Our Summer Garden in the Shenandoah Valley


pink bee balmFlowers bloom and veges grow in a riot of beauty, despite the heat, humidity, and rampant weeds I make efforts to contain. Feeble efforts compared to the power of Mother Nature. My goal is to have more veges and flowers than weeds, but the pretty weeds stay. Even the marginally pretty ones. Beds stretch like islands in our yard, filled with reseeding heirloom flowers, wildflowers, and perennials that return from bulbs and roots. Herbs are interspersed throughout. We also grow heirloom vegetables.

Salad garden.

Being an organic gardener means we have a lot of bugs, good and bad. Occasionally, I spray organic brews around to discourage rampant bugs and leaf fungus’s, but the cats were licking seaweed/fish emulsion fertilizer off the leaves. Not a good idea when it’s mixed with the brew. So I’ve quit using fish based fertilizer.. We also have our own farm compost to put around plants to mulch and nourish them. Worms are a gardener’s friend and they thrive in it.

flowers near garden

Our goal is to have a wildlife sanctuary. Butterflies flutter from blossom to blossom and we have bees. Not as many bees as we used to have, but some murmur on a summer’s day. Bumble bees buzz happily and hummers dart. Our resident fairy expert, my niece, Cailin, says the flowers fairies love our garden(s). So do the kitties, both the inside cats gazing out windows and the outside felines stalking around like miniature jungle cats.  Gold finches sing and eat seeds from the sunflowers that reseed each year. Most birds survive, despite the cats. Maybe because I feed the kitties, and they’re on the lazy side.

Siamese tabby mix cat in the window

This spring the local cat rescue people humane trapped and spayed our barn kitties, many of whom were dumped on us, and then reproduced. They fixed and returned 19 cats of various ages, and found homes for the kittens. Some cats claim the old red barn as their domain. Others love the garden and eat from the bowel outside the back door. I mix lysine with their food to boost their immune systems. They’re much healthier now. I’m also buying little cat houses to provide extra shelter in bad weather. Cats hide among the garden plants and shrubs, but when winter comes, they will need more cover. They love the kitty houses.

I think the secret to enjoying the garden, is to not let the failures outweigh the many joys found in the beauty amid the imperfections. ~

Siamese barn kitty in herb bed

“Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.” ~Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897 (Thanks, Jessica)

“No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden.” ~Hugh Johnson

“I think the true gardener is a lover of his flowers, not a critic of them. I think the true gardener is the reverent servant of Nature, not her truculent, wife-beating master. I think the true gardener, the older he grows, should more and more develop a humble, grateful and uncertain spirit.” ~Reginald Farrer, In a Yorkshire Garden, 1909

Barn with wild flowers

“Let nature be in your yard.” ~Greg Peterson, www.urbanfarm.org

“A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself.” ~May Sarton

“I think that if ever a mortal heard the voice of God it would be in a garden at the cool of the day.” ~F. Frankfort Moore, A Garden of Peace

Cone flower

“Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there.” ~Thomas Fuller,Gnomologia, 1732

“Despite the gardener’s best intentions, Nature will improvise.” ~Michael P. Garofalo

***This is true. Nature improvises all over the place here.

Sunfower in back garden

Images taken by my daughter Elise. Pink Bee balm, Queen Anne’s Lace, Purple cone flower, heirloom lettuce, marigolds, zinnias, daylilies, coreopsis tinctoria, parsley, sunflowers, Siamese tabby mix cats.

What’s In A Name?


BenI’m glad to welcome Author Margaret Locke here to share insights into the names of characters  and a little about her new paranormal romantic comedy.

Margaret: When you read a novel, how much attention do you pay to character names? (***Beth: A lot!)

Names give characters flavor right from the start. Certain names just sound like certain kinds of characters, right? Heroes are rarely Eugenes or Nesbits, and villains usually boast better monikers than Joe or Bob. Melodious, flowing names render characters more appealing, whereas crisp, crackling names give the opposite impression.

