Friday, September 25, 2015


I have six fig trees/bushes of different varieties planted along the south side of our barn.  Originally it was eight varieties, but two of them weren't able to handle our winters and they died.  The remaining six have done well.  Three years ago, I had enough fruit to eat my fill AND to make a couple batches of jam.

Our past two winters have been much colder than average.  All of these unprotected figs were frozen and killed clear to the ground.  This spring, I almost ripped them out.  It's too frustrating to alot this much space and emotional energy to a crop that's so frustrating.  I had a change of heart in early summer, when I saw that each of the figs started to show new growth ... and they ended up growing tall and beautiful.  I didn't hold out much hope for any fruit production on those immature branches, though.  Imagine my surprise the other day, when I went to work on the roses back there and I found these on one of the bushes.

Six ripe figs!!  (The eagle eyes among you have already noticed that there are only five figs in the picture.  I was chewing the sixth one when I realized that I should snap a pic to document the event.)  There are a few more figs that will probably be ripe in a few days, if the groundhogs don't find them first.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"Roses, Wines, and Canines"

If you've been around here for any time at all, you already know that I am one of the core members of Greyhounds Rock Fredericksburg, a nonprofit fundraising charity.  We raise money for, and educate the public about, canine cancer.  We staff the GRF booth at local events (pet fairs and wine and beer fests, mostly.), selling our hand-made collars, leashes, jewelry, wine glass holders, etc., talking pretty much nonstop, and soliciting donations.  We also organize an annual event in the fall.  Since 2010, Greyhounds Rock has donated over $40,000 for canine cancer research, support, and treatment.

Emma and Daniel, with their friend TJ.  All three of these sweet dogs died of cancer.

In the past, our fall event has been a two-day conference that we called "Take a Bite Out of Canine Cancer".  This year, we are doing something a bit different.  On Sunday, September 27, from 11am to 6pm, here at Hartwood Manor and next door at Hartwood Winery, we are hosting "Roses, Wines, and Canines" ... a fun family and dog-friendly day in the country.

Emma, our first greyhound, adopted in 1999.  She loved squeaky toys ...

... and laying in the sun watching the world go by.

She enjoyed children ...

... and she was a superb Therapy Dog.

(Now you know what's been taking up so much of my time and why I haven't been here very often.  I have been doing what I can to tidy up this place and whip it into shape to receive guests ... hopefully LOTS of guests.)

Then, there were two.
This pic was taken at the greyhound gathering in Dewey Beach, Delaware.

Emma was mostly people oriented ... she tolerated Daniel ...

... and I like to think that she came to enjoy having a little brother, after we adopted him in 2005.

As of today, five days in advance of the event, plans are in place, the gardens look as good as they're gonna get, and we are VERY excited.  We will have food, Blessing of the Hounds, a scavenger hunt through Hartwood Roses' gardens and Hartwood Winery's vineyard, wine tasting, a vendor market, photo booth, raffle, auction, door prizes, and more.

I love this photo of Daniel and me.  It was taken at the GRF conference in 2011, four short weeks after Emma died.

Daniel was such a sweet boy!

I knew from the first time I met him, while transporting him and another dog from NC to a foster home in VA, that he was intended to be my dog.

His sweet, smiling face got even more beautiful with time.  He left us way too soon, in 2013, just shy of his 12th birthday.  This is the last photo that I took of him.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for children 12 and under.  We will accept walk-in registrations, but we prefer that folks register in advance (so we have the most accurate guest count for food and chairs and such.)  Register at the Greyhounds Rock web site,  Our beneficiary this year is the Greyhound Health Initiative.

There is still time to plan to attend "Roses, Wines, and Canines", and we will be honored to have you.  If you can't attend, and you want to support our efforts, donations are always welcome.  (we make this easy, with a donation page on our web site.  Click HERE.)

Ruby and Winnie are excited to welcome everyone on Sunday.  Okay ... Ruby is excited ... Winnie will probably just bark.

All of us who have dogs have probably lost at least one of them to cancer.  It's a heart-breaking fact, but I accept this as part of the bargain.  The joy that dogs bring to my life is worth the pain of their passing.  My work with Greyhounds Rock makes me feel like I'm fighting back ... paying it forward ... so future dogs can have the benefit of the programs that we support.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I Promise ... I'm Still Here

Lots going on right now (all of it good) and, as a result, I'm not here as often as I would like ... spending less time on the computer and more time doing other stuff.  Most days start in the garden, riding a wave of energy and motivation and whipping this place into shape. 

Today, I'm debuting a new rose program for a local garden club.

I can't wait to tell you all about all of it!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Week in Montana

Our daughter lives with her boyfriend in NW Montana.  Last month, my husband and I visited them for a wild, wonderful, amazing week.  Here are the highlights of what we did:

We spent the entire day soaking in all that we could experience in the western part of Glacier National Park.  What a spectacular place, full of beautiful scenery in every direction.  We hiked the trail to Avalanche Lake (4.5 miles), drove the Going to the Sun Road to Logan Pass, and finished the day with a hike to Hidden Lake Overlook (2.7 miles)  We saw lots of wildlife:  ground squirrels, mountain goats, chipmunks, marmots, a brief glimpse of a long-tailed weasel being chased by ground squirrels, big-horned sheep, and a long encounter with a coyote (who nonchalantly crossed over the trail ahead of us, while he was hunting ground squirrels for dinner.)

Avalanche Lake

Here are all four of us, at Hidden Lake Overlook.

Mountain Goat.

I was like this a lot ... staring at the scenery and details through the lens of my camera.

The trail back to from Hidden Lake Overlook to the visitors center at Logan Pass.

A mama Mountain Goat and her twins.

The day began with a stop at Polebridge for huckleberry bear claws for a late breakfast.  (totally yummy!)  Then we went to see Bowman Lake.  While hiking, we ran across some park service men documenting a load of fish that they had netted, to assess contents and health of the lake.  One trout was so big that they had to cut it in half because it maxed out their scale.  They were interesting to talk to.

In the afternoon, we went to an outdoor shooting range in the Flathead Forest ... bringing along an assortment of stuff for us to 'play' with.  My husband got to fire his dad's pistol, which our daughter inherited.  I shot a .22 rifle, but found that it was difficult to sight the target because my near vision is so bad without reading glasses.  (Made me wonder if they make bifocal shooting glasses?)

We finished the day at dinner with our daughter's boyfriend's family.  They own the Historic Tamarack Lodge in Hungry Horse ... it has been a ten-year project with a main lodge, numerous guest cabins and things to do, and a really nice restaurant.  It was a very enjoyable evening, and we loved meeting everyone.

Huckleberry Bear Claw from the store at Polebridge.

Bowman Lake.

Target shooting.

My husband shooting clays.

I was lucky with this photo to capture both the smoke of the shotgun barrel and the impact on the clay.

Firing his father's pistol.

Most of the day was spent on a trail ride ... the young people on their motorcycles, my husband and I in a side-by-side.  My husband is used to driving muscle cars and going fast, and this vehicle was perfect for him ... as he drifted and slid around most of the curves on the trail and tried repeated to see if he could get us completely airborne.  I am a perfect passenger, and I loved the ride and how much fun we had.  We chilled a bit in the afternoon (all this fun can be totally exhausting)  Dinner was an assortment of delicious sushi.  Yum!

This was our 'chariot' and my chauffeur for the day.

Our daughter, all suited up and ready to go.

Desert Mountain overlook

Smoky mountains and reflection in the reservoir.

Lunch break.  

It took a bit of 'encouragement' to close the tailgate on the trailer.

Downtown Kalispell.

One of the things we ordered at the Japanese restaurant was called a Spider Roll.  I wish I had captured the look on our daughter's face when one of the pieces looked as if it truly DID contain a big spider.  She had already eaten two pieces of it before making this discovery, deeming it to be delicious, so she gritted her teeth, stuffed the spider back into the roll, and ate it.

