Contentment

Perfect! I am printing this off to add to my collection of wall art!

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“Nine requisites for contented living:

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Health enough to make work a pleasure.
Wealth enough to support your needs.
Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them.
Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them.
Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished.
Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor.
Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others.
Faith enough to make real the things of God.
Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Rubbish!

One of many piles...
One of many piles – location – Front yard, 2 feet from the house.

I’ve mentioned before the various clean-ups needed on my place.  What continues to astound me is the various places the stuccoers decided to dump their leavings…

On the east side of my property, runs a steep and deep drainage ditch.   Last week, after the whole bug-spraying incident, it occurred to me that my belief the town department took care of the drainage ditch weed control was probably incorrect.

And later confirmed.

So out I went with my little electric weed-whipper.   Got along okay until I hit a stand of tall, wiry and lushly green weeds – which promptly grabbed hold of the weed whipper string, played with it long enough to pull an additional foot or so out of the ‘self-feeding’ roll and then let go just in time to slice my right leg.

Yes, yes, Mom, I was weed whipping while wearing shorts….

I looked over the cut and decided it didn’t need a tourniquet.  I continued in my mission and stepped on what I though was solid ground, only to find myself tumbling down when the undercut earth (cleverly disguised by 4 foot tall weeds) gave way under my impressive bulk.

(Impressive bulk sounds so much better than ‘fatty-outta-shape-me)

Picking myself up and cursing the flourishing weeds (they appeared to have tough skins, none of them dropped over and died from my tongue lashing…) I decided I would limp over to the not-so-steep portion of the ditch and work there while I regained my bearings.

And promptly ran into a pile of stuccoer leavings….and flipped up some chunks that scratched me, but did not harm my eyes, because I did think to put on safety goggles….

(Are you picturing my ‘landscaping fashionista outfit’  yet?  Are you laughing?   You should be – – )

As I stood there, bleeding, huffing and puffing as the sweat poured off me, my right leg stinging as if I had stepped in a salt mine, and blood dripping from my left cheek, I felt pure, unadulterated rage welling up inside me.

Which is my clue that I’ve over done and it’s time to stop for the day.

What?  You didn’t know anger can be a sign you’re tired and need to rest?   This is one of the many lessons I’ve learned since my stroke.

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Defeated by weeds, I limp into the house and ask the child-unit if he’ll be willing to dribble peroxide on my various cuts while I catch my breath and cool my temper.

He did  – there’s nothing quite so nice as having someone take care of you for a moment or two to get your rage turned to contentment and peace.  Once the leg cut was clean, the horrific stinging ended – apparently that particular weed juice doesn’t mix well with my body chemistry.

Not too long later, I hear the sounds of a gas-driven weed whipper…

(Remember my previous post where I hinted at nosy and judgmental neighbors?  None of them, thankfully, live in any of the three blocks surrounding my house – MY immediate neighbors are Fantabulous!)

Restored to something regarding normalcy once I was rehydrated, rested and all band-aided, I walk over to my neighbors place and wait while he finishes his weed whipping job.   We chat for awhile and then I ask if I can hire him and his heavy-duty weed whipper to finish the job I started, being sure to honestly convey the obstacles and challenges of the particular spot.

He says sure, but no charge – which we haggled over and ended with me promising delivery of home-made cinnamon rolls once the weather cooled enough for me to want to be in the kitchen, actually cooking, again.

He showed up later that day with a heavy duty brush clearer.   Had the whole ditch finished in about 15 minutes.

Bless you, bless you, I whispered as I watched.

**********

There is some controversy among town folk who have property that includes drainage ditches.  Some say to leave the weeds tall, to prevent flooding, should we ever get rain again.  Others say to keep trim and neat to cut down on pesky insect populations.

All I’m thinking is that section of mine must be planted with either comfrey or dutch white cover before next summer, or I’ll be making a batch of cinnamon rolls every week this winter to deliver next door  – I’m not taking my clumsy soul into that ditch again…

Sunflowers, Hell’s Kitchen and Just What, will the Neighbors Say?

If you recall, I planted mammoth sunflowers a couple weeks ago next to the north side of the western wall in hopes they will provide some shading relief against the July/August sun.   They are coming along nicely and hopefully, will keep the kitchen from feeling like a furnace from 3 to 8 pm each day here in a month or so.

