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{April 15, 2020}   Surviving during the Pandemic

A bee enjoying azalea

Keeping Busy

Being someone who needs nature for my mental health, this has been a tough couple of months. I have been out walking my neighborhood and some woods (safely with a mask, of course) whenever the weather cooperates. I have also been reading and writing a lot. This is one of the poems I have written during this isolation. This is survival for me.

 

Pandemic Response

 

This earthbound isolation is like quicksand,

survival by being still,

endless waiting, waiting,

keeping hands busy, mind empty.

 

But I need to ride the clouds spread

on the searing blue sky,

burrow myself into bright blossoms like a bee,

douse my eyes in the water of ponds’

shivering reflections searching for life –

tadpoles or tiny fish —

only this, only this

keeps me alive.

 

Susan Merrifield Desrocher

c 2020



{August 20, 2019}   The Pain of Downsizing

So, I’ve decided to come clean or should I say “become clean?” It’s not really my decision; I no longer have a choice. My landlady says the stuff has to go. I now have a deadline.

My kitchen

After living 60 years, this is what I have to show for my life. Beginning with babysitting in my teens, I have worked for most of it and this is what’s left.

My husband took the best stuff: the leather sectional couch, the cherry king sleigh bed with the Temperpedic mattress and the Tiffany lamp (just to name the standouts so you get the idea). And I didn’t argue because I knew I couldn’t afford a place big enough to house that stuff, and I just wanted peace after years of misery.

He took his prizes and moved out of state. I moved to a small apartment that I was lucky enough to find in the newspaper (yes, my mother still got one, thank goodness)with my two cats. I was left to watch a family of renters with two Saint Bernards and two cats ruin our 5000 sq ft house. All the stuff my husband didn’t want was locked in the furnace room in the basement. According to the lease, I was responsible for the yard, and I struggled to mow the acre of hilly lawn before or after work. I did some weeding, but soon gave that up, letting my beloved flowers choke as I felt choked. All of this was hard for a woman in her fifties.

The renters finally moved out because the guy I hired came out three times and couldn’t fix the Thermador double oven and we couldn’t afford to buy a new one. Now what?

We would have to sell the house at a bad time. (No, I didn’t want to move back in and take in boarders as my husband suggested.) We would have to short sell it. And so began the process of going through what was left, yard sale after yard sale alone, making very little, because no one wanted to pay for anything. It was a heartbreaking lesson.

Then the selling process and the negotiating. The new owners fighting me for all the large items I had no place to put and couldn’t move: thousands of dollars of exercise equipment, the pool table, the air hockey table basically given to them. They were the ones who had the money to buy this huge home and they were robbing me! I felt hopeless, humiliated and angry. And my husband, from afar, was angry at me: couldn’t I see that everyone involved was making money but us??? Of course I could — I was the one witnessing everything up close and personal!

The night before the closing, my neighbors and my realtors helped me clean out what was left in the garage. My much-loved neighbors added to their own trash by taking stuff to their house to go out for trash pick-up and the realtors filled their vehicles to use the dumpsters where they lived and worked.

I had moved the items I didn’t want to part with to a storage unit. There were a few items of furniture, but it was mostly memorabilia and sentimental items. I had very little time to go through anything, working two jobs and taking care of my aging mother. The storage place raised the price of the unit every six months. I crammed more stuff into my apartment, gave some things away, had to throw some stuff out that got ruined by mice. Then I downsized to a smaller unit. I tried to put everything into bins so nothing else would get ruined. And the storage place raised the price, again and again, until I was paying the original larger unit price for the smaller unit. I finally brought everything to my apartment to save money.

Which brings me to now. I have consolidated and given away at least 6 bins worth. And now the rest has to go without any more painstaking sorting. And my anger has me writing this. (Healthier than drinking and taking valium.)

Believe me, I know I am fortunate. Plenty of people never have stuff to have to downsize from. And I know someone who lost everything to a fire, including countless gorgeous sweaters she had knitted over the years (I think I was more heartbroken about those sweaters than she was!) But I’m still angry. Angry at this throw-away culture, angry at the people who take advantage of people in bad situations, and angry at myself and my husband for all the money and years we wasted.

I have learned some tough lessons when it is too late to do me much good.

