Finally! I’m BACK!


Coral Honeysuckle in Full Bloom, and Carolina Wren in Residence in the Old Birdhouse

I know I’ve said it before, but honestly, you have no idea how much time writing and publishing a book can eat up. I’m spending at least 60 hours a DAY on it, so you know I’m in Time Deficit Mode, here! 😀 But. I’m trying to find ways to manage my crowded days better, so I can get back to my blogs again. I’ve already gotten Bookin’ It back to speed, and I can’t leave Who’s Your Granny just abandoned and lonely, now can I?


View from My Patio Table

So…here’s the scoop. My sad and neglected garden is undergoing a metamorphosis as I try to get it cleaned up, replanted, and looking good before the heat becomes unbearable.

don juansm

First Don Juan rose of the season. Reddest & most perfect rose, ever! (Ignore all the photos
on my inspiration board. This is my writing desk, and you never know who or what might
be displayed! 😀

I dug my pathetic looking roses, which do not like my soil, and potted them in huge containers last month, and they are already leafed out and starting to bloom. They LOVE the richer potting soil, and the extra TLC.


I’ve raised and released six monarchs already this season, which is pretty good, given that I don’t have as much milkweed available for them to lay their eggs on as I usually do. It’s on my shopping list.

Found a decent source of good terra cotta and glazed pots at my local Wal-Mart. Much better prices than Home Depot, and certainly better than most garden centers. So I’m collecting pots and moving a lot of things out of the ground and into containers. Easier to care for, and I have more control over the growing medium. I’m trying to do more xeriscaping for the inground stuff…native plants and low maintenance things. And annuals, which I’d have to replace every year, anyway. Thinking of broadcasting some wildflower seeds, if it isn’t already too late here.


Mama Cardinal on my Jasmine vine, just outside my screen porch. Can you see her? (Look for her orange beak.)

We’ve been having 90 degree days regularly for several weeks, so summer is upon us already. Stay tuned for more frequent updates! And please let me hear from you, those of you who are still with me. I’ve missed chatting with my fellow gardeners and friends.


Gardening Weather Is Here!

Belinda's Dream Shrub Rose

Belinda’s Dream Is The Only Thing Blooming in My Yard Right Now
(Photo taken last spring)

Wooohooooo…the best thing about living in Florida is being able to garden all winter. The worst thing is NOT being able to garden all summer! (At least I can’t, that’s for sure.) I have a ton of clean-up still to do, due to having neglected my yard for over 6 months. What a mess! Everything that isn’t dead is leggy, scrawny, and in dire need of TLC. Part of my plan for 2014 includes gardening a certain number of hours every week, until it all looks good again. I miss my retreat!

What’s happening in your part of the country? Still buried under snow? Weather warming any? Or is the worst still ahead? We often get hard freezes in January & February that last a day or possibly two, but as long as I plant winter hardy annuals like pansies, violas, and petunias, they’ll make it through. I won’t set out anything too tropical until later in the spring.

Those of you who live in the still-frozen areas…are you planning your gardens yet? Making up lists of seeds or new plants? Diagramming your beds? Or do you wait for the weather to warm and wing it?

Okay, How Cute Is This?

Sorry. It rained all day today, so no garden pics. But the Granny in me just has to share this picture my daughter sent me of my little grandson, Kaelen. I can’t wait to get up there Saturday and hold this little ba-boo! He’s just so sweet! 



Now, tell me honestly…is this  the most disgustingly self-indulgent post you’ve seen anywhere, all day? I’ll admit it. But I just couldn’t help myself!


Can’t Wait!

Pile of Pumpkins

It’s PUMPKIN Time!

The weather is cooling…okay, maybe not cooling, really, but the heat wave is breaking. A bit. My cataract surgery is done and my eye healing well enough that I can risk dirt or debris being blown about, and the two together mean, I can start gardening again. I’m heading to Destin on Saturday (a 7 hour drive, eeek) to see my grandson, the adorable Kaelen Lake, and when I get back, I’m expecting to weed and prune like a thing possessed, and to start planting some new fall and winter goodies in my beds.

