Finding Home

When millet burns.

Good morning a day early from cold, snowy Vermont. For those of you who thought I dropped off the face of the earth last week, I didn’t. I was out of state and away from technology, so I gave myself a pass. To set the scene, Scout’s in my lap at the table, and there’s the sharp smell of burned millet. Tim’s pots and pans got away from him in the kitchen.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on self-care. You know how in a plane, the flight attendants always tell you to give yourself the oxygen first, and then your children? There’s no bone in my body or thought in my mind that would let me do such a thing. I could not take the oxygen first. Neither could my mom. Or her mom. Right down the ancestral line to the first Boudreau mother.

I get that I need to take care of myself. I’ve constructed an entire toolkit of self-care–meditation, time to myself, music, books, walks, nice soaps and lotions, tea. And I dip into that toolkit as much as I can. But if one of my girls is in need, it’s their mask I reach for. Always.

So where does that leave me? With a somewhat distorted view of parenting, I guess. The sense that I haven’t done it right. And I’m probably carrying more life weight on my shoulders than necessary. As a highly sensitive person, I raised two highly sensitive girls. I tried to model for them self-care; I really did. But this is what I wonder: When my girls have children, whose mask will they reach for?

When millet burns, it emits an acrid, permeating smell. But here at Soft Landing, our kitchen fan that wicked it away in short order. And that’s my queue to close. What would you do with the mask?

Check in next week for another segment of Finding Home.




Fascination Mode

Good morning from cloudy, dreary Vermont. This is one of the things I learned at work for the week (alert: skip this paragraph if you are stomach sensitive). There’s a new medical research method out there. You take a dead mouse with a damaged brain and replace its fluids with alcohol. Then you add a kind of soap to it to dissolve any body fat. Then you fill its veins with a transparent fluid. The mouse shrivels up enough to fit under a microscope, and it is now transparent, so you can study the effects of its brain damage on the rest of the body. Apparently this method is a big deal in science, as the researchers hope it will lead to studying the effects of Alzheimer’s. I don’t know. The things we do to animals in the name of progress in science make my stomach curl. And yet, finding the cure for Alzheimer’s? That would be something.

I could write for hours about the things I learn every day as a reference librarian. I’m pretty much in “fascination mode” from the time I sit at my desk to the time I pack up my bag and leave. The subjects that pull me in tend to be science-based: biological psychology; biology, chemistry, animal behavior, herbal pharmacology. And here’s why:

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a pathologist in the worst way. My cousin Bobby gave me his college anatomy and physiology book to study when I was about ten. And at a teacher’s convention with my kindergarten teacher sister, I found six large posters of our human anatomy–the circulation system, the skeletal system, etc. That’s what hung on my walls when I finally got my own room at sixteen. My bed was literally surrounded by bodies.

I applied for and was accepted at McGill University’s pre-med program. But then I got nervous. What if I wasn’t good enough? I seemed to be really, really good in political science. Wasn’t that a safer and easier route? After a year of making wrong turns, I found myself at the University of Vermont. Still tempted by science, I took some science and advanced math classes “just to see.” Anatomy and Physiology was one of the hardest courses I ever took, and the Bs I got in the class elated me. I worked hard for those marks. But wouldn’t I have to work even harder all the time if I continued in science? Yes. And that scared me. Because I wasn’t confident enough to think I could make it. And back then there were no cheerleaders in regard to women and STEM. So I stopped. I became an English major, and minored in French, with a political science specialty. In regard to science, I folded. So now, decades later, I’m a science geek without credentials. And that’s okay. I’ve never had to hurt an animal in the name of medicine. And being a reference librarian and a writer? Well, that’s pretty cool also.

What did you want to be? And is that what you became? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.






Something to share.

Good morning from cloudy Vermont. I have something to share. Listen:

“Thank you for your patience while we reviewed your work. We received very positive feedback from our beta read department for QUILL POINT. I’m writing to you today to let you know of our intention to contract the work, for release in 2019.” 

Ta da! Isn’t that great news for the start of a weekend? Here I was, planning to roll out the book to you week by week so all that writing wouldn’t go to waste, and now I have the year to slog through the editing process and present it to you in a complete package. And, maybe what’s more important, I’ve got the year to tend to marketing all of my books. You all know how I let that go.

I want to celebrate. I want to toast to this beginning and this fourth milestone. But as I write, I’m laughing because I seem to be out of hurrahs lately (which explains, by the way, why I didn’t write last week). Oh well. I’ll think of something. Just know that right now I’m delighted. I thought Quill Point was good enough, but I wasn’t quite sure. Now I know.

Any ideas on how to celebrate contracting for a fourth book? A new succulent? A puppy for Scout? (Just kidding, girls.) Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.


The Depths of Winter

Good morning from snowy Vermont. I’m on my second cup of tea and am just inside from shoveling out our little stoop and making a path to the cars. The path isn’t so much for us, but for Scout, who’s smaller than the height of snow.

