Life Lately

Happy Birthday, Dad

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday. The first one without him. Add in that the first Father’s Day without him was only 4 days prior, and yeah, it was a tough week.

I intended to write a post yesterday all about my dad, as a tribute to him on his birthday, but I just couldn’t do it. Every time I tried to begin, the emotions would overwhelm me and the words wouldn’t come together.

If there is anything I’ve learned about grief over the past 2 years, it’s that you can’t control it, and you can’t hide from it. You have to allow yourself to feel it, work through it in your own way, and be kind to yourself.

So instead of a full post, I’m just going to leave this here for now. Happy Birthday, Dad. I miss you.


Nurturing my plant babies is such a stress-reliever for me. I love to get up in the morning, pour myself a cup of coffee and take it with me as I make the rounds outside to check on everything. My hubby calls it “patrolling the perimeter”. 😂.

It’s just so peaceful to be outside with the sun shining, the birds chirping, a cool morning breeze blowing, sipping fresh coffee and taking my time… Maybe I’ll pick a random weed here and there, deadhead some flowers, see what needs watered, and enjoy being surprised by what new thing is blooming or growing. It’s one of my favorite simple pleasures.

Summer Crush Hydrangea

I’ve been longing for this Summer Crush Hydrangea since we first started landscaping and planting at our new home last year. I fell in love with its huge raspberry-colored flowers the minute I saw it.

Isn’t she a beauty? ❤️

I wanted to make sure I had just the right spot for it before I brought one home. I’ve had to spend some time getting to know this new property. and watching which areas get light at different times of the day, which areas are more protected from the wind, and which areas the deer are more/less likely to venture and snack on things. 😳

According to my research, hydrangea are not “deer proof”, but they aren’t their favorites either, so they will likely only bother them if they are really hungry. This one is planted in the back, in an area that is more prone to trespassing deer than the front, so I’m hoping for the best.

Hydrangeas are my absolute favorite flower (although peonies are a close second). I have four Little Limes planted up front, as well as a Little Quick Fire Hydrangea Tree. The Limelights haven’t started blooming yet this year, but the Quick Fire looks beautiful! We planted her late last summer, so this is my first time seeing her in action. She has white flowers now, that will turn to pink as the summer goes on, and then finally a darker red/rust for fall.

Quick Fire Hydrangea Tree

I Rescued Some Roses

I accompanied my hubby to Lowes for something he needed on Sunday, and while he was inside the store, I meandered around the garden center, where I came across a cart of clearanced shrubs and flowers. They had several varieties and colors of roses that were originally $22 each, marked down to $5!

I found 3 of the same color and brought them home with me, fairly confident I could nurse them back to health with a little TLC. Last year at Lowe’s, I got some dried out and brown creeping phlox that was marked down to $1, and by this spring it was absolutely beautiful! There is something satisfying about saving them from the trash, and giving them new life. Anyone else with me on this one, or am I just weird? 🤣

The roses were looking a little sad when we got them home, but we promptly got them into the ground, where I watered them well and added root stimulator. Then pruned off all the dead parts.

They’re looking much better already! This one even as a bud!

I’m new to growing roses, so if anyone has any tips, I’d love to hear them!

My Isabel Bloom Statues

My sweet and thoughtful coworkers got me an Isabel Bloom statue after my mom died, and another in January when my dad died. Yesterday, I finally moved them outside.

This one is called “Always with You”. 💕 She’s on the front porch right now.

And this one is called “Peace Angel”.

The hostas I transplanted from Mom & Dad’s are doing so well. This side of the house is the perfect place for them, with just the right amount of shade/sun. It seemed fitting to tuck one of the angels up in here near the hostas from my parents’ house.

The Vegetable Garden

My hubby and I are both enjoying the deer proof, raised bed garden we built last month–especially the automatic watering part! We had to make a couple of adjustments, but it seems like it’s working well now. Such a convenience, and also a great way to make sure the veggies get a consistent and even amount of water, so my tomatoes don’t split!

