Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Importance of Drainage Holes During an Apocalypse

Last Tuesday Savannah was visited by torrential downpours. Rumor has it people were kayaking instead of jogging and, having seen how deep the streets get when it rains, I believe it. I've also seen pictures. On the news. Seriously.

It will never be said that here in the South, we're ever at a loss as to how to have fun!

Kayaking, however, was not on my agenda. It was my off day and I intended to stay cozy and dry with a good book and a few murder mysteries on the tube. The rain kept coming down, splattering the windows and blurring my vision, narrowing my world to just a few feet past the walls. The lane was a creek and the main street a river.

The day before - which had been sunny and warm - I'd returned home from work eager to plant several new herbs we'd bought over the weekend. We have precious little space and sunshine but I just HAD to have basil, rosemary, and dill. I spent a wonderful afternoon pottering about in the dirt, primping and preening my tiny, baby plants.

This memory trickled in as the rain showers dwindled. I wondered: did I plant them securely enough in their new homes? Perhaps, I thought, as thunder rumbled in the distance, perhaps I should poke my head out and see how they're faring.

THIS is what I saw:


SOUP! Not happy little plants, dripping with nature's bountiful rain. Those plants in the pots were up to their top fronds in murky sludge. I rushed out just as it began to rain again. Every time I tried to upend the planter to drain off the water, the plants moved with it, threatening to spill over onto the ground. Thunder grumbled and heaven decide I needed a shower. A hard, pounding shower. I tried in vain to drain the water a couple more times when...

...I suddenly remembered...

...that I'd forgotten something...

...very important...

i'd forgotten to drill holes in the bottom of the planter.

(image found HERE)

In that moment of panic, my mind was clouded with getting drainage holes in the pot. I admit I wasn't very smart about it but all turned out well and I didn't lose any fingers. There may or may not have been box cutters involved....

Finally, as the rain poured and the water rose around my ankles, I calmed down and began to rationalize the situation. The smartest (and sanest) thing to do was to put the little plants in individual pots until the rain subsided and I could drill holes in the bottom where they belonged.

I went inside to take off my soggy sweater only to have the cat decide it would be a FANTASTIC time to bolt out the back door. I couldn't grab him with my muddy hands so I had to herd him back in with my foot. He didn't like it, but thankfully he backed up and let us both in out of the rain. Why cats want to rush out of doors in the most in-climate weather is beyond me. I thought they hated being wet?!?

Cat inside, dry, and slightly pissed, sweater shed and creating a puddle on the floor, I returned to what was quickly looking like a scene worthy of Genesis or Gilgamesh. The plants needed no cajoling to relocate. I scooped them out of the pool, squeezed as much water as I could from some soil, and tucked their water-logged roots into new pots. Pots with drainage holes.

* Aside: WHY, Home Depot, do you sell pots WITHOUT drainage holes????? *

I let the new, organic soil swimming pool gather more water and went inside. A warm shower, fuzzy socks, and cup of tea later I was rather proud of my bravery. I could have been struck by lightening (doubtful) or washed under the wall into the lane (highly doubtful)!

The next day, the sun came out and the world dripped awake. I spent the morning wringing out soil, spreading it on the potting table, and letting it drain. The pot was dumped of the murky soup and I hope all that organic goodness does the weeds under the potting table some good. I turned the pot over and LO! There were little circles that, if poked with a nail, popped right out and gave the pot the most lovely row of drainage holes.

Insert grumbling and feelings of stupidity and inadequacy here.

So far, so good. The plants like their new home and appear to be thriving:


The moral of this story, kids, is to always make sure your pots have drainage holes in them BEFORE you load them up with soil and plants. Unless you enjoy wading in natural ponds to squeeze water out of handfuls of dirt. I wonder if all that organic goods I soaked up through my feet will make me grow any taller? At any rate, I deserve an award for "Plant Mom of the Year"...

...or at least "Plant Mom Willing to Risk Her Life in Global Flood Apocalypse to Make Sure Baby Plants are Safe".

Yeah. There's got to be an award for that.



Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The 2016 A-Z Challenge REFLECTIONS Post



This week, we survivors of the A-Z Challenge are banding together for one more run around the block with our Reflections of the Challenge. Read more about the Reflections and find links to the other participants HERE.

