Note: Following is a page from my spiritual journal.


Perfume of small white orange blossoms rode the breeze as I drove past rows of citrus trees laden with fruit. My drive across Florida’s state road 62 began just north of Wauchula, a small town on US17 east of Tampa and I-75. The two-lane was fairly straight, no cracks or potholes marred its surface.

Florida’s 62

Florida’s 62

I saw few other cars or pick-ups. After I set my cruise control to 60, part of my mind drifted. Angus cows and their calves grazed in fields of white “cow birds” that eat cattle’s ticks and fleas. Cows! Central Florida had many milk-givers and cattle, my younger son David and I used to count cows to pass the time as I drove from my parents’ Sebring home across a similar road to Bradenton and a Gulf beach. I smiled at the memory. Cows. cows, cows!

Rolling along, I remembered why I had moved to Sebring. My parents! After they retired there, I asked, “Why didn’t you go to the coast?”

Daddy shook his head, “Too much traffic!”

When I quizzed Mother, she shrugged, “Friends live here.”

When my widowed mother died in 1995, I could not sell her doublewide. Due to that and complications in my Michigan life, I had sold my northern condo and moved to her Sebring unit. Later, I found a buyer but remained in Sebring until after I married JK in 2004.

During my Sebring years, I was part of a circle of wonderful ladies who changed my thinking and trust. Closeness with wise women was a rare and wonderful experience that touched me deeply. When I moved to Gainesville, I kept in touch with several of them and had driven down to see June, who I emailed every day. While in the area, I said hello to George and Anna who also still lived there.

Anna and George

Anna and George

The same day June and I lunched with Nancyann, a friend from our old circle. I thought of missing circle members. Dottie left for the North, Joy and Serena moved back to their Mid-south families. Helen and Julie joined the angels.

Nancyann, me and June

Nancyann, me and June

Rain from a passing cloud spattered my windshield. Fat Florida drops. After clearing the windshield, I passed a side road marked “Plant City” with an arrow pointing north. Glancing up the empty road, I recalled driving to ‘Strawberry Singles” with my dancing pal, Dottie.

Dottie in 2006

Dottie in 2006

Later, we attended dances in Lakeland. I met JK at a Lakeland dance….

Not far off the road, I noticed two small white crosses crowned with red, blue and yellow plastic flowers. Around them was a white picket fence. Two people died there. Someone is tending the area as a remembrance. Bless them!

The somber feeling brought memories of others who recently died. God bless Aunt Deanie, Jeannie, Denny,…Julie, Helen….

At a stop sign, 62 ended. I turned right for about a mile before jogging west onto Moccasin Wallow, a similar rural two-lane that led to I-75. On both sides of the highway, large machines were clearing the land.

Later, I saw two gated communities. One brick gate was labeled “Cooperstone.” Who wants to live way out here? They must drive miles for groceries!

Minutes ahead on an overpass, cars and trucks whizzed by on 6-lane I-75. I turned onto the ramp marked “North to Tampa.” Pushing the accelerator hard, I merged with fast-moving traffic.

Goodbye memory drive!


around the frame apr 2018 – our experiences

sandy says cover

Hi Fritzie,

I just finished reading March ‘18 Ninepatch.. It is a totally miserable winter day here and I thought reading it would be an enjoyable break …and it was!

I thought what you did for Sandy regarding her “musings” was an amazing gift.

Chantal (See her MONTHLY QUESTION comment in this issue.) adds, “I would like to be able to read it sometime.”


Thank you so much, Frances!

The Ritz cracker “bus-lady” treats are delicious! 

Here in Southern Ohio, we have survived cold, icy weather with much snow and bad roads. Temperatures have hovered around zero. Then we had lots and lots of rain and everything flooded. But the sun is out today!

God bless. 


Your friend,


Carolinelee (Sept.’15) adds, “Please say hello to my daughter when you go to copy the newsletter.”


Dear Frances,

Enjoyed your February ‘18 Mid-month Reflection. I remember the 1950’s, when many of the TV ads were about “dingy whites” in the laundry. Back then, it seems that a woman’s worth was based largely on the laundry, and heaven help you if the neighbors saw a line of dingy whites!

