Archive for the ‘Tales of Writing’ Category

… to a new url!

Hi everyone. The time has come. I finally got around to moving this blog over to fishinthewater.net. It is the exact same blog- and just about everything seems to have transferred nicely- so never fear! You will continue to get the same jumbled up mix of rants, thoughts, and pictures of food over on the new site. Now I just have an easier url to type. Alas, fishinthewater.com was already taken by some kind of weird research site, so I got stuck with .net, but what are you going to do? This is the way of the world. The new site has some exciting features, and allows me to actually put money making things on the blog (no ads, just paypal and amazon). So all around pretty exciting.

I don’t have the subscribe button working yet on the new site, so I hope the subscribers will bear with me as I get it figured out, and will follow me over to the new digs!

All the best,


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I’ve now been blogging here for over a year! My anniversary was officially November 11, but I completely forgot until I remembered that I posted about Thanksgiving last year right after starting.

So one year, 252 posts. Now if only I could find someone who would transfer the whole mess to a wordpress.org site… I’d even pay…

At any rate, happy birthday to my blog!

Oh, and in case you were curious, they didn’t pass S. 510 yet. It got deferred until after Thanksgiving. Check out the updates on Grist:
Grist: Food Safety Bill Stalled

If you’re looking for an anti-food modernization bill outlook, check out this on the Farm-to-Consumer legal defense fund page: Stop S.510 They actually go into the detail of what’s in the bill, instead of talking a lot of vague rubbish like so many of the other news sites. Also, to clarify, what they voted on Thursday was to limit the debate on the bill. The actual vote will be next Monday!

And one more: the guy that taught me to make sauerkraut, Professor Bill Schindler! And so many other amazing foods, including yogurt. He speaks on foraging on NPR:
NPR Weekend Edition with Bonny Wolf: Try Foraging for Your Thanksgiving Meal

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I finally discovered my valedictorian speech from high school graduation. I don’t appear to have a soft copy of it anywhere, but I found the original print out stashed in the holder we got at graduation for our diplomas. It still has all my notes on it from when I was practicing. The bits in italics were actually underlined (in pen) in the original. Some of the words were handwritten and there were some things crossed out (like, I had replaced “pissed” with “angry”), and I had handwritten in the part at the end about big words. The principal told me to take it out, but mostly because he was an asshole and didn’t know who I was until a few days before graduation (and we had a pretty small school), I put it back in at the last minute. He even asked me, as we lined up to walk on stage, if I had taken it out. And I lied to his face and told him I had. Haha. I was a smug stuck up bitch in high school. But there are some words of wisdom somewhere in there. Oh, and the Dr. Seuss reference was that the principal read “The Places You Go” as his speech to the graduates. Yeah. He really did. He wasn’t very bright either.

I should also mention that the vast majority of the people at my high school were downright nasty to me, except a select few. And so I couldn’t resist taking a jab at them on the way out, though I can look back now and see that it wasn’t particularly mature. Oh well.

Good evening. I’m going to try to make this interesting, but just in case, I’ll give you all a minute to get comfortable. Go ahead. Are you ready? All right.

I’d like to start with a quote. It’s not Dr. Seuss, but I hope you can still get something from it:
“The world was so full of sharp bends that if [adults] didn’t put a few twists in you, you wouldn’t stand a chance of fitting in… Education had been easy. Learning things had been harder.”
-Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

Education involved memorizing everything in those giant textbooks and being able to repeat it verbatim on the test. Learning things- well, was a lot harder. I still haven’t learned enough to have any idea what to say to you. I asked around, and I was told to give advice. Say something profound, inspire you to leap toward the future, some nonsense like that. Frankly, however, I have no advice to give. I myself do not know what the future holds, therefore I’m not entirely sure what to tell you. I could tell you to go out and follow your dreams, do what you want to do, all that stuff they tell you in elementary school before they realize that what you really want to do may involve a variety of semi-illegal activities. So I figure that’s probably not a good idea. I thought I could tell you to be yourself, but I know that I for one have yet to figure out exactly who I really am, and it’s a little difficult to tell you to be someone you don’t even know. I could ask you to go out into the world and find yourself, but that is a quest which requires patience and time and diligence and a whole lot of other things that the majority of teenagers lack. Believe me, I feel the same way- senior week seems much more important than “finding myself.” However- finding yourself is an arduous task, but a noble one. So I’ll attempt to give you a little advice on this topic. Not that I can claim to be an expert, since I haven’t figured it out myself quite yet, but I have read a lot of books and we have to assume that English class was good for something other than really late nights and a lot of caffeine. (pause)

