Our Weekend

Our weekend was one of trying to get some rest, and trying to take care of some things we really needed to do.

First, we fully opened the beehives, making sure each one had a colony that was strong and healthy. If you have not had the opportunity to see a beehive in action, bees are amazing! Here we were, pulling frames in the hive, cleaning the hive, and the thousands of bees basically ignored us.

Then we needed to spend time in the gardens. We weeded, pulled dead plants, and then harvested as needed.

One of the things we needed to harvest were Sam’s hot peppers. Many of you know that the last Mother’s Day of Sam’s life, he brought me two hot pepper plants, knowing how much I like spicy food, and how much I like to make my own lacto-fermented hot sauce. After his death, I tried saving some of their seeds, first time I’d ever done that with anything other than pumpkins, and amazingly, the seeds germinated the next spring. Each year now, I keep some of the seeds, and replant them, and we all refer to them as “Sam’s hot peppers.” Here is a picture of one of the plants:



We carefully picked each of the bright red peppers, and in the end, we had huge bucket full of them. Aren’t they beautiful?




Then we had other things to harvest. We harvested one row of potatoes, our sweet potato plot, cucumbers, bell peppers, patty pan squashes, and basil.



We also picked what may be the last of our plum tomatoes. After that was all done, the dehydrator is full of basil and hot peppers, the tomatoes were pureed and made into sauce, and we made a huge bowl of pico de gallo to have with our quesadillas stuffed with our vegetables.

By the end of the day, we were tired, filthy, and proud. How lucky we are that we share the love of farming as a couple, and how fortunate we are to be able to spend time digging in the earth.




This week a very exciting thing happened. I received notification that Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude is ready for printing. This means that within the next couple weeks, my first author’s copies will arrive in the mail. I can’t wait to sit and hold one in my hands.

The second part of that news means that Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude is now available for pre-order on Amazon. The pre-order is on the print (paperback) version only, which will be released on May 21, 2019.

Here is a screenshot of it on Amazon:

amazon page

Once I get my author’s copies, and I have checked that there were no glitches in the printing process, I will be adding paperback copies of the book to my bookstore here on this website.

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Those copies will be available for purchase by mid to late October, and will ship out in the mail within a couple days of placing the orders. Each copy sold here on my website will be signed.

The e-book will release on Amazon and other online retailers on February 5, 2019.

Once I have more updates on this process, or when they are available for purchase through my bookstore, I will post the information on this site.

If you prefer to order directly through Amazon’s pre-ordering process, you can do so at:

Pre-Order of Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude on Amazon

As always, thank you all for your support of us!


Garlic is important to us, very important. It’s so important that it is in the title of my soon-to-be-released memoir.

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Why garlic? Because Sam loved garlic. Sam thought the idea of planting cloves in the beds in the fall, mulching them, and them coming up in the fall was just plain amazing.

After Sam’s death, the farm he worked for donated heads of garlic to decorate the meeting house for his celebration of life. These were heads of garlic he had helped to grow, and in our minds, they represented Sam. After the service, we planted them in a garlic bed on our land.

The first year, we planted one small box of garlic, and miracle of miracles, they did really well.

The second year, we planted two boxes. One and a half boxes were of Sam’s garlic, one half was of this high powered garlic we ordered from California, thinking we’d get some variety in our garlic.

Nope. That wasn’t going to happen. We planted those two boxes, and in the spring, one and a half boxes came up. The fancy California garlic? Not a head made it. We took it as Sam’s way of saying that we should be planting just his garlic.

So that year, we planted two boxes of Sam’s garlic, and again, it did well, as it did the next year.

This year, those boxes were about done. The lumber had aged, and so we decided to build new ones. After a lot of thought, we have made one big box instead of two boxes, moved it away from the alpaca fence so they can’t munch on the greenery, and it’s easier to weed.

The second week of October, on or around the anniversary of Sam’s death, we will once again dig in the rich Vermont soil and plant his garlic. As before, we will reminisce, laugh, probably cry a little, as we tuck those cloves in and cover them with mulch.


The Why

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Lately I’ve been thinking about the why. Why did I write a book about my grief journey? What motivated me? Why, if it is painful to relive these memories, did I do it?

About six months ago, I saw this video:

Video about The Why

Do yourself a favor and watch it. This video made a huge impact on me, as the need to understand your reasons for doing something became clearer to me.

My why? As I wrote before, thousands and thousands of incredible lives are snuffed out each year by overdoses. Beyond that cause of death, people die all the time, and all of us experience grief at some point, and I thought that maybe my experiences would help someone else feel that no matter how great the darkness they are feeling, no matter how profound the grief, finding hope and joy again is possible.

But truthfully, that wasn’t my only why. My other why is the subtitle of my memoir, Sam’s Love Story. Sam’s love shown from him all the time. He loved people, he could see the beauty in everyone he met, even when they couldn’t see it, or when society said that person was trash. Sam saw the wonder, and loved unconditionally. My why? I needed to show that sort of love is possible, and maybe right now, when the world seems to be struggling with even reaching the point of civility, let alone love, I needed to share a message that at the end of the day, what matters is how much love we have given.


