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Soon to be renowned!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Keeping Busy

A still life for sanity. Yes, I made the crane ... do you doubt my skills?

What's a body to do? It's January. It's cold, dark, and dismal. The clouds hunch lower and lower in the sky until they collapse in a stupor and splat to the Earth with a great wet <plop> that will echo until June. The sun is a mythical beast. The family is restless, its father useless. The walls are closing in. The garden is ... well, it doesn't matter what the garden is because no one's stepping outside to find out. So how does the resourceful gardener stay sane in the off-season? Exercise? Pfff! NCAA hoops? I just ... no. Binge-watching old Star Trek episodes? Well, maybe. Hibernation? Tried that, I can't make myself sleep in past 5am. Or until 5am. Or for more than an hour at a time, anytime. Actually, what's the opposite of hibernation?

Coffee!

Don't worry, thanks to your pals .. er, pal ... okay, weird garden guy at Fencebroke Promontory, you won't have to resort to any of those soul-sucking pastimes. Lucky for you, I've compiled a handy-dandy list of meaningful, engaging activities to keep the northern-latitude gardener and family man sharp and productive right through the soggy gut of Winter. Next time you're feeling antsy, just throw a dart at this list and consider yourself occupied!

No ... you know what, don't throw a dart. Sharp projectiles and digital devices don't mix well and I don't want to be held responsible for any broken screens. Just look at the darn list and choose for yourself.

On with the list!

The list is as follows:

List:

<ahem>

Winter Activities For The Boreal Gardener (A List)

1.) Make a list.

2.) Hem

3.) Haw

4.) Make a fresh pot of coffee

5.) Drink a fresh pot of coffee

6.) Get sick

7.) Take care of your family when they get sick

8.) Get to know your pediatrician

9.) Start remodeling your kitchen!

10.) Stay up all night with sick kids

11.) Learn how to remodel your kitchen

12.) Cook dinner with a microwave

13.) Does anyone know a good contractor?

14.) Consider getting sick again

15.) Talk about a book you want to read

16.) Hear about a film you want to see

17.) Binge-watch old Star Trek episodes

18.) Um ... origami?

19.) Hey, didn't we used to have a kitchen?

20.) Go smell the witch hazel

21.) Again

22.) Listen to the wind-chimes

23.) Deep breath

24.) Seed catalogs

25.) It's going to be okay


There you have it, feel free to use as many of these ideas as you want. You'll likely find some more engaging than others, but rest assured I've thoroughly tested all of them for merit. All I can say is: thank god for seed catalogs.

... Yes, and Star Trek.



Friday, December 15, 2017

Consistency

They're really ... something.

There's something to be said for consistency. I'm not sure what, exactly, that something is, nor who, if anyone, is actually saying it, but it's out there, I have faith, waiting to be said all the same. It might well be something good. I mean, hey, this here sweet alyssum has been flowering at Fencebroke for almost nine straight months now. That's pretty darn consistent. Are the flowers mind-blowing? No. Are they transcendent? Certainly not. Life altering? Meh. But is there plenty of room beneath these unnecessarily hyperbolic descriptions for something ... worthwhile? Sure.

In fact, maybe we need a few more sweet alyssum-caliber benedictions in our lives. Not everything has to make you weak in the knees in order to push the day's balance a little toward the positive. We can't, after all, buy a new phone every day. I mean, yet. I certainly see people lined up in front of the Apple store every day, so god knows the demand is there. But until that happens, maybe we'd be better off noticing some of the little, consistent things in life. The things we tend to overlook which, upon closer inspection, might reveal themselves to be a bit remarkable. And full of happy bees. (Do watch out for those.) Like little white flowers still going strong in the middle of December. That's pretty ... well, it's pretty something. When I figure out what it is, I'll be the first to say it.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Basically "Mad Men"

Being a self-published author means you have to do a lot of different things. Which is unfortunate, because when I set about my writing "career" it wasn't because I wanted to do a lot of different things, it was because I wanted to, you know, write. And occasionally attend swanky awards shows, but I always just assumed these were an inevitable consequence of writing. Secretly I still do. Uhh ... don't tell anyone.

One of the things you have to do as a solo writer is figure out how to get people to read and/or buy what you've written. I've been told this is called "marketing". I'm not a fan. But, since our house gets very few door-to-door solicitations for indie garden lit. by itinerant publishers, critics, or book buyers, I've been forced to enter this strange world that is the psychology of the pocketbook. Wallet. Uh, credit card ... people don't really use pocketbooks anymore, do they? (Wait, is a wallet the same thing as a pocketbook?)

As I write this, on Thanksgiving evening, a great storm of controversy has erupted among those family members present about the term "pocketbook". It was a mistake to seek clarification in this setting.

Anyway, the point is, I now spend more time than I'd like trying to come up with novel ways to drum up readers and customers for the micro-niche of humorous horticultural miscellany I've so foolishly belly-flopped into. It basically turns my household into a scene from Mad Men. Well, minus the glamour. And production value. And, uh, rampant bigotry, infidelity, and sexism. But I've been told I could pass for a shorter, blonder, ever-so-slightly-less-dreamy Jon Hamm. Also, I've been trying to smoke more cigarettes, but so far all I can tolerate are the candy ones. Oh, and I wore a tie for a while, but it seemed to confuse the children. My poor wife has no idea what's going on.

