Wednesday, October 30, 2013

More Crochet

I'm working on more crochet -- small-ish simple bags to hold tins of English toffee we'll make. This pattern is very easy (here's my project on

I can do a bag in an evening while watching TV or just sitting on the couch chatting. There are two more not shown in the picture, and also a scarf I managed to finish. I'm almost out of yarn though, so I'll get/have to head back to the yarn store soon.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Windy Night

  Last night around 10PM we had a big windstorm hit and it knocked out the power to our area.

At first, I was a bit put out -- I was missing a television show I wanted to watch, and how would I check my email again before bed if the router was down?

But, once we found the flashlights, my wife and I stopped to listen to the wind. Instantly I felt relaxed. We had just put flannel sheets on the bed so we climbed in and I know it sounds cliche', but I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Best night of sleep I'd had in months!

In other news, I spent about 10 hours this weekend crocheting some items for gifts around the holidays as we've decided to try to make as many gifts as we can. We can afford to buy presents, but the older I get the more I feel like that's the wrong approach. I know that personally, things mean more to me when they're something that's given from the heart and not just the Amazon wish list.

Also, I took a trip to New England and so I brought my camera, hoping for some nice leaf shots. But alas, the leaves were not cooperating. I ended up getting just a few so-so shots (but the trip itself was wonderful).

When I got home, I put my suitcase up on the bench by the front door while I fumbled for my key. And of course my suitcase fell off the bench and when I got in the house I realized my trusty and well-loved 50mm 1.8 lens had broken when the bag fell.

I looked through my photostream and realized that I used that lens for over 90% of the photos I've posted. Luckily it's relatively cheap, compared to most lenses.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tough Sledding: Book Promotion

Well, one thing I'm learning is that there really isn't any easy way to get your self-published book to sell itself. You have to do the work or it doesn't happen. And part of what you need is reviews on sites like Amazon. People are more willing to buy books other people have read, and liked.

When I published the first Jute book, I sent the following email to about 20 people I know. Feel free to read it, but the gist is that I asked for a review on Amazon in exchange for a favor I'd owe as well as an offer to "pay it forward" - where I would volunteer one hour for each review over 10 that I received. I'm up to _7_ reviews, so maybe I will end up doing some community service soon. Fingers crossed!


As you may know, I've been writing novels for a while* as part of National Novel Writing Month - or nanowrimo. What you may not know is that I've finally gotten around to publishing one of them. And if you're reading this, you helped me at some point along the way. Maybe it was a kind word, maybe it was inspiration. Maybe you read a draft, offered advice, or wrote something that I found helpful. Maybe you replied to an email, answered the phone, visited my blog, or shot me a friendly smile when I needed one.

Yes, I finally published the first of the three Jute books I wrote for my daughters. It's aimed at kids in 4th - 8th grade, especially the smart ones.

I published it first for Kindle and in paperback up on Amazon.

BUT! I'm not writing to ask you to buy it.**

Rather, even though you've already done so much for me, I'm writing today to ask a favor.

A friend and self-published author gave me some advice. He said that the key to success at my level is to get as many reviews on Amazon as possible. That's what helps get the ball rolling. And a good first goal is ten reviews. They don't all have to be 5 stars but hopefully there aren't any at 1 star either...

So I'm writing to you to ask if you might want to review the book. No pressure! If you're busy or not interested, or didn't like the draft you read I completely understand. You're still awesome and I still thank you for everything you have done for me. Seriously, thank you so much!

And if you do have time to post a review at Amazon (or elsewhere!) I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you want a review copy, let me know and I'll send you one. This means so much to me. Also, you look great today!

But that's not all. How could it be? Your time and energy is valuable. It has weight and heft. It's not like you just go throwing that stuff about willy-nilly! And if you're willing to help me push forward... If you're willing to shove me out of the comfort of my nest, baby bird style, so I can learn to fly... If you're willing to lend me your hand, I will do my best to repay you.

I will owe you a favor.

Maybe you need a dog walked? Maybe you need a recommendation? Maybe you need help out in the yard. That lawn need mowin'? I'm your guy. Need someone to proofread something you're writing? You got it. Need a lift to work? Or home from a bar/restaurant/party/etc.? Done. And if I can't be there in person to help you, I'll do what I can from here via the magic of the Internet. Likes? Retweets? By the bucketload! Back your Kickstarter? Backed!

But wait. Sure, there's a little something in it for you and for me. But now you're thinking bigger. Now you're asking "What's in it for everyone else, Garrett? What's in it for humanity?"

Want me to pay it forward? I can do that!

I will donate one hour of my time to a charity (Second Harvest Food bank, for example) for each review I get. That's right, I'm putting my money where my mouth/Internet ravings is/are. I'll cap it at 40 hours (ha!) for now, and I'll post/blog/whatever about what I do so you can have a little extra bounce in your step knowing you helped the needy just by posting a quick review on Amazon.

So, let's recap. I published a book. You helped me before, somehow. I'm asking for a bit more help, and in return, I'm offering:

 - My sincere thanks!
 - A favor to be named by you and repaid later (but within reason/bounds of law/etc.)...
 - Hours of my time donated to charity for the betterment of humankind!

* Since 2005
** I mean, I wouldn't try to talk you out of it or anything...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Halloween Harvest

So we ended up doing rather well with the improvised pumpkin patch. Here they are in all their green and orange glory:

The corn was a bust. Alas.

The cucumbers continue to produce, as do the lime trees. We have a ton of mint, too. Seems there should be a cucumber/lime/mint dish out there somewhere...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

DIY Halloween Headstone

I had just enough time to make a quick Halloween decoration today:

I mixed equal parts portland cement, peat moss, and perlite (yes, not the healthiest/friendliest ingredients) with some water and put it into a form I made for this purpose several years ago:

Then I added in some rebar bits I had and in a few hours we'll carve a few details (maybe some scrollwork? Maybe a silly name like: Brainzar Tastee or whatever). This mixture makes a very lightweight cement.

We have about 5 or 6 of these and they're great because of light they are. The rebar works great for standing them up in the yard.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

PROJECT: "Tree" House 07

Work on the treehouse is on hold until the pumpkins have died back. The vines have grown all around, under, and even into the treehouse and in order to avoid squishing them before the pumpkins are ready to be picked, we're going to leave things alone.

The powdery mildew always gets the pumpkins, and it's really begun to take its toll. I think there's enough left of the plants for the pumpkins to finish, so we may be back in the treehouse/fort sooner than I expected.