Lookin' good - get tall, fast - okay?
Lookin’ good – get tall, fast – okay?

The summer is heating up and while my little 100 year-old home is comfy for the most part, the west side consists of an ‘added on’ kitchen area and obviously does not have the roof or wall insulation the main structure was blessed with.  Which means in the late afternoon, I officially own “Hell’s Kitchen”.

This is not an issue if nighttime temperatures cooperate – I have four fans and strategically move them from window to window throughout the day, dependent upon the sun’s location.

I have shades and insulated curtains and what not, but there is just no getting around the late afternoon hell fire.

Perhaps I haven’t been as good as I thought I was…

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The southern portion of the western wall infrastructure for rain drain-off is complete and all that’s left is creating the sloped bed, mulching and planting my kitchen herb garden. (or at least a portion of it.)

Ready to build kitchen herb garden
Ready to build kitchen herb garden

The southern perimeter tire fence is now on tier 3.   By end of July, I shall have the southern portion of my ‘kitchen garden’ enclosed and will actually be able to start planting some things.

A slow process, but Oh! so worth it!
A slow process, but Oh! so worth it!

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I’ve not yet set up any drip/micro irrigation, as I haven’t completely fleshed out just exactly where I want my middle row beds to be.   THE PLAN has changed so much since it’s inception – the discoveries of rhubarb, irises, poppies and such have meant re-working where I will put what.

And so, every third morning, I water the little spots that are considered “done” and dream of the day when my irrigation will turn on at 5:00 and shut off at 6:00, once a week.

There are those that disagree with my thoughts regarding watering.   I like to deep soak with long periods in between watering.   I read once that vegetables from plants that had ‘suffered’ a bit packed more nutrition than those who had each and every need met in a controlled environment.

Makes sense.   People who’ve been knocked about a bit by Life are generally stronger than those who haven’t – so why not plants, as well?

To that end, I don’t usually baby my plants.   I supplement water when there is no rain.   I try to learn as much as I can about them and companions they like, so they are planted where they’ll feel at home.

And then I wait and see… Either they like it here without a lot of fuss, or I’m looking for something else – something that likes living where I do…

**********

I will admit to a certain prejudice in my watering values.   I just can’t stand investing time/energy in an irrigation system that takes care of the beautiful, but inedible.

Translation: Flowerbeds and lawns.  This doesn’t keep me from planning for flowers or lawn-like areas, I just am more picky about what I plant.  Every plant that is scheduled for my little slice of earth serves dual or more purposes – perhaps it’s good for seasoning, has a pretty bloom or lures destructive insects away from one of it’s more frail neighbors.

Some have deep roots that will aide in soil conservation and bring trace minerals up to the surface for everyone else in the plot to enjoy.

Others will protect the northern wall from winter winds, keep the soil rich and fertile and scent evening breezes with the smells that bring peace to the soul.

A variety of choices will be planted purely because bees, butterflies and birds love and depend upon them.     My house is surrounded by nesting trees for many types of birds – I even got to watch the young during their flying lessons a few weeks ago.

I’m hoping eventually, I’ll have enough berries the birds will feel generous and share with me…

I will admit to a certain frustration in just what, exactly, I shall plant in the top, exterior tier of the tire beds that will grow and trail to cover the black ugliness behind and bear pretty edible flowers and/or fruit, as well as shade the interior beds from getting too hot during summer months.

I must admit to being somewhat swayed by public opinion in my search for just the right plants.   Currently, another town resident is being called in to justify and explain his creative use of pallets around his place.

Apparently, there is a general outcry about the state of his place.   I confess to not knowing much other than the public notice of a town meeting to discuss the matter.  I drove by his place the other day.  Yes, it’s not all uniform.  It actually reminds me of modern art, with all it’s spires and uneven sprawling geometry, but what do I know?

