I had such great plans…

I love summer. Not so much a fan of the cold, spring is too muddy, and I get sad in the fall when all the leaves start to turn and I know that it will be gray and brown for months.

But summer…this is my season. My hair gets natural highlights, my energy level shoots up and I want to be outside all the time. For a few months I turn into a more experienced (and currently landlocked) version of the beach girl I was in my youth. I can garden and cut back on the regular food pyramidy meals we eat to indulge my families cravings for sweet corn and chips ‘n salsa dinners.

Winter makes me sad, but still lifes like this make me happy.

Winter makes me sad, but still lifes like this make me happy.

I had really high expectations (probably because I have a crappy memory and forgot how ready I was for it to end last August). I planned things for the kids- camps and sports and organized outings. Middle son informed me that 4 out of 5 mornings he had to go to the gym to workout for football, but that was cool. I was ready.

Now the kids have been out of school for two full months.


It’s been a non-stop mom-taxi fest. All that stuff? They had to GET THERE. Older child only had her driver’s permit so I had to be in the car, middle child had to get his permit…so I had to drive him back and forth to the testing center (he didn’t test all that great). Once he passed, we had to begin logging his hours behind the wheel.

Kid one at the wheel

Kid one at the wheel

Kid two at the wheel

Kid two at the wheel

I got to drive for 4 hours-TWICE- so eldest could attend Girl’s State and all I could think of was that at this time next year, she will be packing to go off to college.

In her dorm room...for a week. But it's foreshadowing, isn't it?

In her dorm room…for a week. But it’s foreshadowing, isn’t it?

I got to race several thunderstorms during baseball season and was just told that we will be playing fall ball, too.


We went to watch others play baseball, and played so much ball in the yard there are worn spots in the grass.

The boys fished. A lot.

20140604_070752 redo

I created the Drunken Kumquat (Kumquat poked with corn skewer + whipped cream vodka in a bottle in a cool place for a week); I ate a lot of Drunken Kumquats.

With some of the soaking vodka and lime sparkling water.

With some of the soaking vodka and lime sparkling water.

In sangria

In sangria

I got to drive people place, get people ready to go places and then pick them up when they were finished. In theory it’s the last summer I have to do this, but I’m not sad about giving taxi duties for all up. Maybe I will feel differently at this time next year.


So the kids are having a really great summer and I am sliding around on the sweat that happens when nekid thigh meets hot leather mini-van seats.

I still love summer…but because we couldn’t swing a vacation this year and I feel that we are overstaying our Staycation- I’m ready for it to be over.

Since it’s not, I’ll go back outside take some pictures of my garden and remind myself why I love summer.

I made a fairy garden this summer.

I made a fairy garden this summer.


My Green Passenger

I’ve been on a Dexter Netflixbender lately. Dexter Morgan is a serial killer with a code, a created conscience in his psychopath’s brain that helps him pick his targets- usually always someone who had murdered, slipped through the cracks of the legal system and will murder again. Kind of a sick twist on Robin Hood- steal the life from the bad, so the good survive. He calls the part of himself that has the need to kill his, “Dark Passenger.”

I have a Green Passenger.

Unlike Dexter’s she is about life, not death.

She sleeps most of the winter, content to keep alive the herb garden of planters that I bring inside before the first frost. Water, pinch back, fertilize, repeat. All winter. Sometimes she tends to the plants overwintered in the garage and saves eggshells in a container under the sink for fertilizer, but mostly she’s quiet…dormant.

Then it turns warm. The grass begins to green, buds and tiny shoots of dormant plants appear and she comes out of her slumber.

She wants to get her hands dirty.

She needs to get her hands dirty.

But other than clearing out flower beds and starting seedlings, there isn’t much she can do.

So I’m trying to appease her, trying to quiet her roar.

Yesterday she drove me to the nursery. There wasn’t a lot out to look at, but I found some succulents for a bowl I’m planning for the porch.

I caught myself caressing these babies like they were a…err…nevermind. I like plants. But not in some weird fetish kinda way.

I swear.

Nursery succulent haul

Nursery succulent haul

My Green Passenger also had thrown a few small houseplants into my grocery store shopping cart a few weeks back. They have been in their original containers, but displayed in a pretty bowl on my dining room table. My Green Passenger didn’t want to empty the dishwasher and change light bulbs this morning, she wanted to transplant them.

So we did.


But even that wasn’t enough. She wanted to do more. The succulents aren’t ready to be transplanted yet, but we could get the containers ready, right?

Pretty pots that I want are usually beyond my budget, so I try to think outside the pot. I’ve been using baskets for years- line them with Press and Seal Wrap, poke a couple holes in the bottom and fill with potting soil. A few years ago I found how easy it was to poke holes in metal containers: nail+hammer=hole. Combined with painting clay or plastic pots (there is spray paint for plastics) , I’ve been content with the found planters I’ve created.

