Goodwill Hunting. Books that move me to do nothing.

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I must confess.

Last week, Friday and Saturday were great writing days but those were the only days I wrote so damn-the-torpedoes towards my weekly word count.

Inspite of that lackluster showing in noveling department, I jut out my chin and carryon with a blog post.

Daffodils

Look. They weren’t tulips after all. 

But they bloomed and are beautiful so all is cotton candy.

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As far as the seeds in the garden, I think a few have sprouted but not certain so will hold off popping any champange corks for that.

Goodwill hunting.

My daughter loves to shop the racks at Goodwill. Again I must confess, what I usually do is head to the books.

I leave with about three or four — or five. They accumlate, stacked by my bed. I try to read them one-by-one. No skipping around. Last week, I finished The Hours.

 

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When deciding what books to buy, I take in account everything —

What POV is it? Do I know the author? Is it a current best seller?

At times I take into account nothing at all.

This book was much more in the I-know-nothing-about-it category. I did know it had been made into a movie. One that received Oscar nominations. I saw Meryl Streep on the cover along with Julianne Moore and an unrecognizable Nicole Kidman. Why do I put this book on my things that stuck with me last week?

Hmm.

Well, if you aren’t a writer you might want to skip this.

I started reading this book I knew nothing about and the writing blew me away.

It opens with Virginia Woolf and well, if you don’t know anything about her life as I did not — all of a sudden you find yourself googling her to find out if this really happened.

The story follows three woman. Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Brown and Clarissa. And how their lives loosely weave — yet fiercely tie — together.

I try to engage my writer’s mind when reading. With The Hours, I shook my head at how Michael Cunningham put me places. Clarissa entering the building where her very dear friend Richard lived. Richard a gifted author, sucumbing to AIDS.

At Richard’s building she lets herself in through the vestibule door and thinks, as she always does, of the word “squalid.” 

The next page described the lobby perfectly squalid. Not as you or I would have thought it squalid.

Perfectly as Clarissa would have observed it on her daily visits to see Richard squalid.

After reading more about Cunningham, I was relieved to learn he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Hours.

I wasn’t crazy. This was writing to be studied — if only the best I can study is rereading a page in the carpool line while looking up frequently enough so to not rear end the white Tahoe inching along in front of me.

Finishing the book this weekend, one of the climatic scenes had me close to tears. Not the action, though it was heart wrenching. It was the writing. Like one looks at a brilliant sunset and is moved just because of its beauty.

A book that moves me to do nothing.

Only to appreciate the skill with which it came to be.

Next up in the Goodwill stack.

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Have you read a book recently that moved you?

In good ways or bad?

O ye of little faith, why do you assume so much?

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For truly I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain,

‘Move from here to there’, and it will move,  . . .  Matthew 17: 20

 

Most of the week, I gazed upon this:

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Nice.

Green, promise of spring kind of stuff.

About Thursday, I looked upon its puerile beauty and thought I haven’t seen any blooms yet. Nothing that even sniffs of a green shoot that could morph into a bud.

Suddenly I questioned everything I knew about the natural world. What if all chickens stopped laying eggs? What if the sun didn’t rise tomorrow? What if my skin started growing younger instead of insisting on well — aging? Which would totally be sooo very great.

Why on earth did I pick the one plant with nary a bloom so sure that bud will sprout and open into a hopefilled bouquet of tulips?

Why was I certain they were tulips? They could be daffodils just by looking at the leaves. Sure I selected this pot from a group of pots with blooming tulips but?

Why do I assume so much?

For instance, take this spot of dirt in my garden.

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About a month ago on impulse, I purchased two inexpensive packets of seeds, Spinach and Mustard Green, while at the store.

Once out in my plot, the soil gave away easily as I created a deep row with nothing more than a few drags of a pick axe.

I dropped in the seeds, covered them up and thought with all this rain and a few warm days, who knows I might have spinach by March?

