So how is your Goodreads Reading Challenge going so far this year? I am one book behind schedule unfortunately. So I am determined to catch up this week.
My book order came in so I added three more books to my TBR pile. Excited to read them all. It will be interesting to read Tom Hanks – the author! And of course The Heirloom and Maybe in Another Life are reincarnation stories – my favorite.
Of course it will be hard to leave the world of this beautifully written book. You will have to wait for my review.
Talking of book reviews have you managed to read every book you have read this year?
Editing of my steampunk novel, the Commodore’s Gift did stall for a while but after some great feedback on a particular fight scene, I am back on track. As with most people lock-down tends to be a dreadful de-motivator. The virtual writing group I belong to helps with the motivation for sure.
Excerpt: this is the fight scene – feedback is welcome (constructive critique)
They picked up sticks and began circling each other. Owena watched her brother’s movements and eye direction as Galen had taught her and thrust forward. The stick found its mark on Benjamin’s bicep. He looked surprised. Thrust at her successfully landing a tap on her thigh. His arm swung around for another thrust but Owena anticipated his move. She dodged to the left. Swinging around she managed to get behind Benjamin. He shifted his stance in a quick turn to face her, his stick held high. She blocked its downward movement. She held her stick in both hands above her head. Using his momentum, she twisted their sticks to one side towards the ground. Then quickly drew hers upward to his neck. Benjamin pulled back. He brought his stick up to counter attack. Owena twisted around him, taking hold of the other end of her stick to clasp it to his neck from behind. He gasped and tried to turn but she pulled tighter making him cry out. Sensing his surrender she stood back, poised to attack again. She drew in several quick deep breathes. Benjamin looked at her wide-eyed and slowly shook his head.
In other news, I did get some lovely plants for my deck, including a chive plant from a friend, several herbs and a couple of tomato plants. This cheered me up a lot. I can now start to think about the front planters. Alberta has experienced a ‘late’ spring!
Update: As I write this on Sunday 10th May it is SNOWING!!!!! WHY!
I was also treated for Mother’s Day to a lovely self care package. So it will be foot and face masks, a glass of wine and enjoying the aroma of fresh flowers this week.
Tizzy – definition: a very excited and mixed-up state of mind.
I can hear my grandmother saying this to me from a very young age. It brings back memories so sharply of visits to my grandparents bungalow in England. The rooms had a mothball scent as did my grandparents although my grandmother’s lily of the valley perfume nearly overwhelmed it. Afternoon naps, or ’40 winks’ as my grandfather called them, spent dozing on his lap in the front room in his wing-backed chair. Tea and biscuits ready when we woke up and a slight rash on my soft cheek where his stubble had brushed it. The kitchen backed onto the rear garden, which was sectioned into flower beds on one side and the vegetable patch on the other. I loved to pick fresh pea pods for supper with my grandmother, although I popped most of my harvest so I could eat the sweetest little peas. I enjoyed this garden so much, running around with my younger brothers and sister playing make believe. A real treat was going into my grandfather’s shed, which was always locked. It had the rich scent of sawdust and potting compost.
The scent of sweet-peas and lily of the valley are forever reminders of my grandmother. Both plants were in her garden, the lily’s delicate blooms I imagined as fairy hats and the glorious colors of the sweet-peas grew through the vegetable patch to brighten it up. I learned later that the sweet-peas attracted bees and ladybirds, which helped pollination and to keep the pests down.
When I was older I realized that my mother’s love of gardening came from her parents. She is the ultimate green thumbed person, making even dry sticks grow! Gardening was her escape from four noisy children, a way to save costs with mountains of vegetables and a passion to grow everything from seed. Alas I am nowhere near as great with gardening, although I can keep indoor plants alive and will ‘potter’ around the flowerbeds quite happily on a warm summer morning.
When my siblings and I got too noisy, my grandmother would shout out ‘That’s enough, you are all in a tizzy, come and sit with a nice glass of milk.’ Or if one of us was the ‘odd’ one out of a game and was throwing a tantrum – “There now, no need to get in a tizzy, come and help me.” Helping grandmother entailed rolling out pieces of surplus pastry and cutting them into shapes. She would bake them and then we could nibble on them or crush them up for the birds. Or if we were at the local playground she would take the upset child and put them onto another piece of play equipment away from the rest.
This photo shows a very similar cupboard to my grandmother’s where we would roll the pastry.
Years later my grandparents came to live with us and we got used to that word all over again in our home. Getting into a tizzy was considered a bad thing and something we had to get over and be quick about it. Different standards for raising children I suppose. There was little pandering going on, I can tell you.
Kiln – definition: a furnace or oven for burning, baking, or drying, especially for calcining lime or firing pottery.
Today’s word reminded me of a quaint pub I used to frequent while living in England. It was called the Pot Kiln and actually had a large kiln inside the main building. As this was some years ago I’m sure the owners have changed several times and the interior redecorated. As you can see from the photographs it is nestled within lush woodland with open fields to the front. Perfect as the resting place after a summer’s walk or in my case motorcycle ride.
