Finding Home

Blood over ivory.

Good afternoon from cloudy Vermont. Did you know that we have just over 300,000 elephants left on our planet? That number comes from the 2016 results of the Great Elephant Census. I never want to visit elephants in the wild, but I sure want them to always be there. Blood over ivory–it’s unfathomable to me how greedy and mind-twisted we humans can be. Since I just finished reading up on the tenets of Stoicism, I’ll practice one of them right now: letting go of things that are out of my control, and moving onto something that I can.

Now that the publishing of Quill Point is actually underway, I’m ready to resume work on  my fifth story, With Regards, Stella Ramone. Stella’s been hanging out in my brain for months, but I’ve been so preoccupied with how to get Quill Point in your hands that I’ve just left her hanging out in Hardwick. This is what I know about her: Stella does not hunt. She does not have children. She has a dog, a little white dog who doesn’t shed. She is mostly prudent and occasionally impulsive, though she used to be mostly impulsive and occasionally prudent. She has a long scar from just under her left eye to her lip, which she tries to hide with foundation and blush. I love Stella. She’s broken and brave and knows how to balance her checkbook to the penny. I wish I could do that.

If all goes well, I’ll have my cover reveal next week. Until then, look at this elephant’s eyes. How can you not fall in love?

Tearing, Cry, Elephant, Eye, Nature

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.







If I can see the letter H…

Good afternoon from cloudy Vermont. There’s a nip in the air–that’s for certain, and as soon as I got home from work I threw on my overlarge Red Sox hoodie. I just can’t bear to turn on the heat just yet.

Tim updated our booth at the Mall and it’s looking mighty spiffy. He added half-mannikins to display Serena’s tees, and a shelf for my books. He plans on acquiring some wooden crates to add more merchandise. Won’t it be fine if I can add my fourth book in time for the Christmas season? I think I’m scheduled for a book signing there on September 14th, Saturday, from 1 to 3 PM, just my old books, but they are certainly new to the Burlington market. Perhaps I’ll see some of you there.

Regarding Quill Point, if all goes well, it will be published and in our hands by October 15th. Though I’m not 100 percent sure all will go well, since this book was supposed to be out in July, what is there to do but hope? And you know me–if I can see the letter H, I’ll grab it.

I’ve had a change at work. I no longer work afternoons and evenings, but the regular hours of 8 to 4 PM. What a joy it is to be home with my family at night–I guess I should thank my early-developing cataracts for that, as they are keeping me from driving and seeing clearly at night. It feels like cheating to be here–what is it about yankees that they can only process joy if it’s tinged with a touch of suffering? I gotta work on that.

I leave you with a photo of our display. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.






A Soft Opening

Good morning from sunny, cooler Vermont. It’s one of those days–when you want to be outside for no good reason except to feel the nip in the air, watch the leaves change, and be present and accounted for as part of life’s great adventure so you don’t miss a single good thing. I myself feel the pull of outside, and once I’m done blogging and finishing a few chores, you’ll find me on the porch, messing around with my container plants, all three of them.

Today, somewhere in the University Mall in South Burlington, a store is having its soft opening. The store contains about 80 booths, each filled with wares from crafters all over the state. We are one of them. From September through December, we’ll be selling my books, my daughter’s tee shirts and totes, and other art-based odds and ends. The manager of the store takes care of actually selling and restocking products, so besides my doing a few book signings, the whole enterprise should take care of itself. My husband is running the show from home–I hurt my back this summer and don’t have the oomph to check in and do whatever has to be done. We should be fully stocked by next weekend. If you are in the area, please stop in. We appreciate feedback as well. One of my goals today is to find and design compostable business cards.

Speaking of compost, my zero-waste journey continues, though I have to tone down my zeal. I think I made our good friends feel uncomfortable as I went on about what I’d given up or replaced. I don’t want to have that effect on people. Then again, I am joyful about my new toothpaste bits.

Quill Point hasn’t been published yet. The publisher and I are emailing regularly, and I’m hopeful that he’ll turn it out by the end of the year. Meanwhile, I’m happy that my other books are meeting the Burlington market.