The dear friends who have watched me go through all this tell me I am amazing and inspiring, because I have found within me the resiliency to still try to have a life and find some joy. This is just the highlights (and lowlights) of what I have been through. Maybe I will retell my story in a much more literary and more grammatical format and detail in the future, but the anger and pain demand I write this now.

I hope this action burns out what is left of my anger and shame, and maybe teaches others something. Be kind to people you think are hoarders; they are not broken, they are people in pain and they have been through enough without your judgment.




I just found out that Donald Hall died last week at age 89. It prompted me to find the blog I wrote about him three years ago. The writing world has lost someone special.

Sued51's Blog

Donald Hall, "Essays After Eighty" Donald Hall’s latest book

Why would a fifty-something-year-old woman relate to the essays of an eighty-something-year-old man? Does that say something about him, about me, or both of us? This is not really a review, but a review of sorts; my stream-of-consciousness emotional reaction to his latest book. In all reality, just what a writer really wants…a confirmation of a connection made, not just an intellectual criticism of the writing.

I have always liked Donald Hall’s poetry, and when I read John Freeman‘s well-written interview with him in Poets and Writers (Nov/Dec edition) and read the excerpts from the book, Essays After Eighty, I was burning to read it. So off to the library I went.

Sitting down to read the first essay “Out the Window,” (without a window in sight) I can see what he sees — the old barn, the snow falling, the birds at the feeder — because he describes…

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{January 4, 2018}   Skating on Thin Ice

Ice Skating

Ice Skating

 

SKATING ON THIN ICE

Too many indoor days bundled
together drew me out into the record chill.
At the pond in my old hometown
a few hardy souls I didn’t know
were skating in ski masks
in the early winter dusk.
With my camera I froze
their silhouettes against the shimmering ice
like pinned starfish.

I could be crazy,
a crazy craving headlines,
at any cost,
so I tried to be subtle
with my snaps,
keep my zoom lens distance,
not alarm the nervous parents
in parkas on the dock
waving their children in.

I stood on the treed shore,
remembering solid-color snowsuits
and Wonder bread bags in boots,
hand-knitted mittens, and laughing
slides across the same ice
without skates.
Back before fake news and Facebook
our parents shooed us outside;
they trusted our judgment
and the good will of others,
and we trusted the winter ice
to stay solid
and unchanging
beneath us.



{February 15, 2016}   A Story of a Life through Jewelry

I inherited my grandmother’s jewelry, and there was quite a bit. My grandmother was not a rich woman, so it was mostly costume jewelry. But I love vintage jewelry so I have been wearing some of the pieces I particularly like. I have also been trying to sort through things that need repair, and the things I should just toss.

She had a lot of pins, which I have put in a beading box. One of those pins was a sword with a fake-looking “jewel” on it. To be honest, I didn’t think it was very attractive and it was clearly not expensive, so I was considering getting rid of it. Then I noticed that on the back it said, “Broadcast, NY.” I decided to do a search on Google, and it came right up! People are selling them on Etsy.

vintage brooch

WWII Victory Sword

It is called a World War II Victory Sword, and it was made in the 1940s, produced to celebrate the end of World War II. Suddenly it no longer looked so ugly to me…it had meaning. Especially because my father, her only child, was stationed overseas in WWII. I decided to keep it.

My grandmother also had many tiny lapel pins from the different community groups to which she belonged. Amongst them, and still in the box, I found a tiny Telephone Pioneers pin. My grandmother worked as an operator for many years. I left me her small pension, so this is meaningful as well.

Vintage pins

Telephone Pioneers pin

It made me think: what would someone learn from my jewelry? Hmmm…that I liked cats? Now I know why people collect Alex and Ani bracelets and Pandora charm bracelets!

Cat Jewelry

Cat Jewelry



{November 24, 2015}   Bloggers Unite for Peace

The blogging community is a varied, and wonderful one…

Uncle Spike's Adventures

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil
is for good men to do nothing.”
Edmund Burke

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We are normal, everyday hard-working people with a common hobby, blogging. We hail from far and wide. We reside in different lands, on different continents. We speak different languages, eat different foods, and are of varying ages, professions, and religious and cultural backgrounds.

