This Girl


Emma Magnolia Mayne Jose graduates from 8th grade today.  Emma’s my first grand-daughter, my #1 who Named me Jojo.  I am so proud of all she has accomplished in her 14 years. We’re tuning into the Town School ceremony via livestream, buckets of tissues nearby, to listen to her speak.  I’m so glad we could attend in this way, but I’d rather be in NYC…



Coincidentally, Ten years ago today I posted my first blog on “The News from Sonnystone Acres”.   I started the blog “Sonnystone Acres” in June, 2004. I can’t access those stories anymore, though I did find about four years of them.  It’s cringeworthy stuff, but I liked blogging.  In 2010 I came across the free WordPress site and started the garden blog, Growing Every Season.  The platform was so much easier to use that I re-started The News to chronicle my life– good thing, too, since we often have to go to the blog to remember when we went where, or what year something happened, so it’s now essential.

Anyway, the first blog post on The News brought along my following of about 12 people.  I had just returned from a trip to NYC to visit with Emma..  It is All Emma, 4 years old, radiating charm…  I adore this girl…

All together now?

Thank-you for following me!  I want to tell you all about my recent trip to NYC………

Sunday morning tap class:

Melissa sang beautifully at a recital that afternoon (tears from Mom) and we supped at Maz before she went off to sing a Mass.  Eric, Em, and I stopped by Merrion Square for a short snort, then grabbed the car, picked up Mel and we went down to the HighLine.  Remember when I went there in November?  It sure looks different now with all the plants in bloom.  I took tons of pictures of the flora and fauna, but you’ll have to check those out over at the garden blog.   Here’s some people pix:

From there we walked to Bill’s for a coldass beer.  It is this kind of backdrop that makes me feel like I’m on a movie set when I’m walking the streets of New York.

The next day, we took Emma to school and ran some errands.  After school, she and her buddies (and her mom’s buddies) went over to the park and play, play, played:


On Tuesday, the City opened up all the museums along Museum Mile for free, closing off the streets for an Art Fair.  As we arrived, lo and behold, there was de la Vega, an artist I have long revered (I have 2 t-shirts, that’s how much I revere him) chalking his art from 103rd down to 80-something where the Met is:

Emma picked up a piece of his chalk (he carried a bagful, and would hand it to the kids or leave it to be picked up when he finished) and began to do her own art all the way down the street (until her chalk was gone):

The finale was a sneak preview of  the St. Joseph end-of-school Show, to be presented next week, but kindly practiced on stage just for a visiting Grandma…thanks to Andermanis….

The songs were great and not your usual kids song, and the best: All You Need is LOVE.  As they stressed the LOVE, they put their hands in the air…..I love Emma’s school.  I love her whole life, actually, and it’s so fun to watch and be a part of it!!





Prophesying the Derby

It’s that Magical Time of Year — Derby fever has been raging in Louisville, KY for 2 weeks and we now have the field set and can make bets beginning tomorrow.

It looks as though Eville is going to have decent weather on Saturday with a.m. clouds/p.m. sun and highs in the 70’s,  in stark contrast to my report in  2013 Coldest Derby Ever  

I shared with you in  2015 – It’s Derby Week-end how befuddled I become when betting The Run for the Roses, but I’m a little less confused than usual this year.  (2015 was the American Pharoah year, so the decision seems easy, now.)

In 2016, I was visiting NYC on Derby Week-end…

Eliza’s Derby Hat 2016 NYC

Around these parts, we have a Real Kentucky Thoroughbred Racetrack, Ellis Park, 10 miles away, but Manhattan lacks such amenities.  I discovered TwinSpires, the Official online wagering site of Churchill Downs that year.  We went down to the wire getting our bets made, then put on our hats and sipped bourbon.

I do not have enough money to gamble, and usually stick with $2 bets, except for the Derby, where I make $3 bets. but more of them than any other race.  There are just so damn many horses!!

This year, only 5 of 21 horses have current odds below 10-1:  Justify at 3-1;  Mendelsohn at 5-1; Magnum Moon at 6-1; Bolt d’Oro and Audible, both 8-1. Amazingly, 13 entries have odds at 20-1 to 50-1!!!

It actually is a strong field:  Todd Pletcher trained 4; Bob Baffert trained 2; Aiden O’Brien has been traveling the world winning with Mendelsohn; and Dale Romans has 2 entries.

Saturday morning showers in Louisville may leave a dampened track, though nothing like the mud we had last year.

