around the frame jan 2004


Thanks for your e-mail!

You asked where I was. We are traveling again—east and south. My mother is with my husband and me this winter.

I devour Ninepatch when I receive it. I so enjoy hearing what others are reading and doing as well as how they are feeling.



Diana ( June ’03)adds,

“I have been attending a Bible study with my daughter one morning a week. I really miss being there when I travel. I hope I can locate a similar one wherever I am.”


Hey Lady!

I agree that a FULL LIFE is the answer to letting a child move on and to reaching the needed balance. I’m beginning to explore what a full life — based on possibility instead of responsibility –– will look like for me.

It’s odd to be standing in the middle of the responsibility space I’ve created and to think, “Well – now — here I am. What now? What do I want? What would I like? What will grow me? What shall I avoid or carefully not choose?”

It’s a good place to be, but it’s odd. The experience brings to mind Janis Joplin’s lyric, Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. The words seem negative, but that’s just not true. It’s more like, “I can lay this part of my life down now — what shall I pick up instead? Why?” And, “For how long?”

No answers yet. I’m just coasting, waiting for my job to change since I suspect my company is about to sell. I’m also waiting for my son to graduate from high school

in two and a half years. I’m waiting to see where I’ll be and what I’ll want then.

And who knows anyway? I’m just trying to sit still with myself and take it one day at a time. I’m trying to explore more social venues and make new friends. Currently, I have plenty of friends for a single mother — but not nearly enough for a single woman with a full life.

Making new friends takes work. To me, it’s going to new places and seeking out kindred spirits. This activity is what now fills the time that my son used to occupy.



Sherryl (Oct.’03) says, “Predictably, I’m more interested in spirituality than ever. That may even be an age thing since I’m creeping up on forty these days.”


Dear Frances,

I have been “out of pocket”! I went to Mom and Dad’s house for a visit. My mother took my girls and me shopping. When I starting unpacking this morning, I tossed out something unloved for every new item I hung in my closet – great progress with my cluttering.

One nice thing about being away from home, I came back with fresh eyes and recognized more I could toss. Another gift from my visit was seeing my parents’ home FULL to every corner. I realized that in my tendency to save everything– the apple didn’t fall very far from the tree!

Love and prayers,


Joy J/W ( Nov-Dec ’03) observes, “Good grief! I discovered I have my school papers from elementary on up.”



Dear Frances,

I want to comment on the sticky note enclosed in my October 2003’s Ninepatch. It read. “Some things have to be believed to be seen.” That might be true with a water “diviner”… I wanted to figure out where to put my well on some property I am working on in Northern Michigan.

I was led to a water douser (diviner), someone who has the gift of being able to find good, abundant water using a willow stick. I met him that morning in the drizzle, an ordinary-looking fellow with a Detroit Pistons hat and jacket, about seventy, I’d say. He had three sticks that were freshly cut and looked like big Ys. I showed him the area where the well needed to be and he started walking around holding the two ends of the Y in his hands.

Every so often, the single end of the stick would be pulled to the ground and he’d mark that spot with his toe. All the time, this man is going on and on about all the successes he’s had and also sharing that he tries to find two streams that are perpendic-ular so that there is less chance of missing the good flow of water.

Now the final spot is marked, he comes at it from several directions just to verify it. We mark the proposed well with a stake and he says, “Do you want to try?”

So he showed me the exact way to hold the divining rod and I walked toward that spot… and as I approached the stake, all at once the stick just pulled to the ground at that spot. I could hardly believe the strong pull even though I believed in someone else’s powers. I think my strong belief in this process made me able to do it!

Anyway, that’s my dousing story. I’ll keep you posted as to how good the water turns out to be.



Palma ( Nov.-Dec.’03) adds, “ The wild thing was that later, as we talked, we realized that thirty years ago for a period of six weeks, he had been my student teaching advisor. I hadn’t recognized his name, a good Finnish name, as he had gone by “Mr. T.” which was easier for the kids to pronounce.”

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