Saturday, November 28, 2009

I love, love this group around our table! Our son,Shea, his Kim and baby Lena were sorely missed and we're praying for a safe journey as they travel back home again from their visit to Kim's family ... We didn't make it "home" this year to be with the extended family - but our thoughts were with them just the same.

God Bless you all -- I hope your day was a happy, love-filled one!

I wrote this poem years ago - but it's where my mind and my heart go every year without fail ...


We make our journey home
each year to pick clean
the Thanksgiving turkey
and rattle family bones.

We know our roles
play them well,
regress or stretch and swell to fit
our place at table,
our spot in photographs,
our corner.

I wander about the overflowing house
to an empty room and a seat by the window.
Voices fade, the moment surreal,
I strain to see and feel
the ghosts that swirl among
the bronzed leaves of autumns past.

They're all here.
They come to me, chilled
I will them to stay
warm themselves by the fire
that burns in the heart of a family.

Copyright ©2000 Susan M. Kennedy

He also liked the peas ... the mashed potoes -- NOT so much! ;-)

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My mother's dressing and applesauce cake recipies on one page - my mother-in-law's Asparagus Casserole on the other ... I watched tv as I cooked and baked into the wee hours - but as I recall, back when my mom was preparing Thanksgiving dinner for the hoards tv programming ended for the night at around 11:00 p.m. - with the National Anthem, the Lord's Prayer and a stern voice saying, "The time is now 11:00 o'clock p.m.; do you know where YOUR children are?"

Just got me thinkin' ....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You Veterans ...

They shall grow not old
As we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them
Nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun.
And in the morning
We shall remember them.

~ By Laurence Binyon ~

Yesterday was the Marine Corps Birthday & 7 yr old Zachary had to try on Grandpa's gear and see his dress whites ... one more time! He plans to be a Marine Officer like Grandpa when he grows into this hat.

This is dedicated to Zachary's Grandpa, NavyMan Papa Baker, to cousin Gary killed in Iraq and to all the Veterans of this great nation. Thank you.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Autumn on Fire

Autumn on Fire, originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

Autumn on Fire
Best to view full screen ...

I always get so sentimental at this - my favorite - time of year. Enjoy this "fireworks" show to Dr. John's mellow "In A Sentimental Mood" ... :-)

I think my neighbors are finally getting used to seeing me pressed up against their back fence with my camera pointed up into the overhanging branches of their beautiful trees! Bless 'em! ;-)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Why I've Been Away So Long ...

:-) A new grandheart makes six for us now!

She's beautiful and sweet and we're all in love. She was "scheduled" for caesarian arrival on Oct. 27th, but it seems our lovely Lena is a woman with a mind of her own; she took us by surprise and decided the 22nd would be her birthday! We're just tickled pink that she's here with us! Both Lena and Mom are fantastic ... more pics later (duh!) ;-)

So .... please forgive me for not visiting you all in a while! I'll be back up to speed again soon ... see you then! Hope you're enjoying the beautiful autumn!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Day in the Sun ...

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We had an unexpected window of opportunity open up for a short and impromptu visit to my Mom. Finally, we introduced Lukas to his Louisiana family - just before he was six months old!

A single day of sun between many days of rain - how lucky to be with family that I don't see often enough -- in this special place -- and on a walk with their four dogs, a goose and a duck!
My brother has my dream place ... out in the country with a pond, pine trees, lots of critters and foliage and sunsets - photo ops everywhere you look without leaving your own back yard!
Here my sis-in-law is examining the Imperial Moth caterpillar that we found ... (more on that later!)

This is my sis-in-law's neighbor - her brother. Her other neighbor? Her other brother!

Callie, my beautiful niece, introduces "Duck" to Shannon and Zachary.

Meet Sydney - the cutest miniature English Bulldog ever ... and most unusual for a bulldog - she loves the water - just look at that grin!

Duck and Goose are constant companions ...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Farewell Sweet Summer

Farewell Sweet Summer, originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

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The last of summer's wildflowers ...