***

There was a lot about this post that went well for me this year. I posted every day and I learned so much about my chosen subject, HEALING PLANTS. There seemed to be a huge gathering of bloggers and the posts were top notch! My one regret, and this is totally on me, is that I wasn't able to connect to as many new bloggers as I'd hoped to. I'd wanted to do more networking but life got in the way. I've heard that from many participants and that seems to be the one hitch in everyone's A-Z plans. My goal for next year is to MAKE TIME to sit down and visit 5 NEW bloggers and 5 FRIENDS everyday. There's no way we can get to all the participants! This challenge is HUGE! But I feel if I made that tiny commitment it would boost my enjoyment of the challenge and widen my sphere of bloggy friends.

I learned so much about my own writing this year as well. I went deep into the heart of one of my all time favorite subjects, herbal folklore and medicine, and came up with some wonderful sources and information. It's deepend my reading as I'm now always on the hunt for second hand gardening books and my library check out list reads more like a plant catalog than a mere due date receipt!

My current WIP had some herbal references in it but only slight and only towards the end. I've now decided to introduce more of them into it from the beginning and tie the entire story line together with one herb, its uses, and its connection to the MC and her journey.

Also, perhaps because of all this focus on writing, I happily stumbled upon a book by one of my favorite writing coaches, Natalie Goldberg. Her words drew me back to a place of pure writing, writing just to be moving pen on paper, and has really helped me sink my roots into not just this story but my own story. Free-writing is part of my week now and I'm working on establishing it as a daily routine. It dredges up so much from my past and my present; it projects into my future with plans and dreams; it allows me to shovel into the bedrock and really learn the layers that make me the writer that I am today and shows me what I need to add to my soil to become the writer I want to be tomorrow.

THANK YOU A-Z Challenge crew! You've given us another fabulous year of posting and scrambling for words that begin with Q, X, and Z. I think you all did a FANTASTIC job and as far as I can tell, the Challenge ran smoothly and everyone had a great time! See you soon!

xoxo


Friday, May 6, 2016

How deep are you willing to go?

(photo from Google search)


After the A-Z, you'd think I'd take a huge step back and a big, deep breath from writing. That's been the case in other years but this year I've jumped in and started with a new vigor. Something about writing every day struck home with me. As I mentioned in Wednesday's Post, I recently read Natalie Goldberg's "The True Secret of Writing" and it got me back on the writing practice wagon. What a relief it is to be writing again.

It sounds funny when you say it. If it's such a relief, why do we stop in the first place? Fear of failure, yes. Fear of not finishing yet ANOTHER book/story/essay, oh yeah. And it's scary to think once a story is told we may be out. Finished. Kaput. Nada else in the old vaults. That's silly, really, especially if you could see my computer files and physical stack of files, folders, spiral notebooks, and binders FILLED with not just novel summaries and partially written essays but LISTS and GOBS of ideas and titles and series (yes SERIES) ideas I've collected throughout the past 20 YEARS. That's how long I've clung to this writing dream. I remember sitting down at a makeshift desk when I was 18 and writing my first serious story. It is an absolutely TERRIBLE draft but it's THERE, in the flesh and ink and that first taste of Stack of Paper with Title did something to me.

Now that I'm back, I've been asking myself a very hard question: How DEEP am I willing to go? Sounds ominous, sure, but Stephanie Scott said something VERY interesting in a comment on Wednesday's post. She told me that she freewrites in her character's voices, away from the main story, letting the character dictate where the Stream of Consciousness goes.

I've NEVER thought of doing that. Thanks Stephanie!!

I've been doing Stream of Consciousness writing off and on since I (finally) finished college three years ago. My favorite professor's first assignment was for us to do SoC writing everyday during the entire semester. It was liberating! Now that I'm back in the practice (there's that word again...) I realize just how deep SoC can potentially go.

It's like swimming in the sea. You can stay on the surface and still get wet, but what if you dived down, down, down to the sandy bottom and dug your hands into whatever it is that's waiting? You can't see, the water's murky (I live by the Atlantic, not the Caribbean) and it'd burn your eyes anyhow. What will you uncover? What will come up with you? What could wriggle out and tag along, back to the surface, nibble your fingers. Bite. Sting. Pursue?

