Monthly Archives: July 2015

July Garden Walk



I think the gladiolus are the most glorious thing in the garden right now. I haven’t planted any in many years. I can’t think why. They are splendid.


The glads are tall and majestic. Their flowers are a thing of beauty. Definitely more glads! They blend perfectly with the butterfly bush in the foreground. Both are tall and willowy.


The butterfly bush does come by its name honestly as you can see. We have quite an abundance of these black and yellow butterflies, and an occasional swallowtail. On a warm, lazy afternoon such as this I sit and watch them.


The snapdragons and petunias are an enjoyable site too.


The clethra also draw in the flying creatures. We have two in the raised garden beds and the bees love them as you can see. The sweet scent draws them in.


And who doesn’t love a rose? I  certainly do.


I like some of the old fashioned types of plants too. The phlox are spectacular when they are in full bloom. And the best part is they draw the phlox bug, otherwise known as the hummingbird moth. No picture of those yet. I will keep trying. I get excited every time I see one.


We even have pink phlox growing beside the house.


It and the beebalm put on quite the show.


The trumpet vine is an endearing plant for us. The hummingbirds come to it in groups of two or three to enjoy it’s sweet nectar.


The Rose of Sharon in the front yard is very tropical looking to me. Although it is a shrub, the flower looks like a hibiscus.


No garden walk would be complete without a stop at the vegetable garden. Things are looking pretty good here because we just weeded. Look quick,  it doesn’t last long. Soon the weeds will be back.



Some of the trees are interesting now too. The mountain ash trees have their orange berries and the red buckeyes are setting nuts.


I always end up back at the walled garden with its raised beds. They seem almost like a canvas where we display shapes and colors that we find appealing. This area never fails to soothe my soul.

What the Dog Ate, Part II

Young Duncan

The question in this instance is “What didn’t the dog eat”? Duncan was a challenge from day one. I got him as a pup of about three months old. He was covered in fleas and full of energy. He starting giving me challenges from that first day when I struggled to give him a flea bath. He thought I was trying to drown him and struggled accordingly. If I had known what was to come, I might have given up on him right then. As he grew he was loads of trouble and constant challenges. Thank goodness I did not know what was to come because out of the ashes of our many turbulent times, rose the Phoenix. Out of great challenges come great rewards. Over the years he became my best friend and we grew into bonded souls. A greater gift I have never had.

But the early years, oh my. He was in constant motion. The only time he was relatively still was the time he spent chewing Nylabones or ripping apart toys. If I turned my back for a minute he was into something. And this was after walking 3-5 miles each day. I struggled with rather to crate him while I was doing things like cooking dinner, running to the washer, and other household chores, or let him be loose in the house. If I crated him, it just made for more energy and mania later but I had to do chores sometime. And if he was out of sight there was trouble. Sometimes when he was in sight, there was trouble! I had paw prints at shoulder height about 5 ft. up the wall from him using it as a spring board to turn as he was running in the living room. The coffee table had one of its corners chewed off. Toys lived short lives in those days.

Luckily Duncan was always a happy dog that was submissive to humans. He never did give me any trouble in that regard, he just wore me out. A few times I tried putting him in the attached garage for just an hour so I could get some work done but he could still get some exercise. That resulted in the seat being chewed off a bicycle, the pull handle being chewed off the lawn mower, and other assorted things becoming covered in tooth marks. Then there was the day he started chewing through the drywall of the garage, trying to get back into the house, so that he could be where I was. That was the last time he spent in the garage. After that I leashed him to the coffee table so that I could work in the kitchen. The leash suffered some gnawing and the coffee table lost another corner but what was one more?

When Duncan was about 3 years old we moved to a new house, I got remarried, and we had a new family. Every time someone asked what happened to this, the answer was, Duncan chewed it. Until finally when anyone asked what happened to this, they would say, never mind, I know, Duncan chewed it. When he was around 5 years old we started him in obedience with the 4-H group that my daughter was in. I usually handled him while my daughter used one of our other shelties. His behavior did start to improve at this point. His offenses became limited to things like eating multiple hair scrunchies, socks, and underwear when he could find them. He had a remarkable constitution and was able to pass everything that he took in. He would get in the trash and eat it, even the can I got with a lid. We had to put the trash can up high.

