Garden Thoughts, Joan Ashby & Solitary Intelligence

I know I'm just now closing my garden down for the winter months, but my mind is already looking toward spring. This is a sign that you're a true gardener at heart.

The first garden catalog I have received so far...

I still had green tomatoes on my tomato plant when we had a light freeze here. I truly enjoyed my fresh patio tomatoes. And I still have chives.

I am already thinking about color combos for flowers and what perennials I want to add and what annuals I want to repeat. 
I really loved the black petunias I had this past season. They were so pretty and looked like velvet. They were the perfect backdrop for the more pastel lavender petunias. 

I don't think I'd tried the frilly style of petunias before, as you see below. But I really loved the look. Reminds me of old-fashioned petticoat layers.

I always have daisies. They've been my favorite flower since childhood. 

I have some perennial daisies I planted this past year, so I'm hoping they will come back up in the containers. I left so many of those behind in Texas six years ago.

What I'm Reading...

"The Resurrection Of Joan Ashby" spans the years when Joan Ashby gets married through the young adulthood of her sons.

Joan Ashby had begun a stellar career as a writer of short stories, winning awards in her early twenties, and had not planned on getting married or having children.

But she meets a charming doctor who captures her heart. And then she finds herself having her first child, though she really never wanted to have children. 

The first part of the book focuses on her doubts and reservations about motherhood. She embraced motherhood, but still missed her old life. 

What I find exceptional about this book is that Joan Ashby makes no apologies about not wanting to have children. 

Though she truly enjoyed and loved her sons, still she could hardly wait until they were grown so she could resume the "writerly" life.

I found this rather refreshing. Too often women are looked down on as being selfish if they don't want to be mothers.

Yet motherhood does not have to be the focus of every woman's life. Men who don't want children are treated differently. It is rationalized that they are just focusing on their career and don't have the time.

Women get kicked in the butt about a lot of things. 
Food For Thought Tidbit...

If you worry or loved ones worry that you are alone too much, here's something that might make you (and them) feel better.

Studies show that your need to be alone might just be a sign of your intelligence. This article might make you feel better about your solitary inclinations.

Book Review: The Deep Dark Descending

Author:  Allen Eskens
Book Title: The Deep Dark Descending
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Police Procedural
Date Published: October 3, 2017
Paperback: Seventh Street Books
Pages: 285 


Homicide Detective Max Rupert lost his wife 5 years ago. No one knows who killed her. 

He fears that he cannot move on until he knows what happened that day at the hospital where she worked.

And so Max struggles to balance his job as a law enforcer with the vengeance he so desires as he hunts down the person who took everything he held dear.

It comes to a head on a frozen lake on the US/Canadian border. 

He has the person who he believes killed his wife right where he wants him. At his mercy.

First paragraph from the book...

I raise the ax handle for the third blow and my arm disobeys me,  stiffening above my head, my hand tangled in knots of shouldn'ts and shoulds, and all those second thoughts that I swore wouldn't stop me. My chest burns to take in oxygen. My body trembles with a crystalline rage, and my mind screams orders to my mutinous hand. For Christ's sake, get it over with. This is what you came here for. Kill him!

What will he do? Will he listen to the deeply ingrained voice of right and wrong that is urging him to stop what he's bent on doing? Or will he get his vengeance? 

Told in alternating time frames, Eskens' masterful words will keep you reading until the very end. 

Excerpt: Chapter 17...
The tide of a man's mind isn't always governed by those conspicuous forces whose gravitational pull is so massive as to be able to bend light.

About The Author
Allen Eskens
Allen Eskens is the USA Today-bestselling author of The Life We Bury, The Guise of Another, The Heavens May Fall and The Deep Dark Descending. He is the recipient of the Barry Award, Minnesota Book Award, Rosebud Award, and the Silver Falchion Award and has been a finalist for the Edgar® Award, Thriller Award, and Anthony Award. His debut novel, The Life We Bury, has been published in 16 languages and is being developed for a feature film.

Allen has a journalism degree from the University of Minnesota and a law degree from Hamline University. After law school, he studied creative writing in the M.F.A. program at Minnesota State University-Mankato, as well as the Loft Literary Center and the Iowa Summer Writer’s Festival. 

Allen grew up on the hills of central Missouri. He now lives with his wife, Joely, in out-state Minnesota where he has recently retired from his law practice to devote the entirety of his energy to writing novels. 

Note: I was given a copy of this book by the publishing company for my honest review.

Cute Mama & Baby Animal Pics

Do you love cute animal pics? How about cute mama and baby animal pics?

I actually have a whole Pinterest board called "Cute Animal Pics."

I feel myself smiling when I gaze at these adorable photos. 



"Aww." Aren't they cute? If these photos didn't make you smile, I don't know what will.

Reading & Relaxation

Lately I've been reading a lot. Over the weekend I read about 800 pages. All of one book. Much of another.

