Friday, June 26, 2009

Fred--annoyed

Fred anoyed This is Fred. It's not the nicest picture of him. He was quite annoyed at the time. See, Fred likes to chill in his carrier. We think this is amusing. I mean, we've never had a cat who actually LIKED being in a pet carrier. Fred is NOT like most cats.

As a matter of fact, Fred was a rescue cat. He and his brother, George, were in a cage at PetSmart for THIRTY-NINE WEEKS before we brought him home. Technically, he should be a basket case. He's not. He's quite a mellow cat, and extremely affectionate.

But don't mess with him when he's snoozing in his carrier.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY--PEONY WARS

Today's guest is Mary Jane Maffini, author of the Charlotte Adams (organizer) mystery series.

Peony Perhaps it was the climate, but I never so much as spotted a peony when I was growing up in Nova Scotia. The first time I saw them, I was a young teacher and a tiny girl in first grade brought me a bunch of delightful deep pink beauties for my desk in June. I was struck, no, make that besotted, and possibly even bewitched, bothered, and bewildered. Of course it was years before I had a garden of my own but when I did, whammo, in went peonies. New ones, heritage varieties, pale pink, white, deep fuchsia, you get the picture. They need to be planted just so, not too deep, not too shallow. They need sun; they need ants. Whatever it takes, I said, I'll do it. I had to have them.

No petal peony And how did my darlings repay me? Well, let me tell you. Peonies usually bloom in early June in Zone 4 which is where my Ottawa peonies are. They allegedly continue flowering for several weeks. For years I had jobs that required me to be at conferences for a week every June, although never the same week. For nearly a month I would watch the buds grow, flourish and bulge. Then just as I would be heading out the door to fly off to the Canadian Library Association conference, or the Special Libraries Association gathering, or the Canadian Booksellers Association educational sessions and trade show, I could almost hear the sproinging sound of petals bursting open. Perhaps there would be a tantalizing glimpse of a half-opened bloom. Then my taxi would zoom down the street and I'd be gone. I'd return to find millions of white, pale pink and deep fuschia petals lying inches deep on the ground and the spent plants gasping and ready to pack it up until the next year.

But now I work at home, allegedly writing. My conferences are in May except for Bloody Words one weekend in early June. My peony problem should be well in the past. But no. Not so fast. This year I headed out to Book Expo America secure in the knowledge that the peonies were not ready. Bloody Words followed the next week and they were just gearing up. I rubbed my hands in glee. This was going to be the best crop ever! Hundreds of buds all looking vigorous. And I was home, happily writing in my little office with plenty of time to enjoy them, taking a cup of coffee in the morning, and promenading by proudly.

The little scamps must have been playing games with my head. As I finally left for a family road trip in the third week of June, long after the peonies should have flowered, the blooms were getting ready to pop. One had unfurled in a provocative, even seductive manner. Maybe they can hold off until I get home, I thought, seeing as they are already well past their normal blooming pattern. Anything is possible.

Three days after I left, I called my husband who was watching the fort, which includes my tiny garden. "Please check the peonies," I said.

"The what?"

"Peonies," I repeated, jaw clenched.

Long pause. "Are they the ones with the big beautiful flowers?"

"Yes."

"They're blooming, all right. There are hundreds of them. They're gorgeous."

"Huh."

I'll be home a week from today and once again will get to see a zillion petals on the ground. Why do they do it? And how do they know?

"Take a photo please," I sniffed, "and email it to me. At least I can get to see them that way."

"But you have the digital camera with you," he pointed out.

True. Too true.

I think it's all part of the great peony plot. These flowers are not to be trusted.

White peony Am I peevish? No kidding. I may be defeated, but it's not too late to plan for next year. This time, trust me, peonies, this means war.

And what's bugging YOU today?
---------------------------------------

Messy Desk When not staring morosely at her peonies, Mary Jane Maffini writes the Charlotte Adams mysteries, the Camilla MacPhee series and the Fiona Silk adventures. Visit Mary Jane's Web site. her at . Her latest book is Death Loves a Messy Desk. Check out her latest book trailer here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ME AND MY LAPTOP

Acer laptop It's a long boring story about how I got my laptop. (So just pretend you already slept through that one.) I didn't want a laptop. When I got the thing, I didn't like it. It has a very bad habit that annoys me. I'll be typing along and suddenly the cursor jumps up to another line. No warning--there you are typing your latest thought in the middle of some other sentence. I've gotten so I read along as I type, just to make sure I'm still where I'm supposed to be.

