Because everybody loves a makeover

OR what I’ve been doing other than blogging.


If you’re thinking to yourself, wow, that’s a lot of pink landscaping rock, well, you’d be right. It’s pink landscaping rock my daughter and I decided to remove by hand.

I’ll pause while you laugh.

Also, if you’re thinking pink rocks are the glitter of the landscaping world (we’re never getting rid of all of them), you’d be right as well.

I suppose the pink combined with the green hostas was a design aesthetic for a hot minute sometime in 1988. Mind you, the design and the rocks came with the house.


I mean, clearly, we have nothing against pink. And sure, we could divide those hostas. They’re like super-hostas. They’ve been going strong for years decades without any intervention. At this point, I’m a little superstitious about doing anything with them.

Honestly, I think they’ll just continue to grow, become sentient, and take over the world. And really, we might all be better for it.

Timelapse of the project


Filed under Gardening

Of writing tears and garden friends

So, I’ve been on a patented Jo March writing tear (I really need to get a writing cap like Jo has). This is on the new book (series, duology—your guess is as good as mine) I mentioned a while back.

It is coming along, which is all I’m going to say at this point in the project.

Mattie and Oscar helping in the garden.

In other (wonderful) news: Spring. Has. Sprung.

We are planting, haphazardly, it’s true. Despite taking the master gardening course, I will most likely remain a haphazard gardener.

So, yes, that’s an entire flat of zinnias you see. No, I have no idea where I’m going to plant an entire flat of zinnias. It’s true our eyes are much bigger than our garden space.

Toad resting beneath an eggplant.
Squirrel despondent since I replaced the birdseed feeder with the hummingbird one.


Filed under Writing

March: out like a lamb, an angry, angry lamb

The last day of March went something like this:

Lightning, thunder, rain, sleet, hail, snow, BLIZZARD.

Yes, an angry, angry lamb.

Angry lamb in blizzard generated from DALL·E

Then, yesterday, we had this:

Those lumps and stakes on the right? Those would be my raised beds, assuming they weren’t under another foot of snow. So, April Fools on us.

In other news, I might be writing a bit. Don’t want to say too much about it. Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what it is quite yet. One big book? A duology? A series? Your guess is as good as mine. (No, really. At this point, it is.)

But I suppose the snow is an excellent excuse to stay inside and read and write, no?

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Filed under Writing

This winter: so very taxing

So yes, I fell off the blogging bandwagon.

More accurately, I fell off the blogging bandwagon, hit the slush-covered gravel road, rolled into a ditch, and then low-crawled until I found an abandoned fox den, where I proceeded to curl up and hibernate.

Just kidding. I didn’t actually hibernate.

Because neither does my new friend.

This little one has been hanging around our back deck, probably because that’s where the birdfeeders are.

He/she is highly skilled at finding everything the chickadees and squirrels leave behind.

And since opossums also eat ticks, I’m hoping this one sticks around for summer.

In other news, I have a drabble (a story that’s exactly 100 words, minus the title) in Issue 27 of Scribes*MICRO*Fiction. And They All Lived is not a fairy tale, but I think (hope) it’s a complete story.


Filed under Writing

Turn, Table, Turn

A few weeks back, I’d put in my earbuds and was planning on listening to a podcast while I cleaned the kitchen. Somehow (because, apparently, I don’t know how technology works), I loaded my old Apple Music library instead.

I hadn’t listened to these songs in ages, these relics from back in the days of my old iPod.

The first song made me smile. The next sparked a particular memory. The third was from a playlist I’d created for a long-ago novel. I kept listening even after I’d finished up with the kitchen.

And it struck me—hard. There’s a significant difference between a curated playlist and one generated by an algorithm.

So much so that a few days later, I went out and bought a turntable.

I’d been planning on doing this for a while, but I was hemming and hawing over what to buy. Then I found this little fellow:

It does everything. It plays records, CDs, FM radio. It even has a cassette tape deck. (Somewhere, I still have mix tapes.) And if I really want to, I can stream via Bluetooth. (And I might. See above re: Apple Music library.)

The sound is lovely, and its size is nice and compact. It now lives between the kitchen and the living area, so I can hear it while I’m cooking, then turn the volume down for reading in the evening.

Then I unearthed some actual records. We have more—somewhere—but these are the ones I’ve found so far. An eclectic mix, to be sure. These particular records belonged to my parents. Except for the Sesame Street one. Pretty sure that was mine.

After my surprise Apple Music encounter, I realized that I hadn’t been listening to music lately. I miss it. What I also miss is doing it myself. Streaming is fine (I guess). But sometimes, all you want to do is pull a record from the stack, blow off the dust, and hear the telltale scratch and hiss of the needle before the music plays.

Sometimes, you don’t need perfect.  

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Filed under music, Musings

Thoughts on Bloganuary 2023 (also, work is a bear)

I’m so glad I did the challenge. So, so glad. Granted, I didn’t do it exactly as prescribed. But going into it, I knew I wouldn’t be able to.