Bless you, my friend,

June Poucher (Mar.’18) adds, “Thanks for the tip about Borax; I’ll look for it!”


20 mule team borax cleaner


Boy, does your Feb. ‘18 Mid-month Reflection about doing laundry bring back childhood memories! 

My mom had a wringer washing machine and used all the laundry products your mom did.  In winter, she even hung her clothes in the basement close to the furnace!   In the summer, the clothes went on the line outside.  I loved the smell of sheets on my bed after they dried. 

I used to hang my sheets on the line when I became an adult.  Then, I became a single mom and did not have time.  I used the dryer. 

Talk to you later my friend.



Patricia (Mar.’18) adds, “I miss the smell of those sheets even today.”  


Dearest Frances,

I’m also sorry to hear about Palma! I didn’t realize. I’ve had my head shoved so far up my own hind end….

By the way, I also looked up the laundry bluing I used to use… when we could still find it in stores here. There is a website, including a page about ‘where’ to find it. Hope this helps…


Also, since you don’t seem to be familiar with Borax, I figured you might want to know that it’s usually available at WalMart and most hardware stores. While it’s great for laundry, it does have other uses. For ex-ample, I add it to my water when washing walls, cupboards, and such, and find it helps lift some grease, stains, and discoloration from painted surfaces.

Meantime, my dear, I hope that you will remember to take care of yourself… do a little self-care while dealing with Palma’s impending death. My thoughts and prayers are with you,




Lynn D. (Mar.’18) adds, “Since I have a dog, and my sister who lived with me did, too, I also found that Borax is great for getting rid of fleas. I sprinkle it on carpets, furniture, between mattresses and box springs. It kills them like nothing else!”


Dear St. Frances,

April is the month of opening, when nature literally reawakens –at least, in our Northeastern mountains. Spring growth is pushing up and out and over us. On my section of the mountain, the crocuses are in bloom, with the forsythia covered in bright yellow blossoms, and the little glories-of-the-snow dotting parts of the yard. I normally see them peek through snow but no white stuff this year.

However, we still have the rest of this month and May to get through! With the weather here being somewhat fickle at best and stormy at most, who knows!

So enjoy whatever beauty you see! Take a breather. Sit back and put your feet up while reading!


Malaina (Mar. ‘18) adds, “Be sure and have your cuppa’ cha or joe within reach!”


Liz on Mt. Cuyamaca, a replacement hike

Liz on Mt. Cuyamaca, a replacement hike

Dear Fritzaspringiscoming!

I thought I was going to Death Valley last weekend but the trip fell through since we couldn’t find a four wheel drive to rent.

No matter. I did three back- to-back day hikes –one with my longest term hiking group and two with my friend Brigitte who is equally as fanatic as I am!

We hike and talk about our kids, relationships and such. It’s a good feeling. 



Liz/Moascar (Mar.’18) adds, “I am sick at heart at the latest school shooting –any shooting really. I’ve been contacting my congress people….”


Dear Frances,

Thank you for your words of sympathy when my brother died. It’s been a couple of months now and I am coping.

I do not grieve openly. My grief runs more in the background –or “underground.” I know it is there, but I am busy and need to focus on each task. I’m making mistakes which I know come from the divided attention of my mind.

You wrote you find help in the idea that God has a plan. I’ve never found comfort in that concept. I don’t really embrace the idea that each life is predestined.

Our world is broken. I know that God knows where all things are in the universe and can bring good from evil through the faithfulness of His people –though he often chooses not to do so.

For me, “God has a plan” is less comfort than “I will not leave you or forsake you… my peace I give to you.”



Georgene (Mar. ’18) adds, “In my sorrow, I cling to that quote.”


Hello Frances,

My sincere apologies for not responding or keeping in touch. Life has been and is very hectic.

I have been involved in an organization that wants to support families of “Special Needs” kids. Also, I’m putting food baskets together for them

Still teaching in the morning and monitoring (babysitting) the kids in the after-care school program. (Those kids act as if they are entitled to being here. Have a hard time with that attitude.)

