Friday, December 30, 2011

The Chronicles of Samuel

This youngster emerged from a See*Photo*Write photo of a church door.  The character of Samuel grew from that photo prompt.  So I am re-posting a few of his adventures.  Who knows where Samuel will go or what he will do next?

Samuel and the Church Door 

Samuel vs. Ginger

Samuel and Nana

Samuel and Santa

More will come later.  Happy New Year to each of you!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Small Stones: To My Friend Anthony

He was a good man
A strong man
A Godly man with a voice
That could break
Through the church walls,
When he sang, “Holy!  Holy!”

He was a good father
Who loved
His boys and his wife,
But he loved
Most of all.

Last week
He was folded into
The arms of Christ
And was led to God’s throne
Where he will sing
And break through the golden walls
Of heaven.
Holy!  Holy! Holy!

To my friend Anthony

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Samuel and Christmas Eve

The Mommy gave a green crayon and some paper to Samuel after strapping him into the high chair.  “Write a letter to Santa!  We’ll put it with the cookies and milk tonight!”  Samuel gazed at the paper dismally before grasping the crayon in little boy stickiness.

He formed his thoughts and began to write. Dear Fat Man in the Red Suit,  I concede to your knowledge and wish to inform you that I do not regret a single thing.  Well, the cat and scissors episode was a mistake on my part….

Samuel beheld the paper which was now partially covered in scribbles, not in the clear words from his head.   Dammit, green stick!  Obey, or feel my wrath!  But to his dismay, his hand continued to make the same scrawl. Oh, well. 

He continued, …but The Cat is doing well, and we have made our peace.  Please accept this humble milk and cookies as an offering of friendship.  Sincerely, Samuel

The word “sincerely” stuck in his throat, but a little lying was fine at Christmas, as he had observed adults greeting each other with feigned delight.  Then Samuel smashed the green crayon into pieces on his tray.  You were warned.

That Christmas Eve night, The Mommy let Samuel carry the plate of cookies to the coffee table.  Both parents beamed with pride at his carefulness.  The Daddy put the glass of milk down beside the cookies, while The Mommy gave Samuel the letter to place with the cookies.

While The Parents laughed and hugged, Samuel turned his back to them, and prepared to place the letter atop the cookies.  Before this was done, Samuel dug deep into his nose, and removed a booger.  I have been saving this all day, just for you, Santa!

He smeared the booger onto a raisin on a cookie at the edge closest to the fireplace.  Eat this, Fat Man!

May the Peace of Christmas be with you....
During the Christmas season, I will be re-posting "The Chronicles of Samuel".  Responding to comments will be difficult; we are expecting 21 family members throughout the next week.   Pray for us all.  God bless you, each and every one, with the joy of God's gift to us, Jesus Christ.

This is a card I would send...
This one would please Samuel....

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Samuel: The Plan

courtesy of

Samuel gazed out at the falling snow. It blurred the strings of bright Christmas lights along the street, an eerie but pleasing sight.

Samuel felt this blurry sensation in his being. Since seeing Santa, the man who knows everything, Samuel doubted himself. That was scary.

“Time for sleepin’, buddy!” The Daddy scooped up a compliant Samuel. Surprised at the lack of fight, The Daddy lay Samuel in the crib and then locked down the ‘tent’. “Daddy’s gonna catch some ZZZZs too.” 

He left quietly, leaving the door cracked just a bit.  Soon the ZZZZs were flying; The Daddy was out cold.

Samuel had figured out the ‘tent’ and its locking mechanism just the other day. Such a simple thing really—simple enough that adults would not notice it.

Slipping the hook up and over, Samuel silently raised the ‘tent’, and ninja-d himself over the railing. He swung down onto the carpet, and made his way to the living room where the snores were raising the roof.

He headed into the kitchen where Ginger-the-fat-tabby reclined in the travel carrier, after her encounter with the angel on the tree. They eyed each other in mutual respect. A truce had been called after the scissor incident. Later, cat. I must think some more.

Samuel continued his exploration. Next to the living room he entered the guest room where Grammy was staying. All was normal, except for her elaborate knitting bag. It was enclosed, except for four holes through which yarn could be pulled.

Peering into the interior, Samuel perceived there were four large balls of yarn. Large balls nicely wound with single strands of yarn through the holes: This had possibilities.

Pulling out one strand and then another, Samuel noted how easy this would be.  Grabbing the other strands, Samuel left the room.  Streams of red metallic, sparkling silver, shimmering gold, and forest green followed him obediently.

