To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves. ~Mahatma Gandhi


May is the wackiest, loveliest month, swinging from soaring heat to frigid cold. Now that the month is almost over, seasonable temps have arrived, and we’ve gotten some nice rain. Despite this roller coaster weather, most of the plants survived.

We grow hardy perennials, reseeding heirlooms, wildflowers (some might be called weeds), herbs…greens, especially Swiss chard, and a forest of dill. It’s possible I accidentally planted two seed packets. We’re reluctant to thin the excess as swallowtail butterfly caterpillars feed on the ferny foliage. Much of the dill is left to bury whatever else we had in that vicinity. Carrots, maybe…beets…  Some of the adult butterflies are soaring about the garden(s).

(Image of Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar and ladybug below taken today)

(Black Swallowtail on Bee Balm from a past summer)

Our garden is not carefully planned, and exists as much for the bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects as for us. We have a lot of ladybugs, lacewings, baby praying mantis, hover flies that resemble honey bees but are beneficials…and I’m not sure what, but a lot of good bugs to battle the bad. The plants often determine what grows. Those that do well tend to be takeover varieties, requiring some management.  By August it’s a jungle. Every single year. But this spring we’ve  mulched with a lot of hay, made valiant attempts at order. We even mulched many of the flower beds with bark like other people do, leaving spots for the reseeding flowers to do their thing, and make frequent rounds to pull out weeds, thistles, etc. But the ‘etc.’ has a way of overcoming all. Perhaps it’s best to do what we can and glory in the untamed beauty. We rarely achieve tamed.

(Swiss Chard with Peas behind below)

Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans. ~Marcelene Cox

My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view. ~H. Fred Dale (Thanks, Anne)

Gardening requires lots of water — most of it in the form of perspiration. ~Lou Erickson

God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done. ~Author Unknown
I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse

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

Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. ~Lindley Karstens, noproblemgarden.com


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

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

The garden is the poor man’s apothecary. ~German Proverb

(Heirloom peony)

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

(Happy Coreopsis)

Coming Soon-My Very First Newsletter!


With much appreciated help, I’m putting together my first ever newsletter, a mix of gardening, geese, the farm, my furbabies, books…new release…If you’d like to be among the happy recipients please message me your email at bctrissel@yahoo.com or fill out the form on the left side of my blog. A $20.00 Amazon gift card will be awarded to one of the recipients for coming on board. I’m too busy herding cats, geese, Puppy Cooper, gardening, and that writing thing…to get a newsletter out more than quarterly so don’t worry about being bombarded.

This announcement is brought to you by my publicists, Peaches and Cream..

Why I Wrote Time Travel Romance Somewhere My Lady (Ladies in Time)


Edith’s Theme, the hauntingly beautiful song from Crimson Peak, stirred this story in me long before I watched the movie, which was after I finished the book. I purposely waited until then before viewing the film. Other songs in the soundtrack also sent my imagination soaring, but that one really did. Scenes took shape in my mind, especially the ghostly dance I wrote in chapter one. I couldn’t have conceived Somewhere My Lady without this music. Some songs do that for me, but music isn’t the only inspiration behind the story.

Old homes have always drawn me. I’ve lived in them most of my life, and visited plenty. Our farm-house was built in the 1870’s. Think about it, family’s filled these homes with the emotions accompanying the events taking place in their lives. The walls witnessed their sagas, good and bad, and absorbed the energy. Old homes exude an indefinable sense of place. Even if I closed my eyes, I would know where I am, depending on how familiar I am with a house. Scents and hearing also play a part in this intuition, but the energy, whether positive or negative, flows from a home. A much lived in home is never really empty. Perhaps the spirits of those who once dwelt there come back and visit, or they leave a part of themselves behind. I don’t know, but I like a good ghost story.

Harrison Hall, the colonial era home in Somewhere My Lady, is loosely based on Shirley Plantation, a magnificent 18th century home, built along the James River in Virginia. In the story, this wonderful manor sized house is a paranormal hot spot, concealing a deadly mystery Hart and Lorna must solve.

Story Blurb: 

Lorna Randolph is hired for the summer at Harrison Hall in Virginia, where Revolutionary-War reenactors provide guided tours of the elegant old home. She doesn’t expect to receive a note and a kiss from the handsome young man who then vanishes into mist.

