When I realized that traveling for work was going to be severely limited this summer because of Covid-19 and it’s related travel issues, I decided to plant a (small) garden in my back yard. I bought several herbs (oregano, chives, basil, two kinds of mint, & rosemary), and I grew a few pots of dill from seed. I also bought a little tomato plant.

I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture of TomTom after he was first planted. I think this is the earliest picture I have, and he’s already getting big!

Looking back, I have to laugh because I wanted to buy two tomato plants and Pierre talked me out of it, telling me that I would have more tomatoes than I would know what to do with. That little plant is now huge, and has been abundantly producing–I’m glad that I listened. Around mid-summer, when I was in full-gardening mode, I decided to try to grow a pepper plant from seed. It’s growing and it’s beautiful and healthy, but I’m hoping it will be able to produce at least a few peppers before the first frost in the fall. Lesson learned….plant early!

Before his first haircut…

Pierre and I tend to nickname our favorite plants and flowers in the yard, and so I naturally started calling my tomato plant, TomTom from the moment he was in the ground. TomTom was little when we bought him and he has grown bigger than I could have ever imagined. The plant is HUGE! I’ve trimmed it back three times already, and he already needs another “haircut.” It’s a Big Boy variety, but I thought the name referred to the size of the tomatoes, not the plant! LOL!

Instead of putting TomTom in a tomato cage, Pierre put a stake in the ground. TomTom just laughed at the stake and grew sideways in both directions, even though I tried to train the branches upwards. My tomato plant looks unique, to say the least.

Trimmed and looking good…

I decided early on that I was going to keep track of TomTom’s yield, and the easiest way to do that is through pictures. The count has begun…

The tomatoes labeled 10-18 are earmarked for tomato soup. I’m going to let them ripen in the window, and maybe add a few more. I’m planning to freeze some of the soup, so I can have it later this fall.

Let the count continue…

19, 20, 21, & 22…
23, 24, 25, & 26…
Homemade roasted tomato soup w/Debbie’s homemade bread!
Ready for his 4th trim! He’s getting wild!

The dill that I grew from early summer, has finally hit the end of it’s growing season. I harvest the last bit of dill (pictured above), which I’m going to freeze for future use. The good news is that I planted new dill about 3 weeks ago, and very soon, I’ll have fresh dill again!

30 & 31…
I can barely believe that this is one tomato plant (8/23/2020)!
I made homemade baked beans with TomTom’s tomatoes
#32….this one went straight from the vine into a pot of homemade zucchini soup that called for one ripe tomato!
This soup is delish! I found a series of cooking videos on YouTube called, ‘Buon-A-Petitti,’ featuring an Italian grandma named, Gina. I FEEL Italian when I watch!
#33–I knocked this little guy off the vine when I was watering. I placed it on the windowsill so it will continue to ripen–it turned out great! Yum!
#39 & 40…
I cut TomTom way back today….he’s still sporting at least 20 more tomatoes that I hope will ripen before the temperature drops too much.

Sexy Exy

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, Pierre and I nickname EVERYTHING–people, animals, places, things, plants etc., so of course, we had to name our new excavator. Sexy Exy–embarrassing, but true, and we started using this moniker before it was even delivered. LOL!

Pierre was at the house in January and February with the sole purpose of cutting down the trees that were choking out the house. The trees were so crowded and overgrown, that someone passing the property, wouldn’t even know that the house was there without previous knowledge of its existence. The trees all had one thing in common–they were huge! When you live in the ‘Land of the Wind,’ large trees (with dead limbs) crowding out a house, are not a good combination.

Big trees leave behind large root systems, hence the need for Sexy Exy. He was set to arrive at the beginning of August, and Pierre was on the look out every day, because we weren’t given an exact delivery date.

He’s here! He’s here!
Brand new and never been used…
What a tough guy!

Pierre knows how much I love words, and one day a few months ago when we were talking about the excavator, he mused, “I wonder if the word excavate is Latin or Greek?” I was on it, in a flash–

excavate (v.)

“to hollow out, make hollow by digging or scooping, or by removing extraneous matter,” 1590s, from Latin excavatus, past participle of excavare “to hollow out,” from ex “out” (see ex-) + cavare “to hollow, hollow out,” from cavus “cave” (from PIE root *keue- “to swell,” also “vault, hole”). Related: Excavated; excavating. (Source:

Sexy Exy is Latin! Yes, that makes me happy, very happy! LOL!

