The more specific we are, the more universal something can become.
Life is in the details. If you generalize, it doesn’t resonate.
The specificity of it is what resonates.
~ Jacqueline Woodson
As I revise a young adult novel written years ago, I’m adding specific details in hopes of creating a resonance. May my story bloom as specifically and beautifully as this iris from my garden!
Neither snow nor rain nor nasty blowing winds can keep a good poppy down.
Battered, but still standing proud.
I love me a fierce Poppy.
A few minutes ago I was working in my front yard, sowing death and destruction via my homemade weed killer (white vinegar, salt, and dish soap), while feeling frustrated and worn out by neverending garden demands. I was dreaming of a full-time gardener. Or better yet, a tiny house and one pot of geraniums. Or maybe a barrel of gasoline and a match to make it all go away.
Then I hit PAUSE on my grumpiness and focused on some blooming tulips.
It really is a wonderful thing to survive a long, dark, cold, snowy winter and be rewarded with colorful flowers. I’m still dreaming of my own gardener, but in the meantime I’m gonna try to appreciate the beauty poking through the tangled, weedy mess that is my front yard.
It’s Sunday evening.
And it’s cold, gray, and snowing.
The entire landscape appears to be either dead or frozen.
I realize it’s best to live in the moment, fully embracing the “now,” but honestly? I’m not at all in the mood for that here’s-the-best-way-to-stay emotionally-healthy nonsense.
Right now my “now” is all about looking ahead to the vibrant warmth of my garden in bloom.
The February sunshine steeps your boughs
and tints the buds
and swells the leaves within.
~ William Cullen Bryant
You gave me flowers
teased and loved me, laughed with joy
my heart is shattered
Today I’m grateful it’s the second shortest day of the year and that soon we’ll be gaining daylight. I’m also grateful for this photographic reminder that although the landscape is currently dry-and-drab as far as the eye can see, brown doesn’t always mean dead. And ugly. And depressing.
Brown can also bring joy. Today I post this intricately beautiful brown iris as a reminder that blooms of many colors are in my not-so-distant future.
Looked closer and found
brave blooms in midst of the drab
guess I’ll try the same
blooming no more, still lovely
Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.
We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.
~ Joseph Campbell
Parts of this photo are in focus, but much of it is not. And that sums up where I’m at with this first draft of my new manuscript. Several key elements are firmly in place while other elements were either abandoned along the way or inserted later in the narrative. In a few places the draft reads like a jumble of characters and motivations.
But the moments of insight counteract that blurriness, giving me faith it’s all gonna be okay. I will prevail.
This weekend many, many people are volunteering their time and energy and money to political candidates and causes. I am grateful for the collective passion and commitment aimed at turning this ship around.
This cotoneaster was a volunteer in my yard. I didn’t plant it, one day it just showed up. And now it’s among the most beautiful and vibrant bushes in the garden.
Volunteers are the very best, whether flora or fauna. Thank you all.
On Saturday afternoon I dug up lots of perennials and at one point went inside to put a FREE ad on Craigslist. I didn’t hear from anyone and so put the plants in my garage to keep them out of the freezing temps. Someone responded to the ad at midnight saying he wanted the plants. I responded Sunday morning to confirm and ask when he’d pick them up. Hours passed without a response. Then another person wrote to say she wanted the plants, using many exclamation points to convey her enthusiasm!!! She said she’d get them today.
That’s the last I heard from that woman despite the numerous emails I sent asking for confirmation. I just sent a text to the original responder who’d finally responded last night to say he wanted them, asking if he can pick them up today. No answer yet. Meanwhile, the plants are in my driveway and the temperature is dropping again.
Selling stuff on Craigslist results in way fewer problems than giving things away for free. I’m thinking I should’ve charged a few bucks for the plants so that people would’ve been more courteous throughout the process.
Tomorrow is trash day. Maybe I should admit defeat and embrace the landfill, like a good U.S. consumer-citizen.
Our guest next to Zippy’s hand for scale.
I spent the afternoon working in the yard in preparation for the winter storm and below-freezing temperatures on the way. I cut back perennials and chopped up greens to add to our two compost tumblers and standing bin. Zippy joined me after his bike ride and made the plants from his vegetable garden compost-ready. As he stood over the bin and chopped up tomato plants, he discovered a guest he’d been dreading all summer: a tomato hornworm.
He showed me and said his friend had told him that hornworms turned into swallowtail butterflies. That didn’t sound right so I checked. In fact, tomato hornworms turn into the five-spotted hawkmoth. Either way, that’s quite the transformation. (I do think it’s kinda too bad the horn gets lost along the way.)
Mate’s garden bounty
he sees food, I see still life
art is nourishment
The complexity of things – the things within things – just seems to be endless.
I mean nothing is easy, nothing is simple.
~ Alice Munro
performed by a young boy who’s
transformed to a man
Because every step in the process is its own milestone.
Here’s to completed manuscripts!
I spent much of today in my backyard culling plants from my severely crowded flower beds so that I could give them away. (I got in touch with a woman who back in May responded to my “Free Perennials” ad on Craigslist and who happily came this afternoon to retrieve more of the green bounty).
I dug up so many plants. Daylilies. Yarrow. Iris. Valerian. Lamb’s Ear. Plus other plants that got caught in the cull-crossfire (asters, vinca, mallow, etc.).
I admit my beds didn’t look quite as dense as this Pixabay photo, but the claustrophobic feel is definitely spot-on. Fortunately, there’s now a bit more breathing room in my backyard. And unfortunately, there’s still a long way to go . . .
Chamaebatiaria millefolium (also known as Desert Sweet or Fernbush)
Tell me I’m not the only one who sees fluffy kernels.
I’m working on my revisions and mostly succeeding in ignoring the nasty voice in my head that says “this is crap” and “why even bother?”
What’s the key to my (mostly) success?
Remembering there’s no such thing as a perfect manuscript. Perfection is an unattainable ideal that just so happens to also be highly subjective.
From my perspective this purple coneflower is perfection. Flawed petals and all. I love it and have spent quite a bit of time gazing at its loveliness. However, your mileage may vary. And that’s okay.
I am a pale white woman who never, ever wears yellow because that color washes me out and makes me look dead. Sunflowers, on the other hand, wear their yellow quite nicely.
Motto: No yellow in my closet, but plenty in my garden.
One patty pan squash
four mustard green leaves eaten
mate’s garden harvest.
Lilies in garden
tallest in the neighborhood
reaching for the sky