But for the past year, I haven't been able to write in my office. It's become goof-off central. Oh, I can do blogs, write e-mails, and work on promotion, but I can't seem to work on my books. Hello! That's my job. I'm supposed to report to the office every day and produce literature (or at least have a whack at it). But it hasn't worked out that way.

When the deadline was getting tight, I decided one day to take the hated laptop to the dining room table and see what happened. At first, I didn't log into the Internet for fear I'd Twitter just make the dining room a goof-off annex, but it hasn't worked out that way. I have a boom box, so I've got music, and I have access to mail, and Tweetdeck, and Facebook, and, most importantly, GOOGLE. I didn't realize how much I depended on Google for research until I decided not to use the Internet in the dining room. (That lasted about a week.)

Illuminated manuscript The current manuscript is going pretty well. (They never seem to gel for me until I get close to the 50,000 word mark.) I'm still seriously short on word count, but June has been good to me. Of course, I have two more books to write in the next nine months, so I'm really sweating it. But buckling down and concentrating on getting my daily word count (which I often miss), is good. I feel like the little engine that could. If I get something substantial done at least five days a week, I feel fairly good about it. (And if I exceed my word count, I'm absolutely ecstatic.)

Oops--just looked at the clock. Time to fire up the laptop and get back to work.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

CROP UPDATE

Ground_beans Things are growing quite well at Casa de Lorna. So far, the bunnies haven't eaten more than eight or nine of the beans. I've been putting cayenne pepper on the leaves, and that seems to be deterring them, and yesterday we put granular blood pellets down, which is supposed to deter them, too. In this picture, you can see the beans and almost see one that was bunny-bitten. (Bottom Middle.)

Container_beans To hedge my bets, I planted beans in the ground, but also in a big container. So far, the container beans are outperforming those in the ground. Go figure. I figure they're going to start climbing before the end of the week.

Now here's a potential problem. What if I have a bumper crop of beans this year? I planted them here at home and at our family's cottage. I LOVE fresh green beans and could eat them every day. Hubby isn't quite as enthusiastic. My luck at freezing them has been hit and miss. I seem to blanch them too long, and then they're mushy when you go to cook them for dinner. (Anyone want to give some advice?)

Potato_bin We had a LOT of rain last week, and the potatoes said, "WEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" and really took off. I'm using new dirt this year (again, growing them in a container), and they seem a lot happier than their predecessors. I'm hoping to have a bumber crop this year. (Past years haven't yielded more than two meals.)

Broccoli_sprouts The broccoli and Brussels Sprouts have been happy with the rain, too. Likewise the tomatoes. And already my parsley has gone to seed, which is telling me to get off my butt and pick it. (Meanwhile, I've been nipping it--hoping it'll bush out.)

Container_gardening This is the first year I've grown lettuce, and again, to hedge my bets, I did it in a little container. I'm hoping we'll be eating fresh lettuce by the end of the week. That pot on the bottom contains one of my heirloom tomato "seedlings." I had them in little containers and decided last week they were big enough to have their own pots. (Actually, there's two in this pot--I ran out of pots.) They're doing well, albeit late, and I'm hoping to have at least a few purple and green tomatoes before the frost.

I love going out in the garden and seeing my crops doing well, and I don't even mind weeding. (Still have some mulching to do in the flower beds.)

Who knew gardening could be so much back-breaking fun.

Monday, June 22, 2009

WHERE'S MY BOOK?

I don't know about you, but I take a book with me wherever I go. You never know if you're going to get stuck in traffic, or have to wait in the car while hubby runs in the store to get a bag of ice -- or something like that. Rather than being bored, carrying a book with you means you have your entertainment at your fingertips 24/7.

Until you leave your book someplace you can't get back to for a few days.

