Monday, December 21, 2015

I Hope for you a Blessed Christmas

I wrote this poem many years ago and it came to mind yesterday as I spoke with our choir director, Ted Fiebke. I don’t know what prompted me to blurt this, “I’ve written and poem you might like to put to music.” Came out of nowhere – I think. Earlier, during choir practice several of us began talking about the Sunday School Christmas program we’d just seen. Ted and I recalled that we’d collaborated on a song for a play I’d written a while back. Maybe that was the trigger for my “blurt” later.

Anyway, I thought I’d post it here as Christmas is coming at us on a freight train. Only four days away! I hope you’re ready. If not, I hope you find a brief respite in my poem. It’s not “magical” or written for a “time for family and friends” or any of the other ways Christmas is often described. Nope, it’s simply about the reason for the season.

Still, Still Night
By Susan Sundwall

Someone comforts a baby
Born in the still, still night
Someone lies in a manger
Beneath a new star’s light

Someone keeps a vigil
Guardian strong and good
There with ox and cattle
Lowly creatures of God

Angels near them hov’ring
Close in the still, still night
Shepherds tremble and wonder
Fall on their knees at the sight

Empires, kings and princes
In every age to come
Will bow to pay him homage
God’s only, holy Son

And yet a tender moment
Before He owns our plight
Someone comforts a baby
Born in the still... still... night.

I’ll be breaking until January. Have a very merry and blessed Christmas.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Two Darks and a Lite

As is my habit after dinner I skedaddle upstairs to check  my email, spend some time with the Good Book and then settle back to watch some telly. Ha! That’s Brit speak for television and I’m going to give you a review of some of the stuff I’ve been Netfilxing. Two Brits and an Aussie. Ready?

Broadchurch – David Tenant. I could stop right there as I’d watch almost anything he’s in (maybe even Dr. Who) but that wouldn’t tell you much about the show. Broadchurch is the name of a fictional town on the coast where the murder of a young boy needs solving. Mr. Tenant teams up with a feisty female detective played by  Olivia Colman.  Plagued by heart troubles (needs a pacemaker), Tenant plays a broody, angry and frequently hallucinating detective to Colman’s more normal self. Normal, that is, until the death of this child, whose mother is a good friend of Colman’s character. The case wreaks havoc in this close community with lots of intrigue, back stabbing and plain old mystery all round. James D’Arcy adds a very creepy element to the mix and he’s suspect from the get-go. Watch out for him. The show kept me captive and it might do the same for you.

Dreamland – Oh, boy. If you ever want to see the inner workings of a dysfunctional government agency watch this hilarious show. Set in Australia we have the Nation Building Authority trying to get things done for the country. Except there are only three in the whole department who give a fig about whether anything actually gets done. Tony, played by Rob Sitch, is alternately hopeful and distraught about the crew that he’s working with. His upbeat secretary, Katie, is always there to aid and abet his efforts and Nat, played by Celia Pequoia, is on his side, too. Everybody else is there to sabotage their efforts and the results will make anyone who’s ever worked in an office roll with laughter while shaking their heads at the absurdity (and reality) of it all. I hope you enjoy it like I did. Can’t wait for new episodes.

River – This is a Netflix original and so well done. Set, once again, in Britain, and rife with paranormal elements, it’s not your usual fare. Or maybe just not mine. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is about as paranormal as I get and that movie is even older than me. Anyway, DCI River, played by Stellan Skarsgard (a Swede in case you couldn’t tell by the name – and when I Googled him I found out he has 8 kids!) is a haunted man. Haunted by dead criminals and a dead partner. So much so that he talks to them in public, punches walls thinking he's punching them and generally does all kinds of stuff that psychiatrists love to pick apart. And all while solving crimes, annoying his boss lady and delighting his therapist. I’m  almost done with the first season and am eager for the second.

So, there ya go. Kind of brief, but hopefully enough to get you going.  I hope your holiday season is humming along okay. If you need a break try one of these shows. A bit of an escape from reality you just might be needing right now.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Strange Thing

This is a story I wrote for, but did not sell to, Chicken Soup for the Soul. It’s a bit longer than my usual 400 or so words, but it fits the season. I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m puffing myself up. Anyway here goes . . . 

