Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Weird year in the garden

The witch hazel is blooming in August; it's supposed to bloom in February, when the deep yellow spiky flowers stand out against the snow and ice. I hope that doesn't mean we're about to have snow and ice...

The wisteria is mature enough that it's now giving a second (August) bloom. I'll be curious to see if it gives the third (October) bloom the way the wonderful wisteria at the first Shady Rest often did.

Of course, most of the tomatoes are still green. But the apples on the columnar apple tree are attractive and pest-free. Last year the apple had disappointing fruit, infested with all sorts of bugs and diseases, and I'd planned to use various sprays on it this year but never got around to it. Perhaps the weather discouraged the pests? I grabbed the first apple yesterday, and it was perfect. I've noticed that the older apple trees in the neighborhood, usually a mess of moth webs, look quite clean this year and the apples very appealing. If this is true, there are a ton of edible apples on the tree in the yard behind us (and no one there ever picks them).

I've had lettuce growing all summer, and need to get the next crop of greens in for fall. Some years I'm able to grow arugula throughout the winter.

This is the off year for the pear tree (it has just a few pears) and for the Candace grape vine. Both plants look healthy, but there isn't much fruit, and the grapes are teeny and still green. I never really know what to do with a big crop of pears, but I had been looking forward to that intense, spicy pink Candace grape juice.

The gardeners' motto: Next year.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

gd wins (the fantasy job contest)

OK, gd, you win with the genre-fiction-publisher-for-the-Kindle suggestion. The two other suggestions I received by email were...thought-provoking, but, frankly, a chance to publish genre fiction wins out.

gd, contact me off-list to select the lunch venue!

Calling it a day at the races

The Zorg and I are winding it down. We found this helpful. (Hey, amusing is helpful.)

Why I'll never be a photo blogger

The first ripe tomato appeared in the garden today.

I ate it.

With a small basil leaf as garnish. It was an orange cherry tomato from a plant that volunteered from last year's crop. Texture: B. Flavor: A-.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The garden gnomes are back!

Desk shrine

When I went out this morning to my summer office, this is what I found on the desk:

I ate the blueberries.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Beyond the cat door

At the original Shady West in Wallingford, I built an elaborate slanted walkway to allow our cats to come up along the side of the house and in through a cat door installed in my office window. The unsightly contraption had to be hastily dismantled when we were selling the house.

Now I discover there's an international website (blog) devoted to photos of elaborate stairways and other structures providing indoor/outdoor cats with access to homes.

Not all cats need ladders. This one climbs stucco!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Doesn't seem like summer

The cool, wet, wayward weather kept me inside much of the day, which was just as well. I did laundry, cleaned the cluttered laundry room, and photocopied 13 years of tax returns using the new HP Officejet J5780 All-in-One.

I haven't hooked up the Officejet's fax or printer capabilities yet, but the photocopying and scanning are great. I swung by Office Max this evening to get more black printer cartridges and was whining to the salesperson about how quickly I'd gone through the first two cartridges. He explained that the one that comes with the machine is only half filled (good grief!) and the #74 replacement ordered with the machine is not ideal. He recommended the #74XL, which has three times as much ink. I got two of those, and, since I'd almost finished the tax returns, those should last for a good long while.

The only other snag involved the 2007 return. The copy from our accountant was on a flimsy, environmentally correct paper that couldn't be grasped properly by the copier feed, so it was necessary to place the pages, one by one, on the scanner bed. Grrrr!

This evening I made a tomato sauce with a bit of bacon, and had that on spaghetti -- something I hadn't cooked for a very long time. Then Zorg showed me the musical episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." That was...different!

When the Buffy episode was over, I caught up on the Hugo Awards at Worldcon via Twitter. Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union won Best Novel. The movie Stardust (with a brilliant supporting performance by Dustin Hoffman) beat out the TV series Heroes for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long). A bit of a surprise. Stardust was nice, but traditional, while Heroes broke new ground.

I very much want to attend a Worldcon, but the next two are outside the US: 2009 in Montreal, and 2010 in Australia.

While everyone else is at Worldcon

Quite a few of my friends from the SF community are at Worldcon in Denver this week. But today I got together with another writer -- a published writer! -- downtown and talked about our plans for the upcoming Foolscap writing and art convention in Redmond. And this evening I went to a poker game that, since so many of the usual players were at Worldcon, turned into a viewing of the first reel of Citizen Kane. Plus we played around with Twinkle, an iPhone app that adds a geographic element to Twitter.

All unexpected, and all fun.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Contest: What should I be doing?

At various times in my life, people whose experience is limited to traditional corporate jobs have decided that my running a freelance business doesn't really constitute working. And that I need a "real job."

They're at it again.

In the past, I've dealt with these campaigns by announcing, after a week or so, that I have looked for and found a full-time editorial contract with an extremely hidebound, uninteresting major company, health benefits included, and that I will be "very busy" for the next six months. Of course, there is no such I contract. I merely continue on with my usual freelance projects, and all is well.

The most amusing of these episodes involved me assuring people that a former client had offered me a full-time gig writing educational curricula. Four days after I concocted the story, damned if that client didn't call and offer me exactly that project (which I took on as part-time contractor).

Under pressure from the "traditional job" lobby, I'm considering serving up another fantasy job. But I need to be careful -- what if the fake job turns into an actual job offer again?

I'd love it if the Mysterious Traveler readers would help with this "job hunt" -- by keeping me entertained. While I cook up a plausible job, you get to be creative. The person who invents the most amusing/creative job offer for me gets lunch at Kaosamai in Fremont or Hattie's Hat in Ballard. (Not sure what I'll do if the contest is won by an out-of-town reader...but we'll think of something.)

Please include in your contest entry: Job title, job description, location (commute? telecommute?), any special job responsibilities or requirements, and (of course) compensation. Please leave the job offer in the form of a comment on the blog or send email to me at mysterioustraveler [at]

Stay tuned. The best "job offers" will be compiled and posted (without attribution!) at a later date.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Weekend report

This cool weather, with intermittent sun, is no doubt preventing me from suffering sunburn. But it just doesn't seem like summer. I did get out in the garden yesterday, trimming the neighbor's out-of-control forsythia, which was looming over our fence, and cleaning up other foliage in the back yard. John came over and I tried out Zevia cola on him (a cola sweetened with stevia). We were sitting at the table on the back patio, and I realized I haven't even brought out the patio umbrella yet this year! Perhaps later this week, when they allege it will get into the 90s and break temperature records (Tuesday).

Friday night I went to a party Janice hosted for the new graduates of the Clarion West writing workshop and saw various celebrity instructors and patrons. I was pretty much out of my depth, but did meet another beginning-level writer with whom I'm going to have coffee next week. Highlight of the party for me was listening to Thom Davis, a superb blues guitarist who was a guest of one of the guests. He performs frequently over on the peninsula; I intend to get over there soon to hear an entire evening of his music.

Saturday evening I was at a more intimate gathering of science fiction fans Andi and Stu hosted. They have the perfect party backyard! Unfortunately, they also had a heap of extra books available, so of course I came home with more reading material. (M.G. Lord's Astro Turf.) I met one of the organizers of the Australian science fiction community, who is on his way to Worldcon in Denver, aiming to get the 2010 Worldcon to be held in Australia. Oh, I'll want to go to that one!

Plans for today are yoga, haircut with Ross at Habitude, and the Ballard Farmers Market. If the weather really does getting sunny and warm, it's back to the garden to confront the oxalis that's crept into two of the front beds. Or maybe the annual bamboo trimming... Where's a three-day weekend when I need it?