Scary, huh? And yet THAT'S where the best stories are, on the bottom on that proverbial sea. It's a bit terrifying, I'll admit, to take a tale and SCUBA my way into it, feel the slime, get tangled in the sea weed. Confront the possibilities of dragons in the deep.

Am I really willing to dive THAT deep? Every character. Every story. Just to see how far they are wiling to go to let me into their world, a world that is, to some extent, of my making?

Are YOU?

Tell me! I want to know.

PS: Happy Mother's Day to all you Mom's out there! Thank you for all you do! Be you Human Mama or Fur Mama (like me) or both, you're a blessing and a gift and don't you forget it!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May the 4th be with you (and your Insecurities too!)


Good morning, good morning. Welcome to another episode of The Insecure Writer's Support Group! It's a monthly gathering of writers who are loud and proud when it comes to airing our insecurities to the world. And really, why shouldn't we be? They are a part of us, a part of who we are right now. Might as well own them, right?

Oddly enough I'm not dealing with any insecurities right now, writing or otherwise. The A-Z Challenge took over my writing for the month of April, as I knew it would. I learned some wonderful lessons this Challenge year - but I'll leave that for the A-Z Reflections Post on Monday May 9th :).

I started reading "The True Secret of Writing" by Natalie Goldberg at the end of April and finished it last night. As all her books are, it was wonderful. A compelling but thoughtful rally to get back to the practice of writing.

PRACTICE

Why does that word turn so many of us off? I've always loathed "practicing" anything. I just want to DO it! And yet, I've learned over the years that in order to be able to do something, we must first make ourselves adept at it. And the only way to do this is, you guessed it, through practice.

Goldberg tells us that writing is nothing unless it is a practice. An ongoing practice. Something that we do every day. My former writing mentor told me that we're only writers if we write and that makes so much more sense now than it did 13 years ago. This may surprise you, but writing isn't about publishing or best sellers. Sure we want that. I want that. You want that. Writing is about WRITING. It is through the writing that we learn what it takes to construct a novel, a memoir, a collection of poems or stories or essays or recipes. And once we learn how to put it all together, we EARN the next steps: the publishing, the accolades. 

None of those accolades though are possible without the practice. I've curled my fists and bit my tongue numerous times hearing someone mention, "Wish I could do nothing but write a novel and be rich. Must be nice." If they only knew how much pain and heart and blood and tears go into writing anything. If they only knew how many times we have to die before a novel is written.

Go forth this month and practice! Get out those ideas, those glimmers of truth. Even if it's awful, get it written! You can edit later. Just WRITE.

Be a writer. Write. Every. Day.

Practice, as they say, makes perfect. Maybe, but I do know that it makes for really good stories :)

Write on, my Friends!


Saturday, April 30, 2016

The 2016 A-Z Challenge brought to you by The Letter "Z"


Hello! And welcome to the 2016 A-Z CHALLENGE!!

* confetti *

This year, I’m blogging my way through a botanical alphabet

I hope you enjoy your time here and by all means, 
come back tomorrow and see what plant I’m highlighting next! Cheers!!

***

ZHI ZI
gardenia
(gardenia jasminoides)

(photo found HERE)


Known as the happiness herb, Gardenia is helpful in cases of restlessness, irritability, anger, hypertension, and similar ailments.

Maybe we should send some to Congress.

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Gardenia is used to clear heat in cases of high fever. It is known mostly, however, for the delicious aroma of its beautiful white flowers.

It has been used to treat high blood pressure and should not be used if you're already on a blood pressure medicine. There is nothing, however, problematic with indulging in that amazing fragrance. If you ask me, taking a few minutes everyday to breathe deeply of gardenias, roses, or any other fragrant flower or herb is a calming ritual, therapeutic to mind, body and spirit. Indulge to your heart's content!

_______

And that's a wrap! The 2016 A-Z Challenge is over. Heave a great sigh of relief, kids. We've made it!

Did YOU post every day?
I did!! 
Did YOU read new blogs and meet new bloggers every day?
Nope. Me either.
That's where I drop the ball every year. If you've visited here during the challenge more than once, THANK YOU!!! I'm slowly working my way over to pay back the gesture :)

Now GO! Prop your feet up. Relax. Enjoy your weekend.

You've earned it.

