Saturday, January 5, 2008

To Do, To Do: A Booklet or Two

Most people, gardeners in particular, start off the new year with a bevy of bright ideas, calling them resolutions, goals, or plans. I'm not entirely completely one of those people.

Of course, I do have plans. Many, many plans I'm trying not to feel overwhelmed by. But by and large, they involve many specific little mundane tasks, not an overarching Big Idea Resolution. For my garden, my primary goal isn't, for example, to construct a pond or build a pergola, it's simply to spend more time in it and enjoying it. On the teaching/presenting end, I haven't lined up a series of new speaking venues, but I am developing a new class on container gardening. Professionally, I have developed a three-pronged approach (anything with that name is inherently professional, right?) for streamlining my full-time editing job, but the specifics (don't worry, I'm not going to bore you them!) are all, um, fairly specific.

And in terms of garden writing, I hope beyond hope to produce my second booklet his year, on gardening for cats. But my primary goal right now is to put together some more Fun with Winter Seed Sowing booklets, both to send out to journalists and to have a little stock pile for orders. I actually enjoy the process of making the booklets. Some might find it tedious, but there's something I enjoy about assembling the regular pages, heavier title page, and plastic front and back covers. My friend Pete has a GBC binding machine, which I have called Bindotron 2000 since he's had it, so I don't know its true model name or number. It lets me first create the holes for the pages and then it also fastens a plastic comb binder into place. I love the feel of the crisp stack of pages and the crunching sound the hole punching makes. I love how the comb is first pried open gently by the machine and then easily tucked back into shape, at the same time binding the booklet.

It is fairly amusing how long it took me to figure out what type of front and back plastic covers I would use (not to mention deciding on the final cover design, but that's a story best untold). I searched far and wide, both at local stores and online, before settling on some matte frosted front covers and a beautiful Crayola primary blue back cover. (In case people use the booklet while winter seed sowing, I wanted to make sure they could set it down without ruining the pages should a little soil or water be on the surface.) I order the covers through They have way more choices than I found at any office supply store, and even with shipping, the prices are much better. I was a little nervous about how the product would look in real life; monitors are all calibrated differently and it's often hard to get a true representation of the colors. But when the box arrived I was very happy with how things looked--the blue was exactly how I'd imagined it and I love the frost cover. You can still see the title page through it, but it adds a bit of class (and I do need extra of that!). I was also excited to find a pair of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in with the package, which arrived near Halloween. It's just that little extra touch that makes you feel like a person not one of a gazillion customers. (I emailed to ask and they told me they buy a ton of chocolate candy from a local kid's soccer fundraiser and then send it out with orders. Nice!)

Isn't she pretty (center) at the Hidden Lake Gardens bookshop, despite the older cover? The new one makes it easier to read the title, while keeping the sense of fun.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy 2008 (2008?!)

I awoke today to nice blanket of snow!

There's a curved brick path between the trees and metal stakes.


To my surprise and delight, I'm actually almost entirely caught up in this blog to start the new year fresh, instead of in catch-up mode. The only things left from 2007 that I somehow neglected to mention are a gingerbread house and a rat.

My friend Wendy hosted a gingerbread house making party the Sunday after Thanksgiving. She provided the houses (which I helped make dough for) already assembled and people decorated them according to their personal tastes. I made a nice one the previous year, using the usual candy suspects, that looked a little something like this:

Note the marshmallow smoke, the pond, the curved walkway, and the nice landscaping!

Later it occurred to me it would also be fun to make a house that could be entirely eaten by squirrels and other wildlife friends. Hence, the 2007 creation:

The seeds are held in place by peanut butter. Two rows of seeds along the front of the house have already been eaten by this happy and industrious squirrel.

I've been rat-sitting Wendy's pet rat, Violet, for the last several days. She's a cute little thing, with shiny black eyes (like a junco's!) and a cute brown head and stripe part-way down her back. Her paws and nose are a delicate pink.


I have to give her two medicines twice a day which is, um, a challenge. I'm used to pilling cats and I even fed baby birds liquid food with eye droppers. But baby birds want to eat and Violet does not want to swallow her medicine. And her mouth is considerably smaller than either a cat's or baby bird's. And she's squirmy! And she seems to have eight paws, all of which squiggle and push the dropper away from her mouth. She does seem to forgive me and likes to run and explore and even sit with me. Well, OK. Rats don't sit still much. She likes to run all over me. And she likes bananas. A lot. She may have escaped her room and come within three feet of a certain brownish cat. But no one was harmed. Better security has been installed. All is well in the new year! Prosit!