The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

I’m going to start with the bad and ugly, get it out of the way.
My guy’s away for a week–nearly over now. I opted not to go as our regular dog and house sitters are out of town, and you just can’t leave three dogs, much less a new one. And this is fine. I also had a lot of work and a deadline, so a week home alone is all good.
Our Pancho (someone asked last time, and this is the name he came with when we rescued him at age two) decided about two years ago it was just too much trouble to go into the brush or the woods to poop, and chose to start pooping on the pavers. Nothing we’ve tried has discouraged this. Bad enough, but a couple of piles a day, which BW shoveled up routinely. It seems Parker decided: Oh, that’s how it’s done here. So now two dogs are using the pavers, and Parker’s taken it a step beyond. It’s like he thinks: I’ll go a little here, a little there, and gee, that looks like a fun spot, then there’s that one. So many, many little piles.
This week, I’ve been starting and ending my day shoveling poop. This does not make me happy. And also hosing down the pavers. Today, after shoveling NINE piles (and that’s just since yesterday evening) it occurred to me I should take the poop to a poop friendly area, lure the culprits and see if they latch on.
Next time.
Meanwhile, about half way through my week, I went out in the morning–pre-caffeine– to feed and water said dogs. And nearly stepped on what I took for a really big dead mouse–which explains why Homer wanted to sleep outside the door the night before. I hoped, very much, he’d take it off somewhere, but alas, by the next day, there it was. I had no choice, but shoveled, what I think was actually a mole, (so good boy on that) along with poop.
And this morning, I went down to see what the hell Parker was barking at like a maniac, and see the baby black snake right beside my back steps. I cannot handle snakes, seriously phobic there. I don’t care how little it is. I keep the door firmly shut, go workout–opposite side of the house. It’s still there when I get back, and I realize it’s a dead baby snake. This is somewhat better, but I’m still not touching it. I have a line.
This is my glamorous life.
And that’s the bad and the ugly.
The good is very good. If you read my previous Trouble Spots blog, you’ll have seen my worn old garden shed. In case not, and because it’s fun, I’m asking Laura to post the before and after pictures. I’m couldn’t be happier with how this turned out. And next weekend, BW and I will tackle organizing the interior.

My birdbath fountain came Thursday, and that was an adventure. The delivery guys are only authorized to drop it at the door, but as it’s over 300 pounds, and was packed in an enormous box with wood framing, they couldn’t get it off the truck without unboxing it. Lucky for me. Even that was a job and a half for them, but they helpfully hand-trucked it to where I want it. Laid it down there as BW and I will have to level the spot, settle it in. But it’s so what I wanted, and I can’t wait to see it in use.
I have a huge box full of packing straw, and wood on the side of my driveway. BW will have to deal with it.
I did my weekend gardening. And the lavender is just beautiful this year. Played with dogs. And in a little while I’m going back to relax beside the completed Project.
When I first moved here, I needed to have a well dug.  Everyone recommended I hire this guy with a divining rod to tell us where to dig it. Okay. So he comes with the well diggers, looks around, and walks over to this spot–not using the rod. Right here, he tells me.
Okay, why?
Because there’s an underground spring–that’s where we had the still.
Still makes me laugh. And he was right. They hit it fast, and we actually set the record for gallons per minute in the county. While my neighbors were deciding whether to do a load of laundry or take a shower, I could do laundry, run the dishwasher, the washing machine AND shower.
The downside was the spring formed a little pool which was basically a mud pool. And I have dogs. Over the years I’ve planted the area around the well–yellow flags as they like their feet wet, hostas as there’s a lot of shade, some trees, some spirea and so on. This is where the jewelweed thrives, especially.
But behind it was a crappy little area I never knew what to do with. Until I saw my heart’s desire at the nursery. A water feature, stone, long and curving and with pretty little waterfalls. I contacted our landscape guy, the amazing Brian who tackles the big jobs around here–like the gorgeous stone terraces and walls he built for us.
It took some time–he’s exacting–and it was a whole bunch of work–laying pipe, electric–which meant digging trenches–and all that before starting to set the stone.
The day I walked back, heard the water, saw it, I did a happy dance. And also realized we didn’t want to put grass back in close to the waterfall. I needed plantings and mulch. Hey, Brian.
I told him I want a Rose of Sharon, have always wanted one and right there is a perfect spot. I want a dwarf weeper–a bloomer, and some flowering shrubs here and here, and something over there. I gave him basic choices, but as we’ve worked together for years, left a lot up to him. He knows my tastes.
When he was done (still have to deal with the ground behind the mulch, seed it) it was more fabulous than I imagined–and I image very well. I’ve ordered a stone bench as the wood one I had seems not quite right. And I found a little light for accent.
I feel like I have this new, pretty little world to enjoy.
My lovely new space almost makes up for poop on the pavers. But I’m about to hand over the shovel to BW, and retire from that field.
And the dead snake will be waiting for him.
I’m going to pour myself a glass of champagne, go out and enjoy my very, very good.

