Wednesday, June 19, 2024

We're having a heat wave


Not much to say for myself this week. We're having a heatwave, highs in the 90s, and my motivation has leaked out of my pores.

The book released on Saturday to very nice sales, and I also set up at my local farmers market and sold a few more copies.

I also finished the garden rehab and finally have proper space to set up my hammock. It's really surprising that I've emerged from it long enough to write this and occasionally use the bathroom. (When the temps no longer drop at night, I'm pretty sure I'll be sleeping out there, as I'm lucky enough not to be attractive to mosquitos)

This morning, despite the heat, we decided to sort out the growing chaos on the back patio. It's a project that's been coming, escalated by a new neighbor with an escape artist toddler. We have melted and now I'm in front of a fan considering what - if anything - I feel like doing next.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Garden Therapy

So the book comes out on Saturday, and basically I'm spinning like a top. And what's the best thing to do when I'm spinning like that? 

Go to the garden.

I posted earlier this spring about rearranging the backyard and installing new raised beds. They're all in, they're all full, and they are all planted except for one, which is getting a late crop of seed potatoes because my peas, which were doing so nicely, got eaten by something and now it's too hot and dry to start over with any chance of success.

The beds have two kinds of squash, two kinds of eggplant, cucumber, Lima beans, a variety of peppers from sweet to Mexican spicy, and far too many tomatoes. I planted three deliberately, and transplanted another seven of the volunteers that popped up.

What I finally have to do next week, when there is a little more clear space in my head, is order the wood chips to cover the weed barrier. I hate walking around on that woven plastic-y stuff. But I need to pick a day with a good forecast, and after a few days of clear weather because I don't want to shovel wet wood chips and transport them around the yard.

Pomegranate flowers
In the side yard, the blueberries are about half done. I want to get two more bushes to plant this fall, because I have spaces along the drive where other things didn't do well and they will. The fig tree is taller than I am and covered in little hard green figs. Now, I don't like figs personally, but my husband loves them, and I like to make fig jam. So it's worth the real estate. 


In the front, flowers are blooming away. The cherry tree actually produced cherries this year, but we didn't get as many as the birds did. I think this fall we'll trim it back so that it's low and wide enough to get a protective net over. Right now, I'd have to throw it from the second floor window, and my aim isn't that good. The peach tree isn't having its best year, but it had so much fruit last year that my neighbors were finding squirrel-relocated peach pits all up and down the street.

Overambitious fig
My favorite - although, like the figs, it's not my favorite fruit - is the pomegranate. Just because it feels so weird to grow pomegranates in Pennsylvania. We got 11 last year, and I'm hoping for more this year, because the blooms are crazy.

So that has been garden tour 2024. Inconsistent fruit, far too many tomatoes, and a backbreaking effort to not break my back again next year. We'll see. The whole point of putting in raised beds is to not rearrange things - or at least that's what I said 5 years ago, when I put in the previous raised beds.



Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The Son in Shadow - Chapter One

 

Prologue

     My life has been spent in the shadows of powerful men. Some people flourish in shadows, but I have not; shadows are cold, and those concealed in their depths are not clearly seen by those who live in the light.

     I wish to be seen.

Chapter One

There was once a time when there were two queens in England. Whether I was fortunate in working for them both depended entirely upon your point of view. My opinion varied from day to day, but I had little choice in my continued service of two mistresses, and therefore tried not to think about it too often.
     “The queen will be there ahead of us at the rate we’re moving,” my man shouted as our horses splashed through a wide, shallow river.
     “I doubt it.” I looked over my shoulder at the group riding behind me. “They have to take care and choose a place where she’ll be welcome.”
     We were lately come from Scotland and our journey was by necessity more leisurely than if a royal warrant had been available to grant us a change of horse at each stopping place. As we made our way south, a pathetic straggle of men ostensibly loyal to a vanquished queen, I took careful note of what was said at the inns and in the halls of the great houses where we lodged.
     The other men of the party complained at our slow pace, but I had experienced far worse, and unlike the queen whom I had served until recently, no one on either side of the border was baying for my blood.
     It was by this time mid-May, and the worst of the spring rains had passed. The ground was boggy in spots but having made this ride in the torrential rains of autumn years before, my mind registered nothing more than weariness and a mild concern for our horses. I was glad to see a village appear below, with an obvious tavern by the side of the road.
     Handing our mounts over to an eager young lad whose hand flashed out for the coin I threw him, we ventured into the room—dark even on a bright day, with the remains of a fire low on the hearth. Several tables were occupied, and we settled at an empty one near a rowdy knot of young men, hoping for gossip. Sometimes we asked outright about the Scottish queen and others only waited for news to be dripped into our waiting ears. And news there was this day, as we quickly learned.
     “Defeated at Langside,” said a young man in a dirty brown coat, his elbows resting on the scarred table. “Not even a fight.”
     He had been there when we arrived, along with several others, already well into their cups. By their rough garb, they were apprentices or land workers cleaned up for a ride into the village.
     “Were they so outnumbered?” I asked, hoping for more.
    “Melted away into the hills is what I heard.” He slammed his empty cup on the table. “Left her standing there with her teeth in her mouth.” 
     We were told that even though her Protestant lords had made it clear she would never be permitted to regain the throne, Mary had nevertheless mustered a force of some six thousand men and faced down her son’s army. When they were defeated, she fled south with a scant handful of supporters and was rumored to be making for England—which, of course, we already knew.
     “Good fellows, not wanting to be associated with an adulteress,” Robert Sturgis put in, his voice insinuating. “Or a murderess.”
     “Ha!” The man threw his head back, calling to the maid. “More ale here for my friends.”