It seems like a very long time since my garden has looked good. Oh, wait. It HAS BEEN a very long time since my garden looked good. Hence the lack of posts and photos. But I’ve got both of my new books up and published on Kindle, and one nearly ready to go to print, so I’m somewhat caught up on my writing. It should be easier to find time each day to do a bit of yard work, and I’m soooo looking forward to it. Don’t you miss it when you can’t garden?

It’s nearly time for fall migrants and winter visitors to start showing up at my feeders, too, for a bit of extra color and interest. Things are happening! Life is moving on, in spite of some of the troubles in the country today. And if you look around you with an open heart and mind, you can still find the Magic in the every day world.

Magic is good. 🙂 (Almost as good as an ear kiss!)


Dancing With Wieners Star Maksim Hotdogski, and The Phantom’s Sir Hairy Potter of Sanford
Alias Maks & Potter

Wake-Robin Ridge

Summer Magic

What Happens When . . .

. . . you stay indoors, glued to your computer, busy writing a book and ignoring your garden? Well. Disaster, if you love a beautiful garden as much as I do. Oh, my! Beggar’s ticks as high as my head, roses with only 6 leaves left on the plant, coleus that look like they’ve been crawling across the burning sands of the Sahara for weeks. Just a hot mess, in general. My poor, poor back yard! 

The good news is, it was too hot to work outside anyway, so staying inside and working on my book was probably a smarter choice. (And by the way, for those who enjoy romantic suspense, Wake-Robin Ridge will be available to download FREE all day tomorrow, 9/6, thanks to Kindle Select!) The bad news is, I’m going to have to spend weeks weeding, cutting back, digging up, tossing out, and starting over. With the wicked, wicked heat we’ve had this summer, scenes like this are a thing of the past.

Belinda's Dream Rose

But have no fear. Even though it is still in the mid-to-high 90’s every day around here, the evenings are cooling down, finally, and that means temps overall will start becoming more bearable. Which,  in turn, means I can start working outside, at least in the mornings, and get things cleaned up a good bit.  

Afternoons will be spent marketing my new book and working on my book of poetry, Summer Magic. But I can do a LOT in the morning, if I get going early enough. If I prune and feed, the roses will spring back to life again, and moving the coleus into the shade and watering more regularly will probably have them looking good soon, as well. 

One interesting tidbit. Like most Florida yards, we have a plethora of lizards in ours. Tons of the invasive Cuban brown anole, and a few determined green Carolina anoles are racing around everywhere. But this week, I spotted an Indo-Pacific gecko on my back porch. He’s very sweet looking, with smoother skin than the regular lizards and huge, googly night-vision eyes. I’ll try to get a picture of him to post here.  Of course, geckos are not native to Florida, but as far as I know, they are not that common, especially in central Florida. Unlike the hideously invasive Cuban tree frogs, I’ve only ever seen one or two anywhere in the area. (This doesn’t mean that they will never become a problem, of course, but I don’t think they are right now. And so far, I like mine.)

I’m really looking forward to getting some work done outside this weekend, and to getting caught up again on all of my blogs. Writing a book is fantastic, but it is an enormous time-suck that pretty much swallows everything else in your life in one huge gulp. I’m going to plan my hours better when I start my next one! 😀

So tell me, what’s blooming in your garden this late in the year?

Wake-Robin Ridge Has Gone Live on Amazon!

I know. Another post about my book, but I swear, this will be the last for awhile. I just wanted to make sure that I got the word out to all my followers that my book IS now available for download on 

I’m beyond excited! I knew at age five I wanted to be a writer, but got sidetracked somewhere along the way for a little while. Okay, for 64 years. But I am here to tell you, it’s never too late to follow your dream. I decided last October I was going to write a book, start to finish, and publish it on amazon. And this time, I didn’t let anything get in my way. I wrote. And wrote. And wrote. Thank God I had a good editor. She cut. And cut. And cut. And now, a tighter, cleaner version of Wake-Robin Ridge is ready to go.

