I’m back on my feet—a little shaky, but back—after a nasty bout with vertigo. Hit Thursday morning, and knocked me flat. I had to miss our Girls Night Out as my world was spinning. Felt like crap Friday, but at least I could sit up. Slow but steady progress, and my first sloooow walk around the gardens on Sunday.
I’m not wired to spend three days in bed, but that’s pretty much what I did.
The walk outside lifted my spirits, a lot.
So much progress with all the flowers—though yesterday’s all-day rain has some heavy-headed.
I managed to mostly pack for our upcoming Girl Spa Week. And have to be grateful the vertigo didn’t strike a week later than it did.
I hope to be back to work on Monday.
But on this Mother’s Day, the sun’s shining and my flowers are blooming. Nasturtiums are starting to pop up, delphiniums blooming, yellow flags showing their color. Everything looking happy and healthy.
And of course, my f’ing wings are in place, right behind the front garden wall by our lane. I think they’ll like it there.
Laura’s out of town for a family wedding, so she’ll post this when she gets home. And before she faces the dreaded scoreboard our clever Kat’s making for our spa week.
I’m going to select and organize the Fabulous Prizes, then suspect I’ll take a nap.
I’m not home yet, but had a moment to get this set up. Now to take some deep breaths and ready myself for the scoreboard of doom.
First, it’s been a very long gap on the blog due to reasons. But we’re back!
There’s been a whole bunch going on in the last week or so, and I hope you’ll read the previous blog and consider a donation to EveryLibrary Institute, an organization that fights book banning and library defunding. I can’t stress enough how important I consider this fight for the freedom to read what you choose. And to keep libraries open and thriving.
This isn’t just about my books, and I joined this fight awhile ago. It’s about LGBTQ readers having the right to access books that tell stories with characters who deal with the issues they deal with—and YES, this includes teens. Maybe especially. It’s about books that deal with Black history and the experiences of people of color. It’s about attacking librarians and refusing to let them do the work they’re trained to do. It’s about the right to read what we like without having one person’s opinions and feelings outweigh that right.
As lovers of books, this is your fight, too. Donate. If you can’t, spread the word. You’re on social media or you wouldn’t be reading this. Use social media to stand against the bullies and bigots, and the misinformed.
Now for something happy!
A couple weeks ago, BW and I prepped the garden beds. Prepping included digging out ten million Black-Eyed Susans. I enjoy Susies, but they tend to spread insanely and take over. So we dug, and we dug, and we transplanted where we wanted them to stay.
The happy for me is this cleared more space. So I could get more plants!
And last Friday, I took off work and we headed to our fabulous garden center, Sunny Meadows. It’s so wonderful there, so pleasant, so beautiful. So many pretties, so well tended, to choose from.
We filled the bed of the truck, and then some.
Then, more fun! I spent considerable time setting out, shifting, looking over, changing my mind, setting elsewhere until I had what I wanted.
We spent the whole day doing just that. A gorgeous day, a laborious day, a very, very satisfying day. How I love taking a walk after and seeing the color, the textures, the possibilities.
They didn’t have my precious nasturtiums, but they had seeds! Now I wait for them to start popping up.
They called for rain, and as I’m planting, I ask the Higher Power to just give me more time. Just a little more. Can I have another hour?
And minutes after the job is done, the rain comes. So perfect, and now all the new plants get a good drink!
Saturday, I started on pots. I really didn’t realize I had so many I wanted to fill.
33. 33 pots to fill. What fun!
About the time I finished, Jason, Kat and Griffin drive up. Oh, so much more fun.
Kat tells me that earlier in the week there was a day without school. What shall we do? Griffin says—holding up a finger: I know! Nana’s house.
Can you imagine how delighted that makes me?
We play many games, have many chases. Colt’s here, and Griffin insists he join in. Colt is the very best of cousins.
A happy family weekend, start to finish.
The week’s been work-focused. We’re going back to the Derby next week for the first time in three years, and I’ll be so glad to see our Derby family again. But that means nose to the grindstone.
At least until the book banning bullshit happens. But I deal with that because it’s so very important.
Today, I’m making a pot roast with all the trimmings. I deal with the majority of packing for Derby—and that takes time and thought! But I want that mostly done so I can go nose to the grindstone until we leave on Thursday.
It’s cooler and rainy off and on today, so I may not get my walk-about outside. But it’s good for the new plants, so I’ll take it.
I hope spring’s treating you well, and if you don’t or can’t plant flowers, you can enjoy what others have. And that you can spend some of this weekend reading a book of your choice.
Nora’s deep into book world, tying things up before the family vacation starts in 10 days (daily updates beginning mid-June). So instead of a post, I’m sharing garden photos (the ones I forgot over a week ago 😳).
Hope you’re all enjoying the weekend.
There’s little I like better than saying goodbye to winter. I took the snow we had after Easter as a personal insult. But finally, it’s here!
BW and I hit our nursery—Sunny Meadows is one of my favorite places. Not only because this trip means SPRING, but everything is so beautiful, so well tended. Everyone there is friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. Can’t ask for better.
A truckload later, we’re home, and I get the fun job of setting plants out. What should go where, maybe move that over there instead. I went for a lot of hot colors this year in my annuals. I guess I wanted the vivid and bold. Up and down the garden wall, over to the shady spot.
I’m trying a few Aquapots this year—only water once a week or so. We’ll see how that works.
Now we dig and dig, and dig.
A couple weeks ago, we spent a day digging UP. I love Black-eyed Susans, but jeez! I’m tired of them taking over bed after bed, so up tons of them come. Give them away, transplant, stick some in bare spots, all fine, but now I have two full beds to fill with color.
No longer will the Susies sneak into my herb bed and crowd out my rosemary.
By the end of the day, I see gaps, and make a list. I know what I want, so the next morning after a workout, I head back and fill the back of my car with flats.
Another full day, feeling the sunshine, hearing the birds, watching the gardens and pots come to life.
One more day, just a couple hours, then I make myself a well-deserved Bellini, and walk all around. Ahhhh!
Now we get to watch things grow and spread and bloom.
We’re already fighting the deer, and on my walk to take pictures, I find a geranium pulled out on the patio. PARKER!! Those geranium-filled whiskey barrels are the only planters we don’t have on stands because of Parker’s desperate need to pull out a plant and leave it dying on the ground.
We’ll figure something. At least he’d apparently just done it, so no casualties. Yet.
I’ll go out and dump some cayenne pepper in there, though that doesn’t seem to discourage him very much.
But mostly, I’m just going to enjoy.
Hope everyone in this hemisphere enjoys the rebirth of spring.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Then we spent an entire Saturday–and I mean eight straight hours–planting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.