Tuesday, June 23, 2009

roses, roses all the way

Or maybe not that poem, which is inauspicious now that I think about it. Oh well. Here's more garden news.

The rosa mundi is blooming properly now, so here's what it looks like when it's fully open. Rather gaudy, isn't it? Like a little circus tent.

And one of the mystery gallicas has bloomed. It's either Rosa Gallica itself, or the Apothecary's Rose. I don't know how to tell, since they look ... they look like this. Both of them, so it could be either.

In the front yard, Sir Walter Raleigh has bloomed, big waxy blossoms. This photo is a bit blurry because a breeze came up just then, and even when I held the stem it wasn't quite steady.

This is a bud of Sir Walter, and maybe gives you a better idea of the petal texture than the full-blown rose does.

Charles de Mills, looking ever so Gallic (ha ha). Honestly, it looks so much like one of the gallicas in the back. After a few days being this lovely pink, it turns purple-violet.

Jacques Cartier, properly named as an explorer, because it's sprawling out over Alain Blanchard and its other neighbour. Or perhaps Jacques is more of a coloniser than an explorer?

Lots of big pale fluffy blossoms.

And here is one of Sir Clough's blossoms, which are ridiculously large this year. My hand is there for scale, not for steadying. I should get a picture of the whole bush, too.

Bourbon Queen blossoms in a frenzy. Look at this!

In other blooming news, Chimps has undergone rewrites and a title change to "On the Transmontane Run with the Aerial Mail Express", and it has been bought by Beneath Ceaseless Skies.
So everyone should visit BCS and drop some money in the donation jar, okay?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

things done and undone

All kinds of productive this weekend!
The garden shop had a 30% off sale, so I bought a cherry tree (Glacier) for the backyard, and Mark dug the hole and now we have a second cherry tree. I have a new big plant-pot to shift the potted willow into, and a place to put it, beside my hanging chair. I have a tall trellis-y thing that I have used to restrain the Quatresaisons damask against the fence, and hardly got thorn-stabbed at all this time. I watered many plants, and identified a couple of roses
I bought a big oak half-barrel so we can soak hides at Fort Rodd Hill and try making parchment again--if only I can figure out how to do it without rubber gloves (which are non-medieval). I cut out a linen shift that I may get sewn up in time for FRH. I stained and assembled the non-modern-looking standing easel so that I'll have more viewable workspace in the tent, and won't have to stack canvases on the bed.

I finished the Bluebeard's Widow story that came out of chat on the Scribblers thread (just over 4k). Then I became discontented with it, and wrote a second take on the same plot twist, with a different voice and setting, in just over 2k. I have no idea just yet whether either of them is any good, so I'll look again in a couple of days.
What is good, though, is Ferret's take on Rumplestiltskin, (also from the Scribblers thread) which I'm reading over. The ending makes me kind of weepy, but this is a good thing. Now I need to wake up my inner critiquer and be coherent about it.
Also I'm rewriting the ending of Chimps for the fifth or so time, and have it almost right!

In Willow Knot news, I'm muddling about with the index cards as I try to sift Myl's five years in the forest into three years. I don't want it to end up too schematic, with one rescue or encounter or bird/baby image per year, but I also don't want to have events treading on each other's heels.
For those keeping track at home, Mylla will still be 17 when she returns to the city, because I'm making her a little older when they run away, 14, so that she can be under threat of being apprenticed out by Midame, and being parted from Tyl. Tyl stays the same age. He has to be young, because it gives him license to be feckless and reckless and slightly reduces the reader's urge to smack him for it. So he'll be younger at the end of the book this time, closer to Silly's age.
Anyway, a lot more happened in the forest than I'd really considered, especially when the events are split up into 'scenes', which sometimes mean sequences. For instance, an escape would be a scene, and the pursuit that follows it another scene, but if I split them up like theatrical scenes I'll just confuse myself with two index cards that might as well be stapled together, since they make no sense alone. But some other scenes stand by themselves, like the Babes in the Wood discovery, and could be moved fairly seamlessly.
I'm also muddling about figuring out how the palace events mirror the forest events. Not exactly, but there are equivalances, so perhaps a funhouse mirror.
The hard part of this stage is convincing myself to stick with it and not just plunge back into the text. I need to be a picador, circling daintily and plunking lances into the vulnerable spots until I can get close enough for butchery.
I have to remind myself that this part really is work, however much it feels like work avoidance.

Oh, and the domain name willowknot.com is mine. Mine, mine, mine! But there's nothing there yet. Sorry.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

roses and revisions

Here's the backyard roses. Every rose here is medieval or earlier, while the frontyard roses are Victorian or David Austin Roses.

These are the garage-devouring albas. You can see that they're recovering nicely from two winters back when the snow peeled them off the garage and flattened them.
Today we put a garden bench in the space between them, and I'm hoping to put an arbour frame over the bench to prevent it disappearing into a mass of vines & blossoms.
The rose on the right (of the pic above) is Alba maxima, also called the Jacobite rose. One of the descriptions calls it rampantly flowering, which sounds about right. A very strong fragrance. I cut some for Thursday night table, and the dining room was nicely perfumed.
I've been picking up the dropped petals and putting them in a bowl as a sort of immediate pot-pourri, though I suppose I should be drying them first.

