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Climbing Plot Mountain

Climbing Plot Mountain -

Last Build Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2016 01:06:18 GMT



Tue, 12 Jul 2016 01:06:18 GMT

Hornworms to the left of me, hornworms to the right--the carnage was everywhere. Tomato plants raised denuded stumps to the sky, crying out for help. Frass littered the scene.

I surveyed the terrain and struck! One hornworm. Two. Three, four, in quick succession. Then, employing an old scout's trick, I crouched and moved in closer.

The enemy thus revealed was appalling. Well-hidden, they had only to wait silently, they thought, for their natural predators to retreat once more, convinced that all was as it should be.

Woe betide those overconfident in their camouflage! I inched nearer, poised just so, and then snapped off a series of fast assaults. Eight-ten-twelve rapidly added to my coup. Fourteen. Sixteen. Eighteen!

At the end of that morning, under the pitiless bowl of cloudless July sky, I tallied my feat: four and twenty they numbered, brilliant in their sleek, striped skins, their lacquered horns raised uselessly against an unexpected foe. Dripping in gore, I escorted my prisoners to their ultimate fate.

And the chickens loved every one.


Growing season, ahoy!

Mon, 29 Feb 2016 16:50:37 GMT

Whew! Now, that was a day. I've been to a client's house to measure out the front yard for a base map - thank you, T., for your help. Bought and ate bagels. Drafted up that base map and did some preliminary work on the new circular driveway loop.

Out in the greenhouse, we got the new strawberries watered and set up ten flats of greens: Tyee spinach and Lacinato (both standard and variegated) and Red Russian kale. Screwed down some of the support frame that came unmoored in last week's tornado-y winds. Cleaned the chickens' waterer out and refilled it and their feeder. Dug up a mess of weeds from the onion and garlic bed and fed them to the chickens (who know to watch from that corner of their run when I go into the garden).

Back at the house, we refilled the kindling boxes for the woodstove and refilled the water jugs that live in the greenhouse, and finally I mixed up the latest batch of dog bikkies.

I think that's enough for one day. Don't you? :-)

Winter is here

Wed, 06 Jan 2016 13:25:25 GMT

Nine degrees this morning - rising to ten just before I left for work. Yay. :-/

7-7-7-7 Memeage

Fri, 18 Sep 2015 13:36:17 GMT

What else are Fridays for, but for playing along with the current meme?

Instructions: Go to the 7th page of a work in progress, go 7 lines down, post the next 7 lines, then challenge 7 other writers to do the same. (I'm passing on the last part; I don't think writers need much encouragement to share what they're working on. But please do share!)

Here's my entry in today's challenge:

He had learned long ago never to correct his father, not on any provocation, but how to answer this one? No said she'd lied, and was doubly dangerous if it caught his father in the black mood which had been almost constant since the spring. Yes painted him a coward, and would not stop the punishment, anyway. Behind him, he could feel her spirit salivating in anticipation. He did not look up again.

"Sir," he said.

A Country Dance

Thu, 10 Sep 2015 12:54:58 GMT

This is a tune many of those who don't live in the country sing as well, only with slightly modified verses. No doubt you'll recognize your own version.

There's a bear in the field, oh my. A bear!
Suet feeder, sunflowers, rows of corn all sniffed.
(Suet feeder was found to be tasty. Uh oh.)
Countermeasures contemplated, none of them fun.
Ugh. There's a bear. What shall I do?

There's a rooster in the field, oh my. A rooster!
Not my rooster--don't have, don't want.
(Hens don't need rooster, thank you very much.)
Means of trapping him and rehoming contemplated, all of them conflicting with bear issues.
Ugh. There's a rooster. What shall I do?

There's a delivery to be picked up for the field, oh my. A whole pallet!
The greenhouse-to-be needs a face, but the truck can't get up our driveway.
(No, we can't be available at a half-hour's notice to meet the truck nearby. Sheesh.)
Long-distance trip to trucking company's warehouse contemplated; won't be home to handle either bear or rooster issues.
Ugh. There's a delivery. What shall I do?

Put out corn to lure in rooster. (Catch him when he goes to roost?)
Store new suet feeder in garage tonight.
Caravan - car and truck - to warehouse (in rain).
So very many moving parts. For just one day can we avoid disaster?

