Really need a gardening icon

I woke up with a headache and generally blah feeling, so I called in sick and slept for another couple of hours. At that point I woke up feeling pretty good, so I've actually gotten a decent amount of stuff done today! Also really, any day I don't have to see my boss is an extra-good day, LET'S BE HONEST HERE.

Mostly today I was doing garden stuff. Last night we ate the first cherry tomato and pepper from the garden! There are pictures on my twitter, I'll try to link 'em at some point. lynxreign said eating half of the cherry tomato had as much flavor as a supermarket tomato 4x the size, so I am pleased. I don't generally eat store tomatoes, so I don't have as much basis for comparison (not out of snobbery or anything, I just didn't think I liked tomatoes for a really long time, and it turns out a lot of that is how freakin' tasteless most grocery store tomatoes are), but it did seem pretty good.

But yeah, there is a veritable TOMATO EMPIRE out my back door now. Cherry tomatoes are getting ripe, the pear tomatoes are suddenly showing up and getting huge, and the Black Krim tomatoes are hinting at how epic they'll be in a few more weeks. The peppers are coming along nicely as well. lynxreign and I had to make an emergency Home Depot run last night for twine and bamboo sticks, because the tomato cages I bought are really laughably too short for the types of tomatoes I ended up with. We also got some planters for me to put along the fence, which are going to get some bean and squash seeds tomorrow probably. Today I shored up the tomato supports, weedwhacked the horrible area next to the fence (thanks to shadesong and family for the loan of the weedwhacker), filled the new containers with dirt, and harvested the garlic. The garlic harvest is kind of disappointing, to be honest. I don't know if I did something wrong or if it was the weather this year or what, but all of the bulbs are pretty small. It may be that I planted them too close together, not sure. They're drying out in the basement now, and I'll probably try some of them tonight or tomorrow. We ate one bulb already, roasted on the grill with some carrots, and it *did* taste pretty amazing. So IDK, I guess I don't have to decide until September anyway. Garlic takes up a lot of space. Having the scapes available whenever I wanted them was nice, and if the garlic tastes better than what we buy, maybe it's still worth it. Maybe this year I'll try a different type, and maybe I'll do things like mulch and water more frequently, and see if it makes a difference. Or maybe I'll take a year off from garlic and put something else in that space and try again next year, IDK.

Trying to explain some of this stuff to lynxreign along the way has been fun. Last night I was explaining the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomato types. His first guess was that it had something to do with the seeds, and really he was thinking of hybrid vs heirloom veg. It was a good guess though! Anyway if you don't already know and care for some reason, determinate varieties tend to have more compact growth, they don't get as tall, they don't sprawl as much, and the tomatoes mostly ripen all at the same time. Indeterminate means the opposite, basically. More sprawling growth, and the tomatoes ripen over a longer period. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. I don't really want to do canning this year, so I figured indeterminate made sense because that way I'd get a few tomatoes over a month or two, not a million all at once. I just wasn't prepared for *how* sprawly their growth is, thus the bamboo and twine. I've been reading about growing this stuff for years, but this is the first year I've actually done it, you see. This year I had meant to start seeds over the winter, and didn't because of the massive winter sluggishness/depression that hit me, so I ended up just buying whatever packs of seedlings I found at a local garden center. Which, it seems like it's working out. But this winter, dammit, I am determined to do my own seeds. I checked the ones I had to see if I had given myself a break by getting any determinate types. NOPE LOL.

Part of this is also because determinate tends to be something you see with newer hybrid varieties, and I'm generally more drawn to the heirloom types. Next year I'll be prepared for this though, so I won't be startled when I go out back one day and the teeny tiny little tomato plants are suddenly these gigantic ridiculous monsters taller than me. I'll already have better support in place and I'll look at them and be like "lol yes you jerks." Or something. I might be a little punchy at this point.

Um, let's see, for peppers it's jalapenos and cheyenne, plus something that was in the jalapeno flat but clearly ISN'T. It's some kind of cherry pepper I guess? It's tiny and round and tastes like a bell pepper. Bonus, I guess.

I'm also pulling carrots every few days. Turns out really fresh, tiny carrots are awesome in ramen. I feel kinda ridiculous tossing them in there, but hot damn they're good.

Got the basil planted real late, but it's starting to come in now. Lots of other herbs out there too. The cilantro is getting all cute and bushy and I want to eat it all?

OH OH THE WEIRDEST THING: ok, all of my garden reading has told me that growing mint from seed is dumb and pointless and slow and also stupid. But I ordered this pack of herb seeds a while back, and one of them was peppermint. I looked at it all skeptical, then shrugged and tossed some into a pot. "Why not?" I figured, "worst that happens is they don't grow and I put something else in there." Yeah it's actually doing really well. Lol ok peppermint seeds, I don't know what you're up to but thanks I guess?

