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I was given some advice a while ago by Lucy-S that I have been trying to put into practice, at least in part.

Like most people on this site, and perhaps like many educated Americans, I think of myself, in vague terms, as a writer. Plans for that Great American Novel have been bumping around in my head since I was 12 or 13. Of course, maybe it is just the okay American short story that will be published in a literary magazine and read by a few hundred people. In any case, I have all these ideas, and I have always wanted someone to read them.

There has been a couple of obstacles to that. One of which is that literary fiction is kind of a dying genre. Another is that I often lack the self-discipline to write. Yet another is that (as you might have noticed), I sometimes have troubles with the mechanics of writing. But there is an even more important Sword of Damocles, hanging over me and writing.

And this is the matter that Lucy-S cleared up: I asked her what the difference between a writer and an amateur was. Do writers have some type of aura or cocoon that settles on them, that allows the scenes and the dialog to flow smoothly? Where the mechanics of writing and the meaning of plot all just come out together at exactly the right consistency? And the answer she gave me was "no". Published writers are just amateurs that keep trying.

As silly as it sounds, I guess part of me was just waiting for "inspiration" to settle down on me, that I would get an idea and it would just be perfect and I would effortlessly run with it. But since receiving this advice, I have realized that its just not going to happen that way. At least for me, and at least not anytime soon.

So, while I still don't know about commercial viability, I have decided to write every day. Even when the sentences come out of brain clunky and uninspired, and when I can't seem to reach the point I am trying to communicate, I keep writing. This writing, right now, does not mean something for commercial publication, but it does mean something submitted to a general audience that has some standards. So my writeup on the North Dakota Caucus counts. Writing on Livejournal doesn't. This daylog doesn't, either.

And I have already learned a valuable lesson: writing when I am not in the mood for writing can often be just as good as writing when I feel inspired. Even if I go through the steps mechanically, at the end I often have a product that I feel some small amount of satisfaction with. And while I don't know what will come of this, I am happy with my results so far.

Which, by the way, includes getting to 1500 writeups. Time to go change my mission statement!

What a busy year 2012 is turning out to be! Back in February, it seemed that between work and the DuPage Derby Dames, and my band Disorder, that I would not have any time at all for gardening this year. Mother Nature, however, refused to be underwhelming this March. The last time that I recall experiencing 80+ degree weather in March was in 2005. But I was in Austin, Texas not Chicago, Illinois, where the records have been tumbling, mosquitoes have been biting and trees have been budding while it was still technically WINTER.

But, I am getting ahead of myself....

When I last wrote about gardening in E2, I had made bold plans to start my plants from seed indoors. I am pleased to have made good on these plans! I started my cold-weather seeds indoors in the basement in the middle of February. I have a heated seat-starter flat which has 72 1" plugs divided into 6 trays. The flat has a cover which makes the flat into a mini-greenhouse of sorts.

I seeded broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli raab and bok choi and within a week each tray had a number of sprouts. These members of the Brassica family require soil temperature of at least 70 degrees for ideal germination. I filled each plug with moist potting soil and seeded each plug with a half-dozen seeds. Brassica seeds are tiny and should be covered by no more than 1/4" of soil.

At the same time I seeded a flat with romaine lettuce and another with eggplant seeds. Lettuce seeds are also tiny and I had the opportunity to buy pelleted seed of this cultivar to allow simpler seeding. Lettuce does not require warm soil to germinate and I left this flat outside the seed starter tray. I also started my eggplant at this time. Eggplant is a warm weather plant but is very slow growing requiring at least an eight week head start before planting outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.

The Broccoli Raab was the first to sprout in the heated flat and the sprouts grew very thin and spindly. Once every flat had sprouted, I removed all of the flats from the heated tray leaving only the eggplant tray. After sprouting Brassica’s thrive at an idea temperature of 60 degrees. I have a small shop lamp with a pair of growth-spectrum flourescent tubes that I use as a grow lamp. Within a week all of the sprouts were growing alarmingly thin and weak so I lowered the lamp within inches of the seedlings. This seemed to help as the seedlings grew their first true leaves thereafter.

