Thursday, May 29, 2008

As I'm sure I've mentioned many times, the Vermont planting season really doesn't start until Memorial Day. My giant head o' steam deflated to simmer when the cold air swept down from the Arctic (or that demon Canada or wherever)Tuesday. Brrrr. With the possibility of frost, I froze (like a deer in the corn) and stalled the planting. BUT... we will be under way this morning (cross those muddy fingers).

As you can see, Casou the wonder dog jumped into the picture -- or should I say he was laying down on the job? I call this picture "Still Life with Dog." We were mixing potting soil for the six hanging planters (filled with white and dusty rose wave petunias) that dangle from hooks on our veranda. Ha! I always wanted to call our long, wide mahogany porch a veranda. Next we'll be serving mint juleps and fanning ourselves.

We rented a roto tiller and churned the dirt which has been sitting under a pile of snow, compost, and dead veggies that we threw into the fenced-off garden all winter. We mixed in a lot of "Cock-a-Doodle-Do" which was highly recommended by my sister, Joanne-of-the-Magic-Green-Thumb. Yes, she syphoned off all the gardening genes from our grandmother, who could raise anything, even a ruckus. Grandma Jenny had an organic garden in LA, as far back as the 20's. She also raised hothouse orchids. Some day more on her. She was a pip!

As for the title of this T13, I wasn't sure I could list thirteen vegetables to be planted in the garden. I might be adding flowers, edible and not, to the list. Hence the word "things" which is NOT my favorite word (you can ask my writing students who are admonished to ban "thing" and all "thing family" words from their writing). I hope they don't find this blog and realize I'm breaking my own rule. Oy.

So....without further ado... here's what I'm planting:

1. Wave petunias • In hanging baskets. I heard these don't need pinching. Really? Cool.
2. Cherry tomatoes • In containers on the slate patio. One red. One yellow. Yum.
3. Tomatoes • Early Girl and two other varieties. We love tomatoes.
4. Zucchini • Need I say more? A good year means loads of zucchini. I'm ready with my trusty helpmate, "The Classic Zucchini Cookbook," by Nancy C. Ralston, Marynor Jordan, and Andrea Chesman. This wonderbook includes 225 recipes for all kinds of squash. Breads, muffins, casseroles, side dishes -- anything a glut of zucchini will provide.
5. Yellow Crookneck Squash • My first time.
6. Green beans • I'm partial to bush beans. No poles to plant. But the bending to harvest can cause a little ache in the lower back. Still, fresh beans are worth the teeny tiny pain. I planted two versions - one regular, one gourmet.
7. Corn • Haven't had a huge success with corn, but it's fun to watch. The deer and other critters have left my corn alone. Last year, when the season was almost over, some squirrels climbed the stalks. I didn't know it at the time and watching the stalks wildly swinging and crashing was a surprise. Let's hope they wait and we harvest some sweet corn before the games begin.
8. Red pepper • One plant. I've never had much success with peppers -- green or red, hot or sweet. I'm skeptical, but I keep trying.
9. Pumpkins • This is another one I keep trying. Since I moved to Vermont, my dream has been to raise pumpkins for autumn -- decorations and pies. Sounds perfect, huh? I get lots of flowers, no pumpkins. Are my bees on the fritz? Do tell -- if you have a secret for success with pumpkins. (as a hush-hush sidebar, I'm also planting watermelon 'cuz somebody gave me seeds)
10. Basil • Lots and lots of the sweet, large leaf basil. Gotta have it fresh for pasta!
11. Cilantro • My first try. For salsa.
12. Radishes • Again, I'm an optimist. Never had much luck with these. I know -- this is the first plant for kids. I'm hoping the enriched soil and rototilling has aided my quest for a delicious radish.
13. Nasturtiums, Sunflowers, and Morning Glories • Ran out of numbers, but I am planting flowers all over the place. Morning Glories always seem to take all summer before they bloom. Boo. I've had no luck with sunflowers. Last year I tried Nasturtiums from seed and had a few grow with minimal bloom. Oh well, I'm not giving up.

As you can see, I wasn't born with the green thumb. I like to think what I lack in genetic intuition, I can make up with tenacity. I'm planting lots of Hope with these seeds. Good luck with your gardening!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ah Yes. Americans are waking up to the high cost of driving. I know Europeans have dealt with this issue forever and may have no sympathy for our gas-guzzling ways, but it's not easy to break the habits of a lifetime. Many will say, "I'm not changing!" And many will use hand gestures (or finger gestures?) to accompany that point. Others may bike to work (oy! that's a long trek on dicey roads for the majority) or take public transit. Some of us will have to be ingenuous . Most of us will take baby steps and make incremental changes. Soooooo....

