My sister, Virginia, and I often took our kids to a beach motel with a pool for a summer weekend.

One day a Florida thunderstorm came up and we rushed the kids out of the pool. My son was about 4 years old. He was cold and shivering so I hurried him to the room, took off his bathing suit and dried him off to warm him up.

I handed him his clothes and he just stood there, still shivering. I asked, “What are you waiting for?”

He said, “I’m waiting for you to get out so I can get dressed!”

June Poucher (May ‘17) adds, “I hid my smile and got out!”

around the frame jun 2017 – our experiences

In cheer block, seniors sat in front. (Singing school song. (Me: front, far right.)

Hi Frances,

I enjoyed reading about the basketball games in the April ’17 Ninepatch.

Your description brought back an atmosphere that I remember from my years of attending basketball games. I also recall fondly the many games I attended when in high school and college.

In high school, I was a cheerleader. I attended both in town and out of town games. Instead of your “cheering section,” I was the one leading the cheers.

We didn’t have a fancy cheering section like your high school did. I loved the images of the your group cheering.

At Michigan State University, my husband and I attended all the home games

the year we were married and in college. That’s one of the fond things I remember about my husband.



Palma (Feb. ’17) adds, “I want also to thank Georgene for the wonderful little vignettes she often sticks on my paper newsletter.”


The “Florida dog”


Your “Farfel” story in Apr. ‘17’s Mid-month reflection is a riot! It made me chuckle.

In the early 80’s and 90’s, I had a boyfriend.  He was a sweetheart and he loved that Nestle’s commercial so much, thought it such a hoot, he named the Bassett hound we found on the road Farfel.

He even had “Farfel” inscribed on his lighter –what a nut!

The catch is, he named EVERY dog “Farfel” until I demanded that our other dogs be named differently.  So we had at one time, Boo, Farfel and Beau.


L. to R.: (large to small) Beau, Farfel and Boo.

L. to R.: (large to small) Beau, Farfel and Boo.


Pam S. (Mar. 16) adds, “The dogs didn’t seem to notice their names were not particularly dignified.” 


Unfinished house 2016


I know we’ve lost touch over the years.

I just wanted to simply say that I’ve continued to enjoy your reflections online. For some reason, your May ’17 narrative on this “Unfinished House” really touched me.

Thank you.


CaT (Nov. ’13) adds, “I too am in the process of rebuilding my life and perhaps that is what struck a cord.”

Finished house 2017


Hi Frances,

The finished beach building looks like a 4-plex – multiple dwellings… expanding the joy to more families who will take advantage of the view!

Reminds me of when I was a residential construction lender. I saw many a blueprint and worked it out in my mind to imagine the finished project. I used to find great joy in visiting the projects for onsite inspections during construction, checking to see how accurate my mind’s eye was to the real thing.

Of course, the best was seeing the project finished. Though I did little but to pro-mote lending the money I still felt I had a hand in turning an idea into a home.



Hi Frances,

I love the idea of seasons of the soul.

Your thoughtful piece struck my funny bone, however. If the exterior of my self-house is any indication, well, extensive remodeling is necessary, or… it’s ready for tearing down and starting over from the ground up!

I’ve been going through old photos during the past week, admiring the looks of my former self, ? but also appreciating the wonderful hiking life I enjoyed during my Arizona era.

It has been such a good life and I can definitely see that everything is in Divine Order.  I am feeling blessed to enjoy the peaceful pleasures of the most beautiful springtime that I can remember.

So, this season of the soul is one of feeling satisfied, knowing I’m learning so much about myself with my husband.

No accidents, no coincidences!!!

Thanks for your thoughtful sharing.


Gail (See her book comment this issue.) adds, “I fell in love with Arizona’s Sedona area in 1985 and lived there off and on until 1994.”


Dear Frances,

Thank you for the note and Ninepatch.

Two years ago, I retired from my job. Today I have been looking through cards and letters I received then. I found a retirement card from you. When you were in town, you took me out for breakfast. Remember?

My daughter and her husband are taking me out to dinner tonight to celebrate my retirement. (I don’t see them very often.)

Happy memories, happy day!

