Just Tumbling Along…..

Tumbleweeds are a late summer to late winter, western Kansas, eastern Colorado crop. There are tumbleweeds in other parts of the southwest, western Oklahoma and Texas, all over Arizona and New Mexico. However, when I think of tumbleweeds I see them tumbling across highways and byways on my way to Colorado through western Kansas.

I really like tumbleweeds. They roll along, blowing wherever the wind takes them. They congregate along a fence line, until the wind detaches them one by one and they roll on to dryer pastures. It is a meditation to watch, romantic, even.

“A tumbleweed is a structural part of the above-ground anatomy of a number of species of plants, a diaspore that, once it is mature and dry, detaches from its root or stem, and tumbles away in the wind. In most such species the tumbleweed is in effect the entire plant apart from the root system, but in other plants a hollow fruit or an inflorescence might serve the function. Tumbleweed species occur most commonly in steppe and arid ecologies, where frequent wind and the open environment permit rolling without prohibitive obstruction.” Wikipedia

Grandma Smith brought a large tumbleweed back to Mom one November. She had been out to western Kansas for the annual Smith Family pheasant and quail hunting trek with grandpa, uncles, and male cousins over the age of 12. Mom spray painted the tumbleweed silver, put a lot of different sized blue Christmas bulbs inside it and hung it up. Our Christmas tumbleweed hung in the front of the large picture window in the front room for many years. I can see it hanging there all silver and blue representing the sparkle of the holidays.Tumbleweed Christmas

I googled tumbleweed Christmas and found a really close version of what it looked like. Apparently, the Scott’s like Christmas tumbleweeds, too. There were also many other ways to dress up a tumbleweed. A body could order tumbleweed from a website in Arizona. I am going to go on a tumbleweed finding adventure myself this November.

I’ll be rolling along, humming the Tumbleweed Song……..

See them tumbling down

Pledging their love to the ground

Lonely but free I’ll be found

Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds


Cares of the past are behind

Nowhere to go but I’ll find

Just where the trail will wind

Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds


I know when night has gone

That a new world’s born at dawn

I’ll keep rolling along

Deep in my heart there’s a song

Here on the range I belong

Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds


I know when night has gone

That a new world’s born at dawn

I’ll keep rolling along

Deep in my heart is a song

Here on the range I belong

Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds

                                    Sons of the Pioneers








©2016 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved


A Tale of Two Years continued….

The Brandywine River Years…. the past 22 months have been a series of twists and turns, lives circling in and out between “the known and unknown.”*

Granddaughter Alice and her high school sweetheart were married on a beach in Hawaii in December 2013. Surrounded by family and friends they repeated their vows in our family church and celebrated with a dinner dance Memorial Day weekend 2014.  Much loved Aunt Norma slipped away while sleeping in January 2015. She cared deeply for all of her darling children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, sister, nieces, nephews…  She is missed most every day.

In April Granddaughter Alice and her Marine husband welcomed a beautiful daughter to love. We’ve had high school graduations, college years, an Eagle Scout Ceremony, moved across town…

Employment takes up months in the year. Family takes up weeks in the month. Home making takes up days in the week. Pets take up hours in the day. Community and volunteer life takes up minutes in the hour. Personal time takes up seconds in the minute.

We ask ourselves, over and over, again, “If not now, when?” Now is the time we have to right our life, to imagine our present to achieve our future…Together time to travel, time to spend with family and friends, time to be creative and earn an extra dime or three.

We just keep on floating, enjoying the wind and the rain and the sun and the moon and the stars in the sky. Join us as we embark on the really golden years…….


*The name Baranduin was Sindarin for “golden-brown river”. The Hobbits of the Shire originally gave it the punning name Branda-nîn, meaning “border water” in original Hobbitish Westron.  To the Hobbits of the Shire, the Brandywine was the boundary between the known and unknown, and even those who lived in Buckland on the immediate opposite shore were considered “peculiar”. Lord of the Rings Trilogy, J.R.R. Tolken
©2015 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved

A Tale of Two Years….

The Brandywine River Years…. the past 22 months have been a series of twists and turns, lives circling in and out between “the known and unknown.”*

In October 2013, our Beloved Aunt Mary laid her body down to rest in Massachusetts. She was surrounded by her loving family. Her life was a blessing to me and mine. She is missed most every day.

