Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Day For Updates...

It is truly a day inspired for updates:

I'm on page 138/173 of the book. YAHOOO!!! 35 pages to go. Did you notice the page count went up by one? Hum... I wonder if that is good. Am I getting too wordy in my old age?

And as far as garbage gardening goes, I planted a rooty end slice of a sweet onion the other day. (I won't comment on the age of the onion.) I just laid it on top of some potting soil and it's growing. Unbelievable. I wonder if it'll grow into an onion -- eventually. It would be nice. I paid a fortune for the onion when my dinner plans called for onion soup. Since the onion was still around... you might have guessed dinner plans changes and it won a reprieve, until last week.

Froglet Update...

It might seem as if I have nothing better to than peer at these creatures. I do, but I am finding it very interesting to watch their development despite my crazy stay-at-home mom, but never at home schedule. This morning the little froglet seemed fine and the two-legged tadpole now has three legs. It is so amazing, at least to us. Can you imagine going to bed with two legs and no arms, and then waking up in the morning to find out you had grown an arm over night? How do you explain that? I'd say, darn where did that come from and what do I do with it.

What's feel like to start life with a tiny mouth that requires you to suck up a blood worm like a piece of spaghetti only to develop a mouth as wide as your body? That is a frightening image.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

We have a froglet!

What's a froglet you ask. A froglet is a frog with a tail. It has all four legs, bulging eyes, and needs to come to the surface to breathe.

Last Wednesday evening we moved all four of our little wonders into a 20 gallon tank, complete with a floating shelf. They seem happy enough. They're swimming about and the little froglet has climbed onto the shelf several times.

As far as our other cuties, biggie is still big with no legs, the tadpole with two hind legs still only has two hind legs and tiny is still, well tiny with no visible appendages. So, we feed them and watch them and I hope and pray our little froglet still likes the tadpole/frog food we have been feeding him all along.

Still, can you say echo? I need to find another word... and I need to start writing again. It's been a long, but good, week with the girls.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Night Time

This morning my youngest greeted me with this line:

Mom, last night's short. But-cept Christmas is long. I wonder why.

I couldn't have said it any better myself. You have to love these kids.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Have you missed me?

Well have you?

I took the girls to visit friends that moved away last November. I am so thankful that friendships span miles and time.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Three and a half quarts...

...of pure golden absolutely heavenly maple syrup.

ahhh... bring on the pancakes!

All Day Sugaring

So what do you do when it's 3:30 a.m. and you can't sleep because you're worried that you won't get through the 40+ gallons of sap in one sugaring session. Why you get up of course, and start boiling the sap.

What a day it has been! And it's not quite over. The unbelievably delicious half-syrup is finishing on the stove. It is all I can do to keep the girls and myself from drinking it as is. My middle one says it's the best ever, and I'd have to agree.

We'll get a tad over a half gallon when it's all said and done.

The girls are looking for pancakes from breakfast.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Tadpole Development 101

While camping over Labor Day Weekend my little ones managed to capture 4 tadpoles out of the local pond. "Can we keep them? We'll take care of them, and they won't cost anything!" Before I answered I recalled the froglet and tadpole that came home from school after the first grade science section on tadpoles. These babies lived 2 days -- if they were lucky.

I said, "Sure, we'll try it again." After all we had the fish tank, and the frog/tadpole food.

So nestled into one of our water bottles were the four tadpoles: Biggie, and 3 smaller ones. (Think about it next time we going fishing or hiking together and I offer you some of our water...) From the research for our previous experience I figured we'd have house guests for a few weeks, if they lived, and then they'd be hopping on their way.

I was wrong. September moved into October; and October into November. After weeks of filtering the water through coffee filters and paper towels I suggested we invest in a real aquarium filter, and while were were at it, a heater and more of those tasty juicy blood worms they absolutely loved. And let's not forget some gravel for the bottom of the tank.

So our free pets were now costing us more than I care to admit here. But boy, were they growing. No legs yet; but Biggie went from being about an inch in length to about three inches. And two of the others were not far behind. Last but not least "Tiny" was pushing an inch and it looked like we had a couple of different species.

For months we waited and we watched for signs of development. For months they ate and ate and swam around. Finally in January tiny legs appeared on two of them, but not on Biggie. Biggie just kept growing bigger, and Tiny was starting to bud one fore arm -- no hind legs.

It's February now. I've been to the pet store to restock on food and to buy them a shelf to sit on when they feel like crawling out of the water. We also got a different type of filter so we can lower the water level in the tank.

SHHH! Can you hear the ka-ching of the cash register? It's still ringing in my ears.

Today we noticed that their little sucker like mouths are starting to broaden into "froggy" mouths. And the two tadpoles with legs, their legs are getting longer and stronger. We keep looking for signs of fore arm development but it's tough to tell -- they swim around so much. Biggie might be developing one fore arm, and there maybe finally be some hind legs growing -- but we're just going to have to wait and see. Also the area behind the eyes that develops into the tympanic membrane is starting to look different. So maybe they will start to look more like frogs and less like tadpoles.

So they cost us a fortune, and grossly overstayed their estimated departure date, but we've learned so much from watching them grow.


As of yesterday, I'm on page 125 out of 172 for the second draft. I love it. I love to find the holes in the story and fill them in. (After all that's what I used to do before the golden mommy years. But then that was in science or software and not the written word.)

Happiness is a quiet home, sitting at my desk -- coffee at the ready... a snack too... I close my eyes and become my characters. Am I young or am I old? How do I feel? Do I need a shower? Am I angry? Is it okay to be thirteen years old or am I five or god forbid -- 45. Hey somebody has to do the tough jobs.

