“The glory of gardening:  hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.  To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.  –William Blake


As if her multiple full-time jobs aren’t enough.  And, adding to them, Gail has several side ventures: her Pampered Chef business, her art created from antique wood and tin and she dabbles in oils.  Oh, and she also gardens.

As if.

She already works circles around me and Suzanne, and then she really makes us look like slackers by adding gardening to the mix.  She doesn’t do this to make us look bad, it is simply her high-gear default setting.

And I’m not talking about a few tomatoes and cucumbers, although she does produce those quite well.   I’m talking about onions and beets, too.  And potatoes and peppers–multiple varieties.


Oh, I’ve got a garden, all right.  And it’s is an incredible garden.  It’s just that the only work I do in it is eating what comes out of it.  My master-of-all-trades husband Mark gardens, too.  He enjoys it, I don’t.  So, I let him do it.  I think I’ve already made it clear that he is an over-achiever.  Have you ever been in a garden you had to sweep?  He got bored during one stretch several years ago, and after he built the raised boxes, he decided to tile it as well.


I’m not even kidding.  I couldn’t make this up if I tried. 



I planted a garden once.  Once.  I was still in high school, and I asked Mom what she wanted for Mother’s Day.  She said she wanted someone to plant the garden for her.  I look like my mother. Apparently, I am like her in the respect that I don’t really like to garden, either.  I didn’t really want to, but she was an awesome mom, and it was Mother’s Day.  

 So, I did.  That was the only time I have ever planted a garden.  I am coming clean right here—I am a lazy, slacker gardener.  That should be no surprise after I admitted my slacker tendencies in last week’s post.

Suzanne makes no claims to be a gardener, either.  Like me, she likes to enjoy the fruits and vegetables of someone else’s labors, but that’s the extent of it. 

This is the extent of her garden this year: 


Now, as promised, back to Gail’s garden.


Gail, like my husband is an over-achiever.  Except that that’s all they know, and I am judging in relative terms, so it’s all good.  Good for me when I get to enjoy the fruits and vegetables of their labors.

Gail’s potato patch was green and blooming early in the summer,


before the heat and repeated blows from several rounds of intense storms recently in western Kansas.


The backyard took a hit, as did the community.



Gail wasted no time in cleaning up her yard and garden–as well as helping the community cleanup–and got back to the business of gardening—and living.  She had stuff to do, things to get done.

“Life is like a garden.  We all face storms, and get weeds in our lives, but the end result, if you weather it, is good,” she said. 



Another of Gail’s multiple talents is that of a canner, canning her garden abundance.  The zucchini, I learned, are gifts from other gardeners.  


Her canned salsa is perfect in every way.  She also makes a zucchini relish that, while it may not sound versatile or tasty, it is over-the-top on both counts.   She jokes that if you leave your car unlocked in her small town at this time of year, you are likely to find zucchini in it.  She sometimes finds it on her front porch, and she welcomes it.

Mark sometimes refers to his garden as a “salsa garden,” as he plants a lot of tomatoes and peppers.  He then makes an awesome fresh—not canned–salsa from them.  He grows cilantro as well, but it blooms early and not often. 



“Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.  –Luther Burbank

Not only does Gail plant a vegetable garden, she has an incredible green thumb for potted flowers as well. 




My husband has a green thumb for flowers, too.  Every year he plants a variety in the ground and in pots. 


He knows Mom loved begonias, so he plants a pot of them every year in her honor. 


Lantanas are favorites for both of us.

I actually got my fingers dirty about ten years ago and planted daffodil bulbs.  I knew they had to be planted in the fall before the first ground freeze, and in my usual slacking fashion, I planted them the day before it froze.  They are the first harbingers of spring, and when they bloom every year, I feel a sense of hope again; I know I can make it through the winter.   

About 12 years ago, my husband and I took a weekend trip in May, and Suzanne watched our boys, then ages ten and seven.  She drove them by the outdoor greenhouse in town, and made the comment that she was surprised that the plants and flowers weren’t stolen, as they were left outside after business hours unattended.  She shared our son’s response:

Our ten-year old, without missing a beat replied: “Only mean people steal, and mean people don’t like flowers.”


