an addition to my ancient pottery series. (link, link, link)
analyzing food remains on the inside of ancient pottery discovered that 6000
years ago humans seasoned their food with mustard seeds (article). From other
food remains in the pottery shards, they can tell that the mustard was added to
meat from land animals and marine life as well as starchy plants. Mustard is
not a significant source of calories or nutrients, so the seeds were probably a
flavor enhancer. Previously, the earliest known use of seasoning was 4500 years
ago in Northern India where turmeric and ginger were used.
actual mustard can be found in the pottery after 6000 years. Scientists studied phytoliths, silica
crystals that remain when plants decay, and determined the phytoliths are
characteristic of mustard plants.
week, I blogged about my protagonist’s decision making process. I noted the
passages that referred to the decision and assigned them a numerical ranking
ranging from -10 = pretending the problem doesn’t exist to +10 = sealing the
bargain. That means, the lower the number, the more negative my protagonist is, and the higher the number, the more positive she is. Today, I graphed the numerical ranking vs. line number. Deciding to
embark on the hero’s journey was neither straightforward nor easy.
my numerical analyses make some you crazy, here’s Herbie Mann covering If(a Picture Paints a Thousand Words) by
are tough, especially for protagonists who are faced with embarking on the
hero’s journey. My main character is no different. A recent critique of my
novel mentioned my protagonist’s inner debate was too short.
revising, I created a table to track my main character’s state of mind. I copied
every passage that dealt directly this decision and pasted the quote into my
table along with the chapter and page. Then I invented a scoring scale to
monitor her feelings about the decision.
= neutral -4
= avoidance -7
= saying no outright -10
= pretending the problem never existed +4
= waffling, but in a positive way +7
= saying yes out loud +10
= sealing the bargain.
course some passages fell between these markers.
learned she spends over 1000 words considering the problem. (I’m still waffling
about whether this is enough.) Originally, her decision was postponed twice by
interruptions. (I got rid of one interruption to reduce scene similarity.) The table allows
me to see how she makes up her mind. Often it’s one step forward, two steps
back. Perhaps that’s normal, or maybe she’s doing the cha-cha.
was replacing guitar strings in the basement when a mouse ran across his guitar
case and disappeared. When Jeremy came upstairs to tell me about it, I reminded him
that his father is the mouse-control parent. Living in the woods as we do, discovering
a mouse in the house is not uncommon. My husband catches them in Havaheart
traps then releases them many miles from here, first providing a muffin for the
mouse’s first meal away from home.
the guitar strings were replaced and Jeremy started practicing, the mouse came
out again. At first, the little creature panicked and ran straight into Jeremy’s
foot. After a while, the mouse got used to the music and sat listening. The
mouse did not toss a sunflower seed into the guitar case and make a request,
although that might happen at any time.
know this isn’t a plot. There isn’t a problem. The mouse doesn’t try three
times to solve it.
backyard has no lawn whatsoever. Thanks to our giant oaks and a medley
of smaller trees, there isn’t enough sunlight to support grass. I like it that
way. Recently I’ve embarked on a project to create a woodland environment of
ferns, brunnera, lily of the valley, astilbe, rhododendron, etc.
do have a lawn in the front, but it suffers. Tannic acid from fallen oak leaves
and acorns make the ground acidic, and lawns prefer a basic environment. Our
large maple, with its abundant surface roots, steals water and nutrients from
the surrounding grass. I’ve been threatening to take out the front lawn too.
This article presents a convincing argument and beautiful alternatives to