Monthly Archives: August 2022

A Busy Weekend

Sheltie mix
Zekie is a happy boy!

It seems like I have nothing going on for the longest time and then everything happens at once. Most of my days consist of watering, gardening and taking care of animals. Maybe picking some vegetables and cooking. And then suddenly I am a social butterfly. We had three things scheduled over the weekend!

Petting a dog
Shelby getting pats.

It started on Friday when my sister-in-law came with my nieces for lunch and a swim in the pool. This is an end of summer, pre-back to school tradition for all of us. I make a fancy lunch, lol…not! I make what I know the girls will like. We had peanut butter and jelly, cucumbers, and my older niece’s favorite, barbeque potato chips. I know the girls are growing up because this year they even ate cheese quesadillas that I made. We finished the meal off with homemade sundaes consisting of cookies and cream ice cream, brownie bits, Cool Whip, and chocolate sauce on top. Yum!

I caught my younger niece who claims to be afraid of dogs, leaning over to pet Shelby several times. Actually, she hasn’t been afraid of Shelby in a long time. Shelby has that effect on people. I have had more than one person who said they were afraid of dogs be okay around Shelby. She is so calm and reliable that people can sense it.

The girls also each got a chance to play the drums before they went home. The drums are a hit with all the kids that come over. I used the time to catch up with my sister-in-law. She is awesome. I love visiting with her. I wish everyone enjoyed their family as much as I enjoy mine!

On Saturday, I attended our annual sheltie rescue picnic at a member’s home. It is great to visit with other members in person, especially after so many Covid induced Zoom meetings. Dogs are also welcome at the picnic. I took Zekie, Shelby, and Baxter. Cassius and Claire had to stay home. I felt bad for them but three dogs is the limit of what I can handle by myself. The photo at the top is of Zekie at the picnic. He was so happy to go away with his momma. Any day that I am not out of his sight is a good day for him. Shelby went because she is never any trouble, and she is my right-hand girl. Although Baxter is not a sheltie, he has been to every sheltie rescue picnic that I have gone to, and he is the ranking senior dog of our pack. All three dogs were well behaved, and I was proud of them. Zekie even got along with all the other dogs that showed up. He wagged and sniffed every time there was a new arrival. Sometimes I see him watch Shelby and Baxter, to see what their reaction to new arrivals and unexpected things are.

The people in our rescue group are the best. They are a supportive, kind, thoughtful, caring group of people and I am honored to call many of them friend. This group of people really is in it for the dogs, not the glory.

And on Sunday, there was even more to look forward to. We went to my daughter’s house and hung out with her and her family. I love hanging out with my daughter. I understand where the saying “A daughter is someone who grows up to be your best friend” came from. We looked at flowers in her gardens, ate pizza, and talked and talked. A fine day. This time Baxter, Zekie, and Cassius got to go along. Baxter and my daughter have a mutual adoration, so he had to go. Zekie must be near me at all times, so he went too. And Cassius got to go because he had to stay home the day before. And don’t think he wasn’t mad at me for having to stay home from the picnic. When he got up on the couch that evening, he put his head in my husband’s lap and not mine which is highly unusual. You must pay, mummy!

Although the weekend was wonderful, life is now back to normal. Watering and gardening have resumed. Our efforts are beginning to pay off. Look at the size of this tomato! We tend to like the striped tomatoes best. They are juicy and sweet without all the acid of the red tomatoes. This one is a pineapple tomato and they do grow to be large. I believe this is the largest and most perfect one we have grown. I went to the garden looking for a tomato big enough to cover the bun for our sandwiches at dinner. This one was actually too big! No complaints here. We will enjoy it sliced with tomorrow’s lunch.

Peace to you, my friends.