The book was a labor of love set in my favorite part of the country, the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, and I enjoyed every single moment spent telling this tale. If you like romantic suspense with a slightly spooky twist, it might be just your thing. I hope you’ll give it a try. If you enjoy it, please feel free to leave a review on amazon. (If you don’t enjoy it…don’t tell anyone, ever! Ha!)

Seriously, I do hope some of you will be touched by the story. It’s definitely not the high-action Urban Fantasy I like to read these days, but it is exactly what I wanted to write–a tale of love and redemption that just might offer a surprise or two.


Wake-Robin Ridge



Just got my cover art last night, and I’m thrilled! Seeing it made me realize my lifelong dream is about to come true. I will be publishing the book on Kindle (probably this weekend) and will have a print version on amazon very shortly after, as well. I’m beyond excited. My cover designer (Nicki Forde at Nicki Forde Graphic Design) is the best, bar none, and I’m so thrilled that she was able to take my thoughts and make them reality. 

This blog will NOT become all about my book, believe me. Gardening and other miscellaneous general topics will still remain the focus. But I just had to share this news, and show off the cover of Wake-Robin Ridge. For those who don’t know, a wake-robin is a trillium that blooms in spring in the eastern part of the country. It’s blood red, instead of the white of most varieties of trillium, and one of my favorite mountain wildflowers. And yes, that is a wake-robin in the lower right corner of the book cover.

I will post updates from time to time, about the publication of Wake-Robin Ridge, and any special sales promotions, but as I say, the focus of this blog won’t change.  In fact, now that I’m wrapping up the publication, maybe my time will be a little easier to manage. I’ve missed my blogs a lot!

Like A Bad Penny, Here I Am Again!

( Reposted From Bookin’ It )

Back home from San Diego, after much sturm und drang, having gotten caught in airline hell on last Tuesday, when American Airlines stopped flying for the better part of the day. Caught in long lines, flight cancelled and rescheduled…THREE times…finally arriving at 2:30am! I was 24 hours in transit and exhausted, but by golly, I MADE IT! And got to spend 4 days of blissful Granny Time with Kaelen. Then I came down with some sort of dread disease that meant I had to wear a mask and not touch him any more! Eeeeep. And more flight trouble on the way home because…GET THIS…two passengers in FIRST CLASS decided to have a FOOD FIGHT, and apparently made such a mess that my flight out of Dallas was delayed for almost an hour while the crew cleaned up the cabin! Can you imagine? First Class JERKS is what they were. So I got home that night at 2:30am, sick and miserable. But you know what? I’d go through it all again to spend those four days with my lovely new grandson. What a sweet baby he is!

I have been quarantined at home by my doctor here, who says I’m teetering on the edge of pneumonia, but she is determined to head it off. So I’m to take my meds and REST. No housework. (Awwww…say it isn’t so!) Just “read, relax, rest, and recuperate.” I think I can do that. And I’m not banned from blogging, so hopefully, I’ll soon be back in the swing of that. I have two books to review here and tons of garden pictures to share on Who’s Your Granny, so I’m good to go. And just so you can see the reason I ever got caught up in all that airline mess in the first place, here’s a little piccie for ya.


Now tell the truth. If this were YOUR brand new grandson, you wouldn’t regret the Flight From Hell, either, would you?

Be back soon with my next review!

*going off now, tapping my ruby slippers together, and repeating over and over, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”*

Go Granny, Go Granny, Go Granny, Go!


(Reposted from Bookin’ It)

*me, humming the Beach Boys around here, as I finish packing*

Just a quick note to let you all know I’m off to San Diego in the morning, to meet the wise and serene Kaelen. I can hardly wait to get my hands on the little guy for some serious baby-to-granny bonding! I will have computer access and my iPhone, so I can check in from time to time, if I’m not too busy lovin’ on that baby, of course, but I won’t be posting any reviews or the like until I get home next week.  Thankfully, Gramps will hold down the fort until I’m back, but that doesn’t include doing my blogging for me, as I’m sure you understand. Gramps is a lot of handy things, but a blogger, he is not.