This holiday season, especially, has kicked me into full on Mad Men mode. I put together several flashy proposals and presented them to myself in a high-stakes meeting. I criticized them ruthlessly and told myself to go back wherever I came from. I fumed, told myself off, and then fired myself for insubordination. Now I'm as confused as everyone else in my family.

So I settled on this, because I can't think of anything else:

The Kindle version of my book will be free again this whole Holiday-shopping kick-off weekend (Friday through Monday). Read it, if you haven't already, and then if you like it, maybe consider picking up the print copy as a gift for any gardener or otherwise weird person in your life.

That's it, that's all I got. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm out of candy cigarettes.






Sunday, November 12, 2017

Humans Who Grow Food


Hey, check it out! Fencebroke Promontory is currently featured on the Facebook group "Humans Who Grow Food". These folks do great work telling "stories of home gardeners and farmers across borders and cultures." It's inspiring stuff; even if you don't particularly care to see any more of my garden than you already have, do yourself a favor and check out their page!

https://www.facebook.com/humanswhogrowfood/

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Today Only!


Hey, spread the word! Today, Sat. Nov. 11th, only: the Kindle version of my book will be FREE on Amazon! This is one small way for me to say thank you for all those who have supported and followed me on this blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Another way would be to actually tell each of you, "THANK YOU", but I don't know your phone numbers or where you all live ... or even who you are. This is easier.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A Funny, Awesome Thing

Nature's "Frost"-ing

Yesterday morning the vegetable garden was wilted with frost, the first of the year. This morning: snow. For many vegetables, the advent of freezing temperatures spells doom. My tomatoes, for one, resemble nothing so much as a crop blighted by the nameless evil from "Stranger Things". But a funny thing also happens in the garden when the weather gets cold. A funny, awesome thing. Some of the vegetables don't blacken, putrefy, or collapse; some of the vegetables ... they get tastier. Sweeter. Carrots, kale, rutabagas and the like actually improve after being nipped by frost.

I love that. Now, the reason why this happens is that certain plants, when they feel the cold setting in, start manufacturing extra sugars. These dissolved sugars act as antifreeze within the plant tissues, preventing ice crystals from popping open the plant cells like Wolverine at a water-balloon toss. Which is cool, even if your eyes glazed over during those last couple sentences. Think about it: there's an entire class of vegetables who are like, "Hey guys, things are getting rough out there, should we ... you know, get more awesome?" And in this spirit, they join the ranks of other, more-awesome-under-pressure heroes such as first-responders, parents who lift cars off of trapped children, and reality cooking show chefs who are able to conjure a flan from thin air with 3 minutes left on the clock. It's a pretty elite group, one to which I myself would aspire were it not for my own tendency to shake like an aspen leaf when confronted with ... well, confrontations. And when it's snowing outside, forget about getting sweeter, I'm pretty sure my own tissues turn bitter from extra coffee—my own antifreeze.

So let us all, this Winter, strive to be more like the rutabaga. Let us all, in life, turn a little sweeter under duress, a little stronger when the world turns cold. I challenge you, dear readers, to be the vegetable in your life that looks around at the chaos and gloom and says, "Hey guys ... let's be a little more awesome".

As for me, I'll be inside, drinking coffee. But I'll definitely be cheering you on.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Blues

One of the Blues.

I've got them. The blues, that is. Mostly in the veggie garden, but still, there are a lot of 'em. Not the old 12-bar variety, mind you, no grizzled harmonicists lurking in the carrots with broken hearts, no bottleneck slide guitarists drowning their sorrows in bourbon and Brussels sprouts, but still, I've got the blues.

I've got the All-of-my-fall-and-winter-veggies-seem-to-have-'blue'-in-their-names blues.

My story is relatively free of traditional blues themes such as infidelity, cheatin', workin' all day, cuckoldin', workin' all night, and whiskey (hey, I said relatively free of these themes). In their place, you'll find my blue refrain cropping up on a theme of brassicas. 'Blue Wind' broccoli, 'Dazzling Blue' Kale—hang on, should I go get my guitar? I think it'd really add something. No? No one wants me to go get my guitar? Yeah, I'm going to get it anyway.

...

Okay, where was I? Bluuuuue Wind broccol—wait, hang on, I gotta tune this thing.

Shoot, you know what, it's actually missing a string. Okay, forget the guitar. It's mostly lost in translation anyway. Rest assured, I was about to really cut loose on that thing.

So yeah, the broccoli, the kale, I've also got 'Blue Max' collard greens (or should I call them "collard blues"? No, no I shouldn't, that's just confusing), and I can't recall for certain, but I think the leeks I planted are actually 'Blue Solaise'. I've also got 'Roodnerf' Brussels Sprouts; I would not at all be surprised to find 'Roodnerf' translates as 'Also Blue' in whatever country it originated. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about all the blues. In the great tradition on of accidental color palettes emerging from the garden mine is doubtless one of the more agreeable and benign. I just wonder if all that blue will start to weigh on me over the course of a long Fall and Winter. Oh well, if it comes to it, I can always buy some new guitar strings. Or a harmonica. Or some whiskey ...