Category Archives: Nora at home

Winter Week

In winter, I typically take the way of the bear and hibernate. My form of hibernation equals socking in, staying home, working. And on weekends starting in January, doing my annual full-house purge.
Last week wasn’t at all typical for this bear.
Monday I played hooky. Not much can pull me out of hibernation and into the world. Star Wars is an exception. The prospect of hitting a matinee–IMax, 3D–of the new installment of one of my all time favorite franchises? No-brainer. So BW and I headed out into the cold, met up with Jason–Kat, who’d set this all up, had to work (but she’s already seen it twice)–Laura and Laura’s husband, snagged some popcorn and settled down.
No spoilers, so I’ll just say I loved every minute, right from the first note of the iconic opening theme to the roll of credits. I will ask why, does anyone know why, a group of people would choose to sit directly behind another group of people in a HUGE theater that’s nearly empty? And then regularly push or kick the back of my chair? I have no answer for this.  (Laura’s note:  loved, loved, loved the movie.  I was further down from the kicker so the annoyance for me was the eating/crackling of paper in the quiet moments.  Eat during galactic explosions!!! NR and I are a pair.)
In any case, I enjoyed my playing-hooky day tremendously.
Mid-week, I had a routine annual screening–the medical sort–all good there. But another venture into the cold rather than being attached to my keyboard. And that evening yet another trip out to watch my grandson’s first chorus concert. Absolutely adorable.
As it happened, our Logan proved to be quite a trooper, as it turned out he was running hot. So the next day, with a 101 temp, he snuggled into Nana’s bed. I know how to work around a sick boy, got plenty done while keeping him fed and entertained. Plus I had a spanking new DVD of The Martian, which made him very happy. Because it was a short school day, his sister came up mid-afternoon. So a short work day for me. Kayla agreed to help me with dinner–her little brother was coming up later, and we’d send food home to their mom, who had whatever bug Logan had.
I decided rather than letting her help me, I’d play sous chef and instructor. We both really enjoyed me walking her through making scalloped ham and potatoes, with a side of roasted carrots. Both dishes the gang enjoys.
And she did a terrific job of it.
It’s incredibly satisfying to pass recipes down the generations, tutor a grandchild in basic cooking skills. She has good instincts on top of it–more satisfaction. And asked if I’d make her a cookbook with my recipes. That’s a big pleasure, and something I’ll spend some Saturday putting together for her. I have many of my mother’s, and my father’s recipes in my book. Whenever I cook one of their dishes, they’re right there in the kitchen with me. I like to think when Kayla uses mine, the same holds true.
I freely admit, that I ended the day by conking out by ten p.m.
But Saturday, after my workout, the purge began. And began in earnest in my office byclearing out dozens of old research books I’ve held onto for far too long. Many were ridiculously out of date, and while I still have more dozens, I lean heavy on the internet anyway.
Office shelves
My office and my one-more-room are purged and organized. And my embarrassment of a hall closet is an embarrassment no more. I confess, without shame, to being a scarf slut. I still can’t figure out how I still have three tubs full of them on my closet shelf when I filled an entire bag with what I’ll pass on.
A good Saturday start. BW hauled out boxes and bags of donations, and I have more bags for the annual clothes swap. And Laura and Kayla can have a grudge match over the scarves. (Laura’s note:  I can take her!)


Vegetable soup
Rosemary sourdough bread
Sunday, cold with snow flurries, means making soup and baking bread. (Note from Laura:  I know Nora cooks soup the way I do — with what’s on hand and to suit my taste — so there’s not going to be a recipe. ) A hearty vegetable soup in this case, with beans and pasta, and a couple rounds of rosemary sour dough bread. And since I was hooked to the kitchen, it was a good time to purge and organize that area. I can now open doors and drawers in the areas addressed this weekend without shuddering. That’s a good deal.
The better one is knowing I can now begin my hibernation. I have a clear week, intend to fully hunker down. And I’m hoping nothing and no one tries to poke the bear.

