Missing Mom [Reposted from August 2011]

mom with Isaac and Rafi
Thanksgiving 2005. Mom with my son Rafi (standing) and my newphew Isaac. She died four weeks later.

My mother Davida would have been 70 years old today. She died at 64. I can never hear that Beatles tune without thinking of her.

She lived long enough to attend my wedding and celebrate my son Rafi’s first birthday. She will never know the grand-daughter Dvora who is named for her.

My mother was diagnosed with bladder cancer when she was 44. I was 13 at the time. Thank God and modern medicine that I had her for another 20 years. Damn them both that it wasn’t longer.

Motherloss

Motherloss is a recurring theme in my family. My mother’s mother died of breast cancer when she was 43. My mother was 17.

I grew up in the shadow of that tragedy. Every day of her life my mother mourned her mother. No, she didn’t walk around in tears all the time – she was vibrant and alive and taught me much about the joy of living.

But she always missed her mother. I had no doubt that that early loss marked my mother forever. I regretted not knowing this woman who was the star of so many family stories. Legends, even.

And now my daughter shares a similar fate – she will only know her mother’s mother through stories. Thank God, I had so much more of my mother than my mother had of hers. I have more to tell. I pray the pictures I paint will be that much richer, her presence that much more vivid for my daughter.

Losing another mother

My mother’s younger sister Linda was only 8 years old when her mother died. When Linda turned 43 she died of a brain tumor. She left behind two children, 8 and 14.

I became very close to that 8-year old. She spent at least one weekend a month sleeping over at my Manhattan apartment.  When my mother died, I mourned with that same girl, now a woman in her late twenties. Among other things she told me about two books that have become priceless guides to the painful journey that I have now begun: Motherless Daughters and Motherless Mothers by Hope Edelman. I recommend them both to all women who have lost their mothers, at any age.

And now I’m the Mom

To recap, in case you’ve missed any of the craziness on this page:

My mother’s mother died of breast cancer at 43. She left behind four children: 21 (Judy), 17 (Davida – my mom), 8 (Linda), and 3 (Larry).

Linda died when she was 43. She left behind two children 14 and 8.

My mother was diagnosed with cancer when she was 44. She died 20 years later.

I turned 42 this year. Am I afraid of dying? Does the specter of cancer haunt my thoughts day-to-day? Not consciously. Yes I’ve tried to eat well all my life and I rejected smoking after a very brief experiment in my teens.

But that’s not the most important impact of all this tragedy.  As a direct result of so much sadness and grief, I’ve learned how to live.

Carpe diem. Live each day as though it was your last. You really only get one chance and you never know when your time will be up. Live, love, laugh. Don’t wait for that rainy day – live now.

I don’t know if I ever would have started writing if my mother hadn’t died. Knowing that this was it, that I only had one life in which to be whatever and as much as I could be – maybe that’s what opened the creative wells that had been shut for decades. And now I write almost every day.

With Rafi and Dvora on the Staten Island Ferry, Memorial Day weekend 2011.

It was a dream of my mom’s, too – to be a writer. Now it is my reality, a gift from her to me.

And maybe back to her as well?

My daughter will turn 3 tomorrow. She has my mother eyes.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I miss you very, very much.

Danielle Meitiv is a scientist, a writer, a “free-range” mom, and a very passionate, opinionated person. She is currently working on a book called “Fighting For the Future: A Parent’s Rebellion.” You can find her on Twitter:  @DanielleMeitiv , Facebook: Danielle Meitiv, and YouTube: Danielle Luttenberg Meitiv. She lives with her husband and her two famous, free-range kids in Silver Spring, MD.

Wonderful Waterful Wednesday: James Cameron and Enric Sala Named National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence

Welcome to Wonderful Waterful Wednesday, a weekly post at Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog that explores everything fabulous and fascinating about the oceans and waterways that cover our Blue Planet.

Filmmaker and alternative-energy proponent James Cameron and marine ecologist  Enric Sala have been chosen as the National Geographic Society’s newest Explorers-in-Residence. This select group includes some of the world’s preeminent explorers and scientists and represents a broad range of science and exploration.

A Titanic Passion for the Abyss

James Cameron working on a underwater shot. Photo courtesy James Cameron.

James Cameron has brought together two of his passions — filmmaking and scuba diving — in his work on movies such as “The Abyss” and “Titanic.” The latter took him on 12 manned-submersible dives to the famed shipwreck in the North Atlantic.

Since then he has investigated the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck; organized expeditions to deep hydrothermal vent sites along the mid-Atlantic Ridge, the East Pacific Rise and the Guaymas Basin in the Sea of Cortez; and led seven deep-ocean expeditions with a combined total of seventy-two submersible dives!

Cameron is currently leading a team building a unique manned sub capable of diving to the ocean’s greatest depths. Next year he plans to pilot the sub to the deepest point in the ocean, the Pacific’s Mariana Trench. It will be the first in a series of dives to some of the  world’s deepest places, including the Mariana, Kermadec and Tonga trenches.

Avatar Inspires a New Passion

James Cameron on board a helicopter
Filmmaker James Cameron tests a 3-D camera while on a helicopter. Photo courtesy James Cameron

Work on “Avatar” inspired a new mission for Cameron — illuminating the plight of indigenous peoples, especially those involved in struggles over energy issues. Since the film’s release, Cameron has spent  18 months in energy battlegrounds — in the Alberta, Canada tar sands and the Amazon — meeting with indigenous peoples whose environments and way of life are threatened.

Cameron has also organized a task force of deep-ocean experts to address offshore oil production and ocean engineering issues raised by the 2010 Gulf oil spill. He continues to work in the arena of alternative energy.

Marine Ecologist Enric Sala

Witnessing the harm people do to the ocean led marine ecologist  Enric Sala to dedicate his career to working to conserve marine life. Sala is one of a rare breed of scientist who combines research with effective communication to inspire people to protect the ocean.

