Posts Tagged 'Letitia Suk'

Splendid Summer: Make it Count*

Spring 2013 001

My husband commented last evening as we sat outside in the lovely dusk, “We’ve waited all year for this.” I don’t want it to slip away, do you? I didn’t think so.

I’m inviting myself to spend at least a short time each day of these 99 days of summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day) to engage in something that can only be done in the summer. Want to join me?

Some of my favorite summer activities easily fit around a work day like taking my basket of books Books for a Summer Morning outside in the morning instead of staying in my living room chair, enjoying dinner on the patio table instead of the dining room one, reading outside at lunch time, taking a short walk outside after sunset instead of hanging around the computer. Do any of those work for you?

Summer Breakfast

I hope to get some splashier summer events in like outdoor music, movies in the park, an afternoon at the beach, long bike ride (Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Summer) but this summer I’m focusing on the daily delights of my favorite season.

Taking a hike!

As a reminder, I will daily post on Facebook which day of summer it is…

Today is 4.

Make it Count.

Hope for the best,


*Popular repost

Farewell My Husband’s Mother

A lovely but unassuming woman, my beloved mother-in-law, Geri, was the most saint-like person I have ever known. She would be so embarrassed to hear me say that and quickly deny but it was true 😊 I think her nine children would agree, I know the one I live with does.

To the envy of all my girlfriends, she always greeted me with something along the lines of how great I looked and later on, how adorable my kids were. Both were not always true. Yet I don’t recall a negative comment about anyone and certainly no unasked-for advice offered. I can only hope to come somewhat close to that standard with my in-law kids.

Even when her memory and eventually her conversational voice left her, she would pop out a smile or a look in her eyes that conveyed, “I’m still in here and I love you.” And I’m sure she still prayed for each of her over fifty descendants across multiple generations. Praying isn’t disrupted by memory loss.

I could tell 100 stories but her last day was quite significant.

On that day in December, the meteorological darkest day of the year, we sat vigil with her with along with other family members. One by one the staff of her facility came to say goodbye. Each one took time to tell us how much they enjoyed taking care of her and how kind she was.

The startling part of this is that none of them had never known her “well” and most of them had never heard her speak. In a way that can only be explained in spiritual terms, Geri had connected with them on a heart level and reached in and touched their lives. Quite consistent with the how she lived.

Beautiful younger Geri

We sat and watched, amazed but not surprised.. On the last day of her life, she finished the tutorial on how to live and how to love that started the first time I met her some 46 years ago.

Geri’s favorite times were the occasions when all her children were together so it seemed fitting to wait until the whole clan could gather to say a final goodbye. With such a far-flung gang, that took some planning.

This Saturday is the day.

Stories told and tears shed will fill the moments but knowing this crowd, lots of love and laughing will spill over all day as well. This family knows how to throw a party.

We’ll end the memorial at the tiny Czech country cemetery History of the cemetery where Geri’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, siblings, husband are also laid to rest. Indeed a holy place.

Family Cemetery

Raise your glass to Geri and join those of us who knew and loved her in celebrating a woman who extraordinarily shaped us all.

Hope for the best,





“A Mess of Mushrooms.”

Do these look familiar? Just seeing the box brought up so many memories of chilly early mornings in May, traipsing out in the country with my dad looking for these elusive gems: morel mushrooms. I looked forward to it all year.

Mushroom hunting was a top-secret venture in Quincy. You took no one with you and told no one where you were going. Neighbors would talk about bring home a “mess of mushrooms” but I knew better than to inquire where they found them. It was impolite even to ask.

So, I was thrilled to find this box at our local Farmer’s Market last Saturday. Tom’s Czech grandma lived in Cicero which has an annual 3 day festival and parade to honor the lowly Houby (mushroom in Czech.) He was definitely in for the purchase.

On the way to the stand, Tom and I wondered how high the price would be and decided how much we were willing to spend, $10.

“$50 a pound” the guy pronounced. I have never purchased any food item for anything close to that price.

“But you can just buy a few if you wish” he offered. I pulled out my $10 and he put three in the bag, 3!

The adventure was on!

Cut in half and soaking.

We came home and watched five you-tube videos on how to prepare them. Didn’t want to risk ruining any sliver of the golden fungi. Good thing we did as Tom was ready to sample a tiny bite raw. “Eating them raw will send you to the hospital.” An important fact to keep in mind.

Tom started the soaking process, crucial for eliminating bugs. The videos had different opinions for how long this was to go on. Salt or no salt? Hot or cold water? Each one offered a different method.