He has, in my opinion,  ingeniously put the pallets to use and he has painted them in various shades of tan, brown, light and dark greens.    Once, I observed him carefully clipping, by hand, the weeds that were growing next to one of the pallet walls – his green areas look neat and prosperous, so why the big uproar?  Because his place doesn’t look like this:

Manicured Perfection
Manicured Perfection

And so, I still search for a trailing vine that will quickly cover the exterior of the fence, is not a noxious, invasive weed and will provide some food for either humans or my local wild neighbors…

However, I’m starting to think the manicured-estate residents will just have to live with some bare tire patches for a season or two – – I have plenty of options if only I don’t insist the entire tire wall be hidden from the view of looky-looers this year.

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Why do I tell you all of this?   Because I’m somewhat chagrined to find myself a water snob – I’m rather frustrated with my place being on the local Sunday drive tour, entitled, “What’s she doing with all those tires” by those who have lived in the same place for 20 years and hire someone to keep their sod lawn and flower bed looking pretty – as well as those who choose to run their wide-arc sprinkler around noon every day, probably because they get great satisfaction out of watering the air.

Perhaps because it’s hot, I’m in a churlish mood and living in town is getting me down…

But mostly, I tell you what my garden will look like in the next two or three years, because it helps to keep me in better spirits and motivated through this long and tiring infrastructure phase – a phase accompanied by plenty of Poohs and Pahs from the local peanut gallery…

What Kind of Writer are You?

Some years ago, I was hired by a local woman to help organize her computer files.   As I worked we visited and I learned she was a writer.   A paid writer.  And had been for over 50 years.

Not too long after, she hired me to do formatting for a company booklet she had been hired to create.

And then, she asked me to find some relevant pictures…and then, I passed on some research I found while looking for pictures that I thought was relevant to her writing project…

In short, I ended up helping her to write the booklet.

And I gained a mentor.

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This woman’s CV is amazing – which she sent to me to show me how it’s done.  Half-way through the first page, I was almost giddy with joy over my luck at happening onto such a talented and widely-versed mentor.

And she, in her own way, deemed me fit to take on for ‘developing’ as she said.   She had ‘developed’ many writers over the years and that she deemed me worthy was a huge ego boost – – at least for awhile…

Lesson #1 – If you are to be a freelance writer, you must have a high tolerance for financial uncertainty.

Check!  I’ve been married to a gambler, been unemployed and self-employed more times than I can count – No problemo…

Lesson #2 – Before you ever write a single word for an article, you will know which publication it is for, what their readers want, what their advertisers expect and which issue you will submit it for.

Whoaaa….. Lesson #1 was so easy – – but this, this sounds like ….WORK!    What are you trying to do?  Kill my muse?!?

I got many other lessons from her during our time together, but let’s suffice it to say that she was somewhat disappointed in my response to #2 and while she continued to mentor and hire me for various jobs, all offers of developing me into a freelance writer were cheerfully and gently declined.

Just not my style.

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I’m a prolific writer, and I can write on schedule if I have to, but why do it the hard way?   Some days, I write 5, 6 or 8 posts – then I take 3 or 4 days off – – why force it?

I can usually whip out 3 or 4 chapters a day on my various projects when the ole’ gray noodle has had plenty of contemplating time –  I do not bemoan the ‘fermenting’ portions of my writing journey – I simply turn my mind to other matters and let my subconscious figure out how the evil witch managed to get into the palace in the first place…

This is why I have five different manuscripts in various stages of completion…

I write everyday, just not always on the same project.

Why am I telling you this?   Because these past few months, I realized the way I go about writing and editing is often on the list of ‘no-no’s’ from those who Know what it takes to earn your living from your writing.

The few times I tried to ‘buckle down’ and commit to seriously earning my living from my writing, life became bleak and stressful.   As I hawked my wares, and responded to ads that wanted 400 words of web copy with 360 instances of various keywords, my soul died a little more each day.

So I left it behind and went back to what I knew and enjoyed.   Writing for the pure joy of it.   I decided if ever I earn a living from writing, it simply must be from book sales – because sending me through a checklist of writing ‘do’s’ is akin to hobbling a horse and asking it to gallop.

Just doesn’t happen….

Fortunately for me, there is a generous and kind writer’s community here on WordPress – I no longer agonize as much over the ‘what to do’ lists and question whether I am a writer or not…

For here, there is truly  ‘to each his own’ community support.

So I wrote this for anyone who may be questioning their own writing style – if it works and brings you joy – great.  If not, question what, exactly, needs to change.

