Category Archives: My Secret Garden

peaceful places and gardening tips

Spring Flowers: More Than Just a Pretty Face

by Kassandra Lamb (on behalf of the gang)


This post is part of a Spring Fling Blog Hop sponsored by our sister author, Kirsten Weiss. Below is a list of more fun and interesting posts about Spring!

We at misterio decided to do a group post about our favorite spring flowers and what they mean to us. This ended up evoking some interesting insights, emotions, and memories.

We’ll start with the newest member of our misterio press family, Gilian Baker.

Daffodils_flowering pub domain

My favorite flower is the daffodil. When I was a young girl, my grandmother had a big yard full of flower beds, including lots of these delicate yellow buds. Now, when I see them, I always think of her—she was so delicate and lovely too.

They are always the first flowers to come up and point their faces towards the sun in the spring. When I see daffodils and my first robin, I know spring has finally sprung! They don’t last long, but while they do, they bring me great joy.

Vinnie Hansen


I have to go with the big red and pink opium (shhhhhhh) poppies in my yard. These poppies will spring up from casually sprinkled seeds (my type of gardening). I received the original seeds for these flowers from a local woman who was growing the red ones in her yard.

Once I had the red poppies springing up in my yard, a strolling neighbor saw them and offered me seeds for pink ones, in exchange for seeds from my red ones. And so the beauty proliferated.

And we have another lazy gardener, Shannon Esposito.

butterfly flowers

Red Butterfly flowers (Asclepias) are my favorite. Mostly because their orange-scarlet flowers attract butterflies all summer long, but also because they thrive in our scorching Florida summers. All I have to do is sprinkle some seeds and leave them alone.

If my homeowners’ association allowed it, I’d have a yard full of wild flowers instead of grass!

(Then again, I should NOT make fun of lazy gardeners…)


Kass Lamb

My favorite flower is the hibiscus, although I’m fond of azaleas too, and roses… Actually, I love all flowers, but my garden only has a few that thrive (azaleas and camellias). I have a brown thumb, meaning I don’t kill plants right away (like a black thumb person does). Instead, I slowly torture them to death.

I like hibiscus best because they represent the subtropical climate of Florida that I love. Unforntualtey, I’m not quite far enough south to successfully grow them in my yard (and then there’s that whole brown thumb thing).

And another wonderful memory from Kathy Owen.


My fave is the common daylily. It’s beautiful, nearly indestructible, and it reminds me of my dad. When I was growing up, my dad would be driving and pull off along country roadsides, dig up some plants and stick them in his car (if a house was nearby, he’d ask permission first, to the bemusement of the people who saw the flowers as pretty weeds). Then he’d transplant them along our split rail fence until the entire back and sides were lined with them. And of course, they multiply like crazy, so he’d give them away to anyone who wanted them.

When Paul and I moved to our first house, he brought boxes of them to Virginia from Pennsylvania. He and I planted them behind our fence and in the flower beds. Years later, we had to reconfigure the backyard and extend the deck over a patch of those prolific daylilies. I tried to salvage as many as I could but ran out of room, so we decked right over the rest.


For three seasons they still pushed up through the wood slats, trying to bloom!

And last but not least…

Kirsten Weiss

Why I love the Iris? It’s purple. Yay!

And it’s just such a spring flower, reminding me of warmer days ahead.

How about you? What’s your favorite flower, and what emotional connections does it have for you?

And look what Kathy Owen made! A beautiful bouquet of our spring flowers here at misterio press

book covers as flowers

graphic (c) by KB Owen

You can check them out in our bookstore!

And here’s the list of other blogs participating in the Spring Fling Blog Hop!

Allyson Charles:

Conniue di Marco

Gillian Baker:

K.B. Owen:

Layla Reyne:

Kirsten Weiss:

Mona Karel:

Misterio Press:

Shannon Esposito:

Victoria De La O:


We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

There Is a Season For All Things

With spring finally here, after a particularly brutal winter in a good part of the United States, we decided to reflect a bit about the seasons. So we asked our authors this question:

What is your favorite season and why?

Several of them waxed quite poetic with their answers.


The seasons pull my soul along as surely as the moon affects the tides. Right now we’re heading into spring. Spring births restlessness. The kind that makes me want to plant herbs and fairy gardens, clear out clutter and polish everything in my life until it shines like the moon.

We’re just leaving winter behind and I say good riddance. Winter buries me in darkness. Just like a tulip bulb waiting in the suffocating, cold earth, I wait in stillness for the season to leave. My soul mutters, “This too shall pass” as the days grow darker and colder.