The house that built us, the farmhouse we all grew up in came down several years ago.  It was time.  My brother and his family live on the farm and have since built a new house there, continuing to be the perfect stewards of that special spot of land.

On the lot where the house stood, they plan to plant a garden. 



It went by without fanfare last year, and I’m afraid Suzanne’s birthday slipped by again this year.  She was in the hospital last year, and this year she is traveling with her boyfriend.   Another year is always a gift, however, and acknowledging that she added a digit to her age is always a good thing—age is a gift, don’t forget. 

Seven years ago on her birthday, she was given a diagnosis of thyroid cancer.  On her birthday.  Every birthday since then is always a big one, but she will celebrate a really big one next year. 

Gail will celebrate a big one next February.  It will be a good year for birthday parties, and I’m sure you will have the opportunity to read about them.


The gardens are almost done; it won’t be long before the cold temperatures will render them dormant for another year.  Gardens, even when they appear dead, are always a sign of hope.  Like everything else in nature, it will become alive and vibrant again.  Just like life–time always heals and makes us vibrant again.  After all, life did begin in a garden.

“The most lasting and pure gladness comes to me from my gardens.”—Lillie Langtry.

Mine comes to me from many people in my life, especially my sisters. 








I did it again.  Or, perhaps I should say I didn’t do it again.

I had grand ideas for a grand blog post that I started writing, and then I simply couldn’t finish in time for my weekly post.  I was busy with other, more important things.  Things that were more important to me, anyway.

That post will get done in time, just not in time for this week. 


I made it through six years of college by getting things done at the last minute, which is how I get most things done even now.   This is a defining hallmark of the classic procrastinator, which, I am.  I own that title; I’ve learned to embrace it over the years.  I have come to understand that someone like me who has crazy ideas, ideas like writing a weekly blog about sisterhood, also likely embodies the true-blue characteristics of a procrastinator.

It’s not all bad, though.  It’s the tradeoff for those crazy ideas that, with a little focused effort, can be brought to fruition in the form of positive outcomes.

Which brings me back to this week’s topic.

I had good intentions of getting that post finished.  Per my usual pattern, I started it with a few loose lines midweek, and then started thinking a little more seriously about it Saturday, because I typically post on Sunday evenings.  Then, on Saturday, more important things bumped it down the priority line.  Things like a family gathering on Saturday,



Followed by an impromptu shopping and dinner date with a friend.


“I will do it in the morning,” I thought.  But I didn’t do it in the morning.

I woke up exhausted from a poor night’s sleep, a night of intense, seemingly never-ending thunderstorms that were apparently most strongly concentrated in our back yard.  Thunderclaps that rattled the house on top of brilliant lightning, a storm that knocked the power out.  I lay awake without moving air or any other sound in the still after the storm, and woke up with zero motivation to do much of  anything.

So, I didn’t.  I decided to take a nap and generally be lazy.  Which meant the blog post would not get written.

I did slog through a slow, short run, a habit I rarely miss.  It gets my body and my mind moving most days, my mind more so than my body today.  I get ideas while I run, and today did not disappoint.

As I ran, I let go of the idea that I would write the “good” post I intended to, and pondered the importance of simply letting go of some things.  Things that I hang on to for no good reason, even if there was a good reason at one point in time.  Things I sign up for that only serve to drag me down, instead of bringing me joy like I had hoped they would.

I have had plenty of these things in my life, and I have learned to change the way I think about them.  That change in thinking brings changes in actions, which is where the real change lies. 

I started writing The Sister Lode blog over two years ago, with over 90 posts under my belt.  I started because I love to write; it brings me joy.  It is purely a hobby; I am obligated to no one but myself to post weekly.  So, when the thought of not posting today felt better than the thought of posting, I decided I would let it go.

