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
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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
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Gene Street……

On our way home today we gave our customary royal wave to a street about 1.5 miles from our house. We have been doing this every time we drive by the street for the past three months. Eugene, the Jack Russell Terrier that lives with us, is afraid of thunder, lightning, fireworks, gunshot-like noises, etc.  On our first Fourth of July back in town, we found that fireworks are now allowed in the city several weeks before July 4. Gene was terrified…… he spent a lot of time quivering under the bed or on the bed under the comforter or burrowed behind whomever he found on the loveseat recliner.

A week before the main patriotic day display, I let Gene and Princess, our animal pack’s, alpha female Schipperke, out into the fenced backyard. On my way to bed, I told Mike the cat and dogs were outside.  About an hour later, I woke to the sound of the front door open and shut. Mike was coming back in the house. I asked him what was happening. He said he went to let the animals in after a series of really loud fireworks, and could not find Gene. For the next several days, Mike, sometimes by himself, or, sometimes with Alice, drove the neighborhood looking for their buddy.

When granddaughter, Hayley, and great-niece, Rosa, spent the night, I fielded questions regarding the steps they could take to canvass the neighborhood to find lost Gene. Hayley is a little more pragmatic than tenderhearted Rosa. Hayley was sorry Gene was missing and willing to engage in looking for him. Rosa told Hayley and me about her sister’s cat’s disappearance. Her cat was eventually found in an apartment in their complex. Rosa thought we ought to begin looking for Gene by her apartment across town.

Mike put a notice on the animal shelter’s website and placed a missing dog notice on craigslist. Five days went by, Mike was suffering, Alice was ready to post fliers around the neighborhood, and out of town family members were being notified. There was a lot of sadness in the house. The cat came home and was surprised to only have Princess to bedevil him. Princess even looked a little quizzically at us, probably wondering where the friend she most loves to growl at was keeping himself.

The afternoon of the fifth day Mike received a phone call. A man was asking if his dog was still missing. He thought our dog might be in the back of his shed. He could not get an animal to come out. The lost was found almost two miles away, five days after disappearing. The interesting thing is the Kansas Turnpike is between us and the man’s house. There is one underpass a block south of the street Gene was found on. Between our house and the finder’s house is a huge field, where coyotes, raccoons and opossum’s reign supreme. There may be a deer or a fox in the area and a bobcat has been seen within a five mile radius.

We do not know how the small, 12 year old, hard of hearing, partially blind, terrified dog made it to the shed. We are grateful to the craigslist reading Good Samaritan. We have renamed the street just north of the underpass, where Gene’s incredible journey ended.

We salute Gene Street, as we go by, and shake our heads as we drive under the overpass; listening to cars whizzing along at 75 miles an hour, tires singing, we wonder how it all happened. If only Gene could talk, what a story he would tell……..

©2013 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved

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Cat Call…….

In August, 1966, my sister Leslie and I, and our Cadette Girl Scout troop took a long awaited camping trip up Poudre Canyon, in the Rocky Mountains west of Fort Collins, Colorado. All of the girls in the troop had worked hard to raise the money for this adventure. We sold a lot of cookies, calendars and had formed a folk singing group, complete with granny dresses. Directed by the leader’s oldest son, we performed “The Cruel War” and “Blowing in the Wind’, and other folk songs of the early 1960’s for church women’s groups, community gatherings, Grange meetings. We sang for donations and made enough money to take around 10, 8-10th grade girls and six adults on a five day camping excursion.

We had a great time that summer. We went horseback riding, camped on the Cache la Poudre River near Rustic, CO, where we toured the original stagecoach hotel, visited the Red Feather Lakes area where we were given a tour of a fire spotter tower with a real forest ranger and clambered around a volcanic rock area. I was not looking for kimberlites and lamproites, rock areas where diamonds are sometimes found, the rock formations were fun to climb and were just plain cool.

My fondest memory, the one that still causes me to laugh out loud today, was a drive to an abandoned homestead, complete with log cabin, in an alpine meadow. We were driving across a cattle ranch area and had just passed over the cattle guard crossing. We were in a four door sedan and the going was rough so the car was moving slowly. The windows were down and as the car slowed to a crawl there were several cows not far from the vehicle. Leslie leaned out the window and called, “here, kitty, kitty.” The cows looked up at her briefly and then went back to grazing. The other girls and I were stunned and then we laughed loud and long. It was priceless. Ah, younger sisters, can never get away with anything, especially, in our family.