While I’ve always appreciated interesting – but not too ludicrous – names in the romances I read, I’d never really thought much about why authors chose particular names (beyond the associations above) – until I had to come up with character names myself.

Choosing the perfect name for each character in A Man of Character was both thrilling and daunting. Thrilling, because of the possibilities in terms of (more or less) subconscious associations, and because I could choose names I loved. Daunting, because people react strongly to names, and I feared giving a main character a name readers hated!

Here’s a little insight into the names of the main characters in A Man of Character:

Grayson

Catherine Schreiber – I’ve always loved the nickname “Cat,” partly, I’m sure, because of my affection for felines. What better name to use for my main character? The crispness of her nickname reflects the sharper edges of Cat, whereas the full name showcases her softer side. And Schreiber? Schreiber means “writer” in German.

Eliza James – Cat’s best friend is a Jane Austen aficionado, so I had give her a name that calls Miss Austen to mind, right? Eliza is in homage to Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice fame, and James reminded me not only of Jane, but sounded quite British, indeed.

Ben Cooper – Ah, Ben. The affable computer science professor who’s definitely not an alpha male. I wanted a good, friendly name that was neither dominant, nor weak. Benjamin also worked well in a favorite scene of mine, excerpted below. As for Cooper? That’s my hat tip to one of my favorite characters, Dr. Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory fame.

old love letter with rosesDerrick Gibson – The star quarterback. I needed a suitably 80s/early 90s name that could be shortened (if you read the book, you’ll know why). And Gibson? Well, one of the popular football players in my high school had the last name Gibson. It fit.

Grayson Phillips – Grayson. The seductive poetry-quoting grad student. No ordinary name would do for this fellow. A friend got me addicted to the show “Drop Dead Diva” around the same time I was name-brainstorming. Since the show featured a handsome fellow named Grayson, I figured I’d borrow it – good associations and all. Phillips? That’s that same friend’s last name, so it was my way of honoring her.

William Dawes – I remember sitting in Panera, hands hovering over the keyboard as I struggled to come up with a name for this wealthy investment manager. It needed to be traditional, yet not stodgy. The only name that kept popping into my head was Richard Dawson – yes, the Richard Dawson of Family Feud fame. I giggled at the image, but that name obviously wasn’t the right one. However, shortening Dawson to Dawes, and borrowing the very regal William, did the trick.

And there you go! Pretty much every name in A Man of Character, even down to the cats, has meaning for me, but I’ll stop at these main ones.

dark red rose budI’d love to hear from you!

As a reader, how much do character names matter to you?

Is having insight into character names valuable, or would you rather draw your own conclusions and associations (given the content of this post, I’m rather hoping the former, but want honest answers, anyway)?

Does the name make the character, or the character influence associations with the name?

If you’re a writer, how much thought do you put into name choices?

Finally, what are some of your favorite fictional character names – and why?

AMOCCoverA Man of Character blurb:

What would you do if you discovered the men you were dating were fictional characters you’d created long ago?

Thirty-five-year-old Catherine Schreiber has shelved love for good. Keeping her ailing bookstore afloat takes all her time, and she’s perfectly fine with that. So when several men ask her out in short order, she’s not sure what to do…especially since something about them seems eerily familiar.

A startling revelation – that these men are fictional characters she’d created and forgotten years ago – forces Cat to reevaluate her world and the people in it. Because these characters are alive. Here. Now. And most definitely in the flesh.

Her best friend, Eliza, a romance novel junkie craving her own Happily Ever After, is thrilled by the possibilities. The power to create Mr. Perfect – who could pass that up? But can a relationship be real if it’s fiction? Caught between fantasy and reality, Cat must decide which – or whom – she wants more.