My Coronavirus Camino–Week 19

I did it! I just finished Week 19 of my walking challenge, and I’ve now walked 500 miles! The rules were simple, I decided to walk every day for a minimum of two miles until I reached my goal of 500 miles. This ‘magic number’ is the length of the Camino Frances in France/Spain, which I’ve walked two times before.

The Coronavirus has brought about big changes, not only for me, but the whole world. I didn’t want to become depressed, gain weight, or go stir crazy because of staying inside, so very early on when I realized that I wasn’t going to be leaving home for work for awhile, I decided to be very proactive…and I’m glad that I did.

I walked for 132 days, without missing a single day. I walked through cold days, rainy days, windy days, warm days, humid days, hot days, and hot-hot days. A nice side effect of all of this, was that instead of gaining weight, I lost 27 1/2 pounds in the process!

I did it in my own time, and I FINISHED my Coronavirus Camino!

  • 7/23/2020–2.53 miles
  • 7/24/2020– 2.23 miles
  • 7/25/2020–2.9 miles
  • 7/26/2020– 2.05 miles
  • 7/27/2020– 2.34 miles (Reached my goal!)
  • 7/28/2020– Next Challenge!
  • 7/29/2020– Next Challenge!
Total to finish the challenge--12.05 miles
Total for 'My Coronavirus Camino'--500.99 miles!!!
I reached my goal while I was training in Torrington, Wyoming this week. I found this to be extremely ironic, because I’ve been conducting virtual trainings for months from home, and this was my first face-to-face training since the Coronavirus started!

What’s next? I’m going to keep walking…of course! However, I’m just going to track my miles in one post (100 miles at a time), rather than in a string of weekly posts like I did for this challenge. My next goal…walk 1,000 miles (including what I’ve already walked)!

My Coronavirus Camino–Week 18

I just finished Week 18 of my walking challenge, which I’ve nicknamed, ‘My Coronavirus Camino.’ The rules are simple, I’m going to walk every day for a minimum of two miles until I reach 500 miles. There is no rush to finish–I’m just going to do it! This ‘magic number’ is the length of the Camino Frances in France/Spain.

  • 7/16/2020– 3.16 miles
  • 7/17/2020– 6.01 miles
  • 7/18/2020– 6 miles
  • 7/19/2020– 5.28 miles
  • 7/20/2020– 2.11 miles
  • 7/21/2020– 2.4 miles
  • 7/22/2020– 2.12 miles
Total for the Week--30.08 miles
Total for 'My Coronavirus Camino'--488.94 miles

Oh Yeah! I’m going to meet my walking goal next week! I only have to walk slightly over 11 miles to reach 500 miles!

A few pictures from this week’s walks…

Near the C&O Canal parking lot in Shepherdstown…
I was rewarded with a double rainbow after my late-afternoon walk in the rain.

My Coronavirus Camino–Week 17

I just finished Week 17 of my walking challenge, which I’ve nicknamed, ‘My Coronavirus Camino.’ The rules are simple, I’m going to walk every day for a minimum of two miles until I reach 500 miles. There is no rush to finish–I’m just going to do it! This ‘magic number’ is the length of the Camino Frances in France/Spain.

  • 7/9/2020– 2.02 miles
  • 7/10/2020– 2.02 miles
  • 7/11/2020– 2.01 miles
  • 7/12/2020– 2.5 miles
  • 7/13/2020– 2.02 miles
  • 7/14/2020– 2.05 miles
  • 7/15/2020– 3.91 miles
Total for the Week-- 16.53 miles
Total for 'My Coronavirus Camino'--458.86 miles

The miles may not show it, but I’m still pleased with myself. As of July 15th, I’ve walked 458.86 miles in 120 days. It certainly isn’t about speed, but rather, I’m just trying to reach the goal that I set for myself. Part of that goal included walking every single day for a minimum of 2 miles, whether it was cold, rainy, windy, or scorching hot (I sound like a mailman! LOL!). You can see that I’m a wilting violet, so to speak, and I’ve walk far less mileage in the heat–oh well! LOL! I have 41.14 miles to go! At this 2 mile-a-day rate, I should reach my goal by August 5th (at the latest).