Warm Summer Sun
by Mark Twain

Warm summer sun,
Shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind,
Blow softly here.
Green sod above,
Lie light, lie light.
Good night, dear heart,
Good night, good night.

Traveling along the contours of leaves that have no name ...

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I finally made it to "my pond" ... spent several hours lost in the world of leaves, birdcalls, spiderwebs, lily pads & dragonflies. As I made my way around the huge territory I left bits of myself - a little angst stomped into the mud at the edge of the pond ... a few hopes and dreams sent drifting across the water. I sent prayers and worries scampering high up into the trees I love so much, washed my hands of disappointment and anger in the quickly moving creek - sent it dashing among the rocks and far away.

Finally it was time to head for home ... and I was amazed at how much lighter I felt without the load I carried when I arrived ... truly I am living at the edge of a new leaf.

The Shapes of Leaves
by Arthur Sze

Ginkgo, cottonwood, pin oak, sweet gum, tulip tree:
our emotions resemble leaves and alive
to their shapes we are nourished.

Have you felt the expanse and contours of grief
along the edges of a big Norway maple?
Have you winced at the orange flare

searing the curves of a curling dogwood?
I have seen from the air logged islands,
each with a network of branching gravel roads,

and felt a moment of pure anger, aspen gold.
I have seen sandhill cranes moving in an open field,
a single white whooping crane in the flock.

And I have traveled along the contours
of leaves that have no name. Here
where the air is wet and the light is cool,

I feel what others are thinking and do not speak,
I know pleasure in the veins of a sugar maple,
I am living at the edge of a new leaf.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009



Here I sit, reaching deep into far quarters
for words to bring you something different,
but at the same time recognizable-
a welcome reason to the indeterminate ...
something more than a tossed about phrase
that insists to you
the welcome prettiness
of starlings on snow.

© 2008 by Susan M. Kennedy. All Rights Reserved.

So much "stuff" swirling about at the moment. I wish I could clone about 10 me's so that each area of my life could receive proper attention. I'm seriously craving some creative space ... !!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Instructions for living a life:

... " 4.

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

~ from Mary Oliver's "Sometimes" - found in "Red Bird".

40+ years ago I lost touch with my Best Friend in the entire world. Both being military wives we'd made numerous moves across country - both of our fathers had passed away and our mothers each had new married names ... so conventional searching methods were fruitless. About a month ago I was thrilled to finally find my friend - and especially so to find that she was less than two hours away from where I live!

After several weeks of daily writing/chats we finally met again last weekend - and it was as if not a single day had passed between us. :-) We've written an article together about our experience and whether or not we have success in publication ... it was fun and rewarding to collaborate with my friend. Rest assured - we will NEVER lose touch again! :-)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Jewel, originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

.... of a moment. View Large On Black

One that makes you gasp and wonder ... and believe. I've had so many of those personal "jewel" moments over the last couple of weeks. From an extreme euphoric and personal high - to a blinking back tears sad - to a gut-wrenching fear-for-those- you- love.

Translation: I've found my Best Friend after 40 years of searching .... and she's not far away! We're writing an article together and preparing to meet ...

A Flickr friend that I love is in trouble ... what to do? Something... something... working on it ...

A horrible traffic accident ... a step-niece ... she's lying in a hospital close to me ... all I know so far is seven hours of surgery and then ...?

Add to the emotional mix four days of strep - fevers and hacking and pills and sneezing, soup and tissues and ... yuk. Today has been the turning point and I think I'm back from the dead.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Flower Song

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I watched the waterfall.
Listened --
to the water
I saw the bright hibiscus,
the tiger lily
just beyond --
and heard their song.

Susan M. Kennedy

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At the Arboretum last week, one of the features that had me mesmerized was a contemporary styled waterfall ... very elegant and simple. The water fell from two stories high in sheets behind which were beautiful plantings to glimpse beyond and through ...

