Still Looking, Always Looking

Last fall, I blogged quite a bit about how I was looking for hope. And then the new year arrived, and I just sort of . . . stopped. Not the looking. Just the blogging about it. It wasn't because I'd FOUND hope, really. (Although things were beginning to feel a little more hopeful back then, with a new president and vaccines on the horizon, y'know?) It was more that blogging about my search was hard, and I was ready to stop talking about it.

But I'm actually always . . . 


And I'm feeling like talking about it again. So I'll probably blog about it now and then, going forward. Not on any kind of regular schedule. But every once in a while, I'll share my thoughts.


History says
Don’t hope on this side of the grave
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.
    ---- Seamus Heaney

Lately, I've been feeling a bit . . . off. Not terrible. But also not great. Feeling stuck in an endless loop, and wondering how any of THIS (defined any way you'd like) will End Up. And I know I'm not the only one. Some of you have blogged about feeling this way. My in-real-life friends are talking about it, too. And so is my family.

I think . . . it's These Times.

I mean, we're 18 months into this Covid mess. And the country seems to be . . . well, let's just say . . .  stretched. And it feels like kindness and care and concern have disappeared. And then there's the climate. And . . . ohmygod how can this even BE? 

It's a lot.

Lately, I've been thinking about History.
And my Grandmother.

Even though there has been a lot of History (with a capital H) that has happened since I was born in 1959, it's all seemed kind of distant to me somehow. None of the history-making things of my lifetime have felt all that . . . personal for me. They didn't impact my day-to-day life, for example. They didn't direct what I could or couldn't do or where I could go. Everything kept rolling along . . .  same as it ever was, and I never felt threatened (for lack of a better word) or worried about the future. Even though History was happening all the time, I could still pretty much depend that the future structure of my life would hold.

But now? Well, somehow the future doesn't feel so dependable or seem guaranteed in that same kind of way. And that really does suck the hope right out of the room, doesn't it?

On that cheery note, let's step back and talk about my grandmother for a minute.


My grandmother was born in 1909, and she died just over 100 years later in 2009. Which means she saw a lot of History in her long life, and she lived through a LOT of crises. I mean, think about it . . .  

  • She was a child during World War I.
  • And during the Spanish Flu outbreak.
  • As a young wife and mother, she experienced the Great Depression. On a dairy farm.
  • And in her 30s, she went through World War II separated from her husband for years -- while raising 2 young children. (On a dairy farm).

My grandmother lived through some SERIOUS history.

And somehow, until recently, it never occurred to me to consider what it might have been like for her to live through SO MANY major crises of history -- ALL of them pretty darn personal. During those crises, she woke up every day not knowing how [fill-in-the-blank: WWI, Spanish Flu, The Great Depression, WWII . . . ] would end. She didn't know how any of these stories would turn out while she was living them -- and they really did impact her on daily basis. Restrictions. Rations. Loss. Personal risk. What kept her moving forward? What gave her hope . . . when all of these things were happening during her early life. It must have felt pretty bleak. 

I never really thought about how significant these events would have been for her. First of all, because she never spoke of them. But I think the big thing was that, of course . . . I already KNEW the outcomes! I knew what happened: that the Spanish Flu ended and the Great Depression ended and World War II ended . . . with Victory. So it was easy for me to minimize the reality of how it must have been for her, living through the uncertainty. But my grandmother didn't know. And she got through all it anyway! She must have felt pretty crappy while any of these things were going on all around her. And yet . . . she managed through it. She must have had some hope, and a lot of resilience.


Hope and History.

I think it's hard for us to have hope right now . . . because we don't know the ending of this history we're living through. We don't know what will happen or how things will turn out. And we aren't terribly patient about it either. So it's all this . . . unnerving uncertainty. . .  that's sucking the hope from our lives.

But maybe we can look to the past . . . to see how resilient - as a people - we have been. And how we can be now.

Yes. Things ARE bleak at the moment.
It doesn't feel good.
We don't know any of the endings to our current storylines.
It's unsettling, and uncertainty is never easy.

But History - and my grandmother - show me that we are resilient, and that somehow we find ways to get through whatever History we need to get through. It may not feel comfortable, but we can do it. I think, maybe, that hope and history DO rhyme.

And that's where I'm finding hope today.