Harrison Hall itself has plans for Lorna – and for Hart Harrison, her momentary suitor and its 18th century heir. Past and present are bound by pledges of love, and modern science melds with old skills and history as Harrison Hall takes Lorna and Hart through time in a race to solve a mystery and save Hart’s life before the Midsummer Ball.~

Somewhere My Lady is out 7-12-2017. The preorder kindle link:  https://www.amazon.com/Somewhere-Lady-Ladies-Time-Book-ebook/dp/B071VTNC7V

If you’re interested in my other time travel romances, they’re  in kindle at: https://www.amazon.com/Somewhere-Time-4-Book/dp/B016DF8LJ2

***Somewhere My Lady is similar to Somewhere My Love but different.

Edith’s Theme:  https://youtu.be/zRi9KgffL3A

I Got A New Puppy. The End.


(Cooper–a Morkie puppy)

If you’ve ever had a new puppy, you know what I’m talking about. The end of life before puppy (BP) breaks loose. In this case, his name is Cooper, so it’s BC. Has a biblical ring to it, but his whole name is Special Agent Dale Cooper from the eccentric FBI agent in Twin Peaks. Daughter Elise got me into the show. Back to Puppy Cooper. Oh my gosh, what a week it’s been. First, we had the never-ending car ride there and back (back was twice as long) to get the little guy on Sunday. Cooper is from South Carolina. We live in Virginia. Traffic was bad. Toward the end, I was singing the lyrics to the Sloop John B (Beach Boys), especially this bit:

‘Let me go home
Why don’t they let me go home
This is the worst trip I’ve ever been on.’

We finally made it home, and Cooper has a nice puppy playpen setup instead of a crate. I call it base camp, and it has his bed, toys, water, pee pad.. He tolerates it pretty well, except for those incensed occasions when he doesn’t. The family all love him and have descended in adoring droves. But after everyone leaves, he looks around to ask ‘where did they all go?’ Yep. He’s a tad spoiled.

I badly needed a little friend after my dear Sadie died of congestive heart failure about the time Cooper was born. He just turned nine weeks old. He’s already touchingly devoted to me, and declares in every way possible, that I am his person. At the moment, he’s also a chewy little dog who wants the run of the house but isn’t housebroken yet. Plus, as often happens to pups with the stress of moving to a new home, he got an upset tummy. This has resulted in a lot of extra cleanups, worry, phone calls to the vet, and a trip to the clinic. He’s now on a special diet, probiotics, and medication. So far–knock wood–he’s better today. Cooper is a Morkie–a Yorkie Maltese mix, but more Yorkie than Maltese. These pups are especially prone to tummy upset.

I’ve lined the couch with bedding so he can play up and down the length of it while I’m on my laptop–during those occasions when he’s not trying to eat it. And he loves to sit with me, which is good, because that will be his job. Sadie has passed the torch to this tiny boy. I still miss her terribly. Part of me always will. But I am glad for my new buddy, despite all the work of a new puppy.

Welcome little Cooper. You are finding your place in my heart.

Nothing is more completely the child of Art than a Garden. ~Walter Scott


I am giddy in May with the abundance of new life surrounding me in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. My garden(s) burst forth and I plant and weed like mad.  Everything grows so fast, there’s never enough time for all the tasks that need doing. I remind myself to stop and look at the glistening beauty, inhale the scents, hear the birds. It’s impossible to remain indoors for long in May.  Tender greens, asparagus, and rhubarb are ready to be harvested. And onward ho.  The garden waits for no one. I must run to catch up, but I can also just let it be for a while and savor.

(Nook in the back garden with columbine. A dandelion going to seed at far bottom right. 🙂 Much mint mixes with the flowers back here.)

Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps;
Perennial pleasures plants, and wholesome harvest reaps.
~A. Bronson Alcott, “The Garden,” Tablets, 1868

Despite the gardener’s best intentions, Nature will improvise. ~Michael P. Garofalo (Always, and with a lot of freedom here.)

I say, if your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life. ~Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes (The knees of my gardening pant’s are green or dirt colored this time of year)

(Dame’s Rocket in back garden)

The garden is the poor man’s apothecary. ~German Proverb (Perhaps it should be everyone’s.)

No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden. ~Hugh Johnson (This is so true.)
The hum of bees is the voice of the garden. ~Elizabeth Lawrence (I have a wealth of plants for bees and butterflies, and seeded yet more.)

