Creepy Crawlies (again)

Three times in two days an intruder has dared to enter our house. I know it’s ‘that’ time of the year again, but still, I thought I’d made it clear last spring that inside is MY domain. I expect creepy crawlies to stay outside. Suffice to say, those three are no longer around to make a comeback next year!

To explain my aversion, here’s a peek at what I wrote last time there was a similar encounter…

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A proficient gardener I’m not, but I love to putter around in the yard. I meander through the flower beds on a regular basis, hauling the hose along to water needy plants, discovering what’s new, deadheading depleted blossoms and, yes, (shudder) occasionally encountering miniature wildlife.

I’m not a big fan of bugs, but I accept that they serve a purpose in nature. In their place I tolerate them. In my place, I do not. Anyone who spends time in my household will know that a shrieked “Spider alert!” requires an immediate response. I can’t tear myself away from spotter duty long enough to fetch a shoe or tissue, because, after all, during even the briefest gap in my attention the spider might creep away.  It would be out of sight but definitely not out of mind. I’d know he was still there somewhere, a lurking intruder just waiting to leap out and startle me again.

Unfortunately there’s a no-man’s-land between the garden and the house that the bugs and I both insist on claiming as our own — the back deck.

 

It’s my favourite summertime location, quiet and distraction free; the perfect spot when I need a fresh writing environment. I am not amused, however, when a spider glides down his silken guywire and suddenly lands on my keyboard! Talk about a plot interruption! Maybe writing indoors is a better option. But I resent being chased away. After all, this is a structure attached to the house, so it’s my space.

“Ah,” leers the eight-legged creepy crawly, “but it’s out here with the flowers and fresh air. It’s my space.” Deadlock.

I compromise and knock him off my laptop. Watching him scurry to the edge of the deck I’m satisfied that he’s still out there somewhere, just not on me, my laptop or my lounge chair. I have asserted my authority. They are mine!

~

How do you feel about trespassing arachnids? Have you ever put your characters into situations where they have to deal with arachnophobia? Or any other kind of phobia? What did they learn during the experience?

~

“That’s what happens to all who forget God—
    all their hopes come to nothing.
They hang their life from one thin thread,
    they hitch their fate to a spider web.
One jiggle and the thread breaks,
    one jab and the web collapses.”

[Job 8:14-15, MSG]

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Getting the upper hand (or maybe not)

No writing analogy today, just a springtime reflection from my photo journal.

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Sunshine spills over the trees to lighten the gardens with a citron glow. Springtime colours smile in mossy lawns, tiny new alder leaves and an abundance of forget-me-nots, violets and periwinkle blooms.

Every spring I rave about the multitude of greens in nature…  and every spring my hubby mutters about the quantity of moss in the lawn!

The surrounding trees keep much of our property in heavy shade. The moss flourishes and in the spring my hubby dutifully power-rakes the lawns to pull out the winter’s accumulation, then collects it with the lawn tractor. Even with the machines’ help, it’s labour-intensive and takes a few days, doing one section at a time. He fertilizes to encourage the remaining grass, and adds lime to deter the return of the moss, but it’s a battle nature usually wins.

One of the neighbours questions our annual dedication to this effort, and wonders why we don’t just let the moss take over. “After all,” she says, “it’s soft under foot, green, and requires no watering or cutting.”

She’s right, of course, but as much as I love living rurally, after years of being a city gal I still need a little ‘citification’ around me… a bit of what my hubby calls “decency and order,” to offset the wildness that constantly encroaches from the surrounding woods.

Besides, there’s still more than enough moss around to keep us aware that it always has the upper hand.

~

Do you keep a tidy lawn, or are you content to share your green space with moss and other weedy intruders? It’s okay, you can be honest. For all our efforts we’ve never come close to achieving the ‘golf course’ look! Since we’re on a well, we don’t bother to water during the summer either, so the grass is never a thing of beauty.

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Feathers and Friends: a Comparison

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Feathery bursts of colour, delicate clouds of white, pink and red, punctuate the mostly green garden beds in our back yard. Whether you call it false spirea, meadowsweet, false goat’s beard or astilbe, this hardy perennial is one of my favourites. The plumes rise above lacy, fern-like leaves and last for several weeks, still attractive even after they’ve faded.

Astilbe plants wave below the evergreens and cozy up to our hostas, hydrangeas, and rhododendrons without the slightest objection to the soil conditions, which I admit are less than ideal. And although the plants appear fragile, the stalks are sturdy and not easily knocked over by our dog when he happens to romp through the garden bed, as he frequently does.

They resemble some of my friends – beautiful, uncomplaining, sometimes appearing fragile, but strong and enduring despite adversity, because their faith is well rooted. Overshadowed by towering challenges or concealed amid the mundane, they continue to offer what they have — living out the fruits of the spirit — wherever they are planted.

