Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Turn Off That Water, Girl!

Bless her "green" heart, my Gramma Greene never ceases to amaze me. Even nine years after her passing, I can still hear her raspy voice. "Shut that refrigerator door! You're wasting electricity!" I was never allowed to linger inside the fridge, in search of a snack. My bathwater could only be three inches deep. Seriously. We're talking hard-core conservation efforts.

At Gramma's house, dishwater and rinse water were filled in the morning in buckets, which sat in each side of the sink. Cold, murky dishwater that contained food floaters. There was a distinct odor that lingered around the sink, growing stronger as the day progressed. Every night, along with the coffee grounds and egg shells, the dishwater and rinse water buckets would be taken outside to use in the garden.

As a young girl, the buckets in the sink, especially the dishwater, made me gag. Lucky for me, Gramma always washed the dishes, so my tiny fingers never really had to touch the water. I just scraped the dish, and tossed it in the bucket. The only thought that ever crossed my mind was, that must be an old-fashioned thing to.

Never, in a million years, did I ever realize that Gramma was practicing the ever-so trendy, recycle, reuse, and renew technique! Gramma Greene was truly green back in the day!

With the sudden onset of the absolute worst drought I've ever lived through, I have succumbed to Gramma's practices. I'm filling dishwater (in the morning) in a bucket in the sink (despite the crinkled noses of not only my daughters, but my husband), and reusing the water to give my plants a drink in the evenings.

It feels familiar and good, and I can almost feel Gramma there with me, walking around the garden, distributing the water. The once, foul scent, has become as pleasant as being acquainted with an old friend, bringing a smile to this gardener's face.

I can close my eyes as I pass the sink, inhaling the familiar scent, and hear Gramma's raspy, nagging voice, "Tsk! Turn off that water, girl! As your great grandmother Phipps would say, waste not, want not!"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Liebster Blog Award and The Platform Building Campaign

Fellow blogger, tweeter, She Writer, and author, Angelina C. Hansen Angelina C. Hansen selected me and four other writers for the Liebster Blog Award this week! Thanks, Angelina! What an honor!

Rachael Harrie's Platform Building Campaign

I also signed up for the Platform Building Campaign on Rachael Harrie's blog Rach Writes . It's a wonderful opportunity for any blogger / writer / author who has the desire to build their online presence, and connect with like-minded peeps. Can't wait to get started! Join in the fun!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Roses and Their Preferred pH Level

Roses do best in a soil with a pH at about 6.0 to 6.5. This is because important nutrients are most available to a rose at this level of acidity. The soil in my area is generally alkaline. To make matters worse for the roses, our well water contains a high pH level. The result adds further to the alkalinity issue in the soil. Our pH level in the soil and ground water varies slightly, but it averages from a high 7 to an 8.

I'm not a science buff, just a simple gardener. It doesn't take an expert to know that roses do not like a higher pH level. They prefer conditions closer to neutral or slightly acidic.

What's the answer? Well, my first choice would be RAIN, of course. But, seeing as how most of Texas is in an exceptional drought, my second choice is to counter the alkalinity in the soil. Adding sulfur, pine needles, coffee grounds, urea (yuck thought!), and acidic mulches / compost to my rose beds will at least provide acid into the soil, correcting the alkalinity issue to a certain degree.

I like this chart. It shows me the pH level for 
different sources of water. I would rank my well water with the baking soda / sea water box. According to the chart, maybe I should water my roses with milk!

Another option is incorporating more older China roses to my beds. They can tolerate a higher pH level. 

A normal summer in south Texas brings afternoon "pop-up" showers, which can dump an inch of rain in less than an hour. However, nine years ago, my family moved further inland, decreasing the number of coastal showers we receive. Still, south-central Texas usually receives summer showers, but not this year. Rain water is preferred by the roses because it generally has a pH level of neutral to slightly acidic.

At this point, the roses are going to have to settle for what I can give them. The bushes that do not survive, I will replace with Chinas, as they have proved to be the toughest so far. 

My last option is to take out all my roses and replace with West Texas flora, which will most likely not happen. I can't imagine my gardens without roses. The thought makes me pout. I've visited West Texas, and they grow roses right along side of their yucca and agave. If they can do it, I can.

I also need to convince myself that losing a few is nothing to get my britches in a twist over. Just move on. Replant. Improve the soil, plant tougher varieties, and get over it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Comma Queen Misses Not One, But Two

Last week was a writers' contest marathon week for me. I entered four different picture books and one YA excerpt. I was feeling great about my submissions, until, I saw the missing commas in my YA excerpt! Not one, but TWO! Yes, it had already been submitted.

My heart flipped, then crashed to the pit of my stomach. Well, there goes that shot, I thought.Only
a chance to have my work looked over by a New York agent,
no big deal, right?

Have you ever looked at a piece of your own work, until the words just become words? A blob on the page. This probably doesn't make any sense, and I'm slipping into some bizarre writer's funk, but I'd read the excerpt until my eyes blurred, and I only saw black and white.

I handed the 2,000-word excerpt over to my 8th grade daughter, total GT, and self-proclaimed "comma queen". She looked me up and down, as if I was wearing a green polka-dot skirt with a purple striped shirt or something, and went back to editing. She's one tough cookie, I'll give her that.

After we fixed a couple of "tense issues" as she stated, she moved on to my commas. She scribbled, removed commas, added commas, etc. By the time she was finished, I thought, thank goodness I didn't submit it earlier! I sent that baby without a second glance. I just knew all was done.

It was perfect. Well, near perfect, minus two commas! I think between trying to watch a movie, texting her cousins, and editing my work, she was over-taxed. Her attention only spans so far.

So, the 2,000-word excerpt was emailed missing the two commas. I noticed when I bcc'd it to myself, which is something I always do. Next time, I'll send it to myself FIRST, read it over, then send it on to its final destination. How we live and learn.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What's WIPMADNESS You Ask?

I've been invited by Angelina Hansen, a fellow She Writer, to participate in her August goal setting. She calls it Wipmadness. My wip I'll be working on is my non-fic. rose rustling book. I set my sights on writing 20,000 words, but I'd like to write more. That means on average, I have to write about 650 words per day.

What in the heck was I thinking? Well, wish me luck.

Seeing as how it's 5:35 p.m., and August 1st, I better get my rear in gear! :))