Back To School Overwhelm

Do you know what I find to be so rude? People who complain about how busy they are drive me nuts. If you are busy, it means you have a full and rich life, you are an integral part of something, and you signed up for all that shit, so quit whining! I am putting myself fully into the category of these rude, whiny people because “Back To School” has collided with “Pear Harvest”, with a healthy sprinkle of “Puppy Shit On or Chew Everything Good In Life” (all my own fault, all my own doing, I elected to participate in all of these situations…) and I don’t know whether to check my ass or scratch my watch.

Dear Ol’ Hil’s To Do List

1. Health Physical

2. Health forms

3. Uploading health forms to the school website.

4. Uploading photos of the insurance cards to the school website.

5. Buying books.

6. Figuring out the financial aid for buying books.

7. Prescription from Doctor.

8. Coupon for prescription.

9. Calling the insurance company to check on the coupon for the prescription.

10. Additional form to allow school to use prescription as prescribed.

11. Buying a curtain rod and shower curtain.

12. Shoes. 

14. Drop off at band practice.

15. Pick up from band practice.

16. Participate in chrysanthemums fund raiser.

17. Tell your kid you will NOT volunteer in the concession stand and you are doing what you are able by participating in the chrysanthemums fund raiser.

18. Feel guilty.

19. Check child support account. Empty. Cry.

20. Take call from mechanic, who tells you it will be an additional $400 to fix your car.

21. Become numb to it all and laugh maniacally.

22. Pick up puppy shit.

23. Kid tells you she doesn’t need the folders that you bought and she can’t share a package of pens with her sister because SHE NEEDS A LOT OF PENS AND YOU ARE A SHIT MOTHER FOR NOT DOING THE CONCESSION STAND.

24. Tell her not to fucking swear.

25. The huge sectional couch moved all over the living room. Was there an earthquake?

26. Receive call from pear boss asking if you have xyz-ed, and you haven’t even begun to xyz.

27. Wonder why you don’t drink.

28. Remember that you couldn’t afford to drink.

29. Fold towels.

30. Pick up more puppy shit.

Love and light,

Your friend,



Hi! I have some new readers around here, so I thought I would reintroduce myself. Thanks for the follows, newbie Thrillerati! Welcome! Howdy-do! Want some Pringles? Pull up a bean-bag chair! I’m Hil. I am VERY opinionated and my mother thinks I’m *just brilliant*. I like art, nature and spirituality so much that I had those three words tattooed on the back of my neck.

I married an orchardman named ❤️💕 Bob❤️💕. There’s Bob on our honeymoon in Puerto Rico. Ay, Carumba! Bob is a super talented artist and is the “nice” one.

We have two scary-smart teenaged daughters (one is in boarding school and one is home with us), and we reside way out in the middle of nowhere with our three dogs and a cat. We have a junk car in our yard, and a tractor tire just laying there that Bob hits with a sledgehammer from time to time to build muscles or something. 

If you like: nature photos, cute dogs, neopaganism, fairies, sarcasm, tattoos, leftist politics, raising capable children, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson”, swimming in a river of questionable cleanliness, Vikings, bonfires, hippies, random acts of kindness, simple living, books, coffee, white Christmas lights on trees, stories about kids, Frida Kahlo, hiking, anti-consumerism, picnics, Asian pears, quantum physics, craft projects, lightening bugs, tacos, painting, and/or Ani DiFranco…that’s pretty much what I am into, and we will get along just fine.

If you hate those things, that’s cool, too. You are welcome just the same. 

Thanks for coming by! 

Love and light,

Your friend,


How to Make A Flower Mandala


This weekend, I made this flower mandala in honor of my daughter’s 16th birthday. It turned out to be a great adventure, and I am very pleased with the inexpensive result.

