Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Books Times Five

I've been making a few Blurb books lately.

All but one are for my grandkids. The other is for my mom.

I like getting these poems down in a book for safekeeping.

And they seem to like receiving them, too!

Blurb makes me smile.


click below for more happiness

Monday, January 30, 2012

Calypso Night

Wassily Kandinsky
Red Spot II

(Please read while listening to my playlist music.)

Calypso Night
©2012 Susan Noyes Anderson

Listen as the rhythm
of a heated, humid day
meets the drumming of a
fevered, fertile night.

The sun and clouds have dropped
into the sea, simmered away;
now the voodoo moon is
rising, hot and bright.

A sultry dance of orchids
and hibiscus stirs the breeze,
as calypso pulses
magic through your veins.

Your heart beats into music;
passion takes you by degrees.
In the morning, only
memory remains.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


At last!
A "normal" Saturday Centus prompt!!
And 100 words to make it sing!!!

Thanks, Jenny.
(Or maybe I should thank Nonna?)

The prompt, as always, is in red.


Artwork by Ruth Trobe

It’s harder now to tell where your part ends,
or where my part begins, as time goes on.
I only know that when I speak of friends,
I always name you first. You are lifelong.

We’ve breathed each other’s air enough to know
that suffocation will not be our lot.
Sometimes I wander to, you wander fro.
But lonely’s something you and I are not.

We’ve been together two-thirds of our days.
Safe home. The years roll by. The years roll by.
We know where all the bodies are buried.
And we know when. And we know how and why.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Grandma's Secrets: Was She Witch or Wonder?

This piece is from February of 2009, before I had any readers.
Hope you enjoy it!

Grandma's Secrets - A Memory Sketch
by Susan Noyes Anderson

My grandmother lived on the top floor of a red brick house. It looked pretty ordinary from the maple-lined street, but walking through her door meant leaving the familiar behind. Every cushioned step up her gold-carpeted stairway was a step away from everyday life, for my grandma lived in a curious world of her own making.

The smell of herbs commanded the air. Other smells tried to take over sometimes, a lentil and vegetable soup, for example; but it was those herbs that held sway over all the rest. Grandma was big on herbs, and she dried her own. Black cohosh root, comfrey, motherwort, and goldenseal were just a few of the plants that hung, upside-down, in the kitchen or bedroom, suspended from sap-stained strings that stirred gently as we passed through the rooms. Each rustling leaf made its pungent contribution to the botanical odor that was Grandma’s.

My sisters and I thought she was a witch when we were little, not the hex-setting variety, but the kind who had healing powers and talked to animals. The kitchen cupboards held, not food, but small brown bags, square cardboard containers, tiny envelopes and the like, filled with such treasures as twisted roots, tree bark, and odd-smelling powders. A lidless cookie jar, painted with apples and branches, stood alone on the counter, brimming with stale gingersnaps. My siblings and I didn’t eat them, though we did experiment with the contents of her cupboards. In time, it became clear to us that whatever Grandma was, “witch” was probably too easy a name for it, though we couldn’t deny she had more than a nodding acquaintance with the chirping robins that nested in her kitchen window every spring.

At the top of the stairs was the living room. A yellow slant board made its home right in the middle, where Grandma often lay, upside-down, and became a sort of human centerpiece, performing voice exercises whose syllables were so sharp they seemed, almost, to leave nicks as they bounced from wall to wall. “Eh-er-a-eh-ay-i-ee. Eh-er-a-eh-ay-i-ee.” Afterward, throat open and larynx engaged, Grandma would repair the damage with rich, deep tones from her favorite poem, beginning with the words “Oh, wild west wind,” and continuing until the walls resumed their former appearance, filigreed paper and all. Meanwhile, the blood rushing to her head (“good for the circulation”) lent a dash of vivid color to the otherwise muted room, turning her face red as the beets (“good for the bloodstream”) boiling on her stove. It was a marvelous spectacle, much better watched than replicated.

Probably because of its color, the faded yellow slant board didn’t even look particularly out of place, though much of the decor was quite formal. Everything in that front room had a golden glow to it, intensified by sunlight streaming through the windows, yet still evident when evening closed the curtains. What was the secret of that luminescence? It didn’t come from the old black box that was Grandma’s television, because she never turned it on.

Maybe it was a mysterious combination of simple things: the flaxen threads running through the fabric of her french slipcovers, or the gilded figures of a shepherd and shepherdess that served as lamps. Perhaps the ochre window coverings held the secret, or the goldenrod spilling over the chipped rim of a bisque vase. Were the peaceful nature scenes of her oriental wall hangings responsible for the glow? Was it a reflection of Grandma herself? A personal aura? Whatever the source, the effect was one of warmth, wonder, and not a little magic; and being there, you became part of it.