So what’s a girl to do?  Last year, I left all my Triple Crown winnings in the TS account, so I have that to bet.  And bet it I will.

I have been following the  Prep Races, and early on fell in love with Good Magic.  Not long after, Magnum Moon came along and stole my heart.  I’ve been set on those 2 for a couple of months now, even as the race card filled up with horses with higher BRIS numbers and flashier wins.  The other day, Justify kicked ass at the Santa Anita Derby and caught my eye, and he’s now the favorite.

This might be a good year to bet a longshot.  For the last 5 years, the favorite has won, but for 20 (!!) years before 2012 the favorite lost.  Remember Giacomo winning at 50-1 in 2005?  There are some good horses in that 20-1 to 50-1 group that could surprise us.  Noble Indy comes from a fine family of horses, is a Pletcher horse, and is currently at 30-1.  Salomini has been persistently placing in the preps, and is trained by Baffert, also at 30-1.

So there’s a little info for strategery whenst wagering.  Say you don’t believe in “gambling”?  It’s a Horse Race, the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports (some say).  You don’t have to put out any money to cheer on your favorite horse(s) while wearing a fancy hat and drinking a minty beverage.  Enjoy!

And in case you’re conflicted over Derby Day falling on Cinco de Mayo, here’s a solution…

Cinco de Derby

My hat is ready for donning…  After Olivia’s piano recital, we’ll head over to Ellis and join the festivities.  See you at the track!

P.S.  I know, I know I didn’t say anything about the Oaks.  There needs to be a major movement to get the fillies the proper attention, but I’m not feeling it this year.  Maybe Chocolate Martini?  Oh, Just pick a number…




Going dark…

I’ve been doing this blog thing for…oh, my gosh, it’s been nearly 14 years!!!  Over a thousand posts, hundreds of thousands of words, a plethora of pictures, and about 300+ readers followed along the way.

The original Sonnystone Acres morphed into The News, then expanded to include 3 other blogs:  Growing Every Season, Rave On,  MadWoman, and Trailer Trippin’.  (Growing is a seasonal gardening blog and the trippers only post when we are traveling —unless it’s to Disney, which goes on The News.)

Anyone who has tried to maintain a blog can tell you it’s not easy. Each post takes a couple of hours to write, even if it’s a photoblog.   It’s intimidating to hit the publish button…you are putting your Self out there…and I’ve written plenty of stuff that I decided to not share. If you want folks to come back, it has to be published consistently and it has to be at least decent, and interesting, or have pictures of darling children!..  Over the years, I’ve often sacrificed quality just to get something posted, but overall, I’m proud of what I’ve written.  It’s been rare that anyone has actually criticized me, though I can always count on my family to point out my weaknesses.  It’s almost as rare that anyone has actually “liked” my posts on wordpress!!

My faithful readers have shared my joy–births of 4 grand-daughters, 5 Camp Sonnystones, 6 Disney trips– and my pain–Eric’s 1.5 years of fighting cancer, deaths of friends, that damn hip thing.  I sincerely appreciate you.

Lately, though, I’ve felt more obligated than inspired…

So I feel like I have to tell you that I’m taking a 6-week-sabbatical from The News.  The MadWoman will likely be in touch, and I’ve got a few other writing projects going, but mostly I want to just shut up for a while.

I know I’ll be back in time to celebrate the February birthdays, so we’ll get together then!


Eric: The Epilogue

I guess it will always be the Year-that-Eric-got-cancer, and it’s been a long rough-patch.  The days since March, 2015 have been fraught with temptation to fear, piled with prayers for mercy and healing, and full of gratitude as friends have shared our woes and lightened the burden.

Eric is Now (as of 6/23) not Just Cancer-Free, but Officially Finished with All his treatments.  That’s 17 rounds of chemotherapy, a rare adult who made it through All of the prescribed infusions.   That’s one surgery to remove 3 rays of his left foot with associated wound-healing complications.  That’s one bout of Sepsis following the final chemo treatment.  That’s 25 radiation treatments, burning his foot till it resembled Peking Duck and temporarily putting him back on crutches.  That’s about enough, isn’t it?

I want to use all of my eloquence to describe my son-in-law, but superlatives sound so shallow:  fantastic father!  great husband!  caring friend!   He is all of that and always has been, but adding !cancer survivor! misses the truth.  He was determined, often grimly, motivated by his daughters to stand up to whatever the cure required.  It has made him a deeper, stronger soul…

I’m reminded of these verses from the poem, Invictus by William Ernest Henley:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

I really think a celebration is in order.  Let’s get it started this Independence Day weekend—set off a bottle rocket, or light a sparkler, or maybe even throw one of those cherry bombs in Eric’s Honor.  Toast him with your favorite beverage!

You Really are a Rockstar, Eric! You did it!  It’s Over!  You are so loved and admired!


The rest of the story…

Here’s a recap of my FB posts 3/29/16…
Jo Mayne Casey

Tears. I am sitting in my car on the side of I-24, 109 miles from Eville, 39 miles from Nashville, car broken down…I had to cancel my flight to visit with Jose’s. Casey is heading down to rescue me. State Police must have better things to do. .. I’m so sad.

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My Hero, at last… The car barely fits, so it will be a slow ride back home. Probably just a hose, but it sure ruined my plans.

Jo Mayne Casey's photo.
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What a day! Thanks to all my FB friends who sent out enough kind wishes to keep my perspective positive. Now, to devise a scheme to get to NYC asap…

Jo Mayne Casey's photo.
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 So…  I was cruising down 1-24, the gutsy grandma on her way to visit her NYC grand-daughters.  My flight out of Nashville was at 2:15 and I was making good time.  I stopped at our usual Rest Stop at the Kentucky-Tennessee state line, then quickly got back on the road.  I went about 7 miles, back up to speed, when that funny-looking red light starting lighting up my dash and dinging.  Now, we have little dings go off regularly on our dash, nothing serious, usually some sort of computer quirk–it scrolls “lo wash” every day.  So I didn’t know whether I should pay attention to it or not.  I grabbed my phone and called Casey and by the time I got him, it was blinking and dinging and Casey said, pull over, stop the car….  When the engine stopped, I was immediately covered by a fog of steam…
That was the scariest part.  Even though I spent my day trapped in my car on the side of the interstate, everything after that just came together perfectly.  Casey was just finishing up a job and could leave right away.  Our wonderful neighbor let us borrow his car-trailer.  I had a McDonald’s mcmuffin and small drink.  I had just gone to the bathroom, so I was comfortable.  Thank-you, Lord, for cell phones.  I was able to cancel the flight, call my daughter and let her and the girls know.
I sat for 4 hours, on alert, but not afraid.  I did check the woods a couple of times to make sure nobody was gonna sneak up on me.  The trucks and cars racing by kept me rocking, so I felt like I was on a train.  I stayed connected with people through FB and felt like I wasn’t actually alone.
The disappointment really hit this morning when I woke up Here.  I should be There.  Emma and Eliza are on Spring Break and I was going to have them all to myself.  I am just heartbroken.  Melissa told me that a friend of hers has asked them to Sag Harbor, so at least they will have something fun to do, but the only thing better than JoJo is JoJo at Disneyworld…   I’m looking at dates and I’ll get there soon…
But, there’s more…   The problem with my car was some sort of plastic Y that holds hoses—you figured that, huh?  It’s something Casey can fix and he’s going to pick up the part today.  As we were driving home, Casey’s engine light came on….no ding, but the one that says “SERIOUS”.  The vehicle was running fine, so we got it all  home, unloaded the car, ready to take the trailer back to our neighbor.  Casey’s Expedition wouldn’t start.  He cranked it and cranked it and and …  He has no idea what is wrong and it most likely is something he can’t fix, so here comes the mechanic bill…

We are supposed to pick up our RV on Friday. What will happen next?  Stay tuned, but it will all be okay….
P.S.  For some reason, WordPress won’t let me break up this post into paragraphs, so it looks like all one big ramble and not as inviting.  So, if you have read this far, thank-you, You’re a Doll..!

Breaking News…

Yesterday was a day like Alexander’s…  Somehow, everything seemed more difficult.  The culmination was spilling my tea into my computer keyboard.  I tried to get it cleaned up quickly, but…   Casey’s out clearing the roads, so I’ve taken over his computer until I can get out and get one.  After the initial “geez, f!**”, I’ve gotten into the idea of getting new.

It seems like a natural time to take a break from reporting, anyway, as there will be little happening for a couple of weeks…unless, of course, something does actually happen, at which time, you’ll be the first to know.

Stay warm and safe, dear readers.


I just dropped my resignation in the mailbox and I feel like a ton of bricks fell off of my shoulders.

