Icebox Woes

For those of you who read my posts last summer about the little bit of insanity I like to call, “Twelve Hungry Farm Workers and a Toaster Oven,” you will appreciate the rich layered ironies of our discovery, just two days ago, that our refrigerator had died.

Yes, just as the summer staff is returning like swallows to Capistrano, our refrigerator unexpectedly bit the dust. Should I post on Facebook for the staff that have not yet arrived, “Good news! THE STOVE IS WORKING! No need to sharpen your elbows to push your way to the electric fry pan!” Or is that a bit disingenuous? Do they deserve the post, “Hope you like warm milk and have a stomach that can handle refreshing snacks like lukewarm potato salad?”

No, I think I will surprise them! After all, I need them to show up, and it may be just a bit too soon to tell them that yet another major appliance has turned up her heels chez Sheehan. They are still probably binge eating snacks cooked on a real live stove after what turned out to be several MONTHS without one last summer!

And when I tell them the good news in person, I will tell them to look forward to all the memories we will be making together! Tossing back the warm beverages after a hot couple of hours with a hoe! Enjoying the crunch of warm pickles! Savoring whatever I throw at them as needing to be eaten RIGHT NOW. It’s going to be magic!

And some things actually will be cold, a few choice items (my choice by the way). We have dragged out Ben’s college fridge, something the size of a postage stamp and decorated with an lovely sticker that says, “Porn Star.” It’s on back porch right now, and the fight for space within its walls has already begun.

In fact, when Jim got the word from Sears that the first appointment for a repairman was fourteen days out……I got a game plan for today. Grab The Trail for another read through and sit tight by Porn Star. Some people may not fully understand yet that the cold food in her depths is for supper, not for random snacks. Some people may not believe that keeping the mayo cold takes priority over chilling their Peach Snapple Ice Tea. Some people may not believe that warm meats taste just as good as chilled meats, especially when they need to be eaten STAT.

I can see already that by day’s end, I will already have so many special new memories, and thanks to Sears I may get months of memory making!

The Trail- A True Tale of the Camino


In 2008 Elizabeth Sheehan found herself called to walk the ancient pilgrim route across Spain known as the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Millions of souls have walked this path for over a thousand years, and the Camino called Elizabeth to be in this company.
We waved her off from the farm with just a small pack on her back, knowing she needed to get herself from London to the rather obscure Camino trailhead in St Jean Pied de Port in the foothills of the french Pyrenees with not a lick of french, and that was just to start her trek.
2008 was the summer I broke my arm so I was truly an armchair quarterback, watching her set off into parts unknown from a chair in the gardens. Many weeks later, she returned to us with a larger than life tale of adventure as well as an amazing collection of Flower Essences that we would come to call the Camino Collection.
As the dust settled from her journey, it became clear that the Camino was not yet done with Elizabeth. In fact, the Camino was nudging Elizabeth rather forcefully to sit down and write about her journey.

Anyone who has known Elizabeth for more than ten minutes knows that she is much happier in motion than at rest. The writing of this book went very much against the grain of her personality, and yet she sat down and wrote and wrote and wrote for basically THREE YEARS!

All through her writing process I was lucky enough to get to read the many drafts. The towns she came to know, the international community she walked with and the Camino herself became companions of mine as well, and I loved every twist and turn of the plot, even on my tenth read through.
The Camino, a place of mystery, intense history, and magic born in part from an unusual convergence with the Milky Way gave Elizabeth a profound as well as playful journey on the edge of divine mystery and in thanks, Elizabeth gave the Camino back this book.
I hope you all have as much fun reading this story as I have- because yes, the book is newly published, and we have it to share!
Call or email us to get a copy or check out the web pages Elizabeth created to share more about the Camino and her book.

I asked Elizabeth to write a blog to introduce her book. No blog could begin to tell the story she tells in her book, but I hope this whets your appetite for her tale!


