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  • Christine Shuck

Mother Nature, You Are a Finicky Little B...



Beast, Yes, That's the Word...

Question to the universe, will spring ever arrive? Or can we just expect to go straight from rain and the low 50s into summer and high 80s and 90s? Asking for a friend.

Last Sunday...

A miracle happened.


No seriously, it really did.


My husband and teen did a thing, and it...looks...fabulous!


This gazebo kit has been sitting in two boxes in our yard for the past two years. Heck, if we had known how easy it was to put together, it would certainly have been put together much sooner! Oh well, it is what it is.


I was turning over the laundry when my husband walked by with his cordless drill. "Whatcha doing?" I asked.


"It's a secret." He grinned at me and then instantly gave it up. "Alex and I are going to put the gazebo together."


By the time I had returned from cleaning Cottage West and the Hedy Lamarr Airstream, they had finished assembling the cupola and were unpacking the side panels. By 4pm, it was 90% complete. I was stunned at how quickly it all came together!


The rest of it will wait until this weekend when the rain has disappeared and the warm weather has returned. We will finish nailing down the roof, add tar paper, shingles, and the cupola to the top.

As you can see from the last couple of photos, we had a supervisor on site. He heartily approved of the construction until it became obvious our focus was not where it should be, on him. He definitely had some things to say about that!


I've already painted the little ball that will go on top. It is now a brick red, just as the spindles on my porch will be. The rest of the gazebo will be painted a butter yellow.


I don't have many whole bricks left, but I have a whole mess of broken ones. They will go into three different spots...

  1. A jog off of the main path to the opening of the gazebo

  2. A path to the trampoline

  3. An extension of the Airstream pad, which will curve around and head towards the gravel driveway (I hope to extend the gravel driveway another 40' toward the back of the yard).

I'm really looking forward to sitting in the gazebo and watching the kids play on the trampoline and in the yard. After all, our little one will be walking soon, in just 4-5 months!


I've wanted a gazebo for, you know, two decades or more. I think they are beautiful and it already makes a beautiful addition to our yard.


Broken Legs and Chiclets

As the hours flew by last Sunday and the gazebo grew by leaps and bounds, the aforementioned supervisor, a.k.a. YumYum, was not okay with sitting on the sidelines. Unless I wanted to listen to him scream, which I didn't, I had little choice but to sit down with him, hold him, and entertain him.


My family knows me well, though. As my teen passed by, lugging a heavy board, I grimaced and said, "I'd much rather be helping you two build this thing."


Alex laughed and said, "I know, Mom. Dad pointed out that you never ask us to do something you wouldn't do, or expect us to work harder than you would. The only problem is that you are the hardest-working person either of us knows!"


When I mentioned that later to my husband he nodded. "I think I might have told her that you could have two broken legs and you'd still be trying to sell Chiclets on the street corner or figure out how to wheel your wheelchair through the house while vacuuming."


I might drive them nuts with all of my projects, but I do make sure things get done around here!


Who can resist baby cuddles, anyway?!

These days, I usually give Alex a choice - baby watching or hard labor (construction, demo work, cleaning, cooking, etc). More and more Alex is choosing the other activities. There's plenty to do, and it is quite nice to have another set of hands at work alongside my husband and I.

Our Yard - Now and in the Future

Above is a photo of the yard. I took it from our upper rear porch. All the rain has the grass (erm, weeds) growing fast, but in the images below you can probably see how I'm working on expanding plantings along the pathways. I keep it all within two feet of the pathway, and within arm's reach. I like the idea of being able to walk along every single pathway and reach a strawberry, basil, fennel, and more. I'll order 350-500 strawberry plants each year until I've accomplished my goal. I'll also work on propagating the strawberries I have that are established and sending out runners (a bunch of small pots with dirt works great - just stick the runner inside and wait for it to root - voila, new strawberry plant!) Obviously, that's a lot of strawberries. Far more than we can possibly eat. But that's what our guests, neighbors and friends are for! Back in Belton, we filled mixing bowls full of strawberries and gave them to our neighbors. It made everyone happy!

Perennials are high on my list. Perennial flowers, herbs, and even low bushes and grasses. Whatever I don't have to plant again, year after year, is a win.


Eventually, when I have the pathways and surrounding plants where I want them, and far less area to mow, I think I would like to lay down sod in what little "grass designated" areas there are. This means moving our native wild violets to the edges of the pathways as well, since they would be eradicated when the turf was removed and the grass sod rolled out. I LOVE our wild violets!


I also need to move a ton of plants from the hill that divides the Cottage West back yard from ours. We will eventually put in a retaining wall there, and the plants need to be moved before that can happen.


Despite the aches and pains I feel - I love my garden here so much. It has taken a long time to get it where I want it, but it feels great to be out among the flowers, perennial herbs, fruit trees and bushes. So much life, and all organic. We enjoy seeing the bees, the hummingbirds, and more flitting about. Each year has built on the year before and I have planted thousands of plants in the dirt and watched our garden turn from a typical city lot into an urban paradise. It brings me such joy!

Winter's Child

It's been a week and change since I released Winter's Child. I've received seven reviews - all through an ARC review service, Hidden Gems. I'm looking forward to my other ARC readers weighing in as well. So far, the book seems to be hitting the mark with the reviewers.


If you are interested in receiving a free ebook copy of Winter's Child, contact me and I will be happy to send you a copy for you to read and review!


What's Next?!

That is the question, isn't it?


Do I write the next in my romantic suspense series? Do I finish my sci-fi G581 series? Maybe toss in a non-fiction book into the mix? Or do I finally finish The Glass Forest, my first of twelve in a fantasy series I've been dreaming about for, oh, 25 years or so?


The jury is still out, but I'm leaning heavily toward the following projects in this order:

  1. The Glass Forest (it's at 50k words, so it's over halfway complete!)

  2. Broken Code (the 3rd in the Benton Security Series)

  3. G581: Zarmina's World (the 4th in the G581 series)

I'm loathe to dip into yet another genre, but the book is nearly done, whereas #2 and #3 are barely more than outlines. The down-to-earth, practical part of me says, "Less to do until it's complete, so get it done first."


I'll figure it out, but first, I really need to get on top of...

All of These Painting Projects!

I think I should win an award for most painting projects started and not completed. At present, I have...

  1. Hallways and front entry of my home (I began this project in 2014)

  2. Kitchen cabinets project (it is a speckled mess of flat medium blue and the new dark enamel blue)

  3. Porch balusters and deck (I bought the paints last year, but I finally started on it last Saturday)

  4. Outside of Cottage West and deck (there are some areas of Cottage West that we never finished when we painted it back in 2016, that and the deck and ceiling both need touching up)

  5. Airstream deck (I put down the red, but never got around to stenciling it with cream - I'm not sure if I will get to this, but its on the list)

  6. My daughter's room (a few hours is all that it will take to complete, but I seem to be avoiding it - heck, maybe I'll tell her to do it. She's 15, she's old enough!)

  7. My new gazebo (I will paint it with the same paints as our porch)

  8. Spits and spots over at Cottage West (there is wear and tear to operating a short-term rental, I need to attend to spots on walls and re-do the green on the metal chairs)

So, yeah, a lot of painting. But while I'm painting, and planting, and building pathways - my mind is turning on stories and books and words. Never fear, the writing will return soon!

Find Me on Facebook

Join my group General Malcontent's Grumbles and Scribbles on Facebook and get plenty of weird memes, the opportunity to read my newest releases for free, pics of the family, and other author news. I look forward to seeing you there!



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