Life as I know It

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Resolution: Don't Procrastinate!

The Last Rainbow of 2014

Well friends,

Procrastinate is exactly what I've been doing. I have promised readers and myself every day that I would post a new blog entry, but other life matters got into the way. Thank you so much for the gifts and cards.

My friends are now referring to me as The Happy Hobbler, and I am happy. I am up and using a crutch sometimes, but mostly walking slowly and surely as much as possible. I am grateful to my friends for meals, help, and love, but no words can express my gratitude to my husband Jeff. He was there for me every step of the way as I will always be for him.

Stay tuned for the fabulous give-aways at the bottom of this post.


In a million years I could've never dreamed of the friendships and journey this book has provided. THANK YOU for your letters and e-mails. I have tried to quickly answer you whenever you write, but sometimes things stack up on me. 

This January I am participating in my first book club interview (east coast) via SKYPE. I'll be interacting with five young girls and their moms. This should be a wonderful experience. I can't wait to hear their questions.

Jeff recently made a book trailer to publicize Running

Making a trailer is a costly project, one which a new author normally can't afford to do. When we realized that it would be up to us to do it, Jeff said, "I'll just learn how to do it." That is sort of the way we handle everything that needs doing...just do it ourselves. Anyhow, it took half a day or so to read, edit, record, and add the pages of reviews. The best part of the trailer is at the end when my son and his close friend play their music. Noah on banjo and John on mandolin. So, this is a family, affair and I am proud of my family for doing it!

Your letters keep me going on my new book, which should be finished soon! Thank you!

Nancy Heraud, your glorious jellies and pot pourri make me so happy. The kids adore them, but they're so beautiful I never want to open them.

(Nancy is Lemon Verbena Lady) The jar of summer's scents (her famous potpourri) is sitting inside my quilt cupboard. Whenever I take out a quilt and catch the sweet drift of roses, I will think of her.

It smells divine!

My friend Patsy Lee Anderson knows how much I love anything fox. This is a wonderful new talisman sent by Patsy. Her name is Flannery Kitt Fox; she sits beside me as I work (and cousin Julie Marie, my little chip chip does too). A heart full of thanks dear Patsy. Every package was perfectly wrapped. I didn't want to disturb them, but curiosity got the best of me. I love George Ella Lyon's book Poetry, the fabulous fox stationery, I love it all.

This year's Christmas tree was teensy. I just wasn't up to decorating a huge one, but I adored this and enjoyed it every minute.

I save egg cartons for my ornament storage. Jumbo works best! My friend Consuelo Macedo saves those double plastic boxes that some fruit is packed in. 

No Christmas at our house is complete without my flock of old friends on the mantel. These are German stick sheep (their legs are like wooden matchsticks) and we have had them for decades. During the big San Simeon earthquake in 2003, they were thrown off our Cambria mantel and hurled across the room. Many ears and legs were broken, but they are treasured nonetheless.

But the best part of the holidays this year was this simple place setting. My grandson Luke, who was born two years ago weighing only one pound eight ounces, finally got a seat at the Christmas Eve table. He sat up with us and saluted the new year to come. He is a little miracle boy and the greatest gift we could ever hope for.

Now all vestiges of Christmas are being stored away until next year. For the New Year, I always set my table with olive branches, the symbol of peace. I also tuck them into napkin rings and weave them through the old chandelier so that anyone sitting beneath them will have peace in their hearts. It works!


The first wonderful part of the give-away is a solid copper rain chain, donated by Rain Chains Direct. They sent one to us to try before I endorsed it. This has a retail value of $129.95 (we all know how expensive copper is now). Not only is it beautiful, but it is functional and fun. I love the way the rain cascades down the chain and into our big crock. I use the rainwater for my potted plants.

Jeff prepares the down-spout and sets out the chain and gutter installer. They look like mini-buckets.

Love these! You will too. 

Send me an email to with "Give-Away" in the subject line to enter. Facebook visitors to Sharon Lovejoy: Home, Gardens, Books or on Sharon Lovejoy are invited too. The drawing will be on January 15th. Please, limited to the United States due to customs and high postage rates. So sorry!

I still welcome blog comments, but this new system will enable others without a Google or Facebook account or a blog to enter a free give-away drawing.

The second part of the give-away is a copy of my newly reissued book A Blessing of Toads: A Guide to Living with Nature (Down East Books, December 2014). This book is filled with all sorts of tips for how to invite nature into your yard and it explains how nature helps you have a healthy, well-rounded garden. This has an updated cover and shortened title and subtitle from the 2005 version. The interior illustrations are in black and white only.

I will end this, my final post from the not-always-so-great 2014 (though it ended with a soft rainbow). I send a prayer that your 2015 will be bright, healthy, and joyful.

Happy New Year to you all.

Sending love across the miles,


Monday, November 17, 2014

When a Dream Becomes Reality it can be SCARY!

My "friends" Zenobia and Lark run for a hide-out.

Dear Friends,

Ok, so now I've confessed to you all that turning a dream into a reality is SCARY, really scary. That's exactly what happened to me on November the 11th, 2014. A book I began writing many years ago and that I never dreamed would be published, well, it was, and I am trying to grapple with disbelief and joy, two warring elements in my brain.

First you think to yourself, "I can write a book. If he can do it, then I can do it." Then you may sit at your desk and stare at a keyboard or pen for hours. It happens to us all.

For me the dream began in 1969 when I found an old suitcase filled with family letters that dated back to the late 1700s. I soaked in the cadence of their words, the thoughtfulness, the history, the Quaker dialect, the landscape. I rolled in the old letters the way a kitten tumbles around in a bed of

I began copying the letters in 1969...

...and continued in 1974.

Some of the letters were faded, and this particular one had blood spots on the top. I copied the letters every time I visited my Cousin Margaret Macdonald, who is the one who first took me to Quaker meetings at Goose Creek, Lincoln, Virginia. What a life-changing experience.

I made notes, copious notes; I copied every word in the letters; I visited the Virginia and Pennsylvania countryside and fell deeply in love with it and the people. I began to write, but I never really believed that anything other than a heartfelt story would emerge for my family to enjoy.

Enter my husband. "You can do it. Just keep shooting for the stars, and you'll do it." So I began to work on my book (which I still didn't believe would ever be a book), and I began to carry pages to my Cambria Writers' Workshop and Kiddie Writers, two critique groups that proved to be invaluable to my process.

Every day I wrote a few pages. Every Wednesday in Cambria I received critiques, drove home, and worked for five to six hours to remedy anything that needed to be remedied. Over and over, hour after hour. My friend, screenwriter Janet Brownell, once advised me to always walk away from my writing when I knew that I had more story inside me to tell. So every night I would get to a point that felt like the story was ready to flow, and I would close the lid to my computer, lock the studio door, and head back into my home and life.

Sometimes, because I spent so many hours working on the book, I actually dreamed out parts of the plot. Those dreams were an amazing gift. I'd get up in the morning and sprint into the studio to make note of them.

So now the book is out there in the world. It is like walking your son to his first day of kindergarten. How can I let this precious part of me face the world alone? It is as though you slice open your chest and fillet your heart into thin, thin pieces. Some critics will gobble up the pieces and spit them out as though they are spoiled, others may treasure their pieces and share them with their loved ones. I can't choose what happens, but I know that some will care for their book, others will toss it aside. I did my best and that is all I can do.


You were all invited to the party, but I was so out of it (yes, I am still in the wheelchair) that I relied on word-of-mouth and Dr. Dan Krieger's wonderful Tribune newspaper story to alert my friends about the event held at The Steynberg Gallery in San Luis Obispo, California.

My sister Laurie, my dear friend Ginny, and Jeff start working the day of the party.

I am supervising!

Is this outdoor table fabulous? YES! My friends Susie Bassetti (Bassetti Vineyards), Cindy Steidel, Penny, Carol, Ginny, and my sis and brother-in-law, and Jeff worked hard to ready the area. Pomegranates, sunflowers, pine cones, Grenache grape vines cut by Ellis Bassette, my dear ones pitched in.

Jeff rolls me through the garden as we leave for The Steynberg Gallery. "Nobody will come," I tell Jeff. He says, "We will have a heck of a lot of cake to eat then." That does NOT reassure me.

"See," I said, "nobody is coming. Get out the cake knife."

When he wheeled me through the door, I wanted to kiss everyone there.

My friend Dee Dee Osborne drove down from Carmel. Dee Dee and I knew each other many years ago in Santa Barbara. Talk about an amazing reconnection. We "found" each other because she wrote me after watching an episode of Central Texas Gardener, on which I appeared. Imagine, Central Texas Gardener has such outreach. (Linda Lehmusvirta, Tom Spencer and staff, amazing).

I looked out into the audience and saw so many who are my beloved, long-time friends.

Throughout the event my friends, musicians, composers, singer extraordinare, Mary Anne and Ames Anderson of Simple Pleasures, performed music of the 1850s. They were superb!

Back at my home Cindy, Susie, Ginny, Carol, and Penny (who was outside finishing bouquets) slaved in my little kitchen.

I celebrated, signed books, saw old friends I hadn't seen in years.

Oh, and we all ate cake, glorious chocolate fudge and carrot cake. Whatever was left over was sent (with the cover intact) on to Hawthorne School.

My stepson Jim efficiently handles book sales. This one is to my dear friend Elizabeth Spurr who has many, many children's books to her credit. She is a fabulous writer. All net proceeds from the sale are to benefit the historic Dallidet Adobe and Garden in San Luis Obispo, California.

I especially loved talking to children who are also interested in becoming writers. We need more programs for young writers. 

Jeff watches over me and everything going on. Since I couldn't walk around and visit, he did it for me. What a partner he is. Thank you, Jeffrey! 

Great friends begin to arrive at my home. Jeanie Greensfelder (left, who recently had her poem read on Writer's Almanac), Connie Higdon Gannon, who is the new director of Greenspace in Cambria, Annie, a wonderful photographer and ceramist, and Thomas, who writes beautifully. 

The farm table is slowly being filled with foods for fabulous friends.

Dear friends Matt Spurr, Ginny Holihan, Susan Branch, Diana, Lee, and Penny (who finally sat down for a moment of rest).

More friends (fainter of heart and not so wild about the cooling weather outdoors) moved inside.

The candles lit, the food available, and some brave souls ventured outdoors to eat and talk.

Writer/photographer Lorin Cary shoots some photos. Check out his Facebook page.

My adopted daughter Skydrea serenaded me with her newly written song and her amazing, thrush-like voice. Thank you dear, Skye.

The day was a looooong one, but one of the most wonderful of my life. Thank you to all my dear friends and readers who helped me celebrate the birth of my book. You make my life richer and fuller.  A million thanks to my brother-in-law Jeff Prather and my sis Laurie. Jeff took most of these photos.

Love across the miles and thank you for joining me. I think I posted too many photos, but I wanted to share the experiences. I know that I am not posting blogs very often. Sometimes it seems like days are not even 24 hours long now.  


P.S. The winner of the book An Ocean Garden by Josie Iselin was chosen by the random number generator. Congratulations to Cathi Lamoreux. Cathi, I don't have your address. Please send it along to me and we'll ship the book to you.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Maine-ly Memories

November 21, 2014 UPDATE: Read about The Lost Kitchen in this NY Times article.

Sunrise in Maine

Dear Friends,

Your once peripatetic friend is grounded. I am sitting up in bed for the second week in a row, but getting stronger every day. Watch where you're stepping when you're out in your gardens at night.
I stepped out of my studio door and ended up with a fractured ankle, torn ligaments, bumps, bruises, a head knot, a sprain, AND my first ride in an ambulance. The worst is behind me, and I am feeling good and ready to get up and run...or maybe not run, but walk again.

Being in a wheelchair has REALLY taught me a lot about the challenges that people must face. Every small bump, change in ground level, or step is a challenge, sometimes a challenge that makes even the easiest chores turn into a grueling physical effort. Hats off to all of you who wrestle with canes, crutches, and wheelchairs. Let's try to make the road smoother for everyone.

Thanks a zillion for well-wishes, calls, food, and for cards and gifts. I am humbled by your many kindnesses and will try to pay them forward to someone in need. You know who you are...Vicki Boster, Lori Hibbard, Susan Branch, Susie Bassetti, Virginia Holihan, Vicki Greene, and so many others. You are in my heart. Oh, and I should mention that my family, and Jeff have been fantastic, just fantastic. I owe them, big time.

