I Like That

I Like That
See, hear, taste, touch and inhale the wonders of the world.

Saturday, December 27, 2014


I LIKE THAT I work as a cashier these days. 

Today, I lift my eyes from the computer screen and smile at the woman standing across from me at my work station.

“How much is this baby?” she says and holds up her sweet-faced toddler. At that moment, she sets her son on the conveyor belt and pats his bottom.

I play along and say, “One million dollars.”

Infrared Scanner
The woman pulls the scanner wand from its cradle and pushes the trigger with her index finger. She scans its infrared beam over the child’s body and points it directly on his angelic face. She hears me pull in my breath as I reach for the instrument and she pushes it toward me. I set it back in its cradle and smile at her.

“This is common where I come from,” she says.

I detect her Australian accent and wonder if her generalization of her countrymen’s conduct is true.

“Don’t do that. It’s dangerous,” her male companion says. He states the obvious.

He lifts the boy from the conveyor belt and puts him into the shopping cart. We all listen to the child’s wailing until the transaction is complete and they leave the building.

I smile and welcome the next shopper.

Susan the Cashier

Friday, December 5, 2014

Freedom From Little White Pills

Flag of Bolivia
 I turned from the blackboard to face the nine adult students in my English class. I stood motionless and wordless for several minutes. I had been their instructor for this early morning session at Cambridge College Bolivia for nearly three months but at that moment I did not recognize my students. My eyes filled with tears and my mouth felt like it was stuffed with copper. I calculated my place in the scenario and although I knew where I was and how I got there, the gnawing sensation that enveloped me was that I did not recognize these people. I felt confused and out of control. I gripped my trembling hands on the podium in front of me. They were slippery with sweat. All eyes were staring at me.

“Mrs. Black, are you ok?” one student said.

I looked at her. Sound waves came to me like ripples lapping on the seashore. At the same time the distinct fragrances of salt and kelp flowed through my nostrils to the back of my throat. I could hear the woman but could not respond. I feared that if I spoke, blood would come pouring out between my lips. I could not control my fears. What is the matter with me? I pulled a tissue from my pocket, put it to my mouth and coughed. I glanced down to examine the contents and was relieved to see that the absorbent had not changed colours.

“I’m alright. Thank you,” I said. I still didn’t remember her name.

When the class ended, I stuffed my training materials into my satchel and walked down the narrow staircase to the teachers’ lounge. I chose not to mark my papers there and headed out the door to the bus stop. 

Our Bolivian accommodations
When I arrived at the hacienda where my husband and I lived, I was mentally exhausted from the early morning ordeal and physically saturated from the blistering heat of the South American sun.

“How was your morning?” Frank said.

He handed me a tall glass of iced tea and sat beside me on the chesterfield.

“It was scary,” I said.

“What happened?”

“I couldn’t remember my students’ names. I looked at each one of them and their names didn’t come to me. I was embarrassed and really uncomfortable.”

“Honey, don’t cry. You’re safe now.”

He put his arm around my shoulders and squeezed me into him. I moaned into his chest with relief.

“You’ve got another class this evening, Darling, so have a rest and I’ll get you up later for something to eat.”

Steps to second floor
I strolled up the stairs to our bedroom, removed my working garments and slipped naked between the cool sheets. I used my quiet time to search for reasons why I might be losing my mind. I relaxed into sleep and travelled into the future. I was surrounded by small white droplets. I reached out to touch them but they slipped through my fingers. They began to pluck at my skin and leave behind pea size white marks. Soon the appearance of them became offensive. They had formed a tattoo of a skull on my left arm. Although I could not feel pain I swiped at the tormentors. I heard my voice shout. I was sitting up and holding the bed cover to my face.

I refused to have my sleep controlled by bad dreams so I recited a prayer over and over to help me fade into the unconscious realm. Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding!

I was rewarded that afternoon with two uninterrupted hours of sleep. When I woke, Frank was sitting beside me.