Livia taught me something this morning. Turns out the author who wrote The Fault in our Stars, John Green, also is part of the Crash Course video series on YouTube. I see these popping up a lot in the materials our online instructors use. John and his brother Hank created this learning series about every topic under the sun. This week I watched several psychology and biology videos; my favorites are about the brain and its connection to the digestive system. Here’s the link to Crash Courses:

I got word on my book. Curiosity Quills is revising its author contracts. The submissions team won’t make any decisions on pending books until the new contracts are finished. It may be a while before I know about Quill Point. Timing-wise, that’s fine. I feel hollow though, like I’ve left my baby with an acquaintance and she hasn’t been returned. I think Quill Point is in good hands, but…

Outside of one medical appointment today, I’m free to be domestic. I’ve got a bunch of household chores to do, and I may watch some of the Olympics. We watched parts of the mens’ figure skating team competition. So many of the skaters fell, I wondered about the quality of the ice. And the bleachers were mostly empty. I guess in the spirit of cordiality, it’s better to have too many seats than not enough.

According to WordPress and Facebook statistics, my readers are dwindling at an alarming rate. Soon there’ll be just a few of you following me. I need to jazz things up. Perhaps my daughters will give me some pointers. Serena is doing a great job with my nephew’s book page on Facebook at

I hope when the depths of winter pass, I’ll come charging out with new ideas and a new look. Where do you get your energy in the short but long month of February?

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.








Plaques and Tangles.

Good morning everyone, from cold and dim Vermont. I have a calendar. I have post it notes and a stack of scrap paper at my disposal. I have 8 1/2 by 11 pads of fresh yellow-lined paper. But I’m still forgetting things. I think it’s next week. Then I think it’s last week. I get phone calls from doctors regarding appointments I’m ahead of or behind from. Really, it’s bothersome and embarrassing. Is there something wrong with my brain?

Some people swear by their smart phones. “Just put everything in your phone and then it will tell you what to do!” Or, “Put it all in your laptop!” Well that’s great for the 90 percent of the population that feels comfortable using technology. You know by now I’m in the ten percent. You know I prefer pen and paper over computers any day.

But where does that leave me? Besides feeling like plaques and tangles are silently stealing my brain. Those damn plaques and tangles. I hear about them all the time in the health science classes I’m embedded in as a research librarian. I imagine what my MRI looks like, and as I once again put the phone in the freezer, the image haunts me with its unwanted ponds and creeks. Of course I’ve never had an MRI. Because my doctor says I’m suffering from severe stress, not dementia. But still.

I remember when my very special uncle was getting radiation and chemo for a brain tumor. I’d meditate, mentally reducing the size of the tumor until it was gone. Maybe I should start visualizing my stress, mentally reducing it until it’s gone. But I’ll have to schedule it in, and remember I did so. Maybe I should put my calendar in the freezer.

The good news is that I remembered to blog this morning–on Saturday, not Sunday. (According to Facebook, I lose most of my readers if I blog on Sunday.) The other good news is that I don’t have any appointments to remember or forget today. I can tidy Soft Landing, and even go out on a little date with my husband in Burlington while my daughter attends a birthday party. Full disclosure? I thought there was a doctor’s appointment today but when I called to confirm, she said I was a week off. Heavens.

So now I’ll sit down with my husband, dig my calendar out of my large, black purse, and review each entry in an attempt to make it stick. And I’ll do something fun today, like browse Barnes & Noble and write interesting titles down so that I can request them later through the library.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve found your phone? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.






In the Scottish Countryside with a Goat

Good morning from spring-like Vermont. This past week, Quill Point was “on the table for discussion.” I haven’t heard more than that, but I expect to know by Friday. Once when I submitted a piece for the magazine Mothering, I received a rejection with a note from the editor. She said her submissions team had argued long and hard over my work, and ultimately the argument itself led to its denial. I hope accepting my book will go more smoothly. It seems odd that Curiosity Quills wouldn’t at least let me finish up the sequel to a book it had already published. But these are lean times.

I’ve been watching several documentaries for work. More and more instructors are using films as part of their curriculum. For an herbology class, I watched Lumen, about whole plant healing. And for an environmental studies class I watched Revolution, about the state of our oceans. It saddened me to hear that the director and originator of Revolution died in a diving accident. Another voice for our planet stilled.

My lease for my car runs out in a year, so I’ve started the search for a new vehicle. It needs to have good head room, very comfortable back seats, be easy for my Mom to get in and out of, and get at least 30 miles a gallon on the highway. (In my neck of the woods, highway means a secondary road.) I’m thinking some sort of crossover, but I’ve yet to find one that meets all of my requirements. I’m glad I have the year to sort it all out. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Time for me to close. I’ve a meatloaf to make and a daughter to visit before I start my shift. Unfortunately I got a late start to the morning, tangled up in a dream about hitchhiking in the Scottish countryside with a goat.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.





She looked like a movie star.

