My Helper

Zekie posing for the camera!

As much trouble as Zekie has been over the years, he is a great dog. Read about some of his antics at the following link. Zekie the Wonder Dog

His major problem is that he can’t stand to be away from me. At all. He starts to get worked up if I so much as go outside to get the mail. He is a little better since our vet put him on Prozac last year. Now when I go outside without him, he no longer jumps on the dining room table to watch me through the window. He just flings himself at me and jumps on me repeatedly upon my return, reveling in the joy of seeing me again. He is so ecstatic to see me that this often results in bruises for me, sometimes in the shape of a pawprint! It is hard to get too upset with him in the face of such adoration.

This brings me to today’s Zekie Tale. My husband has been hand digging a trench for a home maintenance project. He digs just a little each day and then goes on to another project. For the last week or so, the part he is digging crosses a corner of the dog pasture. The dogs are usually outside with my husband while he is digging. Hubby put up snow fence at my suggestion to keep the dogs, especially Cassius, a crazy greyhound prone to getting the zoomies, out of the construction site. I feared that in one of Cassius’ loops sprinting at top speed around the perimeter of the pasture, he would fall in the two-foot-deep trench and break a leg. Hence, the snow fence went up to prevent this. The dogs can still get to the trench area but have to go around the fence and past the piles of fill dirt to get there.

This portion of the project is nearing its end. I went outside today to help my husband with the last ten-foot section crossing the pasture. I was down in the trench, first doing a little shoveling of loose dirt out of the trench, and then just for fun, I tried picking with the mattock for a while to see what it was like. A lot of work, that’s what it was like!

The dogs have shown no interest in the project the entire time my husband has been out there working. Today, since I was out in the trench, things changed. Zekie watched me for a while. He got down in the end of the trench about 30 feet ahead of me. He looked around and then got out of the trench. A little while later Cassius came over to check out the trench. He looked at me a bit, hopped in the trench and soon jumped back out. Hubby and I looked up a bit later to see Zekie lying beside the trench with his head down in it. Shortly thereafter I checked on Zekie again. He was down in the trench, and he was using his front paws to dig. His efforts were making the trench longer. He looked up and saw us watching, so he kept digging. It was obvious he was helping us!

I told my husband, “Zekie is a people person”. My husband asserted that Zekie is not a person. I don’t think Zekie is aware of this. His mama was working on a project, so he joined right in. He wants to be a part of everything I do. If I could explain to him that if he kept control of himself, he could go more places with me, his would be a happier life. I have not given up hope. Zekie is eight years old now. That is the age my wonderful dog Duncan was when he went from being referred to as the sheltie from hell to my best friend.

Zekie gazing at is mama.

Metamorphosis of a Garden

2013 vs. 2022

Hard work pays off! When I moved here in 2003, our current patio area was nothing but a side yard of grass. Shortly thereafter, my brother built me a small pond with a liner, some nice stones around the edge, and stocked it with goldfish. It was lovely. May you be blessed with such a brother. Some frogs moved in, and a blue heron occasionally stopped for a snack of goldfish (not the crackers!) before we could chase him off.

Fast forward 10 years. My husband changed the pond to photo number one above. It went through a few iterations before it got to this stage. At first, we had the fountain/pool, but it was not chlorinated. The water was a little green which the frogs were fine with. I would get in to cool off even with the frogs. We don’t have air conditioning and the frogs were willing to share. There was even one frog who became tame. He would sit on my shoulder as I walked around in the water. There were other frogs who would sit in my hand. I loved my frogs. I know, I’m a dang weirdo.

As the area was transitioning from grass to enclosed patio, my husband decided to start chlorinating the water, so it would be more hospitable to guests. Apparently, not everyone enjoys swimming with frogs. Any frogs that were left that spring were transitioned to our neighbor’s pond and our fountain/pool became a more maintained setting.

Baxter enjoying patio time this afternoon.

After the footers were poured, every year a new section of flagstone was installed by my husband to increase the patio area. New sandstone flowerbeds beds were added one by one. Sections of wall and fence went in over the years. I started spending significantly more time there the year the section of fence was added that made the enclosure complete. This meant that the dogs could join us and no longer had to stay in the house or their pasture. It’s true, everything’s better with dogs!

