Category Archives: flowers and gardening

Adventures in Parent-land

I’m still tired. Went to help unpack the parents. Totally forgot sticky notes, but the sister had them at her house, so my niece made them out for the cabinets.

We worked like mules trying to get boxes unpacked and things put away, at least in the kitchen, trying to get the living room usable and the beds put together so we’d have a place to sleep. The sister and I worked. Mama was having chest pains. (She does that when she gets overworked.) The sister-in-law came over and worked too. She was the driving force to get the living room organized.

The house will be good for them, but it needs more work than I realized. For instance, the master bath was demolished for remodeling, only the remodeling never got done. So the master bath has no walls, no shower stall to go with the shower head, no floor… You get the idea. The other bath works, but it’s pretty worn. Then they had sewer trouble the day after I left to go home. And I’m worried about them being able to coordinate things and remembering to get it done. It really needs to be done as soon as possible.

My brother-in-law is disabled, so he’s home most of the time, and if the pain’s not too bad, he can make phone calls and help them out some. He was there organizing–we had to watch him like a hawk to make sure he didn’t try to move anything, though.

Downsizing will be a struggle for them–and we’ll be working on some downsizing too, I think, in the next few weeks.

Finished my character interviews this morning, so I’ll probably get back into the writing (I hope) tomorrow. This is for Old Spirits. Got to get rolling on that.

Weather’s kind of iffy to go out to the seawall today–lots of wind, clouds. Maybe even rain–can’t tell through the windows at the newsroom. Maybe just fog or mist. We’ll see how it is thirty minutes from now. I do think it’s far enough into spring that it’s safe to put all the houseplants outside if I put them under the covered porch where the wind can’t get them. I just hope the salt fog can’t get to them either. It gets to the cars every so often…

Oh! The house has azaleas outside the breakfast room window. I’ve always loved azaleas, but have never lived anywhere they would grow. I’m going to find my clippers and go out and cut some. Maybe a rose, too, if one of them looks good.

Birthdays and other stuff

So I had a birthday over the weekend. I am now another mumble older than my previous mumbledy-something age. :)

It was a very nice day. A lazy one. We went to the beach early. The water was still quite cool–actually cool, rather than the bathtub warm water you get later in the day. I think this is why I am so spoiled when it comes to swimming. I spent so much time in the Gulf with its oh-so-warm water, that I think that’s the temperature swimming pools (or lakes, or whatever) ought to be. Anyway, besides being on the cool side, the water was practically like glass. The surf’s rarely more than a foot or so high, but it will usually start a good fifty yards out from the beach. Not that morning. Ten feet. Maybe twenty. And beyond that, glassy, gently rolling waves. Just the way I love it.

I’m not much of a surf girl. I really don’t enjoy being blasted by the whitecaps. I like to go out beyond the breakers where the waves just roll in and float up and down. I don’t know that there are many beaches–except on the Gulf coast–where you can get out past the surf and still touch bottom. People complain about the puny surf in the Gulf, but that’s exactly what I love about it.

We didn’t stay long. Maybe an hour. The seaweed has stopped floating in. I’m told that when the seaweed stops, the jellyfish start coming in. It’s going to be hot for another month or so…I hope we don’t get too terribly many jellyfish. They’re not much fun. I’ll have to stock up on meat tenderizer. It’s supposed to help with the stings.

After puttering around online while the fella went to get a haircut, we spent most of the afternoon watching a bunch of episodes from the second season of ROME (my birthday present I got myself, donchaknow…). And then we went out to dinner.

In the past, I have made a joint birthday cheesecake or lemon meringue pie for me and the fella, since he’s so much older than I am. (Eight whole days.) Usually, though, there’s at least one other person around to help us eat it. Since even the boy was away from home, I didn’t bake. So, we decided to have dessert with dinner.

I didn’t realize that the two places I had chosen as an either/or for my birthday dinner were literally around the corner from each other. The first place was all booked up (that’s what I get for having my birthday on a Saturday), so we walked over to the other place, the Saltwater Grill, which just happened to be right in front of where we’d parked the car. They had lots of room, fast, perfect service, fabulous food and we split an order of butterscotch bananas for our birthday cake.

Oh, my, LORD, those bananas were good. It was just a whole, sliced-lengthwise banana (cut in half, so we each got half a banana) drenched in just-made, so-good-it-must-be-a-sin butterscotch sauce. There was ice cream, and some whipped cream, and some strawberries and blueberries on the plate, and they were all the yummier for the butterscotch sauce. We practically licked the plate clean. I’d have licked it, for real, if we hadn’t been out in public.

