway, and the romance felt contrived. Although by the end she seemed to feel more organic to the story – in a typical woman sidekick way.) And I was very, very glad they didn’t push the “this robot is different because he’s real! cliche.” That would have been so disappointing.

So yes, go see.

Next up: Breaking Bad.

Apparently, this show started in 2008, but I haven’t really heard of it (or anyone raving about it, for that matter) until my friend Brooke started tweeting her love for it. Needless to say, John and I are hooked. Fantastic writing, fantastic acting, and the drama is actually a little too much for me at times – I’m in a constant state of tension watching it, so I may need a little break from it soon. As soon as I find out what happens next. But there’s not another show on right now that’s grabbed me in the same way – Walking Dead season 2 premieres next week, and while I loved the first 3 or so episodes of season 1, it petered out fast, so I have my doubts with that (despite the fantastic preview, which makes me want to sit and write a zombie story NOW. Still appealing, despite the over-and-done-with of the craze). And no Game of Thrones until….next year? So that leaves us with … Family Guy. Not really the same thing.

Let’s see – Embassytown, by Mievelle. I couldn’t even get through the last thirty pages, and so I finally put it down. Not enough character for me – I need a seriously zoomed-in-on protagonist, and Avice (best name EVER) was never accessible. And now that I think about it, nor was the physical world. Too much…technical detail. I think I’m just not the best reader for it, although I did see its genius.

So I’ve brought with me today Charles Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and VanderMeer’s Finch, the latter a reread, because I’m craving dystopia/post-apocolyptia, per the usual. And because I need novels right now, as I work through Harvester the book, and to soak in as much as I can in terms of chapter to chapter motion, larger themes, and drawing all of that together in a seamless (and coherent) fashion.

Yesterday, I outlined the entirety of the first book including the male protag – it felt good to get that done. A 90k book, give or take, which is a little overwhelming (despite the fact that my first 2 were over 120k, 120k disasters) given the content I want to make sure comes through. How does one (e.g. a person like me) actually, successfully, depict the end of civilization as Heloise knows it? Especially a civilization like the Resplendent City of Free Living?

Probably a paragraph at a time. An image at a time. A thread at a time. Patiently. (Which is not something I carry around in abundance.)

Anything I didn’t cover? Oh, I’ve started a blood elf mage in WoW – their ability to one-shot others is just too brutal/impressive not to. And since I have leveling gear, it should go fast. And, I’ve been wanting to play some Bioshock and Borderlands again. Perhaps because I have been thinking about my first Clarion short, “North like a Star,” and wanting desperately to revise it – the Borderlands world, the raw violence of it, bears comparison to Bellis’ world.

Pumpkin. Pumpkin everything. I also have that on the brain. There’s a fantastic new grocery store here, with beautiful organic produce, so I bought quite a bit of it and hope to cook it all this week – lovely chards & greens & mushrooms & leeks and so much more…perhaps tonight the Veggie Potpie Stew from Appetite for Reduction, after a run. It’s 70 degrees today! Maybe we’ll get a real fall here.

Happy Monday!

>The weather today looks like the current background of this blog, only darker, blustery, and with driving rain. It’s lovely, but I’d prefer to be at home on the couch with hot chocolate, rather than at the quiet office, watching it through the window.

We’re robbed of fall here in OK in both temperature (yesterday, it was almost 90 degrees) and color – the trees are all green, still, or a boring sort of green/brown/neutral.

Except for the one tree in the front yard, which has exploded into orange. I kept forgetting to take a picture of it until yesterday, although by then, it had lost so many of its leaves.

I’ve finished fairly solid drafts of both Parasite & Round Robin, now, and have posted them on OWW. Already I’ve gotten some good feedback, although I’m certain Parasite has a ways to go yet. One friend called it ‘fascinating and complicated,’ which was the exact experience I had in writing it; I had to break all the ‘rules’ in writing it, given Josephine’s disability, which continues to have no shortage of complications.

