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.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Over the weekend my friend, Karen, and I visited a couple of yard sales. They were both pretty big, one for our local Lions Club and one a community tag sale on a large farm field. I bought things at the first but only gave a passing glance at the second sale.

This brought to mind all the things you see at yard / tag sales. I always look for seasonal items, in good shape, glassware, picture frames, linens. This time I found some baskets, a ceramic lamp that I’ll refinish and a book of snowflake patterns. Sometimes  you see something bizarre – like a fur stole with  the critter’s little feet dangling. Really – at our last  church tag sale. Sometimes you find the unbelievable or the brand new making you wonder how the owner could part with it. The cute pumpkin train in the picture was a find one year. 

So, if you’d like to give me a shout this week with a word or two about something you picked up at a yard sale, I’ll enter your name into a drawing for my “autumn box”. I’m famous for these - ask my family in California where there's no autumn to speak of. A word or a sentence will do. Or more if you’re feeling the need. If you’ve  never been to or bought anything at a tag sale – uh – I don’t even know what to say, but you might. So you can enter, too.

What’s in my box? Your choice of one of my books (if you’ve read them all, remember – gift giving season is coming up), chocolate, pumpkin spice tea, and a few other delightful surprises.

Contest winner's name will be drawn from a bag by Sierra, who's four, and announced on Wednesday, September 30. Then I’ll need to contact you for your address.

Good luck!!

PS: I’ll count posts on my Facebook page, too, if you encounter trouble here. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Clean Windows?

I come from a long line of cleaners. Both Mom and Dad passed the “clean gene” along to the nine of us. Believe it or not, the idea of spring and fall cleaning excites us. Yes – we’re disturbed. Let me elucidate (what a great word, huh? It means to tell with fervor).

Anyway, this week I’ve been doing windows. The eyeballs of our homes. When they are sparkling clean it says something about the people behind the windows. They have nothing to hide. Except – looking through those sparkling windows you might see the dust bunnies duking it out under the bed. Soooo – after the windows I'll get going on that. Welcome to my vacuum Mr. and Mrs. Bunny and all your 92 children.

But then, as I’m swooping them up, I notice a big stain on the oriental rug, because my nose is almost on it, being right there under that bed and all. I know I’ll be rounding up a bucketful of ammonia water and a scrub brush as soon as those bunnies are gone. But when I get to the closet where I keep the ammonia – good grief – the bottle is almost empty. I get my car keys for a quick run to the Dollar General to pick some up. But . . . the cruddy car mat catches my eye. Where did all that mud and dead grass come from?

“It’ll only take a minute to pluck it out and give it a good shake,” I say to myself. When I do, I find that rewards card from the yogurt place I lost two months ago! Yay. Love that place.

Anyway, on the road to DG, I remember I also need paper towels and some milk. Thinking of the milk reminds me that there’s a nasty lump of chocolate waiting to be scrubbed off one of the shelves in the fridge. Dang kids. Never clean up after themselves. And why doesn’t the man of the house remember where the dishwasher is??? Puts his empty coffee cup gently into the sink. Right. Next. To. The. Dishwasher. Gaaaa! He was cursed with the “freedom for all” gene. That includes cups, saucers and pots as well as his underwear. Never closes a door on any of them as they might want to escape and live their lives freely. He refuses to imprison anything. The dishwasher does have bars, after all. Our genes are really Not compatible so it must be true love that keeps us together. Right?

Back in the car something in me snaps. I’ve had it with all this cleaning. So I re-route. I stop and get a bottle of Merlot and a bag of salt and vinegar chips. It’s almost five o’clock anyway – time to call it a day. The clean gene can just shut up for a while as I check to make sure the footrest on my recliner still works.  And I’ll close the window curtains so no prying eyes can see the grandkid's finger smudges on the television screen. 

Have a great, relaxing, weekend. Okay? 

Image: debspoons                                       Free Digital Photos

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Worth Repeating

Looking around the kitchen this morning and the following came to mind. I hope you don’t mind my repeating this from last summer. Have a super day!

