Finding Home

I lifted my hands and stretched my fingers wide.

Good afternoon and welcome to breezy, cloudy Vermont. This morning as I drove home from dropping Liv off as a junior counselor at Camp Daybreak, I prayed the rosary for letting go. I prayed that Liv would have a safe and wonderful experience caring for those less fortunate than she, that Serena would suffer no asthma attacks in her second attempt at living in her new apartment. And I prayed that Scout would fare well on his own for the first time at Soft Landing. Turning off the road to watch beautiful Lake Champlain, I lifted my hands and stretched my fingers wide, releasing any clinging piece of thought that I could control any of my girls’ or dog’s outcomes.

This past week I tried so hard to control my outcomes, and failed at every turn. Two days personally driven to make Serena’s apartment work out. Three days of stressing out over moving sale activities. Five days of attempting to clean two messy homes. I should have just let go right off. But as you know from following my blog, I don’t go down easy, even while I’m being showered with grace. God must laugh a lot when my name comes up at dinner.

Just take the moving sale. First of all, my friend Kathy helped me box and sort, and she brought tables. On Thursday, my niece Allie drove in from Shelburne to pitch in and keep Liv’s spirits up. And my good friend Joan journeyed a good distance to give us structure, curb appeal, help us price, and set a plan in place in case it rained. It did. On Friday Joan came back to handle the steady flow of customers throughout the day, with good cheer and an ability to make the most of every sale. She realized early that I didn’t know how to sell things very well (I priced something at two dollars that she sold for fifteen) and relegated me to the cash box to work my strengths, counting out change and saying thank you. She stayed until everything was buttoned up for the night.

There’s more. Not only did Joan help, but my neighbor across the street helped too, and her husband brought us beverages. Tara and Joan actually ran the sale, and Tara added many items that made the whole spread appealing to just about everybody. Saturday morning Tara came back, and stayed with us through every cloud burst, making the best of each sale until she thought it time to mark everything free. She created curb appeal too. And my sister Denise brought us lunch. We almost doubled our goal. I haven’t been to Schoolside yet today to see how much we have to pack up. I suspect it isn’t much. One more funny thing. I tried to sell an older woman her own purse. I asked two dollars for it.

Grace at every turn. Though my life is often challenging, I’ve no shortage of love and support. I hope one day that I soften enough to wake up every morning blown away at my good fortune. With fists unclenched, hands open, fingers wide, and feeling blessed by my shored-up heart.

When you finally let go, do good things happen? Check back next week for another segment of finding home.


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From Schoolside to here.

Good morning from sunny Vermont. I’m blogging from Soft Landing, with Jeff Angione’s Rural Free Delivery FM country music show playing, and Scout crunching his dog food. We are transitioning him from Schoolside to here, and so far he’s doing okay. He whines though when he’s inside by himself, like during those moments when I’m unloading odds and ends from the car. What will he do that first day when he’s alone for a stretch fas we go off to work? That’s not today’s worry.

This weekend we continue to wonder at the amount of our possessions, weed out the objects we cannot use anymore, and whisk away recycling. But hear this: Tuesday and Wednesday, we move Serena to her new home! In each of us, apprehension tussles with excitement. Will she be able to care for herself? Will she rediscover the joy of independence? Will she breathe and sleep better away from the dust, vibrations, noise, and debris of the construction site next door? How will she get to all of her appointments? That’s not today’s worry either.

And then there’s the Kent Family Moving Sale. We price and display on Thursday, and open for business on Friday morning. Good gracious, what a week ahead. Our goal is an empty house and an empty porch. Pray for sunshine and people with pocket money.

That’s it for today. After I finish our laundry, I want to sit outside on our bench and write more on Quill Point. I have to figure out how to stop Eva and Finn from arguing. One thing I miss from our old home? A clothesline. And having room for plants. But, for every problem there’s a solution. What’s your solution for drying clothes inside a small space?

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.




In a hundred years from now…

Good morning from cloudy Vermont. You may be wondering why I missed my first blog. It’s simple, really. When we transferred our phone and internet services to Soft Landing, Comcast went down nationally. It took several days to get us up and running again. This week I’ll blog twice, today, and then on Saturday or Sunday morning during my regular slot.

