Archive for the ‘Family’ category


June 20, 2018

pink 400


A couple posts ago I showed you this little pink cloud in the  evening above my hotel down here in Florida . . . .

It caught my attention.    A sunset is attractive.  It’s  pretty.    It could turn us to thinking of higher things.    But it could also get us thinking about  “the sunset of a person’s life.”  The closing of a day/the closing of a life.


You could write poems about  a person’s life “drawing to a close.”   There are sweet songs,   some  bluegrass songs that I know,  about a man knowing his life is ending . . .   and looking back on his life.

Another song about an older man’s acknowledgment that he will be leaving this world soon,  you know?   And how he wishes his son would come to know Jesus so that they will be together when both die . . .  It’s called   “Father’s Table Grace, ” something like that.  His son was at the table and heard his father’s prayer –  and he changed his life around.  A happy ending.

But I am here in Florida, 1,500 miles from home because my very own young sister has apparently reached the end of her life.  It’s been a kind of difficult day.  I helped her move into a nursing home for hospice care.   We were optimistic and very grateful for the space.

But the reality is . . .  no,  the end of a life has some very ugly, painful,  terrible sensations to endure.

The surroundings can be nice,  but the person’s body is failing.

Not all sunsets are pretty.


In Catholic evening prayers,  your nightly prayers,  you pray for “those who are dying today” and that God will be with them somehow in their last agony.    It used to be something I  “included”  in  my prayers.    I meant it,  but I didn’t understand it.

Up to now.

praying at sunset



June 13, 2018


cloud formation above a Florida parking lot


Well, it helps to look up,  look above;  have your head in the clouds . . .   really,  above  the clouds,  beyond the clouds . . . .

I didn’t drive this far south for my own entertainment.  My sister who lives here is ill and will not get better.    She’s way too young for that . . . .  but that’s what’s been on my mind during these last few days of absence from The Spruce Tunnel.

There are a lot of things to consider, decisions to make,  conversations to have, comfort and companionship to give, actual physical help to give . . . .  And all  because a young women has a destination,  “above” those clouds.

Your perspective changes drastically when a lifespan is spoken of in terms of “weeks”  by a doctor who can’t help any more.   It will come to all of us some day, because most of us won’t die suddenly and instantly somehow,  we’ll die with time to think about the certainty of what’s coming.

All of us live here:

earth 390

I don’t mean on that blue-marble earth,  I mean — well, see that very thin blue outline in this NASA photo around the planet?  A very, very thin, solid blue line.

That thin blue line is a photo of our atmosphere.  That’s the whole extent of  all the miles of air we must live in to breathe.    That’s where we live our lives,  between the earth and the bottom part of that thin blue line.

That’s all we’ve got.   A thin blue line around the earth and one short lifespan is all we’re given.   It seems a little precarious.

It just does really  matter that we live with our “heads in the clouds.”  Above the clouds.  Beyond the clouds — all the way to the Creator of clouds, of earth, of us.

pink 400

a random pink cloud floating above my hotel

God thought each of us up,  loved the idea of us, then put us here for a very  short time to watch and see if we are making our way back to Him.    Today I can see for sure what I always suspected:   when you have only months or weeks to live,  your body is too busy working at staying alive and feeling miserable for your mind to be able to think about where you might be going,  and doing something about it.

My sister didn’t wait till the last minute –  that is a comfort to her and to me.    Comfort is going to be sorely needed . . . .

We’re all right now, together.   My sister is just going on ahead of me.

“Up above,”  as we commonly say.





March 8, 2018


Because of the latest ad campaign from Madison Avenue on  this beautiful island  —


—  I am reminded that I choose today to NOT be a “woman”!

At least not this kind!


I’m not celebrating the Leftist, Global Socialist, Agenda-Driven Exclusive International Women’s Day.

And neither are these women:



And neither are the 22 MILLION women who were chopped to pieces,  swirled around by a vacuum extractor until they died,   or painfully burned to death by a strong saline solution  — before they got a chance to get out of the womb.  (Let’s deal in facts.) —



But I do respectfully remind the international women to remember these,  their sisters.

They, and I, are not like you.


Some of us have a higher calling –  our homes!

hgher calling


Wife.  Mother.   Homemaker.   Helper.  Counselor.    Wise and Intelligent family manager.    Maker of refinement and beauty in the home.  

And religious anchor of the family:

relig anchor

Without family,  society cannot hold together.







January 17, 2018

(America,  between two weekends)


He can’t help it that he’s so small. 


Cuddle Up, Baby Boy

We should be cuddling him by now.

When I was in college,  I worked in a pediatrics ward in a nearby hospital.    Occasionally we received a premature baby, and although we didn’t have “modern” technology, we  did everything we could, including holding and cuddling and encouraging the little thing to breathe and drink.

One day they brought to me a baby who weighed one pound, eight ounces.  I held  him in my hands —  my one hand, really.   His little head fit in the palm of my hand.     The doctors said he wouldn’t live,  but I gently touched him, stroked him,  cuddled him with my fingers, massaged his cheek so he would suck on the specially-made baby bottle nipple.    Well, he did live and he was transferred out in a month or so.

