Heat Wave Sunday

We’re having a heat wave with a heat index at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. My plants are loving this weather–all except the cool weather crops that have given up the ghost.

Speaking of ghosts, my new Ms. Wilmot’s Ghost is kaput. In its place, I found this variegated liriope, which should tolerate both wet and drought. We’ll see how it does.

And here, believe it or not, is the start of my water lily. I did not at all believe I’d get a flower. I’m waiting for frogs to show up and sit on the leaves.

The ruby slipper hydrangeas are starting to turn pink. Last year, they went from white to brown, making this the very first year we might see red flowers.

And now for the first sign of fall. A red zinnia, the first of what looks like many from the gazillion seed packets I spread over all the beds.

And wow, I got through all that without a single daylily. But here is one. They are loving the heat and the bees.

I’m Conflicted

I had another short story accepted for publication this week. I also had another rejection, but I get so many of those, it almost doesn’t count. The story should appear in July—more on that as I know more.

Meanwhile, I’m getting my completed novel ready for the next round of agent queries. I can’t decide whether to send queries out before or after I submit to #PitchWars. If accepted, I’ll work with a mentor to more fully polish my query materials. That’s coming up in September, which feels like a long way away, but really isn’t.

In the process, I re-read my first chapter and hated it.. What was I thinking?

As a result, I devoted most of this week to revision, cutting extraneous details to laser in on the primary conflict for my main character. I’m about to re-read chapter two. I sure hope I won’t be rewriting this coming week.

Hope yours is a good one.

Purslane

About ten years ago, I bought a hanging planter that included purslane. My first mistake.

Back then, my powers of identification were poor at best. When I started seeing this not-horrible plant in my garden beds, I let it go. My second mistake.

Now, I’m overrun by purslane. I’ll walk away after clearing a bed, come back half an hour later, and tiny purslane weeds have taken over. A fast grower, purslane can throw seeds a fair distance from the mother plant. It also re-roots from stems and leaves. Purslane also loves most herbicides.

As you’ve guessed by not, this plant–like most invasive plants–is a super-survivor. I suppose that’s a good thing if you want to eat purslane. It is edible, and Europeans use it in salads–young stems, leaves, and flower buds are especially delicious if you like salty-sour. I’ve tried it, and find the mucilaginous leaves–think succulent–off-putting.

What it absolutely needs is sunlight to germinate, so the key is to weed by hand as fast as possible, and cover bare areas with mulch, black plastic, newspaper. Of course, the minute I uncover an area, here comes the purslane.

My third and final mistake has been to throw the pulled plants into my burn pile without burning immediately. Most of the gardening sites recommend bagging purslane weeds to prevent spreading.

That’s what I’m doing. Starting tomorrow.

Meanwhile, here are some pics of my neighbor’s un-mowed field. Pretty, right? I wonder if he’s got purslane growing in there.

Stormy Sunday

The storm started last night and continued this morning. Wind and three inches of rain–so far. Thunder and lightning. A good morning to drink coffee and watch everything turn intense green.

Luckily, I walked out to see the damage and we had some.

One of the apple trees fell over in last night’s wind and the stake holding it broke off. Fixed with a new stake.

My tub pond overflowed, which didn’t seem to hurt the irises much. The waterlily is sporting new leaves, too.

But poor Ms. Wilmot’s ghost is drowning. Maybe with some dry weather and sun, she’ll survive. Fingers crossed.

The rain has to stop sometime. Right?

An Uninvolved Narrator

I wrote a short story about a sorceress betrayed by a king. She offers to have the king’s son, but he reneges on his promise to marry her. Her revenge? She refuses him his heir by staying pregnant for eight years.

That’s the premise. The story, which is mostly about what happens to the boy after he’s born, is told from the perspective of the sorceress’ giant bodyguard. More or less an uninvolved narrator. He follows the boy and tells the story, but doesn’t contribute much of anything to the plot.

The story—in addition to being somewhat clunky in its current form—has just never worked. It comes across as mostly “tell” with huge narrative distance. Maybe due to the point of view. The giant just doesn’t have enough at stake to keep the tension high.

On the other hand, both sorceress and son die at the end of the tale, and since “dead men tell no tales,” the piece can’t be written from their perspective. Maybe one of them should live?  I might try writing it that way and see if it works.

Have a thought about the uninvolved narrator? Pass it along.

On the querying front, no news to report. I’m looking at a couple of interesting options, including #PitchWars in September.

Gardening Doldrums

Tomorrow is the first day of summer. From now until August 2, gardening is all about weeding and watering.

We’ll have to see about watering, which may not be necessary this year. We’re already a foot above average for rainfall, and the forecast calls for more rain. Or at least more thunderstorms. Frankly, I’d be happy not to haul hose around the yard.

But the weeding has already started. There’s no keeping up with it. I finish one bed, move onto the next, and by the time that one’s done, I have to go back and weed all over again in the first. A bit like revising and editing. Never really done.

This is also the start of lily and daylily season. I’ve added photos of today’s blooms, including one of my favorites. I found this bicolored lily several years ago at Flower Farm. It’s done very well, although this year is being crowded out by an inappropriately planted sedum Brilliant. I can see I’ll be moving things around this Fall.

I planted most of the daylilies about four years ago, although I’ve added new plants here and there every year since. Back then, I carefully labeled each one, only to discover the permanent ink was not quite permanent. One of these days I’ll go back through my orders and try to match up names to plants. Not today.

Garlic

Every fall, I plant garlic. I’ve been successful twice–maybe. Most years, some wild animal comes along and digs up the bed. Or it’s too dry and the bulbs don’t develop. Or–like this year–it’s too wet and the bulbs turn to mush in the ground.

But Samuel Johnson might well have written “the triumph of hope over experience” about gardening and marriage. And this year, hope won.

I was amazed that the garlic turned green in early March. The temperatures stayed firmly in the 30 to 40 degree Fahrenheit range. Way too cold for most of my garden. Nevertheless, the garlic persisted.

In April, the plants turned yellow. Uh-oh, mush alert ahead. But I left them through May despite my urge to rip them out of the ground. Right on schedule at the beginning of June, scapes formed. After clipping them, I crossed my fingers. The plants still didn’t look right.

But last Friday, the plants had just about died back. Again, right on schedule. I dug them up and hung them in the barn. They need to hang for about a month before they’re ready for cooking.

I ended up with six bunches of six or seven bulbs each–or about forty garlic bulbs. That’s a winter’s worth of cooking.

Father’s Day Sunday

Today is Father’s Day, and I thought it would be cool to use some photos of my forebears. But as always, I had technical problems. Without going into the boring details, I had to wait for my son to come and solve my Adobe to JPG problems. He also cleaned up these very old photos.

So here is Grandpa Harry Kreps at his wedding to Ida. My father’s parents, which seems appropriate for Father’s Day.

And here is my father, Saul, graduating from high school. Maybe. That would’ve been in 1935. Or thereabouts.

Happy Father’s Day, Harry and Saul. You’re missed.