To begin, most people, especially teenagers, presume that they can depend on others to form their own identity. Yet here is the one thing I know for sure- you aren’t going to find yourself in another person. You can look at the people in your life, your parents, your friends, your teachers, probably the people you brought with you tonight, and you can see how they have given you pieces of themselves, pieces that have helped to shape the form you will ultimately take. But those people don’t know who you are, no matter what they may think to the contrary. Only you can know yourself. Only you can take the pieces of people and places and experiences that form your life and put them together into the whole that is you. It may take an entire lifetime to make sense of everything, but finding yourself is worthwhile. It’s only when you know yourself completely that you can even begin to claim that you know any other. Until you are aware of your own character, with all its values and faults, you cannot judge the faults of others. It’s likely they are only trying to find themselves as well, and it’s a given that mistakes will be made along the way. The only thing you really can do is try; try to find yourself and try to be open minded about everything. That’s the thing high school should have taught you, but everyone knows that in high school you don’t get an A for Effort. No, learning to try is another thing you have to do on your own. It’s what you learn to do after you’ve literally got fifteen pounds worth of homework, twenty conflicting extracurriculars, and an eight hour shift at work, all on the same day. And your friends are fighting, your parents are angry, and you’re convinced there’s some kind of teacher conspiracy to stress you out with four tests in the same day. And then someone eats your homework for lunch. That’s when you began to learn to try. Maybe you just said forget it and went and got smashed, in which case you didn’t learn much of anything. But hopefully you got something out of high school other than a bad back and an ability to sense teachers coming that borders on ESP. Hopefully someone will have some useful advice at some point, and hopefully you won’t have too much trouble finding out who you are. And I bet you’re all sitting there thinking, “hopefully this speech will be over soon.” Am I right? It’s ok, I probably wouldn’t want to listen to me talk either. Especially when I start using all those big words. Now, I want everyone to go and have a lovely good time, but remember- high school taught us a lot of things, but only we can figure out how to make them useful.

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So I originally started this blog thinking, oh great, I will have a chance to write at least a little each day. Because, after all, I am a writer, and it is sad and pathetic that the twenty million other things I do tend to take the place of any actual writing. The funny thing is, the way I write, it all comes out at once and I end up sitting down, writing six blog entries, and then suddenly stalling out for the next week. It seems to work though.

Unfortunately this is also the way I write novels, and as they take a significantly longer time to sit down and spit out than blog entries, they tend to live in the back of my head for months and at this point years before ever being written down. Possibly they will never get written down. I use that phrasing because I don’t write novels in the sense that I make them up. They kind of spring into my head and I scramble to write them down before I forget what I saw. Imagine if out of nowhere you’re walking down the street, and suddenly a movie clicks on in your head, and you stop dead to stand there and watch (mentally). That is very similar to what happens to me. It is up to me to try and describe what I see.

The other unfortunate thing is that my brain very rarely let’s me know which of the several novels floating in my head this particular scene belongs to. So, when walking to work in the rain a month or so ago, I got a flash of a scene, I hadn’t the faintest what it belonged to. In fact, it didn’t seem to fit with any of the three novels that were next up in the queue. So I ignored it for a while, until I started getting even more flashes, mostly while we were on vacation (though I didn’t realize what they were at the time). Then I had a good portion of scenes rolling around in my head, largely disconnected from one another, and was now becoming somewhat concerned about whether or not I would remember them all when I finally figured out what they belonged to, and, even more direly, when I would have time to write them down.