I more than fell in love with him –  I fell in love with life;  with  the tenacity of a living child holding on to life;  I fell in love with the fragility of life.     He had been in the womb for less than six months – and he made it.

The baby in the photo above didn’t make it.  Didn’t even make it out of the womb.

We can’t help it that we start out so small.

cant help it that hes small

It’s the way Nature works.    It’s the way God works through what we call “nature.”    It is His providence that we start so small and protected.

Protected in our mothers’ wombs.

We are between two weekends that are very significant to American citizens.   Yes,  I know all about the “dark side” of “Dr.”  Martin Luther King –  those facts have been around long enough — but you know what?   His message has been around a long time too.  His message has endured, and I’m kind of an MLK kind of girl:   You look at the character of a man,  not at the color of his skin.

It’s just part of our country now,  unless you listen to the desperate fiction that comes out of the drama-dependent  entertainment-news media.   American everyday life isn’t like the furiously angry people you see on television.    And it doesn’t have to be that way in small pockets of inner urban areas.

Martin Luther King was a minister of a protestant church,  and most of his family still believe as he did and still try to get out his main message.     It’s okay to celebrate his life and his message,  as we did last weekend.

Now there’s another weekend coming up:

mlk babies in the womb

Alveda King bridges the time between these two weekends,  one honoring King and one honoring and advocating the safety of our unborn American citizens.

Is that being broadcast on the entertainment-news media televisions stations?

Because the March For Life people have a message too.

life love


Holding that tiny little baby boy confirmed my Love for Life.   I still get tears in my eyes just thinking about him – and all his tiny fellow-citizens waiting to be born.

God bless these people:

life3 poster



January 7, 2018


Well, yesterday’s post was a little complex – and serious.    I still mean every word – even all the words I didn’t write  so it wouldn’t become extraordinarily long.

holy family the

Feast of the Holy Family

I meant just to say,  “Look around you, look at the world around you – and although there is much to learn and study and analyze,  yet still in a small way,  each of us is called  to actually act upon what we know.

Today’s remembrance within  Christendom centers on the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, put before us as our model of family life.   Our sermon was about what makes up a family in general;  I would have wished to hear more about the qualities of the Holy Family, but that’s okay,  that was his choice,  and nothing stops me from finding out more writings about these qualities on my own.


st theres familyThe family of St. Therese of Lesieux –


But that’s my point from yesterday, I guess.   Find out something in society that is good, that makes life strong and stable, and since we can all acknowledge that we don’t have that commonly anymore,  find out what went wrong, and what  can be done about it.  That’s a doable task for each individual person.

Take “family,”  for instance,  the theme for this day.


her whole family

The entire family of St. Therese, mother on left, father on right.


I’ve had lots of decades of TV viewing under my belt.   (Lots!)    I can truly say with sorrow that I’ve witnessed the disintegration and degradation of TV families,  so until now we hardly know — or rather we hardly dare define what a family really is.  We must be “politically correct” and “inclusive”  — so “they” tell us.   *

But “they” are wrong.   I’ve witnessed the sorrow and regretful longing implicit in so many movies and television series of the past two decades . . .  almost as though the writers know they are missing something precious, and this society can never have it  back.

HOLY FAMILY and st therese

(I have this painting at home,  but this photo  is apparently from “Restored Tradition.”   It shows St. Therese visiting the Holy Family – to learn as well as to pay homage.   Of course, she is separated by many centuries from the Holy Family,  but there is truth here:  we can all “visit”  this model of family love,  and also learn.  But as she,  the visit must be on bended knee.)

It’s not just sadness among  young adults because their family was messed up.      There are serious and dangerous society implications too,  all reflected in our entertainment that seems rudderless, pointless,  and rather despairing.

How do we turn around the loss of Family?    Can we repair this mess we’ve made of family life?       We need a model.    What is the “real dollar bill”  and what is the counterfeit?   We need to know the difference, and we need to know what difference it makes.

Then in our small way, one person at a time,  make our family a good one, perhaps modeled after the Holy Family.



.*   This presentation of devolving family life is also seen in children’s books, especially their school “readers.”      My Grandson Cooper loves reading the Dick and Jane books of the 1950’s;  he finds them interesting and logical,  fun and safe.     By the time I was teaching school, “they” had taken away wholesome family life and substituted all the politically correct wrong ideas about what the word family could mean.

That generation of children grew up imitating the broken families that they had read about their schoolbooks.

Their children know “something” is wrong with the way their parents lived, lived apart,  broke up their families,  blended new groups together . . .

And their children’s children wish to do something about it.


December 28, 2017

We participated in our country’s Christmas snowstorms.    Enjoy a little snowy drive with  me.

It’s enough to give weather forecasting a bad name:

1 temp pic

See that weather forecast for  O   in.  of precipitation?    As in no inches for Christmas Day.    Well,  this is what it was doing outside:

1 backyard storm

About 7 inches, Christmas Day.  Not as much as what some of you had, I know.

It was beautiful, but I had to drive out  to Christmas Mass in all that snow.   Snow  plows on vacation, I think.

2.2 snowy branches

Other cars had gone before me and cleared some tracks.  Honestly,  it was a pretty day.