Angel Near My Chair
By Susan Sundwall

I was so happy to see the bulging envelope from my sister in California. I hurried inside to open it and found, to my delight, a family newsletter. She’d done it up from a template on a new computer program, and several members of our very large family had contributed. I sat down to enjoy the read and noticed her invitation for anyone to send their stories, pictures, and memories.

I wanted to write something for the kids and in time to go into the Christmas issue. This was back before everyone was emailing everything so I had to get busy. I worked and re-worked a story about a little sparrow and her visit to the manger where Jesus was born. I snail mailed it to my sister and a few months later I got another envelope. This one contained the Christmas newsletter with my story included. Then I began to receive comments on how much everyone enjoyed the story and it made me wonder – could this be the beginning of my long held dream to write?

It’s the tradition in our church for the pastor to read a Christmas story to the Sunday School children on the Sunday after Christmas. I knew he usually chose a story book with beautiful illustrations, written by someone famous, and with the perfect message. But something was nagging at me about my own special story. It had such positive reviews, albeit from family members, that I thought Pastor Jim might consider it. But it made me very nervous to think about. Who was I anyway? Just a mom who wrote a little bird story. I put the brakes on the idea for several weeks.

One chilly evening my husband and I sat all comfy in our recliners thinking of the upcoming holiday season. The television was on low and we each had something to read in case the networks were failing us. Soon, he was snoring and I wasn’t far behind. I began to doze. I cannot remember what broke into my cozy nap, but in that foggy little place we occupy just before we come fully awake, I saw, at the foot of my recliner, something that looked like a robe. It seemed to be made of linen and was white. There was also a peculiar feeling of being hovered over. Still a bit foggy, I wondered why my husband had risen from his chair to stand over me like that. But as I came fully awake, I looked over and he was sound asleep in his chair. Whatever had been near me was gone.

What had just happened? I shook myself and sat up. I had the strangest sensation that we weren’t in the room alone – that another presence was or had been there.

The next day I had the unshakable feeling that I should give my sparrow story to our pastor. I printed it out and decided to drop it off to him while running errands just before going to work. He smiled when he saw me and graciously accepted my story thanking me as I left. I shook a little as I got back into the car and prayed he wouldn’t think me too bold and full of myself. Then I gave it to God and tried not to think about it.

A few days later I was coming out of the coffee room at the small computer business my husband and I ran when I heard the pastor’s voice. “Is Sue here?” He stood at the service counter speaking with my husband.

“Sure,” John said as he looked over and gestured towards me. I wondered if the church’s printer was on the fritz again.

I greeted him as he said, “I’ve come to ask your permission to read your story for the children on the Sunday after Christmas.”

I almost fell over. And I probably blushed. Up to that point the things I'd written were private and the thought of having something of mine read in public was a bit daunting. But what could I say? Of course he could read it. And I’d be there to hear him do it.

When that morning came an attack of nerves struck again. But I remembered that feeling of being hovered over and became convinced that this must be a step I was supposed to take. So I squelched the naysayer inside and went to listen to my pastor tell the story.  

Then . . .

When the service ended several people came over to tell me how  much they enjoyed my tale of a sparrow in Bethlehem. One woman even said she cried at the ending. I was beyond pleased and more than a little humbled. I tried to still my hammering heart.

It’s been many years now since that happened. But I’ll never forget the feeling of having something I’d written touch a chord in someone else. I’ll also never forget the quiet moment and gentle prodding of an angel near my chair.   

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, November 30, 2015

Slingshot Anyone?

So we decided between ourselves to go out on Black Friday. A date – kind of.  Searching for “guy” gifts and hoping we wouldn’t have to go to the next county to get in line at the checkout.

Now let me tell you a bit about the first place we hit, Harbor Freight. The scent of it smacks you in the kisser when you waltz through the door. It sends most men into a swoon and most women looking to get out fast. I’m talking metal shavings, concrete floor, oil can and hot off the presses sale flyer kind of odors. I have to mentally prep each time we visit.

Once inside, he went his way and I went mine. I will say that this store is great when it comes to freebies. It’s little stuff but good stuff and with coupon in hand you’re likely to score a cool item or two. Like flashlights, screwdriver sets, and zippy little tape measures.

And then there are the slingshots.

