feeling fall


Last Saturday we had some friends from the city visit and the colors and vibe of Baldy Hill had yet to shift from summer — the gardens still throwing out peppers and tomatoes and zucchini, the flower beds full of bright blooms. Although the shifting light was a subtle but sure sign that autumn had in fact arrived. And in just the five days since we said our good-byes, fall’s presence can no longer be denied, with trees heaving chestnuts, leaves bleeding red, and sweaters and socks being pulled out of storage chests.

I love this season, always have. As a child, fall meant apple cider, jumping in my grandfather’s freshly raked piles of maple leaves, local town Halloween parades, football games, and watching geese fly south for the winter. Now, many years later, I celebrate autumn by raking our own piles of leaves, picking pumpkins, cooking up batches of butternut squash soup and vegetarian chili, Oktoberfest beer, new knitting projects, and still being amazed by the geese flying south for the winter. Oh fall, welcome back, I’ve missed you! :-)



We are enjoying beautiful days here on Baldy Hill as autumn creeps closer. Despite a cooler summer, the gardens have thrived and produced our largest bounty yet — we shall eat well this winter and for that we are very grateful. We are grateful too that the harvest kept us busy and gave a purpose to our days soon after Bayliss died. There is no app for weeding (that I know of anyway ;-) ) or canning, and so we had to sometimes put our grieving aside and get on with the living.

And we even managed to have a little fun — one last-of-the-summer trip to the beach, picnics, and our favorite chile pepper festival (where James successfully defended his title of jalapeno-eating champ). But the falling leaves and later sunrises remind us that we can no longer put off preparations for winter . . . wood to cut and stack, wool to sort through, apples to collect, and a pantry to organize. Our “simpler” life here also means there is always something to do!

I wouldn’t have it any other way though — almost every day, one of us says, “Man, I love living here.” And the other always agrees. So bring on the fall and pumpkin soups and knitting by the wood fire, and a whole new season to love on Baldy Hill. :-)

Hoping you are well wherever you are.


IMG_2292It’s been a difficult week, as we all — humans, dog, and cat — get used to the idea that there is one fewer among us. Our home seems to suddenly have become a quiet one — we never realized what a presence our Bayliss commanded. Although we are gradually moving into the acceptance phase of our grieving, I still hate coming downstairs in the early morning and not finding here there, waiting to greet me with a kiss, smile, and enthusiastic tail wag. I loved that face, that happy happy face.

Our other dog, Buster, misses her too. The day Bayliss died, he moved her favorite toy into his bed, and he’s kept it there ever since — not playing with it, just keeping it close to him, by his side.

But he and I have been taking long walks in the nearby woods, which he loves. And we’ve been talking together as a family about how we want to memorialize Bayliss after we receive her ashes — something near my garden, where she loved to spend her afternoons as I worked, seems like the right thing to do.

This past week, we have been lucky to receive the support from friends and family who loved Bayliss, too. Grieving for an animal is tricky because some people don’t understand or recognize the death in the same way they would for a person — no matter how many studies contradict this. I found this resource from the Dogs Trust in the UK to be helpful as I started to work through the emotions of losing such a good friend, who happened to have four paws instead of two feet. It also contains useful, practical information and advice, and although UK-centric, much is universally applicable.

And so we go on. There’s a garden that needs some attention, and we’re looking forward to the local peach festival (and library book sale!) this weekend. Plus, I’m knitting again. One day after another, one stitch after another, we go on.

gratitude sunday

Baby Boo

Our beautiful Bayliss Lily died this morning, peacefully in her sleep, at the age of 15 and a half. Despite no outward signs or changes in her, for the past few days I sensed her end was coming. I moved my work from the home office to the lounge where she slept. On Friday I stopped weeding in the garden to take a few photos of her as she rested nearby. And last night I slept on the sofa next to her bed. I’m so glad I did.


We’ve been sharing our favorite memories of her since this morning — from her early days at the Front & Chestnut dog park in Philadelphia, to the goat track in Spain, and long walks around Baldy Hill. She had the most soulful eyes and loving spirit, a true beauty inside and out. As one of our Spanish neighbors always said about her, “Ella siempre será el más hermoso perrillo en el pueblo.” And we couldn’t agree more.

baylissOn this sad, difficult day, we are still grateful. We are grateful for each day of her life that we shared, that she was able to live all her days fully, and that she did not suffer in the end, that she died at home with those who loved her. Rest in peace, beautiful girl. Xo.

the essence of summer


  • Sunday dinners of steamed littleneck clams, corn on the cob, and lots of butter
  • Evenings on the porch waiting for the fireflies to wake up
  • The smell of freshly cut hay
  • A gentle stream of sweat trickling down my back on the hottest of days
  • Afternoons of shelling peas
  • Ice cream for supper
  • Warm soil between my toes
  • Beach umbrellas and coconut butter suncream
  • Swinging in my hammock
  • Picnic dinners with friends
  • Gin and tonics with fresh lime
  • The annual peach festival
  • Driving with all the car windows down and the music blaring
  • Every week new flowers in bloom
  • The crack of a baseball bat
  • Grilled dinners
  • Rereading my favorite childhood books on a lazy humid afternoon
  • “Watch the tram car, please.”
  • Sliced tomatoes, lightly salted, a drizzle of olive oil
  • So many shades of green
  • Waking up to birdsong every morning
  • Listening to big band music while sipping lemonad
  • Crickets

garlic harvest


One insanely hot summer morning a few years ago, I was standing in a very long line at our local bank in Spain. Bank hours were short in our village, and the hours set aside for bill paying even shorter. It was invariably during those hours that one of the two clerks would take her breakfast break, leaving just one woman to cover all the routine transactions.

This particular day, the acondicionador de aire was not working properly, which meant that the old widows (all dressed in black), seated in folding chairs lined up in a short row against the wall, waved their lacy and painted hand fans back and forth with fervor as they caught up with family gossip. I was positioned near the tail end, behind a wizened farmer. He was dressed in a tattered shirt, dusty olive pants, with rope sandals — true espadrilles — on his feet. Having traveled down from his summer finca in the Sierras, he was ripe in sweat…although not as fragrant as the long braid of garlic he had slung over his right shoulder. Oh how I was grateful for that pungent garlic smell simmering in the sardine-packed room.

Not surprisingly, good fresh garlic was abundant in our corner of Andalucia. When we moved to Baldy Hill, however, we found the available offerings lacking in flavor and priced high. So we decided to grow our own! Our first harvest last year was successful, yielding enough Georgian Crystal, Godfather’s Italian, and of course ajo andaluz (our former local variety) to last us through this year’s scape season. This year we added more varieties — Red Janice, Nootka Rose, and Island Rocambole — and we have been fortunate that all have done well and produced strong yields.

Planting season for garlic is in late summer or early fall, depending on your geographic location, so if you’re tired too of paying one dollar a head for stale organic garlic, try growing your own. It’s not hard, trust me. :-) Now, does anyone have an Altoid?