The first thing I did was call a bunch of local florists to see if I could have their less fresh flowers or flowers to be thrown away. They all told me no, for various reasons. I live very far in the country, and to drive in to a good florist is an investment of time, so I ended up not using any flowers from a florist. If you live where florists are more convenient, or you have a friendship with one, you could probably work out a good deal for their leftovers. One florist told me that I could pay $15 for a bag of rose petals, and that they were half price after four pm on fridays, for future reference.

babysittee helped me shop for the party

The next thing I did was go to Walmart, and pick up a three bouquets that had just one type of flower. I got the orange lilies, and some red and purple carnations. Can you find them in the mandala? That cost me $5 each, for a total of $15.

I took my babysittee along for our flower-collecting adventure, and he did not like the outside-ness, the bug-ness, the hot-ness, or the scratchy-grass-ness. He did pick 9 Queen Anne’s Lace flowers in the municipal mulch yard, and he whined and moaned while I collected more Queen Anne’s lace, heather, and cat tails, and yellow daisies at the community center. That kid is not a Nature type.

My friend Julie came over to my house that evening, and helped me hunt for local wildflowers. We have a huge abundance of wildflowers all summer, but fall is near and it was more tricky than I anticipated. Julie and I looked for abandoned lots and neglected roadsides, and collected a ton of pink phlox, goldenrod, summac, and black-eyed susans. Julie had even put out an email to her office, and her coworkers donated some lovely hydrangea and Rose of Sharon.

Julie is the best friend a girl could have, scrambling up embankments, robbing church parking lots, and driving me in whatever circles I pointed to.

Once procured, I hid the flowers in many locations to keep them from the eyes of the birthday girl. I had one bucket in the alley behind the house, one in the basement, and one down by the river in our backyard. When she left the next day, I had several helpers to assist me with my project.

I chose a relatively flat and open space in the yard, having no idea how big my mandala would end up being. I stated with the red heart in the center, and then added the cat tails pointing out like sun rays. My younger daughter and two of her teenaged friends helped me slowly build layer by layer outward. I used the flowers we had the smallest amount of first, because that would be the smallest radius of the circle. The flowers we had the most of went towards the outside.

In order to make the design, I considered how the flowers would contrast against the grass. Bright colors and flowers packed densely make the most pop. If you notice the golden rod is arranged in peaks so that the heads of the flowers are piled together, making the yellow color dense enough to stand out against the grass.

I also considered negative space, making large curves instead of straight lines with the hydrangea, for example, allowing space between the shapes.

My teenaged assistants were pivotal in helping me rip off the heads of the flowers from the stems. Once I had decided which pattern I wanted, they helped me lay the design.

Upon completion, I am so pleased with the result, and it made for a cheap, loving, original, beautiful, and biodegradeable party decoration, as well as a great memory for a 16th birthday.

Now I just want to make more!

Love and light,

Your friend,


Like, share, subscribe and for the love of God, COMMENT!❤️💕 

Just Have Fun All Day


Hi, how are you? I am one of those abhorrent “morning people” and I am up with the dogs. I am really loving this “three dog” life. It is a big pile of dogs. When I was a kid, I couldn’t conceptualize that anyone was ever allowed to have more than one dog, but Now I Am An Adult and I Do Whatever I Want And I Have THREE fuckin’ DOGS! Hahaha! This attitude of mine is only getting worse since being suicidal. Life sucks, and playing by your tidy life-rule-book makes it all the more excruciating, so if I want to cut my hair, paint all day, cuss like a sailor, and have three dogs, just for the exquisite, crystal, delicious high of the chaos, I will.

My dear Julie stopped by last night. It was a hot, humid night, the kind of  weather that make a person’s lungs pissed off at you for trying to pass off water as air. The moon was out, and Julie and I took our plastic chairs and plopped them right into the shallow water of the river so that we could talk and soak our feet at the same time. It is a lovely way to entertain, even if your guests leave soaked, smelling of crawfish, and covered in wet dog hair.

