Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Moment of (un)Zen

I'd like to say I'm posting about the woes of garden pests.
But what I'm really posting about today, dear reader, is my heebie-jeebies.

From our driveway today, I saw the allure of bright red globes. They peeked at me through dense foliage, calling my name. Ah, more tomatoes! I thought. I moved toward them and started collecting them. Then my hand stopped just short of possibly the biggest tomato hornworm I've ever seen.

Yes, I was raised in the country. Yes, I should be immune to such things. I had an aunt who used to play with snakes. Seriously. I was never one of those kids who played with bugs and worms and caterpillars as a kid. You know why? Worms and caterpillars and grubs all give me the heebie-jeebies. Maggots too. Snakes, too, though only when they move. (I won't just kill things I don't like, either. I recognize their importance in the grand scheme. I just don't want to touch them. And I really prefer not to see them.) Tomato hornworms, though, they are garden pests, mostly not at all beneficial. Still, I don't like killing them. And they don't even move much--they mostly just get in the way while they look like giant bumps on logs. Scratch that. They look like giant logs attached to much smaller logs. But they still give me the heebie-jeebies. Probably because they camouflage so well. Right next to the tasty, tasty tomatoes. Last year, we watched for them, but they covered well. We teamed up, and M took down the worms while I reached around the spiders and spiderwebs (those were good--we wanted to leave them intact). I dealt with his heebie-jeebies, he dealt with mine. But now M's at work and the hornworms have come out in force in the past 5 days. They're everywhere. I saw no less than 8 without having to look for them. No small feat, considering my damaged eyes. Of course, they've stripped the foliage off the tops of all the tomato plants, so they aren't hiding as well as they did last year when only one or two usually made it to adulthood. (Three or four are "hiding" in this picture.)

Well, here we were thinking we had good soil and such and were having no problems with the worms this year. Guess we thought wrong. I sent pictures this evening to M at work to show him how many there were, and how huge they were. I guess he's having a rough day, because he told me to "Just get a pair of f**king scissors and kill them." Ew. First off, they're huge. Second, ew. Third, I know they'll pop all over me if I cut them. Fourth, ew. Fifth, when did I ever tell him to just get over it and smash the damn spider? Sixth, scratch that last question; it might come back to haunt me.

Still, I might have been okay. Honestly, I went back after seeing the first worm. I thought maybe I could get most of the tomatoes and just leave a few until M gets home to help me. That was when I saw all the others. And I saw some of them eating (like these two). Which is to say, I saw their heads moving as they sucked on green tomatoes. That was the worst. Ick. Ick, ick, ick.

Okay, if you aren't already, you are more than welcome to laugh at me now. I just had to share, because I couldn't scream at the top of my lungs outside how disgusting that was.

* Stringham high: Yummy, gorgeous, red, ripe tomatoes.
* Stringham low: Hornworms
* Stringham super-high: Possible opportunity to work a contract job for a few months (meaning not losing 45% of my money off the top to taxes of one sort or another)...

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Beauty of a Country Morning

No complaining today, just the sharing of a beautiful morning. I looked outside to see fog hemming in our backyard. It's not a deep backyard, so those of you who've seen it can imagine how surprised I was to not be able to see past the edge of our yard.

Still, it's a lovely fog--light. One might almost want to use the term "fluffy." It was so pretty, I had to take a few pictures--very few, as it turns out, because my camera

battery died. When I stepped outside, however, the fog was even lovelier. (Yes, I keep using that term. There is nothing better for it.) The fog was more of a light mist, as it turns out. I could hear the slight drip of moisture collecting and running down our downspouts and feel the very gentle gathering of dampness on my skin. The air temperature was cool, but not cold, without even a hint of summertime heat or the chilliness that often accompanies heavy fog.The mist seemed almost magical, it was so light, so cool, so lovely. It dampened noise but didn't mute it. Everything simply seemed reverentially hushed, like worshippers entering a holy space. It was like Peace took a moment and descended on our little home. See for yourself:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Somewhere Beyond the Sea (to Somewhere over the Sun)

In the networking tradition of referring people you know or have met--but in my tradition of not referring someone unless I really think the person credible/worthwhile for the job or task at hand--I'm letting you all know about the author of the fantastic book I was mentioning on Facebook last week (yes, Adi, I was...) and that inspired my last blogspot. Here is the blog for Adi Alsaid, author of Somewhere Over the Sun. (For those of you who don't get the linky goodness when this blog posts on FB, down at the bottom of the post, click "Go to Original Post" or whatever it says, and visit my blog directly.)

Adi's blog mentions that he was filled with a little trepidation about seeing a review about his book out, even though it hasn't been published yet, and that's why I had not given away too much information about it before. Being professional, I try not to mention any book without author approval, but this manuscript just made me overflow with enthusiasm. And then Adi found me. (Isn't that a literary sentence?) He found me accidentally. Happy accidents are good, I think.

Go, read his blog. Support his book. Buy a copy when it's published. Buy three copies and give them to people you love. (No, I'm not getting paid to say this. If you were on FB, you've seen my rants about this book.)

It might sound fake if I keep at it, so I'm leaving it at that. I'm actually using my blog to "plug." Ordinarily, I might feel cheap, but I'm not getting paid in any way, shape, or form, so I feel good! Remember, it's Somewhere Over the Sun by Adi Alsaid and will be published by Dog Ear Publishing. If you're so inclined, you can read the full text of my review on Adi's blog or at LibraryThing.

* Stringham high: words, flowers, air-conditioning
* Stringham low: meh, just pesky annoyances
* Stringham super-high: great books

Friday, August 13, 2010

What if this idea had never existed?

I'm editing a wonderful book** right now and came across a gem (or a pearl, if you like) of wisdom on why the main character "can't resist putting (his thoughts) down on paper": "The thing with thoughts is that they die, like everything else. But almost everything else leaves a trace behind, even if it's a tiny carcass, some proof that it existed."

It's so true. Each of us has his or her own reality (or 5 or 100 realities) in his/her head in addition to physical life. That's why I love reading, why I love conversation--because those ideas, thoughts, only propagate and live on by being shared with others. What if Shakespeare had never written his words? If all the songwriters in the world had not turned their thoughts into song lyrics? If the composers had never turned their thoughts into music, notes, symphonies, arias? If Georgia O'Keefe hadn't painted her thoughts? If the "giants" Newton referred to hadn't given more permanent evidence of their thoughts and Newton had thus never been able to build on their ideas, pull them into cohesive ideas that propelled our science, our physics forward so quickly these past few centuries? What if the people you love most in the world never gave voice (literal or figurative) to those thoughts of love? Or if this ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JStOPpNI4Tk&NR=1) had never been written and performed?

I think everyone should provide proof each day of even just one thought--through drawing, conversation, writing, composing, creating.

Give tangible life to your thoughts.

**Working title: Somewhere over the Sun [working title may change, and I'm not sure what name the author is going to publish under]