Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Yes, I am sassy....

Sassy Lady Bloggers

Are you sassy enough?

Thank you, Mamawolfe, for nominating me for the ‘Sassy’ Award!  I must tell seven things about myself, and pass the award onto others. 

*In first grade, my teacher kept me after school until it was dark because I refused, and I mean refused to draw a turkey with its tail feathers up and all different colors.  I drew turkey after turkey, each time with its tail feathers down.  I kept telling her that 1) only male turkeys raised their tail feathers, and 2) they were speckled brown.  Seeing wild turkeys most of my six years, I knew this to be the truth.  She finally gave up.

*I once said “Son of a bitch” to my fourth sixth grade teacher.  A boy dared me to say it.  You see, I really didn’t know it was swearing.  My brothers, father, and grandfather said that phrase several times a day.  I didn’t get in trouble, but it was a close call.

*My brother Robert could persuade me to do almost anything.  Once he talked me into cleaning a catfish he had caught.  I had cleaned other fish, but they had scales.  The catfish had to be skinned.  I did it, but never again.

*The only thing I ever shoplifted was an English walnut.  I was four years old, shopping with my mother at our small local grocery store.  I came upon a huge box of these nuts, and each one had a blue diamond stamped on it.  I got so excited.  I took one and ran out to the car where my grandmother (a strict woman, let me tell you) was waiting.  I showed it to her, and she bawled me out.  She marched me inside, made me apologize to the owner, and put the nut back.  You can tell how traumatized I am.

*In fourth sixth grade (obviously a big year) a kind neighbor discovered that I loved art.  She painted in oil, producing lovely stuff.  One day she showed up at our farm house with all sorts of almost empty tubes of oil paint, a variety of brushes, and a “How to Paint” book by John/Jon Gnagy.  Her kindness set my love for art on fire.  I will never forget her.

*When I was a young mother with three children, my husband’s family owned real estate company purchased a hotel in Ireland.  We sold everything we owned, packed up the rest into a crate the side of a small garden shed, and moved to County Cork.  For three + years, we owned and operated the property along with my brother-in-law, Patrick.  Oh, the stories I could tell on that.

*When we returned to California from Ireland, I started/re-started teaching at the age of 37.  Everyone assumed I was very experienced and a ‘master teacher’.  It was the steepest and most exciting learning curve I have ever had to do.  I loved it.

There you go: more than you ever wanted to know about me!  Since this is such a busy time, I will select only a few other sassy writers I know:

American in Bath

P.S.  Please cut and paste the award.  I am inept in these lines.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Our granddaughter, Sunshine, continues to be a fount of wisdom, a source of great insight.  With her clear view of ‘what should be’, Sunshine gives us all a reasoned out perspective on almost anything

Want a unique view of space and the universe?  Read ‘Sunshine and the Solar System’.

Struggling with unruly spontaneous children?  Read ‘Sunshine and Self-Control’.

Ever wonder why one has eaten enough broccoli or meatloaf, and yet, has room for ice cream?  Sunshine has been explaining that to us.

I had fixed a great baked ziti dinner complete with green salad, garlic bread, and dessert.  I had worked most of two hours on it, which also included doing yesterday’s dishes while the girls cleaned the TV room. 

The delicious smell of Italian food and copious amounts of garlic greeted my son-in-law and then my daughter when they came home from work.  The table was set by the girls, my husband had filled the water glasses—dinner was ready.

With great flourish we all sat down to eat.  While the rest of the family dived in to eating, Sunshine pushed her noodles around with her fork, scraping off the sauce and meat.  After just a few bites, she announced that she was full, and ready for dessert.

Mommy handled it well.  “Sunshine, you have to eat your salad and noodles.  No, no more bread!  No, you can’t have a second glass of milk.”  The ‘No’ went on for a while.

Sunshine burst out, “But, Mommy!  The noodle and salad side of my tummy are full!”   
Courtesy of  Apparently this is a common belief.
She pulled up her shirt and explained how her stomach was divided in to compartments.  Over here was the noodle compartment, and it was way full; over there was the salad compartment, and it also was going to blow up.  The bread side could use another slice or two, and the milk side was virtually dry.

Since then, Sunshine has used this compartmental stomach claim many times.  She never wins, but I do believe there is some truth to her claims.  

Bring on the dessert, Sunshine.  I am with you.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

This cake is just fine--so far.

Back in May, I wrote a post, “I do! I do!” 
Advice to Brides! 

My niece had gotten married at a beach wedding.  It was a lovely wedding, and the families were happy. 

So much planning had gone into the wedding, as does in most weddings.  So many worries were about the weather, since it had been raining all week along that beach.  But the day of the wedding was sunny and clear. 