On Tuesday, Aspen goes back to Utah and I pains me to even write this down. She is necessary in this house. She is sweet and funny, and (I know, shock) my kids are cynical and sometimes too interested in being cool to relax into the moment. Aspen gets us all to just relax about shit. We were watching “Bob Ross” (you know, the painter with the afro?) and Bob Ross was painting along and he said in his trademarked soft voice,”do this, do this, do this…just have fun all day.” Now, that is our favorite expression. “Just have fun all day!”

I’m going to have to remember that because the next two weeks are going to be action-packed. Nevie comes back from her nightmare stint working in the Girl Scout kitchens tonight (hot, long hours, understaffed, every child labor law broken…the usual), and has two weeks to turn 16 and pack and go back to boarding school. I don’t know how to celebrate 16. It is a big deal, but I can’t buy her a car, or throw her some sort of epic, wedding-like party with a cinderella dress, and there is no time, and I’m feeling kind of bad about it. Her actual birthday is the same day she leaves for school. I always feel like I’m letting her down.

Sequoia has band camp, which is another horrible torture that appears to involve going back to school early, marching in lines on concrete in 1000 degree heat for 8 hrs at a time. Voluntarily, she does this. When I was her age, the mere suggestion would have been met with a resounding,”FUCK NO!” My parents were always trying to send me to “Smart Kid Camp” where the kids do homework all summer, and I was yelling throughout the house,”JUST BECAUSE I GET GOOD GRADES DOESN’T MEAN I WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL ALL SUMMER WITH NERDS!!!!” I was lovely. Sequoia was voted “Band Treasurer”, which is a tremendous honor for a freshman, and she is excited about the position.

Bob? Bob I hardly see. He’s working. He’s exhausted from working in the heat. Upon arriving home, he mows the lawn until he’s nearly dead, he plays with the dogs, then eats in a semi-conscious state , and he falls into a coma.  When he has time off, he goes into the basement and makes incredible graphic novel-ish art. He needs one of those victorian style, two month vacations.

Child support came in. The Berks County Office of Domestic Relations did their job! Hearty handshakes to you, Berks County Office of Domestic Relations!  I went nuts and bought myself a little, tiny vacuum cleaner that turns into a dust buster for twenty dollars… BALLIN’!  To me, living in three inches of dog hair is a pretty acceptable lifestyle, but when it gets to four inches, something ought to be done.

Hey! Like, share or subscribe! That’s always cool! Leave a comment! They mean a lot to me.

Love and light,

Your friend,















The Reading Pagoda, A Trip to New York, and An Aspen Bomb

So much has happened around here! Life is happening at lightening speed! The harvest is coming, and I have been busy lining up restaurants with pears. I have three art commissions in the works, and I have been babysitting a few days a week. Pear events! A puppy! Aspen to show around! And Nevie went back to Girl Scout camp to work in the kitchen for a couple of weeks, to earn money for school…after thirty five pages of paperwork were completed!

I feel terrible that a kid who goes to boarding school is away in the summer, too. Nevie ADORES camp, and hates the new house, so that is the way the cookie crumbles this summer. Child support is not happening at this expensive time of year, so off to work she went, sadly for me, happily for her. After only two weeks of work, she will be considered a second year worker next year, and that, compounded with her lifeguarding certificate, should put her in a nice pay range for a sixteen year old, next year. Her summer break is 12 weeks long, and she split it down the middle…six weeks at camp, and six weeks at home. 

The day that Nevie returns to school is her SIXTEENTH birthday! Could you send Nevie a card? Message me for the address. Money is going to be tight but I want to make the day very special.

   Politics are seriously weighing on me. Trump signs are all over my neighborhood and I just cannot understand. I went up to New York to visit my parents, and honestly, to be around a less racist, homophobic, religiously-bigoted culture. I was very proud of the church sign in my neighborhood. I was so excited that I made my mom drive around the block so I could take a picture. I went to preschool at this church, and my brother was married here. The sign says,”Coexist.”

