Posted in Gardening, On Writing, organization

My backyard revisions meet a drought

The 2021 garden season was the culmination of a three year project to transform the damaged deck and perpetually soggy backyard into a functional space where kids could hang with friends, the cats could enjoy the outside from the safety of a screened in porch, my native pollinator garden, needing no extra water, would be in full bloom, and the abundance of pollinators would guarantee a good tomato yield.

That dream is not fully realized this year. Between Covid-19, smoke from wildfires, high heat, and drought, the plot twists did not work in my favor. (BTW – neither did technology – this is take two on this post. The first one poofed when I tried to fix a typo.) Even though the garden photos are not as lush and in bloom as I would have liked, I’m happy to share some photos.

Before: A deck that heaved every winter, stairs that ended in a hill.
After construction, before landscaping. And yes, there are mud puddles.
Year Two in progress. The retaining wall redirects the water away from the flat part of the yard.
Phase Two complete. The sump pump empties into the rock river bed under the stairs.
Year Three! The plants are a little droopy. In a wetter year, it would be easier to see the yellow and pink blooms along the rock river bed. The pollinator garden is on the left side, and the right has prairie grasses. The lawn has a mix of grass and clover, and is a great place for soccer or bocce.

The process of revising the back yard is a lot like revising a book. It takes time to plan, build, fix what is not working, and at some point you have to accept that while it may not be quite what you first envisioned, the end result is satisfying.

Posted in ethics, organization

Don’t open the invoice email

Dear readers,

I’ve been hacked. Someone got hold of my Mailchimp newsletter mailing list and sent out a whole bunch of invoices in my name. I am livid and I bet you are too.

PLEASE Delete the emails and above all do not download any files.

The hackers have broken my promise to you the reader to protect your information and use it only for my quarterly newsletter. They have destroyed my integrity with some of you and made me lose some of you.

I apologize from the bottom of my heart. I sincerely regret any inconvenience this has caused you.

Image of one of the hacked emails
Posted in On Writing, organization

GDPR makes my brain hurt

I’m neither a lawyer nor a web developer and legalese gives me a headache. I’ve been wading through a sea of information for nearly two weeks and I still can’t figure out if this blog is GDPR compliant. I’ve been in what feels like an endless loop of developers, font providers, hosts and big fancy words to try and avoid getting in trouble with my European followers.

I haven’t figured it out, yet, but I will tell you this. If you want to sign up for my newsletter, I’ll need your email address and your permission. If you want to comment on my site, I’m asking for a name and email because it cuts down on the amount of spam comments unrelated to the reason you came to this site. Plus, if you decide to follow the thread, it will send you an email if there are changes in the response. If you sign up to follow this blog, you will get an email when I post.

The only thing I personally do with the data on this site, is get excited when I see a map of my visitors. Thank you for letting me do that. I love maps.

Sometimes ads appear at the bottom of this site, so I suppose cookies are collected somewhere and used by someone. I’ll keep digging through the GDPR words until I find answers that satisfy me.

Posted in organization

Construction delays continue

I’ve been doing some behind the scenes prep work on my website renovation.  I picked an image for my banner, and have updated my social media sites with various crops of the same photo, and yes, I’m proud to say, I took the photo of red-buds in bloom.

I don’t have all the pieces in place yet. I still have colors to change and text to update. Before I go too far down this path, what do you think of the new look?

Is the font easy to read? Is this a place you’d visit again? Let me know in the comments or by email if something on this design is wonky.

Thanks for your patience.

Posted in company, On Writing, organization

Rules for house cleaning

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in my life.  I spend far too much time cleaning the house and not enough time daydreaming and writing.  To alleviate this dire situation I’ve developed a new set of guidelines for keeping the house cleaner and lessening the time I must spend doing this dreaded chore.

1. No shoes in the house. Leave the dirt, leaves and pollen outside.

2. Don’t let the children eat crumb producing foods like crackers inside the house.

3. Dont let my husband eat crumb producing foods inside the house.

Is this my future?

