Sunday, May 7, 2023

A Few Fun Things to Celebrate Sunday

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Let's celebrate Sunday with a handful of highlights from our week!

Spring is fully sprung here and I'm thrilled to have got all my planting done–a must as the temperatures are shooting up into the 90s. My big project this season was pulling out the forty or fifty-year-old boxwoods around our front porch, something we should have done years ago. Now our porch feels a little unprotected without its Sleeping Beauty hedge, but I know the new plants will fill out and soon the garden will look so much better. Patience…




We have new fish! We had lost all but one koi in a pond disaster last October, and the poor remaining fish must have been feeling really lonely. But he (she?) now has five goldfish buddies, and three new little koi to swim with him. It's been a joy to watch them do what happy fish do.




Speaking of happy, has anyone else been following the saga of the Wrexham Dragons, the failing Welsh football (soccer!) team that actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny bought at the beginning of the Covid lockdown? I lived just across the English/Welsh border from the working class town of Wrexham, so I've taken the team as my own–along with thousands of other people around the globe. What Ryan and Rob's involvement has done for the team, and especially for the town, has been truly heartwarming. You can follow the first season in Welcome to Wrexham (streaming on Hulu and other outlets). They will have just finished filming Season 2 and I can guarantee that it has a happy ending! This is a feel-good story even for non sports fans.


And the hummingbirds are here!


What's up with you, dear REDs?


RHYS BOWEN: I confess to not being at my sunniest at the moment: root canal that didn’t quite work or sinus infection or both making me miserable, and nobody seems to be able to sort it out. However, I can think of a few good things:


We came back from Hawaii to find our garden looking at its best. (Most of the year it looks bleak,thanks to zillions of deer. But it is a riot of purple at the moment, thanks to a wet spring.



And in that garden, the other morning, a tiny new-born fawn, lying motionless, looking up at us with big dark eyes. Much as I curse the deer most of the time the fawns are adorable.




And a week of accomplishments: editor line edits completed on our next Molly, thanks to my co-writer Clare who did an amazing job, and an editor who loved the book–always good to hear.


I finished the first draft on An Abandoned Place, my next stand-alone, and I’ve given it to my against for feedback before I polish and send it off to my editor. So I can take a breather. Oh, and I’m going to an ABBA concert with my dear ones tomorrow. So on the whole all is good.


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Rhys, I’m getting great pleasure from picturing you decked out in a disco jumpsuit, a la Meryl Streep at the end of Mamma Mia. If you don’t wear this to an ABBA concert, please don’t tell me. 


As you all read this, I’m in the middle of a very good thing, as Martha would say: the girls and I are visiting the Sailor and Veronique in Norfolk. It’s been a full twelve months since the whole family has been together, and it’s for a delightful occasion: Veronique’s graduation! (Much more on this tomorrow.) It’s been chill and so rainy in Maine for well over a week, and our flowers are limited to daffs and forsythia at the moment, so it’s a real treat to go south and see spring in all its glory. By the time we get home, our flowering trees should be abloom, so I’ll get a rerun! 


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Rhys! That’s awful–I have to say I am in a similar predicament–we’ll have to talk. I am living on Aleve and trying to ignore the pain.

Good things? SO many good things! I was Guest of Honor at Malice Domestic, and wow wow wow, my feet are still not touching the ground. If I start describing it, I will gush, but it was one of the most joyous occasions of my life. 

The tulips! Are glorious at our house, the ones the squirrels have not nipped the tops off of. 




The ducks! Are endlessly hilarious–we watch them way too much! 

The rabbits! Are massive. I mean–massive. And adorable, even though they think our hosta is salad. I saw one cotton-talked bunny sharing duck food with a chipmunk the other day in our back yard–I’m living in a cartoon, it feels like.




And, drumroll, I sent in the final edits of ONE WRONG WORD!  And I am loving it. We shall see! 

(Now all I need are two more book ideas. By like, Monday.). 


JENN McKINLAY: FUN THINGS! Hub and I drove up to Colorado for Books in Bloom in Eagle Valley. It was fabulous. A delightful community and a wonderful event. We took the opportunity to stop in Moab and hike Arches National Park, which was spectacular. 




