Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This won't take long...

by Amanda Forester

With the spring comes the renewed interest of the time honored sport of gardening.  I love gardens -the flowers, the colors, the lush leafy greeness of it all.  So beautiful.  So, yes, I love gardens... other people's gardens.  Gardening, however, I do not love so much.

I confess, I am death to plants.

It's not that I don't try to keep things alive... for a little while at least.  Whether my problem lies in simple neglect or unwanted attention, my track record with my green and leafy friends is not a good one.  Now normally I would accept my failures and move on, but I unfortunately have neighbors who hire fairies from the enchanted wood to sing sweet melodies to their flowers to achieve magical blossoms.  Their lawns look like putting greens from a masters course.  My lawn, [sigh] well my lawn had large patches of moss, which turned black, giving it that lovely "scorched earth" appeal.  The only patches of green were the dandelions.

You see the problem here.  So when our neighbor decided he would rip up his (already perfect) lawn and put down sod (tucked in neatly by enchanted elves) my husband and I were feeling the pressure.  Our neighbor had some left over sod, so we had the utterly brilliant idea to rip up the yucky parts of our "lawn" and put down the sod (I did mention we are not gardeners - right?).

So hubby rented a rototiller and went to work ripping up the bad parts.  It started small and then there were a few more patches, and a few more, and the more we looked at the yard, the worse the whole thing looked until he had ripped up half the lawn.  At this point we had to admit we were in waaaaaay over our heads and had to hire a landscaper (magical creatures take one look at our yard and run away) to come in and fix what we broke.  That "free sod" cost us dear.

Writing historical novels can be a little like trying to piece together a lawn with a little bit of sod.  I think I just need one bit of history to piece together the background or to figure out how a simple task would be accomplished, and the next thing I know I've spent days researching some miniscule point, taken copious notes, and surrounded myself with pictures, timelines, and genealogy charts all for something that might get one line in the final draft of the book.  Fortunately, I enjoy researching history a lot more than gardening, although the enchanted elves don't help me with historical research either. 

Ever start a project that turned into much more work than you expected?  Do tell  - I like to know I'm not alone!  And if you know how to contact any of those elves...


  1. Amanda you had me laughing at the part about the perfect lawn. Our lawn is part grass, part clover, part moss, and part ajuga---I hate that weed --but it's green, so we're keeping it! LOL.

    I know just what you mean about the research. I immersed myself in the Dark Ages while writing Medievals. There are some fascinating books and fascinating facts that I uncovered doing the research...good thing I wasn't on deadline at the time!

  2. Loved your blog, Amanda! Love research! Though like you, I get wrapped up in it. Yet that's often when I find a great direction for the story! :)

  3. Amanda,
    I can completely relate. My husband and I have no time or talent for these types of things. I was very happy to learn he plans to hire someone to put a fire pit in our backyard this summer. Otherwise, it would be three summers before the project would be completed and it would look like we put it up in a day. :)

  4. I know the feeling, Amanda, but my nemesis is indoors. We started remodeling our bathroom. Done. Ripped wallpaper off our hallways. Done. Painted. Refinished the hardwood floors. Done.

    "Boy, all of the updates make the wallpaper in the kitchen look terrible. Let's take it off."

    Hmmm... prior owners did not size the walls. Hmmm... the wallpaper is tearing off the drywall. Hmmm... my entire kitchen looks like a bomb exploded.

    Yep, I know the feeling, Amanda.

  5. As I read your post I'm getting an insight about my mother and myself. I tend to avoid housework (the euphemism police just issued a citation). I realize that the Sorcerer's Apprentice quality you mention--the job gets bigger, and bigger and bigger--is part of keeps me away from domestic chores. You can dump your whole life into it, decades, and still when you get up in the morning, there's more dog hair and dust.

    When I write words, they stay written. I like that.

  6. I'm still giggling!
    Where do you get those fairies? Can you order them on line and are the house cleaning ones different than the yard making ones? If I order two do I get a discount?

  7. Amanda, this sounds like something I would do. And yes, I have a lot of writing projects like this. THE ROGUE PIRATE'S BRIDE was like this. I started writing it and then realized I knew virtually nothing about ships and sailing. I got quite an education!

  8. The picture of flowers was awesome. They are so lovely to look at but I don't want to plant, tend, or pick them.

  9. C.H. - my advice is if it's green don't look too close and call it good! Since I write mefievals too I can totally relate to getting immersed. I might try to figure out how they would sing a letter and hours later I'm reading the Song of Roland and I'm not even sure how I got there!

    Terry - very true! On one of my tangents I found that French knights came to Scotland in 1355 and fought with the clans against England. The thought of French knights mixing it up with Highlanders became the basis for THE HIGHLANDER'S HEART and TRUE HIGHLAND SPIRIT. Sometimes those tangents are important!

  10. Samantha - ah yes, the beauty of hiring someone who actually knows what they are doing! Fortunately we were able to find a guy with an excavator. Though he did NOT need to tell us all the work we did just made his job harder!

    Victoria - I am quite impressed with all the work you have done on your house!! I've been wanting to remodel my bathroom since we moved in - I don't have the $ or the guts. Good luck on reclaiming your kitchen!

  11. Grace - the sorcerers apprentice is a perfect analogy - it is never ending! Thank you for giving me a lovely justification for a messy (the euphemism police are now after me too) house. I like writing much better too!

    Carolyn - I've been black listed by the enchanted fairies - something about inhumane working conditions. Tried to order some more on eBay without success. Let me know if you find a source!

  12. Shana - and that reminds me I need to get a copy of PIRATES BRIDE. There's a rogue, a pirate, a bride - what could be better?! I have a thought of someday writing a regency era book with a privateer hero. Must finish several other manuscripts before I can even think about it, so I'll have to read yours to get my pirate fix!

    Amelia - if only I could turn my dandelion crop into some sort of money making source I'd be rich! Unfortunately too many people are slightly biased against the maligned dandelion (including myself since we dug them all up!). Of course we still have the back yard...

  13. Around here one might think grass is growing until the nice green blades suddenly start sprouting foxtails (those darn things that get stuck everywhere...including socks, pet's toes and ears, etc.). Don't all projects suddenly morph out of control once you start them?

  14. Elf2060 - yes, I know all about morphing out of control! Of course now that we fixed the lawn, the rest of the landscaping looks shabby. It never ends...

  15. I am too, Amanda. I always forget to water them. But I love gardens, and really enjoyed your post!