Not quite autumn

Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:12:52 GMT

It's August, and the weather gods are not above reminding us of that fact: we are still deep in late summer's sticky heart. Nevertheless, as we sink closer to autumnal equinox, the occasional chill snap in the air and the angle of the sun remind us - in case we needed the warning - to pack up the fruits of the season and get ready. It won't always be warm breezes and plenty. If we are smart, we will be ants, not grasshoppers.

Right now, though, it's August, and I could do with a breeze. :-)

This weekend, we had one of those cold front weather blessings cross our path, and I seized the opportunity to get the fall greens planted. That meant, of course, that the beds had to be cleared of summer's crop of weeds. By noon on Sunday, however, I had two forty-foot rows planted in Premier kale, collards, and purple mustard greens. I'm trying out a new ground cover, too, for after the corn, a Crotalaria called 'Sunn Hemp' (which isn't a Cannabis at all). Lovely seeds, glossy like sun on an oil slick and about the same range of colors.

The tomatoes are all but done. Once again, German Johnson was my star performer, giving me gorgeous, deep pink fruits the size of softballs right up to the point where the vines gasped their last. I was somewhat more pleased with the Virginia-adapted version of Brandywine I tried out this year than I have been with Brandywines in the past; they did their best to keep up with the Johnsons. The fruits have a bad habit of cracking at the stem end, however, and rotting there. If it had been a wet year, we wouldn't have gotten a single one of these. Illini Star, my other main crop tomato, had a really rough time this year for some reason. More often than not, its fruits would just about ripen, then rot on the vine. Could have been the bugs, I guess. We were heavily infested with brown marmorated stinkbugs this spring.

Of my two paste varieties, the Black Plums gave their many, many small tomatoes as expected and fought whatever blight it is that afflicts them regularly every year all the way to the end--a good producer. Illini Gold always catches blights, too, but it gave me less fruit than last year.

Only the cherry Pink Princess is still producing...hand over fist. The fruit tends to crack after a rain, but it's been dry on the farm this season (not so in the mountains and on the plain around us, but right here, we're dry). Kay takes every opportunity she gets to come down to the garden with me and graze on the cherry tomatoes. Silly dog. :-)

Otherwise, the first planting of corn is gone, its stalks uprooted, and the second is tasseling. The tomatillos continue to give me an enormous crop. The cucumbers failed even more quickly than I'd expected, with only the Asian and Persian cukes persisting any real length of time. The winter squash are beginning to ripen (the summer squash all croaked but for a single plant). The sunflowers I transplanted all did just fine. The pole beans and butterbeans are just ripening for picking; I expect to be down there this evening, filling my basket.

And maybe, just maybe, we'll get a little rain today. Maybe.

Summer's here

Sat, 30 May 2015 16:07:56 GMT

It's official - summer has arrived. The fireflies are once again decorating the night with semaphore declarations of love. The heat has been here a good week, and the deer flies are already driving us crazy, but until the fireflies return, it isn't summer.

2015: Coming up green (and not all of it's weeds)