Enric Sala diving with a green turtle
Enric Sala diving with a green turtle off Cocos Island, Costa Rica. Photo by Octavio Aburto

One of his goals is to help protect the last pristine marine ecosystems worldwide, using scientific expeditions, the media, partnerships with local conservation organizations and high-level discussions with leaders in countries around the world.

Sala fell in love with the sea while growing up on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. After obtaining a Ph.D. in ecology in 1996 from the University of Aix-Marseille, France, he worked in California for 10 years as a professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.

In 2006 he moved back to Spain to take the first position in marine conservation ecology at Spain’s National Council for Scientific Research, and in 2008 he became a Fellow at the National Geographic Society, where he leads the Pristine Seas project.

Pristine Seas Successes

The Pristine Seas team recently worked with Oceana-Chile and the Chilean government to establish the 15,000-square-kilometer Motu Motiro Hiva Marine Park around Salas y Gómez, a small, uninhabited Chilean island in the Pacific Ocean.

Working with local and international non-governmental organizations, Sala’s Pristine Seas project also inspired the Costa Rican government to create the new 10,000-square-kilometer Seamounts Marine Managed Area around Cocos Island.

Cameron and Sala join 13 other National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence: oceanographer Robert Ballard, anthropologist/ethnobotanist Wade Davis, geographer Jared Diamond, marine biologist Sylvia Earle, conservationist J. Michael Fay, archaeologist Zahi Hawass, filmmakers/conservationists Dereck and Beverly Joubert, paleontologists Meave and Louise Leakey, anthropologist Johan Reinhard, paleontologist Paul Sereno and geneticist Spencer Wells.

For more information on the Explorer-in-Residence program and other fabulous National Geographic projects, including the ever-exciting monthly magazine, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.

Round of Words in 80 Days

Rond two of the #ROW80 challenge. I petered out on the first one because I gave myself too many goals and stopped checking in regularly. Round two went well, as I was writng A LOT, but then forgot to post my successes!  this time I’m going to try to be more deliberate about both goal-setting and checking-in.

Round three started this weekend and goes until September 22. I’m not sure I want a wordcount goal – I think that contributed to my demise in Round One.  Instead, I have two completion goals.

Writing goals: finish AND submit two short stories, one this month and the second by the end of August.

Blogging goals: Twice weekly – “Wonderful Waterful Wednesday” and “I’m Diggin’ Friday.” I keep threatening to add another day, and keep psyching myself out, so I’m NOT going to put that down.  We’ll see if I end up doing it anyway…

Social Media Goals (I got this from a fellow WANA alum): leave at least a half-dozen comments a week on other folks’ blogs.  It’s great to RT something (and I do, often), but nothing makes a blogger feel warm and fuzzy like comments (hint, hint!)

BONUS: July Poster Giveaway

This month’s special giveaway is this fabulous out-of-print NOAA poster, Marine Mammals of the Western Hemisphere. Everyone who leaves a comment between now and the middle of July gets one entry in the drawing. Link to this site on your blog and get two entries. Get your comments in now!

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, marine science geek, gardener and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

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I’m Diggin’ Friday: Digging Potatoes, Multiplying Tomatoes and a Devilish Book Party!

Digging potatoes: purple, red and gold

The first potato harvest came up this week! I didn’t intend to dig them up, although there were signs some of the plants were ready (past flowering and starting to brown).

I was reweaving the soaker hose through the bed when I saw a smooth purplish thing sticking out of the dirt. At first I thought it was a kid’s toy.

Some digging brought up more than two buckets full of purple, red and golden tomatoes!  I was only planning to dig up one bucketful but when the kids saw them, they insisted on digging some, too.

Eating our new spuds!
My daughter enjoying new potatoes with dill and garlic - all grown in our garden!

We’ll be eating potatoes for weeks to come. (Months if we don’t eat them all ASAP. When their skins are intact – that is when you don’t have a 3- and 6-and-a-half year old helping you dig them up – they store very well).

This is my first successful year growing spuds.  Tried last year but put them into the ground way too late (late April through early June). The temperature was too much for them in the steamy DC region: the plants wilted and the seed potatoes turned into gooey gummy blobs – gross!

White potatoes like to have “cold feet” – they need cool soil temperatures to develop well. This year I started putting them out the week of St. Patrick’s Day and finished by the end of March. Even my latest potatoes will be ready by mid-July.

Multiplying Tomatoes

Planting potatoes early also means that their beds will be available next month for more plants. I confessed to my husband that I didn’t know what to plant there and he looked at me with an indulgent smile, shook his head and said: “tomatoes, of course.”

A new tomato sucker - soon to be a new plant!
A new tomato sucker - soon to be a new plant!

Of course and not just because we love tomatoes.  From years of experience he knows that regardless of how many tomato plants I start with, dozens will be producing fruit by summer’s end. So how do these amazing plants multiple across the yard?

Suckers! (no that’s not an insult).

A sucker is the little plant that starts from notch between a leaf and the main stem. I’m a  big fan of removing these and trimming my plants  down to one or two stems, for ease of harvesting, to keep them upright, and to prevent them from becoming too bushy.

(This is true only for indeterminate tomatoes, the kind that will grow long rambling vines all summer. Check your seed packet or plant label or ask at the nursery or garden center if you’re not sure which kind you have).

Summer in my area can be very humid. Trimming the tomatoes helps air circulate around the vines, reducing mold and generally keeping the plants healthy. Trimming also results in lots of suckers that can be sprouted and planted to produce lots more tomatoes!

Tomatoes wirh small roots
These tomato plants are sprouting new roots after a week in water.

You can remove the suckers with clippers or pinch the small ones off with your fingers. Put them in some water. I prefer a glass jar so I can see the roots develop.

