People are planting victory gardens again. Another name for them that’s gaining traction is “resilience garden.” I’ve spent the last few days pretty much from breakfast to bedtime in mine. I’m tired and sore, but it’s worth it.
This virus isn’t planning to just go away any time soon, unfortunately. Normal daily life won’t be able to fully resume until we have a vaccine that’s widely available. In the meantime, it’s important to prepare for the long term consequences of this much disruption to the way society normally functions. It’s also just generally valuable for more people to learn how to produce and share food with the people around them, because food access, especially access to fresh foods, is pretty key to health and quality of life.
The supply system in the US that normally gets food to grocery stores and restaurants wasn’t prepared for the massive shift in demand caused by covid19, which is why grocery stores are struggling to keep so many things in stock. No, your neighbors aren’t hoarding flour or broccoli. Everyone in your city is suddenly cooking and baking at home, even the many many people who never used to cook at all. They’re eating every meal at home, and so are their kids, instead of having meals at work, at school, and on-the-go. All the food that was destined for restaurants, which are now mostly either closed or serving a reduced number of patrons via takeout, cannot be easily redirected to grocery stores to fill this gap.
The system we have in place for food distribution is inflexible and clunky, and while the food is still being produced, it just isn’t all getting to stores at the rate it’s wanted and needed. They will probably catch up, but we don’t know exactly what further disruptions are coming as the virus spreads. So, if you can, this would probably be a great time to learn how to grow some tomatoes, lettuce, or strawberries. Even fresh herbs grown on the windowsill can make a big difference if you’re otherwise working with frozen or canned items. It’s also a good time to be considering how to connect with and support the people around you, if you haven’t already, because the normally wide world has to shrink for a while to the size of your immediate community.
My rather inexpert herb bed construction. Mistakes were made.
It hasn’t all been tomatoes and parsley, though. I also completely gutted and replanted a front bed that had been taken over by grasses and volunteer bulbs. Walking around, it always makes me happy to see other people’s beautiful front gardens, so I wanted to contribute to that as well. People seem to be putting extra mindfulness into their daily walks, and it’s really nice to be out there and see them smile as they go by.
A wild rabbit has eaten some of my broccoli plants, which is very rude, but everything I’ve learned over the years tells me that rudeness is standard for rabbits. In spite of this setback, I’m still focusing a lot on the garden, and I’ve managed to keep up more exercise this week, which is probably helping with my overall mood. I’ve also started reading another Alma Katsu book, since I really enjoyed The Hunger. Besides, who doesn’t need a little additional horror in their life right now? The Deep seems pretty good so far.
Anyway, stay at home, take care of each other from a distance, and please enjoy these weird sketches.
I’m not doing super awesome with this whole pandemic thing, honestly. I think we should cancel it.
I’m super scatterbrained and just keep forgetting what day it is and what I need to be working on, to the point that my blog post didn’t get written on Thursday or Friday, and then I kinda felt like it didn’t matter in comparison to everything else, but it does matter to me, so I’m writing it now.
I think I’m going to try to do a sketch a day for a while, because that was pretty fun in October, and it seems like a good way to get my mind off the wildly stressful stuff that’s going on right now. Today, I drew a Chinese mantis that I met quite a few years ago. She had wandered into my garden and was quite charming and friendly. This introduced species is very common in the US, and is even sold in garden stores for pest control.
This is all very weird and scary, and it is definitely messing with my head. I spent the whole week thinking it was Thursday, right up until Friday when I thought that it was already Saturday. I’m focusing on the garden a lot as the weather in Seattle finally warms up. Making some food and adding extra color to the world seems like a very good thing right now.
Please be safe and, wherever possible, take care of the people, animals, and plants around you.
There’s nothing like the looming threat of quarantine to make a person want to get out of the house, so I tried out a new hiking spot, since that’s a pretty low human contact activity. It was very pretty and soothing.
I picked up The Hunger by Alma Katsu while I was in Portland for the weekend, and I finished it within a few hours of getting home. The book is a fictional account of the Donner party’s entire ill-fated adventure. It makes a pretty solid horror story, as you might imagine.
She clearly did a huge amount of research, and her writing made the setting and characters feel very real. That made it even more interesting that we got some female perspectives, since their lives and interests tend to get glossed over in the history books. The cast of main/focus characters is fairly balanced between men and women, but not racially diverse, in spite of the fact that some non-white folks do get involved at points.
She does a great job of showing just enough about each character to make you curious about them, but not enough that it bogs down the story. Sometimes it was a tiny bit aggravating, since most of the characters clearly had deep dark secrets and their brooding refusal to think about them in complete sentences could feel a bit contrived after a while. Regardless, she did get me pretty invested in a handful of them, in spite of the fact that I knew going in approximately what happened to the Donner party (Historical spoiler: It was unfortunate) so I tried not to get attached. She dragged me in anyway, and it was a weird and interesting ride.
In conclusion, The Hunger was legit creepy and well-written, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who likes horror and history.
Content warnings for the book listed below the photo, so people who want to avoid story spoilers can do so.
Content warnings: Descriptions of violence and some gore. Descriptions of sexual assault. Portrayal of suicidal thoughts and actions. Racist comments against Native Americans. Use/appropriation of Native American myths and beliefs. Personally, I was most bothered by the internalized homophobia of one of the characters. Unlike the other potentially triggering things, that self-hatred wasn’t as clearly framed as a bad thing. Given how hard that would have been to portray, I kinda wish that aspect of the character had just been omitted.
My husband and I saw Emma yesterday, which was hilarious, and now I’m in Portland with my boyfriend. It’s shaping up to be an excellent birthday week. I didn’t come up with anything particularly clever to share here, so here’s a picture of me with a goofy bunny sitting on my shoulder.
So, some new stuff is coming up. I’m still working on the details, but I’ll be offering email list signups soon. I’ve been reluctant to do that, because I personally find excessive email pretty bothersome, but an email list is an important thing for indie authors to build and maintain.
Self published authors rely heavily on the grace of a few huge corporations for their livelihoods. Amazon and Facebook are particularly known for their capriciousness, but all companies can suddenly change their business model or regulations, not to mention that accounts can be deactivated or deleted entirely. Sometimes that’s accidental, and sometimes it’s the result of a targeted effort on the part of trolls who don’t like that person’s platform. When that happens, the author can potentially lose all of their followers permanently, which means they lose all their ability to advertise their work to an interested audience. That’s the work of months, or even years, building an audience, and it can be gone in an instant.
An email list is a group of people who are interested in what the author has to offer, and it isn’t subject to the whims of Facebook or Amazon or any other company. It belongs to the author. Even if Mail Chimp, or whichever other service they’re using, goes under, they’ll still have that list and can switch to another similar service. That’s why it’s so important for authors.
It can also be nice for followers who don’t use social media as heavily, since they may otherwise miss content or events from creators they enjoy. There’s a balance to strike, where emails regularly offer content that followers are interested in, but obviously they should never overwhelm anyone’s inbox. I would never encourage anyone to stay signed up for emails that stress them out or annoy them. It’s just one option, for anyone who might be interested.
I’m really struggling to write this post. I can’t think of anything to say, and I’m getting frustrated and distracted, and it’s probably at least in part because I set my expectations too high this week. I wanted to come up with something more to write about than just a quick update or picture, but there’s also a lot of other stuff going on in my life right now, and that inspiring idea just didn’t show up.
It’s so easy to feel like I should just throw my hands up and not post anything if I have nothing cool to share, but that’s not a healthy approach to meeting goals. I said I’d post every Friday, and I do. Ground-breaking content is not specified, although it’d definitely be neat if I could scrounge some up more often.