Until I started thinking about how important it is to let go and simply be a little lazy when we have the opportunity.  Mom used to say,  “If it feels good and it doesn’t break the Ten Commandments, do it!”  Or, in this case, don’t do it.  Then, I thought, it would be fun to extol the virtues of simply slacking in my weekly blog post. 

I liked how this idea felt.


I called Gail after my morning nap; we often talk on Sundays.  I felt much better after the nap, it made up for the storm sleeplessness.  I told her my thoughts about not writing the intended post and writing about slacking instead, and she liked it, too.  Now, keep in mind this is Gail.  Gail, who seems to be a never-ending font of energy, Gail, who routinely spins five or six plates in the air simultaneously.  Gail, who signs up for multiple obligations and gets them done, because they do bring her joy.  She agreed.  She realizes the importance of slowing down and letting go of obligations that don’t bring us joy.  While it appears she rarely does slow down, I know she has become better able to do so when she feels like it. 

Then there’s Suzanne.  Suzanne of few words.  Suzanne, whose one-word motto is simply “whatever,” offered this: “I like to be lazy, and I don’t care what other people think of me.”

We all agreed that past our obligations to our children and families, and our responsibility to pay bills and support ourselves and our spending habits through our work, there is really nothing else we have to do. 

I can honestly say that Gail, Suzanne and I meet those obligations.  Which means we can slack whenever we want. 



Tomorrow will bring a new work week, and I will once again rise to the occasion.  Gail and Suzanne will, too.  Today, however, I have been a slacker.  I let my husband cook lunch for our family.  He enjoys grilling, so it’s not a chore for him.  I did do the laundry like I do every day, but remember that is a joy for me, so I was motivated to do it.  Call me crazy, I know, but washing laundry and hanging it out to dry on my redneck clothesline on the back porch in the summer heat gives me an unparalleled thrill.  My family never complains about that. 


I couldn’t tear myself away from this today,


A slacking pastime I enjoy immensely, as does Suzanne, but not Gail.

I took another nap after lunch today.  A two-nap day is bound to turn out well.  Mom used to say “There was a nap laying on the bed, so I took it.”  I highly recommend naps when and wherever you can get them.  In one of Mom’s favorite books, the author wrote: The more naps you take, the more awakenings you have.

N.A.P.  Not A Problem.

Go take a nap if you need to.  If not, then take the time to enjoy something you like to do, even if you feel like a slacker when you are doing it.  Especially if it makes you feel like a slacker. 

It can be a really good feeling, if you let it.  Gail, Suzanne and I can’t all be wrong. 







I wasn’t even going to write a blog post tonight.  I was having too much fun this weekend celebrating my hometown at our annual church picnic.  A chunk of my readers are from my hometown, and many of them were also in attendance, so I knew they would understand if I took the week off, since I was having so much fun celebrating.

Then, I noticed online this afternoon that today is National Sister’s Day; an unofficial day to celebrate sisterly bonds.  Since I am all about celebrating whatever there is to celebrate, I wanted to spread the word that today is the day for sisters to connect in yet another way.

I didn’t know that today was such a special day.  I was disappointed in myself at first for being out of the loop, but I let it quickly pass, because I like to make every day Sister’s Day.  Suzanne wasn’t able to join us this weekend, but along with other family, Gail and I celebrated our hometown and our sisterhood at the picnic.


We took the train ride around town, the same train we rode on as kids.



We ate the delicious meal prepared in homemade fashion by the dedicated residents of our hometown.



Illuminated by the brilliant lights of the ball diamond, we took a little walk and  celebrated with our parents by taking them a burger and a beer.  We believe in celebrating however we can, so we do.

We celebrated our hometown in so many other ways, but that may be another blog post for another day.


If you need to reach out to your sister, National Sister’s Day would be the perfect time to do it–or any day, for that matter.   Just so you do it.


Happy Sister’s Day.  I am offering a montage of some of our finer moments as sisters.













Happy Sister’s Day Suzanne and Gail!  You are the best!









