Communion Of Dreams

Why yes, as it happens I *am* still alive …

The past few months have been … eventful.

* * * * * * *

A couple of weeks ago I got back to work on St Cybi’s Well. Yeah, the break since I finished Chapter 14 was much needed, as I had hinted in my last cluster of blog posts at the end of May.

Why? What happened?

Well …

… in no particular order:

  • Discovery, and subsequent treatment, of a major cardiac health problem.
  • Completion of a full course of cardiac rehab.
  • A substantial change in our financial situation resulting from the sale of property we owned.
  • A bunch of resultant legal and investment research, planning, and changes which every adult should do but few of us ever get around to actually completing. Something about almost dying tends to focus the mind on such matters.
  • A couple of extended out-of-state trips.
  • My starting to train someone from the MU library staff in proper conservation techniques a couple of afternoons a week.
  • A complete new computer system & software upgrade, with all the fun of transferring archives and working files.

And then there’s all the usual business of living and working. Having a couple of months of my life sucked up by dealing with the cardiac problems & treatment meant a lot of changes and trade-offs … but it sure as hell beats being dead from a massive sudden heart attack.

* * * * * * *

So, a couple weeks ago I went through and re-read the entire text of SCW to date, then started working to pick up the story again and bring it to a satisfactory conclusion. Here’s an excerpt from the next section:

Darnell looked out Megan’s bedroom window, across the little lane into the large field beside the Tanat. The field, where so recently cattle peacefully grazed, was now a small village of tents and temporary structures. Most prominent among them was a large marquee someone had found and brought from a nearby town. Make-shift walls had been constructed of large plastic-wrapped round bales of hay from down the road, their tough skin making them weather and even somewhat fire-resistant. The marquee was the main recovery center, where people would be brought from the church after healing, allowed to emerge from the deep sleep at their own pace.

He turned and looked at his sister, who was sitting on the side of her bed. “There’s no reason for you to get up. We can handle it. Go back to sleep.”

There was a faint blue-white shimmer to her skin which never left her now. It wasn’t like she was glowing, exactly, but more like she had a permanent echo of the healing energy which she had used so much in the past couple of weeks. She shook her head. Darnell wasn’t sure whether it was in response to his comment, or just an effort to clear away cobwebs of sleep. “It’s better if it comes from me. I’m known as the Guardian of the Shrine. That carries some official weight with the Church.”

* * * * * * *

I got my garden in late this year. No surprise, given how things went with spring and the early summer. So my tomato plants were not as far along as they could have been when the first waves of heavy storms hit in June. Since then we’ve had fairly regular poundings of storms. And it looks like the tomatoes are almost at the end of their producing for this year — a full month or so early. But between what I harvested, and extra tomatoes picked up at the farmer’s market, I’ve put up about 60 pints of chopped tomatoes. Not quite as much as I would normally like to have, but not bad considering the situation.

And my habanero plants seem to be doing OK this year. Won’t be a bumper crop, but it ain’t nothing.

* * * * * * *

The past few months have been … eventful.

And a lot of things which normally get done, didn’t. Or were handled in a more superficial way than I would usually do.

But that’s OK.


Jim Downey

Hope springs eternal.

Because I want this:


And this:

I took advantage of the cool but beautiful Spring day and did this yesterday:

Done 2015

That’s about 40×40. Good deep churn to about 10″ depth. The soil conditions were just about perfect. Now it’s prepped for me to plant things in a couple more weeks (it’s still a little too early here for tomatoes and Habaneros). And surprisingly, I don’t hurt nearly as much today as I expected.

Back to work on St Cybi’s Well. All that time tilling yesterday gave me a chance to think through some things.


Jim Downey

And then there are these.
September 12, 2013, 4:36 pm
Filed under: Gardening, Habanero | Tags: , , , ,

As a follow up to Tuesday’s post about tomatoes, here’s what I just brought in from the garden:


From left to right:

Oh, and Tuesday’s tomato harvest? In addition to plenty being used in meals the last couple of days, they also made 9 full quarts of rich, delicious sauce. Yum!