My garden is my favorite teacher. ~Betsy Cañas Garmon, www.wildthymecreative.com (Yes, and I am learning everyday.)

One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides. ~W.E. Johns, The Passing Show (I rush outdoors each day.)

(Violas beside currently unoccupied toad house)

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, www.wildthymecreative.com

Life begins the day you start a garden. ~Chinese Proverb

As a gardener, I’m among those who believe that much of the evidence of God’s existence has been planted. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

Learn to be an observer in all seasons. Every single day, your garden has something new and wonderful to show you. ~Author Unknown

Fingers now scented with sage and rosemary, a kneeling gardener is lost in savory memories. ~Dr. SunWolf, professorsunwolf.com

(Old-time poppy that has been here forever. Blooms each May.)

One of the worst mistakes you can make as a gardener is to think you’re in charge. ~Janet Gillespie

An optimistic gardener is one who believes that whatever goes down must come up. ~Leslie Hall

I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation. ~Phyllis Theroux (Maybe so.)

(My mom took this iris pic from her yard)

One of the healthiest ways to gamble is with a spade and a package of garden seeds. ~Dan Bennett

Coltsfoot–Herbal Cough Remedy


“Waters are distilled out of Herbs, Flowers, Fruits, and Roots.” ~Nicholas Culpeper

(Coltsfoot)

I often come across references to coltsfoot in my reading. My favorite is related by the beloved British Author Miss Read in her charming books about rural life in the small, fictional village called Thrush Green. In her Thrush Green collection, coltsfoot is a favorite herb in a concoction brewed by the eccentric herbalist, Dotty Harmer. The herb is native to England and Scotland, in grasslands and wastelands. It flowers in early spring and is one of the most popular ingredients in cough remedies. It’s generally given together with other herbs possessing soothing respiratory qualities, such as horehound, marshmallow, and ground ivy. Coltsfoot tea and coltsfoot rock, a confectionery product created from Coltsfoot extract, has long been a remedy for coughs.

(Owl Cat in one of my garden beds with catnip)

In A Modern Herbal Ms. Grieve says, “The botanical name, Tussilago, translates to ‘cough dispeller.’ Coltsfoot has been called ‘nature’s best herb for the lungs and her most eminent thoracic.’ Dioscorides, Galen, Pliny, Boyle, and other great authorities recommend the smoking of the leaves for a cough. Pliny recommended the use of both roots and leaves.”

Ms. Grieve goes on to say coltsfoot leaves are dominant in the medicinal blend called British Herb Tobacco. Other ingredients include: Buckbean, Eyebright, Betony, Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender, and Chamomile flowers. This herbal tobacco is reputed to relieve asthma and chronic bronchitis. She adds, “A decoction of coltsfoot is made of 1 OZ. of leaves, in 1 quart of water boiled down to a pint, sweetened with honey or liquorice, and taken frequently in teacupful doses for both colds and asthma.”

Liquorice has been cultivated in England since 1562, mentioned in Turner’s Herbal, and was popular by the time of Queen Elizabeth. But the plant, native to Southeast Europe and Southwest Asia, has an ancient history of use elsewhere. An extract of the root is made into a syrup, or administered in a powdered form. The most notable use for liquorice is in flavoring and candy, also a sought after remedy for soothing coughs, chest congestion, and the bladder and bowel. I take a powdered extract of the root in hot milk with a few drops of vanilla and a pinch of sugar.

This post is an excerpt from my herbal, Plants for A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles, available  in print and kindle at Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Plants-Medieval-Garden-British-Isles-ebook/dp/B00IOGHYVU/

Nonfiction Herbal

An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales.

Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.

‘The Darling Buds of May’


2Flowering Crab

As a child growing up during the 19th century, or so it sometimes seems, I remember placing baskets of flowers as a surprise on friend’s doorstep early on a lovely May Day morn. Also, dancing around the May Poll festivities in which, not I, but my younger brother and sister both participated. The little girls with garlands in their hair, decked out in pretty spring dresses. Mom made my sister’s. One year the wind toppled the May Poll and then there’s the time the children got all wound up in the ribbons and over it went.  Humiliating for my young brother who’d practiced so hard and tried to no avail to instruct his fellow dancers to wind them properly. I never did trust that May Poll thing to go as planned and hoped to be crowned May Queen, surrounded by a glad assembly of courtiers. No such luck. But May Day was special and has strong flowery associations in my memory. And wind. It never entered anyone’s mind that this revelry had possible pagan connotations. May Day festivities were simply a spring rite and good fun. (*Flowering crab apple tree in our yard)

How about the rest of you? Any May Queens among us?