4. Prevent litter box tracking.  Train the cats to use the toilet (and flush). I anticipate this will take about eight years.

5. Insist everyone, cats included, wear dust mop socks when inside.  This should keep the floors cleaner, but may result in increased laundry.

6. Remove all toys with small pieces from the home to reduce the likelihood of stepping on a wayward Lego or worse, sucking a child’s “most important piece ever” into the vaccuum.

7. Ban all craft projects involving glitter.

8. Throw out everything prone to shedding.  Oops – cross that out. I refuse to cut my hair even though I am the most shed-prone.

8. Invent “Hover Slippers” so no-one has to walk on the grimy floor.  Sit down at computer and write the next novel.

Posted in organization, Uncategorized

Cheap Thrills

For the second weekend in a row, I’m trying my best to resist the siren’s call.  There’s an estate sale within walking distance of my house and a balloon festooned sign announcing the sale in my yard.  This is a problem because I love estate sales.

Unlike the humble garage sale, which can be a great place to find bargains, the estate sale allows me to enter the home of a stranger and peruse their furnishing in situ. Even without the personal knickknacks often claimed by family members, the estate sale offers a glimpse into how other people lived.  What furniture did this collector of depression era glass prefer?  What did they read? And where did they sit while reading?  And there is the problem, for me anyway.

I have the bad habit of buying chairs. My garage is a testimony to my love of chairs old and new.  I try to only walk to estate sales since driving makes it much easier to load up on chairs. It wasn’t that long ago that I managed to drag home a pair of blue leather mid-century twentieth century chairs that I scored for $45.  They are really comfortable.  Perfect for kids and grown-ups alike, which is a rare feature to find.

I’m trying my best to stay on my work chair today, which is a lovely red sparkle retro-diner chair. But it’s hard to forget the twenty-dollar bill in my wallet and the desire to have an adventure.  If I’m slow answering email today, you’ll know why.

What’s your estate sale addiction? Tell me and I’ll keep an eye out for you.

Posted in On Writing, organization, Writing

How to not write

I’ve been busy today. I feel like a twitter fiend and I visited the ShyWritters blogspot for a Q&A. I facebooked and caught up on some board business for the Chesapeake Romance Writers.  I polished and submitted my entry for the Finish the Damn Book contest (Deadline Oct 12.), and followed up on promotional items.

The one thing I didn’t do – Write. The day isn’t over, but I’m not optimistic. Sometimes it seems writers do everything but write.  I don’t think this problem is unique to writers. I know plenty of people with office jobs who find the only time they can accomplish their work is outside of office hours because during the day they are just to busy.

What type of work gets in the way of your work?

Posted in Gardening, On Writing, organization, South, Uncategorized, Writing


With the weather turning tolerable (meaning lower humidity and temperatures under 90), I’ve finally begun giving my long neglected flower beds the treatment they deserve.  I’m pulling the weeds.

My front walk flower beds became so overgrown this summer, that I hereby apologize to every milk man, newspaper and package deliverer who has graced my door over the last few months.  I do not extend this courtesy to door-to-door marketers.  They deserved to be slapped in the legs as a punishment for taking up my time.  The others did not.

I pull the weeds by hand rather than spraying for three reasons.  First, it provides a bit of exercise. Second, manual labor is cheaper than chemical sprays that cost money and probably add to the pollution in the nearby Chesapeake Bay. (Stepping down from my soap box – sorry). Lastly, pulling weeds gives me a deep sense of satisfaction.  I can see and feel and even smell the progress. Chaos gives way to harmony before my eyes.

Weeding is a form of editing, act of destruction that allows beauty and creativity to thrive.  Soon I will plant pansies or perhaps violas in the vacant spaces leading to my front door. A riot of color will greet me and I’ll smile.

So let me ask you, have you done any weeding lately?