Category Archives: Nora at home

New Year, New Page

A quiet, family New Year’s around here, and again no big open house with friends and family. Hopefully next year things will be safe enough for a gathering.

We did go away for a week—rented a house again to be safe—and stayed in. It’s lovely to spend that kind of time with family, and just hang.

The view from the house.

Lots of play with the boy time, jigsaw puzzles, a little work, room service—and a Nana makes spaghetti night. Griffin’s a fan of my pasta!

Busy boy.

BW gave me a weird, fascinating, unstructured jigsaw of a moose for Christmas. This would never, ever, never have been done without Kat, the Queen of Chaos. I helped, but she did the heavy work.

The moose

Griffin really enjoys the vacation space. One morning, BW got up and went downstairs before I set up to work out. I went down to get my caffeine and water, and the lower level is quiet but for Griffin, sitting at the dining room table watching Sesame Street on his iPad. Normally Jason gets up with him in the morning as Kat is on any night duty. (The boy occasionally likes to party at 3 am!)

I had heard what I thought was the boy and his dad tromp up the stairs at about six, and thought nothing of it.

I say hi, get my stuff, wonder where Jason is. Hunt BW up who tells me the boy was playing with his trucks on the couch when he came down. Huh.

I realize he got up, didn’t wake his parents, just came up from the lower level where they all sleep, and entertained himself until someone joined him.

So I made him breakfast, then left him under BW’s watch and went up to work out.

Once home, it’s back to work, and the start of my annual full-house purge.

Making progress! All the Christmas stuff is put away, and that’s an accomplishment. Weekdays are for writing, and progress made there, too. Yay.

I found a jar of applesauce of the counter Fri. BW hunts and gathers, and I cook. If I’m around I help him put groceries away, but he got home with them Fri while I was working out. He left out the applesauce which I decoded as a hint. Applesauce Cake?

So Saturday, after workout, after the purge of the One More Room (and organizing Christmas stuff), my office, I made the cake. The purging’s moving right along since I did a serious job of it the last couple years. And the cake’s a nice reward for both of us.

Applesauce cake!

Today, after workout, it’s bake Italian bread to replenish the supply, and get a tortilla soup simmering. Purge dining room and library while soup is simmering and dough’s rising.

Italian bread stocked up.

Snow—expected—starting falling about the time I took the bread out of the oven. Since we’re going nowhere, it’s very pretty. Falling faster and harder now, but still going nowhere, Sunday chores are done, and the house smells of simmering soup and fresh baked bread.

Tortilla soup!

Please stay safe. If you’re not vaxxed and boosted, get vaxxed and boosted. Our Laura’s had her hip surgery postponed twice since hospitals in our area are overrun with Covid patients—over 90% of them unvaxxed.

Take care of yourselves and everyone else, and let’s make 2022 a lot better than 2021.

Oh, and if you want to watch something to pass the time, check out Brazen on Netflix, based on my Brazen Virtue from way back in 1988! They did some serious updating!

Nora’s view of opening credits.

Good deal!

Nora


I’ll share some Brazen content tomorrow. For now, here’s an off camera pic of the stars.~Laura

So September

I know I’m in the minority being sorry to say goodbye to summer heat. But I like September fine. My garden’s still blooming, and the sun’s finally shining again after a deluge of rain. We’re still seeing hummingbirds visiting their feeders or having a taste of my flowers.

I’ll miss all of that when winter blows in, so I’ll enjoy every minute of it I can while it lasts.

As all of us but the two youngest, not-yet-eligble grandkids are vaxxed, we were able to do some carefully selected traveling this summer. Not yet the long-promised trip to Italy for Kayla (hopefully next summer!) but fun family and/or friends time.

But mostly it’s been at-home, and the bright side—-because you have to find it—was more time for the gardens, for the work, more books to read and shows to watch.

My routine is just basically my always routine. Work, work-out, walk the gardens, cook, veg out. So it’s hard to complain when I have a house and grounds I love, work I love, and family and friends who are safe and well.

