Applesauce and Norwich Terriers

Hey, just for something new, why don’t I put up a blog post? What a thought!
After all this time, I have a number of random things to write about, but I’ll narrow it down to two.

First, if you’d like to see what I did yesterday, here’s a pic:

2016-11-05-16-09-28That’s applesauce. Craig and I broke our previous record for the number of quarts made in a day. Previously in the 30s, our total now is 58. This was the yield from 3 bushels of apples.

Here’s the fun part about all this: we don’t have apple trees, and we don’t eat applesauce. I won’t bore you with the whole long story about how this came to pass, but will say that we have kids and grandkids who love applesauce, and most of this will be divvied up among them. The remainder, I plan to turn into applebutter, which activity, as I may have mentioned in the past, is how I traditionally like to celebrate New Year’s Day.

That’s one random thing. Here’s the other:

This summer, some of my writer friends were talking about doing a novella collection together. At first, I thought, “That’s not for me,” probably because I think of novella collections as being romances.

Matter of fact, two of the friends I’m talking about participated in a just-released novella collection, The Bucket List Dare. It’s the-bucket-list-darefour stories by four authors about four friends who challenged one another to revisit the “bucket list” they made in college and tackle one daring item before they turned thirty. I have not read any of these stories (Why not? you may ask. I don’t do romance, is my answer), but two of the authors (Pamela S. Meyers and Linda W. Yezak) are my buds, so I’m putting in this plug for their new release.

Okay, back to my point:
The novella collection my friends were proposing had a tiny house theme. The stories could be any kind of contemporary fiction (that is, they didn’t have to be romances) provided the protagonist lives in a tiny house. As I watched their conversation online, I thought it sounded like fun. So when they said, “Who wants in?” I surprised myself by raising my hand and saying, “Me! Me! I wanna do it!”

This is not a tiny house in the sense I mean, but it’s a free image. And I like free.

These gals are so with-it. Organized. Knowledgeable about what they’re doing. Next thing I knew, they’d set up a Facebook page for the authors involved in the project and a schedule setting out when this aspect and that must be completed in order to be ready on the release date they’d decided upon. (We’re publishing through CreateSpace.) Whoa, Nellie! We’re really doing this!

Next question: Can I do this? I’m the speculative weirdo — I don’t usually write contemporary fiction. And I’ve never been a big fan of the tiny house craze. But I let my brain ramble with a few story lines, came up with one I liked, starting writing, and had a whole lot of fun!

I wanted to get finished as quickly as possible so I could get back to the big project I’ve been working on since last September. So I wrote the story in record time, ran it through my critique group, and am doing a final proofread.

And am back to my first love, which is speculative fiction. And that last sentence is a bit of a pun, because the title of my novella for the tiny house collection is First Love. But it’s not a romance. Interested? I hope so.

I haven’t read any of the other stories, but I’m sure they’ll all be good. Look for the collection’s release in early May, and stay tuned for updates about this project here on YsWords. I promise to not wait another six months before posting again.

Another view of that lovely applesauce...
Another view of that lovely applesauce…

Meanwhile, back in the spec-fic world, remember my last post, in which I gave a preview of the opening chapter of my WIP? Well, I’m now at about 143,000 words, and there’s still quite a bit of story to be told. As I indicated in my last post, it’s too long for one book, so I’ll turn it into a series. Once I get the whole big, unwieldy thing written, I’ll be in a better position to decide where to divide it, and how to make one section end and transition into the next.

I have a lot of work to do before I can release the first part in this new, as-yet-untitled series, which I’d like to do by the middle of next year. That’s why I was eager to get the tiny house story finished–so I could move forward with this puppy.

Speaking of puppies, I gave a dog to my protagonist in the tiny house story.

Photo from Wikipedia
Photo from Wikipedia

I was in the middle of the third chapter when I realized she needed one. I resisted, because I, personally, don’t want a dog. Been there, done that, and am convinced that life is a whole lot easier, cleaner, and less nerve-wracking when you don’t have pets. But my protagonist needed a dog; it just couldn’t be avoided.

So I did some research—almost as if I were looking for a dog for myself—to see what breed would be most appropriate for a woman of her personality and in her situation, and I decided on a Norwich Terrier. I’d never heard of that breed before, but my protagonist is very happy with hers, and she recommends them.

Applesauce the Dog, alive and well 28 years later!
Applesauce the Dog, alive and well and living in Parma, Ohio almost 29 years later!

One last observation: for our youngest daughter’s first Christmas, we gave her one gift: a great big stuffed dog. Why only one gift? Because she (Rustie, the daughter) was less than six months old and so didn’t care about Christmas, but I felt obligated to give her something. The dog was about the same size as Baby Rustie, and she paid no attention to it until she got older. Somewhere along the line, she named it Applesauce, perhaps because of the color. Or perhaps because her mother used to make large quantities of applesauce every fall. And the family used to eat it frequently.

None of this has anything to do with anything, but I couldn’t very well title this “Applesauce and Norwich Terriers” without mentioning the stuffed dog named Applesauce.