“Anticipation is the greater joy.”  —anonymous

Suzanne and I were recently discussing the subject of traveling.  How, while one is in the anticipatory stages, it seems magical.  The heightened sense of this is going to be so much fun builds, creating an experience of its own.  Then, when you get home, the memories of that was so much fun continue to build as time passes, perhaps surpassing the actual fun that was had on the trip.  I have found that during the actual trip, I find myself lamenting the fact that the trip is going too fast, and I can’t enjoy it like I had anticipated.  I want time to slow down so I can enjoy it more.  In effect, this actually takes away from the fun of the trip.

I am so weird, I know.

“Schedule something to look forward to.  Anticipation is like 401K matching for happiness.  Double the happiness.”  Eric Barker.   This is the essence of our Mom’s advice in “Something to Look Forward To.” (January 7th, 2018.)

I wish I could bottle up the feeling I get when I am planning a trip.  I would capture it and save it to be savored when I am experiencing the trip.  Because, weirdly enough, when the trip is happening, the feeling is not the same as when I am anticipating it.

Weird, I know, but Suzanne agrees with me.  Sometimes, the anticipation and then the recollection of the trip are the best parts.  When it is happening, it goes too fast, and the joy seeps through the cracks, getting away when all I want to do is slow the trip down, and roll the joy around in my mouth like a piece of hard candy, savoring it at the rate I choose, not the rate that the passage of time demands that I do.


Tonight—Friday evening, I am rolling a piece of hard candy around in my mouth that tastes like Iowa and Minnesota.  The memories of my trip last week are preserved inside that piece of candy, and, like a good meatloaf, they taste better after marinating for a few days.

Taking a few days off and heading north was just the medicine I didn’t know I needed.  I went with my dear friend Shari, picking her up in Kansas City after I left my small city around noon last Thursday.  We made our way north and a bit east, with Minneapolis, Minnesota as our final destination.

But not before we took a step back in time to 1995, detoured, and stepped upon the Bridges of Madison County, Iowa.

As any chick worth her salt knows, this movie is one of the best chick flicks of all times.  To see and feel the actual bridges that were filmed in the movie was almost sensory overload.




We struck our best Meryl Streep poses, as if Clint Eastwood himself may happen by. (He didn’t.)  After watching the movie again several days ago—it had been awhile, I realized we were on the same bridge—the Holliwell Bridge—on the same end of the bridge, and Shari was on the same side of the bridge that Meryl Stood 24 years ago as Clint photographed her.

But that was only a warm-up for the real deal.

My dear friends Amy and Kelly live in Minnesota, and seeing them again was better than seeing Clint would have been, had he showed.


Kelly was my neighbor until she moved to Minneapolis about seven years ago.


Amy got me started on my TJ Maxx addiction, so it was only right that we take our picture there.

Amy held me accountable to meet her for a daily run in 1990 when we both lived in Philadelphia, thus creating a good addiction. Had we not met, and had she not gently prodded me to pick this good habit up again, I may not be a runner today, which translates into I may not be have the energy to travel, or to get anything else done.  If I don’t run, I have realized, I don’t run.

We drove back through Iowa on the way home, catching an iconic 80’s rock band at the historic Surf Ballroom on Sunday night in beautiful Clear Lake, Iowa.


Good thing we planned ahead.


“The Day The Music Died” was written in honor of Buddy Holly of “Peggy Sue” fame, Ritchie Valens, (“La Bamba,”) and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson (Chantilly Lace), because their plane went down in a snowstorm shortly after midnight after leaving the show in this ballroom.  REO Speedwagon paid their tribute to Buddy Holly with a rendition of “Peggy Sue,” with the audience singing along.

This somber piece of American rock and roll history is memorialized inside the ballroom, as well as at the crash site six miles outside of town.  The iconic black glasses mark the path to the site,


Which sits about one-half mile off the road next to an Iowa cornfield.



