Cover of Johnny Appleseed by Jodie Shpherd; Illustrationed by Masumi FurukawaJohnny Appleseed. Written by Jodie Shepherd. Illustrated by Masumi Furukawa. Scholastic. ISBN: 978-0-545-22306-5. $3.99 (Amazon: $3.99 / No yet on Kindle).

Johnny Appleseed was a real person. Most of us heard the stories of how he traveled about the country 200 or so years ago planting apple trees everywhere he went. But, he was a real person. He was born in Massachusetts and named Johnny Chapman.

Jodie Shepherd tells the story of the boy and the man behind the legend. Every legend has a beginning and Johnny Appleseed didn’t start out to be a legend — he lived his life and his works spoke for him.

It is a simple story, well told and beautifully illustrated with lovely representational folk art (only more realistic and with perspective) in nice muted colors.

It can be a book you read to a child, or a slightly older children can read for themselves. If your child is interested in apples, and early American legends, this might be a good way to get them excited about books and the written word.

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Can you believe that after noting here that Earth Hour was coming up and getting all excited about it — well, I never got a chance to do anything about it. We had a planning meeting that day, and it was in DC. After the meeting, because we were there and it was supposed to snow, this years Capclave Chair and Hyperion and I met to discuss strategies for the Capclave website and Blog and online publicity.

Once that was done it was about an hour Metro back to the car and then we had to do the weekly shopping in Waldorf. By the time we headed home it was nearly 8:30 and by the time we got home it was nearly 9:30 p.m. We kept light to a minimum but in the past we’ve turned them all off and either read by candle light or oil lamp. So, we’ve been very careful the past few days to turn lights off when we leave a room and not use one if not necessary. Okay, we do that anyway but I’m being compulsive about it now.

Meanwhile, SFRevu and Gumshoe Review go live with the new issues on April 1st so I’ve been working steadily on getting things ready.

What’s making everything more difficult is the lack of energy. I’ve got problems with energy levels anyway and after fighting the flu for the past 3 1/2 to 4 weeks — I feel like walking across the room is the equivalent to running a quarter-mile. It’s weird when you stand up and suddenly all our energy drains out and all you want to do is curl up on the floor and sleep. I find myself looking down to see if I can see the energy leaking out of my heel. I’ve taken to wearing shoes and socks instead of going around in just my socks in case that will help hold in the energy. Haven’t seen anything leaking out of my heel — but really it feels like it should be visible.

But, the good news is that while I was sick, Spring sprung. One day last week — I think it was Wednesday — I looked out the window and the pear trees had flowers, the forsythia was blooming, the daffodils along the woodland path were in bloom, and the chives and some other herbs were showing signs of growth. Spring happened. I just sat with my coffee and contemplated how nice it was to just wake up and see such signs of spring all around me. It’s a great change from all the grey dreariness that came before with rain, overcast skies, and blah days.

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Today, we spent most of our day outside doing yard work. We’ll it seemed like all day but was only about 3 hours. We’d done housework first. But anyway we managed to do:

  • finished weeding the strawberry patch
  • planted 22 new strawberry plants
  • pulled all the creeping jenny in the yard (before it goes to seed and explodes all over the place.
  • pulled all the sprouting tees from the yard and garden area.
  • planted a rhubarb plant in a container (we lost the last one to moles/voles so this should keep it alive.
  • planted a tub of potato plants (one of those new cloth containers for potatoes from Gardener’s Supply
  • Moved 2 wooden pallets, a wooden table top, and a glass door from next to the house to the shed area out of sight.
  • Cleaned up all the bits of plastic plant identifiers from previous years, old bits of lawn decorations, and just plain crap and put it in the trash for pick up.
  • Put up the Spring flag near the driveway entrance– Home is where the heart is.
  • Hyperion here:  She forgot the most important part:  Paying attention to the cat.  Emnot was all over us the entire time, rubbing our ankles, flopping on her back and waving her paws in the air, and generally begging for pettings … which we liberally supplied.  She may be an attention hog, but she does make working in the garden more fun.

Yesterday we went to the Home & Garden Show in Upper Marlboro, MD at the Equestrian Center. We set up appointments to have people come and give us estimates on replacing our windows in the living room (all single pane uninsulated glass– talk about your money going out the windows … we lose heat in winter and the cool in summer), fixing the leak in the skylight in the bedroom, and finishing our basement (office area and guest room/mother-in-law area), and finishing the cleaning/staining on the rest of the outside of the house (we already did the front half that we could reach.).

So, this has been a good, productive weekend even though I’m behind in my reading. Hopefully I’ll catch up over the coming week. I’ve had three really pretty good days except for the migraine on Friday so I’ve been pushing things to get some of the physical stuff done. Now, it’s back to work on the rest of my To Do list.

Hope your weekend was productive and fun too.


