Sunday, January 27, 2013

Growing from a wannabe writer to a professional

When I was more a "wannabe" than a "writer" I liked to write short articles for magazines.  I still had children at home and I could find enough time to write them.  I'd taken a Creative Writing class and had learned a lot about selling.  I think my problem was targeting my audiences and writing, not for myself, but for other people.  If they didn't like what I wrote, I didn't sell.


One of my targets for these articles was a magazine for Lutheran women called Scope.  I read the magazine regularly and had a thorough grounding in being a Lutheran so I thought it would be a cinch.  It wasn't.

My pile of rejections was growing.  I had learned that it was important to keep trying.  I could quote (at the time) how many rejections the author of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" had endured before finally finding a publisher for his hit book.  Rejections are learning tools and I carefully scoured each one:  at first for signs that someone had truly read it, and later for the tiny comments a sympathetic editor had given me.

Imagine my delight when I received a LETTER from the editor for Scope. Well, that was the first reaction.  The second was puzzlement.  She wrote that she liked the first part of my article but not the second.  She wanted my permission to edit out the material she didn't want.  Writing class had never covered that.  What was I to do?  How could I meet her request not as a hopeful writer, but as a professional.

I gave it some thought.  It was clear that she wanted to buy the first half.  I looked at my text.  Yes, it seemed to be in two parts, but I strongly felt that they worked together.  But. . . . the editor only wanted the first half.

I could just say "Yes, Do it." or I could pretend (that's how I felt) to be a professional and give her what she wanted - only better.  Carefully preserving the original (apparently two piece article) I retyped just the first part, giving it what I hoped was a smooth beginning and ending that fit the part I KNEW the editor wanted.

I sent the new version to her the next day.  That was followed by a nice letter with a check attached to it.  I was jubilant.

I'd learned a lesson - to trust the editor when she critiques your work.  She knows what she wants for her magazine.  I learned that a professional acts like one.  Sure, you want blue instead of green?  I can do that.



Perhaps the most amusing part of this story is that in the following days I also re-wrote the second half of that article.  I sent it to a different magazine and was delighted to receive a check in return.  I got twice as much for taking an editor's advice and splitting the article.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Special Tiny Homes


I've been reading Tiny Homes by Lloyd Kahn.*    For quite a while I've been interested in the concept of small homes.  I've lived in a few of those.  Now here is a book about really small homes - even tiny homes.

It comes to this:  how much shelter does a person really need? Well, personally I love a large comfy home, but the idea of living in just enough room is fascinating.

In his book Kahn gives us a look at nineteen Tiny Homes all over the country:  snow country included.  The homes are shown with lots of photographs so you can really see what it's like.

If you live in a Tiny Home, how do you live your life?  Very well, though most of them seem to be outside a lot.   They have different reasons for wanting to live here.  The houses are cozy, but not cluttered (for the most part).  They provide shelter, a place to cook, and usually a place to read, though I see some computer and TV setups in many of the Tiny Homes.

One particularly clever arrangement has a TV/Computer hung on the wall.  Underneath is a small table that folds back against the wall when it's not needed.

Sorry, I can't provide a photo for you, but check out the websites. 

I recommend that you check out Lloyd's web siteShelter Pubs or check it out on amazon.com

Happy reading. 
Marilynne

___________________
* Shelter Publications
PO Box 279
Bolinas, CA 94924

Lloyd's web site:
http://www.LloydKahn.com

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A bit more about the garden

I had the camera out in the yard today, looking to see what was interesting.  (Looking for something to blog about.)  I have three trees in bloom that are interesting.

The Loquat in the front is in bloom.
I planted a Loquat in the front yard to replace some trees I had cut down.  Our neighbor has one that hangs over our back fence.  It's a tropical sort of plant, exotic looking, I think.  Well, we had some bad weather and the Loquat tree broke off at the graft.  There's nothing an amateur gardener can do about that.  I thought it had died, but one day a tree came up from the roots of the graft.  I'm an experimenter in the gardener.  I gave it regular watering and it began to grow bush-like from the root.

This spring I was rewarded with flowers, which may or may not give fruit, and these beautiful red new leaves.  It's quite a sight in my front yard.  It's still small but I have high hopes for it now.

My neighbors Loquat tree hangs over into our yard and so I feel free to harvest the fruit from it.  I often pick a fruit or two and walk across the yard eating.  It has large seeds in the middle.  Apparently I spit some out by the back porch because a Loquat tree began to grow there.  So I took care of it.  It's too close to the house, so I keep it trimmed so it doesn't touch the house or intrude on the walk.  This tree is much more mature than the one in front (and not as pretty).  This year it's put on fruits.

Doesn't the fruit look yummy?
They're not quite ripe and I look forward to tasting them.  They have a tropical taste, sweet, peachy or maybe a bit of almond.  You need to taste one to understand.  I'm definitely going to taste these in a week or so.

