Category Archives: dogs!

All Quiet on the Western Maryland Front

And that’s just how I like it.

It’s been a good week here, a routine week–my favorite kind. Work, workouts, dogs, my favorite teenage boy after school. And the weather’s holding onto summer just a little longer.
Since my man took off for a week at the beach, and I stayed home, it’s been a week without cooking.
I made myself a list for the weekend, including some domestic stuff. Not a lot there as–sorry guys–men are messy. The house has stayed in order this week, so that item didn’t go on the list. Since it didn’t I took a couple hours to work instead, got the workout in after that, then started harvesting herbs.
I have four ice cube trays of chopped oregano in the freezer. I’ll pop them out, bag them today, then move on to basil–and rosemary if that fits my day.
My garden may be winding down, but I still had the pleasure of wandering out, cutting hydrangeas, and some this and that. My lovely editor sent me flowers last week, and as they’d faded some by Saturday, I culled out what could be culled, added those this and thats for a pretty little spot of color.
Hydrangea!
On display.

It’s nice to wake up to flowers, a clean kitchen counter, and snoring dogs.

Most mornings, Atticus comes up to my office when he’s ready to go out. He doesn’t much like to go out without Parker unless it’s an emergency. Getting Parker up in the morning is like dragging a teenage boy out of bed.
Five more minutes, Mom!
I start off cheerful. Let’s go, let’s go! Give him a pet–Come on, let’s go out. He’ll roll over, curl up. Every morning, same deal. I’ve found the only way to deal with it is to grab the end of his dog bed, haul up (he’s all muscle!) and roll him out. Then he yawns, stretches–all this while Atticus is dancing around. Gets up, stretches, stretches, takes a couple steps, stretches–and if I walk out expecting him to follow, he’ll try to sneak right back onto the dog bed.
When BW’s here, and gets the dogs up, I hear him go through the same routine. I imagine my voice mirrors the rising exasperation in his.
So we’ve done that today, and I had my hour or so up here to check on the world before feeding time.
Pancho is now pretty much completely deaf so he no longer hears my whistle. You can hear my whistle at least a quarter mile away–ask my boys. The other two come running like maniacs, but in the past couple months, either BW or I have to go around to the front of the house and the dog hut where Pancho spends most of his time sleeping. Wake him up–he’s always a little startled–then he’ll lumber around to the back of the house behind me.
Today Parker’s feeling frisky, so as we walk around, he charges Atticus. They jump, wrestle, leap on each other, growl and dance and carry on. Then in their wild joy ram straight into me. I repeat, Parker’s all muscle. And Atticus? To paraphrase the bard: He may be but little, but he is fierce.
They nearly took me down.
Anyway, that’s done.
Dogs! Atticus, Parker and Pancho.
I’m going to work for a bit, get in that workout, do the herbs. Then my weekend list is all checked off. (Routine–we hope–dentist visit in the morning, but I’m not thinking about that today.) I should have time to spend a little of a quiet Sunday with a book.
Before the dogs got going, at some trembling moment before full dawn, I looked out my office window. The sun must have been at some perfect point of rise because while the sky was more dark than light, it shot sparkles through my woods. It looked like faerie lights glimmering.
I figure with that start to the day it’s going to be a good one.
Nora

Summer

I’m always torn when the summer solstice arrives. Litha celebrates the brilliance of that longest day, that peak of power and light even as the days after are just a little shorter one by one. So I think we have to appreciate what the full-on summer and that light offer while we have them.

A lot of that, for me, comes from the garden. I spend some time every day I can in that light, with the flowers whether it’s working with them or just admiring.

This past week was–happily–butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard. A brief detour to the dentist for the permanent crown to replace the one that cracked. I had an 8:20 am appointment, got there at 8:15, and was back in my car heading home at 8:35.

You don’t get better than that.

Every day last week after work and workout, I chose a snack out of proteinpromos massive list of ideas high in protein and then took a little walk around with the dogs. Sunshine and flowers–add a glass of wine on the walk, dogs trotting along and that’s a perfect end of the work day for me.

This week, if nothing gets in the way, looks to offer the same.

Ah, summertime.

Yesterday, no work but workout, then gardening gloves and pruners.

Here’s what I saw along the way.

Purple cone flowers starting to pop among the green, green, green.