As it turns out, they belong to a novel that I had only vaguely conceived back in my senior year of high school. You see, our wonderful AP English teacher had us write journals, and one day (out of nowhere I’m sure) I got this image of this girl stepping across a stream into the forest. I hadn’t the faintest idea what she was doing there, or where she was coming from or where she was going or why, but it came to me clear as day and I fortunately wrote it down (the trick will be to find it now, but lucky for me I save everything like the OCD pack rat I am). I hadn’t thought of this image in years. Until, that is, all these disconnected scenes starting beleaguering me, and I recalled an idea for a novel I had while being bored out of my mind during my senior year of college (all that class time was really great for writing- I used to pretend to be taking notes while really writing lengthy sections of novels and epic letters to people).

Now there is a novel in my head. Not all of it, mind, because my brain at least knows when to draw the line and wait until I’ve had time to write some sections of it down before dumping the rest in. But heaven knows when that will be. Again, on the back burner, with so many other things. Maybe someone will drop from the sky to give me a million dollars so I have time for all this- though of course with a million dollars I would immediately start farming, which will probably not be conducive to novel writing either. Perhaps I just need to arrange to be sick for the better part of a week to see if I can knock some of it out. Perhaps I need to pretend that the bits of the novel are blog entries and then you all can be terribly confused by my writing process, where I have a tendency to write at least ten different beginnings and a couple endings before getting around to the middle.

Speaking of which, I do have a finished novel sitting around on my desktop. I don’t think it’s fit for any actual publishing, because, well, it’s not all that great. I wrote it in college and it had to happen but it’s no glory of American fiction or anything like that. I’m wondering if I could publish online, somehow, and just charge a few dollars to people to read it. Or download it. Is that possible? Does anyone know? (Would anyone actually be willing to read it, beyond my immediate family who have already all gotten to read it for free?)

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In the past weeks, we’ve had posts on food issues, language, eating, cooking, farming, and visiting farms. I’ve realized in so doing that I tend to skip all over the place with content on this blog. I don’t know how anyone out there reading the blog actually feels about this. I don’t know how I feel about it, really. I just like to write.

I’ve been diving through the list of blogs over at Friends of Farmland (American Farmland Trust), looking at the wide variety of food/ farming blogs out there on the net. And these are just the ones linked to by the site! Most of them I wouldn’t bother to read- and those are the ones that are picture heavy with a lot of updates on the author’s kids and puppies and the deer in their yard and what they had for dinner. While these things might hold my attention for a few minutes, I definitely won’t be checking back on a daily basis to see hundreds of pictures of baby deer. I also could care less about recipes, if you haven’t figured that out from the lack of them on this blog.

On the opposite end of the spectrum there are people who write really beautiful things, that I tend not to have the time to read regularly, or the people who are constantly linking to news articles which I will never have time to read, or, I guess, the people like me, who write long daily rants. The blogs I actually read regularly seem to be some combination thereof- great stories that leave me wanting more, or explanations of things I’ve been wondering about (like basket making), or rants that parallel my own thinking and add to it by posing questions I hadn’t thought of. I’d like my own blog to fall into this category. I think I’m lacking in the compelling story part- I seem to have drifted into the realm of rants and occasional explanations of things.

But that’s just me. I am curious about you, dear readers. What type of content do you enjoy? What would you like to hear more about? I’d like to increase the readership (a lot) and I have no idea how to do this, but I figure more quality and more consistent content would be the way to go. One of the things I hear consistently from other bloggers is how bizarre it feels to be basically writing in a vacuum. You know people are reading, but you don’t know why, or what brings them back (or not). Unless they leave comments.

So pleeaaaaaaassssse. Help me out. Leave a comment and tell me why you’re reading (or not) and what would induce you to read more. Am I just writing too much? Should I be including a lot more pictures of cute baby dear? Do you want more pictures of food? More instructional how-to? I promise I will take what you all say into consideration, and you will see all kinds of changes in the future.

Also, why is it that if I don’t post to facebook, I get half as many hits? Do you all not think about me without facebook? I post every day. Just stop on by.

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I’ve only been blogging (on this particular blog) for eight months, and it has already become quite a “thing.” In other words it has in some ways taken over my life in ways I did not anticipate. This month has shown how much a blog can take off with a little bit of free advertising- suddenly (and the month’s not over yet!) I am averaging 40 unique visits per day- over 700 so far this month. Considering the first few months were more like 200, that seems like a big jump to little ole me. Thank you to all the mysterious people who are reading! Feel free to say hello in the comments. I like to start conversations.