“I think I know what’s happening,” I said.

“Your pills,” he said.

“Yes, my new medication. Those awful Lipitors! Dr. Fadden prescribed them to me just before we left for Bolivia. She said they’re meant to help lower my cholesterol. I’m going to stop taking them.”

“Okay. Let’s give that a try.”

I learnt to control my cholesterol levels by consuming only plant-based food for a while. My classes afterward were effective and comfortable. I purposefully would call each student by his or her name several times during our time together to ward off any fear of being forgetful.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Prairie Sentinals

2012 Vacation Transport
It was the summer of 2012. Our destination was a fiddle festival near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. We accumulated spectacular memories as we travelled from Campbell River, British Columbia through the interior of BC, all the way through Alberta and into Saskatchewan.

Along our secondary road route, my husband, Frank, and I paid special attention to the grain elevators also known as prairie sentinels.

Chauvin, AB Grain Elevator
Along Highway 14 East, we turned south on secondary road 610 to seek out a place to have breakfast in the great outdoors. At once we were taken with their grain elevator and took several photos. The town of Chauvin sits alone now because the railway grain transporter cars no longer stop there.

Afterward, we headed north and came across two other isolated grain elevators. One with the name Gotze and the other with Butze painted on the side. Later, the secondary road number changed to 680 as we passed over the Alberta Border to Saskatchewan.

Butze, AB Grain Elevator 

Marsden, SK Grain Elevator
We continued to drive north east to Marsden where we came across a working prairie cathedral. We spoke to the grain elevator operator and commented on their decline. He agreed that there weren’t many of the wooden structures left.

“I’d always hoped that some of them would be converted to a museum,” Frank said.

“Well sir, you’re in luck. Just less than an hour’s drive west of here, Paradise Valley has a huge museum right in the elevator,” he said.

Paradise Valley, AB Grain Elevator
After we learnt directions, we travelled northwest to reach the Paradise Valley prairie cathedral. We arranged with the local keeper of the key to let us in and we walked up a gently sloped wooden spiral platform viewing the history of that particular elevator and the times in which it existed. We stayed at the local campground that night and enjoyed the stark drama of an Alberta rain storm with its crackling lighting and booming thunder.

If you are interested in grain elevators, here’s a good source.

Friday, September 26, 2014

O Son of Spirit!


“With the joyful tidings of light I hail thee: rejoice!
To the court of holiness I summon thee;
 abide therein that thou mayest live in peace ever-more.”
~ Baha’u’llah

On May 3rd, 2014, my sister, Andree passed on to the next realm. I had the distinct honour of sharing a few words with family and friends who had gathered at her memorial. I humbly share them here with you.

Andree may have arrived in this valley as a Canadian, but when God called on her to be with Him, she departed as a Bitterroot gal.

View of St. Mary's Peak
Andy loved her valley; from the magnificent St. Mary’s Peak located in the Bitterroot Mountains to the west, across to the eastern display of the sun-soaked Sapphire Mountain Range.

She loved the outdoors. When the snow melted to expose the plants in her yard, she dutifully removed the old stocks to make room for the new shoots. The fresh air and big blue Montana sky brought her great joy.

I recall my younger sister as vibrant and rambunctious. In French, we call this joie de vivre – joy of life.  Andy' s heart was filled with hospitality and kindness. She knew what she wanted and went for it. That’s how she met up with her sweetheart, Ben. His calm manner was what she wanted and needed in a companion.

Andy was my sister and friend in this material world and will be in the next kingdom.

O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being.
O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. 
O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.
~ Abdu'l-Baha

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Clash of the Couples Cover Reveal

Book Cover Revealed
“Coupledom. Fact or fable, Adam and Eve birthed the perpetual relationship drama as seen on TV today. Despite the serpents, this couple HAD IT MADE. Luxury real estate, lush gardens, and privacy out the yin-yang. Life was glorious until the bare-bottomed babe could no longer resist temptation. Despite her better half’s warnings and threats to sleep in a tree, she tasted the forbidden fruit. One bite of that seductive, juicy contraband and the stage was set for eternity— a nibble that has blossomed into an endless supply of tiny tidbits that divide lovers to this day!

