More of the Other Love…

Header Bonsai

 

The Oak   cont.

 

The morning after the marathon dig, I awoke with a stiff neck and pounding headache. The result, no doubt, of spending what seemed like hours on my knees, with my head and shoulders bent over a muddy hole as I tried to convince a stubborn young oak tree that it was time to change residence.

Said oak tree was now reclining in a bucket of water in my yard and today, I had to trim the taproots and introduce it to its new home. At this stage this was an old washing up bowl, the only thing I had big enough to give it the room it needed to establish a good root ball.

This could take a year or more, so it was important to make the tree as comfortable as possible while all this was going on. Unfortunately, I had to trim back most of the top growth to enable it to concentrate on root production.

This tree has taxed my imagination and my determination. Not to mention most of my strength. My sore muscles and badly bruised arms are testament to how difficult it was to dig the tree up without killing it.

Sitting in the sunshine on my old work bench, the tree looked as battle scarred as I was. I knew we would both heal in time, but first I had to make him comfortable. I used the best soil mixture and a sprinkling of Rootgrow, a mycorrhizal fungi guaranteed to encourage root growth. I also used hormone rooting powder at strategic points around the base of the tree.

I was dealing with a fair-sized lump of wood and it was important to anchor it firmly in the soil so it couldn’t rock about. I found some soft cords in my sewing basket which were perfect for the job.

 

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The family have named him, Oakey Dokey!

 

All the time I was working on the oak, I was growing more and more confident about the success of my venture. Considering the trees history and what had just happened to it, it looked quite healthy and one day it would look magnificent!

AAA (2)

 

The Other Love… continued

 

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The  Oak Tree

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The weather had turned hot, not exactly digging weather and the oak was growing at the front of the house in full view of the sun.

I tried to judge when would be a good time to start, but it wasn’t looking good. The hot sun was constant, not losing heat until it began to set at around 7pm. I prayed for more cloud or even rain, as it wouldn’t be the first time I had been gardening in the pouring rain. In an emergency, I once put up 20 feet of fencing like that. If I need to do something, a little water will not stop me.

It doesn’t get dark until nearly 10pm, I would have three hours to get the job done.

 

When the time came, I had a few words with my target before I started digging. Not asking for a miracle or any cooperation, you understand, for I knew what I was in for. More to explain what I wanted to do. After all, this was an oak, once sacred and maybe still could be. It had been trying to grow in the wrong place for nearly 12 years, so although it was only two feet high, the roots would be extensive and most of them would be thick tap roots.

 

I started digging the trench around the tree again, meeting several large tap roots in the process. I severed these and kept digging. These were primarily for stability and wouldn’t be needed for what I had in mind.

The trench could only extend halfway around the tree for it was growing so close to our ancient wall. At this point, the job was beginning to look impossible. The trench was nearly 2 feet deep, but the tree wasn’t moving.

 

Time to start undercutting, so I produced my kneeling pad and set to work.

Several enormous tap roots later, there was still no movement and there had to be a reason. One last tap root was holding the tree in place, but I hadn’t spotted (or felt it) yet.

Despite the sun going down, it didn’t seem any cooler. I was dripping with sweat, very muddy and bleeding from several nasty gouges on both arms.

This oak wasn’t playing nice and I was exhausted, but not beaten or about to give up.

I cleared more soil to find the offending root.

 

My heart almost stopped when I found it. Covered in mud, it had been almost invisible and the size of it was incredible. It was the size of my arm!

Time to attack it with my branch saw.

 

I battled for another hour, determined to succeed in walking away with the sacred oak in my arms.

When it finally came free, I almost crawled around to my back yard, where I dumped it unceremoniously into a large bucket of water…

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Tune in later for what happened next…

AAA (2)

Jaye’s Journal ~ week 29

 

Jaye's Journal x12

 

There have been so many ups and downs this week, and I’m giddy.

The first few days I couldn’t do right for doing wrong. Jobs I do on a regular basis were going wrong and as for some of the new stuff I am trying to learn, don’t ask.

At one point I thought my brain must have gone for a walk, as I couldn’t understand a bloody word!

This was bad enough, but then I discovered that some of the work I thought I had managed to do, was in fact, rubbish. Add to all of that, I was trying desperately to get used to Windows 10 and a new version of Word too, and everywhere I went, everything seemed to have been updated or changed, sometimes for the worse. My life was becoming unbearable (as a writer/blogger anyway!)

