October On Our Farm in the Shenandoah Valley


Misty mountains, autumn leaves, and garden tidying…now and forever more I will associate the pungent minty scent of catnip with my fall garden. I’m in cleanup mode, pulling weeds, grass, catnip seedlings, and struggling to root out large mounds of the fragrant herb.

(Catnip growing in with tansy in the garden)

It’s not that I dislike this old-time plant, not in the least. But several years ago, daughter Elise planted four clumps at either end of the vegetable plot to act as beneficial companions and attract pollinators, which catnip does well. Butterflies favor the blossoms and potato bugs can’t sniff out their desired food when potato leaves intermingle with catnip. Since then, hundreds of their offspring have graced every corner of the garden. Flower beds also play host. I’m fond of this potent plant so leave seedlings here and there, and on it goes. Catnip will inherit the earth, as will mint, comfrey, dill…but I love them all. And, of course, cats are mad for it.

We haven’t had hard frost yet, but soon will. As I work outside, I pause to gaze over the meadow and hills rising beyond our farm and admire the changing leaves. Yesterday’s overcast sky only muted the beauty–which I don’t mind–and the mist made the mountains appear even more mysterious. While walking the dogs into the field I call the back forty, I summon halts to savor the beauty. The dogs stand, nose to the breeze tossing my hair, and sniff appreciatively. Country scents of cows and new mown grass float around us. Barnyard geese honk, birds call, and cows let me know they see us. Pockets of mist hovered between the hills this morning, the subdued bronze and orange in the trees showing through in places. When the sun comes out, these autumn hues will shine. The woods above our meadow are called ‘Burnt Woods’ by locals because of their flaming color in the sun. Glorious.

(Maples in our meadow)

(Sugar maple at our pond)

(Hills and the neighbor’s farm behind our pond. See the Old Order Mennonite Church?)

(Misty mountains in the distance seen on my walk with the dogs)

Meadowlarks still trill from the tall grass, reminding me of spring, while wild geese fly in V’s overhead. I’ve left tangles of asters, bittersweet, and clematis in places in hopes of attracting the wrens who visited our feeder last year. They like a bit of untidiness, as do other birds.

(Fall asters and last of the dahlias above)

(late ground rose)

(Pocket of flowers)

I’ve been on a bulb planting craze lately, hiding them like Easter eggs to discover in the raw winds of March and balmier days of April and May. These early flowers elicit such joy, how can I resist adding more? I also sprinkled hardy annual flower seeds around for spring color like larkspur, violas, wall flowers, poppies, and sweet alyssum. Spinach is seeded for early greens. By late winter, we’re starving for them. This is when the new leaves of dandelions are appreciated for cooked greens.

Hubby Dennis’s mother made a wonderful creamy dressing to pour over dandelion greens with bacon and hard boiled eggs. That stuff made anything good. I found her recipe in an old cook book. I could post it for you in spring. She also used it on watercress. One unfortunate spring, the whole Trissel family, apart from baby Dennis, contracted typhoid fever from consuming contaminated water cress. Seems a man who lived above the spring where the cress grew was a typhoid Mary type of carrier with a leaky outhouse. Who knew? All of the family survived because new medicines were available by the early fifties.

Back to the garden. This garden was my mother-in-law’s before I became its caretaker. The first years that Mom Trissel and Dennis’s father lived at the farm they had no indoor plumbing and only one electric outlet. She boiled up her wash in an outdoor kettle. And this old farmhouse was built soon after the Civil War. But that’s another story. There are many tales to tell from this beautiful valley.(Our land leading to another farm and the hills seen on our dog walk)

(Gorgeous trees at the church up the road from our farm)

‘Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.’ ~Faith Baldwin, American Family

Paranormal Account From The Shenandoah Valley


ghostly imageIt’s getting to be the time of year to share some chilling accounts. This is a repost for those who missed the original–taken from ‘Shenandoah Voices by late Valley Author/Historian John Heatwole. Our family knew John and thought a lot of him, an amazingly knowledgeable and talented man. He collected some fascinating and hair-raising accounts from his interviews with locals.

