3/16/2010

Hoe-Leaning

"There's no shortage of books on how to meditate, but none so far as I know mention hoe-leaning.  Here's how to do it.  While working in the garden, when your muscles become a bit tired or sore, you put the working end of the hoe on the soil, hold the handle near the top with both hands for a bit of a prop, rest it against your shoulder or cheek, and, while supporting some of your weight on the tool and leaning slightly forward, stare off into space or at some part of your garden and don't think.  Then, when you do resume thinking, don't try to force yourself to stop, which is what people who meditate do--just resume hoeing.  Don't let anyone call this laziness; hoe-leaning is a vital gardening chore, equally as important as hoe sharpening." ~ Steve Solomon, Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades
I like this very much.  I intend to incorporate more hoe-leaning into my gardening. And actually sharpen my hoe, for once.

3/14/2010

Prompts and plots

(I was facilitator for our group Writer's Calling last month, and each week I sent out prompts to encourage folks to write.  One week I sent a list of prompts that included writing a piece from the point of view of a dog bed, or the point of view of the first plant to sprout from a seed blown onto a tiny new island.  None of which inspired much response.  When I sat down to respond myself, I had just read a chapter on developing plots.  Anyway, this is my explanation for the response I wrote, as shown below.)
I love this set of quotes that introduce Brigid Lowry's chapter "Plot" in her book, Juicy Writing:
  • The cat sat on the mat. No story. The cat sat on the dog's mat. Story. ~ Anon
  • The king died and then the queen died. Story. The king died and then the queen died of grief. Plot. ~ E.M. Forster
  •  Often I'll find clues to where the story might go by figuring where the characters would rather not go. ~ Doug Lawson
  •  Don't say the old lady screamed - bring her on and let her scream. ~ Mark Twain
Now I have never developed a plot in my whole life, but I do enjoy presenting ideas, situations, episodes. In light of that I present a little something:

The family is fond of mentioning, whenever another piece of stuffing falls out of me, that I was last the bed of a dachshund, that furiousdiggingforbadgers breed, so I suppose it scrabbled a hole in me. But, being a dog bed, I am not privy to my “previous lives” with other dogs. My first memory is of my current Mopsy flopping on me by the hearth here in the family room. Mopsy is an Old English Sheepdog; apparently she was rescued from a place without a dog bed, for she lays upon me whenever in the room, although the family is also fond of pointing out that she very mellow, unlike your typical goofball OES. I’ve learned a great deal about dog breeds from this family, with their voracious appetite for books of all sorts. I guess I’m just fine with being laid on all day, I’m a bed after all, and have no sense of…anything really although I must be able to hear. But I cannot see, or smell, or taste or touch, and I know what those are for I have heard the Child discussing these things.

Right now the Child is near me by the hearth, doing homework and telling Mopsy not to drool. On me. Well, I don’t care, for I will be thrust into the washing machine and hear the thrumming and then into the dryer and hear the other thrumming. It’s a nice change of pace.

The Child is working on a writing prompt; the teacher’s assignment being to write a piece “from the point of view of the first plant to sprout from a seed blown onto a tiny new island.” At first there was muttering about what a stupid prompt this was and why must I do them weekly, blah blah blah, but now there is only the scratching of the pencil and I know that soon Mopsy will be read a story and I will hear it. What a treasure to bestow on an old dog bed!

If you are a writer, my advice to you is, write it down and spread it around. It is much appreciated by someone or something.



3/12/2010

You live in a garden. What will you be? A bluebird? A gnome? A hedgehog? A broken mosaic birdbath?

Dear You,
Rabbits, I can assure you, are nothing like Beatrix Potter’s interpretation. We DO enjoy entering your garden, though. I like yours so much that I have taken up residence here. I won’t tell you where my burrow is, but I do have some things I want to say about this sublime garden that you work so hard on and is so perfect as my home.
I know you have seen me sunning myself in the early evening, cleaning my face and nibbling on grasses and dandelions. I hope you are not plotting a coup to remove me. Rabbits seem to be universally reviled by gardeners, but give pause: I may do you some good. I am an elderly boy, not interested in the ladies, but still territorial, so I will keep other rabbits away, and won’t be littering your garden with kits. My favorite item is the dandelions that keep cropping up here and there, and I do so appreciate the organic approach you take. You are the only one in the area with comfrey, which, while I’m sure you planted it to attract bees, also is very soothing to delicate rabbit tummies. I couldn’t possibly put a dent in the comfrey, it is indestructible. As for the raspberry patch, all I want is a few leaves, and again couldn’t put a dent in your magnificent crop. Digging is enjoyable, but actually unearthing a carrot is a bit much for my old bones. Let’s declare a truce before the war, shall we? You in your sunhat and floral gloves, me with my adorable hippity-hop, we enjoy each other, don’t we? Let’s keep it that way.

Signed,

Ol’Man Wabbit