If You Haven’t Anything Nice to Say

My near silence of late is deliberate in the sense that I’ve lost my taste for updates devoid of monumental news.  The literary practice of regurgitating daily happenstance has simply lost its luster.

My lack of exuberance extends only so far as normalcy.  Anything out of my ordinary, anything that excites me, still seems worth recounting.  I believe that was one of the spirits in which I started this blog. On to the point: I spent the last hour researching molluscs and indoor aquaculture to little avail, but did manage to piece together a frame work of knowledge as much from what was missing as from what I found.  A great deal of tangential information has begun to accrete, not unlike a bivalve’s shell, on reflection.

Pennsylvania is number four in aquaculture, though our primary product is trout.  I saw no mention of shellfish on the USDA’s PA page, let alone the apparently much more niche practice of freshwater mollusc culture.  One hopes that there may be some ag extension office support yet to be discovered given our aquatic productivity, even if it isn’t a direct sort of aid.

The internet was even more outspoken with regard to small scale growing of said filter feeders.  I found only a few websites offering fry and spat (baby molluscs of varying sizes) and most were for salt water strains.  Of the sites that, after investigation, proved to exist, few were fully functional; many had blind or dead links, some seemed written by merry-go-round enthusiasts with links sending a user in a perpetual, unelucidating circle.

I found a book available through a local used book store that is apparently highly regarded in the clam rearing field.  For a purchase price less than a cup of a coffee one can hardly go wrong.  Two days until it arrives.  Until then, I think more practical research is in order.

The internet must have the information I want, but I haven’t yet the terminology to tailor my searches.  There may be a great deal of tangential information on indoor shellfish rearing included in aquaponic articles (one such piece I read today pointedly declared that aquaculture and aquaponics were not the same and should never be used interchangeably. My thoughts ran immediately to the “lighten up, Francis” scene in Stripes).*  It seem to me that the skills demanded of one likely prepare one for the other.

My interest in aquarium sized farming is not parthenogenic.  I’ve been working on building my own terrariums for Agricultural Alchemy.  I’m enjoying the process but it’s a great deal more difficult than I realized it would be.  For the time involved, I’d like a greater return than merely something pretty (or very pretty, exceptionally pretty, even) to store plants I’ve already proven capable of growing.  Limitations of size, space, and light require the -ariums I’ve made so far to be fairly simple.  As my skill and methodology improve, I hope to begin including artificial lighting and a different sort of water proofing (aquatic life is a great deal more sensitive to seepage than is terrestrial life, hence those acidified dead spots in the ocean).  I use traditional woodworking techniques to seal my terrariums; for aquariums I’ll need to find something a little gentler and a great deal less transmutable.

Yesterday I made my fiftieth submission.  I read recently that one should aim for one hundred rejections per year, so my previous goal of one submission per week now seems low.  I don’t know that I’ll quite hit one hundred, but given that I’m now where I had meant to be two weeks past my birthday, I have time to catch up.

I’m still in the running for an unrealistically cushy residency.  While that would certainly give me time to finish at least one of the books on which I’m working, or edit the dozen stories just shy of completion, or even, to write something new, I don’t wish to give myself the option of waiting until I’ve gotten it to get back to work, especially given the severe unlikeliness of that event (this isn’t so much pessimism as it is an understanding of math).

The first week of lifting went off with only the minor, expected hitches.  My left leg is a great deal weaker than my right, a  much greater difference between my legs than exists between my arms, demonstrated in my left arm actually feeling less sore than my right.

My grocery bill has gone up.  For such boring foods, they sure are costly.

I made the mistake of adding one of my father’s intra-workout supplements to the one of my own creation for yesterday’s work out.  I made it through about a third of the bottle before I poured it out, the taste was like the worst parts of soda.  I’ll stick to fruit juices and micronized, clarified bits of animal.

I feel better than I have, stronger, more present.  It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe as it’s something marked primarily by its difference from my previous indescribable state.

Put simply, for a very long time I’ve felt myself a ghost haunting my own existence.  Now I feel more predatory, which is to say more alive in a very specific way.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, either.

*The only difference between aquaculture and aquaponics is the intended use of the fauna component in the system.  Aquaponics defines the use of its animals to plant support, primarily through filtration or fertilization, while aquaculture is the inverse.  Plants exist to support the animal component, animal protein being the intended food crop.



July, July

The air is perfumed by the oncoming rain.  The sky is dark enough for me to see without squinting.  Sleep and fruitless travel wasted my morning, but then was brighter, so the day begins as I feel it did, beginning at one, after a late breakfast of leftovers: leftover meat, leftover vegetables, leftover coffee, and thoughts.  Leftover ache from my teeth to my heels, intermittent, some muscles strained, others merely exercised.  The yard is half way clear.