Mon, 25 May 2015 22:33:46 GMT

The garden's doing just fine, growing quickly now that the heat's arrived...wait, I didn't say what I'd planted, did I? Okay, for the record, this year we have:Last fall's Rocambole garlics and the potato onions which are sharing a bed because they're both all-season crops. I decided to see if the voles, which have yet to bother the garlic, could be kept away from the onions by planting garlic in rings around them, and thus far the experiment has proven successful. I also put my spring-planted shallots in the gaps between plants. They're also doing well. (Pam Dawling recommends digging garlic three weeks after the scapes show up, which is a lot earlier than I've done it in the past. I noticed scapes today, so that means the weekend of June 14, the garlic should come up. I'm curious to see the difference if they're pulled this early. I think the onions will have a while yet. Fortunately, I don't have to disturb them.) Purple Peacock broccoli. It's a hybrid with one of the kales, I think, something with purplish, frilly leaves (like Red Russian kale, actually). Looks nice when I pull off the insect cover to weed that bed. This one's not to be harvested until some time in the fall. I think I planted it way, way too early. This is the first time I've planted broccoli, though, so it's all a learning experience.The spring-planted Premier kale has long since bolted, but the leaves are still nice and tender. I cooked up a mess of the greens last weekend, and will pick and cook more this coming week, before I pull all the plants. The late corn should be in there afterward, but I think it's going to see buckwheat first for some green manure. Speaking of corn...again this year I've tried Augusta early sweet corn. Last year, in a different bed, I got poor germination. This year, I got none. Too wet and cold? Probably. So, this weekend, I've planted the first batch of midseason corn (new variety Tuxana, as a replacement for the Silver Queen I'd been planting) where I'd planted Augusta. We'll see how it comes along. It certainly doesn't have the same excuse of cold and wet!And, at the end of this bed, the tomatillos and peppers are doing fine. They all got off to a slow start - tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos - in the seed flats. Part of that was damping off fungus, I think, but the rest...I just don't know. Not warm enough? In the next bed is even later-planted Premier kale, doing just fine (if besieged by weeds). The cilantro and tatsoi both bolted quick when the spring warmed up; I'm waiting to collect seed for both before turning them under. The tomatoes I planted two weeks ago are really starting to hit their stride. This year we have Pink Princess cherries, paste tomatoes Illini Gold and Black Plum, and slicers Illini Star, German Johnson, and a Virginia variety of Brandywine. I need to get the first row of Florida weave trellising up, but it's been wicked hot today. Maybe tomorrow evening.The cucumber trellis is up and I planted out the cucumbers yesterday: Garden Oasis (a beit alpha type) and Chelsea Pride (an English-style cuke), both old seed and showing poor germination after a couple of years, and new cukes Suyo Long (an Asian) and Empereur Alexandre. I really like the beit alphas for their tender skin and juicy, sweet, never-bitter flavor, but they just don't germinate well. We'll see how the new cuke varieties handle our heat and humidity.I'm planning on seeding out some Senposai for summer greens - it was indeed durable last year - but that hasn't happened yet. Too many weeds to clear and not enough good-weather hours in which to do so. When I finally got down to it yesterday morning, I cleared half the bed before the heat and the sun sent me indoors. I still need to plant out beans, both my favorite green snap Grady Bailly and the limas I grow for a customer at work, but that hasn't happen[...]

Why you keep your eyes open, part 1

Tue, 03 Mar 2015 13:50:43 GMT

This morning, headed down the sidewalk past Capitol Square from the bus stop, I was composing a post about the effects of this long, cold winter on the camellias planted there when there was a rustle and a heavy thump on the other side of an azalea. I glanced in that direction and then came to a dead stop: it was a big bird. Not one of the hawks that hunt in the park, either - it was one of the peregrine falcons who live in downtown. I'd never seen one in person, but they're popular webcam subjects because they like to nest on the ledges outside of upper floor windows in the office buildings downtown. I gazed, and it gazed back, and then since I knew there was someone coming down the sidewalk a ways behind me I went on, leaving the falcon to continue with whatever it was doing in the underbrush undisturbed.

And the camellias? Hardly even popping out of bud. No color showing at all. On March 3. This week, we're expected to be near 70 degrees on Wednesday...and there'll be 1-3 more inches of snow on Thursday. ::whines::


Sun, 15 Feb 2015 13:31:24 GMT

Well, I now have empirical proof that you can, indeed, freeze your hair. :-) No damage done, though it was very weird to wonder what was poking my scalp as I turned my head and realize it was my hair. Fortunately, the wood stove was already fired up for the morning, so I stood there in my coat for a couple of minutes until it thawed.

There's a most hellacious wind howling through the trees right now. The thermometer says something like 10 degrees, taking into account that it's up alongside the house and thus reading slightly higher than it would without that shelter. The weatherbeings have been warning that, with the wind chill, the outside temps are down into negative territory. I am always grateful we invested in the wood stove, but never more on a morning like this. The stupid heat pump that came with the house would never have kept up.

So, we're tucked up inside the house, dogs, cats, and people. The chickens are huddled in their coop, having come out only long enough to eat the scraps and scratch I put out for them when I was out freezing my hair. We filled the wood boxes yesterday morning before the weather blew in and it began to snow - sideways - so we are in no danger even if the power should go out (which it has not, despite the wind, and thank you very much Rappahannock Electric Cooperative). The weather report has this misery continuing until some time Monday, when the next front comes through and supposedly brings us snow before dropping the bottom out again. Argh.