Now we are preparing to go to a second-marriage wedding for the bride’s mother, who is my sister-in-law.  When I asked her about the wedding plans that always include flowers, cake, food, and beverages, her reply was profound.  “This time, I am working on the marriage, not on the wedding.”
I bet they worked on their marriage!

What an insightful answer!

I remember her first wedding and all the planning that went into it.  Months of planning, shopping, trying on wedding dresses was part of the wedding process.  Every detail was addressed, except the weather.  It was a miserable humid hot day.  The reception by the home pool had seemed a good idea, but few people danced and most huddled in the shade until the sun was casting shadows. 

The wedding cake was sitting on the patio under shade during the church ceremony (during which the flower girl fainted from the heat). 
Someone else's wedding

When the bride’s parents returned home, the heavy cake sides were slipping down off the cake.  Only quick thinking by a chef guest saved the cake; he repaired the cake inside in the dining room, where the A/C was cranked to super-high. 
Okay, it wasn't this bad.

As I think about this second wedding, I don’t think the weather will matter one little bit.  Rain buckets?  Cold winds?  No problem.   

This couple has spent all the past year working on the marriage.  They won’t mind a little weather one bit.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Interview with Arlee Bird!

I am so thrilled to be interviewed by Arlee, whose writing I admire so much!

Today is the DAY!

YES!  Arlee Bird is posting his interview with ME on his blogsite, Wrote by Rote, TODAY!

I am excited, if you can guess!  

For so many years, my family always said, “Susan?  Oh, yes, I suppose she writes.  She’s always scribbled about inconsequential stuff….”

And NOW?  Well, I have been actively blogging after changing my usual New Years’ Resolution from
blah, blah, blah…lose weight…exercise…blah…blah
“I will write every single day, and I will finish my book and I will improve as a writer!”

So, if you are checking my blogs today, go to Wrote by Rote, Arlee Bird, proprietor.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Simple questions with simple answers...

Migraine Aura: if only I could make money off this!

I like simple questions with answers. 

Last Sunday, I went to the emergency room after having a migraine since Thursday.  The barometric pressure was changing, and when that happens, I am in pain.  No, in agony.

Through Saturday night and into Sunday morning, I was awake, watching the migraine aura paint swirls and star bursts on my ceiling. 
This is called an "Amnesia Migraine".  I have a few of these...I think...

Years ago when I had to seek help from Urgent Care or the ER, I was regarded with suspicion, as if I were there to get a narcotic, a fix.  Now, with computer records available, any doctor within my primary care physician’s clinic group can access and see all the interventions.  Then they know I am not there just to get drugs. 
This speaks for itself.  Thanks,!

As brain research improves, treatment options for my type of migraine improve.  Someday, maybe there will be a simple answer.

Oh, by the way…
On Saturday, November 26, Arlee Bird is featuring an interview with ME! on one of his new blogs, Wrote by Rote.  Please go there on Saturday! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Know that My Redeemer Lives

See*Photo*Write Every Monday!
An interesting, amusing, or startling photograph
has the power to spark creativity
and arouse the writer within.

I know that my Redeemer lives;
He lives, who once was dead;
To me in grief
He comfort gives;
With peace
He crowns my head.

He lives triumphant
O’er the grave,
At God’s right hand on high,
My ransomed soul
To keep and save,
To bless and glorify.

He lives, that I may also live,
And now His grace proclaim;
He lives that I may honor give
To His most holy name.

Let strains of heav’nly music rise,
While all their anthem sing
To Christ, my precious Sacrifice,
And everliving King.

George Handel
Charles Wesley
Arrangement © 1962 by the Rodeheaver Co. in “Choir Worship”

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lemon Meringue

For over a decade, I had driven the same route on my way to school.  Every morning and late afternoon, I would travel from my home in one town to the adjoining town—straight through the traffic light, turn left at the next light, then right, and…  After a while I noticed there were always the same people walking those streets at that same time. 

Some were clearly heading to the bus stop, carrying a lunch pail or briefcase.  Others were going to the Jack-in-the-Box to work, as their shirt and cap advertised.  But, then there were some other women who were either heading home to bed or heading out to work.  While these women didn’t wear a uniform, their profession was easy enough to guess.

At first I was shocked and even disgusted by the idea of prostitutes walking along my streets.  Once that passed, I developed a compassion for them, these women who looked into passing cars, cocking an eyebrow and giving a sassy smile to the men who slowed down.

There was this one young woman whose life I followed over the decade.  She was beautiful, but more than that, she had a ‘glow’ about her.  I decided to call her “Lemon Meringue” after a Strawberry Shortcake character. She had a halo of white blonde hair, and a sweet face.  There was a bounce to her step and when someone honked at her, a big smile and wave acknowledged that car.  She was full of life—that’s the only way to describe her. 