A dear dear writing friend presented a piece at writing group, (BTW every single writer in the Nibs is incredibly talented and my life is richer because of them), that reported that writers are at their best approaching 50. This makes me very happy. If fame and fortune are going to hit, I don't have long to wait.

And as I fell asleep last night I found myself feeling very sorry for the younger set of our group.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

My mind is in a muddle

Oh keyboard, take me away....

I need to write. I need to at least push forward on the rewrite one page, maybe two. It's like when I stop walking on the treadmill. Next thing I know a week has gone by and the dust is an inch thick on the control panel. For both writing and treading I let the laundry, the overwhelming household mess, food shopping, and the daily schedule take over my time and whoosh, and I mean whoosh -- like a huge toilet flushing, the day is gone and I've not a word or footstep to show for it. It makes me crazy!!!!!!!

Next week, vacation week, the girls' schedule will keep me from my beloved computer and the treadmill. Unless I can boil the 20+ gallons of sap down into syrup, rewrite at least 20 pages, and walk on the treadmill everyday before vacation mode hits, I'm going to need sedation. All the while I have to pick up this pig sty we call a home.

This morning the girls were crying because I wouldn't play a game before school. I said, "Excuse me, but I'm too busy picking up after your school project, and your Valentine explosion. And that isn't even mentioning the breakfast dishes that they can't seem to clear themselves.

One of these days I'm just going to leave the mess. And when we run out of table space to eat and clean dishes to eat off of, I'll shrug and return to the couch with yet another box of bonbons.

I've always suspected that there is a God.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

One of The Finer Things in Life

Very few things, not related to my children, come close to the feelings of contentment that sugaring gives me. Right now, there is nothing, aside from the girls, that can make my spirit soar like the smell of maple in the early morning air.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Inquiring Minds.... Do You Want to Know?

I know, I know, you've been checking this blog hourly just to see if I'd come up with some stellar entry. A topic that would get me sitting down and writing. And I did. But it's not here; sorry. I wrote an essay on Maple Sugaring. Big surprise, huh! And it's already emailed off. I'm hoping the publishing gods shine upon me. I keep sending good thoughts to the editor. "Check your email. Read and love that essay. Submit it for a Pulitzer Prize!" Okay maybe that last wave of good thoughts is a bit much. But you can't blame a writer for trying.

Also more good news. (Can you stand it?) I'm on page 104 out of 170 in the rewrite. The end isn't quite in sight. I know the last several, as in more than a few, chapters were rushed in the first draft. But I feel it's right around the corner. Then again, I reread the first page of the second draft -- and I hate it again.

When I finish, it will be right back to the drawing board.

And last but not least, we have about 18 gallons of sap for the boil.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Dark Days

I haven't written a single word for days and the forecast is marginal for sugaring. We have 11 gallons of sap, maybe a smidge more, from one day. Not a bad yield but 30 gallons makes for a good boil. If the temperatures don't return to the 40's I'll lose the taps. But if the temperatures stay cooler the harvested sap will stay fresher for the Saturday boil. You choose.

I need to remind myself that this is just a hobby. It's okay if I have to re-tap. And to boot I have a leaky bucket and the new buckets won't be here until Friday.

It's just a hobby.

Word count 110

Sunday, February 05, 2006

It Starts

My aunt called on Friday to say that the season had started in Vermont. They were tapping and boiling two months ahead of norm. I checked the weather and, on Friday, it looked like the temperature would be back into the lower 30's next week. I would wait a week to tap our trees. And waiting the week, we would still be three weeks ahead of our usual schedule. Yesterday when I checked the long range forecast the temperatures were warming up.

So, yesterday we went out to tap just one. That tap set, the sap gushed out. Plans changed and we tapped them all. Each tap delivering that wonderful liquid before the bucket could be hung.

The season is upon us.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Garbage Gardening

I'm not one to buy houseplants. The honest truth is I don't really like them. Still the window sills in the kitchen and the window seat are covered with pots. For me, there is something exciting about saving the seeds, or in the case of the three pineapples, the green tops, and planting them.

Two years ago my middle one planted apple seeds. And for a while we had twelve apple trees growing on our window sills. Many have faded and died under our unskilled hands, but three hearty souls have survived and late at night I dream of having a backyard orchard all started from our compost seeds.

Last year during our guacamole phase we planted two avocado pits. There are now two trees growing in soda cups on the window sill above the sink. I'd like to keep them in cups and try my hand at bonsi.

On either side of the trees are more cups full of sprouted garlic. The web is full of advice about growing garlic. All say it's best not to use the regular household garlic you buy to eat. Site after site says, that it isn't hearty enough. Well, these bulbs were sprouting just fine in my cupboard. Still I thought they'd do better with some potting soil and water. I hope spring comes soon, or the sink will be shaded by the bounty of leaves these bulbs have produced.

In our freezer are bags and bags of pumpkin and butternut squash seeds. We save them through out the year and come spring plant them among the flowers in our garden. At the start of the season I have visions of hundreds of squash and pumpkin (which technically is a squash). Usually we get a few small of each, and only those the chipmunks and squirrels have not tasted.

The latest experiment is focused on growing lemon trees. My middle one had to bring to school a food from the country she was studying (France). She choose to bake some Madeleines. A luscious lemony butter cookie that absolutely melts in your mouth. The recipe called for the zest and juice of two lemons. The remaining seeds are now planted in a couple of small pots. They are watered every few days and inspected daily for shoots. Nothing yet. But we are patient.

Into our compost bins goes all the vegetable garbage that we produce. It's interesting in the summer to see all the weeds in our flower gardens. Upon closer inspection we have found peppers, tomoatoes, cantalope, pumpkins and an apple tree. (We've left this tree outside to see how it does on it's own.)

When you garden with compost you never know what will spring forth from your garden.