Some folks say that you don’t need to do this, they’ll just develop roots in the ground.  I tried that last year with only limited success.

Suckers are an important part of the barefoot garden – super easy to propagate easy and free! So pinch off those suckers and grow yourself some new plants.

A devilish party

This coming Tuesday, June 21st, YOU are invited to a devilish celebration, a worldwide party to celebrate the launch of the latest SIGMA Force novel, The Devil Colony, by fantabulous New York Times bestselling author James Rollins.

The Devil Colony is #7 in the SIGMA Force series, which revolves around a division of highly trained operatives and  expert scientists whose primary focus is fighting terrorism and protecting sensitive and confidential information.

The SIGMA series includes Map of Bones (May, 2005), Black Order (June, 2006), The Judas Strain (July, 2007), The Last Oracle (June, 2008), and The Doomsday Key (June, 2009).

jamesrollinsdevilcolonypartySo where’s the party? Online! Rollin fans everywhere will gather for twenty-four hours on Twitter under the hashtag #DevilColony. What’s the party’s theme?  You guessed it – Devil!

Dress fancy or put on your tails and horn,s and post pictures  of your devilishness online. Eat deviled eggs, create devilish cocktails for you and yours, and let us know!

James will stop by throughout the day (and night!) to chat with fans. He’ll check out the pictures, selecting favorites to post on his site’s Wall of Fame.  The best pictures will win a big mystery prize!

Never attended a cyber-party? Here’s your chance! Head on over to #DevilColony on Tuesday to see what it’s all about.

To get into the party spirit, follow @jamesrollins on Twitter. and check out this great interview between social media maven Kristen Lamb and Rollins right here.

See you on Tuesday!

BONUS

This month’s special giveaway is this fabulous out-of-print NOAA poster, Marine Mammals of the Western Hemisphere. Everyone who leaves a comment between now and the middle of July gets one entry in the drawing. Link to this site on your blog and get two entries. Get your comments in now!

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, marine science geek, gardener and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

Wonderful Waterful Wednesday: Celebrating Selkies and Seals

This week’s Wonderful Waterful Wednesday post goes out to Virginia Kantra, in honor of the release of “Forgotten Sea” the latest in her Children of the Sea romance series. Virginia’s stories feature selkies, shapeshifter men and women fighting for the future of their kind – and ours. If you love stories of the sea, check them out!

Selkies – from the Scot word for seal, selch/selk – are mythological seals who can shed their skin and become human. The selkie legend originated in the Orkney and Shetland Islands and spread around the NE Atlantic, from Iceland to the Faroe Islands, Scotland and Ireland. Selkie stories are often romantic tragedies featuring humans who unwittingly all in love with the shapeshifters, only to lose them to the lure of the turning tide. (Rest assured, Virginia’s romances are anything but tragic!)

Real seals are no less fascinating their their magical namesakes. Seals are part of the group Pinnipedia or fin-foots, which includes true seals, eared or walking seals (sea lions and fur seals) and walruses.

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Under the sea

Pinnipeds are well-adapted to their aquatic lifestyle. Their bodies are sleek and bullet-shaped, with wide flat fins to propel them through the water. They have fully collapsible lungs, which allows some species to dive as deep as 7,800 feet (a record held by the elephant seal) and reinflate their lungs afterwards. A layer of blubber keeps them warm, allowing them to spend hours in the water even as far north and south as the poles.

Pinniped eyes are adapted to see above and below the water’s surface, including a clear membrane or lid that protects their eyes underwater. And when the lights go out? Seals use their super sensitive whiskers to detect water movements and identify prey.

A study released last month found that seals can even use their whiskers to determine the size and shape of objects, a useful skill when hunting for prey in dark or murky waters. All pinnipeds are carnivorous.

Who you calling a seal?

The names of two of the groups of seals point to the characteristics that distinguish them from each other. “True seals” (Phocidae) lack external ears, although they do have ears and excellent hearing. Their two rear flippers are partially fused into a tail-like appendage that makes moving on land awkward but aids them greatly in the water.

While not as adept in the water as their cousins, eared seals (Otariidae) such as the sea lion can rotate their rear flippers, giving them some (relative) degree of maneuverability on land. And as their name suggests, they have external ear flaps. The ‘seals’ often seen circuses or aquaria are usually sea lions rather than true seals.

Walruses are easily recognizable by the long tusks and immensity, with an average adult weight of 1,900 (female) to 2,700 (male) lbs! They live exclusively in the Arctic, the last remnant of a the once widespread family Odobenidae.

Walruses are not the largest pinnipeds, however. Adult elephant seals can weigh up 6,700 lbs and reach 16 feet long!

Elephant seals, members of the family of true seals (Phocidae) are also the most aquatic for the pinnipeds, spending 80% of their time in the water. They can hold their breath up to 100 minutes – longer than any other non-cetacean (whale) marine mammal.

Elephant seals get their name, not from their size (although it is impressive!) but from their long trunk-like noses and the trumpeting sound the males make when startled, defending territory or fighting for mates.

From land to sea

Like whales, seals evolved from terrestrial mammals that returned to the sea. (You can read more about whales and their evolution in this post). They descending form a bear-like ancestor and took the the water around 23 million years ago.

In 2007, scientists in Canadian uncovered a fossil that helped explain how seals evolved from walking ancestors. The creature Puijila darwini, also know as the ‘walking seal’ is not believed to have been a direct ancestor of modern pinnipeds. Rather, it illustrates a possible intermediate step between living primarily on land versus largely in the sea.

P. darwini lived in the Arctic between 20 and 24 million years ago, when the region was forested and much warmer than today.

And you?

I am always looking for authors who can transport me under the waves from my inshore home – how about you?

