My Yard as a Battleground

Yep. I am at war. It happens to some degree every year. I plant flowers in my yard and squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks team up to trample them, dig them up, or chow them to the ground.

The first under attack this year is the gorgeous hibiscus on the patio. You never know what will go first. The critters sometimes have different favorites from year to year. The hibiscus have been targets before. But usually it happens at the end of the summer after we’ve at least had a little time to enjoy them and they’ve had a chance to put on some growth. Not this year. I thought I’d purchased decent-sized plants. Yeah, I did. But when branches are constantly gnawed off, they get thin quickly.

I present my case: see the fallen — downed branches, lifeless leaves and stemless flowers. Unfortunately, I have few weapons with which to do battle. A BB guns stands ready beside the patio door. But since any movement alerts the varmints to our presence, that doesn’t do much good. I’ve tried every chemical and trick in the book –– Irish Spring soap, cayenne pepper, human hair, fox urine, etc., etc. These guys are undeterred. In fact, I’m pretty sure they get a good laugh at my expense.

Sigh. So I’m reduced to the ugliest of options. Chicken wire. See for yourself. Isn’t that lovely?! Caged flowers. All the rage. Really.

The ordeal leaves me frustrated, exhausted and envious of the beautiful gardens I see around me. It shouldn’t be this hard to grow a flower or two!

I’d love to hear your garden success stories. Or, if you just want to commiserate, have at it!

Summer Romance: Five Alluring Getaways

This is for all you romantics out there who are looking for a cool getaway! Bon voyage!

I Luv2cruz!

Ah, the romantic summer vacation –warm days, scenic wonders, interesting things to do together —  a chance to reconnect away from the every day drudgery that saps the amour right out of you.

I’ve been consulting with my romance-writer friends, and we agree that these five trips are the best for reviving the romantic spirit:

  1. Rhine River cruise. Was it the day of castle-lined scenic cruising? The strolls through quaint, flower-filled towns? Or perhaps the gourmet dinners with real French champagne night after night? All I can say for sure is that falling in love again in this setting is as easy as nachtisch.
  2. Italy. Really, just anywhere — a tour, a cruise, a week in Rome — doesn’t matter. Multiple trips to the bel paese may be necessary to explore the full range of romantic options! I would suggest a tour of Venice, Florence, and Rome by…

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Romance at the Grand Canyon

SB2017_020As part of a spring break road trip, my husband and I visited the Grand Canyon last week. I’d done a small plane tour many years ago, but this was the first time for either of us to walk the south rim of the park. Have to say it was pretty incredible. We arrived in late afternoon as the sun was beginning its descent, and the moon was rising. Made for some nice photos.

We stayed overnight in the Village, then went back to the scenic vistas of the south rim the next morning. There were fewer people, and we wandered the path without jockeying for position at the lookout areas.

At one area, a little farther out from the main path, we came upon a young couple enjoying the view, and they asked if we’d take a photo. Lucky them. Their timing was perfect, as my husband is a professional photographer.

Turns out they’d just gotten engaged! And it just happened to be our anniversary. Kind of cosmic. We spent the next several minutes chatting and taking photos. The photos probably won’t be their “official” engagement pictures, but I’m sure they’ll be treasured. Of course, he didn’t take just one. He knew how to place them for the best lighting, and the best composition. And he remembered to have the young woman place her hand where her new engagement ring was front and center. It was a short but fun photo shoot.

I don’t remember their names. We’ll never see them again. But it added to the romance and ambiance of our Grand Canyon experience. This is how memories – and stories – are made. Little snippets. Chance meetings. Unexpected connections. Intertwined with life’s big events.

They don’t know us, but we’re forever part of their story. I love that.

Real flower or cheap plastic?

I’ve got spring break on my mind. And sunshine. And all the things I love to do when we’re in California, like go to the beach and stroll through Huntington Gardens. Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens is one of my favorite places. It’s absolutely beautiful with a stunning Japanese garden, rows and rows of gorgeous camellias, and one of the most incredible desert succulent displays I’ve ever seen.

On my last visit, I went by myself, and was able to go at my own pace, leisurely strolling along and taking about a bazillion pictures. Some of the strangest plants reside in the succulent garden. You might look at the photos here and think I picked up that cheap plastic flower at a craft shop or pulled it from an ancient, dusty floral display at an estate sale.

Nope. This flower is real. That color is real. I’d never seen that color in nature before! It really does look fake, both in color and texture. It grows almost like a yucca, standing several feet tall. With a little internet research, I found it’s called a puya flower. One site even had it listed in a collection of plants “from a bad sci-fi movie!”