Blending humor with unusual twists, including a magical manuscript, a computer scientist in shining armor, and even a Regency ball, A Man of Character tells a story not only of love, but also of the lengths we’ll go for friendship, self-discovery, and second chances.

rosesExcerpt from A Man of Character:

“That’s a fantastic book,” she commented, hoping he hadn’t been able to hear her previous conversation. She didn’t like the idea of anyone hearing details of her sex life. Well, potential sex life, anyway.

“Is it? I started it this morning,” came a deep voice in reply. He ran his fingers over the cover. “It was a gift from my parents. They delight in sending me anything related to Benjamin Franklin.”

“Really? Why?”

A sheepish expression crossed his face. “Because they named me after him. My parents are obsessed with colonial America. My mom’s a proud member of the D.A.R., and claims a number of our ancestors served during the Revolutionary War.”

Cat grinned. “Do you have a brother named Jefferson?”

“No.” His lips thinned, and his eyes squeezed shut for a moment. “He was George Washington, actually.”

Recognizing that all-too-familiar look of loss, Cat impulsively reached over and rubbed his hand to soothe him. When his eyes dropped to her fingers, she pulled them away. What had come over her, touching a stranger like that?’~

***Fascinating, Margaret. Thanks!

You can find A Man of Character here:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/AManOfCharacter

Anne2About Margaret Locke:

As a teen, Margaret Locke pledged to write romances when she grew up. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grown-up things, not penning steamy love stories. Yeah, whatever. Turning forty cured her of that silly notion. Margaret is now happily ensconced back in the clutches of her first love, this time as an author as well as a reader. Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fab kids, and two fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window; she’s come to terms with the fact that she’s not an outdoors person). Please visit her at margaretlocke.com. She’s also often hanging out on Facebook, GoodReads, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Rose LetterWebsite: http://margaretlocke.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/AuthorMargaretLocke

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/MargaretLocke

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/Margaret_Locke

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Margaret_Locke

Historical Romance Novel Traitor’s Legacy On Sale for .99!


TraitorsLegacy_w8945_med.jpg (official cover) (2)Traitor’s Legacy, the sequel to award-winning historical romance novel, Enemy of the King, is reduced to .99 in kindle at Amazon and nook book at Barnes & Noble.

Journey back to the drama, intrigue, and romance of the American Revolution, where spies can be anyone and trust may prove deadly.

Traitor’s Legacy Blurb:

1781. On opposite sides of the War of Independence, British Captain Jacob Vaughan and Claire Monroe find themselves thrust together by chance and expediency.

Captain Vaughan comes to a stately North Carolina manor to catch a spy. Instead, he finds himself in bedlam: the head of the household is an old man ravaged by madness, the one sane male of the family is the very man he is hunting, and the household is overseen by his beguiling sister Claire.

Torn between duty, love, and allegiances, yearning desperately for peace, will Captain Vaughan and Claire Monroe forge a peace of their own against the vagaries of war and the betrayal of false friends?

traitors curse***The Sequel to Traitor’s Legacy, ghostly Gothic historical romance novel, Traitor’s Curse, will be out this fall on November 6th. Stay tuned.

This is a series of three novels, so far. Each story is written to stand alone, but it’s more meaningful for the reader to begin at the beginning with Enemy of the King set in 1780 South Carolina.

“Highlander Magick” in the Mystical Isle of Skye


Isle of skye Scenery

I’m delighted to have my good friend, Patty Taylor, with me to share her new Scottish time travel fantasy romance and the inspiration behind the story. Also, she’s giving away a $10.00 Amazon gift card to someone who leaves her a comment, to be chosen Friday evening. 

Patty: Good Morning! I’m excited to be here and wish to thank my dear friend, Beth, for inviting me back to her lovely blog. I’d also like to thank each of you for dropping by and helping us celebrate my début release of Mortal Magick, while I share some “Highlander Magick in the Mystical Isle of Skye”.