The corn-and-crab chowder was yummy, the seafood pasta had so many shrimp and crawfish tails in it, I couldn’t eat them all even when I quit eating the pasta to concentrate on the goodies, the fella’s fish just quit swimming that morning…but as good as that was, man, those butterscotch bananas… Who needs cake???

So. Now that my self-indulgence is out of the way, who’s got books? If somebody gets a copy of The Eternal Rose from a bookstore, any bookstore that isn’t direct from Wildside/Juno, will you let me know? Thanks.

And I’m working away on Thunder still. I got three pages written today. Wrote several pages of synopsis yesterday. And I got hit by a brainstorm for this story… don’t know yet if I’m actually going to do it, but it would increase the conflict by a buttload, so I just might. I’ll think about it some more.

I also finally repotted the tropical plants I bought–a salmon/yellow hibiscus, a white jasmine, two “blueberry ice” bougainvilleas (I already have a “raspberry ice” one), a rex begonia that seems to love the humidity outside, and a variegated African violet I moved from the panhandle that I’d never got round to re-potting. I ran out of soil in the middle of the job, and had to run back to WalMart to get some more. It’s so nice to be able to do that. (Though I could have run down to Smith’s Feed and Seed back in the panhandle, if I’d done it there.)

Strange Spring

This has been a very strange spring, weather-wise, in the Texas panhandle. Not only has it been very rainy, but it’s been cool. Usually, by Memorial Day, we’ve had several days in the 90s (above 32C) and it’s pretty much stuck there. This year, we haven’t reached 90 yet, and most days haven’t made it into the 80s (26C). This is extremely cool. I’ve had to pull on my light jacket inside a lot of days.

Some will say that this proves that global warming is nonsense, but weather naturally varies from year to year. But something changed this year (or maybe the end of last) that I think proves global warning. The USDA had to change the growing zones.

These are the zones that show the average minimum temperatures which determine the hardiness of plants that will grow in that area. When we moved to our part of the panhandle, we moved into zone 7 which has a large number of plants that will grow here. Lilacs–which need more cold–will grow in zone 7, and you can also leave cannas in the ground year round without them freezing. However, in the recent “rezoning”–the southeast Texas panhandle is now in zone 8. Those lilacs are going to be under more stress, with hotter summers and warmer winters.

Growing zones are determined by the average temps over a large number of years, so obviously those averages are moving up. Global warming.

I want to give a shout-out to Jessica (and congrats on that baby boy!) and to Lindi. Don’t know when you’ll have time with a computer, Lindi-girl, but we’re proud of having an Air Force girl in the family. Come visit us if you can, while we’re in the same state. :)

Also, I sent an excerpt from The Eternal Rose out to my newsletter subscribers last week. An excerpt that I will not be posting on my website. So if you want to read it, subscribe to my newsletter. >:D The how-to is on my website. I’ll also give subscribers first look at the “official” excerpt when I post it on the website, if you need more motivation to sign up.

Okay, off to the doctor. I’m coughing like one of the lungs wants out…

Paint Class – Done for Spring

The spring semester has ended, and with it, my art class. For now. I probably won’t sign up for the summer class until I know more about how my summer will go. Which means I may not get to go paint, if it fills up. More people sign up for the summer classes.

In a weird aside to the art class thing, I got a certificate for completing an “Intermediate Fencing” class. I didn’t think I signed up for fencing. I never went to a fencing class. I might have signed up for piano–my art teacher also teaches piano, and sometimes I sign up so she has enough people in her class to “make.” I always kinda wanted to go to fencing class–just to watch and see how it’s done, not because I thought I could do it.

Anyway, at my last painting class, I finished up a couple of pictures. I think they turned out pretty well, but we’ll see what you think. I’m only going to post one of them though. I’ll put the other one up later. Those of you who know the boy–does it look like him? If you can tell who it’s supposed to be, I’m going to assume it does. :) (A lot of the shading in the painting doesn’t show up in this photo, alas.)

The roses and the sage are blooming like crazy. They should continue to bloom all summer long, which is nice.
I may finally have enough flowers to hide the weeds in most of the front–but the burr clover in the back…I need to get busy before all those burrs stick to my socks…

Let’s see–I didn’t mention my Mother’s Day. All the kids called to say hello, and the grandboys did too. It’s a little alarming when you ask “How are you doing, sugar?” and the little voice says “I’m much better now.” Turns out the oldest had strep throat all last week. But he’s much better now. So, I talked on the phone, and I took a nap for Mother’s Day. I was very tired, because we drove down to Lubbock the evening before to watch the college baseball team in the regional playoffs, and we didn’t get home again until after 1 a.m.