This is alba semi-plena, and it's pretty rampantly flowering and highly scented as well. It may be the White Rose of York, which is appropriate, because I'm a bit of a Ricardian.
I'm not sure which rose would be the Red Rose of Lancaster. I'm sure it's in one of the rose books or websites.

Three gallicas behind the window seat, though you can only see one blooming right now.
The leafy green behind the drainpipe is an acanthus plant. It's the big scallopy leaves that medieval manuscript painters liked to have running down the margins, to unfold into big scalloped platforms for little scenes.
Acanthus grows rather like rhubarb (there's a rhubarb plant next to it) and it's probably time that I separated its crowns and planted some in the front, perhaps under the bay window.

Here's a closer view of the gallica bloom and buds. It will open up much more than this, but I rather like the flower at this stage.

The bush next to it hasn't opened yet, so whatever sort of gallica it is, it's a later-blooming one. I'll know more when I see the flowers. The backyard roses don't have little metal tags to identify them. Or if they do, the tags are buried and lost.

This gallica grows closest to the window where my writing place is, and I can look out the window and see the blossoms. It's Rosa Mundi (gallica versicolor) and seeing it from the corner of my eye I always think of carnations. The rosa mundi has much more fragrance than a carnation, of course.
And yes, I'm terribly spoiled to have roses flowering away while I'm writing.

This last is a damask rose, Quatre Saisons, or Autumn Damask, and it's supposed to flower repeatedly through to autumn, rather like the Dortmund only prettier. Another strongly scented rose.
Both Mark and I have a fondness for the streaky roses. This one was at first trained along the fence, but our neighbour pulled it down a few years ago when he painted both sides of the fence, and it had been sprawling along the ground since. It's a very thorny rose, and its location under the apple tree made for some exciting apple-recoveries.
At present I'm trying to figure out some way to keep it upright that's a bit more secure than loops of twine. Very specialised trellis?

Revising: I've taken the first steps of changing the font and format--a different monospace font, single spacing--and stripping out the chapter divisions and headings so I can look at just the text.
Now I'm listing the scenes / sequences / events /whatever and what each event or set of events does in the plot, what's established or laid in or changed by each one. Pretty much I get to put these on index cards (real or figurative) and play 52-pickup.
Because you see, my book is lumpy. The stuffing has all gone out to the edges, and I need to shake and prod it back into the middle where it will do some good. I need to speed up some parts and slow down others. I need to simplify the politics, and to do that I need to wipe out an entire kingdom (farewell, Valdosa!) as well as focus the guild disputes onto just the one guild.
On the other hand, I get to spend more time on searching for food, on Alard and Myl getting to know each other and on her decision to return to the city. I'm giving serious thought to at least one scene with Myl and Alard encountering each other in the forest unrecognised, before he 'finds' her properly.
The chronology is going to be difficult, because what happens in the forest needs to match up with events in the city, and if I split Rembert's enchantment, say, away from the Lusantian princess's visit, in order to have Tyl's enchantment happen right away, the timing of the triggering events has to fit, even though no one knows the connection at the time.
Index cards are my friends.

But, blessing of blessings, I can banish the Dread of Wordcount for this revision. Spend as much wordage as I need to spackle the gaps, and cut it out on the next go-through. I've been assured that it's okay to go up to 130k in the final draft, even, because I am 'so good at realistic detail and grittiness'.

I'm still reading books on writing, both Revision, by Kit Reed, and How Not to Write a Novel, by Newman and Mittelmark, which is utterly hilarious. I've only found one of my own mistakes in it so far, though.
Which reminds me, I need to order Evil Editor's new book!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

sky-chair west!

When we first moved in, the narrow space between the house and the fence had been used for a dog-run. An ugly but very secure chain-link fence covered each end. It took a deal of work to remove (and I have a photo of Mark rocking out one of the securely-concreted posts in a manly fashion). After that, though, what to do with a narrow overshaded run?
Build a cable-ride, obviously.
Mark pointed out that however cool a cable-ride is, inherently, eventually it will be grown out of, and what is one to do with the rather large supporting structure afterwards?
Oh, I said, use it for a arbor, or a support for a garden swing.

It took a few years to get around to making the cable-ride, time to research designs, look for an affordable (non-industrial level) setup, etc. The actual building didn't take that long, once we had all the bits.
Like most such innovations, it was used extensively for the first while, then when visitors came, parties & birthdays, and eventually the available children all grew too heavy (I can't remember what weight the grip was tested to - 100 lb?).
The lilac tree that Mark had cut down to a stump decided to take it as a severe but kindly pruning, and sprouted up and around the posts and platform. The various cats found the platform an excellent belvedere.

About 10 (15?) years ago I found a hanging wicker chair at a garage sale. The porch had no place strong enough to support a hanging chair, so I stuck it in the attic. Because hanging chairs are cool, and I'd always wanted one, and someday I'd have a place to put it.