Begonias flourishing–and what’s left of some nasturtium after cabbage loopers attacked making a gradual comeback.


Monarda, vivid and feathery.


Thriving pots–even most of the ones you see Parker (and it turns out it is primarily Parker) digs in.


Whiskey barrel of coleus and sweet potato plants.


Mystery perennial. Bookstore Janeen gave me a pot of ONE of these from her yard last summer, and didn’t know the name. These sunny pretties have spread like mad. Anybody know what they are?


Snapdragons, lobelia, nasturtiums, basil, lavender, with cardinal flowers and Black-Eyes Susans almost ready to bloom.


My happy little faerie garden, or most of it. Some Solomon Seal and a bleeding heart already bloomed off, ageratum, mini fuchsia, dragon wing begonia. The sweet alyssum in the front doesn’t seem to love it there. I’ll try something else next year.


But a very happy barrel of impatiens.


One of my gardening companions.


More thriving pots on the lower patio.


And tomatoes on the vine, with pepper plants coming right along.


I didn’t think to take a picture of the hydrangeas, but since I didn’t walk back in empty handed, we have a pretty little harvest in the very cool vase Laura gave me.

After my morning workout, I think I’ll grab some clippers and cut more flowers on my walk around with the dogs.

Flowers, inside and out, make summer for me as much as long, sunny days.

Enjoy the light.

Nora

At Home

It’s my first full weekend home in about a month, and I’m very happy to be here.

Yesterday, in the middle of May, I turned the fireplace on and made soup–such was the chilly, rainy Saturday. But I like making soup (potato and ham at Kat’s request), and the fire added cheer.

I also had to address the matter of dealing with an incredible amount of stuff that needed putting away. This is a usual weekend task, but due to losing weekends, going here and there, coming back with more than I left with, the amount of stuff grew, grew, grew.

Plus I had a photo shoot on Thursday, which means a day of hair and makeup, a prep day of figuring out wardrobe. We had fun with it. Laura tried a little Facebook live, and that added more fun.

It takes a team…
and a lot of physical labor.

But then, all THAT stuff had to be put away, too.

On the other hand as BW, Laura and our helpful Kat, were in Boonsboro at Green Fest helping out, I had many solitary hours to accomplish it all. Plus, Thor and then The Avengers happened to be on TV, and if you’ve got to haul, carry, toss, organize, it might as be with superheroes for company.

The sun came out for about twenty seconds so I had a walk around with the dogs in there.

Adding all this domesticity to my Saturday morning workout meant ending the day with more than 20,000 steps.

Whew. (But I’m catching up with Jason who’s currently kicking my butt in Fitbit standings.)

Before the end of the day, BW and Kat arrive, tired but happy. A long day for all of us, but we have the little salad I made, the soup, and a nice round of fresh sour dough bread. And I get to hang out with my girl awhile.

Sunday’s a whole different ballgame. Once the workout’s in the bag, I can head out to the garden. I need a light jacket, but it’s sunny, at last, at last. I weed. I yell at the dogs when I discover they’ve been up and digging in a part of my beds. Parker and Atticus slink away, as they damn well should.

BW and I stake the tomatoes, and he yells at the dogs when he finds they’ve dug up a drainage pipe.

We recently had one of the guestrooms repainted, which meant everything had to come off the shelves and off the walls. I dealt with the shelf stuff during Saturday chores, so attack the walls. I know not everything that was up’s going back. Some I’m taking outside. I like outdoor art. It’s fun–if a lot more steps–to take a piece around, find where it can go, choose another, do the same.

Picking the spot’s my job. Making it so’s going to be BW’s.

I’m ridiculously happy to have all the damn boxes out of my living room.

And happy to wander, sans jacket now, around the gardens taking pictures. My peonies have started to open, like a Mother’s Day gift. I got my kids an RC car from here.

My mother loved peonies (I pronounce it like she did–Pee-O-Nees), so I think of her when I take a deep sniff.

My faerie garden’s exactly right, roses and yellow flags are starting a show out by the water feature. I have dianthus madly blooming, and much, much more. My poor basil is sad after so much wet, cool weather, but I’m hoping it perks up as the rest of the herbs are doing just fine.

Faerie garden
Water Feature

BW gave me the cute yoga frogs, and the lovely reading girl for Mother’s Day. They look happy where they’re now planted.