Dark Being:

“Between Dayton and Bridgewater (not far from where I live) around Christmas 1901 there were reports of a dark being standing by the road in the dead of night. Apparently, it threatened no one, but it was not considered human, and for a few weeks there was a general uneasiness in that part of Rockingham County. (The not human part would get my attention).

In Harrisonburg one night, a stranger stopped by C. L. Jordan’s livery stable on German Street and requested to be driven out to Bridgewater. Mr. Jordan harnessed a team and carriage and asked Follinsbe Welcher to accompany them, so he’d have a companion on the return trip.

Dark ForestThe three men drove along quietly for some time. They passed Dayton and were on the upgrade toward Herrings Hill when they beheld the dark form that had terrified the countryside by its mere silent presence. It stood close by the road, featureless. Mr. Jordan was a brave soul, and he sprang from the carriage to investigate. He grabbed the creature, but was overpowered by an unnatural strength and could do no more than call for help. Mr. Welcher rushed to his aid, only to find his added strength to be insufficient in contending with this entity. The unequal contest lasted for several minutes, and the two liverymen were left sprawled on the ground. The creature, the dark, unyielding form, had melted away into the night.”~

What was it and where did it go? Nobody seems to know, but I’m creeped out and hope it stays gone. I don’t want to see the dark being while driving by that spot at night.

***John Heatwole’s books can be found at Amazon.

“Who You Gonna Call?”


While recovering from health issues, I’ve watched a lot of shows on YouTube–too many. But I’ve learned more about Near Death Experiences, Miracles, Big Foot, and various Paranormal Occurrences. One of the shows I got sucked into is A Haunting, a tad over the top–to put it mildly–but interesting.

A particularly unsettling episode is the first one they opened with–Hell House. They hit the ground running!

Plot summary: ‘Three ghosts and one demon harass the terrified Beckwith family when they move into a 19th century Connecticut house.’

Question: I’m puzzled as to why it took the mother (who seemed to call the shots) so long to seek help with their violently dark demonic home? However, I’ve wondered that about the people in every episode I’ve seen. A single night of terror would have me calling in a priest/spiritual person(s), and paranormal experts, plus loudly singing hymns and praying…pouring salt around each room, cleansing with sage…if I’m still in the house. Doubtful. ‘Here’s my number, dudes. Give me a call when you have the place habitable.’

What about you? Made of sterner stuff? Remember, we’re dealing with a demon.

Back to Hell House. The mom, Bonnie Beckwith, says: “I came into this house pretty much an atheist. And now I’ve seen the powers of God, I’ve seen the powers of the devil, right before my very eyes. And it’s made me a stronger person.”

That’s awesome. I’m guessing her initial lack of belief in anything delayed her pleas for assistance, but the happenings in that house are crazy scary. From the intro, the eldest of the two teenage daughters had a bad feeling and man, was she right. Soon after moving in, the Beckwith’s young son came under attack with bangs, rattling, darting black shadows, an unseen presence tearing off his blanket and calling his name… The freaked out boy woke up screaming every night. I can’t imagine the child still slept alone in his room. My kids would have bunked in with me and hubby, or the car, with the dogs.

The Beckwith’s younger teenage daughter was next, with the sensation of a fist coming through her mattress. Bonnie called a family meeting where each member shared their experiences and it became clear something was off, so she called Ed and Loraine Warren, famous for their research into the paranormal, the Amityville Horror, plus, plus. They advise the family to take pictures and collect more evidence. This will help the Warrens know what they are dealing with. I could make a wild guess, but it’s Thanksgiving and they shelve the ghostly situation for now (assuming you can).

When the kind grandmother visits for T-day she’s confronted by a trio of spirits in her bedroom which sends her scrambling for home. Poor woman. The Warrens return after the holiday with paranormal assistants. One alarmingly possessed psychic mindlessly scribbles a sinister ‘Get out!’ message.