Love and Prayers,


LindaSue (May’17) adds, “I had physical therapy for a month and now do exercises at home, twice a day. They help a lot.”


Hi Fritzie,

My grandson, Bryce went back to Florida. He was on Disney’s re-hire list so he decided to go back. He really liked living there but could not afford the rent. (He was only working part time and he didn’t make enough money.) Now he was hired full time. He is one of the workers opening a new “land.”

When he left, I was blessed with his cat, Tara. She is absolutely the prettiest cat. She is a tortoise-tiger. (Not completely tortoise because she has a white chest and the “M” on her forehead. Do you know what the “M” is?)

She has the greenest eyes. Tara was kind of a sad fur baby. As a kitten, Bryce’s roommate got her from a friend. She was his companion. She was with the guy all the time. Then, the roommate moved back to Texas The little cat looked for him and waited for a long time.

Bryce wanted to take her with him to Florida but was flying and afraid she might get hurt. I told him I would take her.

Tara is about five years old and has been here since the middle of March. She follows me around and even sleeps with me. Her temperament is a lot

like my deceased cat, Maggie.

My husband and I really like her a lot. Our other cat, Mr. Gray, gets along with her, too. She is not aggressive. She just sits and stares at him.

Talk to you later,


Patricia (Apr. ‘17) adds, “The new cat is settling in pretty well and seems a little happier.”


Dear Frances,

Last week I attended a singles get together in a very nice subdivision.  (In fact, it was the same subdivision where I rented a room years ago.)

They had about 5 areas of different games including bean toss & Pictionary.  Everyone drew a card to indicate which area he/she would start at. 4 people were in each area.

I’d play the game for about 20 minutes and then switch to another area with new people.  The purpose was to meet each other.  (Great idea.)

The hosts provided snack food and we had a short meeting. The organizers asked for new ideas for future get-togethers.

It was the first singles group I felt was worth joining.


Dottie (Mar. ‘17) adds, “I knew three girls when I arrived at the party, but met lots of others.”


Dear St. Frances,

I am still thinking about forgiveness. Part of it is changing my mind’s channel and not allowing my thoughts to drift back into the situation that caused my hurt and need to forgive. Distracting my mind with activities that make me happy is a great start.

Having a hobby comes in handy. And, I also aim to spend time with happy people.

Of course, not everyone is good being around a lot of people in the first place. I’m that way sometimes. That’s when I read. Needing solitude also led me to the hobby of raising chickens. I even started growing plants in a small greenhouse!

Some ideas for more social or occasionally-social folks are: grooming pets, jogging or getting with a cooking class.

Volunteering at Friends of the Library or helping children in need or senior citizens is good, too. Maybe there’s even a sewing or hobby/craft group you might join.

Whatever group you join, make sure that the people are good for you and with you. My experience was a trial and error.

I joined an interesting group –for a short while. (Very, very short while.)  At the end of the meetings, I discovered I was shaking and upset. I couldn’t say what was going on, so I decided the energy in the room was draining me.  I quit attending.

Eventually I joined a different group that was all smiles and relaxation. I look forward to going each week and consider this group of sewing women my weekly therapy!

We either bring our work or all stitch on one. We finish a lot of quilting projects.


Malaina (May ‘17) adds, “Forgiveness is not a one-time event. I have to work at it.”



Note: Following is a page from my spiritual journal.

In the early 1950s, Salem Bank’s downstairs coffee room was sometimes my Saturday roost. During my early grade school years, if both grandmas were busy and Mother had to work, my folks took me with them to the bank.

Those days, she smiled as if telling a joke. “It’s OK. After all, you are the bank baby!”

Mother sometimes took me to say hello to the old men who sat at one end of the lobby behind large desks. During a visit, one of them said, “I once changed your diaper!”

I blinked. My diaper?

His story was probably true. Daddy was away in WWII when I was born. Mother had been working at the bank. With the town’s men away fighting, the bank needed all the good workers they could find.

For some reason the bank officers allowed Mother to bring me with her in the buggy.

I could read now and Mother gave me a quarter to buy a comic book. Once the Goshen News opened at 9:00, I went upstairs, told daddy I was leaving and walked two doors down to shop for comics.

