Monday, June 30, 2014

Blog Tour Trifecta

Last week Patti at Magnolia Cottage invited me to participate in her blog tour. She featured my blog among two others on her post, and today it’s my turn to spread the goodwill. 

Here’s the format: share three blogs I love, briefly introduce myself by answering four questions, share a photo or two, and invite the people whose blogs I feature to repeat the process in a week. Each tour runs from Monday to Monday. The goal? Simply to introduce a few blogs to promote their discovery and your delight.

However I must confess I don’t follow rules terribly well and today is no exception. You see, as difficult as it was to narrow my choices to three blogs, it was impossible to find three bloggers willing to take part! Time and circumstance allowed me to send my plea far and wide, but one blogger is on holiday in Europe with intermittent Internet, another had to travel and declined Friday evening, two others had been featured too recently, and finally one is hosting several visitors from Japan and is simply too busy. However, the two I am inviting you to tour offer a variety of posts and are packed with great photos.

The other confession is that I’m going to keep the question and answer part of this very short (compared to several tours I viewed in apprehension preparation of this post. You can always visit my blog to learn more about me if you like. Without further ado, I urge you to visit the following blogs, if you haven’t already done so: 

Elephant's ChildIs a gem from down under. EC’s photography gives us a glimpse of Nature in Canberra, Australia. Although she classifies herself more as a reader than a writer, her writing shows a keen wit. Would it be impolite to share her latest rant: “I am wishing painful hemorrhoids on the blogger boffins who are neither fixing the problem nor talking to us…”?

EC’s posts sometimes include her two black rescue cats—Jazz and Jewel, and often reveal her “...passion for biographies/autobiographies/diaries and letters - but it doesn't stop there.” She writes great book reviews too. Next Monday EC's blog tour will include a more personal glimpse of the woman behind the swimming tiger (her gravitar).    

Spot on Cedar Pond—meet a shepherdess and wool crafter who spins yarn from her Jacob sheep (yes, it's for sale) and amuses readers with photographs and tales of other family members, including Hawk, the Visla; Blizzard the cat; hens and chicks; and Sebastopol geese. You might just wish you lived nearby!  

Q&A

1.  What am I working on?

My number one priority as a retiree is to strike a balance between keeping up with the mundane demands of daily living and ensuring my life is regret-free. For me this means seizing opportunities to garden; quilt; travel; nurture family; honor friendships; and naturally, to read, reflect, and write. Oh yeah, and market my memoir!
                                                  
2.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Perhaps the biggest difference is that I am not famous! Who wrote this question anyway?

Seriously, I could leave it at that, and you may wish that I had. It’s a tough question, one that nagged me all week. In the first place, what I think about my work is not necessarily what readers may think.

In the second place, I’m not even sure this question is applicable to memoir writers whose topic is life experiences—something as unique as their fingerprints. Although memoirists can be selective about the time span they cover as well as the specific events in that chosen period, and handle voice, tone, and all the literary devices they employ in creative ways, they simply don’t have the same latitude as fiction writers who make up characters and experiences.

What sets one memoirist apart from another for me boils down to their intent, or purpose for writing their life story, which in turn colors the tone of the book. My idea of an engaging author is one who reveals his or her thoughts and feelings in the scenarios shared in such a way that readers identify with them as the story unfolds. I’m less inclined to finish memoirs in which an author merely chronicles events (and not necessarily traumatic ones) without provoking thought as to their origin.

Examples of what I consider stellar memoirs are: Jeannette Walls’ Glass Castle and Catherine Gildener’s two memoirs, Too Close to the Falls and After the Falls (I can’t wait to read her third, Coming Ashore). They come from very different backgrounds and they both humble me with their ability to pull me into their thoughts.
                                                                       
3.  Why do I write/create what I do?

I didn’t start out with the intention of writing a memoir, or a blog for that matter. As to the memoir, at first it was my way to capture childhood memories; if my longing to know more about my ancestors was any indication, I thought my son might someday appreciate my stories. But a funny thing happened during this casual approach: I realized that certain memories were tenacious beyond explanation. Curiosity is what hooked me into exploring why this might be so. Now I find myself encouraging others to write their life stories.

As for blogging? It bridges the gap between the solitary act of writing and intermittent urges to socialize. I enjoy connecting with like-minded people and sharing their virtual smorgasbord of talent.

