around the frame aug 2009

Dear Frances,

Your e-issue reflection on city walking in Michigan and learning names of wildflowers (weeds) remind-ed me of my English childhood. We also had bindweed with its milky sap and clinging nature. I recall glori-ous summer days of gathering Queen Anne’s lace, popping snapdragons, the brilliance of red-hot pokers and a tangy scent of elderberry trees in bloom. There’s such a sweetness to overgrown fields rampant with wild-flowers. George Washington Carver believed that a weed is just a flower growing in the wrong place.

        After all this recollection, I’m feeling the urge to visit the UK next spring break when the flowers (and wildflowers) are splendid. There is nothing like an English garden or an English meadow! And I will also meet my two new great-nephews!



 Liz/Moscar (July’09) adds, “As a memorial to the incredible talent of Michael Jackson, I am working on my moonwalk!”


 Dear Frances,

I like the way my poem, “IN” turned out last month. Thanks. You might be interested to know that where it is in my new book, Simon Sez: You’re The Expert On You, there was (my error) a blank page inserted into the middle of the poem.  I used that space as a challenge to everyone as I personally handed out a book. I asked each of the more than twenty-two people from my high school class to write down their most significant event or example of dependence and of independence, the topics of last month’s  Ninepatch poem, “In.” 

I issued the challenge again at my reunion during one of the group meals.  My best friend from the class will gather the responses and send each of us the composite. Since conversations at a class reunion can only afford so much, perhaps we will become more committed to each other as we share more of our lives.  So far eleven have responded. 

            Just imagine!  It all came to be due to an error I made in preparing pages for the printer.


Simon Stargazer III (July ’09) adds, The Lord does work in mysterious ways!”


Hello Frances,

How are you on this bright sunny day? My doors and windows are open letting in fresh air! Dad is sitting out in the sun in his lawn chair. My husband is playing with the cat. (Sometimes I swear he is a little boy in an adult body. He takes no responsibility for anything.)

        It is a big day for me — a day off work and my second appointment with a counselor. Workmen are here installing new carpet I bought with our income tax refund. This is something I have wanted since we moved in this house a couple of years ago.

        The grand kids are in school and my daughter, Molly, is downstairs doing laundry. It’s quiet for a while. I have some “space.”

        In your last letter you said, “It was my experience as I focused away from my family troubles I felt better and the problems shrank.” You are right about that. I feel better when I think about other things.

        God bless you.

Love and prayers,


        LindaSue (July’09) adds, “I went to the library and checked out Something More by Sarah Ban Breathnach and requested  her first book, Simple Abundance. I also asked for, the other book you suggested Plain and Simple by Sue Bender. The library will call when they are available.”


Dear Frances:

I wanted to write you a quick note this afternoon and thank you for the lovely sympathy card and the gift of perpetual remembrance.  That’s very powerful.  The card certainly brought tears to my eyes. It’s a beautiful thing and greatly appreciated.  I am truly blessed for the friends that I have. 

It’s been a rocky week, but I am going to be okay.  Much life has passed in review and I find myself grateful for that, but also melancholy.  I do not want to live in the past. I want to “be here now,” yet I know that it is the past which informs who we are, what we do, and is the tool-box of what we will/can become.  Mother was a deep part of that and the time to process that feels near, for lack of a better explanation.

So, blessings on you, my dear friend.  You are a star in my family of choice and I am grateful for your friendship, your guidance, and your love.


Be Well,


 Linda (July’09) adds, “The sun is shining here and the temperature is chilly no matter what the thermometer says!” 



I am in the process of moving in.  The more I work on this project, the more I am sure I will give away what I truly don’t need!   My house looks like a hurricane — I’m going to have to get back to work! 

I am happy to be here.  


 Patience (July ‘09) continues, “I have started to meet some of the parish folks and will meet more and more as time goes on. I hope the honeymoon stays!”


Dear Frances,

How do I work my way to finding time for the important things?  

This month I made a list of five things I am doing and gave it to my husband so he can keep track of me.  One was an appointment for acupuncture, and the rest were things pleasant — but important? I sometimes feel like a gerbil on a wheel. 

I love hearing from you and knowing that what you say comes right from your heart.



  Louise (July ’09) adds, “To comment on your Monthly Question for June, The thing that scared me most right now is…  I think I’m afraid that when my life ends I will not have made full use of my gifts.”


Hi Frances,

        To avoid Florida’s summer heat, I walked over to the health center to work out early this morning. It was still mostly dark. As I passed a round white object in the parking lot, I almost kept on walking but I thought, “Can that be a coin?”  It was kinda’ shiny so I stopped, picked it up and since it was too dark to inspect, I just slipped it into my pocket.

When I returned home, I put on my glasses and examined my find. Guess what! It was a quarter! But wait… it was not just any quarter, it was a state commemorative quarter: 2004. We were married in 2004 on your birthday! 

         Marveling, upon further examination of the silvery coin, I saw that it featured the state of Michigan where you, my lovely wife, are spending part of the summer!

        How about that?

        I love you Frances,


        JK is married (to Editor Frances.) In his free time, he enjoys growing plants from seeds or cuttings, analyzing economic spreadsheets and playing chess. He adds, “Finding that particular quarter was quite a coincidence.”