This new house I moved to has about 1/4 acre of fenced land that we call “the pasture”. The dogs get to go out there and spend time in it when one of us is home. Weather permitting, they can spend a number of hours a day there. I think this helped Duncan more than anything. He could burn off steam by chasing cars along the fence line. He was happy because they always went away and he was safe because of the fence. When he was 7 years old and had regularly gone to 4-H obedience sessions for about 2 years, Duncan passed the test and became a therapy dog! I was thrilled. The dog who had caused so much trouble became a joy. He shared that joy with others too when we went on visits to nursing homes and residential homes for profoundly disabled children. He visited because it made me happy and that was his greatest goal in life. He liked it because we got to spend that time together. After he had been visiting for a few years, I could point where I wanted him to go and say “go visit” and he would.

 At some point during these years, Duncan and I became best friends. We were highly in tune with each other and could communicate well. I think without the early trials that our bond would not have been so deep. When you put that much effort into a relationship, you forge a deep bond. That’s not to say that Duncan was without fault in his later years. He still got into a few things and had that gleam in his eye. Even when he was 12 years old he would still get into grandma’s kitchen trash can. It had a button that you had to push and the lid would pop up. Duncan learned how to push that button and could get that can open in seconds. When we went to visit, the trash can had to go on top of the refrigerator. I must admit, by that point, I was rather proud of his cleverness, rather than upset by it. Thus ends installment two of What the Dog Ate. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately as this means dogs ate more unique items) there will be another installment to follow.

Duncan-Best Smile Ever

What the Dog Ate, Part I

Amanda and Cassie Cassie and Amanda

My dogs have eaten some amazing things over the years. Fortunately for me they all seem to have the constitution of goats. I have been astounded by the things they can pass one way or another.

My first memorable bout with canine ingestion of oddities occurred when I had my golden retriever pups, Amanda and Cassie. They were a handful from the start. I would not recommend obtaining two pups at the same time. The two were littermates and no one wanted to take Cassie because of some congenital problems so we took her too. We got two for the price of one. This turned out to be a poor decision for a number of reasons, one of which was that they liked to split up and go in different directions. They seemed to know that I could only follow one pup at a time so the other was bound to get away with something before I caught up.

I don’t know when the notable ingestion occurred. I wasn’t even aware of it for some time. Mysteriously, Cassie’s collar was missing one day when they were several months old. We were in the house going about our daily lives, nothing unusual, no roughhousing. Although I guess the fact that there was no roughhousing should have been a clue that something was up. The next time I looked at Cassie, no collar. It was no where to be found. I finally gave up. Days passed with no collar sighting. I became more and more puzzled. I did eventually find the buckle to the collar but that was it.

About two weeks later we were sitting around the house and Amanda started retching. It must have gone on for a while because I remember running to get paper towels and coming back to catch whatever was going to present itself. What presented itself was Cassie’s collar sans buckle. It was intact and still in one piece. In fact it was in remarkably good shape. Aside from being slightly slimy, it looked like nothing had happened to it except for the missing buckle. Amanda looked proud. She had continued eating and performing all other bodily functions as normal throughout the previous two weeks. I did not know whether to be impressed or appalled although I was thankful that no veterinary intervention was required. And thus concludes one of the tales of Amanda and Cassie, and Part I of What the Dog Ate.

Creative Cooking


My method of cooking is rather creative, especially when it comes to vegetables. I rarely have a recipe and often don’t know what I will make when I get started. I begin with a few ingredients, generally whatever is ready in the  garden,  and the dish just sort of takes on a life of its own.

That’s what happened with the dish above that I made for lunch recently. I noticed that some turnips were ready for harvest so that started the base for my dish. I washed off the dirt and peeled a turnip then I chopped it into matchsticks and sliced the greens from the top. The matchsticks went into a nonstick skillet with a little butter. When they were partially cooked, I added the greens and sautéed a little  longer. When this was nearly cooked, I added some leftover corn from a cob and diced up a tomato that was laying around. Add salt,  pepper,  and some garlic powder and voila! A feast fit for a king. Or at least someone with a fine appreciation of vegetables.

Zucchini Dish

Creative concoction number two for the week is seen above. The zucchini are finally ripe! Oh happy day! Get out your aforementioned nonstick skillet and melt the butter. No margarine for us. We do often use olive oil instead of butter but the first harvest of vegetables merits the use of real butter. Wash the zucchini, cut off the ends, and quarter it. Cut the quarters into slices. Of course how you choose to cut the zucchini depends on its size. Mince some fresh garlic and lightly brown it in the butter. Add and saute the zucchini until nearly cooked. Then put in quartered baby Bella mushrooms and saute slightly.  Add previously cooked corn, removed from the cob. Season with salt and pepper. Top with grated Parmesan cheese. Cover with lid and turn off heat. Return to eat in about five minutes when cheese is all melty and delectable.

Cooking can be fun because it is a science, an art, and a way to nourish yourself all rolled into one. I  encourage you to grab some things from your garden, or local farmer’s market, and create something new and satisfying.

