Gratitude and Crap

[This post has been edited on 04/10/19]

This is a season of gratitude and crap.

Gratitude because our hockey team, the Nashville Predators just won the Division Championship.

Crap because our hockey team, blah-blah-blah, just won the Division Championship and now we’re in the playoffs.

Gratitude because we’re in the playoffs.

Crap because we’re in the playoffs which reminds me of our son going to playoff games with us in 2017 and celebrating his favorite player, Victor Arviddson. Chris had also started acting odd. Odd like getting lost, leaving games early, not showing up on time to go to games and other abnormal behaviors like losing jobs.

The playoff year of 2018 was worse. In January Chris was diagnosed with a very rare brain disease:  adult onset leukodystophy with axonal spheroids and pigmented glia.

Gratitude for 911, EMS, ER’s, PhD’s, MD’s, RN’s, LPN’s, PT’s, Family, Friends, Neighbors, Strangers and God’s presence entwined in our Hell.

Crap because they were all needed.

Gratitude for the diversion in the spring of 2018 when the Predators got into the playoffs again. Chris stayed home with Gretchen and the home caregiver that would come while we were at the games. He needed help eating and walking, but he sat and watched the Predators with his sister and his caregiver – falling asleep many times in the recliner.

I’m coming to the conclusion that everything in our personal lives, focuses on our children. No matter how old they get, they’re still our children. I’d gotten to the age where I would joke that our kids, Chris and Gretchen, were now older than me. Terry has always been an old soul. Me, not so much, although I feel like my soul has aged decades in less than a year.

Gratitude for our daughter who was such a hero to him and to us. She is very devoted to her brother and they loved each other dearly. My heart will never heal from their sorrows.

Crap because I’m writing about loss again. It’s almost a year since our son Chris died. Time flies, and then again, it stands still.

Gratitude.  I got words down.

Crap. I  got words down.

Go Preds~



A neighbor gifted me a book on grief. It’s been a Godsend.






Snow Spirits

Second Autumn Tree

Deep sighs from the spirits of the trees are masked within the autumn commotion.

Their tired solar panels, homes for critters and pleasing primary pennants,


to the ground,


and worn out.

Spirit’s Winter Sabbath commences.

Beaches lounge waiting for the weary wanderers

to soak up the rays of the Always Summer Sun

until their Boss calls them back for their seasonal jobs.

The Gift of a Birthday

I’d like to share a photograph of the gift my husband and daughter presented to me for my birthday on the 24th of May, along with a poem I had written about the same subject: Building Eight at the Factory in Franklin Tennessee. It’s where God found us. Our church. Journey Church. We’d never gone to church regularly in all our thirty-seven years of marriage. We went occasionally on Christmas Eve, the kids and hubs kicking and screaming most of the time.

In 2007 our adult daughter and her dog moved in with us while a mysterious illness started to attack her body. We had a tornado shelter installed in the garage and agreed to show it to any potential customers for the shelter company. One couple wanted to see it. Bob and Amy. They came, saw our daughter’s obscure little dog and said, “Is that an Affenpinscher?” Really? They had one. “Do you have MS?” That was a suspicion of doctors. Amy had MS. We all became friends and Gretchen agreed to go to church with them. Odd. Very odd. After a few months she asked us to go. We declined. A lot. She begged. “Go for me.” Fine. That was 2008 and Journey Church. We’ve never looked back.

Church is in flux right now. Searching for a new home. The Factory is reinventing itself and we are not part of the plan. I’ve written a poem about Building Eight and the memories it carries for many of us. My daughter took a photograph of the inside where we were loved and allowed to sit, ask questions, disagree, cry, sing and find Christ over the years. A friend from church turned the photo into a painting. Here are the painting and poem:


Building Eight Painting


This Place
Remembering Building 8
Journey Church, The Factory in Franklin
By Susie Dunham

What is this place once filled with the trust of a paycheck and food on the table,
where lunch pails held coffee thermos’ and dreams,
and men told stories of family and faith in good times and bad?

What is this place now filled with rails and chains and pulleys and rust,
walls of brick mortared with the sweat of decades of work days and,
floors where ghosts resided in bird filth knee-high?

What is this place where sweat, love, hope, and grace has lived,
this place where voices and instruments blazon the story of Love,
where the Spirit has danced and held us if only for a breath?

Where is this place after the rust and brick are surrendered,
where the sanctuary, the safe haven, the church will live,
where souls will heal and awaken to God’s love and joy?

Ah, poise is warranted, for our God has much work to do in our world.

We will trust.
We will be patient.
We will never forget.

Cabin Fever 2015

The winter of 2015 has become a cabin fever nightmare.

The Northeast has been hit time and again with blizzards that would freeze your gizzards.

