jaunthie: (Default)
2017-05-03 05:47 pm

40-Clove Crock Pot Chicken

I saw this recipe recently and decided to give it a try. Verdict: YUM! Plus lots of leftovers. Warning: you'll need a big crock pot for this one. And vampires need not apply.

Ingredients:
 - 8 chicken thighs, bone-in, with skin
 - 8-10 chicken legs (drumsticks), bone-in, with skin
 - 1 large onion, diced
 - 4 stalks celery, cut into 3-inch pieces
 - 2 large carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
 - 1 generous teaspoon dried tarragon
 - 6-8 sprigs fresh parsley
 - 1/2 cup olive oil, plus 1-2 teaspoons for the skillet
 - 1/2 cup dry vermouth
 - dash fresh ground nutmeg
 - 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or to taste)
 - fresh ground pepper (at least a teaspoon, but as you will)
 - 40 cloves garlic, peeled (you can cheat and get these at the store)
 - Fresh loaf of crusty bread of choice

Directions:

Put 1/2 cup oil onto a large rimmed plate. Oil chicken pieces until all pieces are evenly coated. Heat a little oil in a large skillet. Sautee onion until it colors up nicely and is soft. Transfer onion and juices into crock pot; return pan to stove to keep hot. Add cut carrots and celery to crock pot; layer in parsley. Put oiled chicken in batches into hot skillet and cook 2-3 minutes per side to give chicken a bit of color. As each batch finishes, transfer to crock pot. Layer in garlic cloves around chicken as you add it. When all the chicken and garlic has been added, toss on the tarragon, salt, and pepper. Pour vermouth over the whole and cover crock pot with foil, and then lid. (Make sure you crimp the foil to keep a good seal and not cause steam to condense and drip all over your counters.) Cook on high 2-3 hours or low 4-6 hours (more cooking time won't hurt, but check the chicken temperature if you're trying to skimp on time).

To serve: Place piece of chicken, pan juices, and at least 3-4 cloves of soft smooshy garlic in a bowl. Place bowl on plate with slices of bread. Spread soft garlic all over the bread, then dip the slices into the pan juices and devour along with the chicken.

Put leftover chicken into a container separate from the pan juices and veggies/ garlic. Strain out garlic for future eating. Strain pan juices and store separately, or puree the remaining juices plus veggies for a nice thick sauce and/or the start of some killer chicken soup.



jaunthie: (Seamask)
2017-04-07 11:04 am

A permanent account in an impermanent world

Way, way back in the dark ages of time, what was then LiveJournal offered up a one-time opportunity to purchase a permanent account. I took them up on the offer.

Fast-forward to today, when the company that was LiveJournal was bought up by the Russians, moved all the servers to Russia, and just now changed the user agreement.

Is my account still permanent? Well, if I post every six months or so, maybe.

Is LJ permanent? ...that's rather a thornier question. Plus there's the whole agreeement-only-binding-in-Russian thing and a whole host of other issues.

So I'm going to back this journal up to Dreamwidth, just in case. It's not like I'm doing a ton of blogging these days, but I'd hate to lose what I have, or have my content subject to rules and laws I can't read, much less understand.

Stay tuned.
jaunthie: (Seamask)
2017-01-21 09:09 pm
Entry tags:

A nice day for a walk with 100,000+ others

Fair warning: this post contains a LOT of pictures, so expand accordingly.

Today was the Women's March. I had decided to go along with fisherbear, and my friends A and F decided that this was important enough, and likely to be mellow enough, to be their daughter K's first protest event. Given logistics, we decided to carpool to the light rail station and travel together to the access point closest to the start of the parade.

Well, we and everyone else living in our end of town.

This is the train car we were in. Keep in mind that we got on at the VERY FIRST STOP, the terminus of the line. There was no one on the train before we started boarding.
Images and text behind the cut. You have been warned. )

All in all, a very good day. I've seen absolutely zero reports of any vandalism or aggression from the marchers. It was exactly what it was meant to be, a peaceful protest and an astonishing display of communal activism. And I got to break out my camera and exercise my rusty documentary skills as an extra bonus.
jaunthie: (Seamask)
2016-06-16 06:08 pm

Time for another semi-annual post

...although really it's been almost a year since I last posted here, so I could honesty call this an annual post. Except I don't *mean* for this to become an annual exercise. I'm still working hard at my not-so-new job, I'm writing and gardening and walking and kniting, and the cats remain cats.

