vegetable gardening

Vegetable Gardening For Non-Rabbits

I planted a garden yesterday.

Well, it wasn’t actually as simple as that. I spent weeks dithering over how big it should be and what I should plant. The most complicated part of vegetable gardening for me was figuring out which plants like to be near which other plants. Also which ones detest other plants. It was a bit like planning seating for a wedding reception when the families involved are the Montagues, the Capulets, the Jets and the Sharks.

Tomatoes like carrots, but they stunt them. Eggplant likes being near thyme, but thyme doesn’t like being near basil. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage don’t get along with some nightshade plants, like tomatoes and green peppers. But they thrive when inter-planted with lettuce. Eggplants, unlike their nightshade family cousins, seem to get along with everybody. It took index cards, spiral bound notebooks, scissors, tape and the ever amazing glue stick to finalize the seating plan.

Then I did the actual planting – Woohoo! So far it’s been two days and I have remembered to water the plants. I talk to them, and tell them supportive nurturing things. Maybe vegetable gardening is my thing. If that was all plants required for a successful harvest, I wouldn’t worry.

But I know the real danger is lurking in the dark.

Don’t let the cute ears and twitchy fluffy tails mislead you. Those sweet little rabbits you see on the lawn at night when you are taking your before bedtime stroll are like Pirates of the Caribbean but armed with teeth instead of daggers.

I’m hoping to buy them off with the strawberry plants. So if you see a rabbit with strawberry mash dripping from its long adorable whiskers, you’ll know where it has been.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.


Birds and Humans: Parallel Universes

The Private Lives of Birds

A family of birds lived in the wall of our house last Spring. They might have been wrens or sparrows. Small birds look alike to me from a distance.

They raised a brood of four most of which raising I missed out on since I am not willing to climb up to the second floor on the outside of the house. Besides, I wasn’t invited to their apartment and I have an aversion to crashing parties.

The part of their family life I did see involved the teenager birds, brash and adventurous. They chased each other from bush to tree to grass and back, stopping sporadically on the roof line where they made caustic comments about the passersby and their dogs.

Once, when the bird family was out running errands, I asked a handyman to close up the entrance. We figured the teens were old enough now to be on their own and the parents might be looking to downsize.  The handyman stuffed some insulation material into the vacant hole and tacked a shingle over the entrance.

But later that week we found the shingle on the lawn. A day later long bits of insulation were scattered around the yard. The family simply settled back into their space as though they had assessed the new home makeover, found it lacking and decided to return the nest to its former decor.

This year, the little apartment is less popular.

A family stayed there briefly, maybe the same one. And a chickadee has been eyeing it recently. Any day now I expect to see a robin with some sparrow clients, hopping along the window ledge. He will expound on the virtues of the place. It’s air conditioned in Winter, warm in Summer, sturdy construction, safe from cats. They will counter with the negatives. The bedrooms are too small, the bathrooms need remodeling, there’s not enough storage and there are rumors of a maniac who wanders about the neighborhood stuffing houses with insulation.

Maybe the original family will come back one day for a family reunion. They will chatter about how the old neighborhood has changed. The adults will compare notes on trees they remember sitting in, delicious bugs they have found in the yard, and funny things the children did when they were young. They may even glance down at us humans occasionally, but without much interest.

We’re hardly worth paying attention to. We can’t fly and we all look alike.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.


Excuses, Excuses. You Know What I’m Talking About.

Rationale, Justification, Song and Dance – All Fancy Talk for Excuses.

What’s the best excuse you have ever come up with? I don’t mean the standard – my dog ate my homework, my car broke down, I have a headache, I thought I could fly if I flapped my arms hard enough type of pretext. Although those are all time tested excuses and stand up to hard questioning.

I’m talking about an excellent and thoroughly over the top excuse, the kind which offers a lofty other worldly reason or a self serving diatribe as a rationale for improper behavior.An excuse so good, you could wear it on a T-Shirt. One you can be truly proud of in a guilty way.