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Well, not really cabbages and kings, but close enough.  First a whine: today is day 2 of a migraine — I’m done now, but my head seems not to care.  Anyway, it has been awhile since I posted and I thought I should catch up a bit.  First, we’ve been pushing back on the leaf raking or rather…gaining ground.  Here’s a photo of the garden area now that the leaves have been off for a week or so.

The garden area on the side of the house

You can see there’s more green on the ground. The Hostas are pushing up on the upper level nearer the house. The herbs are greening up in the circle. We’ve still got to pull up the old square foot gardens and replace with the new ones that are of plastic wood-look boards that won’t rot after a couple of years like the current one. We getting ready to put in the potatoes and strawberry plants. I’ve still got to start seeds or if not soon, we’ll need to buy vegetable plants.

I’ve complained about how far the house is from the mailboxes (about 1/4 mile) so here’s a photo of the house (you can see it through the trees. This is from about slightly less than 1/4 of the way back to the house.

Our house through the trees from the driveway.

Spring is definitely here in spite of the temperatures being between the low 40s and the high 80s at a day’s notice. Here’s two photos of our Peony Trees — one has pink flowers and the other white. Yesterday morning they had buds just starting to look like they were thinking about opening. Last evening they were partially open. Today this is what I saw.

Our Peony Tree with its pink blossoms

Our Peony Tree with white blossoms

Meanwhile, we have four azalea bushes. One has bloomed and is nearly all gone. One is in bud and about ready to open up. The other two are way behind and I hope will bloom later.

Azalea buds

One of the joys of getting all the leaves raked up is the wild flowers that show up. This is a closeup of a violet looking flower that is now covering a lot of the lawn area of the yard. Makes for some smiles when you look down at the ground.

Violet looking flower in the yard

We’ve recently been adopted by a cat. I’m highly allergic to cats so Emmy is going to be an outdoor cat though it is obvious that Emmy feels that indoors would be much better. We’ve build a “feral cat house” for her/him (we don’t know what gender Emmy is yet — but from now on I’ll default to her). She’s actually sleeping in the house so it is being used.

Emmy, the cat -- a black and white Tuxedo short-hair

Emmy showed up during the last snow storm in Maryland back in March. She was one of several cats that got dumped out on the main road. At first there were two cats that came to beg food at our house — Emmy and another cat with similar marking but smaller. Emmy stuck around but the other one seems to have made other arrangements. Emmy is affectionate, quiet (she occasionally squeaks, not meows, but she can purr). We can’t help but give her the appropriate scritches and pats when she strops herself about our legs. She’s comes trotting out when I go out to rake and watches from under a bush or by laying nearby. Of course after I get a big pile she needs to attack it to see that it is animal free.

Last week she brought me a dead something — mouse or vole. I gave praises and such but she hasn’t brought another one to me yet. We’re hoping she’ll help with the mole/vole problem we have in our yard. The ground is all spongy from their burrows.

Anyway, she’s a lovely cat. Calm. Loving. Sweet tempered. How anyone could dump such a lovely thing is beyond me. I’d heard stories of people dumping their animals out in rural area but this is my first run in with that. It’s as if they think the animals they have as pets are just disposable items not worth thinking about. Get tired of them and dump them off to fend or themselves or die. If the animal is really lucky they might get taken in by someone but there are only so many animals that rural areas can take in. Dumping animals is wrong no matter how you look at it — but then I wouldn’t wish Emmy to have to live with the sort of people who would dump an animal out on a country road.

Of course, our next problem is that Emmy, for all her good characteristics, is very leary of getting too close to us and skitters away if we move too fast or startle her. At some point we need to trap and neuter — guess that’s when we’ll learn the actual gender of this lovely cat. Meanwhile, we try to socialize her to having people around.


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Picture of Fall Leaves PaperToday was one of those days that aren’t too bad  if you can ignore the constant ringing in the ears.  Yesterday, I managed to catch up on a lot of data entry and finished a project.  So, that meant today I could try to get some reading in — the truth is if you don’t make time for reading it’s difficult to write reviews.  So, reading is nice especially when the temps are a bit nicer and the living room isn’t an ice box — which means I get to curl up on my reading chair instead of having to sit in my office chair at the dining room table (because it’s the warmest room in the house in cold weather).  Managed to read a whole book today.

Luckily, I also managed a load of wash, feeding the birds, feeding the cats, and sweeping the floors — all of them.  Good thing I then sat to read because the sweeping nearly did in the back.  I stopped before the cramping twitches turned evil.

Managed to clear up some paper messes in the dining room/office.  Read some more.  Finally took a break just before Hyperion got home and went out and raked some leaves.  Really, you’d think trees would clean up after themselves or at the very least crumble into dirt in the spring so no one has to rake them all up — again to get the garden area ready.

Tomorrow I’ve got start seeds on my TODO list.  Hope to get to it because it’s March already.  Time to plan the garden and get it all cleared of leaves and weeds and crap so we can get things ready for planting in a month. I’m really looking forward to getting the garden in.