4.  How does your writing/creating process work?

Usually some memory or encounter—with Nature, art, or a person—pleases or puzzles me and sparks exploration through writing. Sometimes I enjoy sharing the results.

Today’s photos mirror my purpose for writing, which is to reflect.

The first photo is of a large watercolor that is in our reading nook, one that inspires me to contemplate often, usually when I ought to be doing chores. Although it depicts an autumn scene, it offers food for thought year round.


Reflections, by Kirk Pedersen, 1985
Note: we are trying to contact the artist to ask what he titled this piece)
  
The second photo is courtesy of a brilliant gentleman, Elliot Fenander, who graciously agreed I could post it. Mr. Fenander taught some scintillating English classes at my high school, and if it weren't for Facebook, I may not have reconnected with him. His photography is first rate.



Reflection, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, July 2010
Photograph courtesy of Elliot Fenander

I hope you've enjoyed my reflections on writing, I won't make predictions, but I feel as though I've hit a blogosphere trifecta, even though just two bloggers agreed to participate. I hope you'll check them out next week. 

Thanks again to Patti, at Magnolia Cottage for sending you to my blog. 

Happy blog tour Monday.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Backyard Visitors

How fortunate I am to spend a lazy day
Looking out across my gardens, trees and shrubs.
We planted these to maximize their attributes 
From every vantage point inside or out:
Their scent and shape, bloom and texture, what winged ones seek.

Today—a tranquil Sunday—is perfumed with pine,
The residue of laying mulch delights me still!
A grosbeak flits behind my back; I turn in time
To see him give his mate first dibs at our feeder,
Full this morning, but now below the half-way mark. 

Skittish with me so close by, his red breast flashes;
A black and white whirly-gig, he speeds across the yard.
His plain brown mate, more trusting, takes a seed or two
And coasts downwind to quench her thirst from one of two
Small pools as if to say: “Men can be rude, you know!”

Dueling hummingbirds protect their turf mightily.
Are they mad at me for feeding them a nectar
More dilute than early spring, or do they notice?
How blessed I am with time enough to watch my guests
Eat, drink, and frolic through my garden greenery. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

And the winner is...

Hi Everyone,

When I was growing up, I was fascinated by new kids coming to my school. How lucky I thought they were to make a whole new set of friends. From their point of view, as shared in person and through memoirs, I realize they didn't look at it quite the same way. 

The reason I got thinking about this is because as a newcomer to the blogging community, I was plunged into the unknown. The trepidation of those new kids on the block suddenly became real for me. Sending your ideas and feelings to people you don't know, people who likely live in places you've never seen and may never live to see, is a bit like introducing yourself to a whole new school of potential friends. No wonder I feel like a little fish in a big sea. 

Which brings me to the point of this blog: I'd like to thank everyone who participated in the drawing for my memoir. This really means thanking you for joining my blog, sharing your time, your thoughts, your good wishes, oh, and some of your followers too! 

Enough of that. Let's draw a name from the basket.




Hubby is mixing up those entries right on cue.



Oh drats! I need a little favor: I'm to feature three blogs on Monday's blog tour...I have a green light from two out of six I've invited. I'm running out of ideas and time to contact people only to learn they've just recently participated in a tour....so, if you are interested, please post a comment and I'll get in touch. No work on your end until 7 July. It's easy, honest. And now...

...Drum roll, please!

And the winner is:  ***Elephant's Child!***  Congratulations! Please email your mailing address (fiberfurnishings@gmail.com) and I'll send your book right out

Happy Friday!









Thursday, June 26, 2014

Recovery Thursday - and Book Club Opinions

Hi Everyone,

First, I'd like to thank you for your interest in my drawing...Hubs will pull a name out of a basket tonight, so be sure to check tomorrow to see if I need your mailing address.

Quick blog today. I'm recovering from a nasty little virus that struck after dinner last night. Hubby is plying me with lots of tea, lucky me. 

My book club meets tonight, and I'd like to go on record with my opinion on our selection before I get those mixed feelings after hearing everyone else's reaction. 

Why I Left the Amish
   by Saloma Furlong Miller

A few early rumblings indicate some members felt this book wasn't as lively a read as they'd hoped. I somewhat agree with that, but for me, the substance outweighs that issue. Also, readers must remember, this author was raised by an Amish family. It doesn't get much plainer than that. Saloma's father was mentally ill and that certainly added an unexpected dimension to the book. 

