Clayfield Soundtrack

z15Sometimes I think about how cool it would be to see a movie based on one of The King of Clayfield books.  I have a clear picture about locations for shooting, but I  don’t have any ideas for actors in the roles except that I would LOVE to be an extra (a zombie, of course).
As far as the soundtrack goes, I mentioned a few songs in the books. Some people have suggested additional songs to me too. I probably won’t remember all of the suggestions, but here’s a list of everything from the books, plus some others that I think about when I envision certain scenes.
FROM THE BOOKS (I hope I remember all of them)
“El Paso” by Marty Robbins
“Cathy’s Clown” by the Everly Brothers
“Right Round” by Flo Rida
“Red Red Wine” by Neil Diamond
“Heart-Shaped Box” by Nirvana
“Hummingbird” by Leon Russell
“Stranger in a Strange Land” by Leon Russell

ADDITIONAL
These are songs that were suggested to me by readers. I  think these would be great in a Clayfield movie. There are certain scenes where these would fit so well.
“Blue Blood Blues” by The Dead Weather
“Terraplane Blues” by Foghat
“Hope There’s Someone” by Antony and the Johnsons
“You Stay Here” by Willy Porter
“In Spite of Ourselves” by John Prine

I would love to hear from anyone that has other ideas.

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Weed Eater

dandel08-lOne of my goals each year is to positively identify and regularly eat at least one new-to-me wild plants from my property. I have been doing this for past few years. Every spring, I dig out my Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants  and watch the Eat the Weeds series on You Tube. So far, I have eaten curly dock, wild garlic,  plantain (both the American and European kinds), sow thistle, white clover, lamb’s quarters, May apples, rose hips, and dandelion. So, I have reached my goal, but only partially, since I only eat two on a regular basis: plantain and dandelion (perhaps, the more accurate thing to say is I consume them, usually putting them in smoothies and drinking them). Dandelion is bitter and I find plantain’s taste to be similar to mushrooms. Of course, the plantain to which I  refer is not the kind that resembles a banana; it is the close-to-the-ground greens the Native Americans referred to as the “white man’s footprint.”

ADVENTURE STORIES FROM CHILDHOOD
I have been interested in wild edibles since I was a little boy and we first studied Native Americans in school. Also, while I never got to join the Boy Scouts, I did have an old, used copy of the Scouting manual, which I carried with me and read all the time and which further fueled my interest in trying wild plants and the idea of wilderness survival. I also loved books like Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, My Side of the Mountain, and Huckleberry Finn. But when I was a kid, I was an extremely finicky eater, and most of the wild plants (and tame plants) I tried, I didn’t like. Even though I spent a lot of time in the woods, my interest never went beyond the reading stage.
But it is one thing to read about and know about a thing, and another to experience it.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Phytolacca_americanaA few years ago, someone from here in west Kentucky was telling me how during the Great Depression, had it not been for poke sallet, their grandparents would have starved. I took away a few things from this story: 1. Learn about growing a vegetable garden. 2. Learn how to preserve the food from that garden. 3. Learn about edible wild plants so that poke sallet is not the only option.
I mean no disrespect to these grandparents, but there was likely abundance all around them, and all they saw was poke sallet because that was all they knew to look for. It was their ignorance that had them eating poke weed at every meal. Since I renewed my interest in wild edibles, I see potential food every time I walk out the door. It is lavish and abundant to the point of waste. True, the whole “feast or famine” argument applies, but these plants are available at the same time as poke weed.

FREE AND NUTRITIOUS FOOD
I won’t pretend that all of these plants taste good. After all, there must be a reason why people don’t eat them very much, and I’m guessing the reason is flavor. But these plants don’t have to be a main course or even the main ingredient. Use them as filler in soups or salads. As I mentioned before, I’ve been putting them in my morning breakfast smoothie. They are free and most of them nutritious. Some of them are extremely nutritious.

WANT TO OVER HAVE TO
When it comes to gardening, raising chickens, making my own wine and vinegar, nibbling on wild plants, or any of these types of things, I do them because I want to, not because I have to. I never want to have to. I like donuts and coffee and bananas and lots of other food that I have to buy from the store.
I’m not sure most people realize (I’m not even sure I realize) what it takes to completely live off the land. I know some people who come close to doing it. Their gardens are huge and they practically live in them so they can live from them. They have lots of chickens, and they hunt wild game. But they still have to go to the store from time to time. My small garden and five chickens could not sustain me and my family. I have enough land to make it work, but not in its present state. Right now, what I have is a nice supplement that lowers my grocery bill. I see the edible weeds as great bonus without the work, but I would never want to have to live off of any of these plants.
But, God forbid, I did have to completely live off the land, I would want a little more variety in my diet than poke weed.

