Cover image for The exact same moon : fifty acres and a family
The exact same moon : fifty acres and a family
Laskas, Jeanne Marie, 1958-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Bantam Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
289 pages ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN4874.L258 A3 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In Fifty Acres and a Poodle, Jeanne Marie Laskas described how she survived her first hilariously tumultuous year at Sweetwater Farm. Now she returns with a funny, touching, and personal new memoir of what happens after your dream comes true... With a picture-postcard farm, a wonderful marriage, two mules, and a new refrigerator that spits crushed ice, what more can a girl ask for? That's precisely the question Jeanne Marie asks herself as she and Alex settle into their new life at Sweetwater Farm. Two years ago they left the city behind for a life filled with the practical, often comical, lessons of living close to the land--and they never looked back. Yet when her strong-willed mom is hospitalized with a sudden and mysterious paralysis, Jeanne Marie rushes home to Philadelphia and her extended, sometimes chaotic, but always loving family. It's there that she realizes what is still missing from her life: a family of her own. Now it's a matter of bringing up the subject to her husband, Alex, fifteen years older and with adult children of his own, who seems terrified that she's thinking of adopting a Chihuahua. With warmth, wisdom, and unfailing humor, Laskas tells the poignant story of her search for motherhood--and what happens when a woman risks happily-ever-after for something even more precious. As she tends to her own ailing mother, Jeanne Marie discovers that the challenges and rewards of living with Mother Nature pale in comparison to those awakened by the nature of mothering. The Exact Same Moon is filled with hilarious and heartwarming vignettes of people and a way of life you'll be glad you met. From "borrowing" sheep to help mow the lawn and sitting in on the racy hay jokes at the Agway Equine Clinic, to befriending the notorious old lady who holds the water rights to their future pond, corrupting the neighbors with satellite TV, and learning the fine art of going a-calling, Laskas proves once again that laughter, love, and wisdom are truly homegrown.

Author Notes

Jeanne Marie Laskas writes the "Significant Others" column for the "Washington Post Magazine," which reaches 1.5 million people weekly. A contributing editor to "Esquire," she also writes for "GQ," "Life," "Allure," "Redbook," "Good Housekeeping," "Health," "Reader's Digest," & "This Old House." She is the author of "The Balloon Lady & Other People I Know" & "We Remember: Women Born at the Turn of the Century Tell the Stories of Their Lives in Words & Pictures." She lives & farms with her husband, along with their poodle, mutts, mules, sheep, & other animals, at Sweetwater Farm in western Pennsylvania.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In this delightful sequel to Fifty Acres and a Poodle (2000), Laskas continues to chronicle her city-girl adjustment to country life. Now that she and her husband, three dogs, two horses, and two mules have been happily ensconced on Sweetwater Farm for two years, she senses something vital is still missing. When her mother becomes seriously ill, it awakens her own dormant maternal instincts. As she struggles to come to grips with a life-altering decision to expand her family--a quest that involves a failed attempt at in-vitro fertilization and an eye-opening trip to China to adopt a baby--she and Alex, her psychologist husband, come to affectionate terms with an often puzzling, yet increasingly rewarding, lifestyle. The assortment of eccentric new friends and neighbors who drop in and out at Sweetwater Farm adds vibrancy to this humorous account of one woman's quest for emotional and spiritual fulfillment in contemporary rural America. --Margaret Flanagan Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Fifty Acres and a Poodle, Laskas recounted her move to a tranquil Pennsylvania farm. Now that she and her husband have settled in, she artfully chronicles her daily routine caring for the farm animals, meeting neighbors and visiting her mother, who's very ill with Guillain-Barr? Syndrome (an inflammatory disorder resulting in paralysis). While Laskas lives an apparently idyllic life, her mother's sickness triggers her own desire to become a mother. She writes, "Ever since my mom got sick... I've been trying to figure out what to do with this hole in my heart, and for a while it was going away, but now it's just getting bigger...." Laskas, 39, unsuccessfully tries to repress her need to be a mom, and soon, she and her husband are involved in fertility testing and exploring adoption. Laskas details her search for motherhood with evocative writing. She discusses with equal aplomb both mundane matters, like learning about pasture management at an "Equine Clinic" and taking the dogs for a walk, and significant events like going to China to adopt a baby. Her descriptions are strong enough to make even readers unfamiliar with her situation feel moved, as when she writes, "A mother's love comes on like a thunderstorm. You may or may not hear the rumble as it approaches, you may or may not have time to close your windows and call in your cat. But when the storm comes, the storm is all there is. The sky opens and weeps and howls and devours." Agent, Andrew Blauner. (Nov. 4) Forecast: Laskas writes a column in the Washington Post Magazine, and her publisher plans ads in the Washington Post Book World. She should also get coverage in the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania media, which could help sales. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One Okay, you go in first," I say to Alex, the husband.   He looks at me. "I'm too shy," I say. He lowers his head, glares at me through eyes that say, "As if." Ahem. I remind him that I wet my pants nearly every day in kindergarten, so terrified was I of joining the new society of little kids. "Yeah, well, that was a long time ago," he says. "Yeah, well, no one would let me go down the sliding board," I say. I'm reaching up, trying to help tame his hair, which has suffered some severe style damage underneath the wool cap he just took off. "You have hat hair, honey," I say. "Oh?" "Just kind of all over the place." "Oh." He does some smoothing. "Well, I imagine this is a pretty forgiving crowd." We're at our local Ramada Inn, stalled here at the entrance to Conference Room A, where the third annual Equine Clinic, sponsored by Agway, our feed and seed store, is about to begin. We've never been to one of these seminars before. There must be three hundred people crammed into Conference Room A. That's more people than your mind might automatically conjure when you imagine a talk about "Pasture Management" and "Understanding Worms." I'm not sure I'm up for this. I was really in the mood for something low-key, like an intimate little poetry reading--except with horse talk, instead of poems. "I'm sort of missing Sears," I say to Alex. "You're missing Sears?" "In a way . . ." Sears is right down the road. We were just in there looking at refrigerators. And the thing is, I had an epiphany, right there in Sears. Yes, I suppose you could call it an epiphany. In my mind I am still trying to process what happened. Nothing really happened. Alex was busy flirting with Vicki, the sales associate, trying to get her to throw in some freebies with the Amana we were considering. And I was leaning on a Maytag. I was leaning back tapping the cold enamel surface, clickety clack, clickety clack, with my fingernails. And I got to thinking. I got to thinking how blank a mind can become in the home appliance department at Sears. Yup. Clickety clack. Clickety clack. And so naturally I got to wondering if there was anything at all rattling around in my big, loose brain. And all I could think of was this: I am happy. I am really happy. How could such a small thought seem so huge? And--who knew? Who knew you could find yourself feeling utterly satisfied, suddenly and infinitely at peace with every promise the love gods ever promised and broke and repromised and rebroke--that whole rocky journey to love, none of it mattered now, in that instant, in that burst of awareness that really should have been happening on a beautiful mountaintop, or at least on a tropical island, no, it was happening in the home appliance department of Sears. Is this it? That's what I wondered. Hey, this might be it. This right here might be happily-ever-after. It might be as simple as this. Clickety clack, clickety clack. The discovery settled a lot of doubt for me. Because, and as you probably know, there is considerable evidence to support the notion that happily-ever-after doesn't exist at all. Oh, plenty of people will tell you all about this. They'll tell you that just because you happened to go into your bride stage--as I did two years ago, when I married Alex--just because you went waltzing through that garden in your satin ball gown, surrounded by swirling perfume, surrounded by your family and your friends and even Christine, your devoted hairdresser standing there armed with extra bobby pins in case of hair droops, no, it doesn't portend anything. In fact, just because the love of your life was waiting there, in his tux, in that gazebo waiting to promise your same promise, just because that whole day went perfectly, just perfectly, right down to the clippity clop, clippity clop of the mule you got for your love as a wedding present--I got him a mule, but a small one--just because all that happiness actually happened, don't be thinking the happiness thing will necessarily stick. Happily-ever-after, it's sweet. Sweet in the way a flying saucer is sweet and sweet in the way an optical illusion is sweet. It's hope rising, then disappearing into the mist. This is the way anybody who ever tasted sour has learned to think. It isn't a bad way to think, but it really is only one way to think. Anyone can fall into the habit. Anyone can look at the bloom of a Shasta daisy and say, "Well, that's not going to last." Why get so far ahead of the story? Why not just: Be in the story? That's what I was thinking. I was thinking that the key to the whole thing is living in the moment, which is where happily-ever-after is, if only for the