~  ~  ~

For those of you called to cope with challenging obstacles today (Marcia, Joel, Jennifer and Billy), my prayer is that the strength of the Lord will help you endure and overcome.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 4:6-7]

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A Snow Queen Greets Summer

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I didn’t really expect it, but summer arrived here yesterday, both on the calendar and in reality. The sun shone for the first time in a week and the temperature shot up from 12 to 27 degrees C. I was tempted to complain about the heat, but prudently decided to refrain.

During the cool wet spring rhododendrons and lilacs still bloomed, albeit half-heartedly, their soaked and drooping heads dripping onto hosta leaves below. Bluebells showed colour, nodded briefly, then fell flat in the rains. Through several wet weeks iris leaves continued to spike upward, and then today it happened. Moments after 10:00 a.m., just as summer officially began, the first waxy iris bud opened. Perfect timing!

 

I love these flowers! The sturdy Siberian Iris “Snow Queen” was one of the first things I planted when we moved here fifteen years ago, and I have divided the original clump several times. A few of the lovely old papery Bearded Irises are scattered throughout our flowerbeds, too, but they never do as well in the heavy shade imposed by towering cedars and hemlock trees. They lean precariously toward the sun’s rays until they end up stretched out in obeisance on the ground. The Siberian irises prefer sun, too, but aren’t deterred by shade.

There is something pristine about the pure white falls and their sun-kissed throats. And when everything else is bedraggled and struggling, this first stubbornly upright iris bloom makes me smile.

 “Consider the lilies (irises?) of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.

[Matthew 6:28b-29]

Welcome to summertime, everyone!

~

Be sure to join me here on Friday for an interview with author Joylene Nowell Butler
marking the launch of her second novel, Broken But Not Dead. 

~

Methods of Revising and Weeding

“Well, aren’t you just a busy little bee,” my neighbour exclaimed when she discovered me in the garden.

Personally, I didn’t think I was working very hard as I reached down to tug at a bit of creeping buttercup. This kind of weeding is something I do without much effort. If I’m wandering through the yard with a coffee cup or camera in hand and discover an errant fern peeking through where it doesn’t belong, or chickweed growing in the gravel path, it only takes a second to stoop and pluck it out. That’s so much easier than ignoring the weeds for several weeks and then labouring for hours at a time to remove them all.

I’m really not a busy bee by nature. I suppose if I loved weeding it wouldn’t matter one way or the other but, truth is, after the initial spring cleanup I just want to enjoy the sight of a tidy flowerbed, not live in it.

And maybe if I had the same attitude about manuscript revisions I wouldn’t still be immersed in this rip-it-apart-and-fix-everything-yet-again process. I’d be tweaking, pulling out the odd weak verb and enjoying the accomplishment of another finished novel. As it is, I’m still wandering through a waist-high weed field.

How do you tackle revisions? Is it one major endeavour or a series of unending tweaks and tugs?

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The Banana Belt Goes South for the Winter

I’ve been gardening this afternoon. Yes, I know it’s mid-December, but with snapdragons and chrysanthemums only now beginning to look pathetic, a sunny and relatively mild day here in southwestern B.C. couldn’t be wasted.

 

The last bit of my pre-winter yard work is finally done, and just in time. I’m told snow is in the forecast for this weekend. Soon everything green will be lost beneath a crisp layer of white. Weeds will become invisible and the drive to eradicate them will temporarily abate. Winter is when gardeners are supposed to relax but it’s really just the hiatus between putting down the cultivator and picking up the seed catalogues.

 

While it may get too late for working in the garden beds it’ll never be too soon to start planning for what to plant in them next year!

Creepy Crawlies

 A proficient gardener I’m not, but I love to putter around in the yard. I meander through the flower beds on a regular basis, hauling the hose along to water needy plants, discovering what’s new, deadheading depleted blossoms and, yes, (shudder) occasionally encountering miniature wildlife.

 

I’m not a big fan of bugs, but I accept that they serve a purpose in nature. In their place I tolerate them. In my place, I do not. Anyone who spends time in my household will know that a shrieked “Spider alert!” requires an immediate response. I can’t tear myself away from spotter duty long enough to fetch a shoe or tissue, because, after all, during even the briefest gap in my attention the spider might creep away.  It would be out of sight but definitely not out of mind. I’d know he was still there somewhere, a lurking intruder just waiting to leap out and startle me again.

 

Unfortunately there’s a no-man’s-land between the garden and the house that the bugs and I both insist on claiming as our own — the back deck.

   

 

It’s my favourite summertime location, quiet and distraction free; the perfect spot when I need a fresh writing environment. I am not amused, however, when a spider glides down his silken guywire and suddenly lands on my keyboard! Talk about a plot interruption! Maybe writing indoors is a better option. But I resent being chased away. After all, this is a structure attached to the house, so it’s my space.

 

“Ah,” leers the eight-legged creepy crawly, “but it’s out here with the flowers and fresh air. It’s my space.” Deadlock.

 

I compromise and knock him off my laptop. Watching him scurry to the edge of the deck I’m satisfied that he’s still out there somewhere, just not on me, my laptop or my lounge chair. I have asserted my authority. They are mine!