And I really do intend to get back to journaling someday.

jaunthie: (Seamask)
2015-07-04 01:55 pm

Why yes, I am alive...

...and so is this journal, although obviously I'm not posting here very often. Things have been very, very busy in Jaunthie-land this past year.  I shan't go into details, but suffice it to say that I'm working for another company, that I'm writing and gardening and walking, and that the cats remain cats.

Oh, and this year's garden experiment plants: watermelons, to go along with the cantaloupes. I actually got cantaloupes last year, so I figured that I'd try watermelons too this year. Goodness knows it's hot enough!
jaunthie: (3 Day)
2014-07-01 09:41 am

Check it out - the Western Bumblebee project needs your support!

As some of you might know already, Will has been studying bees for a long time now. Last year he discovered a colony of rare bumblebees, the Western Bumblebee, and evidence that the species might be spontaneously recovering. He did a ton of work over the fall, winter, and spring, coordinated with the USDA, USGS, the Xerces Society, and a whole bunch of other folks. Now he and a team of volunteers are trying to put together a series of research trips to try and find out what's going on, including whether what's changed might help other species of bee recover.

But the campaign still needs funds. So if you're in the mood to donate, here's the link to the Indiegogo campaign. If you'd like to read up more about this first, the Seattle Times did a really nice write-up here.

Spread the word! Help make this happen!
jaunthie: (rose colander)
2014-05-24 11:51 am

The incidental adventures when making rose-petal jam

So it's that season again. Rose-petal jam season. (Also garden season, but that's a much longer season than RPJ season.) And naturally enough it's fallen into a really busy time, where I was out of town, and then on a deadline, and oh, of course, the weather couldn't actually co-operate, naturally not.

On top of all that, I was out of several of the ingredients required for RPJ (it isn't *just* roses). Some, like sugar, just require a trip to the regular grocery store. Other, like canning jars, require a more specialty trip (particularly if your regular grocery is a) teeny-tiny b) not serving an area where home-canning is a common practice anymore or c) you want something other than your standard pint jar).

So this morning I went off in search of one of the ingredients I needed. The usual grocery where I go for this was closed, worse luck, but the neighborhood it's in has several little hole-in-the-wall ethnic groceries, and sure enough, the one almost literally across the street - a persian-greek-mediterranean grocery (seriously, as far as I could tell, that was the actual name of the place) - had an open neon sign flickering in the window. So I went on over.

And oh, opening the door of the little place was such a wonderful sensory experience, I almost stopped dead in my tracks. For one thing, it was *warm* - both temperature-wise (it was about 50-odd degrees outdoors, and I'm guessing somewhere 70-plus inside, and also 'this is a tiny family business' wise, with hand-made God's-Eyes around the doorway, and an older man all the way in the back, hand-sharpening knives, looked up alertly when the door-bell rang, and who grinned welcomingly at me when I waved to let him know that yes, I was a customer, and no, I wasn't in a huge rush. For another thing, the smell! It was a wonderful melange of middle-eastern and Mediterranean ingredients, cumin and oregano and saffron and garlic and onion and citrus and probably half a dozen other things, all melded together into one giant YUM. I felt tension I didn't even know I was carrying loosen from my shoulders, and a happy smile curve my lips.

Like I said, it wasn't much of a place: a few tiny tables for customers who came in to eat whatever lunch fare the owners offered that day; a few wire shelves that held packets and containers of spices, oils, grains, and other bulk ingredients; and the counter all the way in the back, with a tiny refrigerated glassed-in cabinet below, and a metal counter on top. There was a teensy old-fashioned cash register jammed off to one side about midway through the narrow shop. But they had exactly what I needed, and the owner was happy to pause in his knife-sharpening and come out to ring up my purchase, and oh, if it hadn't been early morning, I would have been *severely* tempted by the saffron ice-cream advertised by the hand-written notice on the whiteboard.

Such a lovely experience, and one that I don't know that I'd have had, if I wasn't out shopping for RPJ ingredients on a Saturday morning. Incidental bonus of RPJ, definitely.
jaunthie: (darlow)
2014-04-07 10:05 pm

Garden garden garden...

I have peas coming up in my garden.

I planted two rows as an experiment early in March. I knew it was too early to plant, but the weather was so mild, I just couldn't help myself. So along with planting some radish seed (two different kinds of radishes, actually), I planted some snap peas.

And wouldn't you know it, they're up and growing.