Yoga Frogs
Reading girl

My pots (yell at dogs again when I discover they’ve dug out a plant from one) are full and colorful. My clematis is pure glory.

Now, I’m about to go out and point so BW can hang things where I want them, then I believe I’m going to sit around with a book or a movie.

It’s Mother’s Day, after all, and I qualify!

To all moms out there, I hope you have a lovely day, as lovely as a peony opening in the sun.

Nora

 

Long Weekend

I finished a book last week, a brain-frying, complicated book, and decided I deserved a little break. The universe cooperated with excellent weather.

So I took Thursday and Friday away from my office and keyboard, and hit the nursery. With excellent timing added in, BW was able to meet me there allowing me to wander, drink in, and basically gobble up enough plants to fill the bed of his truck. And add even MORE to the cargo space of my SUV.

A truck load.

Oh, the smells, the colors, the textures, the possibilities! And what tremendous fun to haul flats out, start placing pots. Stand back, consider, adjust, add more, move some until, okay, that’s going to work for me.

BW was also able to stand in as my under gardener for most of the day–a sunny, breezy day that decided it wouldn’t be too hot or too cool. It decided it could be perfect.

Five full hours of hauling, placing, considering, digging, planting, more considering, more hauling, and the beds looked so, so happy.

Top that off with a nice, tall glass of champagne and a long walk-about to admire the job.

Friday, it’s time for pots, and I won’t have my under-gardener. But he does have time to haul some of those pots out for me before he’s off to work–and I start the process.

Huh. I have a LOT of pots–but I have a lot of plants earmarked for them. Doesn’t that look sweet! How about hot colors for that one? Won’t that look great when it fills out!

The dogs enjoy having me out for two days running, and I love every second. I skip the gym–again–to get all this done, but like Thursday, I get a serious workout with nearly six hours between pots, and finding little spots for the few things left over, also complement it with a complete thyroid support that accelerate metabolism learn more here. If you happen to miss the gym frequently then you should consider getting an hourglass waist trainer that way you will take care of your body while your doing your daily duties.

And BW comes home with another flat of impatiens, the five more foxglove–and a favorite I hadn’t found–a flat of heliotrope I asked for. Those will wait for Saturday as it’s time for another nice, tall glass of champagne and a walk-about.

We’re having Kat and Jason up for Easter dinner (and a foundation meeting) so Saturday’s also for baking. Let’s have some fresh bread and my mother’s sour cream pound cake. With dough rising, I head outside. BW’s planting the foxglove, so I take the impatiens.

Plant more flowers, play with dogs, go wash up, punch down dough. In and out, out and in. Eggs on the boil for deviling (a crowd favorite).

I still have some gardening left by the time the cake’s in the oven, so I figure out how to set the alarm on my phone–not a complete snap for me as I don’t use alarms–and go back out. I have sunflower seeds to plant, and want to move some of the madly spreading Black-eyed Susans to some bare spots.

When the alarm goes off I’m momentarily puzzled–What is that noise, and why is it coming from my pocket? Oh yeah.

Cake’s done, and my mother would be proud as it looks and smells pretty damn good.

Now it’s definitely time for that nice, tall glass of champagne.

Sunday there are those eggs to devil, a ham to bake, a couple more spots of spring cleaning that got sidetracked with gardening. And here are my kids! Who’ve volunteered to go down the lane to our storage buildings and haul up all the outdoor furniture and put them up on the pallreoler. Nothing like having strong, willing kids–they deserve some deviled eggs.

Atticus is, of course, instantly in love–and it’s mutual.

Potatoes and carrots to herb and roast, a ham to glaze, meeting time. Our boardroom might be the dining room table, and I might be checking the oven or stirring the glaze from time to time, but we get things done, and do good work.

Saute some fresh asparagus, set the table, carve the ham, and let’s eat.

A good day with family, good food, good work–topped off with pound cake, fresh whipped cream and berries.

Kat shows me a picture of the stone double walk-way she’s built on the side of their house. Yes, I said she built. A double stone walk-way. It’s gorgeous. They plan to plant an ornamental cherry in the center–and that will be spectacular.

I’ve got some stone work on my agenda–I said I should just hire her!