Well, we’ve had nothing but rain and cold so as that photo attests the dirt looks pretty much the same as it did a month ago.

Every day as I pass my little plot, my eyes search for the spot. Knowing one day I see clusters of teensy greens.

Why am I so sure that when the temperatures rise so will my seeds?

WHY?

Maybe the question is why did I buy that pot of tulip shoots or take the trouble to scatter those bitty seeds in the first place?

That’s easy peasy. A longing for the beauty of spring. The promise of fresh spinach with my eggs in the morning. Knowing that though outside the window gray abounds, life is there.

The expectation of faith fullfilled is a huge part of who we are. Who I am, I guess.

Here’s to a week of tulips blooming, spinach sprouting and no shadows for groundhogs.

Thoughts?

 

Editor’s note: Last week’s novel perservering resulted in an average of 785 words for six work days.

 

I Can’t Tell You Why? Thoughts on Glenn Frey’s untimely passing.

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Still perserving away on the novel.

Averaging 454 words for six days.

Last week, I blogged about fog.

This week, what stayed with me . . .

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The surprising and sad death of Glenn Frey.

Like this text from my husband, this morning.

 

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I can’t tell you why it affected me so.

His text was a reference to earlier a conversation we had this morning. Having watched the History of the Eagles documentary last night, both of us tried to remember the name of a song from a point in the show.

When it came to him, he sent me this text.

It took me a while to figure out his cryptic message.

I can’t tell you why

I wondered: had something happened with the children? Had he had enough? Was he hitting the open road and not return till mid-March?

Then I remembered our discussion, the documentary, the song and Glenn Frey had died.

I admit never going to an Eagles concert.

I admit only buying their music, other than a few 45s, after I was adult and probably doing so because hot-tub time machines only exist in movies.

There’s no quicker way to transport back to another place in history than through a taste or smell — or sound.

 

 

In the 70s, Eagles’ music stood out in all the best ways.

It was always on the radio when all there was was radio.

A line in the documentary that echoed that point. It went something like — You just didn’t listen to the Eagles. You did things to the Eagles.

They were the songs on the radio leaving the high school parking lot with the windows rolled down thinking Thank you Jesus school is over for today. Eagles songs on the Top 40. The countdown played on Sundays as I lay with eyes closed, warm, on a gritty towel at the beach. Life in the Fast Lane played at a junior high school dance. It was a rare outside dance held in the courtyard off the cafeteria.

I can’t tell you why Frey’s death sat in my thoughts this week rudely kicking grocery lists and afterschool appointments out of the way.

Maybe it’s the shadow of time running out?

Still in the distance, a specter gaining with a speed and stealth I never gave much thought to.

Until now.

 

 

 

 

 

Fog. “Do you think they’re okay?”

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I have been writing.

I have been persevering on my novel. Last week, I averaged 323 words a day. Counting 6 days as a workweek.

Not that great but a teensy momentum starting with my book and though I’m devoting most of my writing time to that effort —

I’d like to blog at least once a week.

If there is something I can’t wipe out of my mind — that will be the post.

This week, it’s fog.

We travelled down to the Georgia coast around New Years. We did this a couple of years ago and it was a blustery, cold, typical late December, early January at the beach.

This December 29th it was so warm we headed to the beach in expectation of baring skin. I hadn’t brought a bathing suit but the boys did. They hauled fishing gear from our house to the sand on bikes. On my bike, I toted my chair and something to keep me hydrated.

 

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Notice the water and sky in the above goofy selfie of me.

About a half hour after this photo, the sky clouded. And across the water came a wall.

Of fog.

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See how it’s starting to filter down to the beach. The seagulls seem pretty relaxed.

Honestly, I was relaxed due to proper hydration but the fog thing was — well getting pretty foggy.

As my husband and I walked down the beach, the fog began to grow thicker and thicker.

“I know the pier is there somewhere.”