Wonder Woman? Lassie? Little Lulu? The quarter would buy two, but it was hard to decide which ones. Once I did, I scampered back to the bank and checked in with Daddy whose desk was near the front door. Returning to the basement’s break room, I lost myself in the comic books’ words and pictures.

When Daddy came downstairs for his coffee time, he dropped a dime in a special jar so I could eat a donut from the covered dish on the long table. While he sipped coffee, I chewed my sweet reward for being a “good girl.”

Mother’s daddy, Grampa Harry, also worked at the bank. He was the janitor. Saturdays when Mother and Daddy took me to work, he stepped into the break room now and then and raised his eyebrows at me. “You bein’ good?”

The break room –Mother stands far right.

The break room –Mother stands far right.

At noon, Mother, Daddy and I trooped next door to Myers Drug store’s grill. Sitting in a wooden booth, I bit into a hamburger and French fries. Mother and Daddy drank coffee but I gulped a cold chocolate shake. My favorite meal!

After lunch, I tired of coloring, cutting paper dolls and reading comics. I found Grampa and followed him around. He was grumpy. “Stand back! Don’t touch that!”

“I’m goin’ upstairs.” I said.

Head down, Grampa glurked greenish liquid into a tall metal pail with a squeeze-y mop-thing on it. He didn’t look up but said, “You stay out of everyone’s way!”

I climbed the steps that came up behind the directors’ desks. The old men were gone.

Using soft steps, I approached the tellers’ area. Not speaking, I watched people standing in line. A farmer wore jeans and

People wait in tellers’ lines.

People wait in tellers’ lines.

a boxy coat. Most men wore hats, one woman covered her hair with a scarf. The weather was chilly and all wore some kind of jacket.

Sometimes an Amish man came in wearing a long beard, black coat and a hat like a pilgrim. Watching people is fun!

After looking at men and women who came and went through the front glass doors that opened automatically, my eyelids felt heavy. Think I’ll take a nap.

Returning to the break room, I curled up on the leather-like couch that my shoes wouldn’t hurt. Next thing I knew, I heard Daddy say, “Time to go, Junior!”

I sat up and blinked.

“Where’s Mother?”

“She’s not ready yet. I’ll come back and get her later.” He smiled. “Let’s go home and see Bootsie! She’ll want out.”

We lived about a mile from town and Daddy soon parked our dark green Buick in front of the house. Before he got his house key out, through the front door’s glass panel I

saw our rust-colored cocker spaniel dancing inside the door. Her tag wagged and her toenails tap-tap-tapped on the wood floor.

With a jingle of his key ring, Daddy pushed the door in. Bootsie rushed out, sniffed me, romped into the yard and squatted in the mostly brown spring grass.

Memories of a less complicated time left me with a smile. I am blessed.

Frances Fritzie

Frances Fritzie


Editor’s note: Following is a page from my spiritual journal.

Cars whizzed by on both sides as I drove a familiar multilane through Gainesville, Florida. Stopping for a red light, I noticed the sunlight had a fresh slant. Looks like spring!

Heading home, at another light I saw red buds swelling maple branch ends. Small chartreuse leaves softened harsh gray limbs of trees I could not name.

Turning up the hill toward home, I saw JK standing on the driveway. Wearing sound-protecting earmuffs, he aimed a power blower at our driveway dotted with spring-shed Southern oak leaves. He waved me on and I parked up the street.

After carrying in two grocery bags, I wiped yellow dust from the glass top of an outdoor table and chairs. Pollen says it’s spring for sure.

Once JK finished using the blower, I sat at the table. A slight breeze lifted my hair and birds chirped high in nearby trees. Lovely to be outdoors now… before the mosquitoes hatch!

Spring’s ambiance carried my mind back more than 50 years.

Gramma Elizabeth did not have a cement driveway, but in spring, she cleaned her Goshen, Indiana sidewalk. In memory, I see her. She’s wearing a small print housedress and a loose sweater with her old black lace-up Red Cross shoes that have little holes in the tops where her little toes are.

Carrying one end of the garden hose to the sidewalk, she tells me, “Zip your jacket now, and stay out of the water!”

She turns the nozzle and water sprays onto the cement squares. Twigs and yellowish swirl-y things swish into the street.