It's garden season! Whee!
jaunthie: (float)
2013-10-23 12:51 pm

Oh look, it's almost November already. EEEEK!

I swear it was just August around here a minute ago... *sigh*

So life continues on a rocketing pace this year, and yet I don't feel I have a heck of a lot to show for it. Sure, work is busy; when is it not? And the garden yielded some pretty decent harvests, particularly in the beans, onions, greens, and sunflower seeds department (the latter particularly surprising). I had a successful photo show. There was bee-chasing and climbing and lots of walks and writing and...yeah, okay, so my life has plenty of things to keep me busy. But still, it seems like a lot more to juggle this year than it has in years past.

Perhaps I'm just tired. I certainly know I need to get more sleep.

Which makes the perennial question of "To NaNo or not to NaNo?" rather more difficult to answer with an enthusiastic "Yes!" than I would prefer. It's a valuable exercise, no question: makes you put your writing right up in the priority list, no excuses, no whining. I did it, and won it (as they define 'winning') five years running.

Last year, I took NaNo off. I wrote quite a bit in November, but I didn't officially sign up, and it was really, really nice not to have to worry about official word counts or anything like that.

But there's also no getting around the fact that I didn't write as much LAST November as I had done in previous years. I didn't make creative writing a priority in the same way. And I really, really need to make it more of a priority.

I don't know. I'm conflicted. I want that completely-arbitrary deadline effort, and yet I'd rather focus on quality over quantity, and not have the pressure of meaningless (but historically effective) expectation hanging over my head.

Meh. When in doubt, go for it. And I probably will.

But I'm not signing up officially juuuuuust yet.
jaunthie: (Seamask)
2013-08-18 03:49 pm

In which there is - or was - DALEK CAKE

Yep, you read that right. Surprise Dalek cake, even. Home-made rose-petal-jam flavored Dalek cake. I have the most awesome friends ever!!!


Behold the evidence:

dcake1
dcake2
dcake3

It was exterminated with absolute joy and thankfulness. And it was extremely tasty. :-D
jaunthie: (Seamask)
2013-07-27 06:04 pm

In which my garden confounds me

I've mentioned before that there are certain things that I can grow very well in my garden. Other things I try to grow I fail at fairly consistently.

This year, most if not all of the normal rules seem to have gone by the wayside.

For example, let's talk garlic and onions. In previous years, I have grown garlic, and I have been able to grow it in truly epic quantities. I plant garlic, it grows like crazy, I harvest braids and braids of the stuff. Nothing easier.

Except for this year, apparently. I planted garlic, and pffft. Nada. Nothing. My elephant garlic produced single cloves instead of heads. My regular garlic fizzled out with nothing to show for it whatsoever. Granted, I'd never tried growing garlic in that particular bed, but seriously? Totally baffling.

And then there's onions. I have tried growing onions before, several times. And I failed to get actual onions every single time. The best I ever managed was to harvest some of the green tops; the onions themselves never grew beyond quarter-size.

Except for this year, apparently.

I wasn't even going to bother trying to grow onions this year. I passed on the opportunity to split onion sets with Jake. I did not order seeds. I was skipping the hassle this year, not going to bother, too many other things I'd rather plant and not enough bed space, nope, not going there. Except there I was at the Flower and Garden Show early this spring, and there was this vendor selling onion sets at $4 a bundle. That's practically giving them away. And they were nice, fresh-looking, likely-looking sets that actually smelled like onion plants. They even had two varieties that I was actually interested in growing, Big Daddy and Walla Walla.

So I was a sucker and bought $8 worth of onion sets. Of course it was too cold to plant them in the ground that week, so I chucked each set into a pot with some potting soil, and pretty much ignored them afterwards until it was much later in the spring when it was time to plant things. And they were still alive, despite being randomly chucked into pots that were really not big enough. Looked pretty good, even. So I unpotted them and planted them in two of my side beds.

And they grew.

One bed had two volunteer pumpkins sprout (not an uncommon occurrence in my beds; long story). And I let them grow instead of weeding them out, because at least that way I'd get something out of that bed when the onions invariably failed. I used the same rationale when transplanting a parsley plant into that bed. And when I planted out the green beans I'd started in peat pots in the other bed with onions in it.

