Ripening Figs…Soon, We Shall Eat!

Nothing much to report except that my little figlets are doing beautiful things. Almost ripe, and my mouth is watering to taste them! And a Happy Tuesday to you all.

 

Advertisements
Posted in food, Magic of the Everyday, Nature | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Happy Height of Summer!

If you’re anything like me, you don’t always register the seasons according to what the calendar says, but rather listen instead to some “interior logic” of your own. So, in my mind, the 4th of July holiday marks the height of summer–and by the same measure, the long slow slide into the dog days, and then into fall.

But we won’t go there yet. Especially now that I’m in north Florida, the cooler weather of autumn is a lo-o-ong way off yet. We’re firmly mired in the sweat and heat and sticky humidity of high summer.

Just now, the first plums from my tree are ripening. (First and last will be pretty close–my whole crop this year, thanks to that late double-whammy frost, will be 6 fruit. Yes, just six–assuming the birds and squirrels don’t steal any.) The tomatoes have given up under the crippling heat and humidity, and the potted fig tree struggles to get enough water to hold onto its ripening fruit, despite my attempts to water it twice a day. Sleeves are not something I want on my clothing in any form after 9 am. Even the dog, a dedicated sun-worshiper, gives up around 10 a.m., and lays panting inside on the relatively cool tile floors. I wipe up puddles of drool, just wishing I could automatically redirect them to the poor, gasping fig tree.

Into all this yuck, spousal unit and I joined up with friends and went out into the Gulf flats around Steinhatchee for scalloping. They’d gone last year, but this was my first time. I was excited to try scalloping and found it was oddly fun and totally relaxing.

Two small, flat-bottomed boats with captains headed out to the shallow scalloping grounds. The season is short enough–just six weeks–so reserving a spot early is always recommended. We were early, but there were already a few boats there. By the time we left, the area was teeming with small craft, and heads and snorkel tubes thickly dotted the flat waters.

Once at our destination, the shore a barely visible line floating a bit above the horizon line due to humidity, we donned snorkel gear and were handed a net bag. I popped overboard into the grassy waters, through which I glimpsed sand and the occasional small fish, and found myself in chest-high water.

The object was to swim along, eyes trained downwards, and look for the scallops moving up higher to feed. The small bivalves shoot water out to “swim” to new locations, and they filter water through ferny, gill-like fronds of bluish-white or orangish-tan. Sometimes the sunlight filtering down would reflect off their blue-black “eyes,” which somehow (they don’t really have eyes, or even brains, so how they manage this is pretty astounding!) sensed creatures coming near and caused the scallop to snap shut and maybe try to shoot away. A few lively ones would chatter even in your hand, snapping their clamshells repeatedly (they were shooting water, trying to dart away).

Floating in the salt water, I spotted blobby, rubbery-looking growths of new coral; gray hued-spider crabs busily eating with their tiny mouths, their outsized legs splayed out around their bodies; small starfish galore, both flat, star-shaped ones and others wrapped tight around thick grasses; various fishes; a horseshoe crab hiding beneath a mound of coral; a quite large hermit crab occupying a lovely conch shell; and so much more.

Despite the snorkel mask and mouthpiece, water still sneaked into the system now and again, lingering in the airtube and rasping ominously with each inhalation and exhalation. Husband said it creeped him out, sounding like looming death in his ear. I found it oddly appropriate, to my mind turning me into the Darth Vader of the Scallops, one by one bringing them  to the Death Star of the boat. He confirmed that I’m weird, and that writing is obviously my calling, which only endeared me to him more. Thus is life good.

And fresh-caught scallops are tasty!

So, a Happy High Summer to you all! May you always be the Seeker, not the Sought.

Posted in Magic of the Everyday, Nature | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Summer Solstice 2017

This year is continuing to fly in a whirlwind of activity that I only notice as certain dates approach, then disappear. Like tomorrow, the summer solstice here in the northern hemisphere.

Really? The longest daylight hours, already? How is this even possible?

And yet, it is. We’ve been having plenty of rain lately, and not as much pure sunshine, but even so it’s easy to tell the skies are bright far later into the evenings. The four plums that were pollinated after our very late frost are red, but not quite ripe. The four-o’clocks are a blooming mass that continues to spread. The pineapple is growing visibly every day! And my garden has some interesting visitors:

I got to see this caterpillar start weaving the chrysalis around itself!

This caterpillar is now a chrysalis!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The caterpillars (there are a few tiny ones left) and cocoon on the dill plants (which I bought for them to save my parsley; it’s working!) are Eastern Black Swallowtails. The caterpillars devouring the passionflower are Zebra Swallowtails, Florida’s state butterfly. There are also two nearby cocoons for the zebra swallowtails which I can’t photograph well. I hope to see some unfurling of new wings as the butterflies emerge.

Happy beginnings of summer to one and all!

Posted in Magic of the Everyday, Nature | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Mid-June Update

Things have been busy here, and I’m still in a bit of a whirl. Dasher is fully recovered, according to Monday’s liver enzyme test, which is the biggest news for me. And the best. He’s been acting fine, so it’s good to see it’s more than just a temporary reprieve.

He also got his shots yesterday, including a new one for the canine influenza that’s hit Florida. With his frequency of appearance at the UF Vet Med Hospital, which is a hotbed of diagnosis for this outbreak, I think it’s wise that he get all the protection a dog can get; after all, he’s had enough issues without adding one more. (Trupanion will probably thank me for this, too!)

Last week, spousal unit and I took a short trip north. Our first night we spent at a friend’s home in New Jersey, near where we used to live. The weather was cool and fine, and we got to harvest some of the last asparagus out of the garden! Oh, so delicious. I miss garden-fresh asparagus so much after tasting that lovely treat! The gardens were also a delight, with columbine, roses, iris, foxglove, and clematis. The long, cool spring held the blooms perfectly for our visit.

