Wednesday, February 25, 2009


It was forty-nine years ago today that I decided that I would marry my husband. I didn't tell him but I knew.

I was nineteen and my astronomer and I had been dating for six months. He had invited me to join him at the Blacker House snow party. Blacker House was the name of the dorm he lived in at Cal Tech, but it was more like a fraternity. Anyway, much to my mother's concern, I accepted and went off to spend a week-end in the snow with a bunch of college kids. During the week-end one of the chaperons found me and told me that my mother had called and I needed to call home. This was a long time before cell phones and the only phone in the lodge was in the chaperon's room. When I called my mom she gave me wonderful news. I was an aunt. My brother and his wife were the parents of a baby girl. To say that I was excited would be a great understatement. I went off to tell everyone about my wonderful news. One after another of the party-goers looked at me with little interest and went back to what they were doing before I had announced my wonderful, amazing news. I was disappointed that no one seemed to want to hear all the details about my brand new niece. Then I found my handsome young astronomer and shared my news. He hugged me and said that was wonderful and exciting. He wanted to hear all the details. He shared my excitement. He let me babble on an about my joy at becoming an aunt. It was then I knew that this man was wonderful and I would marry him one day.

Happy birthday, Julie. Your birthday brings me wonderful memories.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Sixteen years ago today my good friend Julie gave birth to a beautiful baby girl . My friend Dot and I drove to the hospital in Baltimore to meet this new baby. Julie gave us careful directions and we arrived at the hospital with no problem. The baby was beautiful and we sat and rocked the her and visited for as long as we could before starting our drive home. We had a small problem. The streets we came on were one way going the wrong way and we quickly got lost trying to find our way through the strange neighborhood. Eventually we found the Baltimore Beltway and thought we would easily find our way home, but I was not familiar with the Baltimore exits and the signs were not familiar. I couldn't decide which exit to take. An hour later we crossed the Key Bridge for the second time. I thought twice around the Beltway was enough and I had better get off somewhere soon. I was grateful to have a very good friend along to laugh and cry with me for our very lost adventure. We did eventually get home. It took about thirty minutes to get to the hospital and about three hours to find our way home.

Where were you when you got really lost?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

All Aboard

Last night the evening news had a short story about the porters who worked on the trains in a bygone era. The story made me think of all the train trips I made as a young child.

During the late forties and early fifties I joined my mom to visit her family in Texas every summer. We rode the Sunset Limited from Los Angels, California to San Antonio, Texas where my grandparents lived. I loved riding the train. It was always a grand and glorious adventure. People dressed up to travel in those days. I wore one of my nice dresses. Mom's outfit always included a hat and gloves when we boarded or got off the train. On the train we set on a couch-like seat which faced an identical seat. It seemed to me that our travel companions were always friendly and interesting, although my mom was a bit more reserved than I ever was. She did not like me to sit on the facing bench with my new friends. I got in trouble if I allowed them to buy me candy from one of the porters. The big highlight of the day was going to the dining car. It was like a fancy restaurant. There were white tablecloths and pretty dishes. The waiters always called me Miss and put my napkin in my lap for me. I felt like a princess. Strangers always joined us at the table. It was great fun. While we were at dinner porters went through the train and converted our seats into beds. Mom and I slept together on the lower bunk. Our seat mate always slept in the top bunk. Curtains hung down to give each bed privacy. After dinner I crawled into our cozy private bed and changed into my pajamas then went to the bathroom at the end of the car to brush my teeth and get ready for bed. It was just so exciting to do all this getting ready in a bathroom full of other travelers. Our bed had a reading light and I wold lie there reading and listening to the train until I fell asleep. In the morning we would get up, dress and go to the dining car for breakfast. At breakfast there were no tablecloths, but we still got to share our table with other travelers. By the time we returned to our seats the porters had made our beds back into a sitting area. The trip took two days on the train. I loved every minute of the journey.

Did you ever travel by train? Do you have any memories of your time on a train?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The World in Our Hands

For his birthday my husband was given the whole world. It came in a box and we spent the week-end putting it together. It was hard to assemble the world in it's proper order. There was a lot of trial and error as we tried one blue piece after another trying to find its proper place. Since the world is spherical it was harder to match the pieces. There were several times when we were trying to get a piece into place that the world fell apart. If you pushed to hard things just collapsed. We felt quite accomplished when we were done and could put the world on a shelf to admire.

I am sure there are some great lessons to be learned from assembling this puzzle. Mostly it was for us a pleasant way to spend the week-end.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

To My Valentine

Many couples have beautiful, romantic songs that they think of as their song. My husband and have always loved this funny little song. We sing it in the car. We used to sing it to our children. It always makes us happy. I know he will smile when he hears it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Tomorrow will be the 200th birthday of one of the world's most influential people. Of course we all know that tomorrow is the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, who was also one of the world's most influential people, but the man I am thinking about is Charles Darwin.

On our journey to the Galapagos Islands last summer I became very interested in Darwin and his explanation of how the world came to be full of so many varieties life. In the Galapagos evolution is evident everywhere you look. The islands are home to species that have evolved to meet needs that are uniquely different on each island.