How can we spend the Memorial Day Weekend (this sort of bugs me -- I don't get how a day can become a weekend and we can mix the two, but that's another blog) without using gas?

What's to say, after you yell at the screen, "STAY HOME!" ???

Don't get so testy! I've been pondering this question all morning and I've made a list -- just in time for Thursday Thirteen! Go figure!

Anyway, here are some ideas I'm going to try this weekend:

1. GAME MARATHON -- Looks like rain here anyway, so let's pull out Monopoly, Scrabble, and all the rest.

2. MOVIE MARATHON - What movies do you have on hand? I have six Netflix envelopes sitting on the coffee table with nothing to do. These include: The Great Debaters with Denzel Washington; Starting Out in the Evening (about a writer!); Juno (we never saw because our local movie theatre went out of business); Sense and Sensibility (the new BBC version which we didn't see because we don't have t.v. hook up); Crossing Jordan, Season 1 (same reason -- catching up on series because we don't have t.v.); and finally..... National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (how fun is that?!). In addition, I have enough dvds here to fill any theme marathon: romance, adventure, Harry Potter, Kevin Costner, the 60's -- a theme to fit any mood!

Since the idea is to NOT USE GAS, we will not be driving an hour to a movie theatre to see the new Indiana Jones flick. So, don't tell me the plot, please. I'm avoiding all reviews until we can pool our errands such that we drive to NH to see it (ah ha! saving gas!).

3. READ! My basket of books to read is overflowing. I hit the library AND a used book fair. OMG.

4. CRAFTS! I'm completely into Altered Art. I've been doing treasure boxes. But...Dominoes are my current rave. They are like little canvasses waiting for additional elements. Here are a couple of my first attempts:

5. OLD MAGAZINES! Cut up for collages and toss the rest. Oh, keep any good recipes.

6. GARDENING! In VT we can't plant (seriously) until Memorial Day. Sweeties -- it snowed this week. But I am hoping for a bit of warmth so I can at least do the hanging boxes. I have 24 wave petunias ready to go!

7. SEW! Have fabric, must create. And I have a quilt that needs finishing. And bags for my business --- although my website needs updating (another thing to do?)

8. CALL! Mom, Geoff, Joanne.... the list goes on! So, call your loved ones... after all, it's MEMORiAL DAY.. you might want to REMEMBER them!

9. OLD PHOTO ALBUMS! Talk about remembering -- maybe take a few minutes (that might turn into hours) perusing old photo albums, especially of those loved ones who've passed. I began a genealogy chart using a great software program and lots of information I found in a box of pictures, stolen from my mom's garage. I've also been scanning. To the left is my Aunt Nan (for whom I'm named).

10. PRACTICE! I'm going to work on my short game by chipping golf balls in the yard. I'll use whiffle balls so I don't have to chase too much. If we had horseshoes, that would be fun. Darts? Catch? Knit? Crochet? Jump rope? Lift weights! Time to learn a new skill?

11. WALK THE DOG! Both of us could use the exercise. Duh.

12. DANCE! A few weeks ago, I bought a cool swirly skirt, and the company included a great little dance CD -- full of oldies . That prodded me to download a Donna Summer album from iTunes. I'm rockin' now. I am not planning to do housework (hey! it's a HOLIDAY), but dancing is a nice way to move around the house for fun. I might just take breaks and yell out, "Ten minutes of dancing right now!"

13. EAT! I'm collapsing a category here. This includes bake (I found an EASY key lime pie recipe in the latest Real Simple magazine) and I will probably bake a couple loaves of sourdough bread, but you could do cookies, cupcakes, or pancakes -- whatever... have I said this enough? It's a HOLIDAY; barbecue -- hot dogs, hamburgers, salmon, eggplant... the list goes on; snack (you fill in the blank here) ; chop and dice (fruit salad, cole slaw); even churn ice cream (well, we do have an unused Cuisinart ice cream maker sitting here....

Soooooo.... I'll be lounging on the porch, rain or shine, enjoying the beginning of Summer (even if the calendar doesn't agree with me). I'll be gas-free! And notice, too, I'm not shopping or consuming ($$) anything extra -- at least not during those 3 days. I'll even refrain from shopping online. Quite the milestone for me -- turning over a new leaf. At least for 3 days.

I hope you have a nice break from the rat race, too!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thursday Thirteen -- I, Voyager

Okay... here's what I'm gonna do.... (you're thrilled now, huh? expectation sends chills up your spine? you tingle with excitement! you sit on the edge of your swiveling desk chair! you yawn and mutter, "Get on with it, BloggerGeek!)