Over Labor Day weekend, Sally, Penny, Leslie and I went “RVing” to western Kansas for our sister weekend. We visited several places, Monument Rocks, Gove County; St. Fidelis Church (Cathedral of the Plains), Victoria, Garden of the Gods, Lucas, Nicodemus and ate fried chicken and the best cole slaw in the world at the Brookfield Hotel, Abilene. Leslie was driving her RV through the cattle range on the road to Monument Rocks, when we passed over a cattle guard and saw a herd of yearlings milling around over the gravel road ahead. They were about three quarters of the way across the road. Leslie slowed to a stop to assess the situation. In the distance, there was a vehicle coming towards us. Leslie drove forward, moving to the left. As Leslie pulled up beside them, Penny rolled her window down and yelled, “HAW!” The startled young cattle turned and galloped away. We all laughed and the “here, kitty, kitty” memory on the other cattle range all those years ago flooded me.

Today is Leslie’s 60th birthday. She is celebrating, with Aunt Mary, Uncle Chuck and Cousin Tami at the cottage in New Hampshire. Her birthday party is being given by her nieces next Saturday evening. We are all looking forward to a fun evening with family and friends.

“A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost,” Marion C. Garretty, American journalist, broadcaster and author.

Happy Birthday, Leslie, wishing you many more……….

©2013 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved








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Blue Moon………

My first blue moon sighting was in October, 1996. I was leaving my apartment in DeKalb, Illinois. I remember it was a beautiful, bright, cool night. At that point I knew nothing about blue moons. If I thought about them at all, I figured it was folklore or an old wives tale or granny juju or a song about being lonely without hope of love.  I knew nothing about two moons in a month or the third moon in a four moon season or even atmospheric conditions causing a blue tinged moon.

I looked up at a beautiful full moon hanging huge to the south, slightly southwest of where I was standing.  There were blue rings around the edges. The moon surface had patches of dark blue and light blue. I asked my roommate what she knew about blue moons. Did she know if they were real? She said they were real, rare and that was all she knew.

I went on about my life, believing that the blue moon I saw that October night in 1996 was a talisman of my graduate school days, living my life for myself, doing what I wanted to do, when I wanted do it; a harbinger of good things to come. The past several years, my life had been a series of highs and lows and was beginning to even out to an up and down rhythm.

My second blue moon sighting was last night, August 21, 2013. On Monday evening, August 20, I noticed what appeared to be a beautiful full moon. This moon did not have the blue aura of my previous sighting. Later in the evening, while surfing my favorite sites on the internet,  I noticed a reference about a blue moon. My computer table, office chair and laptop are finally set up in my lily cave (second bedroom), so I settled in for a little blue moon research.

Research turned up several definitions of the blue moon phenomena. My first blue moon sighting was a full, blue moon. So this was a rare sighting and was probably atmospheric in origin. What was going on in 1996? I found a full moon schedule of dates from 1900 to the present. There was a full moon on October 26, 1996. What were the atmospheric conditions in and around north central Illinois the last of October? On October 26, 1996, the largest late season tornado outbreak on record occurred. There were 26 tornadoes, beginning in Nebraska, moving to South Dakota and into Minnesota by late afternoon, early evening.  The atmosphere was definitely churning that day. I believe this explains my blue moon sighting. After all, I am a folk and it is my lore!

My second blue moon sighting is the third moon in a four moon season. My life is more balanced today. I have learned that seasons matter and that going with the flow of my life works well. The affirmation I receive from all of the rare and wonderful sightings in my life, of which blue moons are the rarest, of course, keeps me moving to the next right place for me to be.

My next blue moon sighting will be in July, 2015, a month with two moons. I think there needs to be a blue moon celebration for all blue moons. Of course, I believe celebrations are important vertebra  on the backbone of a healthy lifestyle……

©2013 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved








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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

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Along the Banks………

We have been floating close to the banks of the waterways the past seven months. After much drama and financial instability, we moved to Kanas, where Lily has a job and, most importantly, health insurance. Our lives appear to be leveling off. Some days all we could do was take a deep breath and plunge ahead.