A gazillion feet of snow in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, little Rhode Island (now a big snowball), Vermont and New Hampshire (secretly one good-sized state cut on a diagonal) and New York, including the frozen Big Apple and the rest of the state which is an massive orchard in size-comparison.

Slip on down the coastline and everybody has gotten a taste of winter right into the Carolinas and into the mid-south states of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Here in mid-Tennessee all schools, and trash pick-up are closed for the rest of the week. Malls, restaurants, offices, fast-food, slow-food, doctors and lawyers have closed offices. Our area has been crippled. Except for the NHL game in Nashville! Hockey fans rock it!!! Go Preds!!!!

So, my prediction from all this snow, ice and mayhem?

stork multi


Once Upon A Time~

IMG_1633    I moved to the Nashville area in 2002 and started going to book signings at Davis-Kidd, an independent bookstore in Green Hills. I met Fannie Flagg, Sue Monk Kidd, David Sedaris and many other authors at that service-friendly store.

  Driving up to the cozy store was always a pleasure. I loved driving my Jeep over the beautiful countryside, passing gorgeous homes, pastures with cows (which I just love) and then arriving in Green Hills, which is south of Nashville. By my sense of direction, anyway. The Bluebird Cafe was across the street and just a little bit before where the store used to be. Amazon, electronic book-readers and WalMart were too big a competition and Davis-Kidd tried to go bigger or go under. They went under.

So be it. My story is about the night I went to see Dan Brown, the author of The DaVinci Code. I had no idea what the book was about or who he was. I just knew there was a book and an author and I wanted to be there. Bossman was out of town, so I took off  and got to the famous grand staircase in D-K early. Readers used to sit on the staircase while the visiting author would stand at the bottom and speak. That evening I was the first person to take a seat. I thought, “Well, this guy can’t be too good. I’m the only one here.” Then people started to trickle up onto the stairs. “I’m just going to bump up a couple of steps.” I sat center-right almost to the top landing. It was filling in. Suddenly it was full with people going up both splits of the staircase to the second floor. “Hmmm…” I was surrounded. “So what did you think of the book wasn’t it wonderful I couldn’t put it down isn’t this exciting?” The guy next to me had too much caffeine. “Well, I didn’t read it,” I said as I looked around at people starting to fill in down the aisles of the store and surrounding the staircase. Mr. Starbucks was aghast at my ignorance and ignored me. The *Buzz* had gotten crazy. “What did you think?” “Wasn’t it amazing?” “I hope they make a movie out of it.” I felt goofy. I’m sure I was the only person in the city that hadn’t read this book. And the author was late. The nerve.

The store clerk set a podium at the bottom center of the stairs. **BUZZ** A nice looking man with a professor-style tweed sports coat with suede elbow pads, walked out and people applauded. “What the heck is this book all about,” I thought. He shyly introduced himself and was obviously overwhelmed. He held his cellphone up in the air. “I’m kinda in shock here. I just got off the phone with George Lucas.” ***BUZZ*** So he starts talking about the book and all the research he’d done at the Vatican and the crowd is hanging onto every word. I have to say it was pretty interesting. His wife is an art historian and he talked about how much she helped with the research. As he spoke he scanned the audience of about 150 people. At one point our eyes connected. And stuck. It was like a cartoon, where Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny get their eyes locked on each other and they try to break that lock by turning their heads, but it just doesn’t work. They’re stuck for what seems like forever but is only seconds. Dan’s head finally snapped away and I was left thinking “What the hell just happened there?” I shook my head to get my bearings.

At the end of the lecture, I stayed on the staircase while readers filed down to grab books and get in line to have them signed. I waited an hour until the end of the line was obvious. I picked up three books and awkwardly got behind the last five people. I wasn’t sure what I was going to say when I stepped in front of him. My brain was blank. My turn. I was the last one. Alone in front of Dan Brown sitting at a table with my three books in front of him. He looked up. I looked down. We didn’t say anything but stared. Finally he said, “Where do I know you from?” I said, “I know. What the hell was that all about?” Dan, “I don’t know.”  Me, being the clever and astute girl said, “I have no idea. I’m sure we don’t run in the same circles. ” He shook his head still staring. I said, “Maybe we knew each other in another life.” He smiled and said, “Maybe that’s it.”  We said a few other words and then he signed my book.   signed DB book

                  The End. (or is it?)

Four In a Can

Picture it.

January 29th, Williamson County, Tennessee, weather-folk warning us of possible severe weather that might contain tornadoes. Of course, they won’t show up until the middle of the night when we’re all sleeping with one ear open.

And so it begins…

Before we head to bed, the three of us, Bossman (hubs), The Queen of English (daughter) and Me (me),  get our medications together, our cell phones with power cords, ID’s and our USB sticks for the computers. Two sticks contain portions of novels being written by The Queen and Me and Bossman’s  twelve sticks have all the less important stuff-like passwords for banking and that sorta crap.