The pergola went up a few years ago, thanks to you know who. Thanks hubby! We are growing grapes on it in an attempt to provide some shade near the pool. People ask me whether this is a fountain or a pool or exactly what it is. I never know how to respond. It is a fountain. The centerpiece (designed, poured, and installed by my husband) splashes, mixes the water, prevents mosquitoes (which won’t hatch unless the water has been still for two weeks), and makes a nice noise. It is also a pool. The water is four feet deep. We get in and out via a ladder that we put in and take out when not in use. We swim. We have pool lounge chairs that we float around on. I drink iced tea and read books while I float around. I guess the only answer is, it is all of those things. It only depends what purpose we are using it for in the moment.

Last but not least, I will share a few flower photos that I took today when I was done swimming. Admittedly, I wasn’t actually swimming. I was standing the water while reading a book and cooling off. This was our first time in the water this year. I was so hot from running the mini tiller to weed the vegetable garden that I couldn’t resist. The water temperature was 75 degrees and it felt so refreshing after hauling the tiller around the garden.

Our patio and gardens have undergone a metamorphosis over the years as you can see from the two photos taken nine years apart. It is a labor of love, requiring dedication and hard work. We hope to be able to share it with more people as Covid slows down. It was an oasis for us during those rough times. I hope it can be an oasis for others as well.

White mandevilla
First hibiscus bloom of the year!
Two drift roses with lavendar in front.
Urn with verbena and zinnia.

Books I Read in May 2022

This is where I like to read in the summer.

My list of books read last month covers a gamut of styles. I had a lot of non-fiction books. I like to keep two books going at once when I do that, one fiction and one non-fiction. What I read varies depending on my mood and level of concentration. If I want to escape and relax, I pick up the fiction book and read that. If I am hanging out with someone else or watching television, I have a non-fiction book that I peruse and read sections of between conversations or during commercials. Here are my selections from last month.

  1. Fox Crossing-Melinda Metz

Fox Crossing is the stepping off point before the 100 Mile Wilderness portion of the Appalachian Trail. It leads to Mount Katahdin. Annie runs her family’s outfitting store and gives advice, often unsolicited, to hikers. Many of them, like Nick, don’t take the advice. Annie has performed emergency rescues of 27 hikers. Nick makes it 28. Nick is popular with Annie’s friends and moves to Fox Crossing to start a school to teach other hikers by hiring local experts. Will he get Annie to teach as well, considering the flames between them?

2. Sunrise by the Sea-Jenny Colgan

Marisa was born and raised in England but comes from an Italian family. After her grandfather dies, she develops such anxiety that she can’t leave her apartment or maintain contact with the outside world. Through distressing circumstances, she finds herself living in Cornwall. Her first outreach is to Skype with her crotchety grandmother. This becomes a regular thing. She has unavoidable contact with the man in the flat next door. Between her grandmother, her therapist, and the man next door, she grows strong enough to venture out briefly. She meets Polly and begins working at Polly’s bakery. Disasters strike and Marisa learns that she is strong enough to take life on after all.

3. Funny Farm-Laurie Zaleski (Non-Fiction)

The author tells her story by interspersing a narrative of her life with the animals she has encountered and rescued along the way. We meet all kinds of animals from typical pets to farm animals. I get the feeling that if I met Laurie, we would become fast friends.

4. The Handmade Market Place-Kari Chapin (Non-Fiction)

A book detailing how to sell your crafts. Covers things you need to know, from choosing your brand to becoming part of the craft community to marketing and sales electronically as well as in person.

5. The Sweet Life-Suzanne Woods Fisher

Marnie and Dawn Dixon, mother and daughter, vacation on Cape Cod. It was supposed to be Dawn’s honeymoon, but her fiancé backed out. She and her mother went on the trip anyway to relax. Marnie is recently widowed and looking for a change and new purpose for her life. Always spontaneous, Marnie buys an ice cream shop in need of repairs. Dawn, always cautious agrees to help for the summer, figuring they can sell at the end of the summer. Sometimes the relationships we make as life happens give us new family. Dawn and her deceased father spent many hours making ice cream. It had been his dream to open an ice cream shop after retirement. Now they are doing it without him. Can you live your dream rather than do what is expected?