Done. Send this to me via postcard.

At one point, the entire paranormal group appear possessed. Creepy. They learn an enraged demon controls the three normally mild spirits and is the source of the horror.

Would you believe it gets worse?

It occurs to Bonnie to research the home’s history and visit old graves to discover who once lived there. Time to call in a priest to cleanse the house. At first, it seems a success, until Bonnie becomes obsessed with drawing images and channels a female spirit. The house cleansing is not a done deal. Paranormal activity revs up and the family camp out together in one room. (That would have happened here after day one.) But books and other objects fly at the sleepers.

Enough already! Bonnie again summons the Warrens and recalls the priest, who is preparing himself spiritually for his next attempt. However, Christmas is upon them. Not a jolly one.

Lorraine Warren tells the family there’s no escape, they must stay and fight. Apparently, badness could follow them. I don’t know why obsessed ghosts would leave their home to go after them, but I guess the demon dude might. He’s easily entertained.

When that poor grandmother comes back to bring some holiday cheer, she’s instantly stricken by a high fever and irregular heartbeat. We next see her in a hospital bed with her rosary reciting her prayers backwards, and that’s not easy to do. Something’s amiss. Then the oldest daughter is in a car wreck while out running errands. This has got to stop, Bonnie insists, or something to that effect.

Agreed. Here’s where I invite the fire department to burn the house down, while taking up residence with the exorcist. Maybe the air force wants to use the place for target practice. Then we bring in buckets of holy water and douse the rubble while a choir sings sacred songs and…

Not to panic! The sorely tried priest returns, his mission clear, with a medium, to enact another cleansing. The tormented medium is again possessed, while heavily restrained, and the priest battles to banish the highly resistant demon. Success! Finally.

The family decide to call it and live there with the three milder spirits. They dwell together peacefully for several years, UNTIL excavators near the home inadvertently disturb an ancient Indian burial ground. Never a good idea. And we’re off to the races!

Now what? It doesn’t really say. I wasn’t that impressed with the Warrens. The priest and the medium were the ones who achieved success and may have had to return a third time. These events took place years ago, and I don’t know how the family fare. Unmolested, I hope. The children probably fled.

Back to me. I’ve written mystery romances with a ghost or two and strong historical/fantasy element. I’ve mixed spirits into my time travels…doing that in my WIP. If/when I get it finished, you can expect a super story, I add modestly.

For more on my ghostly tales, please visit my Amazon Author page and explore Somewhere My Love, Somewhere My Lady, The White Lady, Somewhere the Bells Ring and Traitor’s Curse. Except for Somewhere My Love, these books are published by the Wild Rose Press and also available at all major online booksellers. As ever, I need reviews. If interested please message me here or at bctrissel@yahoo.com

***It’s possible this old farmhouse is a bit haunted, but it’s a happy house, like a favorite blanket. The Shenandoah Valley has a high level of paranormal activity. I don’t think most ghosts are violent or dangerous.

Need a Little Humor in Your Life?


Don’t we all? These Mom texts (below) gave me a hearty chuckle. I totally get the difficulty with texting (autocorrect) and haven’t even attempted voice text. Navigating the world of acronyms and emoticons is perilous. Uncharted territory. My advice: ‘when in doubt, don’t’.  But you can’t always help it. Like yesterday, I’m  in the garden taking flower pics with my nifty iPhone (from my last birthday) when I spot weeds taunting me. I tuck the phone under my arm and bend down. After a few minutes an alarm blares. I’m so startled I nearly fall into the beans I haven’t picked. Yet. I will.

What the heck? It’s coming from my phone and there’s a red emergency SOS threatening to send. Or did it already go out? Insert panicked bad word here.

I can’t turn the phone off fast enough. Are cop cars gonna roll into my yard demanding the nature of my emergency? I didn’t even know the phone had an alarm, let alone how to engage it.  I do now.

What a monster this deceptively innocent device can be.