Afterwards, we traveled into New York City and absorbed city atmosphere and energy. We walked neighborhoods and parks, ate a a few favorite restaurants and tried a few new ones, took in some new sights as well as revisiting some old favorites. Can I admit that it was relaxing? Yes, NYC and relaxing don’t normally work together, but it was. Both of us just slowed down and enjoyed being on vacation. It was great.

Back home again, I’ve started to dive heavily into the research end of the literal “world building:” How long would the planet’s rotational period be? How about moons–could I have two, and what would their cycles in the night sky be? Could/should the planet have a great rift, like the one on Mars? How would that affect the story, or would it be located elsewhere? What are the different languages spoken by the various peoples, and how are they visually/aurally different? Etc…

Yes, it’s work, but it’s fun work. And it’s calling me, calling…

Bye for now. Time to research biology and form for a cool critter I’m making.

Posted in Magic of the Everyday, Nature, science, the dog, Travel, Writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

May Flowers

This gallery contains 14 photos.

It’s raining today, rain that we desperately need. In honor of that, I’m going to post pics of the currently blooming and fruiting things in my garden.

Gallery | 1 Comment

Writers Desk 5/18/17

Hey! Lookit here–something new? Oh, what? No, it’s an old feature resurrected. Like a zombie, but with words.

Out the window: Heat and humidity have draped the sky in a colorless high overcast. Breezes gust occasionally, drying out the plants even more, and even the wind feels hot. Ugh. The newly planted gardenias are drooping terribly, and I’m really hoping the weekend brings ALL THE RAIN.

On the desktop: A cup of everyday green tea. Scads of notes and notebooks, both for this book and the next one, and the notes from my recent trip to Paradise Lost. 3 x 5 cards, some with writing, some still blank and waiting.

Today’s Work-in-Progess: Jessamin Stow, Book Three. Still.

I mean, yes, I love this. Honest, I do. but I’d hoped to be finished with it before Paradise Lost. Instead, due to so many things–Dasher and his ill health, my own ill health, home-life drama (let me tell you about the refrigerator dying suddenly, and the termites, and…)–well, I’m not done yet. And it’s making me crazy.

I’m kind of a stickler for making a schedule and sticking to it. None of this has gone to schedule, and it’s not a fun feeling. Which is only adding to my anxiety when it comes to sitting down to write, you know? (Ah, Impostor Syndrome, you know me so well.) The good news is that I’m so close to being done, I can practically taste it! Now to just do it.

And Another Thing: My next novel is all lined up and ready for me to get working on. I have a plot, and characters, and the basics of a world. I need to do more research on various things for world and culture building before I can get to writing the first draft, but OMG I am so excited at the prospect of this new novel!!!! It’s so shiny and fun and cool and I haven’t messed any of it up yet OH WOW!

But before that, I need to sip on some tea, calm down, and finish this novel before me. I got this.

Happy May, everyone.

Posted in Today's Desk, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Good News for May

My dog, Dasher, is doing so much better! He’s active, and playful, and letting me know that he’s full of life and fun again. We’re still awaiting the final biopsy results, and will have yet another blood test next week at his follow-up appointment, but it seems that the immediate threat (while still from unknown source[s]) is over. What a relief!

In light of his healthier state, I went to Paradise Lost last weekend, my first one. It was 4 days of writing immersion; talking, listening, thinking, drinking, sleeping, and breathing SFF writing! It was a blast. It was exhausting. I’m so glad I went, and I was so glad to come home again (where I promptly got sick–yuck!). I’m also so glad I didn’t get pulled off a plane for any reason, or have any real flight delays. (Really, what is going on in the airline world of late? First United, now Delta? Jeesh!)

Now, back home again, I’m watching the hummingbirds argue over whose feeder it is, laughing as the anoles try to out-macho one another with their head-bobbing and throat-sac displays, their back ridges raised to full extension, and trying to time picking my strawberries as they near ripeness, to get a few of them before the squirrels do. Black racer snakes slither about, picking off unwary lizards and basking in the sun. The magnolia tree’s cupped, soup bowl-sized blossoms are scenting the air a lemony light-floral, the jasmine is just now fading from its full flush of bloom and is still sending out a thick, heady sweetness in the evenings,  while the gardenia beneath the magnolia is fit to bursting with tons of tight buds! It’s a good year for fragrance in my garden! 🙂

It’s also a good year for weeds, unfortunately. Weeds and words–that should be carved onto my tombstone. And on that note, it’s back to the pair of them, as the dog naps in a sunbeam.

Life is (mostly) good.

Posted in Magic of the Everyday, Paradise Lost, the dog | 1 Comment

Quick Update

I’ve been missing again, and here’s why: Dasher is sick. And we don’t know with what/why.

He’s had laparoscopic surgery to assess his liver, and take samples for biopsy. Those reports aren’t back yet. He’s lethargic–expected with his liver not working very well–but not jaundiced, and no longer anemic (the liver fortifying drugs at work?). It’s hard to see him, a mere three years old, acting so frail and old and doddering. His anti-seizure meds are being changed to give him ones that are less taxing on the liver, which is good, but which also runs the risk of upsetting the delicate balance and his having a seizure during the transition.

So, I’m writing in the corners of time around dog-care. Caring for Dasher is my priority, and otherwise dealing with life comes next. But I’m not having much excess time for blogging, or hanging out on social media. Bear with me, please. I’ll be back. And when I am, I hope I’ll have more good and fun news to share.

Posted in Personal Life, the dog | Tagged | 3 Comments