That’s it for this week. Though I enjoyed my summer break from blogging, I’ve missed the craft of writing and the connection it brings to all of you. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.


container garden



It looks like a bird’s nest.

Good morning from moody Vermont. Today I am 57. I’m outside in our backyard on our bench. I plan to stay outside for much of the day; that is the best way I know how to celebrate myself.

There’s a story about our backyard. Since we moved to Soft Landing, it has been A Backyard, not any place for us to hang out, because other dog owners would bring their dogs here to do their business. It was annoying, but we figured it was common land. The last few weeks, I’ve been having some dog issues with other dog owners (dogs not on leashes, etc.) and I finally reached out to the owners of the complex. I asked what the deal was about leashes, and also asked if we had backyards. It turns out that yes, we do have backyards, and other dogs and their humans aren’t supposed to be hanging out in them. So that’s why we now have a bench here and why we are actually using the space. It’s nice to see other neighbors now doing the same. The lesson here? Ask boldly!

I haven’t heard from my publisher, and while I figure all that out, I’ve decided to take the summer off from blogging. You are all a patient bunch and I know you’ll understand. I’ve also decided that my experiment of growing out my hair needs to stop as well. It looks like a bird’s nest, and the only way to get it in some sort of order is with a lot of product or a perm. Neither are options, so next Saturday morning I’m going back to my short and sassy look. I want to go back to that “up in the morning and off to work” feeling instead of “Oh my God is that a squirrel?” (Don’t laugh–one time it was…)

I wish you all a happy summer, and I’ll see you in the fall.


Nest, Empty, Home, Animal, Bird Nest, Straw, Wildlife






“Too small for you.”

Good evening from rainy Vermont. On the way back home from a refreshing overnight in Freeport with my brother and sister in law, Tim and I listened to David Whyte converse with Krista Tippett on her weekly podcast On Being. Way long ago, back in the 90s, I remember hearing about his book The Heart Aroused. But I didn’t read it–I thought it was written for men’s groups. Years later, here I am, drawn into his poetry and wisdom, through a chance interview while crossing Crawford Notch. Serindipidous? Perhaps. All I know is that I need him right now, this very minute. I dug his book out of the shelf and will start it tonight. And tomorrow at work, I’ll request every other piece of published material he has written. That’s the luck and blessing of being a librarian.

My quest to zero waste continues. I now have bulk Darjeeling tea, and will transition to loose leaf from buying boxes of tea. Over the weekend I was given a contraption that acts like a French press; just two scoops, boiling water, and a 15 minute steep yields two strong mugs of tea. One I’ll have hot, and the other iced. Perhaps I’ll miss my PG Tips, but I won’t miss the packaging.

On my book front, I haven’t heard a peep from my publisher. Perhaps they’ve left the country. And perhaps I have no idea what to do next. Whatever it is, at this stage of our lives, it can’t involve using our precious funds to publish a book. So I’ll live in the unknowing for a while, and thus, so will you. We can wait together.

I leave you with a quote from Mr. Whyte.

“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet

confinement of your aloneness

to learn

anything or anyone

that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.”

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.


swk 2018 lilacs

“I’m here to help you”

Good morning from partly sunny Vermont (I’m being generous here). This morning Liv and I traveled to Montpelier’s Hunger Mountain Coop to stock up on bulk items with our bags and empty containers from home. The entire experience went well, although now I have to figure out the cost benefits and losses–you know, everyday math. I’ll blog on that some other time. Because here’s what I really want to concentrate on:

“Quill Point–Chapter One.

Leave it to Shawn to ruin her day. As Eva looked back on the Quill Point realtor’s visit, she remembered seeing the victory drain from his eyes when he realized she already knew about the energy company Gesco and its interest in her farm. Why else would the old potato field show up featured in a nature documentary abut natural gas pipelines invading the Northeast? To think that her beloved home might be destroyed by the consequences of fracking–it was enough to send her right back to the emergency room.

Shawn put on his best “I’m here to help you” face, and explained what might happen with her farm if she didn’t have someone like him representing her. She listened with all the respect she could muster, and then showed him out. His wasn’t the kind of representation she had in mind.