We do have one thing in common…

We believe that terrorist attacks, wherever they may be perpetrated; whether in France, Tunisia, Canada, Iraq, or in Denmark, Turkey, UK, Algeria, Yemen, USA, Lebanon, or in the skies over Egypt, or in India, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Kuwait, Libya, Bangladesh, Syria, or Mali are nothing less…

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New Moon Storm

It was a dark and wet ride home last night, a new moon Nor’easter,

But I was tired enough to sleep through the night without hearing it.

This morning the cat was hidden somewhere she thinks is safe;

I’d like to hide myself there too, I think.

But this morning my prayer group email is entitled “Clarity,”

and it seems true.

The Universe seems to be aligned,

I think there is also an eclipse.

Fitting that the trees have been cleared of leaves,

Their structure revealed, a kind of clarity,

My life changes revealed, I feel a surge of creativity.

After months of distractions and busy-ness,

I know what I want to say and I want to blab it!

But I have to work.

Ironically these are the days when it is hardest to work –

High energy days when it is almost impossible to stay where I am,

To sit and stay focused.

I’m like a horse pawing the ground,

Resenting the bridle and the rider, work and responsibility,

Let me go, says the voice inside,

Let me go with the wind and the leaves…

 

P.S. This was written totally off the cuff as a stream of consciousness in response to the Daily Post Prompt: Ready, Set, Done, so excuse grammatical and punctation problems…take it for what it is. It is written like a poem because it seemed liked random thoughts to me as a they came…more like a poem than prose. Hope you enjoy it!



{April 30, 2014}   A Life of Irony

I am always reading personal development and inspirational blogs and books. I’ve tried meditation, visualization, and spirituality, and still I can’t figure out what my life’s purpose is and what I was meant to do. (PLEASE…THIS STATEMENT IS NOT AN INVITATION TO BLOGGERS OUT THERE WHO WANT ME TO JOIN THEIR PYRAMID SCHEME OF MAKING MONEY BLOGGING! I DON’T BELIEVE IN IT SO DON’T TRY TO HOOK ME.)

To bring God into it, I continue to be baffled by what he wants from me, I seem to be deaf to his messages in my life. My proof of this? My life is always full of irony. The moment I finally, after an agonizingly long time, make a decision, I am faced with an ironic response. Or my timing is off…things just don’t seem to work out.

Barricades

Barricades

My proof in point today: My to-do list had included the task — “make business cards” — for quite a while. My purpose was to use them as a tool to pick up freelance editorial work. But I wasn’t getting around to it. I finally decided to enlist the help of a friend’s daughter who is studying graphic design: good practice for her and assistance for me. On the front of the card I would advertise my services and on the back, my blogs. I finally spent the money and got them printed a couple of weeks ago.

And what happened in the meantime? One of the printers near me where I had planned to drop off a card and resume just laid off a large number of people. I was told by someone who works there…don’t bother…they won’t want your services…no work. I have been so busy working extra hours at my part-time job for the last month, as well as working on a freelance editing job and another part-time job, I have barely been able to visit my blogging community or produce blog posts. Result? Dead blog. JUST WHEN I PRINTED MY CARDS TO ADVERTISE. And now, a full-time job offer is on the table after I have been scrambling to pay my bills for a while…Although the job doesn’t involve what I THINK my talents are, I feel like I have to take it for financial stability.

What’s the message my readers? Is God telling me to give up my dreams and passion because it is not part of his plan for me or is he testing me? Based on the reading I have done, if you are following the path you are meant to follow, it will be smooth and easy. It won’t feel like constant barricades are being placed in your path. Or have I got that wrong?

I know that some of you manage to work full-time and still produce blog posts, but that doesn’t seem to be something I’m able to do. Is God it making a correction to my path or am I deluded as to what my talents are and what my purpose is?

I will move forward with the hope that there is a future I can’t foresee. In the meantime, I will try to post when I can. I’ve put 4 years into this…what’s another barricade?



{February 23, 2014}   The little things…

This is so well-expressed…I just had to share it. Write on!



{December 31, 2013}   2013 in review

Looks like I had better get back to writing about my music experiences in 2014! I’d also like to do more reviews of what I am reading. I finally got a Kindle so maybe that means I will explore more new writers!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,200 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.



et cetera
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