Sunday, May 25, 2008

Writing a novel

The garden is not doing well, folks. I know the photos below look really great, and I can't wait to post the photos of the nice rows of lettuce as it began to pop its head up several weeks ago, but right now it is decimated by floods. I had planted some cute little tomato plants recently and they were trampled by floods too. I have no energy for the garden right now. Sigh. I'll post more pictures when Mr. Siren gets back in town. "Mr. Jetset" has been doing a lot of international travel for the past few months and I insist that he take the digital camera with him, so unfortunately I have not had the chance to upload any recent photos. Few more weeks and then you can cry with me!

I do have other news, though. I have made a commitment to myself to start writing a book, seriously, with an eye toward publication. I have no idea how this is going to go since it's going to take quite a bit of research. It's going to involve field research into federal prisons (something I know quite a bit about now), the armed forces (something many people I know, know quite a bit about), and Capitol Hill (well, at least I am well-located for those interviews.) I have an old tattered notebook with several fiction ideas that i've been dragging around with me for years, but a writer must write, and I want to at least try to write a complete novel before I'm 30. Maybe it will be a success, or who knows, at least I will get some experience in the hellish process. This idea is a new idea, though.

I guess i'll just have to write in the mornings and evenings and as for the field research- ?????. I'll keep ya updated. Should be interesting.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ready for Planting

After the garden had been sitting for a week, and I had made a couple half-hearted attempts to dig up the remaining strip, I began strategizing. Even should I dig the rest up, I did not own a rototiller. I could rent one, but did not know how to use one. I did not have a wheelbarrow to move the mountain of dirt! I just wanted to plant my plants!

My husband stepped in to save the day. "Hire someone!" he said. With this bit of encouragement I set about on yet another mission to find suitable hired help within my miniscule budget. It took 2.5 weeks to actually get someone to show up for the job, notwithstanding two fellows who actually had an appointed date and time!! But finally a nice woman from a nearby farm appeared with her own equipment and did the job while I was at work (coming home twice to check on her.) She never moved the mountain of dirt and it still sits there, nice and green now. One day we will move it.

So, BEHOLD, the garden ready for planting!

Looks beautiful, doesn't it? ahhhhhhhhhh . . .

So, what did I plant? Four rows of lettuce, none doing well to speak of now, a row of arugula, a row of mesclun greens. And growing inside, six kinds of herbs waiting to be transplanted, red and green pepper plants, tomato plants. Also planning to plant pole beans, zucchini, and maybe cucumbers.

I can't wait to pay for NO produce this summer! Oh i am going to plant garlic as well, but that is something that you plant in the fall, unfortunately.

The Novice Gardener

I am trying to grow a garden. I would say "we" but in reality it has been mostly me. So, step 1 was starting the seeds indoors in the winter. I got a nice seed tray and carefully and excitedly started the seeds. That will be a different post. But step 2 was getting a garden patch started.

Well, behold the jungle that was to be the garden. It was quite scary:

We had avoided this part of the yard for months, scared of the snakes, etc, we would find beneath these brambles. And they were thorny. But it was time to clear it, so I got to clearing. As you can see, i did have some small assistance from the mister on this part.

Once this part was cleared, what was left was a nicely cleared- a big- 11x16 patch of earth growing every sort of unidentifiable green thing. So, there was nothing for it except to dig it up. Yes, dig it up. With a shovel. I wanted to dig up all the roots of all living things, so that when I planted my garden, only things things I had planted would grow there. This was my novice idea. (A bit of foreshadowing, hmm? Seemed intuitive at the time.)

The digging part was so, so, so hard. I'm talking back spasms. It produced a "mountain of dirt" which grew next to the "mountain of brambles."

Slowly but surely, I personally dug up, down to six inches, the turf. To prepare a garden bed in your yard, you must dig up the yard, then remove all rocks you find. You must then rototill the soil and mix in a good topsoil. You must decide whether you want to do a raised garden bed or ensure that you have an area with good drainage, such as on a slope. All of this I learned in various gardening books and on the internet. Well, I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this digging. The Mr. helped for small spurts when I was so weary I was basically weeping, and bit by bit, it almost got finished.

The resulting mountain of dirt- this would be fun for kids if i had some: (see the brambles in the background?)

Since this is how the garden stayed for about three weeks after that, I'll make that the end of this post!! We have no wheelbarrow to move the mountain of dirt and I could not force myself to finish the strip to the right after the sheer amount of willpower and effort it took to beat my body into submission for the part you see completed. It just sat, and sat . . . . . while the seeds inside grew . . . :)

Intro from the Seeker

The Blog! The Blog! Finally i'm putting it up here! The problem is that I've had ideas for several different kinds of blogs . . . which has kept me from doing any of them. Well, i'm forging ahead here, for everyone's benefit (mostly my own) and this is just going to be one big blog of domesticity which reflects the sweeter side of life. With a little help from the mister I'll try to update as often as possible and family and cyber friends can stay updated on what my real life, up-to-the-minute personality is these days. (But you won't be bothered with my career or political musings here. That shall be a different, much more anonymous, blog . . .)

The title is also going to be the name of my boat, one day - and denotes my journey in this life. I seek Shangri-La- earthly paradise- a place to retreat and retire to away from the immense frustrations of the world I live in. I can see my parents and family members, including the mister, rolling their eyes at this statement, but thankfully, this is MY blog where I can tell the truth about my own thoughts! Here is a quick reference on the mythical Shangri-La:

My daily Shangri-La: right now is a slice of garden, my forays into cooking, and piles and piles and piles of books. Also, travel. I will share these with you. Bon appetit!