Taking a cue from the naked explorers of authentic sin, Clash of the Couples is a new anthology featuring a collection of completely absurd lovers’ squabbles and relationship spats. Think couples fight over kids, sex, and money? Think again!  Furniture, the last beer, and where to store the placenta are what genuinely ignite our feuds. No argument is off limits. This book has it all!

Inside you’ll find a gut-busting compilation of stories such as: “I Can’t Believe You Ate My Sandwich," "Never Assume Anything," "Only I Can Talk About Me," and "You Want Some College Boobs?" from forty-three fearless writers. Prepare to laugh, roll your eyes, and shiver in suspense. While Eve may have had the first bite, we ate the whole tree. And made pies.” ~ Crystal Ponti, Editor

Published by Blue Lobster Book Co., Clash of the Couples launches loudly and obnoxiously on November 3, 2014. You’ll hear us coming, but look for it on Amazon, Barnes &Noble, Apple, and other places where you typically buy books. For instant updates, follow along on Facebook!

The lineup includes Susan A. Black of I Like That and fellow authors:
Alexa Bigwarfe of No Holding Back
Allie Burdick of VITA - Train for Life
Andrew S. Delfino of Almost Coherent Parent
Angela Godbout of FRaPS
Angela Keck of Writer Mom’s Blog
April Grant of 100lb Countdown
Barb Godshalk of Co-Author of Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey
Bev Feldman of Linkouture
Brian Sorrell of Dadding Full Time
Camille DeFer Thompson of Camille DeFer Thompson
Chris Carter of The Mom Cafe
Chris Dean of pixie.c.d.
Courtney Conover of The Brown Girl with Long Hair
Crystal Ponti of MommiFried
Ginny Marie of Lemon Drop Pie
Jeff Bogle of Out With The Kids
Jenny Hills of Express Bus Mama 
Jessica Azar of Herd Management
Jonathon Floyd of One Funny Daddy
Julia Arnold of Frantic Mama
Kathryn Leehane of Foxy Wine Pocket
Kevin Zelenka of Double Trouble Daddy
Leigh-Mary Hoffmann of Happily Ever Laughter Blog
Linda Roy of elleroy was here
Lisa Petty of Lisa R. Petty
Lydia Richmond of Cluttered Genius
Lynn Shattuck of The Light Will Find You
M. Nicole R. Wildhood of Naught Be All Else
Marcia Kester Doyle of Menopausal Mother
Marie Bollman of Make Your Own Damn Dinner
Mary Widdicks of Outmanned
Meredith Napolitano of From Meredith to Mommy
Michelle Grewe of Crumpets and Bollocks
Mike Reynolds of Puzzling Posts
R.C. Liley of Going Dad
Sarah Cottrell of Housewife Plus
Sarah del Rio of est. 1975
Scott Rigdon of Three Five Zero
Stacey Gustafson of Are You Kidding Me?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When A Queen Goes On A Walkabout

Rail Trail
When a queen or king, or another important person, goes on a walkabout, he or she walks through crowds in a public place in order to meet people in an informal way. It was the same for Wendy and her crew of ladies as they headed off on the Rail Trail, part of Greenways Loop Trail in Campbell River. I joined the group at the trail head for the five-kilometre round trip with my camera, water bottle, a peeled orange in a sandwich bag and my comfortable sun hat.

I like that the City is filled with a network of nature trails. This one is very wide and can handle three walkers abreast until a dog walker, or cyclist or horseback rider or a cluster of children with their guardian comes up from behind or approaches from the other direction. I dropped behind my new found friends and walked a slower pace. Some hikers take on a very jubilant stride, while others, like myself, saunter along the path and stop to take photographs of the landscape, or kneel to admire a large spotted slug or squint to determine the source of an animal’s footprint.