This year, in the process of pruning, I reached the lilac tree and the cable-ride posts. With a prybar, a hammer, and my husband's suggestions, I got the platform off (to the later grief of cats, I'm sure).

I sawed off the two branches that ran across the middle of the space and suddenly it opened up beautifully, while enough leafiness remained above for comfortable shade.
I brought the chair down from the attic. The hook on the chain fit perfectly through the eye that had secured the cable. The length of the chain was just right for gentle foot pressure to steady the chair or set it swinging.

It was meant to be. For perfection I only needed the addition of a cat or a laptop. I've tried out the first, and will be checking out the second shortly.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

bunny in motion maybe

If this works, it will be a brief video of a small bunny lolloping a short distance.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

rose progress

The roses have been sadly neglected for some few years. This spring I've been lopping and pruning and scraping out the detritus to find the little tags from when they were planted, about 20 years ago.
The Dortmund and the Bourbon Queen are lovingly intertwined. Each throws out long runners like brambles, so until the flowers (which are quite distinct) appear, it can be difficult to determine which cluster of buds belongs to which set of stems.
But once the buds open, it's dead easy.

The Dortmund has clusters of small open flowers, deep red, not showy but plentiful. It keeps on flowering into November, at least here in Victoria.

The Bourbon Queen has, well, these. Big double flowers, with a scent that can pretty much fill a room.

I thought this might be a good year to do a rose map, with pictures of the flowers as each one blooms, and notes on how the plant is doing. Consider this the first notes toward that plan, and please excuse the quality of the pics. Mark's pics are the ones that are in focus and generally better. Mine are the others.

Next to the Bourbon Queen was the Ulrich Brunner. Note past tense, for to judge from the evidence, Ulrich was dragged down into the earth by teams of woodlice, which then spat back the bare stems, like graboids.

So the next surviving rose is the rugosa rubra, which has a few more blooms today than it did when this picture was taken. The evil caterpillars have been busy, but it's holding up well.

The Rosearie de la Haye and the Kazanlik next to it are leafy but have no sign of flowers or buds so far. The Kazanlik is probably 8 feet tall, but I can't recall what the flowers look like. If we get any, I'll post an update.

But here's a bloom from the Rugosa rubra, this one not eaten by caterpillars.
My own mental category of 'rose' seems to be something close to this, an open flower like the wild roses that grew in the scrubby cleared fields when I was small, not the complex double flowers that I saw in gardens. Perhaps because the garden roses were always seen from a distance, never smelt and picked?

Sitting demurely below the towering Kazanlik is a little Blanc Double de Courbet, which Mark particularly likes for the startling whiteness of its blooms.
It's like the ghost of a flower.

We pass quickly over the Sir Clough, Ferdinand Pichard, and Jenny Duval, none flowering at present.

Until we reach Henry Hudson. The stems have toppled, I don't know why, perhaps trampled by dogs or cats, but the rose itself is healthy, and putting out nice open double flowers. The scent doesn't quite overpower the Bourbon Queen, but it might, if the plant itself were bigger.
Today I bought a plant-propper-upper thing, so if it works for Henry Hudson, I may be propping or restraining more of the roses.

Over to the other side of the yard past the path, and it's nowt but greenery. Buds on the Jacques Cartier (sending exploratory runners into Alain Blanchard's territory) and the Wenlock, but for flowers nowt, nowt.
Until Sir Walter Raleigh, throwing himself against the trellis to flower into the driveway. It took both Chris and me to nail the trellis up a couple of years ago, against Sir Walter's exuberance.

At least we have a rough map for the front yard, and tags for most of the roses (some are blank, now, with the action of weather and time). The back yard is going to be mostly guesswork, aided by the rule that the backyard is medieval, so the roses have to be from 1500 or earlier.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

On becoming real

A statistical update
Queries submitted to agents: 33
Form rejections: 18
Rejection by no response: 7
Requests for partial: 3
Request for full mss: 1
Offer to represent: 1

May 10 - e-query sent.
May 12 - partial requested.
May 13 - full requested on 2-week exclusive.
May 27 - phone call scheduled.
Jun 1 - phone call and offer.

So, yes, I have an agent. And I have a page-and-a-bit list of Large Structural Revisions that Willow Knot needs, and a deadline to complete them.
And yes, I did spend portions of Monday going 'bwuh-bwuh-bwuh' and OMG!!! and if you are my close friend and haven't already heard this news, it's because I've been dazed and struck silly by sheer good fortune.
As I came out of the daze, I was overtaken by the unnerving realisation that being something very much like a Real Writer means Real Deadlines, not self-set deadlines like 'must finish 2d draft or can't do Nanowrimo'.
But I will try not to gripe about fear of deadlines and doubts of my own competence, because I know there are a good many as-yet-unagented writers out there who would gladly smack me upside the head for any such griping.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

bunnies for bogwitch and kali


It's spring, and baby bunnies are springing.

Some of them are cuter than others.

If they reproduced by fission, could you tell?

Not so small, but still cute.

Can anyone filk 'Tiny Bunnies" to the tune of "Tiny Bubbles"?