Before that came fall. Fall also brings restlessness for me, but a different kind. Fall brings a deep ache for bare Gypsy feet, a need to be blown into unknown places like the brittle leaves when the high winds howl. Fall brings longing for travel, exploration, to be anywhere but where I am.

Shannon and her boys, on the beach at sunset

Several years ago — introducing my sons to sunset on the beach

And then there is summer. My love. The season where I finally feel like myself.

Summer blows my heart wide open with bone- warming sunshine and precious ocean time. I am no longer restless or curled inward. I am alive. I feel my heart beating, overflowing with gratitude.

shuffing feet in sand

Summer brings salty hair and lips; sweet, lazy laughter-filled days with the kids. It brings peace on healing rays of sun. In the summer, I feel connected to Mother Earth and grounded in the moment as I dig my toes into warm sand. Summer is my long, contented sigh and when it comes, I am finally home.

K.B. Owen

There is something about autumn that has always appealed to me: the fresh, crisp air after the humidity of summer; the blaze of golds, reds, and burnt oranges that sweeps across the landscape; kids starting the new school year (most of them ready to go back – the parents sure are); roadside stands and farmer’s markets spilling over with harvest bounty.

It’s a time when I feel more energetic and want to do more things, whether it’s visiting a pumpkin patch, going leaf-peeping, making a hearty stew, or cleaning up the yard. I find myself exploring new recipes to use up the surplus in my garden, or learning ways to preserve some of it for winter.

photo of pumpkinsIt’s a time to pull out the fall decorations, to spruce things up with pumpkins, gourds, and tea lights, and to pull out the backyard fire bowl and sit around it, swapping tales of our day while sipping cocktails.

Our family looks forward to the fall holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving, too. My kids have been able to enjoy Halloween in a way that I never could in my childhood, because my allergy-induced asthma often put me in the hospital in late October, especially during my trick-or-treat years. I carved my first pumpkin at 22. But I think I’ve now carved enough pumpkins to have made up for lost time! I consider myself very blessed to enjoy many Halloweens with my own children, and every year it feels like I’m just as much of a kid about it as they are. I don’t think I’ll ever “quite” grow up in that regard.

me with normal-sized headKass

The seasons really affect my mood. They always have. When we lived in Maryland, my favorite season was summer, hands down.

I hated winter with its short, gray days and icy roads. I would start to come to life in the spring, but that is Maryland’s rainy season. So while the temperatures were warmer and the threat of ice and snow faded away, it was still gray and damp all too many days.

Summer was what I lived for. Yes, it was hot, but the long, long days of sunshine were worth a little sweat. I love being outdoors and I love projects, and there was always something to be done on our little horse farm–a fence needing mending, an outbuilding to be painted. I was in my glory!

azaleas blooming in the woodsNow I live in northern Florida, and while I still like summer a lot, spring has become my favorite season. Unlike in Maryland, spring tends to be fairly dry down here. For days on end, the sun shines, the temperatures hover in the high 70’s to low 80’s and the humidity is relatively low. The mild but rainy winters produce lush greenery and gorgeous spring flowers.

Winter still depresses me a little, but I know it will be short-lived and I will come to life again in March, when our long, glorious spring begins.


I wonder if our favorite season might correspond to the arc of our lives. When I was growing up in South Dakota, I loved springtime, especially May, that sliver between freezing cold and hellish hot. As a young adult, I became a beach bunny in California and loved summertime beach volleyball. The long stretch of day meant more playing time.

Vinnie and her husband hiking in fall

Vinnie and her husband hiking in the fall.

Now, in the autumn of my years, my favorite season is fall.

When Emily Dickinson wrote, “There’s a certain slant of light,” I feel she must have meant the angled light of autumn. Here in Santa Cruz, that soft light ushers in our loveliest weather.

With the shortening days, self-reflection takes hold in me, a quiet repose that suits my current stage.

How about you? What is your favorite season, and why?


Posted by Kassandra Lamb on behalf of the whole gang. We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Letting Go (Part 2)

by Kassandra Lamb (see Part 1, Pulling Up Roots here)

The Maryland house today

So my little summer cottage/writer’s retreat is sold. A nice young man now owns it, and I don’t. I’m having very mixed emotions about that.

I put a lot of effort into fixing that little house up, making it cute and cozy. And I wrote a lot of good words in my writer’s cave there. Also, letting the house go means one less link with my home state of Maryland. But I’m very, very relieved to be rid of the maintenance headaches that had gotten worse as the house aged.

This has gotten me thinking about why it is hard sometimes to let go… of people, but also of the places we have called home.

