Life as I know It

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

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Spoonful of Bitter, A Spoonful of Sweet

A parade of birds visit the feeder just outside my bedroom window. Look at the brilliant colors of the male House Finch and the gorgeous Black-headed Grosbeak.

And my little house-shaped feeder from my new My First Bird Book and Bird Feeder allows the birds to watch me!

Can you see the male Anna's hummingbird to the left above the hanging feeder? Two finches are in the blue bird feeder. Orioles visit the one on the lower left. 

I don't think that this flashy finch realizes that the bird he is cozying up to is actually a hundred year old piece of carved folk art. Sorry to dash his hopes.

About 30 tall hollyhocks have forested my backyard. The bumblebees and hummers are ecstatic about this turn of events.

And because I've been off my game, I didn't harvest all the artichokes, which makes the bumblebees even happier and makes the artichokes look like 8 foot sculptures.

I can't remember who said that a lazy gardener is wildlife's best friend, but I think it's true! 

Look closely and you'll see a bee nuzzling into the nectar. When it opens fully, the bumblebees roll around and dance the bumblebee rhumba. 

And because I've been a lazy gardener, the butterflies, flower flies, and bees are happy.

A bit of a hot shot, but you can see some of the honeybees in the Provence lavender and the Tulbaghia blooms. What would I (and they) do without my herbs?

Dear Friends,

Thank you for all your e-mails, Facebook comments, and notes. Yes, I am still suffering from the shingles, but I am grateful for the time to enjoy the garden and birds through my bedroom window, and to continue on with my new children's middle grade novel, which is set in Maine. 

Today I wrote a kitchen scene and realized that what makes food tasty, what makes life zesty, is a mixture of the bitter and the sweet. This is how I wrote it for the children:

“To taste the sweet, you must taste the bitter,” Gram said. “Life is all about dark and light, good and bad, bitter and sweet. You can’t choose how it’ll be dished up for you, but you can choose how you dish it up for yourself.” 

So I am dishing up gratitude for friends who have stopped by and left food and love, and gratitude for family and a great husband. It all helps.

This is short, but long overdue. Next posting I will be giving away a $60.00 Amazon gift card compliments of Fantastic.

Sending love and a jam jar full of good wishes across the miles,


P.S. Just to let you know what has really helped the skin pain, deep burning, and beloved and trusty Aloe Vera. I cut the leaves at the base of the plant and store them in the refrigerator. Then, as needed, I slice into a leaf and rub the cool, healing, and antibacterial leaves across the shingles. It is AMAZING how quickly the relief comes.


Pondside said...

Sharon, I've been off line for nearly a month and missed the fact that you had been under siege from Shingles. BIG sympathy! I hope that relief is steady and that recovery comes soon. I thought of you while I was away in Alberta - the little blue feeder hung there, too - on the window where the little ones could watch the activity.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi dear,

so happy the little ones are enjoying their feeder too. I am amazed by how much pleasure it gives us. Having it in the bedroom window is a blessing.

Sending love,


From the Kitchen said...

Sharon: I'm so sorry to hear that you've been suffering from shingles. It is good of you to take the time to share your lovely garden. It seems to be thriving in your absence, perhaps doing it's best to cheer you on in your recovery. Take good care.


Julie Marie said...

Oh sweet cousin, I am sooo sorry to hear you have had shingles... I had those once years ago, so I know the agony you are going through!... at the time, all they gave me was some kind of cream... wish I lived close by to help you with things and fix you dinner, but I know Jeff is taking wonderful care of you... loved seeing your gardens... that daddy finch cuddling up to the folk art piece is adorable!... keeping you in my thoughts and prayers... I just thought you were super busy and had not had time to post... feel better soon!... love you cousin Sharon!... xoxo Julie Marie

Anonymous said...

Get well soon, shingles isn't any fun. It's a lovely view you have there to look at, nature will give a show. Your new book sounds good. Though I've seen that age many moons ago, I'll have to buy it. As I love all things Maine, and somewhere within, one never completely leaves childhood.

Best regards,
Carla Greenan

La Table De Nana said...

I am so sorry you are suffering.
Thank God..God gave us nature~
We are all being suggested to have the shingles vaccine after 60.
Not sure..I have a few months to go..
My husband had shingles at least 15 yrs ago.. and really that is one thing he overcame beautifully can be done..and often..
He had light sensitivity to his scalp..but truly..this was the easiest thing he was able to beat.
I have read so may forums about it being was for him ..totally ...and can be for you.
Take care..still enjoy rereading the book of yours I bought..:)
And looking at my birds and flowers and grandsons too.