It may not be you, at all – it just might be the venue you’re writing in/for…

Writer vs. Published Author

A post over at The Forget-Me-Not Cultivation blog got me to pondering this morning.  And I left a comment…

Which Sophie responded to and asked me questions I realized I couldn’t in good conscience respond to without appearing to hijack her comments area as my own personal blog space – so here’s my answer in reply to your query, all umpteen hundred words safely nestled on my slice of cyberspace:

“May I ask why you have decided to self publish? Have you had your work read or critiqued as yet and if so can I also ask how?”

I’ve decided to self-publish, because I can.

It’s really as simple as that.  My computer has a file folder titled “Writing” and so many sub-folders it’s ridiculous.   Before I had a PC, I carted with me various notebooks/folders/three-ring binders that had short stories, poems, prose and journals stacked within them.   Like you, Sophie, I’ve always been a writer and with the dawning of the ePublications age, I see no reason why not to upload my work and see what happens.

The mechanics of ePublishing does not occur to me to be very hard – there are numerous tutorials on how to format, etc.  I’m no graphic artist, but I know my way around Photoshop well enough to design websites and my wants for my cover design are not past my skill level.

I follow so many different blogs from writers and self-published authors there is no shortage of information regarding how-to and how-not-to.   I’ve ordered many self-published works in the past – some were good, some were not.

I’ve seen what is out there and I believe my work will have an audience and stand up to critiquing from that audience (as long as my high school English teacher proofreads it for me!  LOL)

Do I expect to become a self-supporting author shortly after publishing?  No.

Because I do not, and because I’ve already written these works and had previously designed the covers after envisioning the series of them one day during my afternoon “Daydreaming” hour, I really don’t have anything to lose by self-publishing.    Most of the time and effort have already been spent.  I simply must correct the typos/grammar errors given to me by my red-penciled angels, select my fonts and upload.

Any sales I make will be awesome because I haven’t taken out a loan to pay others to help me get the work “publication ready.”

So far, I’m sure my observations have made some in the self-published world cringe – there are perhaps some souls who believe me, and those like me, to be the bane of the eBook world and wish for us lackadaisical folks to quit ruining the reputation of the ‘published it myself’ crowd with our less than polished submissions.

I will not apologize.  I’ll submit the best of my best.   My cover may not make Madison Avenue exclaim, “It Pops!” but it is what I want.   I will always hire a proofreader to ensure a typo-free copy for upload.  I will format my manuscript for easy navigation (thanks to my many years as a database and website developer).   I will tell my story the best I know how and…

… the rest is up to Destiny.

Work Critiques

The only work I’ve had critiqued is the articles and book copy I’ve written for the publications of others.  Sometimes I got a credit/byline and sometimes I did not.   This prior experience may make me a tad more confident in my writing abilities than I should be.

I have not trucked my work around to writer’s groups to have it critiqued.  Some years ago, a friend joined a writer’s group and I went along for the ride to one or two meetings when I was visiting her.

While I’m not judging (truly, I’m not), I must say not one in the group was a writer.    All of them had recently read “The Four Hour Work Week” and were set to become millionaires maintaining their ‘information publication website’.   They all had knowledge that was useful to share – and worthy of charging for the sharing – but after seeing some of the manuscripts, they were not, quite yet, writers.

Not that I believe all writers groups to be like this, but the experience reminded me how often over the years various works had been thrust into my hands to be read with an added, “What do you think?   Could I get published?”

Now why, you might ask, was I the recipient of these missives?   Because I’m a writer – – which means not only do I write for enjoyment, but I never spend very long at any job before I’m the go-to gal for helping write the perfect memo, resignation, letter, manual, report, brochure, web copy, etc….

I’ve been a ghost writer for years – there are many who know what they want to say, but cannot write it effectively.   It makes me happy to do website copy for someone and hear:

“Amazing!  It’s exactly what I wanted only so much better!  How did you get all of this just by us having coffee and a chat?”

Because I’m a storyteller who can write…

So my life experience tells me I am a writer.   My soul says I’m a writer.

Why not take the leap to become a published author?

So if you’re so casual about it, why do it at all?

Because I must.

😀