We’d been walking awhile and still couldn’t see the pier. Like most piers into the Atlantic, it’s quite large. One can’t just disappear without a Catagory 5 hurricane or world-ending visit by aliens.

Or so you would think.

Like where did it go?

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We found it.

People in San Francisco are used to blue sky then Londontown. I remember baseball and football games at Candlestick where the players disappeared and play halted.

 

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But to have my warm, sunny day at beach cataclysmically altered?

It was cool.

You know the coolest part?

The horns.

Savannah is a mega port. Tons of ginormous cargo ships ingress and egress the docks via the Savannah River off the Atlantic. We saw one or two mega ships head out. When the fog came . . .

We heard them.

BWAAAAAAH.  Silence. Gray. Fog. BWAAAAAAH. Silence. Gray. Fog. BWAAAAAAH.

 

 

“Like are they okay?” I asked.

It was spooky to think them barrelling through the water blind. Of course I know they weren’t blind with all the high tech gadgets these days but. 

After they all had a good laugh at my expense asking if those floating landmasses “were okay?”–

Someone said, “They maybe okay, but some little boat out there that doesn’t see them is not.”

 

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The huge ships. The dense fog. The sound of the horns.

I liked it. It had an air of danger, mystery. Dampness. And as one who usually hates dampness, in this senario, it worked.

Utterly unexpected.

Here’s to a year of unexpected good things.

Things emerging out of the fog or times I’m plowing blind into the fog.

Here’s to a good week.  xo

Thoughts on fog? Or foggy thoughts?

Persevere. The year of Odysseus not Sisyphus.

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My writing style is simple.

So coming up with one word for 2016 should be a can of corn.

But it’s not been. No. That’s not right. I don’t like the word that seems so obvious.

Persevere.

As in to persevere writing a novel that will sell 10 copies.

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A killjoy.

Who wants that? But as I’ve noodled it the first few days of January, that is the word that remains.

I’m at mid-life and in the middle of so many things. In-the-middle is a place where momentum dies.

In the third quarter of a football game. In-the-middle of a novel that started so rip roaring. In-the-middle of taking down Christmas decorations. In-the-middle of sex. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

In-the-middle, we need to persevere.

What a downer. Persevere evokes images of Pilgrims, monks toiling over documents in damp and dark monasteries. Parents of infants. Parents of toddlers. Parents of teenagers. Paying off debt. Training for marathons.

But that’s what I want to do for 2016.

I’m a dreamer. A contemplative. I can take my thoughts out to play in-the-middle of the day and 45 minutes have passed. Sure I’ve folded laundry, made a bed or two but if I want things done well, I’ve got to buckle down and focus. Whether it’s cleaning up my garden, writing my daily word count or straightening the house in half the time. Persevere with my children. Helping them with school work.

I tried to think of more positive sounding words.

Alas, I found that every word that didn’t conjure up thoughts of Captain Ahab, Odysseus or the Bill Murray character in Groundhog’s Day was a phrase with more than one word.

Keep going. Press on. Go for it. Stay the course. Stick with it. Go for broke.

There were a few single words synonyms suggested by Thesaurus.com, such as:

Endure: Terrible. Worse than persevere. Makes me think of 365 days living as a vampire or worse . . . a zombie. I like to eat to way much to be a zombie for 365 days. And I’m not changing my diet.

Persist: Not bad. But at least persevere evokes feeling of pain. Persist is just existing — heart beating, lungs breathing — and your body functioning in a directed effort.  MEH.

Continue, Remain, Maintain: Blah, blah and double blah.

No.

Persevere is there because that’s the word that helps me get out of bed at 4:45 to have my quiet time and hopefully write.

Persevere pops into my head when I’ve researched and written a bit for two hours but only have 255 words. A commitment to persevere helps keep my rear in the chair and keeps me writing.

Yes. Even when I look up definitions, Persevere aligns with my goals for the year.