But it’s a mixture of relief and grief…

I’ve had a grand 8 years as a school nurse.  Looking back, the very first year was the toughest.  Nobody, I mean nobody, showed me what to do.  I had a thick handbook of guidelines and policies that was supposed to prepare me.  I didn’t know about hall passes, bell schedules, and (worst of all) I had no idea how to use the computer–no password, no training.  The 8th-graders could smell blood and a certain group of boys would duck into my office during passing period, constantly skipping class, pretending to be sick so they could take a nap.  There was a contingent of girls who were always angry and always on their periods, showing up every hour to beg me to send them home.   This was nursing???  Lunchtime always attracted a group of misfits who were just too awkward to enjoy recess, and those were the ones who really touched me.  It was enough to make me try it one more year.

The next year my mission was to get the teachers on board to send passes with the kids, but I think many of them took it as a challenge and would let 2-3 go to my office at a time, same pass, none of them sick.  Others just sent them on, too busy to write a pass, so there was often standing-room-only in my office.   I just gave up and started feeding them crackers for their belly aches, their headaches, or because they were there, and I tell you, those crackers magically cured whatever ailed them.  I began to listen to their stories.  Most of it was a load of crap, honestly.   It takes a special kind of patience to listen to adolescent problems and I developed that skill.  Occasionally,  there would be someone who I genuinely touched,  someone who I was able to help through a tough time.    Even though the job was maddening, and the pay was shitty, I felt like I needed to stay… just in case there was one more someone out there who I could help.  6 years flew by…

test jobI became the Manager of the Misfit Cafe, where the crackers are Magic.  I gave out hugs and advice, scoldings and praise, comfort and safety.  Yes, there were plenty of bloody noses, head lice, broken bones, and a rash of concussions, as well.  There was a smattering of complaining parents and teachers, but for the most part, I loved it.

This year, though, the kids seemed more like manipulators than misfits, and the crackers lost their Magic.  Parents were harder to please, teachers touchier, and I was overwhelmed by the paperwork.  My patience wore thin, blew out, broke down.

There are 6 co-workers who I call friend and will remember fondly.  I made many kid-friends who I remember with love.

… I’m turning out the lights,  hanging the CLOSED sign on the door, and moving on..

What’s next?

we'll know when we get there


Spring Break redux

I know ya’ll have been anxious to hear from me, wondering just how much fun I had in the Big Apple last week.

My facebook “friends” have already been informed, via a new-blog post from my daughter, that we are experiencing some turbulence in our lives.

Here’s the Real News:  about a month ago, my son-in-law went to a clinic to check on a painful foot.  He’s had recurring gout for years, but this was different.  The guy there took an x-ray and did see some old fractures of his metatarsals, but was side-tracked by Eric’s sky-high blood pressure.  This started everyone off on a mission to get his blood pressure under control, starting in the Mt. Sinai ER, where they also ordered an MRI of his foot.  Blood pressure took the forefront, but the MRI was done about a week later.  They called and told him to see an oncologist immediately.

Oncologist?  The MRI looked like a kind of cancer called synovial sarcoma, which we have found out now it was Not.  The biopsy was expedited by a nurse-friend of theirs, and we found on on the Friday before I left on vacay that it is a rare childhood cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma, which occurs even more rarely in adults.

It was a good opportunity for me to shuffle the kids back and forth while Melissa and Eric made the doctor rounds.  They saw a surgeon, then their chemo-dude, who said the treatment consists of 17 3-week-cycles of some powerful drugs.  After 3-4 cycles, they’ll do some surgery to remove any metatarsals that look like they are manufacturing the cancer cells.  Then they’ll resume the chemo until he is cured.  He is being treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, surely the best place for that diagnosis.

Just yesterday, they finished up looking for any metastasis (spread) of the disease, and reported that it is localized..Yay!  Today he starts chemo.  (his blood pressure is responding to the meds)

We were all just a little bit in shock during my stay.  The weather sucked, and we just kept shaking our heads, muttering, “how can this be?”, as we put one foot in front of the other.

Bright spot:  The Rockettes Spring Spactacular at Radio City Music Hall.  It is a love-letter to New York, and I’m sure my daughter needed the encouragement.  We danced in our seats, even sang along, and really liked it better than the Christmas Show!



Emma and I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a regular on my trips.

I’m on-call to return to help at any moment, for any amount of time.  In the meantime, Eric & Melissa, Emma & Eliza are always, constantly being lifted up for comfort and strength.  He is a champ, I know he’ll do well.