Sunday bookends: Very little time for reading, building raised garden beds, and country living

Not only did our county in Pennsylvania open up this week but the weather warmed up and people in town seemed to pour from their homes to work in their yards, take walks and go to the stores. My family was outside more than inside most of the days of the week, which was nice, but then I forgot that I hadn’t purchased sunblock yet and ended up with a sunburned face and chest. I was so red I looked like I had painted my chest area bright maroon. I’m more sensitive to the sun thanks to the thyroid medicine I’m on.

My daughter wanted to be outside every day, which is a little different than how it was where we lived before. There is a lot more space in our backyard here. The yard there was fenced in and butted up against the neighbor’s and there was a lot more traffic. At the other house the children couldn’t go out when the school down the street let out because the kids who walked by our house were rude, obnoxious and cursed at my children. I don’t know what happened in the last year or so but the kids from the school had become more aggressive and rude. One day the members of the high school track team ran by and broke a limb off of our tree and just kept going. Another day a kid tried to pull our for sale sign out of the ground and I don’t think it was because they didn’t want us to leave. Then another day a teenager football punted one of the solar lights we had along our front sidewalk for decoration.

So far, this neighborhood is quieter, with less traffic and no obnoxious teenagers or children. Anytime our children go outside, the dog and cat think they have to go out too. That happened at both houses but it’s even more prominent here.

Our cat, Pixel, has become an escape artist, always slipping out the door to go explore. We worried about her getting hit by a car at the old house and sometimes I worry about that happening here too (cars fly off the one back road and up onto our street on their way to the local Agway), but I’m more concerned she’s going to be eaten by a bear. I don’t think she’ll be eaten by one in the middle of the day, really, and we keep her locked up inside at night. One day last week I went outside to bring the dog back in and I found Pixel on the roof of the garage. She climbed back down via the roof over the wood pile because I think she realized how high up she was. Luckily if she had gotten stuck my son could have climbed up to get her because the roof of the woodpile slopes up from the bank and leads to the garage roof.

I can’t lie and say having her slip out isn’t frustrating because I don’t like to have to keep going outside to check on her. She’s an extremely high maintenance cat some days. She constantly wants me to turn the water on in the bathroom sink for her so she can drink out of it (she’s done this everywhere we’ve stayed or lived in the last few months, including my parents.), she yowls all night if she can’t get to her food (which we have to keep up on the counter so the dog can’t get into it), she yowls all night if she wants water from the faucet or to go outside, and she claws at my feet in the middle of the night if she feels playful and I try to stretch out.

Every once in awhile I think it would be okay if she disappeared so I don’t have to deal with worrying about her, or her antics, but then she brushes up against me for attention. or talks to me when she comes back in the house,and I feel guilty for those thoughts.

Every cat we have had has had an interesting personality and she’s no different. My husband hung up a little decorative sign the other day that features the painting of a cat and says: “cats are like potato chips, you can’t have just one.” That was once true for us since we had three cats at one time and then two, but this cat is like having two cats already so I let him know we won’t be getting another cat to try to prove the saying on the sign right.

On Thursday and Friday my dad and son built boxes for me to build raised garden beds. I had mentioned the possibility to my dad but didn’t know if it would really come together and before I knew it, dad was offering to go get the lumber, brought it back to our house, started to treat it (with linseed oil and then vegetable oil.) then a day later built them with my son’s help. I had planned to buy one of those ready to put together boxes from Lowe’s instead.

I’m not really sure what we are planting in them yet, but we have some time because we still have to haul some potting soil in. I’m sure we will have to buy already partially grown plants because it is getting so late in the season, but it’s been very cold here so we haven’t been able to plant anything even if I had wanted to.

Being outside so much this past week left little time for reading, except for some at night but I was so tired from the day’s activities I ended up not getting very far in my book (Sweet on You by Becky Wade) and kept falling asleep. I have a couple of other books I want to start this next week, including Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth E. Bailey.

This is a non-fiction book and I rarely read non-fiction but it intrigues me because I think it will help me understand the history of the Bible and Jesus more. I enjoy books, movies, and shows that help bring me into a more visceral understanding of my faith. I think this book, coupled with The Chosen show, and writing Fully Alive is helping me do that.

I did have a little time to watch a new show on Britbox (through Amazon) called The Mallorca Files. The show was produced exclusively for Britbox and the main character are an uptight British detective and a goofy German detective who are thrown together on a police force on an island in Spain. The story lines are fairly simple, the mysteries are easy to solve, and the subject matter is fairly clean so it isn’t a hard hitting mystery show by any means, but I think light, humorous and slightly quirky are exactly what I need right now. (And the lead actor is good looking, so, you know..that helps.)

