Farmville Update…….

Last week Mike found a horse drawn sleigh on Craig’s List. He talked me into going three towns over to check it out. The owner told us the sleigh came from Wisconsin sixteen years ago. She had it on the front lawn surrounded by rocks and flowers. While appreciating the appeal and charm of this piece of Americana, I was not convinced we needed to find a way to bring the rather dilapidated weathered sled home.  My spirit could see the potential; my flesh was weak. Mike did not have my qualms. He struck a bargain and paid his “mad” money.

During the rest of the week there were hints regarding the pick-up and delivery of the purchase to our home. I did not pay much attention because we had discussed part of the cost would include the hiring of  ‘two men and a truck’ for this task. Saturday rolled around and it became clear we were the pick-up and delivery service.  We would be borrowing our Farmville connection trailer and attaching it to a borrowed Tahoe.  My protest regarding the cost of gas and our time equalling the cost of other options went unheeded.

Three hours and $25 worth of gas later we had a dismantled weathered horse drawn Wisconsin early 1900’s sleigh in our driveway. The final after restoration resting place of said sled is still to be determined. We will keep you informed.

The best part of this suburban and rural trek was the chance to check out the Farmville animals. The baby rabbits still look and feel liked baby bunnies to me. The kittens and ducklings are adorable. The chicks have not hatched yet. They have another couple of weeks. The calves stared at us with interest, ambling over for a little pet and pat. The house remodel is coming along. Trees and bushes are planted and the garden plot will be plowed and tilled this weekend. Farmville is shaping up.

As we drove back and forth to hitch and unhitch I understood the appeal to my friend. As municipal buildings and subdivisions turned into fields and farms I could feel myself de-stressing. Peacefulness flooded through my body.

A little tiny voice whispered some reality into my ear… I am not sure about the seven mile drive for a gallon of milk…. The pizza guy would probably think this was outside his delivery zone….. Then there is the similarity to the Rodgers and Hammerstein Oklahoma movie theme song, because “the wind comes sweeping down the plains” of Illinois, as well as, Oklahoma and Kansas. Oh, well.

I wonder if Farmville needs a horse-drawn sleigh for their horse..…………..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Memory Lane……

My sister called last Wednesday afternoon. She was in the Newark Airport trying to get home. There seemed to be a weather related, air traffic controller problem and her flight was not leaving until 9 PM. The Southwest agent had suggested a flight to St Louis or Chicago. She would sit up all night in either airport waiting for a flight to Kansas City Thursday 6 AM. She wanted to know if I was available for an impromptu 17.5 hour layover. The plan included a flight to Chicago that evening with a Thursday 4 PM flight to KC. Sam’s mom agreed to change Sam Day to Friday.  We were set for a sister holiday. My role was to do the pick-up and drop-off at Midway.

Thursday, we ate breakfast at Leslie’s favorite place, Colonial Café, server of her favorite, the Morning Glory Muffin. Our server shared the secret recipe with us, Karp’s frozen Glorious Muffin mix, distributed by Fox River Foods. After breakfast we loaded up the luggage and went on a reconnaissance mission to find Emerson Creek Pottery Tea Room near Oswego. The pottery store opens May 4. The Tea Room opens May 7. I am thinking a May visit with friends is on my horizon.

Our next stop was The Growing Place, my favorite plant and garden center, located in the southeast section of Aurora. We wondered through the paths, looking at the cold hardy plants and garden accessories on display. The farmhouse garden shop is filled with a wide array of garden décor.  Window shopping was very relaxing as we shared our summer garden dreams.

The Antique Mall on the parameter of the Fairfield Mall at Fox Valley has been on my list of places to visit for years. We stopped by to check them out. We wondered the aisles looking at treasures from yesteryears. We reminisced about this piece of pottery or that piece of furniture. There was a brand new dealer* putting her items on display. We exchanged pleasantries and I glanced at a doll standing at the back of her booth.  It was an Ideal Saucy Walker 32” doll. Other than the sandy blonde hair she looked exactly like the Christmas doll Santa Claus brought me Christmas 1959. My doll was a brunette.