Oh, and then there’s the whole Mom Memory lapse thing. I nearly forgot to mention it.

Fortunately, like the moms in this post, I’m blessed with helpful kids. My daughter Alison’s silly goats worked best image wise. It looks like they’re amused, or can’t believe their eyes. I’ve included some ‘best of’ text exchanges between moms and their offspring.

Mom: Hi Bridget I space space space space how space are space you space doing period capitol eye love this new phone exclamation point

Bridget: I see you’re using voice text. You don’t have to say space Mom it does it for you.

Mom: I cucumber lettuce pea Ritalin

Bridget: What? Mom stop just type.

****

Mom: What does IDK, LY and TTYL mean?

Daughter:  I don’t know, love you, talk to you later.

Mom:  OK, I will ask you sister.

****

Mom: Andy, I can’t find my phone. Can you call it so I can track it down?

Andy: I don’t even have time to be quippy, Mom. It’s in your hand.

Mom: What? No it’s not. I’ve got a bag of groceries in my hand. Are you saying it’s in the grocery bag? How do you know these things?

Andy: WHAT ARE YOU TEXTING ME WITH?

Mom: Never mind. I found it. Thanks!

****

Daughter: Mom where are you???

Mom: Leaving Walmart. Halfway home. Why sweetie?

Daughter: You brought me to Walmart with you…

Mom: Oh DARN! Be there in a bit!

Madre: I left my friggin charger in Dayton.

Mom: Do you know how worried I’ve been?

Madre: Mom I’m sorry. I couldn’t get a hold of you.

Mom: I almost broke the treaty to be sure you were OK.

Madre: What treaty? MOM ARE YOU QUOTING TWILIGHT AT ME?

Mom: Yes.

***

Mom: Your great Aunt just passed away. LOL

David: Why is that funny?

Mom: It’s not funny David! What do you mean?

David: Mom lol means laughing out loud!

Mom: Oh my goodness! I sent that to everyone. I thought it meant lots of love! I have to call everyone back. Oh God.

****

Mom: Please stop changing the google logo so much. I like the original one.

Son: Mom I don’t change the logo. Google changes it.

Mom: You don’t run the google?

Son: If I did I wouldn’t be driving a 2004 ford.

Son to his Mum:

Finally, you’ve entered the digital age and got a smartphone!

How is it?

Mum?

Helloooooo???

Why aren’t you answering?

Mum: Howdoyoudoaspace?

****

Son: Got an A in chemistry!

Mom: WTF, well done!!

Son: What do you think WTF means?

Mom: Well that’s fantastic!

****

Mom: Good morning beautiful.  🙂 xoxo Your imaginary boyfriend.

Daughter: Thanks Mom

Mom: Hi Honey how was your day? 8=======D

Daughter: WTF Mom! Why’d you type a penis emoticon???

Mom: I don’t know what you mean. 8=======D is an alien smiley face.

Daughter: No it’s not! It’s a penis. Who told you that?

Mom: Well I saw it in some of your brother’s texts to his girlfriend and when I asked he said it was an alien. Wait so 8=======D~ { (0) } isn’t a space alien getting on a ship?

Daughter: No Mom it isn’t.

****

Mom: I’m learning how to hashtag!

Son: That’s great, Mom.

Mom: Hashtag conversation with son

****

There are a lot of these hilarious Mom texts online. I laughed out loud. LOL.

I don’t write comedy but I do have a keen sense of humor which comes out in my books. For more on me please follow my Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6

*** Goats like to sit on rather than in their house.

“If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” ~Vincent Van Gogh


My June catchup. Sorry I’ve been so absent on the blog.

“It is at the edge of a petal that love waits.” ~William Carlos Williams

For a hushed moment after sunrise the sun touched the garden and everything was new and perfect. Then the sun rose higher and I saw the Japanese beetles. They love the same plants I do, like roses. Despite  my annual battle with these noxious pests, my garden is a little bit of Eden. I tripled my efforts outdoors this year after my dear father’s passing. The Memorial Garden reminds me of a painting as it unfolds. Gardening is a living form of art.

