All posts by cindyhazelett

About cindyhazelett

I live in the country and spend much of the year enjoying our gardens and outdoor activities. Also, I have been involved in dog rescue for over 15 years. I have been a volunteer for numerous rescue organizations, do therapy dog work, and pretty much all things "dog".

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.

Views from the Patio, 7/23

View from the patio
My view from the patio this morning.

It’s a patio type of morning for me. The weather is predicted to be hot today, and for nearly the entire country, not just here. So, I am spending some time outdoors before things heat up. My trusty canine companions are with me, except for Shelby who opted to stay in the house.

Due to some recent rains, I have been able to skip watering for the past several days saving me hours of work. What a treat! Except for the container plants. They look droopy by afternoon and long for a splash of water on their roots. We oblige them because we do not want unhappy hibiscus, mandevillas, gardenias, and such. They make views from the patio so much better!

Patio view
Patio time!

I have been thinking about the nature of friends in current times. Relationships have changed. I’m not sure if this is for good or bad. Probably a little of each as most things are or maybe only different.

I ponder why they have changed. My first thought is, we live in an electronic age. My second thought is we live in the time of Covid. Both have certainly changed things. People have cell phones and computers. Even most television viewing is by streaming rather than a live broadcast so we don’t even all get our news at the same time. We no longer use face to face interactions for the majority of our communications unless you count Zoom meetings and Facetime. We text, we email, and occasionally call. I am a believer that texts and emails can make life easier, but they also cause problems. Some emails are lost, but the sender doesn’t know it. If the message does arrive, vocal nuances and facial expressions do not accompany it so the meaning may be mis-taken. Sending, “That’s great”, does not convey the sarcastic tone that may, or may not be implied. Irony and a questioning lilt that is implied with a tone of voice is lost. Misunderstandings occur and feelings get hurt. I imagine this must be something we have all experienced. I do believe that electronic communication is a beneficial and powerful tool. We just need to take care with how we use it.

Keeping in touch with friends electronically is the new norm. I don’t feel that I have as many close friends now because we are texting and Facebooking, but not really visiting. This is exacerbated by Covid protocols. I am just as guilty of this as anyone. But it does make for a different type of relationship. Or maybe part of it is the natural progression as we get older, we don’t have the same intensity of friendships because we all have our own families and lives to take care of.

When I was younger, I had friends that I frequently spent time with. Even entire weekends. We went places and did things and were a regular part of each other’s lives. Fast forward to today. Does this still hold true? Not so much. Admittedly, two of my closest friends of my adult life have both passed away. So, it’s beyond my, or their, control that we don’t hang out.

On the flip side, I have many more friends than I ever did. These friends are more of the acquaintance variety. I have made most of them virtually. Or I may have met them in person once and we became friends via Facebook. I have made friends through other friends, at parties, at animal rescue events, and through other activities I have been involved in. People that I would only have had contact with one time, have been converted into regular acquaintances.

Some of my friends, I have never met in person at all. We hooked up through different Facebook groups or maybe as friends of friends or we find we share common interests. I have even had some of these virtual friends for years. And these friendships are important to me. I care about these people, and I believe they care about me. We “like” each other’s posts and frequently have conversations about life experiences and day to day life. In times of trouble or sadness, we offer each other words of comfort and support. One of my Facebook friends that I have never met in person was recently diagnosed with an aggressive and rare form of cancer. (Don’t give up, sometimes the doctor’s prognosis is wrong and there is more time to be had!) I am saddened by my friend’s diagnosis and think of her several times a day. My point is these types of friendships can have great value and be meaningful too.

I am blessed to live in an age where I can have friendships with people that live far away from me in distance, but we are close in spirit. I have reconnected with childhood friends and classmates, relatives that live far away. People I wouldn’t have the chance to be in touch with otherwise.

Now don’t get me wrong. I still have some friends that I visit with in person. Even a few new ones since I retired. And family members that I hang out with regularly. In fact, one of the best things is being friends with your adult daughter and your considerably younger brother and all the extended families that now come with them. I also know I am blessed that I love my family members and love spending time with them.

So, what is a friendship? I think it means different things to different people. May your friends be as dear to you as mine are to me.

Peace be with you!

Garden Gate
Appreciate all your friends!

Morning Musings from the Patio

view from the patio garden
My view on the patio.

Good morning, readers! This is my view as I write from the patio. I usually work outside in the gardens during the mornings when it is cool, but today I am doing something different. The patio is shaded in the morning and gets sunny after noon when the sun crests. This makes it hot and much harder to find a shady spot. So, the dogs and I are taking advantage of the beautiful morning.

Not only are the flowers a beautiful sight, they smell good too. With the humidity, the air is heavy and in addition to the usual roses, I smell the gardenias! We have a full-size gardenia, and a button gardenia which gets lots of small flowers. Their scent is heady and divine!

Dog with flower.
Zekie being a good sport.

I rarely spend time on the patio without the dogs. Above,Zekie is patient with my attempts to get a photo op. As long as he can be my constant companion, he is content. His separation anxiety and behavior are improving with the aid of Prozac. I spend a lot of time outdoors gardening and sometimes it is just too hot for the dogs to be outside. I have begun leaving the dogs loose in the house when I go out to work, going in to check on them every half hour or so. Zekie is getting used to it and handling it well. He lays on the landing at the top of the steps and watches me out the back door. Sometimes, I go out of sight, but he seems to be doing ok with it. He is always at the door to greet me when I open it and gives me a sniffing over to determine what I have been up to.

