Sunday, May 3, 2015

Raised Bed Potting Bench

We built some raised beds about 12 or so years ago, and they've done well for us other the years. When they started falling apart, we moved them and repurposed them.  But they finally got so rotten that it was time to tear them out completely.

In this picture you can see what's left of the right-hand box. The left one is already torn out (it fell apart in my hands, no need for tools). The compost area is at the top of the picture, spilling over into the box zone. And though it's hard to see in the picture, the boxes are riddled with tree roots from the neighbor's yard, rendering them useless for planting..

And it's because of those roots that we're trying this type of raised bed:

I built it this morning. Didn't use as much scrap lumber as I wanted to, but if/when I build the second one, I'll be able to build the whole thing without buying any more lumber...

It's 32" high, 21" deep, and 48" wide. It weighs way too much...

I still need to get some lag screws for the sides to help keep it together, but that's about it. We probably won't even bother treating the outside. It's made out of the same stuff as the original boxes, and those lasted more than a decade.

Monday, December 29, 2014


I'm really looking forward to 2015. Not that 2014 wasn't great -- it was fantastic.

But I have so much optimism for this year, so much enthusiasm.

I've talked before about "making no small plans" -- this year I'm going to be embracing change. I'm keeping my options open, career-wise. Whether I stay where I'm currently working or move along to a new job, I'll look to do something new, maybe get slightly out of my comfort zone.

I'd like to also focus on collaboration. I know so many talented and intelligent people. They inspire me creatively and they motivate me. I want to work more with those people. I want to surround myself with them.

I'm hoping to do some collaborative writing or other projects. I want to work with the people I know and trust and respect.

Maybe it's just the 5th day of vacation talking, but I sense so much potential headed my way, it's hard to not be excited.

What about you? Looking forward to this year? Got a project you want help with? Feeling inspired? What do you hope to accomplish or get out of this year?

Writing Updates

I've been working on Tin here and there over the last few weeks, but I haven't made a ton of progress yet. I feel I know what the story needs; now I just have to sit down and make it happen. Will have to order a new keyboard for home as this little one hurts my wrists too much to do sustained writing.

For the Jute series, I put the first book up for free on Amazon kindle and thanks to the kind folks at BookSends, about 1400 people downloaded a copy.

I put the other two books in the series on sale as well, and have sold a handful of copies as a result. That's fantastic, as the sales had all but dried up. No, still not making any actual money, but I like knowing that I wrote something that people out there actually read, even if it didn't make me rich.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Project Tin: New Tool

As I mentioned before, I'll be using a new toolset this time around. For the Jute books, I used a combination of:

  • TextPad (wrote in textpad for nanowrimo)
  • MS Word (for the CreateSpace template)
  • Calibre (ebook conversion)
  • Hired out the cover art
This time, I'm replacing MS Word and Calibre with Scrivner. Or at least, that's the plan.

The chapters and scenes entered into Scrivner
Nanowrimo is a fairly large event and various companies offering software and services try to capitalize on its popularity by offering discounts and trials. I used the trial version of Scrivner and then decided to buy it via the 40% discount code "awarded" to nanowrimo entrants. (and probably everyone else on the planet).

I'm still going to need to hire out the cover work, but I'm hoping to just use one tool for creating the print and ebook formats. I wrote the original 50k word draft in TextPad for nanowrimo again, but I immediately put it into Scrivner.

I've only just begun with Scrivner. I've gone through the onboard tutorial and got my story in the tool (though I'm sure I'm already doing things wrong!). I'm not bothering with "character" sheets at the moment, but I might later on. This version of the novel is rough --there's a lot to do and fix.

And I'll outline some of those next time!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Project Kickoff: New Book

My last foray into self-publishing went okay for a first time author. I sold a few hundred copies, the book was generally well-liked and well-reviewed, and I learned a LOT.

Which is good because I've got a list of things that I will change or do differently this time around.

First, and most importantly, I'm going to aim for a broader audience. My first three books were aimed at the "Middle Grade" age range.

This time around I'll aim for a more general audience. I'm still writing fiction, science fiction to be exact. It will likely be a larger book, broken into three smaller pieces. I will likely publish them separately at first, and maybe together as one unit if/when I get all three finished. I'm aiming for 50k - 65k words per part.

The first book is called:

Tin: a World of Dust and Glass Story

(well, that's the working title anyway)

Next time: new tools!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Catching Up and Moving Forward

First, catching up...

The leghorn is 9 months old and still hasn't laid a single egg...

The old kitchen cabinet -> bar project stalled out while we waited for a relative to do the sheetmetal work. That just proved we should do it ourselves if we ever get in a hurry.

The final tallies from the garden were interesting. We had green beans, bell peppers, and cucumbers by the armload. Tomatoes and tomatillos and pumpkins were a complete bust.

Moving Forward

I got re-energized about writing fiction while participating in this year's nanowrimo. This year was my tenth, and it was the easiest. Which is surprising only because as recently as mid-October I had no idea what I would write this year.

Then the idea just poured out of me and I wrote about 3k words a day until I finished early on the 24th.

I like the story I wrote enough that I'm going to publish it. And I think that's what I'll spend the rest of the winter blogging about. (you have been warned! ;) )

I am trying a completely different approach this time around, and even the audience for the book will be different. I'll talk more about that stuff next time.

Monday, September 15, 2014


I need to have more patience with things around the house/yard.

That leghorn is 26-ish weeks old and still hasn't started laying. I'm ready to get rid of it, but from what I've read, it can take up to 28 weeks ("or longer" -- whatever that means!). So I need to be more patient.

That big lawn in the back, the one that I've regretted since about 1 year after we put it in? Still there. But we're getting a plan together to rip it out (we are having a drought you know!) since it's nearly dead anyway. See? Patience.

So easy to say, but hard for me to do. With so much success in the garden this year, I think we're both more interested in expanding the garden size and maybe getting a little creative with the layout.

Now I need to be patient and wait for late winter when we'll try to see about getting started...