Since my last posting I have been in New Hampshire on Lake Sunapee and in our beloved cottage/camp in Maine. I also thoroughly lost myself in the culture of apples. Every tree looked like a gift from heaven, loaded with shiny, green and red fruits, and history, volumes of history.

Please join me for a too long overdue and too long posting. Oh, and I still have to mail out the Stillmeadow Cookbook. Life has been wild. I appreciate your patience.


I have always wanted to visit Boston's famous Swan Boats and also the Robert McCloskey ducklings. Our dear friends Aline and Frank are Bostonians. They shared the adventure with us and introduced us to some of Boston's hidden treasures and neighborhoods.

There they are! I felt like a kid when I saw them!

Patrick was our captain.

Our dear friends Aline and Frank on the shore of Lake Sunapee. Pretty adorable, huh?

Just a small taste of Maine.

On Cottage Point Road in Damariscotta, Maine. A gift to any passerby from Sharon and Jim Aderman. Take a book, read a book, return it, or replace it with another. Their beautiful mini-library. I love it.

Gotta love this! On the road to Freedom, Maine.

One of my favorite little islands and lighthouses on Curtis Island. This is just outside Camden Harbor on the way to Vinalhaven, the beloved island of Margaret Wise Brown., author of Goodnight Moon (and a hundred other books, including The Little Island done in pseudonym Golden MacDonald). 

Illustrator/Caldecott Honor winner/author/ Melissa Sweet sketches as we plow through the waves toward Vinalhaven. During waking hours, the sketchbook is never far from her.

Traffic Jam

Bye bye traffic jam.

Approaching "The Only House" so named because Margaret had never owned another house. (See earlier blog posting that shows her New York City home, which she didn't own). "The Only House" is on the site of an old granite quarry.

Melissa Sweet and me on the deck of "The Only House." True bliss.

Margaret's mossy, lichened apple tree. 

I couldn't stop studying the beauty of the mosses and lichens. Look at the little British soldier lichen in full red uniform. The macrocosm is so amazing if we just take the time to really look.

No other words necessary.


If you're fascinated by Margaret Wise Brown, you should read this old classics and read Awakened by the Moon, which is a biography of her too short, but extremely productive and creative life.

Sitting on Margaret's settee beside her desk. The view is what inspired her to write her The Little Island, which maybe what inspired me to write my The Little Green Island with a Little Red House.

Here is the view of her little island.

An enlarged version of my book The Little Green Island With a Little Red House. Makes it easier for reading to big groups. This book is going into its second printing with DownEast Books, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield, and should be out soon.

This was so touching to me. They've inscribed the tombstone with her words in The Little Island (video).

For my birthday, Jeff treated me to a dinner at The Lost Kitchen in Freedom, Maine. The restaurant is in this old mill, which has been completely renovated. You enter it by walking over a pond and stream. It is magical. Pure heaven. Everything. Pure heaven. The food, my friends, the setting, the entire experience. You must (if you're in Maine) treat yourself to this expeience, but reservations are a necessity. I think my friend Lynn Karlin made the reservations about five weeks in advance.

In the dining room.

On our table.

Back at our camp, to get reacquainted with Audrey, I pile black sunflower seeds on my foot. It is literally the first step.

Sweet Audrey. My favorite chipmunk.

I'll leave you with a heart full of gratitude for family and friends. 

I originally wanted to write a big posting about apples and apple trees, but that will have to wait till next time.

Oh, and I guess I should mention the release party for my new book.

It is on Sunday, November the 9th at 2 p.m. at the Steynberg Gallery,  1531 Monterey Street, San Luis Obispo, California. All net proceeds from book sales will benefit the gardens of the historic Dallidet Adobe and Gardens in San Luis Obispo. Come join us!

With love across the miles,


p.s. Leave a comment on this post or the previous one to be eligible to win the drawing for these gorgeous Josie Iselin books.

NOTE: ONLY if you leave a comment as "Anonymous," begin your comment with "Sharon" to dodge our spam filter and be sure to list your name at the end of your comment.