All Mortal Flesh I visited a friend over the weekend, and of course I took my current read with me. (All Mortal Flesh by Julia Spencer-Fleming.) Wow--I'm really enjoying this book (which is the 5th in the series). But things were rushed at the last minute. Not only did I forget the book, but I forgot my hat. I have three of them, so I can live without it for a week. But I WANT MY BOOK! I want to know what happens with Clare and Russ. I want to know who murdered Russ's wife. I was halfway through the book, and intended to finish the book in one BIG read so I can jump into Julia's next book, already sitting at the top of my TO BE READ pile. (I shall Not Want.)

But nooooooo! I had to leave it behind on the countertop. Why didn't I put the book with my purse? I had to have my purse to leave. That's where I keep my car keys. But nooooooooo! It was on the countertop and my purse was on the couch.

The book will still be there when I return this weekend. But I want to read it NOW.

(Does that ever happen to you?)

Friday, June 19, 2009

WEEKEND GETAWAY

We saw this little getaway at a sale in an RV camp last weekend. Don't you just love the palm trees? (Bet the one on the left is cute at night. Okay, I admit it. We have two of them.)
CherryGrove

And here's a better view of the little sign directing you to Margaritaville. (All that's missing are a couple of pink flamingos.)

Cherry grove palm tree

Have a GREAT weekend!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY: Those Wretched Woodpeckers

Today's guest is J.B.Stanley, author of the Supper Club Mysteries.

Woodpecker Last year, a pair of woodpeckers chipped away pieces of our wood siding in the front and back of the house. Not satisfied with that destruction, they pecked a hole all the way through the siding into the attic and made themselves a lovely little nest.

I tried many, many humane methods to get rid of them. After all, I’m an animal lover and I also read on Wikipedia that ALL woodpeckers are federally protected and that one needs a federal permit (and sometimes a state permit as well) in order to “implement lethal control.” Therefore, I knew I couldn’t blast the feathered siding assassins into the next life.Drats. (Honestly, I don’t think I’d have the guts to pull the trigger!)

What did I do? First, I hung several rubber snakes from the window. The snakes blew in the breeze and looked altogether ridiculous, but they seemed to work. For about a day. The woodpeckers simply relocated to the back of the house. Thus, more snakes out that window. Even the mailman asked us what was going on…

Next, I hung Mylar balloons and silver streamers from the windows and the nearby birch tree. Unsuccessful. The woodpeckers relocate to the attic area.

I called an exterminator. “We don’t deal with woodpeckers,” heinforms me. “Forget the birds!” I shout. “Kill the bugs they’re eating!” Hepromises to smear the walls with ant-annihilation paste. The paste washes off with the next rain.

Three months later the woodpeckers have mysteriouslyvanished. I call a carpenter. He replaces the boards. I call a painter. I callthe exterminator. The cost of all this? $1200!

Sponge Bob So when the woodpeckers returned this year, with two redheaded children in their wake, I acted early. I went on the offensive. I took charge. (I’m a liar. I got lucky). It so happened that I’d bought my son a giant Spongebob balloon (with wiggly limbs) as a treat. When I heard the first, mind-rattling peck, peck, I hung Mr. SB from the window. Eureka! Not only does he scare off grandparents, but he
terrifies woodpeckers.

Three days later when my brother called from Connecticut with his own woodpecker woes. Woody is waking their household up at 5 a.m. every morning. “What should I do?” he asked wearily. I sat back in my chair and smugly said, “Go buy a Spongebob balloon. It’ll cost $9.99 but it will be worth every cotton-pickin’ cent.”

And what's bugging YOU today?
------------------------------------
The battered body J.B. Stanley is the author of the Supper Club Mysteries. Her latest release is The Battered Body. Check out J.B.'s website, and you can also find her blogging on Thursdays with the Cozy Chicks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

LIFE IS JUST A BOWL . . .

One of the simple pleasures of summer is fresh fruit. Guess what?

Bowlofcherries

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

FLOWERS IN THE GARDEN

I love my new camera. I've had it for about two months now, and I'm really getting back into the swing of taking it with me wherever I go--just to get a grab shot. (Like yesterday's pig pictures--yes, I only put one up, but I took a LOT more.) My camera holds over 300 pictures, but it always seems like I'm on the verge of a purge.

