A Garden Beginning

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Burn

Last Thursday at The Arboretum we had a controlled burn! We burned half of our Wildflower Meadow to get rid of the grass thatch and give more soil space to the wildflowers. We only burned half because we want to see how one area will respond before we burn it all (Would invasives take over?). The fire department did the burn, it seemed to be a learning experience for most of them because most just stood around. Sadly, I had to stand around as well. I wanted to be involved somehow, besides just taking pictures, but there was nothing for us to do because it was such a small area being burned. You can see in the photo above that they used a kind of blowtorch to do the burn. It never became a raging fire, but it was exciting. It's one of those things I've always read about with meadow restoration and natural landscaping, but had never witnessed.

The yuccas were spared by spot burning. P.S. I just finished reading Blindness by Jose Saramago, who one a Nobel prize for it, and am currently reading a selection of essays called The Eleventh Draft written by a number of writers who have participated in the Iowa Writing Workshop. It's given me some encouragement to keep going. Blindness is about a man who goes blind suddenly one day, who sees everything milky white instead of dark, and it turns out that his blindness is extremely contagious...and that's all I'll say about it, except that I recommend reading it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Highland Center for Natural History in Prescott

Yesterday I went to Prescott Arizona with a group of staff and docents from the The Arboretum to see the site of the Highlands Center for Natural History (People here pronounce Prescott as "press-cut." They are a small organization with only five staff members and are working on constructing a sustainably-built multipurpose building. The building is passive solar (takes advantage of the position of the sun to regulate temperature) and was made with locally available materials (the interior rock wall below was made from rocks across the street--nice isn't it?). The rain water is collected from the roof and they will be using it to irrigate the native landscaping that will be around them. They also have, pictured above, a constructed wetland with gigantic bulrushes to help clean their grey water (the water from the house minus the sewage). I was impressed; it's an ambitious project. The site is in ponderosa pine forest, but it is a bit drier and warmer there so they have many more desertish plants than we have in Flagstaff. Manzanitas, yuccas, and scrub oak were abundant. There is a nice trail that goes down to a creek (oh and there's a composting toilet along the way, much cleaner looking than a regular restroom). I enjoyed seeing another area of Arizona and a sustainable building, and spending some time with my coworkers.

Rainwater from the roof pours into this funnel-sculpture and cascades as a waterfall on the rocks and into a drain below.

P.S. I'm still writing a half hour each day. I haven't been good about posting my progress. The writing is a bit slower than it has been. I need to pick up the pace and/or make my writing sessions longer.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Wolf Kahn

These are pastel and oil paintings by Wolf Kahn. I stumbled on a book of his work while at the the public library when I first moved to Flagstaff. I like his use of color and strong shapes, and how his work is built up with subtle layers. Strong and ethereal at the same time.

Here's the weekly writing report: I have written for at least a half hour everyday. I now have 16 pages, many more character names, and a clearer vision of the characters and storyline. I'm also reading a great book called "Shut up!" He Explained by William Noble. It's concise and full of examples about how to use dialogue in a story. Thought provoking. Now I just need to practice some of these techniques and learn to use them wisely in my book. For the next couple of weeks I will continue writing for a half hour each day and begin to consider the next step. Take care.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

National Novel Writing Month

What a coincidence, November is National Writing Month. You can read about it here: http://dir.yahoo.com/thespark/3750/get-ready-to-write. (My writing schedule is not changing, however.)

What is this? Ten points for who ever gets it right first.