I am going to pull 13 cards from my Voyager Tarot deck. I love the Voyager deck because it's visual -- each card a collage of photographic images. The deck names the suits differently. The suits and their counterpart names in "traditional" decks are as follows:

Wands = Wands - spiritual
Crystals = Swords - mental
Worlds = Pentacles/Disks - physical
Cups = Cups - emotional

Also, the sixteen face cards (4 suits/4faces) of the Minor Arcana are named differently. Here's how they correspond to traditional names:

Man = King/= mature/master masculine energy = transformer/builder/external
Woman = Queen = mature/master feminine energy = introspective/self aware/internal
Child = Page/Prince/Princess = young energy/new growth
Sage = Knight = androgenous/experience/embodiment of the element on the card

Each minor arcana card has a word on the top. I'll add that, too.

Twenty-one cards of the Major Arcana ( in the Voyager called Personality Archetypes; other decks call this group "major principles of life") are also named, in some cases, with different terms from the traditional decks. I won 't list all of these cards. In the list of 13, if I pull one, I'll explain the counterpart in the note.

I will call this the "Next 13 Days" reading. I'll give a very brief note to each card. Onward and upward.... I've shuffled four times -- for the four directions. I use my hand, infused with energy, to choose each card from an arc of cards laid across a velvet cloth. I merely take my palm and scan it across the cards -- when my palm tingles, that's the card. Here goes:

13 Cards for 13 Days

1. Thursday, May 15 - Two of Wands - Purity. Time to be true to myself. Good start!

2. Friday, May 16 - Three of Crystals - Creativity - Ideas are germinating, waiting for birth. Yes, I've been working on writing and art. A lot. Ready to go!

3. Saturday, May 17 - Two of Crystals - Equanimity - Time to be detached, resistant to the jumble and confusion of life. This makes amazing sense. I'm going to be babysitting two small children at a carnival. Oy.

4. Sunday, May 18 - Eight of Crystals - Synthesis - Use the sides that are artist and scientist for mental harmony, balance and evenness. That would be the "the creative artist" part of me + "the technician" part of me -- making way for each other and blending. Yep.

5. Monday, May 19 - Woman of Worlds - Preserver - Since "worlds" represent the physical, this card is telling me to nurture and provide physical support for myself. Clean the studio, clear the desk, I'm thinking.

6. Tuesday, May 20 - Two of Worlds - Reflection - In this time of physical relaxation (my summer vacation) and mental contemplation (see #2 above) I need to crystalize my plans, live simply and be frugal -- not to buy stuff that will cloud the mind. I do tend to "shop" when I'm in fear -- like when I get blocked in my writing life. That's a great admonition to remember.

7. Wednesday, May 21 - Six of Crystals - Confusion - Ideas grow and then you're overloaded The richness of ideas creates mental conflict and indecision. The inability to organize. However, out of chaos comes creative insights. Yes, I've been going NUTS about which story, of several, to complete. This card says I have to quit being cerebral -- get out of my mind. Time for a bath! Great idea!

8. Thursday, May 22 - Ten of Wands - Growth - A tree grows upward (spiritual) and downward (roots/grounding). A tree expands and blooms. Since we are in spring, our trees are flowering and fruit is beginning to emerge. I can say the same about my work. By next week, I may be bearing fruit. Something tangible? Let's hope so!

9. Friday, May 23 - Eight of Cups - Stagnation - Not exactly a word I enjoy. This card signals the possibility of emotional fatigue and flatness. Things could become sticky, swampy, blocked, dry, suffocating, and dead. That's the emotions. I can see that happening should I not heed the other cards. Time to meditate. I've had that answer several times in the last few days. This card tells me to heed the universe's advice -- or else.

9. Saturday, May 24 - Child of Crystals - Learner - Time to explore like a child -- open to new ideas. Explore the cave of my mind -- the way it works and its pitfalls. As this week evolves, I'm sure I'll have to sit and do just that.

10. Sunday, May 25 - Time-Space XX -- Traditionally known as "Judgement." This card speaks to the ability to see the causes and effects of mental and behavioral patterns. To understand who I am and where I am going. My visions and ideas bubble forth AND I need to watch the tendency to dwell exclusively in my mind -- beware of spacing out and ignoring my physical and worldly needs and responsibilities. I need to ground my perceptions. I take that as use my imagination -- the creation of stories -- and get them down on paper.

11. Monday, May 26 - Moon XVIII - this card is about natural intuition (feelings and dreams) that allow me to awareness -- to see patterns, read dreams, understand symbols. Wisely, the moon also portends the feeling of "out of control" emotions. So, be aware AND watch out.