Well, apparently someone forgot to 'splain things to Lucy, or whatever the name is of the onion god this year. Because the onions did *not* fail. They grew, and kept growing. And then there started to be roundnesses poking up through the earth at the base of the plants that looked remarkably like onion shoulders. Perplexed, I consulting my gardening resources, and they suggested that this was normal onion behavior, but that I could mound over the onion shoulders with some extra mulch, if I wanted to. So I did.

And they kept growing.

About a month ago I was making something for dinner, and I realized I was out of onion. So I went outside, and sure enough, there was one onion plant that looked like it had an onion big enough to be actually useful. So I harvested it, and yep, it was just the right size, and yum.

Weird. This couldn't possibly happen with the rest. And oh look! The Big Daddies that were looking so promising, all their tops started flopping over (aided and abetted by the pumpkin vines, which are aggressive beasts.) So yeah, I might get an onion or two more, but surely the rest is doomed, right?

I harvested a few more onions (pretty much any time I needed one for cooking), and they were good. And today I decided maybe I'd better check about how to tell when onions were actually ready for harvesting, and drying, and storing.

Turns out that's about a week after the tops flop over, maybe two. You let them cure in the ground (presumably you stop watering them), and then you lift them out and dry them on some sunny, dry surface or hang them in the sun for a week, if you're going to try and cure them for storage.

Whoops. Well. I guess I'd better go see about those Big Daddies.

And lo and behold:

onion1
onion2
onion3
I harvested four and a half dozen onions out of that one bed. Some of them are the size of softballs. Plus a dozen-and-a-half shallots. I braided them in lots of three, and there they are, currently drying on the ornamental trellis in my yard, plus a bunch of the tomato cages. Because I sure as heck wasn't ready to harvest onions, and I didn't have anything better to use as drying racks.

And that's only half the onion harvest. The Walla Wallas aren't flopping over yet. I probably have another three dozen onions to look forward to, maybe more.

I am flummoxed. Fershimmeled. Confounded. And up to my ears in onions, if they cure properly. (I'm not taking chances with the Walla Wallas; I'm going to caramelize and freeze them in job lots when they're ready.)

It's the same story with my peas, which I can usually grow by the pound and have been utterly mediocre this year (several plants failed entirely). On the other hand, I can't grow dahlias, and yet look:

dahlias1
dahlias2
dahlias3

Dahlias. Growing in my yard. I'm having to *deadhead* the things, they're so prolific and happy.

Well played, Mother Nature, well played.
jaunthie: (Here Comes Tribble)
2013-04-11 01:28 pm

Uncle Andrew Bait

My friend Andrew (and his lovely wife) have a website. Every so often Andrew will find and post about things that are inherently absurd/terrifying/WTF, such as Food Frights and really what-were-they-thinking? merchandising.

Well, Andrew, in the spirit of your infamous Oreo Barbie post, let me introduce you to...



Mexico Barbie! Complete with a miniature pet Chihuahua and a passport to record Mexico Barbie's travels. Note: while all of the Barbie "Dolls of the World" line come with passports, none of the other ones specifically note that the passport is to help record her travels. Because, y'know, papers are extra important when you're Mexico Barbie. *facepalm* Edited to add: oh, my mistake: Chile Barbie also has that little note about recording her travels. I'm sensing a theme. *double facepalm*

Yeah, you read that right. Choking yet?

(Apparently TPTB over at Mattel learned nothing from the Oreo incident. Surprise.)

And if that isn't enough to make you queasy, let me introduce you to her cousin:



Twilight Vampire Barbie! Complete with glowing red eyes and undead skin!

I now return you to your regularly-scheduled day, which hopefully contains much less absurdity.
jaunthie: (snow buddha)
2013-03-22 04:48 pm

It's officially spring

Naturally enough, I was sleeted on walking to the bus yesterday, and snowed on today. :-D

Some people are disgruntled at this persistence of winter. Me? I'm delighted. We had a very mild winter for the most part, and early spring is supposed to be variable and changable. I love watching the snow fall, and now I've had that chance. It's not like it was a serious snowfall that caused problems.

And there are daffodils blooming everywhere. Who can help but be cheerful when there are daffodils shining out from every yard, park, and scrap of ground?

Now if I could just get some time to get my garden in shape for spring - and the weather break I need for it - then all would be perfect indeed. Or at least very, very good.
jaunthie: (Seamask)
2013-02-06 06:43 pm

Happy International "Please Don't Pirate My Book!" Day!

A strange thing to celebrate, perhaps, but definitely a topic well worth discussion, because e-piracy is a real problem.