Eva and Finn are fighting. They aren’t throwing things at each other, but they’re feeling like it. One of them has to take the day off from school or work to be home for a repair regarding a new heat exchange system, and both feel that their time is more important. Finn needs to meet a high-end client; Eva has six classes at UVM and is prepping for finals. In the end, after an angry exchange, Finn tells her that since his parents are paying for the air exchange system, and since he’s bringing in the income that keeps them afloat, it’s Eva’s duty to stay home. And besides, he says, “In a hundred years, no one will tell the difference.”

Finn’s comments drive Eva wild. She slams the kitchen door and heads out to the Adirondack chairs for a good think. She’s never felt so patronized or minimized in her life, and this is the person she’s chosen as a life mate? Not good.

My husband and I have been in this situation before, each feeling that our day’s obligations are more important than the other. Since I have sick leave and vacation time built up, I usually take our girls to their appointments, etc. And even though I know if Tim takes time off he doesn’t get paid, sometimes I chafe at being the one to accommodate my work schedule to our life situations. I’ve been a librarian in enough online gender classes to know that women get short shifted when it comes to childcare and responsibilities. I don’t have any answers. And I’m grateful that I’m privileged to have the time to take. And of course I’d do anything for my family. But still…I guess I just want to start the conversation for Eva and Finn before they decide to further their relationship.

Soft Landing is the sweetest home I’ve known. At the end of the day, I find myself with time to sit down and write, read, even play my dad’s Taylor. Because there’s no maintenance, because there’s a dishwasher, because this place is much smaller, I’m not tearing my hair out trying to keep up. Meanwhile at Schoolside, we’re gearing up for our big moving sale, and continue to hoe out and sort. I’ve weeded out the flower pots from the garden shed, and Saturday I’ll finish deciding on linens and whether or not I should keep working on my rag rug. Do I really need to keep that huge bag of cloth scraps?

As I close, I wonder. Do you also face the challenge of who stays home? Check back this weekend for another version of Finding Home.


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Ode to the movers.

Good morning from sunny Vermont. Yesterday Greg Sargent, his wife, and friend moved a truck load of our special possessions into Soft Landing. In all the times we’ve moved, we’ve always had the help of friends and family. This time, all of us being too worn, Tim and I hired out, and the experience was amazing. No heavy lifting. No worries about people hurting their backs or shoulders or knees. All we did was point to what needed to go onto the truck, and then point to where it went in our new home. I tell you, hiring a good moving company is the best thing since Nutella.

Soft Landing itself is as it sounds, sweet and easy. Yesterday I used the kettle on our new gas stove to make my afternoon tea, and today I’ll try the dishwasher. We don’t have our art up yet, and there are tons of areas in our old home that need sorting and cleaning, but I have to say, my heart is already “over there.”

Today Liv comes home from spending a great week with her Uncle Nick and Aunt Amanda. We can’t wait to see how she likes her new room, which my niece Megs lovingly set up for her yesterday. I’ve opened her windows to invite the breezes.

But all that’s later. I’ve dishes to do and Serena’s breakfast to prepare. And I’ll sort and hoe my way through the day. And maybe, just maybe, when I return home to Soft Landing, I’ll write another chapter of Quill Point. Because as my cousin Susan said to me this past week, people are waiting.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.


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Three calls and nothing.

Hello from stormy Vermont. Why is it the norm these days that people don’t return calls? I’ve tried to get a hold of our new landlord three times. Each time I’ve left polite messages, with easy to answer questions regarding how to get our keys and such. Because she hasn’t responded, I have no idea if our unit will be unlocked and ready to go when the mover arrives there with our furniture and boxes. And I’m nervous also because she has our check for first and last month’s rent. And because she had to make some last minute date changes, I don’t even have a copy of our final lease.

With my wild imagination, I could think of a hundred scenarios as to why she hasn’t called back. Her children are sick. She’s on a month’s vacation.  She suffers from social anxiety. Her cell phone got stolen. But the thing is, I can think of several calls I’ve made over the last two months to different people, and these people didn’t return my calls either. Is it the culture now? If it is, I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.

When I reach out to someone and get blown off, I feel off-kilter, out of sorts, dismissed. I feel less. My husband says that when he gets to that place of “less,” he tries to switch his frame of mind to gratitude. He focuses on the good things in his life, the “more.” So, as I prepare to pack up our kitchen in time for next week, I leave you with a small list of more.

I have more dog. I have more food and shelter. I have more health. I have more love.

What do you have more of? Check in next week for another segment of Finding Home.


lisa and sparkler




Scoops of cinnamon coffee cake and toasted coconut.