Anyway I'll definitely talk like I know what I'm doing but I really don't! Somehow it's mostly working out though! Plus I'm lucky and have sparkymonster, nex0s, and izzybelbooks on twitter. They actually *do* know what they're talking about, so it's fun times discussing this stuff with them. #ladygardenchat sounds like a euphemism, but that just makes it even better.


This is about the Readercon thing, and if you don't know what I'm talking about skip this for now and I'll explain later.

I'm not really ready to talk about it. I'm reeling, (also I need to leave for work) and still processing. I did leave this comment on the official statement though:

This coming year is my third year as a member of the programming committee for Readercon, and this is devastating. I don't care about Walling's redemption story. I mean, this is Readercon guys, we could have an entire panel about how male redemption stories in SF/F are super duper overdone and we're all fucking sick of them. I'm way more interested in the story of the awesome lady writer who bravely reported harassment and got shit taken care of.

Flipness aside, I don't care who the harasser is or who the harassed is, Readercon is actively making their attendees feel unsafe with this decision. I like Readercon, and I don't want to see it die. That's what will happen if new people don't want to come. Please stop making me disappointed in you, I know you're all better than this.

IDK I'm not bailing out of this thing just yet and I'll probably write more about this when I can catch my breath and stop just SIGHING everywhere when I think about it, and I will be sending something to as well, and I'd like for everyone else who's pissed off to do so as well if you can. Readercon means a lot to me and I'm not willing to give up on it just yet, but I can't let people just run it into the ground either.

Like I said, not really ready to talk about it, just didn't want my silence to get too loud.

Taking up space

I wrote this on Tumblr yesterday and I needed to put it somewhere I'd be able to find again, since Tumblr is shit for that.

OK so today we kayaked again, and friends, it was MAGICAL. I’ve said all of this on twitter so skip to the next paragraph if you’ve seen it but on the way there we saw a woodchuck, just chilling out on the side of the road nomming some plants. Then on the river we saw about a million turtles sunning themselves, the usual shit-tons of geese and ducks, lots of ducklings and goslings too, loons, blue herons, night herons, herons sitting on a floaty thing making patterns with their wings (every other one had their wings out), and a guy on the banks playing saxophone as we paddled past.

Anyway the important thing is that this is actually only my second time kayaking, but I did WAY better than last time. We were out there for about 2.5 hours, and we went 7.28 miles, which is a LOT and my shoulders will probably hate me tomorrow. So right now I’m pretty damn pleased with myself, and it got me thinking about body acceptance and exercise and stuff. I’ve been lifting weights semi-seriously for a couple of months now too, and I’m starting to see actual definition in my arms? That’s rad. Here’s the thing, is that doing this stuff is making me appreciate my body in ways I don’t think I have before. Like, I’m still fat guys, I’m not going to shy away from that. I hover around 200 pounds right now and I’m kinda short, and I’m fat. Whatevs, right?

I’ve seen Fat Acceptance people talk about not “punishing” their body with exercise, and I get that. The thing that’s changed is that exercise is now a way for me to revel in my body and be proud of what it can do. There’s probably a lot more there to think about, and I might come back to it, but the other thing this got me onto was healthy and unhealthy behaviors and how sometimes those can be the same behaviors but with different mindsets, which is not a terribly earth-shattering thought, but there it is. I used to exercise because I thought I had to because obviously I should want to be thin. Sidenote: it may or may not be important to the understanding of this post that my mom is/was/is again IDK anorexic. Which explains a lot about my thought processes and what I heard growing up. Anyway. I always hated exercise, and I hated sports, and nothing about any of it was ever fun once it became about losing weight. Exercise was a means to an end and that end came out of self-hatred and all of the ways society told me to hate myself because my body was unacceptable. So no wonder I never really stuck with it, right?

My goals have changed completely now. I’m pretty cool with my muscles bulking up if that’s what ends up happening with my body, I’m cool if my stomach’s never flat, whatever. I really loved the way I felt at the end of our paddle today, even if my arms were a little shaky trying to get out of the dang kayak (if you have never done this it is an obnoxious way to do things), and I know my shoulders will probably hate me tomorrow. There’s a lot tied up in this, and part of it is this whole thing where being a vocal (even mildly vocal, which is where I put myself) feminist on the internet means accusations of misandry, and how so many of us have basically decided to just run with that for now. I mean hey, if you’re going to accuse me of hating men and wanting them all dead, well, you convinced me! So there’s a bunch of us who’ve been weightlifting and talking about this and rejecting this thing of wanting to be stronger but “you know, not bulking up.” Screw it man, I’m fine with my body bulking up. I want to look like I can punch ALL the dicks.

