Fribble's Blend

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Location: Jefferson City, Tennessee, United States

Published by: Hard Shell Word Factory ( and Awe-Struck E-Books (

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

As If Life Weren't Hairy Enough...

I was just finishing yesterday's blog when I was assaulted by -- well, I'd classify it as an odor, one that I know is animal in origin and will hang around for about four days, or until we have a good rainstorm. I am at the moment rounding up my rain-dance attire.

Remember, if you will, that we are having more than out fair share of critter troubles. I assure you, we are smarter than to run afoul of the critter in question. Suffice it to say that I wish the Creator had seen fit to arm this critter with more foot-speed as a defense against vehicles. Luckily, the poor guy chose to cross the road at some distance from our house.

Now, if anyone needs an argument against Intelligent Design, I suggest that you put forth as a contradicting example, the skunk! The Creator has a sense of humor -- Intelligent Design, ha!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Something Goes Bump in the Daytime

The last two mornings, I sat here at my computer, going through my usual morning routine -- reading email, playing Bejeweled2 and eating my breakfast (don't you love multitasking?) -- to the accompaniment of something making a scratching or gnawing noise under the dining room floor.

The dining room is also our media center, sewing room and my office. It is the oldest part of the house, built around 1870, and has a root cellar under it. It is by no means critter-proof.

Referring back to last week, you will understand that we have a critter problem. Three -- count 'em, three -- groundhogs have been marauding our yard, accompanied by a yearling deer. My husband has seen the groundhog go under the house, but once he is there, he has ways of escaping's that protective coloration. He's the color of dirt and the root cellar is, well, dirt!

Those of you who watch PBS and love This Old House, my advice is that you not get interested in the finding a quaint old house in the country and purchase it with the thought of restoring it to former glory (if it had any in the first place), because it just doesn't work. It's not the money involved although that is an issue, too --it's the neighbors -- the four-footed ones, the feathered ones, the insects and yucky ones. Ewwww!

Monday, June 27, 2005

It's Not Just the Groundhogs!

The last few days, I have been in a constant battle to protect my garden. Carrying water to the outlying parts of the garden is not the only challenge...There is mildew on the monarda (beebalm). Not only that, the monarda is blooming and attracting bees. I have no problem with them. They are huge, and thus less aerodynamic than smaller bees, so I can get out of their way.

But who else should show up than the Japanese beetles. They seem to like rose of Sharon, monarda and butterfly bushes as well as roses. I use the same mixture of dish-detergent and water on the Japanese beetles as I do on the mildew. In addition to that, I use the same stuff to spray the mealy bugs that are on my ranunculus and hostas.

But yesterday morning I realized, as I looked out the door of the office, we have a much bigger (emphasis on bigger) problem. We have deer in the yard.

So this morning I was saddened, but not surprised, to find that my rudbeckia (black-eyes susans) flowers had been eaten -- eaten! -- down to a numbin not by something that pulled it down to groundhog level, but from above.

Was I accusing the groundhogs unfairly? Probably not. We're getting sounds and vibration like something is gnawing on the wood underpinnings of our house.

I think we are under attack!

Friday, June 24, 2005

A Chat With a Friend

Last night a writer friend called me, and we got caught up on each other's lives. Thoughts of our first meeting still make me laugh.

Our fledgling romance writer's group was meeting in a small bookstore and she came over to sit beside me. After the initial greeting and exchange of names, she asked, "Are there any published authors in this group?"

"Yes," I said, and wondered just how much I should say.

"Oh! Who?"

"I'm published," I said.

"Really? How many books do you have?"

"Five," I told her.

She looked over her shoulder toward the door, perhaps just a bit of panic hitting her.

In truth, I was the only published writer in the group at that time, and it was just dumb luck that she sat down by me.

We became good friends and I'm so proud that she's gone on to have three books sold and another in the works. She's served several terms in various offices in the group, while I've dropped out, no longer getting anything positive from the association, and feeling drained from contributing and not getting much back.

Good friends can come out of less-than-favorable situations. And a few good laughs tide you over!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Irony of Gardening

Something struck me today as I was stirring fertilizer into a watering can full of water.

I water the garden and fertilize it with water-soluable stuff -- and then I have to pull weeds that grow around the plants, and also trim some wayward bits from the plants. Something is wrong there, don't you think?