As a child, family meals followed a very regular pattern, and there was very little variety. Meat, potatoes or rice, a cooked vegetable. Spaghetti once and a while. Vegetables were pretty much limited to peas, carrots (not together!), corn, zucchini or yellow squash, cooked broccoli, pea pods in the early summer, and the dreaded lima beans. Simple salads sometimes. Potatoes were mashed or baked french fries.

Then I got married, we became enamored of heritage vegetables, and the world opened up. Before I was married, I had never had beets unless they were pickled. The funny thing now? Beets are one of my favorite foods, but I hate pickled beets. I love raw beets, fermented beets, roasted beets, beets in soups. Then other vegetables! Kale, Swiss chard, patty pan squashes, winter squashes, radishes, pea pods, beans of all colors, dried beans, onions of every shade of color, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, arugula, peppers of every size and heat, eggplants, cabbage! The varieties and options are almost unlimited. My favorite lunch? Raw broccoli chopped with carrots, beets, and a red onion, with a splash of sushi vinegar and some roasted garbanzo beans on it all.

Now I laugh as I watch my grown children fuss with their own gardens, looking for variety in the vegetables themselves, but then looking also for the beautiful colors that can be found in the heritage vegetables.

Fall is here!

This weekend fall arrived in Vermont. I don’t mean just the changing of the seasons with the equinox, I mean the changing of the weather, and the fall harvest season kicking into full gear.

This morning it was 45 degrees when I woke up. Last Sunday morning, it was 67. Big difference. This morning the laying hens were all standing together in a sunbeam, fluffed up, trying to warm up. Even Ellsbury was standing in the sunshine, like he was trying to collect its warmth.

With the cooler temperatures, we feel the urgency of finishing the fall chores. The chimneys, woodstove and fireplace have been cleaned. The garden is beginning to come down, we will plant our garlic in the next couple weeks.

Here is a picture of Ellsbury and Kahuna enjoying the pulled broccoli plants.



With the end of the garden season, we harvested a rainbow yesterday for our dinner.


We had red potatoes, a seedless cucumber, red onions, heritage beets, carrots, bell peppers, yellow squash, hot peppers and Swiss chard. I love the colors!

Then, after harvesting, cleaning, storing, I finally finished a scarf I’ve been working on, then washed skeins of our alpaca yarn for my next project.


After all of that was done, I went out to look at Sam’s maple tree. No sign of change of the foliage yet, but we know it will be soon.


Now it’s time for some fall cooking for dinners this week. A chicken pie, then beef barley stew, and if there is time, butternut squash soup.

Thoughts About Loss

In the last weeks, people I care about have lost a child, and people I care about have survived the anniversaries surrounding their own losses. It has made me reflect a bit.

When someone I know, we know, loses a child, it is a visceral experience for me. I feel that ache for them, feel the sadness and rage that they couldn’t be spared that pain. It doesn’t matter how old the child, whether a tiny infant or a grown man, it makes my very heart ache, and makes me want to do something, anything, to help them. It makes me become even more hyper-vigilant about checking on our kids, just needing to know they are okay. That little sniffle? Maybe we should get that child into the doctor? That silly grocery request? Sure, I’d be happy to drive miles and miles to bring that item, but more importantly to see the faces of our children. It makes me remember again how awful those first days were, how it seemed like we wouldn’t survive.

But survive we did, and then we hit anniversaries. For me, I was completely convinced (partly because of people who hadn’t experienced such loss telling me it was true) that on day 366 after Sam’s death, the light would come back on for me. On day 366, I wasn’t going to cry, or want to cry, almost every day. On day 366, I was going to be able to see Sam’s stuff, like his buzz-cutter for his hair, and not fall apart.

And you know what? On day 366, 367, 483 and every other day since 365, it wasn’t that the light just came back on for me. Anniversaries still kick me, kick us, hard. But eventually I came to understand that they are hard, they will be hard, and it’s okay. I learned to accept that there are times when I can laugh so hard I can’t breathe or talk, but then have the tears come rushing in right behind. I learned that the light is there, it has always been there, if only I have the eyes to see it.

I also learned to look for the beauty in the world, no matter how odd the location. This is a picture of my garlic chives, which have flowered. I didn’t plant them for their flowers, I planted them as an herb, but yesterday they bloomed unexpectedly — I just needed to take the time to stop and see their beauty.



As I have been working on pre-release activities for Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude, it has made me think again about why the concept of gratitude is so important to me.

For me, gratitude is the core concept/belief of recognizing the good. After Sam’s death, I was so sad, so overwhelmed, it was easy to “grow a garden of grievances,” instead of recognizing what was going well, or how hard people (or animals) were working to support us. It was the changing of my own responses from being mad when the store clerk was rude to instead recognizing (and being thankful) when the other customer thanked me for helping her. It was recognizing when neighbors helped us round up the alpacas when they escaped, instead of being mad they (the alpacas) had jumped the fence.

My grief was so strong, so deep, that it would have been easier to just slip below the waves of the grief and drown. I, we, made a conscious decision to not drown, and the only way I could find to keep my head above the waves was to actively look around me, and find the positives, and then to openly give thanks for them.

No matter what, no matter how complete the darkness, there is always something for which you can be thankful.