My sister and I shared a moment with the dealer. The story of my wanting that doll more than anything. She was on the “doll wall” at the old Sears and Roebuck Co. department store located on Kansas Avenue in downtown Topeka, KS. On Christmas morning after all of the presents were opened, I watched my siblings playing with their toys. There was not a doll in sight. My dad asked me to look behind the window curtain beside the Christmas tree. There was my doll. I named her Pamela Ann, after my Aunt Mary’s little girl.

My grandparents were coming over so Mom sent us out to the kitchen with Dad to eat breakfast. She was straightening up the living room when we heard her call out, “I told you to go out to the kitchen and eat breakfast,” My dad looked at us and counted out six children. “Betty,” he called, “they are all here.” Mom showed up at the kitchen door laughing, “I thought the doll was one of the kids.”

Christmas 1961, is when Leslie received her doll. A Bride Doll, she was a little shorter than mine and had a more adult figure. She, too, was located on the Sears and Roebuck, Co, “doll wall”. Every time we went in to the store that fall, there she was. Sometime in December the doll disappeared from the wall. I put my arm around my sister as she suffered through the disappointment. I do not know why we were both surprised to see that Bride Doll under the Christmas tree that year. Santa always did a really good job at our house.

And my sister has found the Morning Glory muffin recipe, so there might be MG muffins next time I am in Kansas……..

*1010 Treasures, Suzi Highberg, Proprietress, 40548 Fox Valley Center Dr., Aurora, IL

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved



My favorite movies to watch again and again……

Sound of Music – The hills are definitely alive and so is Rogers and Hammerstein’s music. I first saw this movie in Mexico City in English with Spanish subtitles. Good for me, my host family, not so much.

White Christmas – Irving Berlin score sung by Bing Crosby, et al. I watch this every Christmas and sometimes in July!

Holiday Inn – Irving Berlin score sung by Bing and danced by Fred. Another annually viewed favorite.

Miracle on 34th Street – Original with Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood is my favorite. There is a Santa Claus, my mother said, for those of us who believe.

Little Women –  June Allyson as Jo, Peter Lawford as Laurie Lawrence version is my favorite, although Susan Sarandon as Marmee in the third remake is good and Katherine Hepburn as Jo in the first version are close.

Scaramouch – Bastard nobleman raised by foster parents falls in love with natural brother’s girlfriend. Determined to avenge foster brother’s death at hand of brother, hides out with acting troupe traveling through French country side. Stewart Granger and Janet Leigh are great as the hero and heroine.

Friendly Persuasion – Gary Cooper at his finest in this Quaker way of life clashes with Civil War cultural mores classic. This movie was on KCMO Channel 5 classic movie theatre program with numerous cut s for commercials and to accommodate a two hour time slot, 10:15 PM – 12:15 AM. In the 1960’s the Indian Chief head in a circle test pattern came on at 12:16 AM.

Shenandoah – James Stewart with a fine group of sons unsuccessfully trying to sit out the Civil War. This movie was playing at a Kansas City drive-in theatre the summer several of my siblings and I spent a few days at Aunt Norma’s.

Kid Galahad and Blue Hawaii  – Great Elvis songs sung by Elvis. The plots are weak; the other actors carry these movies.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – Great musical with hunky backwoods brothers kidnapping town girls like Romans and Sabine women.

Barefoot in the Park – Funny, sexy, tender, beautiful, sympathetic characters played with humor and insight by Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. What’s not to like?

The Way We Were – Smart, savvy, vulnerable woman lives life her way, while fantastic looking preppy man loses his way. The ex-man and I had a huge difference of opinion over who was the injured party in this flick.

Electric Horseman – Smart, sassy reporter meets intense, sarcastic cynical cowboy. Robert Redford and Jane Fonda together again, sigh, with my heart to my chest, better than ever was really great.