7/11–We walked at Poor House Farm in the early evening…

Green & lush…and hot & humid!

I set a mini walking challenge between my bigger walking challenge…Check it out– Mystery Walk Challenge

7/12–We hit the hiking trails at ‘The Woods’ on Sunday. We had plans to get a 5 or 6 mile hike in, but we got caught in a down pour. We enjoyed ourselves until the rain hit, but the humidity was unbearable, so we decided to cut our walk short.

7/13–Debbie took me to a place called, Sherando Park, in Frederick County, Virginia for our ‘long” walk today…

7/14–I walked along the C&O Canal near Shepherdstown, WV today…nothing new, but the shade was appreciated!


During one of our walks this week, we discovered that wineberries were growing along the trail. Wineberries are considered to be an edible invasive. I know invasives are considered a bad thing by many, but this one is delicious!

So now…what to do with them?
Camembert cheese w/ wineberries & pecans drizzled with honey…
Huckleberry Moscato w/wineberries…
A wineberry & banana smoothie…I have frozen several batches of berries, so there will be more of these delicious smoothies in my future!
Honey & Wineberry Cake…

I’m all about sharing…click here for the recipe

Yes, everyday SHOULD be an adventure! My wineberry journey was fun & tasty!

Mystery Walk Challenge

It had been in the mid-90’s for days, and this week’s upcoming forecast was going to be more of the same–hot! It’s been really hard to get a walk in the extreme heat, so I came up with a challenge for the week, which I proposed to Debbie on Sunday. I suggested that we take turns Monday-Friday, planning and surprising the other with different walking locations. The rules–shade after 5:00 p.m., and we needed to walk a minimum of 2 miles (which would also fulfill my ongoing Camino Coronavirus Walking Challenge). She accepted and we had a great week!

Monday–Debbie opted to go first and we headed to the Hagerstown City Park, which is located in Hagerstown, M.D. We’d both been there before, but it had been a long time since our last visit. It was still hot, but there was a cool breeze and we were in the shade for the majority of the time. The park is home to many types of water foul, including swans and several varieties of ducks and geese.

Are we in London?
Hurry up and take the picture–there’s no shade!

Tuesday–I picked Spruce Pine Hollow Trail for my ‘shade walk.’ Debbie had never been here before, which surprised me, because it’s so close to where we live. It was shady which kept the sun from beating down on our heads, but it was hot & HUMID! The best part of this hike was that it was a NOHOT, which in my lingo means: No Humans on Trail! As you can probably tell by the exclamation marks, this is my favorite kind of hiking!

Wednesday–It was Debbie’s turn again and she took us to the Yankauer Nature Preserve. The back end of the Preserve is situated high on the banks of the Potomac River, offering a nice overlook. Again, we enjoyed another shady location, and we scored another NOHOT!

Thursday–It was my turn again, but we had previously made plans for the day, including a road trip to Debbie’s favorite liquor store in PA (Yes, it’s true, she has a fav! LOL!), and lunch with my sister, Missy. On the way home, we stopped in Williamsport, M.D., so we could meet the requirements of the week—walking in shade!

They had a nice French selection! LOL!
Plenty of shade…

Friday–Debbie opted to stay local for today’s walk and she took me to Poor House Farm. We’ve been here many, many times over the years, but today offered a surprise…the hilltop trail was lined with wine berries, which are an edible invasive related to raspberries. We filled up two water bottles with berries as we walked.


Saturday–Not much of a surprise, but I was really excited about the wine berries, so we went back to get more, and this time we came armed with buckets! We walked and picked for almost two hours…yes, we were in the shade!

Honey? Yes, it’s our New Adventure!

While we were gone, our friend Philip checked on our property and pruned many of our fruit trees for us. During that time, he talked to his friends, Judy and Adrian (who happen to be beekeepers) about our orchard. When they heard about the low fruit yield on a few of the trees, they suggested that we should put a hive on the property. They felt that bees kept near the orchard would help with pollination, and of course, the added bonus would be honey.