(Speaking of rhyming . . . let's have a poem, shall we? Because if this isn't a poem of hope, I don't know what is.)

In Any Event
Dorianne Laux

If we are fractured
we are fractured
like stars
bred to shine
in every direction,
through any dimension,
billions of years
since and hence.

I shall not lament
the human, not yet.
There is something
more to come, our hearts
a gold mine
not yet plumbed,
an uncharted sea.

Nothing is gone forever.
If we came from dust
and will return to dust
then we can find our way
into anything.

What we are capable of
is not yet known,
and I praise us now, 
in advance.


Today's poem was selected for inclusion in How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, edited by James Crews, Storey Publishing, 2021. Click here for more information about the poet, Dorianne Laux.






Fall Gardening Week 3: Bring 'em Inside

As I explained earlier this month, on Thursdays in September I'm bringing you tips and advice for . . . 


Suddenly (like . . . yesterday), the temperatures dropped quite a lot here in my corner of the world. We're not close to freezing or anything (yet), but there is definitely a fall-like nip to the air. Now is the time I start thinking about cleaning up my containers and pots. Sure, I'll replace some of them with mums and other fall-hardy plants. But . . . what do I do with the rest of them? Should I try to save non-hardy plants I've grown to love over the summer? Or should I let them go to the compost bin . . . to be replaced next spring?

Yes. Today, we're talking about bringing your outdoor plants . . . indoors (otherwise known as "overwintering")!


So, when is it time to bring outside plants inside?

Most of the plants we grow in containers are annuals (or tender perennials in Southern regions) and cannot survive cold winter temperatures. We can bring many of these plants inside, though, to let them go dormant until next spring -- or even (in some cases) to continue growing through the winter. Alternatively, we can collect seeds from our favorite annuals and save them until spring. Or we can take cuttings and try to propagate plants.

And now? Now is pretty much the time to start in on any of these options! 

Ideally, annuals should come indoors before nighttime temperatures dip below 45°F (7°C). As fall weather approaches and night temperatures reach about 50°F (10°C), it's time to start bringing the plants inside for the winter. Most tropical plants will suffer damage at temperatures below 40°F (4°C), a few even below 50°. You will need to act well in advance of any actual frost or freeze to acclimate them.

Which plants should I bring inside?

Unless you have a greenhouse (I dream of having a little backyard greenhouse . . . ), you'll likely have limited space inside for overwintering plants. If you're like me, you'll have to make some decisions about which plants you want to try to save. Think about which plants are your favorites - or which ones have sentimental value. Which of your plants are pricey enough that you'd hate to shell out the money for them again next year? How much space do you have inside -- and what kind of light can you offer the plants during the winter? You should also only bring healthy, thriving plants that are free from pests inside.

Here are lists of good candidates for bringing inside over the winter (either as plants, seeds, bulbs, or cuttings). At the end of this post, you can find some "how-to"resource links with specific information.

  • Collect seeds from . . .morning glory and moon vine (Ipomoea), Nicotiana, Gomphrena, Celosia, amaranth, sunflowers (Helianthus), zinnia, cosmos, cleome, calendula, marigold, Verbena bonariensis, annual forms of poppy and larkspur, and certain Salvia, including Lady in Red and Victoria.
  • Propagate cuttings from . . . coleus, sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas), Impatiens, Alternanthera, Tradescantia, either rhizomatous or cane or wax begonias, and ornamental sages, including Salvia leucantha.
  • Store as dormant bulbs or tubers . . . Cannas, dahlias, gladiolus, calla lilies and pineapple lilies (Eucomis), and some elephant ears (Alocasia and certain Colocasia)
  • Treat as a houseplant . . . non-hardy ivy and ferns, Plectranthus, elephant ears in the genus Alocasia, cane-type angel wing begonias, Tradescantia, flowering maple (Abutilon), and succulents.

Generally, garden experts recommend just composting some favorite annuals - heliotrope, Lantana, Calibrochoa, Bacopa, Fuschia, and Impatiens. While it's possible to get them to keep going inside during the winter, the success rate is low -- and they're easy and relatively inexpensive to replace in the spring.