Last of the Mohicans – Daniel Day-Lewis with hair! Great scenery and believable setting in this classic remake of James Fennimore Cooper’s classic novel set in the 1760’s American wilderness.

Steel Magnolias – Strong southern women support each other through good and bad times. Strong ensemble cast makes my day.

Fried Green Tomatoes – Macabre twists only found in southern culture! Tawanda!  Ensemble cast of strong women played by strong women. Kathy Bates is a joy!

Love Actually – This movie is just plain wonderful. I laugh and cry through this one at least once a year. All of my favorite British actors in one place makes for a real feel good.

Diet Pepsi, popcorn and peanut M&M’s are calling me………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Diet Sunkist Lemonade……..

My sister Deb lived life with passion. She tackled most any task or desire with a single-minded determination second to none. This trait led her down some interesting rabbit trails. Her favorite drink was Sunkist Diet Lemonade*.  There was not a retail location for this beverage in the area surrounding the Kentucky town where they lived.

My brother-in-law would drive to a retail location south of St. Louis and pick up cases of the previously special ordered stuff.  We considered this to be above and beyond the call of husband duty and were suitably impressed with his willingness to grant Deb’s wish for this drink several times a year.

Remember the gas crisis? Not this one, the previous one, several years ago.  My brother-in-law decided the price of gas was too high and the SDL would be staying in Missouri. My intrepid sister decided to see if she could re-produce the beverage in her kitchen.  Deb could not get the ingredients exactly right. Not one to give into such mundane obstacles, Deb called Cadbury Scweppes and explained her inability to drive to Missouri at this time and how she could not seem to get the ingredients exactly right. The person on the phone responded by exclaiming, “we have heard about you!”

The Cadbury Schweppes representative on the phone expressed the sentiments of many persons who came and went in Deb’s life.  Whether singing for weddings, church events, taking care of children, planning family birthday parties, preparing holiday meals, shopping, mothering her sons and first and second generations of nieces and nephews, hosting servicemen’s wives, or whatever she chose to do, Deb was gung ho all the way.

Her sisters think of her whenever we are together.  We include her in our sister gatherings by joking about her place at our table. Sometimes, we often reflect upon “what Deb might have to say” about the situation or what we are doing at the time.

If you ever have the opportunity to drink a Sunkist Diet Lemonade, lift your glass to my sister Deb, a true original………

*Sunkist Diet Lemonade is a licensed product manufactured and marketed by Cadbury Schweppes. To find retailers that sell Sunkist soda products, contact Cadbury Schweppes at (800) 696-5891 or on the web at

 ©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Breakdown Lane Recovery Op…….

Did anyone notice my hiatus from writing has coincided with the Oprah show hiatus? What can I say? We needed the time off. Having my phone stolen, turning 60 festivities, viruses running rampant in my office all signaled yellow for caution. The red light flashed really strong when I wanted to write about my sister Deb.

Debra Jean was born on March 30, 1955. I was four years old. The memory of picking Mom and her up from the hospital is one of my strongest. Jim, Leslie and I were so excited; we were bouncing in the back seat. Today, we would probably not even have been hanging out in front of Stormont-Vail Hospital, Topeka, Kansas, anxiously waiting for the nurse to wheel our mother out holding her precious bundle. The car seats would have taken up all of the room!

Deb lived her life large. She could sing and played the violin in elementary school. One time she told the music teacher I would play the piano accompaniment for a violin trio. To say I was filled with dismay is an understatement. We brushed through well enough.

My second sister had a mercurial temperament. She experienced a fair amount of life’s peaks and valleys during her walk. Deb was Daddy’s little girl for six years until Sister Sally was born. Max and Rick were born in between and barely registered a blip on her radar. Sally and Penny were her very own baby dolls.

Deb was the first of us to complete her college degree. She started out in music and spent a semester in Vienna, Austria studying voice.  She came back and switched to nursing. While working as a ward clerk at St. Francis Hospital, Topeka, Kansas, she commuted to Kansas State University for classes. She also volunteered me to sing, with my guitar, for patients. She failed to tell me I was being recorded for the hospital TV channel. We brushed through well enough.