Violets I've taken a lot of pictures of the yard. I like this picture of violets. They're so delicate. Frank considers them a week, and yanks them out when he sees them, but I think they're pretty--at least when they're blooming.

Lilacs_2 The lilacs were particularly beautiful -- a MONTH AGO, but I never had an opportunity to show them off . . . until now. (Do you think I have a thing for purple flowers?) They smelled really nice, and Frank called his sister in Florida, who loves the scent of lilacs, to brag about it. Now they're gone, but we have our memories -- and pictures, too.

Monday, June 15, 2009

THIS LITTLE PIGGIE . . .

Roscoe2-cropped You never know what you’re going to find when you’re out junking. One of the things I found this weekend was . . . a pig.

Yes, a real, live, large-economy sized (1,100 lbs.) PIG. His name was Rosco. He wasn’t raised to be a pork dinner—he was the family pet. Mostly he just nuzzles around looking for something to eat.

At first I missed Rosco. I went into this little barn, which SMELLED really BAD. But, there was lots of neat stuff inside, and I poked around and found a few things to buy. I’d already gotten in the car when my husband said, “Take a look at that pig.” I thought he was being rude about one of the sale’s customers, and was about to berate him when I spied Roscoe. Whoa! I’ve seen pigs before, but never close up.

Goat1--cropped I grabbed the camera and asked the guy running the sale if I could take a picture. “Sure, go ahead!” So, I walked up to the electric fence, which held not only Roscoe, but a cow (who was happily munching hay) and a goat. (Never got their names.)

Of course, that got everyone’s attention, and the next thing you know there were kids and a woman who once had a pet pig (same size as Roscoe) in the pen petting him. He seemed to like it.

2_Donkeys The guy also said they had a miniature stallion, but I didn’t get his picture. (Too bad, he was really handsome—and he didn’t look like a pony, either.) They also had two donkeys, who didn’t seem that interested in being photographed—but they didn’t complain, either.

Along the route, we saw a snapping turtle crossing the road (whew--yes, he made it!) and a wild turkey ran in front of our car. (Oops! we almost had a fine dinner.)

It just goes to show you, you just never know what you’re going to find when you go out junking.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I WANT A NEW (to me) TELEPHONE

New phone Have you tried to buy a phone lately? I'm talking landline phone. In your house. The kind of phone you can put on your shoulder and talk to your mother while you stir the spaghetti sauce so it doesn't burn. You CAN'T find them. The only things available these days are all cell phone wannabes.

I want a REAL telephone. And OLD telephone. As it happens, when we were growing up (way back through the mists of time). The phone company owned the phone. We were one of the first families on the block to actually BUY our own telephone, and it was pink (the same color as our house). I loved it.

Scrooge2 The phone company was made up of grumpy old men and they didn't want people to have extension phones. It was a BIG no-no, but somehow my Dad got hold of an old Art Deco telephone, and he ran the wires and we had TWO--count 'em--TWO phones in our house.

As a kid, I found it hard to lift the receiver of that old phone--it was HEAVY, and I didn't like the phone. Where had it come from? Did it have cooties? When the phone rang, I'd run to the front of the house to use the pink phone just so I wouldn't have to use that terrible old phone.

Vintage telephone Of course, now I would KILL to have that phone. I've seen similar phones in antique shops, not in as good shape, and they want between $60 and $100. (The graphic on the left doesn't do that phone justice.)

Since I can't have the phone of my dreams (or at least I'm too cheap to get it--and where would I put it?), I've given it to my character, Tricia Miles. She keeps it in her Haven't Got a Clue bookstore where she sells vintage mysteries. When she uses it, it takes her back to the days of Agatha Cristie and Harriet Vane and getting lost in their adventures.

Maybe what I really need isn't an old phone, but more time to read mysteries.

That sounds good to me.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY--CRITTERS WHO EAT MY FLOWERS

Today's guest is author Kate Collins, who writes the Flower Shop Mysteries.

Raccoon flowers I'm really peeved about a raccoon that keeps tearing up my newly planted flowers. Darned critter comes out at night and rips out the flower and roots, usually separately, then digs a hole to the bottom of the pot, no doubt looking for grubs. WHICH HE NEVER FINDS. But does that stop him from returning the next night? Of course not.

