The Potato Bug Wars

July brings so much beauty. We’ve been enjoying all the colors of the spectrum in our courtyard garden.

Hollyhocks’ velvety petals woo us to their side of the garden.

Tomatoes drip after a sudden shower.

And something we’d rather not see. Potato bugs, gnawing an incredible amount of leaves. We’ve picked them off, smashed them, and applied de-bugging powder. We’ve sprayed on some nasty stuff guaranteed to rid the poor potato plants of these varmints.

But underneath some leaves, there’s another color: orange. It’s potato bug eggs. ARGH!

Masses of them, and out of focus, but you get the idea. Will we ever win this war? This one is nothing at all compared to the war I research, fought back in the forties. Women working in the Women’s Land Army, though, may have battled insects like these.

At this point, I have my doubts we’ll win our little battle. But that’s July…not everything is roses. Still, the world is definitely full of color!

Poppies for Remembrance

Yes, it’s July, not Memorial Day when we see poppies worn by the American Legion. But our neighbor’s beautiful poppy patch is abloom, and enjoying it led me to explore the significance we attach to this flower.

Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote the World War I poem In Flanders Fields about red poppies blooming in the WWI battlefields of Flanders, France. Inspired by McCrae’s poem, Ms. Moina Michael published We Shall Keep the Faith and vowed to always wear a red poppy in remembrance.

This one patriotic woman’s persistent efforts led the American Legion to adopt the red poppy as the national symbol of sacrifice honoring war casualties. The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand also adopted the poppy.

Read more about Ms. Michael here: https://www.alaforveterans.org/features/moina-michael/

It’s good to look into the origins of our traditions and consider their full meaning. Even when tearing down becomes popular, we can choose to employ history to build up.

In the World War II novels I write, this is always my goal.

Pansies In Chair And World War II

I learned today that during World War II, the British Land Girls Army sometimes had to destroy established flowerbeds on estates in order to plant much-needed vegetables to feed the populace. That would’ve been tough for blossom lovers, and even more difficult for the caretakers who had carefully nurtured those beds, sometimes for decades.

Because of rationing, it was “every hand on deck” to provide enough for all of the citizens. Here in the States, women worked in agriculture too…sometimes planting gardens on city rooftops.

Here are some pansies that so far have weathered the heat on our sheltered front porch.

Inspirational Multi-Genre Suspense/Romance Mystery!

Need a good summer read? Lillian Duncan shares how she came up with her latest novel. released on June 26, 2020. And she’s offering a giveaway with THREE winners…see below for how to enter. Take it away, Lillian…

JANE DOE is my latest novel and it’s a doozy! 

What’s the genre you ask? It’s suspense with lots of drama and action…but also a political thriller…this story has a lot of mystery components…but there’s the romance element as well… and let’s not forget the spiritual message! No matter in what genre you classify this novel, it’s one I think you’ll enjoy!

So how did JANE DOE come about? 

I’d finished all my edits on a current book and was feeling very uninspired. I had no idea for my next story, so I went on FB and asked people to send me an idea for my next suspense novel. An old high school friend sent me the suggestion to write a story where the main character struggled with memory loss. 

Mmmm… but the old amnesia plot has been used many times and it’s a big no-no that writing experts warn against. Still, I took the challenge and wrote JANE DOE. It’s definitely not your typical amnesia plot, but the main character is haunted by her memories.

First, because she doesn’t have them, and then because she does!

Raven Marks survives a brutal kidnapping but just barely. Along with a broken body, her mind is broken. Even though she can’t remember the details of her kidnapping, she’s haunted by the thought that someone else is being victimized by the kidnapper she can’t remember.

Her journey to discover the truth leads her to the highest politicians in the state and then the country. Each reclaimed memory brings her closer to the truth—and to even more danger.

I’m not going to give away the plot, but there’s plenty of twists and turns to keep you reading late into the night! 

GIVEAWAY!!

I’m having a giveaway to celebrate the release of JANE DOE on my blog! So hope over to www.lillian-duncan.comand leave a comment on any of my JANE DOE blogs at www.lillian-duncan.com and you’ll be entered to win one of three $10 AMAZON GIFT CARDS! That’s right–three winners! 

Lillian Duncan… turning faith into fiction.

Lillian lives in a small town in Ohio with her husband. She writes the types of books she loves to read. Even though her books cross genres, they have one thing in common, faith-based stories that demonstrate God’s love—and lots of action. OK, that’s two things. 

She was a school speech pathologist for over 30 years but retired in 2012 after being diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors due to Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2), a rare genetic disease.  

Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word. To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit:   www.lillianduncan.com.  

The Lowly Scone

Because of my World War II research, I’ve learned a lot about scones, and have been exploring their origins. Our daughter has recently devised a fabulous recipe for luscious, mouth-watering scones to serve fresh in her cafe. Her father and I buy them frozen to bake one at a time in the morning. Ah…the savory aroma!

Today’s flavor is white chocolate raspberry. Oh my! Compared to the ones I’ve made over the years, well, let’s just say there’s no comparison. (:

Scones are believed to have originated in Scotland, and resemble the griddle-baked flatbread known as bannock. Made with oats and shaped into a large round, scored into four to six triangles, and cooked on a griddle either over an open fire or on top of the stove. But some say this occurred in other locations besides Scotland.