But, I can bitch a little!

More at-home time occasionally leads to a quick skim of social media where I find someone posting they’re looking forward to me and my 274 pseudonyms retiring. First, I have ONE pseudonym. One. About 40–count them, 40–years ago I used the name Jill March to sell one story to a long-defunct outlet. Used it once and never again. About 30-odd years ago I used the name Sarah Hardesty to publish ONE book in Great Britain because my publisher there insisted my readers would be confused as it was a historical. I pushed back, but I didn’t have the clout to push hard enough. And they soon realized I was right, then were wrong, and that was the end of Sarah Hardesty.

So one pseudonym with J.D. Robb, and that’s it. Other than you’re wrong to this idiot poster, I’d like to add: Bite me regarding retirement. You’re not in competition with me, nor me with you. The only person a writer should compete with is herself—trying to write a better book every time.

Or there’s the inevitable sad (or angry) demand that I stop using swear words in my books. It can be a religious thing: You have to stop taking the Lord’s name in vain! Or a prissy thing: It does your work no credit to use the F word. And usually followed by mini lecture, and often the claim that people don’t talk that way. To which I call bullshit. Yes, bullshit. And to these people I say, please don’t push your personal morals on me or my characters. Find someone else to read if it upsets you. There are lots and lots and lots of books to choose from.

Of course, there’s always the: I KNOW she uses a ghost writer routine. I know this because—no way she’s written that many, because her last book didn’t sound like her to me, because somebody on-line said so, because, because. To those who make this aggravating and false claim, I suggest you spend more time writing your own book.

It bounces around regularly that I chose the name J.D. Robb to hide the fact I’m a woman. Wrong. Absolutely wrong. I chose it because I wanted to use my sons’ initials—and I thought it sounded cool. That’s it. It’s always amazing to me that people who don’t know me, at all, claim to know the workings of my mind.

There’s more, of course, but more would turn this blog into a rant. I’ve concluded that lots and lots of people simply have too much time on their hands—sometimes that includes me!

I’m using some of that time on this September Sunday to work out—already done—walk the garden and cut some flowers for inside—check!—write this blog—almost there—then settle down to some on-line Christmas shopping. Should be fun. Then this evening I’m roasting a pork loin currently marinating, some roasted potatoes, and we’ll have some of the fresh local corn on the cob with that.

That sounds like a happier use of my time than rolling my eyes over someone’s weird-ass social media post.

And Monday morning, I’ll be back at my keyboard—not retired—writing my own book—by myself—which will surely include swear words. Since it’s a Robb I’m working on, let me be clear. I’m a woman.

Nora

Summer Daze

I love summer. I like the heat, the sun, the sudden wild storms, the bursting gardens. I love looking out my window and spotting a hummingbird at the feeder, or hovering over my flowers.

Just yesterday while I was deadheading roses, one of these little flying jewels hovered a foot away from me, watching—like: What’re you doing there? Then zipped over to the roses, fed on two or three before zipping up to a tree branch to rest a minute. Before doing it all again.

That’s a summer bright spot in so many ways to me.

I love being able to work all day, get my workout in, then pour myself a glass of wine and wander all around the gardens.

Too often on these happy journeys I rescue a plant Parker has inexplicably pulled out of a pot. And yes, I’ve tried everything. Hot sauce, cayenne, chili powder, dog repellent, etc, etc. He will not be deterred from this strange habit.

BW is building me benches so we can put the pots up higher on the back patio. I’ve already either done this, or tried to block off pots on the lower.

The deer got through all our efforts and munched on a good chunk of Black-Eyed Susans, but I can take it as I have multitudes—so many I plan to dig up twice as many next year as the massive amount I dug up and passed on or transferred this spring.

We’re also going to dig up a whole hell of a bunch of my yellow flags which have gone insane in the last couple of years. They’re crowding out one of my spirea, and blocking the water feature. I’ve got another place in mind for some, and am passing the rest to Jason and Kat who also have a place.