Now what, you say? That’s where this wandering woman wound up last Friday. Gazing in amazement at a display of Daisy metal and rubber slingshots. Wow, I thought. These are allowed? And just at that instant I also thought of King David. You know, the kid who killed Goliath. Before he was king, of course. If he’d been standing beside me, he’d have  been doing the “Gonna Gettum” happy dance. This slingshot was a thing of beauty. Black and yellow sitting there in its bubble package like an angry wasp. Big, honking rubber strap with a pad at the end to hold Philistine hammering rocks. Whew.

“Can I have it, Aunt Sue? Please? Please?”

Aunt Sue groans.

And then I glanced further down the shelf and what did I see? Blood pressure cuffs. Little ones. The kind you can carry with you and will fit on your wrist. The kind that David’s mother might have found useful. Poor woman.

“David! Enough with the quails already. Put. Down. The. Slingshot."

“Aw, Ma.”

“I mean it. Your dad brought me six yesterday and now there are ten more plopped on the table this morning. It’s not like I can freeze them for later or something.”

And then she remembers the time he “accidentally” clonked his brother in the knee out in the sheep pen putting him out of commission for a week. She made David, only six, take Jeb’s place that week as punishment. Poor sheep.

And on it went until the Philistine’s became a global threat increasing his mother’s need for that nifty blood pressure wrist thingy. And finally David sneaked out on her one morning to make history. If only he’d had that awesome Daisy slingshot the whole of the Philistine army might have gone down.

Anyway. These are the crazy thoughts that a Black Friday excursion can bring about when a woman is faced with slingshots and blood pressure apparatus in a “guy” store.

We got out of there with a good many gift items. But not the slingshot. Instead I snagged that blood pressure cuff. Anybody know David’s mom’s address?

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, November 23, 2015

Our First Poet

 Did you know that America’s first poet was a woman named Anne Dudley Bradstreet? She’s been a great inspiration to the poet in me and I wonder if we could have spoken about it. Since we’re separated by about 368 years it would be difficult. But let me tell you about her.

She came to this country from England with her family in 1647 at the age of 17 and  had already been married, for two years, to Simon Bradstreet. The four ships they traveled with only took two months to get to New England’s shores and when they arrived it was beyond different. And kind of scary. We were a vast wilderness then and the amenities she was used to were scarce. Still, she bent herself to God’s will, dug in her heels and survived.

She began having children at the age of sixteen and subsequently bore Simon eight of them. Back in the day the edge of the wilderness was at the end of your post and rail fence and it took a lot of inner moxie to keep your wits about you.

The thing is, because her husband was of high position and frequently away, she nearly raised those children herself (well, he must have been there at least eight nights – right?). When she wasn’t caring for them, she was busy fending off disease and hostile neighbors. And have you ever looked at a really old cookbook? They beat their eggs with tied up twigs for crying out loud. Plus they were robins eggs and it took forever to get enough together for an omelet.

In her “spare” time she wrote poetry and did it so well that she had her work published. Okay, her brother back in England published it and it wasn’t considered wonderful but she got a lot better in subsequent years. Probably wrote with goose quills and squid ink, too. She waxed poetic mostly about her husband and children. She called her children her little birds and penned a charming poem about them in 1659 titled “In Reference to Her Children”. In fairness to Simon, records show that he adored her and wrote this about her.

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye woman, if you can.

She was our country’s first poet – an incredible woman. A stained glass window in her honor hangs in St. Botolph’s Church in Boston. That’s her in the picture at top.

I’ll be breaking for Thanksgiving – I’m cooking for 15. I hope yours is blessed, filled with good things, and great love.

Monday, November 16, 2015

12 Perfect Hours

Sometimes, when someone gives you a gift, they don’t realize what they’ve done. A case in point was the Christmas gift my son and his wife gave to me this year - early.  It was a uniquely American experience.

It began with an early morning train ride, a normal thing for many commuters, but not this girl. I haven’t been on a train in decades. We hopped on in Hudson and hopped off at Penn Station in NYC two hours later. The city that never sleeps, world renowned, a lure to tourists and terrorists worldwide. Um – okay – forget that last part. Keeping it positive here.

We surged out of the train station and the sun was at our backs as we tromped the streets of Manhattan. It was Sunday but still there were people all the heck over the place. Cement canyons galore. Vendors of every stripe. As in, “real” cashmere scarves for ten bucks a pop or - your bargain of the day - 3 for $25. Such a deal. We forged on for ten or twelve blocks and then I looked up and saw the big “R”. We’d arrived at our destination – Radio City Music Hall.

