the collage of life: kindness of friends old and new

DOES THAT IMAGE ABOVE LOOK FAMILIAR? It was the latest gift that blogging friends have been showering me with as I approach the Wednesday publication date of my new book, “And I Shall Have Some Peace There.” In thousands of infinitesimal bits of recycled paper and fabric and who knows what, the collage depicts my little world here in astonishing detail, thanks to artist Mel Kolstad. It was commissioned by the inspirational Pam Kueber of Retro Renovation–both of them corporate dropouts like I am, by the way. The collage backstory, and more sweet offerings.

The actual collage is just slightly more than twice the size above…but even the tiny espaliered pear on the back of the house includes more than 50 pieces of ephemera, each barely bigger than a pin head. Amazing. Pam, a leading expert in what she calls “mid-century modest” (whose motto is to “love the house you’re in,” whatever its vintage) tells the tale of the collage, and our friendship, in this story on her site (which includes a chance to win my book).

Pam calls Mel the Retro Renovation “collage artist laureate,” for her regular contributions. On Mel’s Ephemeraology blog you can learn more about her amazing process and the kinds of ephemera she uses as her source material, or browse her Flickr site (which is where Pam and Mel met). Thank you both.

A Soup With My Name on It

I HAD A DELICIOUS BOWL OF SOUP—roasted tomato, to be precise—dedicated to me Friday by Jaden Hair (aka Steamy Kitchen), one of the co-founders of our annual cross-blog recipe swap called summer fest that you may have participated in the last three years. If you don’t know Jaden, this soup alone is reason to go say hello. She also shares her own “finding peace” story in the process. Sweet.

A Toast to My Parsley Pesto

THROUGH JADEN, ABOUT THREE YEARS AGO, I met Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple, whose blog always makes me feel as if I have been transported to a place of great serenity. These talented foodies and photographers remembered how much I love parsley, and served up a bowl of soba with parsley pesto in my honor (with a book giveaway for dessert—a chance to win a copy of “Peace”). Guess what I’m defrosting to have for lunch today? Go dig in to the recipe, and giveaway.

FYI: I’m No Introvert

ILOVE DOING Q and A INTERVIEWS—you never know what someone will ask. The questions Marilyn Bethany posed for the site called Rural Intelligence that she runs with Dan Shaw—kind of an online magazine about all the best of the amazing Connecticut-Massachusetts-New York tristate area we three live in—were unexpected. She got me thinking, and talking, about the nature of solitude, about where I find my professional community and “water cooler talk” today…and about how many times I dropped out of college. Egads. Read all about it.

Coming Up: Martha Show on Friday!

MY OLD FRIEND MARTHA, who did a very kind blurb for the back cover of my book, has invited me to come be on her television program on Friday the 25th. This full-circle experience of being welcomed “home” has been very sweet for me. More on that later in the week…

Categoriesmy memoir
  1. Johanna says:

    Finished your book over the weekend and felt a strong kinship with your experience, and your musical preferences! Anyone who has dropped out, or is thinking about it (and face it, isn’t that everyone?) will really enjoy it!

    Congratulations, Margaret!

  2. just jody says:

    I, too, read your book over the weekend…..I’ve come to the conclusion that we are twin sisters from different mothers…….LOVED the book….working up my courage to “drop out”……the collage is wonderful…….. Namaste…….

  3. I dropped out of a world that was driving me totally insane, finding me always with teeth clenched, ever increasing chest pains, and lack of patience with those I love.

    The peace I’ve found is wonderful. I’m looking forward to reading your book.

  4. Joan says:

    Where is Martha’s show these days? I want to watch.

    And by the way, I’m almost half way through your book. In fact, I seem to have pre-ordered two, so one is on its way to a friend. Tell me, did you have bluebirds this winter? And do you truly love your Stokes binoculars. I’m in need and seriously considering on your recommendation.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Just Jody, my separated at birth sister. :)

      Welcome also to Cherished Hearts; I hope you love the book, and congrats on finding your little piece of peace.

      Welcome, Joan. She’s on the Hallmark Channel (cable) at 10 AM EST, or you can stream from your computer once it’s live on her site. Details from here. No bluebirds visited with me this winter, sadly; yes, I love my Stokes (but I have not tried every brand, of course — I called and asked the online place for advice, and they talked me through the choices/prices.

  5. terryk says:

    Boy Margaret you are becoming such the star of the Hudson Valley. I’m going to read your interview on Rural Intelligence while I wait for the post office to re-open and finaly get my hands on your book.

  6. Delores says:

    Hi Margaret, I finished your book yesterday. It was a very satisfying read. I resonated with many of your thoughts and some of your experiences; and respect you for digging deep and letting us see what is there. You are a gardener of the soul as well. I feel you will find great success with your book. Looking forward to seeing you on Martha.

  7. Joan says:

    Thanks, Margaret. I’ve read reviews, etc. on the binoculars, and ordered them. They sound like what I’m looking for.I’m due to do some Sandhill Crane watching in a few weeks.
    And I’ll be watching on Friday.
    Just sent you an article on fox watching someone clued me into.

  8. Joan says:

    Forget the article. Don’t know where I was when I sent that, but I don’t have the ability to send you an article. If foxes interest you, check out Slate. That’s where the article is.
    I’m becoming a pest. Think I’ll leave you alone.

  9. I finished your book this weekend and was struck by several things: you are the only other person (let alone woman) I know who has had her lung collapse for no apparent reason…. it’s terrifying even though I am a doctor. I now live in the country and, though I must still travel to care for patients, garden every spare hour not spent working or reading gardening/horticulture/botany books AND ….. those on fungi.