Have been writing about nursing homes for an organization. I’ve also written a song. Now a lady who sings for nursing home residents is helping me put music to the words. Exciting!

My dearest greetings,



Lotte (Feb. ’14) “ I still enjoy reading Ninepatch.” 


Hi Frances, 

Since starting my own business in August 2016, I’ve had almost NO TIME TO MYSELF!  Winter 2018, however, has been super slow. I’m finally beginning to get caught up on some housework and home im-provement, as well as taking the time to read a few novels by my favorite new novelist, and reading through my large stacks of Ninepatch.

  I began with February ’18 and I’m reading backwards.  I wanted to take a moment to let you know that I appreciate your stories about your adult son and the struggles he is having with his own son.  It was interesting to hear how you pause and think carefully before texting your replies –making sure that you stay grounded in your ultimate desire of being supportive and staying positive.  Although texting was your son’s request, it seems to me that texting gives you the space to take a breath and keep yourself on track.

  I also strive to communicate carefully and lovingly with my own son, who is turning 30 in March and does not yet have a wife or children of his own.  I realized a few years ago that he is an adult, and that any ideas I might have had about how his adulthood would look are irrelevant. 

He is my only child, and he is precious to me, and I can see his progress and his striving and I am proud of his caring nature and his ambition.  It is rewarding to watch him taking more and more responsibility for making his own life better.  There are times when I wish things were easier for him –but I stop those thoughts and reassure myself that this is HIS PATH and HIS GROWTH and I can trust it’s unfolding and his response to that unfolding. 

Not that it’s easy, but as soon as I move my compass to that point where I trust his unfolding and his own abilities to create his own life –I feel better.  That feels like the right place for me to be.

  In reading your February ’18 story, I see that life goes on, and issues cycle back around with the next generation.  May I be as wise and thoughtful as you are when facing the ever deeper layers of issues as they peel away down through the years. Motherhood is tricky at every stage.  Awesome–but tricky.

Love to you as you let all your cyber frustrations wash over you and away.  Spring is here.

  Love and Hugs,


Sherryl (Oct. ‘17) adds, “It’s nice to have time to listen to other people’s stories.  They are often mirrors that help me to clarify my own commitments to mind my own business, which is usually to listen and love, period.” 






If you truly want to be a friend to someone, it’s important to get to know their background a little bit. Find out their interests, where they’ve come from and what kind of foods or drink they like.

Maybe, he or she has been harmed in some deep way, too. Some of us have hurts that have been buried for a long time.

If you truly want to be a friend to someone, try to understand these wounds.

Bookworm (Mar. ‘18) adds, “Many people jump to conclusions because I am Autistic. I have been misread and instead of friendship I’ve endured bullying.”


(By Editor Frances with quotes from Palma)

Feb. 10, 2018

Palma called me. She was still living at home but was mostly bed-ridden. She could get up to eat and use the bathroom, but needed a walker.  She said, “I want to eat less and less.”

Feb. 18, 2018

Palma called me, with a “birthday vibe.” (My birthday is 9 days after hers on Feb. 11.)  ”Having been in Hospice at home for the last 3 months, I have now moved to a place called Hospice house. I have a private room and one wall is all windows and a door. It looks out on the woods and has bird feeders on the deck. I’m here because I am paralyzed from the chest down and need 24-hour care.  It was very sad leaving my house. I cried a lot that day.”

 March 1, 2018

I called Palma.  Her hello sounded heavy. She said, “I had to get higher pain meds. I was tense with pain and irritable with everyone. I don’t want to be that way.” She is taking hydrocodone.   She said, “I was hoping not to have to take the narcotic but I enjoy the relief from pain.”

March 10, 2018

I saw this post from Palma’s Facebook page: “I’m discouraging visitors. I’m scaling down my people activity. I appreciate everyone’s concern. Please pray for God’s will and a peaceful passing.”


Palma (Mar. ‘18) adds,This last adventure has taken me places I could never have imagined. Probably the most heartwarming is that my oldest son has shared in writing much of his childhood and teen years with me and the whole family. He is also asking in writing for some of those experiences I’ve had in  the years we’ve been apart.”