6 white out

Roads got better in the city, but it was harder to see.

Here’s the skyline of our little city with the big capitol building right straight up ahead:

6.8 Skyline up

Our clock tower:


I was going to make it in time,   to a snowy, misty church building —

5.5 church arrived

Again,  really lovely in the snowfall.

Sleepy as I was that early in the morning and challenging as the drive was,  I’m glad I made the effort.    It always feels better after being present for a Mass,  feels brighter and stronger inside me;    and then,  even the sky changed on my way home.

5 Sunburst

The sky had turned an “innocent blue”   in just about an hour.

5.5 Innocent blue sky

On my way into the city, I could hardly see the beautiful  campus I drive through,  but now the buildings could be seen clearly.

7 sunny campus buildings

I always enjoy their classic beauty.   This   is just one  little peek.     It’s a large Big Ten campus.   There’s a very nice “other” church in the  campus area:

8 sunny campus church

It’s one of those friendly, all-purpose churches where there’s nothing too much to believe in, you just have to be nice, be friendly to everyone.  I think it’s called an “open”  church.  I’ve been inside when one of my children had a concert in there.  It’s really, really pretty, all stone, even around the large wrap-around second-story choir lofts.     Stone walls, stone floors.     Dark wood benches, if I remember correctly.     Like the inside of a castle . . . .

Arriving home, the clouds returned,  but everything was nice and frosted in my neighborhood  –

4 frosted christmnas trees

Ready to have my little California family start their Christmas Day.

Later on those California people and Son traveled all the way off to festivities in Detroit on a day of plunging temperatures.    Here are Detroiters, bundled up in  -9 degrees:

Fireworks 380

That’s  minus 9.   Bundled up !  and watching fireworks.

Daughter’s face;  playing around — outdoors:

Dauighter Too 260

They all had brought their ice skates but there was too many other things to do in the city.

Cities can be so glamorous during Christmas holiday season.

Cold too, so they had “warming centers”  which were actually pretty nice.    Here are the three big guys of my little family at an activity center in the “warming tent”:

Detroit Market 260

Weather was a big player in our Christmas celebrations.


bars xmas boughs and bells


One big holiday recommendation:   Forget what all the critics are saying about the new Star Wars movie, positive or negative.  Just go see   Star Wars: The Last Jedi – and preferably in 3D!    Enjoy the fun!

‘Tis the Season for merriment!!!!!! 








December 21, 2017

Our wedding photo.

Hubbie and I were married on this day, a “few” years ago.

Dec 21 380


Just  .  .  .   If you have a mother and no longer  a father;  or if you have a father and no longer a mother;    just know that the anniversary of the surviving spouse is still . . .  their anniversary day.    It will always be a special day,  full of unsayable memories.

Love is worth all the heartache and sadness it can bring.



May 15, 2017

(Just so The Spruce Tunnel has a record . . . )

I know,  it’s a day late,  but that’s because “it”  was Mother’s Day –  and I was kept busy!

The day started, as it should,  with a seriously good Mass – actual contact with the Creator!      Then Son had sent me a reassuring text informing me that he “had the whole day free . . .”  We weren’t always together,  but he was  . . .    here.

I,  the “mother,” did  “whatever I wanted to do!    I read,  I napped,  I puttered around in the kitchen,  I did a little sewing work on a new summer top,  I watched another episode of my very favorite video series from Italy, and from time to time visited Son who was keeping busy outside, on my behalf.

(I might have worked him too hard.)

A digger

He is closing up a long trench in which he laid drainage pipes.

A trench

I know I needed them.   Son understands why I needed them.

We had a visitor for a while:

A snake cr

He seemed to be enjoying the sunlight.   Fascinating.   We were also visited by a lively, happy woodchuck who was busy running here and there,  munching on the water weeds near the backyard pond.      Nice to have time to enjoy these little critters.

The lawn is nearing perfection this summer, under Son’s care:

A Lawn

I said I was puttering around the kitchen.   Son was taking care of the Main Course:

A grill

. . .  and we put our work together —

A dinner cr

. . .    just in time to watch some really good movies.

And Daughter?  

A cell

A very nice, very long distance phone call – and not at all rushed! (A mother can tell if you’re under time constraints.)         And then there was a Kazoo concert,  via cell phone –  from  Cooper!  –  followed by a lot of Kindergarten news!       (Thank you for sharing with your Grandma.)




Mother’s Day is one of the great highlights of my whole year, and I have to explain why:   For fifteen years I was an “only child,”  so I guess that’s long enough for me to have many “only child”  characteristics –  and feelings.    The Great Alone.   When I first became pregnant,  my world changed:  I knew I would never, ever be “alone”  again.   My daughter,  my son;   two other human beings in this world would always be a part of me, and I would belong to them.

This Mother’s Day was a good one.     Son and Daughter were both “present.”

a rose

Be good to your Moms.




December 18, 2016


My Dad.   Probably in December.    Holding a . . . baby . . .  (any hunters know what that is?)

It would be typical of my Dad,  who did hunt at times,  to notice a small baby game bird on the ground on a cold winter day,  and then pick it up gently,  check to see if it were hurt or something.