We are still adjusting to the new house and new town, though it is made easier that I grew up ten minutes from here and visited this small town a lot as a child and teenager.

I plan to write a blog post later this week about how small town life differs from “bigger” town life (we went from a town of about 3,000, with a few thousand more in the adjoining towns, to a town of 600) but for now I’ll list a few things that I’m relearning about living in a more rural setting.

  1. Birds are loud. Very loud. Birds also like to talk at all hours of the day, including 4-stinking-a.m. What does a bird have to talk about at 4 a.m.? Seriously. The sun isn’t even up yet. Shut up, bird. (The same bird kept chirping away all day the next day too.). Birds existed in the town we lived in but they must have known to shut up at 4 a.m. because I don’t remember hearing them as often.
  2. Deer like to eat anything and everything, including the shrubs at the edge of our property that we only found out this week were ours. Oops. We probably should have looked at our deed a little closer when we bid on the place.
  3. A house in a more country setting means more encounters with Lyme carrying ticks. That means investing in a lot of bug spray and hosing the kids and myself down every time we go in the yard. It also increases my anxiety since my dad has suffered with Lyme for a few years now and I don’t want that to happen to my kids, husband or me.
  4. There will be regular sightings of a variety of animals – from rabbits to turkeys, Canadian geese and their babies, the six deer that visited the neighbors last week, the cats the neighbors just let roam the street (which is fitting since my cat is now doing the same thing, I guess.) and the neighbor says there have been bears in town, but I’m thankful we haven’t seen one yet.
  5. I have to be sure to take my allergy medicine, especially in spring, because there always seems to be more than one tree or plant blooming at this time here in the more rural small town we live in.

If you missed any posts on the blog last week I rambled about the challenges I have in describing characters in my fiction, shared Chapter 4 of Fully Alive and Chapter 8 of The Farmer’s Daughter and shared that A New Beginning is on Kindle and Barnes & Noble.

How about all of you? What have you been reading, watching or doing this past week? Let me know in the comments or share a post with me that lets me know!

19 thoughts on “Sunday bookends: Very little time for reading, building raised garden beds, and country living

  1. Your new situation looks amazing! I love the idea of more outdoor space and wildlife! 🙂 That is our dream. 🙂

    And Pixel is so adorable! But I get you. I have three cats and they are all a handful. Lol. My old man cat is not the same the past few weeks and while he usually annoys the heck out of me I sort of miss him annoying me now.

    Congrats on the garden boxes going up! Little bit by little bit you will get there. Don’t worry about the timeline. There is still lots of time to grow!


    • I missed our one cat annoying me too. She used to yowl for no reason in the middle of the night and we figured out it was because she was going deaf. We had to put her down a couple of years later and I hated it, even though that cat never liked me. We had another cat for 19 years and that cat loved me. She snuggled me a lot. Pixel? She tries to snuggle only at the most inconvenient times and she needs me with her claws so we don’t have a snuggly relationship.


  2. Your new place sounds wonderful!! I can’t believe the teens at the other place, seriously obnoxious!
    So thankful you’ll be able to make new memories in a more peaceful place… By the way the pictures are absolutely beautiful!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yay for raised Garden beds!!! That was my birthday gift from my husband this past week. I mean sort of… he still has to build them and get dirt delivered lol.

    And the birds lol! You’ll get used to them, even appreciate them after a while (hard to believe, I know)! But I am truly glad you’re in a better neighborhood. Goodness those kids at your old place sounded rude! I’m so thankful I’ve never had a bad experience yet with neighbours. Right now, our neighbors are our best friends!! I think I’m more attached to them than my house and my country yard… which says a lot!

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    • I’m sure I’ll eventually get used to the birds but for now I’m grateful my air purifier slightly drowns them out. If that doesn’t work I use the white noise on my phone.

      Those kids were rude and it’s weird but they only started doing this about six months or so before we left so it made leaving a little easier. The one kid even flipped me off when I heard him yelling and thought another kid was hurting him. I went out to help and I got the double bird. 🙄 oh well. I hate to think what that kid’s home life might have been and I did pray for him a time or two.