Patty's Mum

Many of you have sent me kind comments regarding the true love story between my beloved parents. My mother, Evelyn, was born and raised in Northern Ireland and served in the British Army during WWII where she met my Daddy, a US Sergeant. Her love, strength, and courage have always inspired me to pursue my dreams. I have her to thank for introducing me to the magical world of “The Chronicles of Narnia” by CS Lewis. Two years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the statue of the enchanted wardrobe outside the Belfast Library.

To learn more about my Mum and see some photos of her beautiful homeland, please visit Beth’s original post with me: “The Magick of Ireland with Author Patty Taylor”. Beth and I had such fun that day. It was truly a memorable experience and one I will always treasure.

patty's parents in Ireland

(Photo of Patty’s parents taken in Ireland.)

And now, I’m thrilled to share my lovely cover for Mortal Magick, a paranormal/fantasy time travel romance set in the 18th century mystical Isle of Skye.

PT_MortalMagic Cover

Blurb:  When an immortal Highlander falls in love with a human witch, “Mortal Magick” soon casts a spell of its own.

Doomed for eternity to wander nights as half man and half creature, rugged Highlander, Duncan McCord, discovers his curse is the least of his problems when he sets out for a cure and rescues the beauty determined to help tame his beast. 

When a reluctant witch, Keara, gets whisked back to 18th century mystical Isle of Skye to learn lessons in magic, she faces the true test of love when she meets the man beyond her wildest dreams burdened with dark secrets from his past.  

Forced together to journey through an enchanted country filled with mythical creatures and magical lore, will they survive in a world where evil sorcery reigns, or will a shocking twist of fate tear them centuries apart?~

A wee excerpt from the story:

Duncan McCord wanted a woman. His entire body and soul hungered for a special lass’ touch. The one destined for his love, whom he would call kindred spirit. His stomach tightened, a pain ripping through him like the slice of a broadsword. This canna happen. Not now, not ever. Reality hastily slapped him back to his senses. He vowed never to be foolish enough to let himself fall into another vixen’s treacherous traps.

Dark, threatening clouds rolled over Scotland’s glorious mountain peaks in the distance. The muscles in his legs rippled, gripping both sides of his mount. His stallion, Goliath, snorted and stopped short in his tracks. His enormous hooves stomped the hard ground.~

One more snippet

Duncan lunged from the damp forest floor. His splayed hooves clip-clopped on top of a boulder. His nostrils flared from the irresistible lingering lavender scent. He cocked his head to the side, his keen hearing caught her every breath as each step she took brought her dangerously closer. “Aye, the damn fool-headed woman! She’s done wandered off again.”

He snarled at a shooting star plummeting to the ground. Like a bubbling cauldron of fire, it spit an outburst of flames across the moonlit sky. “Aye, the bonny wee lass is headed straight for a trap.” Clenching his fists, he veered back his head and wailed.~

Giant's Causeway(Giant’s Causeway)

Coming from a family of storytellers, I feel blessed in having both an Irish and Scottish heritage. When growing up, I was fortunate to hear tales of the wee people, the leprechauns, fairies of Ireland, the magical creatures and brownies of Scotland, the Brown Man of the Muirs, dragons, selkies, witches, and much more. Fascinated by these magnificent realms of magick, I couldn’t resist centering one of my stories in the enchanting Isle of Skye. I’ve been very fortunate to visit my family homes in both Northern Ireland and Scotland. I loved visiting the gorgeous Giant’s Causeway after hearing about the legend of the famous giant, Finn MacCool. 

The Fairy Pools(Fairy Pools)

The first time I saw photos of the gorgeous Fairy Pools, located southeast of the lovely Glen Brittle Forest, my imagination ran wild. I love mythical folklore and handsome Highlanders. After doing a bit more research on the enchanting Fairy Glens, the grand seal island, Dunvegan Castle, home of the famous Fairy Flag and Dunvegan Cup,  the fairy knolls and bridge, and the Quiraing, I soon decided this was the perfect “Beauty and the Beast” setting for my fantasy, Mortal Magick.