Nellie said...

Oh, my! Somehow I missed the news that you were dealing with shingles! I am sending along healing wishes to you across the many miles!

The birds are just amazing, as is your garden, untended or not!:-)

Take care of yourself!

xo Nellie

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Dear friends,

I DID get the vaccination and I think it does help, but it doesn't PREVENT shingles 100%. About 50-50, but it helps.


Lorrie said...

I am so sorry that you are suffering with shingles. Nasty virus, that one. Glad to know the aloe vera works - will tuck that away into my memory in case I need it some day.
Your yard is beautiful even with neglect. I'm glad that you can observe the birds and flowers even if you can't get out there to work.

Take care.

camp and cottage living said...

So sorry about the bitter that was dished up to you at this time.
I can't wait to get my hands on your novel. It sounds like a book that my daughter, g'daughter and I will all enjoy!
I, like the finch, thought that bird was real-I do need new glasses.
And I sure wish I lived where I could grow an artichoke. I never realized that they produced a lovely flower. Do you have hives?
I just wondered how honey would taste from nectar of an artichoke.
Take care Sharon and get well soon.

Pat said...

Catching up after The Wedding - did not know you had a bought with those wretched miserable I know from experience. Good that you had the vaccination!! I was on two meds which made life tolerable. Never thought of going natural with Aloe Vera.
Your sweet birds are lovely. We are quietly observing tiny baby wrens in a perfectly built nest which is tucked into the mock orange shrub by by my sewing room.

The book you sent - "What Is Wrong With My Vegetable Garden?" Is so informitive and has a special place in my potting shed. Thank you so much!!!!

AnaGF said...

Dear Sharon,
I hadn't realized you were dealing with a health problem, I thought your blog absence had to do with just another busy work phase. Thank you for taking the time to give us another great tour through your garden, even though you are surely not feeling at your best. I wish you a prompt recovery!

Vee said...

That is good to know about the aloe vera. So sorry that this affliction has come upon just sounds like the most uncomfortable trial. My sister is a nurse so fortunately she diagnosed both our parents first thing and they were able to get the medication to stop it from getting a stronghold.

I'm sure that the weather is much finer there than here. Enjoy your garden and your little bird friends and heal soon.

Oh, I loved the glimpse into your new book. I hope that it has lots of coziness like that.

Pom Pom said...

Oh no, Sharon! I'm so sorry. Now I have two friends with the shingles. Drat. I'll pray for a speedy recovery.
I love your wild garden very much! I'm super excited about your novel!
Pop over to my blog and see the VERY green woods of the Pacific Northwest. I was just there this last weekend. You'll like my sister-in-law's Skagit County garden, too!

MT Blog said...


Ran into your blog for the first time about a week ago. I've enjoyed your posts and am glad you have posted here now recently. Love the sorry to hear about the shingles. Many blessings your way and we look forward to hearing from you again!

Sonia said...

Hope you are feeling better soon so you can go out into the garden. So nice that you can see all the birds from your windows! Love the picture with the hummingbird. I'm still waiting for my hummers to arrive. Get well!
Miss Bloomers

Cris, Oregon Artist said...

I too missed it about you having shingles. A year ago I had them too and they are no picnic. They just seem to run their course. Hope you got to the Doctors right away and got the pills to help contain it. Mine lasted a month. Hoping yours doesn't last that long. At least you have some lovely birds and flowers to look at.

Lori ann said...

oh no! i'm so sorry to hear, you poor thing. i don't know what shingles is, but it sounds awful especially if it's making you uncomfortable. get well soon dear sharon. i miss your posts!

p.s. your garden is going off! it's looking spectacular! love the birds at the window too :)

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I was so sorry to hear you are suffering form the shingles, Sharon. My brother-in-law had a case of it a couple of years ago on his legs, and he also suffered very much. I keep reminding my husband that we should get the shingles immunization just in case it will help prevent them for us.

I'm glad you have plenty of pretty birds to watch to help cheer your day! I have been enjoying all the wild life I see here in my new location.

I hope you feel better soon! Hugs

Anonymous said...

Your garden is still very lovely Sharon :) and goodness knows that the bees can do with all the help they can get from us right now, even if that means letting the veg go to seed and ignoring the 'weeds' ;)
I hope you are feeling much better very soon x

Rebecca said...