      I hated leaving our neighbors behind us. Good people. We still keep in touch via text and hope to get together sometime this summer depending on how this virus thing goes.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a couple of small raised planters as well. We don’t plant anything outside here until May long weekend or later, so I’ll be doing that soon. Just a few carrots, peas, dill, tomatoes, and maybe beets. It’s not enough to put any dent in our grocery bill but I think it’s important for kids to see how food grows. At our place in the country we used to have a larger garden.

    Sounds familiar with the ticks. Also when we were at our other place, we would check ourselves after every time we went outside, pretty much. I gave up on keeping them off the dog completely but they have wonderful tick repellant drops you can buy to put on pets’ fur. We used those and also got him a Lyme vaccination from the vet.

    I’m the opposite of you with reading. I read almost exclusively non-fiction. There’s always a problem or question I’m looking for answers to; maybe that’s why.

    Oh, and the birds! I totally get it! When we first moved into (again, the other house) we couldn’t believe how loud they were. We had a whippoorwill screaming outside our window during the wee hours of every morning. 😂 We called it our car alarm bird. In the city we had car alarms; in the country we had that whippoorwill and they sounded nearly the same. I miss the country when spring time comes. (Can you tell?)

    Thanks for sharing all the interesting things going on. Your dad must love you very much and your son looks so pleased, holding that drill. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read fiction to escape the real world I think. I had enough real world working for newspapers for 14 years. I don’t think I realized how negatively it affected me while I was in it but my brain sort of melted right before I left.

      I am discovering I like some non-fiction though – as long as the subject matter isn’t too hard hitting. Yeah… I probably do need some sort of therapy 😜

      We have a flea and tick medicine for both of the animals. It’s hard to remember to check ourselves and the kids but we really need to get in the habit. Lyme hit much dad hard a couple years ago and he still struggles with it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh! And meant to add that yes on the whippoorwill! Now that you write that I think i figured out that is one of my morning callers. This morning I heard an owl. I thought they were nocturnal. But maybe that was the whippoorwill. It’s been so long since I lived in a more rural setting I will have to do some research!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I always wonder how people live around ticks. The rest of your experiences sound so fun, and we watched that “Plant Grow Eat” (or whatever) show you recommended. Now I know to trim my pertaytoes if they pick up Blight.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So good that you and your family are in a more peaceful area. I have also noticed that kids are getting meaner, but I think it has something to do with boredom and their screens they are always on, either social media or video games. My son loves games but when he was little we had to cut back on his time on those things. My daughter got a little addicted to her phone as soon as she bought one herself at 18 and even now at 22 she has to curb back her time on them because she tells me she does not realize how much time they use up. Plus she also notices that she has high anxiety when she is on a lot. It is so hard now days to watch out for our children when it comes to everything they are exposed to. They took away art from the public schools and replaced it with…well, I don’t really know. I do know that when children grow up not being creative or having a hobby or passion for things, they tend to get bored and find trouble to stimulate their lives. There is empathy in creativity, and with the level of narcissism social media has created, our youngest need the empathy skill almost desperately…but sadly this is not being taught in our schools of course.
    I love that story about your cat, so true too. I only wanted two cats but we have three now because we rescued little Alley cat. Alley is such a drama queen. Cats are not loyal normally, so country cats have so many opportunities to live so many lives. We had a neighborhood cat like that. Everyone in the neighborhood was feeding it and believed that cat belong to them, but in reality that cat was a smart one and just adopted many households to feed it.
    You and your family have a beautiful week, have fun with that garden, and remember don’t stress. The early stages of any garden are always difficult. It gets better.

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    • I also have higher anxiety the more I am on my phone or online in general. Facebook does a number on me so I’m barely on it. I comment a couple places, leave some photos and jump off. It’s all too much on my brain anymore.

      It really bothers me they don’t use art as much in schools anymore and I’ve been trying to find a way to include it in our homeschooling lessons more, even if my 13-year old sometimes isn’t interested.

      That cat was super smart! Cracks me up and reminds me of a cat another blogger writes about. I think the cat belongs to her neighbors but she always comes to the bloggers house to be fed and get in from the rain.


  7. Great raised garden beds. Hubby is late getting our garden planted (except for peas) because it’s been so stinkin’ cold in our neck of the woods and too many hard frosts. Just yesterday, he finally put out a few plants. Sounds to me like you’ve made a good move to your new smaller town. 🙂

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    • Yes, there have been frosts every night until this week (as I’m sure you know living in this weird weather state 😉 ) so I haven’t even bought the plants yet. Probably this next weekend. So far it’s been a good move. Hopefully it will stay that way. No place is perfect, of course!


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