Ever heard of it? Ha, ha. I know you have and I was there with family and friends to see the Rockettes. Ever heard of them? Well, I have and all my life, too. I felt like a ten year old. The. Christmas. Show.  Are you with me here?

I took the picture up there in the corner out on the street where it hung on the Radio City building. We were a little early so we met Katy’s Aunt Gail for a late lunch just around the corner at Bill’s Bar & Burger. Excellent burgers and I indulged in a chocolate shake for which they are renowned. It was right up there on the Yummy Scale.

Afterwards we hit the street again and were soon shepherded into the theater where we were greeted by this sight.

Some Christmas tree, huh? Glass crystals and towering above it all. Anna (granddaughter) said, “I want that in my room.” So, of course, I’ll get it for her. And I told her so as we looked for Row Q and the eight seats reserved just for our crew. We settled into this theater world of draped stage and a thousand lights. Red everywhere. Snowflakes dancing across the ceiling where it seemed as though voices whispered, “Hey, you’re in for a treat!”

And then – the lights lowered, the orchestra began the overture and when 24 reindeer pranced onto the stage my throat nearly closed up. Suddenly the millions of people all over the world who would love to be sitting where I was popped into my head. Oh, New York. I thought of Mom. She would so have loved to see this. She who was enamored of all things classy and beautiful and Big City.  My eyes were glued to the lovely young women with long legs, cheerful smiles, rhythm and grace who gotta dance. 

I won’t bore you into a coma with a review of every scene but near the end of performance an astonishingly beautiful Nativity – with live animals and everything – strode across the stage to the strains of “The First Noel”. Nearly all of the babble sounds from the audience ceased as the Wise Men presented their gifts. God was in the room and I’m pretty sure He approved.  

Sadly, at the ninth hour of our trip, it was time to leave the beauty and dazzle of the theater and think about getting on the train again. Lined up waiting for the crowd were Pedicabs willing to transport passengers around town. So the three of us needing to get back to Penn Station decided to go for it. What fun! Those guys really know how to haul. We three goofy women offered a queen’s wave to the crowds as we passed. In ten minutes we were at the station and a few more had us back on the train heading for home, tired and happy.

So what do I think of my Christmas gift? Well, how many people do you know who get to experience 12 perfect hours? Ever.

Thank you, Katy and Eric. Love you so much.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Trivia Bits

Feeling a little blog lazy today, but thought you might enjoy some interesting bits of trivia I’ve come across lately. Kind of amazing, some of it.

1.    Clean snow melts more slowly than dirty snow.  Like – who watched the snow long enough to find out?
2.    Boiling an ostrich egg takes 40 minutes. Eat one and you’ll have consumed 2000 calories.  And if you make egg salad sandwiches with it you need 4 gallons of mayo. I just made that last part up. But still.
3.    Like eggplant? Almost all of it (2/3) is grown in New Jersey. Wow, go Garden State.
4.    There are no squirrels in Australia. !!! They can have some of ours. Really.
5.    Johnny Depp has a fear of clowns. And yet, and yet – he works in film. Go figure.
6.    Camels are thirsty critters. They can gulp down 500 cups of water in ten minutes. Did you know that? Me neither.
7.    Gorillas burp when they are happy. Anyone else married to a gorilla?
8.    Sheep outnumber people in New Zealand. Is that good or Baa-d news for the census takers?
9.    The parachute was invented before the airplane. Aw, c'mon!
10. Thomas Edison was afraid of the dark. Thus, the light bulb.

Have a great weekend. Full of fun and frolic. Okay?

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, November 9, 2015


Yesterday I was held captive while traveling to and from the movies. My granddaughter, Anna, was with me and we were on our way to see "The Peanuts Movie". You might argue, since I was the driver, that I held her captive, but no, it was the other way round. Here’s how it all went down.

Me: Okay, Anna, it’s time. You get to ask me three questions.

Anna: (groans) Oh, this is hard.

Me: Oh, c’mon. I always ask you questions (it’s the only way to get something out of them). Isn’t there anything you want to know about me? Think how long I’ve lived – all that history.

Anna: (groans) Okay, I’m thinking. But then will you tell me a story?

Me: (groaning – I know what this means) Okay, okay, what’s your first question?

