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Thursday, 1 May 2014

The Calendar says May Day; the weather says February.

 I have some catching up to do. But first, the weather. It’s cold, it’s wet and our tomato seedlings are cowering in their  unheated propagator wishing they had been raised in Italy. To lift the gloom, here are a couple of pictures of the garden as it was in April.

 
From the left: globe artichokes, strawberries, garlic, shallots and last year's parsley

 

 
Polyanths and wallflowers, both raised in the vegetable garden last year

 
 

Part of this year's vegetable plot being prepared.
 
At the desk, these have been a frantic few weeks. I got to within 5000 words of completing the ghosted childhood memoir and, last Thursday, sent what I’d done so far to get a response. I am, as of today, awaiting a response and past the deadline, which I hate. I am usually very prompt. But I rely on others.  

On the plus side, having a few days free has given me time to return to The Red House On The Niobrara and start to prepare it for publication as a hard copy. My first task has been to replace all the asterisk breaks I used in the e-book version with headings, using each day’s date. Then I had to make sure that, with no photographs to back it up, the text still made sense. There were too a couple of passages where I felt I could improve the flow, although, by and large, I felt very pleased with what I’d written two years ago. It was as close as I will ever get to the standard I set myself. (The first rule of artistic endeavour: please yourself.) Now comes the hard part, formatting the text. I shall start that after an early lunch.

The break has also given me time to concentrate on the vegetable garden. I have planted out the broad beans which we raised in the poly tunnel, have sown ordinary peas and sugar-snap peas and generally tidied up, preparing all available space for sowings over the next week or two. There is a lot to do, the weather is currently against us, and we’re off to France in three weeks’ time.

Last January I submitted an application to the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, a body which offers three-month residencies in self-contained accommodation in Taos, New Mexico. A part of my heart has long resided in the Land of Enchantment, and this seemed like a chance to concentrate on writing a series of stories I’ve been planning, based on travels in the western states over many years. Only last week I’d looked at my list of ongoing applications and decided that this was a dead duck. Three days later, on Monday evening, I received an email telling me I was on the shortlist, that they would be taking up my references, and that I should hear by early July. It’s going to be a long, tense wait.