6. Lavender, 50 Self-Care Recipes and Projects for Natural Wellness-Bonnie Louise Gillis (Non-Fiction)

This book contains everything you need to know about lavender. And things I didn’t even know that I needed to know! Tips on growing, harvesting, and using the different types of lavender and which is best for each purpose. I think I will be growing more lavender.

7. Half Baked Harvest Every Day-Tieghan Gerard (Non-Fiction)

This cookbook has lots of yummy looking recipes. I am unlikely to prepare any of them because most require an ingredient that I don’t have or need more prep work than I am willing to do.

8. Fat Girls Hiking-Summer Michaud-Skog (Non-fiction)

Not what I expected. I read it anyway. Sometimes I like to read books to see how other people think. This is not a weight loss or self improvement book. It is about self acceptance. There is no body shaming. Many members are fat, lesbian people. Those with physical disabilities are also encouraged to hike. One quarter of hikes are to be on ADA (Americans with Disabilities Association) accessible trails.

Magazines-Country Living, Yankee

I don’t really have a strong favorite from this list to recommend to you. If forced to pick, I would probably go with The Sweet Life. Mostly because I really like ice cream and have thought about trying to make it myself with a home ice cream maker. What fun it would be to come up with your own flavor combinations! And I know a few people who are lactose intolerant. I could also make lots of almond milk-based ice creams. The flavor selections on non-dairy ice creams are limited and I could provide endless options.

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What’s Blooming Now?

Weigelia close-up
The Monet Weigelia

This post is full of photos that I took in our gardens last week. We have been so busy buying new plants, planting the new plants, and weeding and mulching that I am just now getting around to sharing.

The photo above is of my favorite weigelia. It is a variegated weigelia. I love all things variegated. I have also heard it called a Monet weigelia. I am going to use the Monet moniker for mine because it just sounds so cool! Who doesn’t want a Monet weigelia to make you think of a great artist with beautiful gardens? And the term really fits. The flowers are white and pastel pink and bright pink and dark rose. Not to mention the fact that the leaves are green and white with varying patterns. The complementary splashes of colors make for an impressive plant! I pruned it last year and the show it put on this year was my reward.

Clematis

I no longer remember what variety of clematis this is. We have two types and this one blooms first. It blooms heavily and for a long time. Then it rests a little while and gives another round of blooms. I recently learned that you are supposed to prune clematis. Before that I had no idea, so this one never had been. It is a monster in size, with roots growing up to a couple feet away from where the original roots where planted. I found one entirely new rootling and separated it to plant on my rose trellis since the rose is having an off year. I’m sure there are other rootlings in there to if I look for them amongst the jungle of stalks. I cut some dead stems from this plant late last fall. I don’t know that I will trim it anymore than that since this plant has always provided us hundreds of blooms. Why mess with a good thing?

Purple columbine
Pink columbine

We just got the fancy purple and white columbine this year. We hadn’t planned to buy one, but when we saw this at the box store, we had to have it. We have had the pink columbine for years. I don’t even know where it came from. It just showed up. Either the chipmunks brought the seed, or it was carried on the wind. And new seedlings continue to show up in unexpected places. Sometimes I leave them alone and just enjoy the flowers, like the one that planted itself in between a rock and some bricks at the base of my rose bed. It looks whimsical there. The pink columbine’s favorite place to reseed seems to be in the crack of the sidewalk leading up to our side door. These I gently pull out and transplant elsewhere. They are never happy the first year I move them, but they come back the following year in fine form. I’m sure they wouldn’t survive in the sidewalk with the dogs trampling them multiple times each day. This year I found one growing between the steps leading up to our side porch. It now resides in a flower bed beside some foxglove. I hope the new purple columbine reseeds as prolifically as the pink.

