Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Is it just me or is it awfully quiet around here?

I've been quiet lately, mainly because my DH and I are working daily on putting the house back together. Yesterday I finished all but one door transition, and I filed away a bunch of paperwork.

Two writers generate a lot of paperwork.

And then I have the writing projects, and book covers, etc.

Enough excuses.

Speaking of quiet, our house is very quiet. The new laminate floors have made it less quiet--sound travels easily across that slick surface--but there's not a lot out here to make noise. We don't have a lot of cars go by, for example, and there's not enough traffic for anyone to honk at anyone else unless they're being particularly dicky. Our animals make sounds, but usually not all day. The chickens sometimes get into spats, or they'll make noises after they've laid an egg. The goats only bother to make noise if they see us and suspect that we'll bring over some food. We don't keep the tv on. Not that it's actually a tv tv--we don't get any reception out here and I don't want to buy a big antenna, so we just plug in a dvd (no commercials, yay!) when we want to watch something. We might watch 2-3 hours a day. Sometimes I have the radio on for half an hour, but that's not even a daily thing. Once a week, at best.

It's so quiet that when my DH grinds coffee, it sounds really loud. When I'm in bed and he needs to grind some, he muffles it with a dish rag. We can hear our refrigerator cycle on and off. The fan on my computer is the loudest sound in the entire downstairs unless a badly tuned truck races by or one of our dogs walks over for a drink of water near my window.

When we first moved here, I loved the quiet, but it took some to get accustomed to it. I still wake up at the sound of slight noises sometimes. I wouldn't want to go back to more white noise, though. I like being able to hear the jays across the street at my neighbor's vacant property chatter to each other on the way to our bird feeder. I like being able to close my eyes and hear the faint sounds of my family doing breakfast stuff. I like that I can hear our postal carrier pull over and drop off mail. Sometimes I even hear the click of the mailbox shutting.

I wonder what our ancestors experienced, with few or no walls, no modern insulated windows, nothing, really, to soften the silence. Was it beautiful, or empty ... maybe both ....

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gardening with Friends

It's seed ordering time!

Yep. It's that time of year when I stop leafing through seed catalogues and actually go downstairs, get online and order what I want.

I've got about an acre of veggie garden, and I still don't have enough room to plant every single seedling that comes up all viable and beautiful from each one of those packets. If you've got gardening pals, you might consider putting together a group order. Everyone puts together a wish list, brings it to a seed meeting, and negotiates with everyone else so that they can split up packets as much as possible. It costs less, and everyone will have more than enough. Why bother? How about this: Maybe you have only enough space for five tomatoes. Seems kind of silly to buy 25 seeds, and be stuck with just that one variety, when you and your friends can pick your three favorites and everyone gets a few seeds of each.

An alternative is to learn about seed storage. I do okay in the seed storage department, but it's a real science. The more you learn, the better chances you'll have of seeds not just sprouting but actually becoming thriving plants. There's still the issue of having to buy in to whole packets of each variety of thing, which can be expensive, but at least you'll be able to have the same sort of garden each year and learn more about how to grow it better. Of course if you chose your varieties poorly, that may mean making the best of an iffy thing. Or you can toss the loser seeds and keep the best ones.

But it's more fun to garden with friends. Check out your local gardening clubs. I found a whole bunch of them in the newspaper without even trying. And Google is your friend, as always. Even if it doesn't seem like your sort of thing, it doesn't hurt to do a little snooping around. You never know. You may discover that there's a local turnip society. It can be nice to know that you're not the only person in town who loves turnips.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Dream Farm

This is a special message to those of you who dream about having a little acreage with a few animals and maybe a small garden in which you can grow bountiful and healthy (and hopefully heirloom) produce with no chemicals--

Today, in the rain and snow:

* Started my work day with my work shoes in a bag because I had to walk through a really deep puddle to get into my car
* After I got home, before dinner, shut in the chickens for the night so that the raccoons won't get them, hoping the rat won't hurt them
* Went downstairs and found out water was coming into my office. Again. Put on my boots, went to the shed in the rain and dark and slush (there's spiiiiders overwintering in there!!), got a shovel and began to divert the water coming down the driveway toward the house (again) with no real clue as to whether I was doing any good whatsoever and praying I wouldn't hit the phone or electric line (I think I know where they run ....)
* Found out that the internet was down. Called tech support. The new guy on the other side had no idea what to do with dialup accounts. He tried to look up some phone numbers for me. I fixed the problem myself in the meantime. But he was very supportive! Go him!
* Cats are whining because I won't let them out in the storm where they might get eaten by coyotes
* Checked the garden and discovered that the semi-perennials I planted and nurtured and then mulched against winter weather appear to be dead, and yet I still have hope
* Read an article about winter cleanup in the garden after a storm--picking up broken branches, pruning dreary-looking perennials, snipping off damaged branches and going after dormant insects. All fantastic advice but all I could think of was yeah, right, me and what army will do that over our two acres in the mud, assuming the rain ever lets up before June
* Put cowboy hat on my shopping list because my DH's did a way better job in the weather than my own hats did when I had to drive in the snow to get to work the other day (hmm, could it be that they're designed well for the conditions we have rather than being just a western fashion statement?)
* Start of work day, 7:30am. End of work day, 11:21pm. Time to take a bath and soak the mud ground into my hands by the shovel handle, maybe read a little, hopefully write a few words on my novel, and then sleep. Wake up time tomorrow, 7:30am to go to my day job.

