Life as I know It

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

To Dream a New Dream

"You are never too old to set another goal or 
to dream a new dream."
C.S. Lewis

Dear Friends,

I am dreaming a new dream and keep pinching myself to make sure I am awake.

Four years ago, I set out on a journey of discovery. I returned to Virginia where I once substitute taught in some schools and participated again in the Goose Creek Friends meetings. I walked old pathways, visited graveyards, dipped into vintage books about the Civil War, visited battlefields and museums, talked with locals, and fueled my dreams for writing a pre-Civil War novel for middle grade children.

I began writing my novel and reading it at my Cambria Writers group and with my Kiddie Writers. When I received their well considered critiques, I would zoom home and sit at my desk doing rewrites for hours. I plodded on and on, writing, rewriting, dreaming, doing research, and hoping that someday my book would become a reality.

Now, I am beyond happy to let you know that Random House/Delacorte Press has purchased my novel, which they will release in the fall of 2014.

I have a fresh stack of the absolutely necessary yellow tablets. When I am finished, there will be a stack of them filled with my field notes and footnotes.

So every day I am doing more rewrites, more research, and more little drawings for the book. I love this leg of the journey. Won't you join me as I work onward and upward?

Yesterday I visited our local AAA for a stack of maps. I cut them apart so that I could track my routes on the Underground Railroad.

Learning the names of the nearby rivers, creeks, and mountains. 

I lay out all the maps on the floor in Mockingbird Studio. I'll use a yellow highlighter to indicate roads, farms, villages, and possible sites for stops. I love research.

To celebrate my new beginning, I am so happy to offer some wonderful give-aways to readers who leave a comment on this posting. (Remember, if you leave a comment as "Anonymous," begin your comment with "Sharon." All others go to my spam filter.)

First, a double Mayan hammock (regular price $54.99), courtesy of Serenity Health and Home Decor. What a great place to welcome the coming of Spring.

And, an illustrated journal of the travels of the famed naturalist Carl Linnaeus will be added to the give-away if lucky winner is a member of The Grimy Hands Girls' Club. (Sign up for the club if you're not already a member). This is a delightful read with lovely illustrations. Drawing will be in a couple of weeks.

Sending love across the miles,


P.S. Kathy (in comments) left a note about the AAA maps not cutting it because town names etc. change. She is right, but mountain ranges, river courses, creeks, etc.  don't change (unless a dam is built), but I use my trusty links to historic societies and primary sources to secure maps of the time such as this plan of one of the towns I am featuring. Actually, one of the main towns I'm writing about went through a name change during the times of the Civil War. Just wanted to make this clear to all of you.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Spring in My Step

The pineapple sage is keeping the hummingbirds and my family happy.

The hummers love this native Columbine too.

Pitcher sage, Lepichinia, has a wonderful demeanor. See how she bows her head demurely?

Yes, it's true, I've got a real spring in my step nowadays. The garden is perking up, the fruit trees are flowering, we've topped all the beds,  planted,  and are getting ready to do a major re-vamp in our beneficial insect and bird garden. I love the sweet promise of all the new life and changes.

My 'Bonanza' peach tree, which is only four feet tall, is living up to her name.

Freesias spill from the borders onto the pathways.

Sorry to have been away so long. Life has gotten in the way. I know it happens to you too, because I read that in your postings. 

We've had a big party in honor of one of my grandsons, we traveled to Seattle for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, and I've been working like a fiend on a book project. 

Gathering research books from our library. What would I do without libraries and librarians? Please be sure to zip into my next blog posting for an exciting life change for me and an opportunity for YOU to win a new book. 

Although I promised NOT to garden in my robes anymore (I keep ruining them), I stepped outside and couldn't help myself. Now I look at the gorgeous artichokes with a sweet melancholy. The gophers took them!

My curious Scrub Jay friend watches in the hopes that I'll unearth some goodies.

We're able to harvest so many fruits every day...

...and edible flowers and herbs for homemade yogurt cheese...

...and for fresh fruit salads.

We flew out of California to speak at the fabulous Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle. This is the view from our room at the Hilton. Most of the time it was overcast, but the one time I didn't have my camera handy, it cleared up and we could see snow-covered mountains and boats.

I gave two talks in two days. The best part was meeting old friends, making new ones, and finally meeting Sweet Pea, The Littlest Gardener, and Catherine Kokoris from A Gardener in Progress blog.

Made an appearance on the upcoming

...with host Holly Hamilton.

Perused the show, but darn it, so many photos didn't turn out.  I did love this little phone-booth-sized garden shed. I recently read that gardeners are constructing these sheds very inexpensively by building them from three regular doors and one French door (for all sides). Plop on a roof, add a floor, and you've got a sweet little shed.

Loved all the tiny bulbs. I promised myself to plant a zillion of them this year. I'll order from Brent and Becky's Bulbs and Old House Gardens.

Love the checkered Fritillaries.

Loved the huge balls of succulents, which were in the Butchart Gardens booth. This is hanging from a beam. I think this would be fairly easy to do.

Loved the simple play area. I really like using tree rounds for tables and stools. I did this in the Heart's Ease gardens sunflower house and the children adored them.

No trees involved, but this IS a tree house. I could envision my grands clambering up the ladder and hiding out up there.

Loved the interior of this garden shed, which was built by Little Mansions (

Speaking of little. I liked these little plant markers made out of twigs. They look like mini trellises. I'm trying to make some, but will use some old copper markers for the sign.

Ok, so I bounced all over this posting, but that is life...isn't it?

Jeff did the random number generator to choose the winner of Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman's new garden-cookboook, The Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook. The lucky winner is Ernestine Lawson, One Woman's Journey, of My Journey To Mindfulness blog. Since Ernestine is also a member of my Grimy Hands Girls' Club, she will find some special packets of seed tucked into her book. Plant and enjoy!


p.s. If you leave a comment and sign it "Anonymous," please start your with "Sharon, ...." I'm getting too many spammed comments automatically generated.