Love seals and selkies?  Check out Virginia Kantra‘s Children of the Sea series!  Know of any other good marine fantasies? Mermaids and mermen? Sirens and sailors? Ghost ships, kraken or creatures of the deep? Let us know in the comments below!

BONUS

This month's giveaway: an out-of-print NOAA poster marine mammals. Start your entries today!

In honor of Virginia’s book, this post and marine mammals everywhere, I am giving away a copy of this fabulous out-of-print NOAA poster, Marine Mammals of the Western Hemisphere. All of the critters mentioned above are featured and more! Everyone who leaves a comment between now and the middle of July gets one entry in the drawing. Link to this site on your blog and get two entries. Get your comments in now!

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, marine science geek, gardener and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

I’m Diggin’ Friday: Gardening Bums

Who doesn’t dig Fridays? I do – and I dig digging!  I’m passionate about playing in the dirt, planting veggies and fruit and gorging myself on the harvest. So this Friday I’m launching I’m Diggin’ Fridays, a brand-new feature here on Danielle’s Barefoot Blog. Once a week I’ll write about what’s going on in my garden and I hope you’ll share what’s coming up in yours!

A bit of background: I live in a semi-urban area, walking distance to shopping, the metro and a community college, among other things.  Not Manhattan but not suburbia either.  All of my gardening takes place in the spaces I’ve carved out of the flower beds and the lawn. It’s not much, but I grow a huge amount of food there. And you can too!

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But first, a little drama…

Garden bums

A couple of weeks ago I received a nasty letter in my mailbox.  It was anonymous, of course as nasty letters always are, with no return address. Written on a torn-off piece of paper in a spidery scrawl, here’s what it said (I’ve used boldface for the words that were underlined):

To the bums at (my address)–

Can’t you see All your neighbors take pride in their homes — Yours [triple-underline] is an eyesore with your tumble-down side porch — you dont even cut Your grass. Why did you buy a house? Our next move will be to call the county zoning. you are the only Bums [triple again] in our neighborhood.

If you’re wondering what the hell? you’re in good company. If you’re thinking that my place must look like an abandoned-lot-druggie-flophouse, you’d been in for a big surprise.

Odd grammar and emphasis aside – oh, and the reference to us as “bums” I mean who uses that kind of language? – this note is freaking ridiculous. And I’m happy to say a minority viewpoint. Neighbors wander by all the time to ask what this flower is or that plant tastes like. Everyone who actually speaks to me face-to-face (rather than anonymously through nasty notes), says how much they like our yard.

I’ve been given so many compliments, I should be in Better Homes and Gardens!

There are few people in my area who take more pride in their garden.  In fact, I’m willing to bet my whole potato harvest (and I planted for than 30 seed potatoes, so it will be substantial) AND my garlic harvest (100+ cloves) that I spend more time I my garden than almost anyone in the neighborhood. (The editor of Washington Gardener magazine lives down the street, so there’s some serious competition here :-)).

We spend so much time planting, growing and harvesting food crops that my six-year old refuses to be called a gardener – he’s a farmer.

What’s growing on?

Let’s see what us bums have been up in the yard so far this year. Here’s a list of what’s growing on right now (#s in parentheses indicate # of different varieties of a plant):

Planted last summer/fall & harvested through the winter until now: collard greens, kale (2 ), arugula (2), lettuce (half-dozen or more), radishes (2), spinach (2), gailan/Chinese broccoli,  pak choy, mustard greens (4), cilantro, salad burnet, mache/corn salad, Swiss chard (2), turnips. (I’ve pulled up one overwintering bed to make room for sweet potatoes – the rest will come out when the peppers and eggplants are ready to go in).

So far this spring: White potatoes (7), peas (2), Malabar spinach (self-seeded from last year), patty pan squash, winter squash (2), cukes (2), other squash (pumpkins? no idea – transplanted seedlings from the compost pile), volunteer tomatoes, lots of garlic (4).

Yesterday, I planted sweet potatoes. I cannot recommend growing sweets strongly enough! They are super easy, super prolific and you can even eat the greens. They’re similar to spinach when cooked and grow at temperatures that would defeat the most heat-resistant spinach.

Seedlings growing under lights, ready to go out when the beds are ready: tomatoes (6), tomatillos, hot peppers (3), sweet peppers, eggplant (2), ground cherries. (What are ground cherries? No idea – the seeds came as freebies with another order).

Perennials, bushes and trees, oh my!

Perennials, bushes and trees  – planted last year and coming up on their own or put in recently in the hopes of future harvests: walking onions, Jerusalem artichokes (they’re going crazy!), strawberries, thornless blackberries, mulberries, gooseberries, goji berries, red currants (2), raspberries (2).

We also have four 20+ year old fig trees (2 or 3?). I’m hoping to propagate them this year and plant more trees – you can’t get enough fresh figs, especially when they’re $4.99 for 7 at Whole Foods!

Perennial herbs: rosemary, lemon balm, parsley, purple cone flower (Echinacea), lavender, chives. mint. Annuals: basil, dill, cilantro.

As for non-food pants, I recently transplanted two suckers from the lilac bush into the ‘hell strip” between the sidewalk and the street, and they’re doing well. We also trimmed our monster rose bush from a brier patch the size of a VW bug – I’m not kidding – to something closer to an extra-large beach ball. And it looks great!

And the verdict is…

Does that sound like the work (or non-work) of a “bum”? OK maybe my root veggies didn’t do too well – I always get more greens than roots on my turnips, kohlrabi, and beets (no idea why – suggestions?) – but otherwise I’ve been pretty successful. And damned busy!

So what’s this guy’s beef? OK, I confess, my yard is not neatly manicured and picture perfect. The weeds always have a good run in my beds before I get around to picking them (if I ever do), and the lawn sometimes grows until we legally have to mow it. (In my neighborhood that’s 10″).