So, during all of this, when I turned up at the hospital for the post-surgery check up on my new eye, I was delighted to be told it had healed beautifully and was behaving brilliantly. Not that I was getting the benefit much as the other eye seems worse by comparison. I seem to spend most of my time with one eye shut, but at least something had turned out all right.

The next few days were a strange mixture of joy and confusion as my good news was slowly suffocated by everything malfunctioning. This Windows 10 is the devils work and my laptop seems to be joining forces with it, almost convincing me to find a better way to spend my time!

What kept me going was the determination to rescue that Oak sapling and encourage it to be a bonsai. I knew this would be hard to do, but the idea wouldn’t leave me alone…

Tune in later this week for how it all went!

AAA (2)

 

#Jaye’s Journal… week 28

Jaye's Journal x12

 

Beaten by a Tree!

 

I failed to rescue the oak sapling.

 

 

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The oak sapling!

 

I tried my best but as I hacked away at the weeds surrounding it, it became apparent that it would not be an easy task.

We had always called it a sapling for it was only a foot high, completely forgetting how many times it had been cut back over the years.

I discovered that the base of this tree was very large and mostly rotten. It was also growing so close to the wall and I suspected the roots would be entangled in the brickwork.

But was I disheartened?

Not even a little bit. This is where being stubborn can pay dividends, but whether this would be a good day for stubbornness remained to be seen.

I dug a trench around the tree, severing several rather large tap roots in the process.  These would not be needed if I succeeded in creating a bonsai out of it. Tap roots are mainly for stability, and it’s the fine fibrous roots you need to protect.

When I tried to lever the root ball out of the hole with my trusty garden fork, it wouldn’t budge. Doubt began to sink in, nudging my determination to one side, so I tried to tug at it with all my strength, just to see some kind of movement. Anything to justify digging deeper.

This is when my determination failed, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to save this tree. It had been there too long and probably had tap roots in Australia.

I felt very sad at this point, for the tree would have to removed somehow, probably in pieces before it brought the wall down. But if my detemination pays another visit, I may have another go!

The wall in question was probably as old as our house, built in 1887 so saving it was more important than anything I wanted to do with the oak. (at least, that’s what common sense was telling me!)

******

Todays disapointment reminded me of another one of my failures, one even sadder that happened several years ago. I tried to rescue a beautiful red acer from a demolition site. I couldn’t bear the thought of it being mown down by a bulldozer, so asked the builder in charge if he minded my removing it.  I knew it would be difficult, for whoever planted it had built a rockery around it, creating quite a lovely Chinese garden.

But before I could get started, the helpful builder took it upon himself to rip it up and present it to me, so proud of his handy work.

It hung there in his hand, already limp, the roots bare and damaged and I knew he had probably just killed it.

I did my best for that tree, carefully planted it in the best soil. I kept it in the shade and misted the leaves regularly to help it recover. Gradually, despite my efforts, I watched it die and all my prayers and efforts came to nothing.

I think a little piece of me died that day too…

AAA (2)

#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 26

Jaye's Journal x12

 

As I get closer to the end of editing PayBack, my WIP, I keep thinking about the strange visitor I had just before Christmas. The man who appeared out of nowhere and literally put his finger on what was slowing down the plot in my writing.

Remember him?

You can read that post HERE

Back then he had been so insightful about the lead character in my book, something I greatly appreciated at the time. Then, this morning he had strolled back into my office as if it was the most natural thing in the world. I had no idea where he had come from or even if he was real, but what was he doing here now?

I had a good look at him while his attention was caught by something on my monitor. He wasn’t from this world, for his clothing was old fashioned. The resemblance to Mark Twain was striking, every inch the famous writer and riverboat captain.

I have long been a fan of his wisdom and sense of humour, so if this was indeed him, who better to mentor me and speak to me about my writing.

But how could I tell him he had wasted his journey, as the book was all but finished. I didn’t need his help now. I had to say something but didn’t want to seem ungrateful or rude, but had to say something, didn’t I?

His kindly eyes twinkled as he looked at me and to my relief, I knew he would speak first.

“I see the masterpiece is almost finished, ma’am and I presume from the satisfied look on your face that you think the hard work is done?”

I didn’t know what to say. I mean, what can you say to someone who is probably just the figment of an overtired brain?

“Yes, the book is almost complete, and I am reasonably happy with it.” I waited, wondering what he would say next, but he didn’t seem in any hurry to divulge the reason for his visit. He strolled around the office looking at my collection of books. The computer kept drawing his gaze, but it didn’t warrant a comment.