So then the flipside of this is how the same behavior can be healthy or unhealthy even in the same person. In high school my best friend was anorexic. Which I was super in denial about because I saw her eat every day, so how could this be? She was a health nut, right? And that was the thing. She exercised to the point of obsession, and she’d internalized the idea that *any* fat on her body was bad. Part of this was because she got into bodybuilding. It got bad enough with her that she stopped having her period and her parents were thinking of sending her to an institution instead of having her senior year at school with me. This was the point where together, she and I finally faced the extent of her problem, and she started getting better.

A few years later when we were in college in different states, she sent me an email after completing her first half-marathon. She talked about standing in the shower after the race and being exhausted, but so proud of her body and what it had accomplished. She knew she never would have had the staying power for a race like that when she was still sick.

So I don’t really have a grand conclusion here, and obviously this is really just about me and I’m not going to try to generalize out to anyone else or start acting like I know what everyone should do, but this was some important stuff for me to think through. It’s kind of a big deal for me to be able to look in the mirror and see my belly fat and still be proud of how far I got in the kayak today, and know that tomorrow I’m going to completely rock my gym session, and even if no one but me can *look* at me and see all that, well, fuck those people anyway.

So the part I forgot when I wrote this (because my brain was actually pretty fried, which is why this may seem a *bit* all over the place) is that there's also this thing where women aren't supposed to take up space. Diet yourself into literally disappearing dammit why do you think you deserve any space here? I hear the same thing when people tell women not to bulk up, not to use heavy weights because muscles on girls are gross, on and on and on. And that's part of where I'm coming from here, as a women trying to learn how to be comfortable with taking up space. I am allowed to fill the space I am in.


Originally posted by apis_cerana at TEA!
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Gardeners and Historians, a Thing!

As you may have noticed, I recently started getting back into gardening. So maybe a week ago, I saw a thing about this seed company being in trouble. I started reading about it, and here's the deal and why I want you all to know about it too: This is Landreth Seeds. They have been in business since 1784, which is pretty cool in and of itself. They are the oldest seed company in the States, which is also pretty cool. They're dedicated to preserving heirloom varieties of seeds, and while they do carry hybrids, they won't carry any genetically modified seeds or plants. Personally I'm not against genetically modified plants completely, but I do care very much about biodiversity and preserving the heirloom varieties, so I started perusing the site.

There's a lot of cool stuff there! They have neat notecards with art from vintage, illustrated seed packets, they have great tools and equipment for gardeners, they have gorgeous books for people interested in things like heirloom tomatoes, and the variety of plants and seeds is actually a little staggering.

They also have collections of seeds, often with a book or pamphlet of information or recipes, packaged up in cute little bags. I ordered some of these the other day.

One of these is particularly interesting to me, and a big part of why I want to get the word out about this. They've put together a collection of African American heritage seeds. There's more information on the Special Collection page (and more varieties than what comes in the set), and I really think that this is a very cool, very important thing. There's a lot to be learned about a culture based on their food history and what they grew, and preserving the actual heirloom varieties that slaves and sharecroppers were growing is a really important piece of history. I think it would be a really cool way to teach some of this to kids, by getting the collection (which comes with the book that the historian who put all this together wrote on the topic) and starting a garden with them.

So obviously, the best thing would be if you ordered stuff from them. They're doing a drive to save the company right now, and even if you don't garden, ordering their catalog would be a good thing. It's a gorgeous catalog with illustrations of the plants, and really well put together, from what I hear. If you don't want a catalog and don't have any use for the stuff they sell but still want to help, there's a button to donate on the front page. Spreading the word to anyone you know who does garden is also good. Of course, no one who reads this is under any obligation to do anything at all. If this isn't your thing and you don't know any gardeners, whatever! It's no big deal! I've been telling people about this in email for a week, and finally decided I should put this out here for anyone I know who might be interested.

In other news, the other day I got to eat an ENTIRE SALAD of THINGS I GREW MYSELF and I was like "GREENS SO FRESH EVERYBODY WANTS TO FIGHT ME." because it was so awesome.


I don't know how to make that smaller right now, sorry.
grammar crisis!


I have been sitting on this news for like, 3 months? I can finally tell you all that I'll be part of the deCordova's Biennial show, running January through April, as part of the South End Knitters. It opens on my birthday. :) Here is a Boston Globe article about the show. We're only mentioned at the end, but still. Everybody come to Boston to see it! peaseblossom is also in this! It's very exciting and I kind of can't believe this is real life?