Everything is growing well, and getting big, but we did spot a few damaged leaves on our tomatoes, and upon further investigation discovered hornworms. Oh lord, those suckers are gross. 😳. I’m committed to not putting any pesticides in the garden though, so instead, we’ve been checking all the leaves daily and picking them off by hand. 😒. I haven’t found any in a couple of days, so that’s a good sign.

I noticed yesterday that our cucumber leaves are developing some white spots. I did a little research, and it doesn’t seem to be powdery mildew, so I’m not sure what it is? Any of you master gardeners out there have any ideas, I’d love to hear from you.

Cucumber leaves with white spots? What is it?

Keeping Busy

Grad Class & Summer “Return to Learn” Work

I don’t know yet what the fall will bring as far as school and what it will look like, but I know it will be stressful. There are so many things to think about. I saw this post and thought it captured perfectly what we are no doubt headed toward in a few weeks.

I’m on a couple of committees this summer as we try to prepare for the unknown. Also, I’m taking a grad class and that’s keeping me pretty busy.

At least my summer “office” has a nice view.

Cleaning Out Mom & Dad’s House

My sister and I have been working on sorting through my parents’ house, so we can get it ready to sell. It’s a lot of work, and completely emotionally exhausting. It’s such a strange combination of walking down memory lane and all the nostalgia that entails, but at the same time stirring up all the grief/pain over and over again. It’s the house I grew up in and where my parents lived for close to 50 years, so there are a lot of memories there. I’m anxious to get it done, so we can move forward with the healing part.

Impulse Buy

On a lighter note, I bought this t-shirt, that is funny, but also not funny at the same time, know what I mean?


I’m trying to make sure that I protect some of my time this summer to decompress and recharge after the chaos and stress of the past several months (grief + pandemic = STRESS). I feel like I’m going to need to begin August with batteries as fully charged as possible.

All of our travel plans for the summer got cancelled thanks to COVID-19, so I’m trying to look at the silver lining of that, and appreciate the relaxed summer at home that has afforded us.


“Happy Hour at Home” has become an almost daily event. When Mark gets home from work, we have a cocktail, he usually joins me in another “patrol of the perimeter” while we sip, and then we chill on the back deck and enjoy the view for awhile. Sometimes we take a walk, or enjoy some yard work, and then end up having a late dinner (like 9pm!), usually also outside. This is not a schedule I can sustain once school starts again. It’s no doubt going to be a rough transition later, but for now, I’m enjoying this much-needed, low-key pace.

Thank you to my coworker Karlee for suggesting that I try this recipe from Iowa Girl Eats for Watermelon Jalapeño Margaritas. Oh my word.

As luck would have it, I had all the necessary ingredients already in my fridge, but I’ve since gone to the store and bought more watermelon and jalapeños, because this will be making a repeat performance–it’s that good.

Watermelon Jalapeño Margs

Missing my Starbucks

A side effect of not being out and about as much, is that my Starbucks visits have been fewer and farther between. I was missing my two favorite summer drinks though, so I learned how to make something close at home.

Plus, I got some of the Starbucks color-changing cups, which makes it even better. I love these things!


We aren’t eating inside restaurants still, so we’ve enjoyed picking up some takeout, or fixing a picnic basket, and eating outside, whether that be at one of our nearby lakes or a local winery for an outdoor summer concert where we could appropriately social distance.

Enjoying the Wildlife (mostly)…

There is always something to look at out here. We keep our binoculars on a coffee table in the living room, and my camera with the big lens right near the patio doors, so both can be grabbed quickly when we spot something.

All of these photos are taken right from our back, upper-level deck. It’s the perfect perch to enjoy all this beautiful nature.

This little deer comes to the pond to drink at least once a day lately, sometimes twice. Yesterday afternoon he splashed around for close to an hour.

This raccoon has been around for the last few weeks. She has three babies tucked up in the woods nearby, and she comes to the pond to catch frogs! It’s so funny to watch!

On this day, the red-winged blackbirds weren’t happy about it. They must have a nest nearby!