She asked me four and right now they escape me, but I dutifully answered and then she said . . .

“Now tell me a story.”

“A true one, or one I make up?” (I know what this means)

“A true one.”

So I dig out the big blue box marked “Memory Bank” and this is what I told her.

One summer, when I was a young teen I ordered a makeup sampler that I found in the back of a magazine. I was sure those dabs of blusher and lipstick (Candy Pink) would make all the difference in the world when it was time to return to school and WOW all my friends with how I’d changed over the summer. Then, after a whole week of waiting with no delivery, I began to stalk the mailman. The poor guy.

We lived where the he walked his route and I knew just about the time he came every day. Our black metal box was right outside the front door – the one with the glass curtained window – and I’d peek through that curtain as he walked up and deposited our stash for the day.

Day after day I was disappointed. No makeup sampler. Still, my eagerness grew. I just knew it would be in that mail delivery tomorrow and I took up my station daily.

My dogged espionage-like activity did not go unnoticed by my sisters. They knew what I was waiting for and why I hogged the spot by the door at mail time every day. So, one afternoon as I took up my post, one of them (I think it was Shari) tiptoed up behind me just as the mailman approached the box.

I stood still as an oak. I barely breathed. I pulled the curtain aside ever so slightly so as to see whether my long awaited makeup sampler was finally being delivered, when . . .

That rotten sister of mine grabbed the curtain and flipped it up. Way up – so that the mailman and I made astonished eye contact with each other for about six seconds.

I was momentarily stupefied but then I made the same sound as Charlie Brown did in the movie yesterday in his iconic football scene. Arrrrggggg!

It got real ugly after that. Sister on sister violence  was rarely reported in those days and I didn’t enlighten Anna about what happened next. Suffice it to say both Shari and I lived to tell the tale and lo, these many years later, we laugh about It. Actually, she was laughing her head off at the time, too, greatly increasing my wrath.

So you see? I was a captive in the car yesterday – to memory. And now my granddaughter has something to put in her “Memory Bank” although hers is probably orange like the bag she had her movie money in. And it’s not very full – yet.

What’s in your Memory Bank?

Image: vectorolie                                                Free Digital Photos

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Beloved Things

As I perused my old files this morning, I came upon this post from last year. I thought it worthy of repeating as my sentiments about the topic remain. I hope it touches a cord in you. Have a wonderful weekend. 

Who You Take With You

When I stand at my dresser in front of my  open jewelry box every morning there’s a brief moment or two when I must decide what reminder to take with me that day. Shall it be the small gold cross that my husband gave me when our youngest son was born? Or perhaps the bracelet my best bud Karen gave me? It’s a magnetic shimmering little bit of a thing and it’s supposed to help if you have arthritis. Which I do and it’s most pronounced in my wrists.

You see, ever since I was a teen I’ve loved wearing other people’s things. It could be because we were so poor and hand-me-downs were the order of the day. Mom would get boxes of clothes and shoes from well meaning relatives and we’d plow through them to pull out the gems. And I got it in my head that other people’s belongings were somehow more trendy, expensive, tasteful – whatever – than what we owned. I remember one dress I wore all the time in high school. It had a paisley pattern in muted colors and the style was only a few  years out of date. Was it an aunt who had given it? I can’t remember but I loved wearing it.

When Mom died back in 2011 my sisters and I took on the duty of cleaning out her apartment. Tough gig. You must touch everything your mother owned. We had to decide which of those things we wanted for our own. I took the picture of the angel. She’d always loved that print and I’d found it in a catalog and sent it to her one year for Christmas. It’s in the room where I’m writing this. Hey, Mom. I also took some scarves – my granddaughters love them – and a denim jacket that is my first choice on a chilly day. Washes up like a dream.

The bulk of my jewelry has been given to me, mostly by other women. I love these women. A dash of brightness in my ears, at my wrist or around my neck reminds me of their friendship. I imagine them standing at a craft fair table or a counter at Kohl’s or our local gift shop. They’re thinking of me and I know how that feels because I do it, too. But they’ve bothered to take the time to consider their choices and find something to please a friend. How cool is that?  

So who shall I take with me today? My daughter-in- law Heather gave me a pair of silver double hoops. Casual, easy to slip in and goes with everything. Probably those. I’ll take Heather with me today.

Can you relate?

Photo: I'm smack in the middle. My sisters and me on our 2011 getaway to Savannah.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Critter Trouble

We have chipmunks. Have had for many years. There’s a whole enclave of them under the front porch and over the years they’ve set up quite a community just inside the cellar wall. I know this because I’ve seen their stash of maple “helicopters” in that corner of the cellar - it runneth over. Chipmunks are real slobs.

Ew. Maybe that’s a bit harsh. Probably Mrs. Chipmunk (and there have been many, I’m sure) is a neat and tidy little miss. But the Mister and his boys are a rowdy bunch. Like the time this past August when my own Mister and I sat on the patio with a cool drink as is our custom just before we pop something onto the grill. Suddenly there was a great rustle in the bushes.

Two brash young munks tore out from under the greenery and chased each other across the yard and back. They scurried onto a pile of cinder blocks we’d plopped under a tree, turned on each other and put up their dukes. Squiddly –do-do. Little fists flying, a couple of cool insults shot between them and then they were off again. Quite entertaining.

Now it’s November and this morning, as we came to life after a long winter’s nap, there was a “thud!” downstairs coming from front porch area. My man threw back the covers, pulled on his sweats and sallied forth to defend our domicile.

I highly suspect it was one of the Munk brothers. At it again. Probably one of them was about to knock on the front door to ask for some sugar for his cereal when “Wham!” he was tackled from behind by a sibling and clonked his head on the door. Hearing the man charge down the stairs frightened the critters and the were gone before he hit the landing. Cereal with no sugar coming right up.

As much trouble as the boys are, I think the girl chippers are spies. Oh, yeah. I hear their scritchy little feet in the walls. I do. I follow the noise and pound on the plaster to let them know I’m up and moving. Hardly scares them at all but I know what they’re up to. I highly suspect they watch me while I put on my face every morning. I’m sure they find it highly amusing – “She sooo needs a new shade of lip color, Clarice, don’t you think?” Little snots. They fear no such criticism since they know they’ll be cute all their lives without needing an ounce of Maybelline

We have chipmunks.  About now we’re ready and willing to give them your address because we’re thinking of putting the whole dang enclave on the market. They'll need a new home. Let me know if you’re interested. Please .... please .... please

Friday, October 30, 2015


Boo Hoo. October is drawing to a close. Bare branches and chilly limbs are on the horizon as well as the hoards. You know, the hoards. Christmas shoppers. Anyway, I wrote these two poems years ago when I was a fledgling writer. I still like them and I hope you do, too. Don't eat too much candy now.

Halloween Things

These are the things of Halloween
A ghost, a witch and Frankenstein green

A pumpkin, a bat and a bushy tailed cat
My big brother Tom in his old wizard hat

Knocking on doors all down the street
We fill up our bags with good things to eat

There’s Billy Taylor dressed like a ghost
Without any pillows, he’s fatter than most

We’re lucky we didn’t see Sally Ann Green
They say that she’s really a vampire queen

At last it’s too dark to stay out much later
We drag ourselves home and lay out our treasure

It’s spooky and silly and great gobs of fun
Oh how I hate to see Halloween done 

Moon Dance
By Susan Sundwall

October drapes her burnished skirt
Stirred by an errant breeze

Bends down to earth and offers thus
Her crimson leather leaves

Too soon the crisping winter air
Will bare the ancient bones

Of starkened limbs that once were dressed
In vibrant greening tones

And yet once more beneath the moon
All held within her trance

The aching soul is touched for ‘tis
October’s dying dance

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Echoes in the Stairwell

She’s only four but she knows all about God.  She surprised her mom one day, out of the blue, with this cheerful observation, “God is everywhere!” I’m so glad her mom told us. This little ray of sunshine, Sierra, also loves to sing. Rumor has it she sang to the nurses in the delivery room as she high-fived the doctor. Okay, it’s only a rumor.

Her love of singing was in evidence during the recent visit of two aunts and an uncle. My brother, his wife, and our sister whooshed in from Texas and California to experience a New York autumn. Like the best line in that song (I’ll teach it to Sierra one of these days) “It’s autumn in New York, it’s time to love it again.”

Anyway, we were all gathered at the big white – recently painted – house for dinner and the kids were running wild. Aunt Shari and Aunt Elizabeth had the girls well in hand and Sam was all about sports on television. I was cooking and fussing, a surprise to no one. But I did break away after dinner and found a small contingent hanging around in the stairwell. I went to sit with them.

“Echo, echo, echo!” Sierra and her sister, Melodi, were giving it their all. Because when you call “ECHO” into the stairwell it comes right back ‘atcha ringing around your head. My fault. I’ve taught all the grandkids to echo. They love it.

It grew quiet as we sat on that broad step but soon someone suggested a song. It was me. “How about Amazing Grace?” It’s Sierra’s favorite song. Oh, and the Hallelujah Chorus. The first Easter she heard that one she sang it full throttle at home all week to the delight of, and then just tolerable to, her parents.

She shrank back at the suggestion. Maybe because Aunt Shari and Aunt Elizabeth were there. New fans can be intimidating. “I’ll sing with you,” I whispered.

And then there was astonishment that a little child with golden curls could belt out nearly all the words to one of the world’s most beloved hymns. She and God must have a connection because up those words went swirling around our heads. That stairwell, at that moment, was a little piece of Heaven escorted to earth by a child. How sweet the sound and how amazing.

We had moved on to the Hallelujah Chorus before the rest of the family woke up to what was going on. “Hey,” someone called from the living room, “sounds like a concert in there. Come down and sing.”

I’m sorry to report that that did not happen. The small, golden moments of Heaven are fleeting and soon the shyness of children and the weariness of adults returns. Instead we came down for dessert.

The echoes in the stairwell teach us something, though. Beautiful, burning experiences come out of nowhere. All the time. We must look for them and stay on the mountain top for however long it takes to internalize what comes to us.

Right Shari, Tim and Elizabeth?

 Photo: Our mountain top – er – stairwell.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Taking a Break

Hello Readers!

I'm taking a blog break and hitting the road with out of town company soon. Brother Tim, his wife, Elizabeth, and my sister, Shari, will be arriving on Saturday. From Texas and California. Can't wait to see them. But we'll be off adventuring next week so I'm going to challenge you with a simple question. And I hope you leave some replies. Take a few days with it. Ask your friends, ask your family, ask the check out person at the grocery store.


How would life be different if there were no mirrors?

Go ahead. Put on your thinking caps because I'll be checking back between adventures and I'd love to know what you come up with. Why, some of your answers may even make it into our Happy Hour discussions. Wait - don't let that scare you off. Really. Just go for it and . . .

Have a super weekend!

Image: Free Digital Photos

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Mishap Revisited

Still getting ready for  company – picking apples today to  make my irresistible apple pear sauce. Note self: buy pears. Anyway, here’s an oldie but goody I hope you enjoy.  


So I have this new vacuum cleaner. It was on sale at Sears last fall, in my color – white and turquoise – and number of horsepower - four. A nifty little canister job. I read online reviews and they were good, too. Before I could say “here’s my gold card” I had it humming around the house sucking up all kinds of stuff.

As with all my previous vacuums I use it for little tasks one might not think of. Like grabbing up flies – in mid-flight -  and whisking dried leaf and twig bits out of hubby’s shoes. Now, just to the right of where I’m typing this there’s a small file cabinet, almost against the wall. I happened to look between said cabinet a few days ago and reeled back – aghast to see Dust Bunny Village on its way to becoming a boom town. The shame!

“I’ll get you!” I thought and scooted downstairs for my trusty new vacuum. Only the nozzle attachment was too big to reach the village. Dang! So I went for second best- my Swiffer duster. You know the one with the duster part you slide onto the yellow handle? Yeah, that’s the one. It worked great on the village, but when I took it out it was overloaded – blech! A lot of over-breeding in the village recently.

I do not know what prompted me to do what I did next. But my trusty dust sucker was right there beside me so I turned it on an applied it gently to the end of the Swiffer.

Sluurrrrppppppppp! In about two seconds the whole duster thingy was a goner.

I quickly shut the vacuum off and popped the top. You guessed it. The duster wasn’t in the bag, it was stuck half way up the hose. Visions of bent coat hangers danced before my eyes. What moron would think she could suck a tiny bit of dust off the duster at end of that wand thingy? Am I four years old or something? Yeesh.

Not to be too hasty about remedies, I decided to give trusty vacuum one more go before I broke out the hanger. So I closed the top, turned the sucker on and within seconds heard the satisfying “thwock” of the duster being pulled into the vacuum bag. It’s still there.

