Stellar Jays, down from the higher ridges and hills, scold me as I walk under the oaks. They are here for the water and the abundant acorns, I suppose. They come from the heights every year in the late summer.
Nights are in the 50s and days in the 70s – although standing in the early afternoon sun feels warmer, this is deceptive. It is chilly before dusk, which comes earlier every week.
The garden is less productive, although the surviving lettuces seem happier than they were. The beans are nearly played out while the tomatoes are in denial, blooming faster, I think, than they ripen. It takes hours of heat to ripen, fewer hours of light to bloom. The yellow jackets are getting more aggressive, which means that being in the garden can be hazardous if I don't time it for the chilly hours.
And I'd rather not, truth be told.
I'm thinking about broccoli and more lettuce, maybe see what cole crops will thrive in my flowerpots.
The sky has gone that glorious, deep September blue that I always associate with California.
I have other associations – there is a scent that happens in March in Michigan. It is new green shoots and thawed soil, turned up. It carries a hint of frost and a promise of warmth, and has a top note of sunshine and fresh air. In California, I smell that in late January or early February, and I'll say aloud (even if no one is near), “It smells like March.”
Here, in September, I can smell the ripening concord grapes. All my life I have waited through the year for that brief window of time when they are ripe in the fall. Then I become a glutton. This year I won't be eating any. Grapes have gone the way of Pizza and other foods that I no longer physically tolerate. It was the same for the summer blackberries – astonishingly abundant this year when I was eating none of them.
But I smelled them ripening in the July and August sunshine. I have smelled and watched them turn to seedy raisins on the brambles as the toyon and oaks around them ripened their own seeds.
The redwoods and firs (and the occasional pet pine) are resin-ating in their last late summer expressions before it cools and the saps are drawn to the roots. The birds are moving on. Mourning doves are all gone, migrating hummingbirds pass through beside flocks of robins and other thrushes. I think there may be some Bird Nature in me because I want to spread my arms and have them become wings so I can follow the summons to be south of here...
Instead I am diligently working on getting Trails and Trails End polished and through the last hoops of the publication process at KDP.
I am also amusing myself with Research for the Next Novel about the Haight-Ashbury Era. I consider this an Historical Novel, and so am creating (re-creating) the calendar of events and weather and lunations, movie and music releases. I'm making sure I have a solid framework to drape my narrative over so that the fantasy I spin will stand as believable. I can't give the DrogStore Cafe the wrong name or place it anywhere but the corner of Haight and Masonic. I am remembering slang we used and looking for those details which make it real to the readers. No one had cell phones, very few of the people I knew there even had landlines.
We had “dropped out” after all.
That is my winter project. This week it is still September, with achingly blue skies, stinging sunshine, cool breezes and nights that remind me that winter is coming.
Might be time for another blanket on the bed.
Proof reading material I've been reading for a couple of years, contending with reluctant printers (why don't printers like me? is it because I resent the cost of ink?), attempting to build a website (ahem), watering a garden, and canning fill my days.
The canning prep may be tiring, but at the moment I look at the pickled onions (made for myself) , the dilly beans and sweet pickled carrots (made for others) with some satisfaction.
I've got electricity and so I'm using the immersion cooker as a canning tool, eliminating boiling water baths in overheated kitchens and constant attention to a timer.
Also known as Sous Vide cooking, the tool sits in the water bath and heats it to a specific temperature, your food is vacuum sealed and resting in the water bath. It never gets hotter than the temp you set the tool to, so it never overcooks.This means I can pasteurize a quart of tomatoes (a rubbermaid tub of tomato quarts!), exhausting the air and killing the microbes within the jar in two and a half hours without boiling anything. No longer doing tomatoes, but I still make pickles.
I've made jugged hare this way. Quite good.
Which is a Very Exciting development in my life. Kind of snuck up on me while I was just taking care of loose ends.
I finally got almost all of the pre-publishing prep work done. What remains is a bio for myself as an author. This puts me in the uncomfortable territory of, “selling myself”. Makes me feel dishonest and pushy, as though I have a back lot full of nearly broken used cars or a coat lined with watches...
And yet it has to be done. Something has to be composed to make my mundane, old lady, self interesting, to intrigue readers (all younger than I) enough that they'll give my work a try. I've managed cover photos and back cover blurbs, found a photo of myself that didn't offend me and met the requirements (300 dpi), formatted and reformatted and picked at all the odd places in the text until there isn't much left for me to do in that department.
And I still rather like the stories, a point that surprises me when I'm also sick to death of looking at them. Even the covers and the blurbs aren't that bad. Maybe not professional, but I haven't made much money writing, so I'm NOT a Pro.
I'm doing this through Create Space, which offers a “preview option” that will allow me to publicly post sections of my novels. I'll be doing that soon – watch this space.
I've gotten it marginally functional and maybe – MAYBE – I'll be able to look at it with slightly less critical eyes once it's a working page instead of a frustration in process.
I really do need to have this page working, I find, things are backing up and need to come out. I used Facebook for that for a number of years, but I am no longer comfortable exposing myself in that manner.
I don't wear mini skirts anymore, either.
I suppose that I will feel some satisfaction at having traversed the minefield of a Weebly template once it's published, and I am assured I can change things – except maybe a font or a color or a position. Templates are like coloring books, and coloring books always frustrated me...
There were these LINES, you see. They were intended to limit where the colors went. The lines required conformity, not a easy matter for me. I tried, I really did, I tried to be like the others, but they read comic books and played together and I read library books and played alone,as isolated from my peers as the colors in a neatly completed coloring book.
My kindergarten teacher told my mother that I didn't take my coloring seriously. My mother laughed all the way home, but it was true. Even at five I didn't find putting colors in cages made by lines a very satisfying occupation.
Finger painting was a different story. The tactile experience of the smooth paint, the way colors blended – this was freedom. If the colors got muddy it was easy enough to start over....
But coloring inside the lines? Very limiting to my mind.
And now it's time to see if this works.
More Later, I'm sure.
So I'm dealing with a template and I don't get the option to choose which font I'm using for my blog.
Weebly isn't actually a presence, doesn't have anyone at home to talk to. No "live chat" whatever the advertising may say.
They don't get back to the "email" option, either.
And the phone number on their web page is no longer in service.
So I get to be frustrated. I've already learned that Forums and "help sections" are useless if you actually need information about anything specific.
So. This site won't be a work of art. It's WYSIWYG and since I doubt that I have an audience (do let me know if I'm mistaken) I don't really care. I'm doing this because I'm supposed to do this to sell books, not because I actually like doing web pages.