Thunderbolt and JAM

It’s been super stormy these last few days, pummeling the dry earth with more rain than needed, covering the road and forming lakes in our front yard. But I do love a strong rain, the sound and smell, sheets of water coming down, fog rising up; the whole world looks like it’s melting while thunder booms and lightning strobes the sky. So I was out on the front porch swing basking in the wet when suddenly a bolt of lightning appeared 20 feet in front of me, right in the clearing between the trees, and simultaneously a blast of thunder seemed to shake the earth and made me jump a foot off the swing. I felt a tingle and was somewhat disoriented. I questioned what I had just seen, as the lightning hadn’t appeared (to me) to touch the ground and it didn’t look like any lightning I’d seen before. It looked more like a burst of yellow brightness, like this…

only it was going in the opposite direction and the animated effect made it seem more hallucinatory. Casey was sitting just inside in the diner, and I checked with him: Did you see that? He said yeah, he’d noticed a flash of brightness, and felt the thunderboom.

I am in Awe…I feel so honored to have witnessed such a spectacular phenomena. It was amazing.

My son had a birthday yesterday; he’s older than me now. He’s not big on parties, but his in-laws are so he had a proper fete this week-end when they celebrated all of their family September birthdays. I’ll get with him for a while tomorrow, maybe bake some cupcakes.

I signed Samantha up to start piano lessons and the particular school/teacher didn’t feel quite right. None of my children or grandchildren have been taught to play piano in the same way that I was and their method always has frustrated me, as I couldn’t make heads or tails of those Bastien courses. I was taught primarily with John Thompson’s course “Teaching Little Fingers to Play”. This is my last chance to pass this on, so I bought the book and note speller and formed JoJo’s Academy of Music (JAM) and we will begin lessons this Friday.

You see, I “read” music like a Champ, but without music in front of me, I’m pretty weak. I’ve always known that what I see on the page transmits directly to my fingers and if my hands are placed properly I can play pretty well; I found out that’s called muscle memory, taught by rote, and it was imbedded by years of playing. Whatever you call it, it has brought me such Joy, Comfort, and Peace; I would be happy if I could teach Samantha.

The JAM is inspired, isn’t it? I think I’ll have tee shirts made…maybe a tote bag…

Have a great week! Don’t miss a chance to make someone smile!


P.S. You know this song has been stuck in my mind since the Incident of the Thunderbolt…

Winding down the Summer and starting something New…

With just a little more than 3 weeks left in Summer 2022, I’ve been tidying up the Edible Garden, pulling down the dead or dying or done plants (cucumbers, yellow squash, basil) and babying the oncoming second crop of tomatoes, bell peppers, and – Yay! canteloupe and watermelon.

The Peace/Bird Garden is rockin’ with birds – hummers kamikazi-ing through, cardinals and sparrows sharing the feeder, and finches plucking the coneflowers, voraciously eating the seed-heads, having already reduced the black-eyed Susans to little more than skeletons. I’m cutting the Susans back as soon as the birds are done and they have to be divided, so I’m dreaming up a new arrangement for next year.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a message from my fb friend, Bob Walker, a UCC minister. He knew that I had been a church organist in one of my past lives and asked if I’d be interested in subbing at his church. I visited Christ UCC last Sunday, met their organist and it looks like she’ll be happy to have a reliable sub to call in when she needs a break. The services are still traditional and that’s just what I’m looking for! The church is a small one and reminds me of Concordia Lutheran-Missouri Synod when I started working there back in 1987. Anyway, I had figured I was done with the church-music work after 2011, and I was as far as the Lutherans were concerned. (okayokay, Redeemer did try to seduce me back, but Concordia Not) I did do some subbing, and UCC churches were the only ones who called me! Since Casey’s retirement, I haven’t been available much, so it’s been 3-4 years since I played for a church. I’m pretty excited about it. I got up in the attic and brought down my old music, marked up with the dates and services for which they were played, and felt like I was opening an old diary. I’m so excited to play all those sweet tunes again, and very grateful for muscle memory.