I need to go think about this some more.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

My New Toy

Yesterday I bought a new toy. Now, the last new toy I bought was very expensive. This one was not. Both were sewing machines. The new one does a fraction of what the older one does -- but that is fine with me. I'm hoping to use it to quilt. But it might not work for that. No problem -- I have a granddaughter who will be going off to college and will need something to sew with. (Her mother made spare change repairing zippers and mending precious pairs of jeans.)

So what is my first project on this little guy? I'm making a nightgown. It's like this. I embroidered the yoke for it, then made the skirt. Then I put both pieces away -- obviously in separate places at different times. Now I can find the yoke but not the skirt. Looked high and low, in's around here somewhere, but I don't know where. And I need the nightgown. So I've made a new skirt. When the other one shows up, I'll make a new yoke. No problem there. And I'll have two nightgowns, whereas now I'm wearing sweat shirts and sweat pants. It's summer -- time for muslin!

Monday, June 20, 2005

It Wasn't Hubby's Fault

Usually when garden-variety mistakes are made around here, it is hubby who makes them. The other day I looked down at the ground and found a limp pansy plant in the middle of the yard, having been pulled up roots and all. Pansies, of course, a my favorite flowers and blue ones are sacred to me. I chastised my husband for the occurrence, but not severely.

Later, I found the leaves had been stripped from my dear hibiscus...and then, to my horror, I spotted the true culprit -- a groundhog, in fact two! Marmota monax to be correct. I immediately instructed hubby to check them for pansy-breath!

They are making a feast of my garden -- cosmos, larkspurs, hollyhocks, basil both green and purple! They think we are a market! What to do, what to do!!!

I am a peace-loving non-violent type -- but they've got to go. I know that when the man who mows, rakes and bales our hay entered the hayfield, he scared them, but as soon as he removes the hay, they won't be disturbed until fall. They can go into their holes by the cedar tree and live the good life -- so long as they stay out of my garden.

An oldtime option would be to pour lye down the holes and they would die when they licked the lye off their little clawed feet. Ewwww! We can't bear the thought of that! The Animal Control people might come and trap and relocate them. They were not effective in trapping a stray dog who adopted us last year. So that's out.

Now, we have a neighbor who is of Native American lineage. He likes groundhogs, properly seasoned, cooked and accompanied by vegetables. This brings up the option of copying down his recipe for groundhog stew and posting it at groundhog eye-level.

I'm afraid that might take too long to act. They may have gone through my dill, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme by then. My foxglove, monarda, geraniums and delphinium are in peril.

There is another neighbor who is a crack shot...we shall see!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Gardening Downs and Ups

Most of the time, I garden with a smile on my face -- and mud on my hands. Dodging the bubblebees can be a challenge but I appreciate their work and their aerodynamic challenge.

But there are times when gardening can break your heart. Today I discovered that all the mature leaves have been stripped off my hibiscus. I've had that bush since '93 when I had my eye surgery, and I have babied it through a move from Florida to Tennessee, and through summer and winter.

Then I discovered that all the leaves had been broken or eaten off a Bleeding Heart I had just gotten last year. It hasn't had a chance to show what it can do.

I've had to console myself today with looking eye-to-eye into a dark blue delphinium, and planting a huge (by my standards but I know where there's a bigger one) Elephant Ear bulb in a big pot so that it can grow in the perennial garden. I think the Elephant Ear is going to be dark purple because the growing points on it are pink.

The joy of gardening is in the anticipation.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Thoughts On Summer Chores On A Hot Day

It's hot today! We live in the country in a house with lots of shady trees, and here it is usually about ten degrees cooler than at McGee-Tyson Airport, Knoxville or Oak Ridge. But not today. The sun has been beating down on us almost all the time, and although there is a bit of a breeze at time, it is uncomfortable to work outside for any length of time.

We collect rain water in a barrel under the downspout. I take water out of it to water my flowers, but it means carrying the water from one side of our big yard to th other -- many trips if I water everything. It's amazing how much water we collect from the average shower, but in hot weather is isn't going to be enough.

What I have yet to figure out in over sixty years of gardening it this: How is it that weeds grow and flourish even though I don't water them? Flowers droop and drop their petals, but the weeds keep going!

I guess that is why they are weeds.

Friday, June 10, 2005

It's About Time I Sold Some Books!

I haven't promoted my books for a while. And consequently, I didn't get one of my royalty checks this quarter. Granted, I did get a check from one publisher, so things aren't at a total standstill.

But just to remind you, I write romances that are published primarily in electronic form -- ebooks. You can read them on your computer, your laptop, your PDA -- even your Gameboy if you get the adapting program. There are dedicated handheld readers, too -- like the old Rocket and its descendents.