I didn’t catch the memorial when I was in Clear Lake five years ago, and I vowed to see it next time I went through.  It was worth the trip outside of town, and worth the walk.  History becomes more interesting and more important to me as I age, and this is a vital piece of rock and roll history right here.  In the half-hour we were there, we passed perhaps ten more people coming and going.  If you ever have the opportunity to see the Surf Ballroom and this memorial, I highly recommend doing so.


There was a time in the recent past that it felt like too much work to plan and execute a trip, but thank goodness that time has passed.  Staying home and reading about it is a far cry from actually experiencing a new place, but that’s where I was, and that’s where it felt most comfortable.

But comfortable is not always the most exciting feeling, and I needed more.  Now, after being home not even a week, I want to get ready to go again.


Gail and Suzanne have recently taken trips of their own as well.  Suzanne took a trip to South Dakota with her boyfriend,



And Gail had a weekend mountain getaway with her husband.


Our travels without each other are an adventure in themselves, and necessary in order to spend time with others we are close to.  However, our annual Sister’s Trip is yet to come, and we will certainly share that when it does.

Speaking of Sister Trips, the six traveling sisters from “The Magnificent Seven” (September 2018) took their annual trip this week.  They met in Colorado Springs, and enjoyed each other’s company, as well as many of the beautiful sights in that area.



I had a surprise visit this week from our uncle and aunt.  Our uncle Don was married to our mother’s older sister, and our aunt Sharon is Mom’s youngest sister.  Don is 86 years old, and is retired from Beechcraft Aviation.  Don is blind, as were his wife and two children.  Sharon spends Wednesdays with him, helping him with appointments, shopping and errands, as well as a road trip some Wednesdays.

“I like to get out of the house and ‘see’ new places,” he said.  He uses the verb “see” in the same manner those of us with sight do, because he is truly “seeing” things in his own way.

I remember when I brought my aunt Jeanne, his wife, to our new home.  I led her through the front door, and closed it behind her.

“Oh my, this is a big room,” she said just after I closed the door.  It has a 20-foot ceiling, and she was able to tell this by the way door sounded when I closed it.  Anyone who cannot use their sense of sight to “see” relies upon their other senses to “see,” which is exactly what Don still does.

“I’d like to go to Kansas City.  I want to eat some of their famous barbecue, and I want to go to the museums,” he said.

He went on to tell me about other places in Kansas he’d like to see, places he has researched; some places I didn’t know about.  He told me about the cabin in Smith County he’d like to see, relatively close to our hometown.  It was where Dr. Brewster Higley wrote “Home on the Range.”  He wants to see the museum in Oakley, Kansas.  He also wants to go to Greensburg to see The Big Well, and to see the town that was rebuilt after the tornado on May 4th, 2007.  I want to go back there, too.  That town inspires me, just as my uncle does.

He is 86 years old and blind.  He lives alone. He has buried his wife and two sons.  He knows very well that travel is therapy indeed.  If you have the desire and the resources, but not the inspiration, please let my uncle inspire you.  If there are places you want to see, and you are able to see with your eyes, or with any other sense, then by all means, go see them.



Every year in July, the Leadsled Spectacular converges upon the small city that Suzanne and I live in.  About 2000 classic cars and other automobiles gather in one of our city parks, with the owners showcasing their classic treasures to anyone who wants to see them, including us.  These people form a unique group, traveling from wide and far to meet with others just like them, others who share their passion.  They display them, drive them in a parade, and some enter theirs in a drag race.  Many of them drive them from far away, perhaps a small percentage of them are hauled here on a trailer, but most of them hop in and hit the road.  I saw many of them on the interstate headed toward our city late last week, and many of them cruising around town.




They, too, know the value of Travel Therapy.


At everyone’s disposal, and in varying amounts, we have the same basic three resources:  time, energy and money.  Traveling takes all three.  There was a time in my life—and in Gail’s and Suzanne’s too—when all three of these resources were spent in almost their entirety on our families.  And that is the way it should have been.  This may be the way it is for you as well, and traveling is low on the priority list.  I get it.  But—if there is any way to pull off even a short trip, even a day trip to a local attraction, then do it.  Getting out of the house has the magic power of getting you out of your head.  Seeing new sights, experiencing new places, eating new foods and perhaps meeting new people is just the elixir you may need to jump start your state of mind into a higher place.