Good morning from sunny Vermont. We are back and ready for the next stage of our lives. Today our mover comes to give us an estimate for the load that will go to our new home, and the girls will help me cull my clothes down to a dresser’s and half a small closet’s worth. Normally, I treat Sunday as a day of rest, so my plan is to make the sorting into a fun activity. Since I’m about six loads of laundry behind, I’m not sure how I can make that into anything but a chore.

But here’s what seeped into my bones this past week. Sun so hot I felt my bones purring with satisfaction. Ice cream so flavorful that we returned three times for scoops of cinnamon coffee cake and toasted coconut. A deck with such a beautiful view of the ocean that we lived on it for hours at a time, curled up in our lounge chairs with no intent other than to listen to the surf. The beach, of course, and the excitement of a shark sighting and police forbidding us to enter the water. Card games and crossword puzzles and a stack of books read. Nap time and no cooking and the joy of a dishwasher. Treats given, treats received.

We visited our favorite antique shop in the whole world, and spent lunch and an afternoon catching up with two people we love, all the while marveling at the new displays and offered wares. I found an old silver bracelet that fits tight to my thin wrist, and I’m wearing it now; it’s a good match to my newly tanned skin.

I wrote more of Quill Point on the deck. Yes, this book is humming along, and vacation time fueled me with renewed commitment. All of that and more. Conversations filled with tears and laughter. A seal in the waves. A bit of green sea glass warmed by my daughter’s hands and then given to mine. The sea is where I shine best, and I’m here now at home, still hearing the surf in my ears.

I haven’t had the time to download my new photos, but I leave you with one from last year that fits just as well.

Where’s your favorite place to vacation? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.



All the “what nots.”

Good morning from rainy Vermont. I’m okay with the rain, because this morning we’ll be traveling to the ocean, and by the time we arrive, sunny skies will greet us. I hope to be in the car and driving by 9:30 a.m., but that means I must get out of the way and let my husband “close.” That means giving him time to pack our roof top travel carrier with its three black duffles, and stuff the small back hatch with a food box, Serena’s filter, and all the “what nots” that don’t fit anywhere else. And my tire light is on, so he has to check the air pressure in my tires. And finally, he’ll do the last walk-through of the house, making sure it’s ready for our dog sitter.

With Scout inside, and the four of us outside, we’ll head East. On the road, it used to be that Liv watched through her window and Serena got lost in a book. When they got older, iPods replaced the watching and the getting lost. Now they listen to carefully constructed playlists, while Tim and I do the old-fashioned thing and converse. He catches me up on politics and we talk about the Red Sox. I hook up my iPad’s one playlist to my pollen yellow Fit’s’ radio and we listen to oldies (oldies meaning the Stones). Our family travels well together.

If all goes as planned, we’ll be at the cottage by 4 p.m. The girls will go in first to investigate and negotiate their rooms, and the rest of us will lug everything in before we take a proper looks. What’s most important this year is that this home is dry, free of damp and mold, and gets lots of sun. Perhaps Serena and I won’t have to sleep outside this time, although that made quite a memory.

I fussed about whether I should bring my laptop so I could work on my book. I’m bringing it. Even if I get just an hour of writing time, I’m still progressing, right? I continue to be pleased with Quill Point and look forward to getting it into my publisher’s hands. 120 pages left to go.

When we come back, my life will be all about sorting into three piles, the pile for our new home, the pile for storage, and the pile for the lawn sale. But that’s for later. Right now there’s the sea to ground me and the sun to warm my cold bones.

I leave you with radishes from Serena’s CSA. What’s your favorite vegetable?

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.





Without him.

Hello from gloriously sunny and breezy Vermont. Happy Father’s Day to all you dads and step in dads, and thank you for your hard work raising your children. This is the first Father’s Day that I’m dad less, and I feel all discombobulated. My husband and I walked to the cemetery where he’s buried. Though his stone isn’t there yet, you can still see the lines from when his coffin got lowered into the ground. One good winter and those marks will be gone, and I won’t know exactly where his body is anymore. Sometimes I don’t exactly know where his spirit is either. All I know is he’s gone and from here on, on this earth, I’ll live without him.

I’m blogging from our back yard in one of my double Adirondack chairs, surrounded by trees and bird sounds. Part of my sadness today comes from knowing that soon we’ll be moving into a home that doesn’t have this old oak and that bush of white lilacs. And that blooming pink rosa rugosa right near the compost bin. Where we’re going, everything is new. You can still see the grass seed sprinkled on the ground. We can’t plant perennials there, but we can have container gardens. I thought I’d get an old wagon to fill with annuals. Maybe a hanging plant at the door. Something easy and cheerful. That’s what our new place is like. Easy and cheerful. But much, much smaller.