Pineapple tomato
Pineapple tomato

Flowers of Summer

Hardy Amarillys
Hardy Amarillys

Our flowers and gardens are approaching their peak as the summer wears on. The hardy Amarillys is such a unique flower. The leaves come up early in the summer and are long and flat, similar to hyacinth leaves. I did not know about these flowers until I moved here twenty years ago and discovered them on the property. I thought they were not doing well or were not happy where they were planted. If you are familiar with this plant, you will know that part of its normal life cycle is that the leaves die back to the ground. Then after a week or so, you see a stalk sprouting in the center of where the leaves had been. And this stalk grows quickly. Within a few days it is over two feet tall and blooms with a few large trumpet shaped flowers!

I had to research on-line to discover that these flowers are the hardy Amarillys. They are also an interesting plant because they go by a couple of aliases. They are often referred to as Naked Ladies. Because they lose all their foliage before blooming. The flower stands alone.

Last month I discovered a third name for this flower when I was reading a fiction book, The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman. It was on my list of books read for last month. Books I Read in July 2022. Apparently, they are also called Surprise Lilies because you think the plant has died and then, surprise, you get the unexpected gift of a flower! I think this is my favorite name of all for them. A Surprise Lily sounds so magical.

Mand
Mandevilla

Many other flowers around the yard and gardens are taking off too. The red Mandevilla is one that I wintered over from last year. It took a long time to hit its stride after losing so many leaves over the winter but now it is in full bloom with more buds on the way. The root ball was large, and it has woody stalks, so I expect it to perform well for the rest of the season.

Hardy Hibiscus
Hardy Hibiscus

Another hardy version of plant that I am happy with is the Hardy Hibiscus. This perennial is only in its second year at our house. We discovered that it does not grow back from its stalks. You should cut it to the ground, and it will come back from the ground up. Ours was the last to bloom in the area, but this doesn’t seem like a problem to me since it is a young plant. If you live in a northern zone and want your hibiscus to come back year after year, make sure you get a hardy hibiscus and not a tropical one. We have a tropical hibiscus also but realize that it is just an annual for us. I tried to winter a tropical hibiscus over in the house a couple years ago, but it did not survive.

Pink gladiolus
Pink Gladiolus
Yellow gladiolus
Yellow Gladiolus
Fancy Pink Gladiolus
Fancy Pink Gladiolus

And then there are my ever-faithful gladioli. I dig the bulbs up each fall after frost and store them in paper bags in the basement. And each fall I wonder, is it worth it? One year I dug up 80 bulbs! I plant them again in the month of May and then we wait. They start blooming in late July and peak in August. It is then that I decide it is worth it. Come October, we get a hard frost, and the entire cycle starts again. Most years I get more bulbs out of the ground than I put in. This is good because there are always a few that I slice in half with the shovel. Oops!

Glads along the fence.
Glads growing in front of the patio fence.
Rose of Sharon and Phlox
Rose of Sharon and Phlox

I’ll leave you with one last photo of some old standbys that you couldn’t get rid of if you wanted to. The pink phlox on the right seems to end up everywhere and tries to take over. It grows by runners underground. I pulled out a couple bushels of it from the flowerbed next to the house this spring. I do this every other year. If I don’t, it outcompetes the other plants and you end up with nothing but phlox. One bonus is the hummingbirds love phlox. Sometimes I am bent over weeding, and I hear the hum from the beating of their wings and when I look up, there they are. I often hear the hummingbirds before I see them. Occasionally we stare at each other eye to eye for a while before they flit away.

The pink flowered tree-like plant on the left is a Rose of Sharon. They reseed themselves everywhere. We frequently weed them out. There are so many that sprout, most often in inconvenient places. We have transplanted several and given a few away as well.

If all plants were as easy to grow as phlox and the Rose of Sharon, there would be little challenge in gardening!

Books I Read in July 2022

Patio view
I often read here!

You may notice lots of ice cream “cookbooks” this month and next month too. I bought an electric ice cream maker and am trying to perfect the art of dairy free ice cream. I can eat dairy products with no problem and the regular ice cream recipes I have tried turned out pretty well. Not everyone in my family is so lucky, so I am seeing if I can conquer the lactose or dairy free versions. I tried making the regular versions just substituting almond milk and coconut milk. It just didn’t work. The product had good flavor but was so hard, it was basically a block of ice milk. Back to the drawing board.

