Friday, June 30, 2006


Herein is truth. In recent days, I’ve especially been affected by the first two, only instead of grease, I’m plagued with poison ivy. Itchy poo all over, and not supposed to scratch. Oooooh!

I’m also suffering from the universal truth of the last law: my very favorite spray fragrance, from Aromafloria, ran out after three years of happy usage out of the same big bottle. Come to find out, they don’t make it any more. WAH! That stinks . . . and, without my daily spritz, I probably do, too.

Which of these “get” you?

Law of Mechanical Repair:
After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch or you'll have to pee.

Law of Biomechanics:
The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.

Law of the Workshop:
Any tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.

Law of Probability:
The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.

Law of the Telephone:
If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal.

Law of the Alibi:
If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the very next morning you will have a flat tire.

Variation Law:
If you change lines (or traffic lanes), the one you were in will start to move faster than the one you are in now (works every time).

Law of the Bath:
When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone rings.

Law of Close Encounters:
The probability of meeting someone you know increases when you are with someone you don't want to be seen with.

Law of the Result:
When you try to prove to someone that a machine won't work, it will.

Law of the Theatre:
At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle arrive last.

Law of Coffee:
As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.

Murphy's Law of Lockers:
If there are only two people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.

Law of Rugs/Carpets:
The chances of an open-faced jelly sandwich landing face down on a floor covering are directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet/rug.

Law of Location:
No matter where you go, there you are.

Law of Logical Argument:
Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.

Brown's Law:
If the shoe fits, it's ugly.

Oliver's Law:
A closed mouth gathers no feet.

Wilson's Law:
As soon as you find a product that you really like, they will stop making it.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


(Today's DailySusan, available only to email subscribers, shows a photo of a European-style home with an inner courtyard. All the way up the overly tall walls are hung dozens or even hundreds of potted flowers.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


A neighbor is making a dry stream bed to accommodate drainage. He said the project reminds him of the first landscaping project he ever attempted. He went to the lumber yard to buy rocks. Once he saw the wide variety of shapes and sizes to choose from, he realized he was in over his head. He stopped, looking to and fro in perplexity.

An old timer came by. He was unshaven. He wore overalls. He whistled his “s’s.”

“Hiya, Sssssonny,” he said in a friendly manner. “First time buyin’ rocksssss?”

“Well, yes,” the younger man said.

“Well, let me tell you sssssomethin’,” the old timer said. His pupil leaned forward, anticipating great wisdom and rock-buying lore passed down through the ages.

“You’ve got to buy rocksssssss that are too big to move,” the geezer said.

“Too big to move?” the younger man wondered.

“Yeah, ‘cause if you buy rockssssss any ssssssmaller than that, your wife will have you movin’ ‘em every year to sssssomewhere elsssssse,” he said. “If they’re too big to move, you put ‘em down one time, and you’re ssssssafe.”

They never teach you that in Husband School. Maybe they ssssshould.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


The hardest-working person at the College World Series in downtown Omaha this year, who did the most running, will not get her name in the paper or an interview on ESPN, although she handled more adversity than anything anybody was up against on the ball field.

A friend of our daughter’s, she got a job helping out with the press conferences after each game, a hectic and stressful hour. She didn’t have to be there ‘til late in each game, so finding a parking place anywhere near the stadium was a trick.

One day, there was a doubleheader. She drove all the way downtown to the stadium, parked miles away, worked the first press conference, raced back to her car, and drove all the way across the city fighting rush-hour traffic, arriving just in time for her other part-time job, teaching ice skating. Just as she pulled up to the rink, though, her cell phone rang: there was something wrong with the rink that day, and lessons were canceled. O . . . K.

She drove all the way back across the city, and once again arrived in mid-game, so lots were all full and she had to park several blocks away. She legged it back to the press conference room. There was a one-hour rain delay that evening, so post-game festivities went late, and she didn’t get done working until after 11 p.m.

Then she had to walk all by herself in the pitch black back to her car. Naturally, it wouldn’t start: dead battery. So she called for help, trying not to get mugged in the meantime, and by the time she got on the road to go home, it was after 1 a.m.

