Monthly Archives: October 2012

an odd little conversation with Sue…

I had a moment today, the rarest second of true joy when the preschool that’s located in my building brought their littles ones to visit all decked out for Halloween. Did I say joy? I meant wonderment. Happiness. Peace.

The teachers knocked on my door, so relieved that someone was there to see their costumes. It would’ve been a shame if the office had been empty.

Such cuties and they looked so… earnest. Serious and I realized, each one, for this briefest of moments were no longer humans, but superheros…Good, witches, Superman, and every masked crusader shuffled to my door with wide eyes and no smiles. I tried not to grin. I did not coo over their puffed up sleeves and six-pack abs stuffed with cotton, their chiffon gowns and princess tiaras.  I wanted to honor their imaginations.

I wanted to be them.

With all the stress and worry this past weekend, I forgot to breathe. I’d waged a war with my body and lost. Here for you is the running conversation that still will not stop…

Sue’s body: You’re stressed.

Sue’s mind: Am not.

A long pause. Body: Are too. See, you’re jaw aches again.

Just ’cause I ate too many peanuts and carrots. They’re hard to chew.

Body: That’s lame.

Mind sticks its tongue out at body.

Body: You’ve lost weight again. At 98 lbs, that won’t fly.

Mind: I’ve been busy, doing dishes, damn it, washing clothes and bedding, running to the store for the umpteenth time, trying to prep for this superstorm. Let off, will you?

Body: No can do.

Mind, ready to swear…

Body: Look, you survived. You wanna know what your problem is, Sue?

Mind: You’re a pain in my –

You don’t know how to trust.

And there it is for you, folks. The truth buried in humor. I hold on too tight to everything, try to control every situation to bring about a good outcome. I don’t know how to live any other way. The sad part? We had only a brief lapse in power, where there are millions still without… we saw no flooding, no trees came down on our house- thousands of other’s did. We weren’t hurt and too many lost their lives to this storm.

Therein lies the fruitlessness of worry. Therein lies the power of faith.

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flatline stats and warm hugs, The Finale…

Thanks for stopping by and here is the rest of the story…

To Nutshells and Mosquito Wings… I love this woman’s style, love her blog and always crave more. Her recent post on the upcoming NaNoWriMo (national write a novel in a month – adults have a minimum word count of 50,000, anyone under 18 can set their own count) made me literally laugh. So delightful, I can just imagine her sitting at her computer in the dead of the night, fifteen half empty cups of coffee scattered about the table and her caught up in the drama of her story…

Here is but a snippet of her post:

“NaNo isn’t about getting published.  It’s about writing.  There’s a difference.  NaNo is about freeing yourself to write exactly what you want. It’s about proving to yourself that you can finish a novel.  It’s about discovering if you’ve got what it takes to push through the long dark tea time of your creative soul* to make it to “the end”.  Bright and shiny ideas are so easy to come by.  Wonderful first chapters flow easily from the fingertips.  It gets harder and harder, the rock you’re rolling uphill heavier and heavier, the doubts louder and louder as the words pile up.  NaNo is about persistence in the face of failure, because it’s so easy to mistake that smelly, incoherent, steaming pile of a first draft for a failure, if you stop to think about it.  NaNo is about not thinking. Thinking comes later, in December.

Why fight the irresistible lure that is NaNo?  Don your unwashed, up-all-night, wired-on-Snickers writer persona, and join me, if you dare.”

Tempting now, isn’t it?

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I’m going to skip Ashi Akira’s blog and put him last. You’ll know why in a moment.

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To Denise at Just as I Am… how incredible that she wrote about fear this week. Here’s a bit for you:

“It isn’t only in writing that fear rears it’s ugly head in my life.  I really don’t like writing that.  I like to think that I am a strong person.  Writing that sentence makes me feel weak.

I’ve thought about all the different areas that fear has influenced/influences me over the course of my life.

I’ve been a people pleaser, I’ve feared confrontation, I’ve feared ridicule for what I believe in and who I am.  I’ve feared getting hurt.  Fear of the unknown, I like a plan.

Some of those fears come back to haunt me now and then.  Sigh.”