    In the old days of the music we love and which you mention in Some Peace There, I got a degree in mycology and have loved all fungi since….. so many similarities. We are all human, I guess, and–in the end– as alike as your little frogs.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Julie. I do love when we find … what can I call it? … sort of archetypes among ourselves, other souls with obscure but meaningful (to both of us) interests/quirks/histories. Fascinating. I suppose it’s just statistical, but it seems more compelling than that. :) Hope to see you again soon. And thank you!

  10. Jayne says:

    I am very excited that you have included New Canaan on your list of stops to introduce your wonderful book! I look to your blog as weekly garden nourishment! …. told Kathleen you were making appearances when I saw the schedule on your blog – so glad you could fit us in!!!!!

  11. ann says:

    This wonderful collage reminds me of the one our Mother made of her own rock house many years ago. Will be glad to watch you on the Hallmark show. Martha has inspired many and she must be getting ready to drop out, too. Makes me realize that unplanned events are shaping our lives daily. Congratulations on the success of your new book. You have showed me much.

  12. Rene' says:

    I just finished the last page of your book this morning (at 2 am to be exact). Thank you for sharing. I could feel the serenity lift off the pages as I neared the end of your book, approaching your third winter. I do hope that you make it down to Maryland for “an event”. Brookside Gardens would be lovely and I’m sure would welcome you. All my best.

  13. woods diva says:

    Read the whole book on Sunday with the snow blowing thru the trees…couldn’t put it down. You’ve created a magic that so many people will relate to, and wish that they too can live the good life interpreting the nature that surrounds them as you have, and being so metaphorical about nature and life experiences. Looking forward to the book signing at Tower Hill and hearing more about the snakes in your life! It really is a journey to be enjoyed from moment to moment. Best wishes on your new career…

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Rene; Maryland is a good idea. I need to go that way sometime and visit Philadelphia, DC, etc. On the to do list.

      Welcome, Woods Diva, and glad to hear you will be at TH event. (Me, too, tee hee.)

      So nice of you both to say you enjoyed the book. I loved writing it. Thank you, thank you.

  14. Elke says:


    Your “PEACE” just arrived, I will look forward to snuggling down and devouring the book.

    I LOVE THE COLLAGE!!!!! I hope you and the artist will consider using it for the COVER ART when Peace comes out in paperback!!

    Although I have a terrace rather than a garden it is always a thrill to get your news….I savor the variety of the topics you share with us. The result is a high that keeps me singing for some hours. Thank you and best wishes for your tour : )

  15. Judith Flynn says:

    Hello Margaret,

    WOW, Great going!
    As I turned to page 6 of today’s New York Times Art section, there it was – “Did you ever just want to walk away” – the ad for “and I shall have some peace there”……
    Soooooo exciting!

    Your book is going to be my first download to my Nook! Will see you on tour!


  16. Pat says:

    I was also excited to see the add for your book in the Arts section of the NY Times this morning, Margaret! I will be buying it this weekend at the airport as i have a long flight and want a good book to disappear into while I’m flying. I know reading it will take me on a wonderful journey.

    Good luck on Martha’s show!

  17. Anastasia says:

    What will you wear this time on Martha? May I suggest something fully in character from your book…pajamas. No really, giving a good reading is all about selling the character. Go full on drop-out.

    But no matter what you don, I’m sure you’ll be fantastic.

  18. Angie says:

    So enjoyed seeing you on Martha! Our family (me, hubby, 2 girls and 3 cats) are doing what you did and moving to the country THIS MONTH! Our parents think we are insane, but my soul tells me it’s the best thing we’ll ever do. I need solitude and enjoy writing, gardening, and composing music…..none of which can be done in the “noise” of modern living. I am THRILLED to have found some like-minds at just this time (one friend calls them “divine appointments”!) Can’t wait to get a copy of your book.

    1. Margaret says:

      Thanks, Angie. Solitude is so underrated. We all need some! Happy to have “met” you thanks to our friend Martha, and hope to see you soon again.

  19. Alison Weinberg says:

    I am a weekender in
    Cupcake Falls as you call it. Picked up my mail this
    A.M. and was happy to see you featured in More Magazine. Can’t decide if I should buy a hard copy or use my nook but I can hardly wait to read your book. I hope to live up here full time by 2012-2013.

  20. Kevbo says:

    Margaret, when I saw on Dorie Greenspan’s facebook that this book was out, and another friend chimed in, I ran, no, stomped to get my iPad and download it to my Kindle software. I’ve followed you for years, watched your title on the hierarchy page change like a bus destination sign, listened to you on homegrown, followed the blogs, and when I heard you had left Martha Stewart dot com, I gasped, but then though “there’s a symmetry to that.” It’s been a dreary overcast weekend in Texas, and I am making my way through the book. I just want to say I love it, and I admire and respect you so much for your courageous decision, even though it’s scary as hell. I am teetering on something similar. I love that you are bone-honest with your fears. I don’t live on a iron mountain, but I am also petrified of lightning. My dining room table is covered in seed packets and catalogs as I type this. LOVE the book.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Kevbo. I’m so happy that Dorie pushed you to Kindle me. :) Also so glad you are enjoying the book; yippee! Go tell the readers on Amazon (before one more person writes another nasty “review” — oy what a system! feeling vulnerable to say the least). I have to rally the readers here who are finishing the book to go post reviews there. Another of my part-time job, tee hee: review instigator! :) See you soon again, I hope.

  21. Kevbo says:

    Well, it’s been over two days and amazon has not published my review. And I know why. I forgot where I was and I used an expletive you use all throughout the book. I said I laughed my head off over Fox _ _ _ _. and Coyote Urine. I mean, REALLY? I will wait another day and rewrite it sans Fox _ _ _ _ !!!! Puritans.

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