Tuesday, August 23, 2016


We sent Maggie to Heaven last month.  She had been sick for about a week.  In typical cat fashion, she hid the extent of her illness ... that's okay, because we did all that we could.

Maggie was our miracle kitty, the world's most expensive PetsMart cat, surviving two life-threatening conditions (Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia and Hodgkin's Lymphoma), and living an incredible life in the process.

Lounging on the screened porch, as a kitten.

Helping with laundry.

She ruled the other critters in our household with a velvet paw, gently (or not-so-gently) showing each cat and dog who was the boss.

Sleeping on Daniel's bed.

Taking over Ruby's crate.

"Excuse me, this is MY windowsill!"

Even Winnie little wasn't exempt.

She probably would have been happier as an only cat, since she was so people oriented, but she coexisted relatively peacefully with Alice and Dorothy (and with Cindy and Amy before them.)

Sharing space.

Poor Maggie wasn't used to Dorothy's type of snuggling.

Maggie loved her people most of all.  She was in the middle of everything, and a constant fixture in my or my husband's lap every evening.

I have come to accept that she's gone, no longer napping somewhere in a sunshine spot.

My favorite photo of her, with her personality on full display and her neck fur barely growing back after cancer surgery.

The last photo I took of her, on the way to the vet a few days before she died.

It's weird to be here without Maggie ... she was a huge presence in our family for 15 years.

Maggie.  2001 - 2016

Godspeed, Maggie.  Mama loves you.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I'm Still Here ... Just Not as Often Lately

Oh, my ... has it really been a full month since I posted here?  Where does the time go?

Spent some time away from home doing fun stuff ... a long weekend visiting my brother and sister-in-law at their place in SW Virginia ...

Photo of a very happy couple, during a visit to Bear Tree Lake.

... and another long weekend at a greyhound event in Wheeling, West Virginia.

These are nine-month-old pups who really wanted to snuggle.

These yearlings are the same pups that I met last year when they were four-days old.

(Photo with a puppy from last year)

Ruby and Winnie stayed with my parents while we were out of town ... it was their version of a summer vacation.

The cats ... they have been doing what cats do.

Dorothy loves her new cat basket, in the sunshine on the dining room windowsill.

I have been spending most of my early mornings in the garden.  The roses are recovering nicely from the annual onslaught of Japanese Beetles.  Their season appears to be over and the nasty critters are mostly gone now, thank goodness.

Mine Road Noisette

Indoor time has been spent doing things like canning quart after quart of farmers market tomatoes ...

... and in the basement workshop with projects.  This is a door from an antique corner cupboard that I am stripping to repaint.  I work on this a little at a time, when schedule permits.

I have mostly been concentrating on being home, decluttering and downsizing, and organizing what's left.  The pay off for this effort is a much lighter mental load, and a house that's getting a whole lot tidier.

This is a view of our family room from one morning last week, as seen from the dining room.  It's an angle that I don't think I have shown you before.

I have stopped posting to the Hartwood Roses Facebook page, and have switched to Instagram.  I'm getting the hang of it, with the hash-tags and stuff, and I find that I like the spontaneity of it.  It's fun to instantly share whatever I come across in the garden or am working on at the time, without some logarithm that limits who sees what.  Come on over and follow along, if you're inclined.

As you see, life is pretty much the same as it has always been ... I just haven't made time to write blog posts about it.  I still have lots of stuff to share, I just need to take the time to do it.  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Update on My Japanese Beetle Trap Hack

In THIS post last Thursday, I showed you that a raccoon was using the collection bags on my Japanese Beetle traps as a convenient source of snacks ... ruining the bags in the process.  I reworked the traps by replacing the plastic bag with a half-gallon milk jug.  

Is this new container catching beetles?

Mugging for the camera, as I was out with my trash bag to empty the beetle jugs.

Yes, it is ... just as well as the bag did, I think.  After two days in place, and each of my three traps was half full of beetles.  

What about the raccoon?

The game camera captured one raccoon photo last night, an action shot.  The little guy looks frustrated to me.  I see no damage to the trap ... so far.

Beetle season is definitely waning, as I'm finding fewer and fewer of them during my morning trips through the garden to hunt them out and drop them into my bucket of soapy water.  

I can't wait till they're gone.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Who's Tearing Up the Beetle Trap Bags?

When everything goes according to plan, Japanese Beetle trap bags look like this.  The scent/sex attractant lure draws the nasty critters toward the trap, and they fall into the bag ... by the thousands.

