New Year’s Letter

Oh, 2016. We kept going. We kept it together, more or less.

Kana is in 10th grade, and enjoys math, science, and Latin. (Her parents approve!) Her real love, though, is horses. She has been riding at a nearby farm several times a week, and wants to adopt a horse of her own. We do have a horse barn on our property, which we use for chickens. We’ll see.

Kana and baby Sage

Kana and Woody

Kana and Clover

Sam continues to teach Latin, classical studies, and philosophy at Penn State Altoona, and to putter around our farm. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if his projects are progressing or not: I won’t tell you how many junk tractors he bought, “fixed,” broke, discarded, and/or sold in 2016. He also volunteers at the local raptor center.

Sam and a friend

I continue to teach French, women’s studies, and medieval studies at Penn State Altoona. I also continue to write fiction. I spent much of 2016 looking for an agent for my novel – not an easy task. Through a combination of persistence and luck, I eventually found the right agent, and my novel is now being submitted to publishers. If you want to know what it’s about, you can find out more on my author website: go to and click on The Lost Heirs of Perceforest.

The highlight of my year was the week I spent hiking in northern England with my sisters Anna and Maria.

Ilam Church, Ashbourne

With Anna in stormy Yorkshire

With Maria in the Peaks District

Kana and I also climbed Mt. Washington.

Kana on the way up Mt. Washington

We said goodbye to our beloved cat Miles in April. He was brave, kind, and interested in everything from puppies to plumbing.

Miles back in 2012, with new puppy Lizzie

Although we’ll never be able to replace Miles, we were still unwise enough to adopt a new kitten in June. Toshi loves playing with the dog’s tail, biting the humans’ hands, terrorizing the adult cats, and sitting in the sink waiting for someone to turn the water on.


The farm feels like a mess, but it produces things: veggies, peaches, honey, eggs. We have more potatoes and squash than we can eat, and we were still strip-mining carrots from the frozen ground in December. But some things never work: I can’t figure out how to grow artichokes, can’t keep weeds from strangling the asparagus or Japanese beetles from devouring the cherries, and didn’t find the time to make jam. All my bees died, as they do almost every year.

I don’t know yet how I’ll fight the darkness in 2017. I have no idea if I’ll manage to write another novel, or if the one I did write will be published. But I’m grateful to be doing the things I do, and living with the people I live with.

In 2017, may you find ways to be as brave as Carrie Fisher, as creative as David Bowie, and as steadfast as Muhammed Ali.

Kana and Lizzie


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