Then, when you come home and feel yourself slipping back into the old, lackluster groove, pull out those memories and suck on them like a piece of hard candy.  Get that flavor back.  And then start planning your next getaway.









It’s harvest time in The Wheat State again–finally.  The interminable cycles of  rain have relented enough to allow the combines to get in the field.  At least, for awhile until the next rain comes.  Harvest is typically finished by July 4th, but not this year.

My husband and I took a drive to the farm last Sunday.  I am incomplete without my annual visit to the harvest field.  He hadn’t been for a few years, so it was time. Neither of my sisters were able to go, so he was a willing substitute.


We arrived shortly after they commenced cutting; the rains the night before kept them out of the field until early afternoon.  I eagerly climbed in to the combine when we arrived,


then took a trip to the elevator.


One field was finished shortly after we arrived, and for the first time in a long time–if not forever–I got to see the first swath into the fresh field.


Independence Day is not taken lightly on the farm; my nephew added this symbol of American freedom to the combine before harvest.


I cut some wheat to display at home before the combine got to it,



and, as usual, my brother graciously gave me all I needed to grind into flour with our dad’s grinder.  We left the field dirty, dusty, greasy, sweaty and hot, but fulfilled.  The seeds that were sown last fall were reaped on this hot July day.  They did the work then; and they are doing the work now.  It is a labor of love for the American farmer; this I know from watching my dad and my brothers.  It is not easy work, but they would have it no other way.  It is more than a job, more than a career.  It’s in their blood.


As I said I would several weeks ago, I went to Wichita earlier this week to celebrate a long-overdue reunion with my college roommates.


It has been in the making for months; we finally pulled it together, and pulled it off. We threw most–but not all-caution to the wind, feeling the air and sky on our faces as we let the top down, let our hair down, and let it all hang out.


It was  a fitting ride for four women who have stuck together for 34 years, four women who have suffered profound losses in each of their families, but remain tight with each other, with three of them catching the fourth when she fell.  They pick each other up, dust her off and help her move on to find joy again.

And move on, we do.  There is so much more life out there to live, and clearly, we are living it.  We have vowed to make July our annual reunion month.  We know, beyond the triteness of the phrase, that life is indeed too short.

We planted the seeds many years ago, and we continue to reap what we have sown.


Two of the other three live in Wichita.  Tracy (bottom left) lives in Kansas City.  She and I left Saturday morning to return home.  We talked on the way, she told me she may call another college friend who lived on the way to KC, perhaps stop to see her.  “Maybe,” she said, “It’s too short of a notice, and I should do it another time.”

“Just do it now,” I told her. “This is the weekend for college reunions.”  It didn’t take much to persuade her, so she gave her a call.

She wasn’t available for a visit, but welcomed the call, and realized it had been too long since they had seen each other, which expedited the plans for a visit in the near future.

Coincidentally, this friend had planned to get together with two of her college friends the night before.  One of them had to cancel, but they vowed to make it happen soon.


I should have made it happen sooner, but I am reaping another harvest next week.  I am traveling north with a childhood friend, I friend I see often throughout the year.  We are going to visit two of my friends who happen to live in the same city.  We planted the seeds of our friendship 12 and 29 years ago, and the harvest is more abundant with each visit.    By another coincidence–although I don’t think either one was really that, another friend of 33 years will be visiting that same city from her home three hours away while I am there, and we plan to connect.

I won’t be posting a blog next week; I will be busy with my friends, reaping what we have sown.  The harvest will be the best ever, but probably not as good as the ones in the years to come.


Tracy arrived at our get-together bearing gifts, bracelets chosen for each of us with love, with a single word printed on each of them.  She knows us well:



May the seeds you’ve sown bring you an abundant and joyful harvest.