Big smile on a happy dog on the patio.
Being outside gives Baxter a big smile.

Baxter doesn’t like to have his picture taken. If he knows you are taking it, he turns his head to the side. It works best to zoom in from a distance and snap the photo. He has a great smile, so it is well worth the effort. He loves the futons but sometimes they get too hot for him. His second favorite place in the patio garden is under the dawn redwood tree where the cool soil is exposed. This makes a fine napping spot for a 13 year old dog.

Smiling dog in the patio garden.
Claire pauses to give a smile.

Taking pictures of Claire is rather like photographing toddlers. You have to take a lot of pictures to get one that is usable. About half of them are blurry because she is moving. Many of the rest result in her looking anywhere besides at the camera. She just has a very short attention span and is constantly turning to watch a bird or bee or running after a chipmunk. I am convinced she wouldn’t hurt them. Yesterday, she walked up within two feet of a wren that was getting a caterpillar from the ground. She stood there and watched the wren until it flew to the top of the fence, smacked its caterpillar on the fence a few times and then flew to its nest box on the opposite fence and fed its young. Claire has a busy mind. This is why she’s not the most obedient dog. She has too many other things to think about.

Greyhound sleeping on a futon. Patio garden.
Cassius relaxing.

This is Cassius’ typical position when he is on the patio. He loves the futons. Greyhounds do like to relax. And who can blame them with those bony legs? Cassius comes to me for pets from time to time but mostly he lays around napping and watching life go by. Not a bad deal.

Napping sheltie in a patio garden.
Shelby having a nap.

And this brings us to the matriarch of our pack. Shelby often joins us on the patio. She almost never goes out to the pasture with the other dogs, but she will deign to join us when we sit on the patio. Shelby doesn’t like to hang out with dogs. She will join us when we retire to the patio because I am always there too. And spending time with mom is life’s goal for her. She is a good companion and a true working partner. I can always count on her for therapy dog work and public events with our dog club such as volunteering at the county fair. Reliable is her middle name. She is 12 years old and slowing down. Now I direct her with hand signals to assist with her failing hearing. She is happy to respond, and we continue our work with these minor adjustments. That’s what teamwork is all about.

As I write this post, on the patio surrounded by our five dogs and many flowers, listening to the morning sounds of birds, I realize that I am blessed. I wish blessings to you also, my friends.

Peace be with you.

Books I Read in June 2022

Our patio

Hello Readers,

I hope you are enjoying your summer. Mercifully, the area I live in, northeast Ohio, has been spared many of the storms and wildfires that have been taking place in the rest of the country. Our weather has had some hot spells, but nothing like in the south and southwest. It has been dry, dry, dry though! We spend an hour and a half watering every other day. This includes the vegetable garden, various shrubs and flowers, hanging baskets, wall planters, and all the raised sandstone flowerbeds in our patio garden. Even with the various gardening chores and other commitments, I have made time to read. Mostly because I refuse to go outside when it is over 90 degrees! So, read on to see what my selections for June were.

  1. More Mediterranean-America’s Test Kitchen (Non-Fiction)

A cookbook to inspire eating for wellness. Many of the recipes look delicious. I finally decided I was never likely to prepare any of them because most require an ingredient or spice that I am never likely to have. Things like Za’atar, fenugreek, and fresh fennel. If you’re looking for a healthy challenge though, this may well be the book for you.

2. Death by Chocolate Chip Cupcake-Sarah Graves

Jake and Ellie are back in this series featuring a chocolate themed bakery located in Eastport, Maine. The murders they solve this time are based on an old theme, who can get out of the haunted mansion alive, when the pair caters the desserts for a dinner for the new owner, a fading movie star. Jake manages to survive more mishaps and wounds than you would think possible. This series has Maine, the ocean, chocolate, and good friends. How can you go wrong? I think this is my favorite book in this series so far. It is enjoyable and amusing.

3. Rule Your Day-Joel Osteen (Non-fiction)

This is an inspirational book from the pastor of Lakewood Church, America’s largest church. The author tells us how to be successful in our lives, citing Bible stories and applying them to current times. Oddly enough, many of the suggestions are things I’ve read from business articles. Such goodies as, don’t hang around with people who pull you down. Although I am a Christian and familiar with the Biblical references, I think this book would be beneficial for everyone. It provides useful advice that can be applied to your own life.

4. Our Country Friends-Gary Shteyngart

A group of friends gathers at a country house and its surrounding cottages in upstate New York to ride out the pandemic. They learn a lot about each other as they try to stay safe. They learn things about each other that they never expected. A group of three life long friends, an adopted Asian child, an arrogant actor, and others make up the cast who isolate to stay safe from the Covid pandemic. This book was not my cup of tea. I am ready to move on to a more cheerful read. I may have appreciated it more if the pandemic was a thing of the past.

5. With Love from London-Sarah Jio

Valentina Baker is jilted by her boyfriend and then learns that her estranged mother has died and left her a bookshop in London. She hasn’t seen her mother since she left when Valentina was 12 years old. The book tells Valentina’s story as well as her mother’s. Things are not always as they seem. This is a book of friendship that explores roads not taken. This is a fun, feel-good book and I highly recommend it.

Magazines: Country Living, Yankee

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!