We put all these things into a canvas bag, set it on the table we have to pass on the way to the garage and head to bed, knowing that we are probably going to be startled from sleep when The Man starts squawking at us  from the top of our dresser. The Man lives in the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration box which is also known as the: NOAA Weather Radio that saves life and limb if you turn it on and have it programmed correctly.

Tick-tock – tick-tock – tock- tick (just wanted to see if you were paying attention) Squawk!!! 3:10AM – Tornado Warning for Williamson County and blah-blah-blah counties, which were all south and west of us. Screwed.

Stumbling, falling into my bathrobe, looking for slippers, stuffing underwear and a bra into my pocket, Bossman does the Zombie click to the remote to see Lisa on Channel 4 with red boxes all around our house. That’s what you see when there are sirens going off, a terror-terrier dog barking out in the dining room and a mobility-challenged daughter breaking records for getting out to The Can in the garage.

Bossman, who had taken Ambien about four hours prior to the sirens, was struggling to put his Red Cross raincoat on, grab the canvas bag with all the meds and sticks and find his way to the tornado shelter which looks very similar to the one in the picture upper right. He had cleared a path through the garage earlier in the day when the weather was looking pretty dicey. Saws, wood, clamps and other bookcase building stuff was blocking the way to the steel bunker.

All four inside, door bolted, tv on to watch the storm head right for us, little chairs for not-so-little butts, maniac barking dog, zombie husband, Queen who needed the fan blowing, Me who continued my week-long bout of coughing and freezing, dog being fed stinky, dead-duck treats, Queen hiding face in sweater, giving me a death stare saying, “Do you have to be touching me?” “Hello, we’re in a giant tuna can, Yes, I need to be touching you.” I thought it, but I was too sick to say it out loud.

Four days later – okay, it only felt like four days – thirty minutes later, we were allowed to get back to our beds and finish sleeping. In the morning straight line winds and an EF1 tornado had passed through our area. Red Cross friends were called out at four AM and then again at nine to find shelter for people who had massive damage from fallen trees. We were very lucky, once again.

That “Can” has given us many hours of security during tornado seasons in Tennessee. We keep heavy soled shoes, water, First Aide, toiletries, important papers in a safe box, $$, dog food, dog bed, leash… the dang dog has more stuff than we do.

Holiday Mishap or Trippin’ Thanksgivin’

These are the bricks leading to my sister’s house and my Thanksgiving story.

I went home alone for the holiday this year. Flew from Nashville to Albany, New York the day before Turkey Day. No traffic, no waiting, no problem checking my suitcase.

I was carrying a small tote bag, my purse and an extra large Titan umbrella for my sister to give her friend for Christmas. Getting ready for the security, I had my driver’s license and boarding pass ready for the first highlighted “OK” from the first checkpoint. The second checkpoint was the conveyor belt where I laid the umbrella, the tote, my shoes, purse and sweater coat. I was sent into the beam-me-up-Scotty tube where I really wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I was instructed to “stand on the yellow foot prints and do this.” So I did. I held my hands up in surrender as if I was being arrested by Hop-Along Cassidy. The scanner whoosed in front of me. “That’s it?” I said to the not-so-happy security lady. “Yup, c’mon out.” That’s when I saw a guy come at me with a wand; I refused eye-contact and he walked right past me. I’m a pretty tough broad.

I walked over to the conveyor and started picking up my stuff when a guard came up to me with his arm extended. “Are these yours?” “Mine?” I asked demurely as I looked at my driver’s license and boarding pass. Shit! “Y-e-e-e-s-s. Where’d you find them?” He pointed to the beginning of the damn conveyor belt. “You want’m back?” Smart-ass. I grabbed them and asked if he’d like to follow me around the airport until I got on my plane. He didn’t think that was cute. So I thanked him and hightailed it to a bench where I could gather my wits and my ID. My shoes were on, my ID and boarding pass were in my purse, my sweater jacket was on, the tote was dangling from my hand – phew – I walked down the concourse, got a coffee, browsed the bookstore and had a couple of books I was interested in as I texted Ter to let him know I made it through security without a problem. “I even have the umb”  Shit! Where’s the umbrella!? I shut off the phone and hurried out of the bookstore into the concourse – with the two books I hadn’t paid for. After returning the books before security got me, I headed to where I thought the umbrella must be. On that damn bench; but nothing was on that damn bench. The main security pen was close-by. I rushed it, peeked over the top, spied my umbrella on a desk and said, “Hey! That’s my umbrella. Right there! Mine! It’s mine!” The guard, with a gun on his waist, turned and looked at me and then at the umbrella. “This? This umbrella?” Smart-ass! “Yes, that umbrella. It’s mine. I left it on the bench over there and my sister is giving it to her friend and if i don’t bring it to New York she’ll kill me and it cost $40.” Needless to say, they handed it over.