I mean seriously ... when you think of all the natural elements that conspired to create this amazing visual symphony - water - reflecting the sky and the sun, shimmering in front of flowers and ferns, kissed by the wind ... ???

Mary Oliver said it much better than I ever could - what I was feeling and thinking ... as I listened. I have a feeling that had I been able to stay, I would be one of those listening still.

There Is a Place Beyond Ambition

When the flute players
couldn't think of what to say next

they laid down their pipes,
then they lay down themselves
beside the river

and just listened.
Some of them, after a while,
jumped up
and disappeared back inside the busy town.
But the rest --
so quiet, not even thoughtful --
are still there,

still listening.

~ by Mary Oliver, from "Red Bird"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Koi and Children ... Poetry in Motion

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The koi pond at the arboretum was one of the most popular stops for the kids - and one of the last. It was such a delight to see their hot, wilted little bodies become suddenly animated and refreshed ... The koi put on a pretty show for them - leaping over one another for the dragonflies who dared to come too close, slapping tails against the water and chasing minnows that we could see just beneath the surface....

They took in every iota - and I heard questions and comments about their colors, the designs on their backs, their funny eyes and mouths, how they moved. I watched a 9yo neighbor boy we'd brought along lie on his tummy on the rocks, chin in hand and heard him whisper "You're so pretty ... I wish you could be free ..."

excerpt from "Koi"
~ by John Burnside~

All afternoon we've wandered from the pool
to alpine beds and roses
and the freshly
palm house
all afternoon
we've come back to this shoal
of living fish.
Crimson and black
or touched with gold
the koi hang in a world of their invention
with nothing that feels like home - a
concrete pool
and unfamiliar plants spotted with light
birdsong and traffic
pollen and motes of
and every time the veil above their heads shivers into noise
they dart
and scatter
though it seems more ritual now
than lifelike fear
as if they understood
in principle
but could not wholly grasp
the vividness of loss

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Dallas Arboretum Tradition - 2009 Highlights!

Visiting the Dallas Arboretum has become a tradition for the women and children of our family. The last couple of years my daughters have given me a season's pass for birthday or Mother's Day - and I love it - wish I could go more often! This year they had something special ... fourteen juried playhouses based on storybooks and they are awesome, interactive art structures. If you're in the area I highly recommend it!

This was probably
the biggest hit:

Peter Pan's Jolly Roger

Here we have:

Alice in Wonderland, The Teremok, The Owl & the Pussycat and Hansel & Gretel.

The heat and humidity were excruciating - so we took a break for waterplay at the Frog Fountains ... always a huge favorite!
Then time for a picnic in the shade of glorious pecan trees - filled with nut-throwing squirrels and bees a-plenty!

After a little rest we were ready for more:

Treasure Island, City Green, Thumblina, The Little Prince and James & the Giant Peach

Of course, in between were stunning flowers (hibiscus as big as dinner plates!) trees, fountains - the photo ops are outrageous here - but this visit was mainly to enjoy the kids. (I'll go again soon, believe me, because I really missed the Women's Garden, the Fern Dell, the Reflecting Pools, etc!)

While I was standing among the giant hibiscus I heard Trey yelling for me - beside himself with excitement ... seems he had discovered the koi ponds! He grabbed my hand and pulled me (he's faster than me!) to the water's edge and looked so deeply I just knew he was about to fall in ... :-) All the kids loved the beautiful koi and turtles and they did put on a nice show for them - leaping and splashing in all their glorious color!

The day was coming to a close - energy was flagging in bodies tall and small and we snapped a few more memory shots and headed for home ... :-)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A big day for firsts - Applesauce and the Arboretum....


What a trooper ... braved excruciating heat and humidity for nature and the arts. Thing is - we're all weak little worn out puddles from the day .... and he's still going strong - bouncing like Tigger at the moment in his jumper!!
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Graced with the ordinary ...

Graced with the ordinary ..., originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

" ... Let the world
have its way with you,
luminous as it is

with mystery
and pain--
graced as it is
with the ordinary."