Neglected corners remain in the yard, but gardening is an ongoing journey. I’m eyeing the long border along the road with ideas for improvements I might make late summer or fall. Efforts there must be undertaken with caution because of the road monster.

(Breadseed Poppy–seed originally from Monticello)

Did any of you see Finding Neverland years ago, starring a young Johnny Depp as Author J. M. Barrie? Excellent film, made before Depp went off the rails. Near the end of the movie, Kate Winslet, who portrays the mother of the boy who inspired Barrie to write Peter Pan, enters  the wondrous Neverland set Barrie has created. (Peter Pan began as a play in 1904.) At times, when I go into the garden, surrounded by magical beauty, it reminds me a bit of that scene.

There’s nothing quite like a near perfect day in the garden. I say ‘near’ because perfection is elusive and my idea of a magical garden excursion may not be yours. But when the cerulean sky reaches to heaven, flowers sparkle like jewels, and leafy green enfolds me, I am uplifted. In that moment, I am happy.

All winter and spring I dreamed of delphinium spires. This is ‘Million Dollar Blue,’ an improved kind from Wayside Gardens, more heat and cold tolerant.

On blue sky days, the ridges rise clearly beyond the wooded hills. Country noises fill air pungent with farm smells sweetened by herbs and flowers. Meadow larks trill from tall grass, bees hum, and butterflies flit. I chase them with my camera.

When a new birds calls, we must know what kind it is–recently an oriole. Red Winged black birds have a distinct cry. They mostly stay at the pond but sometimes visit our back garden. Goose squawks resound except during afternoon siestas beneath the pear trees. Never mind, I spoke too soon. Our two buddy brother roosters peck around and crow, a lot. A typical country sound.

We still hear cows. Young ones will remain until old enough to go, but we had to sell our dairy herd–sad sigh. We’re remaining on the farm, thank the good Lord. Son Cory will raise beef cows while Hubby Dennis runs his farm machinery business. As for me, I will garden, cherish my friends and family, and write again. Not much to report on that front, but I’m beginning to miss writing, an inherent part of who I am. Or was. I know Dad wouldn’t want me to give it up. His death, on top of my brother Chad’s, threw me more than I can say, but I’m slowly mending, largely with the help of garden therapy. I’ve come to realize missing them will ever be woven into the fabric of my life.

This country scene may not strike some as idyllic, but it’s heaven on earth to me.

Hollyhocks set off our barn in this pic. I used to call it ‘the old red barn’ until Cory redid it in white. A decorative barn quilt adds color to the front.

(Bathsheba climbing rose from David Austin)

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” ~John Muir

“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.” ~Henry David Thoreau

(Red Admiral Butterfly on mini buddleia from Jackson and Perkins)

The fuzzy bumble bee (pictured below on larkspur) reminds me of a tiny teddy bear. The heirloom larkspur has been here longer than I have. The flowers come in blue,white, pink, and purple. A hardy annual, it reseeds for the next spring.

All images were taken this month by me.

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” ~Rachel Carson

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” ~ e.e. cummings

The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. ~George Bernard Shaw


“My little bit of earth in the front garden is one of the places that I find my bearings. The rhythm of my day begins with a cup of coffee and a little bit of weeding or dreaming.” ~Betsy Cañas Garmon, http://www.wildthymecreative.com

(Foxglove and roses in my Memorial Garden)

Living on a farm allows me more than a bit of earth, but the garden is also where I find my bearings. As much as I savor fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s the flowers that feed my soul. Beds dating back to my late mother-in-law’s day wrap this old white farm house and flow along the side of the road where drivers roar past. The road wasn’t such a menace in Mom Trissel’s time. Now, it’s ‘gardener beware’. I’ve reeled back more than once while working in that bed when a driver zoomed by alarmingly close. I have this crazy hope they will slow down to admire the flowers. Plus the barnyard geese graze in my front yard and sometimes wander near the road. We have about two dozen squawky Pilgrim geese. We’d have even more but they aren’t great parents and often misplace goslings. We’ve rescued some babies but can only do so much. It’s a running joke about the geese hating me, while not minding Hubby Dennis or daughter Elise. I think it’s because I clap and shout to get them away from the road and out of my yard. In addition to grass they graze on my plants, like phlox and bee balm. Tender lettuce is also a favorite but the vegetable plot is fenced in. Pic of goose with the monarch was taken last summer. Those are tithonia flowers the butterflies love.