These babies like their feet wet, and since when I planted (a few!) of them a zillion years ago where we have an underground spring, they’ve grown to like it too much.

I’m also enjoying my new patio fountain. Several years ago we were given this great big white stone urn. It’s lovely, but we had no clue what to do with it. We’re just not great big white stone urn people. Then I discovered these solar powered disk things you can put in bird baths or other vessels.

So we did just that. Jason and BW hauled the big-ass (heavy!) urn out of the pool house and onto the lower patio. Filled it with water—and after we’d charged the solar thing, put it in.

A fountain!

We had our little gang up Friday night for pizza, and swimming after. It’s so great to be able to get together like this again, just spend an evening with family, watch the kids have fun.

Griffin also likes the gardens, and wandering (usually at warp speed) around. This weekend he discovered the bench under the huge Black Walnut tree, and spend a lot of time rolling the walnuts Kat would hand him off the bench. Then bouncing them off the end of the bench.

He makes his own fun.

I love spending time on Saturdays weeding my beds, talking to the flowers, deadheading faded blooms to encourage more. It’s not a chore for me, but a total Zen activity.

And I’m rewarded on those walks with wine most every evening.

I hope on this holiday weekend you’re able to—safely—gather with family and friends. And have something that offers you the easy joy my garden offers me.

I’m going to close with the ultimate in Random Katness. Those who followed the travelogue know BW found some buffalo fur in our yard (then Kat found more). Kat, in her Kat way devised a make-shift spinning wheel. (She actually has a real one at home.) She washed and dried the fur, spun it into yarn.

And she made this.

It now resides in our library, and will make me smile every time I see it.

Nora

Grab Some Happy

I’m going to get on and off this part of the blog pretty quick. Laura’s been dealing with a surprising amount of negativity and–it must be said–rudeness–on the FB pages. A whole bunch of whining, complaining, even accusations. Just a world of negativity which I’ve certainly noticed has become so unfortunately prevalent over the last year or so.

It’s always been there, but now it’s grown and spread.

For some it’s never enough. What I write or don’t, my publication schedule, what Laura posts on the Robb and Roberts pages–and baffling to me–the fact that she does those posts and I don’t.

I’m going to say this, then move on. When Laura, who has more patience and diplomacy in one hand than I have in my entire body reaches her limit, it’s gone way too far.

So to those who want to use those forums to complain, to demand, to accuse and slap at her, or me, time’s up. I suggest you just grab some happy. Enjoy what we’re able to provide–or don’t and go elsewhere where you can find that happy.

And now I’d like to offer some happy–or at least what makes me happy.

Spring!!!

Despite a–again RUDE–overnight drop into the low 30s last week, it’s here. Everything’s blooming and greening. And I can, finally, dig in the dirt again.

BW and I–vaxxed and masked–hit our favorite nursery. We not only filled the bed of the truck (okay, that’s really on me!) with plants, but needed to wedge a couple flats into the cab.

The truckload of happy.

Then we spent an entire Saturday–and I mean eight straight hours–planting.

Cleared away and basking in the light.
Peaceful spot

I love setting plants out, stepping back, considering, moving them. It’s a lot like writing for me. I see it this way, but . . . hmm, maybe change that little thing there, see how that works.

Then it’s dig, dig, dig.

Some magical help with the digging.

And it all makes me happy.

I’m trying a canna lily this year (need to get a photo of that). My grandmother had a flood of them, and I’ve always loved them. But in my zone, I’ll need to lift the rhizome in the fall, store it properly, then divide it properly and replant every spring. I always hesitated, afraid, I’d fail.

Well, you can’t succeed if you don’t at least try. So this is the year I try.

The beds are so pretty with all their new inhabitants–and I planted the nasturtium seeds the wonderful Laura picked up for me.

Nasturtiums will pop up in front.

BW left to spend a little time with guy pals at the beach (everyone’s vaxxed!) so I did the pots solo on Sunday. Many satisfying hours last Sunday.

The always popular Face pot (it was a long ago gift).

And the result makes me happy.