moment. The here-and-now. I was thinking: This is the answer to everything. So here I am now, at a Ramada Inn--I am standing here longing for the here-and-now of an hour ago at Sears. Which would be there-and-then. See, that's not good. Damn. This is not as easy as it sounds. Alex is still trying to mat down his poor hair. Quite a gymnastic feat, the way that hair keeps bouncing back. It's more salt than pepper these days. It looks good on him. I mean, when it's fixed right. Pushed back, full on the sides, curling up in the back. It's a look befitting his character as a psychologist with wisdom and distance. Plus, he got new glasses, kind of square, fashionably hip numbers that suggest sophistication. I don't think he looks a full fifteen years older than me. I really don't. I'm thirty-nine. In my mind I still look like a basketball player, right guard, with a blond ponytail swishing across the number 25 on my back, and smooth skin and calves that say "athlete." But I do have some evidence to suggest that I look different now. For one thing, it costs me eighty-eight dollars every few months to keep this hair this blond, and now it's all layered and short, a cut designed to lift that face, yes, to draw attention to that youthful arch of those youthful eyebrows. But I don't mind getting old. There are plenty of things about youth that I'm glad to be done with. "You know, I just have one comment about your whole kindergarten problem," Alex is saying to me. (Speaking of which.) We're still outside Conference Room A. I don't know why he won't go in first. Sometimes we get into these little stand-offs, which are based on nothing more than a mutually stubborn urge to win. "Did it ever occur to you that your pants-wetting thing had nothing to do with shyness," he says, "that it was just about manipulating your poor mother?" Inhale. Exhale. See, this right here is the problem with being married to a shrink. Number one, you get sidetracked a lot. And number two, for some reason he's always defending your mother. "What, because she had to drive up and bring me dry underwear all the time?" "Exactly. You had her at your command." Inhale. Exhale. "Honey, it was about survival," I tell him. "It was about needing someone to rescue me from that awful, miserable place where, first of all, the teacher smelled like mothballs, and second of all, the one time I finally got the nerve to go into the bathroom, Judy Hampton tricked me into going into the boys' room and all the kids were waiting outside laughing." Inhale. Exhale. Why are we even talking about this? "Sorry," he says. "Well, I'll remind you that my mom started sending me to school with dry underwear in my lunchbox--so that sort of blows your theory." "You know what, I'm sorry I brought this up," he says, adding: "Did I bring this up?" Inhale. Exhale. "What in the name of potty training do you suppose she was thinking? I mean--my lunchbox?" Inhale, exhale, inhale. "You know what, let's just drop it," Alex says. And then he turns to go in first, which you have to admit is a gesture of something. Conference Room A is packed, steamy. Whew, lots of body heat in here. White and green Agway balloons float optimistically above people tucked nice and tight at long tables set with Agway mugs and pencils and notepads. The walls are done up science-fair style, with display after display intending to educate on such matters as hay and sweet feed and mineral supplements and horse hair conditioners. Alex and I don't know a soul, as expected. The truth is, we've come to Equine Clinic only incidentally to learn about pasture management and worms. We're here to participate in something, to become a part of something. This has become a sort of new campaign for us. We have been cooped up together for two happily-ever-after years. Recently we noted that we were beginning to finish each other's sentences. Pretty soon we may start speaking our own language, like kids raised by wolves. Cooped up together is a hazard of any happily-ever-after, I suppose, but people whose happily-ever-after happens to be set in the country, in the middle of nowhere, well, we are especially at risk. Two years. It's been two years since we left Pittsburgh, the familiar land of taxis and traffic lights and espresso bars and steam vents, to come to these gentle hills, about forty miles south. Hills dotted with sheep, hills that seem to roll toward Heaven itself. It was a countryside that beckoned us unexpectedly. It was a countryside that shouted: "This is it! This is your dream come true! This is the setting where your own personal happily-ever-after will take place!" Of course, this is the sort of stuff you are apt to hear when you are in a certain stage of life. When we stumbled into this area, we were just getting on with the business of being in love, we were getting married, and so of course we were getting all swept up by the adventure, by the thrill of the gamble. Some- how, when the dust from all that sweeping finally settled, we found ourselves the proud and uneasy owners of a fifty-acre farm in Scenery Hill, Pennsylvania. Excerpted from The Exact Same Moon: Fifty Acres and a Family by Jeanne Marie Laskas All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.