This means I turn off the cable news and stop worrying about the world.

I look at Abi and Charlie, sleeping like little babies. Charlie is always on the left side of me, and Abi is always on the right. I hear their tummies gurgling.

They don't seem to have worries outside this home. Unless it barks. 

Charlie has somehow forgotten about the black speck in the corner of the dining room ceiling. Thank goodness. I hope he doesn't remember it again.

I look out the patio doors and watch the birds and squirrels do their thing. I watch the sun rays slant across the fence, changing hour by hour.

The other day I heard the ducks squawking. I jumped up in time to go out on the patio to look for them before the squawking stopped. 

The resident ducks sounded so close. But no. There they were in  near perfect formation flying far above me.

I often have Law & Order reruns on in the background. It's quite rare that one comes on that I haven't seen time and time again. 

I watch Marisky Hargatay go from young ingenue to middle-aged woman. And handsome Christopher Meloni, who is on so many episodes of Law & Order SVU, leave the show and be replaced by someone else. 

But really, no one can replace him in my book. He was the heart and soul of SVU for years. Not sure why he left. 

But Olivia, played by dark-eyed, dark-haired Mariska, soldiers on.

Regardless of the fictional crimes being played out on TV, it is more soothing to me than much of what is actually going on.

Often I just listen to silence, the true arbiter of peace.

Action At The Bird Bath

I captured a mockingbird at the little bird bath. I had to be quick and so the photos aren't as straight as I'd like. Oh well.
Then a squirrel came to get a drink. At first the squirrel didn't have a lot of company.

But then all these birds started flying in, all upset about the squirrel being there. They don't like to share.


I love to watch nature. Never seems to be a dull moment. In my book, it's the best entertainment there is.


Sunday Thoughts

It's been really cold the last few days. Guess we got a winter weather blast. 

Ah well, it's December after all.

Someone asked where I found the red truck painting. I found it at Kirklands a few months ago. 

I think it was there about ten minutes. I haven't seen it there or on their website since.

I got my red truck that is on the table runner at Hobby Lobby years ago. Someone asked about that too.

They called with the echocardiogram results and said everything looked good. 

The tech who performed the test told me that EKG's aren't always very accurate, so I guess she was right. 

Guess I didn't need to incur that cost. But you never know. 

I've been feeling a lot better this past week. No dizziness in the stores or weakness. Don't know what that was all about.

I plug in my little white tree every morning and enjoy it all day. I love to sit on my couch and gaze at the lights.

Book Review: The Missing

Billy Wilkinson, 15, left his home six months ago and was never seen again. 

His parents and older brother are losing hope that they'll ever know what happened to him.

"The Missing" is about a grieving family that still has a flicker of hope but fears it will be extinguished. 

The story is told from the mother's viewpoint. She tries to keep her unraveling family together. Yet she has suspicions about both her husband of 20 years and her 19 year old son.
Can the people you think you know most, and certainly love most, have secrets they are hiding?

As the weeks and months pass with no leads, the family's faith that Billy will ever come home begins to fade. What if, once he left their home, someone kidnapped him?  

What if, what if? The question that haunts them all. 

But yes, finally there is a conclusion. I didn't figure out just who was keeping the biggest secret until the author revealed it to me.

"The Missing" will keep you guessing until the very end. 

Well-written with every piece of the puzzle finally put into its rightful place, it will satisfy the lover of suspenseful mysteries in everyone. 

About The Author:

‘CL Taylor’s writing is like a lid being screwed down — tighter and tighter it gets, and you know at some point the drama will just explode.’ – Jeremy Vine

C.L. Taylor is the Sunday Times bestselling author of four gripping psychological thrillers: THE ACCIDENT, THE LIE, THE MISSING and THE ESCAPE. 

Her books have sold in excess of a million copies, been number one on Amazon Kindle, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play and have been translated into over 20 languages. 
Cally Taylor was born in Worcester and spent her early years living in various army camps in the UK and Germany. She studied Psychology at the University of Northumbria and went on forge a career in instructional design and e-Learning before leaving to write full time in 2014.

C.L. Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son.

The Importance Of Rituals When You Live Alone

Years ago a friend of mine said to me about her former smoking habit. "It's the getting up in the morning and having that first cigarette that I miss." 

It wasn't actually the cigarette that was so important, she learned after she stopped her daily habit, it was the "ritual" of it, she told me.

I've thought of what she said many times over the years. She's gone now, but I learned a lot from her. And because of her I've come to understand the importance of rituals.

For instance, I used to grab a bowl of cereal in the mornings and sit down in front of the TV to watch the news. But I realized how truly unsatisfying that habit was. 

So now I sit at my little kitchen table for my first meal of the day. 

I typically have cereal or oatmeal. Maybe one or two pieces of raisin toast. I also like a small glass of apple juice. Then I have my cup of decaf coffee.