Greetings from mild, cloudy Vermont. In an hour we’ll be gathered and celebrating my mom’s 85th birthday. In 1933, one of the worst years of the Great Depression, gas cost ten cents a gallon. Hitler was chancellor and Cuba was at war. But in St. Jean, Quebec, Mom emerged into her small world welcomed and surrounded by love. She was third in line, a middle child, even-keeled, resilient, full of life, and positive. No wonder my dad fell madly in love with her. At sixteen, she looked like a movie star. In all my years, I’ve yet to acquire the grace she showed in her early photos. Can you tell I love her?

Tomorrow I go back to my regular work hours, now that the students are returning from break. I get a ton of focused, uninterrupted work done on Sundays, and though by the end of my shift I feel lonely for home, I find my Sunday through Thursday hours quite tolerable. I’ll have to remember to tone it down when I play music and sing along. The students in the carrells outside my office door might not be Little Feat fans.

I followed up this morning with the publisher about my Quill Point manuscript. It should be in the review stage right about now. I’m ready to start the long, tedious process of editing, but I’m also thinking that this might be the last book I write for quite a while. I feel like I need a stretch of living more to take my writing to the next level. More experiences under my belt. More contemplation. More travel. More rest. I may be going to an library conference in April for a week in San Antonio. That would be sweet.

But now I’m in Vermont and must stop writing to prepare for my mother’s party. I leave you with a photo of our lovely college library. What do you celebrate in January? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.






“In the midst of winter.”

Good morning from sunny, cold Vermont. It’s a confusing time. We’ve had flooding in at least two towns in our county, and homeowners and renters have been displaced. One homeowner said the fire department pumped 10,000 gallons of water out of his basement. Meanwhile, it’s minus three degrees in Burlington.

This past week, I’ve been so busy with sick daughters that I’ve been removed from the suffering of others. Just today, when things seem more settled here at home, I am catching up on the world around me and offer my prayers and sympathy. Our climate is definitely shaky; we don’t have to look across the globe anymore.

You know how I always have a combination of books going? Usually a romance, a mystery, a few works of nonfiction? Well, in all my reading in 2017, I formulated two life lessons: 1) Strive to be the best version of yourself, and 2) When you’re paralyzed with life’s challenges, take a small step and do the next right thing. Luckily, I’ve read this advice repeatedly enough that it’s good and stuck in my mind. When I’m wondering how to handle situations, either at work or at home, or in the grocery store, I remember these lessons and I try to act accordingly. It’s nice to have guide posts.

I read part of a letter from Camus to a loved one, and since it’s in the public domain, I’m sharing it with you.

“My dear, in the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love. In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile. In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm. I realized, through it all, that…In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger—something better, pushing right back.”

Perhaps this resonates with some of you? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.








Ten below and all is well…

Good morning from spicy cold Vermont. This morning Liv and I braved the wind and went to Breakfast Club at Deb’s Place (grilled, iced blueberry and raspberry muffins and strong cups of tea), the library (her three thick books to my two), and finished up our route at Second Chance, the used clothing store, where I finally got rid of the two bags of clothing I’d been hauling around in my car. Now, we have the entire day to be inside while winter does its worst. I’m hoping that Tim will hang some more of our art, especially in our bedroom, where the Audubon prints rest against the lower walls, making the birds look flightless.

This past week I emailed my publisher to see if my manuscript had been reviewed. It’s next in the queue, so I should find out within the next two weeks. I like this time of not knowing. Of not having to meet a deadline. Of not trying to fit writing in between trips to the washer and dryer. But if all goes as planned, soon you’ll be hearing me grumble about having to rewrite scenes, and being offended by the nasty (but true) comments of the editors.

We took our Christmas tree down last night. I’ll miss Bing and Dean and Buck and the King Family, and I won’t hear them singing again until early November. But there are other events to look forward to as we step into this new year. My mom’s birthday, for instance. That’s a day of rejoicing for sure.

I’ll finish up now. I’m going to do some house chores and cuddle up with the dog and A Paris Year, one of my library finds. Keep warm, everybody. I’m grateful for you.




I don’t want to miss the miracles.

Good afternoon from frigid Vermont. It’s New Year’s Day, of course, and good wishes and good health to all of you for 2018. We’ve had a fairly good stretch of holiday here at Soft Landing, and I’ll admit right now that going back to work tomorrow won’t be easy (and this from someone who loves her job). But my plants need watering, and I’ve about 80 classes to prep for. I’ll adjust. And did you notice that, ever so slowly, our light is returning?

I haven’t checked my emails or Facebook all week, so I don’t know if my publisher has contacted me regarding Quill Point, but I’ve made a decision. If I don’t get a contract, I’ll blog each chapter throughout the year, until you all have read it. I don’t have the time or energy to look for a new publisher, and I really want to share my work. What do you think of that?

This morning we woke up to a cracked window in our upstairs hallway, from the deep cold and new construction, maybe. And I said, “Oh well, I’ll just call it in.” How uplifting–a burden that doesn’t need to settle onto our shoulders and whack us to death. Amen, sister!

I’ve made one resolution this year, to keep showing up. I don’t want to miss the miracles. What are your resolutions? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.









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