But hey! She loved the job. She got to meet a lot of baseball players – and they were cute!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Truly Is the College WORLD Series

We’ve attended two thrilling games in the final series of this year’s College World Series at Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium. Tonight’s game will determine the champion. But last night’s game revealed just how much of a “world” event this really has become.

All I did was say “hi” to the lady next to me, and found out the following:

She’s from San Diego, but flies to Omaha once a year to attend the entire Series as her annual vacation. She used to be in the Navy and has been all over the world, but was born and raised in upstate New York. Most of the jobs in the signature industry in her hometown – apples – have now been taken over by migrant workers flown in from Jamaica. They are put up in barracks with free room and board until the apples are picked, send every dime they make back home to Jamaica each week, and are flown back home when the harvest is over. It makes her very mad to see American jobs lost and the revenue leaving her old hometown . . . but that’s why the best college baseball in the world is such a great diversion.

Can’t wait to talk to her again next year. Mom might have told you not to speak to strangers . . . but you’re pretty safe at an all-American baseball game, and you just never know what in the world you might learn if you do.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


But if we walk in the light,
as he is in the light,
we have fellowship one with another,
and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son
cleanseth us from all sin.
-- 1 John 1:7

Our church is raising $1 million for a maternity hospital in one of the poorest countries in the world. Mali is ‘way over on the other side of the planet, on the edge of the Sahara Desert in northwest Africa. We always think of Timbuktu as being the absolute end of the earth; it’s just up the road from where this hospital is going to be.

Church leaders challenged each of us to help. They showed pictures of a dusty, desolate terrain, with gray soils, few trees and shacks that passed as homes. There’s never enough to eat. AIDS is rampant, malaria is out of control, and per-capita income is just $250 a year. Most everyone is Muslim; Jesus Christ is mostly unknown.

As a mother with four stripes on my maternity letter jacket, I was particularly grieved to learn that as many as 10% of mothers die in childbirth there, and one out of every four children dies before reaching age 5, largely because of malnutrition and lack of medical care. There are hardly any obstetricians, gynecologists and pediatricians in the whole country.

(Photo from

The problems are enormous. What could WE do to help?

We drove home in our air-conditioned car on Omaha’s wide streets, past spacious homes, lush gardens and tall shade trees. My tummy bulged over my belt, compliments of the abundant good food available around here. No one in my family is sick in any way right now, and while we’re not exactly sitting on a mountain of money, we’re in the foothills.

Our way of life is probably as different as could be from the lifestyle of a family in Mali.

Most of all, I thought back over the great prenatal care I received for each of my four pregnancies: the many tests, the ultrasounds, the nutritional advice, the high-tech delivery rooms, the neonatal intensive care.

It never even crossed my mind that I or any of my babies might die. Yet that’s a constant concern over in Mali. If things go wrong, they bleed to death or their uterus ruptures. The nearest full-service clinic is hundreds of miles away . . . but we could have gotten to three in the time it took to drive home from church.

Timbuktu was no longer out of sight, out of mind. It was in my heart. We had to help. But how?

Our daughter Neely piped up.

“You and Dad are always complaining about how out of shape you are and how you never get any exercise,” she said. “Why don’t you go on a walking program, and get other people to walk with you? Get sponsors, and raise money that way?”

Perfect! We loved it! And that’s what we’re going to do . . . starting today.

It’s 5,600 miles to the town in Mali where the hospital is going to be built, Koutiala. We have 56 days until the fund-raising deadline, Aug. 20. We have set an impossibly high goal, $5,600.

And we’re getting the ball rolling by committing to walk one mile a day. That’s 56 miles. Now we’re seeking sponsors who’ll walk alongside us by donating money toward our goal.

Won’t you sponsor us for a quarter or a dollar a day? Or more?

Better yet, won’t you get your own sponsors and walk, run, bicycle or swim as many miles as you can by Aug. 20, and contribute your proceeds to this cause? You can use the chart, attached.

Won’t you tell your co-workers and neighbors about Mali, and enlist their help and donations?

Donations are tax-deductibile. Checks should be made out to Christ Community Church and sent to:

Susan Williams
P.O. Box 995
Elkhorn, NE 68022

Thank you! We’ll pray for everybody who helps as we go along, and keep you posted with our progress. Let’s walk 5,600 miles together this summer . . . and may our feet help bring a miracle to Mali. †

Miles For Mali

Goal: Raise $5,600 and collect 5,600 miles of walking, running, biking and swimming in 56 days to help build a much-needed maternity hospital in Mali, Africa.