I may still turn on the morning news in the living room. But it is not the main event that I center my meal around. 

It is that ritual of setting my table for one, arranging my food and drink in front of me, and settling in to fully enjoy what is often called "the most important meal of the day." 

I think that for those of us who live alone, rituals become even more important. 

Some, perhaps missing a loved one, cannot bring themselves to sit at that lonely table, and will maybe choose to just stand at the sink and eat. 

But remember: that first meal sets you up for the entire day. It sets the tone for how you will look at the hours following that meal.

As I wrote in The Single Woman's Holiday Guide, it is vitally important to plan events for yourself, especially when you live alone. 

Many will simply let the holidays pass by without decorating or baking or planning a special meal. Maybe they will just put a TV dinner in the oven and call it good. 

And that's an easy habit to fall into. 

But consider doing this until you have the habit ingrained: Plan every day with a day planner.  

Don't just write down doctor's appointments or a loved one's birthday, etc.

I know it sounds very simplistic, but it can also be very effective. It is a way of making sure you are good to yourself each and every day. 

Maybe plan a walk in the park and then treat yourself to coffee or tea. 

...A drive in the country with your camera followed by a movie.

...A day of junk shopping followed by lunch. 

No matter how simple your plan is, write it down. 

Holidays come only a few days a year. It is the little every day things you do for yourself that make up your life.

The very act of writing down your plans will give you something to look forward to. And we all know how much happier we are when we have something to look forward to.

When you open your day planner for the day, but see your plans for the next few days in advance, you will think of those other days and feel anticipation for those future events.

So get in the habit of putting yourself first. 

Don't rely on others to remember your birthday or an anniversary or whatever. Take control, right now, today. Time is of the essence, as we all know. Don't put this off.

You alone have the power to take your life back and make it truly special. 

Start being good to yourself and plan on many simple but enjoyable events to look forward to.  

Every. Single. Day.

Two New Books In The Mail

We finally got some cold weather. Don't know how long it will last. I went from having the air conditioner on Monday to the heat yesterday.

Still I have some pretty blooms to enjoy. 

The electrician came Tuesday while I was having the echocardiogram. The manager had told me to put the dogs in the bedroom with a note on the door telling him not to open it. 

I got home and there was a message from my neighbor saying that the electrician had been to my apartment, but couldn't do anything because of the dogs in the bedroom. 

The fuse box is in the bedroom. Not sure why the manager instructed me to put the dogs in there then. Because obviously he can't drill into the wall and do electrical work without turning off the power. 

The electrician came back in the afternoon and did the work.

New Books To Read...

Yesterday two new books came in the mail.

The Deep Dark Descending and The Resurrection Of Joan Ashby

Amazon Blurb...
A homicide detective hunts down his wife's killers while struggling between his thirst for revenge and a twinge of conscience forbidding him to take the law into his own hands.

Homicide Detective Max Rupert never fully accepted his wife’s death, even when he believed that a reckless hit-and-run driver was to blame. Haunted by memories both beautiful and painful, he is plagued by feelings of unfinished business. 

When Max learns that, in fact, Jenni was murdered, he must come to terms with this new information—and determine what to do with it.

Struggling to balance his impulses as a vengeful husband with his obligations as a law enforcement officer, Max devotes himself to relentlessly hunting down those responsible. 

For most of his life, he has thought of himself as a decent man. But now he’s so consumed with anguish and thoughts of retribution that he finds himself on the edge, questioning who he is and what he stands for.

On a frozen lake at the US–Canadian border, he wrestles with decisions that could change his life forever, as his rage threatens to turn him into the kind of person he has spent his entire career bringing to justice. 

Amazon Blurb...
I viewed the consumptive nature of love as a threat to serious women. But the wonderful man I just married believes as I do—work is paramount, absolutely no children—and now love seems to me quite marvelous.

These words are spoken to a rapturous audience by Joan Ashby, a brilliant and intense literary sensation acclaimed for her explosively dark and singular stories.

When Joan finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she is stunned by Martin’s delight, his instant betrayal of their pact. She makes a fateful, selfless decision then, to embrace her unintentional family.

Challenged by raising two precocious sons, it is decades before she finally completes her masterpiece novel. Poised to reclaim the spotlight, to resume the intended life she gave up for love, a betrayal of Shakespearean proportion forces her to question every choice she has made.

Epic, propulsive, incredibly ambitious, and dazzlingly written, The Resurrection of Joan Ashby is a story about sacrifice and motherhood, the burdens of expectation and genius. 

Cherise Wolas’s gorgeous debut introduces an indelible heroine candid about her struggles and unapologetic in her ambition.

It is the perfect time of year to curl up read books. When it's cold outside and you know there are harried Christmas shoppers occupying the stores.

Time to stay in and lose myself in books.