Exciting News – Double Book Release

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I love writing fiction, and feel so incredibly lucky to have several books out in the world now, with more planned to come under my fiction pen name, Hannah Ross. Wild Children, the first part of a post-apocalyptic saga, was released close to a year and a half ago, and I’ve been working on the sequels ever since.

This project has been a long time in the making, because my publisher and I made the decision to release not one, but two sequels simultaneously.

The Hourglass is told from the perspective of Priscilla Dahl, a 16-year-old girl who forfeits her privileged position in society to seek justice. Freeborn is the story of the backlash that occurs when the government decides to rein in the outlaws it has shunned for many years. The beloved characters from the first book – the children from the orphanage, Benjamin Grey, his parents Rebecca and Daniel, and the new friends he makes in the world of freedom and precarious life on the edge – are all there in the sequels, too.

A few months ago, just as we were finalizing some details of the impending release, a dear and beloved friend of mine, Julie Ryan, unexpectedly passed away. As I was reeling from the shock of these horrible news, my publisher asked about the book dedications, and I thought that it would be a fitting tribute to dedicate The Hourglass to Julie. The theme of this book is time – the running out of it, and doing things that will make every hour and day of our allotted time count. This is something Julie understood well, and taught me – in her life, and ultimately in her sudden death. She made every day count. She lived her life to the fullest. So, dear one up above, this book is for you.

In celebration of this double new release, Wild Children will be free on September 15th and 16th, so go ahead and download your copy. Your support in the form of shares, reviews and social media mentions is always appreciated. Thank you.

 

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The tomato tree

 

Because of the house move, we didn’t plant anything this spring and summer, but we did have a nice surprise: a volunteer tomato plant that sprang up in the garden and wrapped itself around a bush, turning into a mighty tomato tree. On our last visit, we discovered it to be full of red, ripe, beautiful (and delicious!) tomatoes.

We were surprised that the people who are currently renting our house didn’t pick them. Apparently, they thought tomatoes that don’t come from the store aren’t safe to consume.

We collected literally a bucketful of produce from this one plant, which just goes to show you don’t necessarily need a large garden to grow a lot of food. And there wasn’t a single worm or a sign of blight or rot! I have never seen such lovely tomatoes.

Also wanted to take this opportunity to wish a Shana Tova (happy new year) to all the Jewish people out there. In our family, Rosh haShana is always a double celebration, as it’s also our sweet Tehilla’s birthday. It’s unbelievable that 8 years have gone by already!

Making progress

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In between all the rush of unpacking and preparing for the High Holy Days, we are getting to know our new neighborhood.

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There are lots of beautiful green nooks and trees that are great for climbing.

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Now that I have actually made a dent in the boxes and have all the essentials on hand, I look forward to making progress on this weedy patch of land and seeing what we can grow and do there.

I will post more updates soon!

Moving mess

So, we’ve finally got ourselves at the new place, and because I’m brave I’m going to show you a glimpse of the jumbled mess I’m dealing with right now. Wish me luck as I sort through it all!

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Backyard – overgrown weed jungle. I’m hoping to set up a little chicken coop and run here. Yesterday I was happy to find out that other people around her raise poultry in their back yard, too.

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A huge stack of boxes in the living room. I can’t seem to find my arms and legs right now, but it will all get done eventually.

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The kitchen is a huge mess right now, but I hope you can see the potential. It’s actually my favorite part of the house. There are two sinks, a lovely granite countertop and a window that lets in plenty of light.

It was not the Real World

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I was one of those kids who love to learn (I still do), but hate school. I loved my friends, I loved some of my teachers, but I hated school as an institution. I was a bookworm so I’ve always read my schoolbooks from cover to cover before the school year even began, and I was generally meek and eager to please, so my grades were good. But whenever there was a teachers’ strike, I would have this awesome feeling in my chest, like the swelling of a golden balloon. A couple of times I found an opening in the fence and ran off, just wandered in the streets and parks until it was time to go home, and all the while I was terrified of having the police on my tail. :o)

Of course, it didn’t help that I was the scapegoat/punching bag of school bullies, and/or those who wanted to be on good terms with them. I was ridiculed, I was ostracized, I was picked on, I was reduced to tears, I had monstrous cockroaches shoved under my nose… I still shudder when I remember that. And when I do, I wonder – are those the kind of experiences that are supposed to prepare kids for the “real world”? Because somehow, at least in my case, that Real World was left behind in Junior High, (thankfully) never to be encountered again.

