That Time of Year

Late June and July have historically been dry times for me creatively. It starts slowly. Word counts decrease as distractions creep in. We always have friends come to visit around the 4th of July, and it takes a fair amount of prep to get ready for them. Then there are garden chores, weeds to pull, grass to cut. There are Scottish festivals we attend to represent Clan Campbell. Let’s not forget the Bristol Ren Faire–we have to do that a few times in the short summer months. It’s hard to think past the activity and prep work long enough to concentrate on whatever book I’m working on.

I actually didn’t put it together until yesterday. I was stomping around, irritated because the trash hadn’t taken itself out. I felt generally put out and started thinking about what I need to do to get ready for our friends, and resentment started to creep in. That was the moment I realized I was cranky because I haven’t been getting words like I want to. I’ve been in and out of the garret for a couple weeks, and it’s starting to wear on me, but it seems futile to try to get back into the rhythm when I’m going to have someone sleeping in my office soon.

I’m not sure about the solution, but I know there needs to be one. In the future, I need to try to finish the draft du jour by mid-June so I can pick up after the summer dry spell with a fresh project. I might also need to find another creative outlet for a little while. The best part is guilt about not getting any writing done is conspicuously missing. Well, okay, not entirely. It bugs me a little, but I’m not beating myself up over it. I’m not going to meet my word count goal. There might not be a month-end report this month.

The world will still turn.



I don’t know about your part of the world, but Chicago has been unseasonably warm this winter. Strangely warm, like we’ve had to shovel twice. It’s so warm plants are starting to wake up.

So are gardeners.

To be fair, we usually wake up around this time. Usually, for me at least, it’s with a pang of panic that I haven’t started seeds yet. Then I realize I’m further north than I used to be, and I don’t really have to start them until early March. It is time, though, to start gathering supplies and think about how I’m going to lay out the garden this year. I had a lot crammed into a small space last year. I think this year I’m going to expand into pots. It will give us some breathing room, and if I do some tomatoes in pots, I can bring them inside in the fall and maybe extend the growing season. I’ll be able to devote garden space to other things, too. Maybe some squash.

My time in the city has made me wish we could get out into the country to start a homestead. The reality is the job is here. It’s a really good job.

I’ve realized in the last week or two I don’t have to wait to start homesteading. I can’t raise animals here. I don’t know if I want to raise animals at all. I don’t see myself being able to raise them and not get attached to them. I can, however, grow and preserve more of our food. Rain barrels are encouraged in our neighborhood, and I have space to compost. I can cook from scratch more, and get creative enough in the kitchen to work around having run out of something. I don’t need acres of land to become moreĀ self-sufficient. It’s probably good it’s worked out like this. If I had acres of land right now, I’d try to do too much. Baby steps are good.

Garden Make-over

We’ve been so busy lately that my garden has been neglected. I went out this morning to check on things and pull some weeds and discovered that my tomato plants are gone. All of them. Something–probably the vole that lives in our yard–ate them all, even the self-seeding cherry tomatoes. That leaves weeds and feverfew in my raised bed. The wood we built the bed with is disintegrating, so we had planned to replace it with cinder blocks this year. Since my critter discouraging techniques have failed, I’ll go back to pots. That will work out better anyway. I can put them next to the house and stick a trellis in each one, and if we get high wind during a storm (usually 2-3 times a summer), I can turn them so they won’t blow over. So now I have this golden opportunity to re-do part of my back yard. I have some large pots to get started with. For right now, they’ll be dirt holders. I’ll plant some late crops once I get the pots squared away and the raised bed dismantled.

I’m just pretty annoyed that I won’t have tomatoes to can this year. Any thoughts on late crops? I’m thinking brussels sprouts, spinach, maybe some lettuce, but I’d like to try something new. Anyone growing fun stuff?