A little background: Author Chuck Wendig wrote a post on his blog about piracy, declared Feb. 6th to be International Please Don't Pirate My Book Day, and invited others to write, blog, or post on this theme today.

Now as many of you know, I am an aspiring fiction writer. My pay-the-bills job also involves writing in a technical capacity. And e-piracy affects both my aspirational career, and my real-life one. A

s someone who would *love* to make a living by my own creative writing, I admit that e-piracy seems like a huge barrier to that dream. The vast majority of fiction writers can't make their livings solely by their books and stories, even when sales are good. Most of them don't have the resources to defend themselves against aggressive pirates, either. Some resist electronic editions of their works, simply because piracy seems such a threat. How is this good for writers, or for book-lovers, or for anyone?

 And more to the point, I can't understand stealing from someone whom you don't even know, particularly if you profess to be a fan of their work. That just baffles me. If you like something a person does, you show it by stealing from them? WTF???

I understand not having a lot of money to spend on things. Been there, done that, still have some of the habits I learned when I was trying to stretch every penny far enough to be able to buy things like groceries. And you know what? During that time, despite being a huge bookworm, I didn't steal books. I borrowed books from the library. I saved up to be able to buy exactly TWO books in that time period, neither of which was terribly expensive, both of which I desperately wanted. I made friends with other bookworms, and happily accepted the loan of books and shared book recommendations. And I wrote. I wrote scenes and stories that I wanted to read.

Nowadays, of course, there are so many more resources available for free to people than there were then. There's gutenberg.org, and free e-book editions and samplers from many different presses, and the wikipedia ebook library, and on and on. Not to mention more freely-available fanfiction than anyone could read in a LIFETIME.

So I don't understand people who try to justify stealing books by claiming that they can't afford them. (I happen to agree that the pricing of ebooks often seems arbitrary and out of hand, but that's a different question, one that is being worked out as we move into a new world of publishing.) There are VAST QUANTITIES of books already available to EVERYONE for FREE. So don't tell me you can't afford to buy something to read. And don't pretend that you have some kind of RIGHT to someone else's work. That's someone's blood and sweat and tears, someone who probably struggles to pay the bills just as much (if not more) than you do.

And then there's my pay-the-bills work, where I really HAVE had my work - my research, my writing - copied and reprinted wholesale, with no acknowledgement of the source, much less payment. Where other people have gotten credit and praise for their plagarism of my words and effort.

Let me tell you: that sucks big hairy donkey balls. It feels awful, enraging and saddening and sickening all at the same time. And that's without directly impacting my ability to earn a living, at least in the short term. I can't truly know how much worse it might be, seeing piracy going on when it really does affect your bottom line - but I can use my imagination, and it makes the very idea of risking my stories in the e-pirating age seem like utter lunacy.

There you have it. Some of my thoughts on piracy, and along with it, my devout wish that no one pirates ANYONE's books, much less any of my own.
jaunthie: (darlow)
2013-01-28 04:17 pm

Grandma J, 1910 - 2013

Rest well, Grandma, and be happy again with Grandpa. You had an amazing life, and I was lucky to be part of it for so many years.
jaunthie: (Seamask)
2013-01-02 10:36 am

Holy Grails and modern times

In the closing days of 2012, I found one of my holy grails of media.

We all have them, although in this era of online content, they're increasingly rare. (Ironically, this is a good thing.) The book, album, or other media object that is really important to you, but for whatever reason, isn't available as some kind of .mp3 download, ebook, online video, or other relatively low-cost-to-produce, high-impact, easy-to-obtain form. Sometimes this is due to rights issues, particularly when it's 'foreign' content. Other times it's due to obscurity. Other times, we don't know why (hello, 4th and 5th seasons of The Muppet Show on DVD, I'm looking at you!).

In this particular case, the holy grail was an album that had been widely popular amongst my group of friends and apparently nowhere else in the country, judging by its utter lack of availability today. One of my friends owned it on tape. Another had the vinyl record. And the rest of us had copies. (Yes, it was the Eighties.) The album in question? Peter Schilling's Things to Come.



(Oooh! Look at that Eighties hair! and denim! and cover design!)

Waitaminute, I hear many of you say. Peter Schilling? Isn't he that Major Tom dude?