The angst of finding a new place to live, downsizing from 2200 square feet of living space, with a walkup attic, to 1400 square feet, packing and loading the two rental trucks and trailer is fading from a three month distance. The other day I checked in with my muscles and brain tissue and found the pain of almost 24/7 packing and loading had finally leeched out of my body.

Sam and Abby and their parents will join us for Thanksgiving and I have become reconciled to seeing them three to four times a year. Although, I am looking forward to using the webcam I gave to their parents on October 31 for the great costume unveiling!

I am thinking it is time to venture off the water banks a little and find a place somewhere between the edge and the middle……….

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The other day I was wondering how to describe exactly what the word “thing” meant. Recently, we have been using the phrases “It is just one thing after another,” or “If it is not one thing, it is another,” to describe our lives. As I search for another paying gig I have been using my personal favorite,“What is the next best thing?”

I went to my handy wikitionary website and found what I was looking for. I backed up my research with information from Merriam-Webster online.  As usual, the English language has multiple definitions for a string of letters we pronounce as a word. No wonder non-English native speakers question our spoken meaning.

Thing noun

1. a material object without life or consciousness; an inanimate object.

2. some entity, object, or creature that is not or cannot be specifically designated or precisely described: The stick had a brass thing on it.

3. anything that is or may become an object of thought: things of the spirit.

4. things, matters; affairs: Things are going well now.

5. a fact, circumstance, or state of affairs: It is a curious thing.


From Middle English, from Old English þing (thing), from Proto-Germanic *þingan; compare German Ding, Danish and Norwegian ting. The word originally meant “assembly”, then came to mean a specific issue discussed at such an assembly, and ultimately came to mean most broadly “an object”. Compare the Latin res, also meaning legal matter. Modern use to refer to a Germanic assembly is likely influenced by cognates (from the same Proto-Germanic root) like Old Norse þing (thing), Swedish ting, and Old High German ding with this meaning.


What is your thing…………..

©2012 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved

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Living my sum total life…….

We are the sum total of our life experiences and choices made while living those experiences. I am accountable for decisions I make and accept responsibility for actions resulting from those choices. Choosing to not make a decision is a choice. I am then responsible for consequences resulting from the non-decision.  Seems I cannot get away from accepting responsibility for myself!

Sometimes when my sum total life intersects with others living their sum total life conflicts arise. Then my choice is to be in their experience or leave and find another place to be.  Why do we stay? Why do we go?

At the end of every Rotary meeting we stand and repeat the Rotary Four-Way Test in unison:

Is it the truth?

Is it fair to all concerned?

Will it build good will and better friendships?

Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

I ask myself the four Rotary questions in everything I think, say and do now. If the answer is no, I have a choice to make.

Some choices are easier to live with than others……..

©2012 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved


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Still Floatin’……..

The old lily pad has been listing a little from the wear and tear of the past eight months. Mike has had several brushes with pneumonia. The third weekend of September he was in intensive care for several days and two  days in intermediate care. About six weeks later he was in intermediate care for several days. About a month after that he went to the doctor when he started to feel lousy. She caught the beginning of the pneumonia. He was able to come home on antibiotics. Mike is paying closer attention to what his body is telling him. I know what pneumonia breathing sounds like. Continuing education has always been important to me.

In October, Sam’s mom gave birth to his sister, Abby, and daughter Jami called and asked if she, her husband and the children could move in with us while they got their financial life back together. We looked at each other, took a deep gulp of air, said yes and went off to visit the new baby. Son-in-law Don finished up his CDL (Commercial Driver License) class in Kansas. Jami and the children showed up the beginning of October.

We had two high school students switching schools again, 6 weeks into the school year. A recent high school graduate who did not really  know what she wanted to do in life. And then there is the preschooler working  on her PH.D in teenage smart talk. The Jami mama is working as an executive assistant at the museum where I was working the past eight months.

We are four months into this intergenerational experiment. I have left the museum. Mike has applied for disability. I am once again wondering just what I really want to do with the rest of my life. Right now all I want to do is earn enough to pay our monthly COBRA insurance bill.

We are entering a new life phase. The float is still all good………..


©2012 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved




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