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By Julie Moir Messervy

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love getting together with family, eating a great meal, and taking time to give thanks for the bounties we’ve been given.

It’s also a good time to appreciate the people in one’s life by celebrating who they are and what they do. In my case, I want to give thanks for all the talented and wonderful women of JMMDS—Anna, Bethany, Erica, Jana, and Jennifer, and for Val in particular.

Julie and Val. Photo: JMMDS.

Val Khislavsky has been our Marketing and Special Projects Manager for the past 18 months. She’s leaving JMMDS to travel to Argentina for an extended stay. All you blog readers know Val by her deftly written and illustrated posts on all manner of subjects, from her trip to Machu Picchu to Deer Fly patches, to her post last week on Steve Silk’s Connecticut paradise.

L: Val at work in the JMMDS offices. Photo: JMMDS. C: The fairy house Val designed for the 2010 Fairy House Tour at The Nature Museum in Grafton, Vermont. Photo: JMMDS. R: Val and her Evening Time Truffles. Photo: Eric Gustafson.

What you probably don’t know is just how much Val does behind the scenes. She single-handedly wrote all our e-newsletters, managed social media and website updates, supported our design work, and took on special projects like our new Home Outside Design service; all the while handling interview requests, organizing my lectures, dealing with book orders, and taking care of the myriad administrative details of a busy office and studio. Outside of work, she’s a gifted gardener, snow-boarder, soccer player, and chocolate truffle-maker, to name only a few of her many pursuits. We haven’t lost her completely: she promises to post reports from Argentina periodically on our blog.

We’re excited to introduce Jennifer Silver (, a fine gardener and a writer and editor who will be taking over for Val. You may already know her from her recent post on mulching versus weeding. We are thrilled that she is joining us and feel confident that she can fill Val’s size 6 shoes!

Steve and I composed a multi-stanza limerick for Val, which I’ll post here, against my better judgment…!

A Limerick for Val
By Julie and Steve

There was a young woman named Val,
Who into our midst she did fall.
So smart and so sweet,
The best person you’ll meet.
She’s a pro, but also a pal.

Now this Val, she hails from the Ukraine;
To the States, her family and she came.
It wasn’t so easy,
But Val isn’t lazy—
Even Brown’s academics seemed so tame.

After school she came north to our Putney,
A village that only reads Utne,
An alternative place,
Where no one needs Mace,
But where vegetables end up in chutney.

It’s clear that she doesn’t like winter.
What the hell does she live in Vermont fer?
She does like to ski,
A snowboarder be,
The cold weather, she’s just not meant fer.

At the office, she always makes lists—
List after list after list!
She’s an organized creature,
Perhaps her best feature…?
No! It’s just one of the things that we’ll miss.

Another’s that Val’s never moody,
And you’ll notice she’s kind of a beauty.
She never gets ruffled,
(Except by a truffle)
She can eat round the clock–what a foodie!

Now Steve, he sure likes to tease her.
And Julie, she just tries to please her.
But who’ll eat the chocolates
Steve brings to the office?
For sure, we’ll all terribly miss her.

So don’t cry for us, Argentina!
Though we know that you’re getting a winner.
She’ll be back, we know,
Cause she’ll miss us so.
Then we’ll all have another big dinner!!!

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Carol Wood says:

    Stanza after stanza of genius! Oh, the slant rhymes! Oh, the wit! Oh, the unexpected delights of “Putney / Utne /chutney.” I know you’re going to miss her, and I’m going to miss seeing her lovely face when I drop in the office. Safe journey, Val! Welcome, Jennifer! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  • Ann Carton says:

    Val Thank you for the complement of writing up so sympathetically the information i sent you this past year about my own garden and Its indebtedness to Julie who came out to the Chicago Botanic Garden and introduced me to the concept of the significance of archetypes found in gardens–incidentally as well as deliberately conceived. I wish we had met but Argentina is awfully far away for an 81 year old!. Most all my traveling has been in Europe attracted by European civilization, culture, languages skiing biking and the landscapes and I’ve barely skimmed the surface. Well now I’m a homebody content with walking daily the same paths, the Lake Michigan beach a mile or less away and taking the train into the city for urban pursuits and friendships. The newspapers make clear the enormous and awesome crisis–fault lines in our society and the world and a guess is Argentina– as far away from Vermont as the Ukraine is from Alaska or Vermont with fault lines to be found and come to terms with everywhere, I hope you’ll have time to write a blog about what you are doing and send it to Jennifer so she can share your thoughts with so many of us who wish you Godspeed and a happy journey. Best wishes Ann Carton

  • alla yanovsky tilton says:

    Dear Julie,Steve,Anna,Jennifer,Jana,Erica and your husbands/significant others and cute kids for the great send-off party and for your kind words about my adventurous daughter…I fell like a part of wonderful JMMDS family…Happy Holidays! I’ll be in touch…Love you all, Alla

  • Hollis Mwlron says:

    Dear Val,

    Have a wonderful journey to Argentina! I don’t know you well, but I always enjoyed your input at the Master Gardener meetings and this website is very wonderful. Thank you and good luck on your journey. Many blessings, Hollis

  • What a nice tribute to your friend. Loved the limerick. Hope you had the best of holiday cheer. Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Jana says:

    Val, have a safe and adventurous journey!!
    and we are thankful now Jennifer “into our midst did fall”… it is wonderful to feel part of the JMMDS team – now matter how far apart around the world we might be.
    (Take care Val!)

  • Mary Landon says:

    Val, happy roads to you. I know you’ll find many wonderful adventures in life. It was a pleasure to know you and work with you! You have a special spark. Keep in touch. Missing you!

  • Val says:

    Hi All,

    Thank you so much for your kind comments! My time with JMMDS was full of learning and growth, and I feel grateful to have had the privilege to both work with and befriend our amazing team! I will miss you!

    I’ve now arrived in Buenos Aires and am enjoying the culture, getting to know new people, picking up whatever bits of Spanish I can, and (sorry, Vermonters!) not dealing with winter. It’s exciting to be at the beginning of a new adventure!