Yes, yes he is. That single was from the first album he released in English as well as his native German, Error in the System. It too was wildly popular among my friends, but thanks to the popularity of that single, you can easily buy a CD version of Error in the System/Ferhler Im System from a number of different sources, including Amazon. (And I have.)  Things to Come was the follow-up album. It came out in 1985, and as far as I know, it was his last attempt to do an English-only release version of one of his German-language albums (120 Grad). And as far as I can tell, in the part of the world I lived in, my little corner of it was the only place where this album caught fire. Naturally enough, it has not been available on CD, and even though Peter Schilling remains an active musician to this day, there hasn't been an MP3 album release, either.

Time passes. Items get lost. So for at least the last 15 years, my friends and I (the ones for whom this is a favorite) have been searching various old record stores, looking for a vinyl copy of Things to Come, with no success.

Fast-forward to this December. I was on a trip to Portland with several friends, including two who are also fans of this album. Near the end of the day, making our meanding way towards another place we wanted to visit, we decided on a whim to stop in at a little used-record store. We were on the perpetual quest, with no expectations of success. But like good little questors, we first checked the organized, well-loved record sections (in Rock and in International), and when that failed, two of us plunked ourselves in front of the Dollar Bin, where nothing is organized at all.

And lo and behold, halfway through my third stack, there it was.

I think I said something like "No freaking way." I know my friend, rummaging next to me, actually shrieked. Our third friend came running.

The album cover was not in great shape. The inside sleeve was missing. But the record was there, and while filthy and showing a few minor scratches, looked to be in pretty good shape.

Three very happy women gleefully bounced up to the pay counter, where the very nice man (whom I think owned the shop) was very confused by our excitement, but we made sure that he understood that he had just made our year, if not our decade. For a dollar. No tax. $1.

I have a turntable, and the equipment that allows me to hook up the turntable to the USB port on my computer, and the software needed to convert vinyl albums to CDs. Over the holiday break, I borrowed a friend's record-cleaning equipment (something I don't have), and carefully went through the process of cleaning, converting, and burning over the music.

The album is just over 38 minutes long. That's pretty short, even by the standards of the day; most albums clocked in at around 42 minutes. But listening to it, I was stuck once again by how well I remembered these songs, and how much the sci-fi worldview expressed therein had really helped shape my thinking (and my love of sci-fi). There are, of course, two requisite pop-love songs, Chill of the Night and Where You Are I Am. I don't think Eighties pop albums were allowed to release without these kinds of songs, but even these are both tinged with sci-fi elements. City of Night (Berlin) is a Cold War ballad, also a standard of the time, particularly for German artists, and the least sci-fi of any of the songs. But the rest? The rest are pure sci-fi, many with apocalyptic or futurist themes. The Hurricane is a song about a once-safe town being drowned in a massive hurricane, the likes of which had not been seen since the planet's birth. (Sound familiar?) Lone Survivor is the tale of a man who locks himself away from a nuclear holocaust while the rest of the world struggles to find solutions. Things to Come, the title track, talks about how we carelessly plunder the earth for our own amusement, kings of the world, while forgetting that once upon a time, the dinosaurs thought they had it made, too. Terra Titanic is mostly a retelling of the Titanic disaster, with implications that our own world is sailing on like the Titanic, oblivious of the looming iceberg. Zone 804 is darkly humorous, speculating about what Planet Earth's reaction would be to a bunch of friendly aliens showing up, wanting to restore our damaged planet. ('Silos open, standing by.') And 10,000 Points is possibly the first song about video game addiction.

Is it any wonder that I love this album? And it holds up fairly well, too. Some of the music and lyrics seem absolutely prophetic today. I never understood why it didn't catch on across the country, instead of just the one little corner of it where I lived.

So now I have it, hiss, crackle, pops and all. I'm happy. My friends are happy.

And in the opening days of 2013?

There's a new release on Amazon. A double-album release, Things to Come/120 Grad.

Peter Schilling would laugh at the irony. As do I.
jaunthie: (NaNo Insert Plot Here)
2012-11-01 08:25 am

An Open Conversation With November

Well hello November. How did you get here so quickly? Nonetheless, it's nice to see you. In fact, I'm glad you stopped by, because we need to have a little chat.

You see, November, normally at this time I would have the welcome mat out for your NaNoWriMo luggage. I would have the plot bunnies all dusted, the desk stocked with metaphorical writing paper, idea-ink ordered in bulk, and signs posted all around the yard, informing everyone that Shhh, Be Wery Wery Qwiet, It's NaNo Season. In fact, this being November 1st, I would not normally be talking to you at all. I would be busy writing every moment I wasn't at work.

But not this year, November. After five years of successfully participating in - and winning - NaNo, I'm sitting this year out. I'm asking you to leave the NaNo bag at the door. You see, you've brought a whole bundle of other distractions this year, November. I have many social events scheduled for this month. I will have houseguests for an entire week. I am likely hosting Thanksgiving dinner at my place. Work has a number of very important deadlines.

You're quite right. I have had all of these distractions (and more!) during previous Novembers. And I didn't let that stop me from NaNoing with a will, that's true.

But you see, November, somewhere during the course of all these years, I've developed the habit of writing regularly. And producing quality content. Not as rapidly as I produce words during NaNo, of course, but with fewer adverbs and adjectives and other digressions in the name of word count I then have to cut out of manuscripts. I've become comfortable with writing at a regular, reasoned pace. I've been productive. In fact, I have a novel out for consideration right this very minute, and I'm working on several other stories of varying length.

So you see, November, I will be writing during your month. I will likely go to the pub and write on Sundays, just for tradition's sake. I will enjoy putting words onto the screen in measured doses, and I hope to end the month with at least one more finished draft than I started with.

But I won't be cramming 50K words into the month, just in the name of word count. I won't be keeping track of the NaNo scoreboard. I won't be trying to cope with the extra stress and strain, and the sinking feeling that I'm writing words just to fill a quota. And I hopefully will avoid everything else going to heck because I'm too busy writing to do anything else.

I still love you, November. I welcome you with open arms. And I still love NaNo, even though I won't be visiting this year. I just don't need the mandatory word count this year in order to feel accomplished.

It's nice to see you without that particular bit of baggage. You look good. Come on in, sit down, and make yourself comfortable. I might even make cookies.


jaunthie: (sidelit tulip)
2012-08-09 12:16 pm

...How Does the Garden Grow (and Taste)?

Apparently very well indeed, judging by the reactions of my nephew J and niece C. My parents brought a bag of peas from my garden when they went down to visit. And oh, the carnage:

jack with peas
chloe with peas

(Pictures restricted to friends of the journal, for the privacy of the people in them. If you're not logged in to LJ as a friend, sorry.)

Mom snapped these photos and reported that both niece and nephew thought the peas were awesomely tasty treats. Hurrah!  Wish I could have been there to see the nomming myself.

The green beans are now going like gangbusters, and they're extremely tasty this year, too. I doubt the kids would like them as well as the peas, but [livejournal.com profile] fisherbear and I certainly appreciate them.

jaunthie: (aim to misbehave)
2012-08-06 09:09 am

Dribs and Drabs

Summer is here, and summer is flying by at something approximating hypersonic speeds. It seems like March was just yesterday, and yet here we are in August.