My problem is that I’m either to eager to start and everything is leggy by the time it’s nice enough to put them in the ground or I wait until it’s way too late to even start and we end up just buying a few plants (tomatos, peppers, cucumbers) and planting lettuce so we at least have salad stuff during the summer.

Spring is the time of year when hope springs eternal that dreams will come true — that the garden will grow vegetables and the weeds won’t even think of poking a leaf out of the ground.

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Pain of the BluesGot to the doctor’s office yesterday and saw the PA. Now I have an Rx for Prednisone. Today is day two. I forgot about the headaches I always get while on the stuff. So far no difference and a few new spots. The itching is driving me crazy even with the cream they gave me.

It seems that every year I go through a few bouts of poison ivy. This year I thought I had it covered. I bought some great gardening gloves that come up to the elbow (Foxgloves). Then over those a regular pair of heavy duty gloves for the hands. The poison ivy started just above the elbow — darned if I know how it got that high because there was barely a 1/2 before the sleeve of my shirt. This is so frustrating and there weren’t any 3-leaved anythings where we were weeding but there was some suspicious 5-leaved vines and bushy-stuff. I think it’s out to get me.

Gumshoe Review LogoWe’re also approaching the end of the month and gearing up to get SFRevu and Gumshoe Review online with their July issues on the first of the month. It’s shaping up to be two great issues — lots of reviews and a special teaser for next August.

Hyperion and I will be attending Readercon 20, July 9-12 and held in the Burlington Marriott, Burlington, Massachusetts. SFRevu will have a table in the dealers’ room. Ernest Lilley and I will be on programming while Hyperion manages the table. So, if by any chance you’re going to be there, drop by and say “Hello”. When I have more details about my schedule I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, I’ve got to go put something on these itchy spots before I dig some divots out of myself. Arrrghhh.

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Ice-Covered BerriesIf you’re a bit like me, the vegetable bins in the fridge have been renamed the ‘rotter drawers’.  Can’t really deny it.  Things that go in those drawers are out of sight and out of mind.  I’ve pretty much solved that problem by putting only things that keep well in the drawers — like cheese and pepperoni and other hearty survivors.  The veggies? Well they now go on the shelves where I can see them.

But the things that get moved to the back of the bottom two shelves still have a tendency to rot.  I’ve got a bad back and to really get into those shelves I need to drag a chair out to the kitchen and sit to look.  We intend to solve that issue with a ‘freezer on the bottom’ fridge but that’s going to be a bit down the lists of things to do for the house because the current one (which came with the house) works fine except for my inability to bend over and dig into the hidden areas.  So, wait I must, until we get some other needed issues taken care of.

But, I always thought that I used the freezer fairly well.  I mean a bit of freezer burn here and there and a series of compensatory cooking to take care of it and not lose food — so, I thought I was doing good.  But then I saw this article in the NY Times, “The Minimalist: Freeze that Thought” (free to read but you must make an account and login). This article had lots of ideas on how to use the freezer more efficiently to save leftovers or overabundances, to plan ahead for later meals, and how to avoid freezer burn.

My freezer is tiny so I won’t be able to do much with these ideas just now (waiting for the dream fridge) but some of them will be applicable immediately. I hope that some of you reading this blog will find these ideas helpful. Or if you have other ideas for economical and efficient use of freezers (particularly small ones) feel free to leave a comment.

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April and the Azaleas in bud

Well, today was a beautiful day.  Since we got most of our shopping and errands done yesterday, we were free to work on home projects.  So once I caught up on email and entered the books it was out to the yard to clean up.  We managed in half-hour bouts to get most of the leaves off the ground by the side of the house and along the retaining wall of the side yard.  We pulled a lot of weeds too.

We also managed to pull a lot of poison ivy plants from an area about eight feet by ten feet.  Before we did that, I had to pull on my elbow length gardening gloves.  After that bit of weeding it was into the house change, shower with Burt’s Bees Farmer’s Friend Poison Ivy Bar Soap.   I had three or four rounds of poison ivy last year and I’m hoping to keep on top of it this year — not get it and manage to clear more of our land from the vile stuff.  It’s been moving closer and closer to the cleared area of the side yard, orchard, and house.  We need to get it back from where we spend our time.

We managed to get quite a bit done before I was to sore and tired.  Hubby tries to keep me down to half-hour work limits so I don’t overdue.  I’m always let’s just do this one more bit and then the next day I can’t get out of bed or move.  So, he’s right.  I’ve been doing much better but the short periods of hard labor and then resting are much easier to take.  Even though he tends to do more.

Today it was in the 90’s and so far we managed not to turn on the air conditioning.  We did turn on the fans in the living room though to mix the air.  It was great.  But now it’s thundering out and I think I hear the pitter-pat of rain on the windows.  So we may not get to finish the side yard tomorrow if the leaves are all wet.


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