Fancy fertilizers aren’t my thing, not even the organic kind, so I have a monster compost pile for yard waste and a smaller one for kitchen stuff. (I also got a few cubic yards of leaf compost from the county, which is piled in my driveway and doubles as a jungle gym.)

It is lovely, in a way. I have lots of flowering bushes and bulbs – the asparagus is nestled among the false indigo, the hydrangea and the peonies, the Jerusalem artichoke is making a space for itself between the butterfly bush and the lilies. (The latter have edible tubers, by the way, although I’ve never sampled them myself).

A girl’s gotta eat

The truth is that most of the plants I tend are for food. If I’m going to sweat out there – and in the DC area in August I mean sweat! – I want more payoff then just something pretty. I want to eat.

And the tumble-down porch? it’s made of stone without a chink in the mortar. Yes, the screens are torn and I would LOVE for my irate neighbor to come over and repair them. In the meantime they’ll stay on my to do list – I have some more weeding to do.

What else do I dig about gardening? Pushing the wheelbarrow when it’s full of dirt. It’s damned heavy and makes me feel strong.

How Does YOUR Garden Grow?

Have any stories about nasty neighbors? Garden favorites or suggestions?  Questions about how to grow any of the above? Let us know in the comments section below!

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, marine science geek, gardener and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

Continue reading “I’m Diggin’ Friday: Gardening Bums”

Wonderful Waterful Wednesday: Ocean Heroes and Stylish Bloggers

This weekend the Blue Frontier Campaign and its partners will convene the Blue Vision Summit. Hundreds of ocean activists from all over the country will descend on Washington, DC to learn about ocean issues, experience ocean-inspired music and art and lobby Congress for better ocean policy. Among the speakers and guests will be some of the best known and passionate ocean advocates in the world. This week’s wonderful waterful post is dedicated to a half-dozen ocean heroes and the wonderful work they do.

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A Stylish Blogger

I’ve been given a Stylish Blogger Award! Yes, Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog has been recognized for it’s substance and style (well, it’s style at least) with this prestigious accolade.

So, what makes me a stylish blogger?  No, it’s not the bare feet. I’ve been nominated for the award by my fellow blogging buddy and writing group member (writing groupie?), Patrick Ross. I first encountered Patrick’s creativity through his tweets about creativity (Conveniently enough, he tweets as @on_creativity), and have since become a big fan of his blog, The Artist’s Road.

There are three obligations that come with the award: as I recipient I have to post seven random things about myself, nominate five other blogs, and link back to the wonderful person who nominated me. As a bonus, I get to display the Stylist Blogger Badge on my blog! (Check it out at right).

Seven random things:

  1. At the age of 6 or 7 (?) I proposed and debuted the role of Toto in a summer camp production of the Wizard of Oz.
  2. I have a naturally deep, scratchy voice, which prompted double- takes and comments from strangers when I was young: “Where did you get that voice?” (Occasionally, I told them I stole it).
  3. On a family trip to Senegal when I was ten, I was chased by a baboon wielding a dead parrot. My father had to scare him away.
  4. I pursued majors in bio and French in college and one of my professors tried to convince me to pursue a PhD in French lit. I can no longer read the papers I wrote back then.
  5. I shook hands with Nelson Mandela and attended a private speech he gave to the Independent World Commission on the Oceans in Capetown, South Africa.
  6. While recovering from a break-up in grad school (you know who you are!), I learned to knit, spent a month brooding and completed a sweater. In the process, I developed a wool allergy and have never been able to wear it.
  7. Before my first pregnancy, I couldn’t stomach the smell or taste of tomatoes or olives. Now I love both.

My five Stylist Blog Award nominees:

  1. Eat The Damn Cake. Kate is an author and blogger who writes about beauty, body image, women and dessert.  She does an “unroast” with each post, highlighting something she likes about herself. @EatTheDamnCake
  2. Three New Leaves. Blogger Matt Madeiro turned over three new leaves in his life: he lost weight, started to travel and embraced a minimalist lifestyle. In addition to blogging about it, he wrote two great e-books: Simpler and Roots. @MattMadeiro
  3. Jen Greyson, Author – Survival. Mama’s Point of View. Author Jen Greyson writes about disaster planning and survival in mama-sized chunks. Because survival is about getting what you want. @JenGreyson
  4. Shellie Sakai – Something Wicked This Way Comes. Author Shellie Sakai and her creepy crawly spider friend blog about wicked spooky things like demons and zombies. @shelliesakai
  5. Damian Trasler’s Secret Blog – Do Not Read! Playwright Damian Trasler posts top secret information about life, plays and…shhhhh…Canada. You should read it – but he may have to kill you afterward. @dtraslerwriting

I met Jen, Shellie and Damian through a wonderful online blogging course given by social media maven Kristen Lamb, who’s pretty stylish as well.

Round of Words in 80 Days: Wednesday Check-in

Writing is going well.  I’ve done my morning pages everyday except, gulp, today! (Will get to those as soon as I finish this post!). I sent a synopsis to my agent friend on Saturday. It’s for an erotic short story.
While waiting for her feedback, I started revising an older piece story that I think would also make a good erotic short story and I’m pleased with how it’s going.

This AM comments came back from the agent, however, so I’m putting the older piece aside. This week I’ll revise the synopsis to make it editor-ready (I’d sent her a rough draft to get feedback on the story) and enxt week I’ll start writing the story itself. I’ve agreed to get it to her in a month. Wish me luck!

I’ve met my blogging goals so far this week: Sunday and Wednesday posts and ROW80 check-ins. I’ve put aside the learning goals because I have so much writing to do. Of course, I’m learning while I’m learning “on the job”  this way, so it’s all good!

For a description of the Round of Words challenge and my ever-shifting goals, check out this post. To follow everyone else’s progress go here.

