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Hostess Gift

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The road home.

Each day will become increasingly hot and humid this week so I’m up at 5am doing as much as I can before the heat of the day hits. And let’s be honest, it’s the humidity that’s the problem. Heat feels good! Heat loosens muscles and opens joints; it dries laundry in just a few hours. Heat sweetens berries and calls for dinner on the deck. Heat warms the shoulders and begs for shoes to be tossed aside. But oh man, I’m the biggest baby when extreme humidity piggybacks on the heat of the day. So, after I type out a few words I’ll switch to getting some physical work done this morning, then I may freely sloth about this afternoon.

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The first round of garden planting is nearly complete. Now to mulch and begin the never ending cycle of keeping the weeds under control. It’s not too bad if I stay committed to my two rows per day maintenance routine. You’re never really done in the garden, but a habit of tending small amounts each day helps it to feel manageable. We were up north over the weekend and planted a small garden while there. I focused on a few cold tolerant plants, being a week or so early for the main planting time on the north ridge. But a gardener has to get something in the the ground! Kale, cabbage, broccoli, and zucchini (okay, I may have rushed the zucchini, we’ll see). I have no expectations for this garden, it’s more of a watch and learn sort of thing. New climate, new soil, new critters. Like the MOOSE that was standing outside the kitchen window of our Aunt and Uncle’s house when I was making coffee at 5:30 in the morning. Is he going to enjoy my kale, I wonder?

Anyway, zero expectations, I just had to get my hands in the soil. And wouldn’t you know, the very first, totally random, roadside farm stand we stopped at while in search of compost had all organic plant starts. Our first random stop, all organic! That is unheard of down here. I picked up a few perennial herbs in addition to the cold loving veggies (and the hopefully strong and mighty zucchini). I deliberately didn’t plant seeds up north even though I’m anxious to see what carrots and beets do in that cool northern climate. That is some of the darkest, richest soil a girl could ask for. I just won’t be there to water them daily for the first couple of weeks and seeds are pretty unforgiving without that early love.

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Really happy this (tiny) vegetable plot is in. We have no road access to our property yet, but there is a garden! Perhaps it will only serve as an offering for the local fauna, but hey, it’s the least we can do for showing up on their turf. Let's call it a hostess gift.

Some Blog Housekeeping


"No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit."

- Helen Keller


Hey... can I talk to you briefly about something? It’s about this blog. This blog is, as it always has been, about my life. Not all of it of course, but whatever I’m compelled to share, and whatever I’m currently passionate about or occupied with. And right now? Well, we’re kind of in the middle of working our tails off to make a life long dream come true. According to one recently received (and deleted) comment, writing about it makes me a crappy person. It makes me all about “acquisitions” and she is done reading here. There was a lot more to her comment, but that is the gist of it. I am not currently writing about the things she wants me to write about, and that’s a problem for her. (I’m not even sure what to say about that.)

Yes, we’ve worked and saved and even gave up home ownership so we could try to position ourselves for a better life. A life that currently includes an off grid piece of family land in the boonies and a cheap old camper. Just call me Donald Trump.

That wasn’t the part of her comment that truly got my attention though. And I’m trying not to use too many of her words in this post because my heart breaks for her, as out of line as she was. It was the “how lucky for you” type of talk, which tells me there is an undercurrent of wanting on her part. I don’t have the answers to how each of us can fulfill our dreams, but I do know for certain that tearing down another person’s life is not the way to build up your own. 

As blog readers, let us remember how this works. Lives grow and evolve, this is normal. We are free to lose interest in a person's blog/story at any time, but we do not need to make such a public display and attack them as we move on. Just go. It's a blog... there is no need to take it so seriously.

This post is a reminder that I will continue to write about whatever is happening in my life, and as is the general course for us humans, through the years I will grow and change. Feel free to come and go as you please; I love having you here but I also get it if your interests no longer align with mine. That's life, there's no reason to lose our cool about it.

And finally, may I ask that if you choose to leave a comment on this post, please do not criticize the person who left the comment. I sense there is already enough pain in her life. If anything, send up a little prayer of love and abundance for her.

Okay, let us carry on.

Dialing Back a Life

Early may garden

This morning in the garden.


Reading through your comments on my last post was helpful, thank you.  I fear my tendency toward impatience (and subsequent effort to instead actually be patient) might be misconstrued as not feeling grateful for all that is before us. It’s the complete opposite though, and it seems you get that, so thank you. Any impatience I am feeling is born from the sheer excitement of what is to come. I’m a kid on Christmas Eve. No sleep for me as I spend all night staring out the window looking for Santa’s sleigh across the sky. I’m dreaming of the twinkly magic that is sure to come with the morning sun. It’s all so close. And to be honest, there is much needed relief in knowing the countless 2am wake up times so I could work, work, work, have meant something.

I’m amazed at the work involved in scaling back a life to near primitive existence. The undoing of decades spent more dependent on industry and institutions than I once believed. More than I care to admit. The sorting of commitments and plans and careers and investments in education that we’ll be paying back to the end of time. And all I really want is a small cabin with a good water source and plenty of firewood to keep it all going. Some seeds in the ground. People to share it with. Peace and quiet.

This phase of parenting is a hard one. Not in the typical sense we are told raising teens will be. (Raising teenagers is rather fantastic, actually.) It’s the slow process of setting up separate lives and the tending to transition with support, respect, and great interest. It doesn’t happen in a week or two. It’s not the kind of milestone such as little kids learning to climb a tree or start a campfire. This rise into adulthood is tender and slow. Parenting teens is a time investment like no other. Maybe I’m just too soft, but I don’t think so. You've got to be there, and you've got to make sure they know you believe in their awesomeness and that they can trust you. That you have their back. Big energy. Totally worthwhile.