So I'm going to tell you that I'd really like for you to look into the books I have published by Hard Shell Word Factory. Anyone who can find my blog ought to know how to find Hard Shell Word Factory,, and check on my books -- Jane Bierce is my real/writing name.

If you are a guy, you might think you wouldn't be interested in one of my books. But there are two you might enjoy--ONCE AGAIN A PRINCESS, has a lot of world politics in it, and TIME OF POSSESSION, which is about a football player and a gal sports reporter. Honest, it's probably the best book I've written.

Then there are three other books, FINISHING TOUCH, DEARLY BELOVED, and COLD NIGHT BEAUTY. They cute, short, summer-type reading. Well, maybe they do have some serious thought behind them, but you can easily ignore social justice issues and enjoy the stories.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Healing Power of Ice Cream

It's been a hard day. It was hot and muggy, and I'm not used to hot and muggy yet. I was doing a couple of special projects, and they didn't go right. I had to use my seam ripper; if you are not a sewer, a seamstress, or a quilter, be warned it is a dangerous instrument.

We were expecting our grandson to come to come visit us for a week, and on the way over, our daughter called us to tell us that there was a terrible jam on I-40. But they got here all right. Then my daughter and granddaughter had to hurry back, so we didn't have time to visit.

I was so bummed, I was forced to go out and weed the dianthus and the larkspur. My email was jammed all day -- scads of messages.

But, we had chocolate chip ice cream! I feel better now, ready to face another day tomorrow.

Monday, June 06, 2005

I Love Church Picnics!

Yesterday was Homecoming at our church. We go to a little country church within sight of our house, and on a good Sunday, we have fifty people there. My husband and I are the "new people" in the congregation -- not related to anyone else and only going there for nine years.

Homecoming is something else. Back before we built the pavilion, the food was put out on two haycarts -- one for the food and one for the desserts. It seems that I am the only woman who goes to the church who doesn't think she personally must feed everyone there.

My husband and I make a big dish of pasta salad, with both mostaccoli and rotini, whatever veggies are handy, and his special three-cheese dressing. My specialty is Monkey Bread, hopefully made gooey by the humidity, which was not lacking yesterday.

We've had a new minister for about a year, and he is no slacker at eating. He particularly likes my Monkey Bread. When I noticed no one had taken any from the platter, I took the platter to him, and even though he protested that he was saving it for dessert, he took two pieces.

There was a young girl sitting near him. "Oh! Is that Monkey Bread?" she asked. I held the platter so she could get a piece.

Now I think I've made a convert to the Church of the Monkey Bread!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Oh, What a Gift. . .

Last weekend, we discovered that the CD writer on my computer didn't work, and probably never had since I got the machine -- oh, maybe a year ago. When you got to my age, memory gets fuzzy. My son has a CD writer on him, so it didn't matter until we wanted to copy pictures that were on my computer. Is everyone lost yet? Hm. . . I thought so.

Taking pictures with a digital camera and playing around with the results is so much fun! I've loved taking pix since I was nine years old, somewhere at the turn of the last Ice Age.

But you have to remember to save the result of your last playing around. I forgot.
But as I said once before, you know soon enough that you can go take another picture. Yes, the delphinium in question is still blooming. There was rain on it, though, in the original shot. I remember, because in getting down to delphinium level, I fell onto the seat of my sweatpants. That wasn't comfortable.

But my technique is getting better. It's never too late to learn new things.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Back to Writing!

I've done enough gardening lately that I don't feel able to do any more, so it's back to my writing.

Writers occasionally have great ideas that just don't gel the first time through, so they stop. They only ***think*** they have writer's block...they get bummed out, not realizing that the time is not right. They may need more technical ability, or there is a gap in their knowledge. Anyway, they just aren't ready to go forward.

I've reached back for an old idea and it is much more interesting now -- at least to me. I'm tackling social problems of our society, using a few characters who are beyond "why?" and into "why not?" and possibly into "why not already?"

Maybe the time is right now. And maybe I'm more ready.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Finally, Rain!

I got a break today. Most days I carry water to my gardens, watering all the flowers, herbs and vegetables (okay, so the one vegetable I have is lettuce, and it is bolting), making trip after trip from the faucet back behind the house to the beds here and there around the yard.

But today, we had a steady mist of rain and a chilly wind. So it's not pretty, but it's necessary. One good, steady rain is better than a week of faithful watering.

On the other hand, the exercise is good for me.