One spring Saturday while my folks worked, Daddy took me to Gramma’s. She had set a clear, dry vase filled with pussy willows on her end table by the front room couch.

Grinning, I touched one.

“Gramma! Where’d you get these?”

“The pussy willows? Mrs. Weldy brought them to me. They don’t grow nearby.”

Those soft silver-ish bumps on the woody stalks felt like little cats. I bent touched my lips to their softness.

“Wait, Fritzie!” Gramma stepped over. She put one hand on her vase and pulled a silver softie off the willow stem. She handed it to me. “Here you are!”

Gramma had other soft things. One was Coalie, her cocker spaniel. I kissed and petted Coalie’s silky head and furry nose.

Daddy holds Coalie

Daddy holds Coalie

Another was Gramma’s black sealskin coat. When my folks took me to visit Gramma and Grampa, the big people sat by the radio and talked.

On the floor, I pulled wood beads off one of Gramma’s old purses and strung them on a long thread: red, yellow, green, blue; red, yellow….

Tired of stringing, I stepped into the coat closet under the stairs. I left the door open and did not pull the string for the light. Sitting on the floor, I was close to Gramma’s black seal-skin coat. She always covered it with plastic. I reached up under it to pet the fur.

So soft!

Considering my childhood love of softness, it’s no surprise a velvet dress and two pair of velveteen jeans hang in one closet. In another, Gramma’s sealskin coat is in a zippered bag.

When I inherited it, I

discovered it wasn’t really “sealskin,” but dyed rabbit. Not that I care.

On me, Gramma’s sealskin is a ¾ coat.

On me, Gramma’s sealskin is a ¾ coat.

When I still lived in Michigan, during winter I wore that coat to church. Just like Gramma did.

I am ever the child I was.

Frances signature

around the frame may 2017 – our experiences

The “Florida dog”

Ha-ha, Frances!

I like the way you compliment JK’s wild side. (It’s a rare senior that still has one!)

John and I are off to La Jolla for a concert and a walk. The weather is in the high 60’s so warmth might be a little challenging on the coast.

We’ll just have to take the “layers” route.


Georgene (See her story in FABRICS.) adds, “Geez, I want to be retired!”


Dear Frances,

  I enjoyed your April ‘17 reflection, “JK and Farfel!” I guess those 2 males bonded in a way that we don’t.

It was that way with Red, my husband Milton’s Australian shepherd. Red loved everybody but there was no doubt he belonged to M!

Bless you, my friend,


June (See her book review this issue.) adds, “After M died, Red transferred his allegiance to me.”


Hi Frances,

It seems that dogs instantly recognize the alpha male!

When my daughter Kristy arrives with her family, including Coco, their female part-shiatsu, I sweet-talk her. But, she hops into my husband Harry’s lap and settles in.

Happy Spring!


Gail (Feb. ‘17) says, “If we pay attention, we can learn so much from animals. My black male feral cat who doesn’t know he’s wild, would rather be petted and loved than eat! ‘Easy does it’ is a slogan personified by cats AND acceptance is the answer to all my problems! They never hold a grudge when I forget to feed them. They wait patiently or look elsewhere.”


Hey Fritzie,

Your April 2017 story was a great basketball memory. I played basketball in high school and college. After living in Asia /Africa for 34 years, I thoroughly enjoy TV basketball or going to games.  

A favorite memory was ‘running bball clinics’ in Kathmandu, Nepal on Sunday afternoons for primary school kids when my son was that age. The court was on an outdoor court at the Lincoln, the English language school supported by the US Dept. of State.

To the north are the majestic Himalaya Mountains –the roof of the world.  Before beginning to play, I attempted to explain to these kids the magic of this game, “…bball is like ballet with a purpose.”

 Often my son was not impressed and popped off, “Pap, let’s play bball!”

My pep talk ended quickly.  

But, that outdoor court remains in my mind. It was a magnificent environment for playing this game outdoors.

B-ball court in Kathmandu

B-ball court in Kathmandu

While some would contend, I wasted my youth playing the game, that’s not what my memories reveal.

