Category Archives: Nora at home

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.
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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
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Roasted to perfection
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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.
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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.

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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.
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The birthday girl.
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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.

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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.


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

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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.
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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.
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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)

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.

Introducing Parker

A few weeks ago, BW and I kicked around the idea of a back-up dog. Our boys are getting up there. Homer’s 11, Pancho 8–and we remember too well how sad and depressed Homer was when we lost Steinbeck–who’d been his boon companion since Homer was a puppy.

When we rescued Pancho, Homer–who’d done little but lie around grieving for a month, Homer did his doggie happy dance the instant Pancho got out of the truck. They’ve been the best of pals ever since.

So, we thought, maybe we should rescue another dog, so when the sad time comes, we won’t have a grieving pet. We didn’t talk very seriously about it, just we’d do a rescue, maybe go for a Chocolate Lab or mix this time. At least a couple years old.

Then a friend of mine posted about the rescue place she and her family had gone through to adopt their marvelous dog. I thought, well, I’ll just a look.

photo 3-1And there he was, almost immediately. Parker, a two-year old Chocolate Lab/ Wiemaraner mix. With a face I fell for in a blink. As did BW when I sent him the photo and info.

So Monday, Parker came home. Homer and Pancho were thrilled, and Parker seemed pretty happy himself. Lots of sniffing and running, and showing him the ropes. When Homer, who’s always been an old soul, tired of the excitement, he just wandered off to a quiet place to nap, out of the young guy’s way. Pancho had a sulk the next day–like: I thought it was a play date. He’s staying? But that didn’t last, and within another day, he was the one initiating play.

Pancho photobomb.
Pancho photobomb.

In the house, because it was raining all damn week. Normally, I’d move this sort of insanity outside, but I let it ride.

We also learned, fast, Parker had obviously been allowed, probably encouraged, to make himself at home on the bed, on the sofa. Not in this house. We have firm rules. Human bed, dog bed. This was a battle, several days worth. I won.

We also learned he’d only sit for a treat. I insist my dogs sit on command–hand command. I’m happy to report Parker sits like a champ now for pets and praise. Not bad for less than a week’s training.

He’s also been encouraged to jump on people. Another heated battle, but I’m close to winning that one, too. It may be adorable to have a puppy jump, but a full-grown dog, not so much. Especially when you have visitors. We don’t tolerate jumping on people, and while he wants to, so bad–you can see it in his eyes–he’s learned to stop himself when I hold my hand out in that stop gesture. So he’s smart as well as handsome. Loves dogs, kids, people. And my two oldest grandkids are delighted with our addition to the pack. Plus he didn’t jump on my little honorary grandson who turns five in August, and adores dogs. photo 1-2They get along just fine, and I didn’t have to worry about the little guy getting knocked down.

We’d have all been happier with better weather last week–all that rain was great for the plants (and the weeds), but didn’t make it fun to go out and play fetch or race around. Still, the weekend’s been lovely. BW and I worked outside all day yesterday, which made for happy dogs–and happy plants.

My garden shed’s coming along–better weather, it’d be done. But I’m so happy with how it’s going to 2 I discovered the deer have had a good week, too, and are munching down on my day lilies, the Black-Eyed Susans I transplanted, and the false sunflowers just starting to bloom. Fresh deer repellent applied to all today.

So, despite days and days and DAYS of rain, a really good week here. A sweet, funny, happy dog to join our pack, and visits from grandkids. A garden that’s thriving, and a shed that’s on its way to being pretty 1-1

Time to take advantage of the sunshine, and go play fetch. Inside chores can wait.


 photo 4

Blooms, Boys and Ballgames

Those are three of my favorite things, and the weekend offered all. It seems a fair reward for a week focused on writing. 

While May (after a glitch or two) proved itself bonny indeed, exceptional flowers generally come with exceptional weeds. Roses are especially lush around here this spring, and so is our pesky jewel weed. It’s an easy pull, but when you’re dealing with millions–or so it seems when you’re dealing–it’s just annoying. photo 2 (3) photo 3 (3)

We have another area, mostly shady, and it thrives there. We’re nearly finished with The Project–pictures to come on completion–and this area needed serious dealing as it borders The Project. BW hit it hard Saturday morning during my workout, so since I was sweaty anyway, I waded in. I admit this is an area I often assign to him. Jewel weed can get thick and high and the wading through gives me snake willies. They like the thick and high, and I don’t like snakes. 