There’s a difference between writing in a journal and shaping your thoughts so others can understand them. Obviously, you don’t have to share everything. But working through the prompts brought clarity to my thinking. Far more than I expected.

I want to keep blogging in this manner. It’s fun. I’m enjoying it.

However, a blog post a day—or even a prompt a day—is not sustainable. I’ve had to set aside other writing, and other things, to do this challenge. And it’s not so much the writing part; it is the shaping, the proofing, and the posting that takes time.

Also, a post a day leaves me little time to comment on other blogs. Part of the reason I did the challenge was to get back into both blogging and connecting with other bloggers. I want to make a concerted effort to reach out and comment more often.

The other reason for my lack of time is that work is a bear.

Just for fun, I submitted work is a bear as a prompt for DALL·E.

This accurately illustrates how I feel at the end of the day. Really, our AI overlords know far, far too much.

I’m trying to adjust and create a schedule that includes blogging, writing, and other things. It may take a few tries. In fact, I know it will. Still, I plan to be here on the blog more often, and I’m looking forward to visiting other blogs regularly.

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Filed under bloganuary

Just step outside

Bloganuary: Where is the best place to watch the sunset near you?

This one is easy: our back deck.

True, we can’t see the horizon.

The property is surrounded by hills and trees.

The pond is covered with duckweed and doesn’t reflect the light.

Still, the way the sun filters through is amazing.

Granted, once the sun starts to sink, you don’t want to step down onto the grass—unless you’re fond of mosquitoes. But in the last couple of years, we’ve been deliberate about what we plant in containers we keep on the deck. If it has the slightest reputation for repelling mosquitoes, into a container it goes.

This works! Well, more or less. It’s a lot better than standing in the yard.

We also get some fairly excellent sunrises.

So despite not having a home for the vacuum, our house is a keeper.


Filed under bloganuary

The story of our lives

Bloganuary: What would you title the chapters of your autobiography?

I’m not sure I would write my autobiography. (Isn’t that what a blog is for?) But if I did write one, I do know this about the chapter titles:

Puns would be involved.

I love puns and plays on words. If you’ve read any of my Coffee and Ghosts episodes, you already know that. Of course, it often takes me a long, long time to think them up. This is the reason Coffee and Ghosts is called Coffee and Ghosts.

Initially, this was the working title for the series. But when it came time to publish, I kept spinning my wheels for a better title. At last, I kept the working one because, if nothing else, it’s accurate.

Silliness aside, I am noodling a memoir. I almost hesitate to mention it because this might not come to pass. Every time I inch closer, I take a step back. This might be because I’m not ready to write it. It might be because I know it’s going to hurt.

But here’s the thing. I want to explain how caring for my mom during the last six months of her life was like being at war. It was like seeing the elephant all over again. I want to explain—if only to myself—why these two things are linked. Because somehow, they are linked in my mind and my heart. Maybe, if I can explain the why and the how behind that, I can help someone else.

But for now? I’ll simply ponder it.


Filed under bloganuary, Writing

How does your garden grow?

Bloganuary: What is something you learned recently?

I’m only a few lessons into the Master Gardener course, but I’ve learned a lot:

  • Like how I can get a soil test from the University of Minnesota
  • Or how I should rotate the “crops” in my raised beds this spring
  • Or how to improve my compost pile—add water. But not now since everything—including the compost pile—is frozen solid
  • Or how I properly (and somewhat unintentionally) prepared my raised beds last year (I’m kind of proud of this one—I was winging it)

Each lesson has additional resources and links and downloads. There’s enough information to provide a framework, but not so much that it’s overwhelming. It’s a nice way to spend a couple of hours each Sunday.

I’m looking forward to spring for so many reasons, but I’m really excited to put this new knowledge into practice.


Filed under bloganuary

In which I ask our AI robot overlords to bake me a cake

Bloganuary: Describe your perfect birthday cake

Mmmm. Did someone say cake?

I love cake. My perfect birthday cake would involve chocolate (maybe white or dark) with raspberries. Or maybe white and dark chocolate with raspberries! And ganache. I love a ganache.

For fun, I ran various descriptions through DALL·E just to see what it would come up with.

The prompt I used was: a dark chocolate birthday cake with raspberries professional food photograph in the style of a bestselling cookbook.

Something isn’t quite right here. You know? I mean, it’s close, but it’s like DALL·E has never actually seen a cake and is winging it. Also, I’m not sure what those spikey things are in the bottom photograph, but they’re frightening.

So I changed the prompt to: a dark chocolate birthday cake with raspberries and happy ghosts professional food photograph in the style of a bestselling cookbook.

Ah, now this is a cake! Although I’m not sure why we’re celebrating my birthday in some sort of futurist prison.

So, I tried again.

Now that’s more like it! I think we have a winner. And you doubted the abilities of our AI overlords.


Filed under bloganuary