At home now, I am headed to plot group with fellow writers Paige Shelton and Kate Carlisle. I have three different books to work on - two are brand new ideas - so I am super jazzed to dig deeper into these stories with my crew.


Oh, and spring has been a super bloom here in AZ. Glorious! And yesterday, I saved a fledgling brown headed cowbird. He had a gimpy left leg and was staggering across our  backyard. He could fly a bit but not high enough to get to the top of the block wall, where his parents were pacing. I managed to enclose his space with a lattice and give him birdseed and water. Then I put a small box with grass in it, so he could regain his strength overnight. When I went out this morning, I saw him perched on the lattice and then he flew off. Bye, buddy! 


Also, I haven't watched Welcome to Wrexham but I love Ted Lasso so it seems like something I would enjoy. Putting it on my list. Thanks, Debs!


HALLIE EPHRON: So jealous of Jenn’s trip to Arches and Moab - both on my bucket list. And oh my , the superbloom in AZ. Sigh. And Rhys and Hank, ouch. Seriously, ouch. 


On the other hand it’s spring migration (and nesting for the ones staying put) here in New England and I am taking lots of walks and seeing lots of poultry. A warbling vireo. Tufted titmouse. Yellow warblers. House finches. Along with the usual crowd of robins, cardinals, mourning doves, and song sparrows etc… So much fun watching a mockingbird courting. Leaping in the air and practically doing somersaults as a second, presumably female bird watched without much apparent interest.


I’m not great at identifying bird calls but I just downloaded an app (Merlin) that “listens” to bird calls and tells you what it’s hearing. So cool. It’s free from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home), a great site for anyone who’s into birding. 


And we took a walk in the Arnold Arboretum last weekend and the lilacs, massive amounts of them, were in full bloom… at least a week early.


LUCY BURDETTE: Just a quick something good–I’m enjoying a short visit with my sister Susan (and her hub!) whom I don’t get to see nearly enough. We went on a walk yesterday and I said I’d left my phone home and couldn’t count steps. She said someone told her to treasure, not measure. I think that goes for time with someone you love too!


DEBS: I love all of these things, but I think Hank's rabbit and chipmunk win the cute prize!


Hallie, we are addicted to Merlin! We've had migrating birds this week that we've never heard before.


Rhys, we will expect a report on the ABBA concert!


How about you, lovely REDs? Any high points from your week you'd like to share?



60 comments:

  1. So much to enjoy . . . the flowers are blooming everywhere, the deer are politely wandering through . . . it's all lovely.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So many good things! Debs, your porch looks so inviting. Hank and Rhys, I also just had oral surgery three weeks ago. No fun! Hope you both feel better soon.

    Currently in a hotel near the Phoenix airport, flying home tomorrow morning. We were in Tucson for several days for a conference, and I got to spend time with my favorite cousin and his wife. We hiked in Sabino Canyon among spectacular blooming cactus and Palo verdes. I've never been to the desert this time of year before, and apparently chose the right year to do so!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karen, I love that hike! And the blooming desert is spectacular. ( Rhys)

      Delete
  3. My week at work went well. In fact, it wasn't high pressure stress, which was the first time in a month.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Feel better soon, Rhys and Hank. Hallie, I've had Merlin for a while and love it. It really helped with birds in Puerto Rico I couldn't quite see because of the lush foliage.

    After my start-of-the-week COVID-positive test and being quite ill for a couple of days, I am truly on the mend. I finished the Paxlovid last night (nasty metal taste, but it helped my recovery so much). I'm slowly getting energy back and have been able to write for the last two days, plus I read four books and lost four pounds.

    Our tulips are lovely, we ate the first garden asparagus with dinner - on the deck - last night, and I had long calls with both my sons. Also feeling grateful Hugh didn't not get COVID from me (he man is not a good patient). Life is getting back to good again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. EDITH: I hope the COVID fatigue goes away soon! At least you were able to read & lost weight!! COVID zapped my reading mojo for many months.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Grace. I am going to ease back into my fast walks very slowly. Reading wasn't a problem, thank goodness.

      Delete
    3. Edith, so sorry about the covid though I am glad the Paxlovid worked for you. A relative caught covid for the first time (fully vaccinated so no need for hospital stay) and tried the Paxlovid. Unfortunately the Paxlovid did not work.

      Good news about your tulips!