Now begins the Deer War. I’m heading out to spray repellent when I finish the blog. We have more repellent hanging all over, and my trusty air horn.

In addition, Parker has already pulled three plants out of pots–I got there in time to save them. We’re solving most of this baffling problem by putting most of the pots up, and I add cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes to the pots he can reach. But in those he can easily reach he’s actually eaten off the top blooms of all the lantana. JUST the lantana. (This is a new deal with him.)

It just be tasty, but this will not stand!!

More happy came this weekend when Logan–who gets his first shot this week now that he’s eligible–brought up his new puppy. He turned 17 (!!!!) yesterday, and this was his much-desired birthday gift from his mom.

A boy and his new best friend.
Meet Alaska.

Alaska is a Malamute-Husky mix, a girl, a very, very pretty girl with one brown eye, one blue. She’s fun and sweet and VERY energetic. I only managed one picture when she wasn’t moving.

I walked her out to show her where good dogs go to do their business around here, and she discovered the water feature. It was like she discovered Disneyland.

She jumped, splashed, spun–face-planted in the mulch, and made me really happy.

She also made Parker and Atticus happy. And before the day was done, she ruled them both.

More happy when Jason, Kat and Griffin came up. Kat’s fully vaxxed, and Jason gets his second shot tomorrow. What a relief!

Griffin also loves the water feature. And loves walking all over the property. He stopped several times at my pots and had conversations with the flowers. Long, cheerful ones.

No licking at the water feature!!!

The boy also loves bubbles! One of the words he’ll regularly say is Bubbles! He has plenty of words, but picks and chooses when to use them. He latest is two words, delivered with the tone and look of a teenager to his mom. I KNOW!

That bubble concentration.

Makes me laugh!

Bubbles make him incredibly happy. So they make me happy, too.

Logan’s mom–fully vaxxed!–came up, and she and Logan gave Alaska a bath (much needed) in my laundry room sink. It’s so sweet to see how Alaska and her human have bonded

We were able to do what we couldn’t last year, and have a little celebration–pizza and a cookie cake–Logan’s fave. It made me beyond happy to have two of my grandchilden, my son, my daughter-in-law, and my friend and former daughter-in-law safely together in my home again.

Can you believe it? 17!

Kayla–also fully vaxxed–comes home from her first year in college in a couple weeks. I can’t wait to see her!

Get that shot in the arm if you haven’t yet. Protect yourself, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your community, your country and your planet.

Make yourself happy.

Bay laurel just outside the gym.

If flowers and gardening, if puppies and bubbles, if handsome teenage boys and adorable toddlers don’t make you happy, find what does and grab it.

There’s enough sad and sorry in the world. Instead of pushing that out there, push out that happy.

Nora


Quick note from Laura: For a little more happy, I thought I’d share a little little secret…there’s rumor (to yet be confirmed) that a Stupid Scoreboard may be in my future. Aaargh — you don’t see a pal for nearly a year and she think THAT’S a good way to reconnect? [insert eye roll here.] Stay tuned.

From a recent morning walk,

Nothing Much Going On

Which is the reason I haven’t done many blogs over the last few months.

I write, workout, cook. On the weekends, I clean and do more involved cooking, and often some baking.

Foccaccia

That’s pretty much how it goes.

I was able to see Kayla over her spring break as she came home. And as she lives in a dorm and NC includes dorm living in their eligibility, she’s had her first vaccine shot, and will get her second this month.

We get to see Griffin every couple weeks. One of his favorite things is to prance his way all the way down (1/4 mile!) the lane, check out the creek.

A boy and his bubbles

Happily BW and I both have our shots. It’s a major relief, and I’m grateful to everyone who made them possible, and the scores of people giving countless hours getting those shots into arms.

So we we were able, at last, to have Logan and Colt up for dinner with their Mom.

Still, the numbers are going the wrong way here in MD, so we continue to be very cautious.

However, in a couple weeks, I’ll be hitting my favorite nursery for plants—and there I can’t wait! Meanwhile, we battle the deer. I don’t see herds of a dozen the way I did before we tried a new repellent—and bought an air horn! But some still come around and have to be chased off.