Then she goes on about how she tackles that fear. Wonderful how much strength I drew from her words. Thank you Denise, for being SO courageous…

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Ah, and on to my cyber-buddy in Ireland… Pauline over at paulineoknits… You’ve no idea how much she’s made me love Monday mornings. As this bold Irish lady says, she only posts once a week, on Mondays (see my comments when she’s late!). This past week, she took me into downtown Dublin and shared photos of Christchurch (a building over a thousand years old), risked her life to snap a pic of Parliament from the middle of the road and confessed to not liking “wiggling” seafood. That sparked a bantering round of comments which ended with me agreeing to 1) visiting Ireland (a hardship, really) and 2) trying out their “yummy Irish fish.”

We’ll leave the ‘wiggling” food to my dear, sweet hubby.

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Ready to continue? Maybe go grab a spot of tea…

You back? Great, because we’ve only just a few more.

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To Judith over at Myths and Musings. I loved reading her take on NaNO. How cool to have two diametrically opposite viewpoints on that program all in the same week. Here is but a taste for you…

“… In my mind, the second novel was brilliant.  It had everything–battles, romance, drama, and angst.  Thankfully, for me, my friends are brutally honest.  ‘We don’t care.  We got tired of the battles.  The romance didn’t grab us, and your writing wasn’t its best.’  I went back and rewrote, pitched some things, polished others.  It was better, but nothing to brag about.  By now, even I could see that.  When you first give birth to your masterpiece, all you feel is the afterglow.  Give it a minute, and it spits up with cholic and keeps you awake at night.  Then reality sets in.  This novel might be too flawed to fix.

And that’s my problem with speed writing.  I tend be the tortoise, not the hare.  My brain doesn’t work fast.  I’ll never win a debate.  I think of the perfect answer a few days after the discussion.  So for me, the plodding method works better.”

Much as I like to believe I could do NaNo – I’m with you, Judith. I’m just too slow (this post has taken the better part of the day!)

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To Lynne at Free Penny Press, a woman who writes with her soul. Her recent post, a response to a writing prompt was so beautiful, so eloquent and moving. Haven’t we all lost our smiles at one time or another?

“Smiling was natural as breathing until my world started to shift on its axis. (Losing love and trust were the culprits.) With the shift, my smile started a downward slide soon to be nothing but a flat line.It starts out as a half-way smile, just a bit of white teeth showing that feels forced, plastic like. It did not happen overnight this gravitational shift of facial muscles but was years in the making.”

And her comments? Delightful, thoughtful and moving. Thanks, Lynn, for sharing…

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To Stega’s jewlery blog – I’m so glad you’re on the mend. So glad to see your pep return. So funny and wonderful how much joy beading brings to you my cyber-friend. Your blog is a good reminder to be true to our passions. Happiness flows outward when we share…

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And finally, to Ashi Aikra, a Japanese Haiku poet. A simple question I posed sparked incredible revelations. All I did was wonder what a ginkgo nut tasted like. I’ll finish this long-winded post with his words. They cut through my complaining, belly aching, clueless worries this week and I’m so glad he shared..

“I’m sure you wouldn’t like the smell but some insects do. It’s very like that of breaking wind. But strangely the smell is totally replaced with fragrance and the nut tastes very good when the outer skin is removed and roasted. Very nutritious too, and had it not for that gift from nature I might not have been here today. During the years of the hardship the ordinary Japanese people got through during and after the war, I was still a little kid and was separated from my parents to evacuate my home city that might be destroyed by air raids and was sent to a mountainous area. Food was scarce there and we kids were starving. Then I instinctively knew the ginkgo nuts were edible and ate them, closing my eyes to the smell. Besides the nuts, I caught and ate frogs, wasp larvae, silkworm chrysalis, etc. It makes me sad that millions upon millions of kids are living like that or even under much worse condition on the globe today. It’s only because of the greed of a handful of people. Thank you as always for reading my stuff.”

I have no more complaints.

And thanks for indulging in a really, way too long post.

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flatline stats and warm hugs… Part One

(This post is WAY too long… how in heck did it grow to 2500 words! So, knowing that we are all way to busy to indulge in this much reading in one sitting, I’m breaking it into two parts. Thanks, T’resa, for the inspiration.)

This week has come and gone and not a moment too soon.

Financial stress, constant worry, a hectic break-neck schedule left me with nothing to say. No new posts. No words could come from this battered brain. And yet, I laughed each day when I loaded my stats and watched the diminishing returns with joy. Have I lost my mind?

Perhaps…

But then, my notification page was full of wonderful, beautiful heart-felt comments.