This year I added a new material and have been on a melamine bowl bender. (It seems I may have a bender driven personality?) They make colorful, unique planters and are cheap enough that swapping them out when I get tired of the current color scheme doesn’t hurt one bit.

And it’s super easy.

Tape over the inside and outside of the bottom with  tape- I've used painter's and duct with great results.

Tape over the inside and outside of the bottom- I’ve used painter’s and duct with great results.

Drill, Baby, drill!

Drill, Baby, drill!

Bigger bowls need enough holes for drainage

Bigger bowls need enough holes for drainage


Add to the stack of other planters ready to be filled and decorate my porch as soon as it gets warm enough.wpid-20140404_110537.jpg

My Green Passenger is eyeing all the bare roots and summer bulbs that she managed to squirrel away as winter went on and on and on. I don’t really know if I can hold her back.

I don’t know if I want to.



Conflicting Zones


I know what being in the zone feels like. I know the high that comes from doing things I love, of pouring myself into them and pushing my reserves until they are drained. I know what it feels like to fall into bed aching from a day of fierce gardening, or with my brain a sponge twisted dry from taking a vague thought and giving it access out my fingers.

I know that feeling and I want it now.

This minute.

But it’s not here.

I can’t garden today because I have inside work; I can write but my eye keeps glancing out the window.

At the greening grass.


Hello, Robin.

At the decay of the blooms that brightened my earth last year and now stand like dried flags trying to get my attention. “Tend me!” “Care for me!”

Some days I get to pick my high, but some days my high is picked for me. And today’s has been chosen.

sukie eli


Hello, Spring


I knew, in my brain, that it was coming- but my heart (and toes) had a different idea. This winter was long, and cold and seemingly endless.

But end it must.

The first day of spring arrived. The very moment that it did, I turned to the woman next to me, “It’s spring! Would you like to wave “good-bye” to winter?

I was hoping that I had a flipping-off partner, but alas- the Walmart cashier wasn’t up for it.

So I celebrated in my own way.

I stocked up on these. Anyone with a decent flavored vodka collection knows that these are pretty good mixers...and they are water so rehydrated WHILE cocktailing. doublewin.

I stocked up on these. Anyone with a decent flavored vodka collection knows that these are pretty good mixers…and they are water so rehydrating WHILE cocktailing. Doublewin.


I started stocking up on porch reads a while ago. It’s still too chilly to read outside, but the time is coming. And I’ve almost finished one of these from the couch. Like I could wait to read that…pfftt- no.


The seed collection is growing, these are ones I put in every year.

Okay, sure I'll have to take them inside when it snows or gets really cold (this weekend) but for one glorious 70 degree day- it was spring and, damn it! I was going to get my hands in some dirt and plant something.

Okay, sure I’ll have to take them inside when it snows or gets really cold (this weekend) but for one glorious 70 degree day- it was spring and, damn it! I was going to get my hands in some dirt and plant something.

My toes are still cold and I have yet to pedicure them, but it will happen soon. I bought strappy sandals a month ago and I’ll be ready to wear them as soon as the piggies defrost.

Happy spring, wanna wave “good-bye” to winter with me?

Alone…but not really


“I love you, have a great day! Be smart and proud of what you do!”

He grumbled something at me as the rear van door slid closed, put his head down and joined the stream of grade school kids shuffling into school.

It’s been a week since he did that school-shuffle. A week of snow days. We managed better than some, more cabin-fevery than others, but it was time to go back. I had dropped the older two off  at the high school an hour prior and for the first time in weeks I was alone.

A week of snow days.

A week of Daughter sick with some mystery virus.

A week of Husband sick with confirmed flu.

Two weeks of me sick with the flu.

Two weeks of Christmas break.

The last time I was alone as I went about my day and my projects it was still 2013.

For six full hours today I am alone.

At first I went about my Monday chores- I did laundry, changed the  bed sheets, tidied- up the weekend debris field.

Then I sat at my desk, ready to get back to my projects. But I was as overwhelmed by their voices as I had been by those of my family. Adding to the cacophony, deadlines loomed: a self-imposed deadline tomorrow, an editor one the day after and more. I had a long list and nothing stopping me from doing it, nothing that needed immediate attention or a sandwich or fresh glass of water and medicine.

It was just me…alone and alone me was stalled by enormity of the project list. Which was most important? The one due tomorrow, or the one that I had been working on the longest? For a woman alone, there was a lot of chatter at my desk.

“Me!” Said the short story halfway done.

“Us!” Said the women in the novel mid-revision.

“Ahem?” Said the contest entry that was only an idea.

“DUDE!” Said the kids from the novel that I started two years ago and is still  a rough draft.