English: The Pot Kiln, Frilsham Still just about one of life’s ideal country pubs. A traditional bar with a stone floor and a decent pint and good grub. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In our writing, places we have lived or visited can play a large part. Describing an English pub to someone, who has never been to one is not only a great ‘descriptive’ exercise but also enables us to see something, we may find common place, with new eyes. Details come alive when we use our personal experiences. For example I can describe a woodland with a carpet of bluebells as a lilac blue heaven of bobbing heads on pale stems. The dappled light caressing the blooms. However, the difficult part comes when trying to put into words the scent of the flowered woodland. It is a delicate fragrance, but the sheer numbers of blooms makes it quite heady. This scent is mixed with the earthy undertones of the mossy earth and when you pick bluebells (no longer allowed!) the long thin stem has a slight slippery texture and an almost non-existent root. Remember that the richer the detail the more absorbed our reader will become. If we can ‘transport’ them to other lands or bring new perspectives to known ones, we have done our job.
Perennial 1) present at all seasons of the year 2) continuing to live from year to year 3) recurring regularly: permanent
I have inherited some of my Mother’s expertise when it comes to plants but in no way, shape or form, am I, as green thumbed as she is. From a handful of seeds she can nurture a whole garden of flowers, vegetables and shrubs, which are healthy, vibrant and productive. My gardening is limited to digging a hole, placing the victim, umm plant, into it with a generous helping of plant food, watering for several days and then letting nature take its course. As for in-door plants I do tend to have them growing happily for many years – so I must be doing something right. Case in point, a friend gave me a sleigh shaped planter three Christmas’ ago and it’s still lush and green. Real plants are a treasure in the dark winter months, just their aroma can transport you to summer warmth. We all know the benefits of having real plants in the house – oxygenating – but they are so much more. As you can see from this list from http://www.bayeradvanced.com
5 Benefits of Houseplants
When you embellish interior spaces with houseplants, you’re not just adding greenery. These living organisms interact with your body, mind and home in ways that enhance the quality of life.
When you breathe, your body takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. During photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. This opposite pattern of gas use makes plants and people natural partners. Adding plants to interior spaces can increase oxygen levels.
At night, photosynthesis ceases, and plants typically respire like humans, absorbing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. A few plants – orchids, succulents and epiphytic bromeliads – do just the opposite, taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Place these plants in bedrooms to refresh air during the night.
As part of the photosynthetic and respiratory processes, plants release moisture vapor, which increases humidity of the air around them. Plants release roughly 97 percent of the water they take in. Place several plants together, and you can increase the humidity of a room, which helps keeps respiratory distresses at bay. Studies at the Agricultural University of Norway document that using plants in interior spaces decreases the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs.
Plants remove toxins from air – up to 87 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every 24 hours, according to NASA research. VOCs include substances like formaldehyde (present in rugs, vinyl, cigarette smoke and grocery bags), benzene and trichloroethylene (both found in man-made fibers, inks, solvents and paint). Benzene is commonly found in high concentrations in study settings, where books and printed papers abound.
Modern climate-controlled, air-tight buildings trap VOCs inside. The NASA research discovered that plants purify that trapped air by pulling contaminants into soil, where root zone microorganisms convert VOCs into food for the plant.
Adding plants to hospital rooms speeds recovery rates of surgical patients, according to researchers at Kansas State University. Compared to patients in rooms without plants, patients in rooms with plants request less pain medication, have lower heart rates and blood pressure, experience less fatigue and anxiety, and are released from the hospital sooner.
The Dutch Product Board for Horticulture commissioned a workplace study that discovered that adding plants to office settings decreases fatigue, colds, headaches, coughs, sore throats and flu-like symptoms. In another study by the Agricultural University of Norway, sickness rates fell by more than 60 percent in offices with plants.
A study at The Royal College of Agriculture in Circencester, England, found that students demonstrate 70 percent greater attentiveness when they’re taught in rooms containing plants. In the same study, attendance was also higher for lectures given in classrooms with plants.
How Many Plants?
The recommendations vary based on your goals.
To improve health and reduce fatigue and stress, place one large plant (8-inch diameter pot or larger) every 129 square feet. In office or classroom settings, position plants so each person has greenery in view.
To purify air, use 15 to 18 plants in 6- to 8-inch diameter pots for an 1,800-square-foot house. That’s roughly one larger plant every 100 square feet. Achieve similar results with two smaller plants (4- to 5-inch pots).
How is your green thumb? Any tips for a lackadaisical gardener?
When I read the definition for perennial, I was struck by how my writing and the love of words stays with me no matter the season or my location. Even on my Palm Springs vacation, you could find me typing away in the early morning before our various excursions and then again in the evening, recapping our day. It is an addiction to write – wanting those words to flow onto the paper or computer screen and flourishing.
As each year passes, I find new styles, genres and skills are added to my repertoire, each a new stem, branch or flower to the fundamental root system of my passion for the written word. Every segment has a part to play and makes a wonderfully intriguing and enticing whole. Some work may bud and flower quickly, then fall to the way side, others will form into significant pieces and grow strong and robust.
As I was searching for some nice photos for this article I happened upon an interesting Wikipedia site, detailing The Perennial Philosophy. I must admit I had no idea of this research and so detoured for a read. One quotation struck me:
“If one is not oneself a sage or saint, the best thing one can do, in the field of metaphysics, is to study the works of those who were, and who, because they had modified their merely human mode of being, were capable of a more than merely human kind and amount of knowledge.”
My interpretation on this philosophy is, we all have the ability to modify ourselves and grow beyond our self imposed expectations and capabilities. We can develop into a many faceted and established writer, with or without the publishing contract. After all we can survive and flourish without the plant food but if given it we are able to bloom.