WHOAH!  Since one tree is in the front yard and one is in the back yard, I haven't compared them closely before.  Looking at the pictures here in the blog, I am wondering if something else has come up from the root.  I know that nurseries often graft fruit trees on to strong root stock of the same plant family.  I may have a mystery plant growing out front.  I won't know for sure until it puts on fruit.

In the front yard is another tree growing from root stock.  We planted an avocado tree there, but again, it was weak at the graft and broke off in a storm.  This tree is about 10-ft. tall now and is in bloom as well.  It has never had fruit, but it needs time to mature and some avocados need a partner in order to create fruit.  Here's the avocado tree and its blooms.

Avocado tree in bloom.
Of course I've seen avocados, but I've never seen one in bloom before.  This tree has never grown fruit.  Here's another look so you can see the new red leaves that come from the blossom.

The new leaves branch up from the flower.
I don't have to go further than my yard to find nature's wonders.  How's your yard.  Are there surprises there?

Marilynne


Thursday, December 29, 2011

A few photos from a winter day

Let me share some photos of my day.

What is he digging for?  Does it matter?

Oceanside Harbor

Walking on the beach

A pelican waits for the fishermen to return
Fog chased us home

Happy New Year.

Marilynne

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Frost ends the outside garden

The summer garden has caved to several nights of near-freezing temperatures.  Here are the last veggies.

A few young zucchini and some radishes
After I took the picture, I cut the ends from the zucchini and radishes and ate them.  Raw.  Roy sliced a few zucchini from the refrigerator and put them in a jar of pickle juice to see if they will be tasty.  He was getting creative because he had already tried it with hard boiled eggs.  His only comment on the eggs?  "They're rubbery."

This is our first season with the greenhouse so we're watching to see what works and what doesn't.  Roy does have to close the greenhouse door every night and open it again every day.  The lowest temperature was 4xx degrees (I forget what he told me it was).  It gets plenty warm during the day.

The lettuces are coming up.  The tomato plants are not liking the cool evenings.  We'll just have to try it and see.

Marilynne

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Winter Garden and Greenhouse

We have a winter garden outside the greenhouse, and a garden inside the greenhouse now.  First, let's look at the outside garden.  Our weather has been sunny and warm with a little rain.  Let's see how the garden is faring.


The winter garden from the porch.
The zucchini is still producing, but the okra is just
running out of the heat it likes.
The Okra is trying, but the pods are tiny and tough.
It was just an experiment to see if it could put on fruit.
Rabbits like the peas too so we have a plastic
rabbit fence.  Just off center is a blossom.
We're going to have winter peas!
Tomatoes are a wonderful crop to grow.  These were
planted late summer or early fall and they're producing.
Inside the greenhouse, tomatoes started outside
are loving the heat of the greenhouse now.
These tomatoes were just babies when Roy planted
them here.  In the row in front of them, he's
planted mixed lettuces.  Maybe the bugs won't find them.
The sun has moved to the left now.  It's between 80 deg
and 100 deg inside so Roy has to open the vents and
the door every day and close them at night.

We had strong winds the last few days and they blew out a bottom panel of the greenhouse.  Fortunately since Roy built the greenhouse, he also knows how to fix it.

Roy's hoping for a greenhouse tomato before New Years.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Marilynne

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Roy's Greenhouse takes shape inside

Roy's greenhouse was neglected while Roy took care of his summer garden.  Believe it or not, but Roy froze 20 ears of corn from his garden YESTERDAY, Nov, 5.  Amazing isn't it? That's what comes from a warm fall in southern California.

Now the weather has turned to fall.  We've had a few days of rain and it's getting colder and colder at night.

Roy started some tomatoes on the rail of the porch and now he's put them in the greenhouse to shield them from the cold nights.

These tomatoes were started in the sunshine
on the porch.

Roy has begun to make planting beds inside the greenhouse.  He found some 10 ft x 4 ft x 18 inch redwood planter boxes on sale.  They were already put together and given a coat of stain.   Roy bought one and had them put it in the bed of the pickup.  It took up more room in the pickup than the unassembled greenhouse did.

I tried to talk Roy into hiring them to deliver it and put it in the greenhouse, but up until now he's only had help one day - the day they put the roof on.

The first box is in place.  There is no bottom so the plants can
grow as deeply as they want.  However, it's going
to take a lot of planting soil and amendments
to fill up that huge box.
Roy needs so much soil for the box that he's running around town looking to see who's selling it cheaply.  Meanwhile, the tomatoes need to be inside, so they sit on the edge of the planting box.  It's been in the low 60s at night and tomatoes like it warmer than that.  It was 80 degrees in the greenhouse this afternoon.  I think the tomatoes are liking their new home.

Very little stands between the young tomatoes
and the sunshine.
Of course, it wasn't sunny today, it was raining.  I like the look of the rain on the walls of the greenhouse and the way it distorts the sun's reflection.

This is the outside when the sun came out
for a moment.  The rain is sparkly.

Time for one more photo.

This is inside looking out.  The white arc is the sunshine.

More later.  Marilynne