“I have been thinking about you and how you plan to market the book. Do you actually have a plan?

His question surprised me, mainly because I hadn’t given much thought to how writers managed to sell their books back in his time. I knew his books were popular, but how did they get that way? By all accounts, Mark Twain wasn’t a very good businessman and bankrupt at one point due to bad investments.

So how could I ask his advice about the right way to promote my book?

I heard a chuckle and turned to find him smiling at me.

“I assume by your lack of an answer, that you don’t have much of a plan and by the puzzled look on your face I can also assume that you don’t think I am qualified to offer any advice on the subject?”

He had just succeeded in making me feel both rude and stupid, but he had hit the nail on the head.

“That was wrong of me and I apologise, but your turning up like this is a little unnerving you know. Just how did your books become bestsellers?”

He tweaked his snow-white moustache between his fingers as he thought about my question. “I made many mistakes back then, but I also learned something very important.  The most important lesson was to stop trying to sell my product and sell myself instead. You see, if you can make people like you, they will want to buy your book. It really is that simple.”

My mind was racing. Was this why most of the articles I read always stress the importance of communication?

When I looked up to thank him, the room was empty. He had vanished as suddenly as he arrived, and I wondered if I would ever see him again…

AAA (2)

 

Jaye’s Journal ~ week 26

Jaye's Journal x12

 

During the discussions about my cataracts, I was assured that between eye surgeries I would not notice too much difference between the new eye and the old one.

It has since become clear to me that they were in no position to make such claims, as the difference between my eyes is unpleasant and very marked.

The remodelled eye does not need the distance glasses anymore, and its reading capability has improved dramatically too.

The other eye seems so much worse by comparison and I’m sure it’s not my imagination. Luckily, they want to fix that one as soon as possible, but in the meantime, I am finding reading and writing quite a trial. (even with one eye closed)

Of course, all of this is seriously delaying publication of WIP, for although I have almost finished editing, I don’t have a snowballs chance in hells chance of getting to grips with any promotion.

The upgrade to Windows 10 is still ongoing and I’m almost at the end of my rope there too as there are still a few wrinkles that I cannot seem to get around. I might have to admit defeat and make do with what I have managed to sort out so far.

I’m just grateful I have a reasonably well-behaved laptop to take up the slack. The print is small but manageable.

Add to all the above not being allowed to bend over or exert myself in any way for a week is frustrating the hell out of me. I’m not sure why either, unless they worry about the eye falling out?

AAA (2)

 

Life, but not as we thought it would be…

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In an effort to ignore what will be happening tomorrow, I have been burying my head in the computer, trying to catch up on all the things I haven’t managed to get around to on the newly installed Windows 10. Some days I love the new arrangement of everything, but days when it defeats me are still happening.

In my wildest dreams, I could never have dreamed what I would be getting up to in my advancing years. Just goes to show how far you can come if you let yourself dream big.

I have always hated anything to do with computers for they are illogical, slow and complicated. I firmly believe they were sent by the devil to drive us all mad. At least, that’s what happens in our house!

But it wasn’t always this way.

There was a time when the idea of a machine with such amazing capabilities did seem like a fantastic advantage. But my first encounter with one, some thirty years ago, probably ruined me for life. This was when it was in its infancy, and you had to upload or input reams of data to do even the simplest thing. My son was playing chess on this strange looking box and I wanted to have a go. What he forgot to mention, was if you made even a small mistake in entering this data (which seemed to take hours) you would get a big fat nothing. Stubbornly, I tried and tried but failed to get it to work.

Fast forward to just a few years ago, when Indie publishing started making headlines.

Despite my earlier disappointment, I felt myself warming to the idea. I wouldn’t have to input masses of data like before, so maybe it would be easier to use. We all know the answer to that supposition, don’t we?

I still hate computers with a passion, but I do appreciate just how wonderful they are if you can learn the ropes. I still have days when I could beat mine to death with a mallet, but this is more to do with my stubborn brain than anything else. Because they can sometimes do so many amazing things, it encourages us mortals to reach for the stars.

Way back at the beginning of my blogging career, I can remember wondering if I would ever write a book, and now I have written three, well, five if you count the non-fiction ones and am close to finishing another. At the time, I was happily editing Anita’s books. I never thought a muse would bother me.

When it did, I was astonished by just how addictive writing can become. The most surprising thing was the behaviour of my characters. They became like old friends, and I enjoyed their company so much, the first book turned into a series. Even now, they are nagging me to let them loose again!