“May 1st, often called May Day, just might have more holidays than any other day of the year. It’s a celebration of Spring. It’s a day of political protests. It’s a neopagan festival, a saint’s feast day, and a day for organized labor. In many countries, it is a national holiday. (Royalty free image of birch tree)

Beltane

Celtic calendar feast ushering in the start of summer. (It also went by a variety of other spellings and names in assorted dialects of Gaelic.)

Bonfires, often created by rubbing sticks together, were common features of Beltane celebrations. Related rituals included driving cattle between two fires, dancing around the fires, and burning witches in effigy. Another tradition was Beltane cakes, which would be broken into several pieces, one of which was blackened. They would be drawn by celebrants at random; the person getting the unlucky blackened piece would face a mock execution.

In recent years, Beltaine has been adopted or revived by neopagan groups as a major seasonal festival.

Bringing in the May: *This is more what I remember.  🙂

In medieval England, people celebrated the start of spring by going out to the country or woods “going a-maying” and gathering greenery and flowers, or “bringing in the may.” This was described in “The Court of Love” (often attributed to Chaucer, but not actually written by him) in 1561. Totally irrelevant, but I am a direct descendant of Chaucer on my father’s side.

(Iris and poppies image by my mom)

“And furth goth all the Court, both most and lest,
To feche the floures fressh, and braunche and blome;
And namly, hawthorn brought both page and grome.
With fressh garlandes, partie blewe and whyte,
And thaim rejoysen in their greet delyt.”

Another English tradition is the maypole. Some towns had permanent maypoles that would stay up all year; others put up a new one each May. In any event, the pole would be hung with greenery and ribbons, brightly painted, and otherwise decorated, and served as a central point for the festivities.

May Day was also a time for morris dancing and other dances, often around the maypole. In the 19th century, people began to braid the maypole with ribbons by weaving in and out in the course of a dance. Other later traditions include making garlands for children and the crowning of the May Queen.”

From an interesting site: Herbal Musings

Beltain, Bealtaine, Beltine, May Day, Cetsamhain (‘first Samhain‘), Walpurgis Night (Beltane Eve), Celtic ‘Flower Festival’

Druidic Name: Beltane

archangel-michael, old stained glass windowChristian Equivalent

Roodmas, Rood Day, Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, Feast of Saint Walpurga

Beltane is the cross-quarter festival that marks the start of the summer quarter of the year and the end of the spring quarter. This is a time when nature blossoms and felicity and fertility return to the land. In times past, the livestock stockaded at Samhain was returned to summer pastures at Beltane.

…a joyful festival of growth and fecundity that heralds the arrival of summer. It is the festival of the ‘Good Fire’ or ‘Bel-fire’, named after the solar deity Bel. Bel was also known as Beli or Bile in Ireland, with Bile meaning ‘tree’, so Beltane may also mean ‘Tree-fire’. Beltane is the counterpart of Samhain (and is sometimes referred to as Cetsamhain, the ‘first Samhain’), and these two important festivals divide the year into summer and winter halves, just as the two equinoctial celebrations, Ostara and Mabon, divide the year into light and dark halves.

Lighting fires was customary at Beltane, and traditionally a Beltane fire was composed of the nine sacred woods of the Celts. All hearth fires were extinguished on Beltane Eve and then kindled again from the sacred “need fires” lit on Beltane. People would leap through the smoke and flames of Beltane fires and cattle were driven through them for purification, fertility, prosperity and protection.

AngelicaIt is a traditional time for Handfastings (marriages), and for couples to make love outside to bless the crops and the earth. Maypoles were often danced around at Beltane to bring fertility and good fortune. Beltane lore also includes washing in May-day dew for beauty and health, and scrying (peeping) in sacred waters, such as ponds or springs.

The festival is sometimes referred to as Roodmas, a name coined by the medieval Christian Church in an attempt to associate Beltane with the Cross (the Rood) rather than the life-giving symbol of the Maypole. Beltane was also appropriated by the Church as the Feast Day of Saint Walpurga, who was said to protect crops and was often represented with corn.”

(*Royalty free images of the Archangel Michael and the sacred herb Angelica)