I wanted to come to Virginia because I genuinely like having a full four seasons. I don't mind the cold, so much, if I can get out of it into real warmth, like we have in this house. Right now, however, I think I have had enough cold for one year.


Almost too good to be true

Sun, 08 Feb 2015 20:28:37 GMT

Oh, my god, what a glorious day - what a beautiful weekend - this has turned out to be. Clouds gave way to sunshine and a warm, southerly breeze yesterday about midday, and today is an incredible 70 degrees! I changed out the bedding in the chicken house in my shirtsleeves. I helped stack up the next bunch of logs to be split, and then took Kay down into the garden and stood around in the sun while she explored where the rabbits have been hiding out. Days like this don't come along all that often in February; I'm glad these two happened on a weekend so I could make use of them.

Driving through Woods on a Weekday Morning

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:36:24 GMT

Yesterday, my commute gave me the complicated lace of branch tips stark against a salmon-pink winter sky.

Today, it was a pod of whales swimming ponderously across a sky gone just pale with the coming dawn.

Whenever I feel down, or overwhelmed, the remedy is always there waiting for me. I just have to remember to step outside my head, quiet my thoughts, and really see.

Don't Panic!

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:26:30 GMT

This post - - and the news it communicates, is awesome. So very awesome. Every generation has computer software it uses, and loves, and then abandons when something that seems cooler comes along...only to find out later the previous software did some things better or was more fun to play with. The past seemed lost forever; software is all too often now not backward-compatible, so the early versions might as well not exist. Old movies, books, games, all rendered as if they'd never been.

But they do exist, and so does the Internet Archive, and things we had given up on might now, again, be accessible. Read the article; I know what I am struck most by having once again available (MS-DOS-based Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game, anyone?), but like those thousands of old games and movies, we each have our own favorites. I hope you discover yours there. And if not, who knows? It might be the next item the Archive team turns its attention to.

I just acquired another non-profit worth donating to. (And another reason to despise Google, but let's not go there just now.)

Good Omens!

Sat, 03 Jan 2015 11:17:19 GMT

In case you hadn't yet heard: BBC Radio 4 is playing the radio show of Terry Pratchett's and Neil Gaiman's "Good Omens" -

The two-protag dynamic

Sat, 06 Dec 2014 19:19:59 GMT

A friend once observed, while critiquing one of my novels, that I appeared to be using one of the pair of main characters as a whipping boy. Bad stuff always fell worse on the one character, not the other, though the other is the one who instigated the situation. The other, in fact, often was being forced to watch as a punishment; the bad guys explicitly damaged the one to hurt the other. Which called into question why the whipping boy was there at all - what was their purpose, aside from soaking up punishment I subconsciously did not want to inflict on my chosen character? A very good question.

(An excellent critique overall, and a good friend for being willing to pull no punches. I needed to hear that.)

In revising the current novel, Switchback, it occurs to me that I'm still exploring the dynamic between two main characters, one of which inevitably becomes my favorite by the end of the first draft. I'll probably always be re-learning the lesson of that earlier critique, I'm afraid - I've done it again here, trapping the secondary protagonist and leaving the primary character to dig him out - but I am at least aware of what I've set up (and why robbing that character of agency is not a good thing for either character or story).

So here I am, on rewrite, considering that secondary protag. I can't do the obvious thing and combine the two characters, not in this story; it needs to remain a story about two brothers. What I can do, though, is build in goals for that secondary character. What is being trapped doing to him and his goals?

What I can't do is consider the scene solely from the standpoint of how it affects my primary character.

I'm going to go make some pound cake and think on that.

Always Something

Mon, 03 Nov 2014 13:54:23 GMT

On a farm, even a small farm like mine, there's always something needing to be done. This weekend, we wrapped up preparations for the first frost, forecast for Monday morning. This meant checking windows in the chicken house, picking the last little bits of the summer garden, and laying in a bag of wood for this year's inauguration of fire season. We finished filling the woodshed last weekend, with the help of a neighbor and his wood splitter.

As if that wasn't enough, we also set the footers for the final three pairs of posts for the greenhouse. I was warmed at first with the digging and hauling at the start of Saturday afternoon's project time. By its end a couple of hours later, my hands were chilled and I was ready to head indoors.