My over all impression follows (not even close to a book review, but still.)
  • Well written. Author's strength of character makes this a worthwhile read (at times the story is a bit drawn out and stiff, similar but to a lesser degree than the style in Juliane Koepcke’s memoir, When I Fell from the Sky.) If I could pick a sister, I'd definitely pick Saloma!
  • Candid look at what Saloma experienced growing up in an Amish family domineered by a mentally ill father. It is clear from the start that she leaves her family and community, but her tale is one of unusual fortitude in the face of controlling forces and abusive relatives. Sometimes I was afraid to continue reading because I feared what terrible treatment could befall her next….
  • The other striking aspect of this book is that Saloma's individuality, character, spark, and curiosity all shine through as she takes the reader back through her harrowing childhood. Although at times her certainty wanes—that to be outside the oppressive Amish customs her parents adhere to will surely resonate with her heart and soul—her steady path toward escape is inevitable. 
  • Her last chapter ends with  this quote, which I think is indicative of Saloma's inner strength:  "When you do things from your soul you feel a river moving in you, a joy."                                                                                                                                          —Rumi

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Superman's Dirty Laundry

Over thirty years ago, my young son and I lived in an apartment complex where we enjoyed some colorful neighbors. I was among the minority of clothesline devotees, even if mine was one of those square spinning types designed for miniature yards. Too bad the only place for it was in front of my kitchen window.

One hot summer day there came a knock at my kitchen door. On answering it, the older man standing there surprised me just short of alarm. After all, I recognized him as the neighbor who parked an over-sized flashy red convertible in the primo slot just around the corner, but we’d never spoken. Despite his short stocky stature, he had an unmistakable alpha male swagger—the sort of man I went out of my way to avoid. 

Thank goodness I kept my screen door locked, I thought, after his seemingly innocent opening question. Would I be using my clothesline that day, he wanted to know. Well-versed in the story of big bad wolves, I instantly took him as some pervert plotting to watch me bend over my clothes basket. Like an idiot, I didn't realize he was long past that point (as if my false sense of security at having a locked screen door weren't bad enough)! He went on to say how he loved the fresh scent of line-dried laundry, and that he wondered if he could use my clothesline once in awhile, that is, when I didn't need it.

Admittedly, his request seemed harmless enough; and after all, who didn’t like the scent of line-dried laundry? So I told him my clothesline would be free for him to use after lunch. Later that afternoon I peeked out to see if he had indeed hung any clothes. Wow, he sure had. One item.

It dangled there for the whole neighborhood to wonder about, too. It was such an enormous jock strap that its purpose defied imagination. I wanted to die. I bolted all of my doors and busied myself upstairs where I could keep an eye on things from a window.

What was he thinking? Or should I ask: How naïve was I? Did he figure his undergarment would induce me to tango right over to his place, carrying it in my teeth or something? Mercifully, by late afternoon it was gone, without so much as a word. Even more mercifully, we never crossed paths again and the only wash to ever hang on that clothesline was my own. I kept a close eye on his car after that too, and that’s when I noticed the odd jumble of letters on his vanity license plates: ITLN – STLN. I get it now: it was shorthand for Italian Stallion—quite a stretch, if you ask me. 

Has anything like this ever happened to you?

REMEMBER: The drawing to win a copy of my memoir ends tomorrow, Thursday, 26 June. 
Details are in my post titled: "Win a hard cover version of my memoir!"
Send your friends over too. Or not.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"The Day the Falls Stood Still"

Today I’m sharing a blurb I wrote for The Day the Falls Stood Still, a novel written by Cathy Marie Buchanan. Even if you prefer non-fiction as I do, perhaps my impression will nudge you to read this book, if you haven't already, of course. 

Set in Niagara Falls—one of the most magical places on earth (at least among those I've visited), this novel will not let you rest….until you finish it! It is a powerful story of the love, faith, and coming of age of Bess Heath, who at seventeen faces the reality of being overshadowed by her sister’s beauty and popularity, her father’s dismissal as Niagara Power Company’s director, her family’s subsequent slide from high society, and her inexplicable attraction to a young man considered beneath her in every aspect.