Scotland Heather(Scottish Heather)

Mystic Fairy Glen(Mystic Fairy Glen)

If you’re like me, you’ve got a soft spot in your heart for men wearin’ kilts! When I visited Scotland two years ago, oh my, it was a dream come true. Since I didn’t have the nerve to ask permission to take a few photos of some of the men wearing their kilts, I thought you might enjoy seeing several pics that were taken inside a tartan weaving shop located in Edinburgh. I was amazed how the styles have changed over the years.

Scottish Highlanders in kilts

men in kilts

I promised Beth I would share a bit about fairies and brownies, so this is the perfect time to introduce one of my favorite characters in Mortal Magick, the whimsical matchmaker known as “wee Darby”. Being part Irish Fairy and part Scottish Brownie, wee Darby is quite the unique character with his caterpillar eyebrows arched above a crooked pair of thick rimmed gold glasses, while ivy leaves sprout from a tousled mass of his bright carrot orange hair.

It didn’t take long to discover that, just like working with my clay and glass, the more details I added to this whimsical character, the more I found wee Darby worked his magick, and found a permanent spot in my heart. He soon became an important persona in the story, instead of simply a minor figure as originally planned. Since Darby is descended from the Brown Man of the Muirs, he inherited the love for animals and uses his special herbal cures, which he stores in unusual vials, tucked safely inside an old tattered coat. 

***A special Darby alert: watch for the image of wee Darby that will appear on my blog later this year, created by Beth’s artistic daughter, Elise Trissel.

Isle Skye WaterfallA few interesting facts about brownies, not to be confused with sprites, pixies, or fairies. Brownies are small featured and range between two and three feet tall. Most Scottish brownies prefer living next to streams and waterfalls, but will occasionally visit farmers after harvest season. They have shaggy hair, wear tattered clothes, and are hard workers. People are careful not to leave gifts of clothing, for fear of offending them. If irritated, brownies can become mischievous and turn into nasty boggarts. But they can be soothed. They have a sweet tooth for honey and enjoy a refreshing drink of milk. In Scotland, the people refer to them as “Bockie”, and in the Highlands, they are the Bodach (Budagh). 

 Fairy with dragonBrownies are also regarded as guardians of dragons. Darby, of course, admits to knowing a few. Since brownies are adept at hiding from humans, I wasn’t able to share a picture of these elusive beings. Instead, I found this image of a lovely fairy holding a wee dragon. In the upcoming sequel to Mortal Magick, Sea Wolf Magick, I have included a miniature dragon, Kalista, as one of the main characters.

I realize I haven’t touched on Keara and her feline familiar, Samson, today, and there’s much more to share, but I must save a wee bit for another time. Beth has graciously invited me back this fall after I return from visiting my family in Northern Ireland, and I will share more pictures then. I plan to do additional research for my new young adult, Irish fantasy trilogy while visiting the magical fairy Glens of Antrim, and will also take the official tour in Belfast, where CS Lewis lived. My cousin plans to take me to visit beautiful old Donegal for a few days, where she promises I’m in for a very special treat. :)  

 Dunvegan Castle(Dunvegan Castle)

A heartfelt thanks once again to my gracious host and dear friend, Beth Trissel, for having me here today, and to all of you who took the time to stop by to meet me and leave your comments. I hope you’ll enjoy reading Mortal Magick and would love to hear from you.

Quiraing; Trotternish; Isle of  SkyeBefore I forget, please mark your calendars for Friday, October 30th, when authors Lane McFarland and Mairi Norris will join Beth and me on Facebook, as we celebrate the evening of Mortal Magick’s official Samhain/Halloween weekend. Stay tuned for more details about dressing in costume for the occasion and bringing your pets. 

Also, stayed tuned for updates on Sea Wolf Magick–the sequel in the works. Get ready for two magical adventures: Journey across the Mystical Isle of Skye,  to the Enchanting land of Fire and Ice.

