April 23rd, 2011


Friday Plant Workshop

We had fun at the plant workshop today.  Several members of the presenter's family were also there -- after a five-hour drive.  I love seeing that kind of family support; it's not as common these days.  Oh, and my book From Nature's Patient Hands is filed in the library now.

The presentation started with invasive plants.  One new to me was garlic mustard.  Also bush honeysuckles have gone from "vigorous" to "invasive" listing.  Le sigh.  We've no way to replace the honeysuckle hedge at present, but I'll stop letting them volunteer in the yard.  I was also horrified  to learn that kudzu has made its way into Illinois and is creeping northwards towards this vicinity.  The benighted stuff is hardy to zone 7, 6, or 5 depending what source you consult; we used to be 5b but are now 6a.  What, it's not enough that climate change brings me velvet ants, now I have to worry about kudzu?  I have no words for this ... that do not consist of four letters.  You can look up federal or state noxious/invasive weeds online.

The next section covered native plants, mostly wildflowers.  We got to take home seeds from purple coneflower and black-eyed susan.  No native grass seed at this time, but the staff has considered doing that in the future.  Look up some native plants by searching wildflowers of the United States.  (Those of you in other countries will have to find your own local resources, sorry.)

Finally we went outside.  We walked past the beginnings of the new butterfly garden and out to the prairie section in the southeast corner of the reserve.  We found several invasive species and a few natives.  Much fun.  *chuckle*  It was also a demonstration of how, no matter how many plants you know, as soon as you go for a walk with someone else they will point to one you don't know yet.  The presenter and I had a slightly different knowledge base, which is typical of people who love plants, so most of the stuff did get identified one way or another.

Tomorrow there is a plant swap at the nature center, along with other activities.  I managed to find a rain-free hour this evening to dig up some extra herbs and wildflowers, so I have a flat full of stuff to trade.  Yay!

Earth Day Activities

Today we went out to the Douglas-Hart Nature Center for their Earth Day festival.  They had some interesting booths, including a local photographer with notecards, a display on oil-slick cleanup methods, and a local organization for forest management that had a plant order form for native plants.  There was a rummage sale in back.  We got to meet up with the same folks from yesterday, too.

I did manage to dig up a bunch of plants, mostly natives, to take to the plant swap.  There were some black-eyed susans already there, so I picked up a few of those.  Most of what I got was actually trade off the plant sale table, plus a couple Little Bluestem from the greenhouse, courtesy of their plant expert.  Sea OatsSide-Oats Gramma, Closed Gentian, Wild Prairie Petunia, and Purple Prairie Clover.  I'm also on record for getting some pots of Big Bluestem and/or Prairie Dropseed when those get big enough to plant -- they've just been started so it'll take a few weeks.  Some of the plants I got today are tiiiiny so will require extra care and hardening off before they can be planted outside.  We'll see how they do.  I checked the stuff I planted from Celebration, though, and they all seem to be surviving despite the rough weather.

We went outside for a little while, and saw a fox squirrel stripping bark from a tree.  It was cute to see her stuffing her mouth so full of fiber.  We think she's building a nest -- there was a partly finished one in a nearby tree that looked to contain more bark shreds than deciduous leaves (usually the preferred material for squirrel nests).  The weather was damp and intermittently sprinkling rain, but at least not pouring; the team of tree planters seemed able to complete their project. 

All in all, it was a very enjoyable Earth Day. What are you doing for Earth Day?

A Grant for Parents Who Write

I know several of my writer-friends have kids, so perhaps this will be of interest.  The announcement showed up in Broad Universe.

In recognition of the challenges of leading a creative life while raising children, the Sustainable Arts Foundation provides financial support to writers and artists with families. They offer a number of $6,000 awards in both the Spring and in Winter. This is brand spanking new, and the director asked me to share it with you. The applicant must have at least one child under the age of 18.

They welcome applications from anywhere, but give some preference to residents of the San Francisco Bay area. In addition, they award a number of Promise Awards of smaller dollar figures to applicants whose work may not qualify for the main awards, but demonstrates both skill and potential. As with most grants, your portfolio aids the judges to rank you. They are also interested in hearing about your plans and how this award might assist you in attaining your goals.

Torn World: New Bit Characters

Three more bit characters are posted in Torn World, variously appearing in some of my stories and character sheets.  Remember that if you're a Torn World member, you can adopt characters and influence what happens to them.  Supporting members get a free character adoption with their subscription.

Yothena, a talented crafter, appears in Amirel's character sheet.  Yothena is the mother of Amirel and grandmother of TekuraShe contracts a mysterious wasting disease in 1495, and eventually dies in 1498.

Ibarna is a teacher of parenting skills in the story "The Empire Trusts You" (supporters only).  She is quite attractive with curly black hair, dark brown skin, and brown eyes.

Malem is a records clerk who works with Unafari in "The Shades of Yesterday" (supporters only).  Malem is a mother of twins, and she enjoys sewing.  She appears again in a story I'm currently writing, "The Green Speech."

New Crowdfunding Project: "Caladon Falls"

aaronace has just announced a funding project for "Caladon Falls."  This is a fantasy campaign setting for the Savage Worlds roleplaying system.  They've already raised a good chunk of money on their IndieGoGo page; faster donations mean faster printing.  If you are a gamer, check out the totally awesome set of perks they have for donors.  I love it when people really put a lot of work into worldbuilding a memorable setting, and it looks like this team has done a great job of that.