(Part I of 3)

December 2017

During the worst part of Michigan’s winter, my husband Bill and I had planned to roam the South and Southwest. However in December, I wondered if I would even be able to walk! I had terrible, pain-wracked cramps in my lower legs. I didn’t think I would be able to do much walking on our trip

Unable to see my doctor, I was in near constant pain. I used a combination of heating pads and arthritis doses of acetaminophen and managed to grin and bear it. Sleeping was difficult, I tossed and turned most nights and hurt through all of them.

I was determined to make the trip. Bill and I set off anyway.

antique camper

antique camper

Linda Rosenthal (Jan.’18) adds, “What I remember of your last e-mail to me was that you mentioned we are making our memories for a time when we will look back. I want to be like the 84- year- old woman whose story I read in an RV museum today–she sold her little antique trailer to the RV museum, because she felt the travel was getting to be a little much for her.”


This humorous title is a memoir by Judge Judy Sheindlin. For those who have watched her TV court show, much of the book will provoke a smile of familiarity.

She writes with a sense of humor and tolerance for what her career has taught her. (See next.)

Her style is free flowing, easy to read, and enjoyable.

June Poucher (Mar. ‘18) adds. “I’m a confirmed fan of Judge Judy.”

“THE 15:17 TO PARIS”

My husband and I went to see this movie directed by Clint Eastwood. It was good.

It showed these three men as boys in elementary school in Sacramento, California. They were “troubled kids.”

But, these same boys grew into the men who saved lives when terrorists boarded a train headed to Paris, France in 2015.

Characters Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler had become men who did a good deed.

Kay (Mar. ‘18) adds, “What an honor! These men received medals for their heroism in France and the United States. They were also honored at a parade in hometown, Sacramento.”


This non-fiction volume is by Tim Bauerschmidt & Ramie Liddle. Here’s an idea of the story from its dust jacket. “When Miss Norma was diagnosed with uterine cancer, she was advised to undergo surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy… instead Miss Norma –newly widowed … told the doctor, ‘I’m ninety years old. I’m hitting the road.’ And so Miss Norma took off on an unforgettable around-the-country journey in a thirty-six-foot motor home with her retired son Tim, his wife Ramie, and their dog Ringo.”

It was a good book and it got me thinking about end of life decisions. Doctors and meds aren’t always the answer. Her story was uplifting!


Muffin (Mar.’18) adds, “With all the snow, drizzle, ice and rainy stuff, I am not going out, but reading.”


Beware of the “sure thing.”

James (Mar. ’18) expands, “Overconfidence may be the mother of disaster.”


Perception can change

Reality doesn’t.


Success in life

Relies upon careful

Scrutiny of reality, with

A healthy re-evaluation of…

You guessed it: your perception!

Simon Stargazer III (Mar. ‘18) says, “My daughter Robin is a perfect example of perception versus reality. At age 16, she dropped out of high school wanting ‘freedom’ to spread her wings earn her own money and spend it as she wanted to. 

She got a job as a waitress and with a bubbly personality, she made good tips. It turned out that “good tips” weren’t good enough to meet her spending desires. 

We helped by introducing her to a pet store owner friend of ours who taught her how to groom animals. She loved it!  Life was good… until she realized she couldn’t afford to spend what she wanted and still get her own place and move out. One day she came to me and said “Dad, I like what I do and make good money, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life washing dogs, clipping nails and nursing scratches and bites. 

I coached,. “Get your GED and look into an education for something you want for a career.”

She said, “I’m afraid to take the test, I don’t have the education for it”

Robin,” I replied, “There are some pretty easy GED prep courses you can take to get ready.”

I forgot about our talk till one day she came to me and said “Hi, Dad! Guess what? I got my GED! If I’d known how easy it was, I would have done it years ago!”

She loves her new career as a Registered Surgical Nurse with her own home and long term plans of moving to Colorado and becoming a flight nurse!

She finally accepted the true reality of life and its responsibilities and rewards.