Below are Shirley Poppies, Larkspur, yellow evening primrose, roses, iris, yellow coreopsis, and blue Love in the Mist blooming now in that massive bed along the road. A giant old-fashioned rose commands the far corner. This sea of color overflows with wildflowers, perennials, heirloom flowers, roses, and herbs. The abundant plants are so thick there is little need for mulch. It’s my living barrier to that beastly road. Grandchildren also play in the yard, but on this side of the border. The kids love to explore the many beds that comprise my garden, but they aren’t allowed to stick a toe in that one. Only I risk life and limb.

I’ve whittled down the vegetable plot over the years and expanded Mom Trissel’s flower beds while adding others. Herbs and blossoms surround my vegetable garden and mingle with the edibles. Drifts of wildflowers I seeded in April are lush with promise but I’ve knocked myself out dragging the hose around during dry spells. Blooms fill our small back garden from the white snowdrops in late winter to pink Queen Charlotte anemone in late summer. I watch from the kitchen window as feathered friends visit the bird feeder and hummers dart. Because this garden is enclosed by a wall, I can only expand it so far. Aggressive plants like fragrant Egyptian mint and Queen Anne’s Lace have taken too much ground, though both are beautiful. The mint should have been planted in a pot but I didn’t know that thirty years ago. Battling mint is an ongoing struggle and I must thin Queen Anne’s Lace. Iris and Dame’s Rocket (below) are finishing up for this season, as are Mom Trissel’s peonies. I moved some of her peonies and iris to the kitchen and Memorial gardens. My dear grandmother gave me this white iris years ago.

Dear to my heart is the expansive Memorial Garden I’ve labored in since late February. Not only have I worked there every day the weather permitted, but often when it didn’t. Cold wind blasted me in my scarf and multiple layers. Raw drizzle misted my face and chilled my muddy gloved fingers. In the early days, if temps hit the upper forties, I headed out the door. Fifties was a heat wave. Sometimes I waited until mid-day for the ground to thaw enough to dig. Everything was brown and depressing at first, apart from emerging daffodils. The only beauty lay in my vision of what could be. But I was bent on digging out wild asters that had overrun this enormous bed and creating a glorious site. I still dig tenacious roots out daily, but I’ve left some asters growing along the fence. They are butterfly magnets. The colorful mounds, some reaching over six feet tall, flutter and buzz with life in late summer. If I’m not careful, though, that’s all I’ll have. And I badly needed a goal and physical work this spring.

(Me digging aster roots. Hubby took pics when I didn’t realize)

I spent hours crawling around in the bleak cold getting out roots. See the tiny plant surrounded by stones? It’s a poor little rose that got lost in the asters, much happier since its rescue. Asters pictured below.


“Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it.” ~Author Unknown (Truth! My back ached terribly in those first days,not much now.)

“I cultivate my garden, and my garden cultivates me.” ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

The garden has, indeed, cared for me. My father’s passing in late December, only a year and a half after my brother Chad’s death, left me overwhelmed with grief. Then my mother-in-law died. The Memorial bed is also for her. All the digging, clean up, planting, mulching, path making, and ongoing planning for what to put in where has given me a much needed focus. Writing eluded me as I never thought it would. But nature hasn’t. And Lord knows the seed catalogues and online garden sites are there for me. Local ones, too. I have discovered some wonderful gardeners through the world of YouTube. My favorite is artist Jeri Landers. the Storybook Gardener, who has been of much comfort and inspiration. I love her creativity and gardening style and avidly follow her YouTube channel.

