Sunday, August 09, 2020

Summer catchup

Just as everyone else is experiencing, summer is different this year...mostly. I am still working full-time, reading as much as I can, gardening, and hiking. No traveling, though. No visiting the kids, or meeting up with them. As Rick Steves said in his recent article in Time, "Be in that group that loves it while we stay home..." So here is what I'm doing that make me say I am loving it at home.

Garden - my garden has never gotten this much attention. Every Sunday, I weed. Every evening after a hot day, I give the flowers a shower bath. I have been fertilizing, pruning, and noting each new blossom. The hummingbirds are having a great time. I think we have a couple of nests that have produced because we went from a couple of birds in June to literally a dozen or more now, doing aerial feats and dogfights all over the yard.

We've made pickles every Sunday for the past month - picking the right sized cukes fresh. I made salsa with tomatoes, onions, and peppers from the garden, only buying garlic as I forgot to plant any! I've made zucchini bread and the most delicious zucchini pancakes - a lot like potato pancakes, but better, I think.

Hiking - Rocky Mt National Park is only 40 minutes away, but they have timed entry this summer due to Covid-19. So we have gotten 8 am tickets for 2 visits in July, 3 in August, and 2 in September. Doing favorite hikes and exploring parts of the park we haven't visited often (aka the west side). Yesterday's hike took us to the site of Lulu City along the Colorado River - 7.4 miles but beautiful, peaceful, and full of wild flowers.

Birding - it's shaping up to be a good year. I got my 249th bird on my life list a week ago Saturday--a three-toed woodpecker. What a thrill! Same day we saw an American Dipper, and we had a Lesser Goldfinch take a bath in our backyard fountain.

TV - after years of prodding, my daughter finally convinced me to watch Once Upon a Time, and it is so much fun! Up to season 3, with Emma, Captain Hook, Snow White and Prince Charming, the Wicked Queen, and Rumpelstiltskin in Never Land trying to rescue Henry. 

Also watching the Rockies win most games. Don't judge me, but I'm liking the Designated Hitter--seems to be good for us anyway.

Italian - I've been in Duolingo's Diamond League for about 4 weeks now, trying to get at least 100 points a day learning Italian. I've been trying to read short stories in Italian, but I still don't have a big enough vocabulary to read much.

Reading - yep, as much as I can. In addition to the books that I've already blogged about, I've read:

Death in a Strange Country - book #2 in Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti series - so enjoying rereading this favorite series about one of my favorite cities, Venice.

Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens - what took me so long to read this? Absolutely loved every minute of it. Hope they make a movie. So good.

 Dressed for Death - book #3 in Guido series - I liked rereading book #2 so much, I just had to stay with Guido for another adventure.

The Perfect Couple, by Elin Hilderbrand - recommended by JoAnn at Gulfside Musing, a neat little mystery set in Nantucket, where I love to visit with Hilderbrand on a regular basis. It was fun, escapist, and enabled me to travel in my armchair.

The A.B.C. Murders, by Agatha Christie - I was reading Eight Perfect Murders and this was on the list, so I felt the urge to read it. Gave in to the urge and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Eight Perfect Murders, by Peter Swanson - another recommendation from a fellow blogger,and it was a so good. A psychological thriller, nice and tight, interesting. Usually I hold off reading mysteries until October, but with everything else different this year, I decided to just read whatever, whenever.

Hope you are all healthy and finding way to love being at home.


  1. I had good intentions about weeding but they didn't happen and I really don't like being outside when it is close to 90. Then I had good ambitions about hiring someone to weed and mulch but it was much more than I expected. Now I have given up, although did buy a new sprinkler and am trying desperately to keep my hydrangeas alive. I have one cherry tomato plant that is sort of thriving but the squirrels eat and reject the tomatoes before they ripen which is a pity (how I detest squirrels). I have been enjoying Louise Penny and wonder how I found her first book boring. I would elope with Armand Gamache tomorrow! I haven't read Elin Hilderbrand but I would like to visit Nantucket. I suspect both will happen simultaneously. And it is much more likely I will visit Nantucket than the Viking River Cruise to Provence that was supposed to happen last May. Alas.

  2. So many good books you've been reading! And yay for reaching #249 on your birding list. That's awesome. :D

  3. Hi Jane,
    This news about your summer so delighted me! Hearing about your current "relationship" with your garden, the hummingbirds, the hikes in the western part of the Park, and of course the books you're reading. How wonderful.
    I just put The Perfect Couple on my Audible "listens." I do that while knitting and need a new title.
    And also just borrowed Where the Crawdads Sing from the New York Public Library--everyone has been telling me to read it. Now I will. So very much good stuff in this post. Enjoyed!

  4. Jane, I so loved your update and how you are managing so well. Your flowers are so lovely, gardening, hiking and reading. I miss not seeing my kids and grandkids and every so often I feel a little stir crazy but, for the most part we are coping well. I'm so happy you loved Eight Perfect Murders (me too) and, I've read 3 of the 8 books from the list in the last few months as well...Double Indemnity, Malice Aforethought and an A.Christie one as well.

    Hope the rest of your summer goes well.

  5. Your hiking in the park, and birding sound great. I love gardening too. Your pink flowers look amazing! I liked the Crawdads book ... its popularity sure took off didn't it? This past month has been weird as I finally had to travel due to my parents' health ... but it's good you're being smart and staying home. I would've too, but it just didn't work out that way.

  6. Your garden is beautiful, and sounds like it's very productive! I've gotten a lot of cucumbers and tomatoes this year, and I like to make pickles and pickled banana peppers. My space is pretty limited though. I do love summer, even this one.

  7. Your garden looks beautiful. I have a black thumb, unfortunately. But I have been spending more time in the back yard…trying to read but mostly watching the birds. I have a humming bird feeder so I see them often but my favorite thing is observing birds in the birdbath. They are so cute when they bathe. I can only recognize the blue jays and the cuckoos but there are other, smaller types flying around too.

    I believe Reese Witherspoon picked up Where the Crawdads Sing for development. And she has been so successful with turning books into miniseries (Big, Little Lies and Little Fires Everywhere), so I am sure this will be on T.V. soon. :D

    I have a copy of Eight Perfect Murders and wanted to first read all the background books. Right now I am reading The Drowner and once I’ve finished it, I will have read all eight and can start the book. It’s been fun doing the “homework”.

    I do love to bake and I love Zucchini bread. Yum!

    Glad to hear you are keeping busy and staying safe at home. Take care.

  8. Your garden is obviously thriving with all the attention and I am envious of your time in Rocky Mt National Park. Loved our one and only visit there four years ago. There have been so many more birds in FL throughout the spring/summer and a banner sea turtle nesting season as well... likely due to fewer tourists on the beaches.

    I'm so glad you enjoyed The Perfect Couple - a little different for Hilderbrand, I think. My visit to Nantucket this year happened via 28 Summers, which was her retelling of Same Time, Next Year with a few modern touches. A good summer read!

    I though I was late jumping on the Crawdads bandwagon, but I'm glad you're on board now, too. I avoided that book for so long and ended up loving everything about it!

    Glad you're staying safe at home. We've transferred homes to a rental house in CT where we'll hunker down for the rest of the summer. I've been so impressed with the way people in NY and CT wearing masks and taking precautions while out and about. Makes it even easier to understand why FL is having such problems! Take care.