A Writer’s Life

22 05, 2023

Backyard Food

By |2023-05-21T10:37:20-05:00May 22nd, 2023|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Gardening has been around forever. Well, at least since the Garden of Eden.

The Pilgrims gardened to survive. Pioneers carried seeds and planted their food for their survival. The economy and lack of food supplies dictated home gardening during the Depression and war years.

Home gardening feeds our bodies and our need for self-sufficiency. If you don’t grow food for yourself, there are farmers’ markets where fresh produce, eggs, and even meat can be found.

We’ve been backyard gardeners off and on through the years. At first, we gardened because we couldn’t afford the fresh (or easily find it) and we wanted to teach how kiddos how to grow their food. The better taste of homegrown has made us continue.

We began with plots in community gardens. Once, when we lived in West Virginia, we plowed our entire backyard and planted a garden. The preserved bounties of that garden fed us well for years.

I became quite proficient in the art of canning and preserving. My jams and canned veggies even earned blue ribbons at many state fairs through the years.

We downsized our garden space considerably when we left West Virginia. But tomato plants in pots remain a standard planting in all our backyard landscapes. This year we expanded our backyard container garden with zucchini, yellow squash, and bush beans.

After weeks and weeks of heavy rain, the sun has finally come out and we’re reaping the bounty.















Nothing better than a meal of homegrown green beans cooked with petite red potatoes and served with a side of cornbread, tomatoes, and canned peaches.

Read more about the history of growing your food here: A Brief History of Gardening.

And here: The Story of farming

And here: Types of gardens

And here for how to start your own backyard garden

15 05, 2023

Scary, Scary Thunderstorms

By |2023-05-14T16:10:50-05:00May 15th, 2023|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

We’ve been having severe thunderstorms in our area for the last three weeks.

A recent storm with heavy, heavy thunder and lightning sent our Finnegan jumping into my lap at the first clap. The next strike practically lifted us off the couch.

I knew it had struck very close because the flash lit up the night like those old floodlights stores used to highlight their grand openings. The beam circling the sky could be seen for miles.

The storms lasted off and on all night.

Finnegan was glued to us. He normally sleeps at the foot of the bed. Not this time. He was right between us.

All I can say is, thank heavens we have a king-size bed.

We realized how close the lightning strike came when we took Finnegan for a walk the next day and saw the lightning scar on the neighbor’s tree.

A second tree, to the right of this one, also had a lightning scar on the backside.

It’s been two weeks of continuous rainstorms. Fortunately, not all have had severe thunder and lightning, but the volume of the water has truly been overwhelming for the area. My phone is constantly beeping flooding alerts.

When you live at sea level, the water has no place to go. Flooding can be seen everywhere. It will drain off or run down to the Gulf eventually, but until then traveling on the roads is quite hazardous. Farmers and ranchers have to protect the livestock.





The sun has come out this afternoon for a few hours. It feels wonderful to see and feel the warm beams. The forecast is for a couple more days of rain and then the typical early-about-to-be oppressive summer heat will return.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ll be so happy. Finn and I truly hate hot, hot days when we can’t venture outside as much as we do the thunderstorms. But at least on hot, hot days we can hide in the air conditioning, in front of a fan.

1 05, 2023

Quotable Conversation

By |2023-05-01T06:10:51-05:00May 1st, 2023|A Writer's Life|0 Comments

Everyone in our family from the youngest to the oldest has a quick wit and a long memory. This makes the conversation around our meals and family get-togethers lively and always brings tears of laughter when someone blurts out a family quote.

Rarely does a family mealtime go by without a great burst of laughter when someone says, “Mowing the grass.” I’m not even sure if younger family members remember, or know, the full story, but they still join the laughter.

Some sayings relate to events that happened in our lives. Like “mowing the grass.” Other times the speaker will quote from TV and films, or books.

If you spend much time with any of us, you’ll discover that without these quotes our collective vocabulary would be greatly reduced.  In fact, we’d all be pretty much wordless without using those and/or the uncountable song lyrics, movie and TV lines, and book quotes that we all know.