A majority of the lettuce sprouted about a week later and, to my disappointment, only two eggplant sprouts emerged within two weeks. While my sprouts sat under the grow light, I took care of a couple of other gardening projects. My first project was to build a cold frame to put my sprouts outside into when the weather would be mild enough. The winter had been so mild that the ground had not been consistently frozen. The first opportunity to rototill would come soon.

My rototiller needed some attention so I dropped it off with a small engine repair guy to get a new carburetor installed and tuned. He was happy for the work as his revenues this winter from plowing snow and repairing snow blowers and snowmobiles had been far below average.

By the first of March, my cold frame built and the weather continuing to be mild, I decided to transplant the sprouts into larger pots. I think that I waited too long to do this. Or, I should have thinned the sprouts to a couple per plug. They were not root bound buy the sprouts had tangled up together. The broccoli raab sprouts were too fragile to separate. So I decided to start these sprouts again from scratch. These grow so fast that next year I think I shall sow them directly into the garden. The other sprouts I separated successfully and put them into the cold-frame during the day to harden them off.

Within a few days the weather had gotten so warm that I was propping the polyethylene sheet cover up during the day so that sprouts would not get too hot. I also was very happy to find that the majority of eggplant seeds had sprouted by this time as well.

A week ago the weather went from being unseasonably mild to downright warm. After waiting for with increasing impatience for a few weeks, my rototiller was finally ready. I picked it up on a warm sunny Saturday and was very pleased that I did not die on me once as I tilled the garden into fine fluffy soil.

Up until this weekend, I have resisted the urge to plant my seedlings into the garden. They would be able to live through heavy frost and light freezing but it is still very early in the growing season. If the ground were to freeze solid, which statistically remains a real possibility, the seedlings could be killed. But the record warmth has continued into this weekend and is expected to continue through for foreseeable future. So, I decided to drink the Kool-Aid and plant!

On Friday, I sowed the remainder of my spring crop. I sowed three 9' rows each of spinach, carrots, looseleaf-lettuce and golden beetroot. I also sowed 24' of peas along the eastern fence. Yesterday, Saint Patrick's Day I planted all of my seedlings. To protect them from hungry slugs, I spread diatomaceous earth around each seedling.

And with that, the spring garden is entirely in the ground! I will continue to lay down diatomaceous earth when rain washes it away, and water when it does not. The rest is up to fate.

So much for my goal of a weekly daylog.

I had the strangest dream last night. I was in a spaceship, floating out in space. Deep space. Like 'billions of miles from any galaxy' space. The spaceship was essentially a big white bubble of some plasticlike material surrounded by an even bigger clear bubble, so that standing anywhere outside the white bubble, one was able to see the endless blackness punctuated only be the glimmering of those very distant galaxies. It was utterly desolate, seemingly far from anywhere anybody would want or need to go, but perhaps a wayspot on a journey between galaxies. As I walked around the white bubble, I saw a spotlight shining on my very elderly grandfather, sitting there in a chair under a blanket, gazing outward. I tried to speak to him, but he seemed not to hear.

I found a doorway and went inside the white bubble. There was a room there, a big ornate bedroom with a big four-post bed, all in red satin. There was a woman. She was naked, and stunning. She beckoned to me. I took a step towards her.

Sadly, that's all I remember of it.

So, in lieu of erotic recollections, here is my progress (yes, it is still going on) in node auditing the last four 'big list' ironnoders....

mauler is done!! Set my guns to it and powered through the rest of those nodes, learning a good bit about baseball and Japanese names along the way. And then there were three....

Glowing Fish -- on page 23 out of 31.... last time I updated I was on 20 out of 30, so in the interim I've gone through 3 pages of G-Fish while he's added a page himself!!
Tem42 -- on page 15 out of 35
The Custodian -- on page 20 out of 39 -- barely at the halfway mark....

So I'm going through them in order of least total number. More or less. Going through them page by page is almost time-travel-like, as there are sudden spurts of nodes about the then-developing War in Afghanistan, September 11, and other historical bywords.


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