Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Life among the weeds

Not long ago I posted about my bout with the poison ivy in my garden. At least one of you suggested future outings among the flowers should involve a Hazmat suit. I'm beginning to think you're right. However over the past couple of days I've hit on the best solution yet: Hire someone else to do it!!

I love my garden. I truly do, but sometime around the first of July, I lose all control out there. The weeds outnumber the flowers. Trees grow wildly in the tiger lily bed...and in the hedges...and in the crepe myrtles. Everywhere I turned a couple of weeks ago, there were things taller than I am that didn't belong where they were thriving.

I have a really big yard and short of poisoning everything and replacing the grass with Astroturf, I've hit a wall. So I hired a landscaper...not the one who ruined my lilacs last year, but a young man I've known for a while now, one who supplies most of the perennials in my gardens.

Now you'd think that turning this over to a professional would allow me to sit inside and write my books. Alas, control freak that I am, no. I sat on the porch for most of the day yesterday, threatening him with bodily harm if he so much as snipped one flower that hadn't finished blooming for the season. He was very patient with me. His young assistant was highly amused, especially when I mentioned that the landscaper hero in one of my upcoming books was pestered by an annoying woman just like me. I'm pretty sure he'll be first in line when FLOWERS ON MAIN hits stores next spring to see if the hero really is his boss.

Right at this moment there's not a weed in sight in my yard. Everything is heavily mulched. It's all beautiful. I figure I have about 24 hours to enjoy it before weeds start popping up all over. If only my flowers were half as hardy.

What's your biggest summertime frustration? Or your greatest joy? Hate kids tracking in sand from the beach or bringing in flies when they leave the front door standing open? How about backyard barbecues with friends and family? Vacations with everyone piled into the car and road trip games you learned when you were a kid? Let us know by clicking on comments below. Or send me an email at Sherryl703@gmail.com.

And if you know of any way to slow down the way this summer is flying by, let us know that, too. Feels like fall is just around the corner. Don't tell the kids, but it's almost time to start shopping for school clothes. How did that happen?

Oh, and one more thing...I loaned my poison ivy scrub to the landscaper.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Those lazy, hazy, CRAZY days of summer

Isn't that the way it's supposed to be? All that summer fun? All that relaxation on the porch with a good book? All those barbecues with friends and family? HA!!!! Not in my world. And something tells me it's even more insane for those of you who have kids who are out of school and restless.

I've been on a non-stop cycle of deadlines for my new series -- Chesapeake Shores -- which will be published by MIRA in April, May and June 2009. I was right on schedule, convinced I was even ahead, only to have the publisher move the series forward by a month, which meant I was immediately behind. This is not a place I like to be. So what did I do? I invited three cousins and their families to come for a visit . . . on the same day that I was to be sitting outside in 90-degree heat for one of the town's Market Days.

Now the good part of this was that by inviting family, I was able to escape the heat by noon--after getting out there at 6:30 a.m. The bad part was that I got to entertain 9 folks between 50-something and 7 years old for the rest of the day. And, to be honest, I loved every minute of it.

These are cousins I don't see often . . . guys who are not the best at staying in touch. However, they and their families are funny, wonderful people who can make me laugh quicker than any last comic standing. Because we spent many, many summers in this cottage as kids, our shared memories fill me with nostalgia and make me smile. I'd hoped to sneak away to the Outer Banks with them this year at the end of July, but the fates have conspired against me. Next year nothing will stand in the way of making that trip.

Then came the Fourth of July with more friends in town . . . and a yard sale I'd stupidly decided to join in a desperate attempt to get more stuff out of my house. The only blessing was that it was drizzly and overcast, so we didn't roast out there. My friends and I did have the sense to stay put at my house and skip the town's fireworks, hoping neighbors would do their annual display on the beach in front of my house. Instead, we saw half a dozen different shows across the river in Maryland. And fifteen minutes after my friends had left for home and I was in bed, I got to see -- and be kept awake by -- the show on the beach. Timing is a wonderful thing.

And this week another cousin and her friends were in town. Off I went one evening to spend a little time with them. Yet another friend is here this weekend and wants to make plans for this evening.

Now you may not know this about writers, but many of us are solitary creatures, who need peace and quiet and routine to write the books all of you expect from us. My peace and quiet have been shattered. My routine is a shambles. I'm so exhausted I can hardly crawl out of bed in the morning. And my diet, well, let's not even talk about that.

So, how's your summer going? Kids underfoot and driving you crazy? Unexpected guests turning up? Are your vacations wearing you out? Fill us in and tell us how you handle the chaos. Or if you've found a way to make summer a quiet, serene time of rest and relaxation. PLEASE tell me how you've pulled that one off. Just click on comments below and chime in. If you have a lot to say on the subject, you can always submit it as a guest blog by sending it to me at Sherryl703@gmail.com. I'll post it for you.

Meantime, I'm going outside to watch for fireflies. They're quiet, serene and remind me of being a kid on a lazy, hazy summer evening.

Sherryl Woods

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