Deb graduated from Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas with a degree in Politcial Science. Her education was definitely eclectic! She was more politically conservative than Leslie and me and would occaasionally mention she was the one with the formal political education.

Deb married in 1985 and went off to Montana where her US Air Force Captain husband was stationed. She looked forward to lots of travel as a military officer’s wife. Their tour of Italy was bittersweet because of the stillborn birth of her first child. She came back to the United States the next year, terrified and pregnant with her second child. Her valiant effort to recover her resiliency was successfull. She and her husband had three boys in a row.

She embraced motherhood and being a wife with all of the energy she had shown as a child. She was plagued with health problems and had several surgeries to try to alleviate some of her genetic back issues.

On December 28, 2008, Deb died in her sleep. She was on medication for bronchitis and was not doing very well. It was Saturday night and not realizing pneumonia had crept into her lungs she went to bed thinking she would go to the doctor the next day.

On Christmas Day 2008, I received a phone call from her. We had a really good chat. I found out later she had talked to all of her siblings at one time or other over that Christmas holiday. She would have appreciated the irony.

Thanks for the memories little sister. Love you, miss you………..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Breakdown Lane…..

The past two weeks have been fraught (I like that word) with technology drama. My new android phone is working well, only it has trouble receiving some emails. Of course, the emails I want to receive are the ones not getting through. The ancient (2008) desktop computer in the home office (the only office I have right now) decided to allow one of those malware viruses past the firewall and the security system.

Mike (bless his heart) wanted to save us the computer geek charges and was able to get rid of the pesky bug in only four days. Then the print was so small I could not read anything on the screen. After a conference call to 13 year old Peter, I was able to figure out the screen settings situation and now the screen reads like one of those large type books at the library.

And I still have to take the cpu tower to the computer geek guy because my word processing program has disappeared into the bowels of the hardware.  I have had a pesky little nagging pain behind my eyes just thinking about all of my files snagged up among the electronic whatchamacallits and gizmos inside the metal box.

Since this is taking awhile to resolve, I am working on the laptop. The laptop is not my favorite place to think and dream and write and edit, plus I like my laptop downstairs. My office is upstairs where the good office chair is located. Another problem with downstairs is the printer/fax/copier/scanner is upstairs.

So the past two weeks have been a constant upstairs, downstairs, hook-up, unhook, interspersed with worry over the files I may or may not have lost. Today I made a decision to move on. I will not let my personal technology breakdown lane take over my life. There will not be any more whining over what I cannot fix right this moment. I will get right on that as soon as I go vote…….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Happy Birthday, Hayley……..

My youngest granddaughter turned 4 years old today. There was an amazing cake everyone “oohed and ahh’d” over.

Jami has always liked to bake and decorate cakes. Hayley opened up her presents, played with her new play food and wore the new GAP clothes Grandma sent her.

Yesterday she asked her big sister, Alice, if her “friends” would come to her party. Her friends are her second cousins once removed or her third cousins or as we say in our family, they are all cousins and it is all good. Some of Alice’s friends came and brought presents, too. They had a special time.

Hayley, may all your wishes come true this year and always………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


60 years ago this day in history………

Rawhide, original release date March 25, 1951, a stagecoach stop employee and a stranded traveler find themselves at the mercy of a band of stagecoach gold robbers.

5th Tony Awards: Guys & Dolls & Rose Tattoo win

 E Purcell & EM Ewen detect 21-cm radiation at Harvard physics lab

On March 25, 1951, Eddie Collins died. He was a second baseman who played for Connie Mack and the Philadelphia A’s and later for the White Sox. He was the leader of the clique of players on the 1919 White Sox who were unaffiliated with the fixing of the World Series that year.

Oscar Micheaux died on this day. He was an African American writer, producer and distributor of his own films.

Grand Encampment of the Knights Templar of the United States of America held their Easter Services at Arlington National Cemetery.