And you know what? I love it, even if it makes me a little crazy sometimes. If this doesn't scare you, then live your dream. If it sounds like a hassle, dream on. Just dreaming is a lot less messy than the real thing.

This public service message is provided to you by your local crazy farm girl.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Sometimes I think about lonely things, especially after someone dies. After Lucky died, along with the sadness and loss I also felt relief for his sake, because dying of kidney failure was no fun. Now that the grief has settled I've had lonelier thoughts. If we really have souls, we're separated from the living. Is his soul afraid? Needing contact? Is there danger? Is there anyone or anything that cares for souls like his?

Sometimes it's not the greatest thing to be introspective. I wrote about stuff like this in a book that hasn't seen the light of day. Maybe it's time to start working on it again (in my copious spare time, of course.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Not Quite a Cliche'

It's been snowing buckets. We have a pretty severe storm system passing through (actually, it's probably several storms) and the cold air is helping mitigate it a bit by having it fall as beautiful fluffy frozen stuff. When we warm up the wind will pick up and suddenly we'll have those torrential downpours that sometimes flood my office.

Please not this year, please please no flooding office this year ....

I had fun driving in it (so far--I may not drive tomorrow and call in to work (we'll see.)) I had to leave early and still ended up showing up at the same time at work as always. In my haste to depart I couldn't find my hat and gloves, so I borrowed some, which resulted in:

K driving down the slushy, snowy road in a big blue pickup truck wearing a brown cowboy hat with a tiger-eye chip band and purple sparkly gloves (no, really, seriously) listening to 80's pop on the radio in four wheel drive, bouncing on extra-tight shocks.

Did the same going home, of course. I saw lots of tire tracks in the snow fish tailing all over the place, often crossing the centerline or venturing a few inches into the ditch. Driving up our road in snow ain't for the faint-hearted, that's for sure. But me and my pickup truck did just fine, thank you very much, with Twisted Sister on the radio. Heh. I would have preferred country, but my knuckles were a little white gripping the steering wheel ....

Sunday, January 15, 2012

All but finished, and begun again

I finished the floor upstairs. Well, finished might not be perfectly accurate. I have three transitions and the baseboard thingy/stuff to do. Then I'll be done. We still have to put the ceiling up downstairs, and we have to finish our front porch, but the upstairs will finally be homey again. It's a really good feeling. It'll be an even better feeling when I can sweep and mop the last of the sawdust away. I've gotten about 90% of it, but it'll keep shaking off of furniture and we'll be dusting it off of all the horizontal surfaces for a quite a while, not to mention I have to get all those bits and pieces leftover out of the house and the tools (all sawdust covered, of course) returned to their proper owner or put away. Thanks again to our friend D. for loaning us his very kewl chop and table saws.

I'm writing on the third book in the Masks series again, tentatively titled Innocence and Silence. So far so good, at least as far as I can tell. Writing in series is always a chancy proposition. There are all those details to keep track of, and there's a higher chance that the story will run away in directions that won't work either forward, backward, or worst of all, both. I'm trying not to let it distract me. The most important thing is to tell a good story, right?

Oh, and it snowed today. There's enough on the ground that the steadily rising temperatures aren't enough to melt it. I had that magical feeling waking up with everything white. I don't think that feeling will ever go away, at least as long as we're on the warm side of the mountains.

So it's been a productive, snug, brandy and hot chocolate sort of day. Tomorrow it's back again to the day job, assuming the road conditions are good enough for me to get down the hill. Right now I'd say it's probably fine, but if it keeps snowing all night or the temperature drops, turning the slushy underbelly into ice ... yeah. We'll see. If I can't make it I won't be too sad, though. I'll just spend the day writing.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Housework as Art

We've been working around the house pretty hard and it's starting to pay off. It's really wonderful coming home to a place that's clean(er) and (more) organized and warm.

It makes me think about the art of home-making. For a long while it became almost derogatory--someone being a homemaker was a person who didn't have a life of their own. It still has that taint. I'm not sure how that happened. Maybe because of it's association with wives and women. That's a really awful idea, that something that becomes associated with the feminine is diminished and derided and considered irrelevant or even frivolous.