In the spring of 2008 I found myself at a crossroads. Bennington and the dance training that had been the heart of my college years had receded in the distance. The community I’d danced with had gone to NYC to find their place in the arts scene. Yet after a winter in the city, I’d known this race was not for me. I’d worked for a year as a teaching intern but that too was behind me, and a relationship begun at that school had died as well. I was at loose ends, searching for my place in the world, unsure who I wanted to be and where I belonged.
A book falling off the shelf, a synchronicity of symbols and the siren song of a placed called the Camino de Santiago de Compostela was all it took for me to leap and the trail on which I landed proved my path forward from the crossroads.
This memoir, three years in the making, is the story of my journey, but it is much more than my story. It is the story of an ancient land, of pilgrims and of walking. It is a story of the Camino herself.

The Camino is a trail. She is a pathway of dirt and rock, pavement and grass. She is narrow and treacherous. She is wide and generous. She is France. She is Spain. She is very long and very old. She is the length of countries and breadth of a continent. She has cradled pilgrims for over a thousand years. She is sunrise warming one’s back and sunset in one’s eyes. She is a place to be alone. And she is a current of many souls moving along, through and by. But most assuredly the Camino is a question. Or maybe the spark for many questions.
Some questions are universal. What am I doing with my life? Why have I come here? And some questions are personal. Is my body strong enough? Will heartache dog my every step?
Some are mundane. Is my rain jacket really waterproof and how soon before I find out? Is it possible to survive on chocolate bars alone? Some are profound. Can land hold an energy of healing that resonates with people across religious boundaries and national borders? Are these people walking with me vital players in the next chapter of my life, keys to the future, or are they echoes of my history?
Some questions are about the past. Why did that love affair fail? How long do the aftershocks last? And some are about the future. Will the physical life of the trail revive me?
Some are vague. What will each day hold? Can I communicate with people who don’t speak English and just how good is my Spanish?
Some are precise. How many steps to the place I will sleep for the night? How many ounces does my pack weigh? How many snoring pilgrims will be in my room tonight?
Some are about physical health. Are these shoes destined to give me blisters? When does dehydration really kick in and are hallucinations a bad sign?
Some are about emotional health. Will I crack under the pressure of this new life? Is every pilgrim a bit crazy to be on this pathway, ever marching toward some mythic end?
Some are about the land. What will the mountains feel like in the muscles of my legs? What is it like to walk barren lands for days on end?
Some are about one’s fellow pilgrims. Where will they come from? Who will they be? Will there be friends and maybe even a lover among them?
Some questions are too scary to whisper aloud. Will I find my place in a world of strangers in an unknown land? Will I be as lost at the end as I was at the beginning?

And some questions are shared, not just by those along the trail, but by us all. Where does this journey lead? What lies ahead? And will joy, balance and the comfort of true companionship greet us along the way?

This is my tale of the Camino. A tale filled with many questions and maybe even a few answers.


The Liberation of the Tropicals

As the greenhouse fills with baby plants each spring, the tropical plants that usually own the space get crowded against the back wall or relegated to other rooms in the house where they don’t get as much light.

Frankly, the tropicals, used to so much light in their natural habitat, don’t like this annual stopover on the regular windowsills of a New England farmhouse. So this wet weekend, I felt their nudge (even shove) for me to move them out into their summer quarters along the south side of the house in a bed of peat moss. It was early days for the move which usually happens in June after all danger of frost is past, but the plants seemed to want to roll the dice on possible frosts so I moved them out.


Some tropicals got new pots, a trim and new potting soil.
Of course the entire move was supervised by MayMay.


This is Old Blush China Rose, newly moved from her winter quarters. She is the ancient Rose that made possible the hybridization of Roses from east and west. As a Flower Essence, she has served so many with her wisdom about feeling safe.

She bloomed all winter in the confines of the greenhouse, but somehow the pearly grey skies of our rainy rainy spring helped her look her best or maybe it was just her tasting the light and stretching her wings after a long winter inside.

The Plums seem to agree about the glory of stretching their wings.

The Vees

One of the joys of a garden heading into its third decade is that so many established Flowers have moved themselves around the garden to places that suit them better. My initial plantings may or may not be there in the place I chose for them, but happily, many plants have drifted or seeded themselves in unexpected places that prove to work better for them than the spots I tried.

When I got up this morning, I strolled around the gardens greeting new arrivals. In the Arbor Garden, Leopard’s Bane has begun to blossom. This Flower, one of the ingredients in Golden Armor, jumped ship from where I planted it and moved lock, stock and barrel to a new spot on the other side of the garden where it lines a gravel path and tucks itself under a weeping crab. It looks spectacular in its chosen place.

Generally, volunteer plants are a celebration and delight, but truth be told, I spent a whole day this weekend battling one thug of a volunteer that thinks it belongs everywhere, filling every Flower bed, front, back and center.

When I made my first Flower garden in the early eighties, the proverbial “little old lady with tennis shoes,” a master gardener named Adele, invited me to visit her garden for some slips of her prized perennials. I grew up in a clan of gardeners so I knew a bit about Flowers, enough to recognize a wonderful garden when I saw it…. but I had not idea the steely resolve required to create a garden such as the one before me.

In my naivete, I wondered why this woman carry a machete with her, one about half her size. And I wondered why Adele stopped every few moments to ruthlessly pull out a clump of what she called, “the Vees.” And why, as she whipped her machete around, did she shout, “You have one garden and THAT IS ENOUGH!!!!”

I took my perennial slips and sped away into the evening sunset, thanking God I wasn’t a Vee. Whatever that was!

Ah yes, all things seem to circle around, and this growing season, as the Vees fill my yard in the billions, I need to steel my heart and summon the gumption of Adele to do battle with the Vees. For Violets by any name still take over a garden at the speed of light.

And so with Adele’s war cry still ringing in my ear almost thirty years later, I told the Vees I was taking back one whole garden. This meant leaving them in the dozen acres around this one garden so I was hardly being as tough as Adele, but I still felt guilty. It is hard to pull up a blossoming Flower, even when leaving a zillion others in bloom.

The Vees were not making things easy for me. After a lunch break on Thursday in which I had started to pull up the designated Vees, they had someone call the farm to sing their praises. I kid you not. A woman called to tell me the hundred reasons why Violets made the best Flower Essences. I could talk to her while looking out the window to my pile of pulled up Violets. I felt horrible! This was Vees at their most determined. To arrange this call on the eve of me pulling up 10,000 more Vees! You see what a formidable opponent I had taken on! Guilt, the gift that keeps on giving and the Vees were using it to make me regret my work before I’d really began.

Determined to persevere, I returned to the perennial bed in question the next morning. For five hours I yanked out Vees with my claw, and yet as the day passed, I still had only cleared a space about the size of a ping pong table. The Vees have thick matted roots and tuck themselves under other plants with positive brilliance. In an ironic twist, the ones under the Magnolia tree that Adele had inspired me to plant were particularly determined to stay put.

After a day on my knees, I gave it a rest for Mother’s Day. Admired the relatively small space I cleared. Kept telling the Vees that I really did love them but that I had to have room for other plants too. I’m not sure they listened. When this morning’s garden tour went by the spot where I had battled the Vees, this is what greeted me.


A face anyone would love. No, I can’t think that way. I need to keep battling. Other Flowers deserve a place too. I need to keep summoning my inner Adele. Maybe I need her machete too.

A Pink One Too

Lunchtime weeding found me experiencing sleet and black flies at the same time. This was certainly a first for bizarre May conditions. But no matter how odd the weather, I can only be glad for our relatively benign conditions. I talked to a dear soul yesterday who had lost half her town in the tornadoes.

Counting my blessings today included savoring the Pink Magnolia in Ben’s yard. This one is going to make a lovely Flower Essence- Here she is looking radiant in today’s sleet.