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, marine science geek, gardener and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

It’s Alright By Me

Darius Rucker AlrightShort check-in today because I was up until midnight last night finishing my synopsis and plan to spend tonight away from the computer. Writing is going well – I came up with a new story, pitched it and submitted a two-page synopsis.  Waiting for feedback and then I have a month to write it. My story includes an engineer who designs stock cars, so I’ve been learning about NASCAR from the web and a host of wonderful Twitter folks! I’m hoping to get to Old Dominion Speedway sometime in the next few weeks to check out a race myself.  I’ve been advised to bring earplugs.

Haven’t done much on the learning front – either Holly Lisle’s fab course How to Think Sideways or the Artist’s Way. I think I’ll put those goals aside for now and fit them in the next round. I have been doing my morning pages, regularly and before noon. They’re a wonderful tool for exploring ideas about a story in progress – and unloading all the BS like insecurity, self-doubt, and perfectionism that get in the way of writing.

Recently a writer friend noted that I always seemed so happy and wondered if I was at all discontent. I replied with a litany of things I wish I could have: more time to write and greater productivity when I do. The money, time and energy to pursue all those interesting pastimes I explored but abandoned in the past like rock climbing and martial arts. The opportunity to travel more and a more flexible job for my husband so we could spend 6 months living in Paris, Scotland, or India. (I’m a consultant so my time is pretty flexible. Besides, time in India would probably help advance my project).

You know what was funny about this exercise?  Rather than making me depressed or more discontent, it was cathartic. I felt lighter after putting my dreams out there. I realized none of them were do or die. I’m pretty happy right where I am.

I also realized that few of my wants are unattainable. I mentioned my list to my husband and he started thinking about what he could do to make more travel possible for us. We’re still a long way from 6 months in Paris, but now we’re planning 2 weeks in the fall. Not a bad start!

This afternoon I heard a Darius Rucker song that captured just how I’m feeling: Alright. It’s such a wonderful feeling and a fantastic song. Check it out here. Afterwards, give yourself a treat and head on over to YouTube to check out more of Darius’ music – you won’t be disappointed! (If you think the voice sounds familiar, you’re right. He’s the lead singer from Hootie and the Blowfish, all grown up and singing country).

You check out the other wonderful folks participating in the 2nd Round of Words in 80 Days. They’re all right here.

How about you? Are you content? Confused? Are there things you’d rather be doing with your life? Can you think of ways to make them happen? Try writing them down and sharing them with others – in the comments section!

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, marine science geek, gardener, and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

Wonderful Waterful Wednesday: the Language of Clouds

Today’s waterful blog post celebrates not the water in oceans or streams, but that which hangs out in the sky: clouds. Yes, of course you knew that clouds were masses of water droplets (or ice crystals) suspended in the air – after all, without clouds you can’t have rain.  But doesn’t it amaze you still? Hundreds of millions of gallons of water – hardly light stuff – suspended from meters to miles above our heads.

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Of course, not all clouds are alike. And with a little practice you can even learn to read them.  No, I don’t mean finding the one that looks like a bunny or a train. (My son comes up with really elaborate images, like a one-winged dragon eating an eagle that’s holding a fish in it’s claws – and winking). I’m referring to one of the oldest ways to forecast the weather. Because different cloud shapes say different things about what you can expect.

Clouds are classified on their shape and their elevation in the sky. Some common cloud terms are:

Shape:

Cirrus means ‘curl of hair’; stratus = layer; cumulus = heap; nimbus = rain. So cumulonimbus, the tall anvil-shape that signals a huge thunderstorm means “heap of rain” – ’cause that’s what’s coming!

Elevation:

Stratus clouds are found below 6,000 feet; alto from 6,000 – 20,000 feet. (Just to confuse things, stratus means sheet and can be used to describe the shape of a cloud OR it’s elevation, since stratus clouds are usually found in the lower part of the sky. Go figure).

[UPDATE: My original list was way too complicated. I’ve simplified it below].

Clouds that portend rain, snow or a change in the weather

Thin cirrus clouds are found high, high up.  These wisps usually portend a change in the weather within the next 24 hours.

Cirrostratus clouds are also high up. These are sheet-like; thin enough to see the sun or moon through. When the sky is covered by these, expect snow or rain in 12-24 hours.

Altostratus clouds create a mid-level layer that covers the entire sky with a sheet of gray. These clouds form ahead of storms of continuous rain or snow.

Altocumulus clouds are large gray puffy masses, that look like God is communicating with smoke signals. The message on a warm, humid morning is: be prepared for thunderstorms in the late afternoon.

Stratus clouds are the low thick masses that cover the sky, and make you feel like your walking under a low gray ceiling. Light mist or drizzle might fall from these, but not necessarily – they could be fair weather clouds as well.

Nimbostratus form a dark gray wet cloudy layer low in the sky. They are associated with continuous light or moderate rain or snow.

Cumulonimus clouds defy characterization by elevation because these anvil-shaped monsters can stretch from close to the ground to 50,000 feet. These proclaim “run for cover” as loudly as a thunderclap.

Clear Skies Ahead

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. No so with clouds and rain…

Cirrocumulus clouds are small rounded puffs that appear in long rows  high in the sky (beneath or round your airplane). In temperate regions, these clouds mean that you can expect cold but fair weather.

Stratocumulus are low puffy and gray. They make you want to bring an umbrella just in case, but rain is rarely associated with these clouds.  However, they can turn into their foul weather cousins, nimbostratus (above).

And last but not least:

Cumulus are the white puffy cottonball clouds that children put in their drawings – usually next to a  big bright sun. That’s appropriate because these clouds herald fair weather.

So, the next time you’re walking outside, look up and see if you can read the next day’s weather in the language of the clouds.

What’s the weather like in your neighborhood? Is the sun shining or the rain falling? What’s the craziest cloud shape you ever saw? Share in the comments below!