Ring Out, Ring In

Around here we say goodbye to the old year by cooking, baking, slicing, dicing, and setting up for our annual New Year’s Day bash. The bash rings in the new.
I think it’s a fine way to spend the last day of the year–at home, with some wonderful helping hands, making tons of food. By ten I have over 120 meatballs simmering, two big-ass hams in the oven and a pot of red beans going.
My sweet Kayla is the first to arrive for kitchen duty. At thirteen she’s gotten the hang of things, and I have a couple of dishes earmarked for her. She always makes the bread pudding, from a recipe passed down from my father’s side. And I’ve taught her how to make pasta salad. She’ll also make the brownies for the chocolate trifle. She’s on it. It’s fun for me to have this time with her, with her chatting away, making food, and eating far too many cookies.
The finished trifle on the right of the side board.
Kat and Jason arrive next and dive right in. The dogs are mostly banished outside, and Parker doesn’t appreciate it. They manage to sneak in, must be banished again. Logan heads up to help with manly set up. And Laura arrives to help out. I’ve boiled three dozen eggs to devil. My girls are all over the peeling of same. And the chopping of many, many raw veggies for a crudite.
These were gone within an hour of the start of the party.
The results of Laura’s chop and Kat’s presentation.
We cook, stir–Kat is doing BW a solid by keeping up with the dishes. We chop and bake, and hey, it’s the last day of the year so we pop some champagne while we work.
Finished food must be stuffed into refrigerators, and when room runs out put outside on the deck–HIGH where certain dogs can’t get to it.
By evening Laura heads home, as do the kids. Jason and Kat will stay the night and be here to help in the morning. More champagne, and watching the ball drop. (Anyone else notice Ryan Seacrest has elf ears? Just wondering.)
I’m up early as there are things to do on the day. Like an enormous Waldorf salad–or my version thereof. I tell Kat when I see it’s nearly 11–and the party starts at 1–that every year I think I’ve budgeted my time well, and every year I wonder where the morning’s gone. But we get it all done. Pre-made food warming in the oven or on the stove, platters and bowls hauled in, set out. Kat’s artistic arrangements of veggies and cheeses, the bar set and stocked and so on. And I manage to get out of my pjs and dressed with about ten minutes to spare.

Just a few of Nora’s champagne glasses.
We didn’t have a full house. We had a bulging house. I think when the holiday falls on a Friday or Saturday people are more inclined not just to come but to hang out. And we did hang, cheerfully.

The gracious hosts just before the crowd descended.
It’s so good to have a day with friends, family, with kids running around, dogs wandering around, with food being devoured and enjoyed. After the party gets going I do about ten pounds of spiced shrimp. I think we have a little sandwich baggie of that left and a few scraps of ham. My pals JoAnne and Larry always bring a big pot of crab soup. We have one little serving left so BW can have it for lunch. Otherwise, those bowls, platters, casseroles and serving dishes were pretty much empty by the end of the party.
The new year started off with an appetite–which is satisfying for the cooks.
Good food, good friends, some sparkling beverages and a lot of noise. It’s a great way to write the first page on the story of a new year, as spending time in the kitchen with my girls was a great way to write the last page on the old.
Now I’m packing for a week at the spa, where there will be NO cooking for me!! 
Here’s wishing you all the happiest, healthiest, and most loving of new years.