The cormorants there do not fly. Their wings have become small and perfect for swimming and diving.

There are swimming iguanas there. It is the only place in the world where these land animals have learned to swim because their food is found in the ocean.

The finches and mockingbirds have adapted to the conditions on each island and have become unique species.

Darwin figured out that living things evolve over time to fit their environment. He said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one most adaptable to change.”

Adapting to change is fundamental to survival. Seems like a very important lesson for people as we go through life.

I recently read the book, “The Language of God,” by Francis Collins, the brilliant scientist who headed the Human Genome project and mapped our DNA. Collins discusses the reasons that the theory of evolution has so little public acceptance. He says that from a biologist's perspective the evidence in favor of evolution is overwhelming and utterly compelling. Darwin's theory of natural selection provides a fundamental framework for understanding the relationships of all living things. The problem of acceptance seems to be from a lack of knowledge of what Darwin really says and a lack of knowledge about what the Bible really says in Genesis. Darwin never denies God's involvement in creation. He does not speculate on the origin of life. Genesis is a powerful and poetic narrative of the story of God's creative actions. Genesis never claims to a scientific text.

Personally I have never quite understood the conflict. It seems to me that scripture and science are very compatible in explaining the origin of life. I believe that in the beginning God did create the world and everything in it. I believe that evolution was one of the tools God used to create the great diversity of life. To quote Collins one more time, “I do not believe that God who created the universe, and who communes with His people through prayer and spiritual insight, would expect us to deny the obvious truths of the natural world that science has revealed to us, in order to prove our love for Him.”

Do you believe that science and faith in the Almighty God are compatible?

Happy birthday, Charles Darwin. Thank you for making so many people think.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


“Mom, we have a little girl. She's beautiful. I'm a daddy.” It was eighteen years ago yesterday that my son called to share this wonderful news. It was hard to believe that my little boy was a father. Now that little baby is a beautiful young lady, a legal adult. Her main focus of attention right now is her upcoming senior prom and deciding where to go to college. I know that very soon she will be grown and enter the grown up world. For now we are happy to be watching her enjoy the last bits of childhood.

Happy birthday beautiful girl.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

25 things

I have been tagged multiple times by my Facebook friends to write 25 random things about myself. In reply to their persistent curiosity, here is my list.

1.My mother always called me Susan. Everyone else calls me Sue.
2.I owned two dogs when I was a kid. We had a terrier named Spotty and a pekingese named Boots.
3.I love my water aerobics class.
4.I am a Stephen Minister. It is a good ministry.
5.I used to have 20/20 vision. Now I don't.
6.I pray for each of my children and grandchildren every day.
7.I do not like snow. It is too cold.
8.I randomly break into singing. Usually I sing old hymns that are just part of my bones.
9.We plan to go to Egypt in October.
10. We are going to Sedona, Arizona in April with our son's family.
11. When I was in my twenties my hair was very long. I still have a long braid of my hair in a drawer. The braided hair is brown. The hair on my head is gray.
12. I am a R.N. In my case that stands for retired nurse.
13. Sometimes I laugh so loud that I embarrass myself, but I laugh a lot anyway.
14. I have had surgery on my right knee four times.
15. My favorite TV show is The Mentalist.
16. I wish I could loose thirty pounds, but dieting is hard.
17. I met my husband on a blind date. We will celebrate 48 years together this year.
18. I have crossed the international date line, the equator and the arctic circle.
19. I enjoy making big pots of soup. It makes me feel like a domestic goddess.
20. My oldest grandchild lives in Florida. She wants to stay there. It is far away.
21. I moved from California to Maryland over forty years ago. It is far away from my family.
22. I miss my mother every day.
23. I love playing in the hand bell choir.
24. At my funeral I hope they play”When the Saints Go Marching In” with a brass band.
25.I wonder what heaven will really be like.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


We left the cold and snow of Maryland Thursday morning and flew to California. As soon as we stepped out of the airport I remembered why so many people live in Southern California. The sunshine surrounded us with welcome warmth. We stopped on our drive down the coast and walked out on the pier at Redondo Beach. I just sat there soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the 80 degree temperatures. As we drove through the residential areas I saw roses, camellias, hibiscus and many other colorful flowers. The lemon tree in my brother's yard was heavy with ripening fruit. We felt far from the snow and ice of home.

The next morning we drove to the hospital to see my brother Bill and his wife Jean. Jean was seriously injured in a fall last summer. We did not expect her to survive, but after being in a coma for six weeks, she has begun to recover. She is completely paralyzed on the left side, but she is able to talk and laugh again. Her recovery is limited and very slow, but we are grateful that she is alive. It feels like a miracle.

Saturday we joined the celebration for my brother Joe and his wife Judy as they celebrated fifty years of marriage. Their kids and grandkids had cooked enough food for an army of party goers. The house was full of friends and relatives as we honored this good marriage. My brother and sister-in-law glowed all day with joy and pride. Tomorrow they leave for a two week cruise to Hawaii. Check the picture in my previous post to see if they have changed any since their wedding day.

Last night we arrived back home. It is cold and snowy, but it is home. This is where we belong and we are glad to be home again.