Lupine

This is another plant that is new to us this year. If I had realized the lupine was such a large, substantial plant, I would have gotten one years ago. The spike with the blooms must be 15 inches tall. A new row of little individual blossoms opens up every day or so. There are also two more flower stalks starting to show color. What an impressive plant! I read that they will reseed but revert to the natural blue color. If the flowers are half as big as this one, on reseeded specimens, I will be quite happy.

Irises

These purple irises had been growing on the far side of our house when I moved here. I had never seen them bloom. I think the pine tree on that side grew so big that there was too much shade. I moved a few puny root tubers a couple years ago and this is what we have now. I think they like the sunny end of this sandstone raised bed. In another year, I should be able to split them for even more irises.

Begonia

This pot of tuberous begonias was so impressive when we saw it at the store, we had to have it. It provides so much color that it is in a place of honor on one of the four corners of our patio fountain. We usually reserve those corners for hibiscus or mandevilla, but the begonia offered so much color, we decided to change it up and try something different. We will still do the tropical plants on the other corners.

Azalea

This little gem was my pick on the trip to a local nursery a few years ago. I couldn’t resist its beautiful pink, double blooms. I’m a sucker for anything that blooms in doubles. And it’s pink!

By now we have many more plants in bloom so I will have to do another garden post soon. We are still in the planting stage for the troughs on top of the enclosed garden wall and my hanging baskets that are suspended from the workshop porch. Also, my roses are ready to bloom! Unfortunately, the little red squirrels have decided that rosebuds are a tasty snack. Time for the live trap. I did not go to all the trimming, weeding, mulching, fertilizing, and transplanting to have no roses to show for it. Not to mention the scratches and holes in my fingers from the thorns.

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Walking into the Storm, and Out Again

Turkey Vultures at West Branch State Park.

We couldn’t decide whether to go for a walk or not the other evening. The weather looked iffy, it was cloudy, breezy, and looked like it might rain. It had looked that way all day though with no precipitation. After checking the weather radar, we decided to chance it. It looked like any inclement weather would go to the south. Besides, we hadn’t been for a walk for three days and the dogs acted like they were ready to riot.

We decided to walk the West Branch State Park Dam Trail. It is paved, with a parking lot nearby, although the path out and back is three miles roundtrip. By the time we were about halfway out, the winds had kicked up and there were storm clouds in the distance. You could see bands of rain coming from the clouds far away. We decided to go for it and see if we could finish our walk before the storm hit. We should have known better when we saw some turkey vultures taking refuge under the bridge for the spillway gatehouse.

We made it to the far end of the trail and then the storm broke. Of course, this is the point as far from the parking lot as you can get. The place where you turn around to make your way back. There was thunder and then the rain started. It was quickly followed by small hail. My husband was the one with a brilliant idea for shelter that kept us mostly dry. We descended off the trail, past a guardrail, picked our way through some rocks, and down an incline to a concrete abutment. The dogs were not a fan of this and kept trying to go on the opposite side of the guardrail to stay on the path, causing the leashes to tangle. They also didn’t like stepping amongst the rocks. Come guys, you are dogs. They let us know that they are spoiled house dogs and not some wild miscreants! The concrete wall was tall enough and the wind blew at an angle, so that we were able to stay mostly dry and avoid the hail by standing close to the wall. The rain only lasted for a short while and then it blew over.

Lovely water view on our return trip.

The walk back to the car was sunny and pleasant. In fact, we had a great time. The sun was reflecting off the water. The sound of the waves was soothing. And we saw quite a few birds lofting in the wind. They looked like they were enjoying the breeze, just circling or floating in place, riding the air currents. We saw one dive for a fish. Most of the birds were the turkey vultures we saw earlier. There were also a couple large seagulls. The turkey vultures really are impressive birds. Their wingspan is five to six feet, and they can weigh up to five pounds.

Rainbow after the storm.

We were halfway back to the car when we were blessed to see a rainbow appear. It was beautiful and bright. It grew in intensity as we walked. I could so distinctly see each color that it reminded me of the acronym, ROYGBIV, that I learned in school to remember the order of the colors in a rainbow. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

By the time my husband and I made it back to the parking lot, we decided this was one of our favorite walks that we have taken recently. We survived the elements and experienced some beautiful sights along the way. From adversity comes growth. May you see a rainbow after your next storm!