12. Tuesday, May 27 - Six of Worlds - Synergy - Combine and interweave inner and outer resources. I have to make all the parts work in cooperation -- like a team -- to achieve my goals. I think that's becoming clear in the reading.

13. Wednesday, May 28 - Three of Cups - Love - The pink rose, the unfolding of my heart center. The card says I have to love myself -- find an inner union between my masculine traits (drive and responsibility) and my inner traits (creativity and awareness). Love is the glue to build anything -- especially a body of work.

Considering the overabundance of "crystals" cards reflects a time of much (great?) thought. Many of the cards speak to balance and union. Something creative is emerging. The message is to pay attention, nurture myself, and don't STOP. These cards say that I have the tools. I need to use them. I know. I know. You say, "Well, duh." Okay, okay, I heard you.

Looks like I have a heckavah two weeks ahead of me. With the exception of the carnival and a haircut appointment -- my calendar is clear. I see some writin' ahead, don't you?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

As usual, I was contemplating a completely different T13 (involving a dictionary and a set of questions) when I stumbled upon the word "duck" and began to ... dare I say.... THINK.

How many ways do we use the word "duck"? Or close forms of "duck"? Here goes a list of ducky idioms, by no means complete and in no particular order.

1. sitting duck
2. lame duck
3. lucky duck
4. dead duck
5. duck out
6. ducks in a row
7. just ducky
8. duck the issue
9. duck soup
10. like a duck to water
11. water off a duck's back
12. ugly duckling (close!)
13. duck walk

In the bonus round: rubber ducky, disco duck, ducking and diving, AND... what do I invariably utter when I stub my toe OR burn my index finger using the hot glue gun (don't ask)..... "Fuck a duck!"

Thursday, May 01, 2008

13 Ways I Love to Procrastinate!

I'm writing away. I hit a block. Darn! I'm in trouble. What should I do? Call Super Chicken? Alert my therapist? Go shopping?
(Hum Jeopardy theme here... )
AH HA! ...the brainiac light bulb surges with alternatives...

I leap into the air and shout.....

1. Bake something! Why else do we need to stand next to the oven for 45 minutes?

2. Mend clothing! That blouse has languished in the basket for six months and needs that (a) new button (b) new seam, or (c) a big ol' multi-colored sequin flower or Minnie Mouse or dragonfly -- right now!

3. My Netflix queue! Must be a new movie to add? delete? shuffle in the order? HEY! Who put that Dom de Luise film in the queue???

4. Catalogues! Another six Landsend, 4 JJill, and 2 Illuminations catalogues arrived yesterday. I must look at every item that I am NOT going to buy!

5. Tea time! Right about now I NEED a cup of tea and some quiet time. Popcorn? Why, thank you, I believe I need some of that, too.

6. Rearrange the freezer! long has that package of pork chops been on the bottom rack? I didn't know we had ....limeade? apple turnovers? eclairs? lobster tails!

7. A new recipe! Need something brand, spanking (wonder where that idiom started?) new for a dinner entree/casserole/dessert! Something different. Something exciting. Something.... I have to read through all six of my Weight Watchers cookbooks. Maybe I'll just check the Silver Palette books. Sure. I can change those recipes to low fat. No sweat.

8. Mailbox run! Maybe the post person has dropped off the mail? I'll just put on a sweatshirt and run down to the mail box and check. (Note: our mailbox is not visible from the house, so I will have to do this reconnaissance mission at least three times before the mail actually arrives).

9. Birthday cards! Why not check the calendar. After all, it's a new month. Yikes! Five birthdays in May. I might as well get ready now. Where did I put that box of cards? Under the bed? In the closet? under the roll of the roll top desk?

10. Snack time! ("Again?" you ask. Hey, this thinking is Hard Work. Besides, that last snack was a least an hour ago.) Whew, I need another pick me up! Check the news online (for the 75th time today). Become catatonic at the !@#$#@$% in the Democratic Primary. Go Obama! (ha! another superdelegate defects to Barack!)

11. Bookworm! (no explanation needed, but I am playing for Level 40!)

12. Read! That might make three books running simultaneously this week. Reading could be inspiring, right? Troll for problems in another writer's prose; snicker at implausible plot twists; consider what I might do differently (which means... what I would do "more better"??)

13. Rats! Absolutely last resorts: clean the tupperware cupboard; switch all the clothes in the closet -- box the winter stuff, unbox the summer stuff; and dust (dusting is ALWAYS a last resort. ALWAYS).

Sometimes, creating new T13 ideas is a productive (looking) form of Procrastination. Searching for graphic art is definitely a time burner. Planning the banner is a good waste of time. No!?! Oh well.... onward and upward! I'm going back to writing, right now!