Then the choice of: flour/egg/dry/lard/butter/oil. Each recipe had variations. Cooking our three morels was getting so complicated.

Options for coating the gems.

Houby master at work.

“Cook for one minute on each side” said one script. “Cook for seven minutes on each side” announced another. Keeping the threat of the hospital in mind, we decided to go with more like five.

Sizzlin’ in the skillet


Finally they were done. I decided to try to get as many minuscule bites out of my 1.5 as I could. Still didn’t take long to wipe them out.

A tad crispy!

Not quite like I remember from back in the day but the same could be said for a lot of things. Of course, we didn’t just buy the mushrooms but the culinary experience and certainly the nostalgia. I don’t think I’ll find another patch under an old tree like before so this will have to be it.

What food item would you pay $50 a pound for?

Hope for the best,


7 Questions to Ask Yourself this Mother’s Day*

1386612_mom_and_kidIt’s lovely when your kids present you with homemade cards and breakfast in bed on Mother’s day.  But before you clean up the mess they made in the kitchen, take some time away from the kids and the clutter. Take a bath, go for a walk, or relax in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea, and allow yourself to reflect on this life-altering adventure of being a mom.

The days can so easily blend one into the next.  We seldom take a good look at where we’ve been and where we’re going.  Here are some questions to ask yourself during a peaceful time away from the rest of the family.

  1. What do I enjoy most about being a mom?  Can you remember a time with the kids when everyone was having a good time, and you felt content and competent?  How did you feel in your heart then? How can you get that feeling more often?
  1. What do I want my kids to remember about their childhood?  Maybe it’s the times you laugh together, the games you play, or the bedtime prayers you say together.  It could be the spontaneous events or your family rituals.  How can you make sure to have these moments as your children grow older?
  1. What do my kids really need from me in this stage of their lives?  Do you need to listen more and talk less? Be more available? Relax some rules?  Spend more time one-on –one? What worked in one stage may need to be adjusted for the next.  What are your children’s evolving needs?
  1. Am I taking good care of myself?  Mothers are very good at avoiding this question.  After you’ve met the needs of your kids, partner, home, work, and other commitments, there is little time and energy left for yourself.  But it’s important to make the time to do something just for you.  When you take care of yourself, you have more time to give to others.
  1. Am I satisfied with the balance of my family, work and personal time? The perfect balance isn’t equal time-it’s a sense that you are living according to your priorities.  This, too, changes over time.  Like a see-saw it is always in motion but shouldn’t crash down to one side or the other.
  1. Which friends would I like to spend more time with?  What new people would I like to get to know? Take time to invest in relationships outside your immediate family and in your community.
  1. What else is my heart saying to me? Can you see all the things you doing right as a mother? Are you recognizing how much your kids love you? Are you able to take a step back and realize how wonderful it is to be a mom?

Consider sharing your reflections with your husband or a close friend.  Or write them down in a journal so you can come back to them later.  The process of reflection renews and restores us-something most moms really need.

Me and My Mom

Hope for the best,


  • Perennial post.

Set the Table

My dining room table ready for women’s group.

My Mom used to have this “trick”: Five minutes before my dad was due to come home from work (you could set your watch by his arrival, it was so predictable,) she would quickly set the table for dinner and put empty pans on the stove.

“You need to give the impression dinner is on the way.” Was her explanation. Sure enough, it worked. Dad seemed satisfied by the hope of dinner and one task was already done.

I still use the same principle. Not to “trick” Tom or anyone else but to still announce, Something good is on the way!

There is something about a table set to serve that wakes up more than appetite. A feeling of invitation, welcome, careful preparation, and honor are some of the things I feel when I see a table set for me.

What is your response to seeing a table set for you?

Table on the island.

A breakfast table can have the same effect.

Come and get it!

Or an outdoor one.

Feast in New Mexico with my son and daughter-in-law.

Somehow, once again, it’s the little props, the candle, type of napkins, the choice of color, arrangement of plates that paint the picture. Nothing costly or elaborate, just a bit of forethought to elevate eating to dining.

Feed your spirit as well as your body. Set the table, for your family, your friends, yourself.

Bon Appetit!

Hope for the best,


The Sunday Drive

Does anyone remember Sunday drives?

Back in my kid-hood, everyone knew that Sundays were not for chores but for church and for big dinners with extended family followed by “Sunday drives.”

My brothers and I have fond memories of driving to such exciting activities such as watching cows get milked at the local country dairy. They always gave the “viewers” little bottles of chocolate milk, very enticing.