Please print out, fill in, and send with your check made out to Christ Community Church to:
Susan Williams, P.O. Box 995, Elkhorn, NE 68022. Deadline: Aug. 20. Donations tax-deductible; you will receive a letter for your files.

Pledge for the Williams Family’s 56 miles: $_____ per mile

How can we pray for you as we walk? ___________________________________________________


Multiply the fitness and the fund-raising!

Please let us know as soon as possible what your mileage goal is, and how much money you hope to bring in, by emailing Print out and post this chart to keep records of miles you’ve logged and sponsors who are helping, and you’re on your way! Send checks to the post office box so that they are received by Aug. 20. Thanks! You are Mali-velous!!!

Week of . . . # of Mile $ per mile, all sponsors Weekly Total

June 25 $ $

July 2 $ $

July 9 $ $

July 16 $ $

July 23 $ $

July 30 $ $

Aug. 6 $ $

Aug. 13 $ $
TOTAL: _____ miles $______________ $___________

Learn more at: or

Saturday, June 24, 2006


We’re going to the finals of the College World Series tonight, North Carolina vs. Oregon State. We’re wearing Carolina blue: big fans. It’s the first time our eldest, Jordan, a University of North Carolina graduate, has missed the Omaha-based national baseball championship in her entire life. Where is she? In her new home – North Carolina. She’s beside herself to be missing this year of all years, with her team in the finals.

She wasn’t even 1 her first CWS game. I remember it distinctly, because a very nice, very dark-skinned African-American gentleman sat right behind us. Jordy spent the entire game over my shoulder, GAPING at the poor guy’s skin with surprise and delight. It was a blast of diversity for the playpen set. What a great sport he was, laughing over her funny expressions.

I was just as good a sport during last year’s series, although I was not in control of my behavior, so can’t really take credit. I was on MORPHINE LA-LA LAND, big-time, in a suburban Minneapolis hospital. We were visiting friends up there, and missing Nebraska’s CWS game. I was watching it on TV downstairs in their home, but went upstairs for some water. I heard a big roar from the crowd – did we score? -- so I rushed down the stairs in my slick sandals to see what happened. Key word: “rushed.” I made like a trick skier in the Olympics . . . triple gainer, double pike . . . and landed with a WHOMP! on my side. Punctured a lung, cracked a rib . . . but ohhhhhh, was that morphine delightful.

So far, this year’s series has been peaceful, pleasant and quiet. But with baseball, as with life, anything can happen.

Friday, June 23, 2006


We’re on a “home and away” play date schedule for Maddy and her friend Andrew, both 6. Yesterday, we got the “Cars” cars at McDonald’s, did the monkey bars, went to the read-a-story-to-a-dog activity at the library (and fell in love with a “retired” greyhound and a fuzzy white Labradoodle), and then motored down to the Children’s Museum for a full, fun-filled afternoon.

In the car, Andrew regaled us with his big plans to become a football star. “You know Coach Callahan?” Yes, I knew of the University of Nebraska football coach. Andrew continued, “He’s going to be MY coach some day. I hope my team wins!!!”

I asked, “What position would you like to play?”

Details, details. “I just like to spike the ball!”

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Our daughter Eden is going to be a symphony debutante this coming Christmas season. It’s a dress-up affair, a bit out of character for our family. But oh, well. It’s for a good cause.

Everything has to be done months in advance, which is also unusual for us spontaneoids. She has already chosen her long, white gown, but the intricately beaded hem needed to be shortened. We made an appointment with a seamstress. We were running late.

But Maddy was lollygagging. “Hurry up and get in the car!” I urged her. “Beamer has an appointment for the Deb Ball!”

Maddy looked at me, perplexed. “THE DEAD BALL?!?!?”

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Our neighbors have a swimming pool, and they are worried about a shortage of a certain kind of pool chemical right now in our area. You can’t find a bag of it anywhere in town, they said.

I guess when you put in this product, you “shock the pool.”