So I opened my Chrome browser a couple of months ago and saw a link to “the first peek” into the NYC apartment of Chelsea Clinton and her husband. Beautiful – of course. And what drew my attention the most wasn’t the furnishings in the living room or the opulent bathrooms. Nope, in cases like this, I go for the kitchen. It’s the room I relate to the most. My two passions in life are writing and cooking. But I have to tell you I could NOT relate to the kitchen in the virtual tour before me.

Without crumbs on the counter, a broken hinge on a cabinet, cat food crudding up the side of the dish and above all – a refrigerator suffocating in artwork and magnets, well, it’s just not a kitchen. A sterile stainless steel everything kind of kitchen with a few carefully placed pears on a spotless counter simply doesn’t do it for me. I mean, c’mon, where are the humans here?

I know, I know. If you’re doing an expensive shoot for a glossy mag you can’t have cat barf under your feet, right? Or if you do, you get the cat’s maid to clean it up pronto before the big cameras come out. I’m so glad I’m not saddled with wealth and position so I don’t have to face these dilemmas.

Here’s a short story that would make Chelsea, Martha, and maybe the Princess of Panama cringe if it happened in their realm.

Before we did our kitchen over, we had a portable dishwasher. Remember those? On top sat the toaster, butter dish and anything we had to lay down for a minute. Our cat at the time, Puss, loved that old kitchen because there were enough holes in the baseboards to provide mouse snacks all the livelong day. One night my husband was out late and when he came in through the kitchen door he saw the cat perched on the dishwasher staring intently at the toaster. Hmmm, he thought, what could be in there? So he crept softly up to the toaster, smiled at Puss, pushed the handle down, and stepped back.

How long do you think it took for that mouse to scramble out of the hot coils into the grasp of a happy kitty? Mere seconds my friend, seconds. A chase ensued and I really don’t know the outcome of the cat and mouse game, but it sure is a good story. Cringe worthy to the wealthy and famous but priceless to us.

My kitchen is inhabited by ordinary humans. This grandma plasters the pictures next to the magnets next to the construction paper artwork to cover the fingerprints on the fridge. I hang long dill branches over the fireplace and pile the get-to-later mail  on the table. I have Mom’s picture of “Grace” hanging over the old deacon’s bench and there are almost always crumbs on the counter.

That’s what you get for having a human kitchen. I sure hope Chelsea and Martha and the Princess of Panama get to experience that at least once in their lifetime. They’ll be truly wealthy then.

Image: Grace by Eric Engstrom

Friday, September 11, 2015

September Songs

Summer isn’t going to hang on much longer. September lends its mixed bag of weather to that fact. It’s been brutal – in the 90’s – for the first few weeks with only a slight breeze now and then as Madame Winter rustles her skirts up North. The songs of September will usher in her reign in just a little while. Those songs are beautiful and here are a few to consider.

I’m not real ancient yet, but old enough to remember some performers of yesteryear whose music set the tone for the Fall season.  There are many versions of “September in the Rain”. Singers include Jo Stafford, Frank Sinatra and Dinah Washington.  Rod Stewart does a passable version, too. It’s a love song – it sure is – but very evocative of the season.  It’s from the 1937 movie “Melody for Two” and I love Jo Stafford’s version found here.

And then there’s Jimmy Durante. What an unlikely star, huh?  Boy, he sure had a honker of a schnozzola. But I think that was part of his charm. He knew his nose was big, that he was short, and sitting quietly on a park bench he would attract the attention of no one. BUT, he was personality with a capital P. What an entertainer. He had a long and varied career that included his own television show. And one night, on that show, he sang “September Song” and melted the hearts of a nation. Played the piano as he sang, too. I love it. Go here to listen. 

Neil Diamond! I try to listen to “September Morn” on the first of every September. Mr. Diamond has a rough kind of voice which makes you think that any ordinary man could sing this love song. Kind of brings it out of the clouds and makes you think you could open the back door after work and your sweet man would have dinner on the table, the laundry all folded, and the kids in bed. Yup, old Neil could make you dream like that. Agree? Here ya go.