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Shane’s Survival Selection: Sweet Potato

 If someone told me that I would be stranded on a deserted island, and I could only take one vegetable with me to plant for my survival, I would take the sweet potato. The sweet potato is not my favorite garden vegetable, but I think it is the most important vegetable in my garden.
It has this perfect combination of excellent nutrition, long storage life, and ease of growing. It ranks in the top ten most nutritious vegetables, and without processing of any kind, I can store my sweet potatoes in a cardboard box in my kitchen for almost a year. Plus, once you get one started producing slips (the sprouts), it will continue to produce slips for months. It is conceivable that a single potato could produce scores, if not hundreds of new sweet potato plants.
I thought I’d use this post to show how to grow this important vegetable–it is exactly the way my grandfather taught me years ago. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can plant these indoors. They make excellent indoor plants. They are viney, and they have beautiful foliage. We had one planted in our salamander’s terrarium (see the picture).
sweets1

 

GROWING THE SLIPS

1. In early April, get a sweet potato, or uses some of the smaller potatoes left over from the previous year.
2. Slice the potato lengthwise. This isn’t necessary, it just keeps it from rolling around.
3. Place the two halves flat side down in a shallow tray of wet sand or gravel. I usually use those aluminum pie pans that pre-made pie crusts come in. Instead of sand, you can also use soil, but really all we need here is something to hold the water and stay damp without sitting the potato in a puddle of water where it might rot, and you don’t want other stuff growing in the soil.
4. Put the whole thing in a plastic bag, tie it off and put it somewhere dark and warm like on top of the refrigerator or over the water heater. Within a couple of weeks the sprouts should start.
sweets5
5.
 When they are two or three inches long, remove the tray from the bag, move it to a sunny window sill, and remember to keep the sand or soil wet.
6. Within a couple of weeks, after moving them to the window, they will be tall and leafy enough to put in the garden. Timing is important here, because sweet potatoes like to be warm, and they will die if exposed to frost. Here in west Kentucky, I usually wait until the third or fourth week of May before I put mine in the garden. sweets6

 


PLANTING THE SLIPS

1. When the slips are ready, just break them off of the potato. Sometimes they will have roots attached, but they don’t need them.

sweets2

Here is a picture of two different slips I broke of the same potato (you will notice I used soil). sweets3


2. Prepare the ground. What I like to do is dig a hole, about the size of a gallon, then refill the hole with potting soil or a mixture of soil and compost, because sweet potatoes grow better in loose soil. Also, in the fall when I harvest them, it is so much easier to get them out of the ground if the soil is loose.
3. Next, just stick the slips in the ground and water them.sweets4
Here’s what is going to happen: They will wilt and probably stay wilted for a couple of days. You will think they are dead. DO NOT PULL THEM UP! I promise, they will recover. Just make sure you keep them watered every day during this time. Once they come out of it, they’ll be unstoppable. As they grow, they will do better when you water them, but they will grow in drought too.
One thing I love about sweet potatoes is how fast the vines grow. They eventually cover the ground in my garden and smother out much of the weeds.

HARVESTING THE SWEET POTATOES

1. The morning of the first hard frost is harvest time. A hard frost will kill the vines every time, and the leaves will wilt and turn black.
2. The best way to dig them up is with a pitchfork, but if the ground is loose enough, you should be able to just pull them out of the ground by the vine. One vine can produce several potatoes. In my experience, I’ll get one or two medium to large potatoes per vine, and the rest might be about the size of my finger.
BE GENTLE! Sweet potato skins are thin and fragile, so be as careful as you can. If you take the skin off one, if should heal up okay, but avoid it if possible.
3. Cure the potatoes. Once they are out of the ground, put them in a warm place and cover them with a damp towel for a few days. Some people put them near the furnace. I put them in my warm greenhouse. They need warmth and humidity during this time.
4. Store them. Next, I wrap them individually in newspaper to protect them and store them in a cardboard box in the kitchen.
5. Eat on them all year.

 

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Clayfield Cliffhangers

I want to assure anyone who happens to visit this blog that I will do my best to keep out any spoilers for my books both in the blog posts and comments section. I personally hate spoilers. I don’t even like to watch movie trailers, because they reveal too much. Some of my blog posts will discuss my books, but not all. When I do discuss my books, I will do so in general terms.
I had a regular blog a couple of years ago, and it was hacked and destroyed. I don’t know if I will be as active on this one as I was back then.
Now, to the post….

zombie5Initially, I had no plans to make The King of Clayfield into a series. I wrote the first book so it could stand alone. I have read some reviews of the first book that mention a cliffhanger ending, but I’m not sure why they would think that except that the narrator is telling the story eight months later. I thought the ending of the first book was adequate and final enough. While there was no resolution to the zombie situation, I didn’t feel like I’d left any wild loose ends. The zombies weren’t really the main focus of the story anyway. Also, since the story is in first person, you have to accept that there are some things the narrator just does not know.

I will agree that the second book had a “cliffhanger” ending, but only in the sense that there was more story to tell. As the word count climbed on the second book, I realized the story would not be resolved. At first, I did try to include the first few chapters of what would be the third book with the second, but no matter where I cut it off, it would leave the reader with questions. So I made the decision to leave Sara’s situation unanswered. I understand why some would readers dislike that, but sometimes the story that comes after the story just won’t fit and must be given its own room. I did try end the second book in such a way that it wouldn’t feel abrupt.

I do not intend to write a fourth Clayfield book, but I will never say never. I ended the third book in such a way that the series could be over. If I do come back to it, I will probably set the story further into the future rather than pick up where I left off. I think writing a story set in a world after the zombies waste away would be interesting.

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