Herd of wild horses


We humans are innately social beings.
We are herd animals. Like horses and
wolves, we instinctively know that we
need to band together in order to


The need for connection to others is so important that the humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow made belongingness and love the third tier in his well-known hierarchy of needs. We need what he referred to as the three A’s of belongingness–affiliation, acceptance and affection. These needs take a backseat only to basic physical and safety needs.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

image by Anthony Beck (CC-BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

I’m realizing as I’m writing this that the need for connection to others is the reason people read fiction. We so strongly want to feel connected that we don’t even mind if the people we’re connecting with are figments of an author’s imagination! And many readers, myself included, particularly like series, so we can stay connected to the same characters book after book.

Woman reading in a library or bookstore

photo by Onderwijsgk, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

But why do we connect with a place?

Most humans also feel a need/desire to have a “home.” This is not just a female thing. I know plenty of men who have a strong sense of home. We are not so different from the fox, burrowing into his den at night, snug and safe (Maslow’s second tier).

Now I have to let go of my little “den” up north. I will focus on my home here in Florida and on my friends and family scattered around the country. I have plenty of connections to replace the ones I’m losing. But still it isn’t easy, this letting go.

How about you? How strongly do you feel the need for connection? Are you a homebody who becomes attached to places as well as people?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)


With a few exceptions (Lee Child’s character, Jack Reacher, comes to mind), we human beings need a sense of roots, a place we call ‘Home.’ For the past decade I’ve had two homes. So if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been this summer, I’ve been in Maryland at our second home.

Before you turn green with envy, read on.

it hasn’t really been a vacation. My husband and I have worked our butts off this summer getting the place ready to put on the market.

I’ve fought the idea of selling the place for several years now, but this summer I was ready. More than ready. It’s an older house and it just needs too much work these days to keep it up.

I put my heart and soul into this little house. When we bought it in 2002, calling it a fixer-upper would have been too kind. It needed a lot of work, and I enjoyed fixing it up (most of the time). I like working with my hands.

Kass's summer house

The BEFORE picture. Note the big-ass AC sticking through the wall. How chic! (Don’t know why the bottom half of this pic is blank.)

With lots of assistance from my brother, and occasionally hired contractors, we’ve modernized the kitchen, finished off what used to be a sleeping porch into a lovely sunroom, plus re-tiled, re-carpeted, re-painted and otherwise refurbished it from stem to stern.


Part of our remodeled kitchen. The rooms are so small it’s hard to get a pic of the whole space.

And it has served us well in so many ways.

When we retired in 2004 and moved to Florida, this little house made that transition go much smoother than it otherwise might have. I was born in Maryland and had lived here my entire life, and my husband had called Maryland home for thirty years. Knowing we still had a place in Maryland made it a lot easier to let go. As my husband put it, we didn’t have to pull up all of our roots all at once.

Also our son was in graduate school at the time, and planned to come back to Maryland to work afterwards. So every summer we would load up our van and make the trek up I-95, to see our son and his wife, my brother and other family members and our Maryland friends. And to relax in the somewhat cooler clime of Maryland for a couple months.

This little house has been a Godsend a couple of times. In 2008 when my daughter-in-law was pregnant with my eldest grandson, I came up a week before he was due and stayed at the house, just two hours’ drive (instead of two days) away from them. When the little guy made his appearance, I was able to be there to help the new parents out.

Kass's study at Maryland house

My writing cave in Maryland.

In 2011, I spent several weeks at the house, just me and the dog, doing some much needed projects (that were easier to do without another person underfoot). And in the evenings, I wrote. That summer I finished the first drafts of two novels, Celebrity Status and Collateral Casualties.

I threw my husband’s retirement party and also his 60th birthday party at this little house. It has many fond memories attached to it–trips to watch 4th of July fireworks in the nearby small town, eating Maryland crab cakes at the waterside restaurants, 4H fairs at the county fairgrounds…

But the time has come to pull up the last of our roots here.

I used to love the projects. Now the aging house is throwing problems at us faster than we can keep up. And many of the friends and family members we came here to visit have moved on. My son and family are now in Pennsylvania and my brother has moved to Florida, 40 miles from our home down there.

We’ll still travel north periodically to visit folks there, but we’ll stay in motels or rented condos like the rest of the tourists.

And I’ll probably sneak over now and again to the old neighborhood, and check on the little house that was my fixer-upper project, my roots in my home state and my writing haven for so many years.

The Maryland house today

The finished product of our efforts this year. I spent my birthday painting that shed!

How important are roots to you? Are you one of those natural nomads who doesn’t seem to need them (like Jack Reacher) or do you need a sense of ‘home’ somewhere? Where are your roots?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)