Over the ten years I observed her, she slowly changed.  Lemon Meringue grew thin, and her steps were slower.  She had never worn much make-up, but now her face was harsh with it.  One day, Lemon Meringue disappeared from the streets.

It bothered me.  I knew the motel the prostitutes used for business, but I was not bold enough to stop there and check for her. 

About that time, there was a short article in the local newspaper about a woman’s body found just outside the town.  It was her.  Then a garage mechanic was arrested; a string of prostitute murders were attached to him.

I never knew her real name, where she was from, or if there had ever been family looking for her.  Even now, as I drive down those streets, I recall how she waved and smiled. 

I wonder if anyone grieves for her.  I wonder if I might be the only one.  I wonder.

In Memory of all Lemon Meringue Women 
who Have Disappeared

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Announcing the A-Z challenge!

Preparing Ahead for April

Artwork by Ada Z. at CollagePodge

Arlee Bird announced the coming of the April 2012 A-to-Z Blogfest/Challenge last week.  Wednesday, November 16, was the big reveal and I missed it!!

To be honest, I have had an awfully busy week.

My dear mother-in-law, who is “Mom” to me for nearly 40 years, had emergency surgery and was not doing well at all.  She is 85 years old, but believes firmly that things like this should not be happening to her.  Mom is not a good patient, let me tell you.

It was Teacher/Parent Conferences last week.  My granddaughters had half-days at school, needed to be picked up, fed, and do their homework.  On Tuesday, 11-15, I made stacks of pancakes and fried eggs.  Bright Eyes ate eight (8) adult sized pancakes and one egg, over easy.  Wednesday, we ordered in spaghetti and a super-torpedo sandwich.  Both girls ate all of it and part of the table.

Sooo, without giving excuses, I am announcing that the A-to-Z Challenge for April 2012 is on.  Go to this site for further information.

Okay, they didn’t eat half the table, but they could have.  I swear it.

P.S.  You have to check out my interview with Arlee Bird, scheduled for Saturday, November 26, 2011!!  This is so awesome--really!
His site is:
Wrote by Rote: Arlee Bird 

Monday, November 21, 2011

I confess...

Colorado, but it is a beautiful Valley; Psalms 23

Okay, I will admit this up front:  I read the Obituary page in the newspaper. 

Most people don’t readily confess to this, as it has a sense of morbidity about it.  But, I am willing to bet a whole white chocolate macadamia cookie that many readers do at least glance at that page.

Maybe it is my age.  I will be sixty years old, although my brain insists I am still thirty-seven.  The primary cause of death in my age range is random.  Women—cancer of some sort, usually breast cancer.  Men—heart attacks and cancer.  Any age—automobile accidents or violence. 

So, I look at the obits and see if I know anyone there.  So far, so good.  Strangers, all of them. 

But every now and then, there will be a tiny obit about a tiny life.  It takes my breath away, and then I read the simple words:  born one minute, lived a short time, and then gone.  So much said in such a few words.

The movie plays in my head, slowly and I can see every moment.  First, the labor and the efforts of the mother.  Then the joy of that moment when the doctor says, “It’s a ----!”  The silence that follows as the room becomes a whirlwind of doctors and nurses, running to NCU with the struggling newborn.  The mother and father cry, calling questions, “Wait!  What is wrong---?”  Then there is the moment when the doctor walks slowly back to the parents.

And that is the moment where I turn off the movie in my head, and feel horrific sorrow.

A new book has been published: The Golden Sky by EC Stilton.  This book is about all those moments, all those struggles, and the silences when Zeke dies after a short life of 2 ½ months.  Go to Elisa’s site to read and listen.  The book was released November 18, 2011.  

The Golden Sky Book Launch and iPad2 Giveaway

 If you or someone you know has been through those moments, this book is a healing book.  It celebrates the short life and reminds the reader to rejoice always, even in the face of sorrow.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Through the Glass

See*Photo*Write Every Monday!
An interesting, amusing, or startling photograph
has the power to spark creativity
and arouse the writer within.

Looking through the kitchen sliding glass door, Samuel and the squirrel eyed each other.  Both waited for the other to blink.

Bored, the squirrel scampered off, snatching a fallen pecan for his cache of winter supplies.

Samuel sighed.  This had turned out to be a disappointing day.  The Daddy was home, and had said, “Hey, Buddy.  Daddy’s gonna do some work on the computer.  You stay put, okay?”

Stay put?  The Daddy had fixed him up with a harness that was secured around his chest, tethered to the kitchen table.

Stay put?  He could wander about six feet, and then The Daddy would say, “Buddy?”

While The Daddy killed Zombies on the computer in the dining room, Samuel gazed jealously at the squirrel that scurried around the backyard. If only, if only.

Samuel pressed his face against the glass door, watching as Ginger-the-fat-tabby soundlessly squeezed through the pet door.  It was too small for Samuel.

This is a soulless existence.  Samuel hung his head.  I cannot endure such inhumanity.  Inspired, Samuel focused his thoughts on the pet door and the squirrel. 

The Daddy’s briefcase lay open on the chair.  Phone, keys, papers—his for the taking.  ‘Buddy this, big guy!’  Samuel decided.
Samuel retrieved the cell phone and shoved it cautiously through the pet door.  The squirrel examined it.   He snatched it up, scampered up the tree, and dropped it into the chasm of winter food.

Success!  Samuel took the keys, clutching them in his moist chubby hand.  No sound.  Squirrel took them, ka-ching.

Papers?  No problem.  Flash Drive?  Easy-peasy.  Again and again, until all gifts were accepted. 

Samuel looked at the nearly empty case. My job here is done.  He lay down on the floor, giving the squirrel a sleepy smile.  Hard work is always rewarded.

This is an awesome site hosted by some dedicated writers! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ecce Puer by James Joyce

James Joyce's Photograph of Ireland

James Joyce was an Irish writer of great fame.  Some of his works are epic, in the truest sense of the word.
James Joyce tribute in Dublin

He also wrote small tender works, such as the poem below.  This poem talks of the birth of his grandson and the death of his father.  Joyce, being the generation in between, writes of this position.

Of the dark past
A child is born.
With joy and grief
My heart is torn.

Calm in his cradle
The living lies.
May love and mercy
Unclose his eyes.;

Young life is breathed
On the glass;
The world that was not
Comes to pass.

The child is sleeping
The old man gone.
Oh, father forsaken,
Forgive your son.

Life and death--two certain events in one's span.  

On this day, November, a baby died nine years ago.  His mother, Elisa C. Stilson, has published her journal about the struggles of his short life, and how she viewed each day.  A precious book.  A painful book.  A book that speaks of a mother's love and her fight to hold all together.

The Golden Sky Book Launch and iPad2 Giveaway
Click on the image to go to this site for an exciting event: The Golden Sky

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 17: In Memory of....Bill. My Bill.

EC Writes

EC Writes

This post is written to honor a small baby, Zeke, who died at age of 2 1/2 months.  His precious mother, Elisa, has written a wonderful book, The Golden Sky, which will be released tomorrow.  Please click on the image above, or on the link below to go to her site.  There are many bloggers sharing their losses today.  God bless them all.
There have been so many people whom I 

 have loved, treasured even, and who then died.  It is a long list.  All of these people touched my life and others’ lives, then left. 

Bill.  My brother Bill.  That is the person whose life and then death hit me the hardest, leaving the biggest achy grief that never leaves me.

I was 3 ½ years old when Bill was born, still a very little girl.  I recall clearly standing at the crib, with my eyes even with the crib mattress.  Staring in at this red-faced baby, with his blond sticky-up hair, I didn’t know if I liked this change or not.

 I reached my hand through the bars of the crib, and put my hand on the diapered butt.  It was warm, in a wet way.  Just then, he turned his face toward mine; he wrinkled up his nose and yawned.  I decided I liked him.  In fact I was going to be his protector, and take care of him his whole life.

Being his protector was not easy.  Bill was an active boy, with long legs and a short fuse.  The distance between seeing something to do and then doing it was split seconds.  The most impulsive, charming, adventurous boy in existence: that is what I decided Bill was.  Soon I gave up on the protection business.  It would never work for Bill.

Oh, Bill.  I find myself saying that several times a day, even now.  Those two words say everything.  He grew fast, ran fast; he ran away.  One day Bill was still in high school, and then it seemed, the next day he was gone away somewhere.

To chronicle Bill’s life would frustrate the writer and the reader.  Let’s just say that Bill had many adventures, all of which involved danger and helping people.  All those adventures broke hearts, but his charm and impulsiveness were his way of leaving behind other people who sighed, “Oh, Bill.”
Bill died at age 44, the result of blood poisoning following a botched surgery.  The surgery was necessary—all those adventures left behind damage in his long lanky cowboy body.
Add caption
My role of ‘protector’ still haunts me.  I think back at the phone calls Bill made to me over our adult years, and wonder if I could have said something that would have brought him home.  I think of that final week, when he was dying but I didn’t know it. 

If only, if only…the regrets of a protector.
My brother Bill with 'Sonny'
I am thinking that someday in heaven, I will chase Bill across the clover fields he loved so much, and actually catch him.  Boy, will I give him a hug or two, or a million.

In honor and memory of a little boy who died on November 18--Little Zeke
Click here! to see the release of 'The Golden Sky'

The Golden Sky Book Launch and iPad2 Giveaway