Other drives included visiting the closest state park, Siloam Springs, or even driving to our local dam. That took about five minutes so we usually added ice cream to that Sunday outing.  Once a year we would pack up my mom’s fried chicken and coleslaw and meet all the other relatives and their picnic baskets in historic Nauvoo, Illinois, about an hour’s drive from home.

I never noticed when we stopped doing them, maybe my parents never did.

Last Sunday, I piled my 90 year old mom and her walker into her blue Buick and told her we were taking a Sunday drive before I had to catch to train home.  Plan A had fallen through and I was making up Plan B on the spot. You know how that goes.

I drove out of her assisted living facility where she has been since her stroke last summer heading no place in particular. Only on a Sunday drive can you get away with that.

Little Illinois town

It doesn’t take long to get out to the country from Quincy. The day was sunny and warm and I just kept driving. We passed through about four little towns and noticed signs for about a half a dozen others. Not much was going on anywhere. At one intersection, we passed a sign to West Point and it wasn’t talking about the military academy.

“Aunt Sadie is buried there” my mom informed me. A great-aunt I never met and knew little about but in this season of family story-telling, I longed to drive down that road and find that graveyard. I didn’t.

She dozed most of the way back from nowhere in particular, just a Sunday drive.

I didn’t want the drive to end and still had a little time. “Do you want to get some ice cream, mom?” I asked. She nodded so we headed there next and mostly just enjoyed the treat without much conversation.

Coming to take me home.

I was back on the train within the hour but the memory of the Sunday drive is still so strong. Nostalgia, slo-mo pace, the beauty of the day, but mostly my mom sitting next to me, frail but present.

Next time maybe I’ll pick up some fried chicken to bring along.

Hope for the best,


Found! A long-lost friend.

Kathy and I when we were toddlers with her Mom. I’m the “older” girl 🙂

Our mothers were nursing school friends and that meant Kathy and I were friends too as they, of course, arranged our social schedules. Little girls don’t pick up the phone and arrange play dates.

I have a few memories of times together then her family left Quincy for sunny Arizona for a better climate for her dad’s health. At six years old, we too young to write letters and besides, busy making new friends.

Later, Kathy wrote notes to my mom who was her godmother.  and called a couple of times a year too. My mom would always fill me in on what she was doing but she and I still had no communication.  Apparently, her family visited in 1965, but I was too caught up in my early adolescence and the Beach Boys to remember.

A few years back, I took my mother to visit Kathy’s mom in Arizona where they had a wonderful reunion. Friends for the 70 year journey  Mom told me she told Kathy all about it in one of their phone calls. I was happy they were still in touch.

Then my mom had a stroke on the 4th of July last year. Not life-threatening but definitely life-changing.

Once we settled into the “new normal,” I thought of Kathy from time to time and knew she would wonder why she wasn’t hearing from my mom. I would have contacted her but had no idea where she lived, just “out west” somewhere. Not a great starting point.

As Christmas grew closer, so did my urgency to locate Kathy. Then the most amazing thing happened…

My daughters and I visited Quincy a couple of days after Christmas and as I walked into mom’s house, where she no longer lives, I mindlessly pulled open her mailbox. Not a big deal, right, but after the July stroke, her mail no longer came to this address. Ever. The mailbox was always empty.

Until today.

The mail carrier made a stop that day to my mom’s mailbox to deliver a Christmas card from Kathy with her Utah address prominently displayed. I did a happy dance on the porch and told my girls the story.

After the holidays, I wrote her and she promptly responded. Our adult relationship was taking seed from the vestiges of the past, we had a lot to catch up on. I never dreamed we would meet again.

We did.

In March, we realized I was flying out of Phoenix and Kathy was flying into Phoenix the same day. Five hours separated our flights but we both knew we had to make this happen now or never.

We texted each other selfies for recognition. She waited a few hours at the airport, I arrived a couple of hours early.

After our hugs, our lovely reunion lunch lasted hours. I finally had to pull away to catch my plane. A most delicious time in every aspect.

Old friends reunited at the Phoenix airport!

What are the odds of a longing, a letter and a lunch coming together in three months after sixty years of no contact?  This story will show up in the book I hope to write about how God showed up and amazed me, time after time.

Kathy and I still write letters, and email and text and have a way to go in piecing together the missing years of our friendship but we’re having a great time filling in the blanks.

Missing an old friend? Keep your eyes open, anything can happen!

Hope for the best,





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