Pop of color.
Early blooms.

Parker tore an ankle tendon last November, so had surgery early December, and after many checkups, pampering and PT which he enjoyed entirely too much, is fully recovered.

My tulip magnolia got in a hurry and decided to bud up right before we had a serious cold snap. I’m waiting to see if we’ll get a show from it this year. But we do have other, hopeful signs off spring cropping up.

Today I’m making chicken en cocotte—took a pic before I put it in the oven. The house smells glorious—like a farmhouse in Provence!

A taste of Provence

And with that doing its thing, I’m going to curl up with a book for awhile.

Nora

I’m Ready!

The last little package arrived. I’ll gift bag that sucker and be done with the wrapping, ribboning, bowing and tagging.

Gifts to pals I won’t see this year, shipped weeks ago, and most landed where they’re meant to be.

Tree up, mantels dressed, candles lit.

Thanks to Kayla and a marathon baking day, we have tons of cookies. I stood as baker’s assistant while she did the real work–and a lot of work it was. Also delicious.

Getting Grandda into the act
Cookie Boss

 I’ll sneak in a Nana brag as our college girl got her grades. Straight As. 

We had a really fun, laborious day together. I miss seeing my grandboys, and having the gang baking in the kitchen. Next year–I hold onto next year.

I miss holiday celebrations and time with my friends. Next year.

Obviously, we won’t have our big bash of a New Year’s Day Open House this year. But next year.

And I admit, sometimes it gets me down. It’s hard not to hang out with friends and family, hard to cut out long-held traditions, hard to give up all those personal contacts, the hugs, the laughs, the simple, basic pleasure of being together. 

But next year.

I’ve got plenty of work to keep me busy. Writing, for me, has always been a blessing, but maybe never as much as in 2020. It gets me going in the morning, helps keep me from dwelling–too much–on everything else.

Then there’s the weekend cleaning/cooking/baking routine. It helps, too.

But boy, will I happily pass my toilet brush to someone else next year.I’ll buy them new ones! Gold-plated toilet brushes if they want. And shiny silver buckets, jewel-encrusted scrub brushes! Whatever it takes.

Meanwhile, it all keeps me busy, and somewhat sane.

Last week’s snowday view.

Also keeping us busy around here is Parker who had surgery last week for a torn ankle tendon. He’s recovering well, but JESUS! he now requires pretty much constant care. No opening the door so the dogs can stroll out and do what they do. Bag that cast, use a leash, walk him out, try to avoid having the Cone Of Shame bash you in the calves and shins. 

Parker and his new accessory.

He and Atticus both have the sads over the situation. But this, too, will pass. Next year.

Meanwhile meanwhile, the house is festive, and that perks me up.

Best, Jason, Kat and Griffin will come for Christmas as we’ve continued our careful bubble. I’m incredibly lucky there. We’ll have a late brunch once they get here, then tear into the presents. And won’t it be fun to watch a two-year old discover new toys under the tree?

Since Kat can’t eat mammals (reaction to a tick bite) we’ll have lasagna for dinner–with a salad bar to start, garlic bread from the Italian bread I baked last weekend, and an ice cream bar for dessert.

Then we’ll watch the new Wonder Woman. Yay!!

Not our usual Christmas, but we’ll make it happy. Then there’s next year. Next year, Kayla won’t have to haul all the gifts from here to her family because we’ll all be together. We’ll be together–family and friends–because we’re apart now keeping each other safe. And that’s the most loving thing we can do.

I’m wishing all our health care workers, our first responders, teachers, front line workers, delivery workers, USPS workers, grocery workers, and all those who’ve done so much, worked so hard to keep us all safe, to care for us, to keep it all going the best holiday possible. And a better, brighter new year.

I wish the same for all of you.

When I light my candles tonight, I’ll light them with that wish for all.

Next year will be better, and it will be brighter. But for now, we’ll make the now as solid and safe and shiny as we can.

