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October 2016

Juggling On a Friday

I really can't believe it's the middle of October already.  

Thankfully, we've had several very nice fall days lately.  Lovely afternoons where I can sit in my swing for a few minutes and . . . well . . . just pull things together in my head.

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Which is a good thing.  Because I've got a lot of stuff going on right now.  

Many, many balls in the air.

(And if you don't happen to hear from me for a day or two?  It probably just means I got hit in the head with one of my flying objects...)

(Such was the case yesterday.)

Have a great weekend.  (I'll be remembering that last year at this time . . . I was at Rhinebeck!



Will Ya Be Havin' a Pint? (Part I)

My sister and I spent the last 3 days of our trip in Dublin, off the cruise ship and on our own.  One of our first items of business?


Why. . . a trip to St. James Gate, of course!


You can't actually have a tour of the Guinness brewing facility at St. James Gate, but you can visit the Guinness Storehouse -- which is a pretty marvelous "museum" that tells the history of Guinness, and walks you through the steps of their brewing process.  With, of course, a couple of opportunities to sip a pint or two along the way.

Our first pour. . . 


and my sister's first sip!


Now, my sister is pretty much a wine-drinker . . . and she had never tried a Guinness before.  She loved it -- and so much more than the whisky!  


You start the tour of the Guinness Storehouse on the main floor . . . and you work your way up and up and up . . . until you're on the very top floor -- which is a pub with a 360-degree panorama view of Dublin.


(Here we are, with the Trinity College campus behind us.)


We had a great time!  


History.  Education.  Fun.  Plus . . . Guinness.


Really.  What more could you be askin' for?


(Stay tuned . . . for more Dublin.  And more Guinness!)





Still On the Patio

As the temperatures drop, I have been wanting one of those groovy-looking patio heaters.  You know the ones?  Tall.  Sleek.  Attractive.

Because . . . I want to stay out on the patio, enjoying drinks and snacks and looking at the garden . . . in my flip flops . . . for as long as possible.

So I sent Tom to Lowes.

And he came back with a perfectly serviceable, function-over-form propane tank-top heater.

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Not even a little bit attractive.

But you know what?  It WORKS.

As the sun went down and the temperature dipped into the low 50s, Tom and I enjoyed our drinks and snacks and conversation on the patio.  Without coats.  Without blankets.  



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Thanks, Mr. Heater!

Friday Mailbag

It's been a long time since I dipped into the Friday Mailbag!  Let's have a peek. . . 


Dear Next-Door Neighbors,

For 13 years, you have been the Very Best kind of neighbor:  Respectful.  Private.  Quiet. (Well. Except for that one time when one of your kids got the car alarm stuck at 2:00 in the morning and y'all couldn't turn it off.)  Tasteful landscaping.  Well-mannered guests at your parties.  Non-intrusive in every way. (Well.  Except for the English ivy.)

But your concrete project this fall?  Pushing it.  Because hours of jack-hammering?  Jarring.  Maybe give us a heads-up next time, huh?  (So we can leave, too.)


Dear Gmail Inbox,

Who knew . . . that it would be so easy to KonMari you!  Wow.  All those emails -- years and years of emails -- that I thought I might need or that I was too lazy to delete in the first place . . . GONE.  Just like that.

I feel so much JOY.


Dear Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs,

You're drunk.  Go home.


Dear Blog Friends,

I can't thank you all enough for your words of support and thoughtful wishes and general bolstering of my spirit after my mom's death.  You are all wonderful -- and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Have a great weekend!


It's the Berries . . .

My garden is winding down for the season.  The leaves are turning color, and the flowers are on their last gasp. 

Now is the time for berries to shine!


This absolutely lovely plant is the beautyberry -- and the berries?  That's their actual, un-retouched color!  I cut the plant to the ground in the spring, and the foliage is all rather nondescript during the summer, but - oh, my! - does it ever SHINE in the fall!  One of my favorites.  (The squirrels and birds are big fans as well.)


These are the fruit/berries of my Washington Hawthorn tree.  They are lovely berries -- and such a treat for neighborhood squirrels and - one of my favorite birds - the cedar waxwing.  I didn't plant the Hawthorn; it was here when we purchased our house -- and I have a rather love/hate relationship with the tree.  I love the berries in fall.  But.  The tree has HUGE thorns (thus, the name), and early on, while doing some pruning, I impaled my thumb joint with one of the thorns.  (I nearly had to have surgery to correct the damage.  Thankfully, it healed without.)  I have since made my peace with the tree, and enjoy the berries (and accompanying wildlife) every fall.


A couple of years ago, I "rescued" this porcelain vine from a clearance table at Lowes.  I had no idea the berries were so beautiful!  This $1.00 plant gives me so much joy every fall -- the colors are glorious.  (And the birds love it, too!)


These are not berries . . . even though they kind of look like them.  These are seeds emerging from their seedpod on my star magnolia.  They're so exotic-looking -- and were such a surprise the first time I found them. 

The garden brings joy in every season.  In the fall?  It's the berries!




All in a Name

This hydrangea in my front garden is officially named Pinky Winky . . . 


It's a great plant!  Flowers in summer; turns pink in the fall; big blooms; drought tolerant; forgiving and easy to grow.  Really . . . spectacular blooms.

A garden designer/friend of mine just planted one in the garden of a client who also happens to be a single guy.

Know what she told him it was named?


(It's all in the name.)

Travelogue Tuesday: Welcome to Dublin

Usually, when your cruise ship docks in a port city, it is not terribly exciting.  Because it generally looks very . . . industrial.  Kind of like this:


Cranes.  Warehouses.  Shipping containers.  Freighters.  Sometimes even trains.

Interesting, I suppose.  But never very scenic.

So my sister and I usually just patiently wait while the ship docks, getting ready for our day and looking forward to going ashore to explore a new place.

Imagine my great surprise then . . .  as we were approaching Dublin . . .

I was sitting on our little couch (knitting, of course) and absently looking out the veranda window - when a great flash of RED flew by.

Was that a lighthouse????


By, golly. . . it was! 

I grabbed my camera and yelled at my sister (who was just getting out of the shower).  We'd never seen a lighthouse in port before!


Welcome to Dublin!

(Stop by next Tuesday for more about our time in Dublin and County Wicklow.) 

Garden Volunteer

To me, a weed is just . . . a plant that shows up unbidden in my garden.  A "volunteer" . . . so to speak.   Sometimes I let the volunteers stay and play, on purpose.

One of my personal favorite "volunteers" is the pokeweed.  I often let a few of them stick around in my garden.  Which is probably a huge mistake (because they have a tremendous tap root, and I'll actually never get rid of them at this point).  But it really isn't a bad looking weed.  Nice and full; almost like a sturdy shrub you might even plant intentionally.  And look at these sweet little flowers!


And then THIS happens.  (I mean, really!  Look at the color of that stem!  This is not color-enhanced or edited in any way.  This is just what it looks like.)


And then THIS happens!


Birds love' em.

But they're poisonous to humans.

But. . . oh, well!  At least a few of these . . . are fun to have in my garden.  (But I won't snack on those gorgeous berries.)