Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Good, The Bad and Waring Blenders

It was recently pointed out to me that I've horrible about keeping up on this. Which is quite true. I'm going to try to be better about it.

Shortly after my last posting, I went on a trip to visit my grandmother in Arkansas. It ended up being a great trip. I very much enjoyed spending time with her and we did some fun stuff. We went to a botanical garden that was fantastic. I bring this up for a reason other than just the fact that I had a great boss called me while I was there (there are certainly down sides to cell phones) and informed me that the Utah Legislature had decided to closed down the nursery that I manage.

Closing the nursery is not just a short-sighted, ill-advised and eco-unfriendly decision, it's just plain stupid. Our governor had initiated several "green" programs and goes on ad nauseam about how "green" he is. Well, this is about as ungreen as it gets. There are at least a couple of programs in the state that are utterly pointless...perhaps even continue without the nursery to provide plants for. There is an effort in the south-central part of the state to eradicate an invasive species that been decimating the ecosystem for decades. They've found a beetle that does a great job of killing the offending plant but without replacement plants to stabilize the riverbanks, the risk of erosion is way too great to ignore.

On a more personal note, the decree from my department's executive director to the division director was to find the two nursery employees (inclusive of myself) new positions within the department. However, there is a soft hiring freeze in effect so that makes finding an opening a bit tough. I've been looking outside the state system but with what the current administration has done to the economy, there's not too much out there. Pickin's are slim as my grandmother would say. And truth be told, I'm more than a little concerned about what's going to happen under the incoming administration.

On a more pleasant note, however, I have a short story that's going to be published in an anthology. It's scheduled to come out in February. A few years ago, I picked up a book...the cover intrigued me. I read it in a day and hadn't even closed it before flipping back to the beginning and reading it again. I haven't done that very often and never so quickly. But, after the second go through, I did something even more out of character, I looked up the author's website and emailed him. I explained that I wanted to thank him for the book and how much enjoyment it had brought me.

He actually wrote back (which surprised me) and said that if I enjoyed that book so much, I'd probably also like the first one. I went out and bought that as soon as he named it and he was right, I did like it just as much. So, every time he came out with a new book, I'd write to him and he'd write back. (In the beginning, he hadn't developed quite the extensive fan base that he enjoys now so he had more time. I received a couple of emails, like one at Christmas, that I just couldn't believe where just to me and not a bulk mailing. When I asked him about these later, he confirmed that he had, in fact, sat down and written specifically to me. I felt like a cad that I hadn't responded to those.) Anyway, we've been writing back and forth ever since...and not just when he has a book coming out. When he found out what I do for a living, he'd write and ask plant questions...some of them tough. I had to look up answers for him.

I'd ask him for advice with my own writing and he's been a great mentor. In fact, in one such email, he mentioned that his publisher had asked he and a partner to edit an anthology. They wanted unknown and established authors. He asked if I'd be interested in submitting a story. Of course I jumped at the chance. I didn't figure that it would actually go anywhere but still thought of it as an excellent opportunity. I had a story that I'd been playing with and did some editing and rewrites so that it would fit within the parameters that I'd been given and then sent it off.

Not only did they not laugh at me (well, they might have, I don't know) but they liked the story. In fact, they mentioned using it as the center piece of the anthology (since then, some better, more established authors came on board and my piece was bumped a bit from the center but hell, it's still a story, with my name on it!!). My friend (and I have come to think of him as more than just an email pal...he really has been a mentor and friend...I told him that in an email not too long ago, I guess I was feeling open and vulnerable and while he didn't ridicule me, I didn't get the same, "I think of you that way too" response that I was kinda hoping for) asked me some questions for the publicity bit and one of them was inquiring if I was surprised by the invitation and the acceptance. WELL HELL YA!!! Anyone who knows me is well familiar with my singular lack of self-esteem and confidence. I need to ask him if he'd mind if I posted a link to his website...the interview is on there along with those of some of the other authors.

At any rate, I will, technically be a published author. At the risk of beating a story to a pulp, many know that my brother (again, should ask him about posting a link) is an author (among other things). He used to wax poetic that if he ever sold a really big project, he was going to buy me a Range Rover. I told him that this was really not necessary and that a Waring blender (Professional Bartender grade) would be great. He responded that he'd leave the blender on the front seat of the vehicle. Well, it's been a while and my bro has had things published, never sight or sound of my promised blender. So, when I got a whopping check for my story (it was less than what it would have cost to fill the gas tank of the aforementioned SUV), I kicked in a little extra and bought my own damn blender. I'm rather proud of it. It's only been used just half a dozen times or so but it makes great margaritas (if you like them slushy, which I do not) but it makes great pesto as well.

So, there you go. I've started blogging again, not too painful, and managed to fill up lots of space without actually saying a damn thing!! It's better that way. Trust me. More will come.

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