‘Twas The Weekend Before Christmas…

And all through the house, kids are on a sugar high. That’s what happens here when we have our annual cookie-baking extravaganza.
It’s a day for fun and for not worrying about the dentist or caloric intake. Besides, I planned to hit the gym afterward, knowing my gang had to leave by three as my oldest grandson had a basketball game.
I mentioned to my granddaughter I’d make the sugar cookie dough early so it would have its time in the fridge before rolling. She immediately objected–but, but, but, we like making that dough, too.
Okay then.
Sugar cookie dough starts the day, with everybody taking turns. You got to put in the butter, I get to put in the sugar! Many years of experience has taught me how to manage all this, down to supervising how a five-year-old cracks an egg. (Messily.)IMG_1242
While that dough’s chilling, we opt for a double batch of the crowd favorite–chocolate chip. It’s an assembly line from the measuring and mixing to the dropping and the baking. And then to the most important element.
The taste testing. We all agree we can’t inflict inferior cookies on the world, so we will throw ourselves on our sword and sample.
They passed the audition. More than once.
It’s onto a new-for-us cookie. Kayla had asked if we could do the Hershey Kiss Blossoms. Sure we can, so BW was tasked with getting the kisses. He initially brought home the mint ones by mistake. So now we’ll make two new kinds. There’s a lot of fun here rolling dough balls in colored sugar, unwrapping kisses, putting them on warm baked cookies.
These, too, passed the test.
Onto the more traditional peanut butter blossoms, and we rolled these in gold sugar or white sugar.
The mess by now is awesome.
We must break for lunch–even an indulgent nana has to get some actual food in these kids. I’m amazed when the five-year-old wants seconds of actual food. Where is he putting all this?
An extended break for another tradition in our house on baking day. The early Christmas gift. I held this off until after actual food, despite many pleas. That single gift–always something relatively small–causes near desperation.
Then it’s time for the crescendo.
Out comes the sugar cookie dough and the cookie cutters, and the little plastic bowls along with the food coloring Kayla has purged and organized. We mix the paint–it’s just that food coloring and evaporated milk.
I roll, they cut, they paint. Much discussion on which they HAVE to eat themselves. I bake. Multiple times. We have color, weird art, festive shapes, and–of course–a taste test.
We’ve done it all, in the five hours allotted, and my gang heads off with a big bag of cookies, early gifts and happy faces for the basketball game. I tin up a variety for our Christmas visit with BW’s family on Sunday.
BW and I clean up the awesome mess. Awesomely happy mess. I, however, wonder what I was thinking when I planned to workout after the marathon.
I have a really big glass of wine instead, and a cookie.
That’s a happy holiday tradition!
I hope you all enjoy your own.

So Much December


For us this big, crowded, happy month held a hard punch. Last week we had to send our sweet, sweet Homer over The Rainbow Bridge. He went out of our lives as gently as he came into them. He was always our no-fuss, no-drama boy. Kind-hearted, laid back and loving. Twelve years ago this coming spring, I crouched among a litter of frisky, excited pups, wondering how I would ever pick The One.

And while his litter mates all but did handsprings, he walked over, easy and quiet, put his paw on my knee. Just looked at me as if to say: I’ve been waiting for you.
It’s a moment I’ll never forget.
I’m grateful for the many distractions of the season–they help. We had a fun and festive holiday book signing earlier in the month, and our Kayla’s holiday chorus concert.IMG_1240
This past Friday I held my annual Christmas party here for our (female) managers. Just girls, fun, a little food and a lot of bubbly!
holiday girls
The weekend was packed with at-home tasks (my favorite). I finished all the wrapping–bring it on, baby! Made a kind of kitchen-sink ham and veggie soup with beans and pasta, then prepped some ribs, marinating them in zingy sauce overnight for Sunday dinner. Baked my annual raisin bread, finished proofing galleys and generally put my house in order.
Left on the list: Cookie baking. We’re set with grandkids on that fun time forSaturday. Then it’s party here, party there, party everywhere.
Oh yeah, bring it on.

