2019 Winter Garden Plans

Taking inventory for early spring planting

We have had so much snow this winter! No complaints here, as we need the moisture. I love the blanket of silence the snow gives. Every dull brown sign of winter is bright and cheerful again. Snow brings hope where it once was forgotten.

March 4, 2019

Gardening is an endeavor of hope. It is an active engagement of optimism and grounded communion.

It is one of the most rewarding hobbies in which I’ve invested my time and efforts. Opening a seed catalog takes my mind off the winter cold and allows me to look forward to the warmth of the sun and the greening of spring. If I get seeds started before April I notice a shift of attitude in myself and my children. In keeping with the rhythm of our home, we observe what each season brings by enjoying the outdoors as the weather allows.

Planting seeds together brings joy and anticipation inside, of warmer days playing outside, and in the gardens. The kids get to make choices and take ownership of their plants and gardens. I get to spend time with my kids sharing my love for them and gardening.

Sowing, planting, and growing exalts trust in the earth and fervent anticipation of future harvest.

It has been bitterly cold this first week of March. Right now the temperature is 17 but it feels like 11 degrees. By this Saturday we are supposed to be enjoying temps in the 50s and I am counting on it. It has been a long cold winter.

Rough diagram of espalier 2018. Does not include stone fruit trees and berries.

I am looking forward to taking stock of how many plants and trees survived and how many I will need to replace. Last spring I planted several fruit trees, bushes, and vines. I believe this winter may have finished off the rest that were struggling. The dead trees and vines are from bunnies and the scorching dry summer we had in 2018. I don’t know that the bunnies allowed me one blueberry or blackberry plant.

Different vantage of beginning espalier to the right. You can see the tree and grape plant tags.

This spring we will be installing the wires and eye bolts to train the trees and vines. We covered the small heated pond with a plywood board. It needs to be cleaned and replenished. Our border collie kept eating the dead plant matter out of it and getting sick. She is our lovable little weirdo. We have so much cleaning and planning ahead.

‘Luna’ aka ‘Luna Petunia’, ‘Luna Bear’, and ‘Luna-toons’

Until then, I will be seeking the breaking buds, peeking tulips and crocus; looking for daffodils to announce the long winter slumber has ended.

“I Don’t Believe in Abortion Either”

“I don’t believe in abortion either.”

This is what she said to me as she ambled to my side. I was watching my children play in the children’s zero depth pool. It was the end of summer preschool outing for my two eldest children. My eldest son was almost 5, my daughter had just turned 3 and I held my youngest in my arms, who was around 10 months old at the time.

I had been enjoying myself. I was exhausted caring for 3 under 5, but I was enjoying the sunshine and laughter of small children splashing in water. I was especially enjoying my children. I sat on one of the many lounge chairs along with several other parents. My youngest on my lap, I enjoyed soaking in the sun as he gnawed on his fist. When he got restless I walked around keeping him entertained in my arms. To put him down meant a constant effort to keep him out of the water.

My husband couldn’t make it out of work that day. There was another mother or two who donned their suits to join in with their younger children. I hadn’t wanted to try on swimsuits. I just wasn’t ready. This was my choice.

Still, I had been enjoying my children and myself.

I was happy, dammit.

“I don’t believe in abortion either.”

Her words took my breath away. I waited for what would come next. I was horrified but curious. What was this preschool teacher talking about? Why was she saying this to me?

“Um, whaaat? Actually, I believe in a woman’s right to choose.” What the fuck.

Her words that followed made no sense to me, as if she were speaking in a different tongue, foreign to my ears and my heart. I struggled to make sense of what she was saying. She had three children. The last a boy. She grieved over not wanting that last child. Boy, had she not wanted that last child.

“Well, it took us almost 4 years to have our first child so I’m very happy with our decisions.”

Still she kept talking.

She hadn’t wanted three children but she made the best of it and now they were all grown and doing well. I stood listening, holding my sweet baby, wondering where she was going with this one-sided conversation. I wondered how this all had anything to do with me. I knew I didn’t like what she had assumed and I knew this would not end well.

The other assistant teacher present was much younger, maybe in her mid-twenties,  sat with her back to us and her feet dangling in the water. She had been listening and turned her head to interject only to state she would have only two, if she had any at all.