That late, it’s safer to drive up through the canyon–you have to go around the Paloduro Canyon to get from here to there and back again–and around sundown, there’s a lot of wildlife on the road. It’s pretty country driving through the bottom end of the canyon–I have never seen it so green. Wildflowers and green, green grass everywhere. We’ve had a very wet winter and spring this year–for which we are grateful, after last year’s drought and fires. The average rainfall in the Texas Panhandle through this time of year is just over 5 inches. We’ve had 15 inches of rain so far this year (not counting the nice rain we got yesterday morning), so no wonder everything is so green. We’re 10 inches ahead. Anyway, we did see a deer driving back home again, but only one. I’ve been down that way in the mornings and seen turkeys, deer, coyotes, road runners and maybe wild pigs (Those pigs are sneaky) out on the road.

Oh. And the Bulldogs lost, but they were playing against one of the top-ranked pitchers in the NJCAA–a guy who usually “run rules” the other team. (“Run rule” is when they call the game after the 7th inning if one team is ahead by 10 points or more.) And the score was only 6-1. They were actually proud of holding them that close. I think they won their second game. But lost the 3rd. So the guys got to go home. And given that some of those students live in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne, Australia… You know, it was just a bit odd to hear “chatter” in those Aussie accents…

More Flowers

Had to mail some stuff today–the fella went to the post office to pick up the mail, but I had things to mail off, so I did my post office-park-ball fields-6th Street circuit, and when I got back to the house, looked to see whether the apricot-colored iris was open. It was, and gorgeous, of course. There was another new iris open too–the sun was really bright so the pictures are a little glare-y on the white petals, but I’m just tickled with how pretty they all are. I guess I won’t snitch a piece of the pink one from the yard over on Main Street just before the park, even if I like it a lot. Not much place to put it…

We’re heading to Memphis (yes, there is a Memphis in Texas, just like there’s just about everything else) tonight to check out an estate auction for the old Memphis Hotel B&B. Ought to be some cool stuff, though I don’t know what we’d do with anything more than what we have…

I’m just blithering on here to get some words to wrap around the flower pictures. Talked to the older son last night, and Little Bit–his boy who just turned 3 this week–loved the Tow Mater pillow/doll we sent. Every little boy needs a squishy Tow Mater. Now I have to get the package ready to send to the daughter (& family) for her birthday. Some of it is stuff I’ve been meaning to send since Christmas. (Yes, dear, this means the cactus blossom painting I’ve been promising…)

I’m still typing in story. I stalled out today–at about quitting time–when I ran into a big chunk of exposition I’m seriously thinking about leaving out. But I think I’ll go ahead and type it in, then when I print everything out, I’ll be better able to figure out where to make the cuts and how to transition from one part to another. I am tightening it up pretty good as I go. Synopsis is still 16 pages long, tho. But part of that is because a fantasy needs its universe explained, and New Blood is a new universe. I’ve typed in 200 pages, and have more than half yet to go. Groan. It’s going to be WAY too long. sigh.

Prebby Flowers

That’s how Doodle Bug says “Pretty Flowers”–or at least he did at first. He’s the 4-year-old autistic grandboy, and he works very hard to make his words come out properly. He talks a little slowly, but he’s very careful with his words. Anyway, this blog entry is called “Prebby Flowers” because I have some in my front flowerbed.

These are the iris right outside the front door. I’ve never had any of the maroon-with-white iris before, but I did have some of the Batik iris (the purple streaked with white) in our previous house. Last year, very few of the iris bloomed, but we’ve had a wet winter (and a very long one, but the snow didn’t seem to hurt anything), and everything is blooming like crazy.

Now these iris are under the bay window, as you can see. The apricot one isn’t quite open yet–I’ll try to get out and take a picture of it tomorrow… (Hmm. That reminds me. Better take the battery out of the camera and charge it up. It was telling me I needed to do that.) But I thought the blue picotee iris were pretty. And if you look on the right side, you can see the rose buds getting ready to bloom. A few are open already, but they’re not where I could get a picture with the iris. You can see a little bit of the blue sage behind them… I’ll have to find the picture where I got more of the sage… Can you tell I like blue flowers? (The roses are red.)

Um. So. This week, I worked on revisions for New Blood. (The Victorian blood magic book, remember?) I think I have the chapters all revised. Need to input the revisions on the synopsis yet. Then I want to let it sit a while longer and go over it one more time. Then I need to type in the rest of the story, and make notes about the changes and revisions I want to make there. Some I can do while I’m typing in, but I think there are some structural changes that need to be made. And that’s not so easy to do while typing. I was rather amused today when my horrorscope said that I needed to put away my artistic project for a little while and go back to it later. Exactly what I intend to do. :) Once it’s typed in.