This week I discovered the simple pleasure of reading, commenting and liking your blogs. You were my words. You expressed the thoughts, fears and frustrations bottled up inside. Some of you made me laugh, some scolded, others challenged my hopelessness… all left me with renewed purpose. Each touched me this past week and I’d like to share how…

These are in order from the most recent bloggers I follow to my longest running companions. Please check the side bar for a link to each site and… please, feel free to pay them a visit!

I didn’t have a break-down this week, I made an incredible break-through, though, when wordpress finally allowed me to comment on runningfromhellwithel’s blog. Imagine my joy when I could let this wonderful lady know I’d visited, that I loved her posts… that they touched me. Here is how she responded to my first comment:

“Sue!!! It’s great to see you here!! Thank you so much for persevering through the WordPress craziness! I am grinning, for real, sitting here in my quiet sitting room and reading your kind remarks!! Thank you so much!! And I’ll see you around soon!
~El”

I love all the exclamation marks.

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Next on my side bar is a little baby blogger, a newbie, my daughter, McKenna. She’s my writing buddy, my coach, my partner in crime. I support her voyage into cyberworld and ask you to do the same. I’m amazed that she’s tackling her writer’s block with such grace and creativity. You go girl (and yes, she’s cringing right now).

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To Lynne who recently began Six Degrees… a site dedicated to seeking out blogs to highlight. She is an endless pursuer of all things supportive. She’s also a caring soul. I’ve only just begun to tap this site and I know great things are ahead for her and those of us who find that new treasure to follow…

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To Eunice over at Living and Lovin, a neighbor and fellow New Englander. What a charm and her photos blow me away. In the midst of high stress this week, I opened her blog to find a post called “Many find peace here.” And I did. I sat with my cup of tea and just stared at that sunset. Peace flowed and warmth and love.

my comment to her:

“I never realized before this summer, when I began blogging, how much I’d chosen to live in a vacuum – insulating, protecting myself from the painful junk that’s out there. It was with great trepidation that I launched myself into cyber space and I’m so very glad I did. Here I am, saying hello to a neighbor, loving her photos and her wonderful posts… I, too, am so glad we met…
 take care and peace”

Eunice responded:

“I also am glad to have met you next time I am in your area I will let you know so I can give you a HUG :)   We have wonderful people who follow us :)  Thankfully”

I’m looking forward to that hug.

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To Joan over at The Thing About Joan… I feel like I’m home when I read her posts. She’s so with it and so darn creative. When my dishes piled up this week and the laundry threatened to bury me, I went to her site and read a bunch of Halloween tips. So amazing how grounded I found this. It was a gentle reminder that our family is to be cherished, that sometimes being a mom is enough…

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To Michelle, a young lass who’s spending a year abroad in Ireland. I love this post – she’s taken me to the Ring of Kerry and taught me to look for “American” style peanut butter when I visit. But it was her latest post that brought laughter this week when there was none. I suggest you skip across the pond and learn about the wacky floor numbering system in Irish buildings. Here is her last paragraph:

“So in recap, the ground floor is the American equivalent to first floor. So just start counting at zero and you should be fine. Or you can just wing it and have a merry adventure along the way.”

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To Mouthful of Words… a mom, a writer, a woman packing in all of life and making it work. Her recent post shows her hiking with her two babies brought a smile.

Here is what I wrote:

“When I see you and your young family, I’m taken back – thirteen years ago that was me with my two little ones. Good job getting out and about – I KNOW how tough that is! Lovely photos and I can relate – I’d go stir crazy without my woods. I love nature. So nice to see your post – keep em coming (and I’ll understand when it takes a while – you’re a busy mom!)”

And here is her response:

“Thanks Susan, you are like my WordPress best friend. I can’t thank you enough for all your great posts and interest you’ve taken in my blog. Thank you just doesn’t cut it, but it’s all we have, so thank you for all the traffic, and for your own beautiful blog. Letters to Rosa are so heartwarming, they inspire me, and push me to do better.”

Keep writing, love. You’re a wonder…

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To Karron at Not in the Mood for Small Talk. Her recent post titled “60 Years” brought such joy. Here is but a small excerpt:

“I asked him how long they had been married.  ‘Almost 60 years, now.  And she is still the most beautiful woman I ever seen.’   Then he turned and patted her arm, as she was talking a mile a minute to the woman next to her.  He pointed at the door where the nurse had just called his name.  The woman got up and started fussing and hurrying him along as if he were a toddler.  He winked at me again. ‘Don’t tell her I said that though, cause I will never hear the end of it.’