A baby girl was born to James and Betty on this Easter Sunday in Topeka, Kansas. She weighed 8’ 7” and was 21” long. She was the oldest grandchild on her mother’s side of the family and joined her cousin Cheryl on her father’s side.

They rejoiced and were glad……….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


March Madness…..

NCAA Basketball Tournament time is here.  According to “the  tournament, organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), was created in 1939 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and was the brainchild of Kansas (University) coach Phog Allen.”  Basketball fever memories are ‘warm fuzzies’  for me.

My dad was so excited when the Kansas State University Wildcats made the Final Four in the 1964 NCAA men’s basketball championship tournament. UCLA was the team we wanted to lose for years.

Dad was 6’ 7 ½” and played basketball on his high school team. He earned a basketball scholarship to our small church college in south central Kansas. Years later Sister Sally played women’s basketball for the same college.

Dad played basketball on a Goodyear Tire sponsored team when I was small. ATSF Railway Co. national headquarters building had a gymnasium in their building and we watched dad’s team play there when we were really little. Mom loved to watch sports, she would clap and shout out encouraging words to Dad’s teammates and make sotto voice comments about referee’s needing glasses.

Basketball was my favorite team sport in high school. We played intramural games within the high school. Women’s basketball competition was non-existent at the time. My position was roving forward. There were six girls on a team back in the day, three forwards and three guards. Only two girls on each team were allowed to “rove” over the center line on the court, either the roving forward or the roving guard, depending on which goal post your team was defending.  Even then we thought it was strange to have different rules for girls and boys team sports.

We follow the University of Kansas season pretty closely in our house these days. The exception for me is whenever KU is playing K-State. Old loyalties die hard. When I had to choose a school for one year of college courses before nursing school, Kansas State was my school of choice. By then KU was the basketball team and K-State was the football team. K-State is making a comeback in the basketball arena and KU’s football team is playing better these days. K-State’s basketball team was in the 2010 Sweet Sixteen round and they beat KU during the conference season. Go Wildcats. This year KU is back in the Sweet Sixteen.

Rock Chalk Jayhawks, Go KU…………….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Harley Riders………….

Riding a Ferris wheel and baking biscuits in a wood burning cook stove oven were moved from my “to do” list to my “ta da” list. Harley Davidson riding was next. Finding a Harley rider to take a single mid-forties woman on a ride is harder than one might think.

Dating my potential Harley rider candidates was not part of my vision so I weeded out the owners interested in a “dating me if you want a ride” scenario. Spring break found me back in Kansas staying with my daughter and her roommates. Visiting a biker bar on Saturday night, we were trying to convince one of her roommate’s Harley owner biker friends to give me a ride around the block. He kept assuring us he was having no part of giving the mother of his friend’s friend a ride, even around the parking lot, while “under the influence” no matter how persuasive she was. Respecting his convictions I waited for another opportunity.

My first Harley ride came later in August at another friend’s annual northern Illinois suburb backyard fish fry. The guy’s wife said sure, why not. The ride was everything I thought it would be. An interesting twist finds Harley riders okay with not wearing a helmet for themselves, their passengers not so much. For me, even with the helmet, there is a feeling of being close with the world. Being surrounded by metal and steel does not give me the same feeling of exhilaration. There is not a doubt in my mind riding a motorcycle is risky business, which is part of the allure.

A year later I was given a second ride on a Harley Davidson motorcycle while visiting with a friend at a local bar and grill hangout. This time our route took us out Interstate 70 west of Topeka through the Flint Hills. Words describing the thrill escape me. We were gone longer than I expected. My friend was a little annoyed when we joined her back at the bar.

My anecdotal evidence finds that Harley Riders hang out at bars and whether they are married or not are very interested in picking up women. Pursuing the experience, I had no idea my naive interest would lead men to think I was really interested in them and not their ownership of the bike I wanted to ride.

Of course, this predilection might be an individual’s character trait rather than a motorcycle owner characteristic………………..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved