Coming up for air (and fire)

In the midst of my preparations for harakiri—er, I mean, deep in revision mode, I received today's Shakespeare-a-Day sonnet, and it was just perfect for the section I was revising last night: Sonnet 45

The other two, slight air and purging fire, Are both with thee, wherever I abide; The first my thought, the other my desire, These present-absent with swift motion slide. For when these quicker elements are gone In tender embassy of love to thee, My life, being made of four, with two alone Sinks down to death, oppress'd with melancholy; Until life's composition be recured By those swift messengers return'd from thee, Who even but now come back again, assured Of thy fair health, recounting it to me: This told, I joy; but then no longer glad, I send them back again and straight grow sad.

"Slight air and purging fire"...if you know anything about The House of Arkhangel'sk, does this make you think of anyone? :)

Okay I'll give you a spoiler hint: I was editing the caning scene in The Fallen Queen. And to those of you who aren't my beta readers and have no idea what I'm talking about, just you wait. The caning scene. Sigh. Dreamy. ;)

Update from Irkalla

...otherwise known as the Land of Revisions. Just thought I'd pop onto the blog to share my favorite line from recent revisions to The Fallen Queen (formerly The House of Arkhangel'sk). Belphagor is half-conscious and being carried on Vasily's back when Vasily has an argument with Belphagor's friend Dmitri. Dmitri:

"And if you want to know the Heavens’ honest truth, Lev and I never really got what he saw in you. You’re sullen and ill-tempered and totally self-absorbed.”

Vasily stared at him, speechless, too stunned to be angry.

“And hot,” Belphagor murmured against his shoulder. “Totally hot.”

Vasily stared at him, speechless, too stunned to be angry. “And hot,” Belphagor murmured against his shoulder. “Totally hot.”

Happy Birthday, Dear Blog

I just realized Tuesday was exactly one year from my first post on this blog. I was sitting down to talk about gardening today, and remembered my first post had been about gardening. And what do you know? I started gardening almost the same day last year. It was the end of a long saga of building painting and deck rebuilding on the part of my landlady, wherein I ended up with my "Solomon's step":

Solomon's step

I also ended up with a brand new deck I was told I could not water plants on lest the wood rot. San Francisco gets enough moisture from fog and rain that I thought I'd just let things go and see what happened. They did okay for awhile. Then my autumn depression set in and I stopped going outside and everything died.

NasturtiumsA couple of weeks ago I was surprised to see bright orange flowers peeking through my back fence and I went out to find that one of the planters I'd left out behind the fence to toss out had spontaneously sprouted a lovely crop of nasturtiums. So I brought that one back onto the deck and enjoyed the lovely color among all the dead things. Then a couple of days ago I spotted more nasturtiums growing in two additional planters that had been full of weeds. I love it when, as Jeff Goldblum's character said in Jurassic Park, "life finds a way."

Today I finally got the yen to go out and deal with the weeds and see if there was anything to salvage. Most of my succulents are actually thriving. My Betty Boop roses are beyond dead. :( But my little "unintentional bonsai" fig tree is still struggling along and sweet alyssum has popped up in several of the pots. I spent an hour weeding, and pruning down the rosebush in hopes that maybe there's a tiny bit of dormant life in the roots, and then watered everything.

I'd forgotten how much I love spending time in the garden, even if it's just weeding. It's a little like editing, finding all the useless things sprouting among the good and tidying it all up so the good stuff can thrive. You're still there engaging with the creation you love even if you're not actively growing it at the moment. And sometimes you'll find unexpected surprises, things you'd forgotten or have a new appreciation for. Maybe something you thought wasn't going to work out turns out to be a lovely blossom.

This weekend I'm planning an outing to a plant nursery to get some petunias and lavender and mint, little things I can plant around in the small pots on the deck to give it some color, and then I'm going to look through their roses and flowering vines and see what strikes my fancy. I'm hoping for a nice jasmine plant, and maybe I'll give the bougainvillea another shot (haven't had much luck with them, but I love the profusion of bright pinks and purples and crimsons I see in other people's gardens and can't quite give up on them). This part will be more like the excitement of starting a new story, choosing the elements that will be in it and imagining how they're all going to fit together.

And then along with those, I'll go through my seed packets and see what I've got. Then the real fun begins: putting it all together and watching it grow. At that stage it's "first draft" and I don't have to worry yet about the weeds that will invariably crop up among the things I meant to plant or the pests I'm going to have to deal with down the line when the garden is in full bloom. It's just me and the fertile earth.

Nasturtiums close-up