Judy and Adrian offered to install and take care of the hive(s), as we would be providing the land. To us this seemed like a win-win proposition. However, we needed to let them know that there was an old rotting hive that they probably didn’t notice, tucked under some overgrown trees on the side of the property. We could see that bees still came in and out of the old hive, but we had no idea what non-care for many years had done to it. We could see (from a distance) that it was in pretty bad shape, even to our untrained eyes.

Beekeeping is one of the things that I have secretly been”geeked up” about for a long time, but Pierre had always said, “If you want to keep a hive, go for it, but I’m not interested in doing any of the upkeep.” Fair enough, but I travel for work, so beekeeping didn’t seem to be in the cards for me….until now!

Judy grabbing some dry grass for the smoker…
Checking things out near the hive…
The lid is off, and now a little smoke to settle the bees down…
Honey comb from the hive…

Judy and Adrian came over to check out the existing hive, and we suspected, it was in very bad shape. It’s rotting and falling apart, and ants have moved in, which is a definite no-no! The original plan was for Judy and Adrian to establish a new hive/colony on the property, but now they plan to move the existing hive, which apparently is even better.

A new hive (bee box) will be brought over, and the bees will be transferred into it. The old box will be removed and probably destroyed. If it’s not destroyed or moved, it will confuse the bees. The bees in the new hive will be temporarily be removed from the property as well. The hive can’t be moved to a different location on the property initially, because the bees will fly to the old site, and not be able to find the new site. Taking them off the property will allow them to “forget” the old location. In simple terms, this will allow them to “reset” their internal “GPS” devices.

This is the honey that was extracted from the honeycomb in the picture above.

I learn best by doing, in other words, getting in and doing it myself, but that isn’t an option right now. Instead, I’ve been watching beekeeping videos in the meantime. I’ve watched lots and lots of videos, and I’m amazed at how much information is available, if you just take the time to look for it.

I’m not able to become a beekeeper yet, but that idea is certainly rising higher and higher on my bucket list! For right now, I’m happy to be a part of this new adventure (from afar!), and I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can from Judy and Adrian.

My Coronavirus Camino–Week 16

I just finished Week 16 of my walking challenge, which I’ve nicknamed, ‘My Coronavirus Camino.’ The rules are simple, I’m going to walk every day for a minimum of two miles until I reach 500 miles. There is no rush to finish–I’m just going to do it! This ‘magic number’ is the length of the Camino Frances in France/Spain.

  • 7/2/2020–2.01 miles
  • 7/3/2020–2.68 miles
  • 7/4/2020–2.23 miles
  • 7/5/2020–6.1 miles
  • 7/6/2020–2.03 miles
  • 7/7/2020–2.58 miles
  • 7/8/2020–2.05 miles
Total for the Week--19.68 mies
Total for 'My Coronavirus Camino'--442.33 miles

I’m getting close to 450 miles—it will happen next week!  I’ve been struggling with my walks lately, because it’s been so hot–mid-90’s almost every day!  To help with this issue, and to help keep me motivated, I started a mini-challenge, which included the the later part of my dates listed above.  Check it out– Mystery Walk Challenge

Enjoying the Simple Things…

The Coronavirus has hit everyone hard in different ways. For me, it stopped me in my tracks regarding travel. I had eleven weeks of international travel planned for 2020, all of which had to be cancelled. My job has radically changed as well, switching from traveling all over the United States conducting face-to-face trainings, to virtual trainings. In the beginning I felt stuck…not just stuck at home, per se, but stuck because I couldn’t really adventure anymore…or so I thought!

Very early on, I set up my “Camino CornaVirus Walking Challenge,” and that helped out A LOT! It got me out of the house every day, and it kept me active. As my life has changed over the last several months, I’ve tried especially hard to pay strong attention to the little silver linings or blessings that we sometime seem to miss in the hustle and bustle of our regular lives…

Since I’m home this summer instead of traveling for work & pleasure, I’ve been able to plant and take care of a tomato plant, and a little herb garden. I’m not joking, this is such a thrill for me!
I’ve enjoyed relaxing in my yard—I’ve gotten a lot of reading in this summer!
I’ve enjoyed hanging out in Debbie’s back yard and spending time with her…
I found and collected wineberries…
And of course I’ve enjoyed walking….lots and lots of it!

Does everything seem different, and does life feel uncertain at times…yes, but I’ve learned that I can still adventure and enjoy the summer, even though it’s much closer to home!