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Story-Scribbling Sunday – April 18, 2021

April 18, 2021

I have been rereading old stories and old writing-related blog posts lately, and discovered that Story-Scribbling Sundays were a thing I did, once upon a time…

I tentatively feel like my writing brain might be waking up again. I have only written a tiny, tiny bit, and not anything that feels good or interesting, but it is still more than I have written in… years, probably.

One thing I keep thinking about is the confidence with which I used to write. I blithely imprisoned, tortured, raped and maimed my characters, killed all their loved ones and wrote about the aftermath, when the most traumatic thing that had ever happened to me was a bit of mild middle-school bullying. The certainty that I could get into the mind of a person who had been through all sorts of horrible stuff…

I question myself a lot more now, worry that I can’t do such experiences justice, and it is a big barrier to writing.

But the other things is… I don’t want to write bad things happening to characters any more. The world is already so full of fucked-up things, and it makes me heartsick whenever I think about them. I don’t want to add more of them, even if they are only fictional.

I just want to write characters being happy and comfortable, resting, healing, loving and being loved…

And – leaving aside the fact that I never let anyone read my stories anyway because I never finish any of them – that doesn’t feel like the sort of story anyone would want to read. Or rather: I know it works and is popular in fanfiction, but it would work much less well as original fiction. Because you need to know that the character has been through some fucked-up things for the such stories to have an emotional impact. But I don’t want to write the fucked-up things (and I don’t want to write fanfic either), so… you see my problem.


February Calendar Picture

February 1, 2021
Snowdrop/Galanthus nivalis

I’m trying to remember what life was like last February, when I took this picture, and I’m coming up blank. The other photos I took around that time show other things blooming in the garden, so presumably we spent a lot of time there, a bike trip across the river – I think we said, “we should do this more often this year” – and a trip to a museum with my best friend and her son, my quasi-nephew – I think we also said, “this was fun, we should do things like this more often this year.”


January Calendar Picture

January 1, 2021
A few branches with pale yellow flowers; more branches and blue sky in the background
Wintersweet/Chimonanthus praecox

Giving this another try… I have not been good at blogging in the last years, I’ve not even managed to schedule the calendar pictures most of the time…

But I miss it, and as I’m finally getting ready to mail physical calendars out to my aunt and cousins, I figured I could try again. (I usually give them the calendars for Christmas, but obviously we were not meeting in person this time, and I have not felt up to go to the post office so far…)

I’m trying to remember the circumstances under which I took this picture. I’m pretty sure I know where I took it, on the street that leads from the Chamber of Agriculture to the train station in Big Town, but I have absolutely no clue why I would have been there on the date the picture was taken.

And anyway, the whole concept of “going places to talk to people in person” seems very strange now, after nine and a half months of covid safety measures…

And yet, a year ago, we filled our apartment with mostly-online friends and went sight-seeing in Big Town, which was great.

A year ago, I also went to a seminar with my employees, despite being feverish and coughing (a “gift” from one of our visitors), and in hindsight I am filled with horror about how irresponsible I was. Never again, that’s for certain!

Backyard Castlefest

August 5, 2020

The thing that hurts the most about this year* is that there are no medieval fairs, no Pflasterspektakel, and worst of all, no Castlefest.

I mean, I have been lucky so far, and I’m grateful that nobody I know has gotten sick yet, that I was allowed to keep my business open, that I live in a country that takes this pandemic seriously and imposes measures to keep all of us safe and all that…

But knowing that Castlefest is cancelled, and that I wouldn’t go even if it wasn’t, has been a constant ache in my soul for months.

But it turns out that you can successfully replicate most of the elements of Castlefest in your own house or garden:

We brought both laptops outside, so we could watch the livestream on one and talk to my friends on the other
  • wearing costumes or otherwise odd clothes
  • eating entirely too many snacks, and foods usually purchased at the stalls, such as barbecued meats, fruit salad and garlic bread (I can not tell you how glad I am to have a recipe for the garlic bread now!)
Seen at Castlefest last year. I’m still laughing about it.
  • talking to friends (that is what Zoom is for)
  • listening to music, via livestream
  • we could have danced, but I think we all forgot about it
  • people-watching was missing, that is true, but I looked at photos of many Castlefests past instead
I don’t think I ever even posted the newer version of the Yásira dress here… (This picture is from 2017, I did not have this many people in my garden.)
  • shopping for shinies can be done online, including the usual choice paralysis of “it is all so pretty!” (I eventually ordered several t-shirts, a dress, and am getting a silk scarf custom-made)
  • burning a wicker-beast

Okay, the wicker was much smaller than the usual one, much less skillfully made (hey, this was my first time, and my materials were scavenged from the compost heap) and it wasn’t a beast so much as…

Do you recognise it?

Yes, it is a corona virus. A wicker-virus. I figured it was appropriate, because if there was ever anything that deserved to go die in a fire, it is this. (Yes, I’m aware that viruses are not technically alive…)

Here’s the song that we played – “Musik ins Ohr” by Die Feigen Knechte, since it is the right genre for Castlefest and it’s about covid.

Anyway. Turns out that doing all those things helps a lot with the ache in my soul.

But still – fingers crossed, thumbs pressed and prayers sent to whoever will listen that next year it will be safe to go to a physical Castlefest again.


* and that’s saying something, because the endless arguments with my customers about the covid safety measures have taken a serious toll on my mental health.