Nora

Back To Our Regularly Scheduled

So that* happened.

And before it did, I’d planned to blog a bit about our holiday feast.

Your monthly dose of Griffin

In the time of Covid, we’re focused on staying safe. We have a bubble going with Jason, Kat and Griffin with all the adults working at home, not going out other than when necessary. Masks, sanitizer, hand washing, and all of it.

2021 has to be better, and we all want to get there.

Kayla’s also part of our bubble when she’s here. Before she drove home from college, she and her dorm mates got tested, then switched to all on-line classes to self-quarantine. They didn’t want to bring anything home but themselves.

Smart girls!

So we could have our little group for our big feast.

And I had a lot of help in the kitchen.

Pie baking—apple and pumpkin on Wednesday, and a pasta meal.

The most efficient diner in the house.

Griffin turned two the end of October, and he’s spent about ten months now at home, just his parents. We didn’t see them for the first three or four months of the pandemic, so the boy and I had to inch our way back. It’s a long time in a toddler’s life.

He’d play on the floor with me, walk outside, babble. But I was not allowed to pick him up or hold him. Uh-uh, Mom or Dad only! So no snuggles through spring, summer, into the fall.

We had a breakthrough—more to be grateful for. Last October I bought him this crazy little robot toy on the way to New York. It plays an incredibly repetitive nonsense song while it dances around and shoots out light.

At one, it terrified him. So away it went.

Now, he’s two, so let’s see what he thinks of it.

Interesting….let me stand way over here and observe it. Okay, now I must touch. And laugh. And dance. Nana dances, too. And for the first time since February, he wants me to pick him up. And we dance with the robot.

I lift weights three times a week, but the boy weighs 35 dense pounds. As my arms give out, I think we’ll sit on this kitchen stool and watch the robot.

No, we won’t! Dance, Nana, dance. And I get a hug for it.

Worth spaghetti arms.

A bonus for the feast.

We’ve got turkey, stuffing—and a meatless dressing for our veggie. Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, roasted Brussel sprouts, roasted cauliflower—much peeled and chopped by Jason, veggies roasted by Kat as I handled making the gravy and other dishes. Homemade cranberry sauce, succotash, deviled eggs, a pretty round of sour dough bread.

A thankful meal

Pie for days.

Nobody went hungry.

Before and after I’ve been at the keyboard through the week, working out after the writing day, then, with zombie book brain, signing tubs of books from TTP, and crashing.

On weekends, since we’re still stuck in COVID, it’s clean. No more weekly housekeeper—not since March. So I scrub toilets and floors and all the rest with my faithful sidekick BW. And I cook, and I bake.

Trying some new breads—and as Jason has become a pandemic bread baker, or as Kat calls him The Bread Wizard—we’ve exchanged recipes.

I made his Irish Soda bread—yum! Then tried my hand at Stottie bread. Also yum.

Irish soda bread.

 

Stottie bread
Italian bread

And since Christmas is coming, I shop on line.

Which is finished!!!!

Since it’s finished, there’s wrapping (Kayla’s helping!) gift bagging, and shortly shipping gifts to pals I can’t gather with this holiday. I miss them!

And there’s decorating. We all need some cheer, especially in 2020. I’ve got a start on that, and will likely finish this weekend.

Just the start of the display

It’ll be a quieter Christmas than usual, with no New Year’s Day Open House to follow. But we’ll stay safe, look out for each other, take the blessings we have and treasure them.

Wishing the same for all of you through the holiday season and beyond.

2021 can’t possible suck this much.

Nora


*What happened? Basically, comments in The Awakening discussion thread were picked up on Twitter and six days after Nora dealt with the issue, we had a blog breakdown from all the people rushing in to read the comments. No need to add anything, just filling you in. ~Laura

Keeping on and keeping up

I imagine that’s what we’re all trying to do as we move into COVID fall.

Around here, we’ve got a routine going, and routines always keep me steadier. I’m writing away, and that always keeps me sane and steady. I recently finished next fall’s In Death—and no! We’re not telling you anything about it yet.