I could feel the rage in my calm but incredulous demeanor bubbling to the surface. I had kept a conversational tone, that, up to this point had included “Oh”, and “I have enjoyed and wanted all of my children”. This hadn’t made her stop talking.

The 60-plus year old assistant teacher of my children’s preschool class kept talking like she hadn’t made her point perfectly clear. I felt a cold heat rising in my neck, reaching my ears, and then like a geyser springing forth from my mouth, I said it. I said the nicest thing I could think at that moment.

“I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy your children.”

“Oh. I enjoyed my children.”


We studied one another’s face.

I broke the silence.

“Oh, ok.”

I can’t remember any words that followed. I knew she was trying to justify her words. All of those putrid misguided words. She couldn’t. Not to me. I excused myself to watch my children and to wash clean the vileness that had clouded my experience.

They had been watching me that morning, making awful assumptions, and then acting on them. Dear God. What the hell is wrong with people?

What is wrong with me? I should have shut that shit down immediately. I didn’t. Again, horrified but curious me actually wondered what I had done wrong that morning. Did I deserve this treatment?

I scoured all my actions and feelings leading up to that moment. I am a pretty self-reflective person so this affected me more than it should have. I honestly, couldn’t think of anything leading up to this day that would justify this treatment. I had felt good despite my husband not being able to attend. Though, I had felt in my gut I really needed him there and now I knew why. My gut is never wrong.

I vowed never to allow any more of my children to be in any of her classes. This was hard, because she assisted in teaching the main preschool classes at the art center we had decided to make our children’s preschool community. I was pissed and hurt. I felt utter betrayal. I felt something very special had been taken from me and my children. The world was a colder place.

I thought about talking to the director. I thought about how my demeanor had been misread in such a horrible way. Maybe it was my face. Maybe it was how tired I was. Maybe.

Maybe I looked unhappy even though I knew I wasn’t. I was just tired.

Maybe if my husband had remembered to take off work, this wouldn’t have happened.

Maybe that horrid woman shouldn’t have made assumptions about my life or my children and then without thinking, accosted me with it.

“I don’t believe in abortion either.”

Abortion. What the fuck.

Clearly people, the only reason a woman would have a third child isn’t because she wanted that third child. She just doesn’t believe in abortion. Gross.

Aren’t we allowed to be tired? Can’t we, as mothers, allow one another to be joyful and tired?

An older mother with grown children made some pretty base assumptions based only off my demeanor as a tired mother of 3 under 5.

Shouldn’t she know better?

Well, maybe she does now.

If I am honest with myself she had been a judgy bitch towards me the whole summer session I had my kids in her class. I got the impression she thought I was younger than I was, and gee, my kids sure are spaced close together, and of course all the other judgments that come with having more than 2.

Over the following years I enrolled my children in other classes at the center she didn’t teach. We also didn’t go there as much. When we would see each other there was no eye contact. She ignored my husband and I and our children and that was just fine with me.

Yet it speaks volumes.

She hasn’t learned a damn thing.

Age does not belie wisdom.

Never stop growing as a person because so many do.

Do not ever let anyone put their baggage on you.

Do not ever let anyone dim your light.

Speak up.

Trust your gut.


Mother Loss & the Necessity of Self Care

The Empty Chair

Mother Loss & the Necessity of Self Care

My Mother’s birthday is April 1st.

The month of April encompasses her birthday, then my birthday, sometimes Easter. Closely followed by Mother’s Day.

This time of year when everything is coming awake again my mama is never far from my thoughts.

Purple pansies and white tulips

Mother Loss and Nurturing Ourselves


April Showers Bring May Flowers

Normally, on her birthday I would have planted flowers, pansies. They were one of her favorites. However, our spring rains put a damper on it. The rain has only postponed it. (Oh, how we need this rain!) I am always looking for new ways to honor my Mother that remain meaningful and personal.

I often wonder what she would look like and what we would talk about. What kind of relationship would she have with our children? My Mother was sweet, kind, intelligent, very thoughtful and loving. She had a great sense of humor. She laughed at my antics. She got my inside jokes.

She was beautiful.

She was so many wonderful things.

We had a good relationship. We were close.

She died at 45. I was 16 years old.