It has been an amazing and often terrifying journey, from that first ever blog post to eventually formatting e-books, paperback copies and book trailers. Learning how to put a book together was hard, but the writing was the best part, once I convinced myself that it was something I could do, after all.

None of which was easy for the biggest technophobe this side of Microsoft, someone who battles technology every single day for that magical moment when realisation dawns and I finally understands how things work.

I am well past retiring age now, but I am busier than ever and have no intentions of slowing down or stopping, for where would the fun be in that?

This journey still has some mileage, however, for there are a few things I haven’t attempted yet, and several that need improving. So I won’t be putting away my thinking cap just yet.

As they said when I was at school, “There is always room for improvement…”


Jaye’s Journal ~ week 25

Jaye's Journal x12

 

“I have not failed; I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

 

My mind has attempted to narrow my field of worry this week. I know all my problems are still there, but I am doing my best to ignore them and carry on as if I don’t have a care in the world. But apart from what will happen on Friday morning, all I can concentrate on is finishing my WIP.

I thought I was almost there, only to discover several sections that need a rewrite; a character that really should be killed off and then deal with the subsequent effect on the rest of the cast. There is also the question of length. Just how long are novels these days?

I still have what I call the ‘pretty edit’, the final polish or gloss coat for all the characters, their emotions and settings. Making sure the whole thing is as good as I can possibly make it. Only then will I be finished with it. At bloody last!

To avoid thinking about Friday morning and my eye surgery, my mind keeps drifting to the marketing and how I intend to manage it. With having only one good eye at any given time over the next few weeks, this should be interesting.

Previous attempts at promoting my novels didn’t exactly set the publishing world alight, but what with the state of said world, I am beginning to wonder if my efforts will be worth the bother anyway! And before you jump all over me, I know that it really is!

Just two more days to go!

This makes it sound as though I am looking forward to it and I can assure you I’m not!

My nerves are beginning to make an appearance, despite keeping myself busy.  The weather chose today to be kind. Glorious blue skies, masses of sunshine and it actually felt warm. It was too good an opportunity to miss, so I abandoned the editing and left the office. I spent the afternoon in the garden. First, I tended my bonsai who had grown like crazy with all the rain. Then a walk around the garden to see what has been happening in my absence.

Then I noticed the beast.

This is the 40-foot-long, 4-foot-wide, and 6-foot-high hedge that separates our garden from the neighbours. All the rain has caused it to grow alarmingly high. The lovely neat outline I created last autumn now just a memory. Just get the trimmer out, I hear you saying. Well, I could, but if there are any nesting birds in it, they wouldn’t like it. I had a quick check and there were two sparrow nests full of babies about halfway down the hedge. So, the most I could do was trim the end that was trying to block the path. The rest will have to wait until the nests are empty.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the sun. My back is killing me, but I didn’t think about Friday once!

AAA (2)

 

 

#Jaye’s Journal ~ Week 24 (a bit late)

Jaye's Journal x12

 

The letter from the hospital arrived yesterday and the first of my cataracts will be removed next week and I have a pre op appointment tomorrow to check me out. I wonder what happened to the ten weeks wait I was told to expect.

We left early to get to the hospital for we can never judge what the car parking will be like and arrived far too early. The hospital was busy, but we managed to find out where we were supposed to be. The Eye department is one of the oldest parts of the hospital and didn’t have any of the iced water machines that I like so much, and my mouth was as dry as a bone.

By the time we sat down in the waiting room, there was still half an hour to wait, so was very surprised when my name was called. A kind and pleasant male nurse welcomed me, proceeded to check me over and then explained what would be happening to me. Though I was a little perturbed when he said I wouldn’t feel a thing, and then calmly said that a nurse would be holding my hand, so I could squeeze it if I felt anything. Not very reassuring!

I appreciated this more than you know, for the last time I was there, I was subjected to a pompous, short tempered consultant who clearly thought I was wasting his time. My treatment today was very different.

I just know that the next six days are going to be awful…

###

There was me thinking I would have plenty of time to finish the WIP and make a few inroads into the marketing, but this unexpected news has literally knocked me for six. Mainly, I hope, because I wasn’t expecting it. Not that I am worried about them slicing bits of my eyes. Well, maybe just a little…

The thought of all this disruption is having a weird effect on me. Instead of getting a move on and pressing the panic button, I seem to be doing the opposite and moving around as though up to my neck in treacle. Almost everything is far too much trouble and I cannot be asked to do anything.