      Diana

      Delete
    4. Glad you are feeling better.

      Delete
  5. Hank and Rhys, dental pain is just the worst. Hope that each of you has a painless resolution to your problem. Feel better. Hank, I know you are at MIT this weekend. We need to hear about that, too.
    Debs, your home is lovely. Great photo.
    I lived in Tucson for a year when I was very, very young. I was in a nursery school class that took us out to the desert to see the flowers after a cold, rainy winter. It made a huge impression as I can still remember my amazement, particularly about the blue flowers.
    Hallie, I want Merlin. Thanks for the link.
    Jenn, I saw the photos of your trip on Facebook. It just looked fascinating. Utah has some really unusual formations in its parks. We did a trip several years ago with National Geographic to several South West Parks and wow.
    We were visiting our grandchildren. Jude turned 12 last week and is already 3 or more inches taller than I am. We got to see both boys doing their sports. Also, I saw that Hank will be at the local indie bookstore in August. It would be ironic if I met her down here instead of in New England;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks--I am just home, (it's 3pm now) and it was incredible. Truly.

      Delete
  6. After 6 days of constant rain, the sun finally came out on Saturday. I saw some early-blooming tulips at the park closest to my apartment. The splash of colour and the sunlight really improved my mood. I am going to see the main tulip beds later this week when the 2023 Tulip Festival officially starts on May 12.

    ReplyDelete
  7. From Celia: what a bundle of great news though sending a dental pain free wish to Rhys and Hank. Tooth pain is the worst. Still enough of that. Lovely to hear what everyone is doing. My week has been good too. An unexpected lunch with cherished friend from our NY hod whom I haven’t seen for a long while followed by Julia and boys over to video (haha), our JRW surprise for next weekend. Friday was eldest G’son’s 21st Birthday so sending lots of love etc to Madison WI, where of course he’s in the middle of finals. We will celebrate when we see him. Lots of PT all week and the Coronation. Yes, we got up at 6 and watched it all. What joy and fun. I followed our viewing with our first of the season deck big English breakfast plus croissants and a lovely sparkling rose (American made), which I titled Entente Cordiale. A 2 hour phone chat and catchup with my daughter. Such a treat to have that time with her. And lovely friends brought us an Indian (dinner that is). So another delicious meal with friends enjoyed on our deck which really gives me hope that summer is a comin’.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that you celebrated the coronation with an English breakfast. I love the way the English do pomp and circumstance. Made me wish I could have been in London to be part of the historical event.

      Delete
  8. My big joy is my guest dog, Rosie. My friend Alice went off for 3 weeks to visit family on the east coast and then attend a conference in Montreal and left Rosie with me. It's the first time I've had a dog to take care of since Marley died in 2018. Rosie and I have been taking many walks together. Twice we saw (most likely) Y/T, the male hawk circling in the sky in the area close to the nest. The female (E/J) has been spending most of her time on the nest. I always see her head poking up when I go by. I am so excited about the baby hawks!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Two days in a row, a young bird came on my window sill to check what was going on in my living room. First time it happened here and first time I saw this bird around home. I’m trying to identify it with my guide but not still sure what kind it is. Nonetheless, it made me very happy. I took photos, maybe my daughter will be able to identify it, she knows more than me about birds.
    Danielle

    ReplyDelete
  10. I fertilized the bushes and trees and spread mulch BEFORE today's torrential rainstorms. How about that? Of course, today will be an inside catch-up day.

    ReplyDelete
  11. From Diana: Sounds like a great week though I am sending dental pain free wishes to Rhys and Hank.

    So sorry about the tooth pain. I remember when I had wisdom teeth surgery then dental implant surgery years ago!

    How has my week been? On and off. Some days really bad headaches and other days no headaches. Watched the Live streaming of the Coronation, which had NO captions, then yay! I was able to switch to another Coronation programme with Captions.

    Look forward to reading Julia's post soon....

    ReplyDelete
  12. White throated sparrows in droves singing Old Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody.
    A male and then a female rufous sided towhee (just stopping by to get some bird food)

    We moved the pots of elephant ears and canna out of the root cellar. Some are already sprouting. They are in the greenhouse where the heat should really push them along.

    Also moved out a pot with a Texas Star Hibiscus that I grew from seed three or four years ago.
    Its been through many a winter in cold storage. In the words of Monty Don - 'it's a whopper' at 6 to 8 feet tall.