So sorry to hear that you're suffering with the shingles. It's interesting (from a gardener and a nurses's perspective) that you find relief from Aloe Vera as opposed to an expensive prescription. :)

I love your antique bird feeder! Your writing about how life is full of the bitter and the sweet is wonderful, but I did think when I first saw the title that it was going to be about a new type of bird food to attract birds! ha!

Great post!

Marcie said...

Beautiful photos. The artichoke thrills me! I am glad to read an update and am continuing to send love and healing energy. Take care, Sharon!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Thank you all. Someone wrote and said she thought it was one of my recipes, and I guess the spoonful of bitter is a bit like the beginning of a recipe.

Thank you not only for these sweet words, but for the e-mails I've been receiving. You've been a true gift to me!


Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I know I already sent out a get well on Facebook but here it is again.

All in a very gentle (((hug))).

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Brenda dear,

Gentle hug gladly accepted!

Rebecca Sweet, your e-mail to me was precious and welcome.

Love to all,


Bonnie K said...

I have the same birds at my feeders. I so love the Grosbeaks and house finches. I hope you get feeling better. I have been using aloe vera on a burn and it has worked miracles. I enjoy your posts and hope you get feeling better. As a teacher of troubled teenagers I appreciate your bitter & sweet saying.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Bonnie,

Thanks so much and I really appreciate it that you mentioned the quote from my in progress book. That helps me feel my way through the process through a teen eye.


Kris said...

Hi Sharon. Thank you for stopping by my blog to say hello. I have been reading a bit, and see that you are from SLO. We have family in that area. Santa Maria, SLO, Pismo. Love it up there!!
And I read you have shingles. Oh dear me....I had them about 2 years ago. It was dreadful! I still have some after pain in my back where the first breakout appeared. I am glad you are finding relief with the Aloe. Take good care!!!
XO Kris

Unknown said...

SHINGLES? Oh no!I so enjoyed hearing from you the other day Sharon. It's clear your garden has 'not gone to pot' while you've been recuperating. Loved all the wild life in this post... I'm so sorry to hear you've been under the weather with Shingles. I've heard it's nothing to fool around with so keep resting up! Take good care and say hello to Jeff for us! Hugs!
Boz and Deb

Vicki Boster said...

Sharon- I can picture you in your lovely room-- resting your body so that it heals-- enjoying the birds and flowers- taking in all the nature that is closest to your window. Only you would turn this unfortunate situation into an opportunity to enjoy the life and beauty that surrounds you. Only you could turn this hurtful time into a respite for observation of nature. Only you---
I'm sending best wishes and prayers for your healing- it's such a painful place to heal from-- God speed your recovery and bless you with needed rest.

You are loved by so many and we all wish the very best for your recovery--get better soon girlfriend :)

Sending hugs-

kj said...

sharon, oh dear. and yet you share these remarkable affirmations of the beauty everywhere.

you rock, ms honey lovejoy


Farm Girl said...

Oh I am so sorry you have the shingles. I know it must be so painful.
I am so glad that Aloe Vera helps.
I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

So sorry you have shingles Sharon. They are the worst--I've had them and wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Take care and get lot's of rest. ♥
Martha Ellen

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Martha Ellen,

You're right. Not my worst enemy, but the Aloe vera is a blessing. Freshly cut and slit open leaves right on the shingles.



Kay G. said...

Dear Sharon,
My mother-in-law from England LOVED our house finch and she was amazed that it has such a common name for such a beautiful bird!
We like to use aloe vera too but I didn't think you could put it in the fridge. I love to learn these things from you.
Your garden looks lovely and I LOVE your bird house in the window, so clever that it is in your book! xx

Lydia said...

Prayers for you to be back to 100% well very soon.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Thanks so very much for stopping by my blog, AND your very sweet words!

Shingles---The Worst! Aloe Vera---The Best!!
It is awful to know that the shot or whatever it is, doesn't always work...

It is so wonderful to see all your dear Feathered Visitors...I LOVE the Birds and The Bees....!
I hope you will be much much better, very soon!

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

I am so sorry to hear that your are dealing with shingles, but am glad to hear that aloe vera gives you relief.

Your feathered friends, flying flowers, and colorful blooms all look wonderful.

Be well dear Sharon ~ FlowerLady

troutbirder said...

What a beautiful post with all thebirds bees and flowers. Sorry to hear about the shingles. So far so good with my vacinations as my Dad suffered from is as well....

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Gosh, I am overwhelmed by the many kindnesses shown to me in the past few weeks.

From bouquets and baked goods to fresh-picked produce, teatowels, antique books, and well wishes. They ALL count and make life so much more sweet.