Today,  December 18th is his birthday — and I wish he could be here to tell me more about this picture.    I wish, too, that I had seen this photo of him when I was a little girl.  It would have added texture and perspective to what I was learning of him as I was growing up.   Perhaps he would not have been so utterly  powerful and “scary.”

And I wish we hadn’t lived 1,200 miles apart from each other because I would have liked to have gotten to know him, not as “a dad,”  but more as a man.    That knowledge came slowly.  Perhaps that’s natural,  but the more I knew about him as a man,  the the more the “scary dad” figure I had diminished,  and I could see all the real parts of him:   musician,  jazz genius;  Les Paul and Mary Ford,  Tommy Dorsey . . . .  Gave it all up for his “family.”   Me and Mom.

Electronics genius.  there was nothing he couldn’t do with electronics and nothing he couldn’t invent to solve an electronic problem,  including   “how to design a colored television so it could be mass produced.”    Helped make the Raytheon company big, in that department.     Gave that career path up too because World war Two took him out of high school and he felt he could never get in on the college degree path.

A man who lived under the certain knowledge that God exists — and that God is indeed God and Lord, no matter how very tough his life got for him.

Above all,  he was a strictly,  strongly moral man who could be depended upon to always be right!    Especially in social matters.   And as I was growing up:  “The Times They Are A-Changing.”

Whatever.     My Dad was right about that too.

We children,  whatever age  we are,  are supposed to have received and grown into the wisdom of our fathers.   

Our Dads   plus   us —  that makes the new generation.

Without our dads,  the world is pretty hard to understand:


But we can be pretty secure following in the wisdom – and footsteps – of our dads:



Dad –  Happy Birthday.   I’m hanging on to what you showed me.



October 6, 2016

Local Florida Weatherman:  “Catastrophic is a terrible word.  I can’t even believe it’s coming out of my mouth.”



“The biggest storm on the planet right now.”   (Weather Channel)

“Escaping”  along I-4 westbound at  14  m.p.h.     Tonight and tomorrow I-95  will be “undrivable.”

Winds will be 145 m.p.h.  when they hit my sister (and her city of Melbourne)  and then sustained winds of 90 –  120 m.p.h.  with a storm surge of 9 feet more or less.    I don’t think my sister lives that far above the ocean.

Here’s her house in better weather:



Last time,  when my sister held her cell phone out the window during the last (smaller)  hurricane so I could hear the winds passing by,   what I heard instead was their neighbor’s roof crashing by!    Weird –  but seriously dangerous and chaotic.

I’ve been to Vero Beach,  I’ve swam at Sebastian Inlet, at  Melbourne Beach,   Cocoa Beach,  Ponce Inlet,  I love the Ferris wheel at Daytona Beach —  I tell this to myself because these are real places, real people down there,   and I can hardly match the size and severity of this storm with real “ordinary”  places.

Governor Scott states:  “This storm can kill you.”

Heard from my sister tonight – sort of a good-bye for a while.  She doesn’t know when she’ll get her power back or her cell phone recharged enough to signal an A-OK.

It will be a long night of watching this storm on TV and on the Internet — but an even longer night for her, huddled down in the room she designated as her safe room.

Hope it is.


October 5, 2016


The Barrier Islands are being evacuated today.


The east coast of Florida has these long, long narrow islands that hug the mainland,  and on one of those islands is my beautiful home-away-from-home.

You have to cross a bridge to get there, one like this:


Fun.   When you travel a lot to the same destination, you develop your favorite spots,   and on the ocean side of that barrier island is “my”  beautiful hotel room.


Yep,  I’m  advertising for them.

This is my “Florida Past.”   Beautiful, pretty pastels,  clean, friendly,  affordable in the off-season,  walking distance to beachfront stores and restaurants,  and your own private door opens out onto the sandy ocean beach.

Here’s looking through my living room window:


This is  my shoe and my skirt pointing out to the surf one relaxing evening.


The last time I was there was a sad trip, though.   I  arrived to visit my mother just one day before she died.    Took me by surprise, and I spent a little time grieving on the beach.


Storm Clouds

This storm came in from the west and  hung low over the beach.

Florida Present:

Hurricane Matthew is going to come in from the southeast, and it will be a lot worse.

Now, with the weather update,  I find both my sisters are in harm’s way;  both are under a hurricane warning, one just a few miles from the beach,  the other inland a bit more.

One sister writes that she “doesn’t like the look of this storm.”   If she talks like our Dad used to talk,  that’s a magnificent understatement.

Millions of people are worried about this storm too.

I just remember “my” beautiful hotel on that Barrier Island:


I hope it’s still standing after this week.

It feels “personal.”     There are a lot of “real” people involved with this storm.    A lot of souls, as we used to say.     S.O.S. – Save Our Souls.

I hope my sister’s home is still standing.

I have lots to write about here in the Tunnel,  lots of topics, lots of ideas,  but I don’t want to write about anything else right now — not until the storm is over and I find out “what happened.”

Hope it will be a good Florida Future.  

Perspectives: PRETTY IN PINK

October 4, 2016

I think this five week period of superlative personal demands are finally passing,  and it’s good to look outward again.     Almost all the “superlatives” have been good –  but they were personal.     I’m eager to write about things we have in common.

One of which is “Matthew.”      A  not so good “superlative,”  and that puts the recent “demands” on me into perspective.   The affected region is so huge, that it’s possible you know someone who is going to be greatly troubled by the coming of this hurricane.

My own sister, for one:


She lives under those pink lines – where Florida used to be.



My sister lives on the coast,  right in the middle of that smallest blue circle,  the bull’s eye, so to speak.       She’s ten miles or so south of Cape Canaveral, where that little V-shaped  piece of land juts out into the ocean.

One time, about ten years ago a big hurricane was passing over the house where my  parents and sister lived together.  My sister called me up during the worst of it and I could hear banging and crashing in the background.      So exciting!

Then she said “You ought to hear the wind!”   So she opened a window and stuck her cell phone outside.      Unbelievable roaring — until I heard a little scream –  “Part of our neighbor’s roof just tore off and blew across our back yard!”   

Technology!   Puts you right there in the action!!


I’m being flippant.   It isn’t our way to “evacuate”  (apparently)  and my parents and sister had a difficult few weeks following that hurricane.    Water and cleaning supplies were very hard to come by in the hot, humid, flooded aftermath.

And many this week will wish that Matthew had never come by.



When I travel down to Florida I see these in the driving lanes,  signs, symbols,  necessary to know what they mean.


I must be getting old.   The longer I watch the development and the movement of Matthew,  the more I think evacuation is a good idea.


For those who can.

Pink is not so pretty when it aims a hurricane at you.     They need our prayers.    Miracles can happen even within a Natural Disaster.


October 3, 2016

That would be “Post-Cooper Distress Syndrome.”     Cooper’s gone back  home to his mountain home in the High Sierras.     Been kind of slow, lately;  walking around from room to room,  looking at the last  “proofs”  that Cooper was really here.

A plate of acorns:


(They’ll  be saved; they’re  waiting for an upcoming Christmas craft.)

A jungle:


Cooper and I watched Pete’s Pond and other African  live-streaming webcams.  When you’re five years old,  these animals can be just as “real.”

We have a few photos  now to remember our activities.    Cooper,   “Mommy,”  and I  took  a walk on campus.   We had tried to go to the university’s ice cream shop,  but  Cooper analyzed the length of the line and said it would be too long to wait our turn,   so then we went on a hunt to find the big statue of Sparty,  just like he has in one of his books at home —  but we ran out of time and energy, so we just ended up here:


Good enough.  He’s already a Spartan fan — in California!

We were on campus that afternoon to take in the children’s show at the planetarium.


 His Mommy and I sort of mentally rolled our eyes when we found out that Sesame Street characters would be teaching us things  . . .

How big is the moon?


What would the earth look like if you were on the moon?


Our solar system is a big place:


Those Sesame Street characters were actually pretty interesting.

But it’s Fall, now,  and time to enjoy the harvest!   A trip to “Uncle John’s Cider Mill”!


So here are the three guys, but . . . you know,  the Uncle John in the picture does not own Uncle John’s  —  we’ll straighten that out in a few years.      Right now he’s just glad his uncle has a  fun place we can go to in September.


A seemingly endless pumpkin patch to stroll through!

And the apple harvest was good this year, a combination of just the right rain and temperatures at just the right times.  Cooper can tell you about that:


“Do not pick the apples”  signs were everywhere –  but it doesn’t matter to a hungry boy.


The days went by so quickly, and then there was the birthday party  (a couple posts ago)   and then there was all kinds of other fun things around grandma’s house.  Like the spray can that shoots out long, long strings –  and Daddy got Cooper!


Must have tickled!  

Then Cooper gets Daddy


Well, this posting is my remembrance,  things I’ll want in my memory for a long time.  It was hard to part, at the airport,  but I asked him about school, and I told him he  has to go back and be my “California schoolboy”  so I know where he is . . .   That worked for a while;  he’s taking his “assignment” seriously.

We’re going to trade pictures that we draw.    We both like drawing.    We both like dinosaurs.   That’s going to work.

Only three more months  without him  . . .  without those little arms around me. . . .

Three more months of PCDS!


September 25, 2016


Welcome, family,   Daughter, Son-In-Law,  and . . .  Cooper!

I’ve been baking and cooking and cleaning for you all,   and now we’re all here together and the days will be so rich and full with you and Son and me.

You asked me what I wanted for my birthday?    


Family:    the Basic Unit of Society.


June 21, 2016

It’s been a tough family month, emotionally.     Father’s Day without a father and  without a Hubbie,  my children’s father.

These things happen.      We’ll all face loss.

Today is another one of those tough days.    Yes,  Strawberry Full Moon –


No,  “strawberry”  doesn’t mean the Full Moon this month is pink – unless the atmospheric conditions are just right,  smoke in the air perhaps, lots of dusty haze.  But it’s the  Full Moon closest to the time when strawberries are known to begin to ripen enough to eat. Big deal in the days before grocery stores and international food sources.   Wild berries are an excellent and necessary source of vital human nutrition . . . .

No,  this day’s  “toughness”  is because it’s also my Mom birthday.   June 21.    Summer Solstice.    Big deal to us Scandinavians, because this is the most light we get in a day all year.   From now on every day has a little less sunlight.   Not so we notice anymore….  But it will always make me think of my Mom.

One of my favorite photos of her.

Parents Mom cr

She was in her seventies when this photo was taken, I think, or just about.    Golden hair.  It never got gray.    She called her hair “feathers”  because it was thin and silky and resistant to hairdressers’  manipulations.    I loved to touch it.

She was not a pilot,  but she was a musician’s wife, and the musician,  my Dad,  was invited to play for some kind of airplane show one nice Florida afternoon.  And the musicians’  wives  “tag along.”

And that reminds me a lot about my Mom.   How often did she   “tag along” with her husband’s activities;  her daughters’  activities maybe;  to  family get-togethers.     In the 18 years that I lived with her,  I never knew her to complain about “having to go someplace”  but she could always be counted on to “be there”  where the family went.

And she was always cordial,   refined,   ladylike,  feminine,  gentle,  rock-solid anchor in our thoughts because she never got emotional about things.    She  never said an unkind, critical word;  I could trust in her steadiness,  check with her;  get some perspective on the swirling social things that sometimes build up and make us tense.

Oh, she wasn’t a  cypher,  she wasn’t a “nothing.”     She was mother, wife,  homemaker,  assistant to a vice president of a large insurance company in Chicago  (Yes,  I was a latch-key child;  my mother worked in days when that was rare.)     and she was half owner of a music store in a shopping mall and ran the business end of the store as well as waited on customers and gave music lessons.   Then another favorite job:  working in a used bookstore.  For someone who loved to read, this was a perfect “retirement”  job, and her customers loved her.  She was a remarkable quilter.   (How did she learn that?)

I’m trying to figure her out here.    She did so many things without question and without complaining.    I don’t know if she felt “strong,”  but in the end,  she was strong.  She kept going.     I don’t think anyone in her family was “easy” on her and not often “good” to her,  but it didn’t seem to matter.

I think she loved us and she loved us back, no matter what happened.

Maybe that was her strength.

Happy Birthday, Mom.     I still want to be like you.  You are still my example to be strong and to be gentle and ladylike and to love and you always, always knew that God exists.

My goodness,  how you loved!

You would be 90 years old today.





June 9, 2016

Well, it’s been 60 degrees inside my house for the past couple days.    I feel the cool air more when I move through it.    If I keep moving, of course, I warm up, but my first inclination is to find a nice cozy quilt-cave to wait out this cold spell.    (Was  it just yesterday that I called my goldfish the Sissies?)

So,  me –


It’s fleece jackets, quilts, and books for me for a while.   And thinking.  (If you lived in my head, I think . . .  I really think you’d have a lot of fun.)

The thinking that my mind does comes from many angles, and sometimes the thoughts converge.     Today:  (1)  –  It’s Thursday, and I’m reminded by my common daily prayers that this is the day of the week that the Last Supper occurred;  and Christ told us:  “This is My Body.”   and then (2)   just a week or so ago was the Feast Day of Corpus Christi,  reminding us to think about  what This Is My Body really means.    And (3)   Thursday leads to Friday, the day which Jesus actually gave His “broken” Body in self-sacrifice for us . . .  which leads to Saturday,  Our Lady’s Day, alone with her thoughts,    and then Sunday . . . what it was all for.

Thursday to Friday to Saturday to Sunday . . .

Like climbing a  beautiful mountain,  beginning with Thursday leading all the way up to the summit of Sunday!       (Because we don’t just “remember”  these things;  we’re supposed to internalize them in amazed wonder . . .  and gratitude, if we really understand everything.     I’m running out of years, Dear Readers,  to get this right.)

(4)   So – my Dad?   My poor Dad?

A long, long time ago I enrolled in Arizona State University.  Wa-a-a-a-y   across the country.     My parents,  in a surprising gesture of generosity,  offered to drive me out there — because they needed to see that part of the country too.

LP  station wagon cr

I was 19 years old and the proud  “owner”  of two baby sisters, 2 and 4 years old that year.

We posed them in front of all the interesting scenery during that trip.

LP  sisters i front cr

I put them on top of everything,  so I could take their picture;  rocks, barrels, roadside signs,  touristy objects,   fake mules  :

LP Sisters on Top cr

And we, the whole family,  traveled through strange-looking territory:

LP strange places cr

Funny,  I do actually remember taking all these photos.   Like the proverbial  yesterday.

My Mom was often busy taking care of the little ones,  and that left my Dad and me free to explore the sites more intensely.      We were strong and adventurous.     I was 19, as I said,  and my Dad was an “impossibly” young 38 years old.

I thought he was invincible.

Somewhere along the trip we came to Long’s Peak, Colorado.      14259 ft.

Long's Peak

And there were signs all over about Hiking Trails and Climbing Long’s Peak —  and it sounded like a good adventure.     I don’t know if we went right to the very peak, where the mountain comes to a small point,  but we came pretty close.   I remember seeing signs for  “12,000”  feet and then “13,000”  feet, with arrows pointing onward and upward.

