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Our Alter Egos
Our Alter Egos (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

I don't know if I mentioned it here, but I've started a new blog.  I share this one with Glinda North, and it's called "Those 2 Nice Girls Next Door."  Why?  It's a complex story and has to do with the things we talked about when we were contemplating our move, searching for a house and all the rest.  We joked that people would probably not remember our names and would call us "Those two nice girls next door" or something similar.  So when we were sitting together having coffee a bit ago, Glinda suggested that we start a blog with that title and talk about our life here.  How we got here, what we think of the arrangement, the house, our lives and so on.  I thought it was a terrific idea and set up a blog, which I'm currently monopolizing because she's been so over-worked lately.  When my quarterly calls start in a week or two, she's going to have to take up some of the slack.  It was her idea after all.  Fair warning: Right now we're obsessed with the garden and probably will be so pretty much through June.  Spring is always our most active time out there, so many of the posts are going to be garden-related.

Amber and Green beaded braceletThe other thing we plan to do is open an Etsy shop with that name.  We're both crafters and it would not only do us good to earn a bit of money, but I think it would be good for us to have that outlet.  (The bracelet to the right is one of mine, I sold it under the name "Belle Epoque Originals.")

We need to clean up the basement first, and set up the Art Box I won.  God knows when that will happen.  There never seems to be enough hours in the day.

I've been working on "Winter Rose" aka, "The Russian Novel" and "The Time Travel Novel."  It's coming along slowly but the characters drag their feet abysmally.  And today I decided that I was going to... not rewrite an old novel, exactly, but revisit it.  Many years ago, around 1980 or so, I wrote a novel called "Cat Tales," and I've been thinking seriously about taking some of the original ideas and developing them into something different.  I won't be reselling an old story, just cannibalizing the best of it to make something new.

The Pantry Project is still ongoing.  I'm not doing as well as I'd hoped I would be by now, but we're eating better and wasting less.  I cook more often and we're eating less meat and ordering out less.  I can't expect habits to change overnight or even in a year, really.  Not when they're this ingrained. I want to get back to trying new things.  Tonight we had Hasselback potatoes for the first time.  They were very successful, though the mess in the baking dish is scary.  And a trip to a new Sur la Table store on Saturday ended with me buying avocado oil for our salads.  We are trying new things.

The cats are great.  Leo is having a lot of asthma problems since I started using a supposedly asthma-friendly clay litter, so we're going back to cedar.  And Peeb seems to be not having a lot of 'sodes since I plugged in the Feliway. I don't think to ask for miracles.

So... new and old, and old made new again.  We work with what life gives us.

 

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First big news is that I’ve sold a novella to Dreamspinner Press.  The title is “The Vampyre’s Revenge” and here’s a little teaser for you:

Frank went out one night to pick up a pizza and came home a vampire. It wasn’t what he’d imagined. He’d assumed vampires would be scarier, like the ones on Buffy with their game faces and all. But the vampire who turned him was Mrs. Carlson, his sweet-faced, elderly landlady who lived downstairs, grew roses and fed stray cats.

That night, as he was on his way up the stairs, she stopped him and said she thought there was a cat in the garden who was hurt and would he please help her? And then she’d lured him out to the old garden shed where she’d said “I’m terribly sorry to do this to you, Franklin, but I’m afraid I need to drink a little bit of your blood.” Then she’d held him down, this tiny little white-haired lady who looked like his grandmother, and she’d bitten his neck and drunk his blood.

When she finished, she wiped her mouth on a red-flowered handkerchief (“The blood doesn’t show as much.”) she’d had tucked down the front of her plaid house dress and said “Thank you, dear. Now you won’t tell anyone about this, will you?” Then she patted his cheek.

“Is that it?” Frank asked as he followed her out of the shed. He didn’t even feel much different. A little weak, but otherwise unchanged.

“Is what it?”

“Well, I thought there’d be more to someone drinking my blood.”

“Really? Like what?”

“I don’t know… that you’d be scarier or I’d feel different. Or you’d get all young-looking after you fed.”

Mrs. Carlson laughed. “Franklin, how long have you known me? I’m an old woman. “She shook her head. “Why don’t you come in the house and I’ll give you some tea; you’ll feel better after a nice cup of hot tea. Bring your pizza along, will you? It smelled awfully good and I always get a bit peckish after feeding.” Frank didn’t know if he found that funny or not.

I’m pretty juiced about it.  It should be coming out in late winter/early spring.  I’ll post more details when I know them.