Sanctuary Acres Weekend Part II


This past holiday weekend was also wonderful because I got to spend most of it at home. I often feel like I am on vacation when I get to sit outside and enjoy the greenery. That is when I’m not weeding. I have to make it a point to take time to smell the roses, or sometimes the puppies, as the case may be. I took a walk around on Sunday evening to get some pictures to share of the things that I enjoy. I started where I was sitting and reading a book. I love the red mandevillas. They are always in bloom and so tropical looking.


Also in the patio area is this lush hydrangea. It was a gift. Lucky us. The dark green leaves are nearly as attractive as the blooms. Fortunate are we, who have friends that would give us such a gift.

Flower Boxes

As I leave the patio area I enjoy the plantings in the flower boxes on top of the wall. This year we have verbena in lavender and peach tones and various pastel shades of celosia. I rather like the rainbow effect.


Even the thyme is getting into the act by blooming and looking attractive. It is the herb that I use the most of when cooking. Every year I trim the plant back and harvest all the clippings to dry and cook with later on. For the first time ever, my thyme did not survive the unusually cold winter and I had to buy a new one. The old plant was one that I dug up and moved from my previous house some years ago. So it was like loosing an old friend. The new one is growing heartily so I hope it fairs better over the winter.

Red Maple

I love this red maple. I always feel like I am in a park when I look at it with the hostas growing underneath. I think it is very picturesque.

Black RaspberriesRaspberries

Our property has black raspberry bushes growing in various places. They re-seed themselves in addition to spreading by runners so they show up the oddest places. Above was one day’s pickings. I usually get enough to make two pies and then have enough berries left to freeze almost a gallon of them for muffins throughout the winter months. At this time of year I am usually covered with so many scratches from the briars that it looks like we have a kitten. My fingers are stained for several days too from the berry juice. Well worth it!


Here I am in front of the yucca plant at our last stop for this walk. Thanks for visiting. Until next time…

Sanctuary Acres Weekend


This was a fabulous holiday weekend! Not only was I off from work for four days, the weather was beautiful and I got to spend it with family and dogs. How much better could it get? Oh yeah, I got to read books and drink coffee in the mornings too!


I got to spend time with this cutie on the 4th. She’s my niece and she is already a dog girl at 2 1/2. She likes to feed her own dog at home. She also loves my little sheltie Nikki. Nikki is just her size. Here she is walking/training Nikki.


Whenever she sees me somewhere without a dog she always says “Where Nikki, where Phoebe? ” One time (many months ago) we met at a restaurant and she was looking for Phoebe as soon as she saw me. I guess I’m the crazy dog  Aunt. Luckily I’m happy about that.


She’s not afraid to go in the fenced pasture  and hang out with all of the dogs either. She was even throwing the Frisbee for Baxter. It wasn’t a very long throw but he was most appreciative. Baxter is patient and seems to understand effort.

This dog thing may run in the family. My dad was very into his dogs. I think it’s safe to say I got it too. And thus it goes.

Baking and Friends

Peanut butter Frosted & Filled Cupcakes I made a batch of cupcakes this evening. They are one of my signature creations. The cake is a delicious chocolate fudge. The filling is a creamy peanut butter concoction. And the frosting is buttery, creamy peanut butter as well.

Said cupcakes are all packed up and ready to go to work in the morning. We are having a party at work. A combination cook out and retirement celebration. So these cupcakes are a gift to share with people I care about. We are a close bunch at work. Especially those of us who have worked there together for a long time. I have been employed at this same place for over 28 years. So although not too many have been there as long as me anymore, I have known some of these people for a long time.

Long lasting friendships and bonds have been formed. In years past when it was a smaller crew, we hung out together and had gatherings just because we liked to. There were also numerous times when these folks were there for me when I needed them. Two different bosses (read as friends) helped me move on two separate occasions. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Friends from work came through for me on so many occasions. Those bonds run long and deep.

Some have since retired. I miss having the pleasure of seeing these old friends on a regular basis. But the bonds are still there. Last month I got a call from a couple of these friends out of the blue. I hadn’t seen them in a few years. They packed up and moved to Florida when they had the chance. A married couple that both worked here at one time. (Hi Kenny and Kathy!) This is one of those instances when Facebook is a wonderful thing. The wife had been reading my blog on Facebook and decided to give me a call. When we were done talking she handed the phone over to her husband. I’m glad that she did. What an enjoyable opportunity to catch up with both of them!

Sometimes I see other retiree friends around town. It always gives me that feel good feeling to experience the connection that is still there. Some of the best and longest lasting bonds need not have continual contact.