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Novel Update 5/26/16

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Thirty-one pages.

Questions about the plot.  The plot of the short story I started with seems to be taking a backseat to what I intended to be a subplot.  Perhaps the subplot should become the main plot.  Or maybe I should spend more time working on the main plot so it takes precedence again.

I was recently worried that my main character did not change, but I figured out what she needs to learn.  I was also concerned that she was too perfect — that I didn’t put in any unlikable qualities, which is unrealistic — but I think that I found her flaw (which is also the thing she needs to change.)  I would like to come up with at least one more flaw, I think, but I’m not sure what that will be.

I’ve written a lot of scenes, but they are not yet flowing together as a story.  I am hoping to get on the right track with that this summer.

School’s Out!

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The weather’s hot, the grass is growing, and teachers around the city are beginning to relax.

Yesterday was my last day of school for the year.  Hooray!  I have approximately 10 weeks to sleep late, go to the bathroom any time I want/need (without waiting for passing periods), eat when I’m hungry (rather than only at 12 noon), and do those things I’ve been putting off.

So maybe you’ll see more blog posts from me.  Things have been happening on the homestead — animals born, others butchered, progress on the house-building, fruit ripening.  But I also have a lot to do this summer.  I agreed to develop an orientation program for new teachers at our school, and I need to write curriculum for the second year of my two-year honors class.  There are home chores — cleaning the chicken coop and the rabbit barn, putting a cover on the pool and taking down the fence, reorganizing the guest room closet.  I picked the first strawberries today, and there will be raspberries and blackberries ripening soon.  There are little green cherries and little green peaches on our trees.  Then the rest of the garden will start to be ready to harvest.

I want to write, knit, and draw up plans for a tree house / writing studio.

There is a lot of stuff to cram into 10 weeks.

I hope to make the most of the time.

A Question for Foghorn (a poem)

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Oh, dear rooster

Why must you

C   R   O   W

so insistently

so repeatedly

at 2:30 in the morning?

Unplug

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Social media can thieve away my creativity. I know it does, but some days I don’t have the will power to fight against it. Because looking at Pinterest or checking Facebook is easy. Writing is hard. And if I don’t write, then I won’t write badly, see? It’s easier not to try.

Pathetic, I know. Especially since I’m trying to write a freaking novel.

But that’s the whole problem. I’m trying to write a freaking novel. It is the most challenging writing task I have ever faced. My senior honors thesis in college – the writing project I loathed to the essence of my cells by the time it was finished – was cake in comparison. Because then, I just had to have thoughts about what somebody else wrote.

But now, everything must come from me. The characters, their problems, their joys, their struggles, their triumphs – it all must come from my head and my heart.

That is really hard. It can exhaust me. I have already cried over these characters’ lives. I have lain awake at night thinking about them. And – I thought this was just a writers’ myth – I have been surprised by them. (How can you be surprised by something that comes from your own brain?)

But when my days are crammed with other responsibilities, and when the ideas no longer flow like water, then writing is hard. It is hard to make myself delve into these lives again, especially when I don’t know what else to do with them. When I look into their faces and they just stare blankly back at me. When I search their histories, their minds, their spirits, and come up with nothing. It’s frustrating and discouraging, and while it may not cause blisters on my hands or sweat down my back, it is difficult, demanding work.

But today, I’m logging out of Facebook. I’m shutting off Pinterest. Maybe I’ll write today, or maybe I’ll just let my brain rest and detoxify from social media. Perhaps what my mind requires on this misty, foggy spring afternoon is a nap under a cozy blanket or a walk through the woods.

And if you see me on Facebook today, nudge me in the right direction.

A Cold One

It’s five degrees outside, and my running partner is in Florida.  I stand at the door, looking at the thermometer, pondering.  The dogs need to go out, so I open the door and step outside.  it’s surprisingly lovely.  The sunshine is inviting and the birds twitter to me, saying it’s not really so cold.  I know they’re lying, but I resolve to do it anyway.

My running buddy texts me, saying, “Ran in shorts and a t-shirt but my thumbs were cold.”  I scowl and growl as I put on two pairs of pants, a running skirt, two pairs of socks, three shirts, a fleece, and plenty of gear to cover my hands and face.  Out the door I go.

The air is crisp and clear, and despite the cold, I inhale deeply.  The action of my muscles warms me.  The sun beams out of a cloudless blue, and as I reach the intersection that marks the halfway point, birds chirp from their hiding places, encouraging me onward.

No one else is outside on this cold morning.  Even the cars seem to hide in their garages.  If I had stayed in, though, I’d have missed seeing the family of ducks gliding through the frigid river, and hearing the downy woodpecker tattooing an irregular rhythm in the topmost branches of a hackberry tree.

The wind kicks up as if to tell me to quit dawdling, hurry home.  I oblige, picking up the pace for the last quarter mile and pulling my hat more securely over my ears.  Back home now, it’s tempting to stay out, so I relax for a few minutes in the lawn swing, wondering what the neighbors would say if they saw.  But nature calls in another way, so I breathe in the fresh air once more, and head back into the house.

Well, that explains it.

We had been trying to breed our rabbits for some time, and weren’t having much success. Then, Husband tried Fawn once more. He put her in Bear’s cage. And after watching at bit, he found out why Fawn would never kindle.

Fawn’s a buck, not a doe.

So… that changes our approach to things.

Sad Sally

On a cold day a couple of weeks ago, Husband said we had a sick chicken. She was standing in one place and moving very little. She was not following the other chickens around. She wasn’t eating or drinking. She wouldn’t even eat meal worms, which is like crack for chickens, so we knew something was wrong. Husband said she seemed despondent.

Since we wanted to make sure she didn’t infect the other chickens with whatever she had, Husband put Sad Sally in her own little cage in the rabbit barn. There is a heat lamp in there, and she seemed to perk up and begin drinking water. Finally, she stepped out of her cage and Husband thought perhaps she was on the road to recovery. He placed her back with the rest of the flock.

Perhaps it was too soon, or maybe she just was never going to make it, but a few days later, Sad Sally was dead.

We think perhaps she just got too cold and wasn’t hardy enough to survive her first winter.

This week, the forecast shows even colder temperatures than what made Sad Sally suffer. Wind chills below zero had us a little concerned. There is a large door-sized window in our coop, and we thought we’d better do something about that to make sure the rest of the chickens don’t get too cold. I had an old shower curtain, and this morning we stapled it over the opening. However, I hadn’t considered that the cold temperature would make the plastic brittle, so the staples were tearing the plastic. Clever Husband put staples in the top where the plastic is reinforced, and folded the sides over to help make it stronger. It’s better than nothing, but if the winds are really strong, the plastic may tear loose anyway.

We still have the plank of wood we had cut out of the shed to make the door, so we carried it to the window and rested it against the opening. It should block some of the wind, at least, holding the plastic in place, and hopefully it will be enough to avoid more sad chickens.

And next time we build a chicken coop, we’ll keep these weather concerns in mind, perhaps by having an actual storm door.

We’re always learning something on our little farm.