“Kaching!” Said the paid work.

“Darling? Please?” Said the stack of research books that needed to become organized notes.

Then something at the side of my desk caught my confused and alone eye.

The unwrapped stack of index cards represented me at this moment. Ready and waiting for someone to fill them with story ideas, plot lines, chapter summaries and character sketches. The white cards were waiting for names of women to research, outlines of courageous lives lived and places to explore. The blank pages ready for one line hooks and points of an essay.

But they were as wrapped up as I had been the past month and a half.

I slid my nail along the edge to create an opening, then wrestled the plastic wrapper off .

I unwrapped the potential.

November Something Something

I began the month by writing myself a note:

Dear Future Susan,

Welcome back to the party. It’s barely 7AM on Friday, November 1st, 2013. You were out Trick or Treating last night, and slept VERY well (with Noah, he wanted to snuggle). The kids have the day off from school, Luke is watching Sports Center (really loudly, I might add), Noah is playing Minecraft on your phone in your bed, and Bekah is still asleep. You are in your basement office.

 Your hair is a mess, and you have just now (cheers, by the way), celebrated the beginning of Nanowrimo 2013 with your first sip of coffee (light, hazelnut creamer). You are in your pajamas.

You are about to unleash Sukie Abrams and Bess Stanhope.

These two women have been haunting you for about a year.

They brought friends who are lining up behind them waiting to share their stories with you. You might want to stock up on coffee and liquor. Just saying.

Sukie and Bess have been very patient while you did other things this past year, but they want OUT. NOW.

Take another sip of coffee and make it so.

Happy Nanowrimo.

Be kind to yourself, trust the process…and maybe comb your hair.


Past Susan

Ps: Noah is going to come downstairs just as you type your first word and ask where Brian hid the Halloween candy. Brian won’t tell you because Noah cussed at him. You will coin the phrase, “spawn of an asshole.” Not directed at anyone in particular, it just made you laugh. Use that one someplace.

 For 19 days I stole time to sequester myself from the family in my office. Several beverages (11 cups of coffee, 10 hot tea, 8 ice water, 3 iced tea, 2 hot toddies, and 2 hard ciders) later…I saw this: 


I forgot to take the picture yesterday, that’s why it says day 20

I love the image of someone alone with their thoughts, able to give in to the voices in her head , getting up to pace and ponder… but the fact is that I stole the time from other things, the kids talked to me sometimes while I typed or they sat on the sofa next to me and read. I missed a few writing days organizing notes and recording another podcast with Beckett…and have yet to do my part in getting the shownotes ready for that episode’s release.

I didn’t watch any TV except one episode of Once Upon a Time and one of Glee and only because they are shows I watch with a kid- even if the kid who is supposed to be watching the former with me really does it so he can steal my phone, snuggle me on the coach and play Minecraft. Family tradition always trumps voices in my head.

I had other work to do, food to get on the table, daily chores that needed to be done- life went on as normal and I stole the time I could to cross the finishline.

The part of the fine print of Nano that I doubt most who undertake it the first year realize: 50,000 words is  not a novel. Women’s fiction, which I’ve been writing, is at least 70K (for a Chick Lit) and up to the 90K range. When I  posted the victorious achievement Rocky music on my facebook page the story that I am writing was only 3/4 finished. And 3/4 of a rough draft at that. Like most every rough draft that I write, it was slapped down very quickly. I don’t even know what’s really in there.

Yes, many Nanos have gone on to be published…most have not. But this doesn’t diminish the achievement for anyone. The completion of the act was the goal, working that to a readable condition is a whole other race for another time.

I can prattle on about what just sitting my fanny in a chair and writing towards that 50K line has done for me personally, but I won’t. I’ve done that before- but I will say this: This is my 4th Nano. Each year has personally been as different as the stories I wrote.

Last year, 2012, over 340,000 people participated in Nanowrimo, just over 38,000 finished. That is 38,000 different stories, 38,000 different people with 38,000 different reasons for participating.

And this year I add my fourth story, my 4th reason and my 4th set of challenges to my own personal tale.


I thought I was soooo ahead of the game. Weeks ago I had my act together and squared away Noah’s Halloween costume.

It’s a long story, but here are the key points.

1. I have always made the kids costumes, it’s my thing- the only thing that gave me Super Mom Cred. I took pride in it and when people said to my children, ” You are the most adorable (fairy/dinosaur/lighteningbolt/spinachcan/Max/goldfish) on the street!” I beamed.

2. This year Noah wanted a store bought Boba Fett costume.

3. He used my own lesson of learning to adapt and roll with it on me. I had no rebuttal.

4. Boba and blaster-weapon (which also went against my usual rules) were purchased and hung in his closet for weeks.

Boba Fett hanging with costumes of years past in Noah's closet (staged. He's EIGHT. No eight year old has a tidy closet with only Halloween costumes in it.)

