Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Of Frustration, Trimming, and Weeds


Let me begin by updating y’all on my post-surgery situation. Two weeks after I went under the laparoscopic knife, I’m back in action. Besides, my veggies are starting to hunt for white flags, so I’ve gotta get moving on the weed front.

We had storms Tuesday night that knocked down the potato plants and toppled a few of the tomatoes in their cages. I went out on Wednesday after work to assess the damage. Yep, me and squadrons of blood-suckers. Argh. No wind along with the tropical heat and humidity were perfect picnic conditions for those nasty little vampires. I hate mosquitoes. Really hate them. I do, however, love dragonflies, so I suppose we can’t get rid of all the mosquitoes, because then what would the dragons eat?

Managed to get the tomatoes upright and trimmed. Yes, trimmed. They get unruly if left to their own devices. Remember, they are vines, so I figure I can hack away. It’s not like they’re gonna die or anything. Got a few green tomatoes so far, but it’ll be a while before I can pick them.

Boy, neglecting the garden for a couple weeks gives the weeds a free pass. Sheesh. The pigweed is a foot tall, and the cheeseweed and crabgrass are racing to see who can set seed first. The shaggy soldier is everywhere, but it pulls the easiest, along with the velvetleaf. Even found a shoot of Virginia creeper trying to sneak in. Stinging nettle is always fun to find–not. And quackgrass and dandelions are belligerent staples. Nutsedge is trying to get a foothold, but I’m on to it.

Ugh. I reserve the right to avenge my veggies. I’ve got purslane everywhere, and after two weeks, it’s carpeting the garden. It’s low-growing, so I don’t attack it until I’ve got the taller stuff under control. Heh, I’ve got just the thing. The stuff is edible (as are most of my weeds, including the crabgrass, I discovered), and quite tasty. Kinda tastes like asparagus (thought I was going to say chicken, didn’t ya?)  Since my spinach didn’t come up this year after seeding a few times (except for two spindly plants), and my kale is still MIA after seeding at least 3 times, I figure I might as well substitute a weed. I’m waiting for the lamb’s quarters (another weed) to get big enough to bother harvesting (used like spinach until spinach became prevalent). I’m itchin’ for fresh veggies, and my zucchini is not quite ready for the first harvest.

So, purslane it is.


Nip the stems, leaves and all. Grab a couple handfuls. Wash well, saute in butter, add a dash or two of garlic salt (i.e., prep just like spinach or kale). Voila! It’s super-nutritious, too. Less furry than nettle, and not bitter like dandelion can be. (Nettle, by the way, isn’t bad, if you can get past the fuzzy.)

Word of warning: if someone is spraying weedkiller, for heaven’s sake, don’t eat the weeds. I don’t use any weedkiller unless it’s unavoidable (Virginia creeper and creeping Charlie come to mind, though I just found out creeping Charlie is edible). I know my purslane is “organic”. Same goes if a pet might be peeing on it. (I know, I shouldn’t have to say, but common sense seems to be less and less prevalent these days.)

Kids are home, which adds that dynamic back into the mix. I did manage to spend a couple hours on my WIP, trimming and tightening. I need to cut almost 10k words, so I’m looking for scenes to whack. So where’s the frustration, you ask? Well, trying to choose scenes to cut, for one.

Ever get to the point on a project where you’re so flipping tired of it? As in, just burn the damn thing. Not me, at least not with my WIP. My contemporary fantasy novel, however, is warming a dark corner of a drawer for now. One of my writing sisters is at that point with her project. I get it. Boy, do I ever.

So what do you do? Pout? Scream? Swear off writing? No. Start something different. Like, completely different. Your YA science fiction novel getting you down? Try a cozy mystery. Historical romance? Try an urban fantasy, vampires optional. Work on a short story, or series of shorts, if your novel is making you crazy. If shorts are your pain point, try something longer. Try poetry. Try a memoir.

Don’t. Stop. Writing. If you are a writer, you can’t. Find something new to work on. Start outlining that coming-of-age-in-Edwardian-England book inspired by (fill in name of British drama here).

And add some purslane to your menu.

Oh, for those tracking the orphans, we’ve still got them, but I did put an ad in the local paper this week. And I’ll save you the torture of a picture this time. 🙂




Author: Julie Holmes, author

Pen names: J. M. Holmes, J. M. Goebel A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I've been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. In real life, I am a technical writer with a family of two teens, a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, two chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

12 thoughts on “Of Frustration, Trimming, and Weeds

  1. I’m writing, but can’t find time for gardening. I’ve hired someone to look after the front and back so the invasives don’t carry us away down here in Florida, but it’s not the same as putting your own soul into the labor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s too bad. The older I get, the more often I consider skipping the garden for the year. But I love fresh tomatoes. And cucumbers. And zucchini. And sweet corn. And onions and potatoes. And the satisfaction of going straight from garden to stove to plate.