I think the most important thing about trying to bring outdoor plants indoors for the winter is . . . that you will have success with some things, and absolute failures with others. I've brought in terrifically healthy Boston ferns for the winter only to have them die in weeks, for example. And every time I attempt to save my dahlia bulbs, they shrivel and dry out. Sometimes I collect seeds and then forget where I put them -- or that I even collected them in the first place. And I love watching my coleus root each winter, but then I usually . . . never plant them in the spring. But last year I got an amaryllis bulb to re-bloom, which I consider a huge win. It's all a crap shoot. It's fun. It's entertaining. It's . . . gardening in the winter!

This year, I have a few "candidates" in my containers for overwintering inside: an elephant ear, a few succulents, and an unidentified tropical annual that's just too pretty to compost. I always take cuttings from my coleus plants and annual salvia, and I plan to collect seeds from my butterfly weed and ornamental onions (and you already know that I've collected some Satomi dogwood seeds). I've also got an ongoing "experiment" with my amaryllis bulbs from last year. It's nearly time for me to bring them in and give them "the silent treatment" now for a few months.

How about you? Do you think you might try bringing any outdoor plants . . . indoors for the winter?


Additional Information and Resources:

For some specific overwintering instructions for a variety of tender plants, this is a great article from Margaret Roach. She also has a great "experiment away" attitude (because, really, what have you got to lose, and this is a fun way to garden in the winter).

Here's a short article with good information about acclimating your houseplants from outdoors to indoors. It also includes some good information about checking for pests.

I know a lot of you love zinnias! Here's a detailed article with instructions for harvesting and saving zinnia seeds. (The same instructions can be used collecting seeds from any number of annuals, by the way.)

Interested in trying to propagate your coleus plant in water? Here are detailed instructions for doing just that from Garden Gate magazine (you'll need to scroll down a bit; first there is general information about growing coleus in planters).

Looking to overwinter some tender bulbs? I know it's kind of fussy and kind of intimidating, but here are detailed instructions with clear photos and recommendations that may help you give it a try. (Just because it's never worked for me doesn't mean it won't work for you!)

Just want to try bringing some plants inside to see if they'll work as houseplants? This article has some step-by-step instructions for how to do that. (I am much lazier than this article suggests I be . . . ) (just sayin). 

If you're looking to do some more serious propagation, here's an article listing tools and supplies you might need to get started.


Past Gardening in the Fall posts:

Week One: Less is More (fall clean up information)

Week Two: Now is the Time (fall planting and transplanting information)

That's Me In the Corner

(Click here for a soundtrack to accompany today's post.)
(In case you're not already singing along. . . )

I've knit a lot of sweaters over the years.
But I've never knit one sideways before.

Until now . . . 



That's me in the corner.
That's me in the spotlight.
Losing my religion. . .


It was kinda weird to knit a sweater from cuff-to-cuff, sideways. I had to wrap my brain around it a few times there . . . on the fly. Row gauge was a huge issue for me (on a sideways project, the stitch gauge determines length; the row gauge the width), so that had me flipped around, too. It's a little like knitting origami.


As I was knitting this sweater, I really liked the "wrong side" better than the "right side" (I blogged about that here) . . . but, in the end, I went with the "right side" out. I tried with the "wrong side." But the seaming was a nightmare. And the decreases/increases didn't looks so hot from the "wrong side" either.

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream
That was just a dream . . . 
Overall, not a bad way to lose your religion!
(If you want the details, you can find my project notes on Ravelry here.)
How about YOU? What are you making this week?



Read With Us: The Wrap-Up

Usually, after we've read our latest Read With Us book selection and finished up the discussion, Bonny, Carole, or I will write up a wrap-up post to share. A way to kind of . . . bring closure to that book; to put it to bed, so to speak.

It's my turn this go-round.
And I wrote the post.
And then, somehow, it got "lost" in the blogosphere.

And I'll be damned if I'm going to write it again.

RWU Summer Logo

So consider this . . . a different kind of Read With Us wrap-up post!

After our Zoom book discussion last week, I got to thinking about . . . just that: Our Zoom book discussion. Because back when we launched Read With us -- in the fall of 2019(!) - that phrase, even the concept of some sort of online discussion, was never part of the plan.

But, of course, along came Covid . . . and now most of us are completely accustomed to and comfortable with Zoom gatherings and meetings. (I would say that being able to meet up with people across any distance is actually one of the silver linings of the pandemic.)