    The green house benches are full of flats of annuals and vegetables growing happily towards the time when the danger of frost is past. Already planted out cabbages and broccoli and cauliflower.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JC, we get lots of towhees at our Kentucky farm. They're so bossy!! Endless calls of "Drink your teeeeeea!"

      Delete
    2. I drink a lot of tea, anyway, but I love that reminder

      Delete
    3. I love hearing them. One of the sounds of summer here in the Ohio Valley.

      Delete
  13. My two grandkiddos who live nearby are in Junior Lifeguards (ocean lifeguards) every summer. They have to take a timed swim test first before "making" it. Every year they've managed with no problem. But this year my 9 year old granddaughter moved up a notch into a more demanding age group so her time was 2 min.15 sec to swim 100 yds. She hasn't been swimming all year so it required a lot of pre-testing and swimming in the local pool along with every other kid in her grade. Come official testing day - she, her mom and brother (he easily made the time for his older group) and I all went to the testing/pool site run by the City Beach Lifeguards. And she failed the first test by 8 seconds! She was allowed to take a second test and this time she passed!! Our whole family was releaved that she could join her brother and all her friends in the big summer program. They also "get to" jump off an ocean pier as their final event at the end of the program.

    ReplyDelete
  14. So many of you are planting and tending gardens! As I watch the rabbits decimate my burgeoning hostas. Yes, it's hard to outsmart bunnies and groundhogs and other marauders. I'm another one who's watching my grandkids struggle and yay, make it! through the many tests that get thrown at them. And, if I'm allowed a moment to kvell, an unnamed someone in my family has completed her MFA in creative writing. While working full time and keeping her head screwed on.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Debs - I love your house, it looks so charming. I believe you live in Texas, but it reminds me of an English or even New England cottage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we are just north of Dallas. Lots of neighbors stop by to admire our "English" garden. We finally had some rain last night so maybe our lawn will perk up, too.

      Delete
  16. Jenn, I am so sorry I left out your cute hiking photo. I don't know how that happened but I have fixed it now!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I am off to a much anticipated local art festival this morning, but will be back to comment later!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Debroah, glad little koi now has friends. Enjoy the local art festival. Did you pick up anything?
    Rhys, enjoy the concert and hope you feel better soon.
    Julia, congrats to Veronique
    Hank, hope you feel better soon.

    Highlight is I finally have my appointment for my knee replacement surgery.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay, Dru! That is great news. We will be cheering you on!

      Delete
  19. Rhys: Abba concert was such fun. The group was terrific. Music great and the audience all standing, dancing and singing. Went with my daughter Jane and granddaughter Lizzie.Sorry no jumpsuit although there were plenty in the audience and Lizzie reminded me I own white boots. Rats. I had forgotten about them. But I did know all the songs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rhys: sounds like so much fun! I think I like ABBA nowadays more than I did when I was younger! Either way their music is as always great.

      Delete
  20. Julia, also meant to say how happy I am that your family got together to celebrate. How wonderful! We have seen both our kids and grandkids lately but not together. Sigh. It would be so nice.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Everything is blooming and the temp is high sixties. And the tulips! The dogwood and lilacs and weeping cherry and wisteria. Perhaps our long winter is done.

    Thanks Hallie, for the link to Merlin. I’m not great at recognizing birdsong. We have residents in our bird houses, not sure if there are babies yet but certainly the relationships were publicly consummated!

    We watched the coronation live yesterday. Loved that MP in the blue dress. She stole the show.

    ReplyDelete
  22. My peony bush is beginning its bloom. So happy! I love peonies.
    Frank got out his chainsaw he'd brought on this trip and we cut down some trash trees and volunteers that had sprung up. The back yard looks much better now. He "planted" my bottle tree for me and I put bottles on it, blue, green, and place savers. In the front, he dug up some grass that was creeping over the brick edging and into the flower bed. Now it looks nice and sharp.
    Our neighbors continue to stop by and compliment us on the changes to our house. New paint makes all the difference. The house was a faded yellowy beigey color. Now it is a light gray with white trim. I'm very pleased with it and happy it's all done.
    Our dog Jack has charmed the denizens of the coffee shop. He gets fawned over, petted, and free bacon whenever he's there.