While I wait for crits on that, I’m bringing up the alchemist story again, in hopes that things might just suddenly happen (like the end of Round Robin did, which had gone endless for nearly 2 years). It’s a lot to hope for, but you never know.

***

I want to make some of these recipes this weekend, particularly the Red Velvet cupcakes. Cupcakes! Just look at those delectable pictures. Surely there’s a way to make a less sugary frosting? But chances are John may not care for them, which leaves the responsibility of consumption up to me; and I’m too quick to give in.

>I finished “Parasite,” finally. The idea of it has been completed for nearly a week, but now the remaining gaps have been closed. I’m not convinced the ending is enough – actually, I’m nearly 100% positive it’s not – but that’s for a later draft, and I believe I need to spend some time with a thesaurus, also, for authenticity. But it’s a feeling of accomplishment, nevertheless, to add another short to the list. Perhaps this one will go somewhere.

And some moments that I caught at the nature preserve over lunch. As much as I complain about this state, it does say something for the fact that I can spend an hour here every day, rather than mad rush of downtown Chicago that was my lunch hour for the many, many years before I moved.

Leaf collages:

And these that made me long for Christmas:

>I found this against the door frame this morning. At first I thought something kinky was going on, and then I realized there was only one cicada here, and maybe it was hatching.

It was bright green, almost neon, with bulbous eyes like pinheads, and wings that faded from the same green to translucent and webby. It’s green cockroach hugeness was unsettling – I was quite worried it was going to jump into my hair and bury itself in my scalp, or claw my skin away with its frog legs. One of its feet still seemed attached to the shell, which looked like it had more guts and slimy stuff inside it than the dried-out shells we’ve found previously on the door.

I showed John, and then we started worrying it was dead. But then its wings started twitching, and it trembled a little, clearly alive. We were both so thrilled it was like a baby had said its first word, or walked. And then I took lots of pictures, because as much as I adore them, there’s only so many Buddy & Kitty pictures that are new anymore.
Although John did his own stuff-on-my-cat thing again this morning. He put my workout pants on Kitty, who was not amused.

>I’ve never cared much for beets, probably because of the diet back in high school that I only did once, but ruined me forever. Apparently, you could lose 10 lbs in 3 days if you ate only a handful of things for those 3 days, including cottage cheese, canned beets, canned peaches, and something else, maybe Saltines? Anyway, the beets made me vomit, which is really how I lost weight. Since then, just the idea of beets has made me queasy. Charlie redeemed them for me a bit with his wonderful array of roasted vegetables, including golden beets, red beets, turnips, different squashes and onions, etc., but I haven’t done too much with them by myself.

Then Krista mentioned the other day that she was juicing beets, since she’s doing the juicing thing with John and I (which is going very well). So I decided to give beets a shot, and bought a lovely bunch at the store two days ago. Today, I experimented with them, and thought I’d take a few pictures.

This is what I started with:

And this is what I got:

Beautiful, but beyond beety, even with the celery and cucumber and spinach, far more than I could handle. I added a grapefruit, and more celery, and finally an apple. Voila – a breakfast I can choke down.

I think I’ll make John a loaf of bread tonight.

>Right outside the front door at work. Aren’t they lovely? Several bushes of them.

It’s been a good week – I don’t think I’ve said that since January. I hope I say it until at least 2011. And, John and I figured out where we want to go for our honeymoon/anniversary. We might buy the trip tonight – we’ll see. And, I put Children Dumpling Soup back up on OWW (Gio tells me it works!!!), and finally got myself involved again doing crits. It feels great.

Tonight, turkey burgers, sweet potato fries and a glass of Macallan scotch, and a last hurrah on the legendary Halo 3 campaign before the beta for the new one comes out next week (John tells me that I’m a geek. Or is it a nerd? Because apparently there’s a huge difference…and it’s not as if he can really talk…) And hopefully the starter for the rye bread I want to make – it needs to sit over twelve hours.

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