What's happened with Read With Us . . . is that the Zoom book discussion has evolved to become a "real" book group (without the wine). We come together to discuss a book we've all read . . . and we sign off with a deeper understanding about that book. Sometimes we see things a little differently after the discussion. Sometimes we like the book even more -- and sometimes we like it less. Things make sense in new ways. We ask questions. We share thoughts. It's a communal experience, for sure. (And that's something we can all use more of these days.) Our discussions - about the book and about life - are engaging and interesting. And becoming more so with each meet-up.

We also laugh a lot. 

And while we do have a core group of Read With Us stalwarts regularly participating in the Zooms, the group is fluid and accessible and welcoming. If you have felt hesitant or somewhat intimidated about joining our Zoom discussions, or if you're not sure what it might be like to be part of a book group, I'm here to encourage you to give it a try! We don't have intellectual, literary discussions. We don't put anyone on the spot. We just speak from our hearts . . . and listen to each other.

We'll be announcing our next Read With Us selection soon, so stay tuned!

(And in terms of a wrap-up of Unsettled Ground? We all liked the book quite a lot, some more than others. None of us liked Dot - at all - and we all thought she was a terrible mother with some serious, untreated mental health issues. When it came to the supporting cast of characters, most of us were on "Team Saffron" -- but others were firmly on "Team Bridget." We all agreed that music and gardening elevated the book from the total doldrums of bleakness. And we were generally in agreement that the ending seemed . . . about right.) (Oh . . . and there was great relief that nothing bad happened to Jeanie's dog.)

Top Five: Best of My Summer Reading 2021

While today has a definite summer feel, there were some decidedly fall-ish days (mornings, especially) when we were up north last week. In fact, there were a few times when I needed to put on a sweater!

It's coming. . . 
A change in the seasons.
(The fall equinox is on Wednesday - the 22nd - this year.)


And you know what that means?
It means its time to share my Top Five summer reads with you!

(The book links below will take you to published reviews of each book.)


First up, I've got Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. I've had this book on my to-read list for quite a while, and I'm so happy that I finally took the plunge and dove in earlier this summer. Because this one, friends, is truly a book to savor! This smart and savvy collection of essays brings a bit of everything: nature, ecology, science, storytelling, indigenous wisdom and spirituality, history, the environment. It is engaging to read, informative -- but not overly technical, with beautiful writing that strikes a perfect balance between science and poetry. This book is a gift: Life affirming; possibly life changing. I loved it!


Then, I've got The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade. This book has all the ingredients for a truly enjoyable read: a compelling storyline, excellent pacing, a setting that you can walk right into, and believable characters with heart -- oh . . . and flaws. (Lots of flaws.) The author does a brilliant job balancing the big hearts and deep souls of her characters . . . complete with all of their delusions and all of their (many) bad decisions. This is a rich story of redemption -- tenderly told and definitely worth reading!


Next, I've got one that's a little . . . tougher, a little darker. In What Strange Paradise, author Omar El Akkad invites us to witness the world refugee crisis through the eyes of children. This short, impactful novel is tender and brutal, hopeful and horrifying. The writing - spare and precise - is so effective and the story so compelling I couldn’t put it down; couldn’t get it out of my head. This book cracked my heart wide open.


Then, I have one that I finally got around to reading . . . The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich. (This one kept coming up in my library holds last year . . . when I didn't have the "reading capacity" to get to it. Sometimes it works that way with library holds.) Anyway. I'm so glad I finally had a chance to get to it. Y'know, every time I read a book by Louise Erdrich, I think . . . THAT’s my favorite. Every time. So now that I’ve recently finished The Night Watchman, well . . . you can guess where my loyalties currently lie. Erdrich is such a gifted storyteller. Her characters are wonderfully drawn and her settings are so vivid that it always feels like you just walk right into her stories. She weaves a kind of magic with her words. It’s all so good -- and definitely worth my wait.



And, last, I bring you a two-fer, both re-reads for me: My Name is Lucy Barton and Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. I decided to re-read both books sequentially in anticipation of Strout's newest novel, Oh, William! (which continues the series), coming out next month. I am a total fangirl when it comes to Elizabeth Strout. I have read every book she's written, and many of them more than once. No one does love and tension in familial relationships quite like Elizabeth Strout. She is simply a master . . . at putting together a series of "snapshots" or little vignettes to tell stories that go so much deeper than the words on the page. I love her spare writing style, the intimate connections present in her stories, the delicate family dynamics she highlights, and mostly just . . . the human-ness she writes into her characters. She breathes life into what might seem to be bleak settings and lonely people. She really does show us that, indeed . . . Anything is Possible! (And now I can't wait for Oh, William!)