      I get the invasives! And you in FL just have that much more time of the year for the nasties to expand. They don’t do so well in our 6 months of winter here 🙂

      The garden takes time from my writing, but it’s only for about 3-4 months, maybe five months if we have a mild year. Still, it’s time. Keep writing, S!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad you’re feeling better, Julie. Thanks for the reminder on eating weeds. I used to forage a lot when I lived in New England and haven’t as much since I moved west (and started writing). I’m working on a post about “When to stop editing” (or something like that) and a sure-fire sign is when you hate your book! Ha ha. I’ve been there…recently. Putting it aside for a while is a great idea…except for those pesky deadlines. I’m not surprised the “orphans” are still around – we’ll see if they’re still around next week 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, man, I know the whole “hate your book” feeling. It’s the worst when it’s your current WIP. Yep, those deadlines always seem to throw a wrench in the “set it aside for a while” plan 🙂

      I haven’t eaten weeds for a few years, since my spinach and kale actually grew! I’m hankering for fresh veggies, and they fit the bill. I’m tired of broccoli and cauliflower, so the purslane is a nice change.

      Oh, I hope we can find a new home for the orphans this weekend. They really need a place all their own (and our adult cats need their house back 😉 )

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Looking at photos of the orphans is never torture! I hope someone answers the ad.

    I am such an amateur when it comes to the gardening thing. WE planted tomatoes (so easy) and the grape ones have started to come in. Love them! I’ve got some larger green ones but they’ll be a while ripening.

    I read all those weed names with awe…I never knew there was such a variety! Pesky things, I’m sure but they have intriguing sounding names. And I’m with you on the mosquito and dragon flies. I love when the latter buzz around the pool.

    Regarding cutting your WIP. I remember the first book I ever pubbed started at 127K. I whittled it down to 115K, thinking I could submit it, but was told it had to be under 100K. I went back and lobbed off some more and got it down to 98K before submitting. It was hard to do but it actually made the book better. Step away for a while, then go back in with the pruning shears on the keyboard. Think of it like gardening and thinning out the weeds 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! The kittens are cute. But, the adult cats are really not happy they’re still here. If no one adopts them this week, they’ve got to go to the Humane Society. One of our adult cats has taken to marking her territory, or maybe just letting us know she’s pissed. Soiled almost a whole load of clean socks and undies. Sigh.

      I did grape tomatoes last year–yummy! This year, I thought about planting them, but once I got the (smaller) garden in, I didn’t leave a spot for one, so none this year. I don’t plant cherry tomatoes because I’m the only one who eats them, but the grape tomatoes were less prolific, and very good.

      Heh. Weeds. I’ve got a thing about learning the names, and the ones I listed aren’t even all of them. They are kinda cool names, thought. We also have motherwort, burdock, blue lettuce, wild roses, and false Solomon’s seal, but not in the garden, thank goodness! One neat one is chickweed, and wouldn’t you know it, the chickens love it!

      98K? Whew. That means I only need to whack 6k 🙂 I know I need to winnow out the chaff, and this is a good excuse to do so. Already found some spots that made me shake my head and wonder how I missed it the first half-dozen times!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Noooo…no, cute kitten photos!!! Oh well, just as well I wean myself off them…I was becoming far too attached. Good luck and hope they find a new home soon. Your post had been a real education on weeds. You seriously eat them. The names are great, purslane! I think I have that in my garden but don’t know if I’d dare cook and eat it. Thanks for the tip on trimming the tomato vines -ours are looking rather unruly so secateurs here I come. Finally Julie, love your suggestions to alternative writing projects…best of luck with the chopping of words on your WIP!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! The twin terrors, more like. I’ve considered taking video of them and posting on FB or YouTube, but meh. There’s an animal shelter fairly close by, so if no one adopts them this week, I’ll bring them there. Our adult cats are not happy, and one has taken to marking her territory. Not good.

      Yep, seriously eat them. I found some lamb’s quarters yesterday, so cooked that up with my purslane. It actually does taste a lot like spinach. The pigweed is in the amaranth family, so theoretically I could eat that too, but I find much more satisfaction in pulling it 🙂 As long as you know no one’s spraying it, it’s safe to eat. The purslane has fleshy stems that get tender when cooked. I pick the last 3 inches or so of the stems.

      Happy writing weekend, Annika!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We have purslane growing everywhere too. Who knew it was edible? Well, you did, of course!

    Liked by 1 person

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