Category Archives: Farm Stories

Why I “hate” Stink Bugs

Stink Bug hiding under hair appliance

There I am, minding my own business, engaged in an activity, and one shows up. Yesterday this baby, above, fell out of the sweater I am wearing today. THAT is how they are these bugs: quiet, and with a face that any mother would find hard to love.

IMG_3701 (1)
Stink Bug on top of towel

I hate the way Stink Bugs, or in this case, the Western Conifer Seed Bug (note, this bug is not in the official Stink Bug family but is commonly labelled as such by many of us) sneak up on me. To my knowledge these sly bugs don’t bite: my husband, a former science teacher, confirmed this fact. They just roam around looking for a plant to juice with their needle-like mouthpart.

Stink Bugs appear out of the blue…usually as a harbinger of the change of seasons, or in the middle of winter with a global warming trend. The Stink Bug has disturbed me at the most inopportune times.

I’ll be typing away and one shows up, crawling along my keyboard, about to be smushed by my next word. Many a night, cozy in bed reading a book, one of these creatures dive bombs me from the ceiling with a buzz the intensity of  which is matched by a bumble bee.

The problem is, except for a bed and wall inspection, interception is futile as the Stink Bug slowly, stealthily, bursts into my life without warning in its other worldly costume.
My intervention is usually a shout to request that my husband guide the bugger out the window in hopes of avoiding its stinky smell when smushed.

One night, however, this did not work.

It was the fall of 2005. It was the middle of the night and I woke up parched. I reached for my glass of water and sipped it for that midnight refreshment.

It tasted funny, a slight sweetness. Gatorade comes to mind all these years later. I thought I better take a look. In order not to wake my husband, I took the glass through the darkness into the bathroom. That is when I saw it: a stink bug had drowned in my water and was off gassing.

I did wake my husband who said, “Don’t worry about it, it is just a little extra protein, go back to sleep.” I remained concerned and at 2 am called poison control.
The poison control guy talked me down and here I am more than 10 years later, alive and preparing for the next stealth bomber.



a first world problem in a suffering world

One Sunflower

This picture was originally taken in 2012, I think.  It was a sunflower that just grew and grew.  It may have been one that my husband let take root, even though it contrasted with his vision for that particular area of landscape.

Like many things in nature, it can be a metaphor for our lives.  We reach a peak of growth and then as we decline, whenever that moment begins, we are laden with the ripeness of our time.  When that seed spreads, it may flower, feed other life, or disappear.  It is the nature of things.

To see this sunflower in its moment, its fullness, on the brink of decline and then to revisit it nearly four years later, is a bit of magic.


sunflower copy
Sunflower circa Fall 2012

A most beautiful Blackberry Farm

walking near apple trees
walking near apple trees

Years ago now, I dreamed of having a farm retreat and calling it Blackberry Farm.  This was before 2008 and the crash that has seemed to divide us into extremes…the 1 percent and the rest of us.  We had blackberry paths that were exposed to the sun and you could, at the time, circa 2002, pick many pints.  We still have those paths, but they are now shaded with a canopy of hardwoods growing over the last 13 years.

In the middle of the last decade I found that my dream had been realized in Tennessee and  Blackberry Farm, a retreat to the countryside.   I saw it in Country Living, I was impressed.  I have since liked their Facebook page and follow their growth.  It looks heavenly and way out of my tax bracket. I have decided you have to have two things, or at least one of them, to make this kind of dream come true:  stamina to do the work yourself, or money to get it done, or a combination of both.

Yesterday, I made a harvest dinner for my husband, a friend, and myself…Smitten Kitchen apple cake with apples from one of our old, happy, non-pruned trees; linguine with home-grown eggplant and pepper sauce, and salad with the last beef steak tomato of the season. It was delicious but in preparing all this, in-between playing roll-the-tire with the dogs and mopping our rental, I realized how far away my dream of blackberry farm is from reality.  I was raised in the suburbs, we had a cleaning lady, and I thought apples could be picked during any one of the warm months.  The little things I do here are really all I have the inclination and stamina to do.

I wish I had the stamina, or could win the lottery, to create this blackberry farm.  But I think if I did, I’d give the other 99 percent a chance to enjoy it once in awhile.  Maybe the occasional $99  night.  But then, the difference between the reality of country living. and the illusion, might shrink.

koi pond

koi pond
koi pond


A beginning waits
For someone to enter thru
This beautiful door!

Door at Elmira College


Born at the time of the pink petaled peonies…screaming into the world as the scent permeated the air…to be born amid the red poppies and bright white mock orange, it’s orange scented center a baptism into heaven’s creatures on earth. Its forest green leaves beckoning exploration into the mysterious woods of life.


faded flowers
faded flowers
Pic flowers
Flowers in chrome

Ice Noir


flowers for february


The central garden

central garden July 8 2010d 046

Often I’ll go outside and just place my hands on the soil, even if there’s no work to do on it. When I am filled with worries, I do that and I can feel the energy of the mountains and of the trees.”
― Andy Couturier, A Different Kind of Luxury: Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance

I have often thought about writing about the gardens we have here and so I may give it a whirl this winter.  After all, it may inspire me, when confined, to think about why we tolerate the confinement.  It is still fall and we are now in the middle of our second snowstorm.

The backstory on this garden:  when I first moved here, I said, “New husband, I need a garden of my own.”

“Ok, how about that one.”  He pointed to a row of flowers, three tiers of unorganized, tall flowers that abutted the clothesline.  The clothesline stretched from this area to the barn and faithfully, Barbara (see December 7 post) put her laundry up to dry several days a week.

I plotted my garden out and I bought lots of plants…as I recall, one season it looked really good, but then…reality hit. Reality being work:  the work I attended to every week, my job; the housework and grocery shopping on weekends; and the world of weeding.  It felt too big  and so, I believe eyeing its potential and my subsequent abandonment during a few summers, the new husband, who was not so new and had summers off, said:  “I know it is a lot, if you don’t mind, I can take it over.”

In came the variation of plants, the bench, a little pond, yellow tulips, and a Japanese Maple, not all at once, of course. This picture is pretty close to how it looks today: fourteen years later.  It is lovely.  I can’t begin to name all the plants. But for me, it is where I  learned how wonderful it is to dig in the dirt on a rainy misty day and see fushia colored flowers and my beloved peonies bloom.

Sadly, Barbara died shortly after this garden was finished.  The garden then looked more like a template of things to come. The last place I saw Barbara was on the bench pictured above.  She then went in to watch the US Open.  That night, a short two days before she died, she called a friend and expressed a tremendous sense of peace sitting with my husband and I that day.  

As if everyone she loved was right there with her.

This is the central garden and I will probably revisit it in these posts..

photograph & content:

quote under photograph from Goodreads