Where I grew up, it wasn’t okay to judge people based upon their religion because there was an understanding, even a sanctity, to how each of us comes to understand and appreciate the divine. 

Many of my friends and family in Pennsylvania hate Muslims, my husband included. They will tell you. They are proud of it. They think it makes them better Americans. It makes me cry. There is no separation between hating the politics of extreme Islamic fundamentalism, and “Muslims”. None of them could tell you a thing about The Koran other than “kill the infidel”. I feel like I’m dealing with four year olds who only understand concepts simple enough to be explained in a preschool board-book.

Here are some pictures of Albany, where I belong…
My mom knows that I sleep with all my dogs at home, so she gave me these dogs to keep me company while I visited…

And she always has mint chip icecream.

I discovered THIS on my phone this morning…ASPEN BOMB!
Sequoia and Aspen, the two trees, have been having many adventures. Yesterday, they hiked Hawk Mountain, had lunch at Wanamaker’s General Store, and at night time, we went up to the Reading Pagoda. I thought it was going to be this beautiful experience, but all the girls took away was the ghetto family in the parking lot, smoking from a big hookah, with their TODDLERS! Ayiyi. So, be forewarned before you take your family up there. Most people are there, not to enjoy the view, but to get high. 

Love and light,

Your friend,


Ps Message me if you would like to send Nevie a card for her Sweet Sixteen!

No Compaints

That was my week, in pictures. I don’t remember ever being so happy. Life is good and I am overflowing with gratitude. It still has annoyances, like the puppy got her day and night confused last night, and was up all night barking, crying, and trying to chew me, but that’s nothing. The poor baby is only eight weeks old, and in mourning for her lost mama.

Aspen “Barbie Legs Firefly Ninja” is such a lovely addition to the clan. She is so enthusiastic and loving, she brings out the best in us. Aspen is helpful, appreciative, and ready for everything. She curbs all of our over-abundant cynicism. It feels like no time has passed-we are back on 19th St, and the kids are running up and down the city streets again.

When I asked her what she wanted to see here in Pennsylvania, she said,”Penn Pizza!”, so I took her back to the old neighborhood. We lived above the pizzeria from the time Nevie was six to almost twelve, and Aspen just a few houses down. It was 100 degrees out, so we didn’t do all the strolling and friend visiting that we planned yet, (we could barely breathe outside!), but we did see our apartment, Aspen’s old house, and got hugs from the Pizza Guy! Man, so many memories. The only thing missing was our blue chairs out on the sidewalk.

Aspen said,”I have never been so excited for food in my whole life!”

On Sunday, I worked at a farmer’s market and wine event at the Bethlehem SteelStacks. The huge steel mill is no longer functioning, and Bethlehem has built all sorts of new, interesting things around the old structure, including an elegant entertainment venue. 

It was another hundred degree day, and I spent ten hours outside, standing on the concrete, under the giant, dead smokestacks, selling pears. It was a nice event, but too damn hot for me! Half of the team was inside doing the wine event, but I got the short end of the stick and was outside. I did come home with a huge basket of free veggies from a local farm, and our Asian Pears were well received.


well, that is not something you see everyday…

At the end of the day, my boss asked me,”Why are you so quiet, Hil?”

I was too almost-dead to say,”Because I’m almost-dead from the HEAT!”

The boss did take care of us, though. She brought frozen bandanas for our necks, water, and kept us rotating inside for breaks. During my break, I went inside the conference center, found a big, cool, metal wall and pressed as much surface area of my body against it as possible. I looked like one of those sticky things that you get from a machine for a quarter, to throw against the wall.