My neighbor was really concerned that she won’t be able to have her pool open over the Fourth of July if some of this chemical doesn’t materialize on the market.

I tried to cheer her up, pretending to lift up my shirt and expose my pudgy nakedness. “Here!” I offered helpfully. “Maybe THIS will shock the pool!”

Maybe she should flash it her property-tax bill. Now, THAT’S shocking.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


. . . or, actually, his. By popular demand, here’s how our girls’ offbeat Father’s Day present for their dad turned out. Also by popular demand, we are not making him model these for the picture. No, I just folded them and scanned them. It is the first time I have ever scanned or photocopied a pair of underwear, regardless of what past bosses might have put in my evaluations in terms of my on-the-job time management.

All we did was buy a pair of white boxer shorts -- WalMart cheapies -- and have them embroidered at a monogram shop that’s inside our local WalMart. We used our family’s sentimental nickname for the unmentionables of choice of the man of the house. You can do something like this: oh, the possibilities! And oh, to be a little bird in the locker room when they’ve all got their novelty box panties on. . . .

(Scanned photo of "Daddy's Box Panties" available to email subscribers only)

Monday, June 19, 2006


I suppose you thought of something wonderful and macho for your dad for Father’s Day: a camouflage hunting jacket . . . tickets to the Stanley Cup . . . a little red sports car. . . .

Well, the dad in OUR house got three new pairs of box panties.

See, many years ago, he was standing in line with our two oldest daughters, then probably 3 and 4, at the busiest McDonald’s in the middle of the city, at rush hour. There were five lines across, five people deep. You know how sometimes, in situations like that, everybody suddenly goes silent?

That’s right when one of the girls whirled around and asked, at the top of her voice:


He had tried to answer their question about why his unmentionables looked so different from theirs . . . and that’s what he got.

But it’s one of those beloved stories of family lore. And now he has three new pairs, all white: one has a monkey embroidered on it, one has “HUSKERS” . . . and one has “Daddy’s Box Panties” in pink writing, with a red heart.

So next time you see him, be sure to ask.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


And I looked, and, lo,
a Lamb stood on the mount Sion,
and with him an hundred forty and four thousand,
having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.
-- Revelation 14:1

Two years ago, there was a wedding down at our neighborhood pond, uniting the daughter of some dear friends and her sweetheart, a strong, tall football player. His dad, equally tall and athletic, sets a wonderful Christian example of soft-spoken kindness.

For the wedding, the bridegroom and his dad built a big, beautiful cross out of sturdy wood. The ceremony wasn’t going to be in a church, but these families wanted to make it clear what the marriage was going to be based on.

A few days before, several guys erected the cross, making sure it was level. The father of the bride, the father of the groom, my husband and another neighbor held it aloft with the utmost care, like the statue of Iwo Jima, setting it in concrete.

Some ladies added a long white strip of sheer fabric that gracefully waved in the breeze. The effect was breathtaking.

It was the prettiest wedding ever. They left the cross up for weeks afterward, for another wedding was coming up. The land belonged to our neighborhood association, and they had permission. Whenever I passed by, I gazed at it. The cross made me feel good.

Then one terrible day, it was gone.

Someone had come in the night, and chain-sawed it down.

Reportedly, an angry person had called the local police three times to complain about the cross, and were told it was on private property, out of police jurisdiction.

So the person had just gone in there and cut it down, a couple of feet above the concrete base, leaving an ugly stump. The cross lay on the ground.

The father of the bride and the father of the groom were shocked. How could anybody feel that way about a cross? How could anybody mutilate such a positive, uplifting statement?

I wanted to organize a mob, like in the movie Frankenstein, march on whoever did it with torches and pitchforks, and make them glue it back together and apologize.

God! How could you let Your Son’s Cross be humiliated like this?

But the two fathers decided not to make a stink. They picked up the cross, took it to the bride’s parents’ nearby home, and erected it in their back yard.

A darling granddaughter has been born of that beautiful wedding, and she had her first Easter egg hunt around that cross this past spring.

The two dads and everybody else felt sad that somebody could harbor so much hate over something that was all about love. I was still mad that the vandal didn’t get punished or made to pay restitution for the property damage. But oh, well.

All of us had looked at the stump of the cross down at the pond 100 times . . . maybe 1,000.

But recently, the mother of the bride looked a little closer, and saw something:

There’s a heart in the wood!

It’s a natural knot on the corner of the stump. A heart! Plain as day!

It must have been there all along. But nobody saw it, ‘til now.

When I saw it, a thrill ran through me. I recognized our Father’s signature. All my anger at the vandal was wiped away. Here’s why:

You can criticize the cross. You can file a lawsuit against it. You can complain to the cops. You can cut it down. You can burn it, mutilate it, stomp on it, break it into a million pieces.

But you can never wipe away its true meaning. It’s the Father’s heart – the Father’s love.

On this Father’s Day, I hope all dads remember that. Nothing can ever stop your love for your children. Not trouble, not pain, not even death. It’s permanent. It’s forever. That love is a part of you, and a part of them. Nobody can ever take it away.

The same thing goes for our heavenly Father and His Son, despite the Cross, and because of it.

It was there all along . . . and it’s there to stay. †

Saturday, June 17, 2006


This isn’t really fit for a “humor” blog. But humor is supposed to lift your spirits. And that’s what happens when I hear about incidents like this. I smile when opponents of God are put in their place, able to do nothing but get huffy when their wickedness is exposed. Attaboy, Adonai. Nice one, Holy One!

Friday, June 16, 2006


(Today's DailySusan, available only to email subscribers, shows a bonsai bush in someone's back yard depicting a person mooning toward the neighbor's yard, while a grumpy old neighbor man with hands on hips looks on)

Thursday, June 15, 2006


We were taking Maddy somewhere in the car and got just a couple of houses down our street when we encountered two people riding horses. This is an equestrian neighborhood, so it’s not all that unusual. But Maddy gaped as we slowly pulled past them.

Then she inquired, with a bit of pique in her voice: “Did that horse just poop?”

Yes, we noticed that, too.

“Well!” she huffed. “THAT’S pleasant!!!”

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


My neighbor is an animal lover, so when she saw a large bird thrashing around by the side of the busy road not far from home one day during rush hour, she pulled over to see if she could help.

A big snake was wrapped around a red-tailed hawk! It was trying to choke it!


Equally shaken, he ran around the house looking for a suitable weapon or implement. All he could find was a yellow whiffle ball bat.

He pulled up behind her on the shoulder of the busy road, and set to work BEATING on the snake that was on the hawk that was thrashing around. It was a sight. And it wasn’t doing a bit of good; the snake just wrapped on tighter, and the hawk thrashed around even more wildly, thinking that now it was under attack from another villain on top of the snake.

Lo and behold, a huge truck pulled up – SCREEEECH! – and out popped a heavily-muscled Wonder Woman from the Raptor Recovery team. My friend had called them, too, you see. She gave my neighbor man a withering look, decrying the pointlessness of his whiffle bat pounding strategy, and strapped on enormous leather gloves. She marched right up, entangled the two animals with her biceps rippling, threw the snake in the brush, and took the hawk to the big bird animal emergency center.

My neighbors were planning to visit it, but after five days, it died. But hey – at least they tried, and I can’t stop smiling over what the hundreds of people who drove by on that busy road must have thought was going on.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


You know how you always guess what your kids are going to do when they grow up, based on their childhood play choices? You know, the future doctor puts a splint on G.I. Joe, and the future architect creates cities in the sandbox.

Well, we took Maddy to the circus last weekend. Now, oh, brother.

At swimming lessons, she pushed off backwards from the wall as if in an Olympic backstroke race and flipped over under water, like a mermaid acrobat.

At home, she lined up all her mini Build-a-Bears from McDonald’s and had them doing tricks with a plastic bucket and a toy bicycle.

But for the grand finale, at the grocery store, we had one of those heavier carts with the toddler “cab.” She grabbed the handrail with one hand, bent over backwards toward the pavement, and arched her other hand skyward, gracefully . . . just like the spectacular bow by circus star Madame Shavatsky, or whatever her name was, who trained the white doves, dogs and cats.

The only difference was, Madame Shavatsky (or thereabouts) had deep, deep cleavage, and stiletto boots. But I suppose those’ll be next. Wonder how they’ll go with a freckle-nose?