~ by Mary Oliver, excerpt "Summer Morning" from "Red Bird"

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Oh, this weekend was a working weekend entirely ... we've had so much rain that the yardwork was overwhelming. I normally love yardwork ... or I guess in comparison to yesterday I suppose I should correct that to "I love to yard "putter".

The grass was tall and thick - the weeds were about to take us over - and there was lots of trimming and deadheading to be done. We also had to put the swing back together after the storms' strong winds blew it apart. The canopy is ripped - but I have a crafty plan for repairing it (hope it works!)

Buddy and I were creaking and groaning in unison ... and reaching for the Tylenol! When we finally put all the tools away and came inside we blinked in surprise at the time and thought "dinner?" Did I mention the wonderful little hamburger place around the corner - that delivers!!? ;-)

But the yard looks lovely again - had my morning coffee on the patio listening to the happy gurgling fountain and watching the birds and enjoying the roses. Then a few minutes later Lukas joined me for his morning cereal - and I listened to the gurgling of a happy baby and watched his tiny little rosebud mouth stretch up and open like a little bird's - eager for his breakfast! ;-)

Truly - there is luminous life in the ordinary.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

At the Kimball

At the Kimball, originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

Zach and friend, Donavan, at the Kimball Art Museum today.

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Phillip Haas Film Installations at the Kimble Art Musuem

This was one of my favorites of the Philip Haas Film Installations (from Apollo and the Continents). You simply have to "experience" this to understand the profound effect it has! Each wall - as well as the ceiling (one wall as seen here is mirror) is larger than life murals - with a catch... the murals are alive - they blink, turn their heads slightly - so you actually feel as though you are the unwitting observers of "the Gods" as they go about their lives - as if they may see you at any moment. To see more (and better) images and for more info check out this link!

Here is the blurb from the Kimble promo pamphlet:

Commissioned by the Kimbell, Philip Haas’s film installations interpret and elaborate upon selected works in the Museum’s permanent collection. Though based on deep research into the original artists and cultures, Haas’s films are poetic and sensuous in approach rather than factual like a documentary. Between seven and twenty minutes in length and running continuously, they are projected on screens of various unconventional formats and configurations. All are accompanied by original music, and several appear in elaborate architectural and sculptural sets, further immersing the viewer in the experience.

This one, from Arhat Taming the Dragon was so beautiful - the colors and textures so rich they just reach into you! I wish I had captured some of the more vivid colors on the screen ...

"Skeletons Warming Themselves" was powerful and startling ... so eerie ... like stepping into an all-too-real nightmare. We didn't stay long for that one because of the little guys (too intense) didn't get pics but I would have if on my own. In this one you see the same image from four perspectives at once (on each wall around you). The richness was mindboggling!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009



Invitation, originally uploaded by Sparky2*.

This little fellow was peering in my kitchen window as though inviting me to come out into the day ... :-) Just when I'm feeling most "blah" or my mind is set on "overdrive" and my body on "mechanical" God sends something my way.

I had just been to Barnes & Noble last week and picked up a Mary Oliver book to send to a friend in China -
(and came out with a copy of Red Bird for myself as well, doncha know?) ;-)

- so this poem was still percolating at the back of my mind and when I saw the little face and bright eyes ... heard the chipping song ... it all came together ...


Oh, do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude --
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in this broken world.
I beg of you,

Do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

~~ Mary Oliver, from "Red Bird"

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I feel fine about this!!

... and I feel fine about this!!
Woohoo!! I"m happy and proud to be included in this amazing new book - my image (a self portrait) and quote will be one of many in this important social work. Below are a few excerpts from the final email I recieved ...

"Dear Susan,

I realize it has been some time since you last heard from us; we have been very busy finalizing the We Feel Fine book and have some great news to share with you. Your image (below) has been selected to appear in the published edition. Thank you so much for your contribution and congratulations!

