How Does My Garden Grow?

Pretty Damn Well!

lettuce growing in Nicaragua

Here come my Asian greens!

I planted the Monday of the new moon. I like to grow with the new moon for its witchyness and tradition.

Rowcover Nicargau Garden

Row covers for my lettuces.

Cabbage moths demolish lettuce, kale, broccoli rabe, and chard. I put the row cover on immediately after planting. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough material for the whole garden.

spagetti squash seedling

Fingers crossed!

The squash and cucumbers will have to be de-bugged by hand. But it’s easier than trying to dig cabbage moth larvae out of the center of lettuces.

The luxury of installing a row cover reminded me of growing clay beans in Mexico.

We bought a bagfull of beans you could eat as pods, and they were delicious as dried beans. They tasted like clay; things that taste like the earth are comforting when you’re a farmer.

We planted about a quarter of an acre. They were doing well; we had several meals of Marion Cunnihagm’s simple, satisfying Green beans and Potatoes. Providing anything for ourselves was a significant accomplishment. Everything you grow yourself tastes better– even when it doesn’t. I think your heart grows tastes buds when you’re a farmer.

One day, I picked clay beans. To my horror, I found they were inundated with aphids. Not, just a few. The plants were coated with them. They had their rotten armored friends, the ants, backing them up. I’m sorry, but I hate ants. Ants and Termites are the bain of my existence in Nicaragua.

Within two days, my vision of dry beans put away for winter faded. I rescued what I could of the green pods and tried to avoid the bean plot.

But a few days later I walked by, and the plants looked perkier; I stepped into the bed to investigate and saw hundreds of little speckled alligator larvae. Lady bugs!

I knew what they were because I had murdered a congregation of them in Chicago when they showed up on my hibiscus plant to eat the aphids that infested it.

I thought the plant was weak and overrun, but nature was coming to the rescue. I sprayed tobacco juice on baby ladybugs.  I was heartbroken when I realized my error years later; I mourned them.

When I saw my beans covered in a brigade of ladybug larvae, I fell to the ground and cried. I’m not exaggerating, and I also am not a drama queen. Farming will do this, destroy you, and burst your heart.

The ladybugs didn’t win, but they helped. We had enough dried clay beans for the year for the two of us. Farming will do this too, make it ok to have just enough and to share with nature, even if it’s aphids and ants.

Does anyone care to share gardening sorrow, victory, or both? Your stories inspire me.

I’ve been a pro-writer for over a week now. It’s awesome! The company is excellent, and I love my editor. This new world of working online is perfect for me. You can check out what I’m doing over there if you’re interested. You can click here to see my writer bio, and if you scroll to the bottom, there’s a list of my articles. Let me know what you think of the headshot…some like it, others (me) not so much.


Circles and Vessels

Full moon morning. 6am, Las Lajas NIcaragua

Sometimes things show up the opposite of where we think they should.

Wind Writing

And we have to look closely to understand how they got there. 

Mushroom Bowls

There is tenderness everywhere. How gently the fungus cradle the leaves.

Burrowing spiders make fences of flowers.

I am observing circles and the stories they tell.

Banana Bowl

Banana Bowl

How the elements hold each other.

Random guy with sunset

Both random and profound.


This month I have been writing a book. And my internet provider awaits new equipment lulling in customs, so my internet is glitchy. The above is a picture story of my days as I prepare to publish a book for the first time!

It will be available here soon 😉

Changing Careers After 50

Me, on the beach, 55 years old, learning new things every day.

If you have been here a while you know I posted regularly from 2012 to 2015. Then I pretty much went dark. I was involved in other things, though I missed writing and it disturbed me that I wasn’t. But, my wise mother the painter, told me not to worry, I would get back to it. She has spent years away from her easel and always returns.

When the project I spearheaded wrapped up in October( click here to check it out; I’m proud of it) I knew it was time to return to writing, and it’s how I wanted to make my living. It was a big, scary decision.

I started studying how to start a freelance writing business. I learned a lot from Jorden Roper. I like her badass brand, focus, instructions on niching down, and cold emailing. I’m also grateful to Elna Cain.  She has a broad perspective and is exceptionally generous with her knowledge. Their material led me to SOOOOOO many tools and options I was in a state of overwhelm. Not their fault, they both have great programs I highly recommend. But, I’d been away from technology for a long time and didn’t know much when I was writing VSVEVG before. I am blown away by the resources available for entrepreneurs online. Most all have free options!