Here,  if you want to do it:

Long's Peak Trail

At about that 12,000 feet sign my Dad said something I thought I’d never hear him say:  “Let’s  stop and rest for a  little while.”

Oh, sure –  a chance for me to take lots of photos!      But my Dad didn’t.

And then, we went farther on,  higher and higher … until my Dad said something again.   Something like “Do you think we’ve gone far enough?”    He  sounded very much out of breath.

(Something I understand now whenever I visit my grandchild who lives  in the high altitudes of the Sierras.)

I said I wanted to take his picture, a photo of his accomplishment, so he put on a smile:

LP  Dad on Peak 400 cr

Right after that photo,  he plopped down hard on the ground – and shook his head in a rather frightening way but he didn’t say anything.   And I looked at him and he looked kind of funny.   The skin on his face was blotchy, white patches and red patches.  I’ll never forget those colors.

We had climbed longer and farther than most of the other people on the mountain that day.     It occurred to me that my Dad was in trouble and there was no way I could get him down the mountain and back to our car by myself.    My mind just went blank at the thought that my hiking enthusiasm  … might … have ….   killed him!

I should have been watching over him!   I should have been aware!

Well, he recovered.   He was young and strong – Viking stock.    We made it downhill and back to my rather concerned young mother . . . .

My Dad and I have talked about this incident occasionally.   He remembers how he felt,   but most of all what he remembers, and what he talks about,  was how glorious it was near the top of Long’s Peak.   What magnificent scenery.   How  beautiful, how lovely —  an amazing, thrilling adventure with no regrets.   And he was glad I had gone with him!

Climbing a mountain –   like  Thursday, Friday,  Saturday, and Sunday.

Honestly –  the thrill is so similar.  So real.   so life-and-death.


May 22, 2016

The birthday celebration table:

BDay  Tab;e sr

Steaks.  Salads.   Presents.  Card.   Cake.   (  . . . and a big arm waiting.)      It’s fun putting on a birthday spread, especially for someone very important!

It was Son’s birthday this weekend.    (Oh, yes – the whole weekend;  three-day weekend, as a matter of fact.   Since his profession requires him to work some weekends, and since  so many people wanted a piece of him on his birthday the celebrations will take  three days. )

Which brings me to my point:  so many hours worked!   So many people to see!    Oh,  Son is not complaining,   but I do observe  people who have busy-busy lives.  I once had an impossibly busy life too.

Has time speeded up or are we trying to cram more into our days?

Or are we trying to avoid facing the deeper issues of Life by activity?

Or all of the above?

But this question is nothing new . . .


Human life has long been busy and complicated with great challenges and no easy answers.     Many times everyday life prevents us from sorting out Good and Bad;  Right and Wrong;    Duty;   Virtue;  our relationship to God and each other.    We are distracted, willingly or not willingly,  from the serious issues of Life.

Son is an intelligent person, and sometimes he perceives this dilemma too.

Appropriately,   the saint we remember on the day of Son’s birthday is a man named St.  Hospitius.   (“hoss – pish – us”)      He left the high (and complex, busy) culture of Egypt, sometime after the fall of the Roman Empire, in order to find a quiet  place to understand the meaning of life and to work out his relationship with God.

He traveled to the less populated regions of Gaul,  what we’d call France,  today.    He needed time to think and to figure things out.   He chose to live in the ruins of an old tower where he hoped to see not very many people.      Peace and quiet and freedom.

st h and tower ruins

He had quiet time alone, away from people;  time to think, to learn, and to pray.      He knew this much:  that he was certainly a sinner before God, and he wished to atone for his sins,  to do penance,  and to develop a deep friendship with  his Savior.

And as often happens:  we seek,  heaven rewards.     St.  Hospitius was eventually rewarded with wisdom and understanding,  and the power to prophesy and to work miracles.  Once he warned the villagers around him that they had better flee,  because the fierce tribe of Lombards were on their way to attack, pillage, and destroy.

They left,  but he didn’t.   A small group of barbarian Lombard soldiers found him and saw the chains that he usually wore around his waist, to remind him of what a great sinner he was.   The soldiers thought he was some kind of criminal.

He agreed with them!     Yes!  In the eyes of God I am a criminal.    A great sinner.”   So since he was a self-admitted “bad guy” and an obvious outcast,  they were free to kill him.

Stospitius in chains

A soldier raised his sword to strike,   but the soldier’s arm became paralyzed.   St.  Hospitius made the sign of the cross over him —  the soldier’s arm became “un-paralyzed”   — and the soldier realized this is a holy man of God, and soon converted to Christianity, along with his (military)  friends.

His life is over now.   He died in 581 A.D.      But the relentless demands of busy, everyday life is still with us, as well as the serious need to sort out  Life and Death issues and make our peace with our Creator before we die.

St.  Hospitius is in Eternity right now.    Our Eternity is still before us.  It’s coming.



April 12, 2016


 My Son makes me the luckiest Mom that I know.  (I don’t think he reads this blog very often.)

He presented me with a gift the other day.   Then he said “Guess what it is!”


Dead mice?