I’m not sure I even like it, probably because it doesn’t look real, doesn’t seem to fit in with the other flowers. But it kind of fascinates me, too. I love flowers. I attempt to grow them, but heat, rabbits, squirrels, mosquitoes, etc. prevent me from doing a very good job of it. So I tend to get my flower fix at public gardens. Whether I discover a new-to-me plant variety or just enjoy acres of beautiful color, they’re just plain fun. My eye candy!

Enhancing your Romantic Getaway!

Whether your getaway-for-two is over Valentine’s Day or not, by land or by sea, you can enhance your romance wherever you go — without spending a fortune. Here are some inexpensive and easy tips: Find a garden. It could be right there at your resort, in a park near your hotel, or part of an […]

via Easy Ways to Enhance Your “Getaway” Romance — I Luv2cruz!

Hitting a Milestone

one-thousand

One thousand. Could be a big number, could be small. Depends, right? Well, for me, a thousand is just a little goal I’d like to hit to kick off the new year. I only need a few more “likes” on my Facebook author page to hit that goal and move toward the next.

Want to help get me over that hump? The publishing/marketing gurus say the best way to sell a book is by word of mouth. You know, you tell a friend about this great book/author you read.

So here’s the plan. Visit my Darlene Deluca Author page on Facebook. You like the page and tag a friend or two in the comments and encourage them to like the page, too (not this post). They also like the page and leave a comment (so I know who they are), and you all are included in a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card!

It’s easy!
1. Like Darlene Deluca Author on Facebook
2. Tag a Friend
3. Friend likes page and comments/replies to your tag.
4. Everyone gets a chance to win!
I’ll draw the winner Friday evening (or later if it takes a little longer to hit the mark!)
Ready? Go!

Thanks, and good luck! 🙂

 

Of Dodge Ball and Other Indignities

I am not athletic. I’ll just put that out there up front. But it’s probably no surprise, right? Bookish at a young age equals nerdy equals non-athletic. I do, indeed, fit that stereotype. I’m the girl who feared/loathed P.E. class.

I remember the embarrassment of being chosen last for a team, any team (or not chosen at all, and simply assigned as the leftover). I mean, really, who wants a scrawny girl who’s afraid of the ball on their team? I get it.

Endurance is a big word in the sports world, right? It’s important to build up your endurance. To go the distance. Yeah, well, for me, P.E. was all about endurance – enduring the class.

dodgeball-memeI ran across this dodge ball meme, and wondered if it was true. Do today’s kids miss out on the opportunity to be hit repeatedly by a red rubber ball? Oh, the memories this meme dredges up. Dodge ball and Red Rover were among the most humiliating games. I was such an easy target. Remember the chant? “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Darlene right over.” Not sure how that was fun for my opposing teams, but I certainly got my exercise in Red Rover. I could never break through the line, so I spent a lot of time running from one side to the other. Actually, volleyball may have been the worst. At least with dodge ball there was a chance the ball would hit me in the backside, or the leg. But with volleyball, what are the chances of it not hitting my face?! I’m looking up. The ball is coming down over the net. The physics of that trajectory put the ball squarely in my face. Volleyball was pegged as a girl sport. But I hated volleyball, even if it was a girlie game.

Sophomore year of high school we still had a P.E. requirement. For the love of God, would this never end? But, wait! There was a new course offering – drill team. And it could be counted as a P.E. credit. Hallelujah! It meant I could escape the swim semester of P.E. Unfortunately, my euphoria was short-lived. The class was run by a battle-axe of a drill sergeant. And it turned out that her vision of a drill team and mine were quite different. The group ended up being on the hokey side, in my 16-year-old opinion, complete with short white cowboy boots, cowboy hats and vests. If I had hoped to also gain a point or two in the popularity standings by being part of this new half-time entertainment show, it soon became apparent that would not happen. But the opposite was a definite possibility. I could not be on this team. So, it was a P.E. quandary. Go back and suffer through regular P.E. class or endure the humiliation of drill team? In a stroke of good fortune, a friend and I cut a deal with the battle-axe. We were allowed to drop off the team, but stay in the class as long as we showed up and learned the routines. Whew! It was a sweet compromise, but the longest semester of my life.

Okay, lest you think I am completely inept and uncoordinated, let me say I was better with ropes than balls. I was able to climb the long ropes dangling from the gym ceiling, and I did have one somewhat athletic claim to fame. In third grade, I was crowned the jump rope queen. Champion of the entire grade’s jump rope marathon. I jumped the hell out of that rope for what seemed like hours, almost giddy, watching my classmates drop one by one until only one boy and I were left. At that point, my arms ached, and my legs were starting to shake. But I. Was. Determined. I did not stop jumping that rope until I saw him go down. And then . . . well, with my usual athleticism, I basically collapsed. Let go of that rope and sank onto the floor – right down onto my ankle. So, wearing my crown of glory, I was wheeled out of the gym in a little red wagon. Not even kidding.

Ahhh, glory days.

And what are your athletic accomplishments?