Here is a list of useful and classy excuses to prime your pump:

I eat ice cream by the gallon to reduce bovine unemployment.

I paid my bill late because inflation means my money is worth more today than it was when the bill was due, so you are getting more than you had any reason to expect. You’re welcome.

I arrived late to work because I overslept. I overslept because I stayed up late watching a horror movie. I stayed up late watching a horror movie because someone has to support B Level movie producers and directors. The Academy won’t.

I didn’t invite you to my party because I hate parties and I’m sure you do too. I didn’t want to be selfish.

You, oh dauntless readers, are practically perfect in every way, but I expect you have fertile imaginations or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. If you had ever done anything wrong, what would your excuse be?

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.


Apology Accepted Or Maybe Not.

Knowing how to formulate a proper apology is important for a romance writer.

Our heroes and heroines are often struggling with hurt, either past or present. In some cases the character just has to come to terms with the pain and move on. But sometimes an apology from the person who did the damage is a good way to allow the main character to progress so the story can come to a satisfying conclusion.

The problem is most human beings I know have a hard time apologizing and will do just about anything to avoid it, including pretending nothing has happened.

“What flame thrower?”

Many folks put responsibility for unsolicited forgiveness on the victim.

“You can’t tell me you’ve never considered arson.”

Others blame the victim entirely.

“You’re the person who insisted on living in a flammable house.”

Many people also like to underestimate the impact of their behavior.

“At least your food is prepared for you here in the hospital.”

So in the interest of humanity and not incidentally of romance novels, I have created a Cloze apology template which, for those of you who are not up on education lingo is familiarly known as a fill-in-the –blank sheet. This is not to be confused with Madlibs.  Madlibs is much more fun and sometimes a better learning tool.

Apology Template:

_________(1)_____________, I am deeply sorry I ______(2)_______. I know I _______(3)________ when I did that. (optional addition) I wish I hadn’t also __________(4)__________. That was _____(5)___________. I will try to make it up to you by ________(6)__________ and by doing better in the future.

As an instructional aide, I have included some multiple choices for each blank space.

  1. A. Sweetheart, B. Family Member, C. Officer, D. Neighbor
  1. A. Froze your chocolates, B. Made fun of your purple pants, C. Ran a red light, D. Played the drums all night long on Wednesday
  1. A. Made a mistake, B. Embarrassed you, C. Broke the law, D. Kept you awake
  1. A. Laughed when your front tooth chipped, B. Made up a purple pants cheer and taught it to the entire crowd at the home football game, C. Mooned you as I drove by, D. Invited all my friends in the marching band for a drunken all night practice session in the back yard.
  1. A. Insensitive, B. Mean, C. Inappropriate, D. Inconsiderate
  1. A. Driving you to the dentist, B. Buying a pair of purple pants and wearing them in public for a month, C. Following traffic rules, D. Not complaining next time your motorcycle gang parks on my lawn

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.


Grackles – The Juvenile Delinquents of the Bird World

Two  Great-Tailed Grackles just wandered by the window. I hadn’t ever seen any before, so I looked them up online. Apparently Great-Tailed Grackles usually travel in great flocks of black-blue iridescent blur, wreaking bird level havoc on any area they settle into. They eat whatever they can find, make a lot of noise at inconvenient times and can create a two inch thick ground cover of mess when they are in a crowd.

Much like teenagers.

They love parking lots for supermarkets and fast food restaurants, for obvious reasons. Great place to chat with peers, ogle girls and generally make trouble. The excitement of wondering if a customer will drop her bag must be a big part of the draw. I wonder if they take bets. The winner gets first dibs.

All of which makes me wonder about the two Grackles I see hopping through the grass in a park.

Are they trouble makers? The sorts of Grackles of whom their friends would say, “Pete and Marcie always were a little strange. Kind of stand-offish. But I never thought they would have done that.”