Jim Downey

September 10, 2013, 9:56 am
Filed under: Gardening | Tags: , , ,

I haven’t talked about it too much, but this has been a rather astounding year for my garden. To wit:


The bucket on the end? That holds 5 gallons. It’s full. All told, I think there’s somewhere between 60 and 70 pounds of tomatoes sitting there.  That’s just this morning. And I only planted 12 plants (4 of which are now past bearing).

Blimey. Time to make tomato sauce …


Jim Downey

Planning ahead.

It’s been said that our ability to conceive of and plan for an uncertain future is one of the hallmarks of human intelligence. Some ants and other critters might beg to differ.

Nonetheless, today’s crop from the garden is largely going to be canned for enjoyment this coming winter:


That’s about 20 pounds of mixed tomato varietals in the dish drainer, and another 5 or so pounds of Roma tomatoes in the colander.  I’ll chop and can the bulk of them, then sauce all the Romas and the left-over juice/bits from the canning. So far this season I’ve put up 44 pints of chopped tomatoes and about a gallon of sauce.

I like to plan ahead.

And you should too. There’s about 36 hours left to get your entry in for the drawing for a full leather, hand-bound edition of Communion of Dreams. And we’ll also be drawing for the last of the “nearly perfect” cloth copies:

Finished product.

Finished product.


I’ve managed to talk my old friend MargoLynn into handling the drawing for me, so you should send all bribe attempts to her. Winners will be announced sometime Sunday.


Jim Downey


This ain’t Pyrrus.

* * * * * * *

About two weeks ago I mentioned this:

Oh, I know the reality of modern publishing well enough to realize that I would still have to do a lot of work to promote the book(s). But being able to hand most of that over to others would be worthwhile. And getting a sufficient amount of money in advance to take off some of the financial pressure of needing to earn money day in and day out would be a big help as well.

* * * * * * *

Great story:

HATCH: For Jefferson’s to come out into this garden was sort of an affirmation of his vigor in so many different ways. And even at the age of 83, Jefferson read about giant cucumbers in a Cleveland, Ohio newspaper. And he wrote to the governor of Ohio and asked him for seeds of this cucumber, and passed them around to his friends in Charlottesville; grew them in his garden; typically measured how long each one was that came out of his garden. And Jefferson once wrote that although I’m an old man, I am but a young gardener.

* * * * * * *

It was a difficult year. A painful year. And while that pain has lessened over the months, it still causes difficulties for me in terms of limiting my energy and ability to focus on what I need to do.

I’m 53. Be 54 in July. Overall, I’m in much better health than I could be, as my doc reminded me at my recent annual physical. I don’t like to think of myself as being limited in what I can do. Oh, I have no illusions that I’m still 20 or anything, but still I find it frustrating that there is this factor which intrudes on my ability to accomplish things.

* * * * * * *

This ain’t Pyrrus. The gravity isn’t twice Earth normal. All the flora and fauna isn’t dedicated to the notion that it should kill me as quickly as possible, and I don’t have to be in peak physical condition at all times to just have a *chance* to survive each day.

That’s what most people remember about Harry Harrison’s classic novel Deathworld, if they remember anything at all. What is too often forgotten is that the real story was one of adaptation and learning to live with the environment of Pyrrus rather than just battling it in a forever war.

And out of necessity, that is the lessen I am going to attempt with my garden this year. Where for most of the last decade I have put a huge amount of effort into trying to keep the local critters out of my substantial garden, I just don’t have the time or energy for that now.

I’m scaling back the whole garden – yeah, a bunch of hot peppers, but other than that I’m just going to plant a half dozen or so tomato plants. Enough to provide us fresh toms this summer and fall, perhaps with some extra for a couple batches of sauce. But I’m not going to try and set up to can my usual 60 pints of chopped tomatoes and a couple dozen pints of sauce. And I’m not going to put down a double layer of landscape fabric to keep down weeds. Perhaps most importantly, I’m not going to set up a 200′ perimeter deer fence 7′ tall with a 2′ chicken wire base to try and keep out all the critters. I’ll take some other steps to try and keep the individual plants safe, but that’s it.

This is a big change for me. I really enjoyed gardening the way I have for the last few years. But I just don’t have the necessary energy to do it, given the other things I have to see to.

But everyone makes those decisions. You have to change, or you die.

Maybe this place is more like Pyrrus than I thought.

Jim Downey

*Of course.