  • To try to do or continue doing something in a determined way, despite difficulties.
  • To persist in or remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in the face of obstacles or discouragement.

The Oxford Dictionary had a different spin: Continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.

What’s up with the little or no prospect of success? That’s Sisyphus not Odysseus. Sisyphus, of Greek Mythology Bed Time Stories fame, was made to roll a boulder up a steep hill only to have the rock tumble back down to the bottom — he did this forever. No. I’m not going to be cranking out 500 or more words a day only to face a blank page again the next morning for all eternity.

Odysseus did finally get home. Okay. It took a while. Years. And he had to battle Trojans, shipwrecks and one-eyed giants. I’m cool with that.

I will persevere in my daily encounters with Cyclops and shipwrecks.

I will laugh lots. And have moments of gratitude and great joy.

I will persevere and have the first draft of my novel done by April first. I will persevere and have the edits done. I will persevere with the agenting process. And persevere with starting my next book when nothing is happening to the first.

No way around it.

Persevere in 2016.

Woot.

Any thoughts on your word for 2016? Anymore Persevere-heads out there?

Linking up with the Finish the Sentence Friday game found over at the wondrous Finding Ninee. 

What I learned in 27 years of marriage. (Really need to think of a sexier title.)

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December 17th.

Here I was at 25 years old, 27 years ago at my wedding.

Such a joyous occasion.

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No. Fooled you. This was five months earlier when we were being sworn in as membas of the Georgia Bar.

Found this looking for wedding photos.

We look pretty serious. Guess that’s what standing in front of a judge will do.

I was in the standard 1988 female lawyer attire. Navy suit. Navy hose. Must have gone crazy because I jettisoned the buttoned-up collar with the navy silk scarf tied in a bow.

This is more like it.

 

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Leaving our reception.

The one thing in this snapshot that always stood out to me was my hand poised to grip the roof of the car.

Like holy cr@p I just got married.

This is totally off-cuff and utterly unplanned but  . . .

 

Things I’ve gleaned from 27 years of marriage.

 

  •  Where the heck did 27 years go?

Twenty-seven years is a long time right? Well, 27 years seems like a blip in time sitting here typing this.

 

  •  Thank God I married the right person.

I really didn’t give much thought to marrying John. Sure I loved him. Sure there was no one I’d rather spend the day with but  . . .

Only till after we were married a few years did I realize how being married to the wrong person would be very, very  . . . well, not that great.

 

  •  Being in a good marriage takes effort.

 

Okay, a lot of effort. But not because of marriage. Because we 21st Century Americans are probably the most self-focused generation that has ever been. I count myself among the named. We have goals, dreams, aspirations. Then children and houses and education. And careers.

A good marriage takes self-examination and sacrifice and letting what you want to do at the moment take a backseat sometimes.

 

  • Not having the same interests is cool. 

But letting each other have time to explore those interests and passions is vital.

 

  • Have sex. Even if you are too tired to muster the effort it takes to close your eyelids.

This is mainly to the women because as we know, men are never too tired for sex. Too drunk maybe? But never too tired.

Sex is the glue that holds the marriage together. That said, it should be gratifying for each participant. Y’all can discuss amongst yourselves on that.

And the drunk thing is the joke. Please don’t be standing the checkout line saying, “Well, I heard the Miles’ are too drunk every night to have sex.”

If only.

 

  • Laugh. 

Please if you don’t take anything else from this post, don’t take yourselves so seriously and laugh. Maybe laughter is the glue that holds marriage together?

 

I’ll stop because the dog whines to be walked and the laundry calls.

Thank the good Lord for having Johnny so blinded by my beauty (see above re laugh) that he married me. For the most important thing I’ve learned after 27 years is that I surely don’t want to go through this life without him.

To borrow a sappy line from a movie I can’t remember (though he will be able to), you complete me. 

xoxoxo

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful Giving. Big and Small.

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This is a pic of my phone. My screensaver is a Mother Teresa quote:

There are many people who can do big things, but there are very few people who will do the small things.     Mother Teresa.