On a somber note, Wink is just going downhill every day, drooling, incontinent, sleeping, although he eats well and does not seem uncomfortable. At 18 — 88 in cat-years — he could hang on for a while, but he worries me a lot. We’ll be gone for ten days in early October, down to Disney World with Jr’s family. Usually Michael takes care of Wink – and Wink dearly loves him — but he’ll be with us. I just need someone to come over and feed him his wet food, (we leave out a ton of dry food), make sure he’s got enough water, etc. talk to him if he feels like it, and just check on him… We’ll have to see how the next five weeks go, but if you could help, let me know, thanks.

Have a Great Week! Don’t miss a chance to make someone smile!


Late Report

It’s been a busy week here at Sonnystone Acres… If that sounds familiar, you may have been a fan of Prairie Home Companion and Garrison Keillor’s stories from Lake Wobegone. Since we began our week celebrating our 42nd Wedding Anniversary, I thought I’d share this blast from the blog-past from 2010, the year we went up to Conner Prairie Amphitheatre and enjoyed a lovely performance of Keillor’s “Summer of Love Tour”.

(Again, I apologize for the no-caps thing, I was just too lazy back then and I’m still too lazy now to go in and capitalize correctly…it was a phase I was going through, forgive me.)

a lovely 30th anniversary

we didn’t get in any hurry to sit in the sun before the concert sunday evening up at conner prairie.  other folks were staking out the down-front seats, but we stopped over at a local brewery, drank a bighorn blonde and ate a hamburger, took the leftovers with us as a picnic lunch.  we were rewarded for our nonchalance by snagging a picnic area directly in the middle top—no sweaty bodies close by and the bathrooms were close, too.  and we enjoyed the show so much, listened to the news from lake wobegon and caught up with guy noir, sang tons of love songs and took some fun pictures. 

fred newman, the sound effects guy and mr. keillor

Garrison Keillor is one of my idols, a writer/storyteller who does talk a little slowly, it’s true, but who creates characters who you feel you know, or are.  he and sara watkins, fiddle player singer, walked about the audience for about half the show, him making up lyrics to songs as he walked based on what he was seeing the folks do.  i’m proud to say that he included me in one of them, singing of “the lady with the pink shirt strolling down the aisle to take pictures”.  

garrison keillor and sara watkins

it was, after all the Summer Love Tour, and during the drive home the medley of  “can’t help falling in love with you/unchained melody” was stuck in my head—happily.   i’m ready for another 30 years…..

We didn’t go anywhere this year, but we did build a campfire and roasted some dawgs and mellows and agreed completely that we are about as happy as an old married couple can be. I wrote about it this way nine years ago when we celebrated Anniversary #33:

It was 33 years ago today that Casey and I took our vows.  They were the traditional “have and hold, for richer and poorer, in sickness and health, as long as we live” stuff.  As Melissa and I walked down the aisle, I couldn’t have even imagined 33 years…

There are very few pictures of the event…the “photographer” was a friend who borrowed her brother’s fancy 35mm camera and loaded the first roll of film wrong.  I thought she was kidding when she told me the next week…but she wasn’t.

I remember it clearly and dearly:  it was so hot and humid that I couldn’t stand outside for more than 5 minutes without sweating through my dress.  We didn’t have air-conditioning in our house, so I went over to church early to cool off.  It was only family and some of our very best friends.   Donna had a nice reception for us afterward at her house.   Sadly, it seems like most of the people who were there are now dead…

And the last 33 years?  Well, it’s not been exactly fairy-tale sweetness, but we’ve laughed more than we’ve cried.   As we’ve shared our everyday lives, growing up and growing old, we have become Us…and I really like Us.

The News from Sonnystone Acres, August 15, 2013

Hope your week is a good one! Don’t miss a chance to make someone smile!