She takes the bags of purged shoes and clothes to haul up to the spa (this Saturday!!!) for me as I have a car load of spa girls. Hugs good-bye to end the long, lovely weekend.

Monday, it was back to the office and the keyboard. But the break did me a lot of good in that area, too, as it cleared the tired brain enough for me to work out how to start the next book. I got a decent enough roll on that yesterday, and I’m ready to go back and see what happens next.

But after work, after work-out, I’m going to continue the weekend tradition, pour myself that nice, tall glass and have a walk around the gardens with my dogs.

That’s a good deal.

Nora


Quick notes from the Cranky Publicist:  You’ll learn more about the just-finished book in a while as you won’t see it until the second half of 2018. Patience grasshoppers.

In case you didn’t notice the sneaky mention of Spa Girls, yes, it’s nearly that time of year.  I’d like you all to practice the Stupid Scoreboard mantra on my behalf.  ~Laura

It Must Be Spring

Finally, after the cold, the wet, the gloom, gloom, gloom of the last few months, things are popping and budding and greening. And the air feels different. Not just warmer, but it holds that hopeful lightness that signals spring’s coming.

It must be because I found myself compelled to spend most of my Saturday cleaning–some serious deep cleaning. And it reminded me of my mother diving into her traditional spring cleaning every April.

Like many of her generation she had spring/summer curtains and fall/winter curtains. I have almost no curtains–just window treatments on blinds on bedrooms and the main level bath. But I live in the woods, not suburbia.

I also have no love affair toward Venetian blinds as my mother did. I have a clear picture of her washing those sharp slats in the bathtub. Many, many of them as she had the blinds, the sheers, then the drapes or curtains. Three layers on most of the windows through our pretty big house. While they were down, we’d–whoever she could draft into the task–wash windows. Newspaper and ammonia–maybe Windex. And winter was washed and polished away, the spring/summer curtains–freshly washed and aired–hung.

While I’ve spared myself the chore of kneeling at the side of the tub washing, rinsing, washing, long slats of metal blinds that leave knicks on the knuckles, I did my share of washing, scrubbing, polishing yesterday. And understand completely her great satisfaction of seeing winter dealt with, with rags and buckets and lemon-scented cleaners.

With April, like my mother–and my father–my head and heart turn happily to gardening. Plans for it, imagining it, scouting out what’s popped out bravely as the air and ground warm.

The dogs and I took happy walks around after the scrubbing and polishing, and that provided an even deeper satisfaction for me.

My baby’s breath is a lovely white cloud. The Solomon Seal’s up and spreading. I have lungwort showing happy pink buds, found a little Johnny-Jump-Up volunteering. I hope more join him.  

Atticus and I–along with his pals above–checked out the progress of the peonies. Looking good!!

I can’t remember what this bush is, but I love it’s coming out in that candy pink Easter hue.

And for Easter–early as the kids won’t be around–we dyed and decorated eggs. We had some wacky ones.

I like seeing the young willow we planted last year greening, and my old cherry trees getting ready to explode with blossoms. Since today’s even lovelier than yesterday, I’m going to take advantage, head out into the sunshine with some Milk Bones for the boys.

We’ll see what we can see.  

Nora

Ah, weekends

Sometimes they’re pretty perfect. Or, for me, absolutely close enough when they come after a week of nose-to-the-grindstone writing, then decide to offer in March a day like the bonny month of May. One day only as today is much cooler and just gloomy–but let’s not get greedy.

Atticus and I both wake early as a rule, and this is working out well housebreaking-wise. He does, however, tend to wake with a spate of happy barking, which is a jolt. But still. Up and out, boys, up and out, and let me get some H2O and some caffeine into my system.

Then it’s time for good dogs to have some breakfast while I workout.

The only real item on my Saturday list is baking bread, and since it’s gorgeous out, we leave the back door open. Dogs can come in and out while I mix and knead. Why do they almost always want to be in, and asleep? It’s too pretty for that, so while dough rises, I go out–and so do they. I take a small nap and easily block snoring noise with earplugs or even other noises to sleep even better.

First rising, I throw some sticks and hunt up brave little blooms. periwinkle spreading under fallen leaves, baby’s breath almost ready to riot. Peonies pushing out of the ground so they can bloom when it really is the bonny month.

Go in, punch down dough, reform. Head back out.