 

That blew me away.

For someone who likes to study human nature, rarely does a thought so captivate me. A thought which encapsulates the 21st Century American culture.

We all want to solve the Syrian refugee crisis. Take away a Christmas morning with no tree or presents for innocent children. Erase a table void of turkey, cornbread dressing and pumpkin pie.

But it’s the small every day giving that truly matters.

 

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The giving of our time.

Interrupting our work, our shopping for the perfect meal, our quick dash into Starbucks for a treat for us because we truly had a hard day.

The message of Mother Teresa’s words is that true giving maybe nothing more than giving myself. My time. My attention.

My time when my brain and my heart are engaged with another, no matter how inconvenient.

When someone stops by my door in the middle of the day. In the middle of my time to write. After I’ve cleaned the house and started dinner. And done laundry. After I’ve checked off all my duties for everyone else. When it’s time to eek out a sliver of time to write 500 words.

A giving that stops and listens and finds some work for someone who needs a few dollars.

Last week, I went out with my son to run. A teen stopped and asked to use my phone. After seeing her try a few numbers, it was obvious she wasn’t getting in touch with the person she needed to.

Rather than just smiling and taking my phone back, I asked if I could help. She was walking to an interview at a restaurant downtown. She wasn’t sure where the restaurant was located.

Looking up at me and gesturing toward her typical teen Saturday dress she asked, “Does this look okay for an interview?”

That broke my heart a bit.

“Would it help if I drove you to the interview?”

She looked a little puzzled before she admitted, “Yes.”

After we figured out what restaurant she was going to I said, “If I was an employer, I’d most want someone I could depend on. Who would be there when they were supposed to. A person with a good attitude and who did good work.”

She wanted this job to help pay for her GED. We talked and I tried to give her positive thoughts. “You are so young, don’t be discouraged.”

She smiled and said that’s what her mother tells her.

She thanked me for driving her downtown and I assured her it was my pleasure.

“We all need encouragement. Even at my age — I need encouragement,” I added with a laugh.

That’s what I wanted to say to you this week of Thanksgiving.

Take time out to do the small things.

For often the little things really aren’t that little after all.

 

 

He stole my nose and I’ve been looking in the mirror ever since.

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House painters are nice folks. Mostly quiet, though sometimes extroverted like the painter we now have paint our things that need painting.

Back when this event took place, the painter in question must have been a real jokester.

He stole my nose.

You know. Someone grabs at your nose with their hand. They snicker and shout, “Got your nose” and show you their fist as their thumb pokes through the index and middle finger.

Ha. Ha. Sure it’s funny till a painter pulls that trick on a wee two year old in 1965 and she thinks the d@mn idiot has pulled the nose off her face.

Today I had an appointment to have a basal cell carcinoma carved off that same nose.

Yes, one slip of the knife and this doctor could finish off what that painter tried to do all those years ago.

No. It wasn’t that bad. Just a spot. But it involved taking a skin graft and stitches and reclining in a chair looking a virtual reef-like fish tank broadcast on a big screen. I guess to help me forget someone-trying-to-swipe-my-nose flashbacks. 

You know what kept going through my head? (Other than that long ago machiavellian painter.)

This hurts.

I’ve got a hole in the side of my nose and a hole scraped on the inside of my outer ear.

Lying there trying to make sense of the whole thing, I pulled out a scale in my mind.

On one side I put pain, stitches and a scarred nose. On the other side sat all those times at the beach. Lying in the sun. Listening to WAPE AM on tiny transistor radio tucked beside my ear. Trying to get as burned as I could.

Yes. That was my mission in high school. Go to the beach. Not wear sunscreen and be able to go to school on Monday looking as a cherry Tootsie Pop sticking out of a white t-shirt.

Post procedure I’ve got a big paper mache muppet nose bandage. Same feeling as when I had the biopsy and tweeted this a few weeks ago.