Camp Sonnystone 2022

We’ve been having camp for a solid 10 years now, can you believe it? The grandies were so little, one not-yet-born, and we were go-go-go to the zoo, the museum, New Harmony, Henderson fests, downtown extravaganzas, and movies. Back then, Melissa would ship Emma here for a month, usually in June; once Eliza was about 3, she came, too. Melissa would show up and stay a week, a couple of times we went to Disney at the end of their visit. Irish Dance began to take up more of their time (National competitions are always July 4) and the visits were moved to two weeks, end of July-first weeks of August.

We’ve all gotten older now and our time together is more precious. The highlight of the New Yorkers’ visit is the morning run to Donut Bank for strawberry milk and French crullers, with the evening bed-time ice cream snack a close runner-up. The grandies changes have been faithfully recorded on the wall as they grew, but there’s so much more to them than their height and that growth can only be observed, as each year two different kids visit me, though still powered by the same sweet souls I have always known.

Of course, we painted birdhouses and canvases, shucked corn and snapped green beans for a picnic, but our Big Project was to restore our old Signs. The older Words had seriously faded, so we used some bright markers to bring them back alive…

Here’s an example of how faded they had become…

Ten Signs, ten years of growing hands and important Words…

You have to take the funny face pictures…

I’ve got more pictures for the movie and I’ll be working on that, but the house and gardens have required my attention. While the kids were here, we had a big storm that blew down several large tree limbs and one large tree. Casey has the limbs cleaned up, but the trees were old and it will take a while.

In the meantime, Now the weather is perfect and outside is where I’ll be…


Day at the Races

It’s been such a busy week here and I’m not at all prepared to give you the details, but I wanted to check in and share our traditional photo from Ellis Park.

PawPaw, Samantha, JoJo, Emma, Eliza, Nova at the track, 2022

By the Way, I’m a real loser this year — I’ve only won Once this entire season!!! Oh, well, we’re all having fun!

The Jose Gals are here until Friday and we’re pretty booked up, but there’s always room for More. Call or text if you’d like to visit…


They’re almost here!

The New Yorkers, sans Eric, are driving even as we speak, due to arrive later tonight for the next 11 days!!! We are soo Ready, but I saved a few chores for today — make up some cucumbers-in-vinegar, a tomato salad.

It is so gloomy outside, but cool, so I’ve trimmed basil, and cleaned up the tomatoes and cukes which have started yellowing with powdery mildew — all this rain!!! There is so little to show for our efforts at this time, but there’s a second wind of flowers on the bell peppers, a couple of canteloupes and cukes. Still no sign of zucchini, but we should get a couple of yellow squash while the girls are here, and the green beans are plentiful. The jury is out on the tomatoes…maybe a second wave???

We are filling our Peace/Bird Garden hummingbird feeders every 3-4 days and it’s a blast to watch the tiny birds fuss and fight with each other. I caught a peaceful trio this morning while my camera was handy.

I’ll be reporting in as Camp Sonnystone begins, so clear your calendar for my scintillating updates. Oh, please call if you’d like to visit!



For weeks now, it seems to me, I’ve been doing a whole lot of nothing — unless you call being sick doing something, which I do Not. I confess, that is my usual Summertime Mode, and I am quite good at it. I shuffle through the a.m. requirements of feeding the cat and drinking several cups of tea, but that’s nothing, really. Then I check the old email and wade through ads and newsletters, finally getting up and dressed, then back to the computer to obsess on Harry and Meghan, then outside to the back porch, down to Shady Grove, back up to the house and sit around and watch some YouTube, then fix some lunch, maybe get in the pool and float around, then back to the back for a siesta, then up and fixing supper, then more walks around the house and back to the TV for something boring so I can go to sleep…and on and on. Meanwhile, Casey’s out fixing something, or building something, just generally being creative and productive, even in sweltering heat, which seriously aggravates me. Stop and Rest with me! He does stop occasionally, but he’s just not good at doing nothing, no talent for it at all.

I made a river rock circle around the Shady Grove firepit!

