apartment gardening: day ten

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It’s been about 10 days since the planting extravaganza on the living room floor. I’ve lost the rosemary plant. It developed some sort of mold and died after a few days. I’ve also lost the dill, but it was already dying in the AeroGarden so I didn’t expect the dirt would save it.

One tomato plant is doing extremely well. The plant it shares space with is also doing fine. The other two plants, I don’t think will make it. One seems to be recovering, but the other is just withering away. All of the bell pepper and jalapeno plants are doing quite well. The jalapenos are flowering. All of those plants have been getting washed with an organic insecticide (more about that momentarily).

The succulents are doing well as I expected they would be. They are quite happy and at home in the ecosystem that is my living room.

I’m happiest about the two basil plants. I wasn’t sure that they were going to make it after being transplanted from the Aerogarden. They still don’t look completely healthy, but I’ve been moving the Genovese plant into more direct sunlight earlier in the day when I’m home. Now, both are sprouting new leaves, which I figure is a good sign.

The flowers that I planted as seeds sprouted up a few days ago and were so strong that they pushed dirt out of the little pot they were in. That’s probably the first thing I’ve grown from a seed since I was a kid, so that’s pretty awesome. And…it inspired me to buy some cilantro seeds, which are the new herb pots in the pictures above.

I’m happy that most of the plants are doing okay. I have developed a bug problem, though. So, Terro has been placed strategically for the ants, fly paper for the flies and Natria insecticidal soap for the peppers because they’ve been eaten by I don’t know what.

I’m trying to figure out when things need to be watered instead of just watering all the time and drowning plants. So, we shall see….

 

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on writing & baseball: research

This is half a post about my failure to research prior to writing the first novel last time and half a post about my first experience at a minor league baseball game.

When I started writing last time, it was more about something I had to do to get my head and my psyche in order. Because I told myself (and still believe) that was the primary purpose, I did little in the way of actual research for this book. I had maybe a 3-page outline (compared to the 29-page one I did for my current draft) and some random character sketches.

I still don’t think the story is bad. I really don’t, and one of my major goals for this summer is to rewrite it (how that’s going to occur, I’m not really sure that I’ve thought out too well).

The primary comment that a friend made after reading that draft was “I never felt like I was there.” That made me aware of how much I had skipped in terms of setting. All senses of setting. In short, the book is about minor league baseball. It’s pure fiction, but still could use some of the little details that would make one feel that I have some clue about minor league baseball.

The worst part of this story is that there are several minor league teams within driving distance of me, and one of those belongs to the Dodgers.

So, I finally made the trek out to the Epicenter, home of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Dodgers Single-A affiliate.

It was quite an experience. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Blake Hawksworth was making a rehab start.  (I think it was his second 1-inning rehab start.)

Overall, it was fun, and a major deal compared to the price gouging I’m used to at Dodger Stadium. Parking was $4, my ticket behind home plate was $8, and my food was a whopping $12 (nachos, bottle of water, root beer float). All in all, I was quite happy with the price.

What I didn’t expect was the veritable three-ring circus that surrounded the game. Never have I heard music played during an at-bat. There were constant games and promotions. It was very family friendly. But apart from the three scouts sitting behind me, I don’t think many people were there to really watch baseball. The other major discovery that I made is that Single-A baseball looks absolutely nothing like major league baseball. (The rewrites that will need to happen to reflect that were swirling in my head.)

I don’t think I was too far off in terms of the stadium and facilities (I’ve visited the Dodgers spring training home, which also serves as a minor league stadium). But I definitely have my work cut out for me in conveying the atmosphere.

growth vs. fixed mindsets

Our faculty summer reading assignment is Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

It’s the first of my summer list that I’ve read. I started here because it was a pretty easy read, and it was a good way to get rid of all the slush in my brain from grading final exams and reading for classwork.

Honestly, I think it’s a book that could be read in pieces as needed. It was extremely repetitive and the anecdotes were more tiring that explanatory.

There were two positives that I drew from the book, though.

The first was that I really understood what my parents did in raising me to be a learner. I don’t know if they consciously set out to do it or if they just did what seemed natural to them, but the entire section on how to raise growth-minded children could have been a picture of my parents. I did fairly well in school, but every time my parents were told “how smart” their daughter was, they had the same response. “Thank you, but she also works incredibly hard.” Or “thank you, but she also really enjoys challenges.” Or my favorite, “thank you, but she also has a lot of fun with [insert any subject but science].” And those things have always stuck with me. I’m definitely not afraid to try because to them and, by transfer, to me the successes became the hard work, the challenge and the fun rather than the grade.