I did make time to read some other books in July too. Some days it was hot enough that I refused to go outside in the afternoons. Reading is always a better option when it’s more than 90 degrees outside!

  1. From Strength to Strength-Arthur C. Brooks (Non-Fiction)

I picked this book up because on the cover it says, “Finding success, happiness, and deep purpose in the second half of life”. Sounds perfect for someone (me) who retired a couple years ago, right? I am sorry I spent my time reading this book. The book spent a major portion of it telling me how people suffer a professional decline and lessening abilities as they age. Then it cited numerous examples of such. By the end, I was feeling pretty incompetent. The last couple of chapters do offer some good advice, but I did not find it to be worth the effort.

2. One Italian Summer-Rebecca Serle

I enjoyed this book. After the death of Katy’s mother, she takes the trip to Italy that they had planned to take together. Katy’s mother was her best friend, and she is lost without her. While she is there Katy becomes friends with…her mother who is 30 years younger. Katy gains insights into her mother’s life and actions that she never expected. She also learns a lot about herself. Normally, I don’t like books that bring fantasy into real life experiences, but I did enjoy this one. I do like books in the fantasy genre that occur in different worlds. Just my quirk.

3. The Heron’s Cry-Ann Cleeves

British Inspector Matthew Venn and his detectives have their hands full trying to solve this case before there are more murders. The book requires close attention to detail to keep up with the plot but is well worth it. Artist Eve keeps discovering bodies that have been killed with broken pieces of her glasswork. The first body is that of her father. They are also a few suicides that make us wonder just what is going on here. I couldn’t figure out who did it until very near the end.

4. Icebox Pies-Lauren Chatman (Cookbook)

Many delicious looking recipes but I am unlikely to make any of them. Most involve heavy cream or other sources of dairy and we have multiple lactose intolerant people in our family as noted above.

5. Vice Cream-Jeff Rogers (Cookbook)

This is a book of vegan ice cream recipes. I am not likely to make these. Nearly all use maple syrup or honey dates as a sweetener and I think they overpower the other flavors. Also, the fruit based recipes call for a juicer which I do not have.

6. The Year of Magical Thinking-Joan Didion (Non-Fiction)

Joan Didion and her husband John Dunne were successful writers. They were married for 40 years before John’s sudden death from a heart attack. Both worked from home so they were near constant features of each other’s lives. Their only child went into a 2 month coma 5 days before John’s death and then suffered from ongoing health problems.

7. The Heirloom Garden-Viola Shipman

Iris Maynard has been alone since her husband died in World War II and her daughter died from illness a few years later. After another traumatic event Iris walled in her yard hasn’t left for years. A troubled family rents the house that Iris owns next door to her own. The stipulation is they are to have no contact with Iris. Children have minds of their own, so this ends up being impossible. Iris is a retired botanist and the family loves flowers and gardening. A story of how we are better together than alone. A moving and enjoyable book with a bit of science thrown in.

8. The Southern Vegetarian-Burks & Lawrence (Cookbook)

Many of these recipes look delicious but they are more work than I am willing to put in and I am not a lazy cook. I did get some ideas for meals that I will put my own spin on to make them easier.

9. Melt, Ice Cream Sensations to Make at Home-Claire Kelsey (Cookbook)

The recipes in this book are complex and most use unusual ingredients. I am never likely to make them. That being said, check this book out! It is fun and the pictures are beautiful. I also enjoyed reading about how the author’s food truck that sells ice cream came into being.

10. The Friendship Pact-Jill Shalvis

Tae Holmes and her mother tell each other everything except for one very big secret her mother has kept hidden. The secret has the potential to change everything. Tae is also distracted by the sudden appearance of Riggs, her first fling way back in high school. Riggs turns out to have her back. Always.

Sorry for some less than positive reviews this time, but hey, you can’t like them all.

My recommendation from this list is The Friendship Pact if you want a good beach read type of book. You can never go wrong with Jill Shalvis. If I see her name on a book, I will pick it up. If you are looking for a book to make you think, go for The Heron’s Cry.