I've tried putting a repellent on the plants, but we've had rain every single night Shoot your eye out since then, which washes off the repellent, and then he's right back at it again. (I say "he" because a lady raccoon would take the hint!) I am not a hunter, but if I had a BB gun, I might be dangerous. Or I'd shoot my eye out.

At any rate, I'm tired of replanting petunias! I need help. Suggestions anyone?

(And what's bugging you today?)
-------------------------------------
Evil In Carnations Kate Collins, is the author of The Flower Shop Mysteries. Her latest release is EVIL IN CARNATIONS, where the dating scene can be a killer! Kate posts on Mondays at The Cozy Chicks blog. You can also visit Kate on Myspace, Facebook, or LinkedIn

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

YARD WORK

For the first time in a long time, I'm really gardening. Veggies and flowers. Of course, every time I plant vegetables, I've been heartbroken. Despite the fact bunnies and groundhogs have decimated my veggies in years past, I still want to get out there and try it every year. And this year I've done it in a big way.

VegGarden2 I know a lot of people are planting gardens because our First Lady has had a kitchen garden installed on the White House lawn, but I've been planting veggies for a long time -- not always with success. (See above paragraph. BTW, the above photo was taken by Frank last month when we were in Washington.)

My very first veggie garden was a thing of beauty. My Dad and I planted it at my first house and I had tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli, and Brussels Sprouts. Guess what? That's what I planted this year, too!

Tomatoseedlings I've tried to do my veggies from seed, but I don't have the proper lighting, etc., and no room to set up something like that (and stay married), but I wanted to try to do heirloom tomatoes from seed. These little guys are about a month old. I know--I know, they're way -- way late, and the thing is--the tomato I got the seeds from was downright ugly -- but I like that its an OLD tomato, like they used to eat generations ago. (How cool is that?) And, I all it has taken is my time. (And Frank has had to rescue the seedlings from my cat Fred several times. To Fred, they look like salad.)

Potatos2009 The potatoes have sprouted. I grow them in a big blue container, just to make it easy to harvest my "crop." Of course, without a lot of room to grow, you don't get huge spuds. But I enjoy it and it's free. (Yup, I use the potatoes that have sprouted in my pantry.)

I spent a lot of time on Monday working on "my little patch" of the yard. (Frank usually does 90% of the garden, choosing the annuals and planting them.) Right now I've got what was supposed to be a climbing rose. It's been there at least four years and has not felt inclined to climb. Mylittlecorner It had a sister bush, but it died. I think it's returned to root stock, but it does put out one or two brave roses a year, so it stays. (Frank wants to rip it out and replace it.) Last year, I put a hosta in there, and it did okay. This year it said--whoa! I like being here! and has taken off. I was going to put an azalea in there, but decided it would look too crowded, so this year I put in about 40 gladioli (which haven't done anything yet--and probably won't until nearly September) and six begonias. Then I mulched the heck out of it. It looks nice and tidy, which it hasn't done for some time.

Here's a shot of the new bird bath. (That's my little pot of lettuce on the left, and a Japanese lantern my Mom gave Birdbath me. Isn't it cute? That's the veggie garden in the background.) We'd been looking for a bird bath like this for at least six years. Nobody seemed to be carrying them. We thought it was be fun for the cats to watch birds up close (kinda like CAT-TV). Last summer, Wegmans had a little brass (or something like that) bird baths and, as we were desperate, we bought one. But we only saw birds use it once--in some kind of frenzy, and that was it. My mother bought one, too, but the birds didn't like hers, either. I drove around for about an hour with the new bird bath in the back of the minivan while I did other errands, and it wasn't until I got home that I discovered a wasps nest inside the base. Yikes! It's installed, with nice clean water. Now to see if the birds find it.

The yard is shaping up. Just have some mulching left to do (and get out the leaf blower to clean up the last of the arborvitae leaves that dropped) and we can enjoy our garden for the rest of the summer.

And I can get back to working on the book.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy!

I'm up to my elbows in alligators, with no time to blog today (or yesterday), but I thought I'd at least post a picture.