The View from My Window

View from my living room window.

This is the view from my window this morning. It is raining, so this is a day for indoor undertakings. I have laundry going. It is a light rain, so I am not worried about the extra water it adds for the sump pump. This also makes it blogging time.

The view out the living room window shows the top of the ancient azalea which is currently in peak bloom. At the far top of the photo are our burning bushes. We originally purchased six that were 10 inches high. The originals are now taller than me, a scant 5″4″. The oldest bushes are over 6 feet tall. All the other burning bushes in the line are offspring of the originals. They sprout in various places around our property. When they reach transplantable size, my husband moves them to the line of burning bushes along the edge of the road. This provides us a nice green screen from the passing cars and trucks in the warm months and once the leaves fall, they still act as a snow fence during the winter.

There is a new addition this year. We are in the process of fencing in our vegetable garden. If you look closely, you may see that the fence has three sides. We haven’t put up the fourth yet because we want to take the rototiller in one more time to mix in some new topsoil. Then we will install the last section. We are also going to have a gate. That is so shorties like me don’t have to hop over the fence!

We have had wild rabbits for years. They nibbled a few sprouts here and there but there was enough food for all of us. Last year the number of bunnies increased and some of them are huge. They did so much damage to the garden that we hardly had enough of several different types of vegetables to harvest. They especially liked the green beans. I replanted multiple times, but the tops got chewed off and we only had beans a few times. The sugar snap peas were a joke. Not surprisingly, bunnies love them. We only got a handful. So, this year, a fence it is! I also have to deal with crows eating the seeds I plant. Usually, replanting them once will take care of this. Since we will have the fence this year, I may hang some old CD’s or pie tins from the top wires and hope for the best.

I can tell you one thing. I have renewed respect for those who make their living as farmers. Putting up a little fence sounds so simple. Pound in some stakes, put up rolled fencing. Ha! It’s not cheap either. First you have to figure out which length of stakes you need and then how many. Same with the fencing. How high? What gauge? What spacing for the holes? Ok, you’re done with that. The rest is easy, right? Again, ha! You must measure and decide where to pound the stakes, so they are evenly spaced. And don’t forget to account for a gate. If you are off by two inches, you won’t have enough fence. Did you know you have to bury rabbit fencing, so they won’t dig under it? I didn’t. That means digging a trench for the fence and filling it in once the fence is up. Hanging the fence on the post will be easy now, I thought. Well, it still takes two people. One to hold the roll of fencing and keep it stretched tight. If you let it sag, it looks terrible and again, you won’t have enough fencing unless you bought extra. And those pesky little tabs on the stakes that are made to hold the wire? A lot of them are full of dried paint from the factory and you have to open them up with the flat blade of a screwdriver. Finally, we prevailed, hot, sweaty, and covered in dirt!

We are hoping for a good year in the vegetable garden. My husband took the Master Gardener course from the County Extension Office last year. We tested our soil and found that we were deficient in almost everything. Hubby has added nutrients, some topsoil, mulched leaves, and tilled them in. Time will tell how successful we were.

You can see in the photo that the near, right-hand side of the garden is grassy. That is where our asparagus patch is, so we can’t get the tiller in. I try to weed it in the spring, but it is hard to keep up with. Once we let the asparagus go for the season, it grows into beautiful, lacey fronds that outgrow any weeds. The garden is not exactly square anymore because the asparagus keeps moving farther out into the yard. I’m not quite sure what to do about this. If I dig it up and replant it back in the garden, I almost certainly will lose that portion of the asparagus crop for a year or two.

And so, on this rainy day I am happy to stay inside and work on other things. I am going for another cup of coffee, but I will leave you with this close up shot of our magnificent old azalea.

Our old azalea. Isn’t it glorious?

Spring Blooms at Sanctuary Acres

Dogwood tree in full bloom.

With the advent of some warmer weather, plants are really starting to take off around here. Finally! From my Facebook memories, I can see that the plants and trees are nearly a month behind where they normally are. But growth proceeds and I know it is only a matter of time before I will be complaining that it is too hot.