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Strolling Through Life’s Garden

2013-09-24 11.13.13I’ve been keeping busy lately with a number of tasks (none of which included updating this blog, as you may have noticed). But this afternoon, I decided to take time to stop and smell the zinnias. Or at least, show them to you, along with some other scenes from the recent goings-on around the old house. Next month, I hope to be able to show you some updated scenes from the new house.

I started these little mini-zinnias from seed late last winter then put them out in the garden in May. I’ve never grown them before, but they surpassed my expectations, and I plan to try them next year in Maryland.

Last year, our beans didn’t do well. Though we planted them three times and picked them all the way into October, I wasn’t able to freeze enough to last all year. It bothered me that I had to buy canned ones to get us through. They’re not all that expensive, and I don’t mind canned beans. But I don’t like having to buy something I can grow myself. So this year, I was determined not to run short.

I needn’t have worried; now I have more beans in my freezer than Craig and I can possibly eat in a year–and I’m not sure how well they’ll travel. I tray-freeze them then store them in large zipper bags. Using that method, I can grab a handful if I want just a few, or cook more if we have company. The problem is, we have to carry them 200 miles from one freezer to another, and I’m concerned they’ll thaw enough that when they’re put back in the freezer, they’ll all stick together. Not a big deal–they’ll still be useable. But I didn’t go2013-09-24 11.06.47 to the trouble of tray-freezing them just so they could re-freeze in one big gob. (Okay, so it won’t be one gob, but a bunch of gobs. But you get the idea.)

In order to insure that we’d have enough, I put in a late crop again this year. But by the time they started ripening, I realized I didn’t need them. I’ve picked this last batch a few times, but this morning decided enough was enough–I pulled all the plants. There were weren’t many plants, and they were a little past their prime. But it’s still sad to uproot healthy plants that are still producing.

Speaking of plants, do you see all those little green growing things on either side of the pulled-up bean plants? Those aren’t weeds; they’re radishes. Tillage radishes, that is, planted as a cover crop. We tried these for the first time last year and found them to be remarkable things. The purpose is to benefit the soil, as explained in the link. But for us home gardeners, a secondary benefit is fresh, edible radishes from the garden even after several freezes. They’re gigantic white beasts similar to a daikon, and they have a 2013-09-24 11.08.13crisp, mild flavor perfect for sandwiches. It’s sheer delight to enjoy fresh radishes in the winter when everything else in the garden is gone.

On the subject of giant vegetables, our jalapeno peppers did extremely well this year, as you can see from this picture. Yes, that’s a jalapeno. And it’s as hot as it is big. I made poppers yesterday, and they were almost too hot to eat (in my opinion). Our new house has a small yard, but it should be big enough for a few tomato and pepper plants, as well as a couple rows of beans.2013-09-24 11.07.24

I have one more canning project ahead of me: applesauce. Our apple trees were over-achievers this year, and I’ll have to freeze some of the sauce because I don’t have anywhere near enough jars for it all. Frozen applesauce is okay, but I prefer to can it because it’s convenient to just open a jar when you want some. I don’t like having to thaw it before I can use it. Moreover, I’d rather pour it from a jar than from a bag; a plastic bag is too messy.

Either way, though, the apples are there, and I don’t want them to go to waste.

Remember my onions? This spring I showed a shot of them when they were just little sprouts; later, you saw them as they were
maturing. This is their 2013-09-24 11.15.46current state (on the right):

Now, let’s go indoors and see what sort of trouble I’ve been getting into there.

In a word, packing. I ran out of boxes this morning and will have to acquire more before I can continue, but we’ve made a good start. The big walk-up attic is empty; everything upstairs is packed except for our clothes and the bedding on the beds. On the main floor, all that’s left in the office are the things on my desk I use regularly, and everything in my curio cabinet and display hutches is also 2013-09-24 11.31.22packed. Furthermore, Craig’s finished in the garage.

Though we’ve been plugging away at it for an hour or two a day for the past week or more, there’s still a lot to be done. In fact, we haven’t touched the kitchen or the basement yet.

The pic on the left is a little dark because I forgot to use the flash, but I think it’s clear enough that you can get the idea. When the real estate agents were showing our house every few days, I had to keep it spotless; now, it’s going to ruin. Though my most comfortable state is something in between, I can live with the chaos temporarily. Good thing, because I have a feeling several of these boxes will have to sit around our new house for quite a while before I figure out where to put the stuff.

Finally, on the writing front: I’m still working on that too. Book #3  (Ransom in the Rock) is still in limbo, finished but waiting to be published. I’ve also finished the first draft of Book #4 (The Last Toqeph) as well as the first round of revisions. Now, I’m running it through my marvelous critique group (love those ladies!) and they’re helping me polish it to a delightful shine. I’m super-excited about the way the series wraps up; there are some twists in Book #4 I hadn’t anticipated, but they bring it all to an eminently satisfying conclusion.

When I’m finally settled into my new little house, I’ll get busy figuring out the best way to get these last two books published. For now, my three or four faithful readers will have to be content knowing that the rest of the series is, in fact, written and will be available for sale some time in the future.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t read the first two, I invite you to fly through the Gateway to Gannah for some serious sci-fi adventure!


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