"I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing." ~ Dame Agatha Christie

Monday, March 22, 2010

Clean my Clothes with Fruit?

I can't describe how absolutely cool this whole idea is!  Hop over to one of my favorite green blogs, Easy Eco-To-Go and check out her results when she tried Soap Nuts for washing clothes.  I don't like static but I hate the cost of fabric softener, so I have been using white vinegar.  It's fairly effective (usually) and no, my clothes don't smell like vinegar, but the softness factor lessens a bit with each wash.  My other laundry issue is ensuring I purchase detergent when I have a ride because small, easy-to-carry bottles/boxes are even more expensive per ounce, and large containers are heavy and/or bulky.  So, when I saw this, I immediately went over to the Laundry Tree site and started reading.  Doggone it, I had just yesterday purchased (more expensively!) a bottle of lavender essential oil and a bottle of tea tree oil, or they would be added to my starter kit order.  As it is, I am trying the energy blend essential oil and will be back at a later date with my results.  I am not asking the company for samples and I am not telling them I will be posting my review on my blog.  This will simply be a blind test based on my never-ending search for organic, non-petroleum-based, "green" products for my life.  If you decide to check out Julia's blog post about Laundry Tree, will you please tell her I sent you?  Thanks!

Marvelous Mail on Monday

Look what wonders I got in the mail today!

My friend Beverly over at GottHeartArt mailed me this great card (she does awesome work--she's been published in both the April 2010 edition of Scrap and Stamp Arts and the Spring 2010 issue of Just Cards!)...it is wonderful to receive any mail at all that does not pertain to business, but to open the mailbox and find a handcrafted card made especially to lift your spirits?  Man, that is a Marvelous Mail Day!  (If you want to know the particulars about the stamp, papers, etc., her challenge post about this card is here).
I have been having a bit of a time with certain scenes in "Don't Trust the Rain", but this gem of a card and the sentiment behind it is the encouragement I needed to move past this rough spot and continue the tale.  Once more, I have been reminded to put the words on the paper now and edit the dross away later--just keep seeking the end of the story  ;-)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green Isn't Just for St. Patrick's Day

I just finished watching No Impact Man (I hope to find a used copy of the book soon) and yes, I watched thru a non-green source as I have a subscription to Netflix (I choose renting over borrowing but haven't given up on media yet LOL).  As green as I try to live, some of their experiences will not be copied by me.  For one, I cannot give up electricity as I work from home.  But I can give up electricity for an hour--and will do so quite willingly on March 27 at 8:30.  After getting my electric bill today and seeing what heating this apartment did these past two winter months, I am seriously looking for ways to cut energy use yet further.

Having my water heater drained and cleaned out by the apartment complex is on the list.  Making sure that it can work efficiently is important (here is a great PDF of how to drain your own water heater).  Actually, I missed how they handled the hot water issue in the documentary (maybe I need to watch again), but I enjoyed seeing them do laundry in the bathtub by stomping it (think Lucy Ricardo stomping grapes in the vintage "I Love Lucy" episode).  Unfortunately, I did not enjoy it enough to do all my laundry that way LOL.

I already use public transportation or walk and as my friends can attest, there is no elevator to my second floor apartment ;-)  I have thought about a three-wheel bike, but there is no place to park it here and frankly, Texas drivers aren't as friendly to bike riders as they could be...

My composting experiment has proven--at least to me--that an apartment dweller in Texas can compost on their back porch slowly but surely.  All food scraps (excluding meat and dairy) for two years have composted into a single 18-gallon plastic tub.  No flies (even in Texas!) but I never could find a local source for red wigglers so this was done without vermicomposting.  For "brown" material to mix into the compost, I simply used the contents of my shredder each time it filled.  Not a bit of this was scientific, but it has worked.

We've already discussed my toilet paper experiment (BTW, I still have half a case of the Marcal and twelve rolls of the Office Depot paper) and for 2010, I just may keep toilet paper around for my guests only.

All in all, as I write this and watch the History International "Irish In America" special, my form of "wearin' of the green" this year has taken the form of "livin' more green".

This has not been a particularly articulate post--I'm knee-deep in TGAN research (Louisiana Native American culture is this week's focus), and I don't celebrate St. Patrick's Day per se ever since we buried my mom on March 17, 1988, but I felt the need to post something here today.

Come join those of us who will work or play by candlelight for an hour on March 27 at 8:30 PM local time...and I promise a better post next time ;-)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Plots that Simply Plod Along

"Don't Trust the Rain" did not start out to be a historical mystery--it began as historical fiction with a time-travel twist.  My characters are now in New Orleans in 1862 and they have survived the time warp that sent them there. They are scattered and need to be reunited.

On the surface, it sounds like I have made lots of progress--and I did with one group of characters.  The second group are being stubborn.  They simply want to plod along aimlessly and aimlessness is boring!  (And if you think it is boring to read, try writing it LOL).

So, I need to prod these folks into some action and add some excitement and period color into their journey.  That is sending me back into the realms of research.  I love researching history, and as an old geezer who learned to use printed encyclopedias and card catalogs, I'm loving the ability to research on the Internet in my pajamas at home ;-)

Speaking of research, I cannot write enough praise for Kathy Lynn Emerson's How To Write Killer Historical Mysteries.  She writes some of my favorite mystery series, and this book is an outstanding guide for all historical fiction writers (just skip the genre-specific parts).

So, when counting my 250 daily words for the next week or so, they may easily be hand-written words noting clothing and building structure and timelines and foodstuffs and communication and transportation--well, you get the drift.  Lots of notes with lots of diagrams linking those notes into some semblance of colourful plot.

Do I need to add a murder to excite my characters?  Or perhaps a theft?  I have no problem writing violent acts if necessary and some planned scenes exist in outline form between Confederates and Unionists (it is early in the Civil War after all), but I am not a reader who enjoys violence for the sake of violence or sexual assaults simply to advance the action in the book.  If I don't like to read it, I certainly refuse to write it.  Other means must be found to make my reader want to turn the page ;-)

Writing is fun.  Researching is even more fun.  Forcing characters into action can be work...