Monday, June 12, 2006


On my education website,, my “Grammar Granny” writing feature last week was on big, long words, and how important it is to have phonics skills so that you can pronounce them and get a head start on understanding what they mean.

Then I received this doozy on my daily vocabulary word email. It’s supposedly the longest word in the English language, a 45-letter word for black lung disease. Take a deep breath and try to pronounce it:


OK, here’s the cheat sheet:


Actually, it makes sense: these syllables are from the Greek pneumono- (lung) + Latin ultra- (beyond, extremely) + Greek micro- (small) + -scopic (looking) + Latin silico (like sand) + volcano + Greek konis (dust) + -osis (condition).

A little “word nerd” humor came with the email: in attempting pronunciation of this word, they advised caution “lest you may have to avail the services of an otorhinolaryngologist (an ear, nose and throat specialist).”

Sunday, June 11, 2006


The rod and reproof give wisdom:
but a child left to himself
bringeth his mother to shame.
-- Proverbs 29:15

We just got back from a few days out of town. We were thrilled to find Maddy, 6, even happier and perkier than before we left. Bed made, teeth brushed, toys picked up, library books read. Woo hoo!

We knew things would go well, because we found strict babysitters who don’t let her get away with half the stuff WE let her get away with. Who were they? Two of her older sisters, tag-teaming. They were Homeland Security before Homeland Security was cool.

We rejoiced. One of the most important tasks of parenting is to find tough-talking but tenderhearted babysitters, who can ride herd on the wildhairs while you’re away, enforce your rules, keep the kids out of the Emergency Room and the neighbors from calling the police.

When I was a kid, I had a whole string of them:

Great-Great Aunt Nell kept us busy with endless games of Yahtzee and her parakeet, Dickie Bird. She never shaved her legs, and she drove a really racy Dodge Dart.

Mrs. Peetz was strict and made us do lots of chores but always brought a make-your-own pizza kit, which was exotic and multicultural in those days.

But the best was Jeannie Fink, a teenager with a gift for marketing and promotion. She worked in a candy store. So she would bring a sack of candy that served as a fabulous bribery stash to induce good behavior. Her motto: speak softly, and carry a peppermint stick.

Now that I’m a mom, I’ve been blessed with great babysitters. They’ve been tough, but not unkind . . . tender, but not wimps . . . and delightful, memorable and distinctive, each in her own way. The most memorable one was . . .

. . . Big, Bad Jan*.

She came highly recommended: reliable, experienced, no-nonsense. She cut an imposing figure – Mary Poppins on steroids. The week before she came, I sang this song about her for the kids, just to set them up. It was a parody of that country-western rap ballad, “Big, Bad John”:

When your parents are leavin’

You’ll see her arrive.

She stands 5-foot-10

And weighs 185.

Kinda broad at the shoulders,

Narrow at the hips.

And everybody knows

You don’t give no lip

To Big Jan.

(Refrain) Big Jan! Big Jan! Big Jaaaa-aaaan! Big, bad Jan!!!!

Jan arrived, and the kids gaped at her as she towered over them. I went over the Do’s and Don’ts, as well as a list of fun places she could take the kids to, if they were good.

She urged us out the door. “Don’t worry!” she reassured us. “Just go have fun.” We left with a song in our hearts, thankful for such a great stand-in.

As we drove off, though, I felt a little tug of doubt about the crazy way she’d parked her great, big car in our driveway. It was kind of cattywampus. But oh, well: the kids would be plenty safe in that great, big car.

The week went by quickly. When we got back, the kids had tears of joy in their eyes. We felt great about how much they had missed us, and what excellent parents we were for providing such a solid parental replacement . . . until Big, Bad Jan drove off, a little cattywampus.

Then it all came spilling out:

She had “vampire teeth.”

She hummed.

Her car was stinky.

And she was a terrible driver. They had stomachaches from going around corners too fast. But because I’d given her the idea that I wanted them to go on a lot of outings, she’d taken them all over kingdom come, humming incessantly between her vampire teeth, scaring them with her iffy driving and her stinky, stinky car.

Yeah, but the house was clean, the beds were made, 911 had never been called, the roof was intact . . . and best of all, after a week with HER, they appreciated US.