Now I’m working on Book Two of The Dragon Heart Legacy trilogy. Fantasy’s a fun place to go when reality is particularly hard.

Weekends are for cleaning, cooking, baking. Not much gardening recently as herds—and I mean herds—of deer gobbled up at last half my gardens. Nothing stopped them this year—not repellant, not dogs, not whirligigs, not nothing, not no how. Twice I went out and chased about ten away. And we have a good-sized fawn—still spotted—who has come right up to my kitchen window—three times—still chewing on one of my shrubs.

Despite them, I have some bright spots out there.

I’ve harvested, chopped and frozen in ice cube trays my oregano and my basil. I now have a couple of big freezer bags of both for all those soups, sauces and stews I’ll make through fall and winter. Rosemary yet to deal with.

Laura’s branch vase

Snipped a few flowers for the pretty vase Laura made me. The ones with the tiny orange flowers attract hummingbirds so I plant a good flow of them every spring. We have a couple of feeders which they frequent, but I watched one spend at least five full minutes going from one of these tiny flowers to the next the other day. He actually had to fly up to a tree branch to rest for a minute, then came back and did it all again.

They’ll migrate soon, and I’ll miss them over the winter.

We brought in my lemon tree—we’ve had a couple of very cool nights—and I picked the last three lemons of this crop. Sweet!

Lemon harvest


I also had some coleus volunteer in the river rock beside the pot where I plant it every spring. These volunteers must have popped up from seeds blown out from last year. I managed to dig them up and pot them. Am happy to report after a week in the pool house, they’re doing well. Nice houseplants, and a nice reminder of spring and summer.

Coleus ready to winter


And every couple weeks, Jason and Kat and Griffin visit. That’s the real bright spot. He’s such a little boy now, and full of energy and toddler babbling. One of his favorite games is to set up some barrier—a box, a laundry basket, whatever, then chase of be chased around it by one or both of his parents until he just flops down exhausted.

This little man is nearly 2!


Kayla is staying safe in college, and it’s clear from our Face Times (at least once a week) and texting, college agrees with her.

BW stays busy, and this week finished a project I so much wanted. He added lights to the built-ins he built years and years ago. It’s exactly what I wanted, and makes me ridiculously happy.

Cabinets aglow. (And yes that’s a portrait of Nora and BW as Rick and Ilsa.)

Today, heavy sigh, it’s back to the dentist (other than the magical week at The Greenbrier, the only place I’ve gone since March) for two more crowns. My teeth are the nemesis in my mouth. I’ll stop on the way home for a flu shot, then expect to hunker in, once again, likely until spring.

We’ll vote by mail. And here’s your PSA for the day. Vote. Vote safely in person or by mail, vote early if you can, but VOTE. It’s both your right and your responsibility.

That’s really about it from my home front. I’m going to relax in my clean house for awhile!

As always, stay safe.

Nora


Just a little fall from Laura’s neck of the woods.

The In Between

That’s where I am today as I finished a book yesterday and will start another in a couple days. So today is In Between, and I’ll use it to do a few little chores, give more thought to that next book and . . . something. I’m sure I’ll find the something. [Note from Laura — title to come later.]

I have nothing special or really interesting to report, so I’m sending Laura a crap-ton of photos. She can choose which are blog-worthy and how many to post.

Initializing crap-ton of photos in 3..2..1

We battle the deer. We’ve done it all, but they persist. Looks like the got most of my lilies again this year, and even nibbled on a couple deer-resistant plants. I hope Bambi got a belly ache.

Pot collection
Tomato/potato alley

When side-dressing with compost this past weekend–and as always when gardening, scanning the area well first–I spotted the last few inches of a slithering copperhead. Fortunately, BW was just around the side of the house, and rushed to the rescue as I managed my
distress call.

Snake! Snake! Copperhead! SHIT!!!!