(Quiraing; Trotternish; Isle of Skye, pictured above)

Visit: Patty’s website and blog: http://www.pattytaylorauthor.com 

Patty’s Amazon author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00ZE65O0Q

Amazon Purchase Link for Mortal Magick

Follow Patty’s Facebook Author Page

About Patty: Writer of fantasy, paranormal romance set in various places located in Scotland’s mystical Isle of Skye, the magical Glens of Antrim, Northern Ireland and the secluded wilderness of Alaska. Where shape shifters, werewolves, fairies, brownies and mythical creatures come to life. Writing romance with a wee bit of magick from the heart.

Patty outside the oldest pub in Ireland1

(Image of Patty outside the oldest pub in Ireland)

***Fascinating post, Patty! All of it. I look forward to your return to the blog.

History, Mystery, Romance, and Ghosts–Traitor’s Curse!


traitors curseGhostly, Gothic, historical romance novel, Traitor’s Curse, the sequel to Traitor’s Legacy, and the third novel in the series, is coming out November 6th from The Wild Rose Press. The print may show up a week or two earlier at Amazon, so late October for that format. Just around the corner, right?

Set in historic Halifax, NC, on the heels of the American Revolution, Traitor’s Curse builds on the central theme in Traitor’s Legacy. Both novels center around the hidden treasure collected by a band of Patriots to bribe a Loyalist into revealing the whereabouts of the infamous traitor, Benedict Arnold, the man they badly wanted to hang. Although America’s most wanted ultimately fled to England, the treasure remained in Halifax where the haunting mystery in Traitor’s Curse unfolds.

While the historical aspects of that era are authentically depicted in the story, intriguing paranormal elements are also interwoven; among them, a ghost. Other possibilities for his presence in the home are suggested, so choose as you will. It’s kind of a mind game, but significant clues are given for the discerning reader. Bear in mind that the author believes in ghosts and cursed treasure.

Enemyoftheking resizedEnemy of the King, the first book in the Traitor’s Legacy Series, isn’t listed as such because the series hadn’t yet been conceived when it was published by the Wild Rose Press. However, each story follows the other so it’s best to read them in order, though not mandatory. The novels are written to stand alone. So, hop in wherever you find yourself.

Those of you seeking familiar characters from Traitor’s Legacy will be gratified by their return and, I think, captivated with the new heroine, Hettie Fairfax. Hettie appeared to me in a sort of vision, while I was walking around our misty meadow. Quite an unusual experience, one of many that helped birth this story.

Graveyard

Story Blurb:

Halifax, North Carolina, 1783. Captain Stuart Monroe returns home from the Revolutionary War to find Thornton Hall threatened by a peacetime foe: debt. He knows the location of a treasure amassed to pay for the capture of Benedict Arnold that would restore his manor to its former glory. The catch, it’s hidden in the graveyard, and coveted by old enemies.

Hettie Fairfax inherited the Sight from her Cherokee ancestors, and her otherworldly visitors warn her, and Stuart, away from the buried treasure. Half-dead from fever, she delivers a message: the treasure is cursed. But will he believe a girl half out of her mind with illness? Even when a very real enemy attempts to poison her?

Stuart soon wants to marry Hettie, but she fears her “odd ways” will blemish his reputation. The spirits have their own agenda, however, and the battle against darkness tests everything the couple holds dear, including their love for each other.~

Coming soon to a theater near you. I wish.

For more on my work, I invite you to visit my Amazon Author Page.

Enemy of the King and Traitor’s Legacy are also available from my publisher, The Wild Rose Press,  Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers.

Gardening–A Worthy Legacy


Emma in the garden with larkspur1Whisper blue sky days in the garden feed my soul, especially when the plants are fresh and the world is new. May and June in the Shenandoah Valley are as fair as any place on earth. I launched myself from winter slug mode into the garden in March. Since then, I’ve tended neglected nooks, (and entire beds) pulled weeds, thinned vigorous reseeding heirlooms to make room for other contenders, planted, pruned, and mulched with compost from our farm. I hear the envious sighs from gardeners who yearn after all the organic compost we have access to.