He’d already pulled a full wheelbarrow of the stuff, so in I went, picking through the yellow flags, lifting up spirea, yanking as I went. Easily another wheelbarrow–and four hostas uncovered. Just fyi, while jewel weed is a PITA, it’s also handy if you encounter poison ivy. Break the stem, run the liquid inside over the skin, and that usually handles that. But still. 

That kind of sweaty, monotonous, ache-in-the-back weeding isn’t the pleasure of tending beds, but it’s done. 

Our reward for what I think of as monkey work? A trip to Camden Yards for a ball game. While I have fond memories of watching games in Memorial Stadium, The Yard is a glorious place. A long haul for us, but as it happens we pull into our assigned lot right behind Jason and Kat. Excellent timing. We and several others are guests of our broker–an annual tradition. We even hit on a give-away. Score! I now have an Oriole orange Rock The Yard tee-shirt. Woo! 

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We head up to our box, and there it is–that perfect baseball brown, green, white. And stands filling up with people and plenty of orange. The perfect lines of the infield, the green, green expanse of the outfield–and all the possibilities of the game played on it. Baseball is poetry to me. 

The O’s are having a good year, and beat Tampa Bay Friday, so we’ll soon see. While many of our group come more to socialize, the game’s the thing for me, and I get to share it with two of my favorite people. 

There’s little more fun than a ball game, a hot dog, and a couple of interesting, enthusiastic (and handsome!) boys. photo (3)I claim a seat next to our host’s sons (their mom is one of our Drunken Spa girls), and we talk baseball. Including the younger one’s Little League team, and how it compares to the O’s. The thrilling crack of the bat on a homer (unfortunately not ours), the balletic choreography of a perfectly executed double play (very fortunately ours), and conversation with boys. Doesn’t get better. 

The O’s didn’t do it for us Saturday–it seemed after the second inning they just couldn’t hit a ball out of the infield–but we had a great time. 

I figured Sunday for an easy day, but it doesn’t turn out that way. BW is doing his part on The Project–the man just has to have his hand in. But he’s, as requested, gotten me a big bucket of compost out of the compostor. That’s good, rich, heavy stuff–heavy enough I have to drag the tub rather than carry it while I side-dress about a quarter of the beds. As he’s still fiddling, I decide to wait for another bucket–shoveling it out would kill my wrist at this point. But I can weed the trouble spots I’m working on bringing back. 

Happily, everything I transplanted is holding–and I’m hoping for the promised rain so I don’t have to drag the hose. It’s been a hot week, and one good soak from the sprinklers aren’t enough for these newly relocated guys. 

My man’s still fiddling. I switch to inside, do a couple of loads of hauling up fall and winter sweatshirts and sweaters, bringing down spring and summer tanks and tees. He’s moved onto the next task on his list, which isn’t my compost, but okay. I, too, have other chores. 

photo 4 (2)My last of the day (gardening day, anyway) is pleasure. I cut and arrange a little vase of flowers. And BW and I have ourselves a drink on the patio before dinner–and before the welcome rain. 

I’m hoping The Project, and the shed refacing will be done this week. That would be a really nice way to welcome June. 

Now a question. Does anyone know the name of this perennial? photo (1)I planted it years and years ago–have divided, transplanted, given away countless clumps. It spreads beautifully, grows pretty much where I plug it, and blooms in pretty yellow every June. But I can’t remember what it is–and have failed in my searches through books and on the internet. I hate not knowing the name of what blooms in my gardens. 

Note from Laura at 12:36 pm on Monday: Sheryl provided the answer in the comments — Yellow Loosestrife.  Thank you for all the suggestions!  I always knew Nora’s readers are the most interesting, well-rounded people and you all just proved that.

And lastly, as requested, here’s Homer. photo 2 (4)


All’s Quiet

At least around here. BW and our younger son headed off to Indy for the race this weekend. Fun for them. And I freely admit I did a little happy dance. Come on, let’s be honest. We love our mates, but a little alone time is . . . ahhhh.

Especially for the solitary type. May has been insane for me. Derby, two weddings, Girls’ Night Out, and next weekend a ballgame. This was the only full weekend home, and I was home alone. Just me and the dogs and the quiet. Oh yeah, big ahhhh. 

I started the weekend with some in-the-house chores. I’m giving the commencement address for Boonsboro High School’s graduation, so wrote that, picked up around the house, did my workout, then hit the garden. While I’m weeding and deadheading, the mobile groomer (I LOVE this service) has the dogs in his big van. By the time they’re done, all clean and shiny and with fresh new bandannas, I’m back to dividing and transplanting since everything I did last weekend seems to be holding. 

There were some questions about fairy gardens, so here’s mine. The backstory here’s a sweet one. Years ago at the far, shadiest end of my garden wall butterflies nested (do they nest?) one spring. Whenever we’d walk by they’d fly out, dozens and dozens of them in a gorgeous cloud. My granddaughter was so charmed, I told her they were fairies. She was, I think, about six. So every year since, she and I have done a fairy garden in that area. 

Faerie garden first view
Faerie garden first view

I change it up–fairies can get bored–but we always plant the foxglove you see in the background, and azuratum and mini fuschia. We put in little statuary, and this year I hung a wind chime on a branch.

Faerie garden second view
Faerie garden second view

It’s also expanded so we have more foxglove, lobelia, red rocket begonias, lungwort, backed by yellow bells that’ll bloom in the summer. Between are the ubiquitous Susies. 

I ended my very satisfying day with a little movie marathon and popcorn. Good deal. 

Sunday, I decide to get my workout done first thing. Not so many chores today. While I’m working out, I hear a bird hit the window. Not the bump that tells me there’s a bird with a little headache, but the violent thump that says broken neck. It happens, sadly. And this, I tell myself as I sweat through crunches, is a job for BW when he gets back. I don’t deal with dead things. It’s in my contract. 

BW’s brought home a couple of plants from Vesta that need repotting. He was going to do it, but they’re still sitting there. It’s a simple little chore, and I don’t mind. After, I start a walk-around, spot a deer up on the ridge behind the house. We have a conversation. You’re beautiful, but stay beautiful up there and out of my garden. I think she’s the same I had this conversation with last week. The dogs see her, too, but aren’t interested. Not even a bark to give her second thoughts about coming down later and munching on my plants. I glance over as Homer walks up to me, tail wagging. And see he’s gently carrying the dead bird in his mouth. 

He’s like George from Of Mice And Men. He really just wants to be friends, and he–as he’s done before–is bringing me his new friend. And is sad when I–as I’ve done before–let out a instinctive squeal, and order him to take that thing somewhere else. He lumbers away. Now and again he’s gotten past me with his friends, and I have to herd him and his pal out of the house. Laura will remember coming over one day, Homer coming in behind her. Is that a toy? she asked me. I glanced down, saw the long tail drooping out of Homer’s mouth. 

Definitely not a toy, but a pretty big dead mouse. The happy smile in his eyes dimmed when I turned him right around and ordered him out. 

He’s not quick enough to catch live ones–and is no more interested in that then barking at the deer. But a dead critter? He’ll pick in up and carry it around for hours. And in fact, hours later I see him lying in the shade, the dead bird snuggled between his paws. Oh well. 

That concluded the excitement of the day. The rest I spent walking around, putzing, watering pots, sweeping patios, walkways, steps, then sitting and admiring the results. With a glass of champagne. Really good deal. 

Shady spot to sit
Shady spot to sit
View from lower patio
View from lower patio
View from back patio
View from back patio

I love working outside with BW, and we’re both lucky to have a mate who’s passionate about gardens and yard work. But a little solo time? Yeah, big ahhhh.


A note from Laura:  Whenever someone comments to me about Nora’s glamorous life, I think of Homer and that mouse.  And just grin.