No-Internet Hell

Our cable is out this morning, which means no internet, no phone, no nothing. I’m okay about the phone, and the TV–never much use either most days. But OMG, where’s my internet????
My plans for today are now in flux. This Monday was to be catch-up on everything I’ve ignored the last couple weeks. Which is a lot of email, a lot of internet surfing for specific items and information. Sending in my corrections, via email natch, for the galleys I just proofed. Dealing with the growing chaos of my One More Room–at which time I WOULD turn on the TV to distract me from dealing with said chaos.
Can’t do any of that. I had arrowed toward this Monday since Friday, when I finished a book.  A few chapters of which were written in Montana on my new Surface– with my ancient DOS WP.
Yes, I said DOS.
My genius geek son found a way to make the new tech talk to the old. However, no one realized that the version on the Surface had a Canadian dictionary for spell check. Which isn’t recognized by my USA dictionary on my PC. But the genius geek fixed that just yesterday. So I need to spell check those chapters–and save my editor’s sanity–and send in the book. Electronically. Which I can’t do because–No Internet–and get THAT off my list.
Today was to be almost a mental health sort of day. Tie off those loose ends, deal with the piles of duties. How did so many duties become attached to the internet? Well, they did, and there is sadness in the House Of Nora today.
I can’t call to report the cable issue because, haha, no phone. So BW will report it from Boonsboro, where hopefully the 21st century is humming along.
He also started the Roomba before he left. When you have three dogs, a Roomba is essential. I don’t like walking over layers of shedded dog hair. However, I noted the quiet, went downstairs and spent a good ten minutes hunting for the Roomba. I figured it had gotten hung up on something, though this is rare. Looked and looked, down on all fours, peering under beds, chairs, tables, playing hide-and-seek with the busy little tool we call Raoul.
And began to wonder . . . could it have left the house? Just said: I’m sick of all this dog hair, and I’m out of here.
I finally found it hiding in the bedroom, claiming it needed to be charged. Since it sits on the charger when not in use, this puzzled me. But I dutifully cleaned it out of an amazing amount of dog hair, and put it back on its home base. Now I ask myself . . . this can’t be tied to the internet. This is simple electricity. But why? A coincidence, you say. But I don’t trust coincidence. And I think dark thoughts.
Is it a revolt? Should I go check the other appliances? Is this just the beginning, the first step into Maximum Overdrive?
I think I’ll go work out instead. Spend an hour or so in the gym and hope everything’s back to normal after. Of course, I need my DVDs for that, and the DVDs require the television–no cable, but still.
We’ll see how that goes.
One way or the other, I’ll answer emails and put the responses in the Mail To Be Sent folder, as I’ll put this.
If and when this posts, you’ll all know No-Internet Hell is over. For now.

Summer Things

It’s good to be home, back to routine, back to work. In my book world it’s frigid, bitter-wind January. I realized I’d dived deep into book world when I set a scene at the ice rink in Central Park, started to research for some details and the web site said: Closed For The Season.
Well, I thought, baffled and annoyed, why in the hell would they close the ice rink in January? It’s a freaking ICE rink! Then I glanced out my office window, had a moment of disorientation before I remembered. Oh yeah, it’s August.
I like August better, in the real world. Some of the poplar trees are showing some yellow leaves, and I’m not ready for that, not ready for summer to wind down.
I like spending a good part of my weekends outside, gardening, wandering around with the dogs, sitting out with BW for a drink–most usually on the back patio so we can watch the hummingbirds come to feed. So I better appreciate those summer things while it lasts.
Everything got hit with deer repellent, again, as the deer–like the one I yelled at just the other day–continue to think of my garden as theirs. But I weeded yesterday without seeing a snake–that’s always a plus. And cut a pretty bouquet.
photo 1 (7)
Late summer bouquet
BW decided to grill steaks–not a summer thing for us as BW, much to my delight, grills year-round. But we don’t eat a lot of red meat, so steaks are a treat. And I used the potatoes we’d grown and harvested, with herbs from the garden for some spicy roasted potatoes. Add a salad–with some nasturtium from the garden–and we had the perfect meal to enjoy on our front deck. That’s a fine summer thing.

Potato prep
Potatoes prepped with fresh herbs
photo 3 (6)
Roasted to perfection
photo 4 (5)
Salad with nasturtium
While it’s deep winter in book world, I’m going to hold on to summer as long as I can, enjoy the warm and the flowers and those evening drinks on the patio.
Do yourself a favor, take a walk in the warm, pick some flowers, look for a hummingbird, read a book in the sunshine. Those summer things only last so long.