I have featured this pair of amazing sisters in two previous posts after their annual visits to my home.  (Swheat Girls Part One and Two, July 2017 & July 2018).  They bring their families every Independence Day week from their homes in the Phoenix area.  I treasure their visits; we have maintained contact since 1984.  Tana and Amy began as the girls I babysat in the summers; now they are the women I am lucky to call my lifelong friends.  


This year, they told me they used to spend the weekends sitting in their rooms on the farm, bored until I returned Monday morning.  They couldn’t understand why I felt I needed the weekend off.  That’s many miles bridged from the rough beginning I chronicled last year when I insulted their cat in our first ten minutes together.  After that introduction, they were set on running me off, just like they had with all the others.

Except they didn’t.  And I didn’t leave, either.  We made it through the bumpy beginning, and the sailing just gets smoother every year.




My stomach muscles hurt—in a good way—from laughing so much last week.  If laughter is indeed good medicine, then I should be in perfect health.  And, if I should ever need to get more of this good medicine in the future, all I need is a big dose of this picture:


The bugs were formidable, but we found a way to avoid them.  And, in their usual form, these two find a way around obstacles—simply sip your drink through the straw through the net.  They’ve always figured out a solution to whatever comes their way.

Those early days on the farm were revisited with reverie and stories, recalling their youthful demeanor,


Which hasn’t changed much in all these years.



We enjoyed all our usual activities:  puzzling




Yard games,



Cooking, baking and grilling—followed by overeating.




We took a little trip to Tana’s college town,



the same college their parents met at, and the same college that honors their grandfather–their mother’s father.




We swam in our backyard redneck pool,


and in our neighbor’s real-deal pool.


A fireworks display was offered courtesy of my son and a friend,



followed by Tana’s karaoke rendition of Kansas’s own Martina McBride singing “Independence Day” the morning after Independence Day.  The flyswatter was handy for obvious reasons, so it became her microphone.  She’s always good at improvising when the circumstances may not be perfect.  Her voice is that of another talented Kansas wheat farm girl.



Being the swheat girls they are, they took a trip to their family farm to enjoy the harvest.




As a joke, I offered this garage sale find to Amy; she wasted no time putting it to use.  She says it’s the greatest treasure I have ever given her, and she plans to hand it down to her children as a family heirloom one day.  I planned to use it in an art project, but clearly, it belongs with her. 


Proof she is truly a swheat girl

This year, we added yoga to the mix.  They, too, enjoy a good yoga workout, and since my teacher lives just down the road, she agreed to come over on the morning of the Fourth for some porch yoga.  She led us from the corner of the porch; the rest of the yoga-goers wrapped around the back porch. 




If a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, then these pictures should be worth many thousands of words, so I won’t write much more.  They tell the stories of the fun and laughter we shared last week.  Hopefully, I have made it quite clear that we felt free to exercise our independence this week, and throughout the other fifty-one as well. 

Tana and Amy have been constants for each other; they have no other siblings.  Through births and deaths, divorces and disappointments, they are sisters through thin and thick.   They know liberty because they earned it, and they honor it as the gift it is every day, not just on Independence Day.

I hope you find that well of liberty within, because it is a gift to be opened for each and every one of us, every day of the year.

Have fun, and laugh while you are doing it.  It truly is the best medicine.








I know how fortunate I am to have my two sisters as my best friends.  We have always been close, and with the passage of time and the lessons of loss, we continue to grow closer. 

I can’t imagine it any other way.

We didn’t have a choice; no sisters do.  We were born into the same family, brought up together and expected to get along. 

And we did.

We became even closer when we left home to make our way in the world.  When Gail left for college, I finally got our room to myself—until Suzanne moved in not much later.  It wasn’t always harmonious in that small space, and I have more stories from that time for another day. 

Gail, meanwhile, was making new friends in college—no surprise there.  She attended a junior college 30 miles from where she now lives, the same junior college her daughter now attends. 