Upon my return to Kansas, Mike was hospitalized for an infection and a nurse discovered a foot ulcer causing septicemia. He had surgery to remove a piece of clam shell embedded between two of his middle toes on his right foot. The ulcer was completely through his foot. The top of his foot healed within 6 months of wound clinic visits and antibiotic treatments. The bottom portion of his foot healed over, only to reopen again.

In October 2014, Mike had a middle toe amputation. The initial healing was looking good until March 2015. He is currently under the care of a Wound Clinic and Orthopedic doctor. Caring for the wound, eating and hydrating properly and not walking on the wounded foot is a balancing act of epic proportions for us. How do we live, while struggling with the uncertainty of life?

By using every coping skill we ever learned on our journey to Now…

By surrounding ourselves with those who only want the best for us…

By asking for help when we need it…

By loving and allowing ourselves to be loved…

By serving those unable to serve themselves…

By taking extra special care of our own needs…

By embracing our Spiritual Guide, our Higher Power, our God Within and Without…

We keep on, keeping on…..


*The name Baranduin was Sindarin for “golden-brown river”. The Hobbits of the Shire originally gave it the punning name Branda-nîn, meaning “border water” in original Hobbitish Westron. This was later punned again as Bralda-hîm meaning “heady ale” (referring to the colour of its water), which Tolkien renders into English as Brandywine.[Source?]

To the Hobbits of the Shire, the Brandywine was the boundary between the known and unknown, and even those who lived in Buckland on the immediate opposite shore were considered “peculiar”. Lord of the Rings Trilogy, J.R.R. Tolken

©2015 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved

2012 remembered……

This has been a tough year.  Up really was the only way to go and up was almost as hard as down. The only difference was attitude and sheer determination to be UP where we needed to be.

The learning curve on the new job has been challenging. However, being a recovering perfectionist makes everything a challenge. Everything I was learning started to gel about four weeks ago. There is a reason for a six month introductory period in human resource terminology.

Halloween party with my sisters and our children and grandchildren was so much fun; one of my grandnieces is having a repeat at her birthday party in March. I guess it is an un-Halloween party. Her grandmother, Sister Penny, said, at least, the birthday party décor was cheap!

Thanksgiving was really good. Sam and Abby brought their parents to Kansas and they stayed with us for five days.  They were delightful. Sam found some of his favorite grandma’s house cars had made the move and were waiting for him. Both Sam and Abby discovered their mother’s Fisher Price Castle was every bit as much fun in 2012 as it was in the 1970’s. Granddaughter Hayley had fun reconnecting with Sam and playing with Abby.

Niece Tricia and granddaughter Alice were a huge help in unpacking and arranging the family room and sleeping area in the basement so there was room for visitors to play and sleep. The open house for family and friends was enjoyed by all.

Christmas gathering were easy and enjoyable. New traditions entered our family culture and old traditions were fondly embraced.  Even though we could not find the traditional pickle ornament to hide on Christmas Day, (do not know where that box of Christmas ornaments is located) granddaughter Alice found a new pickle ornament to hide and find at our, almost annual, Epiphany Party on January 6.

2013 is shaping up to be the Year of Leaning Forward to meet the future………


©2012 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Tornado Alley…….

Tornado sirens and taking shelter have been a part of my life since always. I do not remember not knowing about finding a safe place in the basement or storm cellar. The next best thing is under a sofa or a bed against a wall or in a hallway in the middle of the house or building. Where I went to school, tornado drills were held as often as fire drills.

My up close and personal tornado experiences were scary, even traumatizing. When I was 15 an F5 tornado tore a 22 mile, ½ mile wide swath from southwest to northeast Topeka. My childhood home was located on the northeast edge of Topeka. On June 8, 1966, around 7:30 PM, I stood in my front yard while the atmosphere around me turned an eerie green and the deafening silence was overwhelming.

The sirens began wailing. I watched my sister and cousin come tearing down the street with a toddler in a stroller. Dad came tearing out of the house telling us to get to the basement. When he joined us shortly, I knew the tornado was pretty bad. Dad never came with us to the basement. He was usually outside playing macho man, ready to fight the weather, I guess. I can also report that an F5 tornado does sound like a train and a jet. And this noise was as deafening as the silence. There is a lull in the action, when the eye passes over, where the stillness is palpable.