Sit is a non-negotiable command for dogs in my world. Atticus has learned this quickly. He’s a bright as well as a happy dog. Parker is, truly, the love of his life. I’m a close second. They sit nicely for a photo while Pancho–back in the Donut yet again–photobombs.

Pancho’s fine with the new guy, but the only time Pancho moves at anything but a meander is when you throw a ball. A thrown ball, and he’s–donut included–lightning. But he doesn’t play manically with Atticus as Parker does. I dig up three balls, throw them. If Pancho could’ve gotten all three in his mouth at once, he would have. He did manage two a few times.

I introduced the rope last weekend and watched Parker and Atticus go wild. I know this picture is blurry, but they were moving so fast, and I was laughing too hard. The puppy clamped onto the other end of the rope, and like Roller Derby partners, Parker took Atticus on a Crack-the-Whip from one end of the house to the other. Parker’s about 85-90 pounds of pure muscle, and when he races through the house, eyes wild, it’s like a horse free from the paddock. Atticus may be small, but he is pure game. Pancho, ball firmly clamped in his mouth, just watched.

Back in. Since I’m making Italian bread this takes one more short rising after I form the dough into footballs. So back out again. BW helps me haul a new pot and dirt as my lemon tree needs it. And I can leave it out in the sun for a few hours.

Baking time, and hey, it’s Saturday, so it can be glass of wine time, too. And since we seem to have broken winter’s back, we decide to start up our water feature. BW blows out the leaves, does whatever manly thing he does with the pump. As the water starts to trickle, then to fall, then to stream, I’m very happy. So are the dogs. It’s old hat, and a favorite spot for the older guys, and a brand new adventure for the little guy.

Flowers starting to bud, sun shining, ball-chasing dogs, fresh bread, my pretty water feature singing, a second glass of wine. I suggest to check comparisons on this site about the best water filters, it is important because drinking filter water can save you tons of money.

A pretty perfect weekend.

After my workout I should probably pick up around here as that didn’t get done yesterday. And since it’s cool and gray, maybe light the fire, sit down with a book for a couple hours. Seems like a pretty good endcap to an excellent weekend.

Nora

Serendipity

I had a solid work week, the routine I like best. Get up, fiddle around, get to work, knock off, work out, have a glass of wine, think about dinner.
 
We had some ridiculously spring-time temps, then winter roared back. I believe my beloved tulip magnolia–my favorite early spring bloomer–is fried. The cold won’t hurt the daffodils popping up, and the forsythia will probably make it though–even if we get this winter storm and 10 inches of snow they’re warning us about.
 
But it’s still damn cold.
 
My lemon tree gave me a slice of summer. Only two lemons–one big, one small, but I just love having them. The tree needs a bigger pot, fresh soil–and may give me more fruit next time around. I need to get to that soon.
 
But at the moment, I’m busy with another gift.
 
12 years ago my pal Pat Gaffney let me know about a woman who bred Lab/Retriever mixes. She’d gone to check it out, and came home with Jolene. I went to check it out, and came home with Homer. Best dog ever.
 
A week or so ago, Pat struck up a conversation with a woman at her book club lunch. Pat’s been sad as she lost Joleen and her sweet Finney within three months of each other this winter. Pat said she and her husband were ready for another dog.
 
The woman told Pat about her daughter who with her husband has a farm in the area. Every year, with her family, Mary spends a month on St. Lucia, taking a good winter break. And for the past several years when down there, Mary’s worked with an organization that helps rescue, treat, neuter and place many of the strays on the island–so many poor little puppies. Every year, Mary brings back three or four of the puppies–now treated by a vet, fed, cared for. She fosters them while they adjust, then works to place them in forever homes.
 
That’s an amazing thing.
 
Pat contacted Mary, and the short version is she now has the perfectly adorable Louie. At the same time, she fell pretty hard for one of the other puppies, but they’d decided–and were firm–it was time for a smaller dog, and the other puppy wouldn’t qualify.
 
She emailed me, sent a picture. And that was that.
 
I contacted Mary. A little more magic came into play as it turned out Mary had to be about ten minutes from me yesterday. She could and would bring the pup, let him get acquainted with us and the big guys, and when she finished her business, she’d swing back by.
 