Can’t wait to share more photos and adventures, though not to worry. Kaelen will NOT become the focus of this blog, no matter how truly adorable he might be. I swear on a stack of Harry Dresden books, I will be back to my normal reviews and commentary, such as they are, shortly after my return. And the subsequent posting of a few hundred baby pictures, of course.


Be afraid. Be very afraid.

(Not really)

Yes, really.

(Shaking head “NO” here.)

(Nodding head “YES” here)





😀 😀 😀

Okay, I’m outta here!

Hello, World!

(Reblogged from Bookin’ It)


My name is Kaelen. (My Granny would never have seen that coming!) Kaelen is Celtic for Mighty Warrior, and after the way I spent the last forty-eight hours, I think my mommy and daddy called it right. It was a long battle, but I made it! And I think my mommy is a warrior, too! She and I struggled for a long, long time, but she got me here just fine. I met my daddy right away, and he looks like a warrior, himself, so I guess it’s a family thing! I weigh 8 pounds and 11 ounces, and I’m 21 inches long. I’m told that means I’m not only mighty but BIG, too. I can’t wait to get to know all about the world, but for now, I’m just going to take a wee nap. Even Mighty Warriors need their rest, you know. ‘Nite.

Waiting As Fast As I Can!

(Reblogged from Bookin’ It )


Soon To Be The Proud Parents of McPumpkin McMuffin McDougal

(Okay, only that last part is true, but he’ll always be MY McMuffin!)

My daughter, who lives in San Diego, is in the hospital today, giving birth to her son, who is our first grandson. Oh, the agony of waiting to hear!! I will be flying out next week, probably, to meet my little McMuffin in person, and I’m so excited. It’s always exciting when grandchildren arrive, but we have had to wait longer than might be usual for ours, so we are extremely happy. My son & his wife had given up on having a baby, but after ten years, we were blessed with an adorable granddaughter. And my daughter and her husband have been waiting for seven years, thinking it might not happen for them, either. But now it has, and I will have both a granddaughter and a grandson.  How perfect is that? 

I will try to let everyone know before I take off for that long flight to California, but if I should forget in all the excitement, and seem to drop off the face of…Wordpress!…that’s where I’ve gone. And be prepared. There WILL be pictures! 


Is This A Great Birthday Present, Or What?



As if a March 16th trip to a Book Festival in Ft. Myers, with my best friend, and featuring many cool authors available for autographs and Q & A sessions, isn’t a cool enough way to spend the day before my birthday, I just found out the most exciting news!  Silver Birch Press announced the release of Green: An Eclectic Anthology of Poetry & Prose on Friday, March 15!  This book promises to be every bit as enjoyable as the Silver anthology was, and once again, I am absolutely thrilled to have had another poem included.  Wow!

Just when you think Life should be slowing down and getting a bit…oh, I don’t know…DULL, maybe?…it pops up and gobsmacks you with wonderful surprises like this! The Green Anthology includes poetry, short stories, novel excerpts, essays, interviews, and memoirs from over 60 authors in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Europe & Africa.  There will be work from long established writers (like my just about favorite poet of all time, Amy Lowell) as well as from newer writers (like…well…ME!) 😀

If, way back in high school, when I was doing reports on Amy Lowell’s most famous works ( Patterns or Purple Grackles), I had ever even though that something I wrote would one day be rubbing shoulders with some of her poems…well, I wouldn’t have believed it, I can tell you that. And yet, it happened. Life is good!

I will keep you guys posted as the release date nears, so that those of you who love anthologies as much as I do can head to amazon for your own copy. I know I’ll be buying several! (I love getting my Christmas shopping done early!) 😉

And for anyone who’d like to read “On The River,” my contribution to The Green Anthology,  click here.

NOTE: The date of release for The Green Anthology has been changed to March 15, making it just in time for my birthday weekend!  Yay!