He dispatched said invader while I waited in the house. He said it was a 30″-er. (We’re going to need a bigger shovel!) I thereafter assigned BW to compost duty. I can handle spiders, I hope to find worms when I dig, I tell the bees just to back off as what I’m doing is good for them, too, but I have a visceral fear of snakes.

Parker continues to nose and poke into my pots–even with a variety of dog-away tricks I’ve put in with the flowers. He is the guilty party. Atticus has proven himself innocent. I had to completely redo a bed he destroyed early in the spring, but I like to think it looks like I meant it to look just the way it does now.

Parker the Perpetrator
Atticus the Innocent

We cleaned the sunroom area of our pool house awhile back, repotted plants desperate for it. And my should also be re-potted bromiliad threw out three gorgeous blooms.

The Blooms! The Blooms!

A bird decided the potting bench BW made me for mother’s day would be a fine place for her nest. She gets very cranky if we get too close, so I guess I won’t be using it any time soon.

Weekends continue to focus on serious house cleaning, cooking and gardening. I’m learning different vegetarian dishes to make for Kayla. This past weekend, Spanish beans and rice–which BW also enjoyed.

The writing, the domestic work, the flowers, help keep me relatively sane during this long period of global In Between. Even for a hermit like me, this wears. And I know just how lucky I am to have this place where I can work outside, or just walk outside, where we’re safe. And I know my family is staying safe.

I hope all of you are staying relatively sane, and very safe. I hope you’re finding ways to connect with family and friends during this long In Between.

Eventually we’ll come out the other side. So mask up, wash your hands, and find something in your In Between that brings you joy.

Nora


Came back in to add a photo since there have been a couple of comments on the dragon. I take shots in Nora’s garden most years — just not 2020. Took the dragon photo last July after the summer signing.

Pondering

So It’s Summer

If things were usual, we’d be heading out tomorrow for two weeks in Italy—Kayla’s big graduation trip. Bright side of this disappointment, is we’re re-booked to go next year. Something to look forward to.

Meanwhile, our girl has graduated, with honors, and they were able to hold a safe and lovely outdoor ceremony. I’m so glad she got that moment in cap and gown. Though her prom was canceled, she dressed herself up in her gorgeous dress for pictures.

Congratulations!
Elegant in aubergine.

Since we’ve all been staying home, we decided we could merge our bubbles with Jason, Kat and Griffin last weekend. It was beyond wonderful to see them all again, have some time together. A full fifth of Griffin’s life has been spent at home, with just Mom and Dad. A long, long time.

I could see memories click, bit by bit, and though it took him time to start warming up to Nana again, by Monday morning before they headed out, we got there.

The boy loves water in all forms. Nana bribed him with the hose. Nana is no fool!

If you press here….

This happens!

And he loved just walking around outside—took his Dad on several adventures. Sunday night the three of us walked out so he could see the solar lights glowing. Jason took one of my all-time favorite pictures of Griffin staring up at the magic ball I got last year at Greenbrier.

Wonder

Otherwise, it’s routine, routine, and more routine around here. Cooking, working out, cleaning, writing, gardening. And the annual Deer Wars. I was just out weeding and saw they’ve come right up the drive at the back of my house, mowing down Black-Eyed Susans and Purple Cone Flowers.

My dogs are useless here apparently.

Worse, they’re still (or Parker is) nosing in my pots. Despite hot sauce, red pepper flakes, vinegar soaked coffee filters.

Another battle in another war.

Still, the gardens look lovely—especially if I squint when I pass the damage. And my hydrangeas are absolutely awesome this year.

We continue to stay home, rarely venturing out. We did participate in the very peaceful—100% masked—protest in Boonsboro. I’ve lived here for decades, and believe this is a first. About a hundred people gathered for it, and that‘ s huge for a small rural town.

So that makes three times I’ve left the property since March 8–the others being dentist appointments. And all good there for now!!

Today with the weekend cleaning and cooking and baking and gardening done, I’m either sitting down to proof galleys or to give myself a break and read someone else’s book.

Stay safe, stay well, enjoy the flowers and the long, bright days of summer.

Nora