Jim was remarried, then widowed. He has one grown son and one granddaughter, less than 2 years old. In his spare time, he enjoys bicycling and traveling. The best book I read in last year is Progress by Johan Norberg. Jim observes, “Humankind has made more progress in the last hundred years –poverty reduction, decrease in hunger, life expectancy, sanitation, education and freedom –than in previous 100,000 years.”


Dear Frances,

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve been so focused on redecorating and relationship issues, that I’ve let far too many things slip –including checking my mail. So, yesterday, I finally sorted through a pile of mail and found your latest card with the thank you in it. I am happy to help with the web site.

Thinking again about picnics and bannock bread again. We learned about in making the bread on a stick in Canadian history classes in grade school. As a kid I got to make it while camping. It’s easy enough for little ones to do, and so tasty when stuffed with raspberry preserves!

Hope spring is bringing little surprises and reasons for hope and joy into your life, my dear.

Thanks again,


Lynn : )

Lynn D. (Apr. ‘17) adds, Oh! We’ve been seeing robins on the back patio. The other day just after a big storm, I saw a battered one. Poor thing! I was still glad to see him.”


Dear Fritzaspringday,

I have been thinking about the discussion a few months ago regarding mothers.

I had a few biofeedback sessions in which I had a conversation with my deceased mother. It was very illuminating and freeing.

I have also to balance my feelings regarding my mother with my own guilt and shame about motherhood.



Liz/Moascar (Apr. ‘17) adds, “My younger son just moved out here and is staying with me. He is talking about going to school here. This week I have been (mostly) on spring break from one of the school districts I am subbing with. I’ve been getting in some extra hikes. Here is a picture of that son and me on a cold, wet, hike to Mount Laguna.

Liz and her younger son

Liz and her younger son


Dear Frances,

Thank you for your letter. You are right. I am sad and maybe a little depressed being alone so much. My brother and his wife are gone away again on one of their bus trips.

Barb always checks on me before they leave and again when they get home. I depend on them too much. I know I do. I went from being alone most of the time to doing almost everything with Barb.

Some days my daughter, Anita, calls me four or five times saying she’s alone and has nothing to do. But if I am answering the phone, I am by myself, too! (DUH!) Enough complaining from me.

On the other hand, as you also said, I am closer to God when I am alone. I pray more. I also found a TV channel that has church services, Bible studies and gospel music from 10:00 to 1:00.

Watching and listening helps me a lot.

Love and Prayers,


LindaSue (Mar. ‘17) says, “I am pretty well off. I have what I need and more. I’ve just had a couple of down days. We all have those.”


I’ve a story to tell. Gotta’ tell you about my sister Mollie’s and my experience with my snake. (I have a pair of black snakes about 3 1/2 to 4 feet long that live under my stone step out front.)

One morning as I was letting out my dog, Sally Mandy,

I spied one of them curled up in the corner by my piano. “Hey Moll,” I hollered to my sister, “Do you want to help me catch a snake?” (Moll Doll is always up for an adventure.)

She grabbed the broom and the two of us advanced on the snake. She hooked the snake with the handle and tried to lift it out. Half way out, it slithered off the broom. Not to be out done by a snake, Moll hooked it again and lifted it another 6 inches out. Again, it slithered off the broom.

I said, “Oh, rats! I’m gonna’ have to grab it.”

(I did not relish this idea because, while they are not poisonous, they can still bite.)

Finally, I swallowed my fear and made a grab for it. I wanted to get it right behind the head but I got it about 3 inches down the neck. It must have been the female because she did not try to bite me. (The male would have tried.)

She Snake just relaxed and let me carry her out and throw her on the grass.

Ellen Christensen (Nov. ‘12) adds, “She Snake must have come in the dog entrance. Phew! Never a dull moment at Dulce Refugio.”

Dear St. Frances

Dear St. Frances,

I’ve been thinking about families and other people: what should happen as opposed to what does. I am stuck on the idea of forgiveness.

Things happen. Why? Sometimes, I never learn the reason. I have to simply forgive. It can take years.

There is one person I want badly to forgive. But I each time I try, my anger issues prevent it. (I would love for this person to leave the area where I live so I would not have to see her, but that will never happen.)

