Bill has opened his woodwright shop for another fall season (through Thanksgiving). In the photo: a 15" spalted pecan platter that he made for me (you can't have this one!) and a pecan slab that he plans to work with. He thinks the slab is large enough to produce two 15" platters, plus perhaps a 12" bowl. Once he roughs out the pieces with a chain saw, he'll round them with a bandsaw, then turn them on his lathe. The pecan slab was harvested by a friend here in the Hill Country. I love knowing where the wood that created my platter came from, and thinking of it as a still-living thing that grows more beautiful all the time--thinking, too, of my husband's hands, shaping it. Very special.
Book stuff. The Tale of Castle Cottage came out on Tuesday last week and sold out the first printing. Publishers are cutting their print-run estimates close these days, both for financial reasons (they don't want leftover books in the warehouse at the point when the mass market paperback comes out). And they're trying to guesstimate how many eBooks people (and libraries!) are going to buy--instead of print books. They low-balled this one and now they have to go back to print, which is a lot easier than it used to be, when printing was done with plates, instead of digital files. I'm told we'll have more books by September 19. Also very nice: the book is Numero Uno on the Baker and Tayler mystery best-seller list. I wonder if Beatrix would be pleased, or whether she would just shake her head in amusement at the whole thing. Miss Potter was never, ever self-impressed.
My stealth writing project. My Berkley editor has turned the novel down because it's not a mystery. I expected this, so I'm not terribly disappointed--just thought I ought (as a matter of courtesy, not as a contractual issue) to give her right of first refusal. Now that's done, I'll need to find an agent to shop it around. I have two on my current list: it's gone to the first one. In the meantime, I'm pushing forward, since the characters want their story told. And since I've had this project in mind for two decades, it's time I got on it.
Summer is still here: we've just passed our 83rd day of 100+ heat. Yesterday, in the shade on our back deck, it was 104. The leaves on our diciduous trees are turning and dropping, as if we'd had a frost, and our annual fall wildflowers--erygium, sunflowers, goldenrod--are simply gone. Even the broomweed that usually blooms in overgrazed pastures is gone. I walked through the north meadow this morning, marveling at the dryness of the soil. Much of the grass is dead (not dormant, but dead), so when we do get rain, the runoff and erosion is going to be substantial. If we don't get rain, the soil will blow away in the first good wind.
But the fall garden is gifting us with cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, and southern peas, and soon, with tomatoes and sweet potatoes. The Irish potatoes are coming up, pretty and green, and so is the lettuce, but a rude deer ate the tops off my ginger plants. I moved the plants inside the fence where the deer can't get to them. Gardening is always a matter of trial and error--and learning what not to do!
Reading Note: You can’t be optimistic about the state of the world — what you can be is open-minded. You’re going to look for solutions, and you’re going to make your own life mean something. You can no longer think that accumulating money or the biggest house is the answer.--Joan Dye Gussow