The second part that I loved was the section about being a growth-minded teacher:

How can growth-minded teachers be so selfless, devoting untold hours to the worst students? Are they just saints? Is it reasonable to expect that everyone can become a saint? The answer is that they’re not entirely selfless. They love to learn. And teaching is a wonderful way to learn. About people and how they tick. About what you teach. About yourself. About life.

Exactly. I’ve always found teaching to be somewhat of a selfish endeavor. Most times I feel I learn more than I ever teach, and I love it. I have basically made a career of experimentation and risks and endless learning. Who could really ask for more?

character overhaul (umm … rewrite)

It started driving over the 6th Street Bridge. I have to remember the exact location just in case it’s significant to the thought process. A person in the car next to me flicked a cigarette butt out of the window.

Why doesn’t she smoke?

The main characters of both of the novels I have drafted are women. And I think in my efforts to make them completely different, the second one is a little less strong that I’d like her to be. She’s definitely more reckless, but at times, to me, it seems that it’s without warrant. She definitely has a “because I can” attitude about things. Not that smoking would change any of this, but she definitely lacks a certain element of character that I want.

I don’t think that investigator Teresa Jordan will turn out to smoke at all, but I think it was important for me to think about why she doesn’t. The only problem (?) is that now she’s been stuck in my head for the past few days. That’s not entirely a bad thing, but it does make life a little interesting. And my apartment cleaner than it’s been in a while.

apartment gardening

Every year when summer rolls around, I miss having a yard and a garden and a barbecue, etc, etc, etc. A few years ago my parents gave me an AeroGarden for my birthday as a way to help with this problem. (Well, with that problem and the problem that I really can’t grow plants to begin with.)

The AeroGarden has been going strong for a while, so I decided to buy some “real” plants about a month ago. They were doing quite well, sharing light with the AeroGarden plants and living in their original seedling containers.

It seemed, though, a good second-day-of-summer-vacation activity to get all of these put into proper pots and in a place where they could absorb some natural summer sunlight.

With the help of painter’s drop cloth, I did the planting right on the living room floor.acation activity to replant them and get this apartment garden really going:

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The current garden has four jalapeno plants, four bell pepper plants, four tomato plants, one rosemary plant, two basil plants, a succulent and some flowers that I’m attempting to grow from seeds.
 
The big experiment in all of this is basil. I have one Genovese Basil plant and one Thai Basil plant that were transplanted today from the AeroGarden. I’ve read varying reports on whether you can do this successfully. I’m hoping yes, but only time will tell.
 
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I’m hoping that all of this works out well and that expansion is in the near future!

mutuality

My school had the great fortune of having Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, of Homeboy Industries as the commencement speaker for this year’s graduation ceremony. Most of his address to the graduates issued a challenge to see the world in terms of a call to kinship.

But he also told a story of Cesar Chavez, who was asked by a reporter, “These farm workers, they really love you, don’t they?”

According to Boyle’s story, Chavez responded, “the feeling is mutual.”

That was the single most important part of his address for me personally. Not three days before, I was sitting in an office with three co-workers when a student walked in to give me a goodbye hug (for the summer). When the student left, one of my fellow teachers said to me, “Your students just really love you. It’s just so apparent to everyone.”

There were nods all around the room, and I became flustered. I never know what to say to something like that. It has occurred at each of the schools I’ve worked in. I don’t really know why. I am by far not the “coolest” teacher. The pacing and assignments in my class are what I will admit–not to my students, of course–a little nuts. Yet, it happens again and again. Sometimes it’s met with resentment from the adults around me. Sometimes it’s met with actual admiration (although, I still think underserved). But all of the time, I never know what to say.

Until now.

It’s mutual.

editing, editing, editing

I think I failed to mention that a couple of weeks ago, I finished the draft of my book Lucha. 

I realized this as I someone asked me the other day, “by the way how’s your book coming?”

Oh yea, I said. It’s done.

Yes. Done. Done. Done! And through stage one of the editing process. This was a very basic edit. I went through for all the grammatical issues and typos I could find. I did a very cursory overview of anything that may not be entirely clear. A complete hand edit is done, and now I’m working to rewrite the changes on my computer.

I have to admit that I’m loving the process. Within hours of being done with my school year, I sat down and finished the pencil edits. The computer revisions are at about page 92.

This is my major writing goal for the summer. Well, one of them.

The other is to do a major overhaul of the first novel. The funny thing is I love that story so much, but I’m not thrilled with the structure anymore. I learned so much writing this second novel draft, and I think that it will definitely help me create a solid second draft of the other novel.

The other goal for this summer is to start publishing Lucha on a blog again. I started a while back and stopped for a variety of reasons (mostly what I now consider to be bad advice).

So, if you want to start at the beginning, check it out. At this time, I think I’m going to update it three times a week until the story is done. And simultaneously, I think this will help me revise again.

Always, always a work in progress…