Not only was it pretty much love at first sight for me, but Parker and Pancho went into full body wags. Parker, especially, was insanely happy. The pup let it be known, straight off, he could handle himself, barking them back until he felt comfortable. He got comfortable pretty quick.
 

Atticus
He has sweet, soulful eyes, a cheerful nature, great curiosity and is really well-mannered. I named him Atticus. It just suits him.
 
He now follows Parker pretty much everywhere.
 

Getting to know Parker.
It’s been 12 years since I had a puppy–both Parker and Pancho came into our lives at age 3 and 2 respectively. It’s work. Countless trips out to Poop City a day–and in the dark. And thanks to this stupid turn in the weather, the cold. It was 17 degrees when I took Atticus out this morning at 5:30 by the clock–4:30 by my body clock. Thanks, Daylight Savings Time.
 
We’ve had more misses than hits with our first full day of housebreaking, but he’ll catch on. He’s a bright boy. You have to watch them, learn their tells–and make sure you provide lots of chew treats and toys. And try to keep the older dogs from stealing from the little guy.
 
Atticus will, no question, interrupt my work often for awhile–and I have to say, the book was rolling.
 
But it’s so worth it.
 
I wish I’d had a camera in my hand when Logan dropped by yesterday afternoon. His face just lit up–and Atticus bounded straight for him. Puppy, the boy thought. Boy, thought the dog. With equal delight.
 
We brought Homer’s dog bed up for Atticus. It’s a three dog night here now.
 

Three dog night.
We also rolled up the brand new rugs I just put down to set off the new upholstery. Better safe than sorry, and I’m confident Atticus will learn how things roll.
 
Clearly, he was meant to be ours, we were meant to be his.
 
It’s really lovely when a gift falls into your hands.
 
Atticus was being raised in a storm drain with his littermates, by a mama who was doing the best she could. Now he, and pups like Pat’s Louie, are healthy, safe and loved.
 

Louie and Atticus
We’re so grateful to Mary, who–also clearly–has a heart of gold, and the volunteers of St. Lucia Animal Protection Society. They care for the sick, the lost, the helpless, the neglected for the sake of caring. Bright blessings on them, and all who do this kind and important work.
 
It’s about time to take Atticus out to Poop City again. Hopefully we’ll hit. Either way, he’s home. His humans and his brothers couldn’t be happier.
Nora 

Inside and Out

Eventually the weekends won’t be my catch-up and/or get-it-done time. Eventually. But for right now?

Saturday morning I think to get my workout done early and clear the rest of the day. But I’ve forgotten the window washers are here to finish up this annual deal. We’ve got a lot of windows in this place.

It’s just a little weird to be dancing around the gym, doing down dogs and sweating through biceps curls when a bunch of guys are washing the windows thereof.

Change of plans.IMG_1692

I have a big bunch ‘o beautiful tomatoes courtesy of my pal Jo, so we’ll start off the day making red sauce. A large pot of it this time around, and I can freeze it in dinner size portions–and won’t that be handy down the road? This ties me to the kitchen long enough for the window washers to get close to finishing.IMG_1695

Why not let them do that while I weed my sadly neglected garden? Three large tubs of weeds illustrate that neglect–and remind me that’s something that kept getting backlogged in the catching-up area of my weekends. I like weeding–it’s therapeutic. The dogs like me weeding since it means I’m hanging out with them. God knows the gardens like me weeding, and it gives me time–though many of my beauties are fading as summer winds down–to plan where I’ll divide things up, transfer, try to fill in some areas next spring.

IMG_1698 IMG_1700 IMG_1702Windows clean, garden tended, red sauce simmering low. NOW we can hit the gym. I’m rewarded there–not only by the benefits of regular exercise, but by the hummingbird that flies up to the–very clean–window while I’m sweating it out.

Pretty!

Then you know what? I’ve earned a bellini, and make myself one to enjoy while signing the four tubs of books waiting for me.IMG_1696

A second bellini seems the appropriate celebration for completing Saturday’s chores.

But Sunday has an agenda. My One More Room is a disgrace. Some of that’s due to bags of purged clothes on hold in there. Next Sunday I’m having some pals over for a late summer clothes swap, so that’ll not only be fun, but help clear out the OMR. And I need to store the Christmas presents from Italy rather than just dumping them on the counter.