    ReplyDelete
  23. My Zone 3 (northern) garden beds are waking up. So exciting to see the perennials poking their noses up through the earth. Gardening is wonderful at this time of year up here!

    ReplyDelete
  24. With beach replenishment finally done and me feeling better after an icky reaction to a new med, walking on a wide and beautiful beach in the sunshine, seeing new turtle nests, pelicans, and night herons (immature and adults), lovely sounds of waves…a good ending to the week. Enjoy, all. Elisabeth

    ReplyDelete
  25. High points of my week? Well, bills got paid so even though it is boring I consider it a high point. But in more interesting news, I attended a book event at the Swansea Public Library. It was in conjuction with the Speakers Bureau for the Sisters In Crime New England chapter. They had Joanna Schaffhausen, Kate Flora and Arlene Kay. So I got to buy books, have them signed and talk to all three authors. Oh, and yesterday an advance copy of Joanna's new book (due in August) DEAD AND GONE arrived so I can do a Mystery Scene review. Yesterday was also Free Comic Book Day so that was good too.

    Now if my back would stop aching, things would be just peachy keen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry about your back, Jay, but that sounds like a fun event!

      Delete
  26. Gorgeous weather down here in Norfolk, with everything in bloom. Such a pleasant upgrade from Maine (we'll be there in a few weeks.) Spencer and I went to his beautiful little church this morning, and we are now all lazing about having family fun. Plans include dinner as a waterfront restaurant with a patio dining area overlooking the James River. The real treat, of course, is spending time with all my kids!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Best of health to those suffering any ailment and hoping temperate spring weather holds for those who need it most! My good thing is the mower got fixed and now I'm not the bushy-haired wild one of the neighborhood. Orioles have found the feeder that was my birthday gift from youngest nephew and I spotted a red-headed woodpecker on my daily walk past the woods earlier this week. Everything is greening up--I love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merlin keeps telling us that we have a red-bellied woodpecker but he's been very elusive except for his song.

      Delete
    2. Debs, it could be a female, which is very nondescript in comparison to the showy male. We had one a couple years ago that challenged my bird identification skills!

      Delete
  28. We LOVE Merlin! And just back from a teaching weekend writing retreat and I am ZONKED. But what a good thing it was, too! Love you all..

    ReplyDelete
  29. Awww..thank you! One Wrong Word is out in February! (Thank you for that, too... And I'm pretty excited...xooxo )

    ReplyDelete
  30. Loved reading all of these, but speedy recovery to Hank and Rhys!

    We've got our first real spring day today. Temps in the 60s. I bought hostas to add to the garden yesterday, but am waiting for the anticipated cold snap to end before I plant. Either way, went for a lovely three mile hike in the woods and saw the first pileated woodpecker of the season. For those who don't know, these woodpeckers are huge and were the prototype for Woody Woodpecker. Sometime this week the view will change to Seurat with the lime green leaves popping out. I love those few days, but have never been able to capture a photo.

    Merlin, love it! And iNaturalist for flora identification.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The pileated woodpeckers are so stunning--they look prehistoric!

      Delete
  31. There is so much to celebrate out there, even amidst all the um, stuff that goes with getting older. Several days this week I've been delighted by the bright greens and blues I can see out the window, and now there are reds, yellows, and purples in the yard thanks to my wife's efforts. Lots to be thankful for.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thanks for a chance to list the week's highlights, Debs. 1) Got back home to Bern from a three-week US trip. Lovely to visit loved ones in my native country, fabulous to be back home in my adopted country. 2) Bought all the plants for my balcony (which is my entire garden!) at the nursery on Friday. This year's focus is on purplish-red geraniums (call "neon blue"), tall blue salvia, and hanging white alyssum. I'll plant them all during the coming week when it's not raining. 3) My husband and I went to visit our son in Z├╝rich today; we're just home from an early dinner with him after spending an afternoon together. Being with him always makes my husband and me very happy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a great weekend, Kim. I hope you'll share pics of you balcony this summer!

      Delete
  33. I've been at plot group for the past few days. I have no idea why it seems to revolve around food but I think I'm going to need to go on a diet after so much sugar infused plotting.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Glad you had a good report, Kathy!

    ReplyDelete