I had to take time today to judge some contest entries that were due on Saturday. I enjoyed judging them, but I missed the e-mail that said when they were due back, and there wasn’t anything in the packet. I learn a lot myself when I judge contests. It makes me realize what’s missing in my own writing–and I need to go back and ramp up the emotion one more time when I go through the chapters again.

Mostly I wanted to share my prebby flowers with you in this e-mail, but I can whine too, right? I burned my hand Saturday. Burned it bad. Bad second degree burn. (Disgustingness alert! Don’t read more if you are easily grossed-out.)

It blistered up Saturday night, and popped. Then it blistered up again on Sunday. Bit fat quarter-inch swelling ugly blister. Monday a.m. it got a little hole in it, and all the water leaked out, and kept leaking until today, when it basically ripped open. So I put antibiotic on it and put a bandage on it (which wouldn’t stay on my palm), and have been babying it. But it’s still pretty icky. I’m just glad it was on the thumb side of my lower palm. I could still type. So there. That’s my whine. I’ll share more flower pictures with you soon. I didn’t even show you the all-maroon ones. Or the white ones. Or the two-toned maroon-and-yellow ones… Yeah. I got prebby flowers.

Varieties of Working

When I come into my office to write, I say I’m Working. In fact, in my “labels” for this post, when I put “work” up, that means the writing. Because I am a full time writer.

And it is tiring to sit and write. I do my first drafts in longhand, remember, so there’s a little handcramp to deal with, and there’s always the dreaded fanny fatigue. Sometimes, if my thumbnail gets a bit long, it digs into my forefinger as I’m holding the pen. And that doesn’t even count the mental exhaustion. Or the tendency to slump into slumber…but that usually doesn’t hit unless I try to write in the afternoon.

I’ve been writing a love scene this week. Or trying to. For some reason, love scenes seem to take me forever to write. It’s not that I don’t like writing them, or reading them either, but they’re just hard to write. I mean, it’s the same basic act every time, only the characters differ from book to book…and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, they’re the same characters…but they’re in a different place in their lives. And that’s the only thing that’s really, essentially different. But you have to make each love scene different, anyway. Because they’re different people at different points in life, and … and I have really had trouble getting into this particular love scene.

Every time I think I’m getting it finally underway, the heroine comes up with some NEW problem, some Other difficulty that is messing up her head, and frankly, she’s as frustrated as I am. I think I have finally solved ALL her problems, and we’re going to get some nookie going…but I have diabolical plans, and I know what will happen when things finally cut loose a little, and they’re going to have to get into yet another conversation before they can get back to business. Monkey business, that is. And then they can do magic.

But that wasn’t really what I was going to write about when I started this. See, I went out and pulled weeds again yesterday. And I was so tired and so sore, I fell asleep after supper and almost didn’t wake up in time for choir practice–and the concert is this Sunday. (I’m wearing my new pink-and-black jacket.) And there are still way too many stickery thistle-dandelion things. (They’re not really dandelions, because they’re stickery, but they have yellow flowers, and make puffball seedheads, so…) I don’t think any have bloomed yet. Maybe I can stay ahead of them. I’m not pulling weeds today. I’m getting a blister on my right palm from the trowel, and it’s cold and rainy outside. Today, I’m going to be lazy. So there. :)

Sprung Spring

Spring has exploded in the rolling plains. Winter hung on and on and on–and then all of a sudden, kablooey! It’s spring.

The daffodils came and went so quickly, I missed them, and I’ve already got iris blooming. I mention this, because I finally went out and worked in the front flower bed this afternoon, pulling up those giant thistle things and volunteer elm trees that I missed last year. And I only got one corner of the bed, the one under my office window that has horrible heavy clay dirt that turns rock hard when it dries out, and is overrun with Bermuda grass. (Which I HATE. Hate, Hate, HATE.) And now my shoulders are killing me even more than they were before I went out to pull weeds. And I have the whole rest of the flower bed to pull the thistles and elm trees out of. (sigh)

But the sage is coming back really strong and the iris are putting up lots of buds, and the roses are leafing out nicely (need to replace a rose that died with one of the ones we put in pots–I think the other potted one may die before spring gets too much more advanced…) and the lilies are coming up. Lots of work to do, so I can’t slack off. I’ll be getting different exercise in this week.

I only got 4 pages written today, even though I spent my 3 hours at the work. I ran smack bang into a love scene. I wasn’t ready for it, so I finally quit and went off to think about it. I know what needs to happen, but I need to figure out how to get into it. My characters are always too dad-gum talky. (sigh again) Tomorrow the love scene. I shall prevail!