Summer Happy

Today’s my last day of a very happy summer week, with friends and family, at the spa. BW and I calculated and realized we’ve been coming here for 14 years now. Obviously, we enjoy it here.
This week’s been highlighted by simply wonderful weather–we can make our own fun in less than wonderful, but it sure adds a glow to all.
I did bring work, but I like work, and I’m not doing all the other things that need doing when I’m home, PLUS massages are a nearly daily treat. No complaints.
And when you cap a day off with sunsets like this one? Yeah, that adds a glow.
photo 1 (6)
I am, however, a creature of habit. I need my little routines. Spa routine, in good weather, starts off with a three-mile, hilly, round-trip walk, with a stop halfway to see the lions, tigers, bears–and wolves–in their habitats. My first morning, I hear a noise, pull out my earbuds.

photo (11)
The big white lion they call Prince–raised here from a cub–is not exactly roaring, not exactly chuffing as the tiger does. It’s like a deep, wild purr. I’m enchanted. But I’m stunned into bliss when as soon as the lion stops, the male wolf–I’m standing only feet away from him–throws back his head and howls. I’ve never heard a wolf howl live and in person, so this was a real moment for me.
After the walk I might take a class if it appeals. The Yoga Sculpt–yoga with light weights–does. I end up taking it twice as I liked it quite a bit. Then it’s what’s everybody else doing?
A couple hours of work–sometimes out on the terrace in the sunshine–maybe a stroll about before settling into a book, then getting that massage.
What Nora Read
What Nora Read
It’s a really good deal, made even better by the delightful boys who are part of this summer tradition, their equally delightful parents, and my own Jason and Kat. Maybe it’s room service, maybe it’s dinner out. And often some Wii competition. I can’t believe this seven-year-old kid trounced me in Wii Bowling. I’ll get him next time.
We also celebrated BW’s birthday here with a fun meal outdoors, music and cake.

The birthday boy
The birthday boy
Yesterday I took my traditional walk and saw Diego the wolf wasn’t pacing his front fence line as he often does. His mate was meandering, and he was taking a little lie-down in the sun. Then they meandered together, tails wagging. The lion–the neighboring habitat is meandering with his mate as well.
Diego stops as the back corner, and to my surprise and utter delight, does that down-dog invite to play, the down and shuffle. I’m more astonished when the big lion, on his side, does a quick feint and dance. I can only describe it as a lion romping. These two played with each other for several minutes. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Yesterday also held a big, fancy wedding–so many pretty people–and the ceremony on the rooftop. Later a big helicopter–I’m assuming holding some of the wedding party–buzzed around seconds before fireworks lit up the sky. That’s some wedding!
I’ve done my walk, may do some yoga on my own. I’ll work awhile, think about packing, read some and enjoy the last day of a really happy summer week.
Late summer pedi
Late summer pedi
We’ve already booked next year.

What Happened?

That’s what I thought this morning when I woke up and remembered it was Saturday. Where did my week go?
It’s easy enough to figure out. I traveled home from NY on Monday, unpacked a week’s worth of RWA clothes, shoes, bags and so on. Then collapsed in an exhausted heap.
Tuesday was catch up after RWA day while the brain slowly began to fire up again.
Wednesday, big catch up with the book, figuring out what the hell I was doing when I left off, continuing that, all while dealing with several interruptions.
Thursday was my granddaughter’s 13th birthday. I have a teenage granddaughter! What happened??? And how lucky am I she wanted to spend the day with me. She wanted a chocolate trifle rather than a cake, so we had some fun baking brownies, whipping cream and putting that together. She helped me tidy up. Bless her.
photo 1
The birthday girl.
photo 2
The trifle.
I always think I can be messy–everyone can. Except for my pal Ruth Langan, who simply can’t. Clutter is to Ruth as sunlight is to vampires. But after a week away from home, I’m reminded it really is BW who’s the messy one. So I cleared  the flat surfaces of junk piled on them in my absence, and put it where it actually goes. In many cases, the trash. 
That evening, we celebrated Kayla’s 13th, and her brother Colt’s 5–as his is only days later–with pizza and trifle and presents.
Friday, back to work, with many interruptions. Due to them, I worked late and skipped my workout. I’m cranky when I miss my workout, but I’d have been crankier if I didn’t finish the scene.
We leave on Monday for a week at the spa, where I wasn’t really planning to work. But the interruptions and birthdays and life in general this week will have me taking my laptop with me. And that’s okay. I miss the work. 
So today, I hit my gym first thing, then hit the garden. Weeds, weeds, oh boy, the weeds that sprouted while I was gone.

photo 3
Tub o’weeds.