How about you?
What books would make it to your Top Five list of Summer reading?


If you want to see what I'm reading now, or check out my recent reviews on Goodreads, just check out the sidebar here on my blog.  You can find me here on Goodreads.  And you can read my past Top Five lists by clicking the links below:

Top Five: Best of My Spring Reading 2021

Top Five: Best of My Winter Reading 2021

Top Five: Best of My Fall Reading 2020

Top Five: Best of My Summer Reading 2020

Top Five: Best of My Spring Reading 2020

Top Five: Best of My Winter Reading 2020

Top Five: Best of My Fall Reading 2019

Top Five: Best of My Summer Reading 2019


C'mon In!

We're up north at our cottage for a few days this week, and plan to stay through the weekend. The dock and boats are already out of the water for the year, so there will be less time at the lake; more time up at the cottage. This week, we've been focused on clean-up. There was a nasty storm here a couple of weeks ago, and while we were lucky to avoid much direct damage to our property (there was hail the size of golf-balls -- although not round; the hail had jagged edges, more like asteroids apparently), there is still a lot of . . . mess . . . from a storm like that in the woods. (Lots of big branches down, leaves pelted from the trees, broken patio lights, that kind of thing).

It's also time for a good inside-cleaning (I do have to tackle that every now and then . . . ), and especially since we're expecting guests for the weekend. While things are looking all spiffed up inside, I thought you might enjoy dropping in for a "look-see."

C'mon in!


Our cottage is small (under 900 square feet) and quite utilitarian, but cozy! It's also full of "relics" -- cast off furniture, old lamps, former appliances that made the shift to cottage-use when we upgraded at home . . . that kind of thing. Most recently added . . . is the couch you may remember seeing from past blog photos. When we re-configured our library at home, we moved the couch up to the cottage (replacing an absolutely ancient sofa bed that we're glad to see go). The couch looks so much better up here than it ever did at home!

Anyway. When you enter the cottage, you come into a large(ish) open living area.


This old recliner (it was once in my Mom's living room, long long ago) is "my spot" when we're up north. (And, yeah. That's my beer there on the table with my knitting.)


There's a little dining area (which also serves as Tom's home-office-away-from-home-office at one end of the table) . . . 


and a quite-functional kitchen.


Upstairs . . . there's a loft that serves as our guest room. It's also where I set up my computer when we aren't expecting company.


Although the loft looks kind of boring from that angle, it really does offer the best views of the cottage when you turn around.


The loft also gives great overhead views of the space below. (Back in the days when our kids "ruled" the loft, we had to institute VERY SPECIFIC RULES about what could and could not be launched from the loft onto unsuspecting people - or pets - below.) (Bonus points if you spot Jenny on the porch, waiting to be let in.)


And then . . . down the dark hallway . . . there is a closet (under the stairs), a small bedroom for Tom and I, a bathroom, and a utility room (including a stacked washer/dryer -- the smartest thing we installed when building the place way back when). The back door leads out onto the deck . . . and the views of the lake I often share.


And that's it!
Compact, but cozy. A perfect place to get away for awhile.

Thanks for stopping by. 
I hope you have a wonderful, restful weekend . . . wherever you are and whatever you have planned.

Fall Gardening Week 2: Now Is the Time

As I explained last week, on Thursdays for the rest of this month I'll be bringing you tips and advice for . . . 


Yeah. You may be ready to just clean'r'up and close up shop in your garden by this point in the season. But I'm here to tell you . . . there's some work you can do now to lay a foundation for a healthy and happy garden next spring.

Last week, we de-bunked the cutting-back-in-the-fall thing. This week, we take on planting/transplanting! Because, gardening friends, fall is most often the BEST time of year for digging a hole in the ground and sticking a plant in it!


Why plant/transplant in the fall, you ask?

