Digging in dirt makes me happy. It’s an integral part of growing up in Iowa. In frontier times, gardening was a means of survival, but today’s “farm-to-table” has come full-circle, underscoring the importance of our connection to the land and sustainable, small-scale local food production for our health and the health of our earth. I believe exposure to nature is an essential human need and medical and psychological research bears that out. In the beginning of my career as a staff writer for Better Homes & Gardens, I wrote “Betty’s Victory Garden” about a woman who survived a massive heart attack, then healed herself through gardening. As a freelancer, I wrote often for Garden Design, the gorgeous magazine of the American Society of Landscape Architects. As Editor-in-Chief of Celebrate! Midwest magazine, I edited our regular "Garden Gazette." One of my proudest editorial accomplishments was writing annual reports as the development director for the International Learning Center, Wisconsin’s largest refugee nonprofit, and its sister organization, Neighborhood House, serving inner-city children and families. We had an amazing Outdoor & Environmental Education program that exposed inner-city children and refugees to our nature center, organic gardening, outdoor programs, and environmental issues. Gardening and nature are themes in my novel, Blood to Rubies. In it, I portray the deep psychic connection that both Indians and pioneers had with the land in the western frontier.