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Without Her

A little over three years ago I suffered a loss that took my breath away. It literally swept my feet from under me and changed the way I saw the world. Grief is like no other feeling on earth.  It is vast and deep and terrifying. Until you have lost someone who is so much a part of you, and so much a part of your world that the rooms in your soul echo after they leave, you cannot begin to imagine the coiling monster that is grief.

My sister passed away unexpectedly at the age of twenty four. The cause was not known at the time, and an autopsy took months, but still came back largely inconclusive. In the months between her death and the autopsy results, my family lived in limbo. There was no closure, no real explanation – just time passing, without her.

Losing my sister shook me to the core. It raised questions that I had never considered. It brought my own mortality into view. Whoever you are and however you view the world – at some point something is bound to turn your focus to the big questions. Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? What happens after death? What is our purpose?

The big questions never baffled me when I was younger. I held easy and confident answers for all of them. Knowledge and experience are very different animals. All the philosophy in the world won’t bail you out when you are sinking.

For months I lived in a world of questions, platitudes and terrible advice. The things that people say in these circumstances are senseless and horrible. I was told to be glad I had her for that short while at least. They say that time heals all wounds. You need to put it behind you and go on living, people advised. It was her time to die.

Three years (and a bit) later, I can say with absolute certainty that time does not heal all wounds. The body is so much easier to heal than the spirit. When it is a matter of tissue and blood and bone, healing is a natural progression. The spirit does not simply clot and form a scar tissue by itself. You actually have to do the work.

It took me a long time to find the bottom of what I had thought was bottomless grief. Layer after layer I searched for answers, and only unearthed more questions.  When I finally made it through the sadness, hopelessness, bartering, guilt, rage and fury of the many stages of grief, I discovered the journey was directly into the center of my existence, and the road back was a process of examination of everything I knew. It was a road composed of the big questions.

Strangely enough, my answers to the big questions are the same now as I would have given a decade ago. They have not changed, just grown in perspective and conviction. Time has not healed my wounds. There are wounds that never heal. The nature of our existence is experience. What we believe in theory often holds true when we must live it. It is the living that matters.

I believe that when we die our bodies return to the earth. I believe that the essence of our being lives on. Energy does not cease to exist. She is in every sunrise, every blade of grass, every bird call and every star in the sky.

We live on, but never without her.

Republished with permission. Post originally appeared on Treewise

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One Critter Is Eating Well


The storm appears to have subsided for now. It’s still snowing, but not as heavily as it was. Cars are moving and driveways are getting plowed out.

This clever little red squirrel knows where to find food. After fighting off a bossy blue jay and some chattering chickadees, he moved into the bird feeder and spent most of his morning there.



Digging himself a tunnel through the snow, he has all the food he could want and a place to get out of the wind.



“If we had a keen vision of all that is ordinary in human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which is the other side of silence.” ~ George Eliot


“Living is no laughing matter: you must live with great seriousness like a squirrel for example – I mean without looking for something beyond and above living, I mean living must be your whole occupation.” ~ Nazim Hikmet

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Garden Updates


July just flew! What a busy time, and the garden has grown up and spilled over the sides. I’ve been out picking beans and peas and swiss chard and lettuce at least every couple of days.

Butternut squash is climbing up the net, and I think I may have planted more than I need, but I hated to pull any out.

One of my gardens practically exploded in a day and a half after a big rain.

Beans are climbing up the trellis and anything else they can reach.

Purple beans are my favorite thing to grow. I think I will plant twice as many next year.

The peas also did very well this year, and there are dozens of tomatoes loving this heat.

The swiss chard is about the only thing that was touched by pests really, other than the odd nibble on some lettuce.

I have not has as much time as I would have liked to spend in the garden but what minutes I could spare have been fantastic.

I will be sad to see fall come!


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Rue – verb – to bitterly regret something and wish it undone. Synonyms: regret, lament, mourn, grieve

Cats have been kept by humans for over 9,500 years, and in that time, no feline has been regarded with more superstition than the black cat. In some cultures black cats are considered to be bad luck, in others, good luck.

Black cats have genes which interfere with the ordinary patterning you might expect to see, and the hair grows in as a solid color. Some black cats, when observed closely in the right light, still show some hints of this patterning such as faint striping or rings around the tail.

 “If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things that cannot be learned any other way” ~Mark Twain

Cats were originally domesticated as a means to control vermin. They protected food stores by killing mice, rats, snakes and other types of pests. For this reason, a cat was a handy thing to have around. They are still common in this role today, living as barn cats and house cats, and even in places of business.

 “Cats have it all – admiration, endless sleep and company only when they want it.” ~ Rod McKuen

I was not looking for a cat when Rue came along. A friend of mine had discovered abandoned kittens under her house and was looking for homes for them. I thought this particular kitten was adorable from the first time I saw her picture, but talked myself out of adopting her. A few weeks later, with kitten season well underway and nearly every second house just filled with tiny cats looking for homes, my friend noted that she had not had any luck yet.

 “I had been told that the training procedure with cats was difficult. It’s not. Mine had me trained in two days.” ~Bill Dana

On a whim I asked about “the little black one” and it turned out that she was still available and badly needing someplace to go. I volunteered. We estimate Rue is close to eight weeks old. She is tiny but plump with a voracious appetite and a sassy fearless attitude that goes over very well with my bossy pomeranian.

I don’t think Rue is going to be a completely black cat. She is beginning to show some long white hairs here and there, particularly on her paws and face. It will be interesting to see what she grows into.


A little boy was with his dad looking at a litter of kittens. Upon returning home, the little boy could not wait to tell his mother that there were 2 girl kittens and 2 boy kittens.

“How do you know?” asked his mother.

The boy replied, “Daddy picked them up and looked underneath. I think it’s printed on the bottom.”


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