 

 

I have complete confidence in my doctor. Though I haven’t taken my bandages off yet.

Would I have traded all those years in the sun for perfect skin now?

I’ll plead the 5th.

And get to your dermatologist to check out any odd spots.

Miss chatting with you regularly but still getting those 500 words in.

xoxo

NaNoWriMo. I’m wearing a string bikini on the nude beach.

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NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month.

Writing 50,000 words — or what is the first draft of a novel — in the 30 days of November.

I’ve never participated before. I’ve had fun with NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) posting on this blog every day in November. But I’ve never felt the gut call to attempt NaNoWriMo.

Why?

Well, the daunting task of writing 1,667 words a day. And the bigger challenge of those 50,010 words forming a story. One with twists and turns. An unforseen climax. And a cast of characters the reader cares about and roots for.

To be honest, it’s a mental shift. One from columnist, blogger, 1,500 word article writer to 50,000 to 100,000 word novelist.

And the challenge of those having to be very a entertaining, cohesive 100,000 words.

For me it was time. I have a story in my head and sensing the shrinking amount of time I might be given on this earth — what was I waiting for?

So I’ve been trying. I knew better than to go all in with expectations. I’m on the nude beach surrounded by people in various stages of undress — wearing in a string bikini.

My goal was 500 words a day, not 1,667. My hopes are to build a habit and momentum.

And get a first draft in three to six months. Not three to six years.

Some days I’ve gone over with my count, some days I’m under. We’ll see how I end up at November’s end.

This month, I hope to include posts with interviews of some of my author friends who’ve crossed the finished line. Ones with fabulous novels in print.

And I’ll check back in with posts on some of the things that are working for me.

Anywho.

I do miss the community of blogging. And writing silly 600 word blog posts about silly things that cross my mind. But  . . .

xoxo

 

Greens 1/58 Acre is the Place for Me.

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Gray days of steady rain used to find me wringing my hands and popping antidepressants like Tic Tacs.

No longer!

Not since I became a farmer.

I love the plentiful water for my plants but more than that I love a vigorous hoeing made so much easier after a few days of rain.

And that’s what I did yesterday.

A month ago, I planted my seeds.

 

Collard, kale and turnip by seed. I transplanted broccoli and lettuce.

 

I saw the photo below in the October Southern Living.  Bully’s, a Jackson, Mississippi, restaurant has a greens vegetable plate. Looking at the pic, I correctly identified the cooked greens. Turnips/mustards, collards and cabbage.

 

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Can I do it in the garden? Identify the juvenile, as opposed to the preteen, collards from the turnips from the kale. Can you?

Here’s my collards, turnip greens and kale — and a few radishes — after a good hoe.

 

 

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Well, I can tell one from the other because I planted the rows. Even armed with that knowledge, a few weeks ago I wasn’t sure what was a turnip and what was a weed. Which was nice because I didn’t worry about hoeing. Us farmers know to wait till the vegetable gets big enough to tell whether it’s a weed. You don’t want to decimate a teensy collard thinking it’s a wee dandelion.

Hopefully a month from now my greens — all types — will be mature and ready to simmer with bacon, drop in soups, make into chips or toss in a salad.

The radishes weren’t ready either. I pulled some up today and inspected their progress. Only the size of a healthy English pea, I stuck my finger in the soil making a hole and tucked the red root back in its dirt womb.

Hope that works. Or I just screwed up two of my radishes.

Will write about my affection for radishes later.

 

Yep. It’s hard to tell one green from another till they get bigger. That’s what I’m waiting on now. Growth.

Should I thin the plants? Probably. Will I?

Don’t know. If I do, it will be the collards.

All this is second hand to us farmers. Probably seems a little confusing to you.

That’s okay. Greens are one of the only things I’m pretty certain about these days.

How do you like to cook greens?

Like put it in a smoothie or something, I bet.

 

 

           

           

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