Recognize any of our quotables below? Can you identify which are movie or book quotes?

  • Like a herd of turtles.
  • If I had a nickel.​
  • We’re not in Kansas anymore.​​​​​​
  • Houston, we have a problem.​​​​​​
  • Show me the money.​​
  • There is no try, only do.
  • Shaken, not stirred.
  • Hasta la vista, Baby.​​
  • We’re rich.
  • Help me, Obi Won Kenobi.
  • To infinity and beyond.
  • Beam me up, Scotty. ​​
  • Bob’s your uncle.
  • You can be my wingman any day.

Do you use quotable dialog in your family conversations?

It certainly livens conversations up, at least in our family.

17 04, 2023

Have you adjusted?

By |2023-04-16T12:32:14-05:00April 17th, 2023|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Our spring Daylight Savings Time switches have been around since 1918. I’ve been doing the spring forward, fall back ritual my entire life.

You’d think I’d be adjusted. Right?


I find myself waking up an hour too early with the spring DST switch and an hour too late with the fall change back. My body clock isn’t fooled. It knows when it’s really 5 a.m.

When I was younger, I didn’t pay much attention to the time changes except for the task of changing all the clocks, especially the kitchen clock hanging high above the back porch door. Changing it was my special task.

I remember my daddy holding the kitchen stool, his hands steading me as I climbed up to reach the clock. I remember how the accumulated greasy dust clung to my fingertips and how we’d always wipe off the circular edge before we rehung it. I remember climbing down from the chair and standing beside him looking up.

“Done for this time,” he’d say and lift the chair back to its place in the corner of the kitchen.

From there, we’d move to adjust the windup Big Ben bedside alarm clocks and clock radios.

Next, we sat at the dining table and changed his Timex watch, the one with the genuine leather band. His eyes weren’t as sharp as mine so he’d undo the treasured timepiece from his wrist and hand it to me. He trusted me to move the hands ahead or back, but he never to do the winding.

Lastly, we’d set Mother’s gold bracelet Longines. Her prized possession. It always felt like such a giant responsibility. The watch ran on a battery so we didn’t have to wind it but twice a year we did have to change the time.

Eventually, glowing red or white digits replaced pointy black analog hour and minute hands. Watching the numbers spin around and applying the exact amount of pressure so I didn’t go too far and have to start over was (is) a challenge.

I can still hear Daddy saying, “Slow down.”

Those memories of helping Daddy are the best part of the DST changes for me. I miss that ritual. Adjusting to all the time switches, not so much.

It’ll be time for the reset fall back change again before I’ve settled into the new daylight time.

3 04, 2023


By |2023-04-01T08:43:10-05:00April 3rd, 2023|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Growing up hand-me-downs and mended defined most of our clothing.

There were everyday school clothes, play clothes, and Sunday/dress-up clothes. You didn’t wear a Sunday outfit to school unless it was a special occasion and you never ever wore your good things to play in.

Dresses, jeans, shorts, and shoes were passed between siblings and cousins, and friends. We’ve carried that tradition down, always passing good clothing and stuff we can’t use on to friends and family.

Whenever our family gets together these days, we still exchange what we call the “obligatory bag.” Inside can be clothing, shoes, magazines, food, or any manner of re-useable household items to pass along.

In a recent exchange, my youngest daughter passed on some sneakers for me.

I have to smile. As the youngest child, she wasn’t always excited about her hand-me-down, homemade wardrobe. She rarely got brand-new, store-bought things. Now she’s carrying on the tradition in reverse—hand-me-ups.

I love my “new” bright pink sneakers.

27 03, 2023

The Garden

By |2023-03-27T09:11:30-05:00March 27th, 2023|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Gardens are gifts to ourselves and wildlife. The once sadly neglected gardens at our home are once again a place of refuge for humans as well as animals and birds. It’s taken time, back-breaking labor, and lots of patience.

The previous owners hadn’t been able to keep things up, but since our house was a designated Certified Habitat for Wildlife, the beginnings were there.  Over the last six years, we’ve trimmed, removed dead trees, cleared brush gone wild, planted, and watered until we had a garden and could sit on the porch and enjoy the view.

There were times of throwing our hands in the air and shouting what’s the point? We wrestled with hoses and tripped over shovels. Our backs hurt. Our shoulders ached.

But we persevered.

What began as pitiful patches of sickly grass, haggard shrubs, sad old crepe myrtles, a neglected dogwood, and a sad tulip magnolia, returned to life. The birds and butterflies came back. Our backyard became a busy wildlife place again.

Then Mother Nature stuck with four days of below-freezing temperatures and crippled our efforts. Our garden sanctuary was once again dead and desolate.

Ugly brown foliage was all we saw from the porch swing. The creek fountain sprung a leak. The birdbaths were abandoned. Gone was the respite of sitting on the porch.

Spring-like weather finally arrived but the yard wasn’t the same. Missing the birds and the blooms, we started over.

We found the pond leaks and sealed them. The fountain flows again.  Water trickles over the creek bed into the pond. A helper cleared the frostbitten plants and weeds, removed dead shrubs, and dug holes for new shrubbery, then spread mulch. College boy neighbors, on spring break and needing cash, cleared the roof and raked debris into thirteen bags.

Weeks later zinnia and marigold seeds are sprouting. Four o’clocks and Cardinal plants are popping up in the dirt behind the patio and fountain. The Angel Trumpet has new growth and the freshly planted Arbor Day seedlings have tiny leaves. Our sanctuary’s begun to emerge again.

Soon we can sit on the porch swing and watch butterflies and hummingbirds feasting on blooms. Birds will bathe in the tricking pond again.

I can’t wait. Come on warm weather.

13 03, 2023

Country Living

By |2023-03-11T11:12:23-06:00March 13th, 2023|A Writer's Life, Make Me Think Monday|2 Comments

Living in the country means living with wildlife. Raccoons, possums, deer, gophers, and armadillos are always roaming around, tunneling through the property.

We see them cross the yard late at night and/or early in the morning. Usually, it’s no big deal.

Unless there’s a major rainstorm and four inches of rain falls in an afternoon for two days in a row.

When that happens, this happens.

Fence posts washed out.

Deep ruts through the yard.

Gigantic dirt washes where the tunnels were.

It’s a mess and dangerous to humans and pets.

We had the holes filled and contacted a wildlife relocation company to trap the armadillo we’d seen in the yard multiple times.

Traps were set around his most recent dig sites.


The wildlife relocator assured us the armadillo would be guided into his traps by the interesting construction.

A configuration that looks like giant wooden Xs leading to the no-kill traps.


It’s been three weeks since the traps were set.

No armadillo inside either trap.

The question now is: Do we leave the traps? Or assume Mr. Armadillo has moved on to more fertile ground because we spread stuff to wipe out all the ants and grubs he’d been munching on?

If we remove the traps, I’m sure the creatures will, no doubt, return to dig tunnels again. They have that inbred sense to know when danger is gone and dinner is available.

So the battle of living in the country goes on. I’m thinking the traps have been up so long the yard will look funny without them. We’re gonna keep trying.

27 02, 2023

Scents of Spring and Dirt

By |2023-02-26T07:44:05-06:00February 27th, 2023|A Writer's Life|3 Comments

Spring must seem lost for many of you who are buried under mountains of snow from blizzards. Down here where I live, the scents of spring are already in the air. Green sprouts dot bushes and trees and temperatures are pushing eighty degrees…in February!

judythemorgan.com We spent a day clearing winter’s carnage of dead leaves and pine needles from the flowerbeds and unlocked the pungent earthy aroma of the black earth. I inhaled the promise of spring’s colorful blooms as the scent of dirt filled my senses.

Memories floated in my head.

~Helping my grandmother weed her gardens.

~Making dirt mud pies and cakes for my siblings to sample.

~Planting seedpods so my children could watch a plant sprout and then produce something edible.

~Hiking in the woods with the pungent smell of years-old decaying leaves and stumps.