Nevie has triumphantly returned from her counselor-in-training position at camp, so strong and confident. The kids loved her ( which you may think is something all moms say, but seriously, I saw a girl launch herself into Nevie’s arms at parting), and she was excited that she got placed in the barn to work with the horses. She’s thinking about going back for another couple of weeks for pay, but I don’t know if I can bear to let her go again. Who thought boarding school was a good idea? 😒

I just heard an inspirational speaker say,”If you had ten million dollars, what would you do?” Honestly, I’d be doing the same exact stuff…hanging out with the family, playing with dogs, being outside as much as possible, and making art. I’d probably have shoes that weren’t $14 from Walmart, though…

I’d buy a paddle board to do in the river.

Love and light,

Your friend,


The Bitch In The Bubble

Look! Look! Look! Look who I got! ASPEN!!! She lived down the street from us from 2006-2012, and was practically another daughter.  When she moved across the country, I feared that I would never see her again, but the moms and the girls worked together,  Aspen flew all the way across the country alone, and I experienced an airport security patdown (motherfuckers), but…Aspen is here! 
First impression: Damn! She is tall! Why do all the kids have like 6 inches on me now!? And damn! She is beautiful! Schuylkill county better watch out!

When I hung back, and watched the girls at the baggage claim, they seemed like identical twins, like one flows into the other and vice versa. Their energy is the same. 
I just hope that she likes it here,  and that I can make it fun for her without being that too annoying Mom, and without going broke. Those are the goals.

This might be my favorite photo of Bob that I have ever taken. I am really obsessed with the light on the white comforter and love photographing it. Look at his hand! Expressive. This is after Bob has been spraying at the farm all night in order to protect the pollinating bees. Utter exhaustion. The night shift/day shift/night shift stuff just wrecks a man.

My dear friend, Irie, helped me a huge amount with my health this week. She said that symptoms might be triggered by the heat, because my body may be compromised in its ability to regulate temperature. Nobody told me that! I wanted to blow this off, because I love the sun, I love being outside in the summer, and I didn’t FEEL too hot at all. I guess that’s the problem- I don’t feel hot. 

I don’t sweat. My armpits get misty but I have never had sweat drip down my brow. I don’t feel uncomfortable. I don’t feel any of the body signs that say…”get a cold drink and some shade, Buster!”

Irie, who also has Hashimoto’s, said to refrigerate myself…cold shower, bedroom A/C full blast. Let me tell you, my brain fog and pain was improved in just two hours time. Which is awesome, and also sucks…

The big cool down worked, and I feel 85% better. I can do more productive things than watch “Jane The Virgin”. I am grateful to have relief, but it sucks that it is just another “special snowflake” thing that I’ve got to be careful of. Gotta eat special gluten free food. Gotta rest. Gotta remain unstressed. And now I can’t get hot? I should just get myself a plastic bubble and set up camp there! Instead of “The Boy In The Bubble”,  I am “The Bitch In The Bubble”.

Part of me says, “Fuck it. Keep swimming at the lake. Keep sunbathing. Keep hiking. Keep playing with the dogs in the grass. Get hot. Those are your favorite things in life. Get real sick and die doing the things you love, on top of a pile of bagels, pizza, and cinnamon rolls, with your hiking boots on!”

“Be the fucking Jim Belushi of Hashimoto’s!”

Being healthy and living a long time seems terribly flavorless. 

It took me a very long time to write this. Brain fog might not be as improved as I thought.

Like! Share! Subscribe! Comment!

Love and light,

Your friend,


Aspen Aspen Aspen

Oh, my gosh! I am overwhelmed by the love and encouragement I received in the comments section over my last post. Thanks, truly. That stuff means the world to me, and your engagement really inspires me to write more. I replied to them all, so check back in the comments if you like.

A lot of you have been following my blog for a long time, and if you have, you know ❤️Aspen❤️. She’s my daughter from another mother who used to live down the street from us from 2007-2012.  Then, we moved to the country and she moved to Oregon, and Sequoia (then Phoebe) almost died of a broken heart.  Well, guess what-guess what-GUESS WHAT!?!?! 

Aspen is coming to stay for a WHOLE MONTH in only six days!!!!