Writing update: A Round of Words in 80 Days

Holy smokes have I been busy! Didn’t do a blog post or ROW80 check-in on Sunday, but I have been writing. An agent friend challenged me to come up with an erotic short story. The deal was that I would send her a two-sentence summary and two paragraphs of “backcover copy” within a few days, a two-page synopsis the following week, and the completed story within a month. She doesn’t usually rep erotica (and I don’t usually write it!), but if it’s good, she’ll try to sell it for me. I needed a new challenge, something to write that would take my mind off the revisions, so there it is.

I’ve completed the first part of the challenge and the synopsis is due this weekend. So far so good – wish me luck!

Other goals? Hmm – writing is going well, both this story and the morning pages.  I’ve put aside revising for now to focus on this story, which is good because revising was making me nuts. The learning goal has stalled for a bit, but I’m eager to do some more Artist’s Way lessons and an artist’s date. Tune in on Sunday for more! In the meantime, check out everyone else’s progress here.

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, science geek, gardener, and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

Wonderful Waterful Wednesday: Carnival of the Blue & Round of Words Check-in

Who doesn’t love a carnival? The sights, the excitement, the sounds. This week I’m honored and excited to host The Carnival of the Blue, a monthly round-up of ocean-related posts from around the web.

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Carnival of the Blue # 48

Seafood at risk: Dispersed oil poses a long-term threat —  Allie Wilkinson

This April marks a year since the Deepwater Horizon spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico and almost 2 million gallons of the dispersant Corexit were dumped to “clean” it up. In a guest blog at Scientific American, Allie Wilkinson asks: “With all federal waters currently reopened, the question still remains— is the government responding appropriately to ensure not only that the present levels of oil and dispersants are not toxic, but also that those levels won’t build up over time through the accumulation of toxins in the tissues of seafood, contaminating Gulf seafood for generations to come?” Great question – and the answers are far from reassuring. Check out the post here.

Marking the Oil Spill Anniversary In Washington DC — The Beacon: Oceana’s Blog

Oceana marked the one-year anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with an event in Washington, DC featuring actress and supporter Kate Walsh (“Private Practice” and “Grey’s Anatomy”) and Aaron Peirsol (gold medal-winning swimmer). Also attending was Patty Whitney, a Louisiana resident-turned-activist whose home was affected by last year’s disaster. Couldn’t make it to my backyard to attend? You can watch a video of the event here.

Awesome Orcas All Around — Amanda Banks

Author Amanda Banks describes an exciting encounter with a pod of orcas offshore of Monterey Bay, CA. I’ve only seen orcas close up once (further north of where she was, but also with a group of whale researchers) and it’s an experience I’ll never forget. Check out her play-by-play of the amazing behavior and victorious hunt of these incredible animals here.

The Ways of Whales —  Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog: http://daniellemeitiv.com

As a complement to Amanda’s orca post, I’m including one of my own about the evolution of whales, some of their unique characteristics and the threats they face today. Check out the fabulous photos – and a link to a life-sized encounter with a blue whale, the largest creature to ever live on Earth – here.

Hiding the doomsday device: camouflage and venom in stonefish — Zen Faulkes, Neuro Dojo

Zen Faulkes writes about the stonefish one of the most venomous creatures in the sea. Interestingly, the stonefish don’t appear to use their awesome powers for anything – good or evil. They’re ambush predators, so their venom isn’t used to capture prey, but neither is it used to ward of predators. As Faulkes notes, it sounds like a good subject for a dissertation! Check it out here.

Squid Have Mirror Eyeballs — Danna Staaf, Squid A Day

Many sea creatures use camouflage to hide themselves from predators – but their eyes remain a dead giveaway. Squid use smoke and mirrors – ok, maybe just the mirrors – to hide in the open ocean. Their eyes reflect ambient light like a special kind of mirror called a ‘dielectric.’ When the light hits them a certain way, their eyes don’t appear to be there at all! Don’t take my word for it, check out Daana’s post here.

Ping-pong paddle worm — Susannah, Wanderin’ Weeta (With Waterfowl and Weeds)

Wanderin’ Weeta brings us a video of a tiny paddleworm that hitch-hiked a ride to her home in an empty thatched acorn barnacle shell. I love the music! Who knew that invert biology could be so entertaining. Watch how this critter wriggles to the music. Ok, maybe the wriggling came first, but it’s still fun to watch here.

The fun continues  – just head on over the the blogs listed above and see what these ocean authors have in store for you for May!

What are your favorite ocean topics? Let us know below!

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Round of Words Mid-Week Check-in

My progress has been somewhat inconsistent this week, but still pretty good so I’m pleased.

  1. Writing/revising: my good friend, the talented literary agent Louise Fury, convinced me to take on a cool new writing project (complete with deadlines!) so I’m psyched about that. I’m still revising my WIP and received incredibly supportive and valuable feedback from my new writers’ group. I have yet to do my ‘Morning Pages’ today – and it’s after 9pm. Sigh.
  2. Learning: Working through Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel (while I do just that), but haven’t done much on The Artist’s Way. Hope to go on an artist’s date tomorrow – Friday at the latest.  Perhaps a hike?
  3. Blogging: I’m here, aren’t I? 😉 I’m pretty happy with my new Sunday feature – a mash-up called ‘Beachcombing.” That brings me to twice weekly. I’m hoping to add a third on Fridays, but I’m not committing just yet…

Check out everyone else’s progress here.

How are your goals coming along?  Steaming along, dragging your feet?  It’s all good. Let us know so we can cheer you on – below!

Marine Mammal Poster Giveaway

I’ll announce the winner of last month’s drawing soon, I promise!  just haven’t compiled the names yet.