We later found out that the 'spider' was actually a small soft-shelled crab.  Our daughter wants everyone to know that she ate this while fully believing that the thing she's holding in the photo was, indeed, a real spider.  That's my girl!

The day ended with a smoky red sun.

After all of the fun and activity that we packed into the first three days of our visit, Thursday morning was spent doing some very-much-needed chilling and sitting around visiting.  Who knew that having fun would be so much work.  It was our daughter's market day.  After she loaded up and headed to the market, the rest of us went to Kalispell to tour the Conrad Mansion, rode through downtown Kalispell, then went to Lone Pine overlook to see how little of the mountains and valley was visible through the smoke from nearby wild fires.  Market was from 5:00 to 8:00, and we hung out with our daughter when she wasn't busy, visited with some really fun fellow market vendors, and shopped.

Conrad Mansion in Kalispell.

This photo was taken at 4:30 in the afternoon.  There was so much smoke in the air, and the sun was obscured to the point where we could look directly at it.

Lone Pine overlook.  The smoke is completely obscuring the view of the mountains that surround the town.

Our daughter makes a line of skin-care products using only carefully chosen natural ingredients.  I use them and I love them ... and I'm not just saying that because she's my daughter.
Visit her web site to learn more:

Our daughter's products are carried in some local shops.  This display is at O'Brien's Liquor and Wine in Columbia Falls.

Went all the way to Montana and met Virginia boy Tim Smith (from the TV show 'Moonshiners') during an appearance at the Columbia Springs Farmers Market.

We were all over the place on Friday, doing all sorts of things.  Started with looking for huckleberries (didn't find any), some junk hunting, sipping drinks at a restaurant overlooking Flathead Lake, bowled a couple of games, and finished the day with a really good pizza at Moose's Saloon in Kalispell.  Smoke was unreal for most of the day, completely obscuring any view of the mountains and countryside.  In late afternoon, the wind shifted, rainstorms came, and the air was noticeably clearer.

Looking for huckleberries.  Our daughter said that they have been hard to find this year because the bushes are producing very few or none at all.

Antique shopping in Somers.  I bought a Bemis grain sack to add to my stash.

Had a beer and enjoyed the view of a very smoky Flathead Lake from the deck at The Raven.

Smoke completely obscured the sky as we sat overlooking Flathead Lake.

Soon, the wind shifted and the sun was almost able to peek out through the smoke.


Photo of the approaching storm.

Sawdust on the floor, loud music, and good pizza add up to a fabulous time at Moose's

The skies were relatively clear, as the smoke from the fires blew away from us, and we started the day on the east side of Glacier Park hiking around at Many Glacier.  Then, we drove the entire length of Going to the Sun Road from Saint Mary all the way to West Glacier, passing through the remains of the Reynolds Creek fire from July.  By the time we got back to our daughter's house, all four of us were SO tired.

Bear Creek Fire, as seen from Route 2 in Essex.

This helicopter had just dropped his load of water on the fire at Bear Creek, and he was heading off to refill.

There I am, taking photos at an overlook in East Glacier.

Choosing a hand-crafted wooden spoon at The Spiral Spoon in East Glacier.

Grizzly Bear munching something in the birch trees on the side of the road.

Free-range cow.

Charred forest at Reynolds Creek on the east side of Glacier Park.

Travel day.  The wonderful week with our daughter in her adopted home state comes to an end. We repacked our suitcases, making room for all of the treasures that we had picked up at each of our stops, hoping that our checked bag wouldn't be too heavy (it wasn't!)  Then it was time for us to go.  We shared kisses and hugs and tears ... till next time ... which can't come soon enough to suit me.

The view from our daughter's living room, on the morning that we left for home.

We crammed so much activity and catching up into our short week-long visit.  It was fun for me to do this post, as I relived everything we did ... and shed a few more tears in the process.

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