I love the way Buchanan weaves actual newspaper clippings of the era into the novel, about a particular legendary figure, who, perhaps, plays the larger role (saying more might spoil the mystique). While such interweaving of news informs us of the historical magnetism of Niagara Falls, Buchanan masterfully bridges that reality to otherworldly powers of uncanny prescience.

What amazes me is Buchanan’s ability to build suspense as she depicts her characters’ thoughts, beliefs, and actions in such a clear and endearing manner that I recognized them as people I might have known. Nature—human and otherwise—will grip you to the end of this tale.

What book sweeps you away, and why?

REMEMBER: The drawing to win a copy of my memoir ends on Thursday, 26 June. 
Details are in Saturday's post: "Win a hard cover version of my memoir!"
Send your friends over too.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Course correction

Hi Everyone,

Yard game answers from yesterday's post: 
   1.) yard sale
   2.) yard-o-led (from Fahrney's)
   3.) yard stick
   4.) yard arm
   5.) yard bird

Thanks for your replies and for being such good sports. It goes to show you that not every day is a good blog day! From now on though, I'll be sticking to my usual fare: gardens, tea, and those people and things that mean the most to me! 

Exactly three months ago today we were shivering up here in New England, wondering if spring would ever arrive. Icicles drizzled from our water feature....hard to believe, isn't it?


From this (March 22, 2014):
To this:

What are you doing to enjoy your first week of summer (or whichever season it is where you live)?

REMEMBER: The drawing to win a copy of my memoir ends on Thursday, 26 June. 
Details are in Saturday's post: "Win a hard cover version of my memoir!"

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Yard Game

Summer Solstice arrived yesterday! With all the focus on tidying up our yard for summer enjoyment, the very word took on a life of its own, playing games in my head. (Too much tea perhaps?)

As quickly as I thought of the word yard, several words snapped themselves to it, like the set of hematite stones I bought whose sole purpose is to seek magnetic pairings (kind of like the weirdos often do in ball-room dance class). 

If you like word games, you might enjoy today's question. Here are five photos, each of which captures a word that can be modified by the word yard for a whole new meaning. How many can you identify?

As a general hint, the number of letters in each missing word is indicated by underlines below each photo. I’ll give you one more hint for (#2) since I think it's the most difficult, unless you are a pen aficionado; until we bought it at a (#1) on Friday—for a fraction of its value—I had no idea these existed! The boldfaced word is your clue.

#1.  Yard - _ _ _ _


#2.  Yard - _ - _ _ _  


#3.  Yard - _ _ _ _ _


#4.  Yard - _ _ _ 


#5.  Yard - _ _ _ _

Answers tomorrow!

Drawing to win a copy of my memoir ends on Thursday, 26 June. 
Details are in yesterday's post: 
"Win a hard cover version of my memoir!"

Friday, June 20, 2014

Win a hard cover version of my memoir!

Hi everyone,

Next Friday, June 27, happens to be my birthday and if you'll help me celebrate, I'll enter your name to win a beautifully-bound hardcover edition of my memoir...that's right my birthday present to you! It's my way of saying I'm enjoying getting to know you. 


To help me celebrate there are two simple things I'm asking:


1.)  Be sure you show up as a follower of my blog (musingwithmytea.blogspot.com)

2.)  Leave me a comment on any of my blogs between now and next Thursday indicating you'd like to win this free copy of my memoir; something as simple as "Count me in your memoir drawing" will work. Although I welcome your comments daily, entries are limited to one per person.

The party begins now and ends Thursday at midnight (EST), June 26thand  I'll announce the lucky winner's name on Friday, June 27th. I'll ship the book as soon as I receive the winner's mailing address. 


A little bit about my book


Water's Edge: Growing Up in the Heart of a New England Village retails for $25.99. Edited and published by Modern Memoirs, Inc of Amherst, Massachusetts in the fall of 2013, it's 273 pages, and the ISBN is 978-0-9856595-3-0


Water's Edge:
Growing Up in the Heart of New England, 
dust jacket

What readers have written about Water's Edge


Water's Edge is a beautifully written, touching story of a young girl's journey through childhood, seeking to find her place in the world. The richness of detail and description brings every character and place to life; grandparents, parents, brother, cousins, aunts and uncles are woven into the tapestry of Vickie Newman's young life creating a memorable legacy. This is truly a triumphant story of coming-of-age.”  Carolyn LeComte, author


"I have laughed, wept, sat in amazement at the brilliant thought, the expressions of compassion, the 'lessons' you put across with such subtlety. I am waiting for your next book and want screen rights to this one. I am sure it is every bit worthy of Oprah and the NYT's bestseller list. I think it is absolutely wonderful.