Souvenir de Malmaison

Souvenir de Malmaison (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

Also, I finally got the rose I’d been coveting for decades now.  The name is “Souvenir de Malmaison” and it’s a very old Bourbon rose with a heavenly scent.  Stories about the rose vary from source to source.  I’ve heard it said that it was Josephine de Beauharnais‘ (The Empress, Josephine, the “godmother of modern roseomaniacs” ) favorite rose, and also heard it said that it was only named after her rose garden at Malmaison.  This information comes from A Guide to Antique Roses:

“Originally known as ‘Queen of Beauty and Fragrance’ this rose received its present name when one of the Grand Dukes of Russia obtained a specimen from the gardens at Malmaison for the Imperial Garden in St. Petersburg. ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ produces large, flat, quartered blossoms with petals of pale, almost flesh colored pink, and a delightful fragrance. The compact bush rarely grows more than three feet, seemingly spending all its energy on blooming rather than growing.”

Français : portrait (inachevé?) de Josephine d...

Français : portrait (inachevé?) de Josephine de Beauharnais par Prud’hon, situé à la Malmaison (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In keeping with our habit of giving our roses names, we’ve named this one “Josephine” in honor of the woman who is her godmother in spirit if not in fact.

The Japanese beetle adult--an attractive pest....

Alas, all is not mazel in Roselandia. Glinda noticed that Therese was being chewed, and this afternoon I discovered the culprit, a gorgeous, golden Japanese beetle.  I confess I dispatched him as quickly as I could, but hopes for an easy fix were dashed when I read about their mating habits.  So it’s milky spore and nematodes for us in the spring, and a couple of beetle traps for us now.  I put up with a lot in the interest of having a welcoming garden for our bees, butterflies, birds, etc., but I will not have my roses eaten, even if the diner is as handsome as the bug I picked off of Therese today.

Ornamental Chives

Ornamental Chives (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

Karen rose

Karen rose (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

Our Alter Egos

Our Alter Egos (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

 

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Me, Ashley and a potato, about 1990

Me, Ashley and a potato

Temperature is headed back up so I made an executive decision that tonight’s dinner is going to be new potatoes with dill (steamed in the microwave) and a raw zucchini salad.  Potatoes are washed and ready to cook, zucchini is sliced and salted.  The hardest thing I’ll have to do is go out and snip some dill from the garden.  What a trial! The Dover sole is going to have to wait until I feel like baking or sauteing it.  But it’s no big, Glinda and I can make a meal out of veggies very happily.  And there will be dessert.  And wine.

Cover of "People Will Talk"

Cover of People Will Talk

So just now I was having some lunch and I managed to forget that I’d already opened my can of V8.  As I picked it up, I shook it.  Yeah.  Now in my defense I have to say that I’m still a little groggy.  I had a nap earlier, during which I had one of the oddest dreams ever.  I’d been watching “People Will Talk” which is easily my favorite Cary Grant film, and fell asleep with it on. So I started dreaming that I was watching a favorite TV show and that they were doing a salute to this film by using the dialogue over the show’s action.  But the show itself was about a married couple both of whom needed CPAP machines, and who went out to buy them at a clothing store, where the wife was trying on cocktail dresses.  I know what you’re going to say. Don’t bother.  My friends tell me all the time that it’s a really strange country inside my head, and days like this I believe them.

Changing direction now, I have to report that I put some of the blue toilet bowl cakes out in the garden yesterday and I checked four or five times during the evening, but didn’t see any rats.  This doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but it made me happy, even though the entire garden (and my back hallway which is where the rest of the tablets are right now) smells vaguely like a gas station bathroom.  For those of you just tuning in, toilet bowl tablets are offensive to rats, apparently.  I got that piece of information from one of the Streets and San people who were here to bait the alley a couple of weeks ago.

I also learned that vitamin D3 will kill rats.  It gives them heart attacks, according to the gal who talked about it on EveryBlock.  I’m not exactly sanguine about giving rats heart attacks, but I’d rather it was something relatively fast than the slow, icky death from the bait they use.  I asked her about other animals and she said it only does that to rats and bats, but I do know that D is a vitamin that builds up in the system and can cause harm even to humans.  I’ll have to give this more thought.  She also said that lime will kill them.  Again with the “who knew?”  Considering that a case of the plague just showed up in Oregon, I think caution really is called for.  Be careful out there.

And now I need to get back to Anna Magdalena which is chugging away in directions unexpected.  I’m terribly pleased.

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Tracy Rowan

August 2013

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