I still enjoy feeling dirt. The texture of lumpy clumps of rich, moist black dirt on my hands, with maybe an earthworm wiggling through. Powdery dirt flowing through my fingers when the ground is dry. Gritty dirt dying on my jeans after I’ve wiped my hands.

The earthy smells and memories make me smile.

This morning tiny tentacles of green, freed from all that weight, pushed upward through the dirt. There’ll be another wave of winter and the weeds will return, I’m sure, but today I see the promise of spring.

If you’re looking at snow, hang on spring will come. It always does.

23 01, 2023


By |2023-01-20T13:08:54-06:00January 23rd, 2023|A Writer's Life|1 Comment

Another freeze snap came our way in December. What we call a hard freeze in Texas. Three nights of temperatures below freezing. But no precipitation. That was good.

Nothing like the great Ice Apocalypse of 2021 when we had subzero temps for days and ice came down in sheets. Resulting in no power for days.

This time the power grid paid attention to the weather forecasters. Homeowners made ready covering plants and dripping faucets.

Many still lost electricity as dead tree limbs fell.

Attention, people: You have to keep the limbs away from the electric lines. They break transformers and power lines in any weather or wind if you don’t.

Winter ice storms are uncharacteristic for our area and when they happen the whole place shuts down. Severe cold days for long periods can shut things down too. Ice and snow freeze freeway ramps and turn roadways into ice rinks. Most people stay inside trying to stay warm.

Rain can be as bad as ice. Heavy rainfall leads to flooding. That’s why we have flood stages predictions with rain forecasts here. Water has no place to go. It sits on roads and in fields for days.

Problem is, most local drivers don’t manage either ice, snow, or rain very well. Southerners know how to sweat. Not slip, skate, and slide.

But let me tell you, the Gulf Coast Texas can get COLD. Very cold. We’ve lived in the high mountains of Colorado where temperatures drop below zero but the humidity here makes even thirty degrees feel like -30.

I spend every winter cold snap shivering. But I don’t let shivers stop me. I bundle up, grab a mug of hot chocolate, and let the words blaze.

Don’t let cold weather shivers keep you from what you need to do either, hang on Spring will be here in sixty-four days. Click here to check how many days and hours.

16 01, 2023

The Fitzpatrick Series is finished so why am I sad?

By |2023-01-08T12:10:00-06:00January 16th, 2023|A Writer's Life, Book Release Announcement|0 Comments

Judythe Morgan Fitzpatrick seriesWhen Love Comes Home, the last of the Fitzpatrick Family Series, released in December 2022. I should be excited and anxious to plunge into a new manuscript, only I’m not.

I do have a sense of relief along with exhaustion considering the amount of energy and focus it took to “birth” Sammy and Tiffany’s story.

But there’s also this lonely feeling that keeps creeping in. I found comfort in knowing I had a Fitzpatrick sibling romance to work on every morning and dream about at night.

I miss the arguments where the siblings tried to persuade me to change my outline. I must admit, sometimes what they came up with was better and more interesting than what I’d planned.

After sharing my feelings with writer friends, I’ve discovered I’m not alone. Sluggishness, a lack of motivation, and energy are common when a writer finishes a book. When an author finishes a series that has taken years to complete the feelings are stronger.

It will subside they assure me. Time for me to move on and do the next thing they advise, reminding me all the Fitzpatrick siblings – Andy and Darcy, Becca and Ethan, Sarah and Nick, Josh and Mara, Faith and Blake, Sammy and Tiffany – have found their soulmate.

And that’s true.

So I’ve started a new manuscript. The new characters and I are doing that first 50- or 60-page dance of discovery. Soon they’ll begin to talk to me, and argue, then I’m sure I’ll be able to bid Sammy and Tiffany and the others farewell.

Want to meet the Fitzpatrick Family? Click the links below. Each novel can be read as a standalone story.

When Love Blooms

When Love Returns

When Love Endures

When Love Trusts

When Love Wins

When Love Comes Home

If you have an Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription, you can read all the books for FREE.

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