(Granddaughter Emma above with blue larkspur taken by Dennis)

perfect June roseGardening is an ongoing labor. Daughter Elise, my right hand and ‘colleague’, undertake many projects together. Our dreams are far loftier in January than when reality hits. That tends to pare them back. I also have the enthusiastic support of various small people. Some of the children work harder than others, but each one loves the garden.

Earlier this spring, 10-year-old grandson Ian asked who would care for the plants when I’m too old to manage.

‘You,’ I said, ‘and Elise, and anyone else who loves to garden.’ He pondered who that might include. I assured him I’m good to go for many years yet, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

Despite my moaning about the–at times–backbreaking work, I can’t imagine life without gardening. Nor do I wish to. What a wealth to leave future generations, culminating from the love I inherited from those who’ve gone before me. Plus some still avid gardeners in their 80’s. It’s a family thing.

(Above, A David Austen Rose by Elise)

my gardening assistant1

Elise and my husband Dennis have taken wonderful pics of the garden, our farm, and several of the small people this spring. I hope you enjoy them.

“It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought.” ~James Douglas,Down Shoe Lane

***I totally agree with this quote, but don’t have images at dusk or dawn on this particular post.

(Above, my most enthusiastic assistant, 5-year-old Owen, pulling the vintage wagon one warm spring day with his hoe and drinks to keep us hydrated.)

Emma and Owen beside the old pink rose with larkspur1 (The heirloom pink rose-bush the children are beside is 34 years old.)

“Gardens are a form of autobiography.” ~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture magazine, August/September 1993

***Wow, is this true. Mine surely is. I suppose the way our garden(s) are allowed to assert themselves as much as they are, says something in itself.

Siamese barn kitty in herb bed

(Siamese barn kitty in the herbs, by Elise)

“I know that if odour were visible, as colour is, I’d see the summer garden in rainbow clouds. ~Robert Bridges, “Testament of Beauty”

***What imagery. Quite enchanting.

“How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence.” ~Benjamin Disraeli

***Gardening has comforted and consoled many on this side of the veil.

Emma and Owen in the flowers with poppies

(My wildflower meadow border)

“You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.” ~Author Unknown

***You surely can.

“Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.” ~Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.” ~W.E. Johns, The Passing Show

***These quotes really struck me because Elise and I often imagine what could be. Especially in January, then we pare down those visions come spring, but glorious dreams rise ever before us. And who knows what might yet become reality. The possibilities are ever there. We have room here to dream.

pilgrim geese in spring meadow1

(We see the meadow from our garden. Image by Elise)

“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” ~Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

***A wonderful quote from Kate Morton, and yes, I am in accord with her.

From an aunt, long ago: “Death has come for me many times but finds me always in my lovely garden and leaves me there, I think, as an excuse to return.” ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

***I absolutely love this quote from Robert Brault, who has many excellent insights into gardening and all that it means, or should. And still can.

blue phlox spring blooming

(Wild blue Phlox divaricata above and Coral bells below by Elise)

Coral Bells 2

If you want to show your love for the earth, plant something and encourage others. Family and community gardens can make an enormous difference in a person’s outlook, no matter how old or young they are. Gardening feeds the five senses as well as the body and the spirit.

“In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts here and there. To the flowers I whisper the secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe. I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels.” ~Dodinsky, www.dodinsky.com

***Wow. How well said. The farm pond in the meadow below. Rather like a very large water garden. We’ve planted trees and pussy willow around it.the farm pond with geese “It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not.” ~W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman, Garden Rubbish, 1936

***You really do.

“My garden is my favorite teacher.” ~Betsy Cañas Garmon,www.wildthymecreative.com

***I’ve learned immeasurably from my garden. This past Saturday I took Emma and Owen on a garden tour and invited them to smell many of the herbs, as well as seeing and exploring. Fragrance is our earliest memory, and it’s my hope that someday, when they’re older, the scent of an herb will carry them back to this happy fragrance filled morning with their grandmother, as dill once did for me.