I had to learn to build a website and negotiate many new things, there was more than one day of weeping on my laptop. At 55, I felt like maybe it was just too much to learn, maybe my synapsis would never snap fast enough. But, that was bullshit. Every day it all gets a little clearer, and it’s fun! It feels great to learn like this again.

Some of the new tools in my belt:

I use lofi girl for my focus music. Maybe focus music doesn’t seem that important, but it has helped my ability to work solo immensely. I’ve never been able to listen to music while I write, and have always had a hard time focusing. But, Lofi works for me. I don’t notice every shiny thing nearly as much.

I use Grammarly. I debated whether it was cheating as a writer. I asked the google gods and mostly got a positive response unless you are a fiction writer, or in some people’s minds a ¨real writer¨. But, since I wasn’t concerned about whether anyone thought I was real or not, I went for it. It’s great, it has cut down on my editing time and I’m reminded of ¨the rules¨ I tend to ignore, sometimes they’re better.

Also: this is so freaking cool. Ask the Public. If you have any interest in how people look at the internet this is fascinating. I used it to create an SEO-optimized (yes, I say things like that now) title for this post. It’s not as catchy, as my titles usually are, but hopefully will reach more readers. There are many keyword search tools, but I like the way this one is organized. It’s more visually appealing and has a lot to offer for free, 3 searches a day, youtube tutorials, and free SEO classes via email.

Canva is a user-friendly design tool. I used it for my new business logo. Whadda ya think?

Deciding to post on vsvevg every day in February is a part of the process of building my freelance writing business. I flex my writing muscles, meet deadlines. It feels great, even when I woke up this morning with no idea what to write about. Of, course I didn’t plan the 28 articles I would need in advance. Kind of like when I did Napowritmo, but these posts have to make sense.

What cool tech tools do you use? Have you ever been away from something for a long time, returned, and had to do a lot of catch-up? What was your journey like? You know I love hearing from you.

I have a request for my friends reading from Facebook.  Please hit the follow button if you haven’t already, it would be really helpful, thank you in advance. Likes help too!

Hasta Mañana!

The Artist’s Life

Graffiti Mexico City

Graffiti Mexico City

I am coming up on the second anniversary of writing VSVEVG. It’s prompted me to consider why I started this blog and why I continue to write it. The explanation on my about page is accurate but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

I am a writer and I write this blog to get my words to people. I decided to write about my life because it’s a little out of the ordinary ,and I figured the last thing we needed was another blog about writing. But I do read a lot of blogs about writing.

Writers often write about how hard the artist’s life is. The trials of solitude, the sacrifices that must be made to maintain a consistent practice, the self-doubt…there’s a big list. Certainly I won’t disagree it’s hard to write well, and I am well familiar with the isolation and the insecurities inherent, and I believe necessary for an artist’s life.

But when I read about how difficult the artist’s path is I think of the time in my life I was constantly anxious because I hadn’t yet connected to my true self, the one who sits down every day and grapples with ideas and beliefs and tries to share them with the world through words. This person. The one willing to live without comforts to have the time to step into that flow– that contest every day.  

The truth is, if you are a person who lives with this burning, inescapable quest in your gut (Confucius believed the mind resided in the belly) then you are one of the lucky ones.  Because we know our purpose and that it has meaning– like we know the lines of our own face.  This is a gift in a world of triviality and distraction, regardless of the hardships.

VSVEVG has rewarded me greatly. I am a far better writer from meeting its demands. I’ve made friends I’ll have for a lifetime, gained patrons, received support from strangers I may never hear from again. It’s miraculous to me, really.

I’m not sure what direction VSVEVG will take in its third year. There will still be poetry, stories of La Tigra, Felipe updates, recitation and the recipes I’ve promised, but perhaps with a new bent.  I’m still mulling it over. What do I know is, I’ll be here, tapping out my truth, grateful to you for reading, commenting, liking and sharing.

Happy anniversary VSVEVG.  Many thanks to WordPress for making it all possible.

© 2013 Abby Smith, Writer

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