I had hoped to clear the other half before the rains would come, the weather widget on my phone delayed the fall until this evening, but practicality, reality, demonstrates tiny droplets against my skin and windows.

I’d bought some vegetables months ago, before I’d let the yard go native, them consumed along with the flagstones and the footpaths so that only a wild meadow-scape remained.

My trees are suffering from the heat and neglect, from my forgetfulness egged on by bramble making no path to the spruce’s stump where sit the next generation of trees and herbs.

I’d decided to let the yard go, wanted to encourage the wildlife pushed out from every other corner to congregate here, but only a few transient birds and one drowned mouse every manifested.  One bird built its nest at the base of my now nearly leafless Japanese maple, only to live a week and a half before the nest was raided and the babies killed.  The pale green eggshell I’d thought to save went missing a day after I’d found the chicks’ bodies.  Yesterday I found the nest, half crushed and on its side.

I began clearing indiscriminately, tearing weeds out by the fistsfulls in an effort to make a path to the stump.  As the day grew on, my tearing become more specific, I began leaving everything that was, or would soon flower, reminded by a wasp of the bees’ needs for sustenance.  I made the fifteen feet to the stump, and doubled back, then circled it.  I pushed on to the fence to find my forgotten vegetables, not exactly thriving, but much better for their neglect than I thought possible.

I carefully extricated the giant plants and their tiny pots and laid them gently on my porch.  I worked back to the house and back to the fence, until a full half of the yard returned to something apparently so.  I promised myself I’d stop when it grew dark, and then began sorting compost at eight-thirty.

When it was so dark I couldn’t see the difference between an empty strainer and a full one, when I filled it by shape without really seeing the details, the sky caught fire, turned orange, as if the clouds had ignited.

Soaked from shoulders to the thighs, dirty and muddied and spattered with compost, weeds stuck on by sweet and friction, I crossed to the river side to watch the sun fall.  It had crossed behind the mountains, but the sky and the river glowed bright, an autumn sunset in the middle of summer.  I watched as the colors changed slowly, intensified as they condensed into a smaller and smaller portion of the sky.

I made errant conversation with two passers by as we all marveled at the sunset.  It was the first I’d spoken aloud that day.

They passed and I sat, the sun fell further and the sky went grey.  My skin began to pickle, the sweat and salt chilling me against the breeze.

I dragged myself from the stone black sky to the shadow framed yard, and put away my tools, covered my compost and soil.

I ate and drank and went to sleep, thinking little of anything, and remembering less.

Monday’s Activities and Thoughts on Blocks

I woke up early without the aid of an alarm, my phone forgotten in the nursery on the ground floor, accidentally left playing ambient music to my plants all night long.

Weighed in, down.  Dressed, last notch on the belt is too loose, soon I’ll have to punch another.  One cat fed, the other off her meds and hiding.  Gym bag already packed.  Kung fu bag for later.  A twelve minute walk followed by an hour’s jog, then five more minutes’ walk to the coffee shop.

Updated sales page, new items for Agricultural Alchemy.  Weekly check in with my father stationed in Kenya.  This month’s student loan paid.  Coffee drunk, the barista’s mistake resulting in a free additional latte.

I’ve been up for fewer than five hours and done most of what I wanted from today, and yet I feel off, hunted, uncomfortable sitting still, cold, aggressive.  My hackles are up.  There’s no reason why.  The caffeine I’ve consumed is no more than my norm, less than the strength I’d make at home.

The more I do the wider the funnel opens, like a hydra, each task done opening the way to two more that need doing.  All through it a chill I can’t shake, as if I were feverish.

Feeling rimy is always a shock to me.  I don’t feel the cold, not the way others seem to.  I’ve always been comfortable in it, never minded the sensation, looked forward to it each summer, but now it’s all I can do to keep my teeth from gritting as prevention against a chatter.

I don’t want to work on my novel, barely was able to manage busy work on the other site.  I still feel locked out, as if I’d forgotten my keys and all the text remained inside.  I’d force a window if I could find one.

All the characters who should live in my head have gone silent and I don’t know how to reach them.  I’m stuck making flowery descriptions of myself in an attempt to breath some fictive life into my own far too plain existence.

The words are on the page, but when they run out I don’t know how to continue the path.

I’ll have to bushwhack my way through if I want to make any progress.

The blog is a start.

Next, an open page.