Black cohosh - for rheumatism
Butcher’s broom - for circulation
Cayenne - for colds and earache
Chamomile - for nervousness and to aid digestion
Comfrey - for skin wounds and irritations
Dandelion - to rid body of excess water
Feverfew - for headache
Ginger - for upset stomach
Ginseng - for vitality
Goldenseal - for inflammation
Motherwort - for female problems
Nicotinic Acid - for dizziness
Peppermint - for stomach cramps
Skullcap - for insomnia
White willow bark - in place of aspirin

There's a little bit of poetic license here, but my Grandma Noyes was a real character, a rare eccentric who was known for performing dramatic readings, doctoring herself and others with herbs and natural concoctions, and dressing with uncommon elegance. She was a rare woman, and I hope this piece does her justice. (Below is a picture of her as a young woman. Her father was George Edward Anderson, a well-known early photographer in LDS church history.)

Eva Anderson Noyes


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Just for a Change

(Needless to say, I wrote this when I was a bit younger.)

Sunshine for the Latter-day Mother’s Soul, Eagle Gate

Just for a change I’d like to make
a change this very day–
I’d like to do the things that all
those mothering books say.
I’d like to give up yelling and
perfect the old “I” statement.
(Not “Turn that racket down!”) …
but “I’m in need of noise abatement.”
(Not “Talk back once more and you’re toast!”) …
but “I demand respect.”
(Not “Brush your teeth, or die!”) …
“I fear your hygiene is suspect.”

I’d like to be the kind of mom
who gets the kids to clean
(and they all end up having fun,
and no one thinks you’re mean!).
I’d like to be the kind who gets
the dinner on the table
and never has to set it ‘cause
her children are so able…
And willing, oh, I’d like to be
the kind that makes them willing–
I’d write a how-to book, and
would I ever make a killing!

I’d sort of like to be the type
who’s frugal as can be
and manages her time so well
she’s always home by three.
The kind whose kids are never spoiled
because they love to work,
who think a kid who asks his mom
for money is a jerk.
I’d really like to be that kind––
and, oh, just one more thing…
I’d like to be the kind who’s never
freaked by anything.

The kind who always keeps her cool,
no matter what goes down.
The kind who can control her kids
with one look, or one frown.
(Or two looks or two frowns, or even
one big burst of words!)
I’d like to be the kind who looks
real hip, but not absurd.
In short, I’d like to be a mom
who’s good as good can be.
The only problem is, how would
my children know it’s me?

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On Perception and Perpetrators

The Cookie Thief
by Valerie Cox

A woman was waiting at the airport one night,
with several long hours before her flight.
She hunted for a book in the airport shop,
bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.

She was engrossed in her book, but happened to see
that the man beside her, as bold as could be,
grabbed a cookie or two from the bag between,
which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.

She read, munched cookies, and watched the clock,
as the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock.
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by,
thinking, "If I weren't so nice, I'd blacken his eye!"

With each cookie she took, he took one too.
When only one was left, she wondered what he'd do.
With a smile on his face and a nervous laugh,
he took the last cookie and broke it in half.

He offered her half, and he ate the other.
She snatched it from him and thought...Oooh brother.
This guy has some nerve, and he's also so rude.
Why, he didn't even show any gratitude!

She had never known when she had been so galled
and sighed with relief when her flight was called.
She gathered her belongings and headed for the gate,
refusing to look at the thieving ingrate.

She boarded the plane and sank in her seat,
then sought her book, which was almost complete.
As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise.
There was her bag of cookies in front of her eyes!

"If mine are here," she moaned with despair.
"Then the others were his, and he tried to share!"
Too late to apologize, she realized with grief,
that she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.

This cute but astute poem makes me chuckle and gives me pause. How many times have I been absolutely certain that I understood the dynamics of a situation, only to realize that what I believed to be truth was merely a product of my own skewed perceptions? The answer, I'm sure, is too many times! We would all do well to avoid jumping to conclusions, refuse to make snap judgments about people, and get acquainted with our own faults before we project them on others.

Things are not always as they appear, and we are free to choose our responses to whatever comes our way. We can have a good-natured sense of humor about life and those who live it alongside us (like the supposed cookie thief) or we can be ill-tempered and quick to take offense (like the actual cookie thief).

Our court system holds an accused person innocent until proven guilty, and there are good reasons for that. Any court official would testify that the initial perceptions of even the most well-intentioned people can be faulty, and reason suggests that the perceptions of an irritated person will be even more faulty, as will any snap judgments he or she chooses to make. What's more, our observations and interpretations are unfailingly colored by our own shortcomings, whatever those may be.

The takeaway, for me, is this: It's never a bad idea to hear others out before painting them with the brush of deceit or other wrong-doing. Figurative paint sticks every bit as well as literal paint does (maybe better), and the painter who applies it too hastily is left with dirty hands.

{let's keep it clean out there}

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Leaving a Legacy

My growing collection of blog books makes me happy.

Twelve of them, to be precise.

Each with a different cover and dedication.
This one has the words to "Sunrise, Sunset" inside the cover.

I use Blog 2 Print, which pretty much does all the work for me.
It slurps your blog right over into a book.

Not a bad result, huh? A little pricey, but worth it!

{love notes to my progeny}

for more happiness, click below

Monday, January 23, 2012

How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?

It was a rough weekend at the Anderson house.

And we are definitely singing the blues...

How can you mend a broken heart?

How can you stop the rain from falling down?

How can you stop the sun from shining?

What makes the world go round?

How can you mend this broken man?

How can a loser ever win?

Please help me mend my broken heart,

and let me live again.

I can still feel the breeze

that ruffles through the trees

and memories of days gone by.

We could never see tomorrow...

No one said a word about the sorrow.

And, how can you mend a broken heart?

How can the losers ever win?

Please help us mend our broken hearts

and let us live again.
-The BeeGees

Maybe next year??

Go, Niners!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cliffhanging: The Epilogue

Our lovely Jenny (whose blog, not coincidentally, is titled Off on a Tangent) happens to be off on a cliffhanger tangent just now. In light of that fact, and being an inveterate follower of the inimitable Ms. Matlock, I will now present you with 150 words of epilogue to conclude my two-part Saturday Centus story entitled Cliffhanging. I hope you will bear with me one last time.


The first two installments are in red below,
followed by today's addition, the epilogue, in black.

Cliffhanging, part one (100 words)
©2012 Susan Noyes Anderson

4:50 am.

Jan's morning began in the living room, neck protesting a night in her chair. She’d been sitting sentry there (off and on) for years, awaiting errant teenagers, welcoming them in before lecturing them soundly.

But this welcome was too slow in coming. Sean should be home. Trembling, she grabbed her iPhone, exhaling slowly. Nada.

What good were these stupid cell phones, anyway? They made not hearing from your kids even scarier. Especially when their idea of fun was hanging off a cliff. Literally.

Sean knew how she worried. “I’m alive,” he always texted, teasing her. Maybe there was no reception.

Her limbs froze when the doorbell rang. The knocking (urgent, pounding) froze her soul...

Cliffhanging, part two (50 words)

"Mrs. Miller...Janet? It's Bud Gray. "

She rose stiffly, cracked the door. "Sheriff?”

"Sean’s in rough shape, Jan. Head injury. Let’s get you to County." Her stomach lurched.

Across town, a nurse smiled. The kid was conscious now, wanted his phone.

“That your beep?” Bud asked, eyes on the road. Breathless, Jan looked down.

"I'm alive," she read, and felt the world rush in.

Cliffhanging: the Epilogue (150 words)
(six months later)

Jan jumped, startled awake by the touch of Sean’s hand upon her shoulder.

“I texted you that I was on my way home, Mom. You should have gone to bed.” His tone was gentle.

Embarrassed, she glanced up at him. “I know. I was going to, but…” Her voice trailed off into silence, knowing her vigilance was unnecessary, unable to put words to why she couldn’t seem to let go of it. At least she was doing better than initially, when her anxiety level had soared every time her adventure-seeking son left the house.

“I’m sorry, Mom,” he murmured, not for the first time. “Sorry I put you through all that.”

Squeezing his hand reassuringly, Jan nodded. “I’m fine,” she said. “Hey, accidents happen. And all this crazy worrying is on me, not you. I’ll get a handle on it.”

The next weekend, she held vigil in her bed, dozed fitfully until she heard the door.

Progress, she thought, then smiled her way to sleep.


Friday, January 20, 2012

The Lost Summer

When I was in high school, I was invited to attend a summer writing class that would include the so-called "most gifted" writers in that sprawling bureaucracy known as the Los Angeles Unified School District. Having designated yours truly as the sole and supposedly lucky nominee for our high school, members of the English department clearly expected me to be nothing but delighted by the news. Instead, I was resentful, completely against the idea of having to spend the entire summer in a classroom with a bunch of kids I didn't know and wouldn't see again. If this was the reward for being a good writer, maybe I had miscalculated in my efforts to excel in that area.

Of course, my parents were thrilled by what they saw as a great opportunity, and they insisted I attend. I complied with the most negative attitude imaginable, unhappy that I would be writing papers instead of swimming, going to the beach, and devouring every book I could get my hands on whilst lounging in my favorite air-conditioned corner of our home. All of my friends, excellent students in their own right, were free as the proverbial birds in trees to do all the fun things I should have been doing with them. I, on the other hand, was relegated to four walls, a desk, and a chalkboard...penalized for a talent I took for granted. What an honor. Blecch.