There is a saying, S/He who angers you, controls you. I understand forgiveness lessens the desire for revenge and is also supposed to help with controlling the anger one feels. I think of forgiveness as a way of controlling blood pressure and other health issues that result from constant anger stirring about inside.

There is also the saying, Revenge is a dish best served cold. (Well, yeah!) But there are times when the revenge doesn’t –or can’t –come from the victim. It comes from another place.  It is rather ironic how forgiveness, anger, and revenge often work hand-in-hand to build a protective wall around me. 

The people I can never forgive are often the ones who continually hurt me, continually turn the knife in my back, continually get in my face. It’s up to me to turn around and walk away.

As soon as my mind starts

thinking about that woman, I have to “turn that channel” to something else. Change my thoughts or do a physical activity. Any distraction will do: read a book, call a friend, turn on a radio or TV. Anything that will to get my mind settled.


Malaina (Apr. ‘17) adds, “Forgiveness might take a long time, but keeping me from anger leads me on the path.”


A few weeks ago, my husband and I drove 4.5 hours (round trip) to spend an hour looking at wild flowers in the desert. Due to the heavy rains this year, the desert is ablaze with color.

We were driving to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to see the flowers when we caught the view of a Catholic church steeple off the main road. We decided to detour several blocks to find it.

Arriving there, we parked in the shady, empty lot near the Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine. Across the street was a huge desert expanse full of the very flowers we had driven out to see!

After a long walk and viewing, we got back in the car to continue to the state park. Lo and behold, it was a zoo of people with cars lined up and rangers trying to guide people to parking places. We were lucky and found a spot on our own.

However, after a good long walk there we saw only 3 flower types more than we had seen near the Catholic Church!

To further break up the long drive, we stopped at a restaurant on the shore of Cuyamaca Lake in Cleveland National Forest. We enjoyed delicious chicken pot pie and a slice

of apple, berry, rhubarb pie.

Yum, yum!

Georgene (Apr. ‘17) adds, “It was a very nice day. We left extra early so we would miss rush hour out

of town and so the heat would be bearable for hiking.”



(Part 2 of 3)

Previously: Linda and her husband are touring Savannah, Ga. She has discovered an old church that has a “Nine Patch” ceiling. Her tour begins.

My husband and I were running late by a few minutes and barely made it to the church in time.

A young lady collected the fees for the guided visit.  We entered the sanctuary and listened for two hours as the church’s historian explained the building’s significance.  We were mesmerized. 

The original congregation formed in the late 1700s, but the building was not built until the 1800s.  It was completed in 1859 by a majority slave congregation. The members would walk 3 miles to work on the building during the only day they were given rest from labors, Sunday. 

     The pews in the balcony were handcrafted by those people and African Hebrew lettering is scratched into the row ends.  Unfortunately, no one has been able to interpret the meaning!

The church’s historian later showed us some of the original sanctuary pews,

African Hebrew cursive letters on the pew end.

African Hebrew cursive letters on the pew end.

  which were being stored for preservation in the basement auditorium room.  He said that they were appraised at $50,000 each.  A Steinway grand piano in the sanctuary was appraised at a half a million dollars. It has been played by famous visitors throughout the years.

     Everywhere I looked in this building, items had a deep history. For example, the pipe organ, built in 1832, is the oldest in Georgia.  The basement auditorium’s original lectern is also rare: made of gopher wood –the same material as Noah’s Ark, according to the website. 

     Members of the congregation handcrafted the stained glass in the church. They depict prior church leaders. 

Even with all this, one of the more unremarkable features of the church, its floor, holds one of the greatest stories.  Diamond shaped patterns called “Congolese cosmograms” (According to the church website: “In Africa, it also means ‘Flash of the Spirits’ and represents birth, life, death, and rebirth.”) were drilled into the church’s wooden floor. The holes provided air for the escaping slaves hiding beneath it.  The runaways stayed for only a day or two in the 4-foot high sub-floor space before they fled to freedom on the Underground Railroad. 

Linda Rosenthal (Apr. ‘17) adds, “The church kept no records of how many escaped this way or who they were.”

good words


Good words

can not be disputed.

James (Apr. ‘17) adds, “They recommend love and understanding.”