When I left the doctor’s office, they were getting in their car.  She was fussing and fretting as usual.  I wondered if she was a backseat driver, or if she just prattled on until he reached over a patted her to remind her to let other’s get a word in edgewise.”

I wrote:

“I read this today and LOVED it! How sweet a moment and you captured it so beautifully, Karron. Love how the man could communicate so simply with his wife and she responded. Thank you for sharing.”
I needed to smile.

She responded:

“You are most welcome.  It was a sweet moment, and something that made me smile too.”

I really did need that smile.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the rest of yus guys…

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A simple thought for today…

Sometimes a couple of words, strung together with care and true craft, catch me. They stay on, lingering in my mind throughout the day and I am amazed.

I started following a blog a few months back, one that has taken me down new roads. A Japanese Haiku artist, http://ashiakira.wordpress.com, has caught my imagination and let it soar.

I could reblog every one of these bright, thoughtful, lovely poems, but I thought I’d just highlight one for today. It’s called “Dragonflies Crossing”

“Dragonflies crossing

A downtown intersection

Cop’s whistle neglected”

Wonderful, the poem, stunning the artist’s reply to my comment:

I said, “Okay, so this is actually funny! Love the idea of a dragonfly on its own agenda. Good job!”

Ashi Akira responded, “Thanks. Free, safe and happy life first. Rules must come second to support the first.”

I’ll let those words swim through your mind and encourage you to visit this wonderful blog. Tell ’em Sue says “hi”.

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of art doodles and versatile awards…

Writing has sprung from nowhere and taken me completely by surprise. Ask any loved one who lives at a distance and they’ll confirm – yup, Sue never wrote back. My brother, Dan, when he entered the Air Force sent countless letters packed with funny, sometimes silly jokes and stories of his life away from Vermont and did I respond? Ask him. He’ll tell you – just enough to keep him from being pissed off, not nearly enough to satisfy.

I suppose it came from a fear deep inside – look how permanent those words are! What if someone takes them the wrong way? What if I say something so stupid it ends up on the internet and goes viral…

Hey, I can just hear the teenager on the subway say to his neighbor, check this out. Can you imagine writing something so dumb?

A writer I’ve been for the past four years. An artist I’ve been my entire life. There I’ve always found freedom of expression. The picture either works or doesn’t and it matters not one whit whether the viewer understands or agrees or hates it. It simply exists. I suppose that could be true of writing, but the skeptic in me would disagree.

So when a lovely friend, Denise over at http://justasiamdenise.wordpress.com nominated me for this award:

versatile_blogger_award

I’ve decided to make my illustrations a permanent piece of the web, to share and let you in on one of the things I treasure most in my life- my art. Some are pastels, others watercolor, most are samples I created for my illustration portfolio, none of which landed me one job as a children’s book illustrator until now… Now I’m illustrating my first picture book for a dear friend, Karen. I’ll let you know when the book’s done. It’s sweet and wonderful and well-written.

But I digress and onto business. The pictures first. Please keep reading for at the end I shall let you know my nominations and the coveted 7 things about Susan (like this isn’t enough!)

Please don’t be too harsh…

My youngest girl, just a few years back. Done in watercolor and yes, I have her permission to post this…

a sample for a children’s magazine cover. Alas, twas not good enough…

another sample for my portfolio. Done in watercolor.

another cover illustration sample. watercolor with color pencil overlay.

cover to my handcrafted (that’s uppity for self-produced) book, Hodge Podge Lane. acrylic on watercolor paper

this looks a bit funky, but it’s a two page spread. Yup, that’s me doing stupid stuff. Watercolor

an example of my “fine” art. Series of pastel woman. And yes, that’s my reflection in case you’re wondering. Too lazy to take the art out of the frame…

A self-portait. Alas, I don’t own this one anymore…

a sample illustration, this one done in pastel…

I won’t bore you anymore…

Now, onto the nominations… I think I’m supposed to nominate 7, but I’m only doing 3. Not to leave anyone out, but I only follow a handful of blogs and I’ve already nominated most of them and I know how much work it is to accept these awards (gratifying, too!) and… well. I’m only doing 3. So there.

to Eunice at http://nutsfortreasure.wordpress.com  A fellow New Englander with a gift for words and photography. Wonderful treasures you’ll find there…

Now, onto 7 things about moi…

1) I’m supposed to be working on illustrations for Karen.

2) I’m about to work on illustrations for Karen (I promise, Karen!)

3) All images are copyrighted by said artist, that being, me, which leads me to #4

4) I hate having to say #3

5) It’s cool here and I have to start the fire in the wood stove

6) I’m about to start said-mentioned fire

7) I am a closet artist no more.

Thanks for visiting and please know, I’d nominate the following if wordpress would let me follow, like or comment on the following blogs:

lexisnana at http://thekovies.com – for her reflections on family life. Please tell her I said “Hello” and loved her latest post on her daughter in the Navy. Broke my heart how she misses her girl. Love how proud she is of her, too. Couldn’t leave a comment – not this time anyway.

http://runningfromhellwithel.wordpress.com – incredible writing. Incredible.

And finally, I enjoy all the blogs I follow. Please take a moment, fix a cup of tea and check them out!

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truly blessed…

As a cyber-friend recently pointed out, I live in a beautiful place – a great place for kids to grow up. I could not agree more.

Captivating at times; memorable in the glorious views and harsh at others, incredibly so… one must take the good with the bad in living here. It’s like you have to sign a contract:

I, Sue, agree not to rail against snow in May. There too, I must acknowledge and enjoy the long stretches of 70 degree weather, with soft breezes and violent blue sky in late spring and early fall. I must enjoy the blistering 90 degrees and seek a nearby swimming hole because no one living here has the right to complain about summer weather. That would make them stupid.

I, Sue, must count my blessings.

A country girl I’ve always been. Grew up in a tiny town with the “back mountain” as my playground. And now, to find myself owning acres of wooded land, raising my girls to appreciate nature… living in a home literally surrounded by forest with no houses in sight? How did I get this lucky.

This cyber friend (okay, it’s Teresa from http://bellybuttonblues.wordpress.com – I’ll shamelessly highlight her blog – she’s a charm and her posts are both funny and compelling) asked about hiking and is it safe, so I thought I’d let my little phone-camera do some talking. Guess I should get a real camera someday and I apologize to all you photo-buffs for the lack of editing…

acres of rock walls from the Irish farmers that lived here…

Our fall woods are looking a bit bare…

our cross-country ski paths… what a joy!

A little of this (snow dandruff), leads to a whole lot of…

This.

Now you see her…

Now you don’t!

Please don’t envy me too much though, because it was 15 degrees this morning…

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A danged dog’s life…

Dogs have always been a cherished part of my family. In searching through old photos, I laugh when I find writing scrawled on the back, listing not the human’s name, but the dog’s.

Gramp Ferry had a dog. Used it to hunt rattlers in Arizona. His name was “Tootsy.” What a sweet name for a snake killer.

Gramp Blaine had a dog, don’t know his name, but how about something like “King” or “Brutus?”

Okay, I know he was short, but this dog is also enormous…

Now, we have two dogs, Bella and Maggie. Bella came into our life late – we adopted her when she was nine. With our old girl, Maggie (she’s ten), our family’s complete. You couldn’t get two more opposite creatures. When I look at Bella, I can tell she’s thinking, “love” as in, “I love you, I love to eat, I love to play soccer. Would you love to play soccer with me?”

And when I look at Maggie I hear, “You want me to do what with what? There better be a biscuit involved, because if there’s not you can count me out. And that stick? Go fetch it yourself. I’ve better things to do.”

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of fall leaves and jaded Vermonters…

Say the word “Peak” in Vermont and tourists hurry to snap their pictures, eager to capture that moment of splendor when the leaves are at their zenith, their pinnacle of color. Vermonters know one good wind and a bit of rain will bring all that color raining to the ground.

Jaded? Nah, we’d choose the word “realistic.” We know what the trees know… winter is not far off.

Here are the brief colors of the woods this past week. I hope you enjoy these photos taken with my simple camera. That is to say, my cell phone.

even Sarah’s little bonzai tree knows what time of year it is…

this photo was snapped four days ago…

…and this is what it looks like today.

And, see? Here are the woods around my home now. Bare limbs and dull colors. Ah, time to start the fire in the wood stove and curl up with a good book…

Being not a bit shy, I’d like to invite you to my other blog: http://letterstorosa.wordpress.com. There you’ll find stories about my rural family written in the form of letters to my Great-gram, Rosa Blair.

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