I remember her bringing some of these friends home, and I remember thinking they were pretty cool.  They were, of course.  I have the pleasure of seeing another one of them in one of my work settings; she is a nurse in the small hospital I contract with.  She never came to our house, but nonetheless, she is cool.  Her name is Katy–Katy #1.

There was another friend named Katy–Katy #2.  They were roommates, and this Katy did come home with Gail.  They stayed close during college, and as time wore on, families, work and other obligations kept them from staying as close as they once were.  They last saw each other in 1980. 

Three years later, Gail named her firstborn Katy. 

Infrequent contact was the pattern for many years, but with the advent of Facebook, they were able to reconnect online.  This was a gift for both of them.

Last week, Katy #2 called Gail to let her know she would be passing through her small town Friday, traveling from her home in Missouri.  Just like the cliché would have it, it was as if no time had passed, even after 39 years.  They enjoyed the evening together, and Katy was off the next morning.  Gail and her family were off too, on their annual trek to Michigan to see her second-born. 

Except that they had so much fun, she forgot to take a picture of the reunion.  Otherwise, it would be featured here.


One week ago tonight, Suzanne traveled an hour to see a college roommate of hers.  They have kept in close touch, and when it was time to memorialize her mother, Suzanne was there, just like her friend was when it was our parents’ funeral.


On Friday of this week, I was scheduled to go to Wichita to gather with three of my college roommates.  It had been way too long, and longer than a year since we vowed to get together to pay tribute to Tracy’s dear mother, who passed away in June 2018.


I didn’t go.  Hours before the departure time, the plans changed.  I was disappointed at first, but then, as fate would have it, greater things happened to one of the other three, surprise celebratory things that were more urgent than our gathering.  We rescheduled for two weeks later.  Our plans could wait; hers couldn’t.


It has been several years since the four of us got together, which is way too long.


There are no substitutes for college friends, friends who were with us in a formative, challenging and memorable time in our lives.  Gail, Suzanne and I are lucky to have them in our lives still, and for all three of us, this was the week to celebrate them—or at least make a plan to. 

I hope that if you have old friends from college or from long ago, you have kept in touch with them.  If you have been wanting to connect again, now would be a great time do to just that.  I hope that if something were to happen to them, you would be at peace with the way you left your relationship.   In reflecting on this myself, I don’t know if any of us can ever feel we did enough.  We all lead splintered lives; we all have other priorities.   We simply need to make the time to spend time. 

Easier said than done, but continuing to try is the key.


I remember that many of Gail’s friends used the same word to describe her:  “crazy.”  It was always used fondly.  She was crazy in the sense that she always loved a good time.

I remember that my Jewish neighbor-turned-friend in Philadelphia used to call me “meshugana.”   In her colorful Yiddish language, it means “crazy girl.  I took it as a compliment.  She meant it as one.

This week, I am hosting my Arizona friends from long ago.  Not college friends, but the friends who come every Independence Day week to visit.  They were the young girls I babysat on their father’s farm near mine in the summers starting the summer before college in 1984—35 years ago.  We have remained close, and now they bring their children and husbands—whoever can make it.  This year it is three girls and one husband.  While I used to be in charge of them, we are now peers in every way.   They have known me longer than my husband has; longer than my college friends have.  They know me too well.  They see through me; I can’t hide much.  They also bring out things I didn’t know I could do—good things like finding the stamina to stay up later to get the most out of every evening,  as well as things I didn’t think I could ever do, like get the tattoo they talked me into getting with them several years ago.    Then we all got another one the next year. 

They, too, are crazy girls.  Crazy in a very good way.


We will spend the week together, and I will bring you the third installment in a blog post of the annual visit from the swheat girls.  Crazy, and sweet.  I am so glad they chose to keep me as a friend.


It has been said that friends are the family we choose.  I couldn’t have chosen better family if I could have hand-picked my sisters, and I am so thankful I chose the college roommates I did.  I know Gail and Suzanne are grateful for theirs, too. 

Give your college/old friend a call.  Better yet, make a visit.


Enjoy your sweet freedom this Independence Day, and every day.