We have been getting ready, setting up an extra bed in Sequoia’s room, stocking up on her favorite foods, and buying a puppy for her arrival. 

She is not ten any more, Aspen is now a mature and worldly 14 year old. We have not seen her for FOUR YEARS. Ack! Gahh! I was afraid I would never see her again when she moved to the other side of the country. My heart exploded when Sequoia brought out a birthday gift she had been saving for four years for Aspen. I know Aspen’s tastes have probably changed since she was ten, but that is a lot of love.

*Notice the lack of sheets on the bed? Someone peed on the bed. Someone named Kay.

Can’t wait to see you Aspen! 

Love and light,

Your friend,


Big Rant

Look! Pictures of the lovely Pennsylvania woods! How relaxing! I am posting these calming images in response to the fact that I am aggravated today, and I have been aggravated all day, and all efforts in my part to de-aggravate myself have thus far been fruitless. 


I feel like the whole world is aggravated this week, what with the election already stolen by Hillary (no relation), and cute little peasants getting upset with one another, as if their vote counts. Plus, I want to punch EVERY “ALL LIVES MATTER” mental midget right in the pee-hole because, obviously all lives matter, but cops can’t kill black people in the street anymore. I admit, although I am snowflake white, plus from the suburbs so that’s like “white plus”, I’m with the Black Lives Matter chums and fellows, (and chaps). For the people who don’t catch subtlety and nuance, Black Lives Matter is a polite uphemism for “Holy Shit, STOP shooting kids with skittles in their hands,”etc., it is not a LITERAL statement that ONLY Black lives matter. Duh. Duhhhhhhhh. Duh.

Plus, “I’m with the people who are shooting the black people, because their jobs are hard, cut them some slack…” is never the correct answer.

Nobody cares about my political opinions. Maybe I’m still hot about the Fourth of July, when I had to walk out of our family dinner because of some SUPER bigoted talk, like make your eyes roll back in your head bigoted talk, even though I brought sparklers, and gummy starfish, and even though I staged super cute family photos with the sparklers. My point being, I try to put the energy in! I try to be a great daughter in law! But then, I can’t.

I’m mad because I am not seen by Bob’s family. No one knows where I am from, where I’ve been, about my religion or important influences. No one speaks to me beyond,”Hi, how are you?” and “pass the potato salad”. No one mentioned when I was hospitalized for major depression, no one sent a card when they heard about my miscarriage, no one asks me what I am doing with my art. They rolled their eyes when Nevie won her scholarship and said,”why would you go to boarding school?!”. I am totally invisible. 

So, they aren’t sensitive to the fact that I am a northeastern, white, liberal from Upstate New York, raised by hippies, pacifists, artists, and intellectuals…that’s my culture, that’s my home, that’s my education…because after TEN years, they have never asked where I come from or what I think.

It is their house, and I have tried to be sensitive to their worldview, their history, their background, their experience. I keep my views to myself as well as I am able, trying to give respect. I don’t go there in my “Feel The Bern” socks.

My mother in law brought out her family history scrapbook on the Fourth of July, and I eagerly listened and learned, until she said,”Well, there will be no Jischke heir, so this can go in the garbage after I’m dead,” right in front of Sequoia, who has had Bob for a dad since she was six, and cannot help who her absent biological  father is. And, you know, we had a miscarriage, and are very sad ourselves that we didn’t bring that soul into the world. Fucker fuck fuckity gahhhh.

  Look at the puppy and take deep breaths.

Our family friend, Joe, was a hero. He came out to the car, after I stormed out, to see if I was okay, and sent me an email the next day saying that he couldn’t even believe how things went down. There’s Joe. Much respect, Joe. As Mister Rogers said,”Look for the helpers…”. Joe is a helper.

I feel like there isn’t much good out of writing this down, but sometimes things are just jumping around in my head and need to be written.  There is a lot of frustration in the air and I don’t need to add to it, but some things just NEED to escape my brain.

Love and light,

Your friend,