March 21, 2023

And in the Real World Season 2014 Episode 2 with Debbie

Growing up, I remember gardens. My grandfather had a whole field of peas and corn while my mom had a small tomato garden in our backyard. Every year, we would shuck peas for hours, just me and my mom, while chatting about even the smallest of things in life. We would walk into our own garden (fenced in to keep our dogs out) and watch the tomatoes grow and then Mom would have fresh tomato sandwiches to eat (I shunned those as the only tomato I liked back then was found in ketchup!). Somehow, with time and the modern day conveniences, we lost the desire to garden. Recently, however, I decided to give it a try. I’ve been more than pleasantly surprised by the results!

Watching a garden grow is fascinating to me but even more so now that I’m trying to eat healthy and natural (I blame my gall bladder for that fun transition). I tried two separate methods- I bought a couple of small plants to transplant and I also purchased seeds that I have lovingly coaxed into sprouting. It’s a daily activity as Florida is full of bugs and some are nasty little critters that like to munch on my blooming plants.  Me- the girl who screams, “PAUL!! HUGE SPIDER!” is now suddenly plucking the wicked looking hornworm caterpillar off of my delicate cucumbers and mercilessly drowning them in soapy water.  This is the same girl who just a month ago didn’t even know such a creature existed, never mind that the non-pesticide way to kill it was by drowning it in soapy water.

Gardening has been fun but it has also brought me back to reading a genre I had lost track of in all my urban fantasy novels. I’ve started both rereading and exploring new cozy mysteries as there are some great ones where gardening is featured- Edith Maxwell being a new favorite but who can’t help but love the herbal mysteries of Susan Albert Wittig? Books and hobbies so often go hand in hand… what books have you been drawn to because of your hobbies?

And in the Real World Season 2014 Episode 1 with Debbie

Here at Kwips we have a feature called And in the Real World where we can post about our non-book life. In honor of June being Mental Health Awareness month, I’m jumping in for the first time with a weighty topic- grief.

Graduation is a joyous time, filled with hope for the future. However, for those who have lost a loved one who never reached that stage in life, it can also be a very painful time. I recently had the bittersweet experience of attending two graduations- and both were connected to the loss of my nephew.

Many of you may not know but I took an abrupt hiatus from reviewing.  Grief didn’t allow me to focus on even reading, never mind actually writing about the books I couldn’t seem to focus on. You see, grief overwhelms… and the loss of one of my nephews was overwhelming.  He had been like a son to me-and one night, in the blink of an eye, he was gone.

June is Mental Health Awareness Month and part of awareness is recognizing what you or someone you know who is grieving may experience. Don’t try to put a timetable on their grief. The absolute worst comment someone made to me was that I was grieving beyond societal norms- and this was barely past the first year after my nephew’s death. Perhaps society does put a timetable on grief but the human heart does not. Be aware that grief is a process and triggers can reignite the pain even years afterwards. Seeking professional help may be necessary but first make sure you understand that some things about grief are typical.  The American Hospice Foundation offers some great information for anyone who has either personally experienced a loss or knows someone who has.

One of the things that helped me in the immediate aftermath of his death was just remembering the basics- eating, sleeping, and my faith. It’s amazing how something like death will suck away your appetite or even make you forget about one of the basics of life. However, as time passes, the basics of life return back to normal but the hurt still remains. For me, maintaining some semblance of structure was important as I returned to work, continued to do things like grocery shopping, and yes, in time the joy of things like reading returned to my life.

So back to graduation… as I watched both the former girlfriend of my deceased nephew as well as another nephew (who is the brother of my deceased nephew) graduate, I cried- tears of joy and of sadness. No, my deceased nephew will never walk across that stage and hold that diploma so proudly. But I also could see that hope does still exist, as I watched two young people who have survived an unthinkable tragedy and they still walked across that stage and held their diplomas to announce to the world that they did it.

A few helpful articles can be found at: