That Poplar Tree

It has been quite a long time since I last posted. I’d like to say that was because we were off having some amazing trip somewhere, enjoying every minute of an adventure.

We weren’t…

The last month of 2022, and the start of 2023, have been rocky, to say the very least. My father entered the hospital in early December, then a nursing facility, then progressed quickly to hospice, and passed away. Around that same time, we had a massive windstorm, lost power for three days, and tried to find some joy in the holiday season.

January started with my father’s celebration of life, while we still dealt with issues with vehicles, wheelchairs, and damage from the windstorm.

Amid all of this, we also endured another huge family loss, and one that likely is not what you might expect.

The windstorm knocked down our poplar tree.

Our tree.

This tree was far, far too large. It had been for decades. When we were just dating, I can remember my husband saying that the tree wouldn’t last much longer, as it was already far older and taller than most poplars. Every big storm, we would talk about maybe this was the end for our old friend, and until December 2022, we were always wrong.

The tree had been part of almost every memory on this property. We played horseshoes and croquet under it. We sat under it and talked. In the late spring, it covered everything with its downy strands. We watched our children grow up playing in its shade.

The tree was as much a part of the family as any person.

Suddenly, the morning my father passed, the tree also passed. It fell without us hearing a sound. Now, it could have landed on the animal barn, or the animals themselves, but it didn’t. No, it took out part of the back fence and the chicken aviary, but otherwise spared the barn and animals.

Every person who has come over had commented at the root ball that now can be seen reaching up into the sky, and even experienced excavators have said they do not know how to deal with even just the roots.

As I grieve the loss of my father, I often think of the tree as well. It feels like in losing both on the same day, that some of the stability in our lives has shifted. No longer do I look up at that tree over and over each day, either from the window or outside. Now there is a gaping hole in our skyline, just as there is one in our family lineage as well.

Over time, other trees and relationships will reshape those spaces, but they will never be exactly the same as they were.




Thrashing and Gratitude



Wow! It has been a long, long time since my last post here. I didn’t actually realize how long it has been.

The last months have been a whirlwind as we have tried to finish some accessibility projects, find an accessible vehicle, take care of all of our physical and emotional needs, struggle to get access to new treatments, and take Scout for all of her desired walks.

It has been a time of what I refer to as thrashing — wanting to slam doors and yell at the injustices in the world, and often, in healthcare. How can patients be denied the opportunity to even try treatments? How can we be FIFTY-ONE days past the approval of a treatment for ALS (not a cure, not even to improve things, just a possible way to slow it somewhat), and we can’t even get the “patient care” team of the pharmaceutical company to respond to multiple requests as to where we are in the process?

It has also been a time of thrashing in terms of grief.

Recently, a former student died of an overdose. Unequivocally, he was the brightest student I ever taught — and over the course of my teaching career; I have taught many more than a 1000 students. He made me laugh. He made me think. He questioned me constantly. I learned far more from him than he did from me. His light shone brightly, even as he struggled. I was, and am, proud to have known him, and he left an indelible mark on my heart and mind.

When Sam died, this student (now an adult and the parent of several children) came to see me at my work to express his support for all of us. At the time, he’d been in recovery for a long time. We sat and talked, and his understanding of my grief, and his gentle love and support, made me cry with gratitude.

COVID messed up that recovery, as so many recovering addicts could not get access to the supports they needed.

That’s not okay. We need to do better, period.

Much better.

Everyone is worthy of love, support, appropriate/affordable/accessible care. Period.

As I thrashed, I also realized that it has been a time full of love and support. Beautiful artwork arriving in the mail. Mystery postcards expressing support and love. Countless friends and family stepping forward to offer whatever help they can. Pruning, raking, fixing fences, walking Scout, helping Paul explore the natural world, all have happened, and are so appreciated.

So, I’m back — still thrashing, still grateful.

Won’t you join me in both being grateful, and in a commitment to making our world a better place?


The Changing Times and Views

Lately, it has been a very busy time for us as a family, and a time full of changes and challenges for us all.

Health challenges.

New jobs.

Lost feathered friends.

Changing or adjusting goals.

New realities.

We have faced them all. All within the last month or so, and it has been a whirlwind. At times, it seemed almost overwhelming. No, scrap that. It was overwhelming, but then we refocused and found our way again.

This journey of ALS is teaching us so much. Our old self-expectations have to be re-visited and adjusted almost daily. That huge garden that could produce most of our produce needs? It has to be trimmed back as we just don’t have the time, energy, or enough help to accomplish it all. The hope of having the kitchen project done by the first of July? Not happening.

None of this is due to lack of effort or devotion. It is because of the sheer amount of work and time involved in the daily realities of our changing lives. The time spent on things like medical appointments and improving accessibility is almost unimaginable.

What we are learning is that the quality of life, and love, matter more than anything, and that, that we have!



Wow, I suddenly realized how long it has been since my last post.

Over the last months, our lives have been a whirlwind of activity. First, we had to deal with a Vermont winter. Then we traveled as a family to a vacation in the Dominican Republic, then got COVID, and were all consumed with making needed adaptations to our home with my husband’s changing needs.

It has been a time of reflection. Of laughter and trying to stay hopeful. Of fun and fear. Of grieving for what we have lost, and what we will lose. It has been a time of snuggles with Scout, and knitting.

Finally, it is time for the vegetable garden. I can not tell you how much good it does my spirit to see the garden coming to life. The first meals of produce from our garden have been a gift both in terms of taste and the sense of hope they have provided.

The Story of the Story

My first, and latest, novel releases tomorrow!

What do I mean by that? My newest novel, That Missed Call, will be released by Between the Lines Publishing tomorrow, and I can’t wait!

This novel was the first complete novel I ever wrote, started in 1993, when I was a stay-at-home mom. Our Sam didn’t believe in naps. Frankly, he found the world too interesting to waste time on sleeping. He would, however, take time each day when he would happily listen to music (Yanni and Meatloaf), play with toys, or look at books in his crib. He would babble away, and I would sit nearby, working on our old Mac computer.

The story of Kat and Alex started from a snippet of a dream. As it came to life, it took many strange turns and twists. Over the years, I kept revising it and sending it out to agents and publishers. My first full manuscript request made me scream with joy and excitement.

One day, an agent responded to my query. He liked the general story, but wanted me to make some major changes if I wanted his representation. At that time, it was entitled The Dirty Dishes, and it started with Kat stepping in dog feces while running. After all, in the 1990s, that was a true hazard in New York City! I took the agent’s suggestions to heart, revised it, and for a short while, he half-heartedly represented it.

Another round of major revisions, and the process started over again. Then again. Then again.

Then Sam died. Twenty years had passed since I started the book, and with Sam’s death, I stopped writing completely.

Except I couldn’t stop. I love to write. And that story, by then called The Phone Call, was part of my DNA as a writer, and was part of Sam’s legacy. I needed to see the process through, so I hired a superb editor, and within weeks of that editing process, I had my first publishing contract.

That day, the day of being offered a publishing contract, was one of the most emotional days of my life. I screamed with joy. I cried. I jumped up and down. Other than my husband and our youngest son, I didn’t tell anyone that day, wanting to wait until the contract was signed.

Then I went to the cemetery and told Sam all about it. And I cried again. He had so believed in me and my writing, and I so wanted to hug him with joy.

Fast forward to now, and what was once The Phone Call, is now That Missed Call. It is not the same book in so many ways, as so many talented professionals have worked with me to bring it to this point. So while it is somewhat of a re-release, it is actually what I would refer to as a rebirth of a story that started with a snippet of a dream so many years ago.