Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Hello, Summer

15 Comments

Last weekend was Memorial Day in the U.S., the unofficial kickoff to summer and all the vacations, hot weather, outdoor recreation, garden distractions, and bugs that go with it.

You heard that right, I said bugs. As in ticks, mosquitoes, flies, gnats, and every other six- or eight-legged creepazoid that likes to be a pest (yes, I know the eight-legged varieties are technically not bugs, but they bug me. You know, ticks. Spiders are okay as long as they stay outside where they belong.) They are probably my least favorite part of summer.

Good insects, like bees and butterflies, I’m okay with because they are pretty, have an important job (pollination), and they don’t bug me (except for the sulfurs and their white counterparts, because they are responsible for the cabbage loopers and cabbage worms that munch on my Brussels sprouts and kale).

Ugh. Can’t do anything about bugs except encourage bats and birds to eat as much as they can. Oh, and can’t forget the predatory bugs, like dragonflies. They. Are. Awesome. Mostly because they have “dragon” in their name, but also because they eat mosquitoes from birth to death. And they’re pretty. And “dragon” πŸ˜€

red-dragonfly-1364459 Anyway, I thought, since, you know, summer, I’d post an update on my usual summer stuff. I know, boring, right? Well, iffin ya don’t like it, trust I’ll be back to my regularly-scheduled writing stuff next week (and I won’t mention the Muse standing behind me, bullwhip in hand and Indiana Jones fedora on his head. Nope, I won’t.).

I managed to get my garden in a few weekends ago, before I took my writing retreats to my dad’s house. Incidentally, my retreat last weekend, when I was going to go all in on the second draft of my WIP, was cut short due to Dad’s return much sooner than he had last year. Sooo, I lost two days of writing in peace, but I got to hear about his trip, which wasn’t as enjoyable as in past years due, I think, to the timing. More people around this time, so their Alaskan adventure was more crowded than they liked.

Anyway, back to gardening. Here’s a shot of it (look now, because I’ve got the weeds under control so far πŸ™‚ ):

garden1

Living out in the country is great, until natural pests start hitting all your hard work. Notice the terra cotta-colored pots–those are my Brussels sprouts, the second planting, because some effing pest chewed the first ones off. Grrr. So far, these are doing fine.

So, the little buggers decided to take out their frustrations on my pepper plants. I replanted them, and they lasted maybe a week before something chewed them off again. So, I got new plants again, but I’m going to have to put a secondary fence around them. Thank goodness the varmints (chipmunks, I suspect) don’t appear to like potatoes or onions. We’re going to put some live traps in the garden to figure out if I’m right. I suspect chipmunks, but we also have rabbits and squirrels.

And dogs. Not that they mind; they must play poker with the rabbits. Neither dog (granted, one is three-legged and can hardly chase them) seems to have any desire to chase them. I’ve got farm cats (you know, good mousers) on my wish list!

Remember my pics of asparagus? I stopped picking it when we got a couple hot days, and now the asparagus is on its way to ferning out. Here’s where it’s at:

asparagus 1 It’s branching out, and should be fully “ferned” out soon. I say “ferning” because when it’s mature, it looks feathery, like a fern. If you look, you can see an aparagus spear on the right side to compare.

And what’s summer without flowers? The lilac is long done blooming, and although I did take pics of my dad’s irises, I don’t have any at our place (though now that I think about it, I should).

The woods around our place smell wonderful this time of year because of the dame’s rocket that grows wild everywhere. It looks like wild flox, but I looked it up; I think the number of petals on the flowers is different. But they smell sooo good, like a cross between lilacs and petunias:

dames rocket1

And a close-up:
dames rocket2 And you’ve guessed it, I’m distracted by things other than writing. I’m behind on reading blogs, so don’t worry, I’m trying to catch up. I’ve got graduations to attend now that school’s out for the summer, so that’ll be my fun this weekend.

A good thing about the garden work, though, is the mental time I get, because weeding just doesn’t require a lot of thought. I figured out a crucial scene in my WIP, one that I knew I needed to add, but I just didn’t know where to put.

I had my “aha” moment while in the garden this week. After today’s jaunt to my niece’s grad party (an all-day thing because it’s a 2 1/2 hr drive there), and replanting my peppers (along with constructing an anti-chipmunk secondary fence and rigging the live traps), I’ll get back to my draft.

Hope your summer is starting off well. Some slacking on writing always happens this time of year, it seems, because this is when we like to enjoy the weather, but make time to write. I know I will, and before my Muse decides to do more than look menacing.

Happy Summer! Happy Writing!

PS: I know, I know, no pics of the chickens. They’re in the “nursery” pen right now, which isn’t good for taking pics, so I’m hoping my hubs and my son will move them into the big pen so I can get good pictures of them.

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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, four 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.

15 thoughts on “Hello, Summer

  1. Sorry to hear about the pests in the garden, Julie. Snakes are good for eating worms and slugs. The slugs used to have festivals in my garden with free food for all until the snakes moved in. Now there’s not a slug in sight! Your garden looks good (entirely weedless!) I’m looking forward to watching the green appear over the summer. Hope all the plans go well and you get some time in for writing too! πŸ˜€

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    • Man, I’d love to have enough snakes (not an overabudance, but enough) to keep the pests down. I know the bigger garter snakes can handled the mice and voles, but since our cat isn’t a mouser (we must feed her too well πŸ˜‰ ) we have to deal with the chippies. If they weren’t so damn cute… Got home late last night, but my goal today is to finish working on two scenes. You heard it here–now I for sure have to do it, right? πŸ˜€ Have a great weekend, Diana!