I know September brings other thoughts to Americans especially on this day, September 11. And there have been equally horrific days and events throughout history that bring all that is not good to mind. It’s one of the awful truths of life. But throwing a love song or two into the mix reminds us that, though evil will always try to claim us, we don’t have to live there - ever. We also have love. Go there for a little while and think of those  you love, the beautiful season that’s right around the corner, and all the good that God gives us each day if only we’ll claim it.

Welcome Autumn.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Mishap Repeat

It's going to be in the 90's again today. I remembered this story from another hot and sticky day. A repeat I hope you'll enjoy.

Popcorn. Don’t ya just love it? It’s great with the grandkids, not too messy. It’s great at the movies in spite of the over-the-moon price. Leftover popcorn goes out in the yard for the crows and squirrels, who peck and claw at each other over it. Great stuff.

Unless . . .

It’s the source of your extreme mortification.

It was mid-summer and hotter than blazes. It was also Saturday and in the evening we almost always play pinochle with two other couples. I rarely cook supper on those nights because we’re pretty snack heavy while we bid, trump and gather tricks. We have yummy things like dill dip and chips, carrot and celery sticks (yes, yummy – with lots of dill dip), cheese, crackers and pepperoni. Stuff like that. No need for supper – nosiree.

So this night I decided to treat everybody and take along a big batch of my famous caramel corn. We played and munched and laughed and drank iced beverages on into the night. At the end of which there was some caramel corn left in one of Marie’s oblong plastic bowls.

Did I say it was hot out? Clothes sticking to your back hot. Skin from your thighs making a ssstttt sound when you go to stand up. Yeah, that hot. No air conditioning at our friends home, either.

About ten thirty we decided to call it a night and everyone got up (sssstt) to help clear the table except me and Ed, our host. In front of me on the table was the bowl of caramel corn. I chatted with Ed and reached for the bowl. As I pulled it towards me I noticed none of the corn in the bowl moved. I jiggled it a little – still not moving. It had become very attached to that bowl – in love with it, in fact. Caramel is like that.  

“Wow, look at this,” I said to Ed. “It’s – like – stuck.”

Please Do Not Ask Me Why I Did This Next Thing.

I lifted the bowl and turned it upside down, leaning in and peering curiously at the contents. For about a nano second time stopped and that corn hung on desperately. I could almost imagine a sort of Les Miserable’s song going on in the bowl . . .do you hear the caramel cling . . .

And then . . .

Crash! That stuff hit the table like marbles on the sidewalk and skittered everywhere! Everywhere, I tell you. Ed and I jumped back like startled lab rats and beheld the carnage.

I gulped. “Who would have thought it would do that?” I asked, kind of hunched over, stricken in my mortification. I’d messed up our friends table, floor, chairs, the cat food dish, under cabinets – you name it.

I looked at Ed with saucer eyes and he burst out laughing. Holding his sides in hilarious mirth. Much to my relief the others looked on and laughed, too. Thank God for small, sticky favors!

After my profuse apologies, we cleaned up the table and swept up the corn (dang!) and called it a memorable night. We have spoken of it since when conversation lags or if there’s a new friend or two to entertain. And if Ed, himself, seems kind of down, all I have to say is, “Remember that time with the popcorn?”

And he’s cheered right up. Wouldn’t you be?    

Image: Free Digital Photos

Friday, September 4, 2015

September and Summer's End

I think I’ve posted this poem before, but as usual at this time of year I get all melancholy about the end of summer and kind of excited about the fall and this poem says it all for me. I wrote it years ago and it was published in Good Old Days magazine. I hope you enjoy it and whatever remnants of summer are left to us. Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.


Last Picnic of Summer
By Susan Sundwall

Before she sheds her flowered dress
sweet Summer grants one last caress
and wraps her suntanned arms around
the peaceful place my heart has found

She bids me listen just once more
for water lapping on the shore,
and children thumping on the sand
to music from the oompa band

Picnic tables piled high
with buttered corn and cherry pie;
fireflies are sheer delight
blinking, winking through the night

We find some marshmallows to toast
then through the flickering fire, the ghost
of Summer who, with gentle laugh
goes slipping down bright autumn’s path

Image: Free Digital Photos