Soon enough I’ll be doing something: The New Yorkers will be here next week! What’s next week? I dunno. Melissa stays maddeningly vague about their Estimated Day of Arrival, but I could now clean the dang house, wash up the sheets, plan some meals, and take inventory of my Camp Sonnystone stock. We have this year’s hand sign ready for their touch. I’m playing “The Gettin’ Ready Rag”! Our Camp Word for 2022 is Grateful.

I think we could safely plan some parties and performances for after August 1, working around weather and camp activities. I look forward to seeing our friends and family, so give me a call/text so we can make plans.

I’m sooo excited to Do Something!


I’ve been sick since Wednesday, flat out on the couch both Thursday and Friday, finally somewhat upright yesterday. My little brain has been doing the Nursing Process since the onset of symptoms — that is Analyze, Diagnose, Plan, Implement, Evaluate — and as I’ve analyzed the hell out of the illness, I have no diagnosis. Isn’t everything Covid now? It’s not a cold (what happened to our old familiar rhinovirus?), but the body aching is reminiscent of flu. The coughing could be either/or, low-grade temp same. After my #3 vaccine, I was sick for a day, and somehow this feels the same, only with lots of coughing/snot. I’m calling it Covid because I want to finally face this thing I prepared for all these years…

Even though the diagnosis is iffy, the Plan is the same, so I implemented decongestants, cough drops, tylenol, plenty of fluids. The most important treatment, for me, is to lie down with a box of tissues at hand, and let my body do its healing thing. Our immune systems are wonderful and hats off to mine for its valor and ongoing dedication to my well-being. I still feel rundown, and definitely brain-fogged, as if I’ve been gone for a while, but I have rallied, so I’ll evaluate the Plan as a winner and carry on.

It’s been rainy, a good time to be stuck on the couch, and of course the gardens love it…

(I didn’t realize that I had the long lens on my Nikon when I shuffled off to get these pictures between rains, but it’s an interesting change of our usual view…)

The Edible Garden

The Peace/Bird Garden

The Jose’ Family is moving into a new apartment even as we speak…err, write. Their new place has a large terrace and I’m excited to help Melissa plant and grow a nice garden. They still plan on visiting here at the Acres in a couple of weeks, so I’m gearing up for Camp. I’ll let you know as soon as I know when they’ll be here and we’ll plan parties!

Take care of yourselves! Watch out for mystery viruses!


Back at the Track

Ellis Park, home of thoroughbred racing, opened Friday, but the torrential rains and subsequent humidity kept us away. Today felt humid to me, but there was a nice breeze and we sat in the shade. All of the turf races were moved onto the dirt, so horses were scratched like crazy — there were only four horses in the first race. I was griping, not really feeeling any of the horses/jockeys/names, so sure enough, I lost every bet. When I am not feeeling it, there’s nothing to be done, so I only bet three races ($6) and we came on home. I’ll be going back on Friday and hopefully I can sync in…

But there’s so much more to the races than betting my $2 show wager–

exciting races run by beautiful horses

and fine company…

Lana and Charley met up with us, and they were actually winning…

I must remember to take flat Ronna next time to bring me luck…

It looks like a beautiful week ahead for us; hope it’s just as nice in your neck of the woods…


In the Garden

Sorry for my absence, but I’ve been caught up in the World of Irish Dance, on the edge of my seat for the North American Irish Dancing Competition that was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada this year. Emma placed #5 in the U16 group and Eliza placed #17 in the U11 pack. The Jose’ family, consisting of my daughter, Melissa, and son-in-law, Eric, as well as the two EE’s are having the time of their lives and it’s sweet to see.

In the meantime…the garden grows on…

What you don’t see — the bloopers, if you will — are this year’s fails. It seems all of our zucchini plants are boys, so no zucch forthcoming; something broke/ate the bottom stem of one of the canteloupe plants (we have three back-up); after a dozen nice sweet peppers, there is no sign of bloom or fruit. But, we’re feasting on tomatoes, brought in a couple of pounds of potatoes, and will soon have a bumper crop of cucumbers and green beans. I think we’re in the black…

The Shady Grove…a good place to stop…