Diane Zeigler at Palmer Street Coffeehouse

PLATTSBURGH -- Vermonter Diane Zeigler crosses Lake Champlain for her Plattsburgh debut at the Palmer Street Coffeehouse Friday.

Zeigler, the winner of six national song-writing awards, is one of the most sought-after singer-songwriters in New England -- but not without having paid a price.

"I annihilated my career by having children," said Zeigler, who lives in Montpelier. "Now, I can leave without the intense guilt I would feel when they were babies. I have been dipping my toe in the waters of touring within the last year or two. The water is getting deeper. As with every professional woman who has kids, it's a matter of juggling."

Nell, 9, and Jaimen, 7, have no interest in their mother's concerts. If they do accompany Zeigler and her husband/bassist/co-producer Geoff Sather, they watch Harry Potter DVDs in the green room on her laptop.

When she had her children, Zeigler abandoned her music career and devoted herself to her daughter and son. Slowly, her career is re-emerging from the groundwork she laid 20 years ago.

Supportive friends in Montpelier allow Zeigler and Sather to leave their children and travel near or to Alaska.

"What I'm doing in the folk business is what I'm doing in my community. Folk music stays alive because the folks at the coffeehouse work together to create an opportunity for people who fly under the radar. I'm grateful for that. I couldn't do that if I didn't have a great community in my hometown to allow me to do that. It takes a village."

Zeigler is about to go to work on her fifth album, scheduled for a summer release, in her home recording studio.

"I do all the tracking at home. I mix in a professional studio, Sound Design in Brattleboro."

Though it's easier to record at home instead of transporting two babies and schlepping back and forth to a studio, it's not without its risks, despite her technological aptitude and weird obsessiveness in terms of learning software.

"I have gray hair now. I cannot count the number of times my husband laid down the perfect guitar part, and I would delete it. We survived it and stayed married. Now, I know what I'm doing. When we recorded December in Vermont' (2004), it was absolutely easy for me to do from a technological viewpoint. I'm not anxious at all."

Whether she performs solo or with her husband and Adam Frehm (dobro and lap steel), Zeigler writes about what she knows; her experiences as a woman, wife, mother, sister, daughter and Vermonter.

"I was raised Catholic and have a lot of mixed feelings about that experience. I have a song that even my parents love, Heaven's Only Daughter.' It's about Mary, the blessed virgin. It's about her and her unhonored recognized role as being Jesus' mother in guiding this boy into being a good man and leader."

Another song is inspired by her son's Little League trials and tribulations and about how hard it is to be a little boy.

"I find my songs have matured as I have. The subject matter I'm exploring in my song writing is from my own experience but not so personal that other people can't relate to it. I'm a middle-aged suburban mom writing about her personal experience -- hopefully in an artistic and universal way."