With all of the produce gathered late on Saturday, I needed to find something to do with a bumper crop of tomatillos. I ended up making a small batch of tomatillo salsa and canning it - fabulously tangy stuff! The tomatillos were one of my test crops this year. They've earned their spot next year. I have one last batch of tomatillos to can up, and am looking forward to sharing their goodness this winter.

And's greens season. I'll find out in the next couple of days which greens (seeded earlier this autumn) will be freeze-hardy.

In honor of

Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:15:56 GMT

It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and in place of a bunch of really bad puns I offer you (courtesy of the Decemberists) some song lyrics that get at the heart behind what creates a pirate. Along with "Where's all the rum gone?" ::wink::

Get the rocks in the box
Get the water right down to your socks
This bulkhead's built of fallen brethren bones
We all do what we can
We endure our fellow man
And we sing our songs to the headframe's creaks and moans
And it's one, two, three
On the wrong side of the lee
What were you meant for?
What were you meant for?
And it's seven, eight, nine
You get your shuffle back in line
And if you ever make it to ten, you won't make it again
And if you ever make it to ten, you won't make it again

(Decemberists, Rox in the Box)

Exeunt, Summer

Sun, 14 Sep 2014 14:05:01 GMT

Summer garden report; I'm on the verge of fall planting, so might as well report while it's relatively fresh in my mind.Starting at the lower end of the garden:Corn, Silver Queen and Augusta. It was a good year for Silver Queen. Even the ones I had to rescue from the self-sown cosmos roared back, despite the dry year (and no, I don't water the corn), and produced plenty of nice ears. We put up 14 cups of cut corn. Augusta did not fare so well - thin germination to begin with, and it tasselled earlier than the Silver Queen I'd planted to pollinate it, so we got few ears and none I'd call well filled out. If I grow this again, it needs to be started two weeks before Silver Queen (which I will absolutely be growing again). Note: there are honeybees in the area, all on their own. We know this because, while the Silver Queen was full of pollen, the entire bed was positively vibrating with honeybees. I find this interesting because corn is an ancient, wind-pollinated crop; it didn't need those bees at all. Summer squash. None of the summer squash did well. We had a strong showing of squash bugs rather early, plus a lot of heat and dry weather, and that did it for the squash plants before most of them produced much. The grey zucchini I'd specially sought after produced some of the weirdest fruits I've ever seen, curved and corrugated - not what I'd wanted. Only one of the dark green zucchinis fruited at all, and it succumbed quickly to disease. It's a good thing I still have zucchini in the freezer from last year. Tomatoes, cherry. We grew three varieties this year, two seed-saved here and one I ordered from Fedco. ( The Rose cherries I've been saving for three years produced, but succumbed early to disease. The Kumquat cherries (also seed-saved, though I only selected these last year) were an odd pinky-orange color, strongly productive, strong grower. The fruit cracks quickly after rain (though not as quickly as one of its parents, Sungold). Not sure about this one. The Pink Princess from Fedco was an exceptional grower and producer of gorgeous dark-pink fruit, and I think this variety will be taking over from Rose; Pink Princess showed none of the disease issues that knocked Rose down, despite a planting location with less air circulation (upwind of the early corn). Tomatoes, main crop. We grew five varieties, two plums and three slicers. German Johnson still gets top marks for productivity and flavor; this tomato remains the backbone of the tomatoes that go in my freezer to make up sauce. Cherokee Purple will never be high on the production list, but the fruits are flavorful and the plants keep going despite disease issues and dry weather. (Most definitely not a tomato for a wet year, as we discovered last year.) The new slicer was Illini Star, which was (and still is) solidly productive of smallish, perfectly round red tomatoes that are a gorgeous dark pink inside, lovely to see on the plate. The two plums, Illini Gold and Black Plum, were quite productive this year; I've already put up 11 half-pints of tomato paste using just these two tomatoes. Black Plum was the only tomato I had that produced in last year's washout season, and only then because the fruit came on early and tends to be small. If any of these plants gets substituted out next year, it'll probably be Cherokee Purple. Peppers, hot. We grew poblanos and jalapeños. Both have been very productive. The poblanos seem to want drier weather, though; they keep rotting on the plant before coloring up at all. It's definitely not sunscald, as the plan[...]