Flowersfromwayside This should give you a bit of a clue as to what I've been doing. (Today, it's HOT and HUMID and I need to MULCH.)

But you can also check out my rant on Writers Plot.

Hope to be back tomorrow.

Friday, June 5, 2009

CALENDARS

I don't know about you, but I depend on Calendars to keep me going. Or at least to tell me where I need to be going.

Chintz cup Usually I get a wonderful calendar for my office. Something nice and BIG, with BIG squares I can write in. And the subject matter will be something very appealing. Last year it was teapots and tea parties. I've had cat calendars, Susan Branch calendars, even Harry Potter calendars. Nice Big Calendars.

Fishing Last Christmas, I got a small Harry Potter calendar. I knew it wasn't going to work. The date squares are dinky at best. (Nice pictures, though.) Unfortunately, I decided to wait until New Year's before I went out to look for a calendar. Of course, by then, only the dregs were left--stuff I couldn't bear the thought of looking at for the next twelve months. Ugly, ugly stuff. Like sports. Killing animals or fish.

I thought I'd try calendaring on AOL. But I keep forgetting to look there. I have a day planner, but I keep misplacing it.

Nope, I need a calendar on the wall. WITH BIG SQUARES.

Calendar They're starting to put out the calendars in places like Barnes & Noble and the craft stores (think Michaels). Should I pay full shot and guarantee that I get a calendar with big squares (and hopefully PRETTY), or wait and be disappointed once again.

Uh, I think this one is a no-brainer.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY: GET OFF THAT PHONE!

It seems the most popular pet peeve these days is people who will not stop talking on their cell phone. Here's Krista Davis's (author of the Domestic Diva Mysteries) take on it.

Red hat This pet peeve makes me feel like a cranky old aunt. You know the kind -- wears a hat at all times, gives those stares full of daggers when etiquette is breached, and wishes white gloves were still all the rage.

In a way I suppose I'm lucky, because it took this long before someone answered a cellphone and talked while we were eating in a restaurant. Now, I'm not a stickler for haughty behavior, but it was a little bit odd to have someone engaged in a conversation with someone else right in front of me. I didn't want to listen in, and we were eating, so I didn't really want to excuse myself, either. And I had to wonder why that call couldn't have waited.

Which brings me to my point. Why are we on the phone all the time?

I recently made a trip to a big box store and kept passing a woman who was on the phone while she shopped. As far as I could tell, she talked non-stop. If I had been one of her three children, I'd have been tossing huge boxes of cookies into the shopping cart, because she wouldn't have noticed. In fact, I wondered if she would remember to buy whatever it was that she needed. As it happened, I was loading my car when she left the store. She was still on the phone! When she pulled out of the parking lot, with the three children in her car, she drove with one hand so she could continue to hold the phone to her ear with the other hand. What was so important that it couldn't wait until she got home?

Banned cellphone It seems like all sorts of places now have signs insisting people not use their phones when they enter, or when they're in line. The local courthouse confiscates phones. You can't even bring one inside, because they don't trust people to turn them off. I can't say I blame them.

Friends of mine who loved to sail had one rule -- no phones. They were onto something good. Everyone on board left work, business, and personal problems behind and relaxed. These days, it seems like everyone takes their problems with them. No wonder we're so tense. Everything has been elevated to emergency status, and we never turn off the phone and take time for ourselves.

Umbrella drink But to that end, I'm going to start posting cocktails on thedivadishes.blogspot.com every Friday. Turn off your phone, mix yourself a drink, and kick back with me!

And what's bugging YOU today?

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Diva cake Nationally bestselling author Krista Davis writes the Domestic Diva Mystery series. The first book in the series, The Diva Runs Out of Thyme, was nominated for an Agatha award. Her second book, The Diva Takes the Cake, has just been released. Watch the trailer here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

LANDSCAPING 101

Uglymess2 For several years now, we've been saying, "We ought to do something about the mess in the front of the house." But things came up, winter came, stuff like that.

Finally, it just got out of control. Not only were the things we didn't want getting out of control, the weeds were huge. It finally became time TO DO SOMETHING.