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  2. Love the photos! I bet your place is awesome, tucked out in the country. I could almost smell those fragrant woods through the computer screen, LOL.

    I planted a few tomato plants (the limit of my gardening skills any more) and today I saw two baby groundhogs eyeing them up. They’re potted, so I can move them to another location if I have too. Nothing like your enormous garden which does seem like a wonderful place to work through mental scenes as you weed.

    Enjoy the graduation party. DH and I are off to a niece’s birthday party today and then we’re going to try to get some outside work done. You know….before the insects get really bad! πŸ™‚

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    • Thanks, Mae! We got back too late last night to do any work in the garden (and I was tired; my SIL asked me to help: monitor the food and keep it stocked), so today I’ll get the latest peppers in the ground, and put a secondary fence around them (like chipmunks can’t climb fences? Ha!) and set the live traps. We love fresh salsa (pico de gallo) and using garden peppers is kind of a requirement, if we can. Have a great rest of your weekend, and keep an eye on those groundhogs πŸ˜€

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  3. I love seeing pictures of your garden! And dragonflies are definitely among the coolest members of the insect world. I’ve been weeding my mother-in-law’s little strawberry patch and dreaming of the day we’ll have a yard and a garden. Someday… In the meantime, at least we have access to the strawberries. πŸ™‚

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    • Yes, access to strawberries is awesome! I had a strawberry patch once, but the quackgrass decided to take over, and that stuff does not play fair. Or nice. There used to be a pick-your-own strawberry place around here, but then the family’s kids all graduated from high school, so once the “help” left home, they shut it down. I miss it. Enjoy your fresh strawberries!

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  4. Julie, my garden is townhouse small these days, but I do recall my vegetable and flower gardens from my former larger home. You are so right. Every chance I get, I’m out picking weeds, admiring blooms, planting annuals and tell myself I’ll get to the computer and writing later. Ah summertime. Loved your garden. Yes, we must never give up on our gardening and writing……best wishes, Frances

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    • Thanks, Frances! We grew up with a veggie garden at home. When I went off to college, I never thought I’d miss it. Then I did. A lot. So once we had an opportunity to plant anything (tomatoes, because, well, home-grown tomatoes knock the socks off anything store-bought), we did. The worst part of gardening (besides the bugs and weeds, that is) is waiting to harvest all those yummy veggies πŸ˜€

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  5. Sorry about the buggers! And the critters! Garden is looking good, though. I hope the animals leave them alone. So happy for your “aha” moment. Those are magical. Great flowers!! πŸ™‚

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    • Last night I planted the latest round of pepper plants, and put extra barriers around them. Later on, after my hubby baited the live traps with peanut butter, I carried them out to the garden, and guess what was *inside* the fence: a rabbit. An effing rabbit. I don’t know how it got into the garden, but I added chicken wire to the gate (was just a hog panel, with more than enough room for critters to slink in between the bars) and blocked (I hope) the spots of the fence where they could sneak under (it’s a flexible fence made of some sort of plastic).

      And I warmed up my new slingshot. Heh, look out wabbits! I’m gonna gitcha πŸ˜€

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      • Peter Rabbit for sure! Did it run out when it saw you coming? Oh, what a bummer! I mean, they’re so cute. But it must DIE! Okay, not die, but SUFFER the PAIN! Okay. Okay. I’m calm. Too bad your cat isn’t an outdoor cat. I hope the fence reinforcements work.

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  6. I love dragonflies as well – they’re just glorious as is the name! Now I understand why they’re always around water…for the mosquitoes. The summer pests are, well, just that pests! Ticks are scary and I’m the only one in our family who hasn’t had one bury themselves under the skin whilst out in Sweden! I like following your developments in the garden, it looks so organised but what a pity about the peppers. Best of luck with the latest lot! As far as summer is concerned I fear we had our two weeks since cold stormy rain weather has descended with a vengeance – it didn’t lessen our excitement whilst Prom suit shopping at the weekend!! Quite an occasion!! Have fun at the graduations and Happy writing to you too, Julie! πŸ˜€β€οΈ

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    • Thanks, Annika! I added some chicken wire to the garden fence gate, and that seems to have stymied the varmints, at least for now. The live traps were empty, and my peppers were still in one piece when I checked them last night. Crossing my fingers we’ve succeeded in keeping the critters out. It’s been hot and dry here; hasn’t rained for over a week, so I’ve been using the soaker hoses. Still had to replant the kale, some beets, and added some spare cosmos seeds I found. Hopefully I’ll get a little color in the garden. Have a great week, and happy writing to you! πŸ™‚ ❀

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  7. I can’t tell you how much I love seeing these pictures of your garden. I live in the middle of San Francisco, in a tiny apartment, surrounded by people and cars and noise and CITY and when I read one of these posts from you I can feel myself expand and breathe. It looks so wonderful there out in your garden! I love it!!!

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    • Hey, hiya Lauren! Thanks for stopping by! I don’t think I could stand living in the middle of a big city like that, unless it was a nice, “quiet” island, like, in the middle of a huge park πŸ™‚ . We’re in rural MN, so even if we moved into “town”, it’s nowhere near as bustling as even a small city. Glad you enjoy the garden musings. I think there are a lot of people who may have grown up with a garden that don’t have a spot for one, or the energy (boy, I can relate!) for one, so I figure I’ll share mine (sorry can’t share the flavors of garden veggies tho’)

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