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Whatever Turns on Ya

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My old friend Walter Sweet used to say that. "Whatever turns on ya." A play, of course, on the swingin' 70's saying, "Whatever turns you on."

Any more, it's pretty simple. Sun. Flowers. Being outside. Not being cooped up because it's raining and gray. 

Hey, if I can't whine here, where can I whine?

Today (Sunday December 7) was stupendously clear and sunny. I felt like an appliance, dragged from a dark cupboard, plugged in and ready to do my thing. I felt like a mixer. A Cuisinart. An electric knife. Gimme something to do.

Which turned out to be a five-mile run with the dog, a photosafari and hymn singing in the old church, and a trip to Athens for a concert, dinner and frozen custard. Whoot! 

While I got ready for my day Chet had a good chew with his boy. 

He's kind of cute when he chews, with that little white glove and that spaced-out face. He's in Chewspace. 

The aquarium is looking thrifty of late. Maybe I'll do a tank post here in a bit, when the new fish settle in. 

Speaking of things turning on ya...

My primary winter coping mechanism is badly out of whack this season. The Groanhouse is driving me nucking futs again. In the last huge wind (gusts in excess of 60 MPH), three panes blew out of it. Because the stupid rubber weatherstrip never fit in the channels in the first place, they were more prone to blowing out. And, surprise! I couldn't get the panes back in right without disassembling the entire structure. So I had to force them back on (as opposed to in) and duct-tape them more or less in place. 

Disassembling the Groanhouse. And then trying to reassemble it.

This is something I can't even think about doing. Talk about diminishing returns.

On top of that, the new heater I got is way, way too much for the space. And it has thermostat issues. The temperature swings from 56 to 80 within a few minutes each time the damn thing kicks on. It won't keep the temperature even in the space.
You can imagine what my poor plants think of that. When it's cold outside, they literally cook, their leaves scorching.
All of this is my fault for buying what looked like a good greenhouse, which turned out to be impossible. I just can't win for losing with this structure. And then buying the wrong heater. It seems every time I have something figured out, something else goes wrong.

So I've moved all the plants into the house until I can get something figured out with a new smaller heater. That will happen this week, I hope. I don't know what to do about the Groanhouse's propensity to blowing apart. Who can predict the next gale? And what if I'm in Costa Rica when it happens? 
And on this ridgetop, it WILL happen.

Everything dies?


Bill has sweetly promised to put his head together with Tools and present a solution. Tools, y'hear that?

Marcy!! Now is the time for all good countrywomen to lend me their man!!

Thankfully, a few select plants like Hibiscus "The Path" have come into our living space and are doing what they can to cheer me up. The rest are in the tower room, where they'll get cool temps and plenty of light, but no extreme swings. My Fitbit says I climbed 125 flights in one day. Part of that was bringing plants from the Groanhouse to the Tower Room. I was wondering why my knees hurt...

Even when I had the heating situation figured out last winter, The Path never was able to bloom in the greenhouse. Temperature swings were too wide, punishing. But oh, she's blooming in the living room. For her, it's all about having an even ambient temperature. Or at least not being chilled, then cooked 30 times a day. The Path is a plant in perimenopause. She gets a pass.

Honey, if you make 7" wide flowers that look like that, you can demand anything you want of me. Daily spraying for aphids? You got it. Warm watering water? Check. Kisses right on the pistil? 
Yup. Mwah!

So, not being able to futz in the greenhouse any more, and having a deadline that is breathing hot fire down my neck, I've poured myself into work on the new book. It's called Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest. It's due April 15, 2015, and it'll take a full year for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to produce it. So it's due out spring 2016. I know, a long time. But not to me! I've been working on this for 13 years. What's another year to a writer? What's time to a hog?

I get a lot done in these quiet days, especially on the gray ones when being outside isn't so alluring.
Working on the book is life itself. It's so affirming to paint squirming young birds in dark December, to paint them growing and changing and becoming birds before my eyes.

But a sunny day...ahhh. So rare, so fine, so desperately needed when one finally comes around.

 This Sunday Dec. 7 was the last day of gun season. I wrote a little haiku couplet in its honor. 

Gun season's last day
Orange men, pickups in full force.
In thickets,ears twitch. 
They filled their bellies last night.
Legs folded, hearts still.
Tonight, under a Yule moon
They will dance again.


I hope your new book has some of your poetry in it. Three Cheers for winter sun.

So, the Groanhouse--under warranty? I have no wisdom to offer, never having had a groanhouse.
Space heaters--is yours the type that kicks on and pumps hot air? Maybe one that does radiant heat? Again--no real wisdom.
As for hunting season, glad that Chet B looks alert--does he wear orange when out and about (his business)?

Julie, Me thinks you should take out a large insurance policy on that groanhouse and then when it blows away, use the (well-deserved, of course) insurance payment to add a sunroom right onto your house. Then, when the sun DOES shine this time of year (sadly, almost never) it will help heat your house, too. We have one which is heated by our wood boiler (heat in the floor which the plants love) which is my favorite place to sit in the winter. And tidy the geraniums, snip the coleus to keep them shapely, etc. Thanks for sharing your good days and bad days with us!

You need a real greenhouse. Claro que si. (This Spanish phrase, so much more elegant than English.) This new book must provide!

Speaking of ... I'm on tenderhooks waiting, interminably it seems, for Space Coast to enable registering on their website. I live in fear that it will slip my mind for a day or two, only to find that it had been enabled in the meantime and that your presentation at the opening will be full up, and I find tears in my eyes just thinking about that possibility. Just venting. :)
Also, might be a typo? hunting season ended Nov 7? should be Dec 7, maybe?
A bright and beautiful day in Central Florida today, but work insists. Sigh.

Posted by Gail Spratley December 9, 2014 at 6:48 AM

When will the new book be published? Can't wait!!!

Posted by Anonymous December 9, 2014 at 6:57 AM

One reason to celebrate the end of deer gun season – you no longer have to dress up like a traffic barricade to take a stroll in the woods.

From those first couple of pics, it's clear THAT dog is the reincarnation of Winston Churchill (probably even barks with a British accent)!

Re: books... have you considered doing a book of your blog posts over the years? Yeah, it would take LOTS of organizing, editing, sorting, planning, etc., but SO MANY great chapters possible, and all the material already right there under your nose... just sayin'!

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