Outdoor Dining – a WIPpet/ROW80 post


Another Wednesday and, as always, I’m stuck for a title for my post.  Starting out never works well for me.  (It’s the usual reason I end up being late with my posts.)  I almost always have enough inspiration to follow through on an idea, but picking one–just one–well….

So…  maybe (especially since it’ll fit into my ROW80 check-in ), I’ll begin with my morning.  I went on a field trip with my son’s school.

It’s not a big deal field trip.  His school goes on field trips every week to nature preserves.  Today we harvested black walnuts and horsetails, wild grapes…  mint and garlic mustard were plenty, but we only sampled those.

So YES!  I have kept up with my ROW80 Fitness goals.  In fact…  I’ve gone for at least a mile of walking every single day since last Friday, and most days, I’ve made it for three times that.

And all these nature walks have also helped me return somewhat to my own roots.  Back in my childhood, Grandma and Grandpa’s farm was right next to a nature center, and I spent day after day in the summer walking through the woods and learning about various nature plants via field guides.  I even went to college for a Biology and Forestry.

Acorns of Sessile Oak. The acorn, or oak nut, ...But I’m a bit rusty with my taxonomy.  And so…  RESEARCH!  Yep…  I’ve had a great time looking through info on native plants that could be used for food (there’s a story related reason for this…  in the Swan Song series, I have characters in situations where someone needs to know this sort of information).  On the Eat the Weeds site, I found a great  article on acorns, and yesterday I harvested a bunch of white oak acorns for experimenting with (that “Newtella” acorn spread looks delicious).

As for the rest of my ROW80 goals progress?  Mostly I’ve done in-depth character sketches for Swan Song.  I don’t like the idea of having eeeeevil antagonists.  The classic “bad guy” just doesn’t work for me.  I want my heroes to break up homes, my bad guys to save puppies from burning houses….  and I want everyone who reads the books to root for the protagonists and hope the antagonists “get theirs”.

I don’t ask for much, do I?

And on that note, let’s head on to the third book of the Swan Song series (I know!  I still don’t have a good name for it yet; good thing it’s the third book) for a October 16th ….


wippetwednesday_zps53e803c0Welcome back to Vissellii and ‘Listii’s story.  Yes, I said I would be covering Alanii’s story (Courting the Swan Song) for the time being until I finish (hopefully) by the end of  November’s NaNoWriMo.  But given that native foods seem to be part of today’s topic, I detoured for a moment to spend some time with two of my favorite characters.

I didn’t play too much with the WIPpet maths today.  Just sixteen sentences to match today’s date.

The meeting had been pleasant enough. ‘Listii had been relaxing by their small camp after a morning of hunting. He’d proven to be a very creative and skilled cook. Some of the food had been strange, the little ground nuts that he’d dug up and put into their oat mash, but those had proved delightfully tasty, adding a crunch to their porridge that she’d already acquired a craving for. His hunting skills were far beyond her own, and they had a surfeit of meat, some of which the man had taken to drying out on small wood frames, the rest of which he’d coated in rich fat to store for later.

Where had he learn all of this she’d wondered. He wasn’t giving her any answers now. After that incident last night, he’d close to, but not completely withdrawn back into himself. It was as well, since Visellii was not sure she was ready to deal with the idea that the man was …well, a man, a man in his prime and one with same urges and needs of any other man. Or that, in the heat of his dreams and need for his lost beloved, he’d mistaken her for Atara.

And though perhaps they could have moved from that awkwardness with some discussion, that he had insisted that he’d sensed his ‘tianiel was too much. He was quite mad.

Though now, she reconsidered her opinion. It was not as if she’d ever seen the young girl’s body laid in state. As far as she’d heard the girl and her mother had been attacked by Wanderers on a pilgrimage to the desert. No bodies…

As always, a ginormous “Thank You” to K.L. Schwengel at My Random Muse for her hosting of WIPpet Wednesdays where writers post pieces of a draft (Work In Progress) that somehow relate with the date for commentary and consideration.  Feel free to visit other #WIPpeteers at the linky.  Company, comments…  even gentle (or not-so gentle) critiques are always welcome.