This tub is just from my raised beds. But the flowers are so pretty. I love the red cardinal flowers backing the Susies. So do the hummingbirds. And the nasturtium is insane this year.


photo 5
Susies and cardinal flowers.
photo (10)
Nasturtiums gone wild.
We decided to go ahead and harvest our little crop of potatoes. This is always just fun. And also delicious.

photo 4
Potato harvest.
Now I have to pack for next week. Not nearly as complicated as that week in NY, as this will be mostly workout clothes, hangout clothes and pjs. Along with laptop, flash drive and my nearly illegible notes on the work-in-progress.
I’ll end today signing the four tubs of books waiting for me.
This is all so I can carve out time tomorrow to help catch up from a week away, and a week of scattered work, along with somewhat scattered next week.
And some wonder why I get so pissed off when someone comments–often as if they KNOW–that I have ghost writers or a writing team.
The writing team–who consists of me, myself and I–will work on Sunday instead of reading a book. And will put in time on vacation to work so I stay on target for my deadline. That’s how it’s done.
Anyway, the week is kind of a blur, and now it’s Saturday afternoon. NY was great, last week such fun with my birthday girl, and next? I may work, but I’ll be getting massages and someone else does the cooking. That’s a really good summer deal altogether.

Rainy Days and Sundays

Wrath of God rain whooshed and beat down all of Saturday. From my desk, early morning, I watched the trees whip around in a frenzy and thought, surely that can’t last for long.
But the deluge meant I had no excuse not to do a mini-purge of my closet and organize all my pretty new things from last weekend’s shopping trip. Or procrastinate tidying the One More Room and gathering the items to go into my Fall Into The Story Brunch raffle basket.
Or come up with reasons not to shovel out my poor, neglected house that collected clutter in the last week as I pushed down the path of finishing a book.
None of those things are nearly as much fun as being outside in the sunshine gardening on a Saturday in June.
BW spent the crazy rain day inside the redone shed, putting in the shelves, organizing it. When I finally get out there to look, I did a happy dance. And enjoyed the really pretty whiskey barrel of impatiens Kayla planted in April.
photo 1 (4) photo 2 (6)
The dogs spent part of the day in the mobile groomer’s truck. It was Parker’s first time, and he did very well. Grooming was timely as all three dogs decided to sprawl outside my little gym while I worked out–instead of in the many places outside that have cover. I had to stop and put them inside before they drowned.
The dogs smell nice–that won’t last–and my house looks like adults live here. That probably won’t last either.
Today there’s no the natives-have-snorted-a-whole-buncha-cocaine jungle drumbeat of rain, but it’s coolish and overcast. Still, I got the workout in early so I could get outside and weed. And pick up sticks, haul branches–BW had a photo shoot today, so this is solo–pull those sticks, branches and many leaves out of my beds. The sun came out for about forty seconds, and that was 4 (4)
In my circuit, I checked the vegetable bags–why Parker dug at a pepper plant inside a bag is a mystery, but I saved it, and the little pepper on the plant. I find lots of little tomatoes, including the very cool purple cherry tomatoes we’re trying this year.
And I find lots of deer damage. BW told me yesterday when he was in his office–front left corner of the house, lower level–he looked straight out at a deer munching away. Not a foot from the house, with dead nettle hanging out of its mouth. In all the years I’ve lived here I’ve never known the deer to eat dead nettle.
Fortunately I found blood meal that had been buried in the garden shed, now sitting tidily on the new shelves.
I see the mimosa trees blooming. BW and I started these beauties from seen years ago. I love the delicacy of those feathery pink blossoms.
The storm brought down a small branch from one of the mimosas, so I brought it in, cut some other flowers, made a little arrangement. Gotta look for that silver lining.
 photo 5 (1)
Now I’ve got a weeded garden and clean-enough house, and a free afternoon. I think it’s time to read a book somebody else sweated over.