Boba Fett hanging with costumes of years past in Noah’s closet (staged. He’s EIGHT. No eight year old has a tidy closet with only Halloween costumes in it.)

A week before Halloween Noah had his class party. Why so early? Parent/Teacher conferences were set for Halloween and the day after. Yes, right. No school ON HALLOWEEN or THE DAY AFTER.  Yippee.

But, Noah had his party and I got called to do a work thing right as it was starting and it’s a horrible choice to have to make… but I didn’t go to his party. He got himself in his costume, and according to him, I was the only parent not there.

I found this very hard to believe but when he got off the bus a wave of Mama Guilt busted the banks and slammed into me- I couldn’t argue. He looked so…so…so pathetic. He shuffled his feet home, hand covering the tear in the tushy that showed me he had left his boxer shorts on while the back of the costume was so tight it wouldn’t close. I was awash with guilt, he was flashing the rest of the kids on the bus.

His beloved Boba Fett suddenly was tiny Boba Fett.

A week before Halloween

A week before Halloween

Young Master Noah had a serious growth spurt in October, this costume fit him a month before. The pants went down to his sneakers then, but now? Monster Wedgie.

After having paid for a costume the thought of spending MORE money on Halloween made me feel a Monster Wallet Wedgie.

So we spent a couple valuable days brainstorming costume ideas based on materials we had available.

The thrill of costume making that I normally had was gone as we rushed with limited time and materials.

But we did it together and it’s one of those crazy memories that we will always have.

“Hey, Mom,” 35 year-old Noah will say, “remember that time I grew and we had to make a costume right before Halloween?”

“Yes, Son,” I’ll shout because I am hard of hearing and assume everyone else is, too.” You were the most adorable ketchup bottle with a Star Wars blaster on the street.”

We're making the thing over his face a mask, it didn't have holes in it when I took the picture.

We’re making the thing over his face a mask, it didn’t have holes in it when I took the picture.

On the back lable, he wrote it.  If that sucker wasn't hot clued onto the shirt within an inch of it's life, I would shove it in his babybook.

The back lable-he wrote it. If that sucker wasn’t hot glued onto the shirt within an inch of it’s life, I would shove it in his babybook.

Life a little off-center

Welcome! There is a pitcher of both white and red sangria in the kitchen. I made coffee and hot chocolate (and have the special Adult Add Ins on the bar). Help yourself to cookies, or veggies or a slice of cake and come hang out on the porch with me.

porch 13

Find a chair or a railing, make yourself comfy

Let me introduce you to the three people who create the most drama, love, excitement, and rewards and who make this house possible:

Beks snow

Eldest child. Older than she looks, as nerdy as her mom

first day twentyone

Elder son- Jock/Theater Kid Hybrid who eats a lot. This was his first course that night.

first day ten

My sweet, ‘Oh, it’s not menopause, it’s a baby’ kid. Knows far more than any child his age should.

Why “Life a little off-center”? I like to garden and have a photography background so I have taken entirely too many pictures of my flowers. When you photograph a flower you have to look carefully -is there anything in the frame that will distract from this beautiful bud? Is the flash off so that the colors will be their richest and most natural? Does what is in the frame show the best part of the flower? And, just when I think what I see in the viewfinder is perfect, I turn things just slightly off-center. Why? It makes for a more interesting picture. Anyone can fill a frame with a flower and it will be beautiful, but I like to set it off just a bit to make it uniquely mine.



Ordinary dahlia (gardening joke, no dahlia is ordinary) on a sunny, bright day


Same bright and sunny dahlia looked at slightly off center


Or maybe play with the lighting to add some mood. Same plant, cloudy day

Same plant, same cloudy day, same ant crawling up my leg but a little off center

Same plant, same cloudy day, same ant crawling up my leg but a little off-center

What any photographer can tell you about composition, I want to apply to what I post here. I want to take something ordinary (family joke, no one’s life is ordinary), and look at it a little off-center.


Hi. But wait.

Welcome to my new blog home, it’s not really decorated yet, just a shell of opportunity. I have plans, big glorious plans…but I’m in the middle of something else and can’t quite give this space the energy it deserves right now. Life. Hardy har har.

I’ll be back to fill this up, I will.

But not today.

I’ll make cookies and Sangria, maybe some hot chocolate and have a nice housewarming soon. I promise.

See you in a bit!


Yup, kids...Mom will be back to post all kinds of really great stories and jokes and stuff. Aren't you excited?

Yup, kids…Mom will be back to post all kinds of really great stories and jokes and stuff.  Maybe she can even figure out how to merge her old blog with this one! Classic stories, new site! Aren’t you excited?