***

All research references can be found in my Library of Botanical Miscellany

Disclaimer
These posts are in NO WAY medical suggestions. They are intended for informational purposes only.
If you are interested in pursuing natural, herbal remedies, get thee to a reputable herb shop (preferably one that is locally and independently owned and operated) and get educated!

Disclaimer II
It’s ridiculous that anyone writing about herbal and traditional remedies should have to put a disclaimer at the end of anything. 
Use your brain and think for yourself! Just as you shouldn't take a pharmaceutical at face value, 
do your herbal research and learn about the amazing plants around us.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The 2016 A-Z Challenge brought to you by The Letter "Y"


Hello! And welcome to the 2016 A-Z CHALLENGE!!

* confetti *

This year, I’m blogging my way through a botanical alphabet

I hope you enjoy your time here and by all means, 
come back tomorrow and see what plant I’m highlighting next! Cheers!!

***

YUCCA
(yucca baccata)
aka: Spanish Dagger, Soapweed, Soaptree

(photo found HERE)

Yucca is native to Mexico and the South West United States. It can grow in other places too; I grew up with two HUGE Yucca plants in my front yard and I'm from Georgia. Still, it is well known in Native American and Mexican folk medicine as an anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic herb.

Native tribes used Yucca for everything from making clothes to medicine. It is truly and all-purpose plant. The root is high in natural saponins which, when chopped up in water, causes it to lather. It is an effective soap substitute and was used by native tribes for cleaning clothes.

The root is a nice potato substitute and can be found in most grocery store produce departments. It's starchy and a bit sweet. Next time you go to a potluck, grab a Yucca root! It's sure to cause a sensation! Just don't grab those huge spear-like leaves. That will cause an entirely different sensation, one you do NOT want to experience! Remember I said I grew up with them in my yard. I ran into them a couple of times. Youch!

***

All research references can be found in my Library of Botanical Miscellany

Disclaimer
These posts are in NO WAY medical suggestions. They are intended for informational purposes only.
If you are interested in pursuing natural, herbal remedies, get thee to a reputable herb shop (preferably one that is locally and independently owned and operated) and get educated!

Disclaimer II
It’s ridiculous that anyone writing about herbal and traditional remedies should have to put a disclaimer at the end of anything. 
Use your brain and think for yourself! Just as you shouldn't take a pharmaceutical at face value, 
do your herbal research and learn about the amazing plants around us.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The 2016 A-Z Challenge brought to you by The Letter "X"


Hello! And welcome to the 2016 A-Z CHALLENGE!!

* confetti *

This year, I’m blogging my way through a botanical alphabet

I hope you enjoy your time here and by all means, 
come back tomorrow and see what plant I’m highlighting next! Cheers!!

***

XUE JIE
(dragon's blood resin)

(photo found at www.botanical.com)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) states that Xue Jie or Dragon's Blood has sweet, salty, and neutral properties. Sounds like the perfect temperament for a dragon to me! It is associated with the heart and liver and used in many TCM formulas geared towards those systems. The resin comes from the Sangre de Drago tree, an Amazonian rainforest tree that emits a blood-like sap when cut. This resin is known throughout South America for its healing properties and has slowly made its way into TCM.

Typically Dragon's Blood is used to treat superficial skin issues such as cuts, scrapes, abrasions, insect bites, and ulcers. When applied to the skin it creates a protective barrier or second skin that keeps out harmful impurities that could hinder the healing of the wound.

TCM is a complicated and fascinating branch of herbal study and one that is definitely worth digging into if you're interested in holistic healing. I owe it a large debt of gratitude for past and present supplements, Acupuncture treatments, and helping me fill my "X" and "Z" slots for this challenge :D

***

All research references can be found in my Library of Botanical Miscellany

Disclaimer
These posts are in NO WAY medical suggestions. They are intended for informational purposes only.
If you are interested in pursuing natural, herbal remedies, get thee to a reputable herb shop (preferably one that is locally and independently owned and operated) and get educated!

Disclaimer II
It’s ridiculous that anyone writing about herbal and traditional remedies should have to put a disclaimer at the end of anything. 
Use your brain and think for yourself! Just as you shouldn't take a pharmaceutical at face value, 
do your herbal research and learn about the amazing plants around us.