This Blue Heron is a frequent visitor to the pond. There are several ponds around here, and I’ve spotted him fishing in a couple of others down the road, too. He must make the rounds daily to see where the best fish are. 😄

This pair of eagles often perch in a big, dead tree in the back pasture. Last winter, when the pond was partially frozen over, we watched one catch a large Canadian goose, drag it out of the water onto the ice, and spend a good hour eating it. 😳

This turtle came for a visit near our garden. Mark relocated her back to the pond.

Recently, I had an “incident” with a tree frog. For whatever reason, lately they’ve been coming up onto our second story deck! A few days ago, I opened the patio door to come back inside, and this guy must have been on the wall above the door. As I started to enter, he fell onto my head, and then lept into the house!

Lord help me.

I was afraid he’d disappear into the house somewhere, so I grabbed the quickest thing I could find to capture him. No frogs in the house, please.

Safely back in “the wild”.

What have you been up to lately? I’d love to hear!


Here is the lens I use to take my wildlife pics.

Tamron SP 150-600mm Zoom Lens for Canon

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17 thoughts on “Life Lately

  1. Sending you good thoughts and prayers. I find nature the perfect place to recharge and settle ourselves. It looks like you have the perfect place for that. Take care, Suzanne.

    1. Carol,
      Thank you for taking the time to leave a thoughtful comment. Yes, it’s so hard. I lost both of my parents in barely two years–January 2018 and January 2020. It’s an ache that never goes away.
      Wishing you peace and comfort,

  2. There are so many wonderful things in this post that I don’t know where to begin commenting! Such a beautiful tribute to your father. The hornworm is totally freaky and I cannot imagine having to pick them off the plants by hand. Ick. And that impulse tee shirt buy is amazing! I love it. Thanks for sharing and linking up with me.


  3. Hello Your cucumber leaf spots may be this
    Hello my search yield this result trying to match thumbnails similar to your.
    Yellow spots due to Pseudomonas syringae

    If you care to try your own searches they taught us in MG class to place this in your search——->


    then type in your horticulture problem……
    This yields bonafide university publications and resources that we give our clients.
    Other images here
    site:edu cucumber leaves white spots
    I hope this helps.

    Congratulations on the great Lowes plant clearance…..I am aching to go look for some yellow stickers myself.

    1. Karen,
      THANK YOU so much for the helpful information about my cucumbers! I am going to try your search suggestion. I appreciate you taking the time to offer some assistance.
      The cucumbers are looking somewhat better, but not great. For a few days, I was worried they would die. Most of the affected leaves yellowed and fell off, and the newer leaves on the top are healthier. We do have several good cucs growing, although some also yellowed and died. I’m going to check out your info now!

  4. Lots going on at your house. Flowers look pretty and your garden is doing good! Thanks so much for linking up with me at my #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 14, open until July 26. All party entries shared if social media buttons installed.

  5. I can relate to the sadness with Father’s Day. I am in the same boat as a teacher! I must get those Starbucks color changing cups! I love to make my iced coffee in the plain one I have! Keep enjoying the small things and your beautiful piece of heaven.

    1. Thank you, Amy, for taking the time to write a few lines and connect. It helps, I think, to know others are in the same boat as us, and experiencing some of the same ups and downs. Knowing we aren’t alone in our feelings makes all the difference.
      Best Regards,

  6. Lovely post…sorry for you loss but sounds like you have wonderful memories, and memories can be such a gift. YES to Lowe’s sale plants! Before we moved into an apartment and downsized I always bought clearance plants. Roses were great..and once a great evergreen tree that grew so much to hide the air conditioner unit on the side of the house that I had to hang out of our bedroom window to trim the top. I paid 5 bucks for it and it grew like mad. Loved it. Drove by our old house and the new owners took it down…took out all the roses, too. Enjoy your garden !

    1. Hi Ann,
      I’m going to have to make it a habit to continue to check Lowe’s. They mark them down so cheap, that it’s worth taking a chance on a sad looking little plant! Thanks for stopping by, and for your kind words. 💜. Have a great week!

    1. Thank you,Joanne. We had white hydrangeas at our wedding, so I’m pretty partial to them. 💕

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