He walked around the house, crawling under the tables and over the chairs.  Some strands were dropped, but would be continued later around furniture legs and even the Christmas tree stand.  Quietly and methodically Samuel wove rooms together in bright Christmas cheer.  Forget the lipstick.  THIS is so much better.

All was complete.  The house was strung and tied up, a grand present just waiting to be opened.

Samuel went to the carrier where Ginger had been watching.  Cry havoc! Samuel opened the hook lock.  And release the cat of carnage!

He returned to his room, and closed the door.  He had barely climbed into the crib and locked the tent when he heard the earliest sounds.  Tucking his thumb in his mouth and pulling up his blankie, Samuel smiled sleepily.  So little time, so much that could have been done.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The A to Z 2012 Challenge

I blew it.

Yes.  The calendar said that Saturday, December 17, would be the day when my reflection post would be up on, but I blew it.

So, if you checked my blog yesterday and found my bold claims about my reflections post, I was wrong.

Today, please go to that site and see my reflections on that amazing A to Z Challenge, April 2011!


I feel so inept.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Today is December 16th! 

My Reflection of the A-Z 2011 Challenge is being posted on the following site  A-to-Z Challenge 2012
(Click on the purple letters!)

I encourage you to go there to see my thoughts and feelings about that tremendous Challenge.  It forced me to grow as a writer, think outside my comfort zone, and meet new people.

Many thanks for Arlee Bird and his dedicated team for creating this new site!

Go!  There!  Now!  Susan

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Remembering Danny Kaye

I am re-posting my "K" from the 2011 A-Z Challenge.  Why?  Why not?

As a child, the first color TV I had ever seen was at a friend of my father's, Ed House.  He and his wife had no children.  A few days before Christmas, our parents would take us to the Five-and-Dime store (Ben Franklin's) and give us each $5!! We each headed off to shop for our family of seven and grandparents.

Afterwards, we stopped by Ed's house where the adults sat in the kitchen drinking coffee.  We were parked in front of the color TV!  That first year I was amazed and delighted by "White Christmas" in color.  In color!

So I post this tribute to Danny Kaye, and his comrades, who made this memory possible.

K is for…Danny Kaye
Danny Kaye was an amazing actor, dancer, singer, comedian, and a self-less humanitarian.  Born in the 1913 of immigrant Jewish parents, Danny Kaye was a truly self-made man, who happened on entertainment as a career, purely by accident, and of necessity.  That said, learned from Wikipedia, I have to say that Danny Kaye was someone who influenced my life.

I was all of ten years old when I saw “White Christmas” in color at a friend’s house.  Danny Kaye was supposed to be the comic relief to the somber Bing Crosby, but in my view.  Danny Kaye took off with his part and dominated the screen.  At my young age, I didn’t see the sizzling desire between Bing and Rosemary Clooney.  What I saw?  Danny Kaye, with his rubbery face, funny voices, danced without the demands of gravity.  Danny Kaye made me laugh.

Year later, I saw much more of Danny Kaye in different movies.  He was Hans Christian Anderson in one film, then he was a court jester in another.  He had a successful television variety show, which always began with one of his famous tongue twisters:

“git gat gittle-giddle-di-ap, giddle-de-tommy, riddle de biddle-de-roop, da-reep, fa-san, skeedle-de woo-da, fiddle de wada, reep”

Danny Kaye was so versatile as a performer, and even more so in his personal life.  He was involved and interested in learning.  He was an accomplished pilot, an internationally recognized Chinese chef, a regular USO performer, an ambassador for UNICEF, and even an honorary member of the American Medical Board of Surgeons.

The thing I will always remember about Danny Kaye is that at the end of each TV episode, Danny would dance freely around a white sound stage, with each step displaying his joy in life.  He died at the age of 71 following complications of heart surgery and heart attack.  

This post is part of the tribute to the A-Z 2011 Challenge.  My own reflection will be posted on Dec. 16, 2011.  Please be a part of this reflection time, as we gear up for the next Challenge!

A-Z Challenge 2012

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hunting for Humor

I am hunting for humor.  I have been searching for it for some time.  This time of year is so hard for many people, and I am no exception.

It confuses me somewhat, as this is a joyful time of year. 

Christmas—joyful.  Songs—irritatingly upbeat.  Decorations—bad taste at any other time of the year, but not now.  Demands on time—give, give, give but finding joy in the giving.

Church—cantatas that celebrate Christ’s birth and our salvation; that’s good. 
Holiday foods—another good thing. 
Cute and happy children—a real plus.

So what is my problem?

Basically, I have a dark side that I fight against. 
It is depression, something that has plagued me for much of my adult life.  It didn’t have a name until people I loved started dying. Finally the dark cloud that would come over me had a title and a treatment.

This time of year brings the memories of those who have died, who are celebrating Christmas in Heaven, to the front of my brain.  While I keep plodding along with Christmas joy, my humor is hiding somewhere.

Maybe it is in the sock drawer.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas in the Sock Drawer

It is Christmas everywhere, and the sock drawer is no different.  Sock drawers everywhere gather on Christmas Eve to celebrate this special night; they don’t understand it, but they recognize its importance.

The leaders of this tight-knit community are the compression socks.  Being the most expensive and well-traveled, they have stay mated for many years.  Given the honor of being hand-washed, they have maintained their close bond for an eternity in sock-time.

“Alright then, everyone!  Everyone, let’s welcome our newcomers to Sock Drawer:  Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph, Mr. and Mrs. Snowmen, and Mr. and Mrs. Candy Cane!  We are glad to see some new heels and toes!”

The newcomers chuckle, and respond, “At Kohl’s, only 3 for $5!  Buy them now!”  They were limited in their language, being recently made in China.

Other theme socks gather around them in welcome.  Some were still with their mates, but most were now singles.  It is a sad fact in Sock Drawer that some mates never return from Land of Wash and Dry.  

“Let’s move on to the lighting of the tree!”  Mrs. Compression Sock called.  The one Christmas Tree sock came forward, followed by the white athletic socks carrying a mini-flashlight that had slid back into the corner, under a bunch of tangle knee-highs stockings (who were above a plebeian gathering like this).

With great ceremony, the oldest solo sock came forward.  It was a surgical slipper, brought to the drawer over ten years ago.  Ragged and faded with a chevron rubber pattern on the sole, it hobbled forward, its elastic nearly gone.

"Stretch your toes a little and join together as we light the tree!"  It pronounced in a thin worn voice.  A lone mitten clicked on flashlight.  A spontaneous sigh of awe erupted.  The newcomers were overcome, and wept, “95% cotton, 5% spandex!”

Mr. Compression sock cleared his throat and began singing the Christmas hymn, and was soon joined by footwear alike.

“Oh, Come all you footwear!  Cotton and Acrylic!
Oh come ye, oh come ye, to our Christmas sock!
Made in China, Vietnam and India.
Oh come ye plaids and sportswear!
Oh come ye plains and Gold Toes!
Oh come woolens and elastic
To see the Christmas tree!”

No gifts were exchanged, none were needed.  The time together, perhaps for this one time only, was enough.

P.S.  Starting today, some reflections from 2011 A-Z Challenge
will be posted.  Please click on the site shown here, or on the button on the right side.   

Sunday, December 11, 2011

More Questions....

Why are they making the print smaller in newspapers and phone books?

Where did I leave the magnifying glasses?

Does anyone know where I left my readers?

(While watching TV and during commercials) Does anyone remember what we were watchng?

You know that show we always watch cause we love it so much, you know the one, what's its name?

Have we had lunch today?  From “myfeatherednest/Delores”

You know what I forgot to do today? Go to jury duty. No joke. The lady at the courthouse was very forgiving, but I'm so embarrassed. So I received the answer to my question today, "What kind of person forgets to go to jury duty?" Answer: the 15 week pregnant, over-stressed, busy writing mother of three kind. Geez.  E.R. King

I would also add What am I cooking for dinner?, and
Can I convince anyone else to do it?  The Elephant’s Child

Good lists! Why does the cat sleep on my keyboard?  Joanne

Yes, "How does one avoid liver spots?"

And "Where did those dark circles come from?"

Dee from “Coming Home to Myself”

You would think that as we get older, we would have less questions. When we were younger the questions we asked were more intangible, as we age, they are more about getting through the day.  Arleen/Starting Over…

I always scout out bathroom locations and keep track of where the rest stops are if I'm traveling. It's that or not drink any liquids.

A Faraway View

Sandi has left a new comment on your post "The Big Questions":

Oh boy, do I ever relate to this! Here are my current questions:
"What's it called?" (for just about everything)
"Did I take my vitamin?"
"Did I feed the dog?"
"What day is this?" (particularly when I have to go pick my students up from specialist. It matters which day it is!)
"Class, now we're going to . . . what were we going to do???"

Other suggestions?
Who ate the last doughnut?
Did you remember to wash your hands, ______?
What did we need to buy?
Why do guys wear their jeans down around their knees, Grandma?
Grandma, is that fat man going to have a baby?

I realize this is a casual, off-the-cuff post, but I enjoyed the answers.
Thanks.  Susan

Friday, December 9, 2011

Memories of Dick and Jane

Do YOU remember?

A question in Reminisce, October/November 2011, was:  “How many remember Dick and Jane books from first grade?” 

This question was posed by a reader and received a huge response.  Most responses were phrased along the same lines.
“I still remember sitting in a circle reading Dick and Jane in first grade with Mrs. Everette, 1956-’57.”
“Yes.  I remember they did a lot of running!”
“This brings back the thrill of learning to read in my first-grade class in 1962…”

Dick, Jane, Spot, Puff, and Tim…they were like neighborhood friends who dressed nicely and did the same running as we did.  Reading involved phonics and lots of repetition.

It was an exciting, distinctive era.  It begs another question:  How would that series be translated into the current era?

For that matter, what readers (primers) came first?
Not much running here...

It boggles my mind, as it runs rampant through all the possibilities.  The neighborhoods are now so altered; children playing outside are at risk. 

The mother is definitely not wearing pearls and a shirt-waist dress with a crisp apron. 

 The father is probably working on the computer at all hours; heck, he may even work from home.  That is, if there is a father in the home. 

The grandparents may be the ‘primary caregivers’ for a number of reasons. 
My father talked about McGuffey as if he were a friend.

Would today’s children be running with their dog and playing a game outside?  Or, perhaps the children would be plugged into an MP3, playing a video game, or watching “My Babysitter is a Vampire”. 

Junie is quite a character...
It is a world poles apart from that of Dick and Jane.  Children learn to read from different readers, which are probably politically correct and use a contemporary approach to reading.

What will today’s children remember fondly from their first learning-to-read books?  We will have to wait and see.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Big Questions

There are many timeless questions that each person asks of himself:

Who am I?
Why am I here?
Who is God?
Why do bad things happen to good people?
How was the world created?
What happened to the dinosaurs?
What I do if there is a catastrophic event?
Why does money exist?
Who really is in charge of this _____?

Obviously this list could get pretty long.  I once considered these questions vital and important.  Once I turned my life over to God, the big questions became small and unimportant.

However, I am concerned about other things, and have created a new list:

Where did I park the car?
By the way, where are the car keys?
Did I close the garage door?
What is the expiration date on _____?
What is that person’s name—the one approaching me with a big smile?
Where is the next exit off the freeway?
Where is the closest bathroom?
I mean it, where is the closest bathroom?
What is the price of this___?  The print is too small.

These are pretty basic questions, I’ll give you that.
But, they matter to me.
I suspect there are many readers who could add to this list.

Any other questions you would suggest?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Samuel and Santa

I know when you've been sleeping!  I know when you're awake...

The stroller raced through the Mall, with Samuel enjoying the ride.  With the revised harness, there was little else for him to do.  He had ditched a shoe back by Godiva, so he was pleased.

The Mommy came to a stop at the Mall Christmas tree, where Santa was seated on the big throne.  Without much pause, she replaced the retrieved shoe, and hoisted up the surprised Samuel.  Dang.  She’s gotten quick these days.

Samuel found himself on Santa’s lap, peering up at the jovial man with the halo of white hair and beard.  “Ho, Ho, Ho…”

At mid-Ho!, Samuel stuck his index finger up into Santa’s nostril.  Up yours, jolly old elf.
I know.  I know about....

Click, flash!  The camera captured the moment. 

Santa wrapped his gloved hand around Samuel’s and brought it down.  He’s been trained for this.  Samuel decided.

Santa bent his head down to Samuel and spoke.  “I know all about you.  I know what you did to the cat.  The scissors and all.  I know.”

Samuel grew still.  That event had not gone well for either of them.

Then Santa whispered into Samuel’s ear.  “I know about….” 

Samuel was stunned.  How could Santa know that?

Then Samuel was back in the stroller, gazing dully at Santa, who tapped his temple.  “Ho, Ho, Ho!”

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Mystery of the Fifty-Second Minute

Just past the 52nd minute....

The Mystery of the Fifty-second Minute

Sounds like a great title, doesn’t it?  Kinda like Hitchcock’s “The 39th Step”, or “Sixth Sense”?  Throw a number in the title, and you create a question and a grabber.
Maui, Hawaii:  Hawaii 5-0

This is how one of my favorite TV shows always plays out.  The main characters have a close bond, would die to save the other.  During this mystery, the M/C decides to leave his close group, and go to a dangerous country to help a tertiary female character rescue her beloved.   

This poor beloved is in the clutches of a rebel group and will die, unless the female delivers bunches of money to purchase his freedom.
Oh, so delicious Alex O'Loughlin

But, not all is as it seems.  Clues are rife, and predictions can be made early on, that the female has another agenda: to deliver the M/C into the clutches of the evil master villain. 