Amazing how many folks have had shingles. Even one friend wrote and said that her young daughter had them at the same time her grandmother had them (1500 miles apart).

Take care all and be kind to yourselves,


Val said...

Mmmm! The Hollyhocks, especially, I love. 'Such sweet flowers.

I wish you more relaxation and healing. One of my aunts suffered with Shingles a few years ago. It sounds miserable. I'm glad you live a life filled with birds and blooms to help combat the bed-rest. :)

Love and Best Wishes,

Val ♥

La Petite Gallery said...

We are just alike, I have so many feeders, running all week cleaning refilling and scrubbing out bird baths. Great post. Happy 4th

Carol said...

Dear Sharon,

Wishing you a speedy recovery from the dread of shingles. I am glad you are finding comfort from Aloe. I had a minor case a few years ago and aloe helped me too. Thank you so much for your kind words! I have been missing blogging as I once was able to do. Missing you! Love the beginnings of your novel. The light and the dark . . . there is always a shadow with the brightness of life. Take good care. Carol

nia said...

Amazing posting of get well soon wishes quotes.

The Painted Garden said...

Hi Sharon,
Sending you Blessings, Prayers, and Good Thoughts for speedy healing. So glad to hear that you are able to get some relief from the Aloe Vera plant and that you have your lovely garden filled with birds to bring you comfort and joy.

Your posts are so delightful, informational and joyful and I love visiting you and getting caught up on your comings and goings - the Duckling post was heartwarming.

Blessings, Erin

My Little Home and Garden said...

Hello, Sharon

The birds have found a welcome spot in your lovely garden. The artichoke is amazing and I love the hollyhocks. I'm sorry to read that you have shingles and hope that you heal soon.


Jimmie said...

Oh Sharon,

So sorry to hear of your bout with Shingles! Our daughter had them in college and it was miserable for her. Hope the aloe vera continues to help.

An observation I've made is that I've noticed that you're no longer listing the blogs you follow to the left. Am I doing something wrong, or have you decided not to list them any longer? I've loved following the other blogs that you had listed.

Love from Diane in North Carolina

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Diane,

Thanks for your visit and sweet words.

Here is the scoop re: listing of blogs. I receive about 6 or 7 requests a month to be listed on the side of my page, but I am bad about updating and I follow MANY more blogs than those listed. So, to see some great blogs, just go to the top of this page where it says, "View my complete profile" and click on it. There is a list of blogs I love (although I love many more). You can go down the line of listed blogs and they're all hot links. Just click on them.

All joys,


Sharon Lovejoy said...

UH OH, what happened???? I lost the list on the side of the blog. Thought it would automatically appear on the list of blogs on my profile, but it didn't.

I remembered Vee, Sue Branch, Blondie's Journal, but if I'm missing YOU, please send me a reminder and I will add you onto that page.

Thanks a zillion,


Jimmie said...

Hi Sharon,

Thanks for letting me know how to get to your list of favorite blogs! I love many of the ones you love too. Hope you are continuing to improve every day.

Quick little story:

We have one of those little gadgets that is mounted on a post to let us know whenever someone is coming down our driveway. Our driveway is 1/4 mile long and it's nice to know when someone is coming down to see us since we can't see them drive up right away. Anyhow, there is a little recess that houses the thing that sounds to let us know whenever something is passing by. It's about 1/2" by 3" long and 1" deep. We kept hearing the alarm go off time and time again. At first we thought it must be a bluebird flying by taking nest materials to the box just above the alarm thingy. But the alarm kept going off about every minute or so. When my husband investigated, he found that a spider was building a tunnel web in the little space - pretty little tunnel, I might add. She scampered out whenever Jimmie peaked in. He removed the web thinking that Ms. Spider would choose another spot. She tried twice more and Jimmie removed her web twice more in the next couple of days. The last time, Jimmie made sure that she was out of the space and put a piece of clear tape over the space. The alarm works just fine now, but Ms. Spider is quite put out by being evicted for no good reason!

Have a great day!

Diane in North Carolina

Sharon Lovejoy said...


Glad the directions to my blog favorites worked.

I would answer you directly, but don't have an e-mail address for you.

I love it that you are so kind to even the tiniest critters. Makes my heart feel good.

All joys,


Anonymous said...

catching up after being away, hoping those nasty shingles have hit the road!

La Petite Gallery said...

I read the last post, could't get the jest of it. Now I realize you had the shingles. Hope you got the shot. I am going next month..
Let me know how you are doing..