Another tornado experience happened in 1982 or 1983. The girls and I were driving to Kansas in our Toyota Corolla. We were on I-29 north heading towards I-670 south around the north side of the Kansas City metropolitan area. The weather was looking a little unstable. I saw the eerie green light and the trees twisting the same time as the radio blared out the tornado warning. The clouds were twisting, and forming and un-forming a circle, dropping down from the wall cloud a little to the north and west of us. Then the rain, thunder, lightning and hail hit.  The car was shaking. We survived and lived to tell.

There are other stories; a freaky November tornado rolling across Topeka and dropping down one street over from Mom and Dad’s house the week before Thanksgiving. The sirens went off the same time as all of the windows and doors blew open and we were running for the basement. There was the time I crested a hill between Lawrence and Topeka when I saw boiling and roiling, very angry looking black cloud bouncing up and down out of a huge black wall cloud.

 I could go on with my accidental and surprise brushes with the funnel cloud. Today’s post is about Mike’s penchant for seeking out storms, tornados, etc. He was a trained weather spotter in Kansas.  Since I have met him we have been chasing storms, been caught in storms and been scared in storms. We always try to stay outside the dangerous zone, far enough away to take pictures and observe. We have been caught a few times, we had a hail damaged windshield to prove it. One time Mike threw the car in reverse and backed out of the way of a dangerous downdraft from a wall cloud. It was a weird tornado spawning storm that did most of its damage after dark.

Tonight, I barely registered a protest as we drove out west to see what the storm was doing near Farmville. We watched from a distance and saw some pretty scary looking clouds. Eventually they dissipated and we came home, ready to chase another day…………………..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


The Eagles Have Landed………..

When I moved back to the area six years ago I stayed with friends for several months an hour away from my place of work. Needing a place to deposit my money, I found a US Bank we used years ago. The bank was close, convenient, had branches in Kansas and a friend of mine who works for them. After signing on the dotted line, I found the closest branches to where I wanted to live permanently were 8-10 miles away. Since distance is not as important as how long it takes to get anywhere in the Chicago metropolitan area, I began a search for the most direct drive in the shortest amount of time.

My favorite route is north on Randall Road to the Meier’s US Bank branch in Geneva. There is a long stretch of fields and woods with a stream from the Mooseheart/Orchard Road intersection to the Batavia Main Street intersection. This piece of road is very calming to a Kansas girl making her home in Illinois. A bonus, this particular Meier’s grocery is north of Barnes and Noble in the Geneva Commons shopping area and south of a Costco.

Last April we joined Costco and between the bank runs, Costco trips and my Barnes and Nobel dates with myself we were up and down Randall Road quite a bit. We started noticing groups of cars at the curve where the Mooseheart field turns into the Mooseheart woods. The line of cars was reminiscent of a trip through Yellowstone National Park. Very unusual for the area, people were out of their cars with tripods and really large telescopic lenses.

Researching migratory birds and bird watching sites online, I could not find anything about the current group of watchers in North Aurora. Several days later there were signs up on this stretch of Randall Road. The signs instructed us that only emergency parking was allowed here. The newspaper reported there were two eagles apparently nesting in a tree at the edge of the Mooseheart Woods. Mystery solved.

We managed to glimpse the eagle pair almost every time we drove up and down the road. Eventually young eagle heads were popping up beside either mama or papa. Sometimes we would see one of the parents soaring over the nearby fields. Watching this young eagle family sometimes became a destination drive-by. There is something beautiful about watching wildlife carve out their space in the middle of a booming suburban area. Kudos to the International Order of the Moose for maintaining the Mooseheart Children’s Home woods and field’s area in North Aurora.

The eagle family went away sometime last fall. I remember looking to see if they were still there and one day they were not. I wondered if the mated pair would be back in the spring. I am happy to report I spotted an eagle perched on the nest at the top of the tree yesterday. I felt gladness and was delighted they were back. There is comfort in the life cycle ritual of wildlife returning to the same nest to raise their young.

Spring is in the air, birds are twittering in the yard and the eagles have returned. Enjoying this one perfect moment in time…………………..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved