I am taking over a few gardening chores. This is only temporary, because I’m not an attentive gardener (I almost killed a coleus once, and those things are practically indestructible). As I was watering the plants, I had to actually look at them. That’s when I realized that a couple were four times the size I thought they were. The juniper above hadn’t grown up, but it had grown out. The grevillea below had grown both up and out, but because it was in a corner by the fence I never noticed. This got me thinking about the way my subplots can sprout up and take over the entire story seemingly overnight. What’s really happening, of course, is that I haven’t been paying attention, and in my joy at getting words on the page I’ve let myself become distracted. I’m not the person to prune the plants, but I can certainly prune my subplots. The landscape of my main plot will be all the more attractive for the effort.
I am at that point in my projects when all I have to show is the promise of progress. Nothing is finished enough to get more than a hint of how it will turn out. Like the buds in my tulip bed, there is more work to do before the show can begin. With a bit of effort, and a bit of luck, perhaps my projects will all be wonderful, like the flowers on the other side of the yard. I hope your projects will also fulfill the promise of their progress.
The workmen who redid our drive- and walkway weren’t particularly careful about our landscaping. That’s understandable, given that they had to walk somewhere to get the job done. Nevertheless, we were not expecting to see many of the bulbs this year. What a pleasant surprise when we found little green shoots soldiering through the earth. Then they bloomed, as well as some other plants that often come out at this time of year.
I was reminded that no matter how many obstacles there are to being creative, if I just push a little when I can I’ll eventually break through to the surface and bloom. So, here’s the evidence just in case you need a reminder that your artistic efforts will be appreciated. Perhaps you won’t get the rewards or recognition you hoped for, but doing the work is important. Someone, somewhere, will thank you later.
For the first time, I understand the connection between two sayings I’ve heard for years. The first is the advice to torture your darlings. The second is the adage, “Adversity doesn’t make character, it reveals it.” Watching the different ways people are responding to the pandemic was my aha moment for writing. If I don’t fully understand my characters and I drop them in the middle of a crisis, the scene is usually flat. I can’t reveal what I don’t know.
Even if I have a good sense of who my characters are, what they do in the conflict sometimes comes as a surprise. I’m starting to enjoy those experiences. Yes, there is the underlying terror that the story is spinning out of my control, but the joy of seeing my imaginary friends become real people is worth it.
You may have understood this connection for a long time, but it’s new to me. Or rather, this added layer of understanding is new to me. As is the added layer of understanding this pandemic has brought to another saying, “Bloom where you are.” I’ve seen so many small acts of kindness lately. I’ve been on the receiving end of some of them. It’s enough to keep me writing stories with happy endings.
Today is Monday, so I am supposed to post a writing blog. I paused for a good five minutes after I wrote that line, and still nothing popped into my little brain. Instead, I’m posting a picture of my shrimp plant.
The shrimp plant is supposed to put out these lovely pinky-red bracts with white flowers that droop over and look like swimming shrimp when the breeze blows. I’ve got the bracts and the flowers, but danged little drooping. The bracts are shooting up like spear tips. That’s okay, but not what I was expecting; not what is supposed to be.
To which the universe replies, “Oh, adjust already!”
The plant is still lovely, and healthy, and I like it. What more do I really want? Well, to have more of my novel written, but that may not happen today. Today, I will appreciate my shrimp plant.
A friend asked me to look after her plant while she is out of town, which is a real hoot as I have the blackest thumbs on either side of the Mississippi. She knows this, but either doesn’t believe me or wants to give the universe a chance to perform a miracle. I’m going with the second option, which is why I am going to ask any and all to send out cosmic hugs to this little creature.
Yes, I am trying to crowd source good luck, but not for me. I will take no credit whatsoever if the plant thrives. I am barely able to keep my own plants living. This one is hanging on out of sheer force of will.
Don’t tell me about your never-fail plant food, or the wisdom of repotting. My mother and husband are fabulous plant whisperers, so perhaps that’s all one family gets. I won’t ask for a green thumb. All I’m asking is you hold a happy thought for the innocent plant entrusted to me.
I am making progress with the PIPs (Projects in Piles), but nothing to photograph. Luckily, the front yard is in the process of blooming, which illustrates the way I feel about the last couple of weeks of work. I put borders on three UFOs (UnFinished Objects), and made backs for them. I suppose I could photograph the tops but I would prefer to wait until they are done. They’ll be donated when completed, but before I can get to the quilting I need to finish a few simple sewing projects. In the meantime, I will enjoy the message of the flowers – patience + perseverance = progress.
The seasons around here don’t exactly line up with the calendar, but we do have them. The closest we come is autumn, when our trees turn color (not always as vibrantly as the gingko this year, and only roughly between the fall equinox and winter solstice). The rest of the year once could be divided between the wet, the hot, and fire. Now fire season is all year long, which is a bummer. However, I can add another season to my personal calendar, and it’s all about my snoot.
A couple of years ago I was having the worst problem with a stuffy nose. I thought it was allergies, what with leaf detritus and pollen floating in the air. I took antihistamines, got no relief, so I went to the doctor and discovered that I’m not allergic to anything. My problem was the change in air temperature, and maybe barometric pressure. For some reason, my sinuses go into full guard dog mode when the weather changes, which made me miserable. Although the symptoms occurred during an allergy season, I made the classic mistake of assuming correlation meant causality. Sure enough, I was visiting another state in another season when a cold rain swept through and my snoot went wild.
The good news is I know the proper medicine to take if I need it. Also, I was given a gentle reminder of the value of re-examining one’s assumptions. Best of all, I can now enjoy our wacky autumn, when leaves fall but flowers still bloom.
My husband and I are not gamblers, except with plants. Going to the nursery is our version of hitting the casinos. We never spend more than we can afford to lose, because although we are gambling with beauty it’s still even money whether those plants will live or not.
Most of the time we’re willing to let the plants accept their fate, but this little orange critter was an exception. We both loved the leaves, and the way the orange petals glow. It wasn’t doing well where we first planted it, so my husband dug it up and put it in a pot. It did okay, but wasn’t thriving. My husband moved it next to the front door, gave it a new pot, and hoped for the best. The gamble paid off.
I realized that I can use this example for both my writing and my quilting. Sometimes I write a scene or a character that doesn’t fit the story, just as I sometimes make a block that doesn’t fit with the other units of the quilt. Instead of trying to force the odd one to conform, I’m going to save it. I can cut a scene or even an entire chapter and paste it to a file. I can put the orphan block in a bag or bin. Someday, I’ll find the right place for those bits, and watch them bloom.
I puttered productively in the sewing room this week, but the results aren’t worth photographing. The garden is, however, thanks to my husband. He took up gardening a few years ago, which is why the plants live. He says he only buys plants that thrive on neglect, but don’t believe him. I know what a neglected garden looks like and this isn’t it.
The front garden has a lovely section devoted to iris and daffodils. This blue iris is one of my favorites.
He built a lot of small raised beds. The columbine is the only plant that survived the frost in this bed.
Here is a view of the back garden with Trevor the Gargoyle. Guess who whined until he bought her the statue?
In addition to gargoyles, I also like wind chimes. These chimes are hung in a place that doesn’t get all that much wind, but that’s okay too. I like the little tinkling sound, but the neighbors’ dogs don’t. Trust me, howls don’t harmonize with chimes.