Like Jeri, I would describe my garden as cottage, country, with native plants. I’m not in the least formal. In one video, Jeri suggested finding an unsightly–even ugly–corner and making it beautiful. So I tackled the kitchen garden, another bed ruled by an overreaching plant, Bishop’s Weed. It was a hard slog, but I am delighted with the transformation. Then I took on a third bed overrun with a different kind of wild aster, and so on…You see the pattern here. I worked until I dropped, but it helped lift my spirits.

Jeri raised stunning foxglove from seed this year, while I bought plants, so guess what seed I ordered yesterday…plus, plus. I have a little greenhouse Dennis built for me eons ago, but it relies on solar heat. Too often seeds I sow in spring don’t germinate, even with a heating mat. I like Jeri’s idea of starting some of the hardy flowers in summer and wintering them over to bloom next year.

My most enticing plant lure are roses. At last count, I’ve moved four from various corners of the yard where they weren’t thriving to join five existing roses in my Memorial Garden. Two more roses were given to me, and I’ve purchased fourteen. So far. You can’t have a remembrance garden without the queen of flowers. Most came from English rose breeder David Austin and Jackson and Perkins. (J and P had a super sale this past week.) Several roses spilled into my newly reclaimed kitchen garden. I eagerly await those that have not yet bloomed. Among my new Memorial Garden additions are delphiniums, various buddleias, oriental lilies, gladiolas, hollyhocks, sweet William, iris, peonies, hardy geraniums, dianthus, bellflowers, less aggressive perennial asters and an annual aster, heuchera (coral bells) Lady’s Mantle, phlox, yarrow, saliva, rudbeckia, violas, columbine, different varieties of poppies, foxglove, lupins, verbena, catmint, sweet alyssum, lavender, chamomile, lemon marigolds… I’m still adding. Pics below from emerging blooms in that garden: roses, nepeta (catmint) miniature delphinium and violas. I started violas and alyssum from seed.

Carding Mill — David Austen Rose

Grief has its own timetable, with unpredictable ups and downs, as uncontrollable as the tide. I’m slowly finding my way, but know the sadness will never fully leave me. I already knew this from past grief, but never quite so sharply. I’m blessed with a close loving family and dear friends. They are my lifelines. I hope to find my way back to writing. This is the most I’ve written in months and it hasn’t been easy, but cathartic. For me, gardening is a vital part of healing. At some point, I will add a plaque, statue, or remembrance stone to the Memorial garden. Maybe all three. It’s a work in progress.

“I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation.” ~Phyllis Theroux

First hollyhocks opened yesterday.

Furbaby Friday with Luanna Stewart!


Welcome fellow Wild Rose Press Author Luanna Stewart, here to share her new historical romance, Love and Redemption, and her feline furbabies.

Luanna: I love black cats and I cannot lie. Mogget is our first ever and she is gorgeous, completely black except for a teeny, tiny patch of white on her belly. Now that she’s getting on in years, she has a few grey hairs on her chin. But, hey, who amongst us doesn’t, right?

My husband, the family photographer, frequently complains about the challenges inherent in photographing an all-black cat in low light. However, since I rarely have that challenge, I love that Mogget can almost disappear until she opens her glorious golden eyes.

She is the matriarch and lets us know when we’ve fallen down on our jobs of taking care of her every need. Her eyes are quite expressive and can nail you to the spot.

When she’s pleased, she’ll talk and talk and talk. When I walk into her room, by which I mean any room she’s in, she says hello, followed by a long sentence, which I frequently translate as, “the level of kibble in my bowl has fallen by a millimetre – take care of it!”

Bruno is our tuxedo cat, much easier to photograph. He’s forever a teenage boy, bashing and banging and roughhousing – and can sleep like the dead. All cats are good sleepers but Bruno sleeeeeps. He enjoys his outdoor time and in the summer presents us with a shrew or a vole with disturbing regularity. No worries, 75% of the time the critter is not deceased and escapes to live a long, fruitful life.

