Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Well, I don't know if Homer would ever have said that - maybe in a parallel, holistic Simpsons universe.

I've been drying lavender lately, because frankly, it's such a handy plant that it really is a crime NOT to. My aromatherapy pillow has lost its lavender smell, but all I need are some dried petals in a bottle next to the bed and tralala! Problem solved.

The process is easy-peasy. Cut some lavender from a bush, as much as you want to dry. Yields can be pretty impressive with just a small bundle. Once you have your bundle, put it in a shoebox or something similar lined with newspaper and put it in a dry place. I put mine in the water cupboard. Works like a charm. Shake the box a little every day to help the stripping process along. After a week (or 10 days), take the box out and empty; the lavender should be dry and the buds should be slightly brittle between your fingers. If you want them drier, just chuck them back in the cupboard for a few more days.

After you've stripped the buds (and are high on essential lavender oil), let them rest for an hour or two in a dry place. Then put them in your preferred storage container. Their most basic function is to make everything smell awesome, but you can use the buds for a number of things - put it in green tea, in a bath, sachets in your closet will deter moths, it's an insect repellent, next to your bed as a sleep enhancer - the list goes on. Google is your friend.

(click pics for higher resolution)

Dried lavender left (bluish), fresh buds right (purple)
To give you an idea of yield, the bunch on the left filled the small jam jar at the bottom of this post

Dried lavender buds (blue-ish)
Stripped, dried lavender leaves
On stalk, off stalk (thanks, Mr. Miyagi)

Sunday, October 7, 2012


When I was younger I never had any kind of interest in gardening. Now that I'm a little older and slightly more prone to senility and madness, I have found that focusing on something green makes me feel like I'm doing something right. I don't know; maybe some of the crazy is here to stay already.

Anyway, we've known for a while that we were going to have to move out of the house we are currently living in, so Jen and I have been unable to start growing veggies. We're moving soon, so as soon as we get settled in a new place, planter boxes will be gathered and potatoes will be sown.

In the meantime, I have started on herbs, since most of them can be easily maintained in pots. I've also started on a few bigger things (avocado, grenadella (passion fruit), lemon trees) that can be started in pots and then replanted.

It's nice to wake up in the morning and check on your growy-things while waiting for the jug to boil, and I've discovered that the water cupboard is a marvellous place for germinating seeds. At this stage, I have to take them out in the morning and bring them in at night to protect them from possums and snails. Once we have moved, though, I aim to get a small. portable greenhouse so they can stay outside permanently.

For the herbs, I want to grow variants used for pizza, curries and roasts. I also want to expand to include medicinal herbs such as camomile, lemon balm and valerian. My first attempt at rosemary was a fail, and my coriander stalks are way too long, making them look rather insipid. A replant is in order. Pretty pictures below.

Avocado, grown from stone

Basil (and purple basil peering out from below)


Herbs and stuffs


Small lemon tree plants, grown from fresh lemon fruit seed

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Well, it's been a while since my last post, hasn't it. I've been busy though, and that's always a good thing because it means you can pay your rent and go out to dinner every once in a blue moon.

So, what's new. Here's some things that arrived in the mail recently.

This is what I'll be reading next. I originally ran across Jonathan Thomas' The Color Over Occam on S.T. Joshi's blog, and when I read the description knew that it was something I wanted to read. It is currently available only in hardcover as a limited edition in a 150-copy print run, but will eventually be released in paperback. Get the hardcopy, it's gorgeous, and signed by the author. Here's a taste:

"Gorman County disappeared decades ago when floodwaters rose to fill a reservoir. So why should the ghosts of drowned villages resurface only now, in a new century? And what does the reservoir have to do with the grisly deaths, disease, and disappearances stalking the benighted little town of Occam?

Amateur paranormal sleuth Jeff Slater poses these innocent questions, only to encounter hostility, intimidation, and violence wherever he turns. In this saga of Lovecraftian horror, noirish detection, and festering corruption, Slater comes to understand how little he ever knew of his hometown’s macabre history and its bizarre present..."

Something else also came in the mail - my contributor copy of the special edition of Something Wicked Magazine's first anthology. The collection features my story "Into the Black Abyss", about a group of explorers in the African jungle who are terrorised by something that sorta... folds people...

Some of the best recent short specfic by South African writers and others have been collected here by the magazine's editor, Joe Vaz, who currently stars as "Big Joe" in Dredd 3D as. Great guy, and passionate about SA specfic, Joe has produced a gorgeous anthology with stories that I cannot wait to sink my teeth into.

Joe told me about two days ago that there were only about 5 copies of the limited edition left, so if you hurry, you can still get your tentacles on a copy!