Planting My Gardens

My Vegetable garden with Fanny grazing on the other side of the fence.

I was inspired to start a Three-Sisters Garden after reading Braiding Sweet Grass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.    That was eight years ago and my vegetable garden has changed every year since.

This year I’m growing garlic that my friends Kitty and Charlie gave me that I planted last fall.  (You can see how tall the leaves are on the left side of the garden.)

A couple of weeks ago I put in kale and lettuce seeds which are coming up (they are tasty already) and yesterday I  planted cilantro, dill, and sweetpea seeds.  Last week I planted potatoes that my friend Anne gave me.

Yesterday I got some organic plants from a local farm called Happenchance Farm.  They sell single plants which I like, my garden isn’t big enough for six of everything.  I got two tomato plants,  six cauliflower,  one squash, one zucchini, and a bunch of onions.

I also planted seeds in my back porch garden (tall marigolds, Zinnias, and poppies)  and filled some of the planters around the yard.  I put little metal fences around the seeds to keep Minnie from using the freshly-turned soil as her own private bathroom.

I had big plans today to do more gardening today, but after working on the apple tree and spreading more manure around the pastures, I’m not sure that I’m up for it.

Because it’s been so warm, I started planting early this year, so I’m not in such as hurry to get everything in the ground like I usually am.

I may just take the rest of the day to sit under the apple tree and watch the birds.

Waiting For Jon


The drawing I did in the waiting room

Jon and I got up early to get to the surgery center in Saratoga Springs by 8:45.  He’d been there just a month ago when he had his toe amputated so we knew the drill.

I didn’t get much time in the waiting room.  They blasted his kidney stone with soundwaves and he was still woogy, but in good spirits, when they called me into the post-op room.  We stopped for lunch on the way home and were back at the farm by noon.

The first thing Jon did when he got home was take a picture and put up a blog post.   He’s resting this afternoon.  The surgery went well, and now he’s feeling the uncomfortable aftereffects.

These quick surgeries are confusing because they take so little time and we’re home quicker than it takes for us to go to a movie.   The surgery is filled with certainty, but the healing is much more ambiguous.   We have a vague understanding of what to expect, but of course, the side effects vary from person to person.

So we’re taking it as it comes.

I had plans (silly now that I think of it) of getting into my studio and starting a quilt inspired by a couple of linen dresses that my friend Anne gave me.  But that didn’t happen and I quickly gave up on the idea.  Instead I picked up some pain pills for Jon at the pharmacy (which he probably won’t take but are good to have just in case) and made pea soup.

My workday will consist of blogging and maybe some bookkeeping.

I took a nap with Jon this afternoon.  As I was telling him he needed to rest (he was talking about taking more pictures) I realized I was unusually tired and for once took my own advice.

Now it’s time to bring the sheep and donkeys back from grazing, check on Jon and the pea soup.

Jon’s “Bow Toe” All Healed

Jon at the Kickstarter Cafe for breakfast this morning

Jon’s foot is healing wonderfully.  His surgeon gave him the ok to wear his regular shoe again.  No more worrying about infection and soon Jon will get a new brace and be walking whenever and where ever he wants to again.

Today was the first time I didn’t take my sketch pad out in the waiting room and do a drawing. I’m not sure why, I think I was just enjoying the anticipation of it being over.

It’s been a few years coming. We celebrated this morning when we went out to breakfast, both of us feeling lighter than we have in some time.

Tomorrow Jon will have another surgery.  This time for a kidney stone.  It will be an easier surgery than the last although he has little information on what the recovery will be like.  But with the success of his foot surgery, we’re both feeling optimistic.

I will bring my sketch pad to the surgery center tomorrow.  When I’m waiting for something, my energy is best spent either cleaning, walking, or drawing.  Tomorrow I’ll be drawing.

Practicing Being Present

My natural way is to jump into the morning, thinking of everything I have to do and want to get done.  But when I go to my studio with my head full,  it’s hard to stay focused.  Yesterday I was trying to work on three things at once.

Today I’m taking it slower.  Jon and I started the day with a meditation and I’m going to practice staying present, thinking only of what I’m doing at the moment.

I look to the animals around me for guidance, they are so much better at being in the moment than I am.

My Anxiety

I added some rocks to my  Jelly Roll today.

I’ve been feeling a lot of anxiety in the past few days.  It’s runs through my body and invades my mind.  It keeps me on high alert and makes me believe I have too much to do, must do it all and can never get it done.

At times it paralyzes me and twists reality.

It’s been a while since I’ve had this level of anxiety.  Talking helps.  Jon and I both know how to talk each other back to reality.  It helps to have a knowing and understanding ear.  To hear the truth and speak the truth.  The truth being the opposite of what the anxiety makes me believe.

Meditation works too.

It’s there, when I go deep enough, that my mind quiets and I can see what really matters, at least for a while.  The moments of calm remind me of how I can feel even if  at that moment my body is pulsing as if charged with electricity.

It’s difficult for me to write when I’m anxious.  My mind thinks in short spurts, jagging from one thing to another.

It reminds me that I used to feel this way all the time.  That my anxiety kept me from doing things I wanted to, because it paralyzed me and made me believe I wasn’t capable.  I didn’t know I suffered from anxiety.  I thought my anxiety was who I was.

But now I know that’s not true. Now I know who I am when I’m not anxious, and that is a very different person.

I have an idea of what triggered this latest bout of anxiety.  What matters is that I understand what happened and what is happening.  It’s this kind of knowledge and awareness that brings me back to my true self.

I know if I keep at it.  Keep talking and meditating and reminding myself of the truth I’ll soon be back. I can feel it happening already.

Bow Toe

Jon taking a picture in the barnyard this morning

We were ready.

The past couple of days the bandage on Jon’s foot has been slipping off.  This morning  I used up the last of the gauze bandages and tape to bandage his foot again.

I have to admit I like doing it.

There’s something very sculptural about wrapping the gauze at just the right angle to make it form to Jon’s foot, then doing the same with that tape that sticks to itself.  I even liked looking at the stitches.  Those little knotted threads make a tidy package.

Jon even put a regular pair of shoes on this morning, instead of his surgical boot,  when he went out into the barnyard to take pictures of the mist.  We told each other the bandages kept coming off because his foot had had enough of bandages.  Today the stitches were coming out and soon Jon would be able to walk around without the surgical boot, take a shower, stop worrying about the foot getting infected and start getting back to normal.

We were both excited at the idea of it all.  We got up early and had breakfast on the way to his doctors at one of those new coffee cafe’s run by young men and decorated with motorcycles and houseplants.

Once we got to the doctor’s office, Dr Daly looked at Jon’s foot and declared it healing well. Then told us we should make an appointment to get the stitches out next week.

We were told the stitches would be in for three weeks and we were certain Jon had had his surgery three weeks ago. “Really? we said looking at each other incredulous  “It’s only been two weeks?”

Yeah, we were disappointed, but not really surprised.  We’ve been doing this thing with his toe for over two years.  And we often got it wrong thinking his toe was getting better when it wasn’t.

On the way home I stocked up on bandages, tape and antibiotic ointment.  I know that bandage won’t stay on Jon’s foot for another week.   But we do know his foot is healing well and next week, the bandages should be coming out.

When Jon had his surgery to amplutate his toe I did a drawing of his foot with a flower where his toe used to be. This time I  got creative with the stitches and gave him a Bow Toe.

Nesting Geese and Baby Pigeons On The Farm

Pigeon eggs shell

This morning there was a lone Canada goose in the barnyard.  He was pecking at the grass, grazing really with the rest of the sheep.  He seemed completely at home with them as if he were one of them.

The lone goose means the Canada Goose couple has built their nest and the female is sitting on it.  I have never seen their nest. I think it’s in the marsh by the south pasture because that’s where I have seen the goose couple and chicks in past years.  The female goose will incubate the eggs for about 28 days, so it will be another month before the chicks appear.

I hope to see them his year.

And this afternoon I found a broken pigeon eggshell under the pigeon’s nest.

That means at least one of the pigeons has hatched. I haven’t seen or heard any sign of the baby bird, but I imagine I will soon.  I didn’t want to get too close to the nest, but once they get a little older, I’ll get out the ladder and take a peek.

Run, Maria, Run For Your Life


Today is my mother’s birthday and it’s a tough day for me.  That’s why I’m writing this.

It makes me think of Bushra Rehman’s book, Roses in the Mouth Of a Lion and the feeling of freedom and possibility that the story invokes in me.

The novel is a coming-of-age story about Razia, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants, who lives in Corona, Queens.  When she realizes she’s a lesbian she is torn between the traditions of her family and living her own life.

In one chapter of the book, Razia goes to Central Park, for the first time, with her friend.  Later she goes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, again for the first time, this time with her girlfriend.

In those chapters, I was brought back to the first few times I went to New York City by myself and with my friend Rolando when I was sixteen. I don’t remember the details of the trips, just that we went to Greenwich Village and there I found a sense of belonging for the first time in my life.

Part of it was that I was anonymous in the city.  I didn’t have to worry about meeting anyone I knew, so I felt I could be who I really was without judgment.  But there was also something about the city itself, it seemed like anything was possible there.

This was in the early 80s and the Village was filled with all different kinds of people.  There were punk rockers, artists, trans people, hippies, people in business suits, and people in drag. And no one turned their head to look at any of them as they walked by.

But mostly I felt free. Free from the ties and obligations of my family.  As if there really were other ways to live in the world than I had been living all of my life.

It’s taken me over forty years, but I now feel like I’m living that freedom.

It’s not the same as the feeling I had when I was younger, the feeling that came back to me reading Rehman’s story of Razia.  Which is why it was so delightful to experience it again.  That freedom had an innocence to it.  A sense that I could run away and be instantly transformed. Or that someone would come and save me.

But I know now that isn’t how it works.

For most of my life, I felt as if there was something heavy and dark, just over my shoulder. An anchor weighing me down. A darkness waiting to fall.   And although I’ve been working on it for years, since I got divorced when I was in my early forties, it is only through therapy recently that I could see how damaging my birth family is to me.

At the same time, I became aware in a new way of my mental disorders.  The panic attacks I’ve had at least since second grade. The dissociation which made me feel as if I were observing my life instead of living it. It often stopped me from being able to experience emotions, or make decisions.

And the constant underlying fear, that kept me from taking responsibility for my life and reacting to it instead of making good choices for myself.

To gain my freedom I had to leave the family I was born into behind.  Yet I have not been able to completely leave my mother.  I call her once a week.

I know in some ways it would be easier not to speak to her at all, but it’s not something I’ve been able to do.   My mother is 94 and not in the best health.  I feel for her and a part of me still wishes I could be in her life more.

I was stunned when my therapist suggested the people in my family were triggers for the emotional abuse that I experienced as a child. Abuse that I  still don’t completely understand.

Which is one of the reasons it has been hard to identify.

It’s not as if I can point to a single or recurring incident.  The family is a system that I’m not a part of.

I have found that when I don’t have contact with the people in my birth family, I don’t experience panic in the same way. I don’t dissociate at all.  I am confident and know what is good for me and what is harmful and trust myself to make decisions.

And irrational fear no longer stops me from living the life I want to.

Now  I only feel that weight or sense of doom when I falter.

When I go back to my old way of thinking, to what I was taught. The idea that family is everything and will always be there for you.  Instead of what I know to be true for myself, which is that for me family is dangerous.

While I was reading Roses in the Mouth of the Lion, more than once I heard myself thinking, “Run, Razia, run for your life.”

 It’s something I’ve said to myself many times over the past ten years, as I struggled with the idea of never seeing my siblings and mother again.

The last time I visited my mother it triggered me so badly that I vowed never to do that to myself again.  I feel guilty and sad about the way things are, and at times doubt that I will be able to keep my promise to myself.

But when I trust myself and understand I feel the way I do for a reason, and  I choose to protect myself, that sense of freedom soars inside of me.

And now when I hear that voice in my head, saying, Run, Maria, run for your life, I’m not only running away, I’m also running towards myself.

Which is the only place I can ever really go for the answers I’m looking for.   As much as my therapist or anyone else tells me what they believe to be true, I am the one who has to make the decision, act on it, and take responsibility for it.

I have made those often hard but good decisions to create the life I have now.  A life filled with love, creativity, animals, and community.

Jon knows me better than anyone ever has and we both want the same for our lives with each other.  We’re dedicated to our work and support each other in it.  The farm and our animals are nourishing and a source of our creativity.

We encourage each other to be our best and true selves.

So I have more than just myself to protect, I have a family and a life that I love.

Wood and A Window Sash For The Pole Barn

glazing the window for the barn

Jon and I have been talking about taking the big plastic pieces off of the pole barn for a long time.  We made plans to do it ourselves, but then we saw someone fixing up a barn up the road from us.  It was one of our Amish neighbors and that’s when we got the idea to ask for their help.

Making and fixing barns is something the Amish know how to do.

So we asked Mahlon, who does a lot of carpentry work if he could replace the plastic with wood.  He came by today and started working on the barn while Jon and I were in Saratoga at a doctors appointment.

But before we left, I fixed up the old window sash that Mahlon will frame into the side of the barn.

We picked up the window sash a few years ago in Bennington Vermont.   Today  I scrap off the peeling paint, then cut glass for two of the lites.  Fortunately, there is a stack of window glass in the basement that was there when we bought the house.  They were a little too big, but I learned how to cut glass when I worked in a frame shop.

the white caulk under the glass and the glazing point on top

Once the glass was cut I put down a bead of caulk on the lip of the window frame and set the glass snuggly into it.  This cushions and holds the glass in. After that, I pushed in a grazing point on each side.

Then I roll some glazing putty into a long snake put it around the edge of the glass and use a putty knife to make a smooth bevel.

The glazed after I smoothed it out

Tomorrow I’ll prime the window and put tape on the glass so birds won’t accidentally fly into it. Then it will be ready for Mahlon to put into the barn wall.

The plastic on the barn that Mahlon is replacing with wood and the window sash.
Full Moon Fiber Art