So here I am with a desire to dial back my own life to the point of basic living. All the while aware of my role in supporting a daughter as she begins the grand adventure of building her adult life and future. Knowing that her future plans may not involve an outhouse or blissed out excitement over sourcing cow manure from antibiotic/hormone free grass fed cows... or heck, owning cows. I mean, her future could consist of these things, but it’s too early to tell.

Chicken run

Life feels kind of surreal these days. Parenting an only child means your nest empties in one fell swoop. Isn’t that wild? Poof! They’re gone. Not that I think she, or we, want for her to leave anytime soon (we do have a really cool dog after all that she would go to the end of the earth for, and he’s still a young lad), I’m just more aware than ever it will happen soon enough. The good news is she is so fiercely mature and independent that I know she’s going to find her place in this world far more quickly than her mother did. Which is all we ever want for our children, yes? Stronger, smarter, healthier, kinder, happier... that is my wish for her. And if she decides to throw a cow and an outhouse into her future plans, well then I know of a bucolic piece of Vermont where she can make that happen.

The Plan is Patience

Patience 1

Look at all the green.

I've been feeling homesick for our land. For that place. Not sure I've ever felt homesick before, outside of seeking the comfort of our own digs after traveling. But truly homesick? I don't believe I have. And yet here I am, longing for a place I hardly know yet.

When we closed on the land in January, I was elated. Overwhelmed actually, with the feeling you are told to expect after buying your first house... but I never did. I kept my cool though. A winter filled with history-making snow accumulations will keep you rooted in place, for sure. I didn't want for much all winter. The acreage was there and it had our name on it, that was plenty. I felt remarkably patient. And then the snow melted. Now the trees are leafing out and birdsong is wild each morning. All I can think of is being there, not here. So where do we begin?

The other day I was having a conversation with someone and he asked about our plans for up north. He lives there so he knows the area well. It's a little overwhelming to explain the ever-expanding outline of ideas that are bounced back and forth in this house over morning coffee. Twenty years worth, no less. But I was able to express the basics - access, shelter, water. That's pretty much the plan. (We have no plans to tie into the grid at this time.) Then in a moment of trying not to freak out because as simple as that plan is, it's huge for a family that lives two states away and is trying to pay as we go. So in my next breath, I said "the plan is patience." It has to be. Not only to keep my spirit intact through the process, but to keep myself relaxed and on task. I don't want to miss the small details. I want to meet the folks at the town hall, the very place that as a little boy, my husband helped build a stonewall that sits out front today. I want to observe the sun's path so we may best understand how to orient the cabin. I want to make time for sourcing supplies that not only match our aesthetic, but our principles.

Patience 2

Down here I support my husband's career and Emily's very transitional life phase. I tend our garden and care for chickens. But I also jot ideas into my notebook and mark the calendar for official permit acquiring visits with the town. I scour Craigslist for farm sinks and cook stoves. Consumed with the notion to just be there already (!), but knowing that patience combined with steadfastness is the only way. It's a heck of a chapter in our lives, one that must be savored and kept in forward motion.

Access, shelter, water... patience. That is the plan.

Season Opener



For months we've been planning to head north for a one day only heirloom fruit  tree sale at a Vermont orchard on May 2nd. Fruit trees take time. The best time to get started on your orchard is last year. It seemed reasonable to plant fruit trees as soon as possible on our land. But May 1st rolled around and I thanked the blessed universe that April was behind us. Our cup runneth over for the entire month, and quite frankly I just wanted a weekend to breathe. Scratch that. I needed a weekend to breathe. We all did.




I felt like committing to our garden for a solid 48 hours, stopping only for water, enough food to keep us going, showers and sleep. And that is indeed what we wound up doing. The fruit trees will be for sale next year, I can still move plenty of raspberries up this year, and there is honestly plenty of work to do in terms of prepping the land for cultivation. Plus there is the bonus of keeping a few hundred bucks in my pocket to put toward our cabin/road access/water. First things first.




Man, this weekend was the best. Like most gardeners in the northeast, I was feeling a week or two behind out there. Sure, we stuck a mess of peas in the ground a couple of weeks ago (even that felt late), but then I failed to water them properly and we only had 1-2 days of good rain between planting and finally getting back out there this weekend. With April being ridiculously busy and all, our watering system hadn't been rigged up yet and I was certain all those peas may have begun to germinate in the rain, then not had enough water to continue... withering under the soil. Thankfully, they pulled through and when we dove into our garden work this weekend, all six rows were sprouting through the soil nice and proud. Our first springtime miracle. 


With nothing but blue skies, sunshine, and 75-80 degree weather in  front of us, we turned soil and re-established beds that were destroyed by a certain flocks of chickens (they've seen their last off-season run of the garden). We planted seeds, trellised peas, planted potatoes and so much more I can't even recall. All of this was followed by two nights of fantastically deep, bone tired sleep.

This morning I am a new person. The blah of March is gone, the unusually busy April is in the books, and there is nothing but garden and cabin dreams in front of us. 

This marks my first garden post for the year. I'll soon add it to the garden page, which is a great place to visit for garden inspiration or commiseration... whichever you may be in need of. Successes and failures, it's all there. 



 Now that we are four years into gardening on this property, I realize it is tradition to set aside a full weekend to kick things off. A weekend where you start the day with birdsong and coffee among the rows, and barely leave until you do a final walk through after the chickens are put to bed. It never gets old, this first weekend. And this weekend in particular was one heck of a season opener. After the winter we've had, it felt ridiculously indulgent and well deserved.

Here's to a long and fruitful season!