I tried to honestly ask myself if I was reacting as your friend, or as a fellow small town Berkshire girl, or one who grew up in the fifties, or as someone who grew up in a town with Italian immigrants, married into an Italian family, or the problems with my mother. I decided it was all of that, but the ideas and lyrical, poetic way you have of expressing very complicated human problems would touch a great many people. Something about your way of saying things kept me chuckling, smiling, nodding in agreement. With line after line, I would have an association to something in my own childhood life....hospital corners, laundry routines, vacation experiences, embarrassments in public, Larry Aiken shooting his BB gun at me in my sandbox and eventually being sent to reform school.....on and on."  Florence Peltier


"Your memoir is so eloquently written - a true gift! Thank you for sharing your talent to record and share your family story in such carefully researched and scholarly presentation, yet so engaging.”  Ute Goldkuhle





A Memorable Thank-you Note

I love people with a sense of humor. So, at the risk of making you chuckle, I have to share this note we received in today's mail. 


I think it would be fun to copy this idea the next time I send a thank-you note, maybe even add a few reasons to the list.

Of course, it might be prudent to first consider the recipient's sense of humor.

Would a similar note make you laugh?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Lavender

Hi Everyone, 

I don't recall when my love affair with lavender started. Perhaps the first hint is found in a happy memory from decades ago. The week after I made my First Holy Communion, my mother asked what color I wanted her to dye my simple but lovely dress--a cotton sateen, I think--hand-tailored by a kind woman in our village. "Lavender," I immediately replied. 

We didn't grow lavender in our gardens nor do I recall any elderly ladies wearing woolens scented with it, as some of my own sweaters are now! Somehow I'd latched onto the mystique of lavender though. Considering I was drawn to the color itself in first grade, it's no surprise I grow it in my gardens, despite our acid soil. Or try to grow it. 

Through milder years, I've harvested up to 16 plants twice a season. It's true I fed them lots of lime, but I had to be careful that neighboring plants keep their distance. And what good is it if you can't plant something that flowers in brilliant reds to complement the lavender, like this beautiful begonia?


What color pairings do you enjoy - indoors or out?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Zen and the Art of Garden Maintenance

Repeat after me: I enjoy my gardens in all their glory, faded or otherwise. Though I cannot help add that I love them most when they are tidied. What I really love is being outside and nurturing each of our garden denizens as best as I can. 

Several irises have gone by, including my dearest "Among Friends," and we all know what that means in terms of maintenance...but how I love their lush leaves. 

Haircuts are in order for several specimen trees too. Specifically the center tree in the grouping by our front door, which is a Weeping Larch, nick-named "Cousin It" from his likeness to the character on the Addams' Family show. Believe it or not, "It's" S-shaped trunk is a knockout when it isn't hidden beneath all those branches. More maintenance.

Welcome to our home!


View looking out our front door


Here's another fellow in need of a trim: our Weeping Cyprus. His nick-name is "Curly," not just because of his curly trunk either. No: beware or he'll poke your eyes out, just like his namesake of Three Stooges fame. 

Weeping Cyprus threatens intruders


Well, that's enough about maintenance. Time to put my money where my mouth is!

What do you love most about the outdoors?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lazy afternoon

Hi everyone,

It's 82 degrees (F) in the shade, so I'm brewing myself some iced tea. When I'm done writing, I'll snip some renegade mint from the old vegetable garden and relax (some more).

Caught a stomach bug that woke me in the wee hours of Monday morning, but am much better now. Maybe I overdid it with the garden chores last week!

Today I'm sharing a few garden photos. I'm still getting used to my tablet as a camera, so there's room for improvement in the photography department. As we finish the various beds, I'll post more photos.