I'm at work today and I need to finish the grant report but part of my brain is like "GRANT REPORT? NO! I AM AN ~ARTIST~ NOW!" and I'm like "that's adorable brain, but you still have a job that pays you so get the news out and then shut that down for a while for fucks sake."

Look up


Last night we had to put Copper to sleep. She was 17, and had so many health problems at this point, and last night when lynx got home she was having trouble breathing. When I got home we went to the emergency vet, and they said that there was fluid around and possibly in her lungs, and that it was probably either heart disease or cancer. They could remove the fluid, but it was only going to keep building back up and getting worse. That, on top of all of her other problems, was probably going to leave her miserable, so we had to decide to let her go. This is impossible and there's never any way for it to be easy, so we're doing about as well as could be expected.

I want to write about what a great cat she was and tell you all about her, but right now I can't. She was the best cat. I'll always miss her.
Domokun pumpkins

You can skip this.

It's just me babbling about gardening stuff, feel free to skip if it's not your thing.

I need some kind of gardening icon!

I'm at work and away from all of my notes and spreadsheets and whatnot, so this might not get completed until later. I *should* be writing the grant report, but I'm looking at this as a warm-up.

So, gardening! I started getting kinda into growing herbs and stuff back in Little Rock, but I had to leave all of the plants and pots and everything behind when I moved up here. It was actually very sad, but I managed. My first three places in Boston weren't at all conducive even to pots of things (well, I *could* have gardened quite a bit at the second place in Somerville, but I wasn't there long enough and grad school and such as), and I was starting to get itchy with missing it, especially after helping catvalente and justbeast plant a pretty awesome garden at their last place.

At our current apartment, we actually have a backyard and a little patio, so plants have begun sort of appearing. We have a big pot with a tiny pine tree that was a favor from athalran and inochinoakari's wedding. it has been joined by a pot of rosemary and a pot of chocolate mint. I've also added basil (ok don't judge me, but the seeds came from a box of Triscuits. I don't even know), two kinds of thyme, and two kinds of spinach to the pot with the tree, as the pot is very large, and the tree is very small, and having other things in there means less weeding for me. Lynx gets nervous that these things are taking nutrients away from the tree, but it's really fine. The basil needs to get cut down and the thyme needs a trim, but really, it is a very big pot.

MEANWHILE, there was the basement flooding. That saga is ongoing and still very stressful and annoying, but I think our landlord is probably going to be able to get the work done pretty quickly once he's able to get it started, so possibly by the end of next month? Anyway, lynx came up with a plan to help make sure it never has a chance to happen again, which involves building garden boxes that completely surround the window, as dams to stop any water that rises in the backyard. That means that after this weekend, I will suddenly have quite a bit of raised garden bed space to begin planting in. Yay! SUPER big thanks on this go out to nex0s, who gave us the idea by planning and building the garden we helped Cat and D with, and for answering my email questions about how the boxes worked and what kind of wood we needed to use and so on. There's going to be one box shaped like an L that goes out from the side of the house and then over to the fence, to block in the window, and then two shorter, straight boxes right at the end of the patio, just for funzies. We're going to Home Depot tonight and they should be finished by the weekend, at which point I can take some pictures.

In anticipation of this I was doing research on good winter veggies and cold hardy salad greens and things like that, and the second day I was working on this I found out one of my favorite seed sources (Nichols Gardens, they are fabulous) was actually having a sale on seeds specifically for fall and winter planting. So THAT worked out nicely. I ordered a bunch of stuff and when it got here, we still weren't quite ready to build the boxes, so I made a bunch of "improvised containers" by which I mean I chopped the tops off of a bunch of 2L Diet Coke bottles, gouged some drainage holes in the bottoms, and tossed in some potting soil and seeds. These are all coming along nicely at this point. The spinach has produced enough leaves that we're going to cut them and make hamburgers tonight with spinach leaves as a topping.

Last night I sat down with paper and sketched out where everything will get planted. Decisions are hard, guys, that took forever.

Anyway, here is an incomplete list of things that are either getting planted or transplanted this weekend:
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We're back from Chicago. Many fine adventures were had, very few pictures were taken, because that's how we roll.

I'm looking at lj now but I haven't even glanced at it since we left, so if there's something important, link me.

We were planning to drive until about midnight last night, stop in New York, and finish driving today, but once we got past Utica it didn't look like there was going to be anywhere non-sketchy to stop for another couple of hours, and there were only 4 hours of driving left anyway, so we just kept going and got home around quarter to 3. We're awake now, but you know. Kind of. Going to pick up the kitty from the kennel here in a bit.

More later.