I did end up meeting a girl I really enjoyed, and we spent many covert moments passing a silly poem back and forth that began, "There's nothing so pleasant as a day in June, except...". As I recall, the first entry (hers) was "...a nun, buried in a sand dune." (Can you guess that my new friend attended Catholic school?) My oh-so-clever follow-up, I believe, was something about a child choking on a silver spoon. And so on (and on and on). You get the drift. Both of us were equally delighted to be there, and we expressed our displeasure with great maturity. Or not.

But let me proceed to the real point. It was in this class that the first B of my English career appeared at the top of my handwritten page. At first I was appalled, then humiliated, then indignant. How could I, arguably the best writer in my school, if not the entire universe (I was a modest child), receive anything but an A for my efforts? What was the guy thinking? What kind of crazy was he? And what was the world coming to, anyway?

When I went up after class and addressed these questions to a surprisingly patient teacher, he explained that my paper had wonderful mechanics, excellent vocabulary, solid ideas, and solid support for those ideas. What it lacked, he explained, was ME. I was pretty much phoning my product in, and he wasn't buying. Happily, this shocked me to the point that I actually heard him, and the message hit home. I was simply giving my teachers what they wanted, writing to meet their expectations, going through the motions. And strangely enough, it had never occurred to me to do more. These were just assignments, and I wasn't investing anything in them at all...no passion, no flair, and no creativity.

My friend, by the way, received an A on her paper. Reading it, I understood why. In fact, I learned the most valuable lesson of my writing career that summer...not to put pen to paper until I was feeling something...a proviso which applied to anything and everything I intended to put my name on, assigned or otherwise, essays as well as poetry. Writing from that place of feeling was not only possible, but necessary. The good stuff started in the gut, not the head.

Of course, I don't always write from that place. It comes and goes, even now. Sometimes the passion just isn't there, or it's buried so deeply I can't come up with it. That's when I use my head and not my heart.

It always shows.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In My Life

(I hope you will turn up your sound and enjoy the melody.)

"In My Life" is one of my favorite Beatles songs, and not just because my nephew sang it at my son's wedding. The lyrics were written by John Lennon, inspired by Kenneth Allsop's remark that Lennon should inject more of his own life into the music he wrote. Apparently, the journalist had learned more about John from reading "In His Own Write" than from any of his lyrics.

With that in mind, "In My Life" began as a self-described rambling poem where the composer sort of took a bus ride through his childhood haunts, including Penny Lane and Strawberry Field. Lennon was not happy with the result, calling it "the most boring sort of 'What I Did on my Holidays Bus Trip' song." He reworked the lyrics into a much more generalized reflection on his past, and very few of the original lines remain.

While the lyric was written entirely by Lennon, the music was a collaboration with McCartney, and George Martin wrote the bridge. Released on the Rubber Soul album in 1965, In My Life is ranked 23rd on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, as well as fifth on their list of The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs. It also placed second on CBC's 50 Tracks, and Mojo magazine named it the best song of all time in 2000.

As for me, I will never forget the sound of my nephew accompanying himself on the piano as he sang this beautiful song to my son and daughter-in-law at their wedding dinner in 1999. (And they have been making beautiful music together ever since!)

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed.
Some forever, not for better;
Some have gone and some remain.
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall.
Some are dead, and some are living.
In my life, I’ve loved them all.

But of all these friends and lovers,
There is no one compares with you.
And these memories lose their meaning,
When I think of love as something new.
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before;
I know I’ll often stop and think about them.
In my life, I love you more.

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before;
I know I’ll often stop and think about them.
In my life, I love you more.

-John Lennon

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What Really Matters

The two most important days in your life are
the day you were born and the day you find out why.
-Mark Twain

I think we all have a lot of things we were meant to do and be,
but some definitely stick out more than others.

Seems that maybe Josh Kelley has found his raison d'etre.
And he's written a song about it that just might touch your heart.
(Video below.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happiness Is a Thoughtful Husband

It might not be very glamorous, but this new shower head means the world to me. A couple of weeks ago, I was wishing out loud for the kind of shower where I could take the sprayer in hand and keep my hair from getting wet. (As a short person, this is difficult with the type that just rains down water willy-nilly on you from above.)

Sooooo...yesterday, without even telling me, my husband installed the perfect shower head for me! (I should add that he was inordinately fond of our old one, which was not only the perfect height for him but also looked considerably better.)

What a great surprise!! I don't need to tell you that the hubs just scored a few extra points with his lovely wife.

{make someone happy}

click below for more happiness