The scents that wafted through the trees carried the distinct fragrance of decaying logs, mud filled creeks, tree bark and exposed roots interspersed with the droppings from dogs and horses. The gravel path provided a unique crackle sound as we marched along the corridor. All the ramblers sported comfortable flexible footwear.

We arrived at the end of the trail and while some sipped on their water I offered up orange pieces. I slid the thirst-quenching segments into my mouth and enjoyed the sweet taste. On the trek back, Wendy and I met a stranger who after only a few words and steps on the footpath become a friend. We invited her to join us the following week on our next excursion and she accepted.

The next time you are on a walkabout whether in a crowded place or on a trail, keep in mind the royal purpose is to meet people in an informal way.

Beaver Lodge Forest Lands

Trail Walkers

Sights, Scents and Sounds

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I Love Cheerios

Our grandson loves Cheerios
On our grandson’s fifth birthday, my husband and I enjoyed his company for lunch and presented him with a celebration gift. He was impressed with its size and opened his eyes wide to take in its measurements. He held the wrapped package in his hands and beamed a grateful smile at us. Gingerly, he tore the paper to expose a bright yellow box with its distinct image of a heart-shaped red bowl; a symbol on one of Canada’s popular cereals.

“Oh, Grandma and Grandpa, I love Cheerios,” he said.

He hugged the container with eager thankfulness.

“Sweetheart, there’s more. Look inside,” I said.

He removed the tape pieces that held the flaps down and peered inside. His little hands dove deep into the large box. He plucked the soft plush bear from its container and wrapped it in his arms.

“Thank you, Grandma. Thank you, Grandpa. His name is Ivan,” he said.

We left the restaurant and strolled across the parking lot toward our vehicle. I could hear our grandson singing to himself quietly, making up lyrics about his new friend. For the next while, we shared in the development of a sing-song for him to present to his mother.

My husband and I agree that time spent with our grandson is like a breath of fresh air. We consider his love and kindness towards us as welcome as the countless number of round grain oats found in a jumbo carton of Cheerios.

Love comes in all shapes and sizes. One of the many places it can be found is within a child. A child looks to its mother and father for direction on how to conduct him or herself. For example, a house filled with a common exchange of ‘I love you’, lives within the heart of the giver and is absorbed by the receiver. The word thank you is considered a prayer. A prayer can be offered every day, as many times as you want. You are welcome, is also a method of praising someone. Offering a greeting is a way to express your gratitude and love for a person and life.

Love from a child is unconditional and is meant to be unrestricted and unlimited. God’s love is expressed the same way – limitless and boundless. You can receive love from many sources including yourself. Washing up in the morning is praise for your physical self, and expressing a prayer to God is praise to Him and your spirit. Holding hands with a child allows for an exchange of energy from one soul to another. A hug with your teenager is also an exchange of love. A peck on the cheek of your life companion is an exchange of kindness. A smile at a stranger is an opportunity for you to express your love of the world.

Our grandson generates love is mass doses. He has inherited this gift from God, and is developing its benefits from his father and mother, all the members of his immediate family and the gentle world around him. He absorbs love from his teachers who take the time to look directly at him when speaking with him, from the bus driver who accepts his loose change and thanks him for it, from others who watch him as he learns to swim or plays on the soccer field. Stand close to a child and you’ll be cloaked with the energy of innocence and love. Listen to a child and you will learn what it is to love all things. Speak with a child and tell him you love him. Hug a child for thirty seconds and glory in the exchange of positive energy.

Children are the most precious treasure a community can possess, for in them are the promise and guarantee of the future. ~ Universal House of Justice, Ridvan Message, 2000

His name is Ivan
His name is Spiderman