So now that all these people are reading (or so it seems to me), I thought, hey, maybe it’s time to do what those other bloggers do and put a paypal button up, or maybe one of those spinning amazon widgets where you can see books I recommend and if you buy them after clicking them from my site, I get some money. All money would go into the fund for the farm, of course. We’re about… well, let’s just say several thousands of dollars away. But come to find out, wordpress.com does not allow money making widgets “for security reasons,” or at least that’s what amazon tells me. That leaves me with a dilemma.

I have always intended to get away from using wordpress.com. It’s great if you don’t want to mess with your site at all. If you do, it is an immense pain in the ass. Unfortunately, my web skills are minimal. I can make a website if I can copy a lot of the code. I can design. But I sure as hell can’t do the programming required to build a blog. I took one look at the wordpress.org stuff and my brain nearly exploded. I have no interest or desire to figure out that mess, either. I am perfectly happy with the level of skill I have now. But at some point, and possibly soon so I can maybe make a few bucks out of all the time I’m spending blogging, I will need a for real site and not a wordpress.com.

So here’s my proposal: if there is anyone out there who would like to take on this monumental task, either for money or preferably for exchange of services (ie in exchange for sewing, cupcakes, or jam), please step to the front. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I basically want it to look like it does now, and I want to be able to very easily add posts and widgets and that’s about it. I could in theory switch to blogger but I’ve been using that for years for my other blog and I really don’t like their themes, and the image uploader on there is so screwy. One way or another, I need some assistance, and am hoping for someone in shining web-skilled armor to come forward.

Anyone? There’s jam on the table with your name on it.

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Oh, tomato paste.

I am compulsively reading my way through the Julie/Julia Project, as if I have all the time in the world when what I am in reality doing is avoiding finishing my business plan, because when I do I have to do the math part, and I think I’m terrified of doing it because I’ll then realize there is absolutely no way I can start a farm with the pittance I have saved up over the years. I mean, I know it’s a lot more than most 24 year olds have saved up, because my mother taught me to be an obsessive compulsive workaholic and also an obsessive compulsive deal seeker outer, and also graciously contributed part of the money from my grandmother’s will to my “nest egg” (and also I have no college loans, thank you again mom and dad).

Point being, I am avoiding finishing my business plan. I am really good at avoiding the things I most want to finish (my novel comes to mind). And I am reading the Julie/Julia Project which is addictive because here is another soul who loves writing and loves cooking and loves avoiding things in her life she’d rather not think about right now, thanks so very much. And she, like me, has the tomato paste thing.

Here’s the problem with tomato paste: it comes in a can. You really only need to use one third, maybe at most one half, of the can. Then you have half a can of tomato paste, and you stick it in the fridge thinking, oh, yeah, I’ll use this later this week, I’ll come up with a recipe that uses it, and then three weeks later you rediscover the can at the back of the fridge and it’s either developed mold or rust or both, or you can’t get your mother’s voice out of your head telling you you’ll get botchulism from eating something that’s gone funny in the can (I’m not actually sure this is how you get botalism, or what botulism is or how to spell it, but it sounds terrifying), and you throw out the can.

This is very against my principles of saving money at all costs, which include eating everything leftover even if it’s developed a light layer of green mold.

In Europe they have these fantastic tubes of tomato paste, which you can squeeze like toothpaste and get a little out and best of all, cap and reuse several times long before they’ve even thought of going bad or developing whatdayacallit. But I have yet to find tube tomato paste in the store. Julie says someone told her about the tubes, and that she’ll try and find it (and of course she was writing in 2002, and presumably has found or not found tubes of tomato paste by now), but I would possibly kill for a potential source of tubed tomato paste. One day I might try making it, but for now, I am satisfied canning my own tomatoes. Cooking them down to paste seems like an activity best reserved for when I’m not trying to work two and a half jobs.

Does anyone, anyone, know where to get tubes of tomato paste outside of Europe (and, presumably, outside of New York)? I will be eternally in your debt.

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