But the big one I’ve put off for gardening, then vacation, for too long. Our down-the-lane neighbor decided to downsize and relocate, and we bought the house. BW’s using the house as his photography studio–a great space and convenient location for him. But I claimed an outbuilding for my own. I think of it as The Big Closet. Storage!! Storage, for me, is nearly as marvelous and exciting as new shoes. My plan has been to empty my over-taxed OMR of seasonal decorations and such. All the Christmas decorations, the bits and pieces I put out at Halloween, at Easter. Tubbed and boxed and out of here.

Today’s the day. It’s challenging and time-consuming, and immensely satisfying. BW comes up during the process–I believe his eyes wheeled at the chaos. But the process demands chaos before order. I tub, I bubble wrap, I box. And I have enough room to semi-organize the shelves in the storage closets. Even purge a little as I find things BW might be able to use in his new space.

I find things of my mother’s I’ve saved in there. It’s time now to let go of the paperwork of handling her estate. But I find other things. The last purse she used, a pair of glasses, the little wallet holding her driver’s license and a picture of my Pop. These, like the letters I saved (so, so sweet) that my father wrote to her I keep, he definetly used some tricks from to get to her. It reminds me of the letter I found he sent her when they were dating–he wrote on the streetcar on the way home from seeing her, and ended it with: Sending you all the love I can with a two-penny stamp.

It’s that single line that sticks with me most when I think of them, young and in love, and through 63 years of marriage, five kids, and a devotion that never wavered.

It’s a wonderful benefit to clearing out and cleaning up, finding and remembering these small and vital treasures. So I tuck my treasures away.

BW shows his devotion by hauling everything I’ve tubbed and boxed away. And there it is! The floor of the OMR! And room on the shelves. A tidy-ish box of gifts waiting to be wrapped in just a couple months. And okay, maybe my obsession with saving tissue paper (my recycling gene) means I stuff a bag of it in the designated Christmas wrap closet, but it’s off the floor.

Now I can do a little organizing of my own closet. It may be half-assed, but I’m about done with weekend chores. And I want my workout.

And once everything’s done, the dogs and I enjoy a walk around the freshly-weeded gardens where, yes, some blooms have faded, but plenty continue to thrive and bring color to a breezy late afternoon that hints of fall.IMG_1703 IMG_1705

Another weekend gone, another work week beginning. But that’s good for me. Through all the boxing and tubbing and weeding and milling tomatoes, I’ve played with what happens next in the book.

I’m ready to see if I can make it so.  

Nora

Midsummer

The Summer Solstice is my favorite day of the year. The light that lasts and lasts–for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere–draws me out into the warm, into the sun, into the green and the flowers.
 
I may spend a good chunk of the longest day inside at the keyboard–but the sun still beams. I may spend another chunk inside my little gym, but I leave the windows open to the air (and the fan on!) instead of closing them up for the AC. And I work up a good, healthy summer sweat.
 
Then, as the Wheel of the Year turns to Litha, as the calendar marks the official start of summer, I can pour a glass of wine, stick a couple of Milk Bones in my pocket, and go outside to walk in that strong light.
 
My gardens celebrate with me, growing and blooming and showing off all the work of spring. The bees are very busy, and a deeply blue, iridescent dragonfly enjoys the flowers as much as I do.
 
I’m going to ignore the dog poop on the pavers–BW has to have something to do when he gets home. And despite discovering Parker has nosed into TWO of my pots (WHY???) I dispense the marvel of the Milk Bones.
 
It’s so quiet, nothing but birdsong, and the perfect end to my workday. A nice chance to wander, a nice chance to sit awhile by the water feature–and admire how BW secured the doors I bought in Louisville in the spot we chose.
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My lilies have begun their dance–the deer repellent’s working!–and seeing them glowing in the sun is such a joy for me. Hydrangeas are heading up, and a single one has already bloomed blue. Purple coneflowers, astilbes, false sunflowers bursting with color as the foxglove and delphiniums bloom off in a cycle, a circle of growth and life.
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Summer is light and heat and color. It’s lush green shade, kids playing, dogs napping. It’s trips to the beach and backyard barbecues.
 
It’s a time to bask in those long, long days and warm nights. However you spend your summer, I hope you take time to pour that glass of wine (or beverage of your choice) and sit awhile in sun or shade, and bask.  
Nora