Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Serving Summer on a Platter

The beauty of a walk in the woods...

Acorns showered down on us as scolding squirrels scampered through the oak trees. 

Lichens, mosses, Selaginella, a shiny, red nightshade, and in upper left, the waxy bayberry, which was once used to make candles. These gifts were strewn along the trail, dug up by skunks and squirrels, and left behind all topsy-turvy and uprooted.

Two mushrooms

Mother Nature's fine lacework-I try to always carry a hand lens in my pocket so I can look closely.

These mushrooms change day by day. Look at the amazing texture of their skins.

My platter of summer sits on our dining room table overlooking the sea. I mist and water daily.

Dear Friends,

This is a short, short posting because although we just arrived at our cottage, we have a family medical emergency in California and might have to leave early. I am closing this to comments. 

Sending love across the miles,


P.S. THE WINNER of the fabulous book Magical Moons & Seasonal Circles by Susan Betz is Nellie of Berries and More. Congratulations! Let us know your address and we'll send out the book asap.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Thank You Minnesota

Pat Crocker's 541 page book has all the information you'll need to can, freeze, and preserve both store bought and home grown foods. It also includes great recipes and Pat's photography.

Thank you Minnesota folks for your hospitality and many kindnesses. Theresa Mieseler of Shady Acres Herbs was a great and caring hostess. She helped make their 50th Anniversary Minnesota Herb Society conference one of the best ever. Thanks to Theresa and her husband Jim and everyone else involved!

Pat barely walked through the door to Theresa Miesler's home and immediately started prep work for her upcoming presentation at the conference. Pat, Jim Long, Susan Betz, me, and a group of enthusiastic herbies made presentations.

I loved this drawer of canning supplies.

A tiny peek into Theresa's well-stocked cupboard. Of course, she has Pat's book readily at hand.

My old friend, author Susan Betz, is doing an American Gothic pose with her Buffalo Bird Woman gardening tools. Sorry for the blurry photo; she is adorable.

"Mother Nature keeps a date book, an exciting schedule of mysterious and magical events unfolding daily in our backyards and beyond. She does not want you to wait for an invitation or schedule an appointment; she is ready and willing to entertain and educate on a moment's notice."

This book is fabulous. I have enjoyed every page and find the ethnobotanical information, the traditions, the nature notes, and so much more, to be a great read and a great addition to a library. I am tickled to offer this to you as a give-away. All you need do is leave a comment, and I will do a random drawing a week from today.

Why don't I have a photo of Jim Long, The Ozark Herbalist? I think we were so busy catching up that I forgot to take a shot of him. And, he has SO MANY books out that I could snap them all day. Instead, I'll just give you a link to his web site Long Creek Herbs and invite you to read at least one of his nine blogs. He writes informative posts filled with his store of knowledge. I think you'll enjoy his fairy garden entry, and you'll love his books. (This photo was taken from Jim's blog and is enlarged from a tiny one).

Remember to leave a comment, and you will be entered into the drawing for "Magical Moons and Seasonal Circles" by Susan Betz.

While in Minneapolis, I was invited to do an interview on KMSP-TV, local Channel 9. You may watch the video by clicking here.

Sending good thoughts your way,


P.S. Many years ago a woman told me the story of her Grandfather's words of wisdom. Words she hoped to live by all her life. Her Grandfather's words? "Be kind." That is all we can do for each other. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

How Love Looks

You are looking at a chicken coop built for love 

John Gonyer just finished building this whimsical chicken coop for the love-of-his-life, Kary. The coop was a dream wish of Kary's for decades, and it had chickens scheduled for arrival. A stack of lumber still waits for the chicken run (what K-Bird called Highway 101) that was to be built last week. Kary knew exactly what she wanted and insisted on a "top-hat" for the coop to make it perfect. It is perfect! And, it is a tangible expression of the love John poured into Kary's life. He knew there was a possibility that she wouldn't live to see it completed, but he labored on it devotedly. She did see it, and it fed her hopes and dreams. This coop (schoolhouse) is what love looks like.

Kary ( is well known to many of you who followed her popular blog postings. You learned about Johnny, her sweetheart since high school, her cats, her wild birds, her garden and home, and her beloved dogs Butters and Teddy. Her passing has left a huge hole in many hearts and lives.

Kary piping frosting onto cookies we were baking in my tiny Cambria kitchen

Kary passed away last weekend after fighting an insurmountable battle with the most insidious and rarest of cancers.

I remember Kary as a long-legged teenager who mooned over John at the Country Club swimming pool where he was lifeguard. Then, I watched as she grew up and married her Johnny.

Some of her artistry

Kary was the first person to show up for my big move to Cambria in 1983. She whipped into my driveway to "fill up her car" with my things, but believe me, you can't jam much into a little Porsche. Kary was the first to know that I was marrying Jeff, my first employee at Heart's Ease, and the first to step up and help style shoots (and sometimes cook) for books and magazine articles. She was HILARIOUS! She had the funniest sense of humor of anyone I've ever known.

John took care of Kary for the past few months in a way that is indescribable. What she endured and what he carried on his back were a lifetime cargo of pain and sorrow.

Kary (right) and Susie Detweiler are adding antiques and style to the photo shoot

Left to right: Shawna McCormick, Susie Detweiler, Kary Gonyer, me, and photographer Lynn Karlin. We're setting up a shoot at the Cambria Pines Lodge, Cambria, California. 

We spent last evening (the one week anniversary of her passing) with John, his sister Roxanne, and dear mother Ellie. By gathering together in the garden Kary and John created, by laughing, telling stories, and crying, we all helped John (and ourselves) get through that tough time. 

Please leave John a comment on (my comments are closed), and let him know that you enjoyed Kary and loved her words and photos. Blogging meant so much to her, and John can use all the good thoughts and caring that you have to share.


P.S. It has come to my attention that someone is spreading false rumors. Before you pass judgment, please write and ask for the facts from someone who was present. 

Years ago a woman told me a story about her grandfather. She described him to me and said that she would always remember the most important thing he taught her. What was that? His simple words were "Be kind." Let's all remember his wisdom.