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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Time of Lilies

(Star Gazer Oriental Lily) 

Liles reign in July. Their stately spires and glorious blooms take centerstage when the Japanese beetles are at their worse and my poor roses are frazzled and frayed. Two years ago, without realizing how big they'd get, I planted bulbs of a large white lily. The image accompanying the advertisement pictured the stalks towering over a small child, so I figured maybe about waist/chest height on me. I had not yet heard of tree lilies and missed the image of these flowers rising above a women. The first season they were big but not like this second year. They're taller than me. Lilies rise from the Memorial Garden like Jack's beanstalk, with an incredibly sweet fragrance. Their pure white flowers scent the air, especially in the evening, but it's always heavenly near them. 

 One of our Old Order Mennonite neighbors called me about these giants. She frequently passes our farm in her horse and buggy and has ample opportunity to admire the flowers. These lilies are like nothing she's ever seen. If I get around to it this fall, I'll divide this clump and give her several bulbs. I also grow the Star Gazer Oriental lilies and a variety of others. Lilies are magical additions to the garden. Last fall I fell all over Breck's lily grab bag sale and wound up with quite a few new varieties. Exciting! But I was busy getting these bulbs in until Christmas. Fortunately, the ground wasn't frozen hard. Last winter was mild. 
Who knows about 2021-2022? 

 My main challenge with lilies isn't winter but spring. I mulch the bulbs well to discourage early growth. Even so, they are almost always lured out by an unseasonable warm spell in April and then zapped by frost. Every spring I'm out covering clumps of lilies to try and protect the sensitive stalks from the icy blast. If a stalk is hit, it's gone. Tiger lilies are more resistant to the cold. I also grow daylilies and they can handle lower temps than the Oriental and Asiatic varieties. These beauties are worth the battle, I remind myself on those chilly spring evenings. They are royalty. (White tree lilies below)

"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say unto you, Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." ~Matthew 6: 28.
Lilies and I have a long history. I memorized this verse (part of a longer passage) as a child and proudly recited it for the entire school. Those were different days. It was a public school in Bristol, Tennessee. I've always liked this passage as it assures us of God's care, but also because of the lilies. I loved flowers even then. I checked to see what variety of lily is referred to in this verse and it seems they are a native red anemone. Very pretty, but not what I'd envisioned. I guess something got lost in translation. Just as well, the word anemone would have gone over my head as a child.

(Above: Red carpet of flowers in Shokeda Forest, Israel. Image by Zachi Evenor.)

If you haven't ever planted lilies, give them a go. Watch for sales. I have several dozen bulbs to get in the ground from a summer sale. I plant them in among the roses and other flowers. A perfect cottage garden plant, the look I aim for, and if you're seeking inspiration, lilies have that in abundance

(Tiger Lilies)

(The white lilies again)

Friday, July 23, 2021


 by Judy Ann Davis

QUESTION: What do you call a snowman in July?

ANSWER:     A puddle.

As I sit here, I realize our hot summer days are gliding by, or in some instances melting away, as we inch toward autumn. If you’re a list maker like I am—if only in your mind counts, too—you realize completing your summer chores and your big hope for writing that blockbuster novel are fading away in your rear view mirror. I’m kidding when I say, blockbuster novel. Insert: Even finishing five chapters of a work in progress.                                                                                    

This year, I took the rights back to one of my western romances, Under Starry Skies. I had no clue how much time and energy is involved trying to get it formatted and republished in digital and print form. Add trying to secure a more colorful and relevant cover and the days seemed to spin out of control. I lived, ate, and slept with “Under Starry Skies,” instead of enjoying being under them, lazing about on my patio during the balmy evenings.

As I reflect on the all the work, I wonder whether readers truly understand all the effort involved with writing and publishing a novel. It’s so much more than creating and writing the story. It’s the behind the scenes tasks: editing, formatting, and collecting inside materials that preface or conclude your work. It’s pounding the keys on social media. It’s advertising. It’s pricing to entice readers.

So as I slog through my many tasks, I do have a bright ray of sunshine. My historical novel,  Willie,My Love, placed as a finalist in the 2021 NEST awards (National Excellence in Story Telling Contest). It had earlier won a Book Excellence Award.

I’ll close with the blurb of my latest republished western romance in digital version—with the hopes that I just might view the real stars in Central Pennsylvania sometime after I finish the print version.

 BLURB for Under Starry Skies:

Hired as the town’s school teacher, Maria O’Donnell and her sister Abigail arrive in the Colorado Territory in 1875, only to find the uncle they were to stay with has been murdered.

Rancher Tye Ashmore is content with life until he meets quiet and beautiful Maria. He falls in love at first sight, but her reluctance to jeopardize her teaching position by accepting his marriage proposal only makes him more determined to make her part of his life.

When their lives are threatened by gunshots and a gunnysack of dangerous wildlife, Tye believes he in the crosshairs of an unknown enemy. Not until Maria receives written threats urging her to leave does she realize she is the target instead of the handsome rancher.

With the help of Tye, Abigail, and a wily Indian called Two Bears, Maria works to uncover her uncle’s killer and put aside her fears. But will she discover happiness and true love under Colorado’s starry skies?

LINK: Under Starry Skies


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Down on the Boardwalk by Bea Tifton

People who know me also know that I am not an outdoorsy person. I like nature, but I can’t take the blistering summer heat and I overtire easily. So, it was a nice surprise when a friend and I had lunch in a neighboring small town on an overcast, cooler than average day last week. We stuffed ourselves with chips, queso, and enchiladas, then decided to explore the new boardwalk in town.

It wasn’t exactly what I expected. I thought it would be a wide boardwalk with a restaurant and a few stores. But it’s actually for people who like to stroll or fish along the lake. There were benches scattered along in case we got tired. We decided to try it out. The boardwalk itself was made of spongy material that felt like those old moon walk shoes I remember from when I was a small girl. It rolled and splashed a bit with the water, but we couldn't feel it.

 As we began our walk, the water made the area a bit cooler and there was a slight breeze. We passed under big trees that kept me from overheating. It felt like we were miles from town. There weren’t any other people in sight, or any birds. I guess they were hiding from the sun, too. The buzz of the cicadas were almost mesmerizing as we walked along. We kept looking over the rails to see if we could spot turtles, but we never saw any. They  were probably with the birds. I did see one baby water moccasin darting away under the water, but he was too quick for me to get a picture. I doubt it would have come out, anyway, as I’m smart enough to keep on the right side of the safety rail. And we saw a couple of minnows, probably glad I scared away the snake. There were colorful dragonflies darting about on the water lilies.

Did I mention the lilies? The lily pads were the size of charger plates, and the lilies themselves were the biggest I’ve ever seen. Their perfume was sweet but not cloying, sort of like magnolia blossoms, which I love. I didn’t even know waterlilies had a scent. What looked like miles of them stretched out to the lake beyond. 





 We finally spotted one lone fisherman, just packing up. As we passed his spot, we saw his line in the tree with his bobber, happy to be free, rolling on the water. No wonder the fisherman was in such a hurry when he saw us.

We turned around to trek back and were just getting overtired when we reached my friend’s truck, a little sweaty by that time, but very happy. It was the perfect day to explore. And maybe we even managed to walk off our enchiladas from lunch.

Rain Trueax is still in a no-Internet zone, but she'll be back in her regular blog spot soon.