Emma and Owen in the garden1

Oh, the Inspiration in a Place


Blue Ridge MountainsFor me, in my writing, it’s all about time and place. Certain settings inspire me, like old homes, particularly haunted ones, castles, Southern plantations, and their opposite, rustic log cabins, but most especially, the mountains. I love the misty mountains. What stories they hold. Secrets, mysteries, ghosts…

Many accounts centered around the mountain people have been recorded. The late author and historian, John Heatwole, left a rich wealth of information in his books about the Shenandoah Valley and mountain people. Some of these stories are wonderful for inspiration. I’ll give you several examples from John Heatwole’s book, Shenandoah Voices.

Moonlit Night

“When Nelson Whetzel was a young man he had an interesting experience while walking home from work one evening. In Brocks Gap in earlier times the only things to light ones way were the stars or the glow from a lamp in a neighbor’s window. 

As he walked Nelson heard a horse coming up the road behind him.  Nelson stopped for a moment, thinking, ‘Good! I’ll have someone to talk to.’ But the sound of the horse’s hooves stopped when he did. He called out, asking who was there in the pitch-black.

No answer came and Nelson began uneasily walking again, this time a little faster. The sound of the horse picked up pace to match Nelson’s. He stopped a second time and the sound of the horse ceased to be heard. Nelson started trotting and the sound horse’s hooves were heard at a trot behind him, close on his heels. He grew very frightened and began to run as fast as he could.  The galloping horse seemed to be so close, Nelson thought he felt the breath on the back of his neck.

Up ahead Nelson saw the lighted windows of the cabin belonging to George and Mat Smith. He was so terrified that he hit the Smith’s front door at full force. He knocked it down and went right through the structure, knocking down the back door as he exited. The Smiths blinked at each other in wonder and amazement. They saw no phantom horse follow Nelson through their home.

Immediately after his encounter with the doors Nelson noticed the sound of the pursuing horse was gone, however, he ran on home as fast as his feet would carry him.”

*That tale reminds me of the headless horseman from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Scary!

“The Roadcaps lived in a two-story log cabin just down the road from Gospel Hill Mennonite Church. All of the girls of the family shared a room upstairs.  One night one of the sisters, Peggy by name, went to the bedroom alone.  There she saw a woman sitting up on the iron headboard of one of the beds.

The woman didn’t say anything or move toward the frightened child, just sat there and looked at her. Peggy was rooted to the spot in fear but able to find her voice and call to her father to come to her aid.  There was something in her voice that demanded immediate attention and she heard his heavy footfall as he hurried up the stairs. As her father neared the room, the woman vanished into thin air.  Peggy never entered that room alone again.”~

“The children of the Roadcap family loved to play on the banks of the little Shoemaker River near their home. Once they came running home and told their father they’d seen a woman all dressed in white walking along the opposite bank of the river from where they played. They’d never seen her before and being shy had not spoken to her but only observed her progress.

Their father listened thoughtfully and then told them they had seen the spirit of a young woman who had died years before of a broken heart. They were told they would probably see her again and that she would do them no harm. They were to behave as they had before and refrain from calling out to the spirit.

They believed their father. There were not that many people living in those parts and the children knew them all. They promised not to disturb the apparition if they encountered her again. During their childhoods they witnessed her strolling along the river on several more occasions.”~

That story reminds me of the novel, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, which was a very intriguing BBC mystery/thriller starring Tara Fitzgerald. I saw the film on Netflix and highly recommend it.

***If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy the one I wrote entitled:

The Poltergeist in our Old Farm House

***John Heatwole’s books are at Amazon, but may only be available as used copies.