60 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly”

  1. Those look wonderful – the shed and the new water feature. I enjoy the pictures of your yard you share with us. It always looks so peaceful, even though I know there was a lot of hard work involved to get there and keep it like that.

    Enjoy the fruits of your labour.

    1. I love your water feature, you have a beautiful spot! I live in Snohomish, Wa. in the woods and while I have a nice yard my special features tend to be dead mice on the deck and moss. I have enjoyed your books for years. I have only read one of the in death books and I didn’t enjoy it as much, but that was because I felt like I was missing something. Now I’d like to start reading them but I don’t know the name of the first book?

      1. The first In Death book is Naked In Death. I love all of her books but I never read the In Death series because I have never really like futuristic type books or movies. Then I read Remember When and the second half of that one is with Eve and Roarke. I was hooked then, let me tell you and so I started reading them from the first one. I have read all of them now and actually have gone through them three times, lol! I do two hours on my eliptacle machine every day and that is when I get to read.

  2. Snakes and moles seem to be bad this year! We caught a mole in the laundryroom mouse trap and the pest guy said he’s never seen one INSIDE a house. After the third one, he just started shaking his head and sighing. Everyone is talking about the snakes–black snakes, rat snakes, “OMG, this isn’t a copperhead, is it?” snakes–both large ones and baby ones turning up in basements or near houses.

    LOVE the new water feature–how lovely and soothing!

  3. Love seeing all the work you are doing on your yard, beautiful. Try washing the pavers with ammonia, it is a natural dog repellent. Someday I will check Inn Boonesboro off of my bucket list. Until then…

  4. Hi Nora,
    Really enjoyed reading this!! If you ever find a solution for poop on the pavers, please let us know!! I have a lazy dog who started pooping under our pergola. And the other 2 have started following suit.

    1. Try cutting up jalapenos and putting them in a spray bottle with water . then spray where you don’t want them to go

  5. Hi Nora, Thanks for the chat I enjoyed it I too love my patio area we live in the middle of 7 acres mostly cleared and have a large Oak over the patio area for lovely shade. I placed our Goldfish pond under it because I love the area and Do not sit in the sunshine ever. The down side is all the sticks that fall but its worth it. I too love my flowers and Thomas and the grandsons built me a large walled Rock Garden in center of circular driveway and other smaller ones in which I have planted lovely flowers.

  6. Oops Forgot to add that we keep our black snakes they keep the bad guys away and so far after 40 years here in the country have seen none.

  7. I remember my mom spraying the sidewalk with pepper spray to keep the dogs from pooping there, have you tried anything like that? She made her own spray and stank up the house for days, hope you can find it commercially. Your before and after pictures are great and I love how the waterfalls worked out – it looks like part of the nature around it – beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. Thanks for sharing this. How fun to read about (and see) your projects. So many writers are also gardeners and crafty-type people. The urge to create seems to spill over into other areas of our lives. 🙂

  9. Hahahahaha. It’s nice to know my favorite and famous writer has a life parallel to mine. 1980s – beloved kitty kat Sam meows at the door…I opened it and quickly blocked him from ringing me his gift, a wiggly snake in his mouth. Next day builder hubby Brad brought home a new back door. Top half was glass.

  10. Loved your blog – very inspiring. I have a new area to plant where we removed a huge palm tree. Gotta get the sons to dig it up, add compost, etc. But for now, I have a blank canvas ready to fill. So exciting; been living here 28 years and haven’t had a good project for awhile. Probably going to be flowers; maybe a cutting garden. I have some lavender plants, a couple roses, and lots of flower seeds. Thanks for the photos – I imagine you sitting on your soon-to-be bench and coming up with ideas for your next book! Thanks again 🙂

  11. The water feature is gorgeous. A stone bench will be perfect there.
    The shed makeover is amazing. Happy organizing.

    As for the snake, I do understand there are good snakes, but not for me. Anything that can cause me to hurt myself isn’t good.

  12. Baby black or otherwise I would have been one of your poop piles! Love the work that has been done for your house. Enjoy the garden and dogs.