It was a big surprise to me when hubby announced, "I've contracted to have the front of the house cleaned up." What? Without my input? (Slow boil.) But, okay--it was such a mess I was willing to go that way. Until I found out that my favorite rhododendron was to be KILLED. Chopped up by a chain saw. Ripped out by the roots.

I don't think so!

Nope, it was going. Hubby was adamant.

Oh no!

Uglymess3 So one day last week, landscaping guys came. A day early--before 8 a.m. Backing up the driveway with a big truck filled with dirt. Yes, they started with the chainsaw and ripping out everything (including my daffodil bulbs!!!) but the were NOT going to kill that rhododendron. So off to the backyard I went and starting digging a very big hole.

Replantrhodo1 I was prepared to move the bush myself, but was grateful when two of the guys did it for me. Of course the big question now is, will it survive? Only time will tell.

I was amazed how fast the guys transformed the "mess" into a nice tidy area with hydrangeas, hostas, three NEW rhododendrons, a ninebark, and a bleeding heart.

It's a bit stark yet, and I imagine it'll take a couple of years before things "fill out." (I'm also wondering how long it'll take before the guy who plows our drive in the winter rams into the rock on the far right.) But no doubt about it. It's tidy.Newfront4

Of course, now I'm thinking . . . maybe we should add shutters. Repaint (new color)? And . . . and . . .

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

DEAR NANCY . . . A Letter to Victoria Magazine

One of my all-time favorite magazines has been Victoria. In the 1990s, it was the quintessential elegant celebration of all things girlie. Silver tea sets, gorgeous flowers, all-things chintz, and old lace. Ahhhh.

Its editor was one Nancy Lindemeyer. Under her guidance, the magazine flourished. Then she retired around 2001 or 2002. The magazine soon failed under its new editor. (Sorry, Peg, but it’s true.)

I’ve written about the old Victoria, and its resurrection, and those two blog posts are the most accessed on this blog. (Thank you, Google.) Not a day goes by when one, if not both of those posts gets read by someone out in cyberspace. (Although, sadly, those readers don’t seem to come back and read the new entries on this blog. Bummer.)

I was not a subscriber of the old Victoria from day one. Therefore, every time I see an old issue at a yard sale, I scoop it up. I’ve been able to find most, but not yet all of the old issues. I like to pull those old issues out during the summer to revisit favorite articles from up to 18 years ago. And I’ve purchased a LOT of back issues at yard sales.

VictoriaMay1998 A year or so ago, I bought quite a few back issues. But as I was going through them this past weekend, I found one that had a hand-written note to Nancy Lindemeyer. Or I should say, an unfinished note to Nancy. It read:

5-27-98

Dear Nancy,

I recently ordered a 2-year subscription to Victoria for our business. I always read it first, then take it to the office where many times the ladies will ask to take it home for a day or two.

Today it came, my new subscription. But I got 2 issues. One May & one June. My first thought was “oh well,” but as I read through the May issue, it’s all about Mother’s Day! Mother’s Day is long gone.

I don’t buy out-dated food and I don’t buy outdated magazines. Yours is a great magazine. The best in my eyes. I have been reading it for years. I used to dream of planning my only daughter’s wedding using ideas from your magazine. And one day I did. It was the most beautiful wedding. She wore a petal pink Cinderella gown and her Victorian bouquet was beautiful.


DearNancy The letter ends there. Okay, what was the writer saying? She was annoyed that she got two issues—one old, one new—but still, she’d used what she’d read in past issues to plan the biggest day in her daughter’s life.

Hello! What’s the problem here? She got a magazine a week or so late and it annoyed her, but then how long had she waited before she’d renewed her subscription? And how terribly annoyed was this woman when the magazine failed under it’s new editor? (I can tell you, I was pretty damned annoyed.)

The new Victoria isn’t quite as wonderful as its predecessor. Then again, even in its current incarnation, it’s much better than the alternative: having NO Victoria magazine.

But it was really kind of neat seeing the hand-written note, the looping letters in cursive script. Did the woman ever finish the letter? Did she go into greater detail about her daughter’s wedding, or did she just decide: Oh dear, what was I thinking? . . . and just shove the pages into the May 1998 issue and say/think “the hell with it.”

We’ll never know.