My DH has been putting in just as much work, if not more, into making this house a home and now that we're seeing serious progress there's just so much pride and satisfaction in it. It's not just pride and satisfaction, though. It's a form of creativity, with emphasis on the create part. Anyone who has finished writing a book or a painting or has watched a flower bed blossom after all the preparation and hard work understands. And yes, these things are never really completed. Projects aren't finished so much as they're abandoned, or revisited in another form at another time. Just as the cells in our bodies continuously divide and process and breathe, the environments we create are never static. They grow and change and breathe too. With effort, they flourish. With neglect, they decay and die.

Our house is very alive right now. It's beautiful, even with all the dust and ongoing battles with clutter that doesn't have a spot to settle into (yet.) Will we ever finish? I'm sure we'll have breaks from the wall painting and edging and organizing. But I won't sit still during those time periods. I'll have another way of putting my feet up--putting up outbuildings, relaxing while lazing about weeding in my garden beds, eating tomatoes fresh from the vine.

Yep, it's almost that time of year. Mid-February I'll be starting those earliest of seeds. Yikes! That's in about a month. That's all the time I have to polish the work indoors.

I'm already full of anticipation--the garden in our future, the livable house that soon will become present, the sawdust piles and scrap pieces of flooring that will be in the past.

It's a great way to begin 2012. I think it's going to be a fun year. The art of it will be all around us. We'll be living in it, eating from it, and resting within it. It's living as art, and art as life.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Just a quick note from my favorite Wifi spot, Papa's Ice Cream. We had a wee accident at the farm a couple of days ago and my office has no power. No animals or people (which in our house are pretty much animals too) were harmed in the making of this accident.

I'll be online only sporadically for the next few days.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

House of Goats

House of Goats by Tammy Owen is up on Amazon and Smashwords.

Tammy's working on the sequel, House of Chickens. It's one of those things where more life has to happen before the book comes together (and yes, it's all based on truth, truth being weirder/dumber/crazier/fill-in-your-adjective than life) but there's enough for a whole 'nother book by now. Pretty sure there is, anyway. Like pound cake, not just made from scratch, but with hand tools. There's a reason why people bought appliances like crazy when they came out. Seriously. And farm wives with big shoulders happens in part because of things like pound cake being mixed by hand. Because, damn, batter is heavy.

I'm still working on how to put more books out more efficiently. My DH is helping a ton with that. I'd like Wyrd Goat Press to develop a reputation for good books, though I doubt people really care about what publisher puts out what books. Do you know who published your favorite books?

In other news, the Mega Floor Project is almost finished! I have the sore knees to prove it. I have about twenty four square feet or so to do. Hopefully I have enough left in the boxes I have. If not, I may have to run to the store and get one more box. Either way it's good. Soooo much better than white carpet. White carpet+farmhouse=sad/disgusted me. Hopefully I'll be able to post pics soon of a fabulous shiny entryway, living room and dining room.

There might be more writing news soon. It just depends on scheduling stuff on their end. I've been waiting a long time to make an official announcement. I hope to make it sooner than later.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Don't Lose Time

I have a very good friend who sometimes talks about how people wasting his time is a form of murder. Our time is limited. From our perspectives we usually aren't aware of it because we seem to have so much of it.
I didn't always have that feeling of 'almost forever', though. I remember having this fear that the world would end at the end of 1999. That feeling was so strong that even though I doubted anything would happen, I shivered more than once as the year 2000 approached. I had calculated what age I'd be in 2000, and promised myself that I would do everything I wanted to before then so that I'd have no regrets.
I was only 12 years old, but I think I was wiser in that respect than I am now.
Our beloved Lucky, the epileptic black kitty, passed away from kidney failure the day before yesterday. He had about a decade of life. In that time it seemed that he sensed that there simply wasn't enough love in the world, and he craved it more than anything. Epileptics sometimes report a strong sense of impending death just before they black out into their seizure. I think he had that feeling too. He had a seizure just before he died, and I wonder if he thought damn, I've been down this road so many times ....
I had snapped awake about 5:30 am knowing something was wrong. I found him on the floor. Somehow he'd crawled out of the bed we'd made for him. From that point on he got constant love, the thing he wanted, the thing he desired above all other things throughout life. My DH and I took turns holding him in our laps. We gave him what we could, and as he'd always known, it still wouldn't be enough. But it was all the time he had to get attention from us. Death clicked the stopwatch and the race was over.
None of us have enough time to do everything. For Lucky, he didn't want everything. Just one thing. I think that focus gave him the kind of life he wanted.
Do you have one thing more important than the others? Lucky would, if he could, suggest that you pursue that one thing. And if there isn't one thing for human beings, maybe there's at least a concept like I had when I was a child of living life and accomplishing a certain amount in the time that we have. If you had only a decade from now, what would you want to accomplish before then? Chances are if you're reading this, you've already had more than Lucky. Have you used your time wisely, as he did?