Garden news:
  • Once again it's been a bumper crop year for peas. However, this year, for the very first time EVER, I'm having a bit of trouble with pests. A few of the peas have had teensy-tiny little catapillars (or equivalent) that have chewed their way inside the pods. Anyone have any idea what these might be, and what non-chemical biological controls might prevent them in the future?
  • The beans are coming along nicely. I've had just a few harvests so far, but it looks like they too will be bumper-crop in just a week or so. However, the yard-long beans died (first planting), and the second bunch are just sitting there as small sproutlings instead of long vines. I think they want more heat than we've had this year (up until just recently).
  • The cuke plants got mostly crowded out by the peas, but are finally showing some signs of productivity. Of course, the lemon cuke looks like it will produce exactly one cuke before yellowing out and dying. *sigh*
  • The pumpkin plants are vining out nicely. Still too early to tell if I'm going to get any pumpkins, though.
  • Onions are actually producing onions. Who knew?
  • The brussel sprout experiment proceeds apace. The plants are looking healthy, but I have yet to see any sign of actual sprout-stalks.
  • The chinese cabbage bolted immediately, before any heads of any size could grow. Seriously. They had like five leaves, and then whoosh! Flower stalk.
  • I had to call in a professional tree-trimming service to whack back the rose bushes (and the laurel by the chimney, and the mock orange, and a few other things). The roses were up into the power lines (that's about 30 feet up). Things look much tidier now.
  • I still have far too many weeds, and at least two of the beds need to be totally restructured.
  • The poppies were epic this year. The sunflowers are meh so far. The cosmos is starting to bloom, but I don't have nearly as many cosmos plants as I had hoped. The dahlias I planted in a fit of wild optimism...well, I'm seeing plants, and at least one has a bud. Fingers crossed!
  • I want to put yet another bed in on the side lawn. Maybe two. Never mind that I can't keep up with the beds I already have.
  • I need to spread compost on all of the beds this fall. I'm thinking that it will take at least a yard, maybe two. Chances of me getting this done? ...Let me get back to you on that.
  • More of my lily plants failed to come back (and at least one was stolen and/or ripped out during various yardwork), but those that are still here are blooming like mad.
  • My lemon verbena came back, which is a good thing, as I had zero luck buying any this spring.
  • Nasturtiums continue to rock my world.
  • Still no broccoli on the broccoli plants.
  • Celery blossoms are apparently the Disneyland of the local pollinator scene. We've had so many different types visiting the blossoms, I've given up any pretense of letting the celery do anything but go to seed. On the up side, celery seed should be ready to harvest later in the fall.
Family news:
  • Grandma J needed a trip to the hospital last week, but is doing remarkably better now that she's no longer so anemic.
  • Sister L is about to become a homeowner. She wants me to plant lavender all around her patio. :-)
  • Brother G and family are doing well, but won't make it up here this summer. I sent down peas for Nephew J with Mom and Dad, who are visiting. Wish I could manage to get down there myself, but not going to happen this summer.
  • Summer Wedding #1 was lovely, and [livejournal.com profile] fisherbear and I had a great time even though we needed to leave relatively early in the evening. S and G looked radiantly happy.
  • Summer Wedding #2 is approaching rapidly. Fisherbear and I need to get off the stick and get everything into place.
  • Fisherbear is having a summer filled with bees and other projects.

Work news:
  • Busy as usual.
  • Reorg. Still not sure what the consequence(s) will be.
  • ...not much else I can say about it.
Writing news:
  • Working on second draft of 10k story. Conundrum: first-person present or to not first-person present?
  • Continuing to work on getting an actual website set up - sporadically, in between all the other stuff.
  • Have several projects on various burners, none of which are front-burnered at the moment.
  • Still need to get to work on solicits.

And that's the August report. How's the summer treating you?
jaunthie: (rose colander)
2012-07-12 09:24 am

To jam or not to jam, that was *almost* the question....

It's been a very busy spring (as you might have guessed from the dearth of posting here). It's also been a somewhat unusual one, weather-wise. We had our usual 'teaser' of "look! summer is coming!" weather in mid-May, followed by a very wet and cool six weeks. Wet and cool in June isn't that unusual - the joke around here is that summer doesn't officially arrive until sometime in July - but this was breaking-records levels of moisture. Which is great in terms of helping stave off fire danger, but made my usual spring gardening much more of a challenge. Add on to that almost no time to actually go out and garden, and you can guess what state my garden beds are in.

One side effect of my schedule and the weather is that my rose bushes got out of sync. My primary-jam rose bloomed before almost any of the others, and at a point when I literally didn't have time to make jam. Plus I still have some left over from last year. The dilemna became clear: to jam, or not to jam? After all, it's not like I can run down to the store and buy more rose jam if I do run out. On the other hand, I don't really *need* rose jam.

After much dithering and hair-pulling, I caught a break in timing. I managed to find one afternoon where the stars aligned, and I made a batch of rose jam. Unlike most years, the roses for this batch were almost all pink, not the dark-red ones I normally use. I also rushed the processing of the petals more than usual, as I really was scraping minutes out of the day to do this. Hopefully the effort will prove worthwhile. I have no idea how this batch turned out, and won't until I open the first jar. That won't be until after I finish last year's jars, so we'll see. But jam did occur, so certain folks (looking at you, [livejournal.com profile] ryalin1) can fail to panic at the thought of no jam-laden care-packages. ;-)

The weather has finally settled into a more usual pattern, and my schedule has also moved into a more sane state, so hopefully I'll be able to get back to proper gardening soon. The peas are coming along nicely, most of the beans are up and showing progress, and it's been a bumper year for poppies, nigella, and volunteer potato starts. No idea if the cucumbers or squash will come to anything, though; it's been so cool and wet for so long, they're all just tiny little things. And I suspect that the runner beans I planted along the trellis are an utter failure. I planted a second row last week, but between the weather and the dang cats using that bed as one of their favorite digging places, I'm not holding out much hope. Pity, as I really wanted to have yard-long beans this year!