(Reposted from Bookin’ It)

February In Central Florida


Pink Firespike  (Odontonema strictum)

Photo Taken Half Hour Ago Near My Patio

(Notice very blue sky, and hot, hot sunlight)

I was just watching the news today, and saw the images of the awful blizzard that struck the northeastern part of the country yesterday and over night.  My heart goes out to those without power, and who have suffered damages from the storm. I have to say, it seems surreal to be sitting at the table in my shorts and t–shirt, watching the news and trying to imagine how cold it must be up there. The local weather came on immediately afterward and promised that we will have 84 degree temps by Monday.  It’s a mere 74 degrees right now, so that’s a ten degree hike in the next day and a half. Frankly, 84 degrees is too hot to suit me, but it’s better than digging out from under a five foot pile of snow, I know, so I’m not going to complain.

I’m actually working in the garden today, pruning back roses that are trying to send up new growth already, and weeding things that normally would die over the winter, but haven’t this year, since we haven’t had a freeze yet.  Even my firespike is blooming for the first time in three years.  It’s really too tropical for here, and normally freezes right before the buds open every year.  Go figger!

Ain’t life strange?  I’m sweating, those folks up north are freezing, and still, things go on, for better or worse. It’s left to us to just play the hand we’re dealt, I reckon.  So, with that thought in mind, break’s over, and it’s back to the garden for me.

The Literary Cat #2 (Reposted from Bookin’ It)

My Literary Cat

‘Sgt. Karrin Murphy, alias Murph’


In ancient times, cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.

 –Terry Pratchett

NOTE: Murph would be the most unlikely cat ever to be worshipped by anyone, anywhere. After rescuing her and her brother, Harry,  almost two years ago, as kittens merely eight weeks old,  Harry settled into our household and totally totally embraced his role as ruler of the roost. On the other hand, Murphy still dives under the nearest bed or couch when any human approaches her. You’d think she’d have figured out by now that we are mostly harmless and provide all the food and creature comforts she could ask for, as devoted slaves will do, but nooooo. We call her the Skittery Kittery.

Time To Start Gardening Again!


While much of the country is cold and snowy, here in central Florida, it’s time to begin planting the winter/spring garden, and doing the heavier yard work that you don’t want to tackle in the broiling heat of summer.  Today is sunny, clear, and in the mid-60’s out.  Perfect gardening weather.  Unfortunately, I have some other obligations today, but Saturday, I will be stopping by a nursery on my way to visit friends, and I’m specifically hunting for some lovely blue cabbages.  I used some last year as an edging in one of my beds, and they were gorgeous through winter, spring, and most of the summer.  The deep blue color held up the entire time, and they didn’t shoot up on long, bare stems like some of the pink & green decorative cabbages do.  I’m hoping the weather on Sunday will let me get busy weeding and setting out a few new things, like…blue cabbages!!

In the picture above, you can see a freshly set out blue cabbage (they get much fuller and pretty), and a beautiful little green cabbage with a bright pink center. The blue cabbages all got better and better, bluer and fuller, and very pretty. The green and pink ones gradually turned an all over dusky purple that wasn’t especially pretty.  They also got leggy and ended up sitting on top of  bare stems nearly a foot tall.

I’m also hoping life slows down a bit, and I can find more time for posting on this blog.  That’s one of my goals, especially over the next few months. 


This one started out SO pretty, but didn’t hold up as well.

Do any of you grow decorative cabbages and kales.  If so, which ones have you found to be especially pretty? 

Dandelions and Mosquitoes…in January!



Today, as my husband and I left Steak N Shake after our decadent Frisco Melt sandwiches (we are SUCH gourmands!), he noticed dandelions blooming in the parking lot.  In January!  And yesterday, as he was taking down our Christmas lights (finally), he was swatting mosquitoes. Yep. In January.  After reading several blogs from more northern climes lately, I realized what a cool thing this is. Cool, as in neat, fun, and amazing, as opposed to cool, as in snowy, icy, or ten degrees below zero.  Just one more aspect of winter in central Florida.  Now whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on your preferences, I reckon.