  13. Beautiful water feature! Our greyhounds used to go whereever they wanted…all over the lawn… no little piles from them! I finally started going out with them and bringing a little baggie of cheese (cut into tiny pieces). When they went where i wanted they got a few nibbles..they love cheese and will do anything for it! Now..they only go in their leaf pile in the back corner… and i give her (one is no longer with us) a nibble when she comes in

  14. I’m fine with snakes. At the animal shelter where I volunteer, however, many people – including staff – are not. One day last week I arrived to find a group of three staffers huddled in the hallway all but playing rock-paper-scissors. They saw me, gave a collective sigh of relief, and said “oh good, Lisa’s here!” Turns out someone had left a corn snake in the overnight drop box and nobody had the nerve to get the poor thing out.

  15. I’m like you with the snakes. I cannot convince myself they’re ok to touch. Spiders are another thing. Another reason for reposting the before picture of your shed is that it was nice to see how much better it was now. It looks very good.

  16. I love reading about the glamorous life authors have. We dont have snakes here, but rodents are my thing I cant touch at all

  17. I so love your blog posts. I live in an apartment so don’t get to garden. Well truth be told I am not sure if I would be a gardener if I had a house as I never have done that before and it looks like lots of work.

    I agree with you about snakes, I laughed when you told us about that and the dead animal. I remember once when I lived in the country my cat brought home a live bird. He didn’t understand why I locked him in the bathroom while I worked to get the bird out of my apartment. When he was a kitten he decided to go up against a baby black snake. They were hissing at each other and I was freaking out. Somehow I got around where the snake was and picked him up – good think he was still a kitten or I couldn’t have done that.

  18. Loved your blog…good thing you don’t live in South Central Pa…a few miles north of you….we have rattle snakes, copperheads, black snakes and black bears!! Keep on scooping!

  19. Gorgeous! I’ve read about your garden over the years, and still love to see the improvements. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Your good is very, very good and the bad will be dealt with. I enjoy reading your blog almost as much as the books — which is saying a lot. Thank you for many hours of happiness that your work brings to me and to all the others who read your books and the blog.

  21. I love your blog! It’s interesting and funny. I laughed out loud about the still. I also draw the line with snakes. can’t stand those creatures. moles and mice don’t bother me, but a big ass field rat on the other hand, scares the bejesus out of me. Well, just last week here in the big (small) town of ninety six, we had a supposedly bear sighting in the park, in the middle of town. Now that’s big news for us. I hope the person was a little tipsy, and it was a big dog. lol. Anyway, I always enjoy reading your blog. Can’t wait till Devoted comes out.

  22. It made me laugh that your landscaper’s name is Brian. My plumber, electrician and HVAC/Natural Gas fitter’s are all also named Brian, 3 separate men and companies. We refer to them collectively as “the Brians”. I grew up in a fixer upper so we have a number of trades persons on speed dial. They can even all work together in my tiny cramped crawl space of a basement.

  23. Hey Nora,

    Just a suggestion regarding the paver poopers: I had a similar situation with one of my dogs and this worked well after a couple of tries. I waited quietly with the hose each time I let Big Dog in the yard. When he assumed the position on the pavers, I’d spray him full in the face with the power nozzle. He wasn’t impressed, and eventually sought a more secluded spot to conduct business. Oh, the irony–now he leaves deposits on the neighbors’ pavers when we’re out gallivanting. Dang dog! Either way, I’ve become the paver poop picker-upper!

    Fun blog and beautiful gardens! Thanks for sharing, and for the writing inspiration!

  24. Snakes are good, they eat mice, moles anything they can get hold of. They won’t bother you, if you don’t bother them. Good luck with keeping your pavers clean. We use to have Great Danes so I know what yard duty is. Happy Summer.

    1. I don’t care what they eat, they’re snakes. They had no feet! They’re just thing I can’t handle, even in movies or photos.

      1. I hear on the snake thing. I can’t stand them but then I can’t stand mice either. That’s why I have 4 cats. Til one of them brings the black snake in the house and sets it loose so she can play with it later. That was fun to step on in the middle of the night!

  25. Love this post, and started laughing out loud about the doggie doo and the underground spring & still story. My husband asked what I was laughing at so read it to him. My phobia is June Bugs, and therefore, I try not to go out after dark in June, (Thank God they only last the month). But if I have to, the rule is: no outside lights on and I run from the car to the house with a hoodie securely tied around my head. Needless to say, my family just laughs at me.

  26. Your garden looks so peaceful and relaxing (piles of poop, dead mole, dead snake aside). Great garden shed – can almost smell the fresh wood.