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, science geek, gardener, and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

Sunday Beachcombing Booty: the Environment, Health, Writing and More

My son Rafi and I examine our beachcombing booty.

Beachcombing is one my all-time favorite activities. And why not? It happens outdoors, by the ocean and it’s best done barefoot! There’s a certain mystery about it: I can never anticipate what I’ll find and I’m sure never to find the same thing twice. (This is also why I love shopping at secondhand stores).

Beachcombing takes patience, curiosity, and a love of discovery. One time you may happen upon the perfect snail shell; a smooth piece of glass the next. Look carefully and you’ll find a dozen treasures to take home, things you want to remember and show to your friends.

Surfing the web is a lot like this (minus the sandy toes). A lot of stuff gets tossed onto the shores of the Internet – it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume. But if you look carefully, there will some clear gems, people and ideas you want to remember and share with your friends. Here are a few of the special bits and pieces I came across this week.

Oceans & the Environment – Much of my personal and professional passion is dedicated to learning and writing about the environment and working to protect it for the future. Here are just two of the dozens of wonderful resources I turn to on a regular basis.

Speak Up For the Blue features the best of the ocean blogoshere, brought to you by Ocean Leaders from around the world. is the brainchild and passion of Andrew Lewin, a marine scientist dedicating his time to encouraging people to speak up for our endangered seas. I am honored to be included as one of Andrew’s Ocean Leaders, alongside such great advocates and personal heroes as Sylvia Earle and the Cousteau family.

Lake Titicaca Frog
The Lake Titicaca Frog: one of the cool and bizarre critters waiting for you at Arkive.org.

Arkive: With my two-and-a-half year old daughter poking her head under my arm as I try to avoid typos write this post, I have to toss in one of our favorite nature sites. Arkive is a collaborative collection of images and information about endangered animals and plants from all over the globe. With photos and videos of everything from elephants to octopus, frogs to eagles, my daughter and I are entertained for hours.

Gardening & Health – Gardening is something else I like to do barefoot. OK, not the serious digging, but I’m often out there shoeless, picking weeds and harvesting greens – or just admiring what’s come up. Being outside toes in the grass is good for you, as are all the yummy things I plant, so I’ll toss some health stuff in here, too.

When I was getting started with my new veggie garden, Kenny Point’s Veggie Gardening Tips was the first gardening blog I read and still one of my all-time favorites. Kenny introduced me to the joys and ease of growing garlic and fall and winter veggie gardening, which is A LOT easier than you think. This year he’s inspired me to plant goji berries – I’ll keep you posted on how they do!  Subscribe to his blog for a free intro to veggie gardening.

rows of garlic - March 2011
The main garlic patch, mid-March. Now the greens are twice as big.

Two very different posts from Mark’s Daily Apple will illustrate why I love this blog. In 6 Common Herbs and Why You Should Eat Them (Hint: They Don’t Just Taste Good) primal eating and fitness guru Mark Sisson describes the health and cooking benefits of six herbs you’ve eaten, and could easily grow yourself. The Mysterious World of Smell examine the power of our most ‘primitive’ sense.

Mark’s Daily Apple is one of the web’s best intros to the ‘paleo’ or ‘primal’ type diet. After 27 years as a vegetarian, and 3 years as a reluctant meat eater, I’ve recently become convinced of the superiority of eating those foods that our bodies evolved to consume: meat, veggies and healthy fats – and eliminating those that are products of recent agricultural history: all grains and grain products.

The result: I feel better than ever, and although I was not overweight to begin with, I’ve lost 5 lbs in two weeks with only minimal exercise (so it wasn’t just ‘water weight’). Check it out. Another good intro to the primal lifestyle is Whole9Life.

Writing & Creativity

Time Management for Writers – Getting More Done in Less Time, by author and blogger Kristen Lamb. As a fellow ENFP, I can relate to her struggle to learn the organizational skills that come naturally to her more detail-oriented husband (mine is the same), and REALLY appreciate the insights and suggestions she shares. I’ve learned a whole lot about writing, online media from Kristen’s blog and even more from her online classes, so don’t be surprised if she shows up on my list in the future. You can find her on Twitter as @KristenLambTX

Writing is an art and the well that all artists draw from is called creativity. Patrick Ross, creativity explorer extraordinaire and the blogger behind The Artist’s Road, tweets as @on_creativity and sends out some really great stuff.  If you’ve missed his gems, you can catch his weekly round up: Creativity Tweets of the Week.

Round of Words: Week Four Check-in

I’ve set three types of goals for this 80-day challenge. You can read the details about them here. Some of those goals are right on track:

  • Blogging: Twice weekly check-ins (Sunday & Wednesday) as part of a weekly Wednesday post, and now a regular Sunday mash-up.
  • Writing:
    • Morning pages (an exercise from the Artist’s Way): and EVERYday, so far. Nnot always first thing, but more often than not in the morning, so that’s something,
    • Daily/Weekly words: Over the past four weeks my writing goals have flip-flopped from revising to writing and back again. After attending a weekend retreat called “In the Company of Writers,” I’ve come back to my original goal of revising the current WIP (work-in-progress): the first draft of a fantasy novel focused on the sea. Since I’m back in revisions I’m going to drop the daily wordcount, and instead give myself a target of doing some revising everyday. I may make that more specific as I get further along – or not.
  • Learning: I didn’t even look at the Artist’s Way last week and skipped the artist’s date as well. Will jump back in at Lesson/Week Four in the upcoming week. Since I’m not creating but revising, my coursework will shift from Holly’s How to Think Sideways course to How to Revise Your Novel. But the goal to do some revising via Holly’s method everyday.

Check out all the other wonderful writers taking the 80-day challenge here.

And you?

How are your writing, revising, blogging or other goals coming along?  How does your garden grow? I’m always looking for new resources and new online friends, so stop by and say hi below!

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, science geek, gardener, and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.