Sun, 17 Aug 2014 23:43:48 GMT

I just caught up with this year's Hugo awards - yay for Liz Bourke and her second-place finish in the Best Fan Writer category! And WOW! XKCD's Time panel was deservedly awarded a win for Best Graphic Story; what a fabulous series of panels that was. (If you haven't seen it, run don't walk - it's that wonderful. And time-consuming. :-)

Congratulations to all the rest of the winners and nominees. What a talented group of people make up the SFF genre.

Out of slavery

Sun, 17 Aug 2014 23:31:40 GMT

…to the water hose, that is. One of the (many) things we brought back from my parents' farm last week was a large quantity of soaker hoses. Four lengths of hose are now repaired and deployed in our garden in the beds holding tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, herbs, and tomatillos. It was so wonderful to turn on the water this morning and then go about the rest of my mid-day, not having to stand over the beds and drag 100 feet of hose behind me. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Yurts, reimagined

Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:00:55 GMT

Wow, I'd love to have a writer's den inside some of the circular structures designed and built by Bill Coperthwaite way up on the coast of Maine! I could so see myself holed up in one of those, scribbling away. Low roofline cutting a new horizon, light pouring in from all around, rain or snow like a curtain dripping down...beautiful.

BLDGBLOG recently posted an entry about the structures. (The entry's here, if you want to take a look for yourself:

(And I should credit Jay Lake for the nod toward BLDGBLOG; it was his list of websites he tracked that pointed me toward them. Jay's legacy lives on.)


Fri, 04 Jul 2014 12:08:14 GMT

This is my favorite part of a hurricane: the morning after a rough night, with strong cool breezes rushing through the treetops like surf. Windows open to catch the fresh air. Everyone smiling as the hurricane's potential transmutes into could-have-been. We were too far away from this one to be dealing with any real aftermath, but I'll take this bit.

Diaspora returns?

Tue, 24 Jun 2014 12:41:43 GMT

Someone on another blog suggested that perhaps people might be returning to LiveJournal, having grown tired/annoyed/exasperated by the dangerously loose privacy controls on other platforms. I am, therefore, helpfully passing along that rumor in hopes of giving it legs. >:-) Come home, exiles - my Friends List misses you. (And it would be really nice not to have to use a third-party RSS reader to keep in touch with all of those folks who've resorted to blogging elsewhere, because a writer must write.)


Fri, 06 Jun 2014 13:08:11 GMT

I’ve come to the conclusion that texting is a conversational medium best suited to those whose conversational styles are less prone than mine to including multiple angles in the same snippet of text. Half the time, I can’t figure out which of my conversational angles a correspondent is replying to. And who wants to retype enough context from the previous message so the person you’re replying to can make sense of your response?

Give me email or a chat window any day.

Warning: Rewrite in Progress

Fri, 30 May 2014 13:16:52 GMT

Don't forget your safety goggles. >:-)

Okay. I've now got a first draft of both Switchback and Lynch, so it's time to work on the rewrites for both...before the third in the series gets up enough steam to force me to pay attention to it.

First step (for me) in the rewrite process: prepare a synopsis. Nothing lets me locate plot holes better than a tightly-written short synopsis; synopses are geared to focus strictly on the plot and to step outside the sorts of point-of-view-related blinders that can keep me from seeing where I've left something out.

And, in order to prepare a synopsis, I need to know where the various important parts of the story are. I use Alexandra Sokoloff's story elements list as a jumping-off point. Last night, that meant I was sorting out Act 1 and 2 turning points, story midpoint, themes, and a bunch of other stuff. I know what the story is, sure, but for purposes of condensing all those pages of text down into a two-page synopsis it can be helpful to have to put things down on paper.

This will be the first time I've tried to write a synopsis for a series, on top of the synops for the first two books. I doubt much of what I write now about my expectations for the series's third book is going to survive the actual first draft, but I do have some idea where the first two books' events are pointing, so it'll be good to have that down as well.

Then, with refined synopses in hand, I should theoretically know where the first drafts are weak and where they need smoothing out. I know better than to set firm dates as goals, but I think I'm going to aim for a week or two to wrap up the synopses--and do my best not to let this become an exercise in avoidance, despite how much I both dread and dislike rewriting. It has to happen if I want to share the stories.

So: onward.