  27. Love the water feature, and the stone bench sounds like the perfect finishing touch. I spent the weekend gardening as well. Nothing as elaborate (or beautiful) as yours, but fun and relaxing nevertheless. Here’s hoping the poop-on-the-pavers problem is resolved soon.

  28. I enjoyed your blog about your garden. You mentioned hiring a diviner and I found that interesting because my grandfather was a water witch. He used a metal coat hanger instead of a willow switch. He was a rancher and discovered he had the gift when one day he was stringing a barb wire fence and as he walked by a coil of wire, it uncoiled and wrapped around his legs. Apparently it has to do with the electricity in your body. He studied divining and got so good that he found water for many ranchers in the area. He could tell how deep the water was, the volume and how swiftly it was running. One of my cousins has the same gift, but he never developed it.

    1. One of my many great uncles is a very good diviner. He built houses for a living so it was a good skill to have. He also used some cut and unbent coat hangers to divine. I have never heard of other metal reacting to him weird but sounds like a cool way to find a skill.

  29. Absolutely love the garden shed. Its so cute but so practical. The water feature looks so peaceful – a special relaxing place. I just finished the Inn Boonsboro trilogy. Loved it so much, that I almost wish it could go on – a story of the couples raising children, them playing together. I can almost imagine it. Just love your writing.

  30. Woody and I have deal, he kills the bugs and I take care of the snakes. He’s the only person I’ve ever met that actually attracts snakes, they chase him. (I didn’t believe him when he told me this, either, but I’ve seen it multiple times now) I don’t kill them, I re-home them away from the house, lol. Now, with 3 dogs, they tend to stay away. The dead things at your back door sounds like you might have a feline admirer. We had a cat that used to bring me live things, you don’t need coffee to wake up when you open your eyes nose to nose with a chipmunk, lol!! I miss that cat! He passed at 14. Love your books, looking forward to the next many.

  31. Could be worse, my cat likes to leave half eaten snakes in the shower cubicle, I suspects she takes them there to kill them, but I really don’t want to know! Your gardenlooks beautiful, have you considered a statue half hidden in the greenery beside the stream?

  32. Oh my! Love the water feature! I think I could spend all my time there. Of course, unless there are snakes. I am with you on that. I am very terrified of them.

  33. I really enjoyed the chat and pictures of your garden spot. We have had some issues with intense heat early this season. Keep cool and enjoy your beverages, adult and others.

  34. When I read “The Search” I thought it contained everything you needed to know and I always recommend it to people wanting to train their pets. But…..oh, wait….you wrote that. 😉
    I will never forget the “pooptown” references. Still a favorite on audio (I skip the villain parts; sorry) but still pull it out several times a year.

  35. We too seem to have a lot of snakes and mice and moles. (We were told that the snakes eat the mice and moles.) The sudden explosion in the rodent population seemingly caused the boom in the snake population. Still, not my favorite garden fauna however.

    Your garden is lovely and the new water feature will provide you with hours of soothing water medley. I have a stone waterfall (with resident frog!) and its music charms me daily.

    Thank you for sharing bits of your real world. ( currently I’m re reading all the in death books. I’m about a third of the way, and I am enjoying them, as if it was the first time through…)

    Glad your husband coming home soon – happiness is turning over the not so enjoyable homestead reins to capable hands!

  36. this is awesome! nice pictures as well….and yuk on the dead things…even may I say WAY worse that poo…but I can relate to said poo and I only have one big black chocolate doofus to contend wtih..and 3 cats…life is interesting.

  37. I, too, am phobic about snakes. When someone asks me, “What kind of snake?” I, too, reply, “WHAT DOES IT MATTER? IT’S A =SNAKE=!!!” (I read somewhere that’s it’s the third most common phobia in the world, or something, which gives me a little comfort, I suppose.)

    Coming late to the discussion, but in case you happen to read this, I have a potential solution to the dog-poops-on-pavers thing. My new hobby is fostering puppies for a service dog organization, and in addition to socialization (a service puppy goes virtually everywhere with me for 5-6 months, learning how to be a 24/7 companion to his human partner), there’s a lot of basic training involved–such as potty training. To ensure the dog will never be a source of stress or extra work to his disabled partner, a service puppy has to learn poop where his person wants him to poop.