Conventional wisdom used to be that fall was the time to cut back and spring was the time to plant. But conventional wisdom is really just . . .  following tradition; doing what's always been done. And you know when the whole clean-up-in-the-fall/plant-in-the-spring thing started? Well, a hundred years ago when people in England and Europe were most interested in carefully sculptured topiary gardens and growing exotic plants collected from all over the world, it was important for them to tidy up in the fall and plant in the spring. And those practices stuck around - even though most people these days don't have turn-of-the-LAST-century gardens.

In other words . . . "garden fashion" dictated the horticultural practices of the time, and those practices carried over through the decades -- where they hold firm as conventional wisdom even now. More recently, though, horticultural scientists have researched and discovered better ways for gardeners of today . . . to garden. So, unless you happen to be into carefully sculptured topiary gardens and exotic plants, it makes a lot more sense to switch those gardening tasks around: clean up in the spring, plant in the fall.


Benefits of fall planting:

  • A growth headstart. In the spring the soil is cold, so the roots of newly planted perennials grow slowly. In fall, though, the soil is already warm, so roots grow faster. And since the plants won't be producing flowers in the fall, they'll have more energy for sending vigorous roots into the soil. By the time spring rolls around next year, your new plants will be happily settled -- and will grow faster and bigger than if you waited to plant in the spring.
  • Take advantage of the dormant period. In the fall, most shrubs and trees are heading into their dormant phase -- which makes it an excellent time for transplanting. Rather than continuing to transfer energy into new foliage and aboveground growth, plants will transfer energy into their roots and be able to store nutrients and resources for the cold months ahead.
  • Easier care. Plants just require less fuss-and-bother when planted in the fall -- and you're less worried about their "performance." They still need plenty of water, of course, but with lower temperatures and shorter days, they'll need less water -- and no fertilizer. (And you'll be able to stop watering altogether once the soil freezes.)
  • You know what you need. This season's garden is still fresh in your mind, so you can easily recall (and maybe still even see) the "holes" in your in your garden and easily identify all the areas that need a bit more "pizzazz." You know what made you crazy this year. You can still remember plants in other people's gardens that caught your eye. Fill those holes now -- before you forget about them in the spring!
  • Bargains. This is the time of year to pick up great bargains at nurseries. You can find big mark-downs on perennials right now. Sure, the plants may be "leggy" and they most likely won't be blooming. They may look a little worse for the wear. But in the fall, we don't care so much about the tops of the plants -- we care about the roots! So take advantage of lower pricing on perennials in the fall. I have "rescued" many a great plant from fall clearance tables -- including a sad little Japanese maple ($8) that is now a star performer in my garden.

Know your gardening zone . . . and pay attention to the weather.

Successful gardeners know their gardening zone. The USDA publishes a plant zone map (or hardiness zone map) for the United States. Here's a handy interactive plant zone map -- you just plug in your zip code and the site will tell you your zone. Once you know your zone, you've got some valuable information at your fingertips! Plant information (on tags, websites, in catalogs or books) will always tell you which zones a particular plant is appropriate for. (Local nurseries will usually only carry plants appropriate for you local zone.)

Your zone is also helpful for targeting the general frost date for your area -- and will help you pinpoint when it's the best time to do some fall planting. For example, in Zones 6 and 7, the cool-down period starts around the end of September, about six weeks before the first fall frost. This is the ideal time to start your fall plants. In Zones 3 to 5, you’ll want to plant earlier if you can. And of course, Zones 8 to 11 can pretty much plant year-round without a problem. You want to get an early start to give roots time to get established before the hard frosts hit.

Sure . . . frost might seem like your biggest fall planting challenge, but it’s actually not a huge problem. Yes, frost will kill the tops of your new plants, but it won’t affect the root growth. The roots will grow until the soil freezes solid (a hard frost), which is often weeks or even months after the first frost hits. In temperate regions—everywhere but the far North and the high mountains—soil usually doesn’t freeze until after Thanksgiving.


I hope you can see . . . that NOW is a great time for planting and transplanting.
In fact . . . what are you waiting for???

(And be sure to check out the excellent resources below for tips and how-to advice on doing the actual planting/transplanting. I've even included a special link for hydrangeas -- because fall is THE BEST time to transplant hydrangeas.)


Additional Resources:

Here's a Frost Date Chart to help you figure out your area's first frost/last frost date. (Really helpful information for gardeners.)