Our relationship, forever crystallized at this point in our development. We will never know anything more.

She was murdered by my father while I slept. After he shot my mother, he shot himself.

I slept through it all.

I woke to my little sister and brother whispering to me from the foot of my bed.

“I think Dad’s in the house.”

I went downstairs. I opened the door to my parents’ bedroom.

I found my Father.

I found my Mother.

I lost myself.

I lost my soft place to land and my anchor. My world would never be the same.

I walked around with an invisible gaping wound for a long time.

All those thoughts once shared. “I can’t wait to tell Mom … ”

You can’t pick up the phone. You can’t walk in the front door. You can never go home again. Where there was once warmth and love, emptiness.

The loving presence with a willing ear and kind words at the ready is missing, replaced with unbearable silence. I miss her voice. I miss her company.

Holidays and birthdays, all those rites of passage? Absence.

The day I lost my Mother, is the day the world lost its shine.

I sought to work through my immense grief with talk therapy and running, lots and lots of running. Over the years I have learned what works for me.

Yet, I know there is no set period to grieve. It comes and goes in waves. It can be postponed but it will not be ignored. Unless those close to you have experienced such a loss, there is no comprehension of the residual grief. Grief is personal, primal even. We all do it in our own way.

To grieve is to be human.

We’ve been told time heals all wounds but there are scars that ache, more in some years than others and this year is shaping up to be challenging.

This means, I double down on creating, being, doing, that which brings myself and my loved ones, joy.

I have to nurture myself.

This chosen life, my family, my babies, my gardens, they all put the lustre in life.

They bring me so much love and joy, and I do my best to give it back in spades!

The best therapy I have ever had?

Being active in whatever nurtures my soul.

It is grounding.

It is healing.

It is GOOD.


Gardening has been a very big part of my recipe for healing my grief and has righted many wonky days.

Sewing, creating, anything that allows me an outlet to express what I am feeling through DOING, has been very cathartic.

When I feel the grief monkey on my back I have to be proactive. Sometimes I involve the whole family, other times, I need my space.

I have 5 children. My house is bustling with activity and it can get loud. If you have children you may need to “schedule” this time with your spouse or partner in order to get the time you need.

Be prepared! If you have kiddos and involve them it may become a tradition each year!

This can be good! Or, it can be not-so-good depending on where you are at in processing your grief. If you have children, you may have to do these activities away from the house to recharge your batteries.

Surround yourself with loving, supportive, people. Remove your company from those who are not. You are worthy and deserving of love and peace. Like a garden, this takes cultivating. Don’t be afraid to weed your friend and family garden by setting healthy boundaries. This is yet another way we must nurture ourselves.

A Nurture List

Plant a memorial tree and/or garden

Build something BIG

Be kind to yourself by practicing a loving inner voice “I look sooo good today”

Give compliments to loved ones, to strangers

Do a silly dance

Have a dance-off with your kids – your friends

Find reasons to Laugh – the best belly laugh

Find reasons to smile

Pottery – handbuild or throw pots on a kickwheel

Photography – take pictures of everyone making funny faces – make your own funny faces- get them printed – frame them hang them

Candlelit bubble bath with lavender oil (favorite essential oil) & favorite music

Paint your nails

Go to the spa

Create your own perfume and/or lotion 

Get a manicure, pedicure or massage – or all of it

Take a solitary walk or hike

Go Stargazing

Go Cloudgazing


Go Camping

Go on a run – barefoot

Join a support group

Start a support group

Go to the gym

Go to the gym more

Play an instrument – The harp sounds heavenly no matter what you play or your skill level! (Harpsicle Harps are very affordable,)

Try a new hobby

Journal, Blog, Vlog

Sew, knit, crochet

Draw, Paint, Craft

Take a nap

Take a day trip somewhere new

Go on a country drive 

Visit a botanical garden 

Visit a museum 

Visit an animal sanctuary

Adopt a pet

Whatever you do, it needs to honor your grief and feed your soul.

Make you feel alive. Make you feel loved.

After all, that is what your mama would want for you.

A Nurtured Life.

Reading Resources

Hope Edelman Books Motherless Daughters, Motherless Mothers, Letters From Motherless Daughters

“Mother Loss: A List of Suggested Resources”