Here's a look at our Japanese-inspired garden, which is still in the reclamation phase from a year of neglect and winter. It has three tiers, bordered mainly in Goshen stone (named for a nearby hill-town where it is abundant). The steps to the left are from stones unearthed from the hill above us.On the right are Goshen stone stiles, which swirl around the perimeter in ever-increasing height; these make it easy to climb the steep hill and tend to the water feature up there.



Full view

Close-up, left side and stone steps

Tim's newest dwarf conifer,
foreground

Home-brewed iced tea with mint and lemon

I once knew a person who designed his garden with plants selected on the basis of their name: he chose plants according to their initial letters in alphabetical order! It took him a few years to get from A to Z. I am challenged enough to group plant textures and heights in a pleasing way while considering soil and sunlight requirements! 

Do you favor any particular approach to designing your garden (color scheme, native plants, and so forth)?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Missing Dad on Father's Day

My memories of my father were foremost in my mind today. I loved Dad with all my heart, imperfections and all. He died in 2001 and I miss him every day. 

At this time of year, I picture him smiling at my love of gardening. Dad grew big vegetable gardens, but also loved growing lupine. He loved feeding the hummingbirds too, as I now do. It's those little things I miss, like picking blueberries together, or taking him out to dinner.

Recently a classmate from grammar school told me her husband, Bob, worked with my Dad for years. I never realized that! And I cried when Bob said how much he liked my Dad, and that he was grateful for Dad's help on the job. He said that Dad was “one of the guys,” a self-appointed mentor to the next generation of tool-makers, despite the managers who tried to make their shift miserable. 

It's lovely to hear good things about someone you love, isn't it?




Saturday, June 14, 2014

Gratitude

Hi everyone,

Today's blog is a short note to say how grateful I am. I'm grateful for my husband, son, dog, health, gardens, home, friends, and my life. Even the partly misty and partly rainy weather made me happy because it's so much easier for me than gardening in the sun. And I'm sincerely grateful for meeting you all through blogging...thanks for stopping by.

It's just sinking in that we traveled to Italy in April. My husband always says that travels are more enjoyable once you're back home. I think he may be right!

Here is a lovely table we bought while there; we loved its sunny lemon theme! Every time I look at it, I smile.



Lava stone table we bought on the Amalfi Coast


What are you grateful for today?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Grass looks greener in my sewing room!

Hi everyone,

For too long I've been on hiatus from sewing as well as gardening. That's why I'm posting these photos of my chicken pin-cushions: to encourage me to get through today's outdoor work chores. 

Chicken pincushion in batik cottons


Chicken conference

And right about now, I'd love nothing more than to be sewing. Plus, I feel badly about skipping a blog yesterday but you see, the gardens needed me. Desperately. I abandoned them last year, though I was perfectly healthy. I just took a wrong turn on the retirement road. I'll call it Volunteer Street! 

It all started with a quilt I made that I thought could earn a lot of raffle money for our community college's annual orchid show. Last April my quilt was done, and so, I thought, was my involvement! Of course the Orchid Show Committee urged me to join. Next thing I knew, I was rounding up speakers (orchid experts, authors, and biologists), curating an exhibit of 100-year-old pressed orchid specimens, soliciting for auction donations, exhibiting my quilt around the county and selling tickets. I could go on....but I won't. Lesson learned: be careful when you veer toward Volunteer Street.

Anyway, it cost us a summer of no garden maintenance and those sneaky weeds took advantage! Yesterday's garden antics involved a version of musical chairs that my husband and I dubbed "musical shrubs and trees." Our Western Massachusetts winter was cruel, and we lost several specimens. It didn't help that I mistook the Weigelia my husband suggested be moved into a lower garden....I dug up the wrong one! Had to dig another spot for that one as there was no point in returning it to its former home, now hidden by an ever-growing Japanese Maple. 

Two more evergreen shrubs had to be dug up and brought to the humus pile. We'd already eliminated two in May. Tim reduced our departed Redbud to a 4-foot trunk, which is held hostage by a mob of late-blooming irises around its base: only after they peak, can we can move them temporarily in order to excavate Redbud's rotten rootball. Whew, I'm tired all over again! And I still have to dig in the lilac I moved to make way for the lovely red-flowering Weigelia that my husband meant to be moved in the first place! To dig in the lilac, though, I first must clear a spot in the former garden plot, which looks like, well, an embarrassment. Ha! And just try getting a patch of grass repaired....gardening is not for wimps!