Gesco. What was it? A quick Google search answered her question–a large energy corporation from New Jersey, with natural gas partnerships somewhere in northeastern Quebec. Eva, dressed in lightweight red flannel pajamas and moose-patterned grey socks, sat down at her kitchen island. She removed her hair tie and freed her curly shoulder-length brown hair. As she stretched her neck and shoulders to release tension, she grabbed a pen and a note pad at the corner of the island. Time to formalize a plan.

“Number one,” she spoke aloud as she wrote. “Call Finn. Number two. Call Mr. Crowley for the name of an environmental law attorney. Three. Attend select board meetings. Four–stay healthy. Five–research Vermont environmental law.”

Gil, her kitten padded into the kitchen from the dining room and jumped onto her lap. Eva let him settle while she picked up the phone to call her boyfriend and housemate, Finley Crowley.

Finn picked up at once. “Hey, girl, what’s wrong? Are you sick again?”

Eva had recovered from surgery for the ulcers she developed after her parents, Emma and Randy Blanchard, died in a car crash, but the people she loved weren’t convinced she felt strong and fit again. So, they kept asking.”

And that was page one, everybody. Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.


Town, Street, Main Street, Quaint

Joy all around.

Good morning from a possibly sunny Vermont. Happy Mother’s Day! Me, I feel quite celebrated, thanks to the gluten-free orange, cranberry scones Tim made me for breakfast. And I get to celebrate my mother later on for lunch. But now I have a fun story to tell you. Friday morning, after several reschedules, I met my dear friend Amy for tea at the Fork and Gavel in Hyde Park. It’s a new, little, breakfast and lunch place where Sweet Crunch used to be. Anyway, after we had chatted a bit, Amy reached into a bag and pulled out a package wrapped in hot pink tissue. Clueless, I opened it upside-down, but still knew exactly what it was–a stack of handkerchiefs of all ages and colors and patterns. The coolest present ever! She had gathered them over the years and didn’t know what to do with them, and after she read my blog last week, she knew she’d found an owner. I laundered them on the delicate setting, and then one by one I placed them into my Mason jar, fluffy side up. I used my first one yesterday; it was white with blue flowers around the edges.

But that wasn’t all! Amy went back into her bag and pulled out another package of red scarves. Beside myself with excitement, I was. And it got better. When I got home and later showed both girls the scarves, they immediately made piles for themselves and started to figure out how to arrange their hair with them. One of them asked, “Does she have a set in yellow?”

So now I have a set of beautiful hankies, red scarves, and a wonderful memory of spending time with Amy. That’s a good story in my book of life. Next on my zero waste list is to get brave enough to bring my glass containers to the Hannaford’s meat department. “Two chicken breasts in this jar, please, and a pound of ground beef in this one.” (I’m practicing.) I think my sister the quilter is up for making me cloth bags for holding my bulk dry goods. Joy all around.

There’s something wonderfully settling about sitting on the couch with the dog next to me, and knowing that today I really don’t need a thing. Except maybe a piece of Mother’s Day cake.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.







My all-consuming love affair

Good morning from foggy Vermont. I have a solution for you. When you feel like you have no control over your life, give away your Saran Wrap. Yesterday my friend Kathy and I spent a great morning together, and she indulged my all-consuming love affair with the bulk food section at a new City Market. Besides all the grains, nuts, syrups, and coffee beans, I found a whole row of bulk liquid dish washing detergent, hand soap, and dish soap, all good quality, although I didn’t have time to figure out whether each was cost effective. Anyway, on the road to zero waste, let’s say I hit the jackpot.

We also traveled to Shelburne Farms and took to the walking paths, paths that were just like the road I used every day growing up at the farm. Dirt, lined with fence posts, green pasture land on each side, and an occasional wandering brook. I felt it in my bones, this shocking reconnection with my own feet to the bare farm earth.