Me, I love cooler weather, and I really don’t want to be wearing shorts in January.  BUT. I also don’t want to be shoveling six feet of snow off of my car, and sliding down icy stair steps every time I leave my house.  So, I’m going to go with the whole “bloom where you’re planted” thing and revel in the many blessings surrounding me in this part of the country.  Hope you are able to do the same, no matter where you live.  In other words, if you find a dandelion in winter, make a wish.  And when Life gives you snow…BUILD SNOWMEN!!




No Ice On My Citrus…Yet!

It’s a bit nippy out today, for this part of the world.  Temps went down into the low 40’s last night, and are not expected out of the 60’s today.  That’s actually my idea of perfect weather.  Cool enough to feel really good to me, but not so cold as to kill my plants, many of which can’t take anything in the mid-30’s, much less a hard freeze.  I can see some leaf damage on things like my firespike and the banana plants, but nothing is dead so far, and of course, temps will be back up into the 70’s by tomorrow.  That’s how it will be most of the winter, I imagine.  Highs in the mid 70’s to low 80’s, and low’s in the 60’s most of the time, with the occasional day or two of near-freezing temps, followed by an immediate warm up.  And at some point, we will probably have at least one or two nights that put ice in the birdbaths and leave local oranges looking like those above.

The good news is, the cold isn’t unrelenting and miserable for weeks on end.  The bad news is, you never know quite what to expect.  One day you are wearing shorts, the next, earmuffs. Then it’s back to shorts again.  That’s winter in central Florida.

Hope those of you in colder climes are keeping warm and building snowmen.  Or at least your kids are!  And here’s to a Happy and Prosperous New Year for all!

Christmas At Granny’s House Part 3


A few more pictures from my living room and dining room.  I do them in shades of blue, silver and white, in contrast to the rest of the house, which is more traditional multi-color, and heavy on reds and greens.  My living room tree, which is being backlit by the big window in this picture, and thus not nearly as pretty as it is after dark. But you can get an idea.  


A close up of some of the blue and silver oraments.  Also not the greatest picture, sorry.


A tabletop vignette with some cool little forest trees and a beautiful Father Christmas given to me by my sweet DIL.


Another little vignette with white papier mache church and Santas.


Dining room wall.  Mark put up the bead board and plate shelf, and I used it to display in vintage FiestaWare until my MIL gave me her stunning set of Blue Danube china.  Now that resides there all year long, and at Christmas, gets the addition of greenery, mercury glass votives, and other silver bits.


Close up for the Blue Danube, and a mercury glass container.

A little corner hutch I inherited from my grandmother, and which I love.  Some of the pretties pieces of the china fit in there perfectly, and it lends itself well to Christmasy touches, too.


In particular, I love the graceful curves of the gravy boat.  It looks like it should house a djinn, or something!


Okay, that’s enough for today.  I’m afraid I’ll send you all into Toxic Santa Shock or something.  But since I have virtually nothing up yet this year, it made me feel good to go through these photos from last year.  Lots of memories, here.  Hope you enjoyed seeing some of them!

Christmas At Granny’s House Part 2


Here are a few more pictures from last year’s Christmas, just for the heck of it.  Hope you enjoy them.

 This first one is part of my entryway village.  Tabitha decided to give it a name.  I guess The Village wasn’t quite creative enough for her, so I found this sign posted a day after she came to stay with us for our regular holiday visit. I packed it away so I can use it from now on.


This is the pass through from my library to the kitchen, and my Holly Jolly Santa Shelf. Every bookshelf gets some Santas, too.


These next two are closer views of the pass through decorations, from the kitchen side. The white wooden tree holds a collection of small Santas, many very old. The mugs are mostly vintage ones from the 50’s, as well.



One of my library bookshelves.  Even Bob The Skull, a character in The Dresden Files books, gets into the act. His girlfriend, Boberta, is going to get a hat this year, too, when I get to it. 


Santas and more Santas.  Country style Black Santas, Chinese Santas, African Santas, Patriotic Santas and more, on every shelf in my library and family room. And thanks to Mark, I have a LOT of bookshelves.