A brief note about their names. We adopted Bruno when we lived in Brunswick and I wanted a name for him that reflected his birthplace. When I was a little girl, I got a kitten from a litter of barn cats in Tiverton and I named her Tivi. So it’s a “thing” with me.

Mogget’s name is taken from a YA fantasy series, The Abhorsen, by Garth Nix that our two boys enjoyed as youngsters. The cat in the story was all white, and I believe a male, and he needed to wear a bell around his neck at all times, otherwise…well, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Let’s just say, it’s not pleasant.

How did you arrive at your pet’s names? What is their most dominant personality quirk?

Love and Redemption Blurb:

Mary Taylor abandoned her silk gowns and sparkling jewels when she quit her position as one of London’s highly prized courtesans. She’s determined to earn her living with a paintbrush rather than between the sheets. Starting fresh in a new country, she masquerades as a widow running a tearoom in Halifax while perfecting her art. But when she’s hired to finish the portrait of a handsome judge, she risks everything by surrendering to her lustful craving.

Finton Morash, youngest judge on the Queen’s bench, believes people are either good or bad. The dowdy widow painting his portrait is surely one of the former. After discovering the sensual beauty hiding beneath shapeless gowns, he wonders at her other secrets.

When whispers circulate about Mary’s nefarious past, she must find the courage to face the consequences. And Finton must decide whether love is worth the risk.

Buy links:

Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/Love-Redemption-Luanna-Stewart-ebook/dp/B07NYFQXGN

Amazon CA https://www.amazon.ca/Love-Redemption-Luanna-Stewart-ebook/dp/B07NYFQXGN

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Redemption-Luanna-Stewart-ebook/dp/B07NYFQXGN

Amazon AU https://www.amazon.com.au/Love-Redemption-Luanna-Stewart-ebook/dp/B07NYFQXGN

Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130823749?ean=2940161420393

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/love-and-redemption

Excerpt:
Mary glanced around before leaning closer still. “You are the most exciting thing to happen here in quite some time.”
“Am I indeed? Exciting?”
She silently cursed her fair skin, surely bright pink. One would think that after earning her living by flirting, teasing, and more, she would be comfortable with such talk. This man wasn’t paying for the privilege of her company, though, and there lay the difference. She stared at the painting as if she’d never seen it before. “Back to important matters. Please don’t feel—”
“I want to purchase this painting. It will brighten a corner of my library. Every time I weary of opinions and laws I’ll look at this and imagine myself at ease surrounded by the beauty of nature.” He carefully lifted the small canvas from the wall. “I see you’ve signed it with only your surname. Why is that?”
“I believe it will be easier to make my way in the artistic world if I keep my sex hidden. Women are often judged to be idly pursuing a hobby and are seldom taken seriously.”
“Hm…Would you mind signing your full name on the back? That way my heirs will know they have one of the first by a famous artist.”
She chuckled. “Where is the honesty you hold so dear?”
Though his expression remained unchanged she detected a twinkle in his eye. Unbidden came the wish that she was indeed a respectable widow, able to pursue a friendship with this exciting man without fear of discovery.
Enough. Her “if only’s” would soon fill her largest tea urn. She had much to be grateful for. She’d come to Halifax to start anew. If that meant leaving behind physical desire then so be it. Celibacy was a small price to pay for a life free of shame.

Author Biography:

Luanna Stewart has been creating adventures for her imaginary friends since childhood. As soon as she discovered her grandmother’s stash of romance novels, all plots had to lead to a happily-ever-after.
Luanna writes full time, concentrating on sexy romantic suspense, steamy paranormal romance, and spicy historical romance.
Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Luanna has recently returned to the land of her birth with her dear husband and two spoiled cats. When she’s not torturing her heroes and heroines, she’s in her kitchen baking something delicious.

Social Media Links:

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14104212.Luanna_Stewart
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/luanna_stewart

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