Throughout the centuries, we can only imagine the hoards that scones nurtured to adulthood.

The origin of the name ‘scone’ is just as nebulous as its first locale. 

“Some say the word comes from the Stone of Destiny where the Kings of Scotland were crowned, while pthers believe the name derives from the Dutch ‘schoonbrot,’ meaning fine white bread, or the German word ‘sconbrot,’ meaning ‘fine or beautiful bread.’

“Others propose the Gaelic ‘sgonn,’ a shapeless mass — or large mouthful–as the source of the term scone. Whatever its origin, I can say without doubt that scones produce a smile for my husband after he takes a bite!

Those Special Days

Yesterday Lance gave me these flowers for my birthday.

Notice the message on the mug: CHOOSE JOY. What a perfect instruction for one of those big DECADE birthdays that makes you consider how quickly time passes.

Tonight we watched the Queen’s Royal Marine’s at the Guards’ parade ground just behind Whitehall and next to #10 Downing Street. How fun to watch them perform again, as we did in person two years ago when we celebrated our fortieth anniversary in England.

We’d been walking in St. James Park and happened to notice someone selling tickets to some event. When we realized it was the Royal Marines, we were hooked, and so enjoyed the performance that evening in the stands with Londoners who’d come out for the show. Watching them again tonight is a way to cherish the memory…to choose JOY.

Someday, we might return to England, and I have quite a few other items on my bucket list. I’d like to viisit another American air field we couldn’t get to on our first trip and many other places.

It would be so meaningful to be in Portsmouth again, right on a D-Day anniversary…or across the Channel the Allied troopsD-Day crossed on June 6, 1944. We’ll see.

But whatever memories I make as the years come and go, I hope to make the MOST of them!

June is Bustin’ Out All Over!

Just sharing a few photos from our blossoming world today, and letting you know what I learned about the origin of the WWII grenade box in our side yard. My friend bought the chair/box already painted red. The antiques dealer she purchased it from has no idea where she found it, so that might be the end of this research.

But it was fun while it lasted. Meanwhile, here are some great Iowa backyard pics–Lance takes so many, it’s hard to keep up.

These pictures make me think of a quote I read just this week.

“If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”
Steven Pressfield (used by permission)

SO MUCH POTENTIAL HERE…and in each one of us. Have a great week using yours to the utmost!

Synchronicity

Don’t you love it? You’re in need of something–you don’t how exactly what, but someone comes alone who’s experienced what you’re going through and gives you a suggestion. That happened this week when Ada, an author/visitor on my blog, suggested a liniment she’s used for years for an ailing hip.

Sure enough, my hip is ailing. I obtained some of the liniment and am noticing improvement. Networking helps us find information. And the old-fashioned word-of-mouth still works.

Last year, my good friend moved away from our town, leaving me her cute little red chair and flower box. Right now it’s full of kale and spinach, and as cute as ever near the path on the south side of our house.

In the process of planting seeds in this box, I discovered some synchronicity. On one side underneath peeling red paint, an imprint labels the wooden box as a WWII grenade box!

I had that “Wow! moment when I could barely believe my eyes. This happens to all of us, right? And these moments are the frosting on the cake of life.

Here’s to each of us having many synchronicities, especially during this time of distancing.

Salute to D-Day Invaders!

The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible. Winston Churchill

Many said it was impossible. The Allies had suffered devastating defeats during the past three years. It had been a slow slog to victory in North Africa against the Desert Fox.

But the Allies had kept defending and attacking until they drove the Nazis out of Tunisia. Now, this new challenge loomed: the same menacing enemy waited on the French coast.

Dug in. Invisible. Impossible to defeat.

A white smoke screen provides cover as troops approach French shore.

And yet, an army of young men saw the invisible, felt the intangible, and achieved the impossible. Some of them enlisted even before they graduated from high school, and the cost was great.

Let our gratitude be great, also.

A Beautiful Iowa Morning

You wake to birds delighted to sing their songs, cool air beckoning you to check on those new wildflowers you saw in the ditch the other day. It’s the kind of day you can forgive all the harshness of winter and relish the beauty all around you.

I baked Lance some scones this morning–found a new recipe last time, and they turned out well again. It’s a keeper.

The sunshine, now with us through the evening, the thunderstorm the night before last, barreling through in all its power, leaving branches to pick up but also fresh blossoms in our back yard. We embrace this June morning and venture out to peek at a mama robin o her nest just outside our back door.

The rhythm of the seasons, day and night, seedtime and harvest, sunshine and shadow…these all remind us we are part of something far greater.

The life in this egg will burst forth one day. It’s good to remember this, and that the seeds we’ve planted will sprout and grow. It’s fitting to take time to sense this great gift, a closeness to nature with its irrepressible order.

Especially when evil threatens, we need to pause and reflect on the foundations of our lives, the simple beauty and truth so evident around us. I wouldn’t wonder that World War II women sought and found solace and serenity in their gardens, despite the daily news reports from battlefields far away.