On numerous mornings over the last two weeks, I found the bags looking like this:

Something bit holes into the bottom of the bags, and the beetles were going in the top and out the bottom.  Solving this mystery involved my Bushnell trail camera, and some patience.  

July 5, 2016

July 5, 2016

July 9, 2016

July 9, 2016

July 13, 2016

July 13, 2016

What to do?  I needed to come up with some other way to contain the beetles, because Rocky Raccoon was destroying bags almost as quickly as I could replace them.  What could I use instead of these plastic bags?  

Brainstorm ...

... a half-gallon milk jug with the top portion of the plastic beetle bag secured to it.  I tried this on one trap last week and it worked really well.  Now I have milk jug modifications on all three of my traps.  Rocky Raccoon should have a much more difficult time biting a hole in these.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Gardener, All Dressed For Work.

My husband and I have been working on the Rose Field, to free it from the neglect and overgrowth of the past four years.  With the roses in a large section of this garden located and moved elsewhere, I set my husband loose to mow with his DR walk-behind bush hog.

Our next door neighbor saw all the commotion and came over to get a closer look ... "I have to get a picture of this," he said.  "Go stand over there."

Just for fun, here is a video of my husband and his bush hog cutting a few passes of brush.  It's a very powerful machine that makes quick work of saplings and brambles ... and I think that the operator is pretty awesome!

We have about one-fourth of this garden cleared.  For now, we will  keep it mowed so it doesn't grow up and get out of hand again. I hope to eventually redesign it and turn it back into a rose garden, and I am doing my best to be satisfied with what seems like small accomplishments and baby steps ... as we work our way through this huge garden whenever time allows and weather is favorable.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Before, During, and After

When I was out in the garden early yesterday morning on my daily mission to drown Japanese Beetles in a bucket of soapy water, I spotted this beautiful bud on "Fredericksburg Cemetery Tea".  (I grew this plant from a cutting taken from a large Tea rose in a cemetery in downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia.  It resembles 'Madame Lombard'.)

A couple of hours later, as I was making my twice-monthly rounds with my sprayer full of fungicide, I passed this spot and saw that the bud had opened ... and it was being visited by one of the honey bees from next door at Hartwood Winery.  

Later in the day, I passed this spot again and found this scene.

You wouldn't know it from the concentration of Japanese Beetles on that poor flower, but it seems that I may have fewer beetles this year than I did last year.  There are only certain rose bushes that are getting decimated, while many others are relatively untouched.  It's still pretty awful, and I imagine that it will probably continue to be that way for the rest of July, if prior years are any indication.  

Friday, June 24, 2016

My Favorite Music

I am a child of the hard rock 1970s.  I loved parties and dancing to disco, but my heart was already given to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, and others.  As I have gotten older, this is still how I am.  I went through a phase in the 90s where Alternative and Grunge were my favorites ... Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, REM, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden.

At 56 years old, my taste in music hasn't tamed much.  If anything, it's now more diverse and eclectic ... I like just about everything.  My 6-disk CD changer in the Jeep currently holds One Republic, Fall Out Boy, Eminem, Adele, Metallica, and (one of my very favorites) Disturbed.

David Draiman, the lead singer, has one of the best and most expressive voices out there in any genre.  Disturbed is a hard rock band, for sure, but the messages in their lyrics are almost always positive, encouraging, and empowering.  Here's an example from one of my favorite Disturbed songs ("I'm Alive" from 2005) ... lyrics that always make me better when it feels like life is stepping all over me.

Never again will I be dishonored
And never again will I be reminded
Of living within the world of the jaded
They kill inspiration, it's my obligation
To never again allow this to happen
Where do I begin?
The choices are endless
Denying the sin
My art, my redemption
I carry the torch of my fathers before me

The thing I treasure most in life cannot be taken away

There will never be a reason why I will surrender to your advice
To change myself, I'd rather die
Though they will not understand
I will make the greatest sacrifice
You can't predict where the outcome lies
You'll never take me alive.
I'm alive.

Disturbed's new album is one of the best yet!  Included on it is an amazing version of "The Sound of Silence", the old Simon and Garfunkel song.  If you haven't had a chance to hear it yet, prepare to be amazed at the depth of emotion and control in Draiman's voice.  This live version of the song is even better than the studio recording ... and the studio version is pretty incredible.  Turn up your sound, click on the video, and prepare to love it as much as I do.

(I could SO see him singing the role of Javert in Les Miserables ... see if you agree.)

Disturbed is on tour right now, and they will be coming to a venue near me on July 10.  I have tickets ... I'm so excited that it's hard to contain myself.

Once a hard rock fan, always a hard rock fan.  It keeps me from getting old.

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