Or maybe they are scouts for a larger flock. They’ll go back to the group and report, “Pretty good grass, trees with lots of branches, one lady, no grocery bags. Meh.”

They could be incompetent dissidents:

She: I believe in the individual. All this society living is bad for the soul.

He: You’re right. Plus, being alone gives us a chance to be ourselves without the restrictions of the flock.

She: Absolutely. If our friends only knew how wonderful it is, they would be green with envy.

He: We should tell them.

She: Great idea! We can invite the flock!

Maybe they’re on a date. Or just lost.

Whatever the case, the news articles online have nothing good to say about Great-Tailed Grackles.

Pretty though.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.


Bees and Their Plan for World Domination

Bees are already smarter than some of us.

So apparently bees are capable of teaching each other to use tools. Not hammers yet. But it’s only a matter of time.

In addition, once a bee learns how to use a tool, it can strategize for most efficient usage. I don’t know whether to feel delighted or threatened by the news that bees are more capable than some humans.

There are humans who are not capable of learning and other humans not capable of teaching and probably an overlap of humans who are not capable of either and all of these can be out thought by a six legged, four winged, five eyed creature whose brain is a small part of her 0.00025 pound body.

No, I didn’t just know that. I had to look it up. What do you think I am, a bee?

On the one hand this news has high embarrassment potential. Well, not for bees, obviously.

We humans have lots of tools bees might want to learn how to use. Tools they might use better than we do. I’m not worried about them using drones. They already have those. But what about tools we consider distinctly human? Electric toothbrushes, for instance.

Bees might enjoy brushing off the pollen residue which clings to their tiny legs at the end of a long day diving into flowers. If they decide electric toothbrushes are the way to go, I might find myself standing in my bathroom with my hands up in surrender as four thousand bees waft mine away.

“Don’t forget the-” I would stop mid-sentence as another four thousand bees carry off the charger. See what I mean about embarrassment? How would I explain my lack of dental hygiene to the dentist?

I can imagine those same bees in their tiny house trying out the brush and muttering to each other “Hmm. Alternating current.”

On the other hand, maybe bees’ capacity for tool usage will lead to good things for us, like more honey. Bees might build factories and flood the market with increased honey production. Honey is delicious and even has some mild antibiotic properties.

But it increases the risk of cavities which is a problem since they stole my toothbrush.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.


Woodchuck, Gopher, Groundhog. Aliases all.

A Royal Visit from a Woodchuck is an honor. Although maybe a painful one.

There is no animal quite as full of himself as a woodchuck when he is sauntering into your garden to pillage. He carries himself with the bearing of a duke coming to check out his feudal holdings. Even when he climbs over the fence you have so carefully constructed, he does so with a regal air.

But apparently, when it comes to hibernation, Mr. Woodchuck is king. Once the air temperature hits forty degrees, he’s out for the count until March or April and during that time he loses half his body weight. Then, I guess, he has to buy a whole second wardrobe to complement his new physique, because he must look pretty svelte.

Of course, hibernation is not only a great weight loss idea. It’s also an effective way to hide from criminal prosecution since a woodchuck is out of sight for about six months and when he reappears he looks like a totally different guy.

Of course, woodchucks aren’t usually identified as criminals in the first place because they wear beaver masks when they rob food banks. And, obviously, there are the aliases. Groundhog. Gopher. Whistle Pig. Toothy Malone. Everyone knows beavers are trouble.

This explains why one rarely sees a wanted poster for a woodchuck at the local post office.

However, if you should happen to see a woodchuck in person, exercise caution. And courtesy. Consider how best one might approach a gangland Mob boss. Well, probably one should avoid approaching one at all, But if you should have to do so, here is the etiquette.

Be polite. Keep a reasonable distance. And bring an offering of uprooted plants from your garden. He’ll like that.

It won’t stop him from eating everything else you planted, but that doesn’t mean you should be rude.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.