Looking to move a hydrangea? Here's the scoop: Moving Hydrangea Bushes: When and How to Transplant Hydrangea.

Here's a bare-bones article with information to help you determine the best time to transplant perennials, shrubs, and trees from

Wondering how to successfully transplant perennials in the fall? Check these tips from Horticulture Magazine.

Here's an engaging discussion about dividing and editing your perennials with Margaret Roach and her guest Toshi Yano on this episode of A Way To Garden. (There's a link to listen - 25 minutes, or you can read the transcript.)

Finishing A Little Something

Just in time for the end of summer, I finished my very whimsical little embroidery project.


I loved everything about this project.
The design.
The colors.
The stitching.
The whimsy and charm.
The getting back to my crafting "roots" as an embroiderer. 


I think what I loved the MOST about this project . . . was just working without a net. Not really following directions. Just kind of . . . free-forming it to see what would happen IF.

I loved that.


This little project awakened my desire to keep embroidering; to do MORE of this kind of thing.
So stay tuned! (Because now I'm kind of inspired.)


And how about you? What are you making these days?


PS - For details about this sampler, you can read this post from earlier in the summer when I talk on and on about it.

Read With Us: Let's Talk About It

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Welcome to Read With Us book discussion week!

Bonny and Carole and I are each posting a different question (or questions) on our blogs today about our latest RWU book . . . Unsettled Ground. Join the discussion (which you're welcome do even if you didn't read the book).  I'll be answering your posts within the comment section for this discussion -- and you can comment on other people's comments, as well. Y'know . . . like in a real book group. (Please know . . . that because of the limitations of Typepad, I can't "layer" or "stack" the comments in my comment feed. Sorry. Bear with me.)

Let's begin. . . 


First . . . I'd really like to know what you thought of the book. How did it make you feel? Did you like it? Do you think it deserved to be one of the Women's Prize for Fiction finalists this year?

Next . . . There is a strong connection to the land in book -- from the title, to the gardening work Jeanie does, to the family's way of life. In what ways do you think the gardens and the landscapes in Unsettled Ground make the characters who they are? Did you see the cottage garden as a refuge for Jeanie -- or as a prison? And what about Jeanie's gardening job for Saffron -- refuge or prison?

Last . . . What three words would you use to describe Unsettled Ground to someone who hasn't read the book?

I can't wait to hear what you think!


Don't forget: We'll be discussing the book on Zoom tonight - 7:00 pm Eastern Time. There's still time for you to join us! Just let me know of your interest either with a comment or by sending me an email (see sidebar, above) -- and I'll send a Zoom invitation. 

PS - If you have signed up for the Zoom, but you haven't received an invitation from me by noon today, please let me know so I can re-send the invitation to you.


Sometimes Mondays

. . . are scrambled.

Sundays . . . have always been my get-it-together day of the week. The day I wrap up the week just ending . . . and plan for the week that's coming. I have Sunday Chores (laundry, for example) and "calendar-ing" (where I get my schedule for the coming week set in my head) and Planning (meals, blog posts, etc.). I like my Sundays to be neat and orderly so I can hit the ground running on Monday.

But. . . that was not to be yesterday.

In fact, I lost the whole Sunday! I was down for the count after getting my 3rd Covid vaccine dose on Saturday (part of a carefully orchestrated plan to be able to get me in a place where I can safely get an infusion treatment for my RA next month) (it's complicated). I didn't have terrible reactions to my first 2 doses, but this 3rd one did knock me out of contention for the whole day.

I'm feeling just fine today. But scrambling.
Because I didn't (at all) get-it-together for the week ahead yesterday.


“You don’t get explanations in real life. You just get moments that are absolutely, utterly, inexplicably odd.” 
    — Neil Gaiman

Let's see how well I recover this week! (Because, often, when I miss my Sunday . . . I never quite get-it-together and end up flailing all week long.)



A Reminder:

Tomorrow is our Read With Us book discussion day! Join Bonny, Carole, and I for blog book discussion questions (we'll each be posting questions for you to ponder on our blogs). And then -- tomorrow night we'll have a Zoom meet-up where we can talk about the book together. Please join us -- it's a lot of fun, and always an interesting discussion, too. 7:00 pm Eastern time. If you'd like to join in, please let me know in the comments -- or send me an email (see sidebar) -- and I'll add you to the Zoom invitation list.