All those months of wondering and doubting and feeling trapped from the pressure and the broken things and the endless house things gone wrong? They are coming to an end now. Serena has several housing possibilities with a decision made hopefully this week, and the rest of us have a new course ahead. I’ll miss the idea of this place. And hoeing it out will be a huge task. But our new place? Peace. Ease. Grace.

I leave you with the newest picture of my two girls. I’d do anything for them. Is that how you feel about your children?

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.


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Hens and chicks of different colors.

Hello from sunny Vermont. My laptop is truly in my lap right now, and since the dog is woofing from the screen door, soon he’ll be in my lap as well. I’m sitting in one-half of my double adirondack chairs, my tea to my right, steaming with pleasure. I plan to sit out here for a good long time, getting soothed by the sun, creating strong sentences.

I’ve got my fleece on. It’s not until the outside temperature reaches my inside temperature (98.6 F) that I’m most comfortable in my skin. Once I spent some time in Tucson, and I walked from our hotel to the University of Tucson college campus in dry 100 degree heat. Twenty minutes of being warm enough. That’s mostly what I remember from that trip.

Maybe that’s why I’m so attracted to succulents. My library friends and I visited Cady’s Falls Nursery yesterday, spending an hour or so meandering the garden paths, and there were tables with long rows of hens and chicks of different colors and textures. Someone had taken an old muffin tin, bore holes underneath, and filled each cup with various types. I thought of all the sad irons at my parents’ and even in our own garage, ready for repurposing. We all took lots of pictures so we’d remember the different kinds of containers on display. I came home so animated and energized by what I’d experienced there with all the flowers–alive like I hadn’t been since before all this rough sailing crashed down on us. I used to love planting flowers and tilling the soil. There’s no time for that now.

Yesterday afternoon we went to look at an apartment. We both loved it, though it was a rule out for Serena because of the new off-gassing smells. But it was a rule in for me. This two bedroom, easy lay out, very manageable home felt so right, and I’m filling out an application. Perhaps the timing will work out so we can find Serena a place and then move into this new place ourselves, while we wait for a buyer for our own home. It doesn’t sound practical or smart or financially prudent to carry two to three places, but sometimes the best thing for everybody means taking chances and easing burdens. I’m all for easing burdens, especially mine.

I’m writing more on Quill Point this weekend, hoping to write ten pages or so. I think I’ll have Eva start a succulent garden. And maybe some container gardens. She’s got some treasures in that shed she and her dad built. What odd containers do you plant your flowers in?

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.






Sometimes you just have to spend it.

Hello from rainy Vermont. It’s been so rainy for so long I couldn’t stand it, so I busted out of here,  went to the Forget Me Not Shop in Johnson, and bought fifty-six dollars worth of rain depression clothes. Two summer dresses, two winter sweaters, one summer work shirt, a turtleneck, and a pair of jean shorts. The clothes were new but cast off, a step up from the Good Will clothes I usually find for myself. I vetted each piece as “forever clothes,” and went home to cut tags and show my purchases to the girls. That lasted all of two hours. Then the darn rain came back.

So I looked around the house. Our upstairs bathroom needed a good scrub. Nah. There were stacks of papers on my office table. Nah. Quill Point waited. Nah. If I couldn’t get outside and sit on my chairs for yet another day, I needed something with pizazz to get through. So I sat on the sofa with my wet dog and turned the television on to my new favorite “fold the laundry” home show, Good Bones, and watched it without any laundry. Yep, I actually watched television without folding laundry. (Note how exciting my life is.)

Then I remembered what I could do. Something fun but necessary. You ready for it? The Vacation List! The list of groceries for a week’s worth of coastal meals. The list explaining about our dog’s routines. The list of kitchen items to bring. My personal list of what to pack. The reminder to bring Bananagrams, Apples to Apples, and decks of cards. And the list of important phone numbers for the road and at home for the dog/house sitter.

I reached for the remote and turned the television off. I found an old one-subject notebook filled with wide-ruled blank paper. I grabbed a cup of fresh tea. And began. And then, something bright caught my eye. Sunlight from the window. For a brief moment, the sun came out. And then, it disappeared. As quick as that. I sighed and turned back to my list. Another rainy weekend in Vermont.

What do you do to keep sane after a long stretch of rainy days? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.





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