    It’s a bit of a PITA to teach, but it pays off. For a few weeks, each time you take Parner outside, only take him on a leash (until after he’s pottied), and take him to the same area every time, the area where you want him to potty. Use a phrase like “go potty” or “do you business” (whatever), and just keep walking around that area until he does. (While he’s learning, this can be time-consuming, so it involves some planning and patience.) Then when he does, praise him as if he’s just cured cancer and give him a treat. (After he’s all done, you can let him off leash to play then.) Depending on his learning curve, you may be able to forget about the leash after a few days, but still go WITH him and follow the same procedure. Until the days arrives where this is an ingrained habit and he doesn’t need supervision.

    I was also told NOT to scold him if he poops on the pavers, because he might get confused and start thinking maybe he’s supposed to poop inside instead of outside, etc. Rather, when he starts to mess on the pavers, just calmly stop him and lead him over to the area where you want him to poop, and go through the process of telling him to “go potty,” etc. He should pick up the idea of, “oh, right, THIS is where I’m supposed to do that.”

  38. Love reading what you write, whether it’s a book or your blog. Thanks for sharing your talent with us. 🙂

    1. Trying to find last Nora Roberts romance book you’ve written. Rather find out what it is. Do love your books. Also love reading your blogs. Your back yard looks fantastic ! Love it all,,,,sooo relaxing and soothing. You are truly a blessed lady with your talents and where you live. I have the feeling you appreciate it it all.
      Keep on writing and I shall keep on reading. Your books have taught me to enjoy reading again over the last several years. Thank you Nora for sharing your life with is. :0)

  39. Love the Rose of Sharon idea. We have wild roses in front of our porch and the fragrance first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee is heavenly.
    Can hardly wait for the new In Death book. They are my favorite.
    Try moth balls on your pavers for a while. It keeps armadillos from digging under our foundations in Florida.

  40. Yeah, no snake zone here. When we moved in about ten years ago, we literally had a plague of frogs. Tiny, little frogs everywhere. I nearly twisted an ankle just walking to the front door. Then, I had to mow the lawn. It’s difficult to do with your eyes closed.

  41. You have yourself your very own slice of heaven in your back yard, your little stream is amazing and a bench is great but I would want something I could relax on while I’m reading one of your many fabulous books and listening to the water….

  42. Your shed is so lovely and the water area looks so peaceful. I know you will enjoy many hours out there. My Mom was the one who turned me on to your books more than 20 years ago. I read part of a J D Robb book many years ago but just could not get into it….my fault not yours. Then when I had knee replacement I had plenty of time to read and Mom loaned me several of the JD Robb books. Hooked me! I read every JDR you had written and then wanted more! I read on my I pad now and Mom and I wait anxiously for each new book! Thank you for letting your readers know how many books will be in a series because I like to wait until I have them all before reading. Your writing is addictive so you have two die hard fans waiting breathlessly for each new book. I so enjoy reading your blogs about vacations and work around your house. Would love to visit Ireland!
    Your water witch and others sound so great.
    Keep up the great writing and we will keep reading!

  43. I live in Surprise, Arizona, with my husband and our two miniature dachshunds, Rudi and Schatzi, who are both rescue dogs. Since we are now having 100+ degree weather, (it’s supposed to be 110 by the weekend) I’m in the house doing inside projects. I love your gardening shed. I have an art studio in our back yard I ordered from England. My neighbor helped me put it up; it was a job, but worth every splinter! Can you tell I’ve never written something like this? After reading it over, I see it’s a little (?) choppy and not very well thought out. But, it’s going to have to do since I have to run. BUT, I did want you to know you have a HUGE fan writing this. I have all the J.D. Robb books, and almost all of your Nora Roberts books, as well. I’m so very glad you are an author, and an excellent one!

  44. That was funny and so very enjoyable. I have one little dog and understand about picking up the poop. Nora love your books, thank you for sharing with us. Any news on the movie?
    Take care and you are a gift to us.

  45. I had a sweet dog who chased and caught mice, moles and whatever. The last straw was when he regurgitated a whole large mouse at my feet. Seems he didn’t eat them just swallowed them. Sweet Charlie went to a farm. Adore your books and blogs. I have several large Rose of Sharon bushes and they are so beautiful. Can’t wait for Devoted! Thanks Nora!!!

  46. The dead animals on your back porch are being provided for you by your four-legged loved ones. I had a dog that was always worshipping at my altar (back door) by providing me with mice, lizards, baby possums, birds, etc.)
    Love the waterfall/pond idea; seems like a possibly lovely meditation spot.
    Enjoy your books so much that I have gotten my husband to appreciate them by reading to him when we travel. He really likes the JD Robb books, but I believe I have him hooked on The Collector now. I think it’s the whodunit/mystery part of the books that he likes most because he would not admit to enjoying the romance part only.

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