Overall, Big, Bad Jan did a rootin’, tootin’ good job. And even if she didn’t, I would never give her no lip. †

* not her real name.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


I’ve been wracking my brain for a good thank-you gift to send to our vacation hosts. One candidate was a set of special soaps and lotions from a Nebraska entrepreneur ‘way out in the Sandhills of our state, near where the husband had been raised. A friend had sent me some a while ago and it really made my skin soft. It had an unusual ingredient: goats’ milk.

I had a small bottle of it in the car, and took it out to try it on, to refresh my memory. Was this worthy?

But from the back seat came this loud protest:

“What’s that smell?”

It was Maddy. “Just my hand lotion,” I replied.

“Well, it smells like Play-Dough!” she retorted. “Now my cheese stick doesn’t taste very good any more.”

Next idea. . . .

Friday, June 09, 2006


I was telling Eden, our new high-school graduate, about our adults-only vacation at a lake house in Missouri. Our last evening was so different than our everyday lives. We actually had a full hour to get ready to go out instead of a three-ring circle of babysitter pick-ups, ringing phones, small fires to put out in the living room, and so forth.

I had time to touch up my toenail polish, and even took the luxury of using the medium speed on the blow-dryer instead of my usual hurry-up thermonuclear blast. It was wonderful.

We enjoyed an elegant stand-up cocktail party with old and new friends in the gorgeous home of some empty-nesters. There was nary a toy in sight, nor an isolated Lego underfoot.

We took a wine-and-cheese sunset cruise to our dinner destination. The waiter was really sharp, and memorized all 14 dinner orders without writing a thing down. To tease him, we all switched seats. But it didn’t phase him a bit. He placed all 14 dinners in front of the right people. We were amazed.

We cruised home under the stars, and went in for a nightcap. Miraculously, the hostess had a crystal cocktail shaker and martini glasses. So we made an assembly line, and fixed something extraordinary: chocolate martinis.

Eden’s face was rapt as she listened to the details.

Then I told how the evening ended. “And THEN we sang our favorite camp songs. You know: “The cannibal king / with the big nose ring / fell in love with the dusky mai – AI -- aid / and every night / by the pale moonlight / sounded like this to me – EE – ee: / Barroomp! Barroomp! Barroomp bah dee ahh dee ai – AI – ai!! . . . .”

Eden made a funny face.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Well, I was just sitting here so happy that you got to experience such a sophisticated, cultured evening,” she said. “I was kind of looking forward to my own adult social life. But somehow, the ‘cannibal king’ song. . . .”

Just because our generation knows how to relax with style! I’ll have to show her the section on cannibal lifestyles in Town and Country magazine.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


El Magnifico and I enjoyed a three-day hiatus out of town with friends. Meanwhile, our young-adult daughters took turns babysitting their 6-year-old sister. Everything went great on both ends.

But I was having my doubts when Maddy started describing the visits by our neighbor’s adorable grandson, Hunter. He also is 6, and might be a future suitor for Maddy. He does, after all, have a tremendous collection of Matchbox cars, and he offers her a chance to be a little mermaid in his grandma’s backyard swimming pool. So we have an over-the-fence play-date series going.

Well, Maddy said that while we were gone, she and Hunter hung out a lot by our pickup truck, parked out back.

“By the pickup?” I asked. “What were you doing?”

She shrugged. “Oh . . . drinking.”


Turns out it was Juicy Juice, punch flavor. Let’s just hope it wasn’t a glimpse of our future as elderly parents of an active teenager.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


(Note: DailySusan will return on Thursday, June 8)


Thou art near, O Lord;
and all thy commandments are truth.
-- Psalm 119:151

Good friends invited us to their cabin on a lake. There would be boating, swimming and fun in the sun. I planned to wear my long winter coat or maybe a choir robe. But with an hour to go before the stores closed, and on my birthday to boot, I knew I could procrastinate no longer. I HAD to go buy a new swimsuit.

The one I have is so old that the hot new song when I bought it was “Do the Hustle.”

That’s what I had to do in the fitting room, attempting to funnel my aging East German border guard bod into the four square inches of fabric for which they want to charge you $90. I did some funky disco steps, trying to wriggle in to a modest two-piece jobby with the little swim-skirt down below, and the little swim-shirt up top.