He dumped the contents of a small box onto my counter-top —  I took a step back,  and made a few . . .  guesses.

Finally,  “Are they biological?

I got that one right.

No little feet, so they probably couldn’t be little mice.

I’ve received several other “interesting”  and initially unidentifiable  presents during the past years.   Some come with a warning.   “Don’t bring this upstairs.”      “Don’t stay too close to this. ”    “Don’t let water touch this.”         “Keep this away from matches.”    “This won’t last very long.”      And:  “Just be careful.”

This one came with no warnings.   But  I think it came with an implied request.

Okay,  the answer is,  these are Saffron Crocus bulbs!!!!     So excited!    “How in the world….?”      Then,  soon as he said they’re from Turkey, we both instantly ran into our front room where I keep the big globe;  we found Turkey, then drew a line with our fingers through Spain  and into . . .  Our State in the U.S. !!!!   Yes!!!  Same latitude.

Like Spain and Turkey, we can probably grow these bulbs.   We just have to do something about the average temperature,  which is thankfully NOT  like Turkey or Spain.

And Son’s implied request?    Just think of  a fresh loaf of warm, fragrant yellow bread, dotted with little currants and raisins,  and shiny butter melting down the sides of the crust…..

I’m sure he was.




January 20, 2016

With the loss of my mother-in-law last week,  death on my mind,  grieving,  missing out on the funeral,  issues of past family history,  I needed to take a few days off to get some perspective.   I was open.   And the “perspective”  came.

On Monday morning,   I made eggs for breakfast.   Morning:  “sleepytime”  for me.   I clumsily turned the eggs over in the frying pan and stared down at this, staring back up at me:


I could have chosen to say,  “Well, hmm,  look at that!  I couldn’t have done that if I tried!”   But instead I chose to take it as a good sign,  a good omen for the time ahead.    My choice;   a Rohrschach pan.  My choice to be reminded of love — God’s love!

A step forward this week with a new understanding of Life and Death and the Meaning of Being Alive, and being loved.   Going forth in a world so full of love and caring from God,  that it can manifest in a pan of eggs!

Sometimes “signs” are repeated, as if to say you’re on the right track.


I cleaned the kitchen after breakfast,  dusted the shelves… and there I discovered two little coins that Cooper had given me.   Cooper is my five-year-old grandson,  rather remarkable for maturity and spiritual insight.  (His early birth and his presence had brought an aura of peace into  Hubbie’s hospital room during his final days.)

Cooper was visiting here at Christmastime.   We enjoyed each other’s company.   But one day,  in the kitchen,  he stopped and reached into his pants pocket and said,  “Here, Grandma,  because you’ve been very good.”   And he handed me the contents of his pants pocket —  30 cents.

My first thought of course was to say, Oh no, that’s your money,  you keep it!   But he was very solemn.  He was serious.  He knows how things work.  In his mind, I had deserved his coins.  This was not the time to contradict what was going on in his mind and in his heart.  It was his gift to me.

I will never forget the eggs, which my clumsiness had formed into a heart, a message of love.  And I’ll never forget the burst of love that came out of my grandson that day.

I will pay him back manifold, someday, somehow.   And for the rest of my life I will try to live up to his opinion of me that day.

Those two little coins will never be spent at  a store.



December 22, 2015

(A little posting of explanation for my absence) –

Almost finished preparations for Christmas.  Just a few more pieces to go:


But I had a little setback.    Blindsided by a 5-year anniversary.

We think we  “know ourselves.”   But the “knowing”  is really just  familiarity.  After “many”  decades of life,  you’d think I’d know myself by now.   I thought I knew me:

Descendant of Vikings.  Daughter of a Marine.   Rough and tough tomboy, playing football and “war” with my friends.  Emperor Frederick II of Prussia was my hero during high school;  he’s the reason why I drove myself to manly excellence in academics and physical strength and  . . .  well,  flute.  I can intellectualize my way out of anything.  and I thought I was pretty well self-disciplined . . .  .

But I had an unexpected setback.  Blind-sided.  Emotionally.

The 5-year anniversary?    Is this:

Grandpa and Cooper

I write about Hubbie here.    I write about Cooper.    Five years ago,  one of them was just arriving;  one of them was just leaving.   An unexpected early arrival;  a very unexpected early departure.   (Again,  I chronicled all this in the November 2010 archives here.)

So I’ve pieced my life together;  reinvented my household, as all of us have to do from time to time.   Stayed true to the one who departed and “inserted” into my life the one who arrived.

That’s how December began,  with the residue of “feelings”  I had thought I had managed fairly well but had to wrestle with again.

And then I put some old photos up on the wall —


Yep.   Me.   And Hubbie.    (A “few” years ago.)   December 21st is our Anniversary.

A lot of years were to follow on after that photo was taken.

And then it’s . . .   history.   Just history.

I was a history major at the university.  I still study history,  but somehow I didn’t expect my own life to become . . .  history.

So that’s where I’ve been lately – away from The Spruce Tunnel.    Perhaps I should get back in and get on with things.    Some busy cheery things have happened this month too.

Today is Life.

There are still a few more pieces to fit together in my puzzle.


Bar Cross in middle