My sister and I walked that road as we herded the cows to their day pasture before the bus came. I walked that road every afternoon, rain or shine, when the bus driver dropped me off at the main road. I divided the journey home into three parts. First to the pond. Second to the hill. Third to the brick stoop. I didn’t mind getting soaked so much, but I did worry about the precious books in my not so water-proof knapsack. There were scary parts–the mean dog at the top of the road, the rising waters of the pond, and my imagination concocting all kinds of terrible scenarios waiting for me just over the hill. Bears? Coy dogs? Men with guns? Sometimes you have to be brave when you are little.

But most times I liked the walk, because I knew what was at the end of it. My mother, at the old Glenwood stove, stirring something up for dinner. And the comics from the Burlington Free Press, read at the kitchen table as I drank a big glass of Nestle’s Quik topped off by two scoops of vanilla ice-cream.

But back to my bulk items. I was telling Kathy yesterday that I wanted to replace our use of tissue with handkerchiefs. We grew up with them, and my Dad used them until he died. She thought my idea was totally gross, as did my husband, so I guess that’s a no to switching out Kleenex at Soft Landing. But I’m thinking about it for myself. I like the idea of collecting ten or so pretty, vintage handkerchiefs and placing them in a mason jar for easy retrieval. I’ll let you know how it all works out.

That’s it for now. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.





Like winning the Lotto.

Good morning from cloudy, cold Vermont. Because I’m in a charitable mood and it’s still April, I’ll forgive the snow that blanketed the mountains in this part of the woods. Really, though. Doesn’t winter have any sense of shame?

I’ve been thinking hard this past week, mostly on how to get Quill Point out to you readers as soon as possible. Since it’s unclear that Curiosity Quills will continue to operate as a business, I’m getting a quote now on how much it would cost to typeset my manuscript to get it into book form, both in print and electronically. A question for you all: how many of you want it in book form, and how many as an eBook? Send me an email at so I can have a ballpark number.

Yesterday we traveled to Quebec so that my mother could have lunch with her brothers. As I rode through the flat farm lands toward St. Jean, I wondered what values I carried that were French Canadian. When we arrived and I gathered with my cousins in the living room, as the older set conversed in the sun room, I noticed how well they looked out and cared for each other. And I thought, “Well of course, that’s a French Canadian side of me–the value of a tightly knit family!” If I had asked, they could have told me the current situation of every family member right down to the youngest great grandchild. That’s how it is with us at home, too.

Back when I was growing up, the government of Quebec used to pay parents a certain amount per month for each child they had. This was a way of encouraging growth trends in a threatened population, but I didn’t know all that. I used to think of it as a magic allowance, and wondered why my parents didn’t get one. We had six kids–it would have been like winning the Lotto. Just a two-hour ride separated us from the Land of the Giving. Perhaps this program still exists. I’ll have to ask. In French.

I look forward to hearing from you about what version you need for Quill Point. And while you’re responding, I’d love to hear a bit about you and where you’re from. So many of you I don’t know, and I want to! Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.








In my head and heart.

Good morning everyone from sunny Vermont–the sun is out! I’m wearing the first sandals of summer and even a spring skirt. I’m happy to report that no one at Easter mass fainted from the glare of my white legs. You may have noticed that I didn’t blog last week. I totally forgot. Sorry about that. Part of it is that I’m out of book/author mode, not having heard from my publisher in over a month. And since I’m not writing anything new–Stella Ramone remains suspended–it’s hard for me to focus on blogging every weekend. I’ll right myself, I’m sure.

I discovered something about myself this past week. You know how I’ve been looking and looking for a tiny house for Serena to live in? Studying the Tiny Homes for Sale website, collecting builders portfolios, etc. It turns out that I want that dream for myself also. I want to live in a tiny house in Maine. I want to totally own our home on wheels, and rent a small bit of property to hold it. I think about 400 square feet on a quarter acre will do nicely. With a first floor bedroom for us and a loft for Liv when she returns from college. And Serena will be in her own tiny house, fulfilling her own dreams. I’ve got everything all wrapped up, in my head and heart, anyway. And if I reviewed these blogs, I’d no doubt find the recurrent theme of hoeing out and reducing our carbon footprint. Tiny was the way I’ve always been heading, so tiny is where I’ll go.

Here’s a glimpse of where I could be blogging from one day. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.


Image result for tiny house

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