Hi Frances,

On the Fourth of July my town still had fireworks. Nice. I understand many towns and cities have cancelled them due to lack of funds. 

I went to the VA medical facility last week, and for the first time saw a sign on the front of a new addition which reads:  “Cost of freedom is visible here.”  I will see that every time I go for my medical checkup. 

Mostly the guys there were hurt in WWII and Korea, but many younger ones are there, too, in wheel chairs, using walkers or being helped by volunteers or relatives.  It’s an eerie and humbling sight. I feel kind of strange as I walk– unassisted– to the blood lab, and into my appointment.  I waited alongside many who are not as fortunate.   I think it would probably be a valuable experience for others to visit a VA hospital lobby and see the guys and gals who served.

That reminds me of visiting the war memorials in DC earlier this year. It was May, a few days before Memorial Day and Brother Jim and I both wore our kaki Army caps and walked arm and arm with my lady friend. Lots of people there.  Many of them spoke to us saying:  “Thanks for serving!”   I was surprised at the comment and neither Brother Jim nor I really comprehended at first. 

Luckily, my lady friend — who understood what was going on right away — smiled and responded, “Thank you!” 

Those wonderful strangers were recognizing our service!

            Now I’m thinking of that headgear, I’ll wear my Army cap at the fireworks tonight.  



 Le (July ’09) adds, “I noticed my small South Dakota town has nine gas stations and ten banks! What do you suppose this means?”  


Hello Frances,

       I miss you here in Florida! It’s HOT here! We’re running away to the mountains of NC for a week to escape the steam bath.

Life has been busy, as always.  I’ve been grieving some for my much older sister, who’s in her mid 80s. In June she fell and broke her hip while in Kentucky attending the wedding of her youngest grandson. Being away from home made her situation more complicated.  For example, my nephew — who had taken her to the wedding — had to stay an extra ten days while she was in the hospital.

Sis had surgery and doctors put in a titanium plate and pins.   She got through that and is now in a rehab facility there, near where her daughter-in-law and granddaughter live.  Luckily, they are stepping up and being her medical advocates as well as making daily visits.

What really saddens me is that my sister’s dementia seemed so much worse during this affair, but when I talked to her yesterday, she was coherent and not having delusions. Maybe the extreme confusion and delu-sional thinking was from anesthesia and pain meds.  At least I am relieved that she is mentally more stable.

She is working with the physical and occupational therapists and seems to be making some progress. The problem is that a few hours after her session, she forgets what they showed her.

Doctors said Sis couldn’t fly back to her home in Missouri for thirty days after the surgery. My nephew is returning to Kentucky this week to check on her progress, and if she’s strong enough, in two weeks he will fly down and fly her back to her retirement community.

My sister really needs a great deal of supervision with her medications and personal care, so the good news is that she will be able to move into an assisted living space at the retirement facility.

Over the last year, I have watched her fail, both physically and mentally. Her husband went into a nursing home two hours away from the retirement community where she was moved so she saw him only once a month. This was a wrenching change for her. His death in December and a move to a different retirement facility compounded her confusion and worsened her short-term memory loss. Also, she’s griev-ing for the loss of her spouse of sixty-plus years and a move out of the home she’d lived in for forty-plus years.

As I think of her decline, I feel as though I’ve been watching a light go out in her. The gregarious, sociable woman still lingers as a faint shadow within her, but in many ways she has become irritable, lonely, isolated. I can grieve for this diminishing or I can remember the spark that shone for so many years. I try to hold on to the latter.

Life is all about change, I know, and I work hard at accepting this sad change in someone I love and who played a big role in helping me learn to be a wife and mother.

Stay in touch.


Linda Kay

Linda Kay is married and the mother of two grown children. In her free time, she enjoys exercising, listening to jazz and reading novels. She says, “Life is like clouds in many ways: dark ones cover the grey sky for a time, then they move on to reveal a blue sky and brilliant sun.”



Today I experienced a strong sense of déjà vu. My former neighbors have bought a house in north Florida and were back in my neighborhood today cleaning the house they are selling.

My husband and I had breakfast out with Mr. Neighbor, and this usually funny man was grumpy and complained about the work his wife wanted done today. Later in the day I saw Mrs. Neighbor, an ordinarily sunny person, and watched her hose off the porch, garage doors and garage floor. She grumbled about the condition renters had left the house in and griped about things her husband had or hadn’t done.

I felt such tension in the air! It took me back to the days when my husband and I lived weekends on the Jersey Shore. On Sunday afternoons I used to clean, do laundry, and pack the car for returning to the city. While I was preparing to leave, my husband sailed, played tennis or sat on the deck and read. Talk about tension!  I was always so angry — and I behaved like quite the martyr.

The problem in both situations is, of course, communication. I could write the book on how (and when) to communicate effectively in each situation. My question: Why has it taken me a lifetime to see myself so clearly? I know, I know. Sometimes we just aren’t ready. As I’ve heard in my Twelve Step program, “More will be revealed.”  Maybe I’m just a late bloomer.

Thanks for staying in touch.



       Elaine (July ’09) adds, “I made an appointment with a new psychiatrist, which is a positive step for me. Also, I’ve been working out with weights in my little swimming pool. It feels fabulous. I’m tired and mellow when I’m finished.”


No road through life

 is toll free.

 James (July ’09)says, “No matter what choice you make, there is some cost.”




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