The dogwood in our front yard is at its peak right now. The picture of it in full bloom in front of the house is one of the things that drew me to this place when I was looking for a new home 19 years ago. The animals that have come and gone over the years have been hard on the place, but a home of such age, built in 1830, is up to the task. Lots of living goes on here.

Blueberry blossoms

This is one of the bushes from my blueberry patch. This particular one is in its third year. I am hoping for more than the handful of berries that it produced last year. Most of those were consumed one by one as we walked past on our way to or from the vegetable garden. None the less, they were appreciated. We have five blueberry bushes of varying ages, all young. A couple bushes did not thrive, and we replaced them rather than wait and hope for them to recover.

Redbud trees

Our redbud trees are also at peak bloom right now. They were such small sticks when we got them from the County Extension Office that we planted all five of them in a clump to wait and see which would survive. They all did. And they grew so beautifully that we left them in that original clump. These trees reseed so prolifically that we find them everywhere. We let the one that sprouted in my rose bed grow for a couple years and then gave it to our neighbor. We have a few others that we will transplant around our home.

Traditional lilac

Our old-fashioned lilac is blooming now. My husband transplanted it here as a shoot from one of his grandmother’s lilacs. It is getting old and doesn’t produce as many blooms as it once did. It is time to cut off the main trunk and let some of the newer ones take over. Then we will be awash in that lovely lilac scent once again. We also have a Miss Kim lilac and many Royal Lilacs. They bloom later in the season, so check back then.

White violets

We have violets growing throughout our yard. There is a patch under the huge pine tree near the house that grows densely with white flowers. We also have many of the purple violets and very rarely some that are white with the purple centers. When we hike at a nearby state park, I’ve seen a few with yellow blooms. I’m not sure exactly how they proliferate. They have transplanted themselves to my rose bed. For a time, I let them go. I enjoyed their delicate flowers and having color so early in the year. Now, I have begun weeding them out of the rose bed because they are taking over and encroaching on the roots of my roses. I tend to like plants that decide to grow in unusual place, but these have gotten out of control.

Azaelea bush

This bush was supposed to be an azalea but seems like it is crossed with a rhododendron. It is a nice little bush that always flowers but never seems to get any bigger. It doesn’t require pruning, just occasional weeding. It knows its place.

Viburnum bush

I passed one of these bushes on one of my many trips to the library years ago. I didn’t know what it was, but it smelled so heavenly that I had to have one. I researched until I discovered what it was and got my very own viburnum. It is an attractive shrub, not overly showy to look at, but it has other merits. I cut flowerheads from it every couple day and put them in a vase in the house where I can catch a whiff of the scent every time I walk past.

Bleeding hearts

The bleeding hearts we have are not the flashy domesticated ones. We have the good old woodland type. They grow under the very old, very large rhododendron near the side door and also under a pine tree near the woodworking shop. I enjoy the delicate lacey leaves and dusky pink flowers. They are one of the few flowers that can survive the battle with the bishop’s weed that was here when I moved in. I have been trying to eradicate it ever since. I suspect the previous owner spent their time in residence trying to eradicate the bishop’s weed too.

Trillium growing amongst the myrtle and trout lily.

Last, but not least is the majestic trillium. At one time it was endangered, so I am honored by its presence. I leave it alone since it is a fussy plant, and it graces us reliably with blooms year after year.

This is just the beginning of the growing and blooming season here, so click to follow along with the blog or sign up to receive emails. Not only will you see flowers and gardens, but also stories about our dogs and cats and general daily life here at Sanctuary Acres. Blessing to you.

Books I Read in April 2022

Hello Friends! Another month has come and gone already, so here is my list of books read. I did read more than I usually do in April, and I have Mother Nature to thank. Most years I am too tired from my spring gardening to read much in the evenings. With the snows and cold weather, we have had, I was inside a lot. I didn’t get much done in my flowerbeds, but I did read a lot!

  1. The Restoration of Celia Fairchild-Marie Bostwick

Celia is an advice columnist looking to adopt a baby. She inherits Aunt Calpurnia’s house. Her life takes a turn, and she moves back to Charleston and gathers the family she longed for. I really enjoyed this book. It’s a make you feel good book.

2. Show Me the Bunny-Laurien Berenson

Another delightful adventure with Melanie Travis and her standard poodles. The murder she must solve this time involves her Aunt Rose, a former nun, now married and a new character in the series. Someone murders the benefactress of Rose’s women’s shelter, making her a suspect. Melanie and poodle Faith are on the job.

3. The Twelve Dates of Christmas-Jenny Baylis

Kate Turner signs up for a series of12 dates through a dating service since there aren’t many opportunities in her small British town. Her series of dates provides a humorous backdrop for her true love. I enjoy Baylis’ novels because of the way she portrays life in small British towns.

4. The Family You Make-Jill Shalvis

Jane has had only herself to rely on for most of her life. She has a near death experience during a storm and things begin to change. For starters, the man she was trapped in the gondola with called his mother when he thought they were going to die and said he had a girlfriend. He knew this would make his mother happy. He later asks Jane to pretend to be his girlfriend for a family dinner. Things progress in an entertaining fashion.

5. The Pig Did It-Joseph Caldwell

Professor Aaron McCloud returns to Ireland where he spent time with Aunt Kitty as a child. He’s escaping from unrequited love but never gets time to mourn as a pig he meets along the way keeps distracting him. After following him to the family home, the errant pig uproots a skeleton in Aunt Kitty’s vegetable garden. Things go from bad to hilarious with all the characters he meets along the way.

6. The Suite Spot-Trish Doller

Rachel Beck gets fired from her job at a Miami hotel when a wealthy guest gets grabby. She is offered a job at a startup brewery hotel on a Lake Erie island. The job is too good to pass up so she packs up her three year old daughter and moves to Ohio. She ends up with a new life as she overcomes the tough things life throws at her.

7. Aunt Ivy’s Cottage-Kristen Harper

Zoey arrives on Dune Island to take care of her aunt. She also takes in her dead sister’s daughter for the spring and summer. She helps both while dealing with her cousin Mark’s future plans for the aunt’s house he intends to take over as a high-class resort. Zoey has feelings for the handy man working on the house, but can she trust him? Zoey also needs to find a job after losing her’s. Will it all work out?

Magazines-Country Living

I can’t really pick a favorite to recommend from this list. None are likely to make an earth-shattering difference in your life, but all are a fun time. Enjoy yourself!

By the way, you may have noticed that I read Christmas themed books all year long. I love a good Christmas book. Not only are they great to read near the holidays, but I also enjoy them in mid-summer when it is hot out. Reading a book that takes place in a cold climate, somehow makes me feel cooler. The power of suggestion.

Spring at Sanctuary Acres

Elizabeth Magnolia

Hi Friends! It is spring here, sort of, so time to share a few pictures of what is currently in bloom around our yard. Warmer weather is slow in coming to northeast Ohio this year. It has been much cooler than normal with a few days of warm weather thrown in. Enough to confuse the plants and set them back in their growth. My Facebook memories shows plants in full bloom at this time last year that haven’t even begun to make an appearance this year. But they will!

The most recent addition to our flowerbeds is the Elizabeth magnolia. My husband has been wanting a magnolia for some time and found this variety he had been looking for when we were out searching for a plum tree! We never did find the Toka plum tree that we were looking for, but we did find this magnolia which went into a bed in the walled garden last week and is currently flowering as seen in the photos.

The new Elizabeth magnolia is putting on a show!

We found another type of plum tree that will do the job. We already had a Superior plum tree that we put in last year. We discovered that you need two types of plum trees for successful pollination and fruiting, preferably two different types of Japanese plums. They should be of different varieties, not the same variety. Who knew? Probably lots of people but I was not one of them. The plum trees must flower at the same time so they can cross pollinate. We already had American plums, which are more of a bush, but we were not sure if they would do the job. So, I expect bushels of plums this fall! Ha! Not really, but it would be nice if we got a couple small plums this year to see what they taste like.

We also found a small cherry tree that is self-pollinating. It bears sour cherries that are good for pies and jellies. We… ok, my husband…it would take me an hour to dig a hole big enough, planted it behind the house in the area where our plums and blueberry bushes also reside. We have one other fruit bearing cherry tree behind the garage. It was here long before I bought this house. It has sustained a lot of damage over the past few years from other trees falling on it. We hope to find one of its young offspring to cultivate. It has the type of cherries that are yellow with a red blush and very tasty.

Service berries starting to bloom.

We also have service berries that are starting to bloom. They are planted along the road. We bought them as six inch sticks from the County Extension agent a number of years ago. The goal is prune them after fruiting season this year. The yield was lower last summer and most of the berries are so high up in the trees that only the birds can reach them. You have to pay close attention to get to the fruit before the birds. The berries are a coveted item. I have had birds sit in the top of the tree squawking and carrying on as I stand below picking berries and tossing them into my colander. A colander is my preferred container when I pick berries of any sort. Mine has a flat bottom that sits on the ground while I use both arms to reach the higher branches. And I can transport it directly to the sink for rinsing and sorting the fruit.

Hellebore flowers

We have other things besides fruit trees in flower now too. This hellebore was given to us by my mother-in-law last summer. It was a sprout from a large plant she had. They don’t like to be moved, so we are pleased that it is blooming in its first spring here. Another name for this plant is the Lenten Rose because it blooms so early in the season. They will even bloom with snow hanging on the leaves. Don’t be confused by the leaves in the bottom of this photo. Some stray pachysandra got transplanted with it.

Daffodils blooming in a raised bed.

And of course, we have the obligatory daffodils. I moved these to one of the raised beds surrounding the patio two years ago. They did not bloom the first year but are in fine form now. I wanted some early bloomers for us to enjoy on the few days we have that are warm enough to sit on the patio. I do enjoy looking at them while I am doing the early spring cleanup jobs in the patio gardens. Normally, I bring lots of daffodils indoors to enjoy in the spring. I have foregone that this year because we have an 11 month old kitten who knows no bounds. I will have to figure out a kitten proof set up before peony season arrives because I refuse to have a year without the scent of peonies in my house! It will be a tall order. The house plant and its ceramic pot that I had on the mantel bit the dust. Jasper kitten can reach the mantel via the desk that sits underneath. I am the human, I can outsmart him, right? The jury’s still out on that one. Time will tell.

Shelby by the hyacinth.
Baxter taking his turn by the hyacinth.

I didn’t feel this post would be complete without a picture of dogs, so here are Shelby and Baxter posing in front of the hyacinth at my brother’s house. They went along to celebrate my niece’s fifth birthday. We can rely on these two to be well behaved. When it was time to leave, we had to go find Shelby. She was having a nap in a corner of the sunroom where we had been sitting earlier.

Spring is just starting here and there will be more pictures of flowers, trees, and vegetables to come. And it is a certainty there will be pictures of dogs. Join us and follow along. You can sign up to receive updates at the top of the page!

Fun With Crafts

Goldfinch

I am not particularly artsy but sometimes I like to craft. Thus, I decided to make keepsakes for everyone for a family dinner we hosted earlier this year. I like working with felt because it doesn’t require hemming. I came up with my own designs as I went. It was fun!

The American goldfinch went to my mother-in-law because she feeds the birds and is happy when these finches show up in her backyard.

This unicorn was for my oldest niece who is nine. What young girl doesn’t like unicorns? This ornament was a big hit with her.

A Kitty ornament went to my youngest niece. Little girls and kitties seem like a natural match to me.

I crafted a heart with a corgi on it for my daughter. She and her boyfriend have two corgis. The heart I made for my brother and his wife had roses made from ribbons. These both were very nice but I forgot to take pictures of them before I gave them out. Oh, well.

Bluebird

And lastly, I sewed a heart ornament for my husband and me to keep. It has a bluebird since we enjoy watching the bluebird families that live in the houses my husband built.

Our kitten Jasper was assisting me in taking this last photo today. This was my fifth try and he “helped” me every time. I decided to just go with it and use this picture. It sums up life with kittens.