I did not let that umbrella out of my sight the rest of my trip – only when I had to put it up in the overhead storage on the plane. I was blessed to have sweet, young ladies as seat partners who reminded me to get the umbrella as requested when they sat next to me.  I was relieved to throw it in my sister’s car when she picked me up in Albany. Phew! “Wait until I tell you the umbrella story.” Oh, how she laughed on our way home.

We pulled up in front of her house (this is where the bricks enter the story), we get out the suitcase, which I insist on carrying myself, the umbrella, which I also insist on taking and Ally grabs my tote. The suitcase is in my left hand, the umbrella in my right. I have all new clothes on. I turn from the car, chatting with Sissy, stub my shoe on the highest brick and get propelled forward by my suitcase which is leading the way to doom, the umbrella is pointing at the house, I’m seeing a concrete landing or muddy landing in my future and I choose mud.

Sissy thought I was so excited to be home I was in a hurry to get into the house. She almost wet her pants from laughing when I took the dive into the mud. “I thought you were rushing on purpose. I would have helped you if I knew you were falling.” Of course, she was laughing so hard I had a hard time understanding her. (Every time she told the story at a gathering of family and friends during the week she had to run into the bathroom)

So, we decided to fix the bricks.

Cousin Bob came out and helped our dainty stone work by pounding and cussing them instead.

Then he made sure the scene of the crime was marked. Smart-ass!

The umbrella was not hurt.


we gave him bread…

ter and i went out into our area and did DA today. that’s official Red Cross jargon for Disaster Assessment. we were sent to an area where homes had a beautiful view of the river. now they have a view of a mess. most of the homes had damage that was limited to their crawl spaces and garages. of course those crawl spaces held their HVAC systems and garages held furniture, computers, bikes, holiday decorations, appliances, cars, storage for personal items… the list was endless. backyard pools contained the Harpeth River. other homes had damage to their first floors with up to four feet of water. imagine the loss.

one family lost four cars, a family room, a large freshly planted garden, fencing, appliances, cabinetry…. he wasn’t upset. an employee of his had sent him a text on sunday morning asking if he had a boat. her son had been washed away the night before on I-24 when the highway flash-flooded. they couldn’t find him in the raging river that took over the busy road. when the rage stopped – so did their search. he was 21 years old and left two small children. no, the man i was talking to wasn’t upset about his four cars that were totaled. he was thrilled that we’d brought him a bag of donated Panera bread products and bottles of water. he thanked us for listening, for bread, for checking on his home and his family. we gave him a second bag of bread and more water plus a second broom to wash the muck and mud out of his garage. we gave him bread. he gave us more.

donate to the Williamson County Red Cross.    click on the Online Donations link at the bottom of the page for Williamson County. thank you

tennessee flood

it’s been a busy day. i was going to stay home to visit with our son chris who is visiting, but got called back into the red cross chapter. worked lots of hours to get food donated for shelters and talked to many professional food peeps who were anxious to help out.

chris goes home tomorrow with a bum knee from working in our flooded crawl space and memories of a flooded franklin. ter and i will be off to fairview, tn and hickman county. we’ll be checking in at shelters to find out what these folks need from our williamson county chapter. the only communication we have with them is from HAM operators and spotty cell service. don’t know what to expect… more on that tomorrow.

pray for all the flood victims. you can’t imagine what this is like and i’ve only seen a miniscule piece. the nashville area is devastated. LP field, Country Music Hall of Fame, the Symphony hall, our hockey arena… it is a disaster.

the downtown area of franklin… the pictures i’ve seen are devastating. this is such a sad, sad day as i’ve realized how many businesses, jobs and lives are going to be affected by this flood. it will take years to recover.

my family and neighbors were blessed as the Harpeth did not climb all the way into our homes. it teased us plenty, though. scared us lots and taught us a lesson on Mother Nature and her wrath. don’t take Mother Nature for granted. prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

please donate to the American Red Cross, Williamson County Chapter, 129 W. Fowlkes St., Franklin, TN 37064; 615-790-5785.

thank you.

oz at the ren

Bossman and i were helping man the Red Cross booth at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival this past weekend. while there i noticed a similarity between Dorothy’s companions and the colorful ensemble at the Renaissance Festival.  the sun had come out for just a few seconds on saturday and the glint off of this person’s apparel was eye-catching. [singlepic=8,320,240,,right]”Why is that guy dressed like a tin can?” i asked my co-volunteer, Savantha. “That’s armor,” she said. “Well, he looks like the Tin Man to me.” (on closer inspection of this photo, i’m not sure if it’s a Tin Man or a Tin Woman) Then Savantha pointed across the field, “There goes the Scarecrow.” a definite fellow was wearing overalls with one jaunty strap attached. Bossman and I later saw the Cowardly Lion dining with a group of fairies in the woods.


yes, Oz was at the Ren.