Harvest Monday Tuesday – July 14th, 2020

July 14, 2020

Reasons I feel like an idiot right now:

  • I completely forgot about this again last Monday.
  • I was going to post yesterday, but left my laptop charger at work, and by the time I felt like blogging, the battery was empty.
  • I looked at my last post to see whether it was actually two weeks ago, or even longer, and discovered that the post title says “June 9th” instead of “June 29th”.

(Also I keep feeling unsure about whether I unintentionally lied to you about my rhubarb, which I wrote I planted last year. I keep getting the feeling that it has been longer, but no, I’m pretty sure that the first year that we owned the place, I only planted a few squashes, because we were not living here yet, so I wanted something that would cover the space of the future vegetable garden, but not need a lot of attention.)

But on the other hand, I have finally made myself an excel thingy for my harvests again, which is more than I have done in several years now.

But I’m still tired/exhausted, so I’ll just throw some photos at you without trying to look up the corresponding weights and such.

Zucchini, zucchini, so many zucchini… I’m already at the point where I visit people purely to give them some zucchini…

Also, snow peas.

(I use this plate to take pictures of all the vegetables I sell plants for at work, to use on the signs I put up. Because my issues with the pictures on the signs I can buy, and the pictures on the tags, is that there is never any size comparison, and I still spend entirely too much time explaining the size of various tomatoes to people. We also used to give out samples on this plate, so customers might conceivably recognise the plate and know how big it is, but obviously, we are not doing that this year, since it would be an infection risk.)

Anyway, I was pleased to discover that the Shiraz peas keep their purple colour when cooked, unlike the purple beans I was familiar with.

Over 2 kg of red currants, mostly from the one bush that was already in the garden when we bought it, and a few white ones from a freshly-planted bush.

For much of my life, my grandmother supplied the entire family with large quantities of redcurrant jelly.

I own significantly fewer redcurrant bushes than she did, but I still brought my mother a jar, and I might take one to my grandma and aunt the next time we visit.

Cucumbers of various kinds, and I’m glad that I finally have a picture of the last one for next year’s signs.

We’re very bad at eating the lettuce I grow, because we both hate washing it…

I would have left them to grow some more/ripen, but it was LG (=fiancé)’s birthday, and he likes peppers, so he got peppers for lunch.

And also a little cake with a gooseberry heart.

And lastly, the first aubergine of the year.

In the unlikely event that you haven’t come here from there, you should head over to Happy Acres and have a look at what Dave and everyone else has harvested, too.

Harvest Monday – June 29th, 2020

June 29, 2020

For the past several weeks, I kept telling myself I would do a Harvest Monday post again, and then I was always too tired or busy on Monday. It is rather late today already, and I wasn’t going to do it any more, but my fiancé bullied me into doing it anyway – won’t let me come to bed unless I do it.

I’m very tired, so I’m not looking up weights and stuff (I have written it down, but not in an organised way), and not checking dates on the photos, so there might be one or two that are older than a week, but anyway. There has been chard.

And peas and zucchini.

So many peas, so many zucchini.

I’m too tired to do the math, but it’s well over 1 kg zucchini, and it’s only the first week, and I’ve made a point of picking them small. And I’ve already given several away to my mother and best friend.

Also, lettuce:

The first peppers and tomatoes (and so much basil, which I failed to take pictures of)

And lots of rhubarb – I did not expect to be able to harvest this much already the year after planting them, but I’ve made cake, crumble and strawberry-rhubarb jam.

I did buy the strawberries for the jam, but we are harvesting some berries of our own, as well:

And now I’m off to bed. I’ll try for a more coherent post next time, but no promises. I’m just proud of myself for posting at all, today.

Hallstatt, part 2

June 10, 2020

I must admit, I did not actually know much about Hallstatt other than “overrun with tourists”. I had a vague awareness of “pretty houses squeezed between the mountain and the lake”, and “the Chinese built a duplicate of it for some reason” and if you’d told me about the salt mine, that would probably have sounded familiar, but I’m not sure I would have remembered it myself.

Anyway. Have some pretty houses.

Trying to remember how to blog…

June 9, 2020

I know there was a time when I just went and did things, and then I got home and blogged about them.

But for the last several years, just having the energy to do things has been a struggle, let alone to write about them.

Anyway. Spring is over once again, work is getting calmer, and the Covid lockdown is lifting here in Austria, but the borders were still mostly closed last week, so when I took a mental health day away from work, LG* and I decided to take the opportunity and visit Hallstatt.

I never expected to visit it, since it’s usually overrun by tourists, and if there is one thing I hate, it is crowded places. But now, with the borders closed, and rain on top of it, we figured it would be a good opportunity.

A lake in the foreground. In the center of the image, a small town on the lakeshore. In the background, mountains, and a cloudy sky.
First look…
Same image as before, but zoomed in more closely. A lake in the foreground. In the center of the image, a small town on the lakeshore. In the background, mountains, and a cloudy sky.
… closer…
The same picture again, zoomed in still more closely: A lake in the foreground. In the center of the image, a small town on the lakeshore. In the background, mountains, and a cloudy sky.
… and closer.

* Have I ever introduced LG here? It’s short for Leatherworks Guy, which is what I called him online when I was just getting to know him, and he is now my fiancé. So that’s your “Ivy’s life in general” update for today: I’ve been engaged for almost three months now.


July 8, 2019

This was Friday:

Today, there were seven more.

(There has also been a bit of lettuce, some berries, and a decent amount of fava beans, which were delicious, but a pain to prepare. But mostly zucchini.)

July Calendar Picture

July 1, 2019
Three lilypads and two small yellow flowers on the surface of clear, greenish water
Yellow water lily, Nuphar lutea; Plomberg, Austria; June 2018