Now you know why the grass looks greener in my sewing room!

I wonder, do any of you ever feel like you took a wrong turn?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

So many books, so little time!

Unfortunately, my husband and I got a late start on our garden cleanup projects (after lunch). Although we braved a light rain, we finally surrendered to a downpour within the hour. That’s when I decided to touch base with my blogging buddies.

What I’d really like to do is to curl up and finish my current book: And the Dark Sacred Night, by Julia Glass, or even start my book club selection: Why I Left the Amish, by Saloma Miller Furlong. However, there are indoor chores that have fallen a bit behind during our recent push to tidy up our gardens, so I must be brief today.

A Doxie bookmark I made for my husband

I’m also reading Appearances, A Journey of Self-Discovery, which is a memoir by Renee Alter, whom I “met” in my online book-marketing challenge. We swapped files in exchange for reviews. That reminds me: I am looking for additional reviews of my memoir–even though it’s published already as a hardcover. For the simple price of your honest review, I can send you a .pdf file of Water's Edge: Growing Up in the Heart of a New England Village. Please email: VickieNewmanBooks.com.

 On my reading table

At the same online course, I discovered another memoir: Souled Out, by Viet Nam veteran Michael Orban. In fact, I’m trying to connect him with the right people at the Minneapolis Veteran’s Hospital, through my brother-in-law (a Physical Therapist there), to see if they are interested in buying Michael’s story. I hope you’ll offer up a little prayer with me that Michael increases his readership, with this lead! I can’t think of a more deserving author.


My tea is done and I must run….but only after I ask:

What’s on your reading table or wish list? 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Teacup Tuesday

It’s a bit late, I know, but it’s still Tuesday! I’m drinking a hot cup of Lapsang souchong as I write.

We order lots of tea from Upton Tea Imports; they’re located in Holliston, Massachusetts, but we shop online at www.uptontea.com (no we don’t get paid for referrals!). My husband discovered them years ago and we’ve stuck with them for three reasons. First, their tea is superb; second, their service is top-notch: they nearly always deliver within two days; and third, they let you personalize each tea bag or tin with a sticker on which they print your message.

Our friends have enjoyed various gifts of these teas especially because of this feature, which allows my husband to exercise his humor. 

Can you see the labels on these examples?

My husband, Tim, ordered these. I especially love how he customized the label on the middle packet, which is an East Frisian Blend; it reads: “Riddle of the Sands.” His inspiration? Erskine Childers’ 1903 espionage novel of the same name, which takes place in the Frisian Islands of Germany. He labeled his Summer Tea Blend in the spirit of the season: “Dr. T., King of the Weber,” since he is our grill-meister. You get the idea.  

Oh and here’s a bonus: typically, Upton slips a free sample into each order!

Who is your favorite tea supplier?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mondays seem so full of promise, don't they?

It’s Monday. Maybe because I’m retired, Mondays are mostly quiet, a bit of a break from the flurry of activity weekends usually bring. It’s a great day to map out my week so I can be ready for a bit of entertaining next Saturday...nothing big, but still, I want everything sparkling and tidy. Ok, maybe tidy will have to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it to sparkle too, it’s just that I can’t envision getting it all done because I ache from weeding and mulching and the thought of so much more left to do. Sometimes I wonder if I really look like a tortoise as I plod and crawl across each garden, tugging a straggling weed here or preening a plant there, shaking out mulch stuck between leaf and stem. I sure seem to move like one. I'm oh-so-grateful that Tim and my son, Alan, spent the day with me Saturday concentrating on this daunting chore.

Perhaps next year our schedule—and Mother Nature’s too—will be more conducive to early mulching chores, so we can finish long before our perennials sprout. You see, we traveled to Sorrento, Italy in April this year. It was worth the slip in our garden maintenance, of course, but we’re paying the price now with weeds run amok. That’s why this morning I’m drinking Lapsang souchong tea: its smoky, hearty flavor seems to promise extra strength for the gardening tasks that await. Ever try it?


Note to self: Hurry and finish essential gardening chores: quilting projects await!

This is an appliquéd frog square from the “Infrognito” quilt I made and donated to our community
college raffle (2013). 
It's also my “Inspiration” to begin another for Tim, who really wanted that one; 
but that, my friends, is a story for another day.

Do you sew or quilt?