I believe there is just something about a large number of children being cooped up together for many hours in a day that brings out the worst in them. You can take 30 children, 27 of which are basically good, and 3 of whom have bullying tendencies which would never be brought out without a sidekick. But together with his two friends, the bully forms a gang; then they find several more kids who are desperate for approval and the feeling of importance, to be their cronies. That’s 1\3 of the class already. Another 10 tag along, and the rest is divided between scapegoats and children who are either immune to peer pressure, or just by a stroke of luck find themselves left out. Together, the gang of bullies may commit acts of cruelty none of the individual children would do on their own.

Teachers may try to stop it, or at least keep it at bay, at least when direct bullying is involved. No one, however, can stop children from quietly making fun of someone’s glasses or clothes or the way someone speaks, and no one can make a singled-out child feel any more accepted. Overall this is something children grow out of (but many carry the pain that was inflicted well into adulthood). Although I’ve had my disagreements with people in university, at work, etc, somehow I never found dead cockroaches in my desk again. In “real life”, you won’t often find yourself spending all day long with 30 other people who were all born in the same year as you, either. You meet people of all ages, which gives a multi-dimensional perspective and discourages unhealthy competition.

Then there is the element of simply being cooped up for too many hours, every day. But then, if you have 30 children in a classroom it only makes sense you’ll need 30 minutes of enforced discipline to have 15 minutes to explain something, answer questions, and give homework. No wonder so many children, especially boys, are on Ritalin.

You may say I am biased because of my own school experience. Many children are popular and happy at school, have many friends, and thrive in a classroom setting. Sounds good, right? They pay a different price, however, for fitting so well into the system.

But that would be a story for another day.

Book Review: Vertical Gardening by Olivia Abby

Vertical Gardening:The Beginner's Guide To Organic & Sustainable Produce Production Without A Backyard (vertical gardening, urban gardening, urban homestead, Container Gardening Book 1) by [Abby, Olivia]

Update: for those who have been wondering what we are up to, the big unpacking fest hasn’t started yet. In fact, I’m yet to see the new house. I’m staying with the kids at my mom’s, while my husband is busy fixing things up and painting. The break has been enjoyable, but all too soon, it will be time for the hullabaloo of cardboard boxes.

I can’t wait. No, seriously. Packing and unpacking a house is one big overhaul, but it feels so good when it’s done .

Still, I’m looking forward to the moment when we get through the chaos, the dust settles down, and we can really turn the page and start a new chapter in our new home.

In the meantime, I’m trying to make up for the lack of action by reading about micro-farming, urban homesteading and container gardening. My latest find was Vertical Gardening by Olivia Abby, a neat little book for those who love to get their fingers into earth but don’t have any backyard space.

It’s an enjoyable read, though it didn’t bring me any very great novelties on container gardening. It is, however, a well mapped-out, thorough, basic guide with all the signposts in place.

So… I’m waiting for that moment when I can finally stop reading and get to doing all that good stuff. Stay tuned .

Creative conservation

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It’s been a long time, but I still love this article.

“I turn empty tissue boxes into space shoes for kids. I’m the one who thaws the frozen foods next to the boiling tea kettle, who warms my lunch on the hot dashboard of my car instead of in the microwave. I bucket brigade my bathwater to the rose bushes. I invented and patented a valve that allows one to irrigate gardens with used shower water. Like my father, I’m a toothpaste squeezer, brushing with the last dregs of elusive paste throttled from the very corners of the tube.”

Often, when I talk about our choices of frugal life, I’m asked, “and can’t you, indeed, afford this, that and the other thing..?” – it shows how much definitions of “can afford” and “can’t afford” vary. Some people will only make a major purchase if they can pay for it in cash. Others will consider taking a limited loan which they can return within a reasonable amount of time. And some will say they “can afford it” if their bank will allow a loan high enough to cover the cost of the purchase – without ever considering how they will pay their debt off.

So, when someone who just bought a nice big apartment in an expensive location, and signed up for being in debt for the next twenty years of their life asks us, “can’t you afford this?”, I think to myself – you’d say we can. We say we can’t.

Furthermore, even if we can afford something, it doesn’t mean we will buy it. We will consider how much we really need it (as silly as I feel for pointing this out, it wasn’t always obvious to me). Perhaps we’ll decide that, even though buying this or that wouldn’t put us under financial strain, we’d better direct our money elsewhere. It’s all a matter of priorities.

Image source: Leave Debt Behind