I love my new vacuum. It really sucks.

Image: Free Digital Photos

PS: That image is of some of the dust bunnies dressed up as impish children for Halloween. I'm dressed up as a witch with a vacuum. Eeeee, hee hee.  

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Out and About in October

My goodness the critters are busy out there. Chipmunks (Alvin and crew) and squirrels scurrying through dry leaves. Deer showing up at all hours to munch the acorns under the old oak on the hill. You’d think winter was coming on or something.  A few days ago as I pulled tomato stakes out of the garden rows, I looked down to see a woolly bear caterpillar. He was pale yellow and sat astride a leaf while taking in the sun. No stripe of brown or black could I see. Uh, oh. Does no stripe portend something brutal head or a season more mild? I can never remember. I’ll have to check the Almanac. And I’ll be watching the ground for other woollies as they telegraph their opinions on their backs in the coming weeks. I’ll let you know what I find out.

Yesterday, as I clipped along up hill and down dale on my way to pick up my nine year old charge, a vehicle came over the hill and down the dale right at me. An odd color. Tan. An odd shape. Boxy. As it got closer I saw it was . . . it was . . . wait for it. A Woodie!! No, not the Toy Story character, but a real, beautifully restored Ford Woodie. Probably from the 1940’s. I held my breath for a few seconds in case it wasn’t, but it was. And then every beach song and every weird surfer guy I ever had a crush on suddenly danced before my eyes. I saw no driver and heard no sound as it wooshed by me. I was too busy time traveling to notice. It was an awesome thirty seconds.

And then there was the rainbow. I have to confess I was bouncing on the edge of impatience when it appeared. It was nearing the end of a long day with children and I was pooped. I sat on the patio at our son’s home listening to two of our granddaughters playing in the side yard with their friends. I had no book, no Kindle, no cell phone and no other distractions when I saw it. First there was the reflection. Red, yellow, blue coming off the water. I was confused until I looked up and saw the same colors cascading through a small cloud. The sun must have been hitting it just right. It dawned on my then that I was one of the most blessed women alive. I thought of mothers, fathers, and grandparents in war torn places who would give a limb to be sitting in such a tranquil place as I was now.  A beautiful lakeside seat, autumn leaves just turning, the laughter of children floating towards me. At that moment my long day could have gone on forever and I prayed for a tranquil place, however brief, for anyone in need.

So those are my tidbits for now. How has  your week been going?

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, October 5, 2015

Remember This One?

I’m a crazy woman getting ready for company so I’m being lazy today. But – you might enjoy this blast from the past. And do let me know about some favorite old commercials. Yes, there is such a thing.

As we sat playing pinochle with friends the other night, we began talking about commercials. You know, the kind that advertise products we may or may not need, but whose companies have hired excellent ad men. Someone mentioned and the cornball Captain Obvious who touts for them. I said I loved the Geico gecko. Well, that got the ball rolling didn’t it?

Hang on – here comes Memory Lane.

“Please don’t squeeze the Charmin!” There he was, Mr. Whipple, right there in the aisle of your favorite grocery store. The big sneak. Scared the poop out of any shopper who dared put the moves on an eight pack.

Met himself coming and going did the Dunkin Donut guy. Pudgy, cute little mustache, and a gleam in his eye. “Time to make the donuts.” That was his line and he said it with passion and bleary eyes seeing as how it was always 4 in the morning in his world.

Madge. She dipped your fingers in emerald green liquid and patted your hand when you gasped, “Dishwashing liquid!” Yup, Palmolive had a great spokeswoman in that gal. Loved her.

A good ad campaign is the stuff of legends and gives a certain cache (whatever that means) to an era. Remember “Got Milk?” How about “Where’s the beef?” Your mind is churning like crazy now, isn’t it?

I could go on and on, but there’s right now a break from all the horror of world news and I think Flo is starring in another Progressive commercial – a new one! Gotta go.

Okay, I’m back. Have a few ad icons of your own you’d like to share?

Image: Free Digital Photos

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Contest Winner Announced!

Thank  you, thank you all who entered. Here is a picture of the hat.

Here is a picture of an angel.

Here is a picture of an angel pulling from the hat – the name of the winner!

Congratulations Karen Lange! You win the Autumn Basket. I'll be in touch. Enjoy every blessing of the season.