Fun with Girls

Now that school’s out my granddaughter likes to hang out up here. She’ll be thirteen next month, and entertains herself very well while I’m working. We have little conversations when she wants lunch or a snack–for a kid who’s a size 00, she can eat. Since she’s an HGTV addict, she usually ends her afternoon watching that while I end mine with a workout. Then I watch with her until it’s time for her to go home.
It’s sweet and rewarding that an almost teenager likes hanging at Nana’s house. She does some chores, too, saving me that time. And a couple times a week, she goes into TTP with BW and works there.
On Friday, she was bookstore girl while Laura and I headed down the road to meet more girls for Kat’s birthday spree. This year we decided to make it a shopping/slumber party. We spend the day trying on clothes–total girl stuff. I must now do another closet purge, but I’m totally outfitted for upcoming events, including RWA in NY.
AND our annual Fall Into The Story Brunch–still have to put my raffle basket together for that. More fun with girls in July! I hope to see some of you there. While TTP’s anniversary signings are fun in their busy and bustling way, the brunch is relaxed, casual, with plenty of time to just hang out together.
Plus raffle baskets–and a chance to win a night at Inn BoonsBoro!
But back to shopping. I had to tell my beloved Kat it’s irritating everything looks good on her. (Laura’s note: it is!) Everything. At one point she put on what she considered a terrible outfit, and sorry, even the terrible looked good on her. (Laura’s note: it did!!) But I had to forgive her, as she was the birthday girl. (Laura’s note:  ok, fine.) And we’re both also well outfitted for our vacation late this summer in Montana. (Laura’s note:  I’m well outfitted for moving in late summer.)
After a full day of clothes and shoes . . . oooh, the shoes . . .

Many shoes.
Many shoes.

we could walk back to our hotel room instead of fighting traffic. A new tradition is born. So much more pleasant to have a slumber party, followed by a lazy morning and a drive home–where no one left empty-handed.

And when I got home, BW had my wonderful new birdbath fountain placed and running. I love it!photo 3 (4)
I also discovered the deer had an all-you-can-eat buffet while I was gone. Mowing down so many Black-Eyed-Susies–in one area they had to balance on a steep slope and lean over a wall to chomp them. And nearly all my lilies, which seriously breaks my heart. BW believes the deer repellent hype about three months. This will now be done weekly.
Yesterday I went out to weed, deadhead, got about three-quarters of the way down when I see the snake sunning itself on my garden wall. And that was the end of that. I tell BW, who says what kind of snake? It doesn’t matter!!!! But no, not a copperhead. When I see a copperhead I lead with COPPERHEAD rather than snake. But by the time he gets there, it’s gone.
I haul the bucket of weeds to the composter, hear a rustling–and my close encounter with the snake has my heart bumping. But I look up and see two deer moseying their way down out of the woods. They see me, too, and decide to bound away. I actually shout: Yeah, that’s right, bitches, run! And get the deer repellent. This took about one minute, and when I turn I see Parker is staring up in the woods, head cocked. I look. The deer are moseying right back. He barks at people when they drive up, but just gives the deer an interested look? (the other dogs don’t even bother with looking) So, in my way, I bark at them, and they run away again. And I spend the next half hour spraying stinky deer repellent on everything.
Gphoto 4 (3)ive an extra spray to the pretty purple coneflowers,just blooming, that I know deer so enjoy. The butterfly doesn’t seem bothered by it.
Due to snakes and deer, the gardening wasn’t nearly as much fun as shoes, shopping and girls, but I ended the day whipping up a batch of belinis. So it could be worse.  photo 2 (5)