My name is Sep Kamvar and I am one of the co-authors of the book (Jonathan Harris, whom I have cc'd here, is the other co-author). I wanted to take this time to give you some more information about the book, and also let you know about next steps. Please make sure to read the Next Steps section of this e-mail because there still might be some things that we need from you."

... (detail info) ..

"So, here we go...


The book, titled
We Feel Fine: an Almanac of Human Emotion, is currently scheduled to be released on December 1st. Our publisher is Scribner, which is a division of Simon & Schuster.

I've attached the book cover as well as the page where your photo appears. We are very pleased with how your photo fits into the book and hope that you agree. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.""

This is the image that will be used ...

It's a self-portrait that I did to accompany a post in Flickr here when I was "tagged" for one of those "getting to know you" games (list 16 things about you that most people don't know".)

The quote they will use with it was,
"I'm 56, but in my head and my heart I feel 32 ..."

Isn't that fun?!

No, I don't get paid, but it is fun to be a blip in a book that is being talked about as "the conversation book of the century"! I'll be listed as "a contributor" - complete with headshot, home town and blog info. And of course, I was invited to the publishing party, etc. (if I happen to be in New York at the time.) Ha!

It's a such an interesting project, these tiny life stories/works of art - and I just saw the most amazing talk by Jonathan Harris (one of the authors)
which includes this project and others ... wow! I highly recommend it - fascinating to say the least!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

On Saturday we made a family trip to Firewheel Mall ...

a wonderfully, quaint "outdoor" mall designed around the concept of the old style "town square". They have fountains, a "creek",
a playground, shaded patio style dining tables and beautiful plantings everywhere. I think I'm actually "allergic" to indoor malls. I'm not what you'd call a shopper ... I almost always have a specific place and purpose in mind and detest having to waste time and energy slogging the length of twelve football fields to get to it! When I can simply park in front of the specific store and get my business done I'm a happy camper - especially if that leaves me enough time to stroll around lovely grounds and window shop at my leisure.

This trip included both daughters, the five little ones, the Budman and me ... and the first stop was a "visit" to their friends at Build-A-Bear. There was hilarity at every turn it seemed, especially as most of the accessories tested were found to be Luke-sized!

Then we stopped at a visiting vendor station - Incan Indians playing the most wonderful music from their handcrafted instruments - lovely flutes and other wind instruments of all styles and other beautiful instruments and jewelry as well.


Each kid was allowed to choose one little something special.
Wise choices ...

Kenzie chose the lovely shell necklace (looks so beautiful on her!) Trey selected a wooden flute and Zachary the clay flute (ocarina) on a leather strap. Madison preferred to choose something later from Sweet & Sassy (such a girlie-girl!)

I took pics of the artists (Inka Wayra) as they played which pleased them and I think they'll be happy with the photos that I'm emailing to them.

Inka Wayra at Firewheel Market

The "mall police" however, weren't too happy with my photo-taking! One little lady on a Seguay scooter came over - said that she was sent by management to check me out and inform me that photos weren't allowed except for family - absolutely NONE of the architecture. I showed her a bit of what was on my cam (family, flowers and the vendors - with their prior permission) and she reluctantly agreed to let me continue ... but I had the feeling she had her eye on me!! ;-)

The kids couldn't stay away from the rocky creek area for long and soon we found ourselves there -

They splashed and climbed and we got some great impromptu family shots and some fun candids to remember the day.

Family at Firewheel

By then everyone was ready for a treat so the next stop was the Nestle's Tollhouse Cookie Shop which has awesome icecreams as well.

I opted for a cherry slushy - perfect for a hot day - the first I've had in ages ( I'm craving one again right now)!

The guys in the party were ready to head for home, but we made one more stop for the girls - the Sweet n' Sassy Shop - for only the girliest of girls, I tell ya ... fun!

When some folks talk of "going to the mall" - it's to shop. We, however, came away with most of our money still in our pockets - and richer still for the photos and memories of family fun.

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