Do you know how powerfully stretchy these swimsuit fabrics are? The real cause of global warming! They’re clearing whole rainforests for the rubber and spandex for these things. We need a renewable resource alternative. You know, like ETHANOL swimsuits. Yeah: cornhusks for the supportive bustline, cornsilk for a little padding. . . .

But I digress. Somehow I tugged on the little swim-skirt, trying not to notice in the mirror that I looked like a ballerina hippo in a bad dream in a Disney cartoon.

I pulled the top down over my head. Floopety floop! A tight roll of swimsuit fabric formed under my armpits.

There was no way it would roll back up. There was no way it would roll down. It had undergone dressing-room fusion.

I looked like a topless, pink Pillsbury Dough Girl with a thick rubber band under my arms, just above two strangely contorted and displaced . . . you know. . . .

Predictably, at that moment, the fitting-room door slammed open.

A lady gawked.

“Oh,” she said. “There’s someone in here.”

With a look combining horror, amusement and pity, she backed out and slammed the door . . .

. . . leaving me a topless, pink Pillsbury Dough Girl with shattered self-esteem.

I already struggled ENOUGH with how I looked in a swimming suit that was fully ON.

“Attention, shoppers,” a cheery voice interrupted. “The store will close in 10 minutes. Please take your purchases to the cashier.”

Somehow, I wriggled out of that boa constrictor of a top, and tried on the remaining candidates. A one-piece looked the least bad. I hurried out with it.

Did the cashier know what happened? I felt very embarrassed, very fat, and very old.

Much to my surprise, she smiled, and said, “This is so cute. This will look good on you.”

Now I felt guilty, too, for having a pity party. I beat a hasty retreat.

I started up the car and sat there in the darkness. Emotion swept over me. I’m fat! I’m old! What a bad birthday! I’m going to look horrible on this trip. I’d better bring a lot of towels, and wrap one around my own face.

Tears welled up. My throat got very tight.

As I backed up, I saw that the license plate on the car parked behind me said:


The song playing on Christian radio at that moment was “Be Near” by Shane Barnard:

Be near, oh God / Be near, oh God / Your nearness is to us our good. . . .

Didn’t He promise to always be with me? Why hadn’t I taken my feelings to Jesus, first?

I rasped tearfully, “I don’t look very good, Lord. . .”

. . . and as soon as I’d said it, I knew everything would be OK. He saw. He knew. He would make me feel better. He always did. See? I was chuckling about it already.

I may be fat. I may be old. I may look like a cartoon character in a swimming suit.

But I have an all-powerful, ever-present, perfectly loving God with me always. He is here. Always. He knows I’m a Pillsbury Dough Girl. He loves me, anyway. †

Saturday, June 03, 2006


(Today's DailySusan featured a series of humorous cartoons, visible only to email subscribers)

Friday, June 02, 2006


Maddy, 6, was waxing philosophical.

“Someday, I’m going to go . . . YOU know. . .” and she stuck out her tongue sideways, and crossed her eyes looking up.

It was comical, but I tried not to laugh. “Oh, you mean you’ll be dead?” I asked gently.

“Yeah. And they’ll put me in a box and throw dirt on me,” she informed me, matter-of-factly.

I guess my face must have registered something negative, because she quickly added, “Oh, there’ll be lots of flowers and they’ll say words.”

“Words? And then what will happen?”

She stuck her arms out. “Then I’ll rise.”

“You’ll rise?”

“Yes. I’ll go to heaven. It’ll look like an enormous, bo-bormous castle. And there’ll be Jesus, on a throne so wide you can’t see either end of it.”

“Will He see you?”

“Oh, yes. He’ll say, ‘Hi, Maddy!’”

“And what will you say?”

“I’ll say, ‘Hi, Jesus! Want to play me in some GOLF?!?!”

Thursday, June 01, 2006


There’s not much about the nation’s illegal immigration problem that makes you smile. But click on this attachment, muchachos. Ay, carumba!

(Attachment, available only to email subscribers, depicted the President giving an immigration speech from the Oval Office, only there are windows behind him. Just as he says, "Our nation is not in control of our borders," several guys in straw hats and ponchos peer into the windows, then run away)