The close friends discover this duplicity; they gather up all their paramilitary connections, and rush to rescue M/C.  The female discovers her betrayal when the body of the young man is shown to her.  She redeems herself by passing a lock-pick to the M/C, just before the villain kills her.  **

Equally delightful Daniel Oh Kim
Nummy delicious Scott Caan (son of James)

The cavalry rides in, shoots the bad guys, and rescues the M/C, but the villain melts into the night/jungle/city and lives to fight another day.

Villain "Wo Fat" actor, Mark Dacascos, also on "Iron Chef"

**This all happens before the TV show reaches the magic number 52 minutes.  When that number comes, the culminating action happens, and TUH-DUH!  All is well.  The hero looks back at his place of imprisonment with tortured eyes.

The amazing Grace Park
If I know the formula so well, then why do I watch these TV shows?  Eye candy.  The men are young, buff, handsome, and have piercing blue/green/brown eyes.  Grace Park?  Amazing, vulnerable, tough.  Every one of them are easy to appreciate.  Plus, HAWAII!!!  Lush, green, blue ocean--everything to love.

Knowing the 52nd minute is coming lets me relax while I watch the tense parts where uncertainty should reign.  At “52”, I sigh and wait for the final credits.

I could write those scripts, couldn’t I?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Today is my birthday!

"The woods are deep and dark..."

“Today is a good day!” 

That phrase escaped Helen’s lips as a sigh.  Helen could remember what happened all that day:  breakfast, how good the oatmeal tasted;   and, even the joke her nurse Alice made about Helen’s thick curly white hair.

“Why, you have more hair on your head than I had when I was only twenty!”  They both had laughed.  It was true; even at the age of eighty, Helen had fluffy thick hair that looked like a cloud or a mound of snow.

‘It’s my birthday!  Today!’  The thought occurred to Helen as she moved to the window.  ‘My daughter Maude is coming in a while and she will bring my favorite cake.’  Helen even remembered the phone call she had received from Maude just minutes ago.  ‘It’s my birthday!’

Alice walked to Helen’s side and took her elbow.  “Would you like to sit on the deck, Helen?  It’s a rare lovely day, and Lord knows, we won’t have many more of those when winter moves in on us!”

“Oh, Alice!  I would love that.  Maude will be here shortly, and I want her to see me sitting outside.  To see me enjoying the last leaves.” Helen’s brown eyes sparkled at the thought of Maude coming and finding that today Helen remembered her oldest child.

Alice escorted Helen to the outdoor chairs.  Helen was still vigorous, strong, and often argued with Alice about all the ‘fussing over me—I am not a child, you know…’  Alice spread a pale pink lap quilt over Helen, and told her that Maude would love to see this quilt being used.

The woods before her were filled with leaf-covered paths.  The last golden leafs reminded her of a “yellow brick road” from that movie.  ‘What was it?  Oh, the “Wizard of Oz”…’  Her eyes followed the paths and the bare branches arched over the yellow leaf paths.

Helen used to gather up those leaves into bouquets and give them to her mother, “A last bouquet ‘fore the snows, Mama!”

An idea sparked in her tired brain, and she acted on it.  “A bouquet!  That’s what I’ll have when Maude comes!  She will be so surprised!” 

Her feet moved down the steps and onto the paths, the pale pink quilt slipping to the deck. 

Helen was sure she knew this path, from somewhere.  ‘Oh, yes!  This is the path I always take when I take walks.  Take walks?  Oh, of course.  Mama wants me to get some flowers for the table at dinner.’ 

Helen walked forward into the fog of the days behind her, into the fog that came over her mind.

Hands filled with leaves, Helen sat down on an old fallen log and looked around her.  She was so tired.  Letting herself slide down the side of the log, Helen curled up against it, and laid her head onto the rough bark. ‘I’ll rest here for just a moment.  Mama will be cross if I’m late.’

Snow started falling slowly at first and then built up speed.  Soon the paths, branches, fallen trees, and an old woman with fluffy white hair were covered in a layer that made the world white.

The voices calling ‘Helen!’  went unanswered.  As the day moved into night and the snow grew from a few inches to a solid foot, the voices turned to sobs.

On the table in Helen’s room sat a pink birthday cake.  Maude knew that Helen like the color pink.

 p.s.  This story is based on a true event.  My father's cousin developed Alzheimer's in her later years, and left her caretaker's house. She was found when the snows melted, not too far from her house. 

Alzheimer's is a terrible thief.