English: Yellow nutsedge, common North America...In case you’re curious…  those little ground nuts that ‘Listii found for their porridge are the corms of nutsedge. a generally disliked weed-grass.  It infested our yard for a while, and so I figured I’d try the nuts since they destroyed our garden.  YUMMY!

Photo credits:

  • Acorns of Sessile Oak. The acorn, or oak nut, is the nut of the oaks and their close relatives (genera Quercus and Lithocarpus, in the family Fagaceae). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • English: Yellow nutsedge, common North American lawn weed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

23 responses to “Outdoor Dining – a WIPpet/ROW80 post

  1. Fascinating stuff about acorns and nutsedge, Eden. I read a book by Jared Diamond whose title I cannot recall (still muzzy-headed) about domestication of various edibles, where he mentioned acorns have never been domesticated.

    It adds so much depth to your WIP.


    • I love stuff like this, Elizabeth. It’s similar to some discussions about making up languages. Even if specific details aren’t used, only alluded to, in a story, the act of exploring these parts of society and culture adds depth. Just considering the types of foods available to a society is a lot of worldbuilding… After all, having people who ate fish daily in a desert region says a lot about either the characters or the author–and we want it to be about the characters, not ourselves.

      Asa for domestication of oaks… technically I don’t think the oaks really needed must domestication–they’re everywhere. However, the Live Oak has been somewhat domesticated because it was farmed for the wood. Many of the US ironclad class ships were made of it, and the US Navy actually maintained farms of it. When the project to rebuild the USS Constitution was begun, a whole new farm of Live Oaks was begun so the ship could be made of the same materials as the original vessel.


  2. Interesting. I’ve worked with disabled adults before, so i know what kind of challenges some of them face, but adding the depth of a lost beloved is a very nice touch. I’d like to know how his girlfriend dealt with his quirks or if something happened after she disappeared to cause his problems.


    • I have this horrid feeling that ‘Listii’s going to be a huge disappointment for you, ReGi. He’s not so much disabled as afflicted or stricken. His family views his situation as a disability and it is, in the sense of its affect on him, but he can be cured. The same could not be said for most people with a disability.

      I do like that you see some depth and layers in his story though. Thanks.


  3. All I can think of when you’re talking about your walking is Ellen DeGeneres’ joke “My grandmother started jogging two miles every day. It’s been two weeks and we have no idea where she is.” (I’m not sure about the numbers, but you get the idea.) Glad that’s going well for you.


    • Walking is a good way to easy the body back into activity, John, and I need to get back into being more active with a vengeance. But jogging? Not for me, thank you. I’ll go for all out runs well before I’ll jog. The jogging motion is incredibly painful on my shins (and would certainly add to more “sag” than I want–hard to find good sports bras in my size).

      Don’t mind me… I’ll walk instead. 😉


      • Unless you’ve been running or jogging since you were in your 20’s, you can really hurt yourself, anyway. Even then… I know a woman who’s my age and she’s given up running because her joints are giving her trouble. Most doctors will tell you that a walk does just as much for you as a run. Stick with the walking…


  4. I am incapable of writing truly evil characters. I want all my characters to have a combo pack of good and bad qualities, but I want the reader to be able to identify with the good, the bad, and the ugly.


  5. I know I’ve read this bit before, but somehow, the addition of the food research brought it more to life.

    Or maybe it was ‘Listii. Cause I love ‘Listii. =)

    I remember the nature center,and many years of you knowing so very much about plants….you blow my mind, that way, and always have, even when we were sneaking around in wild places we weren’t supposed to be. (Qui, NOUS?!)

    How very cool that M’s school does that. I’d love to learn more, and the kids might, too, especially the young naturalist of the house….

    And, since there’s a LOT of hunting and gathering going on in my Weft stories, I might be wanting to pick your brain….over coffee, or while we sweat, preferably.

    I don’t have “bad guys” anymore. I don’t believe that anyone is a monster, so my characters are just who they are. Some are wounded or desperate enough to do terrible things – but, often, so are my heroes. Usually, it comes down to intent and accountability…or a matter of degree or POV.

    And no one is utterly irredeemable….although sometimes, the redemption comes posthumously…

    I’m in the midst of my in depth sketches, too, and am learning some, uh, well – fascinating bits I didn’t know before.

    My immersion in the T’Pol trellium story arc, which Jim finally watched with me, may or may not have stirred up a whole mess of ideas and images….

    Hope to see you Tuesday!


    • My brain is here for the picking… Unfortunately, it’s not going to be ready this Tuesday. We’re having some scheduling issues with M’s fencing class and the husband who doesn’t seem to get why I asked to change the time of said class to another day than the middle of the afternoon on Monday (the only thing that day, so it effectively messed up every money for months before I asked if I could change it…)

      Anyway, hubby won’t bring M to his class, which means I’ve got to be in South Westerlo by 5:15 in the afternoon each Tuesday unless I cancel a week. 😦 I probably will on occasion. Just not this week, since it’s short notice for his teacher, and M has been excited about his practice (he says he has some moves he needs to show Coach).

      Hopefully both M and I will see you and the kids on Thursday for a Y visit (we’ll certainly be done before The Big Bang Theory since we’ll need to get down to pick up D from work around 7pm.

      Back to story stuff though… I agree. There really aren’t any “bad guys”. There are just conflicting needs and goals on the parts of one party or another. It’s just a matter of focus and phrasing that allow us as writers to create the illusion that one character is worth rooting for as opposed to another…

      Nettles… If your Weft series is in the British Isles, nettles are vital parts of that land’s history. Research the use of nettles in British history. Oh, and raw rock prawns of you have characters near the coast. Dandelion and burdock root… It makes a fizzy fermented beverage that was commonly drank next to small beers. Ginger root (which is a more modern addition to the drink making it a lot like ginger ale) was available in England by the 14th Century, but it was an insanely expensive import (1 pound ginger cost 1 sheep) so your characters might not have it.

      I know about those character sketches… You know a character who is becoming more and more fascinating to me? Ytramli. I mean, I like ‘Listii (even if he is a spoiled brat), but Ytramli is… fascinating.



  6. I love that you tied in the natural foodstuffs. I’m always curious about plants growing around and what can be made from what. This is a great scene, especially when she starts thinking of the attraction . . .


    • Oh, that’s just me being me, Kathi. I try to never let the odd trivia I grew up with go to waste. So if I can’t use it for my own daily life, I’ll certainly try to find a way to use it in a story.

      As for attraction… well, it’s not that she’s actually attracted to her brother. She’s just suddenly realizing that’s he not the mentally absent, more-helpless than an infant creature she thought he was. As for the “incident”… Well, that was an accident that neither of them wanted. Just Vissellii’s reaction to it was worse than Valistii’s.


  7. Good work on keeping up on your fitness Row80 goals. Fitness seems especially hard this time of the year. I’d much rather sit and eat ice cream. 😉

    How curious. I’ve never even heard of nutsedge. I’ll have to read more about it.


    • Huh! I always have better luck getting active in the Spring and Fall than Summer or Winter (Summer’s too hot, Winter’s too cold… I’m too busy, too fussy…). Thanks, Jae.

      A lot of places will say to destroy all the nutsedge you find with blazing fire… It is pretty vicious stuff as far as plants go (I’ve seen the blades of the “grass” grow up through potatoes). But the corms are yummy. I used them in a pilaf with rice and in oatmeal. I haven’t tried the smoothie idea yet. If I do, I’ll let you know how it turns out.


  8. great link to eat weeds – it’s an area of research for me as well here in UK – walks sound interesting better than pounding the pavements around here anyway:) all the best with your goals


    • Oh, I don’t know… Pounding the pavement can be interesting too. Last week I found a ginko biloba dropping fruit in Troy and almost did my imitation of some elderly Chinese women I’d met in NYC once gathering up the fruit. And we have lots of oak trees in town parks around here…

      Not to mention, I love studying people and architecture. Well, you know how it is, Alberta. If one is curious, one can always find out something new about even the most familiar things.