It is affecting the weather too, and it hasn’t stopped raining for days. Absolutely no chance of doing any gardening either then.

Thinking is becoming more difficult too, is it because I am facing the Unknown?

Two days of inertia later, I have managed to scrape together some enthusiasm. Guilt will always work, don’t you find?

After making such good progress last week with the new PC and Word, several peculiar wrinkles decide to make an appearance, completely undermining my confidence again. Needless to say, I didn’t need this.

I have been struggling to do so many things, things I had no trouble doing before.  I have the feeling I am out of my depth with technology, a feeling I haven’t had since the early days.

What do you do when you have misplaced your enthusiasm?

I know that when you get to my age, you begin to run out of things, like patience, common sense, memory and a simple thing like joy. Then there are the knees that no longer want to work anymore and a back that starts to ache even before you get up in the morning.

Add to that several weeks months of only having one usable eye and the next part of my life is going to be interesting.

Just don’t call me Cyclops!

Anita has just said something that made me smile. She said ‘Don’t forget, in the Kingdom of the blind, the one eyed is King…’

AAA (2)

 

Jaye’s Journal – Week 22

Jaye's Journal x12

 

After much searching, comparing and pulling my hair out, I finally found a PC that has everything I wanted at a price I could almost afford. I have this problem with shopping online, as I never seem to end up liking what I buy. Never been any good choosing anything and always get it wrong.

It arrived yesterday, and my old friend nagging doubt turned up with it.

Much smaller than I thought it would be, although I believe this is the new trend, and still managed to look pretty scary. Immediately, I found a possible problem. The activation label clearly said Windows 7, even though I thought I ordered Windows 10.

So, I might have done it again and chosen the wrong one.

Because of the Bank Holiday, I had to wait until Tuesday to telephone the company, for there was no way I would start switching over until they reassure me.

Switching over PCs is not something I enjoy or am any good at, as my tech skills are dismal at best, so at this stage I was still asking myself why I had actually volunteered to do this.

One of the reviews stated enthusiastically that all I had to do is take it out of the box, plug in all the cables and then switch it on.

That I just cannot believe.

The way things are going though, I may never get that far to find out.

 

While I waited, it was business as usual on my old less than faithful pc, despite the frequent crashing, freezing and crazy spelling games it plays. But it gave me a nasty moment this morning.

I switched it on, and instead of my pretty screensaver, the screen was plain blue. There was no icons and no wifi. I feared the worst. Had it beaten me to the punch?

That would be ironic, wouldn’t it?

A brand new PC that I don’t want to install and my old one commits Hara Kiri on me!

After a reboot, everything was fine again, at least for the moment…

Moving swiftly on to the designated torture day…

I had been dreading this day for so long, and was one of the reasons I delayed doing anything about it. I heard so many bad reports about Windows 10, and was more than happy with my old faithful Windows 7, but as they say, all good things have to come to an end.

The new computer came with it already installed, so I had no choice but to hunt for my thinking cap, put it on and see what, if anything I could do with it. There was quite a long wait for the new pc to load or whatever it had to do. They said it would take time, but wasn’t expecting three hours of thumb twiddling!

What followed was one of the worst moments of my life. I stared at the alien screen, trying not to feel as sick as a parrot by the sheer enormity of what I had done. (and still had to do!) And what was rapidly turning into what I might not be able to do.

I retired wounded for the day, not having mastered any of it.

I have a book, aptly called Windows 10 for Seniors, so I spent the evening going further into the depths of insanity, reading anything that sounded helpful. But in reality, none of made any sense to me.

The following day, inspired by my refusal to quit, I switched the offending machine back on and played around, pressing everything in sight and seeing what happened. I found help screens that weren’t very, then tried to connect using my Microsoft account password.

You don’t want to know how long that took.

One day on, and I have surprised myself. Things are magically beginning to work!

There have been a pile of things I had to fix, one of them involved the speakers, which for some reason didn’t want to work. The sound, when I found  out how to turn it on, came out of the tower thingy and sounded as though there was an idiot trapped in there.

Basically, and this really hurts to admit, I think I like my new computer and can foresee a bright future. A very poor future, for along with the cost of the thing, I had to cough up for a brand new Microsoft Word too…

Off to start uploading thousands of my images and files, so not going anywhere this weekend.

I hope everyone else has a good one though…

AAA (2)

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